« הקודםהמשך »
PS AL. xxx. 6, 7, 8.
In my prosperity I said, I Jbill never be moved. Lord, by thy favour thou baft made my mountain to It andstrong: Thou didst hide thy face, and I ■was troubled. 1 cried to thee, 0 Lord: and unto the Lord I made supplication.
Or, as it is in the translation now ustd in otus church:
In my Prosperity, I said, 1 shall never be removed: Thou, Lord, of thy goodness hadst made my h lisa strong. Thou didst turn thy face from me, and 1 was trubled. Then cried 1 unto thee, O Lord, and gat me to my Lord right humbly.
THE collection of pfalms, which make a part of the daily service of the church, is on no account more valuable than this, that therein the heart of holy David (the man after God's ewn h'urt) is laid open and naked before us: The several postures of his devout soul in all conditions and circumstances of life; his hopes and fears, his desires and aversions, his joys and griess, are there displayed with great simplicity and freedom: All his insirmities and defects are distinctly registered; the false judgments he made of things are owned i and the methods pointed out by which he rectisieth them. And these accounts of himself are very instructive and useful to all suchas serious^ ly peruse and study them, and arc desirous of improving proving themselves in piety and virtue, by the means of so admirable a pattern.
One great instance of this kind we have in the words of the text; wherein the good Psalmist acknowledges and condemns the foolish thoughts, which a reflexion on the prosperous state of his affairs had sometimes occasioned in him: In my prosperity 1 said (that is, vainly said), //ball never />e moved 1 Thou, Lord, os thy goodness hadst ma^'e my hit so strong! or, according to the reading of the LXX. which seems more signisicant, haft adard Jirength to my dignity ! He proceeds to Ihew, how God began to punish this vain elation of mind, by withdrawing his favours: Thou didst turn thy face srom me. and I .was troubled: And then, how he entitled himself.to the continuance of the divine protection and goodness, by "humiliation and prayer: I cried unto Thee, O Lord, and gat me to my Lord right humbly."
Our successes have been very great and surprising; and our hearts, I sear, have been but too much lifted up by the means os them. So that we have reason to humble ourselves before God (as we now do) by fasting and prayer; lest he should punish our misuse os his mercies, by stopping the course of them.
I fliall speak therefore not unsuitably either to the design of these words, or to the occasion of this assembly, if I consider,
I. What ill effects great prosperity usually hath on the minds of a people; tempting them to fay within themselves, as the Psalmist did, in the K 2 like like case; We/ballnever he moved; 7»sa, Lord, ef thy goodness i haft made our hill lo strong.
II. How vain, and sinful, these imaginations are: For holy Z>»t//i/, by his way of mentioning, plainly condemns them.
III. What the consequence of them often is r They provoke God to stop the current of his goodness towards us: He hueth his face, and uie are troubled.
» IV. In what manner are we to behave ourselves^ in order to secure the continuance of the divine favour and protection: We must cry unta the Lorii, and get yourfetues to our Cod right humbly.
I. Good men know very well, that we are hera in a state of discipline and trial; that we are to pass through things temporal to things eternal, and that nothing therefore can be reckoned good or bad to us in this life,. any. further than it prepares or mdispoies us for the enjoyments of another. £ nd yet they over-look this great truth, in the judgments they generally pass on the several states of adversity and prosperity. The temptations and difficulties, that attend the formei? of these, they can easily see, and dread at a distance; but they have iw apprehension, no suspicions, of the dangerous consequences of the latter. And yet it is certain, that the temptations of prosperity are the most mischievous and fatat of the two; insinuating themselves after a gentle,
hat very powerful manner, so that we are bnt little aware of them, and Ids able to withstand them. Wise.ffw, theresore, equally diredtx his petition against both these extremes; Give me (fays he) neither poverty nor rides: wfi (on the one side) / be poor an.' ste.il or (on the other) / be full and deny ties, and fy, Who is the Lord! And, according to this pattern, hath our church taught us to pray that God would, not only & all time of our tribulation, but in all time os our wealth also, be pleased to deliver us.
Indeed, a state of great prosperity and abundance, as it exposes us to various temptations, and furnishes us with all manner of opportunities and encouragements to linr so ie is often prelxidicial to us, on this account (particularly mentioned in the text); that it swells the mind wkhi undue thoughts and opinions, renders us secure and careless, proud, vain, self-sufficient: banishes from our thoughts a lively fense of religion* and of our dependence on God; and puts us upon so eager a pursuit of the advantages of lise that are within our reach, or view, as te leave us neither room nor inclination to reslect on the great Author and Uestower of them. We do. then, more than at any other time, lie open to the impressions of flattery; which we admit without scruple, because we think we deseive it; and, that we may* be sure not to want it, we take care to flatter ourselves with imaginary scenes and prospects of future happiness: We like our present circumstances well, and dream os no change, but for the better: not doubting but that " to-morrow shall be as this day,, and much more
« abundant," Ifa. lvi. 12. We fay, « We shall "die m our nests, and multiply our days as the "fand; that we shall never be removed, God in "his goodness having made our hill so strong!" Job xxix. 18.
And this enchanting power, which prosperity hath over the minds of private persons, is more remarkable in relation to great states and kingdoms; where all ranks and orders of men, being equally concerned in public bleffings, equally join in spreading the infection that attends them; and they mutually teach, and are taught, that lessoa of v^in considence and security, which our corrupt nature, unencouraged by example, is of itself but too apt to learn. A very prosperous people, flushed with great victories and successes, are rarely known to consine their joys within the bounds of moderation and innocence; are seldom so pious, so humble, so just, or so provident, as they ought to be, in order to perpetuate and increase their happiness: Their manners wax generally more and more corrupt, in proportion as their blessings abound; till their vices perhaps give back all those advantages which their victories procured, and prosperity itself becomes their ruin.
Of this the people of Israel were a very signal and instructive instance. As never any nation upon earth was blessed with more frequent and visible interpositions of divine providence in its behalf; so none ever made a worse use of them: For no sooner were they at any time delivered out of the hand of their enemies, and established in peace and plenty, but they grew careless, dissolute ,