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THE LORD TAKETH PLEASURE IN THEM THAT FEAR HIM, IN THOSE THAT HOPE IN HIS MERCY.
PSALM CXLVII. 11. Come, ye little ones of Zion, lift up your heads, and listen to the voice of your heavenly Father, the Great Eternal. Come ye of " little faith," whose minds are wearied with anxiety and the harassing of Satan ; ye who are the subjects of doubts and fears respecting your interest in the precious Jesus. Yes, if thy soul be concerned about this, he is THY Jesus; for thou never wouldst have felt thy need of him, if he had not given thee spiritual life : the dead cannot feel. “ The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.” And will Jehovah condescend to take pleasure in man? Yes, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. What, in all the posterity of Adam the first ? No, but in all the seed of Adam the second, the Lord from heaven. And who are they? How may we know them? By two things; they “fear the Lord," and "hope in his mercy.” It is true they are by nature the offspring of Adam the first; that they fell in him ; that they themselves “ have sinned and come short of the glory of God;" that they were, in times past, dead in trespasses and sins. But Jehovah foreknew them ere time began; marked them for his own; saw them complete in Christ their Head ; and, in due time, at the appointed moment and place, he, by the power of his Spirit, called them into life ; taught them their state by nature-their need of Jesus; and enabled them to “fear the Lord,” and “hope in his mercy." These are the souls in whom the Lord taketh pleasure ; and yet, how many of these precious ones are, at this moment, lying in some “horrible pit” of darkness, or sunk in the "miry clay” of their own depravity ; writing bitter things against themselves ; Satan telling them that their case is so bad—that they are so far off from God by wicked works, that the arm of mercy is not long enough to reach them-accusing them of sinning against light and reason-attacking them at every point-using all his power and artifice to drive them to despair. But in all this fierce flict, though the temptations be many and strong ; though they walk in darkness that may be really felt; though the heavens appear like brass, through which their dim eye of faith cannot see; though their prayers appear unanswered, and all seems conspiring to add to their misery ; yet, still they cleave to the Lord: in all this they cannot bear to hear the dear name of Jesus used lightly ; still they fear him ; still they hope in his mercy; and are, sometimes, obliged to cry out, “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” Now, my dear brethren, you that are weak in faith, is not this exactly the case with many of you? Methinks I hear you say, “Yes, and I often think that I am only a painted hypocrite after all, and fear that I shall one day perish!” Ah, beloved, these are the suggestions of Satan, who was a liar from the beginning. Don't believe a liar! Can you believe a liar? You would not believe a man whom you knew to be a habitual liar ; and you know, by expe
THE LORD TAKETH PLEASURE IN THEM THAT FEAR HIM.
rience, that Satan is such, Don't believe him, then.. Put thy trust in the Lord, and he shall deliver thee. "The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy," "Ah! but I am doubtful whether I do fear him," says Little Faith, Come, then, beloved, let us reason together, and see if thou dost or not. What is here understood by fear ? Not terror: it consists in two things, love and reverence. Do you not love God? “I don't think I do," says a trembling soul. Do you love the brethren ? “Yes," say you, and dearly too." Well then, see, it is written, "Every one that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him," Then, beloved tried ones, if you love the brethren, you love God and the things of God. Do the world delight to be in the company of those who love God? Would they like to be always with them ? No: but you, I know (for we have all the same spirit), would like to be, as the brethren of old were, of one accord, and daily in the temple praising God. This proyes your love of God. None can love, or even understand, the things of God, but those that are taught of God; and the love of God and the love of the brethren always go together.. Again ; do you mot reverence him ? Do you not feel a holy awe when entering into his presence ? Are you not, more or less, impressed with a sense of his holiness and majesty ? And, when he graciously deigns to lift up the light of his countenance, and smile sweetly upon you, does not your heart go out “hard after God” in filial affection ? Have you not, when he has sent down pardon and peace to your guilt-burdened soul, been so melted in contrition, and so filled with astonishment, reverence, and love, that you have laid at his feet in such a blessed state that none can describe, that none can know but by experience? Do you not love his commandments, and desire to live, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? Do you not desire to be enabled to love and glorify him more? “Yes." Then you fear the Lord, and he “ taketh pleasure " in thee, But let us descend still lower; for there may be some who may not be able to subscribe to the evidences now before them ; some who have only just begun to live ; some who have just been led to a knowledge of their ruin and their need of Jesus; some who are crying out, “What shall I do, to be saved ?" and some who are praying, waiting, and hoping—praying as the poor publican did, “God be merciful to me a sinner ; hoping to obtain the mercy sought, because Jesus hath said, " Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you;' and, "whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will give it you;" waiting on God in the closet and in the house of prayer ; waiting, expecting to receive the manifestation of that mercy by the ministry of the Spirit. Blessed state ; thou art safe for glory, whoever thou art. Thou wouldst never have either prayed or hoped, had not the Spirit Jehovah breathed the breath of spiritual life into thy soul; but, as he has done so, thou art now hoping in his mercy, having thy hope grounded upon an all-sufficient Jesus, and the immutability of his promises. Then thy hope is a good hope, and it is given to thee by God, through grace; he loved thee, planted hope
within thee, “ and hope maketh not ashamed ;" for “ the Lord is nigh unto all that call upon him, that call upon him in truth." ." He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him, he will hear their cry and will save them.” “The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy." Yes, the Lord taketh pleasure in his children'; they are his delight, as he has said, “ My delights were with the sons of men.” When the Queen of Sheba had heard and seen the wisdom, riches, and glory of Solomon, she was filled with admiration and wonder, and was constrained to cry out, “ Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delightetn in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel; because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore he made thee king, to do justice and judgment." Now, apply this to our Jesus, and it will read thus :-“ Blessed be God the Father, which delighteth in Jesus his Son, to set him on the throne of his spiritual Israel ; because the Lord loved his church with an everlasting love, therefore he made Jesus King, to do justice and judgment." And as the Father loves Jesus and delights in him, he also delights in every hoper in his mercy; for they are one with him ; which Jesus acknowledged, when he said to the Father, “That the world may know that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me;" and then he says, “ Thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." Then you, my dear trembling brethren in the Lord, were loved by God before the foundation of the world. Once more, and I close. Thy God has promised that he will delight in thee for ever ; " Thou shalt be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed desolate; but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah; for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married." “ Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure (will and purpose) to give you the kingdom." * 9d0aee' .
John. Sv. Unina ito syly unit ;' Bu are involl terlyd med THOUGHTS ON PSALM XXXVII. 4. !!
Delight thyself in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” 690 Winx
The desires of thine heart!” Then who would not delight themselves in the Lord ? “Who will show us any good ?" is in the heart and the mouth of all the butterflies of the earth; “The desires of our hearts will we have,” is the practical language of thousands : but, dear brethren and sisters in Christ, if the Spirit of truth hath indeed shown me the meaning of this blessed passage of God's word, the promise connected with the command hath respect to that joy and peace begun in time and completed in glory, which passeth all human understanding, and with which no stranger can, by possibility, intermeddle.
Fully convinced am I, that even some of the Lord's own dear family are permitted to experience fleshly disappointments in their petitions to, and expectations from, their heavenly Father ; through the lack of a thorough spiritual perception of the meaning of God the Holy Ghost inz nome or other passaget similar to that before us. It must be, con: fessed, that oftentimes the anxious desires of the people of God with respecti to temporal matters prove, when granted (as they isometimes are), sad hinderances; yet, alas! after all, who among us, though, mayhap, painfully experienced of this truth,"can say, in all that concernsjus, without any reserve or hankering after our own wills, wishes, and hopes,id Thy will be done?” Still, surely this would be our wisest, safest, and happiest frame, and one which some may fancy they possess, until they are called to endure some long-continued, exceedingly pain ful dispensation; or have some much longed-for, fancied good withheld. 1: Doubtless, there are times and seasons when the tried ones of Israel are enabled to cast their all into their Father's hands,l without reserve, desiring him to dispose of them and theirs as seemeth him good z land, lif I mistake not, when brought to this state of complete resignation, deliverance is nigh at hand. May the blessed Comforter of his tried ones lead my poor feeble understanding aright, while I record what He permits * I. On the command, “ Delight thyself in the Lord." .. -3 7:52 1: II. On the promise, “He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."
It must never be forgotten, in our reading of the sacred volume, that no' command, connected with a promise, is ever addressed to the worlds; and well satisfied am I, that it is utterly impossible for an unenlightened person to read the portion before us, with any wish to obey it without totally misinterpreting the meaning thereof, None either will, or can, delight themselves in the Lord, who have not been brought out of -nature's darkness and ignorance into spiritual life anda light oibut as soon as this irresistible change is wrought in the heart, then the idesire is towards God, his holiness, and his saints. Then a degree of joy and peace, according to the measure vouchsafed, flows into the heart, and a sense of pardoning love sealed home on the conscience, brings the soul from the stern demands of the law to the full-grace Gospel of Jesus Christ; and by this way only, whatever non-essential livery he may wear, can any son or daughter of fallen Adam delight himself in the Lord. Buț, this admitted, say, brethren and sisters in this wondrous covenantasye who have thus entered even into the holy of holies, and, being swashed
in the blood of the Lamb, have come with filial boldness to the throne "of grace, and welcome met-have ye not delighted yourselves in the Lord ? and has not (what matchless love and condescension !) your God and Saviour delighted himself in you, his people ? . ."Yg *. Again : have bitter sorrow, trial, and, perhaps, persecution for the
truth's sake, been your portion? Have you carried your troubles to " the Lord, and, like Hezekiah of old, spread the taunts and the threat"enings cast upon you before him, together with false accusations, opprobrious epithets, and so forth, which worldlings have heaped upon you ? and hath he not said to your souls, in a way you could not mistake, “ Fear not, I am with thee; be not dismayed, I am thy God ?." "And have you not come from the throne as strong as lions ; the loins of your minds girt up, and your whole heart delighting in the Lord ?
-1Again: have your minds been led sweetly to contemplate the majesty of your God, as exhibited in his handiworks? Have you beheld the heavens or the earth in their natural loveliness, and traced a Father's hand in all ? 'Yes; and in the true confiding love of his child have you felt, “ This (great) God is our God, and he will be our guide even bunto, death.". Then here again have you delighted yourselves in the Lord, 1In these, and many other such like exercises, does the true sainty in the very midst of the fires of persecution and heart-rending -sorrows, through the gracious leadings of the Holy Ghost, delight him
self in the Lord.. . . 19 What, then, is the promise? “He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." It must not be asserted or implied that our temporal wants are to be omitted in our prayers : on the contrary, it is the great privilege of the people of God to make known their wants of every kind ito him ; but we are so totally incompetent to judge what circumstances will promote the glory of God in us and our own welfare, that I believe those Christians who are enabled most fully to delight themselves in the Lord, in the manner described above, will have few, if any, requests of a mere temporal bearing, which, in comparison with spiritual soul-breathings after communion with God, freedom from sin, and ther joys of glory, can deserve to be called the desires of their fheartsgi and most fully am I persuaded (as hinted before) that such souls /aş do attach an undue temporal meaning to this and such like promises of God's word, will oftentimes have to mourn over their ileanness, instead of possessing abiding peace, love, joy, and assurance. Religion is a spiritual concern, and our Master hath told us his kingsdom is not of this world ; for, though godliness hath the promise of the Hife which now is, as well as that to come, yet seeing, as we do, that, sordinarily, the Lord's people are placed in lowly estates in this world, and are peculiarly an afflicted people; and, moreover, bearing in mind that, the great. Captain of their salvation is pledged to bring all safe home by the right way" at last-it is not to be supposed that this promise has respect to such earthly matters as we, in our ignorance, may spassionately desire, and which the Lord may, in infinite wisdom and Hove, deny us. The desire of our hearts, then, dear brethren and sisters in Christ Jesus, must be to commune with our heavenly Father as reconciled to us through the blood of the covenant, and with each other as fellow-heirs of eternal life; to acknowledge, with supreme grátitude, ' every mercy enjoyed, but chiefly to magnify his grace exhibited in the swondrous scheme of salvation, and our part or interest therein ; to seek chis guidance in every dilemma, and the constant influence of his Holy -Spirit to restrain the body of sin within us ; to look forward to that -glorious day when, free from sin, sorrow, and sighing, we shall see our Saviour face to face, and be presented by him faultless before the throne of his glory with exceeding joy. If this be our blessed experience, most "assuredly shall we have our desires fulfilled ; we shall be guided by edehovah's counsel through time, and then received into his glory. Amen.) que en Staffordshire.
W. H. Y.