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2. For encouragement
(We know not what dark seasons we may yet experience in this world. But we are sure that they who trust in the Lord shall never be confounded. God has promised that our extremity shall be his opportunity. He does indeed sometimes bring his people into straits on purpose that he may be the more magnified in their deliverance. If then the vision tarry ever so long, let us wait for it, in certain expectation that it shall come at last.d
Let us trust in God even though our difficulties should increase to ever so great a degree:e yea, in humble dependence on his promise, let us say, Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.f7
b Deut. xxxii. 36. c Mic. iv. 10. Exod. xiv, 10-14. Isai. li. 10. d Hab. ii. 3.
e Hab. iii. 17, 18. f Job xiii. 15.
CCCXXXIV. GOD'S MERCY CONTRASTED WITH
Jer. li. 5. Israel hath not been forsaken, nor fudah of his God,
of the Lord of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.
THE peculiar people of God in their most afflictive circumstances have a sure prospect of a happy deliverance-But his enemies in their most prosperous state are only like beasts fattening for the slaughter – The Jews were reduced to the lowest ebb of misery in Babylon, on account of their multiplied iniquities: yet did God promise to restore them to their native land-On the contrary, the Babylonians, who were exalted to the highest pitch of grandeur, were in due time to be altogether extirpated-Both these events were foretold by the Prophet in this and the preceding chapters: and, in the text, he appeals to the Jews that they had not been forsaken, notwithstanding the abundant cause they had afforded for an utter dereliction
From these words we shall take occasion to consider I. The provocations we have given to God 1. In our national capacity [All'“ sin," of whatever kind, is properly and primarily
$ against the Holy One of Israel”a-Now there is no sin, whether against the first or second table of the law, which has not abounded in this land -Nor is there any rank or order of men, from the highest to the lowest, that have not yielded up themselves as willing servants to sin and Satan --Even the flock of Christ itself, both the Pastors who watch over it, and the people who compose it, have contributed in no small degree to the tremendous mass of iniquity, that has incensed our God against us---]
2. In our individual capacity · [Since a sight of other's sins rarely begets any true humiliation in us, let each of us in particular search out his ownLet our thoughts, words, and actions be strictly scrutinized Let those sins which are more immediately against God, beenquired into; our pride, our impenitence, our unbelief, our ingratitude for temporal blessings, and especially for the unspeakable gift of God's dear Son; our obstinate resistance of God's holy Spirit, together with all our neglect of duties, or our coldness in the performance of them; let these be counted up, and be set in order before us; and the very best of men will see cause for the deepest humiliation; yea, we shall wonder that we have not long since been made like to Sodom and Gomorrah-]
Having taken a view of our sins, let us contrast with them II. The mercies God has vouchsafed to us
Justly have we deserved to be entirely abandoned by our God
[The history of the Jews shews us what we might well expect at his hands-He himself bids us go to Shiloh, and see what he did to it for the wickedness of his people'-Indeed the whole of his dealings with them in their Assyrian and Babylonish captivity, and in their present dispersion, may teach us what we might well expect at his hands---] But he has not dealt with us according to our desert
[He has “not forsaken us” as a nation--In proof of this, we appeal to the comparative lightness of our troubles,--the signal interpositions with which we have been favoured in the midst of our troubles, and lastly, the happy termination of them, by a seasonable restoration both of peace and plenty.
Nor has he forsaken us as individuals-He is vet calling us by his word, and striving with us by his Spirit And we behold amongst us the evident tokens of his presence, in that
sinners are yet awakened to repentance, and saints are edified in faith and love.] ADDRESS
1. Let the long-suffering of God be gratefully acknow. ledged
[We should “ account the long-suffering of God to be salvation."d Let us not, however, rest in carnal mirth; but let his temporal mercies to our land, and his spiritual mercies to our souls, call forth our liveliest gratitude and our deyoutest praise ] 2. Let it also be practically improved
[In the words immediately following our text, the Pro. phet says, “Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his own soul.” It was the duty of the Jews to cast off their bondage as soon as God should open a way for their escape. Thus must we also cast off the servitude in which we have been detained, and go forth from amongst all the enemies of God If we continue in sin, we must take our portion with the ungodly–But if we give up ourselves unreservedly to God, he will blot out our past iniquities in the blood of his Son, and make us partakers of an everlasting salvation-]
d. Pet. iii. 15.
CCCXXXV. THE DUTY AND GROUNDS OF PRAISE,
Ps. cvii. 8, 9. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his
goodness, and for his wonderful works unto the children of men! for he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.
AMONG the various graces which characterize the true Christian, that of gratitude to God is very conspicuous, Others indeed will confess their obligations to the Supreme Being; but none are duly sensible of them, till they have been renewed by the Holy Spirit. When once we have " tasted that the Lord is gracious," and been impressed with a sense of redeeming love, we shall view the goodness of God in all his dispensations; and, not only glorify him ourselves, but earnestly desire that all should render him the honour due unto his name, This disposition was eminently displayed in David, when he penned the Psalm before us. No less than four times does he repeat the fervent wish; that men would praise the Lord: and at each time does he suggest the most ample grounds for the performance of that duty.
From his words we shall take occasion to consider I. The duty of praising God
Wherever a superior being is acknowledged, there a tribute of prayer and praise is considered as due to him. The light of revelation confirms this general sentiment; and expressly inculcates thanksgiving to God as an universal and indispensable duty. The manner in which the Psalmist urges us to praise our heavenly Benefactor, deserves peculiar attention: it speaks more forcibly than the strongest injunction could have done; and intimates that praise is
1. An important duty
(There is not any precept in the Bible more plain than those which relate to this subjecta ---There is not any duty, the neglect of which is represented in a more heinous lightb_- _On the other hand, there is not any religious act of which more honourable mention is made than this
Nor any to which, if accompanied with a suitable deportment, more exalted privileges are annexed --Hence it is that thirteen times in the space of six short verses David renews his exhortations to every living creature to praise the Lord.e] 2. A delightful duty
[Praise necessarily presupposes an elevated state of mind: in fact, it is only the external expression whereby a soul, filled with admiration and gratitude, gives vent to its feelings. It is an exercise of which the glorified saints and angels are never weary;f and in which we enjoy a foretaste of heaven itself -Words can scarcely convey a more sublime idea of this employment, than those by which. David describes its effects upon the soul"----In this view he strongly recommends it to us, and we may also recommend it to each other, as “ good, pleasant, and comely.”]
a i Thess. v. 18. Eph. v. 20.
b It is the strongest mark of an ungodly state, Rom. i. 21. and a certain ground of eternal condemation. Deut. xxviii. 45, 47.
c It glorifies God, Ps. 1. 23. d Ib. 1 e Ps. cl. fRev. iv. 8, 9.
61 Pet. i. 8. colpã decoo répa. h Ps. Ixiii. 5.
iPs. cxlvii. i.
3. A much neglected duty
[The generality of men, instead of acknowledging with gratitude God's kindness towards them, and requiting him according to the benefits he has vouchsafed to them, take occasion from his mercies to sin the more against him-- Not even the godly themselves abound in this holy employment as we might expect. Many, alas! live at so great a distance from God, that they can scarcely ever rise above a petition for mercy, or, at most, a sense of thankfulness that he has not utterly cast them off. They cannot soar to a contemplation of the divine perfections, or of the excellency of Christ, or of the blessedness of those mansions that are prepared for them. They have so much of the world in their hearts, and so little faith, that they cannot realize their principles, or glorify God in any measure as they ought. Instead of cultivating the devout spirit of David,k they rest satisfied in a lukewarm state, saying, “ It is high; I cannot attain unto it.” Yes; though there are some who delight themselves in God, yet in reference to the greater part even of real Christians we must say with sorrow and regret, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and according to his excellent greatness!”m]
To stir up ourselves to a due performance of this duty, let us consider II. The grounds and reasons of it
There is nothing that may not in some view or other be made a ground of praise and thanksgiving. In the text we are led to notice 1. The blessings of God's providence
[The goodness of God as manifested in the wonderful dispensations of his providence, deserves our most attentive consideration. How bountifully does he supply the returning wants of his creatures even while they are continuing in rebellion against him! How marvellously has he preserved us in life from our earliest infancy to this day, and kept in tune, as it were, in the midst of continual shocks and dangers, an instrument of ten thousand strings! With what kindness has he restrained the evil dispositions of men, which, if suffered to rage without controul, would produce a very hell upon earth!n As for the godly, they would soon be extirpated from the face of the earth, if the sons of Belial were permitted to execute all that is in their hearts. And who amongst us would
k Ps. Ixiii. 3, 4, and cxix. 164. Ps. cxxxix. 6. m Ps. cl. ii.
n In proof of this we need only look back to the slaughters and massacres, the rapes and ravages, and all the other horrors of the French revolution,