« Prev Sermon CXXVIII. And let me not be ashamed of my… Next »

SERMON CXXVIII.

And let me not be ashamed of my hope. Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe; and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.—Ver. 116, 117.

IN the former verse I observed David begs two things—confirmation in waiting, and the full and final accomplishment of his hopes.

Something remains upon the 116th verse, ‘Let me not be ashamed of 199my hope.’ Hope follows faith, and nourisheth it. Faith assures there is a promise; hope looks out for the accomplishment of it. Now David, having fixed his hope upon the mercies of God, begs, ‘Let me not be ashamed;’ that is, that hope may not be disappointed, for hope disappointed brings shame. Man is conscious of the folly and rashness in conceiving such a hope: Job vi. 20, ‘They were confounded, because they had hoped; they came thither, and were ashamed.’ They looked for water from the brooks of Tema, but when they were dried up they were confounded and ashamed. That breeds shame when we are frustrated in our expectations. There is a hope that will leave us ashamed, and there is another hope that will not leave us ashamed; for David goes to God, and desires him to accomplish his hope. There is a Christian hope that is founded upon the mercies and promises of God, and encouraged by experience of God, that will never deceive us. I shall speak of that hope that will bring shame and confusion; and that is twofold—worldly hope and carnal security.

1. Worldly hopes, such as are built upon worldly men and worldly things. Upon worldly men, they are mutable, and so may deceive us; sometimes their minds may change, the favour of man is a deceitful thing. As Cardinal Wolsey said in his distress, If I had served God as diligently as I have done the king, he would not have given me over in my grey hairs; but it is a just reward for my study to do him service, not regarding the service of God to do him pleasure: ‘Let God be true, and every man a liar.’ A man makes way for shame that humours the lusts of others and wrongs his conscience; and first or last, they will find it is better to put confidence in God than the greatest potentates in the world, Ps. cxviii. 8; and therefore it should be our chief care to apply ourselves to God, and study his pleasure, rather than to please men, and conform ourselves to their uncertain minds and interests. To attend God daily, and be at his beck, is a stable happiness; the other is a poor thing to build upon. Men’s affections are mutable, and so is their condition too: Ps. lxii. 9, ‘Surely men of high degree are a lie, and men of low degree are vanity.’ Whoever trusts in men, high or low, are sure to be deceived in their expectations. And therefore we should think of it before hand, lest we be left in the dirt when we think they should bear us out: 1 Kings i. 21, ‘When my Lord the king shall sleep with his fathers, I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders. When the scene is shifted, and new actors come upon the stage, none so liable to be hated as those that promised to themselves a perpetual happiness by the favour of men. This is a hope that will leave us ashamed. And then worldly things, they that hope in these for their happiness will be ashamed. There are two remarkable seasons when this hope leaves us ashamed—in the time of distress of conscience, and in the day of death. In time of distress of conscience: Ps. xxxix. 11, ‘When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth.’ When sin finds us out, and conscience goes to work upon the sense of its own guilt, oh! then what will all the plenty of worldly comforts do us good! The creatures then have spent their allowance, and can help us no more. What good will an estate do? And all the pomp and bravery of the world 200will be of no more use to us than a rich shoe to a gouty foot: Prov. xviii. 14, ‘A wounded spirit who can bear?’ But now he that hath chosen God for his portion, in all distress and calamities can revive his hopes. So also in the hour of death: Job xxvii. 8, ‘What is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God shall take away his soul?’ When God puts the bond in suit, though man hath gained, where is his hope, when God delivers him over to the executioner, to chains of darkness?

2. Carnal security will leave us ashamed. Men living in their sins hope they shall do well enough, and expect mercy to bear all and pardon all; though they be not so strict and nice as others, yet they shall do as well as they. This hope is compared to a spider’s web, Job viii. 12, a poor slight thing, that is gone with the blast of every temptation; when the besom comes, both spider and web are swept away. And it is said, Job xi. 20, ‘The hope of the wicked is like the giving up of the ghost;’ and these in a moment take an everlasting farewell of their hopes. So their hopes fail in the greatest extremity. This carnal and secure hope in God, presumption of his mercy, it is but a waking dream, as a dream fills men with vain delusions and phantasms. It is notably set out by the prophet, Isa. xxix. 8, ‘They shall even be as when a hungry man dreameth, and behold he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty.’ There will an awakening time come, and then the dream of a hungry man torments him more. Carnal men are like dreamers, that lose all as soon as they awake; though they dream of enjoying sceptres and crowns, yet they are in the midst of bonds and irons. Vain illusions do they please themselves with, that make way for eternal sorrow and shame.

Let us see how this false hope of the wicked differs from the true hope of God’s children.

1. This hope is not indeed built upon God, God hath the name, but indeed they trust upon other things; as those women the prophet speaks of, Isa. iv. 1, ‘We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach.’ So they call their hope after God’s name, but their hearts are borne up with other things, as appears; because when outward things fail they are at a loss, and begin to awake out of their dream, especially in a distressed case when it pincheth hard.

2. It is not a serious and advised trust, but a slight and superficial hope, that grows upon us we know not how, a fruit of ignorance and incogitancy; when they are serious they begin to feel it a foolish kind of presumption, upon which no account can be given, 1 Peter iii. 15. How can they give a reason of their hope? But gracious souls, the more they consider their warrant and the promise of God, the more their hope is increased.

3. It is a dead and a cold hope, not a lively hope, 1 Peter i. 3. They have no taste, no groans, no ravishing thoughts about the happiness which they expect, no strong desires after the thing hoped for: Rom. xii. 12, ‘Rejoice in hope,’ saith the apostle; they have but cold apprehensions of such great things. And the hope that we expect is so excellent, that it should stir up the greatest longings, the greatest waiting, and put us upon earnest expectation.

201

4. It is a weak inconstant hope, a loose fond conjecture, a guess rather than a certain expectation: 1 Cor. ix. 26, ‘I therefore so run, not as uncertainly,’ not at random, but upon sure and solid grounds. A child of God hath a due sense of the difficulty, yet withal an assurance of the possibility and of the certainty of it; and therefore it continues; he presseth on, if it be possible he may attain to his great hopes, the resurrection of the dead.

5. It is a lazy loitering hope. Carnal men would have heaven and happiness, but they make no haste towards it, they give no diligence to make sure of it; it is but a devout sloth. Whereas he that hath a true hope is pressing forward, Phil. iii. 13, and hastening and looking for the coming of Christ, 2 Peter iii. 12.

But then there is a true hope in God, both for final deliverance, present support, and present mercy, that will never leave us ashamed: Ps. xxii. 5, ‘They that hope in thee are not confounded;’ and Ps. xxv. 2, 3, ‘Let none that wait on thee be ashamed: O my God, I trust in thee, let me not be ashamed.’ What is a true Christian hope? It may be discovered by the grounds of discouragement, but most sensibly by the effects.

1. By it the heart is drawn from earth to heaven, earthly desires and hopes abated: Phil. iii. 20, ‘For our conversation is in heaven, whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.’ They live as those that within a few days expect to be with God. Christ in heaven hath a magnetic virtue to draw up the hearts of believers thither; as a man that hath looked steadfastly upon the sun can for a great while see nothing else.

2. By it the heart is enlivened in duty, and quickened with diligence in the business of salvation. Hope apprehends the difficulty, as well as the excellency and possibility, of salvation; therefore what a man truly hopes for in this kind he makes it his business to get it, and look after it: Phil. iii. 13, ‘This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those which are before.’ They mind it seriously, and not superficially, by the by.

3. It engageth the heart against sin, 2 Peter iii. 11. We that look for these things, ‘What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness.’ Holiness implies purity, and godliness dedication to God. Now a false hope is consistent with the reign of sin, suffers a man to be vile, carnal, careless, neglectful of God, full of malice, envy, pride, but without any serious and solid ground; it is but a lying presumption. Now, this hope that is thus fixed upon God will never disappoint us. For—

[1.] The fruition will ever be more than the expectation. God doth for us above what we can ask or think, Eph. iii. 20. When the prodigal son came and said, ‘Make me as an hired servant,’ the father brought forth the fatted calf, and put a ring on his finger, &c. Solomon asked wisdom, and God gave him riches, honour, and great abundance. But much more in the world to come will the fruition be above expectation; for prophecy is but in part; we are not now capable to know what we shall then enjoy; we have but childish thoughts of things to come, as a child comes short of the apprehensions of a man, 1 Cor. xiii. 9-11.

202

[2.] This hope cannot be abated with the greatest evil. To a worldly man death is the king of terrors, and to a godly man it is his last end; though it vanquish his body, it doth not vanquish his soul: Prov. xiv. 32, ‘The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, but the righteous hath hope in his death.’ When other men’s hopes vanish, his hopes go down with him to the grave, Ps. xvi. 9; as in a bed of ease they shall sleep until the waking time.

Use. Oh! be not deceived with false promises. We must expect blessing according to the tenor of the covenant; only things promised, and no otherwise than they are promised; temporal things, with a limitation, as good for us, and with the exception of the cross; spiritual blessings, their essence, rather than degree of grace. And take heed of false hope that is, groundless and fruitless. Groundless; the warrant of true hope is the word of God: ‘I hope in thy word,’ Ps. cxxx. 5. Hope that is without a warrant will be without effect. When men please themselves, they shall do well enough, contrary to the word of God, Deut. xxix. 19. And it is fruitless; it doth not fill the heart with gladness, and quicken to holiness, and stir up to walk with God. And take heed of false experiences; that is, building upon temporal blessings, and bare deliverances out of trouble. Men are not so much preserved as reserved to further trouble: many are spared but for a time, it is but a reprieve.

I proceed to the 117th verse, ‘Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.’ Here observe—(1.) A repetition of his request for sustaining grace. (2.) A renewing of the promise of obedience conceived before, ver. 115.

1. A repetition of his request for sustaining grace, ‘Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.’ Where observe the request, hold thou me up: and the fruit and effect promised to himself, I shall be safe.

First, The blessing asked, ‘Hold thou me up;’ a metaphor taken from those that faint, or those that slide and are ready to fall. Secondly, The fruit of it, ‘I shall be safe.’ Before he had said, ‘Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live;’ now he promiseth himself more from the divine assistance, safety. By safety he means either the safety of the outward or inward man. Why not both? I shall be safe from those warpings and apostasy, and all dangers and mischiefs that do attend it. Turning aside from our duty doth not procure our safety, but perseverance in our duty. God’s children, when they have failed, have run themselves into much temporal inconveniences, as Josiah ran upon his own death by his own folly, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 22.

2. The resolution of his obedience, that is renewed and promised upon obtaining of this mercy. And there take notice—(1.) Of the accuracy of that obedience promised, I will have respect unto thy statutes. (2.) The constancy of it, continually; not for a moment only, a few days, in a pang, or when the mercy is fresh and warm upon the heart, but constantly, without intermission, without defection.

First, Observe from the repeating of the same request:—

Doct. 1. That sustaining grace must be sought with all earnestness and importunity. ‘Uphold me’ before, and now again, ‘Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.’

203

Reason 1. They that have a due sense of things upon their hearts will do so; that is to say, that have a sense of their own weakness, the evil of sin, and the comfort of perseverance in obedience.

1. That have a sense of their own weakness, as David was touched with a sense of his own necessity; therefore he repeats this prayer, ‘Hold thou me up;’ and if David need to be held up, what need have we! If pillars are not able to stand of themselves, what shall reeds do? If giants are overthrown and vanquished, children much more: Prov. xxviii. 14, ‘Happy is the man that feareth always.’ How so? With a fear of caution, not a fear of distrust; with a fear of reverence, not with a fear of bondage; otherwise it were a torture, not a blessedness. That man that is sensible of his own frailty is more blessed than other men. Why? Because he will ever have recourse to God to set his power a-work for the good of his soul: Rom. xi. 20, ‘Be not high-minded, but fear.’ Though weakness be a misery, yet a sense of it is a degree towards blessedness, because it makes way for the great Christian grace, which is trust and dependence.

2. They have a sense of the evil that is in the least sin. This is the difference between a tender conscience and a hard heart—one is afraid to offend God in the least matter, the other makes nothing of sin, and so runneth into mischief, Prov. xxviii. 14. Well, then, a man that hath a tender heart is loath to fall into the least sin, he is ever drawing to God to be kept from all sin. When we are earnest in this matter, it is a sign we are sensible what an evil sin is. Men that side with their own lusts and interests may wonder at the frequent requests of the Psalmist here—establishment and preservation from sin. But those that have a tender conscience are like the eye, soon offended, and make it their business to keep it from offence; they are thus solicitous and earnest with God to be upheld.

3. They are sensible of the good of perseverance in obedience. There are two things here:—

[1.] Obedience is good; the more we experiment it, the more we would desire to keep it up in an even tenor of close walking with God, without interruption, without intermission. God appeals to experience: Micah ii. 7, ‘Do not my words do good to him that walketh up rightly?’ And when men wander they have this experience, ‘Am I a barren wilderness?’ Micah vi. 3, ‘O my people! what have I done unto thee, and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me.’ The more we find liberty, sweetness, and comfort in the ways of God, the more we should desire to continue in them.

[2.] As obedience is good, so perseverance in obedience is good, for it strengthens grace, especially in an hour of temptation, when many make defection. The choicest discovery of good men is in bad times: ‘Noah was upright in his generation,’ Gen. vi. 9; to stand when others decline, to be like fish that keeps its freshness in salt water, to hold fast there where Satan hath his throne, Rev. ii. 13, and to be faithful, as is said of Judah, Hosea xi. 12, when ‘Ephraim compassed me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit.’ It is a comfort and honour to persevere with God.

Reason 2. This sustaining grace must be asked, because God will show his sovereignty, that it is not at our beck; it must cost us waiting, 204striving, and earnest and renewed prayer: 2 Cor. xii. 8, ‘For this thing I besought the Lord thrice.’ God will not answer at the first knock, but at the third, then God came in. So Christ; Mat. xxvi. 44, the third time he came and repeated the same thing; then, if you compare Luke, he received his consolation by an angel. God doth not come at the first knock, therefore we must pray again, ‘Uphold me.’

Reason 3. Without continued influences of grace we cannot be safe, therefore they must not be sought once and no more, but daily. As we seek daily bread, so we should seek daily grace. The word σήμερον, this day, hath respect to all the petitions; this day we must have our daily bread, this day lead us not into temptation, this day keep us from evil. While temptations continue, we must continue prayer. Long suits, though often denied, may prevail at length. In short, the continuance of strength and assistance from God is necessary to preserve both habitual and actual grace, therefore they must be continually asked.

1. To preserve habitual grace, the seed that remains in us. We would wonder to see a herb to thrive and grow in the midst of many weeds; so that grace should be there where there is so much pride, love of pleasure, worldly care and brutish lusts, especially when any of these are set a-work by temptations without. The angels and Adam fell when there was nothing within to work upon them but the mutability of their nature; so when there is so much within to work, and temptations without, it is hard to keep grace in the soul.

2. For the quickening and actual stirrings of the soul to good. We should soon faint and tire in the ways that we have begun were it not for God’s sustaining grace; these sparks would quickly go out, if God did not keep them alive. 1 Chron. xxix. 18, when the people were in a high point of willingness, ‘Lord, keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people.’ When we have gotten any good frame of spirit, we cannot preserve it without this continual influence.

Reason 4. Renewed prayer is a means of persevering, not only for it, but by it. God keeps us alive in the way of grace, as by the word, so by prayer. Praying in the Holy Ghost is one means of establishment, Jude 20. Prayer is a solemn preaching to our selves, or a serious warming of our souls in our duty in the sight of God. Now means of support must be used, not once, but often. There must be constant meals for the increase of bodily strength. If a man be never so strong, yet he cannot always grow in strength by one meal, there must be new refreshment; so this is one means for our preservation, therefore it must be often used.

Use. For reproof of those that ask sustaining grace customarily and carelessly, without any deep sense or renewed importunity. We are too cold and formal when we say, ‘Lead us not into temptation.’

1. Consider, none stand but may fall in some degree, and it is our business to take heed we do not. Every hour we are in danger either of getting some distemper, or letting out some corruption. Of getting some distemper, being spotted and defiled in the world, or at least being made dull and indisposed in the service of God. Or else of letting out some corruptions; if God do not keep our heart and all 205(Ps. cxli. 3, ‘Set a watch, Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips’), how soon should we betray our folly! And therefore it is a happy day, and we have cause to bless God, when we have not by some words or works of ours interrupted our communion with him.

2. Consider how many things concur to lead us aside, corruptions within and temptations without, and, it may be, sometimes the example of others that are of esteem in the church. Corruption within, always righting against grace—the flesh lusteth against the Spirit; and temptations without, the favours and frowns of the world. If these things have not, they may befall us, and it is too late to seek armour in time of conflict.

3. And then to see men eminent for knowledge and profession turn back from the holy commandment, and glorious stars fall from their orb and station; this overturns the faith of many, 2 Tim. ii. 18. So that, all these things considered, we cannot stand a moment without God; and therefore we should be more earnest with him for grace.

Doct. 2. The constant safety of God’s people lies in sustaining grace.

1. Negatively; without it we cannot be safe, partly because there are so many trials and temptations between us and home, by reason of the sleights of the flesh, the cunning of Satan, and oppositions of the world; and partly because the measure of grace received is so small: Phil. iii. 13, ‘I have not attained;’ and the danger of sinning against God is so great: Amos iii. 2, ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore will I punish you for all your iniquities.’ So that we are no longer safe from sin and punishment than God puts under his hand.

2. Positively; by God’s sustaining grace we are kept safe, both as the power and faithfulness of God are engaged for our defence.

[1.] The power of God is engaged: 1 Peter i. 5, ‘Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.’ The apostle first speaks of heaven, that that is kept for us, and then, presently, you are kept for it by the power of God. An earthly inheritance may be sure enough for the heir, but who can secure the heir from death and all other accidents? But here God provides for our comfort. Not only our inheritance is sure, but we are kept. And how doth God keep us? By his power. Oh! what greater safety can there be? He can mitigate the temptation, or else give a supply of strength; he can keep off trials, or support us under them, 1 Cor. x. 13.

[2.] The faithfulness of God is engaged: 1 Cor. i. 9, ‘God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son;’ and 2 Thes. iii. 3, ‘The Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep you from evil.’ Certainly God is able, but how shall we know that he will do it? His truth is laid in pawn for what he hath promised, and therefore we may hold up our heads with confidence; and this should comfort us against all fears and doubtful and uncertain thoughts.

Use. Instruction, to show us how constantly God must be sought to in prayer, and relied upon in the use of means for our preservation, both from sin and danger.

1. Sought to in prayer. Our strength lies not in ourselves, but in 206God: 2 Cor. iii. 5, ‘We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.’ It is not only of God, but in God; there is our treasure kept: 2 Tim. ii. 1, ‘Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus;’ and Eph. vi. 10, ‘Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.’ If the stock were in our own hands, besides the danger of embezzling it, we should neglect God; as when the prodigal son had his portion, he went away from his father. Therefore God keeps grace in his own hand, to keep us humble, depending, observing, and to have a constant converse with him, that our eyes may be to him; as 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;’ that is, as maid and men servants look for their dole and portion, their allowance given to them, from their master and mistress, so God will still keep us to him. Dependence begets observance, to keep up our allegiance to the crown of heaven.

2. As he must be sought to in prayer, so relied upon in the use of means for our preservation. God keeps us, but not without our care and diligence. A Christian is said to keep himself, 1 Tim. v. 22; and this is pure religion, to keep ourselves unspotted, James i. 27; and 1 John v. 18, ‘He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, that the wicked one touch him not;’ and Jude 21, ‘Keep yourselves in the love of God.’ What! doth not this detract from all that was spoken before? No; we act with subordination and dependence upon him. Our keeping is from him, by him, and under him; so we keep ourselves through his blessing upon the use of means, which he hath appointed for us to use.

The third note is taken from the promise of obedience upon the sup position of this help from God, ‘Uphold me.’ What then? ‘And I will have respect unto thy statutes.’ Observe—

Doct. 3. The more experience we have of God’s grace in the preserving us from sin and danger, the more we should be encouraged in his ways. Why so?

1. Because of the obligation. It is his mercy which requires thank fulness. Now gratitude and thankfulness is the true principle which should urge us to perform our duty to God. Observe, there are several principles which put men upon God’s service, some false and rotten, some more tolerable, some lawful, some excellent. Some false and rotten, as carnal custom. Shall we serve God, say they, as we have done? Zech. vii. 3; when men only do as they have done, it is the manner of the place, they learn it of their fathers, and so customarily worship and serve God. Then vainglory, to be seen of men; that is a rotten thing, Mat. vi. Come and see my zeal for the Lord, saith Jehu. This may put us upon great seeming zeal and activity. So for profit, to make a market of religion; as the pharisees got themselves credit to be trusted with widows’ estates by their long prayers; these are rotten principles. Then some are more tolerable, not so bad principles as the former; as when we serve God out of hope of temporal mercy, as when they howl upon their beds for corn, wine, and oil, Hosea vii. 4; or for fear of temporal judgments, when men hang down their heads 207like a bulrush for a while, or else for mere fear of eternal death, they shall else be damned; when men’s duties are a sin-offering, a sleepy sop to appease an accusing conscience. But then there are some that are lawful, good, and sound, as when duties are done out of the impulsion of an enlightened conscience, that urgeth them to that which is good; or upon the bare command of God, his authority swaying the conscience; or when they walk in the ways of God out of the consideration of the reward to come, a respect to heaven; this is very good in its place. Again, there are some excellent principles of grace, and which do most of all discover a gospel spirit, a well-tempered frame of soul to God, and these are love to God because of his benefits and love to us, gratitude, and thankfulness: 1 John iv. 19, ‘We love him because he first loved us;’ and Rom. xii. 1, ‘I beseech you by the mercies of God;’ when we serve him out of love. Again, when we serve him out of delight, out of love to the duty, find such a complacency in the work that we love the work for the work’s sake; as David, ‘I love thy law because it is pure;’ when we love the law for the purity of it; or when the glory of God prevails above all our own interests; or when the promises and covenant of God enabling of us; that is our principle, Heb. x. 16. I observe this, men usually are brought on from one sort of principle to another; from sinful principles they are brought to tolerable and lawful, and from lawful to those that are rare and excellent.

2. This is such a mercy as gives us hope of more mercy in that kind. If God hath held us up, and we have been safe hitherto, then we may say, Thou hast held me up. We may look for more; new temptation will bring new strength, every day’s work will bring its own refreshment. God, by giving, binds himself more to give, for he loves to crown his own work. When he hath done good, he will do good again: Zech. iii. 2, ‘Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?’ He hath saved us, and he will save us. And it holds good sometimes in temporal mercies: 2 Cor. i. 10, ‘He hath delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver.’ But especially it holds good in spiritual mercies: 2 Tim. iv. 17, 18, ‘He hath delivered me out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom.’ One act of mercy gives us more. God, that hath begun, will make an end; he that hath kept me will keep me.

Use. It serves to reprove two sorts of people:—

1. Those that are unthankful after their deliverance. We forget his care of us, and never think how much we owe to him. When the mariners have gotten to the haven and harbour, they forget the tem pest; so these forget how God stood by them in the temptation and conflict; they do not abound more in the work of the Lord. These are like those that would have deliverance, that thorns might be taken out of the way, that they might run more readily to that which is evil.

2. It reproveth those that faint and despond in God’s ways, after much experiences of his help and presence with them. The Israelites in the wilderness, upon every new difficulty their faith is at a loss, and then back again to Egypt they would go; though they had so often 208experience of God, they would not believe him because of his wonders, but ‘forgat his works and his wonders that he had showed them,’ Ps. lxxviii. 11. God had given them wonderful mercy in destroying Pharaoh, that it might be meat to their faith, yet they believed not. Good David was ready to say, ‘I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul,’ 1 Sam. xxvii. 1, though he had experience upon experience. We should rather encourage ourselves, and go on in our work notwithstanding all difficulties.

The last point, from the accuracy and constancy of his obedience, ‘I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.’ This phrase is diversely rendered. The Septuagint renders it, I will exercise myself in them, or apply my heart to them. David’s regard to God’s law is diversely expressed in this psalm.

Doct. 4. God’s precepts must be respected and consulted with as the constant measure and direction of our lives.

Not only respect, but continual respect: Gal. vi. 16, ‘As many as walk according to this rule;’ it notes as many as shall walk in rank and order: there needeth great accurateness and intension, that we may keep within the bounds of commanded duty. So walk circumspectly. Some men are so crafty through their self-deceiving hearts, through their lusts and interests, so doubtful, that there needs a great exactness, and so apt to be turned out of the way, that we need a great deal of care to look to the fountain and principle of our actions, to look to the matter, manner, end, and weigh all circumstances that we may serve God exactly.

« Prev Sermon CXXVIII. And let me not be ashamed of my… Next »





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |