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direction, they disregard God himself, his authority, and will; for they that receive Christ's messengers, receive him, and they that receive their messages which are agreeable to the analogy of faith, and the doctrines of godliness, receive his; and they that reject them, reject him; they despise not men, but God; and if they reject Christ, and receive not his words, they have one that will judge them, the word that he hath spoken, the same shall judge them in the last day.
3. Let us now, in God's name and fear, apply ourselves to that which the Lord our God requires of us, in our respective characters. And now, may the glorious Head of the church abundantly furnish me with his word, from time to time, agreeable to your more special circumstances, a word of instruction, reproof, exhortation, and counsel; and having God's word, may I be enabled to speak his word in the demonstration of the Spirit and with power, agreeable to the lively oracles, with seriousness, gravity, and solemnity; and with special and pertinent application to the state and condition of your souls, seeking your good, your spiritual profit and advantage, your edification and salvation, and not any vain glory or applause of men; you also being my helpers, by your fervent addresses to God for me, that I may obtain grace to be faithful, and find mercy of the Lord to be successful. Thus to serve you and yours (by the help of God) is my earnest desire, in what may be attempted in the following articles of discourse, upon this occasion, that God's name may be glorified, and our souls nourished by the sincere milk of the word.
Wherefore to proceed-let me observe,
II. The reasons given by the holy prophet in our text, to urge the people's duty upon them, in attending to the instructions and admonitions he was about to deliver to them in God's name.
And these were three, viz.
1. That the things to be discoursed of were weighty.
3. That they were things in which posterity were concerned. All which render them worthy of regard and attention.
1. The first reason given in our text, by the inspired messenger of God, to urge the people's duty upon them, in attending to the instructions and admonitions which he was about to give them in God's name, is, that the things to be discoursed of were weighty, and therefore deserve consideration. I will open my mouth in a parable, in that which is sublime and uncommon,* but very excel
* Mr. Henry.
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 fulfilled 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 holiness 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 exhibited 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
* Mr. Pool.
voice, and a gracious voice, in his providential dispensations, and in his holy word.
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 perfection 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 hates, 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 himself, 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 infer,
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 chiefest interests are much concerned in our yielding such obedience. Wherefore it is highly reasonable that we should so do.
2. Hence how pleasant and delightful 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 shall 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 compass 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 relishing 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 purposes it 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.