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sent asfliction, or despond at the prospect of approaching danger. Nay, though deprived of every earthly comfort, and involved in the deepest distress, stiH you may encourage yourselves in the Lord, and rejoice in him, as the God of your falvation: For th* Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; and rto good thing will he withhold fronn them that wait uprightly. Amen.
ON CHRISTIAN OBEDIENCE, AND THI
Psalm cxix. 115.
Depart from me, ye evil-doers; for I will keep the commandments of my God.
IT is unnecessary to trace the connection between the disserent parts of this inspired hymn. It seems to be a collection of David's pious and devout ejaculations to God, written down as they occurred, and asterwards digested into this psalm. The general scope and design of it, is to magnify the law of God, and enforce the observation of its precepts, as that in which religion chiefly consists. This the Psalmist does, from a variety of the most powersul and convincing arguments; such• as the supreme excellence and persection of that divine law, its usesulness to men even in this world, and the inward peace and joy that results from obedience to it. He insists particularly on his own experience, of the benesit and advantage of observing the commandments of Cod, and the unspeakable pleasure and satissaction he had derived from that observance. And hence we sind him frequently repeating his resolutions to this efsect; an instance of which you have in the
words words of the text: "Depart from me," says he, "ye evil-doers; for I will keep the commandments "of my God."
In discoursing on these words, I shall endeavour, by divine assistance, First, To explain to you that obedience to the law of God, or that keeping of his commandments, which the gospel requires. -SecondI); Shew you how necessary it is to avoid the company of the wieked, and have no society with evil-doers, if you would keep the commandments of God. And, Lastly, Conclude with some practical application.
I. I am to explain thttt obedience to the law of God, or that keeping of his commandments which the gospel requires.
1. It must flow from a heart purisied by saith ; for, without saith, the apostle tells us, it is impossible to please God; and whatsoever, says he, is not of saith, is sin. Some of the. wiser and more enlightened Heathens made considerable progress in the external observance of the law which God had written on their hearts; but yet their works, however splendid in the eyes of men, could not be pleasing and acceptable to God j because, their hearts not being purisied, they could never attain to that persection which the law of God requires. In every part of our duty, God has a special regard to the heart. "My "son," says he, " give me thine heartand, if the heart be not given him, he pays no regard to your other offerings. We may, indeed, have a specious prosession, and acquire to ourselves a sair character among men, while we are strangers to the true practice of devotion. Would you then sind acceptance with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, in your endeavours to keep his commandments, let it be your sirst and principal concern to get your hearts sanctisied by renewing grace; for this is the one thing needsul.* "They that are in the flesh," says the apostle, " cannot please- God." Unless your obedience flows •from love to God, and a delight in his law after the inward man, it will be of no account in His sight, who judges of actions by the principles from which they spring, and demands the willing obedience of the heart; nay, it will be as the sacrisice of the wicked, an abomination to the Lord.
2. It must be with impartial regard to his glory, as our ultimate end. "Whether, therefore," says the apostle, " ye'eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all "to the glory of God; for of him, and through "him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory "for ever." How many assume a religious prosession, with no other view but to be seen of men, that they may procure the esteem of their neighbours, or serve their own interest? Nay, some men assume the mask of religion, that, under this venerable cover, they may indulge in their secret vices with the less suspicion. Such, we sind, were the Pharisees of old. They loved to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they might be seen of men: when they sasted, they dissigured their faces, that they might appear unto man to sast. And cur Saviour adds, " For a pretence they made long "prayers, that they might devour widows houses." But this is insinitely short of the obedience which the gospel requires. It is.only, as the prophet expresses it, " a sacrisicing to our own net, and burning in"cense to our own drag." And when God comes to pass sentence on such prosessors of religion, he may say, " Did ye these things at all unto me?" Were they not rather done to gratify some particular humour, to gain the approbation of men, or to serve some temporal purpose? and, if so, you certainly have your reward in the accomplishment of your wishes. From me, as you did them not to me, you :an expect no reward. Let us not then have such mean and mercenary ends in view, but have a stedfast regard to the glory of God, who* as he is the First cause, and insinitely excellent and amiable in Inmself, is also that Being on whom our happiness must sinally depend. In a word, whatever we do in
religion, religion, we are required to do it heartiiy as unto the Lord, and not unto men.; knowing, that of the JLorj! we shall receive the reward of the inheritance, if we thus serve the L/>rd Christ (a). .
3. It must be withhumility and self-denial. We must beware-ofv imagining that there is any intrinsic worth or;(fperit- in the best of our services to recommend them to God; and, when we have done all, we mull hurnbly acknowledge that we have done nothing but ©ur duty, and are at best but unprositable servants. Whatever the pride of man may suggest, this is the lesson that Christ teaches his disciples: "If any "man," says he, " will come aster me, let himde** ny himself." And- it is a lesson so absolutely necessary at our entrance on the Christian lise,'that, withput it, all our devotion is but a form of godliness, and, like the boast of the Pharisee, an abomination to the Lord. Nay, so sar from imagining that we can merit any savour at the hand of God by our best obedience, we must be deeply sensible of our own ^worthiness; that even our purest services are stained with much sinsul impersection, and all our own righteousness but as silthy rags. The language of a sincere iChristian, while endeavouring to keep the commandments of God, is, " Enter not into judgmer: "with thy servant. If thou, Lord, sliouldst mark ** iniquity, who could possibly stand?" And from a lively sense of this, conscious that we have nothing in ourselves *o rely upon, we must have all our trust and dependence upon the abundant merit and powersul intercession of Christ, by which alone our obedience can be accepted.—Neither must we think that we can perform this obedience by any power or strength of our own. No ; it would betray the grossest ignorance, both of ourselves and of the word of God, to entertain such a thought. "Without me," fays our Saviour, "ye can do nothing." And the npo/bV' tells us, that " we are not sufficient, of ourselves, to « think so much as a good thought;" and, by a necessary
(*) Col. iii. 13, n.