« ПретходнаНастави »
(which leads to the other part of the text,) in the night time to meditate on that goodness; and to frame a song of praise to the Author of it.
And indeed, what is the whole thread of our life, but a checkered twist, black and white, of delights and dangers interwoven ? and the happiest passing of it, is constantly to enjoy and to observe the experiences of God's goodness, and to praise Him for them. David was a wise king, and withal a valiant soldier, and yet we see he thought not this experience inconsonant with either of those two conditions. This precious book of Psalms (a great part thereof being his) testifies clearly, that prayer and praises were his great employment. A religious disposition of mind may not only consist with fortitude and magnanimity, but is indeed the best principle and cause of both, contrary to the wicked and foolish opinion of profane persons. Whether of the two, do you think, might welcome a day of battle with most courage and resolution; he that had passed the preceding night in revelling and carousing, or he that had spent it in prayer, and obtained some assurance of a better life? Truly, if they went on with equal forwardness, there is no man, except he were an atheist, but would judge the one to be brutish fury and precipitation, and the other true valour.
His song. In the worst estate there is ever some matter of praise to be mixed with request; and truly, we may justly suspect that our neglect of praises, makes our prayers unacceptable.
And my prayer. In the best estate here below, praise must be accompanied with prayer. Our wants, and necessities, and straits, return daily upon us, and require new supplies of mercy; and prayer, if we know how to use it right, is the way to obtain them all.
To the God of my life, or, the God that is my life. This word is added, as the reason of all that went before. If you ask David, why he reposeth so much upon the loving-kindness of God, what he means, to spend so much pains in praises and prayer to God; he answers, Because He is my life. He is the author and preserver of my temporal life, and all the passages and accidents of it are in His hand alone. He hath also given me, and He maintains in me a spiritual life; yea, He is the life of my soul : it lives by union with Him, as my body does by union with it, and He hath laid up life eternal for me. Would Christians think thus indeed, the light of this consideration would dispel their distrustful fears. Certainly, there is atheism at the bottom of them; if not a denial or a misconceit of God, at least a forgetfulness of God. See Isa. li. 12, 13. I, even I, am He that comforteth you. Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man, which shall be made as grass, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker, that hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth? Consider, then, that men have no power over our present life, but by the appointment of God. And beside that, we have another life, which is infinitely more precious than this: a life spiritual, and which is the beginning of eternal life; and this is altogether out of danger from them. Our life is hid with Christ in God. Col. iii. 3. It is hid, and wicked men cannot so much as see it: how then should they take it from us, seeing it is hid? And that not meanly: it is hid with Christ in God. What then shall become of it ? Read the next verse, and read it to your comfort, for there is abundance in it, if you look right upon it. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we likewise shall appear with him in glory. They that are in God, being united to Him through Christ, can never by any power be separated from Him. It is an indissoluble union. Death itself, that is the great dissolver of all other unions, civil and natural, is so far from untying this, that it consummates it: it conveys the soul into the nearest and fullest enjoyment of God, who is its life, where it shall not need to desire that God would command (or send) His loving-kindness, as it were from a distance; it shall be then at the spring-head, and shall be satisfied with His love for ever,
WHEREFORE do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfies not? says the Prophet. Isa. lv. 2. All men agree in this, that they would willingly meet with some satisfying good; and yet, if you look aright upon the projects and labours of the greatest part, you shall find them flying from it, and taking much pains to be miserable. And truly, considering the darkness that is upon the soul of man, it is no great wonder to see those miss their way, and continue wandering, who hear not the voice of the Gospel to recal them, and see not its light to direct them. But this is somewhat strange, that where true happiness, and the true way to it, are propounded and set before men, so few hould follow it in good earnest. If the excellency of that good did not allure them, yet, one would think that their many disappointments in all other things, should drive them home to it. How often do we run ourselves out of breath after shadows! And when we think we have overtaken them, and would lay hold of them, we find nothing. And yet, still we love to befool ourselves, even against our own experience, which, we say, uses to make fools wiser. Still we choose rather to shift from one vanity to another, than to return to that Sovereign Good, that alone can fill the vastest desires of our souls; rather to run from one broken cistern to another, as the Prophet calls them, yea, and to take pains to hew them out, than have recourse to that Fountain of living waters. One main thing that makes men thus rove and wander, is, that they do not reflect upon their own course, nor upon themselves, what is the main end they aim at, and then see whether their way be suitable to that end. If they would be happy, (as who would not?) then 'surely, things that are empty, and uncertain, and certainly perishing, will not serve the turn. And
truly, as this thought would be seasonable at any time, so especially to us in these times, wherein, besides the common uncertainty of outward things, there is an apparent visible hazard that men's lives and fortunes are likely to be put to. Will you make advantage and gain of your trouble?
trouble? Thus. The looser you find other things tied to you, and as it were upon a running knot, secure that one thing, and your portion in it, which is worth all the rest; yea, far above them all, and that alone which can be secured, and made certain. Wanting this, what though you had peace, and health, and all imaginable prosperity, you would still be miserable, being liable to the wrath of God, and eternal destruction. But if once united to Christ, and in him reconciled to God, and entitled to Heaven, what can fall amiss to you? You shall have joy in the midst of sorrow and affliction, and peace in the midst of war, yea, and life in death. But think not to attain this assurance, while you continue profane and God-less, not seeking it in the way of holiness, for there alone it is to be found. And withal beg it of God by humble prayer.
PSALM cxix. 136.
Rivers of waters run down mine eyes: because they keep not Thy law.
Love is the leading passion of the soul: all the rest follow the measure and motion of it, as the lower heavens are said to be wheeled about with the first.
We have here a clear instance of it in the Psalmist, who is testifying his love to God, by his esteem and love of the law or word of God. What is each of the several verses of this Psalm, but a several breathing and vent of this love, either in itself, or in the causes, or in the effects of it? Where he sets forth the excellencies and utilities of God's law, there you have the causes of his love. His observing and studying of it, his desire to know it more and observe it better, these are the effects of his affection to it. The love itself, he often expresseth, ver, 47, 48, 113, and ver. 140. Thy word is pure; therefore Thy servant loveth it. And ver. 127. I love Thy commandments above gold, yea, above fine gold. But as scarcely accounting that love which can be uttered, how much it is, ver. 97, he expresseth it most, by intimating that he cannot express it: 0, how I love Thy law ! Hence are his desires (which are love in pursuit) so earnest after it. Amongst many, that is pathetical, ver. 20. My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto Thy judgment at all times. Hence, likewise, his joy and delight, (which are love in possession,) ver. 14. I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies as much as in all riches; and ver. 16, I will delight myself in Thy statutes : I will not forget Thy word. We have his hatred of things opposite, (which is love's antipathy,) ver. 113, I hate vain thoughts, but Thy law do I love ; ver. 163, I hate and abhor lying, but Thy law do I love. And in the 139th verse you shall find his zeal, (which is no other than the fire of love stirred up or blown into a flame,) My zeal hath consumed me; because mine enemies have forgotten Thy words. And (to omit the rest) in the 158th verse, his love to the law, shows its sympathy in sorrow for the violation of the law : I beheld the transgressors and was grieved ; because they kept not Thy word. And here you find this grief swelling to such a height, that it runs over into abundant tears. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes; because they keep not Thy law.
The words have briefly, these rivers in their channel and course, They run down mine eyes; and then, in their spring and cause, to wit, the Psalmist's sympathy with God's law broken by men, in the latter clause of the verse, because they keep not Thy law. But both together clearly teach us, That godly men are affected with deep sorrow for the sins of the ungodly.
More particularly consider, I. The object of this affection. II. The nature of it. III. The degree or measure of it. IV. Its subject.
I. The object is, the Transgression of the Law, or, to take it (as in the text) in concreto, Men transgressors of the law; They keep not thy law. It is true, the whole creation groaneth