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Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.—Ver. 129.
IN the words are two parts—
1. The dignity and excellency of God’s testimonies, thy testimonies are wonderful.
2. The effect it had upon David’s heart, therefore doth my soul keep them.
Accordingly two points—
Doct. 1. That the testimonies of God, when duly considered and thoroughly understood, will indeed be found to be wonderful.
Doct. 2. The wonderful excellency of the word should beget in our hearts a readiness and diligent care to keep it.
Doct. 1. The testimonies of God are wonderful.
1. The word in itself is wonderful, as containing truths of a sublime nature.
2. It is wonderful in its effects; as it produceth effects rare and strange.
1. In itself considered, it is sometimes called the mystery of faith, as it containeth principles of faith; and sometimes a mystery of godliness, as it containeth rules of practice. As it is a mystery of faith, there are many strange doctrines in it above the reach of man’s capacity, which we could neither invent nor understand, unless we be enlightened by the Spirit of God; as that three to be one, and one to be three; God to be made man, &c.; these are riddles to a carnal mind. And as it is a rule of faith, still it offereth matter of wonder, the duty of man being represented with such exactness and comprehensiveness: Ps. cxix. 96, ‘I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.’
2. What rare effects it produceth: where it is entertained it maketh a Christian become a wonder to himself and others.
[1.] A wonder to himself: 1 Peter ii. 9, ‘He hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.’ There is no man converted by the word of God but hath cause to wonder at his own estate, at the condescension of God in plucking him as a brand out of the burning, or that woful condition wherein he was before, when others are left to perish: John xiv. 22, ‘Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world?’ And then that we are brought into the possession of such excellent privileges as we enjoy in our new estate, peace that passeth all understanding, Phil. iv. 7, joy unspeakable and full of glory, 1 Peter i. 8; privileges greater than can be imagined or expressed. So are their hearts ravished in the sense of their reconciliation with God and communion with him. So also in giving them such an undoubted right to an everlasting blessed estate in the heavens: 1 Cor. ii. 9, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’ He hath promised them a happiness which they can never think of, but every day they must fall a-wondering anew; and all this wrought by an exceeding great power working together with the word, Eph. i. 19; as Peter wondered at his own deliverance, when chains and gates and bars did all give way to the power of the angel that brought him forth: Acts xii. 9-11, ‘And he went out, and followed him, and wist not that it was true that was done by the angel, but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth into the city, which opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street, and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.’ So may every one that is converted to God stand wondering, when he considereth how, from whence, and to what he is called by God; all this is wonderful indeed. There is more of God seen in inward experiences than in outward; in converting, comforting, quickening, and carrying on the work of grace in our own hearts, than in governing the courses of nature; therefore the apostle appealeth to this internal power, Eph. iii. 20, ‘Unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.’ He instanceth in that which God hath done for us in Christ, which is beyond our prayer, conceptions, and hopes; transcending the hopes and apprehensions of the most enlarged hearts. Thus is a Christian a wonder to himself.
[2.] He is a wonder to the world, if he keep up the majesty and vigour of religion: 1 Peter iv. 4, ‘Wherein they think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.’ It was strange to them that they should be altered so of a sudden, that of filthy puddles they should become clear as crystal waters; a sink turned into a pure fountain. That men should live above interests of nature, row against the stream of flesh and blood, this is all strange to the world; and this is the fruit of the word; for ‘the word of God is perfect, converting the soul,’ Ps. xix. 8. Every grace is a mystery and wonder; especially faith, for a man to believe that which he understandeth not, to hope for that he seeth not, to have that which he wants; to be tossed with tempests, and yet to enjoy a sweet calm in our own hearts; to be destitute of all things, and yet be as little anxious as if we indeed had all things; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things; to be a rock in the midst of a storm; as dying, and yet we live: 2 Cor. iv. 8, 9, ‘We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;’ 2 Cor. vi. 10, ‘As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.’ Thus is a believer the world’s wonder, a very riddle to carnal sense. So in other graces; he can hate father and mother for Christ’s sake, can also love enemies at Christ’s command. He that doth even break his heart for the least sin can bear up against the greatest trouble.
Thus I might exemplify the point, but I must go a little largely to work.
1. God’s testimonies are wonderful in their majesty and composure, which striketh reverence into the hearts of those that consider; it speaketh to us at a God-like rate. Jesus Christ leaves a character of his divine Spirit upon his words: Mark vii. 28, 29, ‘And it came to pass when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine; for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.’ There was an impression of his authority upon his word, his hearers were convinced of a sovereign majesty proper to the dignity of his person. Those that went to take him returned this account, John vii. 46, ‘Never man spake like this man,’ for authority, power, and evidence. Now the scriptures being Christ’s doctrine, why should they not have the same power, authority, and divine character in them? It is the same doctrine; the voice could add nothing to it, and the writing take nothing from it. Could not God discover his sovereign majesty in writing as well as speaking? Look into the scriptures; are you not even compelled to say, This can be no other but the word of God? They speak not as conscious of any weakness, or as begging assent, but as commanding it. Thus saith the Lord, hear it, or ye are undone for ever. The wisdom, majesty, authority of the author showeth itself in every line almost of scripture. Longinus, a heathen, admired the majesty of that passage, γενέσθω καὶ ἐγένετο. Indeed, everywhere there is great authority mixed with simplicity and plainness of speech, such as moveth reverence and awe in the consciences of men. It may be it is not seen in every phrase and clause of a sentence, but it is clearly discovered in the whole frame; as the majesty of a man’s countenance is not so fully discovered in any one part of the face as in the whole visage taken jointly together. Scriptura sic loquitur, saith Austin, ut altitudine superbos irrideat, profunditate attentos terreat, veritate magnos pascat, affabilitate parvos nutriat—scripture so speaketh that it laughs proud and lofty men to scorn with the height of it; with the depths of it it terrifieth those who with attention look into it; with truth it feedeth men of greatest knowledge and understanding; with affability and sweetness it nourisheth babes and sucklings. Let a man have but anything of a prepared mind, and he cannot contain his wonder and reverence, but will tremble at the word of God: Isa. lxvi. 2, ‘To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.’
2. It is wonderful for the matter and depth of mystery, which cannot be found elsewhere, concerning God and Christ, the creation of the world, the souls of men, and their immortal and everlasting condition, the fall of man, &c. Here God is set forth to us in the clearest representation that we are capable of in this mortal state. God is in part seen in the creatures: Rom. i. 20, ‘For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.’ Everything that hath passed his hand discovereth some what of the author and maker of it. But as imperfectly as God is discovered there, we cannot behold him without wonder and reverence, if we use never so little of an attentive mind; those strictures of God that are seen in man’s body—Galen wondered when he saw a man’s hand—the sun, moon, and stars; yea, a gnat, yea, a pile of grass: but these discoveries are not to be compared with the scriptures revealing the glory of God in the face of Christ: 2 Cor. iv. 6, ‘For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ.’ If we wonder at so much of God as we find in a gnat, shall not we wonder much more at so much of God as we find in his law, in his gospel, in the whole economy and frame of his gracious dispensations? Besides that, the scriptures help us to interpret the book of the creatures: they show forth more of God than all the creatures can do; the book of nature is an imperfect piece in regard of the book of scripture. You cannot look upon the book of the creatures, but in every page and line of it you will find this truth presented to your eyes, that there is an infinite eternal power that made all things; this is enough to leave the world without excuse. But in the book of the word, you may see more of God, and the way how to enjoy him. In the 19th psalm David doth first admire the glory of God by the beauty of the heavens, then by the light of the word. By reason the heathens found out πρῶτον αἴτιον τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τῆς ταξεως πάσης, a first mover and a first cause; but when and how the world was made they were left in uncertainties, which was first, the egg or the hen, the oak or the acorn: Heb. xi. 3, ‘Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things that do appear.’ A child is taught more than they could find out by their profound researches. So concerning the fall of man, conscience will inform us of a distinction between good and evil; and heathens, by the light of nature, could speak of virtue and vice as moral perfection and a deordination; but nothing of sin and righteousness relating to a covenant; and whence this mischief began they knew not. They complained of nature as of a stepmother, observed an inclination to evil more than to good, that vices are learned without a teacher, that man is born into the world crying, beginneth his life with a punishment; but the first spring and rise of evil was a secret to them, but clearly discovered to us: Rom. v. 12, ‘Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.’ Man’s restitution and redemption by Christ is wonderful indeed: 1 Tim. iii. 16, ‘And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.’ This could not be found by man; how could they know the free purposes of God’s grace unless God revealed them? This is the mystery of mysteries, which angels desire to pry into, 1 Peter i. 12. So excellent and ravishing a mystery is this plot of salvation of lost sinners by Christ incarnate, that the very angels cannot enough exercise themselves in the contemplation of it. So union with Christ, and communion with him, a mystery that nature could never have thought of. God’s keeping a familiar correspondence with his creatures, God’s dwelling in us, our dwelling in God: 1 John iv. 13, ‘Hereby we know that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.’ Words we should not dare to have used if God had not used them before us; it would have looked like blasphemy to speak so, if we had not the warrant of scripture. So the resurrection of the body, and life eternal, they are all wonders: 2 Tim. i. 10, ‘But is now made manifest by the appearance of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light, through the gospel.’ Heathens might dream of a life after death, but could never under stand it distinctly. It is brought to light. Their wise men saw it, like the blind man who saw men walking like trees, or a spire at a distance, no clearness, no certainty: Lord, ‘thy testimonies are wonderful.’
3. It is wonderful for purity and perfection. The decalogue in ten words compriseth the whole duty of man, and reacheth to the very soul and all the motions of the heart. All the precepts of morality are advanced to the highest perfection. Those fragments and sorry remainders of the light of nature, that have escaped out of the ruins of the fall, will show us the necessity of a good life. But the word of God calleth for a good heart, a regeneration as well as a reformation, not only abstaining from acts of sin, but lusts: 1 Peter ii. 11, ‘Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, that ye abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.’ Not only the outward work, but the spirit, that is weighed in the balance of the sanctuary: Prov. xvi. 2, ‘All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.’ It mightily establisheth faith, fear, and love to God, as the essential graces. When we consider duty in the lump, we have no admiring thoughts; but when we look abroad into all the parts and branches of obedience whereunto the law diffuseth itself, then the holiness which the law requireth is admirable; then we see it no easy matter to serve this holy and jealous God; it is no easy matter to go to the bottom of this perfection.
4. It is wonderful for the harmony and consent of all the parts. All religion is of a piece, and one part doth not interfere with another, but conspireth to promote the great end of subjection of the creature to God. The law hath a mighty subserviency to the gospel, and the first covenant shutteth up the sinner immediately under the curse, that mercy may open the door to him. The gospel is first darkly revealed, and still it groweth as the light doth till noonday. At first an obscure intimation, ‘The seed of the woman;’ to Abraham, ‘In thy seed,’ which after was repeated to Isaac to cut off Ishmael; then to Jacob, to cut off Esau; yet not what tribe: Gen. xlix, 10, ‘The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor the lawgiver from between his feet, till Shiloh come;’ yet not what family of Judah; to David: 2 Sam. vii. 13, ‘I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever;’ then Isa. vii. 14, ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and call his name Emmanuel;’ then John the Baptist, John i. 29, ‘Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world,’ points with a finger to Christ. Thus while in short the scriptures do so set forth the mercy of God as that the duty of the creature is not abolished, so offers grace as not to exclude our care and use of means; justification and sanctification promote one another, all is ordered with good advice: 2 Sam. xxiii. 5, ‘Although my house be not so with God, he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure.’ Thus the wonderful harmony, order, and consent of all the parts with respect to the great end, which was the glorifying of God and the subjection of the creature, demonstrates the wonderfulness of God’s testimonies, the glorifying of God’s grace and mercy in those that are saved, and his justice in those that are damned. With respect to this, God made man upright, furnished with abilities to do his will; but mutable, and, in case of a fall, to begin with a new covenant. He will have his mercy honoured without prejudice to his justice; the comfort of the creature established, so as duty not abolished; not all of commands, nor all of promises, but these inter woven, that they may serve one another. A promise at the back of a command, to make it effectual; command besides a promise, to cause humbling; neither looseness nor rigour. If the covenant had been left to our ordering, it had been a confused business. Now it is wonderfully suited; God keepeth up his dominion and sovereignty, notwithstanding his grace and condescension; justice hath full satisfaction, yet grace glorified.
5. Wonderful for the power of it.; There is a mighty power that goeth along with the word of God, and astonisheth the hearts of those that consider it and feel it: 1 Thes. i. 5, ‘Our gospel came to you not in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Ghost.’ By this power it doth not only fill the head with notions, but pierceth the heart, alarms the conscience, awakens the affections: Heb. iv. 12, ‘The word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.’ This power was seen in the wonderful success of that doctrine and religion which the scriptures do establish. It hath diffused and spread itself like leaven in the mass and lump, through out all parts of the known world, within the space of thirty or forty years or thereabouts. Hesterni sumus, saith Tertullian, et tamen omnia vestra implevimus, urbes, insulas, castella, municipia, conciliabula, castra, tribus, decurias, palatium, senatum, forum; sola vobis relinquimus templa—We are but of yesterday, and yet how are we in creased! Christians are found in all places, cities, villages, isles, castles, free towns, councils, armies, senate, markets; everywhere but in the idol temples. Such a wonderful increase and success was there in a short time! The apostle: Col. i. 6, ‘The word of the truth of the gospel is come unto you, as it doth to all the world, and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you.’ The doctrine itself is contrary to nature; it doth not court the senses, nor woo the flesh; it offereth no splendour of life, nor pleasures, nor profits; but biddeth deny all these things, and expect persecution: Mark xvi. 21, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.’ It only telleth us of spiritual comforts, and the recompenses of another world. Mahomet allures his followers with fair promises of security and carnal pleasure; there wind and tide went one way. Man is credulous of what he desireth; but Christ telleth us of denying ourselves, taking up the cross, cutting off right hand, and plucking out right eye, rowing against the stream of flesh and blood, bearing out sail against all the blasts and furious winds without: here is nothing lovely to a carnal eye. This was the doctrine. It taught the proud world humility: the uncharitable world love of their enemies; the unchaste world that a glance is adultery: Mat. v. 25, ‘Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart;’ the revengeful world to turn the other cheek to the smiter; the covetous man to be liberal, not to cark and take thought for worldly things, but to lay up treasures in heaven; the dissolute world to walk circumspectly in all godliness and honesty. The persons and instruments that were to manage the doctrine were in the world’s eye contemptible: a few fishermen, destitute of all worldly props and aids; of no power, wealth, secular wisdom, authority, and other such advantages as are apt to beget a repute in the world; yet they preached, and converted many nations, though they had no public interest, were not backed with the power of princes, as superstitions are wont to prevail by their countenance and example: ‘Every one seeketh the ruler’s face;’ but the gospel had gotten firm footing in the world long ere there was a prince to countenance it; there were many to persecute it, none to profess it. As the instruments were poor, so the persons that received their message: James ii. 5, ‘Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, which he hath promised to them that love him?’ 1 Cor. i. 26, ‘Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.’ When destitute of worldly succours and supports, it held up head. Ne videretur authoritate traxisse aliquos, et veritatis ratione, non pompae gratia praevaleret, saith Ambrose. It was much it should hold up head; yea, the powers of the world against it, bonds and sufferings and deaths did abide for them everywhere that professed this way. Horrible tortures; never did war, pestilence, and famine sweep away so many as the first persecutions; poor Christians were murdered and butchered every where; yet still they multiplied, as the Israelites did in Egypt, under oppression; or as a tree lopped sends forth more sprouts. As without worldly interests; they had not such gifts of art, eloquence, and policy as the world with whom they had to deal; all was carried on in a plain way, without pomp of words. Paul was learned, but he laid aside his ornaments, lest the cross of Christ should he of none effect: 1 Cor. ii. 4, 5, ‘And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.’ They were to deal with men of excellent parts and learning, some of which received the gospel. This plain doctrine was set afoot in that part of the world where arts and civil discipline most flourished at that time, and were in their ἀκμή. Thus as Aaron’s rod devoured the magicians’ serpents, so was the gospel too hard for the wisdom of the world: it prevailed not by force of arms and the power of the long sword, as all dotages do, and superstitions are planted; but ‘overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death,’ Rev. xii. 11. Christ’s sword is in his mouth: Ps. viii. 2, ‘Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.’ This way seemed to the world a novel way; they were leavened with prejudices, and bred up by long custom, which is a second nature, in the worship of idols: 1 Peter i. 18, ‘Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers.’ Men keep to the religion of their ancestors with much reverence. Christ did not seize upon the world as a waste is seized upon for the next owner. The ark was to be set up in the temple that was already occupied and possessed by Dagon. Before Christ could be seated in the government of the nations, first Satan was to be dispossessed, and superstitions received by a long tradition and prescription of time were to be removed, the wolf hunted out. Thus the power great.
But this is past and gone. There is a wonderful power that goes along with the word.
[1.] A power to humble and terrify those that scoffed at the miracles: Acts ii. 37, ‘When they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?’ The word can do that which a miracle cannot; make the stoutest hearts relent and yield. One instance more: Acts xxiv. 25, ‘And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled.’ Mark the disadvantage; the prisoner maketh the judge tremble, the man none of the tenderest, a pagan, and to boot an obdurate sinner; but Paul by his power caused these. Terrors of conscience, which are raised by the word, all wicked men feel not, but soon may; they fear them that feel them not: John iii. 20, ‘For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.’ Conviction in one of these spiritual agonies exceeds all natural passions; fears of the wrath of God scorch more, and breed more restlessness and disquietness to the soul, their thoughts become a burden to them: ‘He is convinced of all, and judged of all; and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest, and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth,’ 1 Cor. xiv. 24, 25. His sins revived, the poor creature lieth grovelling.
[2.] There is a converting and transforming power in the word of God: Rom. i. 16, ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth,’ Thes. i. 9, ‘For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God;’ from a false to a true, a bad to a better. Men brought up in a false religion, there is much ado to take them off: ‘Have any nations changed their gods?’ Though their worship be never so vain and foolish, yet this power the word hath, even over those that have been rooted and habituated in superstitious customs. The gods they had prayed to in their adversities, praised in their prosperity, deprecated their anger when any judgment upon them, magnified their goodness when any good received, built them temples, offered them gifts; must they break those images, destroy those temples, deny those gods? How dear idols are, Rachel’s stealing away her father’s images clearly showeth, Gen. xxxi. 34. She was one of them that built God’s Israel, yet she hath a hankering after her father’s idols. No humours so obstinate and stiff as those that are found in religious customs. They accused Stephen for changing the customs Moses delivered, Acts vi. 14; and Paul, that he taught customs which were not lawful for Romans to observe, Acts xvi. 21. Certainly it is a very hard thing to bring men out of an old religion into a new one. Again, the converting of man from a state of nature to a state of grace, so that they are, as it were, born again: James i. 18, ‘Of his own will begat he us, with the word of truth; that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creation.’ It is a hard matter to change natures, to turn a lion into a lamb: Isa. xi. 6, ‘The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.’ Yet this will the gospel do, make him that resembleth the devil in his contempt of God, envy, revenge, to be like Christ; I say the gospel doth it: 2 Cor. iii. 18, ‘But we all with open face 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.’ To bring us to love what we naturally hate, and to hate what we naturally love; that the heart should be turned from all creatures, himself and all, to God; that they should be induced to turn from the creature to God, to seek out happiness in him; from self to Christ, from sin to holiness; that God’s desires should be our desires, his will our will, his delights our delights; the natural heart is averse from this: Rom. viii. 7, ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.’ That the hearts, spirits, dispositions of men should be turned upside down: 1 Cor. vi. 9-11, ‘Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God;’ Isa. lv. 13, ‘Instead of the thorns shall come up the fig-tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle-tree.’ A mighty change wrought, to be changed not only in their lives, but natures.
[3.] In comforting poor distressed souls. Their sore runneth upon them, and their soul refuseth comfort, when they have all things in the world; but yet as there are no sorrows like wounds of conscience for degree, so no comforts: groans unutterable, so joys unutterable: nothing left that will comfort; it is as the whole of their joy. The reviving of poor wounded spirits is one of the greatest wonders in the world. Creatures can do nothing, reason and human discourse can do nothing; it proceedeth from the apprehension of God’s wrath provoked by sin: Job xxxiii. 23-25, ‘If there be an interpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness, then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom: his flesh shall be fresher than a child’s; he shall return to the days of his youth.’ Nothing but the covenant of his peace will still such a soul; a scripture wound will only be cured by scripture plasters. He that puts the soul on the racks of conscience can only release us: ‘I create the fruits of the lips to be peace;’ Jer. vi. 16. ‘Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls;’ Mat xi. 28, 29, ‘Come unto me. all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’
[4.] The confirming and strengthening power of the word, that we may despise the world, encounter all difficulties and discouragements, and to be cheerful as the martyrs were in the midst of flames, all the oppositions of Satan: 1 John ii. 14, ‘I have written unto you young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one;’ Acts xx. 32, ‘And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among them that are sanctified.’ In the word of his grace God hath assured us of the great privileges of Christianity, support and defence here, and glory here after; and that is a mighty strengthening to the soul, and maketh a Christian also glorious and becoming all those hopes and promises that are given him.
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