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ISAIAH Xxxviii. 19. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father

to the children shall make known thy truth.

It is much to be desired, that men would consider the great business of their life : but few do it, till it is just going, or gone out of their hands. Hezekiah had been at the brink of the grave, and learned those just thoughts of life, which he gives us with much concern in the text. Wherein we have,

1. The mercy of life: “The living, the living, he shall praise thee,” &c. Ver. 18, he had been speaking of the dead, the inhabitants of the gloomy mansions of the grave: and in opposition to these he here speaks of the living, and in a triumphant manner proposeth to speak of them, as seeing the mercy of life. A serious view of death is the way to get just thoughts of the mercy of life.

2. Wherein the mercy of life, the peculiar mercy of it consists. And the decision of this is in a vein of thought peculiar to the spiritual man, in a spiritual frame.

1st, Ask the carnal man, where lies the mercy of life? And,

(1.) If he is in prosperity, with health and wealth, he reckons the mercy of life lies, in that the living man may enjoy the pleasures of sense, mirth, and jollity, and may lay up wealth for him and his ; all which stern death robs a man of. But there is not one word of this here.

(2.) If he is in adversity, poverty, and sore sickness, he either cannot see the mercy of life at all, but thinks they are well that are away, that are out of poverty and pain, and lie at ease in the dust.

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So crosses make him wish to be away. At best, he reckons it the mercy of life, that he is not there where it may be he would be worse, viz. in hell. But there is not a word of all this neither in the text.

Ždly, Ask the renewed man in an ill frame of spirit, where lies the mercy of life? If he is in outward prosperity, he will be ready to reckon it lies in the comforts of this life. If he is in adversity, the troubles of life are so great, that the mercy of it is small in his view; only heaven bulks in his eyes, and that as a place of rest from trouble. But there is nothing of this neither in the text.

The decision is, The mercy of life lies in the business of life, to wit, being serviceable for God in the world : “ The living, the living, he shall praise thee,” &c. Hezekiah counts that the great mercy of life, to have access to be useful for God in the world. Which speaks (1.) A high esteem of God and his service, as men count it a favour to be allowed to serve their prince. (2) An ardent love to him, as men delight to serve the interests of those they dearly love. This will be to a spiritual inan in a spiritual frame the most desirable thing in life : Phil. i. 20, 21, “According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all bold. ness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” This is a just endearment of life. Now, the business of life for which it is desirable, is twofold.

1. To praise or glorify God in the world; to speak of the perfections of his nature, and show forth the praises of him who hath called us, among men, to the advancement of his kingdom here under the sun : to strike up beams of his glory in a dark world, and commend him and his way before and to others. Now, here consider,

1st, Whose is this privilege : “ The living, the living,'' i. e. the living all along in a succession of generations to the end of the world. That is the import of the doubling of this word. This access to the praising of God in the world, is peculiar to the living. And,

(1.) It is not those that are now dead, but those that are now living, that bave access to shew forth his praise, and glorify him, in a world where he is so much dishonoured ; to side with him, and take his part against his enemies. It is true, the souls of dead saints are praising God in heaven in the loftiest strains : but what the better is the world of these praises? No more than they that are sitting in the dark room down stairs, are the better of a glorious lamp shining in the upper room. Is there ever a poor sinner brought

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No ;

acquainted and to fall in love with Christ by their means ? their praises of God are to sinners here as if they were not; they hear them not. Is the kingdom of Christ in the world advanced by these praises ? No. It is the living, the living only, that have access to those pieces of service to God. The living man that sits in a cote-house has the access to glorify God in the world that no saint in heaven has.

(2.) If tbose that are now living were once dead, they will have no more access to praise him in the world; but those that will be then living: and so on to the end. Men will go off the stage one after another, but they will not carry that work with them ; but it will still be leit in the hands of the living, and no other, whatever they make of it. There are heads, tongues, and hands of ministers and Christians lying in the grave, that have contrived, spoken, and acted well for God in the world : but now, if the cause of God and religion, which is very low, were at the last gasp, there is no more help to be had from those heads, tongues, and hands. The living only must speak and act for it, or it must lie.

2dly, An instance of it: "As I do this day.” Hezekiah was recovered from sickness, and he gives God the praise of it. He looked on it as his bounden duty to fall closely again to that business of life, which was likely to have been taken out of his hands by death. What time of life the Lord lengthens out to us, after threatening a removal, we should be careful to use for the honour of God.

2. To propagate his name and praise : “ The father to the children shall make known thy truth.” It is the special business of life, to endeavour that the name of God may live and be glorified in the world, when we are dead. It is a black mark for persons not to care what come of the world if they were out of it. A child of God will be concerned, that religion may be kept up and propagated in it : and while he is living, he has access to contribute to it. And here consider,

1st, What he has access to do for that end; namely, to praise God to the younger sort, that are likely to live after he is gone ; especially to his own family, and particularly his own children. (Heb.) “ 'l'he father to the children;" q.d. The father (“shall praise thee"] to the children. They may shew to them how lovely God is, and how desirable his way: and when they have children, they may do the same to them; and so on, God's praise will be kept up in the world.

Now observe, he is still speaking of the living, for these are the subject expressly proposed to be spoken of. Q. d. As for the living, the living father may praise thee to the living sons. It imports,

(1.) If the father die, though the children live, he can do God no

more honour, and them no more service that way. If he has neglected his duty to his family in his life, he cannot come back again to mend the matter. If he left them ignorant of God, and strangers to him, though one word from him again could save their souls from the pit, he has no more access to give them it.

(2.) If the children die, though the father live, he can do God no more honour, and them no more service that way. He may take care of their dust, to bury it: but he can do no more for their souls : "As the tree falls it must lie.” While they are both standing and living together, he has access to serve their souls : but when one of them falls, that work is at an end.

2dly, How he may do it, how he may commend him to them; namely, by making him known to them as an object worthy of their faith, trust and confidence: “Shall make known thy truth.” The espression in the Hebrew is concise, “ He may make known, unto thy truth.” The word rendered to hope, ver. 18, properly signifying intensely to look, Neh. ii. 13, 15, is understood. Q. d. That they may look unto thy truth or faithfulness. So in it are two things to be considered.

(1.) The proper method of praising or commending God to the rising generation ; and that is, by making him known. The more he is known, the more lovely will he appear. “God is light.” The best way to commend the sun to one sitting in a dark room, is to open the windows, and let in its light, and bid him look to it with his eyes: the best way to commend God and religion to the generation rising, is to labour that they may know and understand them, by teaching

(2.) The great thing we are to have in view in that work. It is, that they may look intensely unto his truth; that they may look away from the lies and vanities the world is holding out to them, to be embraced as their portion: and that they may look unto the truth of God in Christ, in the promise of the gospel, by an eye of faith, trust, and confidence, fixed on it, and hold by that as their portion, their sure portion.

This is what men may do for the rising generation, and the view they should do it on : but God only can give it efficacy. No doubt Hezekiah did as he said, commended God, and made him known to Manasseh his son : but how unsuccessful all he did that way was, is notour from the wicked life his son led. Yet Hezekiah's work was accepted, and his prayers heard in the end ; and perhaps his words were minded too, in Manasseh's conversion at long run.

Three doctrines are deducible from the words.

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Doct. I. It is the peculiar mercy of life, that the living only are, and all along will be, those that have access to praise and glorify God in the world.

Doct. II. It is the special business and privilege of life, to propagate religion, God's name and praise, the standing generation to the rising generation, the fathers to the children, all aloug.

Doct. III. The true way of propagating religion, the standing to the rising generation, is, That the former make God known to the latter, so as they may betake themselves unto him, his truth and faithfulness, by faith and trust.

We shall handle each of these doctrines in order.

Doct. I. It is the peculiar mercy of life, that the living only are, and all along will be, those that have access to praise and glorify God in the world.

In prosecuting this doctrine, we shall,
I. Consider the praising or glorifying God in the world.

II. Shew how it is a valuable mercy and privilege of the living, that they have access to praise God in the world.

III. How this access to praise God in the world is and will be the peculiar mercy of the living.

IV. Lastly, Apply.

1. We shall consider the praising or glorifying God in the world. And here we shall shew,

1. What praising of God is.
2. What are the peculiarities of the praises of the living.

First, What praising of God is. It is the acknowledging and declaring of the glorious excellencies of God, as he has manifested himself in his word and works; and imports,

1. The belief of the being of God: Heb. xi. 6. “He that cometh to God, must believe that he is." Atheism wholly cuts off the the praises of God; for who can praise that which he does not believe to be? The works of creation and providence proclaim his being : but such is the natural enmity of man against God, and his addictedness to his lasts, that he secretly wisheth there were not a God, and so is disposed to believe so, if he could get any footing for it: Psalm xiv. 1, “ The fool bath said in his heart, There is no God :" and that is at the root of men's living to a contrary end to his praise. Tit. i. ult. “ They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate."

2. The knowledge of God. To whom he is an unknown God, he will be an unpraised God. Hence ignorance is ruining: Hos. iv. 6,

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