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We are taught, that they who wilfully transgress and die impenitent, will be consigned to the dreary abodes of everlasting wretchedness, where the worm of devouring anguish dieth not, and the fire of divine wrath is not quenched. These are alarming reflections. If such be the interesting consequences of our present conduct, surely every considerate person will endeavour to keep himself from presumptuous sins, lest they get the dominion over him; he will strive to be undefiled, and innocent from the great offence.
But this leads us to consider, in the last place, the happiness that results from steady and uniform obedience. Such indeed is the extent and spirituality of the divine law, comprehending our thoughts, words, and actions; the intentions of our hearts, as well as our external deportment: and so great, on the other hand, is the infirmity of our degenerate nature, that with the most sincere and strenuous exertions, our obedience can never be entirely perfect. For acceptance in the sight of God, we must still have recourse to the intercession of a Redeemer; not trusting in our own righteousness, but in his manifold and great mercies. But, since God has blessed us with the ability of seeing the wondrous things of his law; a law originally communicated by the voice of reason, and afterwards augmented and confirmed by immediate revelation; since the truth of this revelation was at first established by incontestable proofs, and has been preserved and transmitted down to us, not by uncertain tradition, but in permanent records; since it is so evidently well calculated to promote and secure our real good; since its sanctions are nothing less than everlasting happiness or misery; let us endeavour, so far as may be, to fulfil all righteousness; let us be continually advancing towards the great standard of all perfection.
By sincere and uniform obedience, we follow the steps of our Lord and Master, who perfectly performed the work that was given him to do; we imitate the example of the glorious angels, who are represented as standing round the throne of God, ever attentive to his commands, and ready to fly and execute his will; we preserve our rank among intelligent beings, and by moving in our proper sphere, promote the order of the universe; we display the dignity, we secure the happiness of our nature: for all our glory, all our felicity entirely depends upon the favour of Almighty God; and this cannot be obtained but by a cheerful submission to his will. In a word, by obedience we obtain a right to rely upon the peculiar protection of our present Lawgiver and future Judge; we shall eacape the ignominy, the remorse, the excruciating punishment that will hereafter overwhelm the disobedient and refractory; we shall receive the approbation of our Lord, whose loving-kindness is better than life; and our labours will be crowned, at last, with a great reward; a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Let me, therefore, conclude, with exhorting you all, to adopt the pious language of the Psalmist“Open “ thou mine eyes, that I may see the wondrous things “ of thy law !” And when, by devout attention and diligent study, under the influence of divine grace, you have learned what the Lord your God requires of you ; be careful to walk in all his ordinances blameless; endeavour to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord. Consider, that although he is exalted far above all height, he continually beholdeth the things that are in
On the Blessedness of keeping the Law of God.
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly,
nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord ; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like e tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in due season: his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so; but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
This psalm, which may be considered as a preface or introduction to all the rest, describes, in very expressive language, the opposite characters, and the different states of the righteous and the ungodly : the blessedness of the one is said to consist in their regard for the law of the Lord, their abstaining from sin, and their continual advancement in goodness; a condition represented under the beautiful image of a flourishing tree planted by the rivers of water. The unhappy fate of the other is held forth to our view, by an allusion to the threshing-floor: as the light and worthless chaff is scattered away from before the driving tempest, so shall the wicked perish at the presence of the Lord: when God comes to judgment, they shall not be able to stand before him; they shall be for ever separated from the assembly of the righteous.
The Holy Scriptures were given by inspiration of God, and are good for instruction in all righteousness. But of the Psalms, more particularly, it may be asserted, there is scarcely any thing necessary for man to know in the progress of a life of piety, which they are not able to teach. Like the garden of Eden, this little volume affords us in perfection, every thing that groweth elsewhere; every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food. Here we find unfeigned repentance, unwearied patience, ardent devotion, the terrors of divine wrath, the comforts of grace, the operations of Providence in the government of this world, and the promised joys of the world that is to
For every spiritual grief and disease that is incident to the soul of man, here a present and comfortable remedy may at all times be found.
In the language of this divine book, the prayers and praises of the Church have, in all ages, been offered up to the throne of grace. The Son of God, in the days of his flesh, appears to have been well acquainted with it. At the conclusion of his last supper, he sang a hymn which is commonly supposed to have been taken from it. On the cross, he pronounced the beginning of the twenty-second psalm—“My God, my God, “ why hast thou forsaken me?” And his expiring words were a part of the thirty-first"Into thy hands
I commend my Spirit.” Thus our glorious Re
deemer himself, who possessed all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom, thought proper to soothe his last and most bitter agony, and to yield up the ghost with the words of the Psalmist on his lips. A higher commendation of any book, it is not possible for the tongue of men or angels to give. It well deserves, therefore, the devout attention of every pious person, who is desirous of imitating the good example of those, who, through faith and patience, inherit the promises. Let us, then, proceed to consider what instruction, or what consolation is to be drawn from this first psalm, which begins with these encouraging words" Blessed is the man that walketh not in the “ counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of “ sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”
In order to excite our attention, and to animate our desires to begin and to persevere in the ways of virtue and piety, the book of Psalms is introduced, like the sermon on the mount, with a divine beatitude, directing us immediately to that happiness which all mankind, in various ways, are solicitous to obtain. All would secure themselves from the assaults of misery, all would be entirely happy; but how few consider, that wretchedness is the natural consequence of sin, and that we must cease to walk in the counsel of the ungodly, if we would be completely blessed.
The Psalmist here apprizes us, that there is a gradation in wickedness, and that he who wilfully deviates from the right way, cannot say how far he may wander. We begin, by conversing familiarly with wicked men; we listen to their fallacious arguments; we are pleased with their winning persuasions. After walking, for a season, thus in the counsel of the ungodly, we proceed