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In “shaming this their counsel,” the ungodly will pretend to reason with them,
[They will deride this counsel as unnecessary; since there is no occasion for them to feel any such alarm about their souls
They reprobate it as presumptuous : for, can they suppose that God should pay such peculiar regard to them, to accept them, sanctify them, save them ; when all the rest of the world are perishing in their sins? - They pour contempt upon it as ineffectual: for to think of setting aside all good works in point of dependence, can be no other than a desperate delusion Such are the arguments with which the ungodly will endeavour to shame the poor out of their confidence in God.]
But we will defend their counsel against all these unjust aspersions
[It is not unnecessary : for there is not a creature in the universe that can be saved in any
It is not presumptuous. What presumption is there in believing God's promises, and in obeying his commands, and especially that command of coming to Christ and relying on him for salvatione? -- It is not ineffectual : for there never was, nor ever shall be, one soul left to perish, that sought for mercy solely and entirely by faith in Christ ---- The cities of refuge afforded a safe asylum to him who fled from the avenger of blood; and, whatever have been the sins of the believing penitent," he shall not be ashamed or confounded, world without end?"] ADDRESS, 1. The despisers
[We need not go far to find persons of this character. In fact, they despise this counsel who do not follow it, even though they should never cast any particular reproach on those who adopt it - But, I beg leave to ask, what counsel will you give ? Shall it be, to despise all religion? to rest in outward forms?
or to say,
Lord, Lord, whilst you do not the things which he says ?”
You may boldly maintain this counsel now: but will you do it in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment? Know, assuredly, that you
will be ashamed of it then, whether ye be now, or not. And that is the only wise counsel which will be approved of your God, and issue in your everlasting salvation. All else is but to "make lies your refuge, and to hide yourselves under falsehoods;" or, in other words, to “ build on a foundation of sand, what will fall," and crush you under its ruins.]
e 1 John iii. 23. f Isai. xlv. 17. & Isai. xxviii. 15.
2. The despised
[What harm has it done you hitherto, that you have been despised by an ungodly world? Only seek your happiness in God, and you need not mind what man shall say concerning you. Man's judgment is but for “ a day":" whereas God's judgment will be for ever. The Prophets, the Apostles, and our Lord Jesus Christ, were they approved of men? On the contrary, was there any thing too bad for men to say concerning them? Be content, then, to be “partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when he shall appear, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." In truth, to be despised for righteousness' sake is your highest honourk, and shall surely issue in your more exalted happiness!.] b i Cor. iv. 3. The margin.
i 1 Pet. iv. 13. k 1 Pet. iv. 14. Acts v. 41.
i Rom. viii. 17.
THE BLESSINGS OF SALVATION. Ps. xiv. 7. O that the salvation of Israel were come out of
Zion! When the Lord bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.
ON what occasion this psalm was written, we know not: but there are two things which render it pre-eminently worthy of our attention: the one is, that, with very little alteration, it is repeated in another psalm“; and the other is, that a very considerable part of it is cited by the Apostle Paul, not for the mere purpose of illustrating any point, but for establishing that doctrine which lies at the very foundation of Christianity, the universal and total depravity of human nature. The Psalmist has evidently been reflecting on the extreme wickedness of the human heart, in that men, for the purpose of prosecuting their evil ways without fear, would banish God himself from the universe', and, by impious derision, drive out all regard for piety from the world". Being oppressed, and overwhelmed, as it were, with this painful contemplation, he breaks forth into this devout rapture: “O that the salvation
a Ps. liii. b Compare ver. 1-3. with Rom. iii. 10–12, 19.
c ver. 1.
of Israel were come out of Zion! When the Lord shall bring again the captivity of Israel, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.”
We may conceive him in these words looking forward, not only to the times of the Messiah, but to the Messiah himself, who is frequently designated by the name of Savioure, and who, under that character, comes forth out of Zion', and is an object of desire to all nations.” But, perhaps, it is rather “salvation” itself that is here spoken of; and which the Psalmist contemplates, I. As an object of desire
And truly so it is,
(View the state of the world, especially as it is described in the psalm before us How inexpressibly awful! And how fully is this description verified in all around us! Respecting the Heathen world, we are willing enough to acknowledge the truth of the accusation : but, respecting the Christian world, we are ready to conceive of it as exaggerated and false. But St. Paul quotes these very expressions, to prove the wickedness of all mankind: and the smallest measure of candid observation will confirm all that he has spoken. Say, then, whether salvation be not needed; and whether the Psalmist's wish should not be the most ardent desire of our souls: “O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion!” The Gospel brings precisely such a salvation as men's necessities require: and happy would it be, if its blessings were proclaimed to the utmost ends of the earth!] 2. To every heavy-laden sinner
[Are any of you convinced of your sinful and undone state? Consider the remedy provided for you. cious should it be to your souls! How infinitely dearer to you than thousands of silver and gold! Great as your guilt undoubtedly is, it may all be washed away in the Redeemer's blood: and, fixed as your corruptions are, they may all be rooted out by the operation of his holy Spirit on your souls. Reconciliation is made for you through the blood of the cross; so that God, from being your enemy, is ready to become your Father and your friend : and, if only you embrace the
O how pre
e Isai. lxü. 11. with Isai. xlv. 21, 22. and in New Testament passim. f Rom. xi. 26.
8 Hagg. ii. 7.
salvation offered you in the Gospel, all the glory of heaven shall be yours. Cherish, then, this holy desire: and, in reference to your own souls in particular, be constantly saying,
Realizing in his mind the object of his desire, the Psalmist proceeds to view it, II. As actually attained
Salvation has been effected by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ : and, Already has it produced great joy in the world
[To a great extent has the captivity of God's Israel been turned. Thousands and millions, both of Jews and Gentiles, have been delivered from the power of Satan, by whom they were once led captive at his will. And what joy the deliverance occasioned, we well know. On the day of Pentecost, not less than three thousand, who had been pricked to the heart with a sense of sin, were, by the glad tidings of the Gospel, enabled to eat their bread with gladness and singleness of heart, blessing and praising God. And to this hour do all who hear the joyful sound experience the same holy feeling in their souls. Tell me, ye who have ever been released from the bonds of sin and Satan, have ye not been constrained to say, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour?" Yes, in every place where the Gospel comes, and in every bosom where it is received, is “ the oil of joy given in the stead of mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."]
But what joy will it not excite, when it shall prevail to its full extent !
[There is a period yet future, when the Gospel shall be conveyed to all nations, and “all flesh shall see the salvation of God." Then shall the dominion of Satan be altogether broken, and the whole race of mankind be brought to serve the living God.” What joy shall prevail over the face of the whole earth! Truly the descriptions given of it by the Psalmist will fall infinitely short of the reality h
for heaven itself will then appear to have come down upon the earth', and all the glorified saints to have descended to swell the chorus of the redeemedk.] From hence, then, we may LEARN, 1. What conversion is
(Whatever mystical representations be given of it, it is simply this, “a turning of us from the captivity” of sin and
h Ps. xcvii. 1-9. i Rev. xxi. 2--4. k Rev. xx. 4.
Satan, and bringing us " into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” This it was for which the Saviour came into the world: and this it is which he effects, in all who are partakers of his salvation. Let any say whether it be not a proper object of desire, or whether a captive soul can ever desire it too much.] 2. What should be our great aim in life
[The deliverance, to whomsoever it is vouchsafed, is only gradual: “ the flesh will yet lust against the Spirit, as well as the Spirit against the flesh; so that, to the latest hour of our lives, we shall not be able to do all that we could wish?." Even the Apostle Paul, after having served the Lord for twenty years, yet was constrained to cry, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver mem?" To
grow then in grace should be the daily object of our ambition: and to “ put
off the old man, and put on the new,” should be the one labour of our souls: nor should we ever cease from this labour, until we have attained the full measure of the stature of Christ.]
3. What should endear to us the thoughts of death
[Death will break all our chains, and set us at perfect liberty. Whilst here, we still are complaining that “ tied and bound with the chain of our sins." But no complaint shall ever be heard in heaven. There we shall be “
pure, as Christ is pure;” and “perfect, as our Father who is in heaven is perfect." Let us learn, then, to look on death as a friend, and to number it amongst our richest treasures". That it is disarmed of its sting, is no mean part of our present joy: and that it shall translate us into the immediate presence of our God, is sufficient to make us pant for its arrival, “ desiring to depart and to be with Christ, as far better" than the happiest lot that can be enjoyed on eartho.] 1 Gal. v. 17.
m Rom. vii. 24. n 1 Cor. iii. 22.
o Phil. i. 23.
CHARACTER OF THOSE THAT SHALL BE SAVED. Ps. xv. 145. Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who
shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes 'a vile person is contemned: but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to