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SEVERAL SERMONS UPON THE CXIX. PSALM.
Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk m the law of the Lord.—Ver. 1.
THIS psalm is a choice piece of Scripture. In the Hebrew there is much exactness of composure to be observed. It is divided into twenty-two parts, according to the number of the Hebrew letters; every part containeth eight verses, all beginning with one and the same letter; in which I should think there is nothing of mystery intended, only a help to attention and memory. I shall go over the several verses in their order, the Lord giving life and assistance. And because the same matter will be of frequent recourse, I shall endeavour to discuss each verse in a sermon.
The Psalmist beginneth with a description of the way to true blessedness, as Christ began his Sermon on the Mount, and as the whole Book of Psalms is elsewhere begun. Blessedness is that which we all aim at, only we are either ignorant or reckless of the way that leadeth to it; therefore the holy Psalmist would first set us right in the true notion of a blessed man: ‘Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.’
In the words you have—
1. The privilege, blessed.
2. The manner and form of its consideration; not so much in the nature and formality of it, as the way that leadeth to it. Or,
First, Here is a way spoken of in the general.
Secondly, This way specified, the law of the Lord.
Thirdly, The qualification of the persons’ sincerity, the undefiled; and constancy, who walk.
Doct. 1. That it standeth us much upon to have a true notion of blessedness and blessed men. David beginneth with that.
1. All desire it; Christians, pagans, all agree in this. When Paul was dealing with the heathens, he urgeth two notions wherein God might be taken up. That of a first cause: Acts xiv. 17, ‘Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and 6gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.’ And a chief good, Acts xvii. 27. As in the one place, there must be a cause of showers of rain and fruitful seasons; so in the other, there must be a universal good, or else the inclinations of nature were in vain. Among Christians, the good and bad, that do so seldom agree in anything, yet agree in this, every man would be happy, and not miserable: Ps. iv. 6, ‘There be many that say, Who will show us any good?’ Good, good, is the cry of the world. It is intended in the very nature of desire; for everything that is desired is desired as good, sub ratione boni. As God implanted in us affections of aversation to avoid what is evil, so affections of choice and pursuit to follow after what is good. Well, then, out of a principle of self-love, all would be happy; they would have good, and they would have it for ever. Inanimate creatures are, by the guidance and direction of Providence, carried to the place of their perfection. The brute beasts seek the preservation and perfection of that life which they have; so do all men hunt about for contentment and satisfaction. To ask whether men would be happy or not, is to ask whether they love themselves, yea or nay; but whether holy, is another thing.
2. All without grace are much mistaken in it. (1.) Some mistake in the end. They desire good in common, not that which is indeed the true good; they seek happiness in riches, honours, pleasures; and so they fly from that which they seek, whilst they seek it. They intend happiness, but choose misery: Luke xvi. 25, ‘Thy good things;’ and Ps. iv. 7, ‘Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and wine increased.’ Their corn, wine, and oil, not only possessed by them, but chosen by them as their felicity and portion. (2.) They fail in the means. They know them not, like them not, or else faint in the prosecution of the end by them. They discern them but weakly, as a spire at a distance; they see it so as they know not whether they see it, yea or nay, as the blind man saw men walking as trees. The light of nature being so dim, they consider them but weakly; the mind being diverted by other objects, they desire them but weakly; the affections being prepossessed and intercepted by things that come next to hand, velleities and cold inclinations they may have, but no serious volition or firm bent of heart. Or suppose a man under some conviction, both as to end and means, yet his endeavours are very cold and slack; they do not pursue it with that earnestness, exactness, and uniformity of endeavour which is requisite to obtain their happiness. They are like children that seem to desire a thing passionately, but are soon out of humour: ‘The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing, for his hands refuse to labour.’ When true happiness is sufficiently revealed, we like it not upon God’s terms, John vi. 34. The Jews, when our Saviour told them of the bread of God that came down from heaven to give life to the world, said unto him, ‘Lord, evermore give us of this bread.’ But it is said, upon hearing the conditions of obtaining it, ver. 66, ‘they murmured, went back, and walked no more with him.’ All would live for ever; but when they must follow a despised Christ up and down the world, and incur censures and 7dangers, they like none of that: Ps. cvi. 24, ‘Yea, they despised the pleasant land, and believed not his word.’ The land was a good land, but the way to it was through a howling wilderness. When they heard of the strength and stature of the men, their fortifications, they fell into passion and murmur, and gave over the pursuit of Canaan. Heaven is a good place, but men must get to it with such difficulty, therefore they are loath to be at the cost. Men would be happy with that kind of happiness which is true happiness, but not in the way which God propoundeth, being prepossessed with carnal fancies. It is counted a foolish thing to wait upon God in the midst of straits, conflicts, and temptations: 1 Cor. ii. 14, ‘The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.’ More prejudices lie against the means than the end; therefore, out of despair, they sit down with a carnal choice, as persons disappointed in a match take the next offer. Since they cannot have God’s happiness, they resolve to be their own carvers, and to make themselves as happy as they can in the enjoyment of present things.
3. Our mistakes about it will cost us dear. God is very jealous of what we make our happiness, and therefore blasteth the carnal choice. Those that will try experiments, smart for it in the issue. Solomon came home by weeping-cross: Eccles. i. 14, ‘I have seen all the works that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.’ He hath proved it to our hands. He had a large heart, and a large estate, and gave himself to pleasures, to extract happiness from the creatures, to hunt after worldly satisfactions in a more artificial way than brutish sots, that merely act according to lust and appetite: Eccles. ii. 1, ‘I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure; and behold, this also is vanity.’ He gave himself to pleasures, not merely upon sensual, but curious and artificial aims, yet found his heart secretly withdrawn from God. Whoever maketh trial will either run into utter mischief, or must come home again by a sound remorse. And so they learn it, and dearly to their cost.
Use. Let us study this point well.
1. That we may not take up with a false happiness, or set up our rest in temporal enjoyments, as height of honour, abundance of riches, favour of great men, &c.; things useful in their sphere, and beneficial to sweeten and comfort the life of man, who hath placed his happiness in God. Pleasures being enjoyed, they do not satisfy; being loved, they defile; being lost, they increase our trouble and sorrow.
[1.] They cannot satisfy, because of their imperfection and uncertainty. They do not answer the whole desire of man, carry no proportion with the conscience. That which maketh a man happy must bear a thorough proportion with all the wants, desires, and capacities of the soul, so as conscience and heart and all may say it is enough. But, alas! these things cannot give us solid peace and contentment: Isa. lv. 2, ‘Wherefore do ye spend your money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?’ Till an hungry conscience be provided for, we cannot be happy. But besides their low use, consider the uncertainty of enjoyment. Nothing can give us 8solid peace, but what doth make us eternally happy. These flowers our hands while we smell at them. Nothing but the favour of God is from everlasting to everlasting. We have not a sure possession of these things in the world. They are possessed with fear, 1 Cor. vii. 30, 3l. It is me apostle’s counsel, that ‘they that buy’ should have such remiss affections to the world, ‘as though they possessed not; and that they use this world as not abusing it, for the fashion of this world passeth away.’ A man must look for changes, and lay forth for several conditions in the world: Ps. xxxix 11, ‘When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth. Surely every man is vanity. Selah.’ Like glass, brittle when most glistering.
[2.] Being inordinately loved, they defile. There is not only gall, but poison in them. They cannot make us better, but may easily make us worse, as they defile and draw the heart from God, and enslave us to our own lusts: 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10, ‘But they that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil, which, while some have coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.’
[3.] Being lost, they increase our trouble and sorrow. A man that hath not learned to be abased, as well as to abound, his abundance maketh his case the more miserable. It is hard to go back a degree or two. They are apt to bring much trouble upon the heart of him that is conversant about them: ‘All is vanity and vexation of spirit.’ The more we make them our happiness, when lost they increase our trouble.
2. That we may not be prejudiced against the true happiness. Men think it a happiness to live without the yoke of religion, to speak, and think, and do what they please without restraint; but to be always in bonds, and held under the awe of the word, that they count unreason able and grievous: Ps. ii. 3, ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.’ In studying this point—(1.) ‘Lean not to thine own understanding;’ Prov. xxiii. 4, ‘Labour not to be rich; cease from thy own wisdom;’ but seek direction from God by his word and Spirit. God only can determine who is the blessed man, in whose hand alone it is to make us blessed. (2.) Take the light of faith; sense and carnal reason will deceive you. Blessedness is a riddle which can only be found out by faith, ‘which is the evidence of things not seen,’ Heb. xi. 1. That a poor godly man, who is counted the filth and offscouring of all things, should be the only happy man, and that the great men of this world, who have all things at will, should be ‘poor, blind, miserable, and naked,’ is a paradox will never enter into the heart of a natural man, that hath only the light of sense and carnal reason to judge of things, for to sight and reason it is nothing so. (3.) Wait for the light and power of the Spirit to incline and draw thy heart to God. Many times we are doctrinally right in point of blessedness, but not practically; we content ourselves with the mere notion, but are not brought under the power of these truths; that is the work of the Spirit. It is easy to prove that it is the beasts’ happiness to enjoy 9pleasure without remorse; easy to prove the uncertainty of riches, and what unstable foundations they are for the soul to rest on; but to draw off the heart from these things to God is the work of the Holy Ghost: Ps. xlix. 13, ‘This their way is their folly, yet their posterity approve their sayings.’ Many a man who stands over the grave of his ancestors will say, Ah! how foolish were they to waste their time and strength in pleasure, and in hunting after worldly greatness and esteem and favour with men; what doth it profit them now? And yet their posterity approve the same—that is, they live by the same principles, are as greedy upon worldly satisfactions as ever those were that have gone before, that neglected God and heavenly things, and went down to the grave, and their honour was laid in the dust. Until the Lord take off our heart by the light and power of his grace, we remain as sottish and foolish and worldly as they. Thus you see how much it concerns you to be right in the notion of true blessedness.
Doct. 2. That sincere, constant, uniform obedience to God’s law is the only way to true blessedness.
This is called a way, and this way is said to be God’s law, and m this way we must be undefiled; which implies not absolute purity and legal perfection, but gospel sincerity; and in this way we must walk, which notes both uniformity and constancy; it must be our course, and we must persevere therein.
Three things need to be opened:—
1. Speak to the rule.
2. Of conformity to the rule; that it must be sincere, uniform, and constant.
3. How this is the way to true happiness; what respect it hath to true blessedness.
First, The rule is the law of God. All created beings have a rule. Christ’s human nature was the highest of all creatures, and yet it is to be in subjection to God; he is under a rule: Gal. iv. 4, ‘Made of a woman, made under the law.’ The angels they have many immunities above man; they are freed from death, from the necessities of meat and drink; but they are not free from the law; they are not sui juris, at their own dispose; they ‘obey his commands, hearkening unto the voice of his word,’ Ps. ciii. 20. Inanimate creatures, sun, moon, stars, are under a law of providence, under a covenant of night and day: Ps. cxlix. 6, ‘He has also stablished them for ever; he hath made a decree which shall not pass.’ They have their courses and appointed motions, and keep to the just points of their compass. All creatures are under a law, according to which they move and act. Much more now is man under a law, because he hath election and choice. But if the law were not a rule to a Christian (as some Antinomians have that opinion), if it were not in force, then there should be no sin or duty; for ‘where there is no law, there is no transgression;’ for the nature of ‘sin is the transgression of the law,’ 1 John iii. 4; Rom. iv. 15. Certainly the law as a rule is a very great privilege; and surely Christ did not come to lessen or abolish the privileges of his people: Deut. iv. 4, ‘There is no nation hath such statutes;’ Ps. cxlvii. 20, ‘He hath made known his statutes to Israel,’ was their prerogative. If the law might be disannulled as to new creatures, 10then why doth the Spirit of God write it with such legible characters in their hearts? This is promised as the great blessing of the covenant of grace, Heb. viii. 10. Now, that which the Spirit engraves upon the heart, would Christ come to deface and abolish? The law was written upon tables of stone, and the great work of the spirit is to write it upon the table of the heart; and the ark was a chest where the law was kept, and with allusion to it God saith, ‘I will put my law into their heart.’ Clearly, then, there is a rule, and this rule is the law of God. Now, this rule must be consulted with upon all occasions, if we would obtain true blessedness, both to inform us, and to awe us.
First, To inform us, that we may not act short or over.
1. Not short. There are many false rules with which men please themselves, and are but so many byways that lead us off from our own happiness. For instance, good meaning, that is a false rule; the world lives by guess and devout aims. But if good meaning were a rule, a man may oppose the interest of Christ, destroy his servants, and all upon good meaning: John xvi. 2, ‘Those that kill you will think they do God good service.’ Men may grossly err that follow a blind conscience. Custom, that is another. It is no matter what others have done before us, but what Christ did before them all. If custom carried it, most of Christ’s institutions would be out of doors. Example of others; that is no good rule. It is not for us to go where others have gone before; but what is the true way: Mat. vii. 14, ‘The broad way, that leads to destruction, and many walk therein.’ The path to hell is most beaten; we are not always to follow the track; they are dead fishes which swim down the stream: we are not to be led away with custom and example, and do as others do. Our own desires and inclinations are not our rule. Oh, how miserable should we be if our lust were our law, if the bent of our hearts were our rule! Jude 16, ‘Walking after their own lusts,’ is the description of those that were monsters of men, that had outgrown all feelings of conscience. The laws of men are not our rule. It is too narrow and short to commend us to God, to be punctual to the laws of men and no more: Ps. xix. 7, ‘The law of God is perfect, converting the soul.’ To convince us of sin, to humble the heart, to reduce and bring us back to God, there is no rule for this but the law of God. Men make laws as tailors do garments, to fit the crooked bodies they serve for, to suit the humours of the people to be governed by these laws; surely they are not a sufficient rule to convince us of sin, and to guide us to true happiness. A civil orderly man is one thing, and a godly renewed man another. It is God’s prerogative to give a law to the conscience and the renewed motions of the heart. Human laws are good to establish converse with man, but too short to establish communion with God; and, therefore, we must consult with the rule, which is the law of the Lord, that we may not come short of true blessedness.
2. That we may not act over. There is a superstitious and apocryphal holiness which is contrary to a genuine and scriptural holiness, yea, destructive to it: it is like the concubine to the wife: it draws away respects due to the true religion. Now, what is this kind 11 of holiness? It is a temporary flesh-pleasing religion, which consists in a conformity to outward rites and ceremonies and external mortifications, such as is practised by the Papists and formalists, ‘after the commandments and doctrines of men:’ Col. ii. 23, ‘Which things indeed have a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.’ God will not thank them that give more than he requireth. These things have a show of wisdom. As brass money may be fairer than true coin, though not of such a value, so this will-worship and superstitious holiness may seem to make a fair show, but it is destructive to true godliness and scriptural holiness, which guide us to communion with God. When men’s zeal boils over in a false pretended holiness, it quencheth the fire and destroys true godliness and religion. Excess is monstrous, as well as defect. Therefore still we must consult with the law and rule, that we may not come short or over.
Secondly, As the law must be consulted with, that it may inform us, so that it may awe us, and hold us under a sense of our duty to God: ‘By the law is the knowledge of sin.’ Rom. iii. 19. Usually most Christians live by rote, and do not study their rule. Would a man worship God so coldly and customarily, if he did consider the rule which requires such heedfulness of soul, fervency of spirit, diligent attendance upon God in his ordinances? Would a man allow himself liberty of vain speeches, idle talk, and suffer his tongue to run riot, if he did consult with the rule, and remembered that light words would weigh heavy in God’s balance? These are condemned by the law of liberty: James ii. 12, ‘So speak, and so do, as those that shall be judged by the law of liberty.’ Would a man be so slight in heavenly things? so disorderly and intemperate in the use of pleasure and pursuit of worldly profit, if he did consider the rule, and what a holy moderation God hath required of us upon all occasions? This is the first thing, namely, the rule, which is the law of God.
Secondly, There is a conformity to this rule. If you would be blessed, there must be a sincere, constant, uniform obedience. The will of God must not only be known but practised. Many will conclude that God’s law in the theory is the only direction to true blessedness; but now, to take it for their rule, to keep close to it, not one of a thousand doth that.
1. Then, sincere obedience is required: ‘Blessed is the undefiled in the way.’ At first hearing of these words, a man might reply, Oh, then, none can be blessed, if that be the qualification; ‘for who can say, My heart is clean?’ Prov. xx. 9. I answer—This undefiledness is to be understood according to the tenor of the second covenant, which doth not exclude the mercy of God and the justification of penitent sinners: Ps. cxxx. 3, 4, ‘If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, who shall stand? But there is mercy with thee.’ There is no escaping condemnation and the curse, if God should deal with us according to strict justice, and require an absolute undefiledness. Well, then, this qualification must be understood, as I said, in the sense of the second covenant; and what is that? Sincerity of sanctification. When a man doth carefully endeavour to keep his garments unspotted from the world, and to approve himself to God; when this is 12his constant exercise, ‘to avoid all offence both towards God and man, Acts xxiv. 16, and is cautious and watchful lest he should be defiled; when he is humbled more for his pollutions; when he is always purging his heart, and doth endeavour, and that with success, to walk m the way of God,—here is the undefiledness in a gospel sense: Ps. lxxxiv. 11 ‘The Lord will be a sun and a shield,’ &c. To whom? ‘To those that walk uprightly.’ This is possible enough; here is no ground of despair. This is that will lead us to blessedness, when we are troubled for our failings, and there is a diligent exercise in the purification of our hearts.
2. A constant obedience. Wicked men have their good moods and devout pangs in the way to heaven, but they are not lasting. They will go with God a step or two. But it is said, ‘He that walketh in the law of the Lord.’ A wicked man prays himself weary of prayer, and professeth himself weary of holiness. A man is judged by the tenor of his life; not by one action, but as he holdeth on his way to heaven, Job xxvii. 10. Many run well for a while, but are soon out of breath. Enoch walked with God three hundred and sixty-five years.
3. A uniform and an entire obedience: Exod. xx. 1, ‘God spake all these words.’ He commandeth one thing as well as another, and conscience takes hold of all. To single out what pleaseth us is to make ourselves gods.
A servant doth not choose his work, but the master. A child of God is uniform in one place as well as another, at home and abroad, in all the passages of his life, in prosperity and adversity, ‘whether he abound, or whether he be abased,’ Phil. iv. He is not like Ephraim as ‘a cake not turned;’ but there is a uniformity. Doth he make conscience of piety and worship, and will he not make conscience of honesty and just dealing with men? Will he make conscience of his actions, and will he not of his words? He doth not give up himself to idle speech and vain discourse. A hypocrite is best when he is taken in pieces, but a sincere man is best when he is taken altogether. A Christian is always like himself. It is notable in the story of the creation that God views every day’s work, and God ‘saw that it was good;’ he viewed it altogether, ‘and God saw all things that he had made, and behold it was very good.’ When he did consider the whole correspondence of his works, how they answered one another, then God was delighted in it. So a Christian is most delighted in the review of his course and walking according to the commandment.
Thirdly, What respect hath this to true blessedness? It is the way to it: ‘Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.’ This will appear in two respects—(1.) It is the beginning of blessedness. Likeness to God is the foundation of glory. Conformity to him will be carried on ‘from glory to glory,’ 2 Cor. iii. 18. And as conformity unto, so communion with, God in the beauties of holiness is the beginning of happiness: ‘As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness,’ Ps. xvii. 15. (2.) Sincere and constant obedience is the evidence of our right to future blessedness. A man hath somewhat to show for it, Mat. v. 8. It is an inclusive evidence: ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;’ and it is an exclusive evidence: Heb. xii. 14, ‘Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.’ Well, then, when this is our way and course, we may expect happiness hereafter.
The uses are—
1. To show you that carnal men live as if they sought misery rather than happiness: Prov. viii. 36, ‘He that sins against me wrongs his own soul; all that hate me love death.’ If a man were travelling to York, who would say his aim was to come to London? Do these men pursue happiness that walk in such defilement? It is the way of God’s law that leads to true blessedness.
2. To press you to walk according to this rule, if you would be blessed. To this end let me press you to take the law of God for your rule, the Spirit of God for your guide, the promises for your encouragement, and the glory of God for your end.
[1.] Take the law of God for your rule. Study the mind of God, and know the way to heaven, and keep exactly in it. It is an argument of sincerity when a man is careful to practise all that he knows, and to be inquisitive to know more, even the whole will of God, and when the heart is held under awe of God’s word. If a commandment stand in the way, it is more to a gracious heart than if a thousand bears and lions were in the way—more than if an angel stood in the way with a flaming sword: Prov. xiii. 13, ‘He that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.’ Would you have blessings from God?—fear the commandment. It is not he that fears wrath, punishment, inconveniences, troubles of the world, molestations of the flesh; no, but he that dares riot make bold with a commandment. As Jer. xxxv. 6, Go, bring a temptation, set pots of wine before the Rechabites. Oh, they durst not drink of them. Why? ‘Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine.’ Thus a child of God doth reason when the devil comes and sets a temptation before him, and being zealous for God, dares not comply with the lusts and humours of men, though they should promise him peace, happiness, and plenty. A wicked man makes no bones of a commandment; but a godly man, when he is in a right posture of spirit, and the awe of God is upon him, dare not knowingly and wittingly go aside and depart from God.
[2.] Take the Spirit of God for your guide. We can never walk in God’s way without the conduct of God’s Spirit. We must not only have a way, but a voice to direct us when we are wandering: Isa. xxx. 21, ‘And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk in it.’ Sheep have a shepherd as well as a fold, and children that learn to write must have a teacher as well as a copy; and so it is not enough to have a rule, but we must have a guide, a monitor, to put us in mind of our duty. The Israelites had a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. The gospel church is not destitute of a guide: Ps. xxxvii. 24, ‘Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory.’ The Spirit of God is the guide and director to warn us of our duty.
[3.] The promises for your encouragement. If you look elsewhere, live by sense, and not by faith, you shall have discouragements enough. How shall a man carry himself through the temptations of the world with honour to God? 2 Pet. i. 4, ‘Whereby are given unto 14us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruptions that are in the world through lust.’ When we have promises to bear us up, this will carry us clear through temptations, and make us act generously, nobly, and keep close to him.
 Fix the glory of God for your aim; else it is but a carnal course. The spiritual life is a living to God, Gal. ii. 20, when he is made the end of every action. You have a journey to take, and whether you sleep or wake, your journey is still a-going. As in a ship, whether men sit, lie, or walk, whether they eat or sleep, the ship holds on its course, and makes towards its port , so you all are going into another world, either to heaven or hell, the broad or the narrow way. And then do but consider how comfortable it will be at your journey’s end, in a dying hour, to have been undefiled in the way; then wicked men that are defiled in their way will wish they had kept more close and exact with God. Even those that now wonder at the niceness and zeal of others, when they see that they must in earnest into another world, oh, then that they had been more exact and watchful, and stuck closer to the rule in their practice, discourses, compliances! Men will have other notions then of holiness than they had before. Oh, then they will wish that they had been more circumspect. Christ commended the unjust steward for remembering that in time he should be put out of his stewardship. You will all fail within a little while; then your poor, shiftless, naked souls must launch out into another world, and immediately come to God. How comfortable will it be then to have walked closely according to the line of obedience!
Doct. 3. That a close walker not only shall be blessed, but is blessed, in hand as well as in hope.
How is he blessed?
1. He is freed from wrath. He hath his discharge, and the blessedness of a pardoned man: John v. 24, ‘He that believeth on Christ hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, for he hath passed from death to life.’ He is out of danger of perishing, which is a great mercy.
2. He is taken into favour and respect with God: John xv. 14, ‘Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.’ There is a real friendship made up between us and Christ, not only in point of harmony and agreement of mind, but mutual delight and fellowship with each other.
3. He is under the special care and conduct of God’s providence, that he may not miscarry: 1 Cor. iii. 23, ‘All things are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.’ All the conditions of his life are overruled for good; his blessings are sanctified, and his miseries unstinged: Rom. viii. 28, ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.’
4. He hath a sure covenant-right to everlasting glory: 1 John iii. 1, ‘Behold, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be,’ &c. Is a title nothing before we come to enjoy the estate? We count a worldly heir happy, as well as a possessor; and are not God’s heirs happy?15
5. He hath sweet experiences of God’s goodness towards him here in this world: Ps. xvii. 15, ‘As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.’ The joy of the presence and sense of the Lord’s love will counter balance all worldly joys.
6. He hath a great deal of peace: Gal. vi. 16, ‘And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.’ Obedience and holy walking bringeth peace: ‘Great peace have they which love thy law, and nothing shall offend them,’ Ps. cxix. 165; as there is peace in nature when all things keep their place and order. This peace others cannot have. There is a difference between a dead sea and a calm sea. A stupid conscience they may have, not a quiet conscience. The virtue of that opium will soon be spent; conscience will again be awakened.
Use. Oh, then, let us put in for a share of this blessedness! There are two encouragements in the service of Christ—our vails and our wages. Our wages should be enough, the eternal enjoyment of himself. But oh! we cry out of the tediousness of the way. We have our vails also, that are not contemptible. If a man should offer a lordship or farm to another, and he should say, The way is dirty and dangerous, the weather very troublesome; I will not look after it—would you not accuse this man of folly, that loves his ease and pleasure? But now, if this man were assured of a pleasant path and good way, if he would but take a little pains to go over and see it, this were gross folly indeed to refuse it. Our Lord hath made over a blessed inheritance to us upon gospel terms; but we are full of prejudices, in that to keep close to the rule may bring trouble, and deprive us of many advantages of gain; and we think we shall never see good day more. But we are assured there is a great blessing goeth along with God’s yoke; and we having a promise of the enjoyment of God’s presence where there are pleasures for evermore, this should make us rouse up ourselves in the work of the Lord.
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