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vastness of purity and spirituality. But you will say, “There is a set number of precepts; how say you then, it is exceeding broad?' Their use is large; and it is here put for the whole word of God: Adoro plenitudinem Scripturarum tuarum, saith Tertullian. Here are remedies for every malady, and a plentiful storehouse of all comforts; satisfaction to every doubt; nothing pertaining to the holiness and happiness of man is wanting; nothing more, requisite to direct, comfort, and support men in all conditions, prosperity, adversity, health, sickness, life, death. What shall I say? It is the word that sanctifies all our comforts (1 Tim. iv. 5); it is the word that maintaineth our lives (Matt. iv. 4); it is the word that fitteth us to an immortal being (1 Peter i. 23). We cannot easily express the comprehensiveness of it, and the benefit that we have by it. When all earthly things fail, the word will be a sure comforter and counsellor to us; it doth not only tell us what we should do, but what we shall be. In short, the word of God describeth the whole state of the church, and the world, and what shall become of it in the world to come. There is a foolish curiosity that possesseth many in the world, who desire to know their destiny, and what is in the womb of futurity; as the king of Babylon stood upon the headways, to make divination. Now, let this curiosity be turned to some profitable use; nothing deserves to be known so much as this, what shall become of us to all eternity. If the question were, “Shall I be rich or poor, bappy or miserable, in this world?' it were not of such great moment; for these distinctions do not outlive time; but the question is of great mo. ment, 'Whether I shall be eternally miserable, or eternally happy?' It is a foolish curiosity to know our earthly state, the misery of which cannot be prevented by our prudence or foresight; but it concerneth much to know whether we are in a damnable or saveable condition, while we have time to remedy our case; and this the word of God will inform you of assuredly. Well, the commandment is exceeding broad. This is the word that discovereth to you the nature of God, and the holy angels, the souls of men, the state of the world to come. Who is the author of Scripture? God, “ thy commandment;" the matter of Scripture? God; it was not fit that any should write of God, but God himself. What is the end of this word? God. Why was this word written, but that we might everlastingly enjoy the blessed God? As Cæsar wrote his own Commentaries; so God, when there was none above him of whom he could write, he wrote of himself; by histories, laws, prophecies, and promises, and many other doctrines, hath he set himself forth to be the Creator, preserver, deliverer, and glorifier of mankind; and all this is done in a perfect manner. Men mingle their imperfections with their writings; though holy and laudable for their aims, yet they discover themselves in all they do; their words and speeches are never so perfect, but there is something wanting: but here you can find nothing but God; here God hath written a book whose words are perfect; nothing can be added, nothing taken away. To say there is an idle word in Scripture, is great blasphemy, saith Basil. We have no reason to run to human inventions; for the word prescribeth every duty, everything that is to be believed and done in order to salvation. Open the gap once, and there is no end; one brings in one thing, and then another; and from hence come all the ceremonies that do abound in the church. It is not only most perfect, but most profitable, and containeth all kind of learning. Common crafts will teach us how to get our bread, but this, how to get the kingdom
of Heaven. Law preserveth estates, the testament of men; this, the testament of God, the charter of our inheritance. Physic cureth diseases of the body; this, afflicted minds and distempered hearts. Natural philosophy raiseth men to the contemplation of the stars, but this to the contemplation of God their maker. By history, we come to know of the rise and ruin of kingdoms, states, and cities; by this, the creation and consummation of the world. Rhetoric serves to move affection; this, to kindle Divine love. Poetry causeth natural delight; this, delight in God. No writing like this.
(2.) As it hath a breadth for use, so for duration and continuance; it is the eternal truth of God, that shall live for ever : “ Till Heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law” (Matt. v. 18). So, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matt. xxiv. 35). But how doth the word continue for ever? Not the word itself, but
(i.) The obligation and authority of the word continueth for ever: it is an eternal rule of faith and righteousness to the church, that is more stable than Heaven and earth. Let me show you how the doctrine is perpetual.
The original draft is in God himself; the substance and matter of the moral law is perpetual; namely, the perfect love of God and of our neighbour; but the form is not: we shall have no need of precepts, and prohibitions, and promises, and threatenings, in the light of glory, which we have need of in the light of grace. Fierce horses need a bridle; and there is other kind of discipline for children when grown up than when young. When they are young, we correct their bodies; but, when they are grown up, we correct and punish them by disinheritance. The prop is removed, when the thing standeth fast upon its own basis. When we come to Heaven, we have intuitive apprehensive knowledge; we shall have no other Bible but the Lamb's face : many things that are necessary by the way, are not necessary when faith is changed into vision, and hope into fruition. Scripture is necessary, as letters to the spouse from her beloved while absent; when present, there is no need. We need not a bond when payment is made : so Scripture is the indenture between us and God here; but, when that is past, we shall not need Scripture.
(ii.) It is eternal in the fruit; it bringeth forth the blessing of eternal life, to them that keep it and obey it : “ For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever" (2 John 2). So, “If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death” (John viii. 51). Why, holy men die as well as others; but they have a being in the world to come; and therefore the word of God is called the word of eternal life (John vi. 68): that is the end and use of it, it maketh them capable of eternal life that obey it. So, “ The word of the Lord endureth for ever” (1 Peter i. 25). It is the seed and principle of eternal life, it is the charter of their everlasting privileges they shall enjoy in the world to come. But how doth the word endure for ever: It is not meant subjectively, but effectively, because it assures us of eternal life upon obeying it, and threatens eternal death to all that reject it.
Use I.-Oh! then, let us be much in hearing, reading, studying, and obeying this word, that makes us everlastingly happy! If the command. ment be so exceeding broad, why do we make no more use of it?
1. Let our hearts be more taken up about it : that should be our main
care, wherein to busy ourselves day and night (Psalm 1. 1). Our delight should not be in vain books and empty histories, but in the law of God; we should often look into the charter of our great hopes.
2. Be directed by the word of God; it will direct you in every business : “ Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm cxix. 105). Here is direction for you in prosperity and adversity.
3. Study it, that you may be sanctified by it: * Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth” (John xvii. 17). This is the great benefit that we have by the word; it is the instrument of sanctification.
4. Be much in the study of the word, that you may be assured by it, that you may make out your own qualification to the kingdom of Heaven : “ Seeing ye put it [the word of God] from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life” (Acts xiii. 46). When you let God's book lie by neglected, and never hear it, nor read it, nor meditate on it, the thing is past all question, you judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life.
Use II.-Let this commend the word of God to us, that eternal life is in it. Other writings and discourses may tickle the ears with some pleasing eloquence; but that is vanishing, like a musician's voice: other writings may represent some petty and inomentary advantage ; but how soon shall an end be put to all that! so that, within a little time, the advantage of all these books shall be gone. The statutes and laws of kings and parliaments can reach no further than some temporal reward or punishment: their highest pain is killing of the body, their highest reward is some vanishing and fading honour, or perishing riches; but God's word concerneth our everlasting estate, our eternal well or ill being. Eternal life and death are wrapped up in these laws and commandments; these are rewards and punishments suitable to the eternal majesty of the lawgiver. Here is life and immortality brought to light, and offered to them who have so miserably lost it, and involved their souls in an eternal death : therefore, let us have a precious esteem of the Scripture, which shows us the way of escaping that misery into which we have plunged ourselves, and a way of obtaining eternal blessedness. Do not, then, go to a wrong guide and rule; nothing more necessary to be known than what our end is, and the way that leadeth to that end. The most part of men walk at random, and run an uncertain race: they have neither a certain scope, nor a sure way. Men's particular inclinations and humours are an ill guide; for they incline us to please the flesh, and so we shall miss of everlasting blessedness, and wander in a by-path that leadeth to destruction. Naturally, man is more addicted to temporal things than spiritual ; and to worldly vanities, than to spiritual enjoyments; and it is in vain to persuade men to look after better things, till the carnal affections be mortified ; and one way and great means to mortify carnal affections and inclinations, is to consider the vanity of the creature; and, when our affections are weaned from the world, we must look after some better things to set our hearts upon. That good which satisfieth all the desires and capacities of man, had need to be an infinite and an eternal good. Now, these better things are discovered only in the word of God; the word of God discovers that there is such an estate as everlasting glory and blessedness. The word telleth us plainly and peremptorily, who shall go to Heaven and who to Hell. Well then, if you would have this comfort, you must see whether you have embraced it with that reverence, faith, and obedience, which the importance of it doth require.
SERMON CI. VERSE 97.-Oh! how love I thy law! it is my meditation all
the day. In this psalm you have a perfect character of a regenerate man, what he is and what he ought to be, in his meditations, his exercises, bis affections; and all this recommended to us from the frame of David's heart and example, and course of his way. Men of spiritual experience, can best judge of these affections ; for, as face answereth face in a glass, so doth the heart of one believer to another.
In these words you have, ). His love asserted. 2. Demonstrated from the effect.
1. His love asserted, “Oh! how love I thy law !”. 2. Demonstrated from the effect of it, “ It is my meditation all the day."
This is an effect; for we are wont to muse upon what we love; therefore David loving the law of God, is always thinking of it.
First, For the assertion. Observe the matter asserted, and the vehe. mency of the assertion. The matter asserted is love to the law. The vehemency of the assertion, “Oh, how love I thy law!" It is an admiration, with an exclamation. David is not contented with a naked affirmation, I love thy law; but useth a pathetical protestation of it, How love I thy law! The exclamation expresseth wonder, How I love thy law! And the interjection, Oh! how, that gives vent to strong affection; as if he had said, “It is more than I am able to express.' The law is taken for the whole Scripture, as often in this psalm.
Secondly, For the demonstration of this affection, “ It is my meditation all the day;" that is, I do often meditate thereof, and can spend whole days therein. The words may signify frequency of such thoughts; they were not such as did come now and then, but all the day his heart was working on holy things, as the blessed man is described (Psalm i. 2); that is, every day he is working something out of the word of God. Or, “It is my meditation all the day," it may note the depth and ponderousness of these thoughts; his mind did not run out upon the law with flighty sallies, but he had such thoughts as were solid and serious, and did abide with him.
The points from hence are two :
1. That God's people have a great love to his word; yea, such a hearty affection as cannot easily be expressed.
2. They that love the word, will be meditating therein continually: “It is my meditation all the day.”
DOCTRINE I.—That God's people have a great love to his word; yea, such a hearty affection as cannot easily be expressed.
I will evidence that by two considerations :-1. The word deserves this love. 2. The saints are ready to yield it.
First, The word deserves it, in respect of the author, the matter, and the use; in all these respects, is the word of God lovely.
Ist, For the author: it is God's word, and they love it for the author's sake; the signification of his mind, as a letter from a beloved friend is very welcome to us. Aristotle, in his Rhetoric, mentioning the cause of delight, saith thus, They that love much, when they are speaking of what they love, or when they love, or when they hear anything of the party beloved, or receive anything from them, it is a mighty delight and pleasure to them. So it is in this spiritual love: the word is God's epistle and love-letter to our souls; therefore, for his sake, it is the more welcome to us. And upon this ground God complains of it, that, when he had written the great things of his law to a people, they were neglected and slighted, and counted a strange thing (Hos. viii. 12). “ I have written;" God is the author, whosoever is the penman. The Scriptures are a writing from him to us. Now, for us to be strangers to it, and little conversant about it, argues some contempt of God; as to slight a letter of a friend, shows little esteem of the writer. Oh! the saints, they put it into their bosoms, and it gains upon their hearts. Why, it is God's epistle, it is my best friend's letter. This is certain, love God, and you love his law; for the author's sake, it will be dear and precious to you.
2ndly, The saints have such a strong love to the word of God, because of the matter in it revealed; for it hath all the properties of a thing to be beloved; it is true, good, profound, and full of depth and mysteries. What would you desire in a doctrine to draw your hearts to it? Truth, goodness, and profoundness of knowledge.
). If certainty of truth will draw love, it is to be found in the Holy Scriptures; for they are vouched by God himself to be true: “The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether” (Psalm xix. 9). And the Gospel is called the word of truth: “ After that ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation" (Eph. i. 13); and, “Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth” (John xvii. 17). To improve these places thus :—Truth is the good of the understanding, and without the knowledge of which we can have no tranquillity of mind. Now, of all truths, this is the chiefest: it is not human, natural, or inferior truth; but a supreme, Divine truth, ratified by God's authority, such as nature could never have found out, yea, such a truth as carries its own evidence with it, shows how it comes from God, and discovers itself to be of God. As the sun is seen by its own beams, so the word of God needs no other testimony than itself, to commend itself to the consciences of men. Certainly, it is such a truth as doth sufficiently evidence itself to be of God. All God's works discover their author, and carry about with them their own demonstration; not only his greater works, upon which he hath impressed most of his wisdom and power, but even his lesser works; every worm and pile of grass shows who made it. To an attentive and discerning eye, a man cannot look upon a worm, or consider a gnat, or any contemptible creature, but he shall see this was made by a wise God: God hath left his stamp upon every one of his works, and certainly upon his word much more; for he hath magnified his word above all his name (Psalm cxxxviii. 2). There is a more clear discovery of the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, than can be in any of his works; for upon this he hath laid forth all the riches of his wisdom and goodness. Therefore, if there be in all creatures and works of God, a self-evidencing light to discover their author, and that invisible Godhead and power by which they were made, certainly there is somewhat in the word of God to discover its author, because of this objective evidence which it hath in itself; it is more sure than an oracle, or voice from Heaven: “ We have also a more sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter i. 19); more sure than what? than that voice which he heard from Heaven, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This was a confirmation indeed, you will think; and