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he accounts them his glory.
This would seem a strange word, if it were not the Apostle's: They are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. 2 Cor. viii. 23. Delight who will, either in sloth and ignorance on the one hand, or in vain speculations and strains of frothy wit on the other; surely, those preachers only shall be approved in the great day, who have constantly endeavoured, in their measure, to speak the best and fittest they could for their Master's advantage. And happy those Christians, of what estate soever, who in all estates make Christ their glory, and in all actions have their eye fixed upon his glory, who is their light and the glory of the Lord !
Now to those who are strangers to him, (Would to God none that are to be spoken to, were such !) to them, I say, notice is given both of the excellency and the necessity of Christ. Though it were possible to grope the way to happiness in the dark, yet, none will deny but to be conducted thither by a constant light is both more safe and more delightful. But were there any possibility of attaining that end without this light, the neglect of it were not altogether so strange. The wonder of all is this, that Christ alone being both that life, and the way to it, and the truth, or light, that guides in that way, (John xiv. 6,) yet, Christians (so called) should esteem and look after him as little as if he were wholly needless. What meanest thou, O besotted sinner? Is it so light a thing to die in thy sins, and to die eternally for them, that thou wilt not so much as open and admit the light of salvation ? What wilt thou pretend in that terrible day ? Though all other kinds of people should offer some excuse, thou who hast heard the Gospel, shalt be speechless. For not only shall the rigour of justice condemn thee, but mercy itself shall plead against thee; for thou hast despised it. That light did come and was not embraced, shall be the main condemnation. How many thousands who make no doubt of Heaven, yet, shall then fall short of it! It is not a superficial profession, that will then pass current. It is not some public sighs and groans from an unsanctified heart, which either come from
custom, or some present touch of the word, nor yet is it some sudden risings of inward affection towards Christ, upon the report of his worth, that shall then serve the turn. The intellective knowledge of Christ, the distinct understanding, yea, the orthodox preaching of his Gospel, the maintaining of his public cause, and suffering for it, shall not then be found sufficient. Only that peculiar apprehension of Christ, those constant flames of spiritual love, that even course of holy walking in his light, shall be those characters whereby Christ shall own his children, and admit them into the inheritance of perfect light. One of the speakers in the book of Job, discoursing of the prosperity of the ungodly, calls it but his candle, and tells how long it can last : his candle (says he) shall be put out with him. And that's the longest term of it: if it last his lifetime, it shall convey him no further; he goes into eternity in the dark, and therefore, as St. John says, he knows not whither he goeth. Quò nunc abibis ? said that Emperor [Adrian) to his soul. Is it not a sad thing, when the soul that knows no other than worldly light, must take leave of it, and enter into eternal darkness, there to be incessantly tormented with
present anguish, and the frightful expectation of the last judgment, when it must take again that body which was the accomplice of its wickedness, to be partaker of its punishment; when it shall have a double misery, to behold crowns of immortality distributed to the godly, after the short combats of this life, and itself thrust out among the devils ? Then shall all men be in some way sensible, what is the worth of this now contemned light, the Lord Jesus Christ; the greatest number too late, for they shall be banished from it for ever. But the righteous shall then most perfectly know, and for ever enjoy this light and glory of the Lord. To whom, with the Father of lights, and the Spirit of grace, be eternity of praise and honour !
WHAŤ shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own sout? said our Saviour, who was to lay down a ransom for it, and knew well that it would cost infinitely more than the world was worth. Yet, the most of men value their own souls at a far lower rate than the whole world, losing them for broken morsels of it, yea, many times for vain hopes that are never accomplished. And as these men make a miserable bargain, so on the contrary, they that lose the world, or any thing worldly, yea, though it were the whole, to save their souls, make a profitable loss of it. Nature teaches men to hazard and lose all for the life of the body, rather than lose it, (although it proves many times very uncomfortable by the loss of these outward things,) and yet, the most part of men pass their whole life-time without one serious thought of the excellency and importance of their souls, whose life and happiness is of a higher nature, and neither consists in, nor depends upon, any thing here below. Hence it is, that while they use the helps of this present life, and the defences of it when it is in danger, and use them with so much diligence and attention, the means of that better life of their better part, their souls, they either use not at all, or so slightly and coldly that they never find salvation in them. You may find it some way in yourselves : the threatenings and preparations of men against you, have awakened and roused you more to think upon means
your temporal safety ; but how few are sensible and afraid of the wrath of God, who, as our Saviour tells us, can kill both body and soul, and cast them into hell! You want not frequent advertisement from the word of God, so plentifully preached, that many are perishing, one part in gross ignorance of God; another in profane and licentious living, and the greatest part in a formal and lifeless profession of religion, without the power
of it; and yet, where are they who lay it to heart, and bestir themselves to rescue their souls from destruction ? Certainly, whatsoever men profess, it is unbelief that is the cause of impenitence. Men are not convinced of the purity of God's nature, nor sensible of the impurity of their own; therefore they apply not themselves in good earnest to the work of repentance, and to reformation the liveliest part of it. Labour, then, for a more active and practical knowledge of God and Divine truths, such as may humble and renew your souls; not only that you may be delivered from outward troubles that threaten you, but much more, that you may escape the wrath
And because neither the word preached, nor judgments, nor mercies that are set before you, are sufficient to quicken a dead soul, or soften a hard heart, without the effectual concurrence of the Spirit of God, let us have recourse to the throne of grace, by humble and earnest prayer, in the name and meditation of Jesus Christ.
PSALM xlii. 8.
Yet the Lord will command his loving-kindness in the day-time, and in
the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of
Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upwards, saith Eliphaz, Job v. 7 And as it is the corruption and sinfulness of his birth and nature, that has exposed him to trouble, so nature usually sets him at work, to look out for such things as may preserve and deliver him from trouble, or, at least, mitigate and temper the bitterness of it. And because there is not any one worldly thing that hath either certainty or sufficiency eñough to serve at all times, therefore, worldly and natural men are forced to make use of variety, and are but badly served with them all. The believing soul hath but one comfort whereon he relies, but it is a great one, which alone weighs down all the rest. Bread strengthens, and wine makes glad the heart of man, Psal. civ. 15. But God is the strength of my heart, says the Psalmist, Psal. lxxxiii. 26, and the gladness of it too: Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than they have when their corn and wine increaseth. Psal. iv. 7. And therefore, while the rest are seeking after some scattered crumbs of goodness in the creatures, and saying, Who will shew us any good ? He fixes his choice upon this one thing, the light of God's countenance. And it is the constant assurance of this, that upholds him. Waves beat upon him, yea, and go over him ; yet, the Lord will command his lovingkindness to shine upon him. In this Psalm we may perceive the Psalmist full of
perplexed thoughts, and that betwixt strong desires and griefs, and yet, in the midst of them, now and then, some advantage, and intermixing strains of hope with his sad complaints : for immediately before, we heard nothing but the impetuous noise of many waters, deep calling unto deep, in the former verse ; we have here, as it were, a touch of the sweet sound of David's harp: Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness in the day-time, and in the night His song shall be with me.
In the words we have David's confidence, and David's purpose; the one suiting very well with the other. His confidence in God's loving-kindness : Yet the Lord will command His loving-kindness. And his purpose : And in the night His song shall be with me.
It is true, the latter words, In the night His song shall be with me, may be taken as a part of the expression of his confidence, taking the song for the matter or subject of the song, the goodness of God: as if he should say, Both in the day and in the night, I shall find the sweet fruits of God's favour and loving kindness. But not excluding that, I rather take it to be intended as his resolution, that it should be his custom, in the quiet season of the night, to look back upon God's goodness manifested to him in the actions and occurrences of the day; and thus entertaining his soul with that secret discourse, he would stir it up to the praises of his God, and withal; would join prayer for the continuance and further manifestation