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David's testimony: and similar expressions did Solomon also use, when he had deposited the ark in the sanctuary of his temple. But since Christ has come, he has a far nobler rest, even in the bosoms of his obedient people; a rest, in comparison of which the temple of Solomon in all its glory was perfectly contemptibled. Truly this rest is glorious indeed: for here he vouchsafes far brighter manifestations of his glory, and incomparably richer communications of his grace. The glory that filled the temple, so that the priests could no longer stand to minister there, infinitely excelled all that the temple itself contained: but, in comparison of the discoveries which God vouchsafes to his believing people, it was darkness itself. See the Lord Jesus as “the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person;" see the glory of God beaming in his face, and all the divine perfections shining with harmonious and united splendour in the work he has accomplished, and you will readily perceive, how far brighter are the discoveries of Christ now made to the believing soul, than all that ever were vouchsafed to men before his advent. The
the mercy, the peace, the joy, the strength, which animated some highly favoured souls before this time, were indeed very abundant: but as a general communication to his Church of old, these gifts were but as a drop before the shower: for “ the Spirit was not then given, because that Jesus was not then glorified.” So truly does he now “ glorify the house of his glory, and make the place of his feet gloriouse."] We may see from hence,
1. What improvement we should make of the preached Gospe) —
[The preaching of the Gospel is, in fact, the raising of this standard before the eyes of men: it is the setting forth of Christ crucified, and the calling of men to enlist under his ban
What then have we to do, but to flock around him ; to give up our names to him, that they may be inscribed on his list; and to gird ourselves for the combat at his command? Let us then vie with each other in zeal for his service: and let us willingly "endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ," that, being more than conquerors, we may receive a crown of righteousness at the hands of our righteous Judge?.] 2. The blessedness of those who improve it aright
[Whoever complies with the invitations of the Gospel, and unites himself to the army of saints, the Church of God, he instantly becomes a distinguished favourite of heaven ; his heart is the temple of the Deity; he is God's residence, he is God's
c 2 Chron. vi. 41. d Isai. lvii. 17. and lxvi. 1, 2. e Isai. lx. 7, 13. f 2 Tim. iy. 8.
rest: and more glorious is he, than if all earthly dignities were centered in him: more happy, than a combination of all earthly comforts could make him. Let us then aspire after“ the good of God's chosen, that we may rejoice in the gladness of his nation, and glory with his inheritance 8."]
8 Ps. coi. 5.
THE BELIEVER's song. Isai. xii. 1, 2. In that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise
thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
GLORIOUS prospects are open to our poor benighted world. The time is coming, and we trust it is not far distant, when “ all the kingdoms of the world, whether of Jews or Gentiles, shall become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ.” “ The Root of Jesse,” the Lord Jesus Christ, does already “stand as an ensign to the Gentiles;” and though but few, comparatively, have flocked to his standard yet, he shall “ gather to him all nations” ere long, and “ his rest shall be glorious.” His ancient people, too, shall return to him, and experience at his hands mercies similar to those with which they were favoured in the day that they came forth out of the land of Egypt. For them all, and especially for the latter, is this song prepared; and it shall be sung by them with most exalted joy. But we need not wait till that day: for every redeemed soul is authorized to adopt it, as expressing his own feelings in the contemplation of the blessings vouchsafed unto him.
To assist you in the attainment of this heavenly frame, I will shew, I. That praise is the proper employment of the whole
inte ligent creation
-[When God first called forth the universe into existence, he made every thing for the glory of his own great name: and a Isai. xi. 10.
b Isai. xi. 11-16.
to this hour “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy-work.” Whilst these inferior works unconsciously proclaim his praise, his intelligent creatures more especially engage in this delightful work; and, so far as they are restored to their original state, account it their highest happiness to glorify their God. Conceive of our first parents in Paradise: how, may we suppose, were their minds occupied, whilst they retained their primeval innocency? No doubt they contemplated, with incessant admiration, the perfections of Him to whom they owed their existence, and the obligations conferred upon them above all the rest of the creation, the angels alone excepted. Now, what reason is there why our employment should not accord with theirs ? Be it granted, that we have cares and labours, to which they, in their state of innocence, were strangers : after their fall, they were no strangers either to the one or to the other : yet we cannot doubt but that they endeavoured to blend these holy feelings with their daily occupations; and, instead of complaining of religion as a task, they found in the exercise of it their richest solace and support. In this, all the most eminent saints have resembled them. David, especially, was in the habit of praising God, as it were, "all the day long," and of putting forth all the powers of his soul in that holy exercised. * Doubtless it is necessary for us to pour out also our supplications before the Most High: yea, we should“ pray without ceasing:” but yet should we also "in every thing give thanks; for this also is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning use." The perfections of God are still the same as ever, and our obligations to him are the same; or rather, they are infinitely increased; inasmuch as the gift of his only dear Son to die for us, is, in comparison of all other gifts, as the radiance of the sun when compared with the twinkling of a star. I say not then too much, when I affirm, that “ praise is comely for the upright';" and that it is no less our happiness than our duty to abound in it, every day, and all the day long. In truth, this is the felicity of heaven: for all the hosts, whether of saints or angels, are engaged continually in this one employment of singing praises unto God: the one, for for all the wonders of redeeming love; and the other, for the blessed experience which they have of it in their own souls.]
That you may enter upon this blessed work without delay, I proceed to shew, II. What abundant occasion for it there is to the re
c Ps. cxlv. 10.
d Ps. xxxv. 28. and ciii. 1, 2.
The mercies vouchsafed to every true convert are here set forth, 1. In a way of simple acknowledgment
[With every soul of man has God been angry, seeing that there is not one of all the human race that has not violated his holy laws
But, when we seek for mercy at his hands in his Son's name,
“ he turns away from us his anger," and "sheds abroad in our hearts a sense of his love"
Say now, whether one so “comforted” has not reason to bless and adore his God? See the soul when trembling through dread of his displeasure: see it when first the light of God's reconciled countenance is lifted up upon it: see it when the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, is sent forth to dwell in it as his temple, and to manifest unto it all the riches of redeeming grace—Has such an one no ground for praise and joy? Verily, “if he should hold his
the very stones would cry out against him.") 2. In a way of exultation and triumph
[“ Behold, God is my salvation!” says the believing soul. How wonderful a truth! Methinks, if it were not uttered by the voice of inspiration, one would be almost ready to call it blasphemy. What! Is God, even the Most High God, our salvation? Yes; and not our Saviour only, but salvation itself; inasmuch as He dwells in us, and abides in us, and “works all our works in us.” Hence the believing soul further adds, “ The Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; He also is become my salvation.” This is a blessing not future, but present; not hoped for, but actually possessed. The Lord God, Almighty himself has undertaken for us. Yes, our Saviour is no other than the Deity incarnate, “ God with us,” “God manifest in the flesh," and "purchasing the Church with his ow blood." Every thing that was necessary for our reconciliation with God, He wrought for us on the cross : and every thing that is necessary to make us meet for our inheritance He works in us, by his Holy Spirit: so that, whilst he is “our strength, he is also our song" from day to day.
I ask then, Is here no cause to praise our God? The wonder is, that any person, thus favoured, can find time for any other employment, or have any inclination to utter a word which has not a direct reference to these mercies.]
In our text, we further see, III. What is that frame of mind with which our
praise should ever be accompaniedMany will be the trials of a Christian, notwithstanding all that he is privileged to enjoy
[Still will he have many conflicts with his in-dwelling corruptions; and be constrained, at times, to cry, “ wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me?” — - Satan, too, that great and subtle adversary of God and man, will doubtless assault hin with all manner of temptations; insomuch, that, if God were not to uphold him, he could never standNor will he find light difficulties even from his fellow-creatures, who will exert themselves to the uttermost, both by fraud and violence, to obstruct his way -- -]
But, in the midst of all, his heart will be stayed upon the Lord
["I will trust, and not be afraid," is the continued language of his soul. He knows in whom he has believed; and that his God is “ able to keep that which he has committed to him ;” yea, and pledged also, to save to the uttermost all that come to him in his Son's name. Hence he says, “ The Lord is my strength and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraidh?" “If God be for me, who can be against me?" Thus is "his heart fixed, trusting in the Lord ;” and he goes forth to his daily conflicts assured of victory, yea, assured that he shall be "more than conqueror through him that loved him."]
And now let me,
1. Take up a lamentation over those who have never yet seen this day
[How many of us are there who are not even sensible that God is angry with them, or that, consequently, have never cried to him in earnest to turn away his displeasure ? Let each consult the records of his own heart, and say whether this be not his unhappy condition? Yes, verily, there are many amongst us, it is to be feared, who have never, in their whole lives, shed one tear for their sins, nor ever uttered one cry to God for the remission of them. And what must I say to you? I have no wish to lay upon you more guilt than you
have contracted: but you all are sinners before God, and as sinners, are obnoxious to his wrath. You all therefore need to repent of your sins, and to implore mercy at the hands of your offended God, in the name and through the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ: and if you have not done this in sincerity and truth, you are at this moment “under condemnation, and the wrath of God abideth on you'.” As to the consolations of God's Spirit, you are as much strangers to them as if no such blessings ever were vouchsafed to mortal man. Were you to hear one speaking of the manifestations of God's presence to his soul,
h Ps. xxvii. 1.
i John üïi. 18, 36.