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hope” (1 Peter i. 3). There are living faith and lively faith, and living fear and lively fear of God, and living hope and lively hope. All graces, God makes them lively and vivacious, that they may put forth their operations the more readily. Well, this is quickening in duties.
2. There is quickening in afflictions; and so it is opposed to fainting, that fainting which is occasioned by too deep a sense of present troubles, or by unbelief, or distrust of God and his promises, and the supplies of his grace. Oh! when troubles press upon us very sore, our hearts are like a bird, dead in the nest, overcome, so that we have no spirit, life, nor aptness for God's service : “My soul melteth for heaviness;" we have lost our life and our courage for God.
Well, how doth God quicken us? By reviving our suffering graces, as our hope of eternal life and eternal glory, patience and faith, and so puts life into us again, that we may go on cheerfully in our service, by infusion of new comforts. He revives the heart of his contrite ones, so the Prophet saith (Isa. Ivii. 15). He doth revive our spirits again, when they are dead and sunk under our troubles. Oh! it is very necessary for this : “ Quicken us, and we will call upon thy name” (Psalm lxxx. 18). Discomfort and discouragement, it weakens our hands; until the Lord cheers us again, we have no life in prayer. By two things especially doth God quicken us in affliction, by reviving the sense of his love, and by reviving the hopes of glory. By reviving the sense of his love: “ The love of God is shed abroad” (Rom. v. 5; like a fragrant ointment that doth revive us, when we are even ready to give up the ghost : “ Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee?" (Psalm lxxxv. 6.) I say, when he restores the sense of his love after great and pressing sorrow, then he is said to quicken; so when he doth renew upon us the hopes of glory : “ We rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. v. 2). Well, you see what this quickening is.
Secondly, This quickening must be asked of God.
Ist, Because it is his prerogative to govern the heart of man, especially to quicken us. God will be owned as the fountain of all life: “I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things” (1 Tim. vi. 13). It is God that quickeneth all things. All the life that is in the creature, all the life that is in new creatures, it comes from God; it is he that giveth us life at first, and he must keep in this life in the soul, and restore it. The meanest worm, all the life it hath, it hath from God. When John would prove the godhead of Christ, he brings this argument, “ In him is life" (John i. 4). There is not a gnat but receives this benefit from Christ as God. He hath the life of all things, and this life is the light of men; much more the noble creature man hath this life from God, much more the new creature greater operation of spiritual life, more depends upon his influence; and therefore, if we would be quickened, and carried out with any life and strength, we must go to God for it.
2ndly, God, as our judge, he must be treated with about it; for he smites us with deadness: therefore, till he takes off his sentence, we cannot get rid of this distemper; it is one of God's spiritual plagues, which must be removed before we can hope for any liveliness and any activity of grace again. Under the law, God punished sins more sensibly; as unhallowed addresses, he punished them with death. Under the Gospel, he punisheth sins with deadness of heart. When they seem careless in the worshipping of God, they have a blow and breach, as he smote Uzza,
and Nadab, and Abihu, dead in the place; and now he smites with deadness. He hath the key of David, “that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth" (Rev. iii. 7). Without his permission, we can never recover our former lively estate again; for there is a judicial sentence passed upon us.
USE.— To press us to be often with God for quickening, that we may obtain this benefit, I have spoken of it at large upon another verse. If you would have this benefit, rouse up yourselves : “ There is none, &c., that stirreth up himself” (Isa. lxiv. 7); and, “Stir up the gift of God which is in thee” (2 Tim. i. 6). A man hath a faculty to work upon his own heart, to commune and reason with himself; and we are bidden to “strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die” (Rev. ii. 2). When things are dying and fainting in the soul, we are to strengthen ourselves. Therefore, if we would have God to quicken us, thus must we do, chide the heart for its deadness in duty: we can be lively enough in a way of sin; chide the heart for its deadness in affliction : Why art thou cast down, O my soul ? still trust in God (Psalm xli.). And after you have done this, then look up, and expect this grace from God in and through Christ Jesus. It is said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John x. 10). Jesus Christ, he came, not only that we might have life, enough to keep body and soul together, but that we might not only be living but lively, full of life, strength, and cheerfulness, in the service of God. He is come into the world for this end and purpose ; expect it through Christ who hath purchased it for us. And then, plead with God about it, according to his promise, “Ah, Lord, according to thy word, hast thou not said, I will quicken a dead heart? When thou art broken and tossed with affliction, remember it is the high and lofty One that hath said he will “revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isa. lvii. 15), and plead thus with God, 'Ah, Lord, dost not thou delight in a cheerful spirit? “Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee ?" ' (Psalm lxxxv. 6.) And then, humble yourselves for the cause of the distemper: “What is the matter? how comes this deadness upon me?' “Why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear ?" (Isa. Ixiii. 17.) Inquire what is the cause of this deadness that grows upon me, that you may humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God.
The argument only is behind, “ According unto thy word.” David, when he begs for quickening, he is encouraged so to do by a promise. The question is, where this promise should be? Some think it was that general promise of the law, if thou do these things, thou shalt live in thein (Lev. xviii. 5), and that from thence David drew this particular conclusion, that God would give life to his people. But rather, it was some other promise, some word of God he had, to bear him out in this request. We see he hath made many promises to us of sanctifying our affliction. The fruit of all shall be the taking away of sin (Isa. xxvii. 9); of bettering and improving us by it (Heb. ii. 10), of moderating our affliction, that he will stay his rough wind in the day of the east wind (Isa. xxvii, 8); that he will lay no more upon us than he will enable us to bear (1 Cor. x. 13). He hath promised he will moderate our affliction, so that we shall not be tempted above our strength. He hath promised he will deliver us from it, that the rod of the wicked shall not always rest on the back of the righteous (Psalm cxxv. 3); that he will be with us in it, and never fail us VOL 11.
(Heb. xiii. 5). Now, I argue thus: if the people of God could stay their hearts upon God's word, when they had but such obscure hints to work upon that we do not know where the promise lies, ah! how should our hearts be stayed upon God, when we have so many promises ! When the Scriptures are enlarged for the comfort and enlarging of our faith, surely we should say now as Paul, when he got a word, “I believe God” (Acts xxvii. 25); I may expect God will do thus for me, when his word speaks it everywhere. Then you may expostulate with God, 'I have thy word for it, Lord ;' as she, when she showed him the jewel, ring, and staff, · Whose are these?' so we may cast in God his promises, Whose are these according to thy word ?' And mark David, that was punctual with God, “I have sworn, and I will perform it;" and, “Quicken me, O Lord, according unto thy word.” Sincere hearts may plead promises with God : “Lord, remember, I have walked before thee with an upright heart” (Psalm xxxviji. 3). These may look up and wait upon God for deliverance.
SERMON CXVIII. VERSE 108.— Accept, I beseech thee, the freewill offerings of my
mouth, O Lord, and teach me thy judgments. In this verse, two things are asked of God: first, God's acceptance; then, secondly, instruction.
First, He begs acceptation. Therein take notice, 1. Of the matter, object, or thing, that he would have to be accepted, “ The freewill offerings of my mouth.” 2. The manner of asking this acceptation, “Accept, I beseech thee.” In the former, you may observe the general nature of the thing, and then the particular kind: they were freewill offerings; and yet more express, they were freewill offerings of his hands; not legal sacrifices, but spiritual services, freewill offerings of his mouth, implying praises; our praises of God are called “ the calves of our lips ” (Hos. xiv. 2), rendered there by the Septuagint, the fruit of our lips, and accordingly translated by the Apostle, “ The fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name” (Heb. xiii. 15). He was in deep affliction, wandering up and down the desert; he was disabled to offer up to God any other sacrifice; therefore he desires God would accept the freewill offerings of his mouth, he had nothing else to bring him.
Secondly, He begs of God instruction in his way, “Teach me thy judgments." By misphalim, “judgments," are meant both God's statutes and God's providences. If you take them in the former sense, for God's statutes, so he begs grace to excite, direct, and assist him in a course of sincere obedience to God, practically to walk according to God's will. If you understand it in the latter sense, only for the accomplishment of what God had spoken in his word, for God's providence, for his corrective dispensation, “ Teach me;" he begs understanding and profiting by them.
I shall begin with his first request, which offereth four observations : 1. That God's people have their spiritual offerings. 2. That these spiritual offerings must be freewill offerings. 3. That these freewill offerings are graciously accepted by God.
4. That this gracious acceptance must be earnestly sought and valued as a great blessing, “ accept, I beseech thee,” &c.
DOCTRINE I.—That God's people have their spiritual offerings. I shall give the sense of this point in five propositions.
1. That all God's people are made priests to God; for every offering supposeth a priest: so it is said, that Christ Jesus hath made us kings and priests (Rev. i. 6). All Christians, they have a communion with Christ in all his offices; whatever Christ was, that certainly they are in some measure and degree. Now, Christ was king, priest, and prophet; and so is every Christian, in a spiritual sense, a king, priest, and prophet; for they have their anointing, their unction from the Holy One, and he communicates with them in his offices. So also they do resemble the priesthood under the law; in 1 Peter ii. 5, they are called “ a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices ;” and they are called “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter ii. 9). They are a holy priesthood, like the sons of Aaron, who were se. parated from the people, to minister before the Lord; and they are a royal priesthood, in conformity to the priesthood of Melchisedeck, who was king of Salem, and also priest of the most high God. There is a mighty conformity between what is done by every Christian, and the solemnities and rites used by the priests under the law. The priests of the law were separated from the rest of the people; so are all God's people from the rest of the world. The priests of the law were to be anointed with holy oil (Exod. xxviii. 41); so all Christians, they receive “ an unction from the Holy One" (1 John ü. 20). By the holy oil was figured the Holy Spirit, which was the unction of the Holy One, by which they are made fit and ready to perform those duties which are acceptable to God. After the priest was thus generally prepared by the anointing to their services, before they went to offer, they were to wash in the great laver which stood in the sanctuary door (Exod. xxix. 4; Lev. viii. 4, 5). So every Christian is to be washed in the great larer of regeneration (Titus üi. 5); and, when they are regenerated, born again, purged and cleansed from their sins, then they are priests to offer sacrifices to God; for, till this be done, none of their offerings are acceptable to him: “For they that are in the flesh, cannot please God” (Rom. viii. 8); and, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord” (Prov. xv. 10). Thus you see in all these correspondences, and in many more, Christians they are priests. What the priests of the law were to God, that is every Christian now to God, to offer spiritual sacrifices to Christ Jesus our Lord.
2. They have their offerings. The great work of the priest was to offer sacrifice; and this is our employment, to offer sacrifices to God. What sacrifices do we offer now in the time of the Gospel ? Not sin-offerings. but thank-offerings. A sin-offering can be offered but once : “By one offering he [Jesus Christ] hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified": (Heb. x. 14). And there needs no more of that kind, that was but to be once offered (Heb. vii. 27); and therefore there remains nothing more to be done by us, but the offering of thank-offerings; and this is to be done continually : “By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually; that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name? (Heb. xii. 15).
3. These offerings must be spiritual thank-offerings. Under the law, the thank-offering was that of a beast; but now, under the Gospel, we offer spiritual sacrifices; therefore the Apostle saith, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ ” (1 Peter ii. 5). The sa
crifice must suit with the nature of the priesthood. The priesthood is spiritual, and not after the law of a carnal commandment; not by an external consecration, but the inward anointing of the Holy Ghost. And herein we differ from the priests of the law, because the very nature and substance of our worship is more pleasing to God than the nature of theirs ; for moral worship is better, and more suited to the nature of God, than ceremonial; God is a Spirit, and will be worshipped in spirit (John iv. 24). And therefore when ceremonial worship was in force, they that rested in external ceremonies, and did not look to the spiritual intent and signification of them, were not accepted by God, though the ceremony was performed with never so much pomp; though they came with their flocks and herds, yet praying to God, and praising God, with a willing mind, which was the soul of their offering, was that alone which was acceptable to God; therefore it is said, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. This also shall please the Lord better than an ox or a bullock that hath horns and hoofs” (Psalm lxix. 30. 31); that is, which is perfect and exact according to the institutions of the law ; for there was to be no blemish in the sacrifice of the law; yet calling upon the name of God and praising him, is better than the service performed with the exactest conformity to legal rites: “ Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High ; and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me" (Psalm 1. 13—15). The Lord draws them off from ceremonies to the spiritual service; it is more becoming the nature of God, and it is more reasonable service. The offering of a beast hath not so much of God's nature, nor of man's nature in it, only God would keep it up for a while ; therefore now these are the great offerings.
4. The two great sacrifices required of us, prayer and praise ; there are many other, but they are implied in these. To instance, under the Gospel there is this thank-offering, presenting ourselves to the Lord, dedicating ourselves to the Lord's use and service : “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacri. fice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Rom. xii. l); “First gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God” (2 Cor. viii. 5). And then there is alms: “ To do good and to communicate, forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased ” (Heb. xiii. 16). And when the Philippians had made contribution to Paul's necessities, he saith it was a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour unto God (Phil. iv. 18). Ay; but now, both these are included in the other two; namely, as they are evidences of our thankfulness to God, and the sense of his love and favour which we have received by Christ. The great and usual offerings are the fruit of our lips, the calves of our lips, here called the freewill offerings of our mouth, prayer and praise. That prayer is a sacrifice, see Psalm cxli. 2: “Let my prayer be set before thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice." The daily offering was accompanied with incense, and he mentions the evening sacrifice, because then was a more perfect atonement for the day; therefore, when the evening sacrifice came, it was to be understood they were perfectly reconciled to God. And then, that praise is a sacrifice, see Psalm liv. 6: “I will freely sacrifice unto thee; I will praise thy name, O Lord; for it is good.” And in that other place, where the Lord rejects the flesh