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“praise and honour and glory will be ascribed, even to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever." “Look then for this glorious period, and haste unto it," as the consummation of all your hopes, and the completion of all your joysu: and by adding virtue to virtue, and grace to grace, ensure to yourselves an entrance, not like that of a mere wreck, but like a ship in full sail, even an abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ*."] u 2 Pet. iii. 12.
x 2 Pet. i. 5, 10, 11.
THE SAINT PLEADING WITH GOD. Ps. xxv. 6, 7. Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy
loving-kindnesses ; for they have been ever of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions : according to thy mercy remember thou me, for thy goodness' sake, O Lord.
AT what precise period this psalm was written, is not certainly known; but probably about the time of Absalom's rebellion. It is evident that David's sorrows were very greata : but those which appear to have pressed with the greatest weight upon his mind arose from a view of his past transgressions, and probably from that flagrant iniquity committed by him in the matter of Uriah'. His mode of pleading with God is that to which I propose, in a more especial manner, to draw your attention, because it affords an excellent pattern for us, in all our approaches to the throne of grace.
Let us notice,
He desires God to“ remember the tender mercies and loving-kindnesses” with which he had favoured him in times past. Now this is almost the last petition which we should have expected from a person mourning under a sense of sin, because the kindness of God to us forms one of the greatest aggravations of our sins. God himself made this the ground of his complaint against his people of old: “What could I have done more for my vineyard, that I have not done a ver. 16, 17.
ver. 11, 18.
in it? and wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes ?” But David had a just view of God's tender mercies: he regarded them as pledges of yet richer blessings in reserve for him: and in this view his request deserves particular attention. God's mercies are the fruits of his electing love
[God dispenses his blessings to whomsoever he will. He has a right to do so: for there is no creature in the universe that has any claim upon him. As well might the devils complain of him, for not giving to them a Saviour, as any of us complain of him for not bestowing on us the grace which he imparts to others. In what he does, he consults his own glory alone: and, however rebellious man may arraign his counsels, he will be eternally glorified in all that he has done: it will all be found" to his praise and honour and glory” in “ the day which he has appointed for the revelation of his righteous judgments.” David was sensible of his obligations to God in this respect. He traced all his mercies to their proper source, the eternal counsels of the Deity; who had vouchsafed them to him, not for any righteousness of his, either seen or foreseen, but" according to his own purpose and grace, which had been given him in Christ Jesus before the world began." He saw that “God had loved him with an everlasting love," and therefore with loving-kindness had he drawn him to the actual enjoyment of his favour.]
In this view they may be regarded as pledges of future blessings
[God is unchangeable, no less in his counsels than in his perfections. In no respect is there with him “ any variableness, or shadow of turning." "His gifts and calling are without repentance.” Hence, if he remember his former mercies, he will continue them. “He will not forsake his people for his great name's sake, because it hath pleased him to make them his people.” He has said, “I will never, never leave you; never, never forsake you":" so that, if we have indeed experienced his loving-kindness in our souls, we may dently hope that he will carry on and perfect his work within usi:" for a whom he loveth, he loveth to the end k.”
Here, then, we see what was in the mind of David when he urged this petition. He had found consolation from this thought in the midst of the deepest distresses. When tempted, c 2 Tim. i. 9. d Mal. iii. 6.
e Jam. 1. 17. f Rom. xi. 29. g 1 Sam. xii. 22. h Heb. xii. 5. i Phil. i. 6.
k John xiii. 1.
on one occasion, to think that “God had cast him off, and would be favourable to him no more, but had in anger shut
up his tender mercies, so that his promise would fail for evermore," he “ called to mind God's wonders of old time,” and thus composed his mind, and assured himself that his fears were groundless, the result only of his own infirmity!." In any troubles, therefore, which we may experience, we shall do well to look back upon God's mercies of old, and to take encouragement from them to cast ourselves upon him, for the continuance of them.]
Let us next observe,
Sin, in whomsoever it is found, is most offensive to God
[God "cannot look upon iniquity without the utmost abhorrencem," both of the act itself, and of the person who has committed it. Hence, when he forgives sin, he “blots it out, even as a morning cloud, which passes away, and is no more
God has put it altogether out of his own sight; he has “ cast it behind his back"," “ into the very depths of the sea P," from whence it shall never be brought up again. If it were remembered by him, he must punish it: and therefore, to those who turn unto him, and lay hold on his covenant, he promises, that “ their sins and iniquities he will remember no more!")
On this account David deprecates the remembrance of his sins
[He specifies, in particular, " the sins of his youth,” which, though committed through levity and thoughtlessness, were displeasing to God, and must entail his judgments on the soul. Little do young people think what their views of their present conduct will be, when God shall open their eyes, whether it be in the present or the future life. They now imagine that they have, as it were, a licence to indulge in sin, and to neglect their God. They conceive, that serious piety at their age would be premature and preposterous; and that, if they only abstain from gross immoralities, they may well be excused for deferring to a later period the habits that are distasteful to a youthful mind. But these are vain and delusive imaginations. God views their conduct with other eyes. He admits not those frivolous excuses with which men satisfy their own minds. He sees no reason why the earlier part of life should be consecrated to Satan, and the dregs of it alone
1 Ps. xlii.6. and lxxvii. 6-11.
m Hab. i. 13.
n Isai. xliv. 22.
be reserved for him. He demands the first-fruits as his peculiar portion; and if the first-fruits of the field, much more the first-fruits of the immortal soul. O! my young friends, I entreat you to reflect how different God's estimate of your conduct is from that which you and your thoughtless companions form; and how bitterly you will one day deprecate his remembrance of those sins, which now you pass over as unworthy of any serious consideration.
But David adverts also to the transgressions which, through weakness or inadvertence, he yet daily committed. And who amongst us is not conscious of manifold transgressions in his daily walk and conversation? Who is not constrained to say, “Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord :" “if thou shouldest be extreme to mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand ?" Thus, then, let us also implore God to blot out our sins from the book of his remembrance, that they may never appear against us in the day of judgment, and, “ if sought for” with ever so much diligence, may never, be found "."]
Let us mark yet farther,
God's dealings with him—
[Mercy is the favourite attribute of the Deity: it delights to spare the offending, and to save the penitent. It is ready to fly at the call of guilt and misery; and hastens to execute the dictates of God's sovereign grace. It demands no merit as the price of its blessings: it accounts itself richly recompensed in bringing glory to God and happiness to man. Hence David prayed, “ According to thy mercy, remember thou me!" When speaking of God's interposition between him and his persecutors, he could say, “ The Lord hath rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands hath he recompensed mes.” But he would not presume to make his own righteousness the ground of his hope towards God. For acceptance with him, he would rely on nothing but mercy, even the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. Herein he has set us an example which we shall do well to follow: in all our addresses to the Most High God, we should adopt his prayer,
“ Deal with thy servant according to thy mercy." There is solid ground. Thither the most holy of the saints must come; and there the vilest sinner
may rock whereon to stand with confidence before God. With such a ground of hope, David could approach his God, and say, “ Be merciful unto my sin; for it is great!"] r Jcr. l: 20. s Ps. xviii. 20.
t Ps. cxix. 124.
From “ the goodness of God, too,” he derives his only plea
[David well knew that God is most glorified in those exercises of mercy which most display his sovereignty and his grace. Hence he desired that God would have respect to his own honour, and shew mercy to him for his goodness' sake. Thus must we, also, take our arguments from the perfections of our God; and have all our hope, and plea, and confidence in him alone.)
To this I will only ADD,
[We all have need to come to God precisely in the manner that David did. We have no more worthiness in ourselves than he. If judged by any thing of our own, we can have no hope whatever. We must stand precisely on the same ground as he, and urge the very same pleas as he. Our first, and last, and only cry must be,
Mercy, good Lord, mercy I ask ;
This is the total sum :
O let thy mercy come u! 2. Let us take encouragement from the acceptance which he found
[His sins, great as they were, were all forgiven. And when did God ever reject the prayer of faith? To whom did he ever say,
“ Seek ye my face in vain?” Read the whole of the fifty-first psalm, and let it be a model for your supplications, day and night. Then shall your prayer come up with acceptance before God, and your seed-time of tears issue in a harvest of eternal joy.]
u See the Lamentation of a Sinner, at the end of the Liturgy ; and compare Ps. li. 1.
MEEK DOCILITY INCULCATED, Ps. xxv. 9. The meek will he guide in judgment; and the
meek he will teach his way. THE necessity of a revelation is universally acknowledged: for no man could possibly know God's will, unless God himself should be pleased to communicate information respecting it from above.
But the necessity for any divine influence upon the soul, in order to a due improvement of a revelation already