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same violent assaults. From God himself too must we occasionally experience the hidings of his face, and the chastisements of his rod: for, “What son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?" But in our troubles we must imitate our blessed Lord, and spread them before our heavenly Father “ with strong crying and tears.” The proper language for us is that which was used by him" And, as far as our afflictions proceed from men, we must meet them with patience and resignation, or rather, I should say, with returns of kindness and love. We should be ready to “ restore that which we took not away," and to render good for evil, till we have “overcome evil with goodo." Doubtless this is a difficult and arduous task: but it is one which will be richly recompensed in the performance of it, and will be highly approved of our God in the last day?. We
may indeed, notwithstanding such conduct, be constrained to “pass through deep waters;" but our God will be with us in the midst of them, and bring us through all our tribulations to a state of eternal blessedness and glory'.]
n ver. 13-18. o Rom. xii. 20, 21. p Matt. vi. 14. 9 Isai. xliii. 2. r Rev. vii. 14, 15.
HUMBLE SOULS ENCOURAGED.
Ps. lxix. 32, 33. Your heart shall live that seek God. For • the Lord heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners.
SWEETLY encouraging are the records of God's people, as contained in the Sacred Oracles. We see their complaints exactly agreeing with those which we ourselves are constrained to utter. We see with what confidence they betook themselves to prayer ; and how wonderfully their efforts were crowned with success; and how pleased God himself was with magnifying his grace and mercy towards them: and from all this we derive encouragement, at once suited to our necessities, and sufficient for our wants. Behold the experience of David in the preceding context: “I am poor and sorrowful.” (This accords with what is felt by every contrite soul.) And to what has he recourse? To prayer; and with an enlargement of heart which we should scarcely have expected to see: “Let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high !” (It is thus that we also should pray; not being straitened in our petitions; but “opening our mouths wide, in order that they may be filled.") And now mark the success of his prayer: behold, without the delay of a moment, he is enabled to add, “ I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.” (Such is the success which we also may hope for, if we pray in humility and faith.) And was God displeased with this holy boldness ? No: David adds, “ This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs,” yea, better than the cattle upon a thousand hills. Now mark the improvement we are to make of this : “ The humble shall see this, and be glad : and (whoever ye be) your heart shall live that seek God; for the Lord heareth the poor (wherever they may be found), and despiseth not his prisoners,” however low or abject their condition.
Now, to encourage you, my Brethren, from this example, I will proceed in the simplest way imaginable, and not with any artificial arrangement), to address you on the subject before us. I trust that many of you are “ seeking after God"
[It can scarcely be, that after having so long had the Gospel faithfully ministered unto you, there should be the same indifference amongst you as in the ignorant ungodly world. I hope and trust there is amongst you some desire after God, some hope in the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, and some endeavour to flee from the wrath to come
And, if you are seeking him aright, God promises that “ your heart shall live”
[Doubtless it is necessary that you seek after God in earnest : for “ the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent must take it by force.” You may seek to enter in, and not be able:" you must therefore not only seek, but “ strive.” Moreover, you must strive in God's appointed way. To win a race, you must not only run, but run lawfully;" that is, agreeably to the laws prescribed for you: and the only way by which any of you can succeed, is, by renouncing all dependence on yourselves, and founding your hopes altogether on the Lord Jesus Christ, even on his meritorious death and passion, as an expiation for your sins
Now, if you are indeed fleeing to him for refuge, you shall assuredly find mercy of the Lord, or, as my text expresses it, “your heart shall live.” This expression deserves peculiar notice. The heart of an unawakened man is dead, and senseless as the nether millstone. The Gospel, with all its alluring promises, may be proclaimed; but he feels it not: it has no allurements for him; nor do its denunciations of judgment excite alarm. But let a person begin to seek after God aright, and “a new heart will be given to him, and a new spirit be put within him.” “ The heart of stone will be taken away, and a heart of flesh” be substituted in its place. Then will all his views, desires, and pursuits, become changed: being alive to God, he will be alive to all holy exercises, and find his happiness in the enjoyment of his God. This is the explanation which the Psalmist himself gives of the expression in another psalm: “ They shall praise the Lord that seek him; your heart shall live for evera.”]
Nor let any one be discouraged on account of his poverty
[The poor of this world are not less regarded by Jehovah than the rich. And those who are spiritually poor, are objects of his peculiar care. Not one such person will he ever overlook. Though surrounded by myriads of holy angels, he will not suffer them to attract his attention in comparison of a poor and contrite soul. No: “ Unto this man will I look," says he, “even unto him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at my word.” There is not a sigh which such an one utters, but it is heard by him, and is as music in his ears: and every tear he sheds is treasured up by him in his vial. But, not to rest on mere assertions, let us look at an example. In the Prophet Jeremiah, we find a poor mourning penitent, just such an one as we are speaking of; and there we may see in what light he is viewed by God: “ I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus: Thou hast chastised and I was chastised as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely, after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.” Now hear what God says to all this : " Is Ephraim (that is, Is not Ephraim) my dear Son? Is he not a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: yea, my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord b." This shews what favour the poor shall find in his sight; and gives the full explanation of those words, “ The Lord heareth the poor."]
a Ps. xxii. 26.
b Jer. xxxi. 18-20.
Even though a person should feel himself like a prisoner under actual sentence of death, let him not despond
[It is in hell only that men are prisoners of despair : whilst they are in this world, the worst amongst them is only a
prisoner of hope ; and to such there is a special promise from God himself: “ Turn you to the strong-hold, ye prisoners of hope : even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto you.” Whatever your deserts of judgment have been, God will award to you a “double” measure in a way of mercy. God even condescends to assume this as his own character, whereby he may be known, even as clearly as by his works of creation, or the dispensations of his providence. Lord God is he who made the heaven and earth, the all that therein is: who keepeth truth for ever: who executeth judgment for the oppressed; who giveth food to the hungry. The Lord loseth the prisoners: the Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth up them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous a. To them in a peculiar manner he had respect in the gift of his Son; as our Lord himself has said : “ The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor: he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted; to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lorde.” Only conceive of a poor wretch that has wasted all his substance, and sold himself for a slave, returning in an instant, at the sound of the trumpet, to the enjoyment of liberty, and of all his possessions; and then you have a just view of God's dealings with the most abject prisoners of hope, the very instant that they call upon him. Let every one, then, take courage, however desperate his state may appear: for this is the true character of Jehovah; and such he will approve himself to be to all who come to him in his Son's name.] And now let me ENTREAT you all to seek him with
[“ Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.” O beloved Brethren, “ seek ye the Lord, while he may be found; call ye upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon"."]
c Zech. ix. 12.
d Ps. cxlvi. 5-8.
THE CHRISTIAN'S FRAME OF MIND. Ps. Ixx. 4,5. Let all those that seek Thee rejoice and be glad in
Thee : and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, Ő God : Thou art my help and my deliverer : O Lord, make no tarrying.
THIS psalm is entitled “A psalm to bring to remembrance.” What were the things to which David more especially referred, we do not certainly know. The whole psalm, with only a few verbal alterations, is taken from the 40th Psalm, of which it forms a part; and it seems to have been separated for the purpose of being used by David on some particular occasion, to which the former part of that psalm was not applicable. It served to bring to his remembrance some special deliverances : and for a similar end it may well be used by us. We have many who would exult in our destruction, even as he had: and we may well desire that all their efforts may be frustrated, and their expectations disappointed. On the other hand, we should desire the prosperity and happiness of the Lord's people : and be earnest with God in prayer, that we ourselves may“ participate the felicity of his chosen, and give thanks with his inheritance.” Our past trials and deliverances should all be brought to remembrance for this end; and be made subservient to our own advancement in the divine life, and to the glory of our God.
From the words before us, I shall, I. Point out to your notice that frame of mind which
the Lord's people are privileged to enjoyShort is the description given of the Lord's people; but it is amply sufficient to distinguish them from all other people upon earth. “ They seek after God, , and love his salvation.” The great mass of mankind live without God in the world. And of those who seek him, there are few who love the salvation" set before us in the Gospel. As for those who seek him in ways of their own devising, they have no claim to