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TO THE READER.
CHRISTIAN READER, The ensuing exposition and discourses are intended for the benefit of those, whose spiritual state and condition is represented in the psalm here explained. That these are not a few, that they are many; yea, that to some part or parts of it, they are all who believe, both the Scriptures and their own experience will bear testimony. Some of them it may be will inquire into, and after, their own concernments as they are here declared. To be serviceable to their faith, peace, and spiritual consolation, hath been the whole of my design. If they meet with any discovery of truth, any due application of it to their consciences, any declaration of the sense and mind of the Holy Ghost in the Scriptures suitable unto their condition, and useful to their edification, much of my end and purpose is obtained. I know some there are that dislike all discourses of this nature, and look upon them with contempt and scorn. But why they should so do, I know not, unless the gospel itself, and all the mysteries of it be folly unto them. Sin and grace in their original causes, various respects, consequents, and ends, are the principal subjects of the whole Scripture, of the whole revelation of the will of God to mankind. In these do our present and eternal concernments lie, and from and by them hath God designed the great and everlasting exaltation of his own glory. Upon these do turn all the transactions that are between God and the souls of men. That it should be an endeavour needless, or superfluous, to inquire into the will of God about, and our own interest in, these things, who can imagine? Two ways there are where
by this may be done. First, speculatively, by a due investigation of the nature of these things, according as their doctrine is declared in the Scripture. An endeavour according to the mind of God herein, is just and commendable, and comprehensive of most of the chief heads of divinity. But this is not to be engaged in for its own sake. The knowledge of God and spiritual things have this proportion unto practical sciences, that the end of all its notions and doctrines consists in practice. Wherefore, secondly, these things are to be considered practically, that is, as the souls and consciences of men are actually concerned in them, and conversant about them. How men contract the guilt of sin, what sense they have, and ought to have, thereof, what danger they are liable unto thereon, what perplexities and distresses their souls and consciences are reduced to thereby, what courses they fix upon for their relief; as also what is that grace of God whereby alone they may be delivered; wherein it consists, how it was prepared, how purchased, how it is proposed, and how it may
be attained; what effects and consequents a participation of it doth produce; how in these things faith and obedience unto God, dependance on him, submission to him, waiting for him, are to be exercised; is the principal work that those who are called unto the dispensation of the gospel ought to inquire into themselves, and to acquaint others withal. In the right and due management of these things, whether by writing, or oral instruction, with prudence, diligence, and zeal, doth consist their principal usefulness in reference unto the glory of God, and the everlasting welfare of the souls of men. And they are under a great mistake, who suppose easy and a common matter to treat of these practical things usefully, to the edification of them that do believe. Because both the nature of the things themselves, with the concerns of the souls and consciences of all
sorts of persons in them, require that they be handled plainly, and without those intermixtures of secular learning, and additions of ornaments of speech, which discourses of other natures may, or ought to be composed and set off withal; some judging by mere outward appearances, especially if they be of them from whom the true nature of the things themselves treated of are hid, are ready to despise and scorn the plain management of them, as that which hath nothing of wisdom or learning accompanying of it, no effects of
any commendable ability of mind for which it should be esteemed. But it is not expressible how great a mistake such persons, through their own darkness and ignorance, do labour under. In a right spiritual understanding, in a due perception and comprehension of these things, the things of the sins of men and grace of God, consists the greatest part of that wisdom, of that soundness of mind, of that knowledge rightly so called, which the gospel commands, exhibits, and puts a valuation upon. To reveal and declare them unto others in words of truth and soberness, fit and meet to express them unto the understandings of men opened and enlightened by the same spirit, by whom the things themselves are originally revealed to derive such sacred spiritual truths from the word, and by a due preparation to communicate and apply them to the souls and consciences of men, contains a principal part of that ministerial skill and ability, which are required in the dispensers of the gospel; and wherein a severe exercise of sound learning, judgment and care [are) necessary to be found, and may be fully expressed. Into this treasury, towards the service of the house of God, it is, that I have cast my mite in the ensuing exposition and discourses on the hundred and thirtieth psalm. The design of the Holy Ghost was therein to express and represent in the person and condition of the psalmist, the case of a soul entangled, and ready to be overwhelmed
with the guilt of sin, relieved by a discovery of grace and forgiveness in God, with its deportment upon a participation of that relief. After the exposition of the words of the text, my design and endeavour hath been only to enlarge the portraiture here given us in the psalm, of a believing soul in and under the condition mentioned ; to render the lines of it more visible, and to make the character given in its description more legible; and withal to give unto others in the like condition with the psalmist, a light to understand and discern themselves in that image and representation, which is here made of them in the person of another. To this end have I been forced to enlarge on the two great heads of sin and grace; especially on the latter, here called the
forgiveness that is with God.' An interest herein, a participation hereof, being our principal concernment in this world, and the sole foundation of all our expectations of a blessed portion in that which is to come; it certainly requires the best and utmost of our endeavours, as to look into the nature, causes, and effects of it, so especially into the ways and means whereby we may be made partakers of it; and how that participation may be secured unto us unto our peace and consolation; as also into that love, that holiness, that obedience, that fruitfulness in good works, which, on the account of this grace, God expecteth from us, and requireth at our hands. An explication of these things is that which I have designed to ensue and follow after in these discourses, and that with a constant eye, as on the one hand to the sole rule and standard of truth, the sacred Scriptures, especially that part of it which is under
peculiar consideration ; so on the other to the experience and service unto the edification of them that do believe, whose spiritual benefit and advantage without any other consideration in the world, is aimed at in the publishing of them.
Ver.1. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord.
2. Lord, hear my voice; let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
3. ' If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand ?
4. ' But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
5. 'I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
6. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning; I say, more than they that watch for the morning
7. Let Israel hope in the Lord: for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.
8. · And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.'
Ver. 1, 2.-0 Lord, through my manifold sins and provocations I have brought myself into great distresses. Mine iniquities are always before me, and I am ready to be overwhelmed with them, as with a flood of waters; for they have brought me into depths, wherein I am ready to be swallowed up. But yet, although my distress be great and perplexing, , I do not, I dare not, utterly despond and cast away all hopes of relief or recovery. Nor do I seek unto any other remedy, way, or means of relief, but I apply myself to thee, Jehovah, to thee alone. And in this my application unto thee, the greatness and urgency of my troubles makes my soul urgent,