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the merciful, the pure, thou wilt shew thyself upright, and merçiful, and pure; but with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward,” or, as it is in the margin, “thou wilt wrestle." “ Thou wilt save the afflicted people (i. e. the humble); but thou wilt bring down high looks.” If we walk uprightly and circumspectly before him, and in a humble dependence on his grace, there is not any thing which he will not do for us: but, “ if we regard iniquity in our hearts, he will not hear us. Inquire, then, whether you are really " keeping the ways of the Lord,” and are “ keeping yourselves from your iniquity," that is, from the peculiar sin to which, by constitution, by habit, or by your situation in life, you are most exposedy. I charge you, before God, that you all make this a matter of serious inquiry. The “ besetting sin," ah! it is that which separates between God and our souls; it is that which “keeps good things from us.” How many are there, who, whilst they make a profession of religion, are yet, by their unmortified lusts, or worldly desires, or slothful habits, or by some habitual evil, provoking God to depart from them! Beware lest it be so with you; and "grieve not the Holy Spirit of God whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” You may grieve him, till you altogether a quench” his sacred motions. We entreat you to be upon your guard against this so fatal an evil. “Keep your hearts with all diligence:” yea, “ give all diligence to make your calling and election sure. Then shall God delight himself in you, and be not only your present portion, “ but your everlasting great reward."]
EXCELLENCY OF GOD'S WORD. Ps. xix. 7-9. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the
soul : the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple: the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the hcart : the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes : the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever : the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
GOD has not left himself without witness even amongst the most unenlightened heathens. His works testify of him : the heavens and the earth declare his eternal power and godhead. They speak silently indeed“, but intelligibly, to every child of
a ver. 3. The words printed in Italics are not in the original.
man; so that idolaters of every name are absolutely without excuse. Wherever the light and genial influence of the sun extend, there is God proclaimed as an infinitely wise and gracious Being. have a richer source of instruction opened to us : we have a revelation, which, whilst it proclaims the existence and attributes of Jehovah, makes known to us his will, and points out the path in which we may approach him with a certainty of acceptance : and so extensively was that published by our Lord and his Apostles, that it might be said, even in that age, “ Their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.” It is of this written word that David speaks in the psalm before us : in which are set forth, I. Its parts and properties
The various terms here used to designate the word of God, may be considered as directing our attention to all the different parts of that word; each of which has, annexed to it, an appropriate epithet of commendation
[“ The law of the Lord” is in the marginal translation called, “ The doctrine of the Lord;” and it may be understood as including under one general term all that is afterwards more particularly specified: and it is so “perfect,” that nothing can be taken from it, or added to it, but at the peril of our soulsa
--"The testimony of the Lord" is "the Gospel of the grace of God,” even the witness which God has testified of his Son.” It is “ the record that God has given of his Son, namely, that in him is eternal life; and that he who hath the Son, hath life: and he who hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” Now this is “sure," so sure, that it may be relied upon with the most implicit confidence: “it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners h.". -“. The statutes of the Lord” are those ordinances, which God appointed under the ceremonial law to shadow forth all the glorious mysteries of the Gospel, and which right for the time then present; though, since the introduction of the clearer light of the Gospel, they are abrogated as burthensome and unnecessary. Not but that there are
b Rom. i. 19, 20.
Compare ver. 4. with Rom. x. 18. e Acts xx. 24. f 1 John v. 9. h 1 Tim. i. 15.
some still in force, such as the Sabbath, and the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord's Supper. And these may well be called “right:" for who can doubt the propriety of a certain portion of our time being dedicated to the especial service of Him to whom we owe our very existence? or who can question the suitableness of those easy and instructive rites, whereby we are dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ at first, and afterwards commemorate from time to time the wonders of his dying love? mandment of the Lord” is the moral law, in which we are taught, in what way we are to serve and please our God. And this is “ pure,” and “ holyi:" it is given to regulate, not our words and actions only, but the inmost thoughts and desires of our hearts. It is indeed "exceeding broadk,” extending to every motive and principle of the mind, yea, to every inclination, affection, appetite of the soul, and requiring the whole to be in a state of constant and entire conformity to the will of God. “ The fear of the Lord” we consider as another name for the Holy Scriptures, only putting, as is frequently done, the effect for the cause! The word of God, as inculcating and exciting the fear of the Lord, is “ clean;" its one object is, to cleanse and purify the souls of men. Hence our Lord says, “ Now ye are clean through the word that I have spoken unto you m”. Moreover, the word, in this view of it, “ endureth for ever," since its operation is uniform to the end of the world; and the purifying effects produced by it, will continue through all eternity. “The judgments of the Lord” are his warnings and threatenings; which though questioned by men as false, or condemned by them as unjust, are yet “true and righteous altogether." We are very incompetent judges of the demerit of sin, or of the conduct which God, as the moral Governor of the universe, has thought proper to pursue: but we are assured, that, when he shall inflict on the impenitent the judgments he has denounced against them, all his intelligent creatures will exclaim, " True and righteous are thy judgments, O Lord God Almighty!" " just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints !")
• The com
As the different terms which we have considered
i Rom. vii. 12.
k Ps. cxix. 96. | The author would be understood to speak this with diffidence, because he is not aware that any commentator has put this construction on the words : but he considers any other interpretation as unsuitable to the context. Something similar occurs Gen. xxxi. 42. where God is called, “ The fear of Isaac;" where not the act, but the object, of Isaac's fear is spoken of. If this sense be not approved, the reader may understand the words as signifying, The worship of God.
m John xv. 3. Compare also Eph. v, 26.
are not so definite in their import but that they admit of different interpretations, we shall wave the further consideration of them; and, comprehending them all under one general term, · The word of God, we shall proceed to notice, II. Its use and excellence
It would occupy too much time to enter fully into this subject : let it suffice to notice those particular uses which are mentioned in our text. The word then is of use, 1. To illuminate the mind
[Previous to the application of the word to the heart by the Holy Spirit, we are in utter darkness: but “the entrance of God's word giveth light.” Truly it is a “marvellous light that we are brought into,” when our eyes are opened to discern “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ”
Nor is it the learned only who receive instruction from it: it is intended more especially for the poor. There is something in the Gospel which tends rather to offend the proud, but is most palatable and delightful to the humble. Hence we are told, * It maketh wise the simple.” What astonishing views of God, of Christ, of the human heart, of the evil of sin, of the beauty of holiness, of the felicity of heaven, have many unlettered persons attained! Yet it is in the knowledge of these things that true wisdom consists: and this knowledge is imparted to all who embrace the Gospel, in proportion to the simplicity of their minds, and the devotedness of their hearts to God. These are “ the things,” which, as our blessed Lord informs us, "are hid from the wise and prudent, and are revealed unto babes." Without such a special illumination of the mind, the most learned philosopher cannot comprehend them"; and by such an illumination the most untutored savage shall be “made wise unto salvation."] 2. To convert the soul
[Truly, “the word is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.” It is “ the rod of God's strength,” even that wonder-working rod, which subdues all his enemies before him. “ Like fire it melts; and like a hammer, it breaketh the rock in pieces." See its effects upon the three thousand on the day of Pentecost! such is its operation, wherever “ it comes in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” It humbles the proudest spirit, and subdues the most obdurate heart to the obedience of faith. Nor is it to the adoption of new principles only that it brings the soul, but to the acquisition of new habits; so that it becomes set on Christ and heavenly things, as once it was set on self and earthly things: it assimilates the soul to Christ as the great exemplar, and “ changes it into the divine image, from one degree of glory to another, by the Spirit of our God.”] 3. To rejoice the heart
n 1 Cor. ii. 14.
[Ignorant men imagine that the application of God's word to the soul is productive only of pain and sorrow: but those who have ever “ tasted of the good word of life” have found, by happy experience, that it fills them “with joy and peace in believing,” yea, “ with joy unspeakable and glorified.” The word is to them the charter of all their privileges, and the map of their everlasting inheritance. As an heir peruses with delight a will in which great wealth is unexpectedly bequeathed to him, so the Christian finding in every page of the sacred volume his title to all the blessedness and glory of heaven, how can he but rejoice in such records? how can he but concur with David in saying,
They are more desired by me than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb?] We may LEARN from hence, 1. Our privilege
[If it was the highest privilege of the Jews, that “to them were committed the oracles of God,” much more are we distinguished, who have the writings of the New Testament superadded to those of the Old. Let us learn to estimate this privilege aright. Let us remember, that in this blessed volume is contained all that can be needful either for the instruction of our minds, or the salvation of our souls: and, whilst we enjoy this inestimable blessing ourselves, let us labour by all possible means to communicate it to others---] 2. Our duty
[We should " search the Scriptures daily,” “ digging into them as for hid treasures," and praying earnestly to God, that he would“ open our understandings to understand them.” We should look to them as the ground of all our hopes, and the rule of all our conduct. To study the book of nature will be well: but to study the sacred volume with prayer will tend to our highest perfection, and will “ thoroughly furnish us unto every good word and work."]