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apprehension of the Lord's way of justifying the ungodly, and from the force of Satan's temptations, who is exceeding busy to press all these things upon the heart, their mouths are stopped likewise. They cannot believe, and therefore they cannot speak. However, there are seasons and intervals when they obtain a little glimpse of hope, and then the whole desire of their souls is expressed in the words of my text, “ O Lord, open thou my lips, and my

my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.”

II. I proceed to consider what may be included in this case, what it is to have the mouth stopped. The persons I have mentioned have the same liberty of speech in common affairs as others; but, because they cannot converse freely with him who, notwithstanding all their doubts, and fears, and follies, still maintains a secret hold of their souls, they account themselves no better than dumb. They cannot speak to the Lord, nor of him, nor for him, as they wish and ought to do. These are the three heads of their complaint, and therefore they sigh, and say, “ O Lord, open thou my lips.”

1. Alas! says the believer that has sinned, and lost his strength, “ O that it was with me as in times past*!” I well remember when I had freedom of access, and found it good to draw near to my God; when I could pour out all my complaints and cares before him, and leave them with him. I remember the time when my heart was overwhelmed within me, and my spirit was burdened t. I saw myself a wretched, helpless sinner. Innumerable evils took hold of me. I thought I was marked out for destruction.

I found Satan at my right hand, waiting for a permission to seize my soul, and

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make me his prey for ever* I looked round, but saw no way to escape, and gave up all for lost. But, O! I remember, when none in heaven or earth could help me, how the Lord drew .“ near to me in the day of

my distress t, and said unto my soul, Fear not, I “ am thy salvation.” He revealed himself as an almighty, suitable Saviour. He said, “ Deliver him from

going down to the pit, I have found a ransom [.”. “ He brought me out of the horrible pit, and miry clay, “and set my feet upon a rockq."

“ He brought me “ into his banqueting-house, and his banner over me “ was love. I sat down under his shadow with great " delight, and his fruit was sweet unto my taste |l.” This was the beginning; but it was not all. Many a gracious visit he favoured ine with afterwards. Othe sweet hours of secret prayer ! O the happy communion in which I walked with him all the day long! “ Then " in the multitude of thoughts within me, his comforts “ refreshed my soul **.” Then I could smile at Satan's rage, and face a frowning world. Every blessing of common providence was doubly welcome, for I could read his name of love written upon it: and every affliction brought resignation and peace, because I saw my Father's hand in it, and found at a throne of

grace newed strength always suited to my need. Happy were those times : but, alas! they are gone. I could hardly then persuade myself that I should be moved any more. I little thought there was such desperate wickedness in my heart, that, after so much experience of his goodness, I should foolishly wander from him again. But, ()! what a change have I lived to see! I have grieved that

re:

Job, xxxiii. 24.

* Zech. iii. 1.

Psal. xl. 2.

+ Lam. iii. 57. Il Cant. ii. 3, 4.

** Psal. xciv. 19.

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good Spirit of God by which I was sealed, and now I find myself in the hands of my enemies. The Lord hides himself, and stands afar off; and I have lost the

prayer. Those precious promises which once were the joy of my soul, which I could boldly plead at the throne of grace, and say, all these are mine, have no longer any power or sweetness; I read them, but I cannot feel them; and my trials and sins, which once I could cast upon my Saviour, and find instant relief, are now a heavy burden, too great for me to bear. Mercies have lost their relish, and afflictions have lost their usefulness; since neither the one nor the other are of force to stir up my soul to prayer, “ thou my lips."

I remember likewise, when I had this freedom in speaking with God, how pleasing it was to me to speak of him. My heart was full, and running over with a sense of his goodness, so that it was my meat and drink

“ Come unto me all you that fear God, and I “ will tell you what he hath done for my soul*.” Then the company of his people was delightful indeed. The meanest of his children that would sit and hear me speak of his loving kindness, was precious to me: I esteemed them the excellent of the earth t, in whom was all my delight. “We took sweet counsel together, " and walked to the house of God in company I.” And I thank God I love them still ; but I can neither help them, nor be helped by them, as in times past. In vain they say unto me, Come, sing us one of the songs of “ Zion. Alas ! how can I sing the songs of the Lord "in a strange land ? My harp is hung upon the wil

lows, my tongue cleaveth to the roof of my mouth ."

to say,

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| Psal. lv, 14.

* Psal. lxvi. 16. + Psal. xvi. 4.

Psal. cxxxvii. 3-5.

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I dwell in darkness and silence; as those who have been long dead. “O Lord, open thou my lips.”

And when I could thus speak to God, and of him, I had likewise liberty to speak for him.

" I was then very jealous for the Lord of hosts * It wounded 'my soul to hear his name profaned, to see his commandments broken, and his Gospel slighted. I had a tender concern for poor sinners. I could not but wish, that, if possible, every person I met might know what I knew, and feel what I felt. And especially where I had friendship and influence, I was ready to improve it to the best purpose.

“ The love of Christ constrained me " to lay myself out for his services.” I could not but oppose sin and self-righteousness, and plead the cause of my Saviour upon every occasion.

" I was not "ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for I felt it the

power of God unto salvation in my own soul," and durst recommend it to every one, as the only balm for sin and sorrow. But now

But now " the crown is fallen from my head; woe unto ine that I have sinned!" I am shut out from the fountain, and all my streams are dried up. My comforts and my usefulness are declined to: gether. “O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth “shall show forth thy praise.”

Such is the complaint of the backslider in heart, when he is filled with his own ways.

And, 2. This, with a little variation, will suit the doubting, tempted soul too. These will confess, that the experience I have described is the desire of their hearts. Such communication with God, such a freedom in his ways, such a zeal for his service, is the very thing they mean, when they entreat the Lord to open their lips. - And indeed they cannot, they dare not deny, but they have at times had some little tastes of them, otherwise they would not know what I mean. For these things are to the natural man the merest folly imaginable; he understands them not, therefore he despises them; nay, he hates them with a perfect hatred, and opposes them with all his heart. . But still they complain under a present burden. One dark hour of temptation blots out all the traces of comfort they have known, and they refuse consolation. They will insist on it, I have neither part nor lot in the matter; I cannot get near him, and I fear I never shall. When I attempt to pray, a sense of my sins and sinfulness stops my mouth. I see the Lord not upon the golden mercy-seat, but upon the fiery throne of justice, and I am ready to call upon the rocks and mountains to hide me froin his presence.

1 Kings, xix. 10. + 2 Cor. v. 14. Rom. i. 16. $. Lam. v, 16,

When I would commune with his people, I am silenced by that dreadful word, “What "hast thou to do, to declare my statutes, or to take my

covenant into thy mouth*?” When I would bear my feeble testimony for him in the world, conscience alarms me, and says, “ Thou that teachest others, teachest “ thou not thyself†?” And then “ The enemy comes "in like a flood ,” with, “ God has forsaken him;

persecute and take him, for there is none to deliver “ himg.” Thus, “ I spend my days in groaning, and “ water my couch with tears ll."

This is a heavy case indeed ; and would be insupportable, but that the faithful Shepherd, in a secret unseen way, affords timely succour, and sets bounds to the raging enemy, beyond which he cannot pass. “ Hitherto shalt thou come **;" thus far thou art per

senyo Psal. I. 16.

Psal. lxxi. 11.

+ Rom. ii. 21.
|| Psal. vi. 6.

Isa. lix. 19.
** Job, xxxviii. 11.

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