« FöregåendeFortsätt »
you. When I tell you, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord with comfort, and that you must break off from your vain company and evil practices, if you expect or desire to be saved, you know that I speak the truth; and your looks often testify that you feel the force of it. Now, while the word of God is sounding in your ears, you perhaps are thinking, “ It is time,
high time indeed, to break off; though the Lord has “ forborn me long, he will surely strike at last, if I go
on thus.” And yet, alas! what I have formerly seen gives me much cause to fear, that to-morrow, or the next time they entice you, you will consent again. But could I tell you, that by going a different way you might gain a sum of money; or could I make it appear, that the next time you went to such a place your house would . certainly be robbed, I make no doubt but you would forbear. And yet gold is not grace. It is then plain, that you have power, but your will is in fault. God has enlightened your conscience; but you rebel against it. O repent, while there is yet space afforded. Call upon the name of Jesus ; who knows but he may even yet deliver you!
2dly, He compares it to a dead carcase, which is not only unprofitable, but loathsome and offensive. May God show you to-day, how odious your profession is in his sight! for by assenting to the truths of the Gospel, and outwardly favouring the cause, and the instruments whom the Lord has raised up to promote it, you are so far professors. May he enable you to be not only almost, but altogether Christians! for while you thus halt between two opinions, and stand divided between God and the world, you are an abomination to God, a grief to his people, a stumbling-block to the ignorant, and are (if this was of any weight in compa
rison of what I have already said) secretly despised by those who pretend to court your acquaintance. Your guilt is in some respects more aggravated, and your example unspeakably more mischievous, than either would be if
you openly rejected the truth. You stand in the rank of those wicked servants who know their master's will, but do it not. The great Judge has determined concerning these, that they shall be beaten with many stripes*. Awake to righteousness, and sin not;
, look up to Jesus, who is exalted to bestow both faith and repentance, that you may no longer be torn in pieces by those inward contentions, but experience that peace which passes all understandingt.
GUILT REMOVED, AND PEACE RESTORED.
PSALM li. 15. O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth
thy praise. THE history of David is full of instruction. Every thing recorded of him affords us either consolation or caution. In his example, we see much of the sovereign power and providence of God. When a youth, though the least of his father's house, he was singled out, and called from following sheep, to rule a kingdom. We see him supported through a variety of difficulties, and at length established in his throne, to the amazement
and confusion of his enemies. In him likewise we have a striking proof of the evil that is in the heart of man. Who would have thought it, that David, the man so highly favoured, so wonderfully preserved, the man after God's own heart, who in the time of his distress
My soul thirsteth for God, even for the “ living God *;" that he should be in an unguarded hour seduced, surprised, and led captive of the devil ! From gazing he proceeds to adultery, from adultery to murder, and at length sinks into such a stupid frame of mind, that an express message from God was needful to convince himn of his sin. And in this circumstance we farther see the riches of divine
how tenderly the Lord watches over his sheep, how carefully he brings them back when wandering from him, and with what rich goodness he heals their backslidings, and loves them freely, David avàs fallen, but not lost. “ The thing which he had done, displeased the Lord t." Yet his loving kindness and faithfulness were unalterable. He was interested in that covenant, “ which is “ well ordered in all things and sure $;" and therefore, when he confessed his sin, the Lord assured him, by his servant Nathan, that “ he had put away his sin, “ and he should not die for it g.
However, though the Lord is thus gracious in passing by the iniquity of his children, yet he will let them know, by sorrowful experience, that “ it is an evil and a “ bitter thing to sin against him ||." Though he will not cast off, he will chasten; he will withdraw his presence, and suspend his gracious influences; and this to a sensible heart is a heavy punishment. Though David was
I 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.
* Psal. xlii. 2.
+ 2 Sam. xi. 27.
delivered from the fear of death and hell, he penned this psalm in the bitterness of his soul. He did not consider the Lord as his enemy, but as a friend and father, whom he had greatly offended. He longed to be reconciled; but could not as yet recover his former confidence. He hoped, indeed, that a time of refreshment would come from his presence; and therefore he continued waiting; but for the present he made heavy complaints, that his bones were broken, and his mouth stopped. He had lost his strength and life, and found he could not restore himself. He was struck dumb by his late fall; and therefore he breathes out this
"O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show “ forth thy praise."
From these words I propose to consider that mournful case, which too often happens in the Christian life, when the believer's mouth is stopped, and his lips closed, so that he cannot show forth the praises of his God. And in this view,
1. I shall point out to you the persons who have reason to make this complaint.
2. Explain what is implied in their lips being thus
3. Show you by whạt means the Lord opens the closed lips. And,
4. I shall observe, that when a person's lips are thus opened, his mouth, and all that is within him, will certainly show forth the Lord's praise. May the Holy Spirit apply the word, and command a blessing upon the whole !
I. This petition especially suits two sorts of persons.
1. The backsliding believer; one who has formerly known the goodness of God; has rested in his love, and rejoiced in his salvation ; " has tasted that the “ Lord is gracious "," and walked with comfort in the way of his commandments; but at length, by an unguarded conduct, or by building wood, hay, and stubble, upon the Lord's foundationt, has grieved the good Spirit of God, and he is withdrawn. The comforter and instructor of his soul is far from him; and therefore he sits in darkness and silence. He only retains a sense of his loss, and can do no more than sigh out this prayer : “() Lord, open thou my lips.”
2. The doubting believer. The unbelieving believer, if I may be allowed the expression, I mean one who has been deeply convinced of sin, and taught by the Spirit of God, that there is no salvation but in the Lord Jesus Christ. One who loves the word, and ways, and people of God, who is careful to the utmost of his power to abstain from the evil that is in the world, and esteems “the loving kindness of the Lord to be better than “ life g.” One at whom the enemy has often thrust sore that he might fall ||, but the Lord has secretly upheld him through many a bitter hour, and he finds he is not cut off yet, though he perhaps expects it every day. Such as these have, indeed, sufficient ground to say, “ If the Lord was not on my side, I had been swal. " lowed up long ago * They have reason to conclude with David, “ By this, if by nothing else, I know that “thou favourest me, seeing my enemies, who have as“saulted me so continually, have not yet prevailed against mett." But yet, through a sense of past guilt
, a sight of present corruptions, the prevalence of unbelief, the workings of a legal spirit, the want of a clear
1 Pet. ii. 3. Psal. Ixiii. 3. # Psal. xli. 11.
+1 Cor. iii. 11-13,
Psal. cxviii, 13.
Lam, i. 16,
Psal. cxxiv. 3,