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yea, the framing of the body in the womb, so many different things out of the same seed, as flesh, and bones, and muscles; and in such an order and proportion: “I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made : marvellous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well ” (Psalm cxxxix. 14). If the commonness did not abate our observation, we would wonder at it! So his providence in governing every creature to their proper ends, especially his care over us, and conduct of us : “Many, O Lord, are thy wondrous works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward. They cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered ” (Psalm xl. 5). But especially the redemption of mankind is wonderful: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness : God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (I Tim. iii. 16). The mysteries of the Gospel, every time we think of them, should strike admiration into our hearts. It could not sink into the head of any creature how to satisfy justice, and to make up the breach between God and us. That a virgin should conceive, the word be made flesh; that justice and mercy should so sweetly be brought together, and conspire in the salvation of a lost sinner; all these are wonders; and when we come to believe them indeed, to draw forth comfort from them, these are wonderful to us!
The law of God is wonderful. Look to the precept or the sanction. Louk to the precept. A wonderful purity there; “I have seen an end of all perfection; but thy law is exceedingly broad” (verse 96 of this Psalm). When a child of God sees how the law reacheth every thought, every motion, every operation of his soul; what wonderful purity is here! So a marvellous equity: “The law is holy, just, and good ; and the commandment is good ” (Rom. vii. 12). God hath given us such a law, if a man were free, yet to ennoble his nature, and live happily, he would choose such a rule. Then to see such wise precepts so ordered, that in ten words God should comprise the whole duty of man : “Keep therefore and do them, for this is your wisdom, and your understanding in the sight of the nations” (Deut. iv. 6). First, God hath provided in his law respects to himself. First, the law provides for God, then for the creature. In the first commandment, “ Thou shalt have no other gods before me," there is the object of worship. Then the second, “thou shalt not make to thyself any graven image,” &c., the means of worship. Then the manner of worship in the third. “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” Then the time of worship in the fourth, “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath-day.” See how the Lord hath built up his law. Then as to men, see first God provides for those viceroys that do represent the great God, as our parents natural and civil : “Honour thy father and thy mother," &c.: then our ordinary neighbour; and there, first for his life. and then for his relations, “Thou shalt not kill," “ Thou shalt not commit adultery;" then for his goods,” “ Thou shalt not steal;" then for his good name. When a man sees the law of God in all its explications ; when he considers the harmony and correspondence that is between all the parts of the law, then he will cry out, Oh, wonderful! Come to the sanction by which the law is established and confirmed, by promises and rewards, such a “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory," that a clod of earth should shine above the stars, and God provide such a happi
ness for us that we should be like the angels! Then threatenings, that God hath appointed such a punishment to hold the world in awe, as “ a worm that never dies, and the fire that never is quenched;" the worm of conscience that shall vex us with the remembrance of our past folly, and the wrath of God that shall punish us for disobedience, and torment us for evermore; still, Oh, wonderful! So for the Gospel, every article of faith is a mystery to be wondered at, Quod Articuli tot miracula. The disciples wondered when they saw the structure of the temple; Oh, how may we wonder when we see the spiritual temple, that is Jesus Christ in the fulness of his godhead! God dwelt symbolically by outward representations in the temple; but here he dwells bodily. When David had provi. ded such a mass of money-(1 Chron. xxix. 7, 9) they fell a wondering: Oh! but when the soul comes to view the unsearchable riches of grace in Christ Jesus, then he may cry out, Oh, wonderful! When we see some rare plot, all things suit harmoniously, we cry out, Oh, wonderful! This great mystery of godliness, the more we look into it, the more will we wonder at the wisdom of God discovered in and through Christ Jesus. For external providences, to see how God answers prayers, how he brings about our mercies according to our wants in a way we know not: “ Show thy marvellous loving-kindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee” (Psalm xvii. 7). In the very common favours that God vouchsafeth to us, there is something may be observed that may make us wonder, either for the time, manner, or measure. Also in the internal effects of his grace upon the heart, when a man is convinced, and his own heart is ripped up to him by the power of the word, (1 Cor. xv. 25; Heb. iv. 12; and John iv. 29). As when Christ had convinced the woman of Samaria, and ripped up her life, she says, “ Come see a man that hath told me all that ever I did.” When God comes in with such convictive evidence, and rips up our privy thoughts, Oh, wonderful! But especially in changing and renewing the heart; when a lion shall be turned into a lamb, a dunghill become a bed of spices, a swine become a saint, a persecutor an apostle ; we that had such bolts and restraints of sin upon us, when we get out; when we that were so wedded to sensual delights and worldly vanities, are brought to delight in God, this is truly admirable : “ He hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light” (2 Pet. i. 9). And then the comfort we have by the word of God, and the marvellous sweetness the practice of it diffuseth through the soul, it is unspeakable and glorious (1 Pet. i. 8). So, “The peace of God that passeth understanding shall keep your hearts," &c. (Phil. iv. 7). When a man hath settling and composure of spirit in the midst of tempests and storms, the heart is guarded against all fears and sorrows; when we consider what God hath done for our souls, every grace is a wonder. To depend upon what we see not; to be safe in the midst of a storm ; to die, yet live; to be poor, yet make many rich; to have nothing, yet possess all things; these operations of grace are all wonders.
Use I.-It informeth us, that a man must be carried above his own sense, reason, and light, to understand such wonderful things. It is the Apostle's argument: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God” (1 Cor. ii. 9, 10). All things are seen by a suitable light, spiritual things are spiritually discerned, divine things by a divine light. Non loquendum de Deo sine lumine. If beasts would judge of human affairs, they must have the reason of men ; if men, of divine things, they must have divine illumination. There is a cognation between the faculty and the object.
II. It informeth us what reason we have to respect the word of God. Many curious wits despise it as a mean knowledge in comparison of Aristotle, Plato, &c. All the doctrines of it are continued mystery ; there is nothing vulgar and of small moment there. If there be some rudiments, something common with other writings, there are greater things than these, even the deep things of God. Never was there such a revelation made to the world as this ! You despise that which angles wonder at: “ And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things in Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. ii. 10). And, again: “Which things the angels desire to look into ” (1 Pet. i. 12). David saith, “ Thy testimonies are wonderful, therefore doth my soul keep them. Oh! let this book of God be more dear to us! Oh! what trifles are all worldly riches to the unsearchable riches of the Lord's grace! Oh! how stupid are they that are not taken with such great things as these!
III. Examine your profiting. It is one degree of profit to see so much in the word of God, as to admire it. Admire God's transcendent goodness in the pardon of sins. God giveth us such admirable precepts, assisting us in the performance of them, accepting our imperfect obedience; this giveth wonderful comfort in all our afflictions.
DOCTRINE III.—He that is sensible of the wondrous things that are in God's word, will be talking of them.
1. It will be so.
1. It will be so. When the heart is deeply affected, the tongue cannot hold, but will run out in expressions of it; "for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh,” when cheered and revived in their afflictions. They are transported with the thought, with the excellency of God: “Come, and I will tell you what God hath done for my soul" (Psalm lxvi. 15). The woman, when she bad found the lost groat, calleth her neighbours to rejoice with her. He that hath but a cold knowledge, will not be so full of good discourse.
2. It should be so in a threefold respect : for the honour of God; the edification of others; and for our own profit.
(1.) For the honour of God, to whom we are so much indebted, to bring him into request with those about us; experience deserveth praise ; when you have found the Messiah, call one another to him: “ Andrew calleth Peter, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias : and Philip called Nathaniel and saith unto him, We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (John i. 41-45).
(2.) For the edification of others : “ And thou, being converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke xxii. 32). True grace is communicative as fire, &c.
(3.) For our own profit. He that useth his knowledge, shall have more. Whereas, on the contrary, full breasts, if not sucked, become dry.
In the dividing, the loaves increased. All gifts, but much more spiritual, which are the best, are improred by exercise.
Well then, first, Get a sense and experience of God's truths, and then speak of them to others. That which we have seen, we are best able to report of. God giveth us experience to this end, that we may be able to speak of it to others. None can speak with such confidence as those that hare felt what they speak. Christ saith, those that come to him shall not only have a spring of comfort themselves, but flow forth to others : “ He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John vii. 38).
DOCTRINE IV.-In our desires of knowledge it is meet to propound a good end.
As David here beggeth understanding, that he might see and discover to others what he had found in God's law. To know that we may know, is foolish curiosity ; to know that we may be known, is vanity and ostentation; to see that we may sell our kuowledge, is baseness and covetous. ness. To edify others, this is charity; to be edified ourselves, this is wisdom. Good things must be sought to a good end : “ Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, to consume it upon your lusts" (James iv. 3). All things must be sought for to holy ends, to glorify God; much more spiritual gifts. The only good end is God's glory: "Open thou my lips, that I may show forth thy praise” (Psalm li. 15). We are to desire knowledge, that we may the more enjoy God, and the more glorify him.
There is a natural desire of knowledge, even of Divine knowledge; but we must look to our ends, that we may grow in grace (1 Pet. ii. 3), that we may be more useful for God; not merely to store the head with notions, or to vaunt it over others, as having attained more than they ; no, it should be only to do good to our own souls, and to save others: “ I am persuaded that ye are filled with all knowledge, and able to admonish one another" (Rom. xv. 14). But now to make a market of our knowledge, or to use it for our vile ends, that is naught. Not for boasting, ostentation, curiosity, and vain speculation, but for practice, should be our end. When we improve our stock well, we please God, and shall have eternal profit ourselves.
SERMON XXIX. VERSE 28.-My soul melteth for heaviness : strengthen thou me ac
cording to thy word. A Christian should neither be humbled to the degree of dejection, nor confident to the degree of security; and therefore he is to have a double eye, upon God, and upon himself; upon his own necessities, and upon God's all-sufficiency. You have both represented in this verse (as often in this Psalm) his case, and his petition.
Ist, His case is represented, “My soul melteth for heaviness."
2ndly, His petition and request to God : “ Strengthen thou me according to thy word.”
First, His case, “My soul melteth for heaviness.” In the original the word signifies, “droppeth away.” The Septuagint hath it thus : “My soul fell asleep through weariness.” Probably by a fault of the transcrib. ers, one word for another. My soul droppeth. It may relate (1.) to the plenty of his tears, as the word is used in Scripture : “My friends scorn
me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God” (Job xvi. 20), or droppeth to God, the same word; so it notes his deep sorrow and sense of his condition. The like allusion is in Joshua vii. 5 : “ The heart of the people melted, and became as water.” Or, (2.) It relates to his languishing under the extremity of his sorrow; as an unctuous thing wasteth by dropping, 80 was his soul even dropping away. Such a like expression is used in Psalm cvii. 26 : “ Their soul is melted because of trouble ;” and of Jesus Christ, whose strength was exhausted by the greatness of his sorrows, it is said, Psalm xxii. 14, “ I am poured out like water, all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst of my bowels.” Be the allusion either to the one, or to the other ; either to the dropping of tears, or the melting and wasting away of what is fat and unctuous, it notes a vehement sorrow, and brokenness of heart, that is clear; his soul was even melting away; and unless God did help him, he could hold out no longer.
DOCTRINE.—That God's children oftentimes lie under the exercise of such deep and pressing sorrow as is not incident to other men.
David expresseth himself here as in a languishing condition, which is not ordinary : “My soul droppeth or melteth away for heaviness.” · The reasons of the point are three :
1. Their burdens are greater.
3. Their exercise is greater, because their reward and comfort is so great.
Ist, Their burdens are greater than others, a3 temptation, desertion, trouble for sin. The good and evil of the spiritual life, is greater than the good and evil of any other life whatsoever. As their joys are unspeakable and glorious, so their sorrows are sometimes above expression: “A wounded spirit who can bear ?" (Prov. xviii. 14.) Common, natural courage will carry a man through other afflictions; Oh ! but when the arrows of the Almighty stick in their heart (Job vi. 4), that is an unsupportable burden. According to the excellency of any life, so are the annoyances, and the benefits of that life. Man, that hath a higher life than the beasts, is more capable of delights and sorrows, than beasts are of pain and pleasure ; and so a Christian that lives the life of faith, he is more capable of a higher burden. Consider, they that live a spiritual life, have immediately to do with the Infinite and Eternal God; and, therefore, when he creates joy in the heart, Oh, what a joy is that! and when God doth but lay his hand upon them, how great is their trouble! Sin is a heavier burden than affliction; and the wrath of God, than the displeasure of man. Cælestis Ira quos premit miseros facit, humana nullos. Evils of an eternal influence, are more than temporal, therefore must needs be greater and more burdensome.
2ndly, They have a greater sense than others, their hearts being entendered by religion. None have so quick a feeling as the children of God; why? because they have a clearer understanding, and more tender and delicate affections.
1. Because they have a clearer understanding, and see more into the nature of things than those that are drowned in present delights and contentments. The loss of God's favour carnal men know not how to value; but the saints prefer it above life: the favour of God is better than life (Psalm lxii. 3); therefore, if the Lord do but suspend the wonted manifesta.