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higher and to a purer flame by stirring. To be blessing God for His goodness, giving Him praise in the view of His works in the world, and for His church, and particularly for ourselves, this both disposes the heart to a more suitable temper for receiving divine comforts, and invites Him to let them flow into it. For if He have such acknowledgments for general goodness and common mercies, how much larger returns shall He have upon the discoveries of special love! Is it a sight of God as reconciled, thou wouldst have? Now, praise sets a man amongst the angels, and they behold His face.
Again, action, walking in His ways humbly and carefully, and so waiting, never wants a successful return of much love. How can He who is goodness itself, hide and reserve Himself from a soul that yields up itself to Him, hath no delight but to please Him, hates and avoids what may offend Him? This, surely, is the way, if there is any under Heaven, to enjoy communion with Him.
They that forget Him, and disregard their ways, and are no way careful to order them to His liking, do but delude themselves with mistaken fancies of mercy. I beseech you, be warned. There cannot be solid peace in the
of sin: no peace to the wicked, saith my God.
Outward common favours
you may share for a time; but these have a curse with them to you, and you shall quickly be at an end of these receipts; and then you would look towards Him for some persuasions of His loving-kindness, but are likely to find nothing but frowns and displeasure. O! consider this, ye that forget God, lest He tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you.
Even they who have some title to this love of God, and are desiring further evidence of it, yet, do often sit exceedingly in their own light, and work against their end, still bent on that assurance they would have, and yet neglecting the way to it, which certainly is in a manner to neglect itself. Were they more busied in honouring God, doing Him what service they can in their station, striving against sín, acknowledging His
goodness to the world, and even to themselves, that they are yet in the region of hope, not cut off in their iniquities, thus offering praise, and ordering their conversation aright, submitting unto Him, and giving Him glory; their assurances and comforts, in the measure He thinks fit, would come in due time, and sooner in this way than in any other they could take.
Observe these things, beware of sin, and ye shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord. It is true, this love of God changes not, nor hangs on thy carriage, nor on any thing without itself; yea, all our good hangs on it; but know, as to the knowledge and apprehension of it, it depends much on the holy frame of thy heart and the exact regulation of thy ways. Sin obstructs and darkens all; those are the clouds and mists; and where any believer is adventurous on the ways of sin, he shall smart for it. Where sin is, there will be a storm, as Chrysostom's word is of Joshua*. The experience of all witnesseth this. No strength of faith will keep out floods of doubting and troublous thoughts, where any novel sin hath opened a gap for them to rush in by. See David, Psal. li. expressing himself as if all were to begin again, his joy taken away, and his bones broken, and to sense all undone: nothing will serve but a new creature. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
There is a congruity in the thing itself, and God hath so ordered it, that vexation and anguish should still attend sin, and the ways of holiness be ways of peace. Say men what they will, great falls leave wounds and smart behind them, and they must be washed with sharper liquor before balm and oil be poured into them. And not only will more notorious breaches, disturb thy peace, but a tract of careless and fruitless walking. If thou abate of thy attendance on God, and thy fear cool towards Him, lagging and falling downwards to something you are caring for and taken with, you shall find an estrangement, it may be insensible at first and for a while because of thy sloth, that thou dost not observe diligently how it is with thee; but, after a time, it shall be more easily known, but more hardly mended. And there are none of us but might find much more of God in this our way homewards, if the foolishness and wanderings of our hearts did not prevent us.
* “Οπου αμαρτία εκεί χειμων.
Be persuaded, then, you whose hearts He hath wrought for Himself, to attend better on him, and the advantage shall be
yours, doubt it not. And though for a time you find it not, yet wait on, and go on in that way; it shall not disappoint you. The more you let go of the false, vain comforts of the world for His sake, the more richly you shall be fur nished with His. Oh! we make not room for them; that is the great hinderance. Consider Him, behold His works, bless Him, confess Him always worthy of praise for His goodness, and His wonderful works to the children of men, however He deal with thee in particular; and assuredly, He shall deal graciously with thee, and ere long thou shalt find it, and be forced to acknowledge it. Though it may be thou want these bright shinings of comforts thou wouldst have, yet, looking to Him, and walking before Him, observing these things, thou shalt have of His light to lead thee on, and a calm within; sweet peace, not that height of joy thou desirest.
There are often calm, fair days without storm, though it be not so clear sun-shine; and in such days a man may travel comfortably. I would have Christians called off from a perplexed over-pressing of this point of their particular assurance. were more studious to please Him, forgetting ourselves, we should find Him remember us the more; yet, we should not do so for this neither, but simply for Himself. In a word, this is thy wisdom; mind thy duty, and refer to Him thy comfort.
Psal. cxix. 96.
I have seen an end of all perfection; but Thy commandment is exceeding
Grace is a Divine light in the soul, and shews the true colours of things. The Apostle overshoots not when he says, The spiritual man judgeth all things. He hath undeniably the advantage: he may judge of natural things, but the natural man cannot judge of spiritual things. Yea, the truest judgment of natural things, in respect to our chiefest end, springs particularly from spiritual wisdom: that makes the true parallel of things, and gives a just account of their differences, as here,
I have seen an end, &c.] All that have any measure of spiritual light, are of this mind; but certainly, they that are more eminently blessed with it, have a more high and clearer view of both parts. David, who is generally, and with greatest likelihood, supposed to be the author of this Psalm, was singularly advantaged to make this judgment of things. He had, no doubt, a large measure of the knowledge of God and of His law, which here he declares to be so large; and being both a wise and a great man, might know more than most others, even of all other perfections, might trace them to their utmost, and see their end, as he expresses it. This same verdict we have from his son Solomon, after much experience in all things; who, having the advantage of peace and riches, did particularly set himself to this work, to a most exact inquiry after all things of this earth. He set nature on the rack, to confess its utmost strength for the delighting and satisfying of man; with much pains and art he extracted the very spirit of all, and after all, he gives the same judgment we have here; his book writ on that subject, being a paraphrase on this sentence, dilating the sense, and confirming the truth of it. It carries its own sum in those two words which begin and end it; the one, Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, and the other, Fear God, and keep His commandments, for that is the whole duty of man. And these here are just the equivalent of those two; the former of that beginning word; I have seen an end of all perfection; and the latter of that concluding one, But Thy commandment is exceeding broad.
When mean men speak of this world's greatness, and poor men cry down riches, it passes but for a querulous, peevish humour, to discredit things they cannot reach, or else an ignorant contempt of things they do not understand; or, taking it a little further, but a self-pleasing shift, a willingly undervaluing of those things of purpose to allay the displeasure of the want of them ; or at the best, if something of truth and goodness be in the opinion, yet, that the assent of such persons is, (like the temperance of sickly bodies,) rather a virtue made of necessity, than embraced of free choice. But to hear a wise man, in the height of these advantages, proclaim their vanity, yea, kings from the very thrones whereon they sit in their royal robes, give forth this sentence upon all the glories and delights about them, is certainly above all exception. Here are two, the father and the son ; the one raised from a mean condition to the crown, instead of a shepherd's staff, to wield a sceptre, and that, after many afflictions and dangers in the way to it; which, to some palates, gives a higher relish and sweetness to honour, than if it had slid on them before they could feel it, in the cheap, easy way of an undoubted succession. Or, if any think David's best days a little cloudy, by the remains of insurrections and oppositions, in that case usual; as the jumbling of the water is not fully quieted for a while after the same is over; then, take the son, succeeding to as fair a day as heart can wish, both a complete calm of and a bright sunshine of riches and regal pomp, and he able to improve these to the highest. And yet, both these are perfectly of the same mind in this great point. The son having