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PART I - New York: Robert Carter, 1876


1. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law

of the Lord.

This most interesting and instructive Psalm, like the

Psalter itself, "opens with a Beatitude for our comfort and

encouragement, directing us immediately to that happiness,

which all mankind in different ways are seeking and in-

quiring after. All would secure themselves from the incur-

sions of misery; but all do not consider that misery is the

offspring of sin, from which therefore it is necessary to be

delivered and preserved, in order to become happy or


The undefiled character described in this verse marks,

in an evangelical sense, "an Israelite indeed, in whom is

no guile" (John, i. 47. Comp. Acts, xxiv. 16), not one

who is without sin, but one who in the sincerity of his heart

can say, "That which I do, I allow not." (Rom. vii. 15.)

As his way is, so is his "walk" —"in the law of the Lord."

He is "strengthened in the Lord, and he walks up and

down in his name" (Zech. x. 12); his "ears hearing a

* Bishop Home on Ps. i. 1.


word behind him, saying, This is the way, — walk ye in

it"—when he is "turning to the right hand or to the left."

(Isa. xxx. 21.) And if the pardon of sin, imputation of

righteousness (Ps. xxxii. 1, 2, with Rom. iv. 6-8), the com-

munion of saints, and a sense of acceptance with God

(1 John, i. 7); if protection in providence and grace

(2 Chron. xvi. 9. Job, i. 8, 10); and—finally and for

ever, the beatific vision (Matt. v. 8), are the sealed privi-

leges of his upright people, then there can be no doubt,

that "blessed are the undefiled in the way." And if tem-

poral prosperity (Josh. i. 7, 8. 1 Tim. iv. 8. 2 Chron.

xvii. 4, 5), spiritual renovation and fruitfulness (Ps. i. 2,

3), increasing illumination (John, vii. 17), intercourse with

the Saviour (Ib. xiv. 23; xv. 14, 15), peace within (Verse

165. Gal. vi. 16. Isa. xxxii. 17), and—throughout eter-

nity—a right to the tree of life (Rev. xxii. 14), are pri-

vileges of incalculable value; then surely "the walk in the

law of the Lord" is "the path of pleasantness and peace."

"Truly"—indeed may we say — "God is good to Israel,

even to such as are of a clean heart." (Ps. lxxiii. 1.)

But let each of us ask— What is the "way" of my

heart with God? Is it always an "undefiled way?" Is

"iniquity" never "regarded in the heart?" Is all that

God hates habitually lamented, abhorred, forsaken? "Search

me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my

thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and

lead me in the way everlasting." (Ps. cxxxix. 23, 24.)

Again—What is my "walk?" Is it from the living

principle of union with Christ? This is the direct — the

only source of spiritual life. We are first quickened in

him. Then we walk in him and after him. Oh! that

this my walk may be steady, consistent, advancing! Oh!

that I may be ever listening to my Father's voice—"I am

the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect!"

(Gen. xvii. 1.)

VERSE 2. 3

Is there not enough of defilement in the most "undefiled

way," and enough of inconsistency in the most consistent

walk" to endear to us the gracious declaration of the

gospel—"If any man sin, we have an advocate with the

Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous?" (1 John, ii. 1.)

2. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him

with the whole heart.

The "testimony," in the singular number, usually de-

notes the whole canon of the inspired writings—the reve-

lation of the will of God to mankind—the standard of

their faith. (Comp. Isa. viii. 20.) "Testimonies" appear,

chiefly, to mark the preceptive part of Scripture (Verse

138); that part, in which this man of God always found

his spiritual delight and perfect freedom. Mark his lan-

guage: "I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much

as in all riches. Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage

for ever; for they are the rejoicing of my heart." (Verses 14,

111.) Not, however, that this blessedness belongs to the

mere outward act of obedience;* but rather to that prac-

tical habit of mind, which seeks to know the will of God in

order to "keep" it. This habit is under the influence of

the promise of God, "I will put my Spirit within you, and

cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my

judgments, and do them." (Ezek. xxxvi. 27.) And in thus

"keeping the testimonies of God," the believer maintains the

character of one, that "seeks him with the whole heart."

Oh! how many seek, and seek in vain, for no other

reason, than because they do not "seek him with the whole

heart!" The worldling's "heart is divided; now shall he

be found faulty." (Hos. x. 2.) The professor "with his

mouth shows much love; but his heart goeth after his

* "Treasure up his testimonies."—Bp. Horsley.


covetousness." (Ezek. xxxiii. 31.) The backslider "hath

not turned unto me with his whole heart, but feignedly, saith

the Lord." (Jer. iii. 10.) The faithful, upright believer

alone brings his heart, his whole heart, to the Lord. "When

thou saidst, Seek ye my face, my heart said unto thee,

Thy face, Lord, will I seek." (Ps. xxvii. 8.) For he only

has found an object, that attracts and fills his whole heart,

and, if he had a thousand hearts, would attract and fill them

all. He has found his way to God by faith in Jesus. In

that way he continues to seek. His whole heart is engaged

to know and love more and more. Here alone the blessing

is enjoyed, and the promise made good: "Ye shall seek

me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your

heart." (Jer. xxix. 13.)

But let me not shrink from the question, Do I "keep

his testimonies" from constraint, or from love? Surely when

I consider my own natural aversion and enmity to the law

of God, and the danger of self-deception in the external

service of the Lord, I have much need to pray—"Incline

my heart to thy testimonies. Give me understanding—save

me, and I shall keep thy testimonies." (Verses 36, 125, 146.)

And if they are blessed, who seek the Lord with their whole

heart, how am I seeking him? Alas! with how much dis-

traction! with how little heart-work! Oh! let me "seek

his strength" in order to "seek his face." (Ps. cv. 4.)

Lord! search—teach—incline—uphold me. Help me

to plead thy gracious promise—"I will give them an heart

to know me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my

people, and I will be their God; for they shall return unto me

with their whole heart." (Jer. xxiv. 7.)

3. They also do no iniquity; they walk in his ways.

This was not their character from their birth. Once

they were doing nothing but iniquity. It was without mix-

VERSE 3. 5

ture, without cessation—from the fountain-head.* Now it

is written of them—"they do no iniquity." Once they

walked, even as others (Eph. ii. 2, 3. Col. i. 21), in the

way of their own hearts—"enemies to God by wicked

works." Now "they walk in his ways." They are "new

creatures in Christ; old things are passed away; behold!

all things are become new." (2 Cor. v. 17.) This is their

highly-privileged state—"Sin shall have no dominion over

them: for they are not under the law, but under grace."

(Rom. vi. 14.) They are "born of God, and they cannot

commit sin: for their seed remaineth in them, and they

cannot sin, because they are born of God." (1 John, iii. 9.)

Their hatred and resistance to sin are therefore now as

instinctive, as was their former enmity and opposition to

God. Not, indeed, that the people of God are as "the saints

made perfect," who "do no iniquity." This is a dream of

perfection—unscriptural and self-deluding. (Comp. Eccles.

vii. 20, with Job, ix. 20; Philip. iii. 12.) The unceasing

advocacy of their Heavenly Friend evidently supposes the

indwelling power of sin, to the termination of our earthly

pilgrimage. The supplication, also, in the prayer of our

Lord teaches them to ask for daily pardon and deliverance

from "temptation," as for "daily bread." (Matt. vi. 11-

13.) Yes—to our shame be it spoken—we are sinners

still; yet—praised be God!—not "walking after the

course," not "fulfilling the desires," of sin. The acting

* "Every imagination of the thoughts of the heart is evil—only

evil— continually." And this "God saw"— before whom "all

things are naked and open"—who searcheth the heart, and there-

fore cannot be mistaken. (Gen. vi. 5.)

But lest we should conceive this to be the picture of some

generation of so peculiarly aggravated a character, that the awful

demonstration of his wrath could be no longer restrained; this

testimony is repeated by the same Omniscient Judge, immediately

subsequent to the flood (Gen. viii. 21), and confirmed by him in

many express declarations. (Jer. xvii. 9, 10. Matt. xv. 19.)


of sin is now like the motion of a stone upward, violent and

unnatural. If it is not cast out, it is dethroned. We are

not, as before, "its willing people," but its reluctant,

struggling captives. It is not "the day of its power."

And here lies the holy liberty of the Gospel — not, as

some have feigned,— a liberty to "continue in sin, that

grace may abound" (Rom. vi. 1, 2) but a deliverance from

the guilt and condemnation of abhorred, resisted, yet still

indwelling, sin. When our better will hath cast it off—when

we can say in the sight of an heart-searching God—"What

we hate, that do we"—the responsibility is not ours: "It is

not we that do it, but sin that dwelleth in us." (Rom. vii.

15-20.) Still let us inquire, is the promise of deliverance

from sin sweet to us? (Ib. vi. 14.) And does our successful

resistance in the spiritual conflict realize the earnest of its

complete fulfilment? Blessed Jesus! what do we owe to

thy cross for the present redemption from its guilt and

curse, and much more for the blissful prospect of the glo-

rified state, when this hated guest shall be an inmate no

more for ever! (Rev. xxi. 27.) Oh, let us take the very

print of thy death into our souls in the daily crucifixion of

sin. (Rom. vi. 6.) Let us know the "power of thy resur-

rection," in an habitual "walk in newness of life." (Philip.

iii. 10. Rom. vi. 4, 5.)

4. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently.

We have seen the character of the Man of God. Let

us mark the authority of God, commanding him to a diligent

obedience. The very sight of the command is enough for

him. He obeys for the command's sake, however contrary

it may be to his own will. But has he any reason to com-

plain of the yoke? Even under the dispensation, which

"gendereth unto bondage" most encouraging were the

obligations to obedience —"that it may be well with them,

VERSE 4. 7

and with their children for ever." (Deut. v. 24. Comp.

Deut. vi. 17, 18; xxviii. 1, 2; Jer. vii. 23.) Much more,

then, we, under a dispensation of love, can never want a

motive for obedience! Let the daily mercies of Providence

stir up the question —"What shall I render unto the

Lord?" (Ps. cxvi. 12.) Let the far richer mercies of grace

produce "a living sacrifice" to be "presented to the Lord."

(Rom. xii. 1.) Let "the love of Christ constrain us."

(2 Cor. v. 14.) Let the recollection of the "price with

which we were bought," remind us of the Lord's property

in us, and of our obligations to "glorify him in our body,

and in our spirit, which are his." (1 Cor. vi. 19, 20.) Let

us only "behold the Lamb of God; "let us hear his

wrestling supplications, his deserted cry, his expiring

agonies—the price of our redemption; and then let us ask

ourselves — Can we want a motive?

But what is the scriptural character of evangelical

obedience? It is the work of the Spirit, enabling us to

obey the truth." (1 Pet. i. 22.) It is the end of the pur-

pose of God, who "hath chosen us in Christ before the

foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without

blame before him in love." (Eph. i. 4.) It is the only

satisfactory test of our profession. (Matt. xii. 33. John,

xiv. 15, 21.)

Then let me begin my morning with the inquiry,

"Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" "Teach me thy

way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth; unite my heart to

fear thy name." (Acts, ix. 6. Ps. lxxxvi. 11.) Let me

trade with all my talents for thee: ever watchful, that I

may be employed in thy work; setting a guard upon my

thoughts, my lips, my tempers, my pursuits, that nothing

may hinder, but rather everything may help me, in keeping

thy precepts diligently.

But why do I ever find the precepts to be "grievous" to

me? Is it not that some indolence is indulged; or some


"iniquity regarded in my heart;" or some principle of

unfaithfulness divides my services with two masters, when

I ought to be "following the Lord fully?" Oh! for the

spirit of "simplicity and godly sincerity" in the precepts of

God. Oh! for that warm and constant love, which is the

main-spring of devoted diligence in the service of God.

Oh! for a larger supply of that "wisdom which is from

above," and which is "without partiality and without

hypocrisy!" (Jam. iii. 17.)

5. Oh that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes!

The Lord has indeed "commanded us to keep his precepts."

But, alas! where is our power? Satan would make the

sense of our weakness an excuse for indolence. The Spirit

of God convinces us of it, as an incitement to prayer, and

an exercise of faith. If, Reader, your heart is perfect with

God, you "consent to the law that it is good;" you "delight

in it after the inner man" (Rom. vii. 16, 22); you would

not have one jot or tittle altered, mitigated, or repealed,

that it might be more conformed to your own will, or allow

you more liberty or self-indulgence in the ways of sin.

But do you not sigh to think, that, when you aim at the

perfect standard of holiness, you should, at your best mo-

ments, and in your highest attainments, fall so far below

it; seeing indeed the way before you, but feeling yourself

without ability to walk in it? Then let a sense of your

helplessness for the work of the Lord lead you to the throne

of grace, to pray, and watch, and wait, for the strengthen-

ing and refreshing influences of the Spirit of grace. Here

let your faith realize at one and the same view your utter

insufficiency, and your complete All-sufficiency. (2 Cor.

iii. 5.) Here behold Him, who is ever presenting himself

before God as our glorious Head, receiving in himself, ac-

cording to the good pleasure of the Father (Col. i. 18, 19),

VERSE 5. 9

the full supply for this and every successive moment of

inexpressible need. Our work is not therefore left upon

our own hands, or wrought out at our "own charges." So

long as "He hath the residue of the Spirit" (Mal. ii. 15),

"grace" will be found "sufficient;"— Divine "strength

will be made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. xii. 9.) "With-

out him we can do nothing" (John, xv. 5); "through him,

all things." (Phil. iv. 13.) Even the "worm Jacob shall

thresh the mountains," when the Lord says, "Fear not, I

will help thee." (Isa. xli. 14, 15.)

In connecting this verse with the preceding, how accu-

rately is the middle path preserved, equally distant from

the idea of self-sufficiency to "keep the Lord's statutes," and

self-justification in neglecting them! The first attempt to

render spiritual obedience will quickly convince us of our

utter helplessness. We might as soon create a world, as

create in our hearts one pulse of spiritual life. And yet

our inability does not cancel our obligation. Shall God

lose his right, because sin has palsied our ability? Is not

a drunken servant still under his master's law? and is not

the sin which prevents him from performing. his duty, not

his excuse, but his aggravation? Thus our weakness is

that of an heart, which "cannot be subject to the law of

God," only because it is carnal, "enmity against God."*

The obligation therefore remains in full force. Our in-

ability is our sin, our guilt, and condemnation.

What then remains for us, but to return the mandate

to heaven, accompanied with an earnest prayer, that the

Lord would write upon our hearts those statutes, to which

he requires obedience in his word? —"Thou hast commanded

* Rom. viii. 7. Comp. Gen. xxxvii. 4; John, viii. 43; v. 40;

2 Pet. ii. 14,—where the moral inability is clearly traced to the love

of sin, or the obstinate unbelief of the heart, and therefore is in-

excusable. The case of the heathen is traced to the same wilful

source. (Rom. i. 20-28.)


us to keep thy statutes diligently." We acknowledge, Lord,

our obligation; but we feel our impotency. Lord, help

us: we look unto thee. "Oh that our ways were directed to

keep thy statutes!" "Give what thou commandest; and

then command what thou wilt."* Now, as if to exhibit

the fulness and suitableness of the promises of the gospel,

the commands and prayers are returned back again from

heaven with promises of quickening and directing grace.

Thus does the Lord fully answer his end with us. He did

not issue the commands, expecting that we could turn our

own hearts to them; but that the conviction of our entire

helplessness might cast us upon him, who loves to be sought,

and never will be thus sought in vain. And indeed this is

a part of the "mystery of godliness," that in proportion as

we depend upon him who is alike, "the Lord our righteous-

ness," and our strength, our desire after holiness will in-

crease, and our prayers become more fervent. He who

commands our duty, perfectly knows our weakness, and he

who feels his own weakness is fully encouraged to depend

upon the power of his Saviour. Faith is then the principle

of evangelical obedience, and the promises of his grace

enable us for duty, at the very time that we are commanded

to it.† In this view are brought together the supreme

authority of the Lawgiver, the total insufficiency of the

creature, the full provisions of the Saviour, and the all-

sufficiency of "the God of grace." We pray for what we

want; we are thankful for what we have; we trust for

what is promised. Thus "all is of God." Christ "is the

Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first

and the last." (Rev. xxii. 13.) Thus "grace reigns" tri-

umphant. The foundation is laid in grace, and the head-

stone will be brought forth with shoutings, crying, "Grace,

* "Da quod jubes, et jube quod vis." ― Augustine.

† "Quod lex imperat, fides impetrat."

VERSE 6. 11

grace unto it." (Zech. iv. 7.) The Saviour's work is finished,

and Jesus is crowned Lord of all for ever.

6. Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all

thy commandments.

The Lord expects our obedience to be not only "diligent,"

but universal. Willingly to dispense with the least of the

commandments, proves that we have yet to learn the spirit

of acceptable obedience. (Matt. v. 19.) Grace is given and

suited for all, no less than for one of them, "that we might

walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing." (Col. i. 10.)

One lust "regarded in the heart" is sufficient to keep

possession for the tyrant, however others may be restrained.

Even Herod could "do many things;" and yet his adulter-

ous wife cherished in his bosom, too plainly proved the

sovereignty of sin to be undisturbed. (Mark, vi. 11-20.)

Saul slew all the Amalekites but one; and that single ex-

ception to universal obedience marked his unsoundness,

cost him the loss of his throne, and brought him under the

awful displeasure of his God. (1 Sam. xv. 12-23.) And

thus the corrupt unmortified member brings the whole body

to hell. (Mark, ix. 43-48.) Reserves are the canker upon

godly sincerity. A secret indulgence —"the rolling of the

sweet morsel under the tongue,"—"the part of the price

kept back" (Acts, v. 1, 2)— stamps our service as a rob-

bery, not as an offering. We may be free, sincere, and

earnest in many parts of our prescribed duty; but this

"root of bitterness" renders the whole an abomination.

Sincerity therefore must be the stamp of my Christian

profession. Though utterly unable to render perfect obe-

dience to the least of the commandments, yet my desire

and purpose will have respect unto them all. I shall no more

venture to break the least than the greatest of them; much

less shall I ever think of attempting to atone for the breach

of one by the performance of the rest. They are indeed


many commandments; yet — like links in a chain — they

form but one law; and I know who has said, "Whoso-

ever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point,

he is guilty of all." (Jam. ii. 10, 11.) However the pro-

fessor may confine his regard to the second table (as if the

first were ceremonial, or obsolete, or the regulation of the

outward man was the utmost extent of the requirement,) I

would fix my eye with equal regard to both, yet specially

marking any command in either of them; that may appear

most directly opposed to my besetting corruptions. Thus

walking in the fear of the Lord," I may hope to walk "in

the comfort of the Holy Ghost" (Acts, ix. 31); and

"hereby shall I know that I am of the truth, and shall

assure my heart before God." (1 John, iii. 19.)

But where, in my strictest walk, is my hope of accept-

ance, but in him, whose obedience has "fulfilled all right-

eousness" (Matt. iii. 15) in my stead, and whose death "has

redeemed me from the curse" (Gal. iii. 13) of my unright-

eousness, when repentance, prayers, and tears, would have

been of no avail? Yet it is only in the path of holiness

that we can realize our acceptance. (1 John, i. 7; ii. 5;

iii. 21, 24.) The heart occupied with this world's pleasure

knows nothing of this heavenly joy. Its brightness is

dimmed—its freshness fades —its life withers —in the

very breath of an unholy world. A godly assurance of the

present favour of God must be weakened by self-indulgence,

unwatchfulness, allowance of secret sins, or neglect of secret

duties. "If thou return to the Almighty"—said a wise

man—"thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity

far from thy tabernacles. Then shalt thou have thy delight

in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God." (Job,

xxii. 23, 26.)

Let us then carefully examine the character of our

assurance. Does it rest simply and exclusively upon the

testimony of the Gospel? Will it abide the test of the

word of God? Is it productive of tenderness of conscience,

VERSE 7. 13

watchfulness, and circumspection of conduct? Does it ex-

ercise our diligence in adding grace to grace, that we may

"make our calling and election sure," and that "an entrance

may be ministered to us abundantly into the everlasting

kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?" (2 Pet.

i. 5-11.) How boldly can we plead our Christian confidence

in the path of godliness —"I have stuck unto thy testimonies;

O Lord, put me not to shame. Let my heart be sound in thy

statutes, that I be not ashamed." (Verses 31, 80.)

7. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall

have learned thy righteous judgments.

The righteous judgments of God include the whole reve-

lation of his word ― so called — as the rule by which he

judges our present state, and will pronounce our final sen-

tence. (John, xii. 48.) David's attainments here seemed

to be as nothing. So much remained unlearned and un-

known, that he could only anticipate the time, when he

should have learned them. "Thy commandment"—he ex-

claims —"is exceeding broad." (Verse 96.) When the

Apostle, after twenty years' acquaintance with the gospel,

expressed it as the one desire of his heart —"That I may

know Christ" (Philip. iii. 10-14); evidently he entertained

the same humbling views of his high attainments, and the

same exalted apprehensions of the value of treasures yet

unexplored, and progressively opening before him. Thus

the wisest saints are only students in the Divine School.

Yet whatever their learning be, it casts them into the mould

and spirit of their doctrine. (Rom. vi. 17.) Conceit, how-

ever, of knowledge is the greatest enemy to knowledge, and

the strongest proof of ignorance; so that, "if any man

think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet

as he ought to know."—"He deceiveth himself." (1 Cor.

viii. 2. Gal. vi. 3.)


But what is the motive, that enlivens the believer in

this holy learning? Is it that he may live upon the airy

breath of human applause? No, rather that he may "praise

his God with uprightness of heart." When our mind is dark,

our lips are sealed. But when "he opens our understand-

ings" to "learn his judgments," he will next "open our lips,

and our mouth shall show forth his praise." (Ps. li. 15;

also verses 27, 171.) And this indeed is the end for

which "his people are formed" (Isa,. xliii. 21); for which

they "are called out of darkness into marvellous light."

(1 Pet. ii. 9.) This is the daily frame, in which our God

will be glorified.* Yet must we live as well as sing his

praise. "The praise of the upright heart will be shown in

the holy walk and conversation." (Ps. cxvi. 12-14.)

But let us watch, that our praise really flows "out of

the abundance" of what our hearts have "learned" of his

"righteous judgments." For do we not sometimes speak of

our Saviour with a secret lurking after self-exaltation?

May we not really be seeking and serving ourselves in the

very act of seeming to serve and honour him? Surely the

very thought of the selfishness that defiles our holiest

earthly praise, may well quicken our longings after that

world of praise, where the flame burns active, bright, inces-

sant; where we shall offer our sacrifices without defilement,

without intermission, without weariness, without end. (Rev.

iv. 8.)

8. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.

The resolution to "keep the Lord's statutes" is the na-

tural result of having "learned his righteous judgments." But

how happily does David combine "simplicity" of depend-

ence with "godly sincerity" of obedience! Firm in his

* Ps. 1. 23. For an example of the uprightness of heart in the

service of praise here alluded to, see 1 Chron. xxix. 13-18.

VERSE 8. 15

purpose, but distrustful of his strength, instantly upon

forming his resolution, he recollects that the performance is

beyond his power; and therefore the next moment, and

almost the same moment, he follows it up with prayer,

"I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly. Oh!

beware of self-confidence in the Christian course. We

stumble or advance, as we lean upon an arm of flesh, or

upon an Almighty Saviour. Temporary desertion may be

the seasonable chastisement of spiritual wantonness. When

grace has been given in answer to prayer, it was not duly

prized, or diligently improved. The "Beloved"— in answer

to solicitation —"is come into his garden:" he knocks at

the door, but the spouse is "asleep." The answer to prayer

was not expected, not waited for, and therefore not enjoyed;

and the sleeper awakes too late, and finds herself forsaken

by the object of her desire. (Cant. iv. 16, with v. 1-6.)

Again—when we have given place to temptation (2 Chron.

xxxii. 31); when "our mountain stands strong" (Ps. xxx.

6, 7); when love for our Saviour "waxes cold," and our

earnestness in seeking him is fainting (Cant. iii. 1-4); we

must not be surprised, if we are left for a time to the trial

of a deserted state.

Yet we sometimes speak of the hidings of God's coun-

tenance, as if it were a sovereign act, calling for implicit

submission; when the cause should at least be sought for,

and will generally be found, in some "secret thing" of in-

dulgence, unwatchfulness, or self-dependence. (Job, xv. 11.)

It was while David "kept silence" from the language of

contrition, that he felt the pressure of the heavy hand of

his frowning God (Ps. xxxii. 3, 4); and may not the dark-

ness, which has sometimes clouded our path, be the voice

of our God—"Thine own wickedness shall correct thee,

and thy backslidings shall reprove thee; know therefore

and see, that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast

forsaken the Lord thy God." (Jer. ii. 19.)


But in the engagement of the Lord's everlasting cove-

nant, how clear is the warrant of faith!—how ample the I

encouragement for prayer—"Forsake me not utterly!"

David knew and wrote of the Lord's unchangeable faith-

fulness to his people; and while he dreaded even a tem-

porary separation from his God more than any worldly

affliction, he could plead that gracious declaration—"Ne-

vertheless, my loving-kindness will I not utterly take from

him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail." (Ps. lxxxix. 33.)

We would not indeed make the promises of grace an en-

couragement to carelessness: yet it is indispensable to our

spiritual establishment that we receive them in their full,

free, and sovereign declaration. How many fainting souls

have been refreshed by the assurances —"For a small mo-

ment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I

gather thee: with everlasting kindness will I have mercy

on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer!" "My sheep shall

never perish; neither shall any pluck them out of my

hand." (Isa. liv. 7, 8. John, x. 28.) In a lowly, self-

abased, and dependent spirit, we shall best, however, learn

to "make our boast in the Lord;" "confident of this very

thing, that he which hath begun a good work in us, will

perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Ps. xxxiv. 2.

Philip. i. 6.) And even if awhile destitute of sensible con-

solation, still our language will be, "I will wait upon the

Lord, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob; and

I will look for him." (Isa. viii. 17.)

Great, indeed, is the danger and evil to the soul, if we

apprehend the Lord to have forsaken us, because we are in

darkness; or that we are out of the way, because we are

in perplexity. These are the very hand-posts, that show

us that we are in the way of his own promised leading —

painful exercise—faithful keeping—eternal salvation: "I

will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will

lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make

VERSE 8. 17

darkness light before them, and crooked things straight.

These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."

(Isa. xlii. 16.) Oh! the rest—the satisfaction of placing

an implicit confidence in a covenant-keeping God!

Forsaken we may be — but not utterly. David was for-

saken, not like Saul: (Ps. xxx. 7; with 1 Sam. xxviii. 6,

16.) Peter was forsaken, not like Judas (Matt. xxvi. 75;

with xxvii. 3-6), utterly and for ever. What foreboding

have you of such desertion? Is your heart willing to for-

sake him? Have you no mournings and thirstings for

his return? " If, indeed, you forsake him, he will forsake

you." (2 Chron. xv. 2. Comp. 1 Chron. xxviii. 9.) But

can you forsake him? 'Let him do as seemeth him

good (is the language of your heart); I will wait for him,

follow after him, cleave to his word, cling to his cross.'

Mark his dealings with you. Inquire into their reason.

Submit to his dispensation. If he forsakes, beg his re-

turn: but trust your forsaking God. "Though he slay

me, yet will I trust in him." (Job, xiii. 15. Isa. 1. 10. Hab.

iii. 17, 18.) Though my comfort is clouded, my hope

remains unchanging, unchangeable—such as I would not

resign for the glory of an earthly crown. What are these

earnest breathings — this abiding confidence, but his own

work in us? And can the Lord "forsake the work of his

own hands?" (Ps. cxxxviii. 8.) Sooner should heaven and

earth pass, than the faithful engagements of the gospel be

thus broken.*

* Augustine's paraphrase of this verse is beautifully illustrative

of the believer's conflict in a state of temporary desertion. "O

Lord, if—lest I should be proud, and should 'say in my prosperity,

I shall never be removed'—it pleaseth thee to tempt me, yet forsake

me not over-long;" that is, if thou hast thus forsaken me, that I

may know how weak I am without thy help, yet "forsake me not

utterly," lest I perish. I know that of thy good-will thou hast given

me strength; and if thou turnest away thy face from me, I shall

forthwith be troubled. "O forsake me not, that I perish not."


2014-07-19 18:44
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