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and solid happiness: In his favour is life, and in the enjoy * ment of communion with him, there is real pleasure, and un
speakable happiness. If we cause him to hide his face from us, our minds will be covered with clouds, our hands hang down, our spirits will droop and our souls languish: But while we walk uprightly, the Lord will be our sun; he will shine upon, and greatly comfort us; we shall walk in the light of his countenance, shall have clearer and yet clearer manifestations of his love towards us, and our souls shall rejoice in the God of our salvation: Following our blessed Master, we shall have the light of life, according to his own word.
The sun shines upon, ripens, and perfects all the fruits of the earth, and makes them meet for the service of man and beast, for whom they were intended. So the Lord Jesus Christ shines upon the soul who walks uprightly, ripens, yea perfects all our graces, and we also are brought forward to a state of spiritual maturity or manhood. We grow up in all things into him who is our living Head, even into Christ Jesus, and we árrive at the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: So that we may say of these happy souls, " Blessed are the people who are in such a case, yea, blessed are the people who have the Lord for their God.
Read where we will in the sacred Scriptures, and we shall see, that it is the design of the blessed God thai we should be holy, happy, and prosperous. Every thing is said there which can be said, to comfort and encourage us, to give us clear and enlarged views of the mercy and love of God, in Christ Jesus, and of his willingness to save and to bless us. The truth of this will appear, if we only consider the words of the text; for if there were no other promise but this in the whole Bible, it is sufficient to convince us that the Lord hath pleasure in the prosperity of those who fear him, and that the persons to whom this promise is fulfilled, are both happy and prosperous; happy in the enjoyment of God, and quickened and comforted by the Holy Ghost, they will be fruitful in every good word and work.
Let us now consider the second of those promises, " The Lord God is a shield to the upright.”
From these words it appears, that as our Lord would have us to live in a state of prosperity, so he would have us live in a state of safety, The metaphor made use of is different from the former, and consequently something every different is intended thereby.
A shield was a weapon of defence; it was made of something impenetrable; and by a proper use of it, the soldier de.
I will " Fear not,
fended his whole body from those poisoned darts and arrows, which were formerly used in the day of battle. So in this promise the Lord assures us, he himself will be our shield; and it so, all the fiery darts of the devil can do us no harm.
The upright followers of God are (while in this world) in an enemy's country; they are exposed to danger on every side, from the world, the flesh, and the devil; they have sworn allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Captain of their Salvation; and as spiritual soldiers, they have solemnly and sacredly engaged to fight under his banner, against all liis, and their enemies, all the days of their life. But as the Lord never sends any one a wartare at his own cost, and as our spiritual enemies are too wise, and too powerful for us to encounter with, in our own wisdom or strength, our graci. ous Lord promises to assist us in every respect, so that we have no just cause to be discouraged, or to think we shall be cast down or confounded. He said to his faithful servant Moses, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest;" and he hath made the same promise to us, " never leave thee, nor forsake thee:” And again, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee, with the right-hand of my righteousness.” Having the presence of God when our enemies assault us, surely we have no reason to fear: but like David, when going forth against Goliah of Gath, we may boldly face them. He hath promised, that " as our day, so our strength shall be," or what is the same thing, his
shall be sufficient for us." In consideration of this, David could say, "The Lord girdeth me with strength unto the battle," and in this strength he was a conqueror. So the design of God is, that every Christian soldier should always conquer in the hour of trial; and we dishonour our Captain when we do not. Israel never turned iheir backs upon their enemies, till they first turned their backs upon their God: He always made good his promise, and gave them the victory while they trusted in him, and walked in his ways. Thus will the Lord deal with us: "He who walketh uprightly, walketh surely;" he shall not, cannot be cast down or confounded, for the Lord his God is with him, and he hears the shout of a King, even the King of Sion himself, whose word, like a trumpet, sounds in his ears, and through his heart, saying, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him," and if so, what can the great red dragon do?
Agreeable to the words of our text, the Lord spake unto Abraham, the father of the faithful, and the friend of God, and said, “ Fear not Abraham, for I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” And no doubt these words are as true, and as full of spiritual comfort and encouragement, as they respect Abraham's spiritual children, as they were with respect to Abraham himself. . We should therefore fix it in our minds, as a certain truth, that however great the danger may be to which we are exposed, the Lord intends to deliver us from it: However many in number, or mighty in power, our enemies are, the Lord designs to defend us from them: That notwithstanding all the fiery darts which may be cast at us, he will be our shield.
2. For the trial of our faith and patience, and that we may have clearer, and more extraordinary displays of his power and goodness, he may permit us to have great and sore conflicts with our enemies, and we may have many a narrow escape: And if we do not keep the promises of God in view, we may say as David once did, when his soul was hunted like a partridge upon the mountains, “I shall one day fall, by the hand of Saul.” Here unbelief prevailed; David lost sight of the promise of God, and therefore reasoned in a very improper manner: He had met with so many narrow escapes, that he thought, "I shall be taken by the hand of Saul at last.” He ought rather to have said, Surely the Lord hath appeared for me, and hath wonderfully delivered me once and again; he hath made good what he hath promised hitherto, I will therefore trust in him, for he will continue to deliver. At another time he could say, “ The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom then shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? Though an host should lencamp against me, yet will I not fear; though war should rise up against me, in this will I be.confident."? Here we see faith in exercise, giving the soul clear views of the truth and faithfulness of God, and of consequence, filling the mind with that confidence in him which banishes all painful fear, and gives us a lively hope that deliverance is at hand.
4 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath thee are the everlasting arms; he shall thrust out the enemy before thee, and shall say, Destroy!" What a truly astonishing passage of Scripture is this! And can we believe that the Lord will be true to his word? He certainly will. Then he who walks uprightly, has a special regard to every gracious declaration which the Lord hath made; and knowing him to
be a God of truth, and that he should dishonour him, if he was to disbelieve his word; by the hand of faith, he lays fast hold upon the promise of God, well knowing that he cannot glority him more, than by firmly believing every gracious word which he hath spoken, and by resting assured that he will make it good. Surely herein shall the Lord our God be glorified, when we believe that he is as wise, as merciful, as gracious, as powerful, and as ready to help us, as he himself hath declared he is, so that we may cast our every care upon hiin.
If the eternal God himself is my refuge, then let Satan assault me, if he will; can he drive me from my refuge? Not if I walk uprightly. If the everlasting arm of Jehovah is beneath my soul, can I sink while that is the case? Surely
If the Lord will drive out my enemies before me, surely they shall not be able to make head against the Almighty Godi And if the Lord is my shield, hath the enemy got a fiery dart which can penetrate through it? That cannot be.
There is only one point for us to secure, and that is, to walk uprightly before God; to labour to get as clear views of God's all-sufficiency, of his truth, power, mercy, and love, as possible; to keep the eye of our mind fixed upon the promises; to expect the accomplishment of them; and to irust in the Lord with our whole soul, at all times, in all places, and on all occasions; and while we do this, we shall gain a daily victory, and in due time, shall sing with good old Deborah, when looking back upon the spiritual conflicts which we have passed through, "O my soul, thou hast trodden down strength.” O yes; weakness itself, through the mighty power of God, has trodden down all the strength of the prince of darkness: and notwithstanding the ten thousand fiery darts that the enemy of our souls hath shot at us, the Lord hath been our shield all the way through, and we shall escape to the land of uninterrupted peace, rest, and happiness.
The third promise, in the order in which the words stand, is this, “ The Lord will give grace." Whether we consider this word as signifying the favour of God, or the renewing influences of his Holy Spirit, or both the one and the other, it is certainly a very blessed promise: Grace is that which makes us both holy and happy, at the same time: Grace fits us for the service of God here upon earth, and prepares us for the enjoyment of him, in his everlasting kingdom: Grace experienced in the mind, is a sure earnest of eternal glory; so that it is the greatest blessing which God can bestow upon bis creatures on this side heayen: And nothing is more cer
tain, than that every truly gracious soul shall one day be te. ceived up into a state of inconceivable glory; for grace and glory are so connected by the Lord himself that they can never be disjoined. But there are great numbers, who are wishing and vainly hoping to go to heaven, who never once thought of obtaining the sanctitying grace of God, in the present world; thinking, that if they can only get safe to heaven, at any rate, they shall be happy enough; never once considering, that in the nature of things, they must either be made meet for the eternal inheritance, or they cannot enjoy it ; they must either have an heavenly disposition, or heaven itself cannot make them happy, supposing they could get there.
But every upright man has experienced the grace of God already. We have before seen, that uprightness, properly speaking, can have no existence, till we experience a work of grace in our own minds.
Here then we have a promise which holds out to us an increase of grace, a promise that secures to us a sufficiency of grace; so that we may be saved at all times, and saved to the uttermost thereby.
" And we," (saith St. John,) "out of his fulness have received, and grace for grace:" Or as some say, grace upon grace; or as others, the abundance of grace.
As doing and suffering the will of God, includes all that we have occasion to exercise the grace of God in, while in this world, we may consider this promise, as it respects both the one and the other. As to our doing the will of God, he would that we should serve him not out of constraint, but with a chearful and ready mind; and we find that divine grace has this happy effect upon those who enjoy it; and it will follow that the larger measure of grace we are blest with, the more pleasing will the service of God be.
The enlightening grace of God convinces us, that every command of God is holy, just, and good; and in this light, we see that he requires us to part with nothing for his sake, but what would be an hindrance to our happiness; and he calls us to follow only that which has a natural tendency to make us holy and happy. "In keeping thy commandments,” saith the Psalmist, “there is great reward.” The way of holy obedience being that, in which the Lord will fulfil all the promises of his word. This promise secures to us a sufficiency of grace, so to purify our hearts, that every part of our duty may be our delight, so that the commandments of God may no longer be grievous to us." Grace is intended to remove from the soul every thing which opposes
the will of God, every thing that indisposes, or renders us reluctant