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into captivity to Christ (2 Cor. x. 5); and then, as it is obstinate, the power of the word breaks the force of our lusts.
(3.) For comforting and binding up the broken-hearted. Human wisdom and eloquence can do nothing to purpose this way; but, when God by the word reveals to a man his righteousness, then “his flesh shall be fresher than a child's, he shall return to the days of his youth” (Job xxxii. 25). Though a man before did walk up and down as a ghost, was, as it were, a walking skeleton, and his marrow was sucked out of his bones by the terrors of the Lord that were upon him; yet, when he hath God's word to show, under God's hand, for his pardon, this brings his comfort, his flesh shall revive, he shall return fresher than a child, and shall return to the days of his youth; his strength, joy, and comfort shall come again; therefore, oh! how they love the law, because they have felt in their heart it must be God's word! for that which wounds, must also heal.
3. To make us perfect, as well as to begin the work. 2 Tim. iii. 17, it is said the word of God is able to make the man of God “perfect, throughly furnished to all good works;" so that, in this perfection, there are three uses for which the word serves :
(1.) For building up in faith, or increasing in internal grace. The word of God is not only for novices, but for grown persons, that there may be a continual dropping into the lamps, as it was in the vision of Zechariah : “I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts xx. 32). It is not enough to lay a foundation, but there must be a building up. Now, what is that which builds us up? “The word of his grace;" that is, God's blessing upon the reading and hearing the word; for the Apostle speaks it when he was taking leave of the Ephesians, “ I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace;" that is, the word of grace sent among them, by their ordinary officers continued to them, blessing the reading and hearing the word by their ordinary officers; there would be no need of Paul, the room should be supplied. Habits of grace must still be maintained by fresh influences; and they always come into us by the word of God; therefore, after we are converted and born again, the word is useful, that we may grow thereby (1 Peter i. 2).
(2.) To direct our practice, that is one use the word serves for ; so it is said, “ We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place” (2 Peter i. 19). In this state of ignorance wherein we are (for that is figured by those words, “in a dark place”), sure it is a great blessing to have a light shining to us, that we may not wander, and fall into the snares wherewith we are encompassed. We are apt to forget and mistake our way; we are very forgetful, and our way is narrow, hardly found and hardly kept; and Satan is full of wiles and deceits, like an ignis fatuus, ready to lead us out of the way; therefore we had need have a sure guide and a sure light: “ Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm cxix. 105). It is a light; not only to our paths, for the choice of our general way; but for all our steps, to direct us in all our ways.
(3.) To comfort us in all conditions, under our crosses, confusions, and difficulties; we have all from the word of God: “This is my comfort in my affliction; for thy word hath quickened me” (Psalm cxix. 50). Oh! when a child of God is even dead, and hath many damps and discouragements upon his heart, when he goes to the word, there he hath quickening, reviving, and is encouraged to wait upon God again. All our discomfort comes from forgetting what God hath spoken in his word : “ Ye have for. gotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children” (Heb. xii. 5). There is abundant consolation in the word; but we forget it, and do not carry it always in our mind; and then we lie under much dejection of heart: if we do not study it, discomfort will come upon us. In the word, there is a remedy for every malady, and an ease for every smart ; and therefore this is that which makes it precious to the children of God.
Secondly, The saints readily yield this love to the word. Why?
1. Because their hearts are suited to the word. The word is every way suited to the sanctified nature, and the sanctified nature suited to it; for that which is written in God's book, is written over again upon their hearts by the finger of the Spirit. While we are in our natural state, there is an enmity to the law of God; for we are not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be (Rom. viii. 7). Ay; but, wben they come to be written upon the heart and mind, then our affections are suited to the word. Carnal men do not love the word; why? Because it was contrary to them, as Micaiah to Ahab, "He prophesieth nothing but evil to me:' it only rubs their sores, and discovers their spots to them, and that is grievous; and proud spirits think it to be a simple, plain doctrine. Worldly spirits love it not; for it draweth them off wholly to think of things to come; but they whose hearts are suited to it, they have a mighty love to it.
2. They have tasted the goodness of the word, therefore they love it: “ As new-born babes, desire the sincere milk of the word :" why ? “ If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter ï. 2,3); if you have felt any benefit. “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart” (Jer. xv. 16). When they come to taste, digest, and have experience of the benefit, in comforting, changing, supporting their own hearts, then they love the word of God that hath been the instrument of it. He hath begotten us “by the word of truth;" then what follows? “Be swift to hear” (James i. 18, 19). If a man be begotten, if he hath felt the benefit of the word, then he will be taking all occasions to delight himself, and refresh his soul, in the word of God, in reading, hearing, meditating, because he hath found sensible benefit.
Use I.-To shame and humble us, that we are so cold in our love. It is an admirable and an incredible affection David here speaks of. Consider who it was that speaks thus: David, he that was encumbered with the em. ployments of a kingdom, he that had so many courtly pleasures, so many great businesses, to divert and draw him aside; yet all his employment could not withhold him from delighting himself in the word of God. It was David, that was a king; and mark how he doth express himself: he doth not say, 'I endeavour to keep thy word,' but I love thy word.' Nay, he saith more; he speaks of it as a thing he could not express, “How love I thy law!" No great wonder that we cannot express the excellency of the word; but that our affections, which are so finite, that these should not be expressed, this is wonderful. Then he speaks of it with exclamation too: “Oh! how love I thy law !” and he speaks this to God: the Septuagint read it, 'Lord, how have I loved thy law! He makes God himself to be judge, not only of the truth of his love (as Peter makes Christ the judge of the truth of his love, “I have many failings, I have fallen foully of late; but, “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee”'), but he makes God the judge of the strength of his love, Lord,, how do I love thy law!' Have we anything answerable ? Heart should answer heart. Are there such affections wrought in us, as David expresseth to be in himself? This should shame us; for we have more reason; there is more of the word of God revealed to us, more of the counsel of God discovered, the canon of Scripture being enlarged, more discovered than ever was to David; yet our affections so cold.
SERMON CII. VERSE 97.-Oh ! how love I thy law ! it is my meditation all the day.
USE II.-I come now to a second use; to press us to get this love. Take three arguments :
1. This will wean us from sinful delight, that is apt to insinuate with us and take our hearts: it will draw us off from carnal pastimes, curious studies, vain pamphlets. If you had this love, here would be your recreation, in the word of God. Castæ deliciæ meæ sunt Scripturæ tuæ, saith Austin; here are my chaste delights, thy Holy Scripture, to be ruminating and meditating there. Here you will be employing your time and strength of your thoughts. There are two things mightily concern us, to make religion our business and recreation; our business, in regard of the seriousness; and our recreation and delight, in regard of the sweetness. Now, if you have a word from God, here will be your delight; you will be exercising yourselves contemplating the height, depth, and breadth of God's love in Christ Jesus, and turning over this blessed book : “I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job xxii. 12). Your very food for sustentation of your bodies will not be so sweet to you as the word of God for the comfort and refreshing of the soul. When the promises are as dry breasts and withered flowers, when men have little or no feeling of the power of it upon their hearts, no wonder they are besotted with the pleasures of sin. Man's mind must have some pleasure and oblectation; but their hearts are chained to carnal de. lights, so that they cannot mind the business of their souls.
2. Your hearts will be more stable and upright with God, more constant in the profession of godliness, when you come to love the word, and love the truth for the truth's sake: “Because they received not the truth in the love of ft, &c., God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thes. ii. 10, 11). The Lord bath seen it fit ever to continue this dispensation in the course of his providence, to suffer seducing spirits to go forth, to try how we have received the truth, whether only in the bare profession of it, or received in in the love of it. Many have re, ceived the truth in the light of it; that is, compelled by conscience, and by human tradition, and current opinions, and custom of the country, to profess it; but they do not love it, therefore they are easily carried away. There may be knowledge where there is not assent; there may be assent where there is not love: there may be some slight persuasion of the truth of evangelical doctrine; but, if the heart be biassed with lust and sin, a man doth but lie open to temptations to apostasy. Therefore, until the heart be drawn out unto love to the truth, it can never be stable with God.
3. This is that which will give you a clearer understanding in the mysteries of godliness. The more we love the word, the more we study it, and the deeper insight and more spiritual discerning we have in the mysteries thereof. It is not acute parts, but strong affections to Divine things, that maketh us to understand them in a spiritual manner. If a man hath acute parts, but yet if he hath vile affections and carnal passions, these will becloud the mind, and fill us with prejudicate opinions, so that we cannot discern the mind of God in many cases, nor spiritually discern it in any. Men are darkened with their own lusts, their minds are darkened with carnal lusts; then, in seeing, they see not; in hearing, they hear not; they do not hear what they hear. Let me set it forth by this similitude: a blunt iron, if it be thoroughly heated in the fire, will sooner pierce through a thick board than a sharper tool that is cold ; so, in the order of the affections, when a man's heart is heated and warmed with love to Divine things, then it pierceth through; he hath such a sight of Divine things as they shall affect and change his heart, more than he that hath great parts. It is not acuteness of parts so much as entireness of affection, which gives us a spiritual discerning of the mysteries of godliness; for, when the heart is wedded to carnal lusts, the judgment is corrupted and partial; but, when we have an affection to holiness, we shall sooner discern the mind of God : knowledge, that breeds love ; and love, that increaseth knowledge; for it fortifieth and strengtheneth the other faculties of the soul, that they may be more ready in operation. Let this persuade you to get this love to the word of God.
Ay, but how shall we do to get this love?
DIRECTION I.-I told you before, it is the fruit of regeneration; yet, a little to quicken you hereunto, consider all the arguments which are brought; as whose word it is, it is God's word ; and, if you love God, will you not love the word of God ? Surely your best affections are due to him; and, if you bear any affections to him, you will bear an affection to his word: “The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee” (Isa. xxvi. 8); first to thee, and then to the remembrance of thy name ; or, as it is in the original, to thy memorial. If you have desires to God, then you will love that blessed book wherein you shall read and hear of God, where God hath displayed his name to you. And then, consider what benefits you have by the word. It serves,
1. To enlighten us and to direct us. This is our light in a dark place, and to guide us upon all occasions. Solomon saith, “ Light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun" (Eccl. xi. 7). If light natural be so pleasant, what is light spiritual ? And therefore the Psalmist compares the word of God to the sun (Psalm xix.). First he speaks of the sun when he displayeth his beams upon the earth; then presently he comes to speak of the word of God. The world can no more be without the one than the other; without the word of God no more than without the sun; for, as one doth revive the drooping plants, and cheer and refresh nature by his comfortable beams, so the word of God doth rejoice, refresh, and revive the hearts of God's people by its light and influence (Psalm xix. 7, 8). Oh! it is a comfort to have light to see our way. When men begin to have a conscience about heavenly things, they will judge so. Paul and his companions in the great storm at sea, when they saw no sun for many days, and when they were afraid to fall upon rocks and shelves, with what longing did they expect to see the sun! So a poor, bewildered soul doth experiment such another case, when his way is dark, and hath
no direction from the word of God, what course to take; but, when he can get a little light from the testimonies of the Lord to guide him in his way, how sweet, refreshing, and reviving, is this to his heart!
2. It serves to comfort us in all straits. The word of God is (as Basil saith) a common shop of medicaments, where there is a salve for every sore, and a remedy for every malady, a promise for every condition. God hath plentifully opened his good will and heart to sinners; whatever the burden and distress be, still there is some remedy from the word of God. Look, as David (Psalm xlviii. 2, 3) bids them to view Zion on all sides, to see if there were anything wanting necessary for ornament and defence, so may we say of the word of God, “Go round about, see if there be anything wanting for the comfort of a Christian. There are promises of wisdom to manage our business (James i. 5), promises of defence in the midst of all calamities (Heb. xiii. 5); promises of sustentation and support in God's storehouse, blessings enough for every poor soul. Then the word of God serves to support and strengthen us in our conflicts, either with sins or with afflictions, to strengthen us against corruptions, and quicken us to duties : “ The sword of the Spirit which is the word of God” (Eph. vi. 17), the choicest weapon in the spiritual warfare. Here a Christian fetcheth his all from hence: therefore, if you would have these affections to the word, think what a great deal of benefit is to be had by it, light, comfort, and strength.
DIRECTION II.-Be in a capacity to love the word. If you would have this strong affection David speaks of, you must be renewed and reconciled.
1. Renewed; for this love is an affection proper to the new nature : “They that are after the Spirit (do mind the things of the Spirit” (Rom. viii. 5). It is in vain to think of any such love to God's word until we be renewed by God's grace. A man, as a man, may delight in the knowledge of the word; but to receive the word of God as the word of God, there must be somewhat of the Divine nature, or you will not have such a relish and savour to spiritual things.
2. Be reconciled to God. A guilty creature, what comfort can he take in the word of God, where he can see nothing but his accusation and his doom? When he looks into it, it shows him his natural face. A natural man cannot delight in the word of God; for it only revives his fears, and offers to his mind a sense of his misery. Therefore God's witnesses are said to torment them that dwell on the earth (Rev. xi. 10). God's word is a torment to them. To come to the word, and study the word of God, and consider his mind revealed therein, this nothing but increaseth fears. It is a vexation to them when they would sleep securely, to have their consciences rubbing up and reviving their fears. Therefore they are not in a capacity to delight in the word of God.
DOCTRINE III.- If you would delight in the word of God, you must get an esteem of spiritual enjoyments. Why are wicked men so greedily carried out after worldly comforts? These are the only things which they value. But, until a man learns to value knowledge, and spiritual comforts, and subjection to God, and conversion of his heart to God, he will not love the word which is the instrument of all these benefits. When he counts these as the greatest blessings, then his heart will be carried on to them ; for the word only hath a subserviency to these things. Poor, low creatures value themselves by plentifulness of worldly accommodations, they will