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and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. Moreover, it shall come to pass that I shall do unto you as I thought to do unto them.”* It is one thing to suffer our enemies to remain unmolested, and another to commiserate their existence.
There are seasons when the christian, overdone with continual opposition, is ready to yield himself to the love of ease, and, relaxing in his opposition and vigilance, permits the enemy to gain some advantages; but if he hopes thereby to procure lasting tranquillity, he is greatly mistaken. There is that irreconcilable hatred between the principle of grace and the principle of corruption, between the new and the old man, Christ and Satan, that nothing is gained by an attempt to compromise their differences, or amicably to adjust their claims.
Our spiritual enemies are never capable of being softened by indulgence, of becoming neutral, much less of being converted into friends. They will be incessantly plotting our destruction, and watching for our unguarded moments, in order to catch every possible advantage of us; and the only safe way is [for us also] to be always on the watch, always distrustful of them, and hostile.
The people of Israel might have rid themselves much more completely of their enemies, had they availed themselves more diligently of their first advantages. Afterwards their enemies were suffered to remain for their trial.t
* Numb. xxxii. 55, 56, &c. † Judges ii. 2, 3, 21—23.
VII. The people were dismayed at the report of the spies : a lively resemblance to the conduct of too many who set out towards the heavenly Canaan, but in the contest suffer themselves to be dismayed.
ON THE LAW OF GOD IN THE HEART. Psalm xxxvii. 31.—The law of God is in his heart; none of his
steps shall slide. The temporary prosperity of the wicked, has in every age afforded a trial to the faith and patience of the righteous. Often are they doomed to behold the contemner of God “flourishing like a green bay tree,” abounding in sensual pleasures and luxurious enjoyments, and elated with pride, as though the world were made only for them; while such as fear his name are crushed under the rod of power, and subjected to the greatest privations and sufferings. Such is the scene of providence, a scene which appears to have given birth to the composition of this psalm, in which the impatience and discontent which such a spectacle is apt to occasion is corrected, the brevity of the worldly prosperity of the wicked is foretold, and the final happiness and triumph of the righteous is asserted. The (righteous] are assured
of the powerful protection of the Supreme Being, whose favour they at present enjoy; whose wisdom is continually, though invisibly, operating in securing their future good. “ The Lord loveth judgement, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever : but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever.”*
In opposition to the transient prosperity and the fugitive pleasures enjoyed by the wicked, the righteous are distinguished by the possession of permanent principles and unfading prospects. He is upheld by an invisible, but abiding power, and his character and conduct partake of the unchangeableness which belongs to his interior principles : “ The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.”
By “the law,” in this passage, it is probable we are to understand the word of God in general, with a particular reference to the preceptive part, in the same sense as it must undoubtedly be taken throughout the 119th Psalm. The preceptive part forms so essential a branch of every system of revelation, that it may with great propriety impart its peculiar name to the whole, agreeably to which even the gospel is denominated “the law of faith.”+
These words present us, first, with a view of the internal principle which actuates a good man—“ the law of God is in his heart;” next, with its effects
Psalm xxxvii, 28, 29. † Rom. iii. 27. VOL. v.
on his external character and conduct,-“ none of his steps shall slide.”
I. The inward principle which actuates him: “ the law of God is in his heart.” This implies,
1. An acquaintance with the law, considered as the standard of holiness, as the rule of action. A precept may be known, which is not obeyed; but it is impossible it should be obeyed, when it is not known. Nor will ignorance of the will of God excuse the disobedient; since such ignorance must be voluntary, the consequence of “ loving darkness rather than light.” The time is long past when such a pretence might have been urged with some plausibility. That period is elapsed when it was necessary for men “ to feel after God,” like persons who grope in search of an object in the dark. “ The day hath dawned, the day-star hath arisen,” the light of revelation shines with a brilliant effulgence, and the path of duty [is] made so plain, that the “wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.”* When ignorance of the will of the Great Supreme arises from inattention, from carnal security, from a passive indifference whether he be pleased or displeased; instead of mitigating, it aggravates the guilt of disobedience. “ They are a people,” saith the prophet, “of no understanding : therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, he that formed them will shew them no favour.”+ How different is it with the good man! “ As the * Isaiah xxxv. 8.
+ Isaiah xxvii. 11.
eyes of servants look unto their masters, and the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so his eyes wait upon the Lord;" that he may attend to his directions and receive his orders. Conscious that he is made for God, he carefully explores his will, and he “meditates on his law day and night.”
By a careful perusal of the sacred volume, by diligently weighing and pondering the precepts of revelation, he is constantly enlarging his conceptions of duty, and arriving nearer and nearer to a full and perfect comprehension of the spirit and import of its sacred injunctions. His fear of God is not taught by the commandments of men, stands not in human observances and will-worship, but in a solid acquaintance with the dictates of inspiration. Hence the service he presents is a reasonable one, the offspring of an enlightened faith, such as it is becoming man to offer, and God to accept.
By seriously applying the mind to the exhortations and injunctions of the sacred page, a good man arrives at a “ quick understanding in the fear of the Lord,” and his senses are “ exercised to discern between good and evil.”
2. The man of God is distinguished by an habitual (reference] to his mind and will. He is not merely acquainted with it as a branch of speculation, which serves to extend his knowledge, and to recommend itself to his understanding, while it seldom mingles with the ordinary current of his thoughts; it is not merely deposited in that