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our Lord Jesus Christ: the unconverted man knows it not: he has not a heart attuned to it. He may feel somewhat of gratitude for temporal mercies; but for the communication of spiritual blessings he cannot render any cordial thanks, because he never has received them, nor ever felt his need of them. Jeremiah might be sensible of his obligations to Ebed-melech for deliverance from the dungeon, because he had a deep consciousness of the peril and misery from which he had been rescued : but without that consciousness all professions of gratitude for such a deliverance would have been absurd. And so, till we are sensible what a horrible pit we have been taken out of, we can never have our mouth filled with praises and thanksgivings to our redeeming God. But this ardent love to God and holy delight in him invariably spring out of a manifestation of God's mercy to the soul. David would praise his God every day, and all the day long: and it should seem that the greatness and the multitude of the deliverances vouchsafed to him, disposed him, beyond all other of the sons of men, to pour out his soul in acclamations and hosannahs to his God.]
What then is, III. The improvement we should make of his expe
rienceSt. Paul tells us, that the mercy vouchsafed to him was intended by God for the instruction and encouragement of others; for their instruction—that they might know how great was the long-suffering of God; and for their encouragement—that they, from so glorious an example of mercy, might learn to expect the same. Thus David, speaking of this experience of his, says, “ Many shall see it, and fear, and shall put their trust in the Lord.” From his experience then we may learn, 1. To use the same means
[We are not to say, David found mercy of the Lord, therefore I may expect the same at all events; but, therefore I may expect the same in a diligent use of the same means. David feared; and therefore I must " fear;" I must fear the displeasure of my God: I must fear lest I be left in the horrible pit, and sink for ever in the mire of unforgiven sin. My fear also must be operative, stirring me up to earnest prayer, and stimulating me to "flee for refuge to the hope that is set before me.
The use we are apt to make of any extraordinary displays of mercy, and which many make of the mercy vouchsafed to the penitent thief upon the cross, is to say within ourselves, God is too merciful to punish men in the eternal
world: if I in a dying hour do but ask forgiveness, I also shall obtain mercy: and therefore I will not trouble myself about turning unto God, till I find, or think I find, that death is coming upon me. But let not any of us be guilty of so perverting the mercies of our God let us “not so despise his goodness and patience and long-suffering ; but let his goodness lead us to repentance." Let us say, David found deliverance by waiting patiently. I then will wait patiently also. But it was with strong crying and tears that David sought for mercy: and in that way I will seek it also. It was in these holy exercises too that he was so constant: and in them also will I be constant, and persevere unto the end, assured, that it is only by patient continuance in well-doing I can ever hope to obtain the desired benefits.] 2. To expect the same end
[We should never imagine ourselves to be in so low a state, but that God is able to deliver us from it. If, like Jonah, we were, as to our own apprehensions, “ in the belly of hell,” yet from thence we should cry to him, assured that he would hear our voice, and “bring up our souls from the pit of corruption." The state of David was as desperate as it could well be: yet from thence was he rescued, to his unutterable joy. Hezekiah also seems to have been in a similar state, and to have experienced a similar deliverance: “Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption; for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy backp.” Thus shall it be with all who will seek God in sincerity and truth, especially when, like David, they seek him through the sacrifice and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Their feet shall then be extricated from the mire, and set upon the Rock, where " their feet shall not slide," and from whence “ they shall never be moved.” And though their lives hitherto may have been spent in sighing and mourning, yet shall there be given to them “ the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” In a word, let them only pray in faith; and however “wide they open their mouth, it shall be filled!."]
o Jonah ii. 2, 6. p Isai. xxxviii. 17. q Ps. lxxxi. 10.
DLXX. CHRIST A PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. Ps. xl. 9, 10. I have preached righteousness in the great con
gregation : Lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart: I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation : I have not concealed thy loving-kindness and thy truth from the great congregation. VOL. V.
SOME of the most important prophecies are introduced in such a way as clearly to shew, that the writers of them were overruled, as it were, by a divine impulse, to speak things which they themselves did not understand. This was certainly the case with Caiaphas, who, being the High Priest, was moved by God to utter words, of the true import of which he had not the slightest conception. I think it highly probable, also, that David in this psalm had no just comprehension of the prophecy before us. The beginning of the psalm and the end of it seem to belong to David only: but here is a passage which can have no reference to him, and can be interpreted of Christ alone. To him it is applied in the Epistle to the Hebrews; the writer of which, shewing the utter inefficacy of the legal sacrifices to take away sin, refers to this psalm in confirmation of his statement; and argues from it, that God in this very passage had declared his determination to “remove” the shadowy institutions of the law, and to “establish” that which was revealed in the Gospel, even that one offering of Christ Jesus, whereby the whole world may be sanctified and saved."
The words of my text stand in immediate connexion with those cited by the Apostle : and they declare what Christ should do in his prophetic office: that as, in the capacity of our great High Priest, he should offer himself a sacrifice for our sins, so, in the capacity of a Prophet to his Church, he should “ preach righteousness and salvation” to the whole world.
In this view of the passage, I shall be led to consider it as fulfilled, 1. In the ministry of Christ himself
Our blessed Lord did not, indeed, open the truths of the Gospel so fully as his Apostles did after his resurrection : for, till after his death and resurrection, the people were not prepared to receive a full communication of all which he was commissioned to reveal. He told his hearers, that “he had many things to say unto them; but that they could not bear them then." Yet did he so far unfold the mystery of godliness to his hearers, that all future revelations of it should evidently appear to be only a continuation and enlargement of the same divine testimony
a John xi. 494-52.
b Heb. x, 4--10.
1. He traced salvation to its source, the love of God the Father
2. He referred to his own sufferings as the means whereby it was to be accomplished
3. He displayed it in all its glorious effects, the glory of God, and the salvation of man
Nor could any consideration whatever induce him to conceal within his own bosom any one truth which he was commissioned to declare.
[He could appeal to the heart-searching God, “I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.”
In every part of his ministry “ he witnessed a good confession 8 :” and, at the close of it, gave the most explicit directions relative to the truths that should be proclaimed by all the ministers of his wordh.]
This passage is fulfilled yet further,
St. Peter unfolded this great salvation both to Jewsi and Gentiles
St. Paul determined to know nothing amongst his people,
save Jesus Christ and him crucifiedi"
And we also can appeal to God that we, according to our ability, have followed his steps, “not shunning to declare unto you all the counsel of Godm c John xvi. 12.
d John iii. 16. e Matt. xx. 28, and xxvi. 26—28.
f John xii. 28, 32. He opened it fully, under the images of the bread of life, John vi. 35, 47–51. and iv. 13, 14. as also under other images, John xi. 25, 26. and xiv. 6. 8 1 Tim. vi. 13.
h Luke xxiv. 46, 47. i Acts ii. 36. and iii. 16, 19. and iv. 10–12. and v. 30, 31. and xii. 38, 39. k Acts x. 43.
11 Cor. ii. 2. m Acts xx. 27. Here the different expressions of the text may be dwelt
upon to advantage.
Let me then INQUIRE,
[It is surprising how ignorant of this great salvation many are, even after it has been preached to them faithfully for many years. But the truth is, men do not meditate on what they hear, or pray to God to impress it on their minds by his Holy Spirit: and hence, the word, like seed sown by the way-side, is taken away from their hearts, and either never springs up at all, or springs only to wither immediately for want of either root or moisture. But, my dear Brethren, you must give account to God of all that you hear, as I also must of all that I preach: and I pray God, that I may so speak, and you hear, that we may “ give up our account together, with joy, and not with grief" -] 2. What effect has it produced upon you?
[The use of the Gospel is to bring us unto Christ, and to assimilate us to his divine image. If, then, we receive it aright, we shall be able to say with Christ, “ I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy Law is within my heart"." And, as Christ hid not God's righteousness within his heart, but proclaimed it boldly “ to the great congregation,” so must you, Brethren, before the whole world be ready to confess Christ, and to follow him faithfully, even unto death. You must not only “cleave to him with full purpose of heart°,” but must “ glory in his cross, and by means of it be crucified unto the world, and have the world crucified unto youP." Let me then ask, Is it thus with your souls? Oh, " let there be in you
the mind that was in Christ Jesus?!" So shall you partake with him in all the glory and felicity which the Father has conferred upon him', and which he also is empowered to bestow on all his faithful followers $.] n ver. 8.
o Acts xi. 23. p Gal. vi. 14. 9 Phil. ii. 5. r Phil. ii. 9. s Luke xxi. 29. Rev. iii. 2:1.
DLXXI. CONSOLATION TO THE DISTRESSED. Ps. xl. 17. I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me.
THAT part of the Holy Scriptures which most fully opens the exercises of the heart is the book of Psalms. There we see a man of God unbosoming himself before his Maker, and declaring all his hopes and fears, his griefs and consolations. Sometimes he speaks in the person of the Messiah, and sometimes in his own person: sometimes his words are appli