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Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word.—Ver. 65.
THE addresses that are made to God in this psalm are mostly prayers; while we are in the world we are compassed about with divers necessities and wants, but yet there is an intermixture of thanksgivings. We must not always be complaining, but sometimes giving of thanks. David was often exercised with various calamities; but as soon as he got rid of any danger, or obtained any deliverance, he is ready with his thanks and praises. Blessed will that time be when our mournings are altogether turned into triumphs, and our complaints into thanksgivings. But now here in the world gratulation should not wholly be shut out, but find a room in our addresses to God, as well as acknowledgments of sin and supplications for grace. None have to do with God but they find him bountiful, and there is no reason but present mercies should be acknowledged. In this Verse you have the working of a thankful soul, sensible of the benefits already obtained in prayer, and making hearty acknowledgment of them to God: ‘Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word.’ Observe—
1. An acknowledgment of some benefit bestowed, thou hast dealt well with thy servant.
2. The way in which it was bestowed, according to thy word.
First, An acknowledgment of some benefit bestowed. In it observe:—
1. The party giving, thou, O Lord.
2. The act of bounty, generally expressed, thou hast dealt well.
3. The party receiving, with thy servant.
The fountain of all that we have is the goodness and fidelity of God; the promise is the channel and pipe by which it is conveyed to us, and the object is God’s servant. When all these concur, how sweet is it! A good God is ready to show us mercy, and this mercy assured to us 193by promise, and God’s servants capacitated to receive mercy. There is an excellent cause, which is the benignity of God; a sure conveyance, which is the promise of God; and a prepared object, who are the servants of God.
1. The party giving is God himself: all good is to be referred to God as the author of it.
2. The benefit received is generally expressed, ‘Thou hast dealt well.’ Some translations out of the Hebrew, bonum fecisti—thou hast done good with thy servant; the Septuagint, χρηστοτητα ἐποίησας μετὰ τοῦ δούλου σοῦ—thou hast made goodness to or with thy servant: out of them the vulgar, bonitatem fecisti. Some take this clause generally, whatever thou dost for thy servants is good; they count it so, though it be never so contrary to the interest of the flesh: sickness is good, loss of friends is good, and so is poverty and loss of goods to a humble and thankful mind. But surely David speaketh here of some supply and deliverance wherein God had made good some promise to him. The Jewish rabbis understand it of his return to the kingdom, but most Christian writers understand it of some spiritual benefit, that good which God had done to him. If anything may be collected from the subsequent verses, it was certainly some spiritual good. The Septuagint repeats χρηστότηταtwice, in this and the following verse, as if he acknowledged the benefit of that good judgment and knowledge of which there he beggeth an increase. It was in part given him already, and that learned by afflictions, in the third verse of this portion: ‘Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I have learned thy word.’ Now then, go on to increase this work, this goodness which thou hast shown to thy servant.
3. The object, to ‘thy servant.’ It is an honourable comfortable style; David delighteth in it. God is a bountiful and a gracious master, ready to do good to his servants, rewarding them with grace here, and crowning that grace with glory hereafter: Heb. xi. 6, ‘He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.’
Secondly, The manner how this is assured and brought about, ‘According to thy word.’ That word, which is the encouragement of our prayer, is the rule of God’s proceedings. Some things are given by a common providence, other things are given us as servants of God, or according to the promises that are made us in the word.
Doct. 1. That God doth good to his servants.
Doct. 2. That the good which God hath done for us should be thankfully acknowledged.
Doct. 3. That in our thankful acknowledgments we should take notice of God’s truth, as well as his benignity and goodness.
Doct. I. That God doth good to his servants. David giveth us here his own experience, and every one that is a faithful servant of God may come in with the like acknowledgments; for what proof God giveth of his goodness to any one of his servants, it is a pledge of that love, respect, and care that he beareth towards all the rest. Jacob acknowledged the same: Gen. xxxiii. 11, ‘The Lord hath dealt graciously with me;’ that was his account of providence.
1. From the inclination of his own nature: Ps. cxix. 68, ‘Thou 194art good, and thou dost good.’ The Psalmist concludeth this act from his nature. The sun doth not more naturally shine, nor fire more naturally burn, nor water more naturally flow, than acts of grace and goodness do naturally flow from God. If there be anything besides benefits in the world, the fault is not in God, but in us, who by sin, provoke him to do otherwise.
2. The obligation of his promise; so this good cometh in as a reward, according to the law of his grace. He hath engaged himself by his promise to give us all good things: Ps. lxxxiv. 11, ‘The Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly;’ Ps. xxxiv. 9, 10, ‘Oh, fear the Lord, ye his saints, for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger, but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.’ Therefore it is said, Micah ii. 7, ‘Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?’ The words ‘saying good’ is a doing good; when it is said, it may be accounted done, because of the certain performance of what is said.
3. The preparation of his people; his servants are capable. God is good, and doeth good, modo non ponatur obex, except we tie his hands and hinder our own mercies. There are certain laws of commerce between God and his creatures, so between God and man; he meeteth us with his blessings in the way of our duty: Amos vi. 12, ‘Shall horses run upon the rock? will one plough there with oxen?’ Some ground is incapable of being ploughed; some are morally incapable of having good done to or for them. But when the creature is in a capacity, God communicateth his goodness to them, dealeth with men as they deal with him: Ps. xviii. 25, 26, ‘With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful, with an upright man thou wilt show thyself upright, with the pure thou wilt show thyself pure, with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward;’ so Ps. cxxv. 4, ‘Do good to those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts.’ God is and will be gracious and bountiful to all those that continue faithful to him, and will never leave any degree of goodness unrewarded; the covenant shall not fail on his part.
Use 1. Let us be persuaded of this truth; it is one of the first things in religion, Heb. xi. 6, ‘He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.’ Next unto his being, his bounty, or else our religion will be cold or none at all. Many conceive amiss of God, and draw an ill picture of him in their minds, as if he were hard to be pleased, always frowning. Did we look upon him as one that is good and willing to do good, we would have less backwardness to duty and weariness in his service. Satan drew off the hearts of our first parents from God by vain surmises, as if he were severe and envious: Gen. iii. 5, ‘God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’ This first battery was against the persuasion of God’s goodness and kindness to man, which he endeavoureth to discredit. Yea, God’s people may have the sense of his goodness strangely weakened. David is fain with violence to hold the conclusion which Satan would fain wrest out of his hands: 195Ps. lxxiii. 1, ‘Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a pure heart.’ Therefore we had need to fortify our hearts and forearm ourselves with strong consolations and arguments.
1. He doth good to his enemies, and therefore certainly he will much more to his servants: ‘He is good to all;’ Ps. cxlv. 9, ‘The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.’ The heathens had experience of it: Acts xiv. 17, ‘Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.’ And will he be unkind to his servants, to whom he is engaged by promise? It cannot be.
2. Consider Christ’s reasoning: Mat. vii. 11, ‘If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?’ God will not deal worse with his children than men do with theirs. We are natural and sinful parents: if we have any faith, or reason, or sense, we cannot gainsay this conclusion. A father will not be unnatural to his child; the most godless men will love their children, and seek their welfare, and do good unto them. Surely our heavenly Father will supply all our necessities, satisfy all our desires: he is more fatherly than all the fathers in the world can be; all the goodness in men is but as a drop to the ocean.
3. Consider, he never giveth his people any discouragement or just cause to complain of him: Micah vi. 3, ‘O my people, what have I done unto thee? or wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me;’ Jer. ii. 5, ‘Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanities and become vain?’ Why:—
[1.] His commands are not grievous: Mat. xi. 30, ‘My yoke is easy and my burthen is light;’ 1 John v. 3, ‘His commandments are not grievous.’ He prescribeth and commandeth nothing but for our good: Deut. vi. 24, ‘And the Lord commandeth us to do all the statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.’ That he may with honour perform and make good all that he hath promised: Gen. xviii 19, ‘For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.’ The obstructions removed, and grace flows out freely.
[2.] Trials sent by him are not above measure: 1 Cor. x. 13, ‘There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to men; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it;’ Isa. xxvii. 8, ‘In measure when it shooteth forth wilt thou debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.’ He dealeth with much discretion and moderation, not according to the greatness of his power or the heinousness of their sin, but observeth our strength, what we are able to bear.
[3.] His punishments are not above deservings: Ezra ix. 13, 196‘Seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve;’ Job xi. 6, ‘Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.’
[4.] He is not hard to be pleased, nor inexorable upon every failing: Mal. iii. 17, ‘And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.’ Many think God watch eth occasions to destroy them, or at least to molest and trouble them. No; he passeth by many weaknesses, or else what would become of the best of his children? pardoneth many sins, where the heart is sincere: 2 Chron. xxx. 18, 19, ‘The good Lord pardon every one that prepareth his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he be not cleansed according to the preparation of the sanctuary.’
4. If he doth not give them the good things of this world, he giveth them better in lieu of them. While they are here in this world they have those things not only that are good, but make them good, which cannot be said of all the things of this world; they may easily make us worse, but they cannot make us better. He giveth them such things as tend to the enjoyment of the chiefest good, which is himself. As he is a good God, he pardoneth their sins: Ps. xxv. 7, ‘Remember not the sins of my youth, for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord;’ that is one of the effects of his goodness to them. He directs them in the way of life: Ps. xxv. 8, ‘Good and upright is the Lord, therefore will he teach sinners in the way.’ He beginneth, carrieth on, and completeth their salvation: 2 Thes. i. 11, ‘Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of his calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.’ Thus he giveth the best things, though he deny some common things, which are no arguments of his special favour; and it is dangerous to have our eyes fastened upon other wants when we have these things, and to repine against God, who hath dealt graciously with us in the higher expressions of his love.
5. The evil things of this world, which are not good in themselves, he turneth to good: Rom. viii. 28, ‘All things shall work together for good to them that love God.’ He is able to bring light out of darkness, or give light in darkness, or turn darkness into light; to give inward joy and comfort under all calamities, to support and sustain under all heavy pressures, and to deliver out of all distresses.
6. He doth give them so much of the good things of the world as is convenient for them: Ps. xxxiv. 9, ‘Oh, fear the Lord, ye his saints, for there is no want to them that fear him;’ Ps. lxxxiv. 11, ‘The Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord will give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk up rightly.’ He giveth protection when it is necessary: Nahum i. 7, ‘The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth those that trust in him:’ Ezra vi. 22, ‘The hand of our God is upon all them for good that seek him.’ He hath a great inclination to diffuse his benefits.
7. His doing good is chiefly in the world to come: John xii. 26, ‘If any man serve me, let him follow me, and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father 197honour.’ Here he is with them in troubles, there they shall be with him in glory; here he can put marks of favour upon them, and distinguish between those that serve him and those that serve him not: Mal. iii. 17, ‘They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him:’ there he will manifest his favour in the face of all the world.
Use 2. To persuade you to become the servants of God: you will have a good master if you be what you profess to be. Every Christian should say, as Paul did, Acts xxvii. 23, ‘The God whose I am, and whom I serve.’ He is God’s, and serveth God. (1.) He is God’s by creation, for he made him out of nothing: Ps. c. 3, ‘Know ye that the Lord he is God; it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture;’ Col. i. 16, ‘All things were created by him and for him.’ By redemption; 1 Cor. vi. 20, ‘Ye are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which is God’s.’ By covenant; Isa. xliv. 5, ‘One shall say, I am the Lord’s, and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob, and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel;’ Ezek. xvi. 8, ‘I sware unto thee, and entered into covenant with thee, saith the Lord, and thou becamest mine;’ and so voluntarily he is God’s. Wicked men are God’s in right, but against their wills; the godly are willingly God’s. A man will never be hearty in his obedience and subjection till he look upon himself as God’s. See an instance in the wicked, whose ungodliness and rebellion against God cometh from looking upon themselves as their own: Ps. xii. 4, ‘Who have said, With our tongues will we prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?’ Their time their own, wealth their own, interest their own, bodies their own, souls their own, and therefore think they may employ all these things as they please. On the other side, take an instance of self-denial. Why so careful to serve and glorify God? Rom. xiv. 8, ‘For whether we live, we live Unto the Lord, and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s;’ they have given up themselves to be employed at his command. (2.) Him they serve. How do they serve him? (1st.) They must serve God with the spirit as well as the body: Rom. i. 9, ‘God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son.’ So Phil. iii. 3, ‘We are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit:’ Rom. xii. 11, ‘Fervent in spirit, serving the Lord:’ Rom. vii. 6, ‘That we should serve in newness of spirit.’ When the heart is renewed, disposed, and fitted for his fear and service, there is an honest purpose and endeavour to serve him. (2d.) You must serve him faithfully, devoting yourselves to do his will, and to seek his glory. Your intention, trade, and study must be to honour God and please him, that if it be asked for whom are you at work? for whom speaking or spending your time? whose business are you doing? you may answer, All is for God. If the pleasing of the flesh be their work or scope, they are said to serve their own bellies: Rom. xvi. 18. ‘They that are such serve not the Lord Jesus, but their own belly.’ (3d.) Cheerfully; having so good a master, let us take pleasure in our work. Here is all good—good 198master, good work, good wages. Certainly the more good any man findeth God to be, and the more good he himself hath received, the more good he ought to be: the goodness of God should melt us and awe us. There are two questions every one of you should put to yourselves, What hath God done for you? and, What have you done for God? When you thus serve God, you may plead it to God, as David, Ps. cxvi. 16, ‘O Lord, truly I am thy servant, I am thy servant.’ You may expect relief, and protection, and maintenance. Servants have their dole and portion from their masters’ hands: Ps. cxxiii. 2, ‘As the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us.’ He that doth God’s will shall have his protection and blessing; you have a sanctified interest in all that falleth to your share: 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23, ‘Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.’ Lastly, God will now and then visibly put some marks of distinction on them: Mal. iii. 18, ‘Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not.’ For a while their glory may be clouded, they may be hardly dealt with in the world, but God hath his times of presenting all things in their own colours; but the chief time of manifestation is hereafter; when the servants of Christ come to receive their full reward, then they find him to be a good master indeed: John xii. 26, ‘If any man serve me, him will my Father honour.’
Doct. 2. That the good which God hath done for us should be thankfully acknowledged. We should not be always craving, always complaining; there should be a mixture of thanksgiving: Col. iv. 6, ‘Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;’ together with the expression of our wants and desires, there must be thanksgiving for favours already received.
1. There is a time for all things, for confessing sin, for begging mercy, for thankful acknowledgments; though in every address to God there should be somewhat of all these, yet at certain seasons one is predominant: in a time when God is offended, confession of sin; in a time of great wants and straits, prayer; in a time of great receivings, thanks. The times that pass over us bring upon us many changes; every change of dispensation must be sanctified by a suitable duty. As no condition is so bad but a good man can find an occasion of praising God and trusting in him, so no condition so good but matter of humbling and self-abasing will arise; yet there are special occasions that require the one or the other. Opus diei in die suo. James v. 13, ‘Is any among you afflicted? let him pray: is any merry? let him sing psalms;’ Ps. l. 15, ‘Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.’
2. It is a disingenuous spirit to ask mercy for supplying our wants or delivering us from troubles, and not acknowledge mercy when that supply or deliverance is received. Prayer is a work of necessity, but praise of mere duty. Self-love will put us upon prayer, but the love of God upon praise and thanksgiving; we pray because we need God, 199we praise because we love God, and have a sense of his goodness to us: Luke xvii. 15, ‘One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God.’ Most turn back upon the mercy-seat, do not give glory to God when their turn is served.
3. It is for the glory and honour of God that his servants should speak good of his name. When they are always complaining, they bring an ill report upon the ways of God, like the spies that went to view the promised land; but it is a great invitation to others when we can tell them how good God hath been to us: Ps. xxxiv. 8, ‘Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.’ This doth draw in others to come and take share with us.
4. It is for our profit; the more thankful for mercies, the more they are increased upon us; as vapours return in showers, the sea putteth out of her fulness into the rivers, and they again refund into the sea the water received thence: Ps. lxvii. 5, 6, ‘Let the people praise thee, O Lord; then shall the earth bring forth her increase.’ When the springs are low, we pour in a little water into the pump, not to enrich the fountain, but to bring up more for ourselves. It is not only true of outward increase, but spiritual also: Col. ii. 7, ‘Be ye rooted in the faith, and abound therein with thanksgiving.’ If we give thanks for so much grace as we have already received, it is the way to increase our store; we do no more thrive in victory over corruption, or the increase of divers graces, because we do no more give thanks.
5. It prevents many sins. I shall name two:—
[1.] Hardness of heart. When we are not thankful for blessings, they prove an occasion to the flesh, and so our table is made a snare, Ps. lxix. 22, and our welfare a trap. Men go on stupidly receiving blessings, but do not acknowledge the donor; but when we own God upon all occasions, the creature is sanctified, and the heart kept humble: 1 Tim. iv. 4, 5, ‘Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer;’ an acknowledgment from whom it cometh.
[2.] It suppresseth murmuring, and that fretting, quarrelling, impatient, and distrustful humour which often showeth itself against God, even sometimes in our prayers and supplications. Nothing conduceth more to quiet our hearts in a dependence upon God for the future, and to allay our distrusts, discontents, and unquiet thoughts, than a holy exercise of thanksgiving: Phil. iv. 6, ‘Be careful for no thing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.’ Bless him for favours already received, and you will leave the burden of your care upon him for the future. God is where he was at first, and what he hath done he can do still.
Use. The use is, to press us to the serious and frequent discharge of this duty. It is a duty very necessary, very profitable, and very delightful; but usually we are backward, are not as careful to render thanks for the enjoyment of blessings as we are earnest and importunate in the want of them. It cometh to pass partly by the greediness of our desires, as a dog that swalloweth up every bit that is cast to him, and still looketh for more. Vidisti aliquando canem, saith 200Seneca, missa a domino frusta panis aut carnis aperto ore captantem, et quicquid excipit. protinus integrum devorat, et semper ad spem futuri hiat. This is an emblem of us; we swallow whatever the ‘bounty of God throws forth without thanks, and still we look for more, as if all the former mercies were nothing; therefore are warm in petitions, but cold, raw, and infrequent in gratulations. Partly when we have mercies, we know not their value by the enjoyment as much as by the want. Ὄφθαλμοί τι ἄγαν λαμπρὸν οὐχ ὁρῶσι, saith Basil—a thing too near the eye cannot be seen, it darkeneth us with its splendour. God must set things at a distance to make us value them. Therefore we are more prone to complain than to give thanks. Partly from self-love; when our turn is served, we neglect God; as the raven returned to Noah no more, when there was floating carrion for it to feed upon, Gen. viii. 7. Wants try us more than blessings: Hosea v. 15, ‘In their affliction they will seek me early.’ Our interest swayeth us more than our duty. Partly from a dark legal spirit, which will not own grace when it is near us, when Christians look altogether in the glass of the law, to exclude the comfort of the gospel f and to keep themselves under the rack of perplexing fears.
To remedy this—
1. Let us acknowledge God in all we do enjoy: Hosea ii. 8, ‘She did not consider that I gave her corn, and oil, and flax.’ We are unthankful to God and man, but more to God. Comforts that come from an invisible hand, we look upon them as things that fall out of course, and so do not praise the giver; therefore let us awaken our hearts to the remembrance of God. Whosoever be the next hand, it is by his providence; and there is reason he should be praised and owned. It is not he that brings the present, but he that sendeth it, that deserveth our thanks. Beasts will own their benefactor: Isa. i. 3, ‘The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib;’ and if God be our benefactor, he must be owned and loved. If a man give us but a small sum, or a parcel of land, how do we court him or observe him! Less reason why God should look upon us, who is so high. A small remembrance from a great prince, no way obliged, who no way needeth me, to whom I can be no way profitable, is much valued; and will not I acknowledge God in his gifts? When you were in distress you acknowledged, he alone could send you help, and had high thoughts of the mercy; then what promises did you make? The mercy is the same now that it was then, therefore you should have the same apprehensions of it.
2. Let us not give thanks by the heap, but distinctly; acknowledge God’s mercies in all cases. Particulars are most affective: let us come to an account for God, and recollect the passages of our lives, what he hath done for body and soul: Ps. cxxxix. 17, ‘How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!’ What he hath done for us before time, in time, and provided for us when time shall be no more; the beginning of this treaty with us, the progress of his work, the many failings we were guilty of, his patience in bearing with us, his goodness in hearing us, his giving, forgiving, keeping us from dangers, in dangers, and deliverances out of dangers. What supplies and supports we have had, what visits of love, warnings., awakenings of heart!201
3. Let us trace the benefits we enjoy to the fountain of them, the love of God; then we will say, Ps. cxxxviii. 2, ‘I will praise thy name for thy loving-kindness and truth.’ This is not only to drink of the stream, but of the fountain; there the water is sweetest; when we see all this coming from the special love of God to our souls. Otherwise God may give in anger: Hosea xiii. 11, ‘I gave them a king in mine anger;’ as he gave the Israelites meat for their lusts: Isa. xxxviii. 17, ‘Thou hast loved me from the grave;’ this commendeth all experiences, maketh us love God again.
4. Compare yourselves with others your betters, who would be glad of your leavings,—their nature, disposition, endowments better than yours, yet receive less from God. He hath not dealt so with any nation. Whence is all this to me? John xiv. 22, ‘Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world?’ Many would be glad of our relics.
5. Consider your unworthiness: Gen. xxxii. 10, ‘I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which thou hast showed unto thy servant;’ 2 Sam. vii. 18, ‘Who am I, O Lord, and what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?’ Pride is the cause of discontent. Where all is received freely, there is no cause of discontent: much of giving thanks if we have anything. When we look to desert, we may wonder more at what we have than what we want: if afflicted, destitute, kept low and bare, it is a wonder we are not in hell. All this is spoken because men are not thankful, We are eager till we have blessings, but when we have them, then barren in praises, unfruitful in obedience: like little children, forward to beg favours, but careless to acknowledge what they have received.
Doct. 3. That in our thankful acknowledgments we should take notice of God’s truth, as well as his benignity and goodness. David owned the kindness as coming according to his word. So do the servants of God observe his accomplishing promises: Josh, xxiii. 14, ‘And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth; and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all hath come to pass unto you, not one thing hath failed thereof.’ So Solomon: 1 Kings viii. 56, ‘Blessed be God that giveth rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised; there hath not failed one word of all his good promise which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.’ Thus Joshua and Solomon observe how his word was made good to a tittle, and in the rigour of the letter; he hath not left undone anything, but accomplished all to the full. A great deal of benefit will come by it:—
1. For yourselves.
[1.] Your own faith will be confirmed by it, when you see that God is as good as his word, and bestoweth upon us the utmost that any promise of his giveth us to hope for: it is dictum factum with God; he is no more liberal in word than in deed. Look, as it confirmeth our faith in the truth of the threatenings, when we are punished as our congregation hath heard, Hosea vii. 12,—they that would not believe their danger are made to feel it,—so our faith in the promise. God showeth what he will be to his servants, and after a little waiting they 202find it to be so. Wait but a little while, and you shall find the effect of the promises: Ps. lvi. 8, ‘In God I will praise his word, in the Lord I will praise his word:’ that is, I have great cause to take notice of the promise; to a believer it is as good as performance: so Ps. xix. 9, ‘The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.’ Former experience begets confidence for the time to come: the Lord doth not deceive us with vain words. There is an effect in them; I shall find it; what God saith he doth.
[2.] Your comfort is increased; receiving things in a way of promise sweeteneth a blessing. It is good to see whence things come to us, from the bounty of common providence, or from the promises of the covenant. There is a providential right and a covenant right. Devils hold their beings by a providential right, but the saints their blessings by covenant. The promise is made to God’s servants, and the mercy conveyed by the promise is sanctified: 1 Cor. iii. 23, ‘All are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s;’ 1 Tim. iv. 3, they are to be ‘received with thanksgiving of them that believe and know the truth.’ Believers are called ‘heirs of promise,’ Some blessings the very nature of them showeth whence they come; but in others, as the deliverances and comforts of this life, the tenure of them is more comfortable than the mercies themselves; to have them ‘not only from God’s hand but heart. Wicked men have them as their portion, you as helps to your better portion: heirs of promise is an honourable title and relation. Such blessings are from love, and for our good.
2. As to others, you will invite, encourage, and strengthen them in believing. You are witnesses of his fidelity: Ps. xviii. 30, ‘As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is tried.’ I can assure you I have found more than letters and syllables in a promise, it is a tried word; I can tell you what God hath done for my soul.
Use. Let us look to the accomplishment of these promises, and trust God the more for the future. Make much of promises: Heb. xi. 13, ‘These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them.’ They are sure declarations of the purposes of God. God’s purposes are immutable, but promises declared lay an obligation upon him to keep them. Rejoice in them till performance cometh. Take heed of setting sense against them: Rom. iv. 18-21, ‘Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be: and being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah’s womb: he staggered not at the promise through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to perform.’ Naturally men are all for having before them. Take heed of haste: Ps. cxvi. 11, ‘I said in my haste, All men are liars;’ Ps. xxxi. 22, ‘I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes.’203
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