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The least that we can do is, “ to render praises to the Lord :” and this we should do, 1. In a way of devout acknowledgment
[This was the way in which David performed his vows: “I will go into thy house with burnt-offerings : I will pay thee my vows, which my lips have uttered and my mouth hath spoken when I was in trouble. I will offer unto thee burnt-sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats'." This was fitted to the dispensation under which he lived: but under the Christian dispensation nothing of this kind is required: the sacrifice of a grateful heart is that which alone will prove acceptable to our God. For so it is said;
66 Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most Highk.” And say, whether there be not abundant ground for praise and thanksgiving? That you were ever dedicated to the Lord in baptism, have you not reason to be thankful for that? Think of the heathen world, who in their infancy are devoted only to some base idol, which, so far from being able to confer a benefit on them, is not capable of even protecting itself from being broken to pieces and cast into the fire: how much better is it to be consecrated to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is “ able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him!” Again, to have taken upon yourselves now all your baptismal vows, in order to the being confirmed and strengthened by Almighty God for the performance of them; what is this but to have set off already in your Christian course, and to be proceeding, as it were, in the high road to heaven? As for those who have been fed from time to time with the body and blood of Christ, and have been thereby established, strengthened, settled in the ways of God, methinks “ the very stones would cry out against them," if they did not sing and shout aloud for joy. To all of you, then, I recommend the adoption of David's purpose, and of David's words: “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows now in the presence of all his people. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of thee, o Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord!!"] 2. In a way of total surrender of yourselves to God
[This, beyond a doubt, is the true object of all our vows; and without this no transient purposes or emotions will be of i Ps. lxvi. 13-15.
k Ps. 1. 13, 14. 1 Ps. cxvi. 12-14, 17-19.
any value. And this is what St. Paul most earnestly recommends: “I beseech you, Brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service m.” În presenting voluntary oblations to the Lord, there were some peculiar encouragements afforded, to which I will call your more especial attention. First, of the offerings so presented, the offerers themselves partook: so that Almighty God, who was represented by the altar that consumed the memorial ; and the priests, to whose support a good measure of the offering was assigned; and the offerer himself; all, if I may so speak, feasted together. Next, the vow or voluntary offering might be presented " with leavened bread:” yes, notwithstanding leaven was prohibited, most strictly prohibited, in all other offerings, it might be presented in this, because God would shew his special approbation of this, and his willingness to condescend to the infirmities of those who desired to honour him, though they could not honour him to the extent they desired. And, lastly, whereas in an offering of thanksgiving the offerer could only partake on the day that he presented his offering, in that which he presented as a vow, he might partake the second day, as well as the first; that so he might have a full, a rich, an abiding enjoyment of the sacrifice, which, of his own free will, and without any necessity imposed upon him, he had vowed unto the Lord" And now, after this, shall I need to multiply words in order to induce you, Brethren, to surrender up yourselves unto the Lord? No: I need only shew you in what way God has prescribed it to be done under the very dispensation under which we live: “In those days, and at that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotteno." Do this, my Beloved, and it will be the best possible completion of your vows.
Go to God, as not your own, but His: go to him as bought with a price, even with the precious blood of his only dear Son; and from this moment live wholly unto him, that ye may“ glorify him in your body, and in your spirit, which are hisp."]
Mark the distinction between ver. 12.
m Rom. xii. 1.
n See Lev. vii. 11–16. and ver. 16.
o Jer. 1. 4, 5.
P 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20.
DAVID'S LOVE TO GOD. Ps. lvii. 7-11. My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed :
I will sing and give praise. Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp: I myself will awake early. I will praise thee, O Lord, among the people : I will sing unto thee among the nations. For thy mercy is great unto the heavens, and thy truth unto the clouds. Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens : let thy glory be above all the earth.
HERE we behold the bosom of a saint laid open, and the inmost recesses of his heart exposed to view. We cannot read the words without being more or less impressed with this thought, O that my soul were in such a state as his ! Indeed the Psalmist himself judged this record of his experience to be of more than ordinary importance to the Church : and therefore, at a subsequent period, he detached these words from the context in which they stand, and made them the commencement of a separate psalma; intimating thereby, that they were not only proper to be used on occasion of any great deliverance, like that which had just been vouchsafed to him in the wilderness of En-gedi, (where Saul had sought to destroy him",) but that our frame of mind at all times should be such as was there expressed.
Let us observe,
From the particular mercy which he had received, he was led to contemplate God's wonderful perfections; and particularly to admire, 1. The extent of his mercy
[The temporal deliverance itself was a rich display of mercy, because it bespoke the watchful care of God over one, who, as a sinner, might rather have been an object of his displeasure. But David looked beyond the immediate occasion of his gratitude, and viewed the mercy of God towards his soul. David knew himself to be a sinner, and that, if God should enter into judgment with him, he must inevitably and eternally perish. Nor was he ignorant of the means which
a Ps. cviji.
b 1 Sam. xxiy,
God had provided for the redemption of his soul. Not even Isaiah himself prophesied more fully, or more minutely, respecting the sufferings and glory of the Messiah, than David did. Hence, viewing himself as a redeemed sinner, bought with the blood of God's only dear Son, he could not but adore the boundless extent of God's mercy towards him: “ Thy mercy is great unto the heavens.”
This must be the foundation of love in us also. Our blessed Lord has told us, that "they who have much forgiven will love much; but those who have but little forgiven will love little."
There is no one so ignorant or obdurate, but that he will acknowledge that God is merciful: but the hopes of the generality are founded, not so much on the extent of God's mercy, as on the smallness of the occasion which they have for the exercise of it: and hence they are never penetrated with any deep sense of it as exercised towards them. But a person duly sensible of the greatness of his sins, will form a corresponding estimate of God's mercies; which will appear to him, *as the heavens, great" and without limit; insomuch, that he will be able to find no terms whereby to express his views of them more justly than those of David in another psalm ; “ As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his mercy to them that fear him."
Let this be borne in mind, that all our love to God must have its origin in a knowledge of ourselves: since it is only from a view of our own extreme guilt and helplessness that we can appreciate in any degree the patience and forbearance, the
mercy and loving-kindness, which, from our earliest infancy to this present hour, he has exercised towards us -] 2. The inviolability of his truth
[God had promised to David, that in due time he should sit upon the throne of Israel: and the many signal deliverances which he had received, all tended to confirm in his mind an expectation of the promised blessing. And it is remarkable, that Saul himself was struck with those particular occurrences precisely in that view: “Now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hande.” Hence • the truth” and faithfulness of God appeared to him as no less worthy of admiration than his love and mercy.
And will not every one who has ever laid hold upon promises of the Gospel, and found them verified in his own experience, fix his mind upon this attribute of the Deity with grateful adoration? Will he not even find in his own soul a more impressive evidence of the truth of God, than in the
c Luke vii. 47.
d Ps. ciïi. 11.
e 1 Sam. xxiv. 20.
whole universe besides? The very circumstance of his having been preserved by the power of God amidst so many snares and temptations, whilst so many, who once appeared in a more hopeful state than he, have made shipwreck of their faith, will fill his soul with rapture, and constrain him to say, “ The Lord my God changeth not; and therefore it is that I am not consumed?" Others may prove by arguments the truth of God, at the same time that they have no admiring or adoring thoughts of it; but he will regard himself as a living witness of this glorious perfection; and will both think and speak of it as one who is even lost with wonder in the contemplation of it.]
Such were the grounds of David's love to God. We next proceed to notice, II. His expression of it
Full of ardour,
1. He determines to praise and glorify God to the uttermost
[The determination of his soul he thus declares : “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise.” Here is the result of deep conviction. He knew his obligations to God: and, whether others would concur with him or not, his purpose was unalterable: if no other creature in the universe would praise God, he would. He felt it to be his bounden duty: nor should all the sneers of an ungodly world divert him from the performance of it.
But, feeling that his sluggish heart did not obey the call as he could wish, he chides his soul: “ Awake up, my glory," my tongue, by which alone I can ascribe to God the honour due unto his name: "awake, psaltery and harp,” with which I am accustomed to celebrate his praise: “I myself,” with all my faculties and all my powers, ** will awake early," and reproach, as it were, the tardiness of the morning dawn.
Nor would he be content with praising God amidst his own family circle; he would praise him among the whole Jewish “people,” yes, and amidst “all the nations” of the world; that so the whole universe, both Jews and Gentiles, might learn to love and honour the God of his salvation.
Now here we see the way in which all our souls should be engaged. Under a deep sense of the goodness of our God, we should feel such a determination of heart as nothing can shake: we should be saying with Joshua, “ Though all Israel should depart from God, I and my house will serve the Lorde.” From time to time we should stir up ourselves to this holy exercise, and labour to bring our minds to a frame suited to the occasion.
f Mal. iii. 6.
8 Josh. xxiv. 15.