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had not announced it to us. And this is the very view in which David himself speaks of it in another psalm : “ Blessed be the Lord, my strength, my goodness, and my fortress ; my high tower and deliverer; my shield, and He in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me. Lord, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him; or the son of man, that thou makest account of him o?"]
2. The comfort which man derives from this view of the Deity
[Every one, the meanest as well as the greatest of men, knows what is comprehended in the idea of a “ habitation.' It requires no stretch of thought to grasp it: the image is familiar to every mind; and presents itself in all its bearings to every one that has felt the blessings of civilized society. But if we suppose a person to be under the pressure of heavy affliction, whether from the persecutions of men or the assaults of devils, what a comfort must it be to him to contemplate the wisdom, the power, the goodness, the mercy, the love, the faithfulness of Almighty God; and to hear him saying, “Come, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut the doors about thee, and hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast d !” how joyfully will he“ hide himself in the secret of this tabernacle ;” and, like the manslayer that has got within the city of his refuge, lift up his soul in adoring gratitude to God, and look with exultation on his disappointed foe!
The more we contemplate the sentiment that is here propounded, the more we shall see occasion to admire the condescension of our God, and to congratulate man upon the high privilege which is thus accorded to him.]
But it is not as an abstract sentiment that this truth is declared : it is embodied in a petition that is presented to God himself: and therefore, to view it aright, we must contemplate, II. The petition urged
That it is such a petition as every one will do well to offer, will appear, if we mark, 1. The wisdom of it
[Every man has enemies to encounter; nor can any one encounter them in his own strength. But we have a vantage ground to which we may repair, a fortress that is absolutely impregnable. In our God we have not only a wall, but "a wall of fire; " which, whilst it protects his people, will devour their assailants. With such a habitation open to us, would c Ps. cxliv. 1-3.
d Isai. xxvi. 20.
it not be madness to neglect it? Should we not rather resort to it continually,” yea, and abide in it, that we may enjoy the safety which is thus provided for us? If, indeed, there were any other means of safety, an option would be left us : but not all the powers of heaven and earth can save us, if we turn our back on God, to rely upon an arm of flesh. God has said, “ Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm: but blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord ise." To every one, therefore, I would say, Flee to your mountain, that the flames overtake you not; and “ look not back in all the plain, lest ye be consumed '."] 2. The piety of it
[David renounced every other hope but that which he had in God. Nor, indeed, did he wish for any other; because he saw that God was all-sufficient for him. He saw in God a sufficiency of grace to receive him, of power to protect him, of love to supply his every need; and hence it was that he was emboldened to offer the petition which we are now contemplating. In truth, without such views of God, no one would ever think of addressing him in such terms as these. There must be a just knowledge of God's character, with suitable affections towards him, else we could never entertain such a desire as is here expressed: it is this apprehension of his excellency that could alone inspire a wish to make him, even his very bosom, our continual resort. But all who have these views of him will unite in that grateful acknowledgment, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations &.'] ADDRESS
1. Those who have never yet had these views of God
[Truly, you are greatly to be pitied. For who amongst you can hope to escape all trouble, when it is said that “we are born to trouble as the sparks fly upward?” And whither will you go, when enemies assail you? where will you flee for refuge? or in whom will you find the aid which you will stand in need of? Alas! your state, whatever it may now be, will be terrible beyond expression. You will resemble the host of Pharaoh, who found at last that the God with whom they had presumed to contend was mightier than they. On the other hand, “ acquaint yourselves with God, and you shall be at peace,” both now and in the eternal world.]
2. Those who have resorted to him under this character
[Hear what the Psalmist says concerning you: “Because thou hast made the Lord, who is my refuge, even the Most High, thy habitation, there shall no evil befall theeh.” Truly, “his name is a strong tower, to which you may run at all times, and be safei:" and whatever
e Jer. xvii. 5-8. f Gen. xix. 17. 8 Ps. xc. 1.
circumstances may be," he will be to you as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary landk." Enjoy, then, the exalted privilege which is here vouchsafed unto you. And let there not be a day, or an hour, wherein you do not resort to God under this endearing character, dwelling in him, abiding in him, and finding in him all that your necessities can require.]
h Ps. xci. 9, 10. i Prov. xviii. 10. k Isai. xxxii. 2.
THE KING'S ACCESSION, Ps. lxxi. 7–9. I am as a wonder unto many: but thou art
my strong refuge. Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day. Čast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.
THIS day being called The Jubilee“, it will be proper to inform you whence that name is given to it. By the Mosaic law, every seventh year was a sabbatical year, or year of rest. At the end of the seventh sabbatical year, that is the 49th, there was a year of universal rest, not to the land only, but to persons of every description : debtors were released, captives liberated, and inheritances restored. This was, as might be expected, a season of peculiar joy. The connexion between that day, and this which we now celebrate, is only in the time, the grounds of joy being altogether different. We are called to celebrate the fiftieth year of our Monarch's reign. On this account, I have chosen a subject which I consider as appropriate to the occasion. The psalm before us was written (we apprehend) after Absalom's rebellion. In discoursing on that portion of it which we have read to you, it will be proper, 1. To consider it in reference to David
Absalom being dead, and the rebellion suppressed, David finds himself firmly seated on his throne; on which occasion,
a Oct. 25, 1809.
1. He acknowledges the mercies he had received
[He felt himself most peculiarly circumstanced: his trials had been great, and his deliverances most extraordinary. His hair-breadth escapes from Saul, and afterwards from foreign and domestic enemies, were very numerous
He had recently been even driven from his throne by his son Absalom, the partisans of whom were ordered to direct their efforts exclusively against him: yet from this danger also had he been delivered so that he seemed to all to be under the peculiar protection of Heaven. His mind too had in all these trials been wonderfully preserved from any thing vindictive, or unworthy of his high character. On all these accounts he was “ a wonder unto many."
There was indeed a reason for these mercies, which his enemies had no idea of: “ he had made God his refuge." When persecuted by men, he betook himself to prayer, and “encouraged himself in God." Thus, under all circumstances, he had “ God for his glory and defence.”] 2. He makes a suitable improvement of them
[He renders thanks to God for his past favours.- In this the Psalmist was so exemplary, that he seems frequently to breathe almost the very language of heaven itself
In this too he is distinguished from almost all other saints: others abound in prayer, but he in praise
He next prays for a continuance of these favours.--He well knew that he could no longer be safe than whilst he was under the care of the Almighty; and that now in his advanced age he needed, if possible, more than ever the guidance and protection of Heaven Hence he prayed that God would " not cast him off in his old age, nor forsake him when his strength failed him.”]
Such is the import of the passage. Let us now, II. Accommodate it to the circumstances of this day
Well may we at this time acknowledge the mercies of God to us
[Our king may truly be said to be “ a wonder unto many, ” whether we consider the length, or the prosperity, of his reign. Twice only, within the space of a thousand years, monarch of ours reigned so long as to see a jubilee kept on his account. And if we consider the state of the world, it is truly wonderful, that, after so many difficulties as we have encountered, we should stand so eminent among the nations. Some indeed are fond of representing us as in a distressed and fallen state. But let such persons compare us with all the other nations of Europe, and they will see, that, whilst all of them have fallen a sacrifice to the politics or arms of France, we are as rich and potent as at any period of our history. That we have burthens to bear, is certain: but it is very unfair to ascribe them to our governors. They have arisen out of the circumstances of the world around us; in which we were of necessity involved; and from which we could no more disengage ourselves, than we could exempt our nation from the physical motion of the globe.]
We should also make a similar improvement of them
[Many are the grounds which we have for praise and thanksgiving: and our mouths may well “ be filled with God's praise all the day.” On this day especially we are called to manifest our gratitude both in a way of spiritual, and, if I may so speak, of carnal joy. Some, in their zeal for spiritual joy, forget that we consist of body as well as of a spiritual part; and that in the Scriptures we have numerous instances of national gratitude expressed by the combined exercise of spiritual and carnal joy. Such was that holy feast which David himself, together with his people, kept, not long after he had written this psalm". And it is truly gratifying to think, that, through the benevolence of the rich, all the poorer classes of society are enabled to participate, in a more than ordinary measure, the bounties of Providence, and to share in the general joy.
Yet have we also peculiar need of prayer. At this moment our enemy is disengaged from other contests, and enabled to direct all his force against us. Our own government also is unhappily disunited, and our aged king begins to find “his strength fail him.” What, in such a state, shall we do, if God forsake us? We have need to pray unto him “not to cast us off.” Our prosperity hitherto has doubtless been in a great measure owing to this, that we “have made God our refuge.” Both king and people, when compared with other nations, have been exemplary in this. Let us continue to seek Him more and more: and then, whatever be our state on earth, we shall keep an eternal jubilee in heaven.]
b 1 Chron. xxix. 20-22.
SALVATION A GROUND OF JOY.
Ps. lxxi. 15. My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof.
PERHAPS, of all mankind, no one person ever experienced more signal deliverances than David. In his early life he was exposed to the most imminent