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










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

JAMES BEGG, 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. 











SERMON LIIL "And I will delight myself in thy command 
ments, which I have loved," ver. 47, . 

LIV. " My hands also will I lift up to thy command 
ments, which I have loved ; and I will medi 
tate in thy statutes," ver. 48, . . .12 

v LV. "Kemember thy word unto thy servant, upon 

which thou hast caused me to hope," ver. 49, . 20 

LVI. " This is my comfort in my affliction ; for thy 

word hath quickened me," ver. 50, . . 28 

LVIL " The proud have had me greatly in derision j yet 

have I not declined from thy law," ver. 51, . 39 

LV1IL " I have remembered thy judgments of old, 

Lord ; and have comforted myself," ver. 52, . 47 

LIX. " Horror hath taken hold on me, because of the 

wicked which forsake thy law," ver. 53, . 56 

LX. " Thy statutes have been my songs in the house 

of my pilgrimage," ver. 54, . .64 

LXI. " I have remembered thy name, Lord, in the 

night, and have kept thy law," ver. 55, . 76 

LXIL " I have remembered thy name, Lord, in the 

night, and have kept thy law," ver. 55, . 87 

LXIII. " This I had, because I kept thy precepts," ver. 56, 95 

LXIV. " Thou art my portion, Lord : I have said that 

I would keep thy words," ver. 57, . 105 

VOL. VlL " 



LXV. " I entreated thy favour with my whole heart : 
be merciful unto me according to thy 
word," ver. 58, . . . .118 

n LXVI. " I thought on my ways, and turned my 

feet unto thy testimonies," ver. 59, . 125 

w LXVII. " I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy 

commandments," ver. 60, . .135 

LXVIII. " I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy 

commandments," ver. 60, . .144 

LXIX. "The bands of the wicked have robbed 

me : but I have not forgotten thy law," 
ver. 61, . . . . . 152 

LXX. " At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto 

thee, because of thy righteous judg 
ments," ver. 62, . . . 160> 

yy LXXI. " I am a companion of all them that fear 

thee, and of them that keep thy pre 
cepts," ver. 63, . . . .171 

LXXII. "The earth, Lord, is full of thy glory : teach 

me thy statutes," ver. 64, . . 183- 

LXXIII. " Thou hast dealt well with thy servant, 

Lord, according to thy word," ver. 65, . 192 

LXXIV. " Teach me good judgment and knowledge : 

for I have believed thy commandments," 
ver. 66, . . . . . 203- 

LXXV. " For I have believed thy commandments," 

ver. 66, . . . . . 212 

LXXVI. " Before I was afflicted I went astray ; but 

now I have kept thy word," ver. 67, . 222 

LXXVII. " Thou art good, and doest good : teach me 

thy statutes," ver. 68, . . . 235 

LXXVIII. "Teach me thy statutes," ver. 68, . . 246- 

LXXIX. "It is good for me that I have been af 

flicted ; that I might learn thy statutes," 
ver, 71, . . . . .251 

LXXX. " The law of thy mouth is better to me than 

thousands of gold and silver," ver. 72, 261 



SERMON LXXXL " Thine hands have made me and fashioned 
me : give me understanding, that I may 
learn thy commandments," ver. 73, . 270 

LXXXIL " They that fear thee will be glad when they 
see me; because I have hoped in thy 
word," ver. 74, . . . . 280 

LXXXIII. "I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are 
right, and that in faithfulness thou hast 
afflicted me," ver. 75, . . . 288 

LXXXIV. " Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be 
for my comfort, according to thy word 
unto thy servant," ver. 76, . . 300 

LXXXV. " Let thy tender mercies come unto me, that 

I may live : for thy law is my delight," 
ver. 77, . . . .309 

LXXXVI. " Let the proud be ashamed ; for they dealt 
perversely with me without a cause : 
but I will meditate in thy precepts," 
ver. 78, . . . . . 322 

LXXXVII. " But I will meditate in thy precepts. Let 
those that fear thee turn unto me, and 
those that have known thy testimonies," 
ver. 78, 79, . . . 331 

LXXXVIIL " Let my heart be sound in thy statutes, that 

I be not ashamed," ver. 80, . . 339 

LXXXIX. " My soul fainteth for thy salvation ; but I 

hope in thy word," ver. 81, . . 349 

XC. " Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When 

wilt thou comfort me," ver. 82, .361 

XCI. " For I am become like a bottle in the smoke : 
yet do I not forget thy precepts," ver. 
83, 372 

XCII. " The proud have digged pits for me, which 

are not after thy law," ver. 85, . . 381 

XCIII. " For ever, Lord, thy word is settled in 

heaven," ver. 89, . . .391 

XCIV. " Thy word is settled in heaven," ver. 89, . 400 



SERMON XCV. " Thy faithfulness is unto all generations : 
thou hast established the earth, and it 
abideth," ver. 90, ... 407 

XCVL " They continue this day according to thine 

ordinances : for all are thy servants," 
ver. 91, .... 413 

y, XCVII. "Unless thy law had been my delights, I 

should then have perished in mine afflic 
tion," ver. 92, ..... 420 

>? XCVIII. " I will never forget thy precepts : for with 

them thou hast quickened me," ver. 93, 428 

XCIX. " I am thine, save me : for I have sought thy 

precepts," ver. 94, . . 442 

~ C. " I have seen an end of all perfection : but 

thy commandment is exceeding broad," 
ver. 96, .... 451 

97 CI. " Oh, how love I thy law ! it is my medita 

tion all the day," ver. 97, . .463 

OIL " Oh, how love I thy law ! " &c., ver. 97, . 472 

?? GUI. "Thou, through thy commandments, hast 

made me wiser than mine enemies ; for 
they are ever with me," ver. 98, . 482 






And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have 
loved. VER. 47. 


THE man of God is giving arguments to enforce his request that ' the 
word of truth might not be taken utterly out of his mouth.' 

1. He could not bear it, because all his hopes of felicity were built 
upon it, ver. 43. 

2. He promiseth constancy of obedience, ver. 44. 

3. Liberty of practice, ver. 45. 

4. Liberty of profession, not hindered by fear or shame, but should 
be borne out with confidence in that profession. 

5. He urgeth in the text with what delight he should carry on the 
work of obedience, ' And I will delight myself in thy commandments, 
which I have loved.' In which observe 

1. His great pleasure and contentment is asserted and professed, / 
u: ill delight myself. 

2. The object of it, in thy commandments. 

3. The fundamental reason or bottom cause of this delight, which 
I have loved. 

Doct. A gracious heart doth Jove and delight in the commandments 
of God : the godly are described by it. Hence David makes it the 
character of a blessed man : Ps. i. 2, ' His delight is in the law of the 
Lord, and in that law doth he meditate day and night. And Ps. cxii. 
1, 'Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, and delighteth greatly 
in his commandments.' Paul asserts of himself, as a comfortable 
evidence of his sincerity in the midst of his infirmities, Rom. vii. 22, 
' For I delight in the law of God after the inward man.' By ' the 
inward man' he means the renewed part, that is pleased with all 
things that please God, if we have such a delight as is above the 
delight of sense, <fec. I will 

1. Explain the point as it lieth here in the tact. 

2. Show how the heart is brought to this; for corrupt nature is 
otherwise affected. 


First, To explain the point. 

1. His pleasure and contentment is asserted, ' I will delight myself.' 
A Christian hath his joys and delights, but they are pure and chaste ; 
they delight in the Lord, and in his word and ways : Phil. iv. 4, ' Re 
joice in the Lord always ; and again I say, Rejoice.' He hath a liberty, 
d\\a pbvov Iv Kvpty, ' but only in the Lord/ 1 Cor. vii. 39 ; not only 
may, but must. It 'is his duty. Joy is a great part of his work ; not 
our felicity or wages only, but our work also. Now, I shall prove 
that all the pleasures and delights of the earth are nothing to the plea 
sures and delights which the godly do find in God and in a holy life. 

[1.] These delights are more substantial. It is not a superficial joy 
that they are delighted withal, but a substantial joy. It must needs 
be so, partly because these are better grounded, not built upon a 
mistake and fancy, but the highest warrant and surest foundation 
which mankind can build upon, the word of the eternal God, which 
can never fail ; whereas the joy that is merely built upon carnal de 
lights is built upon a fancy and mistake. Both are represented by 
the apostle : 1 John ii. 17, ' The world passeth away, and the lust 
thereof ; but he that doth the will of God abideth for ever.' If they 
considered the shortness of their pleasures, and in what a doleful case 
their wealth, and honour, and fleshly delights will leave them, they 
would have little list to be merry till they had looked after a more 
stable blessedness. The world will be soon gone, and the lust and gust 
thereof gone also ; but he that goeth on with the work of holiness, 
building on the promise of another world, layeth a sure foundation. 
Partly because they do more intimately affect the soul. Sensual de 
lights do not go so deep as the delights of holiness : Ps. iv. 7, ' Thou 
hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time when their corn 
and their wine increased ; ' like a soaking shower that goeth to the 
root. The other tickleth the senses ; poor, slight, and outside com 
forts, that do not fortify the heart against distresses, much less against 
the remembrance of our judge, or the fears of an offended God, or the 
serious thoughts of another world. For these two reasons, the joys of 
a Christian, stirred up in him by the conformity of his will to the will 
of God, are solid, substantial joys. A wicked man may be jocund 
and jovial, but he hath not the true delight ; he may have more 
mirth, but the Christian hath the true joy : ' In the midst of mirth 
the heart is sorrowful.' It is easy to be merry, but it is not easy to be 
joyful, or to get a substantial delight. 

[2.] These delights are more perfective ; a man is the better for them. 
Other delights, that please the flesh, feed corruption, but these corro 
borate and strengthen graces. They are so far from disordering the 
mind, and leading us to sin, that they compose and purify the mind, 
and make sin more odious, and fortify us against the baits of sense, 
which are the occasion of all the sin in the world. All our joy is to be 
considered with respect to its use and profit : Eccles. ii. 2, ' I said of 
laughter, It is mad ; and of mirth, What doth it ? ' The more a man 
delighteth in God, and in the ways of God, the more he cleaveth to 
him, and resolveth to go on in this course, and temptations to sensual 
delights do less prevail ; for, ' the joy of the Lord is our strength.' 
The safety of the spiritual life lieth in the keeping up our joy and de- 


light in it : Heb. iii. 6, ' Whose house are we, if we hold fast the con 
fidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end ; ' Isa. Ixiv. 5, 
' Thou meetest him who rejoiceth and worketh righteousness.' But 
now carnal delights intoxicate the mind, and fill it with vanity and 
folly. The sensitive lure hath more power over us to draw into 
the slavery of sin : Titus iii. 3, ' For we ourselves were also foolish, 
deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures.' Surely then the healing 
delights should be preferred before the killing, wounding pleasures that 
so often prove a snare to us. 

2. The object is to be considered, * Thy commandments.' Here ob 

[1.] David did not place his delight in folly or filthiness, as they do 
that glory in their shame, or delight in sin, and give contentment to 
the lusts of the flesh ; as the apostle speaks of some that ' sport them 
selves in their own deceivings,' 2 Peter ii. 13 ; that do not only live in 
sin, but make a sport of it, beguiling their own hearts with ground 
less apprehensions that there is no such evil and hazard therein as 
the word declareth and conscience sometimes suggesteth ; they are be 
holden to their sottish error and delusion for their mirth. Neither did 
he place his delight in temporal trifles, the honours, and pleasures, and 
profits of the world, as brutish worldlings do ; but in the word of God, as 
the seed of the new life, the rule of his conversation, the charter of his 
hopes ; that blessed word by which his heart might be renewed and 
sanctified, his conscience settled, his mind acquainted with his Creator's 
will, and his affections raised to the hopes of glory. The matter which 
feedeth our pleasures showeth the excellency or baseness of it. If, like 
beetles, we delight in a dunghill rather than a garden, or the paradise 
of God's word, it shows a base, mean spirit, as swine in wallowing in 
the mire, or dogs to eat their own vomit. Our temper and inclination 
is known by our complacency or displacency : Rom. vii. 5, ' For when 
we were in the flesh, the motions of sin which were by the law did 
work in our members, to bring forth fruit unto death.' Therefore see 
which your hearts carry you to to the world or the word of God. 
The most part of the world are carried to the pleasures of sense, and 
mastered by them ; but a divine spirit or nature put into us makes us 
look after other things : 2 Peter i. 4, ' Whereby are given unto us ex 
ceeding great and precious promises/ even of the great blessings of the 
new covenant, such as pardon of sin, eternal life, &c. 

[2.] Not only in the promissory, but mandatory part of the word. 
Commandments is the notion in the text. There is matter of great 
joy contained in the promises, but they must not be looked upon as 
exclusive of the precepts, but inclusive. Promises are spoken of Ps. 
cxix. Ill, ' Thy testimonies have I taken as a heritage for ever, for 
they are the rejoicing of my heart.' They contain spiritual and 
heavenly riches, and so are matter of joy to a believing soul. But the 
commandments call for duty on our parts. The precepts appoint us a 
pleasant work, show us what is to be done and left undone. These 
restraints are grateful to the new nature, for the compliance of the will 
with the will of God, and its conformity to his law, hath a pleasure an 
nexed to it. A renewed soul would be subject to God in all things, there 
fore delights in his commandments without limitation or distinction. 


[3.] It is not in the study or contemplation of the justice and equity 
of these commandments, but in the obedience and practice of them 
There is a pleasure in the study and contemplation, for every truth 
breedeth a delectation in the mind: Ps. xix. 8, ' The statutes of the 
Lord are right, rejoicing the soul.' It is a blessed and pleasant 
thing to have a sure rule commending itself with great evidence to 
our consciences, and manifesting itself to be of God. Therefore the 
sight of the purity and certainty of the word of God is a great pleasure 
to any considering mind ; no other study to be compared with it But 
the joy of speculation or contemplation is nothing to that of practice 
Nothing maketh the heart more cheerful than a good conscience or a 
constant walking in the way of God's commandments : 2 Cor i 12 
Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that, with sim 
plicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace 
of God, 1 have had my conversation in the world.' Let me give you 
this gradation : The pleasures of contemplation exceed those of sense 
and the delights of the mind are more sincere and real than those of the 
body ; for the more noble the faculty is, the more capable of delight 
A man m his study about natural things hath a truer pleasure than 
;he greatest epicure m the most exquisite enjoyment of sense : 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 ; then there shall be 
a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.' But especially 
the contemplation of divine things is pleasant ; the objects are more 
sublime certain, necessary, profitable ; and here we are more deeply 
concerned than m the study of nature. Surely this is sweeter than 
honey and honeycomb, to understand and contemplate the way of 
salvation by Christ This is a heaven upon earth to know these 
things : John xvn 3, ' This is life eternal, to know thee the only true 
God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.' As much as the plea 
sures of the natural mind do exceed these bodily pleasures, so much 
do these pleasures of faith and spiritual knowledge exceed those of the 
natural mind ; these things the angels desire to pry into. Now the de 
lights of practical obedience do far exceed those which are the mere re 
sult of speculation and contemplation. Why ? Because they give us 
a more intimate feeling of the truth and worth of these things and 
our.nght in them thereby is more secured, and our delight in them is 
lightened by the supernatural operation of the Holy Ghost The 
joy of the Spirit is said to be ' unspeakable and full of glory' 1 Peter 
i. 8. In short, it is exercised about noble objects, the favour of God re 
conciliation with him, and the hope of eternal life-all these as belon- 
mg to us ; and it is excited by a higher cause, the Spirit of God; and 
lastly, it giveth us a sense of what we had but a guess before: we 
jcnow the grace of God m truth,' Col. i. 6; we know it so as to taste 

<W1 . T , he T { undamental or bottom cause of this delight is expressed 

vy i have loved.' There is a precedent love of the object before 

beie can be any dehght in it Love is the complacency and propen- 

i ol the soul toward that which is good, absolutely considered ab- 

ng both from presence and absence. Desire regardeth the 


absence and futurition of a good ; delight the presence and fruition of 
it. It is impossible anything can be delighted in, but it must be first 
loved and desired. None can truly delight in obedience but such as 
desire it. By nature we were otherwise affected, counted his commands 
burdensome, because contrary to the desires of the flesh : Rom. viii. 7, 
' The carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the 
law of God, neither indeed can be.' But when the heart is renewed 
by grace, then we have another love and another bias upon our affec 
tions : 1 John v. 3, ' This is love, to keep his commandments ; and his 
commandments are not grievous.' To others they are against the bent 
and the hair, and too tedious, and love maketh way for delight. 

Secondly, Reasons why a gracious heart doth love and delight in 
the commandments of God. 

1. The matter of these commandments showeth how much they 
deserve our love and delight. The matter respects either law or gospel. 
(1.) That which is strictly called the moral law is the decalogue; a 
fit rule for a wise God to give, or a rational creature to receive, a just 
and due admeasurement of our duty to God and man: the world 
cannot be without it. To God, that we should love him, serve him, 
depend upon him, delight in him, that we may be at length happy in 
his love. ' The law is holy r just, and good ;' not burdensome to the 
reasonable nature, but perfective. Surely to know God, to love him, 
and fear him, and trust and repose our souls on him, and to worship 
him at the time, in the way, and manner appointed, is a delightful 
thing, and should be more delightful to us than our necessary and 
appointed food. To man, justice, charity : Micah vi. 8, ' He hath 
showed thee, man, what is good ; and what doth the Lord require 
of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy ;' Hosea xii. 6, ' Keep 
mercy and judgment.' Now all kinds of justice should not be grievous. 
Political justice, between the magistrates and people. How should 
we live else ? This maintained! the order of the world. Private 
justice, between man and man : Mat. vii. 12, ' Therefore all things 
whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.' 
Family justice, between husband and wife, parents and children, 
masters and servants. How else can a man have any tolerable degree 
of safety and comfort ? 1 Peter iii. 7, ' Likewise, ye husbands, dwell 
with them according to knowledge.' Then for mercy, there is not a 
pleasanter work in the world than to do good ; it is God -like. A man 
is as an earthly god, to comfort and supply others : Acts xx. 35, ' It is 
a more blessed thing to give than to receive/ And blessedness is not 
tedious ; the work rewards itself. The satisfaction is so great of doing 
good, and being helpful to others, that certainly this is not tedious. 
(2.) The gospel offereth such a suitable remedy to mankind that the 
duties of it should be as pleasant and welcome to us as the counsel of 
a friend for our recovery out of a great misery into which we had 
plunged ourselves. In the law, God acteth more as a commander and 
governor ; in the gospel, as a friend and counsellor. Surely to those 
that have any feeling of their sins, or fears of the wrath of God, what 
can be more welcome than the way of a pardon and reconciliation 
with God, whom his word and providence, and the fears of a guilty 
conscience, represent as an enemy to us ? Surely this should be more 


pleasant than all the lust, sport, and honours, and pleasures of the 
world. Here is the foundation laid of everlasting joy, a sufficient 
answer to the terrors of the law, and the accusations of a guilty con 
science, which is the greatest misery can befall mankind. In short, 
that the matter of God's commands deserves our delight and esteem 
is evident : 

[1.] Because those that are unwilling to submit to them count them 
good and acceptable laws. When their particular practice and sinful 
customs have made them incompetent judges of what is fittest for 
themselves in their health and strength, yet their conscience judgeth 
it a more excellent and honourable thing in others if they can deny 
the pleasures of the flesh, and overcome the temptations of the world, 
and deny themselves the comforts of the present life, out of the hopes 
of that which is to come. Such are accounted a more excellent and 
better sort of men : Prov. xii. 26, ' The righteous is more excellent 
than his neighbour ;' he hath more of God and of a man than others, 
as he hath a freer use of reason, and a greater command of his own 
lusts and passions. There is a reverence of such darted into the con 
sciences of wicked men : Mark vi. 20, ' Herod feared John, knowing 
that he was a just and holy man, and observed him.' 

[2.] Because of the sentiments which men have of a holy, sober, 
godly life, when they come to die, and the disallowance of a dissolute 
carnal life : Job xxvii. 8, ' What is the hope of the hypocrite, though 
he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?' Ps. xxxvii. 37, 
1 Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright ; for the end of that 
man is peace/ When men are entering upon the confines of eternity, 
they are wiser ; the fumes of lust are then blown over, their joys or 
fears are then testimonies to God's law : 1 Cor. xv. 56, ' The sting of 
death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law/ It is not fromthe 
fancy or melancholy of the dying person, nor his distemper, that his 
fears are awakened, but his reason. If it did only proceed from his 
distemper, men would be rather troubled for leaving worldly comforts 
than for sin. No ; it is the apprehension of God's justice by reason of sin, 
who will proceed according to his law, which 'the guilty person hath 
so often and so much violated and broken. They are not the ravings 
of a fever, nor the fruits of natural weakness and credulity. No^ 
these troubles are justified by the law of God or the highest reason. 

[3.] By supposing the contrary of all which God hath commanded 
concerning the embracing of virtue, shunning of vice. If God should 
free us from these laws, leave us to our own choice, command us the 
contrary, forbid us all respect to himself, commanding us to worship 
false gods, transform and misrepresent his glory by images, and fall 
down before stocks and stones, blaspheme his name continually, and 
despise all those glorious attributes which do so clearly shine forth in 
the creation ; if he had commanded us to be impious to our parents, 
to fill the world with murders, adulteries, robberies, to pursue others 
with slanders and false- witnessings, to covet and take what is another 
man's, wife, ox, or ass, the heart of man cannot allow such a conceit ; 
nay, the fiercest beasts would abhor it, if they were capable of receiv 
ing such an impression. Now, surely a law so reasonable, so evident, 
so conducing to the honouring of God, government of ourselves, and 


commerce with others, should be very welcome and acceptable to a 
gracious heart. 

2. The state and frame of a renewed heart; they are nt 
suited to these commandments, and do obey them not only because 
enjoined, but because inclined. Nothing is pleasant to men but what 
is suitable to their nature ; so that may be delightful to one which is 
loathsome to another ; as the food and converse of a beast is loathsome 
to a man ; one man's pleasure is another's pain. There is a great 
deal of difference between a carnal and a spiritual mind, the heart 
sanctified and unsanctified : Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27> ' I will take away 
the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh ; 
and I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my 
statutes, and keep my judgments to do them.' When the heart is 
fitted and suited by principles of grace, the work is not tedious, but 
delightful. Things are easy and difficult according to the poise and 
inclmation of the soul. So Heb. viii. 10, ' I will write my laws upon 
their hearts, and put them into their minds.' The law without suiteth 
with an inclination within ; and when things meet which are suitable 
to one another, there is a delight : Ps. xl. 8, ' Thy law is in my heart ; 
I delight to do thy will, God.' There is an inclination, not neces 
sary, as in natural agents ; but voluntary, as in rational agents. There 
is an inclination in natural agents, as in light bodies to move upwards, 
heavy bodies to move downwards; in rational agents, when a man is 
bent by his love and choice. This latter David speaketh of, Ps. cxix. 
36, ' Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.' 
Tlie heart of man standeth between two objects the laws of God and 
carnal vanities. In our natural estate we are wholly bent to please 
the flesh ; in our renewed estate there is a new bent put upon the heart. 
Now the old bent is not wholly gone, though overmastered and over 
powered: the false bias of corruption will still incline us to the- 
delights of sense ; but the new bias to the way everlasting, to spirit 
ual eternal happiness: as that prevaileth, we love and delight in the 
commandments of God. 

3. The helps and assistances of the Spirit go further, and increase 
this delight in the way of God's commandments. God doth not only 
renew our wills, and fit us with an inward power to do the things that 
are pleasing in his sight, but exciteth and actuateth that power by the 
renewed influences of his grace: Phil. ii. 13, ' He giveth us to will and 
to do ; ' not only a will, or an urging and inclination to do good ; but 
because of the opposition of the flesh and manifold temptations, he 
o-ives also a power to perform what we are inclined unto : ' Where the 
Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,' 2 Cor. iii. 17, or a readiness of 
mind to perform all things required of us, not only with diligence, but 

delight. . 

4. The great encouragements which attend obedience, as the rewar 
of godliness both in this life and the next. The rewards of godliness 
in this life I shall speak of in the next head ; for the future, the end 
sweetens the means to us. We have no mean end, but the eternal 
enjoyment of God in a complete state of glory and happiness. Now 
this hath an influence upon the love and delight of the saints, to 
sweeten their labours, and difficulties, and temptations. The scripture 


everywhere witnesseth : 1 Cor. xv. 58, ' Therefore, my beloved brethren, 
be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the 
Lord ; forasmuch as you know that your -labour is not in vain in the 
Lord ; ' Phil. ni. 14, ' I press towards the mark, for the prize of the 
high calling of God in Christ Jesus ;' Horn. v. 2, ' We rejoice in hope 
of the glory of God ;' and Eom. viii. 18, ' For I reckon that the suffer 
ings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory 
which shall be revealed in us.' 

5. Present comfortable experience. 

[1.] In the general, of peace of conscience and joy in the Holv 

(1.) Peace, which is the natural result of the rectitude of our 
actions : ' The fruit of righteousness is peace,' Isa. xxxii. 17; and Ps 

5*'}%L' ' , peace have they that love thv law ' and nothing shall 
offend them. Pax est tranquillitas ordinis. That description fits 
internal peace, as well as external. When all things keep their order 
affections are obedient to reason, and reason is guided by the Spirit of 
God according to his word, there is a quiet and rest from accusations 
m the soul. 

(2.) Joy in the Holy Ghost is distinct from the former: Horn xiv 
17, For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteous 
ness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' These two differ in the 
author. Peace of conscience is the testimony of our own souls approv 
ing the good we have done ; joy in the Holy Ghost is a more immediate 
impression of the comforting Spirit : Eom. xv. 13, ' Now the God of 
hope nil you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound 
m hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost/ They differ in their 
measure: peace is a rest from trouble; joy, a sweet reflection upon 
oui good condition or happy estate. It is in the body a freedom from 
.a disease, and a cheerfulness after a good meal ; or in the state, peace, 
when no mutinies and disturbances; joy, when some notable benefit 
or profit accrueth to the state So here they differ in their subjects. 
1 he heathen, so far as ttey did good, might have a kind of peace or 

edom from self-accusing and tormenting fears : Eom. ii. 15, ' Which 
show the work of the law written in their hearts ; their consciences also 
bearing witness, and their thoughts in the meantime excusing or else 

f n C ;"f in ? r , 0ne cf n0tier r but ' a stranger intermeddleth not with these 
^ . L e Spint, where a sanctifier, there he is a comforter. They 
differ m the ground. The joy of the Holy Ghost is not merely from 
a good conscience as to a particular action, but from a good estate as 
being accepted with God, who is our supreme judse, ?nd assured of 

HJSfe"*" ^ n - e - - They differ in effects - geace is an a pp'-- 

bation for the present ; joy in the Holy Ghost a pledge and beginriino- 
of that endless joy we shall have hereafter: 2 Cor. i. 22 'Who hath 

I I"" H 2 1 3' ' W SiVen ^ 6a T St ^ the S P irit in r hea '" ts ; ' a d 
ivoro vm. 23, We ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the 

t'n 6 r? Jf U T 6S , - Sr ar i Within rselve s> waiting for the adop- 

on to wit, the redemption of our body/ Both together show that 

tl ere is no such solid comfort as in the obedience of Ud's command- 

Srffrfc?**^ m . 0re j han in a11 the Pleasures of sin, yea, more than 
m all the enjoyments of the world : whoever have proved them both 

VER. 47.] SKRMOXS UPON PSALM cxix. 11 

find it so. Many have proved the pleasures of sin, but never yet 
found what comfort is in mourning for sin. Many have proved the 
comforts of the world, but never yet proved what is the joy of a good 
conscience, and the sweet pleasure of a godly conversation. 

[2.] There is a particular experience, when borne out in the confes 
sion of truth in the time of trial. A man that out of love to God's 
commands hath endured troubles and trials, and hath overcome 
temptations, will see more cause to love these commandments, and to 
increase his obedience to them, than ever before in ordinary tempta 
tions: Ps. xix. 11, ' Moreover, by them is thy servant warned, and in 
keeping of them there is a great reward.' When they see that divine 
truth is like to bear out itself, and man that doth confess it, in such 
cases, they feel the excellency of God's truth, and the power of God 
sustaining them that confess it, therefore embrace heartily the Lord's 
commands, and take pleasure in his ways. The Lord appealeth to 
this experience : Micah ii. 7, ' Do not my words do good to him that 
walketh uprightly ? ' Have not you found the fruit answerable ? 
Therefore the children of God value and esteem and look upon them 
4is the greatest means of their safety and comfort. 

6. Because of their love to God, they have a value for everything 
which cometh from God and leadeth to him. Common mercies point 
to their author, and their main end is to draw our affections to him, 
and enable us in his service ; but these are apt to be a snare, and are 
used as an occasion to the flesh. But here is a greater impression of 
God on his word and laws ; their use is more eminent to direct us to 
God, therefore are valued above ordinary comforts : Job xxiii. 12, ' I 
have not gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed 
the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.' They are his 
commandments, therefore dear to us, who hath obliged us so much in 
Christ, whose love they believe and have felt. The word is wholly 
appointed to maintain the life of grace in us. 

Use 1. Is to show us how to bring our hearts to the obedience of 
God's commands. 

1. Love them, if we would keep them. Nothing is hard to love. 
An esteem will quicken us to the obedience of them. 

2. Delight in them, for then all goeth on easily. Delight sweeteneth 
everything, though in themselves toilsome or tedious ; as fowling, 
hunting, fishing. Delight never mindeth difficulties. The reason why 
the commands are grievous is want of love and delight 

Use 2. Showeth of what kind our obedience must be free and un 
constrained ; when we are not forced to our duty, but do willingly 
delight in it and the law which prescribeth it, and do bewail our daily 
failings. Many do some external works of obedience, but not with an 
inward delight, but out of custom or compulsion. God never hath our 
heart till he hath our delight, till we willingly abstain from what may 
displease him, and cheerfully practise what he requireth of us ; when 
it is grateful to obey, and all pleasures to this are nothing worth. 



My hands also will I lift up to thy commandments, lohich I have 
loved and I will meditate in, thy statutes. VER. 48. 

IN the morning we opened one profession of David's respect to the 
word of God ; now follows another. He would employ all his faculties 
about the commandments of God, which is his last argument : his 
mind, for here is meditation promised; his heart, for here is love 
asserted ; his tongue, for that is his original request which occasioned 
all these professions ; and here his hands, his life, ' My hands also will 
I lift up,' &c. Observe 

1. The ground or cause of his respect to the commandments of God, 
in that clause, lohich I have loved. 

2. A double effect, / will lift up my hands to thy commandments, and 
/ will meditate in thy statutes. 

Lifting up the palms or hands is a phrase of various use. 

1. For praying : Ps. xxviii. 2, ' Hear the voice of my supplications 
when \ cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands towards thy holy 
oracle ; ' Lam. ii. 19, ' Lift up thy hands towards him, for the life of 
thy young children,' &c. ; Hab. iii. 10, ' The deep uttered his voice, 
and lift up his hands on high.' Thence the apostle, 1 Tim. ii. 8, ' I 
will, therefore, that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, with 
out wrath and doubting.' 

2. For blessing others. Aaron lift up his hands towards the people, 
and blessed them. Or for praising or blessing God : Ps. cxxxiv. 2, 
' Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord ; ' so Ps. 
Ixiii. 4, ' Thus will I bless thee while I live ; I will lift up my hands 
in thy name.' 

3. For swearing or vowing: Gen. xiv. 22, ' I have lift up my hand 
to the most high God,' that is, sworn ; so Rev. x. 5, the angel ' lift up 
his hand and swore.' So of God : Ps. cvi. 26, ' Therefore he lifted up 
his hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness,' that is, 
' swore they should not enter into his rest.' 

4. For setting about any action, especially of weight : Gen. xli. 44, 
' Without thee shall no man lift up his hand/ that is, attempt or do 
anything ; so Ps. x. 12, ' Arise, Lord, lift up thine hand ; forget not 
the poor,' that is, set to thine active hand for their assistance ; so Heb. 
xii. 12, ' Lift up the hands that hang down, and the feeble knees,' that 
is, set actively and vigorously about the Christian task. To this rank 
may be also referred what is said Mat. vi. 3, ' Let not thy left hand 
know what thy right hand doeth.' The hand is the instrument of 

Now all these senses might be applied to the present place. 

tl.] Praying for God's grace to perform them. 

Blessing God, as we do for our daily food, giving thanks for 

[3.] Vowing or promising under an oath a constant obedience to 
them. But the commandments are not the proper object to which 
the acts of praying, blessing, swearing are directed, but God. It is not, 

VER. 48.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 13 

I will lift up my band to God, but ' thy commandments/ We ought, 
indeed to bless God and praise God for the blessings we receive by his 
word, to vow our duty ; but lifting up the hand in all these senses is 
to God. Therefore 

[4.] Here it meaneth no more but I will apply myself to the keeping 
of them, or set vigorously about it, put my hands to the practising of 
thy law with all earnestness, endeavouring to do what therein is en 
joined. Two points : 

Doct. 1. That it is not enough to approve or commend the command 
ments of God, but we must carefully set ourselves to the observance of 

Doct. 2. Whosoever would do so must use great study and meditation. 

Doct. I. That it is not enough to approve or commend the com 
mandments of God, but we must carefully set ourselves to the practice 
of them. 

1. Hearing without doing is disapproved : Deut. iv. 5, ' I have 
taught you good statutes and judgments, that ye might do so ; ' Deut. 
v. 1, ' Hear, Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in 
your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and do them.' Otherwise 
we deceive our own souls : James i. 22, ' But be ye doers of the word, 
and not hearers only, deceiving your own souls.' We put a paralogism 
on ourselves, build on a sandy foundation : Mat. vii. 26, ' Every one 
that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened 
unto a foolish man that built his house upon the sand.' 

2. Knowledge without practice is not right : Luke xii. 47, 48, ' He 
that knoweth his master's will, and prepareth not himself to do it, 
shall be beaten with many stripes.' Better never known, if not done, 
for then they do but aggravate our guilt and increase our punishment. 

3. Our love is not right unless it endeth in practice. A Christian's 
love, to whatever object it be directed, must be an unfeigned love. If 
God, if the brethren, if the word of God, those words must ever sound 
in our ears, 1 John iii. 18, ' My little children, love not in word and 
tongue, but in deed and in truth.' Do you love the word of God ? 
Do it not in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth. 

4. Our delight is not right ; the pleasure is but an airy, idle, and 
speculative delight, unless it set us about the practice of all holy 
obedience unto God, making it the design and business of our lives to 
exercise ourselves unto godliness. That showeth the reality of your 
delight, when you come under the power of the truth, and are abso 
lutely governed by it ; for then you delight in them aright as mysteries 
of godliness. The Lord complaineth of them that had a delight in 
the prophet, ' His voice was as pleasing to them as a minstrel ; they 
hear the words, and do them not,' Ezek. xxxiii. 32. They may delight 
in sublime strains of doctrine or flourishes of wit. Demosthenes had 
made a plausible speech to the Athenians ; Phocion told them that 
the cypress-tree is goodly and fair, but beareth no fruit There may 
be flourishes of wit, but no food for hungry consciences. 

5. Our commendation is not right unless it endeth in practice. 
Many may discourse of the ways of God, never speak of them but 
with commendation, but they do not lift their hands to this blessed- 
work: they show some love to God's commandments, but when it 


cometh to action, their hands are remiss and faint. Christ refuseth 
that respect of bare naked commendation : Luke xi. 27, 28, ' Blessed 
is the womb that bare thee, and the paps that thou hast sucked. 
Mevovvye, yea, rather, blessed is he that heareth the word of God, and 
keepeth it/ We are disciples of that master that did both teach and 
do : Acts i. 1, ' The former treatise have I made, Theophilus, of all 
that Jesus began both to do and teach.' Of the Pharisees it is said, 
' They say, and do not/ Mat. xxiii. 2, 3. But in Christians there 
must be saying and doing : James ii. 12, ' So speak, and so do, as they 
that shall be judged by the law of liberty.' We shall be rewarded, 
not for speaking well, but for doing, hands lifted up. 

Well, then, nothing remains but practising duties that are pressed 
upon you on the first opportunity. Not he that heareth, understandeth, 
loveth, delighteth, commendeth, but 'he that keepeth instruction,' it is, 
'is in the way of life,' Prov. x. 17. He that subinitteth himself to be 
guided by God's word, he is going the right way to eternal life and 
happiness. But to set home this point more fully, I shall inquire 

1. What kind of observance we must address ourselves unto. 

2. Why we must thus lift up our hands, or address ourselves to our 

First, How, for the manner, must we lift up our hands, or what 
doing is necessary ? 

1. It must be universal: 'Herod did many things,' Mark vi. 20. 
Partial reformation in outward things will not serve the turn. In 
sundry particulars men may yield to the word of God, but in others 
deny their obedience ; as in some cheap observances, or such duties as 
cross not our lusts ; but David would lift up his hands to the com 
mandments, without distinction and limitation. Many, this they will 
do, and that they will not do ; and so do not obey God's will, but their 
own : Ps. cxix. 6, ' Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect 
unto all thy commandments ; ' Luke i. 6, ' And they were both righteous 
before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the 
Lord blameless.' 

2. This doing must be serious and diligent. Every Christian 
must bend the powers of his soul, and lay out the first of his care and 
labour, in his obedience unto God: Phil. ii. 12, 'Work out your salva 
tion with fear and trembling : ' this is not a work to be done by the 
bye ; but with the greatest care and solicitude. 

3. This must be our settled and our ordinary practice. To lift 
up our hands now and then is not enough, to do a good thing once, or 
rarely. No; we must make religion our business. The lifting of 
the hands to God's commandments is not a thing done accidentally, 
occasionally, or in a fit of zeal, but our trade and course of life : Acts 
xxiv. 16, ' I exercise myself in this, to have a conscience void of offence 
both towards God and men, ev TOVT&> dovcw. This was the employ 
ment of his life. 

4. We must persevere or continue with patience in well-doing, not 
withstanding discouragements : Heb. xii. 12, ' Wherefore lift up the 
hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.' There must be no 
fainting, whatever discouragements happen ; as there was a great deal 
of do to hold up Moses's hands in Israel's conflict with Amalek : 

VER. 48.] SERMONS UPON PSALM oxix. 15 

Exod. xvii. 11, 12, ' As long as he held up the rod of God, Israel pre 
vailed; but Moses' hands were heavy;' a sign of many infirmities, 
not able long to endure in spiritual exercise ; for though ' the spirit be 
willing, yet the flesh is weak.' But faith should still hold up our 

5. This lifting up the hands, or alacrious diligence, should flow 
from a right principle, and that is faith and love. 

[1.] Faith, or a sound persuasion of God's love to us in Christ, that 
keepeth us doing : Rom. xii. 1, ' I beseech you, by the mercies of God, 
that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto 
God, which is your reasonable service;' and Titus ii. 11, 12, 'The 
grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men, 
teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live 
soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.' Thankfulness 
to God is the great principle of gospel obedience. 

[2.] Love : ' Thy commandments, which I have loved ; ' 2 Cor. v. 
14, ' The love of Christ constraineth us.' Nothing holdeth up the 
hands in a constant obedience to God and performance of his will so 
much as a thorough love to God and his ways. Faith begets love, 
and love obedience. These are the true principles of all Christian 

6. This lifting up of the hands imports a right end. Commanded 
work must be done to commanded ends, else we lift up our hands to 
our own work. Now, the true end is the glory of God: 1 Cor. x. 31, 
' Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to 
the glory of God;' and Phil. i. 11, 'Being filled with the fruits of 
righteousness, which are by Christ Jesus, unto the glory and praise of 
God.' God's glory must be our main scope, not any by-respect of our 
own. Well, then, this is lifting up our hands to the commandments 
of God, not doing one good work, but all ; and this with a serious 
diligence, in our ordinary practice, continuing therein with patience, 
whatever oppositions we meet with ; and this out of faith, or a sincere 
belief of the gospel, and fervent love, and an unfeigned respect to God's 

Secondly, Why such a lifting up the hasds, or serious addressing 
ourselves to our duty, is necessary ? My answer shall be given in a 
fourfold respect God, ordinances, graces, and the Christian, who is 
to give an account of himself unto God. 

1. God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: Father, as a lawgiver ; Son, 
as a redeemer and head of the renewed estate ; Holy Ghost, as our 

[1.] God the Father, who in the mystery of redemption is repre 
sented as our lawgiver and sovereign lord, and will be not only known 
and worshipped, but served by a full and entire obedience : 1 Chrou. 
xxviii. 9, ' And thou, Solomon, my son, know the God of thy father, 
and serve him with a perfect heart and a willing mind/ He hath 
given us a law not to be trampled upon or despised, but observed and 
kept ; and that not by fear or force, but of a ready mind. Though 
there be an after provision of grace for those that break his law 
because of the frailty of the creature, yet if we presume upon that 
indulgence, and sin much that God may pardon much, we may render 


ourselves incapable of that grace; for the more presumptuously 
wicked we are, the less pleasing unto God. The governor of the 
world should not be affronted upon the pretence of a remedy which 
the gospel offered ; for this is to sin that grace may abound, than 
which wicked imagination nothing is more contrary to gospel grace : 
Rom. vi. 1, 'What shall we say then? shall we continue in sin that 
grace may abound ? God forbid/ To check this conceit, God deterreth 
men from greater sins, as more difficult to be pardoned than less ; they 
shall not have so quick and easy a pardon^of them as of others ; nay, 
he deterreth men from going on far in sin, either as to the intensive 
increase or the continuance in time, lest he cut them off and withdraw 
his grace, and pardon them not at all. Therefore he biddeth them to 
call upon him while he is near,' Isa. Iv. 6 ; not to ' harden their hearts, 
while it is called to-day,' Heb. iii. 7, 8. Therefore, if we should only 
consider God as our lord and lawgiver, we should earnestly betake 
ourselves to obedience. 

[2.] If we consider the Son as redeemer and head of the renewed 
estate, he standeth upon obedience : Heb. v. 9, he is ' the author of 
eternal life to them that obey him.' As he hath taken the command 
ments into his own hand, he insisteth upon practice, if his people will 
enjoy his favour : John xv. 10, ' If ye keep my commandments, ye 
.shall abide in my love, as I have kept my father's commandments, and 
abide in his love.' He hath imposed a yoke upon his disciples, and 
hath service for them to do : he, being a pattern and mirror of obedience, 
expects the like from his people. He fully performed what was 
enjoined him to do as the surety of believers, and therefore expecteth 
we should be as faithful to him as he hath been to God. So John 
xiv. 21, ' He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is 
that loveth me.' No love of Christ should encourage us to cast off 
duty, but continue it. He taketh himself to be honoured when his 
people obey: 2 Thes. i. 11, 12, 'Wherefore also we pray always for 
you, that God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all 
the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power, 
that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you.' 
The work of faith is obedience, and Christ is dishonoured and re 
proached when they disobey : Luke vi. 46, ' Why call ye me Lord, 
Lord, and do not the things which I say ? ' 

[3.] The Spirit is given to make graces operative, to flow forth: John 
iv. 14, ' Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall 
never thirst ; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a 
well of water springing up unto everlasting life ; ' and John vii. 38, 
' He that believeth on me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living 
water : this spake he of his Spirit, which they that believe in him 
should receive.' Therefore, if we have an inward approbation of the 
ways of God, unless we lift up our hands, we resist his work. 

2. With respect to ordinances : They are all means, and means are 
imperfect without their end. Things TT/JO? a\\o are of no use, unless 
that other thing be accomplished for which they serve : as he is a 
foolish workman that contents himself with having tools, and never 
worketh ; for tools are in order to work, and all the means of grace are 
in order to practice. We read, hear, meditate, t<? understand our duty. 

VER. 48.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 17 

Now if we never put ic in practice, we use means to no end and pur 
pose : ' Hear and live ; ' ' Hear and do.' The word layeth out work 
lor us ; it was not ordained for speculation only, but as a rule of duty 
to the creatures : therefore, if we are to hear, read, meditate, we must 
also lift up our hands. 

3. All graces are imperfect till they end in action, for they were not 
given us for idle and useless habits. Knowledge, to know merely that we 
may know, is curiosity and idle speculation. So Ps. cxi. 10, 'A good 
understanding have all they that do his commandments ; ' Jer. xxii. 
16, ' He judgeth the cause of the poor and the needy. Was not this to 
know me ? snitli the Lord.' That is true knowledge that produceth its 
effect. So James ii. 22, ' By works faith is made perfect ; ' faith hath 
produced its end. So love is perfected in keeping the commandments: 
1 John ii. 5, ' Whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of 
God perfected;' as all things are perfect when they attain their end 
and their consummate estate. The plant is perfect when it riseth up 
into stalk, and flower, and seed ; so these graces. 

4. The person or Christian is judged not only by what is believed, but 
what is done ; not by what is approved, but what is practised. Many 
profess faith and love ; but if it be not verified in practice, they are not 
accepted with God: 1 Peter i. 17, ' If ye call on the Father, who without 
respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work ;' and Rev. 
xx. 12, ' I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God ; and the 
books were opened ; and another book was opened, which is the book 
of life : and the dead were judged out of those things which were writ 
ten in the books, according to their works.' God will judge men ac 
cording to their works, and what they have done in the flesh, whether 
it be good or evil: John v. 29, 'They that havedone good shall rise to the 
resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of 
condemnation.' The redeemed sinner shall have his trial and judgment. 

Use 1. For the aisproof of two sorts preachers and professors. 

1. Preachers : if they be strict in doctrine and loose in practice, do 
they lift their hands to God's commandments ? No ; they are like 
the Pharisees, who ' bind heavy burdens upon others, and do not touch 
them with their own little finger/ Mat. xxiii. 4. It is not enough to 
lift up our voice in recommending, but we must lift up our hands in 
practising, lest like a mark-stone, they show others the way to heaven, 
but walk not in it themselves, and contribute nothing of help by their 

2. Professors. 

[1.] That approve the word only. There may be an idle naked 
approbation: Rom. ii. 18, 'Thou knowest his will, and approvest the 
things that are most excellent, being instructed out of the law.' Video 
meliora proboque ; they esteem these things better, but their hearts 
incline them to what is evil, and their reason is a slave to appetite. 

[2.] That commend as well as approve : Rom. ii. 20, ' Who hast a 
form of knowledge, and of the truth in the law,' but without action, 
and practice. Have many, good words ; their voice Jacob's but their 
hands Esau's: Ps. 1. 16, 17, 'What hast thou to do to declare my 
statutes, or to take my covenant in thy mouth, since thou hatest in 
struction, and castest my words behind me ? ' It pertaineth not to thee 



to profess religion, since thou dost not practise it, to commend the law 
which thou observest not, or to profess love to what thou dost not obey. 
Use 2. Is to press you to lift up your hands, and to obey and do the 
things which God hath prescribed in his word. Do not rest in the 
notional part of religion. That which will approve you to God is not 
a sharp wit, or a firm memory, or a nimble tongue, but a ready 
practice. God expedteth to be glorified by his creatures both in word 
and deed ; and therefore heart, and tongue, and hand, and all should 
be employed. I will urge you with but two reasons : 

1. How easy it is to deceive ourselves with a fond love, a naked ap 
probation, or good words, without bringing things to this real proof, 
whether the truth that we approve, esteem, and commend, have a real 
dominion over and influence upon our practice ! 1 John ii. 4, ' He that 
saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and 
the truth is not in him ; ' James i. 22, ' Be ye doers of the word, not 
hearers only, deceiving your own souls.' Kespect.to God and his word 
is a true evidence of a gracious heart. Now, how shall we know this 
respect real, but by our constant and uniform practice ? 

2. That it is not so easy to deceive God : he cannot be mocked with 
a vain show, for he looketh to the bottom and spring of all things : 
1 Chron. xxviii. 9, ' And thou, Solomon, my son, know thou the God 
of ^ thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing 
mind ; for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the 
imaginations of the thoughts/ He searcheth our hearts, knoweth our 
inward disposition, whether firm, strong, or productive of obedience. 
Now, to him you are to approve yourselves, and he will not be mocked 
with lying pretences and excuses : Gal. vi. 7, ' Be not deceived ; God 
is not mocked/ The all-seeing God cannot be blinded : he knoweth 
our thoughts afar off, and seeth all things in their causes ; much more 
can he judge of effects. Therefore, whatsoever illuminations we pre 
tend unto, if we do not live in the obedience of the commands of self- 
denial, humility, justice, patience, faith, and love, he can soon find us 
out. If our actions do not correspond to our profession, it is a practi 
cal he, which the Lord can easily find out. 

Doct. 2. Whosoever would lift up his hands to God's command 
ments, and seriously address himself to a course of obedience, must 
use much study and meditation. On the one side, non-advertency to 
heavenly doctrine is the bane of many : Mat. xiii. 19, 'When any one 
heareta the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not,' w 
ffwievros, non advertit animum, ' then cometh the wicked one, and 
catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.' And so James L 
23, 24, ' If any 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, 
andgoetn his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he 
was. God s great complaint of his people is that they will not con 
sider : Isa i. 3, ' The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's 
c 5 b *J I 8 ? 1 doth not know, my people doth not consider.' So Jer. 
viii. b, ' J. hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright; no man 
repented him of his wickedness, saying, what have I done ? ' The 
heathens have commended such recollection. On the other side, the 
scripture recommendeth meditation, as one great help to obedience 

VER. 48.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 19 

Lydia's conversion is described by attendancy : Acts xvi. 14, c The 
Lord opened her heart, that she attended unto the things which were 
spoken by Paul ; ' because that is the first step to it; minding, choosing, 
prosecuting. So the man that will benefit by the word of God is he, 
James i. 25, ' That looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and con- 
tinueth therein ; ' that is, abideth in the view of these truths ; for a 
glance never converted or warmed the heart of any man : ' This man 
being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word, this man shall be 
blessed in his deed/ Now, more particularly, why meditation is neces 

1. To know the mind of God and understand our duty. A super 
ficial knowledge hath no efficacy and hold upon us ; therefore, by deep 
meditation, search and study, we come to be more thoroughly acquainted 
with the mind of God revealed in his word. We are bidden, Prov. ii. 
4, to 'dig for knowledge as for silver.' Mines do not lie on the surface, 
but in the bowels of the earth. Every day we should get more know 
ledge : Rom. xii. 2, ' Be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds, 
that ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of 
God ; ' and Eph. v. 17, ' Be not unwise, but understanding what the 
will of the Lord is.' Now we cannot know this without a serious 
search and inquiry into the rule of duty : there must be an accurate 
search ; spiritual knowledge will not drop into our mouths. There are 
many clouds of ignorance and folly that yet hover in the minds of men, 
and they are dispelled more and more by a sound study of the scriptures. 

2. To keep up a fresh remembrance of our duty. Oblivion and in- 
consideration is a kind of ignorance for the time. Though we habit 
ually know a thing, yet we do not actually know a thing till we con 
sider of it : Eccles. v. 1, ' They consider not that they do evil ; ' so 
Hosea vii. 2, ' They consider not in their hearts that I remember all 
their wickedness.' That which we consider is always before us ; but 
that which we consider not is forgotten, laid by, and the notions which 
we have about them are as it were laid asleep, they work not. But now 
frequent meditation keepeth these things alive. 

3. Meditation is necessary to enkindle our affections. Affections 
are stirred by thoughts, as thoughts by objects. The truth cannot 
come home to our hearts till we think of it again and again. We 
have no other natural way to raise affection ; and we must not think 
that grace worketh like a charm, in a way contrary to the instituted 
order of nature. No; the heart of man must be besieged with frequent 
and powerful thoughts before it will yield to God and give entertain 
ment to his truth and ways. There is no coming at the heart but by the 
mind ; and the mind must be serious in what it represents to gain the 
heart ; that is, we must meditate. The devil watcheth our postures ; 
he seeketh to catch these thoughts out of our mind as soon as he seeth 
that we begin to be serious, Mat. xiii. 19. 

4. Meditation is necessary to show our love : ' I will lift up my 
hands also to thy commandments, which I have loved, and I will 
meditate in thy statutes ;' Ps. i. 2, ' His delight is in the law of the 
Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night ;' Ps. cxix. 47, 
* And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.' 
The mind will muse upon what we love. As thoughts stir affections, 


so affections stir up thoughts ; for in all moral tilings there is a KVK\O- 
ryevrjats. A pleasing object will be much revolved in our mind, and 
frequently thought of. 

The use is for direction to us. When you have heard the word, 
remember what you hear, and apply it to yourselves by serious incul- 
cative thoughts. So when you read the word, do not only understand 
it, but think of it again and again: Deut. xxxii. 46, ' Set your hearts 
to all the words which I testify among you this day/ saith Moses to 
the Israelites. So Christ : Luke ix. 44, ' Let these sayings sink into 
your hearts/ Truths never go to the quick of the affections but by 
serious and ponderous thoughts. You will not lift up your hands till 
the truth sink into the heart. You read chapters, hear sermon after 
sermon ; they do not stir you, or it is but a little, for a fit, like a man 
that hath been a little warming himself by the fire, and goeth away, 
and is colder than he was before. Christian ! this means is not to 
be neglected, no more than reading and hearing, because of its great 
use, both for first conversion, and continual quickening. 

1. For first conversion. A man cometh to himself by serious thoughts 
of those great and important truths which are delivered in the word of 
God : Luke xv. 17, ' And when he came to himself, he said/ &c. ; Ps. 
xxii. 27, ' All the ends of the world shall remember, and turn unto 
the Lord ;' Ps. cxix. 59, ' I thought on my ways, and turned my feet 
unto thy testimonies.' 

2. For continual quickening. Musing maketh the fire burn. The 
greatest things will not move us if we do not think of them : Kom. viii. 
31, 'What shall we then say to these things ? If God be for us, who 
can be against us ? ' Job v. 27, ' Lo, this we have searched, so it is ; 
hear it, and know thou it for thy good.' The benefit of sound doctrine 
consists in the application thereof by the hearers. When men have 
spent their time and strength to find a good lesson for us, shall not we 
think of it ? 


Remember thy word unto tliy servant, upon which thou hast caused 
me to hope. VER. 49. 

IN the words observe 

1. His prayer and humble petition to God, remember thy word. 
God is said to remember when he doth declare by the effect that he 
doth remember. He sometimes seemingly forgets his promise, that is, 
to appearance carrieth himself as one that doth forget. 

2. His argument is taken 

tl.] From his interest, thy servant. 
2.] From his trust and hope, which is expressed 
(1.) As warranted. 
(2.) As caused. 

(1.) As warranted by his word; that gave him ground of hope and 

VER. 49.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 21 

(2.) As caused by his influence, Upon which ihou hast caused me 
to hope. The word his warrant, the Spirit his anchor. Would God 
raise up such a hope merely to defeat it ? The word concurred to 
this hope, as it offered 

(1st.) A command to believe. 

(2d.) The promise of the eternal and immutable God to build upon. 
The influence of his grace concurred ; for he that maketh the offer in 
the word doth also work faith in the believer, and inclineth his heart 
to apply the promise and trust in it ; for faith is ' the gift of God,' 
Eph. ii. 8. In short, here is a promise believed and pleaded ; and both 
confirm our faith in the fulfilling and granting of it. 

Doct. That believers may humbly challenge God upon his word, 
and seek the full performance of what he hath promised. 

This point, that it may be managed with respect to this text, I shall 
give you these considerations : 

1. That God delighteth to promise mercy before he accomplish it ; 
which showeth these things : 

[1.] His abundant love. God's heart is so kindly affected to his 
people that he cannot stay till the accomplishment of things, but he 
must tell us aforehand what he meaneth to do for us: Isa. xlii. 9, 
' Before they spring forth, I will tell you of them ;' long before there 
was any sight of such things, or means that might produce them : so 
that his promise is an eruption and overflow of his love. 

[2.] His care for our security ; for by his promise he giveth his 
people a holdfast upon him, as he maketh himself a debtor to them 
by his own promise, who was otherwise free before such engagement 
to poor creatures : Ps. Ixxxix, 34, ' My covenant will I not break, nor 
alter the thing that is gone out of my lips/ The word is gone out of 
his lips, not to be recalled, nor reversed. The promises are as so many 
bonds, wherein he stands bound to us ; and these bonds may be put 
in suit, and his people have liberty and confidence to ask what he hath 
promised to them. Austin saith of his mother, Chirographa tua in- 
jiciebat tibi Domine Lord, she showed thy own bond and hand 
writing. It is a mighty argument in prayer when we can plead that 
\ve ask no more than God hath promised. 

2. That there is usually some time of delay between making the 
promise and fulfilling the promise ; for therefore God promiseth, 
because he meaneth to do us good, but not presently. And this delay 
is not for want of kindness, or out of any backwardness to our good ; 
for so it is said, he will not tarry : Hab. ii. 3, ' Though it tarry, wait 
for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry.' Nor out of ignor 
ance, as not knowing the fittest time to help his people ; for his wait 
ing is guided by judgment : Isa. xxx. 18, ' He waiteth that he may 
be gracious ; for he is a God of judgment ;' he will take hold of the 
fittest season or occasion. Not from forgetfulness of his promise ; for 
' he is ever mindful of his holy covenant,' Ps. cxi. 5. Not from any 
mutability of nature or change of counsel ; for he is Jehovah, that 
changeth not : Mai. iii. 6, ' I am the Lord, I change not ; therefore ye 
sons of Jacob are not consumed.' He hath a due foresight of all 
possible difficulties, and needeth not to alter his counsels. Not from 
impotency and weakness, as if he could not execute what he had 


promised, as the sons of Zeruiah were too hard for David, 2 Sam. iii. 
39 ; all things are at the beck and signification of his will. But (1.) 
Partly with respect to his own glory, he will do things in their proper 
season : Eccles. iii. 11, ' Everything is beautiful in its time.' ' This is 
the wise providence of God in the government of the world, that every 
thing is brought forth in its proper season, and in the time when it is 
most fit. God humbleth and God exalteth his people in due time : 1 
Peter v. 6, ' Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of 
God, that he may exalt you in due time.' So it is said of their enemies : 
Deut. xxxii. 35, ' Their foot shall slide in due time.' Summer and 
winter must succeed in their seasons. (2.) With respect to us, God 
will try our faith, whether we can stay on his word, and hug it, and 
embrace it, till the blessing come. As it is said of the patriarchs 
a<T7rao-d/j,evot, Heb. xi. 13, ' They embraced the promises ;' Ps. Ivi. 4, 
' In God I will praise his word ; I have put my trust in the Lord ; I 
will not fear what flesh can do unto me.' During this time we may be 
exercised with divers troubles and difficulties, so that to appearance 
God seemeth to forget his promises ; arid this he doth 

[1.] Partly to try our faith to the utmost, to see if we can trust and 
depend upon God for things which we see not, nor are likely to see. 
Faith, in the general, is a dependence upon God for something that 
lieth out of sight. Now, when the object is not only out of sight, but 
all that is seen and felt seemeth to contradict our hopes, and God 
seemeth to put us off, and we meet with many a rebuke of our con 
fidence, instead of an answer, as the woman of Canaan that came to 
Christ at first meeteth not with a word, then his speech more dis- 
courageth than his silence : Mat. xv. 26, ' It is not meet to take the 
children's bread, and to cast it to the dogs.' She turneth this rebuke 
into an encouragement : ver. 27, ' Truth, Lord ! yet the dogs, eat of 
the crumbs which fall from their master's table ;' ver. 28, ' Then 
Jesus answered and said unto her, woman ! great is thy faith ; be 
it unto thee even as thou wilt.' Many times we come and pray for 
blessings promised, and the oracle is dumb and silent. Though God 
love the supplicant, yet he will not seem to take notice of his desires, 
but will humble him to the dust. Now, to pick an answer out of 
God's silence, and a gracious answer out of his rebukes, showeth great 
faith. Job saith, chap. xiii. 15, ' Though he slay me, yet I will trust 
in him/ Faith supports us under the greatest pressures ; when God 
seemeth to deal like an enemy, yet even then trusts in God as a friend, 
and that his dispensations will never give his word the lie. 

[2.] To try our patience as well as our faith. God's dearest chil 
dren are not admitted to the enjoyment of the mercies promised pre 
sently : Heb. vi. 12, ' Be not slothful, but followers of them who 
through faith and patience inherit the promises.' And Heb. x. 36, 
' Ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye 
may receive the promise.' We must first do, and sometimes suffer, 
the will of God. The promises are to come, and at a great distance. 
' And if we hope for that we see not,' and enjoy not, ' then do we with 
patience wait for it/ Horn. viii. 25. But especially is patience tried 
when we meet with oppositions, difficulties, dangers, many things done, 
many things suffered, before we can attain what we hope fori Now. 

VER. 49.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 23 

quietly to wait God's leisure is a great trial of our patience: Our 
times are always present with us, when God's time is not come. A 
hungry stomach would have meat ere it be sodden or roasted, and a 
sickish appetite must have green fruit ; but to wait, like the husband 
man, in all seasons and weathers, till the corn ripen ; and to persevere 
in hoping and praying, that is that which God requires. 

[3.] Our love, though we be not feasted with felt comforts, nor 
bribed with present satisfaction and benefits in hand. God will try 
the deportment of his children, whether they will adhere to him when 
he seemeth to cast them off. It is not said, ' In the way of thy mer 
cies/ but, ' In the way of thy judgments, Lord, have we waited for 
thee ; the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance 
of thee,' Isa. xxvi. 8. Love for himself, without any present benefit 
from him, yea, when kept under sore judgments and deep distresses. 

[4.] To enlarge our desires, that we may have the greater sense of 
our necessities, and value for the blessings promised. A sack that is 
stretched out holdeth the more. Delay increaseth importunity : ' Ask, 
and ye shall have ; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and it shall be 
opened unto you,' Mat. vii. 7 ; Luke xi. 8, ' Though he will not rise 
and give him because he is his friend, yet Bia rrjv ava&eiav, because 
of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.' 
And things promised being asked, and at length obtained, are the 
more valued. 

3. That if we yet continue our faith, and heartily believe God upon 
his word, it is a great encouragement in waiting for the thing pro 
mised ; for to believe is a qualification. There are in the word of 
God promises that we may believe, and then promises because we do 
believe ; promises to invite faith and hope, and then promises be 
cause we believe in God and hope in his word ; promises for faith, 
and to faith. As for instance, God hath promised to be a defence unto 
his people : Zech. ii. 5, ' I the Lord will be unto her a wall of fire 
round about her, and will be the glory in the midst of her.' Now see 
how David pleadeth : Ps. Ivii. 1, ' Be merciful unto me, God, be 
merciful unto me ; for my soul trusteth in thee ; yea, in the shadow of 
thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast.' 
When once we believe, then we have a claim : Isa. xxvi. 3, ' Thou 
keepest him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he 
trusteth in thee.' Trust giveth us a fresh claim or new interest : Ps. 
Ixxxvi. 2, ' thou my God, save thy Servant that trusteth in thee.' 
God will not disappoint a trusting soul. An ingenuous man will not 
fail his friend if he rely on him. We count this the strongest bond 
we lay upon another, to be faithful and mindful of us : I trust you, 
that you will do this for me. How much more will God do so, 

[1.] For his own honour, to show himself faithful, willing, and able 
to succour his people in their distresses. This is the reproach cast 
upon the worshippers of idols, that they call upon those things which 
cannot help them nor relieve them in their straits : Judges x. 14, ' Go 
to the gods whom ye have chosen ; let them deliver you in the day of 
tribulation.' When you trust God, the honour of his Godhead lieth 
at stake. By trust you own him for a God : Jonah i. 5, ' Then the 
mariners were afraid, and cried every man upon his god.' By making 


good your trust he showeth himself to be a God, that they do iiot seek 
to a vain help. 

[2.] With a condescension to his people. Nothing goeth so near 
their hearts as a disappointment of their hope in God. This will 
mightily damp their spirits, when God spits in their faces, and seemeth 
to reject their prayers: Ps. xxv. 2, ' my God, I trust in thee, let me 
not be ashamed ; yea, let none of them that wait on thee be ashamed ; 
but let them be ashamed which transgress without a cause.' To have 
hopes fail which were invited and drawn forth by promises is a great 

[3.] With respect to their enemies, who will be sure to cast this in 
their teeth, if the God in whom they trusted should not send help from 
his holy place. You will find God's servants often mocked for their 
trust : Ps. xxii. 8, ' He trusted in the Lord ; let him now deliver him, 
seeing he delighted in him.' Christ himself was not free from the lash 
of profane tongues, he was mocked for his dependence on his Father : 
Mat. xxvii. 43, ' He trusted in God ; let him deliver him now, if he 
will have him.' The world counts faith but a fancy. Now if God 
should deny the things promised to his people, it would seem to coun 
tenance the slanders of their enemies. Wherefore do the children of 
God expose themselves to difficulties, and all manner of hard usages, 
but because of their hope in God ? 1 Tim. iv. 10, ' Therefore we 
suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God ;' for that reason^ 
because they look for great things from God ; therefore God hath a 
great respect for them that trust in him. 

4. This trust must be pleaded in prayer. 

[1.] Because prayer is one of the means by which God hath decreed to 
fulfil his promises ; and therefore we must obtain mercies in his own 
appointed way. God saith, I will do thus and thus for you : Ezek. 
xxxvi. 37, ' But I will be inquired after by the house of Israel for this 
very thing.' God will do it, but prayer must give a lift ; he will be 
sought to : Jer. xxix. 11, 12, ' I know the thoughts which I think to 
wards you, saith the Lord ; thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give 
you an expected end,' that is, such an end as yourselves hope for and 
desire ; ' then shall ye call upon me, and go, and pray to me, and I 
will hearken unto you,' that is, you must address and set yourselves 
seriously to this work. When the promise is urged by the believer, it 
will be performed by God. So when Daniel understood by the booktv 
and writings of the prophets that the time was come wherein God had 
promised to deliver his people, then he falleth a-praying in a serious 
manner, Dan. ix. 3. When God hath a mind to work, then he sets 
the spirit of prayer awork, for he will have all things accomplished in 
his own way. 

[2.] Because he hath put this office upon his people, that they are 
to be his remembrancers at the throne of grace : Isa. Ixii. 6, ' Ye that 
make mention of the Lord, keep not silence ; ' it is in the margin, 
' Ye that are the Lord's remembrancers,' whose office it is to be con 
stantly minding God, and soliciting him in the behalf of his church. 
Public remembrancers are the officers of his church ; but every Chris 
tian is a private remembrancer, to put God in mind of his promise. 
Not that God is subject to forgetfulness, as man is, who hath need of 

VER. 49.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 25 

such minders ; but he will be sought and solicited for the performance 
of his gracious promises. We have an advocate in heaven, but there 
are remembrancers upon earth. We come as David here, ' Remember 
thy word unto thy servants, on which thou hast caused us to hope.' 

5. We are the more encouraged because God, that made the pro 
mise, doth also give the faith ; for he pleadeth two things the grant 
of the promise, and the gift of faith. Reasons : 

[1.] God would not deceive us. Would he raise a confidence to 
disappoint us ? In such a case we might say, as the prophet Jeremiah, 
chap. xx. 7, ' Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived ; ' the words 
seem to intrench upon the honour of God. In the general, I answer 
They were spoken by the prophet in a passion. Others soften them 
by another rendering and interpretation, ' Thou hast persuaded me, 
and I was persuaded ; ' that is, to undertake the prophetical office, of 
which I was nothing forward of myself, but averse thereunto, yet found 
it more troublesome than I expected. But put it with a supposition, 
' If I be deceived, thou hast deceived me,' there is nothing inconve 
nient God had told him he would make him as a brazen wall ; God 
had raised a faith and hope in him to be borne out in his work. Now, 
if God hath specially excited your faith, it is not a foolish imagination 
or vain expectation, like as of them that dream ; it is God's word 
you build upon, and it is by a faith of God's operation ; he raiseth it 
in us. 

[2.] The prayer of faith is the voice of the Spirit, and God heareth 
the voice of the Spirit always, ' who maketh requests Kara Oebv, 
according to the will of God ; ' Rom. viii. 27, ' He that searcheth and 
trieth the hearts, knoweth what is a groan of the Spirit,' what is a fancy 
of our own, what is a confidence raised in us by the operation of his 
own Spirit. For there may be a mistaken faith, seemingly built upon 
the promises, whereas it is indeed built upon our own conceits. Now 
God is not bound to make that faith good. But when we can appeal 
to the searcher of hearts that it is a faith of his own working, surely 
we may have confidence. 

Now how shall we know that it is a faith of God's raising ? 

1. If the promise be not mistaken, and we do not presume of that 
absolutely which God only hath promised conditionally, and with the 
limitations of his own glory and our good, which are joined to all 
promises which concern the present life. In temporal things, God 
exerciseth his children with great uncertainties, because he seeth it 
meet to prove our submission in these things, for our happiness lieth 
not in them. Those things wherein our happiness doth consist, as re 
mission of sins and eternal life, are sure enough, and that is encour 
agement to a gracious heart : 2 Tim. iv. 18, ' God hath delivered me 
out of the mouth of the lion, and will deliver me from every evil work/ 
In the Old Testament, when God discovered less of heaven, he pro 
mised more of earth; but in the New Testament, where life and 
immortality are brought to light, we are told of many tribulations in 
our passage ; yea, the eminent saints of the Old Testament, that had a 
clearer view of things to come than others had, were more expofeed to 
the calamities of the present life, because God thought the sight of 
happiness to come sufficient to countervail their troubles ; and if he 


would give them rest in another world, they might well endure the 
inconveniences of their pilgrimage: Heb. xi. 16, ' But now they de 
sire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not 
ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a city.' 
The holy patriarchs left their country, flitted up and down upon this 
hope; but to us Christians the case is clear: Rom. viii. 18, 'For I 
reckon that the sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be 
compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us ; ' 2 Cor. iv. 17, 
' For this light affliction, that is but for a moment, worketh for us a 
far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.' 

2. When the qualification of the person is not clear, we must not 
absolutely promise ourselves the effect : Jonah iii. 9, ' Who can tell 
whether God will turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish 
not ?' So Joel ii. 14, ' Who knoweth if he will return, and leave a 
blessing behind him ? ' In this clause I put believers who have sinned 
away their peace and assurance : 2 Sam. xii. 22, ' Who can tell if God 
will be gracious unto me, that the child may live ?' He speaketh doubt 
fully ; Zeph. ii. 3, ' It may be that ye shall be hid in the day of the 
Lord's fierce anger ;' Amos v. 15, ' Hate the evil and love the good; 
it may be the Lord God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of 
Joseph.' In such cases the soul is divided between the expectation of 
mercy and the sense of their own deservings, and can speak neither 
the pure language of faith nor the pure language of unbelief half 

^Canaan, half Ashdod. ^There is a twilight in grace as well as in nature. 
'God in these eases raiseth no other confidence, to heighten mercy, 
and try how we can venture upon God, and refer ourselves to his will, 
when we have any business for him to do for us : Mat. viii. 2, ' Lord, 
if thou wilt thou canst make me clean ;' 2 Sam. xv. 25, 26 ' And the 
king said to Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city; if I 
shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me ao-ain, and 
show me both it, and his habitation : but if he thus say, I have no 
delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good 
to him. 

3. In the promises of spiritual and eternal mercies, when God's con 
ditions are performed by us, we maybe confident, and must give 
glory to God in believing and being persuaded that he will fulfil them 

I Tim. i. 12, ' I know whom I have believed, and I am per 
suaded that he is able to keep that which 1 have committed unto him 
gainst that day ; ' Bom. viii. 38, 39, For I am persuaded that neither 
itn, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things 
present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor anyother 
creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in 
Unrist Jesus our Lord.' I am persuaded; there is no doubt: the 
stronger our confidence, the better. 

4. When God raiseth in our minds some particular express hope 
(as m some cases he may do) to these things that are of a temporal 
nature and are conditionally promised, and where our qualification is 

ear he will not disappoint us, 2 Cor. i. 12. Though the promises of 

emporal things have the limitation of the cross implied in them, and 

to be understood in subordination to our eternal interest and God's 

glory, without which they would not be mercies but judgments yet 

VER. 49.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 27 

his usual course is to save, deliver, and supply them here : Ps. ix. 10, 
4 And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee ; for thou, 
Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.' And when God by his 
Spirit doth particularly incline his people to hope for mercy from him, 
he will not fail their expectations. Where the qualification is un 
certain, yet the faith of general mercy wrestleth against discourage 
ments ; as in the case of the woman of Canaan : there is the plea of 
a dog, and the plea of a child, in grievous temptations to fasten our 
selves upon God. God will make good the hope raised in them by 
his Spirit. 

Use. For direction, what to do in all our distresses, bodily and 
spiritual. Our necessities should lead us to the promise, and the pro 
mise to God. 

] . Be sure of your qualification ; for David pleadeth here partly as the 
servant of God, and partly as a believer : first, ' Kemember thy word 
unto thy servant ;' and then, ' wherein thou hast caused me to hope.' 
There is a double qualification with respect to the precept of subjec 
tion, with respect to the promise of dependence : the precept is before 
the promise. They have right to the promises, and may justly lay 
hold upon them, who are God's servants ; they who apply themselves 
to obey hie precepts, these only can regularly apply his promises. 
None can lay claim to rewarding grace but those that are partakers 
of his sanctifying grace. Clear that once, that you are God's servants, 
and then these promises, which are generally offered, are your own, no 
less than if your name were inserted in the promise, and written in the 
Bible. Let us remember our promises made to God, and then desire 
him to remember his promises to us. The next part of the qualifica 
tion is, if you be believers, and can wait and depend upon God, though 
he seemeth to delay, and forget his promise : ' Our eyes must wait upon 
the Lord, until he have mercy upon us,' Ps. cxxiii. 2. The benefit of 
some promises droppeth, like the first ripe fruit, into the mouth of the 
eater ; but others must be tarried for. It is said, Acts vii. 17, ' When 
the time of the promise drew night, which God had sworn to Abraham, 
the people grew and multiplied in Egypt.' The promise is recorded, 
Gen. xv. 5, of ' multiplying his seed like the stars of heaven/ Abraham 
was seventy-five years old when the promise was made, a hundred 
years old when Isaac was born ; when Jacob went into Egypt they 
were but seventy souls, but at their coming forth they were 603,550. 
Now, if faith wait, Isa. xxviii. 16, ' He that believeth maketh not 
haste ; ' Lam. iii. 26, ' It is good that a man should both hope, and 
quietly wait for the salvation of God ; ' Hosea xii. 6, ' Keep mercy and 
judgment, and wait on the Lord continually.' God delayeth because 
he would have us make use of faith. Real believers are such as have 
ventured upon God's word, denied themselves for the hopes offered 
therein : 1 Tim. iv. 10, ' Therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, 
because we trust in the living God ; ' Heb. vi. 10, ' God is not un 
righteous, to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have 
showed towards his name.' God's servants must wait for his promises 
with patience and self-denial : Eom. ii. 7, ' To them who by patient 
continuance in well-doing seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, 
eternal life ; ' Luke viii. 15, ' Those in the good ground are they which 


in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring 
forth fruit with patience.' 

2. Then let us plead promises ; let them not lie by us as a dead 
stock, but put them in suit, and put God in remembrance. When the 
accomplishment is delayed, it is a notable way of raising and increas 
ing our confidence : 2 Sam. vii. 25, ' And now, Lord, the word that 
thou hast spoken concerning thy servant and his house, establish it 
for ever, and do as thou hast said.' So ver. 28, ' And now, Lord, 
thou art that God, and thy words are true, and thou hast promised 
this goodness unto thy servant.' So may we do with any promise of 
mercy and grace which God hath made with his people in his covenant. 


This is my comfort in my affliction ; for tliy word hath quickened 
me. VER. 50. 

IN the former verse the man of God had complained of the delay of 
the promise, and that his hope was so long suspended ; now in this 
verse he showeth what was his support, and did revive him during this 
delay and the sore afflictions which befell him in the meantime. The 
promise comforted him before performance came, ' This is my comfort 
in my affliction, thy word hath quickened me.' 

1. Observe here, the man of God had his afflictions ; for we are not 
exempted from troubles, but comforted in troubles. God's promise, 
and hope therein, may occasion us much trouble and persecution in the 
world. Yet 

2. This very promise which occasioneth the trouble is the ground of 
our support ; for one great benefit which we have by the word is com 
fort against afflictions. 

3. This comfort which we have by the word is the quickening and 
life of the soul. The life of our soul is first received by the word, and 
still maintained by the same word : James i. 18, ' Of his own will 
begat he us with the word of truth ; ' 1 Peter i. 23, ' Being born again, 
not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, 
which liveth and abideth for ever.' 

Doct. That all other comforts in affliction are nothing to those com 
forts which we have from the word of God. 

David confirmeth it from experience ; in his deepest pressures and 
afflictions, his soul was supported and enlivened by the word of God. 
The apostle Paul doctrinally asserts it: Rom. xv. 4, 'Whatsoever 
things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we, 
through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope.' 
The general end of scripture is instruction ; the special end is comfort 
and hope. Id agit iota scriptura, ut credamus in Deum (Luther) 
the business and design of scripture is to bring us to believe in God, 
and to wait upon him for our salvation ; to hope either for eternal life, 
which is the great benefit offered in the scriptures, or those intervening 

VER. 50.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 29 

blessings which arc necessary by the way, and also adopted into the 
covenant. The reasons are taken 

1. From the quality of those comforts which we have from the word 
of God. 

2. From the provision which the word hath made for our comfort. 

3. From the manner whereby this comfort is received. 

First, From the quality of those comforts which we receive from 
the word of God. 

1. It is a divine comfort: Ps. xciv. 19, 'In the multitude of my 
thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.' In all the com 
forts we have, it is good to consider from whence it cometh. Is it 
God's comfort, or a fancy of our own ? A comfort that is made up of 
our own fancies is like a spider's web, that is weaved out of its bowels, 
and is gone and swept away with the turn of a besom. But God's 
comfort is more durable and lasting ; for then it floweth from the true 
fountain of comfort, upon whose smiles and frowns our happiness 
dependeth. Now God's comforts are such as God worketh, or God 
alloweth. Take them in either sense, they come in with a command 
ing or overpowering efficacy upon the soul. If God exciteth it by his 
Spirit, who is the comforter, Ps. iv. 7, * Thou hast put gladness into 
my heart' There is little warmth in a fire of our own kindling: 
the Holy Ghost raiseth the heart to a higher degree of a delightful 
sense of the love of God than we can do by a bare natural act of our 
own understanding. Or whether it be of such comforts as God 
alloweth, if we have God's covenant for our comfort we have enough ; 
no comfort like his comfort. In philosophy, man speaketh to us by 
the evidence of reason ; in the scripture, God speaketh to us by way of 
sovereign authority : in his commands he interposeth his power and 
dominion ; in his promises he empawneth his truth. And therefore 
scriptural comforts are God's comforts, and so more powerful and 

2. It is a strong comfort : Heb. vi. 18, ' That the heirs of promise 
might have strong consolation,' iayypav irapdKkrjcnv. Other comforts 
are weak and of little force ; they are not affliction-proof, nor death- 
proof, nor judgment-proof ; they cannot stand before a few serious and 
sober thoughts of the world to come ; but this is strong comfort, that 
can support the soul, not only in the imagination and supposition of a 
trouble, when we see it at a distance, but when it is actually come 
upon us, how great soever it be. If we feel the cold hands of death 
ready to pluck out our hearts, and are summoned to appear before the 
bar of our judge, yet this comfort is not the more impeached ; that 
which supported us in prosperity can support us in adversity ; what 
supports in life can support us in death ; for the comforts of the word 
endure for ever, and the covenant of God will not fail us, living or 

3. It is a full comfort, both for measure and matter. 

[1.] Sometimes for the measure ; the apostle speaketh of 'comforts 
abounding by Christ.' 2 Cor. i. 5, and Acts ^iii. 52, ' The disciples 
were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost;' and the apostle 
Paul, 2 Cor. vii. 4, VTrepTrepur&evofjiai rfj \apa, ' I am filled with com 
fort, and am exceeding joyful in all your tribulations.' Paul and Silas 


could sing praises in the prison, and in the stocks, after they had been 
scourged and whipped, Acts xvi. 25. And our Lord Jesus Christ, 
when he took care, for our comfort, he took care that it might be a 
full comfort : John xv. 11, ' These things have I spoken, that my joy 
might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.' The joy of 
believers is a full joy, needing no other joy to be added to it ; it is full 
enough to bear us out under all discouragements. If Christians 
would improve their advantages, they might by their full joy and 
cheerfulness entice carnal men, who are ensnared by the baits of the 
world and the delights of the flesh, once to come and try what com 
forts they might have in the bosom of Christ, and the lively expecta 
tion of the promised glory. 

[2.] For the matter ; it is full, because of the comprehensiveness of 
those comforts which are provided for us. There is no sort of trouble 
for which the word of God doth not afford sufficient consolation ; no 
strait can be so great, no pressure so grievous, but we have full con 
solation offered us in the promises against them all. We have 
promises of the pardon of all our sins, and promises of heaven itself ; 
and what can we desire more ? We have promises suited to every 
state prosperity and adversity. What do we need, which we have not 
a promise of ? Prosperity, that it shall not be our ruin, if we take it 
thankfully from God, and use it for God ; for, ' to the pure all things 
are pure,' Titus i. 15. But especially for adversity, when we most need 
there are promises either of singular assistance or gracious deliverance. 
In short, the word of God assureth us of the gracious presence of God 
here in the midst of our afflictions,. and the eternal enjoyment of God 
hereafter ; that he will be with us in our houses of clay, or we shall 
shortly be with him in his palace of glory ; and so here is matter of 
full comfort. 

(1.) His presence with us in our afflictions : Ps. xci. 15, ' I will be 
with him in trouble ; ' and Isa. xliii. 2, ' When thou passest through 
the waters, I will be with thee ; and through the rivers, they shall not 
overflow thee ; ' and many other places. Now if God be with us, why 
should we be afraid ? Ps. xxiii. 4, ' When I walk through the valley 
of the shadow of death, I will not be afraid, for thou art with me ; ' 
and in many other places. We see in the body, if any member be 
hurt, thither presently runneth the blood to comfort the wounded part ; 
the man himself, eye, tongue, and hand, is altogether employed about 
that part and wounded member, as if he were forgetful of all the rest. 
So we see in the family, if one of the children be sick, all the care and 
kindness of the mother is about that sick child ; she sits by him, 
blandisheth him, and tendeth him, so that all the rest do as it were 
envy his disease and sickness. If nature doth thus, will not God, who 
is the author of nature, do much more ? For if an earthly mother do 
thus to a sickly and suffering child, will not our heavenly Father, who 
hath an infinite, incredible, and tender Jove to his people ? Surely he 
runneth to the afflicted, as the blood to the hurt member ; he looketh 
after the afflicted, as the mother to the sick child. This is the differ 
ence between God and the world; the world runneth after those that 
flourish, and rejoice, and live in prosperity, as the rivers run to the 
sea, where there is water enough already ; but God ' comforteth us in 

VER. 50.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 31 

all our tribulations/ 2 Cor. i. 4, His name and style is, ' He com- 
forteth those that are cast down/ 2 Cor. vii. 6. The world forsaketh 
those that are in poverty, disgrace, and want ; but God doth not with 
draw from them, but visiteth them most, hath communion with them 
most, and vouchsafeth most of his presence to them, even to those that 
holily, meekly, and patiently bear the afflictions which he layeth upon 
them ; and one drop of this honey is enough to sweeten the bitterest 
cup that ever they drank of. If God be with 'us, if 'the power of 
Christ will rest upon us/ then we may even glory in infirmities, as 
Paul did.' 

(2.) Of our presence with God, when our afflictions are over ; that 
is our happiness hereafter ; we shall be there where he is : John xii. 
26, ' There where I am shall my servant be ; ' and John xvii. 24, 
' Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me 
where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given 
me/ When we have had our trial and exercise, we shall live with 
him for ever ; therefore is our comfort called everlasting consolation : 
2 Thes. ii. 16, ' Who hath given us everlasting consolation, and good 
hope through grace/ Nothing more can be added or desired, if we 
have but the patience to tarry for it, that we may come to the sight 
of God and Christ at last. Surely this will lighten the heart of that 
sorrow and fear wherewith it is surcharged. Here is an everlasting 
ground of comfort ; and if it doth not allay our fears and sorrows, the 
fault is not in the comfort, for that is a solid and eternal good ; but 
on the believer's part, if he doth not keep his faith strong, and his 
evidences clear. 

4. It is a reviving comfort, which quickeneth the soul. Many times 
we seem to be dead to all spiritual operations, our affections are 
damped and discouraged ; but the word of God puts life into the dead, 
and relieveth us in our greatest distresses. Sorrow worketh death, 
but joy is the life of the soul. Now when dead in all sense and feel 
ing, ' the just shall live by faith/ Hab. ii. 4 ; and the hope wrought in 
us by the scriptures is ' a lively hope/ 1 Peter i. 3. Other things skin 
the wound, but our sore breaketh out again and runneth ; faith pene 
trates into the inwards of a man, doth us good to the heart ; and the 
soul reviveth by waiting upon God, and gets life and strength. 

Secondly, The provision which the word hath made for our com 
fort ; it might be referred to four heads. 

1. Its commands. 

[1.] Provisionally, and by way of anticipation. The whole scripture 
is framed so that it still carrieth on its great end of making man 
subject to God and comfortable in himself. Our first lesson in the 
school of Christ is self-denial : Mat. xvi. 24, ' If any man will come 
after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me/ 
Now this seemeth to be grievous, but provideth for comfort ; for self- 
denial plucketh up all trouble by the root ; the cross will not be very 
grievous to a self-denying spirit. Epictetus summed up all the wisdom 
that he could learn by the light of nature in these two words, aveyov 
Kal afrexpv bear and forbear; to which answereth the apostle's 
' temperance, patience/ 2 Peter i. 6. Certainly were we more morti 
fied and weaned from the world, and could we deny ourselves in things 


grateful to sense, we should not lie open to the stroke of troubles so 
often as we do. The greatness of our affections causeth the greatness 
of our afflictions. Did we possess earthly things with less love, we 
should lose them with less grief. Had we more entirely resigned our 
selves to God, and did love carnal self less, we should less be troubled 
when we are lessened in the world. Thus provisionally, and by way 
of anticipation, doth the word of God provide against our sorrows. 
The wheels of a watch do protrude and thrust forward one another ; so 
one part of Christian doctrine doth help another: take any piece 
asunder, and then it is hard to be practised. Patience is hard if there 
be no thorough resignation to God, no temperance and command of 
our affections ; but Christianity is all of a piece ; one part well 
received and digested befriendeth another. 

[2.] Directly, and by way of express charge, the scripture requireth 
us to moderate our sorrow, to cast all our care upon God, to look above 
temporal things, and hath expressly forbidden distracting cares, and 
doubts, and inordinate sorrows : 1 Peter v. 7, ' Cast all your care upon 
God, for he careth for you ;' and Phil. iv. 6, ' Be careful for nothing.' 
We have a religion that maketh it unlawful to be sad and miserable, 
and to grieve ourselves inordinately : care, fear, and anguish of mind 
are forbidden, and no sorrow allowed us but what tendeth to our joy : 
Isa. xxxv. 4, ' Say to them that are of fearful hearts, Be strong, fear 
not ;' Isa, xli. 10, ' Fear not, I am with thee ; be not dismayed, I am thy 
God.' To fear the rage, and power, and violence of enemies, is con 
trary to the religion which we do profess : ' Fear not them which can 
kill the body/ Mat. x. 26, 28. Now surely the word, which is full 
fraught with precepts of this nature, must needs comfort and stay the 

2. The doctrines of the word do quicken and comfort us in our 
greatest distresses, all of them concerning justification and salvation 
by Christ ; they serve to deaden the heart to present things, and lift 
it up to better, and so to beget a kind of dedolency and insensibility 
of this world's crosses ; but especially four doctrines we have in the 
word of God that are very comforting. 

[1.] The doctrine concerning particular providence, that nothing 
falleth out without God's appointment, and that he looketh after every 
individual person as if none else to care for. This is a mighty ground 
of comfort ; for nothing can befall me but what my Father wills, and 
he is mindful of me in the condition wherein I am, knoweth what 
things I stand in need of, and nothing is exempted from his care, 
ordering, and disposal. This is a ground both of patience and com 
fort : Ps. xxxix. 9, ' I was dumb, and opened not my mouth, because 
thou didst it.' So Hezekiah : Isa. xxxviii. 15, ' What shall I say ? 
He hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it.' It is time 
to cease, or say no more ; why uhould we contend with the Lord ? Is 
it a sickness or grievous bodily pain ? What difference is there 
between a man that owneth it as a chance or natural accident, and 
one that seeth God's hand in it ? We storm if we look no further 
than second causes ; but one that looketh on it as an immediate stroke 
of God's providence hath nothing to reply by way of murmuring and 
expostulation. So in loss of good children ; how do we rave against 

VER. 50.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 33 

instruments, if we look no further ! But if we consider the providence 
of God, Job i. 23, not Dominus dedit, diabolus abstulit, but ' The 
Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name 
of the Lord,' So for contumely and reproaches ; if God let loose a 
harking Shimei upon us, 2 Sam. xvi. 11, ' The Lord bid him curse.' 
To resist a lower officer is to resist the authority with which he is 
armed. So in all other cases, it is a ground of patience and comfort 
to see God in the providence. 

[2.] His fatherly care over his people. He hath taken them into 
his family, and all his doings with them are paternal and fatherly. 
It allayeth our cares : Mat. vi. 32, ' Your heavenly Father knoweth 
that ye hath need of all these things.' Our sorrows in affliction are 
lessened by considering they come from our Father : Heb. xii. 5-7, 
* Ye have forgotten the exhortation that speaketh upon you as unto 
children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor 
faint when thou art rebuked of him ; for whom the Lord loveth he 
chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure 
chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons ; for what son is that 
whom the father chasteneth not ? But if ye be without chastisement, 
whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons ;' and so 
those whom God doth love tenderly, he doth correct severely. 

[3.] His unchangeable love to his people. God remaineth unchange 
ably the same. When our outward condition doth vary and alter, we 
have the same blessed God as a rock to stand upon, and to derive our 
comforts from, that we had before : he is the God of the valleys, as 
well as of the hills. Christ in his desertion saith, ' My God, my God,' 
Mat. xxvii. 46. Surely we deserve that the creature should be taken 
from us, if we cannot find comfort in God : Hab. iii. 18, ' Although 
the fig-tree should not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vine, &c., 
yet will I rejoice in the Lord; I will joy in the God of my salvation ;' 
' Nothing cau separate us from the love of God,' Bom. viii. 36. Men 
may separate us from our houses, countries, friends, estates, but not 
from God, who is our great delight. In our low estate we have a God 
to go to for comfort, and who should be more to us than our sweetest 

[4.] The scripture showeth us the true doctrine about afflictions, and 
<liscovereth to us the author, cause, and end of all our afflictions. The 
author is God, the cause is sin, the end is to humble, mortify, and 
correct his children, that they may be more capable of heavenly glory. 
God is the author ; not fortune, or chance, or the will of man ; but 
God, who doth all things with the most exact wisdom, and tender 
mercy, and purest love. The cause is just : Micah vii. 9, ' I will bear 
the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him.' The 
end is our profit, for his chastisements are purgative medicines, to 
prevent or cure some spiritual disease. If God should never administer 
physic till we see it needful, desire to take it, or be willing of it, we 
should perish in our corruptions, or die in our sins, for want of help 
in due time : 1 Cor. xi. 32, ' But when we are judged, we are chastened 
of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.' Now, 
should we not patiently and comfortably endure those things which 
come by the will of our Father, through our sins, and for our good ? 

VOL. vii. c 


3. The examples of the word, which show us that the dearly beloved 
of the Lord have suffered harder things than we have done, and with 
greater patience. Christ : 1 Peter ii. 21, ' Who suffered for us, leav 
ing us an example that we should follow his steps.' The servants of 
the Lord : James v. 10, ' Take, my brethren, the prophets of the Lord, 
who have spoken the word of the Lord, for an example of suffering 
affliction, and of patience.' We complain of stone and gout ; what 
did our Lord Jesus Christ endure when the whole weight of his body 
hung upon four wounds, and his life dropped out by degrees ? We 
complain of every painful disease, but how was it with Christ when 
his back was scourged, and his flesh mangled with whips ? We are 
troubled at the swellings of the gout in hands or feet ; how was it with 
him when those sinewy parts were pierced with strong and great 
nails ? We complain of the want of spiritual consolations ; was not 
he deserted? We mourn when God maketh a breach upon our 
relations ; was not Abraham's trial greater, when he was to offer his 
son with his own hands ? Heb. xi. 17, ' By faith Abraham, when he 
was tried, offered up Isaac ; and he that had received the promise 
offered up his only-begotten son/ Job lost all his children at once by 
a blast of wind. The Virgin Mary near the cross of Christ, ' Woman, 
behold thy son,' John xix. 26. She was affected and afflicted with 
that sight, 'as if a sword pierced through her heart.' We complain 
of poverty ; Christ ' had not where to lay his head/ If we lose our 
coat to keep our conscience, others of God's children have been thus 
tried before us : Heb. x. 34, ' Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your 
goods, knowing in yourselves that you have in heaven a better and an 
enduring substance/ The Levites ' left their inheritance,' 2 Chron. 
xi. 14. Thus God doth not call us by any rougher way to heaven than 
others have gone before us. 

4. The promises of scripture. To instance in all would be endless. 
There are three great promises which comfort us in all our afflictions 
the promises of pardon of sins, and eternal life, and the general pro 
mises about our temporal estate. 

[1.] The promises of pardon of sin. We can have no true cure for 
our sorrow till we be exempted from the fear of the wrath of God. 
Do that once, and the heart of sorrow and misery is broken. Others 
may steal a little peace when conscience is laid asleep, but not solid 
comfort till sin be pardoned : Isa. xl. 1, 2,' Comfort ye, comfort ye my 
people, saith your God ; speak ye comfortably unto Jerusalem, and 
cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is 
pardoned ;' Mat. ix. 2, ' Son, be of good cheer ; thy sine be forgiven 
thee ;' Rom. v. 1, ' Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace 
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ/ 

[2.] The promises of eternal life. Nothing will afford us so much 
content as one scripture promise of eternal life would do to a faithful 
soul. Heaven in the promise seen by faith is enough to revive the 
most doleful and afflicted creature: Mat. v. 12, 'Rejoice and be 
exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven/ Nothing can be 
grievous to him that knoweth a world to come, and hath the assurance 
of the eternal God that shortly he shall enjoy the happiness of it : 
Rom. v. 2, ' We rejoice in hope of the glory of God/ This comforts 

VER. 50.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 35 

against troubles, sicknesses, wants. Everlasting ease, everlasting joy, 
surely will counterbalance all that we can endure and suffer for or from 
God. There all our fears and sorrows shall be at an end, and all tears 
shall be wiped from our eyes. 

[3.] The general promises concerning our temporal estate. There 
are many particular promises concerning the supply of all our neces 
sities, removing of our grievances and burdens, or else that God will 
allay our troubles and enable us to bear them, mix with them the 
taste of his goodness and fatherly love. But I shall only speak of those 
general promises, that we may be confident that he will never utterly fail 
his people : Heb. xiii. 5, ' He hath said, I will never leave thee nor 
forsake thee;' that he will not give us over to insupportable diffi 
culties : 1 Cor. x. 13, ' There hath no temptation taken you but what 
is common to man ; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be 
tempted above what you are able ; but will with the temptation also 
make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.' He will dis 
pose of all things for the best to them that love him, Rom. viii. 28. 
These things are absolutely undertaken, and these things should 
satisfy us. 

Thirdly, From the manner wherein this comfort is received. They 
are applied by the Spirit, who is a comforter, and received by faith. 

1. Applied by the Spirit, which is dispensed in a concomitancy with 
this word : Rom. xv. 13, 'Now the God of hope till you with all joy 
and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the 
power of the Holy Ghost.' The Holy Ghost is purposely given to be 
our comforter. If we are fit to receive it, he will not be wanting to 
give solid joy and delight to the penitent and believing soul. 

2. It is received by faith. The word of God cannot deceive us. 
Faith is contented with a promise, though it hath not possession ; for, 
Heb. xi. 1, ' Faith is the'substance of things hoped for, and the evidence 
of things not seen.' Sickness with a promise, poverty with a promise, 
captivity with a promise, is better than health, riches, liberty without 
one ; yea, death with a promise is better than life. What you possess 
without a promise you may lose when most secure : Luke xii. 19, 20, 
' I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many 
years ; eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, 
this night shall thy soul be required of thee ; then whose shall those 
things be that thou hast provided?' But in the eye of faith, that 
which we hope for is more than that which we possess ; for we have 
God's word ; it is set before us. 

Use 1. For information. 

1. How likely it is that the children of God will be exercised with 
afflictions, because God in his word hath laid in so many comforts before 
hand ; a full third of the scriptures would be lost, and be as bladders 
given to a man that stands on dry land, and never ineaneth to go into 
deep waters : ' Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward,' Job v. 
7. Many think they come into the world not to bear crosses, but to 
spend their days in pleasure ; but alas 1 how soon do they find them 
selves mistaken, and confuted by experience ! If life be anything 
lengthened out, it is vexed with the remembrance of what is past, or 
trouble of what is present, or fear of what is to come. The first part 


of our life we know not ourselves ; in the middle, we are filled with 
cares and sorrows ; our last burdened with weakness and age. But 
now the godly are more appointed to troubles, because God will try 
their faith, perfect their patience, train them up for a better world. 
They are now hated by the world : 2 Tim. iii. 12, ' Yea, and all that 
will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution ;' Acts xiv. 22, 
' We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.' 
He that would not be exempted from the hopes of Christians, he must 
not look to be exempted from the troubles of Christians. 

2. The excellency of the word of God and the religion it estab- 
lisheth. It containeth store of sure comforts; and when all other 
comforts can do us no good, then the word of God affordeth us relief 
and support. Bare human reason cannot find out such grounds of 
comfort in all their philosophy ; it doth not penetrate to the inwards 
of a man. It will tell us it is in vain to trouble ourselves about what we 
cannot help : Jer. x. 19, ' It is an evil, and I must bear it;' that we 
are not without fellows, others suffer as much as we do, &c. ; but the 
word of God giveth us other consolations the pardon of sin, the 
promises of a better life ; that if we lose temporal things we shall have 
eternal ; that we would not fear the threatenings of men, having the 
promises of God, &c., nor death, which hath life at the back of it ; 
these are comforts indeed. When David was even dead in the nest, 
the word, that was not so clear then in these points as now, revived 
him. What would he have said if he had known the gospel so fully 
as we do ? How should we be affected that live in so much light ? 

Use 2. For reproof to those that seek other comforts, 

1. In the vanities of the world. This is too slight a plaster to cure 
man's sore or heal his wound : the comforts of this world appear and 
vanish in a moment ; every blast of a temptation scattereth them. It 
must be the hope and enjoyment of some solid satisfaction that can 
fortify the heart and breed any solid and lasting comfort, and this the 
world cannot give unto us ; but in the word we have it. Alas ! what 
is a dream of honour, or the good- will and word of a mortal man ? 
Everlasting glory is as much above all these as the treasures of a king 
dom before a child's toys. May-games, vain pleasures, are gone before 
we well feel that we have them. 

2. Or in philosophy. That cannot give a true ground of comfort. 
That was it the wise men of the world aimed at to fortify the soul 
against troubles ; but as they never understood the true ground of 
misery, which is sin, so they never understood the true ground or way 
of comfort, which is Christ. That which man offereth cannot come 
with such authority fnd power as that which God offereth. The light 
of reason cannot have such an efficacy as divine testimony. This is a 
poor moonlight, that rotteth before it ripeneth anything. In short, 
they were never acquainted with Christ, who is the foundation of 
comfort ; nor the promise of heaven, which is the true matter of com 
fort ; nor faith, which is the instrument to receive comfort ; so that 
you leave the fountain of living water for the dead puddle of a filthy 
ditch, if you think the writings of the heathens will comfort you and 
revive you, and neglect the word of God that brings rest for the soul. 

3. Those are to be reproved that are under a spiritual institution. 

VER. 50.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 37 

and profess to keep to it, and do so little honour it, either by their 
patience or comfort, or hope under troubles. Wherefore were the 
great mysteries of godliness made known to us, and the promises of 
the world to come, and all the directions concerning the subjection of 
the soul to God, and those blessed privileges we enjoy by Christ, if 
they all be not able to satisfy and stay your heart, and compose it to a 
quiet submission to God when it is his pleasure to take away your 
comforts from you ? What ! ' Is there no balm in Gilead ? is there 
no physician there?' Will not all the word of God yield you a cor 
dial or a cure ? Oh ! consider what a disparagement you put upon the 
provision Christ hath made for us, as if the scripture were a weaker 
'thing than the institutions of philosophy, or the vain delights of the 
world ! But what may be the reasons of such an obstinacy of grief ? 

[l.J Sometimes ignorance. They do not study the grounds of com 
fort, or do not remember them ; for oblivion is an ignorance for the 
time : Heb. xii. 5, ' Have ye forgotten the exhortation that speaketh to 
you as children ?' They are like Hagar, have a well of comfort nigh, 
and yet ready to die for thirst. The scripture hath breasts of comfort, so 
full as a breast ready to discharge itself, and yet they ate not comforted. 

[2.] They indulge and give way to the present malady, hug the dis 
temper, and do not consider the evil of it ; as ' Rachel refused to be 
comforted,' Jer. xxxi. 15. 

[3.] They do not chide themselves, ask the soul the reason, cite it 
before the tribunal of conscience, which is one way to allay passions : 
Ps. xlii. 5, ' Why art thou so disquieted, my soul ? ' They look to 
the grievance, not to the comfort, as that which is of use; they aggravate 
the grievance and lessen the love of God : ' Are the consolations of 
God so small with thee?' Job xv. 11. It is spoken to them who have 
high thoughts of their troubles, low thoughts of God's comforts. 

[4.] Uncertainty in religion. Principles must be fixed before they 
can be improved, and we can feel their influence and power. But 
people will be making essays, and try this and try that. God's 
grounds of comfort are immutably fixed ; God will not change his 
gospel laws for thy sake : and therefore, unless we would have a 
mountebank's cure, we must stand to them : 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.' When we have tried all, we must come home at length to 
these things; and our uncertainty in religion will be none of the 
meanest causes of our troubles. 

[5.] They look to means and their natural operation, and neglect 
God ; and God only will be known to be the God of all comfort : 
2 Cor. i. 3, 4, ' Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus 
Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comforts, who com- 
forteth us in all our tribulation/ 

Use 3. To exhort us 

1. To prize and esteem the scriptures, and consult with them often: 
there you have the knowledge of God, who is best worth our knowing ; 
and the way how we may come to enjoy him, wherein our happiness 
lieth. It is a petty wisdom to be able to gather riches, manage your 
business in the world. Ordinary learning is a good ornament, but this 


is the excellent, deep, and profound learning, to know how to be saved. 
What is it I press you to know ? the course of the heavens, to num 
ber the orbs and the stars in them, to measure their circumference and 
reckon their motions, and not to know him that sits in the circle of 
them, nor know how to inhabit and dwell there ? Oh, how should 
this commend the word of God to us, where eternal life is discovered, 
and the way how to get it ! Other writings and discourses may tickle 
the fancy with pleasing eloquence, but that delight is vanishing, like a 
musician's voice. Other writings may represent some petty and momen 
tary advantage ; but time will put an end to that, so that within a little 
while the advantage of all the books in the world will be gone ; but the 
scriptures, that tell us of eternal life and death, their effects will abide 
for ever : Ps. cxix.* 96, ' I have seen an end of all perfections, but thy 
commandments are exceeding broad.' When heaven and earth pass 
away, this will not pass ; that is, the effects will abide in heaven and 
hell. Know ye not that your souls were created for eternity, and that 
they will eternally survive all these present things ? and shall your 
thoughts, project^, and designs be confined within the narrow bounds 
of time ? Oh, no ! Let your affections be to that book that will teach 
you to live well for ever, in comparison of which all earthly felicity is 
lighter than vanity. 

2. Be diligent in the hearing, reading, meditating on those things 
that are contained there. The earth is the fruitful mother of all herbs 
and plants, but yet it must be tilled, ploughed, harrowed, and dressed, 
or else it bringeth forth little fruit. The scripture containeth all the 
grounds of hope, comfort, and happiness, the only remedy of sin and 
misery, our rule to walk by till our blessedness be perfected ; but we 
have little benefit by it unless it be improved by diligent meditation : 
Ps. i. 2, ' His delight is in the law of the Lord, and in that law doth 
he meditate day and night.' This must be your chief delight, and you 
must be versed therein upon all occasions : Ps. cxix. 97, ' Oh, how 
love I thy law ! it is my meditation all the day.' When we love it 
and prize it, it will be so, for our thoughts cannot be kept off from 
what we love and delight in. 

3. Header, hear, meditate with a spirit of application, and an aim of 
profit : Job v. 27, ' Hear it, and know thou it for thy good ; ' as the rule 
of your actions and the charter of your hopes ; ' Born. viii. 31, ' What 
shall we then say to these things ? ' That you may grow better and 
wiser, and may have more advantages in your heavenly progress, take 
home your portion of the bread of life, and turn it into the seed of your 
life. It is not enough to seek truth in the scriptures, but you must 
seek life in the scriptures. It is not an object only to satisfy your 
understandings with the contemplation of truth, but your hearts with 
the enjoyment of life ; and therefore you must not only bring your 
judgment to find the light of truth, but your affections to embrace the 
goodness of life offered. Think not ye have found all, when you have 
found truth and learned it. No ; except you find life there, you have 
missed the best treasure. You must bring your understandings and 
affections to them, and not depart till both return full. 



The proud have had me greatly in derision ; yet have I not declined 
from thy law. VER. 51. 

Is these words are 

1. David's temptation. 

2. His constancy and perseverance in his duty notwithstanding that 

First, In the temptation observe 

1. The persons from whom the temptation did arise, the proud. The 
wicked are called so for two reasons : 

[1.] Because either they despise God and contemn his ways, which is 
the greatest pride that can fall upon the heart of a reasonable creature: 
Rom. i. 30, ' Haters of God, despiteful, proud.' 

[2.] Or else, because they are drunk with worldly felicity. In the 
general, scoffing cometh from pride. What is, Prov. iii. 34-, ' He scorn- 
eth the scorners, and giveth grace to the lowly,' is, James iv. 6, ' He 
resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.' 

2. Observe the kind or nature of the temptation; he was had in 
derision. This may be supposed either for dependence on God's pro 
mises, or for obedience to his precepts. Atheistical men, that wholly 
look to the pleasing of the flesh and the interest of the present world, 
make a mock of both. We have instances of both in scripture. 

.[!.] They make a mock of reliance upon God when we are in dis 
tress ; think it ridiculous to talk of relief from heaven when earthly 
power faileth : Ps. xxii. 7, 8, ' They laugh me to scorn, saying, He 
trusted in the Lord.' The great promise of Christ's coming is flouted 
at by those mockers : 2 Peter iii. 3, 4, ' There shall come in the last 
days mockers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the 
promise of his coming ? for since the fathers fell asleep all things con 
tinue as they were from the creation.' Such scoffers are in all ages, 
but now they overflow. These latter times are the dregs of Christianity, 
in which such kind of men are more rife than the serious worshippers 
of Christ. At the first promulgation of the gospel, while truths were 
new, and the exercises of Christian religion lively and serious, and 
great concord among the professors of the gospel, they were rare and 
infrequent. Before men's senses were benumbed with the frequent ex 
periences of God's power, and the customary use of religious duties, and 
the notions of God were fresh and active upon their hearts, they were 
not heard of ; but when the profession of Christianity grew into a form 
and national interest, and men fell into it by the chance of their birth 
rather than their own choice and rational conviction, the church was 
pestered with this kind of cattle. But especially are they rife among 
us when men are grown weary of the name of Christ, and the ancient 
severity and strictness of religion is much lost, and the memory of 
those miracles and wonderful effects by which our religion was once 
confirmed almost worn out ; or else questioned and impugned by subtle 
wits and men of a prostituted conscience. Therefore now are many 
mockers and atheistical spirits everywhere, who ask, ' Where is the 


promise of his coming?' question all, and think that there are none 
but a few credulous fools that depend upon the hopes of the gospel. 

[2.] Their obedience to his precepts. And so whosoever will be 
true to his religion, and live according to his baptismal vow, is set up 
for a sign of contradiction to be spoken against. It is supposed the 
mocking by the heathen of the Jews is intended in these words, Lam. 
iv/15, 'Depart ye; it is unclean; depart, depart, touch not: when 
they fled away and wandered.' The words are somewhat obscure, but 
some judicious interpreters understand them of the detestation of the 
Jewish religion, their circumcision, their sabbaths, &c. But however 
that be, certainly the children of God are often mocked for their strict 
obedience, as well as their faith. 

3. Observe the degree, greatly. The word noteth continually. The 
Septuagint translates it by afoSpa ; the vulgar Latin by usque valde 
and usque longe. They derided him with all possible bitterness, and 
day by day they had their scoffs for him ; so that it was both a grievous 
and a perpetual temptation. 

Secondly, His constancy and perseverance in the duty ; that is set 

1. By the rule in the word, iliy law. If we have God's law to 
justify our practice, it is no matter who condemneth it ; we have God's 
warrant to set against man's censure. It must be God's way wherein 
we seek to be approved; otherwise our reproach is justly deserved, if 
it be for obstinacy in our own fancies. 

2. The firmness and strictness of his adherence: I have not de 
clined. The word signifies either to turn aside or to turn back. 
Sometimes it is put for turning aside to the right hand or to the left \ 
as Deut. xvii. 11, ' Thou shalt not decline from the way which they 
shall show to thee, to the right hand or to the left ;' sometimes for 
turning back : Job xxiii. 11, ' My feet have held his steps ; his way 
have I kept, and not declined ; neither have I gone back from the 
commandment of his lips.' As it is taken for turning aside, it noteth 
error and wandering ; as it is taken for turning back, it noteth apos 
tasy and defection. Now David meaneth that he had neither declined 
in whole nor in part. Understand it of his faith : all their scoffs and 
bitter sarcasms did not discourage him, or tempt him to forsake his 
hold, or let go the comfort of the promise. Understand it of his- 
obedience : he still closely cleaved to God's way. A declining implieth 
an inclining first. Well, then, David did not only keep from open 
apostasy, but from declining or turning aside in the least to any hand. 
Testimonies we have of his integrity in scripture: 1 Kings xiv. 8, 
' David kept my commandment, and followed me with all his heart,, 
to do only that which was right in my sight.' His great blemish is 
mentioned elsewhere : 1 Kings xv. 5, ' David did that which was- 
right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned not aside from anything 
which he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the 
matter of Uriah the Hittite/ However, the derision of his enemies. 
made him not to warp. 

Doct. That a Christian should not suffer himself to be flouted out of 
his religion, either in whole or in part ; or no scorn and contempt cast 
upon us should draw us from our obedience to God. 

VER. 51.] uMOxs UPON PSALM cxix. 41 

In the managing of it observe 

1. That a holy life is apt to be made a scorn by carnal men. 

2. That this, as it is a usual, so it is a grievous temptation. 

3. That yet this should not move us either to open defection or par 
tial declining. 

First, That a holy life is apt to be made a scorn by carnal men, 
and they that abstain from iniquity are as owls among their neigh 
bours, the wonder and the reproach of all that are about them. To 
evidence this, I shall give you an account of some of the scorns which 
are cast upon religion, with the reasons of them. 

1. Some of the scorns are these : 

[1.] Seriousness in religion is counted mopishness and melancholy. 
"When men will not flaunt it and rant it, and please the flesh as others 
do, but take time for meditation, and prayer, and praise, then they are 

[2.] Self-denial, when, upon hopes of the world to come, they grow 
dead to present interests, and can hazard them for God, and can for 
sake all for a naked Christ ; the world thinketh this humorous folly. 
To do all things by the prescript of the word, and live upon the hopes 
of an unseen world, is by them that would accommodate themselves to 
present interests counted madness. 

[3.] Zeal in a good cause is in itself a good thing (Gal. iv. 18, ' It 
is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing'), but the world 
is wont to call good evil. As astronomers call the glorious stars by 
horrid names, the serpent, the dragon's tail, the greater or lesser bear, 
the dog-star ; so the world is grossly guilty of misnaming. God will 
not be served in a cold and careless fashion. See Rom. xii. 11, e'oires 
TTvevfiaTi, ' fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.' But this will not suit 
with that lazy and dull pace which is called temper and moderation in 
the world. 

[4.] Holy singularity ; as Noah was an upright man in a corrupt 
age : Gen. vi. 9, ' Noah walked with God.' And we are bidden ' not 
to conform ourselves to this world,' Rom. xii. 2. Now, because they 
would have none to upbraid them in their sins, and to part ways, and 
the number of the godly is fewer, they count it a factious singularity 
in them that walk contrary to the course of the world and the stream 
of common examples. 

[5.] Fervour of devotion and earnest conversing with God in humble 
prayers is called imposture and enthusiasm. The world, who are 
wholly sunk in flesh and matter, are little acquainted with these eleva 
tions and enlargements of the spirit, think all to be imposture and 
enthusiasm. And though praying by the Spirit be a great privilege, 
(Jude 20, c Praying in the Holy Ghost ;' Rom. viii. 26, ' Likewise 
the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities ; for we know not what we should 
pray for as we ought ; but the Spirit itself helpeth our infirmities with 
groanings which cannot be uttered ; ' Zech. xii. 10, ' I will pour upon 
you the spirit of grace and of supplication') yet it is little relished 
by them ; a flat dead way of praying suiteth their gust better. Christ 
compareth the duties of the gospel, fasting, with prayer in the Spirit, to 
new wine, which will break old bottles, Mat. ix. 17 ; but the duties of 
the Pharisees to old, dead, and insipid wine ; there is no life in them. 


[6.] Serious speaking of God and heavenly things is, in the phrase 
of the world, canting. Indeed, to speak swelling words of vanity, or 
an unintelligible jargon, betrayeth religion to scorn ; but a pure lip 
and speedi seasoned with salt, and that holy things should be spoken 
of in a holy manner, our Lord requireth. 

[7.] Faith of the future eternal state is esteemed a fond credulity by 
them who affect the vanities of the world, and the honours and plea 
sures thereof. They are all for sight and present things, and Chris 
tianity inviteth us to things spiritual and heavenly. Now, to live upon 
the hopes of an unseen world, and that to come, they judge it to be 
but foppery and needless superstition. Thus do poor creatures, drunk 
with the delusions of the flesh, judge of the holy things of God. 

[8.] The humility of Christians, and their pardoning wrongs and 
forgiving injuries, they count to be simplicity or stupidness, though 
the law of Christ requireth us to forgive others, as God for Christ's 
sake hath forgiven us. 

[9.] Exact walking is scrupulosity and preciseness, and men are 
more nice than wise ; which is a reproach that reflecteth a mighty 
contempt upon God himself, that when he hath made a holy law for 
the government of the world, that the obeying of this law should be 
derided by professed Christians ; the scorn must needs fall on him that 
made the law, and gave us these commands. If he be too precise that 
imperfectly obeyeth God, what will you say of God himself, who com- 
mandeth more than any of us all performeth ? Thus the children of 
God are not only reproached as hypocrites, but derided as fools ; and 
it is counted as a part of wit and breeding to droll at the serious prac 
tice of godliness, as if religion were but a foppery. 

2. The reasons of this are these : 

[1.] Their natural blindness : 1 Cor. ii. 14, ' The natural man re- 
ceiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to 
him ; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned/ 
They are incompetent judges : Prov. xxiv. 7, ' Wisdom is too high for 
a fool.' Though by nature we have lost our light, yet we have not lost 
our pride : Prov. xxvi. 16, ' The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit 
than seven men that can render a reason.' Though their way in reli 
gion be but a sluggish, lazy, and dead course, yet they have a high 
conceit of it, and censure all that is contrary, or but a degree removed 
above it. From spiritual blindness it is that carnal men judge un 
righteously and perversely of God's servants, and count zeal and for 
wardness in religious duties to be but folly and madness. 

[2.] Antipathy and prejudicate malice. The graceless scoff at the 
gracious, and the profane at the serious ; there is a different course, 
and that produceth difference of affections : John xv. 19, ' The world 
will love its own, but because I have chosen you out of the world, 
therefore the world hateth you ; ' and they manifest their malice and 
hatred this way by evil-speaking : 1 Peter iv. 4, ' Speaking evil of 

[3.] Want of a closer view. Christians complained in the primitive 
times that they were condemned unheard, &ia TTJV (frijprjv, and Bia TO 
wopa, without any particular inquiry into their principles and prac 
tices. And Tertullian saith, nolentes auditis, &c. thev would not 

51.] SKHMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 43 

inquire, because they had a mind to hate. A man riding afar off see 
ing people dancing, would think they were mad, till he draws near and 
observes the harmonious order. They will not take a nearer view of 
the regularity of the ways of God, and therefore scoff at them. 

[4.] Because you do by your practice condemn that life that they 
affect : John vii. 7, ' The world hateth me, because I testify that their 
deeds are evil ; ' Heb. xi. 7, ' Noah by faith, being warned of God of 
things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving 
of his house, by the which he condemned the world.' Now they would 
not have their guilt revived ; and therefore, since they will not come 
up to others by a religious imitation, they seek to bring others down 
to themselves by scoffs, reproaches, and censures. 

[5.] They are set a work by Satan, thereby to keep off young begin 
ners, and to discourage and molest the godly themselves ; for bitter 
words pierce deep and enter into the very soul. 

Secondly, It is a grievous temptation ; it is reckoned in scripture 
among the persecutions : Gal. iv. 29, ' As he that was born after the 
flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit, even so is it now.' 
He meaneth those bitter mockings that Isaac did suffer from Ishmael : 
Gen. xxi. 9, ' And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which 
she had born unto Abraham, mocking/ When the wicked mock at 
our interest in God, shame our confidence, the church complaineth of 
it : Ps. cxxiii. 4, ' We are filled with the scorning of those that are at 
ease, and with the contempt of the proud ; ' the insinuations of those 
that live in full pomp, over the confidence and hope the saints have 
in God. So we read, Heb. x. 33, that the servants of God were 
' made a gazing-stock by reproaches and afflictions ; ' again, of ' cruel 
mockings,' Heb. xi. 36. It is more grievous when they mock and 
persecute at the same time ; there is both pain and shame. The 
parties mocked were God's saints ; the parties mocking were their 
persecutors and enemies, which sometimes proved to be their own 
brethren, of the same nation, language, kindred, religion. In short, 
these mockings issue out of contempt, and tend to the disgrace and 
dishonour of the party mocked ; they make it their sport to abuse 
them. David saith, ' Reproach hath broken my heart,' Ps. Ixix. 20. 

Thirdly, This should not move us either to open defection or par 
tial declining, for these reasons : 

1. It is one of the usual evils wherewith the people of God are 
tempted. Now a Christian should be fortified against obvious and 
usual evils. Let no man that is truly religious think that he can 
escape the mockage and contempt of the wicked. Jesus Christ him 
self ' endured the contradiction of sinners,' Heb. xii. 3 ; and the rather, 
that we might not wax weary and faint in our minds. This is a part 
of his cross, which we must bear after him. The Pharisees derided 
his ministry : Luke xvi. 14, ' The Pharisees also, who were covetous, 
heard all these things, and derided him.' They flouted at him when 
he hung on the cross : Mat. xxvii. 3944, * They that passed by him 
reviled him, wagging their heads, and saying, Thou that destroyest 
the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself : if thou be the 
Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests, 
mocking him with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others, him- 


self he cannot save : if he be the king of Israel, let him now come 
down from the cross, and we will believe him : he trusted in God ; 
let him deliver him now, if he will have him ; for he said, I am the 
Son of God. The thieves also which wero crucified with him cast the 
same in his teeth.' So Acts xvii. 32, ' Some mocked, and said, What 
will this babbler say ? ' Well, then, since it is a usual evil which God's 
children have suffered, it should be the less to us. Little can the 
wicked say if they cannot scoff, and little can we endure if we cannot 
abide a bad word. There needs no great deal ado to advance a man 
into the chair of the scorner ; if they have wickedness and boldness 
enough, they may soon let fly. 

2. This, as well as other afflictions, are not excepted out of our 
resignation to God. We must be content to be mocked and scorned, 
as well as to be persecuted and molested. It is mentioned in the beati 
tudes, Mat. v. 11, ' Blessed are you when men shall revile you, and per 
secute you, and say all manner of evil falsely against you for my sake/ 

3. Railing and calumniating will never prevail with rational and 
conscientious men to cause them to change their opinions. To leave 
the truth because others rail at it, is to consult with our affections, not 
out judgments. Solid reasoning convinceth our judgments, but raillery 
is to our affections ; and a rational conscientious man is governed by 
an enlightened mind, not perverse and preposterous affections : Eph. 
v. 17, ' Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the 
Lord is.' Therefore an honest man will not quit truth because others 
rail ; no, he looketh to his rule and warrant. A man will not be 
railed out of errors; nay, often they are the more rooted because 

4. It is the duty of God's children to justify wisdom : Mat. xi. 19, 
' Wisdom is justified of her children.' What is it to justify wisdom ? 
Justification is a relative word, opposed to crimination, so to justify 
is the work of an advocate ; or to condemnation, so it is the work of a 
judge. The children of wisdom discharge both parts ; they plead for 
the ways of God, and exalt them : so much as others deny them, they 
value them, esteem them, hold them for good and right. When they 
are never so much condemned and despised, the more zealous the 
saints will be for them : ' I will yet be more vile/ 

5. Carnal men at the same time approve what they seem to con 
demn ; they hate and fear strictness : Mark vi. 20, ' Herod feared 
John, because he was a just man and an holy, and observed him/ 
They scoff at it with their tongues, but have a fear of it in their con 
sciences ; they revile it white they live, but what mind are they of 
when they come to die ? Then all speak well of a holy life, and the 
strictest obedience to the laws of God : Num. xxiii. 10, ' Let me die 
the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his ;' Mat. xxv. 8, 
' Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out/ Oh, that they had 
a little of that holiness and strictness which they scoffed at whilst they 
were pursuing their lusts ! How will men desire to die ? as carnal and 
careless sinners, or as mortified saints ? Once more, they approve it in 
thesi, and condemn it in hypothesi. All the scoffers at godliness with 
in the pale of the visible church have the same Bible, baptism, creed, 
pretend to believe in the same God and Christ, which they own with 

VER. 51.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 45 

those whom they oppose. All the difference is, the one are real Chris 
tians, the other are nominal; some profess at large, the others practise 
what they profess ; the one have a religion to talk of, the others to live 
by. Once more, they approve it in the form, but hate it in the power. 
A picture of Christ that is drawn by a painter they like, and the for 
bidden image of God made by a carver, they will reverence and honour 
and be zealous for ; but the image of God framed by the Spirit in the 
hearts of the faithful, and described in the lives of the heavenly and the 
sanctified, this they scorn and scoff at. 

6. Their judgment is perverse, not to be stood upon. They count 
the children of God foolish and crack-brained. The crimination may 
be justly retorted ; their way is folly and madness, for they go dancing 
to their destruction. Though there be a God by whom and for whom 
they were made, and from whom they are fallen, and that they cannot 
be happy but in returning to him again, yet they carry it so as if there 
were no misery but in bodily and worldly things, no happiness but in 
pleasing the senses. The beginning, progress, and end of their course 
is from themselves, in themselves, and to themselves. They pour out 
their hearts to inconsiderable toys and trifles, and will neither admit 
information of their error, nor reformation of their practice till death 
destroy them. They neglect their main business, and leave it undone, 
and run up and down, they know not why, like children that fol 
low a bubble blown out of a shell of soap, till it break and dissolve. 
Now should those that are flying from wrath to come, and seeking 
after God and their happiness, be discouraged because these mad and 
merry worldlings scoff at them for their diligent seriousness ? Surely 
we should deride their derisions and contemn their contempt, who de 
spise God and Christ and their salvation. Should a wise man be 
troubled because madmen rail at him ? If they ' glory in their shame,' 
Phil. iii. 19, we must not be ashamed of our glory, nor ashamed to be 
found praying rather than sinning. If they think you fools for pre 
ferring heaven before inconsiderable vanities, remember they can no 
more j'udge of these things than a blind man of colours. 

7. If some dishonour, others will honour us, who are better able to 
judge : Ps. xv. 4, ' In whose eyes a vile person is contemned ; but he 
honoureth them that fear the Lord.' Some have as low an opinion of 
the world as the carnal world hath of the certainty of God's word. 
They who labour to bring piety and godliness into a creditable esteem 
and reputation will pay a hearty honour and respect to every good and 
godly man : 2 Cor. vi. 8, 9, ' By honour and dishonour, by evil report 
and good report, as deceivers, yet true ; as unknown, yet well known ; 
as dying, but behold we live ; as chastened and not killed ;' contume- 
liously used by some, and reverently by others ; vilified and contemned, 
counted deceivers by some, yet owned by others as faithful dispensers 
of the truth of God ; not esteemed and looked on by some, by others 
owned and valued : thus God dispenseth the lot of his servants. 

8. A Christian should be satisfied in the approbation of God, and 
the honour he puts upon him : John v. 44, ' How can ye believe, that 
receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh 
from God only ?' If God hath taken him into his family, and hath 
put his image upon him, and admitted him into present communion 


with him, and giveth him the testimony of his Spirit to assure him of 
his adoption here, and will hereafter receive him into eternal glory, 
this is enough, and more than enough, to counterbalance all the scorn 
of the world and the disgrace they would put upon us. If God approve 
us, should we be dejected at the scorn of a fool ? Is the approbation 
of 'the eternal God so small in our eyes, that everything can weigh it 
down, and cast the balance with us ? Alas !' their scorning and dis 
honouring is nothing to the honour which God puts upon us. 

9. There is a time when the promised crown shall be set upon our 
heads, and who will be ashamed then the scoffer or the serious 
worshipper of Christ ? God is resolved to honour Christ's faithful 
servants: John xii. 26, ' He that honoureth me, him shall my Father 
honour.' He will honour us at death, that is our private entrance 
into heaven ; but he will much more honour us publicly, at the day of 
judgment, when we shall be owned: Kev. iii. 5, 'I will confess his 
name before my Father, and before his angels ; ' and Christ shall be 
admired for the glory he puts upon a poor worm : 2 Thes. i. 10, 
' When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in 
all them that believe.' The wicked shall be reckoned with, called to 
an account by Christ: Jude, 14, 15, 'The Lord cometh with ten thou 
sand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all 
that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they 
have ungodlily committed, and of all their hard speeches which un 
godly sinners have spoken against him ; ' yea, judged by the saints : 
1 Cor. vi. 2, ' Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world ? ' 
Ps. xlix. 14, ' The upright shall have dominion over them in the morn 
ing ; ' that is, in the morning of the resurrection the saints shall be 
assumed by God to assist in judicature, and shall arise in a glorious 
manner, when the earth shall give up her dead. If this be not 
enough for us to counterbalance the scorn of the world, we are not 

Use. To persuade us to hold on our course, notwithstanding all the 
scorns and reproaches which are cast upon the despised ways of God. 
Now, to this end I shall give you some directions. 

1. 'Be sure that you are in God's way, and that you have his law to 
justify your practice, and that you do not make his religion ridiculous by 
putting his glorious name upon any foolish fancies of your own. A man 
that differs from the rest of Christians had need of a very clear light, that 
he may honour so much of Christianity as is owned, and may be able 
to vindicate his own particular way wherein he is engaged. The world 
is loath to own anything of God, and needless dissents justify their pre 
judice. I know a Christian is not infallible ; besides his general godly 
course, he may have his particular slips and errors ; yet because the 
world is apt to take prejudice, we sheuid not but upon the constraining 
evidence of conscience, enter upon any ways of dissent or contest, lest 
we justify their general hatred of godliness by our particular error. 

2. Take up the ways of God without a bias, and look straight for 
ward in a course of godliness : Prov. iv. 25, 'Let thine eyes look right on, 
and thine eyelids straight before thee ; ' that is, look not asquint upon 
any secular encouragements, but have thine eye to the end of the 
journey ; make God as thy witness, so thy master and judge. 

VER. 52.] :oxs i T<>N r.-.u.M cxix. 47 

3. Take heed of the first declinings. God's saints may decline some 
what in an hour of temptation, and yet be sincere in the main. Now 
evil is best stopped in the beginning: Heb. xii. 3, ' Consider him that 
endured such contradiction of sinners, lest ye be weary and faint iii 
your minds.' Weariness is a lesser, and fainting a higher degree of 
deficiency. I am weary before I faint, before the vital power retireth, 
and leaveth the outward part senseless. 

4. Since the proud scoff, encounter pride with humility. Mocking 
is far more grievous to the proud, who stand upon their honour, than 
to the lowly and humble. Therefore be not too desirous of the ap 
plause of men, especially of the blind and ungodly world ; make no 
great matter of their contempt, and scorn, or slander. 


I have remembered thy judgments of old, Lord ; and have com 
forted myself. VER. 52. 

THE man of God had complained in the former verse that the proud 
had him greatly in derision. His help against that temptation is re 
corded in this verse ; where observe 

1. David's practice, / have remembered thy judgments of old. 

2. The effect of that meditation, and Jiave comforted myself. 
The explication will be by answering two questions : 

1. What is meant by mishphatim, judgments? The word is used 
in scripture either for laws enacted, or judgments executed according 
to those laws. The one may be called c the judgments of his mouth,' as 
Ps. cv. 5, ' Remember the marvellous works that he hath done, his 
wonders, and the judgments of his mouth; ' the other, the judgments 
of his hand. As both will bear the name of judgments, so both may 
be said to be ' of old.' His decrees and statutes, which have an eter 
nal equity in them, and were graven upon the heart of man in inno- 
cency, may well be said to be ' of old;' and because from the beginning 
of the world God hath been punishing the Avicked, and delivering the 
godly in due time, his judiciary dispensations may be said to be so 
also. The matter is not much whether we interpret it of either his 
statutes or decrees, for they both contain matter of comfort, and we 
may see the ruin of the wicked in the word if we see it not in provi 
dence. Yet I rather interpret it oi' those righteous acts recorded in 
scripture, which God as a just judge hath executed in all ages, ac 
cording to the promises and threatenings annexed to his laws. Only 
in that sense I must note to you, judgments imply his mercies in the 
deliverance of his righteous servants, as well as his punishments on the 
wicked ; the seasonable interpositions of his relief for the one in their 
greatest distresses, as well as his just vengeance on the other, not 
withstanding their highest prosperities. 

2. What is meant by comfort ? Comfort is the strengthening the 
heart against evil, when either (1.) Faith is confirmed; (2.) Love to 
God increased ; (3.) Hope made more lively. 


Now these providences of God, suited to his word, comforted David, 
had more power and force to confirm and increase these graces, than all 
their theistical scoffs to shake them ; for he concluded from these in 
stances, that though the wicked flourish they shall perish, and though 
the godly be afflicted they shall be rewarded ; and so his faith, and hope, 
and love to God, and adherence to his ways was much encouraged. 
Comfort is sometimes spoken of in scripture as an impression of the 
comforting Spirit, sometimes as a result from an act of our meditation ; 
as here, ' I comforted myself.' These things are not contrary but 
subordinate. It is our duty to meditate on God's word and provi 
dence, and God blesseth it by the influence of his grace ; and the 
Spirit may be said to comfort us, and we also may be said to comfort 

Doct. That the remembrance of God's former dealings with his 
people, and their enemies in all ages, is a great relief in distress. 

The man of God is here represented as lying under the scorns and 
oppressions of the wicked. What did he do to relieve himself ? ' I 
remembered thy judgments of old, and have comforted myself/ So 
elsewhere, this was his practice : Ps. Ixxvii. 5, ' I considered the days 
of old, the years of ancient times ; ' again in the llth and 12th 
verses, ' I will remember the works of the Lord ; surely I will remem 
ber thy works of old : I will meditate also of all thy works, and talk of 
thy doings ; ' yet again, Ps. cxliii. 5, ' I remember the days of old, I 
meditate on all thy works ; I muse on the works of thy hands.' 
Thus did David often consider with what equity and righteousness, 
with what power and goodness, God carried on the work of his provi 
dence toward his people of old. The like he presseth on others ; Ps. 
cv. 5, 'Remember the marvellous works which he hath done, his 
wonders, and the judgments of his mouth.' Surely it is our duty, and 
it will be our comfort and relief. 

I shall despatch the point in these considerations : 

1. That there is a righteous God who governeth the world. All 
things are not hurled up and down by chance, as if the benefit we 
receive were only a good hit, and the misery a mere misfortune. No ; 
all things are ordered by a powerful, wise, and just God ; his word 
doth not only discover this to us, but his works : Ps. Iviii. 11, 'So that 
a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous ; verily 
there is a God that judgeth the earth;' that is, many times there 
are such providences that all that behold them shall see, and say that 
godliness and holiness are matters of advantage and benefit in this 
world, abstracted from the rewards to come, and so an infallible 
evidence that the world is not governed by chance, but administered 
by an almighty, all-wise, and most just providence. So elsewhere: 
Ps. ix. 16, '^The Lord is known by the judgments which he executeth ;' 
bysome eminent instances God showeth himself to be the judge of the 
world, and keepeth a petty sessions before the day of general assizes. 
Upon this account the saints beg the Lord to take off the veil from 
his providence, and to appear in protecting and delivering his children, 
and punishing their adversaries : Ps. xciv. 1, 2, ' thou judge of the 
earth, show thyself/ He is the supreme governor of the world, to 
whom it belongeth to do right. 

VER. 52.] SERMONS UPON PSA.LM cxix. 49 

2. This righteous God hath made a law according to which he will 
govern, and established it as the rule of commerce between him and 
his creatures. The precept is the rule of our duty, the sanction is the 
rule of his proceedings ; so that by this law we know what we must 
<lo, and what we may expect from him. Man is not made to be law 
less and ungoverned, but hath a conscience of good and evil, for with 
out the knowledge of God's will we cannot obey him ; nor can we 
know his will, unless it be some way or other revealed. No man in 
his wits can expect that God should speak to us immediately and by 
oracle ; we cannot endure his voice, nor can we see him and live. 
Therefore he revealed his mind by the light of nature and by scripture, 
which giveth us a clearer and more perfect knowledge of his will. 
Certainly those that live under that dispensation must expect that 
God will deal with them according to the tenor of it. The apostle 
telleth us, Rom. ii. 12, ' As many as have sinned without the law, shall 
perish without the law ; and as many as have sinned in the law, shall 
be judged by the law.' God hath been explicit and clear with them, 
to tell them what they should do and what they should expect. 

3. In the course of his dispensations he hath showed from the 
beginning of the world unto this day that he is not unmindful of this 
law, that the observance of this rule bringeth suitable blessings, and 
the violation of it the threatened judgments: Rom. i. 18, 'The wrath 
of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteous 
ness of men.' The impious and the unrighteous are breakers of either 
table, and the wrath of God is denounced and executed upon both, if 
there be any notorious violation of either; for in the day of God's 
patience he is not quick and severe upon the world : Heb. ii. 2, ' Every 
transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward ; ' 
thereby his word is owned. Execution, we say, is the life of the law ; 
it is but words without it, and can neither be a ground of sufficient 
hope in the promises, nor fear in the comminations. When punish 
ments are inflicted it striketh a greater terror : when the offenders are 
punished, the observers rewarded, then it is a sure rule of commerce 
between us and God. 

4. That the remembrance of the most illustrious examples of his 
justice, power, and goodness, should comfort us, though we do not 
perfectly feel the effects of his righteous government. 

[1.] I will prove we are apt to suspect God's righteous administra 
tion when we see not the effects of it. When the godly are oppressed 
with divers calamities, and the wicked live a life of pomp and ease, 
flourishing in prosperity and power, according to their own heart's 
desire, they are apt to think that God taketh no care of worldly affairs, 
or were indifferent to good and evil, as those profane atheists, Mai. ii. 
17, ' Every one that doth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he 
delighteth in him, or where is the God of judgment? ' as if God took 
pleasure in wicked men, and were no impartial judge, or had no provi 
dence at all, or hand in the government of the world. Temptations to 
atheism begin ordinarily at the matter of God's providence. First 
men carve out a providence of their own, that God loveth none but 
whom he dealeth kindly with in the matters of the world ; and if his 
dispensations be cross to their apprehensions, then his providence is 



not just. Nay, the people of God themselves are so offended that they 
break out into such words as these, Ps. Ixxiii. 11-13, ' How doth God 
know ? is there knowledge in the Most High ? Behold, these are the 
ungodly, who prosper in the world ; they increase in riches. Verily I 
have cleansed ray heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.' 
They dispute within themselves, Doth God indeed so discern and take 
notice of all this ? How cometh it about that he permitteth them ? 
for it is visible that the wicked enjoy the greatest tranquillity and 
prosperity, and have the wealth and greatness of the world heaped 
upon them : then what reward for purity of hearts or hands, or the 
strict exercise of godliness? 'Till God doth arise, and apply himself 
to vindicate his law, these are the thoughts and workings of men's 
hearts ; at least, it is a great vexation and trouble even to the godly, 
and doth tempt them to such imaginations and surmises of God. 

[2.] I shall prove that the remembrance of his judgments of old 
is one means to confirm the heart, for so we are enabled to tarry till 
God's judgments be brought to the effect. We see only the beginning, 
and so, like hasty spectators, will not tarry till the last act, when all 
errors shall be redressed. We shall make quite another judgment of 
providence when we see it altogether, and do not judge of it by parts. 
Surely then they shall see ' there is a reward for the righteous ; there 
is a God that judgeth the earth.' At first none seem so much to lose 
their labour, arid to be disregarded by God as the righteous, or to be 
more hardly dealt withal; but let us not be too hasty in judging 
God's work, while it is a-doing, but tarry to the end of things. In the 
word of God we have not only promises which are more firm than 
heaven and earth, but instances and examples of the afflictions of the 
righteous and their deliverance; therefore let us but suspend our 
censure till God hath put his last hand unto the work, and then you 
will see that if his people seem to be forsaken for a while, it is that 
they may be received for ever. All is wont to end well with the 
children of God, let God alone with his own methods ; after a walk in 
the wilderness, he will bring his people into a land of rest. 

But more particularly why his judgments of old are a comfort and 
relief to us. 

1. It is some relief to the soul to translate the thoughts from the 
present _ scene of things, and to consider former times. One cause of 
men's discomfort is to look only to the present, and so they are over 
whelmed ; but when we look back, we shall find that others have been 
afflicted before us, it is no strange thing, and others delivered before 
us upon their dependence on God, and adherence to him. You were 
not the first afflicted servants of God, nor are likely to be the last. 
Others have been in the like case, and after a while delivered and 
rescued out of their trouble : Ps. xxii. 4, 5, ' Our fathers trusted in 
thee ; they trusted, and thou didst deliver them ; they cried unto 
thee, and were delivered ; they trusted in thee, and were not con 
founded.' In looking back we see two things the carriage of the 
godly, and their success, or the salvation of God : ' The patience of 
Job and the end of the Lord,' James v. 11. They trusted God, and 
trusted him patiently and constantly in all their troubles. At last 
this trust was not in vain ; they were delivered, and not confounded ; 

TER. 52.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 51 

depending on God for rescue and deliverance, they never failed to 
receive it. Now, in looking back we look forward, and in their 
deliverance we see our own ; at least, you are fortified against the 
present temptation, whilst you see his people in all ages have their 
difficulties and conflicts, and also their deliverances ; so that you will 
not miscarry, nor be over-tempted by the present prosperity of the 
wicked : Ps. Ixxiii. 17, ' I went into the sanctuary, and there under 
stood I their end ; ' that is, entering into a sober consideration of God's 
counsels and providences, we may easily discern what is the ordinary 
conclusion of such men's felicities at last ; they pay full dear for their 
perishing pleasures. 

2. Because these are instances of God's righteous government, and 
instances do both enliven and confirm all matters of faith. Here you 
see his justice. God hath ever been depressing the proud and exalting 
the humble, gracious to his servants, terrible to the wicked. These 
examples also of rescuing others who have been in like condition 
before us show us what the wisdom and omnipotency of God can do 
in performing promises. When the performance of them seemeth 
hopeless, and all lost and gone, then they are infallible evidences of 
his tenderness, care, and fidelity towards all that depend upon him. 
Now, though we have nothing of our own experience to support us, 
yet the remembrance of what hath been done for others, the experiences 
of the saints in scripture, are set down for our learning, for the support 
of our faith and hope. They trusted in God, and found him a ready 
help ; why may not we ? God is the same that he was in former 
times, and carrieth himself in the same ways of providence to righteous 
and unrighteous as heretofore ; still promises are fulfilled, and threat- 
enings are executed. They on whose behalf God showed himself so 
just, powerful, wise, good, and tender, had not a better God than we 
have, nor a more worthy Redeemer, nor a surer covenant. If they had 
a stronger faith, it is our own fault, and we should labour to increase 
it : the saints are as dear to God as ever. And as to the wicked, they 
that inherit others' sins shall inherit others' judgments. It is true, 
we live not in the age of wonders ; but God's ordinary providence is 
enough for our turn, and those very wonders show that he hath power 
and love enough to protect and deliver us. Well, then, these are 
instances of his righteous government, and instances which concern us, 
which is my second reason. 

3. By these judgments of old you see the exact correspondency be 
tween his word and works. Where his voice is heard, but his hand 
not seen, his word is coldly entertained ; but by his providence he 
establisheth the authority of his law. The word spoken by angels was 
Xo7o<? /9e/3cuo5, ' a steadfast word/ Heb. ii. 2. A word may be said to 
be steadfast either in respect of the unalterable will of the lawgiver, 
or in respect of execution, or with respect to the party to whom it is 
given, who firmly and certainly believeth it. The one maketh way 
lor the other. God is resolved to govern the world by this rule, there 
fore he doth authorise it, own it by the dispensations of his providence ; 
accordingly the world learneth to reverence it : Hosea vii. 12, ' I will 
chastise them, as their congregation hath heard.' God's word against 
sin and sinners will at last take effect, and end in sad chastisements ; 


and they that would not believe their danger are made to feel it. Now 
his promises will have their effect as well as his threatenings : Micah 
ii. 7, ' Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly ? ' The 
word of God doth not only speak good, but do good. The word's 
saying of good, is indeed doing of good. The performance is so cer 
tain, that when it is said it may be accounted done. We are apt to 
despise the word of God as an empty sound. No ; it produceth notable 
effects in the world. The sentences that are there, whether of mercy 
or judgment, are decrees given forth by the great judge of the world ; 
whereupon execution is to follow, as is foretold. Now, when we see it 
done, and can compare the Lord's word and work together, it is a 
mighty support to our faith, whether it be in our or in former ages. 
For you see the word is not a vain scarecrow in its threatenings, nor 
do we build castles in the air, when we do depend upon its promises : 
the judgments of his mouth will be the judgments of his hand, and 
providence is a real comment upon and proof of the truth of his word. 

4. God's judgments of old, or his wonderful works, were never in 
tended only for the benefit of that age in which they were done, but 
the benefit of all those who should hear of them by any credible means 
whatsoever. Surely God never intended they should be buried in 
dark oblivion, but that after-ages may be the better for the remem 
brance of them. Witness these scriptures : Ps. cxlv. 4, ' One genera 
tion shall praise thy works unto another, and remember thy mighty 
acts;' Joel i. 3, ' Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their 
children, and their children another generation.' So Ps. Ixxviii. 3-7, 
' That which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us, 
we will not hide them from their children ; showing the generations 
to come the praises of the Lord, and his wonderful works which he 
hath done : for he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a 
law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make 
them known to their children, that the generation to come might know 
them, even the children to come, which should be born ; who should 
arise and declare to their children, that they may set their hope in 
God, and not forget the works of the Lord, but keep his command 
ments, and might not be as their fathers,' &c. From all which places 
and many more I observe 

[1.] That we should tell generations to come what we have found 
of God in our time, and that we should use all ways and means to 
transmit the knowledge of God's notable and wondrous providences 
for his people to posterity. 

[2.] That this report of God's former works is a special means of 
edification, for therefore God would have them recorded and told for 
the special benefit of the ages following. 

[3.] And more particularly that this is a great means and help of 
faith. For in one of the places it is said ' that they may set their faith 
and hope in God ; ' and from all we may conclude that, by remember 
ing God's judgments of old, we may be much comforted ; as in re 
membering God's works when the church was first reformed in 
Luther's time, the delivering of England from the Spanish invasion, 
gunpowder-treason, &c., for the confirming our faith and confidence 
m God. All God's judgments that were done in the days of our fore- 

VER. 52.] .M-N- II-ON PSALM cxix. 53 

fathers, and in all generations, if they come to our knowledge by a true 
report, or record, are of use to warn us and comfort us ; yea, the bring 
ing Israel out of Egypt and Babylon, or any notable work done since 
the beginning of the world till now. 

Use. The use is to press us to take this course as one remedy to comfort 
us in our distresses. In distresses of conscience the blood of Christ 
is the only cure ; but in temptations arising from the scorn and insul- 
tation of enemies, remember what God hath done for his people of old, 
and let his providence support our faith : Ps. xxiii. 4, ' Thy rod and 
thy staff comfort me.' Pedwn pastorale for the protection and guid 
ing of the sheep and driving away the wolf, the rod and staff are the 
instruments of the shepherd. More particularly consider 

1. What is to be observed and remembered. All the eminent pas- 
sages of God's providence, when acts of power have been seasonably 
interposed for the rescue of his people, judgments of all kind, public, 
universal, private and personal, our own experiences : 2 Cor. i. 10, 
' Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver ; in whom 
we trust that he will yet deliver us.' The experiences of others, not in 
one, but in every age ; for in every place and age God delighteth to 
leave a monument of his righteousness, and all is for the consolation 
and instruction of the church. Judgments in our time, judgments in 
former times, blow off the dust from old mercies, and the inscription 
of them will be a kind of prophecy to your faith. But especially cast 
your eye often upon the Lord's manner of dealing with his saints in 
scripture, their consolations and deliverances received after trouble ; 
partly because the word of God is a rich storehouse of these instances 
and examples, and partly because of the infallibility of the record, 
where things are delivered to us with so much simplicity and truth ; 
partly also because of the manner and ends in which and for which 
they are recorded. But if I would have recourse to scripture, should 
I not rather make use of the promises? Ans. We must not set one 
part of scripture against another ; but examples do mightily help us 
to believe promises, as they are a pledge of the justice, faithfulness, 
care and love of God towards his people ; and I know not by what 
secret force and influence invite us to hope for what God hath done 
for others of his servants. 

2. How they must be considered. Seriously, as everything that 
cometh from God. A slight consideration will not draw forth the 
profitable use of them. When they are looked on cursorily, or 
lightly passed by, the impression of God upon his works cannot be 
discerned, therefore they must be well considered, with all their circum 
stances : Ps. cxliii. 2, David sufficed not to say, ' I remember thy 
works of old,' but ' I meditate on all thy works ; I muse on the works 
of thy hands ; ' Ps. Ixxvii. 12, ' I remember thy works of old ; I will 
meditate also of all thy works.' And surely this should be a delight 
ful exercise to the children of God, as it is for the son of a noble and 
princely father to read the chronicles where his father's acts are re 
corded, or the famous achievements of his ancestors : Ps. cxi. 2, ' The 
works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure 
therein.' Some works of God have a large impression of his power 
and goodness, and they are made to be remembered, as it after fol- 


loweth there. He is ready to do the like works when his church 
standeth in need thereof. Now they must be sought out, for there is 
more hid treasure and excellency in them than doth at first appear. 
He that would reap the use and benefit of them should take pleasure 
to search out matter of praise for God and trust for himself. Of all 
other study, this is the most worthy exercise and employment of godly 
men, to study and find out the works of God in all their purposes and 
designs ; there is more pleasure in such meditations than in all other 
the most sensual divertisements. 

3. The end is to be strengthened and confirmed in the way of our 
duty, in dependence upon God, and adherence to him ; or that faith 
may be strengthened in a day of affliction, and our hearts encouraged 
in cleaving to the ways of God. 

[1.] Dependence upon God, which implieth a committing ourselves 
to his power, a submitting ourselves to his will, and a waiting his 
leisure ; all these are in trust, and all these are encouraged by remem 
bering his judgments of old. 

(1.) Committing ourselves to his power is trust and dependence : 
' Our God is able to deliver us ' from the fiery furnace, Dan. iii. 17 ; 
Rom. iv. 21, ' Being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was 
able also to perform.' Now this is abundantly seen in his judgments 
of old : Isa. li. 9, ' Awake, awake, put on strength, arm of the Lord ; 
awake, as in the ancient days, in the generations of old. Art not thou 
he which hath cut Eahab, and wounded the dragon ; which hast dried 
the sea, and the waters of the great deep ?' If God will but take to 
himself his great power, and bestir himself as in ancient days, what 
should a believer fear ? 

(2.) Submitting ourselves to God's will is a great act of dependence, 
submitting before the event. Now, how may a believer acquiesce in 
God's providence, and enjoy a quiet repose of heart ? He knoweth not 
what God will do with him, but this he knoweth, he hath to do with 
a good God, who is not wont to forsake those that depend upon him ; 
he hath wisdom and goodness enough to deliver us, or to make our 
troubles profitable to us. Now his judgments of old do much help 
to breed this composedness of mind : Ps. ix. 10, ' They that know thy 
name will put their trust in thee ; for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken 
them that seek thee/ They that know anything of God's wont, and 
have learned from others, or experimented themselves, or by searching 
into the records of time have found with what wisdom and power, 
justice and mercy, God governeth the world, will be firmly grounded 
in their trust and reliance on these, without applying themselves to any 
of the sinful aids or policies of the world for succour, or troubling 
themselves about success; for God never forsook any godly man in his 
distress, that by prayer and faith made his humble and constant appli 
cations to him. 

(3.) If you take in the third thing, tarrying or waiting God's 
leisure; for 'he that believeth will not make haste,' Isa. xxvi. 16. 
God will tarry to try his people, to observe his enemies, till their sins 
are full, and tarry to bring about his -providences in the best time : 
1 Peter v. 6, ' Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand 
of God, that he may exalt you,' i.e. deliver you, ' in due time.' It may 

VER. 52.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. f>5 

be he will not at all afford temporal deliverance, but will refer it to the 
time when he will 'judge the world in righteousness,' Acts xvii. 31. 
Now, what will relieve the soul, engage it to wait? His judgments of 
old ; at the long run the good cause hath prevailed, the suppressed 
truth hath got up, the buried Christ hath risen again, and after labours 
and patience the fruit sown hath been reaped ; therefore in due time 
he will look upon our afflictions ; in the sanctuary we understand the 
end of things : the beginnings are troublesome, but the end is peace. 

[2.] Adherence to God ; this followeth necessarily from the former, 
for dependence begets observance. Till a man trusts God he can never 
be true to him ; for the ' evil heart of unbelief will ' draw us from the 
living God,' Heb. iii. 12 ; but if we can depend upon him, temptations 
have lost their force. The great cause of all defection is the desire of 
some present sensible benefit, and we cannot tarry God's leisure, nor 
wait for his help in the way of our duty. Now, if God's people of old 
have trusted, and were never confounded, it is a great engagement in 
the way of his judgments to wait for him without miscarrying. 

A case of conscience may be propounded : How could David be 
comforted by God's judgments, for it seemeth a barbarous thing to 
delight in the destruction of any ? It is said, Prov. xvii. 5, ' He that 
is glad of calamities shall not be unpunished.' 

Ans. 1. It must be remembered that judgment implies both parts 
of God's righteous dispensation the deliverance of the godly and the 
punishment of the wicked. Now, in the first sense, there is no ground 
of scruple ; for it is said, Ps. xciv. 15, ' Judgment shall return to 
righteousness ; ' the sufferings of good men shall be turned into the 
greatest advantage ; as the context showeth that God will not cast off 
his people, but judgment shall return unto righteousness. 

Ans. 2. Judgment, as it signifieth punishment of the wicked, may 
jet be a comfort, not as it importeth the calamity of any, but either 

1. When the wicked are punished, the snare and allurement to sin is 
taken away, which is the hope of impunity ; for by their punishments 
we see it is dangerous to sin against God : Isa. xxvi. 9, ' When thy 
judgments are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will 
learn righteousness,' the snare is removed from many a soul. 

2. Their derision and mockage of godliness ceaseth ; they do no 
longer vex and pierce the souls of the godly, saying, 'Aha ! aha !' Ps. 
xl. 15, 'It is as a wound to their heart when they say, Where is your 
<3od,' Ps. xlii. 10. 

3. The impediments and hindrances of worshipping and serving God 
are taken away : when the nettles are rooted up the corn hath more 
room to grow. 

4. Opportunity of molesting God's servants is taken away, and afflict 
ing the church by their oppressions, and so way is made for the enlarg 
ing of Christ's kingdom. 

5. As God's justice is manifested: Prov. xi. 10, ' When it goeth well 
with the righteous, the city rejoiceth; but when the wicked perish, there 
is shouting;' Ps. Iii. 6, 'The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall 
laugh at him : Lo ! this is the man that made not God his portion ; ' 
Eev. xviii. 20, ' Rejoice over Babylon, ye holy apostles and prophets, 
for God hath avenged you on her.' When the word of God is fulfilled, 
surely then we may rejoice that his justice and truth are cleared. 



Horror hath taken hold on me, because of the wicked which forsake 
thy law. VER. 53. 

THE man of God in the former verse had showed what comfort he took 
in remembering God's judgments of old, meaning thereby his right 
eous dispensations in delivering the godly, and punishing the wicked. 
He now showeth that, seing God's horrible judgments on the wicked, 
he was seized and stricken with a very great fear. 
In the words observe 

1. A great passion described. 

2. The cause of it assigned. 

1. A great passion described, horror hath taken hold on me. The 
word for horror signifieth also a tempest or storm. Translations vary ; 
some read it, as Junius, a storm overtaking me ; Ainsworth, a burning 
horror hath seized me, and expoundeth it a storm of terror and dismay ; 
the Septuagint, advpia /careo-^e /^e, faintness arid dejection of mind 
hath possessed me ; our old translation, I am horribly afraid. All 
translations, as well as the original word, imply a great trouble of 
mind, and a vehement commotion like a storm. It was matter of 
disquiet and trembling to David. 

2. What is the matter ? The reason is given in the latter clause, 
because of the wicked ivhich forsake thy law. Now this reason may 
be supposed to be 

[1.] Either because of the storm of trouble raised by them, or per 
secution from them ; and so it would note the outrageousness of those 
who have cast off the yoke, all fear of God, and respect to his law; and 
so also the imbecility and weakness of the saints, who are not able to 
stand against violent evils and assaults of temptation. But this is not 
so consistent with David's constancy and comfort, asserted in the former 

[2.] Because of the detriment and loss which might accrue to the 
public ; they bring on common j udgments and calamities. It is a Jewish 
proverb that two dry sticks will set a green one afire : ' One sinner 
destroyeth much good,' Eccles. ix. 18, much more mercy. 1 Now the 
godly, which believe God's 'word, are troubled when they see wicked 
ness increaseth ; they know this will turn to loss and ruin in the issue; 
therefore it causeth a grievous horror and indignation to seize upon 
them, for they have a tender and public spirit. 

[3.] Besides the common calamities which they might bring upon 
others, the sore punishment which they would bring upon themselves 
was a horror to him, which showeth a charitable affection to enemies. 
The punishment, which had not as yet seized upon them, nor did they 
think of it, yet being prepared for their wickedness by the justice of 
God, was a grief and trouble to David, as it is to all good men, to see 
the wicked run on to their own destruction and condemnation. These 
two last senses I prefer. 

Doct. It argueth a good spirit to be grieved to see God's laws broken, 
and to be stricken with fear because of those judgments which come 

1 Qu. 'many'? ED. 

VER. 53.] SERMOXS UPON PSALM cxix. .'7 

from God by reason of the wickedness of the wicked. The reasons 

First, Here is matter of great commotion of spirit to any atten 
tive and serious beholder ; for the cause assigned in the text is, 'be 
cause they forsake thy law.' There are two things in the law the 
precept and the sanction, by penalties and rewards. Now, they that 
forsake the law violate the precept and slight the sanction ; and so two 
things grieve the godly their sin and their punishment, how griev 
ously they sin, and what grievous punishments they may expect ! 

1. That the law is violated, that they should forsake God, and all 
thoughts of obedience to him, andso make light of his law. ' Sin is 
ai/o/ii'a, 1 John iii. 4, the trangression of the law ;' a contempt of 
God's authority. If we consider the intrinsic evil of sin, we shall see 
that it is not a small thing, but a horrible evil iu itself ; a thing not 
to be laughed at, but feared, whether our own or others. 

[1.] There is folly in it, as it is a deviation from the best rule which 
the divine wisdom hath set unto us. If we should look pon the law 
of God as a bare direction or counsel given us by one that is wiser 
than we, it is a contempt of the wisdom of God, as if he knew not how 
to govern the world, and what is good and meet for man, so much as 
he himself ; and so a poor worm is exalted above God : Micah vi. 8, 
' He hath showed thee, O man, what is good.' Now shall we slight his 
direction, and in effect say our own way is better ? Reason requireth 
that they who cannot choose for themselves should obey their guides, 
and since they are not wise for themselves, content themselves with the 
wisdom of others who see farther than they do, as Elymas the sorcerer, 
when he was struck blind, ' sought about for somebody to lead him by 
the hand,' Acts xiii. 11. Can a blind man feel out his way better than 
another who hath eyes to choose it for him ? God is wiser than we, 
and all who would not contemn their creator should think so. He hath 
reduced the sum of our duty into a holy law ; now for us after all this 
to run of our heads, and to consult with our foolish lusts and the sug 
gestions of the devil, who is our worst enemy, is extreme folly and 
madness, and so doth every one who breaketh the laws of God. 

[2.] Laws are not only to direct, but have a binding power and force 
from the authority of the lawgiver. God doth not only give us counsel 
as a friend, but commandeth us as a sovereign ; and so the second 
notion whereby the evil of sin is set forth, is that of disobedience and 
rebellion ; and so it is a great injury done to God, because it is a de 
preciation and contempt of his authority. As Pharaoh said, Exod. v. 
2, ' Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice ?' or those rebels, 
Ps. xii, 4, ' Our tongues are our own ; who is Lord over us ?' We 
will speak and think and do what we please, and own no law but our 
own lusts. Now, though sinners do not say so in so many direct and 
formal words, yet this is the interpretation of their sinful actions. 
Whenever they sin, they despise the law which forbiddeth that sin, 
and so by consequence the authority of him that made it : 2 Sam. xii. 
9, 10, ' Wherefore hast thou sinned in despising the commandment?' 
Tush ! I will do it ; it is no matter for the law of God that standeth 
in the way, is the language of the corrupt and obstinate heart. Now 
no man can endure to have his will crossed by an inferior, and will 


God take it at their hands ? And therefore the children of God, who 
have a great reverence of God's authority, when they see it so openly 
violated and contemned, are filled with horror. Will not God be 
tender of his power and sovereignty ? will he see his authority so 
lightly esteemed, and take no notice of it ? 

[3.] It is shameful ingratitude. Man is God's beneficiary, from whom 
he hath received life and being, and all things, and therefore is bound 
to love him and serve him according to his declared will. We con 
tinually depend upon him every moment : ' In him we live, and move, 
and have our being,' Acts xvii. 28 ; and surely dependence should 
beget observance, and therefore men should be loath to break with God, 
or careful to reconcile themselves to him on whom they depend every 
moment : Acts xii. 20, ' Herod was highly displeased with them of 
Tyre and Sidon ; but they came with one accord to him, and having 
made Blastus, the king's chamberlain, their friend, desired peace; 
because their country was nourished by the king's country.' There 
fore it is extreme unthankful ness, stupidity, and brutishness for them 
to carry themselves so unthankfully towards God, who giveth them 
life and being, and all things. The brutes themselves, who have no 
capacity to know God as the first cause of all being, yet take notice 
of the next hand from whence they receive their supplies : Isa. i. 3, 
' The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master's crib ;' and in their 
kind express their gratitude to such as feed them, and make much of 
them ; but wicked men take no notice of the God who hath made them, 
and kept them at the expense and care of his providence, and hath been 
beneficial to them all their days ; but as they slight their lawgiver, so 
they requite their great benefactor with unkindness and provocation. 

[4.] It is a disowning of his propriety in them, as if they were not 
his own, and God had not power to do with his own as he pleaseth. 
The creature is absolutely at God's dispose, not only as he hath a 
jurisdiction over us as our lawgiver and king over his subjects, but as 
a proprietary and owner over his goods. A prince hath a more abso 
lute power over his lands and goods than over his subjects. God is not 
only a ruler but an owner, as he made us out of nothing, and bought 
us when worse than nothing, and still keepeth us from returning into 
our original nothing ; and shall those who are absolutely his own with 
draw themselves from him, and live according to their own will, and 
speak and do what they list ? What is this but a plain denial of God's 
propriety and lordship over us ? as those, Ps. xii. 4, ' Who have said, 
With our tongues will we prevail, our lips are our own ; who is Lord 
over us?' Surely it should strike us with horror to think that any 
creatures should thus take upon them. Sin robbeth God of his pro 
priety in the creatures. If we consider his natural right, sin is such 
an injury and wrong to God as theft and robbery. If we consider our 
own covenant, as we voluntarily acknowledge God's propriety in us, so 
it is adultery, breach of marriage vow ; and with respect to the de 
voting and consecrating ourselves to him, so it is sacrilege. 

[5.] It is a contempt of God's glorious majesty. What else shall 
we make of a plain contest with him, or a flat contradiction of his holy 
will ? For whilst we make our depraved will the rule and guide of our 
actions against his holy will, we plainly contend with him whose will 

VER. 53.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 59 

shall stand, his or ours, and so jostle him out of the throne, and pluck 
the crown off his head and the sceptre out of his hands, and usurp his 
authority ; and so slight the eternal power of this glorious king, as if 
he were not able to avenge the wrong done to his majesty, and we 
could make good our party against him : 1 Cor. x. 22, ' Do we pro 
voke the Lord to jealousy ? are we stronger than he ? ' Isa. xlv. 9, 
' Woe to him that striveth with his Maker ; let the potsherd strive 
with the potsherds of the earth.' Surely they that strive with their 
Maker will find God too hard for them. Now all these and many 
more considerations should make a serious Christian sensible, when he 
considereth how God is dishonoured in the world. 

2. Their punishment. This relateth to the sanction by penalties 
and rewards. They that forsake the law have quite divested them 
selves of all hope, and cast off all dread of him. The law offereth 
death or life to the transgressors and observers of it : Deut. xxx. 15, 
' Behold, I have set before you good and life, death and evil.' Now 
this is as little believed as the precept is obeyed ; and thence cometh 
all their boldness in sinning and coldness in duty. 

[1.] God allureth us to obedience by promises of this world and the 
next, which, if they were believed, men would be more forward and 
ready to comply with his will. As to the promises of the next world, 
lie hath told us of eternal life. Surely God meaneth as he speaketh in 
his word, he will make good his word to the obedient ; but the sinner 
thinketh not so, and therefore is loath to undergo the difficulties of 
obedience, because he hath so little sense and certainty of fulfil 
ling the promise. The apostle telleth us, Heb. xi. 6, ' That with 
out faith it is impossible to please God, for he that cometh to God 
must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of those that 
diligently serve him ;' implying that if the fundamental truths of 
God's being and bounty were believed, we could not be so careless as 
we are, not so barren and unfruitful as we are ; but unbelief lieth 
at the bottom of all our carelessness : 1 Cor. xv. 58, ' Be ye steadfast, 
unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch 
as you know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.' They that 
know what a reward is prepared for the righteous, cannot but be 
serious and diligent themselves, and pity others, and be troubled at 
their neglect. Oh I what a good God they deprive themselves of, and 
throw away their souls for a trifle 1 But because the Lord knoweth 
how apt we are to be led by things present to sense, that work strongly 
upon our apprehensions; and that things absent and future lie in 
another world, and wanting the help of sense to convey them to our 
minds, make little impression upon our hearts ; therefore God draws us 
to our duty by present benefits. Even carnal nature is apt to be 
pleased with these kinds of mercies, protection, provision, and worldly 
comforts : Ps. cxix. 56, ' This I had, because I kept thy precepts :' Mat 
vi. 33, ' Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, 
and all these thing shall be added to you ;' 1 Tim. iv. 8, ' Godliness is 
profitable to all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and 
of that which is to come.' But alas \ the naughty heart cannot depend 
on God for the effects of his common goodness. Men distrust provi 
dence, and therefore take their own course, which is a grief and trouble 


to a gracious heart, to see they cannot depend on God for things of a 
present accomplishment. 

[2.] The other part of the sanction is his threatenings and punish 
ments. Now in what a direful condition are all the deserters of God's 
law ! Besides the loss of heaven, there is eternal fire, which is the 
portion of the wicked : Ps. xi. 6, ' Upon the wicked he will rain 
snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest ; this shall be the 
portion of their cup.' They may flourish for a time, yet at length 
sudden, terrible, and irremediable destruction shall be the portion of 
their cup. God's judgments are terrible and unavoidable, both here 
and hereafter : Epb. v. 6, ' For these things cometh the wrath of God 
upon the children of disobedience ;' Rom. ii. 9, ' Tribulation, wrath, 
and anguish upon the soul of man that doth evil.' Alas ! these things 
are slighted by wicked men, or else they would not venture as they do \ 
you cannot drive a dull ass into the fire that is kindled before him : 
Prov. i. 17, ' In vain is the snare laid in the sight of any bird ;' and 
would a reasonable creature wilfully run into such a danger if he were 
sensible of it, and venture upon so dreadful threatenings if he did be 
lieve them ? No ; they think it is but a vain scarecrow, a deceitful 
terror, or a false flash of fire, and therefore embolden themselves in 
their rebellion. But God's people, that know the certainty of these 
things, they cannot but conceive a great horror at it when they think 
of the end of these men, their judgments in this world, but especially 
their eternal condemnation in the world to come. Well, then, forsaking 
the law, despising the precept, and slighting the sanction, should be a 
matter of great horror to a tender and gracious spirit. 

Secondly, It argueth that they have a due sense of things, though 
others have not. 

1. They have a due sense of the evil of sin : Prov. xiv. 9, ' Fools 
make a mock of sin;' they sport at it, and jest at it, and count it 
nothing ; but gracious and tender hearts have other apprehensions ; 
they know that this is a violation of the holy and righteous and good 
law of God, and that it will be bitter in the issue, and that they which 
had pleasure in unrighteousness shall be damned. They look upon it 
with sad hearts, though it be committed by others, that the wicked go 
dancing to hell, and are angry with those who mourn for them, and 
dislike that vain course which they affect. 

2. They have a due sense of the wrath of God. The prophet that 
threatened it saith, that ' rottenness entered into his bones, and 
his bowels quivered,' Hab. iii. 16. A lion trembleth to see a dog 
beaten before him. It is a trouble to the godly to think of the horrible 
punishments of the wicked, which they dread not, nor dream of ; but the 
saints have a reverence for their Father's anger. Search the scriptures, 
and you shall find that the godly are more troubled at God's judg 
ments than the wicked themselves who are to feel them : Dan. iv. 19, 
' Daniel was astonished for an hour, and his thoughts troubled him/ 
when he was to reveal God's judgments against Nebuchadnezzar. So 
the prophet, Jer. iv. 19, ' My bowels, my bowels ; I am pained at the 
very heart;' ver. 22, 'But my people are foolish, they are sottish 
children ;' they, that brought the evil upon themselves, are senseless and 
stupid : Ps. xc. 11, 'Who knows the power of thine anger ? according 


to thy fear, so is thy wrath.' Few lay to heart the terrible effects of 
God's heavy wrath ; but the righteous do ; they are truly affected with 
it, and with the cause of it, which is sin. God's wrath affects men 
according to the reverence and fear wherewith they entertain it, but to 
the wicked it is but a vain and empty terror. 

3. The certainty of the threatenings. God's people see wrath and 
judgment in the face of sin, whereas those who are drowned in 
sensuality and carnal delights scoff at God's menaces and jest at his 
judgments, neither crediting the one nor expecting the other, as if it 
were but a mere mockery : Isa. v. 19, ' Come, say they, let him mate 
speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it.' In their security they 
will believe nothing but what they feel. 

4. The bane which cometh to communities and societies from the 
increase of the wicked, especially when their wickedness groweth to an 
height; that is, when it is committed with boldness : Isa iii. 9, ' They 
declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not ;' when men have lost all 
shame and modesty, and will not be restrained by any law. Surely if 
we know the evil of sin, the terribleness of God's wrath, believe the 
truth of his threatenings, and then consider the danger that will come 
to our dearest country, we cannot but be greatly moved. If a man 
were sailing in a bark, and see it guided so that it must necessarily run 
against a rock and suffer shipwreck, he would be sorry and deeply 

Thirdly, It cometh from a good cause. 

1. In the general it argueth a good constitution of soul : 2 Peter ii. 
8, ' For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hear 
ing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful 
deeds.' Passively he was vexed with the impurity of the Sodomites, 
and actively he vexed himself. So far as we are carnal we are pleased 
with sin, so far as we are spiritual we are vexed with it : Isa. Ixiii. 10, 
' They rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit.' The better any are, the 
more affected with public sins and judgments. Christ weepeth over 
Jerusalem for their impenitency and approaching desolation : Luke 
xix. 41, 42, ' As he came near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, 
saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the 
things which belong unto thy peace ! but now they are hid from thine 
eyes/ This was in the midst of the acclamations and hosannahs of the 
multitude, when he was welcomed with a triumph. Paul telleth the 
Corinthians, 2 Cor. xii. 21, ' I am afraid, when I come among you, my 
God will humble me, and I shall bewail many which have not repented 
of the fornication, lasciviousness, and uncleanness which they have 
committed.' The more holy any one is, the more he is affected and 
struck at heart with the sins of others. 

2. A deep resentment of God's dishonour. When his glory is 
obscured, it is a wound to tlie hearts of his children ; as a child can 
not endure to hear or see his father disgraced. Surely God's glory is 
dear to the saints : Ps. Ixix. 9, ' The reproaches of them that reproached 
tliee are fallen upon me.' Injuries done to God and religion affect 
them no less nearly than personal injuries which are done to them 
selves. So affectionately zealous are they for God's honour, which is 
obscured by the wickedness of the wicked, who forsake the perfect 


righteous law of God, and, usurping God's authority, make a new law 
to themselves. 

3. Compassion to men. Though they are wicked men, yet they are 
men, made after God's image, remotely capable to know and love God, 
and live with him for ever, whom they should otherwise embrace as 
brethren ; to see them treasure up wrath against the day of wrath 
should be a grief and a trouble to us ; to think of the everlasting; 
destruction which they will bring upon themselves should afflict us. 
Thus the apostle : Phil iii. 18, 19, ' Of whom I have told you often, 
and now tell you weeping, that they are enemies to the cross of Christ, 
whose end is destruction.' To see men go by droves to hell, it should 
work on our bowels. If this brought Christ out of heaven to die for 
sinners, surely this should make us sadly resent their condition. 

4. This produceth good effects ; it is a disposition of great use and 
profit to us. 

[1.] It deterreth us from sinning ourselves, and so we are kept from 
being tainted with the contagion of evil examples ; for what we mourn 
for in others we will not commit ourselves. The heart is made more 
averse from sin every day by this practice, whereas those that take 
pleasure in the sins of others do the same things, Horn. i. 32, consent 
with them to dishonour God, and so howl among the wolves, as the 
Latin proverb is ; but when this is a trouble to us, it maketh us avoid 
their example, notwithstanding terrors and allurements to the con 
trary ; terrors from the angry world, who cannot endure that any 
should part company ; and allurements from our commodious living 
among the offenders. Thus Lot escaped in Sodom, because ' his 
righteous soul was vexed ;' and Noah ' was upright in his generation,' 
because he reproved the deeds of the wicked. 

[2.] When we see their punishment in their sin, and fear a storm 
when the clouds are gathering, it puts us upon mourning and humili 
ation, which is a necessary duty in evil times : Jer. xiii. 17, 'If you will 
not hear, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride.' None 
do so feelingly bewail the sins of the times as those who have a tender 
holy heart, affected with God's dishonour, and compassion over the 
souls of men. Others do personate a mourning, and act a part in a 
fast, as the mourning women among the Jews did at funerals, or 
as the boys in the streets would act their festivities and lamentations : 
Mat. xi. 16, 17, ' Whereunto shall I liken this generation ? It is like 
unto children sitting in the market, and calling to their fellows, and 
saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced ; we have 
mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented.' Therefore it is of 
great use to us to get this frame of spirit. 

J3 ; ] It maketh us more careful to reform others, so far as it lieth 
within our power. Certainly without this disposition a man will never 
seek the conversion of souls for which Christ died ; but have it once, 
and then you will take all occasions to do good to the souls of your 
children, and ^ relations, and neighbours. When Paul was stirred in 
spirit, Trapw^vvero TO Trvevpa, exasperated within himself, because he 
saw the whole city given to idolatry, ' He disputed with them daily in 
the market-place,' and took all occasions to reclaim them. So if you 
were affected with the evil of sin, horribleness of wrath, certainty of 

VER. 53.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 63 

the word of God, and the bane that cometh to any society by having 
the wicked amongst them, would you let your children, and servants, 
or friends go on in a damning course ? Would you not have com 
passion on them, and pluck them out of the fire ? Surely this should 
be the temper of every minister when he hath to do with sinners, that 
his ministry may not be a sleepy ministry; of every parent and house 
holder, that all under his roof may be found in the way of the Lord ; 
of every Christian towards his friends. 

[4.] It justifieth our zeal in reproving. Surely reproof had need to 
be managed with great tenderness and compassion, that it may not 
seem to flow from hatred and ill-will to the persons reproved, nor from 
petulancy of spirit, nor a desire of venting reproaches, but from pure 
zeal to the glory of God, grief to see him dishonoured, souls in danger 
to be lost, or hardened through the deceitfulness of sin ; therefore holy 
men, in their sharpest invectives against sin, or oppositions of it, have 
always mingled compassion : Mark iii. 5, ' Our Lord looked about with 
anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts. ' There was more 
of compassion than passion in our Lord Jesus Christ ; he was angry, 
but grieved. So Paul, when he disputed earnestly against the Jews, 
yet telleth us, Rom. ix. 2, ' I have great heaviness and continual sorrow 
in my heart;' as much love to the persons of his countrymen as zeal 
against their errors. So flens dico, ' I tell you weeping, they are 
enemies to the cross of Christ,' Phil. iii. 18. Though he discovereth 
them to be enemies to the cross of Christ, yet he wept for their sakes 
and the church's sake. 

[5.] Those that are grieved and troubled even to some degree of 
horror and trembling of heart, for the prevailing of iniquity in those 
places and persons among whom they live, are delivered from the 
common judgment. So 2 Peter ii. 7, ' He delivered just Lot, vexed 
with the filthy conversation of the wicked ; ' and ' those that mourned 
and sighed for all the abominations which were committed in the 
midst of the land,' were marked out for preservation. The Lord hath 
a special care of them in times of public calamity. 

Use 1. Of reproof ; it condemneth 

1. Them that take pleasure in nothing so much as in the company 
of the ungodly, where they hear God dishonoured, his laws broken : if 
they were horribly afraid of the wicked which forsake God's law, how 
could this be ? All conversation with the wicked is not forbidden, for 
then we must go out of the world ; and to some we are bound by the 
law of necessity, or some civil and religious or natural bond ; yet we 
are to eschew all unnecessary and voluntary fellowship and familiarity 
with them : Ps. xxvi. 4, ' I have not sat with vain persons, nor gone 
in with dissemblers.' So Prov. xxii. 24, 25, ' Make no friendship with 
an angry man ; and with a froward man thou shalt not go ; lest thou 
learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.' Certainly we are not to de 
light in the openly wicked as the only company that is pleasant to us, for 
what can a tender Christian get among them but a wound to his soul ? 

2. Those that are not affected with their own sins, much less with 
the sins of others. It is but a deceit of heart to declaim against the 
sins of the times, and not to mourn bitterly for our own sins : this is 
to translate the scene of our humiliation, and to put it far off from our- 


selves. Surely that grief will be most pungent and afflicting which 
doth most concern ourselves, and we know more by ourselves than 
possibly we can by other men ; therefore we should often think of the 
merit of our own sins, their heinous nature, their dreadful consequences, 
if God be not the more merciful to keep us humble and thankful. 

Use 2. To persuade us to be of this temper, to be deeply affected 
when we see God's laws broken. It requireth 

1. The general grace of a soft heart, which must be asked of God : 
2 Chron. xxxiv. 27, ' Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst 
humble thyself, when thou heardest the words of the Lord against this 
place.' There was a high peace and calm at that time, but a tender 
heart relenteth at the threatenings. Beg of God to soften thy heart. 

2. There needetb. eminent holiness for such a frame, that we shine 
as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, Phil. ii. 
15. The mourners must not be infected and tainted themselves, but 
save themselves from an untoward generation, condemn the sins of the 
times by their conversation. 

3. We must have a fear animated by faith : ' By faith Noah was 
moved by fear ' concerning things unseen, Heb. xi. 7. The danger of 
the flood was unseen as yet, and they married and gave in marriage. 
We must not judge of things by the present, or by carnal appearance : 
there is a righteous judge in heaven. Faith in his word will show us 
our danger, for God's threatenings are all fulfilled, and the more we 
seek to establish ourselves by carnal means, the more our ruin is 

4. There must be a grief set awork by a love to God and the souls 
of men. In calamities the true temper for humiliation is a due sense 
of our Father's anger, and brethren's miseries : in sins our Father's 
dishonour, and man's destruction ; those who are the same flesh with 
ourselves. Now it should trouble us to see them in the way to eternal 
ruin : ' Of some have compassion, making a difference : and others 
save with fear, pulling them out of the fire ; hating even the garment 
spotted with the flesh,' Jude 22, 23. 


Tliy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. 

VER. 54. 

DAVID had in the former verse expressed his great trouble, because of 
the increase of the wicked, and their defection from the law of God. 
Now he showeth what comforted him : the children of God have a 
great deal of divine consolation from the word in the midst of all their 
sorrows and evils of the present life. David's comfort is here ex 

1. By the matter or object of it, thy statutes. 

2. The degree of his rejoicing, intimated in the word songs. The 
effect is put for the cause, joy and mirth, which usually break forth 
into singing, or the sign and indication for the thing signified. 


3. The place where he rejoiced, in the house of his pilgrimage ; eV 
To-rrta TrapoiKias fjiov, wheresoever I sojourn. 

1. By God's 'statutes' is meant his word in general, more especi 
ally the precepts and promises : in the one we have the offer of life ; 
in the other, the way and means how to attain it. In the word is both 
our charter and our rule ; in both regards it is matter of rejoicing : 
Ps. xix. 8, ' The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the soul/ 
Nothing is commanded there but what is equitable in itself, and pro- 
ii table to US. 

2. By ' songs,' a metonymy of the effect for the cause, or the sign 
for the thing signified ; such pleasure, joy, and contentment as other 
men had in songs, David had in the word of God. Travellers use to 
lighten and ease the tediousness of the way by songs : Thy word doth 
comfort me wonderfully. Or you may take it literally, the themes 
nd arguments of his singing. Profane spirits must have songs suit 
able to their mirth ; as their mirth is carnal, so the songs of carnal 
men are obscene, filthy and fleshly : but a holy man, his songs suit 
his mirth and joy ; he rejoiceth in the Lord, and therefore his songs 
are divine : ' Thy statutes are my songs.' Singing of psalms is a delec 
table way of edification, which God hath not only instituted in the 
scriptures, but heathens saw a use of it by the light of nature. JElian, 
lib. iii. Nat. Hist. cap. 39, telleth us of the Cretans, TOW TratSa? TOW 
e\evOepov<> fiavddvftv TOW vo/j.ov<? perd rivos /ieXtuSt'a?. It is a spiritual 
channel wherein our mirth may run : James v. 13, ' Is any merry? let 
him sing psalms,' evdvfiel TIS ; there is the harmony, that is a natural 
delight ; the matter, that is a spiritual comfort. I cannot exclude this, 
because it is one way of expressing that delight which we take in the 
word ; but I prefer the former, for David speaketh of the comfort he 
took in keeping God's precepts when they were violated by others. 

3. ' In the house of my pilgrimage.' You may take it literally for the 
time of David's exile, when banished by Saul, or driven from his palace 
by Absalom : when he fled from place to place, and wandered up and 
down in great distress, then God's statutes, by which his life was 
directed, innocency vindicated, hopes confirmed both of present sup 
port and seasonable deliverance, were as songs to him, his real and 
cordial solaces. Wheresoever the believer is, or whatsoever his case 
and condition be, he hath still matter of rejoicing in the word of God. 
So had David when he was exposed to continual wanderings, without 
any fixed habitation. Indeed the children of God in Babylon say, Ps. 
cxxxvii. 4, ' How shall we sing the Lord's song in a strange land ? ' 
The meaning is not to exclude their own spiritual delight and solace ; 
but they would not gratify the carnal pleasure of their enemies with a 
temple song, or subject religion to their sportive fancies and humours. 
Rather metaphorically for the whole course of his life, whether spent 
in the palace, or in the wilderness ; in whatsoever place he was, he was 
still in the house of his pilgrimage: so he accounted his best and his 
worst condition ; compare ver. 19, ' I am a stranger in the earth,' and 
Ps. xxxix. 12, ' I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my 
fathers were ;' with 1 Chron. xxix. 15, 'We are strangers before the,e, 
and sojourners, as were all our fathers/ Not only when hunted like 
-a partridge upon the mountains, but also when he was at rest, and 



able to offer so vast a quantity of treasure for the building of the house 
of God. 

Two points are observable : 

Doct. 1. That the godly count this world, and their whole estate 
therein, the house of their pilgrimage. 

Doct. 2. That during this estate, and the inconveniences thereof, 
they find matter of rejoicing in the word of God. 

Doct. I. That the godly count, this world and their whole estate 
therein, the house of their pilgrimage. 

I shall not handle this doctrine in its full latitude, having spoken 
largely thereof in the 19th verse ; only now a few considerations. 

1 . Here is no fixed abode ; there where we live longest we count 
our home and dwelling ; not an inn which we take up in our passage, 
but the place of our constant residence in this world. We are only in 
passage, and so should consider it : Heb. xiii. 14, ' Here we have no 
abiding city, but we look for one to come, whose builder and maker is 
God.' Here we stay but a little while, passing through to a better 
country. The mortality of the body and the immortality of the soul 
showeth that we are all strangers here ; for if here we do not live for 
ever, and yet we have souls that will live for ever, there must be some 
other place to which we are tending. The body is dust in its compo 
sition and resolution : Bccles. xii. 7, ' Then shall the body return to 
the earth as it was.' Nature may teach us so much, but faith, that 
assureth us of the resurrection of the dead, doth more bind this con 
sideration upon us. We are mortal, and all things about us are liable 
to their mortality; and therefore here we must be still passing to 
another place. 

2. Here we have no rest : Micah ii. 10, ' Arise, and depart hence, 
for this is not your rest ; ' that is hereafter ; Heb. iv. 9, ' There re- 
maineth therefore a rest for the people of God.' Our home we count 
the place of our repose. Now there is no rest and content in this 
world, which is a place of vanity, misery, and discomfort. Yea, to the 
children of God there are stronger motives than crosses to drive them 
from the world daily temptations, and our often falling by them. 
Crosses are grievous to all, but sin is more grievous to the godly ; and 
nothing makes them more weary of the world than the constant in 
dwelling and frequent outbreaking of corruption and sin : Rom. vii. 
24, ' miserable man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body 
of this death ? ' The apostle was exercised with many crosses, but 
this doth make him complain in the bitterness of his soul, not of his 
misery, but of his corruption, which he found continually rebelling 
against God. Many complain of their crosses that complain not of sin. 
To loathe the world for crosses alone, is neither the mark nor work of 
grace. A beast can forsake the place Avhere he findeth neither meat 
nor rest ; but because we are sinning here, whilst others are glorifying 
God, this is the trouble of the saints. 

3. They believe and look for a better estate after this life is over : 
2 Cor. v. 1, ' We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle 
were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with 
hands, eternal in the heavens.' No man can be a right sojourner on 
earth who doth not look for an abode in heaven ; for that which doth 


most effectually draw off the heart of man from this world is the 
expectation of a far better state in the world to come: 2 Cor. iv. 18, 
White 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.' Heathens could call the 
world an inn, but they had only glimmering conceptions of another 
world. A Christian, that believeth it, and looketh for it on God's 
assurance, he is only the joyful stranger and the pilgrim. Common 
sense will teach us the necessity of leaving this world, but faith can 
only assure us of another; they are believers and expectants of 

4. They do not only look for it, but seek after it. We read of both 
looking and seeking : Heb. xi. 14, ' They declare plainly that they 
seek a country ; ' Heb. xiii. 14, ' Here we have no continuing city, 
but we seek one to come.' Seeking implieth diligence in theuse of 
means. All the life of a Christian is nothing but the seeking after 
another country, every day advancing a step nearer to heaven ; and 
therefore their ^oXi-rev/ia, their 'conversation' is said to be 'in 
heaven,' Phil. iii. 20. This is their great business upon earth, to do 
all to eternal ends : all other works and labours are but upon the bye, 
and subordinate to this. Their main care is to obtain this blessed con 
dition ; therefore they use word and sacraments, that they may grow 
in grace, faith, repentance, new obedience. Every degree in grace is 
another step towards heaven : Ps. Ixxxiv. 5, ' Blessed is the man 
whose strength is in thee, in whose hearts are the ways of them ;' ver. 
7, ' They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion 
appeareth before God/ Some of the saints are in patria, others in 
via, still bending homeward. 

5. Because they are so, the children of God are dealt with as 
strangers. Difference of scope and drift will procure alienation of 
affection : 1 Peter iv. 4, ' Wherein they think it strange that you run 
not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you ;' and 
John xv. 19, ' If ye were of the world, the world would love its own ; 
but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the 
world, therefore the world hateth you.' Other cannot be expected but 
that the servants of the Lord should be ill rewarded and treated here, 
not only out of the world's ignorance they know not our birth, breed 
ing, expectations, hope : 1 John iiL 2, ' Beloved, now are we the sons 
of God ; but it doth not yet appear what we shall be ; but we know 
that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him 
as he is ' but enmity, as the different carriage of the one puts a dis 
grace upon the course of life which the other doth affect ; the one 
fixeth their home here, the other looketh for it elsewhere ; and the 
world is sensible this is an excellency, and therefore those that are at 
the bottom of the hill, envy and malign those that are at the top. 

Use. Are we thus minded ? There are two sorts of men in the 
\vorld the one is of the devil and the other is of God ; for all men 
seek their rest and happiness on earth, or rest in heaven. Naturally 
men were all of the first number, for the rational soul without grace 
accommodateth itself to the interests of the body; but when sublimated 
and transformed by grace, the world cannot satisfy it, and it can find 


nothing there which may finally quiet its desires, for the new life infused 
hath other aims and tendencies. As saints are new-born from heaven, 
so for hearen ; and therefore the new nature cannot satisfy itself in the 
enjoyment of the creature, with the absence of God. The apostle saith, 
' While at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord,' 2 Cor. v. 
6, 7. In this life we are not capable of the glorious presence of God ; 
it is not consistent with our mortality ; and our being present with him 
in the spirit is but a taste that doth provoke rather then cloy the ap 
petite : Rom. viii. 23, ' Ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of 
the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the 
adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.' These tastes do but 
make us long for more ; they are sent down from heaven to draw us 
up to that place of our rest where this glory and blessedness is in ful 
ness. Now which sort are ye of ? the city of God, or under the 
dominion of Satan and the power of worldly lusts ? 

1. There are some that take up here, and never consider whence 
they are, nor whither they are going ; as Christ saith, ' I know whence 
I am, and whither I go.' They look altogether for the present, and if 
they be well for the present, they are contented. Alas ! in what a 
miserable case are these men, though they mind it not ! they seem to 
me to be like men that are going to execution. A man that is going 
to the gallows for the present is well, hath a great guard to attend 
him, an innumerable multitude of people to follow him: you would 
think that hardly could a man be such a sot and fool as to think all 
this should be done for his honour, and not for his punishment, and 
should only consider how he is accompanied, but not whither he goeth. 
Many such fools there are in the world, that only consider how they 
are attended and provided for, but never consider whither they are 
going. wretch ! whither goest thou ? may we say to one that should 
pride himself in the resort of company to his execution. Dost thou 
not see thou art led to punishment, and after an hour or two these 
will leave thee hanging and perishing infamously as the just reward 
of thine offences ? So many that shine now in the pomp and splendour 
of worldly accommodations, and are merry and jocund as if all would 
do well, alas ! poor creatures, whither are they going ? Job xxi. 12, 
13, ' They take the timbrel and the harp, and rejoice at the sound of 
the organ ; they spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down 
into hell.' Ye still live, and are going to punishment, but mind it not; 
but your wealth, and honours, and servants, and friends will all leave 
you to your own doom ; and yet you are merry and jocund as if your 
journey would never end, or not so dismally ; as if you were hastening 
to a kingdom, and not to an eternal prison : one moment puts an end 
to all their joy for ever. 

2. There are others that wean their hearts from this world, and 
make it their care that they may carry themselves becoming their 
celestial extraction. As their souls were from above by creation, so 
all ^ their hopes, and desires, and endeavours are to attain to that 
region of spirits ; much more as being renewed by grace do they aim 
at the perfection and accomplishment of that life which is begun in 
them ; and so being ' made partakers of the divine nature, do they 
escape the corruption that is in the world through lust,' 2 Peter i. 4, 


they are convinced of a better estate than the world yieldeth, and be 
lieve it, and look for it, and long for it, and labour for it. Now of 
which number are you ? or, if you cannot decide that because more 
goeth to the assuring of our interest than the world usually taketh to 
be necessary for that end and purpose of which number do you mean 
to be ? Will you be at home in the world, or seek the happiness of 
the world to come ? that is, in other terms, do you mean to be pagans 
under a Christian name, or Christians indeed ? You have but the 
name if you be not strangers and pilgrims here upon earth. All 
Christ's disciples indeed are called to sit loose from the world, and to 
have a high and deep sense of the world to come. As to the other 
world, they are ' no mere strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens 
with the saints, and of the household of God/ Eph. ii. 19. They are 
of a family, part of which is in heaven and part on earth : Eph. iii. 15, 
' Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.' Some 
of their brethren have got the start of them, and are with God before 
them, but the rest are hastening after as fast as they can. They are suffi 
ciently convinced that the earth is no place for them ; they are strangers 
there, and the contentments thereof uncertain and perishing ; but they 
are no strangers to heaven and the blessed society of the saints, whose 
privileges they have a full right to now, and hope one day to have as 
full a possession, and an intimate communion with their Father and 
all their brethren. 

Now, that you may resolve upon this, and carry yourselves suitably, 
I shall 

1. Give you some motives. 

2. A direction or two. 
1. Motives. 

[1.] He that taketh up his rest in this world, or any earthly thing, 
is but a higher kind of beast, and unworthy of an immortal soul. The 
beasts have an instinct that guideth them to seek things convenient for 
that life which they have, and therefore a man doth not follow the light 
of reason that seeketh to quiet his mind with what things the world 
affordeth, and only relisheth the contentments of the carnal and bodily 
life, that is satisfied with his portion here, Ps. xvii. 14. All their 
business and bustle is to have their wills and pleasure for a little 
while, as if they had neither hopes nor fears of any greater things 
hereafter : Ps. xlix. 20, ' Man, that is in honour, and void of under 
standing, is as the beast that perisheth/ because he merely inclineth 
to present satisfactions ; for reason is as a middle thing between the 
life of i'aith and the life of sense. It were no great matter whether 
you were men or dogs or swine, if reason be only given you for the 
present world and present satisfactions ; all your sense of the world to 
come and conscience is as good as nothing. 

[2.] None are of so noble and divine a spirit as those that seek the 
heavenly kingdom. Amongst men, the ambitious who aspire to 
crowns and kingdoms, that aim at perpetual fame by their virtues and 
rare exploits, are judged persons of greater gallantry than covetous 
muck-worms and brutish epicures ; yet their highest thoughts and 
designs are very base in comparison of Christians, ' who by patient 
continuance in well-doing seek for life, -glory, and immortality,' Rom. 


11, 7, and whom nothing less will content than the enjoyment of God 
himself. Their desires are after him : Ps. Ixxiii. 25, ' Whom have I 
in heaven but thee ? and who is there on earth I desire besides thee ? ' 
So that as man, being immortal, should provide for some place of 
perpetual abode, so herein the Christian excelleth other men, that 
nothing less will satisfy him than what God hath promised his people 
hereafter. The threshold will not content him nothing but the 

[3.] What a sorry immortaluy, mock eternity, do they choose, 
instead of the true one, when they neglect the pursuit of this heavenly 
country ! If they look no higher than this world, all that they can 
rationally imagine is perpetuating themselves, and their names, and 
posterity, by successive generations : Ps. xlix. 11, ' Their inward thought 
is that their houses shall continue for ever, and their dwelling-places 
to all generations ; they call their lands by their own names.' This is 
styled nodosa eternitas, when they live in their children after death. 
But alas 1 to how few men's share can this fall ! and those who may 
in likelihood expect it, who are lords of fair rents, fair lands, houses 
and heritages, how often are they disappointed ! But if their hopes 
should succeed, and they should make themselves this way eternal, 
yet when the pageantry of this world is over, the great ungodly men 
of the world, who have names, lands, families in the general resurrec 
tion shall be poor, base, contemptible ; whereas he that made it his 
business to look after the world to come shall be glorious for ever. 

[4.] When once our qualification is clear, every step of our remove 
out of this world is an approach to our abiding city : Rom. xiii. 11, 
' Our salvation nearer than when we first believed ;' and 2 Cor. iv. 16, 
'Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed 
day by day.' 

[5.] Every degree of grace makes your qualification clearer : Col. i. 

12, ' Giving thanks to the father, who hath made us meet to be 
partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light ;' and 1 Tim. vi. 19, 
' Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time 
to come, that they may lay hold of eternal life.' Evidences are in 
creased when ripening for heaven more and more. 

2. Let us carry ourselves as such as count our best estate in this 
world as the house of our pilgrimage. 

Jl.] Let us with great joy and delight of heart entertain the pro 
mises of the life to come, resolving to hold and hug them, and esteem 
them, and make much of them till the performance come : Heb. xi. 

13, ' These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but 
having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced 
them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the 

, 1 " O J. O 


[2.] Let us take heed of what may divert us and besot us, and 
hinder us in our heavenly journey : 1 Peter ii. 11, ' Dearly beloved, I 
beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, 
which war against the soul/ A relish of the pleasures that offer them 
selves in the course of our pilgrimage spoileth the sense that we have 
of the world to come, and weakens our care and pursuit of it. 

[3.] Let us be contented with those provisions that God in his pro- 


vidence affordeth us by the way, though they be mean and scanty : 
1 Tim. vi. 8, ' Having food and raiment, let us be content, for we 
brought nothing into the world, and it is certain we can carry 
nothing out.' We came into the world contented with a cradle, and 
must go out contented with a grave ; therefore, if we want the pomp 
of the world, let it not trouble us : we have such allowance as our 
heavenly Father seeth necessary for us till our great inheritance cometh 
in hand. 

[4.] If the world increase upon us, we should take the more care 
that we may have the comfort of it in the world to come : Rev. xiv. 13, 
* Their works follow them ; ' Luke xvi. 9, ' Make to yourselves friends 
of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail they may receive 
you into everlasting habitations.' There is no other way to show our 
weanedness in a full estate, nor to keep our hearts clean, or to express 
our deep sense of the world to come, but this. 

Doct. 2. That during this estate, and the inconveniences thereof, 
God's children find matter of rejoicing in his word. 

1. Let us consider how this point lieth in this text. 

[1.] The Psalmist had a sufficient sense of the inconveniences of 
the house of his pilgrimage, his absence from God, for therefore 
he counts it a pilgrimage ; the many affronts and dishonours that 
are done to God in the world, which go near to a gracious heart who 
espouseth God's quarrel and interest ; therefore he saith, ' Horror 
hath taken hold upon me, because men keep not thy law.' Nay, and 
possibly his own afflictions and troubles, for many interpreters suppose 
him now expelled from Jerusalem, and driven to wander up and down 
in the forests and wildernesses ; yet then could he comfort himself in 
God, and pass over his time in meditating on his precepts and pro 
mises. The troubles and inconveniences of our pilgrimage are easily 
disregarded by them that have no sense of them, or are slight-hearted, 
or whose time of trial is not yet come ; but then is strength of grace 
seen when we can overcome sense of trouble by the encouragements 
which the bare naked word of God offereth. If David were now in 
exile, it was a trouble to him not to enjoy the ordinances and means 
of grace with the rest of God's people ; but to deceive the tediousness 
of it by God's word, that is the trial. If we can depend upon the pro 
mise, when nothing but the promise is left us, there are no difficulties 
too great for the comfort of God's word to allay. 

[2.] The Psalmist epeaketh not of what he would do, but what he 
had done : ' Thy statutes have been my songs.' Experience of the 
comfort of the word is more than a resolution to seek it there. In his 
resolution he would have been a pattern of duty, but now he is a pre 
cedent of comfort. That which hath been may be ; God, that hath given 
u promise and comfort to his saints before, will continue it in all ages. 

[3.] The Psalmist speaketh not of an ordinary joy, but such as was 
ready to break out into singing, which noteth the heart is full, and can 
hold no longer without some vent and utterance ; as Paul and Silas 
were so full of joy that they sang at midnight in the stocks. 

2. Now I come to the reasons why God's pilgrims find matter of 
rejoicing in his word during the time of their exile and absence from 
God, and all the inconveniences that attend it. 


"!.] Some on the word's part* 

: 2.] Some on the part of him that rejoiceth. 

"!.] On the word's part, God's pilgrims can rejoice in it. 

(1.) There they have the discovery and promise of eternal life. It 
telleth them of their country. A firm deed and conveyance is a com 
fort to us before we have possession : 2 Peter i. 4, ' To us are given 
exceeding great and precious promises, that being made partakers of 
the divine nature, we may escape the corruptions that are in the world 
through lust.' In the word there are promises neither of small things, 
of things of a little moment, nor of things that we have nothing to do 
with, but of great moment and weight, and given to us. The promises 
make the things promised certain to those to whom they do belong, 
though they be not yet actually in their possession ; and therefore the 
children of God are delighted in them, and so far as that their hearts 
are drawn off from worldly things. They that adhere to them, and 
prize the comfort which they offer, have something in them above 
natural men, or the ordinary sort of those that live in the world. 

(2.) There they have sure direction how they may attain this 
blessedness which the promises speak of, and that is a great comfort 
in the midst of the darkness and uncertainty of the present life. T he- 
word of God is said to be ' a light that shineth to us in a dark place,' 
2 Peter i. 1ST. The love of the world will mislead us, our own reason 
will often leave us comfortless, the examples of the best are defective,, 
but the word of God will give comfortable direction to all that follow 
the direction of it, under all their crosses, confusions and difficulties : 
Ps. cxix. 105, ' Thy word is a light unto my feet, and a lantern to my 
paths.' Light is comfortable ; it is no small satisfaction that I am in 
God's way, and have his word for my warrant. 

(3.) It propoundeth the examples of their countrymen, and sets 
forth their heroical acts, and encourageth us to imitate their fortitude 
and self-denial : Heb. vi. 12, 'Be followers of them who through faith 
and patience inherit the promises ; ' many things are to be done and 
suffered before we attain the end. Now, it is a great comfort to trace 
the footsteps of the saints all along in the way in which we go : Heb. 
xii. 1, ' Wherefore, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud 
of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so 
easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before- 
us.' If God did call us to walk in an untrodden path, it might be 
cumbersome and solitary. Now it is very obliging and encouraging 
to consider in what way they have been brought to heaven before us. 

(4.) It hath many seasonable cordials against fainting by the way. 
Alas 1 when we are in deep pressures, our hearts are apt to sink ; but 
the word assureth us that we shall have all things necessary for us,. 
that our heavenly Father seeth what is best for us, and that if we 
faithfully wait upon him, our afflictions and rubs in the way shall be a 
means to bring us to our journey's end : 2 Cor. iv. 17, ' Our light 
affliction, that is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding 
and eternal weight of glory ; ' and that for the present our trials are- 
not inconsistent with his love. 

[2.] On the believer's part there are reasons of this comfort and 

VER. 54.] SEIIMOXS uroN PSALM cxix. 73 

(1.) There needeth a spiritual frame of heart, for a carnal man's 
rejoicings and relishes are suitable to the constitution of his mind : 
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.' It 
is an infallible rule to the world's end. Every one cannot say, ' Thy 
statutes are my songs.' No ; they must have other solaces ; and a 
man's temper is more discerned by his solaces than by anything else. 
They that have not purged their taste from the dregs of sense, the 
trash of the flesh-pots of Egypt vill ever be pleasing to them in the 
heavenly pilgrimage ; and being inveigled with the baits of the flesh, 
the promises are like withered flowers to them, or as dry chips ; it is 
the spiritual heart that is refreshed with spiritual songs. 

(2.) This word must be received by faith, for it is faith that enliveneth 
our notions of things, and maketh them work with us : Heb. xi. 1 3, 
' These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having 
seen them afar 08', and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, 
and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims upon the earth.' 
Our affections follow persuasion : 1 Peter i. 8, ' Whom having not seen 
we love ; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice 
with joy unspeakable and full of glory ; ' Rom. xv. 13, ' Now the God 
of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.' 

(3.) This word must be improved by reading and hearing, but 
especially by meditation and singing. 

(1st.) Meditation, when it is sweet and lively, stirreth this joy. 
Delight begets meditation, and meditation begets delight. There is a 
KVK\oyeve<7i$ in moral as well as natural things : Ps. i. 2, ' His delight 
is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and 
night ; ' and Ps. cxix. 1)7, ' Oh, how love I thy law 1 it is my medita 
tion day and night ; ' and ver. 15, 16, ' I will meditate in thy precepts, 
and have respect unto thy ways : I will delight myself in thy statutes ; 
I will not forget thy words.' These follow one another. Affections 
are not excited but by deep and pondering thoughts. 

(2d.) By singing psalms we draw forth this 'delight : Col. iii. 16, 
' Let the word of God dwell in you richly, in all wisdom, teaching and 
admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, 
singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord;' Eph. v. 18, 19, ' Be 
not drunk with wine, wherein is excess ; but be filled with the Spirit, 
speaking to yourselves in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, 
singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.' Drunkards, 
when tilled with the spirit of wine, sing wanton songs ; and those who 
are filled with the wine of the Spirit will praise God with spiritual 
songs. This is a duty of importance, a delightful way of being 
instructed by our refreshment. God would give us strength, but this 
is neglected, or cursorily performed by Christians. We will complain 
of the want of a spirit in prayer ; we should do so in singing. Cold 
ness in this holy exercise argueth a deadness of faith and a coldness in 
true religion. We should express our joy this way. 

(4.) Above all, this comfort is found in ready practice and obedience. 
There is a comfort, I confess, in speculation, but not so deep and 
intimate as in practice. The one is out a taste inviting to the other, 
which giveth us a fuller draught. The bare contemplation and view 


of any concerning and weighty truth is very ravishing to those that 
bend their minds to knowledge : 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 to thy soul.' Every truth 
is objectum intellects, much more divine truth ; but now in practice 
the impression is doubled: we get comfort and joy raised in our con 
sciences ; our lives and light do not jar ; we are at full quiet in our 
minds, apprehending ourselves to be in God's way: Ps. cxix. 14, 'I 
have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies as much as in all riches.' 

Use 1. To show you that the people of God need not envy the 
wicked for their delights and pleasures ; they have chaster and sweeter 
delights ; God's statutes are their songs. Where the heart is spiritual, 
they can find delight enough in the word, both as their charter and 
their rule, and need not turn aside to vain mirth ; a portion in the 
promises will yield pleasure enough : ver. Ill, ' Thy testimonies have 
I taken as an heritage for ever, for they are the rejoicing of my 

2. To reprove those that reckon these things a burthen. The holy 
talking of heaven and godliness maketh worldly men ever heavy and 
out of humour ; it is not their delight. But it should not be so with 
the children of God. A child of God should only be heavy when he 
displeases God, but delight in all the means that enable him to live to 

3. When we are saddened by the evil of the present world, let us 
make use of this remedy ; let us meditate on God's statutes. We shall 
find ease and refreshing by exercising ourselves to know God in 

4. To refute the vain conceit which possesseth the minds of men, 
that the way of godliness is a gloomy way. As soon as a man begin- 
neth to think of salvation, or the change of his life, or the leaving of 
his sins, embracing the service of God, presently his mind is haunted 
with this thought : Seest thou not how those that serve God are 
melancholy, afflicted; sorrowful, never rejoice more ? and wilt thou be 
one of them ? This is the opinion of the world, that they can never 
rejoice nor be merry that serve God. But certainly it is a vain conceit. 
No men do more and more truly rejoice than they which serve God. 
Consult the scriptures, who have more leave, shall I say, or command, 
to rejoice ? Ps. xxxvii. 4, ' Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he 
shall give thee the desires of thine heart ; ' Phil. iv. 4, ' Kejoice in the 
Lord always, and again I say, Kejoice.' Ask reason who have more 
cause or matter to rejoice than they that have provided against the 
fears or doubts of conscience by reason 6"f sin ? What is more satis 
factory to a soul in doubts and fears than the knowledge of pardon 
and reconciliation with God ? For the satisfaction of the desires of 
nature which carry us after happiness, who have a more powerful 
exciter of 'joy than the Holy Ghost ? Acts xiii. 52, ' The disciples 
were rilled with joy and with the Holy Ghost.' Who more qualified 
with joy than those who have a clear right to the pardon of sin, and 
so can see all miseries unstinged ? Eom. v. 1-3, ' Therefore, being 
justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus 
Christ ; by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein 

VER. 54.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 75 

we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God ; and not only so, 
but we glory in tribulation also/ How joyful are those that see 
themselves prepared for everlasting life ! 2 Cor. v. 1, ' For we know 
that if our earthly tahernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, 
an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.' Yea, when a 
Christian knoweth his duty, his way is plain before him ; it is a mighty 
satisfaction : Ps. xix. 8, ' The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing 
the heart.' Look into the lives and examples of the saints ; who have 
more true joy than they ? The disciples esteem the grace of the 
gospel such a great treasure, that though they suffer persecution for it 
they are filled with joy : Acts viii. 8, ' And there was great joy in that 
city ; ' 1 Tiies. i. 6, ' Having received the word with much affliction 
and joy in the Holy Ghost ; ' 2 Cor. vii. 4, ' I am exceeding joyful in 
all our tribulation.' Preachers, though with great hazard they perform 
their office, should be joyful : Acts xx. 24, ' Neither count I my life 
dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy ; ' Phil. ii. 
17, 18, ' Yea, and if I be offered for the sacrifice and service of your 
faith, I joy arid rejoice with you all ; for the same cause also do ye 
joy and rejoice with me.' The world will reply I know not what 
this spiritual consolation meaueth ; it seemeth hard to relinquish that 
which I see, that which I feel, that which I taste, for that which I see 
not, and it may be shall never see. 

Ans. 1. By concession, the joy of the saints is the joy of faith. God 
is unseen, Christ is within the heavens, great hopes are to come : 
1 Peter i. 8, ' In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye 
rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory ;' 2 Cor. v. 7, ''For we 
walk by faith, not by sight.' 

2. Thus you see that the world cannot alway rejoice in those things 
which they take to be the proper objects of joy : they have alternative 
vicissitudes, now rejoice, now mourn ; nor can it be otherwise, for they 
rejoice in things which cannot always last. If they rejoice when their 
worldly comforts increase, they are sad when they wither; if they 
rejoice when their children are born, they weep when they die: but a 
Christian hath always his songs, for he must always rejoice in the 
Lord, who is an eternal God : Phil. iv. 4, ' Kejoice in the Lord always ;' 
in Christ, who ' hath obtained eternal redemption for us,' Heb. ix. 12 ; 
in the promises, which give an eternal influence : Ps. cxix. Ill, ' Thy 
testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever, for they are the 
rejoicing of my heart.' The flesh cannot afford anything so delightful 
as a Christian hath ; the word will hold good for ever. 

3. We cannot altogether say that a Christian doth rejoice in that 
which he cannot see ; for all that they see is their everlasting Father's 
wealth : 1 Cor. iii. 21, ' All are yours, for you are Christ's, and Christ 
is God's.' If they look to heaven, they can rejoice and say, Glory be 
to thee, Lord, who hast prepared this for our everlasting dwelling- 
place. If they look to the earth, Glory be to thee, Lord, who dost 
not leave us destitute in the house of our pilgrimage. If they consider 
their afflictions, they rejoice that God is not unmindful of poor crea 
tures, who are beneath his anger as well as unworthy of his love : Job 
vii. 17, 18, ' What is man that thou shouldst magnify him, and that 
thou shouldst set thine heart upon him, and that thou shouldst visit 


him every morning, and try him every moment ? ' that God should 
trouble himself about us, that we may not perish with the ungodly 
world. The same love that sendeth them prosperity sendeth adversity 
also, which they find by the seasonableness of ifc. 


/ have remembered tliy name, Lord, in the night, and have kept thy 

law. VER. 55. 

WE often read and sing David's psalms, but we have little of David's 
spirit. A man's employment is as the constitution of his mind is, for 
all things work according to their nature. A man addicted to God, that 
is to say, one who hath taken God for his happiness, his word for his 
rule, his Spirit for his guide, and his promises for his encouragement, 
his heart will always be working towards God day and night. In the 
day he will be studying God's word ; in the night, if his sleep be inter 
rupted, he will be meditating on God's name ; still entertaining his 
soul with God. The predominant affection will certainly set the 
thoughts awork. The man of God had told us in the former verse 
what was his chief employment in the day-time, and now he telleth 
us how his heart wrought in the night. Night and day he was remem 
bering God and his duty to him. In the day the statutes of God 
were his solace, and as songs to him in the house of his pilgrimage ; 
in the night the name of God was his meditation : ' I have remem 
bered thy name, Lord, in the night, and have kept thy law.' In 
which words observe 

1. David's exercise, / have remembered thy name, Lord, in the 

2. The effect and fruit of it, and have kept thy law. 

The one may be considered as the means, the other as the next and 
immediate end. Eemembering and thinking is but a subservient help 
and means to promote some higher work. 

1. In the first branch you have 



The act of his soul, / have remembered. 

The object about which it was conversant, thy name, Lord. 

The season, in the night. 

For the act of his soul, ' I have remembered.' Remembrance 

is an act of knowledge reiterated, or a second agitation of the mind 
unto that point unto which it had arrived before. Or, more plainly, 
remembering is a setting knowledge awork, or a reviving those notions 
which we have of things, and exercising our thoughts and meditations 
about them. 

[2.] The object was God's ' name ;' that is, either God himself, as 
Ps. xx. 1, 'The name of the God of Jacob defend thee;' or that by 
which God is known, his wisdom, goodness, and power, especially those 
notions by which he hath manifested himself in the word. 

[3.] The season, ' In the night.' Some take the night metaphori 
cally for the time of trouble and affliction. It is often a dark time 

VER. 55.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 77 

with the people of God, a very dark night, and then it is comfortable 
to them to think of his name, according to that of the prophet, Isa. 1. 
10, ' He that walketh in darkness and hath no light, let him stay him 
self upon the name of his God.' I think it is meant literally ; that 
the man of God took such pleasure in the name of God, that what 
time others gave to sleep and rest he would give to the contemplation 
of his glory. In the solitude and darkness of the night he sustained 
and supported his spirit with the thoughts of God, and thereby took 
up a courage and constancy of resolution to keep his law. 

2. The other branch, ' I have kept thy law ;' that is, with a good 
and sincere heart set himself to the keeping of it ; this is spoken partly 
to intimate his own seriousness in this work, and partly God's blessing 
upon his endeavours therein. 

[1.] His seriousness and sincerity in the work. There is a twofold 
remembrance of things : 

(I.) Notional and speculative. 

(2.) Practical and affective. 

The notional and speculative remembrance of things is when we 
barely think of them, without any further profit or benefit ; but the 
practical, powerful and affective remembrance is to be affected with 
matters called to mind as the nature of them doth require : as when 
we remember God so as to love him, and fear him, and trust in him, 
and make him our delight, and cleave to him, and obey him. And 
we are said to remember his commandments, when our hearts are set 
upon the practice of them. Verba notitice connotant affectus: we 
must not think of God indifferently, and by the by, but we must be 
answerably affected, and act accordingly. Thus did David, ' I re 
membered thy name, and kept thy law.' 

[2.] God's blessing upon his endeavours; for he presently addeth 
in the next verse, ' This I had, because I kept thy precepts.' Our 
heavenly Father, who ' seeth what is done in secret, will reward it 
openly,' Mat. vi. 6. And the blessing of time well-spent in secret, or 
a few serious thoughts of God in the night, will publicly appear in 
their carriage before men. If we be frequently and seriously with 
God when we are solitary, the fruit and benefit of it will be manifest 
by our holiness and heavenliness when we are in company. Your 
most private duties do not lose their reward. As a man's pains in 
study will appear in the accurate order, strength, and rationality of 
his discourse, so his converse with God in private will be seen in the 
fruits of it, in his holy, profitable and serious conversation. 

The points are three : 

Doct. 1. Remembering God is an especial help to the keeping of 
his law. 

Doct. 2. God is best remembered when his name is studied. 

Doct. 3. Those that have spiritual affections will take all occasions 
to remember his name. ' I have remembered thy name in the night 
season,' saith holy David. 

Doct. 1. That remembering God is an especial help to the keeping 
of his law. 

First, What it is to remember God. 

1. It supposeth some knowledge of God, for what a man knoweth 


not he cannot remember. The memory is the cofferer and treasurer 
of the soul ; what the understanding taketh in, the memory layeth 
up ; and actually we are said to remember when we set the mind 
awork upon such notions as we have formerly received. And par 
ticularly to remember God is when we stir up in our minds clear and 
heart-warming apprehensions about his nature and will. 

2. It supposeth some faith, that we believe him to be such as 
the word describeth him to be; for spiritual remembrance is the 
actuation of faith, or, in this case, the improvement of that wis 
dom, power, goodness, holiness, justice, and truth, which we believe 
to be in God. Otherwise, without faith, those thoughts which 
we have of the greatest matters affect us no more than a dream 
doth a sleeper. 

These things are supposed in remembrance. 

3. It expresseth a reviving of these thoughts, or an erection of the 
mind to think upon what we know and believe. Man, that hath an 
ingestive, hath also an egestive faculty, and can lay out as well as lay 
up, bring forth truths out of the mind when it is useful for us, and 
whet and inculcate them upon the heart ; he may call to mind or 
ponder upon them. 

4. Let us see the kinds of this remembrance. 

[1.] I must repeat that distinction ; it may be done notionally 
and speculatively, or else affectively and practically. Notionally, 
when men have a few barren notions, or dry sapless opinions or 
speculations about the nature of God ; always men's remembrance is- 
as their knowledge is, and faith is. Now there is p,6p<f>a)o-i<? rr)<? 
7iwo-e<w?, a form of knowledge, Horn. ii. 10, and ' dead faith/ James 
ii. 20. Affectively and practically we remember God when there are 
such lively and powerful impressions of his name upon our hearts as- 
produce reverence, love, and obedience. It is not enough to grant 
the doctrine, own the opinions that are sound and orthodox concerning 
God, but we must have a reverential and superlative, esteem of him. 
All men confess a God with their mouth, and think they believe in 
him ; but ' the fool hath said in his heart, There is no God,' Ps. xiv. 1. 
What testimony do their hearts and actions give ? A man's course 
of life and conversation is like an eye-witness ; his profession is as a 
testimony by report. Now one eye-witness deserves more credit than 
many by hearsay. Plus valet unus oculatus testis, &c. How would 
you walk if you believed there were no God ? Could you be more 
neglectful of God, and careless and mindless of heavenly things, than 
you are? Now your transgressions speak louder than your profes 
sions in the eye of an understanding believer : Ps. xxxvi. 1, ' The 
transgression of the wicked saith within his heart that there is no fear 
of God before his eyes/ Practice belies profession : Titus i. 16, 
' They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him.' 
Cold and dead opinions are easily taken up, and men talk by rote one 
after another, yea, and study to defend them, and yet count God an 
idol. Denial in works is the strongest way of denial, for actions are 
more weighty and deliberate than speeches. 

[2.] There is a threefold remembrance of God for practical uses. 

(1.) There is a constant remembrance. We should carry the thoughts 

VF.R. 55.] UMONS UPON PSAI.M rxix. 79 

of God along with us to all our businesses and affairs, and ever wall; 
as in his eye and presence : Prov. xxiii. 17, ' Be thou in the fear of the 
Lord all the day long;' not only in prayer, but at all times, in 
all our other occasions. Some graces, like the lungs, are always in 
use ; so Ps. xvi. 8, ' I have set the Lord always before me.' He that 
liveth always in the sight of God cannot be so secure and senseless as 
others are. A drowsy inattentive mind is easily deceived into sin, but 
he that doth often remember God, his conscience is kept waking; for 
he is all eye, and seeth all things ; all hand, and toucheth all things ; 
all foot, and walketh everywhere ; all ear, and heareth all things. Sic 
agamus cum Jtominibus tanquam Deus videat ; sic loquamur cum Deo 
ianquam homines audiant. The latter clause was the least that a 
heathen could think of ; but surely, if there be any weight in the 
former part of the direction, the latter is needless. Thus we should 
never forget God. 

(2.) Occasional, when God is brought to mind either by some 
special occasion offered, or by some notable discovery of himself in 
his word or works. Occasion offered ; as when Ahasuerus could not 
sleep, Esther vi. 1, it was the providence of God he should read in 
the chronicles, and so come to the knowledge of Mordecai. So it 
befnlleth God's children ; they cannot sleep sometimes, and so occasion 
is offered in the silence and solitude of the night to invite them to 
holy thoughts of God, which may be of great use and comfort : Job 
xxxvii. 7, ' He sealeth up the hand of every man, that all men may 
know his work.' In deep snow or rain their work is hindered, that 
they, sitting at home, may have time to consider of God and his 
providence. Sometimes it falleth out so that we know not what to 
do with our thoughts, and it will look strangely in the review if we 
should prostitute them to vanity rather than give them to God, like 
the act of a spiteful man, that will rather destroy and waste a com 
modity than let another have it. Or when some notable discovery of 
God is in his ordinances and providences, word, or works ; we should 
always season our hearts with the thoughts of God, we should see 
him in every creature, and observe him in his daily providences. The 
name of God is upon all things that he hath made, but especially any 
notable providence that falleth out, which is an especial demonstration 
of his wisdom, justice, and power: Ps. cxi. 4, 'He hath made his 
wonderful works to be remembered/ So in his ordinances, when God 
maketh any nearer approach to us by way of conviction, counsel, or 
comfort : 1 Cor. xiv. 25, 'And 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.' Many times our minds in 
reading or hearing are illustrated with a heavenly light, or our hearts 
touched with some delightful relish, and the word cometh in with 
more than ordinary authority and power upon the heart ; these are 
especial occasions which we must take to consider God and the great 
affairs of our souls. 

(3.) Set and solemn, when from the bent, purpose, and inclination 
of our own hearts, without any outward impulsion, we set ourselves 
to remember the God that made us. From first to last there is great 
use of meditation and serious thoughts of God in the spiritual life. 


Our first awaking is occasioned by them : Ps. xxii. 27, ' They^ shall 
remember and turn to the Lord.' For a great while we live without 
God in the world, till we recollect ourselves, and consider where we 
are and whither we are going. We are like men drunk or asleep, and 
do not make use of our reason and common principles that may be 
learned from the inspection of the creature and everything about us ; 
and when once we are brought into the communion of the life of 
God, and have grace planted in our hearts, it cannot be carried on 
unless we take time to remember God. Our faith, our love, our 
desires, our delight, they are all acted and exercised by our thoughts ; 
so that the spiritual life is but an imagination, unless we do frequently 
and often take time for serious meditation of him. It is not con 
sistent with any of the three vital graces, faith, hope, and love, that a 
man should be a stranger to the remembrance of God ; therefore God 
complaineth of it as a strange thing : Jer. ii. 32, ' My people have 
forgotten me days without number ;' do no more regard me than if 
they had never known me, Besides, the habits of grace are so weak, 
and our temptations so strong, and the difficulties of obedience so 
great, that I cannot see how we can keep afoot any interest of God in 
ourselves, if we seldom think of God, and do not sometimes sequester 
ourselves to revive this memorial upon our souls. Can a sluggish 
heart be quickened, or weak and inconstant resolutions be strengthened, 
or the sparks of love ever blown up into a flame, and fainting hopes 
cherished, unless we seriously set our minds awork to consider of God 
and our obligations to him ? Will a sleepy profession, without con 
stant and lively thoughts do it ? It cannot be. Oh, no ! If you 
mean to keep in the fire, you must ply the bellows and blow hard. 
Whet truths upon the understanding, and agitate your minds in this 
holy work. 

Secondly, My next work is to show that this is a notable help to 
godliness; and that appeareth enough in that forgetting God is assigned 
as the cause of all mischief, and remembering God the engagement to 
all duty. We forget God, do not meditate upon his name, and so fall 
into sin : Ps. ix. 17, ' The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the 
nations that forget God.' Some deny God, but most forget him ; they 
cast away the knowledge of God out of their minds. So Ps. 1. 22, 
' Consider this, all ye that forget God ; ' that is the description of the 
wicked. So it is the charge upon Israel, as their great sin and cause 
of their defection : Deut. xxxii. 18, ' Thou art unmindful of the rock 
that begat thee ; thou hast forgotten the God that formed thee.' Ob 
livion is an ignorance for the time. Truths lose their efficacy when 
not remembered. On the other side, remembering God is made to be 
the immediate and next cause of our duty : Eccles. xii. 1, ' Remem 
ber now thy Creator in the days of thy youth.' Youth would not 
miscarry so shamefully if they did oftener remember God, nor be led 
away by vain and sensual delights, if the thoughts of God did more 
dwell in their minds. So Deut, viii. 11, 12, ' Beware that thou forget 
not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments.' Our lives 
will declare whether we do remember God. Those that do often and 
seriously keep God in their thoughts, will be most careful to keep his 

VER. 55.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 81 

Thirdly, The reasons of the point. 

1. It doth encourage us, and quicken us to diligence in our work. 
As soldiers fight best in their general's presence, and scholars ply their 
books when under their master's eye, so by living always in the 
sight of God we study to please him. The oftener we consider him the 
more we see no service can be holy and good enough for such a 
God as he is ; a God not to be provoked and resisted, so not to be 
neglected and slighted : Mai. i. 14, ' Cursed be the deceiver that hath 
in his flock a male, and voweth and sacrificeth to the Lord a corrupt 
thing ; for I am a great king, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is 
dreadful among the heathen ; ' implying that when they came with a 
sickly sacrifice, they did not remember his excellency and greatness. 
Either they had no or mean thoughts of God ; but if they had remem 
bered what an one he is, they would employ the best of their strength, 
time, and affection in his service. 

2. The madness of our natures is bridled and restrained by thoughts 
of God : 3 John 11, 'He that doth evil hath not seen God.' ' Will 
he force the queen before my face ? ' Esther vii. 8. You will not sport 
with sin, nor play with the occasions of it, nor dare to venture upon 
God's restraints. It is said of an archangel, OVK eVoX/ATjcre, ' he durst 
not bring against him a railing accusation,' Jude 9, because they be 
held the face of God. So if we had a deep sense of God impressed 
upon our hearts, we would be more awe-fuL You make very bold 
with God when you dare knowingly venture upon the least sin. Will 
you affront God to his face ? Children that are quarrelling or falling 
out, when the father or mother cometh, all is hush and silent. 

3. It comforts and reviveth us in the midst of our faintings and dis 
couragements, because of the evils of the present world : Jonah ii. 7, 
' When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord.' When 
the burden of affliction presseth us sore, the stoutest hearts are 
broken and lose all courage ; but when we come to ponder seriously 
what God is, or what he will be to his people, or hath at any time 
been to ourselves, it cheereth and reviveth the heart. So Ps. xlii. 6, 
' my God, my soul is cast down within me ; therefore will I re 
member thee.' By this way the saints recover themselves, Ps. Ixxvii. 
10, ' And I said, This is my infirmity ; but I will remember the 
years of the right hand of the Most High.' So also, Mat. xvi. 9, ' Do ye 
not remember the five loaves of the five thousand, nor the seven loaves 
of the four thousand ? ' 

Use. To press us to remember God more. When we will not 
look upon another, we take it to be a great sign of aversation and 
hatred. The devils, that are most opposite to God, abhor their own 
thoughts of God, for they ' believe and tremble.' God thinketh of us ; 
he is not far from every one of us ; why are we so far from him ? We 
cannot open our eyes but one object or other will represent God to us. 
What dost thou see, hear, and feel, but the effects of his power and 
goodness ? He is before thee, behind thee, within thee, round about 
thee ; and shall he not find room in thy heart, when every trifle 
findeth room there ? He that filleth every place, shall thy heart be 
empty of all thoughts of him ? To press you to this 

1. Consider we are naturally apt to forget God, do not like to re- 



tain him in our knowledge, Rom. i. 28, backward to any remembrance 
of him : Ps. x. 4, ' The wicked, through the pride of their countenance, 
will not seek after God ; God is not in all their thoughts.' 

2. How much God hath done to put us in remembrance of him, by 
creatures, providences, ordinances, and his Spirit. 

[1.] Creatures, all of them, sun, moon, stars, worms, grass, put us 
in mind of him : Ps. xix. 1, 2, ' The heavens declare the glory of God, 
and the firmament showeth his handiwork ; day unto day uttereth 
speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.' The creatures 
have a double use their natural use and their spiritual use. Their 
natural use is the special end for which they were made ; their spiri 
tual use is to set forth God to us. We look upon them amiss if we 
look upon them as separated from and independent of God. Our food 
is not only to nourish nature, but that we may taste the sweetness and 
goodness of God in it. All the creatures bring this message to our 
consciences : Remember God that made us and all things else. They 
all read a divinity lecture to those that have a mind to hear it, and 
preach the goodness, power, and wisdom of God by a loud and audible 
voice. It is true we are deaf, but they cease not to cry to us : Job xii. 
8, ' Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee ; and to the beasts of 
the field, and they shall declare to thee. Not only the shining 
heavens, but the dull earth, that heaviest and grossest element ; the 
brute creatures that have no reason, the mute fishes that can make no 
sound, we must ask them, parley with them by our own thoughts ; 
and so, though they have neither voice nor ears, they will answer us, 
and resolve our consciences the question we put to them, Is there a 
God ? Yea, and declare his excellent attributes, that he is eternal, 
infinite, wise, powerful, and good. We may easily make out these collec 
tions. Christ saith the stones would cry if these held their peace. 
We should hear the creature as we would hear God himself speaking 
to us. They speak to all countries in their own language. At first 
God spake to the world not by words but things. Thus hath God en 
graven his name upon his works, as those that make watches, or any 
curious pieces, write their names upon them ; as he that carved a 
buckler for Minerva had so curiously inlaid his own name that it could 
not be rased out without defacing the whole work. So the creatures 
are but a draught and portraiture of 'God's glory. 

[2.] Providences, these do more awaken us. God's daily benefits 
should bring him to our remembrance: Acts xiv. 17, 'Nevertheless 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 glad 
ness ; ' Deut. viii. 18, ' But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for 
he it is that giveth thee power to get wealth.' Especially the sancti 
fied remembrance of God's dealing with his people is the way to keep 
the heart in the faith, love, and fear of God ; and the forgetting his 
works is the cause of all defection and falling off to carnal courses and 
confidences: Ps. Ixxviii. 11, 'Theyforgat his works and wonders that 
he showed them,' Ps. cvi. 21, ' They forgat God their Saviour, which 
had done great things in Egypt ; ' Judges viii. 34, ' And the children 
of Israel remembered not the Lord their God, who had delivered them 

VER. 55.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 83 

out of the hands of their enemies on every side.' It is a base ingrati 
tude not to remember, prize, and esteem God for all this. 

[3.] Ordinances. Ministry was instituted to put you in remem 
brance, and give you still new and fresh occasions to think of God : 2 
Peter i. 12, ' I .will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance.' 
Our business is not always to inform you of what you know not, but to 
inculcate and revive known truths, there being much forgetfulness, 
stupidness, and senselessness upon our spirits : 2 Peter iii. 1, ' That I 
may stir up your minds by way of remembrance.' The impressions ol 
God on our minds are soon defaced ; we need to quicken and awaken 
your affections and resolutions to choose and cleave to God : 1 Tim. iv. 
6, ' If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt 
be a good minister of Jesus Christ.' So sacraments are instituted to 
bring God to remembrance : 1 Cor. xi. 24, ' This do in remembrance 
of me ; ' that we may remember his love and our covenanted duty. 
The sabbath was instituted for a remembrance and memorial of his 
creating, redeeming goodness. 

[4.] The great office and work of the Spirit is to bring to remem 
brance : John xiv. 26, ' He shall bring all things to your remem 
brance.' We are apt to forget God, and instructions, and rebukes in 
their season : the Holy Ghost is our monitor. 

3. God will not forget them that remember him. He will remem 
ber them at every turn : Mai. iii. 16, ' Then they that feared the 
Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard 
it ; and a book of remembrance was written before him, for them that 
feared the Lord, and thought upon his name.' If he do not openly re 
ward you with temporal deliverances, yet he taketh notice of every 
thought and every word you speak for him, and taketh pleasure in you. 
It is upon record ; if you have not the comfort of it now, you shall 
have it in a little time. Because they thought of him they spake of 
him, and owned him in an evil time ; and therefore God is represen 
ted as hearing and booking : and the books shall one day be opened, 
and then you shall have your public reward. 

Doct. 2. God is best remembered when his name is studied. 

First, When is his name studied ? In the general, when we look 
upon him as he hath manifested himself in his word and works. More 
particularly, God is discovered sometimes by the name of his essence, 
sometimes by his attributes. 

1. By the name of his essence. When Moses was very inquisitive 
to know his name and God can best tell his own name let us see 
what answer was made him : Exod. iii. 12, 13, ' When they shall say 
unto me, What is his name ? and God said, I am that I am.' God 
was sending Moses upon a strange message ; he was giving him com 
mission to go and speak to a king to dismiss and let go six hundred 
thousand of his subjects, to lead them to a place which God should 
show. Now Moses thought for such a message he had need have good 
authority, therefore desireth a significant name. ' I am that I am.' 
The form of the words showeth it was a wonderful incomprehensible 
name : ' Ask not my name, for it is Wonderful,' Judges xiii. 18. This 
is enough to satisfy sober inquiry, though not wanton curiosity, enough 
for faith to work upon : the great I AM hath sent me. It showeth 


his unsearchableness. It is our manner of speech when \ve would 
cover anything and not answer distinctly, we say. It is what it is ; I 
have said what I have said. Finite understandings cannot compre 
hend him that is infinite, no more than you can empty the sea with 
a cockleshell. He is the great and only being, in comparison of 
whom all else is nothing : Isa. xl. 17, ' All nations before him are 
nothing, they are counted less than nothing and vanity.' You have 
not a true and full notion of God if you conceive him only as the 
most eminent of all beings : no being must appear as being in his 
sight and in comparison of him. As long as you only conceive God 
to be the best, you still attribute something to the creature, for all 
comparatives include the positive. The creature is nothing in com 
parison with God ; all the glory, perfection, and excellency of the 
whole world do not amount to the value of a unit in regard of God's 
attributes : join never so many of them together, they cannot make up 
one number, they are nothing in his regard, and less than nothing. 
All created beings must utterly vanish out of sight when we think of 
God. As the sun doth not annihilate the stars, and make them 
nothing, yet it annihilates their appearance to our sight ; some are of 
the first magnitude, some of the second, some of the third, but in the 
day-time all are alike, all are darkened by the sun's glory : so it is 
here ; there are degrees of perfection and excellency if we compare one 
creature with another, but let once the glorious brightness of God shine 
upon the soul, and in that light all their differences are unobserved. 
Angels, men, worms, they are all nothing, less than nothing to be set 
up against God: this magnificent title, I AM, darkeneth all, as if 
nothing else were. God did not tell Moses that he was the best, the 
highest, and the most glorious, but ' I am, and there is none else be 
sides me ; ' nothing that hath its being of itself, nothing that can be 
properly called its own. Thus the incomprehensible self-existence of 
God puts man into his original nothing : none but God can say, I am, 
because all things else are but borrowed drops of this self-sufficient 
fountain ; other things are near to nothing. God most properly is, who 
never was nothing, never shall be nothing, who may always in all 
difference of time say, I am, and nothing else but God can say so. 
The heaven and earth six thousand years ago could not say, We 
are. Adam could once have said, I am, as to his existence in the 
compounded nature of man, but now he cannot say it. All the gene 
rations past were but are not, and the present is but will not be ; and 
within a little while who of us can say, I am ? No ; our ' place will know 
us no more ; ' but God eternally saith, ' I am ; ' not, I have been, or I 
shall be, but ' I am.' Look a little backward, and you shall find man's 
beginning ; step a little forward, and you shall overtake his dissolu 
tion. But God is still I am ; he is one that is before all, after all, 
and in all. He beholdeth from the mount of eternity all the succes 
sions and changes of the creature, and there is no succession or muta 
tion in his knowledge. Well, then, here is an answer for Pharaoh, 
and the Israelites, and all of you to study on, ' I am that I am.' I 
am the fountain of all being, that do unchangeably and eternally exist 
in myself, and from myself. 

2. God hath described his name by his attributes. To go over all, 

VEH. 55.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 85 

the compass of a sermon will not permit. I shall single out three 
from all the rest his power, wisdom, and goodness ; they are mani 
fested in all that God doth. 

[1.] In creation. Basil, 'ETroiija-ev o>? uya6o<; TO xpijeipov, o><? 
<70(f)o<f TO KaXXicrrov, o>? Sfi/aTo? TO fj,e^fioTov the goodness of God ie 
seen in the usefulness of the creatures to man ; the power of God in 
the stupendousness and wonderfulness of his works ; his wisdom in the 
apt structure, constitution, and order of all things : first he creuteth, 
then distinguished, then adorneth. The first work was to create the 
heavens and earth out of nothing ; there is his power : his next work is 
a wise destination and ordination of all things ; he distinguisheth night 
from day, darkness from light, waters above the firmament from 
waters beneath the firmament, the sea from the dry land ; there is his 
wisdom : then he decketh the earth with plants, and furnisheth it 
with beasts, and storeth the sea with fishes, the firmament with stars ; 
there is his goodness. Let us examine these more particularly, be 

(1.) With his goodness. The creation is nothing else but an effu 
sion of the bounty and goodness of God. He made the world, not that 
he might be happy, but that he might be liberal ; he made the world 
not by necessity, but at his pleasure : Rev. iv. 11, ' Thou hast created 
all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.' God was 
happy enough without us ; fee had a fulness and absolute sufficiency 
within himself ; his great aim was to raise up objects out of nothing, to 
whom he would communicate his goodness. The heavens and earth 
were made that man might have a place for his exercise, and a dwell 
ing for his rest, and in both might love, honour, serve, and glorify his 
Creator. God sits in his palace among his best creatures, and thither 
also will he translate man at length, if he be obedient, and observe the 
ends of his creation : thus his goodness appeareth. 

(2.) His power. He brought all things out of the womb of nothing. 
The powerful fiat was enough : Isa. xl. 26, ' Lift up your eyes on high, 
who hath created these things, and bringeth out their host by number, 
and calleth all things by their names, by the greatness of his might, 
for that he is strong in power ? ' The force of the cause appeareth in 
the effect, and God's power in the life and being of the creature. There 
is no artificer but he must have matter to work upon, or else his art 
will fail him and he can do nothing ; all that man can do is to give some 
shape and form, or to fashion that in some new model which had a 
being before : but God made all things out of nothing ; the inclina 
tion and beck of his will suflficeth for his great works. We have great 
toil and sweat in all things that we do, but behold what a great work 
is done without any pain and travail ! It is troublesome to us to carry 
up a little piece of stone or timber to any building of ours, but God 
stretched out all these heavens in such an infinite compass by the word 
of his power, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. 

(3.) His wisdom. The admirableness and comely variety of God's 
works doth easily offer it to our thoughts. In the frame of the work 
you may easily find out a wise workman : Ps. cxxxvi. 5, ' Sing praises 
to him that by wisdom hath made the heaven and the earth, for his 
mercy endureth for ever ; ' so Prov. iii. 19, ' The Lord by wisdom hath 


founded the earth, by understanding hath established the heavens : ' 
the wisdom of God appeareth in the order of making, and order of 
placing all the creatures. In making them, in ^ simple things 
God began with those that were most perfect; as his* first creature 
was light, which of all qualities is the most pure and defecate, 
and is not stained by passing through places most impure : then 
all the other elements. In mixed bodies God took another method, 
from imperfect to perfect ; first things that have a being, as the firma 
ment, then life, as plants, then sense, as beasts, then reason, as men : 
first God would provide the places of heaven and earth, then the crea 
tures to dwell in them ; first the food, then the creatures to be sus 
tained by it. Provision was made for the inhabitants of the earth, as 
grass for beasts, and light for all living and moving creatures. Plants 
have a growing life, beasts a feeling life. Then man was made, last of 
all creatures, as most excellent. Thus God would teach us to go on 
from good to better. Man's palace was furnished with all things neces 
sary, and they were placed and disposed in their apt cells for the 
beauty and service of the whole, and then like a prince he was sent 
into the world to rule and reign. There are not so many animals in 
the earth as in the sea, to avoid the great waste of food which would 
be consumed by the beasts of the land to the prejudice of man. But 
there is no end of these considerations. Only let me tell you, power 
is most eminently discovered in the creation : Kom. i. 20, ' The invisible 
things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being 
understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and 
godhead.' The first apprehensions which we are possessed with, and 
which are most obvious, are the infinite greatness and power of the 

[2.] These are manifested in the whole structure of his word ; his 
power in the histories and prophecies, which declare what God hath 
and shall do ; his wisdom in the precepts and counsels, and discovery 
of such mysteries ; his goodness in promises, institutions, and provi 
sional helps. More particularly in the law part of his word, his good 
ness ; that showeth man what is good : Micah vi. 8, ' He hath showed 
thee, man, what is good ; ' his power, in threatening such punish 
ments and promising such rewards, and in the wonderful efficacy of 
his word in the conscience ; his wisdom, in stating such a rule, that 
hath such an admirable fitness for the governing and regulating of 
mankind. But though all three shine forth in the law, and all in each 
part, yet his wisdom is most eminent : Deut. iv. 6, ' Keep these 
statutes, for this is your wisdom and understanding.' In the gospel, 
still these three attributes appear the wonderful wisdom, power, and 
goodness of God. His wisdom in the orderly disposure of the covenant 
of grace : 2 Sam. xxiii. 5, ' Although my house be not so with God, yet 
he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things 
and sure ; for this is all my salvation and all my desire, although he 
make it not to grow/ And contriving the excellent design and plot of 
salvation by Christ : 1 Tim. iii. 16, ' Great is the mystery of godliness, 
God manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, 
preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up to 
glory.' His power in the incarnation, resurrection, and miracles of 

VER. 55.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 87 

Christ ; therefore Christ is called ' the wisdom and power of God.' 
But above all his love is magnified in the gospel : Rom. v. 8, ' God 
commendeth his love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, 
Christ died for us : 1 John iv. 9, 10, ' In this was manifested the love 
of God toward us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into 
the world, that we might live through him : herein is love, not that 
we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propi 
tiation for our sins ;' Titus iii. 4, ' But after that the kindness and love 
of God our Saviour toward man appeareth.' 


I have remembered thy name, Lord, in the night, and have kept 
thy law. VER. 55. 

[3.] THESE are discovered in daily providence. To rub up and revive 
our thoughts, God is pleased anew to set before us the glorious effects 
of his wisdom, goodness and power ; his wisdom in the contexture of 
providence, his power in the management of it, his goodness in the 
effects of it. His wisdom in the beauty and order of his works, in 
guiding the course of nature, and disposing all things about his people. 
He doeth all things well: Eccles. iii. 11, .' He hath made everything 
beautiful in its time/ or in the true and proper season ; therefore, we 
that look upon providence by pieces, stumble at the seeming confusion 
and uncertainty of what falleth out, as if the affairs of the world were 
not under a wise government ; but stay a little while till all the pieces 
of providence be put together in one frame, and then you will see a 
marvellous wisdom in them. In the work of creation, all things were 
' very good,' Gen. i. 31 ; so for these six thousand years, as well as for 
the first six days. Those things which seem confused heaps when they 
lie asunder, when put together will appear a beautiful structure and 
building. So for his goodness. What part hath God been acting in 
the world for so long a time but that of mercy ? He may be traced 
more by his acts of goodness than vengeance : Acts xiv. 17, ' Never 
theless he left not himself without witness, ayaOoTroitav, in that he did 
good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our 
hearts with joy and gladness.' The whole world is a theatre of mercy. 
If at any time we wrest punishment out of his hand, it is with an aim 
of mercy : as he threateneth that he may not punish, so he punisheth 
that he may not punish for ever. For his power, that is notably dis 
covered to us every day. If we would draw aside the covering of the 
creature, you might soon see the secret almighty power of God which 
acteth in everything that falleth out ; the same everlasting arm that 
made the creatures is under them to support them : Heb. i. 3, ' He 
upholdeth all things by the word of his power.' As they started out 
of nothing by his command, so they are kept from returning into 
nothing by the same powerful word, command, and decree of God : 
' Thou hidest thy face, and they are troubled ; thou takest away their 
breath, and they die ; thou sendest out thy Spirit, and they are created; 


and thou renewest the face of the e.arth/ Ps. civ. 29, 30, ' All thing* 
hold their life of him. If God withdraweth in any measure the wonted 
influence of his power from them, they presently find a change in 
themselves. It is even with the being and faculties of the creature as. 
with the image of the glass, which, when the face removeth, it is seen 
no more. The Lord doth as it were breathe into them a being, and 
when he taketh in his breath they perish, and when he sendeth it out 
again they are renewed. Now, though God doth constantly discover 
his wisdom, power, and goodness, yet in some providence one of these 
doth more especially appear ; his wisdom in some notable contrivance 
and chain of causes, which to a common eye seemed to have no tend 
ency to such effects as are produced by them ; as when out of the sins 
and perverse doings of men, or the disorders and confusions of the 
world, he raiseth his own glory, or by some unthought-of, unheard- 
of means bringeth about the deliverance of his people, taking the 
wise in their own craftiness. Sometimes his power, when by weak 
and contemptible means he bringeth great things to pass, and a straw 
becometh a spear in the hand of the Almighty. Sometimes in his 
goodness, in filling us with blessings, or doing notable acts of grace for 
his people's sake. 

[4.] These three attributes suit with God's threefold relation to us. 
By his almighty power he becometh our creator ; as most wise, our 
supreme governor ; as most good, our gracious benefactor. We depend 
upon him for our present supplies, and from him we expect our future 
hopes. His creation gives him a right to govern us, his wisdom a fit 
ness, and his bounty doth encourage us voluntarily to give up ourselves 
to his service. 

[5.] These three attributes do most bind our duty on us, as they 
beget in us love, fear, and faith, or esteem, reverence, and trust, which 
are the three radical graces that result from the very being and owning 
of God, and are the cultus naturalis enjoined in the first command 
ment. His wisdom as a lawgiver begets reverence and fear ; his good 
ness is the object of love, and his power of trust. If he be most wise, 
there is all the reason in the world that he should rule and govern us ; 
for who is fitter to govern and make laws than he that is most wise ? 
If he be most good, infinitely good, there is all the reason in the world 
that you should love him, and no show of reason why you should love 
the world and sin before him. If powerful and all-sufficient, there is- 
all the reason you should believe in him, as one that is able to make 
good his word, either by promise or threatening. Faith goeth upon 
that: Horn. iv. 21, he was ' strong in faith, being fully persuaded that 
what he had promised he was able to perform.' He is God all-suffi 
cient, therefore his promises are not to be distrusted, his threatenings 
not to be slighted. There is no resisting or standing out against him, 
in the twinkling of an eye he can tear you in pieces, pluck away the 
guilty soul from the embraces of the unwilling body. A spark of his 
wrath makes thee a burthen to thyself. So for promises ; one word 
of his mouth can accomplish all the good that is contained in them. 
And it is observable that the respects of the creature, that are pecu 
liarly due to one of these attributes, are sometimes in scripture directed 
to another. It is said, Hosea iii. 5, ' They shall fear the Lord and his: 

VER. 55.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 89 

goodness in the latter days ; ' and love him for his power and great 
ness, and believe in him for his wisdom. Again, they trust him for his 
goodness, love him for his wisdom, fear him for his power ; all these 
changes are in scripture. 

Secondly, Why God is best remembered when his name is studied ? 
The reason is, because the study of his name doth increase those three 
fundamental radical graces before mentioned. 

1. The studying of his name increaseth our love: ' Thy name is as 
an ointment poured forth, therefore the virgins love thee,' Cant. i. 3. 
Ointment kept close in the box doth not diffuse its savour, but oint 
ment poured forth is full of fragrancy and reviving, it perfumeth the 
whole house : John xii. 3, ' The house was filled with the odour of the 
ointment.' So when the name of God is not considered, we are not 
comforted and strengthened and quickened ; but pour it forth, take it 
abroad in your serious thoughts aud believing meditations, and that 
doth attract and draw hearts to him. When we consider the mercy, 
grace, power, wisdom, truth, and justice of God, these affect all those 
that have any spiritual discerning. This is the way to draw esteem 
from carnal hearts ; he hath authority to make laws, for he is the wise 
God ; power to back this authority, for he is the almighty Creator, who 
can frown thee into nothing ; but yet he is good and gracious, ready 
to receive you, and pardon, and do you good, though you have rebelled 
against him. To pour out this name is our duty, and then poor crea 
tures will be prevailed with : it is our duty to do it in the discoveries 
of the gospel, your duty to ponder upon it in your private meditations. 
The wisdom of God in the word showeth your duty, his power what 
need you have to bind it on your hearts ; and your case is not without 
hope, for you have to do with a good God : there is no mercy to such 
as fear not his powerful justice, and no justice for such as flee from it 
to his mercy. See how God poureth out his name : Exod. xxxiv. 5-7, 
' And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and 
proclaimed the name of the Lord ; and the Lord passed by before him, 
and proclaimed the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long- 
suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for 
thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will 
by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon 
the children, and upon the children's children unto the third and fourth 

2. The studying of God's name increaseth our faith and trust : Ps. 
ix. 10, ' They that know thy name will put their trust in thee/ God 
is first known, and then trusted, and then served. If God were known 
more he would be more trusted, and if he were more trusted we would 
not be so double-minded and unstable in the profession and practice of 
godliness. We little study God, and because we study his name so 
little, our faith is weak, and therefore we are so uncertain in our con 
versations. It is well when all our comfort and duty is immediately 
fetched out of the name of God, or his nature considered by us. 

3. The studying of God's name increaseth our reverence and fear : 
Ps. cxi. 9, ' Holy and reverend is thy name ; ' Ps. Ixxxvi. 11, ' Unite 
my heart to the fear of thy name/ The more you study the nature of 
God, the more awe-ful, serious, humble, watchful will you grow. Thus 


you see serious and becoming thoughts of God do much increase our 
faith, fear, and love. 

Use. The use is to exhort you more 

1. To study the name of God, and to dwell upon the meditations of 
the Almighty, and to possess your mind with him till no place be left 
for sin or vanity. 

[1.] The name of his being. God is not only the best of beings, but 
properly that which is ; because he is a self-being, that gave being to 
all things else, and from everlasting to everlasting. We are but as it 
were of yesterday, and our being is from him, and our life in his 
hands ; we cannot live an hour without him, nor fetch a breath with 
out him, nor think a thought, nor speak a word, nor stir a hand or foot 
without him. There is a continual providential influence and supporta- 
tion : as the beams of the sun vanish as soon as the sun is clouded, so do 
we fail when God suspends his influence. A watch goeth of itself, a mill 
of itself when the \vorkrnan taketh off his hand from them : it is not 
so with iis and God ; for, Acts xvii. 28, ' In him we live, move, and 
have our being.' What Paul said of spiritual life, Gal. ii. 20, is true 
also of life natural, ' I am, yet not I, but God is all in all/ He is in 
us, and liveth in us, or we could not subsist for a moment. We need not 
seek God without in the workmanship of heaven and earth, for we have 
God within ourselves, and may feel him and find him in our own life 
and motion ; as the child in the womb liveth by the life of the mother, 
before it is quickened and liveth apart by a life and soul of its own ; or 
as a pipe sounds by the blowing of the musician ; if he stop his breath 
it is altogether silent ; so we live and breathe in God, and all the tune 
able variety of our motions cometh from his breathing in us. Now, if 
God be so near us, shall we not take notice of his presence, and carry 
ourselves accordingly ? Shall we offend him and affront him to his 
face, and displease him without whom we cannot live ? But alas ! how 
seldom do we reflect upon this ! How is it that we move and think 
not with wonder of the first mover in whom we move ? How is it that 
we live and persevere in being, and do not consider of this fountain and 
self-being who gave our life to us, and still continues it ? Oh, the 
negligence of many souls professing the knowledge of God and godliness! 
We speak, walk, eat, and drink, and go about all our business, as if we 
had a self-being and independent, never thinking of that all-present 
and quickening Spirit that acts us, moveth in us, speaketh in us, 
maketh us to walk, eat, drink, and do all the functions of nature ; like 
the barbarous people who see, hear, speak, and reason, and never once 
reflect upon the principle of all these a soul within. 

[2.] Let us think often of the name of God, his attributes. 
_ (1.) Of his wisdom, that we may compose ourselves to worship, adore 
him, serve him according to his will and pleasure, and may admire 
him in the justice and equity of his laws, and the excellent contrivance 
of his providence, that so we may submit to the directions of the one 
and the determinations of the other. To the directions of his word : 
Can we count God to be a wise God, and refuse his counsel ? Doth not 
our practice give our profession the lie when we rather walk after our 
hearts' counsels, and the examples and fashions of the world, than 
observe the course God hath prescribed to us in the word? Who, then, 

YEB. 55.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 91 

is thought wise God or men ? So for submission to the determina 
tion of his providence. The flesh would fain be pleased, and therefore 
quarrelleth many times at God's dispensations as harsh and severe ; but 
in good earnest who is wiser God or men ? Do we think we are fitter 
to sit at the helm, and govern and steer all affairs, than the wise Creator 
of heaven and earth ? Shall we sit as judges upon his actions, and think 
that might have been prevented, this might have been better ordered, 
either for God's interest or our own comfort? Men will be teaching 
God how to govern the world ; for we prescribe to him as if he did not 
understand what were fit for us : he pleaseth us not in his wisest dis 
pensations, and we bear it out as if we could mend his works : Job 
xxi. 22, ' Shall any teach God knowledge?' Those that disallow of God s 
proceedings take upon them to be God's teachers. It was a blasphem 
ous speech of Alphonsus,i Deoaconsiliis adfuissetin creatione mundi, 
multa se consultius ordinaturum if he had been of God's counsel when 
he made the world, he would have ordered many things better. Many 
abhor such a gross speech, yet think almost to the same effect. If they 
had the governing of the world, such men should not prosper ; such and 
such things should not be done. 

(2.) The name of his power. Oh ! think often of that almighty 
power that maketh and conserveth all things, that giveth a being to 
you and every creature, and will do so to his promises, though never 
so unlikely ; for what cannot he do that bringeth all things out of 
nothing by his word ? Therefore our confidence in hiui should be more 
strong and steadfast ; for why should we have any jealousies and dis 
trusts of him who is omnipotent ? In your greatest wants he is all-suffi 
cient, and can supply you: Gen. xvii. 1, 'I am the almighty God; 
walk before me, and be thou perfect.' In your greatest dangers he can 
deliver you : Dan. iii. 17, ' Our Gocf whom we serve is able to deliver 
us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine 
hand, king.' In your lowest estate he is able to raise you up : Rom. 
xi. 23, 'And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed 
in ; for God is able to gratf them in again.' Whatever difficulties 
oppose themselves against the thing promised, he can remove them, 
for nothing is too hard for the Almighty : Phil. in. 21, ' He is able to 
subdue all things to himself.' How weak and despicable soever the vis 
ible means be, God can work by them : 2 Chron. xiv. 11, 'It is nothing 
with thee to help, whether with many, or them that have no power.' 
All is alike to omnipotency. Instruments or means may be too great 
for God's honour to be used, never too small or weak for him to work by. 

(3.) The name of his goodness. God is infinitely good, effectually 
good, independently good, and all-snfficiently good. If good be amiable 
in our eyes, so should God be. He hath all that is lovely in the crea 
tures in a more eminent degree, and therefore our affections, that are 
scattered to them, should be united in God. He is the supreme good, 
and the fountain of all goodness. Oh ! how should we love this God, 
and that above all things in the world, or else we do not love him 
aright. This is that which draweth in your hearts to him, and upon 
this should your thoughts dwell. He showed his goodness to 
you in creation, when he made you a little lower than the angels ; but 
much more in redemption, when he preferred you above the angels ; 


for ' he did not take hold of angels, but took hold of the seed of Abra 
ham.' What should you be doing but admiring of this, and showing 
forth the virtue and force of this love ? ' God is love, and dwelleth in 
love/ 1 John iv. 16. Oh ! shall the paltry things of this world draw 
off your love from God, who is goodness itself ? Let this prevail with 
you to lay down all your doating upon the creature, that you may no 
more follow the shadow, but cleave to the substance. We owe all that 
we are, all that we have, all that we hope for, to his goodness ; and there 
fore let us consecrate and dedicate ourselves to his service and glory. 

2. To study it so as some good may come of it. We should keep 
our thoughts on this holy subject 

[1.] Till we admire God. The degree of the saints' knowledge here 
below is only to proceed to admiration : Ps. viii. 1, '0 Lord, our Lord, 
how excellent is thy name in all the earth ! ' When we have studied 
God, silence will be the best eloquence, and admiration advance him 
more than speech. Admire the name of his being. Creatures in their 
highest glory may be described, an account may be given of them ; 
but his nature is Wonderful, can be admired, but not told. Admire 
his wisdom : Ps. civ. 24, ' Lord, how manifold are thy works ! in wis 
dom hast thou made them all.' Admire his love : Oh, how excellent 
is thy loving-kindness ! Ps. xxxvi. 7; ' Oh, how great is thy goodness, 
which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee, which thou hast 
wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men ! ' Ps. xxxi. 
19. The name of his power: Ps. cxlv. 3, ' Great is the Lord, and greatly 
to be praised ; his greatness is unsearchable.' The object is too big 
for the faculty : it is a contempt of God when we think of him and do 
not admire him. Oh, the riches of his wisdom, height of his power, 
breadth of his love ! 

[2.] Till we make some practical improvement of him ; otherwise to 
know God is but a vain speculation, a work of curiosity rather than of 
profit. By the sight of God the heart must be 

(1.) Drawn off from the creature, self, and sin. 

(2.) Drawn unto God. 

(1.) Drawn off 

(1st.) From the creature. That is a true sight of God which abaseth 
all things beside God, not only in opinion but affection ; that attracteth 
and uniteth the soul to God, and draweth it off from all created 
excellences. The sight of God's purity darkens the purity of the 
angels, and staineth the pride of all created glory : Job iv. 18, ' Behold, 
he put no trust in his servants, and his angels he charged with folly.' 
So that is a true sight of God's excellency that draweth off the heart 
from the vain, changeable, and empty shadow of the creature ; and 
God is not truly amiable to us till this effect be in some measure 
wrought in us : 1 John ii. 15, ' Love not the world, neither the things 
that are in the world : if any man love the world, the love of the Father 
is not in him.' So that our love to God will be known by the decay 
of our love to earthly things. 

(2d.) From self. ^ A sight of God will best discover thyself unto 
thyself, that in the light of God's glorious majesty thou mayest dis 
tinctly behold thine own vileness and misery. Esaias, when he saw 
God in vision: Isa. vi. 5, ' Then said I, Woe is me. for I am undone, 

VER. 55.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 93 

because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a 
people of unclean lips, and mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of 
hosts.' That is the use he made of this glorious sight : he knew, 
doubtless, something of this before, but now is affected as if he had 
never seen it. The glory of God shining on him doth not lift him up 
in arrogancy and conceit of the knowledge of such profound mysteries, 
but he is more abased in himself ; this light "made him see his own 
uncleanness. So Job xlii. 5, 6, ' I have heard of thee by the hearing 
of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee ; therefore I abhor myself in 
dust and ashes.' As long as it was hearsay, Job thought himself some 
thing, and might reflect upon himself and actions with a kind of com 
placency and delight ; but now he could not look upon himself with 
any patience. Self-love maketh us loathe other men's sins more than 
our own, and hindereth us from representing ourselves to ourselves in 
a true shape. It is the mere speculative knowledge of God, and science 
falsely so called that puffeth up ; but airue knowledge of God breedeth 

(3d.) From sin : it draweth off the heart. This remembrance will re 
present filthiness as filthiness without a covering. Sin is a deformity to 
God, as contrariety to his laws, the purity and goodness of his essence, 
and wisdom of his laws ; yea, an act of rebellion and disloyalty against 
his sovereignty. Sin still is greatened by the consideration of God and a 
reflection upon his nature; as against his authority, purity, goodness, 
so there is unkindness, disobedience, and a blot in it. Well may the 
apostle say, 3 John 11, ' He that doth evil hath not seen God.' 

(2.) The heart must be drawn unto God by love, fear, and trust ; 
for unless we meditate upon God to this end, c Though we know God, 
we do not glorify him as God,' Rom. i. 21, till your hearts be moved 
and inclined to love, fear him, and obey him. His being calls for it, 
that we should seek after communion with God, who is such a self- 
sufficient, all-sufficient, and eternal being. Whom would we own, or 
whose favour would we seek ? The favour of poor creatures, who are 
now one* thing, now another ? or the favour of God, who can still say, 
I am that I am ! what I was I am, and I will be what I am ? Friends 
are changeable, their affections dry up, and they themselves die, and 
their favour and all their thoughts of doing us good perish. There is 
no end of his duration or affection. His attributes call for love ; his 
power rendereth him the most desirahle friend and dreadful adversary. 
What more dreadful than power that cannot be resisted, wisdom that 
none can be hid from ? and what more lovely than his love ? Surely 
if we did study his name, his promises, and threatenings, it would have 
more power with us : how would we seek to him, and submit to his 
blessed will, and depend on him, as those that have nothing in our 
selves, nor anything else in the world had being without him ! We 
would then believe all opposite powers to be nothing, and wink at 
either the dreadfulness or loveliness of the creature, while the eye of 
our souls is wholly taken up with the sight of God ; our desires would 
be to him, and our delights in him, and being deadened to the creature, 
would wholly cleave to him. 

Dock 3. Those that have spiritual affections will take all occasions 
to remember God's name. In adversity, for their comfort : Isa. xxvi. 


8, 9, ' Yea, in the way of thy judgments, Lord, have we waited for 
thee : the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance 
of thee : with my soul have I desired thee in the night ; yea, with my 
spirit within me will I seek thee early;' Isa. 1. 10, ' Who is among you 
that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that 
walketh in darkness and hath no light ? let him trust in the name of 
the Lord, and stay upon his God/ In prosperity, for a regulation and 
restraint to their affections, that they might not too freely run out on 
the creature to the wrong of God. It is said of the wicked, Ps. Iv. 19, 
' Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God ;' but 
God's children remember him- in their comforts : Deut. via. 10, 11 r 
'When thou hast eaten and art full, thou shalt bless the Lord thy 
God for the good land which he hath given thee ; beware that thou 
forget not the Lord thy God ;' so ver. 18, ' Thou shalt remember the 
Lord thy God, for he it is that giveth thee power to get wealth.' In 
company they will be speaking of God : Eph. v. 4, ' a\\a ev-^apta-rla, 
but rather giving of thanks/ Alone they will be thinking of God ; 
so that when they are alone, they are not alone ; God is with them in 
their solitude : John xvi. 32, ' Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now 
come, that ye shall be scattered every one to his own, and shall leave 
me alone ; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me/ 
By day they redeem time, God's statutes are their songs ; by night 
when they cannot sleep : ' When I awake I am still with thee,' Ps. 
cxxxix. 18. Oh, what an advantage it is to have the heart thus 
thronged with thoughts of God in the night ! When others sleep, 
good men are awake with God. 

1. Observe this, that which David speaketh of himself was a secret 
duty. Those duties which we perform in secret, and wherein we avoid 
the applause of men, are most sincere, and by them many times we ob 
tain most blessing : Mat. vi. 6, ' Thy Father, which seeth in secret, 
shall reward thee openly/ David was the same in secret that he was 
in the light. Other witnesses of our respect to God we need not than 
God himself : it is enough that he seeth us and approveth us. Our 
desire and scope should be to please him, not to appear devout to men, 
or to be esteemed as such by them. Therefore, besides public ordi 
nances, we should give ourselves to spiritual exercises in secret. 

2. This was a spiritual duty transacted in the heart by his thoughts. 
The darkness of the night doth riot hinder the delight of the soul ; it 
is day within though night without. When a child of God shall see 
God, and be seen of him, though the sun shineth not upon the world, 
it is enough, their hearts are enlightened with God's Spirit. 

3. It was a duty done axaipw?, unseasonably to a vulgar eye. When 
others were buried in sleep, David would awaken sometimes to re 
member God. It is their solace ; and spiritual affections and heroical 
grace must not be limited to the ordinary dull way of expressing duty 
to God. They have special affections and special dispensations : Ps. 
Ixiii. 6, ' My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, when 
I remember thee on my bed, and meditate of thee in the night- 

4. It is not unseasonable. In the night, without distraction, we can 
more freely command our thoughts, for the senses being exercised, 

VER. 56.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 95 

scatter the mind to several objects : Job xxxv. 10, ' None saith, Where 
is God, my maker, who giveth songs in the night ?' That is matter of 
rejoicing and comfort to poor oppressed creatures. So Ps. xlii. 8, ' I 
will sing of his loving-kindness in the day-time, and in the night his 
song shall be with me/ Day and night he was filled with a sense of 
God's love. The reasons are 

[1.] They are fitted for it, having knowledge and a deep impres 
sion of the majesty of God upon their hearts : ' My reins instruct me 
in the night-season,' Ps. xvi. 7. These things that make a deep im 
pression in the day, the thoughts will return upon in the night ; now 
God and his words are impressed upon them. 

[2.] They delight in it : Pa civ. 34, ' My meditation of him shall 
be sweet ; I will be glad in the Lord.' They delight themselves in 
beholding the face of God, though not by immediate vision, yet by 
meditation. They are so affected with thoughts of his excellency, 
goodness, kindness, that it is their solace to draw their hearts off from 
all things and persons in the world to that divine object. 

[3.] They profit by it. (1.) As to comfort, it easeth us of many sor 
rowful, troublesome, and weary thoughts. We must fetch our comforts 
from God ; the divine nature is the first fountain of them, therefore called 
' the God of all comfort,' 2 Cor. i. 3. (2.) As to duty and obedience. 
The reasons of our duty and subjection are most enforced from the 
nature of God ; therefore the more we remember the nature of God, 
the more we are quickened to obedience: there we see his infinite 
power, supreme authority, exact holiness, tender love : ' Let the pot 
sherds of the earth contend with one another,' Isa. xlv. 9. Our busi 
ness is to keep God our friend. He hath two properties that make 
him most comfortable or most terrible, according as he is at peace or 
war with us eternity and omnipotency. 

Use. Let us take more occasions to think of God, and that with 
admiration. Many take no more notice of him than if he were not at. 
all ; but let us take all occasions : Pa iv. 4, ' Commune with your own , 
hearts upon your bed.' All the time we can spare from our necessary, 
civil, and natural actions should be employed in calling to mind what 
we have seen, or heard, or felt of God. A loathness and backwardness 
to this duty is an ill sign. 

This I had, because I kept thy precepts. VER. 56. 

IN this psalin the dependence of the verses is neither to be neglected, 
nor too curiously sought after. Many of the sentences have no other 
connection than pearls upon the same string, though some are as links 
in the same chain, fastened one to the other by an apt method and 
order. The design of the penman was to cast all his experiences into 
the order of the Hebrew alphabet ; and as there are in the Hebrew 
twenty-two letters, so twenty-two parts or octonaries. Each octonary 
beginneth with the same letter. This sentence which I have read 


seemeth to be independent of the preceding verse, and is the sudden 
effusion or eruption of a gracious heart engaged in the meditation of 
the fruit of obedience : ' This I had, because I kept thy precepts/ In 
the words you have 

1. David's assertion of his integrity, I have kept thy precepts. 

2. The gain of this course indefinitely proposed, this I had. 

3. The link between both in the causal particle, because. David 
doth not here tell you what he had, but this and that : this hope, this 
comfort, this quickening, this deliverance ; all this I had ; that is, 
whatever is good and comfortable. The feminine pronoun Zeth is put 
neutrally, the Hebrew wanting the neuter gender. 

The points are two : 

First, He that continueth faithful in a course of obedience will find 
at length that it will turn to a good account. 

Secondly, That it is of great use to observe what good cometh to us 
by keeping close to God's ways. 

For the first point, he that continueth faithful in a course of obed 
ience will find at length that it will turn to a good account. Here 
three things are to be explained : 

1. What it is to keep God's precepts. 

2. What is the good that accrueth to us thereby. 

3. The connection between both these, or the reasons and grounds 
upon which we may expect this good. 

1. Let us inquire whab it is to keep God's precepts. The phrase is 
often used in scripture, implying a diligent observance of it, and obed 
ience thereunto. The term keep relateth to a charge or trust committed 
to us. Look, as on our part we charge Christ with our souls 2 Tim. 
i. 12, ' I know that he is able to keep that I have committed to him' 
so Christ chargeth us with his word, that we may be chary and 
tender of it. We charge him with our souls, that he may sanctify and 
save them in his own day ; so he chargeth us with his precepts, that 
we may lay them up in our hearts, and observe them in our practice. 
As we would have Christ to be faithful to his trust, so should we be in 
ours, and that even to a tittle : James ii. 10, ' Whosoever shall keep 
the whole law, and yet offend in point, he is guilty of all/ Now, there 
is a twofold keeping of God's precepts legal and evangelical. 

[1.] The legal keeping, that is when we keep and perform the com 
mandments so exactly as is answerable to the rigour of the law. What 
is that ? The law requires perfect and absolute obedience, without 
the least failing in any one point : Gal. iii. 10, ' Cursed is he that con 
tinueth not in all things that is written in the book of the law to do 
them/ The least offence, according to that covenant, layeth us open 
to the curse ; as for one sin once committed the angels were turned 
out of heaven, and Adam out of paradise. In this sense there is no 
hope for us. 

[2.] There is an evangelical keeping God's precepts, and that is 
filial and sincere obedience ; and so they are said to keep God's pre 
cepts, not they who have no sin in them, but they who study to be 
free from sin, and desire to please God in all things. David had many 
failings, and some of them of a high nature ; yet he saith, I have kept 
thy precepts. His purpose and endeavour was to please God in all 

VER. 56.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 97 

things. The apostles had many failings ; they were weak in faith, 
passionate, full of revenge, calling for fire from heaven ; a great many 
failings we may find upon record against them ; yet Christ returneth 
this general acknowledgment : John xvii. 6, ' They have kept thy 
word.' God accepteth of our endeavours ; when our defects are 
repented of, he pardoneth them : James v. 11, ' You have heard of the 
patience of Job ;' and we have heard of his impatience too, his cursing 
the day of his birth, and his bold expostulation with God; but God 
putteth his finger upon the scar, and mentions that which is commend 
able. This sincere obedience is known by our endeavours after perfec 
tion, and our repentance for defects. For let me tell you here, that 
perfect obedience is required under the gospel : the rule is as strict as 
ever it was, but the covenant is not so strict. The rule is as strict as 
ever it was; we are still bound to perpetual, personal, and perfect 
obedience, otherwise our defects were no sins : ' For where there is no 
law, there is no transgression,' Rom. iv. 15. But the covenant is not 
so strict. This perfect obedience is not so indispensably required under 
the sanction and penalty of the old covenant ; for the gospel, though 
it alloweth or approveth of no sin, yet it granteth a pardon of course to 
some sins as they are retracted by a general repentance. As sins of 
infirmity, such as are sins of ignorance, which had we known we would 
not have committed ; and sins of incogitancy and sudden surreption, 
which may escape without observation of them ; and sins of violent 
temptation, which by reason of some sudden assault sway our passions 
against the right rule ; such sins as do not arise out of an evil purpose 
of the mind, but out of human frailty ; they are consistent with an 
interest in this covenant, which alloweth a means of recovery by 
repentance, which the law doth not. The law for one offence once 
committed doth condemn a man without leaving him any way or 
means of recovery ; but the gospel saith, ' I came to call sinners to 
repentance,' Mat. ix. 13. It accepteth repentance, and doth not cast 
men off for sins of infirmity. Where there is a general purpose to 
please God, and a hearty sorrow when we offend him, this is the 
sincerity which the gospel accepteth of. In the law, complete in 
nocence is required ; in the gospel, repentance is allowed : and so he 
is said to keep God's statutes that doth not voluntarily and impeni- 
tently go on in a course of known sin. 

2. Let me now show the good that cometh to us thereby. David 
saith indefinitely, ' This I had ;' not telling us what good or privilege 
it was, only in the general it was some benefit that accrued to him in 
this life. He doth not say, This I hope for, but, This I had. And 
therefore I shall not speak of the full reward in the life to come. In 
heaven we come to receive the full reward of obedience. But a close 
walker, that waiteth upon God in a humble and constant obedience, 
shall have sufficient encouragement even in this life. Not only he 
shall be blessed, but he is blessed ; he hath something in hand as well 
as in hope. As David saith in this 119th Psalm, not only he shall be 
blessed, but he is blessed. As they that travelled towards Zion, they 
met with a well by the way : Ps. Ixxxiv. 6, 'Who passing through the 
valley of Baca, make it a well : the rain also filleth the pools.' In a 
dry and barren wilderness through which they were to pass, they were 

VOL. vir. G 


not left wholly comfortless, but met with a well or cistern ; that is, 
they had some comfort vouchsafed to them before they came to enjoy 
God's presence in Zion, some refreshments they had by the way. As 
servants, that beside their wages have their vails, so, besides the 
recompense of reward hereafter, we have our present comforts and 
supports during our course of service, which are enough to counter 
balance all worldly joys, and the greatest pleasures that men can expect 
in a way of sin. Let me instance in the benefits that believers find by 
walking with God in a course of obedience, that every one can say, 
' This I had, because I kept thy precepts.' 

[1.] Peace of conscience, a blessing not to be valued ; and this we 
have because we keep his precepts : Isa. xxxii. 17, ' The work of right 
eousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and 
assurance for ever.' They shall be free from those unquiet thoughts 
wherewith others are haunted. A wicked man's soul is in a mutiny, 
one affection warreth against another, and all against the conscience, 
and conscience against all ; but in a heart framed to the obedience of 
God's will there is peace. Pax est tranquillitas ordinis when every 
thing keeps its place there is peace ; when the elements keep their 
place, and the confederacies of nature are preserved, then there is peace : 
so when a man walketh in a holy course there is peace ; when the 
thoughts and affections are under rule and government, there is a 
serenity and quiet in the soul. Now, this is never brought to pass in 
the soul but by obedience and holy walking according to the rule of 
the new creature : Gal. vi. 16, 'As many as walk according to this rule, 
peace and mercy shall be upon them, as upon the whole Israel of God.' 
Such an accurate and orderly life is the only way of obtaining this 
peace and harmonious accord in the soul. So Ps. cxix. 165, ' Great 
peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them ; ' 
not only peace, but great peace a peace that passeth all understand 
ing, a peace better felt than expressed ; and this resulteth from obed 
ience, or the government of our hearts and ways according to the will 
of God. Look, as cheerfulness and liveliness accompanieth perfect 
health, or the tunable motion of the spirits in the body, so this serenity 
and quiet in the soul, the regular and orderly motion of our faculties ; 
there is a sweet contentment of mind resulting from it. ' The peace 
of God shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.' In 
a troublesome world we need to have our hearts and minds kept 
and guarded from assaults of temptations, and diffident vexing cares 
and fears ; and therefore it is mightily necessary in those times to get 
the peace of God, without which the soul is upon the rack. Oh, this 
sweet peace and calm that is in our hearts in the midst of all tempests 
and tossings from without ! A man is provided and fortified against 
the apprehension of injuries, troubles, dangers, and those heart-cutting 
cares which otherwise are apt to seize upon us. This a believer can 
say, This peace of conscience I had in the midst of all the troubles 
from without. Now this peace others cannot have: Isa. Ivii. 21, 
' There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked ; ' they have not this 
inward tranquillity and serenity of mind ; their affections are so un 
ruly, and their consciences so unquiet, they are never able to rest. 
But how can this be ? None seem to be less troubled than wicked 

VER. 56.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 99 

men. I answer There is a difference between a dead sea and a calm 
sea ; a stupid conscience they may have, but not a quiet conscience : 
their consciences are stupefied by drenching their souls in worldly de 
lights and pleasures ; but the virtue of this opium is soon spent, theii 
consciences are easily awakened by the convictions of the word, the 
sting of afflictions, the agonies of death. Well, then, this may the 
composed heart say, I had this peace, this serenity of mind, because I 
kept thy precepts. 

[2.] Next to peace of conscience there is joy in the Holy Ghost ; 
this is the fruit of peace, as peace is the fruit of righteousness : Bom. 
xiv. 17, ' The kingdom of God consisteth not in meat and drink, but 
in righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' First right 
eousness, and then peace, and then joy in the Holy Ghost. As joy of 
heart and gladness is the fruit of temporal or civil peace, when every 
man may sit under his own vine and his own fig-tree, and reap the 
fruit of his labour without the danger of annoyance ; so now, when a 
man can enjoy himself as being reconciled to God, or being at peace 
with him, and hath tasted of the clusters of Canaan, he can ' rejoice 
in hope of the glory of God,' Rom. v. 11. This is that joy in the 
Holy Ghost which God doth graciously dispense to those that obey his 
word and hearken to the motions of his Spirit. Oh ! how may a be 
liever triumph and say, ' This I had because I kept thy precepts I ' 
Joy is the fruit of holiness, and the oil of grace maketh way for the 
oil of gladness : Ps. cxix, 14, ' I rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies 
more than in all riches.' David experienced the joys of obedience, 
and the joys of a crown : now saith David, ' I rejoiced in the way of 
thy testimonies more than in all riches ; ' not in the contemplation, but 
in the way. This was a joy that did result from practical obedience, 
which is more than the possessions and treasures of the world. Many 
picture religion in their fancies with a sour and austere face, and think 
it inviteth men to nothing but harsh and unpleasant courses. Oh, 
no ! It inviteth you to the highest contentment the creature is capable 
of, the joy in the Holy Ghost, which is ' unspeakable and glorious.' A 
sensualist, that runs after the dreggy delights of the flesh, is the veriest 
fool in the world ; for he can never have any true joy, it is but frisks 
of mirth (while conscience is asleep), but when it is gone, it leaveth a 
sting behind it. 

[3.] Increase of grace. This is another benefit we get by keeping 
God's precepts : ' They go from strength to strength/ Ps. Ixxxiv. 7 ; 
as they that went to the feast at Jerusalem ; they went from troop to 
troop ; so they are brought forward in their way to heaven. God, that 
punisheth sin with sin, rewardeth also grace with grace. The one is 
the most dreadful dispensation that God can use. When men have 
gone on in a course of sin, God often punisheth one sin with another, 
so that they are plunged deeper and deeper every day in the gulf of 
profaneness. But it is most comfortable when godliness increaseth 
upon our hands, and God is still perfecting his own work in us : Bom. 
vi. 19, ' As you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness, 
and to iniquity unto iniquity, so now yield your members servants to 
righteousness unto holiness.' It standeth us upon to observe the growth 
ot grace, as we were formerly conscious of the growth of sin. Shall 


we be more earnest to damn ourselves than to save ourselves ? There 
is no man but in his carnal estate might observe how he departed 
from God by degrees, and his heart was hardened by degrees. At 
first he had some light and conscience, till he sinned it away and 
turned his back upon the ordinances, which might revive it and keep it 
awake; and then his sin betrayed him further and further into a 
customary course of profaneness. I say, a carnal man may trace the 
growth of sin in his own heart step by step, and say, ' This I had be 
cause I slighted such a check of conscience, despised such an ordin 
ance, fell into such an enormous practice ; ' for God forsaketh none till 
they first forsake him. So may a child of God trace his gradual in 
crease in holiness : this I had by hearkening to the counsel of God at 
such a time against the reluctancy of my flesh. There is no duty 
recovered out of the hands of difficulty but bringeth in a considerable 
profit to the soul: Prov. iv. 18, 'The way of the just is a shining 
light, which shineth more and more to the perfect day.' Look, as the 
day decreaseth the night increaseth, till it cometh to thick darkness ; 
so by every sin men grow worse and worse, till at last they stumble 
into utter darkness. But the way of the just is a growing light; it 
increaseth always into more durable resolutions and exact practice of 
godliness, till it come to the high noon of perfection. David taketh 
notice of the fruit of obedience : Ps. xviii. 24, ' The Lord accept of me 
according to the cleanness of my hands.' 

[4.] Another benefit that we have is many gracious experiences and 
manifestations of God vouchsafed to us in the way of obedience. In 
the present world God and believers are not strange to one another ; a 
man that walketh close with him will meet him at every turn : Ps. 
xvii. 15, ' As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness/ The 
Psalmist there preferreth his present condition before the greatest 
happiness of carnal men. Why ? Because he had opportunity of 
beholding the face of God, or enjoying the comforts of his presence. 
But how ? In righteousness, in a strict course of obedience. If God 
be a stranger to others, they may thank themselves: John xiv. 21, 
' He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that 
loveth me ; and he that loveth me is loved of my Father, and I will 
love him, and manifest myself to him.' Holiness is the only way to 
clear up our right to these great comforts of the gospel ; and if you 
would get experience of them, make conscience of obedience, and be 
exact and punctual with God, and you will not want your refreshments 
and visits of love, and expressions of his grace and favour to you : 
those sensible proofs and manifestations God will not give to us but in 
a way of obedience ; so the promise runneth, ' He that hath my com 
mandments, and keepeth them, to him will I manifest myself ; ' so 
ver. 23, ' If a man love me, and keep my commandments, my Father 
will love him, and we will come to him, and take up our abode with 
him/ These are taken into sweet fellowship and communion with 
God, and the blessed Trinity will take up their abode in his heart. 
But pray, mark, Christ, that is so tender and willing to communicate 
the iiifluences_ of his grace, yet standeth upon his sovereignty, and 
therefore still insisteth upon keeping his precepts, if they would par 
take of his comforts. 



[5.] Protection in their work. They are under the special care and 
conduct of his providence while they keep his precepts : ' He keepeth 
them as in a pavilion ; thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy pre 
sence from the pride of men,' Ps. xxxi. 20. And who are they that 
are kept ? Those that fear him and trust in him/ ver. 19. Pray 
mark, when they had no visible defence, when they seemed to be left 
open as a prey to the oppressions and injuries of their potent adver 
saries, yet there is a secret guard about them, and they are kept the 
world knoweth not how : God's favour and providence is their sure 
guard and defence. Whatever contentious and proud men design and 
threaten against them, yet they never have their full will upon them. 
Many a child of God hath ridden out the storm, and may come and 
say ' 1 his I had, because I kept thy precepts.' This it is to keep close 
to God and hold fast our integrity. Elsewhere the Lord expresseth 
himself to be ' a wall of fire round about his people/ Zech. ii. 5 which 
should affright at a distance, and consume near at hand In those 
countries when they lay in the fields, they made fires about them to 
eep off the wild beasts ; so God, when he seeth it fit to excuse his 
people from trouble, he can in the most unsafe times, and when they 
are weakest, protect them by his secret hand, bridling their enemies 
and making their attempts ineffectual. Satan is sensible of this privy 
guard : Job 1. 10, ' Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about 
his house, and about all that he hath on every side ? ' The world seeth 
not this invisible guard, but the devil seeth it. There is no gap open 
for mischief to enter and break in upon them. This can God do when 
he pleaseth ; and a man that holdeth fast his integrity, and goeth on 
in his duty referring himself to God's keeping, shall have experience 

it, and when the danger is over, say, 'This I had, because I kept 
thy precepts. 

[6.] In public and common judgments God maketh a difference 
and some of his choice ones are marked out for preservation, and are 
as brands plucked out of the burning, whilst others are consumed 
therein. I his is done oftentimes, I cannot say always. The Jews have 
a proverb that two dry sticks may set a green one on fire : a good man 
may perish in the common judgment, that is the meaning of the proverb 
And sometimes their condition may be worst ; as Jeremiah: the whole 
city was besieged, and he in the dungeon. Chaff and corn is threshed 

the same floor, but the corn is ground and baked. But this is the 
best way we can take to be hid in the common calamity, though there 
be not an absolute certainty ; for the comfort is but propounded with a 
possibility : Zeph. ii. 3, ' Seek righteousness, seek meekness ; it may be 
ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger/ Though God hath a 
peculiar eye to the godly, yet their temporal safety is not put out of 
U doubt ; it may be, or it may not be ; but their eternal comforts are 
sure and safe. Yet strict and humble walking is the only way and 
in some cases God showeth that there shall be a distinction between 
Ins people and others, and when others are overwhelmed they shall 
be preserved ; as Eccles. viii. 12, ' Surely I know it shall be well with 
them that fear the Lord, which fear before him ; but it shall be ill 
with the wicked ; ' and Isa. iii. 10, ' Say unto the righteous it shall 
be well with him, for they shall eat of the fruit of their doings ; but 


say unto the wicked it shall be ill with them, for the work of his hands 
shall be given to him ;' and Jer. xv. 11, ' Verily it shall be well with 
this remnant : I will cause the enemy to treat them well in the day of 
evil and affliction.' All these places speak of delivering them from 
trouble, or moderating the trouble to them. If there be an uncertainty 
in the thing, yet a probability ; but whenever it is done, it is a singu 
lar favour, and we must own it as the fruit of obedience : ' This I had, 
because I kept thy precepts.' We must expect the temporal reward 
of godliness with much submission, and venture upon his providence. 

[7.] So much of sanctified prosperity as shall be good for them : 
Mat. vi. 33, ' First seek the kingdom of God, and the righteousness 
thereof, and these things shall be added.' God will cast them into the 
bargain ; and though he may keep them low and bare, yet ' no good 
thing will he withhold/ Ps. Ixxxiv. 11. So that a child of God sur 
veying all his comforts may say, This and that and the other mercy I 
had from the Lord's grace ; these comforts and these deliverances came 
in ' because I kept thy precepts.' 

3. The next thing is to show you what connection there is between 
these two, obedience and this good, or the reason of the Lord's deal 
ing thus. 

[1.] God doth it partly out of his general justice, as he is gover 
nor of the world : his holy nature doth delight in holiness, and there 
fore it is requisite, ut bonis bene sit, et mails male that it should be 
well with them that do well, and evil with them that do evil, and such 
dealing a man should have from God as he dealeth out to God : 
Ps. xviii. 25, 26, ' With the merciful thou wilt show thyself merciful, 
and with the upright thou wilt show thyself upright, and with the pure 
thou wilt show thyself pure, and with the froward thou wilt show thy 
self froward.' In the general, that it should be well with the righteous, 
and ill with the wicked ; there is an argument in the governing justice 
of God : but then, to come to particulars, that it should be so ill with 
the wicked, here is exacta ratio justi ; but that it should be so well 
with men imperfectly righteous, this is moderate justice mixed with 
undeserved mercy. 

[2.] There is his gracious promise and covenant ; heaven and earth 
are laid at the feet of godliness : 1 Tim. iv. 8, ' Godliness hath the 
promise of this life and that which is to come.' Something during our 
service in this world. 

The second point is, that it is of no small benefit to see and observe 
what good we have by obedience to God. 

1. It will increase our esteem of his grace. That the little and 
slender obedience that we yield to his law should have such respect 
and acceptance with him as to be recompensed with so much peace, 
and comfort, and protection, and so many blessings : ' Lord, what am 
I, and what is my father's house ? ' Oh, what a good master have we ! 
When the saints are crowned, they cast their crowns at the Lamb's feet, 
Rev. iv. 10. We hold all by his mercy : Luke xvii. 10, ' When we 
have done all, we are unprofitable servants;' not in compliment, but 
in truth of heart, we are unprofitable servants. That God should 
respect us, it is not for the dignity of the work, but merely for his own 

VER. 56.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 103 

2. It is of use that we may justify God against the reproaches and pre 
judices of carnal men, who think God is indifferent to good and evil, 
and that all things come alike to all, that it is in vain to be strict and 
precise, that there is no reward to the good: Mai. iii. 14, ' It is in vain to 
serve God, and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinances ? ' 
Yea, the temptation may befall God's own children, and be forcibly 
borne in upon their hearts: Ps. IxxiiL 13, ' Verily I have cleansed my 
hands in vain.' We think all is lost labour. Now, to produce the sweet 
consolations of God, and his temporal supplies, and the manifold bless 
ings bestowed upon us, it is a good stay to our hearts, and enables us 
to justify God against the scorns and reproaches of the world. 

3. It is of use to check our murmurings. If we endure anything 
for God, we are apt to repine, and pitch upon that evil we receive 
from his hand, passing over the good. A little evil, like one humour 
out of order, or one member out of joint, disturbeth the whole body ; 
so we, by poring upon the evil we endure, pass over all his other bounty : 
Mai. i. 2, ' Wherein hast thou loved us ? God cannot endure to have 
his love suspected or undervalued ; and yet people are apt to do so 
when dispensations are anything cross to their desires and expecta 
tions. But now it is a great check, to consider that if we have our 
troubles, we have also our consolations; and we should rather look 
upon the good that cometh to us in pleasing God, than the temporal 
aud light afflictions we meet withal in his service : Job ii. 10, ' Shall 
we receive good at the hands of God, and not evil ? ' 

4. It is an encouragement to us in well-doing, the more proofs and 
tokens we have of his supportation. We are wrought upon by the senses ; 
as Jer. ii. 19, ' Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy back- 
slidings reprove thee : see what an evil and bitter thing it is to for 
sake the Lord ; ' and ver. 23, ' See thy way in the valley, and know 
what thou hast done.' As parents, when their children smart for 
eating raw diet, they upbraid them with it : It is for eating your green 
fruit ; so doth the Lord come to his people : Now you see the evil of 
your doings. So, on the contrary, it doth engage us to strict walking 
to see how God owneth it ; so doth God appeal to us by experience : 
Have I been a land of darkness to you, or a barren wilderness ? ' 
Jer. ii. 31 ; Micah ii. 7, ' Do not my words do good to them that walk 
uprightly ? ' Look about you, survey all your comforts ; did sin pro 
cure these mercies, or godliness ? Have you not found sensible benefit 
by being sincere in my service ? 

Object. But is this safe, to ascribe the comfort and blessings that we 
have to our own obedience ? Is it not expressly forbidden, Deut. ix. 4, 
' Say not in thy heart, For my righteousness hath the Lord brought 
me to possess the land ' ? 

Aiis. 1. David doth not boast of his merits, but observeth God's 
mercy and faithfulness in the fruits of obedience. There is his mercy 
in appointing a reward for such slender services: Gal. vi. 16, 'As 
many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them.' 
All the comfort we have is from mercy ; yea, undeserved mercy. 
Those that walk according to this rule stand in need of mercy. Their 
peace and comfort floweth from mercy ; they need mercy to cover the 
iailings they are conscious to in their walkings. And then consider 


his truth and faithfulness. The reward of well-doing cometh not by 
the worthiness of the work, but by virtue of God's promise : ' His 
word doth good to them that walk uprightly/ Micah ii. 7. God hath 
made himself a debtor by his promise, and oweth us no thanks for what 
we can do ; it is only his gracious promise. 

Ans. 2. David speaketh not this to vaunt it above other men, but to 
commend obedience, and to encourage himself and invite others by 
remembering the fruits of it. There is a great deal of difference be 
tween carnal boasting and gracious observation. Carnal boasting is 
when we vaunt of our personal worth ; gracious observation is when, for 
God's glory and our profit, we observe the fruits of obedience, and the 
benefits it bringeth along with it. That God never gave us cause to 
leave, but to commend his service, and, by what we have found, to 
invite others to ' come and taste that the Lord is gracious.' 

Use 1. To encourage us in the ways of the Lord and keeping of 
his precepts. It is no unprofitable thing : before we have done we 
shall be able to say, ' This I had, because I kept thy precepts.' Two 
things God usually bestoweth upon his people a tolerable passage 
through the world, and a comfortable going out of the world ; which 
is all a Christian needeth to care for : here is only the place of his 
service, not of his rest. 

1. He shall have a tolerable passage through the world. A child 
of God may have a hard toilsome life of it, but he hath his mixtures 
of comfort in his deepest afflictions; he hath peace with God, that 
keeps his heart and mind, and maketh his passage through the world 
tolerable, because God is engaged with him : 1 Cor. x. 13, ' Faithful 
is he that hath called you, who will not suffer you to be tempted above 
what you are able to bear.' He is freed from wrath, and hath his 
discharge from the curse of the old covenant ; he is taken into favour 
with God, and hath as much of temporal relief as is necessary for 
him ; his condition is made comfortable to him. 

2. A comfortable passing out of the world : Isa. xxxviii. 3, ' Re 
member, Lord,' saith Hezekiah, ' I have walked before thee with an 
upright heart.' When you lie upon your death-beds, and in a dying 
hour, how comfortable will this be, the remembrance of a well-spent 
and well-employed life in God's service ! They that wonder at the 
zeal and niceness of God's children, when they are entering into the 
other world, they cry out then, Oh, that they had been more exact and 
watchful ! Oh, that they might die the death of the righteous ! They 
should live so. Men then have other notions of holiness than ever 
they had before. But, Christians, here is your comfort ; the word of 
God, that hath been your rule, is now your comfort and cordial, and 
stands by you to the very last. 

Use 2. To persuade us to observe the difference between the ways 
of God and the ways of sin. When a man cometh to cast up his 
account on the one side and on the other, oh what a difference is there I 
Certainly there will a time come when you must cast up your account 
and use this recollection, either when your eyes are opened by grace in 
conversion, or when your eyes are opened by punishment. On sin's 
side consider, when you look back to what is past (the Lord grant 
you may make this reflection !) Rom. vi. 21, ' What fruit had you in 

VER. 57.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 105 

those things whereof you are now ashamed ?' You cannot look back 
without horror of conscience ; as the unclean person, when he looketh 
back, and considereth that his flesh and body is consumed by sin, 
Prov. v. 11-13. He speaketh there of some noisome disease that 
hath gotten into his body. But then, on the other side, the side of 
godliness, ' This I had, because I kept thy precepts,' Oh ! what 
peace, what serenity of mind, what hopes of eternal life, what com 
fortable entertainment shall you have in heaven ! Determine before 
hand what it will come to. Thus you see the difference between a 
sinful and godly course. 


Thou art my portion, Lord : I have said that I would keep thy 
words. VER. 57. 

DAVID doth in this place make out his right and title, ' Thou art my 
portion, Lord,' &c. Here is 

1. David's protestation, thou art my portion, Lord. 

2. David's resolution, / have said that I would keep thy words. 

In the first of these, in David's protestation, you may take notice 
of his claim, and of the sincerity of it. 

1. Of his claim to God, ' Thou art my portion.' A part or portion, 
in the original use of the word, signifies a less quantity taken from a 
greater ; a part is used in opposition to the whole. But with respect 
to the matter in hand, it is not used in such a sense, but for our lot 
and happiness ; not sensu mathematico, not with reference to a whole, 
but politico etforensi, with respect to choice, interest, and possession ; 
and the allusion is taken either from the distribution of the land of 
Canaan, where every one had his portion appointed to him by lot, and 
measured to him by rod and lines : therefore it is said, ' The lines are 
fallen to me in pleasant places, yea, I have a goodly heritage ;' or else 
it is an allusion to the partage of an ordinary estate, where every 
child hath his portion assigned him to live upon. Thus he lays claim 
to God himself. 

2. The sincerity of this claim may be gathered, because he speaks 
by way of address to God. He doth not say barely, ' He is my por 
tion,' but challengeth God to his face, ' Lord, thou art my portion.' 
Elsewhere it is said, Lam. iii. 24, ' The Lord is my portion, saith my 
soul.' There he doth not speak it by way of address to God, but he 
adds, My soul saitb. But here to God himself, who knows the secrets 
of the heart. To speak thus of God to God argues our sincerity, when 
to God's face we avow our trust and choice ; as Peter, John xxi. 17, 
' Lord, thou knowest all things ; thou knowest that I love thee ;' he 
appeals to God's omnisciency ; such an appeal is there to God for the 
truth of this assertion ; as in that other place, when the believing soul 
lays claim to God, the integrity of that claim is also asserted, not only 
by the lips or mouth, but also the soul. There is oratio mentalis, 
vocalis, vitalis : there is the speech of the heart, in the real iuclina- 


tion of it ; and the speech of the tongue, in outward profession ; and 
the speech of the life, by answerable practice. All three must be 
joined together; what the tongue utters, the heart and life must 
consent to. All will say, God is their portion ; but it is not what the 
tongue says, but what the heart saith ; and what the heart saith will 
appear in the course of your actions ; there is the real proof and evi 
dence of it. Thus much for David's protestation, ' Thou art my 
portion, Lord ;' he speaks to God himself. 

Secondly, Take notice of David's resolution, ' I have said that I 
would keep thy word/ It is good to see what kind of inference the 
saints draw from this principle, that God is their portion. Sometimes 
they infer thence dependence upon God, sometimes subjection and 
obedience to him ; for this principle doth not only establish our com 
fort, but our duty. Sometimes to establish dependence : Lam. iii. 24, 
' The Lord is my portion, saith my soul ; therefore will I hope in him.' 
I will look for all from him, live upon him as a man doth upon his 
portion. But here David infers duty and obedience : ' I have said 
that I would keep thy words.' 

In this resolution we may observe 

1. The formality or manner of making, I have said ; it is by way 
of practical decree. 

2. The matter of it, / will keep thy ivords. 

1. For the formality or manner of it, ' I have said,' I decreed within 
myself, I have fully concluded ; here was not a light or inconsiderate 
purpose, but such as was deliberate, fixed, a practical decree upon a 
debate. Whoever would enter upon a strict course displeasing to 
flesh and blood, must seriously consider and then fixedly determine : 
deliberation and determination are both necessary. There must be 
consultation or deliberation, that he may sit down and count the 
charges ; otherwise, if profession of godliness be lightly taken up, it 
will be as lightly left. Then there must be determination, or binding 
the heart by firm purpose ; and if we join the next verse, supplication 
or begging God's strength, then all is done. Now this firm purpose I 
have said will help against inconstancy, or against backwardness or 
unreadiness of heart. Against inconstancy : Many good motions we 
start, but they die away for want of corning to a resolution, or 
issuing forth a practical decree for God : James i. 8, ' A double- 
minded man is unstable in all his ways/ But David, when he had 
considered all things, then ' I have said that I will keep thy words ;' 
he was fully resolved. Then it will help against laziness, listlessness, 
and backwardness of heart. David, when he was grown shy of God, 
and his heart hung off from him, some great distemper was upon his 
soul, and he was loath to look God in the face, what course did he 
take then ? He issues forth a practical decree : Ps. xxxii. 5, ' I said, 
I will confess my sins unto the Lord.' He thrusts himself forward, 
and charges himself to go to God : I am resolved I will break off 
silence, and open my case to God. Thus we must excite ourselves by 
renewing a decree in the^soul; determine, I will do thus and thus for 
God, whatever comes of it. 

2. For the matter, ' I will keep thy words/ Keeping God's word 
notes an exact and tender respect, when a man keeps it as a jewel, as 

VER/ 57.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 107 

a precious treasure, that it may not be hazarded ; or keeps it ' as the 
apple of his eye/ Prov. vii. 2. The eye is soon offended with the least 
dust ; BO when we are chary of the word of God, loath to offend God 
in anything, then are we said to keep his word. 
Two points lie clear in the text : 

1. That God alone is the godly man's portion. 

2. That those which have chosen God for their portion will manifest 
it by a fixed resolution and strict care of obedience. 

It must needs be so ; if God be his portion, his great business will 
be to keep in with him. 

Doct. 1. That God alone is the godly man's portion. 
This will appear by scripture and by reason. 

1. By scripture : Ps. xvi. 5, ' The Lord is the portion of mine in 
heritance and of my cup/ There is a double metaphor; first, an 
allusion to the shares of the land of Canaan, so God is the portion of 
mine inheritance, saith David ; and an allusion to the manner of a feast, 
where every man had his allowance of meat set by his cup : but snares 
and brimstone are said to be the portion of a wicked man's cup. As 
every man had his allowance set by his flagon of wine, especially in a 
solemn feast, so God is the portion of my cup. So Ps. Ixxiii. 26, ' The 
Lord is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever, when my 
flesh and my heart faileth,' that is, when my body yields to the decay of 
nature ; yea, when all our courage seems to be lost, borne down by diffi 
culties that we endure in the flesh, God is a portion that will never fail. 

2. To give some reasons of it. It will appear to be so 

tl.l By considering what is requisite to a man's portion. 
2.J Why a godly man looks upon God under this notion. 
First, If a man were left to his free choice, what he would choose 
to take for his portion ; not what is his portion in his strait, when he 
can have no better, but if he were left to his free choice : 

1. He would require that it be something good, or apprehended to 
be so. 

2. That it be something to which he hath a title and interest, to 
which he can lay claim, or is in possession or expectation of according 
to right. 

3. He would choose that which is suitable to the capacities, neces 
sities, and desires of him whose portion it is. 

4. That it be sufficient to supply all his wants, so as he may live 
upon it. 

5. That it be such a thing wherein he may find satisfaction and 
acquiescence, so that he needs seek no more and ask no more. 

6. Such a thing wherein he may take complacency and great delight, 
where he may be well pleased and rejoiced. 

Now, all these things are to be found in God, and with good reason 
the saints make this choice, and say, ' Thou art my portion, Lord.' 

[1.] That which is to be chosen for our portion must be good : 
' There is none good but one, and that is God,' Mat. xix. 17. It is 
Christ's own proposition : he is good of himself, good in himself, yea, 
good itself. There is no good above him, besides him, or beyond him. 
But if anything else be good, it is either from him or with him. But 
that I may more distinctly speak to this 


(1.) God is primitively and originally good; the creature is but 
derivatively good. He is good of himself, which nothing else is, the 
fountain-good, and therefore is called 'the fountain of living waters,' 
Jer. ii. 13. The creatures are hut dry pits or broken cisterns. Other 
things, what good they have it is of him. God must needs be infinitely 
better and greater than they, for all things which are good they have 
from God. 

(2.) God is the chiefest good, and other things are only good in 
subordination. All creature goodness is but a stricture of that perfect 
good which is in God ; and therefore, if we find any good in them, 
that should lead us to the greater good, even to the Creator. Who 
would leave the substance to follow the shadow ? or desire the picture 
to the dishonour and neglect of the person whom it represents ? Cer 
tainly so they do that run after the creature and neglect God, that 
seek happiness in sublunary enjoyments, to the wrong arid neglect of 
God. That small good which the creatures have is not to hold us on 
to them, but to lead us to him, as the streams will direct us to the 
fountain, and the steps of the ladder are not to stand still upon, but to 
ascend higher. If your affections be detained in the creature, you set 
the creature in God's stead ; you pervert it from its natural use, which 
is to set forth the invisible things of God, his excellency, his goodness, 
his godhead, and his power to do you good, and to send you to him 
that made them. But how usually doth that which should carry us 
to God divert and detain us from him ! If a prince should woo a 
virgin by a messenger, and she should leave him, and cleave to the 
messenger, and those he sent as spokesmen and servants, this were an 
extreme folly. By the beauty and sweetness of the creatures, God's 
end is to draw us to himself as the ohiefest good ; for that which we 
love in other things is but a shadow and an obscure resemblance of 
that which is in him. There is sweetness in the creature, mixed with 
imperfection ; the sweetness is to draw us to God, but the imperfec 
tion is to drive us from setting our hearts on them. There is some 
what good in them : look up to the Creator ; but there is vanity and 
vexation of spirit, and this is to drive us off from these sublunary 

(3.) He is infinitely good. In this portion one hath not the less 
because another enjoys it with him. Here is a sharing without division, 
a partaking without prejudice of a co-partner, for every man hath his 
portion whole and entire ; it is no less to us because others enjoy it 
too. We straiten others in worldly things so much as we are enlarged 
ourselves ; for these things are finite, and cannot be divided but they 
must be lessened, and therefore are not large enough. But this good 
is infinite, and sufficeth the whole world, and every one possesseth it 
entire ; as the same speech may be heard of all, yet no man heareth 
less because another heareth it with him ; or as the same sun shines 
upon all ; I have not the less light because it shines upon another as 
well as me. So God is all in all. If there be any difference, the more 
we possess him the better ; as in a choir of voices, every one is not 
only solaced with his own voice, but with the harmony of those that 
sing in concert with him. Worldly inheritance is lessened by a mul 
titude of co-heirs. In outward estates many a fair stream is drawn 

. 57.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 109 

dry or runs low by being parted and dispersed in several channels ; 
but God, that is infinite; cannot be lessened. 

(4.) He is an eternal good, and so the most durable portion : ' Ho 
is my portion for ever,' Pa Ixxiii. 26. The good things of this life 
are but like flowers ; they be for a season and then they wither, they 
are perishing and of a short continuance ; we carry away nothing of it 
in our hands when we go to the grave. When we leave all other 
portions and inheritances, then we begin, to take possession of this por 
tion ; yea, at that time when men see the vanity of making other 
things their portion, a child of God sees the happiness of his portion 
at death. Death blows away all vain deceits ; then carnal men begin 
to perceive their error. When their portion comes to be taken away 
from them, then what indignation have they upon themselves for the 
folly of their choice, how the world hath deceived them ! A godly 
man hath the beginning here, then he comes to have a consummate 
and most perfect enjoyment of it. Death cannot separate us from our 
portion. Indeed it separates us from all things that withhold us from 
it, but it is a means to perfect our union with God, and make way for 
our full fruition of him. Well, then, if this be that which is required 
in a portion, that it be good, there is none good but God ; he is 
originally, independently, chiefly, infinitely, and eternally good, and 
therefore there is reason why we should choose God for our portion. 

[2.] That a thing be our portion, it is necessary that we have an 
interest in it and title to it ; not only that it be good, but that we may 
claim it as ours ; for that is that which sweeteneth everything to us, 
that it is ours to use. Now God is not only good, but he is also ours ; 
he makes over himself to us in covenant, Gen. xvii. ; therefore we may 
lay claim to him, as a man to his patrimony or inheritance to which he 
is born, and say, Lord, thou art mine : Zech. xiii. 9, ' I will say, It is 
my people, and they shall say, The Lord is my God.' As God owns 
an interest in them, so they own him : He is my God ; ' I will be thy 
God ; ' so saith God in the covenant. It is more than if God had said, 
I will be thy friend, thy father ; these are notions of a limited sense. 
But ' I will be thy God/ that hath an infinite importance, a greater 
weight and efficacy in that expression : ' I will be thy God,' that is, I 
will do thee good in the way of infinite and eternal power. And that 
is the reason why Christ proves the resurrection from thence : Mat. 
xxii. 32, ' I am the God of Abraham/ &c. ; for to be a God to any is 
to be a benefactor to them, and a benefactor becoming an infinite and 
eternal power. Therefore certainly it assures us of greater things 
thau this life affords, something becoming a God to give. If God be 
Abraham's God, a God to his whole person (his soul is not Abraham), 
then it strongly proves the resurrection of the body ; then Abraham, 
both body and soul, must have a happiness greater than this life can 
afford. Hence that expression of the apostle, Heb. xi. 16, 'God is 
not ashamed to be called their God.' These words seem as if they 
did express God's condescension, as if he would be called the God of a 
few patriarchs. No ; the meaning of the words is this, in regard of 
the slenderness of their present condition, God could not with honour. 
What ! be a God to Jacob, and suffer him to have such a wandering 
life ? He might be ashamed to be their God if he had not better 


things to bestow upon them, ' But he hath provided for them a 
heavenly kingdom. Not only given them that which they enjoyed in 
houses, their flocks and herds, which were multiplied; these ^ were 
slender things to take up the whole significancy of that expression, I 
will be their God. But now God is not ashamed to be called their 
God ; that is, God can with honour and without shame take that title 
upon him, for he hath everlasting happiness in the world to come to 
bestow upon them. Thus whatever God is, hath, or can do, it is thine. 
Look, as the apostle saith, Heb. vi., that ' when God had no greater 
thing to swear by, he swore by himself,' so we may say, when he had 
no greater thing to bestow upon his people, he gives and bestows him 
self, as fully and wholly makes over himself to every believing soul, so 
that they have as full a plea and sure right to God as any man hath to 
his patrimony to which he was born. I will act answerably, becoming 
an infinite power and goodness, for thy good. This is the significancy 
of that ample and glorious expression which God useth in the covenant 
of grace. As when a covenant was made between the king of Israel 
and the king of Judah, the tenor of it was, ' My horses are as thy 
horses, my strength as thy strength,' 1 Kings xxii. 4. So whatever is 
God's is ours for our benefit, and what is ours is God's for his service. 
Mark, God not only saith, I will be yours, but, be a God, that is, I 
will act like a God. In pardon of sin : Hosea xi. 9, c I will not return 
to destroy Ephraim ; for I am God and not man.' He will not 
pardon as a man, but, as a God. Man's patience is soon spent and 
soon tired. What ! seven times a day forgive my brother ? But he 
will pardon as a God. And so, when he sanctifies, he will sanctify 
as a God : 2 Peter i. 3, ' By his divine power he hath given unto us 
all things that pertain unto life and godliness.' And so in defence 
and maintenance, which is part of the covenant : I will feed, maintain, 
protect thee as a God ; that is, not as one that is to be limited in 
the course of second causes. When he pleases he can give us water, 
not only out of the fountain, but out of the rock ; when there is 
nothing visible to supply and maintain you, then, I will be a God; 
then he will glorify us like a God, like an infinite and eternal power. 
For as God is an infinite God, so he gives us a far more exceeding 
weight of glory ; and as an eternal God, he gives us an eternal weight 
of glory, 2 Cor. iv. 17. The glory he bestows upon us suits with the 
infiniteness and eternity of his essence. As it is said of Araunah, that 
was of the royal extraction of the Jebusites, ' He gave like a king to a 
king,' worthy of his blood and descent ; he had a generous mind : so 
God will give like a God ; therefore, he not only saith, I will be thine, 
but, be thy God. You think it much when you view a large compass, 
and can look abroad and say, All this is mine ; but one that hath chosen 
God for his portion hath much more to say : God is mine. 

[3.] That which a man would make his portion if he were free to 
choose, it should be a proper and suitable good, our own good. The 
heart of man aims at not only bonum, good in common, but also 
bonum congruum, a suitable fitting good. Every element moveth to 
its own place, and every living creature desires food proper to itself. 
So man is not only carried to good, but good that suits to his capapity 
and necessity. The soul, being a spirit, must have a spiritual good. 


Indeed, as it acts in .the body, and accommodates itself with the 
necessities of the body, and seeks the good of the body, so it may be 
carried out to honours, pleasures, and profits, for these are the con 
veniences of the bodily life : but as it is a spirit, and can live apart 
from the body, it must have something above these, a spiritual object ; 
and as it is immortal, it must have an immortal good. Now, for a 
spiritual immortal good do we grope and feel about until we find it, 
and then there is a great deal of satisfaction : Acts xvii. 27, ' That 
they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and 
find him/ So we are groping and feeling about, as the blind Sodom 
ites did for Lot's door, for some good that may suit the capacity of 
our souls : we were made for God, and therefore cannot have full 
contentment without God. But I speak not now of man as man, but 
suppose him to have a new nature put into him, that carries him after 
satisfaction : ' We are made partakers of the divine nature,' 2 Peter 
i. 4. It is called so because it comes from God and tends to him. 
Now, there must be something suitable to this nature. Pleasure is 
when those things are enjoyed that suit with us, when the object and 
the faculty are suited. When every appetite hath a fit diet to feed upon, 
then a marvellous deal of pleasure and contentment results from 
thence : Rom. 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.' All things seek a suitable good. Now, they that are after 
the spirit, that have a new spiritual divine nature put into them, 
renewed souls, they must have an object proper, and therefore must 
have something above the concernments of the body, and above the 
fleshly nature ; for everything delights in that which is suitable, as a 
fish in the stream, and an ox to lick up the grass ; and man must 
have a suitable good as a rational being ; but as a spiritual being, 
must have another good. Grace restores us to the inclinations of 
nature when it was innocent ; therefore the soul, that came from God, 
must centre in God, and it cannot be quiet without him. 

[4.] That which a man would make his portion, it must be sufficient 
to supply all his wants, that he may have enough to live upon. Now, 
saith the Lord, ' I am God all-sufficient,' Gen. xvii. 1 ; sufficient for 
the necessities of this life, and that which is to come. He is the 
fountain of all blessings, spiritual, temporal, eternal ; not only their 
power for ever, but their portion for ever, satisfied with him now and 
in the life to come: Ps. cxlii. 5, ' Thou art my portion, Lord, in 
the land of the living.' They expect all from him ; not only peace 
and righteousness, grace and glory, but food, maintenance, defence, to 
bear them out in his work. The creature is but God's instrument, or 
as an empty pipe, unless God flow in by it. If God help them not, 
the creature cannot help them. These are streams that have water 
only so long as the spring fills them. Well, then, here is a portion 
that is every way sufficient. All other portions are accompanied with 
a want, but this alone sufficeth all Some things give health, wealth, 
but not peace ; some things give peace, but not honour. But God is 
all to us health, wealth, peace, honour, grace, and glory : 'All things 
are yours, because you are Christ's, and Christ is God's,' so runs the 
Christian charter ; there is ornne bonum in summo bono all things 


in the chiefest good. So Kev. xxi. 7, ' He that overcometh shall in 
herit all things ' How so ? ' For I will be his God.' He that hath 
God hath him that hath power and command of all things, and there 
fore shall inherit all things, ' For I will be his God.' And that is the 
reason of the apostle's riddle, 2 Cor. vi. 10, 'As having nothing, yet 
possessing all things ;' that is, all things in God, when they have 
nothing in the creature. Many times they are kept bare and low, but 
God carries the purse for them ; all things are at his dispose ; and we 
are kept more bare and low that we may be sensible of the strange 
supplies of his providence. Alas ! without him in the midst of our 
sufficiencies we may be in straits. 

[5.] That a man would choose that for his portion wherein he may 
be contented, satisfied, and sit down as having enough. Now this is 
only in God. When we choose other things for our portion, still our 
sore runs upon us ; there are some crannies and vacuities of soul that 
are to be filled up ; if we could satisfy our affections, we cannot satisfy 
our consciences ; nothing can content the desires of the soul but God 
himself ; other things may busy us, and vex us, but cannot satisfy us : 
' All things are vanity and vexation of spirit.' If a man would make 
a critical search, as Solomon did ; he set himself to see what pleasures 
and honours would do to content the heart of man, and what riches 
and learning would do ; he had a large estate and heart, and so was 
in a capacity to try all things, to see if he could extract satisfaction 
from them ; yet he concludes, ' All is vanity and vexation of spirit.' 
Whosoever will follow this course will come home with disappoint 
ment. But in this portion there is contentment ; we need no more but 
God, and there is nothing besides him worth our desire. Necessities 
that are not supplied by him are but fancies ; it is want of grace if 
we want anything else when we have God for our portion : Ps. xvii. 
14, ' From the men of the world, which have their portion in this life, 
and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure.' A carnal man's 
happiness is patched up with a great many creatures ; they must have 
dainty fare, costly apparel, this and that, and still their sore runs 
upon them ; they have a fulness of all things, and yet they are not 
filled. But now, saith David, ver. 15, 'As for me, I will behold thy 
face in righteousness ; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy 
likeness.' Though God do not make out himself in that latitude and 
fulness as he will hereafter, yet at present to have communion with 
God is enough : ' I shall be filled.' There are some desires that are 
working after God, but they will be filled hereafter. It is true we 
are not now perfect, but that is no fault of our portion, but the defect 
of our capacity. Though we have not that fulness that we shall 
have hereafter, yet we have it initially. Here we have the first-fruits, 
have it virtually, hope and look for it ; there is something begun in 
the soul that will increase towards this satisfaction. Certainly this is 
a portion that can alone be possessed with content. God is satisfied 
with himself and sufficient to his own happiness, therefore surely 
there is enough in him to fill the creature. That which fills an ocean 
will fill a bucket ; that which will fill a gallon will fill a pint ; those 
revenues that will defray an emperor's expenses are enough for a 
beggar or poor man. So, when the Lord himself is satisfied with 

VER. 57.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 113 

himself, and it is his happiness to enjoy himself, there needs no more; 
there is enough in God to satisfy. If our desires run out after other 
things, they are desires not to be satisfied, but to be mortified. If we 
hunger after other contentments, they are like feverish desires, not to 
be satisfied, but to be abated in the soul ; for he that fills all things 
hath enough to fill up our hearts. 

[6.] Complacency and delight. That which a man would take 
pleasure in, there where he may have abundant matter of rejoicing 
and delight, this a man would choose for his portion. Now in God 
he hath the truest and sincerest delight. This is matter of rejoicing ; 
as David saith, Ps. xvi. 5, 6, ' The Lord is my portion.' What then ? 
* I have a goodly heritage.' Here is that which will revive and refresh 
my heart enough. There is no rejoicing that is sincere but this. As 
the discomforts of the new creature are more real than all other dis 
comforts, and pierce deeper ' a wounded spirit who can bear ? ' so 
the joys of the new creature, none go so deep : Ps. iv. 6, ' Thou hast 
put more gladness into my heart,' &c. Others do but tickle the senses, 
a little refresh the outward man, please the more brutish part, but 
this the heart. And this is such a joy as can be better felt than 
uttered : 2 Peter i. 8, it is ' unspeakable,' and none can know the 
strength and sweetness of it till it be felt : 'a stranger ' cannot con 
ceive it, ' doth not intermeddle with his joy,' Prov. xiv. 10. One 
drop of this is more than an ocean of carnal pleasure. When we 
have other things without God, we can never be serious. Take the 
merriest blades in the world, and dig them to the bottom ; still there 
is something of sadness and remorse that doth sour all their content : 
conscience is secretly repining, and ready to embitter their joy. 
Though men strive to bear it down, yet it is ever returning upon 
them ; therefore they cannot be truly cheerful. The most jolly 
sinners have their pangs that take off the edge of their bravery. 
Carnal rejoicing makes a great noise, like thorns under a pot, but it is 
but a blaze and gone. But this is a solid joy and comfort, wherewith 
a man may look death in the face with cheerfulness, and think of the 
world to come and not be sad. Alas ! a little thing puts the merriest 
sinner into the stocks of conscience. He that makes it his business to 
add one pleasure to another, and spend his days in vanity, how soon 
is his mirth removed ! Therefore, if a man would choose a portion to 
have joy at the highest rate, he should choose God for his portion. 

Secondly, How comes a godly man to look upon God under this 
notion, that no less will content him but God himself? Why, he hath 
another apprehension, and another manner of heart to close with him, 
than carnal men ; his understanding is enlightened, and his heart in 
clined by grace. 

1. He sees more into the worth of spiritual and heavenly things. 
He hath faith, which is the evidence of things not seen, of things that 
do not lie under the judgment of sense and present reason ; he can spy 
things under a veil, and his eyes are opened to see * what is the riches 
of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,' Eph. i. 17, 18 ; and there 
fore he is convinced of the fulness and sufficiency that is in God, and 
the emptiness and straitness that is in the creature ; God hath given 
him counsel, his reins instruct him, Pa xvi. 7. All by nature are 



blind, ignorant, apt to dote upon the creature ; but by grace their eyes 
are opened, that they have another manner of discerning, that they do 
not see things only by discourse, but their hearts are affected. Others 
may discourse, but they have not this divine light and spiritual under 
standing, by which spiritual things may be discerned ; as matters of 
opinion they may, but not as matters of choice. A carnal man may 
argue out with reason the worth and excellency of God, but he hath not 
a refined apprehension and persuasive counsel, which is in God's people. 

2. Their hearts are inclined to choose him for their portion. They 
do not only see an alluring worth in the object, but there is an attract 
ing virtue, by which the heart is drawn unto God - : John vi. 44, ' No 
man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw 
him.' The great article of the covenant of grace is to take God for 
our God. Now all the articles of the new covenant are not only pre 
cepts but promises. The conditions of the covenant are conditions in 
the covenant ; God gives what he requires. And therefore, as the 
great article of the covenant is to take God for our God, so the great 
blessing of the covenant is to have a new heart, or a new placing of 
our desires and affections. Sin lieth in a conversion from God to the 
creature ; grace, in turning us to God again. The change is mainly 
seen in fixing our chiefest good and our last end. God gives his people 
a heart to close with him, and accept of him as their portion, to fix 
upon him as their chiefest good and their last end. 

Use 1. To reprove them that do not take God for their portion. 
Godly men must have God himself ; they prefer him above all, and 
saving grace above other benefits, Ps. iv. 6, 7. There is the disposi 
tions of the godly and the carnal. ' The many say, Who will show us 
any good ? ' But, ' Lord, lift up the light of thy countenance upon us/ 
A carnal man is for good in common, any good, but not for the light 
of God's countenance ; nothing will satisfy the saints but the light of 
God's countenance ; they prefer him above his gifts, and among his 
gifts they prefer saving graces and renewing mercies, such as begin, 
and confirm them in their union with God in Christ. But carnal men 
go no further than the world ; they choose not God, but his gifts ; and 
among these not the best, but the common sort, such as suit with the 
appetite of the fleshly nature, and the more brutish part of these 
riches, pleasures, and honours ; and these too, not as coming from God, 
but as coming to them by chance. They not only say good in general, 
but ' who will show me/ &c. As they look after uncertain blessings, 
so they look after an uncertain author, as they fall out in the course of 
second causes. If they have these, they bless their hearts, and content 
themselves. To convince these men of the baseness of their choice, 
and make them bethink themselves, their choice is part of their punish 
ment. There cannot be a greater punishment than that they should 
have what they choose, that they should be written in the earth, Jer. 
xvii. 13 ; they shall have this and no more ; that God should say to 
them, Silver and gold you shall have, but ' in this matter no lot nor 
portion,' Acts viii. Their bellies shall be filled with hid treasure, they 
shall have gorgeous apparel, dainty fare, substance enough to leave to 
their babes, but be deprived of heaven. It is the greatest misery that 
can be, to be condemned to this kind of happiness ; that we should thua 

VER. 57.] SERMONS UPOX PSALM cxix. 115 

degrade ourselves, and sit upon the threshold when they might sit 
upon the throne, and lick only the dust of his footstool. But wicked 
men will not be sensible of this now, but one day they shall, of the 
misery of this their foolish choice ; at death usually : Jer. xvii. 11, 
' At his latter end he shall be a fool.' Then his heart will rave against 
him : fool, madman I that thou wert not as careful to get the favour 
of God, as to get this worldly pelf ! when he must go into another 
world, and he is launching out into the great gulf of eternity. And 
in hell they will be sensible : Luke xvi. 25, ' Son, remember that thou 
in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things,' &c. The conscience of their 
foolish choice is a part of their torment, when their heart shall return 
upon them and say, This was because thou wouldst look after temporal 
things ; when snares, and brimstone, and a horrible tempest is poured 
out upon them. What thoughts have they of their portion when they 
are cast out with the devil and damned spirits ! Carnal men think 
the difference between them and others will ever hold out when they 
glitter in the world. Oh, but the time is coming when death will 
undeceive them ! And at the day of judgment they will be sensible 
of it, when they shall be refused as the outcasts of the world, and when 
the saints shall have their portion, when the Lord shall take the godly 
to himself, receive them into his bosom, and welcome them to heaven, 
and call them to his right hand ; and they shall be banished out of his 
presence with a ' Go, ye cursed ;' when they shall become the loathing 
of God, the scorn of angels and blessed spirits ; when it shall be said, 
as in Ps. lii. 7, ' Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength, 
but trusted in. the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself 
in his wickedness.' Oh, then, how will conscience return upon the 
wretchedness and folly of their hearts, and be exercised upon it ! This 
will vex and gall them in hell, with anxious thoughts of it to all 
eternity. As by the fire that never shall be quenched is signified the 
wrath of God, so by the worm that never dies the violent working of 
conscience upon the folly of choosing perishing vanities. 

Use 2. It exhorts us to this necessary duty, to choose God for our 
portion. It is not a slight thing, but that upon which your eternal 
happiness doth depend ; it is the fundamental article of the covenant 
of grace : and the question God puts you to is, whether you will choose 
him for your portion ? therefore he begins the commandments with 
this, ' Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' God is not your 
God unless he be set uppermost in your souls ; he cannot be your 
portion unless he be your chiefest good. There is no possibility of 
entering into covenant with God unless you subscribe to this main 
article. Again, as it is a very necessary work, so it is an evidence and 
fruit of God's election ; if a man would come to know the thoughts of 
God concerning him before all the world, what his destiny is. God's 
election or choosing of you is manifested by your election or your 
choosing of God, for all God's works leave an impression upon the 
creature. He chooseth us that we might choose him : ' I will say, You 
are my people, and you shall say, I am your God.' Again, you must 
have something for your portion. There is no man hath a sufficiency 
in himself. The soul is like a sponge, always thirsting, and seeking 
of something from without to be filled a chaos of desires. Man was 


made to live in dependence. Now, of all portions in the world, there 
is none worth the having but God himself ; nothing else can make you 
completely blessed, and satisfy all the necessities and all the capacities 
of soul and body. When you have outward things, what have you for 
your conscience ? If these things could fill up your affections, they bear 
no proportion with conscience ; your sore will run upon you, and your 
inward griefs will not be cured. But this is such a portion, that 
besides internal grace, there shall be a competent measure of outward 
things. God will provide for you : Ps. xxiii. 1, ' The Lord is my 
shepherd.' What then ? ' I shall not want/ This interest will give 
you temporal things and the comforts of this life, so that you have the 
fountain of all other mercies. While others do but drink of the streams, 
and of streams where they are muddy, where they partake of the soil 
through which they run, you go to the clear fountain. Alas ! others 
do but pluck the leaves and flowers, but you have the fruits and very 
root itself, the perpetual fountain and well-spring of comfort, and root 
of all the blessedness the heart can wish for. Again, all other com 
forts grow upon this interest, and when all other things are lost, this 
can supply you again. All worldly things, when we have them, 
yet they have not a root ; but you have the root, so that when other 
things fail, this will yield you all manner of supplies. Yea, this is that 
which seasons and makes all other things comfortable, when we have 
them and the love of God with them. This man of God had a king 
dom and a great deal of wealth ; he was a victorious king, as we may 
see by his offering, 1 Chron. xxix., what cart-loads of gold and silver he 
offers to God : yet in the midst of all this fulness he saith, ' Thou art 
my portion.' Other portions may turn to a man's hurt, as they are 
occasions of sin, as they expose to envy and danger. Many a man is 
undone both here and hereafter by making the creature his portion ; 
but never any man was undone by making God his portion. It was 
the end of our creation. God, passing by all other creatures, set his 
heart upon man. He made all things for man, and man for himself. 
All other things were either subject to our dominion, or created for our 
use ; but man was made immediately for God, for the enjoyment of 
God ; made for himself, and for none else besides himself. We should 
have no rest in ourselves until we come to the enjoyment of God. God 
was not refreshed from his work, he rested not until he made man ; 
therefore man should not rest until he comes to God. God takes us 
for his portion, and therefore you should take God for your portion : 
Deut. xxxii. 9, ' For the Lord's portion is his people ;' Zech. ii. 12, 
4 And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and 
shall choose Jerusalem again/ If God shall choose a company of men 
to be his portion, certainly it becomes them again to choose him. God is 
willing to communicate his goodness, therefore why should we be satis 
fied with other things ? He reasons with us, is angry that we will run 
to other things. Why will you lay out your time and strength in that 
which will not satisfy you ? Isa. Iv. 2. He doth invite you to come 
and choose him. He complains, and takes it grievously when he offers 
himself in the gospel : Ps. Ixxxi. 11, ' Israel would none of me.' Oh ! 
shall the God that made us thus passionately offer himself to us, and shall 
he be refused? Let this persuade you to choose God for your portion. 

YER. 57.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 117 

Use 3. For trial. Have you chosen God for your portion ? This 
will be seen 

1. By your endeavours to get anything of God into your hearts. 
No man seeketh after God ; there is the great complaint. If you did 
choose God, you would pursue all ways and means that you might 
gain him, and count all things but dung for Christ, as the apostle 
doth; then nothing would detain you from him, you would not be 
satisfied : Oh ! I must have God ; and God would be followed after : 
Ps. Lxxiii. 25, ' Whom have I in heaven but thee ? ' 

2. By your prayers. What do you pray for ? When you come to 
God, what do your hearts run upon ? what do you seek for from God? 
Is it God himself ? To seek to God and not for God is but a carnal 
design upon God : Hosea vii. 14, ' They howl upon their beds for corn, 
and wine, and oil.' They are but brutish desires, that terminate in 
other things, that are carried out more after them than God's favour 
and grace ; therefore his favour must be sought in the first place. 

3. By your behaviour under trouble when other things fail : Lam. 
iii. 24, ' The Lord is my portion, saith my soul ; therefore I will hope 
in him.' When they were driven from their other portions (for that 
is spoken of), when all manner of calamities did befall them, and they 
were cast out, and their inheritance turned to strangers, then, ' Lord, 
thou art our portion/ When you have nothing left but God, can you 
live upon God ? and can he be all in all to you ? 1 Sam. xxx. 6, ' David 
encouraged himself in the Lord his God.' When the Amalekites car 
ried away all, yet this was his comfort, God was left still. And so 
Hab. iii. 18, ' When the labour of the olive shall fail,' &c. What 
then ? ' Then I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.' When you 
can count yourself happy enough in God, Deus meus et omnia if I 
have God, I have all ; then you have chosen God for your portion. 

4. By your delight in God : Ps. xxxvii. 4, ' Delight thyself in the 
Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.' When this 
is the great rejoicing of your souls, that you can get but one beam of 
God's love and his favour darted upon your consciences, this is that 
which revives more than all other temporal things whatever. 

5. In mourning for his absence ; if your God be gone, that is the 
grief of your souls. God can supply the want of the creature, but no 
creature can supply the want of God ; therefore it is ground of trouble 
if he hide his face. This lamenting and mourning after a withdrawn 
God is frequently spoken of in scripture. But the great evidence lies 
in the words, ' Thou art my portion, Lord ! ' What then ? ' I have 
said, that I would keep thy words.' Hence observe 

Doct. 2. Those which have chosen God for their portion will mani 
fest it by a fixed resolution and strict care of obedience. 

They are loath to break with God, rather break with anything else. 
It must needs be so, because 

1. Holiness is a means of maintaining communion between us and 
God, and keeping up an interest in him as our only happiness : 1 John 
i. 6, 7, ' If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship 
one with another : but if we walk in darkness, and say we have fellow 
ship with him, we lie, and do not the truth.' Unless there be a care 
to please him, certainly you do not choose him for your portion ; for 


if all your comfort and happiness lies in God, all your diligence and 
care Will be to please God. God was the portion of the Levites, it is 
said, because they ministered before him, Num. xviii. 20. So it is true 
of the spiritual Levites, they that are careful to walk with God, minis 
ter before him, and keep close with him ; God will be their portion. 
All sincere Christians are purified as the sons of Levi. 

2. Because this is the only evidence. They that love God will love 
his word, and if they love it they will live by it, and square their 
actions accordingly. By careless walking you blot your evidences, and 
so weaken your comfort. 

3. Because God is your portion, therefore it should encourage us to 
keep his word: Gen. xvii. 1, ' I am God all-sufficient ; walk before me 
and be thou perfect.' If we have an all-sufficient portion, all our busi 
ness should be to keep in with God. All warping comes from doubting 
of God's all-sufficiency, as if God alone were not enough for us. Carnal 
fear, love, hope, doth draw us off from God to the creature, we are 
afraid to lose worldly enjoyments, so break with God. Therefore, if 
we look upon God as all-sufficient, it will necessarily follow we should 
encourage ourselves to serve him. 

4. If we do not keep his word, our lusts will carry us forth else 
where. There are certain corrupt principles within you will draw you 
off from God to another portion : Ezek. xiv. 5, ' They are all estranged 
from me through their idols.' What kind of idols were these ? Idols 
of wood and stone ? No ; the prophet explains them, ' They have set 
up their idols in their heart,' ver. 3. Christians, a man may be an, 
idolater in opinion, and grossly, when he worships stocks and stones ; 
and he may be an idolater spiritually and in practice. And which is 
most incurable of these two, think you ? Certainly the spiritual idol 
ater. A man may easily be convinced of his false worship by reason 
and argument, what a brutish thing it is to worship stocks and stones, 
things that have no life, nor can help him ; but he cannot be convinced 
of his spiritual idolatry, or cured of that but by grace. Covetousness 
is idolatry, because it draws off our love, fear, trust, from God and 
his service, to riches, and so proves a snare to the soul. Idolatry in 
our affections is more dangerous than gross idolatry in our opinions 
and outward worship, when our affections carry us out to another good. 

5. Again, out of gratitude, when God doth all for us, can we deny 
him anything ? Dost thou love God as the chief est good, and wilt 
not thou fear to offend him ? Whoever chooseth God for his portion 
will have David's disposition, ' I have said I will keep thy words ;' he 
will be exact and punctual to keep in with God. 


I entreated thy favour with my wliole heart : be merciful unto me 
according to thy word. VER. 58. 

IN the former verse I took notice of two parts David's protestation, 
' Thou art my portion ; ' and his resolution, ' I will keep thy words.' 

VER. 58.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 119 

To either of the branches this verse may be supposed to have respect. 
To the former thus, as a second evidence : if we make God our por 
tion, this will necessarily follow, we shall desire his favour ahove all 
things else. Our portion is that good which we choose, renouncing all 
things else ; therefore, when our hearts are set upon it, ' Whom have 
I in heaven but thee ? ' Ps. Ixxiii. 25. When you entreat his favour 
with your whole heart, that is the evidence God is your portion. Or 
you may refer it to the latter clause thus, ' I said I will keep thy words,' 
therefore I entreat thy favour. We cannot carry on a good purpose 
without God's favour, unless he assist us therein. When we are most 
resolved, we must expect opposition and assaults both from within and 
without. The devil will seek all he can to oppose you, and to shake 
your resolutions, and your lusts will rage anew upon a severe re 
straint. Therefore those that resolve to enter into a strict course must 
seek relief from God's favour and mercy, as David here, ' I entreated 
thy favour with my whole heart.' In the words we have an account 
of David's practice upon a choice and resolution ; he betook himself 
to prayer. 

Here you have 

1. The object or principal thing sought, Gods favour. 

2. The manner, with my whole heart, with a sincere affection. He 
doth not say, with his lips only, but his heart ; and not with his heart 
only, but with his whole heart. 

3. The sum of his request, or the fountain of all that he expected 
from God, be merciful to me. 

4. The rule or ground of his expectation, according to thy word. 
The meaning is, that God, according to his promise, would graciously 
help him. 

First, For the first, ' I entreated thy favour ;' or, as it is in the Hebrew, 
' I painfully sought thy face ; ' meaning that he did with importunate 
and humble suit beg the smile of God's countenance. By face is 
'meant favour : Prov. xxix. 26, many seek the ruler's favour ; ' it is, the 
ruler's face, that he may look cheerfully upon them : and I painfully 
sought, so the word signifies ; it notes such importunity as is neces 
sary for so great a blessing. The note is this 

Doct. God's people, those that have made him their portion, they 
earnestly and constantly, above all things, desire his favour. 

1. This God calls for: Ps. cv. 4, ' Seek the Lord, seek his face ever 
more.' None have such communion with God but they need seek 
more : Ps. xxvii. 8, ' Thou saidst, Seek my face ; thy face, Lord, will 
I seek.' ' Thou saidst ; ' it is that which God speaks in all his ordi 
nances ; the whole drift of the word is to press us to get and keep the 
sense of God's love ever fresh in our hearts. 

2. The nature of the saints carries them to it. This is the diffe 
rence between them and carnal men, Ps. iv. 6, 7. The Iteht of his 
countenance is spoken of either with allusion to the sun, whose light 
displayed cheers the plants ; or with allusion to the smiles of a friend. 
Ore good look from God the children of God prefer above all the world. 
All earthly things cannot please them so much as a smile from God, 
nor put such gladness in their hearts. But more especially do they 
seek it most painfully 


[1.] When they have never as yet attained any sense of it, but lie 
under doubts, fears, and anxious uncertainty; then, if God will but look 
upon them, make out his love to their consciences, what a comfort will 
that be to them ! A man may want assurance and have grace, but he 
cannot slight assurance and have grace. He that is without it may be 
one of God's children, but he that doth not look after it, and is satisfied 
without it, certainly is none of that number. Therefore this is the de 
sire and earnest prayer of all God's people in common, that God would 
cause his face to shine upon them : Ps. Ixxx. 1, ' Thou that dwellest 
between the cherubims, shine forth ;' that is, that sittest upon the mercy- 
seat. Oh, that he would be good to them in Christ ! for between the 
cherubims there was the mercy-seat, where God sat. The meaning is, 
that he would a little dart in beams of comfort to their consciences. 

[2.] They thus painfully entreat the favour of God when they have 
lost it by sin ; for then they are afflicted with a double evil want of 
so great a comfort, and a sense of their own folly. A sense of God's 
favour may be withheld out of mere sovereignty, yet even then God's 
children will be earnest ; but when it is withdrawn out of justice, as 
a correction for our folly and careless walking, there is greater cause 
of earnestness, that we may redeem and recover our loss again ; then 
we are to be more earnest : ' Turn us again, Lord God of hosts, and 
cause thine anger towards us to cease,' Ps. Ixxx. 7. By their former 
experience they know the sweetness of God's favour, and by their pre 
sent loss the bitterness of the want of it. Basil hath a notable com 
parison. He saith, if an object be too bright, it must be set at a 
distance from the eye that we may see tetter ; so worldly things must 
be set at a distance from us : therefore God seems to be at a distance, 
hides his face, that his people might know by the loss and want of it 
how to value their blessings. 

How far do they discover their earnestness ? 

(1.) In that they seek it above all other things above corn, wine, 
and oil. This is not their painful desire to be made great, rich, high, 
honourable, happy in the world. All the world doth them no good 
without the favour of God. As all the stars, though they shine 
together, do not dispel the darkness of the night, so no creatures can 
comfort us sufficiently when God hides his face from them : Ps. xxx. 
1, ' Thou didst hide thy face and I was troubled.' They cannot find 
God as they were wont. As at funeral feasts, dear friends have little 
comfort when ,they miss their old friend that was wont to bid them 
welcome at the house ; so when God is gone, what comfort can they 
take in their portion ? Many will say, Why are you pensive and sad ? 
you have a great many friends, a great estate ! Oh ! you do not know 
the wound of a gracious heart, and how little these things are in com 
parison of the favour of God ! 

(2.) They manifest it in this, their contentedness with him, though 
they are kept low and bare in outward things : Ps. xvii. 15, ' As for 
me, I will behold thy face in righteousness ; I shall be satisfied, when 
I awake, with thy likeness.' It is enough for them to have the face of 
God, though they do not flourish in worldly plenty as others do, when 
in the exercise of grace they can find God propitious, ' behold his face 
in righteousness.' If they have not the candle they have the sun. If 

VER. 58.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 121 

they go to God, they are welcome upon all occasions. If the world 
frown upon them, God doth not so : they are beloved of him, and in 
favour with him, and that satisfieth them. 

What may be the reasons why the children of God so prize his 
favour ? 

(1st.) The worth of the thing itself: Ps. Ixiii. 3, 'Thy favour is 
better than life,' better than all comforts, better in itself, for this is 
that which we are never weary of. A man may be weary of all out 
ward comforts : ' Days may come wherein there is no pleasure,' Eccles. 
xii. 1 ; ' At that time the soul abhors dainty food/ Job xxxiii. 20. 
Pleasure, nay, life itself, may be a burden, but none ever was weary of 
the love of God, that cannot be a bur*den ; this doth not satiate and 
cloy us. Again, the love of God cannot be supplied and recompensed 
by other things : when a man loseth other things it may be made up 
in better. If a man be poor in this world, God hath chosen him to be 
rich in i'aith ; if afflicted and destitute of outward provisions, yet they 
have inward comforts and graces, and they will supply and make up 
this loss. But the loss of God's favour cannot be supplied ; when that 
departs from you, and a man loseth the hope he seemeth to have, what 
a sorry comfort is it, having forfeited the love of God, to seek our 
amends in the creature ! Then this is more durable than the pre 
sent life. Other comforts fail, but the love of God never fails. This is 
the original of all other comforts : Ps. xxx. 7, ' By thy favour thou 
hast made my mountain to stand strong ; ' and Ps. xliv. 3, ' Their 
own arm did not save them, but the light of thy countenance, because 
thou hadst a favour unto them.' Sure it is better to drink of the 
fountain than of the stream : all is from the favour of God. In short, 
it is the vitality and the cause of life, and the cause of all comfort. 
This is better than life. 

(2d.) They are atfected with that which is their true misery, there 
fore they most importunately beg the favour of God. Every man prays 
according to the sense that he hath, according to that which he counts 
his misery. He that hath a sense of no other calamity but to be poor, 
scorned, or exposed to contempt, or the absence of the creature, prays 
accordingly. Sometimes he howls like a dog in pain, or beasts that 
want food, Hosea vii. 14. But he that hath a deeper sense of his greatest 
necessities, he is affected with sin. which is the cause of all trouble ; 
therefore he must have the favour of God and the grace of God. A 
godly and a carnal man differ as a child and a man in their apprehen 
sions about pain and trouble. A child that is sick and would be eased 
of its present smart and pain, looks to nothing but that ; but an under 
standing man knows the cause must be taken away. A child speaks 
according to the sense and apprehension it hath take away his aching 
head or burning heat ; but the understanding man looks not only after 
present ease, but health, that the root of the distemper may be re 
moved. So a worldly man would have affliction gone, and looks no 
further, but a godly man hath a deeper sense, he must have the favour 
of God ; therefore his heart works painfully within him till this be 

(3d.) They entreat the favour of God with all their hearts, because 
their business lies mainly with God. Their work is to walk closely 


with. God, and keep up a strict communion with him. A carnal man's 
business lies with God sometimes in his trouble ; but when he licks 
himself whole and is at ease, he can live without it. But a godly man's 
business is always with God, for God is always with him, in trouble 
and out of trouble. Therefore that is a notable speech, Ps. xci. 9, 
' Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most 
High, thy habitation ; ' a refuge, that is a place of retreat in time of 
war ; a habitation, there is our residence in time of peace, when every 
one sits under his own vine and fig-tree. Now, a godly man makes 
God not only his refuge but his habitation ; therefore it concerns him 
to prize the favour of God, and keep in with him, for he is otherwise 
.at an utter loss ; therefore he must study to get all clear : if God be 
angry with him, his business is at a stand, and he cannot walk cheer 
fully with him from whom he expects all. 

Use 1. To reprove those that are indifferent whether they enjoy 
God's favour, yea or nay ; so they may enjoy the creature they are 
satisfied. Surely God is not these men's portion, for their only care is 
what they shall eat, how they may be clothed, how to live well in the 
world; but were never acquainted with this kind of trouble about 
God's favour : Ps. x. 4, it is said, ' The wicked through the pride of 
his countenance will not seek after God ; God is not in all his thoughts.' 
He never troubles himself how to keep in with God ; it never goes to 
his heart. He is such an one as can bring to pass whatever he pro- 
jecteth and desireth, without troubling himself with the fetters of 
religion and the care of a strict duty : he can live at large, and yet 
obtain his heart's desire, and thinketh them the only wise men, fit 
for his imitation, that can increase in worldly enjoyments without 
troubling themselves with such niceties as perplex others : he scorneth 
to trouble himself with prayer, and the observances which are neces 
sary to waiting upon God. Again, it reproves those that lie stupid 
and senseless under God's active displeasure. These are not as gross 
^s the former, but make some profession of respect to God, but have 
not yet a tender sense of God's accesses and recesses, his comings and 
goings. When the Lord hides himself from their prayers, and doth 
jiot give out the wonted influences of his grace and comfort, they mind 
it not, do not with earnestness seek to recover it again. If you did 
make this your business without interruption, when you have not the 
smiles of God, the want of this would create pain. 

Use 2. Of exhortation, to press us, if we would have God for our 
God, then to seek his favour above all things. Wait with an affec 
tionate earnestness in every ordinance for some new discovery, some 
comfortable intimation of God's word : Ps. cxxx. 6, ' My soul waiteth 
for thee.' What ? for outward deliverances ? No ; but ' I wait for 
the Lord, and in his word do I hope/ Again, in every enjoyment it 
is not enough to have the creature with God's leave (so can all men 
have it, it is their portion), but you must have it with God's love, as a 
token from God, wrapt up in the bowels of Christ. God gives many 
gifts to wicked men, but doth not give them his love. This we should 
look after, that we may find our comforts to be sprinkled with love, 
that if God deliver you out of any strait, he may love you out of it, 
Isa. xxxviii. 17. 

VER. 58.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxn. 123 

Secondly, For the manner, ' I have sought thy favour/ How ? 
' With my whole heart.' Note 

Doct. When we pray for the favour of God, it must be with our 
whole heart. 

There is this intended in it 

1. The constant favour and presence of God, we must pray for it, 
for without prayer faith lies idle, Heb. iv. 16. 

2. They that pray for it, their hearts must be set upon what they 
pray. It is not enough that our tongues babble out a cold form, as 
many learn to pray as parrots speak, by rote. They say, not pray a 
prayer : James v. 17,- ' Elias prayed earnestly ; ' in the margin, and so 
in the original, he ' prayed in prayer.' A man may take up words of 
course, and say things after others, which are not indeed the real desires 
of his heart ; so they pray as if they prayed not, slightly, without any 
warmth and affection. 

3. It is not enough that our hearts concur, but our whole hearts 
must go along with this work. Many times we pray but with half a 
heart : 

[1.] Partly when prayer is a fruit of memory and invention, but not 
the fruit of conscience. Common illumination will tell us how prayer 
is to be formed according to the tenor of the Christian faith ; so men 
may repeat words such as the understanding judgeth fit, without any 
answerable touch upon the heart. This is their sin who are more care- 
iul about notions in prayer than the affections. 

[2.] A man prays but with a piece of his heart when he prays rather 
with his conscience than with his affections. Will you distinguish 
this, a dictate of conscience must be distinguished from a purpose of 
heart. Conscience may tell us what is to be done, yet the heart have 
no liking to it. Austin saith when he was a carnal man he had some 
kind of conscience, and prayed against his sins ; but, saith he, I was 
afraid God would hear me. The favour of God is necessary, but the 
heart many times is not engaged in the pursuit of it. We oftener 
pray from our memories than our consciences, and oftener from our 
consciences than our affections ; the heart is not put into the duty. 

[3.] When our affections are divided to carnal things, and the com 
fortable part of spiritual things. No doubt there is no man but would 
have the favour of God, but it is with a condition that he may live as 
he does, and be as he is, and so the prevailing part of his soul bends 
him to his present course ; he regards iniquity in his heart, and sin 
hath an interest and lies very near ; he would have the favour of God 
abstractedly, but when he considers how his lusts must be parted with, 
there his heart is divided. 

Use. Oh 1 then, look to it that you beg the Lord's favour with all 
your heart. God knows the heart. Rebekah dressed up Jacob so that 
his father mistook him. Ay ! but God cannot mistake ; his eye is not 
dim as Isaac's, he sees the heart ; therefore let your heart, and whole 
heart, go out in the pursuit. 

Quest. How shall we know when our hearts are thus thoroughly 
bent, if you seek him with all your hearts ? 

Ans. Then you will observe how you speed when you look after 
him ; you will see what becomes of your requests. ' I will hearken 


what God will speak/ saith David, and ' will pray and look up ; ' a& 
Elijah looked up to see the cloud a-coming. Again, if we pray with 
the whole heart there will be importunate arguings ; desire will take 
no nay : Ps. Ixiii. 8, ' My soul followeth hard after thee.' Oh ! it will 
be a painful, grievous thing to your souls if you do not speed in your 
prayers. Not a slight motion, or cold wish, but such as deeply affects 
the heart, and not easily put off and satisfied with other things. 
Wicked men would have the favour of God, but they are easily put 
out of the humour. Again, then we pray with the whole heart when 
there is such a desire as not to be discouraged, but you venture again, 
when the Lord seems to put off and give a check to your requests : Isa. 
xxvi. 8, ' The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remem 
brance of thee.' Still desires grow hotter and hotter, and when there 
is a kind of impudence not to be put off. Again, such as do excite 
endeavours for the obtaining of God's love and a sense of his favour. 
It will cost us pain and trouble when we are hard at work, and will 
be diligent in this thing. But .when you rest in a few cold prayers, 
you are never hearty with God : Ps. xxvii. 4, ' One thing have I de 
sired.' What then ? ' That will I seek after/ and use a great deal of 
diligence to come by it. 

Thirdly, The fountain of all that we expect is mercy. All that 
seek God's favour must expect it upon terms of grace : ' Be merciful 
unto me.' We cannot say, Pay me what thou owest, or, Give me for 
my money. All whom God accepts to his grace and favour are un 
worthy: Isa. Iv. 1, 'Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the 
waters, and he that hath no money ; come ye, buy and eat, come, buy 
wine and milk, without money, and without price.' Secondly, They 
who are received to favour still need mercy to pardon failings, Gal. v. 
The best are but sanctified in part, and have the dregs of corruption 
always remaining, and frequently stirring in them. 

Use. Let us thus deal with God : Hosea xiv. 2, ' Take with you 
words, and turn to the Lord ; say unto him, Take away all iniquity, 
and receive us graciously.' The sum of all our requests is, that God 
would be merciful to us. 

Fourthly, The rule and ground of confidence is ' according to thy 
word.' God's word is the rule of our confidence, for therein is God's 
stated course. If we would have favour from God and mercy, it must 
be upon his own terms. God will accept of us in Christ, if we repent, 
believe, and obey, and seek his favour diligently: he will not deny 
those who seek, ask, knock. We would have mercy, but will not 
observe God's directions. We must ask according to God's will, not 
without a promise, nor against a command. God is made a voluntary 
debtor by his promise. These are notable props of faith, when we 
are encouraged to seek by the offer, to apply by the promise. We 
thrive no more in a comfortable sense of God's love, because we take- 
not this course. 

VER. 59.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 125 


I thought on my ivays, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. 


IN these words we have 

1. David's exercise, I thought on my icays. 

2. The effect of it, I turned my feet unto thy testimonies. 

In the former verse he beggeth mercy and the favour of God. Now 
those that beg mercy must be in a capacity to receive mercy. God is 
ready to show mercy, but to whom ? To the penitent, that humbly 
seek it, and turn from the evil of their ways. We cannot expect God 
should be favourable to us while we continue in a course of sin. 
Therefore David showeth that he entreated God's mercy and favour 
upon God's terms, that he was one of those converted by grace : ' I 
thought on my ways,' &c. Some copies of the Septuagint have it ra? 
oSovs <rov Ste\oytcrdiJ.r}v, ' I considered thy ways,' much to the same 
purpose ; for a serious consideration of the excellency of God's ways is 
of use, as well as of the naughtiness of our own. But other copies read 
better, according to the original Hebrew, ' I thought on my ways,' our 
omissions, commissions, purposes, practices, the course of our thoughts, 
words, deeds. 

In the other part, when we are said to turn our feet unto God's tes 
timonies, it is meant of the conversion of the whole soul, evidenced by 
the course of our feet or practices. So Eccles. v. 1, ' Keep thy feet 
when thou goest into the house of God ; ' the meaning is, look to thy 
heart and affections. We are sometimes said to turn to God, and. 
sometimes to the testimonies or commands of God. We turn to God 
as the object or last end ; to his testimonies as the rule of our conver 
sation to lead us thither. So that by it is meant an effectual conver 
sion of the whole man, to walk according to the rule of God's word. 

The text issueth itself into this one point : 

Doct. That serious consideration of our own ways maketh way for 
sound conversion to God. 

In the managing of this doctrine I shall discuss two things : 

1. The necessity of serious consideration in order to repentance. 

2. How much it concerneth us after we have considered effectually 
to turn to the Lord. 

First, The necessity of serious consideration in order to repentance. 
And there 

1. What is consideration. 

2. The objects of it, or the things that must be considered. 

3. I shall argue the necessity of this. 

First, What is this consideration or thinking upon our ways ? In 
the general, it is a returning upon our hearts, or a serious and anxious 
debating with ourselves concerning our eternal condition. For the 
understanding whereof, consider that a carnal man is mindless and 
altogether careless of his eternal interests, like a fool or madman, or 
one out of his wits. We were ' sometimes foolish/ avorjroi. Titus iii. 3, 
like men asleep or distracted ; they do not know what they are doing, 


nor what will be the issue of things, till God awaken their hearts to 
think of their condition, and then they begin to act like men again, 
and to be sensible of their case. Thus it is said of the prodigal, Luke 
xv. 17, et? eavrbv rjkOev, that ' he came to himself;' as a man when he 
is drunk, we say he is not himself, he doth not consider what he doth, 
nor consider the danger of his actions. And the Psalmist, speaking of 
the conversion of the Gentiles, saith, Ps. xxii. 27, ' The ends of the 
earth shall remember, and turn unto the Lord ;' that is, shall recollect 
themselves, and consider of the end of their lives, whence they are, 
whither they are going, and what shall become of them to all eternity, 
as if all this while they had forgotten the purpose for which they were 
sent into the world, who was their master, what was their business. 
Alas ! before this serious consideration, men in seeing see not, and in 
hearing hear not, as a man that is musing of another matter is not 
affected with what you tell him ; he heareth and doth not hear. It is 
the awakening of the heart which is God's first work, before he giveth 
other grace : Eph. v. 14, ' Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from 
the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.' First awake, and then 
arise from the dead, before which men have but such languid notions 
of God and Christ and salvation by him as men have in a dream ; but 
when we come to weigh and scan things with affection and appli 
cation, then the soul is awakened. 
Now God bringeth us to this 

1. Partly by his word, which showeth our natural face, James i. 
23, 24, or natural estate and condition before God. It is appointed 
for this purpose, to be the instrument to awaken men, to discover them 
to themselves. Now, because this may make but a weak impression, 
such as may soon be blotted out, dvSpl irapaKv^ravn, they forget and 
fall asleep again ; therefore to this God joineth his rod. Therefore 

2. Partly by afflictions ; as the prodigal, when he was reduced to 
husks and rags, then he came to himself and was brought to his right 
mind. Again, 1 Kings viii. 47, ' If in the land of their affliction 
they shall bethink themselves and repent ;' the Hebrew is, ' bring it 
back to their hearts.' Affliction is sanctified to this end, to open the 
eyes ; it bringeth us to ourselves. So Haggai, i. 5, 7, ' Now consider 
your ways,' now OeaOe ra<? /capS/a? eVl ra$ 6$ov<? vfi&v, ' lay your hearts 
upon your ways ;' when they sowed much and brought in little, and 
what they earned was put into a bag with holes ; that is, when the 
hand of God was upon them, and the visible curse of his providence. 
When the word of God doth not effectually discover men to them 
selves, then he sends afflictions to put them upon a search, and 
by his rod whippeth them out of their sleepy dreams and carnal 

3. By his Spirit ; and the first effect of his operations is compunc 
tion : Acts ii. 37, ' When they heard this they were pricked in heart, 
and cried out, Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved ?' It 
makes them anxious and solicitous. I ascribe this work to the Spirit, 
because it was a time when the Spirit was newly poured forth. Well 
then, in the general, it is God's awakening the heart to a serious and 
anxious debate with itself concerning its eternal condition, before which 
we go on sleepily in a course of sin ; but then the soul crieth 

VER. 59.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 127 

What have I done, and what shall I do ? how carelessly have I lived I 
and what shall become of me to all eternity ? 

More particularly, this thinking upon our ways involveth in its full 
latitude three grand duties : 

1. As it relateth to our past estate, or the ways wherein we have 
walked, self-examining, or a serious searching and inquiring in what 
condition we are before God. This is necessary to conversion and 
turning to the Lord : Lam. iii. 40, ' Let us search and try our ways, 
and turn unto the Lord.' There needeth a serious calling ourselves to 
an account, or a strict view and survey of our former courses, if we 
would amend what is amiss in them ; and still, as we renew our 
repentance, this course must we take. 

2. As it relateth to present actions, or the ways wherein we are to 
walk, so it implieth prudent consideration before we do anything ; let 
us see our warrant, that we may do nothing but what is agreeable to 
God's word : Prov. iv. 26, 27, ' Ponder the paths of thy feet, and let 
all thy ways be established : turn not to the right hand or to the left ; 
remove thy foot from evil.' We have a narrow line to walk by, but a 
foot of ground to go upon ; and therefore we should not walk at hap 
hazard, but with much exactness : Eph. v. 15, ' See that ye walk cir 
cumspectly, not as fools, but as wise ;' therefore we need to weigh all 
our actions in the balance of the sanctuary, that if anything displease 
God we may avoid it The conscience of our weakness, and the strict 
ness of our rule, should make us take the better heed to ourselves. 

3. With respect to the tendency and issues of things ; and so it 
noteth fore-consideration or deliberation in order to choice. God 
biddeth his people ' stand upon the ways and see, and inquire after 
the old paths, which is the good way, and walk therein,' Jer. vi. 16 ; 
as travellers, when they are at a loss or in doubt of their way, seeing 
divers paths before them, are careful to inform themselves aright that 
they may take the next, readiest, and best way for their journey's end. 
An awakened conscience is like Hercules, in bivio ; there are two ways 
present themselves the way of sin and 'flesh-pleasing, and the way of 
God's commandments ; or, as it is Mat. vii. 13, 14, ' the broad way,' 
and ' the narrow way.' The broad way of sin seemeth pleasant and 
enticing, but it leadeth to death ; the narrow way is rough and craggy, 
troublesome to flesh and blood, but the end is life and peace. Now 
the soul debateth upon the choice which of these is better, by weighing 
the loss and gain on either side, and the final issue and tendency of 
both these ways ; or rather, the awakened soul is in the case of a man 
that is yet to choose ; or like a man that is out of the way, and wants 
his usual marks. He bethinketh himself, If I go on in this broad 
beaten road of corruption, I am sure to go down to the chambers of 
death, and perish evermore. Oh ! but let me make a stop ; it is better 
to take God's direction than the way of mine own heart ; it is a way 
that will undo me for ever. Hitherto I have gone awry ; how shall I 
do to get into the right way ? I would be happy, and this course will 
never make me so ; surely it is better to take God's counsel than to 
please the flesh. No course will satisfy conscience, no course will 
make you happy, but a life led according to the word of God. Thus 
you see it implieth 


1. An examination of our past course, or a looking into our own 

2. A careful watch over future actions. 

3. A consideration of the issue and event of things. I have viewed 
my life past. I have been wrong, and I see it will be bitterness in the 
issue ; therefore I purpose to give up myself to a course of obedience, 
and therefore to consider well of my actions for the future. Now this 
is a work that is not once to be done, but always. As often as we look 
to ourselves, we shall find something that needeth amendment ; and 
therefore we need to press the heart with new and pregnant thoughts 
to mind our duty, and to use constant caution, and taking heed to our 
ways that we may not go wrong. Ps. xxxix. 1, thus did David, to 
keep his heart right, ' I thought on my ways/ 

Secondly, The objects of this consideration, or the things that must 
be considered; that may be gathered out of the former discourse. 

1. Who made thee? Eccles. xii. 1, ' Remember thy Creator in the 
days of thy youth.' It is a great advantage to call to mind whose 
creatures we are ; for this will shame us, that we have done no more 
than we have done for him, from whom we have all that we have ; and 
this in youth, when the effects of this creating bounty are most fresh 
upon our senses. In good earnest consider, who was it that made thee 
a reasonable creature ; not a stone, and without life ; nor a plant, and 
without sense ; nor a beast, and without reason ; but a man, with reason, 
and understanding, and will, and affections ; that thou mayest know 
him, and love him, and enjoy him. And hast thou never thought of 
the God that made thee ? Art thou of those hare-brained fools that 
go on rashly in a course of sin, and ' God is not in all their thoughts ' ? 
Ps. x. 4. How canst thou look upon the body without thoughts of 
him whose workmanship it is? or think of thy soul without thinking 
of God whose image and superscription it bears, and without whom 
.thou canst not so much as think ? Shall it be troublesome to thee to 
have frequent thoughts of God, when thou canst go musing of vanity 
all the day long? Shall every trifle find a room in thy heart, when 
God findeth no room there ? ' He is not far from every one of us/ 
Acts xvii. 27, but we are far from him. He is before thee, behind 
thee, round about thee, yea, within thee, or else thou couldst not keep 
thy breath in thy body for a moment, and wilt thou not then take 
some time to season thy heart with thoughts of God ? The first mis 
carriage of men came from this : Rom. i. 28, ' They liked not to re 
tain God in their knowledge/ Thoughts of God and right opinions of 
God were a burden to them, and therefore they gave up themselves to 
an ungodly course and evil state of mind. And wilt thou put such a 
scorn and contempt upon thy Creator as never seriously to think of him ? 
yea, when thoughts of God rush in upon thy mind, to turn them out as 
unwelcome guests ? This is to degenerate into the state of devils, a 
part of whose torment it is to think of God : they ' believe and tremble;' 
the more explicit thoughts they have of the name of God, the more is 
their horror increased. Oh ! then let thy meditations of God be sweet 
and serious, Ps. civ. 34. Everything that passeth before thine eyes pro 
claims an invisible God, an infinite and eternal power, that made thee 

VER. 50.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 129 

and all things else. Shall the heavens above, the earth beneath thee 
say, Remember God ; and every creature, every pile of grass thou 
treadest upon, call to thee, Remember God ; and wilt thou be so stupid 
and scornful as not to cast a look upon him ? Then we begin to be 
serious when thoughts of God are more fastened upon our hearts. 

2. Why did he make thee ? Not in vain ; for no wise agent will 
make a thing to no purpose, especially with such advice, ' Let us make 
man.' Certainly not for a life of sin, to break his laws, and follow 
your lusts, and satisfy your fleshly desires. Was this God's end, that 
the creature might rebel against himself? This is not consistent 
with his goodness, to make us for such an end ; or if so, why did he 
make the rules of justice and equity natural to us, so that man is a 
law to himself? Rom. ii. 14. Nor for sport and recreation, to eat, 
drink, and be merry, or to melt away your days in ease and idleness. 
He spake rather like a beast than a man, ' Soul, take thine ease, eat, 
drink, and be merry ; thou hast goods laid up for many years/ Luke 
xii. 19. If merely for pleasures, why did he give us a conscience? 
The brute beasts are fitter for such a use, who have no conscience, and 
therefore no remorse to embitter their pleasures. What was the end 
for which God made us ? Was it to gather wealth, and that the soul 
might cater for the body, and that we might live well here in the world ? 
No ; for then God's work would terminate in itself. And why were 
such noble faculties given us, such a high-flying reason, that hath a 
sense of another world, if this were all God's end, that we might grovel 
here upon earth, and scrape and heap up this world's riches ? We see 
they are the basest of men who are given to this kind of pursuits. 
Surely this was not God's end. But why was it ? Prov. xvi. 4, ' God 
hath made all things for himself,' for his glory ; and so man to glorify 
him and enjoy him. The beasts were made to glorify him in their 
kind, but man to enjoy him. This is my end, to seek after God, to 
please him, to serve him : Ps. xiv. 2, ' The Lord looked down from 
heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did 
understand and seek God.' God, that hath fixed his end, observeth 
what man doth in compliance with it, what affection and care they 
have to find him, please him, glorify him. Reason will tell us as well 
as scripture that the first cause must be the last end, and we must end 
there where we began at first: 1 Cor. x. 31, ' Whether, therefore, ye 
cat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.' Well, 
then, I was not made for nothing, not to sin away my life, nor to 
sport it away, nor to talk it away, nor to drudge it away in the servile 
and basest offices of this life ; my. end is to enjoy God, and my work 
and business is to serve and glorify him. 

3. How little you have answered this end ! God complaineth of 
our backwardness to this work : Jer. viii. 6, ' No man repented of his 
wickedness, saying, What have I done ? ' God, upon a review, found 
every day's work good, very good in themselves, and their correspond 
ence and frame, Gen. i. 31 ; but when we consider our ways, we 
shall find that all is evil, very evil. We have too long gone on in a 
course of sin, and the more we go on, the more we shall go astray, and 
wander from the great end for which we were created, which was God's 
service and honour. Oh ! consider your ways, especially when con- 



science is set awork by the word, or when we smart under the folly 
of our own wanderings, and God maketh us sensible of our mistake 
by some smart scourge. If we never seriously thought on our ways be 
fore, then is a time to think of them, and to count it a mercy that 
we are not left to go on in a course of sin without checks and disap 
pointments. Oh ! look upon the drift and course of your lives and 
actions, pry into every corner of them. What have I been doing- 
hitherto ? spending my days in vanity and sin ? Have I remembered 
my Creator, made it my work to serve him, my scope to glorify him ? 
Have I looked after this as the unum necessarium, the great law and 
business of my life, that I might enjoy communion with God ? Oh ! for 
how long a time hath God been kept out of his right, and I have been 
sowing to the flesh, and never minded the great errand for which I 
was sent into the world ! None can excuse himself. 

4. The unkindness and baseness of such a course, that you may 
make it odious to the soul. God hath not only made me, but kept me, 
and provided for me day after day. ' The God which fed me all my 
lifetime/ saith Jacob, Gen. xlviii. 15. I have been fed at his table, 
clothed at his cost, defended, kept, when long ago God might have 
struck me dead in my sins ; and yet all this while I have not thought 
of God, to pay the return of my thanks and obedience to my great 
benefactor. The very beasts are more dutiful in their kind to man, 
who, as God's instrument, provideth for them : Isa. i. 3, ' The ox knows 
his owner, and the ass his master's crib ; but my people will not know, 
Israel will not consider.' How senseless have I been of the great obli 
gations wherein I stand bound to God ! There is the fault ; we do- 
not know, and will not consider what hath been done to God for this. 

5. What it will come to, or what will become of you, if you should 
still so continue, or if I should go on in this course, what will be my 
portion for ever ? Nothing but an eternal separation from God, and 
endless torments with the devil and his angels : Ps. 1. 22, ' Now con 
sider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be 
none to deliver/ Oh ! this is the means to awaken the conscience, and 
to affect the heart with high and right thoughts of God. What will 
be the end of those that go far away from God, if they do not make 
haste to come home to him ? Eternal and merciless vengeance ; for 
God will not always bear with forgetful sinners ; they shall be torn in 
pieces, the soul sent to hell, and the body to the grave. Oh ! it con- 
cerneth the poor impenitent wretch that now goeth on fearless in a 
course of sin, immediately to stop in his march, lest he be hurried 
away to the place of torment, and there be no escaping. Now, urge 
this upon the heart, and exercise your thoughts in the remembrance of 
it ; and if you have overcome and overwrestled some former qualms of 
conscience, now lay it to heart, and do so no more. It may be the 
hour is at hand when God will take away your souls from you, and all 
your sins shall be set in order before you, and the stupid conscience, 
that is now senseless, shall have a lively feeling of all your rebellions 
and unkindnesses done to God, as the paper which was but now white, 
when stamped with the printing-irons hath a story written upon it in 
legible characters. 

6. How much it concerneth you to come out of this condition 

VER. 59.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxi\-. 131 

speedily, for God is not a God to be neglected or dallied with. When 
he calls in the seasons of grace he will be observed, otherwise you may 
call and he will have no regard : ' They shall call, and I will not 
answer; they shall seek me early, but not find me/ Prov. i. 28. 
AY hen you receive many checks of conscience, entreaties of grace, 
motions of the Spirit in vain, God will be gone. God doth commonly 
give men a day, and no man or angel knoweth how long this day shall 
last. God gave Cain a day : ' If thou dost well, shalt thou not be 
accepted? if thou dost ill, sin lieth at the door.' Oh ! then, when you 
begin to have thoughts of turning unto God, let them not be quelled. 
God reckoneth eveiy hour, ' These three years,' ' this second epistle,' 
' this second miracle ; ' and when his patience will expire you cannot 

7. How happy it will be for you when once you change your course I 
The prodigal remembered the plenty in his father's house ; you will 
nnd a manifest difference : Rom. vi. 21, 22, * What fruit had you then 
in those things whereof ye are now ashamed ? for the end of those 
things is death : but now, being made free from sin, and become ser 
vants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting 
life.' In the way, no such gripes of conscience, no shame, sorrow, fears ; 
in the end, everlasting life. It was your mistaking that called the 
days of sin good days. Oh ! but when fruitful in holiness you will 
have present comfort and serenity of mind, a taste of the clusters of 
Canaan in the wilderness, hope of a glorious state, and the best will 
be at last. Compare pain with pain, pleasure with pleasure. We do 
not compare aright the pains of godliness with pleasures of sin ; and 
yet there you may see the discharging of our duty will yield more true 
comfort and peace than all the pleasures of sin can bring us. 

8. What hopes by Christ: Heb. iii. 1, 'Wherefore, holy brethren, 
partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest 
of our profession, Jesus Christ ; ' what provision God hath made. 

Thirdly, Let me argue the necessity of this consideration. 

1. Otherwise men are rash, careless, and precipitant, and act as they 
are carried on by their own lusts ; whereas, if they did consider, it 
would stop them in the course of sin. They rush like a horse into the 
battle, because ' no man saith, What have I done ? ' Jer. viii. 6. Men 
run on like a headstrong horse after their lusts and fancies ; whereas, 
if they do seriously bethink themselves, and cast in a few grave 
thoughts about things to come, it would be like the putting in of cold 
water into a boiling pot, abate the fervour of their lusts. Men are 
wicked because they are inconsiderate ; there are arguments enough 
against sin if they would but pause and weigh them seriously ; but we 
do not think of heaven and hell, and therefore they do not work upon 
us : Eccles. xi. 9, ' Remember that for all these things God will bring 
thee to judgment.' 

2. This serious consideration is a good means to awaken us from 
the sleep of security. When we consider the end why we were made, 
the rule we are to walk by, and poise ourselves about conformity or 
inconformity to this rule, and do withal revolve the issues of things 
in our minds, it cannot but rouse us up out of our sloth and stupidness, 
and make us act more vigorously and regularly as to the ends of our 


creation. Oh I what shall I do ? The first grace is awakening ; that 
maketh way for other graces ; Eph. v. 14, ' Awake, thou that sleepest, 
and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Whereas 
otherwise, when we consider not, we are stupid and sottish : Isa. xliv. 
19 ' None considered! in his heart, Is there not a lie in my right hand ? 
I have burnt part in the fire,' Eccles. v. 1, they ' offer the sacrifice of 
fools,' for ' they consider not that they have done evil ; ' they do not 
weigh their actions. The reason why they go wrong and continue 
wrong is, they do not seriously ponder and debate with themselves 
what it will come to. 

3. By consideration we come to find where the work of God sticketn 
with us, and so conviction being the more particular, worketh the more 
kindly. A blunt iron that toucheth many points doth notjsp soon go 
to the quick as a needle that toucheth but one point : Mai. iii. 7, ' Re 
turn, and they said, Wherein shall we return ? ' We do not see the 
need of repentance so much as by prying narrowly into our own ways. 
In short, without this, life is not -so regular, the heart is not over 
powered with such strong and full reason to comply with God's 


Secondly, How much it concerneth us, after we have considered our 
ways, to turn to the Lord, and diligentlyto pursue the course which he 
hath prescribed : ' I turned my feet unto thy testimonies.' A sound 
conversion is here described. 

1. I turned, in the thorough purpose of his heart, that is the act on 
our part. It is by God's grace that we ai'e turned, but we turn our 
selves when the purpose of our souls is fixed : ' Turn me, and I shall 
be turned.' God inclineth the heart, and we manifest it by binding 
ourselves by a thorough purpose. A wish, an offer, when it endeth 
only in that, we have not considered enough ; but when the heart is 
bent, I am turned. The prodigal, when he took up, came to himself, 
and had reasoned the case, says, ' I will go to my father/ Luke xv. 
18. It must be such a purpose as is diligently pursued. 

2. The object or rule, my feet unto thy testimonies. By his feet is 
meant the course of his life. Our will and natural inclination should 
be no rule to us, but God's testimonies. We must entirely give up 
ourselves to the direction of his word : ' As many as walk according to 
this rule,' Gal. vi. 16. We are not to walk as we list. There is a 
fixed determinate rule, which must be kept with all accurateness and 
attention ; a godly man is very tender of breaking this rule ; he makes 
conscience of keeping to this rule. 

Now it concerneth us to make sure work of it. 

[1.] Because convictions lost occasion the greater hardness of heart. 
No iron so hard as that which has been often heated and often 
quenched ; and no heart so bad as theirs that seemed to have some 
serious and anxious thoughts about their eternal condition. The devil 
is the more busy and watchful about them because of their offer to 
escape ; and God is the more provoked because they started aside when 
they were at the point of yielding ; as better a match were never pro 
posed, than to break off just as it is ready to be concluded. Always 
according to the closeness of the application, if it succeed not, so doth 
our hardness of heart increase. They that were ministerially stirred, 

VER. 59.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 133 

when they pull away the shoulder, their hearts grow like an adamant 
stone: Zech. vii. 11, 12, 'But they refused to hearken, and pulled 
away the shoulder, and stopped their ears that they should not hear; 
yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear 
the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his Spirit 
by the former prophets : therefore came a great wrath from {he Lord 
of hosts.' When the Spirit is in a way of striving, Gen vi. 3, when 
you are any way affected, if resistance be continued, he withdraws. 
When men blunt the edge of conscience, deaden their affections, they 
lose all feeling : 2 Peter ii. 20, 21, ' For if, after they have escaped the 
pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the 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 unto them/ 
They sin against former knowledge, experience, and sense of the truth. 
As their light is, so their resisting causeth hardness, and all the 
sensible work cometh to nothing. But that is not all, it turneth to 
loss ; it maketh it more difficult than it was before in regard of us ; it 
maketh us more careless. When we had some stirring in our con 
sciences before, we healed it slightly, and we think to do so again. 

[2.] You will provoke God to use a rougher dispensation when the 
persuasions of the word and the strivings of the Spirit cannot bring 
you to repentance. They will not be won by arguments ; God teacheth 
them by blows, as Gideon did the men of Succoth by briers and thorns. 
Therefore they shall shortly find themselves so involved in the fruit of 
their sins, as they shall not look off from it ; their guilt shall lay hold 
of them at every hand : Hosea vii. 2, ' They consider not in their 
hearts that I remember all their sins ; now their doings have beset 
them round about.' We should be much with our hearts, considering 
our case, how it is with us. God useth not the rod till forced to it : 
' He doth not willingly grieve nor afflict the children of men,' Lam. 
iii. 33. When milder means work but half a cure, the rest is sup 
plied by some pressing judgments; his work is stopped, and therefore 
he promotes it this way. 

[3.] It is a sign your consideration is not serious when you are off 
and on, and it produceth no good effect in the soul. A plaster may 
be sovereign, but when you are still pulling it off and putting it on, 
it does no good. Light thoughts work not ; when they are deep and 
ponderous, then they leave a durable impression. Still it is, ' Re 
member and turn : ' Ps. xxii. 27, ' All the ends of the world shall re 
member and turn unto the Lord.' Bethink and repent : 1 Kings viii. 
47, ' If they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they are 
carried captives, and repent '; ' Search and try, and turn unto the Lord.' 
Some are semper victuri, always considering, about to live : but you 
must resolve : kindly convictions will not die, nor let the convinced 
sinner alone till they appear in the fruits of obedience. 

[4.] The devil hath his purposes: Mat. xiii. 19, ' The wicked one 
catcheth away that which was sown in -his heart;' he watcheth 
troubled sinners, that the work may die away. 

Use 1. To reprove us 


1. For not considering our ways. When did you ever go aside, 
and seriously debate with yourselves about your turning to God? 
Did you ever lay it to your hearts how matters stand between you 
and God ? There are certain seasons when God calleth you to it, and 

that is 

[1.] When the doctrine of life and the way of salvation hath been 
represented unto you with evidence and power, and you have felt 
some stirring and trouble in your consciences. Did you go home 
and say, Kom. viii. 31, 'What shall we then say to these things?' 
God hath spoken to me this day ; now shall all this be lost and come 
to nothing ? Heb. ii. 3, ' How shall I escape if I neglect so great 
salvation ? ' Now I am called to mind Christ and salvation more. If 
I should give no heed to these things, or only give them the hearing 
for the present, oh ! what will become of me ? There is a special 
providence in every message, warning, offer, or instruction by the 
word. Acts xiii. 26, ' To you is this word of salvation sent ;' he doth 
not say, We brought it, but, God sent it ; as some message of God 
for your trial. Do we think of these things which we have heard and 
learned ? 

[2.] When God appeareth against you in a course of judgments, 
cutting off one comfort after another, now taking away a child, then 
blasting the estate : ' Now consider your ways ; ' Eccles. vii. 14, ' In 
the day of adversity consider ; ' then is the duty in season. Affliction 
doth not rise out of the dust ; God hath some end in these pro 
vidences ; and what is his end but to make me mindful of my duty 
to him ? See for what end these things come, and to what issue they 
tend, that we may hear the rod, and know the meaning of the 
providence. If you do not consider, God will make you consider 
before he hath done with you. Jer. xxiii. 20, ' The anger of the Lord 
shall not return till he hath performed all the thoughts of his heart, 
and then you shall consider it perfectly.' God will follow blow after 
blow till we do consider his mind and purpose. Jer. xxx. 24, ' The 
fierce anger of the Lord shall not return until he hath done it, and 
until he hath performed the intents of his heart.' 

2. To reprove us for not taking this advantage. When we are set 
a-thinking of our ways, we have many thoughts and sensible stirrings, 
but they come to nothing, because we do not follow it close. You 
think, and have some workings of conscience, but do they end in a 
fixed purpose? Some break through all, as Saul forces himself, 
1 Sam. xiii. 12. Break through all restraints of conscience. Felix 
had his qualm, but he puts it off to another season. Oh I consider 
these things will one day be a witness against you, the sensible 
workings upon your hearts by the word and rod. 

Use 2. To stir us up to this work, serious consideration in order to 
sound conversion. 

1. Be frequent in it. If daily you called yourselves to an account, 
all acts of grace would thrive the better. Seneca of Sextius, Quid 
hodie malum sanasti? cui vitio obstitisti? You have God's example 
in reviewing every day's work, and in dealing with Adam before he 
slept. _ The man that was unclean was to wash his clothes at 

VER. 60.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 135 

2. Seriously set yourself to it : Deut. xxxii. 46, * Set your hearts 
unto all the words which I testify among you this day.' It is a 
weighty matter of life and death : Ps. iv. 4, ' Commune with your 
hearts and be still.' This is the way to check sin, and to come on 
most hopefully in a course of obedience. 

3. Drive your thoughts to a resolution, to rectify whatever is amiss; 
never leave thinking of your ways till you grow anxious about eternal 
life, nor let your anxiousness cease till you bring it to somewhat ; 
grow to some resolution about the ways of God. Pray God to make 
your consideration effectual : 2 Tim. ii. 7, ' Consider what I have 
said, and the Lord give you understanding in all things ; ' this is but 
the means, God giveth the grace. 

I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. VER. 60. 

IN the verse immediately preceding the man of God speaks of re 
pentance as the fruit of consideration and self-examining : ' I con 
sidered my ways, and then turned my feet to thy testimonies.' But 
when did he turn ? For though we see the evil of our ways, we are 
naturally slow to get it redressed. Therefore David did not only turn 
to God, but he did it speedily. We have an account of that in this 
verse, ' I made haste,' &c. This readiness in the work of obedience is 
doubly expressed affirmatively and negatively. Affirmatively, ' I 
made haste ; ' negatively, ' I delayed not.' This double expression 
increaseth the sense, according to the manner of the Hebrews ; as 
Ps. cxviii. 17, ' I shall not die, but live,' that is, surely live ; so here, 
4 1 made haste, and delayed not,' that is, I verily delayed not a mo 
ment ; as soon as he had thought of his ways, and taken up resolu 
tions of walking closely with God, he did "put it into practice. The 
Septuagint reads the words thus : I was ready, and was not troubled 
or diverted by fear of danger. Indeed, besides our natural slowness 
to good, this is one usual ground of delays, we distract ourselves with 
fears, and when God hath made known his will to us in many duties, 
we think of tarrying till the times are more quiet and favour our 
practice, and our affairs are in a better posture. A good improvement 
may be made of that translation ; but the words run better, as they 
run more generally, with us, ' I made haste, and delayed not,' &c.; and 
from thence observe 

Doct. That the call of God, whether to amendment and newness of 
life, or to any particular duty, must be without delay obeyed. 

To illustrate the point by these reasons : 

Iteas. 1. Ready obedience is a good evidence of a sound impres 
sion of grace left upon our hearts. There is a slighter conviction 
which breedeth a sense of duty, but doth not urge us thoroughly to 
the performance of it ; and so men stand reasoning instead of running, 
debating the case with God : and there is a more sound conviction 
which is accompanied with a prevailing efficacy, and when we have 


this upon our spirits, then all excuses and delays are laid aside, and 
we come off readily and kindly in the way of compliance with God's 
call. This is doctriually spoken of, Cant. i. 4, ' Draw me, and we will 
run after thee.' Kunning is an earnest and speedy motion. From 
whence comes it ? From drawing ; it is a fruit of drawing, or 
the sweet and powerful attraction which the Spirit of God useth in 
the hearts of the elect. Instances I might give you in several calls 
and conversions spoken of in scripture. When Christ called Andrew 
and Peter, 1 ' They left their father and followed after him,' Mark i. 
20. So when Christ called Zaccheus, ' he made haste, and came 
down from the tree, and received him joyfully," Luke xix. 6. So 
Christ to Matthew, ' Follow me, and straightway he followed him,' 
Mat. ix. 9. Julian the apostate scoffs at these passages, as if it were 
irrational to conceive such a thing could be, that men should so soon 
leave their course of gain and calling ; or else that Christ's followers 
were a kind of sots and fools, weak, and poor-spirited creatures, that 
upon a word speaking they would come off presently all of a sudden : 
but impulsions of the Spirit carry their own reason with them, and 
draw the heart without any more ado. But such as he were not 
acquainted with the workings of the Holy Ghost in conversion, there 
fore scoff at these things. So Gal. i. 16, ' Immediately I conferred 
not with flesh and blood.' When our call is clear, there needs no 
debate. When men stand reasoning instead of running, there is not 
a thorough work upon them. 

Reas. 2. The sooner we turn to the ways of God the better we 
speed. How so ? 

1. Partly in this, that the work goes on the more kindly, as being 
carried forth in the strength of the present influence and impulsion of 
grace; whereas, if the heart grow cold again, it will be the more 
difficult. A blow while the iron is hot doth more than ten at another 
time when it grows cold again. So when thy heart grows cold, thou 
wilt not have that advantage as when thou art under a warm convic 
tion. And indeed that is the devil's cheat, to speak of hereafter, to 
elude the importunity of the present conviction that is upon you. 
John v. 4, You know when the waters were stirred, then was the 
time to put in, he that stepped in first had experience of the sanative 
virtue of the waters ; so when the heart is stirred, we should not lose 
this advantage, but come on upon that call. There are several 
metaphors in scripture that do express this ; sometimes, we must open 
when God knocks, Cant. v. ; we must enter when God opens, lest the 
door be shut against us, Mat. xxv. ; we must come forth when he bids 
us, as Lot out of Sodom, lest we perish : when a thing is done 
speedily and in season it is a great advantage. 

2. The more welcome to God the sooner we turn to him. We value 
a gift not only by its own worth, but by the readiness of him that 
gives; if we have it at first asking, we count it a greater kindness, 
and give the more thanks ; so the less we stand bucking with God, 
and demurring upon his call, the more acceptable is our obedience. 
Pharaoh did at length let Israel go, but was forced to it, and with 
much ado, no thanks to him. It is true indeed, if we turn at length 

1 Read ' James and John.' ED. 


seriously, heartily, we are accepted with God, but not so accepted as 
when we come in at first. Surely the fewer calls we withstand, the 
less we provoke God, and the more ready entertainment do we find. 
The spouse, that would not open at the first knock, but only at length, 
when her bowels were troubled, when she thought of her unkindness, 
then she went out to open to her beloved, but then her beloved was 
gone. You will not find God at your beck when you dally with him. 
Your comforts will cost you longer waiting for, when you make God 
wait for entrance, and would not give way to the work of his grace. 

3. You speed better, because your personal benefit is the greater, the 
sooner you turn to the Lord. You have more knowledge, more experi 
ence, you get more comfort, you would be more profitable to' others, 
more useful to God. If ever God touch your hearts, and once you 
come to experiment what an excellent thing it is to live in communion 
with God, you will be sorry you began no sooner. Paul complains 
that he was as a man ' born out of due time/ 1 Cor. xv. 8, and so had 
not the advantage of seeing Christ in the flesh, until he showed him 
self to him from heaven in the vision upon his conversion. You lose 
many a comfortable sight of Christ because you were so late acquainted 
with him. And it is said of Andronicus and Junius, Rom. xvi. 7, 
' they were in Christ before me.' Certainly he that is first in Christ, 
and sooner called to grace, hath the advantage of us. An early 
acquaintance with God gives us advantages both in point of enjoyment 
and service. In point of enjoyment ; peace, comfort, joy in the Holy 
Ghost. A man would not want these things, they are so valuable in 
themselves ; the want of them is an incomparable loss to us. Certainly 
they would have been much better than all those flesh-pleasing vani 
ties that you dote upon, and keep you from Christ. A man that hath 
for a long while wasted his time and strength in driving on a peddling 
trade, when he is acquainted with a more gainful course, Oh, saith 
he, that I had known this sooner ! so, none have any taste of the ways 
of God, but they will wish so; Oh, that I had sooner renounced my 
carnal delights, and betaken myself to the service of God ! 

Then advantages in point of service. What honour might we have 
brought to God, what good done to others, if we had begun sooner ! 
Oh, saith one, had I but the time to spend again which I trifled away 
in the devil's service ! What use might I have made of the vigour 
and freshness of my youth, and quickness of iny parts for God, and 
the large tract of time which I spent in sin and vanity ! Every day 
in a carnal state was a loss of opportunity of service, the glorifying of 
God, the great end for which you were made. 

Reas. 3. There is clanger and hazard in delay and putting off a 
business of such concernment, as conversion to God and his ways is, 
upon such uncertainties. For the understanding of the force of this 

1. Let us determine that this is a business of the greatest concern 
ment, and that will show us the folly of our delays, for certainly 
the greatest work should first be thought of. Now if you will believe 
the word of God, that will tell you the salvation of your souls should 
be your main care : Mat. vi. 33, ' Seek first the kingdom of God and 
his righteousness,' &c. ; Ps. xxvii. 4, ' One thing have I desired of the 


Lord, and that will I seek after/ &c. Whatever is neglected, this is 
a business that must he looked after. And Luke x. 42, ' One thing is 
needful.' Let us argue from these places. Certainly that which is 
necessary should be preferred before that which is superfluous. A 
man would take care to get meat rather than sauce, and would prefer 
his business before his recreation, that which is eternal before that 
which is temporal. It is not necessary we should be great and rich in 
the world. Within a little while it will not be a pin to choose what 
part we have acted here. But it is necessary we should be gracious, 
holy, and acquainted with God in Christ ; that is our business. Again, 
that which is eternal should be preferred before that which is temporal. 
You count him a fool that is very exact and careful to get his room in 
an inn furnished, when he neglects his house where his constant abode 
is. In the other world there is our long home ; and if all our care 
should be here for the present estate, where we tarry but for a night, 
but a little while, and neglect eternity, our everlasting happiness, that 
were a very great folly. That which is spiritual, which concerns our 
soul, should be preferred before that which is carnal and corporal, and 
only concerns the body, for the better part should have the most care. 
As for instance, a man that is wounded and cut through his clothes 
and skin and all, will sooner look to have the wound closed up in his 
body than the rent made up in his garment. So the distempers of the 
inward man should be first cured before we look after the outward 
man, which is as it were the garment and clothing, for these outward 
things shall be added. Here is your work, to please God, not satisfy 
the flesh. This is that which concerns us not only for a while but for 
ever, and concerns the inward man. This is the grand business of 
concernment ; therefore we should delay other things rather than 
delay the work of our salvation ; yet usually all other things have a 
quick despatch, and this only is neglected and lies by the wall. 

2. That this business of concernment is left upon great hazard and 

Jl.] Life is uncertain. He that does seriously consider the uncer 
tain shortness of the present life, how can he delay a moment, lest he 
be called home to God before his great errand for which he was sent 
into the world be done ? Many of you, when you seriously think of 
it, would not for a thousand worlds die the next day so unprovided, 
unfurnished with promises, evidences, experiences ; and yet it may be 
so that that may be the time when they shall be called home to God. 
This life is but ' a vapour,' James iv. 4, a little warm breath turned in 
and out by the nostrils, that is soon choked and stopped ; and ' thou 
knovvest not what will be on the morrow,' Prov. xxvii. 1. As that 
devout person said when he was invited to a meal the next day, to 
come to-morrow to a feast, I have not had a morrow for these many 
years. We have no security for the next day but our own word, and 
he that hath nothing but his own word to secure him is very weakly 
secured. Life is^short, and we make it shorter by continuing in sin. 
It is uncertain : if there were a fixed time and period wherein we knew 
our continuance should be in the world, then we should be tempted to 
wallow freely in our carnal lusts, and entertain sin a little longer, 
and put off repentance till hereafter. But God hath left life upon 

VER. GO.] SERMONS uros PSALM exix. 131) 

great uncertainties ; the hand of providence may soon crop you off, long 
before you come to your flower. None are nearer to destruction than 
those that promise themselves a longer time in sin : Luke xii. 19, 
' Thou hast goods laid up for many years,' but ' Thou fool, this night 
thy soul shall be required of thee.' God loves to disappoint secure 
careless souls that promise themselves a longer life without his leave ; 
he will break in upon a sudden. A poor careless sinner would fain 
keep his soul a little longer. No, it is demanded now : he doth not 
give it up, but it is taken away from him. Reason with thyself as 
Isaac, Gen. xxvii. 2 (I allude to it), ' Behold now I am old, I know 
not the day of my death ; make me savoury meats that my soul may 
bless thee before I die.' So reason, I have spent so much time in the 
world, and I know not the day of my dissolution, when God will call 
me home ; oh, let me go to God that he may bless me before I die ! 

[2.] You know not whether the means of grace shall be continued 
to you or no, and such affectionate offers and melting entreaties : Acts 
xiii. 46, 'Since you put away the word of God from you, you judge 
yourselvps unworthy of everlasting life.' God will not always wait upon 
a lingering sinner, but will take the denial and be gone. They judge 
themselves unworthy of that grace, they pass sentence upon themselves : 
2 Cor. vi. 1,2,' Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation : 
we beseech you receive not the grace of God in vain.' God hath his 
seasons, and when these are past, will not treat with us in such a mild 
affectionate manner. The means of grace are removed from a people by 
strange providences, when they have slighted the offers of grace : Luke 
xiii. 7, ' These three years I came seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find 
none : cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground ?' In that text there 
is (1.) God's righteous expectation, ' These three years I came seeking 
fruit.' He was the dresser of the vineyard; they were the three years of 
his ministry, as by a serious harmonising the evangelists will appear that 
he was just now entering upon his last half year they had his ministry 
among them. (2.) Their unthankful frustration, ' I find none,' nothing 
answerable to what means they enjoyed. (3.) God's terrible denuncia 
tion, ' Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground ?' God will root up 
a people, or remove the means ; and therefore will ye leave it upon such 
uncertainties ? 

[3.] There is an uncertainty of grace : 2 Tim. ii. 25, 'If God per- 
adventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the 
truth/ It is a mere hazard, it may be he will, it may be not. It is 
uncertain whether the Spirit of God will ever put in your heart a 
thought of turning to God again : Gen. vi. 3, ' My Spirit shall not 
always strive with man.' The Spirit of God strives for a long while, 
follows a sinner, casts in many an anxious thought, troubles and shakes 
him out of his carnal quiet and security, but this will not always last. 
Ah, Christians ! there are certain seasons, if we had the skill to take 
hold of them ; there is an appointed fixed time when God is nearer to 
us than at another time, and we shall never have our hearts at such an 
advantage : Isa. Iv. 6, ' Call upon him while he is near, and while he 
may be found.' There are certain seasons which are times of finding. 
Some are of opinion that there are certain seasons when a man may be 
rich if he will, when God ofifereth him an opportunity for an estate in 


the world, if he knew the time and how to take hold of it. Certainly 
to those that live under the means of grace there is a time of finding, 
when God is nearer to them than at another time, and therefore will 
you slip that, and leave it upon such great uncertainties ? 

[4.] There is an uncertainty in this ; we are not certain of having 
the use of our natural faculties ; we may lose our understandings by a 
stupid disease, and God may bring a judgment upon those that dally 
with him in the work of repentance. It is a usual judgment upon 
them that while they were alive did forget God, when they come to 
die, to forget themselves, and have not the free use of their reason, but, 
invaded with some stupid disease, die in their sins, and so pass into 
another world. 

Eeas. 4. The fourth reason is the great mischief of delay. 

1. The longer we delay the greater indisposition is there upon us to 
embrace the ways of God. Christians ! when we press you to holy 
things, to turn yourselves to the Lord, you begin to make some essay, 
and then are discouraged, and find it is hard and tedious to flesh and 
blood, and so you give over. Now mark, if it be hard to-day, it will 
be harder the next, so the third onward, for it is hardness of heart that 
makes the work of God hard. Now the more we provoke God, the 
more we resist his call, the more hard the heart is ; the impulsions of 
his grace are not so strong as before, and the heart every day is more 
hardened. As a pathweareth the harder by frequent treading, so the 
heart is more hard, the mind more blind, the will more obstinate, the 
affections more engaged and rooted in a course of sin : Jer. xiii. 23, 
' Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots ? then 
may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil/ Oh, to break off 
an inveterate custom is hard ! A plant newly set is more easily taken 
up than a plant that hath taken root. When we grow old and rotten 
in the way of sin, it will be much harder for us than now it is : the 
longer we lie soaking here in sin, the farther off from God. 

2. We provide the more discomfort for ourselves. Always the pro 
portion of our sorrow is according to the measure of our sins. Whether 
it be godly sorrow, the sorrow of repentance, or despairing sorrow, 
those horrors which are impressed upon us as a punishment of our 
rebellion and impenitency, in both senses you still increase your sorrow 
the more you sin. For the sorrow of repentance, it is clear that sorrow 
must carry proportion with our offences. She that had much for 
given wept much. Certainly it will cost you the more tears, a greater 
humbling before God, the longer you continue in a course of sin 
against him. And for the sorrow of punishment, you are ' treasuring 
up wrath against the day of wrath,' Rom. ii. 5. Your burden will be 
greater and more increased upon you. It is too heavy for your 
shoulders already to bear ; why should we add to the weight of it ? 
Either our sorrow of repentance will be greater, or the anxious sense 
of our punishment ; for in both God observes, and God requires a 

3. Consider how unfit we shall be for God's service if we delay a 
little longer, when our strength is spent, and vigour of youth exhausted ; 
when our ears grow deaf, eyes dim, understanding dull, affections 
spent, memory lost. Is this a time to begin with God, and to look 

VER. 60.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 141 

after the business of our souls ? Certainly he that made all, that was 
our Creator, deserves the flower of our strength, Eccles. xii. 1. When 
the tackling is spoiled and ship rotten, is that a time to put to sea ? 
or rather when the ship is new built ? Shall the devil feast upon the 
flower and freshness of your youth, and God only have the scraps and 
fragments of the devil's table ? When we are good for nothing else, 
then to think we are good enough for God and the business of religion, 
which requires all our might and all our strength, when we are 
spent, is it a time to begin our warfare, or in our youth ? 

4. There is this, the just suspicion which is upon a late repentance ; 
it is seldom sound ; it is no true repentance which ariseth merely from 
horror and fear of hell. It may be but the beginnings of everlasting 
despair, and their desires may be but offers of self-love after their 
own ease. All men seek the Lord at length, but wise men seek him 
betimes. The difference is made on some in time, on others out of 
time, upon their death-beds. The most profane would have God for 
their portion when they can sin no more, and enjoy the world no 
longer. >How can we tell this is a sound work ? It seems to be a 
very questionable thing, merely proceeding from self-love and natural 
desires of happiness in all men. When we begin with God, we begin 
out of self-love, we come- for our ease and interest, that we may be safe 
and happy ; afterwards we come to a delight of spirit in his service, 
and having opportunity, show in our works the power of our affection 
to God, and manifest the soundness of our conversion. It is possible 
a death-bed repentance may be true, but it is very doubtful. There is 
but one instance, which is that of the thief upon the cross. The scrip 
tures are a history of five thousand years ; yet all that while we have 
but one instance of a man that repented when he came to die ; and in 
that one instance there is an extraordinary conjunction of circum 
stances, such as will never fall out again. Christ was at the thief's 
right hand, in the height of his love, drawing sinners to salvation ; and 
probably this man had never any such call till then. Some may at the 
eleventh hour be converted, because they were not called till then. 
Every one came when they were called. Therefore, there being so 
great and just a suspicion that lies against a late repentance, cer 
tainly we should not delay. 

Reas. 5. The reasons for delay are very inconsiderable. Solomon 
saith, Prov. xxvi. 16, that ' the sluggard thinks himself wiser than 
seven men that can render a reason.' Mark, as Solomon's fool is not 
to be taken literally, but spiritually, so Solomon's sluggard is not to 
be taken morally, but spiritually. They that are sluggish and slow of 
heart in the things of God, they think they have a great deal of reason 
on their side, and will not be persuaded on the contrary but they shall 
do well enough for all that ; and they can argue against the calls and 
injunctions of God. Yet how little can they say for themselves ! See 
what reasons may be said for delay ; I mean not that they plead and 
argue, but it is -that which sways them, that which lies next the heart 
is this ; why they keep off from God, and are satisfied with their pre 
sent estate. 

1 . The pleasures of sin are sweet, and they are loath to forego them, 
and to engage their souls in the severities of a strict obedience. Here 


is the bottom reason, this is, that which sways them. I will not speak 
to this plea as it lies against conversion itself, but only as it makes men 
to delay. If I were to plead for conversion itself, I would tell these 
carnalists of higher pleasure ; that their delights shall not be abrogated, 
but preserved; their delight shall be transplanted from Egypt to 
Canaan, that it may thrive and prosper in a happier soil ; that they 
may have purer contentments, and those chaste and happy satisfactions- 
of enjoying communion with God. But I shall only deal with them 
as it relates to the delay of conversion. Therefore I thus argue : These 
pleasures of sin must one day be renounced, or you are for ever miser 
able ; and if you must one day, why not now ? For mark, sin will be 
as sweet hereafter as it now is, and salvation is always dispensed upon 
the same terms ; you cannot be saved hereafter with less ado, or bring 
down Christ and heaven to a lower rate ; and, therefore, if this be a- 
reason now, it will ever lie as a reason against Christ and religion, 
then you will never tend to look after the ways of life ; if you are loath 
to part with sin now, you will never part with it. The laws of 
Christianity are always the same. God will not bate you anything of 
repentance, and your heart is not like to be better, but worse, that is the 
sum of it ; and therefore this reason signifies nothing when it conies to 
be tried in the balance of the sanctuary, and yet this is the main reason. 

2. They can plead other things ; hope God will be merciful to them 
hereafter ; though they indulge themselves a little longer in sin, he will 
at length save them. I answer You cannot bend his mercy and make 
it save ; it is a mere uncertainty, peradventure he will, perad venture 
not. Would you take poison, out of hope that afterward you may meet 
with an antidote ? And this is the very case between God and us. 
I answer further There are shrewd suspicions that God will not be 
merciful to those that run such a desperate adventure ; for whoever 
delays his repentance doth in effect pawn his soul with the devil, and 
leaves it in his hands, and says, Here, Satan, keep my soul ; if I fetch it 
not again by such a day, it is thine for ever : and can you think mercy 
will bring it out ? Again, there are great causes of fear, because there 
is such a thing as judicial hardness of heart, by a sentence of obdura- 
tion. There are some that God gives up to their own ways and 
counsels, and God inflicts this sentence upon those that continue in 
sin, notwithstanding conviction of their hearts to the contrary : Prov. 
i. 25, 26, ' Ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of 
my reproof : I will also laugh at your calamity, and mock when your 
fear cometh.' There are thousands in hell merely upon this account, 
that have forfeited the benefit of God's mercy, and tenders of his grace, 
and have been shut up by hardness of heart, by God's sentence of 
obduration; the most dreadful punishment that can light upon a 
creature on this side hell. 

3. Ay ! but we are willing, and would turn to the Lord now, but we 
have no leisure, and have not those conveniences that we shall have here 
after, for then we shall get things into a better frame and posture. Oh, 
no ; it is mere hypocrisy to thinkyouare willing when you delay, for there 
is nothing hinders but a want of will, and a loathness to comply with 
the commands of God. When we dare not flatly deny, then we delay. 
Non vacat, that is the sinner's plea, I am not at leisure ; but non placet, 


there is the reality. Mat. xxii. 7, they which were invited to the wed 
ding varnished their denial over with an excuse. Delay is a denial, for if 
they were willing there would be no excuse. To be rid of importunate 
and troublesome creditors, we promise them payment another time, and 
we know our estate will be more wasted by that time ; it is but to put 
them off: so this delay and putting off God is but a shift. Here is the 
misery, God always comes unseasonably to a carnal heart. It was the 
devils that said, Mat. viii. 29, 'Art thou come to torment us before our 
time ? ' Good things are a torment to a carnal heart, and they always 
come out of time. Certainly that is the best time when the word is 
pressed upon the heart with evidence, light, and power, and when God 
treats with thee about thine eternal peace. 

Reas. 6. There are very urgent reasons to quicken us to make haste. 

1. The state wherein we are at present is so bad and dangerous that 
we can never soon enough come out of it. The state of a man in his 
carnal condition is compared in scripture to a prison : Rom. xi. 32, ' God 
hath concluded or shut them all up in unbelief.' And mark, it is a 
prison that is all on fire. Oh, when poor captives are bolted and shut 
up in a flaming prison, how will they run hither and thither to get out ! 
So should we run and strive to get out of this flaming prison. You 
cannot be too soon out of the power of the devil, or from under the curse 
of the law, the danger of hell-fire, and the dominion of sin: Mat. iii. 7, 
' Who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come ? ' He doth 
not say, to go, nor to run, but to flee. Fleeing from wrath to come, that 
is the truest motion. And so Heb. vi. 18 ; they which had the avenger 
of blood at their heels fled for refuge to take hold of the hope set be 
fore them. If there be poison in our bowels we think we can never 
soon enough cast it out. If fire hath taken hold of a building, we do 
not say we will quench it hereafter, the next week, or next month, but 
think we can never soon enough quench it Or if there be a wound in 
the body, we do not let it alone till it fester and rankle. Christians, 
you may apply all this to the present case ; here the danger is greater. 
There is no poison so deadly as sin, which hath infected all mankind : 
no wound so dangerous, for that will be the death of body and soul : 
no fire so dreadful as the wrath of God; therefore we cannot soon enough 
come out of this condition. 

2. We cannot be happy soon enough, for the state we make after is 
the arms of God, the bosom of Jesus, the hope of eternal life; we can 
not soon enough get within the compass of such privileges. Oh ! shall 
Christ lie by as a dead commodity or breaded l ware ? It shows we 
know not the gift of God, John iv. If we had a due sense and value 
of his excellency, we would take the morning market, and let not Christ 
Jesus, with all his benefits, lie by as a commodity that may be had at 
the last, at any time of the day ; we would look upon him as the 
quickest ware in the market, and flock to him ' as doves to the windows,' 
Isa. Ix. 8. You would force your way that you might get into his 
heart ; you would count all things but dross and dung that you might 
gain him. It will be sweet to be encircled in the embraces of Jesus 
Christ, to have ' his left hand under your head, and his right hand to 
embrace you," Cant ii. 6 ; and will you delay when he stands oiler- 
ing himself, and stretching out his hand all the day long to receive you ? 

1 QII. 'braided,' that is, scorned, reproached ; whence, upbraid ? ED. 


/ made haste, and delayed not to keep iliy commandments. VER. 60. 

I COME now to the application. 

Use 1. To reprove the dallying with God which we are conscious 
to in the work of conversion, which is so common and natural to us. 
We are apt to put off God from time to time, from childhood to youth, 
from youth to man's age, from man's age to old age, and from old age 
to death-bed ; and so the devil steals away one hour after another till 
all time be past. 

I shall (1.) Speak of the causes of this delay ; (2.) Eepresent the 
heinousness of it, that you may not stroke this sin with a gentle cen 
sure, and think lightly of the matter. 

First, Of the causes of this delay. 

1. Unbelief, or want of a due sense or sight of things to come. If 
men were persuaded of eternal life and eternal death, they would not 
stand hovering so long between heaven and hell, but presently engage 
their hearts to draw nigh to God. But we ' cannot see afar off/ 2 Peter 
i. 9. Nature is purblind : to carnal hearts there is a mist upon eter 
nity, they have no prospective whereby to look into another world, 
therefore it hath no influence upon them to quicken them to more 
speed and earnestness. If we had a due sense of eternal death, surely 
we would be fleeing from wrath to come ; no motion should be earnest 
and swift enough to get from such a danger. If we had a due sense 
of eternal life, we would be * running to take hold of the hope that is 
before us,' Heb. vi. 18. 

2. Security. If men have a cold belief of heaven and hell, if they 
take up the current opinions of the country, yet do not take it into their 
serious thoughts, they ' put far away the evil day,' Amos vi. 3. Things 
at a distance do not startle us, as a clap of thunder afar off doth not 
fright us so much as when it is just over our heads in our own zenith. 
We look upon these things as to come, so put off the thought of them. 
Next to a want of sound belief, the want of a serious consideration is 
the cause why men dally with God. If we had the same thoughts 
living and dying, our motions would be more earnest and ready. 
When death and eternity is near, we are otherwise affected than when 
we look upon it as afar off. One said of a zealous preacher, He 
preacheth as if death were at my back. Oh, could we look upon death 
as at our back or heels ! If men did but consider that within a few 
days they must go to heaven or hell, that there is but the slender 
thread of a frail life upon which they depend, that is soon fretted asun 
der, they would not venture any longer to be out of a state of grace, nor 
dally with God. But we think we may live long, and time enough to 
repent by leisure ; we put far off the day of our change, and so are 
undone by our own security. 

3. Averseness of heart from God. That which makes us desirous 
to stay longer in a way of sin, doth indeed make us loath to turn at 
all ; and what is that ? Obstinacy and unsubjection of heart to God : 
' The carnal mind is enmity to the law of God,' Rom. viii. 7. We 

VER. 60.] SKKMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 145 

manifest our enmity to the law of God by delays as well as by a down 
right opposition. Neh. iv. 6, it is said the work went on speedily. 
Why ? ' For the people had a mind to the work.' Where there is an 
earnest bent of heart, there we cannot linger and dally any longer. 
But men have no love nor affection to God, therefore do they delay 
und keep off from him. 

4. The love of the world rooted in us, the love of present delights 
and present contentments. This is so deeply rooted in our nature, that 
here we stick, and are loath to come off kindly to the work of God. In 
Mat. xxii., when they were invited to the marriage-feast of the king's 
son, that is, to the privileges of the gospel, what did they plead ? The 
farm, oxen, merchandise, and one had married a wife ; they were loath 
to be divorced from their dearest lusts, and to renounce the satisfaction 
which they had in carnal things, that so they might walk with God in 
a way of strict obedience. 

Secondly, Let me represent the heinousness of it. Because we are apt 
to stroke it with a gentle censure, and to speak of this with soft words, 
let us see what this delay and putting off God is, when he comes with 
a great deal of importunity and affectionate earnestness, inviting us to 
partake of his grace. 

1. It is flat disobedience to God. You think it is but putting it off 
for a while ; no, it is flat disobedience. Why ? God is as peremp 
tory for the time and season as he is for the duty itself. God doth 
not only say, Turn to me, but, To-day, ' even while it is called to-day, 
harden not your hearts,' Heb. iii. 7, 8. The Lord deals with us as the 
Eoman ambassador dealt with Antiochus, when he was shifting and 
putting off the matter, that he might not give a direct answer to the 
Romans. The ambassador draws a circle round about him, saith he, 
Intra hunc, Let me have an answer before thou passest from hence. 
So God will not only have an answer, but a present answer. If he 
saith, To-day, it is flat disobedience for you to say, To-morrow. He 
saith, Now is the time of salvation. We are charged in his name and 
by his authority to do it now, in this instant. 

2. It is ingratitude and unthankf ulness for God's eternal love : Ps. 
ciii. 17, ' From everlasting to everlasting thy loving-kindness is great to 
them that fear thee.' From all eternity God was mindful of us, and 
before the world was. With reverence we may speak it : ever since 
he was God he was our God : from eternity to eternity his loving- 
kindness is great ; and shall we adjourn and put him off to an odd 
corner of our lives, when he thought he could never soon enough think 
of us ? Shall the whole duration of God be taken up by his love to 
us, and shall we be content to grieve the Spirit of God, and trample 
his laws under our feet for all this ? Can you have hearts to abuse 
such a God, and to deal so unkindly with him ? 

3. It is base disingenuity : we do not deal with God as we would 
have God to deal with us. If we have any business or errand at the 
throne of grace, we would be heard presently, and are ready to com 
plain if we have not a quick despatch : Ps. cii. 2, ' Lord, hear me 
speedily.' Here is our language when praying for any relief we stand 
in need of. To-day is a season for mercy, but to-morrow we make 
always to be the season for duty. We would have God to tarry our 



sinful leisure, till the heat of our lusts be spent, and fervours of youth 
be abated ; yet we will not tarry his holy leisure. We are bound, but 
the Lord is free whether he will answer us or no ; yet we murmur if 
God come not in at our beck. We are always in haste if in any dan 
ger and want any relief ; we cry, How long ? And shall God stand 
waiting till we turn from our evil ways ? If any cry, How long? God 
may, as he doth Jer. xiii. 27, ' When shall it once be ?' 

4. It is base self-love when we can be content to dishonour God 
longer, provided that at length we may be saved. Shall I say that this 
is to prefer our salvation before God ? No, but it is to prefer our sins 
before God. And it shows that we are not willing to part with sin 
upon reasons of duty, or any real inclination of heart towards God, but 
only upon reasons of interest, that we maybe saved; yea, never to part 
with it at all if you might have your wills. Not but that a man may 
and ought to eye rewards and punishments. It is part of the exercise 
of our faith to eye the reward, and also to eye the punishment ; but 
this manifests an inordinate respect to the reward when we would en 
joy our personal happiness, and so that be obtained at length, we 
care not how God be disobeyed and dishonoured. You do but in effect 
say to God thus, Let me despise thy commands, and abuse thy mer 
cies a little longer ; then I will look after my salvation, when my lusts 
are satisfied. This is base self-love. Christ did not redeem us only 
that we might die well, but that we might live well ; not only that we 
might be safe at last, but glorify God here upon earth ; not only that 
we might enter into heaven, but do him service, and that all our days : 
Luke i. 74, ' Being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, we might- 
serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness, all the days of 
our life.' 

5. It is great injustice and injury to God, who hath been too long 
kept out of his right already. Oh, look back ! How ungratefully have 
you spent all your former time! Too much time hath been spent 
already, and you would delay longer : 1 Peter iv. 3, ' The time past 
may more than suffice to have wrought the will of the Gentiles,' &c. 
It is enough, and should be more than enough, and now you should 
not stay a moment. As those that have delayed their journey, when 
they begin and set out, mend their pace that they may redeem their 
time and accomplish their journey ; so should we, for the time past is 
more than enough to be spent in worldly vanity and carnal excess : 
Horn. xiii. 11-14, ' It is high time to awake out of sin.' God hath 
been encroached upon for a long time, and that should and will be a 
grief of heart to you, that you have not all this while acknowledged 
or paid your debt to your lord. The thought of this should prevail with 
us the more, because the payment of a debt to a man should not be 
delayed, to put off a poor man till to-morrow ' when thou hast it by 
thee/ Prov. iii. 28 ; and the wages of a servant should not abide with 
us, Lev. xix. 13. We are not to defraud a poor servant, nor to delay 
him, but to make him quick payment ; and shall we defraud our 
great Creator of the debt we owe to him, and put him off from day 
to day ? 

Use 2. To exhort us with speed to turn to the Lord, and to comply 
with his motions. Let us not put off God from day to day. I shall 


urge it (1.) As to the general case; (2.) As to particular duties which 
are pressed upon you. 

First, As to the general case. Oh ! go and bethink yourselves, how 
do matters stand between God and thy soul ? Debate it seriously, 
that if you have neglected God and his salvation already, you may now 
turn to him without delay. Let me press you further. 

1. You can never part with sin soon enough ; it is a cursed inmate, 
that will surely bring mischief upon the soul that harbours it. It will 
set its own dwelling on fire. If there be a mote in the eye, a thorn in 
the foot, we take them out without delay ; and is not sin a greater 
mischief, and sooner to be looked into and parted with ? Certainly 
the evil of sin is greater than all evil, and hereafter the trouble will be 
greater ; therefore we can never soon enough part with it. 

2. Let this move you : sin must have a quick despatch, and shall 
not God ? It would defeat temptations if we would but delay them, 
it would stop the furies of anger, and suppress the motions of lust. 
Augustus the emperor advised those who were angry to repeat the 
Greek alphabet, meaning that they might take time to consider. So 
for uncleanness and other sins ; if the practice and execution of many 
lusts were but delayed, we would not be so frequent in them as we are, 
to the dishonour of God and scandal of religion. Prov. vii. 22, it is 
said of the young man enticed by the harlot, that ' forthwith he went 
after her.' When our lusts are agog, all the checks of conscience and 
persuasions of the word will not prevail for a little respite. Now, 
shall sin have a more ready entertainment than God ? "Will you rush 
upon the practice of sin like a horse into the battle, and come on in 
the service of God like a snail ? Will you be so eager and passionate 
upon the impulsion of every lust, and so hardly be entreated by the 
Spirit of God and by the word of God ? 

3. If you be not ready, God is ready. How ready is he, on the one 
hand, to receive you, and, on the other hand, to punish you ! The 
one quickens us by hope, and the other by fear. For the consideration 
which works upon hope, God is ready : Mat. xxii. 4, 5, ' Come to the 
wedding, all things are ready.' He hath a Christ ready to receive you, 
a Spirit ready to sanctify and cure all your soul distempers ; he hath 
pardoning mercy to forgive all your sins, he hath power of grace to 
remedy all your distempers ; and will not you be ready ? Luke xv. 
20, the prodigal said, ' I will go to my father.' Mark his language, 
' I will go;' the father ran. When we do but relent, and with broken- 
ness of heart come and lie at the feet of God, love's pace is very swift, 
and runs to snatch us out of the fire ; therefore will you not be ready 
to cast yourselves into the arms of his compassion ? Cant. ii. 8, Christ 
is represented as ' leaping upon the mountains, and skipping upon the 
hills.' Christ thinks he can never be soon and early enough with a 
returning sinner, to revive a poor broken-hearted sinner ; therefore, if 
God be so ready, so should you. On the other side, to work upon your 
fear, if you delay, God is ready to punish you. The wrath of God 
hangs over your heads like a sharp sword by a slender thread, and will 
you sit still and keep your place ? ' The judge is at the door ; ' he 
is ready to judge, James v. 9. Are you ready to be judged ? God is 
ready to condemn, to execute, and are not you ready to implore mercy, to 


seek the Lord's favour ? ready to fall flat, and beg terms of grace in 
and through Christ Jesus ? Rahab, when the Lord had by his mes 
sengers threatened destruction to Jericho, only Eahab's house was to 
be safe. She hanged out a scarlet thread ere the spies were departed, 
Josh. ii. ; she did not delay till the army came and the city was sur 
prised. When the Lord is marching against sinners with vengeance 
and fury, you cannot come soon enough to God to prevent it, Luke xiv. 
32. That king that had twenty thousand marching against him, doth 
not stay till they were in his quarters, but while the other is yet a 
great way off, he sendeth an embassage, and desireth conditions of 
peace. God is ready to execute all his vengeance and curses of the 
law ; therefore, while you may, seek conditions of peace. You have 
been spared long ; it may be for the next sin you may pay for all. A 
thief that hath long escaped, when he is taken at length, all his villany 
is recompensed into his bosom ; if he had not stolen the last time, he 
had escaped. God hath spared you hitherto ; it may be upon the next 
sin he will strike you, and hold his hands no longer. If God now 
strike, in what a woful case would you be ? 

4. There was never any that came to God too soon ; many have 
come too late, the foolish virgins are an instance. When they brought 
little children to Christ, Christ received them. There are none so 
little but the great God can form and fashion them into a temple for 
himself. Usually God chooseth his people from among the youth. 
There may be some converted in old age, but few ; usually it is in our 
youth, or as soon as we come to our maturity. Reason thus : I may 
be too late, I cannot be too early ; let me no longer dally with God. 

Secondly, As to the particular duties which are pressed upon you, 
let me caution you and direct you. 

1. By way of caution. 

[1.] When you have any stirrings of heart, any anxious thoughts 
about your eternal condition, beware you do not believe the devil, that 
hereafter will be a more convenient season. I shall give directions 
suitable to the grand enemies of our salvation, the devil, the world, 
and the flesh, Now, do not believe the devil. This was Felix's case. 
Paul was reasoning of justice and temperance, graces that he was little 
acquainted withal, and Paul quickens all by a remembrance of judg 
ment to come, and then Felix trembled. But how doth he put off 
this heart-work ? Hereafter we shall have ' a more convenient season/ 
Acts xxiv. 25. Oh ! never will it be better with you than now when 
the waters are stirred. Still there is something in the sinner's way 
when God hath any business for him. When young, we want wisdom; 
when old, we want strength; in the middle of business, we want 
leisure ; in the midst of leisure, we are corrupted and want a heart. 
We are lazy, and then every molehill seems a mountain. Remember, 
if the devil can but get us to delay, he hath us fast enough. If he can 
but get us to put it off to-day, then to-morrow, then the next day, 
shall be as that. Austin, when he had conviction upon him, he prays 
from his conscience, Lord, mortify my lusts, but not yet. Satan's 
morrow will never come. There is no end of delays. He tells you of 
to-morrow and another season, but that season will never come. 

[2.] Let not the world choke the word. It is notable the choking 

VER. 60.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 149 

the good seed which was scattered among thorns. Christ expounds it 
of the world. Now what of the world choketh it ? Mat. xiii. 22, he 
instanceth in ' the cares of the world ; ' and Luke instanceth in ' the 
pleasures of this life ; ' he adds ' voluptuous living,' Luke viii. 14 ; and 
Mark hath it more generally, ' the cares of this life/ Mark iv. 19 ; ' and 
the lusts of other things choke the word.' The meaning of all those 
places is this : Many a man hath some beams of light darted into his 
bosom, and he begins to have serious and anxious thoughts of his 
eternal condition. Ay ! but then the pleasures and cares of the world 
interpose, and they must be first served, and so the conviction is lost. 
Sometimes a man is full of business, and cannot attend to carrying on 
this work ; at other times he is loath to forego his voluptuous course ; 
there is some sport he must attend upon, and so the word is lost 
When you have conviction upon you, you are under God's arrest; 
when you go and get out of the chains of conscience without God's 
leave, you break prison. All business must give way to your great 
business, and follow that close till you come to some issue : Mat. viii. 
21, ' Follow me,' saith Christ. ' Suffer me first to go bury my father.' 
' Nay,' saith Christ, ' let the dead bury the dead, but do thou follow 
me/ How specious soever the work be, we must call off our souls. 
Let not these beams of conviction which are darted into your bosom 
be quenched. 

[3.] Consult not with the flesh, as a friend in the case, when your 
heart begins to work towards God: Gal. i. 16, ' Immediately I con 
sulted not with flesh and blood.' It is notable the word signifies to 
lay down a burden, to lay down our cares and difficulties in a friend's 
bosom. When a man hath any trouble upon him he communicates 
it to his friend. Now, you have a burden upon you, you begin to be 
sensible you are in a wrong course, and must turn to God. Do not 
lay down your burdens in the flesh's bosom ; they will tell you this is 
but a pang and melancholy qualm, and would furnish you with a great 
many seeming reasons to put it off, frivolous excuses, slothful pre 
tences, carnal fears, and idle allegations ; therefore consult not with 
the flesh as with a friend in the case. 

[4.] Be not discouraged with tediousness and difficulty, which, upon 
a trial, you will find in the ways of God. Many that carry on their 
convictions to a resolution, and their good resolutions to some per 
formance, when they find it to be a difficult and tedious business, a 
thing that is irksome to the flesh, they throw up all, and there is an 
end of the conviction that was upon them. A bullock at first yoking 
is most unruly until he be accustomed to it ; so afterwards duty will 
be more sweet and easy : if you will but take Christ's yoke upon trial, 
you shall find it is a sweet yoke, Mat. xi. 29. And remember, diffi 
culties in the service of God should rather excite than discourage. 
Will you serve God with that which cost you nothing ? Will you 
think to go to heaven, and not enter in at the strait gate ? Remember, 
this is one of our waymarks. Counterbalance difficulty with reward, 
and punishment and pains of duty with the pains of hell, the pleasure 
of sin with the reward of eternal life : urge your souls with the 
equity in Christ's ways, and the filthiness and turpitude in those sinful 


[5.] If you have discouragements from God, and he seems to with 
draw or withhold his grace, remember he is not at your beck : if he 
gives nothing he oweth nothing. If he should not give present com 
fort, strength, and help, usually it may be so for your trial. We are 
never brought to a thorough obedience until we come to this resolu 
tion : Let God do what he will, I will do what he hath commanded ; 
till we yield to God's sovereignty, and venture through his denials 
and the suspensions of his grace. As the woman of Canaan, he first 
answereth her not a word ; when he answers, his speech is more dis 
couraging than his silence, ' It is not meet to take the children's bread 
and give it to dogs.' She ventures through all these discouragements. 
Christ yields at length : ' woman, great is thy faith ; be it unto thee 
as thou wilt.' God will bring his creatures to such a thorough obed 
ience. You may have no visits of his love, no beam of his grace ; 
though you meet with a dumb oracle, and he seems to cast you off, 
and you have many fears, yet venture through with a holy obstinacy 
that you will not give over ; as Job xiii. 15, ' Though he kill me, yet 
will I put my trust in him.' When you follow God with such an 
obstinacy of obedience, though he should appear never so contrary, 
yet we will encourage ourselves in waiting upon him. Thus be severe 
to your purpose. 

2. For positive directions. 

[1.] Observe the call of God. There are certain seasons when God 
more especially doth approach the heart of a sinner, when Christ 
knocks : Kev. iii. 20, ' Behold, I stand at the door and knock.' How 
doth Christ knock ? By the motions of his grace, when the word sets 
conscience awork. One time or other God meets with the heart of 
every man that lives under the gospel, so that his conscience tells him, 
I must be another man, or I am an undone man for ever. Then 
Christ knocks when conscience is thus set awork ; when the waters 
are stirred, then is the time to put in for cure. Now observe this, that 
you may welcome the authority of his truth. To resist Christ in this 
work is a dangerous thing. For a woman to destroy the child in the 
womb is murder ; so to resist Christ in this work that is going on 
towards the new birth is spiritual murder. 

[2.] Be sure this work come to some effect. To stifle convictions, 
that is very dangerous. There is no iron so hard as that which hath 
been often heated and often quenched ; so no hearts so hard as those 
that have had many convictions and have quenched them : 1 Thes. v. 
19, ' Quench not the Spirit.' You have great qualms of conscience. 
Felix he trembles ; ay ! but it came to nothing. Many men's hearts 
are roused, but it does no good. A man that sleeps upon a bridge 
may dream that he is falling into the water, and so dream that he 
may shake every limb of him, and so shake and tremble that he may 
cry out in his sleep. Ay ! but the man doth not awake, and rouse up 
that he may avoid the danger. So the word of God may work so far 
that they begin to fear they are even dropping into the pit; they have 
anxious thoughts about their eternal condition, but still they sleep till 
their security overcome their fear, and so this work comes to nothing. 
And therefore, be not contented to have some motions upon thy soul 
now and then, some involuntary impressions, but see what they come 

VER. 60.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 151 

to: Eph. v. 14, ' Awake, tliou that sleepest,' <fec. When Christ hath 
awakened thee, and thou beginnest to be startled in the sleep of thy 
security, rouse up thyself and be serious. 

[3.J Actuate thy thoughts by a sound belief and application of 
eternity, that you may not lose your convictions. First by a belief, and 
then by an application. This is that which doth actuate and enliven 
all those truths that set on the work of God. First, by a belief of eter 
nity. Surely there is good and evil, there is hope and fear, therefore 
there is heaven and hell. Say, there are two states, a state of nature 
and a state of grace ; and these two states have respect to two cove 
nants a covenant of works, that worketh bondage, and binds me over 
to punishment, and a covenant of grace-; and both these do issue 
themselves at length into heaven and hell. This is the great sum of 
our religion. And conscience and reason will tell me there is a world 
to come ; there must be a time when God will deal more severely with 
sinners than he doth in the present life. Enliven your thoughts by 
strengthening your belief of eternity, for this is that which doth set 
home all the exhortations of his word, and.which makes our thoughts 
serious. And then, secondly, by a serious application of these things 
to yourselves. If you would have these hopes, apply the offer of heaven 
to work upon your hope, and the commination of hell to work upon 
your fear. The offer of heaven: If I would be blessed in Christ, 
surely I must mend my course. Now, Acts iii. 26, ' He hath sent him 
to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.' 
When there is an offer that comes in with power upon the heart, then 
Christ is sent to turn me from my sins, that I may be the inheritor 
of an everlasting blessing ; and shall I not let go my sins ? I have 
often flattered myself with this, Sure I am willing to be saved ; but I 
cannot be saved if I live in my sins, otherwise I am no more willing 
to be saved than the devils, for they are willing to be saved from the 
wrath of God for ever. A creature is willing to be eased of his tor 
ment, and every one would have eternal life : Evermore give me this 
life. Now, let Christ do his work to turn you from your sins. So by 
working upon your fear : Here God hath threatened me with eternal 
damnation if I do not hearken. Now scourge thy soul with that smart 
question, Heb. ii. 3, ' How shall I escape if I neglect so great salva 
tion ?' How shall I escape the damnation of hell if I turn back upon 
his offer, if I deal slightly with God in a business which so nearly 
concerns my soul ? 

[4.] Issue forth a practical decree for God in the soul. When the 
heart is backward, we have no remedy left but to decree for God. 
David makes a decree in the court of conscience : Ps. xxxii. 5, ' 1 said, 
I will confess my sins unto the Lord.' I said, I determined, I would 
go and lie at God's foot, and humble myself; so I said set down a 
resolution which shall be like the laws of the Medes and Persians, never 
to be reversed that thou wilt for this present and ever hereafter wait 
upon the means, and give way to the work of God upon thy soul ; resolve 
that you will go and lie at God's feet, and say, ' Lord, turn me : I am 
as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke/ Jer. xxxi. 18. thou hast 
forbidden me to despair, and commanded thy creature to come to thee 
for grace here I cast myself at the footstool of thy mercy; and 


resolve you will keep up your endeavours in all the means of grace in 
hearing the word, prayer, &c. Though no sensible comfort comes, 
yet in obedience perform holy duties : ' At thy command,' says Peter, 
' I will cast out the net,' Luke v. 5. Be diligent and frequent in 
waiting upon God, and look with more seriousness and earnestness of 
soul after the business of eternal life. 


The bands of the wicked have robbed me : but I have not forgotten 

thy law. VER. 61. 
IN the words observe 

1. David's trial. 

2. His constancy under that trial. 

1. His trial is set forth by two things : 

1.] The persons from whom it came, the bands of the wicked. 

2. The evil done him, have robbed me. 

1." The persons, ' The bands 73H of the wicked.' birr signifieth- 
a cord, and also a troop or company, not of soldiers only, but others : 
1 Sam. x. 5, ' Thou shalt meet a company or troop of prophets ; ' it is 
the same word. Those that interpret it cords or ropes, understand it 
some one way, some another. Aben Ezra, the griefs and sorrows pre 
pared for the wicked have taken hold of me, and parallels it with Ps. 
cxvi. 3, ' The sorrows of death compassed me, the pains of hell gat 
hold of me.' Others understand it of the snares the wicked laid for 
him. But the word is better translated by the Chaldee paraphrase, 
catervce, the bands ; in our old translation, ' The congregations of the 
wicked : ' he meaneth the multitude of his enemies leaguing together 
against him. 

[2.] The evil done him, they ' have robbed me.' A man may 
suffer in his name by slander, in his dwelling by his exile, in his 
liberty by imprisonment, in limbs or life by torture and execution, in 
his estate by fine and confiscation. Many are the troubles of the 
righteous ; this last is here intended. There are the depredations of 
thieves and robbers, but they do not spoil for religion's sake, but the 
supply of their lusts ; the plunderings of soldiers by the license of war, 
when laws cease, so men are robbed or have their goods taken from 
them by violence ; or else it may be by pretence of law, by fine and 
confiscation, as it is said: Acts viii. 3, 'Saul made havoc of the 
churches, and entering into every house, haling men, committed them 
to prison ; ' Acts ix. 1, ' Saul, breathing out threatenings and slaughter 
against the disciples, desires letters of the high priest, that if he found 
any of this way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound 
to Jerusalem.' At that time the favourers of the gospel suffered much 
rapine and spoil of goods. Applying it to David's case, some think it 
fulfilled when the Amalekites spoiled Ziklag, 1 Sam. xxx., and took 
the women captives, and the spoil of the city. Some understand it of 
the time when Absalom and his party rifled his house and defiled his- 
concubines, 2 Sam. xv. 

VER. 61.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 153 

2. His constancy. No calamity had wrought upon him so far as to 
forsake God's truth, or go against his conscience in anything. 

Docl. That no temporal loss which can accrue to us by the violence 
of evil men should make us forsake our duty to God. 

1. That this temptation may be greater or less as it is circum 
stantiated. It is here represented by David by this word, the bands 
or the troops of the wicked, which implieth 

[1.] Their multitudes. One froward wicked man may do much 
harm in his neighbourhood, as there are some whom God reserveth as 
scourges to his people and goads and thorns to their sides ; but when 
many rise up against us, the temptation is the greater: Ps. iii. 1, 
'Lord, how are they increased which trouble me? many are they 
which rise up against me.' The sincere are but few themselves, and 
they have many enemies: 1 John v. 19, 'We know that we are of 
God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.' There was a whole 
world against a handful of Christians, but we must not ' follow a mul 
titude to do evil.' 

[2.] Their confederacy, ' The bands of the wicked : ' Ps. Ixxxiii. 
5-7, ' They have consulted together with one consent, they are con 
federate against thee, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek.' Though the wicked 
be at enmity one with another, yet they will all agree to destroy the 
people of God. 

[3.] These were set on mischief; for the bands of the wicked are 
spoken of here as a society opposite to that which is spoken of after 
wards, ver. 63, ' I am a companion of them that fear thee, and of them 
that keep thy commandments.' There are two seeds which have 
enmity one against another, ' the seed of the woman,' and ' the seed 
of the serpent,' Gen. iii. 15. The far greatest part of the world live 
an ungodly sensual life, and therefore cannot endure those that give 
an example of a holy self-denying life, John xv. 19 ; therefore the life 
of godliness is usually made matter of common hatred, scorn, and 
opposition, for the sensual and ungodly cannot endure the godly and 
the heavenly. The more exactly any man setteth himself to obey 
God, the more he crosseth the lusts and carnal interests of the wicked, 
and so the more he commonly suffereth in the world. The world is 
full of malice and prejudice against them ; they slander them, oppress 
them, represent them under an odious character ; and they often meet 
with disturbances from the assaults and injuries of wicked men. 

[4.] The hurt they did him was spoiling and taking away the con 
veniences of the temporal life, they ' robbed me/ Though it go no 
further, yet to be deprived of those necessary and convenient comforts 
is matter of sorrow in itself. It goeth near to the hearts of worldlings 
to part with them, and therefore by this means they think to dis 
courage the people of God ; and many times God permitteth it that 
their lives, liberties, and estates shall be much in their power : Ps. 
xliv. 10, ' They that hate us spoil for themselves.' God leaveth them 
in their hands to dispose of them at their pleasure, which is a great 
and sharp temptation to his people. The Amalekites ' left no susten 
ance in Israel,' Judges vi. 4. 

2. When a man is said to forsake his duty to God by such trials. 
[1.] When he loseth his patience and meek submission to his will. 


Thus the Lord tried Job by the Sabseans and Chaldseans, Job i. 15, 
17, who ' took away his oxen, and camels, and all his stock ; ' yet Job 
meekly submitteth to the Lord's will : ver. 21, ' The Lord hath given, 
and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be the name of the Lord.' 
Not o XaXSaio? afifaaTo, but Job eyeth God both in giving and 
takino-: if he take, he gave before, or else we had it not to lose. 
"When we look to instruments we are full of wrath : a bucket of water 
cast upon us enrageth us more than a soaking shower that cometh 
from heaven. Let us see God, without whom nothing cometh to pass. 

[2.] When he loseth his comfort and confidence in God, for that is 
a sign we live upon the creature, and cannot trust God without the 
creature. Man knoweth how to put a cheat upon his own heart. 
When he hath all things at full, then he talketh of living by faith ; 
as those women who 'would eat their own bread, and wear their 
apparel, only call us by thy name,' Isa. iv. 1. So they, though all 
their happiness be bound up with the creatures, yet have the wit to 
give God the name. Now God will take away the creature to see how 
we can live upon himself alone : 1 Sam. xxx. 6, ' David encouraged 
himself in the Lord his God.' He still maintained his hope in the 
Lord when all was gone, when the emptiers had emptied him. 

[3.] When we desert the truth, or go against conscience in any 
thing. David telleth us here, when ' the bands of the wicked,' &c. ; 
that is, ' the congregations,' says the old translation, as decreeing an 
unjust sentence against him ; or ' bands,' says the new, as appointed 
to attack him ; or troops, when the wicked combined against him by 
troops. So the primitive Christians ' suffered the spoiling of their 
goods,' Heb. x. 34 ; the Jews endeavoured to make them poor and 
miserable, that they might forsake their Christianity. But we must, 
with Joseph, leave our coat to keep our conscience ; and these trials, in 
short, should be but the exercise of our patience and hope, and we should 
be provoked to do nothing but what best becometh God's servants. 

3. That we should not forsake our duty to God for temporal losses. 

[1.] We entered upon the profession of Christianity on these terms : 
Mat. xvi. 24, ' If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, 
and take up his cross and follow me/ Life, wealth, and honours must 
be forsaken : Luke xiv. 26, ' If any man come to 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 disciple.' Only relations 
and life are there mentioned, goods are not ; but afterwards, ver. 33, 
* He that forsaketh not all he hath/ voto et prcvparatione animi. Yet 
Christ may permit some to break through at a cheaper rate, but all 
must resolve on it, prepare for such a temptation. God hath not ex- 
cepted it out of his covenant and dispensations ; he may when he 
pleases suffer a righteous man to be stripped to the skin, therefore we 
must not except it out of our resignation. The wise merchant ' sold 
all/ Mat. xiii. 45, 46. When a man cometh to accept of Christ, there 
is a competition. Without this 

(1.) No true faith. True faith includes in it an election and choice 
or esteem and valuation of Christ, not only as good, but as more excel 
lent, more necessary for us, more beneficial to us than all other things. 
It is prcdatio unius rei prce altera, a preference of Christ above other 

VER. 61.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 155 

things : Phil. iii. 7-9, ' I count all things loss for the excellency of the 
knowledge of Christ/ &c. Christ is apprehended as more necessary 
for the soul ; it cometh to him under an apprehension of a deep want, 
and with a broken-hearted sense of misery ; we are undone without 
him. We are not so though we want or lose the world ; God can 
repair us here, will at last save us without these things : Luke x. 42, 
' But one thing is needful.' Christ is esteemed more excellent ; the 
rarest comforts of the world are but base things to his grace, but dung 
and dross in comparison ; not only uncertain, but vain and empty as 
to any real good : Job xxvil 8, ' For what is the hope of the hypocrite, 
though he has gained, when God taketh away his soul ? ' Christ is 
more beneficial to a poor sinner ; in him alone true happiness is to be 
found ; therefore we must suffer anything rather than oft'end our 
Saviour : Rom. viii. 39, ' No creature is able to separate us from the 
love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.' 

(2.) No true love. Eeligion without self-denial in one kind or an 
other is Christianity of our own making, not of Christ's. We cull 
out the easy safe part of religion, and then we call this love to God 
and love to Christ. No ; the true Christian love is to love God above 
all. Now, one branch of loving God above all is to part with things 
near and dear to us when God calleth us so to do. We must be con 
tented to be crucified to the world with our Lord and Master : Mat. 
x. 37, ' He that loveth father, or mother, or son, or daughter, more that 
me, is not worthy of me.' An underling love Christ will not like or 

[2.] On this condition we possess and enjoy the good things of this 
world, namely, to part with them when God calleth us thereunto. 
We are not absolute owners, but tenants at will : Haggai ii. 8, ' The 
silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts.' The 
absolute disposal of the riches and wealth of the world belongeth unto 
God, who hath all these things, with the power to dispose of them as 
he pleaseth. Therefore he is to be eyed, acknowledged, and submitted 
unto in the ordering of our lot and portion : Hosea ii. 9, c I will return, 
and take away my corn in the time thereof, my wine in the season 
thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her 
nakedness.' God still retaineth the dominion of the creatures in his 
own hand, and we have but the stewardship and dispensation of them : 
he will give and he will take away at his own pleasure. They are de 
posited in our hands as a trust, for which we are accountable ; there 
fore, if God demand, there should be an act of voluntary submission 
and subjection on our part If we enjoy them as our own, by an 
original right exclusive of God, we are usurpers but not just possessors. 
We have indeed a subordinate right to prevent the encroachment of 
our fellow-creatures, but that is but such a right as a man hath in 
a trust, or a servant to his working tools. Surely God may dispose of 
his own as he will. If we give it for God's glory, or lay out our 
wealth in his service, God's right must be owned : 1 Chron. xxix. 14, 
* For all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.' 
If God take it away by immediate providence, it was his own : Job i. 
21, ' The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.' If by men, if 
we lose anything for God, it is his own that we lose. 


[3.] Our gain in Christ is more than our loss in the world, both here 
and hereafter. So his promise : Mark x. 29, 30, ' Verily I say unto 
you, there is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or 
father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and 
the gospel's, but he shall receive a hundred-fold now in this time, 
houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, 
with persecutions, and in the world to come eternal life.' Our religion 
promiseth us spiritual recompense in this world, and eternal in the 
other, but exempteth us not from persecutions. He that hath a heart 
to quit anything for Christ, shall have it abundantly recompensed in 
the world, with a reward much greater in value and worth than that 
which he hath forsaken, sometimes more and better in the same kind ; 
as Job's estate was doubled, and Valentinian, that left the place of a 
tribune or captain of soldiers for his conscience, and got that of an em 
peror. If not this, he giveth them a greater portion of his Spirit and 
the graces thereof, more peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost, 
and this is a hundred-fold better than all that we lose. Now this we 
have with persecution : John xvi. 33, ' These things have I spoken 
unto you, that in me you might have peace ; in the world you shall 
have tribulation.' But then, for the world to come, then all shall be 
abundantly made up to us in eternal life, when we shall reign with 
Christ in his heavenly kingdom. This is all in all to a Christian ; 
that which is lost for God is not lost. Surely in heaven we shall have 
far better things than we lose here. 

[4.] Because the wicked never overcome but when they foil us of 
our innocency, zeal, and courage. The victory of a Christian doth 
not consist in not suffering, or not fighting, but in keeping that which 
we fight for : a Christian is ' more than a conqueror,' Horn. viii. 37. 
Scias hominem Christo deditum mori posse, vinci non posse. He may 
lose goods, lose life, yet still he overcomes whilst he is faithful to his 
duty. Those that were ' as sheep appointed to the slaughter,' and 
' killed all the day long,' they were oppressed and kept under, yet 
were ' more than conquerors.' The way to conquer is by patience and 
zeal, though we be trodden down and ruined ; not by getting the best 
of opposite factions, but by keeping a good conscience, and patience, 
and contentedness in sufferings. If God be honoured, if the kingdom 
of Christ be advanced by our sufferings, we are victorious : Kev. xii. 
11, ' They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of 
their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.' That 
is an overcoming indeed, to die in the quarrel, and be the more glorious 
conquerors. As long as a Christian keepeth the faith, whatever he 
loses in the contest he has the best of it: 2 Tim. iv. 7, 'I have 
fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith/ 
&c. Our victory is not to be measured by our prosperity and ad 
versity, but our faithful adherence to God. Though the devil and his 
instruments get their will over our bodies and bodily interests, yet if 
he get not his will over our souls, we conquer, and not Satan. Christians 
have not only to do with men who strike at their worldly interests, but 
with Satan, who hath a spite at their souls : Eph. vi. 12, ' For we 
wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and 
powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiri- 

VER. 61.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 157 

tual wickedness in high places.' God may give men a power over the 
bodily lives of his people, and all the interests thereof; the devil 
aimeth at the destruction of souls. He will let you enjoy the pleasures 
of sin for a season, that deprive you of your delight in God and celestial 
pleasures. He can be content you shall have dignities and honours if 
they prove a snare to you ; if he seeketh to bring you to trouble and 
poverty, it is to draw you from God. 

[5.] Fainting argueth weakness, if not nullity of grace : Prov. xxiv. 
10, ' If thou faintest in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.' 
A zealous, constant mind will overcome all discouragements : 2 Tim. 
i. 7, ' For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of 
love, and of a sound mind/ Trees, well rooted, will abide the blasts of 
strong winds. It is hard to those that are guided by flesh and blood 
to overcome such temptations, but to the heavenly mind it is more 

Use 1. Of information. 

1. That loss of goods for adhering to God's word by the violence 
and rapine of evil-minded men is one temptation we should prepare 
for : such trials may come. Such as mind to be constant must pre 
pare themselves to quit their goods. We all study to shift off the 
cross, but none studieth to prepare for the cross. Profession goeth at 
too low a rate when people leap into it upon the impulsion of carnal 
motives, or some light conviction or approbation. God taketh his 
fan in his hand, and the chaff is distinguished from the solid grain. 
All love aSajravov evayyeXiov, a cheap gospel : the gospel will have 
many summer friends, gaudy butterflies, that fly abroad in the sun 
shine ; but what cost are we content to be at for the gospel's sake ? 

2. That where men make conscience of their ways, they are not apt 
to be reduced by penalties, for they are guided by a higher principle 
than the interests of the flesh. Conscience looks to the obligation of 
duty, what we must do or not do ; not to the course of our interests 
not what is safe, but what is duty. Oh ! but their sufferings may 
make them serious and wise, and so reflect upon their error, and 
change their mind. Ans. It rather puzzleth the case when a man is 
divided between his conscience and his interests. The unsound are 
blinded by their interests; but a gracious heart in a clear case is 
more resolute, in a doubtful is more afraid and full of hesitancy, lest 
he gratify the flesh, and so the case is more perplexed. Men sooner 
come to themselves and relinquish errors if interest be not in the case. 

Use 2. To exhort us to keep a good conscience, and to be faithful 
with God, though our temporal interests should be endangered thereby. 
The conscience of our duty should more comfort us than the loss of 
temporal things should trouble our minds. But because this is not a 
by-point that I am now upon, nor a small thing that I press you to, 
but necessary for every candidate of eternity or true disciple of Jesus 
Christ, I must direct to get this constancy of mind. 

1. I will show you what is necessary to it by way of disposition or 

2. What is necessary to it by way of consideration. 
1. By way of disposition. 

[1.] There is required a lively faith concerning the world to come, 


with some assurance of our interest therein. That faith is necessary 
to draw off the heart from the conveniences and comforts of this life 
appeareth by that, Heb. x. 34, ' Ye took joyfully the spoiling of your 
goods, knowing of yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and a 
more enduring substance.' There is both faith implied, and also some 
assurance of our interest ; they knew there was substance to be had 
in the other world. They that live by sense count present things only 
substance, but the world to come only fancy and shadows ; but the 
gracious heart, on the contrary, looketh upon this world as 'a vain 
show/ Ps. xxxix. 6, the world to come to be only the enduring sub 
stance, or that true solid good which will make us everlastingly happy. 
And there is some assurance of our interest ; they had this substance ; 
that is, by virtue of God's promise they had a title and right to it, and 
some security for the full possession of it in due time, by the first 
fruits and earnest of the Spirit. This they knew in themselves ; they 
discerned their own qualifications, and fulfilling the conditions of the 
promises ; and the Spirit did in some measure testify to them that they 
were the sons of God ; and from all this flowed their suffering of the 
loss of worldly goods, and their suffering of it joyfully.^ 

[2.] A sincere love to Christ is necessary, for then tliey will not quit 
his interest for what is most near and dear to them in the world : 
Horn. viii. 35, 'What shall separate us from the love of Christ?' 
Love there is not only taken passively, for the love wherewith Christ 
loveth us, but actively, for the love wherewith we love Christ. For the 
things mentioned there, ' tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or 
famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword,' belong not to the latter ; for 
tribulation is not wont to withdraw God from loving us, but us from 
loving God. It is we that are assaulted by tribulation, and not Go<J 
nor Christ : it is our love which the temptation striketh at. A man 
that loveth Christ sincerely will be at some loss for him. Christ is 
rather held by the heart than by the head only. They that make a 
religion of their opinions will find no such effect, if they have a faith 
that never went deeper than their brains and their fancies, that reacheth 
not their heart, and doth not stir up their love to Christ, that will not 
enable them to hold out against temptations. Though men may 
sacrifice some of their weaker lusts and petty interests, yet they will 
not forsake all for his sake : he that loveth Christ will not leave him. 
Why doth a sinner deny himself for his lusts ? he loveth them, and 
sacrifices his time, strength, estate, conscience. So a Christian that 
knoweth Christ hath loved him, and therefore loveth Christ again ; 
he will not easily quit him and his truth. A bare belief is only in the 
head, which is but the entrance into the inwards of the soul ; it is the 
heart which is Christ's castle and citadel. A superficial assent may 
let him go, but a faith which worketh by love produceth this close 
adherence. Well, if we would endure spoiling of our goods, it is our 
wisdom to consider what we love most, and can least part withal. 
Christ is infinitely to be valued, as more precious than all the wealth 
in the world. 

[3.] A well-grounded resolution in the truth : 1 Thes. v. 21, ' Prove 
all things; hold fast that which is good/ When we take up the 
ways of God upon fashion, or half conviction, or probable reasons, and 

VER. 61.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 159 

do not resolve upon sound evidence, we are in danger to be shaken 
when it is a costly thing to be a sincere Christian ; but when conscience 
is soundly informed, then all things give way to conscience. If the 
wicked spoil us of our goods, they should not spoil us of our best 
treasure, which is a good conscience. Whatever power they have by 
God's permission over our outward estates, they have no power over 
our consciences; that is the best friend or the worst enemy. No 
bird singeth so sweetly as the bird in our bosoms ; here heaven or hell 
is begun, and the solaces of the outward life are nothing to this. 

[4.J A contempt of the world. Our earthly affections must bo 
mortified, and that upon a twofold account : 

(1.) That we may freely part with them ; for if they be overvalued, 
our affliction will be according to the degree of our affection : Mark x. 
22, ' He was sad at that saying, and went away grieved, for he had 
great possessions.' We cannot so freely resign them to God, and leave 
all for treasure in heaven. 

(2.) That we may more entirely depend upon God : Heb. xiii. 5, ' Let 
your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such 
things as ye have ; for he hath said, I will never leave you nor forsake 
you.' Till the heart be purged from carnal affections, the promises 
of God have little force and respect with us. A little satisfieth a con 
tented and a weaned mind, and he can the better cast himself upon 
God's providence. 

[5.] A sound belief of God's providence ; this hath a great influence 
upon a free parting with our estates for our conscience' sake : Heb. xi. 
8, by faith Abraham left his country, kindred, possessions, and trusted 
himself blindfold with God's providence. This principle was made 
use of when the king was troubled about the hundred talents: 2 
Chron. xxv. 9, saith the man of God, ' The Lord is able to give thee 
much more than this.' God's providence is enough for a gracious 
heart Indeed it is hard to maintain such a faith in providence when 
exposed to great injuries. We are apt to doubt of it; goodness 
seemeth to be neglected by him: Ps. Ixxiii. 14, 'Verily I have 
cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.' Doth 
God know ? But a Christian must believe in hope against hope. 

2. Remedies by way of consideration. 

[1.] They cannot rob us of spiritual and eternal riches, of the fear 
of God, love of God ; treasures in heaven are out of their reach : 
Mat. vi. 19, 20, 'Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, 
where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through 
and steal ; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither 
moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through 
or steal.' Your joy shall no man take from you,' John xvi. 22. 
Heavenly things can never be taken from their owners. 

[2.] If they cannot take away our God and Christ, we shall be 
certainly happy. All things in the world depend on God and Christ : 
' The favour of the Lord maketh rich/ Prov. x. 22 ; without his 
blessing nothing prospereth. All judgment is in the hands of Christ, 
John v. 22. He hath the government of the world, or dominion over 
all things which may conduce to help or hinder his people's happi- 
nesa Things are not left to their arbitrament or uncertain contin- 


gency, but are under the government of a supreme providence, in the 
hand of him that loves us. 

[3.] Tried friendship is most valuable: James i. 12, 'Blessed is 
the man that endureth temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive 
the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.' 

[4.] If we suffer with Christ, we shall also be glorified with him : 
Kom. viii. 17, 'If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also 
glorified together/ 


At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee, because of thy 
righteous judgments. VEB. 62. 

IN these words observe three things : 

1. David's holy employment, or the duty promised, giving thanks to 

2. His earnestness and fervency, implied in the time mentioned, at 
midnight I will rise; rather interrupt his sleep and rest than God 
should want his praise. 

3. The cause or matter of his thanksgiving, because of thy righteous 
judgments, whereby he meaneth the dispensations of his providence 
in delivering the godly and punishing the wicked according to his 
word. Where observe 

1. The term by which these dispensations are expressed, judgments. 

2. The adjunct, righteous judgments. 

1. For the term, 'judgments,' they are so called partly because they 
are God's judicial acts belonging to his government of the world ; 
partly because they are dispensed according to his word, the sentences 
of which are also called judgments. There are the judgments of his 
mouth and of his hand : Ps. cxix. 13, ' With my lips have I declared 
all the judgments of thy mouth.' 

2. The adjunct, ' righteous,' or the judgments of thy righteousness ; 
so called because they are holy, just, and full of equity. 

Doct. 1. One special duty wherein the people of God should be much 
exercised is thanksgiving. 

Doct. 2. That, God's providence rightly considered, we shall in the 
worst times find much more cause to give thanks than to complain. 

Doct. 3. That a heart deeply affected with God's providence will 
take all occasions to praise God and give thanks to his name, both in 
season and out of season. 

Doct. 1. One special duty wherein the people of God should be much 
exercised is thanksgiving. This duty is often pressed upon us : Heb. 
xiii. 15, ' Let us offer the sacrifice of praise continually, which is the 
fruit of our lips ;' giving thanks unto his name. There are two words 
there used, praise and thanksgiving : generally taken, they are the 
same ; strictly taken, thanksgiving differeth from praise. They agree 
that we use our voice in thanksgiving, as we do also in praise, for they 
are both said to be the fruit of our lips. What is in the prophet Hosea, 

VER. 62.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 161 

chap. xiv. 2, ' calves of our lips/ is in the Septuagint, ' the fruit of our 
lips ; ' and they both agree that they are a sacrifice offered to our su 
preme benefactor, or that they belong to the thank-offerings of the 
gospel. But they differ in that thanksgiving belongeth to benefits 
bestowed on ourselves or others ; but in relation to us, praise to any 
excellency whatsoever. Thanksgiving may be in word or deed ; praise 
in words only. Well, then, thanksgiving is a sensible acknowledg 
ment of favours received, or an expression of our sense of them, by 
word and work, to the praise of the bestower. The object of it is the 
works of God as beneficial unto us, or to those who are related to us, or 
in whose good or ill we are concerned. As public persons, as magis 
trates : 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, 'I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, suppli 
cation, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all 
men ; for kings, and for all that are in authority.' Pastors of the 
church: 2 Cor. i. 11, ' You also helping together by prayer for us, 
that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, 
thanks may be given by many on our behalf.' Or our kindred accord 
ing to the flesh, or some bond of Christian duty : Rom. xii. 15, ' Rejoice 
with them that do rejoice.' Another place where this duty is enforced 
is Eph. v. 20, where we are bidden to ' give thanks always for all 
things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ ;' 
where you see it is a duty of a universal and perpetual use, and one 
wherein the honour of God and Christ is much concerned. A third 
place is 1 Thes. v. 18, ' In everything give thanks, for this is the will 
of, God in Christ Jesus concerning you/ See what reason he urgeth ; the 
express will of God requiring this worship at our hands. We are to 
obey intuitu voluntatis. God's will is the fundamental reason of our 
obedience in every commandment ; but here is a direct charge, now 
God hath made known the wonders of his love in Christ. 

I shall prove to you that this is a necessary duty, a profitable duty, 
a pleasant and delightful duty. 

1. The necessity of being much and often in thanksgiving will appear 
by these two considerations : 

[1.] Because God is continually beneficial to us, blessing and deliver 
ing his people every day, and by new mercies giveth us new matter of 
praise and thanksgiving : Ps. Ixviii. 19, ' Blessed be the God of our 
salvation, who loadeth us daily with his benefits, Selah.' He hath con 
tinually favoured us and preserved us, and poured his benefits upon 
us. The mercies of every day make way for songs which may sweeten 
our rest in the night ; and his giving us rest by night, and preserving 
us in our sleep, when we could not help ourselves, giveth us songs in 
the morning. And all the day long we find new matter of praise : 
our whole work is divided between receiving and acknowledging. 

[2.] Some mercies are so general and beneficial that they should 
never be forgotten, but remembered before God every day. Such as 
redemption by Christ : Ps. cxi. 4, ' He hath made his wonderful 
works to be remembered.' We must daily be blessing God for Jesus 
Christ : 2 Cor. ix. 15, ' Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.' 
I understand it of his grace by Christ. We should ever be thus 
blessing and praising him; for the keeping of his great works in memory 
is the foundation of all love and service to God. 



2. It is a profitable duty. The usefulness of thanksgiving appeareth 
with respect to faith, love, and obedience. 

[1.] With respect to faith. Faith and praise live and die together ; 
if there be faith, there will be praise ; and if there be praise, there will 
be faith. If faith', there will be praise, for faith is a bird that can sing 
in winter : Ps. Ivi. 4, ' In God will I praise his word, in God have I 
put my trust ; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me ; ' and ver. 
10, ' In God I will praise his word, in the Lord I will praise his word." 
Hi's word is satisfaction enough to a gracious heart ; if they have his 
word, they can praise him beforehand, for the grounds of hope before 
they have enjoyment. As Abraham, when he had not a foot in the 
land of Canaan, yet built an altar and offered sacrifices of thanks 
giving, because of God's grant and the future possession in his pos 
terity, Gen. xiii. 18. Then, whether he punisheth or pitieth, we will 
praise him and glory in him. Faith entertaineth the promise before 
performance cometh, not only with confidence, but with delight and 
praise. The other part is, if praise, there will be faith ; that is, 
supposing the praise real, for it raiseth our faith to expect the 
like again, having received so much grace already. All God's praises 
are the believer's advantage, the mercy is many times given as a 
pledge of more mercy. In many cases Deus donando debet. If life, 
he will give food and bodily raiment. It holdeth good in spiritual 
things. If Christ, other things with Christ. One concession draweth 
another ; if he spares me, he will feed me, clothe me. The attributes 
from whence the mercy cometh is the pillar of the believer's con 
fidence and hope. If such a good, then a fit object of trust. If I have 
found him a God hearing prayer, ' I will call upon him as long as I 
live,' Ps. cxvi. 2. Praise doth but provide matter of trust, and repre 
sent God to us as a storehouse of all good things, and a sure foun 
dation for dependence. 

[2.] The great respect it hath to love. Praise and thanksgiving is 
an act of love, and then it cherisheth and feedeth love. It is an act of 
love to God, for if we love God we will praise him. Prayer is a work 
of necessity, but praise a mere work of duty and respect to God. We 
would exalt him more in our own hearts and in the hearts of others : 
Ps. Ixxi. 14, * I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more 
and more.' We pray because we need God, and we praise him because 
we love him. Self-love will put us upon prayer, but the love of God 
upon praise and thanksgiving ; then we return to give him the glory. 
Those that seek themselves will cry to him in their distress ; but those 
that love God cannot endure that he should be without his due honour. 
In heaven, when other graces and duties cease, which belong to this im 
perfect state, as faith and repentance cease, yet love remaineth; and be 
cause love remaineth, praise remaineth, which is our great employment 
in the other world. So it feedeth and cherisheth love, for every benefit 
acknowledged is a new fuel to keep in the fire : Ps. xviii. 1, ' I will love 
thee,0 Lord, my strength;' Ps. cxvi. 1, ' I will love the Lord, who hath 
heard the voice of my supplications ; ' Deut. xx-x. 20, ' That thou mayest 
love the Lord, who is thy life, and the length of thy days/ The soul 
by praise is filled with a sense of the mercy and goodness of God, so- 
that hereby he is made more amiable to us. 

VER. 62.] . SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 163 

[3.] With respect to submission and obedience to his laws and 

(1.) His laws. The greatest bond of duty upon the fallen creature 
is gratitude. Now grateful we cannot be without a sensible and ex 
plicit acknowledgment of his goodness to us : the more frequent and 
serious in that, the more doth our love constrain us to devote ourselves 
to God : Rom. xii. 1, ' I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies 
of God, that you present yourselves a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable 
to God, which is your reasonable service.' To live to him : 2 Cor. v. 
14, 15, ' For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, 
that if one died for all, then were all dead, and that he died for all, 
that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but 
unto him which died for them, and rose again.' And therefore praise 
and thanksgiving is a greater help to the spiritual life than we are 
usually aware of; for, working in us a sense of God's love, and an 
actual remembrance of his benefits (as it will do if rightly performed), 
it doth make us shy of sin, more careful and solicitous to do his will. 
Shall we offend so good a God ? God's love to us is a love of bounty; 
our love to God is a love of duty, when we grudge not to live in subjec 
tion to him : 1 John v. 3, ' His commandments are not grievous.' 

(2.) Submission to his providence. There is a querulous and sour 
spirit which is natural to us, always repining and murmuring at God's 
dealing, and wasting and vexing our spirits in heartless complaints. 
Now, this fretting, quarrelling, impatient humour, which often showeth 
itself against God even in our prayers and supplications, is quelled by 
nothing so much as by being frequent in praises and thanksgivings : 
Job i. 21, ' The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away ; 
blessed be the name of the Lord.' It is an act of holy prudence in the 
saints, when they are under any trouble, to strain themselves to the 
quite contrary duty of what temptations and corruptions would drive 
them unto. When the temptation is laid to make us murmur and 
swell at God's dealings, we should on the contrary bless and give 
thanks. And therefore the Psalmist doth so frequently sing praises in 
the saddest condition. There is no perfect defeating the temptation 
but by studying matter of praise, and to set seriously about the duty. 
So Job ii. 10, ' Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we 
not receive evil ? ' Shall we receive so many proofs of the love of God, 
and quarrel at a few afflictions that come from the same hand, and 
rebel against his providence when he bringeth on some needful trouble 
for our trial and exercise ? and having tasted so much of his bounty 
and love, repine and fret at every change of dealing, though it be use 
ful to purge out our corruptions, and promote our communion with 
God ? Surely nothing can be extremely evil that cometh from this 
good hand. As we receive good tilings cheerfully and contentedly, so 
must we receive evil things submissively and patiently. 

3. It is a most delightful work to remember the many thousand 
mercies God hath bestowed on the church, ourselves, and friends. To 
remember his gracious word and all the passages of his providence ; 
is this burdensome to us ? Ps. cxlvii. 1, ' Praise ye the Lord, for it is 
pleasant ; ' and Ps. cxxxv. 3, ' Sing praises unto his name, for it is 
pleasant' Next to necessity, profit; next to profit, pleasure. No 


necessity so great as spiritual necessity, because our eternal well-being 
or ill-being dependeth on it ; and beggary is nothing to being found 
naked in the great day. No profit so great as spiritual ; that is not 
to be measured by the good things of this world, or a little pelf, or the 
great mammon, which so many worship; but some spiritual and divine 
benefit, which tendeth to make us spiritually better, more like God, 
more capable of communion with him ; that is true profit, it is an 
increase of faith, love, and obedience. So for pleasure and delight ; 
that which truly exhilarateth the soul, begets upon us a solid impres 
sion of God's love, that is the true pleasure. Carnal pleasures are 
unwholesome for you, like luscious fruits, which make you sick. 
Nothing is so hard of digestion as carnal pleasures. This feedeth the 
flesh, warreth against the soul ; but this holy delight that resulteth from 
the serious remembrance of God, and setting forth his excellences and 
benefits, is safe and healthful, and doth cheer us but not hurt us. 

Use. Oh, then, let us be oftener in praising and giving thanks to 
God 1 Can you receive so much, and beg so much, and never think 
of a return or any expression of gratitude ? Is there such a being as 
God, have you all your supplies from him, and will you not take some 
time to acknowledge what he hath done for your souls ? Either you 
must deny his being, and then you are atheists ; or you must deny his 
providence, and then you are epicureans, next door to atheism ; or you 
must deny such a duty as praise and thanksgiving, and then you are 
anti-scripturists, for the scripture everywhere calleth for it at our 
hands ; or else, if you neglect this duty, you live in flat contradiction 
to what you profess to believe, and then you are practical atheists, and 
practical epicureans, and practical anti-scripturists ; and so your con 
demnation will be the greater, because you own the truth but deny the 
practice. I beseech you, therefore, to be often alone with God, and that 
in a way of thanksgiving, to increase your love, faith, and obedience, 
and delight in God. Shall I use arguments to you ? 

1. Have you received nothing from God ? I put this question to 
you, because great is our unthankfulness, not only for common benefits, 
but also for special deliverances the one not noted and observed, 
the other not improved. Humble persons will find matter of praise 
in very common benefits, but we forget even signal mercies. There 
fore, I say, have you received nothing ? Now, consider, is there no 
return due ? You know the story, Luke xvii. 15-19, Christ healed 
ten lepers, and but one of them ' returned and with a loud voice glori 
fied God, and fell down at his feet giving thanks, and he was a Sama 
ritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed, but 
where are the nine ? There are not found that returned to give glory 
to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way ; 
thy faith hath made thee whole.' All had received a like benefit, but 
one only returned, and he a Gentile and no Jew, to acknowledge the 
mercy. They were made whole by a miraculous providence, he was 
made whole by a more gracious dispensation : ' Thy faith hath made 
thee whole ; ' he was dismissed with a special blessing. God scatter- 
eth his benefits upon all mankind, but how few own the supreme 
benefactor ! Surely a sensible heart seeth always new occasions of 
praising God, and some old occasions that must always be remembered, 

VER. 62.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 165 

always for life, and peace, and safety, and daily provision ; and always 
for Christ, and the hopes of eternal life. Surely if we have the com 
fort, God should have the glory : Ps. xcvi. 8, ' Give unto the Lord 
the glory due unto his name, bring an offering, and come into his 
courts.' He that hath scattered his seed expecteth a crop from you. 

2. How disingenuous is it to be always craving, and never giving 
thanks ! It is contrary to his directions in the word ; for he showeth 
us there that all our prayers should be mingled with a thankful sense 
and acknowledgment of his mercies : Phil. iv. 6, ' In everything let 
your requests and supplications be made known with thanksgiving.' 
Do not come only in a complaining way : Col. iv. 2, ' Continue in 
prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.' They are not holy 
requests unless we acknowledge what he hath done for us, as well as 
desire him to do more. Nothing more usual than to come in our 
necessities to seek help ; but we do not return, when we have received 
help and relief, to give thanks. When our turn is served, we neglect 
God Wants urge us more than blessings, our interest swayeth us 
more than duty. As a dog swalloweth every bit that is cast to him, 
and still looketh for more, we swallow whatever the bounty of God 
casteth out to us without thanks, and when we need again, we would 
have more, and though warm in petitions, yet cold, rare, infrequent in 
gratulations. It is not only against scripture, but against nature. 
Ethnics abhor the ungrateful, that were still receiving, but forgetting 
to give thanks. It is against justice to seek help of God, and when 
we have it to make no more mention of God than if we had it from 
ourselves. It is against truth ; we make many promises in our afflic 
tion, but forget all when well at ease. 

3. God either takes away or blasts the mercies wjiich we are not 
thankful for. Sometimes he taketh them from us : Hosea ii. 8, 9, 'I 
will take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season 
thereof, and I will recover my wool and flax.' Why ? ' She doth not 
know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and gave her silver and 
gold.' Where his kindness is not taken notice of, nor his hand seen 
and acknowledged, he will take his benefits to himself again. We know 
not the value of mercies so much by their worth as by their want ; uxnrep 
o<f>0a\fji,oi TO ayav \afnrpov oittc opw&i a thing too near the eye cannot 
be seen. God must set things at a distance to make us value them. 
If he take them not away, yet many times he blasts them as to their 
natural use : Mai. ii. 2, ' And if you will not hear, and if you will not 
lay it to heart to give glory to my name, saith the Lord of hosts, 1 
will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings ; yea, 
I have cursed them already, because you do not lay it to heart.' The 
creature is a deaf-nut ; when we come to crack it, we have not the 
natural blessing as to health, strength, and cheerfulness, Acts xiv. 17; 
or if food, yet not gladness of heart with it ; or we have not the sancti 
fied use, it is not a mercy that leadeth us to God. A thing is sanctified 
when it is a bono in bonum, if it cometh from God and leadeth us 
to God : 1 Cor. iii. 21-23, ' All things are yours ; whether Paul, or 
Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, 
or things to come, all are yours, for you are Christ's, and Christ is 
God's.' You have a covenant right, a holy use. 


4. Bless him for favours received, and you shall have more. Thanks 
giving is the kindly way of petitioning, and the more thankful for 
mercies, the more they are increased upon us. Vapours drawn up 
from the earth return in showers to the earth again. The sea poureth 
out its fulness into the rivers, and all rivers return to the sea from 
whence they came : Ps. Ixvii. 5, 6, ' Let the people praise thee, God; 
yea, let all the people praise thee : then shall the earth yield her 
increase, and God, even our own God, shall bless us.' When springs 
lie low, we pour a little water into the pump, not to enrich the foun 
tain, but to bring up more for ourselves. It is not only true of outward 
increase, but of spiritual also: Col. ii. 7, ' Be ye rooted in the faith, 
and abound therein with thanksgiving.' If we give thanks for so much 
grace as we have already received, it is the way to increase our store. 
We thrive no more, get no more victory over our corruptions, because 
we do no more give thanks. 

5. When God's common mercies are well observed or well improved, 
it fits us for acts of more special kindness. In the story of the lepers 
Luke xvii. 19, ' Thy faith hath made thee whole,' he met not only 
with a bodily cure, but a soul cure: Luke xvi. 11, ' If, therefore, ye 
have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit 
to your trust the true riches ? ' When we suspect a vessel leaketh, we 
try it with water before we fill it with wine. You are upon your trial ; 
be thankful for less, God will give you more. Means or directions : 

[1.] Heighten all the mercies you have by all the circumstances 
necessary to be considered. By the nature and kind of them : spiritual 
eternal blessings first ; the greatest mercies deserve greatest acknow 
ledgment : Eph. i. 3, ' Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly 
places in Christ' Christ's spirit, pardon of sins, heaven, the way of 
salvation known, accepted, and the things of the world as subordinate 
helps. Luke x. 20, 'Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the 
spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are 
written in heaven.' Then consider your sense in the want of mercies ; 
what high thoughts had you then of them ? The mercies are the 
same when you have them and when you want them, only your appre 
hensions are greater. If affectionately begged they must be affection 
ately acknowledged, else you are a hypocrite either in the supplication 
or gratulation. Consider the person giving, God, so high and glorious. 
A small remembrance from a great prince, no way obliged, no way 
needing me, to whom I can be no way profitable, a small kindness 
melts us, a gift of a few pounds, a little parcel of land. Do I court 
him and observe him ? There is less reason why God should abase 
himself to look upon us or concern himself in us : Ps. cxiii. 6, ' He 
humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the 
earth/ We have all things from him. Consider the person receiving ; 
so unworthy : Gen. xxxii 10, ' I am not worthy of the least of all the 
mercies and of all the truth which thou hast showed unto thy servant ;' 
2 Sam. vii. 18, ' Who am I, Lord God, and what is my house, that 
thou hast brought me hitherto ? ' Consider the season ; our greatest 
extremity is God's opportunity : Gen. xxii. 14, ' In the mount of the 
Lord it shall be seen,' when the knife was at the throat of kis son ; 

YER. 62.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 167 

2 Cor. i. 9, 10, ' We had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we 
should not trust in ourselves, but in God, which raiseth the dead, who 
delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver ; in whom we 
trust, that he will yet deliver us.' Consider the end and fruit of his 
mercy ; it is to manifest his special love to us, and engage our hearts 
to himself : Isa. xxxviii. 17, ' Thou hast in love to my soul delivered 
it from the pit of corruption,' or ' thou hast loved me from the grave;' 
otherwise God may give things in anger. Consider the means by 
which he brought them about, when unlikely, unexpected in themselves, 
weak, insufficient. The greatest matters of providence hang many 
times upon small wires : a lie brought Joseph into prison, and a dream 
fetched him out, and he was advanced, and Jacob's family fed. Con 
sider the number of his mercies : Ps. cxxxix. 17, ' How precious also 
are thy thoughts unto me, God ! how great is the sum of them ! ' 
The many failings pardoned, comforts received, dangers prevented, 
deliverances vouchsafed. How he began with us before all time, con 
ducted us in time, and hath been preparing for us a happiness which 
we shall enjoy when time shall be no more. 

[2.] Satisfy yourselves with no praise and thanksgiving but what 
leaveth the impression of real effects upon the soul ; for God is not 
flattered with empty praises and a little verbal commendation. There 
is a twofold praising of God by expressive declaration or by objective 
impression. Now, neither expression nor impression must be excluded. 
Some platonical divines explode and scoff at the verbal praise more 
than becometh their reverence to the word of God : Ps. 1. 23, ' He that 
offereth praise glorifieth me.' But then the impression must be looked 
.after too, that we be like that God whom we commend and extol, 
that we depend on him more, love him more fervently, serve him more 

Doct. 2. That God's providence rightly considered, we shall find in 
the worst times much more cause to give thanks than to complain. I 
observe this because David was now under affliction. He had in the 
ionner verse complained that ' the bands of the wicked had robbed 
Jiim/ yet even then would he give thanks to God. 

1. Observe here, the matter of his thanksgiving was God's provi- 
dence according to his word, seen in executing threatenings on the 
wicked, and performing his promises to the godly. God's word is one 
of the chiefest benefits bestowed on man, and therefore should be a 
subject of our praises. Now, when this is verified in his providence, 
and we see a faithful performance of those things in mercy to his 
servants, and in justice to his enemies, and the benefits and advantages 
of his law to them that are obedient, and the just punishment of the 
disobedient, and can discern not only a vein of righteousness but of 
truth in all God's dealings, this is a double benefit, which must be 
taken notice of, and acknowledged to God's praise. Christians ! 
how sweet is it to read his works by the light of the sanctuary, and to 
learn the interpretation of his providence from his Spirit by his word : 
Ps. Ixxiii. 17, ' I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I 
their end ; ' by consulting the scriptures he see the end and close of 
them that walk not according to God's direction : his word and works 
do mutually explain one another. The sanctuary is the place where 


God's people meet, where his word is taught, where we may have 
satisfaction concerning all his dealings. 

2. That when any divine dispensation goeth cross to our affections, 
yea, our prayers and expectations, yet even then can faith bring meat 
out of the eater, and find many occasions of praise and thanksgiving 
to God ; for nothing falleth out so cross but we may see the hand of 
God in it working for good. 

[1.] Though we have not the blessing we seek and pray for, yet we 
give thanks because God hath been sometimes entreated, he hath showed 
himself a God hearing prayer, and is only delaying now until a more 
fit time wherein he may give us that which is sought : Ps. xliii. 5, 
' Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of 
my countenance, and my God.' Now we are mourning, but he is our 
God, and we are not left without hope of a blessed issue. God, that 
hath been gracious, will be gracious again. He is our gracious father 
when we are under his sharpest corrections, a father when he striketh 
or frowneth ; therefore we are not without hope that he will give us 
opportunities again of glorifying his name. 

[2.] We bless God for continuing so long the mercies which he hath 
taken from us. Former experiences must not be forgotten : ' Ebenezer, 
hitherto the Lord hath helped us.' If he shall afflict us afterward, 
yet ' hitherto he hath helped us,' 1 Sam. vii. 12. If he take away life, 
it is a mercy that he spared it so long for his own service and glory ; 
if liberty, that we had such a time of rest and intermission. 

[3.] God is yet worthy of praise and thanksgiving for choicer 
mercies yet continued, notwithstanding all the afflictions laid upon us. 
That we have his Spirit supporting us under our trials, and enabling 
us to bear them : 1 Peter iv. 13, 14, ' Kejoice, inasmuch as ye are 
partakers of Christ's sufferings ; that when his glory shall be revealed, 
ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. For if ye be reproached for 
the name of Christ, happy are ye ; for the spirit of glory and of God 
resteth on you.' And that we have any peace of conscience : Rom. v. 
1, ' Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through 
our Lord Jesus Christ.' That the hope of eternal life is not diminished 
but increased by our afflictions : Eom. v. 4, 5, ' We glory in tribulation, 
knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, 
and experience hope, 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.' That many of our natural comforts are yet left, and God 
will supply us by ways best known to himself. 

[4.] That evils and afflictions which light upon us for the gospel's 
sake, or righteousness' sake, and Christ's name's sake, are to be reckoned 
among our .privileges, and deserve praise rather than complaint : Phil. 
i. 29, ' To you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe 
on him, but also to suffer for his sake.' If it be a gift, it is matter 
of praise. 

[5.] Take these evils in the worst notion, they are less than we 
have deserved: Ezra ix. 13, 'And after all that is come upon us for 
our evil deeds, and for our great trespass, seeing that thou our God 
hast punished us less than our iniquities deserve.' Babylon is not 
hell, and still that should be acknowledged. 


[6.] That no evil hath befallen us but such as God can bring good 
out of them : Rom. viii. 28, ' All things shall work together for good 
to them that love God.' All things that befall a Christian are either 
good, or shall turn to good ; either to good natural : Gen. 1. 20, ' Ye 
thought evil, but God meant it for good ;' or good spiritual : Ps. cxix. 
75, ' I know, Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in 
faithfulness hast afflicted me;' or good eternal: 2 Cor. iv. 17, 'For 
our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far 
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.' 

Use 1. For information, that God's righteous judgments are matter 
of praise and thanksgiving. An angel is brought in speaking, Rev. 
xvi. 5, ' Thou art righteous, Lord, which art, and wast, and shaft 
be, because thou hast judged thus.' Indeed, the formal object of 
thanksgiving and praise is some benefit : Ps. cxxxv. 3, ' Praise the 
Lord, for the Lord is good.' We praise God for his judgments, be 
cause they are just and right ; we praise God for his mercies, not only 
because they are just and equal, but comfortable and beneficial to us, 
and so a double ground of thanksgiving. 

Use 2. For reproof, that we make more noise of a little trouble than 
we do of a thousand benefits that remain with us. We fret and com 
plain and manifest the impatiency of the flesh ; like a great machine or 
carriage, if one pin be out of order, all stoppeth, or one member hurt, 
though all the rest of the body be sound ; or as Haman, the favours 
of a great king, pleasures of a luxurious court, all this availeth him 
nothing as long as Mordecai was in the gate, Esther v. 13 ; not 
withstanding his riches, honours, multitude of children, great offices, 
this damped all his joy: Mai. i. 2, ' I have loved you, saith the Lord ; 
yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us ? ' Non quod Jiabet numeral, <kc. 
Oh 1 let us check this complaining spirit ; let us consider what is left, 
not what God hath taken away ; what we may or shall have, not what 
we now want ; what God is, and will be to his people, though we see 
little or nothing in the creature. 

Doct. 3. That a heart deeply affected with God's providence will 
take all occasions to praise and give thanks. 

1. It is certain that our whole life should be a real expression of 
thankfulness to God. The life of a Christian is a life of love and 
praise, a hymn to God : 1 Peter ii. 9, ' But ye are a chosen gene 
ration, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye 
should show forth the praises of him who hath called you but of dark 
ness into his marvellous light.' Christianity is a confession ; the visible 
acting of godliness is a part of this confession ; we are all saved as con 
fessors or martyrs. Now the confession is made both in word and deed. 

2. There are special occasions of thanksgiving and praise to God, as 
the apostle bids Timothy preach : 2 Tim. iv. 2, cvKaipw dicaipa)?, ' in 
season, out of season,' meaning thereby that he should not only take 
ordinary occasions, but extraordinary ; he should make an opportunity 
where he found none. So we should press Christians to praise 
God not only in solemn duties, when the saints meet together to 
praise, but extraordinarily redeem time for this blessed work ; yea, in 
terrupt our lawful sleep and repose, to find frequent vacancies for so 
necessary a duty as the lauding and magnifying of God's mercy. 


3. As for rising up at midnight, we can neither enforce it as a duty 
upon you, nor yet can we condemn it. It was an act of heroical zeal in 
David, who employed his time waking to the honour of God, which 
others spent in sleeping ; and we read that Paul and Silas ' sang 
praises at midnight,' Acts xvi. 25, though then in the stocks, and they 
had been scourged the day before. And it is said, Job xxxv. 10, ' None 
saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night?' 
that is, giveth matter of praise if we wake in the night. And David 
saith elsewhere, Ps. xlii. 8, ' The Lord will command his loving- 
kindness in the day-time, and in the night his song shall be with me ; ' 
day and night he would be filled with a sense of God's love, and with 
songs of praise. Therefore we cannot condemn this, but must highly 
commend it. Let men praise God at any time, and the more they 
deny themselves to do it, the more commendable is the action ; yet we 
cannot enforce it upon you as a necessary duty, as the Papists build 
their nocturnal devotions upon it. That which we disapprove in them 
is, that those hours instituted by men they make necessary ; that they 
direct their prayers to saints and angels which should only be to God, 
that they might mingle them with superstitious ceremonies and, 
observances ; that they pray and sing in an unknown tongue without 
devotion, appropriating it to a certain sort of men, to clerks for their 
gain, with an opinion of merit. The primitive Christians had their 
hymnos antelucanos, but in persecution, their a\eKrpo<j)a>via<;, saith 
Clem. Alexandrinus ; but what is this to superstitious night-services ? 

4. Though we cannot enforce the particular observance upon you, 
yet there are many notable lessons to be drawn from David's practice. 

[1.] The ardency of his devotion, or his earnest desire to praise 
God, ' at midnight ; ' then, when sleep doth most invade us, then he 
would rise up. His heart was so set upon the praising of God, and 
the sense of his righteous providence did so affect him, and urge him, 
or excite him to this duty, that he would not only employ himself 
in this work in the day-time, and so show his love to God, but he 
would rise out of his bed to worship God and celebrate his praise. That 
which hindereth the sleep of ordinary men is either the cares of this 
world, the impatient resentment of injuries, or the sting of an evil con 
science : these keep others waking, but David was awaked by a desire 
to praise God ; no hour is unseasonable to a gracious heart ; he is ex 
pressing his affection to God when others take their rest. Thus we 
read of our Lord Christ, that he spent whole nights in prayer, Luke vi. 
12. It is said of the glorified saints in heaven, that they praise God 
continually : Kev. vii. 17, ' They are before the throne of God, and 
serve him day and night in his temple, and he that sitteth on the 
throne shall dwell among them.' Now, holy men, though much hin 
dered by their bodily necessities, yet they will come as near as present 
frailty will permit ; we oftentimes begin the day with some fervency 
of prayer and praise, but we faint ere even. 

[2.] His sincerity, seen in his secrecy. David would profess his 
faith in God when he had no witness by him, at midnight, then no 
hazard of ostentation. It was a secret cheerfulness and delighting in 
God when alone ; he could have no respect to the applause of men, 
but only to approve himself to God who seeth in secret. See Christ's 


direction, Mat. vi. 6, ' But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy 
closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is 
in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee 
openly ; ' his own practice : Mark i. 35, ' Rising early in the morning, 
he went into a desert to pray.' Both time and place implied secrecy. 

[3.] We learn hence the preciousness of time. It was so to David. 
. See how he spendeth the time of his life. We read of David, when he 
lay down at night, he ' watered his couch with his tears,' after the ex 
amination of his heart ; Ps. cxix. 62 ; at midnight he rose to give thanks ; 
in the morning he prevented the morning- watches, seven times a-day 
praising God, morning, noon, night. These are all acts of eminent 
piety. We should not content ourselves with so much grace as will 
merely serve to save us. Alas ! we have much idle time hanging upon 
our hands ; if we would give that to God it were well. 

[4.] The value of godly exercises above our natural refreshings ; the 
word is sweeter than appointed food : Job xxiii. 12, ' I have esteemed 
the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.' David prefer- 
reth his praises of God before his sleep and rest in the night. Surely 
this should shame us for our sensuality. We can dispense with 
other things for our vain pleasures; we have done as much for sin, 
for vain sports, broken our rest for sin. Some monsters of mankind 
turn night into day, and day into night for their drunkenness, gaming, 
vain sports, &c., and shall we not deny ourselves for God ? 

[5.] The reverence to be used in secret adoration. David did not 

only raise up his spirits to praise God, but rise up out of his bed to 

bow the knee to him. Secret duties should be performed with some 

solemnity, not slubbered over. Praise, a special act of adoration, re- 

quireth the worship of body and soul 

Use. Let David's example condemn our backwardness and sluggish 
ness, who will not take those occasions which offer themselves. Mark, 
lie gave thanks when we fret ; at midnight he rose to do it with the 
more secrecy and fervency ; this not to pray only, but to give thanks. 


flam a companion of all them tJiatfcar thee, and of them that keep 
thy precepts. VER. 03. 

IN this verse two things are observable : 

1. A description of the people of God ; they are described by their 
principle, and by the course of their lives and actions, fear and 

2. David's respect to them, I am a companion of all them. 
More particularly : 

1. In the person speaking : the disparity of the persons is to be 

observed. David, who was a great prophet, yea, a king, yet saith, 

' I am a companion of them that fear thee.' Christ himself called them 

/his ' fellows :' Ps. xlv. 7, ' Thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of 


gladness above thy fellows ; and therefore David might well say, ' I 
am a companion.' 

2. David saith of all them. The universal particle is to be observed ; 
not only some, but all : when any lighted upon him, or he upon any of 
them, they were welcome to him. How well would it be for the world 
if the great potentates of the earth would thus think, speak, and do r 
' I am a companion of all them that fear thee.' Self-love reigneth in 
most men. We love the rich and despise the poor, and so ' have the 
faith of our Lord Jesus Christ in respect of persons,' James ii. 1 ; there 
fore this universality is to be regarded. ' Hearing of your faith and 
love to all the saints,' Eph. i. 15, to the mean, as well as the greatest. 
Meanness doth not take away church relations, 1 Cor. xi. 20. There- 
are many differences in worldly respects between one child of God and 
another, yea, in spiritual gifts, some weaker, some stronger, but we 
must love all, for all are children of one Father, all owned by Christ, 
' He is not ashamed to call them brethren,' Heb. ii. 11. This, I say, 
is observable, the disparity of the persons on the one side David, on 
the other all the people of God. 

First, Let us take notice of the description of the people of God. 
They are such as fear him and keep his precepts, that is, obey him 
conscientiously, out of reverence to his majesty and goodness, and due 
regard to his will delivered in his word. The same description is used : 
Acts x. 35, ' In every nation he that feareth God and worketh right 
eousness is accepted with him/ Note hence 

Doct. 1. The fear of God is the grand principle of obedience : Deut. 
v. 29, ' Oh, that there were such an heart within them, that they would 
fear me and feep my commandments always.' Here consider 

1. What is the fear of God. 

2. What influence it hath upon obedience. 

1. What is the fear of God? There is a twofold fear of God 
servile and filial. 

[1.] Servile, by which a man feareth God and hateth him, as a slave 
feareth his cruel master, whom he could wish dead, and himself rid of 
his service, and obeyeth by mere compulsion and constraint. Thus 
the wicked fear God because they have drawn an ill picture of him in 
their minds : Mat. xxv. 24, 25, ' I knew thou wast a hard man, and I 
was afraid.' They perform only a little unwilling and unpleasing 
service, and as little as they can, because of their ill conceit of God. 
So Adam feared God after his sin when he ran away from him, Gen. 
iii. 10. Yea, so the devils fear God, and rebel against him : James 
ii. 29, ' The devils also believe and tremble.' This fear hath torment 
in it to the creature, and hatred of God, because by the fear of his curse 
and the flames of hell he seeketh to drive them from sin. 

[2.] Filial fear, as children fear to offend their dear parents ; and 
thus the godly do so fear God, that they do also love him, and obey 
him, and cleave to him, and this preserveth us in our duty : Jer. xxxii. 
40, ' I will put my fear in their hearts, and they shall not depart from 
me/ This is a necessary frame of heart for all those that would 
observe and obey God. This fear is twofold" : 

(1.) The fear of reverence. 

(2.) The fear of caution. 

63.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 173 

(1.) The fear of reverence, when the soul is deeply possessed with a 
sense of God's majesty and goodness, that it dareth not offend him. 
His greatness and majesty hath an influence upon this fear. ' Fear 
ye not me ? saith the Lord : will ye not tremble at my presence, who 
have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, 
that it cannot pass it ?' Jer. v. 22. His goodness and mercy : Hosea 
iii. 5, 'They shall fear the Lord, and his goodness;' Jer. x. 6, 7, 
'There is none like unto thee, Lord; thou art great, and thy 
name is great in might : who would not fear thee, king of 
nations?' Both together engage us to live always as in his eye and 
presence, and in the obedience of his holy will, studying to please 
him in all things. 

(2.) The fear of caution is also called the fear of God, when we carry 
on the business of salvation with all possible solicitude and care. For 
it is no easy thing to please God and save our souls : Phil. ii. 12, 
* Work out your salvation with fear and trembling.' In the time of 
our sojourning here we meet with many temptations ; baits without 
are many, and the flesh within us is importunate to be pleased, and 
our account at the end of the journey is very exact : 1 Peter i. 17, 
' And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth 
according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here 
in fear.' A false heart is apt to betray us, and the entertainments of 
sense to entice and corrupt us, and we are assaulted on every side, and 
salvation and eternal happiness is the thing in chase and pursuit ; if 
we come short of it we are undone for ever: Heb. iv. 1, ' Having a 
promise of rest left with us, let us fear lest we come short of it/ There 
is no mending errors in the other world ; there we shall be convinced 
of our mistakes to our confusion, but not to our conversion and 

2. The influence it hath upon keeping God's precepts. 

[1.] In general, this is one demonstration of it, that the most emi 
nent servants of God have been commended for their fear of God : Job, 
chap. i. 1, is said to be ' a man perfect and upright, one that feared God, 
and eschewed evil/ He had a true godliness, or a filial awe of God, 
which kept him from sin, and the temptations whereby it might insin 
uate itself into his soul. So Obadiah, Ahab's steward, is described 
to be a man ' that feared God greatly,' 1 Kings xviii. 3 ; and of one 
Hananiah it is said, Neh. vii. 2, that ' he feared God greatly, above 
many others/ Men are more holy as the fear of God doth more prevail 
in their hearts, their tenderness both in avoiding and repenting of sin 
increaseth according as they entertain the awe and fear of God in their 
hearts, and here is the rise and fountain of all circumspect walking. 
As the stream is dried up that wanteth a fountain, so godliness ceaseth 
as the fear of God abateth. 

[2.] More particularly. 

(1.) It is the great pull-back and constant preservative of the soul 
against ski, as the beasts are contained in their subjection and obed 
ience to man by the fear that is upon them : Gen. vii. 2, ' The dread 
of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, that they shall not hurt 
you ;' so the fear of God is upon us : Exod. xx. 20, ' God is come to 
prove you, that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not/ 


Joseph is an instance : Gen. xxxix. 9, ' How can I do this great 
wickedness, and sin against God ?' Abraham could promise himself 
little security in a place where no fear of God was: Gen. xx.. 11, ' I 
thought surely the fear of God is not in this place, and they will slay 
me for my wife's sake.' Therefore, Prov. xxiii. 17, ' Be thou in the 
fear of the Lord all the day long.' 

(2.) It is the great excitement to obedience. 

(1st.) Duties of religion will not reverently and seriously be performed 
unless there be a deep awe of God upon our souls : ' God will be 
sanctified in all that draw nigh unto him/ Lev. x. 3. Now, what is it 
to sanctify God in our hearts, but to fear his majesty and greatness 
and goodness ? Isa. viii. 13, ' Sanctify the Lord God of hosts in your 
hearts, and make him your fear/ Therefore David desireth God to 
call in his straggling thoughts and scattered affections : Ps. Ixxxvi. 
11, 'Unite my heart to the fear of thy name;' so the serious wor 
shippers are described to be those that 'desire to fear his name/ 
Neh. i. 11. 

(2d.) Duties towards men will not be regarded in all times and 
places, unless the fear of God bear rule in our hearts ; as servants, 
when their masters are absent, neglect their work : Col. iii. 22, ' Ser 
vants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh ; not with 
eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God/ 
A Christian is alike everywhere, because God is alike everywhere. He 
that feareth God needeth no other theatre than his own conscience, 
nor other spectators than God and his holy angels. So to hinder us 
from contriving mischief in secret, when others are not aware of it : 
Lev. xix .14, ' Thou shalt not curse the deaf man, nor lay a stumbling- 
block before the blind, but shalt fear the Lord thy God.' The deaf 
hear not, the blind seeth not ; but God seeth and heareth, and that is 
enough to a gracious heart to bridle us when it is in our power to hurt 
others ; as Joseph assureth his brethren he would be just to them, ' for 
I fear God/ Gen. xlii. 18. Nehemiah did not convert the public 
treasures to his private use : Neh. v. 15, ' So did not I, for I fear God/ 
This grace, when it is hazardous to be faithful to men, makes us to 
slight the danger : Exod. i. 17, ' The midwives feared God, and did 
not as the king of Egypt commanded them ;' that kept them from 
obeying that cruel edict, to their own hazard. Neither hope of gain 
nor fear of loss can prevail where men fear God. 

(3d.) It breedeth zeal and diligence in the great and general busi 
ness of our salvation, and maketh us more careful to approve ourselves 
unto God in our whole course, that we may be accepted of him : 2 Cor. 
vii. 1, ' Perfecting holiness in the fear of God/ God is a great God, 
and. will not be put off with anything, or served with a little religious 
ness by the by, but with more than ordinary care and zeal and dili 
gence. Now, what inclineth us to this but the fear of God, or a 
reverence of his majesty and goodness ? So Phil. ii. 12, let us ' work 
out our salvation with fear and trembling.' Salvation is not to be 
looked after between sleeping and waking ; no, it requireth our great 
est attention, as having a sense of the weightiness of the work upon 
our hearts. 

Use. The use is to press us to two things : 

VER. 63.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 175 

1. To fear God. 

2. To keep his precepts if we would come under the character of his 

1. To fear God. Be not prejudiced against this grace ; it is generally 
looked upon as a left-handed grace. 

[1.] It is not contrary to our blessedness : Prov. xxviii. 14, ' Blessed 
is he that feareth always.' It doth not infringe the happiness of our 
lives to be always in God's company, mindful of our duty to him. The 
angels in heaven always behold the face of our heavenly Father, and 
in that vision their supreme happiness consists. There is a fear of 
angels and a fear of devils. The angels ever fear and reverence God, 
the devils believe and tremble: the angels' fear is reverence, the 
devils' fear is torment. God doth not require that we should always 
perplex ourselves with terrors and scruples that were a torture, not a 
blessedness ; but God hath required that we should always have a deep 
sense of his majesty and goodness impressed upon our hearts. In 
heaven this fear will not cease ; it is an essential respect due from the- 
creature to the Creator ; and as we shall love him, so fear him always ; 
and if a godly man were put to his choice, he would not be without this 
fear of God. To live always in an admiration of his excellent majesty, 
a thankful sense of his goodness, and a regard to his eye and presence 1 , 
this is our happiness. 

[2.] It is not contrary to our comfort and joy in the Lord. Fear 
to offend God, and joy in his favour may well stand together: Ps. ii. 
10, ' Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.' There is a 
sweet mixture in a gracious heart of holy awe and seriousness, with a 
delightful sense of God's goodness: these graces may easily be combined 
and brought to kiss one another : Ps. cxii. 1, ' Blessed is the man that 
ieareth the Lord, and delighteth greatly in his commandments.' When 
we do most carefully abstain from what displeaseth him, we have most 
sense of his love, and do most cheerfully practise what he requireth of 
us. All other pleasures and delights are but May-games and toys to 
that of a strict obedience, which giveth the soul a continual feast : 
Acts ix. 31, ' They walked in the fear of the Lord, and in the comforts 
of the Holy Ghost.' None have such a comfortable life as they who 
are most careful to avoid sin. We need this mixture : we should grow 
slight and secure without fear, and slavish without comfort : there 
must be fear to weaken the security of the flesh, and joy of faith to- 
revive the soul. 

[3.] It is not contrary to courage and holy boldness, by which we 
should bear up under troubles and dangers. There is a spirit of fear 
opposite to a sound mind, 2 Tim. i. 7, when men are ashamed of the gos 
pel, or afraid of the persecutions which accompany it : Trvevpa SouXeta?, 
a cowardly spirit, a worldly fear of adversities, and dangers, losses, 
reproaches. So we are commanded, ' Fear not their fear, but sanctify 
the Lord God of hosts in your hearts, and let him be your fear, and 
let him be your dread,' Isa. viii. 12, 13. No ; this is the fear of the 
world ; but I press to the fear of the Lord : Luke xii. 4, 5, 'Be not 
afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that 
they can do ; but I will forewarn you whom you shall fear : fear him 
which, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell ; yea, I say 


unto you, fear him.' This is the hest cure of the fear of the world, as 
one nail driveth out another. The fear to offend God inflameth our 
courage, and doth not abate it. 

[4.] It is not contrary to the grace of the gospel. No ; it is the 
fruit of it : Ps. cxxx. 4, ' There is forgiveness with thee, that thou 
mayest be feared.' The heart is shy of a condemning God, but closeth 
with and adhereth to a pardoning God ; and nothing breedeth this fear 
to offend so much as a tender sense of the Lord's goodness in Christ. 

2. It presseth us to keep his precepts ; that is the only evidence 
that the fear of God is rooted in our hearts. The heart must be pre 
pared to keep all ; they are all equally good, and they are all equally 
necessary ; not one of them is in vain ; and they are all joined together, 
like rings in a chain, and we are not sincere till we regard all : Ps. 
cxix. 6, ' Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all 
thy commandments.' The judgment must approve all : Ps. cxix. 128, 
' Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right, 
and I hate every false way.' The will must be set and fixed in a 
serious purpose to keep all, making conscience of the least as well as 
the greatest, the difficult as well as the easy : Heb. xiii. 18, ' I trust 
we have a good conscience in all things, willing to live honestly.' 
Earnest endeavours must be used to grow up to a more exact con 
formity to all : Phil. iii. 14, ' I press toward the mark for the prize of 
the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.' Some corruption may remain 
after all our endeavours, but none must be reserved or cherished in the 
heart : Ps. Ixvi. 18, ' If I regard iniquity in my heart/ There will 
be a secret love to some sins more than others, but it must not be in 
dulged, but checked and striven against, and prayed against : Ps. cxix. 
133, ' Let not any iniquity have dominion over me.' And this pray 
ing and striving must produce some effect, that in some measure it 
may be said of us what was said of Zachary and Elizabeth : Luke i. 6, 
' They were both righteous before God, walking in all the command 
ments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.' And we must increase 
and grow in this more and more : Col. i. 11, ' Strengthened with all 
might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long- 
suffering with joyfulness ;' and 1 Thes. iv. 1, ' As ye have received of 
us how to walk, and to please God, so do you abound more and more.' 
The entertaining of some bosom sin, which we are loath to part withal, 
darkeneth our whole comfort. 

Secondly, David's professed respect to these sort of men, ' I am a 
companion of them that fear thee,' of them, and of all them. 

Dock 2. That we should associate ourselves and keep communion 
with those who are truly gracious. Consider 

1. In what sense we are to be companions of them that fear the 

2. Why it must be so, or the reasons. 

1. In what sense may David or any other be said to be a companion 
ef those that fear the Lord, or what it importeth. 

[1.] We must join with them, or be engaged in the profession of 
the same faith and obedience unto God. The faith of all Christians is 
a ' common faith/ and their salvation a ' common salvation' to them 
all : Titus i. 4, ' Titus, my own son, after the common faith ;' Jude 3, 

VKR. 63.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 177 

' I gave diligence to write to you of the common salvation.' The com 
munion with the saints which we believe in the Creed is in the first 
and chiefest place a communion in faith and charity, and this kind of 
communion all the members and parties of the catholic church have 
one with another. They are all quickened by the same Spirit, live by 
the same faith, wait for the hope of the same glory, and so they are 
companions in the same religion. 

[2.] As many as cohabit and live in a convenient nearness must 
often meet together to join in the same worship ; for God hath insti 
tuted the assemblies of the faithful that we may openly and with mutual 
consent worship God in Christ, in prayer, thanksgiving, praises, word, 
sacraments, &c. ; and the assembling of ourselves for these ends must 
not be forsaken for negligence or fear : Heb. x. 25, ' Forsake not the 
assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is ; but ex 
hort one another, and so much the more as you see the day approach 
ing.' Now in this sense we are companions of those that fear God, as 
we join in worship with them : Ps. xlii. 4, ' I had gone with the multi 
tude ; I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and 
praise, with the multitude of them that kept holy-day.' To make 
one in the public assemblies and societies of thB godly, whereby God 
may be publicly honoured, and souls converted, comforted, and saved, 
is to be a companion of them that fear God and keep his precepts. 

[3.] To love them, and prize them, and converse with them inti 
mately upon all occasions, that by this society ye may excite one 
another to further proficiency in obedience. This is to be a companion 
with them that fear God : so the prophet kept company with those 
good men that he had described, that he himself might be confirmed 
by them, and that he might aid and confirm them. David said, Ps. 
xvi. 2, 3, ' My goodness extendeth not to thee, but to the saints on the 
earth, and the excellent, in whom is all my delight/ that is, his love 
and kindness was towards the godly, esteeming them more excellent 
and precious, how mean soever in condition, above the ungodly world, 
how great soever their rank and quality be, and taking pleasure in 
their society ; them he valued, and them he esteemed above all the 
greatest men in the world, and in them was all his joy and delight. 
So Ps. xv. 4, ' In whose eyes a vile person is contemned, but he 
honoureth them that fear the Lord.' Mark these two opposite ex 
pressions, 'the excellent of the earth,' and 'a vile person.' Thus it is 
to look on things, not with the eye of sense, but faith and grace. So 
Paul longed to see the Romans, to be comforted by the mutual faith 
of him and them, Rom. i. 12. Well, then, to be a companion is to love 
tenderly, to prize and esteem one another for the grace of God which 
is in them, desiring one another's good, especially spiritual : ' Rejoicing 
with them that do rejoice, and mourning with them that mourn,' Rom. 
xii. 15 ; praying for one another, giving thanks for one another, pre 
venting the evil, endeavouring the good of one another, by counsel, help, 
and mutual assistance. So that, * I am a companion,' is that I contract 
a friendship with them that fear God. 

[4.] To be a companion with them is to own them in all conditions, 
and to take part and lot with them : Rev. i. 9, ' I, John, who am a 
brother and companion in tribulation, and the kingdom and patience 



of Jesus Christ/ We must have a fellowship with them not only in 
their privileges, but in their sufferings ; not only companions in the 
kingdom, but companions in the tribulation and patience of Jesus 
Christ. So Heb. x. 33, ' Partly whilst ye were made a gazing-stock 
by reproaches and afflictions, and partly whilst ye became companions 
of those that were so used ; ' in the one was their passion, in the other 
their compassion, in that they not only suffered themselves, but owned 
their brethren when they suffered, and did receive them, and comfort 
them, and stand by them ; so near is the union, and so dear and tender is 
the affection, of Christian brethren among themselves. So it is said of 
Moses, Heb. xi. 25, ' Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the 
people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.' Alas! 
there are many summer friends to the gospel, painted butterflies, who 
are gone as soon as the sunshine of prosperity is gone. Brethren do 
almost forget that they are brethren, stand aloof, and are loath to own 
the afflicted. 

2. Reasons why David was a companion of all the saints. 

[1.] Our relation enforceth it: all that are in the church are of one 
kindred and lineage, descended from one common father, animated by 
one common spirit, ami knit together in the profession of one common 
faith in Christ, and therefore must be companions one to another. As 
natural relation enforceth natural love, so Christian relation Christian 
love. To make this evident, let me tell you men may be considered 
in a twofold respect as men, or as Christians and believers ; and so 
there is a twofold love due to them, aydTrvj, and <iAaeX</>ta 2 Peter 
i. 7, ' Brotherly kindness and charity.' Our common neighbour hath 
the same nature that we have, and is of the same stock, for all come 
of one blood ; besides our particular relation to them, either natural by 
kindred, consanguinity, or affinity, or political as members of the same 
kingdom, or other various respects of benefit, vicinity, or familiarity. 
As Christians and believers ; this is common to all of them that they 
have spiritual kindred, as they are partakers of the same divine nature, 
or image of God, 2 Peter i. 4, which they have from the same stock 
and original, Christ, the second Adam : 1 Cor. xv. 45, ' The first Adam 
was made a living soul ; the last Adam was made a quickening 
spirit ;' and as they make but one family, Eph. iii. 15, ' Of whom the 
whole family in heaven and earth is named ;' only this difference there 
is between Christ and Adam we derive our original from Adam by 
the succession of many intervening generations ; we are not his imme 
diate children, as Cain and Abel were ; but every believer doth im 
mediately derive his life from Christ, hath it at the next hand ; and 
besides this, there is an immediate communion by which every believer 
is joined to one another. There are several particular respects which 
do vary the degree of Christian love, as men are public and private 
persons ; some in remote churches, others in the same congregation ; 
some excel in grace, others of a lower rank ; some more, some* less use 
ful in advancing the kingdom of Christ. Thus you see the parallel 
between both these loves ; Christian charity supposeth natural love as 
the foundation of it, for grace is built upon nature, but also it subli- 
mateth it, and raiseth it to a higher degree of excellency than nature 
could reach; for the light of the gospel doth not abolish the light of 


nature, but perfecteth it, as the reasonable soul compriseth the vegeta 
tive and sensitive. We have other objects, see clearer arguments and 
reasons for love : Gal. vi. 10, ' As we have therefore opportunity, let us 
do good unto all men, especially them who are of the household of 
faith;' 2 Peter i. 7, 'And add to godliness brotherly-kindness, to 
brotherly-kindness charity.' 

[2.] The new nature inclineth us to it, and this love floweth from 
an inward propension and cordial inclination, needing no other out 
ward allurement and provocation to procure it: 1 John v. 1, ' Who 
soever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and every one 
that loveth him that begat, loveth him also that is begotten of him.' 
The same love that inclineth us to love God inclineth us to love the 
brethren also : 1 John iv. 9, ' As touching brotherly love, ye need not 
that I should write unto you, for ye yourselves are taught of God to 
love one another.' God's teaching is by effectual impression, or in 
clining the heart : it must needs be so, because all believers live in the 
communion of the same Spirit As some philosophers say there is an 
anima mundi which holdeth all the parts of it together, so there is a 
spirit of communion which uniteth all the members of Christ's mystical 
body, and inclineth them one to another. 

[3.] Gratitude to Christ maketh us to prize all that belong to him, 
and to own them, and to be companions with them in all conditions : 
1 John iii. 16-18, ' Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he 
laid down his life for us ; and we ought to lay down our lives for the 
brethren. But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother 
have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how 
dwelleth the love of God in him ? My little children, let us not love 
in word, neither in tongue, but in deed and in truth ; ' 1 John iv. 11, 
' Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.' God 
loved us greatly, sent his own Son to die for us ; now, how shall we 
express our thankfulness but by a dear and tender love to those who 
are Christ's? As David, when Jonathan was dead, inquired, 'Is 
there none of Jonathan's posterity to whom I may show kindness for 
Jonathan's sake ? ' and at length he found lame Meplribosheth ; so, is 
there none upon earth to whom we may show kindness for Christ's 
sake, who is now in heaven ? Yes ; there are the saints. Now these 
should be dear and precious to us, and we should be companions with 
them in all conditions. 

[4.] Because of the profit and utility redounding. A true friend is 
valuable in secular matters, much more a spiritual friend : Prov. xxvii. 
17, ' As iron sharpeneth iron, so doth a man the countenance of his 
friend.' When a man is dull, his friend puts an edge upon him ; he 
is a mighty support and stay to us : Prov. xvii. 17, 'A friend loveth at 
all times, and a brother is born for adversity ;' Prov. xxvii. 9, ' The 
perfume of an ointment rejoiceth the soul, so doth the sweetness of a 
man's friend by hearty counsel ; ' and in some cases he telleth us, ' A 
friend is better than a brother.' Now, if an ordinary true friend be so 
valuable, what is a Christian friend ? A holy, heavenly, faithful friend 
is one of the greatest treasures upon earth ; therefore we should seek 
out such and associate with them. 

Use. Let us see, then, whom we make our companions ; let us avoid 


evil company lest we be defiled by them, and frequent good company 
that we may be mutually comforted and quickened : ' I am a com 
panion of them that fear thee.' Interpreters suppose it was spoken in 
opposition to the bands of the wicked mentioned ver. 61. If they 
unite, so should we. This, then, is our business, the rejecting of evil 
company, and the choice of good companions. To enforce this, take 
these considerations: 

1. Friendship is necessary, because man is tfaov TroXirtKov, a sociable 
creature. Man was not made to live alone, but in company with others, 
and for mutual society and fellowship ; and they that fly all company 
and live to and by themselves are counted inhuman : Eccles. iv. 9-12, 
there the benefit of society is set forth, ' Two are better than one ; for 
if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow : but woe to him that is alone 
when he falleth ; he hath not another to lift him up again : if two lie 
together they have heat ; but how can one be warm alone ? and if one 
prevail against him, two shall withstand him.' Thus far Solomon. 
The Egyptians in their hieroglyphics expressed the unprofitableness 
of a solitary man by a single millstone, which alone grindeth no meal, 
but with its fellow is very serviceable for that purpose. The Lord ap 
pointed mankind to live in society, that they might be mutually helpful 
to one another : he never made them to live in deserts, as wild beasts 
love to go alone, but as the tame, in flocks and herds. The Lord hath 
given variety of gifts to the sons of men, to all some, but to none 
all, that one might stand in need of another, and make use of one 
another ; and the subordination of one gift to another is the great in 
strument of upholding the world. Man is weak, and needeth society ; 
for every man is insufficient to himself, and wants the help of others : 
and man is inclined by the bent of his nature ; we have a certain 
desire to dwell together and live in society. 

2. Though man affects society, yet in our company we may use 
choice, and the good must converse with the good, for these reasons : 

[1.] Because like will sort with like. Friendship is very much 
founded in suitableness, and maintained by it : idem velle et nolle, est 
amicitia. The godly will have special love to the godly, and they that 
fear God will be a companion of those that fear him ; they are more 
dear and precious to them than others ; as a wicked man easily smell- 
eth out a fit companion : Ps. 1. 18, ' When thou sawest a thief, then 
thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers/ 
Like will to like, and therefore the godly should be dear and precious 
to one another. Every man's company wherein he delighteth showeth 
what manner of man he is himself. The fowls of heaven flock together 
according to their several kinds. Ye shall not see doves flocking with 
the ravens, nor divers kinds intermixed. Every man is known by his 
company^ They that delight in drinking, love swilling and drunken com 
panions ; in gaming, love such as make no conscience of their time ; in 
hunting, love such as are addicted to such exercise; in arms, love men 
of a soldierly and military spirit; they that delight in books love 
scholars and persons of a philosophical breeding. That which every 
man is taken withal he loveth to do it with his friend ; so certainly they 
that love and fear God delight in those that love him and fear him, 
and their company is a refreshing to one another. 


[2.] If they be not like, intimacy and converse will make them like : 
every man is wrought upon by his company. We imitate those whom 
we love, and with whom we often converse : Prov. xiii. 20, ' He that 
walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be 
destroyed.' As a man that walketh in the sunshine is tanned insen 
sibly, and as Hoses' face shined by conversing with God, ere we are 
aware we adopt their manners and customs, and get a tincture from 
them. So Prov. xxii. 24, 25, ' Make no friendship with an angry man, 
and with a furious man thou shalt not go, lest thou learn his ways and 
get a snare to thy soul/ A man would think that of all sins, wrath 
and anger should not be propagated by company, the motions and furies 
of it are so uncomely to a beholder ; yet secretly a liking of the person 
breedeth a liking of his ways, and a man getteth such a frame of 
spirit as those have whom he hath chosen for his companions. This 
should be the more regarded by us, because we are sooner made evil 
by evil company than good by good company : 1 Cor. xv. 33, ' Be not 
deceived; evil communications corrupt good manners;' evil words or 
6f*i\i<u tcaical, evil converses, corrupt good manners. We convey a 
disease to others, but not our health. Oh, how careful should we be 
of our friendship, that we may converse with such as may go before 
us as examples of piety, and provoke us by their strictness, heavenly- 
mindedness, mortification, and self-denial, to more love to God, zeal 
for his glory, and care of our salvation! Especially doth this concern 
the young, who, by their weakness of judgment, the vehemency of their 
affections, and want of experience, may be easily drawn into a snare. 

[3.] Our love to God should put us upon loving his people and 
making them our intimates ; for religion influenceth all things, our 
relations, common employments, friendships, and converses ; it is a 
smart question that of the prophet, 2 Chron. xix. 2, ' Shouldst thou help 
the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord ? ' Surely a gracious 
heart cannot take them into his bosom. He loveth all with a love of 
good-will, as seeking their good, but not with a love of complacency, as 
delighting in them. Our neighbour must be loved as ourselves ; our 
natural neighbour as a natural self, with a love of benevolence ; and 
our spiritual neighbour as our spiritual self, with a love of complacency. 
In opposition to complacency we may hate our sinful neighbour, as we 
must ourselves : ' The wicked is an abomination to the righteous,' Prov. 
xxix. 26. The hatred of abomination is opposite to the love of com 
placency, as odium inimicitice tb amor benevolentice. So David saith, 
Ps. cxxxix. 21, 22, 'Do not I hate them, Lord, that hate thee? 
and am I not grieved with those that rise up against thee ? I hate 
them with a perfect hatred ; I count them mine enemies;' I cannot 
cry up a confederacy with them. They that have a kindness for God 
will be thus affected. 

3. There is a threefold friendship sinful, civil, and religious. 

[1.] Sinful, when men agree in evil, as drunkards with drunkards, 
or robbers with robbers : Prov. i. 14, ' Cast in thy lot among us ; let 
us all have one purse.' When men conspire against the truth and 
interest of Christ in the world, or league themselves against his people, 
as Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek, Ps. Ixxxiii. 3, divided in interests, 
but united in hatred ; as Herod and Pilate against Christ. This is 


unitas contra unitatem, as Austin, or consortium factionis, a bond of 
iniquity, or confederacy in evil. Again 

['2.] There is a civil friendship, built on natural pleasure and 
profit, when men converse together for trade or other civil ends. 
Thus men are at liberty to choose their company as their interests and 
course of their employments lead them. The apostle saith, a man 
must go out of the world if he should, altogether abstain from the com 
pany of the wicked : 1 Cor. v. 9, 10, ' I wrote to you in an epistle not 
to company with fornicators ;. yet not altogether with the fornicators of 
this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, for then 
must ye needs go out of the world.' But 

[3.] There is religious friendship, which is built on virtue and 
grace, and is called ' the unity of the Spirit:' Eph. vi. 3, ' Endeavouring 
to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace/ Now this is the 
firmest bond of all. Sinful societies are soon dissolved ; drunkards 
and profane fellows, though they seem to unite and hold together, yet 
upon every cross word they fall out and break ; and civil friendship, 
which is built on pleasure and profit, cannot be so firm as that which 
is built on honesty and godliness. This is among the good and holy, 
who are not so changeable as the bad and carnal, and the ground of it 
is more lasting. This is amicitia per se, the other per accidens, from 
constitution of soul and likeness Of spirits. The good we seek may be 
possessed without envy ; the friends do not straiten and intrench 
upon one another. Self-love and envy soon breaketh our friendship, 
but these seek the good of another as much as their own delight in the 
graces of one another. 

[4.] In religious friendship we owe a love to all that fear God : 
Acts iv. 32, ' The multitude of them that believed were of one heart 
and one soul.' Love is called o-wSecr/i09 TTJS reXetor^To?, ' the bond of 
perfectness,' Col. iii. 14. All things are bound together by a holy 
society, and preserved by it.' There is in love a desire of union and 
fellowship with those whom we love: 1 Sam. xviii. 1, 'Jonathan's 
soul was knit to the soul of David, and he loved him as his own soul;' 
and the apostle biddeth all Christians to be ' knit together in brotherly 
love,' Col. ii. 2 ; without this they are as a besom unbound, they fall 
all to pieces. 

[5.] Though there must be a friendship to all, yet some are to be 
chosen for our intimacy. Our Lord Christ had Peter, James, and 
John, Mat. xvii. 1 ; Mat. xxvi. 37, ' He took with him Peter, and the 
two sons of Zebedee.' When he raised Jairus' daughter, ' he suffered 
none to go in but Peter, James, and John/ Luke viii. 51, eKX-e/crcov 
eK\.KTOTpoi. This may be because of suitableness, or special inclina 
tion, or their excellency of grace, sicut se habet simpliciter ad simpli 
citer, ita mctgis ad magis. 

[6.] Our converse with these must be improved to the use of edify 
ing, to do one another good by reproof, advice, counsel : Lev. xix. 17, 
' Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart ; thou shalt in anywise 
reprove him, and not suffer sin to be upon him.' This is kindness to 
his soul : Horn. i. 11, ' I long to see you, that I may impart unto you 
some spiritual gift, to the end you may be established/ 



The earth, Lord, is full of thy mercy ; teach me thy statutes. 

VER. 64. 

IN this verse I observe 

1. David's petition, teach me thy statutes. 

2. The argument or consideration which encourageth him to ask it 
of God, the earth, Lord, is full of thy mercy. The sum and sub 
stance of this verse will be comprised in these five propositions : 

1. That saving knowledge is a benefit that must be asked of God. 

2. That this benefit cannot be too often or sufficiently enough asked; 
it is his continual request. 

3. In asking we are encouraged by the bounty or mercy of God. 

4. That God is merciful all his creatures declare. 

5. That his goodness to all creatures should confirm us in hoping 
for saving grace or spiritual good things. 

Prop. 1. That saving knowledge is a benefit that must be asked of 
God, for three reasons : 

1. God is the proper author of it. 

2. It is a singular favour where he bestoweth it. 

3. Prayer is the appointed means to obtain it. 

1. God is the proper author of it. The fountain of wisdom is not 
in man himself, but God giveth it to whom he pleaseth. We were at 
first endowed by him with a reasonable soul and faculty of understand 
ing : John i. 4, ' In him was life, and this life was the light of man.' 
All life is of God, especially that life which is light. The reasonable 
soul and the natural faculty of understanding cometh from him, and 
if it be disordered, as it is by sin, it must be by him restored and rec 
tified ; it is all God's gift. Now man is fallen from that light of life 
wherein he was created, his Maker must be his mender, he must go to 
' the Father of lights ' to have his light cleared, James i. 17, and his 
understanding freed from those mistakes and errors wherewith it was 
obscured. All knowledge is from God, much more saving grace or a 
sound knowledge of the mysteries of the gospel. Many scriptures 
speak to this: Job xxxii. 8, ' There is a spirit in man, and the inspira- 
of the Almighty giveth understanding.' Though the dial be right set, 
yet it showeth not the time of the day except the sun shineth ; so the 
spirit of man will grope and fumble in the clearest cases without a 
divine irradiation. God enlighteneth the mind, directeth the judg 
ment, giveth understanding what to do or say. So he challengeth it 
as his prerogative : Job xxxviii. 26, ' Who hath put wisdom into the 
inward parts, or given understanding unto the heart ?' The exercise of 
the outward senses is from God, who gives the seeing eye, the hearing 
ear, much more the right exercise of the internal faculties ; an under 
standing heart is much more from the Lord : Prov. ii. 6, ' The Lord 
giveth wisdom ; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understand 
ing;' Dan. ii. 21, 'He giveth wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to 
them that know understanding.' Certainly all true wisdom is from 
above : James iii. 17, 'The wisdom that is from above is first pure,' 


&c. He distinguished there between the wisdom that is not from 
above and that which is from above. Man hath so much wisdom yet 
left as to cater for the body and the concernments of the bodily life 
(called ' thine own wisdom,' Prov. xxiii. 4) ; therefore he saith, ver. 
15, ' This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, 
devilish/ But for wisdom that concerneth the other world and our 
everlasting concernments, that is of God, that is from above ; the 
wisdom that is exercised in pure, peaceable, fruitful, self-denying obed 
ience. All that have any of this wisdom should acknowledge God, and 
all that would have it should depend upon him, and run to the foun 
tain where enough is to be had. Man's wit is but borrowed, and he 
holdeth it of God. Vitia etiam sine magistro discuntur he needeth 
no teacher in what is evil and carnal, but in what is holy and spiritual 
he needeth it. 

2. It is a singular favour to them on whom God bestoweth this 
heavenly wisdom, and so puts a difference between them and others. 
It is a greater sign of friendship and respect to them than if God had 
given them all the world : Mark xiii. 11, ' To you it is given to know 
the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to others it is not given.' 
This is no common benefit, but a favour which God reserveth for his 
peculiar people ; so John xv. 15, ' I have called you friends, for all 
things which I have heard of my Father I have made known to you.' 
That is the highest argument of friendship, not to give you wealth, 
and honour, and greatness, but to give you an enlightened mind and a 
renewed heart. God may give honour and greatness and a worldly 
estate in judgment, as beasts fatted for destruction may be put into 
large pastures ; but he doth not teach his statutes in judgment ; it is 
a favour, though he useth a sharper discipline in teaching : Ps. xliv. 
12, ' Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, and teachest him out 
of thy law.' If God will teach his child not only by the word but by 
the rod, and useth a sharp discipline to instruct in the lesson of Chris 
tianity, it is a greater favour than if God did let him alone, and suffer 
him to perish with the wicked in his wrath. The prosperity of wicked 
men is so far from being a felicity to them, that it is rather the greatest 
judgment; and to be punished and rebuked by God for all that we do 
amiss, and thereby to be reduced to the sense and practice of our duty, 
is indeed the greatest favour and mercy of God, and so the most valu 
able felicity and evidence of God's tender care over us. So Prov. iii. 
31, 32, ' Envy not the oppressor, and choose none of his ways ; for the 
froward is an abomination to the Lord, and his secret is with the 
righteous.' You are depressed and kept bare and low, but your adver 
saries flourish and grow insolent; you cannot therefore say, God 
hateth you, or loveth them, If the Lord hath given you the saving 
knowledge of himself and his Christ, and only given them worldly 
happiness, it is a great token of his love to you and hatred to them, 
that you need not envy them, for you are dignified with the higher 

3. Prayer is the appointed means to obtain it. There are other 
means by which God conveyeth this heavenly wisdom, as by study and 
search. Dig for wisdom as for silver, and for understanding as hid 
treasures, Prov. ii. 4. Dig in the mines of knowledge : attend upon 

VER. 64.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 185 

the word which is able to make us wise unto salvation : Mark iv. 24, 
' Take heed what or how ye hear : with what measure ye mete, it shall 
be measured to you ; and unto you that hear shall more be given.' 
But all are sanctified by prayer : Prov. ii. 3, ' Cry for knowledge, and 
lift up thy voice for understanding.' Bene orasse est bene studuisse, 
saith Luther ; so to pray well is to hear aright. God giveth under 
standing by the ministry of the word, but he will be sought unto and 
acknowledged in the gift, otherwise we make an idol of our own under 
standing : Prov. iii. 5, ' Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and 
lean not upon thine own understanding : in all thy ways acknowledge 
him, and he shall direct thy paths.' Let us not make a God of our own 
wisdom ; do not seek it in the means without prayer to the Lord. Let 
us not study without prayer, nor you hear without prayer, nor go about 
any business in your general and particular callings without prayer. 

Prop. 2. This benefit cannot be too often nor too sufficiently asked 
of God. 

1. Because of our want We never know so much but we may 
know more of God's mind, and know it better and to better purpose. 
To know things as we ought to know them is the great gift : 1 Cor. 
viii. 2, ' If any man thinketh that he knoweth anything, he Icnoweth 
nothing yet as he ought to know ; ' that we may be more sanctified, 
more prudent, and orderly in governing our hearts and lives, that we 
may know things seasonably when they concern us in any special 
business and temptation: Prov. xxviii. 26, 'He that trusteth in his 
own heart is a fool ; but he that walketh wisely shall be delivered ; ' 
that is, he that followeth his own conceit soon falleth into a snare ; he 
that maketh his bosom his oracle, and his own wit his counsel, thinks 
himself wise enough without daily seeking to God to order his own 
business, never succeedeth well, but plungeth himself into manifold 

2. From God's manner of giving ; he is not weary and tired with 
constant supplicants : James i. 5, ' If any man lack wisdom, let him 
ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and 
it shall be given him.' The throne of grace lieth always open ; the 
oftener we frequent it, the more welcome. We frown upon one that 
often troubleth us with his suits, but it is not so with God ; we may 
beg and beg again. 

3. The value of the benefit itself. Saving knowledge, or the light 
of the Spirit, keepeth alive the work of grace in our hearts. Habitual 
graces will soon wither and decay without a continual influence. The 
increase of sanctification cometh into the soul by the increase of saving 
knowledge : 2 Peter i. 2, ' Grace be multiplied unto you, through the 
knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ our Lord.' The more we grow 
thriving in knowledge, the more we grow in grace, and the heart and 
life is more engaged. As we learn somewhat more of God in Christ, 
our awe and love to him is increased: Eph. iv. 20, 21, ' Ye have not 
so learned Christ, if so be that you have heard him, and been taught of 
him as the truth is in Jesus ;' that is, if ye are taught and instructed 
by Christ himself in the truth. It is not every sort of hearing Christ 
or knowledge which will do us good. Many learn him and know him 
who abuse that knowledge which they have of him ; but if he effec- 


tually teach u by his Spirit, then our knowledge is practical and 
operative ; we will practise what we know, be careful to please God in 
all things. 

4. From the temper of a gracious heart : a taste of this knowledge 
will make us desire a further supply, that we may be taught more, 
and the soul may be more sanctified ; therefore doth David deal with 
God for the increase of saving knowledge. We are contented with a 
little taste of heavenly doctrine, but holy men are not so. Show me 
thy mind, let me see thy glory : Hosea vi. 3, ' Then shall we know, if 
we follow on to know the Lord.' They are for growth as well as truth ; 
they experimentally know how good God is, and the more they know 
him the more they see their ignorance, and that there is more behind 
to be known of him. Before they had but a flying report of him, now 
they are acquainted with him, and have a nearer inspection into his 
ways, and this is but little in comparison of what they desire. We 
are bidden, 2 Peter iii. 18, to ' grow in grace, and in the knowledge of 
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.' Present measures do not satisfy 
them ; they must grow in knowledge, as grow in grace, more love to 
Christ, more delight in his ways. 

Prop. 3. In asking any spiritual gift we are encouraged by the 
bounty and mercy of God. David signifieth both. 

1. His bounty or benignity, or that free inclination which is in God 
to do good to his creatures. 

2. His mercy respects the creature as affected with any misery. 
Mercy properly is a proneness to succour and relieve a man in misery 
notwithstanding sin. Now the larger thoughts of mercy, the more 
hope ; partly because we have no plea of merit, and therefore mercy is 
the fountain of all the good which cometh to us from God. We can 
not come to him as a debtor, and therefore we must come to him as a 
free benefactor. Wherewith can we oblige God ? We have nothing 
to give to him but what is his own already, and was first received from 
him : ' All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee,' 
1 Chron. xxix. 14 ; we pay the great governor of the world out of his 
own exchequer. The apostle maketh the challenge, Kom. xi. 35, ' Who 
hath given him first, and it shall be recompensed to him ? ' The sun 
oweth nothing to the beam, but the beam all to the sun ; the fountain 
oweth nothing to the stream, but the stream hath all from the 
fountain : so we have all from God, can bring nothing to him which 
was not his before, and came from him. Partly because there is a 
contrary merit, an ill-deserving upon us, for which he might deny us 
any further mercies : Ps. xxv. 8, ' Good and upright is the Lord ; and 
therefore he will teach sinners in the way ; ' if the sinner be weary of 
his wandering, and would be directed of the Lord for the time to 
come, God is upright, he will not mislead us ; and he is good, will 
readily lead us in a right path. Sin shall not obstruct our mercies, 
and therefore must not keep the penitent supplicant back from con 
fidence to be heard in his prayer, when he would be directed in the 
ready way to happiness. If you would fain be reduced to a good life 
after all your straying, humbly lay yourselves at God's feet : 1 Kings 
xx. 31, ' We have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are 
merciful kings : let us, I pray thee, put sackcloth on our loins, and 

VER. 64.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 187 

ropes upon our heads, and go out to the king of Israel ; peradventurc 
he will save thy life." If God were most tenacious, we have cause to 
beat his ears continually with our suits and supplications, such is our 
want ; but he is good, and ready to guide poor creatures ; nay, he is 
merciful ; and former sins shall be no obstruction to us, if at length 
we are willing to return to our duty. 

Prop. 4. The universal experience of the world possesseth all men's 
minds with this apprehension, that God is a merciful God : ' The 
earth, Lord, is full of thy mercy ; ' the world and everything therein 
sets forth his goodness to us. The same is said in other places : Ps. 
xxxiii. 5, ' The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.' If earth, 
what is heaven ? Ps. cxlv. 9, ' His tender mercy is over all his works.' 

1. Let us see that every creature is a monument and witness of 
God's mercy and goodness. Things animate and inanimate, the 
heavens and earth, and all things contained therein, declare that there 
is a powerful, wise, and good God. There is no part of the world that 
we can set our eyes upon but it speaketh praise to God, and the 
thoughts of his bounty to the creatures, especially to man ; for all 
things were either subjected to man's dominion, or created for his use 
and benefit. If we look to the heavens, all serveth for the use and 
benefit of mankind : Ps. viii. 3, 4, ' When I consider thy heavens, the 
work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, 
what is man that thou are mindful of- him, and the son of man, that 
thou visitest him?' The lowest heaven affordeth us breath, winds, 
rain ; the middle or second heaven affordeth us heat, light, influence ; 
and the third heaven an eternal habitation, if we serve God. In 
earth, all the things daily in our view speak to God's praise, if we 
had the leisure to hear them : these creatures and works of his that 
are daily in our view represent him as a merciful God. This is the 
lesson which is most legible in them, whether we sit at home in our 
houses or go abroad, and consider land or water. Go to the animate 
creatures, the beasts of the field: Ps. xxxvi. 6, 'Thou preservest 
man and beast ; ' Job xii. 7, 8, ' But ask now the beasts, and they 
shall teach thee ; and the fowls of the air shall declare unto thee : 
or speak to the earth and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of 
the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these 
that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?' His providence 
reacheth to an innumerable multitude of creatures, giving them 
life and motion, and sustaining them, and relieving their neces 
sities, and doth largely bestow his blessing upon them according to 
their nature and condition. And this goodness of God shineth forth 
in all his creatures ; not only in what he doth to them themselves, but 
in what he doth about them for man's sake. They were defiled with 
man's sin, and therefore he might in justice have abolished them, or 
made them useless to man, or instruments of his grief; but they are 
continued for our comfort, that we might live in a well-furnished 
world. Now, come to man himself, good, bad, wicked, godly : ' His 
sun shineth, his rain falleth on the evil and good, just and unjust,' 
Mat. v. 44. Great mercy is still continued to the fallen creature, even 
to the impenitent : Acts xiv. 17, ' Neverthelesss 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.' What 
was God's witness? 'AyadoTroi&v, he doth good; much patience is 
used, men's lives continued while they sin, and means vouchsafed for 
their reclaiming; food, raiment, friends, habitations, health, ease, 
liberty afforded to them, and all to show that we have to do with a 
most merciful God, who is willing to be reconciled to the sinning 
creature. Gc> to the godly, and what is all their experience but a 
constant course of mercy ? David's admiration declares it : Ps. cxxxix. 
17, 18, 'How precious are thy thoughts to me, Lord ! how great is 
the sum of them ! if I should count them, they are more in number 
than the sand.' He was in a maze when he thought of the various 
dispensations of God's providence ; there was no getting out. The 
Lord filleth up his servants' lives with great and various mercies, even 
in their warfare and pilgrimage here in this world ; abundance of 
invaluable mercies, that if we do but consider what we do receive, we 
must needs be confirmed in this truth by our own senses. Everything 
is a mercy to a vessel of mercy. 

2. Wherein God expresseth his mercy to them in creation and pro 

[1 .] In creating them. It was great mercy that, being infinitely 
perfect in himself from all eternity, and so not needing anything, he 
took the creatures out of nothing, which therefore could merit nothing, 
and communicated his goodness to them : ' For thy pleasure they are 
and were created,' Eev. iv. 11. 

[2.] In preserving and continuing them so long as he seeth good. 
The heavens continue according to his ordinance ; the beasts, and 
fowls, and fishes continue according to his pleasure: all the living 
creatures need many things for their daily sustentation which their 
Creator abundantly supplieth to them, and therefore the whole earth 
is full of his mercy. One creature the scripture taketh notice of : 
Luke xii. 24, ' Consider the ravens, for God feedeth them ; ' and 
again, Job xxxvii. 41, ' He feedeth the young ravens when they cry 
and wander for lack of meat ; ' and Ps. cxlvii. 9, ' He giveth to the 
beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.' Why is the 
raven made such an instance of providence above other fowls, or other 
living creatures? Some say it is animal sibi rapacissimum ; others, 
other things, rot)? veorrovs eV^aXXet, casts its young out of the nest 
as soon as they are able to fly, and put to hard shifts for themselves. 
All this showeth his mercy, how ready he is to supply the miserable. 

Prop. 5. His goodness to all the creatures should confirm his people 
in hoping for saving grace or spiritual good things. Why, all the 
business will be to show you the force of this argument, and that it is 
a prop to faith. 

1. We may reason from the less to the greater. Our Lord hath 
taught us so for food and clothing : Mat. vi. 28-30, ' And why take ye 
thought for raiment ? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow ; 
they toil not, neither do they spin : and yet I say unto you, that even 
Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Where 
fore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is and 
to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, 
ye of little faith?' For fowls and lilies, they have no arts of 

VER. 64.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 189 

tilling, spinning, are not of such account with God as mankind, as his 
people. So for protection : Mat. x. 29-31 , ' Are not two sparrows sold 
for a farthing ? and one of them shall not fall to the ground without 
your Father : but the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear 
ye not, therefore ; ye are of more value than many sparrows.' The 
reasoning is good; if he hath mercy for kites, he hath also for 
children, who are not only in a higher rank of creatures, but in a 
renewed state, and reconciled to him by Christ, become his friends and 
children, whom he tendeth as the apple of his eye ; much more when 
they come for spiritual benefits pleasing to the Lord : 1 Kings iii. 9, 
10, ' Give, therefore, thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy 
people, that I may discern between good and bad ; for who is able to 
judge this thy so great a people ? And the speech pleased the Lord, 
that Solomon had asked this thing.' Now all these amount to a strong 
probability, if not a certainty. It is a mistake to think that faith only 
goeth upon certainties. No ; sometimes it is mightily encouraged by 
probabilities. These must not be left out ; for if I want any spiritual 
blessing, is it not a great encouragement to remember God's merciful 
nature shining forth in all his works ? If kind to his creatures, will 
he not be kind to me? If he causeth his sun to shine upon the 
wicked, will he not lift up the light of his countenance upon my soul? 
If his rain fall upon their fields, will he not let the dew of his grace 
fall upon my barren heart ? Though the argument be not absolutely 
and infallibly conclusive, yet here is such a concurrence of probabi 
lities that we should go and try what he will do for our souls. 

2. They in their rank have their supplies, and we in our rank have our 
supplies ; therefore his kindness to all creatures should encourage new 
creatures to expect their help from him ; for God doth good to all his 
creatures according to their necessity and capacity ; his giving them sup 
plies convenient for them is a pawn of God's pleasure to bestow upon his 
servants greater gifts than these. All things that look to God have 
necessaries provided for them according to the condition of their 
nature ; and therefore, if you have another nature, and besides the 
good things of this life do need the good things which belong to the 
life to come, he will give us gifts and graces as he giveth them their 
food ; for these are as necessary for this kind of life as food for that. 
As they in their rank find mercy, so we in ours ; his general goodness 
confirmeth us in expecting these more special favours ; for as there is 
a general benignity to all creatures, so there is a special to his children : 
Ps. xxxvi. 6, 7, ' Thou preservest man and beast. How excellent is 
thy loving-kindness, Lord ! therefore the children of men put their 
trust under the shadow of thy wings.' His common kindness and his 
special love are often compared together ; they agree in this, that both 
come from a good God. Therefore the argument holdeth strong, if 
good to all creatures, then good to new creatures. Why should we 
think that he would not show his goodness to us also ? Again, they 
agree in this, that in doing good God doth not consider the worthiness 
of the creature, but his own goodness and self-inclination to preserve 
what he hath made ; as he did not disdain to give life to the meanest 
creatures, so he doth not disdain to preserve them. As they had their 
life from him at first, so they have their life still in him, the poorest 


worm not excepted : not a worm, not a gnat, not a fly but tastes of 
God's bounty. God disdaineth not to look after the most abject things. 
So the plea of unworthiness lieth not in bar against the new creature, 
for necessary supplies God giveth out of his own goodness. Now, they 
differ in the" kinds of the mercy, one common, the other saving ; ^and 
the special subjects of them, one is to all creatures, the other is to 
God's peculiar people ; and in the manner of conveyance, the one 
floweth in the channel of common providence, the other is conveyed to 
us by the golden pipe of the Mediator. Well, then, the creatures have 
their mercies, and wicked men their mercies, that they prize and value ; 
and the people of God have also what they prize and esteem. 

3. God doth good to every one according to their necessity and capa 
city. He doth not give meat to the trees, nor stones to the beasts, 
but provideth food and nourishment convenient for them ; so to his 
people, according to their condition of nature and special capacity. 
The general capacity is the condition of their natures, the special 
capacity is want or earnest desire. If we extremely need or earnestly 
desire these blessings, then we may reason from God's general good 
ness to all the creatures to that special act of goodness which we expect 
from him. Pray, mark how God's general goodness is expressed, Ps. 
cxlv. 15, 16, ' The eyes of all things wait upon thee, and thou givest 
them their meat in due season : thou openest thy hand and satisfiest 
the desire of every living thing.' He keepeth a constant eye of provi 
dence, and if the desire be great, he doth not frustrate the natural ex 
pectation of hungry creatures, but giveth them that sort of food which 
is fit for them. Now God expecteth the same from new creatures : if 
necessity and vehement desire meet, he promises supply : ' Open thy 
mouth wide, and I will fill it/ Ps. Ixxxi. 10 ; and Ps. cxlv. 19, ' The 
Lord will fulfil the desire of them that fear him, he also will hear their 
cry, and will save them.' The beasts mourn and cry in their kind ; we 
pray and cry in our kind : needy desires will be heard. He is in a ca 
pacity to receive spiritual blessings who is sensible of their necessity for 
the happiness of his immortal soul, and doth prize and value them, 
and earnestly desire them. The man of God was under a necessity, 
for he apprehended himself miserable, and at a loss without it ; for he 
desired no other mercy. A gracious heart cannot be satisfied with low 
things. Be thus affected, and then this argument will be of use to you. 
Use 1. For reproof. Since God is so merciful, how much are they 
to blame 

1. Who render themselves incapable of the benefit of mercy by im 
penitence persisted in against the means of grace ! They slight his 
common mercy, and cut off themselves from his saving mercy. Abused 
goodness will be destructive : Kom. ii. 4, 5, ' Or despisest thou the 
riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering, not know 
ing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance ? but after thy 
hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against 
the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.' 

2. The stupid and senseless, which do not take notice of the mercy 
of God which shineth forth in all the creatures I A man can turn his 
eye nowhere but in every place and quarter of the world he shall see 
plain testimonies of God's mercy. But alas ! how much of this is lost 

VER. 64.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 191 

and passed over for want of observation ! Isa. i. 3, ' The ox knoweth 
his owner, and the ass his master's crib ; but Israel doth not know, 
my people doth not consider.' All this goodness was left in the earth 
to invite our minds and hearts to God ; therefore, as the bee sucketh 
honey out of every flower, so should we still dwell on the thoughts of 
God's goodness, represented to us in everything we see and feel. 

3. That think of God's mercy with extenuating and diminishing 
thoughts, and do not raise their hopes and confidence by a serious re 
flection upon that ample discovery which he hath made of it in all his 
works ! If God be good to all his creatures, why should we be left out 
of the number ? Surely God will not be backward to those that earnestly 
desire his grace ; therefore those that deject themselves, that say, God 
will not hear me, or regard my prayers, are to be condemned. 

Use 2. Information, the lively light of the Spirit is a special mercy, 
Our misery lieth in the ignorance of God and the transgression of his 
law ; our happiness in being enlightened and sanctified by the Spirit of 
wisdom and understanding. It is God's great gift : Jer. xxiv. 7, ' I 
will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord ; and they 
shall be my people, and I will be their God ; for they shall return 
unto me with all their heart/ 

Use 3. To exhort you to cherish in your souls good thoughts of God, 
and the fulness and largeness of his bounty and mercy. The devil 
seeks to weaken our opinion of God's goodness ; he thought to possess 
our first parents with this conceit, that God was envious, so as to draw 
them away from God. It will be of use to you : 

1. In all afflictive providences. Those who are poor and destitute, 
or in prison and banishment, or bereft of children, or oppressed with 
guilty fears, or assaulted with any other calamity : Job xiii. 15, 
' Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him ; ' still he is a good God. 
Here is the glory of faith, to believe him as a gracious father when we 
feel him as an enemy. Satan will be sure to put in upon these occa 
sions to tell you that God is an enemy, harsh, severe, implacable in 
his dealings, one that regardeth you not in your misery, that giveth 
you no rest nor respite in your troubles ; if he did not hate you, how 
could he deal thus with you ? and so striketh a terror into the minds of 
men, that they are afraid of nothing so much as of God, and of coming 
to him by Christ. No ; ' God is love,' a father when he frowneth as well 
as when he smileth : Heb. xii. 10, 'He verily chastiseth us for our profit; ' 
and ' we are chastened of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with 
the world.' And in reason should it not be so ? Did your parents 
hate you because they were careful of your breeding, and sometimes 
corrected you for your faults ? There is more of compassion than pas 
sion in his severest strokes. He hath the bowels of a mother, but yet 
the wisdom of a father. His love must not be exercised to the pre 
judice of his other attributes. He that pulleth you out of a deep 
gulf, though he breaketh your arm in pulling you out, doth not he 
love you ? God is love, and the giver of all good things. 

2. It is a great motive to repentance. As the prodigal thought of his 
father, so should we return : Jer. iii. 12, ' Go and proclaim these 
words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, 
saith the Lord, and I will not cause mine auger to fall upon you ; 


for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for 
ever.' Come, lie at his feet, see what mine infinite love will do for 
you : 1 Kings xx. 31, 'We have heard that the kings of the house of 
Israel are merciful kings.' When you first begin with God, this is an 
argument and ground of comfort, much more when you renew your 
repentance. Hard thoughts of God keep us off from him, but his 
loving and merciful nature inviteth us to him. 

3. It sweetens the duties of holiness : 1 John v. 3, ' This is the love 
of God, that we keep his commandments ; and his commandments are 
not grievous.' This makes our resistance of sin more serious : Ezra ix. 
13, ' Seeing thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities de 
served, should we again break thy commandments ? ' 

4. To quicken and enliven your prayers for grace. You have to do 
with a merciful God : Ps. cxlv. 19, ' He will fulfil the desires of them 
that fear him ; he also will hear their cry, and will save them.' 


Thou Jiast dealt well with thy servant, Lord, according to thy word. 

VER. 65. 

THE addresses that are made to God in this psalm are mostly prayers ; 
while we are in the world we are compassed about with divers neces 
sities and wants, but yet there is an intermixture of thanksgivings. 
We must not always be complaining, but sometimes giving of thanks. 
David was often exercised with various calamities ; but as soon as he 
got rid of any danger, or obtained any deliverance, he is ready with 
his thanks and praises. Blessed will that time be when our mournings 
are altogether turned into triumphs, and our complaints into thanks 
givings. But now here in the world gratulation should not wholly be 
shut out, but find a room in our addresses to God, as well as acknow 
ledgments of sin and supplications for grace. None have to do with 
God but they find him bountiful, and there is no reason but present 
mercies should be acknowledged. In this Verse you have the working 
of a thankful soul, sensible of the benefits already obtained in prayer, 
and making hearty acknowledgment of them to God : ' Thou hast 
dealt well with thy servant, Lord, according to thy word/ Observe 

1. An acknowledgment of some benefit bestowed, thou Jiast dealt 
well ivith thy servant. 

2. The way in which it was bestowed, according to thy ivord. 
First, An acknowledgment of some benefit bestowed. In it 

observe : 

1. The party giving, thou, Lord. 

2. The act of bounty, generally expressed, thou Jiast dealt well. 

3. The party receiving, with thy servant. 

The fountain of all that we have is the goodness and fidelity of God ; 
the promise is the channel and pipe by which it is conveyed to us, and 
the object is God's servant. When all these concur, how sweet is it ! 
A good God is ready to show us mercy, and this mercy assured to us 

VER. 65.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 193 

by promise, and God's servants capacitated to receive mercy. There 
is an excellent cause, which is the benignity of God ; a sure conveyance, 
which is the promise of God ; and a prepared object, who are the ser 
vants of God. 

1. The party giving is God himself: all good is to be referred to 
God as the author of it. 

2. The benefit received is generally expressed, ' Thou hast dealt 
well.' Some translations out of the Hebrew, bonum fecisti thou hast 
done good with thy servant ; the Septuagint, xpijordTijTa eVot'^o-a? /iera 
ToO BovXov aov thou hast made goodness to or with thy servant : out 
of them the vulgar, bonitatem fecisti. Some take this clause generally, 
whatever thou dost for thy servants is good ; they count it so, though 
it be never so contrary to the interest of the flesh : sickness is good, 
loss of friends is good, and so is poverty and loss of goods to a humble 
and thankful mind. But surely David speaketh here of some supply 
and deliverance wherein God had made good some promise to him. 
The Jewish rabbis understand it of his return to the kingdom, but 
most Christian writers understand it of some spiritual benefit, that 
good which God had done to him. If anything may be collected from 
the subsequent verses, it was certainly some spiritual good. The 
Septuagint repeats ^p^crTOTi/ra twice, in this and the following verse, as 
if he acknowledged the benefit of that good judgment and knowledge 
of which there he beggeth an increase. It was in part given him 
already, and that learned by afflictions, in the third verse of this por 
tion : ' Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I have learned 
thy word.' Now then, go on to increase this work, this goodness 
which thou hast shown to thy servant. 

3. The object, to ' thy servant.' It is an honourable comfortable 
style ; David delighteth in it. God is a bountiful and a gracious 
master, ready to do good to his servants, rewarding them with grace 
here, and crowning that grace with glory hereafter : Heb. xi. 6, ' He 
that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder 
of them that diligently seek him.' 

Secondly, The manner how this is assured and brought about, 
* According to thy word.' That word, which is the encouragement of 
our prayer, is the rule of God's proceedings. Some things are given 
by a common providence, other things are given us as servants of God, 
or according to the promises that are made us in the word. 

Doct. 1. That God doth good to his servants. 

Doct. 2. That the good which God hath done for us should be 
thankfully acknowledged. 

Doct. 3. That in our thankful acknowledgments we should take 
notice of God's truth, as well as his benignity and goodness. 

Doct. I. That God doth good to his servants. David giveth us 
here his own experience, and every one that is a faithful servant of 
God may come in with the like acknowledgments ; for what proof God 
giveth of his goodness to any one of his servants, it is a pledge of that 
love, respect, and care that he beareth towards all the rest. Jacob 
acknowledged the same : Gen. xxxiii. 11, ' The Lord hath dealt 
graciously with me ;' that was his account of providence. 

1. From the inclination of his own nature: Ps. cxix. 68, 'Thou 

VOL. vir. N 


art good, and thou dost good.' The Psalmist concludetli this act from 
his nature. The sun doth not more naturally shine, nor fire more 
naturally burn, nor water more naturally flow, than acts of grace and 
goodness do naturally flow from God. If there be anything besides 
benefits in the world, the fault is not in God, but in us, who by sin, 
provoke him to do otherwise. 

2. The obligation of his promise ; so this good cometh in as a 
reward, according to the law of his grace. He hath engaged himself 
by his promise to give us all good things : Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, ' The Lord 
God is a sun and a shield ; the Lord will give grace and glory ; no 
good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly ;' Ps. 
xxxiv. 9, 10, 'Oh, fear the Lord, ye his saints, for there is no want to 
them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger, but 
they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.' Therefore it 
is said, Micah ii. 7, ' Do not my words do good to him that walketh 
uprightly ? ' The words ' saying good' is a doing good ; when it is 
said, it may be accounted done, because of the certain performance of 
what is said. 

3. The preparation of his people ; his servants are capable. God 
is good, and doeth good, modo non ponatur obex, except we tie his 
hands and hinder our own mercies. There are certain laws of com 
merce between God and his creatures, so between God and man ; he 
meeteth us with his blessings in the way of our duty : Amos vi. 12, 
' Shall horses run upon the rock ? will one plough there with oxen ? * 
Some ground is incapable of being ploughed; some are morally 
incapable of having good done to or for them. But when the creature 
is in a capacity, God communicateth his goodness to them, dealeth 
with men as they deal with him : Ps. xviii. 25, 26, ' With the merciful 
thou wilt show thyself merciful, with an upright man thou wilt show 
thyself upright, with the pure thou wilt show thyself pure, with the 
froward thou wilt show thyself froward ;' so Ps. cxxv. 4, ' Do good to 
those that be good, and to them that are upright in their hearts.' God 
is and will be gracious and bountiful to all those that continue faithful 
to him, and will never leave any degree of goodness unrewarded ; the 
covenant shall not fail on his part. 

Use 1. Let us be persuaded of this truth ; it is one of the first 
things in religion, Heb. xi. 6, ' He that cometh to God must believe 
that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.' 
Next unto his being, his bounty, or else our religion will be cold or 
none at all. Many conceive amiss of God, and draw an ill picture of 
him in their minds, as if he were hard to be pleased, always frowning. 
Did we look upon him as one that is good and willing to do good, we 
would have less backwardness to duty and weariness in his service. 
Satan drew off the hearts of our first parents from God by vain sur 
mises, as if he were severe and envious : Gen. iii. 5, ' God doth know 
that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye 
shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.' This first battery was 
against the persuasion of God's goodness and kindness to man, which 
he endeavoureth to discredit. Yea, God's people may have the sense 
of his goodness strangely weakened. David is fain with violence to 
hold the conclusion which Satan would fain wrest out of his hands : 


Ps. Ixxiii. 1, ' Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a 
pure heart.' Therefore we had need to fortify our hearts and forearm 
ourselves with strong consolations and arguments. 

1. He doth good to his enemies, and therefore certainly he will 
much more to his servants : ' He is good to all ;' Ps. cxlv. 9, ' Th6 
Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.' 
The heathens had experience of it : Acts xiv. 17, ' Nevertheless 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 will he be unkind to his servants, to whom he is 
engaged by promise ? It cannot be. 

2. Consider Christ's reasoning : Mat. vii. 11, ' If ye then, being 
evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more 
shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that 
ask him ? ' God will not deal worse with his children than men do 
with theirs. We are natural and sinful parents: if we have any 
faith, or reason, or sense, we cannot gainsay this conclusion. A 
father will not be unnatural to his child ; the most godless men will 
love their children, and seek their welfare, and cfo good unto them. 
Surely our heavenly Father will supply all our necessities, satisfy all 
our desires : he is more fatherly than all the fathers in the world can 
be ; all the goodness in men is but as a drop to the ocean. 

3. Consider, he never giveth his people any discouragement or just 
cause to complain of him : Micah vi. 3, ' my people, what have I 
done unto thee ? or wherein have I wearied thee ? testify against me ; ' 
Jer. ii. 5, ' Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers 
found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after 
vanities and become vain ? ' Why : 

[1.] His commands are not grievous: Mat. xi. 30, 'My yoke is 
easy and my burthen is light ;' 1 John v. 3, ' His commandments are 
not grievous.' He prescribeth and commandeth nothing but for our 
good: Deut. vi. 24, 'And the .Lord commandeth us to do all the 
statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always, that he might 
preserve us alive, as it is at this day.' That he may with honour per 
form and make good all that he hath promised : Gen. xviii 19, ' For 
I know him, that he will command his children and his household 
after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and 
judgment, that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he 
hath spoken of him.' The obstructions removed, and grace flows 
out freely. 

[2.] Trials sent by him are not above measure: 1 Cor. x. 13, 
' There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to men; 
but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that 
you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, 
that ye may be able to bear it ; ' Isa. xxvii. 8, ' In measure when it 
ghooteth forth wilt thou debate with it : he stayeth his rough wind in 
the day of the east wind.' He dealeth with much discretion and 
moderation, not according to the greatness of his power or the 
heinousness of their sin, but observeth our strength, what we are able 
to bear. 

[3.] His punishments are not above deservings: Ezra ix. 13, 


'Seeing that thou our God hast punished us less than our iniquities 
deserve ; ' Job xi. 6, ' Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less 
than thine iniquity deserveth.' 

[4.] He is not hard to be pleased, nor inexorable upon every failing : 
Mai. iii. 17, ' And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that 
day when I make up my jewels ; and I will spare them as a man 
spareth his own son that serveth him.' Many think God watch eth 
occasions to destroy them, or at least to molest and trouble them. 
No ; he passeth by many weaknesses, or else what would become of 
the best of his children ? pardoneth many sins, where the heart is 
sincere : 2 Chron. xxx. 18, 19, ' The good Lord pardon every one 
that prepareth his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, 
though he be not cleansed according to the preparation of the sanctuary.' 

4. If he doth not give them the good things of this world, he 
giveth them better in lieu of them. While they are here in this 
world they have those things not only that are good, but make them 
good, which cannot be said of all the things of this world ; they may 
easily make us worse, but they cannot make us better. He giveth 
them such things as tend to the enjoyment of the chief est good, which 
is himself. As he is a good God, he pardoneth their sins : Ps. xxv. 
7, ' Remember not the sins of my youth, for thy goodness' sake, 
Lord ;' that is one of the effects of his goodness to them. He directs 
them in the way of life : Ps. xxv. 8, ' Good and upright is the Lord, 
therefore will he teach sinners in the way/ He beginneth, carrieth 
on, and completeth their salvation : 2 Thes. i. 11, ' Wherefore also we 
pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of his 
calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work 
of faith with power.' Thus he giveth the best things, though he 
deny some common things, which are no arguments of his special 
favour ; and it is dangerous to have our eyes fastened upon other 
wants when we have these things, and to repine against God, who 
hath dealt graciously with us in the higher expressions of his love. 

5. The evil things of this world, which are not good in themselves, 
he turneth to good : Rom. viii. 28, ' All things shall work together 
for good to them that love God.' He is able to bring light out of 
darkness, or give light in darkness, or turn darkness into light ; to 
give inward joy and comfort under all calamities, to support and 
sustain under all heavy pressures, and to deliver out of all distresses. 

6. He doth give them so much of the good things of the world as 
is convenient for them : Ps. xxxiv. 9, ' Oh, fear the Lord, ye his 
saints, for there is no want to them that fear him ; ' Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, 
' The Lord God is a sun and a shield ; the Lord will give grace and 
glory, and no good thing will he withhold from them that walk up 
rightly.' He giveth protection when it is necessary : Nahum i. 7, 
' The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth 
those that trust in him ; ' Ezra vi. 22, ' The hand of our God is upon 
all them for good that seek him.' He hath a great inclination to 
diffuse his benefits. 

7. His doing good is chiefly in the world to come : John xii. 26, 
' If any man serve me, let him follow me, and where I am, there shall 
also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father 

VER. 65.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 197 

honour.' Here he is with them in troubles, there they shall be with 
him in glory ; here he can put marks of favour upon them, and dis 
tinguish between those that serve him and those that serve him not : 
Mai. iii. 17, ' They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I 
make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own 
son that serveth him ; ' there he will manifest his favour in the face 
of all the world. 

Use 2. To persuade you to become the servants of God : you will 
have a good master if you be what you profess to be. Every Christian 
should say, as Paul did, Acts xxvii. 23, ' The God whose I am, and 
whom I serve.' He is God's, and serveth God. (1.) He is God's by 
creation, for he made him out of nothing : Ps. c. 3, ' Know ye that 
the Lord he is God ; it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves ; 
we are his people and the sheep of his pasture;' Col. i. 16, 'All things 
were created by him and for him.' By redemption ; 1 Cor. vi. 20, ' Ye 
are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in your body and your 
spirit, which is God's.' By covenant ; Isa. xliv. 5, ' One shall say, I am 
the Lord's, and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob, and 
another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname 
himself by the name of Israel;' Ezek. xvi. 8, ' I sware untothee, and 
entered into covenant with thee, saith the Lord, and thou becamest 
mine;' and so voluntarily he is God's. Wicked men are God's in 
right, but against their wills ; the godly are willingly God's. A man 
will never be hearty in his obedience and subjection till he look upon 
himself as God's. See an instance in the wicked, whose ungodliness 
and rebellion against God cometh from looking upon themselves as 
their own : Ps. xii. 4, ' Who have said, With our tongues will we 
prevail ; our lips are our own ; who is lord over us ? ' Their time their 
own, wealth their own, interest their own, bodies their own, souls their 
own, and therefore think they may employ all these things as they 
please. On the other side, take an instance of self-denial. Why so 
careful to serve and glorify God ? Rom. xiv. 8, ' 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 ;' they have given 
up themselves to be employed at his command. (2.) Him they serve. 
How do they serve him ? (1st.) They must serve God with the spirit 
as well as the body : Rom. i. 9, ' God is my witness, whom I serve 
with my spirit in the gospel of his Son.' So Phil. iii. 3, ' We are the 
circumcision, which worship God in the spirit ; ' Rom. xii. 11, ' Fervent 
in spirit, serving the Lord ; ' Rom. vii. 6, ' That we should serve in 
newness of spirit.' When the heart is renewed, disposed, and fitted 
for his fear and service, there is an honest purpose and endeavour to 
serve him. (2d.) You must serve him faithfully, devoting yourselves 
to do his will, and to seek his glory. Your intention, trade, and 
study must be to honour God and please him, that if it be asked for 
whom are you at work ? for whom speaking or spending your time ? 
whose business are you doing ? you may answer, All is for God. If 
the pleasing of the flesh be their work or scope, they are said to serve 
their own bellies : Rom. xvi. 18. ' They that are such serve not the 
Lord Jesus, but their own belly/ (3d.) Cheerfully ; having so good 
a master, let us take pleasure in our work. Here is all good good 


master, good work, good wages. Certainly the more good any man 
findeth God to be, and the more good he himself hath received, the 
more good he ought to be : the goodness of God should melt us and 
awe us. There are two questions every one of you should put to 
yourselves, What hath God done for you ? and, What have you done 
for God ? When you thus serve God, you may plead it to God, as 
David, Ps. cxvi. 16, '0 Lord, truly I am thy servant, I am thy ser 
vant/ You may expect relief, and protection, and maintenance. 
Servants have their dole and portion from their masters' hands : Ps. 
cxxiii. 2, 'As the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, 
and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress, so our 
eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us.' 
He that doth God's will shall have his protection and blessing ; you 
have a sanctified interest in all that falleth to your share : 1 Cor. iii. 
22, 23, ' Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or life, or death, or 
things present, or things to come, all are yours, and ye are Christ's, 
and Christ is God's.' Lastly, God will now and then visibly put 
some marks of distinction on them : Mai. iii. 18, ' Then shall ye re 
turn, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him 
that serveth God, and him that serveth him not.' For a while their 
glory may be clouded, they may be hardly dealt with in the world, 
but God hath his times of presenting all things in their own colours ; 
but the chief time of manifestation is hereafter ; when the servants 
of Christ come to receive their full reward, then they find him to be 
a good master indeed : John xii. 26, ' If any man serve me, him will 
my Father honour.' 

Doct. 2. That the good which God hath done for us should be 
thankfully acknowledged. We should not be always craving, always 
complaining ; there should be a mixture of thanksgiving : Col. iv. 6, 
' Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving ;' to 
gether with the expression of our wants and desires, there must be 
thanksgiving for favours already received. 

1. There is a time for all things, for confessing sin, for begging 
mercy, for thankful acknowledgments ; though in every address to God 
there should be somewhat of all these, yet at certain seasons one is 
predominant : in a time when God is offended, confession of sin ; in a 
time of great wants and straits, prayer ; in a time of great receivings, 
thanks. The times that pass over us bring upon us many changes ; 
every change of dispensation must be sanctified by a suitable duty. 
As no condition is so bad but a good man can find an occasion of 
praising God and trusting in him, so no condition so good but matter 
of humbling and self-abasing will arise; yet there are special occasions 
that require the one or the other. Opus diei in die suo. James v. 13, 
' Is any among you afflicted ? let him pray : is any merry ? let him 
sing psalms ;' Ps. 1. 15, ' Call upon me in the day of trouble ; I will 
deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.' 

2. It is a disingenuous spirit to ask mercy for supplying our wants 
or delivering us from troubles, and not acknowledge mercy when that 
supply or deliverance is received. Prayer is a work of necessity, but 
praise of mere duty. Self-love will put us upon prayer, but the love 
of God upon praise and thanksgiving ; we pray because we need God, 

VER. 65.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 199 

we praise because we love God, and have a sense of his goodness to us : 
Luke xvii. 15, ' One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned 
back, and with a loud voice glorified God.' Most turn back upon the 
mercy-seat, do not give glory to God when their turn is served. 

3. It is for the glory and honour of God that his servants should 
speak good of his name. When they are always complaining, they 
bring an ill report upon the ways of God, like the spies that went to 
view the promised land ; but it is a great invitation to others when we 
can tell them how good God hath been to us : Ps. xxxiv. 8, ' Oh, taste and 
see that the Lord is good ; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.' 
This doth draw in others to come and take share with us. 

4. It is for our profit ; the more thankful for mercies, the more 
they are increased upon us ; as vapours return in showers, the sea 
putteth out of her fulness into the rivers, and they again refund into 
the sea the water received thence : Ps. Ixvii. 5, 6, ' Let the people 
praise thee, Lord ; then shall the earth bring forth her increase.' 
When the springs are low, we pour in a little water into the pump, not 
to enrich the fountain, but to bring up more for ourselves. It is not 
only true of outward increase, but spiritual also : Col. ii. 7, ' Be ye 
rooted in the faith, and abound therein with thanksgiving.' If we 
give thanks for so much grace as we have already received, it is 
the way to increase our store ; we do no more thrive in victory over 
corruption, or the increase of divers graces, because we do no more 
give thanks. 

5. It prevents many sins. I shall name two: 

[1.] Hardness of heart. When we are not thankful for blessings, 
they prove an occasion to the flesh, and so our table is made a snare, 
Ps. Ixix. 22, and our welfare a trap. Men go on stupidly receiving 
blessings, but do not acknowledge the donor ; but when we own God 
upon all occasions, the creature is sanctified, and the heart kept 
humble : 1 Tim. iv. 4, 5, ' Every creature of God is good, and nothing to 
be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the 
word of God and prayer ;' an acknowledgment from whom it cometh. 

[2.] It suppresseth murmuring, and that fretting, quarrelling, im 
patient, and distrustful humour which often showeth itself against 
God, even sometimes in our prayers and supplications. Nothing con- 
duceth more to quiet our hearts in a dependence upon God for the 
future, and to allay our distrusts, discontents, and unquiet thoughts, 
than a holy exercise of thanksgiving : Phil.-iv. 6, ' Be careful for no 
thing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, 
let your requests be made known to God.' Bless him for favours 
already received, and you will leave the burden of your care upon him 
for the future. God is where he was at first, and what he hath done 
he can do still. 

Use. The use is, to press us to the serious and frequent discharge of 
this duty. It is a duty very necessary, very profitable, and very de 
lightful ; but usually we are backward, are not as careful to render 
thanks for the enjoyment of blessings as we are earnest and importu 
nate in the want of them. It cometh to pass partly by the greediness 
of our desires, as a dog that swalloweth up every bit that is cast to 
him, and still looketh for more. Vidisti aliquando canem, saith 


Seneca, missa a domino frusta panis aut carnis aperto ore captantem, 
et quicquid excipit. protinus integrum devorat, et semper ad spem 
futuri Mat. This is an emblem of us ; we swallow whatever the 
'bounty of God throws forth without thanks, and still we look for more, 
as if all the former mercies were nothing ; therefore are warm in peti 
tions, but cold, raw, and infrequent in gratulations. Partly when we- 
have mercies, we know not their value by the enjoyment as much as 
hy the want. "O(j>0a\pol ri ayav \a/ji7rpbv av% opc/vcri, sai'th Basil a 
thing too near the eye cannot be seen, it darkeneth us with its splen 
dour. God must set things at a distance to make us value them. 
Therefore we are more prone to complain than to give thanks. Partly 
from self-love ; when our turn is served, we neglect God ; as the 
raven returned to Noah no more, when there was floating carrion for 
it to feed upon, Gen. viii. 7. Wants try us more than blessings : 
Hosea v. 15, ' In their affliction they will seek me early.' Our interest 
swayeth us more than our duty. Partly from a dark legal spirit, 
which will not own grace when it is near us, when Christians look 
altogether in the glass of the law, to exclude the comfort of the gospel f 
and to keep themselves under the rack of perplexing fears. 
To remedy this 

1. Let us acknowledge God in all we do enjoy : Hosea ii. 8, ' She 
did not consider that I gave her corn, and oil, and flax/ We are un 
thankful to God and man, but more to God. Comforts that come from 
an invisible hand, we look upon them as things that fall out of course, 
and so do not praise the giver ; therefore let us awaken our hearts to 
the remembrance of God. Whosoever be the next hand, it is by his pro 
vidence; and there is reason he should be praised and owned. It is not 
he that brings the present, but he that sendeth it, that deserveth our 
thanks. Beasts will own their benefactor : Isa. i. 3, ' The ox knoweth 
his owner, and the ass his master's crib ;' and if God be our benefactor, 
he must be owned and loved. If a man give us but a small sum, or 
a parcel of land, how do we court him or observe him ! Less reason 
why God should look upon us, who is so high. A small remembrance- 
from a great prince, no way obliged, who no way needeth me, to whom 
I can be no way profitable, is much valued ; and will not I acknowledge 
God in his gifts ? When you were in distress you acknowledged, he 
alone could send you help, and had high thoughts of the mercy ; then 
what promises did you make ? The mercy is the same now that it- 
was then, therefore you should have the same apprehensions of it. 

2. Let us not give thanks by the heap, but distinctly ; acknowledge 
God's mercies in all cases. Particulars are most affective : let us 
come to an account for God, and recollect the passages of our lives, 
what he hath done for body and soul : Ps. cxxxix. 17, ' How precious 
also are thy thoughts unto me, God! how great is the sum of them! * 
What he hath done for us before time, in time, and provided for us when 
time shall be no more ; the beginning of this treaty with us, the progress 
of his work, the many failings we were guilty of, his patience in bear 
ing with us, his goodness in hearing us, his giving, forgiving, keeping 
us from dangers, in dangers, and deliverances out of dangers. What 
supplies and supports we have had, what visits of love, warnings., 
awakeninsfs of heart ! 

VER. 65.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 201 

3. Let us trace the benefits we enjoy to the fountain of them, the 
love of God ; then we will say, Ps. cxxxviii. 2, ' I will praise thy name 
for thy loving-kindness and truth.' This is not only to drink of the 
stream, but of the fountain ; there the water is sweetest ; when we see 
all this coming from the special love of God to our souls. Otherwise 
God may give in anger : Hosea xiii. 11, ' I gave them a king in mine 
anger ;' as he gave the Israelites meat for their lusts: Isa. xxxviii. 17, 
'Thou hast loved me from the grave;' this commendeth all experi 
ences, maketh us love God again. 

4. Compare yourselves with others your betters, who would be glad 
of your leavings, their nature, disposition, endowments better than 
yours, yet receive less from God. He hath not dealt so with any 
nation. Whence is all this to me ? John xiv. 22, ' Lord, how is it 
that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not unto the world ? ; Many 
would be glad of our relics. 

5. Consider your unworthiness : Gen. xxxii. 10, ' I am not worthy of 
the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which thou hast 
showed unto thy servant ;' 2 Sam. vii. 18, ' Who am I, Lord, and 
what is my house, that thou hast brought me hitherto ? ' Pride is the 
cause of discontent. Where all is received freely, there is no cause of 
discontent : much of giving thanks if we have anything. When we 
look to desert, we may wonder more at what we have than what we 
want : if afflicted, destitute, kept low and bare, it is a wonder we are 
not in hell. All this is spoken because men are not thankful, We are 
eager till we have blessings, but when we have them, then barren in 
praises, unfruitful in obedience : like little children, forward to beg 
favours, but careless to acknowledge what they have received. 

Doct. 3. That in our thankful acknowledgments we should take 
notice of God's truth, as well as his benignity and goodness. David 
owned the kindness as coming according to his word. So do the 
servants of God observe his accomplishing promises : Josh, xxiii. 14, 
' And, behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth ; and ye 
know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath 
failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concern 
ing you ; all hath come to pass unto you, not one thing hath failed 
thereof.' So Solomon : 1 Kings viii. 56, ' Blessed be God that giveth 
rest to his people Israel, according to all that he promised ; there hath 
not failed one word of all his good promise which he promised by the 
hand of Moses his servant/ Thus Joshua and Solomon observe how 
his word was made good to a tittle, and in the rigour of the letter ; he 
hath not left undone anything, but accomplished all to the full. A 
great deal of benefit will come by it : 

1. For yourselves. 

[1.] Your own faith will be confirmed by it, when you see that God 
is as good as his word, and bestoweth upon us the utmost that any 
promise of his giveth us to hope for : it is dictum factum with God ; 
he is no more liberal in word than in deed. Look, as it confirmeth 
our faith in the truth of the threatenings, when we are punished as our 
congregation hath heard, Hosea vii. 12, they that would not believe 
their danger are made to feel it, so our faith in the promise. God 
showeth what he will be to his servants, and after a little waiting they 


find it to be so. Wait but a little while, and you shall find the effect 
of the promises : Ps. Ivi. 8, ' In God I will praise his word, in the 
Lord I will praise his word ; ' that is, I have great cause to take notice 
of the promise ; to a believer it is as good as performance : so Ps. 
xix. 9, ' The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.' 
Former experience begets confidence for the time to come : the Lord 
doth not deceive us with vain words. There is an effect in them ; I 
shall find it ; what God saith he doth. 

[2.] Your comfort is increased ; receiving things in a way of promise 
sweeteneth a blessing. It is good to see whence things come to us, 
from the bounty of common providence, or from the promises of the 
covenant. There is a providential right and a covenant right. Devils 
hold their beings by a providential right, but the saints their blessings 
by covenant. The promise is made to God's servants, and the mercy 
conveyed by the promise is sanctified : 1 Cor. iii. 23, ' All are yours, 
and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's;' 1 Tim. iv. 3, they are to 
be 'received with thanksgiving of them that believe and know the 
truth.' Believers are called ' heirs of promise/ Some blessings the 
very nature of them showeth whence they come ; but in others, as the 
deliverances and comforts of this life, the tenure of them is more com 
fortable than the mercies themselves; to have them 'not only from 
God's hand but heart. Wicked men have them as their portion, you 
as helps to your better portion : heirs of promise is an honourable title 
and relation. Such blessings are from love, and for our good. 

2. As to others, you will invite, encourage, and strengthen them in 
believing. You are witnesses of his fidelity : Ps. xviii. 30, ' As for 
God, his way is perfect ; the word of the Lord is tried.' I can assure 
you I have found more than letters and syllables in a promise, it is a 
tried word ; I can tell you what God hath done for my soul. 

Use. Let us look to the accomplishment of these promises, and trust 
God the more for the future. Make much of promises: Heb. XL 
13, c These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but 
having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced 
them.' They are sure declarations of the purposes of God. God's 
purposes are immutable, but promises declared lay an obligation upon 
him to keep them. Kejoice in them till performance cometh. Take 
heed of setting sense against them: Horn. iv. 18-21, 'Who against 
hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many, ac 
cording to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be : and being 
not weak in faith, he considered 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 through unbelief ; but was 
strong in faith, giving glory to God ; and being fully persuaded that 
what he had promised he was able also to perform.' Naturally men 
are all for having before them. Take heed of haste : Ps. cxvi. II, 'I 
said in my haste, All men are liars ; ' Ps. xxxi. 22, ' I said in my 
haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes/ 

VER. 66.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 203 


Teach me good judgment and knowledge : for I have believed thy 
commandments. VKR. 66. 

THE man of God had acknowledged that God had done good for him ; 
now he beggeth the continuance of his goodness. God, that hath 
showed mercy, will show mercy. His treasure is not spent by giving, 
nor hath he the less for communicating to the creature. Man will 
say, I have given you already, why do you trouble me any more ? 
But God upbraideth no man ; the more frequent our suits are for 
grace, the more welcome we are : ' Thou hast done good for thy ser 
vant ; ' and now again, ' Teach me good judgment and knowledge : for I 
have believed thy commandments. 
In the words observe 

1. The blessing asked, Teach me good judgment and knowledge. 

2. The reason urged, for I have believed thy commandments. 

I begin with the prayer or blessing asked, ' Teach me good judg 
ment and knowledge.' Let us consider a little the different trans 
lations of this clause. The Septuagint hath three words x^crroTTjTa, 
TraiSeiav, Kal yvwcriv, goodness, discipline, and knowledge ; others, 
bonitatem gustus et scientice doce me, teach me goodness of taste and 
knowledge; Ainsworth, Vatablus, bonitatem sensus, learn me good 
ness of reason and knowledge. In the original Hebrew DJ7D 3113, the 
Hebrew word signifieth taste or savour, so it is translated Ps. xxxiv. 8, 
' Oh taste and see that the Lord is good.' The word also signifieth 
behaviour, as Ps. xxxiv. title, ' A Psalm of David when he changed 
his behaviour before Abimelech.' For a man is tasted by his carriage, 
and some think it may mean goodness of inclination or manners. 
I think we fitly translate it judgment, it being coupled with a 
word that signifieth knowledge taste, by a metaphor from the bodily 
sense, being applied to the mind ; as meats are discerned by the taste, 
so things by the judgment ; and so that which David beggeth here is 
a good or exact judgment, or the faculty of judging well. 

Doct. That a judicious sound mind is a great blessing, and should 
earnestly be sought of God by all that would please him. 

The man of God renewing this request so often, and his calling it 
here good judgment and knowledge, will warrant this observation, 
and sufficiently showeth how good it is to have the mind illuminated 
and endowed with the true knowledge of things. In handling this 
point, I shall show 

1. What is the use of a sound mind. 

2. Why this should be so often and earnestly asked. 

First, What is the use of a sound mind ? There is a threefold act 
of judgment : 

1. To distinguish. 

2. To determine. 

3. To direct and order. 

1. To distinguish and judge rightly of things that differ, that we 
may not mistake error for truth, and evil for good. So the apostle 


maketh it the great work of judgment to discern between good and 
evil : Heb. v. 14, ' But strong meat belongetli to those that are of full 
age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to 
discern both good and bad.' The things that are to be judged are true 
and false, right and wrong, necessary or indifferent, expedient or 
inexpedient, fit or unfit ; for many things are lawful that are not ex 
pedient: 1 Cor. vi. 12, 'All things are lawful for me, but all things are 
not expedient,' as to time, place, persons. "Well, then, judgment is a 
spirit of discerning truth from falsehood, good from evil, that we may 
approve what is good, and disallow the contrary. So the spiritual man 
judgeth all things, 1 Cor. ii. 15 ; that is, though he hath not an authori 
tative judgment, he hath a judgment of discretion ; and if he did stir 
up this gift of discerning, he might more easily understand his duty, 
and how far he is concerned in point of conscience and in order to 
salvation. So 1 Cor. x. 15, ' I speak as to wise men, judge- ye what 
I say/ The spiritually wise, if they would awaken the gifts of grace 
received in regeneration by diligence and prayer and needfulness of 
soul, might sooner come to a resolution of their doubts than they 
usually do. As bodily taste doth discern things savoury from un 
savoury, profitable from noxious, so is judgment given us that we may 
distinguish between the poisons which the world offereth in a golden 
cup to impure souls, and that wholesome spiritual milk which we suck 
out of the breasts of scripture, between savoury food and hurtful diet, 
how neatly soever cooked. The soul's taste is more necessary than the 
body's, as the soul is the better part, and as our danger is greater, and 
errors there cost us dearer. 

2. To determine and resolve, practicum dictamen. The taste of 
the soul is for God, that bindeth our duty upon us, when there is a 
decree issued forth in the soul, that after we know our duty there may 
be a resolvedness of mind never to swerve from it. First the distin 
guishing work proceedeth ; there is a clear and distinct approbation 
of God ; then the determining followeth ; this is the Trpodeais /ea/oS/a?, 
Acts xi. 23, ' The purpose of heart ;' 2 Tim. iii. 10, ' Thou hast known 
fully my doctrine, manner of life,' TrpoOea-tv, purpose. The form of 
this decree and resolution you have in Ps. Ixxiii. 28, ' But it is good 
for me to draw near to God.' This in the soul hath the authority of 
a principle. He that meaneth to be a thorough Christian must set 
the bent and bias and purpose of his heart strongly upon it : Ps. 
xxxix. 1, ' I said, I will take heed to my ways.' So Ps. xxxii. 5, ' I said, 
I will confess mine iniquities.' These purposes have a powerful com 
mand upon the whole soul, to set it a-working whatever they purpose 
with this strong decree, how backward soever the heart be otherwise ; 
they will excite and quicken us, and admit of no contradiction. It is 
our judgments lead us and guide and poise us. A man may have 
knowledge and learning, and play the fool if his judgment be not 
biassed : a man never taketh any course^but his judgment telleth him 
it is best, and best for him all things considered. It is not men's 
knowledge leadeth them, but their judgments say to their wills, This 
is not for me ; the other conduceth most to my profit, honour, or 
delight : but when the judgment is in some measure set towards God, 
then the man is for God. 

VEU. 66.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 205 

3. To direct as well as to decree ; so good judgment and knowledge 
serveth for the right guiding of ourselves and all our affairs. Many 
are wise in generals that err in particulars, and have a knowledge of 
principles, but their affairs are under no conduct. Particulars are 
nearer to practice, and very learned men are deceived in particulars : 
Kom. ii. 20-22, ' An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which 
hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law : thou there 
fore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself ? thou that 
preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal ? thou that sayest 
a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery ? thou 
that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege ? ' Therefore, besides 
the general rule, the knowledge of God's will, it is necessary to have 
the gift of discretion, when particulars are clothed with circumstances. 
There is an infinite variety of circumstances which require a deal of 
prudence to determine them. A man may easily discourse on general 
truths concerning God, ourselves, the state of the church, the privi 
leges of Christianity ; but to direct them to particular cases, to govern 
our own hearts, and order our own ways, that is a harder thing: 
Hosea xiv. 9, ' Whoso is wise and prudent/ &c. ; Prov. viii. 12, * I, 
wisdom, dwell with prudence.' To direct is harder than to determine 
or distinguish. It is easier to distinguish of good and evil in the 
general, to lay down conclusions upon the evidence of the goodness of 
the ways of God ; but to reduce our knowledge to practice in all cases, 
that is the great work of judgment, that we may know what becometh 
the time, the place, the company where we are, and may have that 
ordering of our conversation aright, Ps. 1. 23 ; to know how to carry 
ourselves in all relations, business, civil, sacred, light, serious ; that we 
neither offend in excess nor defect ; that we judge what is due to the 
Creator, and what is to be allowed to the creature; what is good, 
what is better, what is best of all ; that we know how to pay reve 
rence to superiors, how most profitably to converse with equals, what 
compassion to inferiors, how to do good to them ; how to behave our 
selves as husbands, wives, fathers, children. Wisdom maketh us 
profitable in our relations : 1 Peter iii. 7, ' Let husbands dwell with 
wives according to knowledge.' There is much prudence and wisdom 
required to know how to converse profitably and Christianly with all 
that we have to do with. In short, how to love our friends in God, 
and our enemies for God ; how to converse secretly with God, and to 
walk openly before men ; how to cherish the flesh that it may not be 
unserviceable, yet how to mortify it that it may not wax wanton 
against the spirit ; how to do all things in the fear of God, in meats, 
drinks, apparel, recreations ; when and how to pray, what time for our 
callings, what for worship ; when to speak, when to hold our peace ; 
when to praise, and when to reprove ; how to give, and how to take ; 
when to scatter, when to keep back or withhold; and to order all 
things aright requireth a sound judgment, that we carry ourselves 
with that gravity and seriousness, that exactness and tenderness, that 
we may keep up the majesty of religion, and all the world may know 
that he is wise by whose counsel we are guided. But alas ! where this 
sound judgment an4 discretion is wanting, we shall soon offend and 
transgress the laws of piety, charity, justice, sobriety. Piety and god- 


liness will not be orderly ; we shall either be guilty of a profane neglect 
of that course of duty that is necessary to keep in the life of grace, or 
turn religion into a sour superstition and rigorous course of obser 
vances. Cfharity will not be orderly ; we shall give to wastefulness, 
or withhold more than is meet, to the scandal or prejudice of the world 
towards religion. Not perform justice ; we shall govern to God's dis 
honour, obey to his wrong, punish with too much severity, or forbear 
with too much lenity; our reproofs will be reproaches, our praises 
flattery. Sobriety will not be orderly ; we shall deny ourselves our 
necessary comforts, or use them as an occasion to the flesh ; either 
afflict the body and make ourselves unserviceable, or wrong the soul and 
burden and oppress it with vain delights. It short, even the higher 
acts of religion will degenerate ; our fear will be turned into desperation, 
or our hope into presumption ; our faith will be a light credulity, or our 
search after truth will turn into a flat scepticism or irresolution ; our 
patience will be stupidness, or our constancy obstinacy ; we shall either 
slight the hand of God, or faint under it ; so that there is need of good 
judgment and knowledge to guide us in all our ways. 

Secondly, Why this is so earnestly to be sought of God. The thing 
is evident from what is said already. But further 

1. Because this is a great defect in most Christians, who have many 
times good affections, but no prudence to guide and order them ; they 
are indeed all affection, but no judgment ; have a zeal, but without 
knowledge, Eom. x. 3. Zeal should be like fire, which is not only 
fervidus, but lucidus, hot, but bright. A blind horse may be full of 
mettle, but he is ever and anon stumbling. Oh ! then, should we not 
earnestly seek of God good knowledge and judgment ? The Spirit of 
God knoweth what is best for us. In the scriptures he hath indited 
prayers : Phil. i. 9, ' This I pray, that your love may abound more 
and more, in knowledge, and in all judgment ;' that our love and zeal 
should have a proportionable measure of knowledge and judgment 
going along with it ; and Col. i. 9, ' That ye may be filled with the 
knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding ;' and 
again, Col. iii. 16, ' Let the word of God dwell in you richly in all 
wisdom/ These places show that it is not enough to have warm 
affections, but we must have a clear and a sound mind. 

2. The mischief which ariseth from this defect is so great to them 
selves, to others, and the church of God. 

[1.] To themselves. 

(1.) Without the distinguishing or discerning act of judgment, how 
apt are we to be misled and deceived ! They that cannot distinguish 
meats will soon eat what is unwholesome ; so, if we have not a judg 
ment to approve things that are excellent, and disapprove the contrary, 
our fancies will deceive us, for they are taken with every slight appear 
ance ; as Eve was deceived by the fruit because it was fair to see to, 
Gen. iii. 6, with 2 Cor. xi. 3, ' For I fear lest by any means, as the 
serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be 
corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.' Our affections will 
deceive us, for they judge by interest and profit, not duty and con 
science. The affections are easily bribed by those bastard goods of 
pleasure, honour, and profit : 2 Cor. iv. 4, ' In whom the god of this 

VER. 66.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 207 

world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.' The con 
sent of the world will deceive us, for they may conspire in error and, 
rebellion against God, and are usually the opposite party against God : 
Rom. xii. 2, ' And be not conformed to this world, but be ye trans 
formed by the renewing of your minds/ Good men may deceive us ; 
true and faithful ministers may err both in doctrine and manners, as 
the old prophet seduced the young one to his own destruction : 1 Kings 
xiii. 18, ' He paid unto him, I am a prophet also, and an angel 
spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with 
thee into thy house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he 
lied unto him.' In what a woful plight, then, are Christians if they 
have not a judgment, and a test to taste l doctrines and try things, as 
the mouth tasteth meats ! How easily shall we take good for evil 
and evil for good, condemning that which God approveth, and approv 
ing that which God condemneth ! 

(2.) Without the determining act of judgment, how fickle and 
irresolute shall we be, either in the profession or in the practice of 
godliness. Many men's religion lasts but for a pang ; it cometh upon 
them now and then, it is not their constant frame and constitution. 
For want of this purpose and resolute peremptory decree for the 
profession of godliness, there is an uncertainty, levity, and wavering 
in religion : men take up opinions lightly, and leave them as lightly 
again. Light chaff is carried about with every wind : Eph. iv. 14, 
' That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and car- 
lied about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and 
cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive/ If we receive 
the truth upon the credit of men, we may be led off again, and we 
shall be ready to stagger when persecution cometh, especially if we 
see those men from whom we have learned the truth fall away ; if we 
have not *Siov (rr^piy/j.ov, a steadfastness of our own : 2 Peter iii. 17, 
' Beware lest ye also, being led away by the error of the wicked, fall 
from your own steadfastness/ Men should have a steadfastness pro 
per to themselves, not stand by the steadfastness of another, the 
examples of others, the countenance or applause of the world, or the 
opinion of good men ; but convincing reason, by which their minds 
may be enlightened, and their judgments set for God. So for prac 
tice ; we are off and on, unstable in all our ways, Why ? Because 
we content ourselves with some good motions before we have brought 
our hearts to this conclusion, to choose God for our portion, and to 
cleave to him. All in haste they will be religious, but sudden im 
perfect motions may be easily laid aside, and given over by contrary 
persuasions ; but when our hearts are fixed upon these holy purposes, 
then all contrary solicitations and oppositions will not break us or divert 
us. Satan hath small hopes to seduce or mislead a resolved Christian ; 
loose and unengaged men lie open to him, and are ready to be enter 
tained and employed by any new master. 

(3.) Without the directing act of judgment, how easily shall we 
miscarry, and make religion a burden to ourselves, or else a scorn to 
the world ! Want of judgment causeth different effects, not only in 
divers, but in the same person : sometimes a superstitious scrupulous 
ness, at other times a profane negligence ; sometimes making conscience 

1 Qu. 'a taste to tost'? ED. 


of all things, then of nothing : as the one weareth off, the other suc- 
. oeedeth : as the devil cast the lunatic in the Gospel sometimes into the 
water, sometimes into the fire ; either fearful of sin in everything they 
do, or bold to run into all sin without fear ; whereas a truth judiciously 
understood would prevent either extreme. So again for want of 
judgment; sometimes men are transported by a fiery and indiscreet 
zeal, at other times settle into a cold indifferency, and all things come 
alike to them. The way to prevent both is to resolve upon evidence : 
1 Thes. v. 21, ' Prove all things, hold fast that which is good/ Cer 
tainly the clearer our judgment is the more steadfast is our faith, the 
more vehement our love, the more sound our joy, the more constant 
our hope, the more calm our patience, the more earnest our pursuit 
of true happiness ; otherwise we shall never carry it evenly between 
vain presumption and feigned reverence, between legal fear and rash 
hopes, uncomely dejections and a loose disregard of God. Wisdom 
is the faculty by which we apply that knowledge we have unto the 
end why we should have it. 

[2.] It makes us troublesome to others, by preposterous carriage, 
rash censuring, needless intermeddling : Phil. i. 9, 10, ' And this I 
pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge 
and in all judgment ; that ye may approve things that are excellent, 
that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ ; ' 
our corruptions will otherwise break forth to the offence of others. 
An injudicious Christian increaseth the reproaches of the world, as if 
the servants of God were the troublers of Israel, by unseasonable 
reproofs, mistiming of duties, meddling with that which no ways ap- 
pertaineth to him. All lawful things are not fit at all times, nor in 
all places, nor to be done by all persons. Much folly, indiscretion 
and rashness remaineth in the best, whereby they dishonour God, and 
bring religion into contempt. 

[3.] They trouble the church of God ; it hath suffered not only 
from the persecutions of enemies, but from [the folly, rashness, and 
indiscretion of its friends. There are different degrees of light, 
some babes, some young men, some grown persons in Christ Jesus : 
1 John ii. 13, ' I write unto you fathers, because ye have known him 
that is from the beginning ; I write unto you young men, because ye 
have overcome the wicked one ; I write unto you little children, 
because ye have known the Father.' Now, children have their fancies, 
and young men their passions, and old men their humours. When 
the one would prescribe to the other, they hurry all things into con 
fusion : the injudicious generally seek to carry it, and would govern 
the world. In young ones, there are great affections but little know 
ledge and judgment ; they have a great zeal, but little prudence to 
moderate it ; and when this is joined with perverseness and contumacy, 
it is not easy to be said how much evil it bringeth to the church of 
God ; as a fiery horse routeth the troop, and bringeth disorder into 
the army. The devil loveth to draw things into extremes, to set gift 
against gift, prudence against zeal, the youth of Christianity against 
age, and so to confound all things, and so to subvert the kingdom of 
Christ by that comely vanity which is the beauty of it. In the 
general, all overdoing in religion is undoing. 

VER. 66.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 209 

Use. The use is, let all this press us to seek this benefit of good 
judgment and knowledge. To this end 

1. Consider the value and necessity of it. Without it we cannot 
regularly comfort ourselves in the promises, but it will breed a care 
lessness and neglect of our duty ; nor fulfil the commandments of 
God, but it will breed in us a self-confidence and disvaluing of the 
grace of God ; nor reflect upon our sins, but we shall be swallowed 
up of immoderate sorrow ; nor suffer for the truth, but we shall run 
into indiscreet reasoning and oppositions that will trouble all, and, it 
may be, subvert the interest of religion in the world ; or else grow 
into a loose uncertainty, leaping from one opinion to another. This 
uncertainty cometh not so much, or not altogether, from vile affection, 
as want of information in religion, professing without light and evi 
dence, having more of affection than principles. There is a twofold 
injudiciousness total or partial. (1.) Total, when men are given up 
et? vow aSoKtfAov, into a reprobate sense, or an injudicious mind, Rom. 
i. 28 : when utterly incapable of heavenly doctrine, or discerning the 
things of the Spirit. This is one of God's heaviest judgments. That 
is not the case of any of you, I hope. (2.) Partial, and that is in us 
all. Alas ! we are ignorant of many things which we should know ; 
at least, we have not that discretion and prudence which is necessary 
for directing our faith, tempering our zeal, ordering and regulating 
our practice, which is necessary to avoid evil, to do good, or to do good 
well. Or, if we have light, we have no sense or taste. Many never felt 
the bitterness of sin to purpose, of sweetness of righteousness ; there 
fore we have need to cry to God, Lord, give me good taste and know 

2. If you would have it, you must ask it of God. We can have 
no sound knowledge till God teach it us. By nature we are all blind, 
ignorant, vain ; after grace received, though our ignorance be helped, 
it is not altogether cured ; you must still fetch it from heaven by 
strong hand. Without his Spirit we cannot discern spiritual things : 
1 Cor. ii. 14, ' The natural 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 ;' that is, chiefly, the main 
things of the gospel, and universally all things, so far as conscience 
and obedience to God is concerned in them. It is the unction must 
teach us all things : 1 John ii. 20, ' But ye have an unction from 
the Holy One, and ye know all things ;' the things of God must be 
seen in the light of his own Spirit. The Spirit of God first giveth 
us the desire of these things, and then satisfieth us with them. It is 
the Spirit of God purifieth this desire, that it may be holy, as having 
a holy end, that we may avoid whatever is displeasing to God, and do 
whatever is pleasing in his sight ; and that is the ready way to come 
to knowledge and sound judgment : John xvii. 17, ' Sanctify them 
through thy truth ; thy word is truth ;' John iii. 21, 'He that doeth 
truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they 
are wrought in God/ Men that have a mind to maintain an opinion, 
or suffer an evil practice, are prejudiced and biassed by the idol that 
is in their hearts, and so do not see what may be seen, and what they 
seem to search after. Therefore David urgeth this as an argument 

VOL. vii. o 


in the latter end of the text, ' I have believed thy commandments ;' 
that is to say, Lord, I know this word is thine, and I am willing to 
practise all that thoti requirest. The great thing that is to be aimed 
at about knowledge is, not only that we may know, and be able to 
jangle about questions, or that we may be known and esteemed for 
our knowledge, but that we may practise and walk circumspectly, 
and in evil days and times know what the will of the Lord is con 
cerning us ; to desire knowledge as those that know the weight and 
consequence of these things, as I shall show more fully hereafter. 
Those that would have good judgment and knowledge must be willing 
to understand their duty, and practise all that God requireth, that 
they may neither ,do things rashly, and without knowledge and de 
liberation, for then they are not good, how good soever they be in 
themselves: Prov. xix. 2, 'Also, that the soul be without knowledge 
is not good ; ' or doubtingly, after deliberation ; for he that doubteth 
is in part condemned in his own mind : Eom. xiv. 23, ' And he that 
doubteth is damned if he eat.' We must have a clear warrant from 
God, or else all is naught, and will tend to evil. Then it is the Spirit 
of God satisfieth these desires, when we earnestly desire of him to be 
informed in the true and perfect way : John vi. 45, ' They shall be all 
taught of God.' He l\ath suited promises to the pure and earnest 
desire of knowledge. Then it is the Lord who sendeth means and 
blesseth means; as he sent Peter to Cornelius, Acts x., and Philip to 
the eunuch, Acts viii. All is at his disposal, and he will not fail the 
waiting soul ; he hath made Christ to be wisdom for this very end 
and purpose, that he might guide us continually : 1 Cor. i. 30, ' But 
of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, 
and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption.' 

3. You must seek it in the word ; that maketh us wise to salvation, 
and by the continual study of it we obtain wisdom and discretion ; 
there we have the best and safest counsel : ' It maketh wise the sim 
ple/ Ps. xix. 7. No case can be put, so far as it concerneth conscience, 
but there you shall have satisfaction : Col. iii. 16, ' Let the word of 
God dwell in you richly in all wisdom.' You must not content 
yourselves with a cursory reading, but mark the end and scope of it, 
that you may be made completely wise, by frequent reading, hearing, 
meditation upon it, and conferring about it. There you find all things 
necessary to be believed and practised, therefore you must hear it with 
application, read it with meditation. (1.) Hear it with application. 
The Lord blesseth us in the use of instituted means ; both light and 
flame are kept in by the breath of preaching. Where visions fail, 
the people perish, men grow brutish and wild. It is a dispute which 
is the sense of learning, the ear or the eye. By the eye we see things, 
but by reason of innate ignorance we must be taught how to judge 
of them : James i. 19, ' Wherefore, my brethren, let every man be 
swift to hear ;' take all occasions. And we must still apply what we 
hear. Nunquid ego talis ? Eom. viii. 31, ' What shall we then say 
to these things?' Job v. 27, ' Lo, this we have searched, so it is; 
hear it, and know thou it for thy good ;' Heb. ii. 3, ' How shall we 
escape if we neglect so great salvation ? ' Return upon thine own 
heart. (2.) Reading scripture is every man's work who hath a soul 


to be saved. Other writings, though good in their kind, will not 
leave such a lively impression upon the soul. All the moral sentences 
of Seneca and Plutarch do not come with such force upon the con 
science as one saying of God's word. God's language hath a special 
energy ; here must be your study and your delight : Ps. i. 2, ' His 
delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate 
day and night ;' 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17, ' All scripture is given by inspira 
tion of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, 
for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, 
thoroughly furnished unto all good works.' These make you wise 
unto salvation. Your taste is not right when you relish and savour 
human writings, though never so good, more than the word of God. 
A draught of wine from the vessel is more fresh and lively ; that con 
viction which doth immediately rise out of the word is more prevailing. 
We suspect the mixture of passion and private aims in the writings 
of others ; but when conscience and the word are working together, 
we own it as coming from God himself. Besides, those that are 
studying, and reading, and meditating on the word have this sensible 
advantage, that they have promises, doctrines, examples of the word 
ready and familiar upon all occasions ; others are weak and unsettled 
because they have not scriptures ready. In the whole work of grace 
you will find no weapon so effectual as the sword of the Spirit. 
Scriptures seasonably remembered and urged are a great relief to the 
soul. No diligence here can be too much. If you would not be un 
profitable, sapless, indiscreet with others, weak and comfortless in 
yourselves, read the scriptures. We have Sic scriptum est against 
every temptation. Besides, you have the advantage to see with your 
own eyes the truth as it cometh immediately from God, before any 
art of man, or thoughts of their head pass upon it, and so can the 
better own God in what you find. 

4. Long use and exercise doth much increase judgment, especially 
as it is sanctified by the Spirit of God. You get a habit of discern 
ing, fixing, directing, guiding your ways : Sta rrjv eii> ra ala-ffrjTijpia 
ye^vfjivaa-iJLwa e^oi/re?, Heb. v. 14, ' Who by reason of use have their 
senses exercised to discern good and evil.' As men of full age, by 
long use and exercise of the senses of seeing, smelling, tasting, have 
acquired a more perfect knowledge to discern what food is good and 
wholesome and what is unwholesome, so by much attention, studying, 
and meditation, men who have exercised the intellectual faculty to 
find out the scope and meaning of the word of God do attain a more 
discerning faculty, and understand better the truth of the word, and 
can judge what doctrine is true and what false, and more easily 
apprehend higher points when taught unto them ; they discern and 
know the differences of things to be understood. God's blessing doth 
accompany use and frequent exercise, and make it effectual to this 
end ; by degrees we come to a solidness. 

5. Sense and experience doth much increase judgment. When 
smarted for our folly, tasted the sweetness of conversing with God in 
Christ : 1 Peter ii. 3, ' If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.' 
Optima demonstratio est a sensibus. Col. i. 6, ' Which bringeth forth 
fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day you heard of it, and knew 


the grace of God in truth.' God is not taught by experience, to whose 
knowledge all things are present, and at all times, and before all 
times ; but we are. God is fain to teach us by briars and thorns, as 
Gideon taught the men of Succoth. 

6. Avoid the enemies to it or hindrances of it. I shall name two : 
[1.] A passionate or wilful addictedness to any carnal things. Most 
men live by sense, will, and passion, whereby they enthral that wisdom 
which they have, and keep it in unrighteousness. Peril omne 
judicium cum res transit in affectum truth is a prisoner to their 
sinful passions and affections, rejecting all thoughts of their future 
happiness. A man cannot be wise to salvation, and passionately ad 
dicted to any temporal interest. 

[2.] Pride ; that maketh us either rash or presumptuous, either not 
using a due consideration, or not humble enough to subject our minds 
to it. Besides we cast oft* God's assistance : ' The humble and meek 
will he guide in judgment ; the meek will he teach his way,' Ps. xxv. 
9. Men that lean on their own understandings reject him : Prov. iii. 
5, 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.' 

For I have believed lliy commandments. VER. 66. 

THIS latter clause may be considered absolutely or relatively ; in itself, 
or as it containeth a reason of the foregoing petition. 

First, Absolutely. These words deserve a little consideration, 
because believing is here suited with an unusual object. Had it been, 
For I have believed thy promises, or, obeyed thy commandments, the 
sense of the clause had been more obvious to every vulgar apprehen 
sion. To believe commandments sounds as harsh to a common ear as 
to see with the ear and hear with the eye. But for all this, the com 
mandments are the object ; and of them he saith not, I have obeyed, 
but I have believed. To take off the seeming asperity of the phrase, 
some interpreters conceive that commandments is put for the word in 
general ; and so promises are included, yea, they think principally 
intended, those promises which encouraged him to hope for God's 
help in all necessary things, such as good judgment and knowledge 
are. But this interpretation would divert us from the weight and 
force of these significant words. Therefore 

1. Certainly there is a faith in the commandments, as well as in the 
promises, as I shall fully prove by and by. 

2. The one is as necessary as the other ; for as the promises are not 
esteemed, embraced, and improved, unless they are believed to be of 
God, so neither are the precepts ; they do not sway the conscience as 
the other do, nor incline the affections, but as they are believed to be 

3. The faith of the one must be as lively as the other. As the 
promises are not believed with a lively faith unless they draw off 

VER. 66.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 213 

the heart from carnal vanities to seek that happiness which they offer 
to us, so the precepts are not believed rightly unless we be fully 
resolved to acquiesce in them as the only rule to guide us in the 
obtaining that happiness, and to adhere to them and obey them. As 
the king's laws are not kept as soon as they are believed to be the 
king's laws, unless also upon the consideration of his authority and 
power we subject ourselves to them, so this believing noteth a ready 
alacrity to hear God's voice and obey it, and to govern our hearts and 
actions according to his counsel and direction in the word. 

Doct. That the commandments of God must be believed as well as 
his promises ; or, The precepts of sanctity and holiness bind the con 
science to obey God, as well as the promises bind us to trust in God. 

1. What we must believe concerning the commandments. 

2. The necessity of believing them if we would be happy. 

3. The utility and profit. 

1. What we must believe concerning the commandments. 

[1.] That they have God for their author, that we may take our 
duty immediately out of his hand, that these commands are his com 
mands. The expressions of his commanding and legislative will, 
whereby our duty is determined and bound upon us, that is a matter 
of faith, not a matter of sense. We were not present at the giving of 
the law as being past, but we ought to be affected with it as if we were 
present, or had heard the thunderings of Mount Sinai, or had them now 
delivered to us by oracle or immediate voice from heaven. God doth 
once for all give the world sensible and sufficient satisfaction, and then 
he requireth faith. See Heb. ii. 2-4, ' For if the word spoken by 
angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience ob 
tained a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect 
so great salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, 
and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him ; God also bearing 
them witness both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, 
and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will ?' The apostle 
corapareth the first promulgation of the law and the first publication 
of the gospel. After ages did not hear the sounding of the dreadful 
trumpet, nor see the flaming smoking mountain, were not conscious to 
all those circumstances of terror and majesty with which the law was 
given ; yet it was Xo709 /SeySato?, a steadfast word. God owned it in 
his providence : the punishment of transgressors is proof of God's 
authorising the doctrine. So we were not present when the miracles by 
which the gospel lawwas confirmed were wrought; yet there is aconstant 
evidence that these things were once done ; and God still owneth it in 
his providence, therefore we must receive the gospel law as the sovereign 
will and pleasure of our lawgiver, as if we had seen him in person 
doing these wonders, heard him with our own ears. It is not only 
those that were present at Mount Sinai that were bound, but all their 
posterity. God giveth arguments of sense once for all. This belief is 
the more required of us as to precepts and commandments, because 
they are more evident by natural light : Horn. ii. 14, 15, ' For when 
the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things con 
tained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves ; 
which show the work of the law written in their hearts.' There is 


veritas naturalis and veritas mystica. Some objects of faith depend 
upon mere revelation, but the commands of the moral law are clearer 
than the doctrines of faith ; they are of duties and things present, not 
of privileges to be enjoyed hereafter, such as the promises offer to us. 
Now, it is easier to be convinced of present duties than to be assured 
of some future things promised. 

[2.] That these commandments be received with that reverence that 
becometh the sovereign will and pleasure of so great a lord and law 
giver. It is the work of faith to acquaint us with the nature of God 
and his attributes, and work the sense of them into our hearts. The 
great governor of the world is invisible, and we do not see him that is 
invisible but by faith : Heb. xi. 27, ' By faith he forsook Egypt, not 
fearing the wrath of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is 
invisible.' It is e'Xe7^o? ov /3Xe7ro//.ei/a>i/, ' the evidence of things not 
seen,' Heb. xi. 1. Temporal potentates are before your eyes, their 
majesty may be seen, and their terrors and rewards are matter of sense. 
That there is an infinite, eternal, and all-wise Spirit, who made all 
things, and therefore hath right to command and give laws to all 
things, reason will in part tell us ; but faith doth more assure the soul 
of it, and impresseth the dread and awe of God upon our souls, as if 
we did see him with bodily eyes. By faith we believe his being : 
Heb. xi. 6, ' He that cometh to God must believe that he is.' His 
power, so as to oppose it to things visible and sensible : Horn. iv. 21, 
' Being fully persuaded that what he had promised he was able also to 
perform/ That there is no standing out against him who with one 
beck of his will can ruin us everlastingly, and throw the transgressor of 
his laws into eternal fire : a frown of his face is enough to undo us ; 
he is not a God to be neglected, or dallied with, or provoked by the 
wilful breaking of his laws. He hath truly potestatem vitce et necis 
the power of life and death : James iv. 12, ' There is one lawgiver, 
who is able to save and to destroy.' These considerations are best en 
forced by faith, without which our notions of these things are weak and 
languid. You are to charge the heart with God's authority, as you 
will answer it to him another day, not to neglect or despise the duty you 
owe to such a God. No terror comparable to his frowns, no comforts 
comparable to his promises or the sense of his favour. 

[3.] That these laws are holy, just, and good: Bom. vii. 12, 'Where 
fore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.' 
This is necessary, because, in believing the commandments, not only 
assent is required, but also consent to them, as the fittest laws we 
could be governed by : Horn. vii. 16, ' If, then, I do that which I would 
not, I consent to the law that it is good.' Consent is a mixed act of the 
judgment and will : they are not only to be known as God's laws, but 
owned and embraced, not only see a truth, but a worth in them. The 
mandatory part of the word hath its own loveliness and invitation ; as 
the promises of pardon and eternal life suit with the hunger and thirst 
of conscience, and the natural desires of happiness ; so the holiness and 
righteousness of God's laws suit with the natural notions of good and 
evil that are in man's heart. These laws were written upon man's 
heart at his first creation, and though somewhat blurred, we know the 
better how to read a defaced writing when we get another copy or 


transcript to compare with it. Especially when the heart is renewed, 
when the Spirit hath wrought a suitableness, there must needs be a 
consenting and embracing : Heb. viii. 10, ' This is the covenant that 
1 will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord ; I 
will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.' 
There is a ready willing heart to obey them and conform to them in 
the regenerate, therefore an assent is not enough, but a consent ; this 
is that they would choose and prefer before liberty ; they acquiesce and 
are satisfied in their rule as the best rule for them to live by. But let 
us see the three attributes, Tiply^just, and good. (1.) They are holy 
laws, fit for God to give and man to receive. When we are convinced 
of this, it is a great help to bridle contrary inclinations, and to carry 
us on cheerfully in our work. They are fit for God to give, they become 
such a being as God is : his laws carry the express print and stamp of 
his own nature upon them. We may know how agreeable they are to 
the nature of God by supposing the monstrousness of the contrary. If 
he had forbidden us all love, and fear, and trust in himself, all respect 
and thanks to our creator, or bidden us to worship false gods, or change 
the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to a cor 
ruptible man, as birds, four-footed beasts, and creeping things, or that 
we should blaspheme his name continually, or despise his glory shining 
forth in the work of his hands, and that we should be disobedient to 
our parents, and pollute ourselves as the beasts with promiscuous 
lusts, and fill the world with adulteries, robberies, and thefts, or slander 
and revile one another, and leave the boat to the stream, give over 
ourselves to our passions, discontents, and the unruly lusts of our cor 
rupt hearts ; these are conceits so monstrous that, if the beasts were 
capable of having such thoughts transfused into them, they would 
abhor them, and would infer such a manifest disproportion in the soul 
as it would in the body to walk with our hands and do our work with 
our feet And they are fit for man to receive if he would preserve the 
rectitude of his nature, live as such an understanding creature, keep 
reason in dominion, and free from being a slave to the appetites of the 
body. To be just, holy, temperate, humble, meek, chaste, doth not 
only concern the glory of God and the safety of the world, but the 
liberty of the reasonable nature, that man may act as a creature that 
hath a mind to know things that differ, and to keep him from that 
filthiness and pollution which would be a stain to him, and infringe 
the glory of his being. There is no middle thing ; either a man must 
be a saint or a beast, either conform himself to God's will, and look 
after the interests of his soul, or lose the excellency of his nature, and 
become as the beasts that perish ; either the beast must govern the 
man, or the man ride upon the beast, which he doth when he taketh 
God's counsel. (2.) Just, because it referreth to all God's precepts. I 
take it here not strictly but largely, how just it is for God to command, 
and how reasonable it is that we should obey the supreme being. His 
will is the reason of all things ; and who should give laws to the world 
but the universal sovereign who made all things out of nothing? 
Whatsoever you are, you receive it from the Lord ; and therefore, 
whatsoever a reasonable creature can do, you owe it to him: you are 
in continual dependence upon him, for ' in him you live, and move, 


and have your being/ Acts xvii. 28. And be bath redeemed you, 
called you to life by Christ : 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20, ' What, know you not 
that your body is the temple of the Holy G-host, which is in you, which 
ye have of God, and ye are not your own ? for ye are bought with a 
price ; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which 
are God's.' You owe all your time, and strength, and service unto 
him, and therefore you should still be doing his will and abounding in 
his work. (3.) He enjoineth nothing but what is good : Deut. v. 29, 
' Oh, that there were such a heart in them that they would fear me, 
and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with 
them, and with their children for ever ; ' Deut. vi. 24, ' And the Lord 
commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for 
our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.' 
God hath tempered his sovereignty towards the reasonable creature, 
and ruleth us not with a rod of iron, but with a sceptre of love : ' He 
draweth us with the cords of a man,' Hosea xi. 4 ; that is, with rea 
sons and arguments taken from our own happiness. Man being a 
rational and free agent, he would lead and quicken us to our duty by 
the consideration of our own benefit ; and when he might say only, Thus 
shall ye do ; I am the Lord ; yet he is pleased to exhort and persuade us not 
to forsake our own mercies, or to turn back upon our own happiness, and 
to propound rewards that we may be encouraged to seek after him in 
that way of duty which he hath prescribed to us. The reward is ever 
lasting glory, with the mercies of this life in order to it : Heb. xi. 6, 
' God is, and he is a re warder of them that diligently seek him.' 

[4.] How indispensably obedience to his commandments is required 
of us. As long as the heart is left loose and arbitrary, such is the un- 
ruliness and self-willedness of man's nature, Rom. viii. 7, ' The carnal 
mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, 
neither indeed can be/ The carnalist will not be held to his duty, but 
leaves that which is honest for that which is pleasing, and is governed 
by his appetite rather than his reason ; therefore faith hedgeth up his 
way, showeth him ' that without holiness it is impossible to see God,' Heb. 
xii. 14 ; that there is no coming to the end unless we take the way ; that 
there is no hope of exemption or excuse for the breaches of his law 
allowed but the plea of the gospel, which doth not evacuate but establish 
obedience to God's commands, requireth a renouncing of our former 
course, and a hearty resolution, ' to serve God in holiness and righteous 
ness all our days,' Luke i. 74, 75. Our duty is the end of our deliver 
ance. In the kingdom of grace we are not our own masters, or at 
liberty to do what we will. Christ came not only as a saviour, but as 
a lawgiver ; he hath his laws to try our obedience : Heb. v. 9, 'And 
being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all 
them that obey him.' He came not to lessen God's sovereignty or 
man's duty, but to put us into a greater capacity to serve God. He 
came to deliver us from the curse and indispensable rigours of the law 
upon every failing ; not from our duty, nor that we might not serve 
God, but serve him without fear, with peace of conscience and joy of 
heart, and requireth such a degree of grace as is inconsistent with any 
predominant lust and affection. 

[5.] That God loveth those that obey his law, and hateth those 


that despise it, without respect of persons : Acts x. 35, ' In every nation 
he that feareth God and worketh righteousness is accepted with him ; ' 
Ps. v. 5, ' Thou hatest all the workers of iniquity ; ' Prov. xi. 20, ' They 
that are of a froward heart are an abomination to the Lord, but such 
as are upright in their way are his delight/ The more obedient, the 
more God loveth us ; the less obedient, the less God loveth us. There 
fore, unless we love what God loveth, and hate what God hateth, do his 
commands carefully, and avoid the contrary, we cannot be acceptable 
with him, for God would not make a law in vain, but order his provi 
dence accordingly. 

S6.] That one day we shall be called to an account for our conformity 
inconformity to God's law. There are two parts of government 
legislation and execution : the one belongeth to God as king, the other 
as judge. Laws are but a shadow, and the sanction a mockery, unless 
there shall be a day when those that are subject to them shall be called 
to an account and reckoning. His threatenings are not a vain scare 
crow, nor his promises a golden dream ; therefore he will appoint a day 
when the truth of the one and the other shall be fully made good ; and 
therefore faith enliveneth the sense of God's authority with the remem 
brance of this day, when he will judge the world in righteousness. 

2. The necessity. 

[1.] The precepts are a part of the divine revelation : the object of 
faith is the whole word of God, and every part of divinely inspired 
truth is worthy of all belief and reverence. The word worketh not 
unless it be received as the word of God : 1 Thes. ii. 13, ' For this 
cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received 
the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word 
of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh 
also in you that believe.' Now we cannot receive the word as the word 
of God unless we receive all. There are the same reasons to receive 
one as the other ; therefore, if any part take good rooting, the whole is 
received. There may be a superficial affection to one part more than 
another ; but if there be a right faith, we receive all. It is the en 
grafted word that is effectual to the saving of our souls, James i. 21 ; 
if we would engraft the word, the precepts must stir up answerable 
affections as well as the promises. Every part must affect us, and stir 
up dispositions in us which that part is apt to produce. If the promises 
stir up joy and trust, the precepts must stir up love, fear, and obedience. 
The same word which calleth upon us to believe the free pardon of our 
sins, doth also call upon us to believe the commandments of God for the 
regulating and guiding of our hearts and ways. 

[2.] It is such a part as hath a necessary connection with the pro 
mises, as without which they can do us no good ; therefore, if we mean 
to be happy, we must regard both ; the one is as necessary and funda 
mental to our happiness as the other. Our consent to God's covenant 
is required, not as if we were to debate and alter the terms at our plea 
sure, but that we may take it as God hath stated it, and bind our 
duty upon us by our consent to God's authority. We cannot prescribe 
conditions and laws of commerce between God and us, but only God 
alone. Man did not give the conditions, or treat about the making of 
them, what they should be, but is only bound to submit to what God 


was pleased to offer and prescribe. We are not left free to model and 
bring down the terms to our own liking, to take hold of them, not to 
appoint them : Isa. Ivi. 4, ' For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs 
that keep my sabbaths, and do the things that please me, and take 
hold of my covenant ; ' for though he condescendeth to treat with us, 
yet still he keepeth the place of a sovereign : and therefore, if we be 
lieve promises, and do not believe God's commandments, it is not God's 
covenant, but one of our own devising, when we take and leave, and 
part and mingle, and chop and change at our own pleasures. The cove 
nant requireth a total, universal, unlimited resignation of ourselves to 
the will of God : ' I will be your God, you shall be my people/ 

[3.] The gratitude that resulteth necessarily from faith, or believing 
the promises, will put us upon this ; it apprehendeth love, and leaveth 
the stamp of it upon the soul, and worketh by love, Gal. v. 6. Now, 
how are we to express our love to God ? Not in a fellow-like familiar 
ity, but dutiful subjection to his laws : 1 John v. 3, ' For this is the 
love of God, that we keep his commandments ; and his command 
ments are not grievous ;' and John xiv. 21, ' He that hath my com 
mandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me ; ' not by 
glavering respects, or a fond remembrance and esteem of his memory, 
Mat. vii. 11. If we live to God, not to the world, not to the flesh, if 
faith be lively, it will put us upon this : 2 Cor. v. 15, ' And that he 
died for 'all, that they that live should not henceforth live unto them 
selves, but unto him which died for them and rose again.' 

[4.] Our trust in the promises is always commensurable to our fidel 
ity in the commandments. Faith in the one is maintained by faith 
fulness in the other, and assurance of acceptance with God cannot be 
greater than our care of obedience. When love to the world and the 
flesh tempt us to omit any part of our duty, then do we weaken our 
confidence thereby, and sin will breed distrust if we be serious and 
mind our condition : ' The fruit of righteousness is peace ; ' 1 John 
iii. 21, ' Beloved, if our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence 
towards God;' and Heb. vii. 2, 'Being by interpretation king of 
righteousness, and after that also king of Salem, which is king of 
peace ; ' and Christ saith, 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 
unto your souls.' Confidence and comfort follow grace, as heat doth 
fire ; and fears and doubts follow sin, as pain doth the pricking of a 
needle, or any sharp thing wherewith a man pierceth himself ; there 
fore, when sensual objects oversway us, and take us off from obedience 
to the command, they will also make us doubt of the mercy of God, as 
well as transgress our duty. We cannot trust him when we have 
offended freely and without restraint ; sin will breed shame and fear. 

At present all sinners feel it not; yet hereafter that sin that 
now weakeneth the faith we have in the commandments, will in time 
weaken the faith we have in the promises. Every part of our trust in 
God's declared will cometh to be tried one time or another : our confi 
dence in God's mercy is not fully and directly assaulted till the hour of 
death, and the time of extraordinary trial. When the evil day cometh, 
then the consciousness of any one sin whereunto we have been indulgent, 
and of the delight and pleasure we took in transgressing God's com- 

VER. 66.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 219 

mandmentSjWill be offeree to withdraw our assent from God's mercies: 
1 Cor. xv. 56, ' The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.' 

[5.] Faith in the promises, if it be not a conceit and a vain dream, 
is not only an act enforced by our necessity, but done in obed 
ience to God's will ; therefore we believe because God hath commanded 
it : 1 John iii. 23, ' And this is his commandment, that we should be 
lieve on the name of his Son Jesus Christ ; ' John vi. 29, ' This is the 
work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.' It sensibly 
appeareth many times, a poor soul hath no other motive or encourage 
ment. It ventureth, notwithstanding all discouragements to the con 
trary, in the strength and sense of a command ; as Peter, Luke v. 5, ' Mas 
ter, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing; nevertheless at 
thy word I will let down the net' Now that which is done, if rightly 
done, merely in obedience to a command, cannot be the ground of dis 
obedience in other things. We must not pick and choose. Certainly 
if we believe the promises on God's command, we will make conscience 
of other things commanded also ; for he is truly obedient to no precept 
that doth not obey all enforced by the same authority. 

3. The utility. 

[1.] That we may begin with God, to yield up our wills absolutely 
to his will ; it is upon a belief that this is his will concerning us ; for 
his will concerning our duty is revealed in his precepts : ' He hath 
showed thee, man, what is good ; and what doth the Lord require 
of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with 
thy God ? ' Micah vi. 8. Certainly an obedient creature desireth to 
know no more but what God will have him to do ; and therefore it is 
needful we should believe what is God's will, that we may resolve upon 
his will : Rom. xii. 1, 2, ' I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the 
mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, 
acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service ; 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, and acceptable, and 
perfect will of God.' The first thing that we do in grace is to arm 
ourselves with a resolution to obey God's will, though it be never so 
contrary to our own, or to the wills of men, or the course of the world's 
fashions : 1 Peter iv. 1, 2, 'Forasmuch, then, as Christ hath suffered 
for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind : for 
he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin ; that he no 
longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, 
but to the will of God.' Now, that this resolution may be made know 
ingly and with the greater strength, not only with the strength of inclina 
tion or our own resolved, renewed will, but in the sense of God's authority, 
a strong belief is necessary that this course of life is pleasing to God. 

[2.] That we may hold on with God in an awe-ful, watchful, serious 
course of godliness, it is necessary that the belief of the commandments 
be deeply impressed upon us. Alas ! otherwise we shall be off and on, 
forward and backward, according to the impulsion of our own inclina 
tions and affections, and the sense of our interest in the world. Many 
of the commandments are crossing to our natural inclinations and 
corrupt humours, or contrary to our interests in the world, our profit, 
pleasure ; and nothing will hold the heart to our duty but the con- 


science of God's authority : This is the Lord's will, then the gracious 
soul submitteth : 1 Thes. iv. 3, ' For this is the will of God, even your 
sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication;' and 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.' That is reason enough, and 
instead of all reasons, to a believer, to awe and charge his heart, that 
we may not shift and distinguish ourselves out of our duty, that we 
may shake off sloth and negligence, much more deceits, and fraudu- 
lency, and corrupt affections. Many shifts will be studied by a 
naughty heart that dispense with our credit, esteem, honour, prefer 
ment in the world for our loyalty to God. Nothing but a deep belief 
of the sovereignty of God and the sight of his will can be of sufficient 
power to the soul when such temptations arise, and our duties are 
so contrary to the inclinations of the flesh : Heb. xi. 8, ' By faith 
Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should 
after receive for an inheritance, obeyed ; and he went out not knowing 
whither he went ;' and ver. 17, 18, ' By faith Abraham, when he was 
tried, offered up Isaac ; and he that had received the promises offered 
up his only-begotten son ; of whom it is was said, That in Isaac shall 
thy seed be called ;' Gen. xii. 3, ' In thee shall all families of the earth 
be blessed.' Oh ! how have believers need to bestir themselves upon 
such an occasion, and to remember no evil can be compared with God's 
wrath, no earthly good with his favour : that transitory delights are 
dearly bought if they endanger the soul to compass them : ' That the 
sufferings of this life are not worthy to be compared with the glory 
that shall be revealed in us ! ' Horn. viii. 18. The ordinary experience 
of believers in lesser temptations is enough to evince this, &c. 
Use. 1. For reproof. 

1. That men do so little revive the belief of God's commandments, 
hence sins of omission : James iv. 17, ' Therefore to him that knoweth 
to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin ;' of commission : Jer. viii. 
6, ' I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright ; no man repented 
him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done ? Every one turned 
to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle/ Would men 
venture to break a known law if they did consider that it was the 
command of God that hath power to save and to destroy ? Surely 
want of faith in the precepts is a great cause of their coldness in duty, 
boldness in sinning : Prov. xiii. 13, ' Whoso despiseth the word shall 
be destroyed ; but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.' 
Now any one would fear God's commandment if he did consider it in 
all its circumstances. 

2. Those that would strongly believe the promises, but weakly 
believe that part of the word that requireth their duty from them, all 
for privileges, seldom reflect upon their own qualification : it is a good 
temper when both go together : Ps. cxix. 166, ' I have hoped for thy 
salvation, and have done thy commandments;' so Ps. cxlvii. 11, ' The 
Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his 
mercy.' But when asunder, all is naught. God's promises cannot com 
fort us if we be not of the number of them to whom they do belong ; not 
only consider what God is, but what we are, and what is required of us 
our qualification as well as his goodness, our duty as well as his mercy. 


Use 2. To believe the commandments with a lively faith. We should 
be tender of disobeying God's law. The law may be considered as a 
covenant of works, or as a rule of life. As a covenant of works, so it 
is satisfied by Christ for those that have an interest in him, and serveth 
to quicken us to get this interest in him. As it is a rule of life, so in 
the new covenant we give up ourselves to God to walk according to 
the tenor of it ; as Israel by a voluntary submission : Exod. xix. 8, 
' All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do.' So in the church of the 
New Testament we engage ourselves by a voluntary submission to 
walk according to the will of God, and confirm it by the sacraments, 
baptism, and the Lord's supper. Well, then, we are still to regard it 
as a binding rule, looking for grace to perform it. It is not only a 
rule given us for advice and direction, but for a strong obligation to 
urge and enforce us to our duty. So Ps. xl. 8, ' Thy law is in my 
heart ; I delight to do thy will, God.' 

Use 3. Do we believe the commandments ? Then 

1. We will not please ourselves with a naked trust in the promises, 
while we neglect our duty to God. That which God hath joined 
together no man must put asunder. The prophet saith, Hosea x. 11, 
* Ephraim is an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn ;' 
compared with Dent. xxv. 4, ' Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he 
treadeth out the corn.' We are addicted to our own ease, prize com 
forts, but loathe duty. Oh, make more conscience of obedience ! 

2. Their faith will be lively and operative, cause to keep God's 
charge and observe his commandments ; otherwise it is but an opinion 
and a dead faith : James ii. 20, ' Wilt thou know, vain man, that 
faith without works is dead ? ' Many may discourse of the necessity 
of duty that have little sense of it ; as the children in the furnace, the 
tire had no power over them, neither was one hair of their heads 
singed, nor their coats changed ; not a lust mortified, no good by their 
strict notions. 

3. They must be obeyed as God's commands, abstaining from evil 
because God forbiddeth it, practising that which is good because God 
commandeth it Notitia voluntatis: 1 Thes. iv. 3, 'This is the will 
of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from forni 
cation ;' 1 Thes. v. 8, 9, ' But let us who are of the day be sober, putting 
on the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet, the hope of 
salvation : for God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain 
salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ ;' 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.' Certainly no private respect, desire of our own plea 
sure and profit, should hinder us ; but we must respect one command 
as well as another, otherwise our obedience is partial. A quatenus ad 
omne valet consequentia ; if we believe the commandments, we must 
believe all. Where a disposition is allowed to break any one of God's 
laws, the heart is not right. God's sovereignty, once acknowledged, is 
alike potent to restrain every inclination to acts displeasing to God and 
contrary to our duty, one as well as another. 

Secondly, The text may be considered relatively, with respect to 
the matter in hand ; and so it may be conceived as a reason of asking, 
or as a reason of granting. 


1. As a reason of asking. 

[1.] It giveth a character of them that believe ; they that believe 
God's commandments will desire to know them more, to be more 
accurate in knowing their duty, and the weight and consequence of it ; 
they are willing to practise all that it requireth, and so are willing to 
' prove what is the acceptable will of the Lord :' Eph. v. 17, ' Where 
fore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is ;' 
they would not do anything doubtingly : Horn. iv. 23, ' He that 
doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith ; for 
whatsoever is not of faith is sin ;' nor according to the wills of men : 
Gal. i. 10, ' For do I now persuade men, or God ? or do I seek to 
please men ? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of 
Christ.' They would avoid all appearance of evil : 1 Thes. v. 22, 
Occasions to evil; Bom. xiii. 14, 'Make no provision for the flesh, 
to fulfil the lusts thereof/ They know the weight and consequence of 
these things. 

[2.] It giveth us an intimation of the necessity of growth : none 
believe so much but they may believe more : 1 John v. 13, ' These 
things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son 
of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may 
believe on the name of the Son of God ; ' and they may obey more, 
embrace the word more. David beggeth he may do so : always there 
is some new thing to be learned in the scripture. 

[3.] That faith planted in the heart is nourished and increased by 
more knowledge and understanding : 2 Peter i. 5, ' Add to your faith, 
virtue ; to virtue, knowledge.' There is an implicit and an explicit 
faith ; oportet discentem credere, swallowing pills, not chewing them. 

2. As a reason of granting. Believing God's commandments is a dis 
position that hath a promise of more knowledge to be communicated. 

[1.] God by one act of grace maketh way for another. First, he 
giveth this first favour of receiving the word by faith as divine, worthy 
to be believed and obeyed ; then, to understand it and apprehend it 
more perfectly, discretion and judgment to go about duties wisely. 

[2.] God giveth according to the creatures' receptions ; they that 
are dutiful and docile and willing to comply with their duty already 
known, shall know more. 

Use. The use is, if we expect more illumination, let us believe as 
much as is manifested already to us, with a mind to practise. 


Before I ivas afflicted I went astray ; but now have I kept iliy 
word. VER. 67. 

IN this verse you may observe two things : 

1. The evil of prosperity, before I was afflicted I went astray. 

2. The good of adversity, but now have I kept thy word. Before 
wandering, but now attentive to his duty. Or, if you will, here is the 
necessity of afflictions and the utility of them. 

VER. 07.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxrx. 223 

1. The necessity, ' Before I was afflicted I went astray.' Some think 
that David in his own person representeth the wantonness and stub 
bornness of all mankind. If it should be so, yet the person in whom 
the instance is given is notable. If this was the disposition of the pro 
phet and man of God, and he needed this discipline, we much more : 
if he could say it in truth of heart that he was made worse by his pros 
perity, we need always to be jealous of ourselves; and were it not for the 
scourge, we should forget our duty and- the obedience we owe to God. 

2. The utility and benefit of afflictions, ' But now have I kept thy 
word.' Keeping the law is a general word. The use of God's rod is 
to bring us home unto God, and the affliction driveth us to make 
better use of his word : it changeth us from vanity to seriousness, 
from error to truth, from stubbornness to teachfulness, from pride to 
modesty. It is commonly said, iradijfjtara fiad^futra ; and the apostle 
telleth us that Jesus Christ himself learned obedience by the things 
which he suffered, Heb. v. 8 ; and here David was the better for the 
cross ; so should we. Or rather, you may in the words observe three 

1. A confession of his wandering, ' I went astray/ 

2. The course God took to reduce him to his duty, ' I was afflicted.' 

3. The success or effect of that course, ' I have kept thy word.' 
Theodoret expresseth this in three words, ^ppcacrrrja-a, Irfiijdr/v, 

eppaxrdrjv I was sick ; I was cut, or let blood ; I was well, or re 
covered my health again. 

1. The one giveth us the cause of afflictions ; they are for sin, * I 
went astray ; ' wherein there is a secret acknowledgment of his guilt, 
that his sin was the cause of the chastisement God brought upon 
him. * 

2. The true notion and nature of affliction to the people of God. 
The cross changeth its nature, and is not pcena, a destructive punish 
ment, but remedium delinquentium, a medicinal dispensation, and a 
means of our cure. 

3. The end of them is obedience, or keeping God's word. The sum 
of the whole is, I was out of the way, but thy rod hath reduced me, 
and brought me into it again. Aben Ezra conceiveth that in this last 
clause he intimateth a desire of deliverance, because the rod had done 
its work ; rather, I think he expresseth his frame and temper when he 
was delivered ; and accordingly I shall make use of it by and by. 

I might observe many points, but the doctrine from the whole verse 

Doct. That the end of God's afflicting, is to reduce his afflicted 
and straying people into the right way. 

I shall explain the point by these considerations. 

1. That man is of a straying nature, apt to turn out of the 
way that leadeth to God and to true happiness. We are all so by 
nature : Isa. liii. 6, ' All we like sheep have gone astray.' Sheep, of 
all creatures, are exceeding subject to stray, if not tended and kept 
in the better, unable to keep out of error, and having erred, unable to 
return. This is the emblem by which the Holy Ghost would set 
forth the nature of mankind. But is it better with us after grace 
received ? No ; we are in part so still. The best of us, if left to 


ourselves, how soon are we out of the right way? into what sad errors 
do we run ourselves ? Ps. xix. 12, ' Who can understand his errors ? 
cleanse thou me from secret sins/ Since grace, we all have our de 
viations ; though our hearts be set to walk with God for the main, 
yet ever and anon we are swerving from our rule, transgressing our 
bounds, and neglecting our duty. Good David had cause to say, Ps. 
cxix. 176, 'I have gone astray like a lost sheep: oh, seek thy servant!' 
We go astray not only out of ignorance, but out of perverseness of 
inclination : Jer. xiv. 10, ' Thus have they loved to wander ; they 
have not restrained their feet.' We have hearts that love to wander ; 
we love shift and change, though it be for the worse ; and so will be 
making excursions into the ways of sin. 

2. This straying humour is much increased and encouraged by 
prosperity, which, though it be good in itself, yet, so perverse are we 
by nature, that we are the worse for it. That the wicked are the worse 
for it, is clear : Isa. xxvi. 10, ' Let favour be showed to the wicked, 
yet will they not learn righteousness.' The sunshine upon the dung 
hill will produce nothing but stinks, and the salt sea will turn all that 
falleth into it into salt water ; the sweet dews of heaven, and the 
tribute of the rivers all becometh salt when it falleth into the sea. So 
wicked men convert all into their humour : neither God's mercies nor 
judgments will have any gracious and kindly work upon them : but, 
if it be well with them, they take the more liberty to live loosely 
and profanely : the fear of God, which is the great holdback from all 
wickedness, is lessened and quite lost in them when they see no 
change : Ps. Iv. 19, ' Because they have no changes, therefore they 
fear not God.' That little slavish fear which they have, which should 
keep them back from wandering, is then lost, and the more gently 
God dealeth with them, the more godless and secure they are. When 
they go on prosperously and undisturbedly, the more obdurate ever. 
But is it not so with the people of God also ? Yes, verily. David, 
whose heart smote him when he cut off the lap of Saul's garment 
when he was wandering in the wilderness, could plot the death of 
Uriah, his faithful servant, when he was at ease in his palace. We 
lose much tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against sin, much 
of that lively diligence that we should otherwise show forth in carry 
ing on the spiritual life, when we are at ease, and all things go well 
with us. We are apt to indulge the flesh when we have so many 
baits to feed it ; and to learn how to abound is the harder lesson of the 
two than to learn how to be abased, Phil. iv. 12 ; and therefore, did 
not God correct us, we should grow careless and negligent. The 
beginning of all obedience is the mortification of the flesh, which 
naturally we cannot endure. After we have submitted and subjected 
ourselves to God, the flesh will be seeking its prey, and be rebelling 
and waxing wanton against the spirit, till God snatch its allurements 
from us. Therefore the Lord by divers afflictions is fain to break us 
and bring us into order. We force him to humble us by poverty, or 
disgrace, or diseases, or by domestic crosses, or some inconveniency of 
the natural and animal life, which we value too much. Besides, our 
affections to heavenly things languish when all things succeed with us 
in this world according to our heart's desire ; and this coldness and 


remissness is not easily shaken off. Many are like the children of Reuben 
and Gad, Num. xxxii., who, when they found convenient pastures on 
this side Jordan, were content with it for their portion, without 
seeking aught in the land of promise. So their desires insensibly 
settle here, and have less respect to the good of the world to come. 

3. When it is thus with us, God seeth fit to send afflictions. Much 
of the wisdom of God's* providence is to be observed ; partly in the 
season of affliction, in what state and posture of soul it surpriseth us, 
when we are wandering, when we most need it, when our abuse of 
prosperity calleth aloud for it; when the sheep wander, the dog is let 
loose to fetch them in again. God suiteth his providence to our 
necessities : 1 Peter i. 6, ' For a season ye are in heaviness, if need 
be.' Alas ! we often see that afflictions are highly necessary and 
seasonable, either to prevent a distemper that is growing upon us, or 
to reclaim us from some evil course in which we have wandered from 
God. Paul was in danger to be lifted up, and then God sendeth a 
thorn in the flesh. This discipline is very proper and necessary before 
the disease run on too far. Partly in the kind of affliction. All 
physic doth not work upon the same humour; divers lusts must 
have divers remedies. Pride, envy, covetousness, wantonness, emula 
tion, have all their proper cures. All sins are referred to three impure 
fountains : 1 John ii. 16, ' For all that is in the world, the lust of the 
flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, 
but is of the world.' From the lusts of the flesh do arise not only 
the gross acts of wantonness, fornication, adultery, gluttony, drunken 
ness, which the more brutish and base part of mankind are taken 
with, but an inordinate love of pleasures, vain company, and vain de 
lights, carnal complacency, or flesh-pleasing, wherewith the refined 
part of the world are too often captivated and bewitched. The lust 
of the eyes, covetousness and worldly-mindedness, produce wretched 
ness, rapines, contentions, strife, or that immoderate desire of having 
or joining house to house, field to field, and building up ourselves one 
storey higher in the world. From pride of life cometh ambition, lofty 
conceit of ourselves, scorn and contempt of others, affectation of 
credit and repute in the world, pomp of having multitudes of servants, 
or greatness of train, fineness of apparel, and innumerable vanities! 
Now God, that he may meet with his servants when they are tripping 
in any kind, he sendeth out afflictions as his faithful messengers to 
stop them in their career, that the flesh may not sail and carry it 
away with a full and clear gale. Against the lusts of the flesh he 
sendeth sicknesses and diseases ; against the lusts of the eyes, poverty 
and disappointments in our relations ; against pride, disgraces and 
shame : and sometimes he varieth the dispensation, for his providence 
doth keep one tenor, and every cure will not fit every humour ; all 
will not work alike npon all. He sendeth that affliction which is sure 
to work ; he knoweth how to strike in the right vein : thus he cureth 
Paul's pride by a troublesome disease. None that study providence 
but may observe the wisdom of God in the kind of affliction, and how 
suitable it is to the work it is to do ; for God doth all things in num 
ber, weight, and measure. Partly by the manner how it cometh upon 
us, by what instruments, and in what sort. How many make them- 



selves miserable by an imagined cross ! and so, when all things without 
are well, their own humours and passions make them a burden to 
themselves, and when they are not wounded in point of honour, nor 
lessened and cut short in estate, nor assaulted in their health, nor 
their relations diminished and cut off, but are hedged round about 
with all temporal happiness, there seemeth to be no room or place for 
any affliction or trouble in their bosoms, yet, ' in the fulness of then- 
sufficiency, God maketh them a terror and burden to themselves, 
either by their own fears or misconceit, or the false imagination of 
some loss or disgrace : God maketh them uncomfortable and full of 
disquiet ; and though they want nothing, yet they are not at ease, yea, 
more troubled than those that are called out to conflict with real, yea, 
the greatest evils. Haman is an instance : he was one of the princes 
of the kingdom of Persia, flowing in wealth and all manner of de 
lights, in degree of dignity and honour next the king himself, and 
flourishing in the hope of a numerous and fair issue ; yet because 
Mordecai, a poor Jew, did not do him expected reverence, 'All this 
availeth me nothing/ Esther v. 19. So soon can God send a worm 
into the fairest gourd, and a dissatisfaction into the most flourishing 
estate in the world, that men shall have no rest night and day, 
especially if a spark of his wrath light into the conscience : Ps. xxxix. 
11, ' When thou with rebukes dost correct man for his iniquity, thou 
makest his beauty to consume away like a moth : surely every man 
is vanity, Selah.' There is a secret moth that eateth up all their 
contentment ; they are under terror, discouragement, and want of 
peace : God teacheth them that nothing can be satisfactorily enjoyed 
apart from his blessed self: 'A fire not blown shall consume them/ 
Job xx. 26. Partly in the continuance of afflictions. God ordereth, 
taketh off, and layeth on afflictions at his own pleasure, and as he 
seeth it conducible to our profit. Variety of afflictions may meet to 
gether on the best and dearest of God's children, there being in the 
best many corruptions both to be discovered and subdued, and many 
graces to be tried : 1 Peter i. 6, ' Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though 
now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness, through manifold 
temptations ;' and James i. 2, 'My brethren /count it all joy when ye 
fall into divers temptations.' One trouble worketh into the hands of 
another, and the succession of them is as necessary as the first stroke. 
We often force God to renew his corrections, ab assuetis nulla fit 
passio things to which we are accustomed do not affect us ; there 
fore, under a general affliction there come in many special ones to rub 
up our sense^and make it work the better. Under public calamities 
we have a private one, and they come one in the neck of another like 
waves. When God hath begun he will make an end, and bring his 
discipline to some more comfortable and perfect issue. In all these 
things the wisdom of God is to be observed. 

4. The affliction so sent hath a notable use to reduce us to a sense 
and care of our duty. This is often pressed in the scripture : ' The 
fruit of all shall be to take away their sin.' Afflictions are compared 
in scripture to fire that purgeth away our dross : 1 Peter i. 7, ' Now 
for a season, if need be, ye are in manifold temptations, that the trial 
of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, 

VER. 67.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 227 

though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise, and honour, 
and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ/ To the fan that driveth 
away the chaff: Mark iii. 12, ' Whose fan is in his hand, and he will 
throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner ; but 
he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.' To a pruning- 
hook, that cutteth off the luxuriant branches, and maketh the others 
that remain the more fruitful : John xv. 2, ' Every branch in me that 
beareth not fruit he taketh away, and every branch that beareth fruit 
he purgeth it that it may bring forth more fruit.' To physic, that 
purgeth away the sick matter : Isa. xxvii. 9, ' By this therefore shall 
the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit to take away 
his sin.' To ploughing and harrowing of the ground, that destroyeth 
the ill weeds, and fitteth it to receive the good seed : Jer. iv. 3, 
' Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.' To the 
file that worketh oft' our rust, and the flail that maketh our husk fly 
off. So Heb. xii. 11, 'No affliction for the present seemetb joyous, 
but grievous ; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of 
righteousness to them that are exercised therewith.' The affliction 
Jiath a necessary tendency to so comfortable an effect But because 
generals do but beat the air, and do not so well fit themselves in the 
mind, I shall show you it is either the means of our first conversion, 
or subservient to the reformation of those that are converted. 

[1.] It is a means of our first conversion. How many begin with 
God upon the occasion of afflictions ! The time of sorrows is a time 
of loves. The hot furnace is Christ's workhouse, where he formeth 
the most excellent vessels of honour and praise for his own use. 
Manasseh, Paul, and the jailer in the Acts, were all chosen in the 
fire ; as the Lord saith, Isa. xlviiL 10, ' I have chosen thee in the 
furnace of affliction,' where God began to discover his choice by his 
working on their affections. All men are vessels capable of any form, 
therefore God puts them into the furnace. Most of us are taken in 
our month, as the ram that Abraham offered was caught in the 
thickets. When stout and stubborn sinners are broken with want and 
distress, then they come to themselves, and think of returning to their 
Father : Luke xv. 17, 18, 'And when he came to himself, he said, 
How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to 
spare, and I perish with hunger ! I will arise and go to my father,' 
<fec. Afflictions make us more serious ; conscience is then apt to 
work. Before, we were guided by the wisdom of the flesh, and 
governed by our carnal appetite, never minded heavenly things, till God 
get us under, and then we bethink ourselves. Have you never known 
any instance in this kind ? that whilst they were young, rich, strong, 
noble, all their humour was for vain pleasure, to-day hunting, to 
morrow hawking, another day feasting, and then brawling, fighting, 
drinking, carousing, dancing ; all the warnings of parents, the good 
counsel of tutors and governors, the grave exhortations of ministers 
and preachers, will do no good upon them ; they are always wandering 
up and down from God and from themselves, cannot endure a thought 
of God, of death, of heaven, of hell, of judgment to come ; but when 
God casts them once into some grievous disease, or some great trouble, 
they begin to come to themselves, and then they that would hear nothing, 


understand nothing, despised all grave and gracious counsel given, 
as if it did not belong to them, scoffed at admonitions, thought the 
day lost in which they had not acted some sin or other, when the 
cross preacheth, and some grievous calamity is upon them, then con 
science beginneth to work, and this bringeth to remembrance all that 
they have heard before, then they come to themselves, and would fain 
if they could come to Christ. Sharp affliction is a sound, powerful, 
rousing teacher : Job xxxvi. 8, 9, 'And if they be bound in fetters, 
and be holden in cords of affliction, then he showeth them their work, 
and their transgressions that they have exceeded.' Grace worketh in 
a powerful but yet in a moral way, congruously but forcibly, and by a 
fit accommodation of circumstances. One place more : Jer. xxxi. 18, 
' Truly I have heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus, Thou hast chas 
tised 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.' 
Affliction awakeneth serious reflections upon our ways ; therefore take 
heed what ye do with the convictions that arise upon afflictions ; to 
slight them is dangerous. Nothing breedeth hardness of heart so 
much as the smothering of convictions. Iron often heated grows the 
harder. On the other side, see they do not degenerate into despair, 
either the raging despair which terrifieth, or the sottish despair 
which stupefieth : Jer. xviii. 12, c They said, There is no hope, but we 
will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagi 
nation of his evil heart/ The middle between both is a holy sensible- 
ness of our condition, which is a good preparation for the great 
duties of the gospel. The work of conversion is at first difficult and 
troublesome, but pass over this brunt, and all things will be sweet and 
easy : the bullock at first yoking is most unruly, and fire at the first 
kindling casts forth most smoke ; so when sin is revived it brings 
forth death : Rom. vii. 9, ' For I was alive without the law once, but 
when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.' But yet 
cherish the work till God speak peace upon sound terms. 

[2.] It is a great help to those that are converted already. How 
many are reduced to a more serious, lively practice of godliness by 
their troubles ! We are rash, inconsiderate, inattentive to our duty, 
but the rod maketh us cautious and diligent. We follow the world, 
not the word of God ; the vanities thereof take us off from minding 
the promises or precepts of the word, till the affliction cometh. In 
short, there are none of us so tamed and subdued to God but that we 
need to be tamed more. We are all for carnal liberty; there is a 
wantonness in us. We are high-minded, earthly-minded, till God 
come with his scourge to reclaim us. He chasteneth us for our profit, 
that we may be partakers of his holiness, Heb. xii. 10 ; some lust still 
needeth mortifying, or some grace needeth exercising ; our pride needs 
to be mortified, or our affections to be weaned from the world. The 
almond-tree is made more fruitful by driving nails into it, because 
that letteth out a noxious gum that hindereth its fruitfulness ; so when 
God would have you thrive more, he makes you feel the sharpness of 
affliction. You have heard Plutarch's story of Jason of Chasrea, that 
had his imposthume let out by a casual wound. There is some cor 
ruption God would let out. We are apt to set up our rest here, and 

VER. 67.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 229 

therefore we need to be disturbed, to have the world crucified to us, 
Gal. vi. 14, that the cumber of the world may drive us to seek for rest 
where it is only to be found, and to humble us by outward defects, 
that we may look after inward abundance, that, by being poor in this 
world, we may be rich in faith, James ii. 5, and having nothing in, 
the creature, we may possess all things in God, 2 Cor. vi. 10, and be 
enlarged inwardly as we are straitened outwardly ; in short, that we 
may be oftener with God. God sent a tempest after Jonah. Absalom 
set Joab's barley-field on fire, and then he came to him, 2 Sam. xiv. 
30. Isa. xxvi. 16, ' Lord, in trouble have they visited thee ; they 
poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them ;' Hosea v. 15, 
' In their affliction they will seek me early.' It were endless to run 
out in discourses of this nature. 

5. The affliction of itself doth not work thus, but as sanctified and 
accompanied with the Spirit of God. If the affliction of itself and by 
itself would do it, it would do so always, but that we see by experi 
ence it doth not. In itself it is an evil and a pain that is the conse 
quent and the fruit of sin, and so breedeth impatience, despair, 
murmuring, and blasphemy against God. As it is a legal curse, other 
fruit cannot be expected of it but reviving terrors of heart and repin- 
ings against the sovereignty of God. We see often the same affliction 
that maketh one humble, maketh another raging ; the same poverty 
that maketh one full of dependence upon God, maketh another full of 
shifts and evil courses whereby to supply his want. No ; it is under 
stood of sanctified crosses, when grace goeth along with them to bless 
them to us : Jer. xxxi. 19, ' Surely after that I was turned, I repented ; 
and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh : I was 
ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of 
my youth ;' after God had wrought a gracious change in him by 
his afflicting hand and Spirit working together. So Ps. xciv. 12, 
' Blessed is he whom thou chastenest, and instructest out of thy law.' 
The rod must be expounded by the word, and both must be effectually 
applied by the Spirit. Grace is God's immediate creature and pro 
duction ; he useth subservient means and helps, sometimes the word, 
sometimes the rod, sometimes both ; but neither doth anything without 
his Spirit. 

6. This benefit, though gotten by sharp afflictions, should be owned, 
and thankfully acknowledged as a great testimony and expression of 
God's love to us. So doth David to the praise of God. It is a branch 
that belongeth to the thanksgiving mentioned ver. 65, ' Thou hast 
done well with thy servant, according to thy word ; ' the first of this 
octonary. We are prejudiced against the cross out of a self-love, a 
mistaken self-love ; we love ourselves more than we love God, and the 
ease of the body more than the welfare of the soul, and the world more 
than heaven, and our temporal pleasure and contentment more than 
our spiritual and eternal benefit ; and therefore we cannot endure to 
hear of the cross, much more to bear it. Oh ! this doth not become 
men ; surely it doth not become Christians ! Would you have your 
consolation here ? Luke xvi. ; your portion here ? Ps. vii. Would you 
value yourselves by the flourishing of the outward man, or the renew 
ing of the inward man ? 2 Cor. iv. 16. Should we be so impatient of 


the cross ? Afflictions are bitter to present sense, but yet they are 
healthful to the soul : they are not so bitter in present feeling as they 
will be sweet in the after-fruits. Now, we are greatly unthankful to 
God, if the bitterness be not lessened and tempered by this fruit and 
profit. Consider, when are we most miserable ? When we go astray, 
or when we are reduced into the right way ? when we are engaged in 
a rebellion against God, or when brought into a sense of our duty ? 
Hosea iv. 17, ' Ephraim is joined to idols : let him alone.' Let him 
alone is the heaviest judgment that can be laid upon a poor creature. 
Providence, conscience, ministry let him alone ; the case is desperate, 
and we are incorrigible when we are left to our own ways. There 
needeth no more to make our case miserable and sad than to be suffered 
to go on in sin without let and restraint ; there is no hope of such : 
God seemeth to cast them off, and to desert and leave them to their 
own lusts. It is evident he mindeth not their salvation, but leaveth 
them to the world, to be condemned with the world. Well, then, doth 
God do the elect any harm when he casts them into great troubles ? 
If we use violence to a man that is ready to be drowned, and, in pulling 
him out of the waters, should break an arm or a leg, would he not be 
thankful ? Yes, saith he, I can dispense with that, for you have 
saved my life. So may God's children bless his name. blessed 
providence ! I had been a witless fool, and gone on in a course of sin, 
if God had not awakened me. A philosopher could say that he never 
made better voyage than when he suffered shipwreck, because then he 
began to apply himself to the study of wisdom : surely a Christian 
should say, Blessed be God that he laid his chastenings upon me, and 
brought me to a serious heavenly mind : I should otherwise have been 
a carnal fool, as others are. Wicked men are left to their own swing. 
When the case of the sick is desperate, physicians let them alone, give 
them leave to take anything they have a mind unto. The apostle 
speaketh much to this purpose : Heb. xii. 6, ' Whom the Lord loveth 
he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.' Sharp 
afflictions, which in their visible appearance seem tokens of God's 
hatred, are rather tokens of his love. There is a twofold love of God 
Amor benevolentice et complacentice the love of good-will, whereby 
the Lord out of the purposes of his own free grace doth regenerate us, 
and adopt us into his family; and having loved us, and made us 
amiable, he doth then delight in us. The text alleged may be 
expounded of either. Oh 1 then, why do not we more own God in 
our afflictions ? If he use us a little hardly, it is not an argument of 
his hatred, but his love. Thou darest not pray, Lord, let me have my 
worldly comforts, though they damn me ; let me not be afflicted, 
though it will do me good. And if thou darest not pray so, will you 
repine when God seeth this course necessary for us, and taketh away 
the fuel of our lusts ? Is it not a good exchange to part with outward 
comforts for inward holiness ? If he take away our quiet, and give 
us peace of conscience, our worldly goods, and give us true riches, 
have we cause to complain ? If outward wants be recompensed with 
an abundance of inward grace, if we have less of the world .that we 
may have more of God, a healthy soul in a sickly body, it is just 
matter of thanksgiving : 3 John 2, ' I wish, above all things, that thou 

VER. 67.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 231 

raayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.' We 
can subscribe to this in the general ; all will affirm that afflictions are 
profitable, and that it is a good thing to be patient and submissive 
under them ; but when any cross cometh to knock at our door, we are 
loath to give it entrance ; and if it thrust in upon us, we fret and fume, 
and our souls sit uneasy, and all because we are addicted so unreason 
ably to the ease of the flesh, the quiet, happiness, and welfare of the 
carnal life, and have so little regard to life spiritual. 

7. At the first coming of the affliction we do not see this benefit so 
well as in the review of the whole dispensation : ' Before I was 
afflicted I went astray ; but now I have kept thy word.' So Heb. xii. 
11, ' Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but 
grievous ; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of 
righteousness to them which are exercised thereby.' There is a per 
fect opposition ; the root and the fruit are opposed affliction and 
fruit of righteousness, the quality of the root, and the quality 
of the fruit : ov %apa<? elvai a\\a XI/TTT??, Kctpirov (^aqpimv, the ap 
pearance and the reality, So/cet and aTroStSoxrt?,. Then the season, 
Trpo? TO -jrapov and vo-repov. God's physic must have time to work. 
At first it may not be so, or at least not appear ; for things are before 
they appear or can be observed for the present. We must tarry God's 
leisure, and be content with his blows, till we feel the benefit of them : 
it is first matter of faith, and then of feeling ; though we do not pre 
sently understand why everything is done, we must wait. The hand on 
the dial doth not seem to stir, yet it keeps its course ; while it is pav 
ing we see it not, but that it hath passed from one hour to another is evi 
dent. So is God's work with the soul ; and spiritual renovation and 
increase is not so sensible at the first though it be carried on f)pepa teal 
I'lpepq, day by day, 2 Cor. iv. 16, but in view of the whole it will ap 
pear. What are we the better ? Doth sin decay ? and what sin ? 
Do we find it otherwise with us than it was before ? 

8. This profit is not only when the affliction is upon us, but after it 
is over the fruit of it must remain. Their qualms and pangs most 
have : Ps. Ixxviii. 34-37, ' When he slew them, then they sought 
him, and returned and inquired early after God : and they remembered 
that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. Never 
theless, they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto 
him with their tongues ; for their heart was not right with him, neither 
were they steadfast in his covenant.' Many have a little forced religion 
in their extremities, but it weareth off with their trouble. Sin is but 
suspended for a while, and the devil chained up ; they are very good 
under the rod, they are frighted to it ; but after the deliverance 
cometh, the more profane. It is true many may begin with God in their 
troubles, and their necessities drive them to the throne of grace ; and 
Christ had never heard of many, if -fevers and palsies, and possessions 
and blindness, deafness and dumbness, had not brought them unto him, 
thanks to the disease. But if a course of godliness begins upon these 
occasions, and continues afterwards, God will accept it ; he is willing to 
receive us upon any terms. Men will say, You come to me in your 
extremity ; but he doth not upbraid us, provided we will come so as to 
abide with him, and will not turn the back upon him when our turn is 


served. If you do so, take heed ; God hath other judgments to reach 
you : as John said, Mat. iii. 11, 12, ' He that cometh after me is 
mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear ; he shall bap 
tize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire : whose fan is in his hand, 
and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the 
garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire/ So- 
that which cometh after is mightier than that which went before ; the 
last judgment is the heaviest : ' The axe is laid to the root of the tree ; 
therefore every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, 
and cast into the fire/ Mat. iii. 10. He will not only lop off the 
branches, but strike at the root ; as the Sodomites that escaped the 
sword of Chedorlaomer perished by fire from heaven. The Israelites 
that were not drowned in the Red Sea, were stung to death by fiery 
serpents : ' As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him ; or 
went into the house and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit 
him,' Amos v. 19. When you avoid one judgment, you may meet an 
other, and find a stroke where you think yourselves most secure. 

Use 1. Let us consider these things, that we may profit by all the 
chastenings of the Lord. It is now a time of affliction, both as to pub 
lic judgments and as to the private condition of many of the people of 
God. We have been long straying from God, from our duty, from 
one another; it was high time for the Lord to take his rod in his 
hand, and to scourge us home again. Upon these three nations there 
is somewhat of God's three great judgments war, pestilence, and 
famine ; they are all dreadful. The pestilence is such a judgment as 
turneth populous cities into deserts and solitudes in a short time ; then 
one cannot help another : riches and honours profit nothing then, and 
friends and kinsfolks stand afar off: many die without any spiritual 
helps. In war, what destructions and slaughters, expense of blood 
and treasure ! In famine, you feel yourselves to die without a disease, 
know not where to have fuel to allay and feed the fire which nature 
hath kindled in your bodies. But, blessed be God, all these are in 
moderation. Pestilence doth not ragingly spread, the war is at a dis 
tance, the famine only a scarcity. Before God stirreth up all his 
wrath, he observeth what we do with these beginnings. Besides, the 
people of God are involved in a heap of miseries on all hands ; the op 
pressed, dejected party burdened with jealousies, and ready to be 
haled to prison and put under restraint. Holy men sometimes have 
personal afflictions added to the public calamities. Jeremiah was cast 
into the dungeon when the city was besieged. The chaff and grain 
both are threshed together, but the grain is, besides, ground in the mill 
and baked in the oven. Besides, who thinks of his strayings, and re 
turning with a more serious resolution to his duty ? If we would pro 
fit by afflictions we must avoid both the faulty extremes : Heb. xii. 5, 
' My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when 
tliou art rebuked of him/ Slighting and fainting must be avoided. 

1. Let us not slight them. When we bear them with a stupid senseless 
mind, surely that hindereth all profit. None can endure to have their 
anger despised, no more than their love : a father is displeased when his 
child slights his correction. That we may not slight it, let us consider : 

[1.] Their author, God. We think them fortuitous, from chance, 


but they ' do not rise out of the dust,' Job v. 6. Whoever be the in 
struments, or whatever be the means, the wise God hath the whole 
ordering of it. He is the first cause ; he is to be sought to, he is to be 
appeased, if we would stop evil at the fountain-head ; for all creatures 
willingly or unwillingly obey him, and are subject to his empire and 
government : Amos iii. 6, ' Is there any evil in the city, and I have 
not done it, saith the Lord ? ' Isa. xlv. 7, ' I form the light, and create 
darkness ; I make peace and create evil ; I the Lord do all these 
things ;' Job i. 21, ' The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.' 

[2.] The meritorious cause is sin : Lam. iii. 39, ' Wherefore doth a 
living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sin ? ' That first 
brought mischief into the world, and still continueth it. God never 
afflicts without a cause ; either we need it, or we deserve it : Micah vii. 9, 
4 1 will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against 
him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will 
bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.' We 
should search for the particular sins that provoke God to afflict us ; 
for while we only speak of sin in general, we do but inveigh against 
a notion, and personate mourning ; but those we can charge upon our 
selves are most proper and powerful to break the heart. 

[3.] The end is our repentance and amendment, to correct sin past, 
or prevent sin to come. 

(1.) For correction, to make us more penitent for sin past. We 
being in a lower sphere of understanding, know things better by their 
effects than their nature : Jer. ii. 19, ' Thine own wickedness shall cor 
rect thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee : know, therefore, 
and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that thou hast forsaken the 
Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord of hosts/ 
Moral evil is represented to us by natural evil ; pain showeth what 
sin is. 

(2.) For prevention of sin for time to come. The smart should 
make us cautious and watchful against sin : Josh. xxii. 17, 18, ' Is the 
iniquity of Peor too little for us, from which we are not cleansed to 
this day, although there was a plague in the congregation of the Lord, 
but that ye must turn away this day from following the Lord ? And 
it will be, seeing ye rebel to-day against the Lord, that to-morrow he 
will be wroth with the whole congregation of Israel.' Afflictions 
also should stir up in us heavenly thoughts, heavenly desires, and more 
lively diligence in the exercise of those graces which before lay dor 
mant in us through our neglect. Only I must tell you, that sometimes 
the affliction may be merely for prevention, and may go before sin. 
God hath always a cause, but he doth not always suppose a fault in 
act, but sometimes in possibility ; looking into thy actions or thy tem 
per, what thou hast done, or wouldst do, to cure or prevent a distem 
per in thy spirit, as well as a disorder in thy conversation. 

2. Let us not faint. When the afflictions sit close and near, then 
we are apt to fall into the other extreme, to be dejected out of measure. 
An over- sense worketh on our anger, and then it is fretting ; or on our 
sorrow, and then it is fainting. The former is the worse of the two, 
for that is to set up an anti-providence, or a being displeased with 
God's government, a practical disowning of his greatness and justice. 


All men will acknowledge God is great, yet what worm is there will sub 
mit to him any further than themselves please ? We say we deserve 
nothing but evil from his hands, but yet are maddened like wild bulls in 
a net when the goad is in our sides. We say, Any other cross but this. 
We do not dislike trial, but this trial that is upon us. God thought 
this fittest for us ; our murmuring will not ease our trouble, but in 
crease and continue it. Certainly without submission troubles will do 
us no good : 'Patience worketh experience,' Rom. v. 4. Fainting, pro 
perly so taken, is when we look upon God's work through a false glass, 
and mis-expound his dispensation. God puts forth his hand, not to 
thrust us off, but pull us to himself : Hosea v. 15, ' I will go and re 
turn to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my 
face : in their affliction they will seek me early.' The very affliction 
giveth us hope that he will not let us go on securely in our sins. 
It is not our being afflicted and made miserable by trouble which God 
aimeth at : Lam. iii. 33, ' He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the 
children of men.' Nor is it that which we should chiefly be affected 
with under affliction. We should mind another lesson taught by it, 
which if we neglect, our sense of trouble will be but perplexing. It 
is to subdue sin, to make us more mindful of heavenly things, to have 
our hearts humbled. No affliction should be counted intolerable 
which helpeth to purge our sin. We evidence our love to sin if we 
are overmuch troubled at it, or peevishly quarrel with God. Faint 
ing showeth our weakness : Prov. xxiv. 10, ' If thou faint in the day 
of adversity, thy strength is small.' 

Use 2. Something concerning the profit of it : value it, observe it. 

1. Value it. What do you count a profit or benefit, to flow in 
wealth, or excel in grace ; to live in ease, or to be kept in a holy, 
heavenly, and humble frame ? Heb. xii. 10, ' For they verily for a few 
days chastened us after their own pleasure, but he for our profit, that 
we might be partakers of his holiness.' Not that we might have the 
pelf of this world, but that we might be partakers of his holiness. It 
is better to have holiness than to have health, wealth, and honour ; 
the_ sanctification of an affliction is better than to have deliverance out 
of it. Deliverance taketh away malum naturale some penal evil 
which God bringeth upon us; sanctification, malum morale the 
greatest evil, which is sin. I am sure this is that which we should 
look after. Deliverance is God's work, the improvement of the 
trouble is our duty : do you mind your work, and God will not be 
wanting to do his part. 

2. Observe it, and see how the rod worketh, what thoughts it begets 
in you, what resolutions it stirreth up, what solaces you run to, and 
seek after to this end. 

[1.] In what temper and frame of heart you were when the affliction 
surprised you. Usually affliction treadeth upon the heels of some sin. 
If it be open, and in our practice, it discovereth itself ; if secret, and 
in the frame of our hearts, it must be searched after. Usually it is 
Borne slightness and carelessness of spiritual and heavenly things; 
your hearts were grown in love with the world, you began to neglect 
your souls, grew more cold in the love of God, more formal in prayer, 
and indifferent as to your spiritual estate; you did not watch over your 

VER. 68.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 235 

hearts ; therefore the holy and jealous God cometh and awakeneth you 
by his smarting scourge. The foregoing distemper observed, will help 
you to state your profit. 

[2.] How that is cured by God's discipline, or what benefit you have 
gotten by it ? You are more diligent in your duty, careful in your 
preparations for a better state. A Christian should be able to give an 
account of the methods by which God bringeth him to heaven. David 
could give an account, as here, ' Before I was afflicted I went astray ; 
but now have I kept thy word ;' and ver. 71, 'It is good for me that I 
have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes ;' not good that I 
should be, as accepting the punishment, but that I have been, as 
owning the profit. 


Tliou art good, and doest good : teach me thy statutes. VER. 68. 

THE Psalmist in the first verse of this portion had expressed himself 
in a way of thankfulness to God for his goodness, ver. 65 ; then inter- 
rupteth his thanksgiving a little, and beggeth the continuance of the 
same goodness, ver. 66 ; and after that returneth again to show how 
this good came by means of affliction, ver. 67 ; and therefore once 
more praiseth God for his goodness, and reneweth his suit. God is 
ever good to his people, but most sensibly they have proof of it in their 
afflictions, when to appearance he seemeth to deal hardly with them ; 
yet all that while he doth them good. Sanctification of afflictions is a 
greater mercy than deliverance out of them. We may learn our duty 
by the discipline of a smart rod : ' Thou dealest well with thy servant;' 
for, ' Before I was afflicted I went astray ; but now I have kept thy 
word.' And then he falleth into thanksgiving and prayer again, 
' Thou art good, and doest good : teach me thy statutes/ Here is 

1. A compilation and confession of God's goodness, both in his 
nature and actions. 

2. A petition for grace, teach me thy statutes. 

First, The compellation used to God, ' Thou art good, and doest 
good/ Divers have been the glosses of interpreters upon these words. 
Aben Ezra, Bonus es non petenti, et benefacis petenti thou art good 
to them that ask not, but surely dost good to them that ask. Others, 
thou art good in this world, dost good in the world to come. Others 
better, God is good of himself and doeth good to us. Goodness is com 
municative of itself; he is good, that noteth his nature and inclination; 
-and he doeth good, that noteth his work, whereby he giveth 'proof of his 
goodness. Unumquodque operatur secundum suam foiinam every 
thing acteth according to its nature. So doth God ; as is his being, so 
is his operation ; he is good, and doeth good ; the work must needs be 
answerable to the workman. The point is : 

Doct. It becometh all those that have to do with God to have a 
deep sense of his goodness. 

1. What is God's goodness. 


2. How it is manifested to us. 

3. Why those that come to God should have a deep sense of it. 
First, What is God's goodness? There is a threefold goodness 

ascribed hy divines to God : 

1. His natural goodness, which is the natural perfection of his being. 

2. His moral goodness, which is the moral perfection of his being. 

3. His beneficial communicative goodness, called otherwise his be 
nignity, which is of chief regard in this place. Besides the perfection 
and excellency of his nature, there is his will and self-propension to 
diffuse his benefits ; the perfection of his nature is his natural and 
moral goodness, the other his bounty. All must be spoken to distinctly. 

1. God is naturally good. There is such an absolute perfection in, 
his nature and being, that nothing is wanting to it or defective in it, 
and nothing can be added to it to make it better. As Philo saith, 
'O 6W&>9 &v TO Trpwrov a<yaOov the first being must needs be the first 
good. As soon as we conceive there is a God, we presently conceive 
that he is good. In this sense it is said, Mark x. 18, ' Why callest thou 
me good ? there is none good but one, and that is God.' He is good of 
himself, good in himself, yea, good itself. There is none good above him, 
or besides him, or beyond him ; it is all from him and in him, if it be good. 
He is primitively and originally good, avrdyados, good of himself, which 
nothing .else is ; for all creatures are good only by participation and 
communication from God. He is essentially good ; not only good, but 
goodness itself : the creature's good is a superadded quality ; in him 
it is his essence. He is infintely good ; the creature's goodness is but 
a drop, but in God there is an infinite ocean and sea, or gathering 
together of goodness. He cannot be better, he is summum bonum 
the chiefest good ; other things are good in subordination to him, and 
according to that use and proportion they bear to him. He is not 
good as the means, but as the end. Things good as the means are 
only good in order, proportion, measure, and respect ; but God i 
absolutely good ; beyond God there is nothing to be sought or aimed 
at ; if we enjoy him we enjoy all good to make us completely happy. 
He is eternally and immutably good, for he cannot be less good than 
he is ; as there can be no addition made to him, so no subtraction, 
or aught taken from him. 

2. God is morally good, that is, the fountain and pattern of all that 
virtuous goodness which is in the creatures. So Ps. xxv. 8, ' Good 
and upright is the Lord ; ' and Exod. xxxiii. 19, ' He said, I will make 
all my goodness go before tb.ee, and proclaim my name/ As the 
creature hath a natural goodness of beauty, power, dominion, wisdom,, 
so it hath a moral goodness of purity and holiness. Accordingly we 
must conceive in God his holiness, purity, veracity, justice, as his- 
moral perfection and goodness, as his will is the supreme pattern and 
fountain of all these things in the creature. 

3. God is communicatively and beneficially good ; that implieth his- 
bounty and beneficence, or his will and self-propension to diffuse his 
benefits. It may be explained by these considerations : 

[1.] That God hath in him whatsoever is useful and comfortable to 
ns. That is one notion we apprehend him by, that he is ' God all- 
sufficient,' Gen. xvii. 1, or that he hath all things at command, to do 

VER. 68.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 237 

for us as our necessities shall require: Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, 'For the Lord 
God is a sun and a shield ; the Lord will give grace and glory ; no 
good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly ; ' Gen. 
xv. 1, ' Fear not, Abraham ; I am thy shield and thy exceeding great 
reward/ The privative and positive part is expressed in both these 
places, whether we need life or comfort, or would be protected from all 
dangers, bodily or spiritual. Why should we seek good out of God ? 
Riches, pleasures, honours might more happily be had if we could 
possess all things in God : Jer. ii. 13, ' My people have committed two 
great evils ; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and 
hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.' 
God is the fountain of all those things which are necessary to give us 
all good and defend us from all evil. Possidet possidentem omnia : 
2 Cor. vi. 10, ' As having nothing, and yet possessing all things.' 

[2.] That he hath a strong inclination to let out his fulness, and is 
ready to do good upon all occasions : ' Thou art good and dost good.' 
BONUM est primum, et potissimum nomen Dei, saith Damascene the 
chiefest name by which we conceive of God is his goodness. By that 
we know him, for that we love him and make our addresses to him : 
we admire him for his other titles and attributes, but this doth first 
insinuate with us, and invite our respects to him. The first means by 
which the devil sought to loosen man from God was by weakening the 
conceit of his goodness ; and the great ground of all our commerce 
with him is that God is a good God : Ps. c. 4, 5, ' Enter ye into his 
courts with praise ; be thankful unto him, and bless his name ; for the 
Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting.' He presently inviteth the 
world to come to him, because he is good. As God is all-sufficient in 
himself, so he is communicative of his riches unto his creatures, and 
most of all to his own people. Goodness is communicative, it diffuseth 
itself, as the sun doth light, or as the fountain poureth out waters. 

[3.] He is the fountain of all that good we have or are. We have 
nothing but what we have from God : James i. 17, ' Every good gift 
and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father 
of lights ; ' and Jer. ii. 13, he is called ' the fountain of living waters.' 
As rivers are supplied by the sea, so the gathering together of all good 
ness is in God. All candles are lighted at his torch ; there is nothing 
in the creature but what is derived from him : ' Who hath given to 
him first, and it shall be recompensed to him again ? ' Rom. XL 35, 
as the sun oweth nothing to the beam, but the beam oweth all to the 
sun, and the sea oweth nothing to the river, but the river oweth all to 
the sea. 

[4.] There will a time come when he will be 'all in all,' 1 Cor. xv. 
28, when God will immediately and in a fuller latitude communicate 
himself to his creatures, and there will need nothing beside himself to 
make us happy. Here we enjoy God, but not fully or immediately. 
We enjoy him in his creatures, but it is at the second or third hand ; 
the creature interposeth between him and us : Hosea ii. 21, 22, ' And 
it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord ; I will 
hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth ; and the earth shall 
hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil ; and they shall hear Jezreel/ 
In ordinances it is but a little strength and comfort that we get, such 


as is consistent with pain and sorrow ; it is not full, because it is not 
immediate. A pipe cannot convey the whole fountain, nor the ordin 
ances the full of God in Christ, only a little supply either as we need, 
or are able to receive ; but then God will be all in all, he will do his 
work by himself ; the narrowness of the means shall not straiten him, 
nor the weakness of the vessel hinder him to express the full of his 
goodness in full perfection. 

Secondly, How is his goodness manifested to us ? 

1. In our creation, in that he did raise us up out of nothing to be 
what we are, and form us after his own image. God made us, not 
that he might be happy, but liberal, that there might be creatures to 
whom to communicate himself ; our beings and faculties and powers 
were the fruits of his mere goodness. When God made the world, 
then was it verified, ' He is good, and doeth good.' Gen. i. ; for as the 
goodness of his nature inclined him to make it, so his work was good : 
after every day's work there cometh in his approbation, Behold it was 
good ; and when he had made man, and set him in a well-furnished 
world, and compared all his works together, then they were ' very 
good,' ver. 31. That he still fashioneth us in the womb, and raiseth 
us into that comely shape in which we afterwards appear, it is all the 
effect of his goodness. 

2. In our redemption ; therein he commendeth his love and good 
ness in providing such a remedy for lost sinners. There is fyikav- 
Bpa>7ria Titus iii. 4, ' But after that the kindness and love of God our 
Saviour towards man appeared.' In creation he showed himself ^>c\dyye- 
Xo<? ; in redemption, fyiXdvOpwrros, God is brought nearer to us as 
subsisting in our nature: 1 Tim. iii. 16, 'Great is the mystery 
godliness, God manifested in the flesh.' And so God had greater 
advantages to communicate himself to us in a more glorious way by 
the Kedeemer, that we might for ever live in the admiration of his 

3. In daily providence ; so the goodness of God is twofold : 

[1.] Common and general to all creatures, especially to mankind : 
Ps. cxlv. 9, ' The Lord is good to all, his tender mercy is over all his 
works.' Upon all things and all persons he bestoweth many common 
blessings, as natural life, being, health, wealth, beauty, strength, and 
supplies necessary for them. There are none of God's creatures but 
taste of his bounty, and have sufficient proof that a good God made 
them and preserveth them. The young ravens : Ps. cxlvii. 9, ' He 
giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry/ eW- 
fia\\ei TOI>? veoxTou? rj icopat;. So the wicked : Mat. v. 45, ' He maketh 
his sun to shine on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the 
just and on the unjust;' Acts xiv. 17, 'Nevertheless he left not him 
self without witness, in that he did good, arjadoTrouav, and gave ua 
rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and 
gladness.' These common mercies argue a good God that giveth them, 
though not always a good people that receiveth them. This goodness 
of God showeth itself daily and bountifully. 

[2.] Special ; God is good to all, but not to all alike. So he is good 
to his people, whom he blesseth with spiritual and saving benefits. 
So Lam. iii. 25, ' The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the 

VER. 68.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 239 

soul that seeketh him.' So Ps. Ixxxvi. 5, ' For thou, Lord, art 
good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all them that 
call upon thee.' For this kind of goodness, a qualification is necessary 
in the receiver. Satan will tell you God is a good God, but he leaveth 
out this to those that love and fear him, and wait upon him. This 
j>eculiar goodness yieldeth spiritual and saving blessings, such as 
pardoning of sins : Isa. Iv. 7, ' Let the wicked forsake his way, and the 
unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and 
lie will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly 
pardon ; ' instruction in the ways of God in the text, ' Thou art good, 
and doest good : teach me thy statutes/ And, in short, all the means 
and helps that are necessary unto everlasting glory : 2 Thes. i. 11, 
' Wherefore also we pray always for you, that God would count you 
worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, 
and the work of faith with power.' Once more, to the objects of his 
peculiar love common blessings are given in love, and with an aim at 
our good : Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, ' No good thing will he withhold from them 
that walk uprightly.' So that the ordinary favours which others enjoy 
are sanctified to them. They are from love, and in bonum, for good. 
God is ready to help them onwards to their everlasting hopes, and that 
estate which they expect in the world to come, where, in the arms of 
God, they shall be blessed for evermore. 

Thirdly, Why ought those that come to God to have a deep sense 
of this ? 

1. What is this deep sense ? 

[1.] It must be the fruit of faith, believing God's being and bounty, 
or else it will have no force and authority upon us : Heb. xi. 6, ' He 
that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder 
of them that diligently seek him.' If we have but cold notions or dead 
opinions of the goodness of God, they will have little power on us. It 
is faith sets all things awork ; there must be a sound belief of these 
things if we would practically improve them. 

[2.] It must be the fruit of constant observation of the effects of his 
goodness vouchsafed to us, so that we may give our thanks and praise 
for all that good we do enjoy. Careless spirits are not sensible of the 
hand of providence, never take notice of good or evil ; therefore the 
Psalmist saith, Ps. cvii. 8, ' Oh, that men would praise the Lord for 
his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men 1 ' 
He repeateth the same, ver. 15, 21, 31, and concludeth all ver. 43, 
* Whoso is wise, and will observe those things, even they shall under 
stand the loving-kindness of the Lord.' We are more backward to the 
observation of the goodness of God than we are to any duty ; therefore 
doth the Psalmist stir up all sorts of persons to note the invisible hand 
of providence that reacheth out supplies to them : whether they have 
business by sea or by land, whether in sickness or in health, in all the 
varieties of the present life, he is still stirring them up to mind their 
mercies, and inviteth them by God's late favours to the praise and 
acknowledgment of his goodness, his communicating his goodness so 
freely to undeserving and ill-deserving persons, and following them 
with more and more mercies. There are none of us but have reasons 
enough and obligations enough lying upon us to make observations in 


this kind ; every experience and new proof should put us upon this 
acknowledgment. Certainly they are the wisest sort of men who do 
observe God's providence. 

[3.] It is the fruit of deep and ponderous meditation. Glances 
never warm the heart ; it is our serious and deliberate thoughts which 
affect us; therefore the children of God should be thinking of his 
goodness displayed in all his works, especially in redemption by Christ : 
Eph. iii. 18, 19, ' To comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, 
and length, and depth, and height ; and to know the love of God 
which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of 
God.' To be ravished with love, affected with love, always thinking 
of love, speaking of love, expressing their sense of love, that is a work 
behoving saints. We should often meditate upon and set our minds 
awork upon this goodness by frequent and serious thoughts of it, for 
the strengthening of our faith and quickening of our love to God. 

[4.] It is the fruit of inward and spiritual taste : 1 Peter ii. 3, ' If 
so be that ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.' So Ps. xxxiv. 8, 
' Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.' Do not be content with 
hearsay, but get a taste ; that is, an inward and experimental know 
ledge of the goodness of God in Christ, that we may know it, not .only 
by guess and imagination, but by sense and feeling : the one half of 
it cannot be told you. Optima demonstratio est a sensibus. 
2. Why we need to labour so much after a deep sense of this. 
[1.] To check our natural legalism, and the dark and distrustful 
prejudices of our own hearts. There is a secret guiltiness in us that 
breedeth misgiving thoughts of God. We have many suspicious 
thoughts of him, being guilty creatures, because we only represent him 
to ourselves as a consuming fire, or as clothed with justice and 
vengeance, watching an opportunity of doing us harm, and shut out 
all thoughts of goodness and mercy; yet when he proclaimeth his 
name, he telleth Moses he would make his goodness pass before him. 
God is wonderfully good in his nature, and he delighteth in the com 
munications of his goodness : nothing pleaseth him better than his 
word ; the business of it is to represent him good. Mercy pleaseth 
him : Micah vii. 18, ' Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth 
iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heri 
tage ? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in 
mercy.' ' Mercy rejoiceth over judgment ; ' Ps. cxviii. 1, ' Oh, give 
thanks unto the Lord, for he is good ; because his mercy endureth for 
ever.' His works speak him good ; there is no part of the world that 
we can set our eyes upon but it offereth matter of praise to God for 
his bounty to his creatures, especially to man: Ps. xxxiii. 5, 'The 
earth is full of the goodness of the Lord ; ' the whole earth is full of 
his goodness, and will you draw an ill picture of him in your minds, 
as if he were harsh and severe, and his service were intolerable ? No ; 
' The Lord is good, and doth good.' 

[2.] That we may justify God against the prejudices of the un 
believing world, and invite them from our own experience to make 
trial of God. So Ps. xxxiv. 8, ' Oh, taste and see that the Lord is 
good ; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.' A report of a report 
signifieth little ; what we have found ourselves we can confidently re- 

VKU. 68.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 241 

commend to others. When we have felt his dealing with ourselves, 
we can entreat them to see what waiting upon God will come to ; let 
any man make the experiment, keep close to God in obedience and re 
liance, and he shall find him to be a gracious master ; others that 
have dark thoughts of God, like the spies, they bring an ill report 
upon his ways. 

[3.J To humble the creature. We have not a right sight of God 
unless all created perfections vanish before him. The creatures are 
but some shadows, pictures, resemblances, or equivocal shapes of God. 
Whatever name they have of good, wise, strong, beautiful, true, or 
such like, it is but a borrowed speech from God, whose image they 
have ; and if the creature usurpeth its being as originally belonging to 
themselves, it is as if the picture should call itself a true and living 
man. ' I am, and there is none beside me,' holdeth true of God's 
being, and all his perfections, natural or moral. The creatures may 
be good, or better, or best, compared among themselves ; but we are 
f rail and nothing if compared with God : ' There is none good but one, 
and that is God.' That goodness which we have in participation from 
him will appear no goodness in comparison of him. ' The heavens 
themselves are not clean in his sight : ' Job xxv. 5, 6, ' Behold even to 
the moon, and it shineth not ; yea the stars are not pure in his sight : 
how much less man that is a worm, and the son of man which is a 
worm ? ' And elsewhere, Job iv. 18, ' Behold, he putteth no trust in 
his servants, and his angels he chargeth with folly ' mutability in the 
angelical nature. When Isaiah had seen God, and heard the angels 
cry out, 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts/ Isa. vi. 5, 'Then 
said I, Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of un 
clean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; 
and mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts.' The con 
sideration of his goodness obscureth all the glory and praise of the 
creature ; as when the sun is up the lustre of the stars is no more 
seen. When we compare ourselves with one another, one may be 
called bad, another good ; but with God no man is good. He is good, 
but we are evil ; he is heaven, but we are hell ; he is all perfection, we 
are all weakness. In respect of his goodness, nothing in us deserveth 
that name, as lesser light in the view of a greater is darkness. When 
Job had seen God, he could not look upon himself with any patience : 
Job xlii. 5,6/1 have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now 
mine eye seeth thee : wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and 
ashes.' That is a true sight of God that abaseth and lesseneth all 
things besides God, not only in opinion, but in affection and estima 
tion. Alas ! the best of us are scarce dark shadows of his goodness. 

[4.] God's goodness is the life of our faith and trust. So long as 
the goodness of God endureth for ever, we have no cause to be dis 
couraged. If we want direction, in the text it is said, ' Thou art good, 
and dost good; teach me thy statutes.' If we want support and 
deliverance, Nahum i. 7, ' The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day 
of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him.' In every strait 
the people of God find him to be a good God. When we feel the 
burden of sin, and fear God's wrath, Ps. Ixxxvi. 5, ' The Lord is good, 
and ready to forgive ; and plenteous in mercy to all them that call 



upon him.' David, when his old sins troubled him, the sins of his 
youth, Ps. xxv. 7, ' Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my trans 
gressions : according to thy mercy remember thou me, for thy good 
ness' sake, Lord/ When his enemies consulted his ruin, Ps. li. 1, 

* Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, mighty man ? the goodness 
of God endureth continually/ They cannot take away the goodness 
of God from you, whatever they plot or purpose against you. Thus 
may faith triumph in all distresses upon the sense of the goodness of 
God. In the agonies of death, the goodness of God will be your sup 
port. Non sic vixi ut pudeat me inter vos vivere ; nee mori timeo, 
quia bonum habeo Dominum. We have a good master, who will not 
see his servants unrewarded. The goodness of God, and his readiness 
to be gracious to every one that cometh to him, is the fountain of the 
saint's hope, strength, and consolation. 

[5.] The goodness of God is the great motive and invitation to re 
pentance : Rom. ii. 4, ' Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and 
forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God 
leadeth thee to repentance ? ' How so ? God is good, but not to 
those that continue in their sins: Ps. Ixviii. 19-21, 'Blessed be the 
Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salva 
tion, Selah. He that is our God is the God of salvation, and unto 
God the Lord belong the issues from death : but God shall wound the 
head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on 
still in his trespasses/ If goodness be despised, it will be turned into 
fury. How great soever the riches of the Lord's bounty and grace 
offered in Christ are, yet an impenitent sinner will not escape un 
punished. God is good ; oh ! come, try, and see how good he will be 
to you, if you will turn and submit to him. There is hope offered, 
and goodness hath waited to save you ; so that now you may seek his 
favour with hope to speed. While he sits upon the throne of grace, 
and alloweth the plea of the new covenant, do not stand off against 
mercies. God hath laid out the riches of his gracious goodness upon 
a design to save lost sinners ; and will you turn back upon him, and 
despise all his goodness provided for you in Christ? In point of 
gratitude, the least kindness done men melteth them as coals of fire. 
The borrower is servant to the lender. God hath not only lent us, but 
given us all that we have ; therefore it should break our hearts with 
sorrow and remorse that we should offend a God so good, so bountiful, 
so merciful. The odiousness of sin doth most appear in the unkind- 
ness of it ; that infinite goodness hath been abused, and infinite good 
ness despised, and that you are willing to lose your part in infinite 
goodness, rather than not satisfy some base lust, or look after some 
trifling vanity. Saul wept at the thoughts of David's kindness, 1 Sam. 
xxiv. 16. Every man will condemn the wrongs done to one that hath 
done us no evil, but much good ; and will you sin against God, who is 
so good^ in himself, so good to all his creatures, and so good to you, 
and waiteth to be better and more gracious ; and return evil for all 
his good, and requite his love with nothing but unkindness and pro 
vocation ? Oh, be ashamed of all these things ! What heart is that 
that can offend, and so willingly offend, so good a God ! Rom. xii. 1, 

* I beseech you by the mercies of God ' (there is argument and endear- 

VER. G8.] SF.UMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 243 

ment enough in that) ' that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, 
holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service,' that ye 
consecrate, dedicate yourselves to his glory, address yourselves cheer 
fully to his service. Let the soul be warmed into an earnest resolution 
to please him for the future, lest you make goodness your enemy, and 
justice take up the quarrel of abused grace. 

[6.] The goodness of God is the great argument to move us to love 
God. If he be good, he is worthy to be loved, and that with a super 
lative love ; for God is both the object and the measure of love. A less 
good should be loved less, and a greater good more. All that is not 
God is but a finite and limited good, and must be loved accordingly. 
God only is infinite and eternal, and therefore he is to be loved of all, 
and above all, with our chiefest and most worthy love, by preferring 
his glory above all things that are dear to us, and being content for 
his sake to part with all that we have in the world. But if any lower 
thing prevail with us, we prefer it before God, and so contemn his 
goodness in comparison of it. If the object of love be good, none so 
properly deserveth our love as God. For (1.) He is originally good, 
the fountain of all good; therefore if we leave God for the deceitful 
vanities of this present life, we leave ' the fountain of living waters/ 
for a 'broken cistern/ Jer. ii. 13. The creatures are but dry pits and 
broken cisterns. (2.) He is summum bonum, the chiefest good. Other 
things, what gjood they have, they have it from him ; therefore it is 
infinitely better and greater in him than iu them ; all the good that is 
in the creature is but a spark of what is in God. If we find any 
good there, it is not to detain our affections, but to lead us to the 
greater good, not to hold us from him, but to lead us to him, as the 
streams lead to the fountain, and the steps of a ladder are not to stand 
still upon, but that we may ascend higher. There is goodness in the 
creature, but mixed with imperfection ; the good is to draw to him, 
the imperfection to drive us off from the creature. (3.) He is in 
finitely good. Other things may busy us and vex us, but they cannot 
satisfy us ; this alone sufficeth for health, wealth, peace, protection, 
grace, glory. Necessities that are not satisfied in God are but fancies, 
and the desires that are hurried out after them, apart from God, are 
not to be satisfied, but mortified. If we have not enough in God, it 
is not the default of our portion, but the distemper of our hearts. In 
choosing God for our portion, one hath not the less because another 
enjoyeth it with him : here is a sharing without division, and a par 
taking without the prejudice of copartners. We straiten others in 
worldly things so much as we are enlarged ourselves ; finite things 
cannot be divided, but they must be lessened; they are not large 
enough to be parted ; but every one possesseth all that is good in God 
who hath God for his portion ; as the same speech may be heard of 
all, and yet no man heareth the less because others hear it with him, 
or as no man hath the less light because the sun shineth on more than 
himself: the Lord is all in all; the more we possess him the better. 
As in a choir of voices, every one is not only solaced with his own 
voice, but with the harmony of those that sing in concert with him. 
Many a fair stream is drawn dry by being dispersed into several 
channels, but that which is infinite will suffice all. (4.) He is 


eternally good : Ps. Ixxiii. 26, ' God^ is the strength of my heart, and 
my portion forever.' The good things of this life are perishing and 
of a short continuance ; we leave other good things when we come to 
take full possession of God. At death wicked men perceive their 
error, when the good they have chosen cometh to be taken from them; 
but a man that hath chosen God then entereth into the full possession 
of him ; that which others shun, he longeth for, waiting for that time 
when the creature shall cease, and God shall be all in all. Oh ! let all 
these things persuade us to love God, and so to love him that our 
hearts may be drawn off from other things. Let us love him because 
of the goodness and amiableness of his nature, because of his bounty 
in our creation, redemption, and daily providence, and because he will 
be our God for ever. 

[7.] God's goodness is our consolation and support in all afflictions. 
God is a gracious father, and all that he doth is acts of grace and 
goodness ; even the sharpest of his administrations are absolutely the 
best for us : Ps. Ixxiii. 1, ' Truly God is good to Israel ;' all his work 
is good ; as in the six days, so in constant providence, it is either good 
or it will turn to good : Bom. viii. 28, ' All things shall work together 
for good to them that love God.' God may change our condition, yet 
he doth not change his affection to us ; he is all good, and doth that 
which we shall find good at length. 

[8.] It is the ground of prayer ; if we lack any good thing, he hath 
it, and is ready to communicate it. The goodness of God, as it doth 
stir up desire in us, so hope ; as it stirreth a desire to communicate of 
his fulness, so a hope that surely the good God will hear us. He is 
not sparing of what he can do for us : James i. 5, ' If any of you 
lack wisdom, let him ask it of God, who giveth to all men liberally, 
and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.' Our wants send us 
to the promises, and the promises to God. 

Use 1. To press us to imitate our heavenly Father ; you should 
be good and do good, as he is good and doth good ; for every disposi 
tion in God should leave an answerable character and impression upon 
their souls that profess themselves to be made partakers of a divine 
nature ; therefore it should be our great care and study to be as good 
and do as much good as we possibly can. He is one like God that is 
good and doth good ; therefore still be doing good to all, especially 
to the household of faith : Gal. vi. 10, ' As we have therefore oppor 
tunity, let us do good to all men, especially unto them who are of the 
household of faith;' with Mat. v. 44, 45, 'Love your enemies, bless 
them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for 
them that despitefully use you and persecute you ; that ye may be 
the children of your Father which is in heaven : for he maketh his 
sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just 
and on the unjust ;' Luke vi. 35, 'But love ye your enemies, and do 
good, and lend, hoping for nothing again ; and your reward shall be 
great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest ; for he is kind 
unto the unthankful, and to the evil ;' 2 Peter i. 7, 'Add to godliness, 
brotherly kindness ; and to brotherly kindness, charity/ Not doing 
good to our own party, or those of our friendship, but to all. So 
generally all good is to be done, as well as that of bounty and benefi- 

VER. 68.] SKKMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 245 

cence : Luke vi. 45, ' A good man, out of the good treasure of his 
heart, bringeth forth good things ;' and it is said of Barnabas, Acts 
xi. 24, ' He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of 
faith.' A good man is always seeking to make others good, as fire 
turneth all things about it into fire. The title signifies one not only of 
a mild disposition, but of a holy, heavenly heart, that maketh it his 
business to honour God. So Joseph of Arimathea is said to be ' a good 
man, and a just ;' this is to be like God. 

Use 2. Direction to you in the business of the Lord's supper : God 
is good, and doeth good. 

1. Here you come to remember his goodness to you in Christ. 
Now the goodness of God should never be thought on, or comme 
morated, but your hearts should be raised in the wonder and admiration 
of it: Ps. xxxi. 19, 'Oh, how great is thy goodness, which thou hast 
laid up for them that fear thee ; which thou hast wrought for them 
that trust in thee ! ' and Ps. xxxvi. 7, * How excellent is thy loving- 
kindness, God ! therefore the children of men put their trust under 
the shadow of thy wings.' This should be delightful work to you, 
and not gone about with dead and careless hearts. We cannot ex 
press ourselves many times ; strong passions do not easily get a vent ; 
little things may be greatened by us, but great things indeed strike us 
dumb. However, our hearts should be deeply affected and possessed 
with this ; we should be full of such admiring thoughts. 

2. We come for a more intimate and renewed taste. By taste, I 
mean spiritual sense, to have ' the love of God shed abroad in our 
hearts by the Holy Ghost given to us,' Rom. v. 5. We come to the 
feast of the soul that our hungry consciences may taste of the fatness 
of God's house, Ps. Ixv. 4 ; that our thirsty souls may drink of the 
rivers of his pleasure, Ps. xvi. 11 ; to have some pledge of the joys 
of heaven, if not to ravishment and sensible reviving, yet such as may 
put us out of relish with carnal vanities ; some gracious experiences 
that may make us long for more, and go away lauding God. 

3. To stir up our love to God as the most lovely and suitable object 
to our souls ; in him is nothing but good. God is goodness itself : he 
is one that has deserved your love, and will satisfy and reward your 
love. All the good we have in an ordinance it is from him, and to 
lead up our souls to him. Our business now is to ' love God, who 
loved us first,' 1 John iv. 19 ; to love him by devoting ourselves to 
him, and to consecrate our all to his service. 

4. To desire more communion with him, and to long after the blessed 
fruition of him, when God shall be all in all, not only be chief, but all, 
when we shall perfectly enjoy the infinite God, when the chiefest good 
will give us the greatest blessings, and an infinite eternal God will give 
us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. The word, sacra 
ments, and prayer convey but little to you in comparison of that, when 
God is object and means, and all things. The soul is then all for 
Christ, and Christ all for the soul. Your whole employment is to love 
him, live upon him. Here we give away some of our love, some of our 
thoughts and affections, on other things ; Christ, is crowded, hath not 
room to lay forth the glory of his grace ; but there is full scope to 

246 SERMONS uroN PSALM cxix. [SsR. LXXVIII. 


Teach me iliy statutes, VER. 68. 

SECONDLY, we come to David's petition, 'Teach me thy statutes ;' 
which I shall be brief in, because it doth often occur in the verses of 
this psalm. David's petition is to understand the word that he might 
keep it. Teaching bringeth us under the power of what is taught, and 
increaseth sanctification both in heart and life, as well as illumination 
or information. 

Doct. One chief thing which they that believe and have a sufficient 
apprehension of God's goodness should seek of him in this world, is 
understanding the way of salvation. 

This request is enforced out of the former title and compilation. 

1. Because the saving knowledge of his will is one principal effect 
of his bounty and beneficence. As he showeth love to man above other 
creatures, in that he gave him such a life as was light, John i. 4 that is, 
had reason and understanding joined with it so to his people above other 
men, that he hath given them a saving knowledge of the way of salvation 
since sin : Ps. xxv. 8, ' Good and upright is the Lord ; he will teach 
sinners the way.' It is a great discovery of God's goodness that he 
will teach sinners, a favour not vouchsafed to the fallen angels : it is 
more than if he gave us the wealth of the whole world ; that will not 
conduce to such a high use and purpose as this. More of his good 
will and special love is seen in this, to teach us the way how to enjoy 
him. Eternal life is begun by this saving knowledge : John xvii. 3, 
' And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, 
and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent/ 

2. This is one principal way whereby we show our sense of God's 
goodness. That is a true apprehension of God's goodness which giveth 
us confidence and hope of the saving fruits of it, when, the oftener 
we think of it, the more of sanctification we seek to draw from this 
fountain of goodness. That is an idle speculation that doth not beget 
trust, an empty praise, a mere compliment that doth not produce a real 
confidence in God, that he will give us spiritual blessings when we 
heartily desire them. True knowledge of God's name breedeth trust : 
Ps. ix. 10, ' They that know thy name will put their trust in thee ; ' 
and more particularly for this kind of benefit. It is a general encourage 
ment: Mat. vii. 11, 'If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good 
gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father which is in 
heaven give good things to them that ask him ? ' But it is limited to the 
Spirit : Luke xi. 13, ' If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts 
to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the 
Spirit to them that ask it ? ' Without this faith there is no commerce 
with God. 

3. It is an argument of the good temper of our souls not to serve our 
carnal turns, but promote the welfare of our souls, when we would 
enjoy and improve the goodness of God to get this benefit. 

[1.] They are affected according to the value of the thing. Of all 
the fruits of God's goodness which a holy man would crave for himself 


and challenge for his portion, this he thinketh fittest to be sought 
sanctifying grace to understand and keep the law. If this be not the 
only, yet it is the chief est benefit which they desire in the world. For 
other things, let God deal with them as he will ; but they value this 
among the greatest things which God bestoweth on mankind. Observe 
here how much the spirit of God's children differeth from the spirit of 
the world ; they account God hath dealt well with them when he be 
stoweth upon them wealth and honour : Ps. iv. 6, ' Who will show us 
any good ?' but the other desire grace to know God's will, and to 
serve and please him : there is the thing they desire and seek after, as 
suiting their temper and constitution of soul. A man is known by his 
desires, as the temper of his body by his pulse. 

[2.] They would not willingly sin against God, either out of igno 
rance or perverse affections ; therefore, if God will direct them and 
assist them in the work of obedience, their great care and trouble is 
over. It is a good sign that a man hath a simple, honest spirit, when 
there is rooted in his heart a fear to offend God, and a care to please 
him. He may err in many things, but God accepts him as long as 
seeking knowledge in order to obedience, Eph. v. 15-17. All that 
God requireth, both for matter and manner, is, that we would not 
comply with sin ; seeing the time is evil and full of snares, we should 
not be unwise in .point of duty. 

[3.] They have a holy jealousy of themselves. David desired to use 
every condition well, whether he were in prosperity or trouble. The 
context speaketh of afflictions that were sanctified ; but a new con 
dition might bring on a new alteration in the soul. Prosperity would 
make him forget God, and trouble overwhelm him, if God did not teach 
him. In what state soever we be, we must desire to be taught of God, 
otherwise we shall fail : Phil. iv. 11, 12, ' For I have learned, in what 
soever state I am, therewith to be content : I know how to be abased, 
and how to abound ; everywhere and in all things I am instructed.' 
Unless the Lord guide us, we shall be as Ephraim was, ' a cake not 
turned,' Hosea vii. 8, baked but on one side, quite dough and raw on 
the other side; fail in the next condition, though passed over one 

[4.] A sense of the creature's mutability. Comparing it with the 
former verse, I observe, that though he kept God's commandments, 
yet he craveth further grace, and desireth that he may be still taught, 
because he knew not all that he might know, and was ready to err 
both in practice and judgment : and this must teach us to desire God's 
guidance and direction, not only when we have erred, but when we do 
well. Many, when they have smarted for their errors, will desire God 
to teach them ; but David kept this continual dependence upon God 
for daily grace, both for turning away of evil, and also for doing good : 
Prov. iii. 5, 6, ' Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not 
upon thine own understanding : in all thy ways acknowledge him, and 
he shall direct thy paths ; ' which we are to follow in our places and 
callings. We are apt to ascribe too much to our present frame and 
resolutions. God must still be called to for his counsel and blessing 
in every business. 

[5.] An evangelical frame. He pleadeth not merit, appealeth not 


to justice, but to God's grace and goodness. This should be the 
special groundwork of our prayers. The Lord doth all ' to the praise 
of his glorious grace,' Eph. i. 7 ; and he will not have that glory in 
fringed, either in part or in whole. The Spirit of God is very tender 
of it in scripture, and we should be very tender of it in our addresses 
to God, that all conceits of our own worth be laid aside, and that we 
wholly fly to God's goodness and mercy. The whole work of sanctifi- 
cation, from its first step to its last period, is all of grace, all must be 
ascribed to God's free goodness. 

[6.] The will of God revealed in scripture is a subject that is never 
perfectly known. While we are in the way to glory there is always 
some new thing to be learned of it and from it, even by those that 
are the greatest proficients in the knowledge of it ; and therefore we 
must be still scholars in this school, and when we have learned never 
so much we must still be learning more. This is continued, lasting 
work, for David is ever and anon at his old request, ' Lord, teach me 
thy statutes ;' and not without reason, since it is not sufficient to know 
God's will in some few great and weighty actions of our lives, but in 
all, whether of greater or lesser concernments. And when we know 
generals, yet we are so apt to err in particular cases, and since the com 
mandment of God is so exceeding broad, Ps. cxix. 96. Every day we 
may see more into it, and may be more fully informed of the mind of 
God. We every day see more in a promise than we did before, in a 
precept than we did before ; therefore the apostle saith, 1 Cor. viii. 2, 
' And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing 
yet as he ought to know.' 

Use. Here is a pattern and precedent for us ; especially now w& 
have engaged our souls to God, let us seek this directive grace. It 
implieth pardon, and that maketh way for joy and comfort ; for God 
teacheth pardoned sinners. A sure light and direction prevents many 
troubles of spirit and anxious doubts. It is a pledge and assurance of 
our getting home to God ; those whom God guideth are sure to be- 
safe in the issue. 

1. It showeth what should be the matter of our prayers. David 
beggeth not to increase him in riches and honours, nor to flow in 
temporal delights. No ; if God would show himself a good God to 
him, he desire th it may be in giving him the spirit of understanding, 
and some increase of holiness ; this he would take as the principal 
sign of God's favour and grace to him. The world generally imploreth 
God's goodness to another end; they think they are dealt liberally 
with when every man hath his lust satisfied : they pray from the 
intemperateness of the flesh ; but David professeth it was enough to 
him if he might find God answering him in that one thing which 
most others neglect and pass by in their prayers, or, if they mention 
it, it is for fashion's sake, and to comport with the usual way of pray 
ing. But because 'there is great deceit, and we often pray for what 
we have no mind to have granted, let us see if this be our temper. 

[1.] We must discover it in our thanksgiving and blessing God for 
this gift, though he denieth us other which make a fair show in the 
world : Mat. xi. 25-27, ' At that time Jesus answered and said,' I 
thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast 

VER. 68.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 249 

hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to 
babes : even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight. All things 
are delivered to me of my Father ; and no man knoweth the Son but 
the Father ; neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and 
he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.' Christ showeth that the 
mystery of grace is at God's disposing, who manifests it as he seeth 
good ; that if he hath cut us short in other things, and been liberal to 
us in this, we should not only be contented, but highly thankful ; and 
how contemptible soever we be in the world, yet it is matter of praise 
and thanksgiving in that God hath bestowed his grace and love to us 
according to his will and pleasure. 

[2.] By our patience ana contentedness in the want and loss of other 
things for this thing's sake ; want, if God's providence be so ; loss, if 
occasioned by our adherence to truth. Want : we have no reason to 
envy carnal men : Ps. xvii. 14, 15, ' From men which are thy hand, 
Lord, frcm men of the world, which have their portion in this life, 
and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure : they are full of 
children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes. But as 
for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness ; I shall be satisfied 
when I awake with thy likeness.' We have no reason to repine ; our 
present condition of entertaining communion with God in a practice 
of holiness countervaileth all their happiness, especially our future 
hopes to increase in knowledge and abound in the work of the Lord ; 
and to own and stand up for a hated and despised truth will bring 
more comfort to our souls than all the pleasure the wicked have in 
their sensual delights. Are they the happy men that go on in opposi 
tion against the ways of God ? Prov. iii. 31-33, ' Envy thou not the 
oppressor, and choose none of his ways : for the froward is an abomi 
nation to the Lord, but his secret is with the righteous. The curse of 
the Lord is in the house of the wicked, but he blesseth the habitation 
of the just.' They are not happier than the godly ; it is a greater 
happiness to know more of God's mind than anything they enjoy: 
John xv. 15, ' Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant 
knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I call you friends; for all 
things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto 

[3.] By our constancy in prayer, and earnest supplication to know 
more of the mind of God. They will not be put off with other things. 
God gave the Spirit to the rest of the apostles, but he gave the purse 
to the son of perdition. Men may have a fit of devotion in their 
prayers, but their general course is not answerable : Mat. vi. 33, ' First 
seek the kingdom of God.' If we seek it in good earnest we shall 
show it in our conversation and demeanour : Prov. iv. 7, ' Wisdom is 
the principal thing, therefore get wisdom ; and with all thy getting 
get understanding.' This must be the chiefest thing that beareth 
sway in our endeavours, that we may know more of God's mind in 
following our suits incessantly, we must not be put off; though God 
giveth other things, you must not cpase your importunity. Lord, I 
expect something else from thy goodness; see Ps. cxix. 132, 133, 
' Look upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do to them 
that fear thy name. Order my steps in thy word, and let no iniquity 


have dominion over me ;' and Ps. xxvii. 7, ' Hear me, God. when I 
cry with my voice ; have mercy upon me, and answer me ;' if we do 
not suffer this desire to languish and die, but still it he recommended 
to God daily. My business is rightly to understand and perfectly to 
do thy will ; this is my one and great request-, which I will ever and 
ever urge. I cannot give over this prayer till thou beest all in all, 
and showest me the utmost of thy bounty. We desire many things, 
but we are soon put out of the humour ; as children, that seem pas 
sionately and pettishly to desire a thing, but by presenting other things 
to them they are diverted and stilled ; but it is not so with God's 
people. As Naomi said of Boaz, Euth iii. 18, ' For the man will not 
be in rest until he have finished the thing this day ;' so a child of God 
will not be satisfied till his desire be in some measure accomplished. 

2. In what manner we should pray. 

[1.] With earnestness. Slight prayers bespeak their own denial: 
Prov. ii. 1-5, ' My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my 
commandments with thee ; so that thou incline thine ear to wisdom, 
and apply thine heart to understanding ; yea, if thou criest after know 
ledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding ; if thou seekest her 
as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures ; then shatt thou 
understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.' 

[2.] With confidence : he is wont to do it for you. Ask nothing 
contrary to his nature. We should come with a confidence of speed 
ing ; there is in him a propensity and inclination to help us. WTiat 
would ye do to a hunger-bitten child if he cometh to you for a knife 
or an apple ? You would deny him them, but not meat to satisfy his 
hunger. If for bread to play with, or meat when he hath enough, 
you would deny him, not gratify his fancy : if he come to be taught 
his book, you would readily hear him. So when we come not for 
temporal things, but spiritual comforts, when spiritual comforts are not 
asked out of course, and for form's sake, yea, not only for comforts, 
but necessary grace to do his will, surely it cannot be that he should 
cast off them that love him, and would fain be conformed to his will, 
that come humbly, and long, and pray, and seek for his grace. 

[3.] That this confidence must be evangelical. He sets before his 
eyes God's goodness, or readiness to be gracious to all that call upon 
him ; so that all the hope we have to prevail should not be taken from 
anything in us, but something in God himself. We must expect 
.and ask blessings from God, for God, and because of God's sake. It 
is not for any good we deserve, or have done, or can do, that God 
taketh care of his weak foolish children, but for the glory of his name, 
his grace and constant goodness. God is our fountain, our reasons 
are his goodness, our end his glory. This is the true way of address 
ing ourselves to God, deprecating sins for which he may harden us, 
and remembering his mercies on which we ground our hope. So doth 
David : Ps. xxv. 5, 6, ' Lead me in thy truth, teach me ; for thou art 
the God of my salvation ; on thee do I wait all the day. Kemember, 
Lord, thy loving-kindnesses and thy mercies ; for they have been 
ever of old.' His eternal love is assigned as the cause of all : Ps. 
xxiii. 3, ' He leadeth us in paths of righteousness, for his name's 

i * o * 


VER. 71.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 251 

3. "What should be the grounds and impelling principle of prayer. 

[1.] A strong bent to please God, and that all your affections and 
actions may be ordered so as to be acceptable in his sight. Those 
that stand in awe of God are loath to offend him ; they may expect 
direction and light in all difficult cases : Ps. xxv. 12, ' What man is 
he that feareth the Lord ? him shall he teach in the way that he shall 
choose ;' ver. 14, ' The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, 
and he will show them his covenant.' 

[2.] A desire to enjoy him ; for these things are valuable as they 
lead us to God. Our solid joy lieth not in outward things, but in our 
communion with God : Ps. cxxxix. 24, ' Lead me in the way everlast 
ing ;' and Ps. Ixxiii. 24, ' Thou shalt guide me by thy counsel, and 
afterward receive me to thy glory.' Their business is to be happy 
hereafter, and well guided here, that they may attain that happiness. 
Now there is an inseparable connection between our walking in the 
time of this life, and receiving into heaven after this life ; and he that 
is resolved to walk by the rule of God's direction, may promise himself 
to be received into glory after his journey is ended. So Ps. xliii. 3, 
' Send out thy light and thy truth to lead me to thy holy hill.' They 
would fain take the nearest way to heaven, and follow God's counsel 
in all things. We have his word continually to guide us in this way, 
but we need also the assistance of his Spirit. The promised rest is 
much in their eye, and doth mightily prevail with him : they would 
have God to be their guide here, that he may be their rest hereafter. 


It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn 
thy statutes. VER, 71. 

THE context speaketh of afflictions by occasion of persecutions. The 
proud had forged a lie against him, and involved him in many troubles, 
when in the meantime ' their heart was as fat as grease.' They wal 
lowed in ease and pleasure, but David kept right with God ; and yet 
his afflictions do not cease. God doth not presently take away oppo 
sition, because of our proud, unhumbled, unniortified spirits, though we 
hold fast our integrity for the main : therefore he comforteth himself 
in his spiritual protection under the affliction, though the affliction was 
not removed : ' It is good,' &c. 
In the words there is 

1. An assertion, it is good for me that I have been afflicted. 

2. The reason, that I might learn thy statutes. Or, here is a 
general truth explained by a particular instance. In the general, he 
saith it is good, and then what good he got by it. 

Doct. That affliction, all things considered, is rather good than evil. 

The assertion is a paradox to vulgar sense and the ears of the com 
mon sort of men. How few are there in the world that will grant that 
it is good to be afflicted ! Yea, the children of God can scarcely sub 
scribe to the truth of it till the affliction be over. While they are 


under it they feel the smart, but do not presently discern the benefit ; 
but in the review they find God hath ordered it with much wisdom 
and faithfulness ; and in the issue they say, as David doth, ' It is good 
for me that I have been afflicted.' Carnal sense is not easily per 
suaded, but the new nature prevaileth at length, and then they readily 
subscribe to the truth of it. 

The word is clear on this point : Job v. 17, ' Behold, happy is the 
man whom the Lord correcteth.' The first word, behold, summoneth 
our attention and observation. What is the matter ? As those that 
are before Joseph cried, Abreck, ' bow the knee/ Gen. xli. 43, to show 
some eminent person was at hand, so this behold calleth for reverence 
and admiration ; there is some strange truth to ensue and follow. 
Happiness in the lowest notion, it includeth a freedom from misery ; 
and yet the scripture pronounces the man happy whom the Lord cor 
recteth. There have been among the heathens many opinions about 
happiness. Two hundred and eighty-eight Austin reckoneth up ; but 
none ever placed it in correction, in sickness, disgrace, exile, captivity, 
loss of friends, much less in God's correction, who is our supreme 
judge, to whom we ultimately appeal when others wrong us. And yet 
the corrected man, and the man corrected by the Lord, is happy, 
though not with a consummate happiness ; he hath not the happiness 
of his country, but he hath the happiness of the way. The man is 
kept by the way, that he may come to his country. His afflictions 
take nothing from him but his sin. Therefore his solid happiness 
remaineth not infringed, rather the more secured. So Ps. xciv. 12, 
' Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, Lord, and teachest out 
of thy law.' To be chastened of God for what we have done amiss, 
and by that means to be reduced to the sense and practice of our duty, 
is one of the greatest blessings on this side heaven that can light upon 
us. It is an evidence of God's tender care over us, and that he will 
not lose us, and suffer us to perish with the unbelieving and sinful 

The truth lieth clearly in the scripture ; but to reconcile it with our 

1. I shall show by what measure we are to determine good and evil. 

2. Prove that affliction is good. 
First, For the measure. 

1. This good is not to be determined by our fancies and conceits, 
but by the wisdom of God ; for God knoweth better what is good for 
us than we do for ourselves, and foreseeth all things by one infinite 
act of understanding, but we judge according to present appearance; 
therefore all is to be left to God's disposal, and his divine choice is 
to be preferred before our foolish fancies, and what he sendeth and 
permitteth to fall out is fitter for us than anything else. Could we 
once assuredly be persuaded of this, a Christian would be completely 
fortified, and fitted not only for a patient but a cheerful entertainment 
of all that is or shall come upon him. Besides, he is a God of bowels, 
and loveth us dearly, better than we do ourselves ; and therefore we 
should^ be satisfied with his dispensations whatever they are, whether 
according to or against our will. The shepherd must choose the 
pastures for the sheep, whether lean or fat, bare or full grown ; the 

VER. 71.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 253 

child is not to be governed by his own fancy, but the father's discre 
tion ; nor the sick man by his own appetite, but the physician's skill. 
It is expedient sometimes that God should make his people sad and 
displease them for their advantage : John xvi. 6, 7, ' Because I have 
said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your hearts : nevertheless 
I tell you the truth, it is expedient for you that I go away.' We are 
too much addicted to our own conceits : Christ's dealing is expedient 
and useful when yet it is very unsatisfactory to us : he is to be judge of 
what is good for us, his going or tarrying, not we ourselves, who are 
short-sighted and distempered with passions, whose requests many 
times are but ravings, and ask of God we know not what, as the two 
brethren, Mat. xx. 22, and seek our bane as a blessing, as children 
would play with a knife that would cut and wound them, pray our 
selves into a mischief and a snare. It were the greatest misery if God 
should carve out our condition according to our own fancy and desires. 
Peter said, Mat. xvii. 4, ' Master, it is good for us to be here ; ' he was 
well pleased to be upon Mount Tabor, but little thought what service 
God had to do for him elsewhere, how much poor souls needed him 
and the other apostles' help. We would always be in the mount with 
God, enjoy our comforts to the full, even to surfeit ; but God knows 
that is not good for us. His pleasure should satisfy us though we do 
not see the reason of it. So Jer. xxiv. 5, God speaketh of the basket 
of good figs (whereby were represented the best of the people) whom 
I have sent into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. What can 
there be seemingly more contrary to their good than a hard and an 
afflicted lot out of their own country ? Yet God, that foresaw all 
things, knew it was for their good ; worse evils would befall the place 
where they had been. So to be kept under, to have no service for the 
present, no hopes to rise again for the future, and to be laden with all 
manner of prejudices and reproaches, this is for good. We think not 
so, but God knoweth it is so, most for his glory and our benefit. So 
the selling of Joseph into Egypt, Gen. 1. 20, ' God meant it to good/ 
Alas ! what good to have the poor young man sold as a slave, to be 
cast into prison for his chastity and continency, and exposed to all 
manner of difficulties 1 But alas 1 many had perished if he had not 
been sent thither. So God taketh away many beloved comforts from 
us ; he meaneth it for good. We think it is all against us ; no, it is 
for us. So Ps. xxxiv. 10, ' They that seek the Lord shall not want 
any good thing.' Many times they want food and raiment, want 
liberty, at least in some degree ; they may want many things that are 
comfortable ; though they have things sparingly, though they have of 
the meanest, yet they have that which is good for them. So Ps. Ixxxiv. 
11, ' No good thing will he withhold.' He may keep us low and bare, 
feed us cibo exteinporali, as Lactantius ; but that is good for us. If it 
were good for us to have larger revenues and incomes, we should not 
want them. The true and absolute ground of all submission is to 
think that which God sendeth is good, be it prosperity or adversity, 
the having or wanting children, or other comforts. 

2. The next measure is this, that good is to be determined by its 
respect to the chief good or true happiness. Now, what is our chief hap 
piness but the enjoyment of God ? Our happiness doth not consist in 


outward comforts, riches, health, honour, civil liberty, or comfortable 
relations, as husband, wife, children ; but in our relation to and ac 
ceptance with God. Other things are but additional appendages to 
our happiness, Mat. vi. 33. Affliction taketh nothing from our essen 
tial solid happiness, rather helpeth us in the enjoyment of it, as it 
increaseth grace and holiness, and so we enjoy God more surely. 
That is good that sets us nearer to God, and that is evil which sepa- 
rateth us from him ; therefore sin is evil, because it maketh an 
estrangement between us and God, Isa. lix. 2 ; but affliction is good, 
because many times it maketh us the more earnestly to seek after him : 
Hosea v. 15, ' In their afflictions they will seek me right early.' There 
fore every condition is good or evil as it sets farther off or draws us 
nearer to God ; that is good that tendeth to make us better, more like 
unto God, capable of communion with him, conduceth to our everlast 
ing happiness. So ' It is good that a man bear the yoke from his- 
youth/ Lam. iii. 27, that he be trained up under the cross, in a con 
stant obedience to God and subjection to him, and so be fitted to 
entertain communion with him. If afflictions conduce to this end, 
they are good, for then they help us to enjoy the chief good. 

3. That good is not always the good of the flesh, or the good of outward 
prosperity ; and therefore the good of our condition is not to be deter 
mined by the interest of the flesh, but the welfare of our souls. If 
God should bestow upon us so much of the good of the outward and 
animal life as we desire, we could not be said to be in a good condi 
tion if he should deny us good spiritual. We should lose one half of 
the blessings of the covenant by doting upon and falling in love with 
the rest : the flesh is importunate to be pleased, but God will not 
serve our carnal turns. We are more concerned as a soul than a 
body : Heb. xii. 10, ' He verily for our profit, that we may be partakers 
of his holiness.' Certain it is God will chasten us for our profit. 
What do we call profit? The good things of this world, the great 
mammon which so many worship ? If we call it so, God will not ; he 
meaneth to impart to us spiritual and divine benefit, which is a par 
ticipation of his own holiness. And truly the people of God, if they 
be in their right temper, value themselves not by their outward enjoy 
ments, but their inward, by their improvement of grace, not the 
enjoyment of worldly comforts: 2 Cor. iv. 16, Tor this cause we faint 
not, but though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed 
day by day.' A discerning Christian puts more value upon holiness 
wrought by affliction than upon all his comforts. So that though 
affliction be evil in itself, it is good as sanctified. 

4. A particular good must give way to a general good, and our 
personal benefit to the advancement of Christ's kingdom. The good 
of the church must be preferred before our personal contentment. 
Paul could want the glory of heaven for a while, if his continuance in 
the flesh were needful for the saints : Phil. i. 24, ' To abide in the 
flesh is more needful for you.' We must not so desire good to our 
selves as to hinder the good of others. All elements will act contrary 
to their particular, for the conservation of the universe. That may 
be good for the glory of God which is not good for our personal con 
tentment and ease. Now the glory of God is our greatest interest ; if 


it be for the glory of God that I should be in pain, bereft of my com 
forts, my sanctified subjection to the will of God must say it is good. 
John xii. 27, 28, there you have expressed the innocent inclination of 
Christ's human nature, ' Father, save me from this hour ; ' and the 
overruling sense of his duty, or the obligation of his office, * But for 
this cause came I to this hour/ We are often tossed and tumbled 
between inclination of nature and conscience of duty ; but in a gracious 
heart the sense of our duty and the desire of glorifying God should 
prevail above the desire of our own comfort, ease, safety, and welfare. 
Nature would be rid of trouble, but grace submits all our interests 
to God's honour, which should be dearer to us than anything else. 

5. This good is not to be determined by present feeling, but by the 
judgment of faith. Affliction for the present is not pleasant to natural 
sense, nor for the present is the fruit evident to spiritual sense, but it 
is good because in the issue it turneth to good : Rom. viii. 28, ' All 
things work together for good/ While God is striking we feel the 
grief, and the cross is tedious, but when we see the end, we acknow 
ledge it is good to be afflicted: Heb. xii. 11, 'No affliction for the 
present seemeth joyous, but grievous ; but afterwards it yieldeth the 
peaceable fruits of righteousness.' A good present is the cause of joy, 
and an evil present is the cause of sorrow ; but there are two terms of 
abatement : the sorrow is from the present sense, and the conceit of 
the sufferer. When we are but newly under the affliction, we feel the 
smart, but do not presently find the benefit ; but within a while, 
especially in the review, it is good for me ; it is matter of faith under 
the affliction, it is matter of sense after it. Good physic must have 
time to work. That which is not good may be good ; though it be not 
good in its nature, it is good in its seasonable use, and though for the 
present we see it not, we shall see it. Therefore good is not to be 
determined by feeling, but by faith. The rod is a sore thing for the 
present, but the bitter root will yield sweet fruit. If we come to a 
person under the cross, and ask him, What I is it good to feel the 
lashes of God's correcting hand, to be kept poor and sickly, exercised 
with losses and reproaches, to part with friends and relations, to lose 
a beloved child ? sense will complain. But this poor creature, after 
he hath been exercised and mortified, and gotten some renewed 
evidences of God's favour, ask him then is it good to be afflicted ? Oh, 
yes ! 1 had else been vain, neglectful of God, wanted such an experience 
of the Lord's grace. Faith should determine the case when we feel 
it not. 

Secondly, That according to these measures you will find it good to 
be afflicted. 

1. It is good as it is minus malum, it keepeth us from greater evils. 
Afflictions to the righteous are either cures of or preservatives from 
spiritual evils, which would occasion greater troubles and crosses. 
They prevent sin : 2 Cor. xii. 7, ' And lest I should be exalted above 
measure through the abundance of revelation, there was given me a 
thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should 
be exalted above measure.' They purge out sin : Isa. xxvii. 9, ' By 
this shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged out.' We are apt to abuse 
prosperity to self-confidence : Ps. xxx. 6, 7, 'In my prosperity I said, 


I shall never be moved. Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my 
mountain to stand strong.' And luxury: Deut. xxxii. 15, 'But 
Jeshurun waxed fat and kicked ; thou art waxen fat, thou art grown 
thick, thou art covered with fatness ; then he forsook God that made 
him, and lightly esteemed the rock of his salvation/ The godly have 
evil natures as well as others, which cannot be beaten down but by 
afflictions. We are froward in our relations. Hagar was proud in 
Abraham's house, Gen. xvi. 4, her mistress was despised in her eyes ; 
but very humble in the desert, Gen. xxi. 16. David's heart was tender 
and smote him when he cut off the lap of Saul's garment, 1 Sam. xxiv. 5 ; 
but how stupid and senseless was he when he lived at ease in Jeru 
salem ! 2 Sam. xii. His conscience was benumbed till Nathan roused 
him. Before we are chastened we are rebellious, frail, fickle, mutable, 
apt to degenerate without this continual discipline : we are very negli 
gent and drowsy till the rod awakeneth us. God's children have 
strange failings and negligences, and sometimes are guilty of more 
heinous sins. It is a great curse for a man -to be left to his own ways : 
Hosea iv. 17, ' Let him alone ; ' so Ps. Ixxxi. 12, ' I gave them up to 
their own hearts' lust/ Men must needs perish when left to them 
selves, without this wholesome, profitable discipline of the cross. 

2. It is good, because the evil in it is counterpoised by a more 
abundant good. It is evil as it doth deprive us of our natural comforts, 
pleasure, gain, honour ; but it is good as these may be recompensed 
with better pleasures, richer gain, and greater honour. There is more 
pleasure in holiness than there can be pain and trouble in affliction : 
Heb. xii. 11, ' No affliction for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous, 
but afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness/ More 
gain than affliction can bring loss : Heb. xii. 10, ' But he for our profit, 
that we might be partakers of his holiness/ More honour than afflic 
tion can bring shame, surely then it is good. There is a threefold 
profit we get by affliction : 

[1.] The time of affliction is a serious thinking time : Eccles. vii. 14, 
' In the day of adversity consider ; ' 1 Kings viii. 47, ' Yet if they 
bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captive/ We 
have more liberty to retire into ourselves, being freed from the attractive 
allurements of worldly vanities and the delights of the flesh. Adversity 
maketh men serious ; the prodigal came to himself when he began to 
be in want, Luke xv. 17. Sad objects make a deep impression upon 
our souls ; they help us to consider our own ways and God's righteous 
dealings, that we may behave ourselves wisely and suitably to the 
dispensation : Micah vi. 9, ' The man of wisdom will hear the rod/ 

[2.] It is a special hearing time ; in the text, ' That I might learn 
thy statutes ; ' and it is said of Christ, Heb. v. 8, that ' He learned 
obedience from the things that he suffered ; ' he did experimentally 
understand what obedience was in hard and difficult cases, and so 
could the better pity poor sinners in affliction : we have an experi 
mental knowledge of that of which we had but a notional knowledge 
before. We come by experience to see how false and changeable the 
world is, how comfortable an interest in God is, what a burden sin is, 
what sweetness there is in the promises, what a reality in the word. 
Luther said, Qui tribulantur, &c. The afflicted see more in the scrip- 

VER. 71.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 257 

ture than others do ; the secure and fortunate read them as they do 
Ovid's verses. Certainly when the soul is humble, and when we are 
refined and raised above the degrees of sense, we are more tractable 
and teachable, our understandings are clearer, our affections more 
melting. Our spiritual learning is a blessing that cannot be valued. 
If God write his law upon our hearts by his stripes on our backs, so 
light a trouble should not be grudged at 

[3.] It is an awakening, quickening time. 

(1.) Some are awakened out of the sleep of death, and are first 
wrought upon by afflictions. This is one powerful means to bring in 
souls to God, and to open their ears to discipline. . God began with 
them in their afflictions, and the time of their sorrows was the time of 
loves. The hot furnace is Christ's workhouse, the most excellent 
vessels of honour and praise have been formed there : Isa. xlviii. 10, 
' I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.' Manasses, Paul, the 
jailer, were all chosen in the fire ; God puts them into the furnace, 
and chooseth them there, melts them, and stamps them with the 
image of Christ. The hog's trough was a good school to the prodigal. 
Well, then, doth God do you any harm by affliction when he saves 
you by it? If we use violence to a man that is ready to be drowned, 
and in pulling him out of the waters should break an arm or a leg, 
would he not be thankful ? If you have broken my arm, you have 
saved my life. So God's children : It is good that I had such an afflic 
tion, felt the sharpness of such a cross. Oh, blessed providence ! I had 
been a witless fool, and gone on still in a course of sin and vanity, if 
God had not awakened me. 

(2.) It quickeneth others to be more careful of their duty, more 
watchful against sin, and doth exercise and improve us in heavenly 
virtues and graces of spirit, which lay dormant in us through neglect, 
since pleasing objects, which deaden the heart, are removed. Even 
God's best children, when they have gotten a carnal pillow under their 
heads, are apt to sleep ; their prayers are dead ; thoughts of heaven 
cold, or none ; little zeal for God or delight in him : Isa. xxvi. 16, 
' Lord, in trouble they have visited thee ; they pour out a prayer when 
thy chastening is upon them ; ' Hosea v. 15, ' In their afflictions they 
will seek me early/ Because they do not stir up themselves, God 
stirreth them up by a smart rod. The husbandman pruneth the vine, 
lest it run out into leaves ; the baits of the flesh must be taken from 
us, that our gust and relish of heavenly things may be recovered. 

Use 1. The use is to caution us against our murmurings and taxing 
of God's providence. How few are there that give him thanks for his 
seasonable discipline, and observe God's faithfulness and the benefit 
they have by afflictions, but rather murmur, repine, and fret through 
impatience ! If it be good to be afflicted, let us accept of it, for good 
is matter of choice : Lev. xxvi. 41, 'If their uncircumcised hearts be 
humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity.' 
Now all affliction on this side hell is good, as it is a lesser evil ; hie 
we, hie seca, if God will cut here, burn here, lance here, as a chirur- 
geon, that we may not be destroyed for ever ; corrected, that we may 
not be condemned, 1 Cor. xi. 32. It is good, as it is a means to good ; 
for the end putteth a loveliness also upon the means, though things in 



themselves be harsh and sour. We must not consider what things are 
in themselves, but what they are in their reduction, tendency, and final 
use. So all things are yours, crosses, deaths, 1 Cor. iii. 18 ; all their 
crosses, yea, sometimes their sins and snares, by God's overruling. 
We lose the benefit of our affliction by our murmurings, repinings, 
faintings, carnal sorrows and fears ; an impatient distrustful mind 
spoileth the working of God : ' Tribulation worketh patience, and 
patience experience.' It is not the bare affliction worketh, but the 
affliction meekly borne. Let us not misconstrue God's present way of 
dealing with us. There may be a seeming harshness in some of his 
dealings, but yet, all things considered, you will find them full of 
mercy and truth. Murmuring is a disorder in the affections, misin 
terpreting in the understanding, to prevent it. 

1. Consider you must not interpret the covenant by God's provi 
dence, but God's providence by his covenant. Certain it is that all 
new covenant dispensations are mercy and truth, Ps. xxv. 10, our 
crosses not excepted ; by them God is pursuing his covenant and 
eternal purpose concerning our salvation. There is sometimes a 
seeming contradiction between his promises and his providences, word 
and works ; his voice is sweet like Jacob's, but his hand rough like 
Esau's. Go unto the sanctuary, and God will help you to reconcile 
things, Ps. Ixxiii. 16, 17 ; otherwise the difficulty will be too hard for 
you. The children of God, that have suspected or displeased him, have 
always found themselves in error, Isa. xlix. 14, 15. His promise is 
the light side, his providence the dark side of the cloud : Ps. Ixxvii. 19, 
' Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the deep waters, and thy foot<- 
steps are not known.' We cannot trace him, nor find out the reason 
of everything that God doeth ; only, in the general, that ' he doeth all 
things well,' Mark vii. 37 ; nay, what is best. 

2. We must distinguish between a part of God's work and the end 
of it. We cannot understand God's providence till he hath done his 
work. He is an impatient spectator that cannot tarry till the last act, 
wherein all errors are reconciled : John xiii. 7, ' What I do thou 
knowest not now, but hereafter thou shalt know.' No wonder if we 
are much in the dark, if we look only to present sense and present 
appearance. Then his purposes are hidden from us ; he bringeth one 
contrary out of another, light out of darkness, meat out of the eater. 
God knoweth what he is a-doing with you, when you know not : 
Jer. xxix. 11, ' I know my thoughts, to give you an expected end.' 
When we view providences by pieces, we know not God's mind ; for 
the present we see him (it may be) rending and tearing all things ; 
therefore let us not judge of God's work by the beginnings, till all 
work together. Our present state may be very sad and uncomfortable, 
and yet God is designing the choicest mercies to us : Ps. xxxi. 22, ' 1 
said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes ; nevertheless thou 
heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee;' P'. 
cxvi. 11, ' I said in my haste, All men are liars.' Haste never speaketh 
well of God nor his promises, nor maketh any good comment upon his 

3. We must distinguish between that which is really best for us, and 
what we judge best for us : Deut. viii. 15, 16, ' Who led thee through 

VER. 71.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 259 

that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents and scor 
pions and drought, where there was no water ; who brought thee out 
water out of the rock of flint ; who fed thee in the wilderness with 
manna, which thy fathers knew not ; that he might humble thee, and 
that he might prove thee, to do thee good at the latter end.' Other 
diet is more wholesome for our souls than that which our sick appetite 
craveth. It is best with us many times when we are weakest : 2 Cor. 
xii. 10, ' When I am weak, then am 1 strong.' Worst when strongest : 
2 Chron. xxvi. 16, ' When he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his 
own destruction.' Lot chose Sodom, a fair and pleasant situation, but 
you know what inconveniences he met with there. Many times the 
buffetings of Satan are better for us than a condition free from 
temptation; so is poverty, emptiness, better than fulness, loss of 
friends than enjoyment of them. 
Use 2. For information. 

1. By what note we may know whether God chastens us in anger, 
yea or nay ; whether our crosses be curses. The cross that maketh 
thee better cometh with a blessing. It is not the sharpness of the 
affliction we should look to, but the improvement of it. The bitter 
waters may be made sweet by experiences of grace ; if we are made 
more godly, wise, religious, it is a good cross ; but if it leave us as 
careless and stupid, or no better than we were before, that cross is but 
a preparation to another ; if it hath only stirred up our impatience, 
done us no good, God will follow his stroke, and heat his furnace hotter. 

2. It informeth us that it is our duty not only to be good in afflic 
tions, but we must be good after afflictions. David, when escaped, 
saith, ' It is good for me that I have been afflicted.' Wicked men are 
somewhat good in afflictions, but as soon as they are delivered they 
return to their old sins ; as metals are melted while they are in the 
furnace, but when they are taken out, they return to their natural 
hardness ; but the godly are better afterwards. 

3. That every condition is as the heart is. Afflictions are good if 
we have the grace to make a good use of them. Look, as the good 
blessings of God by our corruption are abused to wantonness, and so 
made hurtful to us, so crosses, that are evil in themselves, when sanc 
tified are good. All things are sanctified to us when we are sancti 
fied to God. Other things that would be snares prove helps and 
encouragements, are great furtherances. The creature is another 
thing to the saints ; if they are advanced, their hearts are enlarged to 
God ; if afflicted, they grow more humble, watchful, serious. All things 
work together for the worst to the wicked. If God make Saul a king, 
Judas an apostle, Balaam a prophet, their preferment shall be their 
ruin. Hainan's honour, Ahithophel's wit, and Herod's applause turned 
to their hurt if in prosperity, they contemn God; if in adversity, 
deny and blaspheme him : Prov. i. 32, ' For the turning away of the 
simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them.' 
As the salt sea turneth all into salt water, so a man is in the constitu 
tion of his soul ; all things are converted to that use. 

Use 3. To persuade us to make this acknowledgment, that affliction 
is good. There needs many graces before we can thus determine. 
1. Faith. It is not present, but it must be believed, hoped, and 


waited for. It is not fit all should be done in a day, and as early as 
we would ; in the Lord's time the fruit will appear. The word doth 
not work by and by, so not the rod. Faith can see good in that in 
which sense only can find smart : Phil. i. 19, ' I know this shall turn to 
my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the spirit of Jesus 
Christ ; ' and ' We know that all things shall work together for good,' 
Eorn. viii. 28. Though it doth not appear, yet we know. 

2. Love. The children of God, out of their love to God and present 
submission to God, do count whatsoever he doth to be good : Ps. Ixxiii. 
1, ' Yet God is good to Israel.' Though he seemeth to deal with his 
people hardly, yet love pronounceth the dispensation to be good ; it can 
see a great deal of love in pain, and smart, and chastenings. I have 
read once and again of such a rabbi, that, when told of an affliction, 
would say, This is good, because it cometh from God. 

3. Spiritual wisdom and choice to esteem things according to their 
intrinsic worth. A high value of holiness, profiting in sanctification, 
is more than enough to recompense all the trouble we are put to in 
learning it. This will make us yield to be lessened in our worldly 
comforts for the increase of spiritual grace : as Paul would cheerfully 
part with his health that he might have more experience of Christ : 2 
Cor. xii. 10, ' I will take pleasure in infirmities, necessities, and dis 
tresses, for Christ's sake.' Surely the loss of outward things should 
trouble us the less, and we should be the sooner satisfied in God's dis 
pensation, if he will take away our earthly comforts, and make us more 
mindful of that which is heavenly ; if by an aching head God will give 
you a better heart, by the death of friends promote the life of grace. 

4. Diligence and needfulness (1.) To observe afflictions ; (2.) To 
improve them. 

[1.] To observe what falleth out, from what hand it cometh, to 
what issue it tendeth ; otherwise, if we observe it not, how can we 
acknowledge it, give God the glory of his wisdom and goodness ? In 
heaven, when we shall know as we are known, it will be a great part 
of our lauding of God to look back on his providence conducting us 
through troubles, as it is pleasant for travellers in their inn to discourse 
of the deepness and danger of the ways. And now, when we rather 
are known than know, Gal. iv. 9, it is useful and comfortable to take 
notice of God's dealing with us. Oh, what a deal of wisdom, faithful 
ness, and truth may we see in the conduct of his providence ! Gen. 
xxxii. 10, ' I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies, and of all 
the truth which thou hast showed unto thy servant ; for with my staff 
I passed over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands ; ' Ps. cxix. 
75, ' I know, Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that in faith 
fulness thou hast afflicted me.' What necessity of his chastisement to 
prevent our pride, security, negligence! with what wisdom was our 
cross chosen ! how did God strike in the right vein ! you were run 
ning on apace in some neglect of God till he awakened you. This 
observation will help us to love God, who is vigilant and careful of our 
welfare. It will allay all the hard thoughts that we have of the seem 
ing severity of his dispensations. 

[2.] Diligence to improve it for the bringing about of this good. 
We must not be idle spectators, but active under God ; we must more 

VER. 72.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 261 

stir up ourselves, and exercise ourselves to godliness. T} ie affliction of 
itself is a dead thing ; there must be help : Phil. i. 19, ' For I know this 
shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the 
spirit of Jesus Christ;' 2 Cor. i. 11, 'Ye also helping together by 
prayer for us.' It is not the nature of the cross, nor the power of in 
herent grace, without the actual influence of the Spirit, that makes 
troubles profitable. We must excite ourselves also, for the saints are 
not only passive objects, but active instruments of providence. We 
are not merely to be passive : Heb. xii. 11, ' It yieldeth the pleasant 
fruit of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby.' God exer- 
ciseth us with the rod, and we must exercise ourselves under the rod. 
We are engaged to use all holy means to this end, searching, praying, 
rousing up ourselves, learning our proper lessons ; then we will come 
and make our acknowledgment, ' It is good for me that I have been 


Tlie law of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold ann, 
silver. VER. 72. 

THESE words may be conceived as a reason of what was 'said in the 
foregoing verse. David hath told us there that it was good for him 
that he was afflicted, because of the benefit obtained by his afflictions ; 
he had learned God's statutes, knew more of his duty, and had a heart 
to keep closer to it. Now this gain was more to him than his loss by 
affliction ; for he doth not value his happiness by his temporal inte 
rests so much as by his thriving in godliness. All the wealth in the 
world was not so much to him as the spiritual benefit which he got by 
his sore troubles ; for ' the law of thy mouth/ &c. 

The text is a profession of his respect to the word, a profession which 
containeth in it the very spirit of godliness, a speech that becometh 
only such a man's mouth as David was, one that is sincerely godly. 
Many will be ready to make this profession, but other things do not 
suit ; the profession of their mouths is contradicted by the disposition 
of their hearts, and the course and tenor of their lives. Observe here 
two things : 

1. The things compared. 

2. The value and preference of the one above the other. 

[1.] The things compared. On the one side there is tlie law of 
God's mouth; on the other, thousands of gold and silver. 

[2.] The value and preference of the one above the other, it is better 
to me, it is better in itself. There was reason for his esteem and 
choice. Many will say it is better in itself, but David saith it is better 
to me. Let us explain these circumstances as they are laid. 

[1.] The things compared. 

(1.) On the one side there is ' the law of God's mouth ; ' it is God's 
own word, and we should be as sure of it as if we had heard him 
utter and pronounce it with his own mouth, or had received it irnrnedi- 


ately by oracle from him. And indeed that is one way to raise this 
esteem : 1 Thes. ii. 13, ' Keceiving it not as the word of men, but, as 
it is in truth, the word of God, which worketh effectually in you 
that believe.' In the word we must consider two things the author 
ity of it, and the ministry of it. If we consider the authority of it, so 
it cometh from God's mouth ; if we consider the ministry of it, so it 
cometh by man's mouth, for he speaketh to us by men : 2 Peter i. 21, 
' Holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' If we 
look to the ministry only, and not to the authority, we are in danger to 
slight it ; certainly shall not profit by it. Many do so, as Samuel 
thought Eli called him, when it was the Lord, 1 Sam. iii. 7, 8 ; but 
when we consider who is the author of it, then it calleth for our rever 
ence and regard. 

(2.) On the other side, ' thousands of gold and silver.' Where 
wealth is set out (1.) By the species and kind of it gold and silver ; 
gold for hoarding and portage, silver for present commerce. (2.) The 
quantity, ' thousands,' that is, thousands of pieces, as that addition is 
used, Ps. Ixviii. 30, ' They shall submit themselves with pieces of 
silver,' or talents, as the Chaldee paraphrase expoundeth it. ' Money 
answereth all things,' Eccles. x. 19. It can command all things in 
the world, as the great instrument of commerce. 

[2.] The value and preference of the one above the other, 'it is 
better/ and it is ' better to me.' It is better in itself, that noteth the 
intrinsic worth of the word ; it is better to me, that implieth his own 
esteem and choice. To say, in the general only, It is better, implieth 
but a speculative approbation, which may be in carnal men: Kom. ii. 
18, ' And approvest the things that are more excellent ; ' but to say, It 
is better to me, implieth a practical esteem, which is proper only to 
the regenerate. It is more dear, precious, and sweet to them than the 
greatest treasure. Could we have such a holy affection to the word, 
and say also, To me, and to me, we should thrive more in a course of 
godliness ; for a man is carried on powerfully by his choice and 
esteem, his actions are governed and determined by it. 

Doct. The word of God is dearer to a gracious heart than all the 
riches in the world. 

Let me bring proofs : Ps. xix. 10, ' More to be desired are they 
than gold, yea, than much fine gold.' So speaking of spiritual wis 
dom, which is only to be had by the word of God, he saith, Prov. iii. 
14, ' That the merchandise thereof is better than the merchandise of 
silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.' So Prov. viii. 11, ' For 
wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things which are to be 
desired are not to be compared with it.' These expressions are fre 
quently used, because the greatest part of mankind are miserably 
bewitched with the desire of riches; but God's children are otherwise 
affected, they have a better treasure. 

Let me prove two things : 

1. That the word of God, and the benefit we get by it, is better 
than thousands of gold and silver. 

2. That the children of God do so esteem it. Both must be proved ; 
the one to show the worth and excellency of the word, the other to 
show the gracious disposition of the hearts of God's children. There 

VER. 72.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 263 

is no question but that if these things were well weighed, the law of 
God's mouth, and thousands of gold and silver, we should find there 
is a great inequality between them ; but all men have not a judgment 
to choose that which is most worthy. Many take glass beads for 
jewels, and prefer toys and trifles before a solid good. Gold and silver 
draw the hearts of all men to them, and their affections blind their 
judgment ; and then, though the weights be equal, if the balances be 
not equal, wrong will be done. We do not weigh things with an 
equal balance, but consider them with a prejudiced mind, and a heart 
biassed and prepossessed with worldly inclinations. 

First, then, for the things themselves ; surely gold and silver, 
which is digged out of the bowels of the earth, is not worthy to be 
compared with the law that cometh out of the mouth of God. If 
you compare the nature, use, and duration of these benefits that you 
have by the one and the other, you will see a vast difference. 

1. The nature. The notion of riches is abundance of valuable 
things. Now there are true riches and counterfeit riches, which have 
but the resemblance and show. The true riches is spoken of Luke 
xvi. 11, and is opposed to that mammon and pelf which the world 
doteth upon. Grace giveth us the true riches and wealth. It is good 
to state what are the true riches and the false. The more abundance 
of truly valuable things a man hath, the more he hath of true riches. 
A child counteth himself rich when he hath a great many pins and 
points and cherry-stones, for those suit his childish age and fancy. A 
worldly man counteth himself rich when he hath gold and silver in 
great store by him, or lands and heritages, or bills and bonds ; but a 
child of God counteth himself rich when he hath God for his portion, 
Christ to his redeemer, and the Spirit for his guide, sanctifier, and 
comforter ; which is as much above a carnal man's estate in the world 
as a carnal man's estate is above a child's toys and trifles, yea, in 
finitely more. Well, then, surely the word of God will make us rich, 
because it revealeth God to be our God, according to our necessity 
and capacity : Ps. xvi. 5, 6, ' The Lord is my portion : I have a 
goodly heritage ;' and it revealeth unsearchable riches of grace in 
Christ, Eph, ii. 1, iii. 8, pardon of sins, and life eternal. They that 
have Christ want nothing, but are completely happy. So for the 
Spirit ; what are all the riches of the world to those treasures of 
knowledge, comfort, and holiness which we have by the Spirit! What 
is in one evangelist, ' He will give his Holy Spirit to them that ask 
him,' Luke xi. 13, is in another, Mat. vii. 11, 'He will give good 
things to them that ask him.' The Spirit is instead of all good things, 
BO that the word is able to enrich a man more than all the wealth of 
the world can. It giveth us abundance, and abundance of better 
tilings ; so that a man is not absolutely poor that wants gold and 
silver, but he that wants the benefits which the word of God offereth 
and conveyeth to us. Gold and silver are but one sort of riches, and 
but the lowest and meanest sort You do not count a man poor if he 
have lands, though he hath not ready-money ; much less is a man 
poor if he hath gold, though he hath not silver. So a Christian is 
not poor if he hath God and Christ and the Spirit, though he say, 
with the apostle Peter, ' Silver and gold have I none,' Acts iii. 6. 


Angels are not poor though they have not flocks and herds and yearly 
revenues ; they have an excellency suitable to their natures. So a 
Christian is not poor while he possesseth him who possesseth all 
things. But that I may not seem only to say that the treasures of 
grace are the true riches, I shall prove it by two arguments : 

[1.] That is the true riches which can buy and purchase all other 
things, but all other things cannot buy and purchase it. Now all the 
riches in the world cannot buy and purchase those benefits which the 
word offereth to us. They cannot purchase the favour of God ; 'For 
what hope hath the hypocrite, if he hath gained, when God comes to 
take away his soul ? ' Job xvii. 8. Many a carnal wretch doth not 
make a saving bargain of it ; but be it so, he looketh for worldly 
gain and hath it. What will this stead him when God puts the bond 
of the old covenant in suit, and demandeth his soul from him ? He is 
loath to resign it, but God will have it : ' What can he give in ex 
change for his soul?' Money cannot purchase the grace of the 
Kedeemer : 1 Peter i. 18, 'Ye are not redeemed with corruptible 
things ;' and Ps. xlix. 6-8, ' The redemption of the soul is precious/ 
Men would, if they could, give a thousand worlds for the pardon of 
their sin, when they come to receive the fruit of it ; but all will not 
do: the wrath of God must be appeased, and the justice of God 
satisfied, by another kind of ransom. They cannot purchase the 
grace of the Spirit. Simon Magus would give money for the gifts of 
the Holy Ghost, but Peter said to him, ' Thy money perish with thee, 
because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased 
with money,' Acts viii. 20. His request was base and carnal ; yet 
thus far it yieldeth a testimony to the truth in hand, that he thought 
the gift of the Holy Ghost better than money, or else he would not 
have offered his money for it ; yea, the lowest and far less necessary 
gift than his sanctifying, guiding, and comforting work. Well, then, 
all other things cannot purchase these benefits. But, on the other side, 
these benefits procure all other things. Grace giveth us an advantage 
in worldly things above others, for certainly ' Man doth not live by 
bread only,' Mat. iv., and his life doth not lie in worldly abundance : 
the natural, much more the sanctified and comfortable, use of the 
creatures dependeth on the favour of God and his fatherly care and 
providence, which is assured to the heirs of promise : Mat. vi. 33, 
' First seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and these 
things shall be added ;' 1 Tim. iv. 8, ' Godliness hath the promise of 
this life and that which is to come ;' Prov. iii. 15, 16, Wealth is not 
to be compared with wisdom ; because ' in her right hand is length 
of days, and in her left hand riches and honour/ A child of God 
that is obedient to the word hath more advantage for the world than 
a wicked man hath : he hath a promise which the other hath not, a 
warrant to cast his care upon God ; he gets more by the want of 
worldly things than a wicked man by the possession of them, for his 
want is sanctified, and worketh for good. 

[2.] The world cannot recompense and supply the want of that 
grace we get by the word, but this can easily supply the want of the 
world. The worth and value of things is known by this, what we 
can least want. Now there is no earthly thing but may be so supplied 


as that its want should be better to us than its enjoyment. Sickness 
may be better to us than health, because of experiences of grace, 2 
Cor. xii. 10. Poverty may be better than wealth, because we may be 
rich in grace, James i. 9 ; so James ii. 5 ; so 1 Tim. vi. 6, ' Godliness 
with contentment is great gain.' Slender provision with a contented 
heart is much better than a great deal more wealth. Godliness can 
supply the room of wealth, but wealth cannot supply the room of 
godliness. If the want of wealth helps us to an increase of grace 
and communion with God, it helpeth us to that which is of higher 
and greater value than the enjoyment of wealth could afford. But 
now, on the other side, the world will not give us a recompense for 
the want of godliness : Mat. xvi. 26, ' What is a man profited if he 
shall gain the world and lose his soul ? ' What shall be given to the 
party for that loss ? His soul is lost, not in a natural sense, but in a 
legal sense, forfeited to God's justice. We may please ourselves in 
our carnal choice for a while, but death bloweth away all our vain 
conceits : Jer. xvii. 11, 'At his latter end he shall be a fool.' He was 
a fool before all his lifetime, but now in the judgment and conviction 
of his own conscience. His conscience shall rave at him, fool, 
madman I to hazard the love of Christ for worldly things. These 
things cannot be recompensed by any other. What poor rewards can 
the world yield you for the loss of Christ and heaven ! Alas ! then, 
you lose your treasure, and have nothing to comfort you but rattles 
and baubles, which will no more comfort us than fine flowers will a 
man going to execution. Thus in the nature of riches. 

2. Let us come to the use and end of these things, the use of the 
law of God's mouth, and the use of wealth. The use of wealth is to 
support and maintain the present life and the bodily state during our 
pilgrimage and passage through the world ; but the use of the word 
is to guide and direct us in the way to the blessedness of the world 
to come. The world supplieth our bodily necessities ; ' But the law 
of God is perfect, converting the soul,' Ps. xix. 7. It discovereth a 
man's soul-misery and remedy, as it directeth to Christ, and enforceth 
our obedience to God, and prescribeth a universal adherence to him 
and dependence on him. Our souls are fallen off from God by sin 
into a most doleful state, and have no other way of recovery than is 
prescribed in this blessed word of God. There are three uses of the 
word of God, and they do all commend and endear it to our re 
spects : 

[1.] It is the great means to sanctify and convey a divine principle 
and nature in us ; it is not only the rule, but the seed of the new life : 
1 Peter i. 23, ' He hath begotten us, not by corruptible, but incor 
ruptible seed,' <fec. ; James i. 18, ' He hath begotten us by the word of 
truth ; ' 2 Peter i. 4, ' To us are given great and precious promises, 
that we might be made partakers of the divine nature ; ' John xvii. 
17, ' Sanctify them through thy truth ; thy word is truth.' All this is 
said of the word: it is the means to sanctify us, the immortal seed, the 
beginning of the new life, the divine nature to make us live after a 
godlike manner ; therefore it is ' better than thousands of gold and 
silver.' A child of God findeth a greater treasure in one chapter of 
the Bible than worldly men in all their lands and honours and large 


revenues. A poor Christian meeteth with more true gain in a sermon 
than others can in their trades while they live. God begetteth him 
at first by the word of truth, and giveth him there the supply of the 
Spirit ; therefore ' be swift to hear,' much in reading, and meditation 
day and night. Oh ! there is the true treasure, the pearl of price ; 
there their souls become acquainted with God. 

[2.] It directeth us and keepeth us from being carried away with 
every deceit of sin : Ps. cxix. 105, ' Thy word is a light unto my path, 
and a lamp unto my feet.' Here are directions for all cases : here is a 
general direction, it is a light to our path ; and showeth us what to do 
in particular actions, it is a lamp to our feet. So ver. 133, ' Order 
my steps in thy word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.' 
It is the word prevents the reign of any one sin. To have a sure rule 
to walk by in the midst of so many snares and temptations is a greater 
favour than to enjoy the greatest affluence of worldly felicity. 

[3.] It supporteth us in all our afflictions and extremities. All the 
wealth in the world composed and put together cannot yield us that 
true contentment and satisfaction which the word of God doth to the 
obedient soul. Wealth cannot allay a grieved mind nor appease a 
wounded conscience. The word directeth us where we may find rest for 
our souls: Jer. vi. 16, 'Go ask for the good old way, and you shall 
find rest for your souls.' We lose ourselves in a maze of uncertainties 
till we come to the word of God : Mat. xi. 28, ' Come unto me, all ye 
that are weary and heavy laden, and ye shall find rest for your souls.' 
Here is ease for the great wound and maim of nature. The great 
maim of nature is sin. Now where shall we have a plaster for this 
sore, but only in the word of God? So for particular afflictions: 
Rom. xv. 4, ' That ye, through the patience and comfort of the scrip 
tures, might have hope.' Comfort is the strengthening of the mind, or 
the fortifying the mind when it is vexed and weakened with doubts, 
fears, arid sorrows : ' I had fainted in my affliction unless thy word 
had quickened me,' Ps. cxix. 50. The comforts of the world appear 
and vanish in a moment, cannot firmly stay and revive the heart ; 
every blast of temptation scattereth them. Philosophy and natural 
reason cannot give us true ground of comfort : that was it they aimed 
at, how to fortify the soul and keep it quiet notwithstanding troubles 
in the flesh ; but as they never understood the true ground of misery, 
which is sin, so neither the true ground of comfort, which is Christ. 
That which man offereth cannot come with such power and authority 
upon the conscience as that which God offereth, and bare reason cannot 
have such an efficacy as divine testimony and the law of God's mouth. 
This moonlight rotteth before it ripeneth fruits ; but the word ac- 
quainteth us with Christ, who is the foundation of comfort ; with the 
Spirit, who is the efficient cause of comfort; with the promise of 
heaven, which is the true matter of comfort; with faith, the great 
instrument to receive it. 

3. Let us look to the duration. There is a vanity and uncertainty 
in all these outward things ; they soon take the wing, and leave us in 
sorrow. If they continue with us till death, then they have done all 
their work. Wealth may bring you to the grave, but it can stead 
you no further ; then wealth is gone, but horror doth continue : Luke 


xvi. 24, ' Son, in thy lifetime thou enjoyedst thy good things.' These 
good things are only commensurate with life. Sometimes they do not 
last so long ; but when we must leave the world, and launch out to 
those unknown regions, Job xxvii. 8, how miserable shall we be ! 
Worldly comforts will fail us when we have most need of them, as 
Jonah's gourd when the sun scorched him. So in the hour of death, 
what will bags of gold do then ? But now, on the other side, wisdom 
is better than gold and silver, because ' with her are durable riches 
and righteousness/ Prov. viii. 18, 19 ; therefore ' my fruit is better 
than gold, yea, than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver/ 
If a man would labour for anything, labour for that which is eternal, 
John vi. 27. No treasure can be compared to eternal life, and this 
the word assureth us of. 

Secondly, Let us now come to examine why the children of God 
value it so. 

1. Because they are enlightened by the Spirit, when others have 
their eyes dazzled with external splendour, and their judgment cor 
rupted by their senses. It is not ignorance undoes the world so much 
as want of spiritual prudence. Spiritual and heavenly things can only 
be seen in the light of the Spirit, without which we can neither discern 
the truth or worth of them in order to choice : 1 Cor. ii. 14, ' The 
natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit ; ' and therefore, till 
we have this illuminating and sanctifying light of the Spirit, we shall 
not make a good choice for ourselves. Eph. i. 17, 18, the apostle 
prayeth, ' That the Lord would give you the spirit of wisdom and re 
velation; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye 
may know what is the hope of his calling, and the riches of the glory 
of his inheritance in the saints/ That saving knowledge of divine 
mysteries which causeth us to prefer and choose them above other 
things comes from the Spirit of wisdom and revelation ; otherwise, in 
seeing we see not. There is a perfect contradiction many times be 
tween speculative and practical knowledge. The common wisdom and 
knowledge of divine mysteries is a gift that cometh from the Spirit, 
much more the spiritual discerning. 

2. They are affected with their true necessities. Our real neces 
sities are the necessities of the soul. Bodily wants are more urging 
and pressing upon us, but these are more dangerous ; therefore gold 
and silver, which supplieth our bodily necessities, is not so welcome 
to them as the law of God's mouth, which provideth a remedy for 
their soul-defects. How to be justified, how sanctified, is more than 
what shall we eat and drink, and wherewith shall we be clothed. 
Usually soul- necessities are overlooked ; we regard them not, or conceit 
we are well already : Rev. iii. 17, ' Thou thoughtest thou wast rich, 
and increased with goods, and hadst need of nothing ; ' and then we 
have no relish for the offered remedy. The word of God is the offered 
remedy to repair our collapsed state. The gospel is not only true, but 
worthy to be embraced, 1 Tim. i. 15 ; but who will embrace it but 
the sensible sinner? for it is offered as a remedy to the sick and 
deliverance to the captive : it is not enough to see the excellency of 
things, but we must see our necessity of them. There are two 
hindrances that prejudice our salvation either the necessity and excel- 


lency of the gospel is not considered, or the truth and reality of it is 
not believed. 

3. They measure all things with respect not to this world but the 
world to come. It is a high point of religion to do all things and re 
gard all things for eternal ends : 2 Cor. iv. 18, ' Looking not to things 
seen, that are temporal, but to the things- which are not seen, which 
are eternal ; ' making this our scope, and doing all to this end. Gold 
and silver are the most valuable things in the world : what cannot 
gold and silver buy in this world ? But there is another world, and 
believers look to things unseen. Within a while it will not be a pin 
to choose whether we have enjoyed much or little of this world's good 
things ; but much will lie upon this, whether we have obeyed God, 
and glorified God, and accepted of Christ. The use of gold and silver 
ceaseth in the world to come : these things are not current in Canaan, 
nor accounted of in our heavenly country ; therefore money should be a 
vile thing instead of grace. We can carry away none of these things 
with us when we die, Eccles. v. 15 ; and surely that which hath no 
power to free us from death, to comfort us in death, or go with us into 
another world after death, is no happiness or solid tranquillity. 

4. They have had trial and experience of the word, what a comfort 
and support it hath been to them : 1 Peter ii. 2, 3, ' As new-born babes 
desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby ; if so 
be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.' There is an appetite 
followeth the new nature, and makes us desire spiritual food : Phil. i. 
9, 10, ' And this I pray, that ye may abound in all knowledge and in 
all judgment, that ye may approve the things that are excellent.' 
When the Spirit giveth us a taste of the goodness of those things 
offered in the word of God, a taste of divine truth in our souls, when 
we find these comforts verified in us, then we come to approve the 
things that are excellent above all other things: Ps. cxix. 11, 'Thy 
word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.' We 
never know the worth of the word till we come to make trial of it by 
practice and experience. The pleasure of the word we find in prac 
tice, and the comfort and support of it in deep afflictions. It is not so 
with the world ; try it, and loathe it ; it is more in fancy than fruition, 
because the imperfections which formerly lay hid are discovered ; but 
the more intimately acquainted with the word of God, the more we 
prize it ; we see there is more to be gained there than in all the world 

Use 1. To reprove and disprove those that prefer gold and silver 
before the word of God. This is done by four sorts : 

1. This is grossly done by those that revolt from the profession of 
the truth for the world's sake : 2 Tim. iv. 10, ' Demas hath forsaken 
us, and embraced the present world ; ' that betray the cause of religion, 
as Judas sold his master for thirty pieces of silver ; or by those who 
will transgress for a small hire. The devil needeth not offer great 
things to them, when they will accept of less with thanks ; for two 
pence or three pence gain will profane the Sabbath or wrong their 
neighbour. Is the law of God's mouth dearer to them than gold and 
silver ? Surely no. They may flatter themselves with love to the 
word, but when they can violate it for a trifle, for a pair of shoes, it is 

VER. 72.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 269 

a sign that a little gain gotten by iniquity of traffic is sweeter to them 
than all the comforts of the promise. 

2. It is done by them that will not forsake anything for the word's 
sake but when they are put upon an apparent trial. Here is gold and 
silver, and there the law of God's mouth ; what will you do ? obey 
God, or comply with your interests ? You show your love by leaving 
the one rather than the other ; as Moses ' counted the reproach of Christ 
better treasure than the riches of Egypt,' Heb. xi. 26. Christ's worst is 
tetter than the world's best. The Thessalonians showed their love 
when they received the word in much affliction ; but when you decline 
duty, and are loath to hazard your interests, it is evident what you pre 
fer. To some this may be a daily temptation : If I should be con- 
scionable in my calling, I should be poor ; keep touch and honesty in 
all things, it would turn to my loss. How many are discouraged from 
the ways of God, and discharging a good conscience, by inconveniency ! 

3. This is also in part done by them who turn back upon the word 
and ordinances of God for gain's sake, and fix their residence there, 
where they can neither enjoy God nor his people, nor the comfort of 
his ordinances ; as merchants who remove for traffic, and settle their 
abode there where the true religion is not professed, it may be, 
suppressed with extreme rigour; especially when they send youth 
thither, and novices and persons not grounded in the faith. This is 
like turning a child loose among a company of contagious persons, or 
setting an empty pitcher to crack before the fire. Commerce and 
traffic with infidels or persons of a false religion is lawful ; but to make 
our constant residence where there is no liberty for reading and hear 
ing the word of God, no liberty of worship and ordinances, cannot be 
excused from sin. You make religion to stoop to gain. I will not 
urge so high and heroical an instance as Moses : Heb. xi. 25, ' Choosing 
rather to suffer afflictions with the people of God, than enjoy the 
pleasures of sin for a season ;' but of a Jew since the time of their 
degeneration. I have once and again read of one Rabbi Joseph, who, 
being allured with the hope and call to a place of great gain, to teach 
Hebrew where there was no synagogue, is said to have brought forth 
this scripture for his answer and excuse, ' The law of thy mouth is 
better to me than thousands of gold and silver.' Let us Christians 
remember it, and consider the pertinency of it 

4. It is more refinedly done by them who by earthly things are drawn 
off from the pursuit of heavenly, and are night and day cumbered with 
much serving, and never take time to refresh their souls with the 
pleasure of the word ; like Martha, cumbered about many things, while 
Mary sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word, Luke x. Felix domus, 
saith Bernard, ubi Martha queritur de Maria it is a happy house 
where Martha complaineth of Mary. But alas ! in most places it is 
otherwise ; religion is encroached upon, all remembrance of God and 
meditation of his word is jostled out of doors by the cares of the world. 

Use 2. To press us to make this profession seriously, heartily. 

1. When we have wealth this profession should be made to draw off 
the heart from it to better things. When our store is increased, our 
hearts are apt to be enchanted with the love of these things : Ps. Ixii. 
10, ' If riches increase, set not your hearts u}x>n them.' Our hearts 


are very apt to be set upon the world ; but we must remember this is 
not the true treasure ; there are other manner of riches that we should 
look after to be rich towards God, lest I be a carnal fool, Luke xii. 
21. Complacency in a worldly portion is a sure sign of a worldly 
heart, more than greedy desire. 

2. When we want wealth we should make this profession to induce 
us to contentment. The good disciples had the Spirit ; to Judas, as 
the bad one, he gave the purse. If you have spiritual wisdom and 
knowledge, you have that which is most excellent : James ii. 5, ' God 
hath chosen the poor of the world to be rich in faith.' 

3. When we lose wealth for righteousness' sake, we have that which 
is better. The knowledge of a hated truth is better than to shine 
with the oppressor: Prov. iii. 31, 32, 'Envy not the oppressor, nor 
choose any of his ways: for the froward is an abomination to the 
Lord ; but his secret is with the righteous/ You have your losses 
exchanged for a greater good. 

Use 3. Of trial. Let us examine ourselves and see what esteem 
and account we have of the word of God. If any say that we are all 
ready to profess that we esteem the word of God more than all riches, 
then let us bring it off from words to deeds. Do you prefer obedience 
before gain ? do you seek after spiritual wisdom more than gain ? 
Prov. iv. 7, ' Wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom ; 
and with all thy getting, get understanding.' Is this your main 
business, to be wise to salvation ? How many afflict and torment 
themselves to get silver and gold, but how few to understand and em 
brace God's law ! How little doth this esteem of the word control 
contrary desires and affections 1 


Thine hands have made me and fashioned me : give me understanding, 
that I may learn thy commandments. VER. 73. 

IN these words we have two things : 

1. The man of God's argument, thy hands have made me and 
fashioned me. 

2. His request, give me understanding to keep thy commandments. 
1. For his argument. He pleadeth as God's creature. Man is God's 

immediate workmanship, both as to his body and his soul. Some apply 
the words, ' Thy hands have made me,' to the creation of the soul ; and 
the other words, ' and fashioned me,' to the creation of the body ; but 
we need not be so accurate. Both imply that he was wholly the work 
of God's hand, a mere creature of his framing, and a creature exactly 
made ; so made that he was also fashioned, ' fearfully and wonderfully 
made,' Ps. cxxxix. 14. The structure of man's body darts a reverence 
and awe of God into the consciences of beholders ; and he saith in the 
15th verse, ' I was curiously wrought ; ' the Vulgar reads it acu- 
pictus painted as with a needle. Man's body is a curious piece of 
embroidery, that is to be seen in the bones, veins, and arteries, that 

VER. 73. J SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 271 

spread and run throughout the body ; which consideration increaseth 
the argument, not only as he was God's work, but framed with a great 
deal of artifice. 

2. Here is his request, ' Give me understanding, th&t I may learn 
thy commandments.' In which he beggeth grace, that the faculty 
might be well disposed, ' Give me understanding ;' and rightly exer 
cised, ' That I may learn thy commandments ; ' that he might both 
know and keep his commandments. Surely he meaneth a saving 
knowledge : and therefore, when the work of grace is expressed by 
knowledge, a theoretical and notional knowledge is not understood, but 
that which is practical and operative ; such a knowledge as doth work 
such a change both in the inward and outward man, as that mind, 
heart, and practice do express a conformity to God's law. As Jer. 
xxiv. 7, ' I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord ; 
and they shall be my people, and I will be their God ; for they shall 
return to me with their whole heart ; ' that is, all the blessings of the 
covenant he expresseth by giving them a heart to know him : they 
shall so know me as to acknowledge me for their God, and carry them 
selves accordingly in dutiful obedience to me. I will regard them as 
their God, and they shall regard me as my people. So when it is said, 
Col. iii. 10, that ' the new man' is 'renewed in knowledge, after the 
image of him that created him/ it is meant of a saving knowledge or 
acknowledgment of God, such as doth produce a perfect conformity to 
his law in both the tables ; it is such a knowledge as is set out in 
righteousness ; these are parallel expressions, Eph. iv. 24 Well, then, 
this new nature David prayeth for, ' Give me understanding ;' not as 
though he were altogether a stranger to it, but as seeking further 
1 degrees of it; such a spiritual understanding of the will of God as 
might bring him into a more perfect and entire submission there 
unto : ' I am thy creature ; ' let me be thy new creature ; give me 
a faculty so clearly renewed that I may know and keep thy com 

Doct. That as we are creatures, we are some way encouraged to ask 
of God the grace of the new creature. 

I shall draw forth the sense of the text and the doctrine in these 

1. That man was made by God, or is God's immediate workman 
ship. We have the first notice of it, Gen. i. 26, ' Let us make man 
after our own image and likeness.' God put more respect upon him 
than upon the rest of the work of his hands. His creation is ex 
pressed in other terms than were used before : ' He said, Let there be 
light, and it was light ; ' ' Let there be dry land/ &c. But here God 
speaketh as if he had called a consultation about it, ' Let us make 
man ; ' not as if there were more difficulty, or as if creating power 
were at a nonplus, but to show what special notice he taketh of us, and 
to point out the excellency which he did stamp upon man in his crea 
tion beyond the rest of the creatures. There was no creature but had 
some impress of God upon it, for everything which hath passed his 
hand carrieth God's signature and mark ; it showeth that it came from 
a being of infinite power and wisdom and goodness. But man hath his 
image and likeness stamped upon him : there you may discern God s 


track and footprint, but here his very face. In his first moulding of him 
he would plainly and visibly discover himself. So again, when this 
making of man is explained, Gen. ii. 7, ' And the Lord God formed man 
of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of 
life ; and man became a living soul.' Before we read that man was 
created, here we see in what sort : his body was framed with great art, 
though of base materials ; a handful of dust did God enliven and 
form into a beautiful frame. But for the frame within, he had a more 
excellent and perfect soul than God gave to any other creature ; by 
the union of both these, man became a living soul. Heaven and earth 
were married in his person ; the dust of the earth and an immortal 
spirit, which is called the breath of God, were sweetly linked and 
joined together, with a disposition and inclination to one another, the 
soul to the body, and the body to the soul. When he had raised the 
walls of the flesh, and built the house of the body with all its rooms, 
then he puts in a noble and divine guest to dwell in it, and both make 
up one man. 

2. The making of man now is the work of God, as well as the making 
of the first man was. God's hands did not only make and fashion 
Adam, but David. He saith, ' Thy hands have made me and fashioned 
me.' The body of man is of God's framing : Ps. cxxxix. 15, 16, ' My 
substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curi 
ously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth : thine eyes did see my 
substance, yet being imperfect ; and in thy book all my members were 
written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was 
none of them/ Our bodies, you see there, though the matter were 
propagated by our parents, yet his hands made them and fashioned 
them. God is more our father than our natural parents are. Our 
parents know not whether the child will be male or female, beautiful 
or deformed cannot tell the number of the bones, muscles, veins, 
arteries : this God appointeth and frameth with curious artifice ; so 
that of all visible creatures, there is none in any sort equalleth man in 
the curious composition of the body, whether we look upon the beauty 
and majesty of his person, or take notice of the variety, nature, and 
use of his several parts, with their composition and framing them 
together, with a wonderful order and correspondence one to another, as 
if they had been described by a model and platform set down in a 
book : so secretly and curiously was the matter framed in passing 
through all the changes in the womb till it came to a perfect forma 
tion. Then for the soul, God infuseth that : Eccles. xii. 7, ' Then 
shall our dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit to God that 
gave it.' God gave the body too, but especially the spirit, because 
there he worketh singly and immediately ; therefore he is called ' the 
Father of spirits.' They do not run in the channel of carnal genera 
tion or fleshly descent, Heb. xii. 9. So Zedekiah swore by ' the God 
that made his soul,' Jer. xxxviii. 16. So Zech. xii. 1, ' He formed the 
spirit of man within him/ The parent doth instrumental ly produce 
man in respect of his body, yet the soul is from God, and immediately 
created and infused into the body by him, and being put into that 
dead lump of clay, doth animate and quicken it for the most excellent 

VER. 73.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 273 

3. Man, tb.it was created by God, was created to serve him : ' He 
formed us from the womb to be his servants/ as well as the first man, 
Isa. xlix. 5. Adam indeed was appointed for this use; all other 
creatures were made to serve God, but man especially by the design of 
his creation : other things ultimately and terminatively, but man im 
mediately and nextly. God made all things for himself, Prov. xvi. 4; 
and Rom. xi. 36, ' For of him and through him are all things; to whom 
be glory for ever, amen.' Man is the mouth of the creation. Surely 
it is but reason that God should have the use of all that he gave us ; 
that the author of life and being should have some glory by them ; 
that he should dwell in the house he hath set up : he that made it 
hath most right to use it ; that we should ' glorify him with our bodies 
and souls, which are his,' 1 Cor. vi. 20. Man is designed, engaged by 
greater mercies, furnished with great abilities, as at first endowed with 
God's image ; he hath faculties and capacities to know and glorify his 
creator. There are natural instincts given to other things, or inclina 
tions to those things which are convenient to their own nature ; but 
none of them are in a capacity to know what they are, and have, and 
where they are : they cannot frame a notion of him who gave them a 
being. Man is the mouth of the creation to speak for them : Ps. 
cxlv. 10, ' All thy works praise thee, Lord, and thy saints bless thee.' 
He was made to love, and serve, and glorify God. The divine image 
inclined him to obedience at first. 

4. We are not now what God made us at first, but are strangely 
disabled to serve him and please him : Eccles. vii. 29, ' God made man 
upright, but they have sought out many inventions : ' there is man's 
original and his degeneration ; what he was once made, and how far 
now unmade and departed from his primitive estate ; his perfection 
by creation, and defection by sin : first made in a state of righteous 
ness without sin, and now in a state of sin and misery without grace ; 
was created with a holy disposition to enable and incline him to love, 
please, and obey God, but now hath found out many inventions, put 
to his shifts. Man was not contented to be at God's finding, but would 
take his own course, and hath miserably shifted ever since to patch 
up a sorry happiness. So Rom. iii. 23, 'All have sinned, and are 
come short of the glory of God.' By glory of God is not meant his 
glorious reward, but his glorious image. Image is called glory, 1 Cor. 
xi. 7, ' It is said of the man, that ' he is the image and glory of God, as 
the woman is the glory of the man.' So compare 2 Cor. iii. 18, ' We 
beholding the glory of the Lord in a glass, &c. So here, we are 
' come short of the glory of God,' that is, his glorious image. Hence 
it is that all our faculties are perverted, the mind is become blind and 
vain, the will stubborn and perverse, conscience stupid, the affections 
pre-occupied and entangled, and we find a manifest disproportion in all 
our faculties to things carnal and spiritual, sinful and holy. In 
the understanding there is a sharpness of apprehension in carnal 
things, but dull, slow, and blind in spiritual and heavenly things. 
Thoughts are spent freely and unweariedly about the one, but there is 
a tediousness and barrenness about the other ; a will backward to what 
is good, but a strange bent and urging to what is evil. In that which 
is good we need a spur, in evil a bridle. These things persevere with 

VOL. vir. s 


us; but how fickle and changeable in any holy resolution! the 
memory slippery in what is good, but firm and strong in what is evil ; 
the affections quick, easily stirred, like tinder, catch fire at every spark ; 
but as to that which is good, they are like fire in green wood, hardly 
kept in with much blowing. Again, our delight is soon moved by 
things pleasing to sense ; a carnal gust and savour is very natural to- 
us, and rife with us, Kom. viii. 5, but averse from the chiefest good, 
and everything that leadeth to it. Surely, then, we have need to go to 
God and complain of corruption, sometimes under the notion of a 
blind and dark mind, begging the illumination of the Spirit ; some 
times under the notion of a dead, hard heart, or an unpersuadable will, 
begging his inclining as well as enlightening grace. Surely they are 
strangely hardened that do not see a need of a spiritual understanding. 
Nay, God's children, after grace received, though sanctified betimes, 
yet halt of the old maim, dull in spirituals, alive and active in carnal 
matters. Carnal and worldly men act more uniformly and suitably to 
their principles than the children of God to theirs : Luke xvi. 8, ' The 
children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children 
of light ; ' that is, more dexterous in the course of affairs. Grace for 
the present worketh but a partial cure : we have the advantage in 
matter of motive, we have better and higher things to mind ; but they 
have the advantage in matter of principle ; their principles are un 
broken, but the principles of the best are mixed. We cannot do what 
we would in heavenly things ; there is the back-bias of corruption that 
turns us away ; and therefore they need to be instant with God to 
heal their souls ; sometimes a blind mind, and sometimes a dis 
tempered heart. 

5. We must be new made and born again before we can be apt or 
able to know or do the will of God ; as Christ inferreth the necessity 
of regeneration from the corruption of nature he had been discoursing 
with Nicodemus ' You cannot enter into the kingdom of God ; for 
that which is born of the flesh is flesh/ John iil 5, 6. Our souls 
naturally accommodate themselves to the flesh, and seek the good of 
the flesh, and all our thoughts and care, and life, and love run that 
way. Now, what was lost in Adam can only be recovered in Christ. 
It is not enough that God's hands have once made us and fashioned 
us, but there is a necessity of being made and fashioned anew, of 
becoming ' his workmanship in Christ Jesus,' Eph. ii. 10 ; and so the 
words of the text may be interpreted in this sense : Thou hast made 
me once ; Lord, new make me : thy hands made me ; Lord, give me 
a new heart, that I may obey thee. In the first birth God gave us a 
natural understanding ; in the second, a spiritual understanding, that 
we may learn his commandments ; first that we may be good, and then 
do good. The first birth gave us the natural faculty, the second, the 
grace, or those divine qualities which were lost by Adam's sin. Better 
never been born, unless born again ; better be a beast than a man, if 
the Lord give us not the knowledge of himself in Christ. The beasts, 
when they die, their misery and happiness dieth with them, death puts 
an end to their pain and pleasure ; but, we that have reason and con 
science to foresee the end and know the way, enter into perfect happiness 
or misery at death. Unless the Lord sanctify this reason, and give us 

VER. 73.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 275 

a heart to know him in Christ, and choose that which is good, man is 
but a higher kind of beast, a wiser sort of beast, Ps. xlix. 12 ; for his 
soul is only employed to cater for the body, and his reason is pro 
stituted to sense ; the beast rides the man. We are not distinguished 
from the brutes by our senses, but our understanding and our reason. 
But in a carnal man, the soul is a kind of sense ; it is wholly employed 
about the animal life. There is not a more brutish creature in the 
world than a worldly wicked man. Well, then, David had need to 
pray, Lord, thou hast given me reason ; give me the knowledge of thy 
t>elf and thy blessed will. 

6. When we seek this grace, or any degree of it, it is a proper argu 
ment to urge that we are God's creatures. So doth David here. I 
am now come to my very business, and therefore I shall a little show 
how far creation is pleadable, and may any way encourage us to ask 
spiritual understanding and renewing grace. 

[1.] In the general, I shall lay down this : It is a good way of 
reasoning with God to ask another gift because we have received one 
already. It is not a good way of reasoning with man, because he 
wastes by giving ; but a good way with God, and that upon a double 
account. Partly because in some cases Deus donando debet God by 
giving doth in effect bind himself to give more ; as by giving life, to 
give food ; by giving a body, to give raiment, Mat. vi. 25. God, by 
bending such a creature into the world, chargeth his providence to 
maintain him, as long as he will use him for his glory. God loveth to 
crown his own gifts : Zech. iii. 2, ' Is not this a brand plucked out of 
the burnings ? ' The thing pleaded there is, was not this a brand 
plucked out of the fire ? One mercy is pleaded to obtain another 
mercy. So God bindeth himself to give perseverance, 2 Cor. i. 10 ; 
but this is not the case here ; for by giving common benefits he doth 
not bind himself to give saving graces. And partly, too, because he 
doth not waste by giving : ' His mercy endureth for ever." The same 
reason is given for all those mercies, Ps. cxxxvi. ; why the Lord chose 
a church, maintaineth his church, giveth daily bread : ' His mercy 
endureth for ever.' God is where he was at first : ' He giveth liberally, 
and upbraideth not,' James i. 5. He doth not say, I have given 
already. Now, a former common mercy showeth God's readiness and 
freeness to give ; the inclination to do good still abideth with him ; he 
is as ready and as free to give still ; daily bread : ' His mercy endureth 
for ever ; ' spiritual wisdom : ' His mercy endureth for ever.' Indeed, 
the giving of daily bread doth not necessarily bind God to give spiri 
tual wisdom ; but that which is not a sure ground to expect may be a 
probable encouragement to ask. And learn this, that though nothing 
can satisfy unbelief, yet faith can pick arguments out of anything, 
and make use of the most common benefits of creation to strengthen 

[2.] God beareth much affection to man as he is his creature and 
the work of his hands ; and the saints plead it when they would be 
spared and when they would be saved. As Job, chap. x. 3, ' Is it 
good unto thee that thou shouldest oppress, that thou shouldest despise 
the work of thine hands ? ' So ver. 8 of that chapter, ' Thy hands 
have made me and fashioned me, and yet thou dost destroy ma' The 


sum and effect of these pleas is, it is strange that God should despise 
his own workmanship, especially a piece of such excellency as man is. 
Surely God is the readier to do good to man because he is the work of 
his hands. We see artificers, when they have made an excellent 
work, they are very chary and tender of it, and will not destroy it 
and break it in pieces. An instinct of nature teacheth us to love that 
which is our own by natural production ; so it is an argument moving 
the Lord to much compassion to tell him that we are his workman 
ship : Isa. Ixiv. 8, 9, ' But now, Lord, thou art our father ; we are 
the clay, thou art our potter ; we are all the work of thine hands : be 
not wroth with us very sore, Lord.' This raiseth in us some hope 
of speeding and prevailing with God. The words of the text are 
emphatical, made and fashioned. God hath bestowed much care upon 
us to make and fashion us, and therefore he will pity us and spare us : 
Job xiv. 15, ' Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee ; thou wilt have a 
desire to the work of thine hands.' All these places show there is an 
argument in it that may raise our faith when other arguments fail. 

[3.] Creation implieth some hope, because God forsaketh none but 
those who forsake him first. He might destroy us for our original 
sin, as we destroy serpents of a venomous nature before they have 
actually done any harm. Though man hath lost his goodness, God 
hath not. Every one of us in person doth actually break with God 
before he breaketh with us : 2 Chron. xv. 2, ' If ye forsake him, he will 
forsake you.' 1 Chron. xxviii. 9, David telleth Solomon, 'If thou 
forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever ; ' he will not acknowledge 
thee. Take this rightly : that God giveth grace to any is his good 
ness ; that to one more than another, is his distinguishing and elective 
love ; that he denieth grace to any, is along of themselves, chargeable 
upon the creature, who abuse that common grace which, if improved, 
might have made them better ; yea, though all deserve to be denied 
the grace of the Kedeemer, yet it is not denied till after many wilful 
refusals, and by gross impenitency we turn the back upon God, when 
we will not implore our Creator's bounty, but obstinately refuse it. 

[4.] Seeing God is our creator, and the end of our creation is to 
serve God, we may the more confidently ask the grace which is neces 
sary to enable us to serve him, that the same creating mercy which 
layeth on the obligation may help to discharge the debt. God is no 
Pharaoh, to require brick and give no straw, to appoint work and not 
to provide grace. Though he hath not absolutely promised to every 
individual person converting grace, yet he hath appointed certain 
means for the ungodly which they are bound to use in order to con 
version ; and if we consider the goodness of God, and the nature of 
those means, it is a great encouragement. Surely the assistances of 
grace are always ready : Mat. xxii. 5, ' Come to the feast, all things 
are ready.' None can tax him of backwardness. So our Saviour taxes 
the Jews: Mat. xxiii. 37, 'I would have gathered thee as a hen 
gathereth her chickens under her wing, but ye would not.' When did 
God ever fail the waiting soul, or put away the creature that sought 
after grace to serve him? He is often beforehand with us, never 
behindhand ; and we grossly and heinously forfeit all our means and 
helps before we lose them. 

VER. 73.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 277 

[5.] There is encouragement to faith a pari, from the resemblance 
and likeness that is between his making us at first and his new-making 
of us in Jesus Christ. It is called a creation, Eph. ii. 10 ; Eph. iv. 24, 
' The new man, which after God is created,' &c. ; 2 Cor. iv. 6, ' God, 
who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into 
our hearts.' The author is the same God to whom it belongeth to 
create. We have the human nature from him, and can have it from 
no other, much less can we have the divine nature from any other but 
him, Ps. li. 5, or else we should n,ot have it at all. It is not im 
planted in our nature, or attainable by any industry of ours : ' It is not 
of him that willeth, or of him that runneth,' Rom. ix. 16, but the 
immediate work of God ; it is the work of his omnipotency. So dead 
and indisposed are we by nature to holiness and grace, that no less than 
creating power is required to work it in us. Besides, we were created 
freely, without any merit of ours ; so we expect from the same goodness 
such saving knowledge as may change our hearts. There is this double 
encouragement there is God's omnipotent power, and his free giving 
us his image at first, Rom. iv. 17. 

[6.] If we consider the manner of pleading, and the good frame of 
heart implied in the pleader, we may better understand the cogency of 
the argument ; and though the argument itself doth not necessarily 
infer the help of grace, yet the manner of pleading showeth some pre 
parative work of grace, and such meet the Lord in the stated order of 
commerce between him and his creatures, and shall receive his blessing. 
And then the argument will be strong in this petition, ' Give under 
standing, that I may learn thy commandments.' Here are many things 
implied, such as are wrought by God in those to whom God will 
vouchsafe the grace. 

(1.) An acknowledgment of the debt, that man, being God's crea 
ture, is obliged to serve him ; as he was not made by himself, so not 
for himself ; and should no more cease from intending God as an end, 
than he can cease from depending on God as a principle. Now, it is 
long ere we are brought to this. You know how the rebels are 
described and set out, Ps. xii. 4, ' Our tongues are our own ; who is 
lord over us ?' Now God hath gained one great end with us when 
we are sensible of our obligation to him, and are brought to acknow 
ledge the debt, and that love, duty, and service we owe to him. Where 
fore doth God press duty upon carnal men, who are no way competent 
or able to perform it ? Divines tell us, to demand his right, as a 
creditor doth of a prodigal debtor, and to make us sensible that we 
stand bound to God in the debt of obedience. 

(2.) Here is a will to pay, or a heart set upon service and obedience ; 
for this is a speech becoming one heartily devoted to God, ' Thy hands 
have made me,' <fec. He would willingly return to his creator's service, 
and glorify him with what was made by him : I acknowledge that I 
am obliged, as I am the work of thine hands, to live in a faithful 
obedience to thee ; Lord, I give up myself to this work. Mark, this 
is a good spirit ; he doth not beg his own comfort, but ability for ser 
vice, that he might so know his master's will as to do it. Now this is 
repentance towards God, when we are heartily willing to return to our 
duty more than to our comfort, Acts ii. 21 ; there is more hope of that 


soul that rather seeketh obedience than comfort, and where there is a 
resolved will and purpose to devote ourselves to the Lord, to please 
him, and serve him. This was God's end in his new covenant .grace, 
and Christ's end in redemption, to restore us to obedience as well as to 
favour, and put us into a capacity of service again : Heb. ix. 14, 
' Purge our consciences from dead works to serve the living God ;' 1 
Peter ii. 24, ' Who his own self bare our sins in his body on the tree, 
that we, being dead to sin, might live unto righteousness/ He died 
to weaken the love of sin in our hearts, and to advance the life and 
power of grace and righteousness. 

(3.) There is implied in it a confession of impotency, that God 
cannot be glorified and served by him unless he be renewed and 
strengthened by grace ; not by him as a creature till he be made a 
new creature, or have renewed influences of grace from him. God 
permitted the lapse and fall of mankind, that they may come to him 
as needy creatures, and take all out of his hands. Man's great error, 
which occasioned his fall, was that he would live alone apart from God, 
be sufficient to his own happiness. We greedily caught at that 
word, ' Ye shall be as gods/ Gen. iii. 5. The meaning was, not in a 
blessed conformity, but a cursed self-sufficiency. Man would be his 
own god, desired to have his stock in his own hands, and would be no 
more at God's finding : Gen. iii. 22, ' The man is become as one of us/ 
to live as an independent being. Well, then, to cure this, God would 
reduce him to an utter necessity, that he might bring him to an entire 
dependence, and might come as a beggarly indigent creature, expecting 
all from God, putting no confidence in his own righteousness for his 
justification, nor natural power and strength for sanctification : Gal. ii. 
19, ' I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto 
God.' The rigorous exaction of perfect obedience under the hazard of 
the curse of the law maketh them dead to the law ; the curse of the 
law puts them so hard to it, that they are forced to fly to Christ to be 
freed from condemnation ; and the spiritual nature of the law, as it is 
a rule of obedience, driveth them to see there is nothing in themselves 
tending to righteousness, and holiness, to the glory of God, without 
the power of his Spirit : they that ' serve in the newness of the spirit/ 
Rom. vii. 6. God bringeth us at last to this : Mat. xix. 26, ' With 
men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible.' Well, 
then, when we are brought to see our impotency, we are at a good pass, 
and lie obvious to his grace. 

(4.) It implies an earnest desire after grace ; and that is a good 
frame of heart, when not satisfied with common benefits. David was 
not satisfied with his natural being, but seeketh after a spiritual being. 
What is that he prayeth so earnestly for, but an enlightened mind and 
a renewed heart, and all that he might be obedient to God ? Thus we 
are more fitted to receive grace. A conscience of our duty is a great 
matter in fallen man, who is turned rebel against God and a traitor to 
his maker, who is impatient and self-willed, and all for casting off the 
yoke, Ps. ii. 3. Well, to have a heart set upon duty and obedience, 
that is the next step ; the third was a sense of impotency ; now this 
fourth a desire of grace : such the Lord hath promised to satisfy, Mat. 
v. 6. These open unto God, and are ready to take in his grace. Come 

YER. 73.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 279 

as creatures earnestly desiring to do your creator's will, and in the best 
manner, and will God refuse you ? Because I am thy creature, teach 
me to serve thee, who art my creator. 

(5.) There is one thing more in this plea, a persuasion of God's 
goodness to his creatures. This is the very ground and reason why 
this plea is used : Pa cxlv. 9, ' The Lord is good to all, and his tender 
mercies are over all his works.' There is a great deal of fatherly care 
and mercy to his creatures, till by their impenitency, persisted in 
against the means of grace, they render themselves incapable of it 
The first battery which Satan laid to man's heart tended to undermine 
the sense of God's goodness to the creature, as if God were envious : 
Gen. iii. 5, ' Doth not God know that in the day ye eat thereof;' as 
if God envied their happiness : this the devil would instil. To have 
good thoughts of God is a great means to reduce us and bring us back 
again to him. We frighten ourselves away from him by entertaining 
needless jealousies of him, as if he sought our destruction, or delighted 
in it Surely he will not destroy a poor soul that lieth submissively 
at his feet, and is grieved he can no better please him and serve him. 
The man that had hard thoughts of God neglected his duty : Mat. xxv. 
24, 25, ' I knew thou wast an austere master, therefore I hid my 
talent in a napkin ;' that is the legalism and carnal bondage that is in 
us, which makes us full of jealousies of God, and doth mightily hinder 
and obstruct our duty. 

Use. The use is to press you to come to God as creatures, to beg 
relief and help for your souls : this will be of use to us in many cases. 

1. To the scrupulous, who are upon regenerating, that are not sure 
that the work of grace is wrought in them. You cannot call God 
Father by the spirit of adoption ; yet own him as a creator. Come to 
him as one that formed you : your desire is to return to him. 

2. It is of use to believers when under desertions, and God appeareth 
against them in a way of wrath, and all God's dispensations seem to 
speak nothing but wrath: yet come to him as the creator. Lord, 
' we are the work of thy hands.' If you cannot plead the covenant of 
Abraham, which was made with believers, plead the covenant of Noah, 
which was made with man and all creatures : Isa. liv. 9, ' For this is 
as the waters of Noah unto me ; for as I have sworn that the waters 
of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I 
would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee ;' there may be a great 
storm, but no deluge. When all is wrath to a poor soul, let it come 
to him in the covenant of Noah. 

3. It will be of use in pleading for grace for your children, who are 
as yet, it may be, graceless and disobedient : ' Thy hands have made 
and fashioned them.' Desire him to renew his image upon them by 
the spirit of grace. 

In short, the sum of all is, here is encouragement : God is good to 
all his creatures, especially to man, most especially to man seeking 
after him, and seeking after him for grace, that we and ours may obey 
him, and do him better service than ever yet we have done. 



They that fear thee will be glad ivhen they see me ; because I have 
hoped in tliy word. VER. 74. 

THIS verse containeth two things : 

1. The respect of the faithful to David, they that fear thee luill be 
glad when they see me. 

2. The reason of this respect, because I have Jioped in thy word. 
First, The respect of God's faithful servants to David, and there 

take notice of the character by which God's servants are described, 
' They that fear thee ;' then their respect to David, they ' will be glad 
when they see me ;' which may bear a double sense. 

1. How comfortable it is for the heirs of promise to see one another, 
or meet together ! Aspectus boni viri delectat the very look of a good 
man is delightful; it is a pleasure to converse with those that are 
careful to please God, and awe-ful to offend him. 

2. How much affected they are with one another's mercies : ' They 
will be glad to see me,' who have obtained an event answerable to my 
hope ; they shall come and look upon me as a monument and spec 
tacle of the mercy and truth of God. This sense I prefer, though not 
excluding the other. But what mercy had he received ? The context 
seemeth to carry it for grace to obey God's commandments ; that was 
the prayer immediately preceding, to be 'instructed and taught in 
God's law,' ver. 73. Now they will rejoice to see my holy behaviour, 
how I have profited and glorified God in that behalf. The Hebrew 
writers render the reason, Because then I shall be able to instruct 
them in those statutes, when they shall see me, their king, study the 
law of God. It may be expounded of any other blessing or benefit 
God hath given according to his hope ; and I rather understand it 
thus: they will be glad to see him sustained, supported, and borne out 
in his troubles and sufferings ; they will be glad when they shall see 
in me a notable example of the fruit of hoping in thy grace, and this 
hope leaveth not ashamed. 

Secondly, The reason is, ' Because I hoped in thy word ; ' and there 
compare this with the first clause. God's children are described to be 
those that fear God, and David is described to be one that hopes in 
his word. Both together make up a good character and description 
of the Lord's people ; they are such as fear God and hope in his word. 
They are elsewhere coupled : Ps. xxxiii. 18, ' Behold the eye of the 
Lord is upon them that fear him, that hope in his mercy ; ' and Ps. 
cxlvii. 11, ' The Lord takes pleasure in them that fear him, that hope 
in his mercy/ A sincere Christian is known by both these ; a fear of 
God, or a constant obedience to his commands, and an affiance, trust, 
and dependence upon his mercies. Oh, how sweetly are both these 
coupled ; a uniform sincere obedience to him, and an unshaken con 
stant reliance on his mercy and goodness ! The whole perfection of 
the Christian life is comprised in these two believing God and fearing 
him, trusting in his mercy and fearing his name ; the one maketh 
us careful in avoiding sin, the other diligent to follow after righteous- 

VER. 74.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 281 

ness ; the one is a bridle from sin and temptations, the other a spur 
to our duties. Fear is our curb, and hope our motive and encourage 
ment ; the one respects our duty, the other our comfort ; the one 
allayeth the other. God is so to be feared, as also to be trusted ; so to 
be trusted, as also to be feared. And as we must not suffer our fear 
to degenerate into legal bondage, but hope in his mercy ; so our trust 
must not degenerate into carnal sloth and wantonness, but so hope in 
his word as to fear his name. Well, then, such as both believe in 
God and fear to offend him are the only men who are acceptable to- 
God and his people. God will take pleasure in them, and they take 
pleasure in one another : ' They that fear thee will be glad when they 
see me.' The first part of the character, ' They that fear thee ; ' the- 
fear of God is an excellent grace, a strong bridle to hold the soul from 
sin ; not that servile, but filial and child-like fear, that is afraid to sin 
against God or break his laws : Prov. xxviii. 14, ' Blessed is the man 
that feareth always;' this grace should always bear rule in our 
hearts : 1 Peter i. 17, ' Pass the time of your sojourning in fear ; ' our 
whole course must be carried on under the conduct of this grace. 
Look, as the fear of man is a bridle upon the beasts to keep them 
from hurting man, Gen. ix. 2, ' The fear and dread of you shall be 
upon every beast of the earth ; ' so when the fear of God is rooted in 
our hearts, we are kept from disobeying and dishonouring God. Joseph 
is an instance of the power of this holy fear : Gen. xxxix. 9, ' How 
shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?' Secondly, 
the other character, ' I hope in thy word : ' a Christian liveth by faith, 
whereas the brutish worldling liveth by sense ; the one liveth by bread 1 
only, the other by the word of God ; the one is a higher sort of beast, 
the other is a kind of earthly angel, for he liveth with God, and 
dwelleth with God, and expecteth all out of God's hands : Ps. cxxx. 
5, ' I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope ; ' 
there is his charter and inheritance, and his solace and support ; he 
fetcheth all from the word. Both these graces, as they are very 
acceptable unto God, so are they most lovely and beautiful to behold 
by men ; to be among the company of them that fear God, and hope 
in his word, is the most pleasant thing to a gracious heart that car* 
be ; for while others are taken up about toys and trifles, they are taken 
up about the only serious matters. If Balaam was constrained to say 
of God's people, ' How goodly are thy tents, Jacob, and thy taber 
nacles, Israel ! ' oh, how pleasant is it much more to the people of 
God, to see one another, to come among them that fear God, and are 
loath to offend him, and also that hope in his word ! They can speak 
of the life of faith, and blessedness to come, and take off the veil of the 
creature, and are mainly taken up with another world ; their business 
is not to offend God here, and hope fully to enjoy him hereafter : Bom. 
i. 12, ' Comforted by the mutual faith both of you and me.' 

Doct That God's mercies bestowed upon some of his children should 
be and are an occasion of joy and comfort to all the rest. When 
David was a pattern of God's gracious help and deliverance, he saith, 
' They that fear thee will be glad when they see me/ I shall give 
you some scriptures: Ps. cxlii. 7, 'The righteous shall compass me 
about, for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.' When any one of 


God's children are delivered, all the rest flock about him, to assist and 
join in 'thanksgiving, and to help one another to praise the Lord. So 
Ps. xxxiv. 2, ' My soul shall make her boast in the Lord ; the humble 
shall hear thereof and be glad ; ' that God had preserved and reserved 
David still. So Ps. Ixiv. 10, ' The righteous shall be glad in the Lord 
and trust in him, and the upright in heart shall glory ; ' that is, when 
David was delivered, when God had showed mercy to him, then all 
the upright would come, and make their own profit and advantage by 
such an experience and deliverance. 

The reasons of the point. 

1. They are all members of one body, they are all called into one body, 
and the good and evil of one member is common to the whole. This 
reason is rendered by the apostle : 1 Cor. xii. 25, 26, ' But that the 
members should have the same care one for another. And whether 
one member suffer, all the members suffer with it ; or one member be 
honoured, all the rest rejoice with it;' ver. 27, 'Now ye are the body 
of Christ, and members in particular.' The meaning of that place is, 
that the church altogether is the body of Christ, and every several 
person a member, and every member should be as solicitous for one 
another as for itself ; they have the same common interests and con 
cernments, whether of suffering or rejoicing. You know in the natural 
body, when the toe is trode on, the tongue crieth out, You have hurt 
me. We are concerned in the good or ill of our fellow-members ; 
their joy is joy to us, and their sorrow sorrow to us : to this sense 
some expound that place, Heb. xiii. 3, ' Kernernber them that are in 
bonds, as bound with them, and them that suffer adversity, as being 
yourselves also in the body.' Some understand it of Christ's mystical 
body ; when they suffer, our souls are bound with them. But I think 
it bears another sense there : to be 'in the body' is to be in the flesh, 
during which state we are liable to many vexations and miseries ; and 
therefore, if God doth so order it that the whole body, or all the 
members of the church, should not be afflicted at one time, but whilst 
some are afflicted others are free, and when we are not involved by 
passion there may be compassion. While we are in the body we are 
obnoxious to the same adversities, and should pity and comfort them 
as ourselves, and use all means to do 4hem good ; but if it be not the 
truth of the place, yet it is a truth, the more any partake of the 
spiritual life the stronger is spiritual sympathy : they ' rejoice with 
them that rejoice, and mourn with them that mourn/ Rom xii. 15 ; 
are bound with them that are in bonds, and enlarged with them that 
are enlarged. One part of us is in bonds when they are in bonds, one 
part of us is enlarged when they are enlarged ; still we should have 
common interests and affections with our brethren ; and for those that 
fear God to be selfish and senseless of the condition of others, it is a 
kind of self-excommunication, or an implicit renouncing the body: 
because we are in the body, we should be affected as they are. Look, 
as there was the same spirit in Ezekiel's vision in the living creatures 
and the wheels, 1 say the same spirit was in both ; when one moved 
the other moved : so there is the same spirit in Christ's mystical 
body. We should be affected as they are ; it is a kind of depriving 
ourselves of the privileges of the mystical body if we are not. 

VEK. 74.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 283 

2. It is for the honour and glory of God ; God hath most glory 
"when praised by many. Therefore they flock together, 2 Cor. i. 11, 
* That for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons, 
thanks may be given by many in our behalf.' God loveth to have us 
act with joint consent both in prayer and praise, because he would in 
terest us in one another's mercies and comforts, and so knit our hearts 
together in more holy love. Prayers made by many are mighty with 
God when we come to God with many supplicants, make up a great 
party to besiege heaven : so praises rendered by many are the more 
honourable to God, and acceptable with him : 2 Cor. iv. 15, ' That the 
abundant grace might, through the thanksgiving of many, redound to 
the glory of God.' When many are engaged, and many are affected 
with it, God's glory is the more diffused, the revenue of the crown of 
heaven increased. One string maketh no music; when there are 
many, and all in tune, there is harmony. There are three things in it 
many righteous persons, and joining together with one spirit in the 
same work, then the Lord hath more honour than he could have in a 
single person. In heaven God is praised in concert ; we are brought 
all together, that we may make one body and congregation to laud, 
and praise, and serve God for evermore : so here, they that fear God 
and hope in his mercy, they often flock together to congratulate and 
join in thanksgiving for the mercies which any one of them hath re 
ceived. When Christ was born there was a whole concert of angels : 
Luke ii. 13, ' A multitude of the heavenly host praising God, saying, 
Glory to God on high, on earth peace, good-will towards men.' It is 
a kind of heaven upon earth when all the people of God are led by 
one spirit to praise and glorify God : a closet prayer or thanksgiving 
is not so honourable as that of the congregation. 

3. It is for the profit and comfort of all ; partly because by this 
means they come to understand one another's experiences for their 
mutual support and edification. What God is to one that feareth 
him, he is to all that fear him sincerely, affected to them all ; there 
fore the goodness of God to one believer bringeth joy and comfort to 
all the rest. They are spectacles and monuments of mercy for the 
saints to look upon, that they may learn thereby to depend upon God. 
Look, as in converting Paul, a persecutor, the apostle saith, 1 Tim. L 
16, ' Christ did show forth all long-suffering in me, for a pattern to 
them that should after believe on him,' in pardoning so great a 
sinner, in saving such a distressed soul, to invite others to Christ ; so 
in all other cases, when God delivereth one, he inviteth others to the 
same hope ; they are precedents of mercy to the rest, as David im- 
plieth here they would be encouraged by his example cheerfully to 
expect the same deliverance from God. In the example of one 
sufferer there is a pawn given to all the rest ; it is for the edification 
and encouragement of others to be acquainted with our experiences 
of God's mercy to us: Ps. Ixvi. 16, ' Come near, all ye that fear God, 
and I will declare what he hath done for my soul ;' all are concerned, 
for they have the same necessities, have interest in the same God, the 
same promises, the same mediator, and the same covenant ; so that to 
be acquainted with the passages of divine providence towards others 
is a great help to teach us more of God, that we may learn to magnify 


his power. And partly by this means their hearts are more knit ta 
one another in spiritual love ; when they pray for one another as for 
their own souls, and rejoice as in their own deliverance, it maintaineth 
unity among us. God loveth to pleasure many of his children at 
once,, and to interest them in the same mercy ; and so we receive the- 
mercy others intercede for, and give thanks for it. Love in the spirit 
is seen in praying and praising God for one another. And partly, too^ 
because it doth oblige us to more frequent acts of worship ; we can 
never want an errand to the throne of grace, or an opportunity of 
worship for ourselves or others, to pray with them, or to offer praise 
with them and for them. 

4. Joy is communicative ; mourning apart is good : Peter ' went 
out and wept bitterly/ Mat. xxvi. 75. And Jeremiah saith, when he 
would weep for the people, Jer. xiii. 17, ' My soul shall weep in secret 
places for your pride ;' and Zech. xii. 12, 13, ' They shall mourn every 
family apart, the family of the house of David apart, and their wives 
apart,' &c. Sorrow affecteth solitude and retiredness, where no eye 
seeth but God's ; but joy doth best in company and in consort, as the 
Woman called her neighbours to rejoice with her, Luke xv., because 
she bad found the lost groat. So we must stir up one another to 
rejoice in God. Besides, mercies may be told to many, but not our 
griefs ; therefore the godly will be flocking together to help them in 
praises as well as prayers. It is not only commendable to beg their 
help in prayer, but we should call upon them to praise God with us : 
Ps. xxxiv. 3, ' magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his 
name together.' "We are bound to be witnesses of one another's 
thankfulness, and to assist one another in the praises of God. 

Use. Information of five things : 

1. It showeth us the lawfulness, yea, the conveniency, yea, in some 
sort, the necessity, of public thanksgiving for private mercies. It is 
lawful ; we read of paying vows in the great congregation, Ps. xxii. 
22, xl. 9. It is highly convenient arid useful, partly that the people 
of God may flock together, and make a crown of praise for God : Ps. 
xxii. 3, ' He inhabiteth the praises of Israel ;' he delighteth to be in 
the midst of his people when they praise him. And partly that by 
the thankfulness of others we may be quickened to remember our 
own mercies, as one bird sets all the flock a-chirping. And partly 
that we may quicken others by our help ; and partly to show a Christ- 
like love to them, by being affected with their miseries, and rejoicing 
in their mercies. Well, these things should quicken us to join with 
others in their thanksgiving for their private mercies, so to raise a 
spiritual affection in us in the performance of those duties. And as 
it is lawful, so it is necessary ; other men's mercies may be our 
mercies as well as theirs ; you are concerned in the mercy if you have 
prayed for it. We are to love God for hearing our prayers for others 
as well as ourselves. Eli gave thanks and solemnly worshipped God 
for Hannah's sake, because he had before prayed for her, and therefore 
praised God for her, who had heard his prayers in her behalf : com 
pare 1 Sam. i/28. When Hannah told him what the Lord had done, 
Eli falls a worshipping the Lord ; he had prayed for her before in ver. 
7, ' The Lord grant thee thy petition which thou askest of him/ 

VER. 74.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 285 

Every answer of prayer is a new proof or fresh experience of God's 
love and special respect to us ; it is a sign that God regardeth us and 
is mindful of us, nay, it is a sign of God's favour, when he will not 
only hear us for ourselves, but for others also. If a man come to a 
king, he will say, If you had asked for yourself I would have granted 
you ; it is a special honour to intercede for others, which God putteth 
upon his choice servants : Gen. xx. 7, ' Abraham shall pray for thee, 
and thou shalt live ;' Job xlii. 8, ' My servant Job shall pray for you, 
and him will I accept.' God will hear his servants for others when 
he will not hear them for themselves. If our prayers had returned 
into our own bosoms, as David's for his enemies, Ps. xxxv. 13 ; if 
God as an answer had given you only the comfort of the discharge of 
your duty : Luke x. 6, 'If they be not worthy, your peace shall return 
to you again ; ' this were matter of praise, much more now the mercy 
is obtained. All this is spoken to show that there should be more 
life and spiritual affection in those duties which we perform in the 
behalf of others. 

2. It informeth us of the excellency of communion of saints ; there 
is such a fellowship and communion between all the members of 
Christ's mystical body, that they mourn together, and rejoice together ; 
the grace vouchsafed to one is cause of rejoicing to all the rest ; they 
drive on a joint trade for heaven, and rejoice in one another's comforts 
as if they were their own, in one another's gifts and graces as if they 
were their own, in one another's supports and deliverances as if they 
were their own. We read of joy in heaven at the conversion of sin 
ners ; they rejoice at our welfare, praising and lauding God ; so there 
is also joy on earth when any spiritual benefit is imparted ; if any be 
gotten to a godlike nature, they give thanks to God : ' They that fear 
thee will be glad when they see me;' Acts iv. 32, ' The multitude of 
them that believed were of one heart and of one soul ;' there was a great 
multitude, many thousand souls. Here was the primitive simplicity, the 
Christians were so united as if they had but one heart and soul among 
them ; and it was a usual saying, Aspice ut se mutuo diligunt Chris- 
Hani see how the Christians love one another. It was otherwise 
afterwards ; no wild beasts are so fierce to one another as one Christian 
has been to another. Surely it concerneth all that fear God and hope 
in his word to be of one heart and of one mind as much as may be. 
Lesser differences should not make void this Christ-like love. The 
bonds of Christ's communion are the essentials of religion, if they 
fear God and hope in his word. Though Christians may be distin 
guished by several denominations, yet an angry brother cannot cast 
us out of our Father's family. We set up walls of partition between 
Christian and Christian, but God will not measure his fold by our 
enclosure: Lingua Petilianinon est ventilabrum Christi it is well Pe- 
tilian's tongue is not Christ's fan. Surely when we meet with our ever 
lasting companions they should be dear to us, and for some private 
differences we should not omit the necessary duties of Christianity. 
This mutual and cordial respect we should have for one another. 

3. It informs us of the mischief and evil of a private spirit, which 
doth not take notice of the favours of God done to others, nor is 
affected with others' mercies. Most men ' seek their own things,' 


Phil. ii. 21. Nature is sensible of nothing but natural bonds, the 
lines of its communication are too narrow, either their own flesh, the 
smart and ease of their own bodies, or their own kindred. Now, the 
saints have a more diffusive love, they can strive with God earnestly 
in prayer for those whose face they never saw in the flesh, Col. ii., 
and can be thankful for their mercies as far as they come to their 
notice. All Christians are not only of the same kind, but of the same 
body ; though they have not a private benefit by the mercy, yet they 
can heartily praise God for it ; the angels praise God for us, Luke ii., 
for his good-will to men, they are only spectators, not the parties 
interested. When the Lord set afoot that blessed design, it was good 
will to men, yet the multitude of the heavenly host rejoiced and 
praised God. We had both honour and benefit by Christ's incarna 
tion. So to praise God for the good of others argueth a good spirit 
like the angels, but to envy the good of another and be grieved 
thereat is devilish, like the spirit of the devil. In heaven we shall 
not only rejoice in our own, but in one another's salvation, because 
there shall be no envy, no privateness of affection. Why are we so 
selfish and senseless now ? ' Who is afflicted and I mourn not ?' said 
Paul. Now to those that mourned for others' calamity, their deliver 
ance is a kind of relief. Will you lose your evidence of being in the 
body for want of rejoicing in their mercies, gifts, and deliverances? 

4. It informeth us (1.) How much itconcerneth us to preserve an 
interest in the hearts of God's people, and to behave ourselves so 
that they that fear God may be glad of our mercies, and bless God 
for them. The communion of saints is a sweet thing ; we must not for 
feit this privilege by our inordinate walking, pride, contention, sour 
ness and bitterness of spirit, unusefulness to the church, as having an 
interest divided from the church. Those whose mercies are appre 
hended as a public benefit are the strictly conscientious, those that 
fear God and hope in his word, who labour to keep themselves from 
the snares of the present world, and look for the happiness of the 
world to come ; the one is the fruit of fearing God, the other of 
hoping in his word the tender conscience and the heavenly-minded 
Christian. Partly because they are our everlasting companions; we 
shall live for ever with them : they were chosen from all eternity to 
be heirs of the same grace together with us ; therefore it is sweet to 
praise God for any good that befalleth them: Ps. Ixvi. 16, ' Come near, 
all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what he hath done for my 
soul ;' Ps. xxii. 22, ' I will declare thy name unto my brethren.' But 
when a man walketh questionably, he obscureth the life of God in 
himself, or, like a string that is out of tune, spoileth the harmony. 
The saints may mourn for the wicked, but they cannot so easily bring 
their hearts to rejoice with them ; they may give thanks for their 
mercies, it is true, 1 Tim. ii. 1, 2, but not with that cheerfulness, 
with that sense. The conscience of our duty engageth us to bless 
God that he hath spared them, reprieved them a little longer, given 
them more time to repent, and correct their errors; but it is very sweet 
to join with them who are our brethren and companions, not only now, 
but to all eternity. And partly because our mercies proceed from the 
covenant, upon which is built all our hope and all our desire, and so 

VER. 74.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 287 

we are edified by the support and help which God affordeth to them 
that fear him and hope in his word ; thereby we see that they that 
wait long wait not in vain on the word of God's promise, and so 
learn to wait with patience ourselves, because those who depended on 
his promised assistance are then answered and supported ; yea, it is a 
ground of hope to all that so many will be gratified by the deliverance 
of one, when we so work for the deliverance of one that at length 
both he and others will have cause to be glad. (2.) Another thing is, 
it doth encourage others' prayers and praises for us, when we are use 
ful and profitable, and bring in that supply to the body which may be 
justly expected from us according to the measure of that part which 
we sustain in the body. Look, as in the natural body the blood and 
the life passeth to and fro, there is a giving and receiving between all 
the members that live in the communion of it, so mutual obligations 
pass between the children of God. Many are interested in their 
mercies that are of use in the church : Bom. v. 7, ' For a good man 
some would even dare to die/ such as David or Paul ; yet this is no 
discouragement to the meanest or weakest, for they have their honour 
and use: 'When ye fail they shall receive you,' Luke xvi. 9; they have 
their ministry and service : ' Now the head cannot say to the foot, I 
have no need of thee,' 1 Cor. xii. 21. (3.) The humble and the 
meek, for the proud procure their own just dislike and disappoint 
ment. Solomon telleth us, ' Only by pride cometh contention,' Prov. 
xiii. 10. Pride is the great impediment and let to all Christian 
offices. We cannot so heartily pray for one another, nor praise God 
for one another, when pride and contention prevaileth. We should 
overcome this stomach and spleen: 'Bless them that curse you;' as 
David fasted for his enemies when they sought his life, Ps. xxxv. 12. 
You should not lay this stumbling-block in the way of their duty ; 
it is a great discouragement. 

5. It informeth us how comfortable and how pleasant the converse and 
conference of godly persons is, and how much it excelleth the merriest 
meetings of the carnal. The special love which the godly have to one 
another doth exceedingly sweeten their converse, for the very presence of 
those we most dearly love is a pleasure to us to see, but much more their 
holy conference. When Christians meet together and find their own 
persuasions of the love, power, mercy and wisdom of God backed with 
the experience and testimony of others, it is a mutual strength and 
support to us ; and therefore the apostle saith, Rom i. 12, ' That I may 
be comforted together with you, by the mutual faith of you and me.' 
When we converse with them that can speak, not by hearsay only, but by 
experience, of the power of the blood of Christ in purifying their con 
sciences, and his Spirit to sanctify their hearts, it is a mighty prop : 
2 Cor. i. 4, ' And that we may comfort others with the comforts where 
with we are comforted of God.' Report of a report is a cold thing, not 
valued, but a report of what we witness and experience ourselves comes 
warmly upon our hearts. Nay, many times it may fall out that people 
of less knowledge, but more feeling and experience, may abundantly 
confirm the more knowing, and excite them to a greater mindfulness 
of God and heavenly things. But alas ! the meetings of carnal per 
sons, what are they to this ? It may be they will fill your ears with stories 


of hawking and hunting, the best wine and delicious meats, of honours 
and purchases in the world, all which tend but to increase the gust 
of the flesh, and the carnal savour which is baneful to us ; or else 
with idle stories, the clatter of vanity, which are impertinent to our 
great end ; or else about the world, thriving in the world : nothing 
about those high and excellent and necessary things of the grace of 
God in Christ, and the truth of the promises, and the glory of the 
world to come: Ps. xxxvii. 30, 31, 'The mouth of the righteous 
speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment : the law of God 
is in his heart ; none of his steps shall slide ; ' and ' The mouth of the 
righteous is as choice silver ;' they have a sense of better things. But 
alas ! from others you hear nothing but unsavoury vanity, which is as 
different from the discourse of the children of God as the melody of a 
bird from the grunting of a hog or swine. 


I knoiv, Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that in faithfulness 
ilwu hast afflicted me. VER. 75. 

WE have need all to prepare for afflictions, for we are to take up our 
cross daily. Now, to help you to a right carriage under them, these 
words, well considered, will be of some use to you ; they are the con 
fession of a humble soul abundantly satisfied with God's dispen 
sations. In them observe : 

1. A general truth or point of doctrine concerning the equity of 
God's judgments, thy judgments, Lord, are right. 

2. A particular application or accommodation of this truth to 
David's case and person, in faithfulness thou hast afflicted me. 

3. His sure and firm persuasion of both, I knoiv. Let us explain 
these branches and parts of the text as they are laid forth. 

1. The general truth, the Lord's judgments are right. In which 
proposition there is the subject and the predicate. The subject or 
things spoken are the Lord's judgments. The word is often put in 
this psalm and elsewhere for God's statutes, or precepts, or righteous 
laws ; and in this sense some take it here, and make out the sense 
thus : ' Lord, I know that thy judgments,' viz., thy precepts, are holy, 
just, and good ; and this persuasion is not lessened in me, though thou 
hast sharply afflicted me : I have as great a value and esteem for thy 
word as ever. But rather, by the Lord's judgments are meant the pas 
sages of his providence, as the latter clause showeth ; those judicial 
dispensations whereby he doth punish the wicked, or correct his chil 
dren. And let it not seem strange that the troubles and afflictions of 
the godly should be called judgments ; for though there be no vindic 
tive wrath in them, yet they are called so upon a double reason : 
partly because they are acts of God's holy justice, correcting and 
humbling his people for sin, according to the sentence of his word. 
Thus it is said, 1 Peter iv. 17, that 'judgment shall begin at the house 
of God ;' where the trials and troubles of the godly are plainly called 

VER. 75.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 289 

judgments. And partly because the Lord judiciously measureth and 
directeth them as the state of his children requireth and their strength 
will bear. So it is said, Jer. x. 24, ' Correct me, but in judgment' 
The first notion implieth God's justice, the second his wisdom. And 
mark, it is said distinctly in the text, ' Thy judgments, Lord.' His 
enemies might unjustly persecute him, but 'thy judgments;' sofarasthe 
Lord hath a hand in it, all was just and right : this is the subject or 
thing spoken of. Secondly, Here is the predicate, or what is said of it, ' are 
right ;' the Hebrew, tsedec ; the Septuagint, ori SiKauxrvw) TO. Kpip^na 
<rov, are righteousness itself ; thy dispensations are wholly made up 
of perfect justice ; how smart soever they be, they are right as to the 
cause, right as to the measure, right as to the end. The first of these 
respects concerneth God's justice, the two other his wisdom. First, 
Right as to the cause ; they never exceed the value of their impulsive : 
Job xxxiv. 23, ' He will not lay upon man more than is right, that 
he should enter into judgment with him.' God never afflicteth his 
people above their desert, nor gives any just occasion to commence a 
suit against his providence. Secondly, Right as to the measure, not 
above the strength of the patient. In his own people's afflictions it is 
BO : Isa. xxvii. 8, ' In measure when it shooteth forth thou wilt debate 
it ; he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind/ God dealeth 
with his own with much moderation, meting out their sufferings in due 
proportion. So Jer. xxx. 11, ' I will correct thee in measure.' Thirdly, 
Right as to their end and use. God knoweth how to strike in the 
right vein, and to suit his providence to the purpose for which it is 
appointed : the kind of the affliction is to be considered as well as the 
measure. The Lord chooseth that rod which is most likely to do his 
work. Paul had a thorn in the flesh, that he might not be exalted 
above measure, 2 Cor. xii. 7. He was a man inured to dangers and 
troubles from without, these were familiar to him, therefore he could 
the better bear them ; but God would humble him by some pain in the 
flesh, which should sit near and close. 

2. The particular accommodation of it to David, ' In faithfulness 
thou hast afflicted me.' Pray mark, in the general case he observeth 
justice; in his own, faithfulness. The book called Midrash Tillim 
referreth these words to David's flight from Absalom, when he went 
to Mount Olivet weeping ; it was an ill time then with David, he had 
no security for his life ; being driven from his house and home, ' He 
went up Mount Olivet, going and weeping/ 2 Sam. xv. 30. Then, 
when so great and sore trouble was upon him, then he saith, ' I know 
that in faithfulness thou hast afflicted me.' Mark the emphasis ; lie 
doth not barely acknowledge that God was faithful, though, or not 
withstanding he had afflicted him, but faithful in sending them. 
Affliction and trouble are not only consistent with God's love plighted 
in the covenant of grace, but they are parts and branches of the new 
covenant administration. God is not only faithful notwithstanding 
afflictions, but faithful in sending them. There is a difference between 
these two; the one is like an exception to the rule, quccfirmai regulam 
in non exceplis ; the other makes it a part of the rule. God cannot be 
faithful without doing all things that tend to our good and eternal 
welfare: the conduct of his providence is one part of the covenant 



engagement : as to pardon our sins, and sanctify us, and give us 
glory at the last, so to suit his providence as our need and profit 
requireth in the way to heaven. It is an act of his sovereign mercy, 
which he hath promised to his people, to use such discipline as con- 
duceth to their safety. In short, the cross is not only an exception to 
the grace of the covenant, but, a part of the grace of the covenant. 
The meaning is, God is obliged in point of fidelity to send sharp 
afflictions : Ps. Ixxxix. 32, ' I will visit their transgression with the 
rod, and their iniquity with stripes.' Sharp rods and sore stripes not 
only may stand and be reconciled with God's loving- kindness and 
truth, but they are effects and expressions of it; it is a part of that 
transaction, viz., his covenant love. 

3. The third thing to be explained is his sense of these truths, ' I 
know.' Knowing implies clearness of apprehension and firmness of 
persuasion ; so that, / know, is I fully understand, or else, I am con 
fident or well assured of this truth. But from whence had David his 
knowledge? how knew he all God's judgments to be right? Not 
from the flesh, or from natural sense. No ; the flesh is importunate to 
be pleased, will persuade us to the contrary. If we consult only with 
natural sense, we shall never believe that, when God is hacking 
and hewing at us, he intendeth our good and benefit, and that 
when sore judgments are upon us, his end is not to destroy, but to 
save, to mortify the sin, and save the person. Sense will teach us 
no such thing, but will surely misinterpret and misexpound the 
Lord's dealings ; for the peace of God is a riddle to a natural heart, 
Phil. iv. 7. Whence then had David his knowledge ? Partly from 
the word of God, and partly from his own observation and particular 

[1.] From the word of God ; for it is a maxim of faith that God can 
do no wrong, that ' he is righteous in all his ways, and just in 'all his 
works,' Ps. cxlv. 17 ; and again, Deut. xxxii. 4, ' He is the rock, his 
work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment and truth, and without 
iniquity ; just and right is he.' These are undeniable truths revealed 
in the word of God, and must satisfy us, whatsoever sense saith to the 
contrary. The causes and end of God's particular judgments are 
sometimes secret, but they are always just: Ps. xcvii. 2, ' Clouds and 
darkness are round about him, but righteousness and truth are the 
habitation of his throne.' Therefore when we see not the reason of 
God's particular dispensations, we must believe the righteousness and 
goodness of them. 

[2.] David knew by his own observation and particular experience : 
he had much studied his own heart, and considered his own ill- 
deservings and soul-distempers, and therefore saw the Lord's discip 
line was necessary for him. We should better understand God's work, 
and sooner justify him both in point of justice and faithfulness, if we 
did use more observation, and did consider what need and profit there 
is of affliction : ' Tribulation worketh experience,' Kom. v. 4, 5. We 
see what need there was of affliction, and how seasonable the Lord's 
work was. This is a more sensible way of knowledge than the former. 
Faith is a surer ground, but spiritual observation hath its benefit. 
Natural conscience 1 doth represent our guilt, but experience showelli 

VER. 75.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 291 

God's faithfulness, how seasonably God took us in our month, and 
suited his providence to our present condition. 

Doct. That it would much quiet the minds of the people of God 
about all the sad dispensations of his providence, if they would seri 
ously consider the justice and faithfulness of them. 

So did David silence all his murmurings when the hand of God was 
sore upon him ; so should we silence all our murmuring, all our sus 
picions of God's dealing, when we are under the cross. I know the 
Lord doth nothing unjust, but is faithful ; he will not retract his 
covenant love, and I know his covenant love binds him to lay on us 
seasonable affliction and correction. I shall do two things : 

First, Illustrate the point by some considerations. 

Secondly, Show that there is much of justice and faithfulness in all 
the troubles and afflictions of God's people. 

Consid. 1. We are not only to grant in the general that God's 
judgments are right, but that he hath in faithfulness afflicted us. So 
doth David, when the stroke of God was heavy upon himself. Many 
will assert the righteousness of God when they speak to others in their 
afflictions, but do not indeed justify him in the afflictions that come 
upon themselves. We are hasty to censure, but backward to humble 
our own souls before God : they will give him the praise of his justice 
when he chasteneth others, but think God dealeth harshly and rigor 
ously with them when his scourge is upon their own backs. Such a 
difference is there between knowledge speculative and experimental, 
between that conscience which we have in others' concernments, and 
that knowledge which self-love giveth us in our own. David here 
doth not only own the general truth, but sees God's faithfulness 
when the stroke lighted upon himself. So Job iv. 3-5, you shall 
see this was objected to Job, that he could comfort others, but now 
the hand of God was upon him, his soul fainted. They that stand 
upon the shore may easily say to those that are in the midst of the 
waves and conflicting for life or death, Sail thus. When we are 
well, we give counsel to the sick ; but if we were so, how would we 
take it ourselves ? So can we say patiently, All is just, and keep 
silence to God ? 

Consid. 2. We must not only grant this truth, that God is faithful, 
when at ease, but when under the sharpest and smartest discipline. 
We use to praise God in prosperity, but we should bless him also 
when he seemeth to deal hardly with us ; speak good of God when 
under the rod. When we view a cross at a distance, or in the doctrinal 
contemplation of this truth, we say that God may exercise us with the 
greatest evil, and that we need these methods to bring us to heaven ; 
but when afflictions come thick, and near, and close, and we are 
deprived of our nearest and dearest comforts, credit, liberty, health, life, 
children, then we have other thoughts. It is more easy to speak of 
trouble than to bear it. We read of Jesus Christ that he learned by 
experience, Heb. v. 8. He had an actual experience by the things 
lie suffered ; and he saith, ' Now is my soul troubled,' John xii. 27. 
There is a vast difference between the most exact apprehension in the 
judgment, and the experimental feeling of it in the senses : the one 
may be without so much vexation as the other will produce. Though 


Christ understood perfectly what his sufferings should be, and had 
resolved upon them, yet when he came to feel it, his very righteous 
soul was under perplexity, as a glass of pure water may be tossed and 
shaken. Affliction is another thing to present sense and feeling than 
it is to guess and imagination. Much more doth it hold good in us, 
for we have not such a perfect foresight of sufferings as Christ had. 
We suppose they may be avoided, or shifted off one way or other. I 
speak this that we may not depend upon our present resolutions when 
out of trouble, but labour to be more prepared than usually we are, 
that when trouble cometh upon us, we may glorify God. 

Consid. 3. This acknowledgment must be the real language of our 
hearts, and not by word of mouth only : thus we must give unto God 
the praise of his truth and righteousness. We tip our tongues with 
good words, and learn such modesty in our language, as to say God is 
just, and do not rave against his providence in wild and bold speeches; 
but justice and faithfulness must be acknowledged not with the tongue 
so much as with the heart. It is the language of the heart which God 
looketh after, when the soul keepeth silence to God, and a due and 
suitable impression is left upon it of his justice, by a meek and humble 
submission : Micah vii. 9, ' I will bear the indignation of the Lord, for 
I have sinned against him.' When God is angry, and chastiseth for 
sin, we must stoop humbly under his afflicting hand, bear it patiently 
and submissively, for the rod is dipped in our own guilt ; that stoppeth, 
our mouths and checketh repinings. So, seeing his faithfulness, it 
maketh us 'accept the punishment of our iniquities,' Lev. xxvi. 41, 
that is, yield to it, as a man would to a bitter potion, or a medicinal 
preparative for his health ; so to afflict is a means to get rid of sin, 
which would be the bane of the soul. 

Consid. 4. It is not enough to acknowledge justice, but we must also 
acknowledge faithfulness ; not only his just severity in the punish 
ments of the wicked, but his fidelity and love in the correction of his 
children : it is not enough that we justify God, and forbear to murmur 
against his afflicting us, but we must see his love and faithfulness in it, 
and that he performeth his covenant love. His wisdom and justice, 
that suppresseth murmurings ; his love and faithfulness, that giveth 
hope, and comfort, and courage : the one concerneth the honour of 
God, he righteth himself by his just judgments; the other concerneth 
our benefit and eternal welfare. Faithfulness is to us, and for our 
good. Pharaoh could own justice: Exod. ix. 27, ' The Lord is right 
eous, but I and my people are wicked.' But it is a higher thing to 
own faithfulness ; that supposeth faith, as the other doth conviction. 
Guilt will sooner fly in our faces, and extort from us an acknowledg 
ment of God's justice, than we can own the grace of the new covenant, 
especially when carnal sense and smart seemeth to speak the con 
trary. The sight of his justice checketh murmurings, the sight of his 
faithfulness fainting and discouragement. God's dispensations are just 
with respect to the sentence of the law, faithful with respect to the 
promises of the gospel. In short, the cause of all affliction is sin, 
therefore justice must be acknowledged ; their end is repentance, and 
therefore faithfulness : the end is not destruction and ruin, so they 
might be acts of justice, as upon the wicked ; but that we may be fit 

VER. 75.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 293 

to receive the promises, such to whom God will perform the promise 
of eternal life, and so acts of faithfulness. 

Consid. 5. Faith must fix this as a ground not once to be ques 
tioned, much less to be doubted of or denied, that God is just, upright, 
and faithful in all his dealings, though weak man be not able to 
conceive the reasons of them. His justice may be dark, as when he 
permitteth us to the will of wicked men, who afflict us without a cause, 
and lay on without any mercy and pity, and God seemeth to befriend 
their cause, at least doth not restrain them, nor give check to their 
fury. We are apt to be tempted to thoughts of rigour and injustice iu 
God's dispensations, but we must consider not men s dealing, but God's. 
It is unjust as to men, but we have no cause to be angry with God, and 
complain of God, as if he did not do right No ; though we do not 
see the reason of it, yet it is just. ' God's judgments are a great deep.' 
We should believe the righteousness and goodness of God in the general, 
Ps. xxxvi. 7, before we can find it out. The people of God have 
maintained their principle, when they have been puzzled and em 
brangled in interpreting God's providence : Jer. xii. 1, ' Righteous art 
thou, Lord, when I plead with thee;' and Ps. Ixxiii. 1, ' Yet God 
is good to Israel.' In all such cases it is best to acknowledge our own. 
ignorance, and rather accuse ourselves of blindness than God of in 
justice. This is a fixed truth, that God is righteous, though we cannot 
so clearly make it out. And sometimes we are tempted to doubt of his 
fidelity and truth, when we feel nothing but the smart of the rod : the 
benefit is future, not an object of sense, but faith ; and it must be 
evident to faith before it is evident to feeling: Heb. xii. 11, 'No 
affliction for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous ; but afterwards 
it bringeth the quiet fruit of righteousness.' When all is sharp and 
hard to sense, faith can see all is for our profit, for our good. Here is 
nothing repugnant to God's truth, nothing but what is necessary to 
make good his truth. Faith must determine it to be, when sense will 
not find it so. God's works are misexpounded when we go altogether 
by present sense, whether internal or external : many times we know 
not what God is about to do, as Christ told Peter: John xiii. 7, 
* What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.' 
That which the Lord is doing tendeth not to ruin and wrath, though 
through our ignorance and mistake we so interpret it Alas ! no 
wonder we are in the dark, when we so judge of his work, who is 
' wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working;' who will not always 
satisfy our sense and curiosity, but chooseth such a way as will most 
suit his intent. But ever in all such cases faith must determine 
that God is just and faithful, and will cast all things for the best, 
though we see it not ; we must assent by faith, when we cannot find it 
by sense internal or external : ' I know in faithfulness thou hast 
afflicted me.' 

Secondly, I am to show you, and to prove to you, that there is much 
of justice and faithfulness to be observed in all the afflictions which 
come upon us. 

First, There is much of justice in all God's judgments. I prove it : 

1. From God's nature : Ps. cxix. 137, ' Righteous art thou, Lord, 
and upright are thy judgments ;' his work is as his being is, holy and 


righteous ; all his providences carry a condecency and becomingness 
with his nature. We presume it of a righteous man that he will do 
righteous things ; and shall not we believe so of the holy God ? We 
cannot be infallibly persuaded of a righteous man, for a righteous man 
may leave his righteousness, because the creature is mutable ; and the 
most righteous and innocent man hath mixed principles, and his rule 
is without him, and sometimes he may hit it, and sometimes swerve 
from it : but God is unchangeable, his will and nature is the supreme 
reason and measure of all things ; his acts are accordingly, he cannot 
err. A carpenter who hath a line in his hand may chop right or 
miss ; but if we could suppose a carpenter whose hand was his rule, 
he would always hit right. We maybe confident the judge of all the 
earth will do right ; his righteousness and the righteousness of men 
differ infinitely more than a candle differeth from the sun : Zeph. iii. 
5, ' The righteous God in the midst of thee will do no iniquity/ God 
will not, yea, he cannot ; it is contrary to his nature. Abraham might 
seek to wriggle out of danger by a shift, Noah might fall into drunken 
ness, Lot pollute himself with incest, Moses trip in his faith, David 
destroy his innocent servant Uriah, Jonah fall into fear and rash anger, 
the angels may depart from their rule, if the divine goodness should 
cease to support them for a moment ; but it is impossible that God, 
who is holiness and righteousness itself, can err and fail in any of his 

2. God never afflicteth or bringeth on judgment without a cause : 
' For this cause many are sick,' 1 Cor. xi. 30 ; there is something done 
on the creature's part before punishment is inflicted. If we consider 
God as the Lord dispensing grace, he acts sovereignly, and according 
to his own will and pleasure : ' Even so, Father, because it pleaseth 
thee,' Mat. xi. 27, for he may do with his own as he pleaseth ; it is no 
wrong to show his grace to some, and pass by others. But if we con 
sider God as a judge, he never punisheth without a foregoing cause on 
the creature's part. God, who is arbitrary in his gifts, is not arbitrary 
in his judgments : there is a rule of commerce between him and his 
creatures, stated and set forth, and allowed and appointed by him, and 
consented unto by us : the directive and counselling part is the rule of 
our obedience, and the sanction or comminatory part is the rule of 
his judicial process. In acts of grace, and in dispensing with the 
violations of his law, he sometimes maketh use of his prerogative, but 
not in punishing, there he keepeth to his law ; and therefore it is that 
the saints do give him the honour of his justice: Dan. ix. 7, '0 
Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of face ; 
for we have sinned, and done wickedly, and have rebelled in departing 
from thy precepts ; ' Neh. ix. 33, ' Thou art just in all that is brought 
upon us ; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly : ' all 
our trouble is the penalty of his broken law justly inflicted on us. In 
short, the breach is first on our part, there is some violation of his law 
or contempt of his grace ; but God loveth us first, there he hath the 
precedency ; he beginneth in all acts of grace, but the reason of his 
judicial dispensations is first with us. We are first in the offence, and 
provide fuel for his wrath before it break out upon us. 

3. When there is cause given, God doth not presently take it, but 

VKR. 75.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 295 

giveth sinners lime in his process against them, and doth not presently 
execute the sentence of his word till they are found incorrigible. He 
giveth them warning before he striketh ; he wooeth and soliciteth by 
many kind messages to return to their duty, and speaketh to them 
sometimes in the rough, sometimes in the still voice : ' He bringeth his 
judgment to light every morning,' as the prophet speaketh, Zeph. iii. 
5 ; lie doth so delight in mercy, and is so tender of the workmanship 
of his hands, especially his own people, that he never proceedeth to 
severity as long as there is some way imessayed to reclaim them, not 
yet made use of. As one that would open a door, and knows not the 
key; he tries key after key, one dispensation after another; he doth not 
take the sinner at first word, butfolloweth him with frequent warning* 
of his danger, with offers of advantage if he return ; yea, at last he is 
loath to give them up to severe judgments, even then when he can 
scarce without imputation to his holiness forbear any longer: Hosea 
xi. 8, ' How shall I give thee up ? I am God, and not man.' Such 
expostulations and speeches are very frequent in the prophets ; and all 
these speeches do abundantly justify God when he judgeth : he would 
fain hold off the extremity of judgments deserved by them; the Lord 
maketh a stand, and would fain be prevented before he proceedeth to 
his strange work. 

4. The judgments inflicted are always short of the cause, surely they 
never exceed the value of it : Ezra ix. 13, ' Thou hast punished us less 
than we have deserved.' God doth not exact the whole debt of sinners 
which they owe to his justice. It was a heavy stroke that then lighted 
upon Jerusalem. Was their wound but a scratch, or affliction little ? 
Doleful and sad ruin was brought upon that place, the city and the 
temple burnt to ashes, the people carried captive to a strange land ; yet 
4 Thou hast punished us less than we have deserved.' They were in 
Babylon, they might have been in hell ; our reward is always more 
than our desert, but our punishment is always less than our de 
sert. We count it a favour if forfeiture of life be punished with 
banishment, or if a sentence of banishment be commuted into a fine, or 
the fine be mitigated and brought lower ; and shall we think God 
dealeth rigorously with us ? When he layeth on some heavy cross, 
lie might have cast us into hell, and laid his hand upon us for ever. 
See Job xi. 6, ' O know, therefore, that God exacteth of thee less than 
thine iniquity deserveth.' We have low thoughts of sin, and therefore 
have grievous apprehensions of God's judgments. We do but sip of 
the cup, when God might make us drink of the dregs of it. 

Secondly, I am to prove that the godly may discern much of faithful 
ness in their afflictions ; this will appear to you by these considerations : 

1. In the covenant of grace God hath promised to bestow upon his 
people real and principal mercies; these are promised absolutely, 
other things conditionally. God doth not break his "covenant if he 
doth not give us temporal happiness, because that is not absolutely 
promised, but only so far forth as it may be good for us ; but eternal 
life is promised without any such exception unto the heirs of promise. 
Eternal promises arid threatenings, being of things absolutely good or 
evil, are therefore absolute and peremptory ; the righteous shall not 
fail of the reward, nor the wicked escape the punishment ; but tern- 


poral promises and threatenings being of things not simply good or 
evil, are reserved to be dispensed according to God's wisdom and good 
pleasure, in reference and subordination to eternal happiness. It is 
true it is said, 1 Tim. iv. 8, that ' godliness hath the promise of this 
life, and that which is to come ; ' but with this reference, that the less 
gives place to the greater ; if the promises of this life may hinder us 
in looking after the promises of the life to come, God may take the 
liberty of the cross, and withhold these things, and disappoint us of 
our worldly hope. A man lying under the guilt of sin may many 
times enjoy worldly comforts to the envy of God's children, and one of 
God's children may be greatly afflicted and distressed in the world, 
for in all these dispensations God looketh to his end, which is to make 
us eternally happy. 

2. This being God's end, he is obliged in point of fidelity to use all 
the means that conduce thereunto, that he may attain his eternal pur 
pose in bringing his holy ones to glory : Rom. viii. 28, ' All things 
shall work together for good to them that love God.' Good ! what 
good ? It may be temporal, so it falls out sometimes a man's tem 
poral good is promoted by his temporal loss : Gen. 1. 20, ' Ye thought 
evil against me, but God meant it for good ; ' they sold their brother a 
slave, but God meant him to be a great potentate in Egypt. It may 
be spiritual good: Ps. cxix. 71, 'It is good for me that I have been 
afflicted.' But, to be sure, eternal good, to bring about his eternal 
purpose of making them everlastingly happy. And in this sense the 
apostle saith, ' All things are yours/ 1 Cor. iii. 22. Ordinances, provi 
dences, life, death, all dispensed with a respect to their final happiness 
or eternal benefit; not only ordinances to work internal grace, but provi 
dences as an external help and means ; for God having set his end, he 
will prosecute it congruously, and as it may agree with man's nature, 
by external providences as well as internal grace. See Ps. cxxv. 3, 
' The rod of the wicked shall not always rest upon the back of the 
righteous.' God hath power enough to give them grace to bear it, 
though the rod had continued ; and can keep his people from iniquity, 
though the rod be upon them ; but he considereth the imbecility of 
man's nature, which is apt to tire under long afflictions, and therefore 
not only giveth more grace, but takes off the temptation. He could 
humble Paul without a thorn in the flesh, 2 Cor. xii. 7, but he will use 
a congruous means. 

3. Among these means, afflictions, yea, sharp afflictions, are some of 
those things which our need and profit requireth ; they are needful to 
weaken and mortify sin : Isa. xxvii. 9, ' By this shall the iniquity of 
Jacob be purged ;' to increase and quicken grace: Heb. xii. 10, 'But 
he chasteneth us for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holi 
ness.' Without this discipline we should forget God and ourselves ; 
therefore, that we may return to God, he afflicts us : Hosea v. 15, 'In 
their afflictions they will seek me early;' and come to ourselves : Luke 
xv. 17, the prodigal ' came to himself.' Afflictions are necessary for 
us upon the former suppositions, namely, that God hath engaged him 
self to perfect grace where it is begun, and to use all means which 
may conduce to our eternal welfare, that we may not miscarry and 
come short of our great hopes: 1 Cor. xi. 32, 'When we are judged, 

VER. 75.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 297 

we are chastened of the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the 
world/ The carnal reprobate world are left to a looser and larger dis 
cipline. Brambles are not pruned when vines are. New creatures 
require a more close inspection than others do. Self-confidence and 
spiritual security are apt to grow upon them ; therefore, to mortify our 
self-confidence, to awaken us out of spiritual sleep, we need to be 
afflicted, and also to quicken and rouse up a spirit of prayer. We 
grow cold and flat, and ask mercies for form's sake : Isa. xxvl 16, 
' Lord, in trouble have they visited thee, they poured out a prayer when 
thy chastening was upon them.' And that we may be quickened to a 
greater mindfulness of heavenly things. The best of us, when we get a 
carnal pillow under our heads, are apt to sleep secure. God will not 
let us alone to our ruin, but afflicts us that we may be refined from the 
dregs of the flesh, and that our gust and relish of heavenly things may 
be recovered, and that we may be quickened to a greater diligence in 
the heavenly life. Look, as earthly parents are not faithful to their 
children's souls when they live at large, and omit that correction 
which is necessary for them : Prov. xxix. 15, ' The rod and reproof 
give wisdom, but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.' 
The mother is mentioned, because they are usually more fond and in 
dulgent, and spare many times, and mar the child ; but our heavenly 
Father will not be unfaithful, who is so wise that he will not be blinded 
by any passion, hath such a perfect love, and does so fixedly design 
our eternal welfare, that he rebuketh that he may reform, and reformeth 
that he may save. 

4. God's faithfulness about the affliction is twofold in bringing on 
the affliction, and guiding the affliction. 

[1.] In bringing on the affliction, both as to the time and kind, 
when our need requireth, and such as may do the work : 1 Peter i. 6, 
' Ye are in heaviness for a season, if need be.' When some distemper 
was apt to grow upon us, and we were straggling from our duty : Ps. 
cxix. 67, ' Before I was afflicted I went astray.' Some disappointment 
and check we meet with in a way of sin, which is a notable help in the 
spiritual life, where God giveth a heart to improve it. 

[2.] As to guiding the affliction both to measure and continuance, 
that it may do us good and not harm : 1 Cor. x. 13, ' God is faithful, 
who will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able to bear, 
but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be 
able to bear it.' Violent temptations are not permitted where the 
Lord seeth us weak and infirm ; as Jacob drove as the little ones were 
able to bear. So when the temptation continued is like to do us hurt, 
either God will remove it 2 Thes. iii. 3, ' Faithful is the Lord, who 
will establish and keep you, UTTO TOV irovrjpov, from the evil ; ' the per 
secutions of unreasonable men are there intended or else support them 
under it : 2 Cor. xii. 9, ' My grace is sufficient for thee/ 

Use 1. To check and reprove divers evils which are apt to grow upon 
our spirits in our troubles. 

1. Murmuring and repining thoughts against God's providence. 
Why should we murmur and complain, since we justly suffer what 
we suffer, and it is the Lord's condescension that he will make some 
good use of these sufferings to our eternal happiness, that we may be 


capable of everlasting consolation? Hisjustice should stop murmurings: 
Lam.iii. 39, 'Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the 
punishment of his sins?' If he complain, he can complain of none 
but himself ; that evil choice he hath made for his own soul, which it- 
may be he would never have thought of but upon this occasion. Hi? 
punishment here carrieth no proportion with his offence ; it is punish 
ment in the singular number, sins in the plural ; one punishment for 
many acts of sin : and a living man, on this side hell, what is this to 
everlasting torments ? Life cannot be without many blessings to 
accompany it ; while living we may see an end of this misery, or have 
time to escape those eternal torments which are far worse. The form 
of the words showeth why we should thus expostulate with ourselves, 
'Wherefore doth a living man complain?' Why do we complain? 
God hath not cut us off from the land of the living, nor cast us into 
hell ; it is the punishment of sin, and is far less than we have de 
served. Again, the faithfulness of God checketh murmurings. God 
knoweth what way to take with us to bring us to glory; therefore 
trust yourselves in God's hands, and let him take his own methods : 
' Commit your souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful creator/ 
1 Peter iv. 19. He is TTKTTOS /mem?? ; as he is a creator, he doth not 
love to destroy the work of his hands ; as he is faithful in his covenant, 
he will take the best and safest course to bring you to heaven. 

2. Let it check immoderate sorrow and uncomely dejection of spirit ; 
he is just in the afflictions of his people, but yet so that he is also 
faithful ; he is a father when he beateth and indulgeth, when he smiles 
and when he frowns. Afflictions do not make void our adoption, they 
rather increase our confidence of it, Heb. xii. 5. Whatever we do 
upon other reasons, we should not suspect his love because of our afflic 
tions. God's strokes do not make void his promises, nor doth he retract 
his gift of pardon when he chastiseth. Mere crosses and troubles are 
not an argument of God's displeasure, but acts of his faithfulness ; so 
that we have reason to give thanks for his discipline, rather than ques 
tion his love. In the book of Job it is made a mark of his love, as in 
those words which are so frequent, Job vii. 17, 18, ' What is man that 
thou art mindful of him ? that thou chastiseth him every morning, and 
triest him every moment ? ' We are not only beneath his anger, but 
unworthy of his care, as if a prince should take upon him to form the 
manners of a beggar's child ; it is a condescension that the great God 
should deal with us, and suit his providences for our good. 

3. This should check our fears and cares ; his judgments are right 
and full of faithfulness ; he will bear us through all our trials, and 
make an advantage of them, and perfect that grace which he hath 
begun, and finally bring us to eternal glory. The Lord's faithfulness 
in keeping promises is often propounded as a strong pillar of the saints' 
confidence : 1 Cor. i. 9, ' Faithful is God, by whom ye are called ;' 1 
Thes. v. 24, ' Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.' He 
dispenseth all things with respect to our eternal welfare. But I am 
afraid of myself ; I have provoked the Lord to leave me to myself ; 
but the Lord will pardon weaknesses when they are confessed : 1 John 
i. 9, ' If we confess our sins, he is just and faithful to forgive them,' 
speaking to reconciled believers; and when we fall, the Lord l^ath 

VER. 75.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 299 

ways and means to raise us up again, that we perish not ; by checks 
of conscience : 2 Sam. xxiv. 10, ' And David's heart smote him when 
he had numbered the people ;' Ps. cxix. 59, ' I thought on my ways,' 
&c. ; by the word, as Nathan roused up David, ' Thou art the man.' 
God, that foresaw all things, hath ordered them so that nothing shall 
cross his eternal purpose and promise -made to us in Christ. 

Use 2. Let us acknowledge God's justice and faithfulness in all 
things that befall us. For motives, consider 

1. It is much for the honour of God, Ps. li. 4, that, under the cross, 
we should have good thoughts of God, and clear him in all that he 
saith and doth, see love in his rebukes. 

2. It is for our profit ; it is the best way to obtain grace to bear 
afflictions, or to get deliverance out of them. When God hath 
humbled his people, exercised their grace, he will restore to them 
their wonted privileges ; he waiteth for the creatures' humbling, Lev. 
xxvi. 41, 42. 

For means : 

[1.] You must be one in covenant with God, for to them the dis 
pensations of God come marked not only with justice, as to all, but 
faithfulness: Ps. xxv. 10 'All the ways of the Lord are mercy and 
truth to them that keep his covenant.' 

[2.] You must examine yourselves; the Lord complains of the 
neglect of this, that when they were in affliction they would not con 
sider : Jer. viii. 6, ' No man said, What have I done ?' If you would 
consider, you would see cause enough to justify God : Lam. iii. 39, 40, 
' Wherefore doth a living man complain ? Let us search and try our 
ways, and turn to the Lord.' 

[3.] You must observe providence, and your hearts must be awake 
and attend to it : Ps. cvii. 43, ' Whoso is wise, and will observe these 
things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord ;' 
Eccles. vii. 14, ' In the day of adversity consider.' 

[4.] You must be such as value not your happiness by the increase 
or decrease of worldly comforts, but by the increase or decrease of 
grace in your souls : 2 Cor. iv. 16, ' For this cause we faint not, 
because, though our outward man perish, yet our inward man is 
renewed day by day.' If you value yourselves by your outward condi 
tion, you will still be imbrangled ; you should more highly esteem of 
and be more solicitous about the welfare of your souls in a time of 
affliction than of all things else in the world : and you will more easily 
submit and more wisely consider of his doing, and the better under 
stand your interest. When the main care is about your souls, you 
will value other losses the less, as long as your jewel is in safe hands. 

[5.] You must resign your souls to God entirely without exception, 
refer yourselves to his methods, and let him take his own way to bring 
you to everlasting glory. When you do with quietness of heart put 
yourselves into God's hands, as being persuaded of his love and faith 
fulness, you will be the sooner satisfied in God's providence, seeing he 
doth all things well. The apostle bids them, 1 Peter iv. 19, put 
your souls in Christ's hands, and hold on your duty with courage and 
confidence, cheerfully and constantly. You have no reason to doubt 
but Christ will take the custody and charge of the soul that is com- 


mitted to him : 2 Tim. i. 12, ' I know whom I have believed, that he 
is able to keep that I have committed to him.' Venture your souls in 
this bottom ; he hath power to keep it, he hath pawned his faithfulness 
in the promise. 


Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according 
to thy word unto thy servant. VER. 76. 

IN the foregoing verse he had acknowledged that God had afflicted 
him, and now he prayeth that God would comfort him. The same 
hand that woundeth must heal, and from whom we have our affliction 
we must have our comfort : Hosea vi. 1, ' Come, let us return unto 
the Lord ; for he hath torn, and he will heal us ; he hath smitten, and 
he will bind us up.' Affliction is God's judicial act, a kind of putting 
the creature in prison; which being done by the supreme judge, who 
hath an absolute power to save and to destroy, to ruin or pardon, there 
is no breaking prison or getting out without his leave. 

He doth there not only speak of affliction, but of the justice and 
faithfulness which God showed in it. 

1. Justice. Those that humbly confess the justice of his strokes 
may with the more confidence implore his mercy. Judgment hath 
done its work when the creature is humble and penitent, There lieth 
an appeal then from the tribunal of his justice to the throne of his 
grace. Though our sins deserve affliction, yet there is comfort in the 
merciful nature of God and the promises of the gospel. David first 
acknowledgeth that he was justly afflicted, and then he flieth to mercy 
and beggeth comfort. 

2. He observeth also a faithfulness in all God's dispensations ; he 
doth not afflict his children to destroy them, but to prepare them for 
the greater comfort. As one of his children and servants, David sueth 
out his privilege. God, that is just and true, will also be kind and 
merciful. To have judgment without mercy, and desolation without 
consolation, is the portion of the wicked : but, Lord, saith he, ' I am 
thy servant,' therefore ' I pray thee let thy merciful kindness be for 
my comfort.' 

So that you see this request is fitly grafted upon the former acknow 
ledgment. In it observe 

1. The original cause of all the good which we expect, thy merciful 

2. The effect now sued for, be for my comfort, or to comfort me. 

3. The instrument or means of obtaining it, which is double : 
[1.1 On God's part, the word, according to thy word. 

[2.J On our part, prayer, let, I pray thee. 

(1.) In the word there is the relief discovered and offered, and 
thereby we are encouraged and assured. 

(2.) On our part there is prayer, in which we act faith and spiritual 

VER. 76.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 301 

(3.) We have hope given in the word, and we sue it out hy prayer. 

(4.) The subject capacitated to receive this effect, from that cause, 
in this order, iliy servant, 

Doct. That the people of God have liberty, and much encouragement 
from God's merciful nature and promises, to ask comfort in their 

This point will be best discussed by going over the parts and 
branches of the text as they have been laid forth to you. 

First, The primary and principal cause of all comfort is the merciful 
kindness of God. We read in 2 Cor. i. 3, that he is ' the father of 
mercies;' and then it presently followeth, that he is 'the God of all 
comfort.' The remedy of all our evils lieth in the mercy of God, and 
his kindness and goodness is the fountain of all our blessedness. I 
shall inquire 

1. What his merciful kindness is. 

2. What special encouragement this is to the people of God. 

1. What his merciful kindness is. You see here is a compound 
word, which importeth both his pity and his bounty. Here is merci 
fulness and kindness mentioned. First, His mercifulness. Mercy 
hath its name from misery. Misericordia is nothing else but the 
laying of the misery of others to heart, with intention of affording 
them relief and succour. In God it noteth his readiness to do good 
to the miserable, notwithstanding sin. The motion cometh from 
within, from his own breast and bowels : for ' our God is pitiful and of 
tender mercy/ James v. 11 ; and the act of it is extended and reached 
out unto the creature in seasonable relief, for the throne of grace was 
erected for this purpose, Heb. iv. 11. Two tilings there are in mercy 
(1.) A propension and inclination to commiserate the afflicted ; (2.) 
A ready relief and succour of them according to our power, ajffec- 
tus et effeclus. (1.) There is a compassion or being affected with the 
misery of others. This properly cannot be in God, in whom as there is 
no passion, so strictly speaking there is no compassion. Yet some 
thing analogous there is, a taking notice of our misery, something like 
a pity arising in his heart upon the sight of it, which the scripture 
frequently ascribeth to God, and we can best understand as we con 
sider the divine perfections shining forth in the human nature of 
Christ : Exod. ii. 24, he ' heard their groaning ; ' and Isa. Ixiii. 9, 
' In all their afflictions he was afflicted ; ' Judges x. 16, ' His soul was 
grieved for the misery of Israel ; ' forms of speech taken from the 
manner of men, who use to be thus affected when they see a miserable 
object. God in his simple and perfect nature cannot be said either to 
joy or grieve, but he carrieth himself as one thus affected. Or these 
expressions were laid in aforehand to suit with the divine perfections 
ns manifested in Christ, who is touched with a feeling of our infirm 
ities. (2.) Mercy noteth the actual exhibition of help and relief to 
the miserable. When his people cry to him, he runneth to the cry : 
Ps. Ixxviii. 38, ' He being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity 
and destroyed them not ; yea, many a time turned he his anger away, 
and did not stir up all his wrath.' Mark, there God's forgiving the 
iniquity was not inflicting the temporal punishment or destroying the 
sinner presently ; the cause of all was not any good in the sinner, but 


pity in God, that moved him to spare them for the time. So he doth 
sometimes for those that cry to him but in a natural manner, as a beast 
maketh its moan when it is in pain. But much more will his com- 

surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.' When Ephraim was 
bewailing his sins, God taketh notice of it, and returneth an answer 
full of fatherly affection, that he would surely show him mercy. 
God's compassion proceedeth from love as the cause, and produceth re 
lief as the effect. Secondly, the next word is kindness ; that noteth the 
bounty of God, or his free inclination to do good without our merit, and 
against our merit. The cause is not in us, but himself. We draw an 
ill picture of God in our minds, as always angry and ready to destroy. 
No ; the Lord is kind, and that many times to ' the unthankful and to 
the evil,' Luke vi. 35. We should all enlarge our thoughts more about 
God's merciful nature, that we may love him more, that we may not 
keep off from him. As long as we think he delighteth in the creature's 
misery, or seeketh occasions of man's ruin and destruction, God is 
made hateful. No ; you must conceive of him as one that is kind, 
that ' doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men,' Lam. 
iii. 33, but is ready to do good upon all occasions. We need not fear 
any hurt from God, but what we willingly bring upon ourselves. He 
destroyeth not humble souls that lie at his feet, and would have mercy 
upon his own terms. 

2. What encouragement this is to the people of God. 

[1.] It is an encouragement, because the object of mercy is 
misery. Mercy is favour shown to a miserable person. Now, 
the more sense of our misery, especially of our true misery, which 
is sin, the greater hopes. So that the broken-hearted are more 
capable of his mercy than others are. God will ' revive the spirit 
of the contrite ones,' Isa. Ivii. 15-17. He taketh care to comfort 
them and to look after them, whatever be neglected, Isa. Ix. 2. 
None are so apt to presume of mercy as the careless, nor none less 
capable of mercy, or more deserve judgment. While we make nothing 
of sin it is easy to believe mercy. In a time of peace sin is nothing, 
vanity and carnality nothing, a negligent course of profession nothing, 
vain talk, idle mis-spence of time, pleasing the flesh with all it craveth 
is nothing, and there needeth no such niceness and strictness God is 
merciful ; but when the conscience is awakened, and we see our ac 
tions with their due aggravations, especially at the hour of death, and 
when earthly comforts fail, then it is hard to believe God's mercy. 
Sin is a blacker thing than they did imagine, and they find it another 
manner of thing than ever they thought of ; and the same unbelief 
that now weakens their faith about their duty, and what belongeth to 
their duty, doth now weaken their faith about their comfort, and what 
belongeth to their comfort. Those that now question precepts will 
then question promises. Well, then, the careless and negligent are 
not capable objects of the tenders of mercy ; but the sensible, and the 
contrite, and the serious, these are the fittest objects, though they 
think themselves farthest off from mercy. Those that have a deep 

Vi;i:. 76.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 303 

sense of their own unworthiness most see a need of mercy, and most 
admire mercy, Gen. xxxii. 10. They see that mercy doth all, that 
there is somewhat of the pity and kindness of God in all things vouch 
safed. They apprehend they are always in some necessity, or in some 
dependence, and they are unworthy, and that it is at God's mercy to 
continue or take away any comfort they have. Health, liberty, 
strength, all is dipped in mercy, continued in mercy, restored at 

[2.] It is an encouragement to us, because the scripture saith so 
much of this mercy in God. Id agit iota scriptura, ut credamus 
in Deum, saith Luther. It is natural to him : 1 Cor. i. 3, ' The 
father of mercies/ not pater ultionum, but misericordiarum ; he is 
as just as he is merciful, but he delighteth in the exercise of one 
attribute more than the other Micah vii. 18, the other his ' strange 
work.' There is a fulness and plenty, abundant mercy, 1 Peter i. 
3 ; and Ps. li. 1, ' According to the multitude of thy tender mercies.' 
Our wants are many, and so are our sins ; only plentiful mercy can 
supply and overcome them. They are tender mercies, compared with 
those of a father and a mother. Of a father : Ps. ciii. 13, 'As a 
father pitieth his children, so doth the Lord pity those that fear him.' 
We need not much entreat a father to pity his child in misery. An 
earthly father may be ignorant of our misery, as Jacob in Joseph's 
case : an earthly father pitieth foolishly, but God wisely, when it is 
most for our benefit ; an. earthly father's pity may go no further than 
affection, and cannot always help his children and relieve their misery. 
But God, as he is metaphorically said to have the affection, so he hath 
an all-sufficient power to remove any evil present, or avert that which 
is imminent. With that of a mother : Isa. xlix. 15, ' Can a woman 
forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the 
son of her womb ? yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee,' saitli 
the Lord. In the general, passions in females are more vehement, 
especially in human creatures ; the mother expresseth the greatest ten 
derness and largeness of love. God hath the wisdom of a father and 
bowels of a mother. Mark, it is not to an adopted child, but to her 
own son, her sucking child that hangeth on her breast, cannot sub 
sist without the mother's care. Mothers are wont to be most chary 
and tenderly affected towards them, poor helpless infants and children, 
that cannot shift for themselves ; nature hath impressed this disposi 
tion on them. Suppose some of them should be so unnatural as to 
forget their sucking babes, which is a case rare to be found, yet ' I 
will not forget you,' saith the Lord. They are durable compassions : 
' His compassions fail not,' Lam. iii. 22. They are continual mercies, 
supplying daily wants, pardoning daily failings, bestowing daily mercies. 
Oh, that the miserable and the wretched, those that find themselves so, 
could .believe this and plead this, and cast themselves in the arms of 
this merciful Father ! Surely the penitent are not more ready to ask 
than he to give : ' Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace/ 
Heb. iv. 16. Let not our sins keep us from him ; our misery rather 
than our worthiness is an object of his mercy. 

[3.] His mercy is more to his people than to others. There is a 
general mercy and a special mercy. (1.) There is a general mercy 


by which God sustaineth and helpeth any creature that is in misery, 
especially man : so Christ calleth him merciful as he showeth himself 
' kind to the unthankful and evil,' Luke vi. 36. Had it not been for 
this mercy the world had been long since reduced into^ its ancient 
chaos, and the frame of nature dissolved. (2.) There is a special 
mercy which he showeth to his people, pardoning their sins, sanctify- 
in- their hearts, accepting their persons. So ' of his mercy hath he 
saved us,' Titus iii. 4, 5 ; ' Quickened us ;' Eph. ii. 4, 5, ' God, who is 
rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we 
were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ/ This 
showeth God hath more mercy for his people than for others. Now 
this is a great encouragement, he that took pity upon us in our lost 
estate, and did then pardon our sins freely, will he n