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in Christ; all is free. The miracles of Christ, signs of power and goodness, are preludes to his greater work. It is most senseless to have a thought of preventing him, from whom all good and all being flow. And this he does; if any be in Christ, he is a new creature, and the word is, all made new, new delights and desires, and thoughts new-a new heaven, and a new earth; a new soul, and a new body, renewed in holiness, sanctified, and made conformable to Jesus Christ. And when thou findest some work of grace, which thou canst not wholly deny, and yet wantest that peace and joy which thou desirest, look to him for that too, thou that findest it not from the word preached, yet he can speak it, and even by that word wherein formerly thou didst not find it. It is the fruit of the lips, but so withal, that it is his creation ;. he only causes it to be. I create the fruit of the lips, peace, peace. The T'ather wrought by the Son in the first creation, but in a new and special manner works by him in this second. He is that word made flesh, who is the life and the spring of all, the grace and comfort thou desirest or readest of. Go to him; he delights to let forth his mercies to thirsting souls; to revive them, to restore or turn them again, when they are in a swoon, as the word is Psal. xxiii. The more thou puttest him to it, the more shalt thou find his prevailing power, and fulness of grace that dwells in him, which is no more diminished by all he shews forth, than his divine power, which was not weakened by framing of the world. There is no scarcity of spirit in him; therefore, he proclaimed it as plural : If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink. He that believeth in me, out of his belly shall flow RIVERS of living water.
How manifold are thy works, O Lord! says the Psalmist'; and then adds, that wherein all the variety of them agrees, the holding forth of his incomparable wisdom, from whose wisdom they are; In wisdom thou hast made them all. As there are some of them
1 Psal. civ.
more excellent than others, they certainly do, in a clearer and more eminent degree, glorify God. In the great fabric, that part which hath the highest place, the heavens, hath also this advantage. The greatness of the Great Architect appears somewhat more bright in them; therefore, are they singled out from the rest for that purpose, both here, ver. 3, and Psal. xix. ver. 1. But, beyond all the rest, and even beyond them, is the wisdom and goodness of God displayed in framing of his reasonable creatures.
There are of them two stages, the one higher, the angels; the other lower, yet but a little lower, man; as here, we have them together.
Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, &c. ;-the nature of a spirit, a rational, intelligent spirit, &c.
Ver. 1. I said I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not
with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.
ferred upon man, that he may as freely and frequently as he will, converse with Him that made him, the great King of Heaven and earth. It is indeed a wonder that God should honour poor creatures so much; but it is no less strange that men having so great privileges, the most part of them do use them so little. Seldom do we come to him in times of ease.
And when we are spurred to it by afflictions and pains, commonly we try all other means rather than this, that is the alone true and unfailing comfort. But such as have learned this way of laying their pained head and heart in his bosom, they are truly happy, though in the world's language they be never so miserable.
This is the recourse of this holy man in the time of his affliction, whatever it was, prayer and tears, bemoaning himself before his God and Father, and that the more fervently, in that he finds his speaking to men so unprofitable; and therefore he refrains from it.
The Psalm consists of two parts; his silence to men, and his speech to God; and both of them are set with such sweet notes of music, though they be sad, that they deserve well to be committed to the Chief Musician.
I said, I will take heed to my ways.] It was to himself that he said it; and it is impossible for any other to prove a good or a wise man, without much of this kind of speech to himself. It is one of the most excellent and distinguishing faculties of a reasonable creature, much beyond vocal speech, for in that some birds may imitate us; but neither bird nor beast have any thing of this kind of language, of reflecting or discoursing with itself. It is a wonderful brutality in the greatest part of men, who are so little conversant in this kind of speech, being framed and disposed for it, and which is not only of itself excellent, but of continual use and advantage; but it is a common evil among men, to go abroad, and out of themselves, which is a madness and a true distraction. It is true a man hath need of a well set mind, when he speaks to himself; for otherwise he may be worse company to himself than if he were with others; but he ought to endeavour to have a better with him, to call in God to his heart to dwell with him. If thus we did, we should find how sweet this were to speak to ourselves, by now and then intermixing our speech with discourses unto God. For want of this, the most part not only lose their time in vanity, in their converse abroad with others, but do carry in heaps of that vanity to the stock which is in their own hearts, and do converse with that in secret, which is the greatest and the deepest folly in the world.
Other solitary employments, as reading the disputes and controversies that are among men, are things not unuseful, yet all turns to waste, if we read not our own heart, and study that: This is the study of every holy man, and between this and the consideration of God, he spends his hours and endeavours. Some have recommended the reading of men more than books: But what is in the one, or both of them, or all the world beside, without this ? a man shall find himself out of his proper business, if he acquaint not himself with this, to speak much with
God and with himself, concerning the ordering of his own ways.
It is true, it is necessary for some men, in some particular charges and stations, to regard the ways of others; and besides, something also there may be of a wise observing others, to improve the good and evil we see in them, to our own advantage, and bettering our own ways, looking on them to make the repercussion the stronger on ourselves : but except it be out of charity and wisdom, it flows either from uncharitable malice, or else a curious and vain spirit, to look much and narrowly into the ways of others, and to know the manner of living of persons about us, and so to know every thing but ourselves; like travellers, that are well seen in foreign and remote parts, but strangers in the affairs of their own country at home. The check that Christ gave to Peter is due to such, What is that to thee? follow thou mea. “ Look thou to thine own feet, that they be set in the right way.” It is a strange thing that men should lay out their diligence abroad to their loss, when their pains might be bestowed to their advantage nearer at hand, at home within themselves.
This that the Psalmist speaks here of, taking heed to his ways, as it imports his present diligence, so also it hath in it a reflection on his ways past, and these two do mutually assist one another; for he shall never regulate his ways before him, that has not wisely considered his ways past; for there is wisdom gathered from the observation of what is gone to the choosing where to walk in time to come, to see where he is weakest, and lies exposed to the greatest hazard, and there to guard. Thus David expresses it in another Psalm, I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies And this would not be done only in the great change of one's first conversion from sin, but this double observance still continued every day, looking to his rule, and laying that rule to his way, a John xxi, 22.
b Psal. cxix. 59.