« הקודםהמשך »
to this salutary purpose. The contemplation of a cruci. fied Saviour, is an excellent mean to assist you in crucifying the flesh. When your appetites solicit any unlaw. ful indulgence, remember him who had not even the common accommodations of nature. When your flesh requires ease and pleasure, think of bim who pleased not, or minded not himself, but for your sakes submitted to hunger and thirst, weariness and watching, pain and reproach, and at last to an ignominious death. When riches inflame your desires, reflect on the history of Je. sus, " who, though he was rich, for your sakes became poor, that ye through his poverty might be made rich." When the desire of applause, or the fear of censure from man, tempt you to desert the path of duty, then remember bim, who for you made himself of no reputation, gave his head to be crowned with thorns, and his body to be arrayed with the garb of derision, and was suspended on a cross in the company of malefactors. In all these views, let your eyes be directed to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Above all, depend much on the grace of God, and pour out your souls in fervent supplications for the Spirit of Promise, by whose assistance alone you can mortify the deeds of the body, and crucify the flesh, with its affections and lusts. Principles of philosophy may restrain our evil passions; but pothing less than the Omnipotent power of divine grace can overcome them. Plead, therefore, earnestly, that he who is now ascended up on high, and hath received gifts for men, may grant you every needful supply in this difficult warfare; that so when you have fought the good fight, and overcome your evemies, both within and with. out you, you may be publicly acknowledged and acquit. ted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly happy in the full enjoyment of God for ever. Amen.
PSALM iv. 6, 7.
There be many that say, Who will shew us any good?
LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine in. creased.
THE chief distinction between a child of God and a man of the world, lies in the prevailing tendency of their desires. Both of them are engaged in the pursuit of happiness. But the one aims at nothing higher than the present gratification of his appetites, while the other rises above this world, and aspires at the supreme felicity of bis immortal nature. The one seeks information from every quarter concerning the object of his pursuit; the other asks the blessing directly from the Giver of all good. The one seeks a happiness separated from God: the whole earth, without the light of God's countenance, would appear to the other a barren wilderness, and a place of exile.—I propose, in discoursing on this subject,
First, To make a few remarks on the Psalmist's description of these opposite characters.
Secondly. To illustrate the two following propositions which naturally arise from the text, namely, Tbat worldly men have little cause to rejoice in the temporal advantages which they possess; and that the light of God's countenance is sufficient to gladden the heart of a saint in all circumstances whatsoever.
The illustration of these particulars will give rise to a practical improvement of the subject.—Let us,
First, Attend to the description of worldly men in the first part of the 6th verse, “There be many that say, Who will shew us any good ?"-It is obvious, in the
1st place, That this question betrays a great degree of inward dissatisfaction and perplexity. They speak like men who have no relish for what they possess, and who are utterly at a loss to what hand to turn to for enjoyment. They do not ask, Who will shew us the chief good? But, “ Who will shew us any good 3” any thing to fill up the craving vacuity of our minds: a plain intimation that hitherto they have been miserably disappointed in their pursuits, and that at the time of the question, they cannot find any thing in their lot that deserves the name of good. They are upacquainted with happipiness, though they have been always in search of it, and neither know wherein it consists, nor bow it is to be obtained. It deserves our notice,
2dly. That the only good which they inquire for is some present sensible enjoyment, which may be pointed out to the eye of sense, and may be immediately laid hold of. “ Who will show us any good?" They are strangers to the operation of that faith, which is - the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." They look not " at the things which are unseen and eternal;" their views are confined within the narrow limits of this present life; and they covet no other portion than they suppose may be found in the world of sense. It may be observed,
3dly. That they make no discrimination of the objects which they seek after. Any good will be welcome to them; let it be good food, or good clothing; a good estate by lawful means, or a good estate by any means
whatever; a good bargain in business, or a good booty by theft or plunder: no matter what it is, provided it gives them pleasure in the mean time, or relieves them from the irksome labour of thinking on themselves, and on the great end for which they were made.-Once more, in the
4th place, You observe, that amidst all their dissatisfaction with their present state, and their eager desires after something better, they do not turn their thoughts at all to God, but seem rather determined to banish the remembrance of him from their minds. They seek counsel from others, but none from him: they inquire at weak and erring mortals like themselves, but they neither ask wisdom nor grace from God.
Such is the representation which the Psalmist gives us of the temper and of the language of worldly men. He further tells us, that the character of which he gives this description was a common one in his time: “ There be many that say, Who will shew us any good ?” And it is but too apparent, that multitudes of men do still exhibit the same temper. They have no relish for spiritual and divine enjoyments; their only care is, “ What they shall eat, and what they shall drink, and wherewithal they shall be clothed.”_" They labour abundantly for the meat which perisheth, but not at all for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life.” And though they meet with repeated disappointments in every new expe. riment; yet instead of seeking after happiness where it is alone to be found, they still renew the fruitless search among the creatures around them, and cry out with as much keenness as ever, “Who will shew us any worldly good ?”
Let us now turn our eyes to a different object, and consider the temper of a child of God, as it is beautifully
described by the Psalmist. Whilst others say,
* Who will shew us any good?” the language of his heart is, “ Lord lift thou opon me the light of thy countenance." He, too, seeks what is good; for the desire of happiness is common to all.-- But you will observe,
1st, That it is not any good that will satisfy him : he " cannot feed upon husks; it is a real and substantial good that he seeks after. Nay, it is the chief good. He disdains the thought of having any thing less than this for the portion of his soul. He knows that all other sources of enjoyment are no better than “ broken cisterns, which can hold no water;" adapted indeed to supply the wants of the body, but in no respect suited to the immortal spirit, either as the objects of its choice, or the sources of its happiness.-And as nothing can satisfy him but a real and permanent good, so we find,
2dly, That he knows where that good is to be found. He has no need to solicit information from every one he meets. He knows that the favour of God, and the sense of bis loving kindness, are the only sources of true bappiness. Here therefore he fixeth bis choice, and is perfectly satisfied that he is right in doing so.
The worldly mind is in a state of perpetual fluctuation. Having no determinate object in view, it runs wild in pursuit of every delusive image of good; and when disappointed in one object, only feels a more intense desire to seek its gratification in another.
But the enlightened mind seeth vanity engraved in deep and legible characters, on all things below the sun; and therefore looks beyond and above them for its portion, saying with the devout Psalmist, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth whom I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.” -I observe, in the