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Full text of "The complete works of Thomas Manton, D.D. : with memoir of the author"



EASTER, 1906 

Shelf No. 


Register No. / d 









W. LINDSAY ALEXANDER, D.D., Professor of Theology, Congregational 
Union, Edinburgh. 

JAMES BEQG, D.D., Minister of Newington Free Church, Edinburgh. 

THOMAS J. CRAWFORD, D.D., S.T.P., Professor of Divinity, University, 

D. T. K. DRUMMOND, M.A., Minister of St Thomas's Episcopal Church, 

WILLIAM H. GOOLD, D.D., Professor of Biblical Literature and Church 
History, Reformed Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh. 

ANDREW THOMSON, D.D., Minister of Broughton Place United Presby 
terian Church, Edinburgh. 











To THE READER, ....... 2 

SERMON I. " Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk 

in the law of the Lord," ver. 1, . .5 

II. " Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, that 

seek him with the whole heart," ver. 2, .15 

III. " Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, that 

seek him with the whole heart," ver. 2, .23 

IV. c( They also do no iniquity: they walk in his 

ways," ver. 3, . . . . .29 

V. "Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts 

diligently," ver. 4, . . .38 

VI. " Oh, that my ways were directed to keep thy 

statutes," ver. 5, . . .46 

VII. "Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect 

unto all thy commandments," ver. 6, . . 53 

VIII. "I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, 
when I shall have learned thy righteous judg 
ments," ver. 7, . . . .61 

IX. "I will keep thy statutes. Oh, forsake me not 

utterly," ver. 8, . . .70 

X. " Wherewith shall a young man cleanse his way ? 
By taking heed thereto according to thy word," 
ver. 9, ..... 82 

XI. " With my whole heart have I sought thee : Oh, 
let me not wander from thy commandments," 
ver. 10, .... 90 



SERMON XII. " Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might 

not sin against thee," ver. 11, .99 

XIII. " Blessed art thou, Lord : teach me thy 

statutes," ver. 12, . . 108 

XIV. " With my lips have I declared all the judg 

ments of thy mouth," ver. 13, . .118 

XV. " I have rejoiced in the way of thy command 
ments, as much as in all riches," ver. 14, 129 

XVI. " I will meditate in thy precepts, and have re 
spect unto thy ways," ver. 15, . . 136 

XVII. " I will delight myself in thy statutes : I will 

not forget thy word," ver. 16, . .146 

XVIII. " Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may 

live, and keep thy word," ver. 17, .154 

XIX. " Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold won 
drous things out of thy law," ver. 18, . 163 

., XX. " I am a stranger in the earth : hide not thy 

commandments from me," ver. 19, . 173 

XXI. " My soul breaketh for the longing it hath unto 

thy judgments at all times," ver. 20, . 183 

XXII. " Thou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, 
which do err from thy commandments," 
ver. 21, . . . . . 193 

XXIII. " Remove from me reproach and contempt ; 

for I have kept thy testimonies," ver. 22, 204 

XXIV. " Princes also did sit and speak against me : 
but thy servant did meditate in thy 
statutes," ver f 23, ... 214 

XXV. " Thy testimonies also are my delight and my 

counsellors," ver. 24, . . 223 

XXVI. " My soul cleaveth unto the dust : quicken 

thou me according to thy word," ver. 25, . 234 

XXVII. " I have declared my ways, and thou heardest 

me : teach me thy statutes," ver. 26, . 243 



SERMON XXVIII. " Make me to understand the way of thy 
precepts : so shall I talk of thy won 
drous works," ver. 27, . . 255 

XXIX. " My soul melteth for heaviness : 

strengthen thou me according to thy 
word," ver. 28, ... 265 

XXX. " Remove from me the way of lying; and 

grant me thy law graciously," ver. 29, 275 

XXXI. " I have chosen the way of truth : thy 

judgments have I laid before me," 
ver. 30, . . . 288 

XXXII. " I have chosen the way of truth : thy 

judgments have I laid before me," 
ver. 30, . . . 302 

XXXIII. " I have stuck unto thy testimonies : 

Lord, put me not to shame," ver. 31, 314 

XXXIV. " I will run the way of thy command 

ments, when thou shalt enlarge my 
heart," ver. 32, . . . 324 

XXXV. " I will run the way of thy command 

ments, when thou shalt enlarge my < 

heart," ver. 32, . . 332 

XXXVI. "Teach me, Lord, the way of thy 

statutes, and I shall keep it unto the 
end/' ver. 33, ... 339 

XXXVII. " Give me understanding and I shall keep 
thy law ; yea, I shall observe it with 
my whole heart," ver. 34, . . 348 

XXXVIII. " Yea, I shall observe it with my whole 

heart," ver. 34, . . 354 

XXXIX. " Make me to go in the path of thy com 

mandments, for therein do I de 
light," ver. 35, . . 360 

;. XL. " Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, 

and not to covetousness," ver. 36, . 369 

XLI. " And not unto covetousness," ver. 36, . 378 

XLII. " Turn thou away mine eyes from behold 

ing vanity, and quicken thou me in 
thy way," ver. 37, . 388 



SERMON XLIII. " Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who 

is devoted to thy fear," ver. 38, . 398 

XLIV. " Turn away my reproach which I fear ; for 

thy judgments are good," ver. 39, . 410 

XLV. " Behold I have longed after thy precepts ; 
quicken me in thy righteousness," 
ver. 40, .... 423 

XLVI. " Behold I have longed after thy precepts," 

&c., ver. 40, . . . . 431 

XLVII. " Let thy mercies come also to me, Lord, 
even thy salvation, according to thy 
word," ver. 41, ... 439 

^ XL VIII. " So shall I have wherewith to answer him 
that reproacheth me : for I trust in 
thy word," ver. 42, . . 447 

XLIX. "And take not the word of truth utterly 

out of my mouth ; for I have hoped in 
thy judgments," ver. 43, . . 458 

w L. "So shall I keep thy law continually for 

ever and ever," ver. 44, . . 470 

,, LI. " And I will walk at liberty ; for I seek thy 

precepts," ver. 45, . . 478 

LII. " I will speak of thy testimonies also before 

kings, and will not be ashamed," 
ver. 46, . 486 




IT is the honour of the evangelical ministry, that it was principally- 
instituted for the service of God, not as he is the governor of the 
earth, but the Lord of heaven, and to prepare men by holiness for 
his eternal kingdom. And it is an excellent favour of God to his 
ministers when their labours are eminently useful for this blessed 
end. This singular grace and privilege God was pleased to confer 
upon his faithful servant Dr Manton, whose life was spent in the 
most precious work of converting souls to Christ, and preparing 
them for the celestial paradise; and since his retiring from the 
world by death, his soul now enjoying the blessed rest above, yet 
he remains with us in what was most valuable of him, his excellent 
sermons, the productions of his holy mind and heart ; arid the pen 
having a larger extent than the tongue in communicating them, 
may be more beneficial to the church than before. 

The following sermons were preached by him in his usual course 
of three times a week, which I do not mention to lessen their worth, 
but to show how diligent and exact he was in the performance of his 
duty. Indeed, his ordinary sermons, considering the substantial 
matter, clear order, and vigorous full expressions, may well pass 
for extraordinary. I cannot but admire the fecundity and variety of 
his thoughts, that the same things so often occurring in the verses of 
this psalm, yet by a judicious observing the different arguments and 
motives whereby the Psalmist enforces the same requests, or some 
other circumstances, every sermon contains new conceptions, and 
proper to the text. Some few verses were not handled by him. I 
earnestly pray that those who shall read these sermons may taste the 
sweetness of the divine truths opened in them, and may be transformed 
into the spirit of David, by an inward feeling of the affections, and 
verifying in their own breasts the words of the holy prophet. 



CHRISTIAN EEADEB, It is somewhat difficult not to applaud that 
excellency which has first approved itself to our judgment. Hence is 
it that, though this work needs it not, I will so far gratify my own 
affections, and comply with obtaining custom, as to acquaint thee that, 
if thou hadst my eyes and taste, thou must admire its beauty, and 
confess its sweetness ; much more when thou shalt use thy own more 
discerning eye and judicious palate. 

The matter of these sermons is spiritual, and speaks the author one 
intimately acquainted with the secrets of wisdom. He writes like one 
that knew the Psalmist's heart, and felt in his own the sanctifying 
power of what he wrote. Their design is practice ; beginning with 
the understanding, dealing with the affections, but still driving on the 
advancement of practical holiness. They come home and close to the 
conscience ; first presenting us a glass, wherein we may view the spots 
of our souls, and then directing us to that fountain wherein we may 
wash them away. They are of an evangelical complexion, abasing 
proud corrupt nature, and advancing free and efficacious grace in the 
conversion of sinners. The exhortations are powerful, admirably 
suited to treat with reasonable creatures, yet still supposing them to 
be the vehicle of the Holy Spirit, through which he communicates life 
and power to obey them. 

The manner of handling is not inferior to the dignity of the matter ; 
so plain as to accommodate the most sublime truths to the meanest 
spiritual capacity, and yet so elevated as to approve itself to the most 
refined understanding. He knew how to be succinct without obscurity, 
and where the weight of the argument required it, to enlarge without 
nauseous prolixity. He studied more to profit than please, and yet 
an honest heart will then be best pleased when most profited. He 
chose rather to speak appositely than elegantly ; and yet the judicious 
do account propriety the choicest elegancy. He laboured more indus 
triously to conceal his learning than some others to ostentate theirs : 
and yet, when he would most veil it, the discerning reader cannot but 
discover it, and rejoice to find such a mass, such a treasure of useful 
learning, couched under a well-studied and artificial plainness. But 
let the reader take a taste of, let him concoct and digest, these spiri 
tual discourses, and he shall say with the Sabean queen, ' It was a 


true report I heard in my own land ; but behold the one-half was not 
told me! ' Or with the men of Sychar, ' Now we believe, not because 
of thy saying, but because we ourselves have proved and experienced 
their delicacies ; as one taste of honey will more effectually commend 
its sweetness than the most elaborate oratory. 

Those ancients that had seen the first temple wept bitterly when 
they saw the foundation of the second laid. And perhaps some pious 
souls who have ' sat with great delight ' under the author s ministerial 
' shadow, and have found his fruit sweet to their taste/ may secretly 
shed a tear, that though they here meet also the same divine truths, 
the same spiritual matter, yet they want the living voice, the grateful 
elocution, the natural eloquence, in which that heavenly matter dropped, 
or rather flowed, from his gracious lips. But let the same consideration 
which quieted the spirits of those Jews of old satisfy theirs : God can 
fill this house also with his glory ; and though the second edition of the 
temple fall short of the former in the beauty and symmetry of the 
structure, yet can the Spirit flow from the press as well as the pulpit ; 
with this advantage, that they may here in safety read what with 
great danger they formerly heard. 

I have admired, and must recommend to the observation of the 
reader, the fruitfulness of the author's holy invention, accompanied 
with solid judgment ; in that whereas the coincidence of the matter 
in this psalm might have superseded his labours in very many verses, 
yet, without force or offering violence to the sacred text, he has, either 
from the connection of one verse with its predecessor, or the harmony 
between the parts of the same verse, found out new matter to entertain 
his own meditation and his reader's expectation ; nor do I observe 
more than twelve verses in this large psalm wholly omitted, if at least 
they may be said to be omitted, whose subject-matter is elsewhere 
copiously handled. 

Had the reverend author designed these papers for public view, he 
could not have flattered himself, in a cavilling age, that he should 
escape the severe lashes of envy and malice (those fiends that haunt 
all things and persons excellent) ; he must have expected a snarl from 
the wolf's black mouth, or a kick from the dull ass's hoof. Yet 
on his Behalf I demand this justice, that he be not condemned for 
the printers' crimes. Their venial errors will receive a pardon of 
course from the ingenuous reader ; and for their mortal transgressions, 
whereof they are sometimes guilty, either clouding, altering, or per 
verting the scope of the author, enjoin them, gentle reader, a moderate 
penance, and then receive them to full absolution, who have voluntarily 
offered themselves to confession. 

Thus much, Christian reader, it was thy interest and mine to have 
epoken ; the rest must be to the God of all grace, that he would give 
thee and this book his blessing ; which is the prayer of thy affectionate 
friend and faithful servant in our Lord Jesus, 

V A 1 

December 13, 1680. 

1 That is, < Vincent Alsop.' ED. 



Blessed are the undefiled in the way, ivho walk m the law of the 
Lord. VER. 1. 

THIS psalm is a choice piece of Scripture. In the Hebrew there is 
much exactness of composure to be observed. It is divided into 
twenty-two parts, according to the number of the Hebrew letters ; 
every part containeth eight verses, all beginning with one and the 
same letter ; in which I should think there is nothing of mystery 
intended, only a help to attention and memory. I shall go over the 
several verses in their order, the Lord giving life and assistance. And 
because the same matter will be of frequent recourse, I shall endeavour 
to discuss each verse in a sermon. 

The Psalmist beginneth with a description of the way to true 
blessedness, as Christ began his Sermon on the Mount, and as the 
whole Book of Psalms is elsewhere begun. Blessedness is that which 
we all aim at, only we are either ignorant or reckless of the way 
that leadeth to it ; therefore the holy Psalmist would first set us right 
in the true notion of a blessed man : ' Blessed are the undefiled in the 
way, who walk in the law of the Lord/ 

In the words you have 

1. The privilege, blessed. 

2. The manner and form of its consideration ; not so much in the 
nature and formality of it, as the way that leadeth to it. Or, 

First, Here is a ivay spoken of in the general. 

Secondly, This way specified, the law of the Lord. 

Thirdly, The qualification of the persons' sincerity, the undefiled ; 
and constancy, who walk. 

Doct. 1. That it standeth us much upon to have a true notion of 
blessedness and blessed men. David beginneth with that. 

1. All desire it ; Christians, pagans, all agree in this. When Paul 
was dealing with the heathens, he urgeth two notions wherein God 
might be taken up. That of a first cause : Acts xiv. 17, ' Never 
theless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and 


gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with 
food and gladness/ And a chief good, Acts xvii. 27. As in the one 
place, there must be a cause of showers of rain and fruitful seasons ; 
so in the other, there must be a universal good, or else the inclinations 
of nature were in vain. Among Christians, the good and bad, that 
do so seldom agree in anything, yet agree in this, every man would 
be happy, and not miserable : Ps. iv. 6, c There be many that say, 
Who will show us any good ? ' Good, good, is the cry of the world. 
It is intended in the very nature of desire ; for everything that is 
desired is desired as good, sub ratione boni. As God implanted in us 
affections of aversation to avoid what is evil, so affections of choice 
and pursuit to follow after what is good. Well, then, out of a prin 
ciple of self-love, all would be happy ; they would have good, and they 
would have it for ever. Inanimate creatures are, by the guidance 
and direction of Providence, carried to the place of their perfection. 
The brute beasts seek the preservation and perfection of that life 
which they have ; so do all men hunt about for contentment and 
satisfaction. To ask whether men would be happy or not, is to ask 
whether they love themselves, yea or nay ; but whether holy, is another 

2. All without grace are much mistaken in it. (1.) Some mistake 
in the end. They desire good in common, not that which is indeed 
the true good ; they seek happiness in riches, honours, pleasures ; and 
so they fly from that which they seek, whilst they seek it. They 
intend happiness, but choose misery : Luke xvi. 25, ' Thy good 
things ; ' and Ps. iv. 7, ' Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more 
than in the time that their corn and wine increased/ Their corn, 
wine, and oil, not only possessed by them, but chosen by them as 
their felicity and portion. (2.) They fail in the means. They know 
them not, like them not, or else faint in the prosecution of the end by 
them. They discern them but weakly, as a spire at a distance; 
they see it so as they know not whether they see it, yea or nay, as 
the blind man saw men walking as trees. The light of nature being 
so dim, they consider them but weakly ; the mind being diverted by 
other objects, they desire them but weakly; the affections being pre 
possessed and intercepted by things that come next to hand, velleities 
1 cold inclinations they may have, but no serious volition or firm 
mt ot heart. Or suppose a man under some conviction, both as to 
and means, yet his endeavours are very cold and slack ; they do 
lot pursue it with that earnestness, exactness, and uniformity of 

^^AI hl l h i S LT i8ite to btai ^ happiness. They are like 

passionately, but are soon out of 

The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing, for 

hands refuse to labour.' When true happiness is sufficiently 

when our-- - U P 0u ^ od ' s terms . *K*i 34. The Jews, 

heen to f " <* cme 

us of tl ? g r 6 ?? ^ e rld ' said lmto Wm, ' Lord, evermore give 

1S Said ' U P n hearin S th * condition^ of 
went ba*ck, and walked no 

us of tl ' , , 

obtalw it JV 1S Said ' U P n hearin S th * condition^ of 

SE^Mi? An' *%**, went ba*ck, and walked no 
nSri ed Phrf t W 1( V lve io l ever i but when they must follow 
lespised Christ up and down the world, and incur censures and 


dangers, they like none of that : Ps. cvi. 24, c Yea, they despised the 
pleasant land, and believed not his word/ The land was a good 
land, but the way to it was through a howling wilderness. When 
they heard of the strength and stature of the men, their fortifications, 
they fell into passion and murmur, and gave over the pursuit of 
Canaan. Heaven is a good place, but men must get to it with such 
difficulty, therefore they are loath to be at the cost. Men would be 
happy with that kind of happiness which is true happiness, but not 
in the way which God propoundeth, being prepossessed with carnal 
fancies. It is counted a foolish thing to wait upon God in the midst 
of straits, conflicts, and temptations : 1 Cor. ii. 14, * The natrural man 
receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness 
unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually 
discerned.' More prejudices lie against the means than the end; 
therefore, out of despair, they sit down with a carnal choice, as persons 
disappointed in a match take the next offer. Since they cannot have 
God's happiness, they resolve to be their own carvers, and to make 
themselves as happy as they can in the enjoyment of present things. 

3. Our mistakes about it will cost us dear. God is very jealous of 
what we make our happiness, and therefore blasteth the carnal choice. 
Those that will try experiments, smart for it in the issue. Solomon 
came home by weeping-cross : Eccles. i. 14, * I have seen all the works 
that are done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and vexation of 
spirit/ He hath proved it to our hands. He had a large heart, and 
a large estate, and gave himself to pleasures, to extract happiness from 
the creatures, to hunt after worldly satisfactions in a more artificial 
way than brutish sots, that merely act according to lust and appetite : 
Eccles. ii. 1, ' I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with 
mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure ; and behold, this also is vanity/ He 
gave himself to pleasures, not merely upon sensual, but curious and 
artificial aims, yet found his heart secretly withdrawn from God. 
Whoever maketh trial will either run into utter mischief, or must 
come home again by a sound remorse. And so they learn it, and 
dearly to their cost. 

Use. Let us study this point well. 

1. That we may not take up with a false happiness, or set up our 
rest in temporal enjoyments, as height of honour, abundance of riches, 
favour of great men, &c. ; things useful in their sphere, and beneficial 
to sweeten and comfort the life of man, who hath placed his happiness 
in God. Pleasures being enjoyed, they do not satisfy ; being loved, 
they defile ; being lost, they increase our trouble and sorrow. 

[1.] They cannot satisfy, because of their imperfection and uncertainty. 
They do not answer the whole desire of man, carry no proportion with 
the conscience. That which maketh a man happy must bear a 
thorough proportion with all the wants, desires, and capacities of the 
soul, so as conscience and heart and all may say it is enough. But, 
alas ! these things cannot give us solid peace and contentment : Isa. 
Iv. 2, ' Wherefore do ye spend your money for that which is not bread ? 
and your labour for that which satisfieth not?' Till an hungry 
conscience be provided for, we cannot be happy. But besides their 
low use, consider the uncertainty of enjoyment. Nothing can give us 


solid peace, but what doth make us eternally happy. These flowers 
our hands while we smell at them. Nothing but the favour 

We have not a sure posses- 

1 Cor vn 60, ol. It is me apusueo wui 3^, - j - ~-v 
should have such remiss affections to the world, 'as though they 
possessed not; and that they use this world as not abusing it, for the 
fashion of this world passeth away/ A man must look for changes, 
and lay forth for several conditions in the world: *s. xxxix 11 
1 When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, tnou rnakest 
his beauty to consume away like a moth. Surely every man is vanity. 
Selah ' Like glass, brittle when most glistering. 

[21 Being inordinately loved, they defile. There is not only gall, 
but poison in them. They cannot make us better, but may easily 
make us worse, as they defile and draw the heart from God, and en 
slave us to our own lusts : 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10, ' But they that will be 
rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and 
hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the 
love of money is the root of all evil, which, while some have coveted 
after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through 
with many sorrows/ 

[3.] Being lost, they increase our trouble and sorrow. A man that 
hath not learned to be abased, as well as to abound, his abundance 
maketh his case the more miserable. It is hard to go back a degree 
or two. They are apt to bring much trouble upon the heart of him 
that is conversant about them : * All is vanity and vexation of spirit/ 
The more we make them our happiness, when lost they increase our 

2. That we may not be prejudiced against the true happiness. Men 
think it a happiness to live without the yoke of religion, to speak, and 
think, and do what they please without restraint ; but to be always in 
bonds, and held under the awe of the word, that they count unreason 
able and grievous : Ps. ii. 3, 'Let us break their bands asunder, and 
cast away their cords from us/ In studying this point (1.) ' Lean not 
to thine own understanding ;' Prov. xxiii. 4, ' Labour not to be rich ; 
cease from thy own wisdom; ' but seek direction from God by his 
word and Spirit. God only can determine who is the blessed man, in 
whose hand alone it is to make us blessed. (2.) Take the light of faith ; 
sense and carnal reason will deceive you. Blessedness is a riddle which 
can only be found out by faith, c which is the evidence of things not 
seen,' Heb. xi. 1. That a poor godly man, who is counted the filth and 
offscouring of all things, should be the only happy man, and that the 
great men of this world, who have all things at will, should be ' poor, 
blind, miserable, and naked/ is a paradox will never enter into the 
heart of a natural man, that hath only the light of sense and carnal 
reason to judge of things, for to sight and reason it is nothing so. 
(3.) Wait for the light and power of the Spirit to incline and draw thy 
heart to God. Many times we are doctrinally right in point of blessed 
ness, but not practically ; we content ourselves with the mere notion, but 
are not brought under the power of these truths ; that is the work of 
the Spirit. It is easy to prove that it is the beasts' happiness to enjoy 


pleasure without remorse ; easy to prove the uncertainty of riches, and 
what unstable foundations they are for the soul to rest on ; but to draw 
off the heart from these things to God is the work of the Holy Ghost : 
Ps. xlix. 13, ' This their way is their folly, yet their posterity approve 
their sayings.' Many a man who stands over the grave of his ances 
tors will say, Ah ! how foolish were they to waste their time and 
strength in pleasure, and in hunting after worldly greatness and 
esteem and favour with men ; what doth it profit them now ? And 
yet their posterity approve the same that is, they live by the same 
principles, are as greedy upon worldly satisfactions as ever those were 
that have gone before, that neglected God and heavenly things, and 
went down to the grave, and their honour was laid in the dust. Until 
fche Lord take off our heart by the light and power of his grace, we 
remain as sottish and foolish and worldly as they. Thus you see- 
how much it concerns you to be right in the notion of true blessedness. 

Doct. 2. That sincere, constant, uniform obedience to God's law is 
the only way to true blessedness. 

This is called a way, and this way is said to be God's laio, and m 
this way we must be undefiled ; which implies not absolute purity and 
legal perfection, but gospel sincerity ; and in this way we must walk, 
which notes both uniformity and constancy ; it must be our course,, 
and we must persevere therein. 

Three things need to be opened : 

1. Speak to the rule. 

2. Of conformity to the rule ; that it must be sincere, uniform, and 

3. How this is the way to true happiness ; what respect it hath to 
true blessedness. 

First, The rule is the law of God. All created beings have a rule. 
Christ's human nature was the highest of all creatures, and yet it i 
to be in subjection to God ; he is under a rule : Gal. iv. 4, ' Made of a 
woman, made under the law/ The angels they have many immunities 
above man ; they are freed from death, from the necessities of meat 
and drink ; but they are not free from the law ; they are not sui juris, 
at their own dispose ; they ' obey his commands, hearkening unto the- 
voice of his word/ Ps. ciii. 20. Inanimate creatures, sun, moon, 
stars, are under a law of providence, under a covenant of night and 
day : Ps. cxlix. 6, ' He has also stablished them for ever ; he hath 
made a decree which shall not pass.' They have their courses and 
appointed motions, and keep to the just points of their compass. All 
creatures are under a law, according to which they move and act. 
Much more now is man under a law, because he hath election and 
choice. But if the law were not a rule to a Christian (as some Antino- 
mians have that opinion), if it were not in force, then there should be no 
sin or duty ; for ' where there is no law, there is no transgression ; * 
for the nature of ' sin is the transgression of the law,' 1 John iii. 4 ^ 
Kom. iv. 15. Certainly the law as a rule is a very great privilege ; 
and surely Christ did not come to lessen or abolish the privileges of 
his people: Deut. iv. 4, ' There is no nation hath such statutes ;' Ps. 
cxlvii. 20, 'He hath made known his statutes to Israel/ was their 
prerogative. If the law might be disannulled as to new creatures,. 


then why doth the Spirit of God write it with such legible characters 
in their hearts ? This is promised as the great blessm- of the cove 
nant of grace, Heb. viii. 10. Now, that which the Spirit engraves 
upon the heart, would Christ come to deface and abolish ? The law 
was written upon tables of stone, and the great work of the bpirit is 
to write it upon the table of the heart ; and the ark was a chest where 
the law was kept, and with allusion to it God saith, ' I will put my 
law into their heart/ Clearly, then, there is a rule, and this rule is 
the law of God. Now, this rule must be consulted with upon all 
occasions, if we would obtain true blessedness, both to inform us, and 
to awe us. 

First, To inform us, that we may not act short or over. 

1. Not short. There are many false rules with which men please 
themselves, and are but so many byways that lead us off from our own 
happiness. For instance, good meaning, that is a false rule ; the world 
lives by guess and devout aims. But if good meaning were a rule, 
a man may oppose the interest of Christ, destroy his servants, and all 
upon good meaning : John xvi. 2, ' Those that kill you will think they 
do God good service.' Men may grossly err that follow a blind con 
science. Custom, that is another. It is no matter what others have 
done before us, but what Christ did before them all. If custom carried 
it, most of Christ's institutions would be out of doors. Example of 
others ; that is no good rule. It is not for us to go where others have 
gone before ; but what is the true way : Mat. vii. 14, ' The broad 
way, that leads to destruction, and many walk therein.' The path to 
hell is most beaten ; we are not always to follow the track ; they are 
dead fishes which swim down the stream : we are not to be led away 
with custom and example, and do as others do. Our own desires and 
inclinations are not our rule. Oh, how miserable should we be if our 
lust were our law, if the bent of our hearts were our rule ! Jude 16, 
4 Walking after their own lusts,' is the description of those that were 
monsters of men, that had outgrown all feelings of conscience. The 
laws of men are not our rule. It is too narrow and short to com 
mend us to God, to be punctual to the laws of men and no more : 
Ps. xix. 7, 'The law of God is perfect, converting the soul.' To 
convince us of sin, to humble the heart, to reduce and bring us back 
to God, there is no rule for this but the law of God. Men make laws 
as tailors do garments, to fit the crooked bodies they serve for, to 
suit the humours of the people to be governed by these laws ; surely 
they are not a sufficient rule to convince us of sin, and to guide us to 
true happiness. A civil orderly man is one thing, and a godly 
renewed man another. It is God's prerogative to give a law to the 
conscience and the renewed motions of the heart. Human laws are 
good to establish converse with man, but too short to establish com- 
munion with God ; and, therefore, we must consult with the rule, 
which is the law of the Lord, that we may not come short of true 

. That we may not act over. There is a superstitious and 
apocryphal holiness which is contrary to a genuine and scriptural 

Lmess, yea, destructive to it : it is like the concubine to the wife : it 
draws away respects due to the true religion. Now, what is this kind 


of holiness ? It is a temporary flesh-pleasing religion, which consists 
in a conformity to outward rites and ceremonies and external morti 
fications, such as is practised by the Papists and formalists, ' after the 
commandments and doctrines of men : ' Col. ii. 23, ' Which things 
indeed have a show of wisdom in will- worship, and humility, and 
neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh/ 
God will not thank them that give more than he requireth. These 
things have a show of wisdom. As brass money may be fairer than 
true coin, though not of such a value, so this will- worship and super 
stitious holiness may seem to make a fair show, but it is destructive to 
true godliness and scriptural holiness, which guide us to communion 
with God. When men's zeal boils over in a false pretended holiness, 
it quencheth the fire and destroys true godliness and religion. Excess 
is monstrous, as well as defect. Therefore still we must consult with 
the law and rule, that we may not come short or over. 

Secondly, As the law must be consulted with, that it may inform 
us, so that it may awe us, and hold us under a sense of our duty to 
God : ' By the law is the knowledge of sin,' Kom. iii. 19. Usually 
most Christians live by rote, and do not study their rule. Would a 
man worship God so coldly and customarily, if he did consider the 
rule which requires such heedfulness of soul, fervency of spirit, dili 
gent attendance upon God in his ordinances ? Would a man allow him 
self liberty of vain speeches, idle talk, and suffer his tongue to run riot, 
if he did consult with the rule, and remembered that light words would 
weigh heavy in God's balance ? These are condemned by the law of 
liberty : James ii. 12, 'So speak, and so do, as those that shall be 
judged by the law of liberty.' Would a man be so slight in heavenly 
things ? so disorderly and intemperate in the use of pleasure and pur 
suit of worldly profit, if he did consider the rule, and what a holy 
moderation God hath required of us upon all occasions ? This is the 
first thing, namely, the rule, which is the law of God. 

Secondly, There is a conformity to this rule. If you would be 
blessed, there must be a sincere, constant, uniform obedience. The 
will of God must not only be known but practised. Many will con 
clude that God's law in the theory is the only direction to true 
blessedness ; but now, to take it for their rule, to keep close to it, not 
one of a thousand doth that. 

1. Then, sincere obedience is required: 'Blessed is the undefiled 
in the way.' At first hearing of these words, a man might reply, Oh, 
then, none can be blessed, if that be the qualification; 'for who 
can say, My heart is clean ? ' Prov. xx. 9. I answer This undefiled- 
ness is to be understood according to the tenor of the second covenant, 
which doth not exclude the mercy of God and the justification of 
penitent sinners : Ps. cxxx. 3, 4, * If thou, Lord, shouldest mark ini 
quities, who shall stand ? But there is mercy with thee.' There is 
no escaping condemnation and the curse, if God should deal with us 
according to strict justice, and require an absolute undefiledness. 
Well, then, this qualification must be understood, as I said, in the 
sense of the second covenant ; and what is that ? Sincerity of sancti- 
fication. When a man doth carefully endeavour to keep his garments 
unspotted from the world, and to approve himself to God ; when this is 


his constant exercise, ' to avoid all offence both towards God ^and man, 
Acts xxiv 16 and is cautious and watchful lest he should be defiled ; 
when he is humbled more for his pollutions ; when he is always purg- 
ino- bis heart, and doth endeavour, and that with success, to walk m the 
way of God here is the undefiledness in a gospel sense : Ps. Ixxxiv. 
11 ' The Lord will be a sun and a shield/ &c. To whom ? ' To 
those that walk uprightly/ This is possible enough ; here is no 
ground of despair. This is that will lead us to blessedness,_ when we 
are troubled for our failings, and there is a diligent exercise in the 
purification of our hearts. 

2. A constant obedience. Wicked men have their good moods and 
devout pangs in the way to heaven, but they are not lasting. They 
will go with God a step or two. But it is said, ' He that walketh in 
the law of the Lord.' A wicked man prays himself weary of prayer, 
and professeth himself weary of holiness. A man is judged by the 
tenor of his life ; not by one action, but as he holdeth on his way to 
heaven, Job xxvii. 10. Many run well for a while, but are soon out 
of breath. Enoch walked with God three hundred and sixty-five years. 

3. A uniform and an entire obedience : Exod. xx. 1, ' God spake 
all these words/ He commandeth one thing as well as another, and 
conscience takes hold of all. To single out what pleaseth us is to 
make ourselves gods. 

A servant doth not choose his work, but the master. A child of 
God is uniform in one place as well as another, at home and abroad, 
in all the passages of his life, in prosperity and adversity, * whether he 
abound, or whether he be abased,' Phil. iv. He is not like Ephraim > 
as 'a cake not turned;' but there is a uniformity. Doth he make con 
science of piety and worship, and will he not make conscience of 
honesty and just dealing with men ? Will he make conscience of 
his actions, and will he not of his words ? He doth not give up him 
self to idle speech and vain discourse. A hypocrite is best when he 
is taken in pieces, but a sincere man is best when he is taken altogether. 
A Christian is always like himself. It is notable in the story of the 
creation that God views every day's work, and God ' saw that it was 
good ; ' he viewed it altogether, ' and God saw all things that he had 
made, and behold it was very good/ When he did consider the 
whole correspondence of his works, how they answered one another, 
then God was delighted in it. So a Christian is most delighted in 
the review of his course and walking according to the commandment. 

Thirdly, What respect hath this to true blessedness ? It is the way 
to it: ^ Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the 
Lord/ This will appear in two respects (1.) It is the beginning of 
blessedness. Likeness to God is the foundation of glory. Conformity 
to him will be carried on 'from glory to glory/ 2 Cor. iii. 18. And 
as conformity unto, so communion with, God in the beauties of holi 
ness is the beginning of happiness : " As for me, I will behold thy 
face in righteousness ; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy like 
ness/ Ps. xvii. 15. (2.) Sincere and constant obedience is the evidence 
of our right to future blessedness. A man hath somewhat to show 
for it, Mat. v. 8. It is an inclusive evidence : ' Blessed are the pure in 
heart, for they shall see God ; ' and it is an exclusive evidence : Heb. 


xii. 14, 'Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.' Well, then, 
when this is our way and course, we may expect happiness hereafter. 
The uses are 

1. To show you that carnal men live as if they sought misery rather 
than happiness : Prov. viii. 36, ' He that sins against me wrongs his 
own soul ; all that hate me love death/ If a man were travelling to 
York, who would say his aim was to come to London ? Do these men 
pursue happiness that walk in such defilement ? It is the way of God's 
law that leads to true blessedness. 

2. To press you to walk according to this rule, if you would be 
blessed. To this end let me press you to take the law of God for your 
rule, the Spirit of God for your guide, the promises for your encourage 
ment, and the glory of God for your end. 

[1.] Take the law of God for your rule. Study the mind of God, 
and know the way to heaven, and keep exactly in it. It is an argu 
ment of sincerity when a man is careful to practise all that he knows, 
and to be inquisitive to know more, even the whole will of God, and 
when the heart is held under awe of God's word. If a commandment 
stand in the way, it is more to a gracious heart than if a thousand 
bears and lions were in the way more than if an angel stood in the 
way with a flaming sword : Prov. xiii. 13, ' He that feareth the com 
mandment shall be rewarded.' Would you have blessings from God ? 
fear the commandment. It is not he that fears wrath, punishment, 
inconveniences, troubles of the world, molestations of the flesh ; no, 
but he that dares riot make bold with a commandment. As Jer. xxxv. 
6, Go, bring a temptation, set pots of wine before the Eechabites. 
Oh, they durst not drink of them. Why ? ' Jonadab the son of Kechab, 
our father, commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine/ Thus a 
child of God doth reason when the devil comes and sets a temptation 
before him, and being zealous for God, dares not comply with the 
lusts and humours of men, though they should promise him peace, 
happiness, and plenty. A wicked man'tnakes no bones of a command 
ment ; but a godly man, when he is in a right posture of spirit, and the 
awe of God is upon him, dare not knowingly and wittingly go aside 
and depart from God. 

[2.] Take the Spirit of God for your guide. We can never walk in 
God's way without the conduct of God's Spirit. -We must not only 
have a way, but a voice to direct us when we are wandering : Isa. 
xxx. 21, ' And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This 
is the way, walk in it/ Sheep have a shepherd as well as a fold, and 
children that learn to write must have a teacher as well as a copy ; 
and so it is not enough to have a rule, but we must have a guide, 
a monitor, to put us in mind of our duty. The Israelites had a pillar 
of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. The gospel church is 
not destitute of a guide : Ps. xxxvii. 24, ' Thou shalt guide me with 
thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory/ The Spirit of God 
is the guide and director to warn us of our duty" 

J3.] The promises for your encouragement. If you look elsewhere, 
live by sense, and not by faith, you shall have discouragements 
enough. How shall a man carry himself through the temptations of 
the world with honour to God ? 2 Pet. i. 4, ' Whereby are given unto 


us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be 
partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruptions that are 
in the world through lust.' When we have promises to bear us up, 
this will carry us clear through temptations, and make us act gener 
ously, nobly, and keep close to him. 

[4] Fix the glory of God for your aim ; else it is but a carnal 
course. The spiritual life is a living to God, Gal. ii. 20, when he is 
made the end of every action. You have _ a journey to take, and 
whether you sleep or wake, your journey is still a-going. As in a ship, 
whether men sit, lie, or walk, whether they eat or sleep, the ship holds 
on its course, and makes towards its port , so you all are going into 
another world, either to heaven or hell, the broad or the narrow way. 
And then do but consider how comfortable it will be at your jour 
ney's end, in a dying hour, to have been undefiled in the way ; then 
wicked men that are defiled in their way will wish they had kept 
more close and exact with God. Even those that now wonder at the 
niceness and zeal of others, when they see that they must in earnest 
into another world, oh, then that they had been more exact and watch 
ful, and stuck closer to the rule in their practice, discourses, com 
pliances ! Men will have other notions then of holiness than they 
had before. Oh, then they will wish that they had been more circum 
spect. Christ commended the unjust steward for remembering that in 
time he should be put out of his stewardship. You will all fail within a 
little while ; then your poor, shiftless, naked souls must launch out into- 
another world, and immediately come to God. How comfortable will 
it be then to have walked closely according to the line of obedience ! 

Doct. 3. That a close walker not only shall be blessed, but is blessed, 
in hand as well as in hope. 

How is he blessed ? 

1. He is freed from wrath. He hath his discharge, and the blessed 
ness of a pardoned man : John v. 24, ' He that believeth on Christ 
hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, for he 
hath passed from death to life/ He is out of danger of perishing, 
which is a great mercy. 

2. He is taken into favour and respect with God : John xv. 14, 
* Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.' There is a 
real friendship made up between us and Christ, not only in point of 
harmony and agreement of mind, but mutual delight and fellowship 
with each other. 

3. He is under the special care and conduct of God's providence, 
that he may not miscarry : 1 Cor. iii. 23, ' All things are yours, and 
ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.' All the conditions of his life are 
overruled for good ; his blessings are sanctified, and his miseries un- 
stinged : Kom. viii. 28, ' And we know that all things work together 
for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according 
to his purpose.' 

4. He hath a sure covenant-right to everlasting glory : 1 John iii. 1, 
' Behold, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear 
what we shall be/ &c. Is a title nothing before we come to enjoy the 
estate ? We count a worldly heir happy, as well as a possessor ; and 
are not God's heirs happy ? 


5. He hath sweet experiences of God's goodness towards him here 
in this world : Ps. xvii. 15, ' As for me, I will behold thy face in 
righteousness ; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness/ 
The joy of the presence and sense of the Lord's love will counter 
balance all worldly joys. 

6. He hath a great deal of peace : Gal. vi. 16, 'And as many as 
walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the 
Israel of God/ Obedience and holy walking bringeth peace : ' Great 
peace have they which love thy law, and nothing shall offend them/ 
Ps. cxix. 165 ; as there is peace in nature when all things keep their 
place and order. This peace others cannot have. There is a differ 
ence between a dead sea and a calm sea. A stupid conscience they 
may have, not a quiet conscience. The virtue of that opium will 
soon be spent ; conscience will again be awakened. 

Use. Oh, then, let us put in for a share of this blessedness ! There 
are two encouragements in the service of Christ our vails and our 
wages. Our wages should be enough, the eternal enjoyment of him 
self. But oh ! we cry out of the tediousness of the way. We have 
our vails also, that are not contemptible. If a man should offer a 
lordship or farm to another, and he should say, The way is dirty and 
dangerous, the weather very troublesome ; I will not look after it 
would you not accuse this man of folly, that loves his ease and pleasure ? 
But now, if this man were assured of a pleasant path and good way, if 
he would but take a little pains to go over and see it, this were gross 
folly indeed to refuse it. Our Lord hath made over a blessed inheri 
tance to us upon gospel terms ; but we are full of prejudices, in that 
to keep close to the rule may bring trouble, and deprive us of many 
advantages of gain ; and we think we shall never see good day more. 
But we are assured there is a great blessing goeth along with 
God's yoke ; and we having a promise of the enjoyment of God's 
presence where there are pleasures for evermore, this should make us 
rouse up ourselves in the work of the Lord. 


Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, that seek him with the 
whole heart. VEE. 2. 

IN this psalm the man of God begins with a description of the way to 
true blessedness. In the former verse a blessed man is described by 
the course of his actions, ' Blessed are the undefiled in the way/ In. 
this, by the frame of his heart, ' Blessed are they that keep his testi 
monies, that seek him with the whole heart/ The internal principle of 
good actions is the verity and purity of the heart. 

Here you may take notice of two marks of a blessed man : 

1. They keep his testimonies. 

2. They seek him with the whole heart. 

Doct. 1. They that keep close to God's testimonies are blessed. 
By way of explication, two things take notice of : 


1. The notion that is given to precepts and counsels in the word : 
they are called his testimonies. 

2. The respect of the blessed man to these testimonies, to keep them. 

First, The notion by which the word of God is expressed is testi 
monies whereby is intended the whole declaration of Gods will, in 
doctrines, commands, examples, threatenings, promises. The whole 
word is the testimony which God hath deposed for the satisfaction of 
the world about the way of their salvation. Now, because the word of 
God brancheth itself into two parts, the law and the gospel, this notion 
may be applied to both. First, To the law, in regard whereof the ark 
is called * the ark of the testimony/ Exod. xxv. 16, because the two 
tables were laid up in it The gospel is also called the testimony, ' the 
testimony of God concerning his Son :' LHL viii. 20, ' To the law, and 
to the testimony ;' where testimony seems to be distinguished from the 
law. The gospel is so called, because there God hath testified how a 
man shall be pardoned, reconciled to God, and obtain a right to eternal 
life. We need a testimony in this case, because it is more unknown 
to us. The law was written upon the heart* but the gospel is a 
stranger. Natural light will discern something of the law, and pry 
into matters which are of a moral strain and concernment ; but evan 
gelical truths are a mystery, and depend l by the mere testimony of God 
concerning his Son. Now, from this notion of testimonies we have 
this advantage : 

[1.] That the word is a Ml declaration of the Lord's mind. God 
would not leave us in the dark in the matters which concern the ser 
vice of God and man's salvation. He hath given us his testimony, he 
hath told us his mind, what he approves and what he disallows, and 
upon what terms he will accept of sinners in Christ. It is a blessed 
thing that we are not left to the uncertainty of our own thoughts : 
Micah vL 8, * He hath showed thee, O man, what is good.' The way of 
pleasing and enjoying God is clearly revealed in his word. There we 
may know what we must do, what we may expect, and upon what 
terms. We have his testimony. 

[2.] Another advantage we have by this notion is the certainty of the 
-word; it is God's testimony. The apostle saith, 1 John v. 9, 'If we 
take the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater. 1 It is but 
reason we should allow God that value and esteem that we give to the 
testimony of men, who are fallible and deceitful. Among men, c in 
the mouth of two or three witnesses everything is established,' Deut 
xix. 15 ; ' Now there are three that bear witness in heaven, and three 
that bear witness on earth,' Uohn v. 8. We are apt to doubt of the 
gospel, and have suspicious thoughts of such an excellent doctrine ; 
but now there are three witnesses from heaven, the Father, Word, and 
Spirit; the Father by a voice: Mat iil 7, 'And lo, a voice from 
heaven saying, This is my beloved Son,' Ac. And the Son also by a 
voice, when he appeared to Paul from heaven, Saul, Saul, why perse- 
cutest thou me ?' And the Holy Ghost gave his testimony, descendr 
ing upon him in the form of a dove, and upon the apostles 'in cloven 
tonguesoffire. 'And there are three that bear record on earth;' for he 
earth, 1 Johnv.10, 'He that believetb, ^tT^y^uipTvp^hehathtlie 


testimony in himself.' What is that ? The Spirit, water, and blood in 
the heart of a believer ; these give testimony to the gospel. The Spirit 
bears witness to the gospel when it illuminateth the heart, enabling us 
to discern the doctrine to be of God, to discern those signatures and 
characters of majesty, goodness, power, truth, which God hath left 
upon the gospel ; and water and blood testify when we feel those con 
stant and sensible effects of God's power coming with the gospel 
(1 Thes. i. 5), both by pacifying the conscience, and bringing joy and 
satisfaction, and by sanctifying and freeing a man from the bondage 
of sin. Water signifies sanctification : John xvii. 17, ' Sanctify them 
by thy truth/ The sanctifying power of God, that goes along with 
the gospel, is a clear confirmation of the divine testimony in it: John 
viii. 32, ' The truth shall make you free.' By our disentanglement 
from lust we come to be settled in the truth. God's testimony is the 
ultimate resolution of our faith. Why do we believe ? Because it is 
God's testimony. How do we know it is God's testimony ? It evi- 
denceth itself by its own light to the consciences of men ; yet God for 
the greater satisfaction to the world, hath given us witnesses, three 
from heaven and three on earth. Every manifestation of God hath sig 
natures and characters of God enough upon it to show from whence it 
came. The creation is a manifestation of God ; now, whoever looks 
upon it seriously and considerately, may find God there, may track 
him by his footprints, * By the things which are made, his invisible 
being and power/ Eom. i. 20. The creation discovers itself to be of 
God ; and if the lower testimony hath plain evidences, much more the 
gospel. Why? For 'he hath magnified his word above all his 
name/ Ps. cxxxviii. 2. The name of God is that by which he is made 
known. Now, there are more sensible characters and impressions of 
God left upon the word, that doth evidence it to be of God, than upon 
any part of his name. 

[3.] This advantage we have by this notion, a testimony is a ground 
of self-examination, or a rule whereby we may judge of our state and 
actions ; for it witnesseth not only de jure, what we must do ; or de 
eventu, what we may expect ; but de facto, whether we do good or 
evil, what we are, and what we may look for from God upon our obed 
ience or disobedience : Mat. xxiv. 14, ' The gospel of the kingdom 
shall be preached in all the world, efc paprvpiov, for a witness unto 
all nations ; ' first to them, next against them, Mark xiii. 9. The 
word is a testimony to them of God's will in Christ, if they receive it ; 
against them if they reject, neglect, or believe it not. Hereby we may 
judge of our condition by our conformity, or difformity and contra 
riety, to the word of God. Christ saith at the day of judgment 
Moses will accuse you : John v. 45, ' There is one that accuseth you, 
even Moses in whom ye trust/ The gospel will accuse. What is now 
an offer will then be an accusation. God will not be without a witness 
at the day of judgment. The creatures, which had an evident im 
pression of God upon them, they will witness against the Gentiles, * so 
that they are without excuse/ Kom. i. 20 ; and the Jews, that were 
under the dispensation of Moses, he will accuse them ; there was light 
sufficient to convince them. So the gospel, which is God's testimony 
concerning his Son, will accuse you if it be not received. Therefore 



it is good to see what the word doth witness or testify ; doth it testify 
good or evil ? for accordingly shall we be treated with in the day of 
mdgmetit. It is sad when we can only say of the scripture as that 
kin of the prophet of the Lord, ' He witnesseth nothing but evil 
ao-ainst me/ 1 Kings xxii. 8. Let us see what God's testimony speaks, 
whether it will plead for us or against us at the great day of the Lord. 

[4.] It upbraids our unbelief, that when God hath not only given us 
a law, but a testimony, still we are backward and careless, 
word of God were no more but a law, we were bound to obey it, be 
cause we are his creatures ; but when it is his testimony, we should 
regard it the more, for now God stands not only upon the honour of 
his authority, but of his truth : 1 John v. 10 ' He that believeth not 
hath made God a liar, because he believeth not the testimony which 
(rod hath given concerning his Son.' We may urge it thus upon our 
hearts What ! shall we make God a liar, after he hath so solemnly 
given his word, that word which hath many signatures, characters, 
and stamps of God upon it ? Carelessness now is not only disobedience, 
but unbelief ; it puts the highest affront upon God, to question his 
veracity and truth, and does not only unlord him, but ungod him, by 
making him a liar. 

So much for the first thing, the testimony of tlie Lord. 

Secondly, The respect of the blessed man to these testimonies ; they 
keep them. What is it to keep the testimonies of God ? Keeping is 
a word which relates to a charge or trust committed to us. Christ 
hath committed his testimonies to us as a trust and charge that we 
must be careful of. Look, as on our part we commit to Christ the 
charge of our souls to save them in his own day, 2 Tim. i. 12, so 
Christ chargeth us with his word (1.) To lay it up in our hearts. 
(2.) To observe it in our practice. This is to keep the word. 

[1.] To lay it up in our hearts. In the heart two things are con 
siderable the understanding and the affections. God undertakes in 
the covenant for both : Heb. viii. 10, ' I will put my law in their mind, 
and write it in their hearts.' The meaning is, that he will enlighten 
our minds for the understanding of his will, and frame our affections 
to the obedience of it. Well, then, you must keep it in your minds 
and affections. 

(1.) In your minds. We must understand the word of God, assent 
to it; we must revolve it often in our thoughts, and have it ready upon 
all occasions. Understand it we must if we would be blessed : ' He 
that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth 
me,' John xiv. 21. We cannot make conscience of obedience till we 
know our duty. He that would keep a thing must first have it ; we have 
the law in possession when we get knowledge of it : Mat. xiii. 23, ' He 
that receiveth the word into good ground is he that heareth the word 
and understands it;' and Luke viii. 13, ' They that hear the word 
and keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience/ It is not enough to 
hear the word, but we must understand it ; and yet that is not all : an 
adversary may understand a truth, or else he cannot rationally oppose 
it. There is assent required, that we believe it as God's testimony, 
and accordingly embrace it, and give it place in the heart. Faith is a 
receiving of the word, Acts ii. 41 ; nay,' we must have it ready upon 


all occasions. Kational memory belongs to the mind or understanding ; 
therefore we keep the word in our minds when it is ever ready with 
us, either to check sin, or warn us of our duty, Ps. cxix. 9. Forget- 
fulness is an ignorance for the time : Prov. iii. 1, 'My son, forget not 
my law ; and let thine heart keep my commandments.' We should 
be ready to every good word and work, as occasion is offered to us. 

(2.) To keep it in our hearts is to have an affection to it. Keeping 
the word relates to our chariness and tenderness of it, when we are as 
chary of the word as a man would be of a precious jewel : Prov. vi. 
20, 21, ' My son, keep thy father's commandments ; bind them con 
tinually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.' Sometimes 
it alludes to the apple of the eye : Prov. vii. 2, ' Keep them as the 
apple of thine eye.' Such tender affections should we have to the tes 
timonies of the Lord, as a man has for his eye. The least offence to 
the eye is troublesome ; a man should be as chary of the commandment 
as he would be of his eye. Sometimes it implies the similitude of 
keeping a way : Josh. i. 7, ' Turn not to the right hand or to the left/ 
A traveller is very careful to keep his way ; so when we are thus care 
ful, tender, chary of God's commandments and testimonies, this is an 
argument of a blessed condition. Thus we are to keep it in the heart. 

[2.] We are to observe it in practice ; Luke xi. 28, ' Yea, rather, 
blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it ; ' that is, 
not only that hear it, but do it. Many have this word in their mind 
and memory, but not in their lives. Without this, hearing is nothing ; 
liking, knowing, assent, pretended affection is all in vain : 1 John ii. 
4, ' He that saith I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a 
liar, and the truth is not in him/ Our actions are a better discovery 
of our thoughts than our words. When we get a little knowledge, and 
make a little profession, we think we observe his commands ; but he 
is a liar if he be not exact, and walk close with God. It is not 
enough to understand the word, to be able to talk and dispute 
of the testimonies of God, but to keep them. It is not enough 
to assent to them that they are God's laws, but they must be obeyed. 
The laws of earthly princes are not obeyed as soon as believed to be 
the king's laws, but when we are punctual to observe them. This is 
to keep the commandment of God ; it implies both exactness and per 
severance : Kev. iii. 8, ' Thou hast kept my word ; ' that is, thou hast 
not apostatised as others have done ; and Prov. vi. 20, ' Keep thy 
father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother,' that is 
perseverance. You see by the first note who are the blessed men ; 
they which own God's testimony in his word, and accordingly look 
upon it as a great charge and trust Christ hath reposed in them and 
given to them that they should keep his law. Now, certainly these 
are blessed. Why ? 

(1.) They are blessed or cursed whom Christ in the last day will pro 
nounce blessed or cursed. Now, in the last day to some he will say, 
* Come, ye blessed of my Father ;' to others, ' Go, ye cursed ;' and he 
hath told us beforehand, that it is he that keepeth his testimonies 
whom he will own in that day, Mat. vii. 20-22. Many will come and 
challenge acquaintance with Christ : ' Lord, we have prophesied in thy 
name,' &c. ; ' Thou hast taught in our streets' (so it is in Luke) ; but 
Christ will disown them : ' I know you not -; depart from me, ye workers 


are blessed for whom Christ mediateth. Now, Christ me- 

a s 

many failings, yet are careful as much as in them lies, then he goes to 
the Father and acquainteth him with it. . 

<J)ffi that are taken into sweet fellowship and communion with 
God certainly they are in a blessed condition. Those to whom God 
wUl be intimate/and manifest himself in a way of gracious commu- 
nkTn are blessed. Now thus he doth to those that keep his testi 
monies: 'If any man love me and keep ^^^^^^ 
Father will love him, and we will make our abode with him. 
whole Trinity will come and dwell in his heart ^ 

But now you must know, there is a twofold keeping of God s test 
monies-legal and evangelical. Legal keeping is in a way of perfect 
and absolute obedience, without the least failing ; so none of us can be 
blessed. Moses will accuse us ; there will be failings in the best. ^ K 


sometimes they manifested a weak faith, sometimes hardness of heart, 
sometimes passionateness when they met with disrespect, Luke ix. ; yet 
Christ returns this general acknowledgment of them when he was 
pleading with his Father, ' Holy Father, they have kept thy word.' 
When the heart is sincere, God will pass by our failings, James v. 11, 
1 Ye have heard of the patience of Job.' Ay ! and of his impatience 
too, his cursing the day of his birth ; but the Spirit of God puts a 
finger upon the scar, and takes notice of what is good. So long as we 
bewail sin, seek remission of sin, strive after perfection, endeavour to 
keep close and be tender of a command, though a naughty heart will 
carry us aside sometimes, we keep the testimony of the Lord in a 
gospel sense. Bewailing sin, that owns the law ; seeking pardon, that 
owns the gospel ; striving after perfection, that argueth sincerity and 
uprightness. Well, then, here is the discriminating note ; if we would 
know whether we come within the compass of David's blessed man, if 
we have a dear and tender esteem of God's testimonies, when we would 
fain have them impressed upon our hearts, and expressed in our lives 
and conversations, ' They keep his testimonies.' 

The next now is : 

2. They seek him with the whole heart. 

This is fitly subjoined to the former for a double reason ; partly, 
because the end of God's testimonies is to direct us how to seek after 
God, to bring home the wandering creature to its centre and place of 


rest ; partly, because whoever keeps the commandments of God, he 
will be forced to seek God for light and help. 

Obedience doth not only qualify us for communion with God, but 
(where it is regarded in good earnest) necessitates us to look after it ; 
for we cannot come to God without God ; and therefore, if we would 
keep his testimonies, we must be seeking of God. Well, then 

' Doct. 2. Those that would be blessed must make this their business, 
sincerely to seek after God. 

1. Observe the act of duty ; they seek the Lord. 

2. The manner of performance, witli the, whole heart. 
First, What it is to seek the Lord. 

1. To seek the Lord presupposeth our want of God : for no man 
seeks what he hath, but for what he hath not. All that are seeking 
are sensible of their want of God. For instance, when we begin to 
seek him at first, it begins with a sound remorse and sense of our 
natural estrangement from him. The first work and great care of re 
turning penitents is to inquire after God. So long as men lie uncon 
verted, they are wholly neglectful of him, and think they do not want 
God : Ps. xiv. 2, ' There is none that understands and seeks after 
God.' They have no affection or desire of communion with God. They 
seek such things as their hearts lust after, but it is not their desire or 
care to enjoy God. But when the conversion of the Jews is spoken of, 
Hosea iii. 5, it is said, ' They shall return and seek the Lord their God/ 
At first conversion men are sensible of their great distance from God, 
and are troubled they have been so long strangers to him. Go to 
another sort of seekers, they are sensible of the same thing ; in case of 
desertion it is clear : Cant. v. 6, ' My beloved had withdrawn himself, 
and was gone ; I sought him, but I could not find him/ They never 
begin to recover until they are first sensible of their loss ; when they 
see Christ is gone, they are left dead and comfortless ; yea, all be 
lievers, their seeking or looking after communion with God is grounded 
upon a sense of want in some degree and measure ; it is little they 
have in comparison of what they want and expect ; and therefore still 
the children of God are a generation of seekers, that ' seek after God/ 
Ps. xxiv. 6 ; whatever they enjoy, they are still in pursuit of more. 
They are always breathing after God, and desire to enjoy more com 
munion with him. A wicked man is always running from God, and 
is never better than when he is out of God's company, when he is rid 
of all thoughts of God. He runs from his own conscience, because he 
finds God there ; he runs from the company of good men, because 
God is there holy conference is as a prison ; he runs from ordinances, 
because they bring God near to his conscience, and put him in mind 
of God : he avoids death, because he cannot endure to be with God. 
But men that have a sense and want of God upon them, will be in 
quiring and seeking after him. 

2. This seeking may be known by the things sought. What do we 
seek for ? Union and communion with God : Ps. cv. 4, ' Seek the 
Lord and his strength ; seek his face for evermore/ It is an allusion 
to the ark, which was a pledge of God's favourable and powerful pre 
sence'; so that which we seek after is God's favourable and powerful 
presence, that we may find the Lord reconciled, comforting and quicken 
ing our heart. Communion with God is the main thing that we seek 


after, as to the enjoyment of his favour in the acceptance of our per 
sons and pardon of our sins. This is that the man of God expresseth, 
in his own name and in the name of all the saints : Ps. iv. 6/7, ' Lord, 
lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us ; ' that God would 
display his beams of favour upon the soul. So Ps. Ixiii. 3, ' Thy 
favour is better than life.' And then his strength too, that he may 
"subdue our corruptions, temptations, enemies, Micahyii. 19 ; and that 
he may supply our wants inward and outward by his all-sufficiency, 
Phil. iv. 19. God telleth Abraham, ' I am God all-sufficient ; walk 
before me, and be thou perfect/ 

3. The formality of the duty may be explained with respect to 
graces and ordinances. It consists in the exercise of grace, and in the 
use of ordinances. 

[1.] The exercise of grace faith and love. (1.) Faith is often ex 
pressed by terms of motion coming, running, going, seeking. Thus 
is the whole tendency of soul towards God expressed by terms that 
are proper to outward motion. Coming notes our serious resolu 
tion and purpose to make after God. Going notes the practice or 
progress in that resolution. Running notes the fervour and earnest 
ness of the soul to enjoy God. And seeking, that notes our diligence 
in the use of means. That faith is implied in seeking appears by 
comparing these two scriptures : Isa. xi. 10, ' To it shall the Gentiles 
seek/ Now when this is spoken of in the New Testament, it is ren 
dered thus, Kom. xv. 12, ' In him shall the Gentiles trust/ So that it 
notes confidence and hope. (2.) It notes love, which is exercised 
herein, which puts upon sallies and earnest egressions of soul after the 
party loved : Ps. Ixiii. 8, ' My soul follows hard after thee/ It is grie 
vous to those who love God to think of separation from him, or to 
forbear to seek after him. The great care of their souls is to find God, 
that he may direct, comfort, strengthen, and sanctify them, and to have 
sweet experience of his grace. Thus the spouse ' sought him whom 
her soul loved/ and gave not over till she found him. 

[2.] Again, it is exercised in the use of the ordinances, as the word and 
prayer. God will be sought in his own ordinances. Christ walks in 
the midst of the golden candlesticks. If you would find a man, mind 
where is his walk and usual resort. When Christ was lost, his parents 
sought him in the temple ; there they found him. If you would find 
Christ, look to the shepherds' tents in the assemblies of his people, 
Cant i. 7, 8 ; there shall you meet him. Only let me tell you, in these 
ordinances it is not enough to make Christ the object of them, to wor 
ship Christ, but he must be made the end of them. To serve God is one 
thing, to seek him another. To serve God is to make him the object 
of worship, to seek God is to make him the end of worship, when 
we will not go away from him without him : Gen. xxxii. 16, ' I will 
not let thee go unless thou bless me/ It is not enough to make use 
of ordinances, but we must see if we can find God there. There are 
many that hover about the palace, that yet do not speak with the 
prince ; so possibly we may hover about ordinances, and not meet with 
God there. To go away with the husk and shell of an ordinance, and 
neglect the kernel, to please ourselves because we have been in the 
courts of God, though we have not met with the living God, that is 


very sad. A traveller and merchant differ thus : A traveller goes 
from place to place only that he may see ; but a merchant goes from 
port to port that he may take in his lading, and grow rich by traffic. 
So a formal person goes from ordinance to ordinance, and is satisfied 
with the work ; a godly man looks to take in his lading, that he may 
go away from God with God ; that he may meet God here and there, 
in this duty and in that, and go away from God with God. A man 
that makes a visit only by constraint, and not by friendship, it is all 
one to him whether the person be at home or no ; but another would 
be glad to find his friend there : so, if we from a principle of love come 
to God in these duties, our desires will be to find the living God. 

Again, if God be not found in an ordinance, yet we must continue 
seeking ; you may find him in the next. Sometimes God will not be 
found in public, that he may be found in private ordinances. The 
spouse ' sought him upon her bed/ then in every street of the city : 
Isa. Iv. 6, ' Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while 
he is near.' In prayer we come most directly to enjoy God, and do 
more especially call him in to our help and relief ; there all graces are 
acted. If you cannot find God in prayer, look for him in the supper, 
and in the word ; if he be not comfortably present in the word, seek 
him by meditation : Cant. v. 6, ' My soul failed when he spake ; ' that 
is, when I considered his speaking, for his wooing was over, my be 
loved was gone ; but when I thought of his speaking my soul failed 
David consults with Nathan, but he could give him no clear answo-r ; 
what then ? 2 Sam. vii. 4, ' The word of the Lord came that rjght 
unto Nathan, saying, Go and tell my servant David/ &c. So when we 
have been inquiring after God all day in public worship, all this while 
the oracle is silent ; but at night, when going over these things again, 
God may be found. Acts xvii. 12, it is said, ' Therefore many of them 
believed.' How ? when they searched the word ; though in the hear 
ing they did not discern the impressions of God upon the word ; but 
when they searched and studied, going over them in private duties, 
God appeared. Heb. xi. 11, it is said, ' She judged him faithful that 
had promised/ How so? at first hearing? No ; Sarah laughed when 
God promised her a son (for it was the Son of God that was in com 
pany with the angels, Gen. xviii.) ; but afterwards, when she considered 
of it, she judged him faithful. 

Thus we must follow God from ordinance to ordinance. It argues a 
great deal of pride in carnal men, that if God doth not meet them pre 
sently they throw off all. Now and then they will see what they shall 
have for calling upon God ; but if God do not answer at the first knock, 
they are gone. 


Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, ilmt seek him with the 
whole heart. VER. 2. 

Use 1. To press you to seek God. The motives are : 

1. It was the end of our creation. We do not live merely to live ; 


but for this end were we sent into the world, to seek God. ^Nature is 
sensible of it in part by the dissatisfaction it finds in other things ; and 
therefore the apostle describes the Gentiles to be groping and feeling 
about for God, Acts xvii. 27. God is the cause of all things, and 
nature cannot be satisfied without him. We were made for God, 
and can never enjoy satisfaction until we come to enjoy him; therefore 
the Psalmist saith, Ps. xiv. 2, We are 'all gone aside, and altogether 
become filthy.' Nature is out of joint; we are quite out of our way 
to true happiness. We are seeking that for which we were created, 
when we seek and inquire after God. 

2. We seek other things that we want with great solicitude and 
care ; we are cumbered with much serving to obtain the world : and 
shall' any thing be sought more than God ? We can least spare him. 
The chiefest good should be sought after with the chiefest care, and 
chiefest love, and chiefest delight ; nothing should be so precious to us 
as God. It is the greatest baseness that can be, that anything should 
take up our time, our thoughts, and content us more than God. When 
we come to God we are earnest for other things : Hosea vii. 14, ' They 
howl upon their beds for corn and wine.' If anything be sought from 
God above God, more than God, and not for God, it is but a brutish cry. 

3. It is our benefit to seek God. It is no benefit to God if we do 
not seek him. The Lord 1 hath no less, though we have less. He 
that hides himself from the sun, doth not impair the light. We 
derogate nothing from God if we do not seek him. He needed not the 
creature : he had happiness enough in himself ; but we hide our 
selves from our own happiness and our own peace. But what benefit 
have we by seeking God ? A great deal of present benefit : Ps. xxii. 
26, ' They that seek thee shall praise thy name.' You will have 
cause to bless God before the search be over. God hath passed his word, 
there are a great many experiences we taste. As they that continue 
in the pursuit of the philosopher's stone find out many experiences 
which are a satisfaction to their understandings, so, one way or other, 
we shall have cause to bless God. The God of Jacob hath openly 
professed we shall not seek him in vain, Isa. xliv. 19 , that is, this is 
a truth God hath written as it were with a sunbeam, that something- 
will come in seeking of God. By seeking him in prayer we carry 
away a great deal of comfort and strength. As we read of that em 
peror that sent not away any one sad out of his presence, so neither 
doth God ; there is some comfort to be had in waiting upon him ; 
and as it brings present comfort and satisfaction, so it brings an 
everlasting reward: Heb. xi. 6, ' He is a rewarder of them that dili 
gently seek him.' If you would have the fruit of your holy calling, 
that which is the result of that religion you do profess, you must dili 
gently seek him, so that in effect we never seek ourselves more than 
when we seek the Lord : Amos v. 6, ' Seek the Lord, and ye shall 
live.' It is the undoubted way to get eternal life, to live for ever. 
They that seek not his face here shall never see his face for ever. With 
what diligence will men court an outward preferment, which is yet 
very uncertain ? Prov. xxix. 26, ' All men seek the ruler's face ; but 
every man's judgment is of the Lord.' What a deal of observance and 

1 Qu. ' it is no benefit to God. If we do not aeek him, the Lord,' &c. ? ED. 

VER. 2.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 25' 

waiting is there for the ruler's face and favour! and yet God disposeth 
of every man's judgment. It is uncertain whether they shall obtain it^ 
yea or nay ; but now, if you seek the face of God in heaven, you shall 
live for ever. 

4. If you do not sensibly find God, yet comfort thyself that thou art 
in a seeking way, and in the pursuit of him : Ps. xxiv. 6, God's peo 
ple are described to be ' the generation of them that seek him.' This 
is the true mark of God's chosen people ; they make it their business 
to get the favour of God, and to wrestle through discouragements. It 
is better to be a seeker than a wanderer. Though we do not feel the 
love of God, nor have the comfort of a pardon, have no sensible com 
munion with him ; yet the choice and bent of the heart is towards him, 
and you have the character of God's people upon you. 

5. You have misspent a great deal of time already, and long ne 
glected God ; therefore, now you should seek him : Hosea x. 22. * It i& 
time to seek the Lord, until he come and rain righteousness upon you/ 
It is time, that is, it is not too late, while we are preserved and invited. 
And again, it is time, that is, it is high time ; the business of your 
lives hath been too long neglected. It is such another expression as 
1 Peter iv. 3, ' The time past is enough to have wrought the will of 
the Gentiles,' &c. God hath been too long kept out of his right, and 
we out of our happiness. The night is coming upon us, and will you 
not begin your day's work ? 

6. This is the reason of affliction : we are so backward in this work 
that we need to be whipped unto it: Hosea v. 15, ' I will go and return 
to my place, saith God, till they acknowledge their offence and seek 
my face.' God knows that want is a spur to a lazy creature ; and 
therefore doth God break in upon men, and scourge them as with scor 
pions, that they may bethink themselves, and look after God. 

Use 2. For direction. If you would seek God 

1. Seek him early: Prov. viii. 32, ' Blessed are they that seek me 
early.' We cannot soon enough go about this work. Seek him when 
God is nigh, when the Spirit is nigh: Isa. lv.6, 'Call upon the Lord while 
he is near/ There are certain seasons which you cannot easily get again ; 
such times when God doth deal more pressingly with you, when the 
word bears in upon the heart, and when God is near unto us. David like 
a quick echo returns upon God : Ps. xxvii. 8, ' Seek ye my face ; my 
heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek/ It would be a great 
loss not to obey present impulses and invitations, and not make use 
of the advantages which God puts into our hands. 

2. Seek him daily; Ps. cv. 4, 'Seek the Lord and his strength; 
seek his face evermore/ That is, from day to day you must be seek 
ing the face of God, in the strength of God. Every hour we need his 
direction, protection, strength ; and we are in danger to lose him, if 
we do not continue the search. 

3. Seek him unweariedly, and do not give over your seeking until you 
find God. Wrestle through discouragements ; though former endea 
vours have been in vain, yet still we should continue seeking after 
God. We have that command to enforce us to it : Luke v. 5, ' We 
have toiled all night; howbeit at thy command/ &c. Though we do 
not presently find, yet we must not cast off all endeavours. In 


spiritual things many times a man hears and goes away with nothing 
but when he comes to meditate upon it, and work it upon the heart, 
then he finds the face of God, and the strength of God. Therefore, 
you must not give over your seeking. 

4. Seek him in Christ. God will only be found in a mediator : 
Heb. vii. 25, Those are accepted ' that come to _ God by him.' ^ Guilty 
creatures cannot enjoy God immediately ; and in Christ, God is more 
familiar with us : Hosea iii. 5, ' They shall seek the Lord their 
God, and David their king.' None can seek him rightly but those 
that seek him in Christ. It is uncomfortable to think of God out of 
Christ. As the historian saith of Themistocles, when he sought the 
favour of the king, he snatched up the king's son, and so came and 
mediated for his grace and favour. Let us take the Son of God in 
the arms of our faith, and present him to God the Father, and seek 
his face, his strength. 

5. God can only be sought ~by the help of his own Spirit. As our 
access to God, we have it by Christ, so we have it by the Spirit : Eph. 
ii. 18, ' For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the 
Father.' As Christ gives us the leave, so the Spirit gives us the help. 
Bernard speaks fitly to this purpose ; None can be aforehand with God, 
we cannot seek him till we find him in some sense : he will be sought 
that he may be found ; and he is found that he may be sought. It is 
his preventing grace which makes us restless in the use of means ; 
and when we are brought home to God, when we seek after God, it is by 
his own grace. The spouse was listless and careless until she could 
take God by the scent of his own grace, when he ' put his finger 
upon the handle of the lock, and dropped myrrh.' By the sweet and 
powerful influences of his grace, she was carried on in seeking after 
God. Thus much for tbe first part of the duty, seek. 

Secondly, Now the manner, with the whole heart. 
Dovt. Whoever would seek God aright, they must seek him with 
their whole heart. 

Here I shall inquire 

1. What doth this imply ? 

2. Why God will be sought with the whole heart ? 

1. What doth this imply ? It implies sincerity and integrity ; for 
it is not to be taken in the legal sense, with respect to absolute perfec 
tion, but in opposition to deceit : Jer. iii. 10, ' Judah has not turned to 
me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord.' It is spoken 
of the time of Josiah's reformation ; many men whirled about with the 
times, and were forced by preternatural motions. The Father of spirits 
above all things requireth the spirit, and he that is the searcher and 
judge of the heart requireth the heart should be consecrated to him. 
Integrity opposeth partiality. There are indeed two things in this 
expression, the whole heart; it notes extension of parts and intension 
of degrees, 

[1.] The extension of parts; with the understanding, will, and affec- 

tons. borne seek God with a piece of their hearts, to explain it either 

n the work of faith or love. In the work of faith ; as Acts viii. 37, 

It thou behevest with all thine heart.' There is a believing with a 

piece, and a believing with all the heart There is an inactive know- 


ledge, a naked assent, which may be real, yet it is not a true faith ; the 
devil may have this : Luke iv. 34, the devil makes an orthodox con 
fession there, ' Thou art Jesus, the Son of the living God.' This is 
only a conviction upon the understanding, without any bent upon the 
heart. It is not enough to own Christ to be the true Messiah, but we 
must embrace him, put our whole trust in him. There may be an 
assent joined with some sense and conscience, and some vanishing 
sweetness and taste by the reasonableness of salvation by Christ, Heb. 
vi. 4 ; but this is not believing with all the heart ; it is but a taste, a 
lighter work upon the affections, and therefore bringeth in little experi 
ence. There may be some assent, such as may engage to profession 
and partial reformation, but the whole heart is not subdued to God. 
Then do we believe with the whole heart, when the heart is warmed 
with the things we know and assent to ; when there is a full and free 
consent to take Christ upon God's terms, to all the uses and purposes 
for which God hath appointed him : 1 Chron. xxviii. 9, ' Know thou 
the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a 
willing mind;' when there is an effective and an affective know 
ledge ; when we can not only discourse of God and Christ, and are 
inclined to believe ; but when these truths soak into the heart to frame 
it to the obedience of his will. When the Lord had spoken of practical 
obedience, ' Was not this to know me, saith the Lord ? ' Jer. xxii. 16. 
And this is to believe. So for love : Deut. vi. 5, ' Thou shalt love the 
Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all 
thy might/ Every faculty must express love to God. Many will be 
content to give God a part. God hath their consciences, but the world 
their affections. Their heart is divided, and the evidence of it is plainly 
this : In their troubles and extremities they will seek after God, but 
this is not their constant work and delight. We are welcome to God 
when we are compelled to come into his presence. God will not say, 
as men, You come in your necessity. But we must then be sincere in 
our addresses, and rest in him as our portion and all-sufficient good. 

[2.] For intension of degrees. To seek God with the whole heart, 
is to seek him with the highest elevation of our hearts. The whole 
heart must be carried out to God, and to other things for God's sake. 
As harbingers, when they go to take up room for a prince, they take up 
the whole house, none else must have place there ; so God, he will have 
the whole heart. 

Again, it may be considered as to the exaction of the law, and as a 
rule of the gospel. 

(1.) As an exaction of the law ; and so Christ urged it to the young 
man that was of a pharisaical institution, to abate his pride and con 
fidence : Mat. xxii. 37, ' Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all 
thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind/ Certainly 
these words there have a legal importance and signification ; for in an 
other Evangelist, Luke x. 28, it is added, ' Do and live,' which is the 
tenor of the law. And Christ's intent was to abate the Pharisees' pride, 
by propounding the rigour of the first covenant. The law requireth 
complete love without the least defect ; according to the terms of it, a 
grain wanting would make the whole unacceptable ; as a hard land 
lord, when all the rent is not brought to the full, he accepteth none. 


It is good to consider it under this sense, that we may seek God in 
Christ to quicken us, that we may value our deliverance by him from 
this burden, which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear ; a 
straggling thought, a wandering glance, the least outrunning of the 
heart, had rendered us accursed for ever. 

(2.) It may be considered as a rule of the gospel, which requireth 
our utmost endeavours, our bewailing infirmities and defects, but 
accepts of sincerity. There will be a double principle in us to the last, 
but there should not be a double heart. So that this expression of 
seeking the Lord with the whole heart is reconcilable enough with the 
weaknesses of the present state. For instance : 1 Kings xiv. 8, ' My 
servant David, who kept my commandments, and who followed me 
with all his heart, and did that only which was Bright in mine eyes/ 
David had many failings, and some that left an indelible brand upon 
him, in the matter of Uriah, yet because of his sincerity, and habitual 
purpose, God saith, ' He hath kept all my commandments.' So in 
Josiah : 2 Kings xxiii. 25, ' Like to him there was no king before him, 
that turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with 
all his might/ Yet he also had his imperfections ; against the warn 
ing of the Lord he goes out with a wicked king, and dies in battle. 
So Asa : 2 Chron. xv. 17, * The high places were not taken away ' it 
was a failing in that holy king yet it is said, ' The heart of Asa was 
perfect all his days/ Well, then, when the whole heart is engaged in 
this work, when we do not only study to know God, but make it our 
work to enjoy him, to rest in him as our all-sufficient portion, though 
there will be many defects, yet then are we said to seek him with the 
whole heart. 

2. The reasons why God will be sought with the whole heart are 

[1.] He that gives but part to God doth indeed give nothing. The 
devil keeps an interest as long as one lust remains unmortified, and 
one corner of the soul is kept for him. As Pharaoh stood bucking, - 
he. would fain have some pawn of their return; either leave you? 
children behind ; no, no, they must go and see the sacrifices, and be 
trained up in the way of the* Lord ; then he would have their flocks 
and herds left behind ; he knew that would draw their hearts back 
again, so Satan must have either this lust or that ; he knows by 
keeping part all will fall to his share in the end. A bird that is tied 
in a string seems to have more liberty than a bird in a cage ; it flutters 
up and down, though it be held fast : so many seem to flutter up and 
down and do many things, as Herod ; but his Herodias drew him back 
again into the fowler's net. Thus because of a sinner's danger. 

[2.] Because of God's right. By creation he made the whole, there 
fore^ requires the whole ; ' the Father of spirits' must have the whole 
spirit. We were not mangled in our creation ; God, that made the 
whole, must have the whole. He preserves the whole. Christ hath 
bought the whole : 1 Cor. vi. 20, ' Glorify God in your body and in 
your spirit, which are God's/ And God promiseth to glorify the whole. 
Christians, it would be uncomfortable to us if God should only take a 
part to heaven. All that you have is to be glorified in the day of 
Uhrist ; all that you are and have must be given to him whole spirit, 
soul, and body. Let us not deprive him of any part. 


Use. Well, do we serve God and seek after God with the whole 
heart ? The natural mother had rather part with the whole than 
see the child divided, 1 Kings iii. 26. God had rather part with the 
whole than take a piece. Either he will have the whole of your love, 
or leave the whole to Satan. The Lord complains, Hosea x. 2, * Their 
heart is divided.' Men have some affections for God many times, but 
they have affections for their lusts too, the world hath a great share 
and portion of their heart. 

Quest. But when, in a gospel sense, may we be said to seek God 
with the whole heart ? Take it in these short propositions. 

1. When the settled purpose of our souls is to cleave to God, to love 
and serve him with an entire obedience, both in the inward and out 
ward man, when this is the full determination and consent of our 

2. When we do what we can by all good means to maintain this 
purpose ; for otherwise it is but a fruit of conviction, a freewill pang : 
Acts xxiv. 16, ' Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a con 
science void of offence towards God, and towards all men.' 

3. When we search out our defects, and are ever bewailing them 
with kindly remorse : Kom. vii. 24, ' wretched man that I am ! who 
shall deliver me from this body of death?' 

4. When we run by faith to Christ Jesus, and sue out our pardon 
and peace in Christ's name, until we come to be complete in him : Col. 
i. 10, ' That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being 
fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.' 

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

STILL the Psalmist continues the description of a blessed man. In the 
two first verses, holiness (which is the way to and evidence of blessed 
ness) is considered with respect to the subject and the object of it, the 
life and the heart of man. The life of man, ' Blessed are the undefiled 
in the way.' The heart of man, they ' seek him with the whole heart.' 

Now, holiness is considered, in the parts of it, negatively and 
positively. The two parts of holiness are an eschewing of sin and 
studying to please God. You have both in this verse, ' They also do 
no iniquity : they walk in His ways/ 

First, You have the blessed man described negatively, they do no 
iniquity. Upon hearing the words, presently there occurs a doubt, 
how then can any man be blessed? for 'there is not a man that 
liveth and sinneth not,' Eccles. vii. 20 ; and James iii. 2, ' In many 
things we offend all.' To deny it, is a flat lie against the truth, and 
against our own. experience. * If we say we have no sin, we deceive 
ourselves, and the truth is not in us,' 1 John i. 8. The expression 
may be abused on the one side, to establish the impeccability and per 
fection of the saints. On the other side, it may be abused by persons 
of a weak and tender conscience, to the hindrance of their comfort 


and rejoicing in God. When they shall hear this is the character of 
a blessed man, 'they do no iniquity,' they are very apt to conclude 
against their own regeneration, because of their daily failings. 
To avoid these difficulties, I shall inquire 

1. What it is to do iniquity. 

2. Who are the persons among the sons ot men that may be said to 
do no iniquity. 

First What it is to do iniquity ? If we make it our trade and 
' practice' to continue in wilful disobedience. To sin is one thing, but 
to make sin our work is another: 1 John iii. 9, 'He that is born of 
God doth not commit sin ; ' he doth not work sin ; and Mat. vii. 23, 
' Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.' That is the character of 
the reprobate workers of iniquity. So John viii. 34, ' Whosoever 
committeth sin is the servant of sin.' Sin is their constant trade : 
Ps. cxxxix. 24, 'See if there be any wicked way in me/ None 
are absolutely freed from sin, but it is not their trade, their way, 
their work. When a man makes it his study and business to carry 
on a course of sin, then he is said to do iniquity. 

Secondly, Who are those that are said to do no iniquity in God's 
account, though they fail often through weakness of the flesh and 
violence of temptation ? Answer 

1. All such as are renewed by grace, and reconciled to God by 
Christ Jesus ; to these God imputeth no sin to condemnation, and in 
his account they do no iniquity. Notable is that, 1 Kings xiv. 8. It 
is said of David, ' He kept my commandments, and followed me with 
all his heart, and did that only which was right in mine eyes.' How 
can that be ? We may trace David by his failings ; they are upon 
record everywhere in the word ; yet here a veil is drawn upon them ; 
God laid them not to his charge. There is a double reason why 
their failings are not laid to their charge. Partly, because of their 
general state ; they are in Christ, taken into favour through him ; and 
* there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ/ B-oin. viii. 1 ; 
therefore particular errors and escapes do not alter their condition. 
Which is not to be understood as if a man should not be humbled, 
and ask God's pardon for his infirmities; no, for then they prove 
iniquities, they will lie upon record against us. It was a gross fancy 
of the Valentinians, that held they were not defiled with sin what 
soever they committed ; though base and obscene persons, yet still 
they were as gold in the dirt. No, no ; we' are to recover ourselves by 
repentance, to sue out the favour of God. When David humbled 
himself, and had repented, then saith Nathan, 2 Sam. xii. 13, 'The 
Lord hath put away thy sin.' Partly, too, because their bent and 
habitual inclination is to do otherwise. They set themselves to 
comply with God's will, to seek and serve the Lord, though they are 
clogged with many infirmities. A wicked man sinneth with delibera 
tion and delight ; his bent is to do evil ; he ' makes provision for lusts/ 
Ptom. xiii. 12, and serves them by a voluntary subjection, Titus iii. 3. 
But those that are renewed by grace are not debtors to the flesh ; they 
have taken another debt and obligation upon them, which is to serve 
the Lord, Kom. viii. 12. Partly, too, because their general course and 
way is to do otherwise. Unumquodque operatur secundum suamfor- 


mam everything works according to its form ; the constant action a 
of nature are according to the kind. So the new creature, his constant 
operations are according to grace. A man is known by his custom, 
and the course of his endeavours, what is his business. If a man be 
constantly, easily, frequently carried away to sin, it discovers a habit 
of soul, and the temper of his heart. Meadows may be overflown, but 
marsh ground is drowned with the return of every tide. A child of 
God may be carried away, and act contrary to the bent and inclination 
of the new nature ; but when men are drowned and overcome with the 
return of every temptation, and carried away, it argues a habit of sin. 
And partly, because sin never carries it away clearly, but with some 
dislikes and resistances of the new nature. The children of God make 
it their business to avoid all sin, by watching, praying, mortifying : 
Ps. xxxix. 1, ' I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not 
with my tongue/ And then there is a resistance of the sin. God 
hath planted graces in their hearts; the fear of his majesty, that 
works a resistance ; and therefore there is not a full allowance of what 
they do. This resistance sometimes is more strong ; then the tempta 
tion is overcome : ' How can I do this wickedness, and sin against 
God ? ' Gen. xxxix. 9. Sometimes it is more weak, and then sin 
carries it, though against the will of a holy man : Eom. vii. 15, 18, ' The 
evil which I hate, that do I.' It is the evil which they hate ; they 
protest against it ; they are like men which are oppressed by the 
power of the enemy. And then there is a remorse after the sin: 
4 David's heart smote him/ It grieves and shames them that they do 
evil. There is tenderness goes with the new nature ; Peter sinned 
foully, but he went out and wept bitterly. 

Well, then, the point is this : 

Doct. 1. They that are and shall be blessed are such as make it 
their business to avoid all sin. 

I may illustrate it by these reasons : 

1. Surely they shall be blessed, for they take care to remove the 
makebate, the wall of partition between God and them. It is sin 
which separates: Isa. fix. 2, 'But your iniquities have separated 
between you and your God.' This was that which cast angels out of 
heaven ; when they had sinned, God could endure their company no 
longer. This cast Adam out of paradise. This is that which hinders 
men from communion with God. 

2. These are men fitting and preparing themselves for the enjoy 
ment of their great hopes : Col. i. 12, ' Who hath made us meet to be 
partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light ; ' 1 John iii. 3, 
' He that hath this hope purifieth himself, even as he is pure.' Esther, 
when she was chosen to be bride and spouse to that great king, 
had her months of purification. The time we spend in the world are 
the months of our purification ; it is a sign they mind their business, 
they are fitting for eternal happiness. They remember they are 
shortly to appear before the great God, therefore they would not be 
uncomely. Joseph washed his garments when he was to go before 
Pharaoh. They have these hopes that they shall see God as he is, 
that they shall be like him, and he will appear for their comfort ; there 
fore they are fitting themselves more and more. 

3. In them true happiness is begun. There are degrees in blessed- 


ness the angels they never sinned ; the glorified saints they have 
sinned, but sin no more; the saints upon earth, in them sin reigns 
not; therefore here is their happiness begua As sin is taken away 
so our happiness increaseth ; first God begins with us in a way of 
Justification, ne damnet ; he takes away the damning power that is m 
sin and in sanctification the work goes on, ne regnet, that sin may not 
rei<m afterward ne sit, that sin may not be ; therefore these have 
begun their happiness, they are hastening towards it apace. 

Use I. For trial and examination, whether we may be reckoned 
among the blessed men, yea or nay. There are some think, because 
the children of God are liable to so many failings, and there being 
so many wiles and circuits in the heart of man, that there can be 
no judgment made upon the case between the sins of the regenerate 
and unregenerate. But surely there is a difference between the sinning 
of the one, and the sinning of the other, and such a difference as may 
be discerned : 1 John iii. 9, ' Whosoever is born of God doth net com 
mit sin.' Now mark, ver. 10, ' In this the children of God are manifest, 
and the children of the devil.' This is that which distinguisheth the 
children of God from the children of the devil. Well, then, how shall we 
manage this discovery, that we may be able to judge of our own estates ? 

First, Let us consider how far sin may be in a blessed man, in a 
child of God. 

1. They have a corrupt nature, they have sin in them as well as 
others ; it is their misery to the last : Kom. vii. 24, ' wretched man 
that I am/ saith the holy apostle. Sin, though it be dejectum, cast 
down in regard of regency, yet it is not ejectum, cast out in regard of 
inherency ; their corrupt nature sticks by them to the last. One com 
pares it to a wild fig-tree, or to ivy in a wall ; cut off the body, the 
boughs, sprigs, branches, yet still there will be something that will be 
sprouting up again until the wall be digged down. Such an in 
dwelling sin is in us, though we pray, strive, and cut off the ex 
crescences, the buddings out of it here and there, yet till it be plucked 
asunder by death, it continueth with us. 

2. They have their daily failings and infirmities: Eccles. vii. 20, 
' There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth 
not.' Those that for their general state are just and righteous men, 
yet certain sins they cannot get rid of, and are unavoidable ; as sins of 
ignorance, incogitancy, sudden surreption, indeliberate incursions, 
which we shall never be freed from as long as we are in this imperfect 
state. So also imperfections of duty, for we cannot serve God with that 
high degree of reverence, delight, and perfection which he requireth 
There are unavoidable infirmities which are pardoned of course. 

3. They may be guilty of some sins which by watchfulness might 
be prevented, as vain thoughts, idle, passionate speeches, and many 
carnal actions. It is possible that these may be prevented by the ordi 
nary assistances of grace, and if we will keep a strict guard over our 
own hearts. But in this case God's children may be overtaken and 
overborne ; overtaken by the suddenness, or overborne by the violence 
of temptation : overtaken, Gal. vi. 1, ' If a man be overtaken in a fault, 
restore such an one,' &c. ; and overborne, James i. 14, ' Every man is 
tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed/ 

4. They may now and then fall foully ; as Noah by excess of drink, 


Lot's incest, David's adultery, Peter's denial. Failings and infirmi 
ties they are not determined either by the smallness or by the great- 
Bess of the act, but by other concomitant circumstances. Not by the 
smallness of the act. There is as much treason in coining pence as 
shillings and pounds. Allowed affection to small sins is deadly and 
damnable : he that is unfaithful in little will be unfaithful in much. 
Christians, where temptations are weak and impotent, and of slight 
concernment and importance, they may be sooner confuted, and obed 
ience is the more easy ; so that our rebellion to God by small sins may 
be greater. A man may have great affections to small sins ; so it may 
prove an iniquity, a damnable sin. 

On the other side, great sins may be infirmities ; as Lot's incest, 
David's adultery, when they are not done with full consent of soul, 
when their hearts are not wholly carried away with them. Iniquities 
are determined by their manner : Jude 15, * Their ungodly deeds which 
they have ungodly committed : ' when with full consent of will, and it 
is their course that argues an habitual hatred and contempt of God. 

5. A child of God may have some particular evils, which may be 
called predominant sins (not with respect to grace, that is impossible, 
that a man should be renewed and have such sins that sin should carry 
the mastery over grace) ; but they may be said to have a predominancy 
in comparison of other sins ; he may have some particular inclination 
to some evil above others. David had his iniquity, Ps. xviii. 23. 
Look, as the saints have particular graces ; Abraham was eminent for 
faith, Timothy for sobriety, Moses for meekness, &c. ; so they have their 
particular corruptions which are more suitable to their temper and 
course of life. Peter seems to be inclined to tergiversation, and to 
shrinking in a time of trouble. We find him often tripping in that 
kind ; in the denial of his master ; again, Gal. ii. 12, it is said he dis 
sembled and complied with the Jews, therefore Paul ' withstood him 
to his face, for he was to be blamed.' It is evident by experience 
there are particular corruptions to which the children of God are more 
inclinable: this appears by the great power and sway they bear in 
commanding other evils to be committed, by their falling into them 
out of inward propensity when outward temptations are few or weak, 
or none at all ; and when resistance is made, yet they are more pestered 
and haunted with them than with other temptations, which is a con 
stant matter of exercise and humiliation to them. 

Secondly, Wherein doth grace now discover itself, where is the dif 
ference ? 

1. In that they cannot fall into those iniquities wherein there is an 
absolute contrariety to grace, as hatred of God, total apostasy, so they 
cannot sin the sin unto death, 1 John v. 16. 

2. In that they do not sin with the whole heart : Ps. cxix. 176, 'I 
have gone astray like a lost sheep ; seek thy servant, for I do not forget 
thy commandments.' There was somewhat of God in the heart, when 
he was conscious to himself of strayings and wanderings ; and David 
saith elsewhere, * I have not departed wickedly from thy precepts/ 
When they sin, it is with the dislike and reluctancy of the new nature ; 
it is rather a rape than a consent. Bernard saith, A child of God 
suffers sin rather than acts it, and his heart's protest is against it 



3. It is not their course ; not constant, easy, and frequent. Kelapses 
into gross sins, they argue an habitual aversion from God, for a habit 
is determined by the constancy and uniformity ^ of acts ; therefore it is 
but now and then under some great temptation. There is sin, and 
there is a ivay of sin : Ps. cxxxix. 24, c Search me and see if there be 
any way of wickedness in me/ as Chrysostom glosseth. 

4. When they fall they do not rest in sin : ' Shall they fall, and 
shall they not arise ? ' Jer. viii. 4. They may fall into the dirt, but 
they do not lie and wallow there like swine in the mire. A fountain 
may be mudded, but it works itself clean again. The needle that hath 
been touched with the loadstone may be jogged and discomposed, but 
it never leaves till it turns towards the pole again. God's children 
have their failings, but they sue out their pardon, run to their advo 
cate, 1 John ii. 1, humble themselves before God. 

5. Their falls are sanctified. When they have smarted under sin, they 
grow more watchful and more circumspect. A child of God may have 
the worse in prcelio, in the battle, but not in bello, in the war. Some 
times the carnal part may get the victory, and they may fall foul, but 
see the issue : Ps. li. 6, ' In the hidden part thou shalt make me to 
know wisdom/ David had sinned against the Lord, but I have 
learned wisdom, never to trust a naughty heart more, but to look to 
myself better. 

6. Grace discovers itself by the constant endeavours which they 
make against sin. What is the constant course a Christian takes ? 
They groan under the relics of sin ; it is their burden that they have 
such an evil nature, Kom. vii. 24. They fly to God's grace in Christ 
for daily pardon, 1 John i. 9. They are ever washing their garments 
in the Lamb's blood, Eev. vii., and every day are cleansing themselves 
from the filthiness and defilement they contract by sin : John xiii. 10, 
' He that is washed, needeth not save to wash his feet/ An allusion 
to a man that hath been a journey, in those countries where they went 
barefoot, when he came home he must wash his feet. So a man that 
is reconciled to God, though he hath been in the bath, in the fountain 
which God hath opened for uncleanness, yet every day he must be 
washing his feet, cleansing himself by the blood of Christ more and 
more, because he contracts new defilement. Then by using all endea 
vours against it, Col. iii. 5 ; as prayer, striving, watching, cutting off 
the provisions of the flesh, improving the death of Christ. They do 
not voluntarily and without opposition live under sin, and the slavish 
tyranny of it. Their bent and habitual inclination is to do otherwise ; 
therefore they are said to do no iniquity : whereas those that are reck 
less and careless of their souls, sin, and never lay it to heart ; they are 
the workers of iniquity. 

Use 2. If this be the character of a blessed man, to make it our 
business to avoid sin, then here is caution to God's people: 

1. To beware of all sin. 

2. To be very cautious against gross sins, committed against the 
light of conscience. 

3. To beware of continuance in sin. 

First, To beware of all sin. The more you have the mark of a 
blessed man : 1 John ii. 1, < These things I write unto you, that you 


sin not.' Though you have a pardon and cleansing by the blood of 
Christ, though you have an advocate, yet sin not. Now the motives 
to set on this caution are taken from God, from ourselves, from the 
nature of sin. 

1. From God. Sin not. Why ? Because it is an offence to God. 
Consider how contrary sin is to all the persons in the Trinity. To God 
the Father as a lawgiver, being a contempt of his authority, 1 John 
iii. 4. Sin is avo^ta, ' a transgression of the law/ that is, an act of 
disloyalty and rebellion against the crown of heaven. Open sin doth 
as it were proclaim rebellion and war against God ; and privy sin is 
conspiracy against him. All creatures have a law : Ps. cxlviii. 6, 
' Thou hast set to them a decree, beyond which they cannot pass.' 
And they are less exorbitant in their motions than we are. It is a 
greater violation to the law of nature for man to sin, than for the sea 
to break its bounds. The creatures have not sense and reason, yet 
they do not pass beyond the law which God hath set them. This 
should prevail with the new creature especially, whose hearts God hath 
suited to the law, so that they offer a violence to their own conscience. 
Take heed of entering into the lists with God, of despising his autho 
rity. Every sin that is committed slights the law which forbids it : 
2 Sam. xii. 9, ' Wherefore despisest thou his commandments ? ' God 
stands much upon his law, one tittle shall not pass away, and you 
despise it, go about to make it void, when you give way to sin. Nay, 
it is an abuse of his love : 1 John iii. 1, * Behold what manner of love 
the Father hath showed us ; ' you are children and sons of God, and 
will you slight his love ? Your sins are like Absalom's treason against 
his father. The Rechabites are commended for keeping their father's 
command, Jer. xxxv. Set pots before them, &c. No, our father hath 
forbidden us to drink wine. Their father was dead, but ours is liv 
ing ; will you that are sons renounce God, and side with the devil's 
party, and commit sin, you to whom the Father hath showed such 
love that you should be called his children ? Then it is a wrong to 
Jesus Christ to his merit, to his example. To his merit. Christ 
came to take away sin, and will you bind those cords the faster which 
Christ came to loosen ? Then you go about to defeat the purpose of 
his death, and put your Redeemer to shame. You seek to make void 
the great end for which Christ came, which was to dissolve sin. And, 
besides, you disparage the worth of the price he paid down ; you make 
the blood of Christ a cheap thing, when you despise grace and holi 
ness ; you make nothing of that which cost him so dear you lessen the 
greatness of his sufferings. And it is a wrong to his pattern. You 
should be * pure as Christ is pure,' 1 John iii. 3 ; and ver. 7, be 'right 
eous as he is righteous.' You should discover what a holy person 
Christ was, by a conformity to him in your conversation. 2JTow, will 
you dishonour him ? What a strange Christ will you hold forth to 
the world, when his name is upon you will you give way to sin and 
folly ? And it is a wrong to God the Spirit, a grief to him. His great 
and first work was to wash us from sin, Titus iii. 5. You forget that 
such a work was past upon your hearts, and that you 'have been 
purged from your old sins/ when you return to them again, 2 Peter 
i. 9 ; and his constant residence in the heart is to check the lusts of 


the flesh, to prevent the actings of sin. ' If ye through the Spirit 
mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live,' Bom. viii. 13 ; therefore 
you go about to make void his personal operation. Thus it is a wrong 
to God. 

2. By an argument drawn from ourselves ; it is very unsuitable to 
you. We profess ourselves to be ' regenerate ' and born of God : 1 John 
iii. 9, * He that is born of God cannot sin/ It is not only contrary to 
thy duty, but to thy nature, as thou art a new creature. It were 
monstrous for the egg of one creature to bring forth a brood of another 
kind, for a crow or a kite to come from the egg of a hen. It is as 
unnatural a production for a new creature to sin ; therefore you that 
are born of God, it is very uncomely and unsuitable. Do not dishonour 
your high birth. 

3. Consider the nature of sin ; if you give way to it, it will encroach 
further. Sins steal into the throne insensibly ; and being habituated 
in us by long custom, we cannot easily shake off the yoke or redeem 
ourselves from their tyranny. They go on from little to little, and 
get strength by multiplied acts. Therefore we should be very careful 
to avoid all sin. 

The second part of the caution is, beware of gross sins, committed 
against light and conscience. When we are tempted to sin, say with 
Joseph : Gen. xxxix. 9, ' How can I do this wickedness, and sin against 
God ? ' The more of deliberation and will there is in any action, the 
sin is the fouler. Consider, foul sins are a blot that will stick long by 
us. See 1 Kings xv. 5 ; it is said, ' David walked in all the ways of 
the Lord, and turned not aside from anything that he commanded 
him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the 
Hittite.' Why, there were many other things wherein David failed ; 
you read of his diffidence and distrust in God : ' I shall one day perish 
by the hand of Saul/ We read of his dissimulation, and feigning 
himself mad in the company of the Philistines. We read of his injus 
tice to Mephibosheth, his fond affection to Absalom, his indulgence to 
Amnon. We read of his numbering the people, which cost the lives of 
thousands all on a sudden : all these are great failings, but these are 
not taken notice of; but the matter of Uriah left a scar and blot that 
was not easily washed off. 

^ Thirdly, Beware of continuance in sin. How may we continue in 
sin ? In what sense ? Three things I shall take notice of in sin 
culpa, reatus, macula; there is the fault, the guilt, the Hot; and then 
we continue in sin, when the fault, the guilt, or blot is continued 
upon us. 

1. The fault is continued when the acts of it are repeated, when we 
fall into the same sin again and again. Eelapses are very dangerous, 
as a bone often broken in the same place ; you are in danger of this, 
before the ^ breach be well made up between God and you; as Lot 
doubling his incest : to venture once and again is very dangerous. 

2. The guilt doth continue upon a man till serious and solemn 
repentance, till he sue out pardon in the name of Christ. Though 
a man should forbear the act, never commit it more ; yet unless he 
retracts it by a serious remorse, and humbleth himself before God, 
and suefrh out his pardon in a repenting way, the guilt continues. 


* If we confess ' he speaks to believers then sin is forgiven, not 

3. There is the macula, the Hot, by which the schoolmen under 
stand Ii inclination t sm again ; the evil influence of the sin continueth 
until we use serious endeavours to mortify tne rout uf it. TY h?H we nave 
been foiled by any lust, that lust must be more mortified. For instance, 
Jonah, he repented for forsaking his call, when he was cast into the 
whale's belly ; but the sin broke out again, because he did not mortify 
the root ; what was that ? his pride. So that it is not enough to 
bewail the sin, but we must lance the sore, and discover the root and 
core of it before all will be well. A man may repent of the eruption 
of sin, the former act, but the inclination to sin again is not taken off. 
Judges xvi. 2. Sampson loves a woman of Gaza, and she had betrayed 
him ; but by carrying away the gates of the city he saves his life : 
possibly upon that experience he might repent of his folly and inordi 
nate love to that woman. Ay ! but the root remains : therefore he 
falls in love with another woman, with Delilah. Therefore if you 
would do what is your duty, you must look to the fault, that that be 
not renewed ; the guilt, that that be not continued by omission of 
repentance ; and that the blot also do not remain upon you, by not 
searching to the root of the distemper, the cause of that sin by which 
we have been foiled. So much for the first part of the text, They do 
no iniquity. 

The second note is, they walk in his ways. This is the positive 
part ; not only avoiding of sin, but practice of holiness, is implied. 

Doct. 2. It is not enough only to avoid evil, but we must do good. 

' They do no iniquity ; ' then ' they walk in his ways.' Why ? 

1. The law of God is positive as well as negative. In every com 
mand there are precepts and prohibitions, that we might own God, as 
well as renounce the devil ; and maintain communion with him, as 
well as avoid our own misery : Amos v. 15, * Hate the evil, and love 
the good;' Kom. xii. 9, 'Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that 
which is good.' 

2. The mercies of God they are positive as well as privative. Our 
obedience should correspond with God's mercies. Now, God doth not 
only deliver us from hell, but he hath called us to glory. John iii. 
16, The end of Christ's coming is, that we should ' not perish' (there 
is the privative part), but ' come to everlasting life ' (there is the posi 
tive). In the covenant God hath undertaken to be ' a sun and a 
shield/ Ps. Ixxxiv. 11 ; not only a sun, which is the fountain of life 
and vegetation and blessing, but a shield to defend us from danger 
in the world ; therefore our obedience should be positive as well as 

Use. It reproves those that rest in negatives. As it was said of the 
emperor, he was rather not vicious than virtuous. Many men, all 
their religion runs upon note: Luke xviii. 11, 'I am not as this 
publican/ That ground is naught, though it brings not forth briars 
and thorns, if it yields not good increase. Not only the unruly servant 
is cast into hell, that beat his fellow-servant, that ate and drank with 
the drunken, but the idle servant, that wrapped up his talent in a napkin. 


Meroz is cursed, not for opposing and fighting, but for not helping, 
Judges v. 23. Dives did not take away food from Lazarus, but he did 

^_ *- Ml T _ L _Jl T 

nances ? 1 do not swear and rend the name of God by cursed oaths ; 
ay ! but dost thou glorify God and honour him ? I do not profane 
the Sabbath ; but dost thou sanctify it ? Thou dost not plough and 
dance ; but thou art idle, toyest away the Sabbath. Thou dost not 
wrong thy parents ; but dost thou reverence them ? Thou dost not 
murder; but dost thou do good to thy neighbour? Thou art no 
adulterer ; but dost thou study temperance and a holy sobriety in all 
things ? Thou art no slanderer ; but art thou tender of thy neigh 
bour's honour and credit as of thy own ? Usually men cut off half 
their bill, as the unjust steward, when he owed a hundred, bade him 
set down fifty. We do not think of sins of omission. If we are not 
drunkards, adulterers, and profane persons, we do not think what it 
is to omit respects to God, and want of reverence to his holy majesty ; 
to delight in him and his ways. 

In the next place, take notice of the notion, by which the precepts 
of God are expressed ; here they are called ways, * that walk in his 
ways ;' how is that ? not as he hath given us an example, to be holy 
as he is holy, just as he is just ; but his ways are his precepts. Why 
are they his ways ? Because they are appointed by God, and pre 
scribed by him. Which shows the evil of defection and going astray 
from him. It is a despising God's wisdom and authority. The great 
and wise God hath found out a way for the creature to walk in, that 
he may attain true happiness ; and we must still be running out into 
bypaths ; yea, it is a despising of his goodness : ' He hath showed 
thee, man, what is good ;' how to walk step by step. Then they 
are God's ways, as they lead to the enjoyment of him. From thence 
we may learn that many that wish to be where he is, shall never come 
there, because they do not walk in the way that leads to him. A man 
can never come to a place, that will not go in the way that will bring 
him thither : so they will never come to the enjoyment of God in a 
blessed estate, that will not take the Lord's way to blessedness, that 
follow not the course God hath prescribed to them in his word. 

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

THE Psalmist having laid down the description of the blessed man by 
the frame of his heart, and the course of his life, and the integrity of 
his obedience, he comes now to another argument whereby to enforce 
the entire observation of God's law. The argument in the text is taken 
from God's authority enjoining this course, and he propounds it by 
way of address and appeal to God for the greater emphasis and force, 
' Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently/ 

VEB. 4.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix, v 39 

In the words take notice of two things 

1. The fundamental ground and reason of our obedience, which is 
God's command or will declared in his word. 

2. The manner of this obedience. God will not be put off with any 
thing, but served with the greatest diligence and exactness, ' to keep 
thy precepts diligently' The Septuagint renders it, ' That thy com 
mands should be kept exceeding much.' 

In the first part take notice 

1. Of the lawgiver, thou. 

2. His authority interposed, or positive injunction, hast commanded 
us. It is not left to our arbitrament whether we will take up the 
course which leads to true happiness, yea or nay. 

3. The thing commanded, to keep thy precepts. 

Doct. To gain the heart to a full obedience, it is good to consider 
the authority of God in his word. 

There are many courses we must use to draw the heart to an obe 
dience of God. We may urge 

1. The reasonableness of obedience ; so that if we are left at our 
liberty, we should take up the ways of God rather than any other : 
Bom. vii. 12, ' The commnadment is holy, just, and good/ All that 
God hath required, it carrieth a great suitableness to the reasonable 
nature, so that if a man were well in his wits, and were to choose a law, 
he would of his own accord prefer the laws of God before liberty and 
any other service. Certainly there is an excellency in them which is 
in part discerned by carnal men ; they admire those that practise the 
duties which God hath required, though they are loth to submit to 
them themselves. It is no heavy burden to live chastely, humbly, 
soberly, and to maintain a communion and correspondence with God ; 
and whosoever doth so hath much the sweeter life of him that liveth 
sinfully. We may urge 

2. The profitableness of obedience, and how much it conduceth to 
our good : Deut. x. 13, ' The statutes which I command thee for thy 
good.' Our labour in the work of obedience is not lost or misspent. 
A godly course is refreshed with many sweet experiences for the pre 
sent, and will bring in a full reward for the future. 

3. The next motive is that of the text, to urge the command of God. 
It is a course enjoined and imposed upon us by our sovereign law 
giver. It is not in our choice, as if it were an indifferent thing whether 
we will walk in the laws of God or not, but of absolute necessity, unless 
we renounce the authority of God. This is the argument in the text, 
therefore let us see how it is laid down here. 

[1.] Take notice of the lawgiver, thou. It is not our equal, or 
one that will be baffled, but the great God, upon whom thou dependest 
every moment. Men are easily carried away to please those that have 
power over them, even sometimes to the wrong of God and con 
science : Hosea v. 11, * Ephraim walked willingly after the command 
ment;' meaning Jeroboam's law for the worshipping the calves in 
Dan and Bethel. When we depend upon men we consent to their 
commands, and study a compliance, though contrary to our own 
inclinations. And is not God's authority to be regarded ? Surely he 
hath the greatest right to command us, for he made us there is none 


hath such dominion and lordship over us as God hath; and our 
dependence upon him is more than can be upon any created being, 
for ' in him we live, and move, and have our being ; ' and therefore, 
thou hast commanded, this should be a powerful argument. And 
mark, none can enforce his command with such threatenings and 
rewards as he can. Not with such threats : Mat. x. 28, ' Fear 
not him that can kill the body, and after that hath no more/ &c. 
Men can threaten us with strapados, dungeons, halters, and other 
instruments of persecution ; but God, with a pit without a bottom, 
with a worm that never dies, with a fire that shall never be quenched, 
with torments without end, and without ease. Then for rewards. As 
Saul said, ' Can the son of Jesse give you vineyards, and make you 
captains of fifties, of hundreds, and of thousands?' The world 
takes him to have most right to command that can bid most for 
our obedience. Who can promise more than God, who is a plentiful 
' rewarder of them that diligently seek him ' ? Heb. xi. 6. Who hath 
told us of a kingdom prepared for us ; of a body glorious like unto 
Christ's body ; of a soul enlarged to the greatest capacities of a crea 
ture ; and yet filled up with God, and satisfied with the fruition of 
himself. This is the person spoken of in the text, to whom the 
Psalmist saith, ' Thou hast commanded us/ And surely if we would 
willingly walk after any commandment, we should after the command 
ment of the great God. 

[2.] The second circumstance is, hast commanded; he hath inter 
posed his authority. Besides the particular precept and rule of duty, 
there are general commands or significations of God's authority to bind 
all the rest, ' Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts/ If the 
word of God, or rule of obedience, were. only given us as a direction, we 
should regard it as coming from the wisdom of God. But now it is 
an injunction as coming from the authority of God ; therefore in his 
name we may charge you, as you will answer it another day, that these 
precepts be dear and precious to you. Unless you mean to renounce 
the sovereign majesty of God, and put him besides the throne, and 
break out into open rebellion against him, you must do what he hath 
commanded : 1 Tim. i. 9, ' Charge them that be rich in the world/ &c., 
not only advise but charge them. And Titus ii. 15, ' These things ex 
hort, and rebuke with all authority.' God will have the creatures 
know that he expects this duty and homage from them. 

[3.] Here is the nature of this obedience, or the thing commanded, 
to keep tliy precepts. What is that ? to observe the whole rule of 
faith and manners. Believing in Christ, that falls under a command : 
1 John iii. 23, ' This is his command, that we should believe in him 
whom he hath sent/ Repentance is under a command : Acts xvii. 30, 
' He hath commanded all men everywhere to repent/ Upon your 
peril be it, if you refuse his grace. So gospel obedience falls under 
a command, the great God hath charged us to keep all his precepts ; 
to make conscience of all duties that we owe to God and man, Acts 
xxiv. 6 ; the smaller as well as the greater, Mat. v. 19. God counts 
his authority to be despised and laid aside, and the command and 
obligatory power of his law to be made void, if a man shall either in 
doctrine or practice count any transgression of his laws so light and 


venial as not to be stood upon, as if it were but a trifle. Christians, 
if we had the awe of God's authority upon our hearts, what kind of 
persons would we be at all times, in all places, and in all company ? 
what a check would this be to a proud thought, a light word, or a 
passionate speech ? what exactness would we study in our conversa 
tions, had we but serious thoughts of the sovereign majesty of God, 
and of his authority forbidding these things in the word ! 

To offer some reasons of the point, why it is of so much profit to 
consider the authority of God in the command. 

1. Because then the heart would not be so loose, off and on in point 
of duty ; when a thing is counted arbitrary (as generally we count so of 
strictness), the heart hangs off more from God. When we press men 
to pray in secret, to be full of good works, to meditate of God, to 
examine conscience, to redeem time, to be watchful, they think these 
be counsels of perfection, not rules of duty, enforced by the positive 
command of God ; therefore are men so slight and careless in them. 
But now, when a man hath learned to urge a naughty heart with the 
authority of God, and charge them in the name of God, he lies more 
under the awe of duty. Hath God said I must search and try my 
ways, and shall I live in a constant neglect of it ? Hath God bidden 
me to redeem my time, and shall I make no conscience how I waste 
away my precious hours ? Hath God bidden me keep my heart with 
all keepings, and shall I let it run at large without any restraint and 
regard ? It is my debt, and I must pay it, or I shall answer it at my 
peril in the great day of accounts ; it is not only commended but 
commanded : 2 Kings v. 13, ' If the prophet had bidden thee do some 
great thing, wouldst thou not have done it ? how much rather then, 
when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean ? ' 

2. We cannot be so bold and venturous in sinning, when we re 
member how the authority of God stands in the way : Prov. xiii. 13, 
' He that fears the commandment, he shall be blessed ; ' not only the 

Calty, but the command. The heart is never right until we be 
ught to fear a commandment more than any inconveniencies what 
soever. To a wicked man there seems to be nothing so light as a 
command, and therefore he breaks through against checks of conscience. 
But a man that hath the awe of God upon him, when mindful of God's 
authority, he fears a command. Jude 9, it is said of Michael the 
archangel, ' He durst not bring a railing accusation/ He had not the 
boldness, when the commandment of God was in his way. 

3. Many times we are doubtful of success, and so our hands are 
weakened thereby. We forbear duty, because we do not know what 
will come of it. Now, a sense of God's authority and command 
doth fortify the heart against these discouragements : Luke v. 5, 
' Master, we have toiled all the night, howbeit at thy command we 
will cast down the net/ A poor soul that hath long lain at the pool, 
that hath been labouring, following God from one duty to another, 
and nothing comes sensibly of it, yet 'at thy command,' &c., he 
will keep up his endeavours still. This is the very case in the text, 
' Blessed is the man that keeps thy precepts, and that seeks him with 
the whole heart/ Then, presently, ' Thou hast commanded ;' that is, 
though our obedience had no promise of reward, and our felicity were 


not proposed as the fruit of it, yet the command itself, and the 
authority of God, is a reason sufficient. 

4 In some duties that are not evident by natural light, as believing 
and owning of Christ, the heart is more bound to them by the sense 
of a command, than by any other encouragement. It is God's pleasure 

It is enough to set a servant about his work, that it is his master's 
pleasure. Thou dost not stand disputing whether thou shouldst re 
pent or not, obey or not, abstain from fleshly idols, yea or nay, or from 
fornication. And why should you stand aloof from the work of faith, 
and doubt whether you should believe or not ? We have many natural 
prejudices, but this, his command, is a mighty relief to the soul. It 
is his command we should believe in his Son. It is not only a matter 
of comfort and privilege, but also a matter of duty and obedience ; 
and therefore, though we have discouragements upon us I am un 
worthy to be received to mercy yet this will bend the heart to the work. 
God is worthy to be obeyed ; it is his commandment. Thou dost not 
question whether thou shouldst grieve for thy sins why should you 
question whether you should believe in Christ ? If God had only 
given us leave to believe, we could not have had such an advantage, 
as now he hath interposed his authority, and commanded us to believe : 
* Kejoice in the Lord ; and again I say, Eejoice/ Phil. iv. If God had 
only given us leave to refresh ourselves in a sense of his love, it were 
an invaluable mercy ; but we have not only leave to rejoice, but a 
charge. It is our duty to work up our heart to a comfortable sense of 
the love of God, and a fruition of his favour. 

5. Obedience is never right but when it is done out of a conscience 
of God's authority, intuitu voluntatis. The bare sight of God's will 
should be reason enough to a gracious heart. It is the will of God ; 
it is his command, So it is often urged : 1 Thes. iv. 3, the apostle 
bids them follow holiness, ' for this is the will of God, your sanctifica- 
tion/ And servants should be faithful in their burdensome and hard 
labours : 1 Peter ii. 15, ' For so is the will of God, that with well 
doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men/ And 
1 Thes. v. 18, ' In everything give thanks ; for this is the will of God in 
Christ^ Jesus concerning you.' That is argument enough to a godly 
Christian, that God hath signified his will and good pleasure, though 
the duty were never so cross to his own desires and interests. They 
obey simply for the commandment sake, without any other reason and 
inducement. There is indeed ratio formalis, and ratio motiva. There 
are encouragements to God's service, but the formal reason of obedience 
is God's will. And this is pure obedience, to do what he wills, because 
he wills it. 

The uses are: 1. To exhort thee to take this course with thy 
naughty heart. When it hangs back from any duty, or from any course 
of strictness, urge it with the authority of God. These precepts are 
not the advices and counsels of men who wish well to us, and who 
would advise us to the best, but they are the commands of God, who 
must and will be obeyed. Or, when thou art carried out to any sin, 


it is forbidden fruit ; there is a commandment in the way, and that is 
as terrible to a gracious heart as an angel with a flaming sword. 

To back these thoughts, let me propound a few considerations. 

1. God can command what he will. He is absolute. His will is 
the supreme reason of all things. It is notable that God backs his 
laws with the consideration of his sovereignty. You shall do thus and 
thus. Why ? ' I am the Lord.' That is all his reason, Lev. xviii. 
4, 5. It is repeated in that and many places in the next chapter. The 
Papists speak much of blind obedience, obeying their superiors without 
inquiring into the reason of it. Surely we owe God blind obedience, 
as ' Abraham obeyed God, not knowing whither he went,' Heb. xi. 8. 
John Cassian makes mention of one who willingly fetched water near 
two miles every day, for a whole year together, to pour it upon a dead 
dry stick, at the command of his superior, when no reason else could 
be given for it. And I have read of another who professed that, if he 
were enjoined by his superior to put forth to sea in a ship that had 
neither mast, tackling, nor any other furniture, he would do it ; and 
when he was asked how he could do this without hazard of his discre 
tion, he answered, The wisdom must be in him that hath power to 
command, not in him that hath power to obey. Thus do they place 
merit in this blind obedience, in giving up their wills absolutely to the 
power of their superior. Certainly, in God's commands, his sovereignty 
is enough ; the uttermost latitude of this blind obedience is due to 
him. If he hath said it is his will, how contrary soever it be to our 
reason, lusts, interests, it must be done. It is enough for us to know 
that we are commanded. To command is God's part, and to obey 
that is ours, whatever shall be declared to be his will and pleasure. 

2. God can most severely punish our disobedience, and therefore 
his commands should have a power upon us : James iv. 12, * There is 
one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy ; ' with a destruction 
indeed, and salvation indeed. So there is but one lawgiver in this 
sense. He truly hath potestatem vitce et necis. God hath the power 
of life and death. Why ? Because he can punish with eternal death, 
and bestow eternal life. 

3. He is neither ignorant nor forgetful of our prevarications and 
disobedience. The Eechabites were tender of the commandment of 
their dead father, Jer. xxxv., who could not take cognisance of their 
actions : ' Our father commanded us/ Certainly we should be tender 
of the commands of the great God : Prov. xv. 3, ' The eyes of the Lord 
are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.' He is not so shut 
up within the curtain of the heavens but that he takes notice how his 
laws are kept and observed. Saith the prophet to Gehazi, * Went not my 
spirit with thee ? ' meaning his prophetical spirit. So doth God, as it 
were, appeal to the conscience of a sinner. Doth not my spirit go along 
with thee ? Is not he conscious to our works, and observes all we do ? 

4. God stands much upon the authority of his law : Hosea viii. 12, 
* I have written to them the great things of my law/ &c. Mark, he 
calls them ' the great things of his law ; ' they are not things to be 
slighted and contemned. They are not directions of little moment ; 
there is no small hazard in contemning them, or not walking according 


to them. Indeed, we think it a small matter to stand upon every 
circumstance ; but God doth not think so. Uzzah was struck dead in 
the place for failing in a circumstance he would stay the ark, which 
shook. The Bethshemites, sinning in a circumstance, it cost them the 
lives of many thousands. Lot's wife, for looking back, was turned into 
a pillar of salt. Let these things beget an awe upon our hearts of the 
great God, and of what he hath enjoined us. 

Use 2. It informs us of the heinous nature of sin. Of sin in general, 
it is avojjLLa, ' a transgression of the law/ 1 John iii. 4 ; that is, a con 
tempt of God's authority. It is an unlording of him and putting him 
out of the throne. Every sin is an affront to God's authority ; it is a 
despising of the command, 2 Sam. xii. 9 ; you rise up in defiance to 
God, and cast off his sovereignty in despising his command ; more 
particularly, sins against knowledge, or against conscience. You may 
see the heinousness of these sins by this all sins, they proceed either 
from ignorance, or from oblivion, or from rebellion. Sins of ignorance, 
they are not so heinous, though they are sins. A man is bound to 
know the will of his creator ; but then ignorance of it is not so heinous. 
To strike a friend in the dark is not so ill taken as in the open light. 
So there are sins of oblivion, which is an ignorance for the time, for a 
man hath not such explicit thoughts as to revive his knowledge upon 
himself. He is overtaken, Gal. vi. 1. This a great sin too. Why ? 
For the awe of God should ever be fresh and great upon the heart, 
and we are to ' remember his statutes to do them.' But now, there 
are sins of rebellion, that are committed against light and conscience, 
whether they be of omission or commission. We are troubled for sins 
of commission against light ; we should be as much for sins of omission, 
for they are rebellions against God, when we omit a duty of which we 
are convinced : James iv. 17, ' To him that knoweth to do good, and 
doth it not, to him it is sin.' 

Secondly, Come we to the manner of this obedience, Thou Jiast 
commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. From thence note 

Doct. That we should not only do what God hath required, but we 
should do it diligently. 

1. Because the matter of keeping God's precepts doth not only fall 
under his authority, but the manner also. God hath not only required 
service, but service with all its circumstances : 1 Cor. ix. 24, ' I so run 
that I may obtain/ It is our duty, not only to run, but so run, not as 
in jest, but as in good earnest : Kom. xii. 11, ' Fervent in spirit, serving 
the Lord.' Not only serving the Lord, but seething hot in spirit, 
when our affections are so strong that they boil over in our lives. And 
James v. 16, ' The fervent effectual prayer ; ' that prayer which hath 
a spirit and a life in it. Not only prayer is required, but fervency, 
not dead and drowsy devotion. So Luke vii. 18, not only it is re 
quired that we hear, but to c take heed how we hear,' with what 
reverence and seriousness. And Acts xxvi. 7, ' The twelve tribes 
served God instantly, day and night,' with the uttermost extension of 
their strength, so the word signifies. And for charity, it is not enough 
to give, but with readiness and freeness. Be ' ready to communicate: 3 
like life-honey it must drop of its own accord. 


2. The manner is the great thing which God requires ; it is very 
valuable upon several grounds : Prov. xvi. 2, ' The ways of man are 
clean in his own eyes ; but the Lord weigheth the spirits/ What doth 
God put into the balance of the sanctuary when he comes to make a 
judgment ? When he would weigh an action he weighs the spirits. 
He considers not only the bulk, the matter of the action, but the spirit, 
with what heart it was done. A man may sin in doing good, but he 
cannot sin in doing well ; therefore the manner should be looked to 
as well as the matter. 

3. It is a good help against slightness. We are apt to put off God 
with anything, and therefore we had need to rouse up ourselves to 
serve him with diligence : Josh. xxiv. 19, ' You cannot serve the Lord, 
for he is a jealous God,' &c. It is another matter to serve the Lord 
than the world thinks of. Why? For he is holy and jealous ; he is holy, 
and so hates the least failing ; and very jealous, sin awakens the dis 
pleasure of his jealousy he will punish for very little failings. Ananias 
and Sapphira struck dead in the place for one lie ; Zacharias struck 
dumb for an act of unbelief ; Moses, for a few rash words, never 
entered into the land of Canaan; David, for a proud conceit in 
numbering the people, lost seventy thousand men with the pestilence ; 
the Corinthians, many of them died for unworthy receiving. God is 
the same God still: he hates sin as much as ever; therefore we should 
not be slight. 

4. It is a dishonour to God to do his work negligently : Mai. i. 14, 
' Cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth 
and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing, for I am a great king, 
saith the Lord ;' implying that it is a lessening of his majesty. It is a 
sign we have cheap thoughts of God, when we are slight in his service. 
Christians, we owe our best to God, and are to serve him with all our 
might : Deut. vi. 5, * Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy 
heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy might.' It is a lessening of 
his excellency in our thoughts when everything serves the turn. 

5. Keeping the commandment, it is a great trust. God hath left 
this trust with us that we should keep his precepts, therefore it is to 
be discharged seriously. A man is very careful that hath taken a trust 
upon him to preserve it. No men that have given up their names to 
Christ, but they have taken up this trust upon them to keep his precepts ; 
therefore we should do it with all diligence and needfulness of soul. 

6. We have no other plea to evidence our sincerity ; we are guilty 
of many defects, and cannot do as we would, where lies our evidence 
then ? When we set ourselves to obey, and aim at the highest exact 
ness to serve him with our best affections and strength. A child of 
God, he doth not do all that God hath required, but he doth his best, 
and then that is a sign the heart is upright. For what is this 
diligence, but our utmost study and endeavour after perfection, to avoid 
all known evils, and to practise all known duties, and that with as 
much care as we can ? Now, this is an argument of our sincerity, and 
then our slips are but failings which God will spare, pity, pardon : Mai. 
iii. 17, ' I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth 
him/ &c. Where a man is careless, and failings are allowed, then they 
are iniquities. A father, out of indulgence, may pass by a failing when 


his son waits upon him, suppose when he spills the wine and breaks 
the glass ; but surely will not allow him to throw it down carelessly or 
wilfully. We have no other plea to evidence our sincerity but this. 

Use. It presseth us, whatever we do for the great God, to do it with 
all our might, Eccles. ix. 10. There is no weighty thing can be done 
without diligence ; much more the keeping the commandment. Satan 
is diligent in tempting, and we ourselves are weak and infirm ; we can 
not do the least thing as we should. And the danger of miscarrying 
is so great, that surely it will require all our care. Wherein should we 
show this diligence and exactness ? When we keep all the parts of 
the law, and that at all times and places, and that with the whole man. 

1. When we strive to keep the law in all the points of it. This 
was Paul's exercise : Acts xxiv. 16, ' To keep a good conscience void 
of offence both towards God and man.' Mark, here was his great 
business ; this is to be diligent, when a man labours to keep a good 
conscience always. And saith he, Herein, or upon this do I exercise 
myself ; that is, upon this encouragement, upon hope of a blessed 
resurrection, for that is spoken of there. There are wages and recom 
penses enough in heaven, therefore we should not grudge at a little 
work, that we may not be drawn willingly from the least part of our duty. 

2. When we do it at all times and places, and in all company, 
then it is a sign we mind the work, then are we diligent : Ps. cvi. 3, 
' Blessed is he that doth righteousness at all times/ Not only now 
and then, but it is his constant course. We do not judge men's com 
plexions by the colour they have when they sit before the fire. We 
cannot judge of men by a fit and pang when they are under the awe 
of an ordinance, or in good company ; but when at all times he labours 
to keep up a warmth of heart towards God. 

3. When he labours to do this with his whole man, not only in 
pretence, and with his body, or outward man, but with inward affec 
tions : Kom. i. 9, * My God, whom I serve in the spirit/ And the 
true people of God are described : Phil iii. 3, ' To worship God in the 
spirit/ When they labour to bring their hearts under the power of 
God's precepts, and do not only mind conformity of the outward man, 
this is to keep the precepts of God diligently. All this is to be under 
stood, not in exact perfection ; but it is to be understood of our striv 
ing, labouring, watching ; of our praying, and of our exercising our 
selves hereunto, that we may with our whole man come under the 
full obedience of the law of God, and may manifest it upon all occa 
sions, at all times, in all companies and places ; and this is an evidence 
of our sincerity. 


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

IN the former verse he had spoken of God's authority ; now he beg- 
geth grace to obey : ' Thou hast commanded ;' and ' Oh that my ways 
were directed to keep thy statutes ! ' 


1. Note, that it is the use and duty of the people of God to turn 
precepts into prayers. 

That this is the practice of God's children appeareth : Jer. xxxi. 
18, ' Turn thou me, and I shall be turned ; for thou art the Lord my 
God.' God had said, ' Turn you, and you shall live ; ' and they ask it 
of God, ' Turn us,' as he required it of them. It was Austin's prayer, 
Da quod jubes, et jube quod vis, Give what thou requirest, and re 
quire what thou wilt. It is the duty of the saints ; for 1. It suiteth 
with the gospel-covenant, where precepts and promises go hand in 
hand, where God giveth what he commandeth, and * worketh all our 
works in us,' and for us. They are not conditions of the covenant 
only, but a part of it. What God hath required at our hands, that 
we may desire at his hands. God is no Pharaoh, to require brick 
where he giveth no straw. Lex jubet, gratia juvat. The articles of 
the new covenant are not only put into the form of precepts, but pro 
mises. The law giveth no strength to perform anything, but the 
gospel offereth grace. 2. Because by this means the ends of God are 
fulfilled. Why doth God require what we cannot perform by our 
own strength ? He doth it (1.) To keep up his right ; (2.) To con 
vince us of our impotency, and that upon a trial ; without his grace we 
cannot do his work ; (3.) That the creature may express his readiness 
to obey ; (4.) To bring us to lie at his feet for grace. 

Now, when we turn precepts into prayers, all these ends are accom 

[1.] To keep up his right. If we have lost our power, there is no 
reason God should lose his right. A drunken servant is under the 
obligation and duty of a servant still; he is unable to do his master's 
work, bat he is bound to it. It is unreasonable that another should 
surfer through my default. Well, then, God may well command the 
fallen creature to keep his precepts diligently. Now, when we deal 
earnestly with God about it, it argueth a sense of his authority upon 
our hearts. If we were not held under the awe of the commandment, 
why should we be so earnest about it ? If men were more sensible of 
their obligations, we should have more prayers in this kind. This is 
the will of God, and how shall I do to observe it ? 

[2.] To convince us of our impotency, and that upon a trial. Prac 
tical conviction is best. We may discourse of the weakness and in 
sufficiency of the creature, but we are not affected with it till we try. 
A diseased man as long as he sits still feels not the lameness of his 
joints, but upon exercise it is sensible. Now, these prayers are a pro 
fession of weakness upon a trial : Rom. vii. 18, ' For to will is present 
with me ; but how to perform that which is good, I find not/ That 
presupposeth a search, not I cannot, but I find not, and then we 
run to prayer. Every prayer is an acknowledgment of our weakness 
and dependence. Who would ask that of another which he thinketh 
to be in his own power ? 

[3.] That the creature may express his readiness. God will have 
us will, though we cannot do. It is true he giveth both : Phil. ii. 13, 
' For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good 
pleasure/ But the one by preventing, the other by assisting grace, 
Eom. vii. 18. Though we are unable to do what we should, yet it is 


the desire of our hearts. Prayer is the expression of our desire. When 
we heartily beg grace, it is a sign the commandment is not grievous, 
but our lusts. It much discovereth a man's heart, what he counteth 
to be his bondage and the yoke : 1 John v. 3, ' For this is the love of 
God, that we keep his commandments ; and his commandments are not 
grievous/ Which do we groan under ? the burden of the law, or the 
body of death ? That is best seen by our heartiness in prayer. 

[4.] To bring us to lie at his feet. God will be owned not only as 
a lawgiver, but as a fountain of grace. The precept cometh from God 
to drive us to God; his sovereignty maketh way for his grace. He 
calleth upon us for obedience, that we may call upon him for help. 
First, he giveth us a law, that he may afterwards give us a heart. 
God's end is to bring us upon our knees. As hard providences con 
duce to bring God and us together, so do hard commandments. Till 
we be reduced to a distress, we never think seriously of dealing with 

Use. It teacheth us what to do when we meet with anything that is 
difficult and impossible to us; as to repent, believe, to renounce a 
bewitching lust, or perform a spiritual duty. Two ways we are apt to 
miscarry in such a case ; either by murmuring against God, as if he 
were harsh and austere, and had ' reaped where he hath not sown, and 
gathered where he hath not strewed ; ' or by casting off all out of a 
foolish despondency : cut at heart, or else wax faint. These are the 
two evils. I shall never get rid of this naughty heart. Or else we 
fret against God : Prov. xix. 3, c The foolishness of man perverteth his 
way ; and his heart fretteth against the Lord/ Now to prevent these 
evils, spread the case before the Lord in this manner 

(1.) Acknowledge the debt. God will keep up the sense of his 
authority ; his command must be the reason of our care, as well as his 
promise the ground of our hope. (2.) Confess your impotency : 2 Cor. 
iii. 5, * Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of 
ourselves ; but our sufficiency is of God/ This is to empty the bucket 
before we go to the fountain. When we are full of self, there is no room 
for grace. (3.) Own God's power : Mat. xix. 26, c But Jesus beheld 
them, and saith unto them, With men this is impossible ; but with God 
all things are possible/ The difficulties that we meet with in the way 
to heaven should serve only to make us despair of our own strength 
and abilities, not of God's, with whom nothing is impossible. It is a 
relief to consider of the divine power, from whence we fetch all our 
supplies necessary to life and godliness. (4.) Deal with God earnestly 
about help. The command showeth how pleasing such requests are 
to God, and you own God not only as a lawgiver, but author of grace. 
Do not come in a lukewarm, careless fashion, but ' Oh that my heart 
were directed ! ' Sluggish wishes will do no good ; you bespeak your 
own denial when you ask grace as a thing of course : Jer. xxxi. 18, ' I 
have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus, Thou hast chastised 
me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke : turn 
thou me, and I shall be turned ; for thou art the Lord my God/ 

2.^ The next thing that we may note, is the serious desire that is in 
God's people after holiness. Mark, it is not a velleity, but a volition, 
Oh that, noteth the vehemency and heartiness. 


It is his first desire. David had hitherto spoken assertively ; when he 
cometh to speak supplications, his first and chief request to God is, 
' Oh that my ways were directed I ' &c. 

Mark again, it is not a desire of happiness, but holiness ; not ' Oh 
that I were blessed ! ' but ' Oh that my ways were directed ! ' A mind 
to know, a will to obey, and a memory to keep in mind God's precepts. 

It is practical holiness : ' Oh that my ways I ' God hath his ways : 
' They walk in his ways/ ver. 3. And we have our ways : ' Oh that my 
ways were directed I ' that is, all my thoughts, counsels, inclinations, 
speeches, actions, were directed by thy statutes. Every commandment 
is a royal edict, a statute which God hath made for the governing of 
the world. 

Now the saints have this desire of holiness 

[1.] From the new nature that is in them. The appetite followeth 
the nature : Gal. v. 17, ' The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the 
spirit against the flesh : and these are contrary the one to the other ; 
go that ye cannot do the things that ye would/ Desires being the 
vigorous bent of the soul, discover the temper of it. The carnal nature 
puts forth itself in lustings, so doth the new nature. The main thing 
we have by grace is a new heart, that is, new loves, new desires, and 
new delights : Rom. viii. 5, * For they that are after the flesh do mind 
the things of the flesh, but they that are after the spirit the things of 
the spirit/ 

[2.] Out of love to God, which implieth subjection and conformity 
to him. Love to God is testified by a desire of subjection ; for his love 
is a love of bounty, ours a love of duty : 1 John v. 3, ' For this is the 
love of God, that we keep his commandments ; and his commandments 
are not grievous/ It is the great desire of their souls that they may 
be subject to God. As he that loveth would not offend the party loved, 
so it is their desire to please God in all things ; and as holiness im 
plieth a conformity to God, they study to be like him. It is their hope, 
their desire, their care. Their hope : 1 John iii. 2, ' But we know that 
when he shall appear, we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as 
he is.' It is their desire and care in every ordinance : 2 Cor. iii. 18, 
1 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.' And it is their constant endeavour : 1 Peter 
i. 15, ' But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all 
manner of conversation/ 

[3.] Out of experience of the ways of God, of that goodness and 
enlargement of heart that is to be found in them. They have tasted 
and seen how good his laws are. They can answer God's appeal, ' Do 
not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly ? ' Yea, doubt 
less, it is good : Ps. xix. 10, 11, ' The judgments of the Lord are true 
and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, 
than much fine gold ; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. 
Moreover, by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping of them 
there is great reward/ The spiritual life is interlined and refreshed 
with many sweet experiences. 

The use here is, first, a note of discovery ; for men are judged by 
their desires, rather than their practices, as being freest from con- 



straint; and this is humbly represented by the children of God, to 
incline his favour and compassion to them : Neh. i. 11, ' Let thine ear 
be attentive to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name. 
They come short in many things, but they desire to fear God : Isa. 
xxvi 8 ' The desires of our soul are to thy name, and to the remem 
brance 'of thee.' They could speak little of what they had done for 
God Paul was better at willing than performing, till freed from 
'this body of death:' Eom. vii. 18, 'For I know that in me, that is, 
in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing ; for to will is present with me, 
but how to perform that which is good I find not/ This will be our 
best evidence to the last, ' Oh that my ways were directed to keep thy 
statutes ! ' 

But may not wicked men have good desires ? 

Ans. They may have a loose inclination to good things, but not a 
full resolution for God. Wicked men have an enlightened con 
science, but no renewed wills. This enlightened conscience may carry 
them so far, as to some general approbation of the things of God, which 
may produce a wish that they were so and so ; but this doth no good 
to the heart. Sparks do not kindle the fire, but coals: a spark is 
enough to set us on fire in carnal matters, but not in spiritual. More 

[1.] Wicked men may desire their own happiness, though not upon 
God's terms : Num. xxiii. 10, ' Oh that I might die the death of the 
righteous, and let my last end be like his !' At oportuit sic vixisse. 
John vi. 34, 'Evermore give us of this bread' of life. Everyman 
would be blessed, and go to heaven, if it were left to his option and 
choice ; they like the end, but not the means. There was not a mur 
muring Israelite but would count Canaan a good land ; but the giants 
and sons of Anak were there. 

[2.] They may have some languid and vanishing motions towards the 
means as well as the end, being convinced of the necessity of holiness ; 
yea, they may draw out their wishes into a cold prayer that God would 
make them better ; as lazy persons sometimes express their desires, 
Would I were at such a place, and never travel ! Would I had 
written such a task, and never put pen to paper ! Vellent sed nolunt. 
When it cometh to trial, they do not set themselves in good earnest to 
get that grace they wish for. 

What is the difference between a volition and a velleity ? 

(I.) Such desires as are not waving, but resolute and fixed. Aquinas 
saith, Vdleitas est voluntas incomplete*, a half will. They have a 
month's mind to that which is good, but not a thorough resolution ; as 
Agrippa, almost persuaded, but not altogether ; such a desire as will 
bear up against a strong tide of opposition. It is called the ' setting 
of the heart:' 1 Chron. xxii. 19, 'Now set your heart and your soul 
to seek the Lord your God.' Whatever cometh of it, they must and 
will have grace : Ps. xxvii. 4, ' One thing have I desired of the Lord, 
that will I seek after ; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all 
the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire 
in his temple/ 

(2.) Such desires as are absolute, and do not stand upon terms. There 
is an hypothetical and conditional will. We would, but with such 


conditions. I would have Christ, if it did not cost me so dear to 
deny lusts, interests, friends, relations, much waiting, praying, watch 
ing, striving. So Mat. xxii. 5, they would come to the supper ; but 
house, oxen, farm, merchandise there was something in the way that 
hindered them : there was no full and perfect will. A chapman no 
doubt would have the wares he liketh, but will not come to the price. 
I will have heaven, whatever it cost me, is the voice of a desiring saint. 

(3.) Such desires as are active and industrious ; not a remiss will : 
Prov. xiii. 4, ' The soul of the sluggard, desireth, and hath nothing ; 
but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat/ Cold, raw wishes are 
unuseful and fruitless ; we must work as well as wish. Poor, languid, 
inactive desires come to nothing, when men do not put forth their en 
deavours, and apply themselves to the prosecution of what is desired. 
Faint and sluggish velleities do hurt : Prov. xxi. 25, ' The desire of 
the slothful killeth him ; for his hands refuseth labour/ Whatever a 
man doth seriously desire to have, he will use proper means to procure 
it. Wishes are but the fruits of a speculative fancy, rather than an 
industrious affection. 

(4.) Such desires as are constant, and not easily controlled by other 
desires. Idle, lazy wishes, ineffectual glances, sudden motions, while 
their hearts are detained in the speculation of holiness, are like chil 
dren's desires, soon put out of the humour. There may be vehement 
and sudden lustings in an unregenerated person ; free-will hath its 
pangs of devotion. But the apostle declares : Eom. vii. 18, 'To will 
is present with me ; but how to perform that which is good I find not/ 
It is a constant habitual will, not a volatile devotion, that cometh 
upon us now and then ; but such a will as is present, as sin is present. 
He had said before, 'When I would do good, evil is present with 
me/ Whithersoever you go, you carry a sinning nature about with 
you. It is present, urging the heart to vanity, folly, lust ; so should 
this will be present with you, urging the heart to good. 

(5.) Such desires are joined with serious groans and sorrow for our 
defects. He cannot be so good as he would, but desireth and com- 
plaineth ; therefore God accepteth of the will for the deed : Kom. vii. 
24, ' wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body 
of this death ? ' Though an unrenewed man seem to desire grace, 
yet he feeleth no grief in the want of grace, it never troubleth him ; 
his desires do not break out into groans and bitter complaints, because 
of indwelling corruption. Now, by these things may you try your 

3. The third thing observable from hence, is the necessity of direct 
ing grace, * Oh that my ways were directed ! ' 

I shall first premise some distinctions 

[1.] There is a general direction, and a particular direction. (1.) The 
general direction is in the word ; there God hath declared his mind in 
his statutes : ' He hath showed thee, man, what is good/ Micah 
vi. 8. (2.) A particular direction by his Spirit, who doth order and 
direct us how to apply the rule to all our ways: Isa. Iviii. 11, 'The 
Lord shall guide thee continually/ Now, this particular direction is 
either to our general choice : Ps. xvi. 7, ' I will bless the Lord, who 
hath given me counsel/ It is the work of God only to teach us how 


to apply the rule so as to choose him for our portion. Or secondly, as 
to acts and orderly exercise of any particular grace ; so 2 Thes. iii. 5, 
' The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient 
waitino- for Christ/ Or thirdly, as to the management of our civil 
actions'; as the pillar of the cloud went before the Israelites in their 
journeys, so doth God still guide his people in all their affairs, both as 
to duty and success. As to duty: Prov. iii. 6, ' In all thy ways acknow 
ledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.' Ask his counsel, leave, and 
blessing : in doubtful things ask his counsel ; in clear cases ask his 
leave, ' Shall I go up or not?' and then ask his blessing. As to success: 
Prov. xvi. 9, * A man's heart deviseth his way ; but the Lord direct- 
eth his steps.' Events cross expectation ; we cannot foresee the event 
of things in the course of a man's life, what is expedient, and what 
not : Prov. xx. 24, ' Man's goings are of the Lord ; how can a man, 
then understand his own way ? ' We purpose and determine many 
things rightly, and according to rule, but God disposeth of all events : 
Bom. i. 10, ' Making request, if by any means now at length I might 
have a prosperous journey by the will of God, to come unto you.' God 
brought Paul to Kome by a way he little thought of. Therefore we 
need to call God to counsel, and to inquire of the oracle in all matters 
that concern family, commonwealth, or church. We need a guide : 
Jer. x. 23, * Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself ; 
neither is it in man that walketh to direct his steps.' Affairs do not 
depend on our policy or integrity, but on the divine providence, who 
ordereth every step, to give such success as he pleaseth. 

[2.] Distinction. There is a literal direction, and an effectual direc 
tion. (1.) The literal direction is by that speculative knowledge 
that we get by the word : Ps. cxix. 105, * Thy word is a lamp unto my 
feet, and a light unto my path,' sufficient not only for general courses, 
but particular actions. (2.) The effectual direction is by the Holy 
Ghost applying the word, and bending the heart to the obedience 
of it : Isa. Ixi. 8, * I will direct their work in truth, and I will make 
an everlasting covenant with them/ that is, I will so show them their 
way, as to work their hearts to the sincere obedience of it. 

Now, to give you the reasons for the necessity of this direction, 
three things prove it 

(1.) The blindness of our minds. We are wise in generals, but know 
not how to apply the rule to particular cases. The heathens were ' vain 
i/ rot? Stdkayurpois, in their imaginations/ Rom. i. 21. And the same is 
true of us Christians : though we have a clearer knowledge of God, and 
the way how he will be served and glorified; yet to suit it to particular 
cases, how dark are we ! A dial may be well set, yet, if the sun shine 
not upon it, we cannot tell the time of the day. The scriptures are 
sufficient to make us wise ; but without the light of the Spirit, how do 
we grope at noonday ! 

(2.) The forgetfulness of our memories. We need a monitor to stir 
up in us diligence, watchfulness, and earnest endeavours : Isa. xxx. 
21, ' And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee saying, This is the 
way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye 
turn to the left.' The cares and businesses of the world do often 
drive the sense of our duty out of our minds. One great end of God's 


Spirit is to put us in remembrance, to revive truths upon us in their 
season. A ship, though never so well rigged, needs a pilot ; we need 
a good guide to put us in mind of our duty. 

(3.) The obstinacy of our heart. So that we need every moment to 
enforce the authority of God upon us ; and to persuade us to what is 
right and good. The Spirit's light is so directive, that it is also per 
suasive ; there needs not only counsel, but efficacy and power. We 
have boisterous lusts, and wandering hearts ; we need not only to be 
conducted, but governed. We have hearts that * love to wander,' Jer. 
xiv. 10 ; we are sheep that need a shepherd, for no creature is more 
apt to stray : Ps. xcv. 10, ' It is a people that do err in their hearts :' 
not only ignorant, but perverse ; not in mind only apt to err, but love 
to err. Thus you see the necessity of this direction, ' Oh that my 
ways were directed to keep thy statutes !' 

The uses. Well, then, give the Lord this honour, of being your con 
tinual guide : Ps. xlviii. 14, ' For this God is our God for ever and 
ever ; he will be our guide even unto death.' You do not own him as a 
God, unless you make him your guide : Ps. Ixxiii. 24, ' Thou shalt guide 
me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory/ In vain do 
you hope for eternal life else. Therefore 

1. Commit yourselves to the tuition of his grace. A man is to choose 
God for a guide, as well as to take him for a lord ; to ask his counsel 
as well as submit to his commandments : Jer. iii. 4, ' Wilt thou not 
from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the guide of my 
youth ? ' 

2. Depend upon him in every action. ' The steps of a good man 
are ordered by the Lord ; ' all his particular actions : Bom. viii. 26, 
' For we know not what we should pray for as we ought ; but the 
Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot 
be uttered.' 

3. Seek his counsel out of a desire to follow it: John vii. 17, 'If any 
man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of 
God, or whether I speak of myself.' Still walk according to light re 
ceived, and it will increase upon you. Such as make conscience of 
known truth shall know more. He that cometh with a subjected 
mind, and fixed resolution to receive and obey, shall have a discerning 
spirit. God answereth men according to the fidelity of their own 


Then shall I not be ashamed, ivhen I have respect unto all thy 
commandments. VER. 6. 

THE Psalmist had prayed for direction to keep God's commandments : 
here he showeth the fruit and benefit of that direction. 

In the words two things are observable 

1. The description of sincere obedience : respect to all the command' 


2. The fruit of it : then shall I not be ashamed. 
First, Observe ; a sincere heart aimeth at universal obedience to 
God's law. Here are to be illustrated 

1 . ' All thy. commandments/ 

2. ' Having respect' to them. The object ; and the act of the soul. 
[1.] All the commandments must be taken notice of, small and 

great. (1.) Small, we cannot dispense with ourselves in the least : 
Mat. v. 19, ' Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least com 
mandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the 
kingdom of heaven.' We are apt to say, ' It is but a little one, and 
my soul shall live.' No sin can be little that is committed against the 
great God. It argueth the more wickedness and corruption to break 
with God upon every trifling occasion. A little force will make a 
heavy body move downward. (2.) As small, so great. The ceremo- 
nialist is apt to stand much upon lesser things : John xviii. 28, the Jews 
would not enter into the judgment-hall, lest they should be defiled, 
yet they sought the life of the Lord of glory. Hypocrites make a 
great business about small matters, and in the meantime reject weighty 
duties, TO, fiapvrepa TOV vopov : Mat. xxiii. 23, * Ye pay tithe of mint, and 
anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the 
law, judgment, mercy, and faith ; these ought ye to have done, and 
riot to leave the other undone ; ' like one that cometh into a shop to 
buy a pennyworth and steals a pound's worth, or is punctual in paying 
a small debt that he may get deeper into our books, and cheat us of a 
greater sum, comply in circumstances and terms, which yet have their 
place, but make no conscience of greater. 

[2.] Commandments that require public, and commandments that 
require private duties : 2 Cor. vii. 1, ' Having therefore these promises, 
dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh 
and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.' In times of trouble 
men content themselves that their hearts are right, as the libertines in 
Corinth, and think it is no matter whether they own God publicly, 
yea or nay. Then for private duties, some make a fair show to the 
world, but in their family converse are loose and careless : David saith, 
Ps. ci. 2, ' I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.' If a 
man be truly holy he will show it at home as well as abroad ; in his 
family, where his constant converse is, yea, in his closet and secret re 
tirements. A Christian is alike everywhere, because God is alike 
everywhere. We strain ourselves to put forth our gifts in public ; God 
will be served with our uttermost in secret also. 

[3.] There are commandments that concern the inward as well as 
the outward man ; we must make conscience of both : Isa. Iv. 7, ' Let 
the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, 
and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy/ &c. We 
must not only make conscience of our way, or outward actions, but also 
of our thoughts ; as we must not do evil before man, so not think evil 
before God. Thoughts fall under a law as well as our actions : James 
iv. 8, * Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your 
hands, ye sinners ; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.' 

[4.] There are commands that concern God, and commands that 
concern man. There is a first table and a second ; some are very 

. 6.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 55 

punctual in dealing with men, but neglectful of God : Eom. i. 18, 
1 The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness 
and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.' 
Both the tables are owned from heaven. Some there are that will not 
wrong their neighbour of a farthing, yet stick not to rob God of that 
fear, faith, and love that is due to him. Many will not defile their 
bodies with promiscuous copulation, but are adulterers and adulter 
esses, James iv. 4, running a- whoring from their spiritual husband, and 
doting on the creature. Many there are who condemned the rebellion 
of Absalom, but rise up against their heavenly Father ; are not mur 
derers, but strike at the being of God. Some there are who are very 
tender of wronging the reputation of men, yet dishonour God, and are 
never troubled for it. Others there are who are much in worship, but 
in their dealings with men are very unconscionable: they will not 
swear an oath, yet are very uncharitable, censuring their brethren 
without any pity or remorse. This is the fashion of the world, to be 
in with one duty, and out with another. The commandments are 
ushered in with this preface, ' God spake all these words ; ' he that 
hath enjoined one hath enjoined another. But now, as the echo ren- 
dereth but part of the speech, so do we in our return of obedience. 
God spake all, and we return but part. 

2. Having respect unto the commandments ; that needeth illustra 
tion also. Though we cannot keep all, or any one of them as we 
should, yet we must have regard to all, and that equally without any 

When have we an equal respect to all ? I answer, Three ways 
(1.) Proposito; (2.) Affectu; (3.) Conatu. 

[1.] Proposito, in vow and purpose. We must approve of all, and 
choose all for our rule, without reservation and indulgence. Some com 
mands are more contrary than others to our lusts and interests, and are 
less in our power to perform. Now, a sanctified judgment must approve 
all, and a sanctified will accept and choose all as equally good, neces 
sary, and profitable for us : Rom. vii. 12, ' The law is holy, and the 
commandment holy, just, and good ' the law in general, nay, that 
commandment which had wrought such tragical effects in his heart. 
It is holy, as being the copy of God's purity ; just, as doing us no 
wrong, being no infringement of our just freedom ; good, as being 
very profitable to direct and perfect our operations, and to make us 
happy here and hereafter. But this approbation is not enough, there 
must be consent : ver. 16, 'I consent to the law that it is good/ 
though it is contrary to my natural inclinations. It is a good law, the 
heart must be engaged, ' I will write my laws upon their hearts, and 
put them into their minds/ God doth not only give us a knowledge, 
or a single approbation of his will, but a will to choose it as our rule 
to live by. The heart is suited and inclined to it, and a man giveth 
up himself faithfully and entirely to serve God according to the direc 
tion of his word. 

[2.] Affectu. There must be a sincere affection to all, or a care to 
keep them. We must not entertain affection to any known sin : 
Ps. Ixvi. 18, * If I regard iniquity in my heart, God will not hear me.' A 
man may have a great deal of sin in his heart, but if he cherish and 


dandle it, and have a regard to it, he is one whom God will not ac 
cept His desire is not to offend God, and it is his trouble when cor 
ruption gets the start of grace. If a king warneth a city of traitors, 
and calleth upon them to search them out, and send them away, and 
they never regard the message, but willingly give them harbour and 
entertainment, then it is a sign they are disaffected to him: to cherish 
a sin after warning is an open rebellion against God. 

[3 1 Conatu, in endeavour. We must keep all, conatu, licet non 
eventu; it is our labour, though not our success. Those that dispense 
with any commandment voluntarily and willingly, have never yet 
learned the way of true obedience to God: 2 Kings v. 18, * In this 
thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the 
house of Eimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and 
I bow myself in the house of Rimmon : when I bow myself in the 
house of Eimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing/ This 
is to set up a toleration in our hearts, and to make Satan some allow 
ance, to part stakes between God and the devil. There is something 
wherein we would be excused, and expect favour in fashions, customs, 
ways of profit and advantage. The endeavour must be to keep 
all, though the success be not answerable. A mariner that is 
beaten back by the winds, yet proveth 1 to hold on his course to make 
his port. A man that would sit warm shutteth the door and windows, 
yet the wind will creep in, though he doth not leave any open passage 
for it. 

Now, the reasons why we are to have respect to all the command 
ments are these following : 

1 . Because they are all ratified by the same authority. There is a 
connection between them, as there is between links in a chain ; take 
away one, and all falleth to pieces : James ii. 10, * For whosoever shall 
keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all/ 
The authority of the law is lost if men may pick and choose as they 
please. He that said, ' Thou shalt do no murder/, hath also said, 
' Thou shalt keep my Sabbaths.' A quatenus ad omne, the argument 
holds. Do one thing as a duty, and that will enforce the practice of all 
duties that we are convinced of: Col. i. 10, ' Walk worthy of God in 
all well-pleasing/ He that seeketh not to please God in all things, 
seeketh not to please God in anything. 

2. Because in conversion grace is given to observe all. There is a 
universal principle to incline the heart impartially to all. God inf useth 
all grace together ; not one particular only in the hearts of his children, 
but the whole law. There is a form of grace introduced into the soul 
that suits with every point of the law. The heart is framed to resist 
every sin, to observe all that God hath commanded. A new-born 
infant hath all the parts of a man, though not the strength and bulk ; 
so every Christian in regeneration. Men may be born without hands 
or feet, but the new creature never cometh out maimed and imperfect. 
It is small and weak at first, but it groweth and gathereth strength. 
There is no commandment to which it is not suited. Well, then, not 
to have respect to all were to hide our talent in a napkin, and to 
receive one of God's best gifts in vain. The apostle inferreth it out of 

1 Qu. < striveth ' ? ED. 


their calling: 1 Peter i. 15, ' But as he which hath called you is holy, 
so be ye holy, ev irda-y dvaarpo^fj, in all manner of conversation/ at 
home and abroad, among infidels and with their fellow Christians, in 
prosperity and in adversity, walk worthy of your calling. As the sun is 
placed in heaven, and spreadeth his beams everywhere, nothing is hidden 
from his light ; or as the lines run from the centre to every part of the 
circumference, so doth grace distil itself in a uniform obedience. 

3. A Christian can never be perfect in degrees if he be not perfect 
in parts. What is defective in the parts cannot be made up by any 
growth. If a man should be born without an arm or a leg, this 
cannot be supplied by future growth, he is a maimed man still ; so if 
a man be not perfect in parts, hath not respect to all the command 
ments, he can never be perfect in heaven. You cannot be ' presented 
as perfect in Christ Jesus,' Col. i. 28. 

4. They that do not obey all, will not long obey any ; but where profit 
or lust requireth it, they will break all, as Mark vi. 20, ' Herod feared 
John, knowing that he was a just man, and an holy, and observed him ; 
and when he beared him, he did many things, and heard him gladly/ 
But one command stuck with him ; being pleased with Herodias and 
the dancing damsel, that bringeth him to murder, &c. Keep but 
your passion a-foot, or your lust a-foot, or your worldliness a-foot, and 
it will carry .you farther. One sin keepeth possession for Satan ; 
allow but one lust and corruption in the heart, and that will under 
mine all, and become thine eternal ruin ; as one leak may sink a ship. 
A bird tied by the leg, may make some show of escape. You never 
totally renounced Satan's government, and wholly gave up yourselves 
to God. By keeping a part, the whole falleth to his share. 

Use 1. It reproveth those that make one duty excuse another. Two 
sorts there are, some that go from sins to duties, and others from 
duties to sins, that antedate or postdate indulgences. (1.) Those that 
antedate, that hope to make amends for their evil course by their 
duties, as when men allow themselves in a present carnal practice^ 
upon the purpose of an after-repentance. It is as if men should dis 
temper the body by excess, and then hope to amend all by giving 
themselves a vomit ; or contract a sickness voluntarily, because they 
will take physic. Certainly men would not sin so freely, if they 
were not borne up by promises of future reformation. (2.) That post 
date. They go from duties to sins : Ezek. xxxiii. 13, ' When I shall 
say to the righteous, that he shall surely live ; if he trust to his own 
righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousness shall not be 
remembered ; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall 
die for it.' If he shall commit a sin upon that confidence of his own- 
righteousness. Josiah's breach with God, was after the preparing of 
the temple, 2 Chron. xxxv. 20 ; even God's children take the more 
carnal liberty because of their duties. 

Use 2. Is trial. Have we this sincere respect to all the command 
ments ? This may be known 

1. By a constant desire, resolution, and endeavour to be informed 
of God's will : Horn. xii. 2, ' And be not conformed to this world, but 
be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove 
what is that good, that acceptable and perfect will of God.' And 


Epli. v. 17, ' Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what 
the will of the Lord is/ A man that desireth to follow God fully, 
would fain know the whole latitude and breadth of his duty. A child 
of God is inquisitive. He that desireth to keep all, doth also desire 
to know all. It is his business to study the mind of God in all things ; 
gross negligence showeth we are afraid of understanding our duty. 

2. By often searching and trying his own heart, that he may find 
where the matter sticketh: Lam. iii. 40, 'Let us search and try our 
ways, that we may turn unto the Lord.' Complete reformation is 
grounded on a serious search. A chief cause of our going wrong is 
because we do not bring our hearts and ways together. 

3. Desire God to show it if there be anything in the heart allowed 
contrary to the word : Job xxxiv. 32, ' That which I see not, teach 
thou me ; if I have done iniquity, I will do no more.' And Ps. 
cxxxix. 23, 24, ' Search me, God, and know my heart ; try me, and 
know my thoughts ; and see if there be any wicked thing in me ; and 
lead me in the way everlasting.' He would not hold on in any evil 
course. There is no sin so dear and near to him which he is not 
willing to see and judge in himself. 

4. When they fail through human infirmity or imprudence, they 
seek to renew their peace with God : 1 John ii. 1, ' My little children, 
these things write I unto you that ye sin not ; and if any man sin, we 
have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.' They 
sue out their discharge in Christ's name. If a man were unclean 
under the law, he was to wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water 
before evening, and not rest in his uncleanness. Now if we still 
abide in our filthiness, and do not fly to our advocate, and sue out 
our pardon in Christ's name, it argueth that we have not a respect to 
the commandment. 

5. They diligently use all holy means which are appointed by God 
for growth in faith and obedience : 2 Cor. vii. 1, ' Let us cleanse our 
selves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in 
;the fear of God,' and coming up to a greater conformity. 

6. A care of their bosom-sin, to get that weakened : Ps. xviii. 23, 
* I was also upright before him ; and I kept myself from mine iniquity/ 
Such as are most incident to us by temper of nature, course of life, or 
posture of interests ; the right hand must be cut off, the right eye 
plucked out, Mat. v. 29, 30. If thou seekest to cross that sin that is 
most pleasing to thine own heart, seekest to dry up that unclean issue 
that runneth upon thee ; by that and the other signs may we deter- 
anine whether we have a sincere respect to all God's commandments. 

Secondly, The next circumstance in the text is the fruit and benefit. 
They that have an entire respect to God's laws shall not be ashamed. 

I here is a twofold shame: the shame of a guilty conscience, and 
.the shame of a tender conscience. 

The one is the merit and fruit of sin ; the other is an act of grace. 
This here spoken of is to be understood not of a holy self-loathing, 
but a confounding shame. 

This shame may be considered either with respect to their own 
hearts, or the world, or before God at the day of judgment. 


1. With respect to their own hearts ; and thus the upright and 
sincere shall not be ashamed. There is a generous confidence be 
wrayed in duties, in troubles, and in death. (1.) In duties. They can 
look God in the face ; uprightness giveth boldness ; and the more 
respect we have unto the commandments, the greater liberty have we 
in prayer : 1 John iii. 21, 'If our hearts condemn us not, then have we 
confidence towards God/ But when men walk crookedly and loosely, 
they sin away the liberty of their hearts, and cannot come to God 
with such a free spirit. A man that hath wronged another, and 
knoweth not how to pay, cannot endure to see him ; so doth sin work 
a shyness of God. (2.) In troubles and afflictions. Nothing sooner 
abashed than a corrupt conscience ; they cannot ty)ld up their heads 
when crossed in the world ; a burden sits very uneasy upon a galled 
back ; their crosses revive their guilt, are parts of the curse ; therefore 
they are soon blank. But now a godly man is bold and courageous. 
Two things make one bold, innocency and independency; and both 
are found in him that hath a sincere respect to God's commandments. 
Innocency, when the soul doth not look pale under any secret guilt, 
and when we can live above the creatures, it puts an heroical spirit or 
lion-like boldness into the children of God. (3.) In death. To be able 
to look death in the face, it is a comfort in your greatest distresses. 
When Hezekiah was arrested with the sentence of death in the mouth 
of the prophet, here was his comfort and support, '0 Lord, thou 
knowest that I have walked before thee with a perfect heart/ And 
Job xiii. 15, ' Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him/ 

2. Before the world, a man will be able to hold up his head that is 
sincere. It is true, he may be reproached and scoffed at, and suffer 
disgrace for his strictness ; yet he is not ashamed. Though we dis 
please men, yet if we please God, it is enough, if we have his approba 
tion : 1 Cor. iv. 3, ' With me it is eXd^o-rov, a very small thing, that 
I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment/ To depend on the 
words of man is a foolish thing. There is more ground of rejoicing 
than of shame. You have the approbation of their consciences, when 
not of their tongues. In the issue God will vindicate the righteous 
ness of his faithful servants : Ps. xxxvii. 6, * He shall bring forth thy 
righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday/ There 
will be no cause in the issue for a Christian to repent of his strict 
observance of God's commands. 

3. Before God at the day of judgment : 1 John ii. 28, 'And now, little 
children, abide in him, that when he shall appear, we may have con 
fidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming/ He is the brave 
man that can hold up his head in that day. Wicked men will then be 
ashamed (1.) Because their secret sins are then divulged and made 
public : 1 Cor. 4, 5, ' Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord 
come, will who both bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and 
will make manifest the counsels of the heart, and then shall every man 
have praise of God/ (2.) Because of the frustration of their hopes. 
Disappointment bringeth shame. Some do many things, and make full 
account of their acceptance with God and reception to glory ; but when 
all is disappointed, how much are they confounded ! Rom. v. 5, ' Hope 
maketh not ashamed/ because it is not frustrated. (3.) By the con- 


tempt and dishonour God puts upon them, banishing them out of ^ his 
presence. They become the scorn of saints and angels : Dan. xn. 2, 
' And many of them that sleep in the dust shall arise, some to ever 
lasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt/ But now 
the godly are bold and confident : Ps. i. 5, ' The ungodly shall not 
stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the right 
eous ; ' but the godly shall lift up their head with joy and rejoicing. 

Now the reasons of this. 

Where sin is not allowed, there is a threefold comfort. (1.) Justifi 
cation : 1 John i. 7, * But if we walk in the light, as he is in the 
light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus 
Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin/ It is an evidence that 
giveth us the comfort. He hath failings, but they are blotted out for 
Christ's sake. (2.) It is an evidence of sanctification, that a work of 
grace hath passed upon us : 2 Cor. i. 12, ' For our rejoicing is this, 
the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, 
not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our 
conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward ; ' Heb. 
xiii. 18, ' We trust that we have a good conscience, willing in all things 
to live honestly/ A universal purpose and an unfeigned respect 
hath the full room of an evidence. (3.) A pledge of glory to ensue: 
Kom. v. 5, ' And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God 
is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 

Use. It informeth us, by the rule of contraries, that we deceive- 
ourselves if we look for anything from sin but shame : Kom. vi. 21, 
" For the wages of sin is death/ Sin and shame entered into the 
world together. How were Adam and Eve confounded after the fall ! 
Sin is odious to God, it grieveth the Spirit ; but the person that com- 
mitteth it shall be filled with shame. In the greatest privacy, sin 
bringeth shame. Men are not solitary when they are by themselves ; 
there is an eye and ear which seeth and observeth them. There is a 
law in our hearts which upbraids our sins to us as soon as we have 
committed them a secret bosom -witness. 

2. It informeth us what hard hearts they have that have respect to 
no commandments, yet are not ashamed. They have outgrown all 
feelings of conscience, and so ' glory in their shame : ' Phil. iii. 19, 
' Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory- 
is in their shame, who mind earthly things/ Erubuit, salva res esL 
By how much less they are ashamed now, the more they shall be ; their 
shamelessness will increase their shame : Jer. iii. 3, ' Thou hadst a 
whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed/ The conscience of a 
sinner is like a clock, dull, calm, and at rest, when the weights are 
down ; but wound up, it is full of motion. 

3. Here is caution to God's children. The less respect you have to 
the commandments, the more shame will you have in yourselves. 
Partiality in obedience breaketh your confidence, and over-clouds your 
peace. Therefore, that we may not blemish our profession, let us walk 
more exactly. ' So shall we not be ashamed when we have respect to 
all God's commandments/ 



I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned 
thy righteous judgments. VER. 7. 

IN this verse David expresseth his esteem of the word, by telling what 
he would give for the knowledge and practice of it. As we use to 
tell a man how thankful we would be if he would do thus and thus 
for us ; so, Lord, if tho.u wilt give me to learn thy righteous judgments, 
then I will praise thee, &c. 

His promise of praise manifesteth his esteem, which should affect our 
stupid hearts. The canon is now larger, and the mysteries of the word 
are more clearly unfolded. If the saints of God were so taken with it 
before, when there were so scanty and dark representations in compari 
son of what is now, oh, what honour and praise do we now owe to God ! 

In this verse observe 

1. The title that is given to the word, thy righteous judgments. 

2. His act of duty about it, or the benefit which he desireth, sound 
erudition, when I shall have learned. 

3. The fruit of this benefit obtained, then will I praise thee. 

4. The manner of performing this duty, with uprightness of heart. 
First, The title that is given to the word, ' Thy righteous judgments/ 

or as it is in the margin, ' The judgments of thy righteousness.' 
Hence observe 

Doct. God's precepts are, and are so accounted of by his people as, 
.righteous judgments, or judgments of righteousness. 

There are two terms to be explained 

1. What is meant by judgments. 

2. By righteousness. 

For the first. Righteousness is sometimes put alone for the word, 
and so also judgments (as we shall find in this psalm) ; but here 
both are put together to increase the signification. The precepts of 
the word are called judgments for two reasons 

1. Because they are the judicial sentence of God concerning our 
state and actions. 

2. Because of the suitable execution that is to follow. 

1. They are the judicial sentence of God concerning our state 
and actions. The judicial sentence ; that is, they are the decrees of 
the almighty lawgiver, given forth with an authority uncontrollable. 
A man may appeal from the sentence of men, but this is judgment. 
This is as certain as if he were executed presently. There is injustice 
and oppression many times in the courts of men, but ' there is a higher 
than the highest regards it, and there be higher than they/ Eccles. v. 
8. There may be another tribunal to which we may appeal from the 
unjust sentences of men ; but there is no appeal from God, for there is 
no higher judicature. Paschalis, a minister of the Albigenses, when 
he was burnt at Kome, cited the Pope and his cardinals before the 
tribunal of the Lamb. When we are wronged and oppressed here, we 
may cite them before the tribunal of God and Christ ; but who can 
appeal from the tribunal of Christ himself? 


And then this sentence is concerning our state and actions. 

[1.] Our state, whether it be good or evil, The word sentenceth 
you now; for instance, if a man be in a carnal state: John iii. 18, 
' He that believeth not is condemned.' How condemned ? ' already.' 
In the sentence of the law, so he is gone and lost. Every unbeliever, 
such as all are by nature, is condemned already, having only the 
slender thread of a frail life between him and the execution of it. 
The sentence of the law standeth in force against him, since he will not 
come to Christ to get it repealed. This sentence standeth in force 
against all heathens which never heard of Christ, and are condemned 
already by the law. But now Christians, or those that take up such 
a profession, and have heard of the gospel, on them it is confirmed by 
a new sentence, since they will not fly to another court, to the chancery 
of the gospel, and take sanctuary at the Lord's grace offered in Jesus 
Christ : ' He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved ; but he that 
believeth not shall be damned/ Mark xvi. 16. Again, when it is 
good, the sentence of the word, it is judgment : Kom. viii. 33, ' It is 
God that justifieth ; who is he that condemneth ? ' What hath the 
officer to do, when a man is absolved by the judge in court ? Con 
science is God's deputy, Satan is God's executioner. The witness 
is silenced; the executioner hath no more to do when the judge 
absolveth, as God doth all by the sentence of the gospel that are will 
ing to come under Christ's shadow. 

[2.] As the word judgeth and passeth sentence upon our states, so 
also upon our actions, thought, word, or deed ; for all these in this 
regard come under the notion of acts. 

(1.) Thoughts. They are liable to God's tribunal, which can be 
arraigned before no other bar, yet the word doth find them out. It 
doth not only discover the evil of them : Heb. iv. 12, ' The word of 
God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, 
piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the 
joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of 
the heart;' but judgeth and sentenceth them: Jer. vi. 19, 'I will 
bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their thoughts.' Men 
have only a process against others either for words or actions, but God 
hath a process against them for their thoughts. Though in men's 
courts thoughts are free, as not liable to their cognisance, yet they are 
subject to another judicature. 

(2.) ^ Words. Idle words weigh heavy in God's balance. God, that 
hath given a law to the heart, hath also given a law to the lips, Mat. 
xii. 36, 'Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an 
account thereof in the day of judgment.' Words will come to be 
judged : either we are to give an account of them here, or hereafter ; 
either to condemn ourselves for them, and seek pardon, or to be con 
demned hereafter before God. A loose and ungoverned tongue will 
be one_ evidence brought against men as a sign of their unrenewed 
hearts in the day of judgment. 

(3.) All our actions. They are sentenced in the word. God hath 
declared his mind concerning them : Eccles. xii. 14, ' God will bring 
every work into judgment;' things will not be huddled up in that 
day. God will not accept of a general bill of account by lump, 


but every action he will judge it according to the tenor of his word. 
This is an amplification of the first reason, why the word or precepts 
of God are called judgments, because they are judicial sentences of 
God the lawgiver, given forth with an authority uncontrollable con 
cerning our estate and actions. 

2. The next reason is, because of the suitable execution that is- 
to follow in this world and in the next. 

f 1.] In this world. It is an easy matter to reconcile the word and 
providence together, for providence is but a comment upon the 
word; and you may even transcribe God's dispensations from the 
threaten ings and promises of the law. The story of the people of the 
Jews might have been transcribed from the threatenings of the law, 
so that the comminations of the law were but as a calendar and prog 
nostication what kind of weather it would be with that people. So- 
still the apostle makes the observation : Heb. ii. 2, * Every transgression 
and disobedience received a just recompense of reward.' Mark, it is 
notable to observe how God hath been punctual in executing the sentence 
of every command ; the breach of it hath had a just recompense and re 
ward as I might instance in all the law of God. Moses and Aaron, if 
they will not sanctify God according to the first commandment, they 
shall be shut out of the land of Canaan ; and if the people will have their 
false worship, how will God punctually accomplish it that he will ruin, 
them and their posterity ? So Rom. i. 18, you have this general a little 
more specified ; God hath not only taken notice of the first table, but 
of the second : ' The wrath of God is revealed from heaven,' not only 
'against all ungodliness,' but 'unrighteousness of men/ &c. God 
from heaven hath owned both tables, and executed the sentence of 
the law against sinners : Hosea vii. 12, ' I will chastise them as their 
congregation hath heard/ If a man would observe providence, he 
might find not only justice in God's dispensations, but truth. I 
rather note this, because God's children may smart in this life for 
breach of the law. Though sentence of absolution takes place as to 
their persons and state, yet in this life they may smart sorely for the 
breach of the law. In time of trial God will make the world know he 
is impartial, that none shall go free, but the sentence of the word 
shall be executed : Prov. xi. 31, ' The righteous shall be recompensed 
in the earth, much more the wicked and the sinner.' Recompensed ; 
that is, with a recompense of punishment : so Peter reads it out of the 
Septuagint, i. Peter iv. 18, ' And if the righteous scarcely be saved,' &c. 
It is a hard matter to keep a righteous man from falling under the 
vengeance of God : God stands so much upon the credit of his word, that 
he deals out smart blows and stripes for their iniquity here in this world. 
[2.] In the next world, there is no other sentence given but what is 
according to the word : John xii. 48, ' The word that I have spoken, the 
same shall judge you in the last day.' God will pronounce sentence then 
according to what is said now, either to believers or unbelievers. 

Well, then, upon these grounds you see the execution is not only- 
judgment, but the very law is judgment. A man that is to be 
examined and tried for life and death would fain know how it would 
speed with him, and how matters shall be carried beforehand. God 
will not deal with you by way of surprise ; he hath plainly told you 


according to what rule he will proceed: saith he, ' The word which I 
have spoken, the same shall judge you at the last day. 

Use. I would apply this first term, judgments, thus : to press us to 
regard the sentence of the word more. If you cannot stand before 
the word of God, how will you stand before Christ's tribunal at the 
last day ? Many times there is a conviction in the ore, though not 
refined to full conviction, and that discovers itself thus, by a fear to 
be tried and searched : John iii. 20, ' They will not come to the light, 
lest their deeds should be reproved.' They that are loath to know are 
loath to search : you can have no comfort but what is according to the 
tenor of the word, and no happiness but what is according to the sen 
tence of the word. What the word doth say to you, as sure as God 
is true it will be accomplished to a tittle. God stands upon his word 
more than anything : when ' heaven and earth shall pass away,' and 
be 'burned like a scroll,' 'not a jot of the word,' either law or 
gospel, * shall pass away.' If we did think of this with seriousness, 
then one part of the word would drive us to another ; we would run 
from the law to the gospel. Sinners could not lie in a carnal state : 
this law is not only my rule, but my judgment; and believers could 
not be so listless, and secure, and negligent as they are in their holy 
calling. Their doom in the word, this would make them seek more 
earnestly for pardon and grace, and make them strictly watch over 
their hearts and ways. Either we do not believe that the word is 
true, or that God will be so punctual and exact as he hath declared. 
We dream of strange indulgences for which we have no cause, or else 
we would be more frequent at the throne of grace, and more exact 
and watchful in the course of our conversations. 

Secondly, The next term to be opened is righteousness, another title 
given to the word in this psalm : it is so called, Heb. v. 13, ' Unskilful 
in the word of righteousness ;' and 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17, it is * profitable 
for instruction in righteousness.' But why is the word called right 
eousness? Because it shows how a man shall be justified, and how a 
justified man should approve himself both to God and man. 

1. It showeth how a man shall be justified and accepted as right 
eous before God ; therefore the word is called righteousness. This is 
a great secret and riddle which was hidden from the wise men of the 
world ; they could never have found it out by all the profound re 
searches and inquiries of nature into natural things ; unless the word 
of God had made it known, it should still have been in the dark. For 
righteousness to plead for you. and to find acceptance, alas we should 
be thinking of going up to heaven, and going down into the deep ; 
no, no, ' the word is nigh thee/ Kom. x. 8. This notion of the right 
eousness of Christ was the best notion the world was ever acquainted 
with ; that when we all lay guilty, obnoxious to the wrath of God, 
and to the revenges of his angry justice, that then the Lord should 
reveal a righteousness, * even the righteousness of God, which is by 
faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all that believe;' as the 
apostle amplifies it, Eom. iii. 22. What a rich and glorious discovery 
was this of the mind and counsel of God to poor sinners, that he hath 
revealed such a righteousness ! 

2. The word is called righteousness, because it shows how a justified 


man should approve himself both to God and man, by a holy con 
versation. It is the rule of moral righteousness : 1 John iii. 7, ' He is 
righteous that doth righteousness/ in the judgment of the word. 
There is not only righteousness wrought by Christ for believers, but 
also righteousness wrought by Christ in believers, when a man doth 
exercise himself in performing his duties to God and man. 

Use. Well, then, if we would be skilful in the matters of righteous 

1. Consult often with the word, which is the copy of God's most 
righteous will. A man need go no further either for direction, quick 
ening, or encouragement. The world despiseth the plain directions 
of the word, and crieth up the notion of things, and looketh for quainter 
conceits, and things of a more sublime speculation. If we should 
only bring scripture, and urge men by God's authority, and call upon 
them in Christ's name, and by Christ's arguments, this would be too 
low for them. But this is to tax the wisdom of God. He that ' hath 
the key of David ' knew what kind of wards would fit the lock what 
directions, what quickening notions and encouragements were fittest 
to be used in the case, to gain men to a sense of their duty both to 
God and man, and bring them into a way of righteousness. 

2. Do you manifest the word to be righteousness : ' Wisdom 
should be justified of her children,' Mat. xi. 19. You should evidence 
it to the carnal world by taking off their prejudices, that the word 
may be justified. The world hath a suspicion ; now evidence it to 
the conscience that it is a holy rule, a perfect direction for righteous 
ness. The world prieth into the conversation of the saints ; they live 
much by sensible things ; therefore declare and evidence it to be a 
righteous thing. 

So much for the title that is given to the word of God, thy judg 
ments and righteousness. 

Secondly, We come now to his act of duty about the word, or the 
benefit which he desired, ' When I shall have learned.' By learning 
he means his attaining not only to the knowledge of the word, but the 
practice of it. It is not a speculative light, or a bare notion of things : 
John vi, 45, ' Every man therefore that hath heard and hath learned 
of the Father cometh unto me.' It is such a learning as the effect 
will necessarily follow, such a light and illumination as doth convert 
the soul, and frame our hearts and ways according to the will of God ; 
for otherwise if we get understanding of the word, nay, if we get it 
imprinted in our memories, it will do us no good without practice. 

Doct. The best of God's servants are but scholars and students in 
the knowledge and obedience of his word. 

For saith David, which had so much acquaintance, ' When I shall 
have learned.' The professors of the Christian religion were primi 
tively called disciples or learners : Acts vi. 2, TO 77X7)^0? T&V fJkiBijTtovl 
1 The multitude of the disciples.' This seems to be the true defini 
tion of a church, the genus and difference ; the genus is the community 
or multitude of men united among themselves, as a corporation, city, 
or household. The difference or form is disciples, those that gave up 
themselves to Christ to be taught and governed, and to be instructed 
in this way and doctrine. So Acts xi. 26, it is said there, * The dis- 



ciples were called Christians first at Antioch.' Christians are dis 
ciples and to difference them from the disciples of other men, they 
are the disciples of Christ. (1.) The school, that is, the church, where 
there are public lectures read to all visible professors ; but the elect 
o-ettino- saving knowledge, they are not only taught of men, but taught 
of God, they have an inward light. (2.) The book, that is, the scrip 
ture, ' which is able to make wise to salvation/ to * make the man of 
God perfect/ 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17. Some run to tradition, others cry up 
their own reason to the wrong of the scripture ; they make Christ to 
be their disciple rather than they his, when they will not receive things 
upon his testimony and revelation, as the Socinians. (3.) The teacher 
is either supreme or subordinate. The supreme teacher is Christ ; 
he is the great prophet of the church : so it is said, John vi. 45, ' They 
shall be taught of God.' This is, such a teacher that not only opens 
the scripture, but 'opens the understanding,' Luke xxiv. 45. The 
subordinate teachers are the ministers of the gospel, whom God useth 
for this work ; not out of any indigence, but indulgence ; not for any 
efficacy in the preacher, but out of a suitableness to the hearer, as a 
means most agreeable to our frail estate, to deal with us by way of 
counsel. God can teach us without men, by the secret illapses of his 
Spirit ; but he will use those that are of the same nature with our 
selves, that have the same temptations, necessities, and affections, 
which know the heart of a man. He would use them who, if they 
deceive us, must deceive themselves ; he would use men of whose con 
versation and course we are conscious ; we know their walk and way ; 
he would use them as ' ambassadors' to ' pray us in Christ's stead to 
be reconciled to God,' 2 Cor. v. 20. (4.) The lesson which we learn 
is not only to know, but to obey. Science without conscience will not 
fit our turn, nor suit with the dignity of our teacher. To be like chil 
dren that have the rickets, swollen in the head, when the feet are 
weak ; we do not learn truth as it is in Jesus till we be regenerated, 
for that is a truth for practice and walking, not for talk, Eph. iv. 21. 
He is most learned that turns God's word into works : 1 John ii. 4, 
5, ' He that saith I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, 
is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, 
in him verily is the love of God perfected/ In this school there is no 
man counted a proficient, but he that grows in practice. It is not the 
curious searcher that is the best scholar, but the humble practitioner ; 
when we are cast into the mould of this doctrine, and have the prints, 
the stamp and character of it upon our heart ; as Eom. vi. 17, 'Ye 
have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered 
you/ In the original it is, * Whereto ye were delivered/ When we 
come to a physician, it is not enough to know his prescriptions, but 
they must be followed. We do not come to Christ as students of 
physic, to be trained up in the theory, but as patients ; not as one that 
minds the art, but the cure, to do what is prescribed, that we may 
know how to get rid of our soul-diseases. Therefore Christ saith, 
John viii. 31, ' Then are ye my disciples indeed, if my word abide in 
you/ There are Christ's disciples in pretence, and Christ's disciples 
indeed ; those that make it their work to get from Christ a power and 
virtue to carry on a uniform and constant obedience, these are the 


true learners. Therefore it will not fit our turn unless we labour to 
come under the power of what we learn, as well as get the knowledge ; 
and it will not suit with the dignity of our teacher, who doth not only 
enlighten the mind, but change us by his efficacy, and leaves a suitable 
impression upon the soul. God writeth the lesson upon our hearts ; 
that is, not only gives us the lesson, but a heart to learn it. Man's 
teaching is a pouring it into the ears. This is God's teaching, to 
inform our reason, and move our will: Phil. ii. 13, 'It is God that 
worketh in you both to will and to do, of his good pleasure.' He 
teacheth us promises so as to make us believe them ; and command 
ments so as to make us obey them ; and the doctrine of the gospel 
teacheth us so as to stamp the impression of it upon the soul, to 
change us into his image and likeness, 2 Cor. iii. 18. 

Use. It presseth us to give up ourselves to this learning. Study 
the word, but take God for your teacher. Look to him that speaks 
from heaven if you would learn to purpose, otherwise our natural 
blindness will never be cured, nor our prejudices removed, nor our 
wills gained to God ; or if they should be gained to a profession of 
truth, it will never hold long. When men lead us into a truth, we 
shall easily be led off again by other men ; and all a man's teaching 
will never reform the heart. Man's light is like a March sun, which 
raiseth vapours, but doth not dispel and scatter them ; so it discovers 
lust, but doth not give us power to suppress it ; therefore our main 
business must be to be taught of God. 

Further, Observe your proficiency in this knowledge : Heb. v. 14, 
To ' have your senses exercised to discern both good and evil/ We 
should every day grow more * skilful in the word of righteousness/ 
John xiv. 9, ' Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not 
known me, Philip ? ' To be backward in the knowledge of grace 
after long teaching, and to be still conflicting with fleshly lusts, which 
is the exercise of beginners so much means and so small experience, 
and get no further this is sad ! 

Thirdly, The fruit of this benefit obtained, ' Then shall I praise 
him/ From hence observe 

1. Upon receipt of every mercy we should praise God. We are 
forward in supplication, but backward in gratulation. This is a more 
noble duty, and continueth with us in heaven. It is the work of 
glorified saints and angels to praise God. All the lepers could beg 
health, yet but one returned to give God the glory. This is sad when 
it is so ; for this is a more sublime duty, therefore it should have more 
of our care. This is a profitable duty: Ps. Ixvii. 5, 6, 'Let the 
people praise thee, Lord, let all the people praise thee. Then shall 
the earth yield her increase, and God, even our own God, shall bless 
us/ The more vapours go up, the more showers come down ; and 
the more praises go up, the more mercies. There is a reciprocal inter 
course between us and God, by mercies and praises, as there is between 
the earth and the lower heavens, by vapours and showers. There are 
two words by which our thankfulness to God is expressed, praising 
and blessing : Ps. cxlv. 10, ' All thy works shall praise thee, Lord ; 
and thy saints shall bless thee/ "What is the difference? Praise 
respecteth God's excellences, and blessing respecteth God's benefits. 


We may praise a man that never hath done us good, if he be excel 
lent and praiseworthy ; but blessing respecteth God's bounty and 
benefits ; yet they are promiscuously taken sometimes, as here praise 
is taken for blessing. 

2. Observe : We should praise God especially for spiritual blessings, 
Eph. i. 3. Why ? Partly because these come from the special love of 
God. God bestows corn, wine, and oil in the general upon the world ; 
but now knowledge, and 'grace, and blessed experiences of communion 
with God, these are special things, he bestows them upon the saints, 
therefore deserves more thankfulness. Protection, it is the common 
benefit of every subject ; but preferment and favour is for friends, and 
those that are near to the prince; so this is the favour of his people, 
called so Ps. cvi. 5, ' Show me the favour of thy people/ This is a 
special blessing God bestoweth upon his own children. Again, these 
concern the better part, the inward man, the spirit, the soul, which 
is the man. He doth us more favour which heals a wound in the 
body than he that only seweth up a rent in our garment (for the 
body is more than raiment) ; so he that doth good to our souls is 
more than he that doth good to our bodies, which gives outward 
blessings, because these are above the body. Again, these are pledges 
of eternal blessings in heavenly places : ' He hath blessed us with 
spiritual blessings in heavenly places.' But why is it said, { He hath 
blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places ' ? Why, there 
they began, and there they are consummated ; there was their first 
purpose, and there is the final accomplishment. A man may have 
the world, and yet never the nearer heaven ; but when he hath grace, 
and learned God's statutes, and his heart is gained to obedience of 
God's will, this is more than gold, silver, and great riches. Again, 
these dispose the heart to thankfulness. There is an occasion to praise 
God, and a heart to praise him ; outward mercies give us an occasion, 
but spiritual mercies give a disposition. Other things are but motives 
to praise God, but these are preparations. And then other things, 
they are given in judgment ; these things cannot. A man may have 
an estate in judgment, but he cannot have Christ and grace in judg 
ment. These things are always given in mercy. 

Use. Well, then, the use is to reprove us that we are no more 
sensible of spiritual benefits. We love the body more than the soul, 
and therefore have a quick sense of bodily mercies. But now, in 
soul concernments we are not the like affected. It is for want of 
observation to descry the progress of grace, and God's dealings with 
the inward man : Col. iv. 2, ' Continue in prayer, and watch in the 
same with thanksgiving/ And it is for want of affection. We are 
wrought upon by carnal arguments, mercies of flesh and blood, and 
showers of rain, food, and gladness. These things make us praise God ; 
but that which we get from God in an ordinance, we are not so 
sensible of. 

3. I observe again, those that have learned God's righteous judg 
ments, they are only fit to praise God : Ps. xxxiii. 1, ' Praise is comely 
for the upright/ It is unseemly in a wicked man's mouth that he 
should be praising of God. It is his duty, but it is not so comely ; 
but praise to the upright, this is suitable. Canticum novum et veins 


Jiomo male concordant, saith Austin. The new song, the psalm of 
praise, and the old man, make but ill music. We need a new heart, 
if we would go about this work. It is an exercise becoming the godly. 
We should be reconciled to God, and have his grace and favour. 
Under the law they were to bring their peace-offering, and lay it on 
the top of the burnt-offering, Lev. iii. When we come to offer a 
thank-offering to God, we should be in a state of amity and friendship 
with him. That is the clear moral of that ceremony : ' Sing with 
grace in your hearts/ Col. iii. 16. Others have not such matter nor 
such hearts to praise God ; they are but tinkling cymbals. But those 
that have grace, it is acceptable and comely for them. 

4. I observe again, ' I will praise thee when I shall have learned/ 
&c. Those that profit by the word, they are bound to praise God, and 
acknowledge him as the author of all that they have got. The grace 
of a teachable heart, we have it from him, therefore the honour must 
be his. He that gave the law, he it is that writes it upon the heart. 
Alas ! we in ourselves are but ' like the wild ass's colt/ Job xi. 12, 
both for rudeness of understanding, and also for unruliness of affection. 
Well, then, if we be tamed and subdued, he must have all the glory 
and the praise : Ps. xvi. 7, ' Blessed be God that gave me counsel in 
my reins/ It was God which made the word effectual, and counselled 
us how to choose him for our portion. We were as indocile and in 
capable as others. If God had left us to our own swing, what fools 
should we have been ! 

Use. It reproves us because we are so apt to intercept the revenues 
of the crown of heaven, and to convert them to our own use, like rebels 
against God. This proud pronoun ego, I, I, is always interposing : 
' This Babel which / have built/ We are sacrificing to this proud 
self : This I have done ; and if God be mentioned, it is but for fashion's 
sake, as those women in the prophet Isaiah, ' Only call us by thy 
name ; we will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel ' I 
allude to it. God must bear the name, but we sacrifice to ourselves 
in all we get, as if it were our own acquiring. * God, I thank thee/ 
saith the Pharisee ; yet he trusted in himself that he was righteous, 
Luke viii. Oh, learn, then, the commendable modesty of God's servants, 
of ascribing all to God : Luke xix. 16, he doth not say my industry, 
but * thy pound hath gained another/ And ' by the grace of God I 
am what I am.' And ' I laboured more abundantly than they all/ 
He corrects it presently, ' Yet not I, but the grace of God that was 
with me/ 1 Cor. xv. 10. So again : Gal. ii. 20, ' I live ; ' and then, 
presently, ' not I, but Christ liveth in me.' Thus should we learn to 
be faithful and loyal to God, and deal with him as Joab did to David 
when he was like to surprise Rabbah, and take it : 2 Sam. xii. 28, 
* Encamp against the city, and take it, lest I take the city, and it be 
called after my name.' Let us be very jealous that we do not get into 
God's place, and self interpose, and perk up with what we have 
attained unto; for the Lord must have all the glory, the praise 
must be his. 

The fourth circumstance in the text is the manner of performing 
this duty of rendering praise ; with an upright heart. I shall not dis 
course of uprightness in general, but uprightness in praising God. 


God must be praised with a great deal of uprightness of soul ; that is 
the note. This uprightness in praising lieth in two things, not only 
with the tongue, but the heart ; not only with the heart, but the life. 

1. Not only with the tongue, but with the heart: Ps. ciii. 1, 
' Praise the Lord, my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy 
name/ Mark, not only with my tongue, * with my glory,' as he calls 
it, but with my soul. Formal speeches are but an empty prattle, 
which God regards not: Ps. xlvii. 7, 'Sing ye praises with under 
standing.' It is fit the noblest faculty should be employed in the 
noblest work. This is the noblest work, to praise God; therefore all 
that is within us must be summoned. Church adversaries took up a 
customary form : Zech. xi. 5, ' Blessed be the Lord, for I am rich.' 
And in Nehemiah it is said, ' Your brethren that hated me said, Let 
God be glorious.' In instruments of music, the deeper the belly of the 
instrument, the sweeter the melody ; so praise, the more it comes from 
the heart, the more acceptable to God. 

2. This uprightness implies the life as well as the heart. Honour 
given to God in words is many times retracted and disproved by the 
dishonour we do to him in our conversations. This is the carrying 
Christ on the top of the pinnacle, as the devil did, with an intent he 
might throw down himself again. So we seem to advance and carry 
him high in praises, that we may throw him down in our lives : Titus i. 
16, ' They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him/ 
Empty compliments God accepteth not, as long as there is blasphemy 
in their lives. Our lives must glorify him : Mat. v. 16, ' Let your light 
so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify 
your Father which is in heaven.' 

Use. It reproves us that we are no more hearty and serious in the 
praises of God. In our necessities, when we want, then we can howl 
upon our bed. Our necessity doth put a shrill accent upon our groans, 
and sharpen our affections in prayer ; but in praise, how cold and dull 
are we ! Surely we should be as warm in the one as in the other. Then 
it may press you to live praises, and show forth the praises of him in 
your conversation, 1 Peter ii. 7. Hezekiah had been sick, God recovered 
him, he penned a psalm of thanksgiving, Isa. xxxviii. 9. Yet it is said, 
' He rendered not according to what he received/ &c., 2 Chron. xxxii., 
because his heart was proud and lifted up. If you do not walk more 
humbly and closely with God, it is not praise with uprightness of heart ; 
it must issue and break out in our actions and course of our conversation. 


I will keep thy statutes. forsake me not utterly. VER. 8. 

THIS verse, being the last of this portion, is the result of his meditation 
concerning the utility and necessity of keeping the law of God. Here 
take notice 

1. Of his resolution, I will keep thy statutes. 

2. His prayer, forsake me not utterly. 


It is his purpose to keep the law ; yet because he is conscious to 
himself of many infirmities, he prays against desertion. In the prayer 
there is a litotes, more is intended than is expressed. forsake me not. 
He means, strengthen me in this work. And if thou shouldest desert 
me, yet but for a while, Lord, not for ever ; if in part, not in whole. 
Four points we may observe from hence 

1. That it is a great advantage to come to a resolution in a course 
of godliness. 

2. Those that resolve upon a course of obedience had need to fly to 
God's help. 

3. Though we fly to God's help, yet sometimes God may withdraw, 
and seem to forsake us. 

4. Though God seem to forsake us, and really doth so in part, yet 
we should pray that it may not be a total and utter desertion. 

The notion of statutes I have opened, and also what it is to keep 
them in mind, heart, and life. That which we are now to take notice 
of is David's resolution. Hence observe 

Doct. 1. That it is a great advantage to come to a resolution in a 
course of godliness. 

Negatively, let me speak to this point. 

1. This is not to be understood as if our resolutions had any strength 
in themselves to bear us out. Peter is a sad instance how little our 
confidence and purposes will come to : and therefore David here, when 
he was most upright in his own resolution, is most diffident of his own 
strength ; ' forsake me not : ' implying, if God should forsake him, 
all would come to nothing. God must enable us to do what we resolve. 

2. Nor is it to be understood that it is in a man's power to resolve ; 
this would put grace under the dominion of our will ; it is by prevent 
ing grace that we are brought to a serious purpose : Phil. ii. 13, 'He 
giveth to will and to do.' Man's will is the toughest sinew in the 
whole creation. The very purpose and bent of the heart is the fruit 
of regeneration. Free-will hath its pangs, its velleities, which are like 
a little morning-dew, that is soon dried up : Hosea vi. 4, ' Our right 
eousness is as the morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.' 
But the will and resolution that we are to understand here is the fruit 
of grace. 

3. Not as if the obligation to obedience did arise from our own pur 
pose and promise, rather than from God's command ; this were to set 
man's authority above God's, and to lay aside the precept, which is the 
surer bond and obligation, and to bind the soul with the slender thread 
of our own resolutions. When we purpose and promise obedience, we 
do but make the old bond and engagement of duty the more active 
and sensible upon the soul, so that it is not to jostle out God's autho 
rity, but to yield our consent. However, the obligation is the greater ; 
for to disobey after we have acknowledged an authority, among men it 
is counted a more heinous crime than standing out against the autho 
rity itself. A thing that is not due before, yet when we have promised 
or dedicated it to God, then it is not in our power ; as in the case of 
Ananias, Acts v. But now we are not free before the contract, we have 
bonds upon us ; and the business of our promise and resolution is only 
to make our obligation more powerful upon the conscience. 



4. Not as if it were an arbitrary thing thus to do, and practised by 
the saints only for the more convenience of the spiritual life. No ; but it 
is a thing required : Acts xi. 23, He ' exhorteth them that, with full 
purpose of heart, they would cleave to the Lord/ 
1 Positively : 1. It is a course which God will bless ; he hath ap 
pointed ordinances for this end and purpose that we might come to 
this resolution. The promise is first implicitly made in baptism ; there 
fore is it called, 1 Peter iii. 21, ' the answer of a good conscience towards 
God.' How so ? Why, the covenant binds mutually on God's part and 
on ours, and so do the seals which belong to the covenant. It doth 
not only seal pardon and sanctification on God's part, but there is a 
promise and answer on our part. An answer to what ? To the demands 
of the covenant. In the covenant of grace God saith, I will be your 
God ; baptism seals that, and we promise to be his people. Now our 
answer to this demand of God, and to this interrogatory he puts^to us 
in the covenant, it is sealed by us in baptism, and it is renewed in the 
Lord's Supper. Look, as in the old sacrifices, they were all a renew 
ing of the oath of allegiance to God, or confirming their purposes and 
resolutions, you have the same notion to the sacrifice that is given to 
the Lord's Supper, for it is called ' the blood of the covenant,' Exod. 
xxiv. 7, 8. In the ordinance of the Lord's Supper there we come to 
take an obligation upon us ; half of the blood is sprinkled upon us. 
And this purpose and resolution to it is still continued and kept afoot 
in our daily exercise, invocation, and prayer, wherein either we ex 
plicitly or implicitly renew our obedience ; for every prayer is an im 
plicit vow, wherewith we bind ourselves to seek those things we ask, 
or else we do not engage God to bestow them. Thus it is a course 
that God will bless. 

2. It is of great necessity to prevent uncertainty of spirit. Until we 
come to resolution we shall be liable to temptation ; until we fully set 
our faces towards God, and have a bent and serious purpose of heart, 
we shall never be free from temptation from the devil, and from evil 
men, or from ourselves. From the devil: James i. 8, 'A double- 
minded man is unstable in all his ways.' As long as we are wavering, 
and suspensive, we can never carry on uniformity of obedience. While 
we halt between God and Baal, Satan hath an advantage against us 
So from evil men : David doth express himself as coming to a resolution 
in this psalm, ver. 115, * Depart from me, ye evil-doers, for I will 
keep the commandments of my God.' There is no way to shake off 
those evil companions and associates till there be a bent seriously to 
wards heaven. So from ourselves : we have changeable hearts, that ' love 
to wander/ Jer. xiv. 10. We have many revoltings and reluctancies ; 
therefore, until a sanctified judgment and will concur to make up a 
resolution and holy purpose, we shall still be up and down. The 
saints, being sensible of their weakness, often bind this upon themselves: 
Ps. cxix. 57, ' I have said that I would keep thy words ; ' there was a 
practical decree past upon the conscience. And ver. 106, 'I have 
sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep thy righteous judgments/ 
An oath is the highest assurance among men, and most solemn engage 
ment, and all little enough to hold a backsliding heart under a sense 
and care of our duty. As long as the Israelites had a will to Canaan, 


so long they digested the inconveniences of the wilderness. Every 
difficulty and trouble will put us out of the way, and we cannot be 
secured against an unsteady heart, but by taking up such a course, a 
serious resolve of maintaining communion with God. And as it is 
useful to prevent temptation, so to excite and quicken our dulness : 
we forget our vow and purpose, and therefore we relapse into sin. The 
apostle saith, 2 Peter i. 9, * He hath forgotten that he was purged from 
his old sins;' that he did renounce these things in baptism. And 
Paul puts us in mind of our engagement : Kom. viii. 12, ' We are not 
debtors to the flesh, to live after the flesh.' You make vows and pro 
mises to God, to renounce the flesh and vanities of the world, and to 
give up yourselves to God's service ; and these things are forgotten, and 
therefore we grow slight, cold, careless in the profession of godliness; 

Use. The first use is to press us to come to a declared resolution to 
serve and please God, and to direct us in what manner. 

First, Make it with a full bent of heart. Kest not upon a Shall I? 
shall I? but ' I will keep thy statutes.' As Agrippa was almost per 
suaded to be a Christian, but not altogether, so men stand hovering 
and debating. You should resolve, Ps. cxix. 112, ' I have inclined my 
heart to perform thy statutes alway to the end/ It is God's work to 
incline the heart ; but when the work of grace is passed upon us, then 
the believer doth voluntarily incline himself ; his will is bent to serve 
God, not by fits and starts, but alway to the end : 1 Chron. xxii. 19 y 
' Now set your hearts to seek the Lord ; ' that is, resolve, be not off 
and on. 

But, secondly, In what manner shall we make it ? 

1. Seriously and advisedly, not in a rash humour. The people, 
when they heard the law, and were startled with the majesty of God, 
Deut. v. 28, 29, answered, * All that the Lord hath spoken we will do/ 
It was well done to come to a purpose and resolution ; but ' Oh, that 
there were such a heart within them/ saith God, ' that they would fear 
me/ &c. : Josh. xxiv. 19, ' We will serve the Lord/ say the people ; 
' You cannot serve the Lord/ saith Joshua. Do you know what it is ? 
Eash undertakings will necessarily be accompanied with a feeble pro 
secution ; and therefore count the charges, lest you repent of the bar 
gain, Luke xiv. 23. 

2. Make Christ a liberal allowance, if you would come to a resolu 
tion : Mat. xvi. 24, ' He that will come after me/ he that hath a heart 
set upon this business, let him know what he must do ; ' let him deny 
himself/ &c. When we engage for God, he would have us reckon for 
the worst, to be provided for all difficulties. A man that builds, when 
he hath set apart such a sum of money to compass it, while he keeps 
within allowance, all is well ; but when that is exceeded, every penny 
is disbursed with grudging. So if you do anything in this holy busi 
ness, make Christ a liberal allowance at first, lest we think of return 
ing into Egypt afterward, when we meet with fiery flying serpents, 
and difficulties and hardships in our passage to heaven. Let it be a 
thorough resolution, that, come what will come, we will be the Lord's. 
There should be a holy wilfulness. Paul was resolved to go to Jeru 
salem, because he was bound in spirit; and though they did even 
break his heart, yet they could not break his purpose. 


3. Kesolve as trusting upon the Lord's grace. You are poor weak 
creatures ; how changeable in an hour ! not a feather so tossed to and 
fro in the air ; therefore we shall fail, falter, and break promise every 
day, if we go forth in the strength of our own resolutions. ^ Kesolve as 
trusting in the direction and assistance of God's Holy Spirit : if God 
undertake for us, then, under God, we may undertake. To resolve is 
more easy than to perform, as articles are sooner consented to than 
made good ; a castle is more easily built in time of peace than main 
tained and kept in a time of war ; and therefore still wait, and depend 
upon God for his grace. 

4. You cannot promise absolute and thorough obedience, though 
you should strive after it, for this you will never be able to perform ; 
and your own promises, purposes, and resolutions will but increase 
your trouble, though you are still to be aiming after it. 

Doct. 2. Those that will keep God's statutes must fly to God's help. 
As David doth here, * Oh, forsake me not utterly ; ' that is, Oh, 
strengthen me in this work. Three reasons for this 

1. We are weak and mutable creatures. 

2. Our strength lies in God's hands. 

3. God gives out his strength according to his own pleasure. 

1. We are weak and mutable creatures. When we were at our best 
we were so. Adam in innocency was not able to stand without con 
firming grace, but gave out at the first assault. And still we are mu 
table, though we have a strong inclination for the present. When the 
precepts of God are propounded with evidence, and backed with pro 
mises and threatenings, and a resolution follows thereupon, the fruit of 
rational conviction and moral suasion, which is not for the present false 
and hypocritical, yet it will not hold without the bottom of grace. It 
hath not supernatural, yet it may have moral sincerity. Such a reso 
lution was that of the Israelites after the terrible delivery of God's law. 
They promised universal obedience, and did not lie in it ; for God saith, 
They have done well in their promise ; there was a moral sincerity, 
but there wanted a renewed sanctified heart. And those captains 
which came to Jeremiah, chap. xlii. 5, intended not to deceive for the 
present, when they called God to witness that they ' would do accord 
ing to all things for the which the Lord thy God shall send thee to 
us.' And Hazael, ' Is thy servant a dog that he should do this thing ? ' 
Certainly he had abomination of it, when the prophet mentioned that 
cruelty of ripping up women with child. But suppose the resolution 
to be a fruit of grace and regeneration, yet we have not full power to 
stand of ourselves : still we are very changeable creatures in matters 
that do not absolutely and immediately concern life and death. Lot, 
that was chaste in Sodom, in the midst of so many temptations, you 
will find him committing incest in the mountains, where were none 
but his two daughters. What a change was here ! David, that was 
so tender, that his heart smote him for cutting off the lap of Saul's 
garment, one would wonder that he should plot lust, be guilty of 
murder, and lie in that stupid condition for a long time. Peter, 
which had such courage to venture upon a band of men, and to cut off 
Malchus's ear, should be so faint-hearted at a damsel's question ! So, 
Awhile the strength of the present impulse and the grace of God is 


warm upon the heart, we may keep close to our work while the in 
fluence continues ; but afterward, how cold and dead do men grow ! 
as vapours drawn up by the sun, at night fall down again in a dew. 
The people were upon a high point of willingness, mighty forward, 
and ready to offer whole cart-loads of gold and silver, 1 Chron.*xxix. 
18. What saith David? '0 Lord God, keep this for ever in the 
imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people, and stablish 
their heart unto thee.' We are not always in a like frame. 

2. Our strength lies in God, and not in ourselves. When the 
apostle had exhorted his Ephesians to all Christian duties, he 
concludes it thus : Eph. vi. 10, ' Be strong in the Lord, and 
in the power of his might.' This might is in God, he is our 
strength. And 2 Tim. ii. 1, 'Be strong in the grace that is in 
Jesus Christ.' God would not trust us with the stock in our own 
hands, now we have spent our portion, and played the prodigals, but 
would have us wait upon him from morning to morning : Ps. xxv. 4, 
* Show me thy ways, Lord, teach me thy paths ; lead me in thy 
truth, and teach me.' We are apt to embezzle it, or forget God, both 
which are very mischievous. When the prodigal got his stock in his 
own hands, he went into a far country, out of his father's house. God 
would not hear from us, there would not be such a constant commu 
nion and correspondence between him and us, if our daily necessities 
did not force us to him. Therefore, that the throne of grace might 
not lie unfrequented, God keeps the strength in his own hands. We 
need to consult with him on all occasions. 

3. God gives out his strength according to his own pleasure. God 
many times gives the will, when he suspendeth the strength that is neces 
sary for the performance. Sometimes God gives scire, a sense and 
conscience of duty ; at other times he gives velle, to will, to have a 
purpose ; and when he gives to will, he doth not always give posse, to be 
able not such a lively performance. It is possible he may give the will 
where he doth not give the deed ; for it is said, Phil. ii. 13, ' He worketh 
both to will and to do of his good pleasure.' And Paul certainly doth not 
speak as a convinced, but as a renewed man, when he saith, ' To will 
is present with me, but how to perform that which is good, I find not.' 
He had received the will, and not the deed finding presupposeth 
searching. When we have done all we can, yet how to bring our pur 
poses into actions, we cannot tell. Peter had his resolutions (and no 
doubt they were hearty and real), yet when he comes to make them 
good, what a poor weakling was Peter ! Putdbat se posse, quod se 
velle sentiebat he thought he could do that which he could will, 
saith Austin: John xiii. 37, 'Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will 
lay down my life for thee.' We look upon the willing spirit, and not 
upon the weak flesh. It is possible we may lean upon recent dispositions 
and affections, as if they would carry us out, without dependence upon 
God. Therefore,foralltheparts of spiritual strength he must besoughtto. 

The use is 

Use. To press you to beware of presumption and self-confidence, 
when }^our resolutions are at the highest for God, and your hearts in 
the best frame. Kesolution is needful, as was said before ; but all our 
confidences must arise from God's promises, not our own, if we mean 


not to be left in the dirt. This self-confidence in spiritual things I 
shall show 

1. How it discovereth itself. 

2. How to cure it. 

1. It discovereth itself 

[1.] Partly thus, by venturing upon temptations without a call and 
warrant. When men will lay their heads in the lap of a temptation, 
and run into the mouth of danger, they tempt God, but trust ta 
themselves. Peter would be venturing into the devil's quarters ; but 
what is the issue ? He denies his master. Dependence upon God is 
ever accompanied with a holy solicitude and cautelous fear, Phil. ii. 12, 
13. When we go out of God's way it is a presuming upon our own 
strength ; for he will keep us in viis, in his ways ; not in prcecipitiis y 
when we run headlong into danger. 

[2.] When men neglect those means whereby their graces or comforts 
may be fed and supplied. A man that is kept humble and depending 
will be always waiting for his dole at wisdom's gates, Prov. viii. 34. 
We cannot regularly expect anything from God but in God's way. 
They who depend upon God will be much in prayer, hearing, and 
taking all opportunities. But when men begin to think they need 
not pray so much, need not make such conscience of hearing ; when 
we are more arbitrary and negligent in the use of means, then we be 
gin to live upon ourselves and our own stock, and do not depend upon 
the free grace of God to carry us out in our work. 

[3.] When you go forth to any work or conflict, without an actual 
renewing of your dependence upon God. It is a sign you lean upon the 
strength of your own resolutions, or present frame of your heart. The 
Ephraimites took it ill that Gideon would go to war, and not call them 
into the field when they went out against the enemy, Judges viii. 1. 
Oh, may not God much more take it ill that we will go forth to grapple 
with the devil and temptations, and go about any business in our own 
strength? Therefore, still a sense of our weakness must be upon 
us, that we may ' do all in the name of the Lord Jesus ; ' that is, by 
help and assistance from him, Col. iii. 17. 

[4.] When we boast of our courage before we are called to a triaL 
They that crack in their quarters do not always do most valiantly in 
the field. Peter's boast, * Though all men should leave thee, yet will 
not I/ came to very little ; and you know the story of Mr Saunders 
in the Book of Martyrs. ' Let not him that puts on his harness boast 
as he that puts it off.' A temptation will show us how little service 
that grace will do us which we are proud of, and boast of. 

2. To cure carnal confidence, remember your work and your im 
pediments. (1.) Consider your work. A full view of duty will check 
our rash presumptions. Can you deny yourselves, take up your cross, 
maintain and carry on a holy course to your life's end ? And (2.) Ke- 
member your impediments. Partly from a naughty heart. You are to 
row against the stream of flesh and blood. Satan will be sure to trouble 
you, and will assault you again and again. Though he be never so 
fully foiled, he will not give over the combat : Luke iv. 13, he de 
parted from Christ * for a season/ He had a mind to try the other 
bout. And the world will be your let many discouragements and 

8.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 77 

snares from the love and fear of it : 1 John v. 3, 4, ' He that loves 
God keeps his commandments, and his commandments are not 
grievous ' ; and presently he saith, * And this is the victory that over- 
eometh the world, even our faith ; ' implying there is no keeping the 
commandments without victory over the world. Now, can you do all 
these things in your own strength ? The young man was forward in 
resolving to keep the commandments, but he went away sad, for he 
had great possessions, Mat. xix. 22. Therefore consider these things, 
that you may fly to the Lord Jesus. 

Doct. 3. Though we fly to God's help, yet sometimes God may 
withdraw and forsake us. 

Here I shall speak of the kinds of desertion, and then of the 

First, For the kinds, take these distinctions : 

1. There is a real desertion and a seeming. Christ may be out of 
sight, and yet you not out of mind. When the dam is abroad for 
meat, the young brood in the nest are not forgotten nor forsaken. 
The child cries as if the mother was gone, but she is but hidden, or 
about other business : Isa. xlix. 14, 15, ' Sion said, The Lord hath 
forsaken me, and my God hath forgotten me/ In the misgivings of 
our hearts, we think God hath cast off all care and all thought of us. 
But God's affectionate answer showeth that all this was but a fond 
surmise : ' Can a woman forget her sucking-child ? ' &c. So Ps. xxxi. 
22, ' I said in my haste, I am cut off before thine eyes : nevertheless 
thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee/ 
We are never more in God's heart many times than when we think 
he hath quite cast us off. Surely when the heart is drawn after him 
he is not wholly gone. We often mistake God's dispensations. When 
he is preparing for us more ample relief, and emptying us of all carnal 
dependence, we judge that that is a forsaking ; as Ps. xciv. 18, ' When 
I said, My foot slippeth, thy mercy, Lord, held me up/ Sometimes 
in point of comfort we are at a loss, and filled with distractions and 
troubles, and all is that God may come in for our relief. So in point 
of grace : 2 Cor. xii. 10, ' When I am weak, then I am strong/ There 
is also a real desertion ; for God grants his people are forsaken some 
times : * Though I have forsaken you for a little moment,' Isa. liv. 7, 8, 
And Christ, that could not be mistaken, complaineth of it ; and the 
saints feel it to their bitter cost. 

2. There is internal and external desertion. Internal is with re 
spect to the withdrawings of the Spirit: Ps. li. 11, 'Take not thy 
Holy Spirit from me.' Now external desertion is in point of afflic 
tion, when God leaves us under sharp crosses in his wise providence. 
These must be distinguished; sometimes they are asunder, some 
times together. And when they are together, God may return 
as to our inward comfort and support, yet not for our deliverance : 
Ps. cxxxviii. 3, ' In the day when I cried thou .answeredst me, and 
strengthenedst me with strength in my soul/ David was in great 
straits, and God affords him soul-relief ; that was all the answer he 
could get then; support and strength to bear the troubles, but not de 
liverance from the affliction. Sometimes the ebb of outward comfort 
doth make way for a greater tide and influx of inward comfort: 


2 Cor. i. 5, ' As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consola 
tion also aboundeth by Christ.' Cordials are for a fainting time. When 
children are sick and weakly, we treat them with the more indulgence. 
God may return, and may never less forsake us inwardly than when 
he doth forsake us outwardly : 2 Cor. iv. 16, ' Though our outward 
man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.' God makes 
sickly bodies make way for the health of the soul, and an aching 
head for a better heart. When he seems to cast us off in point of our 
external condition, it is to draw us into a more inward communion 
with himself, that we might receive greater supplies of his grace. 

3. There is a desertion as to comfort, and a desertion as to grace. 
The children of God may sometimes lose the feelings of God's love : 
Ps. Ixxvii. 1-3, ' My soul refused to be comforted ; I remembered 
God, and was troubled ; my spirit was overwhelmed.' Oh, what a word 
was that ! Eemembering of God revives the heart ; but to think of 
God, and to think of his loss, that was his great trouble. Yet all this 
while God may hold communion in point of grace : Ps. Ixxiii. 23, 
* Nevertheless, I am continually with thee : thou hast holden me by 
my right hand.' He had been under a conflict, lost his comfort, yet 
he acknowledgeth support ; God held him in his right hand. Trouble 
and discomfort hath its use ; want of comfort makes way many times 
for increase of grace ; and therefore, though a man may be deserted as 
to comfort, yet he may have a greater influence of grace from God. 
How often doth it fall put thus with God's children, that their right is 
more confirmed to spiritual blessings when their sense is lost ! Then 
they are more industrious and diligent to get a sense of God's love 
again. A summers sun that is clouded yields more comfort and 
warmth to the earth than a winter's sun that shines brightest. These 
cloudy times have their use and their fruit ; and Christians have the 
less of a happy part of communion with God, that they may have 
more holiness ; and less of sweetness and sensible consolation, that 
they may have more grace. 

4. There is desertio correctiva et eruditiva a desertion for correc 
tion, and a desertion for instruction. Sometimes the aim of it is 
merely for correction for former sin ; it is a penal overclouding for our 
unkind and ungracious dealing with him. God may do it for sins ; 
nay, many times for old sins long ago committed ; he may charge them 
anew upon the conscience : Job xiii. 24, compared with ver. 26, ' Where 
fore hidest thou thy face, and boldest me for thine enemy ?' ' Thou 
makest me to possess the iniquities of my youth.' An old bruise may 
trouble us long after, upon every change of weather. Many that have 
grieved God's Spirit in their youth, after they have been converted, 
God will reckon with them about it in their age. A man will smart 
for his ungracious courses first or last. Sometimes it is merely for in 
struction ; it instructs us chiefly to show us God's sovereignty, with 
the changeableness of the best comfort on this side heaven ; to show 
us his sovereignty, that he will be free to go and come at his own plea 
sure. He will have his people know he is lord, and may do with his 
own as pleaseth him. The heavenly eradiations and outshinings of 
his love are not at our beck ; God will dispense them according to his 
pleasure. A mariner hath no cause to murmur and quarrel with God 

VER. 8.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 79* 

because the wind bloweth out of the east when he desireth a westerly 
gale. Why ? Because it is his wind, and he will dispose these things 
according to his pleasure. So the comfort and outshinings of his love 
are his, and he will take them and give them as he thinks good. Again, 
to show us the changeableness of the best comforts on this side heaven. 
When Christ hath been in the soul with a full and high influx of com 
fort, this doth not remain long with us ; God may withdraw. Observe 
it, often after the highest enlargements there may be some forsaking. 
Cant. v. 1, there we read of a feast between Christ and his beloved : 
1 Come eat, friends ; drink, yea, drink abundantly, beloved.' Here 
they are feasted with love ; presently we read of desertion, the spouse 
waxeth lazy and drowsy, and Christ is gone ; then she is forced to go 
up and down to find him. Paul had his raptures ; then a messenger 
of Satan to buffet him. The same disciples that were conscious to 
Christ's transfiguration Peter, James, and John, Mat. xvii. the same 
disciples are chosen also to be conscious to his agonies : Mat. xxvi. 37, 
1 He took with him Peter, James, and John/ First they had a 

flimpse of his glory, then a sight of his bitter agonies and sufferings, 
eremiah in one line singing of praise, and in the next cursing the 
day of his birth, Jer. xx. 13, 14. After the most ravishing comforts 
may be a sad suspension. Jacob saw the face of God, and wrestled 
with him, but his thigh halted. There needs something to humble 
the creature after these experiences. 

5. Desertion is either felt or not felt. Not felt, and then it is more 
dangerous, and usually ends in some notable fall ; as Hezekiah, 2 Chron. 
xxxii. 31. God left him, and he was not sensible, and then he runs 
into pride and vainglory, and draweth wrath upon him and his people. 
God's children, when they do not observe his comings and goings, they 
fall into mischief, it begins their woe. We do not observe what ex 
periences we have of God, then we faint: we do not observe his 
goings, then that makes way for some scandal and imprudent and un 
seemly action, and that makes way for some bitter and sharp affliction. 
But if it be felt, it is the better provided against. If we do not murmur, 
but seek to God in Christ to get the loss made up, then it is better. 
Meek acknowledgments are better than complaining expostulations. 
It is a sign it works kindly. 

6. There is a total and a partial desertion. Those who are bent 
to obey God may for a while and in some degree be left to them 
selves. We cannot promise ourselves an utter immunity from de 
sertion, but it is not total. We shall find, for his great name's 
sake * The Lord will not forsake his people/ 1 Sam. xii. 22 ; and 
Heb. xiii. 5, * I will never leave thee nor forsake thee/ Not utterly, 
yet in part they may be forsaken. Elijah was forsaken, but not as 
Ahab ; Peter was forsaken in part, but not as Judas, that was utterly 
forsaken, until he was made a prey to the devil. So carnal professors 
are forsaken utterly until they are made a prey fit for the devil's 
tooth. David was forsaken to be humbled and bettered; but Saul 
was forsaken utterly to be destroyed. Saith Theophylact, God may 
forsake his people so as to shut out their prayers, Ps. Ixxx. 4, so as to 
interrupt the peace and joy of their heart, to abate their strength ; 
the spiritual life may be much at a stand, and so as sin may break 


out, and they fall foully ; but not utterly forsaken. But one way or other 
God is present ; present in light sometimes when he is not present in 
strength, when he manifests the evil of their present condition, so as 
to mourn under it ; and present in awakening desires, though not in 
giving enjoyment. As long as there is any esteem of God, he is not 
yet gone; there is some light and love yet left, manifested by our 
desires of communion with him. 

7. There is a temporary desertion and an eternal desertion. One 
is spoken of, Isa. liv. 7, 8, * For a small moment have I forsaken thee, 
but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee.' God may for 
sake his servants for a little while : indeed they may have a long winter 
of it sometimes ; as David lay for many months under his sin, until 
Nathan roused him ; but this is but a moment to the eternity wherein 
God loves them. But the eternal forsaking is of the final impenitent, 
when God saith, Never see my face more, 'go ye cursed,' &c. Thus 
for the kinds. 

Secondly, The reasons of desertion. 

1. To correct us for our wantonness, and our unkind dealing with 
Christ. If we neglect him upon frivolous pretences, certainly he will 
be gone : Cant. v. 3, 'I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on ? ' 
See ver. 6, * My beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone.' When 
we are not at God's call, he will not be at our beck. She that would 
not open to Christ, when she opened, Christ was gone. 

2. To acquaint us with our weakness. What feathers are we when 
the blast of a temptation is let loose upon us ! God will show what 
we are by his withdrawing. God left Hezekiah, ' That he might try 
him, that he might know all that was in his heart/ 2 Chron. xxxii. 
31. When Christ was asleep, the storm arose, and the ship was in 
danger. If God be gone but a little, or suspend his influence, we can 
not stand our ground. 

3. To subdue our carnal confidence : Ps. xxx. 6, 7, ' In my pro 
sperity I said, I shall never be moved.' We fall asleep upon a carnal 
pillow, then God draws it away : ' Thou didst hide thy face and I was 
troubled.' The nurse lets the child get a knock, to make it more 
cautious. God withdraws, that we may learn more to depend upon him. 

4. To heighten our esteem of Christ, that love may be sharpened 
by absence. When once we feel the loss of it to our bitter cost, we will 
not part with him again upon easy terms. The spouse when she caught 
him would not let him go. Cant. iii. 2, 3, 4 ; then are we more tender 
to observe him in his motions. 

5. That by our own bitter experience we may learn how to value 
the sufferings of Christ, when we taste of the bitter cup of which he 
drank for us. Christians, you do not know what it was for Christ to 
cry out, ' My God, why hast thou forsaken me ? ' Mat. xxvii. 46, until 
we are sensible in our measure and degree of the like. He tasted of 
the hell of being forsaken, and we must pledge him in that cup first 
or last, that we may know what our Saviour endured for us ; and what 
it is for a holy man to want the light of God's countenance, and those 
sensible consolations that he formerly had. 

6. To prevent evil to come, especially pride, that we might not be 
lifted up ; and to entender our hearts to others : 2 Cor. i. 4, ' That we 


might comfort others with the comforts wherewith we were comforted 
of God.' 

Use 1. This informs us that we are not therefore cast out of the 
love of God because there may be some forsaking. Desertion is 
incident to the most heavenly spirits. Christ hath legitimated this 
condition, and made it consistent with grace. It is a disease this 
which follows the royal seed ; David, Heman, Hezekiah, these were 
forsaken, yet were children of God. It is more incident to the godly 
than the wicked and carnal. The carnal may be under bondage; 
sometimes their peace may be troubled and disturbed ; but this deser 
tion properly is a disease incident to the godly, and none are so 
affected with it as they : they have a tender heart ; when God is gone 
how are they troubled ! They are very observant, and therefore we 
cannot say they are not godly because they are forsaken. But those 
that never felt the love of Christ, never knew what communion with 
God means, were never troubled with sin, have none of this affliction ; 
bat this is incident to the richest and most heavenly spirit whom 
God hath taken into communion with himself. 

Use 2. For direction to the children of God. 

1. Observe God's comings and goings; see whether you be forsaken. 
When God hides himself from your prayers, when means have not 
such a lively influence, when you have a strong affection to obey, but 
not such help to bring it into act, and you begin to stumble, observe 
it ; God is withdrawn, and many times seems to withdraw, to observe 
whether you will take notice of it. Christ made as if he would go 
further, but they constrained him to stay ; so he makes as if he would 
be gone, to see if you will constrain him to tarry. 

2. Inquire after the reason: Ps. Ixxvii. 6, *I communed with 
mine own heart.' What then ? ' My spirit made diligent search.' 
Ay 1 this is the time to make diligent search what it is divides be 
tween God and you. Though God doth it out of sovereignty and 
instruction sometimes, yet there is ever cause for creatures to humble 
themselves, and make diligent search what is the matter. 

3. Submit to the dispensation : murmuring doth but entangle you 
more ; God will have us stoop to his sovereignty and wisdom before he 
hath done. A husband must be absent for necessary occasions; a 
frown is as necessary for a child as a smile. David refuseth not to be 
tried, only he prays, ' Lord, forsake me not utterly.' It is a fond child 
that will not let its parent go out of sight. 

4. Learn to trust in a withdrawing God, and depend upon him ; 
to stay ourselves upon his name when we see no light, Isa. 1. 10. 
Never leave until you find him. Look, as Esther would go into 
the king's presence when there was no golden sceptre held forth, so 
venture into God's presence when you have no smile and countenance 
from heaven ; trust in a withdrawing God ; nay, when wrath breaks 
out, when God killeth you : Job xiii. 15, c Though he kill me, yet will 
I trust in him.' With such a holy obstinacy of faith should we follow 
God in this case. 

Doct. 4. When God seemeth to forsake us, and really doth so in 
part, yet we should pray that it be not an utter and total desertion. 
Isa. Ixiv. 9, ' Be not wroth very sore, Lord, neither remember 

VOL. VI. I 1 


iniquity for ever. Behold, see, we beseech thee, we are all thy people/ 
(1.) Do not despond ; we are very apt to do so : Ps. Ixxvii. 7-9, ' Will 
the Lord cast off for ever ? will he be favourable no more ? Is his 
mercy clean gone for ever? doth his promise fail for evermore? 
Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his 
tender mercies ? Selah/ The worst kind of despondency is to lie in sin. 
To lie in the dirt, because we are fallen, is foolish obstinacy. (2.) Pray 
to God (1st.) Acknowledging that we have deserved it; (2d.) By 
supplication. There is nothing which God hath promised to perform 
but we may ask it in prayer : Heb. xiii. 5, * He hath said, I will never 
leave thee nor forsake thee/ If thou provest me, let me not miscarry ; 
if thou exercisest me, let me not be cut off. Beg his returns. (3.) Give 
thanks that God is not wholly gone, as certainly he is not, as long as 
you are sensible of your loss, and have a tender heart left. Though 
he hath withdrawn the light of his countenance, yet he hath left the 
esteem of it, a thirst after God, and a desire of communion with him 
self. As long as there is any attraction left, you may find him by the 
smell of his ointments. 


WJierewith shall a young man cleanse Ms way ? By taking heed 
thereto according to thy word. VER. 9. 

IN the former part the Psalmist showeth that the word of God pointeth 
out the only true way to blessedness. Now, the main thing which the 
word enforceth is holiness. This is the way which we must take if 
we intend to come to our journey's end. This David applieth to the 
young man in the text, * Wherewith shall a young man cleanse/ &c. 

In the words there is (1.) A question asked ; (2.) An answer given. 

In the question there is the person spoken of, a young man. And 
his work, luherewith shall he cleanse his way f Omnis quceslio sup- 
ponit unum, et inquirit aliud. In this question there are several 
things supposed. 

1. That we are from the birth polluted with sin ; for we must be 
cleansed. It is not, ' direct his way/ but ' cleanse his way.' 

2. That we should be very early and timeously sensible of this evil ; 
for the question is propounded concerning the young man. 

3. That we should earnestly seek for a remedy how to dry up the 
issue of sin^that runneth upon us. All this is to be supposed. 

That which is inquired after is, what remedy there is against it ? 
what course is to be taken ? So that the sum of the question is this : 
How shall a man that is impure, and naturally defiled with sin, be 
made able, as soon as he cometh to the use of reason, to purge out that 
natural corruption, and live a holy and pure life to God? The 
answer given is, 'By taking heed thereto according to thy word/ 
Where two things are to be observed (1.) The remedy; (2.) The 
manner how it is applied and made use of. 

1. The remedy is the word by way of address to God, called thy 


word; because if God had not given direction about it, we should 
have been at an utter loss. 

2. The manner how it is applied and made use of, by taking heed 
thereto, &c., by studying and endeavouring a holy conformity to 
God's will. 

[1.] I begin with the question ; for, as the careless world carrieth the 
matter, it seemeth very impertinent and ridiculous. What have youth 
and childhood to do with so serious a work ? When old age hath 
snowed upon their heads, and the smart experience of more years in 
the world hath ripened them for so severe a discipline, then it is time 
to think of cleansing their way, or of entering upon a course of repen 
tance and submission to God. For the present, Dandum est aliquid 
huic cetati youth must be a little indulged ; they will grow wiser as 
they grow more in years. Oh ! no ; God demandeth his right as soon 
as we are capable to understand it. And it concerneth every one, as 
soon as he cometh to the use of reason, presently to mind his work, 
both in regard of God and himself. 

(1.) In regard of God, that he may not be kept out of his right too 
long : Eccles. xii. 1, ' Kemember thy creator in the days of thy youth.' 
He is our creator ; we have nothing but what he gave us, and that for 
his own use and service. And therefore the vessel should be cleansed 
as soon as may be, that it may be ' fit for the master's use.' It is a 
kind of spiritual restitution for the neglects of childhood and the for- 
getfulness of infancy, when we were not in a capacity to know our 
creator, much less to serve him. And therefore, as soon as we come to 
the use of reason, we should restore his right with advantage. 

(2.) In regard of himself. The first seasoning of the vessel is very 
considerable : Prov. xxii. 6, ' Train up a child in the way in which he 
should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.' When 
well principled and seasoned in youth, it sticketh by them, before sin 
and worldly lusts have gotten a deeper rooting. If Solomon's observation 
be true, a man's infancy and younger time is a notable presage what 
he will prove afterwards : Prov. xx. 11, ' Even a child is known by his 
doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.' Much 
may be known by our young inclinations. But, alas ! this is not full 
out the case. The vessel is seasoned already ; but ' wherewith shall a 
young man cleanse his way ? ' which presupposeth a defilement. No 
infant is like a vessel that newly cometh out of the potter's shop, 
indifferent for good or bad infusions. The vessel is tainted already, 
and hath a smatch of the old man and the corruptions of the flesh : 
Ps. li. 5, ' Behold I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother 
conceive me/ We came polluted into the world; our business is to 
stop the growth of sin. As a child walloweth in his filthiness, so we 
do all spiritually wallow in our blood : Ezek. xvi. 4, 5, ' As for thy 
nativity, in the day thou wast born, thou wert not washed in water, 
nor swaddled at all. No eye pitied thee, to do any of these unto thee, 
to have compassion upon thee ; but thou wast cast out into the open 
field, to the loathing of thy person in the day that thou wast born. And 
when I saw thee polluted in thy own blood, I said unto thee, when 
thou wast in thy blood, Live,' &c. Therefore the question is very 
savoury and profitable, ' Wherewith shall a young man,' &c. 


But why is the young man only specified ? 

I answer All men are concerned in this work. Old men are not left 
to themselves, nor wholly given over as hopeless; but youth need it 
most, being inclined to liberty and carnal pleasures, and most apt to 
be led aside from the right way by the motions of the flesh ; and being 
headstrong in their passions, and self-willed, need to have their 
fervours abated by the cool and chill doctrines of repentance and con 
version to God. And, therefore, though others be not excluded, the 
young man is expressly mentioned : unbroken colts need the stronger 
bits. The word is of use to all, but especially to youth, to bridle them, 
and reduce them to reason. 

[2.] The answer ' By taking heed thereto according to thy word.' 
The word, as a remedy against natural uncleanness, is considerable 
two ways as a rule, and as an instrument. 

(1.) As the only rule of that holiness which God will accept. All other 
ways are but bypaths, as good meaning, or the suggestions of a blind 
conscience, custom, example of others, our own desires, laws of men, 
superstitious observances, and apocryphal holiness. Nothing is holi 
ness in God's account, how specious soever it be, unless it be according 
to the word. What doth the word do about all these as the rule ? It 
showeth the only way of reconciliation with God, or being cleansed from 
the guilt of sin, and the only way of solid and true sanctification and 
subjection to God, which is our cleansing from the filthiness of sin. All 
religions aim at this Ut anima sit subjecta Deo, et peccata x in se. No 
true peace without the word, nor no true holiness. The first is proved 
Jer. vi. 16, * Thus saith the Lord, 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.' The second is proved John xvii. 17, 
' Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth.' So that a young 
man that is, like Hercules in bivio, to choose his path to true happiness, 
will never attain to true peace and sound satisfaction of conscience, 
nor to true grace or a hearty subjection to God, but by consulting 
with the word. No other rule and direction will serve the turn. 
(1.) It is the only rule to teach us how to obtain true peace of con 
science. The whole world is become obnoxious to God, and held 
under the awe of divine justice. This bondage is natural, and the 
great inquiry is how his anger shall be appeased : Micah vi. 6, 7, 
' Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the 
high God ? Shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves 
of a year old ? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or 
with ten thousands of rivers of oil ? Shall I give my first-born for my 
transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ? ' Now 
here is no tolerable satisfaction offered, no plaster for the wounds of 
conscience, no way to compromise and take up the controversy between 
us^and God; but by the propitiation which the gospel holdeth forth all 
this is effected. The Gentiles were at a loss, the Jews rested in the 
sacrifices, which yet * could not make him that did the service perfect 
as pertaining to the conscience,' Heb. ix. 9 ; therefore they fled to 
barbarous and sinfully cruel customs, offering their first-born, &c. 
There was no course to recover men from their entanglements and 

1 Qu. ' pacata' ? ED. 


perplexities of soul, how to pacify God for sin, but they were still 
left in a floating uncertainty, till God revealed himself as reconciling 
the world to himself in Christ. Now, no doctrine doth propound the 
way of reconciliation with God, and redemption from those fears of his 
angry justice which are so natural to us, with such rational advantages, 
and claimeth such a just title to human belief, as the doctrine of the 
gospel. Oh ! then, if the young man would cleanse his conscience, and 
quiet and calm his own spirit, he must of necessity take up with the 
word as his sure direction in the case. Look abroad, where will you 
find rest for your souls in this business of atonement and reconcilia 
tion with God ? What strange horrible fruits and effects have men's 
contrivances on this account produced ? What have they not invented, 
what have they not done, what not suffered upon this account ? and yet 
continued in dread and bondage all their days. Now, what a glorious 
soul-appeasing light doth the doctrine of satisfaction and atonement 
by the blood of Christ the Son of God cause to break in upon the 
hearts of men ! The testimony of blood in the conscience is one of the 
witnesses the believer hath in himself : 1 John v. 8, ' And there are 
three that bear witness on earth, the spirit, the water, and the blood ;' 
and ver. 10, ' He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness 
in himself.' (2.) It is the only rule of true holiness. Never was it 
stated and brought to such a pitch as it is in the scriptures, nor 
enforced by such arguments as are found there; it requireth such 
a holiness as standeth in conformity to God, and is determined by 
his will. Now it is but reason that he that is the Supreme Being 
should be the rule of all the rest. It is a holiness of another rate 
than the blind heart could find out ; not an external devotion, nor a 
civil course, but such as transformeth the heart and subdueth it to the 
will of God, Eom. ii. 15. If a man would attain to the highest exact 
ness that a rational creature is capable of, not to moral virtue only, 
but a true genuine respect to God and man, he must regard and love 
the law of God that is pure. A man that would be holy had need of 
an exact rule, for to be sure his practice will come short of his 
rule ; and therefore, if the rule itself be short, there will no due provi 
sion be made for respects to God or man. But now this is a rule that 
reacheth not only to the way, but the thoughts ; that converteth the 
soul : Ps. xix. 7, ' The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.' 
Take the fairest draughts of that moral perfection which yet is of 
human recommendation, and you will find it defective and maimed in 
some parts, either as to God or men. It is inferior is hemisphcerii, as 
not reaching to the full subjection of the soul to God. There is some 
dead fly in their box of ointment, either for manner or end. 

(2.) The word is considerable as an instrument which God maketh 
use of to cleanse the heart of man. It will not be amiss a little to 
show the instrumentality of the word to this blessed end and purpose. 
It is the glass that discovereth sin, and the water that washeth it 
away. (1.) It is the glass wherein to see our corruption. The first 
step to the cure is a knowledge of the disease ; it is a glass wherein to 
Bee our natural face : James i. 23, ' For if any be a hearer of the word, 
and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a 
glass/ &c. In the word we see God's image and our own. It is the 


copy of God's holiness, and the representation of our natural faces, 
Kom. vii. 9. What fond conceits have we of our own spiritual beauty ! 
but there we may see the leprous spots that are upon us. (2.) It sets 
us a-work to see it purged ; it is the water to wash it out. The word 
of command presseth the duty ; it is indispensably required. What 
doth every command sound in our ears but * Wash you, make you 
clean.' ? This is indispensably required : 1 John iii. 3, ' And every 
man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure ;' 
and Heb. xii. 14, ' Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without 
which no man shall see the Lord.' Some things God may dispense 
with, but this is never dispensed with. Many things are ornamental 
that are not absolutely necessary, as wealth, riches : ' Wisdom with an 
inheritance is good ; ' so learning. Many have gone to heaven that 
were never learned, but never any without holiness. (3.) The word of 
promise encourageth it : 2 Cor. vii. 1, ' Having therefore these promises, 
dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh 
and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God ; ' and 2 Peter i. 4, 
* Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, 
that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having 
escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust/ God might 
have required it upon the account of his sovereignty, we being his crea 
tures, especially this being the perfection of our natures, and rather a 
privilege than a burden ; but God would not rule us with a rod of 
iron, but deal with rational creatures rationally, by promises and 
threatenings. On the one side he telleth us of a pit without a bottom : 
on the other, of blessed and glorious promises, things ' which eye hath 
not seen, nor ear heard of, neither have entered into the heart of man to 
conceive.' Therefore the word hath a notable instrumentality that way. 

(3.) The doctrine of the scripture holds out the remedy and means of 
cleansing Christ's blood ; which is not only an argument or motive to 
move us to it. So it is urged 1 Peter i. 8, ' Whom having not seen, 
ye love ; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice 
with joy unspeakable,' &c. It presseth holiness upon this argument. 
Why ? God hath been at great cost to bring it about, therefore we 
must not content ourselves with some smooth morality, which might 
have been whether Christ had been, yea or nay. Again, the word pro 
pounds it as a purchase, whereby grace is procured for us ; so it is 
said, 1 John i. 7, He hath purchased the Spirit to bless us, and turn 
us from our sins. And it exciteth faith to apply and improve this 
remedy, and so conveyeth the power of God into the soul : Acts xv. 9, 
' Purifying their hearts by faith.' 

2. The manner how the word is applied and made use of, ' If he 
take heed thereunto according to thy word.' This implieth a studying 
of the word, and the tendency and importance of it, which is necessary 
if the young man would have benefit by it. David calleth the statutes 
of God^the men of his counsel. Young men that are taken with other 
books, if they neglect the word of God that book that should do the 
cure upon the heart and mind they are, with all their knowledge, 
miserable : Ps. i. 2, ' His delight is in the law of the Lord ; and in his 
law doth he meditate day and night.' If men would grow wise to 
salvation, and get any skill in the practice of godliness, they must be 


much in this blessed book of God, which is given us for direction : 
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/ It is not a slight acquaintance with the word that 
will make a young man so successful as to defeat the temptations of 
Satan, and be too hard for his own lust; it is not a little notional 
irradiation, but to have the word dwell in you, and abide in you richly. 
The way to destroy ill weeds is to plant good herbs that are contrary. 
We suck in carnal principles with our milk, and therefore we are said 
to 'speak lies from the womb.' A kind of a riddle; before we are 
able to speak, we speak lies namely, as we are prone to error and all 
manner of carnal fancies by the natural temper and frame of our 
hearts, Isa. Iviii. 2 ; and therefore, from our very tender and infant-age 
we should be acquainted with the word of God : 2 Tim. iii. 15, ' And 
that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures.' It may be 
children, by reading the word, get nothing but a little memorative 
knowledge, but yet it is good to plant the field of the memory ; in time 
they will soak into the judgment and conscience, and thence into the 
heart and affections. 

3. It implieth a care and watchfulness over our hearts and ways, 
that our will and actions be conformed to the word. This must be the 
young man's daily prayer and care, that there be a conformity between 
his will and the word, that he may be a walking Bible, Christ's living 
epistle, copy out the word in his life, that the truths of it may appeal- 
plainly in his conversation. 

All that I have said issueth itself into three points : 

1. That the great duty of youth, as soon as they come to the full 
use of reason, is to inquire and study how they may cleanse their hearts 
and ways from sin. 

2. That the word of God is the only rule sufificient and effectual to 
accomplish this work. 

3. If we would have this efficacy, there is required much care and 
watchfulness, that we come to the direction of the word in every tittle ; 
not a loose and inattentive reflection upon the word, careless incon- 
siderateness, but a taking heed thereunto. 

Now, why in youth, and as soon as we come to the use of reason, 
we should mind the work of cleansing our way ? 

1. Consider how reasonable this is. It is fit that God should have 
our first and our best. It is fit he should have our first, because he 
minded us before we were born. His love to us is an eternal and an 
everlasting love ; and shall we put off God to old age ? shall we thrust 
him into a corner ? Surely God, that loved us so early, it is but reason 
he should have our first, and also our best ; for we have all from him. 
Under the law the first-fruits were God's, to show the first and best was 
his portion. All the sacrifices that were offered to him, they were in their 
strength, and young : Lev. ii. 14, * And if thou offer a meat-offering 
of thy first-fruits unto the Lord, thou shalt offer for the meat-offering 
of thy first-fruits green ears of corn dried by the fire, even corn beaten 
out of full ears/ God would not stay till ripened. God will not be 
long kept out of his portion. Youth is our best time. Mai. i. 13, 
when they brought a weak and sickly offering, ' Should I accept this of 


your hand ? saith the Lord/ The health, strength, quickness of spirit, 
and vigour is in youth. Shall our health and strength be for the 
devil's use, and shall we put off God with the dregs of time ? Shall 
Satan feast upon the flower of our youth and fresh time, and God only 
have the scraps and fragments of the devil's table ? When wit is 
dulled, the ears heavy, the body weak, and affections are spent, is this 
a fit present for God ? 

2. Consider the necessity of it. (1.) Because of the heat of youth, 
the passions and lusts are very strong : 2 Tim. ii. 22, ' Fly also youth 
ful lusts.' Men are most incident in that age to pride and self-conceit, 
to strong affections, inordinate and excessive love of liberty : 1 Tim. 
iii. 6, ' Not a novice, lest, being lifted up with pride, he fall into the 
condemnation of the devil/ A man may make tame fierce creatures, 
lions and tigers ; and the fury of youth needs to be tempered and bridled 
by the word. It is much for the glory of grace that this heat and 
violence is broken when the subject is least of all disposed and pre 
pared. (2.) Because none are tempted so much as they. Children 
cannot be serviceable to the devil, and old men are spent, and have 
chosen their ways ; but youths, who have a sharpness of understanding, 
and the stoutest and most stirring spirits, the devil loveth to make 
use of such : 1 John ii. 13, ' I write unto you, young men, because ye 
have overcome the wicked one/ They are most assaulted ; but it is 
for the honour of grace when they overcome, when their fervency and 
strength is employed, not in satisfying lusts, but in the service of God 
and fighting against Satan. Therefore it is very needful they should 
be seasoned with the word betimes. 

3. Consider the many inconveniencies that will follow if they do 
not presently mind this work. (1.) Death is uncertain, and therefore 
such a weighty business as this will brook no delay. God doth not 
always give warning. Nadab and Abihu, two rash and inconsiderate 
young men, were taken away in their sins ; and the bears out of the 
forest devoured the children that mocked the prophet. The danger 
being so ^reat, as soon as we are sensible of it, we should flee from it. 
When children come to the fulness of reason, they stand upon their 
own bottom ; before, they are reckoned to their parents. Oh, woe be 
to you if you die in your sins ! Certainly as soon as a man is upon his 
own personal account, he should look to himself, lest God cut him off 
before he hath made his peace with him. (2.) Sin groweth stronger 
by custom, and more rooted ; it gathereth strength by every act. A 
brand that hath been in the fire is more apt to take fire again. A 
man in a dropsy, the more he drinks, the more his thirst increaseth. 
Every act lesseneth fear and strengthened inclination : Jer. xiii. 27, 
* Woe unto thee, Jerusalem 1 wilt thou not be made clean ? when 
shall it once be?' A twig is easily bowed, but when it grows into 
a tree it is more troublesome and unpliable. A tree newly set may 
be transplanted, but when long rooted, not so easily. The man that 
was possessed of a devil from his childhood, how hardly is he cured ! 
Mark ix. 29. (3.) Justice is provoked the longer, and that will be a 
grief to you first or last. If ever we be brought home to God, it will 
cost us many a bitter tear ; not only at first conversion : Jer. xxxi. 18, 
' I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus : Thou hast 


chastised me, and I was chastised/ &c., but afterwards, David, though 
he began with God betimes, Ps. xxv. 7, yet prays, ' Kemember not 
the sins of my youth, nor my transgression ;' and Job xiii. 26, 'For 
thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the 
iniquities of my youth.' Old bruises may trouble us long after, upon 
every change of weather, and new afflictions revive the sense of old 
sins ; they may stick by us. We think tricks of youth are not to be 
stood upon : you may have a bitter sense of them to your dying day. 
(4.) You will every day grow more useless to God : the exercise of 
religion dependeth much on the vigour of affections. Again, it is very 
profitable ; it brings a great deal of honour to God to begin with him 
betimes. All time is little enough to declare your respects to God. 
And it is honourable for you. Seniority in grace is a preferment : they 
were * in Christ before me,' saith Paul. An old disciple is a title of 
honour. To grow grey in Christ's service, and to know him long, it 
maketh the work of grace more easy. The dedication of the first-fruits 
sanctified the whole lump : Lam. iii. 27, ' It is good for a man that he 
bear the yoke in his youth,' to be inured to strictness betimes. Dis 
positions impressed in youth increase with us. Again, it will be very 
comfortable when the miseries of old age come upon you. As the ant 
provideth in summer for winter, so should we provide for age. Now 
what a sweet comfort will it be, when we are taken off from service, 
that while we had any strength and affections, God had the use of 
them ! Then our age will be a good old age. 

Use 1 is for lamentation that so few youths take to the ways of 
God. No age doth despise the word so much as this, which hath most 
need of it. It is a rare thing to find a Joseph, or a Samuel, or a Josiah,. 
that seek God betimes. Go the universities, and you will find that 
those that should be as Nazarites consecrated to God, live as those 
that have vowed and consecrated themselves to Satan : Amos ii. 1 1, 
' And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for 
Nazarites/ &c. The sons of the prophets in their youth were bred for 
a more strict discipline in their holy calling, separated from worldly 
delights, to be a stock of a succeeding ministry. But, alas I they 
spend their time in vanity, bringing nothing thence but the sins of the 
place, and vainly following the sinful customs of the country. How 
few regard the education of their youth in knowledge or religious 
practice ! Families are societies to be sanctified to God, as well as 
churches. The governors of them have as truly a charge of souls as 
the pastors of churches. They offer their children to God in baptism, 
but educate and bring them up for the world and the flesh. They be 
wail any natural defect in them, if their children have a stammering 
tongue, a deaf ear, or a withered leg ; but not want of grace. We have 
a prejudice, and think they are too young to be wrought upon ; but 
God's word can break in with weight and power on young ones : Luke 
xi. 1, ' One of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as- 
John also taught his disciples ;' and Mat. xxi. 15, 16, ' When the chief 
priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the 
children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of 
David ; they were sore displeased, and said unto him, Hearest thou 
what these say ? And Jesus said unto them, Yea ; have ye never 


read, Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected 
praise ? ' They learned it of their parents : Mat. xxi. 9, * And the multi 
tudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the 
son of David.' We should often be infusing good principles in youth. 
Corruption of youth is one of the saddest symptoms of approaching 

Use, 2 is exhortation to young ones. You that are to begin your 
course, begin with God : you have no experience, yet you have a rule ; 
you have mighty lusts, but a stronger spirit. No age is excluded from 
the promise of the Spirit : Joel ii. 28, 29, 'And it shall come to pass 
afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh ; and your sons 
and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, 



Ghost even from his mother's womb ;' and Mark x. 14, ' Suffer little 
children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the king 
dom of God.' There is power to enlighten you, notwithstanding all 
your prejudices; to subdue your lusts, notwithstanding the power of 
corruptions : 1 John ii. 13, 14, ' I write unto you, young men, be 
cause ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little chil 
dren, because ye have known the Father/ &c.; and see Gen. xxxix. 9. 
It will be a great comfort to you when you die that your great work is 
over. Oh, what a sad thing is it that, when the body is going to the 
grave, the soul hath not yet learned to converse with God ! Hosea viii. 
12, * I have written to them the great things of my law ; but they 
were counted a strange thing.' God hath written an epistle to us, and 
we will not read it nor consult with it ; are wholly strangers to it. But 
now, when acquainted with God, it will not be so irksome to go to him. 


With my whole heart have I sought thee: let me not wander from 
thy commandments. VER. 10. 

THE Psalmist had in the former verse directed the young man to dili- 
gence^and attention unto the word ; but the word doth nothing unless 
we join prayer ; and therefore now he gives an example in his own 
person. Having spoken of the power of the word to cleanse the way, 
now saith he, ' With my whole heart,' &c. 
Here take notice 

1. Of David's argument, with my whole heart have I sought thee. 

2. His request, let me not wander from thy commandments. 
First, For David's argument, ' I have sought thee with my whole 

heart.' He pleadeth his own sincerity. I showed you largely what 
it is to seek God, and that with the whole heart, in the second verse. 
I shall not repeat anything ; only, that I may not dismiss this clause 
without some note, observe, first, that it is the duty and practice of 
Prod's children to seek him. 

VER. 10.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 91 

You have David's instance in the text and elsewhere. It is their 
general character : Ps. xxiv. 6, ' This is the generation of them 
that seek him, that seek thy face, Jacob. Selah/ God's children 
are a generation of seekers. They find hereafter, but now they seek. 
Their great business is to be seeking after God, more ample and full 
communion with him. 

Seeking of God implies three things : 

1. There is a more general seeking of God, for relief of our sin and 
misery by nature. 

2. More particular, upon special occasions. 

3. There is a constant seeking of God in the use of his ordinances. 

1. There is a more general seeking of God, for relief of our sinful 
and wretched condition by nature. Adam, when a sinner, ran away 
from God ; and therefore all our business is now to seek him, that we 
may find him again in Christ Jesus. The general address that is 
made to God for pardon and reconciliation, it is often called a seeking 
of God in scripture ; so it is taken Isa. Iv. 6, ' Seek ye the Lord while 
he may be found ; call upon him while he is near ; ' that is, get into 
favour with God before it be too late. So Amos v. 6, * Seek the 
Lord, and ye shall live.' This notes our general address for pardon 
and reconciliation. 

2. There is a more particular seeking of God ; that notes our 
addresses to God either in our exigencies and straits, or in all our 
business and employment. 

[1.] In our exigencies and straits. And so we are said to seek God 
when in doubts we seek his direction, James i. 5 ; when in weakness 
we seek strength ; in sickness, health ; in troubles, comfort. Asa is 
blamed that he ' sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians.' Paul's 
messenger of Satan drives him to the throne of grace : 2 Cor. xii. 8, 
* For this I sought the Lord thrice.' He would knock again and again, 
to see what answers he could get from God. 

[2.] In all our businesses and affairs God must be sought unto, and 
we must ask his leave, his counsel, and his blessing. Pagans, before 
the awe of religion was extinguished, would begin with their gods in 
every weighty enterprise. A Jove, principium was an honest heathen 
principle. Laban consults with his teraphim ; Balak sends for Balaam; 
they had their oracles that they would resort to. So far as any nation 
was touched with a sense of a divine power, they would never venture 
upon anything without consulting with their gods. And it is enjoined 
as a piece of religious good manners to own God upon all occasions : Prov. 
iii. 5, ' In all thy ways acknowledge him.' It is an acknowledgment of 
God, an owning him as a God, that we would be asking his leave, 
counsel, and blessing. His leave must be asked, though the thing be 
never so lawful and easy. We are taught every day to ask our daily 
bread, though we have it by us, that we may not, like thieves and robbers, 
use his goods without his leave. So for his counsel ; he is sure to mis 
carry that makes his bosom his oracle, his wit his counsellor. It is a 
high piece of spiritual idolatry to lean upon our own understanding, and 
think to carry even the ordinary affairs of any day without asking coun 
sel from God. And then his blessing. God is not an idle spectator, he 
disposeth of all events, and giveth the blessing : Jer. x. 23, * The way 


of man is not in himself ; it is not in man that walketh to direct his 
steps ; ' that is, as to any happy issue. God doth the more stand 
upon his right that he may the oftener hear from us, and that we 
may have many occasions to bring us to the throne of grace. Now 
this is the constant practice of God's children. David always ran to the 
oracle or the ephod when he had any business to do : 1 Sam. xxiii., 
Shall I do thus and thus, or shall I not ? ^ Jacob in his journey would 
neither go to Laban, nor come from him, without a warrant. Jehosha- 
phat in the business of Eamoth-Gilead would not stir a foot until he 
had counsel from God ; he sends not only to the captain of the host, 
but to the prophet of the Lord : ' Inquire, I pray thee, of the Lord to 
day,' 1 Kings xxii. 2 ; Judges i. 1, ii. 28. 

I have spoken this to show why the children of God are called the 
generation of them that seek him. 

3. The third thing that may be called seeking of God is our observ 
ance of him in the use of his ordinances. It is one thing to serve God, 
another thing to seek God ; one thing to make God the object, another 
thing the end of our worship. To seek God only in our necessity, and 
not to seek God in his ordinances, argueth a base spirit. Christians,. 
our losing God in Adam, that makes us seek him in a way of recon 
ciliation. Our want of God in straits, and in the course of our affairs, 
maketh us seek him by way of supply. But now our duty to God, and 
love to him, should make us seek him in his ordinances by way of 
communion ; and in this sense seeking God is often spoken of in scrip 
ture : Ps. xxii. 26, * They shall praise the Lord that seek him ;' that 
is, that wait upon him, and maintain communion with him in the 
means of grace. 

Well, then, let us be more in seeking of God. If we would find him 
in heaven, we must seek him on earth : Heb. xi. 6, ' He is a rewarder 
of them that diligently seek him/ They that seek his favour, that 
often resort to him, carry on a constant communion with him ; those 
that are waiting for his power and presence in his ordinances, these 
are the men God will own. We are not fit to receive so great a bless 
ing as God's favour if we will not look after it with diligence. 

Secondly, Observe, those that seek God aright, must seek him with 
their whole heart. 

But how is that ? Besides what hath already been spoken of it in 
the second use, it npteth three things 

1: Sincerity of aims. 

2. Integrity of parts. 

3. Uniformity of endeavours. 

1. Sincerity of aims. Many pretend to seek God, but indeed they 
do but seek themselves. As those that followed Christ for the loaves, 
that take up religion upon base and carnal respects: John vi. 26, 
' Verily I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, 
but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled/ There was much 
outward diligence, but a false heart lurking under it ; their belly drove 
them to him. Of all by-ends this is the worst and basest : Vix diligitur 
Jesus propter Jesum. Jesus Christ is scarce loved for Jesus' sake. 
Yet, further, those that prayed to God for corn, wine, and oil, and did 
not seek his favour and grace in the first place, see what the Lord 

VER. 10.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 93 

saith of them : Hosea vii. 14, ' They have not cried unto me with their 
heart, when they howled upon their beds.' They did seek God, but 
yet it is counted howling. They only minded the supply of outward 
wants ; and made prayer merely to be an act of carnal self-love. And 
then it is but howling, such a noise as a dog or a beast would make 
when he wants his food. Christians, no doubt they were instant, there 
was a world of earnestness, they were affected when the stroke was 
upon them, and seriously desired to get rid of it, but ' they have not 
cried to me with their whole heart.' It was but such a sense of pain 
and want as the beasts have. If there be anything sought from God 
more than God, or not for God, we do not seek him with the whole 
heart, but only for other uses. 

2. It notes integrity of parts. We read in scripture of loving God, 
not only with the heart, but with the ' whole heart ; ' and of believing, 
not only with the heart, Bom. x. 10, but of believing with the ' whole 
heart,' Acts viii. 37 ; because seeking of God is but a metaphorical 
term, by which faith is expressed ; therefore let us see what it is to 
believe with the whole heart. The doctrine of the gospel is not only 
true, to work upon the understanding, but it is good, so as to move and 
draw the will : 1 Tim. i. 15, * This is a faithful saying, and worthy of 
all acceptation/ &c. Not only 'a faithful saying' that is, a true 
doctrine ' that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners,' but 
it is ' worthy of all acceptation/ It is an excellent doctrine to ravish 
the will. Now, observe what a great deal of difference there is between 
men in believing. Some that hear the gospel, and have only a literal 
knowledge of it, so as to be able to talk of it, so as to understand the 
words and syllables, to know what it means ; they may have some 
clearness of understanding this way, but there is not a sound assent. 
There are others affected so with the gospel, as by the common in 
fluence of the Spirit they may assent to the truths delivered concerning 
God and Christ, and salvation by him, yet do not give it entertainment 
in their hearts. These may be said to seek God, but not with the 
whole heart. A speculative, naked, and cold assent they may have, 
but that is not enough. It is not enough to see food that is whole 
some, but you must eat it. Nor is it enough to understand the gospel, 
and believe that it is true, but we must embrace it; it must be 
accepted, else we do not believe with the whole heart. The word is 
propounded to man as true. Now, the truth made known may cause 
a speculative assent. This may draw profession after it ; and this we 
call historical faith, because we are no more affected with the gospel 
than with an ordinary history which we read and believe. The word 
is propounded again as good, to move and excite the will. Now, there 
is a twofold good the good of happiness, and the good of holiness. 
The good of happiness, that which is profitable and sweet. Then there 
is the good of holiness. Now, there are many that look upon the 
gospel as good and profitable, because it offereth pardon and eternal 
life ; such comfort to the conscience, and such good to our whole 
souls. We may be affected with it as a good doctrine. Naturally, 
man hath not only a sense of religion, but he hath a hunger after 
immortality and everlasting blessedness. Therefore, since the gospel 
doth so clearly promote happiness, it may be greedily catched hold of 


by those whose hearts are affected, while they look upon it under these- 
notions ; and they may be so far affected that they may for a while 
not only profess it out of danger, but when some danger doth arise 
they may defend their opinions with some care. Yet this is not with 
all the heart. Why ? As soon as any great danger doth arise, out 
of which there is no escape, as gibbets, fires, racks, ignominy, and 
utter loss as soon as persecution arose, saith Christ, all this ardour 
and heat of spirit which they did formerly seem to have, comes to- 
nothing. What is the reason it vanisheth ? Because they receive the 
gospel rather upon those notions of interest and profit, than of duty and 
holiness ; and the impression of the profitableness of the gospel, as a 
doctrine of happiness, was not so deeply rooted in them, not so durable, 
that the hope of the future good would be prevalent over the fear of pre 
sent evil and danger. There may be some desires of heaven in a carnal 
breast, but they are easily blotted out by worldly temptations ; but the 
true desires of holiness are lasting, and will prevail over our lusts. 

3. Believing with all the heart implies uniformity of endeavours. 
Oftentimes the soul may be strongly moved and affected for the present, 
and carried out to the gospel under the notion of holiness ; but it is 
but the lighter part of the soul that is so moved, not the whole heart, 
therefore it is not durable. The people meant as they spake when 
they were willing to come under the obedience of the word. God 
gives them that testimony : ' The people have well said ; but oh ! that 
there were such a heart in them/ Deut. v. 28, 29. They may receive 
it, and may seem affected with it, and have a sense of reformation ; 
but, saith the evangelist, Luke viii. 14, ' It brings no fruit to perfection/ 
It was not so deeply rooted as to prevail strongly over their carnal 
distempers. And, therefore, here comes in another sort of men, that 
are affected with the word as a holy doctrine. They may have a liking 
to the holiness of it, and have some consolation thereupon ; they have 
their beginnings, and some good offers towards sanctification ; but it 
brings nothing to perfection. They may have such a hope of heaven 
as that they may be said to * taste the powers of the world to come,' 
Heb. vi. 5, 6 ; yet because it is not deeply rooted in the heart, and 
only begets some raw motions, and moves the lighter part of the soul, 
and doth not show itself in a uniform course of obedience, therefore 
it is not with all the heart. It may be it was but for a time, or cast 
in upon some eminent trouble. Therefore that is only believing, and 
seeking God with all the heart, when the doctrine of life is so acknow 
ledged to be true, good, and holy, as to be closed with upon that 
account ; not only because of its suitableness to our eternal good and 
interest, but as it is a rule of our duty. And then it enters upon the 
heart when every faculty of it is subdued to God. It is not some 
colouring of the outside, but a deep dye when it soaks into the whole 
soul, and subdues the affections to God, which is manifested by a 
uniform course of obedience. Now David urgeth this to God as an 
argument, ' I have sought thee with my whole heart/ Hence observe 

Doct. We may mention the good which is wrought in us, and urge 
it to God in prayer. 

It^is a useful case. How may we mention our own gracious quali 
fications, and the good that is wrought in us ? 

VER. 10.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 95 

Negatively 1. Not by way of boasting. There is no such thing 
here ; no presumptuous boasting of his own perfections ; for it was 
accompanied with a deep sense of his weakness, wandering, and 
straggling condition ; he acknowledgeth his infirmities. There is no 
such thing allowed as boasting. The apostle's argument is convincing, 
* Why boastest thou ? What have we that we have not received ? ' 
If we can boast of anything, it is that we are most in debt, that we 
have received more : 1 Cor. i. 31, we must ' glory in the Lord/ 

2. Not pleading of merit, as if he had deserved anything of God. 
So the Pharisee speaks of his good works, Luke xviii. 11. It is not 
to such a purpose as if we could challenge a reward as a due debt 
upon any good that we have done. 

But positively How thenmay we make mention of our qualifications? 

1. We may mention what is wrought in us for God's glory. Surely, 
however we humble ourselves, we must not belie his bounty. To be 
always complaining of spiritual evils, it doth not argue a good temper 
of soul : Ps. cxvi. 7, ' Keturn to thy rest, my soul, for the Lord 
hath dealt bountifully with thee.' We may own the Lord's bounty, 
and take notice what good we have done to the glory of his grace : 
' Not I, but the grace of God which was with me,' 1 Cor. xv. 10. 

2. We may mention it to our own comfort. Thus Paul, 2 Cor. i. 
12. Jesus Christ is our rejoicing, but in one sense this is also our 
rejoicing, the testimony of our conscience.' Wherefore is grace given? 
us, but for the furtherance of our comfort? To bear false witness 
against ourselves is naught. Though the duties of the first table neither 
begin nor end in us, yet the whole law of charity begins at home. 

3. For our own vindication. Thus Hezekiah: Isa. xxxviii. 3 f 
' Kemember, Lord, how I have walked before thee with a perfect 
heart/ This was his plea f but I suppose it was not before God as a 
judge, but before God as a witness. He called God to witness that 
he had walked before him with a perfect heart. He was slandered 
by Kabshakeh. They thought, when he broke down the altars of Baal 
and cut down their groves, that he had cut down the altars of the 
God of Israel ; therefore, saith Babshakeh, speaking to the humour and 
discontent of the people and we must look upon it as a politic 
insinuation 'Is not this he whose high places and whose altars 
Hezekiah hath taken away and demolished ? ' 2 Kings xviii. 22. Now, 
saith Hezekiah, ' I have walked before thee with an upright heart/ 
Many a good magistrate is often put upon such pleas for God's honour, 
in things distasteful to the popularity. 

4. What God hath wrought in us may be urged as an argument in 
prayer to obtain further grace many ways. Partly because God love* 
to crown his own mercies, and make one to be a step to another. We 
are endeared to God by his own mercies ; he is very tender and choice 
of them. In whom he hath begun a good work he will perfect it : 
Zech. iii. 2, ' Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire ? ' What I 
shall all my former mercies be in vain ? It is God's own argument, 
and he takes it well when his people urgeth it. In many cases, Deus 
donando debet by giving one mercy, he makes himself a debtor to give 
another. Plutarch gives us a story of the Ehodians, when they came 
to sue to the Romans for help, that one urged what good turns they 


had done to the Komans ; but the people urged what good turns the 
Eomans did to them, and they obtained relief. Such a plea is accept 
able and honourable to God, when we urge what God hath done for 
us. And partly because sincerity, by the consent of all, hath the full 
room of an evidence and gospel-plea in the court of justification. 
When the business is how a sinner shall be accepted with God, for a 
law-plea we can only plead the merits of Christ and God's mercy ; 
there all we have and can do is but dung and dross, Phil. iii. 8, 9, as to 
an acquittance from sin. But as to our acquittance from hypocrisy, 
as to the plea of a gospel-evidence, we may produce our sincerity and 
the fruits of our obedience, to show our title is good as the matter is 
ordered by the Lord's grace, that we have the gospel-title. To all the 
other our title is by the righteousness of Christ, but the evidence of 
our title is sincere walking. 

Secondly, Let us come to David's request, ' Let me not wander from 
thy commandments.' It may be translated, ' Make me not to err ; ' 
that is, ' by the suspending of thy grace ; ' for that will necessarily 
follow. The Septuagint reads, ' Do not repel from thy command 
ments.' God seems to repel and cast off those that he doth not assist 
with his grace. Here David saith, ' I have sought thee.' Observe the 
mischief that a heart which truly seeketh God desireth to fly from 
sin, or wandering from the path of obedience. There is a com 
munion with God, but in the way of his commandments ; therefore 
they do not desire establishment of their interest and happiness only, 
but of God's glory, that they might not wander. Hence observe 

Doct. 1. The more experience men have of the ways of God, the 
more sensible will they be of their readiness to wander. 

David, a man of so much experience, that sought God with his 
whole heart, ' Lord, let me not wander/ What is the reason ? 

1. Because they have a larger sense of duty. 

2. A more tender sense of dangers and difficulties that do attend 

First, They have a larger sense of duty to God. At first, while we are 
carnal, we take up duty by the lump, and by the visible bulk of it ; we 
look only to epyov vo^ov, 'the work of the law,' Kom. ii. 15, and to avoid 
gross sins, or perform outward acts of worship. Oh ! if I do sin, I am 
no adulterer, no extortioner, Luke xviii. 11. We think then it is well. 
But when we begin to have grace wrought in our heart, then we begin 
to serve God in the spirit, Phil. iii. 3 : 'And my God, whom I serve with 
my spirit/ Kom. i. 9, then we begin to look after the regulation of 
the inner man, and subduing of the soul to God ; and we cannot be 
contented with the visible bulk of obedience, and with some general 
conformity. Ay ! but at first there is only a general purpose to serve 
God in the spirit ; but afterward, when they begin to look into the 
breadth of the commandment, still they are sensible of their com 
ing short, and how apt they are to wander in this and that point ; 
still their sense of duty is increased, because their light, their love to 
God, and their power is increased, and because they draw near to their 
everlasting hopes. 

1. Because their light is increased. By communion with God they 
see more of his holiness. The more a man is exercised in obedience, 

VEB. 10.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 97 

the clearer is his light and understanding, both to God and the will of 
God : Mat. v. 8, ' Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.' 
All sight of God, it is, as Nazianzen speaks, according to the propor 
tion of our purity; and therefore the more communion we have with 
God, the more sight into the nature of God, and the will of God, and 
the more they are held under the awe of God. In moral disciplines, 
the further we wade in them, the more we see of our defects. Those 
that went to Athens, first they counted themselves o-o$ot, wise men ; 
afterward only <tX6<ro<ot, lovers of wisdom ; then they were only 
men that could talk a little ; afterward they found themselves nothing. 
So a Christian in communion with God, the longer he converseth with 
God, the more he doth see of his perfection and holiness : ' Surely I 
am more brutish than any man,' was the expression of wise Agur, Prov. 
xxx. 2. This holy man of God, saith Chrysostom, speaks it not only 
humbly, but truly, as he thinks. Sure they did not compliment with 
God. These holy men, in the serious actings of their souls, they 
tspeak as they think. Why ? Because they have a high sense of 
Cod's holiness, therefore a deeper sense of their own vileness. They 
think there are hardly any so bad as themselves. Now they are con 
vinced that the holy God will not be put off with any slight matter ; 
and they are become sensible of that precept, Mat. v. 48, * Be perfect, 
as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.' 

2. Their love to God is increased by acquaintance with him, and 
therefore their hearts are more tender and sensible of the least deflec 
tion. The more a man loves God, the more he will do for God: 1 John 
v. 3, ' This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments/ That 
is a clear rule ; the more we love God, the more chary we will be of his 
commandments ; and therefore they cannot sin upon such easy terms as 
before, nor go to heaven upon such easy terms as they thought before. 

3. Their power is increased. He that is grown to a man's estate 
minds other work than what he did when a child ; and as they have 
more strength, they look after more work. At first it was only to 
prevent excesses and breaking out of sin, but afterwards to subdue 
every thought to the obedience of Christ. 

4. They are nearer to heaven, and therefore they look after greater 
suitableness to their everlasting estate. They think of that sinless and 
pure estate they shall enjoy there, therefore have a greater sense of duty 
upon them. Natural motion, saith the philosopher, is slower in the 
beginning, and swifter in the end and close ; so spiritual motion in 
the end and close ariseth to a greater vigour of holiness ; that which 
served before will not serve their turn now: Phil. iii. 14, they are 
* pressing forward toward the mark,' &c. ; they are hastening apace, 
and strain themselves when the prize is so near. 

Secondly, As they have a larger sense of duty, so they have a greater 
experience of the dangers and difficulties that do attend them. Aris 
totle observes of young men, that they are more given to hope than 
the old are. They are of great and strong hopes. He renders three 
reasons for it because they are eager of spirit, have little experience, and 
look but to a few things ; and therefore they are forward to get abroad 
in the world, and to entangle themselves in the early cares of a family, 
until their rashness be confuted by their own miscarriage. So it is 



true of young Christians ; they are all on a flame, ready to run into the 
mouth of danger upon the confidence of their present affections ; and 
till they have smarted often, this confidence is not abated. 

But men that have been exercised and experienced are more sen 
sible of the naughtiness and inconstancy of their own hearts : Ps. li. 6, 
' In the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom ; ' and there 
fore are more diffident of their own strength, and desire the Lord to 
keep them from wandering. We see, then, a cautelous fear is neces 
sary to the last ; it is useful to us not only to begin, but to work out 
our salvation : Phil. ii. 12, ' Work out your own salvation with fear and 
trembling ;' not only when we are novices, and so weak, and more 
liable to temptation, but to the close of our days : Prov. xxviii. 14, 
' Blessed is the man that feareth always.' That fear which causeth 
diffidence, and doubting, and despair, is a torment, not a blessedness ; 
yet the fear that is opposite to carnal security and presuming on our 
own strength, is a fruit of grace and spiritual experience. This is that 
which stirreth up care and diligence in our heavenly calling, and de 
pendence upon God, and constant addresses to him ; that keepeth us 
humble and waiting for the supplies of his grace. 

Doct. 2. It is God alone that can keep us from wandering. 

Eeas. There is in man's heart a mighty proneness thereto : Jer. 
xiv. 10, you have hearts that ' love to wander/ Man is a restless 
creature, that loveth shifts and changes. For weakness they are com 
pared to children, Hosea xi. 3, and for wandering compared to sheep, 
Isa. liii. 6. There is no creature so apt to go astray as sheep, and so 
unable to return. This is the disposition of men by nature. And 
mark, much of the old nature remains still with the saints. Have 
they not this wandering property to the last ? David acknowledgeth 
it, though there were some good in him : Ps. cxix. 176, 'I have gone 
astray like a lost sheep.' Consider the saints; though they have sin 
cerity, yet not perfection ; and sometimes they wander through in 
advertency ; they are overtaken, Gal. vi. 1, as Noah was they do not 
run of their own accord. And sometimes we err through the dark 
ness that is in us. Though a child of God be ' light in the Lord,' yet 
he hath a great deal of darkness still. It may be he is wise in gene 
rals, but ignorant in particulars, as the heathen ; in general they had 
good notions of an infinite and eternal power, but they were ' vain in 
their imaginations,' Eom. i. 21, in their practical inferences and dis 
courses, when they came to rest upon this God. So a child of God 
may have a general sense of his duty, but as to particulars he is apt 
to miscarry ; the mind may be blinded by lust and prejudice. 

Sometimes they err 'through frowardness of their own lust : there is 'a 
law in their members which wars against the law of their minds,' Eom. 
vii. There are boisterous lusts, and a man hath much ado to keep his 
path : Ps. Ixxiii., ' My foot had well-nigh slipped.' Therefore we had 
need God should keep us continually. And the Lord hath undertaken 
to guide us : Isa. Iviii. 11, ' The Lord shall guide thee continually; ' and 
Ps. xlviii. 14, He will be our guide even unto death ;' and Ps. Ixxiii. 24, 
' Thou shalt guide me by thy counsel, and afterward receive me to thy 
glory.' We need this constant guidance and direction from God, that 
he may still lead us, and keep us from wandering and turning aside. 

VER. 11.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 99 

Use. You see, then, what need we have of a guide and shepherd, and 
of constant dependence upon God. Of all titles, this is the title given 
to the saints ; they are a ' flock, and the sheep of God's pasture ; ' and 
Christ is called ' the shepherd of souls/ 1 Peter ii. 25. There is no 
creature of such a dependence as sheep. Dogs and swine can roam, 
abroad all the day, and find their way home again at night, but sheep 
must have a guide to keep them in the fold, and to reduce them when 
gone astray, Luke xv. The good shepherd brought him home upon 
his shoulders. Lord, saith Austin, I can go astray of myself, but I 
cannot come back of myself. We need often to put up this request, 
' Oh, let me not wander from thy commandments.' 


Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against 
thee. VER. 11. 

IN this verse you have David's -practice, and the aim and end of it. 

1. His practice, / have hid thy word in my heart. 

2. The aim and end of it, that I might not sin against thee. 
In the first, his practice, observe these circumstances 

1. The object or matter, the word. 

2. The act of duty, I have hid. 

3. The subject, the heart. 

I shall open these circumstances. 

1. The object, the word. The revelation of God's mind to his people 
is called his law, his testimonies, his ways, his precepts, his statutes, 
his commandments, his judgments, and now his word ; whereby is 
meant God's expounding his mind as if he himself did speak to us. 
The expression is general, and compriseth promises, threatenings, doc 
trines, counsels, precepts. All these must be hid in the heart. 

2. The act of duty, I have hid. A thing may be hidden two ways, 
either to conceal it, or else to cherish and keep it. 

[1.] To conceal it ; hid so as the unprofitable servant did hide his 
talent in a napkin, Mat. xxv. So David, typifying Christ, saith, * I 
have not hid thy righteousness within my heart ; I have declared thy 
faithfulness and thy salvation ; I have not concealed thy loving-kind 
ness and truth from the great congregation/ 

[2.] To be kept as things of price, as jewels and treasures are hid 
den in chests and secret places, that they may not be embezzled or pur 
loined. And herein there may be an allusion to the law, which was 
kept in a chest or ark, Exod. xxv. 21. Thus the word is hidden, not 
in order to concealment, but safety. As to the conceit of hiding our 
knowledge, that we may not lose it by vainglory, which Chrysostom 
and Theodoret mention on the place, it is a conceit so foreign, that it 
need not to be mentioned. What we value most preciously we save 
most carefully. 

3. The subject or place where the word is hidden, in the heart. Not 
the brain, or mind and memory only, but the heart, the seat of affec- 


tions. To hide the word in our hearts is to understand and remember 
it, and to be affected to it and with it. Christ saith, John xiv. 21, 
* He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that 
loveth me/ First we must have them, and then keep them. First 
we know them, then assent to them, and then approve them, because 
of the authority of the lawgiver, and the excellency of the thing com 
manded; and then respect them as a treasure that we are chary of; 
and having them still in our eye, do thereby regulate our practice and 
conversation. In short, by holding it in our hearts is meant not only 
a knowledge of the word, but an assent to it ; not only an assent to it, 
but a serious and sound digestion of it by meditation; not only a 
digestion, but a constant respect to it, that we may not transgress it as 
it is a rule, nor lose it as it is a treasure, but may have it ready and 
forthcoming upon all occasions. 

The points are these : 

Doct. I. One duty and necessary practice of God's children is to 
hide the word in their hearts. 

Doct. 2. That in hiding the word in our hearts, there must be a 
right end ; our knowledge of it and delight in it must be directed to 

1. That one duty and necessary practice of God's children is to hide 
the word in their hearts. See it confirmed by a scripture or two : 
Josh. i. 8, ' This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, 
but thou shalt meditate therein day and night ;' Job xxii. 22, ' Keceive, 
I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thy heart/ 
By the law is -meant the whole word of God. * Lay up his words/ as 
we would do choice things, that they may not be lost or embezzled ; 
and lay them up as treasure to be used upon all occasions. ' In the 
heart ; ' let them not swim in the brain or memory only, but let the 
heart be affected with it : Col. iii. 16, ' Let the word of God dwell in 
you richly ; ' be so diligent in the study of the scripture, that it may 
become familiar with us, by frequent hearing, reading, meditating, 
conferring about it. As a stranger, let it not stand at the door, but 
receive it into an inner room ; be as familiar as those that dwell with 
you. God complaineth of his people : Hosea viii. 12, ' I have written to 
them the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange 
thing/ To be strangers to the word of God, and little conversant in 
it, is a great evil. What is it to hide the word in our hearts ? (1.) 
To understand it, to get a competent knowledge of it ; we take in 
things into the soul by the understanding : Prov. ii. 10, ' When wis 
dom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy 
soul/ There is first an entrance by knowledge. (2.) When it is assented 
unto by faith. The word is settled in the heart by faith, otherwise it 
soon vanisheth : Heb. iv. 2, ' The word preached did not profit them, 
not being mixed with faith in them that heard it/ (3.) When it is 
kindly entertained : John viii. 37, Christ complains, ' Ye seek to kill 
me, because my word hath no place in you/ ov x^pa, ev vfuv. Men 
are so possessed with lust and prejudice, that there is no room for 
Christ's word. Though it break in upon the heart with evidence and 
power, yet it is not entertained there, but cast out again as an unwel 
come guest. (4.) When it is deeply rooted. Many men have flashes 

VER. 11.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 101 

for a time ; their affections may be much aloft, and they may have 
great fits and elevations of joy and delight, but no sound grace : John 
v. 35, ' Ye rejoiced in his light for a season/ But now the word must 
be settled into a standing affection, if we would have comfort and pro 
fit by it. We read of ' the ingrafted word/ James i. 21. There is a 
word bearing fruit, and a word ingrafted. Till there be the root of 
the matter in us, in vain do we expect fruit. 

The reasons why this is one duty and practice of the saints, to hide 
the word in their hearts, are two : 

JReas. I. First, that we may have it ready for our use. We lay up 
principles, that we may lay them out upon all occasions. Man hath 
an ingestive and an egestive faculty ; when it is hid in the heart, it will 
be ready to break out in the tongue and practice, and be forthcoming 
to direct us in every duty and exigency. When persons run to the 
market for every pennyworth, it doth not become good housekeepers. 
To be to seek of comforts when we should use them, or to run to a 
book, is not so comfortable as to hide it in the heart. As Christ saith, 
4 A good scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven, 
bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old,' Mat. xiii. 52. He 
hath not only this year's growth, but the last year's gathering (for so 
is the allusion made) ; he hath not only from hand to mouth, but a 
good stock by him. So should a Christian have not only knowledge 
from hand to mouth, but a good stock and treasure in his heart, which 
is a very great advantage in these seven things. 

1. It will prevent vain thoughts. What is the reason evil is so 
ready and present with us ? Because our stock of knowledge is so small. 
A man that hath a pocket fuller of brass farthings than pieces of silver, 
will more readily draw out farthings than shillings ; his stock is greater. 
So vain thoughts will be more ready with us, unless the word dwell 
richly in our hearts : Mat. xii. 35, * A good man out of the good trea 
sure of his heart bringeth forth good things ; and an evil man out of 
the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.' The workings of our 
spirits are as our treasure and stock. The mind works upon what it 
finds in itself, as a mill grinds whatsoever is put into it, chaff or corn. 
Therefore, if we would prevent wicked thoughts, and musings of vanity 
all the day long, we must hide the word in our heart. 

2. When you are alone and without outward helps, your hearts 
will furnish you with matter of counsel, or comfort, or reproof : Ps. 
xvi. 7, ' My reins instruct me in the night season/ When we are alone, 
and there is a veil of darkness drawn upon the world, and we have not 
the benefit of a bible, a minister, or Christian friends, our reins will 
instruct us ; we may draw out of our heart that which will be for our 
comfort and refreshing. A Christian is to be a walking bible, to have 
a good stock and treasure in himself. 

3. It will supply us in prayer. Barrenness and leanness of soul is 
a very great defect, which God's children often complain of. One great 
reason is, because the word of God doth not dwell plenteously in 
them, so that in every prayer we are to seek. If the heart were often 
exercised in the word, the promises would hold up our hearts in 
prayer, enlarge our affections, and we should be better able to pour 
out our spirits before him : Ps. xlv. 1, ' My heart is inditing a good 


matter.' What then ? ' My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.' 
When the heart is full, the tongue will be loosed and speak freely. 
What is the reason we are so dumb and tongue-tied in prayer ? Be 
cause our heart is so barren. When the spring is dry, there will be 
little water in the stream : Eph. vi. 17, ' Take the sword of the 
Spirit, that is the word of God ; ' then presently, ' praying with all 
manner of supplication/ When we have a good store of the word of 
God it will burst out in prayer. 

4. It will be a great help to us in all businesses and affairs. Prov. vi. 
21, 22, speaking of the precepts of God, ' Bind them upon thy heart ; 
when thou goest, it shall lead thee ; when thou sleepest, it shall keep 
thee ; when thou awakest,it shall talk with thee/ Upon all occasions the 
word will be ready to cast in seasonable thoughts. When we awake, 
our most early thoughts in the morning will begin with God, to season 
the heart all the day ; and as we are about our business, the word will 
hold our hearts in the fear of God ; and when we sleep, it will guard 
thee from vain dreams and light imaginations. In a wicked man sin 
engrosseth all the thoughts ; it employs him all the day, plays in his 
fancy all the night ; it solicits him first in the morning, because he is 
a stranger to the word of God. But a man that is a bible to himself, 
the word will be ever upon him, urging him to duty, restraining him 
from sin, directing him in his ways, seasoning his work and employ 
ment. Therefore we should hide the word in our hearts. 

5. It is a great relief against temptations to have the word ready. 
The word is called ' The sword of the Spirit,' Eph. vi. 17. In 
spiritual conflicts there is none to that. Those that ride abroad in 
time of danger will not be without a sword. We are in danger, and 
had need handle the sword of the Spirit. The more ready the scrip 
ture is with us, the greater advantage in our conflicts and temptations. 
When the devil came to assault Christ, he had scripture ready for 
him, whereby he overcame the tempter. The door is barred upon 
Satan, and he cannot find such easy entrance, when the word is hid in 
our hearts, and made use of pertinently : 1 John ii. 14, ' I write to you, 
young men, because ye are strong.' Where lies their strength ? ' And 
the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked 
one.' Oh, it is a great advantage when we have the word not only 
~by us, but in us, ingrafted in the heart ! When it is present with us, 
we are more able to resist the assaults of Satan. Either a man for 
gets the word or hath lost his affection to it, before he can be drawn 
to sin. The word of God, when it hath gotten into the heart, it will 
furnish us with seasonable thoughts. 

6. It is a great relief in troubles and afflictions. Our faintings 
come from ignorance, or our forgetfulness : Heb. xii. 5, ' Ye have for 
gotten the consolation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My 
son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou 
art rebuked of him.' If we had a herb growing in our gardens that 
would ease our smart, what are we the better if we know it not ? 
There is no malady but what hath its remedy in the word. To have 
a comfort ready is a great relief. 

7. It makes our conference and conversation with others more 
gracious : Mat. xii. 34, * Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth 

YER. 11.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 103 

speaketh/ When we have a great deal of hidden treasure in the soul 
it will get out at the tongue ; for there is a quick intercourse between 
the heart and the tongue. The tap runs according to the liquor where 
with the vessel is filled. Come to men of an unsavoury spirit, pierce 
them, broach them, give them occasion again and again for discourse, 
and you get nothing but frothy communication from them and vain 
talk. But now a man that hath stored his heart with the word is 
ever and anon interposing for God. Like a bottle filled with wine, he 
must have vent. As the spouse's lips are said to 'drop as honey 
combs/ they are ever putting forth savoury expressions in their con 
verse with others : Col. iii. 1 6, ' Let the word of God dwell in you 
richly, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns 
and spiritual songs.' It will burst out presently if the word of God 
dwell in your hearts. 

Before I go to the second reason, let me answer an objection : But 
is not this to take from the Spirit, and to give it to the word ? and 
that to the word, not as written in God's book, but as it is in our 
hearts ? Will not this be to ascribe all to created grace ? I answer 

1. Questionless it is the office of the Spirit to bring things to our re 
membrance, and the great help of the Spirit of God is by suggesting such 
passages as may be of most seasonable relief to the soul in temptations, 
in prayer, and in business, John xiv. 16. But what is given to the 
scriptures and grace is not to the wrong of the Spirit, for the scripture is 
of his inditing, and grace is of his working; yea, we still reserve the chief 
honour to the Holy Ghost, for he not only worketh grace, but worketh 
by grace. He not only indites the scripture, but works by it ; it is he 
that quickeneth prayer ; and therefore it is ill trusting to our own 
understanding and memory, for it is the Spirit that is the great re 
membrancer, and impresseth upon the mind savoury and seasonable 

2. I grant further, the children of God are subject to much forget- 
fulness of the truth that is impressed upon their hearts. Partly 
through the present cloud and mist which the temptation raiseth. The 
Psalmist had truths enough to support him, Ps. Ixxiii. 17 ; yet he 
saith, * Until I went into the sanctuary of God, I was foolish and 
ignorant .; I was as a beast before thee/ There is so much dulness 
upon the children of God that they cannot remember seasonable 
thoughts ; as Hagar had a fountain by her, yet she did not see it till 
God opened her eyes, Gen. xxi. So under the temptation all are be 
nighted, and the light that is in the understanding is obscured. And 
partly through the little sense they have for the present of the need of 
the comforts which the word propoundeth ; few so wise as to lay up 
for a dear year. And partly through sloth and negligence, being taken 
up with other things. It is possible sometimes that we may be guided 
by the Spirit, and act right merely by the guidance of the Holy Ghost, 
without any interposing and concurrence of our own understandings ; 
as John xii. 13, compared with ver. 16, ' They took branches of palm- 
trees, and went forth to meet him ; and cried, Hosanna, blessed is the 
King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord/ * These things 
understood not his disciples at the first ; but when Jesus was glorified, 
then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that 
they had done these things unto him.' Mark, they were guided by the 


Spirit to do that they knew not for the present ; they had only a back- 
look, not a foresight ; they were ignorant of what they were doing 
until afterward ; thoughts came not in their mind but only in the 
review : John ii. 22, * When he was risen from the dead, his disciples 
remembered that he had said this unto them/ They did not take up 
the meaning of them, yet they were guided aright. They did not carp 
against Christ, as the Jews did. They were guided by the Spirit in a 
case they were wholly ignorant. 

3. The Holy Ghost makes use of a sanctified memory, bringing 
scriptures to our remembrance as we have need. It is made their act, 
because the Holy Ghost made use of their memories : * They remem 
bered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up,* 
John ii. 17. They that neglect to search and hide the word in their 
hearts, they have not such seasonable refreshment ; for God works 
more strongly with the strongest graces ; there where there is the 
greater receptivity, there is the greater influence; those that are 
ignorant cannot expect such help as those that have the word dwell 
richly in their hearts. 

The second reason is, therefore should we hide the word in our 
hearts, because God doth so in the work of conversion : Heb. viii. 10, 
' I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts/ 
The mind is compared to tables of stone, and the heart to the ark; and so 
this is required of us to ' write them upon the table of our heart,' Prov. 
vii. 3 ; and here, ' I have hidden thy word in my heart.' How doth 
this follow ? because God doth so in conversion, therefore it is our duty? 

I answer (1.) God requires what he works, to show the creature's 
duty, as well as the power of his own grace. God is to convert and 
turn ; yet do you turn, circumcise your heart, and I will circumcise ; 
mortify your members, &c. ; and yet, ' If ye through the Spirit do 
mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.' He gives and requires ; 
to engage the subserviency of our endeavours, and to make us sensible 
of our duty and obligation. (2.) This followeth because this work 
must be gone over again and again that it may be more explicit. We- 
must revive the work, and put a fresh copy of the law into our heart, 
to keep the old work a-foot 

Use 1. To persuade you to study the scripture, that you may get 
understanding, and hide the word in your hearts for gracious pur 
poses. This is the book of books ; let it not lie idle and unemployed. 
The world can as well be without the sun as the bible. Ps. xix., first 
he speaks of the sun, then of the law of God. This is to the Christian 
and gracious world as the sun is to the outward world. The use and 
profit of it should make us look after more acquaintance with it. 
Consider the great use of the word for informing the understanding 
and reforming the will. For informing the understanding : 2 Tim. iii. 
17, the word of God is * able to make the man of God perfect, and 
thoroughly furnished.' Who should have more knowledge than the- 
man of God, that is to stand in God's stead, and teach the people ? 
Then for reforming the will : ver. 9 of this psalm, ' Wherewith shall 
a young man cleanse his way ? By taking heed thereto according to 
thy word.' A young man that is so heedless and headstrong, and in 
the very ruff and heat of his lusts, yet there is enough in the word to 
cleanse and tame him, and subdue him to God. Oh ! therefore, let us 

VEB. 11.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 105 

get it into our hearts ; let it not only move the lighter part of the soul, 
but get rooting, that it may have its full power and force, that we 
may not only have a little knowledge to talk of it ; but we are to hide 
it deeply, that it may take root, and spring up again in our lives and 
conversations. To this end meditate often of it, and receive it in the 
love of it. 

1. Meditate often of it : Luke ii. 19, ' Mary kept all these sayings/ 
How did she keep them? She 'pondered them in her heart.' 
Musing makes the fire to burn, and deep and constant thoughts are 
operative ; not a glance or a slight view. The hen which straggleth 
from her nest when she sits a-brooding produceth nothing ; it is a 
constant incubation which hatcheth the young. So when we have 
only a few straggling thoughts, and do not sit a-brooding upon a 
truth ; when we have flashes only, like a little glance of a sunbeam 
upon a wall, it doth nothing ; but serious and incubative thoughts, 
through the Lord's blessing, will do the work. Urge the heart again 
and again ; as the apostle, when he had laid down the doctrine of 
justification and the privileges thereof: Kom. viii. 31, 'Now what 
shall we say to these things?' Is this a truth? then what will 
become of me if I disregard it ? Thus to return upon our heart when 
any light begins to shine in our minds from the scripture : is this 
the word of God, and doth it find no more entertainment in my heart ? 

2. Receive it in the love of it. The apostle makes that to be tha 
ground of apostasy : 2 Thes. ii. 10, ' Because they received not the- 
truth in the love of it/ &c. Oh ! let it soak into the affections. If it 
lie only in the tongue or in the mind, only to make it a matter of 
talk and speculation, it will be soon gone. The seed which lies upon 
the surface, the fowls of the air will pick it up. Therefore hide it 
deeply ; let it get from the ear into the mind, from the mind into the 
heart; let it soak further and further. First men have a naked 
apprehension of truth, then it gets into the conscience, and then it lies- 
in the heart, then it is laid up ; but when we suffer it only to be made 
matter of speculation, it is soon lost. Know this, a man may receive 
a thing in the evidence and light of it, when he doth not receive it in 
the love of it. When it rests in naked speculation, then he receives 
a thing in the evidence and light of it ; but when it hath a prevailing 
sovereignty in the heart, then we receive it in the love of it. When 
it is dearer than our dearest lust, then it will stick by us ; when we 
are willing to sell all for the pearl of price, Mat. xiii. 46. We are 
often put to it what we will part with our lusts or the truth. When 
it breaks in upon the heart with evidence and power, you cannot keep 
both. Therefore let it soak into the affections, and hide the word in 
your hearts, that you may not sin against God. 

Use 2. To direct you what to do in reading, hearing, meditating. 

1. In reading. Hide the word in your hearts. The word may be 
reduced to doctrines, promises, threatenings. (1.) For doctrines, lay 
up knowledge, Prov. x. 14. It is a notable preservative against sin, 
and an antidote against the infection of the world, when we have a 
good stock of principles : Ps. xxxvii. 31, ' The law of God is in his 
heart ; none of his steps shall slide.' As long as truth is kept lively 
and active, and in view of conscience, we shall not slide, or not so 


often slide. We have many temptations to divert us from the truth 
and obedience; but here we are in safety, when the law of God 
is in our heart. How often was the word of God in Joseph's heart : 
' How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God ? ' Against 
God, that is of such a sovereign majesty! against God, of such 
infinite goodness and mighty power, so able to save and to destroy ! 
Every time you read the scriptures you should lay up something. 
The best way to destroy ill weeds is by planting the ground with 
right seed. Everywhere we shall meet with notable passages. There 
fore, stock yourselves with good principles. (2.) Then for promises, 
that part of the word. What have you hidden in your heart for 
comfort against temptations, desertions, afflictions ? What have you 
laid up against a dear year ? Job xxii. 22, ' Lay up his word in thine 
heart.' In a time of trial you will find one promise will give you 
more comfort and support than all the arguments that can be produced 
by reason : Ps. cxix. 50, ' This is my comfort in my affliction ; thy 
word hath quickened me/ He had a word to support him. There 
fore let us treasure up all the promises ; all will be little enough when 
we need comforts. That we may not have them to seek in a time of 
distress, it is good they should be familiar. As you read the word, 
collect for your comfort and profit ; happy is the man that hath his 
garner full of them. (3.) And so for threatenings, especially against 
the sins we are most inclinable to : ' Who among you will give ear, 
and hear for the time to come ? ' Isa. xlii. 23. You should think of 
what will come afterward. It is well with you for the present, but 
matters to come are put off, little cared for, Amos vi. 3. 

2. In hearing. Do not hear slightly, but hide the word in your 
heart, that it be not embezzled by thy own negligence, forgetfulness, 
running into carnal distractions ; that it be not purloined by Satan, 
that he may not snatch away the good seed out of thy soul. When 
the word is preached, there is more company present than is visible ; 
there are angels and devils in the assembly. Whenever the sons of 
God meet together, Satan is present with them. The devil is present 
to divert the mind by wandering thoughts, by raising prejudices, that 
we may cast out the word ; or by excuses, delays, evasions, putting it 
off to others when we begin to have some sensibleness of our sin and 
danger. The devil is loath to let us go too far, lest Christ get a sub 
ject into his kingdom. Oh ! therefore, labour to get something into 
thy heart by every sermon; some fresh notion or consideration is 
given out to set you a-work in the spiritual life. A conscientious 
waiting upon God will find something every time. It is sad to con- 
sider^how many have heard much, and laid up little or nothing at 
all ; it may be they have laid it up in their note-books, but not laid 
up the word in their hearts. 

3. For meditation. Meditate upon the word; do not study the 
word in a cursory manner, or content yourselves with a slight taste, or 
.a little volatile affection ; but ponder it seriously, that it may enter 
into your very heart. Hasty and perfunctory thoughts work nothing. 
Meat must be well chewed and digested, if you would have it turn 
into good blood and spirits. You must follow it close till it settle 
into some affection. 

VEB. 11.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 107 

So much for David's practice, I have hid thy word in my heart 
The second thing is the aim and end of it, that I may not sin 
against tliee. 

Doct. 2. In hiding the word in our hearts there must be a right 
end ; our knowledge of it and delight in it must be directed to prac 

1. We must not study the word merely out of curiosity, that we 
may know what is said there, as men will pry into civil art and dis 
cipline. So the Athenians flocked about Paul, Acts xvii. 18-21 ; so 
for novelty's sake men may have an affection and a delight in the 
word : John v. 35, 'Ye rejoiced in his light for a season.' There are 
certain adulterous affections we have to the word when it is new and 
fresh, but when it grows stale we loathe it. This affection to the 
word is soon spent. 

2. We must not hide the word in our heart merely that we may be 
able to teach others, that we may make a gainful trade of it. Alas ! 
a man may teach others and be himself a castaway. Look, as in coin 
ing of money, an iron stamp may impress the character and print 
upon a piece of gold and silver, so God may use the gifts and know 
ledge of some men to beget faith in others, and perish themselves : 
Mat. vii. 21, ' We have prophesied in thy name ;' yet ' Depart from me ; 
I know you not/ 

3. This must not be our end neither, not merely for delight. 
Largeness of knowledge brings a content with it, as it is an addition 
to our perfection. Truth is the object of our understanding, and may 
please an unsanctified mind. Not merely out of subserviency to some 
base and inferior ends, that we may get esteem in the world, or the 
repute of knowing persons, but as it is an elevation of the understand 
ing. Every delight in truth is not a delight in God. There is 
a natural oblectation we have in the contemplation of any sublime 
truth ; this is merely a delight in the work of our own faculties, when 
the affections are terminated in bare knowledge ; as it is a high and 
mysterious truth, as it is a delectation to the understanding. 

4. We are not merely to study the word for the comfortableness of 
it, and the suitableness to the conscience. As man is a reasonable 
creature, he will delight in knowledge ; and as he hath a conscience 
presageous of death and judgment to come, he may delight in the 
comfort of it. Many search out promises that do not affect precepts. 
The stony ground seemed to have a joy ; they may delight in the 
comfortable part of religion ; but this joy comes to nothing this glad 
some forward spring is no sure prognostication of a plentiful harvest. 
Then do we receive the word aright when we look to the holy part, 
and mortify our natural desires and affections. Many deal with the 
word as great men do with fleshly companions are willing to enter 
tain them at their tables to hear their discourse, because of the 
pleasantness of their mirth ; but to enter into bonds for them, and 
discharge them from debt, or better their fortunes, that they will not 
do. So many will give Christ and the word, and the comfortable 
part of it, entertainment ; but they are loath to take the duty of the 
gospel upon themselves. Therefore, it is not enough to study the 
word merely that we may cherish our own persons with the comfort- 


able part of it ; but we must also study the holy part of it, and that 
which doth require our duty. Let us labour to hide the word in our 
hearts, as David did : 1 1 have hid thy word in my heart, that I might 
not sin against thee/ 

Blessed art thou, Lord : teach me thy statutes. VER. 12. 

IN these words you have : 

1. A compellation, blessed art thou, Lord. 

2. A supplication, teach me thy statutes. 

First, The compellation carrieth the force of an argument : Because 
thou art blessed, Lord, therefore teach me. And therefore I shall 
open the sense of this title that is here given to God, so as I may still 
make good the argument. 

For the sense, God may be said to be blessed objectively or sub 

First, Objectively, as he is the object of our blessedness. It is our 
blessedness to enjoy God : Ps. cxliv. 15, ' Blessed is the people whose 
God is the Lord.' That is our blessedness, to have God for our portion. 
As soon as we are admitted into covenant with God, we have a right 
to him : ' I am thy God ;' and we have the full consummation of it 
when we enter into heaven ; there we have the highest enjoyment of 
God that we are capable of. We have many fruitless and unquiet 
cares to enjoy the creatures, which are neither blessed in themselves, 
nor can make us blessed ; but now God is our summum bonum, our 
chief good ; the enjoyment of him is the chiefest good. Still we are 
capable of a higher happiness until we enjoy God. In other things 
we can neither have satisfaction nor security : the creature cannot 
satisfy, nor yet secure us in the enjoyment of itself. In this sense the 
argument will hold good : 'Blessed art thou, Lord ;' that is, Thou 
art the object of my blessedness ; my blessedness lieth in the enjoy 
ment of thee ; therefore teach me thy statutes. If God be our chiefest 
good and our utmost end, it concerns us nearly to learn out the way 
how we may enjoy him : John xvii. 3, ' This is life eternal, to know 
thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent/ . It 
concerns believers to study that wherein their eternal happiness con- 
sisteth, and what is the way to get it : ' Thou art blessed, and there 
fore teach me thy statutes.' 

Secondly, Subjectively ; and so again God is blessed either in an 
active or in a passive sense. 

1. In an active sense. And here we must distinguish again ; for so 
God is blessed either with respect to himself or with respect to us. 

[1.] Blessed in himself, as he hath the fulness of perfection and 
contentment. Blessedness is often ascribed to God : 1 Tim. i. 11, 
' The glorious gospel of the blessed God/ I will open that place by 
and by : 1 Tim. vi. 15, ' Who is the blessed and only potentate, the 
King of kings, and Lord of lords/ Now, how is God blessed in him- 

VER. 12.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 109 

? God's blessedness is that attribute by which the Lord, from 
himself, and in his own being, is free from all misery and enjoy eth all 
good, and is sufficient to himself, and contented with himself, and doth 
neither need nor desire the creature for any good that can accrue to 
him by us. Or, more shortly, God's blessedness is the fruition of him 
self, and his delighting in himself. Mark, it lieth not in the enjoy 
ment of the creature, but in the enjoyment of himself. God useth us, 
but doth not enjoy us. As we enjoy a thing for itself, but we use it 
for another ; so uti and frui differ : we use the means, but enjoy the 
end. God useth the creature in subserviency to his own glory. So it 
is said : Prov. xvi. 4, ' God made all things for himself.' His happi 
ness lieth in knowing himself, in loving himself, in delighting in 

But how is this used as an argument, * Blessed art thou, Lord ; 
therefore teach me thy statutes' ? Either thus : God, that is blessed, 
hath enough for himself ; surely there is enough in him for us too : 
Gen. xvii. 1, ' I am God all-sufficient ; walk before me, and be thou 
perfect.' I say, if God finds satisfaction enough in himself, our souls 
surely will find satisfaction in him. That which will fill a pottle, or 
"greater measure, will fill a pint or a lesser measure ; that which will 
satisfy a prince, and be enough for him in that estate, will satisfy a 
beggar, and supply his wants. God hath an infinite fulness of know 
ledge, comfort, and holiness ; therefore surely enough to satisfy us, as 
empty as we are. Therefore we should desire to receive of this fulness 
in God's way. Or, again, thus : If God be blessed, we had need to 
inquire after his statutes, for these teach us the way how we may 
be blessed in God's blessedness, how we may be conformed to the 
nature of God, and live the life of God, and then surely we shall be 
happy enough. (1.) How we may be conformed to the nature of 
God : 2 Peter i. 4, ' That we may be partakers of the divine nature/ 
according to our measure, that ours may be such as his is. The 
promises, or the word, have an influence that way. If we see a man 
hath a rich trade, and secret ways of gain, every one would be 
acquainted with the mysteries and art of his getting, and desirous to 
know it. God is eternally blessed, therefore we should study to be 
like him. (2.) That we may live the life of God. Surely if we could 
learn to live such a life as God doth, we should be happy. However 
our prejudices darken it, yet the life of God cannot be a gloomy life. 
Now, ignorance of God's statutes is a great hindrance to the life of 
God : Eph. iv. 18, ' Being alienated or estranged from the life of God, 
through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of 
their heart/ Well, then, the consideration of this, that God is blessed, 
will certainly make us prize his statutes, prize his word, for by that we 
are conformed to the nature of God, and to the life of God ; we are 
engaged in the same design wherein God himself is engaged : God 
loves himself, and acts for himself, and pursueth his own glory. Now 
when the word of God breaks in upon the heart, we pursue the same 
design with God. Men are prejudiced against a course of holiness ; it 
seems to look upon them with a sour and austere face. Surely God 
loves a pleasant life ; whoever is miserable, he hath a full content 
ment. Doth he that made all things want true joy and contentment ? 


Who should have happiness if God hath not ? Now, when we learn, 
God's statutes, we come to be conformed to the nature of God ; we 
love what he loves, and hate what he hates, and then we begin to live 
the life of God. The happiness of God lieth in loving himself, enjoy 
ing himself, and acting for his own glory ; and this is the fruit of grace, 
to teach us to live as God lives, to do as God doth, to love him and 
enjoy him as our chief est good, and to glorify him as our utmost end. 
This is the first sense wherein God may be said to be actively blessed, 
as he hath infinite complacency in himself. 

[2.] God is actively blessed with respect to us as he is the fountain 
of all blessedness. He is not only blessedness itself, but willing to 
communicate and give it out to the creature, especially his saints. He 
fills all created things with his blessedness : Ps. cxlv. 16, ' Thou 
openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.' 
There is not a creature in the world but hath tasted of God's bounty, 
but especially the saints : Eph. i. 3, ' Blessed be the God and Father 
of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual bless 
ings in Christ.' These are vessels into which God is still pouring 
more, until they be completely filled up. Now, this communicative 
ness that is in God, without any irking of mind, is a certain argument 
or encouragement to move us to seek of God grace to keep his statutes. 
This is often urged in this case, his communicativeness to all his 
creatures : ver. 64, ' The earth, Lord, is full of thy mercy ; teach 
me thy statutes/ Thou art bountiful to all creatures ; and, Lord, 
show thy bounty to me. The same again : ver. 68, ' Thou art good, 
and dost good ; teach me thy statutes.' Every good, the more good 
it is, the more it is diffusive of itself. And it is a part of God's blessed 
ness that he is still of the giving hand : Acts xx. 35, * Kemember the 
words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than 
to receive.' It was a maxim which Christ commended to his disciples : 
' Eemember the words of the Lord Jesus ; ' that which he often incul 
cated, ' That it is more blessed to give than to receive.' The words 
formally indeed are not found in any evangelist ; only there we may 
see the whole drift of Christ's doctrine was to press men to give ; it is 
a more blessed thing. This is the happiness of God, that he gives to 
all, and receives of none ; that he is so ready to communicate of his 
own fulness upon such free terms : John i. 16, ' Of his fulness have all 
we received, and grace for grace ;' that is, grace for grace's sake. Thus 
we have seen how God is actively blessed. 

2. God is passively blessed as he is blessed by us, or as worthy of 
all praise from us, for his goodness, righteousness, and mercy, and the 
communications of his grace. There are two words by which our 
thanksgiving is expressed praise and blessing. You have both in 
Ps. cxlv. 10, ' All thy works shall praise thee, Lord ; and thy saints 
shall bless thee.' Praise relateth to God's excellency, and blessing to- 
his benefits. His works declare his excellency : but his saints, which 
are sensible of his benefits, they bless him ; they count him worthy of 
all honour and praise, and are ever ascribing to him, Eev. v. 13, 
' Blessing, honour, glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon th& 
throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever/ Why blessing ? As 
for other things, so it was for opening the book which was sealed with- 


seven seals, and revealing his mind to his people ; as you may see, ver. 
9. So David here, ' Blessed art thou, Lord : teach me thy statutes/ 
As if he had said, Lord, thou art, and thou shalt be blessed : I bless 
thee that thou hast taught me ; and I desire thou wouldst teach me 
still, that I may ever bless thee. Thus it may be taken in a passive 
sense, as he is the object of our blessedness. 1 

Well, then, all that I have said upon this compellation may be 
reduced to these six propositions : 

1. That God is over all, and above all, blessed enough in himself, 
and needeth nothing from us to add to his happiness and perfection. 

That he is blessed enough in himself : Kom. ix. 5, ' God over all, 
blessed for ever.' That he needs nothing from us to add to his happi 
ness and perfection: Ps. xvi. 2, 'My righteousness, my goodness, 
extendeth not to thee.' He is above our benefits and injuries. If 
there could result any one happiness to God from the creature, surely 
then he would have made the world sooner; what hindered him? 
for why should he keep himself out of his own happiness? And 
therefore he made the world, not that he might be happy, but that he 
might be liberal. Before ever there was hill or mountain, man or 
angel, God was happy enough in himself. The divine persons took 
infinite delight and complacency in each other ; as their rejoicing is 
expressed: Prov. viii. 30, 31, 'I was daily his delight, rejoicing 
always before him.' God had infinite complacency in Christ, and 
Christ in God, both in the Spirit, all in each, and each in all, before 
ever there was hill or mountain. The world is upheld, as stones are 
in an arch, by a mutual dependence, by a combination of interests. 
We need one another, but God doth not stand in need of us. * The 
head cannot say to the foot, I have no need of thee ; ' the greatest 
stand in need of the meanest, of their labours, their service; the 
meanest parts have their use in the body. But now, God standeth in 
no need of us, for he giveth all, and he receiveth nothing back again ; 
as the fountain hath no need of the stream, but the stream hath need 
of the fountain. The sun fills the lap of the earth with blessings, and 
the earth returns nothing but vapours, that obscure its beams rather 
than add anything to its brightness. God filleth every living thing, es 
pecially his saints, with blessing, and receiveth nothing from us again. 

2. Though God stand in no need of us, yet he is willing to communicate 
his blessedness, and to make us happy in the enjoyment of himself. 

There is a threefold consideration which doth advance the bounty of 
God that to us, that himself to us, and that so readily and freely. 

[1.] That to us, who can neiUher hurt him nor help him : Ps. viii. 
3, 4, ' Lord, what is man that thou art mindful of him ? and the son 
of man that thou visitest him ? ' What a poor sorry creature is man ! 
wilt thou set thine eyes upon such a one ? What would God lose if 
we were all damned ? or what would he gain if all were saved ? He 
would lose no more by us than a bounteous man doth by the death of 
a company of beggars and maimed persons, which live upon his 
expense and charge. Wherein can we be useful to God ? 

[2.] Herein lieth the bounty of God, to give us such a blessing as 
the enjoyment of himself. When he had no greater thing to swear 

1 Qu. ' blessing '? ED. 


by, saith the apostle, he sware by himself. When God hath no greater 
thing to give us, he gives us himself : ' I am thy God.' He scatters 
and sheds abroad some common influences upon all creatures ; but to 
us he gives not only that which is his, but gives us himself, that when 
our happiness is at the highest, we may immediately enjoy him. 

For the opening of this blessedness in giving us the fruition of him 
self, consider we enjoy God two ways mediately and immediately ; 
one proper to this world, the other to the next. 

(1.) Mediately. We enjoy God when he communicateth himself to 
us by secondary means, or the interposition of the creature between him 
and us. Thus in common mercies, when he feeds us by his meat and 
drink, and enlighteneth us with his sun. Here in the world we have 
blessings at second or third hand : ' I will hear the heavens, and they 
shall hear the earth/ &c., Hosea ii. 21, 22. Whatever one creature 
affordeth to another, it hath it first from God. The creature is but 
an empty hollow pipe through which the blessing runs, and it passeth 
from pipe to pipe. God poureth out his influences to the heavens, 
and the heavens pour out their influences upon the earth ; and the 
strength of the earth runneth up into corn, wine, and oil, and by corn, 
wine, and oil Israel hath his refreshments. So still from pipe to pipe 
is the blessing conveyed to the creature. So for special mercies ; we 
have them by degrees ; life, comfort, grace by the word and seals. 
But the Lord will not only supply us at second and third hand, but 

(2.) Immediately. When God communicates himself to us without 
any other thing between us and him; when we are immediately 
present with God, and have immediate influences from God, this is 
the happiness of heaven. In the heavenly state * God shall be all in 
all/ 1 Cor. xv. 28. He shall be both the dispenser and the dispensa 
tion. There we see him face to face, ' and in his face and presence 
there is fulness of joy/ Ps. xvi. 11. That is our happiness in the next 
world, where immediate influences and virtue doth pass out from him. 
In heaven there is no temple, Kev. xxi. 22, * But the Lamb is the 
temple of it' There is a service of God, and constant influences in 
that God supplieth all immediately from himself. 

[3.] This is upon free terms : John i. 16, ' Of his fulness have we all 
received, and grace for grace/ 

3. The word of God, especially the gospel part, doth only teach us 
the way how we may be blessed in the enjoyment of God. 

That is a notable place to this purpose : 1 Tim. i. 11, ' The glorious 
gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.' Mark 
there, first, he calls it ' the glorious %ospel.' When he speaks of the 
law in that place he saith, ' We know that the law is good/ compare 
it with ver. 8 ; but when he comes to speak of the gospel, he calls it 
'the glorious gospel.' The law is good, but the gospel glorious, 
because more of the glory of God is displayed and discovered to the 
creature. And ' the glorious gospel of the blessed God' Titles are 
always suited to the case in hand ; therefore it is called ' The glorious 
gospel of the blessed God/ because there God is discovered as ready to 
bless us ; there is the way how we may come to be blessed in God, 
how he may with respect to us be a fountain of blessedness ; there we 
have the highest discoveries of this mystery, the most moving argu- 

VER. 12.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 113 

merits to persuade us to look after it ; and with this gospel there is a 
grace, a virtue dispensed to enable us to walk in this way. So that if 
we would enjoy the blessed God, we must consult with his statutes, 
and especially the gospel. 

4. If we would profit by the word of God, we must go to God, and 
desire the light and strength of his grace. 

If we would enjoy the blessed God, according to the direction of his 
word, we must not only consult with the word, but with God. Nothing 
else can draw us off from the world, and persuade us to look after 
heavenly things ; nothing else will teach us the vanity of the creature, 
the reality of spiritual privileges. Until we see these things in a 
divine light, the heart hangs off from God ; and therefore saith David, 
Ps. xvi. 7, 'I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel.' He 
had chosen God for his portion, and then ' I will bless the Lord,' &c. 
We shall still run after lying vanities until God doth open your eyes 
to see the mysteries of the word, and to be affected with the way. 
Those that are drawn to God must first be taught of God : John vi. 44, 
' No man cometh to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw 
him ; ' for Christ adds presently, ' They shall be all taught of God/ 
Our hearts can never be drawn unto God until he take us into his own 

5. The more we are brought to attend upon the word, and the more 
influence the word hath upon us, the nearer the blessing. 

Christians, we are not far from the kingdom of God. There is 
some blessedness when we begin to look after the directions of the 
word, and to wait upon the teachings of God : Prov. viii. 34, ' Blessed 
is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at 
the posts of my doors.' Then you are in a hopeful way to true blessed 
ness when you begin to be careful to attend upon God's teaching, 
much more when you have the fruits of it, when you know him so as 
to love him, so as to have your hearts drawn off from sin and folly : 
Acts iii. 26, ' Him hath God sent to bless you, in turning away every one 
of you from his iniquities.' The great business of Jesus Christ is to 
make us blessed in the enjoyment of God. But how is it ? only by 
bare knowledge ? No, it is by turning every one from his iniquity. So 
the more this teaching of God prevails upon the heart, the more 
blessed we are : Ps. cxix. 1, 'Blessed are the undefiled in the way, 
who walk in the law of the Lord.' Otherwise, to have a golden head 
and feet of clay, that is monstrous, as in Nebuchadnezzar's image ; to 
have a naked knowledge of God, and not brought under the power of 
it. You read of the heathens, when they sacrificed to their gods, they 
were wont to hang a garland upon the heads of the beasts, and to 
crown them with roses, so they were led on to sacrifice. Many may 
have garlands upon their heads, ornaments of knowledge, yet are going 
on to destruction ; therefore that light and teaching which conveyeth 
blessedness is such as prevaileth upon the heart, and doth effectually 
turn us to God. 

6. It is not only an affront put upon God, but also a great wrong, to 
neglect the word of God, and the way he prescribes, and to seek 
blessedness in temporal things. 

Here you have the true way to blessedness set down in God's 
VOL. vi. H 


statutes ; but in outward things there wants fulness, sincerity, 

[1.] There wants fulness. That which makes us blessed, it must 
fill up the heart of man. As a vessel is never full until it have as 
much as it can hold, so we can never be said to have a full happiness 
and contentment until we have as much as we can hold. That which 
fills must be greater than the thing filled. Now man's heart is such 
a chaos of desires, that it can never be filled up but in God : Ps. xvi. 
11, ' In thy presence is fulness of joy ; at thy right hand are pleasures 
for evermore/ Therefore, of the joy and happiness we have in God, 
it is said, ' Enter into thy master's joy/ Mat. xxv. When we speak 
of a cup of water, that enters into the man, that is taken down into 
the man ; but if we speak of a river of water, or tub of water, that is 
greater than the man is capable of, or can receive, the man enters 
into it ; so this joy and happiness, which is truly and genuinely so, it 
must exceed our capacity, greater than we can receive, that we may 
enter into it ; it is the infinite God can only satisfy the heart of man. 
In temporal things there is no kind of fulness ; you have not one 
worldly comfort, but you desire more of it. Ahab was a king, yet 
still he wants something, Naboth's vineyard. A man is not satisfied 
with abundance, neither is his soul filled with increase of worldly 
things ; yet we may desire more, Eccles. v. ; and if we have one thing 
to the full, yet we shall need another. If a man be strong, he may need 
learning ; it may be though he hath some kind of learning and know 
ledge, yet he hath not wisdom. Naaman .was rich, wise, valiant, and 
honourable, but he was a leper. There is a but upon all worldly hap 
piness ; therefore there is no fulness in these things. 

[2.] There is no sincerity in them. All that is in the world is but 
a semblance and an appearance, that which tickles the senses ; it doth 
not go to the heart. You would have thought Belshazzar was merry 
at the heart when he was quaffing and carousing in the cups of the 
temple ; but how soon is the edge of his bravery taken off, Dan. v. 5, 6. 
Haman in the midst of his honours was troubled at the heart for want 
of Mordecai's knee. Those things which seem to affect us so much 
cannot allay one unquiet passion, certainly cannot still and pacify the 
least storm of the conscience ; and therefore, whatever face men put 
upon temporal enjoyments, if they cannot see God's special love m 
them, they want sincere joy. There is many a smart lash they feel 
when the world hears not the stroke : Prov. xiv. 13, * Even in laugh 
ter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness/ All 
the laughter and merriment which men seem to receive from the 
creature, it is but a little appearance, not such as will go to the con 
science, that will indeed and thoroughly rejoice and comfort a man, 
and give him solid joy. 

[3.] There wants eternity. An immortal soul must have an eternal 
good, ' pleasures for evermore/ Ps. xvi. 11. In this world we have but 
a poor changeable happiness : Luke xii. 20, it was said to the rich 
fool, ' This night thy soul shall be required of thee.' 

Thus much for the first branch, blessed art thou, Lord. 

Secondly, I come from the compellation to the supplication, teach me 
thy statutes. And here observe (1.) The person teaching ; he speaks 

VER. 12.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 115 

to God, ' Do thou, God, teach/ (2.) We may consider the person 
taught, ' Teach me;' I, that have hid the word in my heart. David, 
that was a prophet, is willing to be a disciple. Those that teach others 
have need that God should teach them. The prophet saith, ' Teach 
me, Lord/ David, a grown Christian, he desires more understanding 
of God's will. Certainly we should still ' follow on to know the Lord,' 
Hosea vi. 3. Heathens, that only knew natural and moral thing;;, 
yet they saw a need of growth ; and the more they knew, the more 
they discovered their ignorance ; and always as they grew older, they 
grew wiser. How much more sensible would they have been of their 
defects in the knowledge of spiritual things, if they had in a little 
measure been acquainted with the mysteries of godliness, that pass all 
understanding, and are so much from human sense, and above the 
capacities of our reason I Prov. xxx. 3, Agur said, ' I neither learned 
wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy. 7 There is very much 
yet to be learned of God, and of his ways. Many think they know all 
that can be taught them. David, a great prophet, a man after God's 
own heart, yet is earnest that God would teach him his statutes. (3.) 
The lesson or matter to be taught, * thy statutes ; ' so he calls the word, 
because the doctrines of it have the force of a law published ; they do 
unalterably bind, and that the soul and conscience ; and therefore the 
precepts, counsels, and doctrines of the word are all called statutes. 

The point is 

Doct. If we would know God's statutes so as to keep them, we must 
be taught of God. 

Here I shall inquire 

1. What it is, or how doth God teach us ? 

2. The necessity of this teaching. 

3. The benefit and utility of it. 
First, How doth God teach us ? 

Outwardly, by his ordinance, by the ministry of man. 
Inwardly, by the inspiration and work of the Holy Ghost. 

1. The outward teaching is God's teaching, because it is an ordi 
nance which is appointed by him. Now both these must ever go 
together, external and internal teaching : ' Despise not prophecy, 
quench not the Spirit/ If you would have any enlightening and 
quickening of the Spirit, you must not despise prophecy. We teach 
you here, and God blesseth. Jesus Christ, when he comes to teach 
his disciples, first he openeth the scripture, Luke xxiv. 37 ; and then, 
ver. 45, ' he opened their understandings/ Of Lydia it is said, ' God 
opened her heart in attending to the things spoken by Paul/ Acts xvi. 
14. She was attending, and then God openeth her heart. When the 
eunuch was reading, then God sends an interpreter. The outward 
means are necessary ; it is God's teaching in part ; but the inward 
grace especially. Both these must go together ; for it is said, John vi. 
45, 'Every man that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, 
cometh unto me/ There must be a hearing of the word, and so there 
is a teaching from God. But 

2. The inward teaching, which is the work of the Spirit, that needs 
most to be opened. What is that ? It consists in two things (1.) 
When God infuseth light into the understanding, so as we come to 


apprehend the things of God in a spiritual manner: Ps. xxxvi. 9, 'In 
thy light shall we see light.' There is no discerning spiritual things 
spiritually, but in God's light. There may be a literal instruction 
which one man may give to another, but ' in thy light only shall we 
see light ; ' such a lively affective knowledge as disposeth the heart 
for the enjoyment of God. There is a seeing, and a seeing in seeing : 
Isa. vi. 10, ' Lest in seeing they shall see.' A man may see a truth 
rationally that' doth not see it spiritually. Now, when we have the 
Spirit's light, then in seeing we see. Or, as the apostle calls it, Col. 
i 6, ' A knowing of the grace of God in truth/ since you did not only 
take up the report, but feel it, and had some experience of it in your 
hearts. Again, (2 ) God's teaching consisteth not only in enlighten 
ing the understanding, but in moving arid inclining the heart and the 
will ; for God's teaching is always accompanied with drawing : John 
vi. 44, ' No man cometh to me, except the Father draw him ;' which 
Christ proves, ver. 45, because ' they shall be all taught of God.' The 
Spirit's light is not only directive, but persuasive ; it is effectual to 
alter and to change the affections, and to carry them out to Christ and 
to his ways ; he works powerfully where he teacheth. When the Holy 
Ghost was first poured out upon the apostles, there was a notable effect 
of it ; it came in the appearance of cloven tongues, like as of fire, 
Acts ii. 3, to show the manner of the Spirit's operation by the ministry ; 
not only as light, but as fire : it is a burning and a shining light ; 
that is, such a light as is seasoned with zeal and love, that affects the 
heart, that burns up our corruptions. And therefore, you know, when 
Christ would put forth a divine effect in his conference with his two 
disciples, it is said, ' Their hearts burned within them while he talked 
with them,' Luke xxiv. 32. There is a warmth and heat conveyed to 
the soul. Thus for the nature of this teaching. 

Secondly, The necessity of this teaching will appear in several 

1. If we consider the weakness of a natural understanding : 1 Cor. 
ii. 14, * The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, 
because they are spiritually discerned.' They must be spiritually un 
derstood. There must be a cognation and proportion between the 
object and the faculty. Divine things cannot be seen but by a divine 
light, and spiritual things by a spiritual light, else they shall have no 
savour and relish. Can sense, which is the light of beasts, trace the 
workings or the flights of reason ? Can you see a soul or an angel by 
the light of a candle ? There is no proportion between them. So, 
can a natural man receive the things of the Spirit? He receives 
them not. Why ? Because spiritual things must be spiritually 

2. There is not only blindness, but obstinacy and prejudice. When 
we come to judge by sense and reason, the whole business of Chris 
tianity seems to be a foolish thing to a carnal heart. To give up our 
selves to God, and all our interests, and to wait upon the reversion of 
a happiness in another world, which is doubtful whether there will be 
any such thing or no, is a folly to him. To deny present lusts and 
interests, to be much in prayer, and be often in communion with God, 
is esteemed a like folly. When the apostle came to preach the gospel 

VER. 12.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 117 

to the wits at Athens, they scoffed at him ; they entertain his doctrine 
as fire is entertained in wet wood, with hissing and scorn. To do all, 
and suffer all, and that upon the account of a happiness to come, to a 
carnal heart this is but a fancy and a mere imagination. 

3. As blind and obstinate, so we are apt to abuse truth. Carnal 
hearts turn all to a carnal purpose. As spiders assimilate and turn, 
all they suck into their own substance, so doth a carnal heart turn all, 
even the counsels and comforts of the word, to a carnal purpose. Or 
as the sea, whatever comes into it, the sweet rivers and droppings of 
the clouds, turns all into salt water : Hosea xiv. 9, ' Who is wise, and 
he shall understand these things ; prudent, and he shall know them ; 
but the transgressors shall stumble therein.' As right excellent and 
as notable as the doctrines of the word are, yet a carnal heart finds 
matter in them to stumble at ; he picks that which is an occasion of 
ruin and eternal perdition from the scripture ; therefore the apostle 
saith, Eph. iv. 21, ' If ye have learned of him as the truth is in Jesus/ 
We are never right, and truth never works us to regeneration, but it 
is only fuel for our lusts, until we have learned it as it is in Jesus. 
Carnal men undo themselves by their own apprehensions of the truths 
of God. Luther calls some promises bloody promises, because of the 
mistakes of carnal men by their perverse application. Therefore, that 
we may maintain an awe of God in our soul, we need to be taught of 
God. * 

4. We are apt to abuse our knowledge. Saving knowledge makes 
us more humble, but carnal knowledge more proud. Where it is in 
gift rather than in grace, there men are puffed up. The more we 
know God or ourselves by a divine light, the more humble we shall 
be: Jer..xxxi. 18, 19, 'When I was instructed, I smote upon my 
thigh; I was ashamed, even confounded, because I did bear the 
reproach of my youth.' The more light we have from God, the more 
we look into a vile heart. When Adam's eyes are opened, he runs 
into the bushes ; he was ashamed. So when God opens the eyes, and 
teacheth a Christian, this makes him more humble. 

5. There needs God's teaching, because we are so apt to forsake when 
we have known the things of God : Ps. cxix. 21, ' The proud do err 
from thy commandments/ What is the reason David was so stead 
fast in the truth ? He did not take it up from the teachings of man, 
but from the teachings of God. When a man leads us into any truth, 
another man may lead us out again. But now, when God hath taught 
us, and impressed truth upon the heart, then it is durable. What is 
the reason believers are not as fickle as others, and not led away by 
the impure Gnostics, and like those libertines now among us ? 1 John 
ii. 20, ' Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things/ 
They had an unction which came down from Jesus Christ upon their 
hearts ; and then a man is not led away by every fancy, but begins to 
grow stable in spirit. 

6. We cannot tell how to master our corruptions, nor restore reason 
to its dominion again. It is not enough to bring light into the soul, 
but we must have power and efficacy, or true conversion will not follow. 
Man's reason was to govern his actions. Now, all literal instruction 
is weak, like a March sun, which draweth up the vapours, but cannot 


scatter them ; it can discover sins, but cannot quell them : Kom. vii. 
9, ' When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died/ He 
could not tell how to bridle his lusts; he found them more outra 
geous : ' The good that I would do, I do not ; and the evil which I 
would not, that I do.' 

Thirdly, The benefit and utility of God's teaching. When God 
teacheth, truth cometh upon us with more conviction and demonstra 
tion, 1 Cor. ii. 6, and so hath a greater awe and sovereignty. Those 
that have made any trial can judge between being taught of God and 
men. Those that are taught of men, the charms of rhetoric may 
sometimes stir up some loose affection, but it doth soon vanish and 
wear away again ; but the work of God makes deep impression upon 
the soul, and truths are then more affective. Man's knowledge is 
sapless, dry, and unsavoury : 2 Peter i. 8, ' For if these things be in 
you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor 
unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.' There may 
be an empty belief, and a naked and inactive apprehension of Christ, 
which stirs up no affection ; but the light which comes from God 
enters upon the heart, Prov. ii. 10 ; it affects the whole soul. It doth 
not only stay in the fancy, float in the brain, but affect the heart. 
And then it is renewing. Man's light may make us more learned 
but God's light more holy. We are ' changed by beholding the glory 
of God into the same image/ 2 Cor. iii. 18. 


With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. 

VER. 13. 

FOR the coherence of these words, you may refer them either to the 
llth or 12th verse. If to the llth verse, there he speaks of hiding 
the word in his heart, and now it breaks out in his tongue. First it 
must be in the heart, and next in the tongue. First in the heart. 
It is but hypocrisy to be speaking and talking of good things, when 
we have not been refreshed and warmed by them ourselves. Chris 
tianity is not a religion to talk of, but to live by. There are many 
rotten-hearted hypocrites that are all talkers ; like the moon, dark in 
themselves, whatever light they give out to others ; or like negroes, 
that dig in rich mines, and bring up gold for others, when themselves 
are poor. The power of grace in the heart is a good foundation for 
grace on the lips. This is the method and order wherein David 
expresseth it : ' I have hidden thy word in my heart;' and then, 
' With my lips have I declared,' &c. And as it must be first in the 
heart, so next in the tongue. John vii. 38, Christ speaks of ' him 
that believeth in him, that out of his belly shall flow rivers of living 
water.' By the belly is meant the heart. When there is true grace 
in the heart, the sweet influences thereof will flow forth in their 
common discourse for the refreshing of others ; as a spring sendeth 
forth the streams to water the ground about it. If the heart be full, 

VER. 13.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 119 

the tongue will drop what is savoury. I say, certainly if it be within, 
it will break out. The word is to be hid, but not like a talent in a 
napkin, but like gold in a treasury, to be laid out upon all meet occa 
sions. Thus referring it to the llth verse, there may be # fair 

Or if you refer it to the 12th verse, * Blessed art thou, 0- Lord : 
teach me thy statutes:' teach me that I may teach others. Our 
requests for knowledge are like to speed when we are willing to exer 
cise this knowledge for the glory of God and the good of others. 
Talents thrive by their use : ' To him that hath shall be given/ Mat. 
xxv. 29 ; that is, to him that useth his talents. Trading brings 
increase ; and so it may be used as an argument to back that petition, 
Lord, teach me ; for I have been ever declaring with my lips all the 
judgments of thy mouth. 

Again, none can speak of God with such savour and affection as he 
that is taught by God : Teach me, and I have or will declare (it may 
be read either may) all the judgments of thy mouth. A heathen 
could say, Non loquendum de Deo sine lumine we must not speak of 
God without light. The things of God are best represented with the 
light of his own grace. David shows that he would perform the duty 
of a good disciple ; that he would teach others if God should teach 

In the words two things are to be explained 

1. What he will declare, all the judgments of thy mouth. 

2. In what sense he will declare them. 

First, What he will declare. God's will, revealed in the scripture, 
is called ' The judgments of his mouth/ his judgments. I have 
showed that, ver. 7, at large. Briefly now I will add two reasons : 
First, Because it is the rule according to which we must judge of all 
spiritual truth : Isa. viii. 20, ' To the law and to the testimony : if 
they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light 
in them.' Secondly, It is the rule according to which we must look 
to be judged both here and hereafter. Here, * I will chastise them (or 
judge them) as their congregation hath heard/ Hosea vii. 12. Accord 
ing to the sentence of the word, so will the course of his providence 
be, and according to which we shall be judged hereafter : John xii. 
48, * The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the 
last day.' God's providences are a comment upon the scriptures. 
The scripture is not only a record of what is past, but a calendar and 
prognostication of what is to come. You may read your doom, your 
judgment there; for the statutes of the Lord are all called judgments, 
because of an answerable proceeding in the course of God's provi 
dence : if men escape here, they will not escape the judgment of the 
last day, when the sentence of that God shall infallibly be made good. 
Now, the verdict of the word is called the judgments of his mouth, as 
if God himself had pronounced by oracle, and judged from heaven in 
the case ; and these judgments of his mouth the Psalmist saith shall 
be the matter of his discourse and conference with others. 

Secondly, In what sense it is said that he will declare all the judg 
ments of his mouth. In this speech David may be considered as a 
king, as a prophet, or as a private believer. 


1. As a king ; so some conceive that whenever he judged or gave 
sentence upon the throne, he would declare the judgments of God's 
mouth ; that is, decree in the case according to the sentence of the 
law. In favour of this sense it may be alleged 

[1.] That certainly the king was bound to study the law of God, as 
you shall see, Deut. xvii. 18, 19, ' When he sitteth upon the throne of 
his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, out 
of that which is before the priests the Levites ; and it shall be with 
him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life/ Every king 
was bound to have a copy of the law, the Eabbis say, written with his 
own hand, carried about with him wheresoever he went, in city or 

[2.] That the kings of Judah were bound up by the judicials of 
Moses, ' out of that which is before the priests and Levites ; ' that is, 
according to thy judicial laws, so will I pass sentence upon malefactors. 

[3.] That, proceeding according to this rule, their declarations in 
court were the judgments of God's mouth : 2 Chron. xix. 6, ' He said 
to the judges, Take heed what ye do ; for ye judge not for man but for 
the Lord, who is with you in the judgment/ If this sense did prevail, 
we might observe hence, that a godly man useth the word to season the 
duties of all his relations. And again, that a good magistrate is so to 
judge upon the throne that his sentences there may be as the judg 
ments of God's own mouth. But that which caused this misconceit 
was the word judgments, which is not of such a limited import and 
signification as those that pitched upon this interpretation did conceive, 
and therefore mistook the meaning of this place. 

2. David may be considered here as a prophet, and so a pattern of 
all teachers. He asserts his sincerity in two respects (1.) As to the 
matter of his doctrine ; it should be the judgments of God's mouth, 
such as he had received from God. (2.) As to the extent ; that he 
would declare all the judgments of his mouth. 

[1.] As to the matter of his doctrine, it should be the judgments of 
his mouth. That which should be declared and taught in the 
church should not be our own opinions and fancies, but the pure 
word of God ; not the vanity of our thoughts, but the verity of his 
revelations ; otherwise we neither discharge our duty to God, nor to 
the children of God. Not to God, when we come in his name with 
out his message : Jer. iv. 10, ' Ah Lord ! thou hast greatly deceived 
this people/ saith the prophet Jeremiah to God. Thou hast done it ; 
because the false prophets had done it in his name. The dishonour 
reflects upon him when his ordinance is abused to countenance the 
fancies of our own brain. Nor to the children of God, whose appetite 
carrieth them to pure unmixed milk : 1 Peter ii. 2, * As new-born 
babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow there 
by/ \OJLKOV aSo\ov yd\a unmixed milk. The more natural the 
milk is, and without any mixture, the more kindly to a gracious ap 
petite. To mix it with sugar, and the luscious strains of a human 
wit, doth but disguise it, and hide it from a spiritual taste. But to 
mix it with lime, as Jerome saith of heretics, makes it baneful and 
noxious^ Thus he speaks of his faithfulness as a prophet, a publia 
teacher in the church. 

VER. 13.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 121 

[2.] As to the extent; all the judgments of thy mouth, without 
adding or diminishing. No part of God's counsel must be forborne, 
either out of fear or favour. Our work is not to look what will please 
or displease, but what is commanded: Acts xx. 27, ' I have not 
shunned to declare the whole counsel of God.' If it be the counsel of 
God, let it succeed how it will, it must be spoken. So David here, all 
the judgments of thy mouth. 

3. David may be considered as a private Christian ; and so, I. 
would declare all the judgments of thy mouth in a way of confer 
ence and grapious discourse. This is the sense I shall manage. The 
consideration I shall insist upon is this : 

Doct. It concerns all that fear God to declare upon meet occasions 
the judgments of his mouth. 

How ? In the way of public teaching ? Shall every one that hath, 
knowledge and parts teach ? I answer No. There are some separate 
for that work : Acts xiii. 2, ' Separate unto me Paul and Barnabas for 
the work whereunto I have called them.' Paul and Barnabas were 
gifted and called by the Spirit, yet were to be solemnly authorised 
by prophets and teachers at Antioch, by officers of the church. 

Was it not enough that they were called by the Holy Ghost? 
What can man add more ? 

There must be order in the church. Though they were called,, 
yet they were to be ordained, and to have a solemn commission. It 
is true, all Christians are prophets, yet they are not to invade the office* 
ministerial ; as they are also all kings, yet they are not to usurp the 
magistracy, or to disturb the ruler in his government. If Christians- 
would but meditate more, and see how much they have to do to 
preach to their own hearts ; if they would but regard the unquestion 
able duty that they owe to their families more, this itch of public 
preaching would be much abated, and many other confusions and 
disorders among us would be prevented ; and they would sooner find 
the Lord's blessing upon interchangeable discourse, gracious confer 
ences, than this affectation of sermoning and set discourses. 

Well, then, we are to declare the judgments of his mouth, not by 
way of public teaching, but by way of private conference, edifying others,, 
and glorifying God by the knowledge and experience that we have 

First, In our own families. 

Secondly, In our converses. 

1. In our own families, in training up children and servants in tha 
way of the Lord, and inculcating the doctrine of God upon them. 
This is a commanded duty, as you may see, Deut. vi. 6, 7, 'And 
these words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart/ 
What then ? ' And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy chil 
dren, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and 
when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when 
thou risest up/ Morning and evening, rising up and lying down, at 
home and abroad, they should be instructing their families. Whea 
the word of God is in the heart, thus it will break out. And chap, 
xi. 19, you have the same again. This is a duty God reckoneth upon, 
that you will not omit such a necessary piece of service : Gen. xviii. 
19, ' I know Abraham, that he will command his children and his 


household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord.' God 
promiseth himself, that from Abraham and his family he should have 
respect. God hath made many great promises to Abraham, as he 
doth now to all believers ; but if you would have him bring upon you 
that which he hath spoken, you must not disappoint him. The season 
ing of youth betimes in your families is a very great advantage. The 
family is the seminary of the church and state ; and usually those 
that are ill-bred in the family, they prove ill when they come 
abroad. A fault in the first concoction is not mended in the second ; 
and therefore here you should be declaring the mind and counsel of 
God to them. Many that afterwards prove eminent instruments of 
God's glory will bless you for it to all eternity. It is the best love 
you can express to your children, when you take care to season them 
with the best things. A husband is charged to love his wife. How 
shall he express this love ? Eph. v. 25, 26, ' Even as Christ also loved 
the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and 
cleanse it/ &c. I suppose the degree is not only commended for a 
pattern, but the kind ; it must be such a love as Christ bore to his 
church : ' He gave himself for her, that he might sanctify her.' It 
must be such a love as tends to sanctification. It is a poor kind of 
love parents express to their children in providing great estates and 
portions for them, or bringing them up in trades that they may thrive 
in the world. But when you train them up for heaven, there is the 
best love : Prov. iv. 3, 4, ' For I was my father's son ' (he was the 
darling) , ' tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother/ And 
wherein was that love expressed ? ' He taught me also, and said unto 
me, Let thine heart retain my words ; keep my commandments and 
live/ So for servants ; it is not enough to provide bodily mainte 
nance for them so we would do for the beasts if we would use their 
strength and service ; but we are to instruct them according to our 
talents. And that is the best love we can show, to provide for their 

2. In our converses, speaking of God and of his word in all com 
panies, instructing the ignorant, warning and quickening the negligent, 
encouraging the good, casting out some savoury discourse wherever 
we come. So Ps. xxxvii. 30, ' The mouth of the righteous speaketh 
wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment/ A good man studieth 
in his speeches to glorify God, to edify those he speaks to : ' I will de 
clare thy judgments,' saith David. Wise and gracious discourse drops 
from him. So Cant. iv. 11, ' Thy lips, my spouse, drop as the 
honeycomb ; honey and milk are under thy tongue.' The passages of 
that song are to be understood in a spiritual sense. Now the lips and 
the^ tongue being instruments of speech, and milk and honey things by 
which the word is expressed, I suppose it is meant of a conference ; 
and because the word of God is compared to milk and honeycomb, it 
shows that their conference should be gracious and edifying. This is 
that which drops from a sanctified mouth. 

For the reasons of this : 

1. I shall argue from the interest which God hath in the lips and 
tongue, and therefore they must be used for God. He made them, 
bought them, and, if we belong to him, we gave them up with other 

VEK. 13.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 123 

things to him. We did not reserve our tongues. When we resigned 
and surrendered ourselves to the Lord's use, we did not make excep 
tion. The same argument which holds good for the whole body, why 
it should be possessed in sanctification and honour, holds good for 
every part of it : 1 Cor. vi. 20, ' Ye are bought with a price, therefore 
glorify God in your bodies, and in your spirits, which are God's.' Thy 
whole is God's, thy spirit, thy body, and every part ; thy wit, strength, 
hand, tongue, all are God's; and therefore he expects to be glorified 
by thy tongue. They were rebels that said, Ps. xii. 4, ' Our lips are 
our own ; who is lord over us ? ' There is nothing we have that is 
ours, but God's. Our hearts are not our own, to think what we will ; 
nor our tongues our own, to speak what we will. God expects service 
from the tongue, otherwise we must be answerable for it when our 
sovereign Lord calls us to an account. Now, it is strange God should 
have so clear a right to our speech and language, and yet so little a 
share therein : ' Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto 
God the things that are God's.' Thy tongue and thy lips, whose are 
they ? If thou couldst make thy tongue of thyself, then thou mightst 
use it for thyself ; but since you had it from God, you must use it for 
God. But, alas I how little are men mindful of this I Follow them 
all the day, you get not one word of God from them ; they use their 
tongues as if they were their own, not God's. 

2. It is the glory of the tongue to serve God in this kind. It is the 
most excellent member in the body when it is well used for the glory 
of God and edification of others ; therefore called our glory often in 
the psalms : * Awake, my glory ; ' that is, my tongue ; and what is 
glory in the Old Testament is rendered tongue in the New, Acts ii. 
Our tongue is our glory. Why ? Because we have this advantage 
by it, we may speak for God : ' Therewith bless we God,' James iii. 9. 
The benefit of speech is our privilege above angels and beasts. 
Angels they have reason, but no tongues ; and beasts they have tongues, 
but no reason to guide them and act them. But now we have tongues 
and reason both, that we may declare our maker's praise. Surely this 
member and instrument was not given us to savour meats and drinks 
that is not the highest use of it but to express the sense and affections 
of the mind ; not to utter vain, frothy, frivolous things what an abuse 
is that ! but to comfort and instruct one another in the things of 
God. It is our glory. 

3. Every creature hath a voice like itself, and therefore so should 
the new creature have. The ox bellows, the ass brayeth, goats and 
sheep may be known by their bleat, and so is a man by the tenor of 
his discourse. As the constitution of the mind is, so are the words. 
A wicked man hath a vain heart, and therefore his discourse is idle 
and frivolous : Prov. x. 20, * The tongue of the just is as choice silver, 
but the heart of the wicked is little worth/ The antithesis shows it 
should have been said, ' The tongue of the wicked is little worth ; ' but 
he would point at the cause of it, ' the heart of the wicked.' There is 
a quick intercourse between the tongue and the heart. Now, because 
the heart of the wicked is nothing worth, all his thoughts and musings 
are vain ; he goes grinding chaff in his mind all the day ; his mind, like 
a mill, is always at work, not upon corn, that it might be bread for his 


soul, but upon chaff; therefore, because his heart is nothing worth, his 
tongue is nothing worth. The tongue of the just is as choice silver, it 
brings in a great deal of treasure. But take a wicked man, all the 
workings of his heart, his thoughts and discourses, when summed up 
together, the product and total sum at night is nothing but vanity : 
' The Lord seeth all their thoughts are but vain/ A vain heart will 
have vain speeches, and so a cankered sinner will have cankered dis 
course, as a putrid breath discovereth rotten lungs. Every man's 
speech is as his humour is. Come to a covetous person, he will be 
discoursing of farms, oxen, bargains, wares, and such like. Come to 
an epicurean gallant, to a voluptuary, and he will be telling you of 
horses, games, dogs, meats, drinks, merry company. Go to the 
ambitious, they will be talking of honours, offices, and the like. As 
they are of the flesh, so their talk savours of fleshly things. Every 
man hath a voice like himself, he speaks according to the constitution 
of his mind. Go to the discontented man, he will be talking of his 
adversaries, telling of affronts, wrongs, and public offences received. 
But a godly man hath a voice too like himself ; he will be declaring 
the judgments of God's mouth ; he will be speaking out of the word 
of God, of things within his sphere, and suitable to his kind : Mat. 
xii. 35, * A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth 
forth good things/ Still the tap runs according to the liquor with 
which the vessel is filled, and a man's speech bewrays him of what 
kind he is ; and therefore, since every creature hath a voice like him 
self, so should the new creature have. 

4. I shall argue from the nature of good, which is communicative, 
and loves to propagate itself omne bonum sui diffusivum: Luke 
xxii. 32, ' Thou being converted, strengthen thy brethren/ He had 
had experience of a changeable heart ; now go strengthen others. Fire 
turneth all things about it into fire ; leaven pierceth through the whole 
lump. So grace seeks to propagate and diffuse itself. Therefore, 
when the work of God is written upon a man's mind and laid up in 
his heart, he will be declaring and speaking of it to others. Naturalists 
observe that mules and creatures which are of a mongrel race do not 
procreate after their kind ; so the false Christians are not for propa 
gating and enlarging Christ's interest ; they are not so warm, spiritual, 
and heavenly in their discourses. Andrew, when acquainted with, 
Christ, calls Peter, and both call Nathanael : John i. 41-45, ' We have 
found the Messiah/ John calls his disciples. As a hen, when she 
hath found a worm or a barleycorn, clucks for her chickens that they 
may come and partake of it with her, so a man acquainted with Christ, 
who hath tasted that the Lord is gracious, he cannot hold ; he will be 
calling upon his friends and relations to come and share with him of 
the same grace. As they have more of God, they will improve it for 
the comfort of others, and are willing to take hold of all opportunities 
to this end. 

5. It discovereth plenty of knowledge and a good esteem of the 
word. (1.) Plenty of knowledge, when it is so apt to break out. 
When these living waters run out of the belly, it is a sign of a good 
spring there : Col. iii. 16, ' Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly 
in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another/ It is a sign 

VER. 13.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 125 

we have gotten the riches of understanding ; for out of the abundance 
of the heart the mouth speaketh. So Prov. xvi. 23, ' The heart of the 
wise teacheth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips/ When our 
speech hath weight and worth in it, and we are ready upon all occasions, 
it argueth a good stock of the word. You know a man that puts his 
hand in his pocket, and brings up gold at every draught, it is a sign 
he hath more plenty of it than silver ; so when we are ready to bring 
out gracious discourses, it argueth a treasure and stock within. (2.) 
It argueth a good esteem of the word. Things that are dear and 
precious to us, we use to discourse of them. What we love, admire, 
and affect, the tongue will be occupied about such things : John iii. 
31, 'He that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth ;' 
and 1 John iv. 5, * They are of the world, therefore speak they of the 
world.' I know it is spoken in the first place of ordinary teachers. 
All men, whose original is of the earth, they savour of it in their 
speech ; when they speak of divine things, there is some earthiness 
in it. The other scripture is meant of false teachers, they savour of 
the world, all their teaching doth savour of their affections. But both 
places give this general truth : What a man's affections are upon, it is 
most ready in his mouth. Therefore it argueth we are affected with 
the word of God when we are declaring it upon all occasions. 

6. It is for our benefit to be talking of good things to others. The 
breasts that are not sucked do soon grow dry, but the more they are 
milked out and drawn, the greater is the increase ; so in spiritual 
things, we gain by communicating ; by discourse, truths are laid more 
in view. We find in any art of common learning, the more we confer 
about things with others, the more understanding we get ourselves : 
Prov. xi. 25, ' The liberal soul shall be made fat ; and he that watereth 
shall be watered also himself.' It is spoken of alms ; it is true of 
spiritual alms, as plain experience shows. By watering and refreshing 
others, the more are we comforted and refreshed ourselves. The loaves 
were increased in the dividing. Solomon compares conference to the 
whetting iron upon iron ; the more one iron is whetted upon another, 
both are sharpened ; so by conference our gifts are increased. Earthly 
goods, the more they are given out, we have the less in view and visible 
appearance, though God can increase them ; but now, in heavenly 
and spiritual things, in the very giving out to others, they are increased 
upon our hands. 

Use 1. To shame us for our unprofitableness in our relations and 
converses ; for these are two things wherein a Christian should take 
occasion to declare the judgments of God's mouth. 

1. In our relations, that we do no good there in declaring the 
judgments of God's mouth to one another. Surely every relation is a 
talent, and you will be accountable for it, if you do not improve it for 
your master's use. The husband is to converse with his wife as a man 
of knowledge ; 1 Peter iii. 7 ; and the wife to gain upon the husband, 
1 Peter iii. 2 ; and both upon the children and servants. The mem 
bers of every family should be helping one another in the way to 
heaven. With what busy diligence doth an idolatrous family carry 
on their way and their course ! See Jer. vii. 18, ' The children gather 
wood, and the fathers kindle the fire,' &c., saith the Lord. Every one 


will have his hand in the work, and are quickening and inflaming one 
another. 'Fathers, children, husbands, wives, all find some employ 
ment or other about their idolatrous service. Oh, that every one would 
be as forward and zealous and helpful in the work of God ! Oh, that 
we were as careful to train and set our families a-work in a course of 
godliness ! Christians should reason thus : What honour hath God 
by making me a father, a master of a family ? Every such an one hath 
a charge of souls, and he is to be responsible. It will be no grief of 
heart to you when by your means they become acquainted with God : 
' Ye are my crown and my rejoicing/ says the apostle, of the Thes- 
salonians converted by his ministry. It will be a crown of honour 
and rejoicing in the day of the Lord, when you have been instrumental, 
not only for their prosperity in the world, but of their increasing in grace. 
2. In our converses, how little do we edify one another ! If Christ's 
question to the two disciples going to Emmaus were put to us : Luke 
xxiv. 17, ' What manner of conversation had you by the way ? ' what 
cause should we have to blush and be ashamed ! Generally our dis 
course is either (1.) Profane and sinful ; there is too much of the 
rotten communication which the apostle forbids : Eph. iv. 29, * Let no 
corrupt communication come out of your mouth, but that which is 
good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearer/ 
Rotten discourse argueth a rotten heart. Or, (2.) Idle and vain, as 
foolish tales. The apostle bids Timothy, 1 Tim. iv. 7, to ' refuse 
profane and old wives' fables/ or '.vain compliments/ though we are to 
give an account for idle words, Mat.xii. 36. Or else, like the Athenians, 
we ' spend our time in hearing and telling news/ Acts xvii. 21. Or 
we please and solace ourselves with frothy flashes of wanton wit, and 
'jesting that is not convenient/ which the apostle forbids, Eph. v. 4. 
The praise of a Christian lieth not in the wittiness, but in the graci- 
ousness of his conversation. That which is Aristotle's virtue is made 
a sin with Paul foolish jesting. You should rather be refreshing one 
another with what experiences you have had of the Lord's grace ; that 
is the comfort and solace of Christians when they meet together. But 
when men wholly give up themselves to move laughter, all this is idle 
and vain discourse. It is not enough to say it doth no hurt, but 
what good doth it do ? doth it tend * to the use of edifying' ? A 
Christian that hath God and Christ, and his wonderful and precious 
benefits to talk of, and so many occasions to give thanks, he cannot 
want matter to discourse of when he comes into company ; therefore 
we should avoid vain discourse. Or, (3.) We talk of other men's 
matters or faults, as the apostle speaks of those, 1 Tim. v. 13, that 
wandered from house to house ; that were not idle only, but tattlers 
also, and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not : Lev. 
xix. 16, ' Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy 
people.' The Hebrew word signifies a merchant, or one that goeth 
about with spices to sell ; thence the word is used for one that wan- 
dereth from place to place, uttering slanders as wares. These pedlars 
will always be opening their packs. Men fill up time by tattling and 
meddling with others : Thus have I heard of such or such an one. 
Or, (4.) our discourse is wholly of worldly business, not a word of God : 
' They are of the earth, and speak of the earth/ John iii. 31. The 

VER. 13.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 127 

habituating ourselves to worldly discourse together, without inter 
posing something of God, is a great disadvantage. Or, (5.) vain 
jangling ; if we speak of anything that hath an aspect upon religion, 
we turn it into a mere dispute about opinion ; we do not use conferences 
as helps to gracious affections. How many are there sick of questions, 
as the apostle saith, and ' dote upon strife of words ' ? 1 Tim. vi. 4. 
Thus if we did put ourselves to question at night, What have I spoken? 
what good have I done ? what good have I received from such com 
pany ? it would make the word more sensible and active upon our souls. 
Use 2. To press us to holy conference, both occasional and set. 

1. Occasional. We are not left at random in our ordinary discourse, 
to speak as we will ; but at all times and with all persons we should 
have an eye to the good of those with whom we speak : Col. iv. 6, 
' Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may 
know how ye ought to answer every man/ In visits, walks, journeys, 
let your speech be always with grace. We should ever be drawing 
to good discourse, as remembering we must give account : James ii. 
12, ' So speak as those that shall be judged by the law of liberty/ 
Certainly a gracious heart will thus do. He that doth not want a 
heart will not want in occasion of interposing somewhat for God. 
This was Christ's manner : Luke xiv. 15, when he was eating bread 
in the Pharisee's house, he discourseth, ' Blessed is he that shall eat 
bread in the kingdom of God/ There will be a feast in heaven, when 
we shall ' sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom 
of God/ So when Christ was at Jacob's well, John iv. 14, he dis 
courseth of the ' well of living waters which springeth up to eternal 
life ' ; still he draweth towards some gracious improvement of the occa 
sion. So John vii. 37, when he was at the feast of tabernacles, and it 
was the custom there to fetch water from Siloa, and pour it out upon 
the altar of burnt-offerings they were to make a flood of it Christ 
improves it : 'If any man will come to me, out of his belly shall flow 
rivers of living water;' he spiritualiseth the occasion. If our hearts 
were as they ought to be, we would have a gracious word more ready ; 
we would either be beginning or carrying on good conference where- 
ever we came. But Christians are to seek, either through barrenness 
or leanness of soul ; they have not that good treasure or stock of 
knowlege in them, or through the custom of vain speech. And the 
great cause of all is the prevalency of an unsanctified and worldly 
heart ; this hindereth us from being more fruitful in our converse. 

2. It should press us to holy conferences set. There may be, and 
should be, some set time for mutual edification. It is not the duty 
only of the ministers, but also of private Christians, keeping within the 
bounds of their station and the measures of their knowledge, to teach and 
to instruct one another. The scriptures are full of this : Col. iii. 6 ; Col. 
i. 5-11 ; Heb. iii. 13; Jude 20. Christians should often meet together 
for prayer and spiritual edification. So Heb. x. 24, 25 ; Kom. xv. 14. 
I heap up these places because of the error of the Papists, who will 
not have the laity speak of scripture, or things pertaining to scrip 
ture. Whereas you see these injunctions are plain and clear, and it is 
a great part of that holy communion that should pass between saints, 
this mutual exhorting, quickening, and strengthening one another's 


hands in the work of the Lord. These places are not to be under 
stood of public communion, of church societies, but of private confer 
ences, by way of interchangeable discourse and mutual edification. It 
is not necessary these set conferences should be always, and all the 
members of the church meet and confer together ; but a company of 
savoury Christians, whose spirits suit best in commerce, and most likely 
to help one another. Though I am to love all the brotherhood, and 
oarry a respect to all in relation to me, yet I am to single out for my 
advantage some of the most eminent, or the most suitable ; for great 
regard is to be had to that. Christ made a distinction in his little 
flock, in his family, shall I call it ; some he singleth out for more im 
mediate converses, as Peter, James, and John, in his transfiguration, 
in Mat. xvii. 1, and in his agonies ; these were the flower, the choice, 
that he singled out for his special converse. I speak not of public 
meetings, in public societies, but set conferences with gracious Chris 
tians with whom our spirits suit best, and are likely to be of greatest 
help in maintaining of the spiritual life. These set times the people 
of God have ever made conscience of. It is a great comfort and 
refreshing to be conscious to the exercise of each other's grace : Eom. 
i. 12, ' That I may be comforted together with you, by the mutual 
faith both of you and me.' And it is a mighty strengthening in evil 
times: Mai. iii. 16, ' Then they that feared the Lord spake often one 
to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it.' And you will find 
the benefit of the manifold graces of God, that what one wants will be 
supplied by the help of another. God doth riot so give his gifts to one 
but that he needs others' help. Paul calls Aquila and Priscilla ' fel 
lows or helpers in Christ Jesus ;' and Apollos, a mighty man in the 
scriptures, had a great deal of help by Aquila and Priscilla, Eom. xvi. 
3 ; 1 Cor. xii. 21, ' The eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need 
of thee ; nor the head to the feet, I have no need of you.' The mean 
est have their use, quickening and strengthening one another. This 
mutual edification differeth from ministerial or church society ; because 
the one is an act of authority, the other of charity ; the one in the face 
of the congregation, the other by a few Christians in private ; and it 
may be improved to awaken each other to consider of God, of the ways 
of God, the word of God, the works of creation and providence, 
redemption, the judgments he executes in the world, mercies towards 
his people, the experiments and proofs of his grace in your Christian 
warfare : Ps. Ixvi. 16, ' Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will 
declare what he hath done for my soul.' Ferus speaks of some old 
monks, Gonveniebant in unum, audiebatur verbum Dei, dc. they were 
wont to meet together, and after they had read the word of God, every 
one did acquaint one another with his weaknesses, with his temptations, 
and mutually asked counsel, and comforted one another out of the 
word of God ; and after this they concluded all with prayer, and so 
every man went to his home. These examples, did we observe them, 
they would be most useful to us ; we might drive on a trade to heaven, 
and Jbe of very great profit in the spiritual life ; if the gifts of private 
Christians were managed without pride, vainglory, and without 
despising of the weak, it would be of exceeding honour to God, use 
and comfort to the saints. 

TEB. 14.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 129 


/ have rejoiced in the way of thy commandments, as much as in 
all riches. VEB. 14. 

THESE words may respect the 12th verse, as another argument where 
with to back his request, ' Teach me thy statutes ; for I have rejoiced 
in the way of thy commandments as much as in all riches.' Many are 
for worldly wealth, but I have other desires : Lord, teach me how to 
understand and keep thy statutes, and this will be a greater benefit 
than any worldly possession whatsoever. Or you may refer them to 
the 13th verse, as a reason of his practice ; every man will be speaking 
of that wherewith he is delighted : ' Lord, thy testimonies are my re 
joicing ;' therefore, I have and will be speaking of them upon all occa 
sions. Or this may be the fruit of what was mentioned before : those 
that are exercised about the word, the study, and practice of it, and 
conference about it, have a sweet sense of the goodness of it in their 
own souls, so as they delight and rejoice in it above all things ; and 
if we have not felt this effect, it is because we are strangers to the 

In the words there is 

1. A delight asserted. 

2. The object of it, in the ivay of thy testimonies. 

3. The degree of it, as much as in all riches. 

By way of explication : The ' testimonies ' of God are his word, for 
it testifieth of his will. Now the prophet saith not only, ' I have re 
joiced in thy testimonies/ but ' in the way of thy testimonies.' Way 
is one of the words by which the law is expressed. God's laws are 
ways that lead us to God ; and so it may be taken here, the way which 
thy testimonies point out and call me unto ; or else, his own practice, 
as a man's course is called his way ; his delight was not in specula 
tion or talk, but in obedience and practice : ' In the way of thy testi 
monies.' The degree, ' as much as in all riches.' As much, not to 
show the equality of these things, as if we should have the same affec 
tion for the world as for the word of God ; but as much, because we 
have no higher comparison. This is that worldlings dote upon and de 
light in. Now, as much as they rejoice in worldly possessions, so much 
do I rejoice in the way of thy testimonies. For I suppose David doth not 
compare his own delight in the word with his own delight in wealth ; 
but his own choice and delight with the delight and choice of others. 
If he had spoken of himself both in the one respect and in the other, 
the expression was very high. David, that was called to a crown, and 
in a capacity of enjoying much in the world, gold, silver, lands, goods, 
largeness of territory, and a compound of all that which all men jointly, 
and every man severally, doth possess, yet was more pleased in the 
holiness of God's ways, than in all the world.' * For what shall it 
profit a man to gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? ' Mat. 
xvi. 26. 

Doct. A gracious heart finds more true joy in the way of God's 
word than in all worldly things whatsoever. 

VOL. vi. i 


To explain this, consider 

1. What this delight is. 

2. How a gracious heart finds more delight in the word of God than 
in all worldly things. 

3. The reasons why they do so, 

1. What this delight is. I shall give you several distinctions. 

[1.] There is a sweetness in the study of God's word, or when we 
give up ourselves to attain the knowledge of it. The very speculation 
and study produces a delightful taste, for three reasons : 

(1.) Truth is the good of the understanding ; therefore, when the 
faculty is suited with a fit object, this correspondence causeth a rejoic 
ing and delectation: Prov. xxiv. 14, * My son, eat thou honey because it 
is good ; and the honeycomb, because it is sweet to thy taste : so shall 
the knowledge of wisdom be to thy soul when thou hast found it/ 
Every truth, if it be but a natural or philosophical verity, when we 
come to consider and see it with our own eyes, and have found it out 
by search, and do not repeat it by rote only, breedeth a delight. Plea 
sure is applicatio convenientis convenienti; so it is true in theological 
truths ; we are the more affected with them the more they are repre 
sented with evidence to the soul. 

(2.) Scriptural truths are more sublime than other truths, and do en 
noble reason with the knowledge of them : Deut. iv. 6, * Surely this 
great nation is a wise and an understanding people.' Such doctrines as 
we meet with in the word of God concerning angels and the souls of men, 
the creation and government of all things, the redemption of men, must 
needs affect the heart, and breed a joy in the view and contemplation 
of them. 

(3.) Because these truths are suitable to our necessities. To every 
man that hath a conscience, it cannot but be very pleasing to hear of 
a way how he may come to the pardon of sins, and sound peace of con 
science, solid perfection, and eternal glory. Man is naturally under fear 
of death, Kom. i. 32, and would be glad of pardon ; weak, and unable 
to find out or attain to moral perfection, he would be glad of an exact 
rule, and gropeth and feeleth about for an everlasting happiness, Acts 
xvii. 27. So far as anything is found to this purpose in the writings 
of men, they have a marvellous force and influence upon us. Any beam 
of this truth scattered in Plato or Socrates, of man's reconciliation with 
a just God, there is nothing in their writings ; the then world was 
under perplexity ; but yet of moral perfection, and an eternal state of 
blessedness, there were some glimmerings. Now, when these are re 
presented to the understanding with such evidence and satisfaction as 
they are in the scriptures, where you have the only sufficient direction 
to true happiness, no wonder if they are greedily catched at. Now this 
delight, though good, I speak not of, because it may be in temporaries, 
who have a taste of the good word, to invite them to seek for more, Heb. 
vi. 4, and is a fruit of common illumination. The stony ground re 
ceived the word with joy, Luke viii. 13 ; and though it may affect the 
heart, yet if not above all riches, it doth not prevail over carnal affec 

J2.] There is a sweetness found in the way of God's testimonies which 
ariseth from the conscience of practical obedience, not from contemplation 

VEB. 14.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 131 

only ; and it is best to be found when we come to practise and perform 
what we know. It is said of wisdom, Prov. iii. 17, 'All her ways are 
ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.' There is not only a 
sweetness in our privileges, but in our duties. No man knoweth the 
contentment of walking closely with God but he that hath tried. So 
Micah ii. 7, ' Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly ?' 
not only speak good, but do good. There is a certain performance of 
what the word saith, when it is said : it may be accounted done ; but 
to whom ? To them that know it, and are able to talk of it ? No ; 
but to them that walk. And will every slight endeavour and the pre 
sumption of conformity to the rule serve the turn ? No ; to them that 
walk uprightly, that sincerely frame themselves to obey God's will with 
the greatest exactness and care they can use. Oh, what good, what 
reviving of heart and cheerfulness do they find in this work ! Briefly, 
this delight in the way of God's testimonies (that you may not be mis 
taken) differeth from that contentment and serenity of mind which is 
the fruit of integrity or moral sincerity. There is some degree of com 
fort that accompanieth any good action, as heat doth fire ; the con 
science, so far as he doth good, hath some kind of peace in it. The 
heathens by God's general bounty and goodness had a conscience excus 
ing when they did good, as well as accusing when they did evil : Eom. 
ii. 15, 'Their thoughts in the meantime accusing, or else excusing 
one another/ ^eraf v aXX^Xwi/ ' by turns,' and this excusing cannot 
be without some sweetness and contentment of mind. Sacer intra nos 
spiritus sedet bonorum malorumque nostrorum observator et custos; hie 
prout a nobis tractatus est, ita nos ipse tractat, saith Seneca. This 
may be without faith ; whereas we speak of such a joy as is founded 
in faith, though found in the ways of obedience in Christ's service : 
Mat. xi. 29, ' Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek 
and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls.' In short, 
there is delight in the duty and the dispensation ; for it is both pro 
mised and required. Delight in God's ways is promised as a gift of 
God, and as the result of our obedience : Isa. Iviii. 13, 14, ' If thou 
turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my 
holy day, and call the sabbath a delight, &c., then shalt thou delight 
thyself in the Lord,' &c.; and Cant. ii. 3, ' I sat down under his sha 
dow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste/ There 
is sweetness God bestoweth, or sensible consolation, which must be dis 
tinguished from that delight which is a fruit of our gracious esteem. I 
can exclude neither, though that delight which is the fruit of our esteem 
of the word is principally here intended ; the one is more durable than 
the other. A gracious affection to the word and ways of God should 
ever remain with us; but we are not always feasted with spiritual 
suavities. Now and then we have them, and when they have done 
their work they return to God. As in the vision made to Peter, the 
sheet that was showed him was received up again into heaven, Acts x. 
16, when Peter was informed of God's will ; so this comfort returneth 
to the giver when it hath done its work, refreshed our hearts, and en 
gaged us to wait upon God. 

2. How a gracious heart rejoiceth more in the way of God's testi 
monies than in all riches. 


[1.] There is a broad difference in the things themselves, and there 
fore there should be in our affections to them ; for our affections should 
be carried out according to the worth of things ; otherwise, if an object 
of less worth have more of our hearts than an object of more value, 
they are like members out of joint, they are not in their proper place. 
There is a great distance between the things themselves, as much as 
there is between the enjoyment of God and the creature, and there 
fore there must be a considerable difference in our affections to them. 
If the difference be so nice that thou canst hardly distinguish which 
thy heart is more affected with, the enjoyment of God in the way of his 
testimonies, or the enjoyment of wealth and worldly accommodations, 
or if the disproportion be on the world's side, that hath more of thy 
esteem and complacency, then God is not thy chiefest good ; thou 
lovest the creature more than God, which is inconsistent with grace : 
for this is the prime act of grace, to choose God for our chiefest good. 

[2.] We must distinguish between the sensitive stirring of the affec 
tions and the solid complacency of the soul. It is possible a child of 
God may be more sensibly moved by temporal things, as they do more 
strike upon the senses ; but the supreme and prevailing delight of 
the soul is in spiritual things, in the way of God's testimonies. To 
exemplify this by the contrary affection, as in sorrow ; a temporal loss 
may to sense more stir the affections, as to bodily expression of them, 
than a spiritual ; as the drawing of a tooth or any present pain may 
make us cry out more than the languishings of a consumption ; whereas 
the other may go nearer to the heart, and causeth a more lasting 
trouble. So in joy ; a man may be pleased with earthly conveniences, and 
yet his solid esteem is more in spiritual things ; as a trifle may provoke 
laughter more than a solid benefit that accrueth to us. Therefore the 
case is not to be decided by the intensiveness of the sensitive expres 
sion so much as by the appreciation of the soul. In this sense the 
point is to be understood ; he would lose all the world rather than 
dispense with his obedience to God. This is selling all for the pearl 
of price spoken of, Mat. xiii. 46. All other things are trampled upon 
and renounced for this one's sake, that we may enjoy God in Christ. 
And truly this affection to the word is not easily to be found ; for we 
often see that men for a little gain will break all the commandments 
of God, as things not to be stood upon when any temporal commodity 
is in chase, and in the pursuit of worldly riches care not how they 
neglect Christ and heavenly things. 

3. The reasons why they rejoice more in the way of God's testi 
monies than in all riches. 

[1.] Because of the suitableness of these things to the new nature. 
Everything hath a kind of joy when it enjoys that which is good for it. 
The ground doth pleasantly receive a shower of rain after drought ; 
the natural man eateth and drinkath, and his heart is filled with glad 
ness ; so the spiritual man is affected with that which is agreeable to 
the divine nature. Everything is preferred according to the suitable 
ness and proportion which it carrieth to our necessities and desires. 
The cock in the fable preferred a barleycorn before a jewel ; the barley 
corn is more suitable to its natural appetite. So believers have * not 
the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God/ 1 Cor. ii. 12 ; 

VER. 14.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 133 

therefore the way of God's testimonies is more suitable and proportion 
able to that nature which they have. Their wealth and worldly things 
they indeed suit with the sensitive nature, but that is kept under, there 
fore the prevalent inclination is to the word more than to the world. 

[2.] There is nothing in the enjoyment of worldly things, but they 
have it more amply in the exactest and sincerest way of enjoyment by 
the word, and walking in the way of its precepts. Satan's baits whereby 
he leads men to sin are pleasure and profit ; when bonum honestum, 
the good of honesty and duty, is declined, there remains nothing but 
bonum utile et jucundum, the good of pleasure and profit. If we be 
moved with these things, it is good to look there where we may have 
them at the highest rate and in the most sincere manner. Now, it is 
the word of God believed and obeyed which yield eth us the greatest 
profit and the greatest pleasure. You have both in one verse : Ps. 
xix. 10, ' More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine 
gold : sweeter also than the honey and the honeycomb.' Because 
of the profit it is compared to gold, and because of the sweetness and 
pleasure we have by it, it is compared to honey. 

The word of God will truly enrich a man and make us happy. The 
difference between God's people and others doth not lie in this, that 
the one seeketh after riches, the other not ; they both seek to enrich 
themselves ; only the one seeketh after false, and the other true riches, 
as they are called, Luke xvi. 11, and so differ from one another as we 
and the Indians do, who reckon their wealth by their wampenpeage, 
or shells of fishes, as we do ours by gold and silver ; the one hath little 
worth but what their fancies put upon it ; the other hath a value in 
nature. Or, to speak in a more home comparison, counters, glass 
beads, and painted toys please children more than jewels and things 
of greater price, yea, than land of inheritance, or whatever, when we 
come to man's estate, we value and is of use to us for the supply of 
present necessities. So worldly men, preferring their kind of wealth 
before holiness and the influences of grace, do but cry up baubles 
before jewels. To evidence this, and that we may beat the world with 
their own notions, and so the better defeat the temptation, let us con 
sider what is the true riches. 

1. What is indeed true riches. 

2. Why these are the true riches. 
1. What is indeed riches. 

[1.] Gracious experiences or testimonies of the favour of God. He 
is a rich man indeed that hath many of these. So it is said, Eom. 
x. 12, Gad is ' rich to all that call upon him ;' it is meant actively, 
not passively ; it only noteth that God doth give out plentiful experi 
ences of his grace. 

[2.] Knowledge : * Let the word of God dwell in you richly, in all 
wisdom,' Col. iii. 16. And the apostle mentions ' the riches of the full 
assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of 
God, and of the Father, and of Christ,' Col. ii. 2. This is a treasure in 
deed, that cannot be valued ; and he is a very poor soul that wants it. 

[3.] Faith: James ii. 5, ' Hath not God chosen the poor of this 
world, rich in faith?' He is a rich man that is emptied of himself 
that he may be filled with God. 


[4.] Good works : 1 Tim. vi. 10, ' Charge them that are rich in this 
world, that they be not high-minded, &c., but rich in good works/ 
miserable man ! that hath nothing to reckon upon but his money and 
his bags, so much by the year, and makes it all his business to live 
plentifully in the world, laying up nothing for heaven, and is not rich 
in gracious experiences, knowledge, faith, and good works, which are 
a Christian s riches ! 

2. Why are these the true riches ? 

[1.] That is true riches which maketh the man more valuable, 
which gives an intrinsic worth to him, which wealth doth not that is 
without us. We would not judge of a horse by the richness of his 
saddle and the gaudiness of his trappings ; and is man, a reasonable 
creature, to be esteemed by his moneys and lands, or by his graces and 
moral perfections ? 

[2.] That is riches which puts an esteem upon us in the eyes of God 
and the holy angels, who are best able to judge, One barbarous Indian 
may esteem another the more he hath of his shells and trifles ; but you 
would count him never the richer that should bring home a whole 
ships lading of these things : Luke xii. 20, such a fool is he ' that 
heapeth up treasure to himself, and is not rich towards God ;' that 
hath not of that sort of riches which God esteemeth. We are bound 
for a country where riches are of no value ; grace only goeth current 
in the other world. 

[3.] That is riches which steads us in our greatest extremities. 
When we come to die, the riches of this world prove false comforts, for 
they forsake a man when he hath most need of comfort. In the hour 
of death, when the poor shiftless naked soul is stripped of all, and we 
can carry away nothing in our hands, grace lieth near the heart to 
comfort us. It is said by a voice from heaven of those that die in the 
Lord, ' Their works follow them ;' their wealth doth not. Our graces 
continue with us to all eternity. 

[4.] That is the true riches which will supply all our necessities, 
and bear our expenses to heaven. Wealth doth not this, but grace : 
Mat. vi. 33, ' Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness 
thereof, and all these things shall be added ;' 1 Tim. iv. 8, ' Godliness 
is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now 
is, and of that which is to come/ Heaven and earth are laid at the 
feet of godliness. 

[5.] That is true riches which will give us a title to the best inherit 
ance. The word of God is able to enrich a man more than all the 
riches of the world, because it is able to bring a man to an everlasting 
kingdom. All this is spoken because there is an evil desire that pos- 
sesseth the whole world ; they are vehemently carried after riches, and 
as they are increased, so are they delighted. But, saith David, my 
delight is to increase in knowledge and grace ; if I get more life, more 
victory over lusts, more readiness for God's service, this comforts me 
to the heart. Now how do you measure your thriving ? by worldly or 
spiritual increase ? 

Here is the true delight. Spiritual delight in spiritual objects far 
exceedeth all the joy that we can take in worldly things. The plea 
sures of the mind are far more pure and defecate than those of the 

VER. 14.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 135 

body ; so that if a man would have pleasures, let him look after the 
chiefest of the kind. He spoke like a beast rather than like a man 
that said, ' Eat, drink, and be merry ; thou hast goods laid up for 
many years/ Luke xii. 19. That is the most that worldly things can 
afford us, a little bodily cheer : Ps. xvii. 14, ' Thou hast filled their 
bellies with hid treasures ; ' there is the poor happiness of a rich world 
ling. He may have a bellyful, and fare at a better rate than others 
do : Hab. i. 16, * Their portion is made fat, and their meat plenteous/ 
When men have troubled themselves and the world to make them 
selves great, it is but for a little belly-cheer, which may be wanted as 
well as enjoyed ; a modest temperance and mean fare yieldeth more 
pleasure. But what is this to the delights of the mind ? A sensualist 
is a fool, that runneth to such dreggy and carnal delights. Noble and 
sublime thoughts breed a greater pleasure. What pleasure do some 
take in finding out a philosophical verity ! the man rejoiceth, the 
senses are only tickled in the other. Of all pleasures of the mind, 
those of the spiritual life are the highest, for then our natural faculties 
are quickened and heightened by the Spirit. The reasonable nature 
hath a greater joy than the sensitive, and the spiritual divine nature 
hath more than the mere rational. There is not only a higher object, 
the love of God, but a higher cause, the Spirit of God, who elevateth 
the faculty to a higher manner of sense and perception. Therefore 
both the good and evil of the spiritual life is greater than the good 
and evil of the rational. The evil of the spiritual is greatest : ' A 
wounded spirit who can bear ? ' And the good of the spiritual life is 
greatest, 'joy unspeakable and glorious/ The higher the life, the 
greater the feeling ; ' groans not uttered/ ' Peace passing all under 
standing/ though it maketh no loud noise, yet it diffuseth a solid 
contentment throughout the soul. All this is spoken because the way 
of God's testimonies is looked upon as a dark and gloomy course by 
carnal men ; yet it is the life of the blessed God himself: Eph. iv. 18, 
' Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of 
God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness 
of their heart.' And surely he wants no true joy and pleasure that 
lives such a life. 

Use 1. Here is an invitation to men to acquaint themselves more 
with the way of God's testimonies, that they may find this rejoicing 
above all riches. It is hard to pleasant natures to abjure accustomed 
delights ; and carnal men picture religion with a sour austere face : 
We shall never see cheerful day more if we are strict in religion. Oh ! 
consider, your delight is not abrogated, but perfected ; you shall find 
a rejoicing more intimate than in all pleasures. Cyprian saith he 
could hardly get over this prejudice, in his epistle to Donatus. Austin, 
thirty years old, parted with his carnal delights, and found another 
sweetness quam suave mihi subito factum est I It is your disease 
maketh you carnal ; when freed from the fervours of lust, these things 
will have no relish with you. If it seem laborious at first, it will be 
more joyful than all riches. The root is bitter, but the fruit sweet. 
At first it is bitter to nature, which loveth carnal liberty, to render 
itself captive to the word ; but after a little pains, and when the heart 
is once subdued to God, it will be sweet and comfortable. Ask of the 


spies that have been in this good land if it be not a land flowing with 
milk and honey. David tells you, * In the way of thy testimonies.' 
This way would be more trodden if men would believe this ; if you 
will not believe, make trial ; if Christ's yoke seem burdensome, it is to 
a galled neck. 
Use 2. Trial. 

1. Have we a delight in obedience to God's precepts? Ps. cxii. 1, 
they that fear God, delight greatly in his commandments. It is not 
enough to serve God, but we must serve him delightfully ; for he is a 
good master, and his work hath wages in the mouth of it. It is a 
sign you are acquainted with the word of God, when the obedience 
which it requireth is not a burden but a delight to you. Alas ! with 
many it is otherwise. How tedious do their hours run in God's ser 
vice I no time seemeth long but that which is spent in divine worship. 
Do you count the clock at a feast ? and are you so provident of time 
when about your sports ? Are you afraid that the lean kine will de 
vour the fat, when you are about your worldly business ? What 
causeth your rejoicing ? the increase of wealth, or grace ? 

2. Is this the supreme delight of the soul ? It is seen not so much 
by the sensible expression, as by the serious constitution of the soul, 
and the solid effects of it. 

[1.] Doth it draw you off from worldly vanities to the study of the 
word ? What are your conceptions of it ? What do you count your 
riches ? To grow in grace, or to thrive in the world ? To grow rich 
towards God, or to heap up treasures to yourselves ? Is it your great 
est care to maintain a carnal happiness ? 

[2.] Doth it support you in troubles and worldly losses ? and bear 
you out in temporal adversities ? You cannot be merry unless you 
have riches and wealth and worldly accommodations ; then, soul, eat, 
drink, and be merry ! 

[3.] Doth it sweeten duties ? The way of God's commandments is 
your way home. A beast will go home cheerfully. You are going 
home to rest. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength. Certainly 
you will think no labour too great to get thither, whither the word 
directs you. As one life exceedeth another, so there is more sensible- 
ness in it. A beast is more sensible of wrong and hurt and of pleasure 
than a plant ; and as the life of a man exceedeth the life of a beast, 
so is he more capable of joy and grief ; and as the life of grace ex 
ceedeth the life of a mere man, so its joys are greater, its griefs greater. 
There are no hardships to which we are exposed for religion, but the 
reward attending it will make us to overcome. 


I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto tliy ways. 

VER. 15. 

ALL along David had showed what he had done ; now, what he will 
do. Ver. 10, ' I have sought ;' ' ver. 11, ' I have hid ; ' ver. 13, ' I 


have declared ; ' ver. 14, ' I have rejoiced/ Now, in the two following 
verses, he doth engage himself to set his mark towards God for time 
to come : ' I will meditate in thy precepts,' &c. We should not rest 
upon anything already done and past, but continue the same diligence 
unto the end. Here is David's hearty resolution and purpose to go on 
for time to come. Many will say, Thus I have done when I was 
young, or had more leisure and rest ; in that I have meditated and con 
ferred. You must continue still in a holy course. To begin to build 
and leave unfinished is an argument of folly. There is always the 
same reason for going on that there was for beginning, both for neces 
sity, profit, and sweetness. We have no license to slack and give over 
till all be finished : Phil. ii. 12, ' Work out your own salvation ; * 
otherwise all you do is in vain, yet not in vain : Gal. iii. 4, in vain as 
to final reward, yet not in vain as to increase of punishment. You 
lose your cost, your watchings, striving, prayings ; but you will gain a 
more heavy punishment, so that it had been better you had never be 
gun : 2 Peter ii. 20, 21, ' For if, after they have escaped the pollutions 
of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus 
Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end 
is worse with them than the beginning ; for it had been better for 
them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have 
known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them/ 
You bring an ill report upon God ; your sense of the worth of heavenly 
things must needs be greater for your making trial ; and therefore 
your punishment for neglect the greater. Into the vineyard they came 
at several hours, but all tarried till the close of the day. Some called 
sooner, some later, but all held out till the end : Heb. vi. 10, 11, you 
have ministered and must minister ; you have prayed and must pray ; 
you have heard the word with gladness, and must hear still. Many 
in youth are zealous, but when their first heats are spent, grow worldly, 
careless, and ready to sound a retreat from God. The fire of the altar 
was never to go out ; so should the life, and warmth, and vigour of our 
affections to the word of God be ever preserved. God is the same still, 
and so is the word ; and therefore we should ever be the same in our 
respects to it. The devil in policy lets men alone for a while, to mani 
fest some respect to the ways of God, that they may after do religion 
a mischief. They are full of zeal, strict, holy, diligent in attendance 
upon ordinances. He never troubleth them, but is at truce with them 
all this while, till they get some name for the profession of godliness, 
and then he knoweth their fall will be the more scandalous and ignomi 
nious, not only to themselves, but to their profession. They are forward 
and hot men a while, till they have run themselves out of breath, and 
then by a notable defection shame themselves, and harden others. 

Compare it with the 13th verse, ' I have declared ; ' now ' I will 
meditate/ To be warm and affectionate in our expressions of respect 
to the word before others, and to slight it in our own hearts, argueth 
gross hypocrisy ; therefore David would not only confer, but meditate. 
Many talk with others, but not with their own soul : ' Commune with 
your hearts, and be still.' True zeal is uniform; when there is no 
witness but God, it acts alike. 

Refer it to the 14th verse, David had spoken of his delight in the 


law ; now, that he would meditate therein ; in both not to boast, but 
to excite others by his example : that is to be understood all along 
when he speaketh of his diligence in and about the law of God. But 
mark, first the word was his delight, and then his meditation, Delight 
causeth meditation, and meditation increaseth delight : Ps. i. 2, ' But 
his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate 
day and night.' A man that delighteth in the law of God will exercise 
his mind therein. Our thoughts follow our affections. It is tedious 
and irksome to the flesh to meditate, but delight will carry us out. 
The smallest actions, when we have no delight in them, seem tedious 
^nd burdensome. It was no great matter for Haman to lead Mor- 
decai's horse, yet a burdensome offensive service, because it was against 
his will. The difficulty that we find in holy duties lieth not in the 
duties themselves, but in the awkwardness of our affections. Many 
think they have no parts, and therefore they cannot meditate. He 
ihat findeth a heart to this work will find a head. Delight will set 
the mind a-work, for we are apt to muse and pause upon that which is 
pleasing to us. Why are not holy thoughts as natural and as kindly 
to us as carnal ? The defect is in the heart : ' I have rejoiced in thy 
testimonies/ saith David, and therefore ' 1 will meditate in thy statutes.' 
In the words there is a double expression of David's love to the 
law of God : 

1. / will meditate in thy precepts. 

2. I will have respect to thy ways. 
Concerning which observe 

1. In both the notion by which the word of God is expressed and 
diversified, precepts, ways. The word precepts implieth God's authority, 
by which the counsels of the word are ratified. Ways implieth a 
certain direction for pur walk to heaven. There are God's ways to us 
declared in his promises. So it is said, Ps. xxv. 10, ' All the paths of 
God are mercy and truth.' Our ways to God, ver. 4 of that psalm : 
* Show me thy ways, teach me thy paths/ These are his precepts. 

2. Observe, the one is the fruit of the other : ' I will meditate ; ' and 
then, c I will have respect/ Meditation is in order to practice ; and if 
it be right, it will beget a respect to the ways of God. We do not 
meditate that we may rest in contemplation, but in order to obedience : 
Josh. i. 8, ' Thou shalt meditate in the book of the law day and night, 
that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein/ 
So Phil. iv. 8, 9, ' Think of these things,' ' do these things ' Xoydfecrte. 
When you cast up your accounts, and consider what God hath required 
of you, it is that you may set upon the work. Meditation is not a 
flourishing of the wit, that we may please the fancy by playing with 
divine truths (sense is diseased that must be fed with quails), but a 
serious inculcation of them upon the heart, that we may urge it to 
practice. Nor ^ yet an acquainting ourselves with the word that we 
may speak of it in company : conference is for others, meditation for 
ourselves when we are alone. Words are but the female issue of our 
thoughts, works the male. Nor merely to store ourselves with curious 
notions and subtile inquiries ; study searcheth out a truth, but medita 
tion improveth it for practical use: it is better to be sincere than 

VER. 15.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 139 

3. Observe, this practical obedience is expressed by having respect 
unto the ways of God. To respect God's ways is to take heed that we 
do not turn out of them, to regard them and ourselves : ' Observe to do 
them,' Josh. i. 8 ; and it is called elsewhere, pondering our path : Prov. 
iv. 26, ' Ponder the path of thy feet/ that we may not mistake our 
way, nor wander out of it. Eespect to God's word was opened ver. 6 
and 9. The main point is this 

That one great duty of the saints is meditating on the word of God, 
and such matters as are contained therein. 

Let us inquire what meditation is, because the practice and know 
ledge of the duty is almost become a stranger to us. Before I can 
define, I must distinguish it. Meditation is 

1. Occasional. 

2. Set and solemn. 

1. Occasional meditation is an act by which the soul spiritualiseth 
every object about which it is conversant. A gracious heart is like an 
alembic ; it can distil useful thoughts out of all things that it meeteth 
with. Look, as it seeth all things in God, so it seeth God in all things. 
Thus Christ at Jacob's well discourseth of the well of life, John iv. ; at 
the miracle of the loaves, discourseth of manna, John vi. and vii. ; at 
the feast of tabernacles, of living waters ; at the Pharisee's supper, dis 
courseth of eating bread in the kingdom of God, Luke xiv. 15. There 
is a holy chemistry and art that a Christian hath to turn water into 
wine, brass into gold, to make earthly occasions and objects minister 
spiritual and heavenly thoughts. God trained up the old church by 
types and ceremonies, that the things they ordinarily conversed with 
might put them in mind of God and Christ, their duties, and dangers, 
and sins. And our Lord in the New Testament taught by parables 
and similitudes taken from ordinary functions and offices amongst 
men, that in every trade and calling we might be employed in our 
worldly business with a heavenly mind ; that whether in the shop, or 
at the loom, or in the field, we might still think of Christ, and grace, 
and heaven. There is a parable of the merchantman, a parable of the 
sower, a parable of the man calling his servants to account, &c., that 
upon all these occasions we might wind up our minds, and extract 
some spiritual use from our common affairs. Thus the creatures lift 
up our minds to the creator. David had his night meditation : Ps. 
viii. 3, ' When I consider the heavens, the work of thy hands, the 
moon, and the stars which thou hast ordained/ &c. ; the sun is not 
mentioned. When he was gone abroad in the night, his heart was set 
on work presently : and Ps. xix. 5, there is a morning meditation, for 
he seemeth to describe the sun coming out of his chambers in the east, 
and displaying his beams like a cloth of gold upon the world. A holy 
heart cannot want an object to lead him to the meditation of God's 
power, and goodness, and glory, and wise providence, who hath made 
and doth order all things according to the counsel of his will. There 
is a great deal of practical divinity in the very bosom of nature, if we 
had the skill to find it out. Job biddeth us, ' Ask the beasts, and they 
shall teach thee ; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee ; or 
speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee ; and the fishes of the sea 
.shall declare unto thee/ They speak by our thoughts. 


2. There is set and solemn meditation. Now this is of several 
sorts, or rather, they are several parts of the same exercise. 

[1.] There is a reflective meditation, which is nothing but a solemn 
parley between a man and his own heart : Ps. iv. 4, ' Commune with 
your own heart and be still;' when we have withdrawn ourselves 
from company, that the mind may return upon itself, to consider what 
we are, what we have been, what straits and temptations we have 
passed through, how we overcame them, how we passed from death to 
life. This is a necessary part of meditation, but very difficult. What 
can be more against self-love and carnal ease than for a man to be 
his own accuser and judge ? All our shifts are to avoid our own 
company, and to run away from ourselves. The basilisk dieth by 
seeing himself in a mirror, and a guilty man cannot endure to see his 
own natural face in the glass of the word. The worldly man choketh 
his soul with business, lest, for want of work, the mind, like a mill, 
should fall upon itself. The voluptuous person melteth away his days 
in pleasure, and charmeth his soul into a deep sleep with the potion 
of outward delights, lest it should awake and talk with him. Well, 
then, it is necessary that you should take some time to discourse with 
yourselves, to ask of your souls what you have been, what you are, 
what you have done, what shall become of you to all eternity : Jer. 
viii. 6, ' No man asketh of himself, what have I done ? ' You would 
think it strange of two men that conversed every day for forty or fifty 
years, and yet all this while they did not know one another. Now, 
this is the case between us and our own souls ; we live a long time in 
the world, and yet are strangers to ourselves. 

[2.] There is a meditation which is more direct, when we exercise 
our minds in the word of God and the matters contained therein. 
This is twofold : 

(1.) Dogmatical, or the searching out of a truth in order to know 
ledge : ' Proving what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of 
God/ Kom. xii. 2. This is study, and differeth from meditation in 
the object, and supposeth the matter we search after to be unknown, 
either in whole or in part ; whereas practical meditation is the inculca 
tion or whetting of a known truth upon the soul : and it differs in the 
end ; the end of study is information, and the end of meditation is 
practice, or a work upon the affections. Study is like a winter sun, 
that shineth, but warmeth not ; but meditation is like blowing up the 
fire, where we do not mind the blaze but the heat. The end of study 
is to hoard up truth ; but of meditation, to lay it forth in conference or 
holy conversation. In study, we are rather like vintners, that take in 
wine to store themselves for sale ; in meditation, like those that buy wine 
for their own use and comfort. A vintner's cellar may be better stored 
than a nobleman's ; the student may have more of notion and knowledge, 
but the practical Christian hath more of taste and refreshment. 

(2.) Practical and applicative. This we now speak of; and it is 
that duty and exercise of religion whereby the mind is applied to the 
serious and solemn consideration and improvement of the truths which 
we understand and believe, for practical uses and purposes. Not like 
a man that soweth and never reapeth ; or a woman that often con 
ceives, but never brings forth living children. 

VER. 15.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 141 

(1st.) It is a duty ; for it is commanded, Josh. i. 8, ' This book of 
the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate 
therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all 
that is written therein.' As the promise is general, ' I will not leave 
thee nor forsake thee,' Heb. xiii. 5, so is the command. To meditate 
in the law is a part of the description of a godly man : Ps. i. 2, ' His de 
light is in the law of the Lord, and in that law doth he meditate day 
and night.' It is commended to us by the practice and example of the 
saints in scripture. Isaac, Gen. xxiv. 63, ' went out to meditate in the 
field in the eventide,' to pray, as in the margin ; the word in the ori 
ginal is indifferent to both senses ; it properly signifieth muttering, or 
an imperfect or suppressed sound. The Septuagint sometimes renders 
it by aelSeiv, to sing ; but others by aSoXecr^o-at, which signifies to 
exercise himself. The word is used here iv rat? eVroXafc <ro> 
aSoXeo-;^jo-a>. Symmachus, \a\f)crcu, to speak ; Aquila, opiXfja-cu, to 
discourse with God and his own soul. The original word, JlWb, sig 
nifieth to mutter, or such a speaking as is between thoughts and 
words. He made his duty his refreshment and solace at night. So David 
often in this psalm. Reason enforceth it. God, that is a spirit, de- 
serveth the most pure and spiritual worship by the mind, as well as 
that which is performed by the body. Thoughts are the eldest and 
noblest offspring of the soul, and it is fit they should be consecrated to 
converse with God. 

(2d.) It is a necessary duly; not a thing of arbitrary concernment, 
a moral help that may be observed and omitted at our pleasure ; but 
of absolute use, without which all graces wither. Faith is lean unless 
it be fed with meditation on the promises: Ps. cxix. 92, 'I had 
fainted in my affliction, unless thy word had been my delight.' Hope 
is not lively unless we contemplate the thing hoped for, and, with 
Abraham, walk through the land of promise, Gen. xv., and think 
often and seriously on ' the glory of the riches of the inheritance of the 
saints,' Eph. i. 18, and get upon the mount of meditation, upon the 
top of Pisgah, to get a view of the land. So for love ; the more we 
study ' the height, and breadth, and depth of God's love in Christ,' 
Eph. iii. 18, 19, the more is the heart melted and drawn out to God, 
and more quickened to obedience : Ps. xxvi. 3, ' Thy loving-kindness 
is before mine eyes/ And as it helpeth our graces in their exercise, 
so all other duties ; as hearing of the word. To hear and not to medi 
tate is unfruitful. The heart is hard and the memory slippery, the 
thoughts loose and vain ; and therefore, unless we cover the good 
seed, the fowls of the air will catch it away. It is like a thing put 
into a bag with holes lost while it is received : James i. 23, 24, ' Be 
ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own souls ; 
for if a man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man 
beholding his natural face in a glass ; for he beholdeth himself, and 
oeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of person he was/ 
Bare hearing begets but transient thoughts, and leaveth but a weak im 
pression in the soul ; like a flash of lightning, as soon gone as come, 
or the glance of a sunbeam upon a wave. A man never discerneth the 
scope, the beauty, the order of the truths delivered, till he cometh to 
meditate on them, and to go over them again and again in his 


thoughts : Ps. Ixii. 11, c God hath spoken once, twice have I heard 
this,' &c., i.e., when we repeat it upon our thoughts, inculcate it, and 
meditate upon it, this maketh a deeper impression, and that which is 
spoken rebounds again and again ; it is twice heard. David saith, 
Ps. cxix. 99, ' I have more understanding than all my teachers, for thy 
testimonies are my meditation.' The preacher can but lay down general 
theorems and deduce practical inferences ; but that which fasteneth 
them upon the heart is our own thoughts ; and so we come to be 
wiser, to see more clearly and practically as to our own case than he 
that preacheth ; we see a further use than he was aware of. So for 
prayer ; what we take in by the word we digest by meditation, and let 
out by prayer. These three duties help one another. What is the 
reason men have such a barren, dry, and sapless spirit in their 
prayers ? It is for want of exercising themselves in holy thoughts : 
Ps. xlv. 1, ' My heart inditeth a good matter ;' and then * My tongue 
is as the pen of a ready writer.' It alludeth to the mincah, the meat 
offering ; the oil and flour were to be kneaded together, and fried in a 
pan, and so offered to the Lord. When we come with raw dough- 
baked offerings, before we have concocted and prepared our thoughts 
by mature deliberation, we are barren or tumultuary in our prayers to 
God. Prayer is called by the name of meditation, because it is the 
product and issue of it ; as Ps. v. 1, ' Give ear to my words, Lord ; 
consider my meditation/ So Ps. xix. 14, ' Let the words of my mouth, 
and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight ; ' implying 
that prayer is but the vent and expression of what we have deliberated 
and meditated upon. So David findeth his desires more earnest after 
grace, the more he mused and meditated : Ps. cxliii. 5, 6, ' I remember 
the days of old ; I meditate on all thy works ; I muse on the works 
of thy hands ; I stretch forth my hands unto thee ; my soul thirsteth 
after thee as a thirsty land.' Well, then, it is the life and strength of 
other ordinances, without which how slight and perfunctory are we ! 
I might instance in conference ; the stream of good discourse is fed by 
serious thoughts. The Lord's Supper, a duty which is mainly de 
spatched by our thoughts ; there we come to put reason to the highest 
use, .to be the instrument of faith and love ; of faith in believing appli 
cations ; of love, in resolutions of duty and thankfulness. In that one 
ordinance there is a union of mysteries, which we take abroad in 
holy and serious thoughts. To have an unfruitful understanding, then, 
is a great damp and deadness to the heart. Now, we shall never en 
large ourselves in pertinent and savoury thoughts, unless we use to 
meditate ; for spiritual dispositions do not come upon us of a sudden, 
and by rapt motions, but by progressive and orderly degrees and 

(3d.) It' is a profitable duty as to temporals. Isaac went out to 
meditate, and of a sudden he espieth the camels coming upon which 
Kebecca was brought to him, Gen. xxiv. 63, 64. Was this a mere 
accident, think you, or a providence worthy of remark and obser 
vation ? Isaac goes to meet with God, and there he gets the first 
view of his bosom-friend and spouse. This was a mercy cast into the 
bargain. * Godliness hath the promises of this life, and that which is- 
to come.' There is nothing lost by duty and acts of piety. Seneca 


said the Jews were a foolish people, because they lost the full seventh 
part of their lives Septimam cetatis partem perdunt vacando ; in 
tending their sabbath-time. This is the sense of nature, to think all 
lost that is bestowed upon God. Flesh and blood crieth out, What need 
this waste ? they cannot spare time from their callings, they have 
families to maintain. Oh ! let me tell you, by serving God you drive 
on two cares at once. Worldly interests are cast into the way of re 
ligion, and though not designed and intended by us, these things are 
added to us. For comforts and manifestations of God, we have them 
many times in our recess and the privacy of our retirements, in a more 
plentiful manner than elsewhere. ' The spouse inviteth the bride 
groom, Cant. vii. 11, ' Come, my beloved, let us go forth in to the field/ 
Upon which Bernard, sancta anima,fuge publicum, fuge. An nescis 
te verecundum habere sponsum, qui nequaquam tibi velit indulgere 
prcesentiam[suam coram aliis? We have most experiences of God 
when we are alone with him, and sequestered from all distractions of 
company and business, solacing ourselves with God. Exod. iii. 1, 
Moses drove the sheep to the back side of the wilderness, and came to 
the mount of God : he goeth aside from the other shepherds, that he 
might converse with the great Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, and 
there he seeth the vision of the fiery bush. Usually God cometh to 
us in our deep meditation ; when the soul is most elevated, and fittest 
to entertain the comforts of his presence, then we have sensible ex 
perience of God. 

The standing spiritual benefits of meditation are many. It im 
prints and fastens a truth upon the mind and memory. Deliberate 
thoughts stick with us, as a lesson we have conned is not easily for 
gotten. Civet long kept in a box, the scent remaineth when the civet 
is taken out. Sermons meditated on are remembered by us long after 
they are delivered : it sets the heart a-work. The greatest matters 
will not work upon him that doth not think of them. Tell them of 
sin, and God, and Christ, and heaven and hell, and they stir them not, 
because they do not take these truths into their deep thoughts ; or if 
they be stirred a little, it is but a fit, while the truth is held in the 
view of conscience. We had need inculcate things if we would have 
them to affect us. The steel must beat again and again upon the 
flint, if- we would have the sparks fly out ; so must the understanding 
bear hard upon the will, to get out any affection and respect to the 
ways of God. It showeth the beauty of truths. When we look upon 
them in transitu, we do not see half that is in them ; but upon a de 
liberate view it more appeareth ; as there is a secret grace in some, 
that is not discerned but by much converse and narrow inspection. It 
helpeth to prevent vain thoughts. The mind of man is restless, and 
cannot lie idle ; therefore it is good to employ it with good thoughts, 
and set it a-work on holy things ; for then there will be no time and 
heart for vanity, the mind being prepossessed and seasoned already ; 
but when the heart is left to run loose, vanity increaseth upon us. O 
Christians ! meditation is all ; it is the mother and nurse of knowledge 
and godliness, the great instrument in all the offices of grace. We 
resemble the purity and simplicity of God most in the holiness of our 
thoughts. Without meditation we do but talk one after another like 


parrots, and take up things by mere hearsay, and repeat them by 
rote, without affection and life, or discerning the worth and excel 
lency of what we speak. It is meditation that maketh truths always 
ready and present with us : Prov. vi. 21, 22, ' Bind them continually 
upon thy heart ; when thou goest, it shall lead thee ; when thou 
wakest, it shall talk with thee.' But I forbear. 

1. Whereby the mind is applied to serious and solemn considera 
tion. I add this, to distinguish it from occasional meditation, and 
those good thoughts that accidentally rush into our minds, and to 
note the care and attention of soul that we should use in such an 
exercise. It is musing makes the fire burn : glances or transient 
thoughts, or running over a truth in haste, is not meditation, but a 
serious attention of mind. It is not to take a snatch and away, but 
to make a meal of truth, and to work it into our hearts. Alas ! a 
slight thought, that is like a flash of lightning, gone as soon as come, 
doth nothing. Constant thoughts are operative; and a truth, the 
longer it is held in the view of conscience, the more powerful it is : 
Deut. xxxii. 46, * Set your hearts to all the words which I testify 
among you this day/ A sudden thought may be none of ours ; it may 
be unwelcome, and find no entertainment with us, but set your hearts 
to it : Luke ix. 44, ' Let these things sink down into your hearts ; ' 
let them go to the quick: Prov. xviii. 1, 'Through desire a man 
having separated himself, intermeddleth in all wisdom.' Then is a 
man fit for these pure and holy thoughts, for intermeddling in all 
wise and divine matters, when he hath divorced himself from other 
cares, and is able to keep his understanding under a prudent confine 

2. Of the truths which we understand and lelieve. In meditation 
we suppose the object understood ; for it is the work of study to search 
it out, of meditation to enforce and apply it ; and we suppose it be 
lieved and granted to be a truth. The work now is to improve our 
assent, that it may have an answerable force and efficacy upon the 

3. It follows in the description, for practical uses and purposes. 
Meditation is not to store the head with notions, but to better the 
heart. We meditate of God that we may love him and fear him ; of 
sin, that we may abhor it ; of hell, that we may avoid it ; of heaven, 
that we may pursue it. Still the end is practical, to quicken us to 
greater diligence and care in the heavenly life. 

Use 1. To reprove those that are seldom in this work. Worldly 
cares and sloth and ease divert us ; if we had a heart, we would 
have time and leisure. The clean beasts did chew the cud. We 
should go over, and over, and over again the truths of God in our 
thoughts. But alas ! 

1. Either men muse on trifles ; all the day their minds are full of 
chaff and vanity. Oh ! hast thou thoughts for other things, and hast 
thou no thoughts for God's precepts ? Hast thou not a God and a 
Christ to think of ? And is not salvation by him, and everlasting 
glory, worthy of your choicest thoughts ? You have thoughts enough 
and to spare for other things for base things, for very toys and why 
not for God and the word of God ? Why not for Christ and that 

VER. 15.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 145 

everlasting redemption he hath accomplished for us? If a man 
would throw his meat and drink down the kennel, rather than give to 
him that asketh him, the world would cry shame upon him. Will 
you cast away your thoughts upon idle vanities rather than God shall 
have them ? Oh, shame ! Your thoughts must be working. What ! 
shall they run waste, and yet God have no turn ? 

2. Or else men muse on that which is evil. There are many sins 
engross the thoughts. 

[1.] Uncleanness sets up a stage in the heart, whereon a polluted 
fancy personates and acts over the pleasures of that sin. Our thoughts 
are often panders to our lust : 2 Peter ii. 14, ' Having eyes full of 
adultery, and that cannot cease from sin.' The unclean rolling of 
fancy on the beauty of women is forbid : Mat. v. 28, * He that looketh 
on a woman to lust after her hath already committed adultery with 
her in his heart.' 

[2.] Kevenge ; the thoughts of it, how sweet are they to a carnal 
heart ! Men dwell upon their discontents and injuries till, like 
liquors that sour in the vessel when long kept, they sharpen revenge. 
We are apt to concoct anger into malice: 'Frowardness is in his 
heart ; he deviseth mischief continually ; he soweth discord/ Prov. vi. 

[3.] Envy stirreth up repining thoughts ; it is a sin that feedeth 
on the mind : 1 Sam. xviii. 9, ' And Saul envied David from that day 
forward/ David's ten thousands ever ran in Saul's mind. Envy 
muses on the good of others to hate them. 

[4.] Pride, in lofty conceits and whispers of vanity: Luke i. 51, 

* He hath scattered the proud in the imaginations of their hearts/ 
Proud men are full of musings. ' Is not this great Babylon that I 
have built, for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, 
and for the honour of my majesty ? ' Dan. iv. 30. Proud men please 
themselves with the suppositions of applause, and the echoes of praise 
in their minds. 

[5.] Covetousness consists chiefly in a vain musing : Ezek. xxxiii. 
31, ' Their heart goeth after their covetousness ; ' 2 Peter ii. 14, 

* Hearts exercised with covetous practices/ 

Use 2 is of exhortation, to press us to meditate on God's precepts. 
Many think it is an exercise that doth not suit with their temper ; it 
is a good exercise, but for those that can use it. It is true there is a 
great deal of difference among Christians. Some are more serious 
and consistent, and have a greater command over their thoughts; 
others are of a more slight and weak spirit, and less apt for duties of 
retirement and recollection ; but our unfitness is usually moral rather 
than natural, not so much by temper as by ill use. Now, sinful 
indispositions do not disannul our engagements to God, as a servant's 
drunkenness doth not excuse him from work. Inky water cannot 
wash the hands clean. That it is a culpable unfitness appeareth 
partly because disuse and neglect is the cause of it ; those that use it 
have a greater command over the thoughts. Men count it a great 
yoke ; custom would make it easy. Every duty is a help to itself ; 
and the more we meditate the more we may. They that use it much 
find more of sweetness than difficulty in it. If a man did use to 



govern his thoughts, they would come more to hand. Partly, want of 
love. We pause and stay upon such objects as we delight in. Love 
naileth the soul to the object or thing beloved : Ps. cxix. 97, ' Oh, 
how I love thy law ! it is my meditation all the day/ Carnal men 
find no burden in their thoughts ; their heart is in them. Well, then, 
though you have not such choice and savoury thoughts as others 
have, yet set upon the work ; you can think of anything you love. 

Oh ! but, as some press it, it requireth art and skill, and logical dis 
position of places of argumentation. 

Ans. We cannot tie you to a method. Serious thoughts, no ques 
tion, are required, and dealing with the heart about it in the best way 
of reasoning that we can use. Take these directions : 

1. Look how others muse how to commit a sin ; and shall not we 
muse how to redress it ? Wicked men sit a-brood : Isa. lix. 5, ' They 
hatch the cockatrice egg, and weave the spider's web ; they devise 
mischief upon the bed ; ' Micah ii. 1, ' Woe to them that devise mischief 
on their beds.' So do you muse how to carry on the work of the day 
with success : Prov. xvi. 30, * The wicked man shutteth his eyes to 
devise froward things ; ' it signifies his pensive solitary muttering with 

2. As you would persuade others to good. Surely you do not count 
admonition so hard a work. What words you would use to them, use 
the same thoughts to yourself : heart answereth to heart. 

3. You understand a truth ; you have arguments evident and strong 
why you should believe it ; repeat them over to the soul with applica 
tion : Job v. 27, ' See it, and know it for thy good.' This application 
is partly by way of trial, partly by way of charge. By way of trial : 
How is it with thee, my soul ? Eom. viii. 31, ' What shall we say 
to these things ? ' By way of charge and command : Ps. Ixxiii. 28, 
* It is good for me to draw nigh to God ; I have put my trust in the 
Lord, that I might declare all thy works.' 


I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word. 

VEB. 16. 

DAVID had spoken much of his respect to the word, both as to his for 
mer practice and future resolutions. A godly man, the more good 
he doth, the more he desireth, delighteth, and resolveth to do. Spiritual 
affections grow upon us by practice and much exercise. The graces 
of the Spirit and the duties of religion do every one fortify and 
strengthen one another ; lose one, and lose all ; keep one, and keep 
all. Meditation breedeth delight, and delight helpeth memory and 
practice. He had said, ' I will meditate on thy precepts ; ' and now, 
' I will delight myself in thy statutes ; ' and that produceth a further 
benefit, ' I will not forget thy word.' 

The spiritual life is refreshed with change as well as the natural ; 

VER. 16.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 147 

but it is with change of exercise, not of affection. There is hearing, 
praying, conferring, meditating, and all with delight ; for when one 
fontinel is drawn dry, we may, as the lamb doth, suck another that 
will yield new supply and sweetness. David had spoken of his various 
exercises about the word, in the use of all which he would maintain a 
spiritual delight. 

In this verse observe again a double respect to the word of God : 

1. / will delight myself in thy statutes. 

2. I will not forget thy word. 

These are fitly suited. Delight preventeth forgetfulness ; the mind 
will run upon that which the heart is delighted in ; and the heart is 
where the treasure is, Mat. vi. 21. Worldly men, that are intent upon 
carnal interests, forget the word ; it is not their delight. If anything 
displease us, we are glad if we can forget it ; it is some release from an 
inconvenience to take off our thoughts from it ; but it doubleth the 
contentment of a thing that we are delighted in to remember it and 
call it to mind. In the outward school, if a scholar by his own averse- 
ness from learning, or by the severity and imprudence of his master, 
by his morosity or unreasonable exactions, hath no delight in his book, 
all that he learneth is lost and forgotten ; it goeth in at one ear, and 
out at the other : but this is the true art of memory, to cause them to 
delight in what they learn. Such instructions as we take in with a 
sweetness, they stick with us, and run in our minds night and day. So 
saith David here, ' I will delight in thy statutes : I will not forget thy 

Doct. 1. One great respect which the saints owe to the word of God 
is to delight therein. 

David resolveth so to do : 'I will delight/ or solace or recreate my 
self in thy statutes; this should be his refreshment after business. 
David had many things to delight in ; the splendour and magnifi 
cence of his kingdom ; as Nebuchadnezzar, Dan. iv. 30, ' Is not this 
great Babylon that I have built, for the house of the kingdom, by 
the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty ? ' His 
great victories, which Aristotle saith are delightful to all. To 
^Su, ou fjiovov ro? <f>CkovGiKQi<$ d\\a Trdcri,' fyavraGia <yap VTr 
ryiyvercu. It is an appearance of excellency (Arist. Ehet. i. cap. 1 
Or in his instruments of music ; as those, Amos vi. 5, ' that chaunt to 
the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music 
like David.' No ; this was not the mirth that he chose for his portion. 
Wicked men throng their hearts with such delights as these, lest an 
evil conscience flee upon them ; ' but I will delight myself in thy 
statutes.' He might take comfort in a subordinate way in these things ; 
but the solace of his life, and the true sauce of all his labours, was in 
the word of God. As David, so Jeremiah, chap. xv. 16, ' Thy words 
were found, and I did eat them ; they were unto me as the joy and 
rejoicing of my heart.' That was the food and the repast of his soul, 
and he felt more warmth and cherishing in it than any can in their 
bodily food. So Paul : Kom. vii. 22, ' I delight in the law of God in 
the inward man.' Not to know it only, but to feel the power of it pre 
vailing over his lusts ; that was his delight as to the better part of his 
soul. So it is made a general character of the blessed man : Ps. i. 2, 


that ' he delighteth in the law of God, and in that law doth he exer 
cise himself day and night.' God's people will delight in his law ; it 
it is one of the greatest enjoyments they have on this side heaven, in 
the time of their absence from God. It is the instrument of all the 
good that they receive comfort, strength, quickening. 
But now, how do they delight in God's statutes ? 

1. In reading the word. The eunuch, returning from public wor 
ship, was reading a portion of scripture, Acts viii. 28. It is good to 
see with our eyes, and to drink of the fountain ourselves ; if it seem 
dark without the explication of men, God, that sent Philip to the 
eunuch, will send you an interpreter. 

2. In hearing of the word. The command is, James i. 19. ' Where 
fore be swift to hear/ The saints have had experiment of the power 
of it, and therefore delight in it. ' I was glad when they said, Come, 
let us go up unto the house of the Lord,' Ps. cxxii. 1. You should be 
glad of these occasions of hearing, not as, with the minstrel, to please 
the ear, but to warm the heart. Seeing is in heaven, hearing in the 
churches upon earth ; then vision, now hearing. 

3. In conferring of it often. What a man delighteth in he will be 
talking of ; so should you at home and abroad : Deut. vi. 7, ' Thou 
shalt be talking of them when thou sittest in thy house, and as thou 
walkest by the way,' seasoning thy journey. He that would have God 
to be in his journey, as travelling and walking abroad, should be speak 
ing of divine things. 

4. In meditating and exercising his mind upon it : Ps. i. 2, ' He 
delighteth in the law of God, and in that law doth he meditate day 
and night.' Delight causeth a pause or consistency of mind : as the 
glutton rolleth the sweet morsel under his tongue, and is loath to let it 
go, so a godly man's thoughts will run along with his delight. Clean 
beasts chew the cud ; God's children will be ruminating, going over 
the word again and again. 

5. In practice. This delight is not a bare speculation so hypo 
crites have their tastes and their flashes but in believing, practising, 
obeying : Ps. cxix. 14, ' I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies.' 
Delight breedeth obedience, and is increased and doubled by it. It is 
not the delight which an ordinary beholder taketh in a rare piece of 
painting, merely to admire the art ; but the delight which an artist 
taketh in imitating it, and copying it out. Here in the text it is ' in thy 
statutes.' A gracious heart is alike affected with the rule as the pro 
mise ; not only with discoveries of grace, but discoveries of duty. 

Now thus it must be ordinarily. 

1. The duties of every day must be carried on with delight. This 
must be our divertisement, and the refreshment of our other labours, 
that when tired out with the incumbrances of the world, we may look 
upon reading, meditating, hearing, as our recreation, and the salt and 
solace of our lives, that other things may go down the better. The 
labours of the mind do relieve those of the body, and those of the body 
those of the mind. Ainsworth saith, the word in the text signifieth, 
' I will solace and recreate myself ; ' and Ps. i. 2, ' His delight is in 
the law of the Lord, and in that law doth he exercise himself day and 
night/ as was before cited. 

VER. 16.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 149 

2. Especially upon the Lord's day: Isa. Iviii. 13, 'Thou shalt call 
the sabbath a delight ; ' call it so, that is, account it so. When our 
whole time is to be parted into meditation, and prayer, and hearing, 
and conference, then it is our advantage to lie in the bosom of God 
all the day long. A bell is kept up with less difficulty when it is once 
raised ; and when the heart is once got up, it is the better kept up in 
a holy delight in God. 

The reasons of it are two 

1. The word of God deserveth it. 

2. This delight will be of great use to them. 
First, The word of God deserveth it. 

1. In regard to the author, they delight in it for the author's sake, be 
cause it is the signification of his mind ; as a letter from a beloved friend 
is very welcome to us. Aristotle, mentioning the causes of delight, 
saith (Rhet. i. cap. 11), ( Ou epwzn-e?, KOI Bia\ey6fjLvoi, /cal typdfovres, 
KOI iroLovwres ael TI Trepl rov epco/juevov ^alpovcnv lovers are mightily 
pleased when they hear anything of the party beloved, or receive any 
thing from them, a letter or a token. The word is God's epistle and 
love-letter to ourselves ; it is the more welcome for his sake. The con 
trary God complaineth of : Hosea viii. 12, ' I have written to them 
the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.' 
God is the author, whosoever be the penman ; it is a writing from him 
to us. Now, to be strangers to it, or little conversant about it, argueth 
some contempt of God ; as to slight the letter of a friend showeth 
little esteem of the writer. But now the saints put it into their 
bosoms, view it with delight, it is God's epistle. 

2. In regard of its own excellency, in three respects ; it is 
~1.J Their direction. 

2/ Their support. 

3. Their charter. 

1 .] It is their direction ; it is ' a light that shines in a dark place/ 
2 Peter i. 19. The world is a dark place, beset with dangers, and 
ever and anon we are apt to stumble into the pit of destruction, with 
out taking heed to this light. The word discovereth to them evils, 
that they may see them, repent of them, forsake them ; and showeth 
us our ready way to heaven, that we may walk therein. It discovereth 
the greatest dangers, and pointeth out the surest way to safety and 
peace. They are called true laws and good statutes, Neh. ix. 13, to 
show the full proportion that they bear to the soul. Verum and 
lonum, truth and goodness, are proper for our most eminent faculties, 
the understanding and will. It doth a man's heart good to study 
these statutes. A child of God, that seeth others stumble and fall, 
how may he stand and bless God for the direction of the word, that 
God hath given him counsel in his reins, that he hath a clue to lead 
him out of those labyrinths in which others have lost their way, and 
know not know to escape ! 

[2.] It is their support. The word is KOIVOV larpelov, as Basil 
expresseth it. It is God's shop, from whence they fetch all their 
cordials in a time of fainting, and so are freed from those fears and 
discontents and despairing thoughts under which others languish: 
Ps. cxix. 50, ' This is my comfort in my affliction, thy word hath 


quickened me.' When a believer is damped with trouble, and even 
dead at heart, a promise will revive him again : ver. 92, ' Unless thy 
law had been my delight, I had perished in my affliction.' And many 
such like experiences the saints have had. The worth of the word is 
best known in an evil time. One promise in the word of God doth 
bear up the heart more than all the arguings and discourses of men, 
though never so excellent. In time of temptation, in the hour of 
death, oh, what a reviving is one word of God's mouth ! 

[3.] It is their charter, that which they have to show for their ever 
lasting hopes. There we have promises of eternal joy and blessedness 
under the greatest assurance, and this makes way for strong con 
solation, Heb. vi. 18. A man that hath a clear evidence to show 
for a fair inheritance, it is not irksome to hear it read, or to look over 
it now and then, as a covetous man is pleased to look into his bills and 
bonds which he has under hand and seal. 

Secondly, This delight will be of great use to them. 

1. To draw us off from carnal vanities. We have another delight, 
and the strength of the soul runneth out in another way ; there will 
not be such room for worldly affections. As fear is cured with fear, 
the fear of men with the fear of God, so is delight by delight ; delight 
in God's statutes is the cure of delight in worldly things. Love cannot 
lie idle, it must be occupied one way or another ; either carried out to 
the contentments of the flesh, or else to holy things. Now, if you can 
find a more noble delight, there is a check upon that which is carnal : 
Ps. cxix. 37, * Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, and 
quicken thou me in thy way/ The enlargement of the heart straitens 
the flesh. 

2. It will take off the tediousness of religious exercises. What we 
delight in is not irksome. In hunting, fowling, and fishing, though 
there be as much labour as in our ordinary employments, yet we count 
the toil nothing because of the delight in them. We are very apt to 
be weary of well-doing, and to tire in a holy course ; but now, when it 
is our delight, it goeth on the more easily. In one sense we must 
make religion our business, in another, our recreation ; our work to pre 
vent slackness, our recreation to prevent tediousness ; it is not a task, 
but a pleasure. 

Use 1. This informeth us of the ill choice that many men make of 
their delights and recreations; they must have cards and dice and 
foolish mirth to pass away the time, or else idle stories and vain 
romances. A Christian is everywhere like himself ; he showeth him 
self a Christian in his recreations as well as his business. Castce 
delicicemecesuntscripturce tuce, saith Austin Lord, my chaste delights 
are thy Holy Scriptures. If we were as we should be, it would be 
our recreation to understand our duty, to contemplate the way of 
reconciliation to God by Christ, and to take a view of our everlasting 
hopes. Were we seriously persuaded of the benefits which men have 
by the word, that there is a sure direction to resolve our doubts and 
our scruples, and the offers of a pardon and a glorious estate by Christ, 
what need a Christian any other recreation ? Will not the sense of 
God's love and the hopes of heaven make us merry enough ? Indeed, 
because of the weariness of the flesh, we need temporal refreshments ; 

VER. 16.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 151 

but here should be our great delight, ' I will solace or recreate myself 
in thy statutes/ 

Use 2. Caution to us to fix our delight aright. 

1. It is a considerable affection. All the affections depend upon 
pleasure or pain, delight or grief the one is proper to the body, the 
other to the soul which grow from the contentment or distaste which 
we receive from the divers objects which we meet with. If we love, 
it is for that we find a sweetness in the object beloved ; if we hate, we 
apprehend a trouble in what we hate ; if we hope, we promise ourselves 
a happiness or satisfaction in the possession of the thing hoped for : 
if we despair, it is because the thing cannot be obtained from which 
our contentment would arise. Desire is of some good which we judge 
pleasing. By fear and flight we shun things which we apprehend 
would breed us vexation. So that, in effect, delight sets all the other 
affections a-work. 

2. It is a choice affection, more proper to ruition than use, and 
therefore not for the means so much as end, and so reserved for God, 
who is the last end. There arefruenda and utenda, God and heavenly 
things to be enjoyed, but earthly things to be used : for means, those 
that are in the nearest vicinity to the end, as the law of God and 
grace : earthly things are to be used with a kind of indifferency, and 
therefore should have little of our joy; but our solid complacency 
must be in God, next in the things of God, his law and grace, which 
are means in the nearest vicinity with our end : Ps. xxxvii. 4, * Delight 
thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thy heart ;' 
Phil. iv. 4, ' Kejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Kejoice.' 

3. Delight, if not right set, of all the affections, is apt to degenerate. 
We have a liberty to delight in earthly things ; the affection is allowed, 
the excess is forbidden. Thou mayest delight in the wife of thy youth, 
in thy children, estate, in the provisions heaped upon thee by the 
indulgence of God's providence. Pleasure is the sauce of life, to 
better digest our sorrows. It is allowed us, but it must be well 
guarded. We are most apt to surfeit of pleasant things, and to mis 
carry by sweet affections. Sorrow is afflictive and painful, and will 
in time wear away of itself. Pleasure is ingrained in our natures, 
born and bred with us ; and therefore, though we may delight in the 
moderate use of the refreshments of the present life, in estate, honour, 
reputation, yet we should take heed of excess, that our hearts be not 
overjoyed, and too much taken up about these things. Carnal joy is 
the drunkenness of the mind ; it besotteth us, maketh us unmindful of 
God, weakens our esteem of his favour and blessing ; it chaineth us to 
present things. Pleasure is the great witch and sorceress that enchants 
with the love of the world, maketh us unmindful of the country whence 
we came, and whither we are going ; therefore we should be jealous 
of our delight, and how we bestow it. 

Use 3. To exhort us to this delight in God's statutes, or this spiri 
tual rejoicing. 

1. Here is no danger of exceeding ; the greatest excesses here are 
most praiseworthy. In other things we must exercise it with jealousy, 
feed with fear, rejoice as if we rejoiced not. A man may easily go 
beyond his bounds when he rejoiceth in the creature ; but here enlarge 


thy heart as much as is possible, and take thy fill of pleasure : Cant. 
v. 1, * Eat, friends ; drink, yea, drink abundantly, beloved/ This 
is ebrietas quce nos castos facit chaste flagons : Eph. v. 18, ' Be not 
drunk with wine, wherein is excess ; but be ye filled with the Spirit/ 

2. We shall never be ashamed of these joys: 2 Cor. i. 12, ' Our 
rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience,' &c. All carnal joys 
have a turpitude affixed to them, and therefore affect to lie hid under 
a veil of secrecy. The world would cry shame of him that would say 
of his bags or his dishes, Here is my joy. As much as men affect 
these things, yet they desire to conceal them from the knowledge of 

3. We shall never be weary of these joys. The delights of the 
senses become nauseous and troublesome; our natural dispositions 
become weary and importunate ; a man must have shift and change, 
pleasures refreshed with other pleasures. But these delights add per 
fection to nature; therefore, when fully enjoyed, they delight most. 
A good conscience is a continual feast, a dish we are never weary of. 
The blessed spirits in heaven are never weary of beholding the face of 
God. God is new and fresh every moment to them. The contem 
plation of such excellent objects doth not overcharge and weaken the 
spirits, but doth raise and fortify them. It is true, the corporeal 
powers being weak, may be tired in such an employment, as much 
reading is a weariness to the flesh ; but the object doth not grow dis 
tasteful, as in carnal things. 

How shall we get it ? 

1. Get a suitableness to the word. Every man's delights are as his 
principles : Kom. viii. 5, ' They that are after the flesh, do mind the 
things of the flesh ; but they that are after the spirit, the things of the 
spirit/ A man is much discovered by his savour and relish of things. 
All creatures must have suitable food. There must be a suitableness 
between the faculty and the object ; spiritual things are spiritually 

2. Be in a condition to delight in the word. A guilty soul readeth 
its own doom there ; it revealeth themselves to themselves, accuseth 
and condemneth them. As Ahab said of Micaiah, ' He prophesieth 
evil against me,' and therefore could not endure to hear him : John 
iii. 20, * Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh he 
to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved/ 

3. Purge the heart from carnal distempers, lust, envy, covetousness r 
love of pleasures; these are diseases that need other diet than the 
word. Such persons must have other solaces ; they cater for the flesh, 
to please the senses. An earthly heart will not delight in spiritual 

Dock It standeth God's children upon to see that they do not forget 
the word. 

1. What is it to forget the word ? A man may remember or forget 
two ways notionally and affectively. 

[1.] Notionally, when the notions of things formerly known are 
either altogether or in part worn out : James i. 25, ' He is like one 
that looks at his natural face in a glass, but goeth away, and straightway 
forgetteth what manner of person he was.' 

VER. 16.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 153 

[2.] Affectively, when, though, he still retain the notions, yet he is 
not answerably affected, nor doth act according thereunto. Thus the 
butler did not remember Joseph; that is, did not pity him. Thus 
God is said not to remember the sins of them that repent, when he 
doth not punish them, and to forget the afflictions of his people, when 
lie doth not deliver them ; and we are said to forget God, Ps. cvi. 21, 
when we do not obey him, and to forget his word when we do not 
'remember his commandments to do them,' Ps. ciii. 18. In this place 
both are intended, the notional and practical remembrance. 

2. The reasons why we should not forget his word. 

[1.] Meditation will fail else. A barren, lean soul is unfit to enlarge 
itself in holy thoughts, shall never grow rich in the spiritual under 
standing: Col. iii. 16, ' Let the word of God dwell in you richly, in 
all knowledge/ &c. Men of small substance grow rich by continual 
saving, and holding together what they have gotten ; but if they spend 
it as fast as they get it, they cannot be rich : Luke ii. 19, ' Mary kept 
all these sayings, and pondered them in her heart/ 

[2.] Delectation will grow cold, unless the memory be rubbed up 
ever and anon. When they fainted under affliction, the cause is in 
timated : Heb. xii. 5, * Have ye forgotten the exhortation that speaketh 
unto you as unto children ? ' Distrust in straits is from the same source : 
Mark viii. 17, 'They remembered not the miracle of the loaves, for 
their hearts were hardened. Ye see and hear, and do not remember. 
David was under great discomfort till he ' remembered the years of the 
right hand of the Most High/ Ps. Ixxvii. 10 ; Lam. iii. 21, This I 
recall to mind, therefore I have hope.' 

[3.] Practice and conscience of obedience will grow more remiss; 
Nothing keepeth the heart in a holy tenderness so much as a presence 
of the truth ; and when we can bring our knowledge to act, and have 
it for our use upon all occasions, it urgeth us to practice : James i. 25, 
being ' not a forgetful hearer, but a doer.' Most of our sins are sins 
of forgetf ulness and incogitancy. Peter would never have been so bold 
and daring, and done what he did, if he had remembered Christ's pre 
diction. The text saith, Luke xxii. 61, ' When he remembered, he 
wept bitterly.' A bad memory is the occasion of much mischief to the 
soul, when we do not call truths to mind in their season, and when 
fit occasion and opportunity is offered. Memory is a handmaid to- 
understanding and conscience, and keeps truths, and brings them forth 
when called for. 

Use is to press us to caution. Let us not forget the word. Helps 
to memory are : 

1. Attention. Men remember what they heed and regard : Prov. 
iv. 21, * Attend to my sayings ; keep them in the midst of thy heart.' 
Where there is attention, there will be retention. Oh 1 lay up truths 
with much earnestness and care. Sensitive memory is seated in the 
hinder part of the head, as one would say in a chamber backward, from 
the noise of the street. Now, oh ! lay up truth safe, and lay it out when 
ever you have need. But rational memory lieth near the understanding 
and conscience, in the midst of thine heart. Eeverence in the admis 
sion of the word helps us in the keeping of it : Heb. ii. 1, ' Let us take 
hoed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time they slip front 


us.' If we did receive it with, more heed, we would retain it with more 
constancy ; lay them up, keep them choicely. 

2. Affection, that is a great friend to memory. What we esteem 
most we best remember. Omnia quce curant senes meminerunt an 
old man will not forget where he laid his bag of gold. Delight and 
love will renew and revive the object upon our thoughts. Here in the 
text we have this truth asserted, ' I will delight myself in thy statutes: 
I will not forget thy word.' Affection to truths cometh from the 
application. In a public edict a man will be sure to carry away what 
is proper to his case. 

3. Meditation. We must be often viewing and meditating of what 
we have laid up in the memory. It availeth not to the health of the 
body to eat much, but to digest what is eaten. Tumultuary reading 
and hearing, without meditation, is like greedy swallowing much meat. 
When little is thought on, it doth not turn to profit. This concocteth 
and digesteth what we have heard. The more a thing is revolved in 
the mind, the deeper impression it maketh. 

4. Beware of inuring the mind to vain thoughts ; for this distracts 
it, and hindereth the impression of things upon it. The face is not 
seen in running waters ; nor can things be written in the memory, 
unless the mind be close and fixed. Lead is capable of engraving, 
because it is firm and solid ; but quicksilver, because it is fluid, will 
not admit it. An inconsistent, wandering mind reapeth little fruit 
from what is read or heard. 

5. Order is a help to memory. Heads of doctrine are as cells 
wherein to bestow all things that are heard from the word. He that 
is well instructed in the principles of religion will most easily and 
firmly remember divine truths. Metliodus est catena memories, to 
link truths one to another, that we may consider them in their pro 

6. Get a lively sense of what you hear or read, and you will re 
member it by a good token : Ps. cxix. 93, ' I will never forget thy 
precepts, for by them thou hast quickened me.' They that are 
quickened by a sermon will never forget such a sermon. 

7. Holy conference. The speaking often of good things keeps them 
in the heart ; and the keeping of them there causeth us to speak to 
those that are about. 

8. Get the memory sanctified, as well as other faculties, and pray 
for the Spirit ; for that faculty is corrupted as well as others. 


Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy 
word. VEB. 17. 

IN the former part we heard of the virtue and excellency of the word, 
and therefore how much the saints desire to understand it, meditate of 
it, speak of it, and transfer it into their practice. Now, whosoever will 
resolve upon such a course, will necessarily be put upon prayer ; for 

TEE. 17.] SEKMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 155 

mark how David's purposes and prayers are intermingled, I will, and 
/ will ; and then presently prayeth again, ' Deal bountifully with thy 
servant, that I may live, and keep thy word.' 
In this request observe 

1. It is generally expressed, together with his own relation to God, 
deal bountifully ivith thy servant. 

2. It is particularly explained wherein he would have this bounty 
expressed : 

[1.] In the prorogation of his life, that I may live. 

[2.] In the continuance of his grace, and keep thy word; the one 
in order to the other. David doth not simply pray for life, but in order 
to such an end ; and the general request concerneth both parts, yea, 
rather the latter than the former, that whilst I live I may keep thy 
word, as counting that to be the greatest benefit or argument of God's 
bounty, to have a heart framed to the obedience of his will. 

I might observe many things ; as (1.) What a great honour it is to 
be God's servant. David, a great king, giveth himself this title, ' thy 
servant \ and Constantine counted it a greater honour to be a Christian 
than to be head of the empire. (2.) That all we have or expect cometh 
from God's bounty to us. So doth David express himself, * Deal 
bountifully with thy servant;' as intimating not only the measure, 
but the rise and source of what he expected from God. (3.) That 
among all the benefits which we expect from the bounty of God, this 
is one of the greatest, to have an heart to ' keep his word.' (4.) God's 
word must not only be understood, but obeyed ; for this is the mean 
ing of keeping the word : John xiv. 21, ' He that hath my command 
ments, and keepeth them,' &c. Hath implieth knowledge. We must 
have them before we can keep them ; but when we have them, we 
must keep them, and do what we know. But omitting all these points, 
which will be more fitly discussed elsewhere, I shall only point out 
two lessons : 

1. The cause of life, and that is God's bounty. 

2. The end and scope of life ; God's service. 

First, The cause of life, deal bountifully with thy servant , that I 
may live. Observe 

Doct. The prorogation of our lives is not the fruit of our merits, but 
the free grace of God. 

1. Long life is in itself a blessing, and so promised, though more in 
the Old Testament than in the New, when eternity was more sparingly- 
revealed. That it is promised as a blessing is evident : Prov. xxviii. 
16, ' He that hateth covetousness shall prolong his days.' And in 
the fifth commandment : Exod. xx. 12, ' That thy days may be long 
in the land of the living.' So Ps. xci. 16, * With long life will I satisfy 
him, and show him my salvation ; ' not only Leaven hereafter, but 
long life here. It is in itself a benefit, a mercy to the godly and the 
wicked. To the godly, that they may not be gathered till ripe ; for 
God hath set a mark upon it : Prov. xvi. 31, * The hoary head is a 
crown of glory, if it be found in a way of righteousness.' It is some 
kind of resemblance of God, who is the Ancient of days. It was a title 
of honour, ' Paul the aged.' It giveth many advantages of glorifying 
God, and doing good to others. It is no small benefit to those that 


employ it well. To those that are in a state of sin, the continuance of 
life is a mercy, as it affords them time to repent and reconcile themselves 
to God. And the contrary is threatened as a curse : Eccles. viii. 13, 
' He shall not prolong his days, because he feareth not God.' For 
wicked men to have the sun go down at noon-day, and to be cut off 
before their preparations or expectations, and so thrown headlong into 
hell by a speedy death, is a great misery. 

2. It is such a mercy as we have by God's gift. He is interested in 
it upon a double account. 

[1.] There is a constant providential influence and supportation, by 
which we are maintained in life, and without which all creatures vanish 
into nothing ; as the beams of the sun are no longer continued in the 
air than the sun shineth, or as the impress is retained no longer upon 
the waters than the seal is kept on. When God suspendeth his pro 
vidential influence and supportation, all doth vanish and disappear : 
Heb. i. 3, ' He upholdeth all things by the word of his power ;' as a 
weighty thing is held up in the air by the hand that sustaineth it, 
or the vessels of the house hang upon ' a nail in a sure place.' God, 
that made all things by his word, upholdeth all things by the same 
word. A word made the world, and can undo the world. So Acts 
xvii. 28, ' In him we live and move and have our being/ We cannot 
draw breath without him for a moment ; as the pipe hath no breath 
but what the musician puts into it. We can neither see, nor hear, 
nor eat, nor drink, without this intimate support and influence from 
him. The scripture sets it out by a man's holding a thing in his hand : 
Job xii. 10, ' In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the 
breath of all mankind/ Now, if God do but loosen his hand, his 
almighty grasp, all cometh to nothing : Job vi. 9. ' Let him loose his 
hand, and cut me off/ Life, and the comforts of life, depend upon 
God in every kind. 

[2.] There is a watchful eye and care of his providence over his 
people, whereby their life is preserved against all the dangers where 
with it is assaulted. God taketh care of all his creatures : Ps. xxxvi. 6,. 
'He preserveth man and beast;' but man much more : 1 Cor. ix. 9, 
'Doth God take care of oxen?' He dealeth bountifully with his 
enemies, but much more doth he ' preserve the feet of his saints/ 1 Sam. 
ii. 9. The care of his providence hath its degrees ; it is more intensively- 
exercised about things of worth and value, and most of all about the 
life of his saints. When Sa.tan had a commission to exercise Job, first 
his person was exempted : Job i. 12, ' Upon himself put not forth thy 
hand ;' next his life: Job ii. 6, 'Behold he is in thy hand, but save 
his life/ A godly man hath an invisible guard and hedge round 
about him. We are not sensible of it ; but Satan, who is our enemy, 
he is sensible of it : when he would make his assault, he cannot find 
a gap and breach, till God open it to him. Both these notions are 
sufficient to possess us how much God is interested in prolonging 
our lives. 

3. The next thing is, that we have it by the mere bounty and free 
grace of God. It is not from his strict remunerative justice, but his 
kind love and tender mercy. The air we breathe in, we have it not 
by merit, but by grace : Lam. iii. 22, ' It is of the Lord's mercies that 

VER. 17.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 157 

we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not/ The reasons 
.are two: 

SI.] We deserve nothing at his hand. 
2.1 We deserve the contrary. 

(1.) We cannot merit of God : Job. xxii. 2, ' Can a man be profit 
able to God, as he that is wise is profitable to himself ? ' Job xxxv. 7, 
1 If thou be righteous, what givest thou him ? or what receiveth he at 
thy hand?' Whatever God doth for creatures, he doth it freely, 
because he cannot be obliged or pre-engaged by us. In innocency 
Adam could impetrare, but not mereri obtain it by covenant, not 
challenge by desert. Therefore God conferreth as freely as he createth. 

(2.) If God would deal with us upon terms of merit, we cannot give 
him a valuable compensation for temporal life Gen. xxxii. 10, ' I am 
less than the least of all thy mercies/ None of God's mercies can 
simply be said to be little ; whatever cometh from the great God 
should be great in our value and esteem ; as a small remembrance 
from a great king. Yet in comparison between the blessings, one 
may be said to be least, the other greatest. Temporal life with its 
appendages, compared with spiritual and eternal, is in the rank of his 
least mercies. God giveth life to the plants, to the trees, to the beasts 
of the field ; and yet, when we and our deservings come into the 
balance, we are found wanting: 'I am not worthy,' &c. All our 
righteousness doth not deserve the air we breathe in. It is so defec 
tive, if a man were to pay for his life, it could not merit the continu 
ance of it. 

[2.] We have deserved the contrary ; we have put ourselves out of 
God's protection by sin. Death waylaid us when we were in our 
mother's womb ; and as soon as we were born, there was a sentence in 
force against us : * Death came upon all, for that all have sinned/ Kom. v. 
12 ; and still we continue the forfeiture, and every day provoke God 
to cut us off; so that it is a kind of pardoning mercy that continueth 
us every moment. Of this we are most sensible in case of danger and 
sickness, when there is but a step between us and death ; for then the 
old bond beginneth to be put in suit, and God cometh to execute the 
sentence of the law ; and deliverance in such a case is called forgiveness 
and remission, and that even to the wicked and impenitent. As 
Ps. Ixxviii. 38, ' And he, being full of compassion, forgave their 
iniquity, and destroyed them not/ It is called a remission improperly, 
because it was a reprieve for the time from the temporal judgment ; 
it was not an executing the sentence, or a destroying the sinner 
presently ; and that not from anything in the sinner, but from God's 
pity over him as his creature. But now a godly man hath a true 
pardon renewed at such time, and he is ' loved from the grave ; ' for 
so it is in the Hebrew : Isa. xxxviii. 17, * Thou hast loved my soul 
from the pit of destruction/ To be loved out of a danger, and loved 
out of a sickness, oh ! that is a blessed thing. 

Use 1. To acknowledge the Lord's goodness in these common 
mercies. We did not give life to ourselves, and we cannot keep it 
in ourselves. God made us, and God keepeth us. It was not our 
parents that fashioned us in the womb ; they could not tell what the 
child would prove, male or female, beautiful or deformed. They 


could not tell the number or posture of the veins, or bones, or muscles ; 
it was all the curious workmanship of a wise God ; and it is the same 
God that hath kept us hitherto : Isa. xlvi. 3, 4, ' By me ye are borne from 
the belly, and carried from the womb ; even to old age I am he, and 
even to hoar hairs will I carry you/ &c. We have been supported 
and tenderly handled by God, as parents and nurses carry their 
younglings in their arms. Many times wanton children are ready to 
scratch the faces of those that carry them; so have we put many 
affronts upon him, yet to the very last doth he carry us in the arms of 
his providence. In infancy we were not in a capacity to know the 
God of our mercies, and to look after him ; but nevertheless he looked 
after us. Afterwards we knew how to grieve him and offend him, 
long before how to love and serve him. Oh, how early did our 
naughty hearts appear ! and all along how little have we done for 
God, ' in whom we live and move and have our being ! ' ' He is not 
far from us,' in the effects of his care and providence ; but we are far 
from him by the distance of our thoughts and affections, by the carnal 
bent of our hearts. It is a good morning exercise for us humbly and 
thankfully to consider of his continual mercies. For God's * com 
passions are new every morning/ Lam. iii. 22 as fresh as if never 
tired with former acts of grace, nor wearied with former offences. It 
is some recompense for the time of sleep ; half our time passeth away, 
and we do not show one act of love and kindness unto God ; therefore, 
as soon as we are awakened we should be with God, Ps. cxxxix. 18. 
How many are gone down to the chambers of death since the last 
night ! 

2. It quickeneth us to love and serve God, who is ' the strength of 
our lives, and the length of our days/ Deut. xxx. 20. Thy life is 
wholly in God's hands. Man cannot add a cubic to his stature, nor 
make one hair white or black at his own pleasure. It is the Lord's 
providential influence that keepeth thee alive ; in point of gratitude, 
thou shouldst serve him : * Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I 
may live.' But I may urge also, in point of hope, God's servants can 
best recommend themselves to his care and keeping by prayer, and 
expect to walk continually under divine protection. Those that pro 
voke God continually, they may be continued by the bounty and in 
dulgence of his providence ; but yet they can look for no such thing, 
and in the issue it proveth to be in wrath, for their sins are more and 
judgments greater : it is but to ' treasure up wrath to the day of wrath/ 

3. If life temporal be the fruit of God's bounty, much more life 
eternal : Eom. vi. 23, * The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God 
is eternal life.' One is wages, the other a gift. 

4. It informeth us that we may lawfully pray for life, with sub 
mission to the will of God, and that death may not come upon us 
suddenly, contrary to the ordinary course of nature. I was loath to 
make a distinct doctrine of it, yet I could not decline the giving out 
of this truth. 

How will this stand with our desires of dissolution, and willingness 
to depart and to be with Christ, which certainly all Christians that 
believe eternity should cherish in their hearts ? 

To this I answer 1. By concession ; that we are to train up our- 


selves in an expectation of our dissolution, that we may be willing 
when the time is come, and God hath no more work for us to do in 
the world ; we are to awaken our desires after the presence of Christ 
in heaven, to show both our faith in him and love to him. Since 
Christ was willing to come down to us, though it were to meet 
with shame and pain, why should we be loath to return to him? 
Jacob's spirit revived when he saw the waggons which Joseph sent 
to carry him. Death is the chariot to carry you to Christ, and there 
fore it should not be unwelcome to us. 

2. By correction ; though it be lawful and expedient to desire 
death, yet we are not anxiously to long after it till the time come ; 
there may be sin in desiring death, as when we grow weary of life out 
of desperation, and the tiresomeness of the cross ; and there may be 
grace in desiring life, that we may keep his word, longer express 
our gratitude to him here in the world, to mourn for sin, to promote 
his glory. More fully to make this evident to you, I shall show 
how we may desire death, how not. To answer in several proposi 
tions : 

[1.] There is a great deal of difference between serious desires and 
passionate expressions. The desires of the children of God are 
deliberate and resolved, conceived upon good grounds, after much 
struggling with flesh and blood to bring their hearts to it. Carnal 
men are loath that God should take them at their word ; as he in the 
fable that called for death, and when he came, desired him to help 
him up with his burden. Alas ! they do not consider what it is to be 
in the state of the dead, and to come unprovided and unfurnished into 
God's presence. We often wish ourselves in our graves ; but if God 
should take us at our word, we would make many pauses and excep 
tions. Men that in their miseries call for death, when sickness cometh 
will run to the physician, and promise many things if they may be 
recovered. None more unwilling to die than those that in a passion 
wish for death. 

[2.] We must carefully look to the grounds of these wishes and 
desires. First, Carnal wishes for death arise either (1.) Out of 
violent anger and a pet against providence ; as Jonah iv. 8, ' The 
sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in him 
self to die, and said, It is better for me to die than live/ The 
children of Israel murmured when they felt the famine of the wilder 
ness : Exod. xvi. 3, ' And the children of Israel said unto them, 
Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of 
Egypt/ &c. When men are vexed with the world, they look upon 
death as a relief, to take vengeance upon God, to deprive him of a 
servant. (2.) In deep sorrow ; as Job iii. 3 ; Elijah, 1 Kings xix. 4 : 
' He requested for himself that he might die ; and he said, It is enough : 
now, Lord, take away my life, for I am not better than my fathers.' 
(3.) From the peevishness of fond and doting love : 2 Sam. xviii. 33, 
' A nd the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over 
the gate and wept : and as he went, thus he said, O Absalom, my 
son, would God I had died for thee ! Absalom, my son, my son ! ' 
like the wives of the East Indians, that burn themselves to follow 
their dead husbands. (4.) From distrust and despair, when the evil 


is too hard to be resisted or endured : Job vii. 15, ' My soul chooseth 
strangling and death rather than my life.' In all these cases it is but 
a shameful retreat from the conflict and burden of the present life, 
from carnal irksomeness under the calamity, or a distrust of God's 
help. There ma) 7 be murder in a rash wish, if it proceed from a 
vexed heart. These are but froward thoughts, not a sanctified resolu 
tion. Secondly, Such desires of death and dissolution as are lawful, 
and must be cherished, come from a good ground, from a heart cruci 
fied and deadened to the world, and set on things above : Col. iii. 1, 
' If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, 
where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God/ From a competent 
assurance of grace : Rom. viii. 23, ' Even we ourselves groan within 
ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our 
body.' From some blessed experience of heavenly comforts, having 
tasted the fruits, clusters of Canaan, they desire to be there. So 
Simeon : Luke ii. 29, ' Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in 
peace according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation ; ' 
the eyes of his faith, as well as the eyes of his body. Now, Lord, I do 
but wait, as a merchantman richly laden desireth to be at his port. 
A great love to Christ excites desires to be with him : Phil. i. 23, 
* I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be 
with Christ, which is far better ; ' Phil. iii. 19, 20, ( For our conversa 
tion is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord 
Jesus Christ.' They long to see and be where he is ; heart and head 
should be together. Weariness of sin, and a great zeal for God's 
glory, are powerful incentives in the saints : Kom. vii. 23, ' wretched 
man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ? ' 
They would be in heaven, that they may sin no more. 

JB.] You must look to the end ; not have a blind notion of heaven, 
look for a Turkish paradise full of ease and plenty; a carnal 
heaven, as the Jews looked for a carnal Messiah ; but for a state of 
perfect union and communion with the blessed and holy God. 

[4.] The manner must be regarded ; it must be done with sub 
mission, Phil. i. 24 ; otherwise we encroach upon God's right, and 
would deprive him of a servant without his leave. A Christian will 
die and live as the Lord willeth ; if it be the Lord's pleasure, a be 
liever is satisfied with long life : Ps. xci. 16, ' With long life will I 
satisfy him, and show him my salvation;' he will 'wait till the 
change come,' when God shall give him a discharge by his own imme 
diate hand, or by enemies. God knoweth how to choose the fittest 
time, otherwise we know not what we ask. 

Secondly, Now let me speak of the scope of our lives. David 
simply doth not desire life, but in order to service. The point is 

That if we desire long life, we should desire it to glorify God by 
obedience to his word. 

Let me give you some instances, then reasons. 

1. Instances : Ps. cxviii. 17, ' I shall not die, but live, and declare 
the works of the Lord.' This was David's hope in the prolongation 
of life, that he should have farther opportunity to honour God ; and 
this argument he urgeth to God when he prayeth for life : Ps. vi. 5, 
1 For in death there is no remembrance of thee ; in the grave who 

VER. 17.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 161 

shall give thee thanks ? ' It would be better for him to be with God ; 
but then the life is worth the having, when the extolling of Christ is 
the main scope at which we aim. So Paul : Phil. i. 20, ' According 
to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be 
.ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also, Christ 
shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death/ &c. 
Paul was in some hesitation which he should choose, life or death ; and 
lie determineth of both as God might be magnified by either of them, 
and so was at a point of indifference. If God should give him his 
option or wish, he would give the case back again to God, to determine 
as it might be most for his service and glory. He was not swayed by 
any low and base motives of contentment in the world, or any low and 
creature enjoyments ; these are contemptible things to come into the 
balance with everlasting glory. It was only his service in the gospel, 
and the public good of the church, that made the case doubtful. 

Beas. 1. This is the perfection of our lives, and that which maketh 
it to be life indeed. Communion with God is the vitality of it, without 
which we are rather dead than alive. Life natural we have in common 
with the beasts and plants ; but in keeping the word, we live the life 
of God: Eph. iv. 18, 'Having the understanding darkened, being 
alienated from the life of God/ To natural men it is a gloomy thing ; 
but to believers this is the life of life, and that which is the joy of their 
hearts. To increase in stature, and to grow bulky, that is the life of 
plants ; the greatest and biggest of the kind are most perfect. To 
live and enjoy pleasures without remorse, that is the perfection and 
life of beasts, that have no conscience, that shall not be called to an 
account. To gratify present interests, and to be able to turn and 
wind worldly affairs, that is the life of carnal men, that have no sense 
of eternity. But the perfection of the life of man as a reasonable 
creature is to measure our actions by God's word, and to refer them to 
his glory. 

Reas. 2. It is the end of our lives that God may be served : ' All things 
are by him, and through him, and to him/ Horn. xi. 36 ; angels, men, 
beasts, inanimate creatures. He expects more from men than from 
beasts, and from saints than from men ; and therefore life by them is 
not to be desired and loved but for this end : Eom. xiv. 6-8, ' He that 
regardeth a day, regardeth it unto the Lord ; and he that regardeth 
not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth 
to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks ; and he that eateth not, to the 
Lord eateth not, and giveth God thanks : for none of us liveth to him 
self, and no man dieth to himself ; for whether we live, we live unto 
the Lord ; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord. Whether we 
live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.' 

Use 1. For reproof. Every man desireth life. The whole world 
would all and every one of them put up this request to God, ' Deal 
bountifully with thy servant, that I may live ; ' but there is not one 
man in a hundred that considereth why he should live. Some would 
live to please the flesh, and to wallow in the delights of the present 
world ; a brutish wish ! An heathen could say, he doth not deserve 
the name of a man that would spend his time in pleasure one day. 
These would not leave their husks and their hog trough. This was 



not David's desire, but that he might keep the law, and faithfully 
worship God. 

Some, again, desire to see their children well bestowed, or to free their 
estate from incumbrance ; this is distrust, as if we did not leave a God 
behind us, who hath promised to be a father of the fatherless, and to 
take care of our little ones. Can we venture ourselves in God's hands, 
and can we not venture our families with him, whose goodness ex- 
tendeth to all his creatures ? Some are loath to leave such as are 
dear to them, wife and children and friends ; and is not God better, 
and Christ better ? These must be loved in God and after God. We 
set friends in the place of God and Christ, when we can be content to 
be absent longer from God merely upon this ground, because we are 
loath to be separated from our friends. ' He that loveth father and 
mother, and husband and wife, more than me, is not worthy of me/ 
saith Christ. Oh, how far are these from any Christian affection ! 
Surely to a believer it is a piece of self-denial to be kept out of heaven 
longer ; therefore it must be sweetened by some valuable compensa 
tion ; something there must be to calm the mind contentedly to spare 
the enjoyment of it for a while. Now, next to the good pleasure of God, 
which is the reason of reasons, there is some benefit which we pitch 
upon. Nothing is worthy to be compared but our service, if God may 
have glory, if our lives may do good. A gracious heart must be 
satisfied with gracious reasons. Some may desire life, because they 
are dismayed with the terrors of death ; but this is unbelief. Hath 
not Christ delivered us not only from the hurt of death, but the fear 
of death ? Heb. ii. 14, ' And deliver them who through fear of death 
were all their lifetime subject to bondage/ Where is your faith? 
1 Death is yours,' 1 Cor. iii. 22. It is a sin simply to desire life ; but 
look to the causes and ends of it. 

Use 2. It directeth us how to dispose of our lives. For this end 
take a few considerations. 

[1.] This life is not to be valued but by opportunities of service to 
God. It is not who liveth most plentifully, but most serviceably to 
God's glory : Acts xiii. 36, * David, after he had served his generation, 
by the will of God he fell asleep.' Every one was made to serve God 
in his generation, and hath his office and use as an instrument of 
divine providence, from the king to the peasant. We are undone if 
the creatures, made to serve us, should fail in their season. We were 
made to serve God in our season. 

[2.] This service is determined by the course of God's providence. 
He is the great master of the scenes, that appointeth us what part to 
act, and sets to every man his calling and state of life. John xvii. 4, 
our Saviour saith, ' I have finished the work thou hast given me to 
do.' We must not be our own carvers, prescribe to God at what rate 
we will be maintained, nor what kind of work we will perform. Those 
that are free may covenant with you, and make their bargain, what 
kind of service they will undertake ; but we are at God's absolute dis 
pose, to be used as vessels of honour or dishonour, as fitted and 

[3.] In the management of this work we must measure our actions 
by God's word, and refer them to his glory. By God's word: Ps. 

VER. 18.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 163 

cxix. 105, c Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my 
paths.' His glory : Col. iii. 17, ' And whatsoever ye do, in word or 
deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and 
the Father by him.' 

[4.J Death shall not prevent us, till we have ended our appointed 
service. As long as God hath work for us to do, he will maintain 
life and strength : Gal. i. 15, * Who separated me from my mother's 
womb, and called me by his grace.' The decree taketh date from the 
womb. God frames parts and temper ; God rocketh us in our cradles, 
taketh care of us in our infancy, and all the turns of our lives. 

[5.] If God will use us to a great age, we must be content. You 
may adorn your profession, and bring forth fruit in old age. The 
longest life is too short to honour God : Ps. xcii. 13, ' Those that be 
planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our 
God.' We should count it our happiness to be still used, and that 
we are fully rewarded by being employed in further service. 

[6.] Life must be willingly laid down when we cannot keep it but 
with forsaking the word : Luke xiv. 26, ' If any man come unto me, 
and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and 
brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my dis 

[7.] The life of eternity must be subordinate to this great end, the 
glory of God ; our desire of it must be, that we may be to the praise 
of God. 


Open ihou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of 
thylaw.VKR. 18. 

THE heathens thought that man had not a power over his life, but a 
power over his actions Quod vivamus, Deorum munus est ; quod bene 
vivamus, nostrum. But the Psalmist acknowledgeth God in both : 
* Deal bountifully with thy servant, that I may live, and keep thy law ;' 
that he could not live nor keep the word without God's grace. This 
latter he amplifieth in this verse, that he was so far from keeping it, 
that he could not so much as know it savingly and practically without 
divine grace : c Lord, open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous 
things out of thy law/ Here is 

1. A request, ' open thou mine eyes.' 

2. The reason, from the end, benefit, and fruit of it, ' that I may/ 
or then I shall, ' behold wondrous things out of thy law/ 

In which reason is intimated the necessity of divine illumination, 
and then the profit of it. 

1. The necessity, that I may behold, &c. i.e., otherwise I cannot. 

2. The profit, then I shall behold wondrous things out of thy law. 
Doct. 1. That we need that God should open our eyes, if we would 

have a right understanding of his word. 
1. What is meant by opening the eyes. 


2. The necessity of such a work in order to a right understanding 
of the word of God. 

First, What is meant by opening the eyes. Before I come to the 
particular explication of the terms, let me premise two observations. 

1. The saints do not complain of the obscurity of the law, but of 
their own blindness. The Psalmist doth not say, ' Lord, make a 
plainer law,' but, * Lord, open mine eyes.' Blind men might as well 
complain of God that he doth not make a sun whereby they might see. 
The word is 'A light that shineth in a dark place,' 2 Peter i. 19. 
There is no want of light in the scripture, but there is a veil of dark 
ness upon our hearts ; so that if in this clear light we cannot see, the 
defect is not in the word, but in ourselves. 

2. The light which they beg is not anything besides the word. 
When God is said to enlighten us, it is not that we should expect new 
revelations, but that we may see the wonders in his word, or get a 
clear sight of what is already revealed. Those that vent "their own 
dreams under the name of the Spirit and divine light, they do not give 
you mysteria, but monstra, portentous opinions ; not show you the won 
drous things of God's law, but the prodigies of their own brain ; un 
happy abortives, that die as soon as they come to light : Isa. viii. 20, 
' To the law and to the testimony ; if they speak not according to this 
word, it is because there is no light in them.' The light which we 
have is not without the word, but by the word. 

Now to the phrase. The Hebrew signifieth ' unveil mine eyes/ 
There is a double work negative and positive : there is a taking away 
the veil, and an infusion of light. Paul's cure of his natural blindness 
is a fit emblem of our cure of spiritual blindness : Acts ix. 18, ' Imme 
diately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales, and he received 
sight forthwith/ First the scales fall from our eyes, and then we 
receive sight. 

1. There is a taking away the veil before we can have a true dis 
cerning of the mysteries that are revealed in the word of God : 2 Cor. 
iii. 14, 15, the apostle, speaking of the Jews, saith, ' But their minds 
were blinded ; for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away, 
in the reading of the Old Testament ; which veil is done away in 
Christ : but even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon 
their hearts/ Now this veil is diverse. 

[1.] The veil of ignorance. Though man hath reason, and is capa 
ble of understanding the sense and importance of the words that are 
used about the mysteries of godliness, yea, and the matter too, yet he 
gets not the saving knowledge of them by his natural abilities. There 
is a grammatical knowledge and a spiritual knowledge; a man may know 
things grammatically and literally that is ignorant of them spiritually; 
as a child may read the letters and words that doth not conceive of the 
sense. So a man may know what is said concerning God and Christ, 
and sin and grace, the vanity of the creature, the excellency of heaven, 
and have yet no saving knowledge of these things ; and therefore the 
scripture useth the expression that they oversee in seeing ; as Acts 
xxviii. 26, ' Hearing, ye shall hear, and not understand; seeing, ye shall 
see, and not perceive/ Though truths are never so plainly delivered, 
never so powerfully pressed, and though they are capable to understand 

VER. 18.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 165 

the words, yet they do not take the truth into their hearts, so as to 
profit by it. So Deut. xxix. 2-4, ' Ye have seen/ yet ' ye have not an 
heart to see.' Most will declaim against the vanity of the creature and 
evil of sin ; but they do not see with an affective heart-piercing light ; 
they have on them the veil of spiritual ignorance. 

[2.] The veil of carnal knowledge and wisdom, that puffeth up, 

1 Cor. viii. 1, 2, by which, seeing not, we think we see. This is a great 
hindrance to the entertaining of the word. So Christ telleth the 
Pharisees, who were conceited of their own knowledge, John ix. 39, 
Tor judgment am I come into this world, that they which see not 
might see, and they which see might be made blind/ The Pharisees 
were the rabbis of the age, the most seeing and learned men of that time. 
Carnal men are puffed up with a conceit of their own abilities, and so 
are obstructed by them from profiting by the gospel. 

[3.] The veil of prejudice and corrupt affections. The passions of 
the mind, love and fear, desire and anger, hinder us from judging 
aright in the things of God. Our hearts are overcast with strong 
affections to the world, and so cannot clearly judge either of practical 
truths or of the controversies of the age. Not of practical truths: 
When Christ had taught that they ' could not serve God and mam 
mon/ it is said, Luke xvi. 14, * And the Pharisees, that were covetous, 
derided him.' Holy mortifying truths are unpleasing to a carnal ear, 
though they be represented with never so much evidence. How will 
men distinguish themselves out of their duty ! They shift, and stretch, 
and turn and wind hither and thither, and prove truth to be no truth, 
rather than part with their lusts. So present truths, as the apostle 
calls them, 2 Peter i. 12, when the dust of interest is raised, are not 
discerned. The orthodoxy of the world is usually an age too short : 

2 Cor. iv. 4, * The god of this world hath blinded their eyes/ 

[4.] The veil of carnal sense : 2 Peter i. 9, 'He that lacketh these 
things is blind, and cannot see afar off/ There are so many mists 
and clouds in the lower world, that men cannot outsee time, and with 
out the prospective of faith have a sight of eternity. Nature is short 
sighted, so inured to present things that we receive no light concerning 
things to come. These are the scales that are upon our eyes. 

2. There is an infusion of light, without which men of excellent wit 
and sharp understanding in other things are stark blind in the things 
of God. What this light is will appear by the degrees of knowledge 
and the uses of this light. 

[1.] The degrees of knowledge. 
(1.) In 

some there is a simple nescience, both of terms or notions, 
and things, as in those that have not a revelation, or have not regarded 
it when the revelation is made. As the Gentiles, that have not a re 
velation : Eph. iv. 18, ' Having their understanding darkened, being 
alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, 
because of the blindness of their heart.' Or rude and ignorant Chris 
tians, that have not the advantage of education, so as to understand 
the notions in which the doctrine of God is propounded : Isa. xxviii. 
9, 10, ' Whom shall he teach knowledge ? and whom shall he make to 
understand doctrine ? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn 
from the breasts : for precept must be upon precept, precept upon pre- 


cept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little and there a little.' So 
sottish and brutish are some, that a man had need teach them as he 
teacheth little children, letter after letter, and line after line, little 
good done. 

(2.) In others there is a grammatical knowledge but not a spiritual, 
a repeating things by rote, a talking of all that a Christian enjoyeth. 

(3.) Besides the grammatical knowledge, there is a dogmatical 
knowledge, when the truths of the word are not only understood, but 
begin to settle into an opinion that we bustle for in the world. An 
opinionative receiving of the truth is different from a saving receiv 
ing of the truth. Many are orthodox, or have so much judgment and 
knowledge as to hold the truth strictly, but the heart is not possessed 
with the life and power of it. Those are intended in Kom. ii. 20, * An 
instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which have the form of 
knowledge and of the truth in the law/ And such are described 
2 Tim. iii. 8, ' Having a form of godliness, but denying the power 
thereof/ It is not to be imagined that this is always in design, though 
many times carnal men swim with the stream, and take up with the 
opinions that are current in their age ; but also out of conviction of 
judgment ; there is somewhat of conscience in it. A sound judgment 
is a different thing from a sound heart. The truths of God have 
great evidence with them; and therefore a rational man, being 
helped with some common work of the Spirit, may close with them, 
though they have no experience of the power and prevailing influence 
of them. 

(4.) Besides this dogmatical knowledge, by which we see round 
about the compass of truths revealed in the word, there is a gracious 
illumination when men are taught so as drawn to God, John vi. 44, 
45, and they do so understand Christ's doctrine as to apply and make 
a right use of it ; such a knowledge as is called not only sight, but taste : 
1 Peter ii. 3, ' If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious ; ' and 
a feeling of what we understand : Phil. i. 9, * And this I pray, that 
your love may abound more and more in knowledge and in all judg 
ment/ This sense and experimental knowledge is that which the saints 
seek after. 

[2.] The uses of this spiritual illumination. 

(1.) To give us a clear sight of the truths of God. 

(2.) An applicative sight. 

(3.) An affective sight. 

(4.) A transforming sight. 

(5.) Such a sense of the truth as is prevalent over lusts and 

(1.) A clear sight of the truths of God. Others have but an hear 
say knowledge, gathered out of books and sermons, and the common 
report which is made of Christ ; but he that is divinely enlightened 
drinks of the fountain, and so his draught is more fresh and sweet. 
They do not talk of things by rote after others, but it is written upon 
their hearts : Heb. viii. 10, ' I will put my laws into their mind, and 
write them in their hearts ; ' and so groweth more intimate and satis* 
factory, and moving upon them. 

(2.) An applicative sight ; not only knowledge, but prudence : Prov. 

YER. 18.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 167 

viii. 12, ' I, Wisdom, dwell with Prudence.' Wisdom is the know 
ledge of principles ; prudence is an ability to apply them to our com 
fort and use, that we may know It for our good, Job v. 28. Many are 
right in generals ; but the Spirit doth not only reveal the truths of the 
gospel, but applieth those truths to awaken the conscience that was 
asleep in sin. Many men that are unrenewed may be stored with 
general truths concerning the misery of man, redemption by Christ, 
the privileges of a Christian ; but they do not reflect the light of these 
truths upon themselves, so as to consider their own case ; and so it 
serveth rather for matter of opinion and discourse than for life and 
conversation ; it is not directive. 

(3.) An affective sight : Prov. ii. 10, ' When wisdom entereth upon 
thy heart,' which is the seat of affections, it stirs up in the soul answer 
able motions to every truth ; whereas when truths rest in empty barren 
notions, without feeling and an answerable touch upon the heart, the 
knowledge of them is like a winter's sun, that shineth, but warmeth 
not ; the misery of man is not affective, and doctrines of redemption 
by Christ are apprehended without any joy and relish. 

(4.) A transforming sight : 2 Cor. iii. 18, c 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/ 
It is a light that is both directive and persuasive. A man may hear 
the gospel VOIJUKW, when it is only known as a rule, not as a means to 
convey the Spirit ; whereas a believer hears the law evayyeXiK&s. The 
apostle preferreth the gospel above the law in the afore-mentioned place, 
for comfortableness, perspicuity, efficacy, &c. 

(5.) It is a light that prevaileth over our lusts and interest, such a 
light as hath fire in it to destroy lusts : 1 John ii. 3, 4, ' He that saith 
I know him, and doth not keep his commandments, is a liar/ A true 
knowledge and sight of God is able to bridle lusts and purify the 
conscience. Therefore it is said, ' He that doth evil hath not seen 
God,' 3 John 11 ; hath not a true sight, whatever speculations he 
may have about the nature of God. Other light doth not check and 
control vicious desires ; reason is not restored to its dominion : Rom. 
i. 18, the reputed wise men of the world ' held the truth in unright 
eousness.' Truth may talk its fill, but can do nothing ; as a man 
that is bound hand and foot may rave and evaporate his passions/ 
but cannot relieve himself from the oppressor or the force that he is 

Secondly, Eeasons that show the necessity of this work. 
^ 1. Spiritual blindness is natural to us, as that man that was blind from 
his birth, John ix. 1. We are not all born blind in body, but all in 
mind. By tasting the tree of knowledge, all Adam's sons have lost 
their knowledge. Satan hath brought a greater shame upon us than 
Nahash the Ammonite would have brought upon the men of Jabesh- 
Gilead in putting out their right eyes. The eye of the soul is put out, 
so as we cannot see the light that shineth in the word. By the fall 
we lost the true and perfect light of reason, but retain the pride of 
reason. It is no small part of our blindness that we cannot endure to 
hear of it : Rev. iii. 17, ' Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with 
goods, and have need of nothing : and knowest not that thou art 


wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.' Man de- 
sireth to be thought sinful rather than weak, and will sooner own a 
wickedness in morals than a weakness in intellectuals. Men are dis 
honest out of choice, and therefore think there is more of liberty and 
bravery in it ; but to be simple argueth imperfection ; Job xi. 12, 
' Vain man would be accounted wise, though man be born like a wild- 
ass's colt ; ' not only for untamedness and affectation of liberty, but 
for rudeness and grossness of conceit ; yet man would be accounted 
wise. The Pharisees took it ill that Christ charged them with blind 
ness : John ix. 40, ' Are we blind also ? ' We all affect the reputation 
of wisdom, more than the reality ; that is the reason why we are so 
touchy in point of error ; we can easier brook a sin reproved than an 
error taxed. Till we have spiritual eye-salve, we do not know it, and 
will not hear of this blindness, Rev. iii. 17. It is a degree of spiritual 
knowledge to know that we know nothing. 

2. Observe how much spiritual blindness is worse than bodily. 
Those that are under bodily blindness are glad of a remedy, glad of a 

[1.] Glad of a remedy. How feelingly doth that man speak, Mark 
x. 51, ' What wouldst thou have me to do ? Lord, that mine eyes may 
be opened/ Those that are blind spiritually are not for a remedy ; 
not only ignorant, but unteachable ; and so their blindness groweth 
upon them ; to their natural, there is an adventitious blindness. If we 
cannot keep out the light, we rage against it. 

[2.] Glad of a guide ; as Elymas the sorcerer, when he was stricken 
blind, looked about for somebody to lead him by the hand, Acts xiii. 11. 
But the blind world cannot endure to be directed, or ' the blind lead the 
blind, and both fall into the ditch.' He that prophesieth of strong 
wine is the teacher of this people, saith the prophet. Men love those 
that gratify their lusts and humours : let one come soundly, and 
declare the counsel and will of God to them, he is distasted. 

3. We cannot help ourselves out of this misery without God's help. 
Our incapacity is best understood by opening that noted place, 1 Cor. 
ii. 14, ' The natural man receiveth not the things that are of God, for 
they are folly to him ; neither can he know them, because they are 
spiritually discerned.' Let us a little open that place : avOpwiros 
i^u^fc/eo?, * the soully man,' that is, a man considered in his pure 
naturals. Jude 19 ; ^JTV^LKOL, irvev^a ^ e^o^Te?, * sensual, having 
not the Spirit.' However, he useth the best word by which a natural 
man can be described ; he doth not say adpKiicoi, not only those that 
are brutish and depraved by vicious habits, but take nature in its ex 
cellency, soul-light in its highest splendour and perfection, though the 
man be not absolutely given up to vile affections. Well, it is said of 
him that he neither doth nor can receive the things of God, ov 
Se^erai, and ov ovvaTai <yvwvai. The ra TOV Trvev/jLaros, ' the things 
of the Spirit/ are such truths as depend upon mere revelation, and 
are above the reach and knowledge of nature. There are ra TOV 
@eov, ' things of God,' that may be known by a natural light : Rom. 
i. 19, * That which may be known of God, is manifest in them, for God 
hath showed it unto them ; ' but TO, TOV Trvev^aTos, things revealed 
in the word, though a natural man be able to understand the phrases 


and sentences, and be able to discourse of them, yet he wanteth faith, 
and a spiritual sense and relish of them ; they are folly to him. It 
noteth the utter contempt of spiritual things by a carnal heart, who 
looketh upon redemption by Christ crucified, with the consequent 
benefits, as things frivolous and vain. Paul at Athens was accounted 
' a babbler/ Acts xvii. 18. The same disposition is still in natural men ; 
for though these truths, by the prescription and consent of many ages, 
have now obtained veneration and credit, yet carefully to observe them, 
to live to the tenor of them, whatever hazards and inconveniences we 
are exposed to in the world, is still counted foolish. Mark, for greater 
emphasis, it is ficopia, folly, as carnal wisdom is e^Opa, ' enmity against 
God,' Rom. viii. 7. ' Neither can he know them/ It is out of sloth 
and opposition and moral impotency ; as it is said, Rom. viii. 7, ' The 
carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law 
of God, neither indeed can it be.' Reason is a short and defective 
light, not only actually ignorant, but unable to conceive of them. It 
is not only through negligence he doth not, but through weakness he 
cannot. Take mere nature in itself, and, like plants neglected, it 
soon runs wild ; as the nations barbarous and not polished with arts 
and civility have more of the beast than the man in them : Jude 10,. 
' But what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they 
corrupt themselves/ Suppose they use the spectacles of art, and the 
natural light of reason be helped by industry and learning, yet how 
erroneous in things of religion: Rom. i. 21, ' When they knew God, 
they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain 
in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened/ &c. The 
most civil nations were 'most foolish in matters of worship ; and many 
placed fevers, and human passions, and every paltry thing, among the 
gods. The Scythians worshipped thunder, the Persians the sun ; the 
most stupid and blockish nations seemed most wise in the choice of 
their gods ; others were given up to more gross superstitions. All the 
arts in the -world could not fully repair the ruins of the fall. The 
heathens invented logic for polishing reason ; grammar and rhetoric 
for language ; for government, and as a help to human society, laws ; 
for bodily necessities, physic ; for mollifying and charming the passions, 
so far as concerned human conversation, ethics ; for families and pri 
vate societies, economics : but for the soul and religious concern 
ments, how blind and foolish were they ! Nay, go higher. Suppose, 
besides the spectacles of art, nature be furnished with the glass of the 
word ; yet John i. 5, * The light shined in darkness, and the darkness 
comprehended it not/ We see how great scholars are defective in the 
most useful and practical points. Nicodemus, a teacher in Israel, was 
ignorant of regeneration, John iii. 10. They always err in one point 
or another. And in these things of moment, if they get an opinion 
and a dogmatical faith, and have an exact model and frame of truth, 
yet as long as they are carnal and unregenerate, how much doth a 
plain godly Christian exceed them in lively affection and serious prac 
tice 1 And whilst they are disputing of the natures and offices of 
Christ, and the nature of justification and sanctification, others enjoy 
what they speak of, and have a greater relish and savour and power of 
these truths upon their hearts. For ever it was a truth, and ever will 
be, Rom. viii. 5, ' They that are after the flesh, do mind the things of 


the flesh ; and they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.' 
Nature can go no farther than itself, than a fleshly inclination moveth 
it. They have not this transforming light, and that sense of religion 
which is prevalent over lusts and worldly interests. 

The next reason is, because they must be ' spiritually discerned; ' that 
is, to know them inwardly, thoroughly, and with some relish and savour; 
there must be a higher light, there must be a cognation and proportion 
between the object and the faculty. Divine things must be seen by a 
divine light, and spiritual things by a spiritual light. Sense, which is 
the light of beasts, cannot trace the workings or flights of reason in her 
contemplations. We cannot see a soul or an angel by the light of a 
candle ; so fleshly wisdom cannot judge of divine things. The object 
must be not only revealed, but we must have an answerable light ; so 
that when you have done all, you must say, 'How can I understand with 
out an interpreter ? ' Acts viii. 31. And this interpreter must be the Spirit 
of God Ejus est interpretari, cujus est condere. To discern, so as to 
make aright judgment and estimate of things, dependethuponGod's help. 
4. When this blindness is in part cured, yet still we need that 
God should open our eyes to the very last. We know nothing as we 
ought to know. David, a regenerate man, and well instructed, pray- 
eth to have his eyes opened ; for we need more light every day : Luke 
xxiv. 45, * Then opened he their understandings, that they might un 
derstand the scriptures.' Christ first opened the scriptures, then he 
opened their understandings. 

Use 1. To show us the reason why the word prevaileth so little when 
it is preached with power and evidence ; their eyes are not opened : 
Isa. liii. 1, ' Who hath believed our report ; and to whom is the arm of 
the Lord revealed ? ' No teaching will prevail till we are taught of God. 
Use 2. What need we have to consult with God, whenever we make 
use of the word, in reading, hearing, study. In reading, when thou 
openest the Bible to read, say, ' Lord, open mine eyes.' When thou 
nearest, beg a sight of the truth, and how to apply it for thy comfort. 
Hcec audiunt quasi somniantes, Luther saith of the most in seeing 
they see not, in hearing they hear not. There was a fountain by Hagar, 
but she could not see it : Gen. xxi. 19, ' God opened her eyes, and she 
saw a well of water, and she went and filled the bottle with water, and 
gave the lad to drink.' So for study; it is dangerous to set upon the 
study of divine things in the strength of wit and human helps. Men 
go forth in the strength of their own parts, or lean upon the judgment 
of writers, and so are left in darkness and confusion. We would sooner 
come to the decision of a truth if we would go to God, and desire him 
to rend the veil of prejudices and interests. 

Use 3. Is to press us to seek after this blessing, the opening of the 
eyes. Magnify the creating power of God : 2 Cor. iv. 6, ' God, who 
commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our 
hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus 
Christ.' Make use of Christ : Col. ii. 3, ' In whom are hid all the trea 
sures of wisdom and knowledge ; ' beg it earnestly of him. The apostle 
prayeth, Eph. i. 17, 18, ' That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the 
leather of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation 
in the knowledge of him ; the eyes of your understanding being en 
lightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling,' &c. Yea, 

VEB. 18.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 171 

mourn for it in cases of dubious anxiety. John wept when the book of 
the seven seals was not opened, Eev. v. 4. Mourn over your ignorance ; 
refer all to practice: John vii. 17, 'If any man will do his will, he 
shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak 
of myself/ Wait for light in the use of means, with a simple, docile, 
sincere, humble mind : Ps. xxv. 9, ' The meek will he guide in judg 
ment, and the meek will he teach his way/ 

poet. 2. Those whose eyes are opened by God, they see wondrous 
things in his word, more than ever they thought. 

' Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of 
thy law/ Law is not taken strictly for the covenant of works, nor 
for the decalogue as a rule of life ; but more generally for the whole 
word of God, which is full of wonders, or high and heavenly mysteries. 
In the decalogue or moral law there is wonderful purity, when we 
get a spiritual sense of it : Ps. cxix. 96, ' I have seen an end of all 
perfection ; but thy commandments are exceeding broad ;' and Ps. xix. 
V, 8, ' The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul : the testimony 
of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple : the statutes of the Lord 
are right, rejoicing the heart : the commandment of the Lord is pure, 
enlightening the eyes.' A wonderful equity : Eom. vii. 12, ' The law 
is holy, and the commandment is holy, just, and good/ A marvellous 
wisdom : Deut. iv. 6, ' Keep therefore, and do them ; for this is your 
wisdom and understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear 
all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and un 
derstanding people/ In the whole word of God, the harmony and 
correspondence between all the parts, how the mystery grew from a 
dark revelation to clearer, is admirable. In the gospel, every article 
of faith is a mystery to be wondered at. The person of Christ : 1 Tim. 
iii. 16, ' Great is the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh, 
justified in the Spirit,' &c. A virgin conceiveth, the Word is made 
flesh, the redemption and reconciliation of mankind, are the wonderful 
works of the Lord's grace. It is ' the hidden wisdom of God in a 
mystery,' 1 Cor. ii. 7. ' We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, 
even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our 
glory ; ' and it is called the ' mystery hidden from ages,' Eph. iii. 9. 
The glory of heaven is admirable : Eph. i. 18, ' The riches of the glory 
of the inheritance of the saints in light/ That a clod of earth should 
be made an heir of heaven, deserves the highest wonder. All these 
are mysteries. So the wonderful effects of the word in convincing sin 
ners : 1 Cor. xiv. 25, ' 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/ Heb. iv. 12 : * The word of God is quick 
and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing 
asunder of soul and spirit and joints and marrow, and is a discerner 
of the thoughts and intents of the heart/ It is a searching and dis 
covering word : John iv. 29, ' See a man that hath told me all that 
ever I did/ In changing sinners : 1 Peter ii. 9, ' That ye may show 
forth the praises of him that hath called you out of darkness into his 
marvellous light/ Peter's getting out of prison was nothing to it. In 
comforting, every grace is a mystery, to depend upon what we see not, 
to be as a rock in the midst of a storm. 'Dying, yet we live ; as poor, 


yet making many rich.' 2 Cor. vi. 9, 10. All the operations of the 
Spirit are wonderful: 1 Peter i. 8, ' Joy unspeakable and full of glory/ 
Phil. iv. 7, ' Peace that passeth all understanding ; ' Bom. viii. 26,, 
' Groans that cannot be uttered.' 

And now, what divine illumination contributeth to the sight of these 
wonders ? 

1. It revealeth the truth of them, which otherwise is incomprehen 
sible to the flesh : Mat. xvi. 17, ' Flesh and blood hath not revealed it 
unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven/ Without this, no cer 
tain knowledge of Christ's person and office. 

2. It more intimately acquainteth us with them : Mat. xiii. 11, ' To* 
you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God ; to others 
it is not given/ All God's works are full of wonder, yet blind men 
cannot see them, though the sun shineth never so clearly. A beautiful 
room into which there is but a crevice, when we lay our eye close to 
it, we see it 

Use 1. From hence we may learn, that it is one degree of profit 
to see so much in the word of God as to admire it ; either at the mys 
teries of godliness or ungodliness, which the word discovereth, & /3d0os. 
They that are most enlightened have most cause to wonder ; for then 
they find truths which exceed all common reason, such as do not come 
into the minds of others, or, if they do, they seem incredible. 

Use 2 is to encourage us to study the word ; the wonders of God's 
works are many, but the wonders of his word greater. Quot articuli, 
tot miracula, the Papists say of Aquinas's Sums ; but more truly may 
it be said of the word of God ; all the doctrines of the word are a 
continued mystery. After man was fallen, it came not into the head 
of any creature how to satisfy justice, to make up the breach. Oh, 
the folly of them that despise the word, as curious wits and world 
lings do, as if it were a mean knowledge in comparison of what may 
be acquired from Aristotle and Plato or the politicians of the world ! 
If there be in it some rudiments, something common with other writ 
ings, yet there are greater things than these : ' The deep things of 
God/ 1 Cor. ii. 11 ; never such a revelation made to the world. And 
worldly men, that despise this study of the word, they despise that 
which angels wonder at, Eph. iii. 10, and ' desire to pry into,' 1 Peter 
i. 12, and make great matters of trifles. The Sun of righteousness, 
is not he worth the beholding ? 

Use 3. Let us cease wondering at worldly things, great places, honours, 
heaps of wealth, fair buildings, as the disciples, Mark xiii. 1, ' Mas 
ter, see what manner of stones and buildings are here ! ' It is said of 
Christ, Col. ii. 9, * In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead 
bodily ! ' Fulness of the Godhead ! oh, wonderful ! The people wondered 
at that mass of money provided by David to build God a house, 1 Chron. 
xxix. 7, 8. Oh! but the unsearchable riches of grace, the rare plot of 
man's redemption, yiteya /jLva-ri'ipiov, how wonderful ! All in and about 
Christ is rare. His name is Wonderful. All the promises of God are 
ra //-eytcrra /cal ri/jaa eVcpyyeX/iara, ' exceeding great and precious pro 
mises/ 2 Peter i. 4 ; they transcend man's capacity. It condemneth the 
stupidness of them that are nothing moved or taken with things so great 
and wonderful great in themselves, and should be precious to us. 



I am a stranger in the earth : hide not thy commandments from 
me. VER. 19. 

IN the 18th verse David had begged divine illumination, ' Open mine 
eyes/ &c. He doth not desire God to make a plainer law, but to give 
him a clearer sight. That request he backs with three reasons in the 
following verses : 

1. His condition in the world, ' I am a stranger in the earth.' 
Strangers in a foreign country need guidance and direction. 

2. His earnest affection to the word, ver. 20, * My soul breaketh for 
the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times.' David had 
an earnest longing to be acquainted more with the will of God. 

3. God's judgments upon those that contemn the word, ' Thou hast 
rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy command 
ments.' It is dangerous to walk beside the rule : Kom. i. 18, * The 
wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and 
unrighteousness of men,' &c. God hath owned both tables ; he hath 
punished ungodliness, a violation of the first table; and unright 
eousness, a violation of the second table. Here God hath declared 
how he will own his name, therefore he begs illumination. 

Now, the text giveth you this first reason, his condition in the world. 
Here observe two things : 

1. A representation of his case, / am a stranger upon earth. 

2. His request to God, hide not thy commandments from me. 
First, A representation of his case with respect to his quality, what 

he was, a stranger; and the place where, upon earth; not in heaven, 
he was familiar there. And how a stranger upon earth, in point of 
happiness, I do not find here that which satisfieth my soul ; he had 
his home, his rest elsewhere ; but not in point of service, for he had 
much work to do. 

Doct. God's children are strangers upon earth, and do so account 

They live here as others do, but they are not at home ; their hearts 
are above, they do not take up their rest here ; they are strangers, and 
account themselves to be so when they have most of worldly con 

First, To open it. Sometimes it may be understood in a literal 
sense, and sometimes in a moral. 

(1.) Sometimes in a literal sense. Thus the patriarchs, that had a 
wandering life, and were forced to flit from place to place without any 
certain abode, they confessed themselves to be strangers. Jacob saith, 
Gen. xlvii. 9, ' Few and evil have the years of my life been.' (2.) 
Morally also, and more generally, it is true of the saints, they are 
strangers. In some sense it is true of good and bad. We are all 
travelling into another world, and are every day nearer to eternity. As 
in a ship, whether men sleep or wake, stand or sit, whether they think 
of it, yea or nay, the voyage still goes onward. So, whatever we think, 
and whatever we do, we hasten towards death. In this sense even 


wicked men may be strangers and pilgrims in condition, though not in 
affection. All men in condition, will they nill they, must into the 
other world, as they yield to the decays of nature, and every day they 
are a step nearer to their long home. Heathens have had a sense of 
this notion. Saith one of them, Ex hoc vita discedo tanquam ex hos- 
pitio, non tanquam ex domo I go out of this life as out of an inn. 
Here we are but passengers, not inhabitants to dwell. But now to be 
strangers and pilgrims in affection, that is proper to the children of 
God ; Heb. xi. 13-15, it is made the fruit of their faith ; ' Because 
they were persuaded of the promises, therefore they confessed them 
selves pilgrims and strangers on earth.' The voice of nature saith, 
It is good to be here ; let God do with heaven what he pleaseth. 
Natural men are contented with their present portion, and cannot en 
dure to think of change ; and therefore, though they are travelling to 
eternity, yet they are not pilgrims in affection. But now God's chil 
dren are so in condition and in affection too ; they count heaven their 
home, and the world to be a strange place. They are pilgrims in 
affection in a threefold regard : 

1. Because they are most sensible of their frailty. The frailty of 
the present life is a common lesson, but not easily believed. None 
have such a sense of it upon their hearts as they that are taught by 
God : Ps. xc. 12, ' So teach us to number our days that we may apply 
our hearts unto wisdom ;' and, ' Teach me to know how frail I am/ 
saith David. Worldly men, though they are of this opinion, and can 
not deny it, yet they do not consider it ; in seeing they see not ; their 
minds are taken up with other things ; they are not sensible. 

2. The term is proper to the children of God, because they are un 
satisfied with their present estate ; they would not abide here for ever 
if God would give them leave. Wicked men are pilgrims against 
their will ; but saints are ever looking for, longing for, groaning for a 
better estate : Kom. viii. 23, ' We which have the first-fruits of the 
Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adop 
tion, the redemption of our body.' They desire and 'groan to be 
clothed upon,' 2 Cor. v. 2. 

3. The notion is most proper to them, because they have an interest 
in a better inheritance. Wicked men are sure to go out of the world, 
but they are not sure to go to heaven. Now, the children of God they 
know there is an inheritance kept for them ; here they have the right, 
but there they shall have the possession, 1 John iii. 1. So that well 
might I form the point thus : That godly men are, and count them 
selves to be, strangers and pilgrims upon earth. Others are in a 
journey, but they are not sensible of it, and they have no home to go 
to, and no desire to part with the world. 

Now take some instances of this. That this is proper to God's 
children to count the world a strange place, and heaven to be their 
home. Those that had the best right and the greatest possessions here, 
they will do^ so; those that had the greatest right: Heb. xi. 9, 
' Abraham sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country/ 
What right could there be greater than that which was demised and 
made over to him by God ? Yet in the land of promise he lived as in 
a strange place. So David here, and in other places, that had so ample 

VER. 19.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 175 

a possession ; he was king over, an opulent and flourishing kingdom ; 
yet, Ps. xxxix. 12, * I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my 
fathers were.' Not only he that was a wandering partridge, and flitted 
up arid down ; but David that was settled in a throne, he that was so 
powerful and victorious a prince. But you will say, Possibly David 
might speak thus when he was chased like a flea upon the mountains, 
when he was hunted to and fro like a partridge. No ; but when he 
had peace, and was fully settled in the throne ; when he could offer so 
many cart-loads of gold and silver, 2 Chron. xxix. 13 ; then he doth 
acknowledge, ' Lord, I am a stranger.' Jesus Christ, who was Lord 
paramount, he tells us, ' I am not of this world/ John xvii. 14. He 
was ' a stranger to his brethren, and an alien among his mother's chil 
dren,' Ps. Ixix. 8. He that was Lord of all had neither house nor 
home. He passed through the world to sanctify it for a place of ser 
vice ; but his heart and constant residence was not here, to fix it as in 
a place of rest. And so all that are Christ's have the spirit of Christ,, 
and say, as David in the text, ' I am a stranger upon earth.' We da 
not dwell upon earth, but only pass through it. 

But why do the children of God count themselves to be strangers here ? 

1. They are born elsewhere. Everything tends to the place of their 
original, as men love their native soil ; things bred in the water return 
thither ; inanimate things tend to their centre ; a stone will fall to the 
ground, though it be broken in pieces with the fall ; wind that is im 
prisoned in the bowels of the earth raiseth terrible convulsions and 
earthquakes until it get up to its own place. All things seek to return 
thither from whence they came. And so grace, which came from 
heaven, it carrieth the soul thither again : ' Jerusalem from above is 
the mother of us all. 7 Heaven is our native country, and therefore 
thither is the tendency and aim of the gracious soul that is born from 
above. It is very notable that contempt of the world is usually made 
the fruit of our regeneration : 1 John v. 4, ' Whosoever is born of God 
overcometh the world ;' and 2 Peter i. 4, ' Made partakers of the divine 
nature, that we might escape the corruptions of the world through 
lust.' There is somewhat of God in it then ; and that which comes 
from God carries the soul thither where God is. In the new nature 
there is a strong inclination which disposeth us to look after another 
world ; therefore it is said, ' Begotten to a lively hope,' 1 Peter i. 3. As 
soon as we are made children, we begin to look after a child's portion. 
There is another aim when we are born again ; then the heart is carried 
out to God. 

2. There lies their inheritance : Eph. f 3, ' Blessed be the God 
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all 
spiritual blessings in heavenly places/ Why! he hath blessed us 
with spiritual blessings in earthly places. Why is it said only 'in 
heavenly places'? There was their beginning, and there is their 
accomplishment. The main thing Christ aimed at was that we might 
be translated to heavenly places. Christ will set us high enough, and 
therefore he will not give us our portion in the world ; that is an un 
quiet place. Here we are not out of gunshot and harm's way. He 
would not give it us in an earthly paradise ; there Adam enjoyed God 
among beasts. He would give it us in the most glorious manner, that 


we might enjoy God among the angels. The world is not a fit place. 
Here God will show his bounty to all his children. It is a common 
inn, where sons and bastards are entertained ; a place of trial, not of 
recompense ; God's footstool, and not his throne, Isa. IxvL 1. The 
world is Satan's walk, the devil's circuit: 'Whence comest thou? 
From compassing the earth/ Job i. A place defiled with sin, Isa. 
xxiv. 5 ; ' given to the children of men/ Ps. cxv. 16. Here God will 
show his bounty to all his creatures, to beasts, and to all kinds of men. 
It is sometimes the slaughter-house and shambles of the saints : they 
are ' slain upon earth/ Eev. xviii. 24 ; a receptacle for elect and repro 
bate. Therefore here they have not their blessing ; our inheritance 
lies elsewhere. 

3. There are all our kindred. Ubi pater, ibi patria where our 
father is, there our country is. Now when we pray, we say to him, 
* Our Father which art in heaven.' There are we strangers, where we 
are absent from God, Christ, and glorified saints ; and while we are 
here upon earth we have not such enjoyment of God. There is our 
Father ; it is his house. Heaven is called our Father's house ; and 
there is ' our elder brother : ' Col. iii. 1, 'Set your hearts upon 
things above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God ; ' and 
there is the best of our kindred and family : ' They shall sit down with 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob/ Mat. viii. 11. Well, then, the children of 
God, they count themselves to be strangers here, because their kin 
dred are elsewhere. 

4. There they abide longest. That we account our home where we 
abide. An inn cannot be called our home, where we come but for a 
night, and away ; but now there we are ' for ever with the Lord.' 
Here we are in motion, there in rest. The world must be surely left. 
If we had a certain term of years fixed, yet it would be very short in 
comparison of eternity. All the time we spend here it is but a night, 
but a moment, in comparison of eternity. We live longest in the other 
world, and therefore there is our home : Micah ii. 10, * Arise, de 
part hence ; this is not your rest.' God speaks it of the land of 
Canaan, when they had polluted it with sin. It is true of all the 
world. Sin hath brought in death, and there must be a riddance. 
It is but a passage from danger. Israel dwelt first in a wandering 
camp, before they came to dwell in cities and walled towns ; and the 
apostle alludes to that, ' Here we have no abiding city ; we look for one 
to come.' As the Israelites did look for walled towns and cities of the 
Amorites to be possessed by them, so here we have but a wandering 
camp, we look for a city. ILnd mark, as it was with them in their 
outward estate, so in the mysteries of their religion ; they were first 
seated in a tabernacle, and then in a temple : in a tabernacle, which 
was a figure of the church ; then in a temple, which was a figure 
of heaven ; for you know, as in the temple there were three partitions 
the outward court, the holy place, and the holy of holies so 
there are three heavens. The third heaven Paul speaks of 'the 
heaven of heavens ' ; and there is the starry heaven, and the airy 
heaven, the outward court. This life being so frail, so fickle, we can 
not call our abode here our home. ' What is your life ? 7 saith the 
-apostle ; ' it is but as a vapour,' James iv. 14 ; a little warm breath 

VEB. 19.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 177 

turned in and out by the nostrils: Job vii. 1, 'Is there not an ap 
pointed time for man upon earth ? His days are as the days of an 
hireling/ A hired servant you do not intend should live with you for 
ever ; you hire him for a day or two, and when he hath ended his 
work, he receives his wages and is gone. So all our days are but a 
little while ; we do our service, and then we must be gone. Actors, 
when they have finished their parts, are seen no more. They go 
within the curtain. So when we have fulfilled our course, God fur- 
nisheth the world with a new scene of acts and actors. 

5. The necessary exercise of their graces doth make them count 
their lives here but a pilgrimage, and themselves but strangers upon 
earth, viz., faith, love, hope. 

[1.] Faith shows the truth and the worth of things to come. Faith 
will make them strangers : Heb. xi. 13, ' They saw these things and 
were persuaded of them, and they counted themselves pilgrims and 
strangers.' Oh ! were we persuaded of things to come, we would be 
hasting towards them. We cry, Home, home ! We talk of heaven 
and eternity, but we do not believe them. Sense and reason cannot 
out-see time, nor look above the clouds and mists of the lower world, 
' afar off/ in the apostle's phrase, 2 Peter i. 9 ; but faith shows the 
truth of things to come. We that are here upon earth, when we look 
to heaven, the stars seem to us but so many spangles. Oh ! but when 
we get into heaven and look downward, the world then will seem but 
as a molehill. That which now to sense seems such a glorious thing 
will be as nothing. 

[2.] The love of Christ which is in the saints makes them to account 
themselves as strangers. A child of God cannot be satisfied with things 
here below, because his love is set upon God. Two things the heart 
looks after, as soon as it is awakened by grace, and love puts us upon 
them both, viz., a perfect enjoyment of God, and a perfect obedience to 
God. (1.) That they may be with God and Christ. The saints have 
heard much of Christ, read much of him, tasted and felt much of 
him ; they would fain see him, and be with him, Phil. i. 23. If they 
had the choicest contentment the world could afford, this would not 
satisfy them so much as to be there 'where Christ is, and to be 
hold his glory/ The apostle thinks this to be motive enough to a 
gracious heart to seek things above, for there ' Christ is at the right 
hand of God ;' love will catch hold of that, Col. iii. 1. The place is 
lovely for Christ's sake. Love will not suffer them to count this to be 
their home. Though Christ is present with them now spiritually 
while they are here, yet the presence and nearness is but distance, but 
a kind of absence, compared with that which is to come ; and there 
fore this very presence doth not quench their desires, but kindles them, 
and sets them a-longing for more. All the presence, the communion, 
the sight of Christ they get now, is but mediate, through the glass of 
the ordinance, 1 Cor. xiii. 12 ; and it is frequently interrupted, his 
face is many times hidden, Ps. xxx. 7 ; and it is not full, as it shall 
be there, Ps. xvi. 11. But now in heaven it will be immediate; God 
will be ' all in all ; ' and there it will be constant, * they shall be ever 
with the Lord ; ' and there they shall be ' satisfied with his likeness/ Ps, 
xvii. 15 ; then they shall enjoy his presence indeed. So that love 

VOL. VI. 31 


upon these considerations sets them a-longing and groaning. (2.) As 
love makes them desire the company of Christ, so entire subjection to 
( iod ; they would have perfect grace and freedom from sin, therefore 
are ever groaning, Oh ! when shall we be rid of this body of death ? 
Eom. vii. 23. There is a final perfect estate for which the new 
creature was made, and they are ever tending towards that happy 
state wherein they shall grieve God no more. 

[3.] Hope was made for things to come, especially for our full and 
final happiness. God fits us with graces as well as happiness ; not 
only grants us a glorious estate, but gives us grace to expect it. 
Hope would be of no use if it did not lift up the head, and look 
out for a better estate than the world yieldeth. Hope fastens upon 
God's title in the covenant, 'I am thy God.' Now God could 
not with honour take this title, and give us no better than present 
things : Heb. xi. 16, ' Wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their 
God, for he hath prepared for them a city/ Mark the apostle's 
reason. Many expound these words so as if the meaning were but 
this, that they did only express God's condescension, that he would 
take his title, not from the potentates of the world, but from a few 
wandering patriarchs ; that God was not ashamed to be called their 
God. Alas ! the words have a quite other sense. Kather it ex- 
presseth an answerable bounty : unless the Lord would give them 
something answerable to their hopes, more than was visible in the 
lives of the patriarch, God would be ashamed to be called their God. 
Do but look upon the slenderness of their condition. If that he gave 
them in the world were all their reward, what is this to own that 
magnificent title, ' I am the God of Abraham,' &c. No ; now he hath 
something better than all the honours and riches of the world ; now he 
may fitly be called their God. Christ builds the doctrine of the resur 
rection upon the same argument, ' God is the God of Abraham,' &c. ; 
therefore they shall have a blessed estate in soul and body, Mat. xxii. 
32. To be a God to any, is to be a benefactor, and that according to 
the extent and largeness of an infinite and eternal power. 

Use 1. Are you strangers and pilgrims? David, and such as he 
was, that were of his stamp, counted themselves strangers upon earth. 
If you be so 

1. You will always be drawing home, and would not desire to stay 
long from Christ. A traveller would pass over his journey as soon as he 
can, and be hastening homeward : Phil. i. 23, ' I desire to be dissolved, 
and to be with Christ/ Is there any looking, longing, waiting for 
your blessed estate ? It is no hard matter to get a Christian out of 
the world ; his better part is gone already, his heart is there. Do your 
hearts draw homeward ? Are your desires stronger and stronger every 
day after eternal life ? Natural motion grows swifter and swifter still, 
as it draws nearer and nearer its centre. So certainly a Christian, if 
he had the motions of the new nature, he would be drawing homeward 
more every day. 

2. What provision do you make for another world if you are 
strangers ? Many bestow all their labour and travail about earthly 
things, and neglect their precious and immortal souls. They are at 
home ; all their care is that they may live well here. Christians ! 

VER. 19.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 179 

what provision do you make for heaven ? A traveller doth not buy 
such things as he cannot carry with him, as trees, houses, household 
stuff; but jewels, pearls, and such as are portable. Our wealth doth 
not follow us into the other world, but our works do. We are travelling 
to a country whose commodities will not be bought with gold and silver, 
and therefore are we storing ourselves for heaven, for such things as 
are current there. Men that make a voyage to the Indies will carry 
such wares as are acceptable there, else they do nothing. Do you 
make it your business every day to get clearer evidences for heaven, 
to treasure up a good foundation, 1 Tim. vi. 19; and do you labour 
every day to grow more meet for heaven, Col. i. 12. That is the 
great work of a Christian, to get evidences and a meetness for heaven. 
These are the months of our purification ; we are now to cleanse our 
selves for the embraces of the great God. When we grow more 
mortified, strict, holy, heavenly, then we ripen apace, and hasten home 
ward : Ps. Ixxxiv. 7, ' They shall go on from strength to strength,' &c. 
Every degree of grace it is a step nearer ; and therefore do you grow 
more meet for this blessed estate. 

3. In the fulness of your worldly enjoyments do you mind your 
country? He that was going pilgrim to Jerusalem, cried out, Oh, 
this is not the holy city ! So, whatever enjoyments you have, do your 
hearts call you off, and say, Soul, this is not thy rest ; this is not that 
thou shouldst take comfort in ; thou art bound for heaven ? Do you 
miss your country and your parents ? The men of the world would 
have their portion here, here is their rest ; but when you have most of 
the world at will, are you strangers ? 1 Cor. vii. 31, ' Using this 
world as not abusing it ; ' that is, so making use of God's bounty as 
expecting a greater happiness. How do we use the world as not 
abusing it ? When we use it as a type, as a motive, and as a help to 
heaven. As a kind of type, the enjoyment of temporal things should 
stir us up to a more serious consideration of heavenly ; as the prodigal's 
husks put him in mind of bread in his father's house. The company 
of your relations puts you in mind of the company of God and Christ. 
The cities of the Amorites, their walled towns, put the patriarchs in 
mind of a city which had foundations, Heb. xi. 16. If an earthly city 
be so glorious, what is the heavenly city ? These are the comforts of 
a strange place. You abuse them when you forget home, and therefore 
take heed ; if the creature be sweet, heaven is better. And when you 
use them as a motive to serve God more cheerfully, the more you find 
him a good master : 1 Tim. vi. 17, ' Trust in the living God, who 
giveth us richly all things to enjoy ; ' to make you more earnest in 
good works. 2 Sam. vii. 2, saith David there, * I dwell in a house of 
cedar, and the ark of God within curtains/ When you have such 
kind of reasonings stirred up within you What do I for God, that 
hath enlarged my house here ? And when you use them as a help, 
your worldly enjoyments as instruments of piety and. charity. Here is 
a man's trial, what he doth in a feill condition, whether his heart be 
for home still, yea or nay ; when he hath the world at will, if then he 
be treasuring up a good foundation, and encouraging himself to serve 
God faithfully. 

4. What is your solace in your affliction, and the inconveniences 


that you meet with in your pilgrimage ? Doth this comfort you 
Home will pay for all ? Heb. x. 34, ' Ye took joyfully the spoiling of 
your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and 
enduring substance/ Do you reckon upon a more enduring substance ? 
Though the world frown upon you as a step-mother, yet you remem 
ber you have a better home. From whence do you fetch your supports 
in any cross ? Doth this comfort you in the midst of the molestations 
of the world ? They do not know your birth, your breeding, your 
hopes, nor your expectations. Strangers may be abused in a foreign 
place ; when we come home, this will be forgotten. The saints walk 
up and down like a prince that travels abroad in disguise ; though he 
be slighted, abused, he doth not appear what he shall be. You have a 
glorious inheritance reserved for you; this is your cordial and the 
reviving of your souls, and that which doth your heart good to think 
of ; and so you can be contented to suffer loss and inconveniences upon 
these hopes. The discourse between Modestus, a governor under 
Valens, and Basil, in Nazianzen his twentieth Oration, is very notable. 
I shall only transcribe what is exactly to the purpose in hand. When 
he threatened him with banishment, I know no banishment, saith he, 
who know no abiding-place here in the world. I do not count this 
place mine, nor can I say the other is not mine ; rather all is God's, 
whose stranger and pilgrim I am. This was that which supported 
him in the midst of those threatenings. Therefore from whence do 
you fetch your support. 

5. If religion be kept up in height and majesty, the world will 
count you strangers, they will stand wondering at your conversation, 
1 Peter iv. 4. Men gaze upon those that come hither in a foreign 
habit, that do not conform to the fashions of the country ; and so a 
child of God is wondered at, that walks in a counter-motion to the 
studies and practices of other men, as one that is not conformed to the 
world, Eom. xii. 2. What do you discover of the spirit of your country, 
so as to convince others ? 

This much by way of inquiry, namely, whether we are strangers, 
yea or nay ? 

Use 2. Behave yourselves as strangers here upon earth. 

1. Avoid ' fleshly lusts/ 1 Peter ii. 11 ; these cloud the eye, and 
besot the heart, and make us altogether for a present good ; they 
weaken our desires of heaven. It is the apostle's argument, ' As 
strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts.' The flesh-pots of 
Egypt made Israel to despise Canaan; and so this is that which 
will take off our hearts from things to come, from the inheritance 
of the saints in light, and from that blessed estate God hath pro 

2. Grasp not at too much of the world ; but what comes with a fair 
providence upon honest endeavours, accept with thanks : 1 Tim. vi. 9, 
' They that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare,' &c. The 
devil hath you upon the hip, when you make that your business and 
scope ; not he that is, but will be rich, that fixes that as his scope. 
Then the heart is filled with sins, and the head with cares. 

3. If an estate comes in slowly, remember, a little will serve our 
turns to heaven ; more would be but a burden and snare. Those that 

VER. 19.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 181 

have their portion here, most of worldly things, what do they get by 
it ? A little belly-cheer, Ps. xvii. 14, ' and they leave the rest to their 
babes.' Dainty cheer is no great matter ; and to leave our posterity 
great is but to leave them in a snare. Children are under a providence 
and a covenant as well as we, and it is blasphemous to think we can 
provide for them better than God. 

4. If God give abundance, rest not in it with a carnal complacency : 
Ps. Ixii. 10, ' If riches increase, set not your heart on them.' Suffer not 
thy heart to rejoice in them as your only portion, so as to grow proud 
of them, so as to count them your good things, Luke xvi. 25 ; you that 
are strangers have better things to mind. 

5. Keep up a warm respect to your everlasting home. It is not 
enough to despise the world, but you must look after a better country. 
Many of a slight temper may despise worldly profits ; their corrup 
tions do not run out that way : Heb. xiii. 14, ' We have here no abid 
ing city, but we seek one to come.' Desires, thoughts, and groans, 
these are the harbingers of the soul that we send into the land of 
promise. By this means we tell God that we would be at home. 

6. Enjoy as much of heaven as you can in your pilgrimage, in ordi 
nances, in the first-fruits of the Spirit, in communion with saints, 
Grace is but young glory, and joy in the Holy Ghost is the suburbs ' 
of heaven ; and therefore you should get somewhat of your country 
before you come at it. As the winds do carry the odours and sweet 
smells of Arabia into the neighbouring provinces, so by the breathings 
of the Holy Ghost upon our hearts do we get a smell of the upper 
paradise ; it is in some measure begun in us before we can get thither ; 
and therefore enjoy as much of heaven as possibly you can in the time 
of your pilgrimage. We have our taste here ; it is begun in union 
with Christ, and in the work of grace upon the heart. And in 
ordinances. Prayer brings us to the throne of grace ; it gives us an 
entrance into God's presence : Heb. x. 19, the apostle calls it, ' a bold 
ness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.' A Christian 
enters heaven while he is here in the world. In the word preached 
heaven is brought down to us. The gospel is called the kingdom of 
heaven. And by reading we do as it were converse with the saints 
departed, that writ what we read. Meditation brings us into the com 
pany of God ; it puts our heads above the clouds, in the midst of 
blessed spirits there. As if we saw Jesus Christ upon the throne, and 
his saints triumphing about him. Communion of saints is heaven 
begun ; therefore you that are strangers should much delight there.. 
A man that is abroad would be glad to meet with his own country 
men ; we should be glad of company to go with us to heaven ; these 
are to be our companions for evermore, therefore we should converse 
with them here. 

Secondly, I proceed to the latter clause, ' Hide not thy command 
ments from me/ Here is his request. To make short work of it, I 
shall endeavour to make out the connection and sense of these words 
in these propositions. 

1. Every man here upon earth, especially a godly man, is but a 
stranger and passenger. Every man is so in point of condition ; he 
must go hence, and quit all his enjoyments in the world wicked men 


whether they will or no ; but a godly man is so in affection, and can 
not be satisfied with his present state. This I have insisted upon. 

2. It concerns him that is a stranger to look after a better and more 
durable state. Every man should do so. He that lives here for a while 
is concerned ; his greatest care should be for that place where he lives 
longest ; therefore eternity should be his scope. A godly man will do so. 
Those whose hearts are not set upon earthly things, they must have 
heaven. The more their affections are estranged from the one, the more 
they are taken up about the other, Col. iii. 2. Heaven and earth are 
like two scales in a balance ; that which is taken from the one is put 
into the other. 

3. There is no sufficient direction how to attain this durable estate 
but in the word of God. Without this we are but like poor pilgrims and 
wayfaring men in a strange country, not able to discern the way home. 
A blessed state is only sufficiently revealed in the word : 2 Tim. i. 10, 
' Life and immortality is brought to light in the gospel.' The heathens 
did but guess at it, and had some obscure sense of an estate after this 
life ; but it is brought to light with most clearness in the word ; so the 
way thither is only pointed out by the word. It is the word of God 
makes us wise to salvation, and our line and rule to lead us to the 
heavenly Canaan ; and therefore it concerns those that look after this 
durable state, to consult with the word. 

4. There is no understanding God's word but by the light of the 
Spirit : Job xxxii. 8, ' There is a spirit in man ; but the inspiration of 
the Almighty, that giveth understanding.' Though the word have light 
in it, yet the spirit of man cannot move till he enlightens us with that 
lively light that makes way for the dominion of the truth in our hearts, 
and conveyeth influence into our hearts. This is that light David begs 
when he saith, ' Hide not thy commandments from me.' David was 
not ignorant of the ten commandments, of their sound ; but he begs 
their spiritual sense and use. 

5. If we would have the Spirit, we must ask it of God in prayer ; 
for God ' gives the Spirit to those that ask him,' Luke xi. 13 ; and 
therefore we must say, as David, Ps. xliii. 3, ' Oh, send out thy light and 
thy truth : let them lead me ; let them bring me to thy holy hill, to 
thy tabernacle.' 

6. When we beg it of God, we must do it with submission to his 
sovereignty, and with subscription to his justice. Therefore doth David 
use this manner of speech, ' Hide not thy commandments from me.' 
God doth hide when he doth not open our eyes to see. Now the Lord 
may choose whether he will do this or no ; for he is sovereign, and may 
in justice forbear to do so, because we have abused the light we have ; 
it will be hid from us unless he reveal it. The mystery of grace is 
wholly at God's dispose ; and whosoever begs it, he must refer himself 
to the holy and sovereign good pleasure of God, who may give out and 
withhold his efficacious grace according to his pleasure : Mat. xi. 25, 
26, ' I thank thee, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid 
these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto 
babes ; even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.' Here is 
the Lord's sovereignty ; he doth in these things as he pleaseth ; there 
fore David submits to it. And then it implies, it may be just with 

VER. 20.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 183 

God to leave us unto our natural blindness, and suffer Satan to blind 
us more. It is fully consistent with the honour of his justice ; there 
fore it is said, John xii. 40, * He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened 
their hearts/ &c. ; that is, judicially, suffering them to increase their 
own blindness by their sin ; blindness, that is their sin ; and the Lord 
may leave it as a judgment upon them. 

Use. Here is direction to you that know you are but pilgrims. The 
great thing you should seek after is the straightest way to heaven. If 
you have a sense of eternity, and a sense of your present frailty, you 
should look how to get home to your country. To this end 

1. Study the word. Why ? This is your antidote against infection, 
and a cordial to cheer us in the way. It is an antidote against infection : 
2 Peter i. 4, ' By the promises we escape the corruption that is in the 
world through lust.' The world is an infectious place ; therefore you 
had need take the promises next your heart to keep your hopes alive. 
And here is your cordial to keep you from fainting, that which makes 
you to rejoice in the midst of present afflictions, Ps. cxix. 54. It is 
a cordial to cheer us up, to revive us in the way, till we come to our 
journey's end. This will make up losses, sweeten difficulties, allay 
your sorrows. Then it is your direction, the way to lead you home : 
Ps. cxix. 105, ' Thy word is a light to my feet and a lantern to my 
paths.' We shall soon pass over this life ; all our care should be to 
pass it over well, there are so many by-paths in the world, and in a 
strange place we may soon miscarry. 

2. Entreat the Lord of his abundant grace to pity poor strangers, 
who are ignorant ; and desire him he would not hide his word from 
you, that you may walk in the nearest, closest way wherein he would 
have you walk. He may hide it from you as an absolute supreme 
Lord, for he is bound to give his grace to none ; and he may do it as 
a just judge ; he may leave you to your own infatuations and pre 
judices. Say, Lord, pity a poor stranger and pilgrim. 

The word may be hidden two ways, and take care of both : 

1. In point of external administration, when the powerful means are 
wanting. Oh ! it is a great mark of God's displeasure, when men are 
given up by their own choice to blind guides, to those that have no skill 
or no will to edify, or no abilities rightly to divide the word of truth ; 
only fill the ear with clamour and noise, but do not inform conscience, 
or move the heart by solid and powerful instruction from the word of God. 

2. In point of internal influence, when the comforts and quickenings 
of the Spirit are withholden : ' Lord, withhold not thy Spirit from me/ 


My soul breakethfor the longing it hath unto thy judgments at all 
times. VER. 20. 

DAVID had begged divine illumination, ver. 18. The reason of his 
request was, because he was a stranger upon earth, and a stranger 
may easily be bewildered. Now here is a second reason why he would 


have God to open his eyes, because his heart was carried out with so 
strong an affection to the word. He that asketh a thing coldly doth 
but bespeak his own denial. But David was in good earnest when he 
prayeth for light ; it was not a dead-hearted, perfunctory petition, but 
such as came from an ardent, strong affection, ' My soul breaketh,' &c. 
In the words we have 

1. The object of David's affection, thy judgments. 

2. The quality or kind of his affection : 

[1.] It was vehement, my soul breaketh with longing. 

[2.] It was constant, at all times. 

By misphalim, judgments, is meant the word, which is the infallible 
rule of God's proceeding with sinners. 

For the affection, I shall open that, and there first speak of the 
vehemency, ' My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath.' It is a 
metaphorical expression, to set forth the earnestness of his affection. 
The Septuagint renders it thus : eTre-jroOrjaev fj ^vyy /JLOV TO e-Tuflu/^oYu 
ra KpljjLard <rov ' My soul coveteth to desire thy judgments/ Desirfe 
is the stretching forth of the soul to the thing desired. Now as things 
that are stretched out do break and crack in stretching; so, saith 
David, ' My soul breaketh for the longing.' Here is no respect to 
brokenness of heart in this place, it is only strength of desire that is 
expressed ; and the expression is used the rather 

1. Because affections, when strong, are painful, and affect the body 
with impressions answerable thereunto. 

2. Not only the denial, but the delay of satisfying the affection, 
increaseth the pain. When they have not what they do desire, they 
are even broken in heart ; as Prov. xiii. 12, ' Hope deferred maketh 
the heart sick ; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life ; ' like 
apples of paradise, comforting and reviving. Now the constancy and 
continuance of this desire is set forth in these words, at all times ; not 
for a flash and pang, but it was the ordinary frame of his heart. 

Doct. God's children have a strong, constant, and earnest bent of 
affection towards his word. 

1. To open the nature of this affection. 

2. The reasons of it. 

First, The nature. There consider the object, the end, the pro 
perties, and the effects. 

1. The object of this affection is the word of God written or 
preached. As it is written in the scriptures, so it is their constant 
exercise to read it, and consult with it often : Ps. i. 2, ' But his delight 
is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and 
night ' ; and Josh. i. 8, ' This book of the law shall not depart out of 
thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate therein day and night.' As it is 
preached and explained : they submit to God's ordinance in that also, 
who hath appointed pastors and teachers, as well as prophets and 
apostles : Eph. iv. 11 prophets and apostles to write scriptures ; so 
pastors and teachers to open and apply scripture ; therefore James i. 
19, they are ' swift to hear ; ' that is, take all occasions for that end 
and purpose. 

2. For the end of this affection ; it is a sanctified subjection to God ; 
and strength and growth in the spiritual life : 1 Peter ii. 2, ' As new- 

VEK. 20.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 185 

born babes desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow 

thereby ; ' not merely that you may know, but that you may grow 

thereby ; not to replenish the head with notions, but that you may in- 

jsrease in spiritual strength, and find more liberty of heart towards God. 

3. For the properties of it. You have them here in the text : 

El.] They must be earnest. 
2.J A constant bent of heart. 
1.] An earnest bent of heart. Common and ordinary affection or 
desire after the word will not serve the turn ; not a faint and cold 
wish, but such as hath heat and warmth in it. It is good to see by 
what expressions the desires of the saints are set forth in scripture. 
By the desire of infants after the breast, 1, Peter ii. 2 ; they cannot live 
without it. It is set forth also by the panting of the hart after the 
water-brooks, Ps. xlii. 1. To meet with God in his word is as a 
brook of water to a chased hart ; it refresheth and revives it. It is 
set forth by the desires of a longing woman, ver. 40 of this psalm, 
1 Behold I have longed after thy precepts.' The children of God are 
fond of nothing so much as of his word and ordinances. It is set forth 
by the appetite which a hungry man hath toward his meat after a 
long abstinence : Ps. Ixxxiv. 2, ' My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth, 
for the courts of the Lord.' Or, as a weary traveller and thirsty man- 
longeth after drink : Ps. Ixiii. 1, ' My soul thirsteth for thee/ &c. Or. 
as cool air to the weary: Ps. cxix. 131, 'I opened my mouth and 
panted ; for I longed for thy commandments ; ' a metaphor taken from 
a man tired with running, gaping for breath to take in some cool air 
and refreshing. What think you of all these expressions ? are they 
strains and reaches of wit, or the real experiences of the children of 
God ? The truth is, we have such languid motions this way, that we 
know not how to understand the force of such expressions, therefore 
we think them to be conceits, we that are so cold and indifferent 
whether we meet with God in his word, yea or nay. 

[2.] As it is not cold, so it is not fleeting, but constant. Many men 
have good affections for a while, but they abide not ; as I shall give 
you some kinds. 

(1.) Some out of error in judgment think the word of God is only 
fit for novices (as the Stancarists 1 ), to enter us into the rudiments of 
religion, but too low a dispensation for our after growth. It is milk 
for babes, they think ; but afterwards we must live immediately uponr 
the Spirit. But we see that David's affection ever carried him to the 
word, not only at his first acquaintance with God, but at all times, as 
in the text. 

(2.) Some prize the word in adversity, when they have no other 
comforts to live upon ; then they can be content to study the word to 
comfort them in their distresses ; but when they are well at ease they 
despise it. But David made use of it at all times ; in prosperity, to 
humble him ; in adversity, to comfort him ; in the one, to keep him 
from pride ; in the other, to keep him from despair : in affliction the 
word was his cordial ; in worldly increase it was his antidote ; and so- 

1 Stancarus was professor of Hebrew at Kb'nigsberg, where he maintained a violent 
controversy with Osiander. He afterwards went into Poland, where he excited much, 
commotion. There he died in 1574. ED. 


at all times his heart was carried out to the word either for one neces 
sity or another. 

(3.) Some during a qualm of conscience have an affection for holy 
things ; as we desire strong waters in a pang, not for a constant diet. 
While the terrors of God are upon them, nothing will satisfy them 
but the word : Oh, ' send for Moses and Aaron/ then when the plague 
was upon them ; but as their trouble wears off, so doth their affection 
to the word of God. It is fear that drives them to the word, and not 

(4.) Some out of a general sense of the excellency that is in the 
word ; they go on smoothly for a while, as Herod, who heard gladly, 
Mark vi. 20. So do many till the word come to cross their lusts and 
touch their darling sin, then they run to earthly pleasures again, and 
out of a sense of difficulty and carnal despondency, they give over the 

(5.) Some are taken with the mere novelty : John v. 35, ' Ye were 
willing to rejoice in his light for a season ;' while the doctrine is novel, 
and ministers have countenance from great men, as John had from 
Herod, and their gifts are in the flourish none but John in their 
account; but when the conceit of novelty was gone, and John fell 
under the cross, then their affection was spent. 

(6.) Some in case of dubious anxiety, or in doubtful debates, may 
desire to know the truth, and be much and earnest in the study of the 
word ; but when they get above their scruples, and in plain truths, 
ordinary cases, they neglect it. Whereas David longed for the word 
of God at all times, to feel the power of God accompanying it, so as to 
find strength against his corruptions, and that he might be established 
in waiting upon God. This was the constant and stable desire of his 

Thus you see the word of God is the object, either read or preached. 
The end of it is, that they may grow in grace, and that their hearts 
may be more subjected to God, and may be strengthened in waiting 
upon him : and the manner of this desire is vehement and constant ; 
not at times ; but it is the usual frame and temper of their hearts. 

4. The effects of this desire, what it worketh. I will mention but 
two : 

[1.] It draws off the heart from other things : Ps. cxix. 136, ' Incline 
my heart unto thy testimonies, and not unto covetousness ; ' implying, 
that when the heart is drawn out after God's testimonies, it is drawn 
off from carnal pursuits. Desires are the vigorous bent of the soul, 
and therefore, as the stream of a river, they can run but one way. 
Our passionate desires of earthly things certainly will be abated if 
spiritual desires prevail in us ; for being acquainted with a better 
object, they begin to disdain and loathe other things. 

[2.] It maketh us diligent and painful in the use of means, that we 
may get knowledge and strength by the word. Where strong desires 
are, there will be great endeavours : Prov. viii. 34, ' Watching daily 
at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.' A man that hath a 
desire after grace and strength by the word of God will daily be 
redeeming occasions of waiting upon God. It is but a slight wish, 
not serious desire, that is not seconded with answerable endeavours. 

VER. 20.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 187 

Secondly, Having opened the nature of these desires, let me show 
the reasons of this vehement and constant bent of heart towards the 
word of God. 

1. Of the vehemency. 

2. Of the constancy. 

First, The reasons of this vehemency; they are these natural 
instinct, experience, and necessity. 

[1.] Natural instinct: 1 Peter ii. 2, 'As new-born babes desire the 
sincere milk of the word.' Children desire the dug, not by instruction, 
but by instinct, without a teacher. All creatures desire to preserve 
that life which they have ; and therefore by a natural propension they 
run to that thing from whence they received life. Mere instinct 
carrieth the brute creatures to the teats of their dams ; and every 
effect looks to the cause, to receive from thence its last perfection. 
Trees, that receive life from the earth and the sun, they send forth 
their branches to receive the sun, and stretch their roots into the 
earth which brought them forth. Fishes will not out of the water 
which breeds them. Chickens are no sooner out of the shell, but 
they shroud themselves under the feathers of the hen. The little 
lamb runs to the dam's teat, though there be a thousand sheep of the 
same wool and colour ; as if it said, here I received that I have, and 
here I '11 seek that I want. By such a native inbred desire do the 
saints run to God, to seek a supply of strength and nourishment ; and 
the desire is very strong and vehement : ' One thing have I desired of 
the Lord, that will I seek after/ &c. There were other things David 
might desire, but this one thing his heart was set upon, that he might 
enjoy constant communion with God in the use of public ordinances. 
What is the reason of this ? I answer The spiritual nature. You 
may as well ask what teacheth the young lambs to suck, as who 
taught the regenerate to long for the word. What teacheth the 
chicken to run under the wing of the hen ? The cause of appetite 
is not persuasion and discourse, but inclination ; not argument, but 
nature. Appetite is an effect of life. By natural tendency the new 
creature is carried out to its support from the word of God, there to 
be comforted and nourished. It shows that all who have not such a 
kindly appetite to the word of God, that can relish nothing but meats, 
drinks, wealth, vanity, they were never acquainted with this new 

[2.] Experience is another cause of this desire. A child of God is 
not satisfied with a slight taste of the word, but he desires more ; 
when he hath felt the comfort of it, he is still longing to receive more 
from God : James i. 18, ' He hath begotten us by the word of truth.' 
What follows ? ' Wherefore be swift to hear.' A man that hath had 
experience of the power of the word taketh all occasions ; he knows 
there is strength, grace, and liberty of heart to be found there. So 
1 Peter ii. 3, ' As new-born babes, &c., if so be ye have tasted that 
the Lord is gracious.' Certainly a man that hath had any taste of 
communion with God will desire a fuller measure, as by tasting of 
excellent meats we get an appetite to them. Carnal men do not 
know what it is to enjoy God in ordinances, and therefore do not 
long for them ; they do not taste the sweetness of the word : Ps. xix. 


10, 'The statutes of the Lord are sweeter than the honey or the 
honeycomb.' The children of God find more true pleasure in the 
ordinances, in the statutes of God, than in all things in the world, 
though to carnal men they are but as dry sticks, burdensome exercises. 
The reason follows, ver. 11, ' Moreover, by them is thy servant warned ; 
and in keeping of them there is great reward/ He commendeth the 
word from his own experience ; he had felt the effects and good use 
of it in his own heart ; he had been warned, and had a great deal of 
comfort and refreshing by it ; therefore it is sweeter than the honey 
and the honeycomb. So Ps. Ixiii. 1,2, ' God, my soul thirsteth for 
thee, my flesh longeth for thee.' What to do ? ' To see thy power 
and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.' He that hath 
had once a sight of God, would not be long out of his company. He 
compareth his desire of communion with God with hunger and thirst ; 
his desire is greater than the hunger and thirst that men suffer in a 
dry wilderness where there is no water to give refreshment. He had 
seen God, and would now see him again ; the remembrance of those 
former pleasures of the sanctuary revived his desires : so that besides 
nature, there is this experience. 

[3.] The next cause is necessity. We should take delight in the 
word of God for its excellency, though we stood in no need of it. But 
our necessity is very great, and this awakens desire. The word is not 
only compared to things which make for conveniency of life, as to 
wine and honey, but is compared also to things that are of absolute 
necessity, bread and water. It is called ' bread of life,' and ' water of 
life.' Bread of life ; we cannot live without it : Job xxiii. 12, * I have 
esteemed the words of thy mouth more than my necessary food/ 
Food is that which keeps us in life, and enables us to action and work. 
And as water: Isa. xii. 3, ' With joy shall ye draw water out of the 
wells of salvation/ This is as water to a fainting traveller. Christian, 
the soul is better than the body, and eternal life is to be preferred 
before life natural ; therefore the necessities of the soul are greater, 
and should be more urging than the necessities of the body. The 
famine of the word is threatened as a very great evil, Amos viii. 11. 
Now because the necessities of the saints are so great, therefore have 
they their hearts carried out with such longing after the statutes of 
God. And this necessity is not only at first, when they are weak, but 
it continueth with them as long as the imperfection continueth with 
them, and till they come to heaven. Every grace in a child of God 
needs increase and support; there is something that is lacking to 
their faith, to their love, to their knowledge: 1 Thes. iii. 10, the 
apostle saith, ' That I might perfect that which is lacking to your 
faith.' They that are above ordinances are not acquainted with their 
own hearts, they are not men of spiritual experience, they do not know 
the weaknesses and languishings a child of God is incident to ; it is 
wholly inconsistent to the nature of grace. Wherever there is life 
there must be food, because of the constant depastion of the natural 
heat upon the natural moisture. Though the stomach be never so- 
full at present, yet anon it will be hungry again. So because of the 
constant combat that is between the flesh and spirit, wherever there 
is spiritual life it will be sensible of the necessity of food. Well, 

VER. 20.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 189 

then, it is hunger and necessity that sharpens appetite ; being sensible 
of spiritual languishing, and need to repair strength daily, therefore 
are their hearts carried out. Thus you see the reasons of this vehe 
ment affection. 

Secondly, The reasons of the constancy of this respect. 

1. Because it is natural and kindly to the regenerate ; therefore, as 
it is vehement, so it is constant. For it is not a light motion, but 
such as is deeply rooted ; not a good liking, but a thorough bent of 
heart ; it is that which settleth into another nature. Now that which 
is as a nature to us is known by its uniformity and constancy. 

2. They love the word for its own sake, as it is God's word ; there 
fore they ever love it. Other men love it for foreign reasons, as out 
of novelty, which is an adulterous affection ; or out of public coun 
tenance, as it is in fashion and repute, and therefore are soon weary 
of it. He that loves a woman for foreign reasons, as beauty and por 
tion, when these cease, his love ceaseth. 

Use 1. Is to reprove the coldness and cursed satiety and loathing 
of the word of God that is abroad. There is a plenty of means, even 
to a surfeit. Men are gospel-glutted, Christ-glutted, and sermon- 
glutted ; and therefore are at a very great indifferency, and under a 
mighty coldness as to the word of God. Usually we are more sensible 
of the benefit of the word in the want of it than we are in the enjoy 
ment of it : 1 Sam. iii. 1, * The word of the Lord was precious in those 
days ; there was no open vision.' When the public ministry of the 
prophets was rare and scarce, then it was precious and sweet. When 
the Papists denied the use of the scripture in the vulgar tongue, oh ! 
what would we give then for a little scrap and fragment of the word 
of God in English ! a load of hay for a chapter in James. So in 
times of restraint, how savoury is a godly sermon ! But now visions 
are open, men begin to surfeit of the word. In semet ipsam, saith 
Tertullian, semper dbundantia contumeliosa est plenty lesseneth the 
price of things. As in Solomon's time, gold and silver were as dirt 
in the streets, 1 Kings x. 32, so the word of God, though it be so precious 
and excellent, yet when we have plenty of it, line upon line, precept 
upon precept, by God's indulgence, then we begin to be glutted. 
People grow wanton when they have abundance of means. This is 
the temper of English professors at this day ; they are guilty of sur 
feiting of the word, and that is very dangerous, either of a people or 
person. Now, that there is such a fulness and satiety appears partly 

1. By seldom attendance upon the word. We do not redeem time 
to hear the word ; when brought home to our doors, we seldom step 
out to hear it. They use to say, a surfeit of bread is most dangerous ; 
surely a surfeit of the bread of life is so ; when men are full, and 
begin to despise the word as if not worth the hearing. God usually 
sends a famine to correct that surfeit of the word : Amos viii. 11, 12, 
' I will send a famine of hearing the word of the Lord, and they shall 
wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall 
run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.' 
Usually that is the way that God taketh for a glutted people, that 
scorn and neglect the word, when they might gather it in like manna 
from heaven every day ; that they may ride many miles before they 


hear a savoury sermon ; and then those that were not for the word, or 
desirous to be rid of it, may long for a little comfort and reviving by 
it, and cannot enjoy it. 

2. Men bewray this satiety and fulness of the word by fond affec 
tation of luscious strains ; wholesome doctrines will not down with 
them, unless it be cooked and sauced to their wanton appetites. O 
Christians ! the spiritual appetite desires TO \oyiicbv aSo\ov <yd\a, 
' the sincere milk of the word/ 1 Peter ii. 2 unmixed milk ; give 
them plain, simple milk, without human mixtures and compositions. 
The relish of the word is spoiled by the garish strains of a frothy 
eloquence. A plain solid truth is more suitable to a gracious heart. 
A man that hath a natural instinct to the word delights in the 
simplicity of it. An infant hath a distinguishing palate, and knows 
the mother's milk, and pukes and casts when it sucks another. So 
certainly, if we had true spiritual life, we would be delighted in the 
word for the word's sake, the more plain it is, provided it be sound. 
I am not for a loose, careless delivering of God's message ; but it is 
the sound, plain, and wholesome ministry which suits with a gracious 
appetite. It argues a distempered heart when we must have quails 
and dainties, and loathe manna. Consider ; in heaven, where we have 
the most simple apprehension of things, we have the highest affection 
to them; no need of rhetoric in heaven. And certainly the more 
heavenly we are, the more perfect in grace, the more wisdom shall 
we see in plain scriptural truth, infinitely exceeding all the wisdom of 
the heathen. Many think the word of God too plain for their mouths 
to preach it ; others too stale for their ears to hear it ; and they must 
have the fancies of men : Jer. viii. 9, ' They have rejected my word ; 
and what wisdom is in them ? ' It is strange to see how many will dis 
guise religion to please the lusts of men. They mock Christ, as the 
soldiers did, that put a centurion's coat upon him for a robe, and then, 
' Hail, King of the Jews.' So they wrap up Christ in the foolish 
garments of their own fancy, and so expose him to mockage rather 
than reverence. 

3. This satiety bewrays itself by our affections to novel opinions, 
and erroneous conceits : 2 Tim. iv. 3, ' The time will come that they 
will not endure sound doctrine, having itching ears, and shall turn 
away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.' 
Observe it when you will, that soul is nigh to spiritual blasting that 
begins to have a loathing of a plain truth ; and men must have new 
things and conceits in religion, and so grow weary of opinions, as they 
do of fashions ; and then by God's just judgment they run from one 
fancy to another, till they quite run themselves out of breath, and 
have shaken off all religion and good conscience. Therefore take 
heed of being given up to this vertiginous spirit, to be turned and 
4 tossed up and down with every wind of doctrine/ Eph. iv. 14. Hepifa- 
po^voi, the apostle's word, signifies to be carried round in a circle ; 
he alludes to a mariner's compass, 1 that is carried by every wind ; 
this wind takes them, and then another ; such light chaff are men 

1 Manton could scarcely suppose that the mariner's compass was known to the apostle 
Neither would the description be at all applicable to it. I suspect he refers to some 
other instrument, of the nature of a weathercock, under that name. ED. 

YEK. 20.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 191 

when they begin to loathe the plain truths of God. But it is an 
argument of a gracious heart when we can receive old truth with new 
affections, and look for the power of God and new quickenings. 

4. This levity and instability of spirit is because they look for all 
the virtue of religion from their notions and their opinions, and not 
from Christ ; then they think this change of opinion shall make them, 
better ; their hearts shall be changed. They try experiments so long, 
till the Lord hath given them up to a spirit of infatuation, and then 
all comes to nothing, but they as a brand are fit for the burning. 

5. By our worldly projects. Men show a loathing of this word by 
their eagerness to the world ; their hearts, with Martha, are cumbered 
with many things, while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus to hear his 
word, Luke x. We are very fervorous in worldly affairs ; there we 
can experiment this kind of affection which David speaks of to the 
word. Beware of this coldness to the word ; it is an ill symptom 
both to nations and persons. 

Use 2. To press us to get this fervent and constant affection to the 
word. To this end consider 

1. Whose word it is. God's word; and your best affections are 
due to him : Isa. xxvi. 8, ' Our desires are to thee, and to the remem 
brance of thy name ; ' there you shall hear of God, there God hath 
displayed his name. Our desires are to thee ; not only so, but to thy 
1 memorial,' to ' the remembrance of thy name ; ' that is, to his word, 
which is as the bellows to blow up the sparks, and to quicken our 
affections to him. 

2. See what benefits we have 'by the word of God ; how beneficial 
it is to enlighten and direct us, quicken and comfort us, supply and 
strengthen us. 

[!'.] To enlighten and direct us. ' Light is pleasant/ saith Solomon ; 
' it is a good thing to behold the sun with our eyes/ Eccles. xi. 7. 
If light natural be pleasant, what is light spiritual ? Therefore the 
Psalmist compares the word to the sun. The visible world can no 
more be without the one than the intellectual world can be without 
the other ; and the one doth as much rejoice the heart as the other : 
Ps. xix. 8, ' The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart ; 
the judgments of the Lord are pure, enlightening the eyes.' Oh ! it 
is a comfort to have light to see our way. When men begin to have 
a conscience about heavenly things, oh ! then they judge so indeed. 
To others we speak in vain when we tell them what light they shall 
have by the word. They say those that live under the arctic pole, at 
the autumnal equinoctial the sun setteth to them, and doth not rise 
again till the vernal, and so are six whole months under a perpetual 
night, as if they were buried in a grave ; but at the time of its re 
turn, with what clapping of hands and expressions of joy do they 
welcome the sun again into their parts ! So when the word of God is 
made known to us, how should we welcome it ! The city of Geneva 
gave this for a motto, Post tenebras lux after darkness, light; 
implying that the return of the gospel was as light after a long dark 
ness ; as the coming of the sun again to those northern people. While 
Paul and his company were in that great storm at sea, when they saw 
neither sun nor stars for many days, and were afraid they should 


fall upon rocks and dangerous shelves, oh ! with what longing did they 
expect to see day again 1 Acts xxvii. So a poor bewildered soul that 
had lost its way, or when a child of God doth see but by half a light, how 
desirable is sure direction ! Now this cannot be had but from the 
word of God, ' To the law and to the testimony/ 

[2.] To comfort us in all straits. In the word of God there is a 
salve for every sore, and a promise for every condition. God hath 
plentifully opened his good- will to sinners. Therefore the children of 
God, when they labour under the guilt of sin, there they can hear of 
God's promises of pardon : Isa. Iv. 7, ' Let the wicked forsake his 
way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts ; and let him return unto 
the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he 
will abundantly pardon.' Against apostasy they have that promise : 
Jer. xxxii. 40, ' I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not 
depart from me.' When they are under weak performances, the word 
will tell them, ' The Lord will spare you, and pity you as a man spares 
his only son/ Mai. iii. 17 ; and when they lie under troubles, incon 
veniences, and deep crosses, there is a promise the Lord will be with 
them in affliction ; the word will show them Christ in the affliction, 
and heaven beyond the affliction ; and then they are comforted, 1 Cor. 
x. 13. When they are troubled about worldly provisions, providing 
for themselves and families, it saith, Be contented, ' I will never leave 
thee nor forsake thee,' Heb. xiii. 5. When their children come to 
their minds and thoughts, what will become of them when we are 
dead and gone, the word will tell you of promises made to you and 
your children, and of God's taking care of them. In short, God is a 
flim and shield, and no good thing will he withhold,' &c. Ps. Ixxxiv. 11. 
There is all manner of blessings adopted and taken into covenant. 
Look round about the covenant, look into the word of God ; there is 
nothing wanting for the comfort of believers ; in every condition there 
is a promise to support and bear them up. Now, because of this 
comfort they have in the word of God, therefore it quickens their 

[3.] To supply and strengthen us. It is our food. Alas ! what a 
poor languishing Christian will a man be that doth not often make 
use of the word ! This strengthens him against corruptions, quickens 
him in duties, and gives success in conflicts. The sword of the Spirit 
is the choicest weapon. It is ' the power of God to salvation,' Bom. i. 
16 ; and 'the word of his grace, which is able to build us up/ Acts 
xx. 32. If our heart be dead in prayer, here is the rod of Moses to 
strike upon the rock to make the waters gush out. Therefore, since 
we have such benefit by the word, we should long and desire to get 
such a strong affection. 

3. Consider what benefit you will have by these desires after the 
word. It will keep up our diligence, and will make us exercise our 
selves therein. Desire doth all that is done in the world ; digging for 
knowledge is tedious, but the end sweetens it. They that have an 
affection to the word shall never be destitute of success therein ; ' God 
will fulfil the desire of the saints/ He that satisfieth the gaping of 
the young raven will these desires A strong affection to the word is 
the argument that moves God : Ps. cxlv. 19, 'He will fulfil the desire 

VER. 21.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 193 

of them that fear him ; he also will hear their cry, and will save them.' 
And if this desire be painful, yet it is salutary and healthful to the soul. 
In this sickness there is health ; in this weakness there is strength ; in 
this thirst, comfort ; and in this hunger, satisfaction. 

For means 

[1.] Get a high esteem of spiritual enjoyments. Valuation and 
esteem precede desire. Wicked men, that value themselves by carnal 
comforts, their souls run out with vehement longing that way. A 
child of God, that values himself by spiritual enjoyments, by know 
ledge, grace, subjection to God, that counts these his greatest benefits, 
his main desire is to be acquainted with the word of God. The word 
hath a subserviency to his end. Poor low-spirited creatures, that 
value themselves by the plenty of external accommodations, they will 
never feel this longing after the word. Prov. viii. 10, ' Receive instruc 
tion rather than silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold.' 

[2.] Let a man live in the awe of God, and make it his business to 
maintain communion with him, and then he will be longing after him. 
This will show the necessity of the word of God for his comfort and 
strength upon all occasions. A lively Christian, that is put to it in 
good earnest, he must have the word by him to direct, comfort, and 
strengthen him ; as he that labours hard must have his meals, or else 
he will faint and be overcome by his labour. We content ourselves 
with a loose profession, and so do not see the need of food, have not 
this hungering longing desire after the bread of life. Painted fire needs 
no fuel ; a dead formal profession is easily kept up ; but a man that 
makes it his business to maintain communion with him, and much 
exercised to godliness, is hungering and thirsting that he might meet 
with God. 


Tliou hast rebuked the proud that are cursed, which do err from thy 
commandments. VER. 21. 

IN the 18th verse, the prophet had begged divine illumination, that 
his eyes might be opened to see more into the nature of the word. 
He backeth that petition with three arguments. The first is taken 
from his condition in the world, ' I am a stranger upon earth.' The 
second argument is taken from the vehemency of his affection to the 
word, ' My soul breaketh,' &c. A man that is regenerate, as David 
was, he hath not only some faint and languid motions towards holy 
things, but a great and strong affection of heart, ' My heart even 
breaketh for the longing,' &c. In this verse here is the third reason, 
' Open mine eyes/ Why ? Because erring from the commandment is 
dangerous, and bringeth us under God's curse, which will be executed 
by the rebukes of his providence. There have been ever some that op 
posed God, but yet they have ever been blasted by God ; he hath always 
vindicated the contempt of his law by the severe executions of his 
justice upon the contemners of it, ' Thou hast rebuked the proud. 7 
We should not let pass God's judgments without profit ; but the more 


the law is owned from heaven, the more entirely should we apply our 
selves to the obedience of it. Therefore this is one reason why David 
begs for light, direction, and strength, for ' thou hast rebuked the 
proud,' &c. ; therefore, Lord, teach me, that I may not come under the 
rebukes of thine anger. 

Some read the words in two distinct sentences, ' Thou hast rebuked 
the proud ;' and then, ' Cursed are they which do err from thy com 
mandments/ But it comes all to one with our reading ; therefore I 
shall not stand to insist upon examining the ground of this difference. 

In the words observe 

1. The term that is given to wicked men, the proud, so commonly 
called in scripture : Mai. iii. 15, c They call the proud happy ; yea, 
they that work wickedness are set up/ 

2. The instance and discovery of their pride, they err from thy 

3. The evil state in which they are, they are cursed. Though the 
wicked are not presently punished, yet they are all cursed, and in time 
they shall be punished. 

4. The begun execution of this curse, tliou hast rebuked them, that 
is, punished or destroyed : Ps. vi. 1, ' Rebuke me not in thine anger, 
neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure/ 

The points are 

1. That the worst sort of proud creatures are those that do err 
from God's commandments ; for so is the description here, ' The proud 
have erred/ &c. 

2. These proud ones, they are cursed. Those that continue in 
obstinacy and impenitency in their sins and errors, they are under a 

3. They are not only cursed, but are also rebuked ; that is, not only 
threatened, but this curse shall be surely executed. In this world it 
is begun many times, and in part executed, but in the next fully and 

Doct. 1. That the worst sort of proud creatures are those that err 
from God's commandments. 

Here we must distinguish of erring, then of pride. 

First, Of erring from God's commandments. There is an erring out 
of frailty, and an erring out of obstinacy. 

1. An erring out of frailty ; and so David saith, Ps. cxix. 176, ' I 
have gone astray like a lost sheep ; ' and again, Ps. xix. 12, ' Who can 
understand his errors ? ' This is not meant here of every failing and 
slip, every sin of ignorance and incogitancy ; no, nor every act of re 
bellion and perverseness of affection which may be found in the chil 
dren of God. Though there be a pride in all sins against knowledge 
and light, that kind of sinning is interpretatively a confronting of God, 
a despising of his commandments ; as David is said to do, 2 Sam. xii. 
9, pro hie et nunc, for the time ; the will of the creature is set up 
against the creator ; yet this is not the erring here spoken of. 

2. There is an erring out of obstinacy, impenitency, and habitual con 
tempt of the lawgiver. This is spoken of, Ps. xcv. 10, ' It is a people 
that do err in their hearts/ To err in mind is bad, to err out of ignor 
ance ; but it is a people that stubbornly refuse to walk in the ways 

VER. 21.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix* 195 

God hath enjoined them. Some err out of simple nescience, ignorance, 
or mistake, or else through the cloud with which some present temp 
tation overcasts the mind. These err in their minds, but others err 
in their hearts, that care not for, or do not desire to hear of, their duty 
to God. A man that erreth out of ignorance can say, ' Lord, I know 
not ; ' but those that err in their heart, they say, ' We desire not the 
knowledge of thy ways,' Job xxi. 14 ; they do not only fall into sin, 
but love to continue in it. The apostle speaks of ' ungodly deeds un 
godly committed/ Jude 15. The matter of sin is not so much to be 
regarded as'the manner, with what heart it is done, ungodly committed, 
with contempt of God. Now, such contemners of God and his law are 
here described, as all obstinate and impenitent sinners are. 

Secondly, We must distinguish of pride, which is either moral or 

1. Moral pride is an over-high conceit of ourselves, or our own ex 
cellencies, discovered by our disdain and contempt of others. S6 it is 
said of Nebuchadnezzar, ' his heart was lifted up.' This is that pride 
that is spoken of 1 Peter v. 5, * God resisteth the proud/ There should 
be a mutual condescension between men ; for God resisteth the proud, 
that is, those that are lifted up above others. 

2. Spiritual pride, that is, disobedience and impenitency, which is 
discovered by a neglect of God and contempt of his law ; and that pride 
is often so taken appearethby these scriptures : Mai. iv. 1, ' The day of 
the Lord shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do 
wickedly, shall be stubble.' Mark, they that do wickedly, and the 
proud, are made synonymous expressions. So Neh. ix. 16, ' But they 
and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened 
not to thy commandments/ Their obstinacy in sin, or unsubjection to 
God, is made to be pride. So Jeremiah, when he gives the people good 
counsel to prevent ensuing judgments, ' Hear ye, give ear, be not 
proud, 7 Jer. xiii. 15 ; that is, do not obstinately refuse to comply with 
God's will. And afterward, ver. 17, ' My soul shall weep sore for 
your pride/ So that unhumbled sinners are guilty of this spiritual 
pride, of contempt of God himself. 

Having opened these things, that by erring is meant not out of 
frailty, but by obstinacy ; that by pride is not meant that moral pride 
by which we contemn others, but that spiritual pride, when our hearts 
are unhumbled and unsubdued to God, my work is now to prove 

1. That obstinacy and impenitency is pride. 

2. That it is the worst sort of pride. 

First, That there is pride in impenitency and obstinacy in a course 
of sin. Why ? 

1. Because -they neglect God. To slight a superior, and not to give 
him due respect, hath ever been accounted pride. Surely then this is 
pride with a witness, to neglect ' God, who is over all, blessed for ever :' 
Ps. x. 4, ' The wicked through the pride of his countenance will not 
seek after God ;' that is, of his heart, bewrayed by his countenance, he 
will not seek after God, and ' God is not in all his thoughts ; ' that is, 
scarce troubled with such a thought of what will please or displease 
God; he doth not think it necessary or worth the time to look after. 

2. They oppose God, and set themselves as parties against him : 


James iv. 6, ' God resisteth the proud ;' God standeth in a posture of 
war against the proud. The word implies that every proud man is in 
battle array or posture of war against God : so every impenitent per 
son sets himself against God. The quarrel between God and him is, 
who shall stoop, whose will shall stand ? whether God shall serve or 
they ? Isa, xliii. 24, * You have made me to serve with your sins, and 
wearied me with your iniquities.' Indeed, they do not only oppose 
him, but they would depose him, or put him out of the throne, while 
they would subject God's will to their own. He that would be at his 
own dispose, and do what pleaseth him, is a god to himself. 

3. In all this opposition they slight God, and despise (1.) His 
authority in making the law; (2.) His power and greatness in making 
good the sanction of the law. 

[1.] They despise the authority of God in the law itself. When 
men will set up their own will in a contradiction to God, it is a 
mighty dishonour to God : 2 Sam. xii. 9, ' Wherefore hast thou de 
spised the commandment of the Lord ?' Every sin that is committed 
slights the law that forbids it, as if it were not to be stood upon ; it is 
no matter what God saith to the contrary. There is fearing the com 
mandment, and despising the commandment. Fearing the command 
ment, that is the effect of a wise heart : Prov. xiii. 13, 'He that fear- 
eth the commandment shall be rewarded.' If God interpose, it is more 
than if there were an angel in the way with a flaming sword. There 
is a commandment in the way ; he fears it, his way is hedged up, he 
dares not go on. But now impenitency, that slights the command 
ment. A sinner dares do that which an angel durst not do. It is 
said of Michael the archangel, Jude 9, that ' he durst not bring a 
railing accusation;' he had not the boldness. Thus they despise the 
authority of God in the law. 

[2.] They despise the power of God in the sanction of the law, 
when they will run the hazard of those sad threatenings, as if they 
were a vain scarecrow, as if they could make good their cause against 
God : 1 Cor. x. 22, * Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy ? are we 
stronger than he ? ' Sinning is an entering the lists with God, as if 
they could carry their cause against him ; and therefore one great cure 
of hardness of heart and impenitency is seriously to meditate upon 
God's power : Deut. x. 16, 17, ' Circumcise therefore the foreskin of 
your heart, and be no more stiff-necked.' Why ? ' For the Lord 
your God is a God of gods and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty 
and terrible.' Do you know what God is ? and will you contend with 
him ? Certainly you will fail in the enterprise and undertaking. 

Secondly, Let me prove there are none so proud as they that can 
brave it thus with God. I will take the rise of my argument thus 

1. Of all pride, that against superiors is most heinous. 

2. Of all superiors, God is the highest, and deserveth our chiefest 

1. Of all pride, that against superiors is most heinous. Pride 
bewrayeth itself either by a disdain of inferiors, neglect of equals, or 
contempt of superiors. Now, of all the others, this is the most offen 
sive, because there is more to check it ; therefore it is threatened as a 
great disorder, Isa. iii. 4, 5, that ' the base should rise against the 

VEB. 21.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 197 

honourable, and the child should behave himself proudly against the 
ancient.' When men carry themselves insolently to those that are far 
their betters, that is counted a great arrogancy in the world : to injure 
equals or contemn inferiors is not so much. There is the ground of 
the argument. 

2. Of all superiors, God is the highest, and deserves our chiefest 
respect ; therefore to deal proudly against him is worst of all. Con 

[1.] That God hath an absolute jurisdiction. 

[2.] His supremacy is not precarious. 

[3.] In the management of his supremacy he useth much conde 
scension. Now, to stand out against him, oh, what egregious pride 
is this ! 

[1.] He hath an absolute jurisdiction over us. Those that are our 
betters, we are to honour and respect them, though they have not 
power over us ; but God is not only honourable, but chief and su 
preme, and hath a full right in us. In the civil law they distinguish 
of a twofold dominion ; there is dominium jurisdictionis and dominium 
proprietatis the dominion of jurisdiction and of propriety. The do 
minion of jurisdiction is proper to reasonable creatures, who only are 
capable of government. Propriety, that respects other things, as 
our goods and lands ; and propriety argues a greater right and a 
greater dominion. A man may have a jurisdiction over others 
when he hath not an absolute dispose over them, as a prince over 
his subjects. Nay, a man that hath a jurisdiction and propriety 
too, his propriety is greater over his lands and estate than over his 
servants, though they be slaves ; yet, because they partake of the same 
nature with himself, he hath not such a power to dispose of them as 
he hath to dispose of his goods and lands. Now God hath not only an. 
absolute jurisdiction over us, which were enough in the case, but he 
hath a propriety, a more absolute power over every man than the 
greatest monarch hath what shall I say over his subjects, over his 
slaves ? nay, a greater propriety than he hath over his goods and 
lands. Why ? For he made us out of nothing ; he is our potter, we his 
clay : he hath such a power over us, to dispose of us according to his 
will, as a potter over his clay to form what vessel he pleaseth. Now 
for a man to strive with his maker, it is as if the clay should lift up 
itself against the potter. So much the prophet saith, Isa. xlv. 9, * Woe 
unto him that striveth with his maker/ What ! shall the pot lift up 
itself against the potter ? That were monstrous, since it is his. Now 
the potter did not make the matter, only bestows form and art upon 
it, but God gives us form, matter, and all, and shall we rise up against 
him, and contemn him ? 

[2.] Consider that his supremacy is not precarious ; it doth not stand 
to the courtesy of man, that is, whether man will yield God to be 
supreme, yea or nay ; but it is backed with a mighty power : 1 Peter 
v. 6, ' Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God/ God's hand 
is a mighty hand, and therefore we should humble ourselves. It is a 
madness to contend with the Lord of hosts. What are we to the 
Lord, who can stop our breath in a moment ? Job iv. 9, ' By the blast 
of God they perish, and by the breath of his nostrils they are consumed/ 


With a breath God can destroy us all, and resolve us into nothing ; 
therefore, to rise up against God, this is the greater pride. Other 
superiors cannot always maintain their right ; they may be foiled in the 
contention ; but surely God will have the best of it ; it is madness to 
contest with him. 

[3.] God hath not only right, and that backed with an almighty 
power, but in the management of his supremacy over men he useth 
much condescension. To instance that in two things. 

(1.) In making motions of peace to such proud and obstinate crea 
tures as we are, that can be of no use or profit to him ; ay ! and 
though he be the wronged party. There is in us that which Austin 
calls infirmitas animositatis the weakness of strength of stomach. We 
are striving who shall yield first. Though it be for our interest and ad 
vantage to be reconciled, yet we are looking who shall submit first; but 
the Lord, though he can back his sovereignty with power, yet he comes 
down from the throne of sovereignty, and makes offers of grace, 
and prays you to be reconciled. When he might destroy, then he be- 
seecheth, and speaketh supplications to the creature ; he comes and 
entreats you with a great deal of affectionate earnestness. Oh ! that 
God should stoop thus to a handful of unprofitable dust creatures 
that can no way be of use and profit to him ! What pride is this, to 
stand it out against such a God ! 

(2.) In seeking to reclaim us, and soften us by many mercies, and 
by his kind dealing with us. God would break the heart rather than 
the back of the sinner, and therefore he seeks to melt us with acts of 
kindness. Now for us to continue our pride and rebellion after all this, 
what a pride is this of how horrible a nature ? Korn. ii. 4, * Despisest 
thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance, not considering that the 
goodness of God should lead us to repentance ?' God withholds his 
hand, and is loath to strike ; nay, not only so, but doth follow us with 
acts of grace and kindness, and maintain us with his own expenses, 
and yet the proud heart of man will not relent. Mark that word, they 
' despise his goodness ; ' they do in effect say, God shall not havS my 
heart for all this. Oh, how great is this pride ! These are considera 
tions that may give us a little light to judge of that pride that is in 
obstinacy and impenitency in sin. If you consider God's absolute right, 
he hath not only a dominion of jurisdiction over us, but a full propriety 
in us, to use us at his pleasure ; and this right of his is backed with 
almighty power, and doth not stand with the creature's courtesy; 
and though it be so, yet it is managed with a great deal of condescen 
sion and love ; he beseecheth poor creatures, and tendereth offers of 
peace, and they are fed and maintained at his charge, and taste of 
his goodness and bounty. 

Use 1. It informs us, how humble soever men appear otherwise, yet 
they are proud if they have never submitted to God with brokenness 
of heart, seeking his pardon and favour. There are many which are 
facile to men, and yet full of contumacy and stoutness of stomach 
against God ; they can stoop to the poorest worm, and court their 
favour, but yet deal insolently with their maker. But if men were 
persuaded of the truth of God's being, they would sooner be convinced 
of the naughtiness of their hearts, by comparing their carriage to God 

VER. 21.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 199 

and men. Many there are that are tender of wounding the reputation of 
men, yet dishonour God and are never troubled. Many that look upon 
it as an uncomely thing to despise their neighbour, to deal hotly with 
an underling, and vaunt it, yet never made conscience of submitting 
themselves to God, who is their undoubted superior. Men count it 
part of humility and good manners to yield to those that are over them, 
and to pay them all kind of respect and subjection ; yet they never 
care to seek the favour of God, and humble themselves seriously for 
their offences against him. You take it ill in the world when the peo 
ple of mean quality insult over you, when such times fall out as the 
base rise up against the honourable. What are you to God ? Poor 
base worms ! will you contend with your maker ? Do you count it to 
be heavy disorder, and a strange inversion of all states and conditions, 
that men of mean and low fortunes should brave it over you, and sway 
things in the world ? and how ill may God take it that you stout it 
out against him ? There is a greater distance between him and you, 
than between you and your fellow-creatures ; therefore, if it be grievous 
to you, what a heinous offence is it to stand out against God ? 

Use 2. It instructs us what is the way to reduce and bring home 
sinners to God, by breaking their pride, or, as the expression is, Job 
xxxiii. 17, by ' hiding pride from man; ' by which is meant taking 
away pride ; for that which is taken away is hidden or cannot be seen. 
As the hiding of sin is the taking away sin, so the hiding of pride is 
the cure of -it. 

1. By humble and broken-hearted addresses to God for his pardon 
and his grace. There is no way to cure the pride of unregeneracy but 
by brokenness of heart. Come and put your mouths in the dust, and 
acknowledge that you have too long stood it out against God. As the 
nobles of the king of Assyria came with ropes about their necks, and 
submitted themselves ; so, Jer. xxxi. 9, ' They shall return with weep 
ing and supplications.' This is the way to come out of your sins, to go 
and bemoan the stubbornness and pride of your hearts ; as Ephraim be 
moaned himself, and smote upon his thigh, and complained of his ob 
stinacy, Jer. xxxi. 18. Christians, first or last God will bring you to 
this ; if you do not stoop voluntarily, you shall by force ; if your hearts 
be not broken by the power of his grace, they shall be broken 
in pieces by the power of his providence : Kom. xiv. 11, 'As I live, 
saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me.' God hath sworn, 'As I 
live ; ' now in every oath there is an implicit imprecation, that is, if 
this be not done, then let this befall me. So there is an implicit im 
precation in that oath, Count me not a living God if I do not make 
the creature stoop. If you stand it out against the power of his word, 
can you stand it out against the power of Christ when he comes in 
.glory ? Ezek. xxii. 14, ' Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands 
be strong in the days that I shall deal with thee ? ' Oh, how will your 
faces gather blackness and darkness in that day ! 

2. Yield up yourselves to be governed by his will and pleasure. It 
is not enough to come weary and heavy laden, not only to be sensible 
of the burden of sin, and beg for pardon, but we must take Christ's 
yoke, Mat. xi. 29. Nature sticks at this : a proud heart is loath to 
come under the yoke. We would taste of the sweetness of mercy, but 


cannot endure the bonds and restraint of duty; as Ephraim would tread 
out the corn, but was loath to break the clods, Hosea x. 11. The 
prophet alludes to the manner among the Jews ; their fashion was to 
tread or thresh out their corn by the feet of beasts, and the ox his 
mouth was not to be muzzled ; it was easy work, and afforded abund 
ance of food, Deut. xxv. 4. We would have comfort, but not duty. 

3. We must constantly cherish a humble frame of spirit, if we 
would maintain communion with God, Micah vi. 8 ; not only walk 
with God, but humble thyself to walk with God. Why ? He is a 
great sovereign, and he will be exactly observed and constantly 
depended upon ; and if you slip, you must bewail your failings, and 
from first to last all must be ascribed to grace. 

Doct. 2. These proud are cursed , or, those that obstinately and 
impenitently continue in their sins, they are under a curse. 

1. I shall open the nature of this curse. 

2. Show how impenitent sinners come under this curse. 

First, The nature and quality of this curse ; or what is that curse 
which lies upon all wicked men ? That will best be understood by 
considering that scripture wherein the tenor of the law is described : 
Deut. xxxvii. 26, ' Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of 
this law to do them ;' and Gal. iii. 10, ' Cursed is every one which 
continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law 
to do them.' Where there is considerable, the duty which the law 
exacteth, and then the penalty which the law inflicteth. 

1. The duty which the law exacteth ; every one must continue in 
the words of this law to do it. An innocent holy nature, that is pre 
supposed, for it is said the person must continne. It doth not consider 
man as lapsed or fallen, or as having already broken with God. And 
then he must continue in all things ; there is a universal, a perfect 
obedience, that is indispensably required, while we are in our natural 
condition. And then the perpetuity ; he must hold out to the last ; 
if he fail in one point he is gone. All this is indispensably exacted of 
all them that live under the tenor of this covenant^: ' He that doth 
them shall live in them ;' and ' the soul that sinneth shall die.' There 
is required perpetual, perfect, personal obedience. What will you do 
if this covenant lie upon you, as it doth upon all men in their natural 
condition? If God call you to a punctual account of the most 
inoffensive day that ever you past over, what will become of you ? 
* If thou, Lord, shalt mark iniquity, Lord, who shall stand ? > 
Ps. cxxx. 3. Better never have been born than be liable to that judg 
ment. Oh ! therefore, when the law shall take a sinner by the throat, 
and say, ' Pay me that which thou owest,' what shall a poor sinner do ? 
This is the duty exacted. 

2. The penalty that shall be inflicted, ' Cursed is everyone that con 
tinueth not in the words of this law to do it.' The law hath a mouth 
that speaketh terrible things. Cursed, it is but one word, but it may 
be spread abroad into very large considerations. In one place it is 
said. ' The Lord will not spare him. All the curses that are written 
in this book of this law shall light upon him,' Deut. xxix. 20. The 
book of the law is full of curses, and all together they show you what 
is the portion of an impenitent sinner. In another place it is said> 

VER. 21.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 201 

' Every curse and every plague which is not written in the book of this 
law will the Lord bring upon thee,' Deut. xxviii. 61. Mark, though it 
be not specified in the law. God hath threatened sundry sorts of 
punishments, yet he hath many plagues in store which are not com 
mitted to record or writing ; therefore, whatever is written or unwritten, 
revealed in the word or dispensed in providence by way of plague and 
misery, it is but the interpretation of this one word, ' Cursed is he 
that continueth not/ &c. However, because particulars are most 
affective, I will name some parts of the curse. 

[1.] This is one part of the cursed condition of a sinner that is under 
the law, that the knowledge of his duty doth but the more irritate cor 
ruption : Kom. vii. 9, ' The commandment came, and sin revived.' 
The more we understand of the necessity of our subjection to God, the 
more is the soul opposite to God. Sin takes occasion by the com 
mandment, as oppositions do more exasperate and enrage a waspish, 

[2.] This exaction of duty doth either terrify or stupify the con 
science ; he that escapeth the one suffereth the other. Either men 
are terrified : indeed all sinners are liable to it ; the conscience of a 
sinner is a sore place, and the apostle saith they are ' liable to bondage 
all their days,' Heb. ii. 14 ; as Belshazzar trembled to see the hand 
writing upon the wall, and Felix trembled to hear of judgment to 
come ; so a carnal man is afraid to think of his condition, and some 
are actually under horror, and wherever they go, as the devils do, 
they carry their own hell about them. Or if conscience be not terrified, 
then it is stupified ; they grow senseless of their misery, and are ' past 
feeling,' Eph. iv. 19 ; and that is a very sad estate, and dangerous 
temper of soul, when men have outgrown all feelings of conscience, and 
worn out the prints of conviction. These are the two extremes that 
all Christless persons are incident unto. 

[3.] There is a curse upon all that a man hath, as long as he con 
tinues in his rebellion and obstinacy against God ; he is ' cursed in his 
basket and store, in his going out, and coming in,' &c., Deut. xxviii. 
15-17. A man is cursed in his table ; that becomes a snare ; his 
afflictions are but beginnings of sorrows. It is a miserable thing to 
lie in such an estate. If the curse do not break out so visibly or 
sensibly, it is because now it is the day of God's patience, and he waits 
for our return. But mark, God's spiritual providence is the more 
dreadful. When God ' rains snares ' upon men, all the seeming com 
forts which they have do but harden them in an evil course, and hold 
them the faster in the bonds of iniquity. 

[4.] There is a curse upon all he doth ; his duties are lost, his 
prayers are ' turned into sin,' his hearing is ' the savour of death unto 
death,' whilst he remaineth in his impenitency. It is said : Prov. xxi. 
27, ' The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination ; how much more 
when he bringeth it with a wicked mind ?' Though he should come 
in the best manner he can with his flocks and herds, yet all will be to 
no purpose, it is an abomination to God. 

[5.] Impenitency binds over a man, body and soul, to everlasting 
torment. In time it will come to that, ' Go ye cursed,' &c., Mat. xxv. 
41. They are only continued until they have filled up their measure,, 


and are ripened for hell, and then they lie eternally under the wrath of 
God. Look, as it is sweet to hear, ' Come ye blessed/ &c., so dreadful in 
that day to hear, ' Go ye cursed/ &c. Thus are the proud cursed, 
that is, obstinate, impenitent sinners, while they stand off from God. 
Secondly, Let me examine upon what score they are cursed. 

1. Every man by nature is under the curse ; for until they are in 
Christ they are under Adam's covenant, and Adam's covenant will 
yield no blessing to the fallen creature : Gal. in. 10, ' As many as are 
under the works of the law are under the curse/ &c. Mark, every man 
that remains under the law, that hath not gotten an interest in Christ, 
the curse of the first covenant remains upon him, and accordingly at 
the last day he shall have judgment without mercy ; he shall be judged 
according to the terms of that covenant : for there are but two states, 
under the law, or under grace ; therefore, while they are in a state of 
nature, they must needs be under wrath. So John iii. 18, 'He that 
belie veth not is condemned already ;' that is, in the sentence of the 
law ; there is a curse gone out against him ; the man is gone, lost, 
condemned already. 

2. This curse abideth upon us until we believe in Christ. The 
sentence of the law is not repealed : John iii. 36, ' He that belie veth 
not, the wrath of God abideth on him;' Gal. iii. 13, 'Christ hath 
redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us/ &c. 

3. When Christ is tendered, and finally refused, then the sentence 
of the law is ratified in the gospel or the court of mercy. A court of 
chancery God hath set up in the gospel for penitent sinners. But then 
it follows, ' This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, 
and men choose darkness/ &c. When God shall tender men better 
conditions by Christ, and they turn their backs upon it, then is this 
curse confirmed. 

Use 1. Consider how matters stand between God and us ; examine 
how it is with you. Here let me lay down these propositions by way 
of trial : 

1. Every man by nature is in a cursed condition, Eph. ii. 3 ; every 
man is liable to Adam's forfeiture and breach ; the elect children of 
God as well as others are liable to the curse. 

2. There is no way to escape this curse but by flying to Christ for 
refuge, Heb. vi. 18. As a man would flee from the avenger of blood, 
eo should we flee from the .curse of the law that is at our heels. Wrath 
is abroad seeking out sinners ; now, saith the apostle, ' Oh, that I might 
be found in him!' 

3. A sense of this benefit we have by Christ will necessarily beget 
an unfeigned love to him ; else we can have no evidence, but the curse 
doth still remain : and therefore it is said, 1 Cor. xvi. 22, ' If any man 
love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema maranatha/ 
accursed till the Lord come, that is, for ever and ever. How can a 
man think he shall be the better for Christ that doth not love Christ, 
nor delight in him, and have no value for him ? And therefore, if you 
have not this love to Christ, it is a sign you have no benefit by him, 
you have not that faith that will give you a title. 

4. This love must be expressed by a sincere obedience ; for ' this is 
love, to keep his commandments/ 1 John v. 3; and Gal. v. 24, ' They 

TER. 21.] SEEMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 203 

that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the lusts thereof.' They 
are not Christ's, are not to be reckoned to him, that merely make a 
profession of his name, and with whom his memory seems to be 
precious ; but they are Christ's that testify love to Christ. Do you 
perform duties for Christ's sake ? 

Use 2. To press you to come out of the curse which cleaves to all 
impenitent sinners. Oh, what a dreadful condition are they in ! And 
how soon God may take advantage of this curse, and cut us off from a 
possibility of grace, we cannot tell ; and at the last day this curse will 
be ratified. Therefore be sensible of the burden ; come out of it. 
This is God's end in shutting up a sinner under such a fatal necessity ; 
either you must perish for ever or run to Christ. This should quicken 
us the more to fly to his mercy. 

Thirdly, They are not only cursed, but rebuked, ' Thou hast rebuked 
the proud,' &c. Observe 

Doct. 3. The rebukes of God's providence upon impenitent sinners 
are of great use to the saints. 

1. They are arguments of his displeasure against the proud and 
against the impenitent. God, that is so merciful to the humble and 
broken-hearted, that looketh to him that is poor and contrite and 
trembles at the word, Isa. Ixvi. 3, he can be severe and just against 
those that deal proudly, that lift up the heel against him, Ps. Ixviii. 
21 : it is twice repeated, ' Our God is a God of salvation, but he will 
wound the head of his enemies,' &c. Mark, though mercy be God's 
delight verily he is a God of salvation yet we must not imagine 
a God all honey and all sweetness. If men be proud, obstinate, and 
impenitent, they shall be cursed ; and not only cursed, but they shall 
be rebuked. 

2. It is a proof and document given to the world how tender God is 
of his word, how willing to satisfy the world. This is the rule we must 
stand by, ' Thou hast rebuked them/ Why ? ' Because they erred 
from thy commandment.' God hath authorised and ratified the law 
by the rebukes of his providence, and made it authentic and valid in 
the hearts and consciences of men : Kom. i. 18, ' The wrath of God 
is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of 
men/ &c. Mark, it is revealed from heaven. The events which fall 
out in the world we should not look upon as casual strokes, or a 
chance that happened to us in the way, but as discoveries from heaven. 
The word is the rule of life. Mark, against all ungodliness; this is the 
breach of the first table; and against all unrighteousness, which is 
the breach of the second table. God hath owned both tables : Heb. ii. 
2, ' The word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression 
and disobedience received a just recompense of reward.' He means 
the law, which was delivered by the ministry of angels. Now, every 
transgression, by that he means sins of commission ; and every dis 
obedience, by that he means sins of omission ; and God hath met 
with every breach and every violation of the law. How punctually 
God hath exemplified every commandment in his judgment ! And if 
we would make collections of providence, we might easily find this, 
how God hath rebuked pride, and that because they err from his 


Again, it may be improved as a check against envy at the prospe 
rity of the wicked. Do not call the proud happy ; they are cursed 
already, and in time shall be punished : * Mark the end of the wicked/ 
Ps. xxxvi. 17. First or last, God will manifest from heaven his dis 
pleasure against their impenitency. By daily experience we may see 
that they thrive ill that set themselves against God. 

And then it serves to confirm the truth of the threatening. Oh ! 
when God inflicteth judgments, remember the curse of the law is not 
in vain. After the thundering of the threatening, there will break out 
the bolt of confusion and destruction upon the wicked, so that you 
must either do or die for it. 

Use. Let this persuade men to break off their sins by repentance, 
that you may be sensible of the wretchedness of your condition. 
God's words are deeds. Men may curse, and yet God may bless for 
all that ; but God's curse is sure to take place. Let us make that 
use which David doth of it, to excite our affections to the word of God 
by the vengeance which God taketh of the pride and scorn of others. 
The examples of others shipwrecking themselves by their rebellion 
against God are sanctified when they make us more careful and watch 
ful ' that we err not from God's commandments.' 


Remove from me reproach and contempt ; for I have kept thy 
testimonies. VER. 22. 

DAVID was derided for keeping close to God's word, possibly by those 
proud ones mentioned in the former verse. They contemned the 
word themselves, and would not suffer others to keep it ; as the 
Pharisees would neither enter into the kingdom of God themselves, 
nor suffer others to enter. But David makes this an argument to 
beg the Lord's grace, to wit, light and strength, that he might give 
no occasion to their reproach; and if it lighted upon him, that it 
might not rest upon him. Or by the proud men may be meant Saul's 
courtiers, who traduced his innocency, and sought to overwhelm him 
with slander. Now, God knew his conscience and integrity, and 
therefore could best clear him. 

In the words, as in most of the other verses, you have 

1. A request, remove from me reproach and contempt. 

2. A reason and argument to enforce the request, for I have kept thy 

First, for the request, c Eemove from me reproach and contempt/ 
The word signifies, Roll from upon me, let it not come at me, or let it 
not stay with me. 

And then the argument, ' for I have kept thy testimonies.' The 
reason may be either thus : (1.) He pleads that he was innocent of 
what was charged upon him, and had not deserved those aspersions. 
(2.) He intimates that it was for his obedience, for this very cause 
that he had kept the word, therefore was reproach rolled upon him. 

VER. 22.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 205 

(3.) It may be conceived thus, that his respect to God's word was not 
abated for this reproach. He still kept God's testimonies, how wicked 
soever he did appear in the eyes of the world. It is either an asser 
tion of his innocency, or he shows the ground why this reproach came 
upon him ; or he pleads his respect to God, and his service was not 
lessened, whatever reproach he met with in the performance of it. 
The points from hence are many. 

1. It is no strange thing that they which keep God's testimonies 
should be slandered and reproached. 

2. As it is the usual lot of God's people to be reproached, so it is 
very grievous to them, and heavy to bear. 

3. It being grievous, we may lawfully seek the removal of it. So 
doth David, and so may we, with submission to God's will. 

4. In removal of it, it is best to deal with God about it ; for God is 
the great witness of our sincerity, as knowing all things, and so to be 
appealed to in the case. Again, God is the most powerful assertor 
of our innocency ; he hath the hearts and tongues of men in his own 
hands, and can either prevent the slanderer from uttering reproach, or 
the hearer from entertainment of the reproach. He that hath such 
power over the consciences of men can clear up our innocency ; there 
fore it is best to deal with God about it; and prayer many times 
proves a better vindication than an apology. 

5. In seeking relief with God from this evil, it is a great comfort 
and ground of confidence when we are innocent of what is 
charged. In some cases we must humble ourselves, and then God 
will take care for our credit. We must plead guilty when by our 
own fault we have given too much occasion to the slanders of the 
wicked : so Ps. cxix. 39, ' Turn away my reproach which I fear, for 
thy judgments are good/ My reproach, for it was in part deserved 
by himself, and therefore he feared the sad consequences of it, and 
humbles himself before God. But at other times we may stand upon 
our integrity, as David saith here, ' Turn away my reproach and con 
tempt, for I have kept thy testimonies.' 

These are the points which may be drawn from this verse ; but I 
shall insist but upon one of them, which, in the prosecution of it, will 
comprise all the rest ; and that is this 

Dock That reproaches are a usual, but yet a great and grievous, 
affliction to the children of God. I will show 

1. They are a usual affliction. 

2. They are a grievous affliction. 

First, They are a usual affliction. Keproaches are either such as 
light upon religion itself, or upon our own persons. 

1. Upon religion itself. Sometimes the truth is traduced, and the 
way of God is evil spoken of, disguised with the nicknames of sedi 
tion, heresy, schism, faction. Look, as astronomers miscall the glori 
ous stars by the name of the dog-star, the bear, the dragon's tail, and 
the like they put upon them names of a horrid sound so do car 
nal men miscall the glorious things of God, his holy ways ; they put 
an ill name upon them : Acts xxiv. 14, ' After the way which they 
call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers/ The Jews called 
Christianity a heresy, or an apostasy from the old religion ; and so 


do Papists call the Keformation. Luther, when he was charged with 
apostasy from the faith, answered thus : I confess I am an apostate,, 
but from the devil's cause ; I have not kept touch with the devil. 
Cant. v. 7, we read that the spouse's veil was taken from her by the 
watchmen ; so the comeliness of the church is taken away by the im 
putations of evil men. Thus there may reproaches light upon religion 

2. On our persons ; and so either for religion's sake, or upon a pri 
vate and personal respect. 

[1.] For religion's sake ; and thus God's children have been often 
calumniated. It is foretold by Christ as the lot of his people ; and 
therefore he provides against it: Mat. v. 11, 'Blessed are ye when 
men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil 
against you falsely for my sake.' Those who have no strength and 
power to inflict other injuries have these weapons of malice always in 
readiness. When other kinds of persecutions and violences are re 
strained, yet men take a liberty of censuring and speaking all man 
ner of evil falsely of the children of God ; and ever this hath been 
verified in the experience of the saints. Their lives are a real reproach 
to the wicked, they do upbraid them ; and therefore, to be quits with 
them, the wicked reproach them by censures and calumniations. I shall 
give some instances. Moses had his portion of reproaches : Heb xi. 26, 
' Esteeming the reproaches of Christ better riches than the treasures 
of Egypt.' Possibly the Holy Ghost means there when he was scoffed 
at for joining himself with so mean and afflicted a people ; they 
thought Moses was mad to quit all his honours. Christ himself was 
accused of the two highest crimes of either table blasphemy and 
sedition : of blasphemy, which is the highest crime against the first 
table ; and of sedition, which is the highest crime against the second. 
And all that will be Christ's they must expect to bear his reproach : 
Heb. xiii. 13, * Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, 
bearing his reproach/ The apostle alludes to the sacrifice of atone 
ment, which was to be slain without the camp. So Jesus Christ was 
cast out of the city ; and we must be contented thus to be cast off by 
the world, to be cast forth from among men as vile and accursed, 
bearing Christ's reproach. 

[2.] For personal reproaches ; this is very usual with God's children 
also, reproaches upon private and personal occasions. God may let loose 
a railing Shimei against David. Many times he complains of his re 
proaches, often in this psalm, more in other psalms : Ps. xxxi. 13, * For I 
have heard the slander of many ; they took counsel together against me, 
they devised to take away my life/ Sundry sorts of persons made him 
the butt upon which they let fly the arrows of censure and reproach : 
Ps. xxxv. 15, ' The abjects gathered themselves together against me ; 
they did tear me, and ceased not ; ' meaning his name was torn and 
rent in pieces, and that by the abjects : such bold and saucy dust will 
be flying in the faces of God's people. So I may speak of Jeremiah, 
and Joseph, and other servants of God ; yea, our Lord himself 
endured the contradiction of sinners. Jesus Christ, that was so just 
and innocent, which did so much good in every place, yet meets with 
odious aspersions. So Ps. Ixiv. 3, 4, ' They bend their bows to shoot 

VER. 22.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 207 

their arrows, even bitter words ; that they may shoot in secret at the 
perfect : suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not.' Perfection 
meets with envy, and envy will vent itself by detraction a usual 
affliction for the people of God, and therefore we cannot say they are 
wicked because they are traduced, and we should not presently con 
demn all those of whom we hear evil. It was the fashion of the primi 
tive times to clothe Christians with bear-skins, and bait them with 
the dogs. God's best children may be clad in an ill livery ; and there 
fore we should not easily take up these slanders. Thus it is a usual 

Secondly, It is a grievous affliction. Ver. 39, David saith he looked 
upon it as a great evil. In the account of scripture it is persecution. 
Ishmael is said to persecute Isaac : Gal. iv. 29. How ? Because he 
mocked him. Compare it with Gen. xxi. 9 : ' Sarah saw the son of 
the bondwoman mocking Isaac ; ' and in the reddition and interpre 
tation, the Holy Ghost calls it a persecution. So they are called 
' cruel mockings/ Heb. xi. 36. There is as much cruelty, and as deep 
a wound made by the tongue of reproach many times as by the fist of 
wickedness. Eeproach must needs be grievous to God's children, upon 
a natural and upon a spiritual account. 

1. Upon a natural account, because a good name is a great blessing. 
See how it is against nature. It is more grievous than ordinary 
crosses. Many would lose their goods cheerfully, yet they grieve more 
for the loss of their name. Some constitutions are affected more with 
shame than with fear, and above all their possessions they prize their 
name and credit. To most proud spirits, disgraceful punishment is 
much more dreadful than painful : Ps. xxii. 7, * All they that see me 
laugh me to scorn ; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head/ A 
good name is more precious than life to some: Eccles. vii. 1, * A good 
name is better than precious ointment ; and the day of death than 
the day of one's birth/ The coupling of these two sentences shows 
men had rather die than lose their name. If a man die, he may leave 
his name and memory behind him that may live still ; therefore it is 
more hateful to have our names and credit mangled than be pierced 
with a sharp sword. 

2. Upon a spiritual account it is a grievous affliction. It is not 
barely for their own sake, because their innocency is taxed ; but for 
God's sake, whose glory is concerned in the honour of his servants, 
and whose truth is struck at through their sides. This is grievous to 
grace. Why ? Next to a good conscience there is no greater bless 
ing than a good name ; and certainly he that is prodigal of his credit 
will not be very tender of his conscience ; and therefore the children 
of God, upon gracious reasons, stand upon their name, it is the next 
thing to conscience they have to keep. Grace values a good name, 
partly because it is God's gift ; it is a blessing adopted and taken into 
the covenant, as well as other blessings. It is one of the promises of 
God : ' He will hide us as in a pavilion from the strife of tongues/ 
Ps. xxxi. 20. This is frequent in the Old Testament, where heaven 
is but sparingly mentioned ; a good name is often mentioned. Partly 
because it is a shadow of eternity. When a man dies, his name lives, 
which is a pledge of our living with God after death ; as spices, when 


broken and dissolved, leave an excellent scent, so he leaves his name 
behind him. And partly because it is put above riches : Prov. xxii. 
1, * A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.' It is 
better, more pure and sublime than wealth, and more worthy our 
esteem. They are low and dreggy spirits whose hearts run after 
wealth ; the greatest spirits run out upon fame and honour : so Eccles. 
vii. 1, ' A good name is better than precious ointment/ Aromatical 
ointments were things of great use and esteem among the Jews, and 
counted the chief part of their treasures ; now a good name is better 
than precious ointment. And partly because of the great inconveni 
ences which follow the loss of name. The glory of God is much inter 
ested in the credit of his servants. The credit of religion depends 
much upon the credit of the persons that profess it. When godly 
men are evil spoken of, the way of truth suffers ; and when we are 
polluted, God is polluted : Ezek. xxxvi. 20, ' They profaned my holy 
name when they said to them, These are the people of the Lord, and 
are gone forth out of his land ; ' that is, by their scandals. The 
offences are charged upon us, but in effect they prove the disgrace of 
Christ. Christ, that will hereafter be admired of his saints, will now 
be glorified and honoured in them. The shame of those things 
charged upon us redounds to God and religion till we be clear. And 
as the honour of God is concerned in it, so again their safety lies in it. 
Observe it, Satan is first a liar, then a murderer. First, men are 
smitten with the tongue of slander, and afterwards with the fist of 
wickedness : the showers of slander are but presages and beginnings 
of grievous storms of persecution ; wicked men take more liberty when 
the children of God are imprisoned as criminals ; therefore it is the 
usual practice of Satan first to blast the repute of religious persons, 
then to prosecute them as offenders. Possibly this may be the mean 
ing of that, Ps. v. 9, * Their throat is an open sepulchre ; they flatter 
with their tongue ; ' that is, the slanders of the wicked are a prepara 
tion to death, as an open sepulchre is prepared to swallow and take in 
the dead carcase. I expound it thus, because we find the phrase used 
in this sense. The force and power of the Babylonian, Jer. v. 16, is 
called an ' open sepulchre ; ' they are all mighty men ; that is, you can 
expect nothing but death from the force and puissance of their as 
saults. So here their reproach is not only a burying-place for our 
names, but our persons ; for first men slander, then molest the chil 
dren of God. When the Arian emperor raged against the orthodox 
Christians, and the bishops and pastors of the churches were suppressed 
everywhere, they durst not meddle with Polonus, out of a reverence of 
the unspottedness of his fame ; and therefore a good report is a great 
security and protection against violence. And then they desire a good 
name to honour God with it. A blemished instrument is little worth. 
Who would take meat from a leprous hand ? It is Satan's policy, 
when he cannot discourage instruments from the work of God, then 
to blemish and blast them. Therefore, those that have anything to 
do for God in the world should be tender of their credit, especially 
those that are called to public office, that they may carry on their 
work with more success. Therefore one of the qualifications of a 
minister is, ' He must have a good report of them that are without, 

VER. 22.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 209 

lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil/ 1 Tim. iii. 7. I 
suppose it is taken there appellatively, lest he fall into the snare of the 
slanderer ; I will not absolutely determine. Men set snares for you, 
and they watch for your halting. Thus grace presseth a good name, 
because of the consequences of it. 

Use 1. Here is advice to persons reproached. Acknowledge God in 
the affliction, though it be great and grievous. God hath an aim in 
all things that befall you. The general aim of all afflictions is to 
try, purge, and make white : Dan. xi. 35 ; or as it is in Deut. viii. 13, 
' To humble thee, prove thee, and do thee good at the latter end.' 
Your enemies may intend harm, but God means good ; you should 
receive good by this, as by every affliction. Plutarch, in his excellent 
discourse, How a man should profit by his enemies, brings in a com 
parison of one Jason, that had an impostume, which was let out by 
the wounds an enemy gave him ; so many times our impostumes, and 
the corrupt matter that is within us, is let out by the gashes and 
wounds which those that meant harm to us give to our name and 

First, God doth it to humble thee. Carnal men shoot at rovers, 
but many times we find the soul is pricked in the quick ; when they 
shoot their arrows of detraction and slanders, it may revive guilt, and 
put us upon serious humiliation before God. There are many sins to 
which this affliction is very proper. 

1. It seems to be a proper cure for the sin of pride ; be it pride in 
the mind, which is self-conceit ; or pride in the affections, which is 
called vainglory ; all sorts of pride ; there is no such effectual remedy 
as this. Possibly we have been too self-conceited, then God giveth 
us to such scandals that may show us what we are. Many times 
our very graces do us hurt, as well as our sins; and we may be 
puffed up with what we have received. So for vainglory, when we 
are apt too much to please ourselves in the opinions others have of us, 
which is an evil the people of God are liable to, this pride God will 
cure by reproach. Pride is one of the oldest enemies ever God had ; 
it was born in heaven in the breast of the fallen angels, for which they 
.are laid low ; and when his children harbour it, God hath a quarrel 
against it. When Paul was puffed up, when the bladder was swollen, 
God sent him a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet 
him, lest he should be exalted above measure, 2 Cor. xii. 7. Possibly 
it was some eminent affliction ; but when he expresseth it afterwards, 
he mentioneth reproaches, ver. 10, ' Therefore I will rejoice in infir 
mities,' that is, sickness ; nay, ' I will rejoice in reproaches/ 

2. For carnal walking. When we are negligent, and do not take 
notice of the fleshliness and folly we are guilty of and allow in our 
hearts, that breaks out into our actions. God suffers others to re 
proach us and gather up our failings, that we may see what cause we 
have to take our ways to heart. Every man that would live strictly 
had need of faithful friends or watchful enemies ; of faithful friends 
to admonish him, or watchful enemies to censure him. God makes 
use of watchful enemies to show us the spots in our garments that are 
to be washed off. Many times a friend is blinded with love, and grows 
as partial to us as ourselves ; therefore God sets spies for us to watch 

VOL. vi. o 


for onr halting : Jer. xx. 10, ' I heard the defaming of many : report, 
say they, and we will report it : all my familiars watched for my halt 
ing/ They lie in wait to take us tripping ; and God sees it needful 
that we should have enemies as well as friends ; how ignorant else 
should a man be of himself ! Therefore God useth them as a rod to 
brush the dust from our clothes. 

3. The sin God would humble us for is censuring. If we have not 
been so tender of the credit of others, God will make us taste the 
bitterness of affliction ourselves, and recompense the like measure into 
our bosoms : Mat. vii. 1, 2, ' Judge not, that ye be not judged; for 
with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged ; and with what 
measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again/ We shall find 
others to judge as hardly of us as we do of them. Good thoughts and 
speeches of others are the best preservative of our own name ; and 
therefore, when reproach falls upon you, it is not enough you should not 
slight it, though you know the report to be false ; but a Christian is 
to examine himself : have we not drawn it upon ourselves by slander 
ing others, or talking intemperately of others ? and doth not God 
pay us home in our own coin ? He that is much given to censuring 
seldom or never escapes severe censuring from others. It is said, ' Let 
his own words grieve him/ Your own words will fall upon you ; 
therefore humble thyself before God for the reproaches thou hast cast 
upon others. Thus the Lord ordereth it with good advice to humble 
us, and that for pride, careless walking, and for censuring others. 

Secondly, It is to try thee. 

1. To try your faith in the great day of accounts. Can you com 
fort yourselves in the solemn vindication of the day of judgment, and 
in God's approbation then ? 2 Cor. x. 18, ' He is approved whom the 
Lord commendeth/ Men cannot defend thee if God condemn thee, 
they cannot condemn thee if God acquit thee ; and therefore canst 
thou stand to God's judgment ? In a race it is not what the standers- 
by say, but what he that is the judge of the games will determine. 
We are all in a race, and it is not what men say of us, but what God 
saith, who is judge of all : 1 Cor. iv. 3, 4, 'It is a small thing 
that I should be judged of man's judgment; but he that judgeth me 
is the Lord/ In the original it is ' man's day,' and so in the margin. 
We shall never be resolute for God, until we come to this, to count it 
a very small thing to be judged of man's judgment. Now is man's 
day, but God hath his day hereafter. So to try our faith in particu 
lar promises : Ps. cxix. 42, ' So shall I have wherewith to answer him 
that reproacheth me ; for I trust in thy word/ A Christian, when he 
gives up himself to God, he gives up everything he hath to God ; not 
only gives his soul to God to keep, but that God may take charge 
of his person, estate, and good name. Now God requires a trust ac 
cording to the extent of the covenant, a waiting and confidence in his 
power. He can turn the hearts of men, and give them favour in their 
eyes: Ps. xxxvii. 6, * He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the 
light, and thy judgment as the noon-day/ 

2. As to try our faith, so our patience. We should prevent reproach 
as much as we can ; but then we must bear it when we cannot avoid 
it. They reproach, but I pray, Ps. cix. 4 ; that was David's exercise 

VEK. 22.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 211 

and revenge ; he took that advantage, to pray for them. God will try 
how we can bear the injuries of men. The grace of patience must 
be tried as well as other graces. We read that Shimei went railing 
upon David to the peril of his life ; saith David, ' It may be God hath 
bid him curse.' A mad dog that bites another makes him as mad as 
himself ; so usually the injuries and reproaches of others foster up our 
revenge, and then there is no difference between us and them : they sin, 
and we sin. Kevenge and injury differ only in order ; injury is first, 
and revenge is next. Saith Lactantius, If it be evil in another, for 
thee to imitate him, to be as mad as they, break out in passion and 
virulency, it is more evil in thyself, because thou sinnest twice, against 
a rule and against an example ; therefore God tries whether we will 
be passionate or patient. The patience of his servants is mightily dis 
covered by reproaches : 1 Cor. iv. 12, ' Being reviled, we bless ; being 
persecuted, we suffer it ; being defamed, we entreat.' There must be 
a season to try every grace ; and therefore now God trieth us, whether 
we can with a meek humble submission yield up ourselves ; or whether 
we are exasperated and drawn into bitterness of passion, yea or nay. 

3. God tries our uprightness. Many are turned out of the way by 
reproaches ; the devil works much upon stomach and spleen. Ter- 
tullian being reproached by the priests of Eome, in revenge turns 
Montanist. Now God tries us to see whether we will hold on our 
course. The moon shines and holds on its course though the dogs 
bark ; so a child of God should hold on his way though men talk their 
fill. In the text, though proud men reproached and contemned David, 
yet all this did not unsettle him. Some men can be religious no longer 
than when they are counted to be religious ; but when their secular 
interest is in danger, they fall off. Thus when men injure them, they 
do as it were take a revenge upon God himself. Those carnal men 
that fall off from God are like pettish servants that run away from 
their master when he strikes them ; a good servant will take a buffet 
patiently, and go about his master's work ; and if we were seasoned as 
we should be for God, we would pass * through evil report and good 
report,' 2 Cor. vi. 8, and still keep our integrity. 

Thirdly, God ordereth this grievous and sharp affliction to do you 
good or to better you. Keproach is like soap, which seems to defile 
clothes, but it cleanseth them. There is nothing so bad but we 
may make some good use of it, a Christian may gain some advantage 
by it. Dung seems to stain the grass, but it makes the ground fruit 
ful, and to rise up at spring with a fresh verdure. Reproaches are a 
necessary help to a godly conversation, to make us walk with more care ; 
and therefore there is another piece of holy revenge we should take 
upon them, to make us walk more strictly and more watchfully, the 
more they slander us and speak of us as evil-doers ; the way is not to 
contend for esteem, so much as to stop their mouths by a good apology. 
Passionate returns will but increase sin, but a holy conversation will 
silence them. 

Use 2. To them that either devise or receive reproaches ; both are 
very sinful. 

First, To you that devise them, that speak reproachfully of others. 


1. You hazard the repute of your own sincerity : James i. 26, 
' Whosoever seemeth religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but de- 
ceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.' Hypocrites, and 
men that put themselves into a garb of religion, and are all for cen 
suring, take a mighty freedom this way ; these men bewray the rot 
tenness of their hearts. Those that are so much abroad are seldom 
at home ; they do not inquire and look into their own hearts. Alas ! 
in our own sight we should be the worst of men. The children of God 
do ever thus speak of themselves as * the least of saints/ the ' greatest 
of sinners,' ' more brutish than any men/ of ' sinners whereof I am 
chief.' Why ? Because we can know others only by guess and imagi 
nation, but they can speak of themselves out of inward feeling ; there 
fore we should have a deeper sense of our own condition. But now a 
man that is much in judging and reproving others is seldom within ; 
for if he did but consider himself, if he had but an account of his own 
failings, he would not be so apt to blemish others. It is a cheap zeal 
to let fly at the miscarriages and sins of others, and to allow our own. 
Consider, thou hast enough to observe already in thyself. 

2. You rob them of the most precious treasure. He that robs thee 
of thy name is the worst kind of thief : Prov. xxii. 1, * A good name 
is rather to be chosen than great riches/ A man that is taken pilfer 
ing another man's goods, he is ashamed when he is found ; so should 
a censurer : you rob him of a more excellent treasure. 

3. You offend God, and draw public hatred. It is the devil's work 
to be ' the accuser of the brethren/ Eev. xii. 10. The devil doth not 
commit adultery, doth not break the Sabbath, nor dishonour parents ; 
these are not laws given to him. If the devil will bear false witness, 
he is an accuser of the brethren ; it is the devil's proper sin, and there 
fore slanderer and devil have one name, Diabolus. 

Object. But must we in no case speak evil of another ? or may we 
not speak of another's sin in no case ? 

Sol. 1. It is a very hard matter to speak any evil of another 
without sin ; for if it be without cause, then it is downright slander, 
and is against truth ; if it be for a light and small cause, then it is 
against charity ; if it be for things indifferent, or for lesser failings, 
indiscretions, or weaknesses, still it is against charity : James iv. 11, 
' Speak not evil one of another, brethren/ It is worse in brethren. 
Many take liberty to traduce God's choice servants that are in difference. 
For a soldier to speak evil of soldiers, or a scholar of scholars, is worse 
than for. those that hate these functions. So for you, Christians, to 
speak evil one of another, you gratify the triumphs of hell, and bring 
a reproach upon the ways of Christ. In things doubtful, judge the 
best ; in things hidden and secret we can take no cognisance : when 
the fact is open, we do not know the aim nor the intent of the heart. 
It is the devil's work to judge thus : ' Doth Job serve God for nought ?' 
when he could not traduce his action. If the practice be open and 
public, we do not know what alleviating circumstances it may bear, 
what grievous temptations they had, or whether they have repented, 
yea or nay. The devil is called a slanderer, because he doth accuse 
the saints. It is too true many times what he accuseth them of. 
Ay ! but he accuseth them when they are pardoned ; he rakes up the 

VER. 22.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 213 

filth. God hath covered ; he accuseth the brethren after repentance, 
after they are acquitted by the Lord's grace ; and so you may incur the 
like : and therefore it is a very hard matter to avoid sin ; in one way 
or other we shall dash upon the command ; better let it alone. 

2. Speak not of him, but to him ; and so change a sin into a duty. 
I say, when you turn admonition into censure, you exchange a duty for 
a sin. ' Admonish one another/ is a thing spoken of in scripture; but 
1 speak not evil one of another.' 

3. If you speak of the failings of others, it should be with tenderness 
and grief ; as when they are incorrigible and likely to infect others, or 
when it is for the manifest glory of God : Phil. iii. 19, * There are some 
of whom I have told you often, and now tell you weeping/ &c. He 
speaks of some seducers that, under the form of godliness, did under 
mine the purport of the Christian religion, merely took up the profes 
sion of it for their own ends. It should be done with a mighty deal 
of caution ; not out of idleness for want of talk that is babble ; not 
out of hatred and revenge that is malice : though the matter is true, 
yet we must not speak of men's faults to please others that is 

Secondly, To them that receive the slander. He is a slanderer that 
wrongs his neighbours' credit by upholding an ill report against them. 
It is hard to say which is worse, railing or receiving. Ps. xv. 3, when 
an inhabitant of Sion is described, it is said, ' He that receiveth not a 
report, and takes it not up against his neighbour;' so Prov. xvii. 4, 
* A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips, and a liar giveth ear to a 
naughty tongue.' It is not only a point of wickedness to have a naughty 
tongue or false lips, but to give heed. He is a liar that receiveth a lie, 
and loves it when brought to him. God will plague all those that love 
lies. As in treason, all that are acquainted with the plot are responsi 
ble ; so you are responsible for your ears, as they for their tongue. It 
is good to have a spiritual tongue, that will heal the wounds that 
others make in men's reputation : Prov. xii. 18, ' There is that speak- 
eth like the piercings of a sword ; but the tongue of the wise is health/ 
Some carry a sword in their mouths, others balsam to heal the wounds 
that are made. 

Use 3. If this be so usual and grievous an affliction, and that even 
to the children of God, and that not only upon the account of nature, 
but of grace, then it puts us upon seeking comfort against reproaches. 

1. The witness of a good conscience within. If you be innocent, it 
is not against thee they speak, but against another, whom the slanderer 
takes thee to be. The hair will grow again though it be shaven, as 
long as the roots remain. A good conscience is the root of a good 
credit; and though the razor of censure hath brought on baldness, yet 
it will grow again. God will either turn their hearts or support thee 
under it. 

2. Reproaches cannot make thee vile in God's sight. The world's 
filth many times are God's jewels. Many that were praised in the world 
are now in hell, and many that were disgraced in the world are in 
great favour and esteem with God ; many times their contempt doth 
increase their esteem with God, and therefore they cannot hurt thee. 
They may persecute thee ; but if thou bo patient, they cannot impose 


upon thee, and burden thy cause in his eyes/ God doth not ask the 
world's vote and suffrage whether such and such shall be justified 
or received into glory, yea or nay. If they be infirmities and defects, 
humble thyself, and God will cover them, Ps. xxxii. 1. God is wont 
to scatter reproaches cast upon his children, as the sun scatters the 
clouds, Ps. xxxvii., and heaven will make amends for all. 

3. The profit thou gainest by them, the watchfulness, the diligence, 
all this will be sweet. I might have given comfort against reproaches 
for religion. These are honourable, they are the reproaches of Christ, 
Heb. xi. 26 ; Heb. xiii. 13. It is as honourable before God as igno 
minious before men. And we cannot expect better fare than our 
master : * The disciple is not above his lord, nor the servant above 
his master : it is enough for the disciple to be as his lord, and the 
servant as his master,' Mat. x. 24, 25. We cannot expect to fare bet 
ter than Christ did, and it is an honour to suffer as he did. 

Again, if cripples mock us for going upright, let us pity them. The 
judgment of wicked men is depraved, not to be stood upon ; and this 
contempt one day will be cast upon themselves : Ps. xlix. 14, * The 
upright shall have dominion over them in the morning/ 


Princes also did sit and speak against me : but thy servant did 
meditate in thy statutes. VER. 23. 

THIS psalm expresseth David's affection to the word, as the result of 
all that experience which he had of the comfort and use of it. In the 
present verse two things : 

1. David's trouble. 

2. His remedy. 

1. His trouble, princes did sit and speak against me. 

2. The remedy that he used, but thy servant did meditate in thy 

First, The evil wherewith he was exercised. There are several cir 
cumstances produced by way of aggravation of his trouble : 

1. Who ? ' Princes also ; ' his trial came not only from the contempt 
and reproach of base people, spoken of in the former verse, but from 
princes also, by whom are meant Saul's courtiers and counsellors. 

2. How? ' Did sit;' not only when occasionally met together in 
private in their chambers or at their tables, but when they sat in 
council, or when they sat together on the seat of judgment, they con 
sulted to ruin him ; or upon the throne (where nothing but just and 
holy should be expected) passed a judicial sentence against him. 

3. What ? * Did speak against me ;' it was not reproach only that 
troubled him, but the powers of the world gave false sentence against 
him. To be spoken of as an evil-doer is a less temptation than to be 
condemned as a malefactor. 

Secondly, His remedy ; where observe 

1. The title he gives himself, but 'thy servant/ He speaketh 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 215 

modestly of himself, in the third person ; and fitly doth he say, ' thy 
servant.' We owe duty to a higher master, when they decree anything 
contrary to God's word. 

2. His practice and exercise, ' Did meditate on thy statutes.' This 
is spoken for two reasons : 

[1.] That he was not discouraged by their opposition, but held 
to his duty; he was maligned for God's word's sake, and yet 
kept up his respect to the word of God, and never left meditating 

[2J To show the way of his relief and cure under this trouble, by 
exercising himself in the word, which in the next verse he showeth. 
yielded him a double benefit comfort and counsel. 

(1.) It was of use to comfort him and strengthen faith. 

(2.) To direct him that he might keep within the bounds of true 
obedience ; there being in the word of God both sweet promises and 
a sure rule. 

Observe from the evil wherewith he was exercised : 

Doct. It is many times the lot of God's people that princes do sit 
and speak against them in councils and upon the throne of judgment. 

1. For consulting against them to their ruin. We have instances of 
a council gathered against Christ : John xi. 47, c Then gathered the 
chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we ? for 
this man doth many miracles.' They meet together, and plot the ruin 
of Christ and his kingdom ; and they were those that were of chief 
authority in the place. Another instance : Acts iv. 27, 28, ' For of a 
truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both 
Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, 
were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel 
determined before to be done.' There is their agreement to put 
Christ to death. In the Old Testament, Pharaoh and his nobles : 
Exod. i. 10, ' Come on, /caraa-o^co^eOa, let us deal wisely with them, 
lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that when there falleth out 
any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so 
get them up out of the land.' And against Daniel the princes of the 
Persian empire consult how to entrap him in the matter of his God, 
Dan. vi. 46, &c. 

2. For abusing the throne of judgment and civil courts of judi 
cature, to the molestation of the saints. I shall cite but two places : 
Ps. xciv. 20, ' Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, 
which f rameth mischief by a law ? ' It is no strange, but yet no small 
temptation, that the oppression of God's people is marked with a pre 
tence and colour of law and public authority, and the mischief should 
proceed from thence where it should be remedied, namely, from the 
seat of justice. So, Mat. x. 17, 18, Christ foretelleth they shall have 
enemies armed with power and public authority : ' Beware of men, for 
they will deliver you to the councils, and they shall scourge you in 
their synagogues, and ye shall be brought before governors and kings 
for my sake.' Not only subordinate, but supreme governors may be 
drawn to condemn and oppress the godly. In so plain a case more 
instances need not. 

Keasons of it, on God's part, and on the part of the persecutors. 


First, On God's part, he permitteth it 

1. To show that he can carry on his work though authority be 
against him, and that his people do not subsist by outward force, but 
the goodness of his providence, and so hath the sole glory of their pre 
servation. When the Christian religion came first abroad in the world, 
* not many noble nor many mighty were called ; ' the powers of the 
world were against it, and yet it held up the head, and was dispersed 
far and near. Falsehoods need some outward interest to back them, and 
the supports of a secular arm ; but God's interest doth many times 
stand alone, though God doth now and then make 'kings nursing- 
fathers, and queens nursing-mothers/ according to his promise, Isa. 
xlix. 23. Oftentimes the church is destitute of all worldly props : 
Micah' v. 7, ' And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many 
people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that 
tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men/ Yea, the power 
of the world is against it, and yet it subsists. Thus it was in the 
primitive times ; there were only a handful of contemptible people that 
professed the gospel ; yet it got ground daily, not by force of arms or 
the power of the long sword, but by God's secret blessing. Ambrose 
giveth the reason why God suffered it to be so, Ne videretur auctori- 
tate traxisse aliquos, et veritatis ratio non pompce gratia prcevaleret 
lest this new religion should seem to be planted with power rather than 
by its own evidence, and the authority of men should sway more with 
the world than the truth of God. There is a wonderful increase with 
out any human concurrence, as the Lord saith, ' The remnant of his 
people shall be as a dew from the Lord, that tarrieth not for man, nor 
waiteth for the sons of men/ without man's consent or concurrence. 
So that God alone hath the glory of their preservation. 

2. That the patience of his people may be put to the utmost pro 
bation. When they are exercised with all kinds of trials, not only the 
hatred of the vulgar, but the opposition of the magistrate, carried on 
under a form of legal procedure. In the primitive times, sometimes 
the Christians were exposed to the hatred and fury of the people, 
lapidibus nos invadit inimicum vulgus ; at other times exposed to the 
injuries of laws, and persecutions carried on by authority against them. 
There was an uproar at Ephesus against the Christians, Acts xix., and 
there seemed to be a formal process at Jerusalem, Acts iv. This 
latter temptation seemeth to be the more sore and grievous, because 
God's ordinance, which is magistracy, is wrested to give countenance 
to malicious designs, and because it cuts off all means of human help, 
and so ' patience hath ep<yov reXetoi/, its perfect work/ James i. 4. 
There is some glory in suffering the rage and evil word of the vulgar, 
for they are supposed not to make the wisest choice ; but when men of 
wisdom and power, and such as are clothed with the majesty of God's 
ordinance, are set against us, then is patience put to the utmost proof, 
and whether we regard God or man most, and who is the object of our 
fear, those that have power of life and death temporal, or him that 
hath power of life and death eternal. 

3. That his people may be weaned from fleshly dependencies, and 
doting upon civil powers, and so be driven to depend upon him alone. 
Ps. xciv. 20-22, ' Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with 

VEB. 23.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 217 

fchee, which establish mischief by a law ? They gather themselves to 
gether against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent 
blood. But the Lord is my defence, and my God is the rock of my 
refuge.' There would not be such use of faith and dependence upon 
God if our danger were not great. It is harder to trust in God with 
means than without means. We are beaten out when outward helps 
fail, otherwise we are apt to neglect God, and then a world of mischief 
ensueth. When the emperor of the Komans began to favour the 
Christians, poison was said to be poured into the church ; and in the 
sunshine of worldly countenance, like green timber, they began to warp 
and cleave asunder; and what religion got in breadth it lost in strength 
and vigour. God's people never live up to the beauty and majesty of 
their principles so much as when they are forced immediately to live 
upon God, and depend upon him for their safety. 

4. That their testimony and witness-bearing to God's truths may be 
the more public and authentic in the view of the world. This testi 
mony is either to them for their conviction and conversion : Mat. xxiv. 
14, ' And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, 
for a witness unto all nations;' or against them : Mat. x. 18, 'And 
ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a tes 
timony against them and the Gentiles/ It is for a testimony, and that 
should comfort them in all their sufferings : Mark xiv. 9, * Yerily I 
say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout 
the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a 
memorial of her.' The testimony is more valid as being confirmed by 
their courage in troubles ; they are principles that they will suffer for ; 
which, as it is a warning to the professors of religion that they should 
own no principles in a time of peace but what they would confirm by 
their avowed testimony in the extremity of trials ; so also it should 
convince their enemies in case they be put upon this exercise. It is need 
ful that every truth should have a sealed testimony ; that is, we should 
not only vent opinions, but be willing to suffer for them if God should 
call us out so to do. God hath been ever tender of imposing upon the 
world without sufficient evidence, and therefore would not have his 
people stand upon their lives and temporal concernments, that thereby 
they may give greater satisfaction to the world concerning the weight 
of those truths which they do profess. 

Secondly, On the persecutors' part, or the persons molesting ; so the- 
causes are 

1. Their ignorance and blind zeal : John xvi. 2, * They shall put 
you out of their synagogues ; yea, the time cometh, that whosoever 
killeth you will think that they do God good service.' They think 
it to be an acceptable service to God to molest and trouble those 
that are indeed his people. Those princes that sat and spake against 
David were not pagans and men of another religion, but of Israel ; and 
it is often the lot of God's people to be persecuted, not only by pagans 
and openly profane men, but even by men that profess the true re 
ligion pseudo-Christians, Eev. xiv. 13, those that pretend they are 
for God and his cause, and seem to be carried on with a great zeal, 
and do not oppose truth as truth, but their quarrel is coloured by 
specious pretences. 


2. Their prejudices lightly taken up against the people of God. 
Satan is first a liar, and then a murderer : John viii. 44, ' Ye are of 
your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do : he was 
a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because 
there is no truth in him : when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his 
own, for he is a liar, and the father of it/ By lies he bringeth about 
his bloody design. Christ was first called a Samaritan, and one thai 
had a devil ; and then they did persecute him as such a one. And, 
as was observed before, as Christians of old were covered with the skins 
of wild beasts, that dogs and lions might tear them the more speedily, 
so by odious imputations God's people are brought into distaste with 
the world, and then molested and troubled, represented as a company 
of hypocrites and unjust dealers ; and under that cloak, true religion 
is undermined. Now, in the persecutor, this is faulty, because they 
lightly take up every false suggestion ; and so Christians are con 
demned Sia T7]v <t>r)/jir}v, as Justin Martyr complained, because of the 
common reproach, without any distinct inquiry into their way and 
practice, nolunt audire quod auditum damnare non possunt. 

3. Their erroneous principle in civil policy, that Christ's kingdom 
and the freedom of his worshippers is not consistent with civil interests. 
Whatever hath been the matter, worldly rulers have been jealous of 
Christ's interest and kingdom, as if it could not consist with public 
safety, and the civil interests of that state and nation where it is 
admitted ; and suggestions of this kind do easily prevail with them : 
Esther iii. 8, ' It is not for the king's profit to suffer them ; ' and 
John xi. 48, 'If we let him alone, all men will believe on him, and 
the Eomans shall come and take away both our place and nation.' 
Reason of state is an ancient plea against the interest of religion. In 
the Eoman empire, though the Christians were inconsiderable as to 
any public charge, yet they had a jealous eye upon them. Justin 
Martyr showeth the reason of it, ort, (Baa-L\eiav ovo^d^o^ev, because 
they were often speaking of a kingdom ; though they meant it of the 
kingdom of heaven, and were far enough from all rebellion. 

Use 1. It informeth us that we should not measure the verity of 
religion by the greatness of those that are with it or against it. This 
Tvas one of the Pharisees' arguments, ' Do any of the rulers believe in 
him ? But this people, that know not the law, are accursed.' John 
vii. 48, 49. Alas ! men of authority and great place may be often 
against God's interest : James ii. 1, ' Have not the faith of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, in respect of persons/ Mark that 
title that is given to Christ, ' the Lord of glory ; ' he is able to put 
glory enough upon his worshippers, though they have nothing of out 
ward pomp and splendour ; and ' not many mighty are called,' 1 Cor. 
i. 26. Many will say they have none of quality to join with them, 
none but ignorant people. If a man had judged so in the first times, 
when the gospel came first abroad in the world, would not Christianity 
itself have seemed a very contemptible thing? Therefore a simple, 
plain-hearted love to Christ and his truth, whether powers be averse 
or friendly, is that which is required of us. 

2. It reproveth those who are soon discouraged with the reproach 
base people cast upon the ways of God. David stood both in 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 219 

the one temptation and in the other, the reproach and contempt of the 
vulgar, and also when princes sat and spake against him. But to 
these we may say, as Jer. xii. 5, ' If thou hast run with the footmen, 
and they have wearied thee, then how wilt thou contend with horses ? ' 
If we be such tender milksops that we cannot suffer a disgraceful word 
from the basest of the people, what shall we do when we meet with 
other manner of conflicts and oppositions in the farther progress- of 
our duty to God ? If we are tired out with- the disgrace and affronts 
of these mean ones, and cannot put up with a scornful word at their 
hands without disorder, what shall we do when we are to contest for God's 
interest with those great and masterly ones that are armed with power 
and authority, and it may be the advantage of laws against us? 
Scommata nostra ferre non potes, said the Antiochians to Julian in 
another case, quomodo feres Persarum tela ? God's servants do often 
receive discouragement from the people and from authority, but the 
goodness of their cause and the favour of God makes them joyfully 

3. It teacheth us what to do when this is not our case. I have 
treated as this scripture hath led me of the oppositions of princes and 
worldly powers against the people of God ; it may be you may judge 
it unseasonable ; but how soon it may be seasonable you cannot tell, 
considering the spirit of enmity against the power of godliness. 
Blessed be God that it is not so seasonable now. But what use shall 
we now make of it ? 

[1.] To bless God when he giveth religious rulers, and such as are 
well affected to religion. It is a fulfilling of his promise : Isa. xlix. 
23, ' And kings shall be thy nursing-fathers, and queens thy nursing- 
mothers/ God's interest in the world is usually weak, and his people, 
like little children, had need to be nursed up by the countenance and 
defence of worldly potentates. Now, when they discharge their duty, 
and do afford patronage and protection, it should be acknowledged to 
God's glory, in whose hands their hearts are ; and the rather by us, 
because of the iron yoke that was upon us, and those hard task 
masters under which we formerly groaned. We have our own dis 
contents, as well as former ages ; but because all things are not as 
we could wish them, shall we be thankful for none ? The liberty of 
religion is such a blessing as we cannot enough acknowledge, and 
doth sufficiently countervail other inconveniences. Oh ! therefore let 
us not sour our spirits into an unthankful frame, by dwelling too 
much upon our discontents and private dissatisfactions ; it is a mercy 
that the sword of authority is not drawn against religion. When God 
meaneth good or evil to a nation, he usually dispenseth it by their 
magistrates. If good, then he puts wisdom and grace into the hearts 
of those that govern, or government into the hands of those that are 
wise and gracious. When he meaneth evil, he sendeth them evil 
magistrates: Isa. xix. 4, 'The Egyptians will I give over into the 
hands of a cruel lord, and a fierce king shall rule over them.' But 
when good governors, it is a mercy, and a presage of good. 

[2.] To pity those whose case it is that princes sit and speak against 
them, as it is of many of the people of God now in the world. When 
we suffer not by immediate and direct passion, we should suffer by 


way of fellow-feeling and compassion. It is charged as a great 
crime that ' those that were at ease in Sion were not grieved for the 
afflictions of Joseph/ Amos vi. 6, compared with the 1st verse. It 
may be used proverbially ; as the butler forgat Joseph when he was 
well at court ; and his brethren did eat bread and little regarded the 
afflictions of his soul when cast into the pit. But I suppose them 
literally, because the half tribe of Manasseh was carried captive by 
Tiglath Pileser, that they did not sympathise with them, propter con- 
fractionem Joseph for the breach made upon Joseph. God layeth 
affliction upon some of his people, to try the sympathy of others ; as 
on Protestants in Poland, the emperor's dominions, Savoy, some parts- 
of France, and elsewhere. 

[3.] To be the more strict and holy, and improve this good day of 
the church's peace. They that are not holy in a time of peace will 
not be holy and constant in a time of trouble : Acts ix. 31, ' When 
the churches had rest, they walked in the fear of God, and in the com 
forts of the Holy Ghost.' When we are not called to passive obedience 
and suffering, our active obedience should be the more cheerfully 
performed. Now where is it so ? Our fathers suffered more willingly 
for Christ than we speak of him. Our inward peace and comfort will 
cost us more in getting, and therefore we should be more in service. 
Oh ! let us not abuse this rest we have, to the neglect of God, or to 
vain contentions, as green timber warpeth and breaketh in the sun 
shine. The contentions of the pastors, saith Eusebius, did usher in 
the truth, 1 which was Diocletian's persecution. 

[4.] Here is caution, and a word of counsel to the princes of the 
nations, or the heads of the people, that now are met together and sit 
in council. Oh ! do not sit and speak against such as are God's 
people ; that is, do not decree anything against them. Some would 
have the magistrate to do nothing in religion ; but that would leave 
things at a strange loose and disorder. Certainly you should at least 
provide for the liberties of God's people, that they should * lead a quiet 
life in godliness and honesty,' 1 Tim. ii. 2 ; that they may be secured, 
and the peace kept, not only as to their civil interests, but whilst they 
worship God according to their conscience, which can never be as long 
as those swarms of libertines are publicly tolerated, which every day 
increase in number, power, and malice. And again, the great security 
of magistrates lieth in an oath of fealty, which only receiveth value 
from religion ; therefore the magistrate is concerned in what religion 
is professed in a nation, as well as in things civil. But now, whilst 
you interpose in religion, be sure you do not contradict or undermine 
God's interest ; and be not courted by any prepossessions of your own, 
or the crafty insinuations of others, to oppress by your sentence and 
suffrage those that fear God in the land, and do make conscience of 
their ways. The magistrate's interposing in religion is to me an un 
questionable duty, and yet to be managed with great caution : Ps. ii. 
10, ' Be wise now, therefore, ye kings, and be instructed, ye judges 
of the earth/ What by natural prejudices against the strict and 
more severe ways of godliness, what by private whispers and subtle 
disguises, men may be tempted to oppose Christ's kingdom, cause, and 

!Qu. 'tenth' I ED. 

VER. 23.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 221 

people ; therefore they should be wary, as they would be faithful in 
their places, and love their own souls, to go upon sure clear grounds. 
You are to promote Christ's service, otherwise you will be answer 
able for your neglect ; and yet you are to take heed, lest, whilst you 
think you do God service, you subvert not his interest, and so you be 
answerable for your mistake. To deal more particularly would be a 
diversion. I only intend it as a warning, and to show you the neces 
sity of consulting with those who are best able to judge in the case 
where your duty lieth. 

Secondly, David's remedy : * But thy servant did meditate in thy 

Doct. The best way to ease the heart from trouble that doth arise 
from the opposition of men of power and place, is by serious consult 
ing with God's word. 

Because the time will not bear a large prosecution, I shall open the 
force of this clause in three propositions. 

1. A holy divertisement is the best way to ease the trouble of our 
thoughts. Certainly it is not good altogether to pore upon our 
sorrows ; a diversion is a prudent course. David did not merely sit 
down and bemoan the calamity of his condition, and so sink under the 
burden, but runneth to the word. As husbandmen, when their ground 
is overflowed by waters, make ditches and water-furrows to carry it 
away ; so when our minds and thoughts are overwhelmed with trouble, 
it is good to divert them to some other matter. But every diversion 
will not become saints ; it must be a holy diversion : Ps. xciv. 19, 
* In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my 
soul/ The case was the same with that of the text, when the throne 
of iniquity frameth mischief by a law ; as you shall see here, when he 
had many perplexed thoughts about the abuse of power against 
himself. But now where lay his ease in diversion ? Would every 
diversion suit his purpose ? No ; ' Thy comforts,' of God's allowance, 
of God's providing, comforts proper to saints. Wicked men in 
trouble run to their pot and pipe, and games and sports, and merry 
company, and so defeat the providence rather than improve it ; but 
David, who was God's servant, must have God's comforts. So else 
where, when his thoughts were troubled about the power of the 
wicked, * I went into the sanctuary, there I understood their end : ' 
Ps. Ixxiii. 17. He goeth to divert his mind by the use of God's 
ordinances, and so came to be settled against the temptation. 

2. Among all sorts of holy divertisements none is of such use as 
God's word. There is matter enough to take up our thoughts and 
allay our cares and fears, and to swallow up our sorrows and griefs, to 
direct us in all straits. In brief, there is comfort there and counsel 

[1.] Comfort, whilst the word teacheth us to look off from men to 
God, from providence to the covenant, from things temporal to things 
eternal, from men to God, as Moses ' feared not the wrath of the king 
when he saw him that is invisible/ Heb. xi. 27 ; and Eccles. v. 8, ' If 
thou seest the oppression of the poor, and violent perversion of judg 
ment and justice in a province, marvel not at the matter ; for he 
that is higher than the highest regardeth, and there be higher than 


they/ There is a higher judge that sitteth in heaven ; and if he pass 
sentence for us when they pass sentence against us, we need to be the 
less troubled. If he give us the pardon of sins and the testimony of 
a good conscience, it is no matter what men say against us : Ps. xl. 4, 
' Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth 
not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies/ Is not God able to bear 
you out in his work ? From providence to the covenant : providence- 
is a very riddle ; we shall not know what to make of it till we gather 
principles of faith from the covenant : Heb. xiii. 5, ' He hath said, I 
will never leave thee nor forsake thee/ God overrules all for good : 
Rom. viii. 28, ' We know that all things work together for good to 
those that love God, to those that are the called according to his 
purpose/ From things temporal to eternal : 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18, ' For 
our light affliction, that is but for a moment, worketh for us a far 
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we look not at the 
things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen ; for the 
things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not 
seen are eternal ; ' Eom. viii. 18, ' For I reckon that the sufferings of 
this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall 
be revealed in us/ A feather or a straw against a talent, a man would 
be ashamed to compare them together. 

[2.] For counsel. A Christian should not be troubled so much 
about what he should suffer, as what he should do, that he may do 
nothing unseemly to his calling and hopes, but be kept blameless to 
the heavenly kingdom. Now, the word of God will teach him how to 
carry himself in dangers, to pray for persecutors (fire is not quenched 
with fire, nor evil overcome with evil) ; how to keep ourselves from 
unlawful shifts and means, how to avoid revenge, lying, flattering, 
yielding against conscience, or waxing weary of well-doing, that we 
may not fight against Satan or his instruments by their own weapons, 
for so we shall be easily overcome. The wicked shall not be so wise to 
contrive the mischief, as a saint instructed by the word is how to carry 
himself under it : Ps. cxix. 98, * Through thy commandments thou hast 
made me wiser than my enemies/ Malice and policy shall not teach 
them to persecute, as God's word to carry yourselves in the trouble. 

3. The word must not be slightly read, but our hearts must be 
exercised in the meditation of it. A cursory reading doth not work 
upon us so much as serious thoughts. In all studies, meditation is 
both the mother and nurse of knowledge, and so it is of godliness, 
without which we do but know truths by rote and hearsay, and talk 
one after another like parrots ; but when a truth is chased into the 
heart by deep inculcative thoughts, then it worketh with us, and we 
feel the power of it. Musing maketh the fire burn, ponderous thoughts 
are the bellows that blow it up. Eggs come to be quickened by sitting 
abrood upon them. In a sanctified heart the seeds of comfort by 
meditation come to maturity ; by constant meditation our affections 
are quickened, this turneth the promises into marrow : Ps. Ixiii. 5, 6, 
* My soul shall be filled as with marrow and fatness, when I meditate 
on thee in the night watches/ It giveth more than a vanishing taste, 
which hypocrites have. 

Use 1. In all your troubles learn this method, to cure them by 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON PSALM oxix. 223 

gracious means, prayer or meditation. By meditation on the word of 
God, that will tell you that we are born to trouble, and therefore we 
should no more think it strange to see God's children molested here than 
to see a shower of rain fall after a sunshine, or that the night should 
succeed the day : 1 Peter iv. 12, * Beloved, think it not strange con 
cerning the fiery trial, as though some strange thing happened unto 
you/ It were strange if otherwise ; as if a man were told that his 
journey lay through a rough stony country, and should pass over a 
smooth carpet-way. Our waymark is many tribulations: Acts xiv. 
22, ' Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of 
heaven/ God had one Son without sin, none without the cross. 

2. That afflictions, though in themselves they are legal punish 
ments, fruits of sin, yet by the grace of God they are medicinal to 
his people : 1 Cor. xi. 32, * When we are judged, we are chastened of 
the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world/ 

3. We never advance more in Christianity than under the cross : 
Heb. xii. 10, ' They verily for a few days chastened us after their own 
pleasure, but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holi 
ness ; ' Ps. cxix. 71, ' It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that 
I might learn -thy statutes/ 

4. Bather undergo the greatest calamities than commit the smallest 
sin : Heb. xi. 25, ' Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people 
of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.' 

5. That all crosses are nothing to desertions of God and terrors of 
conscience : Prov. xviii. 14, ' The spirit of a man will sustain his 
infirmities ; but a wounded spirit who can bear ? ' 

6. That a meek suffering conduceth much to God's glory : 1 Peter 
iv. 14, * If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye ; for 
the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you : on their part he is 
evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified ; ' whilst you do nothing 
unworthy of his presence in you and the truth you profess. 


Tliy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors. VER. 24. 

DAVID in the former verse had mentioned the greatness of his trial, 
that not only the basest sort, but princes also were set against him. 
Then he mentions his remedy ; he had recourse to God's word, ' But 
thy servant did meditate in thy statutes/ 

Now he shows the double benefit which he had by the word of God, 
not only wisdom how to carry himself during that trouble, but also 
comfort; comfort in trouble, and counsel in duty; it seasoned his 
affliction and guided his business and affairs. What would a man 
have more in such a perplexed case than be directed and comforted ? 
David had both these, ' Thy testimonies are my delight and my coun 

First, Thy testimonies are my delight ; or, as it is in the Hebrew, 


Secondly, TJiey are my counsellors. In the Hebrew it is, the men 
of my counsel, which is fitly mentioned, for he had spoken of princes 
sitting in council against him. Princes do nothing without the advice 
of their privy council ; a child of God hath also his privy council, 
God's testimonies. On the one side there was Saul and his nobles and 
councillors ; on the other side there was David and God's testimonies. 
,Now who were better furnished, think you, they to persecute and 
trouble him, or David how to carry himself under this trouble? 
Alphonsus, king of Arragon, being asked who were the best counsellors, 
answered, the dead; meaning books, which cannot flatter, but do 
without partiality declare the truth. Now of all such dead counsellors, 
God's testimonies have the pre-eminence. A poor godly man, even 
then when he is deserted of all, and hath nobody to plead for him, he 
hath his senate and his council of state about him, the prophets and 
apostles, and other ' holy men of God, that spake as they were moved 
by the Holy Ghost/ A man so furnished is never less alone than 
when alone ; for he hath counsellors about him that tell him what is 
to be believed or done ; and they are such counsellors as cannot err, 
-as will not flatter him, nor applaud him in any sin, nor discourage 01 
dissuade him from that which is good, whatever hazards it expose 
him to. And truly, if we be wise, we should choose such counsellors 
as these, ' Thy testimonies are the men of my counsel.' 

First, Let me speak of the first benefit, ' Thy testimonies are my 

Doct. That a child of God, though under deep affliction, finds a 
great deal of delight and comfort in the word of God. 

This was David's case, princes sat and spake against him, decrees 
were made against him, yet ' thy testimonies are my delight/ Let us 

1. What manner of delight this is that we find in the word. 

2. What the word ministereth or contributeth towards it. 

First, What kind of delight it is ? A delight better than carnal 
rejoicing. Wicked men, that flow in ease and plenty, have not so 
much comfort as a godly man hath in the enjoyment of God, according 
to the tenor of his word : Ps. iv. 7, ' Thou hast put more gladness into 
my heart, than when their corn, wine, and oil increased/ We have 
no reason to change conditions with worldly men, as merry as they 
seem to be, and as much as they possess in the world. 

But more particularly, wherein is the difference ? 

1. This delight is a real joy : 2 Cor. vi. 10, ' As sorrowful, yet always 
rejoicing/ Their sorrow is but seeming, but their joy is real ; it is joy 
in good earnest : Heb. xii.ll, 'No affliction seemeth joyous but grievous/ 
As to seeming, they are in a sad condition, but it doth but so seem. 
A wicked man is as it were glad and merry, but indeed he is dejected 
and sorrowful ; the godly man is as it were sorrowful, but indeed 

2. It is a cordial joy : Ps. iv. 7, ' Thou hast put more gladness into 
my heart/ That is a delight indeed which puts a gladness into the 
heart, which not only tickles the outward senses, but affects the soul 
and comforts the conscience. Carnal joy makes a loud noise, and 
therefore it is compared to ' the crackling of thorns under a pot ; ' but 

VEB. 24.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 225 

this is that which goes to the heart, that fills it with serenity and 
peace. Carnal joy is like the morning dew, which wets the surface ; 
but godly joy is like a soaking shower that goes to the root, and makes 
the plant flourish. They that indulge false comfort rather laugh than 
are merry. But now he that is exercised in the word of God, and 
fetcheth his comfort out of the promises, he is glad at the very heart. 

3. It is a great joy : 1 Peter, i. 8, ' In whom believing, ye rejoiced 
with joy unspeakable and full of glory.' It doth ravish the heart, so 
that it is better felt than uttered, it is unspeakable and glorious. The 
higher the life, always the greater the feeling. The good and evil of 
no life can be so great as the good and evil of the spiritual life, because 
it is the highest life of all, and therefore hath the highest sense joined 
with it. Man is more capable of being afflicted than beasts, and beasts 
than plants, and a godly man more than other men ; he hath a higher 
life, therefore the good and evil is greater. A wounded spirit is the 
greatest misery any creature can feel on this side hell. So answerably 
are its joys : as the groans and sorrows of the spiritual life are unutter 
able, so are the joys of it unspeakable. 

4. It is a more pure joy than worldlings can have. The more intel 
lectual any comfort is, the more excellent in the kind. Though beasts 
may have pain and pleasure poured in upon them by the senses, yet 
properly they have not sorrow and delight. The joy of carnal men is 
pleasure rather than delight ; it is not fed by the promises and ordi 
nances, but by such dreggy and outward contentments as the world 
affords, and so of the same nature with the contentment of the beasts. 
But now the more intellectual and chaste our delights are, the more 
suitable to the human nature. Well, then, none hath a delight so 
separate from the lees as a Christian that rejoiceth in the promises of 
God. He that delights in natural knowledge, hath, questionless, a purer 
object and greater contentment of soul than the sensualist can possibly 
have, that delights only in meats, and drinks, and sports, in pleasures 
that are in common with the beasts. Further yet, he that delights in 
bare contemplation of the word, as it is an excellent doctrine suited to 
man's necessities, as the stony ground ' received the word with joy,' 
Mat. xiii. 20, certainly he hath yet a purer gladness than merely that 
man that is versed in natural studies. Oh ! but when a man can reflect 
upon the promises, as having an interest in them, that delight which 
flows from faith, and is accompanied with such a certainty, surely that 
is a more pure delight than the other, and doth more ravish the heart ; 
they have more intimate and spiritual joy than others have. 

5. It is a joy that ends well. Carnal rejoicing makes way for 
sorrow : c The end of that mirth is heaviness/ Prov. xiv. 13. It is a 
poor forced thing, saith Cooper. A man in a burning fever is eased 
no longer by drinking strong drink than while he is drinking of it, for 
then it seems to cool him, but presently it increaseth his heat ; so when 
men seek ease and comfort in troubles from outward external things, 
though they seem to mitigate their heaviness for the present, yet they 
increase it the more afterward. 

6. It is not a joy that perverts the heart. Carnal comforts, the more 
we use them, the more we are ensnared by them : Eccles. ii. 2, ' I have 
said of laughter, It is mad ; and of mirth, What doth it ? ' For what 



serious and sober use doth carnal rejoicing serve ? There is no profit 
by it, but much hurt and danger ; therefore Solomon preferreth sorrow- 
before it : Eccles. vii. 3, ' Sorrow is better than laughter ; for by the 
sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.' But now, the 
more of this delight we have, the more we delight ourselves in the 
word of God, the more we love God, the better the heart is. 

7. It is a delight that overcomes the sense of our affliction, and all 
the evils that do befall us; and therefore it is said of the heirs of 
promise that they have ' strong consolation,' Heb. vi. 18. The strength 
is seen by the effects ; therefore it is strong, because it supports and 
revives, notwithstanding troubles. It establisheth the heart, notwith 
standing all the floods and storms of temptations that light upon it : 
1 Thes. i. 6, it is said of them, that ' they received the word with much, 
affliction and joy in the Holy Ghost/ 

Secondly, How do we find it in the word ? { His testimonies are my 
delight.' The word requires this joy in troubles, and the word minister* 
it to the soul. 

It requires this joy : James i. 2, ' Count it all joy when ye fall into 
divers temptations.' We are not only with patience to submit to God's 
will, but also to rejoice in it : so Mat. v. 12, ' When men persecute 
and revile you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my 
name sake, rejoice and be exceeding glad/ Many times when other 
ways of persecution cease, yet there is reviling. Those that have no 
strength and power to do other injuries, yet have such weapons of 
malice always in readiness. Some, being not good Christians them 
selves, will defame those that are so ; that so, when they cannot reach 
them in practice, they may depress them by censure ; when they cannot 
go so high as they, they may bring them as low as themselves by 
detraction. Now, though this be a great evil, we should bear it not 
heavily but cheerfully ; rejoice and be exceeding glad in hope of the 
promises : Rom. v. 3, ' We glory in tribulation/ A true believer, that 
hath received the word of God as the rule of his life and guide of his 
hopes, he can not only be patient, but cheerful, glory in his tribulation. 
A carnal man is not so comfortable in his best estate as he at his 

Again, it gives us matter and ground of joy. God speaks a great 
deal of comfort to an afflicted spirit. It was one end why the scrip 
tures were penned : Eom. xv. 4, ' That we through patience and com 
fort of the scripture might have hope;' and Heb. xii. 5, 'Have you 
forgotten the consolation, that speaks to you as children ?' The great 
drift of the word is to provide matter of comfort, and that in our 
worst estate. 

But now, what are the usual comforts that may occasion this delight 
and joy in the Holy Ghost in the midst of deep affliction ? 

1. The scripture gives us ground of comfort from the author of 
our afflictions, who is our Father, and never manifests the comfort 
of adoption so much as then when we are under chastening : 
Heb. xii. 5, 'Tho consolation that speaks to you as children;' and 
John xviii. 11, ' The cup which my Father hath put into my hands, 
shall I not drink it ? ' It is a bitter cup, but it is from a father, not 
from a judge or an enemy. Nothing but good can come from him 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 227 

who is love and goodness itself ; nothing but what is useful from a 
father, whose affection is not to be measured by the bitterness of the 
dispensation, but by his aims, what he intends. If God should let us 
alone to follow our own ways, it were an argument we were none of 
his children. 

2. The necessity of affliction : 1 Peter i. 6, ' Ye are for a season in 
trouble, if need be.' Before the corn be ripened, it needs all kind of 
weathers, and therefore the husbandman is as glad of showers as sun 
shine, because they both conduce to fruitfulness. We need all kind 
of dispensations, and cannot well be without the many troubles that 
do befall us. 

3. The nature and use of affliction. It is a medicine, not a poison ; 
it works out the remainders of sin : Isa. xxvii. 9, ' By this therefore 
shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit, to take 
away his sin.' Afflictions are useful, and help to mortification. It is 
a file to get off our rust ; a flail, wherewith we are threshed, that our 
husk may fly off ; a fire to purge and eat out our dross : * He verily 
for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness,' Heb. xii. 10. 
If God take away any outward comforts from us, and give us graces 
instead of them, it is a blessed exchange, if he strip us of our gar 
ments, and clothe us with his own royal robe, as holiness is. God himself 
is glorious in holiness. Now, that we may be partakers of his holi 
ness, surely that is for our profit. 

4. For the manner of God's afflicting, it is in measure : Isa. xxvii. 
8, ' In measure when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it. He 
stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind.' So Jer. xlvi. 28, 
' Fear thou not, Jacob, my servant, saith the Lord/ &c. So 1 Cor. 
x. 13, ' God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above 
measure.' His conduct is very gentle : as Jacob drove on as the little 
ones were able to bear, Gen. xxxiii., so doth God with a great deal of 
moderation measure out sufferings in a due proportion, not to our 
offences only, but our strength ; as a father, in correcting his children, 
regards their weakness as well as their wantonness, laying less upon 
the more infirm, though alike faulty. 

5. Another comfort which the scripture propounds is the help we 
shall have in affliction to bear it, partly from the comforts of his Spirit, 
and partly from the supports of his grace. 

[1.] By way of consolation : * The love of God is shed abroad in 
our hearts by the Holy Ghost' at such a time, Rom. v. 3. Cordials 
are for those that are fainting. In time of trouble we have most sensible 
experience of God's love. God deals with his children many times as 
Joseph did with his brethren ; he calls them spies, and puts them in 
prison, but at length he could hold no longer, but tells them, ' I am 
your brother Joseph/ So God seems to deal roughly with his people, 
and take away their dearest comforts from them. Ay ! but before the 
trouble be over, he can hold no longer, but saith, I am your God, your 
father, and exceeding great reward. His bowels yearn towards us, and 
he opens his heart to us, and sheds abroad his love in our conscience. 

[2.] Partly by the supports and influences of his grace : Ps. cxxxviii. 
3, ' In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me and strengthenedst me 
with strength in my soul.' When David was in trouble, this was his 


comfort, though he could not get deliverance yet he got support. 
God is many times gone to appearance, but he will never forsake us 
as to inward support and strength : Heb. xiii. 5, ' I will never leave 
thee nor forsake thee.' 

6. From the fruit and final issue of all : 2 Cor. iv. 17, ' This light 
affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more 
exceeding and eternal weight of glory.' He that can find Christ in 
his afflictions, and can see heaven beyond it, needs not to be troubled. 
All the notions of heaven are diversified. Why ? That they may be 
suited to those divers trials and many evils we have in the world. 
Sometimes it is expressed by glory and honour, to counterbalance 
the disgrace which God's children meet with here ; that the reproach 
of men may not make us more sad than the eternal glory may make 
us comfortable. Sometimes it is expressed by substance, because some 
times God's children are poor, and suffer loss of goods, Heb. x. 34. 
Sometimes it is called our redemption, our country, to comfort us in 
exile and banishment for the name of Christ, Heb. xi. 14, 15. Some 
times it is called life eternal, because we may be called to suffer even 
to blood. Thus the word offereth this comfort against all the evils 
that befall us, that we may counterbalance every particular trouble 
with what the promises hold forth concerning our blessed hopes. 

Use 1. Well, then, let us exercise ourselves in the word of God, 
and let all his promises be as so many cordials to us. To this end 
get an interest in these promises, for the heirs of promise have ' strong 
consolation,' Heb. vi. 18. There is strong, great, real, and pure com 
fort, but it is to the heirs of promise. So Kom. v. 4, ' Not only so, 
but we rejoice in tribulation/ Who are those ? Those that are 
justified by faith in Christ, ver. 1. To others, afflictions are the punish 
ments of sin, and an occasion of despair, not of rejoicing. Ay ! but 
when we are interested in reconciliation with God, then we take this 
comfort out of the word of God. 

2. It informs us of the excellency of God's testimonies above all 
outward enjoyments. When we have them to the full, they cannot 
give us any solid true peace of conscience, nor cure one sad thought. 
Now beg of God that he will comfort you when all things else fail : 
' When the labour of the olive shall fail, I will comfort myself in the 
Lord my God/ Hab. iii. 18. I say, when we are under any burden, 
nay, when we are under any sorrow for sin, when afflictions revive 
stings of conscience, or else the word hath awakened them, yet there 
is comfort to be had by running to the word of God. 

3. It shows us what is the property of believers, to delight in the 
testimonies of God, when all things go cross to them. Temporaries, 
when things run smoothly, they have a comfort in the word. Oh I 
but when the afflictions of the gospel fall upon them, they fall a mur 
muring presently. But a true believer can hold up his head ; and 
though he hath much affliction, yet he can have much joy in the Holy 
Ghost, and a great deal of comfort from the word of God. 

There follows another benefit, ' Thy testimonies are my counsellors/ 
or ' men of my counsel.' From thence observe 

Doct. 2. That one great benefit we have from the word of God is 
counsel, how to direct our affairs according to his will. 

VER. 24.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 229 

For the clearing of this, let me lay down these propositions 

1. That our great interest is to keep in with God, or approve our 
selves to him. 

2. Whoever would keep in with God needs counsel and direction in 
all his ways. 

3. The only good counsel we can have is from God in his word. 

4. The counsel God hath given us in his word is sufficient and full 
out for all our necessities. 

Prop. 1. That our great interest is to keep in with God, and approve 
ourselves to him in all our actions ; for God is the scope and end of 
our lives and actions, as the thing pressed, ' That we may walk worthy 
of God in all well-pleasing,' Col. i. 10. God, being our chiefest good, 
must be our last end ; therefore in every action there must be a habi 
tual purpose, and in all actions of weight and moment there must be 
an actual purpose, to please God. Every ordinary affair must be carried 
forth in the strength of the habitual purpose, but in all actions we 
would make a business of there must be an actual purpose. And 
because his authority alone can sway the conscience, which is under 
his dominion, therefore it concerns us in all things to ' exercise our 
selves that we may have a good conscience, roid of offence both towards 
God and man/ Acts xxiv. 16. And again, we are to approve our ways 
to God, and to keep in with him, because to him we are to give an 
account, 2 Cor. v. 9, 10. There will a time come when every action 
of ours shall be taken into consideration, and weighed in the balance 
of the sanctuary, with all our principles and ends ; therefore we strive, 
we are ambitious (so the word signifies) ; our great ambition should 
be, living or dying, to be accepted with God. Again, surely it should 
be our business to approve ourselves to God in every action, because 
all the success of our actions depends upon his concurrence and bless 
ing. Now we shall find this is often asserted in scripture. When a 
man's ways are full of hazards, likely to be exposed to great opposi 
tion, your great work is to keep in with God, approve your hearts to 
him : Prov. xvi. 7, * When a man's ways please the Lord, he will make 
even his enemies to be at peace with him.' God hath a mighty power 
over the spirits of men ; therefore this is to go to the fountain-head, to 
stop all opposition there ; and, on the other side, without this care of 
pleasing God, all goes to loss. Counsels, though never so wisely laid, 
yet are blasted if we do not make this our business, to approve our 
hearts to God in those actions. Eemember, in one place it is said, 
' The counsel of the froward is carried headlong,' Job v. 13 ; and in 
another place, Isa. xliv. 25, ' The counsel of wise men he turneth back 
ward/ When men do not study to please God, and approve their 
hearts to him, God leaves them to precipitate counsels; sometimes 
they are carried forward, at other times they are carried backward ; 
the event is cross to their design. Sometimes God lets them fall into 
precipitant counsels that they may undo themselves, at other times 
disappoints their counsels, and that which they have designed. 

Prop. 2. Whosoever would keep in with God, he needs good counsel 
and direction in all his ways. Both in regard of the darkness of his 
understanding, his corrupt affections, and inordinate self-love, man is 
not able to rule and govern himself, but needs counsel : Prov. xii. 15, 


* The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he that hearkeneth 
unto counsel is wise/ When a man engageth in any action, such is 
the darkness and perverseness of man's heart that he should not be 
over-confident of his own apprehensions, or of his own inclinations, 
but should hearken after counsel ; and Prov. xxviii. 26, 'He that 
trusteth in his own heart is a fool/ Both these proverbs are to be 
understood not so much of wise managing of civil affairs as of spiritual 
direction. Surely it is ill trusting ourselves and counsels and inclina 
tions of our own hearts. Blind affections usually govern a man's life ; 
and all sinners have an evil counsellor in their bosom, some lust or 
other, and therefore need to be directed. The counsel of the flesh is, 
Favour thyself. Every evil affection gives ill counsel. Covetousness 
saith, Preserve thy worldly interest. Voluptuousness saith, You need 
not be so strict and nice, and abridge yourselves of the comforts of 
the world. Paul saith, Gal. i. 16, 'I conferred not with flesh and 
blood/ Flesh and blood are evil counsellors, and under pretence of 
safety will suggest what is for our ruin. What will the flesh say 
when it is to be denied, and the blood say when it is to be spilt and 
shed for God's sake ? These will persuade us rather to please our 
selves than please God. They will persuade us to desert our duty. 

Prop. 3. The only good counsel that we can have is from God in 
his word : Ps. Ixxiii. 24, ' Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and 
afterwards receive me unto g;lory/ We have it from God, and we have 
it from his word ; for there is a guide and a rule. Man is so weak and 
so perverse that he needs both a guide and a rule. The guide is the 
Spirit of God, and the rule is the word of God : thou shalt guide me, 
but by thy counsel. By these two alone can we be led in the way to true 
happiness. The Spirit he is a sure guide ; and the word, that is a clear 
rule. We are dark, but the scriptures are not dark. I observed out of 
the 18th verse, when the saints called upon God, they do not say, 
Lord, make a plainer law, but, Lord, give me better eyes. We are dark, 
and need the illumination of the Spirit; the scriptures are light: Prov. 
vi. 23, * The commandment is a lamp, and the law is light/ In all 
matters of practical obedience it is clear and open. 

Prop. 4. The counsel that God hath given us in his word is suffi 
cient and full out to all our necessities. Let me instance this in par 

1. The word gives us counsel for our general choice; it is the rule 
of all faith and obedience. The scriptures are the counsel of God, 
sent to remedy the miseries of the fall ; therefore it is said, Acts xx. 
27, ' I have not shunned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God/ 
It is God's counsel how man should be reconciled, how he should be 
converted, and come to the enjoyment of himself. David, when he had 
chosen God for his portion, he saith, Ps. xvi. 7, ' Blessed be God who 
hath given me counsel/ In the word he gives us counsel how to come 
to him for our happiness, and by grace he sets it on upon the heart : this 
is the counsel of God concerning our salvation. 

2. Not only in our general choice, but in all our particular actions, 
so far as they have a tendency unto that end : Ps. cxix. 105, ' Thy 
word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my paths/ It is a lamp 
and a light. We are full of darkness and error ; but as we follow 

TEE. 24.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 231 

the direction of God, it is a lamp not only to our path, but to our steps, 
to our feet ; not only to our path, to our general course, but it direct- 
eth us in every particular action. 

3. In dark and doubtful passages, when a man multiplieth consul 
tations and perplexed thoughts, and changeth conclusions as a sick 
man doth his bed, and knows not what course to take, whether this or 
that ; then the word will direct him what to do, so as that a man may 
find quiet in his soul. Indeed here is the question, How far the word 
of God is a counsellor to us in such perplexed and doubtful cases ? 

[1.] The word of God will help him to understand how far he is 
concerned in such an action in point of duty and conscience ; for other 
wise it were not 'able to make the man of God perfect, and thoroughly 
furnished unto all good works,' 2 Tim. iii. 17. Now it is a great re 
lief to the soul when a man understands how far he is concerned in 
point of duty. The conflict many times lies not only between light 
and lust, or light and interest then a gracious man knows what part 
to take ; but when it lies between duty and duty, then it is tedious 
and troublesome to him. Now the word clearly will tell you what is 
your duty in any action, whatever it be. 

[2.] As to the prudent management of the action in order to success, 
the word will teach you to go to God for wisdom, James i. 6, and to 
observe his answer. 

[3.] So in all actions, the word will teach you to ask God's leave and 
-God's blessing. Christians, it is not enough to ask God's counsel, but 
ask his leave in any particular action, in disposing our dwellings, or 
our concernments of children, and the like : Judges i., ' Who shall go 
up and fight against the Canaanites ? ' They would fain have the 
Lord decide it. And again, * Shall I go up to Kamoth-Gilead ? ' 
In all actions our business is to ask God's leave. David always runs 
to the oracle and ephod, ' Shall I go up to Hebron ? ' And Jacob 
in his journeys would neither go to Laban nor come from him with 
out a warrant and leave from God. So we ask God's leave in 
prayer, and observe the bent of our hearts after prayer. 

[4.] The word of God teacheth a manj when he understandeth his 
duty, and hath God's leave, to submit the event to God, and that 
easeth the heart, because he may be sure of success, comfort, and sup 
port : Ps. xxxvii. 5, * Commit thy way unto the Lord ; trust also in 
him, and he shall bring it to pass ; ' and Prov. xvi. 3, ' Commit thy 
work unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.' It easeth 
us of a great deal of trouble and care ; so that when a man hath 
brought his affections to submit to whatever God should determine 
in point of success, when he hath moderated and calmed his spirit, 
that he is resolved to bear the event whatever it be, this easeth the 
soul of a deal of trouble. Thus you see how we may make the statutes 
of God to be the men of our counsel. 

Use 1. What a singular mercy is it that God hath given us the 
scripture, where we have counsel upon all occasions, how to manage 
our affairs prudently, bear afflictions comfortably, and with composed 
hearts to get through all events and dangers that we meet with in our 
passage to heaven ! We should have groped up and down, as the 
Sodomites for Lot's door, if we had not this rule of faith and obedience. 


It is a rule that teacheth us how to think well, for it reacheth to the 
thoughts ; to speak well, for it giveth a law to all our words ; to do 
well in all our civil actions and trading : how to keep a good con 
science, and approve ourselves to God ; how in natural actions, eating, 
drinking, to season them with God's fear ; and religious actions,, 
how we may pray and worship ; how to govern ourselves, our own 
hearts and affections ; to converse with others in all relations, as 
fathers, children, masters, servants, magistrates, ministers, people ; and 
how to hold communion with God : all which are demonstrations of 
the sufficiency of the scripture for our direction, and what reason there 
is that we should take the testimonies of God to be the men of our 

Use 2. For reproof to those that turn the back upon God's counsels. 
Who are those ? 

1. Such as neglect the general duties of Christianity, as faith, and 
repentance. God hath given us counsel what to do in order to eternal 
life, and we regard it not. The great quarrel between God and sin 
ners is about the neglect of this counsel, which he hath given them for 
their soul's good : Prov. i. 25, ' They set at nought all my counsel ; ' 
and ver. 30, ' They would none of my counsel.' Oh ! when your 
friends have advised you, and you despise it, and take another course, 
it troubleth them. You know how heinously Achitophel took it when 
his counsel was despised. Equals, when their counsel is despised, take 
it very ill ; much more superiors when they give counsel. The en 
treaty and advice of a superior carrieth the force of a command. So 
it is here with God ; it is called counsel, not as if it were an arbitrary 
thing whether we did regard it or no ; but because of God's mild con 
descension. When men are in danger of perishing for ever, the Lord 
gives us counsel. You are in a miserable estate ; he is pleased to tell 
you how to come out of your misery. The word of God, therefore, is 
called the counsel of God. It is sad when we shall reject the counsel of 
God: Luke vii. 30, ' They rejected the counsel of God against them 
selves.' There is two sentences, they rejected the counsel of God, and ifc 
was against themselves ; it was to their own loss and destruction. God 
loseth nothing when we despise his counsel ; but you lose all your eter 
nal happiness. This is so great an evil that God punisheth it with itself. 
When men will not take God's counsel, then it is the most dreadful 
judgment he can lay upon us to give us up to our own counsel, Ps. 
Ixxxi. 11. Oh, what a heavy judgment was it to be given up to the 
counsels of their own heart ! 

2. It reproves such as do not consult with God's word about their 
affairs, but merely live as they are acted by their own lusts, or ' walk 
at all adventures ; ' so the expression in the marginal reading is, Lev. 
xxvi. 21. It is as the action falls ; they do not care whether it please- 
God, or be the rule of their duty, yea or nay. These are far from the 
temper of God's children. It is sad in persons, much more in nations, 
when men run headlong upon all manner of disorders, against right 
and honesty ; it tends to ruin : Deut. xxxii. 28, ' They are a nation 
void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them.' 

3. Such as go flatly against the counsel of God, and, to gratify 
their own interest, pervert all that is just and honest : Ps. cvii. 11, 

VEB. 24.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 233 

' They rebelled against the word of the Lord, and contemned the coun 
sel of the Most High/ These do but expose themselves to speedy 
ruin. Job xviii. 7, Bildad said of the wicked, * His own counsel shall 
cast him down.' They need no other means to ruin them than their 
own brutish course. When men dare break the commandment of God 
without any reluctancy, to gratify a worldly interest, though for the pre 
sent no evil comes of it, yet afterwards they shall smart : Prov. xix. 20, 
' Hear counsel and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise for 
thy latter end/ Consider what it will come to afterwards, when thou 
comest to die ; then you will wish, Oh that I had taken God's counsel, 
that I had not gone with such a daring spirit against the plain counsel 
of God's word ! 

4. Such as pretend to ask counsel from the word, but it is accord 
ing to the idol of their own hearts ; that come with their own conclu 
sions and preconceptions and prejudices, against God's counsel : Ezek. 
xiv. 3, 4, ' Son of man, these have set up their idols in their heart,' &c. 
Men will come and pretend to ask God's counsel and leave upon their 
undertakings, when they are resolved upon a wicked enterprise before ; 
then God must be called upon and sought to, and so they make God's 
ordinance a lacquey, merely to be a covert to their evil practices ; as 
those in Jer. xlii., that came to the prophet, and they were prepos 
sessed, and had their resolutions aforehand. 

Use 3. To press us to this consulting with the word of God, to 
make the testimonies of the Lord the men of our counsel. There are 
many qualifications and tempers of heart necessary. 

1. Fear of God : Ps. xxv. 12, ' What man is he that feareth the 
Lord ? him will he teach the way that he shall choose ; ' he that is 
in doubt and perplexed, and would have counsel from God's word. 
Who is the man that is like to have it? He that feareth the Lord, 
There is a great suitableness between the qualification and the pro 
mise. Partly he that fears God hath a greater awe of the word than 
others have, and is loath to do anything contrary to God's will ; he 
would fain know what is God's mind in every particular case : Ps. cxix. 
161, ' My heart standeth in awe of thy word.' To offend God, and to 
baulk the direction of God's word, that is the greatest terror to him, 
greater than all other dangers. Now such a man is less apt to mis 
carry by the rashness and impetuous bent of carnal affections. And he 
that fears God, he aims at God's glory rather than his own interest, 
and so is rather swayed by reasons of conscience and religion than of 
carnal concernments. Many times the doubtfulness that is upon the 
spirit is because of conflicts between lust and knowledge ; our light is 
weakened by an inordinate affection to our own interest, otherwise we 
would soon come to the deciding our case by the word of God. Now 
he that would fain know God's mind in everything, this is the man 
whom God will direct. 

2. The second qualification is 'the meek: ' Ps. xxv. 9, ' The^meek 
he will guide in judgment, and the meek he will teach his way.' By 
the meek is meant a man humble, that will submit himself to God, 
whatever condition he shall appoint. This man God in his word will 
teach and direct. 

3. The third qualification mentioned in order to this is a constant 


dependence upon God : Prov. v. 6, ' Trust in the Lord with all thine 
heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding : in all thy ways 
acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.' Oh ! when a man 
is brought off from this spiritual idolatry, of making his bosom to be 
his oracle, and his own heart to be his counsellor, when he doth in the 
poverty of his spirit humbly and entirely cast himself upon the help of 
God, and acknowledge him in all his ways, then he shall see a clear 
direction what God would have him to do. You have another place 
to this purpose, Ps. cxliii. 8, ' Cause me to know the way wherein I 
should walk ; for I lift up my soul unto thee.' Oh ! when a man goes 
every morning to God, and desires the direction of his Spirit, and pro- 
fesseth to God in the poverty of his own spirit that he knows not how 
to guide his way for that day, then God will teach him the way he shall 
walk. So Ps. xxv. 4, 5, ' Show me thy ways, Lord ; teach me thy 
paths.' What is his argument ? ' On thee do I wait all the day.' 
When you live in a constant dependence upon God, then will the Lord 
undertake to direct and guide you. 

4. Obedience or Christian practice, that is one of the qualifications 
that make you capable for direction from the word of God : John vii. 
17, ' If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether 
it be of God/ A man does not know whether this opinion or that be 
according to God's mind, when there are plausible pretences on every 
side. He that maketh conscience of known truth, and walketh up to 
his light, he that doth not search to satisfy curiosity, but out of a 
thorough resolution to obey and submit his neck to the yoke of Christ, 
whatever he shall find to be the way of Christ, that man shall know 
what is the way in times of controversy and doubtful uncertainty. He 
that will say, as a famous German divine, If we had six hundred 
necks, let us submit them all to the yoke of Christ ; he that is resolved 
to submit to the mind of Christ, how contrary soever to his interest, to 
the prejudices and prepossessions of his own heart, he shall know the 
doctrine that is of God. 


My soul cleaveth unto the dust : quicken thou me according to 
tliy word. VER. 25. 

THE man of God in this psalm had spoken before of the common and 
universal benefits of the word, as it agreeth to all times and conditions 
of believers ; for it belongeth to all, in what state soever they are, to 
look upon it as a direction in the way to get true happiness, and to stir 
up suitable affections in their hearts. Now he showeth what use the 
word hath in each special condition, especially in the time of great 
afflictions. David did often change states, but his affection to the word 
never changeth. 

Here is (I.) A representation of David's case ; (2.) His supplica 
tion or petition thereupon ; wherein (1st.) The request itself ; (2d.) 
Hie argument to enforce it. 

. 25.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 235 

First, The representation of David's case, ' My soul cleaveth unto the 
<lust/ The speech is metaphorical, expressing the depth of his misery, 
or the greatness of his sorrow and humiliation. (1.) The depth of his 
misery, with allusion to the case of a man overcome in battle, or mor 
tally wounded, and tumbling in the dust, or to a man dead and laid 
in the earth ; as Ps. xxii. 15, ' Thou hast brought me to the dust of 
death.' Sure we are the expression importeth the extremity of dis 
tress and danger, either as a man dead, or near death. (2.) The 
greatness of his sorrow and humiliation ; and so the allusion is taken 
from a man prostrate and grovelling on the ground, which was their 
posture of humbling themselves before the Lord, or when any great 
calamity befell them. As when Herod Agrippa died, they put on 
sackcloth, and lay upon the earth weeping (Joseph., lib. xix. cap. 7). 
The same allusion is Ps. xliv. 25, ' Our soul is bowed down unto the 
dust, our belly cleaveth to the earth.' Suitably to which allusion, the 
Septuagint renders it efco\\ij0r} TU> e'Sa<a 7} TJrvxfj ^ av 1 the pavement. 

And we read in Theodoret, that Theodosius the Emperor, when 
reproved by Ambrose for the slaughter at Thessalonica, he lay 
upon the ground, and humbly begged pardon, using these words, 
Adhcesit pavimento anima mea. The meaning is, that in his 
dejected condition he would lie prostrate at God's feet as a poor sup 
plicant, and die there. The first point is 

That God's children may have such great afflictions brought upon 
them that their souls may even cleave to the dust. 

These afflictions may respect their inward or outward condition. 

1. Their inward condition ; and so through grief and terrors of 
conscience they are ready to drop into the grave. That trouble of mind 
is a usual exercise of God's people, see Heman's complaint, Ps. 
Ixxxviii., from ver. 3 to the end of ver. 7 : ' My soul is full of troubles, 
and my life draweth nigh unto the grave. I am counted with them 
that go down into the pit : I am as a man that hath no strength. 
JFree among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, whom thou 
rememberest no more : and they are cut off from thy hand. Thou 
hast laid me in the lowest pit, in darkness, in the deep. Thy wrath 
lieth hard upon me, and thou hast afflicted me with all thy waves. 
Selah.' It was in his soul, and it was in his soul by reason of the 
wrath of God, and that in such a degree of vehemency that, in his own 
judgment and the judgment of others, he could not expect to be long 
a man of this world, little differing from the dead, yea, the damned. 
So David, Ps. Ixxvii. 1, &c., ' I cried unto God with my voice, even 
unto God with my voice, and he gave ear unto me. In the day of my 
trouble I sought the Lord ; my sore ran in the night and ceased not ; 
my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled. 
I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. Thou boldest 
mine eyes waking : I am so troubled that I cannot speak : I have con 
sidered the days of old, the years of ancient time,' &c. By the sense 
of God's wrath he was even wounded to death, and the sore running 
upon him would admit of no plaister ; yea, the remembrance of God 
was a trouble to him : ' I remembered God, and was troubled/ What 
-a heavy word was that ! Soul troubles are the most pressing troubles; 
-a child of God is as a lost man in such a condition. 


2. In respect of the heavy weight of outward pressures. Thus 
David fasted, and lay all night upon the earth in his child's sick 
ness: 2 Sam. xii. 16, 17, ' David therefore besought God for the child ; 
and David fasted, and went in, and lay all night upon the earth. 
And the elders of his house arose, and went to him to raise him 
up from the earth ; but he would not : neither did he eat bread 
with them/ And when he was driven from his palace by Absalom, 
and was in danger of his life every moment (which some interpre 
ters think to be the case intended in the text), when he went up the 
Mount of Olives barefoot, going and weeping : 2 Sam. xv. 30, ' And 
David went up by the ascent of Mount Olivet, and wept as he went 
up, and had his head covered ; and he went barefoot, and all the 
people that was with him covered every man his head, and they went 
up, weeping as they went/ 

Now the reasons of this are these 

1. To correct them for past sins. This was the cause of David's 
trouble, and this puts a sting into all miseries. God's children 
smart under their sins here in the world as well as others : Prov. xi. 
31, ' Behold the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth, much 
more the wicked and the sinner/ Recompensed in the earth, that is, 
punished for his sins. Compare with it 1 Peter iv. 18, ' And if the 
righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner 
appear ? ' God punisheth here that he may spare for ever. He 
giveth some remembrance of the evil, and corrects his people, not 
to complete their justification, or to make more satisfaction for God's 
justice than Christ hath made, yet to promote their sanctification ; 
that is, to make sin bitter to them, and to vindicate the glory of God, 
that he is not partial. For these reasons they are even brought to- 
the dust by their own folly. 

2. To humble them, and bring them low in the midst of their great 
enjoyments ; therefore he casts them down even to the dust. Because we 
cannot keep our hearts low, therefore God maketh our condition^ low. 
This was Paul's case : 2 Cor. i. 7-9, * And our hope of you is stead 
fast, knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be- 
also of the consolation ; for we would not, brethren, have you ignorant 
of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of 
measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life ; but 
we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in 
ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead ' that is, not to build 
too securely on their own sufficiencies. 

3. To try their graces, which are never tried to the life till we be 
near the point of death. The sincerity of our estate and the strength 
of faith is not discovered upon the throne so much as in the dust, if we 
can depend upon God in the hardest condition. 

4. To awaken the spirit of prayer : ' Out of the depths have I 
cried unto thee, Lord/ Ps. cxxx. 1. Affliction puts an edge upon 
our desires. They that are flat and careless at other times are oftenest 
then with God. 

5. To show the more of his glory, and the riches of his goodness in 
their recovery: Ps. Ixxi. 20, 21, 'Thou which hast showed me great 
and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again 

VER. 25.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 237 

from the depths of the earth. Thou shalt increase my greatness, and 
comfort me on every side.' By the greater humiliation, God prepareth 
us for the greater blessings. As there are multitudes of troubles to 
humble and try the saints, so his mercies do not come alone, but with 
great plenty. 

Use 1. Let us bless God that we are not put to such great trials. 
How gentle is our exercise compared with David's case ! We are 
weak, and God will not overburden us. There is a great deal of the 
wisdom and love of God seen in the measure of the cross, and in the 
nature and kind of it. We have no cause to say our belly cleaveth 
to the dust, or that we are pressed above measure. God giveth us 
only a gentle remembrance. If brought upon our knees, we are not 
brought upon our faces. 

2. If this should be our case, do not count it strange. It is a usual 
exercise of God's people ; let us therefore not be offended, but ap 
prove God's holy and wise dispensation. If there be great troubles, 
there have been great sins, or there will be great comforts, or for 
the present there are great graces. As such a dispensation is a cor 
rection, there is reason to approve it. If you be laid in the dust, have 
you not laid God's honour in the dust, and trampled his laws under 
foot ? As it is a trial, you have cause to approve it ; for it is but meet 
that when God hath planted grace in the heart, he should prove the 
strength of it. Therefore, if you be kept so long in your heavy con 
dition that you seem dead, yet if you have faith to keep you alive, 
and patience be exercised, it is for your greater good : Rom. v. 3, 
* And not only so, but we glory in tribulation, knowing that tribula 
tion worketh patience ; ' and as affliction is an exercise for your bene 
fit and spiritual improvement. The husbandman, when he teareth 
and rendeth the ground up with the plough, it is to make it more fruit 
ful. The longer the metal is in the fire the more pure it cometh 
forth. Nay, sometimes you have your outward comforts with advan 
tage after trouble : as Job xlii. 10-12, ' And the Lord turned the 
captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends : also the Lord gave 
Job twice as much as he had before ; and the Lord blessed the latter 
end of Job more than his beginning.' Oh ! when we are fitted to en 
joy comforts we shall have them plenty enough. 

Second point, That in such great and heavy troubles we should deal 
with God for help. 

In the dust David calleth to God for quickening. The reasons of 
this, why in great troubles we should go to God for help, are 

1. From the inconvenience of any other course. 

[1.] If the godly should smother their grief, and not go to God with 
it, their sorrow were able to choke them. It is no small ease that we 
have a God to go to, to whom we may freely open our minds. Prayer 
hath a pacative virtue; as Hannah, 1 Sam. i. 18, 'prayed unto the Lord, 
and wept sore ; ' and mark the event, ' The woman went her way, and 
did eat, and her countenance was no more sad,' &c. An oven stopped 
up is the hotter within, but vent and utterance giveth ease to the heart, 
if it be merely by way of complaint to a friend, without expectation 
of relief ; much more to go to God, and lay open our case before him. 

[2.] To seek our comfort elsewhere, from earthly things, it is a vain 


and evil course. (1.) It is vain ; for God is the party with whom we 
have to do. In many troubles the creatures may be instruments of 
our woe ; but the principal party is God. Strike in with him, and you 
stop the mischief at the head : Prov. xvi. 7, ' When a man's ways 
please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him/ 
In other troubles God hath a more immediate hand, as sickness and 
terrors of conscience ; our business then lieth not with the creatures ; in 
sickness, not with physicians first, but with God. In troubles of 
spirit we are not to quench our thirst at the next ditch, but to run to 
the fountain of living water ; not to take up with ordinary comforts ; 
that is an attempt to break prison, and to get out of the troubles be 
fore God letteth us out. He is our party then, whoever be the instru 
ment. (2.) It is evil that we refuse to come to God when he whip- 
peth us into his presence, and beateth us to the throne of grace : Dan. 
ix. 13, ' All this evil is come upon us, yet made we not our prayer be 
fore the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and 
understand thy truth.' When men are ready to die, and will not so 
much as confer with the physician, they are either stupid or desperate. 
Afflictions summon us into his presence. God sendeth a tempest after 
us, as after Jonah. Now that trouble which chaseth us to God is so 
far a sanctified trouble. 

2. The hope of relief from God, who alone can and will help us. ' He 
put his mouth in the dust ; peradventure there is hope,' Lam. iii. 29. 
Now this hope is from God's power and will. 

[1.] His power. God can quicken us when we are as good as dead, 
because he is the well-spring of life and comfort. Other things give 
us life, but as water scaldeth when it is the instrument of heat ; but 
God alone can help/us. God is the great quickener : 'That I might trust 
in him that raiseth the dead ; ' and ' I am the resurrection and the life/ 

[2.] His will. When we are humble and tractable in our afflictions 

(1.) It is some hope if we have nothing to bring before God but our 
grief and misery, for he is pitiful. A beggar will uncover his sore to 
move your bowels. So many times all the reason that a poor pitiful 
afflicted person can bring for himself is lamenting his case to God, 
how discouraged he is, and apt to faint, as David represents his case, 
' My soul cleaveth to the dust ; ' and elsewhere, Ps. Ixix. 29, ' But I 
am poor and sorrowful ; let thy salvation, God, set me up on high/ 
Justice seeketh a fit object, but mercy a fit occasion. 

(2.) It is a greater ground of hope when we are humbled under 
God's hand, and have a due sense of our condition ; that is, are con 
vinced of our emptiness, weakness, nothingness, or emptied of self-con 
ceit and carnal confidence : Deut. xxxii. 36, ' For the Lord shall 
judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth 
that their power is gone, and there is none shut up or left.' God's 
judgments are to break our carnal dependencies. 

(3.) Still the hope increaseth when we acknowledge his justice 
and wisdom in all our troubles: Lev. xxvi. 41, 'If then their un- 
circumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punish 
ment of their iniquity,' kiss the rod wherewith they are corrected,, 
be glad it is no worse, and see that all this cometh from a just and 
wise God. 

VER. 25.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 23$ 

(4.) There is further hope 'when we can cast ourselves upon his 
faithfulness and omnipotency, in the face of all discouragements. 
Christ's question to the man long possessed was, Mark ix. 23, ' If 
thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.* 
God's power is exercised when glorified by faith and dependence. 

(5.) When we submit to what may be most for his glory. Carnal 
prayers, though never so earnest, fail when we are too earnest upon 
our private end, and the means which we fancy : Ps. cxv. 1, * Not 
unto us, Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy 
mercy and for thy truth's sake.' 

Use. In deep calamities run to God, lay forth your case feelingly 
and with submission to the justice of his providence, trusting to his 
power, and submitting to his wisdom, without obtruding your model 
upon God, but leaving him to his own course ; and this is the way to 
speed. Take heed 

1. Of a stupid carelessness under the rod. It is a time of seeking 
after God, a summons to the creature to come before him. Now, if 
we think to sport away our trouble without looking after God's com 
forts, it is a desperate security : Jer. v. 12, * They have belied the 
Lord, and said, It is not he ; neither shall evil come upon us ; neither 
shall we see sword nor famine.' 

2. Take heed of despondency. The throne of grace is set up on 
purpose for such a time : Heb. iv. 16, * Let us therefore come boldly 
to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to 
help in time of need;' Ps. 1. 15, 'Call upon me in the day of 
trouble ; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.' Open your 
case before the Lord. 

3. Take heed of pitching too much upon outward things, either as 
to the time or way of deliverance. Lust is vehement ; but the more 
you seek, the more comfortable will be the issue : Ps. li. 18, ' Do 
good in thy good pleasure unto Sion; build thou the walls of thy 

Secondly, We come now to David's supplication or petition there 
upon ; where observe 

1. The request itself, quicken thou me. 

2. The argument, according to thy word. 

First, The request itself, ' Quicken thou me ; ' which noteth either 
the renewing of comfort or the actuation of graces, the restoring or 
putting life into his affairs. 

1. The renewing of comfort ; quicken me, revive me, or restore life 
to me again ; and this either by outward deliverance so quickening 
is used Ps. Ixxi. 20, ' Thou which hast showed me great and sore 
troubles, shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up again from 
the depths of the earth/ where deep trouble is compared to the grave, 
and deliverance a kind of resurrection or recovery from the dead or 
by the letting in of inward comfort and spiritual reviving from the- 
sense of God's love ; so Ps. Ixxx. 18, 19, ' Quicken us, and we will 
call upon thy name. Turn us again, Lord God of hosts ; cause thy 
face to shine, and we shall be saved.' The shining of God's face, or 
the sense of God's love, is the reviving of afflicted spirits. 

2. The actuation of grace ; there may be life where there is no 


vigour. Now when we are stirred up to be lively in God's service, we 
are said to be quickened, as in the 19th verse of the psalm before 
quoted ; and often it is thus used in this psalm, as ver. 37, ' Quicken 
thou me in thy way.' The point is this 

That God's children need often to go to God for quickening, because 
they often lie under deadness of heart, and therefore should desire God, 
who is the fountain of grace, to emit and send forth his influence. 

They need this quickening (1.) By reason of their constant weak 
ness ; (2.) Their frequent indispositions and distempers of soul. 

1. Their constant weakness in this world. 

By reason of their inclination to sin. 

The imperfection of their motions towards that which is good. 

By reason of their inclination to sin. Carnal concupiscence 
draweth us aside from God to sensual objects : James i. 14, ' A man 
is drawn away by his own lust.' There is a strong bias of corruption 
drawing us from Christ to present things : Heb. xii. 1, ' Let us lay 
aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.' There 
is a carnal affection or corrupt inclination which carrieth us out in 
ordinately to things lawful, or too often to things unlawful; this 
hangeth as a weight, retarding us in all our heavenly flights and 
motions. The love and care of the world, which is apt to press down 
the soul, and doth twine about us, and insinuate with us ; the apostle 
calleth it * a law in his members/ Rom. vii. 23, a warning to us how, 
when the flesh draweth us off so strongly one way, to implore the 
divine grace to draw us more strongly to the other. 

[2.] Because of the imperfection of their motions to that which is 
good, though there be a purpose, bent of heart, and inclination that 
way. Our gyves are still about us ; we feel the old maim. Grace is 
like a spark in wet wood, that needs continual blowing. 

2. Their frequent indispositions and distempers of soul. Some 
times they feel a loathness in their souls and a shyness of God's pre 
sence ; their hearts hang off ; the spirit indeed is willing, but some 
fleshly thought or carnal excuse checketh the motion. It is God alone 
that can make the soul willing ; he giveth both will and deed. God 
bendeth the unwilling will, as well as helpeth the fainting affections. 
Again, sometimes they find a great deadness ; there is no vigour or 
liveliness in their affections, and they cannot follow after God with 
such zeal and earnestness : though there be not a formal deadness, 
such as usually is in the duties of hypocrites, yet there is not always 
the same strength and agility of grace in the children of God ; their 
souls do not so earnestly reach after Christ. Now, what can help but 
divine quickening ? Therefore go to God for it. We should rouse 
and stir up ourselves. God giveth out influences according to his will 
or pleasure, but we must still stir up ourselves. 

But to answer .a case of conscience, whether we are to do duty in 
case of deadness and indisposition, &c. ? 

1. The influence of grace is not the warrant of duty, but the help ; 
it is the efficient assisting cause, not the ground or rule. We are to 
do all acts of obedience on account of God's command : Luke v. 5, 
* Simon answering, said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night ; 
nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.' God is sovereign, 

VEK. 25.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 241 

and we are bound to obey, whether disposed or indisposed. Should 
the husbandman never plough but when disposed to plough ? 

2. Our sinful indisposition cannot excuse us. In sins of commis 
sion, our weakness to resist temptation is no excuse. So also in sins 
of omission, we cannot be allowed to say, It was the Lord suffered me 
to sin. No more will this plea be allowed, The Lord did not quicken 
me to duty. Grace is as necessary to prevent sin as to perform duty. 
God's suspension was no excuse to Hezekiah : 2 Chron. xxxii. 31 ; 
' Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Baby 
lon, who sent to him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the 
land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his 
heart/ This complaint of weakness hath an ill aspect ; complaining 
without labouring is rather a taxing of God. But 

3. Natural men are bound to pray and perform duties, therefore re 
newed men. That natural men are bound, see Acts viii. 22, ' Repent 
therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought 
of thine heart may be forgiven thee ;' and Ps. xiv. 2, * The Lord 
looked down from heaven to see if there were any that did understand 
and seek God.' It is charged as a crime that they did not, but much 
more the renewed ; for to whom more is given, of them more is re 
quired. It is another talent wherewith they are intrusted. Grace is 
not only donum, but talentum; grace is not given as a piece of money 
to a child to play withal, but as we give money to factors to trade 
withal for us. Now a renewed man should do more, being capable of 

4. The outward act of a duty is commanded as well as the inward ; 
though they come not up to the nature of a perfect duty, there is some 
what of the ordinance of Christ in them : Hosea xiv. 2, ' Take with 
you words, and turn unto the Lord : say unto him, Take away all 
iniquity, and receive us graciously ; so will we render the calves of our 
lips.' Though I cannot do all, I must do as much as I can. 

5. We are to wait humbly in the use of means for the power of his 
grace. When the door is shut, knocking is the only way to get it open. 
I will go and offer myself to God, and see what he will do for me ; 
which is God's usual way, and to be used with the more caution and 
diligence, because God doth all : Phil. ii. 12, 13, * Wherefore, my be 
loved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now 
much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and 
trembling : for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do 
of his good pleasure/ Seamen by tacking about get wind : so far as 
you use the means, you comply with God's end. A sad threatening 
there is to those that neglect the use of means, that shut the door 
upon themselves, or if God withdraws, are willing he should keep 

6. Acting in spiritual duties fits us for them. Iter ad pietatem est 
intra pietatem praying fits for praying, meditating for meditating. 
Frequent turning the key maketh the lock go more easy. Good dis 
positions make way for good dispositions, Ps. xxvii. 14 ; Ps. xxxi. 24, 
* Wait on the Lord ; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thy 
heart/ Pluck up your spirits, strive to take courage, and then God 
will give you courage. To shake us out of laziness, God maketh the 

VOL. vi. q 


precept go before the promise. God biddeth us pray, though prayer 
be his own gift. Act as you would expect. 

7. There is a supply corneth in ere we are aware : Cant. vi. 12, 
' Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Ammina- 
dib,' in the very work, A strange difference of temper is to be ob 
served in David before the psalm be over : 1 Chron. xxii. 16, ' Arise, 
therefore, and be doing, and the Lord be with thee.' God will not 
help that man that hath legs to go, and will not. 

8. We are to rouse up ourselves : Isa., Ixiv. 7, * And there is none 
that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of 
thee.' When we are willing to get the work over, and wrestle not for 
life and power in praying, we do not all we are able. The cock by 
clapping the wings addeth strength to the crowing. We should 
rouse up ourselves. We use not the bellows to a dead coal, &c. 

Secondly, The next circumstance is the argument, ' According to 
thy word.' What word doth David mean ? Either the general pro 
mises in the books of Moses or Job, which intimate deliverance to the 
faithful observers of God's law, or help to the miserable and distressed, 
or some particular promise given to him by Nathan or others. Chry- 
sostom saith, Quicken me to live according to thy word : but it is not 
a word of command, but a word of promise. Mark here 

1. He doth not say, Secundum meritum meum, but secundum verbum 
tuum; the hope, or that help which we expect from God, is founded 
upon his word ; there is our security, in his promises, not in our de- 
servings Promittendo se fecit debitor em, &c. 

2. When there was so little scripture written, yet David could find 
out a word for his support. Alas ! in our troubles and afflictions no 
promise occurreth to mind. As in outward things, many that have 
less live better than those that have abundance ; so here. Now scrip 
ture is so large, we are less diligent, and therefore, though we have so 
many promises, we are apt to faint, we have not a word to bear us up. 

3. This word did not help him till he had lain long under this heavy 
condition, so that he seemed dead. Many when they have a promise, 
think presently to enjoy the comfort of it. No ; there is waiting and 
striving first necessary. We never relish the comfort of the promises 
till the creatures have spent their allowance, and we have been exer 
cised. God will keep his word, and yet we must expect to be tried. 

4. In this his dead condition, faith in God's word kept him alive. 
When we have lost feeling, and there is nothing left us, the word will 
support us : Kom. iv. 19, 20, * And being not weak in faith, he con 
sidered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred 
years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb ; he staggered 
not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, 
giving glory to God.' 

5. One good way to get comfort is to plead the promise to God in 
prayer. Chirographa tua injiciebat tibi, Domine. Show him his 
handwriting ; God is tender of his word. These arguings in prayer 
are not to work upon God, but ourselves. 

Use. Well, then, let us thus deal with God, looking to him in the sense 
of our own weakness, praying often to God for quickening, as David 
doth in the text. God keepeth grace in his own hands, and dispenseth 



it at his pleasure, that he may often hear from us, and that we may 
renew our dependence upon him. It is pleasing to him when we de 
sire him to renew his work, and bring forth the actings of grace in 
their vigour and lustre. And let us acknowledge divine grace if there 
be strong actings of faith and love towards God. He is to be owned 
in his work. 


/ have declared my ways, and thou Jieardest me ; teach me thy 
statutes. VER. 26. 

IN this verse you have three things : 

1. David's open and free dealing with God, / have declared my ways. 

2. God's gracious dealing with David, and thou heardest me. 

3. A petition for continuance of the like favour teach me thv 

First, For the first, ' I have declared my ways ; ' that is, distinctly 
and without hypocrisy laid open the state of my heart and course of 
my affairs to thee, note 

Doct. They that would speed with God should learn this point of 
Christian ingenuity, unfeignedly to lay open their whole case to him ; 
that is, to declare what they are about, the nature of their affairs, 
the^ state of their hearts, what of good or evil they find in themselves, 
their conflicts, supplies, distresses, hopes ; that is declaring our ways ; 
the good and evil we are conscious to. As a sick patient will tell the 
physician how it is with him, so should we deal with God if we would 
find mercy. This declaring his ways may be looked upon 

1. As an act of faith and dependence. 

2. As an act of holy friendship. 

3. As an act of spiritual contrition and brokenness of heart ; for 
this declaring must be explained according to the sense of the object 
of what David means by this expression, ' My ways.' 

First, His businesses or undertakings; I have still made them 
known to thee, committing them to the direction of thy providence; 
and so it is an act of faith and dependence, consulting with God, and 
acquainting him with all our desires. This is necessary 

1. That we may acknowledge the sovereignty of his providence and 
dominion over all events : Prov. xvi. 9, ' A man's heart deviseth his 
way, but the Lord directeth his steps.' Man proposeth, but God dis- 
poseth, and carrieth on the event either further than we intended, or 
else contrary to what we intended. 

2. We must declare our ways to God that we may take God along 
with us in all our actions, that we may ask his leave, counsel, bless 
ing : Prov. iii. 6, ' In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall 
direct thy paths.' There is a twofold direction, one of God's provi 
dence^ the other of his counsel. The direction of his providence, 
that is understood: Prov. xvi. 9, 'A man's heart deviseth his 
way, but the Lord directeth his steps.' But then there is the direc- 


tion of his counsel, and the latter is promised here ; if we acknowledge 
God and declare our ways to him, God will counsel us. And David 
did thus declare his way upon all occasions : 2 Sam. ii. 1, ' David 
inquired of the Lord, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of 
Judah ? ' It is a piece of religious manners to begin every business 
with God ; to go to God, Lord, shall I do so, or shall I not ? to desire 
him that is Lord of all to give us leave ; who is the fountain of wisdom, 
to give us counsel ; and the disposer of all events, to give us a blessing. 

3. The declaring of our ways is necessary, that we may be sensible 
of God's eye that is upon us, and so act the more sincerely. Certainly 
it is a great advantage to make God conscious to every business we 
have in hand, when we dare undertake nothing but what we would 
acquaint him withal. There are some to whom the prophet pro- 
nounceth a woe : Isa. xxix. 15, ' Woe unto them that seek deep to 
hide their counsel from the Lord, and their works are in the dark, and 
they say, Who seeth us ? and who knoweth us ? ' For the opening of 
this place, surely none can seriously be so vain, and grow up to such 
sottish atheism, as to think to hide a thing from God ; but they are 
loath solemnly to draw it forth in the view of conscience, to revive a 
sense of God's omuisciency upon themselves. We are said to deny 
that which many times we forget and will not think of. So that those 
which hide their counsels from God are those that will not take God 
along with them. In short, this declaration is not necessary for God, 
who ' knows our thoughts afar off/ Ps. cxxxix. 2 ; not only our words 
and works, but purposes, before we begin to lift up a thought that 
way. But this declaration is necessary for us, to increase the awe of 
God upon our heart, and that we may undertake nothing but what we 
will solemnly acquaint the Lord with. Well, then, this declaring our 
ways is an act of dependence. 

Secondly, By his ways may be meant all his straits, sorrows, and 
dangers ; and .so this declaring it is an act of holy friendship, when 
a man comes as one friend to another, and acquaints God with his 
whole state, lays his condition before the Lord, in hope of pity and 
relief. We have liberty to do so, to tell God all our mind : Heb. x. 
19, ' Let us come with boldness, by the blood of Jesus ;' and Heb. iv. 
16. The word signifies, with liberty of speech, speaking all to God, 
your whole state and condition ; if you have any sins to be pardoned, 
any miseries to be redressed ; that where you are doubtful, you may 
be helped by God's counsel, where you are weak, you may be con 
firmed by his strength, where you are sinful, you may be pitied 
by his mercy, where you are miserable, you may be delivered 
by his power. This is holy friendship, to acquaint God with our 
doubts, wants, griefs, and fears ; and we may do it with more confi 
dence, because we go to him in Christ's name : John xvi. 23, * What* 
soever you shall ask the Father in my name, it shall be granted unto 
you.' It is no fiction or strain, but a real truth. Will Christ de 
ceive us when he saith, Verily? And then ivhatsoever you ask ? You 
have liberty to go to God for the removal of any fear, the granting 
any regular desire, or for satisfying any doubt : ' Whatsoever you ask 
the Father in my name/ Our prayers by this means are Christ's re 
quest as well as ours. For instance, if you send a child or servant to 

VER. 26.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 245 

a friend for anything in your name, the request is yours, and he that 
denies a child or servant denies you; so saith Christ, Go to the Father 
in my name. God cannot deny a request in Christ's name, no more than 
he can deny Christ himself ; therefore you may use a holy boldness. 

Thirdly, By ways is meant temptations and sins ; and so this declaring 
is an act of spiritual contrition or brokenness of heart. Sins, they are 
properly our ways ; as Ezek. xviii. 25, the Lord makes a distinction 
between my ivays and your ways. God hath his ways, and we ours. 
Our ways are properly our sins. Now these, saith David, I will de 
clare, that is, distinctly lay them open before God. This is a part 
of our duty, with brokenness of heart to declare our ways, to acquaint 
God fully how it is with us, without dissembling anything. It is a 
duty very unpleasing to flesh and blood ; natural pride and self-love 
will not let us take shame upon ourselves ; and out of carnal ease and 
laziness we are loath to submit to such a troublesome course, and 
thus openly to declare our ways. Guilt is shy of God's presence, and 
sin works a strangeness. Adam hid himself when God came into the 
garden ; and when he could shift no longer, he will not declare it, but 
transfers the fault upon Eve, and obliquely upon God himself ; and 
ever since there are many tergiversations in man's heart ; and there 
fore it is said, Job xxxi. 33, * If I have covered my sin as did Adam.' 
Junius renders it more hominum after the manner of men; but Adam's 
name is used because we show ourselves to be right Adam's race, apt 
to cover our sins. The same expression we have Hosea vi. 7, ' But 
they like men have transgressed the covenant.' In the Hebrew it is, 
like Adam ; so, if I covered my sin as did Adam, this is the fashion 
of men. Now, David brought his heart to this resolution with much 
struggling: Ps. xxxii. 5, 'I said, I will confess my sins ;' he forced 
himself, and thrust his backward heart forward by a strong resolution ; 
for we are loath to deal thus openly, plainly, and truly with God, being 
shy of his presence, and would fain keep the devil's counsel, and come 
with our iniquity in our bosom. But though this is a troublesome dis 
pleasing exercise to flesh and blood, yet it is profitable and necessary 
for us thus to declare our ways. 

1. Because it is made to be one of the conditions of pardon, 
and the act of repentance that is necessary to the pardon of sin : 
Prov. xxviii. 13, ' He that hideth his sins shall not prosper ; but he 
that confesseth and forsakes them, shall find mercy;' so it runs. And 
1 John i. 9, ' If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive 
us our sins.' God's justice is satisfied by Christ, but it must be 
glorified and owned by us. So Jer. iii. 13, ' I am merciful, saith the 
Lord : only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed 
against the Lord thy God.' God hath mercy enough to pardon all, 
only he will have it sued out his own way, he will have his mercy 
asked upon our knees ; and have the creature stoop and submit. And 
David, Ps. li. 3, ' I acknowledge my transgression.' 

2. It is the only means to have our peace settled. If you would 
not have your trouble and anxious thoughts continued upon you, go 
open yourselves to God, declare your ways : Ps. xxxii. 5, ' I said, I 
will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and thou forgavest the 
iniquity of my sin.' As soon as David did but take up a resolution, 


presently he felt the comfort of it. If David had confessed sooner, he 
had come to his ease sooner. Distress of conscience is continued upon 
us until this be done ; and especially is this found by experience, when 
great trouble comes upon us by reason of sin. There is some sin at 
the bottom God will bring out ; and until they come to clearness and 
openness with God, the Lord still continues the trouble ; they are 
kept roaring, and do not come to their peace, Job xxxiii. 26, 27. 
When a man is under trouble, and the sense of sin doth not fasten on 
the heart, he is not prepared for deliverance ; but when it comes to 
this, ' I have sinned, and it profits me not/ then God sends * an in 
terpreter, one among a thousand, to show unto man his uprightness.' 

3. It prevents Satan's accusations and God's judgments. It is no 
profit to cover our sins, for either Satan will declare them, or God find 
us out, and enter into judgment with us. It prevents Satan as an 
accuser and God as a judge. 

[1.] It prevents Satan as an accuser. Let us not tarry till our ad 
versary accuse. There is one that will accuse you if you do not accuse 
yourselves. He that is a tempter is also an accuser of the brethren. 
Now confession puts Satan out of office. When we have sued out our 
pardon, Satan is not an accuser so much as a slanderer : Rom. 
viii. 33, ' Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect ?' The 
informer comes too late when the guilty person hath accused himself, 
and sued out his pardon. And 

[2.] It prevents God as a judge. It is all known to God : Ps. Ixix. 
5, ' God ! thou knowest my foolishness, and my sins are not hid 
from thee.' It is a folly to conceal that which cannot be hid. God 
knows them. How ? God may be said to know things two ways 
either simply with respect to the perfection of his nature, and so he 
knows all things ; or by virtue of his office, and so God knows things 
judicially as judge of the world ; he takes knowledge of it so as to 
punish it, unless you confess it. But in this kind of knowledge he 
loves to be prevented ; he will not know it as a judge if we confess it, 
when there is process against sin in our own consciences : 1 Cor. xi. 
31, ' If we judge ourselves we shall not be judged.' When we accuse 
and judge ourselves, then God's work is prevented. God is contented 
if we will accuse, arraign, judge, and condemn ourselves ; then he will 
not take knowledge of our sins as a judge. The end of God's judging 
is execution and punishment, but the end of our judging is that we 
may obtain pardon. Now, consider whether you will stand at the bar 
of Christ, not as a Saviour, but as a judge; or will judge yourselves 
in your own heart ? Better sit as judge upon your own heart than 
God should sit as judge upon you ; therefore deal plainly and openly 
with him. 

Thus I have explained what it is to declare our ways ; it is an act 
of dependence to take God's leave, blessing, counsel along with us ; 
an act of friendship, as to lay open our case to God ; and an act of 
brokenness of heart, as declaring our sins and temptations. 

For the reasons why, if we would speed with God, we should un- 
feignedly lay open our case before him. 

1. It argueth sincerity. A hypocrite will pray, but will not thus 
sincerely open his heart to God : Ps. xxxii. 1 ' Blessed is he in whose 

TEE. 26.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 247 

spirit there is no guile.' No guile ; it hath a limited sense with 
respect to the matter of confession, that doth not deal deceitfully 
with God, but plainly and openly declares his case. Many ways men 
may be guilty of guile of spirit in confession of sin ; either when they 
content themselves with general or slight acknowledgments ; as thus, 
We are all sinners ; but they do not declare their ways. Generals are 
but notions ; and as particular persons are lost in a crowd, so sins lie 
hid in common acknowledgments. Or else men take up the empty 
forms of others. You shall see in Numbers xix. the waters of purifica 
tion wherewith a man had been cleansed, if another touched them, he 
became unclean. Confessions are like those waters whereby one hath 
cleansed himself. Now to take up others' confessions, and the forms 
of others, without the same affection, feeling, and brokenness of heart, 
doth but defile us the more, when the heart doth not prescribe to the 
tongue but the tongue to the heart. Or else men make some acknow 
ledgments to God, but do not uncover their privy sore ; they are loath 
to draw forth the state of their hearts into the notice and view of 
conscience. This guile of spirit may be sometimes in God's children. 
Moses had a privy sore which he was loath to disclose ; and therefore 
when God would have sent him into Egypt, he pleads other things, 
insufficiency, want of elocution, that he was a stammerer, that he had 
not utterance. Ay ! but his carnal fear was the main ; therefore see 
how God touches his privy sore : Exod. iv. 19, ' Arise, Moses ; go into 
Egypt : the men that sought thy life are dead.' Why, Moses never 
pleaded that ; he mentions other things that were true, that he was a 
man of slow speech, and his brother Aaron was fitter ; but he never 
pleads carnal fear : but the Lord knew what was at the bottom. So 
it is with Christians ; many times we will confess this and that which 
is a truth, and we may humble ourselves for it. Ay ! but there is a 
privy sore yet kept secret. Therefore this open dealing with God is 
very necessary to lay open before God whatever we know of our state 
and way, for then God will be nigh to us. Out of self-love men spare 
themselves, and will not judge and condemn themselves ; therefore 
they deny, excuse, extenuate, or hypocritically confess, Oh, I am a 
sinner ! and the like, but do not come openly. 

2. It argueth somewhat of the spirit of adoption to put in the bill 
of our complaint to our heavenly father, to draw up an indictment 
against ourselves. To judge, that is irksome ; but to put in a bill of 
complaint to a friend, or father, that savours of more ingenuity. To 
tell God all our mind notes freedom and familiarity ; not such as is 
bold, rude, nor a dress of words ; but such as is grave, serious, pro 
ceeding from an inward sense of God, and hope of his mercy : 1 John 
iii. 21, 'If our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence towards 
-God ; ' then we can deal with him as one friend with another, and 
acquaint him with all our griefs and wants. A man had need walk 
exactly that would maintain his freedom with God. There is a 
freedom, as men may call it, such as is bold, rude, and reckless, in 
words only ; but that which proceeds from confidence in God and his 
mercy, that is a fruit of close walking ; we cannot have it in our hearts 
without it. 

3. It is the way to make us serious and affected with our condition. 


When we open our whole heart to God, then we shall be more 
earnest for a remedy ; we content ourselves with some transient glances, 
and imperfect knowledge of our estate, and so are not affected as we 
should; a particular view of things most works with us. Look, as 
Christ, the more particularly he is set forth, the more taking is the 
object; when the lump of sweetness is dissolved, then it is tasted. 
The more particularly we pry into our estate, the more we are affected, 
and the more we shall see of the deceitfulness of our own hearts : 
' When every one shall know his own sore and grief,' 2 Chron. vi. 29. 

4. It will be of great advantage in the spiritual life to declare often 
our whole estate to God ; for the more men know themselves the more 
they mind God and their heavenly calling. Those men that make 
conscience of declaring themselves to God will ever find lusts to be 
mortified, doubts to be resolved, graces to be strengthened. A man 
that doth not look after his estate, it runs into decay insensibly before 
he is aware ; so when men grow negligent of their hearts, and never 
think of giving an account to God, all runs to waste in -the soul. 
Searching and self-examining Christians will be the most serious 
Christians; for as they have a more distinct affective sense of their 
condition, so they always find more work to do in the spiritual life. 
They come to know what are their sins, and assaults, and conflicts, 
and what further strength they may have in the way of holiness ; and 
by this account they are engaged to walk more exactly, that they may 
not provide matter against themselves : 1 Peter iii. 7, ' That their 
prayers be not hindered ; ' that they may look God in the face with 
more confidence. 

Use IL. Let us clearly and openly declare our condition to the 
Lord, our griefs and sorrows, and so our sins. 

1. Our griefs and sorrows. Two things will quicken you to 
this : The inconvenience of any other way. What will you do ? If 
you swallow your griefs, that will oppress the heart. The more we 
unbosom ourselves to a friend, the more we find ease ; vent and 
utterance doth lessen our passion. An oven stopped up is hotter within. 
So the more close we are, the more we keep our own counsel, the 
greater is our burden. Look, as wind when it is imprisoned in the 
caverns of the earth causeth violent convulsions and earthquakes, but 
if it find vent all is quiet, so it is with the heart ; when troubles are 
kept close, then they become the greater burden, they make the heart 
stormy, full of discontent ; but when we open ourselves, as Hannah 
did her case to God, 1 Sam. i. 8, we are no more sad ; or if we go to 
anything on this side God, our troubles increase. When a man hath 
sorrow upon his heart, it is not the next ditch will yield him refreshing 
and comfort, but he must go to the fountain of living water. If we 
be afraid of an enemy without, our business is to strike in with God : 
Prov. xvi. 7, ' When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even 
his enemies to be at peace with him.' God hath the command of all 
things ; he is first to be treated with, then there is hope and relief in 
God. When we are humble and tractable in our affliction, when we 
come and represent our case to him, the very thing gives us some 
hope ; for the Lord doth all out of mercy. Therefore the very repre 
senting our misery, as David: Ps. Ixix. 29, 'But I am poor and 


sorrowful ; ' that we are in a miserable forlorn condition ; if you have 
nothing else to plead, this is that which moves God, and works upon 
his bowels. Look, as beggars to move pity will uncover their sore, 
that as it were by a silent oratory they may extort and draw forth 
relief from you ; so go to the Lord and acquaint him with your condi 
tion ; some hope will arise hence. Lord, I am weak and poor, deliver 
me ; that is all the argument. 

2. As to sins, let me tell you, go to God with clearness and open 
ness ; reveal your whole state, tell him what are your temptations and 
conflicts, and how your heart works. Though he knows it already by 
his own omnisciency, yet let him know it by your own acknowledg 
ments. Let him not know it as a judge, take notice of it so as to 
punish you ; but go deal plainly, and confess your sins. To this end 

[1.] There will be need of light, that you may be able to judge of 
things : Heb. v. 14, ' They have their senses exercised to discern both 
good and evil.' When a man hath not only a speculative knowledge, 
but hath his senses exercised, able to judge of the workings of his own 
heart, he can discern what is of flesh and what is of spirit, and so can 
give an account to God. When we have not only some naked theory, 
we shall be able to see what is a temptation, where our help, and 
where our weakness lies. 

[2.] There needs observation of the workings of our own hearts. 
A man that would give an account to God need to observe himself 
narrowly, and keep his heart above all keepings. David, that saith 
here, I declared my ways, saith elsewhere, I considered my ways. It 
is but a formal account we can give without serious consideration ; we 
must therefore * keep our hearts with all diligence/ Prov. iv. 23. 

[3.] There needs in many cases a serious search. For instance, in. 
deep desertion, when God withdraws the light of his countenance, and 
men have not those wonted influences of grace, those glimpses of 
favour, and quickenings of spirit, and enlargings of heart : Ps. Ixxvii. 6, 
' I call to remembrance my song in the night : I commune with mine 
own heart, and my spirit made diligent search/ When under any 
despair of soul, trace it to its original cause : Wherein have I grieved 
the Spirit of God ? So Lam. iii. 40, ' Let us search and try our ways/ 
There needs a very distinct and serious inquiry into the state of our 
souls, that we may deal ingenuously with God, and lay open ourselves 
before him. 

Secondly, The second clause, and the Lord heard me. 

Doct. After an ingenuous and open declaration of ourselves to God, 
we find audience with him. 

So did David, and so do all the saints. He was never yet wanting 
to his people that deals sincerely with him in prayer. How doth God 
manifest his audience ? Either inwardly by the Spirit, or outwardly by 

First, Inwardly by his Spirit, when he begets a persuasion of their 
acceptance with God, leaves an impression of confidence upon their 
hearts, and a quietness in looking for the thing they had asked. 
Before they have an answer of providence, they have a persuasion of 
heart that their prayer hath been accepted. There is a great deal of 
difference between accepting a prayer and granting a prayer. God's 


acceptance is as soon as we pray, but the thing we beg for is another 
thing and distinct : 1 John v. 14, 15, ' This is the confidence that we 
have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth 
us ; and if we know that he hear us whatsoever we ask, we know that 
we have the petitions that we desired of him.' God's hearing of us, 
his audience, is a distinct thing from the answer of his providence ; 
and therefore when he begets a confidence that we are heard, and the 
soul begins to be quieted in God and look up for mercy, it is a sign of 
his accepting our prayer, though the benefit be not actually bestowed. 
David found a change in his heart many times, as if one 'had come and 
told him the posture of his affairs was altered. It is otherwise with 
you than it was when you began to pray ; therefore you have him in 
the beginning of a psalm come in with bitter complaints and groaning ; 
his eyes were ready to drop out with grief, and presently he breaks 
out with thanksgiving, as Ps. vi. 8, 9, * Mine eye is consumed because 
of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies/ Presently, 
' Depart from me all ye workers of iniquity, for the Lord hath heard 
the voice of my weeping.' So Hannah, she had commended her 
request to God, and was no more sad, 1 Sam. i. 16. That is one way 
of answer ; when we have declared ourselves to the Lord, the heart 
looks out to see what will come of its prayers ; it begins to rest, and is 
quiet in God, and looks for some answer of the mercy. 

The second consideration, that the outward mercy in his providence 
is either in kind or in value. God doth not always answer us in kind, 
by giving us the thing asked ; but doth give us something that is as 
good or better, which contents the heart, by denying the thing desired, 
and giving something equivalent. Many times we ask temporal 
mercies, defence, victory, deliverance, and God gives spiritual ; we ask 
deliverance and God gives patience, 2 Cor. xii. 8, 9. Paul asked 
thrice that the thorn in the flesh might depart from him ; but God 
gives him sufficient grace. God doth not answer us always according 
to our will, but certainly according to our weal and profit. Many 
times he will give the blessing in kind, but at other times he gives 
the value of it, which is better. God may give temporal comfort in 
kind, in anger ; but the value, the blessing, he never gives in anger, 
but always in love. When they asked meat for their lusts, God gave 
it in kind, in anger, Ps. Ixxviii. : ' And I gave them a king in my 
wrath,' Hosea xiii. 11. When we are passionate and eager upon a 
temporal request, God doth answer in wrath ; the mercy is more when 
he gives us that which is better. 

Thirdly, God delays many times when he doth not deny, for our 

1. To exercise our faith, to see if we can believe in him when we 
see nothing, have no sensible proof of his good-will to us. The woman 
of Canaan she comes to Christ, and first gets not a word from him 
Christ 'answered her nothing ;' afterwards Christ breaks off his 
silence, and begins to speak, and his speech was more discouraging 
than his silence. She meets with a rough answer : ' It is not meet 
to give the children's bread unto dogs/ Then the woman turns this 
rebuke into an encouragement, * Lord, the dogs eat the crumbs which 
fall from their master's table/ Then Christ could hold no longer : 

YER. 26.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 251 

* woman ! great is thy faith ; be it unto thee even as thou wilt,' 
Mat. xv. So many times we come to God -and meet with a silent 
oracle, cannot get an answer ; but if we get an answer, it may be we 
begin to think God puts us off, as none of the sheep he is to look after. 
Oh ! but when we wrestle through all these discouragements and 
temptations, then 'great is thy faith.' In short, we pray for a 
blessing ; and sometimes, though God love the suppliant, yet he doth 
not seem to take notice of his desires, that he may humble him to the 
dust, and may have a sense of his unworthiness, and pick an answer 
out of God's silence, and grant out of his denial, and faith out of these 

2. To exercise our patience : Heb. vi. 12, ' Be followers of them 
who through faith and patience inherit the promises/ Our times are 
always present with us, but God's time is not yet come. A hungry 
stomach would have meat before it is roasted or sod. Impatient 
longings must have green fruit, and will not stay till it be matured 
and ripened. Now God will work us out of this impatience. The 
troubles of the world are necessary for patience as well as faith. 

3. To try our love. Though we be not feasted with felt comforts 
and present benefits, yet God will try the deportment of his children, 
if indeed he be the delight of their hearts : Isa. xxvi. 8, * Yea, in the 
way of thy judgments, Lord, have we waited for thee/ When we 
love God, not only when our affections are bribed by some sensible 
experience or comfort, but when we can love God in the way of his 
judgments. A child of God is a strange creature ; he can love God 
for his judgments, and fear him for his mercies. When our heart is 
like lime, the more water you sprinkle upon it, the more it burns ; 
our desires glow the more, the more disappointments we seem to meet 
with. We love his benefits more than we love God, when we delight 
in him only when he doth us good. But when we can delight in him 
even when our desires are delayed, and nothing appears but tokens of 
God's displeasure, this is delight indeed. 

4. To enlarge our desires, that we may have a greater income of 
his mercy, as a sack that is stretched out holds the more. God will 
have the soul more stretched out when he means to fill it up with 
grace. Delays increase importunities : c Ask, seek, knock,' Mat. vii. 
If God will not come at the first asking, we must seek ; if seeking 
will not bring him, we must knock, be importunate, have no Nay : 
Luke xi. 8, ' For his importunity sake he will arise/ The man is 
impudent ; he stands knocking, and will not be gone. 

Fourthly, God may seem sometimes to deny a request, yet the end 
of the request is accomplished. For instance, God's children they 
have an end in their requests ; we pray for the means with respect to 
.an end. Now many times God gives the end when he will deny the 
means. Paul had grace sufficient, though the thorn in his flesh were 
not removed, 2 Cor. xii. 9. A Christian prays for the light of God's 
countenance, for sensible feeling of God's love. Why ? To strengthen 
him in his way. Now God denies him comfort, because he will 
do it by the word of promise, it shall not be by sensible comfort. We 
pray for victory over such a lust, the mortification of such a sin. 
Why ? That we may serve God more cheerfully. God denies such 


a degree of grace, because he will mortify a greater sin, which is pride 
in the heart. And thus we miss the particular that we desire, yet 
still we have the end of the request. We pray for giving success to 
such an enterprise. Why? That we may serve God safely. God 
will bring it about another way. 

Fifthly, If God do not give us the blessings themselves we ask, yet 
he gives us many experiences by the by in the manner of asking ; one 
way or other something comes into the soul by praying to God ; as 
those in Ps. Ixxxiv., their end was to go to Jerusalem, but in passing 
through the valley of Baca, they met with a well by the way. So 
we meet with something by the way, some light, or some sweet refresh 
ing, some new consideration to set us a- work in the spiritual life. By 
praying to God, unawares, unthought of by you, there are many 
principles of faith drawn forth in the view of conscience not noted 
before, some truth or other presented to the heart, or some spiritual 
benefit that comes in with fresh light and power, that was never 
aimed at by us. 

Use 1. If God be so ready to hear his people, let us not throw away 
our prayers as children shoot away their arrows; but let us observe 
God's answer, what comes in upon every prayer. In every address- 
you make to God, put the soul in a posture of expectation : Ps. v. 3, 
' I will pray and look up ; ' and Ps. Ixxxv. 8, ' I will hear what God 
the Lord will speak ; for he will speak peace unto his people.' See what 
God speaks when you have been praying and calling upon him. It 
argues a slight formal spirit when you do not observe what comes in 
upon your addresses. To quicken you to this, know 

1. If you observe not his answer, God loseth a great deal of honour 
and praise ; for it is said, Ps. 1. 15, ' Call upon me in time of trouble, 
and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me/ Every answer of 
prayer makes for the glory of God ; and Col. iv. 2, ' Continue in 
prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.' You are not only 
to see how your hearts are carried out in prayer, but watch for God's 
answer, that you may gather matter of praise. We should not be so 
barren in gratulation as usually we are, if we were as ready to observe 
our experiences as to lay forth our necessities. 

2. You lose many an argument of trust and confidence. Answers 
of prayer are an argument against atheism, which is so natural to us,, 
and inbred in our hearts ; it persuades us that there is a gracious 
being : Ps. Ixv. 2, ' thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all 
flesh come.' We have called upon him, and found that there is a 
God, and against the natural unbelief which doubts of his truth in 
his promises : Ps. xviii. 30, ' The word of the Lord is a tried word ; 
he is a buckler to all those that trust in him/ Well, saith the soul, I 
will build upon it another time; there is more than letters and 
syllables in it; there is something that speaks God's heart. So- 
Ps. cxvi. 2, ' The Lord hath heard my voice and my supplications : 
because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon 
him as long as I live.' Promises shall not lie by as a dead stock ; I 
will be pleading them. 

3. It increaseth our love to God. When we see how mindful he is 
of us, and kind to us in our necessities, it is a very taking thing. 

26.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 253 

Visits maintain friendship ; so when God is mindful of us, it maintains 
an intercourse between God and us: Ps. cxvi. 1, 'I love the Lord, 
because he hath heard my supplications/ Therefore observe what 
comes in upon your prayers, especially when your hearts are earnestly 
carried out by the impulses of his grace. 

Use 2. To admire the goodness of God to poor creatures, that he 
should be at leisure to attend our requests : ' I declared my ways, and 
he heard me. 5 When a poor soul, that is of no regard among men, 
shall come with conflicts and temptations, and the Lord presently 
hear him, it renders his grace truly admirable : Ps. xxxiv. 6, ' This 
poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his 
troubles.' He doth not say, this eminent prophet or this great king, 
but this poor man. Oh, that such contemptible persons as we should 
have such audience 1 For great ones here in the world to let a poor 
man tell his tale at large, that would be counted great patience, much 
more if he finds relief in the case. But beyond all this, observe the 
goodness of God. The more we declare our ways, the sooner doth 
he hear us ; he doth not turn away from us when we tell him plainly 
we cannot believe in him, or trust in him. Come to a man and tell 
him, You have made me great promises, but I cannot believe you 
speak truth this will provoke him ; but when you come to the Lord 
and say, Lord, thou hast made a great many promises ; though we 
cannot trust as we should, yet we have declared our sins, conflicts, 
temptations, yet, Lord, pity our weakness. 

Thirdly, Here is his petition, c Teach me thy statutes/ 

First, I observe, David having been once heard of God expects to 
loe heard in the like manner again. Here, ' Thou hast heard me ; ' 
-and then comes with a new request, ' Teach me thy statutes/ 

Doct. 1. Those that have sped with God in one address, they 
will be dealing with God for more mercy ; for so doth David. The 
reason is 

1. Because God is where he was at first ; he is not weary by giving, 
nor doth waste by giving; but what he hath done that he can do, 
and will do still. 1 AM is God's name ; not I was, or will be ; for 
ever remaining in the same constant tenor of goodness and power. 
His providence is still new and fresh every morning. God is but one, 
always like himself. He hath not so spent himself but he can work 
again. Creatures have soon spent their allowance, but God cannot be 
exhausted. There is no decay of love or power in him, no wrinkle 
in the brow of eternity. There was, is, and will be a God. 

2. Experience breeds confidence. The apostle teacheth us so, Rom. 
v. 4. When we have had former experience of God's readiness to hear 
us, it is an argument that breeds confidence of the like audience for 
the future. * He that delivered me out of the mouth of the lion,' &c. 
God, that hath been gracious, surely will be gracious still, for then 
promises are sensibly confirmed, and then former mercies are pledges 
of future. By giving, God becomes a debtor : Mat. vi. 25, 'Is not 
life more than meat, and the body than raiment ? ' Our Saviour's 
argument was this, If God give life, he will give food ; if a body, he 
will give raiment. If he hath given grace, the earnest of the Spirit, 
tie will give glory. If he hath given us Christ, he will give us other 


things together with him. If he hath begun with us, he will end with 
us, Phil. i. 6. One mercy is the pledge of another. 

3. We are endeared to God not only by acts of duty, but by every 
act of mercy. What is the argument he urgeth for Sion : Zech. iii. 2, 
' Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire ? The Lord rebuke thee, 
Satan.' Have not I delivered Sion, and shall I suffer that to be de 
stroyed which I have delivered ? The Lord urgeth his own mercy 
and his former kindness. 

Use. To quicken us not to grow weary of dealing with God. Let 
us go often to God. Men think it an uncivil importunity to be re 
quired to do more when they have done already ; Solomon gives us 
that advice, Prov. xxv. 17, * Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour's 
house, lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.' Men waste by 
giving, but God doth not ; when you have been with him, and he hath 
done liberally for you, yet he upbraids you not. God, that hath 
vouchsafed grace, you may desire the continuance of his grace, and to 
crown his own grace. 

Secondly, Observe, the mercy which he asks is God's help in a course 
of holiness, namely, to walk worthy of the mercy. 

Doct. 2. They that upon declaring their ways have found mercy 
with God, their care should be to walk worthy of the mercy. 

The Lord hath heard me. What then ? ' Teach me thy statutes/ 
So Ps. Ixxxv. 8, ' The Lord will speak peace to his people, but let them 
no more return unto folly/ 'Mark, when God hath spoken peace, 
when they have an answer of peace, after you have prayed to God, 
take heed of turning to folly ; do not lose the favour you have got ; 
walk more holily and more worthy of such a mercy : Mat. vi. 12, 
' Forgive us our sins.' What then ? ' Lead us not into temptation/ 
Upon supposition the Lord hath forgiven us our sins, oh ! let us not 
sin again. Many would invite God to favour their ways when they 
have no respect to his ways, which is in effect to make God a servant 
to our lust ; but if you would have mercy from the Lord, beg that you 
might walk worthy of the mercy. The children of God should do so 
upon a double ground in point of prudence and thankfulness. la 
point of prudence, as they have smarted under their former folly ; and 
in point of thankfulness, as they have tasted the Lord's grace in his 

1. When you have declared your way with brokenness and bitter 
ness of heart, you have experience of the evil of sin ; and when you 
know how bitter it is by sound remorse, it is folly to return to it again : 
Josh. xxii. 17, mark the reason, ' Is the iniquity of Peor too little for 
us, from which we are not cleansed unto this day?' Our former sense 
of the evil of sin when declaring it should be a restraint to us, else 
your cure is in vain. A man that is recovered out of a deep disease 
is willing to escape the like again ; or, as Christ said to the man that 
had an infirmity thirty-eight years, * Go thy way, sin no more, lest a 
worse thing happen unto thee/ When a man hath had the bitter 
sense of the fruit of sin, this will make him more cautious for the 
future. They are foolish children that remember beating no longer 
than it smarts, when they are scarce yet whole of the old wound. 
Though God hath taken out the sting of the sin, and granted us com- 

VEK. 27.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 255 

fort, yet remember your former smart, that you may not fall into it 

2. Out of thankfulness for God's gracious answer. Every answer of 
grace leaves an obligation upon the sinner that he may not offend God 
again. See what a holy argument is used, Ezra ix. 13, 'Should we 
after such a deliverance as this break thy commandment ? ' Will you 
again relapse ? So Luke vii. 47, * For her sins are forgiven her, 
therefore she loved much/ Grace melts the heart. When a man 
hath received much mercy from God, his heart is wrought out into 
thankfulness ; and the more they have been in sin, the more will they 
be in godliness when once they have tasted the sweetness of pardon, and 
had an answer of grace from God. 

Thirdly, Note, they that would steer their course according to 
God's holy will had need of the conduct and assistance of his Holy 
Spirit ; for he goes to God, * Lord, teach me thy statutes/ Ps. xxv. 4 ; 
1 Show me thy ways, Lord, teach me thy paths ;' and Ps. xxvii. 11, 
' Teach me thy way, Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of 
mine enemies ;' and Ps. Ixxxvi. 11, 'Teach me thy way, Lord, I 
will walk in thy truth : unite my heart to fear thy name.' These 
places show that he addressed himself to God that he might not follow 
any sinful course in the time of trouble and temptation, that he might 
not dishonour God. 


Make me to understand the luay of thy precepts : so shall I talk 
of thy wondrous works. VER. 27. 

IN the former verses the man of God layeth forth his calamitous condi 
tion, and beggeth comfort and audience, not merely to prosper his 
affairs, but to better his heart. Many will invite God to favour their 
ways when they have no respect to his ways, which in effect is to 
make him a servant to their lusts. But David's chiefest care was 
about duty rather than success ; therefore he desireth God to direct 
him how to walk in the way of his precepts ; his heart was much 
upon that. 

In the close of the former verse he had said, ' Teach me thy sta 
tutes ; ' and here again, ' Make me to understand the way of thy 
precepts,' &c. 

In the words there is (1.) A request; (2.) An argument. Where 
in is intimated (1st.) The fruit of divine illumination ; he should 
thereby see his wondrous works. (2d.) His duty thereupon; then 
will I talk of them. The word signifieth also to meditate. Sept. I 
will exercise myself. It should be his delight to think and speak of 
the admirable goodness of God, and the divine excellencies of his 
word, and the pleasures that result from the practice of it. (3d.) He 
intimateth the sincerity of his desire, propounding this as his end, 
That I may talk ; that I may be useful and edifying in my converse 
with others. 


The first thing that I shall observe is, that David doth so often beg 
again and again for understanding. 

. Doct. That a sound and saving knowledge of the truths of the 
gospel is such a blessing as the children and people of God think they 
can never enough ask of him. 

We have abundant proof of it in so much of this psalm as we have 
already gone over. 

First, What is a sound saving knowledge ? 

1. Such as doth establish the heart against all delusions, and keep- 
eth us on truth's side. Many have some scraps of knowledge, loose 
and uncertain motions, 1 but they are not settled and grounded in the 
truth, and therefore the unlearned and unstable are joined together : 
2 Peter iii. 16, ' Which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as 
they do also the other scriptures, to their own destruction.' Unskil 
ful and unsettled Christians lie open to every fancy ; they have not 
such a stock of truth as may keep them savoury and sound in the 
faith. To be able to prattle a little in religion is not sound knowledge, 
but we must be * grounded and settled in the faith,' Col. i. 23; that is, 
have not only some floating opinion, but well-grounded persuasion of 
the truth, so as we know we are upon firm ground, and dare ven 
ture our souls upon it, and may build surely and safely upon such 
principles. He calleth it elsewhere, Col. ii. 2, ' The riches of the full 
assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of 
God, and of the Father, and of Christ/ When men rest contented with 
obvious truths, or a slight knowledge of the common and easy prin 
ciples of Christianity, there is not such an awe upon their practice, 
nor any establishment of their judgments, but, like light chaff, they 
are soon carried with the blasts of temptation, and the winds of error. 
And therefore we need to ask again and again, ' Give me an under 
standing of the way of thy precepts.' 

2. A sound saving knowledge is such as causeth the soul to lie under 
the dominion, life, and power of the truth, and aweth and commandeth 
the heart into obedience : John viii. 32, ' Ye shall know the truth, and 
the truth shall make you free;' when our knowledge freeth us from 
the slavery of sin. In others, that content themselves with a naked 
knowledge, truth is held captive, and cannot break out with any 
sovereignty in their conversations: Rom. i. 18, * Holding the truth in 
unrighteousness.' Lust beareth sway, but truth lieth under fetters and 
restraint ; it may talk its fill, like a man in bonds, but it can do nothing. 

3. When it giveth us prudence how to practise. This is that which 
David beggeth of God, to understand the way of his precepts ; that is, 
to be taught how to walk in each duty and point of conversation, after 
what sort he may live and direct his life. It is not sufficient to know 
the meaning of the word in general, to have a notional understanding 
of it ; but to reduce it to practice, where, and when, and how we 
ought to perform each action. Some have a naked model of truth, 
are wise in generals, but fail in the application of the rule, and are to 
seek in the ordering of their steps, and all particular cases : 1 Peter 
iii. 7, * Husbands, dwell with your wives as men of knowledge.' Then 
is a man a man of knowledge when he knoweth how to order the 

1 Qu. 'notions' ? ED. 

YER. 27.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 257 

passages of his life in every relation according to the will of God. 
The narrow way of obedience is hardly found, hardly kept, and easily 
mistaken, especially where prejudices, lusts, and interests, are apt to 
pervert us. Therefore prudence to apply the rule is necessary : Ps. 
cxix. 33, ' Teach me, Lord, the way of thy statutes, that I may keep 
it to the end ;' not only in the general points of faith and godliness, 
but that it may season all our actions, that we may be made partakers 
of the sweet refreshments that flow from it ; such a knowledge as 
endeth in a taste : 1 Peter iii. 2, 3, ' As new-born babes desire the 
sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby, if so be ye have 
tasted,' &c. So Ps. xix. 8, ' The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing 
the heart ;' when we do so approve and follow the Lord's directions 
that we experience the sweetness, and are acquainted with the peace 
and joy in the Holy Ghost ; such an understanding as begets judgment 
and feeling, or maketh us to find power and comfort in the word. 

Secondly, The children of God think this can never be enough asked 
of God. Why? 

1. Because of the excellency of knowledge : ' Light is comfortable, 
and it is a pleasant thing to behold the sun,' much more the light of 
the gospel shining in upon our minds. Oh, what a pleasant thing is 
that, when all clouds vanish, and the truths of God are fully cleared 
up to the soul ! None knoweth the sweetness of it but he that hath 
experienced it: Prov. xxiv. 13, 14, ' My son, eat thou honey because 
it is good, and the honeycomb which is sweet to thy taste ; so shall the 
knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul, when thou hast found it.' The 
more perfect the operation of any faculty of the soul is, the greater the 
contentment. The conscience in the feeling of God's love, the heart 
when it findeth liberty in the ways of God, and the understanding 
upon the sight of the truth, cause all doubts and scruples to vanish. 
Therefore certainly they that know anything of God will be pressing 
to know more of his nature and will ; one degree draweth on another. 
Moses desireth God, ' Tell me thy name,' Exod. iii. 13, 14. Then 
' Show me thy glory,' Exod. xxxiii. 18. ' And he said, I beseech thee 
show me thy glory.' And Hosea vi. 3, ' Then shall we know, if we 
follow on to know the Lord/ They are not cloyed, but desire more. 
The more men know the things of God, the more they admire them ; 
the more they admire them, the more they love them ; and the more 
they love them, the more they desire to know of them. And therefore 
do they insist so much upon this request, ' Make me to understand the 
way of thy precepts/ 

2. Because of the vastness and latitude of it. Knowledge is a grow 
ing thing ; religion cannot be taken up all at once. We receive a 
little now, and a little anon ; as narrow-mouthed vessels take in things 
drop by drop. We read of Jesus Christ, that he grew in knowledge : 
we do not read that he grew in grace : Luke ii. 52, ' He increased in 
wisdom and stature ; ' as his body increased in stature, so his soul in 
wisdom. And still Christians are growing in knowledge, and under 
stand more of the mysteries of the gospel. Though speculative know 
ledge may be at a stand, and a man may see round about the compass 
of revealed truths, yet practical knowledge is never at a stand. Direc 
tive, affective, operative knowledge is never at a stand, but increaseth, 



daily. And therefore the apostle saith, ' He that thinketh he knowetb 
anything, knoweth nothing as he ought to know/ 1 Cor. viii. 2. Many 
think they know as much as can be taught them ; surely they have 
no experience. 

3. Natural blindness is an obstinate disease, and hardly cured ; 
therefore again and again we had need to pray, Open mine eys, teach 
me thy statutes, make me to understand the way of thy precepts. Our 
ignorance is great when it is cured in part. The clouds of temptation 
and carnal affection cause it to return upon us, so that we know not 
what we know. Therefore 'open my eyes, cause me to understand.' 
Yea, the more we know, the more is our ignorance discovered to us : 
Prov. xxx. 2, 3, ' Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have 
not the understanding of a man : I neither learned wisdom, nor have 
the knowledge of the holy ;' Job xlii. 5, c I have heard of thee by the 
hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee.' Alas ! a poor little 
hearsay knowledge availeth not. They abhor themselves when they 
have more intimate acquaintance ; none so confident as a young pro 
fessor that knoweth a few truths, but in a weak and imperfect manner. 
The more we know indeed, the more sensible we are of our ignorance, 
how liable to this mistake and that, that we dare not trust ourselves 
for an hour. 

4. Because of the profit that cometh by knowledge. All grace from 
first to last cometh in by the understanding. God in the work of grace 
followeth the order which he hath established in nature. Keason and 
judgment are to go before the will ; and therefore, when the work of 
grace is first begun in us, it beginneth in the understanding : * Be- 
newed in knowledge/ Col. iii. 10. So the increase of grace : 2 Peter 
i. 12, ' Grace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, 
and of Jesus Christ our Lord/ As the beginning is by light, so is all 
the gradual progress of the spiritual life ; strength to bear afflictions, 
strength in conflicts, is by powerful reasons ; yea, the perfect change 
that is made in us in glory is by the vision of God : ' We shall see 
him as he is, and shall be like him.' If we had more knowledge of 
God and his ways, we should trust him more, fear him more, love him 
more. Trust him, Ps. ix. 10, * And they that know thy name will put 
their trust in thee ; for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek 
thee.' If God were more known he would be better trusted : 2 Tim. 
i. 12, ' I know whom I have believed ;' I dare trust him with my soul. 
More feared : 3 John 11, * Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but 
that which is good. He that doth good is of God, he that doth evil 
hath not seen God.' Eight thoughts of God would not let us sin so 
freely ; one truth or other would fall upon us, and give check to the 
temptation : as feared, so loved more. The more explicit thoughts we 
have of his excellency, the more are our hearts drawn out to him : John 
iv. 10, 'If thou knewest the gift/ &c. Christ would not lie by as a 
neglected thing if he were more known in all his worth and excellency. 

Use. The first use is to press you to get knowledge, and look upon 
it as a singular grace if the Lord will give you to understand and 
apply the comfort and direction of his holy word : John xv. 15, ' Hence 
forth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord 
doth ; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard 

VER. 27.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 259 

of my Father I have made known unto you.' To be taught the mind 
of God is a greater act of friendship than if God should give a man all 
the treasures of the world ; to make himself known so as you may love 
him, fear him, trust him. When we can apply this for our comfort, 
oh ! then, ' cry for knowledge, lift up thy voice for understanding ; seek 
her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures,' Prov. ii. 3, 4. 
Go to God, and be earnest with him, c Lord, make me to understand 
the way of thy precepts.' We can walk in the ways of sin without a 
teacher, but we cannot walk in the ways of God. And cry, lift up thy 
voice. We are earnest for quickening and enlargement ; but be earnest 
also for understanding. Now a large prayer without endeavours is 
nothing worth. Dig in the mines of knowledge, search into the scrip 
ture, do not gather up a few scattered notions, but look into the 
bowels. Silver doth not lie on the surface of the earth, but deep in 
the bottom of it, and will cost much labour and digging to come at. 
If we would have any good stock of knowledge, which will prevent 
vain thoughts, carnal discourse, abundance of heart-perplexing scruples 
and doubts, and much darkness and uncomfortableness of spirit, it will 
cost us some labour and pains. The more knowledge we have, the 
more are we established against error : 2 Peter iii. 17, 'Ye therefore, 
beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also being 
led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfast 
ness.' The more you have of this divine saving knowledge, the greater 
check upon sin : Ps. cxix. 11, ' I have hid thy word in my heart, that 
I might not sin against thee.' One truth or another will rise up in 
defiance of the temptation. The greater the impulsion to duty, the 
more of the law of God, the more it urgeth the conscience, Prov. vi. 22. 
It maketh us more useful in all our relations : Husbands, 1 Peter iii. 7, 
' Dwell with them according to knowledge,' &c. Parents, Eph. vi. 4, 
' Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in 
the nurture and admonition of the Lord/ Friends, Kom. xv. 14, 
' And I myself also am persuaded of you my brethren, that ye also are 
full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one 
another.' Magistrates, that they may discern Christ's interest, Ps. ii. 10, 
'Be wise now, therefore, kings, be instructed, ye judges of the earth/ 
When Solomon asked wisdom, the thing pleased the Lord. And 
lastly, more comfortable in ourselves; that they may comfort and 
build up one another whenever they meet together. 

Use 2. To press you to grow in knowledge. None have such con 
fidence and rejoicing in God as those that have a clear sight and 
understanding of his will revealed in his word. Let your knowledge 
(1.) Be more comprehensive. At first our thoughts run in a narrow 
channel. There are certain general truths absolutely necessary to 
salvation, as concerning our misery by sin, and the sufficiency of Christ 
to help us ; but if we might rest in these, why hath God given us so 
copious a rule ? The general sort of Christians content themselves to 
see with others' eyes, get the knowledge of a few truths, and look no 
further. Why, then, hath God given so large a rule ? Fundamentals 
are few ; believe them, live well, and you shall be saved. This is the 
religion of most. This is as if a man in building should only be careful 
to lay a good foundation, no matter for roof, windows, walls. If a 


man should untile your house, and tell you the foundation standeth, 
the main buttresses are safe, you would not like of it. A man is bound, 
according to his capacity and opportunity, to know all scripture, the 
consequences of every truth. God may and doth accept of our imper 
fect knowledge, but not when men are negligent and do not use the 
means. To be willingly ignorant of the lesser ways of God is a sin. 
We should labour to know all that God hath revealed. (2.) More 
distinct. Why ? Truths are best known in their frame and depend 
ence ; as God's works of creation, when viewed singly and apart, every 
day's work was good, but when viewed altogether in their correspond 
ence and mutual proportion to each other, were very good, Gen. i. 31. 
So all truths of God, take them singly, are good ; but when you have 
them in their frame, and see how one suits with the other, and what a 
sweet harmony there is between all the parts of religion, then they are 
very good. (3.) More experimental, that you may taste the sweetness 
and power of the truths that you know : Phil. iii. 10, c That I may 
know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his 
sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.' When we feel 
what we know, that is a mighty confirmation. The senses give the 
best demonstration. It is a disparagement to know Christ and be 
never the better for him ; to have a knowledge of all the excellency 
of Christ, and how suitable he is to the soul ; yet to feel nothing of 
comfort and quickening in our consciences. (4.) More practical : 1 
John ii. 3, 4, * And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep 
his commandments : he that saith I know him, and keepeth not his 
commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.' Otherwise it 
is but a talking by rote, a man savingly knoweth no more than he 
practiseth. He that doth but speak after others, it is a rehearsal rather 
than a knowledge. What is practical light ? It is directive and per 
suasive. (1st.) It is directive. A man grows more prudent, and more 
able to guide his course according to the rules of religion ; faith is op 
posed not only to ignorance but to folly : ' ye fools, and slow of heart 
to believe/ A man may be a knowing man, yet a very fool in spirituals, 
if he hath not a knowledge how to guide him to trust in God, fear 
God, love God, and serve God, Hosea xiv. 7. (2d.) That is practical 
knowledge when it is persuasive, when it hath a lively force and efficacy 
upon the heart. 

Second point, Those whom God maketh to understand the way of his 
precepts see wondrous things therein. 

Ps. cxix. 18. ' Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous 
things out of thy law.' Wonders are such things as do transcend our 
capacity ; so all things about God are above the sphere of men, as the 
things of men are above the capacity of beasts. Now, the more under 
standing and insight we have in these things the more we wonder. 
Wonder usually is the fruit of ignorance ; how then can knowledge 
breed wonder ? The word discovers the ort, that it is so ; but the 
manner how it is, and the wisdom of the contrivance, is that which 
begets reverence and admiration in a gracious soul ; as Nazianzen saith 
of the eternal generation of Christ, Let the eternal generation of God 
be adored in silence. It is a marvellous thing to know that there are 
three in one, the Son from eternity, begotten before all the world, 

VEK. 27.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 261 

&c. So when we look into these things, our knowledge doth only 
show that they are ; but what they are, and how great they are, that 
exceeds our capacity, and therefore we wonder. 

1. The doctrines of the scripture are wonderful concerning God and 
his works. The nature of God is a depth which we cannot fathom, no 
more than a nutshell can empty the ocean : Ps. cxxxix. 6, ' Such 
knowledge is too wonderful for me : it is high, I cannot attain unto it/ It 
is above our capacity ; for a finite thing cannot comprehend an infinite. 

The creation of all things out of nothing, we believe it upon the 
testimony of the word, but it is too wonderful for us to search it to the 
bottom ; yea, the framing of the body in the womb, so many different 
things out of the same seed, as flesh, and bones, and muscles, and in 
such an order and proportion : Ps. cxxxix. 14, ' I will praise thee, for 
I am fearfully and wonderfully made : marvellous are thy works, and 
that my soul knoweth right well.' If the commonness did not abate 
our observation, we would wonder at it. So his providence in govern 
ing every creature to their proper ends, especially his care over us, and 
conduct of us. ' Many, Lord, are thy wondrous works which thou 
hast done, and thy thoughts which are to usward. They cannot be 
reckoned up in order unto thee : if I would declare and speak of them, 
they are more than can be numbered,' Ps. xl. 5. But especially the 
redemption of mankind is wonderful: 1 Tim. iii. 16, 'And without 
controversy great is the mystery of godliness : God was manifested in 
the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the 
Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory/ The mys 
teries of the gospel, every time we think of them, should strike admi 
ration into our hearts. It could not sink into the head of any creature 
how to satisfy justice, and to make up the breach between God and 
us. That a virgin should conceive ; the word be made flesh ; that 
justice and mercy should so sweetly be brought together, and conspire 
in the salvation of a lost sinner, all these are wonders ; and when we 
come to believe them indeed, to draw forth comfort from them, these 
are wonderful to us ! 

The law of God is wonderful. Look to the precept or the sanction. 
Look to the precept. A wonderful purity there : ' I have seen an end 
of all perfection ; but thy law is exceeding broad/ ver. 96 of this 
psalm. When a child of God sees how the law reacheth every thought, 
every motion, every operation of his soul, what wonderful purity is 
here ! So a marvellous equity : ' The law is holy, just, and good ; ' 
and * the commandment is good/ Rom. vii. 4. God hath given us 
such a law, if a man were free, yet, to ennoble his nature and live 
happily, he would choose such a rule. Then to see such wise precepts 
so ordered that in ten words God should comprise the whole duty of 
man : Deut. iv. 6, ' Keep, therefore, and do them ; for this is your 
wisdom, and your understanding in the sight of the nations/ First, 
God hath provided in his law respects to himself. First the law pro 
vides for God, then for the creature. In the first commandment, 
' Thou shalt have no other gods before me ; ' there is the object 
of worship. In the second, ' Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven 
image/ &c., the means of worship. Then the manner of worship in 
the third, ' Thou shalt not take the name of God in vain/ Then the 


time of worship in the fourth, * Kemember to keep holy the Sabbath 
day/ See how the Lord hath built up his law. Then as to men, see 
first God provides for those viceroys that do represent the great God, 
as our parents natural and civil, ' Honour thy father and thy mother/ 
&c. ; then our ordinary neighbour ; and there first for his life, and then 
for his relations, ' Thou shalt not kill, shalt not commit adultery ; ' 
then for his goods, ' Thou shalt not steal ; ' then for his good name. 
When a man sees the law of God in all its explications, when he con 
siders the harmony and correspondence that is between all the parts 
of the law, then he will cry out, wonderful ! Come to the sanction 
by which the law is established and confirmed, by promises and 
rewards, such a ' far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory ; ' 
that a clod of earth should shine above the stars, and God provide 
such a happiness for us that we should be like the angels ! Then 
threatenings, that God hath appointed such a punishment to hold the 
world in awe, as ' a worm that never dies, and the fire that never goes 
out ;' the worm of conscience that shall vex us with the remembrance 
of our past folly, and the wrath of God that shall punish us for dis 
obedience, and torment us for evermore. Still, wonderful ! So for 
the gospel, every article of faith is a mystery to be wondered at Quot 
articuli, tot miracula. The disciples wondered when they saw the 
structure of the temple. Oh, how may we wonder when we see the 
spiritual temple, that is Jesus Christ in the fulness of his godhead ! 
God dwelt symbolically by outward representations in the temple, but 
here he dwells bodily. When David had provided such a mass of 
money, 1 Chron. xxix. 7-9, they fell a wondering. Oh, but when 
the soul comes to view the unsearchable riches of grace in Christ Jesus, 
then it may cry out, wonderful ! When we see some rare plot, 
all things suit harmoniously, we cry out, wonderful ! This great 
mystery of godliness, the more we look into it, the more will we wonder 
at the wisdom of God discovered in and through Christ Jesus. For 
external providences, to see how God answers prayers, how he brings 
about our mercies according to our wants in a way we know not : Ps. 
xvii. 7, ' Show thy marvellous loving-kindness, thou that savest by 
thy right hand them which put their trust in thee/ In the very com 
mon favours that God vouchsafeth to us, there is something may be 
observed that may make us wonder, either for the time, manner, or 
measure. Also, in the internal effects of his grace upon the heart, 
when a man is convinced, and his own heart is ripped up to him by the 
power of the word, 1 Cor. xv. 25 ; Heb. iv. 12 ; and John iv. 29. As 
when Christ had convinced the woman of Samaria, and ripped up her 
life, she says, * Come, see a man that hath told me all that ever 1 did.' 
When God comes in with such convictive evidence, and rips up our 
privy thoughts, wonderful. But especially in changing and renew 
ing the heart; when a lion shall be turned into a lamb, a dunghill 
become a bed of spices, a swine become a saint, a persecutor an apostle, 
we, that had such bolts and restraints of sin upon us, when we get out ; 
when we that were so wedded to sensual delights and worldly vanities 
are brought to delight in God, this is truly admirable ! 2 Peter i. 9, 
' He hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light/ And 
then the comfort we have by the word of God, and the marvellous 

VER. 27.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 263 

sweetness the practice of it diffuseth through the soul, it is unspeak 
able and glorious, 1 Peter i. 8. So Phil. iv. 7, ' The peace of God that 
passes understanding shall guard your hearts,' &c. When a man hath 
settling and composure of spirit in the midst of tempests and storms, 
the heart is guarded against all fears and sorrows. When we consider 
what God hath done for our souls, every grace is a wonder : to depend 
upon what we see not ; to be safe in the midst of a storm ; to die, yet 
live ; to be poor, yet make many rich ; to have nothing, yet possess all 
things ; these operations of grace are all wonders. 

Use 1. It informeth us that a man must be -carried above his own 
sense, reason, and light, to understand such wonderful things. It is 
the apostle's argument : 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10, ' 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. But God hath revealed them to 
us by his Spirit ; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things 
of God.' All things are seen by a suitable light, spiritual things are 
spiritually discerned, divine things by a divine light Non loquendum 
de Deo sine lumine. If beasts would judge of human affairs, they must 
have the reason of men ; if men of divine things, they must have divine 
illumination. There is a cognation between the faculty and the object. 

2. It informeth us what reason we have to respect the word of God. 
Many curious wits despise it as a mean knowledge in comparison of 
Aristotle, Plato, &c. All the doctrines of it are a continued mystery ; 
there is nothing vulgar and of small moment there. If there be some 
rudiments, something common with other writings, there are greater 
things than these, even the deep things of God. Never was there such 
a revelation made to the world as this. You despise that which angels 
wonder at : Eph. iii. 10, ' And to make all men see what is the fellow 
ship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been 
hid in God, who created all things in Jesus Christ : to the intent that 
now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be 
known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.' And 1 Peter 
i. 12, ' Which things the angels desire to look into.' David saith, 'Thy 
testimonies are wonderful, therefore doth my soul keep them/ Oh, let 
this book of God be more dear to us ! Oh, what trifles are all worldly 
riches to the unsearchable riches of the Lord's grace ! Oh, how stupid 
are they that are not taken with such great things as these 1 

3. Examine your profiting. It is one degree of profit to see so much 
in the word of God as to admire at it. Admire God's transcendent 
goodness in the pardon of sins. God giveth us such admirable precepts, 
assisting us in the performance of them, accepting our imperfect obed 
ience ; this giveth wonderful comfort in all our afflictions. 

Thirdly, Observe, he that is sensible of the wondrous things that are 
in God's word will be talking of them. 

1. It will be so. 

2. It should be so. 

1. It will be so. When the heart is deeply affected, the tongue 
cannot hold, but will run out in expressions of it; for * out of the abund 
ance of the heart the mouth speaketh.' When cheered and revived in 
their afflictions, they are transported with the thought, with the ex 
cellency of God : Ps. Ixvi. 15, ' Come, and I will tell you what God 


hath done for my soul/ The woman, when she had found the lost 
groat, calleth her neighbours to rejoice with her. He that hath but a 
cold knowledge, will not be so full of good discourse. 

2. It should be so, in a threefold respect for the honour of God, the 
edification of others, and for our own profit. 

[1.] For the honour of God, to whom we are so much indebted, to 
bring him into request with those about us. Experience deserveth 
praise ; when you have found the Messiah, call one another to him : 
John i. 41-45, 'Andrew calleth Peter, and saith unto him, We have 
found the Messias ; and Philip calleth Nathanael and saith unto him, 
We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did 
write, Jesus of Nazareth the son of Joseph.' 

[2.] For the edification of others : Luke xxii. 32, 'And thou being 
converted, strengthen thy brethren.' True grace is communicative as 
fire, &c. 

[3.] For our own profit. He that useth his knowledge shall have 
more ; whereas, on the contrary, full breasts, if not sucked, become 
dry. In the dividing, the loaves increased. All gifts, but much more 
spiritual, which are the best, are improved by exercise. 

Well, then, get a sense and experience of God's truth, and then 
speak of it to others. That which we have seen we are best able to 
report of. God giveth us experiences to this end, that we may be 
able to speak of it to others. None can speak with such confidence as 
those that have felt what they speak. Christ saith those that come 
to him shall not only have a spring of comfort themselves, but flow 
forth to others : John vii. 38, 'He that belie veth on me, as the scrip 
ture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water/ 

Fourth point, In our desires of knowledge it is meet to propound a 
good end ; as David here beggeth understanding, that he might see and 
discover to others what he had found in God's law. To know that we 
may know is foolish curiosity ; to know that we may be known is 
vanity and ostentation ; to see that we may sell our knowledge is base 
ness and covetousness. To edify others, this is charity ; to be edified 
ourselves, this is wisdom. Good things must be sought to a good end : 
* Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, to consume it upon your 
lusts/ James iv. 3. All things must be sought for to holy ends, to 
glorify God ; much more spiritual gifts. The only good end is God's 
glory : ' Open thou my lips, that I may show forth thy praise/ Ps. li. 
15. We are to desire knowledge, that we may the more enjoy God, 
and the more glorify him. 

There is a natural desire of knowledge, even of divine knowledge ; 
but we must look to our ends, that we may grow in grace, 1 Peter ii. 
3 ; that we may be more useful for God ; not merely to store the head 
with notions, or to vaunt it over others, as having attained more than 
they. No ; it should be only to do good to our own souls, and to save 
others : Kom. xv. 14, ' I am persuaded that ye are filled with all 
knowledge, and able to admonish one another/ But now, to make a 
market of our knowledge, or to use it for our vile ends, that is naught. 
Not for boasting, ostentation, curiosity, and vain speculation, but for 
practice, should be our end. When we improve our stock well, we 
please God, and shall have eternal profit ourselves. 

VER. 28.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 265 


My soul meltethfor heaviness : strengthen thou me according to thy 
word. VER. 28. 

A CHRISTIAN should neither be humbled to the degree of dejection, nor 
confident to the degree of security; and therefore he is to have a 
double eye, upon God and upon himself, upon his own necessities and 
upon God's all-sufficiency. You have both represented in this verse (as 
often in this psalm), his case and his petition. 

1. His case is represented, my soul meltethfor heaviness. 

2. His petition and request to God, strengthen thou me according to 
thy ivord. 

First, His case, ' My soul melteth for heaviness/ In the original 
the word signifies ' droppeth away/ The Septuagint hath it thus, ' My 
soul fell asleep through weariness/ Probably by a fault of the tran 
scribers, one word for another. My soul droppeth. It may relate (1.) 
To the plenty of his tears, as the word is used in scripture : Job xvi. 
20, ' My friends scorn me ; but mine eye poureth out tears unto God/ or 
droppeth to God, the same word ; so it notes his deep sorrow and sense 
of his condition. The like allusion is in Josh. vii. 5, ' The heart of the 
people melted, and became as water/ Or, (2.) It relates to his languish 
ing under the extremity of his sorrow ; as an unctuous thing wasteth 
by dropping, so was his soul even dropping away. Such a like expres 
sion is used in Ps. cvii. 26, ' Their soul is melted because of trouble ; ' 
and of Jesus Christ, whose strength was exhausted by the greatness of 
his sorrows, it is said, Ps. xxii. 14, ' I am poured out like water; all my 
bones are out of joint ; my heart is like wax, it is melted in the midst 
of my bowels/ Be the allusion either to the one or to the other, either to 
the dropping of tears or to the melting and wasting away of what is 
fat and unctuous, it notes a vehement sorrow and brokenness of heart,, 
that is clear : his soul was even melting away ; and unless God did 
help him, he could hold out no longer. 

Doct. That God's children oftentimes lie under the exercise of such 
deep and pressing sorrow as is not incident to other men. 

David expresseth himself here as in a languishing condition which 
is not ordinary, ' My soul droppeth or melteth away for heaviness/ 

The reasons of the point are three : 

1. Their burdens are greater. 

2. They have a greater sense than others. 

3. Their exercise is greater, because their reward and comfort is so 

1. Their burdens are greater than others, as temptation, desertion, 
trouble for sin. The good and evil of the spiritual life is greater than 
the good and evil of any other life whatsoever. As their joys are un 
speakable and glorious, so their sorrows are sometimes above expres 
sion : * A wounded spirit who can bear ? ' Prov. xviii. 14. Common 
natural courage will carry a man through other afflictions, oh ! but 
when the arrows of the Almighty stick in their heart, Job. vi. 3, that 
is an insupportable burden. According to the excellency of any life, 


so are the annoyances and the benefits of that life. Man, that hath a 
higher life than the beasts, is more capable of delights and sorrows 
than beasts are of pain and pleasure ; and so a Christian that lives the 
life of faith is more capable of a higher burden. Consider, they that 
live a spiritual life have immediately to do with the infinite and eter 
nal God ; and therefore when he creates joy in the heart, oh, what a 
joy is that ! And when God doth but lay his hand upon them, how 
great is their trouble ! Sin is a heavier burden than affliction, and 
the wrath of God than the displeasure of man Coelestis ira quospre- 
mit miseros facit, Tiumana nullos. Evils of an eternal influence are 
more than temporal, therefore must needs be greater and more bur 

2. They have a greater sense than others, their hearts being en- 
tendered by religion. None have so quick a feeling as the children of 
God. Why ? Because they have a clearer understanding, and more 
tender and delicate affections. 

[1.] Because they have a clearer understanding, and see more into 
the nature of things than those that are drowned in present delights 
and contentments. The loss of God's favour carnal men know not 
how to value, but the saints prefer it above life : ' The favour of God 
is better than life,' Ps. Ixiii. 3. Therefore, if the Lord do but suspend 
the wonted manifestations of his grace and favour, how are their hearts 
troubled ! ' Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled,' Ps. xxx. 
7. A child of God, that lives by his favour, cannot brook his absence ; 
therefore, when they lose the sweet sense of his favour and reconcilia 
tion with him, oh, what a trouble is this to their souls ! Other men 
make no reckoning of it at all. And so for sin, common spirits value 
it only by the damage it doth to their worldly interests ; when it costs 
them dear, they may hang the head : Jer. ii. 9, ' Now know what an 
evil and bitter thing it is to forsake the Lord/ A worldly man may 
know something of the evil of sin in the effects of it, but a child of 
God seeth into the nature of it ; they value it by the wrong, by the 
offence that is done to God, and so are humbled more for the evil in 
sin, than for the evil after sin. So for the wrath of God ; carnal men 
have gross thoughts of it, and may howl upon their beds when their 
pleasant things are taken from them ; but God's children are humbled 
because their father is angry ; they observe more the displeasure of 
God in afflicting providences than others do ; and one spark of God's 
wrath lighting into their consciences, oh, what sad effects doth it work ! 
more than all other straits whatsoever. Thus they have a clearer 
understanding, they see more into the dreadfulness of God's wrath, 
into the evil of sin, and they know how to prize and value his favour 
more than others. 

[2.] They have delicate and tender affections. Grace, that gives us 
a new heart, doth also give us a soft heart: Ezek. xxxvi. 26, * I will 
put a new heart into them.' What kind of heart ? ' A heart of flesh/ 
as the old heart that is taken out is a heart of stone. A new soft 
heart doth sooner receive the impression of divine terror than another 
heart doth. A stamp is more easily left upon wax, or a soft thing, 
than upon a stone. Or thus, a slave hath a thicker skin than one 
nobly born, tenderly brought up; therefore he is not so sensible of 

28.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 267 

stripes. A wicked man hath more cause to be .troubled than a godly 
man ; but he is not a man of sense ; he hath a heart of stone, and 
therefore is not so affected either with God's dealings with him, or his 
dealings with God. Look, as the weight of the blows must not only 
be considered, but the delicateness of the constitution, so, because their 
hearts are of a softer and more tender constitution, being hearts of 
flesh, and receptive of a deeper impression, therefore their sorrows 
exceed the sorrows of other men. 

3. The good that they expect is exceeding great, and their exercise 
is accordingly ; for after the rate of our comforts so are our afflictions. 
Wicked men, that have nothing to expect in the world to come but 
horrors and pains, they wallow now in ease and plenty : Luke xvi. 25, 

* Son, in thy lifetime thou receivedst thy good things/ God will be 
behindhand with none of his creatures ; those that do him common 
service have common blessings in a larger measure than his own peo 
ple have ; they have their good things, that is, such as their hearts 
ehoose and affect. But now good men, that expect another happiness, 
they must be content to be harassed and exercised, that they may be 
fitted and prepared for the enjoyment of this happiness. As the stones 
that were to be set in the temple were to be hewn and squared, so are 
they to be hewn, squared, and exercised with bitter and sharp things, 
that they may be prepared for the more glory. 

Use 1. Then carnal men are not fit to judge of the saints when they 
report their experiences, if it be with' them above the rate of other 
men. When afflicted consciences speak of their wounds, or revived 
hearts of their comforts, their joys are supernatural, and so are their 
sorrows ; arid therefore a natural man thinks all to be but fancy, all 
those joys of the Spirit, that they are but fanatic delusions; and he 
doth not understand the weight of their sorrows. When a man is 
well to see to, and hath health, strength, and wealth, they marvel 
what should make such a man heavy ; all their care is to eat, drink, 
and be merry ; and therefore because they are not acquainted with 
the exercises of a feeling conscience, they think all this trouble is but 
a little mopishness and melancholy. Poor contrite sinners, who are 
ready to weep out their hearts at their eyes, can only understand such 
expressions as these, * My soul melteth away for heaviness.' There is 
another manner of thing in trouble of conscience than the carnal world 
doth imagine ; and many that have all well about them, great estates, 
much befriended and esteemed in the world, yea, for the best things, 
yet when God hides his face, poor souls, how are they troubled ! If 
he do but let a spark of his wrath into their conscience, and hide his 
face from them, it is a greater burden to them than all the miseries 
of the world. 

David was a man valiant, that had ' a heart as the heart of a Son/ 
2 Sam. xvii. 10. He was a man cheerful, called ' the sweet singer of 
Israel/ 2 Sam. xxiii. 1 ; of a ruddy sanguine complexion, and a great 
master of music. He was no fool, but a man wise as the angel of 
God ; and yet you see what a bitter sense he had of his spiritual con 
dition. And when a man so stout and valiant, so cheerful, so wise, 
complains so heavily, will you count this mopishness and foolish 
melancholy ? But alas 1 men that never knew the weight of sin can- 


not otherwise conceive of it; they were never acquainted with the 
infiniteness of God, nor power of his anger, and have not a due sense 
of eternity ; therefore they think so slightly of these matters of the 
spiritual life. 

Use 2. Be not too secure of spiritual joys. We warn you often of 
security, or falling asleep in temporal comforts, and we must warn you 
of this kind of security also in spiritual. All things change. You 
may find David in this psalm in a different posture of spirit ; some 
times rejoicing in the word of God above all riches, and at other times 
his soul melteth away for very heaviness. God's own people are liable 
to great trouble of spirit ; therefore you should not be secure as to 
these spiritual enjoyments, which come and go according to God's 
pleasure. Men that build too much upon spiritual suavities or sensible 
consolations occasion a snare to their own souls ; partly as they are 
less watchful for the present (like mariners which have been at sea, 
when they get into the haven, take down their tackling, and make 
merry, and think never to see storm more), and so lose that which 
they are so confident of keeping ; by their negligence and carelessness 
their spiritual comfort is gone. And there is another mischief the 
loss is more heavy, because it was never thought of. And therefore 
in preparation of heart we should be ready to lose our inward com 
forts, as well as estates and outward conveniences. In heaven alone 
we have continual day without cloudings or night; but here there 
will be changes. 

Use 3. Let us not judge of our condition if this should be our case r 
that is, if we should lie under pressing troubles, such as do even break 
our spirits. This was the case of the Son of God; his soul was 
troubled, and he knew not what to say : John xii. 27, ' My soul is 
troubled ; what shall I say ? ' And many of his choicest servants have 
been sorely exercised Heman, an heir of heaven, and yet compassed 
about with the pains of hell ; Job not only spoiled of all his goods, 
but for a time shut out from the comforts of God's Spirit. Our busi 
ness in such a case is not to examine and judge, but to trust. Neither 
to determine of our condition one side or other, but to stay our hearts 
upon God, and so to make use of offers and inviting promises, when 
we cannot make use of conditional and assuring promises. So Isa. 1. 
10, ' He that walketh in darkness, and seeth no light/ is directed, ' let 
him trust in the name of the Lord/ That is our business in such a 
case of deep distress, to make a new title rather than dispute the old 
one ; and stay our hearts on God's mercy. 

Thus much concerning David's case ; which because it often comes 
under consideration in this Psalm, I would pass over more briefly. 

Secondly, I come from David's case to his petition or request to 
God, ' Strengthen thou me according to thy word.' Where you have 

1. The request itself. 

2. An argument to enforce it. 

First, The request itself, ' Strengthen me;' that is the benefit asked. 

Doct. 1. Observe this in the general, he doth but now and then 
drop out a request for temporal safety, but all along his main desire 
is for grace and for support rather than deliverance. 

The children of God, the main thing that their hearts run upon is 

VER. 28.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 269 

sustentation and spiritual support rather than outward deliverance : 
Ps. cxxxviii. 3, * I called upon the Lord, and he heard me, and 
strengthened me with strength in my soul.' Mark, David judgeth 
that to be an audience, to be a hearing of prayer ; though he had not 
deliverance, yet he had experience of inward comfort, that was it which 
supported him. The children of God value themselves by the inward 
man, rather than the outward. What David here prays for himself, 
Paul prays for others: Eph. iii. 16, 'That he would grant you, ac 
cording to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by 
his Spirit in the inner man.' Yea, they are contented with the decays 
of the outward man, so that the inward man may increase in strength : 
2 Cor. iv. 16, ' Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man 
is renewed day by day.' The outward man in Paul's dialect is the 
body, with the conveniences and all the appurtenances thereof, as 
health, beauty, strength, wealth ; all this is the outward man. Now 
this is not a Christian's desire, to increase in the world, or to make a 
fair show in the flesh ; no, but his heart is set upon this, to grow 
stronger in the spirit, that the soul, as furnished with the graces of the 
Spirit, may thrive; this is the inner man. To insist upon this a little. 

1. It is the inward man that is esteemed with God, and therefore 
that is it the saints mainly look after. God doth not look upon men 
according to their outward condition, pomp, and appearances in the 
world, but according to the inward endowments of the heart : 1 Sam. 
xvi. 7, ' Man's eye is upon the outward appearance, but God regards 
the heart ;' and ' the hidden man of the heart/ that is said to be ' an 
ornament of great price with God,' 1 Peter iii. 4. Intellectual beauty 
is that which is esteemed in heaven, and spiritual wealth is only 
current in the other world. Poor creatures, that are led by sense, they 
esteem one another by these outward things ; but God esteems men 
by grace, by the soul, how that is cherished and strengthened ; and 
though we are otherwise never so well accomplished, we are hated if 
we have not his image stamped upon us. 

2. The everlasting welfare of the whole person depends upon the 
flourishing of the inward man. When we come to put off the upper 
garment of the flesh, the poor soul will be destitute, naked, and har- 
bourless, if we have made no provision for it, 2 Cor. v. 3, and then 
both body and soul are undone for ever. When the soul is to be 
thrown out of doors, whither will it go, if it hath not an eternal build 
ing in heaven to receive it ? The soul is the man ; the body follows 
the state of the soul, but the soul doth not follow the state of the body. 
The life of God, which he doth begin in the soul, does in time renew 
and perfect the body too. The apostle saith, Kom. vi. 11, ' The Spirit 
that now dwelleth in us will raise up our mortal bodies.' But now 
those that seek to preserve the outward man with the neglect of the 
inner, in time ruin both body and soul. Well, then, here is their care. 

3. The loss of the outward man may be recompensed and made up 
by the strength of grace that is put into the inner man, but the loss 
of the inner man cannot be made up by the perfections of the out 
ward man. A man that is afflicted in his outward estate, God makes 
it up in grace ; if he makes him rich in faith, in the experiences of his 
favour, the loss is made up and supplied more abundantly ; and the 


children of God can comfort themselves in this, that their inward man 
is strengthened and renewed day by day, 2 Cor. iv. 16 ; so that a man 
may be happy notwithstanding breaches made upon the outward man. 
But when there is a wounded spirit, and God breaks into the inward 
man, then what good will riches, estate, and all these things do? 
They are as unsavoury things as the white of an egg. 

4. The outward man may fit us for converse with men, but the in 
ward man with God. We need bodies, and organs of speech, and 
reason, and present supplies, which fit us to converse with men ; but 
we converse with God by thoughts and by grace, and by the perfec 
tions of the inward man ; this fits us for communion with him. 

5. The life and strength of the inward man is a more noble thing 
than the strength of the outward man or the bodily life, for it draws 
nearer to the life of God, as the life and strength of the body draws 
nearer to the life, pleasure, and happiness of a beast. By the bodily 
life we eat, drink, labour, sleep, and so do the beasts ; yea, many of 
the beasts excel us in the perfection of that kind of life. Lions excel 
in strength, roes in swiftness, eagles in long age ; none of their plea 
sures are soured with remorse of conscience. But the inward spiritual 
life is called the life of God, Eph. iv. 18. 

6. The inward life is the beginning of our life in heaven. A glori 
fied saint and a saint militant upon earth both live the life of God ; 
and the life of grace is the same life for kind, though not for degree ; 
and one that is glorified and one here upon earth differ but as a child 
and a man. But now the life of sense and the life of grace differ as 
a toad and a man, not only in degree, but also in kind. 

7. Yet further, this is that great thing which God hath been at such 
great expense about, to raise the being of the new creature : John vi. 
51, * This is my flesh, which I give for the life of the world/ The 
supports, the strength of the inward man cost dearer than all other 
comforts whatsoever : it must have nobler supports, it must have the 
blood of Christ, daily supplies from heaven. But the other life is 
called the life of our hands, Isa. Ivii. 10. We patch up to ourselves 
some conveniences for the sensible life by labour and service here in 
the world. Well, then, this is that which the children of God do 
mostly look after, that the inward life may be kept free from annoy 
ance, and fit for the purposes of grace. 

Use. The use of this is to check our carnal and preposterous care 
for the outward man, to the neglect of the inward. How much are we 
for the outward man, that it may be well fed and well clothed, well 
at ease for the present life 1 There is all our care ; but not so careful 
to get the soul furnished with grace, and strengthened and renewed 
by continued influences from Christ. Certainly if men did look after 
soul-strength, they would be more careful to wait upon God for his 
blessing. You may know the disproportion of your care for outward 
things and for the inward man by these questions. 

1. How much do you prize God's day, the means of grace, oppor 
tunities of worship, that are for the inward man ? The Sabbath-day 
is a feast-day for souls. Now, when men are weary of it, it is the 
most burdensome day of all the week round: Amos viii. 5, 'When will 
the Sabbath be gone, that we may set forth wheat ? ' It is a siga 

VER. 28.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 271 

they are carnal, when men count that day the only lost day : as Seneca 
saith of the Jews, they lost the full seventh of their lives, speaking of 
the Sabbath-day. So carnal men think it is a lost day to them, they 
look upon the Sabbath as a melancholy interruption of their affairs 
and business. The apostle James saith of those that are begotten by 
God, chap. i. 9, that they are 'swift to hear.' Certainly they that 
have an inward man to maintain, another life than an outward and 
animal life, must have the supply and will look after the comforts of it. 

2. Consider how differently we are concerned with bodily and soul 
concernments. If the body be but a little diseased, if we want an 
appetite to a meal, or a little sleep in the night, we complain of it 
presently ; we inquire what is the cause, and look for a remedy. But 
what a wonderful disproportion is there as to the soul ! It is a strange 
expression that, 3 John 2, ' I wish that thy body prosper as thy soul 
prospers.' Alas ! we may say of the most, Oh, that their souls did 
prosper as their bodies, as they flourish in the conveniencies of the out 
ward man ! 

3. What care have you for the inward man, to adorn the soul, to 
beautify it with grace, that it may be of price and esteem with God, 
or to fortify it with grace ? Now, when all our strength and travail is 
laid out for that which doth not conduce to the inward life, Isaiah 
Iv. 2, and we lay out our money for that which is not bread, it is a 
sign we are wholly carnal. We read in ecclesiastical story of one that 
wept when he saw a wanton woman decking herself with a great deal 
of care to please her lovers ; saith he, Have I been so careful to deck 
my soul for Christ Jesus ? 

4. Do you take in spiritual refreshments, even when afflictions 
abound? 2 Cor. i. 5, ' As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our 
consolation also aboundeth by Christ;' then you are affected as the 
children of God, whose heart and care runs out mainly for the in 
ward man. This in general. 

Doct. 2. Secondly, more especially observe he goes to God for 
strength. Let me show 

1. What is this spiritual strength. 

2. How it is given out. 

3. How God is concerned in it. David goes to God, ' Lord, 
strengthen me.' 

First, What spiritual strength is. It is God's perfecting of his 
work. Strength supposeth life, therefore in general it is God's renewed 
influence ; when he hath planted habits of grace, he comes and 
strengthens. There is gratia prceveniens, operans, et co-operans there 
is preventing grace, working grace, and co- working grace. Preventing 
grace is when God converts us, when the Lord turns us to himself, and 
doth plant grace in the soul at first. Working grace is when God 
strengthens the habit. Co-working grace, when God stirs up the act, 
and helps us in the exercise of the grace we have. First he plants 
grace into the heart, then there is a constant influence, as the two 
olive-trees in Zechariah were always dropping into the lamps; and 
then by excitation and co-operation he stirs it up. Saith Austin, 
"Unless God gives us the faculties, and unless he gives us the will, we 
can do nothing ; and unless he concurs with the exercise of these 


faculties, still we cannot work in the spiritual life as we ought to do ; 
and therefore first God infuseth grace, and then strengthens grace ; 
first he worketh in us, then by us. First we are objects of his work, 
then instruments, to show wherein the strength of the soul lies. 

1. There are planted in the soul habits of grace. There are not 
only high operations of grace, but permanent and fixed habits, the 
seed of God that remaineth within us, 1 John Hi. 9, which cannot be 
the indwelling of the Spirit ; for this seed of God is some created 
thing : Ps. li. 10, ' Create in me a clean heart, God ;' and it is some 
thing that grows : 2 Peter iii. 6, ' Grow in grace.' And therefore it 
is evident there are habits of grace planted in the soul, a good stock 
that we have from God at first, called * the good treasure of the heart/ 
Mat. xii. These habits of grace are called ' armour of God,' ' the 
shield of faith,' * the helmet of salvation.' This is the strength of 
the soul. 

2. But besides this, there is a continuance and an increase of these 
graces, when the Lord confirms his work, and perfects what he hath 
begun, Phil. i. 16. The apostle most notably sets it forth : 1 Peter 
v. 10, ' The God of all grace make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, 
settle you.' All these words concern the habit, or the seed of grace in 
the soul ; and to show God's concurrence towards our preservation 
in the spiritual state, he useth these words, ' Make you perfect ;' that 
notes the addition of degrees that are yet wanting ; ' stablish you/ 
that notes defending that grace which is already planted in the heart 
from temptation and dangers ; and * strengthen you/ that is, give you 
power for action or ability for working ; and ' settle you/ that is to 
fasten the root more and more. All may be represented in a tree. 
Look, as a tree grown downward in the root is defended from the nip 
ping of the weather, and stablished and strengthened against injuries 
from beasts, and being filled with sap, springs forth, and becomes 
fruitful ; so the Lord settle you, &c. 

3. There is a concurrence of God to the act. Grace in habit is not 
enough, but it must be actuated and directed. About the act there 
are two things : The Holy Spirit actuates the grace that is implanted, 
draws it forth into exercise ; so it is said, Phil. ii. 13, 'It is God that 
worketh in you both to will and to do/ that is, he does apply that 
grace in our heart, set it a- work ; and then there is a directing or regu 
lation of the soul to action : 2 Thes. iii. 5, ' The Lord direct your 
hearts into the love of God/ &c. Thus God plants grace in the heart 
by preventing us with his mercy and loving-kindness, taking us into 
favour; then he doth stablish us, and perfect it, root it in the soul 
more and more. Then as to the act, he doth excite and strengthen us. 

Secondly, The uses for which we have this strength from God. It 
serves for three uses for doing, for suffering, and for conflicting, to 
bear us out in conflict ; as our necessities are many, so must our 
strength be. 

1. Strength to perform duties. Weariness and uncomfortableness 
will soon fall upon our hearts, and we shall hang off from God, if the 
Lord doth not put forth a new force, and a new quickening upon our 
hearts ; therefore the spouse saith, Cant. i. 4, ' Draw me, and we will 
run after thee. And here in this psalm, ' When the Lord shall enlarge 

VEB. 28.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 273 

my heart, I will run the ways of his commandments/ If we would 
be carried on with any fervour and motion towards God, we must go 
forth in the strength of God. The soul is a tender thing, and soon 
discomposed. When we think to go forth and shake ourselves as at 
other times, as Samson, we shall find fetters and restraints upon our 
soul. Therefore God's work must ever be done in God's strength. 

2. Strength for bearing of burdens with patience, that we may not 
faint under them: Col. i. 11, * Strengthened with all might, according 
to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyful- 
ness.' That we may not faint under our affliction : Prov. xxiv. 10, 
' If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.' God's 
children, before they go to heaven, will have their trials, they will have 
many burdens upon them : Heb. vi. 12, ' Be ye followers of them who 
through faith and patience inherit the promises.' There needs not only 
faith, but patience. There will be trouble. Now a heavy burden need 
have good shoulders. We pray for strength, that we may break through 
difficulties and afflictions that we meet in our passage to heaven. 

3. Strength for conflicts, that we may break through temptations. 
A Christian is not only to use the trowel but the sword. We cannot 
think to discharge duties or bear afflictions without a battle and con 
flict ; therefore we need the strength of the Lord's grace to carry us 
through. Satan is the great enemy with whom we conflict, he is the 
manager of the temptation. This is the course of it ; the world is the 
bait ; the flesh is the traitor that works within men, which gives advan 
tage to Satan ; the devil lieth hidden, and by worldly things seeks to draw 
off our hearts from God. Now we are assaulted on every side, sometimes 
by the pleasures of the world, sometimes by the frowns and crosses of 
it ; so that a Christian needs to be fit for all conditions : Phil. iv. 13, 
' I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me ; ' for every 
way will the devil be enticing us to sin. Now these conflicts are either 
solicitations to sin, or tend to weaken our comfort; and in both re 
spects we must have strength from God. Satan's first temptation is to 
draw us to sin ; if he cannot weaken grace, then to disturb our com 
fort ; if not to deny God, yet that we may suspect our own estate ; and 
therefore he follows us with blasphemies and other temptations, until 
he hath made our lives wearisome, till we call our condition into 
question ; and therefore, as grace is strengthened, so is comfort : Neh. 
viii. 10, ' The joy of the Lord is your strength.' 

Thus I have showed what is this spiritual strength, and what we 
beg of God when we say, ' Strengthen me ; ' and how this is given out, 
in what manner God conveyeth this strength to the soul, how suitable 
to our nature, to our temper, to our employment. 

Thirdly, How God is concerned in it. David goes to God for this 
benefit, ' Lord, strengthen me.' From first to last he doth all. We 
do not stand by the stability of our own resolutions, nor stand by the 
stability of gracious habits in ourselves, unless the Lord supply new 
strength. Not by the stability of our own resolutions, for these will 
soon fail ; for David was under a resolution to keep close to God ; yet 
he saith, ' My feet had well-nigh slipped/ What upheld him ? ' Thy 
right hand upheld me/ I was mightily shaken, all purposes of hold 
ing on of godliness were even gone ; but I am continually with thee. 

VOL. vi. s 


Neither is it the stability of gracious habits in themselves, for of them 
selves they are poor vanishing things ; faith, love, and fear of God of 
themselves will soon vanish : Eev. iii. 2, ' Be watchful, strengthen the 
things which remain, that are ready to die. These are ready to die, 
therefore are only maintained by a renewed strength from God. It is 
the power of God that is engaged in our preservation. I might show 
in what order we have this from God ; we are not only kept in general 
' by the power of God through faith unto salvation,' 1 Peter i. 5, but all 
the persons work. The Father, his act is judicial : Eph. iii. 14, ' I 
bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he 
would grant you to be strengthened with might in the inner man/ 
He issueth the grant, that such souls coming in Christ's name, and 
petitioning relief, should obtain it. And God the Son hath bought 
this strength for us, and he intercedes for constant supply ; and there 
fore it is said, Phil. iv. 13, ' I can do all things through Christ/ Christ 
Euts in strength, that is, he observes all our temptations, our conflicts, 
ow weak we are ; and he intercedes with God night and day ; he 
stands at God's right hand, to get out this strength ; and the Holy 
Ghost applies it to our heart in the ordinances ; for so it is said, Eph. 
iii. 16, ' To be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man/ 
Use. To press us to be dealing with God for this strength. What 
shall we do ? 

1. Be weak in your own sense and feeling. The way to be strong i 
to be weak: 2 Cor.'xii. 10, 'When I am weak, then ain I strong/ 
The bucket, if we would have it filled with the ocean, must first be 
empty. Saith Austin, Nemo erit a Deofirmus, nisi qui seipsum sentit 
infirmum God strengtheneth those that are weak in their own feel 
ing and sense of their own nothingness : Heb. xi. 34, 'Out of weak 
ness they were made strong ;' out of weakness felt and apprehended. 

2. There must be a full reliance upon God's strength alone : Ps. 
Ixxi. 16, ' I will go forth in the strength of the Lord God ;' and Eph. 
vi. 10, 'Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might ;' and 
2 Tim. ii. 1, ' Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus/ What 
ever is in God and in Christ is for our use ; it is forthcoming for 
our encouragement and help. We have firm grounds for this reliance 
the infinite power of God, and the merit of Christ, which is of in 
finite value. What cannot the power of God do ? The strength of 
God is engaged for our relief and succour. 

3. Use the power that you have, and then it will be increased upon 
you. The right arm is bigger than the left. Why ? Because of exer 
cise, it is fuller of spirits and strength : ' To him that hath shall be 
given/ Mat. xiii, 12, ' and he shall have abundance/ The more we 
exercise grace the more we shall have of it : Prov. x. 29, * The way of 
the Lord is strength to the upright/ The more we walk with God 
the more strength. 

4. Use the means, for ' they that wait upon the Lord shall renew 
their strength,' Isa. xl. 31. Because God doth all, oh! it is the greatest 
engagement that can be to wait upon God in the use of means, that 
we may draw out treasures of grace in God's way: Phil. ii. 12, ' Work 
out your salvation, for it is God that worketh in you/ &c. See that 
you keep not off from God. Why ? For he doth all. 

VER. 29.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 275 

5. Avoid sin ; that lets out your strength, as bleeding lets out the 
spirits of the body. When you grieve the Spirit of Christ which is to 
strengthen you, you cast away your strength from you. Let us then 
wait upon God for help, for when all things fail, God faileth not. 

Secondly, I now come to the argument, ' Strengthen me according 
to thy word/ God's word binds him to relieve his people in distress. 
There are two promises ; one is, 1 Cor. x. 13, ' God will not suffer you 
to be tempted above that ye are able.' A good man would not over 
burden his beast ; certainly the gracious God will not suffer tempta 
tions to lie upon us above measure. Another promise is in Isa. Ivii. 
15-17, ' To revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of 
the contrite ones.' He hath promised comfort and relief to poor 
broken-hearted sinners ; you are called by name in the promise, it is 
spoken to people in your case. Again, upon such a word and promise 
of God is David's prayer grounded. A prayer grounded upon a pro 
mise is like to prevail ; you may put a humble challenge upon God, 
plead his word to him. It is strange fire else you put in the censer, 
when you beg that which God never undertook to grant. David often 
saith ' according to thy word.' Again, the word of God is the only 
cure and relief for a fainting soul. When David was languishing 
away under deep sorrow, then, Lord, thy word did bring strength. (1.) 
This is the proper cure. Natural means cannot be a remedy to a 
spiritual distemper, no more than a fine suit of apparel to a sick man, 
or a posy of flowers to a condemned man. Natural comforts carry no 
proportion with a spiritual disease; nothing but grace, pardon, strength, 
and acceptance from God can remove it. They that seek to quench 
their sorrows in excess and merry company take a brutish remedy for 
soul diseases. foolish creatures ! that think to sport away or drink 
down their troubles 1 it is as foolish a course as to think that to sew 
up a rent in the garment will cure a wound in their body. And (2.) 
it is a universal cure ; we have from the word life, comfort, strength. 
It is the word that must guide us and keep us from fainting, quicken 
us and keep us from dying. This is a full remedy in conjunction with 
the power of God, and makes the sore * joyful in the midst of outward 
troubles : Ps. Ivi. 10, * I will rejoice in God because of his word.' 

Lastly, This word must be applied to the conscience by God himself, 
' Strengthen thou me according to thy word/ He goes to God that he 
would apply his word, that it might be for his strength ; for we can neither 
apprehend nor apply it further than we receive grace from God. The 
word is God's instrument, and worketh not without the principal agent. 


Remove from me the way of lying ; and grant me thy law 
graciously. VER. 29. 

THERE are two parts of Christianity destructive and adstructive. The 
destructive part consists in a removing of sin ; the adstructive part 

J Qu. 'soul'? ED. 


makes way for the plantation of grace ; there is eschewing evil, and 
doing good. We are carried on in a forward earnestness in the way 
of sin, but there is a great backwardness and restraint upon our hearts 
as to that which is good. The one is necessary to the other ; we must 
come out of the ways of sin before we can walk in the ways of God. 
In this prayer David respects both. (1.) In the first he instanceth in 
one sin, ' the way of lying ; ' not only lying, but ' the way of lying/ as 
being conscious to himself of his too often sinning in this kind. Now, he 
would not have this settled into a course or way ; therefore he beggeth, 
Eemove it, the guilt, the fault of it. (2.) As to the adstructive part, 
for the regulation of his conversation, he begs the favour and grant of 
the law, and that upon terms of grace. David had ever the book of 
the law, for every king of Israel was to have it always by him, and, 
the rabbis say, written with his own hand. But ' grant me thy law 
graciously ; ' that is, he desires he might have it not only written by 
him, but upon him, to have it imprinted upon his heart, that he might 
have a heart to observe and keep it. That is the blessing he begs for, 
the law ; and this is begged graciously, or upon terms of grace, merely 
according to thine own favour and good pleasure. Here is 

1. The sin deprecated, remove from me the way of lying. 

2. The good supplicated and asked, grant me thy law graciously. 
In the first clause you have his malady : David had been enticed to 

a course of lying. In the second we have his remedy, and that is the 
law of God. 

First, Let me speak of the evil deprecated ; here observe 

1. The object, the way of lying. 

2. God's act about it, remove from me, &c. 

First for the object, ' The way of lying/ It is by some taken gener 
ally, by others more particularly. 

1. For those that expound it more generally, they are not all of a 
mind. Some think by the way of lying is meant corruption of doctrine ; 
others of worship ; others apply it to disorders of conversation ; some 
take it for error of doctrine, false opinions concerning God and his 
worship, which are called lying, and so opposed to the way of truth 
spoken of in the next verse, * I have chosen the way of truth/ Heresy 
and false doctrine is called a lie, Ezek. xiii. 22, ' Their diviners speak 
lies ; ' so 1 John ii. 21, * A lie is not of the truth ;' and the word used, 

* The way of lying' is elsewhere rendered a ' false way/ ver. 104, and ver. 
128 there is the same expression. Now, this he desires to be removed 
from him, because it sticks as close to us as our skin. Error is very 
natural to us, and man doth exceedingly please himself with the fig 
ments of his own brain. All practical errors in the world are but 
man's natural thoughts cried up into a voluble opinion, because backed 
with defences of wit, and parts, and secular interests, and other advan 
tages ; they are but our secret and privy thoughts which have gotten 
the reputation of an opinion in the world ; for we ' speak lies from the 
womb ; ' even in this sense we suck in erroneous principles with our 
milk. Nature carrieth us to wrong thoughts of God, and the ways of 
God, and out of levity and inconstancy of spirit we are apt to be 

* carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men/ 
Now, to this sense the latter clause will well agree, ' Keep me from a 

VER. 29.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 277 

way of lying,' that is, keep me from falling into error and mistakes 
about religion ; for he begs that the law may be granted to him, or a 
certain stated rule, without which all things are liable to deceit and 
imposture. And according to this sense Austin beggeth that he may 
neither be deceived in the scriptures, nor deceive out of them ; Nee 
foliar in Us, nee fallam ex Us let me never be mistaken myself, nor 
cause others to mistake. Again, by a way of lying some understand 
false worship, for an idol is a lie : Isa. xliv. 20, ' Is there not a lie in 
his right hand ?' meaning an idol. By others, a course of sinning, for 
a way of sinning is a way of lying, for it deceives us with a conceit of 
.happiness which we shall never enjoy ; therefore, Eph. iv. 22, ' Put off 
the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.' Lusts 
are called deceitful, because they promise what they never perform ; 
they flatter us not only with hopes of impunity, but much imaginary 
comfort and satisfaction ; oh, but it is a lie ! Satan deceived our first 
parents, pretending to show them a way of immortality, whereas that 
brought death to the world. Most go this way, Remove from me the 
way of lying, that is, the way of sin ; and the rather because the Sep- 
tuagint translation reads it thus, Eemove from me the way of iniquity ; 
and Chrysostom in his gloss. He means, every evil deed should be re 
moved from him, or it proves a lie in regard of all those flatteringg 
and blandishments by which it enticeth the soul. Nay, there is a 
parallel place seems to make good this sense, Prov. xxx. 8, when Agur 
prays against sin, ' Remove from me vanity and lies,' meaning a course 
of sin. Thus it is taken more generally. 

2. Those that take it more particularly for the sin of lying, or 
speaking falsely in commerce, they again differ. Some take it pas 
sively, keep me from frauds or deceits of other men ; because it seems 
to be a hard thing to ascribe a way of lying to a child of God, therefore 
they rather take it passively. But this is to fear where no fear is. But 
David begs that he might be kept from a way of lying, that it might 
not settle into a way, that is his meaning. Therefore I rather take it 
actively, that he might not run into a false and fallacious course of 
dealing with others. 

Now why would David have this way of lying removed from him ? 
Three reasons : 

1. Because of the inclination of his corrupt nature. We had most 
need pray to be kept from gross sins : as Ps. xix. 13, ' Keep back thy 
servant also from presumptuous sins.' We need not only pray against 
lesser sins or spiritual wickedness, but from gross sins carried on pre 
sumptuously against the light of conscience. So Col. iii. 5, ' Mortify 
your earthly members/ &c. What members doth he speak of? Not 
worldliness and unbelief only ; but he speaks of adultery, uncleanness, 
inordinate affections, and the like ; and the children of God, if they do 
not deal with God for grace against their gross sins, they will soon 
know to their costs. Jesus Christ warned his own disciples, those that 
were trained up in his school, those that were to 'go abroad and deliver 
his gospel to the world : Luke xxi. 34, ' Take heed lest your hearts be 
overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness,' &c. A candle newly- 
blown out easily sucks light and flame again ; and we that are 
newly taken out of the dominion of sin into a state of grace, may 


suck light and flame again ; therefore we had need pray against gross 

2. Because he had been tripping and guilty in this kind. In the 
story of David you may trace too much of this way and vein of lying ; 
as his feigning to Ahimelech the priest, 1 Sam. xxi. 8 ; and to Achish, 
1 Sam. xxvii. 8, compared with ver. 10 ; his persuading Jonathan to 
tell his father he was gone about such a business. Now, this we may 
learn, when we are foiled by any sin, we should take heed lest we settle 
into a way and course of sin ; for in every sin, as there is culpa, the 
fault, or the transgression of the law, and reatus, the guilt, or obliga 
tion of punishment, so there is macula, the blot, an inclination to sin 
again, in like manner as a brand once on fire is more apt to take fire 
again. By every act of sin the law of God is lessened, our carnal 
inclination is increased ; therefore we had need be earnest with God, 
Lord, keep me from a way of lying. 

3. Man is strongly inclined to lying ; it sticks close to our nature, so 
that God must remove it from us ; as more fully afterwards. Thus 
for the object, a way of lying. 

Secondly, God's act about it, ' Eemoye from me.' Sin is removed 
either in a way of justification, when the guilt of it is done away ; this 
David might intend. But rather in a way of sanctification, when the 
fault or blot is done away. This is mainly intended, as appears by 
the antithesis or opposite request, 'and grant me thy law graciously ;' 
that is, let it be impressed upon my heart, that such a temptation may 
be prevented for the future. Let me observe 

Doct. That lying, especially a way or course of lying, should be far 
from God's people. 

David begs the removal of it, as most inconsistent with the temper 
and sincerity of a child of God. Examine 

1. What is lying ? 

2. Upon what grounds this should be far from a child of God ? 
First, What is lying ? Ans. Lying is when men wittingly and 

willingly, and with purpose to deceive, signify that which is false by 
gestures or actions, but especially by words. The matter of a lie is a 
falsehood; but the formality of it is with an intention to deceive; 
therefore a falsehood is one thing, a lie another. Then we lie when 
we not only do or speak falsely, but knowingly, and with purpose to 
deceive. Now this may be done by gestures, as when a scorner coun- 
terfeiteth the posture of one that is praying, or as when David feigned 
himself to be distracted, scrabbling upon the doors of the gate, spitting 
upon his beard, 1 Kings xxi. 1 ; and in the pagan story Junius Brutus 
was taxed for feigning himself a fool to save himself from Tarquin. 
Aquinas saith gestures are a sign by which we discover our minds. 
But because these are but imperfect signs, and speech is the usual 
instrument of commerce, therefore in words do we usually vent this 
sin. Now in our words we are said to lie two ways assertorily or 

1. Assertorily, in a matter past or present, when one speaketh that 
as false which he knoweth to be true, and that as true which he knoweth 
to be^false, which is called speaking with a double heart in scripture : 
Ps. xii. 2. 'With a heart and a heart;' that is, when we have one 

VER. 29.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 279 

heart to furnish the tongue with what is false, and another heart to 
conceive of the matter as it is. An instance of this falsehood in our 
assertions, or untrue relating of things done, is Ananias and Sapphira, 
who brought part of the money for which he sold his possession, 
instead of the whole ; therefore, Acts v. 3, ' Why hath Satan filled 
thy heart to lie unto the Holy Ghost, in keeping hack part of the 
price ?' It was a lie, because there was a false assertion in saying that 
it was the whole ; and it was a lie to the Holy Ghost, partly as being 
pretended to be done by his motion when they were acted by Satan, 
counterfeiting spiritual actions ; or a lie against the Holy Ghost, 
because the Holy Ghost, being last in order of the persons, is fitly 
represented as conscious to our ways and the workings of our hearts : 
it is in condescension to us, because it is most conceivable to us to 
reflect upon him as knowing our hearts, and all the workings of our 
souls : Kom. ix. 1, 'I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience 
also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost ;' and when the psalmist 
speaks of hiding himself from God, he saith, ' Whither shall I flee 
from thy Spirit?' Ps. cxxxix. 7. Or else a lie to the Holy Ghost, 
because of his presidency and superintendency over church affairs : 
Acts xiii. 2, ' The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul 
for the work whereunto I have called them ;' and Acts xx. 28, ' Take 
heed to the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers.' 
Now, because this was an ecclesiastical or church case, therefore they 
are said to lie to the Holy Ghost, as one that is to supply Christ's 
place. It was not the sin against the Holy Ghost, but a lie against 
the Holy Ghost. 

2. Promissorily we lie when we promise things we mean not to 
perform. This is a great sin. Paul spent the great part of a chapter 
to excuse himself, because he was necessitated by providence to break 
promise of coming to Corinth, 2 Cor. i. 16-18. It was grievous to 
him that he should seem to use lightness, and not make good his 
word, though he were hindered by the providence of God. Vain and 
empty promises, wherein we make a great show of kindness to others, 
without any intent to perform, is a great sin : Prov. xix. 22, ' The 
desire of a man is his kindness ; and a poor man is better than a liar/ 
What is the meaning ? Some read it, that which is desired of a man 
is kindness : you come to a man in power and great place, and beg his 
favour in such a business and request, and they are too apt to promise 
you. Ay 1 but a poor man is better than a liar ; you shall find among 
these great men very little faith. The desire of a man is his kindness, 
or that which a man should do in a great and high condition is to show 
you kindness. But now many that covet the praise and reputation of 
it, are very forward in promises, but fail in performance ; therefore a 
poor man that loves you, and is an honest neighbour, and will do his 
best, is a surer friend and a thousand times better than such lying 
great men, that only give you good words, and sprinkle you with court 
holy water. Now there is a lying to men, and a lying to God. 

[1.] A lying to God, which is the worst sort, because it argues un 
belief and atheism, low thoughts of God, as if he were not omniscient, 
did not know the heart, and try the reins. How do we lie to God ? 
Partly when we put him off with a false appearance, and make a show 


of what is not in the heart, as if he would be deceived with outsides 
and vain pretences. So Hosea xi. 12, it is said, ' Ephraim coinpasseth 
me about with lies, and the house of Judah with deceit/ God can see 
through and through all fair shows, and will not be mocked. We are 
said to lie to God when we perform not those professions and promises 
which we made in a time of trouble. Oh, when chastenings are upon 
us, then the vows of God are upon us ! Men think they mean as they 
speak, but they are not conscious of the secrecy of their hearts : Ps. 
Ixxviii. 36, ' They flattered me with their mouth, and they lied unta 
me with their tongue/ Their hearts were not sincerely set against 
sin, whatever professions of repentance they made. When there is a 
restraint upon our corruptions, then we think ourselves hearty and 
serious, because moved a little towards God. Moral integrity is when 
we intend not to deceive, but there was no supernatural sincerity to 
perform, as the event showed. They were only the fruit of the present 
pang, therefore it was said they lied unto him with their tongue. So 
Ezek. xxiv. 12, ' She hath wearied herself with lies, and her scum went 
not forth out of her,' speaking of her promises ; when the pot was over 
the fire there seemed to be offers to throw off the scum, but she hath 
wearied herself with lies. And in this sense it is said, Hosea vii. 1 6, 
* They return, but not to the Most High ; they are like a deceitful 
bow ; ' that is, they did not seriously intend when they did promise. 
As a man that shoots, if he do not level right, and take care to direct 
the arrow to the mark, it will never hit ; so they shoot, that is, they 
cast out promises to flatter God till they get out of trouble, but they 
do not seriously set their hearts to accomplish it. 

[2.] As to men, there are three sorts of lies Mendacium jocosum, 
officiosum, et perniciosum : there is the sporting lie, tending to our 
recreation and delight ; there is the officious lie, tending to our own 
and others' profit ; and there is the pernicious and hurtful lie, tending 
to our neighbour's prejudice. 

(1.) The sporting lie, when an untruth is devised for merriment. 
We have no instance of this in scripture; but it is a sin to speak 
untruth, and we must not make a jest of sin : Prov. xxvi. 19, 'As a 
madman that casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, so is the man that 
deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport ? ' Have we 
nothing wherewith to refresh our neighbour but with the breach of 
God's law ? If a Christian * will be merry, let him sing psalms/ 
James v. 13; let him give thanks, Eph. v. 4, 'Not filthiness, nor 
foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient; but rather 
giving of thanks ; ' that is, let him remember the sweet loves of God 
in Jesus Christ, and that is spiritual refreshment to a gracious heart. 
Let him not speak things against the sense of his own mind ; let him 
use honest recreation. Certainly we that are to give an account for 
every idle word should not allow the sporting lie. Now to this sport 
ing lie a fable or parable is not to be reduced, for that is only an 
artificial way of representing the truth with the more advantage, and 
putting of it into sensible terms which most are apt to apprehend ; 
as Jotham brings in the trees that went forth to anoint a king over 
them, Judges ix. 8. Neither such sharp and piercing ironies as we 
find used by holy men in scripture, 1 Kings xviii. 27; as Elijah 

VER. 29.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 281 

' mocked them, and said, Cry aloud ; for he is a God : either he is 
talking,' &c. ; for this is a notable way to make truth strike upon the 
heart with some force ; and therefore this must not be reduced to this 
sporting lie. 

(2.) The officious lie, for the help and relief of others. Many in 
stances of this we have in scripture. Thus Rebekah teacheth Jacob 
to lie that he might gain the blessing, Gen. xxvii. ; and the Egyptian 
midwives saved the male children of the Israelites by feigning they 
were delivered before they came to them, Exod. i. 21 ; yet it is said 
they feared God, and it is rewarded by God. Non remunerata est 
fallacia sed benevolentia not their lie, but their mercy is rewarded : 
their mercy is commended as proceeding from the fear of God, and 
their infirmities are pardoned. So Eahab spared the lives of the 
spies, by telling the men of her city that they were gone, when she 
had hid them under the stalks of flax, Josh. ii. 4-6. Thus Michal, to 
save David from the fury of her father, feigned him sick, 1 Sam. xix. 
14 ; and David advised Jonathan to an officious lie, 1 Sam. xx. 6, 7 " r 
so vers. 26, 28, 29. Thus Hushai, by temporising with Absalom,, 
preserved David, 2 Sam. xvi. 17-19, to divide his counsels pretendeth 
hearty affection to him. 

(3.) There is a pernicious lie, that is to the hurt and prejudice of 
another. Of this nature was the first lie, by which all mankind was 
ruined the devil's lie to our first parents, 'Ye shall be as gods,' 
Gen. iii. 4, 5. And of this nature was the patriarchs' lie concerning 
Joseph, when they spake to his father, Gen. xxxvii. 31, 32, ' This have 
we found, and know not whether it be thy son's coat or no,' yet they 
knew well enough ; and that of the Jewish elders that said, Mat. xxviii. 
12, 13, ' Say ye, his disciples came and stole him away while we slept/ 
All these are severely forbidden, but especially in point of witnessing 
in courts of judicature : Exod. xxiii. 1, ' Put not thine hand with the 
wicked to be an unrighteous witness ; ' and ver. 7, ' Keep thee far 
from a false matter/ &c. Now some question whether all these lies be 
sin or no, sporting or officious lies. All these sorts of lies are sins ; for 

1. The scripture condemns all without restriction: Eph. iv. 25, 
* Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his 
neighbour ; ' Rev. xxi. 8, all liars are shut out of the New Jerusalem, 
' Arid all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire 
and brimstone ;' and Rev. xxii. 15, ' Whosoever loveth and maketh a lie/ 

2. They all violate the natural order and conformity which God 
hath appointed between the heart and the tongue ; and though officious 
lies are not for the hurt, but the good of others, yet it is to the hurt 
and prejudice of truth. A man is not to lie for the glory of God, 
therefore certainly not for the good of another man ; you hurt your 
own soul more by sin than you can do him good. Augustine, treating 
of officious lies, he tells of one Firmus, who was Firmus nomine, et 
firmior voluntate Firm by name, but more firm and fixed by will 
and resolved purpose ; therefore, when one was pursued for casual homi 
cide, he concealed him; and being asked for him, answered, Nee 
mentiri se posse nee hominem prodere he could neither lie nor 
betray him. So much for the first thing, namely, what is a lie and 


Secondly, For the reasons why the children of God should be far 
from it. 

1. In regard of outward commerce. That which is contrary to 
human society should be odious to the children of God, who, as they 
are in a peculiar sense members one of another, so are also of the 
same political body, and therefore should ' speak truth one to another/ 
Eph. iv. 25. Human society is mostly upheld by truth. Where 
there is no truth, there can be no trust ; where there is no trust, there 
can be no commerce; it makes men unfit to be trusted. When a 
man hath much counterfeit money offered to him in payment, though 
there may be some true gold and silver, yet he casts it away, and 
suspecteth it all. Men that are given to lying can have no credit nor 
faith with man, so they are unfit for human commerce ; therefore it 
should be far from men ; nay, it is the right of our neighbour that we 
should speak truth, for speech is a kind of traffic and commerce, and 
therefore it is a kind of theft to defraud your neighbour of his right, if you 
give him false words for true. Now, because it is the band and foundation 
of human society, therefore it should be far from the children of God. 

2. It is a perversion of the order of nature. The tongue is the 
interpreter of the mind, and therefore if the interpreter of another 
man speak contrary to what he pronounceth, there were a manifest 
wrong and disorder ; so when the tongue speaks otherwise than the 
man thinks, there is a great disturbance and deordination. 

3. We resemble Satan in nothing so much as in lying, and we 
resemble God in nothing so much as in truth. Falsehood is the 
devil's character : John viii. 44, ' He was a liar from the beginning ; ' 
that is, the first inventor of lies, as Jubal was the father of them that 
played upon the harp, the first inventor ; and herein we most resemble 
Satan. On the contrary, there is nothing wherein a man resembleth 
God so much as in truth. Truth is no small part of the image of 
God, for he is called * the God of truth ; ' and it is said of him, 
Titus, i. 2, that he ' cannot lie ; ' it is contrary to the perfection of his 
nature ; nor command us to lie. God hath commanded many other 
things which otherwise were sinful; as to kill another man, as 
Abraham to slay his son ; to take away the goods of others, as lord of 
all, as when the Israelites spoiled the Egyptians of their jewels ; but 
God cannot lie, it is against his nature : Eph. iv. 24, 25, ' Put off the old 
man, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts ; and put on 
the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true 
holiness.' Then presently, * Wherefore put away lying ; speak every 
man truth with his neighbour/ Wherefore that is, from your re 
generation, when the image of God is planted in you. So the same : 
Col. iii. 9, ' Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old 
man with his deeds.' There may be sin in the children of God, but 
there should be no guile in them. Habituated guile is the old man 
that is deceitful; the new man is framed to truth, and according to 
the will of God. 

4. This is a consideration, that God never dispensed with this 
precept. He hath upon special occasion dispensed with other com 
mands, but never with the ninth. With the seventh commandment 
in the polygamy of the patriarchs, and with the second in Hezekiah's 

TEB. 29.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 283 

passover ; but a man must not lie for God, Job xiii. 7-9, because this 
commandment hath more in it of the justice and immutable perfection 
of God than others. 

5. By the light of nature nothing is more odious. We love a just 
and true man, one that is without guile ; we acknowledge it as a moral 
perfection. But a lie is counted the greatest disgrace ; we revenge the 
charge of it. It is counted a base thing to lie. Why ? Because it 
comes from fear, and it tends to deceit, both which argue baseness of 
spirit, and are contrary to the gallantry of a man; therefore it is 
shameful in the eyes of nature, and those that are most guilty of it 
cannot endure to be charged with it. When the prophet Micaiah told 
Zedekiah of his lying spirit, he ' smote him on the cheek/ 1 Kings xx. 
23. So men take it ill to be charged with a lie. We count it a 
shameful sin among men. The old Persians had such a great respect 
to truth, that he that was three times taken with a lie was never more 
to speak in public, upon penalty of death. 

6. It is a sin that is most hateful to God ; therefore it should be far 
from the children of God. We hate that most which is contrary to 
our nature, so it is contrary to God's nature. There are six things 
God hates, and a lying tongue is one of them ; twice it is mentioned, 
Prov. vi. 17, 19, and Prov. xii. 22, ' Lying lips are an abomination to 
the Lord ; but they that deal truly are his delight.' Now certainly 
because God hates it, therefore we should hate it. To will and nill 
the same thing, that is true friendship. God hates it, therefore a 
righteous man hates it : Prov. xiii. 5, ' A righteous man hateth lying ; 
but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame.' 

7. It is a sin which God hath expressly threatened to punish in 
this life and in the life to come. In this life : Ps. v. 6, ' Thou shalt 
destroy them that speak leasing ;' and Prov. xix. 5, ' He that speaketh 
lies shall not escape/ God will cut theni off as not being fit for 
human society. The first remarkable instance we have in the New 
Testament of God's vengeance was for a lie, Acts v. 5 ; yea, it is one 
of the sins that draws down public and national judgments ; and 
therefore it is said, Hosea iv. 2, ' By swearing and lying, therefore, 
doth the land mourn/ And when God gives advice to his people 
how they should prevent his judgments, Zech. viii. 16, 17, ' These are 
the things that ye shall do, speak ye every man the truth to his neigh 
bour : execute the judgment of truth ; love no false oath : for all these 
are the things that I hate, saith the Lord/ When men have no care 
of their speeches, when a people bind themselves by oaths to do that 
which they mind not to perform, or wilfully do not perform, they are 
ripe for a judgment. And so in the life to come : Rev. xxi. 27, 
'And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, 
neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie ;' and Piev. 
xxi. 8, 'All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with 
fire and brimstone / and Eev. xxii. 15, * For without are dogs and 
sorcerers, and whoremongers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and 
maketh a lie.' 

Use. Oh, then, let us beware of all lying and dissimulation with 
respect to God and men ! Let our words consent with our minds, 
and our minds agree with the thing itself. A lie is most odious to 


God, ' a proud look, and a lying tongue ;' and therefore a Christian 
that loves God, shall he do that which God so expressly hates ? Will 
you rush upon the pikes, kick against the pricks, and run against the 
judgments of God ? A lying tongue shall not escape. Nay, God 
reckons upon his children : Isa. Ixiii. 8, * Surely they are my people, 
children that will not lie.' Disappointment, that is the worst vexa 
tion. God reckons upon it, surely you will make conscience of truth, 
not only in your oaths (certainly that is a barbarous thing to break 
the most sacred engagements that are among mankind, therefore you 
will be careful to perform what you have sworn to the Lord with your 
hands lift up to the Most High God), but also in your promises and 
ordinary speeches. Good men have been foiled by it (David begs, 
' Keep me from a way of lying '), and it is a sin more common than 
we imagine ; it is very natural to us, Isa. lix. 3. As soon as we are 
born we speak lies ; before we could go we went astray, and before we 
were able to speak we spake lies ; the seed of it was in our nature. 
It is a sin most natural, for it was the occasion of the first sin, and 
therefore we had need be cautioned against it. 

Consider, there is a lying to God in public and private worship. In 
public worship, how often do you compass him about with lies ! We 
show love with our mouths when our heart is at a great distance from 
God. Oh, how odious should we be to ourselves if our heart were 
turned inside outward in the best duty, and all our thoughts were turned 
into words ! for in our worship many times we draw near to God with our 
mouths, when our heart is at a great distance. As when their bodies 
were in the wilderness, their hearts were in Egypt ; so we prattle 
words without sense and spiritual affection. Nay, in our private wor 
ship, we confess sin without shame ; we pray as if we cared not to be 
heard. Conscience tells us what we should pray for, but our hearts 
do not go out in the matter, and we throw away our prayers as chil 
dren shoot away their arrows, which is a sign we are not so hearty as 
we should be. We give thanks, but without meltings of heart. Custom 
and natural light tell us something must be done in this kind, but 
how hard a matter it is to draw near God with truth of heart ? 

Again, would we not be accounted better than we are ? Who 
would be thought as ill as he hath cause to think of himself ? We 
storm if others but speak of us half of what we speak of ourselves to 
God ; therefore ail had need look to it to be kept from a way of lying. 
And for gross lying, how far are we from being willing that should be 
accomplished which the Lord speaks of, Zeph. iii. 13, ' The remnant 
of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful 
tongue be found in their mouth/ Eather we may take up David's 
complaint, Ps. xii. 1,2,' The godly man ceaseth ; the faithful fail 
from among the children of men : they speak vanity every one with 
his neighbour ; with flattering lips, and with a double heart do they 
speak.' Promises, oaths, covenants all broken ; and therefore so many 
jealousies, because so much lying ; all trust is lost among us. This 
lying is always ill, but especially in magistrates, men of public place : 
Prov. xvii. 7, c Lying lips become not a prince/ So ministers : Rom. 
ix. 1, 'I say the truth in Christ, I lie not ;' 2 Cor. xi. 31, ' The God 
and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ knoweth that I lie not/ Among 


private -Christians, are we not too rash in our suspicions, and speak 
worse of others than they deserve ? do we not take up and vent reports 
without search? it may be out of envy at the brightness of their 
profession. Do not unwary expressions drop from us ? Much talk 
cannot be justified. Are there not rash promises we make no con 
science to mind and look after ? Many ways may we trace ourselves 
in this sin of lying ; therefore look to the prevention of it. What reme 
dies are there against it ? 

1. Hate it; do not think it to be a venial matter: Ps. cxix. 163, 
4 1 hate and abhor lying ; ' not only hate it, nor simply I abhor it, but 
hate and abhor, to strengthen and increase the sense, and make it 
more vehement. Where the enmity is not great against the sin, the 
matter may be compounded and taken up. Oh, but I hate and abhor 
it, and hate it with a deadly hatred ! Slight hatred of a sinful course 
is not sufficient to guard us against it. 

2. Love to the law of God ; if that be dear to you, you will not 
break it upon any light occasion. In the text, ' Grant me thy law 
graciously.' If a man prize the laws of God, and would fain have 
them printed in the heart, he will not so easily break them. 

3. Remember your spiritual conflict ; you never give Satan so great 
an advantage as by falsehood and guile of spirit. The devil assaults 
by wiles, but your strength lieth in downright honesty: Eph. vi. 11, 
* That ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.' Satan's 
strength lies in wiles, but you must beat him down in sincerity. The 
first piece of the spiritual armour is the girdle of truth that is, the 
grace of sincerity, whereby a man is to God and men what he gives 
out himself to be, or seems to be. This is that which will give you 
strength and courage in sore trials. Oh ! when Satan shall accuse and 
challenge you for your base hypocrisy, then how will you hold up your 
heads in the day of spiritual conflict, if you have not the girdle of 
truth ? But now uprightness gives us courage, strength, and stands 
by us in the very agonies of death. 

4. Heedfulness, and a watch upon the tongue : Ps. xxxix. 1, ' I 
aid I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue.' 
Let us speak of what we think, and think of what we speak, that the 
mind may conform itself with the nature of truth. 

5. Avoid the causes of lying. There are three of them (1.) Boast 
ing, or speaking too much of ourselves. When men are given to 
boasting, whatever thing of weight is done, they were privy to it ; 
their hand was in the work, in contriving and prosecuting the 
business, their counsel was for it. Nothing can be acted without their 
knowledge and approbation. This spirit of vainglory is the mother of 
vain talking, therefore of a lying tongue : Ps. xii. 3, * Flattering lips,' 
and ' the tongue that speaketh proud things/ are joined together. 
(2.) Flattery, or desiring of ingratiating themselves with those that 
are great and mighty in the world, when they have men's persons in 
admiration : Ps. xii. 2, ' With flattering lips, and with a double heart 
do they speak.' So Hosea vii. 3, ' They make the king glad with their 
lies/ To please their rulers, they soothe them up with flattering ap 
plause and fawning upon them. (3.) Carnal fear and distrust. This 
was that which put David to his shifts in his dangers ; he was apt to 


fail, and deal a little deceitfully in time of temptation and .danger. 
We had need to pray to God to be kept from all ways and counsels 
that are contrary to God's word. The scripture speaks, Deut. xxxiii. 
29, of counterfeit submissions to higher powers : ' Thine enemies shall 
be found liars unto thee, thou shalt tread upon their high places ; ' 
the meaning is, shall be subdued by thee. So Ps. xviii. 44, ' Strangers 
shall submit themselves to me ; ' Ps. Ixvi. 3, Ixxxi. 15, and many other 
places. The word implieth feigned submission. 

Object. But are we openly to profess our mind in all things in time of 
danger ? I answer Prudent concealment may be without fault, but 
a professed subjection should be sincere, for open and free dealing 
doth best become God's children. It is true we are not bound to 
speak all the truth at all times to every person. In some cases we 
may conceal something: Luke ix. 21, our Saviour ' straitly charged 
them, and commanded them to tell nobody that he was the Christ,' 
1 Sam. xvi. 2, when the Lord sent Samuel to anoint David, Samuel 
said, How can I go ? if Saul hear it, he will kill me. And the Lord 
said, Take an heifer with thee, and say, I am come to sacrifice to the 
Lord ; ' that was a truth, but not the whole truth. 

Object. But you will say, Will not this justify mental reservation and 
Jesuitical equivocation ? I answer There are two sorts of reserva 
tions ; I may reserve part of the truth in my mind. . But the mental 
reservations the Jesuits plead for is this when that which is spoken 
is a lie, if abstracted from that which is in the mind ; for instance, if 
a magistrate say, Art thou a priest ? No ; meaning not after the order 
of Baal. So that which is spoken is a lie. But if it be spoken with 
truth, we may reserve part of it. That in Samuel was not an untruth, 
but concealing some part of the truth not fit to be discovered. So 
Jer. xxxviii. 24-27, ' Then said Zedekiah unto Jeremiah, Let no man 
know of these words, and thou shalt not die. But if the princes hear 
that I have talked with thee, and they shall come unto thee, and say 
unto thee, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the king, 
hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death ; also what the 
king said unto thee: then thou shalt say unto them, I presented 
my supplication before the king, that he would not cause me to return 
to Jonathan's house to die there. Then came all the princes unto 
Jeremiah, and asked him ; and he told them according to all these 
words that the king had commanded : so they left off speaking with 
him, for the matter was not perceived/ 

Secondly, We now come to the blessing asked, ' Grant me thy law 
graciously.' Where first the benefit itself, grant me thy law; secondly, 
the terms upon which it is asked, implied in the word graciously. 

The benefit asked, * Grant me thy law.' David had the book of the 
law already ; every king was to have a copy of it written before him ; 
but he understandeth it not of the law written in a book. But of the 
law written upon his heart ; which is a privilege of the covenant of 
grace : Heb. viii. 1 0, ' For this is the covenant which I will make with 
the house of Israel in those days, saith the Lord : I will put my laws 
in their minds, and write them in their hearts,' &c. 

Doct. 1. Then is the law granted to us when it is written upon our 
minds and hearts ; that is, when we understand it, and our hearts are 

VER. 29.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 287 

framed to the love and obedience of it ; otherwise it is only granted to 
the church in general, but it is not granted to us in particular. We may 
have some common privilege of being trained up in the knowledge of 
God's will, but we have not the personal and particular benefits of the 
covenant of grace till we find it imprinted upon our hearts. Well, then 

1. Press God about this, not only to grant his word unto the church, 
but to grant it unto you, unto your persons : * To reveal his Son in me/ 
Gal. i. 16. There is a general benefit, ' He hath showed his word unto 
Jacob, and his statutes unto Israel/ Ps. cxlvii. 19. And there is a 
particular benefit, * Grant me thy law graciously.' The whole church 
may be under a covenant of grace, and some particular members of it 
may be all that while under a covenant of works, if they have only an 
external law without to show them what is good, but not a law within 
to urge and enable them to do it Lexjubet, gratia juvat. Literal in 
struction belongeth only to the first covenant ; but when the word is 
made ours, that is a privilege of the second covenant, ' The ingrafted 
word that is able to save our souls,' James i. 21,' when it is received 
in our hearts, and doth prosper there, and fructify unto holiness, when 
it is written over again by the finger of the Spirit. 

2. See if this effect be accomplished, if the law be granted to you. 
It is so (1.) When you have a sense and conscience of it, and you own 
it as your rule for the governing of your own heart and life : Ps. xxxvii. 
31, ' The law of God is in his heart ; none of his steps shall slide/ It 
is not in his book only, but in his heart, to guide all his actions. (2.) 
It is so when you have some ability and strength to perform it. Their 
hearts carry them to it : as Ps. Ix. 8, ' I delight to do thy will, God; 
yea, thy law is in my heart.' They have not only a sense and con 
science of their rule, but a ready spirit to perform it, and set about this 
work cheerfully and heartily. A ready and cheerful obedience to God's 
will is the surest note that the law is given to us ; when the study and 
practice of it is the great employment and pleasure of our lives. 

Doct. 2. (1.) The law that is odious to the flesh is acceptable to a 
gracious heart. What others count a restraint, they count a great 
benefit and favour : Rom. viii. 7, ' The carnal mind is enmity against 
God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.' 
They shun all means of searching and knowing themselves, wishing 
such things were not sins, or not desiring to know them to be so ; there 
fore hate the law, and will not come to the light, John iii. 20, ' For 
every one that doth evil hateth the light ; neither cometh to the light, 
lest his deeds should be reproved/ As a man that hath light ware is 
loath to come to the balance, or counterfeit coin to the touchstone, or 
as a bankrupt is loath to cast up his estate. They hate the directions 
and injunctions of the word as contrary to their lusts : 1 Kings xxii. 
8, ' He doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil/ said wicked 
Ahab ; and therefore would not hear him, and yet he was the prophet 
of the Lord. They are loath to understand their duty, are willingly/ 
ignorant : 2 Peter iii. 5, * For this they are willingly ignorant of/ &ci 
But now a gracious heart desireth nothing more than the knowledge 
of God's will ; how contrary soever to their lusts, they approve it : Eom, 
vii. 12, ' Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and 
just and good/ The law and commandment, that which wrought such 


tragical effects in his heart. Therefore they desire the knowledge of it 
above all things : Ps. cxix. 72, ' The law of thy mouth is better to me 
than thousands of gold and silver,' more than all earthly riches what 
soever ; it is the best thing they can enjoy, to have a full direction in 
obedience. (2.) The practice is welcome to their souls : 1 John v. 4, 
' His commandments are not grievous/ They are to others, not to them, 
because of the suitableness of their hearts : to a galled shoulder, the least 
burden is irksome, but to a sound back it is nothing ; love sweetens all. 

Use. Do you count the law an enemy or a friend ? The law is an 
nemy to them that count it an enemy, and a friend to them that count 
it a friend. It is a rule of life to them that delight in it, and count 
it a great mercy to know it, and be subdued to the practice of it ; but 
it is a covenant of works to them that withdraw the shoulder, count it 
a heavy burden not to be borne. Well, then, which do you complain 
of, the law or your corruptions ? What are you troubled with, light 
or lusts ? A gracious heart groaneth not under the strictness of the law, 
but under the body of death ; not because God hath required so much, 
but because they can do no more. 

Doct. 3. That the law is granted to us or written upon our hearts 
out of God's mere grace. Grant it graciously, saith David. I will do 
it, saith God ; and God will do it upon his own reasons. The condi 
tions of the covenant are conditions in the covenant, and the articles 
that bind us are also promises wherein God is bound to bestow so great 
a benefit upon poor creatures ; which doth encourage us to wait for this 
work with the more confidence. We are sensible we have not the law 
so intimately, so closely applied as we should have. Lord, grant it 
graciously. It is his work to give us 'a greater sense and care of it. 


I have chosen the way of truth : thy judgments have I laid before 
me. VER. 30. 

DAVID asserts his sincerity here in two things : 

1. In the Tightness of his choice, I have chosen the way of thy truth. 

2. In the accurateness of his prosecution, thy judgments have I laid 
before me. 

First, For his choice, ' I have chosen the way of thy truth.' God 
having granted him his law, he did reject all false ways of religion, and 
continued in the profession of the truth of God, and the strict observance 
thereof. There are many controversies and doubtful thoughts among 
the sons of men about religion, all being varnished with specious pre 
tences, so that a man knows not which way to choose, till by the Spirit 
he be enabled to take the direction of the word ; that resolveth all his 
scruples, and makes him sit down in the way which God hath pointed 
for him. Thus David, as an effect of God's grace, avoucheth his own 
choosing the way of truth. 

By the way of truth is meant true religion ; as 2 Peter ii. 2, ' By 
whom the way of truth is evil spoken of.' It is elsewhere called ' the 

VER. 30.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxrx. 289 

good way wherein we should walk,' 1 Kings viii. 36 ; and ' the way of 
God/ Ps. xxvii. 11; and ' the way of understanding/ Prov. ix. 6 ; and 
1 the way of holiness,' Isa. xxxv. 8 ; and ' the way of righteousness/ 2 
Peter ii. 21, ' Better they had not known the way of righteousness/ 
that is, never to have known the gospel, which is called the way of right 
eousness. It is called also ' the way of life/ Prov. vi. 23, 'And reproofs 
of instruction are the way of life ; ' and * the way of salvation/ as Acts 
xvi. 17, the Pythoness gave this testimony to the apostles, ' These are 
the servants of God, which show unto us the way of salvation/ Now 
all these expressions have their use and significancy ; for the way of 
truth, or the true way to happiness, is a good way, showed us by God, 
who can only discover it ; and therefore called ' the way of the Lord/ 
or ' the way of God/ in the place before quoted ; and Acts xxviii. 25, 
26, it is manifested by God, and leadeth us to God. The Christian 
doctrine was that way of truth revealed by him who is prima veritas, 
the first truth. The ways wherein God cometh to us are his mercy 
and truth ; and the way wherein we come to God is the way of true 
religion prescribed by him ; it is the way of understanding, because it 
maketh us wise as to the great affairs of our souls, and unto the end 
of our lives and beings ; and the way of holiness and righteousness, as 
directing us in all duties to God and man ; and the way of life and 
salvation, because it brings us to everlasting happiness. This way 
David chose by the direction of God's word and Spirit. 

Secondly, There follows the evidence of his sincerity, the accurate 
prosecution of his choice, * Thy judgments have I laid before me/ 
The Septuagint reads it, 'I have not forgotten thy judgments/ By 
judgments is meant God's word, according to the sentence of which 
every man shall receive his doom. He that walketh in a way con 
demned by the word shall not prosper ; for God's word is judgment, 
and execution shall surely follow ; and by this word David got his 
direction how to choose this way of truth, and this he laid before him as 
his line. His desire was to follow what was right and true, not only 
as to his general course and way of profession, but in all his actions ; 
and so it noteth his fixed purpose to live according to this blessed rule 
which God hath given him. To have a holy rule and an unholy life 
is unconsonant, inconsistent. A Christian should be a lively tran 
script of that religion he doth profess. If the way be a way of truth, 
he must always set it before him, and walk exactly. 

The points are two : 

1. That there being many crooked paths in the world, it concerns us 
to choose the way of truth. 

2. That when we have chosen the way of truth, or taken up the 
profession of the true religion, the rules and institutions of it should 
ever be before us. 

There are two great faults of men one in point of choice, the other 
in point of pursuit. Either they do not choose right, or they do not live 
up to the rules of their profession. Both are prevented by these points. 

Doct. 1. That there being many crooked paths in the world, it con 
cerns us to choose the way of truth. 

I shall give you the sense of it in these eight propositions or con 



Prop. 1. The Lord in his holy providence hath so permitted it that 
there ever have been, and are, and, for aught we can see, will be, con 
troversies about the way of truth and right worship. There was such 
a disease introduced into the world by the fall, that most of the reme 
dies which men choose do but show the strength and malignity of the 
disease. They choose out false ways of corning to God and returning 
to him : Micah iv. 5, ' All people will walk every one in the name of his 
god ; and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and 
ever/ Mark, there is his God, and our God, and then all people, noting 
their common agreement in error ; all people will, every man, noting 
their diversity as to the particular false way of religion and worship 
which they take up to themselves. When they turn their back upon 
the true God, and the knowledge of him, then they are endless in seek 
ing out false gods : Jonah i. 5, ' They cried every man to his god/ 
Among pagans, even in one ship, there were many false gods wor 

The controversy about religion mainly lay at first between the 
Jews and the pagans. The pagans had their gods, and the Jews had 
the Lord God of Israel, the only true God. Yea, among the pagans 
themselves there was a great diversity ' every man will walk '- 
and sometimes a hot contention ; and many times there were hot con 
tests, which was the better god, the leek or the garlic. When 
religion, which restrains our passions, is made the fuel of them, and 
instead of a judge becomes a party, men give themselves up headlong 
to all manner of bitter zeal and strife ; and persuasion of truth and 
right, which doth calm men in other differences, are here inflamed by 
that bitter zeal every one hath for his god, his service and party ; 
and the difference is greater especially between the two dissenting 
parties that come nearest to one another. 

We read afterward, when this difference lay more closely between 
the Jews and the Samaritans, and Christ decides, that salvation was of 
the Jews. The Jews were certainly the better party : John iv. 20, 
* Our fathers worshipped in this mountain, and ye say that in Jeru 
salem is the place where men ought to worship ' Mount Sion, or 
Mount Gerizim, which was the temple of the true God, one or the 
other ? Then we read afterward among the Jews themselves in their 
private sects, who were very keen against each other, Pharisees and 
Sadducees ; and Paul, though an enemy to them both, and was looked 
upon as a common adversary, yet they had rather join with him than 
among themselves, Acts xxiii. 8, 9. Afterward you find the scene of 
contention lay between the Jews and Christians : Acts xiv. 4, ' But the 
multitude of the city was divided ; and part held with the Jews, and 
part with the apostles/ There it grew into an open contest and quarrel. 

And then between the Christians and the pagans, which was the 
occasion of that uproar at Ephesus, Acts xix. Ay ! and after religion 
had gotten ground, and the way of truth had prevailed in the world, 
then the difference lay betwixt Christians themselves ; yea, while re 
ligion was but getting up, between the followers of the apostles and 
the school and sect of Simon Magus, those impure libertines and 
Gnostics who went out of them because they were not of them, 1 John 
ii. 19. And afterward in the church story we read of the conten- 

VER. 30.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 291 

tions between the Catholics and the Arians, the Catholics and the 
Pelagians, the Catholics and the Donatists, and other sects. 

And now, last of all in the dregs of time, between the Protestants and 
the Papists, that settled party with whom the church of God is now in 
suit. As the rod of Aaron did devour the rods of the enchanters, so 
the word of God, which is the rod of his strength, doth and will in time 
eat up and consume all untruths whatsoever ; but for a great while the 
contests may be very hot and sharp. Yea, among those that profess a 
reformed Christianity, there are the Lutherans and the Calvinists. 

And nearer to us, I will not so much as mention those invidious 
names and flags of defiance which are set up, under which different 
parties do encamp at home. Thus there ever have been, and will be, 
contests about religion and disputes about the way of truth ; yea, differ 
ent opinions in the church, and among Christians themselves, about 
divine truths revealed in the scripture. 

The Lord permits this in his holy and righteous providence, that 
the godly may be stirred up more to embrace truth upon evidence witli 
more affection, that they may more encourage and strengthen them 
selves and resolve for God ; for when all people will walk every ono 
in the name of his god, 'we will walk in the name of our God for ever," 
Micah iv. 5. And the Lord doth it that he may manifest the sin 
cere, that when Christ calls, Who is on my side ? who are willing to 
stick to him whatever hazards and losses they may incur : 1 Cor. xi. 
19, ' There must be heresies among you, that they which are approved 
may be made manifest among you.' Ay ! and that there may be a 
ready plague of strong delusion and lies for them that receive not the 
truth in the love of it, 2 Thes. ii. 11, 12 ; for damnable errors are the 
dungeons in which God holds carnal souls that play the wanton, and 
trifle with his truth, and never admit the love and power of it to come 
into their hearts. 

Prop. 2. True religion is but one, and all other ways false, noxious, 
and pestilent : Eph. iv. 5, ' One Lord, one faith, one baptism.' There 
are many ways in the world, but there is but one good and certain 
way that leads to salvation. So much the apostle intimates when he 
saith, * He will have all men to be saved/ How would he have them 
saved ? 1 Tim. ii. 4, ' For there is one God, and one mediator between 
God and men, the man Christ Jesus ; ' which text implies that salva 
tion is by the knowledge of the truth, or knowledge of the true way ; 
others tend to destruction. And so God promiseth, Jer. xxxii. 39, 
that he will give all the elect ' one heart and one way.' Though there 
be differences even in the church of God about lesser truths, yet there 
is but one true religion in the essence and substance of it ; I mean, as 
to those truths which are absolutely necessary to salvation. To make 
many doors to heaven is to set wide open the gates of hell. Many men 
think that men of all religions shall be saved, provided they be of a 
good life, and walk according to their light. 

In these later times divers unsober questionists are grown weary of 
the Christian religion, and by an excess of charity would betray their 
faith ; and while they plead for the salvation of Turks and heathens, 
scarce show themselves good Christians. The Christian religion is 
not only the most compendious way to true happiness, but it is the 


only way : John xvii. 3, ' This is life eternal, to know thee the only 
true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' There is the sum 
of what is necessary to life eternal ; that there is one God, Father, Son, 
and Holy Ghost, to be known, loved, obeyed, worshipped, and enjoyed; 
and the Lord Jesus Christ to be owned as our Redeemer and Saviour, 
to bring us home to God, and to procure for us the gifts of pardon and 
life ; and this life to be begun here by the Spirit, and to be perfected 
in heaven. This is the sum of all that can be said that is necessary 
to salvation. Certainly none can be saved without Christ ; * for there 
is no other name under heaven whereby we can be saved but by 
Jesus Christ,' Acts iv. 12, and none can be saved by Christ but they 
that know him and believe in him. 

If God hath extraordinary ways to reveal Christ to men, we know 
not. This is our rule ; no adults, no grown persons can be saved but 
they that know him and believe in him. And now Christ hath been 
so long owned in the world, and his knowledge so far propagated, 
why should we dream of any other way of salvation ? To us there is 
but one God and one faith. The good-fellow gods of the heathen 
could brook company and partnership, but the true God will be alone 
acknowledged. As the sun drowns the light of all the stars, so God 
will shine alone. No man can be saved without these two things 
without a fixed intention of God as his last end, and a choice of Jesus 
Christ as the only way and means of attaining thereunto. 

These things are set down in scripture as of infallible necessity to 
salvation ; and therefore, though there be several apprehensions and 
contentions about ways of salvation and righteousness, yet there is but 
one true religion, and all other ways are false. 

Prop. 3. As soon as any begin to be serious, they begin to have a 
conscience about the finding out this one only true way wherein they 
may be saved. Alas ! before men take up that religion which the 
chance of their education offers, without examination or any serious 
reason of their choice, they walk, in the language of the prophet, 
* according to the trade of Israel ; ' they live as they are born and 
bred, and take up truth and error as their faction leads them ; or else 
pass from one religion to another, as a man changeth his room or bed, 
and make a slight thing of opinions, and float up and down like light 
chaff, in a various uncertainty, according as their company or the 
posture of their interest is changed. But a serious and awakened 
conscience will be careful to lay the groundwork of religion sure ; they 
build for eternity, therefore the foundation needs to be well laid. The 
woman of Samaria, as soon as she was touched at heart and began to 
have a conscience, she began also to have doubtful thoughts about her 
estate and religion. Christ had convinced her of living in adultery, by 
that means to bring her to God ; but now she would fain know the 
true way of worship : John iv. 20, * Our fathers worshipped in this 
mountain, and ye say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought 
to worship/ They that have a sense of eternity upon them will be 
diligent to know the right way. The same errand brought Nicodemus 
to Christ : John iii. 2, ' Master, we know that thou art a teacher come 
from God/ He would fain know how he might come to God. So the 
young nobleman in the gospel: Mat. xix. 16, 'Good master, what 

VEK. 30.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 293 

good thing shall I do that I might have eternal life ? ' Though he 
disliked the bargain afterwards, yet he cheapens it, and asks what 
way he must take. For a great while persons have only a memorative 
knowledge, some apprehension which doth furnish their talk about 
religion ; and after their memory is planted with notions, then they 
are without judgment and conscience ; but when they begin to have a 
judgment and a conscience, then it is their business to make religion 
sure, and to be upon stable terms with God. 

Prop. 4. When we begin to have -a conscience about the true way, 
we must inquire into the grounds and reasons of it, that we may 
resolve upon evidence, not take it up because it is commonly believed, 
but because it is certainly true ; not take it up by chance, but by 
choice ; not because we know no other, but because we know no better. 
It is not enough to stumble upon truth blindly, but we must receive 
it knowingly, and upon solid conviction of the excellency of it, com 
paring doctrine with doctrine, and thing with thing, and the weak 
grounds the adversaries of the truth have to build upon. The precepts 
of the word are direct and plain for this: 1 Thes. v. 21, 'Prove all 
things, hold fast that which is good; and 1 John iv. 1, 'Try the 
spirits whether they are of God/ There must be trying and searching, 
and not taking up our religion merely by the dictates of another. 
The papists are against this, which argueth a distrust of their own 
doctrine ; they will not come to the waters of jealousy, lest their 
belly should swell and their thigh rot. They dare not admit people 
to trial and choice, and give them liberty to search the scriptures ; 
whereas truth is not afraid of contradiction : they first put out the 
light, then would have men shut their eyes. But what do they 
allege, since we are bidden to prove all things, and to try the spirits ? 
That these places belong to the doctors of the church, and not to the 
people. But that exception is frivolous, because the apostolical epistles 
were directed to the body of the people ; and they who are advised to 
prove all things are such as are charged to respect ' those that are 
over them in the Lord,' ver. 12, and not to ' despise prophecies/ ver. 
20, and then ' prove all things,' ver. 21 ; and in another place, those 
that he calls TratS/a, 'little children,' them he adviseth to try the 
spirits; all that have a care of their salvation should thus do. 
Eusebius doth mention it as one of the errors of Apelles, that what he 
had taught them they should not pry into and examine, but take it 
and swallow it. And Mahomet forbids his followers to inquire into 
their religion. 

Object. But is every private Christian bound to study controversy, 
so as to be able to answer all the adversaries of the truth ? 

I answer No ; it is a special gift, bestowed and required of some 
that have leisure and abilities, and it is a duty required of ministers 
and church guides to convince gainsayers arid stop their mouths. 
Ministers must be able to hold fast the truth. The word is, Titus, i. 9, 
av-re'xop.evov, ' holding fast the faithful word ; ' it signifies, holding fast 
a thing which another would wrest from us. We should be good at 
holding and drawing, to preserve the truth when others would take it 
out of our hands; otherwise he tells us, Kom. xiv. 1, 'Him that is 
weak in faith receive, but not to doubtful disputations.' Yet every 


true Christian is so far to be settled in the true religion, and study the 
grounds of it, that he may be fully persuaded in his own mind, Bom. 
xiv. 5, and may not be like chaff, but may be at a certainty in the 
way of truth. Surely the business is worthy our serious care. Eternal 
life and death are not trifles ; therefore be not rash in this, but go 
upon sure evidence. 

1. The providence of God doth necessitate us to such a course. 
Because there are different ways propounded to man, therefore he 
must follow all, or take up one upon evidence. Not only in point of 
practice, as life and death is set before us, Deut. xxx. 15, and the 
broad way and the narrow, Mat. vii. 13, 14 ; not only to counterwork 
the rebellions of the flesh, and the way of wisdom and folly, Prov. ix. 
No ; but in matters of opinion and controversy about religion there 
will meet us several ways, Jer. vi. 16, and all pretending to God. 

Therefore what should we do but search, pray, resolve to be thus 
with God, and take the way God will direct us? As the king of 
Babylon stood at the parting of the way, or at the head of the ways, to 
make divination, Ezek. xxi. 21, so you meet with partings of ways that 
you need deliberate to make a wise choice ; therefore the providence 
of God doth put you upon trial. Think, there are false teachers ; ay, 
and the most holy and upright men are but in part enlightened, and 
they may lead you into a crooked path and a byway ; they may mis 
lead us ; therefore we ought to see with our own eyes. 

2. Consider the sad consequence of erring. There are damnable 
errors and heresies, 2 Peter ii. 1. Vice is not only destructive and 
damnable to the soul, but error. Now eternal damnation and salva 
tion are no small matters. A man cannot please God in a false belief, 
how laudable so ever his life be ; and they cannot put the fault upon 
others, that they are misled by them ; for ' if the blind lead the blind, 
both fall into the ditch ; ' not only the blind guide, but the blind 

3. If we light upon a good way without search and choice, it is but 
a happy mistake when we have not sufficient evidence. You may 
have the advantage ground, by chance may light upon a better way, 
and it is God's providence you are born there where it may be so. A 
Turk hath the same ground for his respect to Mahomet that many 
have for their owning of Christ ; it is that religion he was born and 
bred in. This will not be counted faith, but simple credulity : ' The 
simple believeth every word/ It is almost as dangerous to love a 
truth ignorantly as to broach an error knowingly. Temere creditur, 
&c., saith Tertullian that is believed in vain which is believed without 
the grounds whereupon it is propounded. The faith of Christians 
should not be conjectural or traditional. If a man should not have 
reasons to sway his choice, he will never be able to check temptations 
even in practical things. If men have not received religion upon true 
grounds, and, as Cyprian saith, when they do not look into the reason 
of these things, and when the Christian religion is represented to them 
without evidence and certainty, they have but a probable faith, that is 
always weak against temptation, either against lusts within or errors 
and seductions without ; therefore we had need look to the grounds of 
these things. 

VEB. 30.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 295 

4. The profit is exceeding great, for truth will have a greater force 
upon the heart when we see the grounds and reasons of it. We are 
exposed here in this lower world to great difficulties and temptations. 
Now, when we do not lay up the supreme truths of religion with 
certainty and assurance, alas ! these temptations will prevail over us 
and carry us away. Atheism lies at the root ; therefore are there such 
doubtings in the heart in point of comfort, such defects in the life and 
conversation, because truth was never soundly laid in the soul, it was 
not chosen. If we were soundly settled in the belief of the unity of 
the divine essence, and the verity of salvation by Christ, and the 
divine authority of the scriptures, and the certainty of the promises 
therein, certainly we would be more firmly engaged to God ; comfort 
would sooner follow us, and we would have better success in the 
heavenly life. If the fire were well kindled, it would of itself break 
out into a flame. If we did believe, indeed, that Jesus the Son of 
God hath done so much for us, and had this firmly settled in our 
hearts, this would be a real ground of comfort and constancy : 2 Peter 
iii. 17, ' Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the 
wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.' It is put in opposition to one 
that stands by the steadfastness of another ; he might be carried away 
by the error of the wicked. No ; but he must have somewhat to say 
to engage his own heart, otherwise he is led thereby with every fond 
suggestion and simple credulity, and easily abused. But when men 
have chosen and are well fixed, they are not easily shaken. When 
men take up religion upon trust, without a satisfying argument, they 
are like light chaff, carried through the whole compass of the winds ; 
as mariners dispose of several winds which blow in the corners of the 
world into a circle and compass (the apostle's word alludes to that), 
' We are carried all round the points of the compass/ Eph. iv. 14. 
When the chain of consent is broken, they are in continual danger to 
be seduced ; and the greatest adversaries of truth are able to use such 
reasons as have in them great probability to captivate the affections 
of a weak understanding, by their sophistical arguments and insinuating 

Prop. 5. After this inquiry into the grounds and reasons of the way 
of truth, then we must resolve and choose it, c I have chosen the way 
of truth/ as the way wherein we are to walk : Jer. vi. 16, ' Ask where 
is the good way, and walk therein, and then ye shall find rest for your 
souls.' You must not only so understand and form your opinions 
aright, not only see what is the good way, but ivalk therein ; keep that 
way which you find to be the way of truth, renouncing all others. We 
should not lie under a floating uncertainty or sceptical irresolution, as 
those that keep themselves in a wary reservation, that are * ever learn 
ing, but never come to the knowledge of the truth/ 2 Tim. iii. 7 
7riyvco(nv aXrjdeias, the word is, they do not come to ' the acknowledg 
ment of the truth ; ' always examining, but never resolve. You are to 
1 prove all things/ but not in order to unsettlement, but settlement, 
1 Thes. v. 21. Consider, inquire, where is God's presence most? 
where is the Son like to be glorified, and souls better to be satisfied, 
and built up in the faith of Jesus Christ ? and resolve and stick there. 

Prop. 6. That no religion will be found fit to be chosen upon sound 


evidence but the Christian. How shall I be persuaded of this ? Why, 
that religion which God hath revealed, that religion which suits with 
the ends of a religion, that is, with the inward necessities of mankind, 
and most commodiously provides for man, that is true religion. Surely 
the necessities of mankind are to be relieved thereby. The great ends 
of a religion are God's glory and our happiness. God is glorified by a 
return of the obedience of the creature, and man is made happy by the 
enjoyment of God. All these ends are advanced by this way of truth. 
First, That is the only religion which is revealed by God, for cer 
tainly so must a religion be if it be true ; for that which pleaseth him 
must be according to his will ; and who can know his will but by his 
own revelation, by some sign whereby God hath discovered it to us ? 
Alas ! if men were to sit brooding a religion themselves, what a strange 
business would they hatch and bring forth ! If they were to carve 
out the worship of God, they might please themselves, but could never 
please God. Vain men indeed are ready to frame God like themselves, 
and foolishly imagine what pleaseth them pleaseth him also ; they still 
conceive of God according to their own fancy. And this was the 
reason why the wisest heathens, having no revelation, no sense of God's 
will but what offered itself by the light of nature, they would employ 
their wits to devise a religion. But what a monstrous chimera and 
strange fancy did they bring forth ! * Professing themselves wise, they 
became fools/ Bom. i. 22. Though they knew there was a great and 
eternal being by the light of nature, yet the apostle saith they became- 
vain, eV rot? StaXo7to-yLtot?, in their imaginations, how this infinite being 
should be worshipped ; therefore what they carved out was not an 
honour, but a disgrace ; they devised gods and goddesses that were 
patrons of murder, theft, and all manner of filthiness, and brought out 
Bacchus, the god of riot and good-fellowship, or the patron of boon 
companions, and Venus, the patroness of love and wantonness. But 
now God hath showed us his will, ' He hath showed us what is good, 
and what he doth require of us,' Micah vi. 8. Now that the gospel is 
a revelation from God, appears by the matter, which is so suitable to 
the nature of God ; it hath such an impress of God's wisdom, goodness, 
power upon it, that plainly it hath passed God; it is like such an infinite 
and eternal being as God is, in the worship and duties prescribed ; it 
is far above the wisdom of mere man, though very agreeable to those 
relics of wisdom which are left in us. So that this is that true 
religion which surely will please God, because it came from him at 
first, and could come from no other. And also besides the evidence 
it carrieth with it, and the impress and stamp of God upon it, we have 
the word of those that brought this doctrine to us ; and if we had 
nothing else, if they say, ' Thus saith the Lord/ &c., we are bound 
to believe them, they being persons of a valuable credit, that 
sought not themselves, but the glory of him that sent them. When 
the first messengers of it were men of such an unquestionable credit, 
that had no ends of their own, but ran all the extreme hazards and 
displeasures, surely it cannot incline us to think they did seek God's 
glory by a lie. Yea, they did evidence their mission from God by 
miracles that God sent them. Surely this doctrine is from heaven. 
Ay, and still God in his providence shows it from heaven, both in his- 

VER. 30.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 297 

internal government of the world ; he blesseth it to the comfort of the 
conscience or to the terrifying of the conscience, for it works both 
ways. Wicked men are afraid of the light, lest their deeds should be 
made manifest, John iii. 20 ; and also to the comforting and settling 
the conscience, that we may have great joy by believing in Christ. 
This for his internal government. And then his external govern 
ment, by answering of prayers, fulfilling promises, accomplishing 
prophecies : Ps. xviii. 30, ' As for God, his way is perfect ; the word 
of the Lord is tried : he is a buckler to all that trust in him/ Put 
God to the trial by a regular confidence in a humble walking, and he 
will make good his promises ; ay, and make good his threatenings. 
When people are ripe for judgment, God will fulfil the threatenings 
of his word, and will accomplish what is spoken by the prophets and 
apostles ; and God will reveal his wrath from heaven ' against all un 
righteousness of men,' Rom. i. 18. So that here are plain signs that 
this is a doctrine revealed from God, and God can best tell us how he 
is to be worshipped and pleased. 

Secondly, Besides God's revelation, it notably performs all that 
which a man would expect in a religion, and so suits the necessities of 
man as well as the honour of God. Why ? 

1. That is the true religion, which doth most draw off the minds of 
men from things temporal and earthly to things celestial and eternal, 
that we may think of them and prosecute them. The sense of another 
world, an estate to come, is the great foundation upon which all reli 
gion is grounded. All its precepts and promises, which are like to 
gain upon the heart of man, they receive their force from the promise 
of an unseen glory, and eternal punishments which are provided for 
the wicked and contemners of the gospel. The whole design of this 
religion is to take us off from the pleasures of the flesh and the baits 
of this world, that we may see things to come. It is the excellency of 
the Christian faith that it reveals the doctrines of eternal life clearly, 
which all other religions in the world only could guess at. There were 
some guesses, but still great uncertainty, but obscure thoughts and 
apprehensions of such an estate. But here * life and immortality are 
brought to light through the gospel,' 2 Tim. i. 10. Alas ! there is a 
mist upon it in all other representations ; they seem to see it, yet see 
it not. But this is brought to light in the gospel ; it makes a free 
offer of it, upon condition of faith in Christ, John iii. 16. It quickens 
us to look after it ; all its design is to breed in man this noble spirit, 
by ' looking upon things that are above, and not upon things on earth/ 
Col. iii. 1, 2; and it endeavours, with great power and persuasiveness, 
that we may make it our scope, that we may neglect all present ad 
vantages rather than miss this ; and make it our great design that we 
may ' look not to the things which are seen, but to the things unseen/ 
2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. This is the way of truth, because we believe it will 
make the worshippers of it everlastingly happy, which all men by 
nature have inquired about. Now it is but reason that a man's work 
be ended before he receive his wages, and if God will reward the vir 
tuous, that it should be in the other world ; for our work is not ended 
until we die ; and we have a presagency of another world : there is 
another world which the soul of man thinks of. Now this is that 


which Christianity drives at, that we may look after our reward with 
God, and escape that tribulation, wrath, and anguish, which shall 
come upon every soul that doeth evil. 

2. That doctrine which established purity of heart and life, as the 
only means to attain this blessedness, certainly that is the way of truth: 
Ps. xxiv. 3, 4, ' Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord ? and who 
shall stand in his holy place ? He that hath clean hands and a pure 
heart, who hath not lift up his soul unto vanity/ There is no true holi 
ness, no subjection of heart to God, but by the Christian doctrine: John 
xvii. 17, * Sanctify them by thy truth ; thy word is truth.' Hereby we 
know the word of God is truth, because it is so powerful to sanctification : 
Ps. cxix. 140, ' Thy word is very pure, therefore thy servant loveth it.' 
All religious endeavour some kind of excellency; but now the holiness 
that is recommended in other religions is a mere outside holiness in 
comparison of what Christianity calls for. We have a strict rule, 
high, patterns, blessed encouragement ; it promiseth a powerful Spirit, 
even the Spirit of the holy God, to work our heart to this holiness that 
is required. The aim of that religion is to remedy the disease intro 
duced by the fall. All other religions do but make up a part of the 
disease, and the gospel is the only remedy and cure; therefore this is the 
way of truth you should choose. 

3. That doctrine which provideth for peace of conscience, and freedom 
from perplexing fears, which are wont to haunt us by reason of God's 
justice and wrath for our former misdeeds, that doctrine hath the true 
effect of a religion. Man easily apprehends himself as God's creature ; 
and being God's creature, he is his subject, bound to obey him; and 
having exceedingly failed in his obedience (as experience shows), he is 
much haunted with fears and doubts. Now that is the religion that, in 
a kindly manner, doth dispossess us of these dreads and fears, and comes 
in upon the soul to deliver us from our bondage, and those guilty fears 
which are so natural to us by reason of sin. And therefore in a con 
sultation about religion, if I were to choose, and had not by the grace 
of God been baptized into the Christian faith, and had the advantage to 
look abroad and consider, then I would bethink myself, Where shall I 
find rest for my soul, and from those fears which lie at the bottom of 
conscience, and are easily stirred in us, and sometimes are very raging ? 
There is a fire smothering within, and many times it is blown up into 
a flame ; where shall I get remedy for these fears ? I rather pitch 
upon this, because the Holy Ghost doth, Jer. vi. 16, &c., as if he had 
said, If you will know what is the good way, take that way where you 
may find rest for your souls ; not a false rest that is easily disturbed, 
not a carnal security, but where you may find true solid peace ; that 
when you are most serious, and mind your great errand and business, 
you may comfort yourselves, and rejoice in the God that made you. 
In a fal.se way of religion there is no establishment of heart and sound 
peace : Heb. ix. 9, ' They could not make him that did the service 
perfect as pertaining to the conscience.' That certainly is the true 
religion which makes the worshipper perfect as to the conscience, 
which gives him a well-tempered peace in his soul ; not a sinful 
security, but a holy solid peace, that when he hath a great sense of his 
-duty upon him, yet he can comfortably wait upon God. And you 

VEB. 30.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 299 

know our Lord himself useth this very motive to invite men : Mat. 
xi. 29, ' Come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I 
will give you rest;' that is, take the Christian religion, that easy 
yoke upon you, and you shall find rest for your souls. The Lord Jesus 
is our peace, and the ground of our peace ; but we never find rest 
until we come under his yoke. Christians, search where you will, 
there is no serious answer to that grand question, which is the great 
scruple of the fallen creature, Micah vi. 7, how to appease angry 
justice. And we are told of those locusts who are seducing spirits, 
which come out of the bottomless pit, Kev. ix. ; they had stings in 
their tails ; their doctrine is not soundly comfortable to the conscience. 
Among others, this is designed by those locusts, that half Christianity 
which is taken up by the light-skirted people, which reflect upon 
privileges only ; therefore there are such scruples and intricate de 
bates. But some advantage there is, and some progress they may 
make in the spiritual life, that cry up them without duties ; but they 
never have found peace upon their souls unless the Lord pardon their 
mistakes, and doth sanctify their reflections upon those spiritual and 
unseen privileges, so as to check their opposite desires and inclina 
tions. It is best to be settled in God's way, by justification and sanc- 
tification. There is a wound wherein no plaster will serve for the 
cure, but the way the gospel doth take. Consider altogether Christ's 
renewing and reconciling grace, the whole evangelical truth, this 
gospel which was founded in the blood of Christ, his new covenant, 
^nd sealed with God's authority, and doth so fitly state duties and 
privileges, and lead a man by the one to the other. This is that which 
will appease the Lord. There is no settling of the conscience without 
it ; and therefore, whatever you would expect in a religion, here you find 
it in that blessed religion which is recommended to us in the gospel 
or new covenant ; there is such holiness and true sense of the other 
world, which breeds an excellency and choiceness of spirit in men. 

Prop. 7. Of all sects and sorts among Christians, the Protestant 
reformed religion will be found to be the way of truth. Why ? Be 
cause there is the greatest suitableness to the great ends, the greatest 
agreement and harmony with God's revelation, which they profess to 
be their only rule. I say, as to God's worship, there is most simplicity, 
without that theatrical pomp which makes the worship of God a dead 
thing, and so most suitable to a spiritual being, and conducible to 
spiritual ends, to God who is a Spirit, and who will be worshipped in 
spirit and truth ; for there God is our reward, and to be served by 
faith, love, obedience, trust, prayers, praises, and a holy administration 
of the word and seals ; more suitable to the genius of the scripture, 
without the pageantry of numerous idle ceremonies, like flourishes 
about a great letter, which do rather hide religion than any way dis 
cover it ; yea, betray it to contempt and scorn to a considering man. 
Besides, the great design of this religion is to draw men from earth to 
heaven, by calling them to a serious profession of saving truth. Popery 
is nothing but Christianity abused, and is a doctrine suited to policy 
nnd temporal ends ; and it is supported by worldly greatness. Arid 
.then as to holiness, which is the genuine product of a religion, the true 
genuine holiness is to be found, or should be found according to their 


principles, among Protestants and reformed ; not external mortifica 
tion, but in purging the heart. And here is the true peace of con 
science, while men are directed to look to Christ's reconciling and re 
newing grace, and not to seek their acceptance in the merit of their 
own works, and voluntary penance and satisfactions, and many other 
doctrines which put the conscience upon the rack. And then all this 
is submitted to be tried by the scriptures, which apparently are 
acknowledged by them to be the word, without running to unwritten 
traditions and the authority of men. Again, all this is recommended 
with the special presence of God as to gifts and graces, blessing these 
churches continually more and more. Therefore, if ever a man will find 
rest for his soul, and be soundly quiet within himself, here he must 
fix and choose, and take up the way of truth. Popery is but heathen 
ism disguised with a Christian name : their penal satisfactions are like 
the gashing and lancing of Baal's priests ; their mediators of interces 
sion are like the doctrines of demons among the Gentiles, for they had 
their middle powers, glorified heroes ; their holy water suits with the 
heathen lustrations ; their costly offerings to their images answer to 
the sacrifices and oblations to appease their gods, which the idolaters 
would give for the sin of their souls ; adoring their relics is like the 
respects the heathens had to their departed heroes ; and as they had 
their tutelar gods for every city, so these their saints for every city 
and nation ; their St Sebastian for the pestilence, their Apollonia for 
the toothache, and the like. It is easy to rake in this dirt. It was 
not for the devil's interest, when the ensign of the gospel was lifted 
up, to draw men to downright heathenism ; therefore he did more 
secretly mingle the customs and superstitions of the Gentiles with the 
food of life, like poison conveyed in perfume, that the souls of men 
might be more infected, alienated, and drawn from God. Popery 
doth not only add to the true religion, but destroys it, and is contrary 
to it. Let any considering man, that is not prejudiced, compare the 
face of the Roman synagogue with the beauty of the reformed 
churches, and they will see where Christianity lies. There you will 
find another sacrifice for expiation of sin than the death of Christ ; 
the communion of the cup, so expressly commanded in the word of 
God, taken away from the people ; reading the scriptures forbidden to 
laics, as if the word of God were a dangerous book ; prayers in an un 
known language ; images set up, and so they are guilty, if not of 
primitive idolatry (which all the water in the sea cannot wash them 
clear of), yet certainly of secondary idolatry, which is the setting up an 
idol in God's worship contrary to the second commandment, the image 
of the invisible God represented by stones and pictures ; invocation of 
saints and angels allowed ; the doctrine of transubstantiation, contrary 
to the end of the sacrament ; works of supererogation ; popes' par 
dons ; purgatory for faults already committed, as if Christ had not 
already satisfied ; papal infallibility, not only contrary to faith, but 
sense and reason ; their ridiculous mass and ceremonies ; and many 
such human inventions, besides the word and against it. But the 
Protestants are contented with the simplicity of the scriptures, the 
word of God, and the true sacraments of Christ. Therefore you see 
what is the way of truth we should stick to. 

VER. 30.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 301 

Prop. 8. That in the private differences among the professors of 
the reformed Protestant religion, a man is to choose the best way, but 
to hold charity towards dissenters. In the true church, in matters of 
lesser moment, there may be sundry differences ; for until men have 
the same degree of light, it cannot be expected they should be all of a 
mind. Babes will think one thing, grown persons will have other 
apprehensions ; sick persons will have their frenzies and doubtings, 
which the sound cannot like. The apostle's rule is, Phil. iii. 15, 16, 
* Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded ; and if in 
anything ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto 
you,' &c. There are two parts of that rule. The perfect must be thus 
minded ; they that are fully instructed in the mind of God, they must 
practise as they believe. Strings in tune must not be brought down 
to those that are out of tune. But if others tainted with error do not 
give a thorough assent to all divine truth, yet let us walk together, 
saith the apostle, so far as we are agreed. God, that hath begun to 
enlighten them in other things, will in time discover their mistakes. 
Thus far the true Christian charity takes place. This should be our 
rule. Here we are agreed in the Christian reformed religion, and in 
all the points of it ; let us walk together so far, and in lesser differ 
ences let us bear with and forbear one another in love. I speak now 
of Christian toleration ; for the magistrate's toleration and forbearance, 
how far he is to interpose, that is another case : Eph. iv. 2, * With all 
lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering forbearing one another in 
love.' What is bearing with one another ? Not conniving at their 
sin, or neglecting ways to reclaim them ; or forbear our profession 
when God calls us to it they are great cases how far profession may 
be suspended, and how far it may be carried on but to restore them 
with meekness ; to own them in those things wherein they are owned 
by God ; not to practise that antichristian humour which is now gotten 
into Protestantism, of unchurching, unministering, unchristianising one 
another, but to own one another in all those things wherein we are 
agreed, without imposing or censuring ; not rending into factions, not 
endeavouring to destroy all, that we may promote the particular in 
terest of one party to the prejudice of the whole ; but walking under 
one common rule. And if others shall prove peevish, and if angry 
brethren shall call us bastards, and disclaim us as not belonging to the 
same father, we ought not to reject them, but still call them brethren ; 
if they will not join with us we cannot help it, yet they are brethren 
notwithstanding that disclaim ; and how pettishly and frowardly soever 
they carry themselves in their differences, a good Christian should take 
up this resolution (their tongue is not Christ's fan to purge his floor), 
though they may condemn things which Christ will own, to bear their 
reproofs, and love them still ; for the iniquity of their carriage doth 
not take away our obligation to them. As in the relation of inferiors, 
we are bound to be obedient to the froward as well as to the gentle 
parents and masters ; so in the duties that are to pass between equals, 
we are to bear with the froward and to overcome their inclinations. 
For though we have corruptions that are apt to alienate us, and will 
put us upon furious passions, uncomely heats and divisions, yet God 
forbid we should omit any part of our duty to them, for uncharitable 
brethren are brethren still. 



I have chosen the way of truth : thy judgments have I laid before 
me. VEK. 30. 

I come now to answer an objection which may be made. 

Object. But if you be so earnest to maintain unity among your own 
sects, why do you separate from the Papists, who are Christians as 
well as you, and own many things of Christianity wherein you may 
agree with them ? 

I answer In the general, certainly the separation of one Christian, 
from another is a great evil, which should be carefully avoided ; and 
if walls of separation be set up by others, yet we must do what in us 
lies to demolish them. They do no service to Christ that make sepa 
rations needlessly, when as much as is possible there should be a union 
and coalition between Christians. Now, what shall we say to this 
separation from Borne, who were in the possession of a Christianity ? 
I tell you, this bugbear needs not fright jis out of the good way, if we 
can but clear three things to you. 

1. That as to the rise, it was neither unjust nor unnecessary. 

2. As to the manner of it, it was not made rashly and lightly, but 
as became them that had a serious sense of the interest of Christ and 
of his church in the world. 

3. As to the continuance of this separation, that if it were made 
upon good grounds, and the same grounds still continue, certainly we 
have no cause to revert and return back ; the Eoman synagogue not 
being grown better, but much worse, since the first breach. 

If all these can be proved, there is no reason to complain of our 

First, That this separation was neither unjust nor unnecessary. It 
is unjust if it be made without a cause : it is unnecessary if it be 
made without a sufficient cause, or such a cause as may warrant so- 
great a breach in the Christian world. Certain it is that the schism 
lieth not in the separation, but the cause ; and so is not chargeable on 
those that make the separation, but on those that give the cause. So 
that if we would examine whether the separation be good, I think we 
must examine the causes of it; therefore let us a little consider this very 
thing. Certainly the cause was not unjust; there was a cause (I shall 
show that by and by) ; and that it was not unnecessary, without a 
sufficient cause, and so no way culpable. 

The business is, whether the controversies be of such moment as 
that there should be such a breach among Christians that we and they 
should keep such a distance (I speak only to the sufficiency of the 
cause, the justness we shall see by and by). Of what moment 
soever the controversies were, if the things that are taken to be 
errors be imposed as a condition of communion, a Christian cannot 
join himself with them. Certainly it is no sin to abstain from the 
communion of any church on earth, where the conditions of its com 
munion are apparently unlawful and against conscience, though it ma,y 
be the matters in debate be not of great moment. I only speak pro- 

VER. 30.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 303 

visionally, be they or be they not of moment, yet if these be propounded 
as conditions of its communion ; for no man is necessitated to sin. 
In some cases it is lawful to withdraw out of a place for fear of danger 
and infection ; as if a house or town be infected with the pestilence, it 
is but a necessary caution to look to ourselves betimes, and withdraw 
out of that house or town. 

But now when no men are permitted to tarry but those that are 
infected with the disease, the case is out of dispute ; the sound must 
be gone, and withdraw from them by all the means they can. Now, 
such are the corruptions of Popery, and the danger of seducement so 
manifest, that 'little children are by all means to keep themselves 
from idols,' 1 John v. 21. We should be very cautious and wary of 
that communion wherein there is so much hazard of salvation, if pos 
sible ; we should keep ourselves untainted. But when we are bound 
to the belief, practice, profession of those errors, there needs no more 
debate ; a Christian must be gone, else he will sin against conscience. 
Now this is the case clearly between them and us. Suppose the cor 
ruptions were not great, nor the errors damnable, yet when the profes 
sion of them is required, and the belief of them as certain truths is 
imposed, we are to endure all manner of extremity rather than yield 
to them. Therefore much more when it is easy to be proved that 
they are manifest and momentous corruptions. Therefore certainly to 
leave the communion of the popish faction is but to return to our 
union and communion with Christ; it can be no fault to leave them 
that left Christ, and the ancient faith and church. The innocent hus 
band that leaves the adulterous wife is not to be blamed, for she had 
first broken the bonds, and violated the rights of the conjugal relation. 
Or, a good citizen and soldier are not to be blamed in forsaking their 
governor and captain, who first revolted from his allegiance to his 
prince, ay, and when he would engage them in the same rebellion 

Secondly, As to the management of it, or the manner how it was 
carried on. It was not made rashly and lightly, without trying all 
good means, and offering to have their complaints debated in a free 
council ; in the meantime continuing in their station, and managing 
the cause of Christ with meek but yet zealous defences, until they were 
driven thence by antichristian fury for blowing the trumpet, and 
warning the church of her danger from that corrupt party ; until per 
secuted by censures not only ecclesiastical but civil ; cast out of the 
church, put to death, some for witnessing against, others merely for 
not owning and practising, these corruptions ; and hunted out from 
their corners, where they were willing to hide, and worship God in 
secret, with all rigour and tyranny ; driven first out of the church, 
then out of the world by fire and sword, unless they would com 
municate with them in their sin : thus were they used. So that the 
Romanists cannot charge the Protestants with schism for leaving their 
communion, any more than a man that thrusteth another out of doors 
can be offended at his departure. Yea, when the reformed did set up 
other churches, it was after all hopes of reformation were lost and 
defeated ; and the princes, magistrates, pastors, and people were 
grown into a multitude, and did in great numbers run to the banner 


which God had displayed because of his truth, and so could not in 
conscience and spiritual safety live without the means of grace and the 
benefit of ordinances and church -societies, lest they should be scat 
tered as sheep without a shepherd, and become a ready prey to Satan. 

And then this separation, which was so necessary, was carried on 
with love and pity, and with great distinction between the corrup 
tions from which they separated, and the persons from whom they 
separated ; and they had the same affection to them, and carried it all 
along just as those that are freed from Turkish slavery, and have broke 
prison, and invited the other Christian captives to second them. It 
may be they have not the heart and courage to venture with them ; 
though they leave them fast in their enemies' chains, and will not 
return to their company, they cease not to love and pity them, though 
it were long, of their fear they did not enjoy the like liberty them 

Thirdly, As to the continuance of this separation. It was made 
upon good grounds, and it is still to be continued upon the same 
grounds. The Roman Church is not grown better, but worse ; and 
that which was before but mere practice and custom is since estab 
lished by law and canon, and they have ratified and owned their errors 
in the Council of Trent. And now Antichrist is more discovered, and 
God hath multiplied and reformed the churches, and blessed them 
with his gifts and graces, and the conversion of many souls, surely we 
should not now grow weary of our profession, as if novelty only led us 
to make this opposition. If we shall think so slightly of all the truths 
of God and blood of the martyrs, and all this ado to bring things to 
this pass, that Christ may gain ground, and we should tamely give up 
our cause at last, as some have done implicitly, and others shrink, and 
let the Papists carry it quietly, it is such wickedness as will be the 
brand and eternal infamy of this generation. If Hagar the bond 
woman, that hath been cast out, should return again, and vaunt it 
over Sarah the lawful wife, the mischiefs that would follow are un 
speakable. God permitted it to be so for a while in Queen Mary's 
days ; and what precious blood was shed during that time we all know ; 
and shall we again return to the garlic and onions of Egypt, as being 
weary of the distractions of the wilderness, and expose the interest of 
Christ, merely for our temporal good, which we cannot be secured of 
either? Therefore, since this separation was not unjust, without 
cause, nor unnecessary, without sufficient cause, and since it was 
carried on with so much meekness and Christian lenity, and since 
Borne is not grown better, but worse rather, surely we have no reason 
to be stumbled at for our departure from that apostatical church. 

In short, this separation was not culpable ; it came not from error 
of mind : ' They went out from us, but they were not of us,' 1 John ii. 
19. Not from corruption in manners : ' These are those that separate 
themselves, sensual, not having the Spirit,' Jude 19. Not from strife 
and contention, like those separations at Corinth, where ' one was of 
Paul, another of Apollos,' &c., 1 Cor. i. 12 ; not from pride and 
censoriousness, like those that said, ' Stand farther off; I am holier 
than thou,' Isa. Ixv. 5. Not from coldness and tergiversation, as those 
that 'forsook the assembling of themselves together/ because they 

VEE. 30.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 305 

were in danger of this kind of Christianity, Heb. x. 25. But from 
conscience ; and this not so much from the Christians, as from the 
errors of Christians ; from the corruptions, rather than the corrupted. 
There is no reason we should be frightened with this suggestion. 

But now, because that separation is good or evil according to the 
causes of it, let us a little consider the state of Rome when God first 
summoned his people to come out of this spiritual Babylon ; and if it 
be the same still, there is no cause to retract the change. 

The state of it may be considered either as to its government, doc 
trine, or worship ; the tyranny of their discipline and government, the 
heresy of their doctrine, and the idolatry of their worship. And if our 
fathers could not, and if we cannot, have communion with them with 
out partaking of their sin, it is certain the separation was and is still 

First, As to their government. Three things are matter of just 
offence to the reformed churches : 

1. The universality or vast extent and largeness of that dominion 
and empire which they arrogate. 

2. The supremacy and absolute authority which they challenge. 

3. The infallibility which they pretend unto. 

And if there were nothing else but a requiring a submission to these 
things, so false, so contrary to the tenor and interest of Christianity, 
this were ground enough of separation. 

1. The universality of headship over all other churches, this the 
people of God neither could nor ought to endure. 

Suppose the Roman Church were sound in faith, in manners, in dis 
cipline ; yet, being but a particular church, that it should challenge 
such a right to itself, in giving laws to all other churches at its own 
pleasure, and that every particular society which doth not depend upon 
her beck in all things should be excluded from hope of salvation, or 
not counted a fellow-church in the communion of the Christian faith, 
this is a thing that cannot be endured. 

That the Pope, as to the extent of his government and administra 
tion, should be universal bishop, whose empire should reach far and 
near throughout the world, as far as the church of Christ reacheth ; 
this, as to matter of fact is impossible ; as to matter of right, is sacri 
legious. As to matter of fact it is impossible, because of the variety 
of governments and different interests under covert of which the par 
ticular churches of Christ find shelter and protection in all the places 
of their dispersion ; and therefore to establish such an empire, that 
shall be so pernicious to the churches of Christ which are harboured 
abroad, is very grievous ; and partly by reason of the multitude and 
diversity of those things that belong to governments, which is a power 
too great for any created understanding to wield. As to matter of 
right, it is sacrilegious ; for Christ never instituted any such universal 
vicar as necessary to the unity of his church. But here was one Lord 
Jesus, and one God, and one faith, but never in union under one pope. 
And therefore we see, in temporal government, God hath distributed 
it into many hands, because he would not subject the whole world unto 
one, as neither able to manage the affairs thereof, nor brook the majesty 
of so large an empire with that meekness and moderation as becomes 



a creature. It is too much for mere man to bear. Now religious 
concernments are more difficult than civil, by reason of the imperfec 
tion of light about them ; and it would easily degenerate into super 
stition and idolatry ; therefore certainly none but a God is able to be 
head of the church. 

2. The authority of making laws. Consider it either as to matter 
or form, the matter about which it is exercised, or the authority itself ; 
their intolerable boldness and proud ambition is discovered in either. 
As to the matter about which this power is exercised, for temporal 
things, God hath committed them to the care of the magistrate ; and 
it is an intrusion of his right for the Pope to take upon himself to in 
terpose in civil things, to dispose of states and kingdoms ; a power 
which Christ refused : ' Man, who made me a judge over you ? ' Luke 
xii. 14. As to matter of religion, some things are in their own nature 
good and some evil ; some things of a middle nature and indifferent. 
As to the first, God hath established them by his laws ; as to the other y 
they are left to arbitrament, to abstain and use for edification, accord 
ing to the various postures and circumstances of times, places, and 
persons, but so that we should never take from any believer, or suffer 
to be taken from him, that liberty which Christ hath purchased for us 
by his blood. It is a licentious abuse of power not to be endured. 
We are to ' stand fast in that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us 
free/ Gal. v. 1. The apostle mainly intends it of the observance of 
the ceremonial law, which was a bondage, because of the trouble and 
expense. Oh ! but then the price wherewith Christ bought our free 
dom should make us more chary of it, and stand in the defence of it 
with greater courage and constancy, whatever it cost us. The captain 
told Paul that his liberty as a Roman was ' obtained with a great sum/ 
Acts xxii. 28. Now, the court of Rome doth challenge such a power, 
that it commandeth and forbiddeth those things which God hath left 
free, as distinction of days, meats, marriage, according to their own 
pleasure, 1 Tim. iv. 3 ; nay, sometimes dispenseth with that which 
God hath expressly commanded or forbidden ; and then what doth it 
but make him equal with God, yea, superior to him ? That physician 
possibly may be borne with that doth only burden his patient with 
some needless prescriptions, if for the main he be but faithful ; but if 
he should mingle poison with his medicaments, and also still tire out 
his patient with new prescriptions, that are altogether troublesome, 
and costly, and nauseous, and for the number of them dangerous to 
life, it behoveth his patient to look to his health. And this is the very 
case. The Pope doth sometimes make bold with dispensing with God's 
laws, and doth extinguish and choke Christian religion by thousands 
of impositions of indifferent things, which is not to be endured. 

And then as to the authority itself ; according to the eminency of 
the lawgiver, so is his authority more or less absolute. Therefore when 
a mortal man shall challenge an authority so absolute as to be above 
control, and to give no account of his actions, and it is not lawful to 
say to him, What doest thou ? or inquire into the reason, or complain 
of the injury, this is that which the churches of Christ cannot endure. 
Therefore they had just ground and cause of withdrawing, and mak 
ing up a body by themselves, rather than yield to so great encroach- 

VER. 30.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 307 

inents upon Christian liberty; to receive the decrees of one church, 
and that so erroneous and imposing, without examination or leave of 

3. That which grieveth, and did grieve, and cause this withdrawing, 
is both papal infallibility and freedom from error. That any church 
which is made up of fallible men should arrogate this to themselves 
(especially the Koman, which of all churches that ever Christ had 
upon earth is most corrupt), that they should fasten this infallibility 
to the papal chair, which is the fountain of those corruptions, this 
they look upon as a great contradiction, not only to faith, but to sense ; 
and as hard a condition as if I were bound, when 1 saw a man sick 
of the plague, and the swelling and tokens of death upon him, yet to 
say he is immortal, nay, that that part wherein the disease is seated is 
immortal. This was the burden that was imposed upon the people of