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Another argument here urged, is that “ long“ ing” desire which the soul hath, during her state of pilgrimage below, unto the revelation of God's will. Grieved and vexed at the prospect of sin, vanity, and folly, and finding nothing below that will satisfy the desires of an immortal spirit, she setteth her affections on the better things above, which are proposed in the Scriptures as the proper objects of our wishes. Her appetite for the divine Word is keen, as that of hunger or thirst, and “hope deferred “ maketh the heart sick.” This disposition is not a transient fit, but it is constant and uniform “at all “ times.” 21. Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments. The consideration of the wretched condition of impenitent sinners, is another reason, why we entreat God to set and to keep us in the way of his commandments. “Pride” produceth “ error,” and obstimacy in that error; obstinate transgressors reject the call, the covenant, and the terms, of the Gospel; to such the “curse” of the law is ratified and sealed, and mercy consigns them over to justice, which seldom fails to give them some “rebukes” even in this world, for a foretaste to them, and a warning to others. 22. Remove from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies. “Reproach and contempt” are liberally bestowed by the world upon men who, being not of it, reprove its deeds by their exemplary conduct. These, to beginners more especially, are sore lets and hinderances in the way of duty; and, after the example of David, we may beseech God to “ remove” them from us, when we suffer them in his cause, and know ourselves to be innocent of the crimes laid to our charge. In the mean time, to comfort ourselves under them, let us remember, that HE, who alone, in the strict and unlimited sense of the words, could say, “I have kept thy testimonies,” sustained the utmost degree of “reproach and contempt” for our sakes, and was patient and resigned under it all, until God “removed” it from him by a glorious resurrection. There remaineth likewise a resurrection for the mystical body of Christ; and then, “Wisdom will be justified of all her children.”
23. Princes also did sit and speak against me: but thy servant did meditate in thy statutes.
“Princes” and rulers have often “sate” in council upon the “ servants” of God, and “ spoken,” in judgement, false things “against them,” as they did against their blessed Master in the days of his flesh. David hath taught us how to act in such circumstances. We are not to renounce the creed, or the commandments, should it so happen that “the rulers “ and the Pharisees” meither believe the former, mor observe the latter; but rather, we should “ medi“tate,” more than ever, in the Scriptures; that we may draw from thence comfort in the troubles, and direction in the difficulties, which persecution bringeth upon us; always bearing in mind, when princes command any thing contrary to the word of God, that our service is due to a higher Master; “ Thy “ servant did meditate in thy statutes.”
24. Thy testimonies also are my delight, and my counsellors.
Pleasure and wisdom, as the world hath ordered matters, are almost incompatible; insomuch that Solomon, relating the experience he had had of voluptuousness, mentions it as a thing out of the ordinary course, that “ his wisdom” all the time “re“mained with him ;” Eccles, ii. 9. But they who meditate in the word of God, find a pleasure, which hath wisdom for its inseparable companion. Their sorrow is dispelled, and their doubts are resolved. For how can he be sorrowful, who sits by the fountain of joy P. How can he be long in doubt, who hath the prophets and apostles for his counsellors 2
DALETH –PART IV.
25. My soul cleaveth to the dust : quicken thou me according to thy word. The Psalmist, in a state of affliction and humiliation, still seeketh relief, by prayer, from the Scriptures. His circumstances vary, but his affection to the word of God continueth the same. Every one, whose affections are set on things below, hath reason to exclaim with David, “My soul cleaveth to the “dust.” From this kind of death we are “quickened,” or made alive, by the Gospel, through that same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead, and which shall raise us also at the last day. Then soul and body, perfected together, shall take their final farewell of earth, and ascend to heaven, where the soul shall feel no passion but the love of God, and the body shall have no employment but to express it. 26. I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me; teach me thy statutes. We should freely and ingenuously “declare” to God in prayer for our sins, our temptations, our sorrows, and our undertakings; it argues, love, confidence, and sincerity, so to do; it is a means of acquainting us with our own state, of which gene- t rally we are ignorant; and it will not fail to procure us those aids from above, of which we stand in need. God will “hear” us; he will pardon our offences, strengthen us in our trials, dispel our grief, and prosper the work of our hands upon us. These mercies, when received, should incline us to walk worthy of them, and, for that purpose, to beg the farther instruction and direction of the divine Spirit; “I have declared my ways, and thou heardest me— “teach me thy statutes.” 27. Make me to understand the way of thy precepts; so shall Italk, or, meditate, of thy wondrous works, or, thy mysteries. The heart of the troubled Psalmist is intent upon duty, and the deliverance which he chiefly requesteth is that from ignorance and error. True knowledge cometh from God, and it cannot be too often desired of him. It is pleasant as the light, extensive as the heavens, and more profitable than the treasures of eastern kings. He who is led to “understand” the celestial “ mysteries” of the Scriptures, will never want subjects for “meditation,” and should
never permit those subjects either to slip out of his mind, or to lie unimproved in it. 28. My soul melteth for heaviness : strengthen thou me according to thy word. Let us not marvel, if sin bring us to the knowledge of sorrow, since he who “ knew no sin,” was yet, on our account, so intimately “acquainted with “grief.” In the garden, his soul “melted for heavi“ness,” and there appeared an angel from heaven “strengthening him:” Luke xxii. 43. Our transgressions deserve an eternity of sorrow ; let us not, therefore, repine at any part of it that may fall to our share in time. No, blessed Jesu ! let us suffer with thee, as both a means and a pledge of our future glorification with thee. Only “strengthen us, “according to” the promises in “thy word.” In this life, all we ask is faith and patience; faith, to assure us that thou orderest all things for the best; and patience, to preserve that faith. These were the provisions with which thy best-beloved servants of old travelled through this mortal life. Enable us, upon whom the ends of the world are come, to do the same; that so, when the days of our earthly pilgrimage shall be happily accomplished, we may sit down, with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in thy heavenly kingdom. 29. Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously. 30. I have chosen the way of truth : thy judgements have I laid before me. It is plain that “the way of truth,” in the latter of these two verses, is opposed to “the way of