|« Prev||Sermon VIII. I will praise thee with uprightness…||Next »|
I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments.—Ver. 7.
IN this verse David expresseth his esteem of the word, by telling what he would give for the knowledge and practice of it. As we use to tell a man how thankful we would be if he would do thus and thus for us; so, Lord, if thou wilt give me to learn thy righteous judgments, then I will praise thee, &c.
His promise of praise manifesteth his esteem, which should affect our stupid hearts. The canon is now larger, and the mysteries of the word are more clearly unfolded. If the saints of God were so taken with it before, when there were so scanty and dark representations in comparison of what is now, oh, what honour and praise do we now owe to God!
In this verse observe—
1. The title that is given to the word, thy righteous judgments.
2. His act of duty about it, or the benefit which he desireth, sound erudition, when I shall have learned.
3. The fruit of this benefit obtained, then will I praise thee.
4. The manner of performing this duty, with uprightness of heart.
First, The title that is given to the word, ‘Thy righteous judgments.’ or as it is in the margin, ‘The judgments of thy righteousness.’ Hence observe—
Doct. God’s precepts are, and are so accounted of by his people as, righteous judgments, or judgments of righteousness.
There are two terms to be explained—
1. What is meant by judgments.
2. By righteousness.
For the first. Righteousness is sometimes put alone for the word, and so also judgments (as we shall find in this psalm); but here both are put together to increase the signification. The precepts of the word are called judgments for two reasons—
1. Because they are the judicial sentence of God concerning our state and actions.
2. Because of the suitable execution that is to follow.
1. They are the judicial sentence of God concerning our state and actions. The judicial sentence; that is, they are the decrees of the almighty lawgiver, given forth with an authority uncontrollable. A man may appeal from the sentence of men, but this is judgment. This is as certain as if he were executed presently. There is injustice and oppression many times in the courts of men, but ‘there is a higher than the highest regards it, and there be higher than they,’ Eccles. v. 8. There may be another tribunal to which we may appeal from the unjust sentences of men; but there is no appeal from God, for there is no higher judicature. Paschalis, a minister of the Albigenses, when he was burnt at Rome, cited the Pope and his cardinals before the tribunal of the Lamb. When we are wronged and oppressed here, we may cite them before the tribunal of God and Christ; but who can appeal from the tribunal of Christ himself?62
And then this sentence is concerning our state and actions.
[1.] Our state, whether it be good or evil, The word sentenceth you now; for instance, if a man be in a carnal state: John iii. 18, ‘He that believeth not is condemned.’ How condemned? ‘already.’ In the sentence of the law, so he is gone and lost. Every unbeliever, such as all are by nature, is condemned already, having only the slender thread of a frail life between him and the execution of it. The sentence of the law standeth in force against him, since he will not come to Christ to get it repealed. This sentence standeth in force against all heathens which never heard of Christ, and are condemned already by the law. But now Christians, or those that take up such a profession, and have heard of the gospel, on them it is confirmed by a new sentence, since they will not fly to another court, to the chancery of the gospel, and take sanctuary at the Lord’s grace offered in Jesus Christ: ‘He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned,’ Mark xvi. 16. Again, when it is good, the sentence of the word, it is judgment: Rom. viii. 33, ‘It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth?’ What hath the officer to do, when a man is absolved by the judge in court? Conscience is God’s deputy, Satan is God’s executioner. The witness is silenced; the executioner hath no more to do when the judge absolveth, as God doth all by the sentence of the gospel that are willing to come under Christ’s shadow.
[2.] As the word judgeth and passeth sentence upon our states, so also upon our actions, thought, word, or deed; for all these in this regard come under the notion of acts.
(1.) Thoughts. They are liable to God’s tribunal, which can be arraigned before no other bar, yet the word doth find them out. It doth not only discover the evil of them: Heb. iv. 12, ‘The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart;’ but judgeth and sentenceth them: Jer. vi. 19, ‘I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts.’ Men have only a process against others either for words or actions, but God hath a process against them for their thoughts. Though in men’s courts thoughts are free, as not liable to their cognisance, yet they are subject to another judicature.
(2.) Words. Idle words weigh heavy in God’s balance. God, that hath given a law to the heart, hath also given a law to the lips, Mat. xii. 36, ‘Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment.’ Words will come to be judged: either we are to give an account of them here, or hereafter; either to condemn ourselves for them, and seek pardon, or to be condemned hereafter before God. A loose and ungoverned tongue will be one evidence brought against men as a sign of their unrenewed hearts in the day of judgment.
(3.) All our actions. They are sentenced in the word. God hath declared his mind concerning them: Eccles. xii. 14, ‘God will bring every work into judgment;’ things will not be huddled up in that day. God will not accept of a general bill of account by lump, 63but every action he will judge it according to the tenor of his word. This is an amplification of the first reason, why the word or precepts of God are called judgments, because they are judicial sentences of God the lawgiver, given forth with an authority uncontrollable concerning our estate and actions.
2. The next reason is, because of the suitable execution that is to follow in this world and in the next.
[1.] In this world. It is an easy matter to reconcile the word and providence together, for providence is but a comment upon the word; and you may even transcribe God’s dispensations from the threatenings and promises of the law. The story of the people of the Jews might have been transcribed from the threatenings of the law, so that the comminations of the law were but as a calendar and prognostication what kind of weather it would be with that people. So still the apostle makes the observation: Heb. ii. 2, ‘Every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward.’ Mark, it is notable to observe how God hath been punctual in executing the sentence of every command; the breach of it hath had a just recompense and reward—as I might instance in all the law of God. Moses and Aaron, if they will not sanctify God according to the first commandment, they shall be shut out of the land of Canaan; and if the people will have their false worship, how will God punctually accomplish it that he will ruin, them and their posterity? So Rom. i. 18, you have this general a little more specified; God hath not only taken notice of the first table, but of the second: ‘The wrath of God is revealed from heaven,’ not only ‘against all ungodliness,’ but ‘unrighteousness of men,’ &c. God from heaven hath owned both tables, and executed the sentence of the law against sinners: Hosea vii. 12, ‘I will chastise them as their congregation hath heard.’ If a man would observe providence, he might find not only justice in God’s dispensations, but truth. I rather note this, because God’s children may smart in this life for breach of the law. Though sentence of absolution takes place as to their persons and state, yet in this life they may smart sorely for the breach of the law. In time of trial God will make the world know he is impartial, that none shall go free, but the sentence of the word shall be executed: Prov. xi. 31, ‘The righteous shall be recompensed in the earth, much more the wicked and the sinner.’ Recompensed; that is, with a recompense of punishment: so Peter reads it out of the Septuagint, 1 Peter iv. 18, ‘And if the righteous scarcely be saved,’ &c. It is a hard matter to keep a righteous man from falling under the vengeance of God: God stands so much upon the credit of his word, that he deals out smart blows and stripes for their iniquity here in this world.
[2.] In the next world, there is no other sentence given but what is according to the word: John xii. 48, ‘The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge you in the last day.’ God will pronounce sentence then according to what is said now, either to believers or unbelievers.
Well, then, upon these grounds you see the execution is not only judgment, but the very law is judgment. A man that is to be examined and tried for life and death would fain know how it would speed with him, and how matters shall be carried beforehand. God will not deal with you by way of surprise; he hath plainly told you 64according to what rule he will proceed: saith he, ‘The word which I have spoken, the same shall judge you at the last day.’
Use. I would apply this first term, judgments, thus: to press us to regard the sentence of the word more. If you cannot stand before the word of God, how will you stand before Christ’s tribunal at the last day? Many times there is a conviction in the ore, though not refined to full conviction, and that discovers itself thus, by a fear to be tried and searched: John iii. 20, ‘They will not come to the light, lest their deeds should be reproved.’ They that are loath to know are loath to search: you can have no comfort but what is according to the tenor of the word, and no happiness but what is according to the sentence of the word. What the word doth say to you, as sure as God is true it will be accomplished to a tittle. God stands upon his word more than anything: when ‘heaven and earth shall pass away,’ and be ‘burned like a scroll,’ ‘not a jot of the word,’ either law or gospel, ‘shall pass away.’ If we did think of this with seriousness, then one part of the word would drive us to another; we would run from the law to the gospel. Sinners could not lie in a carnal state: this law is not only my rule, but my judgment; and believers could not be so listless, and secure, and negligent as they are in their holy calling. Their doom in the word, this would make them seek more earnestly for pardon and grace, and make them strictly watch over their hearts and ways. Either we do not believe that the word is true, or that God will be so punctual and exact as he hath declared. We dream of strange indulgences for which we have no cause, or else we would be more frequent at the throne of grace, and more exact and watchful in the course of our conversations.
Secondly, The next term to be opened is righteousness, another title given to the word in this psalm: it is so called, Heb. v. 13, ‘Unskilful in the word of righteousness;’ and 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17, it is ‘profitable for instruction in righteousness.’ But why is the word called righteousness? Because it shows how a man shall be justified, and how a justified man should approve himself both to God and man.
1. It showeth how a man shall be justified and accepted as righteous before God; therefore the word is called righteousness. This is a great secret and riddle which was hidden from the wise men of the world; they could never have found it out by all the profound researches and inquiries of nature into natural things; unless the word of God had made it known, it should still have been in the dark. For righteousness to plead for you. and to find acceptance, alas we should be thinking of going up to heaven, and going down into the deep; no, no, ‘the word is nigh thee.’ Rom. x. 8. This notion of the righteousness of Christ was the best notion the world was ever acquainted with; that when we all lay guilty, obnoxious to the wrath of God, and to the revenges of his angry justice, that then the Lord should reveal a righteousness, ‘even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all that believe;’ as the apostle amplifies it, Rom. iii. 22. What a rich and glorious discovery was this of the mind and counsel of God to poor sinners, that he hath revealed such a righteousness!
2. The word is called righteousness, because it shows how a justified 65man should approve himself both to God and man, by a holy conversation. It is the rule of moral righteousness: 1 John iii. 7, ‘He is righteous that doth righteousness,’ in the judgment of the word. There is not only righteousness wrought by Christ for believers, but also righteousness wrought by Christ in believers, when a man doth exercise himself in performing his duties to God and man.
Use. Well, then, if we would be skilful in the matters of righteousness—
1. Consult often with the word, which is the copy of God’s most righteous will. A man need go no further either for direction, quickening, or encouragement. The world despiseth the plain directions of the word, and crieth up the notion of things, and looketh for quainter conceits, and things of a more sublime speculation. If we should only bring scripture, and urge men by God’s authority, and call upon them in Christ’s name, and by Christ’s arguments, this would be too low for them. But this is to tax the wisdom of God. He that ‘hath the key of David’ knew what kind of wards would fit the lock—what directions, what quickening notions and encouragements were fittest to be used in the case, to gain men to a sense of their duty both to God and man, and bring them into a way of righteousness.
2. Do you manifest the word to be righteousness: ‘Wisdom should be justified of her children,’ Mat. xi. 19. You should evidence it to the carnal world by taking off their prejudices, that the word may be justified. The world hath a suspicion; now evidence it to the conscience that it is a holy rule, a perfect direction for righteousness. The world prieth into the conversation of the saints; they live much by sensible things; therefore declare and evidence it to be a righteous thing.
So much for the title that is given to the word of God, thy judgments and righteousness.
Secondly, We come now to his act of duty about the word, or the benefit which he desired, ‘When I shall have learned.’ By learning he means his attaining not only to the knowledge of the word, but the practice of it. It is not a speculative light, or a bare notion of things: John vi. 45, ‘Every man therefore that hath heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me.’ It is such a learning as the effect will necessarily follow, such a light and illumination as doth convert the soul, and frame our hearts and ways according to the will of God; for otherwise if we get understanding of the word, nay, if we get it imprinted in our memories, it will do us no good without practice.
Doct. The best of God’s servants are but scholars and students in the knowledge and obedience of his word.
For saith David, which had so much acquaintance, ‘When I shall have learned.’ The professors of the Christian religion were primitively called disciples or learners: Acts vi. 2, τὸ πλῆθος τῶν μαθητῶν, ‘The multitude of the disciples.’ This seems to be the true definition of a church, the genus and difference; the genus is the community or multitude of men united among themselves, as a corporation, city, or household. The difference or form is disciples, those that gave up themselves to Christ to be taught and governed, and to be instructed in this way and doctrine. So Acts xi. 26, it is said there, ‘The disciples 66were called Christians first at Antioch.’ Christians are disciples and to difference them from the disciples of other men, they are the disciples of Christ. (1.) The school, that is, the church, where there are public lectures read to all visible professors; but the elect getting saving knowledge, they are not only taught of men, but taught of God, they have an inward light. (2.) The book, that is, the scripture, ‘which is able to make wise to salvation,’ to ‘make the man of God perfect,’ 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17. Some run to tradition, others cry up their own reason to the wrong of the scripture; they make Christ to be their disciple rather than they his, when they will not receive things upon his testimony and revelation, as the Socinians. (3.) The teacher is either supreme or subordinate. The supreme teacher is Christ; he is the great prophet of the church: so it is said, John vi. 45, ‘They shall be taught of God.’ This is, such a teacher that not only opens the scripture, but ‘opens the understanding,’ Luke xxiv. 45. The subordinate teachers are the ministers of the gospel, whom God useth for this work; not out of any indigence, but indulgence; not for any efficacy in the preacher, but out of a suitableness to the hearer, as a means most agreeable to our frail estate, to deal with us by way of counsel. God can teach us without men, by the secret illapses of his Spirit; but he will use those that are of the same nature with ourselves, that have the same temptations, necessities, and affections, which know the heart of a man. He would use them who, if they deceive us, must deceive themselves; he would use men of whose conversation and course we are conscious; we know their walk and way; he would use them as ‘ambassadors’ to ‘pray us in Christ’s stead to be reconciled to God,’ 2 Cor. v. 20. (4.) The lesson which we learn is not only to know, but to obey. Science without conscience will not fit our turn, nor suit with the dignity of our teacher. To be like children that have the rickets, swollen in the head, when the feet are weak; we do not learn truth as it is in Jesus till we be regenerated, for that is a truth for practice and walking, not for talk, Eph. iv. 21. He is most learned that turns God’s word into works: 1 John ii. 4, 5, ‘He that saith I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.’ In this school there is no man counted a proficient, but he that grows in practice. It is not the curious searcher that is the best scholar, but the humble practitioner; when we are cast into the mould of this doctrine, and have the prints, the stamp and character of it upon our heart; as Rom. vi. 17, ‘Ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.’ In the original it is, ‘Whereto ye were delivered.’ When we come to a physician, it is not enough to know his prescriptions, but they must be followed. We do not come to Christ as students of physic, to be trained up in the theory, but as patients; not as one that minds the art, but the cure, to do what is prescribed, that we may know how to get rid of our soul-diseases. Therefore Christ saith, John viii. 31, ‘Then are ye my disciples indeed, if my word abide in you.’ There are Christ’s disciples in pretence, and Christ’s disciples indeed; those that make it their work to get from Christ a power and virtue to carry on a uniform and constant obedience, these are the 67true learners. Therefore it will not fit our turn unless we labour to come under the power of what we learn, as well as get the knowledge; and it will not suit with the dignity of our teacher, who doth not only enlighten the mind, but change us by his efficacy, and leaves a suitable impression upon the soul. God writeth the lesson upon our hearts; that is, not only gives us the lesson, but a heart to learn it. Man’s teaching is a pouring it into the ears. This is God’s teaching, to inform our reason, and move our will: Phil. ii. 13, ‘It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do, of his good pleasure.’ He teacheth us promises so as to make us believe them; and commandments so as to make us obey them; and the doctrine of the gospel teacheth us so as to stamp the impression of it upon the soul, to change us into his image and likeness, 2 Cor. iii. 18.
Use. It presseth us to give up ourselves to this learning. Study the word, but take God for your teacher. Look to him that speaks from heaven if you would learn to purpose, otherwise our natural blindness will never be cured, nor our prejudices removed, nor our wills gained to God; or if they should be gained to a profession of truth, it will never hold long. When men lead us into a truth, we shall easily be led off again by other men; and all a man’s teaching will never reform the heart. Man’s light is like a March sun, which raiseth vapours, but doth not dispel and scatter them; so it discovers lust, but doth not give us power to suppress it; therefore our main business must be to be taught of God.
Further, Observe your proficiency in this knowledge: Heb. v. 14, To ‘have your senses exercised to discern both good and evil.’ We should every day grow more ‘skilful in the word of righteousness,’ John xiv. 9, ‘Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?’ To be backward in the knowledge of grace after long teaching, and to be still conflicting with fleshly lusts, which is the exercise of beginners—so much means and so small experience, and get no further—this is sad!
Thirdly, The fruit of this benefit obtained, ‘Then shall I praise him.’ From hence observe—
1. Upon receipt of every mercy we should praise God. We are forward in supplication, but backward in gratulation. This is a more noble duty, and continueth with us in heaven. It is the work of glorified saints and angels to praise God. All the lepers could beg health, yet but one returned to give God the glory. This is sad when it is so; for this is a more sublime duty, therefore it should have more of our care. This is a profitable duty: Ps. lxvii. 5, 6, ‘Let the people praise thee, O Lord, let all the people praise thee. Then shall the earth yield her increase, and God, even our own God, shall bless us.’ The more vapours go up, the more showers come down; and the more praises go up, the more mercies. There is a reciprocal intercourse between us and God, by mercies and praises, as there is between the earth and the lower heavens, by vapours and showers. There are two words by which our thankfulness to God is expressed, praising and blessing: Ps. cxlv. 10, ‘All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.’ What is the difference? Praise respecteth God’s excellences, and blessing respecteth God’s benefits. 68We may praise a man that never hath done us good, if he be excel lent and praiseworthy; but blessing respecteth God’s bounty and benefits; yet they are promiscuously taken sometimes, as here praise is taken for blessing.
2. Observe: We should praise God especially for spiritual blessings, Eph. i. 3. Why? Partly because these come from the special love of God. God bestows corn, wine, and oil in the general upon the world; but now knowledge, and grace, and blessed experiences of communion with God, these are special things, he bestows them upon the saints, therefore deserves more thankfulness. Protection, it is the common benefit of every subject; but preferment and favour is for friends, and those that are near to the prince; so this is the favour of his people, called so Ps. cvi. 5, ‘Show me the favour of thy people.’ This is a special blessing God bestoweth upon his own children. Again, these concern the better part, the inward man, the spirit, the soul, which is the man. He doth us more favour which heals a wound in the body than he that only seweth up a rent in our garment (for the body is more than raiment); so he that doth good to our souls is more than he that doth good to our bodies, which gives outward blessings, because these are above the body. Again, these are pledges of eternal blessings in heavenly places: ‘He hath blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places.’ But why is it said, ‘He hath blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places’? Why, there they began, and there they are consummated; there was their first purpose, and there is the final accomplishment. A man may have the world, and yet never the nearer heaven; but when he hath grace, and learned God’s statutes, and his heart is gained to obedience of God’s will, this is more than gold, silver, and great riches. Again, these dispose the heart to thankfulness. There is an occasion to praise God, and a heart to praise him; outward mercies give us an occasion, but spiritual mercies give a disposition. Other things are but motives to praise God, but these are preparations. And then other things, they are given in judgment; these things cannot. A man may have an estate in judgment, but he cannot have Christ and grace in judgment. These things are always given in mercy.
Use. Well, then, the use is to reprove us that we are no more sensible of spiritual benefits. We love the body more than the soul, and therefore have a quick sense of bodily mercies. But now, in soul concernments we are not the like affected. It is for want of observation to descry the progress of grace, and God’s dealings with the inward man: Col. iv. 2, ‘Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.’ And it is for want of affection. We are wrought upon by carnal arguments, mercies of flesh and blood, and showers of rain, food, and gladness. These things make us praise God; but that which we get from God in an ordinance, we are not so sensible of.
3. I observe again, those that have learned God’s righteous judgments, they are only fit to praise God: Ps. xxxiii. 1, ‘Praise is comely for the upright.’ It is unseemly in a wicked man’s mouth that he should be praising of God. It is his duty, but it is not so comely; but praise to the upright, this is suitable. Canticum novum et vetus 69homo male concordant, saith Austin. The new song, the psalm of praise, and the old man, make but ill music. We need a new heart, if we would go about this work. It is an exercise becoming the godly. We should be reconciled to God, and have his grace and favour. Under the law they were to bring their peace-offering, and lay it on the top of the burnt-offering, Lev. iii. When we come to offer a thank-offering to God, we should be in a state of amity and friendship with him. That is the clear moral of that ceremony: ‘Sing with grace in your hearts,’ Col. iii. 16. Others have not such matter nor such hearts to praise God; they are but tinkling cymbals. But those that have grace, it is acceptable and comely for them.
4. I observe again, ‘I will praise thee when I shall have learned,’ &c. Those that profit by the word, they are bound to praise God, and acknowledge him as the author of all that they have got. The grace of a teachable heart, we have it from him, therefore the honour must be his. He that gave the law, he it is that writes it upon the heart. Alas! we in ourselves are but ‘like the wild ass’s colt,’ Job xi. 12, both for rudeness of understanding, and also for unruliness of affection. Well, then, if we be tamed and subdued, he must have all the glory and the praise: Ps. xvi. 7, ‘Blessed be God that gave me counsel in my reins.’ It was God which made the word effectual, and counselled us how to choose him for our portion. We were as indocile and in capable as others. If God had left us to our own swing, what fools should we have been!
Use. It reproves us because we are so apt to intercept the revenues of the crown of heaven, and to convert them to our own use, like rebels against God. This proud pronoun ego, I, I, is always interposing: ‘This Babel which I have built.’ We are sacrificing to this proud self: This I have done; and if God be mentioned, it is but for fashion’s sake, as those women in the prophet Isaiah, ‘Only call us by thy name; we will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel’—I allude to it. God must bear the name, but we sacrifice to ourselves in all we get, as if it were our own acquiring. ‘God, I thank thee,’ saith the Pharisee; yet he trusted in himself that he was righteous, Luke viii. Oh, learn, then, the commendable modesty of God’s servants, of ascribing all to God: Luke xix. 16, he doth not say my industry, but ‘thy pound hath gained another.’ And ‘by the grace of God I am what I am.’ And ‘I laboured more abundantly than they all.’ He corrects it presently, ‘Yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me,’ 1 Cor. xv. 10. So again: Gal. ii. 20, ‘I live;’ and then, presently, ‘not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ Thus should we learn to be faithful and loyal to God, and deal with him as Joab did to David when he was like to surprise Rabbah, and take it: 2 Sam. xii. 28, ‘Encamp against the city, and take it, lest I take the city, and it be called after my name.’ Let us be very jealous that we do not get into God’s place, and self interpose, and perk up with what we have attained unto; for the Lord must have all the glory, the praise must be his.
The fourth circumstance in the text is the manner of performing this duty of rendering praise; with an upright heart. I shall not discourse of uprightness in general, but uprightness in praising God. 70God must be praised with a great deal of uprightness of soul; that is the note. This uprightness in praising lieth in two things,—not only with the tongue, but the heart; not only with the heart, but the life.
1. Not only with the tongue, but with the heart: Ps. ciii. 1, ‘Praise the Lord, my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name.’ Mark, not only with my tongue, ‘with my glory,’ as he calls it, but with my soul. Formal speeches are but an empty prattle, which God regards not: Ps. xlvii. 7, ‘Sing ye praises with understanding.’ It is fit the noblest faculty should be employed in the noblest work. This is the noblest work, to praise God; therefore all that is within us must be summoned. Church adversaries took up a customary form: Zech. xi. 5, ‘Blessed be the Lord, for I am rich.’ And in Nehemiah it is said, ‘Your brethren that hated me said, Let God be glorious.’ In instruments of music, the deeper the belly of the instrument, the sweeter the melody; so praise, the more it comes from the heart, the more acceptable to God.
2. This uprightness implies the life as well as the heart. Honour given to God in words is many times retracted and disproved by the dishonour we do to him in our conversations. This is the carrying Christ on the top of the pinnacle, as the devil did, with an intent he might throw down himself again. So we seem to advance and carry him high in praises, that we may throw him down in our lives: Titus i. 16, ‘They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him.’ Empty compliments God accepteth not, as long as there is blasphemy in their lives. Our lives must glorify him: Mat. v. 16, ‘Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.’
Use. It reproves us that we are no more hearty and serious in the praises of God. In our necessities, when we want, then we can howl upon our bed. Our necessity doth put a shrill accent upon our groans, and sharpen our affections in prayer; but in praise, how cold and dull are we! Surely we should be as warm in the one as in the other. Then it may press you to live praises, and show forth the praises of him in your conversation, 1 Peter ii. 7. Hezekiah had been sick, God recovered him, he penned a psalm of thanksgiving, Isa. xxxviii. 9. Yet it is said, ‘He rendered not according to what he received,’ &c., 2 Chron. xxxii., because his heart was proud and lifted up. If you do not walk more humbly and closely with God, it is not praise with uprightness of heart; it must issue and break out in our actions and course of our conversation.
|« Prev||Sermon VIII. I will praise thee with uprightness…||Next »|