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fixed upon him for good' -- Moreover, God will comfort him ; he will not merely view him from heaven, but will come down and dwell in his heart on purpose to comfort and revive him m
Nor is this all; for God will surely and eternally save him": and the more abased the man is in his own eyes, the higher will God exalt him on a throne of gloryo And the reasons of his so honouring it are plain
[It is the work of his own Spirit on the soul of man. No created power can effect it: we may break and bruise the body, but we can never produce in any one a broken and contrite spirit. This is God's prerogative”; and whoever has obtained this blessing must say, “ He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing, is God.”—Again, It is the precise disposition that becomes us.
If the holy angels that never sinned veil their faces and their feet in the presence of their God, what prostration of mind must become such guilty creatures as we are! Surely we must “ put our hands on our mouth, and our mouth in the dust, crying, Unclean, unclean!!" yea rather, we should “ gird us with sackcloth, and wallow ourselves in ashes, and make mourning as for an only son, even most bitter lamentations.”—Further, It disposes us to acquiesce cordially in God's appointed method of recovery. Till we are thoroughly brokenhearted with a sense of sin, we never estimate aright the unspeakable blessings of Redemption. We may profess a regard for the Gospel; but we do not really “ glory in the cross of Christ;" Christ does not truly become “ all our salvation and all our desire.” But to the truly contrite, O how precious is the name of Jesus, that adorable name, the foundation of all our hopes, the source of all our joys !--Lastly, It invariably stimulates us to a cheerful unreserved obedience. No commandment is hard to a person, when once his heart is truly broken and contrite. Let us see that we were dead, and that Christ died for us; and a sense of “his love will constrain us to live to him,” and to “glorify him with our body and our spirit, which are his."
Say now, whether here be not reason sufficient for the distinguished favours which God vouchsafes to the contrite soul? We know that there is nothing meritorious in contrition: but there is in it a suitableness for the reception of the divine mercies, and for the reflecting back upon God the honour which he confers upon it.]
This subject may well be IMPROVED, 1 Isai. lxvi. 2.
m Isai. lvii. 15. n Ps. xxxiv. 18. Job xxxiii. 27, 28. o Luke xviii. 14. p Job xl. 11. Ezek. xi. 19.
9 2 Cor. v. 5. r Lam. iii. 29. with Lev. xiii. 45. s Jer. vi. 26. with Jam. iv, 9, 10.
1. For the conviction of the impenitent
[Worldly sorrow has more or less been the portion of us all: but how few have “ sorrowed after a godly sort!” The generality have never laid to heart their sins at all: and they who have felt some compunction, have for the most part been satisfied with a little transient sorrow, and something of an outward reformation of life. But let this be remembered, that when it is said, “ God will not despise the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart,” it is manifestly implied, that he will despise every thing short of that. Do not then deceive yourselves with an expectation that God will accept your feigned or partial humiliation : your penitence must be deep, and your change radical : your sorrow for sin must far exceed any worldly sorrow, and must bring you incessantly to the foot of the cross, as your only refuge and your only hope: nor will any repentance short of this be “a repentance unto salvation, but only a repentance eternally to be repented of."] 2. For consolation to the penitent
[When once you become truly penitent, men will begin to despise you: they will look upon you as a poor weak enthusiast, and will “ cast out your name as evil” comfort is, that God will not despise you. If the Psalmist had merely affirmed this, it would have been a rich ground of consolation : but he makes it a matter of appeal to God; “ A broken and contrite spirit, thou, O God, will not despise." What a glorious truth! When you are so vile and contemptible in your own eyes that you blush and are confounded before God, and “ dare not even lift up your eyes unto heaven,” God looks upon you with pleasure and complacency, and acknowledges you as his dearly beloved child u. Do you want evidence of this? See for whom God sent his only-begotten Son into the world; and read the account given of the very first sermon that Jesus ever preachedy: and hear to whom in particular he addressed his invitations?: consider these, I say, and then reject the consolation if you can.] 3. For instruction to the more advanced Christian
[Is a broken and contrite heart the sacrifice with which you must come to God? Know that it is that which you must continue also to offer him to the latest hour of your lives. You are not to lose the remembrance of your shame and sorrow, but to lothe yourselves after that God is pacified towards youa," yea, and because that God is pacified towards you. The more abundant is his mercy towards
abhor yourself for having ever sinned against so gracious a God. You
t 2 Cor. vii. 10. u Jer. xxxi. 18-20. x Isai. lxi. 1-3 y Luke iv. 17--21. 2 Matt. xi. 28.
a Ezek. xvi. 63.
cannot but have seen in others, and probably felt within yourselves a disposition to depart from this ground, and to indulge a spirit of self-sufficiency and pride. I entreat you to examine yourselves with respect to it It is a common evil, and is very apt to lurk in us unperceived. But if we see it not ourselves, we shall without fail discover it to others; or, if they should not discover it, God will behold it, and that too with utter abhorrence. Watch over yourselves therefore, and pray that you may grow continually in lowliness of mind, in tenderness of conscience, in meekness of temper, and in purity of heart. The more you resemble little children, the higher will you be in the kingdom of God“.]
b Prov. xvi. 5. and 1 Pet. v. 5. c Matt. xviii. 4.
DXCIV. THE AFFLICTED SOUL COMFORTED. Ps. lv. 6. And I said, O that I had wings like a dove ! for
then would I fly away, and be at rest. TROUBLE is the portion of all, without exception; of the rich, as well as of the poor; of the godly, as well as of the ungodly: “man is born to it, as the sparks fly upward.” The godly indeed have, in some respects, a larger measure of it than others : for, from within, they have grounds of trouble which are unknown to others; and, from without, they are beset on every side with enemies, who hate them purely for their righteousness' sake. Amongst all the saints of whom we read in Scripture, David seems to have been peculiarly distinguished as “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” In the early part of his life, his persecutions from Saul kept him in continual jeopardy of his life: and during all his latter years, his own children furnished him with occasions of sorrow, which at times sunk him into the deepest distress, and rendered him weary even of life. The psalm before us was written on one of these occasions; we suppose at the time of Absalom's rebellion. And so greatly was he oppressed in spirit, that he would gladly have fled to the ends of the earth, with the loss of all his honours and dignities, if he could but have obtained rest from his accumulated and overwhelming afflictions: he said, “O that
I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest."
This being by no means an uncommon sentiment, I will shew, I. What are the occasions which usually give rise to
this wish The wish itself necessarily presupposes a state of trouble ; and it may arise in the bosom, 1. From temporal troubles
[Afflictions do not lose their nature when they visit the godly. Piety may soften their pungency; but it does not divest them of their proper qualities : " they are not joyous to any, but grievous ;" as God has condescended to declare. How grievous David's trial was, may be seen in all the preceding context: “Give ear to my prayer, O God; and hide not thyself from my supplication. Attend unto me, and hear me! I mourn in my complaint and make a noise : my heart is sore pained within me; and the terrors of death are fallen upon me. Fearfulness and trembling are come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me." Nor do we wonder at this language, when we consider that his own son had driven him from his throne; that many of his subjects were in rebellion against him; and that there was about to be a conflict between two portions of them, the one headed by himself, and the other led on by his son; and that, whichever might be victorious, it must be the blood of his subjects only that must flow. Well might he wish to withdraw from such a distressing scene, and well might he express himself in those mournful terms, “O that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the stormy wind and tempest." And though such scenes are rare, it is by no means uncommon to find in families troubles of such an overwhelming nature, as to make life itself a burthen to those who are afflicted by them. Husbands and wives, parents and children, who ought to be sources of the sublimest happiness to each other, are not unfrequently occasions to each other of the deepest woe; a woe that embitters their whole lives, and makes them pant for death as a relief. And where there is no particular evil committed either by the head or members, there will often arise, from the dispensations of Providence, such afflictions as prove an insupportable burthen to the mind. In Job, for instance, we see, from his accumulated trials, the same effect produced as from the afflictions of David. He wished that in his early infancy he had been consigned to the grave," where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest."
" Wherefore," says he,“ is light given to him that is in misery, and life unto the bitter in soul; who long for death, but it cometh not; and dig for it more than for hid treasures? There the prisoners rest together; they hear not the voice of the oppressor. The small and great are there; and the servant is free from his mastera." In truth, almost all the suicides of which we hear originate in worldly sorrow, either personal or domestic: nor is it always found that piety itself is sufficient to counterbalance the effects of temporal calamity; so as to elevate the spirits which have been broken by it, and restore the constitution that has been destroyed.] 2. From spiritual troubles
[Of these, none can judge, but those who have endured them. In reference to these it may well be said, “The spirit of man may sustain his infirmities; but a wounded spirit who can bearb?” Truly, when a man is bowed down under a sense of sin, and trembling under apprehensions of God's wrath, he may well be dejected, and wish for any thing which may pacify his fears and terminate his sorrows. Great as Job's other troubles were, this was heavier than them all. Hear his complaint under it: “ that my grief were thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! for now it would be heavier than the sand of the therefore
words are swallowed up. For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me. O that I might have my request! that God would grant me the thing that I long for, even that it would please God to destroy mec!" Terrible, beyond measure, are the hidings of God's face under such circumstances: so at least David felt them to be: “ Thou hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deeps: thy wrath lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with ail thy waves. Lord, why castest thou off my soul ? why hidest thou thy face from me? I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up: while I suffer thy terrors, I am distracted d.” So it is with some at this time; they go mourning all the day long; and by their anticipations of God's wrath, feel almost the commencement of it in their souls. The Saviour himself deprecated this bitter cup, and complained of the hidings of God's face in his extremity: well, therefore, may frail men, who are crushed before the moth, implore “the staying of God's rough wind in the day of his east winde."]
Seeing, then, that the wish of David is common in the world, let us inquire,
a Job iii. 17-21. b Prov. xviii. 14. c Job vi. 2, 3, 4, 8, 9. d Ps. lxxxviii. 7, 8, 14, 15.
e Isai. xxvii. 8.