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to take a part in their crimes; we associate with them in all their iniquitous proceedings; as the Psalmist expresses it-We stand in the way of sinners. From this stage of transgression, the transition is short and easy to the last point of depravity. We soon begin to glory in our crimes, to justify what we have hitherto done, and in hardened impiety, to sit down in the seat of the scornful. They alone are blessed, who flee from sin; and they alone are secure, who abstain from all appearance of evil, so far as human infirmity will permit. Our Lord and Master attained a sinless perfection; and we must apply to his merits and grace; so that by becoming righteous, we may be rendered blessed.

To the man who is brought to this happy condition, the next words of the Psalmist are properly applied“ His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law “ doth he meditate day and night.” When the mind is filled with a sincere detestation of sin; and when we are heartily inclined to become acquainted with the will of God, in order that we may yield a ready obedience to it; the Holy Scriptures will be deemed of more value than fine gold; they will be sweeter than honey, or the honey-comb; they will afford a satisfaction and delight infinitely superior to all the sensual pleasures of this world. In all circumstances, the word of God is the pious man's companion and guide. To this he applies for direction in the dangerous allurements of prosperity; from this he derives comfort in the gloomy seasons of affliction; to this he flies for succour under every temptation.

The Psalmist proceeds to describe the happy effects of this constant and devout attention to the study and Vol. II.

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practice of the law of the Lord : the man who is thus piously engaged “ shall be like a tree planted by the “rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his “ season : his leaf also shall not wither; and whatso“ever he doeth shall prosper.” By continual meditation in the sacred writings, and by practising what we know, we as naturally improve and advance in holiness, as the tree thrives and flourishes in the most fertile soil. A more striking and beautiful image could not be employed to express the happy condition of the godly. Behold the fair-spreading tree, so beautiful, and at the same time so advantageous! It is refreshed from above with the dews of heaven; it is invigorated at the root by never-failing streams of water; its fruit affords nourishment, its shade yields refreshment, the birds of the air take refuge and sing among its branches. Such is the blessed condition of that man, who standeth not in the way of sinners, but delights in the law of the Lord his God. He is sustained and improved by ever-flowing streams of divine grace; he abounds in all the fruits of the Spirit; in their proper season he displays the virtues of justice, and temperance, and meekness, and charity; the graces which adorn him are not affected by the revolutions of time; they never fade; and whatsoever he doeth, in all his ways, the blessing of heaven attends him: so that whatsoever the event may be, whether life or death, things present or things to come, all will work together for his good.

One would suppose, that a bare representation of this blessed state, would be a sufficient inducement to every reasonable mind, to seek it as the one thing needful. But if we are not to be properly influenced

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by the expectation of good; let us follow the Psalmist in : the dreadful contrast which he draws, and be alarmed and deterred by the apprehension of evil.

godly,” says he," are not so, but are like the chaff “ which the wind driveth away." In the preceding description of the righteous, every thing appeared fresh and flourishing, beautiful and permanent. But

here, we are presented with nothing but objects that · are fading and worthless, unsettled and transitory,

driven about by the breath of God's displeasure, dispersed at last from the face of the earth, and consigned to the fire that is never quenched.

The threshing-foors of the Jews were commonly on : an eminence, in the field; and by the action of a strong

current of air, it was the custom to separate the chaff

from the wheat. We find frequent allusions to this Ć practice in the writings of the prophets.. Thus Isaiah,

speaking of the heathen nations, says "That at the " rebuke of God, they shall be chased as the chaff of “ the mountains before the wind;" and Daniel, in his explanation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, declares " That the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the

gold, of which the image was composed, were bro“ken to pieces together; and became like the chaff of " the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carrie " them away, that no place was found for them.” Hence we may perceive the strength and beauty of this allusion of the Psalmist, when he compares the ungodly to chaff, which the wind driveth away. They

are light and worthless; they are unsteady in their { conduct, and wavering in their opinions; they are

driven about by the temptations of the devil, and the storms of their own turbulent passions, and their end is destruction.

Let not the scoffers encourage themselves in their wickedness, saying—“Where is the promise of God's

coming to discriminate between the righteous and “ the ungodly? all things continue as they were from “ the foundation of the world; all things come alike to “ all.” Hear, in the next verse, the awful declaration of the Psalmist—“Therefore the ungodly shall not “ stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congrega“ tion of the righteous.” However fair and flattering present appearances may be; a day is fast approaching, when the divine husbandman will appear, with his fan in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor. The wheat that shall endure the winnowing of that day will be gathered into the heavenly garners; but the chaff will be driven out of the floor by a mighty whirlwind, and carried to the place prepared for it, where it will be burned with unquenchable fire. Then, there will be a congregation of the righteous, in which sinners will not be permitted to stand. Wheat and tares now grow in the same field. Wheat and chaff lie on the same floor. Good and bad men are promiscuously comprehended within the visible Church. But, ere long, a tremendous separation will take place—a separation final and unalterable. The wicked shall go away into everlasting misery, and the righteous into life eternal.

Who shall be able to abide the coming of this dreadful day of the Lord! Were the judgment to be conducted by ignorant, fallible, or prejudiced men, the sinner might entertain some hopes of escaping

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with impunity. But since God is the judge, a Being of infinite wisdom and irresistible power, his determinations will be according to truth and equity, and nothing will be able to prevent their being carried into complete effect. For this is the concluding declaration of this instructive psalm—"The Lord knoweth “ the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish." From the limited nature of the human understanding, in the present confused state of things, we are often deceived in the judgment which we form of men. But an all-wise God can, in no instance, be imposed upon by false appearances. He is about the bed of the righteous, and about their path, and spieth out all their ways. However low and obscure their temporal condition may be, their pious dispositions, their virtuous actions are not unnoticed. God is with them under every trial; he protects them, even when they pass through the valley of the shadow of death. In the silence of the grave, they will not be forgotten. His eye seeth them in secret, and his hand will reward

them openly. They shall rise triumphant over the i sting of death, and the momentary victory of the grave a-they shall be crowned with glory, and honour, and

immortality. And, on the other hand, nothing will defeat the purposes of the Almighty, with respect to the final punishment of the ungodly. No art will be sufficient to elude the vigilance of his all-searching

eye; no force will be able to withstand that resistless 1

arm, which holdeth the mountains as the dust of the balance, and shooteth the planets so swiftly in their rounds. Everlasting confusion and torment will be the portion of the wicked; “ the way of the ungodly - shall perish.

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