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fions. But this great disadvantage they have, all their hopes are but heaps of delusions and lies, and either they die and obtain them not, or if they obtain them, yet they obtain them not, they are so far short of what they fancied and imagined of them before-hand. But the hope of the children of God, as it is without fail sure, so it is inconceivably full and satisfying, far beyond what the largeft apprehension of any man is able to reach. Hope in God! what is wanting there?

This hope lodges only in the pure heart; it is a precious liquor that can only be kept in a clean vefsel, and that which is not so, cannot receive it; but what it seems to receive, it corrupts and destroys. It is a confidence arising from peace, agreement and friendship, which cannot be betwixt the God of purity, and those who allow unholiness in themselves. It is a strange impudence for men to talk of their trust and hope in God, who are in perfect hoftility against him; bold fellows go through dangers here, but it will not be so bereafter, Jer. ii. 27. They turn to ne the back and not the face ; yet, in their trouble, they fay, Arise and save us ; they do it as confidently as if they never had despised God; but they mistake the matter, it is not fo. Go and cry, says he, to the gods whom ye have chosen, Judg. X. 14. When men come to die, then they catch hold of the mercy of God; but from that their filthy hands are beat off, there is nó help for them there, and so they fall down to the pit. An holy fear of God, and a happy hope in him, are commonly linked together; Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear bim, upon them that hope in his mercy, Psal. xxxiii. 18.

And even in those who are more purified from fin, yet too large draughts of lawful pleasures do clog the fpirits, and make this hope grow exceeding weak; surely the more we fill ourselves with these things, we leave the less appetite for the consolations of this blessed hope. They cannot know the excellency of this hope, who labour not to keep it unmixed; it is best alone, as the richest wines and oils, which are the worse of mixtures. Be fober and hope, 1 Pet. i. 13.; keep your mind sober, and your hope shall be pure. Any thing or person that leans on two fupporters, whereof the one is whole and sound, and the other broken or crooked, that which is unfound breaks, though the other remain whole, and they fall; whereas the one that was whole had been sufficient : Thus it is, when we divide our hopes betwixt God and this present world, or any other good, those that place their whole hopes on God, they gather in all their desires to him ; the streams of their affections are not scattered and left in the muddy ditches of the world, they do not fall into sinking pools, but being gathered into one main torrent, they run on in that channel to the sea of his eternal goodness.

My hope is in thee.] We cannot choose but all of us think that God is immensely good in himself; but that which is nearer, whereon our hearts most rise, is a relative goodness, that he is good to us, and that he is so perfectly and completely good, that having made choice of him, and obtained union with him, we need no more. Were once the hearts of the children of men persuaded of this, all their deliberations were at an end, they would not only choose no other, but defer no longer to fix on him. And what can trouble the soul that is thus established ? No change or overturning of outward things; though the frame of the world itself were shaken to pieces, yet still the bottom of this hope is Him that changetb not: And whatever thy pressures be, poverty, fickness, or disquiet of mind, thou mayest draw abundant confolation from Him in whom thou hast placed thy hope. There is only one thing that cruelly affaults it by the way, and that is the guilt of fin. All afflictions and troubles we meet with are not able to mar this hope or quench it; for where it is strong, it either breaks through them, or flies above them :

They They cannot overcome it, for there is no affliction inconfistent with the love of God, yea, the sharpeft affliction may sometimes have the cleareft characters of his love upon it; but it is sin that presents him as angry to the view of the soul. When he looks through that cloud, he seems to be an enemy; and when we apprehend him in that aspect, we are affrighted, and presently apprehend a storm; but even in this case, this hope apprehends his mercy. And thus David here,


Ver. 8. Deliver me from all my transgreffons ; make

me not the reproach of the foolish.

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THIS is indeed the basis and foundation of all

our other hopes, the free pardon of our fins; but none must entertain these fins, if they desire to be pardoned. Repentance and remission of fins are still linked together in the Scriptures; and he that would have fin pardoned, and yet live in it, or retain the love of it, would have God and fin reconciled together, and that can never be. David finds his fins pressing him down; he sees them as an army of men set in battle array about him; and whither flies he for a deliverance ? even to Him whom he had of. fended.

Ver. 10, 11. Remove thy stroke away from me ; I am consumed by the blow of thine hand. When thou with rebukes doft correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: Surely every man is vanity. Selah.] We are naturally very partial judges of ourselves; and, as if we were not sufficiently able by nature, we study and devise by art to deceive ourselves. We are ready to reckon any good that is in us to the full, nay, to multiply it beyond what it is; and yet to help this, we use commonly


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to look on those who have less goodness in them, who are weaker, more foolish and worse than ourselves; and so we magnify the sense of our own worth and goodness by that comparison. And as in the goodness we have, or imagine we have, so likewise in the cvils we suffer, we use to extol them very much in conceit. We account our lightest afflictions very great; and to heighten our thoughts of them, we do readily take a view of those who are more at ease, and less afflicted than ourselves; and, by these devices, we nourish in ourselves pride, by the overweaning conceit of our goodness; and impatience, by the over-feeling sense of our evils. But if we would help ourselves by comparison, we should do well to view these persons who are, or have been, eminent for holiness, recorded in holy writ, or whom we know in our own times, or have heard of in former; and by this means we should lefsen the great opinion we have of our own worth; and so likewise should we consider the many instances of great calamities and sorrows, which would tend to quiet our minds, and enable us to poless our souls in patience, under the little burden of trials that lies upon us : And, especially, we shall find those instances to fall in together, that as persons have been very eminent in holiness, they have also been eminent in suffering very sore strokes and sharp scourges from the hand of God. If we would think on their consuming blows and broken bones, their bones burnt as an bearth, and their fies witbered as grass ; certainly we should entertain our thoughts sometimes with wonder of God's indulgence to us, that we are so little afflicted, when so many of the children of men, and so many of the children of God, suffer so many and so hard things ; and this would very much add to the stock of our praises. We should not think that we are more innocent in not deserving these things that are inflicted on others, but rather, that He who thus measures out to them and to us, knows our size, and sees how weak


we are in comparison of them; and that therefore he is indulgent to us, not because we are better, but because we are weaker, and are not able to bear so much as he lays on the stronger shoulders. Even in the sharpest of these rods there is mercy. It is a privilege to the sheep that is ready to wander, to be beaten into the right way. When thou art corrected, think that thereby thy fins are to be purged out, thy pafsions and lufts to be crucified by these pains; and certainly he that finds any cure of the evils of his fpirit by the hardest sufferings of his flesh, gets a very gainful bargain. If thou account fin thy greatest unhappiness and mischief, thou wilt be glad to have it removed on any terms. There is at least in the time of affliction a cessation from some fins; the raging luft of ambition and pride do cease, when a man is laid upon his back; and these very cessations are some advantages. But there is one great benefit of affliction, which follows in the text, that it gives him the true measure of himself.

When with rebukes thou dost correct man, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: Surely every man is vanity. Selah.] Man at bis best estate is altogether vanity ; but at his lowest estate it appears best unto him, how much vanity he is, and how much vanity he was at his best estate, seeing he was then capable of such a change, to fall fo low from such a height. As that great man who was seeking new conquests, when he fell upon the sand, and saw the print of his own body, “Why, says be, so small a « parcel of earth will serve me, who am seeking af“ ter new kingdoms.” Thus it is, when a man is brought down, then he hath the right measure of himself, when he sees how vain a thing he is.

Thus the Pfalmift represents it here, both as an argument to move God to compassion, and to instruct himself and other men. So Job xiii. 25. Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro with the wind? and wilt thou pursue dry stubble? Psal. ciii, 14. For be


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