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made us for you, is great and wise, and worthy to be praised; and you are better able to say this than we; therefore praise him on our behalf and your
Oh! he is great and mighty, he is the Lord our Maker.”
Power is also ascribed to God, which here expresses not only ability, but authority and royal sovereignty; that as he can do all things, he rules and governs all things, is king of all the world, lord paramount; so that all hold their crowns of him, and the shields of the earth belong unto God, he is greatly to be exalted"; disposeth of states and kingdoms at his pleasure, establisheth or changeth, turns and overturns, as seems him good, and hath not only might, but right to do so. He is the Most High, ruling in the
kingdoms of the children of men, and giving them to whomsoever he will', and seldom fails to pour contempt upon princes when they contemn his power. . 2. The term or endurance of this glory, is also worthy of our remark, for ever.
Even in the short life of man, men that are raised very high in place and popular esteem, may, and often do, outlive their own glory; but the glory of God lasteth as long as himself, for he is unchangeable, his throne is for ever, and his wrath for ever, and his mercy for ever; and therefore his glory for ever.
Reflection 1. Is it not to be lamented, that he is so little glorified and praised? that the earth being so full of his goodness, is so empty of his praise from them that enjoy and live upon it?
How far are the greatest part from making this their great work, to exalt God, and ascribe power and glory to his name? so far, that all their ways are his dishonour; they seek to advance and raise themselves, to serve their own lusts and pleasures, while they are altogether mindless of his glory! yea, the apostle's complaint holds good against us all, we are seeking our own things, and none the things of b Psm. xlvii. 9.
c Dan. iv. 32.
the Lord Jesus Christ. It is true, some there are, but as his meaning is, they are so few, that they are, as it were, drowned and smothered in the crowd of self-seekers, so that they appear not. After all the judgments of God upon us, how doth still luxury and excess, uncleanness, and all kind of profaneness, outdare the very light of the gospel, and the rule of holiness shining in it! scarce any thing is a matter of common shame and scorn, but the power of godliness; turning indeed our true glory into shame, and glorying in that which is indeed our shame: yet holiness is not only our truest glory, but that wherein the ever glorious God doth especially glory, and hath made known himself particularly by that name, The holy God. And the express style of his glorious praises uttered by seraphims, is, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.
Instead of sanctifying and glorifying this holy name, 'how doth the language of hell, oaths and curses, abound in our streets and houses ! How is that blessed name, that angels are blessing and praising, abused by base worms! Again, notwithstanding all the mercies multiplied upon us in this land, where are our praises, our songs of deliverance, our ascribing glory and power to our God, who hath prevented us with loving kindness, and tender mercies; hath removed the strokes of his hand, and made cities and villages populous again, that were left desolate without inhabitants ?
Oh! why do we not stir up our hearts, and one another, to extol the name of our God, and say, Give unto the Lord glory and strength; give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name'. Have we not seen the pride and glory of all flesh stained and abased! Were there ever affairs and times that more discovered the folly and weakness of men, and the wisdom and power of God! Oh! that our hearts were set to magnify him, according to that word, so d Phil. ii. 21.
e Isa, vi. 3.
f Psal. xxix. 1, 2.
often repeated in Psal. cvii. Oh! that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and his wonderful works to the children of men.
Reflection 2. But what wonder is it that the Lord loses the revenue of his praises at the hands of the common ungodly world, when even his own people fall so far behind it, as usually they do! The dead cannot praise hims. But that they whom he hath quickened by his Spirit, should yet be so surprised with deadiness and dulness as to this exercise of exalting God; this is very strange. For help of this, take the three following directions.
Direct. I. We should seek after a fit temper, and labour to have our hearts brought to a due disposition for his praises. And in this view: 1. See that they be spiritual. All spiritual services require that, but this most, as being indeed the most spiritual of all. Affection to the things of this earth draw down the soul, and make it so low set, that it cannot rise to the height of a song of praise: and thus, if we observed ourselves, we should find, that when we let our hearts fall, and entangle themselves in any inferior desires and delights, as they are unfitted generally for holy things, so, especially, for the praises of our holy God. Creature loves abase the soul
, and turn it to earth, and praise is altogether heavenly. 2. Seek a heart purified from self-love, and possessed with the love of God. The heart which is ruled by its own interest, is scarce ever content, still subject to new disquiet. Self is a vexing thing, for all things do not readily suit our humours and wills; and the least touch that is wrong to a selfiish mind distempers it, and disrelishes all the good things about it. А childish condition it is, if crossed but in a toy, to throw away all.
all. Whence are our frequent frettings and grumblings, and why is it that we can drown a hundred high favours in one little displeasure; so that still our finger is upon that string; and there is more malcontent and repining for one little cross, than praises for all the mercies we have received ? Is not this evidently the self-love that abounds in us? Whereas, were the love of God predominant in us, we should love his doings and disposals, and bless his name in all:: Whatsoever were his will, would, in that view, be amiable and sweet to us, however in itself harsh and unpleasant. Thus would we say in all, “ This is the will and the hand of my Father, who doth all wisely and well; blessed be his name.
* Psal. cxv. 17.
The soul thus framed would praise in the deeps of troubles ; not only in outward amictions, but in the saddest inward condition, would be still extolling God, and saying, “ However he deal with me, he is worthy to be loved and praised. He is great and holy, he is good and gracious; and whatsoever be his way and thoughts towards me, I wish him glory. If he will be pleased to give me light and refreshment, blessed be he; and if he will have me to be in darkness again, blessed be he, glory to his name! yea, what though he should utterly reject me, is he not for that to be accounted infinitely merciful in the saving of others? must he cease to be praiseworthy for my sake? If he condemn, yet he is to be praised, being merciful to so many others; yea, even in so dealing with me, he is to be praised, for in that he is just,
Thus would pure love reason for him, and render praise to him; but our ordinary way is most untoward and unbeseeming his creatures, the best of them, much more such worms as we are; that things must rather be to our mind than his; and we must either have all our will, or else, for our part, he shall have none of his praises.
3. Labour for that which, on these two, will follow, a fixed heart. If it be refined from creature-love and self-love, spirituality and love of God will fix it, and then shall it be fit to praise, which an unstable un. composed heart can never be, any more than an instrument can be harmonious and fit to play on, that hath loose pins, still slipping and letting down the strings, pins that never fasten. And thus are the most; they cannot fix to divine thoughts, to consider
God, to behold and admire his excellency and goodness, and his free love. Oh! that happy word of David, worthy to be twice repeated, when shall we say it? O God my heart is fixed; well might be add, I will sing and give praise". Oh! that we would pray much that he would fix our hearts; and then he having fixed them, we would praise him much.
Direct. II. If any due disposition be once attained for praises, then must the heart, so disposed, be set to study the matter of praises.
And that, 1. The infinite excellency of God in himself; which though we know little of, yet this we know, and should consider it, that it is far beyond what all the creatures and all his works are able to testify of him; that he transcends all we can speak, or hear, or know of him. 2. Look on him in his works. Can we behold the vast heavens above, or the firin earth beneath us, or all the variety of his works in both, without holy wonder stirred in us, and that stirring us up to sing praises ? Oh! his greatness, and might, and wisdom shining in these, Lord, how inanifold are thy works, in wisdom hast thou made them all. But above all, that work, that marvel of his works, the sending of his Son forth of his bosom. This is the mystery which the apostles do so much magnify ir their writings, this is the chief incentive whereby our apostle was induced to close this epistle with praise, ascribing glory to him, This praise looks particularly back to the style in the prayer, The God of all grace, who hath called us to his eternal glory by Jesus Christ. So many other mercies are not to be forgotten, but chiefly is he to be praised for that choice of mercies, to his glory, who hath called us to his glory. Then look through the work of saving his chosen, so redeemed by the blood of his Son, his maintaining his own work in them, against all surrounding enemies and oppositions; the advancing it in the midst of them, and even by those oppositions, and bringing them safe to glory; that perfecting and establishment, as in the h Psm. lvii. 7.
Psm, civ. 24.