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SERMON LXIII.

This I had, because I kept thy precepts.—Ver. 56.

IN this psalm the dependence of the verses is neither to be neglected, nor too curiously sought after. Many of the sentences have no other connection than pearls upon the same string, though some are as links in the same chain, fastened one to the other by an apt method and order. The design of the penman was to cast all his experiences into the order of the Hebrew alphabet; and as there are in the Hebrew twenty-two letters, so twenty-two parts or octonaries. Each octonary beginneth with the same letter. This sentence which I have read 96seemeth to be independent of the preceding verse, and is the sudden effusion or eruption of a gracious heart engaged in the meditation of the fruit of obedience: ‘This I had, because I kept thy precepts.’ In the words you have—

1. David’s assertion of his integrity, I have kept thy precepts.

2. The gain of this course indefinitely proposed, this I had.

3. The link between both in the causal particle, because. David doth not here tell you what he had, but this and that: this hope, this comfort, this quickening, this deliverance; all this I had; that is, whatever is good and comfortable. The feminine pronoun Zeth is put neutrally, the Hebrew wanting the neuter gender.

The points are two:—

First, He that continueth faithful in a course of obedience will find at length that it will turn to a good account.

Secondly, That it is of great use to observe what good cometh to us by keeping close to God’s ways.

For the first point, he that continueth faithful in a course of obedience will find at length that it will turn to a good account. Here three things are to be explained:—

1. What it is to keep God’s precepts.

2. What is the good that accrueth to us thereby.

3. The connection between both these, or the reasons and grounds upon which we may expect this good.

1. Let us inquire what it is to keep God’s precepts. The phrase is often used in scripture, implying a diligent observance of it, and obedience thereunto. The term keep relateth to a charge or trust committed to us. Look, as on our part we charge Christ with our souls—2 Tim. i. 12, ‘I know that he is able to keep that I have committed to him’—so Christ chargeth us with his word, that we may be chary and tender of it. We charge him with our souls, that he may sanctify and save them in his own day; so he chargeth us with his precepts, that we may lay them up in our hearts, and observe them in our practice. As we would have Christ to be faithful to his trust, so should we be in ours, and that even to a tittle: James ii. 10, ‘Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in point, he is guilty of all.’ Now, there is a twofold keeping of God’s precepts—legal and evangelical.

[1.] The legal keeping, that is when we keep and perform the commandments so exactly as is answerable to the rigour of the law. What is that? The law requires perfect and absolute obedience, without the least failing in any one point: Gal. iii. 10, ‘Cursed is he that continueth not in all things that is written in the book of the law to do them.’ The least offence, according to that covenant, layeth us open to the curse; as for one sin once committed the angels were turned out of heaven, and Adam out of paradise. In this sense there is no hope for us.

[2.] There is an evangelical keeping God’s precepts, and that is filial and sincere obedience; and so they are said to keep God’s precepts, not they who have no sin in them, but they who study to be free from sin, and desire to please God in all things. David had many failings, and some of them of a high nature; yet he saith, I have kept thy precepts. His purpose and endeavour was to please God in all 97things. The apostles had many failings; they were weak in faith, passionate, full of revenge, calling for fire from heaven; a great many failings we may find upon record against them; yet Christ returneth this general acknowledgment: John xvii. 6, ‘They have kept thy word.’ God accepteth of our endeavours; when our defects are repented of, he pardoneth them: James v. 11, ‘You have heard of the patience of Job;’ and we have heard of his impatience too, his cursing the day of his birth, and his bold expostulation with God; but God putteth his finger upon the scar, and mentions that which is commendable. This sincere obedience is known by our endeavours after perfection, and our repentance for defects. For let me tell you here, that perfect obedience is required under the gospel: the rule is as strict as ever it was, but the covenant is not so strict. The rule is as strict as ever it was; we are still bound to perpetual, personal, and perfect obedience, otherwise our defects were no sins: ‘For where there is no law, there is no transgression,’ Rom. iv. 15. But the covenant is not so strict. This perfect obedience is not so indispensably required under the sanction and penalty of the old covenant; for the gospel, though it alloweth or approveth of no sin, yet it granteth a pardon of course to some sins as they are retracted by a general repentance. As sins of infirmity, such as are sins of ignorance, which had we known we would not have committed; and sins of incogitancy and sudden surreption, which may escape without observation of them; and sins of violent temptation, which by reason of some sudden assault sway our passions against the right rule; such sins as do not arise out of an evil purpose of the mind, but out of human frailty; they are consistent with an interest in this covenant, which alloweth a means of recovery by repentance, which the law doth not. The law for one offence once committed doth condemn a man without leaving him any way or means of recovery; but the gospel saith, ‘I came to call sinners to repentance,’ Mat. ix. 13. It accepteth repentance, and doth not cast men off for sins of infirmity. Where there is a general purpose to please God, and a hearty sorrow when we offend him, this is the sincerity which the gospel accepteth of. In the law, complete innocence is required; in the gospel, repentance is allowed: and so he is said to keep God’s statutes that doth not voluntarily and impenitently go on in a course of known sin.

2. Let me now show the good that cometh to us thereby. David saith indefinitely, ‘This I had;’ not telling us what good or privilege it was, only in the general it was some benefit that accrued to him in this life. He doth not say, This I hope for, but, This I had. And therefore I shall not speak of the full reward in the life to come. In heaven we come to receive the full reward of obedience. But a close walker, that waiteth upon God in a humble and constant obedience, shall have sufficient encouragement even in this life. Not only he shall be blessed, but he is blessed; he hath something in hand as well as in hope. As David saith in this 119th Psalm, not only he shall be blessed, but he is blessed. As they that travelled towards Zion, they met with a well by the way: Ps. lxxxiv. 6, ‘Who passing through the valley of Baca, make it a well: the rain also filleth the pools.’ In a dry and barren wilderness through which they were to pass, they were 98not left wholly comfortless, but met with a well or cistern; that is, they had some comfort vouchsafed to them before they came to enjoy God’s presence in Zion, some refreshments they had by the way. As servants, that beside their wages have their vails, so, besides the recompense of reward hereafter, we have our present comforts and supports during our course of service, which are enough to counter balance all worldly joys, and the greatest pleasures that men can expect in a way of sin. Let me instance in the benefits that believers find by walking with God in a course of obedience, that every one can say, ‘This I had, because I kept thy precepts.’

[1.] Peace of conscience, a blessing not to be valued; and this we have because we keep his precepts: Isa. xxxii. 17, ‘The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.’ They shall be free from those unquiet thoughts wherewith others are haunted. A wicked man’s soul is in a mutiny, one affection warreth against another, and all against the conscience, and conscience against all; but in a heart framed to the obedience of God’s will there is peace. Pax est tranquillitas ordinis—when every thing keeps its place there is peace; when the elements keep their place, and the confederacies of nature are preserved, then there is peace: so when a man walketh in a holy course there is peace; when the thoughts and affections are under rule and government, there is a serenity and quiet in the soul. Now, this is never brought to pass in the soul but by obedience and holy walking according to the rule of the new creature: Gal. vi. 16, ‘As many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy shall be upon them, as upon the whole Israel of God.’ Such an accurate and orderly life is the only way of obtaining this peace and harmonious accord in the soul. So Ps. cxix. 165, ‘Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them:’ not only peace, but great peace—a peace that passeth all understanding, a peace better felt than expressed; and this resulteth from obedience, or the government of our hearts and ways according to the will of God. Look, as cheerfulness and liveliness accompanieth perfect health, or the tunable motion of the spirits in the body, so this serenity and quiet in the soul, the regular and orderly motion of our faculties; there is a sweet contentment of mind resulting from it. ‘The peace of God shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.’ In a troublesome world we need to have our hearts and minds kept and guarded from assaults of temptations, and diffident vexing cares and fears; and therefore it is mightily necessary in those times to get the peace of God, without which the soul is upon the rack. Oh, this sweet peace and calm that is in our hearts in the midst of all tempests and tossings from without! A man is provided and fortified against the apprehension of injuries, troubles, dangers, and those heart-cutting cares which otherwise are apt to seize upon us. This a believer can say, This peace of conscience I had in the midst of all the troubles from without. Now this peace others cannot have: Isa. lvii. 21, ‘There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked:’ they have not this inward tranquillity and serenity of mind; their affections are so unruly, and their consciences so unquiet, they are never able to rest.

But how can this be? None seem to be less troubled than wicked 99men. I answer—There is a difference between a dead sea and a calm sea; a stupid conscience: they may have, but not a quiet conscience: their consciences are stupefied by drenching their souls in worldly delights and pleasures; but the virtue of this opium is soon spent, their consciences are easily awakened by the convictions of the word, the sting of afflictions, the agonies of death. Well, then, this may the composed heart say, I had this peace, this serenity of mind, because I kept thy precepts.

[2.] Next to peace of conscience there is joy in the Holy Ghost; this is the fruit of peace, as peace is the fruit of righteousness: Rom. xiv. 17, ‘The kingdom of God consisteth not in meat and drink, but in righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.’ First righteousness, and then peace, and then joy in the Holy Ghost. As joy of heart and gladness is the fruit of temporal or civil peace, when every man may sit under his own vine and his own fig-tree, and reap the fruit of his labour without the danger of annoyance; so now, when a man can enjoy himself as being reconciled to God, or being at peace with him, and hath tasted of the clusters of Canaan, he can ‘rejoice in hope of the glory of God,’ Rom. v. 11. This is that joy in the Holy Ghost which God doth graciously dispense to those that obey his word and hearken to the motions of his Spirit. Oh! how may a believer triumph and say, ‘This I had because I kept thy precepts!’ Joy is the fruit of holiness, and the oil of grace maketh way for the oil of gladness: Ps. cxix, 14, ‘I rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies more than in all riches.’ David experienced the joys of obedience, and the joys of a crown: now saith David, ‘I rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies more than in all riches:’ not in the contemplation, but in the way. This was a joy that did result from practical obedience, which is more than the possessions and treasures of the world. Many picture religion in their fancies with a sour and austere face, and think it inviteth men to nothing but harsh and unpleasant courses. Oh, no! It inviteth you to the highest contentment the creature is capable of, the joy in the Holy Ghost, which is ‘unspeakable and glorious.’ A sensualist, that runs after the dreggy delights of the flesh, is the veriest fool in the world; for he can never have any true joy, it is but frisks of mirth (while conscience is asleep), but when it is gone, it leaveth a sting behind it.

[3.] Increase of grace. This is another benefit we get by keeping God’s precepts: ‘They go from strength to strength,’ Ps. lxxxiv. 7; as they that went to the feast at Jerusalem; they went from troop to troop; so they are brought forward in their way to heaven. God, that punisheth sin with sin, rewardeth also grace with grace. The one is the most dreadful dispensation that God can use. When men have gone on in a course of sin, God often punisheth one sin with another, so that they are plunged deeper and deeper every day in the gulf of profaneness. But it is most comfortable when godliness increaseth upon our hands, and God is still perfecting his own work in us: Rom. vi. 19, ‘As you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness, and to iniquity unto iniquity, so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.’ It standeth us upon to observe the growth of grace, as we were formerly conscious of the growth of sin. Shall 100we be more earnest to damn ourselves than to save ourselves? There is no man but in his carnal estate might observe how he departed from God by degrees, and his heart was hardened by degrees. At first he had some light and conscience, till he sinned it away and turned his back upon the ordinances, which might revive it and keep it awake; and then his sin betrayed him further and further into a customary course of profaneness. I say, a carnal man may trace the growth of sin in his own heart step by step, and say, ‘This I had because I slighted such a check of conscience, despised such an ordinance, fell into such an enormous practice:’ for God forsaketh none till they first forsake him. So may a child of God trace his gradual increase in holiness: this I had by hearkening to the counsel of God at such a time against the reluctancy of my flesh. There is no duty recovered out of the hands of difficulty but bringeth in a considerable profit to the soul: Prov. iv. 18, ‘The way of the just is a shining light, which shineth more and more to the perfect day.’ Look, as the day decreaseth the night increaseth, till it cometh to thick darkness; so by every sin men grow worse and worse, till at last they stumble into utter darkness. But the way of the just is a growing light; it increaseth always into more durable resolutions and exact practice of godliness, till it come to the high noon of perfection. David taketh notice of the fruit of obedience: Ps. xviii. 24, ‘The Lord accept of me according to the cleanness of my hands.’

[4.] Another benefit that we have is many gracious experiences and manifestations of God vouchsafed to us in the way of obedience. In the present world God and believers are not strange to one another; a man that walketh close with him will meet him at every turn: Ps. xvii. 15, ‘As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness.’ The Psalmist there preferreth his present condition before the greatest happiness of carnal men. Why? Because he had opportunity of beholding the face of God, or enjoying the comforts of his presence. But how? In righteousness, in a strict course of obedience. If God be a stranger to others, they may thank themselves: John xiv. 21, ‘He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me is loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him.’ Holiness is the only way to clear up our right to these great comforts of the gospel; and if you would get experience of them, make conscience of obedience, and be exact and punctual with God, and you will not want your refreshments and visits of love, and expressions of his grace and favour to you: those sensible proofs and manifestations God will not give to us but in a way of obedience; so the promise runneth, ‘He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, to him will I manifest myself:’ so ver. 23, ‘If a man love me, and keep my commandments, my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and take up our abode with him.’ These are taken into sweet fellowship and communion with God, and the blessed Trinity will take up their abode in his heart. But pray, mark, Christ, that is so tender and willing to communicate the influences of his grace, yet standeth upon his sovereignty, and therefore still insisteth upon keeping his precepts, if they would par take of his comforts.

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[5.] Protection in their work. They are under the special care and conduct of his providence while they keep his precepts: ‘He keepeth them as in a pavilion; thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of men,’ Ps. xxxi. 20. And who are they that are kept? Those that fear him and trust in him,’ ver. 19. Pray, mark, when they had no visible defence, when they seemed to be left open as a prey to the oppressions and injuries of their potent adversaries, yet there is a secret guard about them, and they are kept the world knoweth not how: God’s favour and providence is their sure guard and defence. Whatever contentious and proud men design and threaten against them, yet they never have their full will upon them. Many a child of God hath ridden out the storm, and may come and say ‘This I had, because I kept thy precepts.’ This it is to keep close to God and hold fast our integrity. Elsewhere the Lord expresseth himself to be ‘a wall of fire round about his people,’ Zech. ii. 5, which should affright at a distance, and consume near at hand. In those countries, when they lay in the fields, they made fires about them to keep off the wild beasts; so God, when he seeth it fit to excuse his people from trouble, he can in the most unsafe times, and when they are weakest, protect them by his secret hand, bridling their enemies and making their attempts ineffectual. Satan is sensible of this privy guard: Job i. 10, ‘Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?’ The world seeth not this invisible guard, but the devil seeth it. There is no gap open for mischief to enter and break in upon them. This can God do when he pleaseth; and a man that holdeth fast his integrity, and goeth on in his duty referring himself to God’s keeping, shall have experience of it, and when the danger is over, say, ‘This I had, because I kept thy precepts.’

[6.] In public and common judgments God maketh a difference; and some of his choice ones are marked out for preservation, and are as brands plucked out of the burning, whilst others are consumed therein. This is done oftentimes, I cannot say always. The Jews have a proverb that two dry sticks may set a green one on fire: a good man may perish in the common judgment, that is the meaning of the proverb. And sometimes their condition may be worst; as Jeremiah: the whole city was besieged, and he in the dungeon. Chaff and corn is threshed in the same floor, but the corn is ground and baked. But this is the best way we can take to be hid in the common calamity, though there be not an absolute certainty; for the comfort is but propounded with a possibility: Zeph. ii. 3, ‘Seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.’ Though God hath a peculiar eye to the godly, yet their temporal safety is not put out of all doubt; it may be, or it may not be; but their eternal comforts are sure and safe. Yet strict and humble walking is the only way; and in some cases God showeth that there shall be a distinction between Ins people and others, and when others are overwhelmed, they shall be preserved; as Eccles. viii. 12, ‘Surely I know it shall be well with them that fear the Lord, which fear before him; but it shall be ill with the wicked;’ and Isa. iii. 10, ‘Say unto the righteous it shall be well with him, for they shall eat of the fruit of their doings; but 102say unto the wicked it shall be ill with them, for the work of his hands shall be given to him;’ and Jer. xv. 11, ‘Verily it shall be well with this remnant: I will cause the enemy to treat them well in the day of evil and affliction.’ All these places speak of delivering them from trouble, or moderating the trouble to them. If there be an uncertainty in the thing, yet a probability; but whenever it is done, it is a singular favour, and we must own it as the fruit of obedience: ‘This I had, because I kept thy precepts.’ We must expect the temporal reward of godliness with much submission, and venture upon his providence.

[7.] So much of sanctified prosperity as shall be good for them: Mat. vi. 33, ‘First seek the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, and these things shall be added.’ God will cast them into the bargain; and though he may keep them low and bare, yet ‘no good thing will he withhold,’ Ps. lxxxiv. 11. So that a child of God surveying all his comforts may say, This and that and the other mercy I had from the Lord’s grace; these comforts and these deliverances came in ‘because I kept thy precepts.’

3. The next thing is to show you what connection there is between these two, obedience and this good, or the reason of the Lord’s dealing thus.

[1.] God doth it partly out of his general justice, as he is governor of the world: his holy nature doth delight in holiness, and therefore it is requisite, ut bonis bene sit, et malis male—that it should be well with them that do well, and evil with them that do evil, and such dealing a man should have from God as he dealeth out to God: Ps. xviii. 25, 26, ‘With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful, and with the upright thou wilt show thyself upright, and with the pure thou wilt show thyself pure, and with the froward thou wilt show thyself froward.’ In the general, that it should be well with the righteous, and ill with the wicked; there is an argument in the governing justice of God: but then, to come to particulars, that it should be so ill with the wicked, here is exacta ratio justi; but that it should be so well with men imperfectly righteous, this is moderate justice mixed with undeserved mercy.

[2.] There is his gracious promise and covenant; heaven and earth are laid at the feet of godliness: 1 Tim. iv. 8, ‘Godliness hath the promise of this life and that which is to come.’ Something during our service in this world.

The second point is, that it is of no small benefit to see and observe what good we have by obedience to God.

1. It will increase our esteem of his grace. That the little and slender obedience that we yield to his law should have such respect and acceptance with him as to be recompensed with so much peace, and comfort, and protection, and so many blessings: ‘Lord, what am I, and what is my father’s house?’ Oh, what a good master have we! When the saints are crowned, they cast their crowns at the Lamb’s feet, Rev. iv. 10. We hold all by his mercy: Luke xvii. 10, ‘When we have done all, we are unprofitable servants;’ not in compliment, but in truth of heart, we are unprofitable servants. That God should respect us, it is not for the dignity of the work, but merely for his own grace.

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2. It is of use that we may justify God against the reproaches and prejudices of carnal men, who think God is indifferent to good and evil, and that all things come alike to all, that it is in vain to be strict and precise, that there is no reward to the good: Mal. iii. 14, ‘It is in vain to serve God, and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinances?’ Yea, the temptation may befall God’s own children, and be forcibly borne in upon their hearts: Ps. lxxiii. 13, ‘Verily I have cleansed my hands in vain.’ We think all is lost labour. Now, to produce the sweet consolations of God, and his temporal supplies, and the manifold blessings bestowed upon us, it is a good stay to our hearts, and enables us to justify God against the scorns and reproaches of the world.

3. It is of use to check our murmurings. If we endure anything for God, we are apt to repine, and pitch upon that evil we receive from his hand, passing over the good. A little evil, like one humour out of order, or one member out of joint, disturbeth the whole body; so we, by poring upon the evil we endure, pass over all his other bounty: Mal. i. 2, ‘Wherein hast thou loved us?’ God cannot endure to have his love suspected or undervalued; and yet people are apt to do so when dispensations are anything cross to their desires and expectations. But now it is a great check, to consider that if we have our troubles, we have also our consolations; and we should rather look upon the good that cometh to us in pleasing God, than the temporal and light afflictions we meet withal in his service: Job ii. 10, ‘Shall we receive good at the hands of God, and not evil?’

4. It is an encouragement to us in well-doing, the more proofs and tokens we have of his supportation. We are wrought upon by the senses; as Jer. ii. 19, ‘Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings reprove thee: see what an evil and bitter thing it is to for sake the Lord;’ and ver. 23, ‘See thy way in the valley, and know what thou hast done.’ As parents, when their children smart for eating raw diet, they upbraid them with it: It is for eating your green fruit; so doth the Lord come to his people: Now you see the evil of your doings. So, on the contrary, it doth engage us to strict walking to see how God owneth it; so doth God appeal to us by experience: ‘Have I been a land of darkness to you, or a barren wilderness?’ Jer. ii. 31; Micah ii. 7, ‘Do not my words do good to them that walk uprightly?’ Look about you, survey all your comforts; did sin procure these mercies, or godliness? Have you not found sensible benefit by being sincere in my service?

Object. But is this safe, to ascribe the comfort and blessings that we have to our own obedience? Is it not expressly forbidden, Deut. ix. 4, ‘Say not in thy heart, For my righteousness hath the Lord brought me to possess the land’?

Ans. 1. David doth not boast of his merits, but observeth God’s mercy and faithfulness in the fruits of obedience. There is his mercy in appointing a reward for such slender services: Gal. vi. 16, ‘As many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them.’ All the comfort we have is from mercy; yea, undeserved mercy. Those that walk according to this rule stand in need of mercy. Their peace and comfort floweth from mercy; they need mercy to cover the failings they are conscious to in their walkings. And then consider 104his truth and faithfulness. The reward of well-doing cometh not by the worthiness of the work, but by virtue of God’s promise: ‘His word doth good to them that walk uprightly,’ Micah ii. 7. God hath made himself a debtor by his promise, and oweth us no thanks for what we can do; it is only his gracious promise.

Ans. 2. David speaketh not this to vaunt it above other men, but to commend obedience, and to encourage himself and invite others by remembering the fruits of it. There is a great deal of difference between carnal boasting and gracious observation. Carnal boasting is when we vaunt of our personal worth; gracious observation is when, for God’s glory and our profit, we observe the fruits of obedience, and the benefits it bringeth along with it. That God never gave us cause to leave, but to commend his service, and, by what we have found, to invite others to ‘come and taste that the Lord is gracious.’

Use 1. To encourage us in the ways of the Lord and keeping of his precepts. It is no unprofitable thing: before we have done we shall be able to say, ‘This I had, because I kept thy precepts.’ Two things God usually bestoweth upon his people—a tolerable passage through the world, and a comfortable going out of the world; which is all a Christian needeth to care for: here is only the place of his service, not of his rest.

1. He shall have a tolerable passage through the world. A child of God may have a hard toilsome life of it, but he hath his mixtures of comfort in his deepest afflictions; he hath peace with God, that keeps his heart and mind, and maketh his passage through the world tolerable, because God is engaged with him: 1 Cor. x. 13, ‘Faithful is he that hath called you, who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able to bear.’ He is freed from wrath, and hath his discharge from the curse of the old covenant; he is taken into favour with God, and hath as much of temporal relief as is necessary for him; his condition is made comfortable to him.

2. A comfortable passing out of the world: Isa. xxxviii. 3, ‘Remember, O Lord,’ saith Hezekiah, ‘I have walked before thee with an upright heart.’ When you lie upon your death-beds, and in a dying hour, how comfortable will this be, the remembrance of a well-spent and well-employed life in God’s service! They that wonder at the zeal and niceness of God’s children, when they are entering into the other world, they cry out then, Oh, that they had been more exact and watchful! Oh, that they might die the death of the righteous! They should live so. Men then have other notions of holiness than ever they had before. But, Christians, here is your comfort; the word of God, that hath been your rule, is now your comfort and cordial, and stands by you to the very last.

Use 2. To persuade us to observe the difference between the ways of God and the ways of sin. When a man cometh to cast up his account on the one side and on the other, oh what a difference is there! Certainly there will a time come when you must cast up your account and use this recollection, either when your eyes are opened by grace in conversion, or when your eyes are opened by punishment. On sin’s side consider, when you look back to what is past—(the Lord grant you may make this reflection!)—Rom. vi. 21, ‘What fruit had you in 105those things whereof you are now ashamed?’ You cannot look back without horror of conscience; as the unclean person, when he looketh back, and considereth that his flesh and body is consumed by sin, Prov. v. 11-13. He speaketh there of some noisome disease that hath gotten into his body. But then, on the other side, the side of godliness, ‘This I had, because I kept thy precepts,’ Oh! what peace, what serenity of mind, what hopes of eternal life, what comfortable entertainment shall you have in heaven! Determine before hand what it will come to. Thus you see the difference between a sinful and godly course.

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