« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
assault, even at the peril of her own life: (This shews the tender interest which Jehovah will take in our welfare, and the efforts he will make in our behalf.) The last is that of the attendant Angel (the Angel of the Covenant), who accompanied the destroying angel through the whole land of Egypt, and stepped forward, wherever he saw a blood-besprinkled door, to prevent him from executing his commission there : and so effectually constrained him to "pass over” the houses of the Israelites, that, whilst in every house in Egypt the first-born of man and beast was slain, not one of either was slain in any house belonging to the Children of Israel: (This shews the efficacy with which Jehovah will espouse our cause.) Now then what have we to fear with such a Protector? Let men or devils combine against us, we need not give ourselves one moment's concern. Under all such circumstances, the Psalmist's language should be ours: “God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble: therefore we will not fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God; the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most High: God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved : God shall help her, and that right earlyy." In a word, we may “ cast all our care on Him who careth for us?;" assured, that, “if we only make God our refuge and habitation, no evil shall befall us a.'] APPLICATION
1. Search then into your privileges, that you may have the true enjoyment of them
[Think of people in a besieged city: with what delight would they view the towers and bulwarks which they had reason to believe no enemy could destroy! And will not you, who have the Lord himself for
defence ? Consider the representation which he gives of himself, as a broad river, so broad that it cannot be passed but in boats; yet so tempestuous, that no small vessel can live upon it; and so full of rocks and shoals, that no large vessel can navigate it b; which consequently, being impassable, secures to you, under all circumstances, the most perfect tranquillity: consider this, I say, and tell me, whether you ought not to be ever rejoicing in your God? I would that all of you should be fully acquainted with your privileges; and that you should be frequently “walking about Zion, and telling her towers, and marking well her bulwarks, and considering attentively her palaces” in which you are lodged and feasted from day to day; that so you may be happy in your own souls, and “God may dwell in you,
y Ps. xlvi. 1-5.
z 1 Pet. v. 7.
you thus dwell in him!” For, if you thus "know in Whom you have believed, and that He is able to keep that which you have committed to him," you cannot but be happy: since he has expressly said, " I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is staid on me, because he trusteth in med."]
2. Search into them, that you may make them known to the rising generation
[We should not be contented to be happy alone, but should desire as far as possible to diffuse happiness all around us. To the rising generation in particular we are bound to transmit the benefits which we have received. The knowledge of salvation is a sacred deposit committed to us for that very ende It is scarcely to be conceived how much more profitable to young people the preached Gospel would be, if they were well instructed at home. We teach our children what shall conduce to the advancement of their worldly interests; and shall we neglect the welfare of their soulst? - - In particular, let us endeavour to impress their minds with the knowledge of God, and his perfections; of Christ, and his offices; of the Holy Spirit, and his operations; that so they also may have God for their God, and their guide, and their portion, for ever and ever.]
c 2 Tim. i. 12. d Isai. xxvi. 3. e Ps. lxxviii. 5-7.
f If this were the subject of a Sermon for a Charity School, or Sunday School, this idea should be considerably enlarged.
THE FOLLY OF WORLDLY MEN. Ps. xlix. 13. This their way is their folly : yet their pos
terity approve their sayings. IT is generally supposed that wisdom pertains chiefly, if not exclusively, to those who are profi-. cients in arts and science: but learning and wisdom are by no means necessarily connected with each other: they may exist separately, each in a high degree: and, in fact, there is nothing more common than to behold persons of the most extensive erudition acting the part of fools in God's sight, whilst persons destitute of all human acquirements are
walking wisely before him in a perfect way.” Wisdom, properly viewed, is a conformity of the mind and will to the mind and will of God; and it
exists precisely in proportion as this conformity exists: the resemblance is wisdom, the deviation folly. Hence we see why David, at the commencement of this psalm, calls, in so solemn a manner, persons of every age and quality to attend to his instructions; and professes to teach them lessons of the profoundest wisdom, when there is not any thing recondite, or any thing uncommon, in the whole psalm. . The truths contained in this divine ode are level with every capacity, and therefore might seem to be improperly ushered in with so pompous an introduction : but they are at the root of all practical religion; and they draw a broad line of distinction between those who are wise, and those who are unwise, in the estimation of their God.
The whole subject of the psalm will come properly before us, whilst we consider,
I. The way of worldly menIt may naturally be expected, that “they who are of the world, should speak of the world,” and seek it as their most desired portion: and they are described as doing so in the psalm before us.
They are altogether engrossed with earthly things
(Worldly distinction is the one object of their ambition. For this end chiefly both wealth and honour are pursued. Having attained these things in a considerable degree, they bless themselves, as possessing somewhat wherein they may trust", somewhat that will make them happy for a long time to come, and somewhat that shall transmit their names to posterity as worthy of admiration - -] But “this their way is their folly”
[Wealth and honour are far from affording the satisfaction that is expected from them: they will not ward off sickness and death, either from ourselves or others d: nor can they follow us into the eternal world. The moment we die, as very speedily we all must, nothing of them remains to us but the fearful responsibility attached to the possession of them. Instead of " profiting us in the day of wrath," they will rather augment our final condemnation, if they have not been improved for God as talents committed to us. In the parable of
the Rich Man and Lazarus we behold the bitter consequences of living only to the flesh: the man who has his good things in this life, will want in the eternal world a drop of water to cool his tongue: " he will never see light,” but be consigned over to the everlasting regions of darkness and despairs. We wonder not therefore, that the man, who, because he had gotten much, thought of nothing but his temporal enjoyments, “ Soul, take thine ease," is by God himself derided as a fool: “ Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee."]
Yet, such is the influence of example, that, notwithstanding the folly of such conduct is visible to all, the same is pursued by every succeeding generation
[No one who considers for a moment the issue of such conduct to those who have gone before them, can doubt the folly of it: for, whatever rank or station men held in this life, or whatever may be said of them now they are gone, what remains to them of their wealth or honour, or what enjoyment have they of their posthumous fame? If we extol them ever so high, they feel no satisfaction; and if we condemn them ever so harshly, they are unconscious of either shame or pain: they are interested in nothirg but in the quality of their actions as approved or condemned by their Judge. This we all know; yet no sooner have we a prospect of wealth and honour ourselves, than our desires are as ardent, our expectations as sanguine, and our dependence as unqualified, as that of any who have gone before us. The conviction of their folly only floats in our imagination, but never descends as a principle into our hearts. We see and blame their folly; yet approve in practice what in theory we condemn.]
As contrasted with this, let us consider,
In verse 15, the Psalmist gives us that precise vie of the subject which he had before characterized as replete with wisdom: “God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave; for he shall receive me;" that is, Whilst worldly men have no prospects beyond the grave, I look forward to a happy eternity, which shall be the portion of all who truly serve God. Hence then we see what way true wisdom prescribes : it teaches us,
1. To regard this world in its connexion with eternity[View this world as the whole state of man's existence; and they speak well, who say, “ Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” But this world is a mere passage to a better; it is an inn, at which we sojourn for a night, in our way to a better country. A person tarrying only for a few hours is not greatly elated, if his accommodations be good; nor greatly depressed, if they be bad. He considers, in either case, that it is not his home; that his comfort or discomfort is very transient; and that it will be time enough to look for unmixed enjoyments, when he shall have reached his Father's house. Moreover, this world must be considered as a state of preparation for a better; every thing that is done here being an occasion of increased happiness or augmented misery to all eternity. In this view of the world, every pain and every pleasure acquires a new aspect. The things that are so highly prized by ungodly men lose their value; and every thing is esteemed good or bad, according as it quickens or retards us in our Christian course. Hence true wisdom says, “ Love not the world h," “neither be of iti;” but “ be crucified to it, and let it be as one crucified to you k."]
8 ver, 19.
2. To follow the footsteps of the saints of old
[There are those who have gone before us, whose ways were not folly, though they might be esteemed foolish by those who were themselves blinded by Satan. “ Abraham went out from his kindred and his country, not knowing whither he went?:” Moses refused all the wealth and honour that Egypt could afford, that he might participate in the lot of God's persecuted and despised peoplem: many saints “ took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, knowing that they had in heaven a better and an enduring substance:” Matthew left his lucrative employment to follow Christo: Paul suffered the loss of all things for Christo; and after having engaged in the Christian course, attended to nothing but his progress in it, straining every nerve to win and secure the prize. All of these would be thought by the world to carry religion to a very culpable excess: but they acted with consummate wisdom, each in the part he took: they all “ chose the good part, which could not be taken away from them." Let any one who reflects on the present state of these eminent saints, say, whether “ their way was folly?" If it was not; if, on the contrary, it accorded with the dictates of true wisdom, then let all not only
approve their sayings,” but imitate their doings also, and be followers of them, as they were of Christ.") ADVICE
1. Guard against the influence of bad exampleh John ii. 15, 16. i John xvii. 14, 16.
k Gal. vi. 14. 1 Heb. xi. 8.
m Heb. xi. 24–26. n Heb. x. 34. o Matt. ix. 9. p Phil. iii. 8.
9 Phil. iii. 13, 14.