« AnteriorContinuar »
cious God is concerned. Nor need we be at all perplexed with any thing of this kind, while we have the word of God on our side. Let those then, that have the one thing needful in view, fix the whole desire of their soul upon it, as the holy Psalmist did; and then seek it, by earnest and continued prayer, and in every other means of
grace: And above all, let them seek it as the free gift of God, and therefore to be obtained by faith; and they will find, to their unspeakable comfort, that the promise of God shall be fulfilled to them.
It then follows, “ That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life." That I
may steady, constant, spiritual worshipper of God. But why did he desire this? Why certainly that he might be brought to enjoy all the blessings, which an infinitely kind and gracious God bestows upon his spiritual worshippers. And if any one will say, But David could not have any such blessing in view, in desiring to dwell in the house of the Lord, as you have been speaking ot.” Supposing he had not, because he only lived under the Jewish dispensation, which we well know was by no means so glorious, as that of the Gospel; yet it does not follow, that no Christian believer ought to have that end in view, merely because David had not. Surely our desires in the worship of God, ought to rise as much above David's, as our dispensation exceeds in light and grace, that which he lived under. But it is not quite so clear, that David had not the full salvation of his soul in view, when he thus expresses the longing desire of his heart after the worship of God, as it is certain that he, in another place, prays for purity of heart, and that in a very high degree,
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” And again: “Cre. ate in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” So that it seems as if David was one of those highly-favoured souls, who through the abounding mercy and love of God, were enabled to rise above the light of the dispensation, which they lived under.
He certainly had a very great value for divine ordinances; else, considered as a great and powerful Prince, he would not have said, “A day in thy courts is better than a thousand: I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, ihan dwell in the tents of wickedness."
O how unlike the king of Israel are the general part of ihę rich and great ones of the earth, in the present day? These look upon religion, and the worship of God too often, with an eye of contempt and disdain. They look upon religion as unworthy their notice, and leave it for the ignorant vulgar to amuse themselves with; and they look upon religious people with the utmost contempt. But O! what a change will those unhappy people find, when they will be obliged to leave their sumptuous and magnificent houses, and go down to the dreary regions of the tomb; nay, to the dark and dolorous realms of ever. lasting misery! But although many of the rich, yea many among all ranks and degrees of men, slight and neglect the ordinances of God, and many more use them to no good or valuable purpose, but are mere formalists; yet those who have a proper regard for the one thing needful, who wish that all the wise and gracious designs of God should be fulfilled in them, will have the same value for divine ordinances that David had. There is a remnant still, who have that regard for the Gospel of Christ, and the privileges thereof, that I am persuaded they would much sooner consent, the sun should be taken out of the firmament of heaven, than that the Gospel should be taken out of the world: Yea, there are those who have that regard for the Gospel, that if it was to be taken out of the world, they would not wish to live in it another day. These would tell you at once, “ If the Gospel is taken away, what have I left to comfort me, or to make life at all desirable ? o what a dreary desert would this poor world be to my soul!” There are some who are friends to the Gospel, who are not thus minded, but stand reproved here; namely those, who for no other reason, but that they may gain greater riches, will so extend their worldly business, that they really have little or no time to wait upon God in his house, except it be on a sunday. They have their hands, hearts, and heads, full of business all the year round; so that they have no time to spare. Others there are, who merely from worldly considerations, will remove to so great a distance from the house of God, that it is with great difficulty that they can attend there at all. How these persons will reconcile their conduct to the words of our Lord, is not for me to say: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and all these temporal things shall be added unto you."
But the real Christian is wiser, and therefore as he well knoweth, that all divine ordinances were instituted by the blessed God, for our spiritual and eternal advantage; he who instituted them always did, and always will, make thern wells of salvation to his spiritual worshippers; that all the blessings of the New Covenant, all the unsearchable riches of Christ, yea all the salvation of God, shall be freely and graciously given to those who wait upon him in his appointed way. Therefore, they see that it is their highest wisdom and only happiness to draw near to God, and worship at his feet, in humble, earnest expectation of obtaining, at his blessed hand, all that he hath promised in his holy word.
The design of God in bringing us into his family, (the church,) and in giving us a desire to worship him in the beauty of holiness, is not sufficiently attended to. This surely is a design worthy of an infinitely wise and gracious God: He intends to train us up for heaven, to fit us to live in the full enjoyment of himself, and in the blest society of angels, and glorified happy spirits for ever, and he will teach us every spiritual lesson, which it is necessary for us to learn, so shall we sing the songs of Sion, with holy pleasure and sacred delight; and above all, he intends to communicate that measure of grace to. our minds, which will bring us into an holy, spiritual, heavenly state, while we are in this world, that when he shall call us away, we may be found meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.
This being the design of God, we see at once that it is our highest wisdom to devote ourselves wholly to him; and having a sacred regard for all the ordinances of his house, to attend upon them constantly, with this simple intention to receive at his bountiful hand, every blessing purchased by the blood of our gracious Redeemer. And what abundant encouragement hath he given us! Havving said, that "they who wait upon him, shall renew their strength, so that they shall mount up with wings, as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” And again, “ Where two or three are met together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” He being present in the power of his Spirit, every part of his worship shall answer the end for which it was instituted. While we sing the praises of our God, our hearts shall be raised from earth to heaven: We shall be sweetly and most delightfully drawn towards our proper centre; towards the fountain of all peace and happiness, the God whom we delight to worship. While we unite with the saints and servants of the Lord, in serious, solemn, fervent prayer, our souls shall get upon their watch-tower, and there attend to the voice of God. The intercourse will be open between heaven and our souls, we shall be blessed with free access to the throne of God, and shall find that freedoin of mind, that holy enlargeinent, which is best known by those who cleave unto the Lord with full purpose of heart.
The word will be altended with divine power to our minds; and faith, and the increase of faith shall come by hearing: The unsearchable riches of Christ will be set before us, all the sacred treasures of his love shall be unfolded, and our souls will be encouraged and emboldened, to embrace and receive what we see to be so freely offered to us in the Gospel. Our judgment will be rightly informed in the things of God, our minds more fully enlightened, fresh desires are kindled in our hearts, and we are actually brought nearer to God, and are made more like unto him.
These things considered, it is not to be wondered at, that all good men, in all ages of the world, have very highly valued the ordinances of God, and that they do so at this day. Well may these say with David, “That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of
That I may ever be so circumstanced, so situated, and above all that my mind may always be so disposed, that I may delight in drawing near unto the God of my salvation.
He then adds, “ That I may see the beauty of the Lord, and enquire in his temple.” It is plain David was no outward court worshipper, he was no formalist: He wanted to enjoy the presence of that gracious God, whom he worshipped. He was of the same mind with Moses, who prayed for the same thing, “And the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us." Do not these holy men, by the beauty of the Lord our God, mean the same thing with what St. Paul calls the glory of the Lord? “And we beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” Now this glass in which the Lord is graciously pleased to shew us his beauty, or his glory, is generally the clearest when we are waiting upon him, in his own house: We are then enabled to see bis beauteous mercy, his inconceivable love in Christ Jesus: His saving grace and sweet forgiving love is extended to us; we enjoy the happy fruit of it; a peace which passeth all understanding, in our own minds. But the beauty of
the Lord chiefly signifies his holiness; and to see his beauty then, will be io enjoy that coinmunion and fellowship with him, or to receive those divine communications from him, which have a direct tendency to sanctify the soul, or to impress the lovely image of God upon it. We may be said to see the beauty of the Lord, when we are favoured with his powerful and gracious presence in our religious assemblies, and when we ourselves are not only made sensible of it, but are truly profited thereby; when the Lord fulfils his gracious promise, where he has said that he will beautify the meek with salvation. Now we know, that nothing under heaven so beautifies the soul, so enriches, so ennobles, or aggrandizes the mind, as divine grace imparted; as this has a direct tendency to give us a holy, heavenly, yea a godlike disposition, so that as the Apostle says, “We have the mind of Christ." Let divine light shine into the understanding, and we are made truly wise, wise enough to know our own highest interests, and to have a proper concern for those things which beyond all others, are of the greatest importance. Let the peace of God take place in our conscience, and we are made truly happy, as we are zhen blest with such a view of the love of God in Christ Jesus towards us, that we can rejoice in him, as the God of our salvation; we are happy in the enjoyment of his favour, and safe under the wing of his protection: And let the love of God be shed abroad in our heart by the Holy Ghost which is giyen unto us, and we are made truly holy; being thereby renewed in the spirit of our mind, in the image of God, in which we were created. Thus we see the beauty of the Lord, while we enquire in his temple, the beauty of the Lord our God is upon us, he will beautify our souls with salvation.
Upon the whole, it may be said, with the greatest degree of truth, Blessed are the people who are in such a case, yea doubly blessed are they who have the Lord tor their God," who being brought into the marvellous light and glorious liberty of his children, continue stedfast therein, and who seeing the glorious privileges of the Gospel, are led to pursue them, still urging their way through all that would oppose them, pressing forward towards the mark, and reach. ing after the highest degrees of Christian salvation, looking to Jesus, the author, till he be the finisher of their faith.