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God, and never exercise yourselves in refraining your feet from every evil way? Certainly, if you have any love to God, you will hate that which God hates; for idem velle et nolie, to will and nill the same things, that is true friendship. Therefore, if God be your friend, you will hate as he hates, that which makes a breach between you and God, and makes you grow shy of God, and lose your familiarity with him. As love to God, so love to his word: “I hate vain thoughts; but thy law do I love" (Psalm cxix. 113). Certainly, if a man hath a love to the law, he will not only hate sin in practice, but vain thoughts; what tends to breaking the law in his thoughts; any lesser contrariety, contradiction, or defiance of God's law ; for our hatred is engaged by love. Well, get this love, set it awork, improve it by reason; for every affection is fed by discourses of the mind. All sins are set awork by some discourse, so graces are set awork by discouraings of our minds. Now, set this love awork. Oh! shall I that have tasted so much of the love of God, or that do pretend to love God and Christ, and enjoy communion with him, yield to follow sin? What! after such a deliverance as this, should we again break thy commandment? (Ezra ix. 13, 14.) When God hath delivered us, not only out of Babylon, but (you may say) out of Hell, how should we set love awork! The great instance of God's love was the giving bis Son : “Herein is love," &c. (1 John iv. 10.) Now then, if God hate and resist sin, reason and argue from this love: “What! shall God give his Son for me, and I not spare a lust for God? when God did not stand upon his Son, that was so dear and precious to him, shall I stand upon my sin? What! shall Christ die for me, to ransom me from Hell? is this my kindness to my friend ?' Cyprian brings in Satan pleading thus, as vaunting against Christ: “I never spilt one drop of blood, my back was never mangled with whips and scourges, I never had a Heaven to bestow upon them; yet among all thy beneficiaries, show me any so busy, painful, diligent, exact in thy service, as these are in mine. Thou hast shed thy blood, and endured a painful and an accursed death for them; yet they are not so dutiful to thee as to me.' You see whereto this tends; and shall Christ do so much for us, and we not deny our lusts for him ? Surely, if we have any sense of the love of Christ Jesus, it will work this hatred, this abhorrency and refraining ourselves from every evil way. Thus set love awork.
2. Another grace is, a fear of God and his word.
A fear of God: “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil” (Prov. viii. 13). Job “feared God, and eschewed evil” (Job i. 1). Surely, a fear of God will make you refrain yourselves from every evil way. And not only so, but a fear of his word, that is useful: “He that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded” (Prov. xiii. 13). It is not said, he that fears a judgment, but he that fears a commandment. If the word stand in his way, it is more than if all the inconveniences in the world stand in his way. This also should be improved by holy reasoning and discourse ; you may reason as Joseph, The Lord seeth me; “how then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” (Gen. xxxix. 9). Shall I break the Lord's laws before his face? what! when my heavenly Father hath forbidden me? The sons of Jonadab, the son of Rechab, they were afraid to drink wine, when the Prophet brought pots before them: No; we dare not; our father hath commanded us the contrary' (Jer. xxxv. 5, 6). Their father was dead, and could not take cognizance of their actions to call them to an account, for breaking the rule of the institution; but there was an awe upon them. But our Father, his eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth: therefore, when you are tempted to sin and folly, say, 'I dare not; God hath commanded me in his word to the contrary.' Set fear awork: “Here is a commandment stands in my way.' The great God, be sees all things, and will one day call us to an account.
The two duties into which these graces do run and issue themselves, are watchfulness and resistance. Watchfulness; we are poor creatures in the midst of snares, very easily may miscarry, partly through our constitution; there is flesh as well as spirit, and the flesh doth always stir, and not lie idle. Old sins, that seemed to be laid asleep, may easily waken again. The Devil suits the bait to the season and affections we are under, as anglers furnish their hook with a proper bait. Oh! saith Bernard, here are fears, there snares; that which pleases, is apt to tempt us, that which frightens, is apt to terrify me; what should a poor creature do? Be watchful, stand upon your guard, that you be not suprised by the craft of Satan ; that you may not swallow the hook, when he sets the bait to your appetite. And then, powerful resistance of evil, that sin may not prevail, and we more and more draw off from God. Do not yield a little; smaller sins make way for greater; when the gap is once open, it is wider and wider; if sin be not stifled at first, it will increase.
SERMON CVIII. VERSE 102.—I have not departed from thy judgments ; for thou hast
taught me. In the former verse, he had spoken of his vigilancy against evil, as the result of that wisdom which he got by the word; now he speaketh of his constant adherence to God's direction. Here you may take notice of two things:-). David's exactness and constancy in obedience, “I have not departed from thy judgments.” 2. The reason of it, “ for thou hast taught me.”
Branch I.-By misphalim, “judgments," is meant God's law; for thereby he will judge the world. And the word “ departed not" intimateth both his exactness and constancy: his exactness, that he did not go a hair's breadth from his direction : “Ye shall observe to do, therefore, as the Lord your God hath commanded you; ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left" (Deut. v, 32); and his constancy is employed in it; for then we are said to depart from God and his law, when we fall off from him in judgment and practice (Jer. xxxii. 40).
Branch II.-God's institution and continual instincts. The Septuagint 'Evvopogénnsaç ue, and thence the Vulgate, Legem posuisti mihi, thou hast given me that law; and so the reason would be drawn from God's authority; but rather it is meant of his internal illumination and constant direction. Observe,
First, A man that would show love to the word, must show it by a constant and exact adherence to the directions thereof, whatever temptations he meet with to the contrary. David produceth this as one evidence of that affection in the first verse of this section or part,“ Oh! how love I thy law !" I shall show you,
1. What temptations there are to the contrary.
Ist, What temptations to the contrary
1. From the natural instability of our own hearts, nothing is so changeable as man. We have certain heats for the present, but we soon cool again; and, when temptations arise, are carried off from God, and that exactness and care that we were wont to show in our obedience to him. What was said of Reuben, is true of every man in some degree : “Unstable as water" (Gen. xlix. 4). It is carried hither and thither, in various and uncertain motions: so are we up and down, off and on, ebbing and flowing, not steadfast in any good frame; sometimes seen to have strong motions towards God and holiness, but anon grow cold and careless. Or as a bird is now upon the top of a tree, by and by upon the under branches, and then upon the ground. Such a different posture of spirit may every one observe in himself, and sometimes in the same duty. God is always the same, and so are his ways, they have the same loveliness which they had before, but we are not always the same. The rock standeth where it did; but the waters flow to and again. The least blast of a temptation maketh us break off our course. Now, this natural levity of spirit is a great hindrance to us. We do not always see with the same eyes, nor have we the same degree of affection : “Ye did run well, who did hinder you?” (Gal. v. 7.) There may be a ready forwardness, and yet a great defection afterwards. This uncertainty is not only at first, before we are settled by grace, or have any sound acquaintance with God's ways; then it is most (James i. 8); but, after conversion, it remaineth with us in part. Those measures of affection and zeal which we once obtained, are not constant with us; but suffer some notable decay, and our edge is often taken off and blunted. Especially, our first love is not of long standing, and our after-carriage not answerable to our promising beginnings. Now, there is no satisfying reason for this change, why we should make a halt, and grow remiss and lag in the profession of godliness, and leare off our first works; nothing but our changeableness of spirit.
2. From the furious oppositions and malice of Satan and his instruments.
(1.) Satan pursueth after men that would cleave to God's ways, as Pharaoh did after the Israelites; either to bring them back again, or to weary them, and vex them, and make their present course uncomfortable to theni. Now, the violent assault of multiplied temptations is apt to make us stagger, and depart from that good course that we have propounded to ourselves; as the Israelites were running back to Egypt, because of the inconveniences of the wilderness. But it should not be so; a Christian should stand his ground : “ Whom resist, steadfast in the fai: h; knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter v. 9). They that make conscience of their duty, and are most set to serve and honour God, must reckon upon the hottest battle and sorest conflict from Satan, to hinder or discourage them therein: he watcheth all advantages, and is still in action against them. Now, this should not shake us, or loosen our adherence to the truths of the Gospel, for so it is with every one that goeth to Heaven; he must be watching, praying, striving. Yielding is not the way to be quiet, but resisting: if you yield to him in the least, he will carry you further and further, till he hath left thee under a stupefied or territied conscience. Stupefied till thou hast lost all thy tenderness. A stone at the top of a hill, when it beginneth to roll down, ceaseth not, till it come to the bottom. Thou thinkest VOL. 11.
it is but yielding a little, and so by degrees art carried on, till thou hast sinned away all thy profession, and all principles of conscience, by the secret witchery of his temptations: and, of the other side, terrified, till thy peace, comfort, and sweet sense of God's love be gone, and thou brought under the black horrors of a dreadful despair. Therefore a stout and peremptory resistance is the only means of safety. Consider, your case is not singular, your lot is no harder than the rest of God's children; therefore do not depart from God.
(2.) Satan's instruments may rage against us, and yet we must not depart: “ All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant: our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from thy way” (Psalm xliv. 17, 18). “ All this ;” what? Scorn, disgrace, bloody, cruel, reproved, maligned, butchered, yet steadfast with God in the profession of the faith. Hazards and troubles are no excuse; this is but a time to show our love to God: our duty to God is the same still.
(3.) From the example of others, especially who are of esteem for godliness; example hath a mighty force upon men. Man is a ductile creature; like sheep, they run for company: not what we ought to do, but what others do. There are three reasons ; of natural corruption, the flesh, the Devil; but first example of others: “In time past ye walked according to the course of this world" (Eph. ii. 2). The universal corrupt course and custom of those among whom we live, is a great snare. To follow a mul. titude to do evil, is a strong excitement, but no sufficient excuse, especially of good men. They that are gracious may stagger strangely in reeling times, and be overtaken with dangerous mistakes. Now, their sins authorise others, and draw them into the snare: “ Carried away with their dissimulation" (Gal. ii. 13). A strong stream or current impetuously doth carry all things away with it. They take all for current that they do, without examining their actions, and so run away from the rule by their errors.
(4.) From the providence of God which may seem to be against those that are exact right, or the sure way pointed out to us in his word. Two * ways:
(i.) In the manifold disappointments as to his favouring a good cause : their endeavours blasted ; many troubles befall them, God's people are often put to trials by God himself, to try the sincerity of their love. Blind Bartimeus rebuked by the disciples : “ Many charged him that he should hold his peace; but he cried the more a great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy upon me" (Mark x. 48). And so Christ to the woman of Canaan (Matt. xv. 22—27), puts her off. And are not we put to such trials in these latter times? When we own him, God seemeth to put us off; Providence appeareth with a doubtful face; they that take to the better part, may be reduced to great straits: therefore sometimes it may happen to the righteous according to the work of the wicked, and to the wicked according to the work of the righteous (Eccl. viii. 14). So variously doth God dispense external good and evil, and may seem to frown upon those that are faithful now; yet we should not depart from his judgments: “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him" (Job xiii. 15). We should wrestle through many disappointments here, or hereafter God will not own us.
(ii.) By giving success to a wrong party, that layeth claim to him, to his favour in an evil way, and interpreteth when his providence seems to be
an approbation of an evil course. It is a great temptation: God's choicest servants have staggered by it; but yet it is but a temptation: “I kept, silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself” (Psalm 1. 21). God may hold his hand, though they strangely transform him in their thoughts, and entitle their actions to his patronage. God trieth you: “ The Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deut. xiii. 3). God's word is so clear and satisfactory, that by a righteous judgment he may permit it, to try our steadfastness and obedience, not as chaff, but as solid grain. But must we not regard providences? Yes; but not interpret them against the word, but with it; it is comfortable to see the word backed with a providence (Rom. ii. 18; Heb. i. 2; and Hos. vii. 12), when the word is made good, and they feel that which they would not believe, Not interpret it against the word; providence is never against the word, it is an exact comment upon it, if we had eyes to see it, and, when we see it altogether, we shall find it so; but now we view it by pieces, and so mistake: “ We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. viii. 28); “Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end” (Psalm lxxii. 17). When we look to the end of things, all hazards are over.
Secondly, The reasons why we must be exact and constant, notwithstanding these temptations; I will name but two, implied in the two words of the text, “Thy judgments.” l. It is God's word. 2. God's word is judgment.
1st, It is God's direction, who cannot deceive or be deceived; you may venture your souls, temporal and eternal estate, and all upon it, upon God's bare word; for it is impossible for him to lie in his promises (Heb. vi. 18), or to be deceived in his directions. The word of the Lord is a pure rule: “ The same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie” (1 John i. 27). There is no erring while we walk by this direction, the Spirit of God teacheth us by his word; and indeed, this is the effect of that great faith, to believe God upon his bare word; to believe what he hath spoken is true, and to act accordingly. If this were rooted in our hearts, we should not be so unstable, so easily foiled by Satan, discouraged by the oppositions of evil men, or live by example, but by rule, and should interpret the providence of God to the advantage, and not the prejudice, of obedience: “ Whom resist, steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter v. 9). Adhere to the truth of the word : “I know here is my direction, and in the issue will be my safety and happiness.' But either we do not believe this is God's word, or do not urge the heart with God's authority and veracity; and therefore we are up and down; but now, when we determine this is God's word, and so receive it: “ When ye received the word of God, which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God” (1 Thess. ii. 13). And then, “It is my rule, whatever it cost me;' there you urge the heart with the authority of God (Matt. xvi. 24), a resolute giving up ourselves to God's direction, and to receive the law from his mouih. And it is a certain rule : whatever cross accidents fall out, it should be received with such certainty and absolute authority as nothing should move us; so assured of it, that, if an angel should preach any other doctrine, let him be accursed (Gal. i. 8; 2 Tim. ii. 16; and 2 Peter i. 2). When it is believed to be the Lord's mind, it is a sure