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souls. It is this that endears to them the ministers of God: he who with the clearest evidence and richest unction exhibits to their view the glory and excellency of their God, will be regarded as their best friend: and every one who in sincerity labours to fulfil this office, will be "esteemed by them very highly in love for his work's sake."]
To stir up within ourselves a similar disposition, let us consider, III. His exhortation to co-operate with him in this
blessed designHe calls on all of us to unite with him in praising and adoring God: and his exhortation may well serve as an APPLICATION to the foregoing subject. We ask then, 1. Is it not a reasonable employment ?
[Let any one call to mind the excellencies of God as they are described in Scripture, and then say whether it is not reasonable that we should exalt his name. But more particularly, let the wonders of redemption be surveyed (O wonders inexpressible, and surpassing all comprehension !); let the thought of God's co-equal, co-eternal Son, becoming man, of his dying upon the cross, of his living again to make intercession for us in heaven; let the thought of this being done to deliver our souls from death, and to restore us to the favour of our offended Father; let this, I say, dwell upon the mind, and we shall see at once the reasonableness of this duty, and the utter unreasonableness of passing one day or one hour without renewed expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving.) 2. Is it not a delightful employment ?
[Poor indeed is the mirth of this world, when compared with the joy of praising God. This is the work of all the glorified saints and angels : "they rest not day or night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God of Hosts!"
And if this be the employment of heaven, what must such an exercise be to us, but a heaven upon earth ? It is indeed a foretaste of heaven, as all who have ever engaged in it are constrained to acknowledge: nor, if we were always thus engaged, would
trouble or sorrow be able to molest us : our very afflictions would rather give energy to our souls, and enlarge at once our subjects of praise, and our disposition to abound in it.] 3. Is it not a necessary employment ?
[It is grievous on such a subject as this to insinuate any thing of an alarming nature: but, if men will not le
constrained by love," we must endeavour to “persuade them by the terrors of the Lord.”
God declared to his people of old, that, if they would not serve him with joyfulness and gladness of heart for the abundance of all things which he had so liberally bestowed upon them, they should endure all the curses denounced in his lawd. With how much greater force does this threatening come to us, if we neglect to praise him for the infinitely greater benefits he has conferred on us! We ourselves feel indignant if great and acknowledged virtues be despised, or eminent favours be disregarded. And shall God ever look with complacency on those who are blind to his excellencies, and insensible of his mercies? Whatever we may imagine to the contrary, none shall ever join the choir above, whose hearts have not been tuned to sing God's praise below.]
d Deut. xxviii. 45, 47.
GRATEFUL RECOLLECTIONS. Ps. xxxiv. 6. This poor man cried; and the Lord heard him,
and saved him out of all his troubles. IT is of great advantage to have transmitted to us the experience of God's saints; because in them we see exhibited, as it were, before our eyes, what we ourselves are authorized to expect. David, in this psalm, records his deliverance from the hands of Achish, king of Gath; who, there was every reason to fear, would have either put him to death or delivered him into the hands of Saul, if God had not mercifully interposed to prevent it. As for the means which David had recourse to, in order to deceive Achish, I am not prepared either to justify or condemn them”. To feign himself mad before Achish, was doubtless a very humiliating measure. But, whether it was strictly correct or not, God was pleased to make use of it for the deliverance of his faithful servant from the danger to which, by fleeing to Gath, he had exposed himself: and David, in this psalm, commemorates this gracious interposition, and records it for the benefit of the Church in all future ages. Let us consider the text,
a 1 Sam. xxi. 13-15.
I. As a grateful acknowledgment
It is not necessary to confine our attention to the immediate occasion of the words, since David uses nearly the same expression in reference to mercies received during the rebellion of Absalom'.
Throughout the whole of his life, David received marvellous mercies at the hands of God
[His temporal deliverances were great on numberless occasions, from the persecutions of Saul the assaults of enemies and the rebellion of Absalom
but from all his troubles God had saved him; and for this salvation he did well to offer to God his most grateful acknowledgments.
But what shall I say of the spiritual mercies vouchsafed to him? These were beyond measure great, inasmuch as his terrors were sometimes of the most overwhelming natured and his sins, of almost unparalleled enormitye.
But from all of these had God delivered him, in answer to his prayers; and for these merciful interpositions he most humbly and most thankfully adores his God'---]
And have not we also innumerable mercies, both temporal and spiritual, to acknowledge ?
[True in respect of temporal afflictions, none of us can bear any comparison with him. But still there are few of us who have not experienced some deliverances; and not one who has not reason to bless God, with all possible ardour, for his forbearance, at least, if not also for his pardoning love. Let us call to mind the various interpositions of our God in times of sickness, or trouble, or danger. But more especially, if ever we have cried to God under a sense of our sins, and an apprehension of God's wrath, and have obtained mercy at his hands, what thanks should not we also render to him for such marvellous mercies! Methinks if we do not call upon all that is within us to bless his holy name, “ the very stones will cry out against us."]
But David intended these words to be considered, also, II. As an instructive record
The whole preceding part of the psalm shews that it was written by him with this view.
“I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall be continually
b Ps. iii. 3, 4. with the title of that Psalm. c 2 Sam. xxii. 1-7. d Ps. vi. 146. and xl. 12. and xlii, 7. e Ps. xxv. 11,
f Ps. xl. 1--3.
in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me; and let us exalt his name together! I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” Yes,“
“ man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troublesk.” Behold, then, how plainly it instructs us,
1. That there are no troubles so great, but God is able to deliver us from them
[Neither our temporal nor our spiritual troubles can well exceed those of David: yet, if he was saved from his, why may not we from ours? “ Is God's ear become heavy, that it cannot hear; or is his hand shortened, that he cannot save h?" We must on no account limit either the
mercy of our God: but “ be strong in faith, giving glory to his namei” -]
2. That there are no troubles so great but God will deliver us from them, in answer to our prayers
[Who ever heard of any instance wherein God said to a man, “ Seek my face in vain?” Jonah was heard from the bottom of the sea ; and David, as it were, from the very gates of hell. Manasseh, too, was heard, and accepted, after all his great and aggravated crimesk. Let none, then, despond, whatever be his trouble, or whatever his guilt: but let all be assured, that if their faith be only as a grain of mustard-seed, it shall prevail, to the casting of all the mountains, whether of difficulty, or of sin, into the very depths of the seal ---]
3. That answers to prayer, so far from puffing up a man with pride, will invariably humble and abase him
[Who is it that here designates himself by this humiliating appellation, “ This poor man?” It is David, “the man after God's own heart." But did not God's mercies to him puff him up? Quite the reverse. He never was more humble than when most honoured of his God. And so it was with Jacob in the Old Testament m; and with the Apostle Paul in the New. If ever there was a man more highly honoured than others, it was the Apostle Paul: yet he still continued to account himself “ less than the least of all saints”,” yea, and
as “the very chief of sinnerso.” And so will divine grace operate on us also. People imagine, that if we profess to have received special answers to prayer, and to have obtained the forgiveness of our sins, we must, of necessity, be elated with pride. But the very reverse of this was the effect produced on the minds of Job, and of the prophet Isaiah, who only lothed themselves the more in proportion as they were honoured of their GodP: and thus it will be with every real saint: he will account himself“ poor” even to his dying hour, and will be ever ready to "prefer others in honour before himself."]
If, then, this retrospective view of God's mercies be so sweet on earth,
1. What must it be, the very instant we arrive at the gates of heaven!
[At the moment of our departure from the body, we shall have a complete view of all God's dealings with us, whether in his providence or grace. And if here our partial views of these things fill us with such joy and gratitude, what will a full discovery of them do? As to any undue elevation of mind, on account of the mercies vouchsafed to us, it will produce a directly contrary effect: for all the glorified saints cast their crowns at the Saviour's feet, and prostrate themselves before him, and sound no other name than his". And there they will have their salvation altogether complete. No further "trouble" to all eternity will they experience; for "all tears shall be wiped away from their eyes for evers." Oh! look forward to that day with holy delight: and let the foretastes of it, which you here enjoy, stimulate your exertions to honour God, and to obtain a meetness for the blessedness that awaits you.]
2. How earnest should you be in commending to others the Saviour you have found !
[The Psalmist sets you the example: “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue. Verily, God hath heard me, and hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, who hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from met!” Thus, then, do ye also. Be not content to go to heaven alone. Tell to those around you the efficacy of prayer; and extol the Saviour, as able to save to the uttermost all that come unto
0 1 Tim. i. 15.
p Job xlii. 5, 6. and Isai. vi. 5.