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given us to do." We should not merely attend to good works in general, but consider what is that particular “good” which God is calling us to do: perhaps is to exercise meekness and patience; or perhaps to put forth fortitude and firmness. In the event of persecution for righteousness' sake, these graces must be cultivated with more than ordinary attention, and be called into action in a more than ordinary degree. We are not to be perplexing our minds with inquiries how we may avert the storm which is gathering around us, but be solely careful not to be shaken either in our principles or conduct, or in any respect to dishonour that God whom we profess to
Without this fidelity in the path of duty, all trust in God will be a delusion: but, combined with it, our trust in him is a most pleasing and acceptable service.] 2. To seek our happiness in his presence
[Fidelity itself would not be acceptable, if it proceeded from a principle of slavish fear: we must regard God as a Father, and "delight ourselves in him.” It is not a low measure of spirituality that we should aim at; we should aspire after such an enjoyment of God as David himself spake of, when he said, “I will go unto God, my exceeding joy." order to this, we should meditate upon all his glorious perfections, and especially on those perfections as displayed and magnified in the work of redemption. O! what wonders of love and mercy may we see in our incarnate, our redeeming God! In the contemplation of these we should exercise ourselves day and night, till the fire kindle in our bosoms, and we burst forth in acclamations and hosannahs to our adorable Emmanuel. Say, ye who have ever been so occupied, whether such “meditations be not sweet ;" and whether" your souls have not been satisfied as with marrow and fatness," when you have been so employed ?] 3. To commit our every concern to his disposal
[Our duty in this respect may not unfitly be illustrated by the confidence which passengers in a ship place in a skilful pilot and an able commander. They trust their persons and their property to the pilot without any anxious cares or painful apprehensions. Conscious of their own incapacity to navigate the ship, they presume not to interfere in the management of the vessel, but leave the whole concern to those whose province it is to conduct it. Whatever storms may arise, they look to him who is at the helm to steer the vessel to its destined port. Thus does the believer commit his way unto the Lord. To God he looks as ordering every thing for his good, yea, as having, if we may so speak, a community of interest with him, and as pledged to bring him in safety to the harbour where he would be. If any anxious thought arise, he checks it; and
c Ps. xliii. 4.
casts all his care on Him, who careth for him." This we should do in reference to every concern whatever. In relation to temporal things, we should have no more anxiety than the fowls of the air, which subsist from day to day on the bounty of their Creatord: and even in reference to the soul, the same entire confidence must be placed in God, who has engaged to carry on and perfect in his people the work he has beguno. Let us not however be misunderstood to say, that we are to put away a jealous fear of ourselves: that we must retain even to the end of our lives: but an unbelieving fear of God, as either unable or unwilling to save us, we must cast it off with abhorrence, and “ be strong in faith, giving glory to God."]
The promises annexed to these several injunctions shew, II. What God will do for us
Truly he will do exceeding abundantly for us above all that we can ask or think1. He will supply our wants
[Great and urgent they may be, even like those with which Israel was oppressed on different occasions in the land of Canaan : but God will interpose for us in the hour of need, so that “verily we shall be fed." Under the pressure of their troubles, many Jews deserted their own land, and sought for security or plenty among their heathen neighbours: thus they rather fled from trouble, than looked to God, as they should have done, to relieve them from it. We must not act thus : we must not desert our post because of difficulties which we meet with in it; but must expect from God all those supplies of grace and strength which we stand in need of.
“ He that believeth, will not make haste;" he will not presently despond, because he sees not how his wants are to be supplied; but will remember, that, as "the earth, and the fulness thereof, is the Lord's," so there is all fulness of spiritual blessings also treasured up for him in Christ, and he will look to Christ for daily communications, according as his necessities may require. The Lord did not give to Elijah a store of provision that should suffice for months to come, but sent him bread and meat twice a day by the ministration of ravens, and afterwards a daily supply from the widow's cruse. In the same manner will he impart a sufficiency of temporal and spiritual blessings to all who trust in him; and “ according to their day, so their strength shall be." “ The soul that trusts in Him shall want no manner of thing that is good."] d Matt. vi. 25—34.
e Phil. i. 6.
2. He will fulfil our desires
[If our desires were after the things of time and sense, we might expect to have them withheld from us : but if they be, as the believer's are, after God himself, we shall never be disappointed: on the contrary, the more earnest and enlarged our desire is, the more certain we are that God will fulfil and satisfy it. The more “wide we open our mouth,” the more assured we are that “he will fill it.” “ He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him; he also will hear their cry, and will help them.” Do we desire increasing “ views of his glory? He will put us into the cleft of the rock, and make all his goodness to pass before our eyes?.” Do we desire a more intimate and abiding communion with him? He will “ come and dwell in us, and walk in us, and be altogether our God." Do we desire a more entire conformity to him? He will “ transform us into his image from glory to glory,” by the sanctifying influence of his Holy Spirith. There shall not be a thing that we can ask, but he will give it us, if only it will be conducive to our spiritual and eternal welfare'.] 3. He will give a happy issue to all our concerns
[There may be many difficulties in our way, and such as shall be to all appearance insurmountable; but He who made a path through the Red Sea, will remove them all in due time. Whatever in his wisdom he sees to be best for us, “ he will bring it to pass.” We may labour under many discouragements by reason of calumnies which are circulated respecting us: the world may represent us as enthusiasts that “turn the world upside down,” as deceivers that are seeking some base ends of our own, as abettors of sedition, and enemies to civil government; in a word, they may speak of us as “the filth of the earth, and the off-scouring of all things;" but God will not leave us to sink under these reproaches: he will sooner or later appear for us, and “ make our righteousness to shine forth as the noon-day.” We shall have a good report to pass through, as well as evil report;” and our very demeanour under our persecutions shall carry conviction to the minds of many, that we are indeed the sons of Godk. At all events, if not before, at least at the day of judgment, our reproach shall be rolled away, and “we shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of our Father."] REFLECTIONS. See from hence,
1. What they lose who are ignorant of God
f Exod. xxxiii. 18—23. 8 2 Cor. vi. 16. h 2 Cor. iii. 18.
John xv. 7. and 1 John v. 14, 15. with Ps. xxi. 1, 2. k Matt. xxvii. 51.
1 Matt. xii. 43.
[All that is implied either in the precepts or the promises of our text is altogether unknown to those who experience not the power of religion in their hearts. Whatever bürthens they have, are borne upon their own shoulders: they know not what it is to cast them upon the Lord. Hence, when oppressed with heavy trials, they faint and sink under them; and for want of the consolations and supports of religion, they not unfrequently meditate, and sometimes also carry into execution, the awful act of suicide. O that men did but know what provision there is made for them in the Gospel of Christ! In, and with Christ, there is all that we can want, for body or for soul, for time or for eternity - Only let us seek to be washed in his blood, to be renewed by his Spirit, and to live altogether by faith on him; and we shall find such rich supplies, such heavenly consolations, such a fulness of all spiritual and eternal blessings, as shall far surpass all that the carnal eye has ever seen, and all that the carnal imagination has ever conceived m.] 2. What they enjoy who live nigh to God
[Contemplate the state of those who are now in heaven; how free from care, and how completely happy in the fruition of their God! Such in a measure may our state be even in this present world. Those who believe in Christ are privileged to rejoice in him, yea, and many do “ rejoice in him, with joy unspeakable and glorified.” By committing themselves, and all their concerns, to him, " their very thoughts, which are naturally as fluctuating as the wind, are established.” O Believers, live not below your privileges: carry every thing to your adorable Saviour, and expect from him all that infinite love can give, and all that Omnipotence can effect. “All things are yours, if ye are Christ's; even “ death itself, as well as life, is among your treasureso :” and soon shall all the glory and felicity of heaven be your unalienable and everlasting possession.]
m 1 Cor. ii. 9. n Prov. xvi. 3. 0 1 Cor. iii. 21-23.
DLXV. GOD'S INTEREST IN HIS PEOPLE. Ps. xxxvii. 23, 24. The steps of a good man are ordered by
the Lord; and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down : for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
THAT Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth, should regard one rather than another amongst the sinners of mankind, appears incredible; and for any one to imagine himself to be amongst those who are pre-eminently favoured by him, would be judged a height of arrogance, to which scarcely any one of a sound mind could be supposed to have attained. But the Holy Scriptures are extremely clear, and full, and definite upon this point. God does condescend to notice with peculiar kindness those who walk uprightly before him ; whilst he beholds with indignation and abhorrence those who, whether openly or in secret, rebel against him. To establish this is the great scope of this psalm, wherein the states of the godly and of the ungodly are contrasted with each other in this respect. From the words whic I have just read, we shall necessarily be led to notice, I. The interest which God takes in his people-“ He orders their steps”
[In the marginal translation it is said that a good man's steps are established” by the Lord. The fact is, the Lord so orders them, that they may be established. The very first work of the Lord in his people, is, to bring them to Christ, and to “ establish them in Christa.” Till this is done, they never take any step that can effectually bring them to heaven When that is done, then they are enabled to "walk in Christb," and, by strength derived from him, to advance in righteousness and true holiness — ---] “He delights in their ways"
[True, their ways are far from perfect: and, if God were to be “ extreme to mark what is done amiss,” no man living could stand before him. But God looks rather at the principle from whence their actions proceed, and at the end for which they are done, than at the perfection of the actions themselves; and when he sees that their actions proceed from love, and are done for the glory of his name, he cannot but feel delight, both in the persons themselves, and in the works they perform; even as a parent delights in the services of a loving and duteous child, not considering so much the excellence of the act as the disposition manifested in the performance of it. On another ground, too, Jehovah delights in the ways of his people, namely, because they are “the fruits of his Spirit” working in them. In this view there is not an act that they perform, which is “not pleasing and acceptable in his sightà”
-] “ He upholds them with his hand”. a John vi. 44, 65. and 2 Cor. i. 21.
b Col. ii. 6. c Gal. v. 22, 23. d Heb. xiii. 16. 1 Pet. iii. 4. Phil. i. 11.