« AnteriorContinua »
lent, and well worthy your attention: I will utter dark sayings, which challenge your most serious regards. These are called dark sayings, not because they are hard to be understood, but because they are greatly to be admired, and carefully to be looked into. This is said to be fulblled in the parables which our Saviour put forth, Matt. xiii. 35. which were (as this) representations of the state of the kingdom of God among men. The passages of this subsequent narrative, which the Psalmist would utter with all freedom and plainness, are styled parables * and dark sayings, not from their unintelligibleness, but by reason of their gravity and weight, and being of great moment for the people's instruction and advantage ; and because the things contained in them, concerning God's transcendent goodness to an unworthy people ; and their unparalleled ingratitude for, and abuse of, such eminent favors, and their stupid ignorance and insensibleness, under such excellent and constant teachings of God's word and works, are indeed prodigious and hard to be believed.
Hence we may observe this note of doctrine, viz.
That God's word and providences, the ordinances, commandments, and laws of his kingdom, both of nature and grace, are things of infinite moment and concern to us.
Herein is contained the whole of man, respecting his present useful being, and his future comfort and happiness. God's word contains all things necessary for him to know, believe, and practice, in order to his fruition of the best good, which will never end, after a period is put to his short abode in this world. God's providences are discoveries of his wisdom and power, and of his kindness and favor in upholding all things, and in their universal government, wherein he many times shows himself strong, on the behalf of them that fear him; and sometimes for their instruction and admonition ; and to vindicate the honor of his own boliness and justice, he displays his indignation in the executions of his wrath upon bold and incorrigible sinners.
And in all this, wherein the ordinances, commandments, and laws, of the kingdom of nature and grace are exbibited and displayed to us, there are things of infinite moment and concern to us; things great and weighty and worthy of our consideration and utmost diligent attention : For what can concern us more, than to know God and ourselves, our duty and our happiness. More particularly,
1. God's word and providences are weighty things, and will appear to be of infinite moment and concern to us, if we consider their glorious author, the eternal God. He rules in the kingdom of providence and grace : He utters his voice, and lo! a mighty voice, and a gracious voice, in his providential dispensations, and in his holy word.
* Mr. Pool
The instructions, precepts, promises, and threatenings of the word of God, are all a copy of his adorable perfections, who is infinite in wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness and truth.
God's works of creation, providence, and grace, they are holy, though wonderful, and to be sought into, though unsearchable, and his ways righteous, though mysterious, and past finding out.
Wherefore, we should consider with whom it is we have to do, and remember that we cannot by searching find out God, that we cannot find out the Almighty to perfection. Secret things belong to God; but those that are revealed to us and to our children, that we may do all the words of his law.
2. God's word and providences are weighty things, and will appear to be of infinite moment and concern to us, if we consider their important design, to instruct and direct, rule and govern us, according to his holy and sovereign will.
All that the glorious God says and does in his word and in his works, is agreeable to the persection of his nature: And so far forth as they refer to us, they are for our instruction and direction, rule and government; that we may know God and our duty, and be kept from the abominable things which his soul bates, and be preserved in his love and favor ; which must needs render these things of infinite moment to us. But, in a word, for I can but just mention what might be enlarged upon,
3. These things are of the last concern to us, and will appear to be so, if we consider their end; the glory of God, our comfort here, and our eternal happiness hereafter.
This is the grand end which the great God proposes in all the exertments of himself, viz. his own glory. He made all things, he upholds all things, he orders and disposes of all things as he pleases, and all for the advancement of his own honor ; and the revelation which he hath made of himself in his written word, is in the first place for the same glorious purpose, for God can have no higher end than bimself, who is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. And subordinately he proposes the good of his creatures, and will make every thing to work together for the good of his chosen. They shall conspire for their advancement in grace, and to prepare them for the life of glory, which he will bestow upon all such, “ who by patient continuance in ways of well doing, seek for glory, honor and immortality.” God's word and his providential dispensations have all a tendency to this, with respect to those who make a right improvement of them ; wherefore they must needs be of infinite moment and concern to us, and upon that account demand our most careful and diligent attention : these things are weighty, and deserve our consideration. God's word is so, his works are so, and diligently to be sought out of all them that take pleasure in them. Hence we inser,
1. How reasonable it is, that we yield obedience to the demands of God, in giving the most earnest heed to the instructions and admonitions, given us from his word and works.
This is consistent with the highest reason, and we can have nothing to object against it. We are dependent creatures, and accountable creatures, and our chiesest interests are much concerned in our yielding such obedience. Wherefore it is highly reasonable that we should so do.
2. Hence how pleasant and delightsul should it be to us to give such attention to the instructions and admonitions of God's word and works.
We should do it with all cheerfulness and readiness of mind. Our submission to the glorious God in such an important article, should be the joy and rejoicing of our hearts, for in nothing can we take wiser measures, nor more directly consult our own present comfort and future peace.
3. Hence how profitable such an attention to the word and works of God would be to us.
This is the way to engage the favorable presence of God with us, in which alone our safety, comfort, and success are comprehended ; and this is the way to be received to the rewards of grace, in which is the life of our souls, and the happiness of eternity: See the reasonableness, pleasure, and profit of obedience.
4. Hence also the folly and absurdity of disregarding the calls of God, from his word and works.
Folly is bound up in the hearts of such as do so ; they take the most direct steps to their own ruin. Madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead, and to the damned.
In a word,
5. How just is the ruin, and how dreadful will the destruction be of such as refuse attention to the calls of God, from his word and works, in which are contained things of such weight, and of the last moment and importance to them.
Such cast the counsel of God behind their backs; and such may justly expect, that because they regard not the works of the Lord, and the operations of his hands; he will destroy them, and not build them up; and that because they refuse to hearken to his calls, that he will laugh at their calamity, when snares, fire and brimstone sball be made the portion of their cup; for on such wicked God will rain a most horrible tempest. And, concerning such his enemies, he will say, “ bring them hither and slay them before me.” And oh! who can stand before his indignation, who can abide the fierceness of his anger, when his fury shall be poured out like fire.
Pass we to
2. Another reason given in our text to urge the people's duty upon them, in attending to the instructions and admonitions which were to be given to them in God's name, viz. That the things which were to be discoursed of, were of ancient date.
They were the monuments of antiquity, dark sayings of old, " which we have heard and known, and which our fathers have told us.” They are things of undoubted certainty, we have heard them and known them; and there is no room left to question the truth of them.
The gospel of Luke is called a “declaration of the things which are most surely believed among us,” Luke i. 1, so were the things which the Psalmist was about to relate.
The honor we owe to our parents and ancestors, obligeth us to attend to that which our fathers have told us, and as far as it appears to be true and good, to receive it with so much the more reverence and regard. There is both profit and pleasure in being informed of things of ancient date, that are of undoubted verity, and of moment and importance.
Hence we may observe this note of doctrine, viz.
That it is a very agreeable and useful entertainment to refresh our minds with the remembrance of what God has done for us in our day, and with his dealings towards our ancestors, which were performed in the days of old; in the times of ancient generations.
It is exceeding pleasant to ingenious and inquisitive minds to reflect upon the observables of divine Providence, within the coinpass of their own knowledge; and also to be entertained with those of ancient date, which were remarked in the days of their forefathers.
I shall not say any thing to demonstrate the pleasure that there is herein, the bare repeating the fact carries its own evidence along with it to all such whose minds are of this stamp; and herculean labor would be but labor lost, to endeavor to form a relisbing idea thereof in the minds of such as are of another mould.
Wherefore I pass to say, that it may be a very useful and profitable entertainment to refresh our minds with what God has done for us in our day, and with his dealings towards our ancestors, which were performed in the days of old ; and to show that in several ways, and for several ends and
may be so.
1. To fix in our minds a just remembrance of the great and good things God hath done for us, and for our progenitors.
Thus says the inspired penman in our text, verse 4.
« Showing to the generation to come, the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and the wonderful works that he bath done." We should not presently forget the merciful appearances of God for us, or ours, it is an argument of ingratitude if we do; neither should we soon let slip the awful tokens of God's displeasure in any instance, by means of which our Hesh has been made to tremble ; but we should lay up the remarkable occurrences of divine Providence for future improvement; and frequently to renew the idea of them in our minds, cannot but have a tendency to fix them in the thoughts of the imagination of our hearts.
Again, 2. To stir up in us a boly fear of God and a dread of his wrath.
Among the purposes of Heaven in the discoveries of the divine displeasure, in the executions of vengeance, this is one, “that others may bear and fear," may thereby be admonished and take warning. We ought to fear that holy and dreadful name, the Lord our God. We should have such an awe of the majesty of Heaven, and such a dread of his wrath, as to make us very cautious of doing any thing to provoke him to come forth against us in anger. Now a serious reflection upon what God has done, either in our own day, or in ancienter times, to punish his people for their rebellions against him, may have, and surely it ought to have this influence and effect upon us, through a holy fear of God, to avoid those ways and practices which were so provoking to the God of heaven, that for the honor of his great name, he hath visited his people with sore judgments and calamities. This is particularly intimated to us in our text, verse 9,—"and might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not steadfast with God.” Further,
3. This may be of use and service to excite our love, and increase our gratitude to the ever-blessed God.
The many kind things that Heaven has done for us and for our fathers, should influence us to love our most gracious and bountiful Benefactor, and should enlarge our hearts in gratitude to him. Every day is a witness for God that he is good, and does good; and calls for our constant and persevering returns of love and gratitude. But there are some remarkable interpositions of favor and goodness wbich demand our most special and peculiar notice; eminent and signal appearances of divine favor call for more peculiar and enlarged returns : And many such there have been, if we did but duly attend to them, in our own day, and in the days of our fathers, which are very loud calls to us, to love the Lord our preserver and benefactor, and to render to him our grateful acknowledgments, according to the benefits done unto us.