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My soul breaketh for the longing it hath unto thy judgments at all times.—Ver. 20.
DAVID had begged divine illumination, ver. 18. The reason of his request was, because he was a stranger upon earth, and a stranger may easily be bewildered. Now here is a second reason why he would 184have God to open his eyes, because his heart was carried out with so strong an affection to the word. He that asketh a thing coldly doth but bespeak his own denial. But David was in good earnest when he prayeth for light; it was not a dead-hearted, perfunctory petition, but such as came from an ardent, strong affection, ‘My soul breaketh,’ &c.
In the words we have—
1. The object of David’s affection, thy judgments.
2. The quality or kind of his affection:—
[1.] It was vehement, my soul breaketh with longing.
[2.] It was constant, at all times.
By misphalim, judgments, is meant the word, which is the infallible rule of God’s proceeding with sinners.
For the affection, I shall open that, and there first speak of the vehemency, ‘My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath.’ It is a metaphorical expression, to set forth the earnestness of his affection. The Septuagint renders it thus: ἐπεπόθησεν ἡ ψυχή μου τὸ ἐπιθυμῆσαι τὰ κρίματά σου—‘My soul coveteth to desire thy judgments.’ Desire is the stretching forth of the soul to the thing desired. Now as things that are stretched out do break and crack in stretching; so, saith David, ‘My soul breaketh for the longing.’ Here is no respect to brokenness of heart in this place, it is only strength of desire that is expressed; and the expression is used the rather—
1. Because affections, when strong, are painful, and affect the body with impressions answerable thereunto.
2. Not only the denial, but the delay of satisfying the affection, increaseth the pain. When they have not what they do desire, they are even broken in heart; as Prov. xiii. 12, ‘Hope deferred maketh the heart sick; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life;’ like apples of paradise, comforting and reviving. Now the constancy and continuance of this desire is set forth in these words, at all times; not for a flash and pang, but it was the ordinary frame of his heart.
Doct. God’s children have a strong, constant, and earnest bent of affection towards his word.
1. To open the nature of this affection.
2. The reasons of it.
First, The nature. There consider the object, the end, the properties, and the effects.
1. The object of this affection is the word of God written or preached. As it is written in the scriptures, so it is their constant exercise to read it, and consult with it often: Ps. i. 2, ‘But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night’; and Josh. i. 8, ‘This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night.’ As it is preached and explained: they submit to God’s ordinance in that also, who hath appointed pastors and teachers, as well as prophets and apostles: Eph. iv. 11—prophets and apostles to write scriptures; so pastors and teachers to open and apply scripture; therefore James i. 19, they are ‘swift to hear;’ that is, take all occasions for that end and purpose.
2. For the end of this affection; it is a sanctified subjection to God; and strength and growth in the spiritual life: 1 Peter ii. 2, ‘As new-born 185babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby;’ not merely that you may know, but that you may grow thereby; not to replenish the head with notions, but that you may increase in spiritual strength, and find more liberty of heart towards God.
3. For the properties of it. You have them here in the text:—
[l.] They must be earnest.
[2.] A constant bent of heart.
[1.] An earnest bent of heart. Common and ordinary affection or desire after the word will not serve the turn; not a faint and cold wish, but such as hath heat and warmth in it. It is good to see by what expressions the desires of the saints are set forth in scripture. By the desire of infants after the breast, 1, Peter ii. 2; they cannot live without it. It is set forth also by the panting of the hart after the water-brooks, Ps. xlii. 1. To meet with God in his word is as a brook of water to a chased hart; it refresheth and revives it. It is set forth by the desires of a longing woman, ver. 40 of this psalm, ‘Behold I have longed after thy precepts.’ The children of God are fond of nothing so much as of his word and ordinances. It is set forth by the appetite which a hungry man hath toward his meat after a long abstinence: Ps. lxxxiv. 2, ‘My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord.’ Or, as a weary traveller and thirsty man longeth after drink: Ps. lxiii. 1, ‘My soul thirsteth for thee,’ &c. Or. as cool air to the weary: Ps. cxix. 131, ‘I opened my mouth and panted; for I longed for thy commandments;’ a metaphor taken from a man tired with running, gaping for breath to take in some cool air and refreshing. What think you of all these expressions? are they strains and reaches of wit, or the real experiences of the children of God? The truth is, we have such languid motions this way, that we know not how to understand the force of such expressions, therefore we think them to be conceits, we that are so cold and indifferent whether we meet with God in his word, yea or nay.
[2.] As it is not cold, so it is not fleeting, but constant. Many men have good affections for a while, but they abide not; as I shall give you some kinds.
(1.) Some out of error in judgment think the word of God is only fit for novices (as the Stancarists77 Stancarus was professor of Hebrew at Königsberg, where he maintained a violent controversy with Osiander. He afterwards went into Poland, where he excited much commotion. There he died in 1574.—ED.), to enter us into the rudiments of religion, but too low a dispensation for our after growth. It is milk for babes, they think; but afterwards we must live immediately upon the Spirit. But we see that David’s affection ever carried him to the word, not only at his first acquaintance with God, but at all times, as in the text.
(2.) Some prize the word in adversity, when they have no other comforts to live upon; then they can be content to study the word to comfort them in their distresses; but when they are well at ease they despise it. But David made use of it at all times; in prosperity, to humble him; in adversity, to comfort him; in the one, to keep him from pride; in the other, to keep him from despair: in affliction the word was his cordial; in worldly increase it was his antidote; and so 186at all times his heart was carried out to the word either for one necessity or another.
(3.) Some during a qualm of conscience have an affection for holy things; as we desire strong waters in a pang, not for a constant diet. While the terrors of God are upon them, nothing will satisfy them but the word: Oh, ‘send for Moses and Aaron,’ then when the plague was upon them; but as their trouble wears off, so doth their affection to the word of God. It is fear that drives them to the word, and not love.
(4.) Some out of a general sense of the excellency that is in the word; they go on smoothly for a while, as Herod, who heard gladly, Mark vi. 20. So do many till the word come to cross their lusts and touch their darling sin, then they run to earthly pleasures again, and out of a sense of difficulty and carnal despondency, they give over the pursuit.
(5.) Some are taken with the mere novelty: John v. 35, ‘Ye were willing to rejoice in his light for a season;’ while the doctrine is novel, and ministers have countenance from great men, as John had from Herod, and their gifts are in the flourish—none but John in their account; but when the conceit of novelty was gone, and John fell under the cross, then their affection was spent.
(6.) Some in case of dubious anxiety, or in doubtful debates, may desire to know the truth, and be much and earnest in the study of the word; but when they get above their scruples, and in plain truths, ordinary cases, they neglect it. Whereas David longed for the word of God at all times, to feel the power of God accompanying it, so as to find strength against his corruptions, and that he might be established in waiting upon God. This was the constant and stable desire of his soul.
Thus you see the word of God is the object, either read or preached. The end of it is, that they may grow in grace, and that their hearts may be more subjected to God, and may be strengthened in waiting upon him: and the manner of this desire is vehement and constant; not at times; but it is the usual frame and temper of their hearts.
4. The effects of this desire, what it worketh. I will mention but two:—
[1.] It draws off the heart from other things: Ps. cxix. 136, ‘Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not unto covetousness;’ implying, that when the heart is drawn out after God’s testimonies, it is drawn off from carnal pursuits. Desires are the vigorous bent of the soul, and therefore, as the stream of a river, they can run but one way. Our passionate desires of earthly things certainly will be abated if spiritual desires prevail in us; for being acquainted with a better object, they begin to disdain and loathe other things.
[2.] It maketh us diligent and painful in the use of means, that we may get knowledge and strength by the word. Where strong desires are, there will be great endeavours: Prov. viii. 34, ‘Watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.’ A man that hath a desire after grace and strength by the word of God will daily be redeeming occasions of waiting upon God. It is but a slight wish, not serious desire, that is not seconded with answerable endeavours.187
Secondly, Having opened the nature of these desires, let me show the reasons of this vehement and constant bent of heart towards the word of God.
1. Of the vehemency.
2. Of the constancy.
First, The reasons of this vehemency; they are these natural instinct, experience, and necessity.
[1.] Natural instinct: 1 Peter ii. 2, ‘As new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word.’ Children desire the dug, not by instruction, but by instinct, without a teacher. All creatures desire to preserve that life which they have; and therefore by a natural propension they run to that thing from whence they received life. Mere instinct carrieth the brute creatures to the teats of their dams; and every effect looks to the cause, to receive from thence its last perfection. Trees, that receive life from the earth and the sun, they send forth their branches to receive the sun, and stretch their roots into the earth which brought them forth. Fishes will not out of the water which breeds them. Chickens are no sooner out of the shell, but they shroud themselves under the feathers of the hen. The little lamb runs to the dam’s teat, though there be a thousand sheep of the same wool and colour; as if it said, here I received that I have, and here I’ll seek that I want. By such a native inbred desire do the saints run to God, to seek a supply of strength and nourishment; and the desire is very strong and vehement: ‘One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after,’ &c. There were other things David might desire, but this one thing his heart was set upon, that he might enjoy constant communion with God in the use of public ordinances. What is the reason of this? I answer—The spiritual nature. You may as well ask what teacheth the young lambs to suck, as who taught the regenerate to long for the word. What teacheth the chicken to run under the wing of the hen? The cause of appetite is not persuasion and discourse, but inclination; not argument, but nature. Appetite is an effect of life. By natural tendency the new creature is carried out to its support from the word of God, there to be comforted and nourished. It shows that all who have not such a kindly appetite to the word of God, that can relish nothing but meats, drinks, wealth, vanity, they were never acquainted with this new nature.
[2.] Experience is another cause of this desire. A child of God is not satisfied with a slight taste of the word, but he desires more; when he hath felt the comfort of it, he is still longing to receive more from God: James i. 18, ‘He hath begotten us by the word of truth.’ What follows? ‘Wherefore be swift to hear.’ A man that hath had experience of the power of the word taketh all occasions; he knows there is strength, grace, and liberty of heart to be found there. So 1 Peter ii. 3, ‘As new-born babes, &c., if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.’ Certainly a man that hath had any taste of communion with God will desire a fuller measure, as by tasting of excellent meats we get an appetite to them. Carnal men do not know what it is to enjoy God in ordinances, and therefore do not long for them; they do not taste the sweetness of the word: Ps. xix. 10, ‘The statutes of the Lord are sweeter than the honey or the honeycomb.’ The children of God find more true pleasure in the ordinances, in the statutes of God, than in all things in the world, though to carnal men they are but as dry sticks, burdensome exercises. The reason follows, ver. 11, ‘Moreover, by them is thy servant warned; and in keeping of them there is great reward.’ He commendeth the word from his own experience; he had felt the effects and good use of it in his own heart; he had been warned, and had a great deal of comfort and refreshing by it; therefore it is sweeter than the honey and the honeycomb. So Ps. lxiii. 1,2, ‘O God, my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee.’ What to do? ‘To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.’ He that hath had once a sight of God, would not be long out of his company. He compareth his desire of communion with God with hunger and thirst; his desire is greater than the hunger and thirst that men suffer in a dry wilderness where there is no water to give refreshment. He had seen God, and would now see him again; the remembrance of those former pleasures of the sanctuary revived his desires: so that besides nature, there is this experience.
[3.] The next cause is necessity. We should take delight in the word of God for its excellency, though we stood in no need of it. But our necessity is very great, and this awakens desire. The word is not only compared to things which make for conveniency of life, as to wine and honey, but is compared also to things that are of absolute necessity, bread and water. It is called ‘bread of life,’ and ‘water of life.’ Bread of life; we cannot live without it: Job xxiii. 12, ‘I have esteemed the words of thy mouth more than my necessary food.’ Food is that which keeps us in life, and enables us to action and work. And as water: Isa. xii. 3, ‘With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.’ This is as water to a fainting traveller. Christian, the soul is better than the body, and eternal life is to be preferred before life natural; therefore the necessities of the soul are greater, and should be more urging than the necessities of the body. The famine of the word is threatened as a very great evil, Amos viii. 11. Now because the necessities of the saints are so great, therefore have they their hearts carried out with such longing after the statutes of God. And this necessity is not only at first, when they are weak, but it continueth with them as long as the imperfection continueth with them, and till they come to heaven. Every grace in a child of God needs increase and support; there is something that is lacking to their faith, to their love, to their knowledge: 1 Thes. iii. 10, the apostle saith, ‘That I might perfect that which is lacking to your faith.’ They that are above ordinances are not acquainted with their own hearts, they are not men of spiritual experience, they do not know the weaknesses and languishings a child of God is incident to; it is wholly inconsistent to the nature of grace. Wherever there is life there must be food, because of the constant depastion of the natural heat upon the natural moisture. Though the stomach be never so full at present, yet anon it will be hungry again. So because of the constant combat that is between the flesh and spirit, wherever there is spiritual life it will be sensible of the necessity of food. Well, 189then, it is hunger and necessity that sharpens appetite; being sensible of spiritual languishing, and need to repair strength daily, therefore are their hearts carried out. Thus you see the reasons of this vehement affection.
Secondly, The reasons of the constancy of this respect.
1. Because it is natural and kindly to the regenerate; therefore, as it is vehement, so it is constant. For it is not a light motion, but such as is deeply rooted; not a good liking, but a thorough bent of heart; it is that which settleth into another nature. Now that which is as a nature to us is known by its uniformity and constancy.
2. They love the word for its own sake, as it is God’s word; therefore they ever love it. Other men love it for foreign reasons, as out of novelty, which is an adulterous affection; or out of public countenance, as it is in fashion and repute, and therefore are soon weary of it. He that loves a woman for foreign reasons, as beauty and portion, when these cease, his love ceaseth.
Use 1. Is to reprove the coldness and cursed satiety and loathing of the word of God that is abroad. There is a plenty of means, even to a surfeit. Men are gospel-glutted, Christ-glutted, and sermon-glutted; and therefore are at a very great indifferency, and under a mighty coldness as to the word of God. Usually we are more sensible of the benefit of the word in the want of it than we are in the enjoyment of it: 1 Sam. iii. 1, ‘The word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.’ When the public ministry of the prophets was rare and scarce, then it was precious and sweet. When the Papists denied the use of the scripture in the vulgar tongue, oh! what would we give then for a little scrap and fragment of the word of God in English!—a load of hay for a chapter in James. So in times of restraint, how savoury is a godly sermon! But now visions are open, men begin to surfeit of the word. In semet ipsam, saith Tertullian, semper abundantia contumeliosa est—plenty lesseneth the price of things. As in Solomon’s time, gold and silver were as dirt in the streets, 1 Kings x. 32, so the word of God, though it be so precious and excellent, yet when we have plenty of it, line upon line, precept upon precept, by God’s indulgence, then we begin to be glutted. People grow wanton when they have abundance of means. This is the temper of English professors at this day; they are guilty of surfeiting of the word, and that is very dangerous, either of a people or person. Now, that there is such a fulness and satiety appears partly—
1. By seldom attendance upon the word. We do not redeem time to hear the word; when brought home to our doors, we seldom step out to hear it. They use to say, a surfeit of bread is most dangerous; surely a surfeit of the bread of life is so; when men are full, and begin to despise the word as if not worth the hearing. God usually sends a famine to correct that surfeit of the word: Amos viii. 11, 12, ‘I will send a famine of hearing the word of the Lord, and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.’ Usually that is the way that God taketh for a glutted people, that scorn and neglect the word, when they might gather it in like manna from heaven every day; that they may ride many miles before they 190hear a savoury sermon; and then those that were not for the word, or desirous to be rid of it, may long for a little comfort and reviving by it, and cannot enjoy it.
2. Men bewray this satiety and fulness of the word by fond affectation of luscious strains; wholesome doctrines will not down with them, unless it be cooked and sauced to their wanton appetites. O Christians! the spiritual appetite desires τὸ λογικὸν ἄδολον γάλα, ‘the sincere milk of the word,’ 1 Peter ii. 2—unmixed milk; give them plain, simple milk, without human mixtures and compositions. The relish of the word is spoiled by the garish strains of a frothy eloquence. A plain solid truth is more suitable to a gracious heart. A man that hath a natural instinct to the word delights in the simplicity of it. An infant hath a distinguishing palate, and knows the mother’s milk, and pukes and casts when it sucks another. So certainly, if we had true spiritual life, we would be delighted in the word for the word’s sake, the more plain it is, provided it be sound. I am not for a loose, careless delivering of God’s message; but it is the sound, plain, and wholesome ministry which suits with a gracious appetite. It argues a distempered heart when we must have quails and dainties, and loathe manna. Consider; in heaven, where we have the most simple apprehension of things, we have the highest affection to them; no need of rhetoric in heaven. And certainly the more heavenly we are, the more perfect in grace, the more wisdom shall we see in plain scriptural truth, infinitely exceeding all the wisdom of the heathen. Many think the word of God too plain for their mouths to preach it; others too stale for their ears to hear it; and they must have the fancies of men: Jer. viii. 9, ‘They have rejected my word; and what wisdom is in them?’ It is strange to see how many will disguise religion to please the lusts of men. They mock Christ, as the soldiers did, that put a centurion’s coat upon him for a robe, and then, ‘Hail, King of the Jews.’ So they wrap up Christ in the foolish garments of their own fancy, and so expose him to mockage rather than reverence.
3. This satiety bewrays itself by our affections to novel opinions, and erroneous conceits: 2 Tim. iv. 3, ‘The time will come that they will not endure sound doctrine, having itching ears, and shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.’ Observe it when you will, that soul is nigh to spiritual blasting that begins to have a loathing of a plain truth; and men must have new things and conceits in religion, and so grow weary of opinions, as they do of fashions; and then by God’s just judgment they run from one fancy to another, till they quite run themselves out of breath, and have shaken off all religion and good conscience. Therefore take heed of being given up to this vertiginous spirit, to be turned and 4 tossed up and down with every wind of doctrine,’ Eph. iv. 14. Περιφερόμενοι, the apostle’s word, signifies to be carried round in a circle; he alludes to a mariner’s compass,88 Manton could scarcely suppose that the mariner’s compass was known to the apostle. Neither would the description be at all applicable to it. I suspect he refers to some other instrument, of the nature of a weathercock, under that name.—ED. that is carried by every wind; this wind takes them, and then another; such light chaff are men 191when they begin to loathe the plain truths of God. But it is an argument of a gracious heart when we can receive old truth with new affections, and look for the power of God and new quickenings.
4. This levity and instability of spirit is because they look for all the virtue of religion from their notions and their opinions, and not from Christ; then they think this change of opinion shall make them, better; their hearts shall be changed. They try experiments so long, till the Lord hath given them up to a spirit of infatuation, and then all comes to nothing, but they as a brand are fit for the burning.
5. By our worldly projects. Men show a loathing of this word by their eagerness to the world; their hearts, with Martha, are cumbered with many things, while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus to hear his word, Luke x. We are very fervorous in worldly affairs; there we can experiment this kind of affection which David speaks of to the word. Beware of this coldness to the word; it is an ill symptom both to nations and persons.
Use 2. To press us to get this fervent and constant affection to the word. To this end consider—
1. Whose word it is. God’s word; and your best affections are due to him: Isa. xxvi. 8, ‘Our desires are to thee, and to the remembrance of thy name;’ there you shall hear of God, there God hath displayed his name. Our desires are to thee; not only so, but to thy ‘memorial,’ to ‘the remembrance of thy name;’ that is, to his word, which is as the bellows to blow up the sparks, and to quicken our affections to him.
2. See what benefits we have ‘by the word of God; how beneficial it is to enlighten and direct us, quicken and comfort us, supply and strengthen us.
[1.] To enlighten and direct us. ‘Light is pleasant,’ saith Solomon;’ it is a good thing to behold the sun with our eyes,’ Eccles. xi. 7. If light natural be pleasant, what is light spiritual? Therefore the Psalmist compares the word to the sun. The visible world can no more be without the one than the intellectual world can be without the other; and the one doth as much rejoice the heart as the other: Ps. xix. 8, ‘The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the judgments of the Lord are pure, enlightening the eyes.’ Oh! it is a comfort to have light to see our way. When men begin to have a conscience about heavenly things, oh! then they judge so indeed. To others we speak in vain when we tell them what light they shall have by the word. They say those that live under the arctic pole, at the autumnal equinoctial the sun setteth to them, and doth not rise again till the vernal, and so are six whole months under a perpetual night, as if they were buried in a grave; but at the time of its return, with what clapping of hands and expressions of joy do they welcome the sun again into their parts! So when the word of God is made known to us, how should we welcome it! The city of Geneva gave this for a motto, Post tenebras lux—after darkness, light; implying that the return of the gospel was as light after a long darkness; as the coming of the sun again to those northern people. While Paul and his company were in that great storm at sea, when they saw neither sun nor stars for many days, and were afraid they should 192fall upon rocks and dangerous shelves, oh! with what longing did they expect to see day again! Acts xxvii. So a poor bewildered soul that had lost its way, or when a child of God doth see but by half a light, how desirable is sure direction! Now this cannot be had but from the word of God, ‘To the law and to the testimony.’
[2.] To comfort us in all straits. In the word of God there is a salve for every sore, and a promise for every condition. God hath plentifully opened his good-will to sinners. Therefore the children of God, when they labour under the guilt of sin, there they can hear of God’s promises of pardon: Isa. lv. 7, ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.’ Against apostasy they have that promise: Jer. xxxii. 40, ‘I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.’ When they are under weak performances, the word will tell them, ‘The Lord will spare you, and pity you as a man spares his only son,’ Mal. iii. 17; and when they lie under troubles, inconveniences, and deep crosses, there is a promise—the Lord will be with them in affliction; the word will show them Christ in the affliction, and heaven beyond the affliction; and then they are comforted, 1 Cor. x. 13. When they are troubled about worldly provisions, providing for themselves and families, it saith, Be contented, ‘I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,’ Heb. xiii. 5. When their children come to their minds and thoughts, what will become of them when we are dead and gone, the word will tell you of promises made to you and your children, and of God’s taking care of them. In short, God is a sun and shield, and no good thing will he withhold,’ &c. Ps. lxxxiv. 11. There is all manner of blessings adopted and taken into covenant. Look round about the covenant, look into the word of God; there is nothing wanting for the comfort of believers; in every condition there is a promise to support and bear them up. Now, because of this comfort they have in the word of God, therefore it quickens their desires.
[3.] To supply and strengthen us. It is our food. Alas! what a poor languishing Christian will a man be that doth not often make use of the word! This strengthens him against corruptions, quickens him in duties, and gives success in conflicts. The sword of the Spirit is the choicest weapon. It is ‘the power of God to salvation.’ Rom. i. 16; and ‘the word of his grace, which is able to build us up,’ Acts xx. 32. If our heart be dead in prayer, here is the rod of Moses to strike upon the rock to make the waters gush out. Therefore, since we have such benefit by the word, we should long and desire to get such a strong affection.
3. Consider what benefit you will have by these desires after the word. It will keep up our diligence, and will make us exercise ourselves therein. Desire doth all that is done in the world; digging for knowledge is tedious, but the end sweetens it. They that have an affection to the word shall never be destitute of success therein;’ God will fulfil the desire of the saints.’ He that satisfieth the gaping of the young raven will these desires A strong affection to the word is the argument that moves God: Ps. cxlv. 19, ‘He will fulfil the desire 193of them that fear him; he also will hear their cry, and will save them.’ And if this desire be painful, yet it is salutary and healthful to the soul. In this sickness there is health; in this weakness there is strength; in this thirst, comfort; and in this hunger, satisfaction.
[1.] Get a high esteem of spiritual enjoyments. Valuation and esteem precede desire. Wicked men, that value themselves by carnal comforts, their souls run out with vehement longing that way. A child of God, that values himself by spiritual enjoyments, by know ledge, grace, subjection to God, that counts these his greatest benefits, his main desire is to be acquainted with the word of God. The word hath a subserviency to his end. Poor low-spirited creatures, that value themselves by the plenty of external accommodations, they will never feel this longing after the word. Prov. viii. 10, ‘Receive instruction rather than silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold.’
[2.] Let a man live in the awe of God, and make it his business to maintain communion with him, and then he will be longing after him. This will show the necessity of the word of God for his comfort and strength upon all occasions. A lively Christian, that is put to it in good earnest, he must have the word by him to direct, comfort, and strengthen him; as he that labours hard must have his meals, or else he will faint and be overcome by his labour. We content ourselves with a loose profession, and so do not see the need of food, have not this hungering longing desire after the bread of life. Painted fire needs no fuel; a dead formal profession is easily kept up; but a man that makes it his business to maintain communion with him, and much exercised to godliness, is hungering and thirsting that he might meet with God.
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