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


Shell No. 

NO *<>:>*? 







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

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

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

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

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

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

General tfDitor. 












SERMON CIV. " Thou, through thy commandments, hast made 
me wiser than mine enemies ; for they are ever 
with me," ver. 98, , . .3 

CV. " I have more understanding than all my teachers : 

for thy testimonies are my meditation," ver. 99, 9 

CVI. " I understand more than the ancients, because I 

keep thy precepts," ver. 100, . . .14 

CVII. " I have refrained my feet from every evil way, 

that I might keep thy word," ver. 101, . 25 

CVIII. " I have not departed from thy judgments : for 

thou hast taught me," ver. 102, . . 36 

; , CIX. " How sweet are thy words unto my taste ! yea, 

sweeter than honey to my mouth," ver. 103, . 43 

CX. " Through thy precepts I get understanding : 

therefore I hate every false way," ver. 104, . 53 

CXI. " Therefore I hate every false way," ver. 104, . 59 

CXII. " Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light 

unto my path," ver. 105, . . .64 

CXIII. " Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light 

unto my path," ver. 105, . . .74 

CXIV. " I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will 

keep thy righteous judgments," ver. 106, . 80 

CXV. " I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will 

keep thy righteous judgments," ver. 106, . 88 



SERMON CXVI. " I am afflicted very much : quicken me, 

Lord, according unto thy word," ver. 107, 94 

CXVII. "Quicken me, Lord, according unto thy 

word," ver. 107, . .100 

CXVIII. " Accept, I beseech thee, the free-will-offer 
ings of my mouth, Lord, and teach me 
thy judgments," ver. 108, . 106 

GXIX. " My soul is continually in my hand : yet do 

I not forget thy law," ver. 109, . . 114 

CXX. " The wicked have laid a snare for me ; yet I 

erred not from thy precepts," ver. 110, . 127 

CXXI. " Thy testimonies have I taken as an heri 

tage for ever : for they are the rejoicing 
of my heart," ver. Ill, . . .134 

CXXII. "Thy testimonies have I taken as an heri 

tage for ever : for they are the rejoicing 
of my heart," ver. Ill, . . -141 

,, CXXIII. " I have inclined my heart to perform thy 

statutes always to the end," ver. 112, . 148 

CXXIV. " I hate vain thoughts : but thy law do 1 

love," ver. 113, . . .155 

CXXV. " Thou art my hiding-place and my shield : 

I hope in thy word," ver. 114, . . 166 

CXXVI. " Depart from me, ye evil-doers : for I will 

keep the commandments of my God," 
ver. 115, . . . .177 

,, CXX VII. "Uphold me according unto thy word, that 
I may live ; and let me not be ashamed 
of my hope," ver. 116, . . .188 

CXX VIII. "And let me not be ashamed of my hope. 
Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe ; 
and I will have respect unto thy statutes 
continually," ver. 116, 117, . . 198 

CXXIX. " Thou hast trodden down all them that err 

from thy statutes : for their deceit is false 
hood," ver. 118, . . . 208 

CXXX. " Thou puttest away all the wicked of the 

earth like dross : therefore I love thy 
testimonies," ver. 119, . 220 


SERMON CXXXI. "My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and 

I am afraid of thy judgments," ver. 120, 230 

CXXXII. " I have done judgment and justice : leave 

me not to mine oppressors," ver. 121, . 238 

CXXXIII "Be surety for thy servant for good: let 

not the proud oppress me," ver. 122, . 248 

CXXXIV. "Be surety for thy servant for good: let 

not the proud oppress me," ver. 122, . 257 

CXXXV. "Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for 

the word of thy righteousness," ver. 123, 263 

CXXXVI. "Deal with thy servant according to thy 
mercy, and teach me thy statutes," ver. 

124, . . . . . 273 

CXXXVII. " I am thy servant ; give me understanding, 
that I may know thy testimonies," ver. 

125, . . . t . 285 

CXXXVIII. "It is time for thee, Lord, to work; for 

they have made void thy law," ver. 126, 296 

CXXXIX. " Therefore I love thy commandments above 

gold; yea, above fine gold," ver. 127, . 307 

CXL. "Therefore I esteem all thy precepts con 

cerning all things to be right ; and I 
hate every false way," ver. 128, . . 320 

CXLI. "Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore 

doth my soul keep them," ver. 129, . 333 

CXLII. "Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore 

doth my soul keep them," ver. 129, . 342 

,. CXLIII. " The entrance of thy word giveth light ; it 

giveth understanding to the simple," 
ver. 130, . . . . 346 

CXLIV. " I opened my mouth, and panted : for I 

longed for thy commandments," ver. 
131, . . . . .357 

CXLV. " Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto 

me, as thou usest to do unto those that 
love thy name," ver. 132, . . 365 

vili p CONTENTS. 


SERMON CXLVI. " As thou usest to do unto those that love 

thy name," ver. 132, . .371 

CXLVII. " Order my steps in thy word : and let not 

any iniquity have dominion over me," 
ver. 133, . . . .381 

CXLVIII. "And let not any iniquity have dominion 

over me," ver. 133, . . 389 

CXLIX. "Deliver me from the oppression of man: so 

will I keep thy precepts," ver. 134, . 398 

CL. " Make thy face to shine upon thy servant ; 

and teach me thy statutes," ver. 135, . 408 

CLI. "Eivers of water run down mine eyes, be 

cause they keep not thy law," ver. 136, 420 

GUI. " Eivers of water run down mine eyes, be 

cause they keep not thy law," ver. 136, 431 

CLIII. "Kighteous art thou, Lord, and upright 

are thy judgments," ver. 137, . . 437 

., , CLIV. "Kighteous art thou, Lord, and upright 

are thy judgments," ver. 137, . . 447 

CLV. "Thy testimonies, which thou hast com 
manded, are righteous and very faith 
ful," ver. 138, . . . .454 

., CLVI. " My zeal hath consumed me, because mine 

enemies have forgotten thy words," ver. 
139, . . . .465 

CLVIL " Thy word is very pure : therefore thy 

servant loveth it," ver. 140, . . 477 

CLVIII. "I am small and despised; yet do I not 

forget thy precepts," ver. 141, . 489 





Thou, through thy commandments, hast made me wiser than mine 
enemies; for they are ever with me. VER. 98. 

I COME now to the second consideration, they are wiser than their 
enemies as to security against their attempts, and that enmity and 
opposition that they carry on against them ; they are far more safe by 
walking under the covert of God's protection, than their enemies can 
possibly be, to have all manner of worldly advantages. I shall prove 
it by this argument, because they are more prepared and furnished as 
to all events. A godly wise man is careful to keep in with God ; he is 
more prepared and furnished, can have a higher hope, more expectation 
of success, than others have ; or if not, he is well enough provided 
for, though things fall out never so cross to his desires. 

1. As to success. Who hath made wiser provision, think you, he 
that hath made God his friend, or he that is borne up with worldly 
props and dependences ? they that are guided by the Spirit of God, or 
they that are guided by Satan ? those that make it their business to 
walk with God step by step, or those that not only forsake him, but 
provoke him to his face ? those that break with men and keep in with 
God, or those that break with God ? Surely a child of God hath more 
security from piety than his enemies can have by secular policy, 
whereby they think to overreach and ruin him. The safety of a 
child of God lieth in two things (1.) God is his friend ; (2.) As 
long as God hath work for him to do, he will maintain him and bear 
him out in it. 

[1.] God is his friend ; and that must needs be a man's wisdom 
when he complies with the will of him upon whom he depends. All 
things do absolutely depend upon the providence of God ; he hath wis 
dom^ strength and dominion over all events. The wisdom of God is 
on his side, and therefore it is but the wisdom of men against him. If 
the difference only lay between men and men, the craft and policy of 
their enemies and their own craft and policy, the scales would soon 
break of their enemies' side, for they are wiser in their generation, Luke 
xvi. They have great abilities and great malice, which sharpens men's 


understandings ; they have a large conscience, and more liberty to do 
what they will ; so that a child of God is gone if it were to oppose 
craft with craft; and usually they carry their matters more subtilly, 
laying hidden snares and profound counsels ; whereas the children of 
God carry it simply and plainly. But then there is a wise God to act 
for a foolish people, and sometimes God may give his people great 
abilities ; as Joseph was wiser than his brethren, Moses wiser than the 
Egyptians, Daniel than all the magicians of Babylon. But yet usually 
parts and secular wisdom are given to the enemies. Only a child of 
God hath this point of wisdom above the enemies, he taketh in with 
the wise God, which is the ready and compendious way to success ; 
whereas secular wisdom takes a long way about, and must work through 
many mediums and subordinate causes before the intended effect can 
be brought about : Ps. xxxvii. 12, 13, ' The wicked plotteth against the 
just.' God is the other party : ' The Lord shall laugh at him ; for he 
seeth that his day is coming/ He doth not say the just counterbalance 
the wicked, or strains his wit to match his enemy with craft, but God 
hath a providence and love, ever waking on his behalf ; therefore it lies 
not between policy and piety, but between men's craft and God's wis 
dom. Then he hath the power of God on his side, and therefore he is 
wiser than his enemies, he is of the stronger side : Gen. xvii. 1, ' I am 
God all-sufficient ; walk before me and be thou perfect/ All warping 
comes from doubting of God's all-sufficiency, evidenced by our carnal 
fear, and our distrustful care what shall become of us and how we shall 
do to live. Certainly, if God be able, we need not doubt, or run to in 
direct courses. Again, he hath him of his side who hath dominion over 
all events. Carnal policy is full of jealousies ; they know not what 
will succeed, they have no sure bottom to stand upon ; they are not 
sure of events, when their business is never so well laid. But now a 
child of God is wiser, and hath much the more comfortable course, as 
well as successful ; he can do his duty, and leave the event to God. 
When a business is never so well and cunningly laid, yet God loves to 
dispose of events, and to take the wise in their own craft,' Job v. 12, 
13. They are outwitted, and they outreach themselves, that so Christ 
may, as it were, get upon the devil's shoulders, and even be beholden 
to Jhis enemies. Never are they such fools as when they seem to say 
things wisely against God and his people. Carnal wisdom is the 
greatest folly : it brought Moses to the flags, but Pharaoh to the bot 
tom of the sea. The devil was the first fool of all the creation, and 
ever since his first attempts against his God he hath been playing the 
fool for these thousands of years. The tempting our first parents 
seemed a masterpiece of wit, but it was indeed the ruin of his king 
dom. So in the attempts of wicked men against his people, God still 
disposeth of the event contrary to their aim. 

[2] As long as God hath work for him to do, he will maintain him 

and bear him out in the midst of all dangers; that is certain; as he 

did David in the very face of Saul. There is an invisible guard set 

upon plain-hearted and zealous Christians; every day they do as it 

were, by their pleading against the corruptions of wicked men' exas- 

ale them ; they are in the secret of God's presence, and are kept 

lone know how ; none so nigh to dangers, yet none so free from them ; 

YER. 98.] SERMONS UPON -PSALM cxix. 5 

in the lion's mouth, yet preserved, as Christ lived in the midst of his 
enemies, yet they could not touch him till his hour was come, John 
xi. 8-10. Christ had work to do in Judea: 'Master/ say the dis 
ciples, ' the Jews of late sought to stone thee, and goest thou thither 
again ? And Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day ? 
If any man walk in the day he stumbleth not, because he seeth the 
light of this world ; but if a man walk in the night he stumbleth, be 
cause there is no light in him/ In the disciples' question is bewrayed 
the true genius of carnal fear. Oh, men say, why will you go run 
yourself into the mouth of danger ? They think the discharge of duty 
will cost them their utter ruin : ' Master, the Jews sought to kill thee/ 
Now Christ's answer showeth that men should not choose their way 
according to their apprehensions of danger and safety, but as God 
cleareth a call to them ; he answers by a similitude taken from God's 
order in the course of nature. God made the day for work, and the 
night for rest and sleep ; now as long as men have daylight they will 
not stumble, but if they set forth in the night, then they would 
stumble. The meaning is, as long as a man hath a clear call from 
God (for a call from God is compared to the day), and can say, This 
is a duty God hath put upon me, he hath daylight, he shall not 
stumble ; though he doth come and go in the face and teeth of enemies 
on God's cause, and plead against their corruptions and base miscar 
riages, he shall not stumble. Indeed, when a man is in the dark, and 
knows not what God's mind is, then he is ever and anon stumbling. 
A Christian is to study his duty rather than his danger, and then leave 
t he care of all events to God ; he is in a safe course when he is in 
God's way, and shall not be interrupted till he have finished his work: 
Luke xiii. 31, 32, ' The Pharisees said unto him, Get thee out, and 
depart hence, for Herod will kill thee. And he said, Go tell that fox, 
Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to-day and to-morrow, and the 
third day I shall be perfected.' If he cast himself into troubles, he is 
sure they are not sinfully procured ; but men that run on danger with 
out a calling may meet with many a snare, or he that doth not observe 
his call meet with more difficulties than ever he thought of: 1 Peter 
iii. 13, ' And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that 
which is good ? ' The best way to eschew trouble is to adhere closely 
to what is right in the sight of God ; he can allay their fury, putting 
convictions upon their conscience. A man would think to stand nicely 
upon terms of duty is to run in harm's way ; and there are none so 
much harmed, maligned, and opposed in the world as those that follow 
that which is good, as those that will have no fellowship with the un 
fruitful works of darkness, but will reprove them rather ; possibly they 
may hate and malign you if you keep to that which is good, but they 
cannot harm your consciences. God can allay the rage of men, by 
putting convictions upon their consciences, evidencing your sincerity ; 
as the history saith, when the Arians persecuted the orthodox Chris 
tians, they durst not meddle with Paulinus out of reverence. There 
fore who will harm you if you be followers of that which is good ? 

2. In case things succeed ill with him, and contrary to his expecta 
tion, yet they are wiser than their enemies can be, because they have 
provided for the worst. Carnal policy is but wisdom in opinion for a 


time, not always, while they have matter to work upon in the world ; 
but these always, in prosperity and adversity. 

[1.] Because he hath secured his great interest, which lies in the 
favour of God and in hopes of eternal life. God, by his command 
ment, hath taught him this wisdom, to make sure of the kingdom of 
God, and then a man is safe ; whatever happens, nothing can befall 
him that doth endanger his hopes, or endamage his interest in Christ ; 
if they kill him, they do but put him there where he would be ; he 
hath secured his great interest ; persecutors cannot reach the better 
part : Luke xii. 4, they ' kill the body, after that they can do no more/ 
A good man, let them do what they can, can come to no hurt ; he is 
indeed like a die ; cast him high or low, still he falls upon his square ; 
he hath a bottom to stand upon, hopes to support him. 

[2.] Because he hath fitted his spirit for all kind of conditions. A 
man that is to go a long journey must prepare for all weathers ; so a 
Christian must learn to be abased as well as to abound, Phil. iv. Now 
a mortified man hath the advantage of all the world ; a man that is 
dead to worldly interests hath the advantage of all others for doing 
and suffering for God, and in noble and generous actions. It is our 
affections that increase our afflictions, that make us so base and pusil 
lanimous : 1 Cor. vii. 31, ' Rejoice as if you rejoiced not, weep as 
though ye wept not/ If our hearts did not rejoice so much in the 
creature, if we were in a greater indifferency to worldly .things, the 
loss and miscarriage of them would not surprise us with so great ter 
ror. A mortified man is wiser than other men, because he hath 
plucked out the root of all trouble, which is an inordinate affection ; 
and then let his condition be never so bad, he is fortified. Temper 
ance makes way for patience : 2 Peter i. 6, ' Add to temperance, 
patience/ Temperance, or a moderation in the enjoyment of all 
things, tends to patience in the loss of them. A man that possesseth 
them without love can lose them without grief. They may lessen his 
estate, but cannot lessen his comfort. Therefore this is the man that 
can 'pray always, rejoice evermore, in everything give thanks/ for 
giving and taking, for the word of God hath taught him this holy 
weanedness from worldly things. 

[3.] He can look to the end of all things, not only to the present, 
but the future : Heb. xi. 1, ' Faith is the substance of things hoped 
for, the evidence of things not seen/ He can see victories in a down 
fall ; and this is a wisdom proper to faith, to see the overthrow of the 
church's enemies when they rise up and prosper. A natural man may 
look above his condition as long as he seeth any probability in second 
causes, but ' faith is the evidence of things not seen/ When there is 
no probable way, then it can look above them. Eeason usually is 
short-sighted, it 'cannot see afar off,' 2 Peter i. 9 ; it cannot look be 
yond the cloud and veil of present discouragement. But now faith 
can see one contrary in another, see a good end in bad means, and 
those things that make against them to make for them ; and what in 
itself is hurtful, is altogether tempered by God's hand, and to the 
greatest good, Rom. viii. 28 ; Ps. xxxvii. 37, 38, ' Mark the perfect man, 
and behold the upright ; for the end of that man is peace but the 
end of the wicked shall be cut off;' and Ps. Ixxiii. 17, ' I went into 


the sanctuary, and there I understood their end.' Those that are 
governed by sense, will, and passion, cannot be wise, for they do not 
see to the end ; but he that lives by faith looks not to appearances, 
but seeth the end ; therefore this man can bear up with hope and 
courage in the midst of all difficulties and troubles. 

Use 1. Caution against two things carnal fear and carnal policy. 

1. Against carnal fear. Many are troubled when they consider the 
power and cunning of the enemies of God's people. Ay ! but you 
need not be dismayed when you do, in the simplicity of your hearts, 
give up yourselves to the direction of God's word ; you need not fear 
all their craft ; when they are confounded and broken to pieces by 
their own devices, you shall stand firm. It seemeth to be the greatest 
folly in the world to keep at a distance from the rising side ; in time it 
will be found to be the greatest wisdom. You think they carry their 
matters with a great deal of cunning, whilst they slight God and tread 
the unquestionable interests of Christ under foot, and that the cause 
of God will never get up again. Since they reject the word of God, 
what wisdom have they ? Jer. viii. 9. When you fail, will you believe 
the word of God, or the doubtful face of outward things ? Be sure 
once you are in God's way, and then you cannot miscarry finally. Will 
not Christ uphold the ministry in despite of the devil and evil men ? 
Have we not the word of God to secure these hopes for us ? There 
fore what need we fear what wicked wretches attempt against us? 
Doth not God love righteousness ? Will he not take vengeance ? And 
in their highest prosperity, may not we see their downfall ? There 
fore why should we be afraid ? 

2. Then take heed of carnal policy ; for we are made wiser than our 
enemies through the commandment. We must not oppose craft with 
craft, for so Satan will be too hard for us in the use of his own wea 
pons. That is not wisdom to run to shifts, and to carnal and sinful 
devices. There is a wisdom that is necessary for the children of God : 
Mat. x. 16, 'I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves ; be wise 
as serpents, simple as doves.' Ever it was so with God's people ; they 
are sheep in the midst of wolves, destitute of all outward support : ' Be 
ye therefore wise as serpents and harmless as doves/ Carry yourselves 
prudently and holily in my service. That wisdom and knowledge 
which doth not agree with justice, but puts upon doing things that are 
unjust, that is craft, not wisdom. Now though Christ hath bid us be 
wise, yet he hath forbidden us to be crafty. When you run to carnal 
shifts, you think to be wiser than God. All the mischiefs of the pre 
sent age have merely been occasioned by unbelief. We durst not trust 
God in his own way, but will run to carnal practices merely to prevent 
evil, and you see how we are entangled in all manner of confusion. 
Jeroboam would be wiser than God ; God would have settled the king 
dom upon him, but he ran to a way of his own, and that was his un 
doing. Take heed of this fleshly wisdom : 2 Cor. i. 12, ' Not in fleshly 
wisdom, but in simplicity and godly wisdom.' The more simple and 
plain a Christian walks according to the direct letter of the scripture, 
the more safe he is ; but when he doth run to those baser courses, 
merely out of distrust to God, all things come to ruin. Carnal policy 
never succeeds well with the children of God ; never did a Christian 


thrive by carnal policy, or using carnal fetches for carnal ends ; God 
crosseth them. A man that will walk by the light of his own fire is 
sure to be led out of the way of peace and happiness. When they for 
sake the light of God's word and Spirit, and follow a false light, they 
run into sorrow and inconvenience ; and therefore weaker Christians are 
sometimes safer than those of stronger parts, that lean to their own 
understandings and trust to carnal policy. 

Use 2. To prize the scriptures, because of this wisdom, that is to be 
gotten in them. A very poor creature that walks in the fear of God 
is wise to avoid the chiefest danger, to secure the greatest interest, to 
avoid hell beneath, Prov. xv. 24 ; that wisdom hath escaped the greatest 
danger, the wrath of God, and made sure of heaven, Christ, and salva 
tion, his great interest. He that gives up himself to be governed by 
God's word, though never so plain and simple, will be found to be the 
wisest in the issue : Ps. cxix. 24, ' Thy testimonies are my delight and 
iny counsellors/ When God's testimonies are the men of our counsel, 
this is that which will give true wisdom. All things in this world 
are mutable and uncertain, they continue not long ; we cannot foresee 
all changes, therefore a wise man may be mistaken sometimes, and do 
things he could wish were never done if he had consulted with God. 
Therefore now be wise ; this will tell you when to act and when to 
forbear, not to be over-wise nor over-foolish. 

Use 3. To get this wisdom from, the word of God that will make 
you wiser than your adversaries : Prov. iv. 7, ' Get wisdom, that is the 
principal thing, and with all thy gettings get understanding.' There 
are some maxims (if we would have this wisdom so as to be wiser than 
our enemies) and some graces. 

First, Some maxims : 

1. Season the heart with this principle, that it concerns you to 
secure your interest in Christ rather than the world, Mat. vi. 34 

T.f-ll'-rt V^TT- O? 

Luke xiv. 26. 

2. That we should not be solicitous about events so much as duty 
about dangers so much as sin, 1 Chron. xix. 13 ; 2 Tim. iv. 17, 18.' 

3. That in a way of duty it is better to depend upon Christ's care 
over us, without using any carnal reaches to secure ourselves 1 Peter 
v. 7, iv. 19. 

Horn iii eaS Pe Pe d 1S either g dj r tends t0 g d ' 
5. That when deliverance is more for our turn than bondage, yokes, 

and oppression, we shall be sure to have it. God hath engXed him 

self by covenant that < he will withhold no good thing/ Ps. Ixxxiv. 11. 
6 Close adherence to God, and constancy in obedience, is the surest 

way to present ease and future deliverance Ps cxxv 3 

*'*- trouble by 


oln en fffp OU1 ' fr rSaiT , wiser tha ? we ' when his opposition draws 
us to sin then and then only are we foiled by our adversary 
Secondly, There are some graces also make us wise 

this wisdom faith is necessary. If we could but depend upon 


God in a good, plain, and downright course, we would not run to 
shifts, nor change ourselves into all shapes and colours, cameleon-like 
(unless it be white) ; but you would support yourselves with this, that 
he would maintain you and bear you out. 

2. Fear of God, which makes us tender of spirit, that we dare not 
offend God nor break a rule for all the world ; he fears a command 
ment more than a thousand dangers : Prov. xiii. 13, ' He that fears the 
commandment shall be safe from fear of danger.' If a commandment 
stand in his way, he dares not go through ; it is more than if all the 
terrors of the world stand in his way ; he will endure all hazards rather 
than break through a command. 


I have more understanding than all my teachers : for thy testimonies 
are my meditation. VER. 99. 

DAVID had spoken of his affection to the word of God, and then men 
tioned one special ground thereof, which was the wisdom that he got 
thereby ; now this wisdom is amplified, by comparing it with the wis 
dom of others. Three sorts of men he mentioneth enemies, teachers, 
ancients. The enemies excel in policy, teachers in doctrine, and 
ancients in counsel ; and yet by the word was David made wiser than 
all these. Malice sharpens the wit of enemies, and teacheth them the 
arts of opposition ; teachers are furnished with learning ; but ancients, 
they grow wise by experience : yet David, by the study of the word, 
excelled all these. In the text we may observe two things : 

1. David's assertion concerning his profiting by the word of God, / 
have more understanding than all my teachers. 

2. The reason, taken from his diligent use of the means, for thy 
testimonies are my meditation. 

For the first of these, ' I have more understanding than all my 
teachers,' to clear the words : 

1. It is certain that he speaks not this of his extraordinary revela 
tions as a prophet, but of that wisdom which he got by ordinary means. 
The holy men of God in the Old Testament, considered as prophets, 
so they had extraordinary visions and revelations. Now David speaks 
of that kind of knowledge got by the ordinary means, not those special 
revelations made to the prophets ; for he renders the reason of it, ' Thy 
testimonies are my meditation.' 

2. It is certain he speaks not this by way of boasting ; for this is a 
psalm of instruction, not a history or narrative. Now the children of 
God would not commend their failings to the imitation of others, and 
this which David speaks is rendered as a reason of his respect ; by the 
word he got wisdom above his teachers, enemies, and ancients. 

_ Briefly, the intent and use of this assertion will be known by con 
sidering the quality of these teachers here mentioned. You may look 
upon them either (1.) As faulty or defective in their duty; (2.) As 


performing their duty. In both these notions David was wiser than 
they, or a man of a better understanding. 

1. If you look upon them under a diminishing notion; so some 
would understand it thus, that those which instructed him in human 
learning and civil discipline had not understanding as he that medi 
tated in God's testimonies. If this were the sense, there is no boast 
ing, but only comparing knowledge with knowledge, the knowledge of 
the word with the knowledge of ordinary sciences ; and it gives us 
this lesson, that the great sages of the world that do excel in secular 
wisdom are but fools to a child of God ; they know the secrets of 
nature, and he knows the God of nature ; they dispute about the chiefest 
good, and he enjoys it ; they know the use of natural things, and he 
knoweth the use of spiritual. This wisdom and skill in outward 
things, compared with the fear of God, is but vanity ; and the wisest 
man must ' become a fool that he may be wise ' with this kind of 
wisdom, 1 Cor. iii. 18. 

2. You may look upon them as corrupt and sinful. In those days 
of Saul, the teachers might be corrupt as well as other ranks and orders 
of men ; and then it only implies this, that God gives greater under 
standing to his people than to their corrupt guides : Luke xi. 52, ' Woe 
unto you lawyers ; for ye have taken away the key of knowledge : ye 
entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.' 
The expounders of the law were corrupt, and hindered others from 
entering into the kingdom of God. It is a great evil when the church 
of God is given up to such kind of guides. But now, in such a case, 
they that make conscience of God's ordinances, use private means with 
diligence, have more understanding than their teachers : Mat. xxiii. 
2, 3, ' The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. Whatsoever they 
bid you observe, that observe and do ; but do not ye after their works ; 
for they say, and do not.' Though they were naught and corrupt 
themselves, yet if they bring God's message, it should not be slighted, 
because of the office and lawful authority with which they are invested, 
though not every way qualified for their station ; and in this sense a 
child of God may be wiser than his teachers. 

3. We may look upon them as contenting themselves with the naked 
theory of God's law, without making conscience of practice ; that they 
were such kind of guides that never tasted themselves what they com 
mended to others, or practised what they taught ; then ' I have more 
understanding than my teachers/ He that excels in practice hath the 
best understanding. Practical knowledge is to be preferred before 
speculative, as much as the end is to be preferred before the means ; 
the end is more noble than the means. Now speculative knowledge is 
the means to the end : Ps. cxi. 10, ' A good understanding have all 
they that do his commandments.' Not only know what is to be done, 
but do what is to be known. As for others, whatever light they seem 
to have, they have not wisdom and understanding : Jer. viii. 9, ' Lo, 
they have rejected the word of the Lord, and what wisdom is in them ?' 
They were boasting of the knowledge of the law, yet there was no wis 
dom in them. A mean Christian, that fears God, is a man of more 
understanding than he that hath a great deal of head-light and in 
this sense may it be well said, the children of God are wiser than their 

VER. 99.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 11 

teachers. Many times those that are unlearned rise up and take heaven 
by violence, when others, by all their literal and speculative knowledge, 
are thrust down to hell. 

Suppose it spoken no way in diminution to these teachers, but that 
they did their duty. 

4. Some comment thus ; that David had more understanding than 
all his teachers who taught him the first rudiments of religion, that he 
transcended them by far, by God's blessing, in making further progress 
in this kind of knowledge. If this were the sense, it would teach us not 
always to keep to our milk and to the first principles of religion, but 
to wade further and further into these mysteries, Heb. v. 12, 13. We 
should go on still, and grow up to a greater fulness in knowledge ac 
cording as we have more means and advantages. But this is not the 
sense, for he saith, c than all my teachers/ Why then, secondly, take 
it for his godly teachers that were every way qualified ; and it is no 
new thing for a scholar to exceed his master, and Christians of a pri 
vate station many times to excel those that are in office. Look, as in 
secular things among the heathens, Aristotle was wiser than Plato his 
master, and opposed him in many things, and therefore is called an 
ass's colt, that as soon as he was full with the dam's milk, he kicks 
her ; he forgot that he was his father. We should, if we can, exceed 
our teachers, but not despise them ; and Daniel, chap. i. 20, was wiser 
in civil arts than all his teachers, so also it is true as to holy things. 
Jesus Christ at twelve years of age puzzled the doctors. Eli brought 
up Samuel in the fear of God, but he proved wiser than Eli ; Paul, 
brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, Acts xxii. 3, proved a more nota 
ble instrument of God's glory > and Austin was taught by Ambrose, 
but grew afterwards more eminent than he. Thus David was wiser 
than his teachers, and yet they might be faithful and holy. Now he 
mentions this partly to commend the Lord's grace, ' Thou hast made 
me wiser than my teachers ; ' and partly to commend meditation in the 
word, the means by which he got it ; not to boast of his own attain 
ments, but to commend grace, and commend the means of grace to 

What may we observe from this assertion of David, ' I am. wiser than 
my teachers ' ? 

06s. 1. The freeness of God's grace in making a difference between 
men and men as to measures and degrees of knowledge : 1 Cor. iv. 7, 
' Who made thee to differ from another ? and what hast thou that thou 
hast not received ?' Some have more and some less understanding, 
and all is as God gives out. There is not only a difference between 
men and men as to their great distinction of election and reprobation, 
but within the sphere of election as to measures of grace. God mani 
fests himself to some more than to others ; they are admitted to this 
favour, to see more than others into the mind of God, though they have 
the same teacher, God's Spirit ; the same rule and direction, God's 
word ; the same principles of grace ; yet they have greater measures 
of knowledge : the reasons lie in God's bosom and grace. Now this 
should be noted, that those which excel should be kept humble, as 
being more indebted to grace than others are. and surely none should 
be proud because more in debt ; and that those who are excelled might 
submit, and be contented to be outshined : John iii. 30, ' Ho must 


increase, but I must decrease.' It should be a rejoicing to them that 
God is likely to be glorified more by others ; especially teachers should 
rejoice that God should give such a blessing to the ministry, that they 
which seem to be under them should see more than they. ^ When those 
two quarrelling pronouns, meum et tuum, mine and thine, have no 
more use, as in heaven, then we shall fully rejoice in one anothers' 
gifts and graces, and what they enjoy it will be our comfort : as, 
in a choir of voices, one sings the treble, another the bass ; they are 
refreshed, and every one delights not only in his own part and per 
formance, but in the part of each other ; all concurs to the harmony ; 
so one hath this measure of grace, another another, and all concur to 
the glory of God. 

Obs. 2. Not only the freeness of God's grace in giving wisdom to 
one more than to another, but observe also the sovereignty of God's 
distribution. The treasures of grace are at his free disposing, and he 
will not be tied to any order ; he gives to every one that measure of 
understanding which he sees fit. Indeed his ordinary course is to 
bless the teachers of his people with an increase of knowledge, for he 
hath promised a more especial presence with the public gift than with 
private : Mat. xxviii. 20, ' I am with you to the end of the world/ 
Yet many times private believers excel their godly teachers in wisdom 
and piety. Wisdom is not so tied to the teachers but that God is free 
to the giving as much, nay, more, to those that are taught. Though 
the general course is, in the ordinary way, that teachers should know 
more than the taught, yet God sometimes doth work extraordinarily, 
to show his prerogative, and absolute sovereignty; and things revealed 
to babes may be hid from the wise and prudent, to show that it is at 
his disposing, to hide and manifest as he pleaseth. 

Obs. 3. The equity and proportion that he observes in the dispensa 
tion of his sovereignty, for David ascribes it to God, but observes that 
this came to him as a blessing upon the use of means, ' For thy testi 
monies are my meditation.' God gives knowledge to whom he pleas 
eth, but those that meditate most thrive most. 

There are three sorts of meditation (1.) Of observation ; (2.) Of 
study and search ; (3.) Of consideration or inculcative application ; 
and all these conduce to make us wise. 

1. There is a meditation of observation, when a man compares the 
word and providence, and is still taking notice how such a promise 
is accomplished, such a threatening made good ; this man will grow 
more wise and more understanding than others: Ps. cvii. 43, 'Whoso 
is wise, and will observe those things, even they shall understand the 
loving-kindness of the Lord.' That is, he that is comparing the 
prediction and event, God's proceedings either in justice or mercy 
according to his word, how he doth punish and reward his people, and 
what visible comments his works are upon his word, he hath a clearer 
discerning than others, and they will see more cause to adhere to God, 
and yield him more faithful obedience than others. 

2. There is the meditation of study and search, they that are inquir 
ing into the word of God to find out his mind : Eph. v. 17, ' Be ye not 
unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.' ' They that 
exercise themselves in the word to find out his mind shall have more 

VER. 99.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 13 

of his blessing than those that rest in hearing and reading : * For 
with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you ; and unto 
you that hear, shall more be given,' Mark iv. 24. It is spoken of 
measuring to God in ordinances ; as we measure to God in the use of 
means, so the Lord will measure out to us in his blessing and the in 
fluences of his grace. 

3. There is a meditation of consideration, when we consider that 
which we read and hear, how it may be for use and practice, and of 
what moment it is for our eternal weal or woe. The scripture calls it 
consideration : 2 Tim. ii. 7, ' Consider what I say, and the Lord give 
thee understanding in all things ;' Ps. 1. 22, ' Consider this, ye that 
forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver/ 
The more men consider things with application to their own soul, the 
more wise will they grow, and the more understanding in the things 
of God, and able to apply all for their own direction ; he will see more 
than the teacher ever could express when he gives forth the general 
doctrine of faith and manners. But let any meditate upon it, and 
urge his own heart, and he shall find something the teacher thought 
not of ; and this principally is the sense spoken of in this place. A 
man that urgeth his own heart with what is taught, when he hath a 
general doctrine applies it to his own soul, and reflects the light of it 
upon his own heart, meditates upon it by serious and inculcative 
thoughts, will ever find something either the teacher saw not, or seeing 
expressed not, see further into this truth than the teacher was aware 
of. The life and success of all means doth lie in this meditation. 

Obs. 4. ' I have more understanding than my teachers.' We learn 
this, that private means is a duty, and meditation must be joined 
with public hearing. Many content themselves with public ordi 
nances, but make no conscience of private means, as secret prayer, and 
debating with themselves by serious inculcative thoughts returning 
upon their own heart. Oh ! make conscience of this private duty. 
You may prosper and thrive more in a way of grace. When the 
apostle laid down the privileges of a justified estate, Kom. viii. 31, he 
concludes, ' Now what shall we say to these things ? ' implying we 
should urge our own heart upon every general doctrine, or rouse up 
ourselves with such a smart question, Heb. ii. 3, ' How shall we 
escape if we neglect so great salvation ? ; 

06s. 5. We learn, again, that it is good to submit to God's insti 
tutions ; though the persons employed in them be never so mean, yet 
if they be clothed with lawful authority, by a conscientious attending 
upon God's ordinance, we may get a great deal of wisdom more than 
the teacher ever had, as they set your thoughts awork. Surely, if 
teachers be corrupt, as they sit in Moses' chair, though they are cor 
rupt, yet as far as they do God's message they are to be regarded. 
Certainly we are not to turn back upon one meaner gifted if godly, or 
be a discouragement to those that are weak, though they are not so 
able, and have not so strong a gift. God may make a mean teacher a 
means for the increasing of knowledge. 

06s. 6. We learn the glory of all profiting ; it must not be given to 
the instruments, but to God, for the scholar may become wiser than the 
teacher ; that is, God may give more grace by an instrument than the 


instrument hath in himself, to show that all is of him, that it doth 
not lie in the teacher's gift. All profiting must be ascribed to God ; 
therefore the glory of all must redound to him, to his grace : 1 Cor. 
xv. 10, ' By the grace of God I am what I am ; and his grace which 
was bestowed upon me was not in vain : I laboured more abundantly 
than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.' If 
never so able, it is still from God. 

Secondly, The reason, 'I have more understanding than all my 
teachers : for thy testimonies are my meditation.' 

Point. That meditation is a great help towards gracious improve 
ment. David grew in such a manner as that he did excel all his 
teachers, and he giveth this reason of it : ' For thy testimonies are 
my meditation.' The scripture calleth for this : 1 Tim. iv. 15, 'Medi 
tate upon these things, give thyself wholly to them, that thy profit 
ing may appear to all. So consider what I say, and the Lord give thee 
understanding in all things ; ' and Ps. 1. 22, ' Consider this, ye that 
forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver ; ' 
and Luke ii. 19, ' Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in 
her heart.' Here I might show (1.) What this is ; (2.) What a 
notable means this is for spiritual improvement and growth in know 
ledge ; to debate things with himself, Who made him, and for what end 
he was made. But of this you may see at large, ver. 15. 


/ understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts. 

VER. 100. 

MAN is a rational being, and should close with things more or less as 
they do perfect and polish his understanding. Now among all the 
inventions of mankind to remedy the defects of nature, not one of them 
can compare with the means which God offers for curing of the blind 
ness and darkness of the mind which is introduced by the fall. Man 
hath found out grammar to rectify his speech, rhetoric to adorn it and 
make it more cogent and powerful in persuasion, logic to revive reason, 
medicine or physic to preserve the health of the body, politics for go 
vernment of human societies, and for ordering our converse with others 
in the world, economics for prudent ordering of families, ethics for 
the tempering of each man's spirit, that it may live under the domin 
ion of natural reason. But mark, for commerce and communion with 
God, wherein our happiness lies, there all the inventions of man are 
very short, and only the word of God can guide us, and furnish us 
with this wisdom ; and because of this is the word so desirous- 1 
and precious to the saints. < Oh, how they love the law of God ! ' for 
it is their wisdom. Well, David having showed how it prevailed 
with his own heart, Oh, how I love thy law ! ' for thereby I get spiri 
tual wisdom and understanding; to draw in other men to love and 
s udy the word, and to make this motive strong and pressing upon 
iem, he doth compare the wisdom that men may get by the word 

1 That is, "desirable," or " desired." ED. 

VER. 100.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 15 

with other things that look like wisdom ; he compares it with the 
sagacity of enemies, the speculation and knowledge of the teacher, 
and the prudence we get by age and experience. 

1. With the sagacity of enemies, whose wit was sharpened with 
their own malice. There he shows that a man that taketh counsel 
of the word to secure his great interest, by getting into the favour of 
God, and walketh by the plain rule of the word, without consulting 
with flesh and blood, hath the advantage of all other men, and will be 
found to be the wisest man at length. He compares this wisdom he 
got by the word with the speculations and knowledge of teachers. He 
that doth not content himself with the naked rules delivered by them, 
but labours with his own conscience to make them profitable to his 
own soul, he will see more by his own eyes as to the particular duties 
and concernments of the spiritual life than his teachers could ever 
direct him unto. 

2. He compares it here in the text with the wisdom of the ancients, 
or men of long experience. By the elders or ancients may be meant 
either men of former times, or aged men of the same time. 

[1.] Men of former times : Heb. xi. 2, ' By it the ancients or elders 
obtained a good report ; ' that is, the holy patriarchs of their time. 
If this be meant of men in former times, then tliou hast made me 
u'iser than the ancients recommends this observation to us, viz., the 
church of God is growing always, and one age sees more than an 
other. A dwarf upon a giant's shoulders may see further than he. 
The ancients had their measures of light, so hath the present age : 
Joel ii. 28-30, ' In the latter days ' meaning the times of the gospeL 
all that efflux of time which was between Christ's ascension and his 
second coming, is called ' the latter days ' ' I will pour out my Spirit 
upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your 
old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions,' 
&c. The knowledge which younger ones shall get under the New 
Testament is expressed by visions, dreams, and prophecy. These three 
were the ways of God's revealing himself to the old prophets ; there 
fore it implies that those very truths which the prophets and holy 
men of God had by visions, dreams, and prophecies, by such extra 
ordinary ways of revelation, will then be commonly known by preach 
ing and catechising and other means of instruction in the church of 
God : and thus, ' I have more understanding than the ancients.' Suc 
ceeding ages may see more into the mind of God ; therefore antiquity 
should not sway against truth, and former ages should not prescribe to 
succeeding, which grow up to a further latitude and increase in know 

[2.] Bather let us take it, ' I have more understanding than the 
ancients;' that is, than many old men of the same age. They that 
are ^slow and dull of conceit, yet by long use they grow wise ; and 
having smarted often, they learn by their own harms to become cir 
cumspect. But here is the excellency of the word, that it made a 
young man wiser than those that are men of age and experience. 
Youths well studied in God's law may exceed men" of great experience 
and knowledge in arts and sciences. True zeal and piety, and the 
defects of his age and want of experiences, are recompensed by the 


exactness of his rule that he takes to guide him ; if he will but wholly 
subject and give up himself to the directions of this rule, he will not 
need much experience ; he hath enough to guide him : ' I understand 
more than the ancients : because I keep thy precepts/ In which words 

you have 

1 The benefit that we get by God's precepts, that is understanding. 

2. This benefit is amplified by comparing it with the understanding 
that is gotten by age and experience, / understand more than the 


3. The manner of obtaining this more excellent benefit, by a dili 
gent heed and practice, ' I understand more than the ancients.' Why ? 
^Because I keep thy precepts. So that from hence three points are to 
be observed : 

1. That understanding gotten by the precepts of the word is better 
than understanding gotten by long experience. I observe this, because 
David doth not speak this so much to commend his own proficiency, 
as to set forth the exactness of our rule and goodness of the word of 
God ; therefore this point lies couched here. 

2. That young ones may sometimes have more of spiritual wisdom 
than those that are ancient. I observe that, because David instanceth 
in his own person, though young, that he exceeded many, not only of 
his equals, but of his seniors. 

3. The way to increase in spiritual understanding is to be studious 
in practical holiness. I observe this, because the reason rendered was 
his own diligent practice, ' I understand more than the ancients/ 
Why ? ' Because I keep thy precepts/ 

Doct. 1. That understanding gotten by the precepts of the word is 
better than understanding gotten by long experience. It is better in 
four regards : 

1. It is more exact. Our experience reacheth but to a few things, 
but the word of God reacheth to all cases that concern true happiness. 
The word is the result of God's wisdom, who is the Ancient of days, 
therefore exceeds the wisdom of the ancients, or experience of any 
man, or all men. God is more ancient than they, sees all things that 
have been, are, and shall be, at one view and sight ; and therefore, if 
he will give us a rule, certainly that is more than all our experience. 
Experience will show us the evils of this world, and give us some rules 
to escape it ; but the word of God tells us of evils in the next, and 
that with more persuasiveness and evidence than if one came from the 
dead, and had been wallowing in those devouring flames that had been 
kindled in the other world, Luke xvi. 30, 31. There is more exact 
ness and completeness in this rule than possibly can be in experience : 
2 Tim. iii. 17, * The word 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/ By the man of 
God is meant the teacher ; the prophets are called men of God, and 
the public teacher is the man of God. If there be enough to furnish 
the teacher to every good work, surely there is enough to furnish the 
practiser. There is enough to furnish the maw of God, who is to 
consult not only for his own private necessity, but the necessities of 

VER. 100.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 17 

2. As it is a more exact, so a more sure way of learning wisdom, 
whereas experience is more uncertain. Many have much experience, 
yet have not a heart to see and to gather wisdom from what they feel : 
Beat. xxix. 2, 3, ' Ye have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes 
in the land of Egypt. Yet the Lord hath not given you an heart to 
perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.' They saw 
it, that is, had experience of it, yet not a heart to improve it : Ps. xlix. 
13, * This their way is their folly, yet their posterity approve their 
sayings/ The father gets an estate ; when gotten, he thinks to enjoy 
it ; God takes him off ; their posterity live by their carnal maxims, 
and do not profit by their experience. Though they stand upon the 
graves of many that made a great bustle in the world to compass their 
worldly ends, yet they are never the wiser for all this. Therefore it 
is a great advantage to have a stated fixed rule to our hands, to have 
a rule of wisdom and principles given us by God himself, wherewith 
to steer and guide our course. 

3. It is a safer and cheap way of learning, to learn by rule, than to 
come home by Weeping Gross, and to learn wisdom by our own smart. 
Experience is too expensive a way ; and if we had nothing else to 
guide us, into how many thousand miseries should we run ! how 
would a man's life be exposed to inevitable hazards and soul-dangers ! 
And if by chance he should get out of the snare (which is uncertain), 
yet the taint of former practices will remain in him a long time ; 
therefore it is God's mercy he will teach us by precept rather than by 
experience ; that he doth not teach us, as Gideon taught the men of 
Succoth, by briars and thorns, but that we may learn wisdom at a 
cheaper rate. If we were only to know (as God saith of his people, 
Jer. ii. 19, 'Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy back- 
slidings shall reprove thee ') when we had smarted for it, this were an 
expensive costly way; but if we will hearken to God's precepts, all this 
smart and trouble and bitterness of affliction may be saved. There 
fore the precepts of God are better. 

4. The way by age and experience is a long way, and so for a long 
time all a man's younger age must needs be miserable and foolish. 
Now here you may come betimes to be wise, by studying the word of 
God : Prov. i. 22, ' How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity, 
and ye fools hate knowledge ? ' It concerns a man not only to be wise 
at length, but to be wise betimes. The foolish virgins were wise too 
late, but never any were wise too soon. Therefore surely that is better 
which will make us wise betimes, as soon as we come to be exposed to 
dangers. In these respects he that applies himself to God's precepts 
will get more wisdom than he that gets wisdom by age and experience ; 
he hath it in a shorter way, a safer way, a less expensive way, and in a 
more certain and exacter way. 

Use I . To reprove the folly of men that will not take God's direc 
tions, but will be trying experiments at their own cost ; as Solomon 
gave out his heart to a critical search, he would find where happiness 
and comfort was, and at length was forced to come home by Weeping 
Cross, to the fear of God and keeping of his commandments. This is 
the whole of man, he had tried pleasure, profit, and all things. The 
prodigal would be running out of his father's house, and we all would 



be trying because we will not take God's word. God hath given his 
word here to man, we need not search elsewhere ; and it is a thousand 
to one that, when you are trying, that ever you recover yourselves out 
of the snare. Here or there a man returns; I found them, saith 
Solomon, but there are very few; and therefore, as the prophet saith, 
Jer xxxi 32 'How long wilt thou go about, thou backsliding 
daughter?' 'Why do you compass about ? There is a shorter way 
to true happiness, if we had a heart to take it. Oh, but we must have 
our swing and our scope, and then come home by shame and sorrow: 
Mat xi. 28, 'Come to me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden. 
Mark, they that come to Christ, come not only laden with their sins, 
but weary with vain pursuits. But this is the fashion of man, to be 
running about, to be wearying himself, and contract weariness and 
thirst, as the prophet speaks, Jer. ii. 13. 

Use 2. To recommend the study of the word. Christians ! 
hath provided for us better than the heathens, who were forced to hunt 
up and down to find a spark of wisdom here and there ; it is all brought 
home, and suited to your hands in the word of God ; there is more 
wisdom to be gotten there for the guiding of your affairs and course 
of life in order to true happiness than by age and long experience you 
can possibly reach. Two ways doth this appear : 

1. Because the word doth sufficiently instruct us in our duty : Prov. 
ii. 9, ' Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and 
equity ; yea, every good path.' Then I when ? When you give up 
yourselves to God's direction, and take the law from his mouth, and 
walk in the way that is pointed out by his word and Spirit ; you shall 
have enough to direct you in all your ways. 

2. It doth warn us of all our dangers. It doth not only in the 
general call upon us ' to watch/ Mat. xiii. 37, and ' walk circumspectly,' 
Eph. v. 15, but it discovers all those deceits particularly whereby we 
may be surprised, diverted, and turned out of the way. There are 
snares in prosperity, snares in adversity ; temptations you meet with 
in praying, trading, eating, drinking, in your public undertakings, and 
in your private converse ; it shows your danger in all your ways, before 
you feel the smart of them. Therefore give up yourselves to God's 
direction, reading, hearing, meditating, believing, and practising ; read, 
hear it often, then the deceits of Satan will be laid open, and the snares 
of your own hearts. Christians ! an exact rule is of little use if you 
do not consult it : Gal. vi. 16, ' Peace and mercy be upon all them 
that walk according to this rule ;' that order their conversations 
exactly. The word signifies, that try their work as a carpenter doth 
by his square ; they examine their actions by the word of God, what 
they are now a-doing, therefore consult with it often ; then meditate 
of it, ponder it seriously : 2 Tim. ii. 7, ' Consider what I say, and the 
Lord give thee understanding in all things/ If we would have under 
standing by the word, there must be consideration. Man hath a 
discursive faculty to debate things with himself. Why ! this is my 
duty. What would become of me if I step out of God's way ? Here 
is danger and a snare ; what if I should run into it now it is laid 
before me ? And then believe it surely : Heb. iv. 2, ' The word pro 
fited not, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.' Believe 

VER. 100.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 19 

God upon his word without making trial. You hear much of living 
by sense and by faith ; living by faith is when we bear up upon the 
bare word of God, and encourage ourselves in the Lord ; but living by 
sense is a trying whether it be so or no ; as they that will not believe 
hell shall feel hell, and they that will not believe the word of God 
shall smart for it : Heb. xi. 7, ' Noah, being warned of God of things 
not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark.' It may be there 
were no preparations to the accomplishment of the curse and judgment ; 
the word threatened, it is a thing not seen, yet he prepared an ark. 
When a man is walking in an unjust course, all things prosper for 
a-while, the misery the word threatens is unseen. Ay ! but if you 
would grow wiser by the word than 'men can by experience, you must 
look to the end of things : Ps. Ixxiii. 17, ' I went into the sanctuary 
of God, then understood I their end/ And then practise it diligently. 
A young practiser hath more understanding than an ancient notion 
alist : Ps. cxi. 10, ' A good understanding have all they that do his 
commandments/ It is not they that are able to speak of things, and 
savour what the word requires, but they that do what they hear and 
discourse of, Gregory saith, we know no more than we practise, and 
we practise as we know ; these two always go together. The word 
doth us no good unless there be a ready obedience ; therefore this is 
wisdom, when we give up ourselves to God's direction, whatever it cost 
us in the world. 

Doct. 2. That young ones may have many times more of this wisdom 
than those that are ancient. 

Divers instances there are. Joseph was very young, sold into Egypt 
about seventeen years of age ; and when he was in Egypt, Ps. cv. 22, 
' He taught his senators wisdom/ speaking of the senators of Egypt. 
With how much modesty did he carry himself when his mistress laid 
that snare ! Isaac was young, and permitted himself to be offered to 
God as a sacrifice. Samuel was wise betimes : 1 Sam. ii. 26, it is said, 
' The child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord and 
also with men/ From his infancy he was dedicated to God, and God 
gives him wisdom to walk so that he was in favour with God and men ; 
yea, God reveals himself to Samuel when he did not to Eli. David, 
when he was but fifteen years of age, fought with the lion and bear ; and 
some while after that with Goliath, when he was a ruddy youth. Josiah, 
when he was but eight years old, administered the kingdom ; before 
he was twelve, sets upon serious reformation. Jeremiah was sanctified 
from the womb, Jer. i. 5 ; and John the Baptist leaped in his mother's 
womb, Luke i. 35. In the 32d of Job, the ancients, Job's friends, are 
spoken of pleading their cause ; wise young Elihu brings wiser words 
and better arguments than those that came to comfort Job. Solomon 
asked wisdom of God when he was young. Daniel and his com 
panions, those four children as they are called : Dan. i. 17, 18, it is 
said, 'The Lord filled them with wisdom above all the ancient 
Chaldeans.' And Timothy, the apostle speaks of his youth, and bids 
him ' flee youthful lusts ; ' he was young, yet very knowing, and set 
over the church of God. Our Lord Jesus at twelve years old puzzled 
the doctors. In ecclesiastical stories we read of one who at fifteen years 
of age died with great constancy for religion in the midst of sundry tor- 


tures. Ignatius pleads the cause of the bishop when he was but a 
very youth, but a man powerful in doctrine and of great wisdom ; and 
therefore he saith, he would have them not look to his appearing 
youth, but to the age of his mind, to his wisdom before God. And he 
saith, there are many that have nothing to show for their age but 
wrinkles and grey hairs. So there are many young ones m whom 
there is an excellent spirit ; and in all ages there are instances given 
of youth of whom it may be said that they are wise beyond their years. 
For the reasons, why many times young ones may have more wisdom 
than those that are aged : God doth so 

1. That he might show the freedom and sovereignty of his grace. 
He is not bound to years, nor to the ordinary course of nature, but can 
work according to his own pleasure, and give a greater measure of 
knowledge and understanding to those that are young, and otherwise 
green, than he will to those that are of great age and more experience 
in the world. You have this reason rendered : Job xxxii. 7-9, ' I 
said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.' 
There is the course : ' But there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration 
of the Almighty giveth them understanding. Great men are not 
always wise, neither do the aged understand judgment/ Though all 
men have reason and a spirit, yet the Spirit of God is a wind that blows 
where he lists. Those that exceed others in time, may come behind 
them in grace. He gives a greater measure many times of grace and 
knowledge, to show his freedom and sovereignty. 

2. Sometimes to manifest the power of his grace, both in the person 
that is endued with it, and the power of his grace upon others. As to 
to the person himself in whom this wisdom is found, when they are 
young, the Lord doth show he can subdue them by his Spirit, and make 
their prejudices vanish, enlarge their understanding, and overrule their 
heart : 1 John ii. 14, ' I write to you, young men, because ye are 
strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the 
wicked one.' In that slippery age, when lusts are boisterous, tempta 
tions most violent, and they usually uncircumspect and headstrong, 
and give up themselves to an ungoverned license, yet then can God 
subdue their hearts, and make them stand out against the snares of 
the devil. And then with respect to others, when by the foolish he 
will confound the wisdom of the wise, and blast the pride of man, and 
cast down all conceit in external privileges, and give young ones a 
more excellent spirit than the aged, as the apostle intimates such a 
thing, 1 Cor. i. 26, ' Not many wise men after the flesh, not many 
mighty, not many noble are called ; but God hath chosen the foolish 
things of the world to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the 
weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty.' 
And our Lord : Mat. xi. 25, 26, ' Thou hast hid these things from the 
wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father, 
for so it seemed good in thy sight.' Usually God will do so, when he 
will punish the unfaithfulness of those that are in public place and 
office : ' The law shall perish from the priest, and counsel from the 
ancient/ God will not take the usual way and course, but will give 
his Spirit and graces of his Spirit to them, and deny it to those that 
should be builders. 

VER. 100.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 21 

Now what use shall we make of this ? There may be an abuse of 
such a point as this, and there may be a very good use. 
To prevent the abuse 

1. This is not to be taken so but that there should be reverence 
shown to the aged, Job xxxii. 4-6. Elihu had waited till Job's 
friends had spoken, because they were elder than he. It is an abuse 
of men of a proud persuasion of their own knowledge and learning to 
despise the aged, especially when they also have a competent measure 
of the same spirit. The scripture speaks of ' Paul the aged ; ' cer 
tainly there is a reverence due to grey hairs. And it argues a great 
disorder when the staff of government is broken, and the established 
order is overturned ; when ' a child shall behave himself proudly 
against the ancient,' Isa. iii. 5, and young men shall peak up to the 
despising of their elders, Deut. xxviii. 

2. This is not to be applied so as to prejudice the general case of 
consulting with the ancients, which was Kehoboam's sin. Though God 
sometimes giveth wisdom to young men, yet the usual course is that, 
Job xxxii. 7, ' I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years 
should teach wisdom/ Certainly those that are old they are freer from 
passions, bettered by use and experience, and long continuance in study, 
have more advantages to add to their knowledge ; therefore usually, 
though the bodily eyes be dim, the understanding may be most clear 
and sharp. 

Use 2. The use in general is twofold that young men should not 
be discouraged nor despised. 

1. Not discouraged. We use to say Youth for strength and age for 
wisdom : but if they apply their hearts to religion and the study of 
God's will, and with knowledge join practice, they may profit, and so 
as they may be a means to shame those that are elder, while they come 
behind them in many gracious endowments. They are not to be dis 
couraged, as if it were too soon for them to enter into a strict course, 
or grow eminent therein ; for God may glorify himself in their sobriety, 
temperance, chastity, zeal, courage, and the setting their strong and 
eager spirits against sin is a mighty honour to God : Ps. viii. 2, ' Out 
of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, 
because of thine enemies,' &c. The graces of God in young ones do 
mightily turn to the praise of his glorious grace, and God is admired 
in them, and it is an honour and comfort to you, also : Eph. i. 12, ' In 
Christ before me : ' it is a just upbraiding to elder people that lie 
longer in sin. 

2. Nor yet should youth be despised : 1 Tim. iv. 12, ' Let no man 
despise thy youth/ God's gifts should not be despised in any, nor stir 
up rancour. God may speak by them as he spoke by Samuel, and to 
Samuel when he spoke not to old Eli. 

Having premised this, let me come to apply it particularly, though 
briefly. It coriduceth then 

1. To the encouragement of youth to betake themselves to the ways 
of God. Oh, consider ! let us begin with God betimes ; do not spend 
your youth in vanity, but in a serious mortified course. This is your 
sharp and active time, when your spirits are fresh : therefore, if your 
watch is set right now, you may understand more than the ancients. 


Give up your hearts to a religious course ; let not the devil feast upon 
the flower of your youth, and God be put off with the fragments 
and scraps of "Satan's table. While you are young take in with 
God ; it is a great honour to God, and it will be an honour and an 
advantage to you. Mat. xxi. 15, 16, when the children cry ' Hosanna 
to the Son of David/ and the Pharisees reproved him for it, Christ 
approves of it, saying, ' Have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes 
and sucklings thou hast perfected praise ? ' When young ones take 
kindly, it is a great blessing. Therefore is judgment hanging over 
this nation, that youth is so degenerated ; whereas formerly they were 
addicted to religion, now they are addicted to all manner of lusts and 
vanity. Then it would be an honour and comfort to you ; the sooner 
we begin with God, the more we glorify God, and the more praise to 
God : Eph. i. 12, ' That we should be to the praise of his glory, who 
first trusted in Christ/ They that get into Christ above l others, they 
glorify grace above others : Kom. xvi. 7, ' They were in Christ before 
me.' He that first gets into Christ, he hath the advantage of others ; 
seniority in grace is a preferment, as well as in nature. And then it 
is a great advantage: Eccles. xii. 1, ' Kemember thy Creator in the 
days of thy youth.' When we begin betimes with God, we have more 
opportunity of serving and enjoying God than others have. A man 
should 'bear the yoke in his youth,' Lam. iii. If the bent of our in 
clinations were set right in our youth, it would prevent much, and 
hinder the growth of sin. Though a man cannot plant grace in his 
heart that is the Lord's own work yet it keeps sin in, and pre 
vents inveterate custom, for they will grow upon us ; and therefore it 
makes for the. encouragement of you that they should sooner begin 
with God. 

2. It makes for the encouragement of those that have the education 
of youth ; as masters of families, parents, and the like. Do not say 
it is too soon for them to learn ; no age is too soon for God : 2 Tim. 
iii. 15, ' Thou hast from thy infancy learned the scriptures.' When 
we suck in religion with our milk, it is a great advantage ; those things 
we keep with us that we learn young : Prov. xxii. 6, ' Train up a child 
in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from 
it/ When the new vessel is seasoned with this precious liquor, it will 
keep the taste ; tender twigs are bent this way when they are as wax, 
capable of any impression. 

Use. 3. Caution for young ones. If young men should obtain this 
benefit, to grow wiser than the ancients, notwithstanding this, yet they 
should learn to show reverence to the aged, Job xxxii. 4-6 ; and then to 
ascribe it to God. Saith he, ver. 8, ' There is a spirit in man, and the 
inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding/ It is not the 
sharpness of our wit, but the inspiration of his grace ; he is the author 
of all this wisdom that is wrought in us. 

Use 4. To humble the aged, that have not made conscience of their 
time and ways, and therefore are more blockish than many children : 
Isa. Ixv. 20, ' There shall be no more an infant of days, nor an old 
man that hath not filled his days ; ' old men that are ignorant of the 
mysteries of faith, after they have long sat under the word of God, and 

1 Qu. before ' ? ED. 

VER. 100.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 23 

had many advantages to improve their youth : Heb. v. 12, ' When 
for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you 
again which be the first principles of the oracles of God ; and are 
become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.' In this 
sense God is said to take away the understanding of the aged ; that is, 
by a just judgment for their unfruitfulness and unprofitableness under 
the means of grace. They that are much younger than you are wise 
in comparison of you, when they excel you for ripeness in wisdom, for 
solidness and settledness in manners, in a course of godliness. Those 
old men that draw near to the grave before they have considered either 
the end wherefore they came into the world, or the state into which they 
shall be translated when they go out of it, those are children of one 
hundred years old, that have nothing to reckon age by, but wrinkles 
and grey hairs. 

Doct. 3. That the way to increase in spiritual understanding is to 
be studious in practical holiness. 

The word, that will give you understanding, will keep you out of 
all snares, sufficiently direct you to true happiness. But how shall we 
get it ? Kefer it to practice ; practise what you know, and you shall 
know more : it must needs be so : 

1. Because these are such as have God's promise: John vii. 17, 'If 
any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be 
of God, or whether I speak of myself.' They that make conscience of 
their ways, season their course in the fear of God, that take God's 
direction with them, God will tell them, they shall know what doctrine 
is of God. 

2. They have a greater clearness of mind and understanding, there 
fore must needs discern holy things. Why ? Because they are freed 
from the clouds of lust and passion, which do insensibly blind and 
make them stay in generals : Mat. v. 8, ' Blessed are the pure in heart, 
for they shall see God.' Saith Nazianzen, W^here there is purity 
there is brightness ; where there is a pure heart, there is a great deal 
more clearness in the understanding. Keason and fancy are dark, 
unless a man have a command over his passions and affections ; over 
his passions, of anger, fear, grief ; and over his affections, of love and 
joy, and appetite towards sensual delights ; unless he be able to govern 
these things, he will never truly discern the mind of God for the sea 
soning his course in living a holy life, That of the apostle is notable, 
2 Peter i. 5, ' Add to your faith, virtue ; and to virtue, knowledge ; 
and to knowledge, temperance.' Unless they be able to govern their 
affections in the use of worldly delights, pleasures, and profits, they 
will never have this practical knowledge ; and therefore the only way 
to know divine things, as Nazianzen well observes, is conscientiously to 
keep the commandments of God.' If you would know the will of God, 
do not spend your time in heaping up notions, but framing your heart 
to obedience, governing your affections by the fear of God, and suiting 
your hearts to the word of God. Alas ! those that seek knowledge 
out of ambition, curiosity, and vain ostentation, and lie under the 
power of vile affections, get but very little true spiritual light ; they 
may have the understanding of teachers, but not the understanding 
to season them, and guide them in their communion with God. 


3. The more we practise, the more religion is exemplified and made 
sensible, so that we come to understand more of the jsweetness of it ; 
and, on the other hand, the more of difficulty is in it when there i 
nothing but bare notions and naked apprehensions. There we have a 
double advantage, an exact rule, and more experience of the sweetness- 
of religion : Prov. iii. 17, ' All her ways are ways of pleasantness.' 
When we practise what we know, then we come to know the sweetness 
of entertaining communion with the Lord ; and they know more of 
the difficulty of religion, they know where their hearts are more averse, 
and more in danger : whereas others that soar aloft in notions, and idle 
and lofty speculations, have not this experience. 

4. They that practise, study things with more affection than others, 
mightily help the understanding. The more piety and zeal any man 
hath, the more will the Lord bless his studies. Paul profited in the 
Jewish religion above many of his equals. Why ? Gal. i. 14, ' Being 
more exceedingly zealous of the tradition of my fathers.' A man that 
hath a zeal in anything will profit more than others ; so he that hath 
a zeal for the things of God profits above others. A blunt iron, if red 
hot, will pierce through an inch board sooner than a cold tool, though 
never so sharp ; so those that have blunt parts in comparison of others, 
yet if they have zeal and good affections, they will pierce deep into the 
mysteries of religion ; they that have sharper parts, want the fire of 

5. The more fruitful any grace is, the more doth it abound with 
us ; and therefore when your knowledge is fruitful you will find it 
increased by laying out your talents : Col. i. 10, ' Be fruitful in every 
good work, always increasing in the knowledge of God/ First he 
presseth knowledge in order to practice, then he presseth practice in 
order to knowledge. Saving knowledge is the cause of practice, and it- 
is the effect of it. 

Use 1. Learn how much practice exceeds speculation, and whereby 
a man's understanding is to be valued. Who is to be accounted a 
spiritual understanding man ? Not he that hath finer notions, but he 
that is most skilful, and ' ready to every good work/ Do not content 
yourselves with a few fine opinions well dressed and curiously set forth, 
for all this is nothing to practice. It must needs be so, for practice 
is the end of knowledge. Now the end is always more worthy than 
the means ; all the means have their loveliness from their end, and all 
the means have their order and measure from their end ; that is, we 
must so use the means that we may come to such an end. Well, then, 
knowledge is worthy for practice sake, and only to be sought after in 
order to practice ; not to soar aloft, but we are to be wise to sobriety ; 
nor as wanton fancies, such as affect conceits of wit, and empty frothy 
notions ; all should be suited to practice. 

Use 2. Again, I might apply it, how ill they do that sever know 
ledge and a good conscience. When the age grew more knowing they 
were less moral in Seneca's time ; as it was so with them, so it is with 
Christianity many times. It was the saying of one, When I compare 
iormer times with ours, times of ignorance, darkness, superstition, they 
liaci more zeal, we have more light ; where there was less knowledge 
there was more practice. Now we have notions like a carbuncle, 

VER. 101.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 25 

which seems at a distance to be all fire, though it is quite cold ; so we 
seem to have high floating notions concerning godliness ; the head is 
stored with these, but hearts empty of grace, hands idle, less circum 
spect, more careless and loose, fruitless in good works. It shows us 
the cause why many, that have great dexterity in wit and excellent 
gifts in other things, yet are very stupid and blockish in the things o 
God. There is now a decay of gifts and knowledge. Why ? Because 
professors do riot refer all to practice ; and then ungodliness and less 
practice provokes the Lord to withdraw the light. God punished the 
heathens with spiritual blindness, because they did not improve their 
knowledge ; and we may justly fear it may prove so with us, who are 
all head, little heart ; much in speculations, little, very little in practical 


/ have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep 
thy word VER. 101. 

THE great work of a fast-day is to put away the evil of our doings ; as 
when a fire is kindled in a house, and begins to rage and burn fiercer, ' 
it concerns those that would stop the fury of it to remove the combus 
tible matter. The fire of God's wrath hath been kindled amongst us, 
and is not yet quenched. I suppose none of you doubt your business 
is to remove the combustible matter, to put away your sins ; this scrip 
ture will be of some use to you to that purpose. 

David had spoken of that wisdom which he had got by the word of 
God above enemies, teachers, ancients. It was not such a wisdom as 
consisted in speculation, but practice ; not only such as did enable him 
to talk high, and set his tongue awork. No ; it was such as did enable 
him to do things worthy of God, as did set his feet awork. Our feet 
are slow and heavy in God's ways, but very swift to that which is evil ; 
and therefore herein did David's wisdom consist, to bridle himself, 
to refrain his feet, that he might not run headlong into all manner of 
evil ; and not only so, but that he might be also more ready to that 
which is good : ' I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I 
might keep thy word.' Where 

1. We have David's practice, / have refrained my feet from every 
evil way. 

2. His end or motive, that I might keep thy word; that he might 
be exact and punctual with God in a course of obedience. 

1. In his practice. You may note the seriousness of it, ' I refrained 
my feet/ By the feet are meant the affections : Eccles. v. 1, ' Keep 
thy foot when thou goest into the house of God.' Our affections, 
which are the vigorous bent of the soul, do engage us to practise, 
therefore fitly resembled by the feet, by which we walk to any place 
that we do desire, so that ' I refrained my feet ; ' the meaning is, I 
keep a close and strict hand over my affections, that they might not 
lead me to sin. Then you may note the extent of it. He doth not 
only say, ' I refrained from evil,' but universally, ' from every evil way/ 


But how could David say this in truth of heart, because of his offence 
in the matter of Uriah ? Ans. This was the usual frame and temper 
of his soul, and the course of his life ; and such kind of assertions 
concerning the saints are to be interpreted voce 1 et conatu, licet non 
semper eventu. This was his errand and drift, his purpose and endea 
vour, his usual course, though he had his failings. 

2. What was his motive and end in this ? ' That I might keep 
thy'word ; ' that I might be exact and punctual with God in a course of 
obedience, and adhere to his word uniformly, universally, impartially. 

Doci. He that would keep the word must refrain his feet ; that is, 
stand at a great distance in heart and practice from all sin. 

For the illustration of the point observe 

1. A Christian must do both ; he must stand at a distance from sin, 
and he must keep the word. There is a negative and an affirmative 
part in every commandment, precepts and prohibitions ; we need 
both the bridle and the spur ; the bridle, to refrain the feet from sin ; 
and the spur, to quicken us to walk closely with God, according to the 
direction of his holy word. A simple abstinence from sin, without 
exercising ourselves unto godliness, will not serve the turn : Ps. xxxiv. 
15, ' Depart from evil, and do good/ So Ps. xxxvii. 27. There is a 
double principle in every renewed man, flesh and spirit, Gal. v. 17 ; 
and his work is to restrain the one, to keep in the flesh that would fain 
break out, and range abroad in unseemly actions ; and to encourage and 
put forth the other, the spirit in its necessary operation, with vigour and 
life. There is a double estate laid before us, heaven and hell ; there 
fore we are not only to forbear sin, which is walking to hell, but we 
must walk worthy of God in all well-pleasing, and be fruitful in good 
works, which is our way to heaven, Eph. ii. 10, ' Forbearing evil, and 
doing good/ The Pharisee's religion ran upon negatives : ' I am not an 
adulterer, an extortioner,' &c., Luke xviii. 11. Many are not vicious 
rather than godly, they keep themselves in a middle lukewarm estate ; 
and though they be not defiled with foul sins, yet do not set themselves 
seriously to serve the Lord. 

2. Both must be done with the whole man, or regarded both in 
heart and practice. It is not enough to leave off evil, but to hate it, 
nor to do good, but we must do it with a love and an affection. Com 
pare three places : Isa. i. 16, * Cease to do evil, learn to do well ;' Amos 
v. 15, ' Hate the evil, love the good/ And it is expressed with a fur 
ther emphasis, Eom. xii. 9, ' Abhor that which is evil, cleave to that 
which is good/ These places compared together will show that the 
outward act is not only to be regarded, but the frame of the heart. 
There should not only be an abstinence from the act of sin, but morti 
fying of the love of it ; for there are many that outwardly forbear sin, 
but yet do not inwardly hate it. On the other side, we are not only 
to do good, but there must be a love to good ; for many may externally 
do good when the heart abhors it. And on. the other "side, if there be 
a love to good, God passeth by many failings ; it should not be a bare 
hatred, or a cold love, but such as hath life and vehemency in it, 
abhorring that which is evil, and cleaving to that which is good the 
soul of Jonathan cleaved to David it must be a knitting love. There 
is Hainan's refraining, Esther v. 10, and David's refraining. It is said 

1 Ou. { rotn ' ? TCr> 

VER. 101.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 27 

Haman refrained himself, when his heart boiled with rancour and 
malice against Mordecai ; and there is David's refraining in the text, 
1 1 refrained my heart from every evil way/ His heart is engaged, 
when the heart cleaves to him, not easily to separate. 

3. Both are regarded, and both with the whole man. Now the one 
is required in order to the other ; we must refrain from evil that we 
may do good, and do good that we may refrain from evil ; mortifica 
tion and vivification do mutually help each other. The more lively 
grace is the more sin droopeth, the more lively sin is the more is the 
new nature oppressed. Without refraining our feet from evil there is 
no doing of good, for vivification is increased according to the degree 
of mortification: 1 Peter ii. 24, ' That we, being dead to sin, might be 
alive to righteousness.' As long as we are alive to sin, active and 
delighting in the commission thereof, we are dead to righteousness. 
But now, as the love and life of sin is weakened in our hearts, so is 
grace introduced, and we are quickened and carried on with more 
strength in holy duties ; the strength and fervour of the soul is diverted, 
and runs in another channel ; the same affections that are carried out 
to sin, the same current and stream of soul that ran out towards our 
selves, then is carried in a way of grace, the same affections, but 
carried out to other objects. And so on the other side, wherever there 
is an affection to good, there will be a cordial detestation to evil ; the 
affection to the one will awaken and increase the hatred of the other ; 
for still the soul draws that way which our affections carry them. 

4. As the one must be done in order to the other, so our care in the 
first place must be to avoid evil, or to stand at a distance from every 
known sin. He begins with that as necessary to the other ; first, ' I 
refrained my feet/ and then, ' that I might keep thy law ; ' he was to 
be more exact in a course of obedience. In planting of grace God 
keeps this method, he roots up the weeds, and then plants us wholly 
with a right seed, and so far as we are active under God in the work, 
we first ' put off the old man with his deceitful lusts,' and then, c put 
on the new man,' Eph. iv. 22. We put off the rags of sin before we 
put on the garments of salvation. The plants of righteousness will 
not thrive in an unhumbled, proud, impenitent heart ; therefore God's 
first work is the destruction of sin, and then the introduction of grace. 
The heart is purified for faith, as well as purified by faith. First, It 
must be purified for faith, that being the work of the Spirit of God ; 
for John v. 44, ' How can ye believe that seek honour one of another ? ' 
As long as any fleshly lust remains unmortified, be it ambition, vain 
glory, affecting honour, reputation, esteem in the world, the heart is 
not purified. Secondly, The heart is purified by faith, Acts xv. 9; 
more and more this corruption is wrought out. And then the heart 
is purified for fear : ' I will give a new heart,' Jer. xxxii. 40. And 
then purified by fear, as Job feared God, Job i. 1. So the heart is 
purified for love and by love ; for love : Deut. xxx. 6, 'And the Lord 
will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord 
thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul/ A believer is to 
be considered in the act of conversion and in the state of conver 
sion ; in the act of conversion, so first we turn from evil by a sound 
remorse : true grace is first planted, first purified for grace, then puri- 


fied by grace : Job feared God, then eschewed evil. Preparing grace 
is implanted in us, then it hath an exercise upon us for the weakening 
of sin more and more. 

5. Keeping at a distance from evil ; it must be as it is evil and 
contrary to the holy nature and will of God. I observe this, because 
David did not refrain his feet from evil upon any foreign and acciden 
tal reasons, for fear of men, or any sinister and by respect, but merely 
out of tender love and respect to the law of God, to testify his obedience 
to him : ' I refrained my feet from every evil way/ And what was 
his motive ? ' That I might keep thy word/ A child of God hates 
sin, as it is contrary to his drift and purpose. If we do not love good 
for good's sake, it is not good we love, but some other thing that 
cleaves to it, the temporal benefit that we think will come thereby. 
So if we do not hate evil as evil, but because of the loss and detriment 
that attends the practice of it, it is not sin that we hate, but incon 
veniences. As Austin saith of the eternal reward, There are many 
non peccare metuunt, sed ardere they are not afraid to sin, but are 
afraid to be damned. So a natural conscience may upon foreign and 
accidental reasons stand aloof from sin, as a dog may forbear a 
morsel for fear of the cudgel ; convinced men may forbear sin out of 
horror of conscience, and not out of any serious dislike of heart against 
it. Briefly, there is custom, education, penalty of law, infamy, shame 
of the world, difficulty of compassing sin, shame in practising. These 
are but accidental reasons, these may make us refrain, they may breed 
a casual dislike, but not a natural hatred ; for a gracious refraining 
must be upon a religious reason. David gives an account, not only of 
his practice, but his motive : ' I refrained my feet from every evil 
way.' And why ? ' That I might keep thy word.' 

6. This refraining must be from every sinful course. The grace of 
justification will teach this, and the grace of sanctification ; the grace 
of justification, that pardoneth all sin, will teach us to deny all, Titus ii. 
12 ; and the grace of sanctification will teach us to deny not one, but 
all, for that introduceth a settled hatred against sin in the soul. Now 
hatred is TT/DO? TO. yevrj t to the whole kind ; he that hates one sin as 
sin, hates all sin, as Haman thought scorn to lay his hands upon 
Mordecai alone, but sought to destroy all the seed of the Jews, Esther 
iii. 6. So this hatred is universally carried out against all sin. Indeed 
they do not mortify any sin that do not mortify every sin ; one lust 
remaining urimortified keeps the devil's interest afoot in the soul. 
Pharaoh, when the Israelites would have gone, would fain have a pawn of 
their return, their flocks, their herds, or their children, that they might 
be sure to come back again. So Satan, if a man be touched in con 
science, and will bethink himself, and look after religion, if he can get 
but a pawn, a corner of the heart, one sin, he knows his interest is still 
kept. Herod did many things, but he had his Herodias, and that held 
him fast and sure to Satan. The young man had a sense of eternal 
life upon him, Mat. xix. 22, and he did many things, 'All these have 
L kept from my youth,' but he was worldly. There are certain tender 
parts in the soul that are loath to be touched ; but now if we would be 
sincere .with God, we must refrain from every evil way. Any one man 
entertained besides the husband, it breaks the marriage covenant ; any 

VER. 101.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 29 

one sin allowed in the soul, be it never so small, it. forfeits our privi 
leges by grace. 

But now, because particulars are more effective, and do strike upon 
the soul with the more smart blow than generals, briefly consider : 

1. We must refrain from every evil way ; not only notorious sins, 
but those that are plausible and of more reputation in the world, that 
are not so rank in the nostrils of men, and expose us to such disgrace 
and dishonour. There are open sins that are found hateful, that 
have a turpitude in them, and bring shame : Gal. v. 19, epya rfjs 
a-ap/cbs, ' the works of the flesh are manifest ; ' such as murder, adultery, 
gross oppression, these are rank weeds of an ill savour, that stink in 
nature's nostrils, and are accompanied with shame and disgrace. To 
refrain from these is little thanks, Luke xviii. 11. The Pharisee 
wipes his hand of these, ' I am not an adulterer/ &c. Ay ! but he 
was proud, censorious, and covetous. There are pride, censoriousness, 
covetousness, and worldliness, cloaked sins that are not of such disgrace 
in the world, all these should be hated by you. Many times those 
sins that are majoris in/amice, of greater infamy, are not always 
majoris reatus, they do not leave the greatest guilt upon you. Un 
belief is not infamous in the world, neglect of the gospel of grace, 
want of love to Christ Jesus, these are great sins : and therefore you 
must not only abstain from notorious sins, but those which are more 
plausible, and are not of such ill fame in the world. 

2. You must abstain from sins outward and inward, Isa. Iv. 7. The 
sinner must not only forsake his way, but his thought ; by his way is 
meant his outward course and practice, but he must make conscience 
of his thoughts, and secret workings of heart. Practices may be over 
ruled by by-ends, but thoughts and desires, these are the genuine 
immediate motions and issues of the soul, that do come immediately 
out of the fountain, and are restrained only by grace. 

3. Sins profitable and pleasant, as well as those that have no such 
allurement and blandishment in them. There are many sins that 
have nothing of allurement in them, that are entertained only upon 
sin's account and evil custom, as rash swearing, blasphemy, malice and 
the like ; but there other sins that allure and entice the soul by the 
promise of profit and pleasure, those two bastard goods that do make 
us often quit the good of honesty and duty. Now, you are to ' deny 
all ungodliness and worldly lusts/ Titus ii. 12 ; worldly lusts, whatever 
would endanger the soul, all inordinate inclinations that carry you out 
to these things of pleasing the flesh and gratifying worldly interests. 

4. In refraining the feet from every evil way, that is, from sins 
against either table, Rom. i. 18. Mark, God hath owned both tables, 
not only revealed his wrath against ungodliness, breaches of the first 
table ; but against unrighteousness, breaches of the second table. Many 
indeed will not be unjust, intemperate, unkind to their neighbours; 
ay ! but they express no affection to God by worshipping him in their 
hearts, by faith, fear, and love, or in their houses by constant prayer 
morning and evening, and secret and familiar in closet converses with 
God ; they are guilty of ungodliness though not of unrighteousness. 
And there are many that would be much in worship, in praying, fasting, 
and hearing, but they forget their neighbours ; they are unrighteous, 


they do not make conscience in their dealings with men, and in the 
duties of their relations are unfaithful, many times to the great dis 
honour of God ; they do things heathens would boggle at. 

5. There are great sins and small sins. Many make not conscience 
of small offences, count these venial. Certainly he that would have 
a tender regard to God's law, no sin should seem little to him that 
is an offence to the great God. It is Satan's custom by small sins to 
draw us to greater, as the little sticks do set the great ones on fire, 
and a wisp of straw enkindles a block of wood ; and by small sins we 
are enticed by Satan. The least sin allowed of is of a deadly and 
dangerous consequence: Mat. v. 19, 'Whosoever shall break the least 
of these commandments, and teach men so.' It is treason to coin a 
penny as well as a pound. To break the least of God's command 
ments, to make no conscience of them, because it is a small thing, 
argues a naughty heart. Bodkins may wound and stab as well as 
swords. Look, as we read of the prophet, he was- devoured of lions, so 
we read of Herod, he was eaten up by lice. Small sins may be a very 
great mischief to the soul. Little sins are often the mother of great 
sins, and the grandmother of great punishments and of plagues from 
God ; and therefore these lesser sins we must refrain from : ' I kept 
myself from every evil way/ 

6. We must not commit anything that is evil out of a good intention, 
if it be an evil, but stand at a distance from it. Do not turn aside to 
any crooked path upon any pretence soever. Some have a good action 
but a bad aim. Now these do, as it were, make God serve the devil ; 
they do the action which God hath required, but their aim is that 
which gratifies Satan. There are others that have a good aim but a 
bad action. These make the devil serve God, as if God could not 
provide for his own glory well enough without their sin. Therefore, 
if it be an evil way, refrain it, though you think you may bring good 
out of it. Saul would be offering sacrifice, an unwarrantable action 
for him to invade the priestly office, 1 Sam. xiii. 13, 14, He was 
loath to go to battle until he had sacrificed, and would not tarry till 
Samuel came. What then? See what Samuel saith, 'Thou hast 
done foolishly ; thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy 
God which he commanded thee/ Here was a good aim, but a bad 
action, and you see how severe judgment fell upon him. I say, he 
forfeited his kingdom by doing an undue action, though for a good 
end. Uzzah he put forth his hand to stay the ark, which was an 
undue circumstance ; he had a good aim in it, that the ark of God 
might not be shaken, that it might not fall and be shattered in pieces, 
and the mysteries of their religion prostituted: 2 Sam. vi. 7, 'And 
the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God smote 
him there for his error, and he died/ Many think to bear out them 
selves by good intentions that are drawn into an evil way ; they hope 
to bring things to a better pass. It is dangerous to step out of God's 
way; God's ends can best be brought about by God's way. The 
judgments of the Lord upon these nations have been mainly for un 
warrantable actions upon good intentions ; and though usually we 
have committed one sin to help another, yet there hath been a pretence 
of a good intention, a good aim. 

VER. 101.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 31 

7. We are not only to avoid such sins as seem to lie remote from 
our temper and course of our business and interest, but our own 
special sins ; those sins which suit better with our condition, constitu 
tion, calling, employment: Ps. xviii. 23, ' I was upright before thee, 
and kept myself from mine iniquity.' Every man hath his iniquity ; 
as every man hath his particular temper, so he hath his particular 
sins, and if he belong to God he hath his particular graces. The 
saints have their particular graces ; Timothy for abstinence and tem 
perance, Job for patience, Abraham for faith, therefore styled the 
father of the faithful ; Moses was eminent for meekness. So there are 
particular sins ; men are passionate, worldly, voluptuous, ambitious, 
and as the channel is cut, so corrupt nature finds a vent and passage : 
Isa. liii. 6, ' All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every 
one to his own way/ We are all out of the way, but every man hath 
a particular way of sin. Look, as in the natural body, every man 
hath all the faculties of a man, yet some this faculty more vigorous 
and lively than other, some for memory, judgment, invention, quick 
ness of wit, so it is as to particular sins. Now these should be most 
resisted and most opposed by us. The scripture requires of us, Mat. 
v. 19, ' To cut off our right hand, and pluck out our right eye ; ' these, 
if they be not watched, will run into scandal ; our particular sins 
make us dishonour God, dishonour our profession, and become a re 
proach to the gospel. It is notable, when our Saviour dissuaded from 
giving scandal, Mat. xviii. 8, 9, he revives those sentences of cutting 
off the right hand and plucking out the right eye. These sins will 
make you a dishonour to the gospel if you do not watch over them. 

8. There are the sins of the times wherein we live, vitium seculi. 
Indeed it is hard to keep our ground in a great flood ; when a stream 
is strong it is ready to carry us away ; but he that would be punctual 
with God should keep from the sins of the times. Peter dissembled 
with the Jews, and the godly Jews fell a-dissembling of their religion, 
insomuch that Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation, 
Gal. ii. 13. When sin seems to be authorised by a general practice, 
it concerns you to stand at a distance, to have nothing to do there. 
Noah was an upright man, feared God, and served him in a corrupt 
age, Gen. vi. 9. They are dead fishes that are carried away with the 
stream. We are not to walk Kara rrjv alwva, ' according to the course 
of this world/ Eph. ii. 2, but ' to walk according to the rule/ Gal. vi. 
16. In many ages there are certain sins, until light disprove them, 
and the Lord clears up his will, that men run into, and are carried 
away by violence of the stream, while the stream runs that way in 
their age. But this will be no excuse, you are to be upright, and not 
carried away by vitium seculi, the evil way of the times. 

9. We are not only to refrain our feet from evil, but from all the 
occasions and appearances of evil ; and not to stand so much as within 
the scent of a temptation ; as crows and ravens, when they are beaten 
away from the carrion, will stand within the scent. We are to stand 
at a great distance from all that seems to tend to sin, not only from 
evil, but the appearanco of it, 1 Thes. v. 22. Sin should be so hateful 
to us, that the very picture of it should be abhorred. Many times 
some sins are the occasion of others, as covetousness is occasioned by 


distrust there certainly we are to avoid occasions as well as sins them 
selves. Ay ! but if the thing be lawful, and we know our weakness, 
we sliould not easily ride into the devil's quarters, and run into the 
mouth of temptation. Look, as Solomon in that particular sin adviseth 
the young man, Prov. v. 8, ' Remove thy way far from her, and come 
not nigh the door of her house.' He would not have the young ^man 
venture upon the occasion. And God's strictness to the Nazarite is 
very notable, Num. vi. 3, 4, as he was to drink no wine or strong 
drink, so no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, nor drink any 
liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried ; and afterwards he 
was not so much as to eat either the husk or kernel of the grape. 
Thus God would have us stand at a distance. This was a typical 
figure, to show at how great a distance we should stand from sin, and 
refrain ourselves from all evil ; as the apostle saith, ' Hate the gar 
ments spotted with the flesh/ Jude 23, an allusion to those that 
touched an unclean thing. Bushing upon snares and occasions of 
evil, we hazard the surprisal of our souls. As Ceesar said of his wife, 
Oportet Ccesaris uxorem non solum castam esse, &c, she should not 
only be chaste, but free from all suspicion ; so God will have his 
people to be void of suspicion, and to be clear and innocent from all 
kind of transgressions. Thus you see how we are to refrain from every 
evil way. 

The reasons of this are two (1.) Because sins will weaken our 
graces; (2.) They will weaken our comfort ; both which are necessary 
to the keeping of God's law. Therefore, if we would keep the law, 
and be punctual and close with God in a course of obedience, we must 
stand at a great distance in heart and practice from all sin. 

1. Sins will weaken our graces. There are several graces necessary 
to the keeping of God's law, as faith, fear, love, hope. You know, at 
conversion God puts a vital principle into us, that is diversified and 
called by these several names. These graces are planted in us as 
principles of operation, and as these decay, our acts of obedience will 
be more or less ; a sickly faith can produce but weak operations ; as 
if the root wither and decay, the branches will not long flourish. So 
when our fear and reverence of God is lessened, as it is by every act 
of sin, the spiritual life will not be carried on with that exactness and 
care. So when our love waxeth cold, we will not be so diligent and 
serious, for these are the principles of operations, Bev. iii. 3. When 
they left their first love, they left their first works. If there be a 
decay and diminution of our graces, then there will be an intercession 
of acts and operations ; these graces will suffer a shrewd loss ; they are 
qualities, and therefore capable of increase and remission, being more 
or less. As love may wax cold, Mat. xxiv. 26 ; fear may be greater 
or less ; soiaith ; though there be some seed of grace, remains to pre 
serve the interest of the soul, yet things may be ready to die and 
faint. How do they decay ? By sins. Gal. v. 17. These things are 
contrary flesh and spirit; that is, always warring upon one 
another and weakening one another; and here lies the Christian's 
advantage, to observe which is up and which is down. By every act 
of deliberate sin the flesh is strengthened and grace weakened ; these 
are up and down in a renewed heart ; therefore it is good to see which 

VER. 101.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 33 

prevails, that you may not weaken your strength. If you gratify the 
flesh, you hearten your enemy, and strengthen your clog, and so grace 

2. It weakens our comfort. Comfort is necessary to make us lively 
and cheerful in God's service. The Lord knows we drive on heavily 
when we have not that peace of conscience, serenity of mind, and want 
the comforts of God's Spirit. The more our hearts are enlarged the 
more we run the way of God's commandments, Ps. cxix. 32. What 
is an enlarged heart ? Chiefly by joy and comfort ; it is joy that 
enlargeth the heart. Now sin weakens this joy, this comfort which 
is our strength. When Adam sinned, his soul was filled with horror, 
Gen. iii. 10 ; and David, when he had been tampering with sin, lost 
his comfort : Ps. li. 8, ' Make me to hear of joy and gladness, that the 
bones which thou hast broken may rejoice ; ' and ver. 12, ' Restore to 
me the joy of thy salvation/ He that pricks himself with a needle or 
sharp thing must needs feel pain ; so whosoever gives way to sin. 
certainly will have trouble of soul, confusion, grief, fear, sorrow, and 
loseth his sense of salvation for a time, and sins away his peace. 
Always the more exact our walking, the more is our peace of con 
science: 2 Cor. i. 12, 'This is our rejoicing, the testimony of our 
conscience,' &c. Well, then, if we would be punctual with God, we see 
how much it concerns us to stand at a distance from every evil way. 

Use 1. To show how far they are from a course of obedience that 
live under a full power of their sins. Never think you seek after that 
which is good while your evil scent remains with you, and your former 
evils are in life and strength to this very day. All those that wallow 
in brutish sins of drunkenness and adultery, so those that are guilty 
of common swearing, Sabbath-breaking, and such like gross sins, these 
have good thoughts of themselves, they have sincerity towards God ; 
but such have a spot that is not the spot of God's people. Twice there 
is a caution interposed that such should not be deceived, 1 Cor. vi. 9 ; 
Eph. vi. 6. You will say, Where lies the danger of any deceit ? The 
worst are apt to deceive their own hearts. There is a world of these 
deceivings in the hearts of men ; the best of saints have fallen into as 
great sins. They think these are but petty slips and human infirmities, 
and God's patience will suffer all ; grace will pardon all at length, 
and no man is perfect ; therefore they have some hopes to even those 
that are drunkards, adulterers, and abusers of themselves with man 
kind ; though their sins be as Sodom, those that fall into the grossest 
sins ; they are apt to be deceived. Be not deceived ; these things are 
not consistent with grace. 

2. It shows how far they are from the temper of God's children that 
are not punctual with God in a course of obedience, that hate one kind 
of evil, not another. Many hate prodigality, yet not covetousness ; hate 
covetousness, and are given up to sensuality ; hate an epicure, and such 
a one as squanders away his estate, think as evil of him as can be, but 
not hard hearts, such as shut up their bowels, and do no good in their 
places j and some hate sensuality, but not pride, but cherish that ; 
there is some sweet bit under his tongue, as Zophar speaks, Job xx. 
12. Christians ! though we can subdue no sin as we should, yet we are 
to resist every sin, and especially to bend all the force and strength of 



your souls against your sins, that sin which is most apt to prevail with 
you : this isa sign of uprightness, Ps. xviii. 23. And therefore, if you 
would know whether you have given up yourselves to walk with God, 
to keep his word, what labouring hath there been with your own hearts? 
what pains have you taken to set against your own sins? are you 
most jealous of it, pray most against it, often turn the edge of the 
word upon it ? are you observing the decays, or do you keep it under 
the tongue ? Keason with yourselves upon the world to come ; is it 
reserved corruption or remaining corruption ? Have you never been 
dealing with your hearts to suppress such a corrupt inclination as you 
have been often foiled with ? 

Use 2. To press those that would be exact with God, to stand at a 
distance in heart and practice from every known sin ; whatever urging 
and solicitations you have within yourselves, though it would break out, 
yet have you refrained. To this end let me commend two graces 
and two duties. The two graces are love to God and his word, and 
fear to God and his word. 

For the graces : 

1. A love to God, a love to the word of God. A love to God : Ps. 
xcvii. 10, 'Ye that love the Lord, hate evil/ It is as natural and as 
kindly to the new nature to hate the chiefest evil, as it is to love the 
chiefest good. Do you talk of love and communion with God, and 
never exercise yourselves in refraining your feet from every evil way ? 
Certainly if you have any love to God, you will hate that which God 
hates ; for idem velle et nolle, to will and nill the same things, that is 
true friendship ; therefore if God be your friend, you will hate as he 
hates, that which makes a breach between you and God, and makes 
you grow shy of God, and lose your familiarity with him. As love 
to God, so love to his word : Ps. cxix. 113, 'I hate vain thoughts, but 
thy law do I love.' Certainly if a man hath a love to the law, he will 
not only hate sin in practice, but vain thoughts, what tends to break 
ing the law in his thoughts, any lesser contrariety, contradiction, or 
defiance of God's law; for our hatred is engaged by love. Well, 
get this love, set it a-work, improve it by reason (for every affection is 
fed by discourses of the mind). All sins are set a-work by some dis 
course, so graces are set a-work by discoursing^ of our minds. Now 
set this love a-work. Oh ! shall I, that have tasted so much of the love 
of God, or that do pretend to love God and Christ, and enjoy com 
munion with him, yield to follow sin ? Ezra ix. 13, ' What I after 
such a deliverance as this, should we again break thy commandment ?' 
When God hath delivered us, not only out of Babylon, but, you may 
say, out of hell, how should we set love a-work ? The great instance 
of God's love was the giving his Son : 1 John iv. 9, 10, ' Herein is 
love/ &c. Now, then, if God hate and resist sin, reason and argue 
from this love : What ! shall God give his Son for me, and I not spare 
a lust for God ? When God did not stand upon his Son, that was so 
dear and precious to him, shall I stand upon my sin ? What ! shall 
Christ die for me, to ransom me from hell ? is this my kindness to my 
friend ? Cyprian brings in Satan pleading thus, as vaunting against 
Christ : I never spilt one drop of blood, my back was never mangled 
with wkpa and scourges, I never had a heaven to bestow upon them ; 

VEK. 101.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 35 

yet among all thy beneficiaries, show me any so busy, painful, diligent, 
exact in thy service, as these are in mine. Thou hast shed thy blood, 
and endured a painful and an accursed death for them ; yet they are 
not so dutiful to thee as to me. You see whereto this tends ; and 
shall Christ do so much for us, and we not deny our lusts for him ? 
Surely if we have any sense of the love of Christ Jesus, it will work 
this hatred, this abhorrency and refraining ourselves from every evil 
way. Thus set love a-work. 

2. Another grace is a fear of God and his word. A fear of God : 
Prov. viii. 13, ' The fear of the Lord is to depart from evil ;' Job i. 1, 
' Job feared God, and eschewed evil.' Surely a fear of God will make 
you refrain yourselves from every evil way. And not only so, but a 
fear of his word, that is useful : Prov. xiii. 12, ' He that feareth a 
commandment shall be rewarded/ It is not said he that fears a judg 
ment, but he that fears a commandment. If the word stands in his 
way, it is more than if all the inconveniences in the world stand in his 
way. This also should be improved by holy reasoning and discourse. 
You may reason as Joseph : The Lord seeth me, and ' how can I do this 
wickedness and sin against God ? ' Gen. xxxix. 9. Shall I break the 
Lord's laws before his face ? What ! when my heavenly father hath 
forbidden me ? The sons of Jonadab the son of Bechab, Jer. xxxiv. 
5, 6, they were afraid to drink wine when the prophet brought pots 
before them. No, we dare not ; our father hath commanded us the 
contrary. Their father was dead, and could not take cognisance of 
their actions, to call them to account for breaking the rule of the 
institution ; but there was an awe upon them. But our Father's eyes 
run to and fro throughout the whole earth. Therefore when you are 
tempted to sin and folly, say, I dare not ; God hath commanded me 
in his word to the contrary. Set fear a-work ; here is a command 
ment stands in my way ; the great God he sees all things, and will one 
day call us to an account. 

The two duties into which these graces do run and issue themselves 
are watchfulness and resistance. Watchfulness ; we are poor creatures, 
in the midst of snares, very easily may miscarry, partly through our 
constitution ; there is flesh as well as spirit, and the flesh doth always 
stir, and not lie idle. Old sins, that seemed to be laid asleep, may 
easily waken again. The devil suits the bait to the season and affec 
tions we are under, as angels furnish their hook with a proper bait. 
Oh ! saith Bernard, here are fears, there snares ; that which pleases 
is apt to tempt me, that which frightens is apt to terrify me. What 
should a poor creature do ? Be watchful, stand upon your guard, 
that you be not surprised by the craft of Satan, that you may not 
swallow the hook when he sets the bait to your appetite. And then 
powerful resistance of evil, that sin may not prevail, and we more and 
more drawn off from God. Do not yield a little ; smaller sins make 
way for greater ; when the gap is once open, it is wider and wider ; if 
sin be not stifled at first, it will increase. 




I have not departed from tliy judgments : for tliou hast taught me. 

VER. 102. 

IN the former verse he had spoken of his vigilancy against evil, as the 
result of that wisdom which he got by the word ; now he speaketh of 
his constant adherence to God's direction. Here you may take notice 

of two thino-s (1.) David's exactness and constancy in obedience, / 

have not departed from thy judgments. (2.) The reason of it, for thow 
hast taught me. 

Branch 1. By misphalim, judgments, is meant b-od s law^ior there 
by he will judge the world. And the word departed not intimateth 
both his exactness and constancy ; his exactness, that he did not go 
an hair's-breadth from his direction : Deut. v. 32, ' Ye shall observe to 
do what the Lord your God hath commanded you : ye shall not turn 
aside to the right hand or to the left.' And his constancy is employed 
in it ; for then we are said to depart from God and his law when we 
fall off from him in judgment and practice, Jer. xxxii. 40. 

Branch 2. God's institution and continual instincts. The Septua- 
gint, evofjioOeTyo-ds /-te ; and thence the vulgar, Legem posuisti mild 
thou hast given me that law ; and so the reason would be drawn from 
God's authority ; but rather it is meant of his internal illumination 
and constant direction. Observe 

1. A man that would show love to the word must show it by a 
constant and exact adherence to the directions thereof, whatever 
temptations he meet with to the contrary. David produceth this as 
one evidence of that affection in the first verse of this section or part : 
' Oh, how I love thy law !' I shall show you 

1. What temptations there are to the contrary. 

2. What reason there is to be exact and constant. 
First, What temptations to the contrary. 

1. From the natural instability of our own hearts ; nothing is so 
changeable as man. We have certain heats for the present, but we 
soon cool again ; and when temptations arise, are carried off from God, 
and that exactness and care that we were wont to show in our obed 
ience to him. What was said of Keuben is true of every man in some 
degree, Gen. xlix. 4, ' Unstable as water.' It is carried hither and 
thither, in various and uncertain motions. So are we up and down, 
off and on, ebbing and flowing, not steadfast in any good frame ; some 
times seen to have strong motions towards God and holiness, but anon 
grow cold and careless, or as a bird is now upon the top of a tree, by 
and by upon the under branches, and then upon the ground. Such a 
different posture or spirit may every one observe in himself, and some 
times in the same duty. God is always the same, and so are his ways ; 
they have the same loveliness which they had before, but we are not; 
always the same. The rock standeth where it did, but the waters flow 
to and again. The least blast of a temptation maketh us break off 
our course. Now this natural levity of spirit is a great hindrance 
to us. We do not always see with the same eyes, nor have we the 

VER. 102.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 37 

same degree of affection. 'You did run well, who hindered you?' 
Gal. v. 7. There may be a ready forwardness, and yet a great defec 
tion afterwards. This uncertainty is not only at first, before, we are 
settled by grace, or have any sound acquaintance with God's ways. 
Then it is most, James i. 8. But after conversion it remaineth with 
us in part. Those measures of affection and zeal which we once 
obtained are not constant with us, but suffer some notable decay, and 
our edge is often taken off and blunted. Especially our first love is 
not of long standing, and our after-carriage not answerable to our 
promising beginnings. Now, there is no satisfying reason for this 
change, why we should make a halt, and grow remiss and lag in the 
profession of godliness, and leave off our first works ; nothing but our 
changeableness of spirit. 

2. From the furious oppositions and malice of Satan and his instru 

[1.] Satan pursueth after men that would cleave to God's ways, as 
Pharaoh did after the Israelites ; either to bring them back again, or 
to weary them and vex them, and make their present course un 
comfortable to them. Now, the violent assault of multiplied tempta 
tions is apt to make us stagger and depart from that good course that 
we have propounded to ourselves ; as the Israelites were running back 
to Egypt because of the inconveniences of the wilderness. But it 
should not be so ; a Christian should stand his ground, ' Whom resist, 
steadfast in the faith; knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished 
in your brethren that are in the world/ 1 Peter v. 9. They that make 
conscience of their duty, and are most set to serve and honour God, 
must reckon upon the hottest battle, and sorest conflict from Satan, to 
hinder or discourage them therein : he watcheth all advantages, and 
is still in action against them. Now this should not shake us, or 
loosen our adherence to the truths of the gospel ; for so it is with 
every one that goeth to heaven : he must be watching, praying, striv 
ing. Yielding is not the way to be quiet, but resisting ; if you yield to 
him in the least, he will carry you farther and farther, till he hath 
left thee under a stupefied or terrified conscience : stupefied till thou 
hast lost all thy tenderness. A stone at the top of a hill, when it 
beginneth to roll down, ceaseth not till it come to the bottom. Thou 
thinkest it is but yielding a little, and so by degrees art carried on, till 
thou hast sinned away all thy profession, and all principles of con 
science, by the secret witchery of his temptations : and of the other 
side, terrified, till thy peace, comfort, and sweet sense of God's love 
be gone ; and thou brought under the black horrors of a dreadful 
despair. Therefore a stout and peremptory resistance is the only 
means of safety. Consider, your case is not singular, your lot is 
no harder than the rest of God's children therefore do not depart 
from God. 

[2.] Satan's instruments may rage against us, and yet we must not 
depart : Ps. xliv. 17, 18, ' All this is come upon us, yet have we not 
forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant : our 
heart is not turned back, neither hath our steps declined from thy 
way.' All this ! What ? Scorn, disgrace, bloody, cruel, reproved, 
maligned, butchered, yet steadfast with God in the profession of the 


faith. Hazards and troubles are no excuse ; this is but a time to show 
our love to God, our duty to God is the same still. 

3. From the example of others, especially who are of esteem for 
godliness. Example hath a mighty force upon men. Man is a duc 
tile creature ; like sheep, they run for company ; not what we ought 
to do, but what others do. There are three reasons of natural cor 
ruption, the flesh, the devil. But first, example of others : Eph. ii. 2, 
' In time past ye walked according to the course of this world.' The 
universal corrupt course and custom of those among whom we live is a 
great snare. Te follow a multitude to do evil is a strong excitement, 
but no sufficient excuse, especially of good men. They that are gra 
cious may stagger strangely in reeling times, and be overtaken with 
dangerous mistakes. Now their sins authorise others, and draw them 
intothe snare : Gal. ii. 12, ' Carried away with their dissimulation.' 
A strong stream or current impetuously doth carry all things away 
with it. They take all for current that they do, without examining 
their actions, and so run away from the rule by their errors. 

4. From the providence of God, which may seem to be against 
those that are exact right, or the sure way pointed out to us in his 
word, two ways: 

pL] In the manifold disappointments as to his favouring a good 
cause; their endeavours blasted, many troubles befall them. God's 
people are often put to trials by God himself, to try the sincerity of their 
love. Blind Bartimeus rebuked by the disciples : Mark x. 48, ' Many 
charged him that he should hold his peace, but he cried the more a 
great deal, Thou Son of David, have mercy upon me/ And so Christ to 
the woman of Canaan, Mat. xv. 22-27, puts her off. And are not we 
put to such trials in these latter times ? When we own him, God seemeth 
to put us off ; providence appeareth with a doubtful face. They that 
take to the better part may be reduced to great straits; therefore 
sometimes it may ' happen to the righteous according to the work of 
the wicked, and to the wicked according to the work of the righteous/ 
Eccles. viii. 4. So variously doth God dispense external good and evil, 
and may seem to frown upon those that are faithful now ; yet we 
should not depart from his judgments : Job xiii. 14, ' Though he kill 
me, yet will I trust in him.' We should wrestle through many dis 
appointments here, or hereafter God will not own us. 

[2.] By giving success to a wrong party, that layeth claim to him, 
to his favour in an evil way, and interpret when his providence 
seems to be an approbation of an evil course. It is a great tempta 
tion. God's choicest servants have been staggered by it ; yet it is but a 
temptation : Ps. 1. 21, ' I kept silence, and thou thoughtest that I was 
altogether such an one as thyself.' God may hold his hand, though 
they strangely transform him in their thoughts, and entitle their 
actions to his patronage. God trieth you : Deut. xiii. 2, 3, c The 
Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your 
God, with all your heart and with all your soul.' God's word is so 
clear and satisfactory, that by a righteous judgment he may permit it, 
to try our steadfastness and obedience, not as chaff, but as solid grain. 
But must we not regard providences ? Yes, but not interpret them 
against the word, but with it. It is comfortable to see the word 

VER. 102.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 39 

backed with a providence, Kom. ii. 18 ; Heb. ii. 2 ; and Hosea vii. 12 ; 
when the word is made good, and they feel that which they would not 
believe. Not interpret it against the word. Providence is never against 
the word ; it is an exact comment upon it, if we had eyes to see it ; and 
when we see it altogether we shall find it so. But now we view it by 
pieces, and so mistake : Eom. viii. 28, ' For we know that all things 
work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called 
according to purpose;' Ps. Ixxiii. 17, 'Until I went into the sanc 
tuary, then understood I their ends/ When we look to the end of 
things, all hazards are over. 

Secondly, The reasons why we must be exact and constant, not 
withstanding these temptations. ' I will name but two, implied in the 
two words of the text, ' Thy judgments ' (1.) It is God's word ; (2.) 
God's word is judgment. 

1. It is God's direction, who cannot deceive or be deceived; you 
may venture your soul's temporal and eternal estate, and all upon it, 
upon God's bare word ; for it is impossible for him to lie in his pro 
mises, Heb. vi. 18, or to be deceived in his directions. The word of 
the Lord is a pure rule : 1 John ii. 27, * The unction teacheth you all 
things, and is truth, and is no lie.' There is no erring while we walk 
by this direction, the Spirit of God teaching us by his word; and in 
deed this is the effect of that great faith, to believe God upon his bare 
word, to believe what he hath spoken is true, and to act accordingly. 
If this were rooted in our hearts, we should not be so unstable, so 
easily foiled by Satan, discouraged by the oppositions of evil men, or live 
by example, but by rule, and would interpret the providence of God 
to the advantage, and not the prejudice of obedience : ' Whom resist, 
steadfast in the faith,' 1 Peter v. 9. Adhere to the truth of the word : 
I know here is my direction, and in the issue will be my safety and 
happiness. But either we do not believe this is God's word, or do not 
urge the heart with God's authority and veracity, and therefore we are 
up and down. But now, when we determine this is God's word, and 
so receive it, 1 Thes. ii. 13, ' 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/ And then it is my rule ; whatever it 
cost me. There you urge the heart with the authority of God, Mat. 
xvi. 24 : a resolute giving up ourselves to God's direction, and to re 
ceive the law from his mouth. And it is a certain rule, whatever cross 
accidents fall out, it should be received with such certainty and absolute 
authority as nothing should move us. So assured of it, ' that if an angel 
should preach any other doctrine, let him be accursed/ Gal. i. 8 ; 2 Tim. 
iii. 16; and 2 Peter i. 2. When it is believed to be the Lord's mind, it 
is a sure ground for faith to rest upon ; it is not a doctrine found out 
by the wit of man, no private invention of others, but God's inspira 
tion. God hath wisdom to direct me the safest way, and goodness and 
faithfulness enough not to mislead me : ' Good and upright is the Lord, 
therefore will he teach sinners in the way/ Ps. xxv. 8. It is not the 
devices of their heads that wrote it, but the public mind of God. And 
saith the apostle, c Knowing this first ;' this is the first and supreme 
principle : he had said, ver. 19, that we should consult with the word for 
direction and comfort before we can get any saving light or true comfort. 


2 It is judgments. Every man's doom is contained in the word, 
and if you can^but stay a little, you shall see it verified by sensible and 
plain experiences. Do but wait and observe how God maketli good 
his promises, and accomplished his threatenings, and you will see no 
cause to depart ; you will find you have done right in the issue, and 
that close obedience is the only way of safety and happiness here and 
hereafter. David did so as to his own case : Ps. xvm. 21, ' L have 
kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my 
God.' And was he a loser by it ? No ; ' God hath recompensed me 
according to the cleanness of my hands/ On the other side, those that 
depart from God are destroyed ; his word will be made good against 
them : Ps. cxix. 119, ' Thou puttest away the wicked of the earth like 

Use 1. Direction to us both in public and private cases. Be sure 
you follow such ways as God's word doth allow, for otherwise it is not 
constancy, but obstinacy ; and then whatever troubles and discourage 
ments you meet with, this will be a comfort to you, that you are in 
God's way. 

First, As to your private case, be not discouraged by the instability 
of your heart and the temptations of Satan. You will be up and down 
with God ; but observe these two rules : 

1. It is necessary to watch against your first declinings, lest by 
little and little the heart be stolen away from God. When you lose 
your savour of holy things, lessen your diligence, and are not so exact 
and watchful, you begin to depart from God. The gap once made^in. 
the conscience groweth wider and wider every day. The first declin 
ings are a cause of all the rest ; remitting your watch and spiritual 
fervour, by degrees you do not walk with such a straight foot : he 
that looketh to the house to keep it tight and in constant repair, pre 
vents the fall of it. 

2. If through our infirmity we miscarry at any time, we must not 
persist in a wrong course, but reclaim speedily, not depart wickedly, 
Ps. xviii. 21, not lie in the dirt when we have caught a fall. There is 
a departing out of infirmity, and a departing wickedly. A candle 
sucketh light if presently kindled again ; the longer we lie in our sins 
the worse ; the more care, the more speedy, the more likely to succeed, 
when there is any breach between us and God ; not lie in it. 

Secondly, As to public actions. We live in changeable times, but 
it is well that we have a sure rule ; this may stablish your hearts. If 
governed by sense and interest, with what a gracious face shall we ap 
pear to the world ? Though you meet with troubles for being exact 
and punctual as to principles of conscience, and many disappoint 
ments from God, yet in the issue that will be found to be the best 
course for you and yours. Now, when you see your duty, for which 
you must consult both with word and Spirit, take heed of two 
things : 

1. Unbelief : Heb. iii. 12, ' Take heed lest there be in any of you an 
evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.' The cause 
of apostasy is unbelief ; they do not look upon God's directions as 
judgments. Men that look to the present face of things cannot see 
things to come, and so miscarry. Hezekiah, in the midst of dangers 

VER. 102.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 41 

and difficulties, was steady to God : 2 Kings xviii. 5, 6, ' He trusted 
in the Lord God of Israel : he clave to the Lord, and departed not 
from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord 
commanded Moses.' Every duty hath a sanction, invested with pro 
mises and threatenings ; therefore, as there needeth obedience to make 
conscience of the precept, so faith to believe the sanction, which doth 
enliven the duty, and keep our hearts under the awe of it. 

2. Mortification ; for till there be an indifferency to all events in 
temporal things, we shall ever be departing and turning off from God ; 
sometimes allured out of our obedience, sometimes affrighted out of it ; 
therefore, till dead to worldly accidents and interests, we are easily turned 
out of the way : Heb. xii. 13, ' Lest that which is lame be turned out of 
the way ;' that which is lame, feeble, and fearful. Good men may 
be carried away thus, as Peter. Too weak and inconstant are the best 
of men ; the least blast of temptation will make them leave off the 
course of well-doing, and, without respect had to conscience or credit, 
openly desert it. For fear of man's offence Peter slipped from his 
duty. Fear of losing applause, or incurring hatred with men ; maketh 
us venture on God's dishonour ; unmodified lusts make us more tender 
of ourselves than of God. 

Second point. That divine teaching causeth constancy ; for there 
fore David saith, ' I departed not, for thou hast taught me.' Here 

1. What it is to be taught of God ; it is often spoken of in scrip 
ture : Isa. liv. 13, ' All thy children shall be taught of the Lord'; 
John vi. 45, * All taught of God/ Now God teacheth outwardly by 
his word, but inwardly by his Spirit ; these two must not be severed. 
Our hearing is necessary: Eph. iv. 21, 'If so be ye have heard him, 
and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus ; ' the ordi 
nary means of hearing him preached, and set forth in the gospel 
and public ministry, and by that means doth Christ make use of 
it to teach us by his Spirit. So John vi. 45, ' Heard and learned 
of the Father ; ' it doth not seclude a teaching ministry in the 
gospel ; but it is said, 1 Thes. iv. 9, ' Ye yourselves are taught of 
God to love one another ; ' and 1 John ii. 27, ' But the anointing 
which ye have received of him abideth in you ; and ye need not 
that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teacheth you 
of all things, and is truth, and is no lie ; and even as it hath taught 
you, ye shall abide in him.' It is a rhetorical insinuation, the nega 
tive to be understood comparatively ; man's teaching is nothing to 
what you have already by the Spirit. On the other side, much more 
doth it not exclude the Spirit, upon whom the efficacy dependeth. 
God teacheth by men, but the effect is from his grace: Mark xvi. 20, 
' They went forth preaching the word, the Lord working with them ; ' 
1 Cor. iii. 6, ' Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but God giveth the 
increase.' The internal efficacy worketh by external means : Docet 
Spiritus Sanctus, sed per verbum, saith Ferus, docent apostoli; sed per 
co-operationem Spiritus Sancti God worketh in and by the means. 

2. Inwardly God teacheth two ways (1.) By common illumination ; 
(2.) Special operation. 

1. Common illumination, barely enlightening the mind to know or 
understand what he propoundeth by his messengers. So Kom. i. 20, 


God showed it to the heathen, ' For 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 ; so that 
they are without excuse.' 

2. But then, by way of special operation, effectually inclining the 
will to embrace and prosecute duties so known : Jer. xxxi. 33, ' I will 
put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.' This 
way of teaching is always effectual and persuasive. Now in this 
sense they are taught of God, that they do not only get an ear to hear, 
but a heart to understand, learn, and practise. 

Secondly, Why this teaching is the ground of constancy. 

1. They that are thus taught of God see things more clearly than 
others do : God is the most excellent teacher. One man seeth a thing 
by candlelight, another by daylight; he seeth most clearly that 
seeth by noonday. The light of the Spirit doth clearly manifest 
things, both object and faculty. The unction teacheth us all things, 
1 John ii. 20, 2 Cor. iii. 18. a distinct, clear, abiding light. Carnal 
men are blind, 2 Peter i. 9. How sharp-sighted soever in other 
things, yet blind ; they do not see so as to affect their hearts. 

2. They know things more surely, and with certainty of demonstra 
tion; whereas others have but dubious conjectures, and loose and 
wavering opinions about the things of God : John vi. 69, * We believe, 
and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God ; ' 
John xvii. 8, ' Known surely that I came out from thee.' The many 
temptations and assaults we meet with need such a certain appre 

3. This teaching is so efficacious and powerful, as that the effect 
followeth : Ps. Ixxxvi. 11, ' Teach me thy way, Lord ; I will walk 
in thy truth ;' 1 Cor. ii. 4. It is a lovely teaching, causing us to cleave 
to what is taught. 

4. God reneweth this teaching, and is always at hand to guide us, and 
give counsel to us, which is cause of our standing. We need this con 
tinual teaching to keep us mindful, that we may not forget things 
known. The Spirit puts us in remembrance, because of the decay of 
fervency, and dulness of spirit that groweth upon us ; therefore are 
truths revived to keep us fresh and lively, that we may not neglect our 
duty. Because of incogitancy and heecllessness we mistake our way, and 
are apt to run into sin in the time of trial and temptation. Therefore 
we need a monitor on all occasions, Isa. xxx. 31, that we may not be 
carried away with the corrupt bent of our own hearts. Well, then, 
this abiding in us is the cause of perseverance, 1 John ii. 27. 

Use. To show the reason of men's fickleness and inconstancy, both 
in opinion and practice. He that is led by man unto man, both as 
to opinion and practice, may be led off by man again, when we take 
up truth upon tradition and human recommendation. Oh! seek it 
of God : Isa. xlviii. 17, ' I am the Lord your God, that teacheth you 
to profit.' Not our own ability, but the light of the Holy Ghost ; 
wait upon God, learn something of him every day, and give God all 
the glory. 

VEB. 103.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 43 


How sweet are thy words unto my taste ! yea, sweeter than honey 
to my mouth. VER. 103. 

IN this verse you have another evidence of David's affection to the 
word, and that is the incomparable delight which he found therein, as 
being suitable to his taste and spiritual appetite. This pleasure and 
delight he found in the word is propounded (1.) By way of interro 
gation or admiration, ' How sweet are thy words unto my taste ! ' 
As if he said, So sweet that I am not able to express it. (2.) By way 
of comparison, ' Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.' To external 
sense nothing is sweeter than honey ; honey is not so sweet to the 
mouth and palate as the word of God is to the soul. It is usual to 
express the affections of the mind by words proper to the bodily 
senses, as taste is put here for delight, and elsewhere eating is put for 
believing and digesting the truth : * Thy word was sweet, and I did 
eat it/ Jer. xv. 16. Again, in all kind of writers, both profane and 
sacred, it is usual to compare the excellency of speech to honey. The 
poet describes an eloquent man, that his speech flowed from him 
sweeter than honey. And the like we may observe in scripture : Prov. 
xvi. 24, ' Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and 
health to the bones/ He means words of wisdom, such words as 
come from "a pure heart; now these are sweeter than honey. So the 
spouse ; because of her gracious doctrine, it is said, Cant. iv. 11, * Thy 
lips, my spouse, drop as the honeycomb ; ' and Ps. xix. 10, * More 
to be desired are they than gold ; yea, than much fine gold : sweeter 
also than honey, and the honeycomb/ For profit, he esteemed them 
more than gold ; for pleasure, more than honey or the honeycomb. 
And David saith here, ' Thy words are sweet unto my taste/ He 
doth not say in general, They are sweet unto the taste, but sweet 
unto my taste. Holy men, that have much communion with God, 
such as David was, they that have his Spirit, find this delight in the 
word of God ; nothing so sweet, or so full of pleasure to the soul. 
Two points : 

1. That there is such a thing as spiritual taste. 

2. That to a spiritual taste the word of God is sweeter than all 
pleasures and delights whatsoever. 

Doct. 1. That there is such a thing as spiritual taste. 

I shall show that it is, and what it is ; the use of it, and what is 
requisite to it. 

First, It appears that there is such a thing ; the soul hath its senses 
as well as the body. We do not only know, but feel things to be 
either hurtful or comfortable to us ; so the new nature doth not only 
know it, but doth seem to feel it, that some things are hurtful, and 
others are comfortable to it ; and hence the apostle's expression, Heb. 
v. 14, ' Such have their senses exercised, to discern both good and 
evil/ Christians, if there be such a thing as spiritual life, certainly 
there must be spiritual sense ; for all life is accompanied with a sense 
of what is good or evil for that life, and the higher the life the greater 


the sense. Beasts feel more than a plant when hurt is done to them, 
because they have a nobler life, and a man than a beast ; and the life 
of o-race being above the life of reason, there is a higher sense joined 
with it and therefore the pain and pleasure of that life is greater 
than the pain or pleasure of any other life; for spiritual things, as they 
are greater in themselves, so they do more affect us than bodily : A 
wounded conscience, who can bear it ?' Prov. xviii. 14. What a sense 
doth the evil of the spiritual life leave upon the soul ! And then for 
the comforts of the spiritual life, the joys and pleasures of it are 
unspeakable and glorious, 1 Peter i. 8, such joy as no tongue or words 
can sufficiently express. A taste of the first-fruits of glory, how sweet 
is it ! Briefly, let me tell you there are three internal senses spoken 
of in scripture seeing, tasting, and feeling. Sight implies faith: 
John viii. 56, 'Abraham rejoiced to see my day;' and Heb. xi. 27, 
' By faith Moses saw him that was invisible.' There is a seeing ^not 
only with the eyes of the body, but with the eyes of the mind, things 
that cannot be seen with the outward sense : ' Abraham saw my _ day/ 
at so great a distance. As there is sight, so also taste ; which, if we 
refer it to good, is nothing else but spiritual experience of the sweet 
ness of God in Christ, and the benefits which flow from communion 
with him : Ps. xxxiv. 8, ' Oh, come, taste and see that the Lord 
is gracious/ Do not only come and see, but come and taste. The 
third sense is feeling or touch ; that relates to the power of grace : 
Phil. iii. 10, ' That I might know him, and the power of his resurrec 
tion/ &c. There is a sense that a Christian hath of the power of grace 
and of Christ upon his soul ; so 2 Tim. iii. 5, ' Having a form of god 
liness, but denying the power thereof.' When men resist the force 
and virtue of that religion which they profess, then they are said to 
deny the power of those principles. Well, then, there are spiritual 

Now, that we might know what they are, let me show 

1. How these spiritual senses differ from the external. 

2. That in some sense they differ from the understanding. 

1. These spiritual senses differ from the external sense; that I shall 
prove by three arguments : 

[1.] Because in those things that are liable to external sense, a man 
may have an outward sense of them when he hath not an inward. 

[2.] There are certain things that cannot be discerned by external 
senses, yet a Christian may have a feeling of them by internal sense. 

[3.] The outward senses sometimes set the inward senses awork. 

[l.J Because in those things which are liable to external sense, a 
man may have an outward sense of them when he hath not an inward, 
as in seeing, tasting, touching. 

In seeing : Deut xxix. 2, compared with ver. 4, ' Ye have seen all 
that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt ; and yet the 
Lord hath not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears 
to hear unto this day.' They saw, yet had not a heart to see ; they 
saw those wonders with the eyes of their body ; they had a sense out 
ward and natural, but not a sense inward and spiritual. 

So for taste ; there is a taste of God's goodness in the creature ; all 
taste it by their outward senses : Ps. cxlv. 9, ' The Lord is good to all, 

VER. 103.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxrx. 45 

and his tender mercies are over all his works.' The wicked are not 
excepted from his taste ; for the creatures are as useful for the preser 
vation of their lives, as the lives of others. They do not mind God's 
love in it, and so do rather taste the creature, than God's goodness in 
the creature ; but the child of God tasteth his love therein. The fly 
finds no honey in the flower, but the bee doth. A fleshly palate 
relisheth only the gross pleasure of the creature, not that refined 
delight which a spiritual palate hath, who hath a double sweetness ; it 
doth not only receive the creature for its natural use, but it tastes God, 
and feels the love of God in the conscience as well as the warmth of 
the creature in his bowels. 

So for feeling : Jer. iii. 25, ' We lie down in our shame, and our 
confusion covereth us ; for we have sinned against the Lord our God/ 
Men may feel the blows of his providence, and be sensible of the natural 
inconvenience, yet they have not a spiritual feeling so as to be affected 
with God's displeasure, and have a kindly impression left upon the 
soul, that may make them return to God. 

[2.] It differs from the outward senses, because they can by a spiritual 
sense discern that which cannot be discerned by the outward sense ; as 
in that place, Heb. xi. 27, ' By faith Moses saw him that was invisible ; ' 
see the invisible God, and are as much affected with his eye and pre 
sence as if he were before the eyes of the body, as others are awed by 
the presence of a worldly potentate ; this is matter of internal sense. 
So for taste ; they have meat which the world knows not of, invisible 
comforts, John iv. 37. They have hidden manna to feed upon, and 
are as deeply affected with a sense of God's love, and hopes of eternal 
life, as others are with all outward dainties. Then as to feeling ; many 
things the outward sense cannot discern ; sometimes they feel spiritual 
agonies, heartbreakings : when all is well and sound without, a man 
would wonder what they should be troubled about, that abound in 
wealth and all worldly comforts and accommodations. They have an 
inward feeling, they feel that which worldly men feel not ; when they 
are afflicted in their spirits, carnal comforts can work nothing upon 
them; when they are afllicted outwardly, spiritual comforts ease their 
heart. And as they feel soul agonies and soul comforts, so they feel the 
operations of the spiritual life ; they have a feeling of the power of the 
Spirit working in them ; they live, and know that they live, Now no 
man knows that he lives but by sense ; therefore if a child of God 
knows he lives, he hath internal sense as well as external. We know 
we live naturally by natural sense, and we know we live spiritually by 
spiritual sense : Gal. ii. 20, ' I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me;* 
he lived, and knew that he lived. They have a life which they feel 
within themselves, the operations and motions of the spiritual life; 
they feel its impulsions to duty, its abhorrences from sin ; tendency 
of soul to God, and spiritual supports ; and they feel the stirrings of the 
old nature, workings of heart towards sin and vanity, which the out 
ward senses cannot discover. 

[3.] The outward senses sometimes set the inward senses awork. 
The sweetness of those good things which are liable to sense, puts us 
in mind of the sweetness of better things ; as the prodigal's husks put 
him in mind of the bread in his father's house ; or as the priests of 


Mercury among the heathen, when they were eating figs, they were to 
cry, Truth is sweet, because the god whom they worshipped was sup 
posed to be the inventor of arts, and the discoverer of truth. So 
Christians, when by the outward taste they find anything sweet, the 
inward sense is set awork, and they have a more lively feeling of 
spiritual comforts ; as David, honey is sweet, but the word of God was 
' sweeter than honey to him, or the honeycomb.' Thus Christ, when 
he was eating bread, ' Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the king 
dom of God/ Luke xiv. 15; and they that have Christ's spirit, they act 

2. This sense differs from a bare and simple act of the understand 
ing. Why? For a man may know things that he doth not feel. 
Simple apprehension is one thing, and an impression another. An 
apprehension of the sharpness of pain is not a feeling of the sharpness 
of pain. Jesus Christ had a full apprehension of his sufferings all his 
life-long, but felt them not until his agonies, therefore he said, John 
xii. 27, ' Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say ? ' We have 
notions of good and evil, when we neither taste the one nor the other. 
It is one thing to know sin to be the greatest evil, and another thing 
to feel it to be so ; to know the excellency of Christ's love, and to taste 
the sweetness of it, this doth not only constitute a difference between 
a renewed and carnal man, but sometimes between a renewed man and 

[1.] Between renewed men and carnal men ; they know the same 
truths, yet have not the same affections. A carnal man may talk of 
truths according to godliness, and may dispute of them, and hold 
opinions about them, but doth not taste them ; so he does but know 
the grace of God in conceit, not in truth and reality, as the expression 
is, Col. i. 6. As a man only that hath read of honey may have a fancy 
and imagination of the sweetness of it, but he that tastes it knows it 
in truth and in effect ; they know the grace. of God, and the happiness 
of being in communion with God, by the light of nature, in conceit, 
but not in reality ; but the other they taste it : 'If so be you have 
tasted that the Lord is gracious/ 1 Peter ii. 3. There is an impression 
of sweetness left upon the soul, and real experience of the goodness of 
God in Christ, so as to make them affect him with all their hearts, to 
choose him for their portion, and to make his will their only rule, and 
obey and serve him, whatever it cost them. They have such a taste 
of this sweetness, as doth engage their hearts to a close and constant 
adherence to Christ. Carnal men have only a naked knowledge of 
these things, weak and ineffectual notions and apprehensions about 
them ; and if the sublimity, reasonableness and suitableness of these 
truths to soul necessities cause any taste, it is but slight, slender, and 
insufficient. So indeed temporaries and hypocrites are said to ' taste 
the heavenly gift, the good word of God, and powers of the world to 
come/ Heb. vi. 4. They have some languishing apprehensions, but 
they do not so taste them as to "relish and feed upon them. They do 
not relish Christ himself, but only some benefit which they hope to 
get by him upon slight and easy terms ; have not such experience and 
sweetness of God in Christ, as that their souls should constantly cleave 
to him. It may be their fancy may be pleased a little in a supposition 

VER. 103.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 47 

and possibility of salvation by Christ, or in some general thought of 
those large promises and great offers which God makes in the gospel, 
not as it enforceth duty and subjection to God ; well, then, it differs 
from a bare understanding of the goodness of God's ways. 

2. This constitutes a difference sometimes between a renewed man 
and himself, as to some things ; his inward senses are not always alike 
quick and lively ; he is still like-minded as he was, but yet not alike 
affected ; his sight is not so clear, nor taste so acute, nor his feeling so 
tender ; though he hath the same thoughts of things he had before, 
yet his spiritual sense is benumbed, and is not at all times affected alike, 
while he keeps his spiritual eye clear from the clouds of lust and 
passion ; he is otherwise affected with things to come than he is when 
his eye is blinded with inordinate passion and love to present things ; 
and while he keeps his taste, how sweet and welcome is this to his 
stful, the remembrance of Christ, and salvation by him ! And so, 
while he keeps his heart tender, he is sensible of the least stirring of 
sin, and is humbled for it ; and the least impulsion of grace, to be 
thankful for it. Those instructions, reproofs, consolations, which at 
some times either wound or revive their spirits, at other times do not 
move them at all ; their senses are benumbed, not kept fresh and lively. 
And thus in the general I have proved that there is such a thing as 
spiritual taste. 

Secondly, What is this spiritual sense ? It is an impression left 
upon our hearts, which gives us an ability to relish and savour spiritual 
things ; but it cannot be known by description so much as by these 
two questions : 

1. The use of it, what doth this taste serve for ? 

2. What are the requisites that we may have such a taste and relish 
of divine and spiritual things ? 

1. What doth this taste serve for ? There is a threefold use of 
them : 

[1.]. To discern things good and wholesome from things noxious 
and hurtful to the soul ; that is the use of spiritual sense in general, 
to discern things good and evil, Heb. v. 14 ; Job vi. 30, ' Is there 
iniquity in my tongue ? Cannot my taste discern perverse things ? ' 
God hath given all sensitive creatures a taste, whereby they may dis 
tinguish between things pleasant or bitter, sweet or sour, wholesome 
or unwholesome, savoury or unsavoury, that they may choose what is 
convenient to nature ; so the new creature hath a taste to know things, 
things contrary to the new nature, and things that will keep it in life : 
Job xii. 11, 'Doth not the ear try words, and the mouth taste his 
meat ?' or, as it is more plain, Job xxxiv. 3, ' For the ear trieth 
words, as the mouth tasteth meat.' Spiritual taste distinguisheth 
between what is salubrious and profitable to us, that which is the pure 
word, milk agreeable to the new nature ; and what is frothy, garnished 
out with the pomp of eloquence, it is tasteless to a gracious soul, if it 
suiteth not with the interests of the new nature : they have a faculty 
within them, whereby they distinguish between men's inventions and 
God's message. A man of spiritual taste, when reason is restored ^ to 
its use, he comes to a doctrine, and many times smells the man ; saith 
he, this is not the breast-milk that must nourish me, the pure milk of 


the word by which I must grow in strength and stature ; and if he 
finds anything of God, he owns God ; he discerns what is human and 
what is divine. 

[2.] The use of this taste is also to refresh and comtort the soul m 
the sweetness of spiritual things : Cant. ii. 3, ' I sat down under his 
shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste ;' the 
taste of Christ's fruit in the comforts of redemption ; the fruit that 
grows there is sweet and pleasant to the new nature. When the love 
of God to sinners in Christ is not only heard but believed, not only 
believed but tasted, it ravisheth and transports the soul with sweet 
delight and content, that excels all the pleasures of the world. 

[3.] It serves for this use, to preserve the vitality of^ grace, that is, 
to keep it alive and in action. Omnis vita gustu ducitur every life 
hath its food, and the food must be tasted. This grace quickeneth us 
to look after that food ; it keeps the new creature free for its operations, 
helps it to grow : 1 Peter ii. 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.' The truths of the gospel are as necessary 
and natural for the cherishing and strengthening the spiritual life as the 
milk of the mother is to the new-born babe, and taste is necessary that 
we may relish it. They that have a taste have an appetite, and they 
delight in the word more than in any other thing ; whereas those that 
have no taste or appetite, grow not up to any strength, they thrive 

2. What is requisite to cause this taste ? (1.) Something about the 
object ; (2.) Something about the faculty. 

[1.] Something about the object, which is the word of God. Eating, 
or taking into the mouth, that is vecessary before tasting; for the 
tongue is the instrument of taste ; the outward part of the tongue that 
serves for meats, the inward part, towards the root, for drink. So for 
this spiritual taste there is required eating, or taking in the object, 
therefore we read often of eating the word of God : Jer. xv. 16, 'Thy 
word was sweet, and I did eat it;' and Ezek. iii. 3, we read of 
eating the roll ; it is interpreted spiritually, ' I did eat it ;' then fol 
lows his taste, ' it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness.' So Rev. 
x. 10, * I took the little book and ate it, and it was in my mouth as 
sweet as honey/ There was somewhat of prophetical vision in these 
things, but generally it is carried not an outward and literal eating, 
but a spiritual taste, relishing the sweetness of it. Well, then, the 
word must not only be read and heard, but eaten. What is this 
spiritual eating of the word ? Three things are in it, and all make 
way for this taste. (1.) Sound belief; (2.) Serious consideration ; (3.) 
Close application. He that would have a taste of spiritual things, 
these three things are necessary. 

(1.) That there be a sound belief of it. Men have not taste, 
because they have not faith ; we cannot be affected with what we do 
not believe : Heb. iv. 2, ' The word profited not, not being mixed with 
faith in them that heard it.' What is the reason men have no taste 
in^the doctrine of God, and in the free offers of his grace ? It is not 
mingled with faith, and then it wants one necessary ingredient towards 
this taste. So 1 Thes. ii. 13, ' Ye received the word of God, which 

VER. 103.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. . 49 

effectually worketh also in you that believe.' If you would have 
spiritual sense, faith makes way for it : we must take the word as the 
word of God. When we read in feigned stories of enchanted castles 
and golden mountains, they affect us not, because we know they are 
but witty fictions, pleasant fables, or idle dreams ; and such atheism 
.and unbelief lies in the hearts of men against the very scriptures, and 
therefore the apostle seeks to obviate and take off this :. 2 Peter i. 16, 
' We have not followed cunningly devised fables ;' intimating there 
is such a thought in man's heart. Certainly if men did believe the 
mystery, that is without controversy great, that God hath indeed sent 
his Son to redeem the world, and would indeed bestow heaven and 
eternal happiness upon them, they would have a greater taste ; but 
they hear of these things as a dream of mountains of gold, or rubies 
falling from the clouds. If they did believe these glorious things of 
eternity, their hearts would be ravished with them. 

(2.) As faith is necessary, so serious consideration, by which we 
concoct truths, and chew them, and work them upon the heart, that 
-causeth this sweetness ; by knocking on the flint the sparks fly out : 
those ponderous and deep inculcative thoughts of divine and heavenly 
things make us taste a sweetness in them. When w r e look slightly 
and superficially into the word, no wonder we do not find this comfort 
and sweetness ; but when we dig deeply into the mines of the word, 
and work out truths by serious thoughts, and search for wisdom, when 
we come to see truth with our own eyes in its full nature, order, and 
dependence, this is that which gets this taste: 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.' When men are serious, look 
into the nature, and see all truths in their order and dependence, then 
they will be like honey and the honeycomb ; this makes way for this 
.sweet taste. 

(3.) There is necessary to this taste close application ; for the 
nearer and closer things touch one another, the greater their efficacy ; 
so the more close you set the word home upon your own hearts, the 
more it works : Job v. 27, ' Know it for thy good ;' break out thy 
portion of the bread of life, look upon these promises and offers of 
grace as including thee, these commands speaking 'to thee, and these 
threatenings as concerning thee ; look upon it not only as God's 
message in common, but urge it upon thy soul : Jer. xv. 16, 'It was 
unto me the rejoicing of my heart.' There must be a particular 
.application of these things. These things are necessary to this taste 
with respect to the object ; as there must be eating, a taking into 
the mouth, if we would taste, so there must be a digesting or work 
ing upon the word, by sound belief, serious consideration, close 

[2.] As to this taste, there is somewhat necessary as to the soul or 
faculty ; we must have a palate qualified for these delicates. Now 
there is a double qualification necessary to this taste a hungry con 
science and mortified affections. 

(1.) A hungry conscience. Without this, a man hath a secret 
loathing of this spiritual food, his taste is benumbed ; but to a hungry 



conscience the word is sweet, when he is kept in a constant hungering 
after Christ and his grace : Prov. xxvii. 7, ' The full soul loatheth the 
honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.' ^ Cor 
dials, they are nauseous things to a full stomach ; oh but how reviving, 
comfortable, and sweet are they to a poor broken heart ! The first 
time that we got this taste, it was when we were under the stings of 
a guilty conscience, then God came and tendered his grace to us in 
Christ ; he sent a messenger, one of a thousand, to tell us he hath 
found a ransom, and that we shall be delivered from going down into 
the pit ; that he will spare us, and do us good in Christ Jesus, then 
the man's flesh recovers again like a child's, Job xxxiii. 25. When 
men have felt the stings of the second death, and God comes with a sen 
tence of life and peace by Christ, how sweet is it then ! Now, though 
we have not always a wounded conscience, yet we must always have a 
tender conscience, always sensible of the need of gospel support ; we 
came to this first relish of the doctrine of eternal life and salvation by 
Christ when we lay under the sentence of eternal death. 

(2.) The heart must be purged from carnal affections ; for until we 
lose our fleshly savour we cannot have this spiritual taste : Kom. viii. 
5, * They that are after the flesh, do savour the things of the flesh ; ' 
the word may be translated so. A carnal heart relishes nothing but 
carnal things, worldly pleasures, worldly delights; now this doth 
exceedingly deaden your spiritual taste. Spiritual taste is a delicate 
thing, therefore the heart must be purged from fleshly lusts ; for when 
fleshly lusts bear sway, and you relish the garlic and onions and flesh- 
pots of Egypt, your affections will carry you elsewhere, to the vanities 
of the world, and contentments of the flesh. Look, as sick men have 
lost their taste, and that which is sweet seems sour and ungrateful to 
a distempered appetite, so a carnal appetite hath not this taste from 
the word of God ; to a carnal heart it is no more savoury than the 
white of an egg ; yea, it is as gall to them, but now to others it is 
exceeding sweet, it is their joy, the life of their souls. Well, then, 
you see what is this spiritual taste, that relish which a renewed soul 
hath for spiritual comforts. 

Use. To persuade you to get this taste ; and when once you have 
got it, take heed you do not lose it. 

1. It concerns you very much to get this taste ; take these argu 
ments : 

[1.] It is a good evidence of the new nature ; it is a sign you have 

fotten that other heart, that new spirit, which must have new com- 
)rt, new supports : 1 Peter ii. 3, 4, 'As new-born babes you desire 
the sincere milk of the work ; if so be you have tasted that the Lord 
is gracious.' Hereby we may know the new man, by his appetite and 
savour. Life is known by this, as much as by any one thing else. 

[2.] This will give you a more assured knowledge of the truth and 
worth of spiritual and heavenly things, whereas otherwise we shall but 
talk of them by rote, until we experiment the comfort and sweetness 
of them in our own souls ; then we will see there is more than notions 
in promises, the word of God is not a well-devised fable and golden 
dream, for our taste will be our confirmation. The greatest demon 
stration is from the senses, 1 John v. 10, the believer hath a testimony 

VER. 103.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 51 

of the truth of religion within himself, in his own heart. Oh ! it is a 
great advantage to have our remedy there where our danger lies, in 
the heart ; where atheism and disbelief lurks, to have spiritual sense 
there : when you have a real experience of them, then Satan cannot 
have such advantage, and atheistical and unbelieving thoughts such 
advantage, for you have felt the benefit of spiritual things. It is a 
great advantage against temptation, when you have had a sense, when 
you do not only know by hearsay and guess that the word is sweet, 
but you have had a taste, as a man that hath been at the fire knows it 
warms ; when we can not only say with him, * We have heard the kings 
of Israel are merciful kings,' but, with the men of Samaria, ' We have 
seen him ourselves/ 

[3.] The life of grace mightily depends upon it ; all your liveliness 
in grace depends upon this taste, therefore get it. When you have no 
taste, you lose your appetite ; and when you lose your appetite, you 
lose your strength ; and when you lose your strength, all goes to ruin 
in the soul ; sin' prevails, and deadness increaseth upon the soul. All 
the strength, comfort, and vitality of your lives depend upon your 

[4.] It is this taste that will make you more useful to others. That 
which we have seen, heard, and tasted, that we commend to others. 
A report of a report and tradition, it may be or not ; that is a cold 
thing, this is not a valid testimony. Ay ! but when you can speak of 
that which you ' have felt and tasted, your eyes have seen, and hands 
handled of the word of life/ 1 John i. 1 ; when it is matter of sense, 
then we can speak boldly and affectionately, as the apostle, 2 Cor. i. 4 r 
' That we might comfort them which are in trouble by the comfort 
wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God/ When we ourselves 
are comforted of God, and that which we speak is the result of our 
own experience, it makes us more useful in our Christian converse. 
The prophet Ezekiel was to eat his own prophecies, and St John to eat 
the book; the meaning is, they must digest it. What we communicate 
to others, we must digest it ourselves, that, finding it sweet, we may 
speak the more effectually for God. 

2. Do not lose this taste. Oh! it is a sad thing to lose these spiritual 
senses. Hypocrites, their taste doth lightly come and lightly go; they 
have a little vanishing sweetness now and then, but it is soon gone ; it. 
is a sad thing to lose our spiritual taste. It may be lost in a great 
measure ; sometimes a Christian hath it, and sometimes he hath it not,, 
at least not in such a degree as formerly. Experience shows it may 
be lost too too often ; all the business will be to discern the first ten 
dencies of this evil when we begin to lose our taste and spiritual 
senses. This may be discerned with respect to the threefold object of 
this taste heavenly gift, the good word of God, and powers of the 
world to come. 

[1.] Heavenly gift, that is Christ Jesus. When we do not so highly 
value the love of God in Christ, and prize his blood, and the precious 
effects of it; when we do not so earnestly beg pardon of sin, and 
hunger and thirst after his righteousness; when we have not that 
former earnestness and strength of desire to enjoy Christ. Time was 
when thou thoughtest no terms too dear for him, when thy heart made 


hard pursuit after him ; but now thou art grown cold and careless, and 
so pass him by lightly, as a full stomach with meat, with which it is 
cloyed ; when you are not so earnest and zealous for Christ, it is a sign 
you have lost your taste. 

[2.] Your tasting of the good word of God. When you slight the 
word, either in not reading, hearing, meditating in it so frequently as 
you were wont to do. Oh, time was when you could say, No honey or 
honeycomb so sweet as this to my poor soul ! Ps. xix. 10 ; when you 
could hardly call off your thoughts. Now you are more infrequent in 
these godly exercises, or else, if conversant about it, not with that life 
and that affection ; in a more customary manner you can read of the 
love of God and sufferings of Christ Jesus, without any love to him 
again ; can read the promises, and they seem to be but like dry chips 
and withered flowers, and not yield that marrow and fatness to you. 
You can read the promises of eternal life, and have not that joy, 
thankfulness, and blessing of God. You could hardly contain your 
selves before, but cry out, ' Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, and blessed be God that hath visited and redeemed his 
people.' Now your affections are more flat and cold, and have not that 
relish in holy conference, sweetness in hearing, and that contentment 
of soul in meditating. 

[3.] You may lose your taste in the powers of the world to come, 
when you grow more mindless of God, and eternal blessedness, when 
you have not such fresh and warm thoughts as you were wont to have; 
when your desires, hopes, expectations of the life to come is abated, 
you have not that lively hope, 1 Peter iii. 3, to quicken you for the 
..attaining of eternal blessedness. While this taste is fresh upon the 
^hearts of Christians, they are for heaven, for God, carried on with 
-vigour and strength in the way of holiness ; but when your hearts are 
carried out to worldly vanity, and you relish more the honour, applause, 
-fulness of estate, worldly increase, and you are grown more cold in 
iieavenly things, you have lost this taste of the powers of the world to 
^come, Heb. vi. 4. 

The causes of this. One is, want of a due esteem, not an esteem 
>in an idea, naked or abstract notion from those thoughts out of a 
temptation. No man is so unreasonable, but, if he be a little enlight 
ened with Christianity, will say, the favour of God is better than all 
things. Ay! but want of that practical esteem, when they can forfeit 
this taste for every trifle and flesh-pleasing vanity ; or when they care 
lessly look after him, are indifferent as to communion with God, and 
think it not much whether they are accepted of God, yea or no ; or 
manifest himself to you in Christ, when the comforts of the Spirit are 
things you can spare, and the consolations of God seem to be small, it 
is all one to you whether you have experiences from God in duty or 
no, your souls are satisfied ; this is a cause of decaying. Then negli 
gence in duties; pray lazily, hear carelessly, not meditate often. 
Inordinate savour of carnal pleasure, that is another cause. What is 
the reason the temporary seems to be so affected ? He loseth his taste 
altogether ; carnal things have the first possession of his heart, and 
being confirmed there by long use and custom, being so suitable to us, 
and so long rooted in us, and we have such a vanishing glance of 

VER. 104.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 53 

things to come, this will work out that taste, the love, the sense we 
have of better things. Godly men, when they turn out to the content 
ments of the flesh, they lose their taste, it becomes dead. This is a 
considerable loss as to the vitality of your graces ; for without a taste 
of good or evil, we shall neither eschew the evil, nor follow that which 
is good, with that serious constancy and diligence that is necessary. A 
man that hath tasted of the poison of asps, and the bitterness of the 
gall and wormwood that is in sin, will be afraid of it, Rom. vi. 21. So 
a man that hath tasted of the sweetness of communion with God in 
Christ, he is quickened and carried on with life, courage, and con 
stancy. That is a dreadful place, Heb. vi. 4, 5 ; the loss of their taste 
is a degree to final apostasy. Oh, how many lose their taste, their 
relish of Christ, the good word of God, the powers of the life to come, 
and are fallen foully, some forward into error, some backward into a 
licentious course, so that it is impossible to recover themselves by 
repentance ! 


TJirough iJiy precepts I get understanding : therefore I hate every 
false iuay. VER. 104. 

IN the former verse, the man of God had spoken of the pleasure that 
was to be had by the word, now of the profit of it. There is a great 
deal of pleasure to spiritual sense ; if we could once get our appetite,, 
we should nnd a world of sweetness in it ; and there is as much profit 
as pleasure. As the pleasure is spiritual, so also is the profit to be- 
measured by spiritual considerations. To escape the snares of the 
devil, and the dangers that waylay us in our passage to heaven, is a? 
great advantage. Now the word doth not only warn us of our danger,, 
but where it is received in the love of it, breedeth a hatred of all these- 
things that may lead us into it : ' Through thy precepts I get under 
standing* therefore I hate every false way.' 

In which sentence, the prophet seems to invert the order set dowrr, 
ver. 101. He had said, ' I refrained my feet from every evil way, that 
I might keep thy word,' where the avoiding of evil is made the 
means of profiting by the word. Here his profiting by the word is 
made the cause of avoiding evil. In the one verse you have an account 
of his beginning with God, in the other of his progress. 

In this verse there is 

1. The benefit he received by the word, and that is sound and saving 

2. The fruit and effect which this knowledge produceth in his heart, 
therefore I hate every false luay. 

Mark, first, The firmness of this effect, / hate. He doth not say I 
abstain, but / hate. 

Secondly, The note of universality, every. 

Thirdly, The object, false way. It is not said evil way, but false 
way ; or, as it is in the original, ' every path of lying and falsehood.' 


Falsehood is either in point of opinion or practice. If you take it 
in the first sense, for falsehood in opinion, or error in judgment, or 
false doctrine, or false worship, this sentence holds good. Those that 
get understanding by the word are established against error ; and not 
only established against error, or against the embracing or profession 
of it, but they hate it. 

1. They are established. All error cometh from ignorance, or else 
judicial blindness. 

[1.] From ignorance, or unacquaintedness with the word of God ; 
so Christ said to the Sadducees, ' Ye do err, not knowing the scrip 
tures,' Mat. xxii. 29. When men study not the word, which is the 
rule of truth, no wonder if they lie open to every fancy ; they take up 
things hand over head, and by a fond credulity are led away by every 
suggestion presented to them. So it is said, 2 Peter iii. 16, that ' the 
unstable and unlearned wrest the scriptures to their own destruction.' 
By the unlearned, is meant not those that are unskilful in human 
literature, though that be a great help ; but those that are unskilful 
in the word of righteousness, poor deluded souls that lie under a great 

[2.] Judicial blindness. For men that have great parts, and a pre 
sumption of their own wit, are given up to be blinded by their own 
lusts ; and though they know the scriptures, yet they wrest them to 
speak according to the sense of their carnal interest, 1 Thes. ii. 12. 
And so they see not what they see, being given up to the witchery and 
enchantment of error : Gal. iii. 1, ' foolish Galatians ! who hath be 
witched you?' So that all false ways proceed from the want of 
reason and the pride of reason. The one is the cause of the simple's 
erring, who believeth every word ; the other of those that are 
knowing, and are otherwise of great parts, but they make their 
wit their idol, and so would be wise above the scriptures, or else are 
swayed by their own lusts. They do not fix themselves in the power, 
love, and practice of truths revealed in the scriptures, and so are 
given up to hellish delusions. Now, in this sense, I might speak with 
great profit of these words, especially now when so many errors are 
broached, and all the errors of Christianity come abreast to assault it 
at once ; and such changeable times as produce several interests, 
whereby men are blinded, and such levity in the professors of religion. 
Why, then, study the word with a teachable heart ; that is, renounc 
ing your own wit, and giving up yourselves to God's direction, and 
practise what is plain, without being swayed with the profits and 
pleasures of the world, and you may come to know what is the mind 
of God. Men think all is uncertain in religion, and are apt to say 
with Pilate, 'What is truth?' John xviii. 38. No; the scriptures 
are not obscure, but our hearts are dark and blind with worldly 
lusts. Otherwise the counsel is plain, and you might say with David, 
' Through thy precepts I get understanding ; therefore I hate every 
false way.' 

(1.) Where the Spirit of God doth affect men with an earnest de 
sire of knowledge, and so affect them as to desire to know the will of 
God, for no other reason but that they may avoid what is displeasing to 
God, and do what is pleasing in his sight ; and therefore hear, pray 

VER. 104.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 55 

read, meditate, and study the holy scriptures ; they are sure to be right 
for the main. 

(2.) Not only avoid the belief and profession of falsehood, but hate 
it : * I hate every false way.' Not the persons, but pity them : Phil, 
iii. 19, ' I tell you weeping/ It should be the grief of our hearts to 
see them misled ; but as for the error, hate it, whatever is not agree 
able to the rule of truth, or dissenteth from the purity of the word. 
There is too great a coldness and indifferency about the things of 
religion, as if truth were not to be stood upon. Carnal men hate the 
truth : Ps. 1. 17, ' They hate instruction, and cast my laws behind 
their backs.' Truly we have much more reason to hate error, without 
which we cannot be safe, it is so catching with our natures. 

2. In point of practice, and so every falsehood may be applied 
[1.] To craft, or carnal wisdom. I hate fraud and deceit ; true under 
standing makes us hate false wisdom. A simple, honest conversa 
tion suits best with Christians : 2 Cor. i. 12, 'In simplicity and godly 
sincerity we have had our conversation in the world.' 

[2.] Carnal or worldly vanities, and flattering or fallacious pleasures, 
these entice us with a fair outside, and promise a great deal of happi 
ness and comfort to us ; but when we neglect better things, and run 
after them, they deceive us in the issue. They are called ' deceitful 
riches,' Mark iv. 19. And ' beauty ' is said to be ' deceitful/ Prov. xxxi. 
30. And those that run after these things are said to ' run after lying 
vanities/ Jonah ii. 8 ; those that fail when we hope to enjoy them. 

3. I take it more generally for all sin. Sinful ways are false ways, 
and will surely deceive those that expect good from them or walk in 
them : Heb. iii. 13, ' Deceitfulness of sin ; ' and ' deceitful lusts/ Eph. 
iv. 22 ; and * sin hath deceived me, and slew me/ saith Paul, Rom. 
vii. 11. Sin is false and deceitful many ways 

[1.] It presents itself in another dress than its own, proposing evil 
under the name of good, calling light darkness, and darkness light, 
Isa. v. 20, or shadows of good for that which is really good, gilded 
trash for perfect gold. 

[2.] As it promiseth happiness and impunity which it never per- 
formeth or maketh good, Deut. xxix. 19, 20 ; and so the poor sinner 
is led as an ox to the slaughter, Prov. vii. 22, 23. And we do not 
see the danger of it till it be too late to help it, and it.appeareth in 
its own colours in the foulness of the act and the smartness of the 
punishment. Esau, when he had sold the birthright, bewailed it with 
tears when it was too late, Heb. xii. 16, 17. The foolish virgins 
tarried till the door was shut, Mat. xxv. 11, 12. It is good to 
have our eyes in our head, to see a plague when we may prevent it, 
Prov. xxii. 3. The foulness of the act terrifieth, as it did Judas 
when he betrayed his master, Mat. xxvii. 4. Their hearts give evi 
dence against them, Rom. ii. 15 'Excusing or accusing one another;' 
as Cain, Gen. iv. 14, ' My punishment is greater than I can bear.' 
The unclean person shall ' mourn at the last, when his flesh and his 
body shall be consumed,' Prov. v. 11. Adam and Eve were sensible 
too late, when their eyes were opened. 

Doct. By the word of God we get that true, sound wisdom which 
inaketh us to hate every false way. 


Four things are implied in the point and in the text : 

1. A hatred of sin. 

2. The universality of this hatred, every false way. 

3. That this is a part and fruit of wisdom, / get understanding, 
therefore I hate. 

4. This wisdom and understanding is gotten ly God's precepts. 
First, That it is our duty to hate sin. It is not enough to reform 

our practice, or to abstain from the act, or to avoid the occasions that 
may lead to it, but it must be hated : Ps. xcvii. 10, ' Ye that love the 
Lord, hate evil/ He doth not say forbear it, but hate it. Love to 
the chiefest good is fitly accompanied with hatred of the chief est evil. 
God, he is our chiefest good : you love the Lord, and you must also 
hate evil. The one is as natural to grace as the other ; for the new 
nature hath its slight and aversation, as well as its choice and pro 
secution. As it inclines us to choose God for our portion, and to pur 
sue after things that lead to God, so it hath a disposition to make us 
avoid that which is evil. There are things hurtful to the new nature 
as well as any other being ; now hatred is to arm us against it. In 
short, this hatred is required 

1. Because this is the true principle of resistance against sin. 
Until a man hate sin, he is never truly set against it ; as a man is- 
never thoroughly gained to that which is good until he loves holiness 
for holiness' sake. His affections may be bribed with other considera 
tions, but then he is rooted in holiness when he loves holiness for its 
own sake. So a man that is not resolved against sin, that will not 
hate it for its own sake, may be frighted out of sin for a fit, or by the 
interposings of conscience put out of humour, but his heart falls in 
again with his old lusts, until there be an envy and detestation of sin ; 
but when it comes to this hatred, then temptations cannot easily over 
come examples draw not, nor difficulties compel us to that which is 
evil Persuasions and allurements formerly were of great force; 
straightway they followed ; but when the bent is another way, they 
are not so easily drawn by force and examples, which seem to have 
such cogency. Before men did easily swim with the stream, but here 
is a counter motion when they hate that which is evil. This is the 
fence of the soul, and draws us to an indignation, Hosea xiv. 8. 

2. Partly because this is a true distinctive evidence between those 
that are good and those that are evil. Many may forbear sin that 
yet do not hate it ; they forbear it out of restraint, out of fear of pun 
ishment, shame, worldly ends, yet they ' regard iniquity in their hearts,' 
Ps. Ixvi. 18 ; as a dog loves the bone, yet fears the blows. God 
judgeth not as man ; man is blameless, he abstains from sin, but God 
hateth sin. Man judgeth according to the action, but God judgeth 
according to the frame of the heart, 1 Sam. xvi. 7 ; for he is able to 
look to the inward springs, and poise our spirits. So on the other side, 
good men may slip into an evil action, but their hearts are against it ; 
it is the evil which they hate, Eom. vii. 15. They may be foiled, 
but their hearts are bent another way. 

But what is this hatred of sin ? 

1. It implies a universal repugnancy in every part of a man 
against sin, not only in his reason and conscience, but will and affec- 

VER. 104.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 57 

lions. There is not a wicked man, but in many cases his conscience 
bids him do otherwise ; ay ! but a renewed man, his heart inclines 
him to do otherwise ; his heart is set against sin, and taken up with 
the things of God : Rom. vii. 22, ' I delight in the law of God accord 
ing to the inner man.' It is in the whole inward man, which consists 
of many parts and faculties. Briefly, then, it notes the opposition, not 
from enlightened conscience only, but from the bent of the renewed 
heart. Reason and conscience will take God's part, and quarrel with 
sins, else wicked men could not be self-condemned. 

2. Hatred ; it is a fixed rooted enmity. Many a man may fall out 
with sin upon some occasion, but he hath not an irreconcilable enmity 
against it. The transient motions of the soul are things quite distinct 
from a permanent principle that abides in a renewed heart ; he hath 
that same ' seed of God remaining in him/ 1 John iii. 9. A habit 
notes a habitual aversation. A brabble many times falls out between 
us and sin upon several occasions, when it hath sensibly done us wrong, 
destroyed our peace, blasted our names, or brought temporal incon 
venience upon us. In time of judgment and fears, and present troubles 
and dangers, men think of bewailing their sins and returning to God. 
but they fall out and fall in again ; this is anger, not hatred ; like the 
rising of the heart against a drawn sword, when it is flashed in our 
faces, w r hereas afterwards we can take it up without any such com 
motion of spirit. 

3. Hatred ; it is an active enmity, warring upon sin by serious and 
constant endeavours, manifested by watching, striving, groaning ; 
watching before the temptation comes, resisting in the temptation, 
groaning under it, and bemoaning ourselves after the temptation hath 
prevailed over us. 

[1.] There is a constant jealousy and watchfulness before the temp 
tation comes. They that hate sin will keep at a distance from what 
ever is displeasing unto God : Prov. xxviii. 14, ' Happy is the man 
that feareth alway/ A hard heart, that knows not the evil of sin, 
rusheth on to things according to the present inclination. Ay ! but a 
man that hath a hatred against sin, that hath felt the evil of it in his 
conscience, that hath been scorched in the flames of a true conviction, 
will not come near the fire. A broken heart is shy and fearful, there 
fore he weighs his thoughts, words, and actions, and takes notice of 
the first appearance of any temptation ; they know sin is always pre 
sent, soon stirred, and therefore live in a holy jealousy. Certainly 
they that walk up and down heedlessly in the midst of so many snares 
and temptations wherewith we are waylaid in our passage to heaven, 
they have not this active enmity against sin, and therefore hatred is 
seen by watching. 

[2.] It is seen by striving, or serious resistance in the temptation. 
A Christian is not always to be measured by the success, but by con 
flict ; he fights it out : Rom. vii. 15, ' The evil which I hate, that 
do I/ Though they be foiled by sin, yet they hate it. An enemy 
may be overcome, yet he retains his spite and malice. Sin doth not 
freely carry it in the heart, neither is the act completely willing : Gal. 
v. 17, ' Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh ; 
for/ saith he, 'the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit 


against the flesh, and these are contrary the one to the other, so that 
ye cannot do the things that ye would ;' that is, you cannot sin with 
such proneness and full consent and bent of heart as others ; they have 
a principle of opposition, a rooted enmity in their souls against sin. 

[3.] By a bitter grief after the temptation ; as Peter, when he had 
fallen foully, ' he went out and wept bitterly,' Mat. xxvi. 75. They 
do not lie in sin, but recover themselves by a kindly remorse ; it is the 
grief of their souls that they have fallen into God's displeasure, grieved 
his Spirit, and hazarded their communion with him. Oh ! sin is 
grievous to a gracious heart, and this makes them groan and complain 
to God, ' wretched man ! ' &c. 

4. It is such an enmity against sin as aims at the utter extermina 
tion and expulsion of it, that endeavoureth to destroy it both root and 
branch. Hatred is all for mischief ; annihilation, that is that which 
hatred aims at. Anger worketh trouble, but hatred mischief. It is 
an implacable affection, that continues to the death, that will not be 
appeased till the thing which we hate be abolished. So where there 
is this hatred of sin, it follows sin close till it hath gotten the life of 
it. As by the grace of justification they have obtained such favour 
with God, ne damnet, it shall not damn; by the grace of sanctifi- 
cation, ne regnet, sin shall not reign ; and still they are aspiring and 
looking after the grace of glorification, ne sit, that sin may no longer 
be ; therefore they are longing and groaning under the relics of cor 
ruption : Horn. vii. 24, ' wretched man ! ' &c. Many scratch the face 
of sin, but they do not seek to root it up, to destroy the body of death ; 
it is their constant grief that anything of sin is left in the heart, as 
enemies are not satisfied till they have the blood of each other. Where 
there is hatred it is not enough to stop the spreading, weaken the 
power of sin, but labouring to destroy the being of sin ; as David said 
of his enemies, ' I pursued them till they were destroyed ;' so when we 
set against sin with an aim not to give over till we have the life of it ; 
or as God said concerning the Canaanites, Deut. vii. 23, * I will destroy 
them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed ;' so doth a 
renewed heart war against sin, that he may leave neither root nor 
fruit within them. 

Use. If this be to hate sin, how few can say with David, ' I hate 
every false way'! how few are of David's temper! Some love sin 
with all their heart, that ' hide it as a sweet morsel under their tongue/ 
Job xx. 12. The love of sin, that is the life of it; it dies when it 
begins to be hated ; but when you have a love to it, it lives in the soul 
and prevails over us. And as they testify their love of sin, so they 
misplace their _ hatred. What do they hate ? Not sin, but the word 
that discovers it. They ' hate the light, because their deeds are evil/ 
John iii. 20. They do not hate sin, but God's messengers that plead 
against it: 1 Kings xxii. 8, * I hate him/ saith Ahab concerning 
Micaiah, 'for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.' 
They hate the faithful brother that reproves them ; he is hated because 
he will not hate his brother, to see sin upon him. They hate the 
magistrate that would reform, the faithful Christian that condemns 
them by his exact walking: Johnxv. 19, ' Because I have chosen you 
out of the world, therefore the world hateth you/ They hate God's 

VER. 104.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 59 

image in his people, and cannot endure to be condemned by the light- 
that shines out from their conversations. Godly men are objects 
reviving guilt, therefore they hate them. Thus shamefully are a 
man's affections transposed ; we love where we should hate, and hate 
where we should love. And then if we come to the other sort of 
men, a degree above these, many are frightened out of their sins by 
slavish fear, but yet their hearts are in league with them still ; and as 
they get out of the stocks of conscience they enlarge themselves in all 
manner of carnal liberty : these are not changed, but awed ; sin is not 
mortified, but only lurks to watch a safe opportunity when it may 
discover itself with more advantage. 


Therefore I hate every false way. VER. 104. 

THE second proposition is the universality of this hatred, every false 
ivay. They that hate sin must hate all sin. 

1. This doth necessarily follow upon the former; for if we hate sin 
-especially as sin, for the intrinsic evil that is in it, not upon foreign 
accidental reasons, then we will hate all sin, for hatred is et? TO, 761/77, 
to the whole kind ; as Haman, when he hated the Jews, he thought 
scorn to lay his hand only on Mordecai, but would have destroyed all 
the Jews, Esther v. 6. It is but a casual dislike, and not a hatred. 
Certainly if we hate sin as sin, we shall hate all sin. The same 
reasons that incline us to hate one sin will incline us to hate all. 
Why ! what is it to hate sin as sin ? As it is a violation of God's law, 
as it is a contempt of God's authority, a breach of spiritual friendship, 
it grieves the Spirit ; these are the reasons to incline us to hate one as 
well as another. Well, then, private reservation and indulgences, or 
setting up a toleration in our own hearts, will not stand with the hatred 
of all sin. Some sins may shame and trouble us more, but all are alike 
contrary to the will of God ; therefore if we hate them upon reasons of 
duty to God, we should hate them universally, ' every false way/ 

2. Every sin is hateful to God, therefore every sin should be hateful 
to us. The reason of this is, we should hate what he hates, and love 
what he loves. There is a perfect friendship between God and those 
in covenant with him. Now that is true friendship, to will and nill 
the same thing ; it is built upon likeness, and suitableness of disposi 
tion. This argument is urged by the Holy Ghost : Prov. viii. 13, 
' The fear of the Lord is to hate evil ; pride, and arrogance, and the 
evil way, and the fro ward mouth, do I hate/ This is friendship with 
God, to hate what God hates : I hate it, therefore they hate it. Sins 
of thought are intended by pride and arrogance, for that puts us upon 
vain musings and imaginations; and sins of word by the froward 
mouth ; and sins of action by the evil way, outward practice. All this 
God hates, so should we : Eev. ii. 6, ' Thou hatest the deeds of the 
Nicolaitans, which I also hate/ If we be in the same covenant with 
God, we will have the same love, the same hatred. Nay, as we have 


the same nature with God, the saints are ' made partakers of the divine 
nature/ 2 Peter i. 4. The divine nature shows itself by suitable dis 

3. From our covenant relation with God, which implies an entire 
surrender of soul, which is without any reservation. When you give 
up yourselves to God, he will have all. If you say, God be merciful 
to me, and spare me in this, then you forfeit all the blessings of the 
covenant. God will have all or none ; therefore all sin, without excep 
tion, must be hated by us, for otherwise God is not our chief good : if 
anything be loved besides him, or against his will, it is love above him. 
One man allowed besides the husband is a violation of the marriage 
covenant ; so one sin allowed in the heart breaks all the covenant 
between God and us : James ii. 10, ' If a man keep the whole law, and 
yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.' That sentence is not a 
legal sentence belonging to the covenant of works ; that were a mistake 
of it : it is not only true in the sense of the covenant of works, one sin 
undoes us for ever, but it is true in the evangelical covenant. Thus 
one sin allowed with full consent of heart makes void the gospel cove 
nant, as one article not consented to disannuls the whole treaty and 
agreement between us and God. It is not consistent with sincerity that 
we should bring down the gospel covenant, to allow any one sin. 

4. From the damage and mischief that it doth to our souls. One 
sin keeps up the devil's interest ; it is like a nest egg, left there to 
draw a new temptation. You continue his empire in you ; this is his 
great design, to keep a part. Conscience begins to work, they must 
have something ; all then that he pleads for is but a part, and he 
knows that will bring the whole ; as Pharaoh would have a pawn, 
either their flocks, herds, or children, that this might bring them back 
again. One sin reserved gives Satan an interest ; one leak in the ship, 
though all the rest be stopped, if that be neglected, will sink it in time. 

Use. Let us lay this branch also to heart. There is something 
usually wherein we would be excused and expect favour. We all have 
a tender part of our soul, and loathe it should be touched ; some vain 
fashions, customs, or ways, and outgoings of soul, which we are unwill 
ing to leave, though we have often smarted for them. Consider, it is 
not consistent with your obedience and your love to God, nor with the 
power of grace in your hearts, to allow any false way. Herod did many 
things, yet perished for all that. A man may do many things that are 
good, upon sin's account, When you allow any one thing, it is only to 
hide and feed your lusts with greater pretence; so many religious 
things may be fuel of lusts, as well as carnal comforts. It is not for 
the interest of the flesh or indwelling corruption that men should have 
no religion ; sin cannot be served in such a cleanly way, unless there 
be something done in compliance with God's will, under some disguise, 
or conformity to the will of God. Say then, Shall I do and suffer so 
many things in vain ? Bring your hearts thus to hate every false way. 

Thirdly, This _ is a part and fruit of true wisdom. 

1. That this is a chief part of wisdom and understanding, to hate 
every false way, appears from Job xxviii. 28, ' The fear of the Lord, 
that is wisdom ; and to depart from evil, that is understanding.' So 
much as we hate sin, so much of spiritual wisdom and spiritual under- 

YER. 104.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 61 

standing. Certainly to hate sin is wisdom ; I prove it from the nature 
of sin. All disobedience is the greatest folly that can be in the world ; 
and therefore, if to sin be to do foolishly, to hate sin is to be wise ; and 
not to have understanding certainly is a fruit of folly, for a man to do 
that which will condemn himself, if ever he comes to himself. Now, 
when a man comes to himself, as when he dies or repents, oh ! how 
will his heart condemn and reproach him for the vanity of his worldly 
course, when he is rilled with his own ways ! Especially repentance, 
that is a coming to ourselves. As a man when he hath slept out his 
drunkenness and excess, and begins to look back upon his follies com 
mitted under that distemper ; such is repentance, it is an after-wisdom, 
and therefore it argues that there was an imprudence and inconsidera- 
tion of the things we repent of, and therefore we condemn ourselves. 
That is folly which gratifies those that are our utter enemies. Now 
sin it gratifies the devil, which seeks our ruin : he ' goes about, seek 
ing whom he may devour,' 1 Peter v. 8. You please him that seeks 
your utter destruction ; and will you grieve God and please the devil ? 
That is folly which brings no disadvantage upon him whom you dis 
obey, but upon you it brings the greatest mischief imaginable. God 
is not hurt by your sins ; he is above our injury : Prov. ix. 12, * If 
thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself ; but if thou scornest, thou 
alone shalt bear it.' There is no hurt done to God ; all the hurt is to 
our own souls : Prov. viii. 36, * He that sinneth against me, wrongs 
his own soul ; and he that hateth me, loveth death.' Every sinner is 
his own murderer and his own destroyer. All those arrows we shoot 
up against heaven, they fall down with more violence upon our own 
heads. That is folly for a man to hazard a jewel for a trifle, to stake 
his soul, and heaven, and eternal happiness, against a little flesh-pleasing 
and carnal satisfaction : Jonah ii. 8, * They that observe lying vanities 
forsake their own mercies.' Poor fugacious comforts, lying vanities, 
to follow after, and forsake their own mercy ; that is, all that happiness 
which might have been their own. A sinner is a mad gamester, that 
throws away the kingdom of heaven at every cast for a little momen 
tary short delight and vain contentment. That is folly to break with 
him upon whom our all depends, our life, being, comfort, happiness ; 
so doth sin make us break with God : Isa. lix. 2, ' Your iniquities have 
separated between you and your God.' Well, then, if sin be to do 
foolishly, to depart from sin, this is wisdom, this is understanding. 
Certainly he that provides against the greatest mischief doth escape 
the greatest danger ; he is the wise man, and not he that provides 
against temporal inconveniences only, as poverty and disgrace. He 
that escapes sin, escapes hell, the wrath of God, the extremest misery 
that can light upon a poor creature : Prov. xv. 24, ' The way of the 
wise is above, to avoid hell beneath ;' and therefore it is a high point 
of wisdom to hate sin. 

2. As it is a high point of understanding, so it is a fruit and effect 
of understanding. According to the degree of understanding that we 
have, so will our hatred of sin be ; for he saith, ' Through thy precepts 
I get understanding ; therefore I hate every false way. To prove this 
by two reasons : 

[1.] Our affections follow our apprehensions. There is no way to 


come to the heart but by the mind, by the understanding. Look, as 
there is no way to come to the bowels to purge our distempers that 
are there but by the mouth, stomach, and other passages that lead to 
the bowels, so there is no way to come to the heart and affections but 
by the understanding. Knowledge begets all other affections, those 
which belong to choice and pursuit, or those that belong to slight or 
aversation. Those that belong to choice and pursuit, desire, delight. 
There is no desire of that which is unknown ; so in those things that 
belong to slight and aversation, those affections, be it grief or shame 
for sin already committed, or fear or hatred that sin may not be com 
mitted. Grief or shame : Jer. xxxi. 19, ' After I was instructed, I 
smote upon my thigh ; I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because 
I did bear the reproach of my youth/ It is light which humbles, and 
the soul is affected according to the sight it hath of things ; or go to 
those affections which serve to prevent the commission of sin, as hatred 
and fear. Hatred in the text ; a good understanding goes before, a 
thorough hatred will follow. 

[2.] Second reason ; that when the mind is fraught with truths, and 
gotten a good stock of knowledge by God's precepts, then it will be 
checking and urging the soul to caution against sin ; and therefore the 
more understanding you yet by God's precepts, the more are you warned 
and put in mind of things : Ps. cxix. II, * I have hid thy word in 
mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.' When the word hath 
laid up in the heart a good stock of knowledge, there will be one 
thought or other that will be rising up and defying all temptations 
wherewith you are assaulted : Eph. vi. 17, * Take unto you the helmet 
of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God/ 
In the spiritual conflict we need weapons not only defensive but 
offensive ; not only the shield of faith, but the sword of the Spirit, 
that we may destroy and slay sin, and withstand temptation, and chase 
away Satan from us. What is this sword of the Spirit? The word 
of God. The more seasonable relief the more fresh thoughts you 
have to withstand temptations which are apt to come in upon you : 
Prov. vi. 21, 22, ' Bind them upon thine heart : when thou goest, it 
shall lead thee ; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee ; and when thou 
awakest, it shall talk with thee/ This will always be urging him to 
duty, and warning him of his danger. 

A word of use. (1.) Get understanding ; (2.) Never count your 
selves to understand anything but as you increase in hatred of sin. 

1. Get understanding. Partly (1.) Because there are many false 
ways you will never discern without much understanding. There 
are many false ways that are palliated and represented under the show 
of good, and we are easily ensnared unless we have light to choose our 
way : 1 Cor. ii. 8, ' Had they known it, they would not have crucified 
the Lord of glory/ A man will be carried on with a great deal of 
life and activity in a way contrary to God: Acts xxvi. 9, ' I verily 
thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the 
name of Jesus of Nazareth.' Oh 1 the tyranny and madness of an 
erring conscience and an ignorant zealot ! What a ready prey is a 
man to Satan, and is carried headlong to destroying courses, when a 
man hath more zeal and earnestness of spirit than knowledge to guide 

VER. 104.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 63 

him ! How will he stumble and dash upon things that are very con 
trary to the will of God. (2.) If they can discern them, they shall not 
have a heart and skill to remedy them without understanding. We 
shall not have a heart, for light will be urging, calling upon us, mind 
ing us of our duty, warning us of danger ; whereas otherwise we shall 
go on tamely, like an ox to the slaughter, and like a fool to the correc 
tion of the stocks. We shall not have this restless importunity of 
conscience, which is a great restraint of sin ; and then we shall not 
have the skill, for all is misapplied and misconceived by an ignorant 
spirit, for the whole business of his religion is making cordials instead 
of purges, and potions instead of antidotes, catching at promises when 
threatenings belong to him, lulling his soul asleep with new strains of 
grace, when he should awaken himself to duty. 

2. Never count yourselves to have profited in anything till your 
hearts are awakened into a further hatred of sin. Christians ! they 
are but notions ; it is not saving knowledge unless it be ia order to 
practice ; men have no understanding that have not this active and 
rooted enmity against sin : Ps. cxi. 10, ' A good understanding have 
all that they do his commandments ;' they that hate sin more, and are 
more weary of corruption. He is made wiser by the word that is 
made better by it. It is not the talker against, but the hater of 
iniquity that is the wise man. If wisdom enters upon the heart, and 
breaks out in our practice, by that is our thriving in knowledge to be 
measured : 1 John ii. 3, ' Hereby we know that we know him, if we 
keep his commandments/ 

This was God's scope in giving the word, not to make trial of men's 
wits, who could most sharply conceive, or of their memories, who could 
most faithfully retain, or of their eloquence, who could most nimbly 
discourse ; but of the sincerity of the heart, who could most obediently 
submit to the will of God. Jer. xxii. 16, when he had spoke of hating 
of sin, and doing good, ' Was not this to know me ? saith the Lord/ 
This is to know God to hate sin. Outward things were not made for 
sight only, but for use, as herbs, plants, and stars. So our reason, and 
the scriptures the Lord hath given us ; it is not only for sight, but for 
use, that we may be wise to salvation ; not that we may please our 
selves with acute notions about the things of God, but seriously set 
our hearts to practise. 

The fourth thing in this general point is, that this wisdom and 
understanding is gotten by God's precepts. Mark, ' I hate every false 
way/ Why ? ' Because by thy precepts I get understanding/ Where 
have we it ? By studying God's word/ Kom. iii. 20, ' By the law is the 
knowledge of sin/ How is the knowledge of sin by the law ? Three 
ways: according to the nature of the sin, according to who is the 
sinner, and according to the guilt and dreadful estate of them that lie 
in a state of sin. So the knowledge of sin, that is, the nature of it, 
and where it lives, and where it reigns, and what will be the effects of 
it, all this knowledge is by the law. 

1. By the law is the knowledge of sin, quoad naturam peccati. 
There are many things we should never know but by the law of God, 
though we have some general notions of good and evil. Rom. vii. 7, 
saith the apostle, ' I had not known sin but by the law ; for I had not 


known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.' Those first 
stirrings and secret lingerings of heart and inclinations to that which is 
cross to the will of God, that they go before all consent of will, and all 
delight, these things we could never discern by the light of nature. 

2. Quoad subjectum, what is the sinner, and who is guilty of it ? 
So Kom. vii. 9, ' I was alive without the law once, but when the com 
mandment came, sin revived, and I died.' He saw his lost, miserable, 
undone condition by the law of God. The acts of sin are discovered 
by the word of God ; it discovers the thoughts and intents of the 
heart, Heb. iv. 12, and state of sin ; our natural face, the condition 
wherein we are, is to be seen in this glass. 

3. Quoad realum et magnitudinem peccati, what will be the effects 
of it? Rom. v. 20, ' The law entered, that the offence might abound.' 
Therefore the law was given, that it might work a deep sense of the 
evil consequents of sin, and what wrath man was bound over to for 
violating the righteous law. The law represents the heinous nature 
of sin as it is avopia, a transgression of the law, as it strikes at God's 
being or at God's authority, seeks to jostle him out of the throne ; as 
it contradicts his sovereignty, and plucks the sceptre out of his hand 
and the crown from his head, and makes men to say, * Who is lord 
over us ? ' As if we had nothing to guide us but our own lusts. The 
word of God discovers this pride of heart, and then the manifold mis 
chiefs of sin are discovered ; we get this understanding by the word. 
It is better to know these mischiefs of sin by the threatenings of the 
word, than by our own bitter experience. It is sin that separates from 
God, and renders us incapable of all blessings. 

Use 1. Study yourselves, and take a view of the case and state of 
your souls by the glass of the word ; see what you gain by every read 
ing, hearing, every time you converse with him, what is given out to 
convince you of sin, or awaken your soul against sin. 

Use 2. When you consult with the word, beg the light of the Spirit, 
which is only lively and efficacious. The apostle speaks of knowing 
things in the evidence and ' demonstration of the Spirit and of power,' 
1 Cor. ii. 4. There is the same demonstration of the Spirit. There is a 
manifest difference between the evidence of reason and arguments held 
out from a natural understanding, and between the illumination or the 
demonstration of the Spirit. There are many that may have a full 
knowledge of the letter and the sense of the words, as they lie open to 
the evidence of reason, yet be without the light and power of those 
truths, for that is a fruit of the demonstration of the Spirit, the lively 
light of the Holy Ghost that goes along with the word. 


Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. 
VER. 105. 

THE present world, as much as it suits with our carnal nature, it is 
but like a howling wilderness with respect to Canaan, in which there 

VER. 105.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 65 

are many crooked paths and dangerous precipices, yea, many privy 
snares and secret ambushes laid for us by the devil and his instru 
ments ; so that unless we have a faithful guide, a clear, full, and sure 
direction, we shall certainly miscarry, and every day run into the 
mouth of a thousand mischiefs. Now God, out of his abundant 
mercy, hath given us a light, a rule to walk by, to set us clear from 
these rocks and precipices, and to guide us safe to true happiness. 
And what is this light ? It is his word ; so David acknowledged in 
this verse, thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto ym 

Here you may observe (1.) The double notion by which the direc 
tion of the word is set forth. (2.) You have the object, or the matter 
wherein we are directed ; that also is expressed by a double notion, 
1 It is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path/ Let me explain 
these a little. 

1. The two notions whereby the direction is expressed, it is a light, 
that is a more general expression ; the other is more particular, it is a 
lamp, possibly with allusion to the lamp of the sanctuary. The use of 
a lamp is to light in the night, and the light shines in the day. The 
word of God is both a light and lamp ; it is of use to us by day and 
night, in all conditions, in adversity, in prosperity, in all the conditions 
we pass through in this world. Chrysostom hath an observation, but 
I doubt a little too curious, 6 z/6//,o? Xu/cz/o? ovofjLd^erai, 6 Xpto-ro? ino? 1 
T% SiKdiocrvvrjs, saith he The law shineth in narrow limits, within 
small bounds, therefore that is called a lamp; but Christ, in the gospel, 
is called a son * of righteousness. 

2. Let us come to the term by which the object is expressed, path 
snd feet. By path is meant our general choice and course of life ; the 
law will direct to that ; not only so, but it is a light to our feet, that 
is, will direct us in every step, in every particular action. 

Doct. That the word of God is a clear and a full rule to direct us in 
all the conditions and affairs of the present life. 

It is a clear rule, for it is called a lamp ; and it is a full rule, for it 
is a lamp not only for our path, but for our feet. I shall speak of both 
severally, that it is a lamp and a light. 

First, It is a clear rule, and therefore called a light, and that in 
three regards : 

1. By reason of its direction, as it shows us the right way to our 
desired end. He that would come to his journey's end needs a way, 
and needs a light to see and find it out. Our end is eternal life, and 
that to be enjo} 7 ed in heaven : Prov. vi. 1 23, ' The commandment is a 
lamp, and the law is light, and reproofs of instruction are the way of 
life.' God hath stated the way that leads to eternal happiness by his 
wisdom and justice, and revealed it in the scriptures. See that place, 
Ps. xliii. 3, 'Oh, send out thy light and thy truth ; let them lead me, 
let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.' We 
should have wandered up and down in various uncertainties, and have 
neither pitched upon the right end nor way, but have lost ourselves in 
a maze of perplexities, if God had not sent forth his light and truth. 
Austin reckons up two hundred and eighty-eight opinions about the 

1 Qu. ijXios, and ' sun ' ? ED. 



chiefest good. Men are seeking out many inventions, looking here 
and there to find happiness, but God hath showed the true way. 

2. It is a light in regard of conviction, as it convinceth of all errors 

and' mistakes both in judgment and practice Verum est index sui et 

obliqui. In this respect it is said, Eph. v. 13, because of this con- 

vincino- light that is in the word, ' All things that are reproved, are 


made "manifest by the light ; for whatsoever doth make manifest is 
lie-lit/ It discovereth to us our sins as well as our duties ; light doth 
manifest itself, and make all other things manifest. Now this convic- 
tive power of the world is double by way of prevention, and by way 
of reproof. 

[1.] By way of prevention. The word of God shows us our danger, 
pits, 'precipices, and stumbling-blocks that lie in our way to heaven; 
it shows us both our food and our poison, and therefore he that walks 
according to the direction of the word is prevented from falling into a 
great deal of mischief : 1 John ii. 10, 11, 'He that abideth in the 
light, there is none occasion of stumbling in him: but he that hateth 
rns brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not 
whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.' The 
meaning of that place is this, he that walks according to the light of 
scripture, and lives in obedience thereto, avoids stumbling ; but he 
that is blinded by his own passion, he wants his light, knows not 
whither he goes, neither in what way he goes respectu vice, et respectu 
termini. What will be 'the end of his going ? He mistakes the way, 
sins for duties, and good for evil; or he mistakes the end, thinking he 
is going to heaven, when he is in the highway to hell. 

[2.] By way of humiliation and reproof, it discovers our sins to us 
in their own colours, so as to affect the heart, yea, our secret sins, 
which could not be found out by any other light : 1 Cor. xiv. 24, 
4 When he that believeth not, or is unlearned, cornes in, he is convinced 
of all, he is judged of all.' The light of the word it brings a sinner 
upon his face, makes him fall down, acknowledging the majesty of 
God in his word. God's word it hath his signature upon it, it is like 
himself, and bewrayeth its author by its convict! ve power and majesty. 
So it is notable, Heb. iv. 12, 13, ' The word of God is quick and 
powerful, &c., and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the 
heart/ Mark what he had said of the word. He proves the proper 
ties of the word by the properties of God ; that God searcheth all 
things, God's word is like himself. 

3. It is light in regard of comfort : Eccles. xi. 7, ' Truly the light 
is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun ; ' 
especially to those that have been shut up in darkness, and kept in a 
dungeon. Oh, it is a pleasant thing to behold the light again ! So is 
the word of God light in this sense, to relieve us in all the dark and 
gloomy passages of the present life. 

[1.] In outward darkness. When all outward comforts fail, and 
have spent their allowance, the comforts of the word are left ; there is 
enough to support and strengthen our hearts in waiting upon God : 
Ps. xxiii. 4, ' When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil ; for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff they 
comfort me/ The staff and rod they are instruments of a shepherd, 

VER. 105.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 67 

and Christ is our spiritual shepherd, so that this staff and rod are his 
word and Spirit, they are the instruments of the spiritual shepherd ; 
and this comforts us when we are in the shadow of death ; in our 
crosses, in confusions and difficulties, when we have nothing else left 
but the promises, this is a reviving to the soul. 

[2.] It is a comfort and refreshing to us in spiritual troubles, that 
arise from the guilt of sin, arid want of the sense of God's love : 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.' What shall 
he do ? Shall he compass himself about in his own sparks ? Oh, how 
miserable are we then ! No ; but let him depend upon God according 
to his promise. The word of God is a great part of his name ; let him 
stay his heart upon the word of God, when he walketh in darkness, 
and seeth no light. 

Now, that the word of God is such a light, such a sure and clear 
direction, I shall (1.) Give a direct proof of it from scripture ; (2.) 
Some types of it ; (3.) Prove it by experience ; (4.) By reason. 

1. For the proof from scripture, you have the notions of the text. 
So Prov. vi. 23, ' The commandment is a lamp, arid the law is light.' 
It is that which keeps us from stumbling. So 2 Peter i. 19, ' We have 
also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take 
heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place/ The world is a 
dark place. Ay ! but now here is a light that shines in a dark place, 
and that is the Holy Scripture, ' the sure word of prophecy ; ' it showeth 
us our way to heaven, and prevents us from stumbling into hell. 

2. To prove it by types. Two types I shall mention ; one is, Israel 
being directed by the pillar of a cloud ; the other is, the lamp of the 

[1.] The type of Israel's being directed by the pillar of the cloud by 
day, the pillar of fire by night, till they came into the land of Canaan, 
Exod. xiii. 21. Still they moved up and down, hither and thither, as 
the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire went before them. Thus our 
whole course is to be ordered by God's direction. See how this type 
is expressed, Neh. ix. 19, ' The pillar of the cloud departed not from 
them by day to lead them in the way, neither the pillar of fire by night 
to show them light, and the way wherein they should go.' Mark, when 
they were in the wilderness, the pillar of cloud and fire showed them 
the way where they were to go ; this is an emblem of the safe conduct 
the church may expect from Christ Jesus in all ages ; God's pillar 
departed not from them by night nor day. So while we are travelling 
in the wilderness of this our pilgrimage, his word and Spirit is con 
tinued to us. When they entered into Canaan, that was a type of 
heaven, then this pillar of cloud was removed. It is notable, Josh, 
xiv., when Israel passed over Jordan, we do not read the pillar went 
before them, but the ark of God was carried before them. So when 
the church comes to heaven, the resting-place, then this conduct ceaseth ; 
the word hath no more use. Jesus Christ, as the great shepherd, leads 
his flock into their everlasting fold. 

[2.] The other type was the lamp of the sanctuary; we read of that, 
Exod. xxvii. 20, 21. There was a great lamp hung upon the veil, to 


distinguish the holy of holies from the other part of the tabernacle, and 
was fed with pure oil-olive, and this lamp was prepared and trimmed 
up by the priest daily. Now what did this lamp signify ? Mark the 
application. This pure olive-oil signified God's pure word ; without 
the mixture of human traditions ; this hung up in the veil, shined in 
the church, and every day it was prepared, furnished, set forth by them 
that are called thereunto, for the use of the faithful. 

3. Let me prove it by experience, that the word is such a sure 

[1.] Because natural men have a sense of it, and upon that account 
fear it. See John iii. 20, 21, ' Every one that doeth evil, hateth the 
light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved/ 
Natural men will not come to the word, they fear it as discovering, 
and therefore never feel it as refreshing. Evil-doers hate the light ; 
they are afraid of the word lest it should convince them, and discover 
them to themselves ; therefore they stand off, and shun all means of 
closing with it ; there is such conviction in the oar, 1 a secret jealousy 
of the searching power that is in the word of God. 

[2.] Godly men do find a great deal of comfort and satisfaction from 
this light as to all the doubts and fears of the soul : Ps. xix. 8, ' The 
statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart ; the commandment 
of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.' All their scruples vanish ; 
here is an apt and fit doctrine accommodated to the heart of man. A 
man hath never true and rational delight till he is fully satisfied in 
point of religion, till he can have rest for his soul, and commodious 
notions of God. Now, if you would have rest for your souls, Jer. vi. 
16, here it is, the children of God find it. There is a fair compliance 
in this doctrine with all those natural principles and ingrafted notions 
within us concerning God and his will ; they find satisfaction in it to 
conscience, though not to fond curiosity ; the one is necessary, the 
other dangerous and unprofitable. Christians I there is a great deal 
of difference between these two, satisfying conscience and satisfying 
curiosity, as much as between quenching the thirst of a sober man and 
satisfying the lust and appetite of a drunkard. Here is enough to 
satisfy conscience, a fair accommodation of excellent truths to a reason 
able nature, truths becoming God, truths suiting with the heart of 
man, and therefore here they find it to be light, that is a sure direc 
tion. The wicked feel the discovery of it, and the saints feel the 
impression of it. 

[3.] We have this external and outward experience to assure us of 
our rule and light that shines in the word of God, because those that 
go against this light and direction do sensibly miscarry, and are sure 
to split themselves upon some rock or other. Our first parent, Adam, 
when he hearkened to the voice of the serpent rather than the voice of 
the Lord, destroyed himself and all his posterity. As long as he obeyed 
the word of God, he remained in a blessed estate in paradise, but when 
he gave heed to other counsels, he was cast out of paradise, and ren 
dered liable to many sorrows, yea, eternal death. So all that walk in 
the imagination of their own hearts, and have not light from the word, 
they presently run themselves into sundry mischiefs. The young pro- 
1 Qu. 'ore' ? That is, in a rudimentary state. ED. 

VER. 105.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 69 

phet is an instance of this, 1 Kings xiii. 21. To go to particular 
instances would be innumerable, every day's experience will furnish us 
with enough of this ; they that will not take the light of God's word, 
stumble upon dark mountains, for God hath owned his word to a tittle, 
owned both the tables : Rom. i. 18, ' The wrath of God is revealed 
from heaven,' &c. ; from heaven, by the effects of his wrath. If men 
be ungodly and unrighteous, they are punished ; nay, not only in the 
general, but in particular : Heb. ii. 2, ' For if the word spoken by angels . 
were steadfast ' why ? ' for every transgression and disobedience 
received a just recompense of reward.' By every transgression he 
means a sin of omission ; by every disobedience, a sin of commission. 
And as he will do so for sins against the law, so sins against the 
gospel ; that place where the gospel was first propounded smarted for 
the neglect of it : 1 Thes. ii. 16, ' Wrath is come upon them to the 
uttermost/ for despising the gospel. And still God secures the certainty 
of our direction by new judgments ; those that will go contrary to the 
word, turn aside to paths of their own, they perish in their devices. 

4. Let me prove it by reasons that certainly the word must needs be 
light, that is, a clear and sure direction. I prove it from the author, 
the instruments, and penmen, and from the ends why God hath given 
the word. 

[1.] From the author of it, it is God's word. Everything that comes 
from God hath some resemblance of his majesty : ' God is light, and 
in him there is no darkness at all/ 1 John i. 5. His word is light. If 
God would give us anything to direct us, it must needs be clear and 
sure, it must have light. As at first God gave reason to direct man : 
John i. 4, ' That life was the light of men;' as it came from God, before 
it was weakened by the fall, it was a full direction, it discovered its 
author ; arid now since the fall, still it discovers its author. Conscience, 
which remains with us, it is called f the candle of the Lord/ Prov. xx. 
27. From a glorious sun now it is dwindled to a candle, yet it is 
called the candle of the Lord ; it is a candle lighted by God himself. 
The understanding and conscience that is privy to our most secret 
motions, thoughts, and actions ; though it may be maimed and lessened 
by sin, it is sensible of some distinction between good and evil, and 
acts God's part in the soul, sometimes condemning, sometimes approv 
ing, accusing and excusing by turns, Rom. ii. 15. But, alas I if we 
were only left to this light, we should be for ever miserable. The light 
of reason is too short for us now, and there is a double reason ; partly, 
because our chief good and last end being altered by sin, we shall 
strangely mistake things, if we weigh them in the balance of the flesh, 
which we seek to please. Now our chief good is altered, or rather we 
are apt to mistake it ; all our business is to please the flesh, and to 
gratify lust and appetite, Ps. xlix. 12. Therefore go to a man led by 
carnal and unsanctified reason, he shall ' put light for darkness, and 
darkness for light ; good for evil, and evil for good/ Isa. v. 20. He 
shall confound the names and natures of things, so miserably grope in 
the dark, and not find out the way to true happiness, either stumbling, 
dashing his foot against a stone, or wander out of the way in a maze 
of a thousand uncertainties ; therefore it is a blessed thing not to be 
left to this candle of reason, the light within us, for that will not guide 


us, but God heath drawn a straight line for us to heaven, which if we 
follow we cannot miss. Again, partly because man's condition since 
the fall is such that he needs a supernatural remedy ; before he can be 
happy, he needs a redeemer. Now the gift of a redeemer depending 
upon the free grace of God, cannot be found out by natural light, for 
that can only judge of things necessary, and not of such things as 
depend upon the arbitrary love of God, therefore this light cannot 
guide, John iii. 16. Well, then, because the candle of the Lord that 
is within us is not enough to direct us, God hath set up a lamp in the 
sanctuary to give us light, and to guide us in the pursuit of true happi 
ness, and that is the scripture. Now, if they have God for their author, 
surely they must needs be clear and full, for nothing indited by his 
Spirit can be dark, confused, and inconveniently expressed, either with 
respect to the things revealed, or to the persons to whom this revelation 
is made. For if God should speak darkly (here is my argument), espe 
cially in necessary things, it is either because God could not speak 
otherwise, or would not. The former is direct blasphemy; he that 
made the eye, cannot he see ? and he that made the mouth, cannot he 
speak plainly and intelligibly to his people, so as to be understood by 
them ? And the latter cannot be said, that God would not, for that is 
contrary to his goodness and love to mankind : Ps. xxv. 8, ' Good and 
upright is the Lord ; therefore will he teach sinners in the way.' If 
this be true, that God is a just good God, he will teach us plainly ; the 
Psalmist infers it, he is just, and will not lead us wrong ; he is an 
upright God, and he is a good God ; and therefore, though we have 
fallen from the state of our creation, though the candle of the Lord 
burn dim in our hearts since the fall, yet he is a good God, therefore 
he will show us the way. Now it is not to be imagined that there 
should not be light in the word of God, that that should be dark, con 
fused, and unintelligible ; that the most powerful and wise monarch, 
and most loving of all, that he should write a book to teach men the 
way to heaven, and do it so cloudily, that we cannot tell what to make 
of it. Therefore if God be the author, this book must be true ; here 
must be light, a clear and sure direction to guide us in all our ways. 

[2.] I prove it by reason again, from the instruments used in this 
work. Shall I take those words for my groundwork? 2 Peter i. 21, 
' For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy 
men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost ;' that is, it 
is not the fancies or dictates of men, but the word of God ; for they 
were holy men, and holy men guided by the Holy Ghost, and so 
guided as that they were moved, borne up by the special motion of the 
Spirit. Let me reason thus : those that God hath employed to deliver 
his mind to the world, look either to the prophets of the Old Testa 
ment or apostles of the New, and you will find them to be holy men, 
burning with zeal for God and love to souls ; and it is not to be 
imagined that they would deliver God's mind so darkly that nobody 
could understand their meaning. Christians they were, not men that 
were to act a part of their own upon the stage of the world, not men 
that aimed at ostentation of wisdom and curiosity of science ; but they 
were holy men, they were free from ambition and envy, and other such 
vile affections, which are wont to make writers to affect obscurity ; 

VER. 105.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 71 

therefore in all simplicity of style, plainness of heart, and faithfulness 
to their message, they minded their master's honour and the people's 
good ; they renounced pomp of words and lofty speculations, minded 
that people might understand the mind of God published lay them. 
As they were holy men, so they were acted by the Spirit of God. 
Now the Spirit of God is not a spirit of darkness but a spirit of light, 
which gives understanding to all men, therefore they spake luminously 
and clearly. Nay, they were not only acted by the Spirit, but they 
were borne up by the Spirit, carried by the Holy Ghost while they 
were employed in this work, publishing the mind of God to the 
church ; they were carried beyond the line of their natural spirits, by 
an extraordinary impulse infallibly borne up, so that they could not 
err and miscarry. Now from such holy men that were not swayed 
by ambition and private aims, so guided, so acted by the Spirit, what 
can be expected but what is sure, clear, and plain ? 

[3.] I argue and reason again from the end of God in giving us 
the scriptures ; all which doth clearly infer that here is a sure and 
plain direction that will lead you to heaven. There is a fourfold end 
wherefore God hath given us the scriptures : 

(1.) That by this means heavenly doctrine might Be kept free from 
corruption, that men might not obtrude articles of faith upon us and 
fancies of their own brain, that heavenly doctrine might be put into a 
stated course and kept pure from corruption. When mankind sat in 
darkness and in the shadow of death, it was necessary that one way 
or other they should have light, that God by some way or other would 
reveal his mind to them, either by word of mouth or by writing. Now 
God did it by oracles and extraordinary messages at first, while there 
were but few truths revealed, and such as did not much burden thte 
memory, and while men were Jong-lived, and so could a great while 
avouch their message from God, and while they were of great sim 
plicity, and the church was confined to a few men, to a few families, 
within a small compass of ground, not liable to those miseries and 
changes now in latter days. Before Christ came it was fit God should 
send his messengers ; but now in these latter days, when he hath 
spoken to us by his Son, Heb. i. 1, it is fit the rule of faith should be 
closed up. It is not for the honour of the Son of God that after him 
should come any extraordinary nuncio or ambassador from heaven, as 
if he had not fully discovered his Father's mind. Well, then, there 
fore God hath put all his messages into writing for the use of after- 
ages, and for this end that there might be some public standard for 
trying of things by. Now God's end would not be accomplished if 
this writing were not clear. Here is the argument, the world would 
be left at great uncertainties, far more than in old time, and so this 
end for preserving truth for the use and direction of the church would 
be wholly lost. Well, then, if God will make a writing serve instead 
of extraordinary messages, which brought their own evidence with 
them, certainly he will not put it into words liable to mistake, but that 
are intelligible. Wisdom saith, Prov. viii. 9, ' They are all plain to 
him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge/ Cer 
tainly they that come in simplicity of heart, with a mind to learn 
God's will, not to cavil, they may know. 


(2.) God's end in setting forth the scripture was that it might be 
read of all ages and of all sexes, as the book of the law was to be read 
in the congregation before the men, women, little ones, and strangers, 
Deut. xxi. ; from day to day it was read in the synagogue, Acts xv. 
21 ; and God would have them teach their children, Deut. vi. 6 ; and 
Timothy is commended for reading the scriptures from his youth, 
2 Tim. iii. 5. And the apostles do express themselves to be ' debtors 
both to the wise and unwise, to Greeks and barbarians/ Rom. i. 14, 
to speak wisdom to the wise and plainness to the simple ; and St John 
he writes to children and young men and fathers, 1 John ii. 13. Well, 
then, here is my argument, if God would write a book to be read by 
men, women, children, all sorts, surely it is that all might understand, 
not that they might repeat it by rote, and toss the words of it in their 
mouths as parrots do words they understand not ; surely, then, they 
are compiled to profit all. 

(3.) God's end in giving the word was for converting of men, or 
leaving them without excuse. Now take either end, and it shows 
there must be a plain direction. If for converting of men, then it 
must be so plain that it may be understood by them, for there is 
nothing gets to the heart but by the understanding : ' After I was 
instructed I smote upon my thigh/ And all influences are conveyed 
by light, and if God gains any heart it is by teaching and by light. 
Or if it were for leaving them without excuse, it must be by a clear 
revealing of his will, otherwise they might pretend obscurity. The 
apostle pleads this, 2 Cor. iv. 24 ; saith the apostle, there is such 
plain truth in the gospel that every man's conscience may take it up 
if he will ; and if they cannot see the majesty of God in this doctrine 
they are blinded by Satan ; the fault is not in gospel light, but in their 
own eyes; they cannot complain of God, but of themselves. 

(4.) The end is, that it might be a rule of faith and manners by 
which all doctrines are to be tried. A rule of faith : Tsa. viii. 20, * To 
the law and to the testimony : if they speak not according to this word, 
it is because there is no light in them/ And Acts xvii. 11, * They 
received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scrip 
tures daily, whether these things were so/ So to be a rule of manners : 
Gal. vi. 16, 'As many as walk according to this rule/ &c. There 
are many actions which God requireth of us that expose us to great 
difficulty and hazard. Now, before the heart be gained to them, we 
had need have a plain proof that it is the will of God ; for who will 
venture his all unless he have a clear warrant, that knows whither he 
goes, and whither to look for amends, if he suffer the loss of all things ? 
Thus there is light in the word. 

Secondly, But now it is a full direction, for David speaks it of his 
feet and path. 

1. In general observe this: it is not a light to our brains to fill us 
with empty notions, but a light to our feet to regulate our practice 
and to guide our actions, Jer. vi. 16. He doth not say, hearken after 
the true religion, but walk therein. For a man to study the scripture 
only to satisfy curiosity, only to know what is right and good, and not 
follow it with all his heart, is but to make a rod for his own back, and 
doth but cause his own condemnation to be sore and terrible, Luke 

VER. 105.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 73 

xii. 47. To be able to dispute for truth and not lie under the power 
of it, to avoid heresy and live in vice, will never bring him to heaven, 
Gal. vi. 16. It is not them that are able to talk of it, but to 'walk 
according to this rule ;' not to play with it, but to work with it. Know 
ledge and practice must be joined together ; they do never well asunder, 
but excellent together. 

2. In our practice. 

[1.] Our path, our general choice. A man that consults with God's 
word, ' The Lord will teach him the way that he shall choose,' Ps. 
xxv. 12. Everything appointed to an end must have all things abso 
lutely necessary to that end, else it is not perfect in its kind ; though 
perfect to guide us to eternal life ; therefore it must contain all things 
that belong or conduce to that end. It is not a rule given us to be rich 
or safe, but to be eternally happy. 

[2.] As it is a light to our path, so to our feet. How ? In the 
particular actions that we perform, and in the particular conditions 
that we pass through. 

(1.) In the particular actions that we perform. Every action we 
go about must be guided by the word. Why ? Because obedience 
in particular actions we are most apt to miscarry in. Many are wise 
in generals, but in particulars they quite mistake their way. We have 
general notions that we must be holy ; ay ! but we are not ' holy in all 
mariner of conversation,' 1 Peter i. 15. In every creek and turning of 
our lives, in all our actions of eating, drinking, sleeping, and waking, 
we are to be mindful and respect the command of God in all these. 
No path of a Christian's conversation but ought to savour of grace and 
holiness ; not only his religious, but his common and civil actions. 
Every action is a step to heaven or hell, for this life is compared to a 
walk, and in a walk every step brings us onward in our way. Briefly, 
in every act, either sin or grace interposeth, therefore we had need 
look to every step, and still to walk according to rule. 

(2 ) It guides us in all the conditions that we pass through. In 
every age ; here is milk for the weak, and strong meat for men of ripe 
age. In every calling, from the king to the lowest beggar. In every 
state of life, adversity, prosperity, still here is light for you. 

There are two parties whose interest it is to decry the clearness of 
scripture, papists and libertines. Papists, they are afraid to stand to 
this trial, they would bring all to the judgment of the church ; there 
fore, it is for their interest that the scriptures were not a clear, safe, 
and a full direction. Libertines, they decry the clearness of scripture 
upon several grounds. Those that plead for a boundless toleration, 
what is their great argument ? Nothing is certain in religion. If 
the word be a clear rule, then, &c. 



TJie word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. 
VER. 105. 

HERE I shall answer five objections that are made by cavillers. 

Object 1. First, If it be so clear a light, why do men so often mis 
take that have the scriptures, and consult with them? yea, why is 
there such differences among good men ? 

Ans. I answer, in general, there is light in the scriptures, but there 
is darkness in men that are conversant about them. The object may 
be well represented when the faculty is not well disposed. There are 
defects in them to whom this discovery is made ; though they have 
light, yet they want eyes. The sun giveth light enough, though blind 
men cannot see it ; the word doth whatsoever is necessary on its own 
part. To the beholding of anything by the outward sense, there must 
not only be light to make the object conspicuous, but also a faculty of 
seeing in the eye ; blind men cannot see at noonday, nor the sharpest- 
sighted at midnight. There is light in the scriptures surely, for God 
would not deal hypocritically with us that are his people ; if he hath 
given us a rule, he would not wrap it up in darkness, so as we should 
not know his meaning ; so that the defect is in us. This in general. 

But, secondly, there are many causes of men's mistake. 

1. Some come to the word with a presumption of their own wit, 
and leaning upon their own understanding, as if that should discover 
the whole counsel of God, and these God never undertook to teach : 
Ps. xxv. 9, ' The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will 
he teach his way.' Those that, in a humble sense of their own 
nothingness, depend upon his direction, them will he teach : . James i. 
21, ' Eeceive with meekness the ingrafted word of God.' We have 
caution given us, and admonitions against pride and arrogance and 
self-dependence, Prov. iii. 3-6. 

2. Many bring their prejudicate opinions along with them, and are 
biassed and prepossessed before they come to the word of God, and so 
do not so much take up the sense which the scriptures offer, as seek to 
impose their own sense on them, and regulate the scriptures to their 
own hearts, not regulating their hearts and principles and senses 
according to the word of God. Optimus ille lector est,, saith Hilary, 
qui dictorum intelligentiam expectat, &c. That mind which is pre 
occupied with evil opinions, and enslaved to preconceived conclusions, 
they do not take anything from the word, but impose something upon 
it which God never revealed there. If the weights be equal, yet if 
the balance be not equipendent, wrong may be done. They come with 
an idol in their own hearts, Ezek. xiv. 2, as those that would ask 
counsel of the Lord, that were resolved beforehand, Jer. xlii. While 
we look through the spectacles of our own fancies and preconceptions, 
the mind, poisoned with error, seemeth to see what we see not. 

3. Some search the scriptures not out of any love to the truth, or 
to know the mind of God, but to oppose it rather, and so seek a pre 
tence from thence to justify their private faction in way of opposition 

VER. 105.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 75 

against God. The devil gets scripture to wrest it to his own purpose, 
Mat. iv. 6. They read not to be better, but to cavil, and put a greater 
varnish upon the devil's cause, as Julian did search the scriptures to 
pick an advantage against the true religion, and scoff at them that 
professed it ; and Herod inquired after the place where Jesus was born, 
not to adore him, but to kill him, Mat. ii. 8. Our great rule is, John 
xvii. 17, ' Sanctify them by thy truth ; thy word is truth.' When you 
come to study the scriptures, to be the better for them, and not to 
cavil, then you are in the way to find profit from them. 

4. Some come to the word leavened with some carnal affections, 
and so their hearts are blinded by their lusts and passion : 2 Cor. iv. 
3, 4, 'If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost ; in whom 
the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe 
not.' There is evidence enough in the truth, but their hearts are 
wedded to their sins, and so cannot see it ; they are ambitious, and seek 
after honour and worldly greatness ; and the whole bent and scope of 
the scripture being against their design, they can never have a perfect 
understanding of it ; their hearts are full of avarice, earthly-minded- 
ness, and some other beloved sin that they cherish, which doth defile 
all that they touch, even the very word of God. Hag. ii. 13, A man 
that was unclean by a dead body, whatsoever he. touched was also 
unclean, even holy things ; and, Titus i. 15, ' To the impure all things 
are impure;' and so by the just judgment of God are blinded and 
hardened in their own prejudices, fcr the light they have hindereth 
them from discerning the truth. 

5. Some content themselves with some superficial apprehensions, 
and do not dig deep in the mines of knowledge, and therefore no 
wonder they mistake in many things : Prov. ii. 4, 5, ' If thou seekest 
her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures, then shalt thou 
understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.' No 
excellent things are to be had without pain and industry and search ; 
certainly the knowledge of God's word must cost us great pains. 

6. Where men are right in the main, and give diligence to know 
God's mind, there will be mistakes in lesser things. All have not 
parts alike, and gifts and graces alike, and therefore there is some 
variety of opinions and interpretations of scripture among the godly 
wise. Every man is not so happy to be so well studied, nor hath not 
that ability to understand, nor so furnished with acquired helps of arts 
and tongues, nor such a degree of the Spirit. There is a difference in 
age, growth, and experience among good men ; some are babes, and 
some grown in years in Christianity, Phil. iii. 15. Grace is bewrayed 
in knowledge, as well as in holiness. 

Object. 2. If there be such a light in the scriptures, what need is 
thereof the Spirit? 

Ans. I answer The scriptures are the means of light, the Spirit is 
the author of light, both together enlighten the eyes, Ps. xix. 8. 
These two must be taken in conjunction, not in exclusion. To pretend 
to the Spirit and neglect the scriptures, makes way for error and fond 
conceits : Isa. viii. 20, ' To the law and to the testimony, if they speak 
not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.' 
Light is not contrary to light ; so to study the scriptures, and neglect 


the Spirit, who 'searcheth out the deep things of God,' 1 Cor. ii. 11, 
leaveth us in darkness about God's mind. The object to be known is 
fixed in the scriptures, but the faculty that knoweth must be enlight 
ened by the Spirit. There is a literal understanding of the scriptures 
and a spiritual understanding, 1 Cor. ii. 14. Now, as to the spiritual 
understanding of them, there needs the Spirit, ' for the natural man 
cannot understand the things of the Spirit;' so that here is a fair cor 
respondence between the word and the Spirit. 

Object. 3. If the scriptures be so plain, what need of the ministry ? 

Ans. 1. I answer It is God's institution, and we must submit to 
it, though we could see no reason for it. That it is God's institution 
is plain, for he hath set some in the church, not only apostles and pro 
phets, but pastors and teachers, to apply scriptures to us ; and, 1 Cor. 
i. 21, ' It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that 
believe/ If there were no reason but this, because it is God's institu 
tion, we should submit to it. 

2. The use of the ministry is to explain and vindicate truth. Men 
darken counsel with words, and render plain things obscure by their 
litigations and unprofitable debates. Now they are set for the defence 
of the truth, et? a7ro\6yi,av, Phil. i. 7. And the ministry must be 
ai'Te^oyitej'o?, Titus i. 9, * Able to convince the gainsayers ;' good at 
holding and drawing ; it is the human help for weak understandings. 
The eunuch was reading, and could not tell what to make of it, then 
God sent him an interpreter, Acts viii. Now God's help should not 
be despised ; when he will employ men to solve doubts, to guide us in 
our way to heaven, we should thankfully accept of it, rather than 
quarrel at the institution. 

3. They are of use to apply generals to particular cases, and to teach 
us how to deduce genuine inferences from those truths laid down in 
the scriptures. Mai. ii. 7, in this sense it is said, ' The priest's lips 
should preserve knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; 
for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.' God hath appointed 
this office to some, to solve the doubts that do arise about particular 
exigencies and cases, and to make out the mind of God to his people, 
otherwise they need go no farther than the tables and books of Moses 
to seek the law ; but God hath appointed some in the church that are 
skilled m consequences and deductions, to raise matter therefrom, so 
that it is a minister's work to open and explain scripture. 

4. There is a use of the ministry to keep doctrines still afoot in the 
church, and to keep us in remembrance. Ministers are the Lord's re 
membrancers ; it is a great part of their office to mind people of their 
duty. The word is a light, but it must be set in the candlestick of the 
church ; they are to hold out the light for our direction and guidance. 

5. There is a peculiar blessing and efficacy to a Christian from their 
calling : Mat. xxviii. 20, ' Lo, I am with you to the end of the 

Object. 4. It is said, 2 Peter iii. 16, that there are some things hard 
to be understood, therefore how should it be a clear rule to us ? There 
upon many take occasion to tax the scriptures of obscurity, and cry 
out that nothing is certain in religion, and so hinder and discourage 
men from the study of the word. 

VER. 105.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 77 

Ans. 1. I answer The apostle saith there are Sva-vorjra, some 
things hard to be understood, but doth not say there are dvorjra, things 
that cannot be understood ; not there are things impossible to be 
understood, but there is some difficulty in them, to exercise our dili 
gence, to subdue our pride, for the humbling of us, for the prevention 
of the contempt of things easy and plain, that are soon despised, to 
excite us to prayer for knowledge, to avoid satiety in this holy 

2. The second thing that I answer is this ; he doth not say there 
are 7ro\\a, but riva ; many things, but some. Though there are some 
things propounded which are difficult, to exercise our diligence, yet 
other things are plainly delivered, to invite our search. Multa sunt 
aperta et manifesta (saith Austin) unde aperiuntur, &c. Though 
there are some things obscure, there are many things will help to clear 
them, and \thatsoever is necessary to salvation is clear. There are 
some things hidden like spots in the moon and storfes in the earth, 
things that serve for plenitude of knowledge and curiosity. He saith 
these things are hid, but now things necessary to salvation are made 
obvious to us ; as water and bread, they are not hard to come by, but 
gold and silver is hid in the bowels of the earth ; and therefore though 
there be some things hard to be understood, he doth not say they are 
not to be understood. Now the question between us and the papists 
is not, whether some things in the scripture be obscure, but whether 
they be so obscure as that people ought not to read them, or cannot 
with any profit, and that there can be no certainty thence deduced ? 
As to the defining things controverted in matters necessary to salva 
tion, we say there are some things hard to be understood, to keep us 
humble, to quicken us to pray for the Spirit, yet for the most part 
God's mind is plain and easy to be understood by them that humbly 
depend upon Christ teaching in the use of the appointed means. 

Object. 5. Another objection is from experience ; a poor Christian 
complaineth, as Job xix. 8, ' He hath set darkness in my path that I 
cannot pass/ They would fain know the mind of God in some parti 
cular cases, but they cannot see it. 

Ans. I answer This darkness of ours should not be urged to the 
disparagement of the word. We are under many doubts, we are 
divided between light and interest, we puzzle and grope, and would 
reconcile the light of the scriptures and our interests together, but this 
should not disparage the word. The scriptures complain of our dark 
ness, not of its own, and the saints always say, Lord, do not make a 
plainer law ; but open our eyes, in the 18th verse of this psalm ; this 
is Chrysostom's gloss upon that place. When a man walketh in the 
way of his own heart, his way may be darkness, and he may stumble, 
and know not whither he goeth. But you that give up yourselves 
sincerely to the directions of his word, he will make your path clear 
and plain before you ; that is, when you seek nothing but God's glory, 
and your own eternal salvation for your end, and come with a humble 
meek mind to seek God's counsel, being free from the preoccupations 
of self-conceits, being resolved to follow God's directions whatever they, 
be, and use that diligence which is necessary ; you will not be long 
kept in the dark. 


jj se i [1.] To inform us how to answer this question, how to 
know whether the scriptures be the word of God. It shows itself, 
and evidenceth itself to be so ; for it is a light that discovers itself, 
and all things else, without any other testimony. When the sun is 
up, there needs no witness and proof that it is light. Let the least 
child bring a candle into a room, and as it discovers other things, so 
it discovers itself. So the word of God is that which discovers itself 
to us, yea, it hath a self-evidencing light. 

[2:1 If the word be a light, it informs us, then, there is none that 
are above the scriptures. There is a fond conceit that men take up, 
that the scriptures are for novices and young beginners, not for strong 
Christians. David was no novice, yet he saith, ' Thy word is a light.' 
And Daniel was no novice, yet he got understanding by the prophecy 
of the prophet Jeremiah, Dan. ix. 2. Timothy was no novice, who 
was to ' give attendance to reading, and exhortation, and doctrine/ 1 
Tim. iv. 13. Aye ! but what is meant by that place, 2 Peter i. 19 ? 
' We have a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that 
ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place.' From 
thence many gather that as soon as Christ is revealed in us, we should 
not look after the scriptures, for it is said, * until the day dawn, and 
the day-star arise in your hearts.' Some understand this place of the 
light of glory, and others of the light of the gospel ; you do well to 
take heed to the Old Testament light, till you have the New Testa 
ment light, which is most agreeable to the mind of God. For my 
part, I pitch upon the former, and shall understand it of the dawning 
of eternity, or Christ's second coming, which is called in scripture a 
day which shall then begin and never be ended, after which there is 
no night, nor any other day, but a blessed eternity ; and sometimes it is 
called * the day; 2 Tim. iv. 8, and 'that day,' 1 Thes. v.4 ; and Christ 
is called 'the bright morning star/ Eev. xxii. 16, and 'the glorious 1 
shall shine like the morning stars/ Dan. xii. 3, and Rev. ii. 28. Our 
happiness is expressed by a day-star ; so that the meaning is, take 
heed unto this word until the day of eternity dawn upon you, till you 
come to the light of glory, till you have a greater light than that of 
the gospel. 

Now, I rather pitch upon this interpretation, because they to whom 
the apostle wrote were converted Jews, and did not only own the Old 
Testament, but had already received the gospel light, the day-star was 
risen upon their hearts, so that he bids them take heed to the sure 
word of prophecy, till the light of glory was revealed to them. I know 
there are some divines understand it of a more clear and plentiful 
knowledge of the gospel, who take prophecy to be the scriptures of 
the Old Testament that they were to take heed to, till the gospel light 
did arise upon them ; and the times of the Old Testament were called 
night, Eom. xiii. 12, but now the gospel time is called day. But if it 
be understood thus, then some say that the law must be cast off when 
the gospel appeared to them, because it is said, ' until the day/ 
Those divines explain themselves safely enough herein, for, say they, 
until doth not always note terminum temporis, the end of time, but 
continuationem actus, the continuation of the act, until the time, and 

1 Qu. ' wise ' ? ED. 

VER. 105.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 79 

afterwards, as it is spoken in other scriptures, ' their sin shall not be 
blotted out till they die,' that is never ; but for the former reason that I 
have given before, I think it is meant of the light of glory. 

Use 2. Reproof. [1.] Of those that walk in the midst of this 
light, and yet perceive no more of the things of God, than if they were 
in darkness, these lose the benefit which God vouchsafe th to them : 
John i. 5, ' The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness compre- 
hendeth it not ;' and John iii. 19, ' The light is come into the world, 
and men loved darkness rather than light/ It had been better for 
them they had never heard of the scriptures, and that God had never 
set up such a lamp in the church. These men believe the word of God 
is a light and a lamp, yet never take care of, nor give heed to it ; they 
are careless, and never measure their actions according to this rule. 

[2.] It reproves those that set up another rule, and look for an 
infallible interpreter. 

(1.) Those that set up reason instead of the word of God. Alas ! 
this is an imperfect rule ; these men would bring down all things 
before the tribunal of their own reason ; these are not disciples of 
Christ, but masters ; they will not be taught by the directions of the 
word, but by their own dark hearts. I have told you the candle of 
the Lord did burn bright within us ; but alas ! now it is weakened by 
sin, it is an imperfect irrational thing, we can never be saved by it. 

(2.) Others are guided by their passions and lusts ; this is their 
direction and their lamp ; this will surely lead them to utter darkness : 
'If you live after the flesh, you shall die,' Rom. viii. 13. 

(3.) Some take the counsel and example of others, this will leave 
them comfortless, and make them fall into the snare. 

(4.) Some go to witches in straits, as the prophet reproves such, 
Isa. viii. 19, 20, ' Should not a people seek unto their God ? ' 

(5.) Others expect new revelations from heaven to counsel them ; 
they would converse, with angels now God hath spoken to us by his 
Son : Gal. i. 8, ' If an angel from heaven should bring another gospel 
than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.' 

Use 3. Caution to enterprise nothing but what you have a warrant 
for out of the word of God. When you are going about any action, 
say, Where is my warrant? If I do it upon my own brain, I must 
stand to my own hazard ; and ail the evil that comes upon me, it is 
the fruit of my own counsel. Num. xxvii. 21, the priest was to ask 
counsel of the Lord, who shall go out, and who shall go in ; and 1 
Sam. xxiii. 9. 10. To do things with a doubting conscience, with an 
uncertainty, whether it be good or bad, it is a sin ; for ' whatsoever is 
not of faith, is sin ;' still seek your direction from the word. 

Use 4. [1.] It exhorts us to bless God, and be thankful for this 
light: Isa. ix. 2, 'The people that sat in darkness saw great light.'. 
There is the same difference between the church and other places, as 
there was between E^ypt and Goshen, Exod. x. 23. Here is light, 
and in other places thick darkness. What a mercy it is that we have 
present direction, a light to guide us here in grace, that will bring us 
to glory. Give thanks to God for so great a benefit. 

[2.] Walk according to the directions of the word ; walk in the 
light,' Eph. v. 8 ; believe it, Heb. iv. 2, the true and infallible truth 


that came out of God's rnouth ; and then apply it ; say, This truth 
which is spoken is spoken to me, Mat. xiii. 37, and urge thy heart 
with the duties of it ; this was spoken for our learning, be persuaded 
of this truth, and so walk and so do, and you shall not find any 
miscarriage, 1 Cor. xv. 58. Here is my warrant and my direction, I 
will keep to it, though it expose me to many hazards and straits, I 
know it will be made up at last, it will not be lost labour to do what 
God biddeth thee to do. 


I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep tliy righteous 
judgments. VER. 106. 

IN the former verse David had commended the word for a sure di 
rection ; it is a light and a lamp. How so ? Not only by God's 
designation and appointment, but by David's choice, ' It was a light 
to my feet, and a lamp to my steps/ Now, in this verse, he speaks 
of his firmness and constancy to that choice ; I have taken thy word 
for my guidance and direction, and there he did resolve to stick. His 
constancy was grounded upon a vow, or upon a promissory oath, 
which he saw no cause to retract or repent of : ' I have sworn, and I 
will perform it/ &c. 

In which words you may observe 

1. The strength of David's resolution and purpose, expressed in his 
oath ; not I must, or I will keep, but / have sivorn, '&c. 

2. The matter of this purpose or oath, and that was to keep God's 

3. One great motive and reason that inclined him so to do, in the 
word, thy righteous judgments; the marvellous equity that was to be 
observed in the things commanded by God. 

4. The conscience that lay upon him of observing this oath, / will 
perform it. As if he had said, I saw a great deal of reason to make 
the promise so solemnly to God, and I see no reason at all to retract it. 

Four points I shall observe : 

1. That it is not only lawful, but good and profitable, to bind our 
selves to our duty by a vow, solemnly declared purpose, and holy 
oath ; so David, / have sivorn. 

2. That this help of an oath or vow should be used in a matter 
lawful, weighty, and necessary, ' I have sworn/ saith David ; but what 
hath he sworn? To keep thy righteous judgments. A great duty 
which God had enjoined him in his covenant. 

3. Those that are entered into the bond of a holy oath must re 
ligiously observe and perform what they have sworn to God : I have- 
sworn, and I will perform. 

4. That we may perform our oaths, and lie under a sense and 
conscience of our engagements to God, it is good that they should be 
often revived and renewed upon us ; for so doth David here recognise 
his oath, / have sivorn that, &c. 

VER. 106.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 81 

Doct. 1. That it concerns us sometimes to bind ourselves to God, 
and the duty that we owe to him, by an oath. 

1. That it is lawful so to do appears from God's injunction, and the 
practice of the saints. 

[1.] From God's injunction. He hath commanded us to accept of 
the gospel covenant, and not barely so, but to submit unto the seals 
and rites by which it is confirmed, which submission of ours implieth 
an oath made to God. Baptism is our sacramentum militare, sacra 
mental vow, our oath of allegiance to God ; and therefore it is called, 
1 Peter iii. 21, eTre/xor^a,. ' The answer of a good conscience towards 
God,' an answer upon God's demands in the covenant. God does, as 
it were, in the covenant of grace, put us to the question, Will you 
renounce all your sins, and all the vanities you have doted upon ? 
And we answer to God, enter into a solemn oath, that we will re 
nounce sin, that we will accept of Christ as our Saviour, and will walk 
before him in all holy obedience. Among the Romans, when any 
soldier was pressed for war, he took an oath to serve his captain faith 
fully, and not to forsake him, and then he was called miles per sacra 
mentum, a soldier by sacrifice or by oath ; and sometimes one took 
an oath for all the rest, and the others only said, The same oath he 
took, the same do I ; and these were called milites per conjurationem, 
et milites evocati. Thus every Christian is a professed soldier of 
Christ ; he hath sworn to become the Lord's, to cleave faithfully to 
him ; and this oath, that it may not be forgotten, is renewed at the 
Lord's supper, where again we solemnly engage, by the public rites 
that are there used, to stand to our covenant. We do not only come 
and take God's enfeoffment, take a pledge out of God's hands, to be 
assured of the privileges of the covenant, but we bind ourselves to 
perform the duty thereof ; for as the blood of the beast. Exod. xxiv. 
7, 8, that was offered in the sacrifice, which is called there the blood 
of the covenant, was sprinkled not only upon the altar, to show that 
God was engaged to bless, but sprinkled half upon the people, to show 
they were engaged to obey ; there was a confirmation of that promise 
made to God, ' All that the Lord hath commanded us, that will we 
do.' Well, now, if God thought such a course necessary and profitable 
for us, certainly we may upon occasion use the like means for our con 
firmation, for our strengthening in the work of obedience. That there 
is such a vow expressed or implied in every prayer may be easily 
made good in the whole tenor of our Christianity ; therefore certainly 
it is lawful so to do, to make our duty more urgent and explicit upon 
our souls, by solemn vow and serious oath of dedication of ourselves 
to God's use and service. 

[2.] The practice of the saints, who have publicly and privately 
engaged themselves to God, do show the lawfulness of it. Public 
instances : 2 Chron. xv. 12-14, 'They entered into a covenant to seek 
the Lord God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul ; and they 
sware unto the Lord/ &c. So in Josiah's time : 2 Chron. xxxiv. 31, 
' And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the 
Lord to walk after the Lord, and keep his commandments,' &c. So 
Neh. x. 29, ' They entered into an oath to walk in God's laws.' And 
for private oaths, we have David's instance here in the text ; and Job 



xxxi. 1, ' I made covenant with mine eyes/ He had bound himself 
by a holy vow and purpose to guard his senses, and take heed his 
heart did not take fire by the gazing of his eye, that it was not inflamed 
with lust and sin. 

2. That it is convenient so to do. 

[1.] To answer God's love and condescension to us in the covenant. 
God thinks he can never be bound fast enough to us, and therefore 
interposeth by an oath. An oath is properly conversant about a 
doubtful matter, of which there is some question or scruple, which 
cannot otherwise be decided ; then the law saith, he should give his 
oath to his neighbour. Why then doth the Lord swear ? Is there 
any doubtfulness in his promises ? No ; the apostle saith, Heb. vi. 18, 
the Lord swears, being willing over and above to give ' the heirs of 
promise ' ample satisfaction. Now for God, that cannot lie, and whose 
word is above all assurance, to stoop to us, and put himself to an oath, 
certainly this should work upon our hearts, and draw from us some 
answerable return on our part, there being great and visible danger of 
our breaking with God, none of God's breaking with us ; therefore, 
that we may not play fast and loose with him, we should come under 
this engagement to him of vow and public promise to God. 

[2.] To testify our affection to his service, we should put ourselves 
under the most high and sacred bonds that can be found out. 
Many have some slight and wandering motions towards God, and cold 
purposes of serving him, which soon vanish, and come to nothing ; but 
now it argueth the heart is more thoroughly bent and set towards God, 
and that we have a deep sense of our duty, when we seriously confirm 
our purpose by a vow and holy oath. There are divers sorts of men 
in the world, some that are of that spirit as to break all bonds, cast 
away all cords, and think they can never be loose enough in point of 
religion, Ps. ii. 3. They seek to deface and blot out of their conscience 
the natural sense which they have of religion and of their duty to God, 
and so give up themselves headlong to all manner of impiety. There 
are others have some cold approbation of the way of God, and which 
manifests itself by some faint, weak, and wavering purposes, and slight 
attempts upon religion, but are soon discouraged, and never come to a 
fixed resolution, or serious dedication or surrender of themselves to 
the Lord's use. Now, a gracious heart thinks it can never be bound 
fast enough to God, therefore doth not only approve the ways of God, 
or desire to walk therein, but issues forth a purpose, a practical decree 
m his soul. Besides the approbation of conscience, there is a desire 
of heart, _and this desire backed with a purpose, and this promise 
backed with an oath, which is the highest way of obligation ; and 
thus doth he dedicate himself to the Lord and his service, in the 
strictest way of expressing his consent, for an oath binds more than a 

3. It is very profitable so to do, because of our backwardness, lazi 
ness, and fickleness. 

[1.] Because of our backwardness ; we need to thrust forth the heart 
into the ways of obedience, for we hang off from God. Though we are 
his by every kind of right and title, yet we are very slow of heart to do 
his will, and therefore an oath is profitable to increase the sense of our 

VER. 106.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 83 

duty ; a threefold cord is not easily br6ken. Now there is a triple tie 
and bond upon a man. 

(1.) There is God's natural right that he hath over us and to our 
service, the sovereignty and dominion that he hath over us. We are 
not free as to obedience before the oath, but are bound by creation ; 
for God hath created us, not only as he created other things, ultimately 
and terminatively, but immediately, for his service. All things were 
created for his glory, so that ultimately they are for his use ; but 
the proper end and use wherefore man was created was for the imme 
diate service of God. He that planteth a vine expecteth fruit from it. 
By continual preservation ; he giveth us maintenance, and therefore 
justly expecteth service. By redemption, as having bought us with a 
dear price, 1 Cor. vi. 20. From all which there resulteth a natural 
duty which we owe to him as our sovereign, and he may command us 
what he will. 

(2.) There is the bond of voluntary consent, that our duty may be 
more active and urging upon our hearts. God doth not only inter 
pose his own authority and command us to keep his laws diligently, 
Ps. cxix. 4, but requires a consent on the creature's part. All the 
treaties and tenders of grace are made to draw us to this consent, that 
we may voluntarily and by the inclination of our own hearts present our 
selves before the Lord, and yield up ourselves to his service, Rom. vi. 13. 
(3.) Besides this there is the bond of an oath, which is the strictest 
way of voluntary resolution and highest engagement that a man can 
make ; therefore when the heart is so backward, and hangs off from 
God and duties we owe to him, it is good to declare our assent in the 
most solemn way. That the saints have made use of purposes thus 
solemnly declared in case of backwardness appears in scripture. David, 
when his heart was shy of God's presence, and had sinned away his 
liberty and peace, and so could not endure to come to God, what course 
doth he take? He issues forth a practical decree in his soul, and 
binds his heart by a fixed purpose that he would come to God, Ps. 
xxxii. 5. So Acts xi. 23 ; he exhorteth them with full purpose of 
heart to draw nigh to God ; it should be the fixed resolution of the 
soul. And Jer. xxx. 21, 'Who is this that engaged his heart to 
approach unto me ? saith the Lord.' We should lay the strongest 
bonds and engagements we possibly can, whereby God's authority may 
be backed, and his right confirmed, by the most solemn assent that we 
can make. 

[2.] In regard of our fickleness and inconstancy ; we are slippery, 
off and on with God : ' A double-minded man is unstable in all his 
ways/ James i. 8. We have unsettled hearts, and when we meet with 
temptations from without we shall soon give up at the first assault, and 
so be now for God, anon for Satan ; therefore this is a lawful and sanc 
tified means to help us to constancy. Indeed, before we come to this 
fixed settled purpose we lie open to temptation ; and when our first 
heats are spent we tire and wax weary in the Lord's service, therefore 
we. had need make the most sacred engagements to God, that we may 
keep to God and persist in our duty. Now a solemn oath seems to 
be the most serviceable for this use. Why ? For it implies a severe 
and dreadful imprecation. In an oath God is not only invoked as a 


witness but as a judge. We appeal to his omnisciency for the sincerity 
of our hearts in making promise, and to his vindictive power as a 
iudge if we shall act contrary to what we have sworn. Saith Plutarch, 
JBvery oath implies a curse, or a desire of vengeance, in case of the 
breach of that oath ; therefore it is said, Neh. x. 29, ' They entered 
into a curse to walk in God's law ;' that is, a curse in case of dis 
obedience. And this was supposed to be the meaning of that rite by 
which they were wont to confirm their covenants. Jer. xxxiv. 18, 
when the "calf was cut in twain they did as it were devote them 
selves thus to be cut in twain and torn in pieces, and to be destroyed 
as that creature was, if they violated the covenant thus solemnly sworn ; 
and though this imprecation or execration should not be expressed, 
yet every promissory oath necessarily implies a curse in case of unfaith 
fulness. Well, now, this is a good means to keep us constant when 
we have bound ourselves to God upon such strict terms; therefore 
some derive op/co? from etjoya), to hedge, because it is as a hedge to 
keep us within the compass of our duty, and confirm our hearts in that 
which is good. Well, then, because of our fickleness it is not enough 
to leave the soul to the mere bonds of duty, but confirm our resolu 
tion by an oath. I may illustrate this by that passage, when Hooper 
the blessed martyr was at the -stake, and the officers came to fasten 
him to it, saith he, Let me alone ; God that hath called me hither, he 
will keep me from stirring ; and yet, because I am but flesh and blood, 
I am willing ; tie me fast, lest I stir. So we may say in this case, 
though the authority of God commanding his right in us and sove 
reignty over us is reason enough to enforce the duty we owe to him, 
and bind the heart and sway the conscience, yet because of the weak 
ness of our hearts we should make this bond the more urging upon us 
by a solemn consent, thus ratified and confirmed by the solemnity of 
an oath, vow, or promise made to God. 

[3.] It will be very profitable because of our laziness ; by resolution we 
are quickened to more seriousness and diligence. When a man hath 
the bond of an oath upon him, then he will make a business of religion, 
whereas otherwise he will make but a sport and a thing he only 
regards by the by. Oh ! but when his heart is fixed this is the thing 
he will look after, Ps. xxvii. 4. When our heart is set upon a thing 
we follow it close ; and when- it is so set upon a thing as that we have 
bound ourselves by the strictest bonds we can lay upon our heart, it 
will engage us more seriously. 

Doct. 2. That this help of an oath or holy vow should be used in a 
matter lawful, weighty, necessary. 

1. In a matter lawful. There is a vow and covenanting in that 
which is evil ; as those that ' bound themselves with a curse that they 
would not eat nor drink until they had killed Paul/ Acts xxiii. 12. 
And many will make^ a vow and promise with themselves that they 
will never forgive their neighbour such an offence. Arid we read of a 
covenant made with death and hell : whether it be meant of the king 
of Babylon or no, as he is called death and hell by the prophet, some 
evil covenant is intended thereby ; and thus a vow is made the bond 
of iniquity, and must be broken rather than kept, or indeed it must 
not be made. To vow that which is sinful, this is like the hire of a 


whore, or the price of a dog offered to the Lord for a vow, Deut. 
xxiii. 18. 

2. It must be in a matter weighty, necessary, and acceptable unto 
God. There are two things come under our vow and oath : 

[1.] That which is our necessary work, religious obedience to God 
in the way of his commandment ; for this is not a rash and unneces 
sary vow, but that we were sworn to in baptism ; this is that which 
David promiseth here, ' I have sworn, and I will perform it, to keep 
thy righteous judgments.' And this is the vow which Jacob made, 
though there was something of a particularity he adds to it, Gen. 
xxviii. 20, 21 ; but the substance of it was this, ' If the Lord will be 
with me, and keep me in this way that I go, then shall the Lord be 
my God/ There are many that will vow and promise trifles, and so 
infringe their own Christian liberty, and needlessly bind themselves 
in chains of their own making, where God hath left them free. This 
help is for the weighty things of Christianity, not for by-matters. 
Those monkish by-laws have filled the world with superstition, not with 
religion, while they have been only conversant about some indifferent 
things, as pilgrimages, abstinences from meats and marriages, wherein 
they place the height of Christian perfection. 

[2.] Helps to obedience. Such things as we shall find to be helps, 
and do conduce to the removal of impediments, such should come under 
a vow and solemn promise to God: Job xxxi. 1, ' I made a covenant 
with my eyes ; ' that was a help to the preserving of his chastity, thai 
he would not allow himself to gaze, to take a view of the beauty of 
others. And the apostle, when it was for the glory of God, makes a 
vow or kind of solemn promise that he would take no maintenance im 
Achaia, 2 Cor. xi, 10 ; he solemnly binds himself, that he might not 
hinder the progress of the gospel. So when we find our heart ready 
to betray us by this or that evil occasion, we may in this case inter 
pose a vow and promise, but then with this caution, that we do not 
unreasonably destroy our Christian liberty, and so occasion a snare to 
our souls, and that we do not think this to be a perfect cure of these 
distempers, while we neglect the main things ; as many will make a 
vow to play no more at such a game, or drink no more at such a 
house, or use such a creature, or come into such a particular company, 
and so place all their religion in these things ; this is but like cutting 
off the branches when the root remains, or stopping one hole in a 
leaky or ruinous ship and vessel, when everywhere it is ready to let in 
water upon us, and to be broken in pieces. Therefore when you rest 
in those by-matters, without resolving to cleave to God in a course of 
obedience, it but like mending a hole in the wall of a house when the 
whole building is on fire, or troubling ourselves with a sore finger 
when we are languishing of a consumption ; it is but stopping this 
or that particular sin when the whole soul lies under the power and 
slavery of the kingdom of Satan. 

Object. But here is a doubt may arise, How can I promise to keep 
God's law, since it is not in my power to do it exactly? it is impossible. 

Ans. I. When David saith, ' I have sworn,' &c., he speaks not 
from a presumption of his own strength, but only declareth the sense 
of his duty, and useth his oath as a sanctified means to bind his heart 


to God ; and therefore it is not to exclude the power of God's grace, 
or to presume of his own strength : God's assistance is best expected in 
God's way. 

2. Such vows and promises they are always to be interpreted to be 
made in the sense of the covenant of grace, for no particular voluntary 
or accessory covenant of ours can take away the general covenant 
wherein we stand engaged to God, but rather it must be included in it. 
Therefore when David saith, ' I will keep thy righteous judgments/ 
he means according to the sense of the covenant of grace, that is, ex 
pecting help for duties and pardon for failings. 

[1.] As expecting help from God, for so the new covenant gives 
strength to observe what it requires. Lex jubet, evangelium juvat 
the law enforceth duty, the covenant of grace helps us to perform the 
duty required of us. The gospel it is a ' ministration of the Spirit/ 
2 Cor. iii. 8, and therefore promissory oaths, according to the sense 
of the new covenant, are made with a confidence upon the Lord's 
strength and assistance. 

[2.] Seeking pardon for his failings. Infirmities may stand with 
the covenant of grace, provided we crave mercy and recover ourselves 
by repentance, and so make no final breach with God ; therefore this 
is a keeping according to the measure of grace received, and as human 
frailty will permit. 

Briefly, then, when are sins to be looked upon as infirmities, and 
not as perjuries and breach of covenant ? 

Ans. When we would not voluntarily yield to the least sin ; but in 
case of great sin, we grow more watchful, more humble, more holy ; 
when our falls are such as David's when he had fallen foully : Ps. 
Ivi. 6, ' Now thou shalt make me to know wisdom/ When upon our 
failings we are more ashamed of ourselves, more afraid of our weak 
ness, more earnest to renew our former resolutions, more careful to 
wait upon God for grace to perform what he hath required of us, 
more watchful, more circumspect ; when we begin to grow wise by 
our own smarting, in such cases an oath is not broken. Look, as- 
every failing of the wife doth not dissolve the marriage covenant, so 
every failing on our part doth not dissolve the covenant between God 
and us ; and therefore, though there will be some infirmities, but yet 
when we are careful to sue out our pardon in the name of Christ 
Jesus, and you shall by your failings be more watchful, circumspect, 
then we keep the covenant in a gospel sense. 

Doct. 3. That when we have sworn obedience to God, we must 
religiously perform and observe what we have sworn to God. 

So Ps. Ixxvi. 11, 'Vow and pay unto the Lord.' When we come 
under the bond of a vow, we must be careful to make payment ; it is 
a binding upon the heart. See how it is expressed, Num. xxx. 2, ' If 
a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul 
with a bond, he shall not break his word.' When we have bound 
ourselves with a bond, that is, when we have increased our bonds (for 
the ingeminating words in the Hebrew doth exceedingly increase the 
sense). When a man is bound upon a bond he should not play fast 
and loose with God, but be very careful to perform what he hath 
sworn. God, on his part, hath sworn to the covenant, and he is con- 

VEK. 106.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 87 

stant in all his promises, and he certainly expects the like constancy 
from us, especially when we are so deeply bound, not only by his laws and 
obligation of his mercies, but by the solemn consent of our own vows. 
We have bound ourselves, then, to keep them, whether we will or no. 
Now, what reasons are there why we must perform ? 

1. The same motives that inclined us at first to take our oath should 
persuade us to keep it whatever falls out. After trial we shall see no 
cause to repent of our resolution, for God is ever the same that he 
was, and his commands are ever the same in all his righteous 
judgments, holy, just, good, profitable to the creature. Christians ! 
if we meet with any change in our outward condition, any new im 
pediments, oppositions, and discouragements that we were not aware 
of when we first entered into our oath, it was our rashness, for we 
should sit down and count the charges, we should allow for it. The 
first article of the new covenant was that we should deny ourselves, 
Mat. xvi. 24 ; and after vows we should not make inquiry, but before, 
Prov. xx. 25. When we are bound we must take our lot and hazard, 
and whatever comes we must perform them to God. 

2. Because our oath is a further aggravation of our sin, therefore 
better never swear than not to keep it : Eccles. v. 5, ' Better it is that 
thou shouldest not vow, than vow and not pay.' God is mocked by 
an oath and a covenant when it is not observed. A man that refuseth 
to be listed doth not meet with the like punishment as he that runs 
from his colours; so he that never came under the oath of God, 
doth not sin so much as he that hath sworn to his covenant. That 
which is but simple fornication in the Gentiles, in Christians it is 
adultery, breach of vow. Indeed, in things that are absolutely and in 
dispensably necessary to salvation, we are bound to consent. Ay ! 
but when a consent thus solemnly made is broken, it aggravates the 
sin ; but when we shall be like the man in the Gospel that was 
possessed with the devil, whom no chains could hold fast, when 
neither the bond of duty, nor the bonds of our own oaths and engage 
ments will hold us, but we break all cords, the greater is our rebellion 
and disobedience to God. 

3. Therefore must we perform the obedience that we have sworn to 
God, because God hath ever been a severe and just avenger of breach 
of covenants. By way of argument, a minori ad majus, those made 
with man ; and therefore certainly he will avenge his covenant so 
solemnly made with himself, and everywhere in scripture you will find 
it is propounded as a sure mark of vengeance. When one man hath 
sworn to another, and hath called upon the most high God to con 
firm that covenant that he makes with him, if there be a failure, a 
trespass, though it be in point of omission, God hath avenged that 
covenant. An instance for this you have Amos i. 9, ' For three trans 
gressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment 
thereof ; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and 
remembered not the brotherly covenant.' Tyrus and Judah they 
were in covenant one with another, a mutual league offensive and de 
fensive that were solemnly sworn. Now though God had many 
causes of his vengeance, and many quarrels with Tyrus because of 
their idolatries, but chiefly because of breach of covenant, they forgat 


the friendship that was between the children of Israel and Judah, and 
did not assist the people of Judah as they should, and were bound to 
do, but suffered them to be led into captivity, and spoiled by the 
Edomites and other nations. So for a sin of commission ; it is spoken 
of as a mark of sore vengeance : Ps. Iv. 20, 'He hath put forth his hand 
against such as be at peace with him; he hath broken his covenant/ 
In those federal transactions and oaths that pass between man and man, 
God takes himself to be specially interested, and will see that the 
breach of them be severely punished. The next step is, not only 
between equals, but when a covenant hath been made with servants 
and poor underlings, and would not set them free at the year of jubilee, 
see how severely God threatens them, Jer. .xxxiv. 16-18, for the 
breach of it ; nay a covenant made with enemies, Ezek. xvii. 18, 19. 
Nay, carry it one gradation higher, though the covenant were extorted 
by fraud, as the covenant made with the Gibeonites, Josh. ix. ID, 
20. They were part of the Canaanites, and God severely enjoined 
the Israelites that they should cut off all those nations ; yet when 
they craftily got them into covenant, when this people were wronged 
by Saul, the Lord takes notice of it, 2 Sam. xxi. 1-3. See how God 
judgeth for them ; there were three years' famine and pestilence, 
which was not appeased until Saul's sons were hanged before the sun. 
Now the Lord hath ever been such a severe avenger of an oath 
between man and man, between his people and their servants, between 
his people and their enemies, and when extorted from them, certainly 
in such a solemn covenant as he hath made between us and himself, 
and that in things absolutely necessary, in things enjoined before the 
covenant was made, it is not safe to break with God. Ananias, 
when he vowed a, thing to the Lord, though he was free before, God 
strikes him dead. It is not free with us, whether we will obey, yea 
or nay, what is enjoined upon us ; therefore when we will break with 
God, what shall we expect but that he should avenge the quarrel of 
his covenant ? 


/ have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep tliy righteous 
judgments. VER. 106. 

DOCT. 4. I now come to the fourth point, that our oath of obedience to 
God should be often revived and renewed upon us. 

David recognises and takes notice of the oath wherein he was bound 
to God, and here he renews it again, ' I will perform it.' It should 
be so : 

1. Because we are apt to forget, and not have such a lively sense of 
a thing long since done, so that we either break the oath, or perform 
our duty very negligently. Our old baptismal covenant we are apt to 
forget it, especially by being under the bond of it in innocency, and 
dedicated to God by the act of another, viz., our parents. The apostle 
instanceth in those that were baptized in grown years, 2 Peter i. 9 ; 

YER. 106.] (SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 89 

he intimates they were apt to ' forget they were purged from their old 
sins/ I suppose it relates to baptism in that clause, forgotten his 
baptismal vow and obligation of renouncing his sin, and giving himself 
to the service of the Lord ; and therefore there should be a purpose to 
revive it upon our heart, and the obligation should ever and anon be 
made new and fresh to quicken us to our duty. 

2. This forgetfulness it will cost us dear, it will be an occasion of 
many and great troubles. Jacob had forgotten his vows of building 
an altar at Bethel ; God quickens him to his duty by sharp affliction : 
Gen. xxxv. 1, ' Arise, go up to Bethel/ &c. God was fain to quicken 
him with a scourge. Samson, when his vow was broken, how many 
dangers is he thrown into ? taken, and bound, and made a sport of 
by the Philistines. God will rub up the memories of his servants 
by some sharp and severe dispensations of his providence, when they 
are not sensible of their vow arid faith plighted to God. Never forget 
your obligation to God : Deut. iv. 23, * Take heed to yourselves, lest 
ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God/ 

Quest. But when should we renew our covenant, or our oath of 
allegiance to God ? 

1. Partly when we stand in need of some special favour from God, 
or when we draw nigh to him in some special duty ; as Jacob, when 
God manifested himself to him, and he had communion with him at 
Bethel, then he vowed a vow, Gen. xxviii. 21. So Num. xxi. 2, Israel 
vowed a vow to the Lord when they were in some distress ; and Ps. 
Ixvi. 14, ' I will pay the vows of my distress, which I made when I was 
in trouble/ 

2. Again, after some special mercy, when under some love pang of 
spiritual rejoicing, and we have a deep sense of God's love to us, or a 
new pledge of his love to us either in spiritual or temporal benefits, 
and our soul melted out towards God in acts of spiritual rejoicing : Ps. 
cxvi. 8, 9, ' For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes 
from tears, and my feet from falling : I will walk before the Lord in 
the land of the living/ And when God breaks the force and power of 
enemies, when he makes the wrath of man turn to his praise, then Ps. 
Ixxvi. 11, 'Vow and pay unto the Lord your God/ Those pagan 
mariners they made their vows to God when the Lord delivered them 
from the storm, Jonah i. 16. 

3. When all things go to ruin, when the state of religion is collapsed, 
either in a nation or in our hearts, after some notable breaches of cove 
nant by a people, or by a person, and we have warped from God, seem 
to have wrested ourselves out of his arms, then to bind ourselves to him 
again, and to renew our vows ; for upon this occasion doth Josiah enter 
into covenant with God, and ' cause the people to stand to the oath/ 
2 Chron. xxxiv. 

4. When we are to draw nigh to God in the use of the seals of the 
new covenant, when a man is to revive his own right in the covenant 
of grace ; so when we are to draw nigh to God in the Lord's Supper, 
which is the New Testament in Christ's blood, which is the seal of the 
covenant, then we should solemnly bind ourselves to the duty of it, 
and swear to the Lord anew. 

Use. To press you with all earnestness to enter into covenant with 


God, and then to keep it and make it good ; to be sensible of the vow 
of God upon you, and to keep firm in the bond of the holy oath. 

First, To enter into solemn obligation to God, a purpose of holy and 
close walking with God. I shall press you hereunto : 

1. God's laws are holy, just, and good, therefore certainly we should 
not be backward to swear to him ; because we cannot bring ourselves 
seriously to give up ourselves to the Lord, they are righteous judg 
ments. Suppose you could be free, yet subjection to God were to be 
chosen before liberty; therefore, when Christ invites us to take his 
yoke upon ourselves, he doth not so much urge his authority, ' All 
things are given to me of my Father,' therefore come to me ; but he 
urgeth the sweetness of obedience, and the pleasure we may find in 
coming to him: Mat. xi. 29, 'My yoke is easy, and my burden is 
light.' If a man were free to choose whether he would be for God or 
no, yet the perfection or well-being of the reasonable nature being so 
much concerned in obedience to God, you should choose those laws 
before liberty. What doth the Lord require of you ? To be holy, 
just, temperate, often praying, and praising his name ; and are these 
things hard ? A man is not a man if he do not yield to these things, 
Titus ii. 12. All our duties are comprised in those three adverbs, 
' soberly, righteously, godly.' By being sober, a man delights himself; 
and by being just and righteous, a man delights others : without this, 
the world would be but like a den of thieves ; and by being godly, he 
doth delight God. If we had only leave to love God and serve him, 
much more when we have a command to serve him, to be often in com 
munion with him, it is the happiest life in the world. There is a great 
deal of pleasure, sweetness, and rational contentment doth accompany 
the exercise of these three graces, sobriety, righteousness, godliness. 

2. We are already obliged by God's command, so that whether you 
resolve or no, you are bound. There are some things that are left free 
in our own power before the vow passeth upon us ; as, Acts v. 4, ' Was 
it not in thy power ? ' Ay ! but there are other things that are not in 
our power. God's right over the creature is valid, whether he consent 
to it or no ; as the natural relation doth infer and enforce duty without 
consent. This is the difference between voluntary and natural rela 
tions. Look, as a father is a father, whether the child own him or no 
in that quality and relation, and without his consent ; a father as a 
father hath a right to command the child. But there are duties that 
depend upon our consent, as in the choice of a husband or master. So 
here is a natural relation between God and us, he our creator, we his 
creatures, he our superior, and we his inferiors, by reason of his autho 
rity and eternal right; and God may urge this, ' I am the Lord/ though 
he do^not urge that, ' I am the Lord thy God.' Sometimes, ' I am the 
Lord/ Lev. xviii. 5, his own sovereignty ; sometimes, ' The Lord thy 
God/ ver. 2 ; which argues our choice and consent to choose him for 
our God ; therefore thou art not free. 

3. Actual consent and resolution on our part is required, that the 
sense of our duty may be more explicit upon our heart : 2 Chron. xxx. 
8, 'Yield yourselves to the Lord.' In the original, Give the Lord the 
hand ; that is, strike hands with him, enter into covenant with him, 
say, Lord, I will be for thee, and thou for me ; choose him for your 

VEE. 106.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 91 

portion, and give up yourselves to be the Lord's people : Kom. xii. 1, 
' Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, 
which is your reasonable service.' He alludes to the eucharistical 
sacrifices. All our offerings must not be sin-offerings, but thank-offer 
ings ; so present yourselves. Under the law, a man he brought his 
thank-offering, and laid his hand upon it, ' Lord, I am thine/ It was 
implied in your baptism, and it is but reason that you should own your 
baptismal vow when you come to years of discretion. A bargain 
that is made for an heir during his nonage, it is confirmed by him 
when he comes to age. You were dedicated to God's service when you 
were young, and knew not what you did ; now when you come to choose 
your own way, and at years of discretion, you should stand to what was 
done in your name to God; therefore there must be a serious and 
solemn consent of your heart. 

4. It is for your profit to choose the strictest engagements ; not only 
to approve the ways of God, but purpose ; not only purpose, but put it 
into a promise or declared resolution ; and not only resolve, but bind 
this resolution by an oath. Why ? For you have more reason to 
expect God's assistance this way than any other, because this is the 
appointed means practised by all the people of God when they expected 
the grace of the covenant. Surely God's blessing is best expected in 
his own way, and the greatest engagement to God the more apt to hold 
us to our duty than a looser engagement. 

5. Consider the necessity as well as the profit. 

[1.] Laziness is the cause of our backwardness and hanging off from 
God. We are loath to come to God, are off and on, hang between 
heaven and hell ; we have many loose and wavering thoughts, until we 
come to a firm purpose and determination; but that engageth the 
heart Jer. xxx. 21, ' Who is this that engageth his heart to draw nigh 
to me ? ' when you lay a command upon yourselves. We are weak 
and wavering in our purposes and wishes, but it puts an end to this 
when we come once to a full and firm purpose : Acts xi. 23, ' He 
exhorted them all, that, with purpose of heart, they would cleave unto 
the Lord.' Austin, in his Confessions, tells us how he would dally 
with God, and how long he struck l in the new birth, until he was re 
solved, until he bound himself firmly to shake off all his carnal courses, 
and mind the business of religion. 

[2.] Because of our fickleness, and the strength of temptations that 
will draw us off from God. He that is not resolved cannot be con 
stant : James i. 8, ' Tfye double-minded man is unstable in all his 
ways/ Christians ! when an unconstant and rebelling heart meets 
with temptation without, all our wishes and cold purposes will come 
to nothing, but we shall give out at the first assault, and be unstable 
in all our ways ; but when we are firmly and habitually resolved, then 
Satan is discouraged. While we are thinking and deliberating what 
we shall do, the devil hath some hope of us, we lie open to temptation; 
but when he seeth the bent of the heart is fixed and settled, and we 
have firmly bound ourselves to God, his hopes are gone. He that is 
in a wavering condition is easily overborne when temptation comes, 
but a fixed man is safe. Papers, feathers, and things that lie loose 

1 Qu. ' stuck ' ? ED. 


upon the ground, are tossed up and down by every blast and puff of 
wind, but those things that are fastened to the ground, though the 
wind blows never so strongly, they remain. Many set out towards the 
ways of salvation, but are discouraged, and turn back again to a course 
of sin ; but when you solemnly give up yourselves to God, then you 
will not have so many temptations as before. Look, as Naomi was 
ever dissuading Kuth that she should not be a companion with her in 
her sorrows, but go back to her own country ; but when she saw she 
was resolved, and steadfastly minded to- go with her, then she left 
speaking unto her, Ruth i. 18. Of let me take another instance, Acts 
xxi. 14. The disciples were persuading Paul that he should not go to 
Jerusalem, though they did even break his heart, they could not break 
his purpose ; but when they saw that he was so set that he went bound 
in the spirit, then they said, * The will of the Lord be done/ Thus will 
tempters be discouraged from importuning and setting upon us to 
draw us off from God, when once our bent is fixed. By resolution we 
are quickened to more seriousness and diligence, for when once we 
come under the bond of the holy oath, the awe of an oath will still be 
upon us, and quicken us to more diligence and seriousness, to make a 
business of religion, whereas otherwise we make but a recreation and 
sport of it, and but a business by the by : Ps. xxvii. 4, ' One thing 
have I desired of the Lord ; that will I seek after/ When we have 
laid firm bonds upon ourselves, this makes us awe-ful, serious, and reso 
lute in a course of obedience. 

Thus it directeth us to resolve. For the manner of entering : 

1. It must be a resolution of heart rather than of the tongue : Jer. 
xxx. 21, 'Who is this that engageth his heart to seek the Lord?' 
Acts xi. 23, ' He exhorted them, that, with purpose of heart, they 
would cleave unto the Lord/ Resolutions are not determined by the 
tenor of our language so much as by the bent of the heart ; therefore 
empty promises signify nothing, unless they be the result of our very 
souls, and not only of a natural conscience. Deut, v. 29, the people 
did not dissemble certainly when the Lord appeared to them by the 
sound of a trumpet and those mighty earthquakes ; but saith the Lord, 
' Oh, that there were such a heart in them to fear me always ! ' That 
there were a heart, and such a heart ; that is, that this were not merely 
the result of an awakened conscience, but the resolution of a renewed 
heart. So Ps. Ixxviii. 37, ' Their heart was not right with him, neither 
were they steadfast in his covenant.' Surely they did not dissemble in 
their distress, but their heart was not right with him ; that is, it was 
not a sanctified heart, it was only the dictate of an awakened conscience 
for the present. 

2. When you thus engage yourselves to God, let it not be a weak, 
broken, but full resolution; cold wishes are easily overcome by the love 
of the world and a half purpose : Acts xxvi. 28, ' Almost thou peiv 
suadest me to be a Christian/ Carnal men, although they are not 
converted, yet they have a kind of half turn, almost, but not altogether. 
Upon a lively sermon, or in sickness, they have their purposes and 
wishes ; but it is not a full strong bent of heart, and love must be a 
serious bent : 1 Chron. xxii. 19, ' Now set your heart and your soul to 
seek the Lord your God/ 


3. It must not be a wish, but a serious resolution, such as is advised, 
all difficulties well weighed. In a fit and pang of devotion men will 
resolve for God, but it will never hold: Josh. xxiv. 19, 'Ye cannot 
serve the Lord, for he is a holy God; he is a jealous God, he will 
not forgive your transgressions nor your sins ;' and therefore you must 
reckon what it is to serve this holy God ; you must sit down and 
count the charges, what it is likely to cost you, that this dedication of 
yourselves to God may be grounded upon serious consideration. Do 
you know what lust of the flesh you must renounce, what interest of 
yours you must lay at his feet ? 

4. It must be a thorough, absolute, and perfect resolution, whatever 
it cost, as he that sold all for the pearl of price, Mat. xiii. 46. A 
marriage even made may be broken off ; some will take up religion 
by way of essay, to try how they like it, as men go to sea for pleasure, 
but will not launch so far into the deep but that they may be sure 
easily to get to shore again ; but a man for a voyage resolves upon all 
weathers. So, whatever disappointment, here is my business, thus will 
I do; and 'though he should kill me, yet will I trust in him/ Job 
xiii. 15. 

5. It must be a resolution for the present, not for the future ; for 
all resolutions for the future are false : Ps. xxvii. 8, ' When thou saidst, 
Seek ye my face;' like a quick echo, * My heart answered, Thy face, 
Lord, will I seek.' And we must resolve so to engage presently, for 
what we do for hereafter it is but a cheat we put upon ourselves, 
merely to elude the workings of heart, to avoid the present impulse. 

6. It must be a resolution according to the covenant of grace, in a 
sense of our insufficiency and dependence upon Christ, not in a con 
fidence of our own strength. Peter went forth in a confidence of his 
own resolution, and how soon did he miscarry ! Therefore we must 
resolve in the strength of God : Ps. cxix. 8, ' I will keep thy precepts ; 
forsake me not utterly/ If God forsake, all will come to nothing. 
Thus we should solemnly dedicate ourselves to his use and service. 

Secondly, Having entered into such a solemn engagement to be the 
Lord's, keep this covenant and oath made with God. For motives : 

1. From the nature of such a solemn engagement; it hath more in 
it than a single promise. There is in every solemn dedication or 
vowing of ourselves to God an attestation or calling upon God to take 
witness, and there is an imprecation. An attestation, a calling God 
to witness of our serious intentions to perform, and will you call God 
to be witness to a lie ? And an imprecation, a calling upon God to 
punish us if we do the contrary ; therefore, being entered into the 
bond of such a holy oath, how should we tremble to break it ! For 
lie that renews his oath of allegiance to God, he doth as it were dare 
God to do his worst, for you thereby wish some heavy plague to fall 
upon your heads if you do not fulfil the duty of your oath ; that is, 
he that eats and drinks the body and blood of Christ unworthily, he 
is guilty of damnation, guilty of the Lord's blood, because these 
solemn rites do not only confirm the promises, but confirm the 
threatening ; and there is implied not only an invocation of blessing, 
but an imprecation upon ourselves ; that is, if you do not fulfil the 
duty of the covenant, you offer yourselves as it were to God's curse. 


2. Consider the tenderness of God's people in case of any oath or 
solemn promise, though it concerned their duty to man. Josh. ix. 19, 
20, it is spoken of the league with the Gibeonites, 'We have sworn 
unto them by the Lord God of Israel : now therefore we may not 
touch them, lest wrath be upon us, because of the oath which we 
sware unto them/ They looked upon it as horrible impiety to break 
an oath. Now much more doth this hold in our engagements to 
God. Shall we not look upon it as a horrid impiety to break a 
solemn oath so solemnly renewed, and our faith so solemnly plighted ? 
Every sin of ours is made the more heinous because of this oath. 

3. Remember the great quarrel that God hath against the Christian 
world and all the professors of his name is about his covenant and 
oath taken. What is the reason God doth visit Christendom with 
famines, pestilences, inundations, and wars ? Because they do not stand 
to the oath of God that is upon them. Every professor of the name 
of Christ, he is supposed to be in covenant with God : Heb. x. 29, 
'Of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy, who 
hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified 
an unholy thing?' All visible professors of Christianity are under a 
covenant with God, to take God for their God, and to live as his 
people ; now because of their looseness and profaneness, they do not 
stand to their engagement, therefore so many plagues are upon them : 
Lev. xxvi. 25, ' I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the 
quarrel of my covenant ;' that is, because they did not perform the 
duties sworn to him. 


I am afflicted very much : quicken me, Lord, according unto tliy 
ivord. VER. 107. 

HERE we have (1.) A representation of his case and condition, / am 
afflicted ; his condition was calamitous, and here is the degree of it, 
very much. (2.) His prayer, quicken me, Lord, according unto tliy 
word; wherein we have the nature of his request, quicken me, 
Lord ; then the argument, according unto thy luord. 

For the first, 'I am afflicted ;' it may be understood of outward 
pressures, or soul troubles. From thence note 

Doct. God's people are liable to sad and sore afflictions here in the 

He doth not so fondly and delicately bring up his children but that 
he exerciseth them with sharp afflictions. David, a man dear to God, 
much in communion with him, ever and anon you hear him com 
plaining of trouble. It is the church's name, Isa. liv. 11, '0 thou 
afflicted, and tossed with tempest, and not comforted/ God's people 
are sometimes afflicted in the outward, sometimes in the inward man. 
In the outward man, either by enemies, the more because they are 
godly: 2 Tim. iii. 12, 'All they that will live godly in Christ Jesus 
must suffer persecution/ They must not dream of worldly ease, and 

VER. 107.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 95 

think to go to heaven upon a bed of roses, but sometimes their way is 
strewed with thorns, and they have fiery trials : 1 Peter iv. 12, ' Think 
it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though 
some strange thing happened unto you ;' no more than you would to 
see a shower of rain fall, or a cloudy day succeed a fair : we would 
laugh at one that should be troubled to see a shower fall. So some 
times by sickness under God's immediate hand. In the 3d epistle of 
John, the apostle saith of Grams, ' I wish that thou mayest prosper, 
and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.' It seems he had a 
healthful soul in a very sickly crazy body. And Paul's thorn in the 
flesh notes some racking pain, stone or gout, which he alludes to 
thrusting up a stake in the body of slaves. The inward man, that 
hath its affliction too, anguish, sorrow of heart, sometimes by reason 
of God's desertion. Christ Jesus drunk of this cup : Mat. xxvii. 46, 
' My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me ?' And the cup goes 
round ; his people pledge him in this bitter cup, and often complain 
of a withdrawing God, that they cannot find God as they were wont 
formerly. Many times perplexing lusts and prevalency of sore dis 
tempers : ' wretched man/ &c., Rom. vii. 24, so Paul groans ; and 
sometimes from temptations and assaults from Satan : Luke xxii. 31, 
32, ' Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat ; 
but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.' Christ did not 
pray to exempt him from it, but to preserve him in it. 

If you ask why God's children are thus afflicted, I answer It is not 
heaven we now enjoy. 

1. We are not in our eternal rest, therefore here we must be exer 
cised, tried, afflicted. The world is a middle place between heaven and 
hell, therefore hath somewhat of both ; their principles and actions are 
mixed, so their condition is mixed, intermixed with sorrows and joys, 
until they come there where they shall rest from all their labours. So 
it must be. 

2. God doth it to purge out sin : Isa. xxvii. 9, ( By this shall the 
iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit to take away his 
sin.' Gold is cast into the fire. Why ? To have its dross consumed. 
Cora is beaten with the flail. Why ? To be severed from its chaff, 
husks, and straw ; and iron is filed to get off its rust ; so this is the 
fruit of all the taking away sin. Afflictions are a necessary cure for 
sin : John xv. 2, ' Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that 
it may bring forth more fruit.' Look, as in a vine there are certain 
superfluous luxuriant leaves and branches that grow up with the fruit, 
and hindereth the increase of it, which the vine-dresser pares off, not 
to destroy the vine, but to cultivate and manure it, so it is with no ill 
intent ; so corruption grows up with our graces, and hindereth us that 
we cannot bear fruit, when w,e are in a flourishing condition ; there 
fore these need to be purged away. 

3. God doth it to humble us. This was that which God aimed at 
in all his afflictive dispensations towards the people of Israel, Deut. 
viii. 2. God's eminent servants need affliction to humble them. David 
had many things to puff him up, his royal dignity, the gift of pro 
phecy, familiarity with God, great opulency, many victories, pride 
of life, &c. ; and he needed many afflictions to keep him humble, 
Ps. cxxxii. 1. Paul, he was apt to be lifted up with abundance of 


revelations, therefore God humbled him with ' a thorn in the flesh/ 
2 Cor. xii. 7. 

Use 1. If we he out of affliction, let us provide for a time of exer 
cise. David, a saint, is afflicted. God's hosom-friends may feel his 
hand sore upon them. David, a king, is afflicted ; those in the highest 
station have their incident cares and troubles. David, an Old Testa 
ment believer, saith, 'I am afflicted/ I observe this, because God 
then dispensed himself to his people in and by temporal promises, and 
yet even then they had great mixtures of trouble, to show that which 
they had in the world was not all they had to expect from God. The 
promises now in the New Testament, now life and immortality is 
brought to light, they run to us in another strain, not of temporal, 
but spiritual things ; therefore we must expect our portion of sorrow 
before we go to heaven. Be not of such a woman-like nature, and so 
delicately brought up, as never to see evil days ; for aught I see, we 
are entering upon our trial. The strain of our ministry is mainly con 
solatory usually, but there comes a time of expense and laying out, 
.when such comforts are to be laid up in our heart, therefore let us be 

Use 2. If we be for the present under affliction, let us bear it with 
patience, observing how God's ends are accomplished. It is smart and 
grievous now, Heb. xii. 11, but it will be salutary and healthful ; it 
will yield to you righteousness, and that righteousness will yield you 
peace give the peaceable fruit of righteousness. If God will take 
away the fuel of our sin, empty us of our pride, self-conceit, weaken 
the security of the flesh, let us 'be content, only let us take heed that 
the time of mortifying sin be not the time of discovering sin, arid that 
we do not trespass the more. To be sinning and suffering is the case 
of the damned. Take heed you do not sin in your suffering; especially 
take heed of those sins that are proper to affliction. Fainting: 
'If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is but small.' 
Distrust of God's providence : ' I shall one day perish by the hands of 
Saul/ Despair of God's promises : ' I said I am cut off,' &c. Then 
you lose the benefit of God's family discipline when you yield to these 
sins. But see how it drives you out of the way of hell, for affliction is 
a gentle remembrance of hell ; for look, as those whose garments were 
singed, as when they threw the three children into the furnace, their 
own garments were singed by the force of the flame, they knew what it 
was to be thrown into the pit ; so the Lord in effect doth tell you what 
will be in hell ; this is a gentle remembrance, stand farther off, that 
ye may not be condemned with the world, 1 Cor. xi. 32. Arid then, 
how it quickens you to look after heavenly things ; for when the out 
ward man decays, then look to things not seen^2 Cor. iv. 17 ; when 
you are fitted more and more for your change, when you grow more 
humble, mortified, as stories are hewn and squared for the building. 
^ Let us come to the degree, ' I am afflicted very much ; the Septua- 
int renders it, foaarcunUhp eW afoSpa, ' I am afflicted very sore/ 

gint renders it, aarcunUhp eW afoSpa, ' I am afflicted very 

Doct The afflictions of God's people may not only be many, but 
very sore and heavy. 

So David here, and Ps. Ixxi. 20, ' Thou hast showed me great and 
sore troubles/ Why many? 

VER. 107.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 97 

1. Many and strong lusts are to be subdued, and we need great 
afflictions to subdue many and great corruptions. Some stains are not 
easily washed out, but need much rubbing. When pride is deeply 
rooted in the heart, God brings down even to the grave, that a man 
goes up and down like a walking ghost, and like a skeleton or dry bones. 
There is such an one described, Job xxxiii. 17 with 22; and why? 
To bring down pride in his heart ? The physic must be according to 
the distemper ; if the distemper be more rooted, the physic must be 
more strong : Ps. cvii. 11, 12, ' Because they rebelled against the word 
of the Lord, and contemned the counsel of the Most High, therefore 
he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was 
none to help/ When people begin to grow high and stomachful, con 
temptuous against God and his ordinances, then God brings them into 
sore distresses, to break their pride and stoutness of heart. 

2. That God may have the more experience and trial of his people. 
In daily and little afflictions there is no trial of their courage, faith, 
patience, and submission, and all other graces. The trial of faith is in 
extremity. Graces are exercised to the life, when we are even at the 
point of death : 2 Cor. i. 9, ' We had the sentence of death in ourselves, 
that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God, which raiseth the 
dead.' So patience, it is not tried but by sharp affliction ; therefore 
the apostle saith, ' Let patience have its perfect work,' James i. 4. So 
Christian courage and resolution, that is tried in deep affliction, when 
we are 'slain all the day long,' Heb. xi. 35, 36 ; Kom. viii. 37, ' In all 
these things we are more than conquerors.' The strength of a man's 
back is not tried by a small weight, but by a heavy burden, how much 
he can bear ; so the sharper the affliction, the greater the trial. 

3. That they may have the more experience of God, for the sharper 
the affliction the sweeter their comfort, and the more glorious their 
deliverance : Ps. Ixxi. 20, ' Thou which hast showed me great and 
sore troubles, thou shalt quicken me again, and shalt bring me up 
again from the depths of the earth.' God's power in raising them 
up is more seen : 2 Cor. i. 10, ' Who delivered me from so great a 

Use 1. If we be under sore troubles 

1. Let us not faint ; remember it is no more than we have deserved. 
God will not afflict a man above his deserts ; he cannot complain of 
wrong, Ezra ix. 13. It is never more, it may be less ; when our afflic 
tions are great, our deserts are far greater : Isa. xl. 1, ' Comfort ye, 
comfort ye, my people, saith your God.' Why ? ' For she hath 
received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins/ God saith 
double ; he relents presently. 

2. Consider the degree of affliction ; it is not measured out by your 
selves, but measured out by a wise God ; though afflicted very much 
and very sore, the measure it is ordered by God, as well as the kind of 
it. If it were measured out by ourselves, it would be too light, it 
would be too gentle ; the patient must not be trusted in searching his 
own wounds ; and if it were left to our enemies, they would know no 
bounds: Zech. i. 15, 'I was but a little displeased, and they helped 
forward the affliction.' But it is left to the wise, just, and gracious 
God and Father ; he tempers the cup in his own hand ; and therefore 



when the affliction is grown sore and strong, it comes not only from a 
wise God, but a tender Father, that best knows what is good for us. 
Job xxxiv. 23, that is a notable place, ' For he will not lay upon man 
more than right, that he should enter into judgment with God ; ' that 
is, the party afflicted hath no just complaint against God, can take no 
exception against God's proceedings, for he perfectly understands our 
need, and understands our strength. God perfectly understands our 
need : 1 Peter i. 6, * If need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold 
temptations.' And understands our strength: 1 Cor. x. 13, ' Faithful 
is he, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able.' 
Many parents do not correct their children in measure, being ignorant 
of their nature and disposition. Many physicians mistake their 
patients' constitution, therefore the physic may work too strongly and 
too violently for them ; but God understands our need and our strength, 
and so suits all his remedies accordingly. 

Use 2. To reprove those fond complaints that are extorted from us 
in deep and pressing afflictions ; as if 

1. Sometimes, there was never any so afflicted as I am. God's 
people have been sore troubled : Lam. i. 12, ' Is it nothing to you, all 
ye that pass by ? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto 
my sorrow, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me/ Yes, others have 
been afflicted in the same kind and degree, if not worse : 1 Peter v. 9, 
' All these things are accomplished in your brethren that are in the 
world.' You think it is such as the like hath never been known or 
heard of, for every man's own pain seemeth most grievous : Lam. iii. 
1 , * I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.' 
Other prophets foretold them, I see them executed. The best of 
God's people have their measures of hardships ; you are not singular, 
do not stand alone. This is one of Satan's deceits. Satan will suggest 
this to a child of God, that he may question his Father's affection, lose 
the comfort of his adoption, and put yourselves out of the number of 
God's children. Your lot is not harder than the rest of God's children ; 
all that are in the world have the same trials, troubles, pressing evils 
upon their hearts now and then. 

2. Another you find complaining, taxing God of unfaithfulness, as 
if he would break trust, and lay upon you more than you are able to 
bear, and you deceive yourselves ; for if you cannot bear your present 
burden, you would bear none, you do not improve Christ's strength : 
Phil. iv. 13, ' I can do all things through Christ which strengthened 
me.' Christ doth not help us in such a degree, or one trouble, and 
no more, but in all. 

3. Another we find complain, I am cut off; God will be merciful 
arid gracious no more, Ps. Ixxvii. 8, 9, &c. ; he hath forsaken me and 
forgotten me. God's children have been brought thus low, yet have 
been raised, as the church : Ps. cxviii. 18, ' Lord, thou hast chastened 
me sore, yet hast not given me over unto death.' Within a little 
while he will show this was but our infirmity ; this would stop these 
idle complaints by which we give vent to our daily impatience. 

We have seen David's case, but what doth he do ? He goes to God 
about comfort and relief, ' I am afflicted very sore : Lord, quicken 
me, according to thy word.' There observe 

VER. 107.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 99 

1. That he prays, and makes his addresses to God. 

2. For what he prays. 

Doct. First, That he prays. Observe, affliction should put us upon 
prayer and serious address to God. Thus God's people are wont to 
do: Isa. xxvi. 16, 'Lord, in trouble have they visited thee ; they 
poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them.' They that 
have neglected God at other times, will be dealing with him then, and 
this God expects : Hosea v. 15, ' I will go and return to my place, 
till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face ; in their afflic 
tion they will seek me early.' It will be the first thing they will do, 
the greatest thing they will take care of ; as that which we most care 
for, most is thought of in the morning. Nay, it is that which God 
enjoins : Ps. 1. 15, ' Call upon me in the time of trouble.' Some might 
hang off when God's rod is upon their backs, or be discouraged by the 
bitter sense of a trouble ; therefore God doth not only give us leave, 
but commands us to call upon him. This is the special season when 
this duty is performed with life and vigour : ' Is any man afflicted ? 
let him pray/ James v. 13. Let him thus give vent to his trouble, it 
doth mightily ease the heart. An oven stopped up is the hotter within ; 
the more we keep down grief, and do not unburden ourselves, the 
more it presseth upon the heart. Wind imprisoned in the bowels of 
the earth makes a terrible shaking there till it gets vent ; so till our 
sorrow gets a vent it rends and tears the heart. The throne of grace 
was appointed for such a time, Heb. iv. 16 ; when need comes, then 
it is a time to improve our interest, to put promises in suit ; when God 
seems to be an enemy to us, when, to appearance, he executes the 
curse of the old covenant, oh ! then we should work through all dis 
couragements, then we should hold God to his second grant and 
charter, and come to his throne of grace, and keep him there. 

For the reasons : 

1. God is the party with whom we have to do ; whencesoever the 
trouble doth arise, there is his hand and his counsel in it ; therefore 
it is best dealing with him about it, in all afflictions, public or private : 
Amos iii. 6, ' Is there evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it ?' 
Let men but awaken their reason and conscience, who is it that is at 
the upper end of causes, that casts our lot upon such troublesome and 
distracted times ? So in private afflictions, David owned God's hand; 
Shimei had mocked him, but he looks higher ; the Lord hath bid him 
curse. So Job ; he doth not say the Chaldean and Sabean hath taken 
away, but the Lord hath taken, Job i. 21. Afflictions have a higher 
cause than men ordinarily look at ; they do not come out of the dust, 
but come from God. See what inference Eliphaz draws from this 
principle, Job v. 8, ' I would seek unto God, and unto God would I 
commit my cause ; ' that is, I would go and deal with him about it ; 
it was Eliphaz's advice to Job, and it is seasonable to us all. 

2. It is God only that can help us and relieve us, either by giving 
support under the trouble, or removing it from us ; so saith David, 
Ps. Ivii. 2, ' I will cry unto God most high, unto God that performeth 
all things for me.' A believer looks for all things from God ; when 
all things go well with him, God is his best friend ; when all things 
go ill with him, God is his only friend ; he runs to none so often as to 


God. Now upon these principles we go to God ; but for what end ? 
Let us see what we go to God for. 

[1.] That we may know his mind in all his providences. The 
affliction hath some errand and message to us, something to deliver us 
from God ; now we need to ask of God to know his mind : Micah vi. 

9, ' Hear the rod, and who hath appointed it.' We should not only 
be sensible of the smart, but look to the cause ; therefore, if we would 
know the cause, let us go and expostulate with God about it ; as 
Joab, when Absalom set his corn-field on fire ; he sent for him once 
and twice, but he comes not, until he sets his corn'-field on fire, and 
then he comes and expostulates with him, ' Who hath done this ? ' 
2 Sam. xiv. 30, 31. So when we make bold, and will not come to 
God, nor take notice of his messages, God comes and lets out his 
wrath upon our comforts and conveniences ; now let us deal with God 
about it ; wherefore is all this ? 

[2.] That we may have strength to bear it. Alas ! we can bear or 
do little of ourselves, for that doing refers to bearing : Phil iv. 13, ' I 
can do-all things through Christ that strengtheneth me ;' that is, I can 
suffer want, need, hunger, thirst, nakedness, and run through all con 
ditions, ' through Christ that strengtheneth me.' Now you must ask 
it of God : James i. 5, ' If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of God/ 
Jt is wisdom to bear affliction, if he would wisely carry himself under 
the rod ; that he may not discover his folly, he must ask this strength 
arid grace of God. 

[3.] Wisdom to improve our chastisements, that we may have the 
benefit and fruit of them : Isa. xlviii. 17, ' I am the Lord thy God, 
which teacheth thee to profit;' that is, to profit by afflictions, to reap 
the fruit of them. So Job xxxiii. 16, ' He openeth the ears of men, 
and sealeth their instruction/ God, by a powerful work upon the 
heart, impresseth their duty upon them, that they may see wherefore 
it is that he hath afflicted them. 

[4.] We go to God for deliverance and freedom from the trouble : 
Ps. xxxiv. 19, ' Many are the troubles of the righteous, but out of 
them all the Lord will deliver them/ It is God's prerogative to set us 
free. We break prison when we attempt to escape merely by our own 
means ; therefore either we shall have no deliverance, or no kindly one. 
God hath delivered, doth deliver, and we trust will deliver. This must be 
sought out of God ; God helping together with your prayers, 2 Cor. i. 

10, 11. Prayer must fetch it out from God, or it is no kindly deliver 
ance. Well, then, in our affliction, we need to be often with God. 

Quicken me, Lord, according unto tliy word VER. 107. 

USE 1. To reprove the stupidness and carelessness of them that 
neglect God in their troubles : Dan. ix. 13, 'All this evil is come upon 
us, yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God/ A very 
senseless slight spirit, that when they are under the blows of God's 

VER. 107.] SERMONS urox PSALM cxix. 101 

heavy hand, they will not be much in calling upon God ; this is con 
trary to God's injunction, who expects now with earnestness they will 
seek him. God reckons upon it ; he could not hear from them before, 
but now they will pray hard, and will make up their former negli 
gence. When God sends a tempest after you, as on Jonah, yet will 
you keep off from him ? It is contrary to the practice of the saints ; 
in their chastisements, troubles, and afflictions, they are much with 
God, opening their hearts to him. Nay, it is worse than hypocrites, 
for they will have their pangs of devotion at such a time, Job xxvii. 
10, 11. In short, you lose the comfort of your affliction. Seasons of 
affliction are happy seasons if they prove praying seasons ; when they 
bring you nearer to God, it is a sign God is not wholly gone, but hath 
left somewhat behind him, when the heart is drawn into him. This is 
the blessing of every condition, when it brings God nearer to you, and 
you are more acquainted with him than before. 

Use 2. Then it takes off the discouragements of poor disconsolate 
ones, who mis-expound his providence when they think afflictions put 
us from God rather than call us to him. Oh no ! it is not to drive 
you from him, but to draw you to him. Do not think God hath no 
mercy for thee, because he leaves thee to such pressures, wants, and 
crosses. This is the way to acquaint yourselves with God, yea, though 
you have been hitherto strangers to him ; he hath invited you to call 
upon him in time of trouble, he is willing to have you upon any terms. 
A man will say, You come to me in your necessities ; God delights to 
hear from you, and is glad any occasion will bring you into his pre 
sence ; and therefore be much with God. 

Secondly, I observe, when this affliction was sore and pressing, yet 
then he hath a heart to pray, ' I am afflicted very sore, Lord, 
quicken me.' 

Doct. We must not give over prayer, though our afflictions be never 
so great and heavy. Why ? Because 

1. Nothing is too hard for God ; he hath ways of his own to save 
and preserve his people when we are at a loss. This was the glory of 
Abraham's faith, that he accounted God was able to raise up Isaac 
from the dead, Heb. xi. 19. Difficult cases are fit for God to deal in, 
to show his divine power. When means have spent their allowance, 
then is it time to try what God can do : Ps. cxlii. 4, 5, 'I looked on 
my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know 
me : refuge failed me ; no man cared for my soul. I cried unto thee, 
Lord ; I said, Thou art my refuge, and my portion in the land of the 
living.' When all things fail, God faileth not. 

2. We must still pray. Faith must express something above sense, 
or else living by faith and living by sense cannot be distinguished. 
In desperate cases then is the glory of faith seen : Job xiii. 15, ' Though 
he should kill me, yet I will trust in him/ In defiance of all dis 
couragement, we should come and profess our dependence upon God. 

Use. To condemn those that despond, and give over all treaty with 
God, as soon as any difficulty doth arise ; whereas this should sharpen 
prayer, rather than discourage us. This is man's temper, when 
troubles are little and small, then to neglect God ; when great, then 
to distrust God. A little headache will not send us to the physician, 


nor the scratch of a pin to the chirurgeon ; so if our troubles be little, 
they do not move us to seek after God, but we are secure and careless ; 
but when our troubles are smart, sore, and pressing, then we are dis 
couraged, and give over all hopes ; so hard a matter is it to bring man 
to God, to keep an even frame, neither to slight the hand of God, nor 
to faint under it, as we have direction to avoid both extremes, Heb. 
xii. 5, to cherish a due sense of our troubles, with a regular confidence 
in God. 

That he prays you have seen. Now what he prays for. He doth 
not say deliver me, but quicken me. 

Doct. Strength and support under afflictions is a great blessing, to 
be sought from God, and acknowledged as a favour, as well as deliver 

1. You shall see this is promised as a favour : Isa. xl. 31, 'They 
that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength ; ' that is, shall not 
faint nor be weary, but mount up as it were with wings as eagles ; they 
shall have a new supply of grace, enabling them to bear and hold out 
till the deliverance cometh. They that wait upon the Lord do not 
always see the end of their troubles, but are quickened, comforted, 
and strengthened in them ; they shall renew their strength. 

2. This is accepted by the saints with thanksgiving, and valued by 
them as a special answer of prayer ; they value it more than temporal 
deliverance itself many times ; as 2 Cor. xii. 9, 10, Paul prays for 
the removal of the thorn in the flesh thrice, when God only gives him 
this answer, ' My grace is sufficient for thee ; ' saith Paul then, ' I will 
rejoice in mine infirmities,' so I might have strength and support in 
grievous weaknesses, reproaches, and afflictions, whatever they be. So 
Ps. cxxxviii. 3, ' In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me, and 
strengthenedst me with strength in my soul/ That is noted as a 
special answer of prayer. How did he hear him ? With strength in 
my soul. Though he did not give him deliverance, he gave him -sup 
port, so that was acknowledged as a very great mercy. 

3. There are many cases wherein we cannot expect temporal de 
liverance, then we must only go for quickening and support ; when by 
a lingering disease we are drawing down to the chambers of death , 
and our outward strength is clean spent and gone, then have we sup 
port; that is a great mercy: Ps. Ixxiii. 26, when strength fail and 
heart fail, 'God is the strength of my heart, and portion for ever;' 
that is, to have his heart quickened by God in the languishing of a 
mortal disease. So 2 Cor. iv. 16, ' Though our outward man perish, 
yet our inward man is renewed day by day.' There are many troubles 
that cannot be avoided, and therefore we are then to be earnest with 
God for spiritual strength. 

Use. Well, then, you see upon what occasion we should go for grace 
rather than for temporal deliverance. We should pray from the new 
nature; not deliver me, but quicken me; and if the Lord should 
suspend deliverance, why, that will be our strength in time of trouble: 
Ps. xxxvii. 39, ' The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord ; he is 
their strength in the time of trouble.' 

But more particularly, let us take notice of this request : ' Quicken 
me,' saith he. 

VER. 107.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 103 

Doct. Quickening grace must be asked of God. 

1. What is quickening ? 

2. Why asked of God ? 

First, What is this quickening ? Quickening in scripture is put for 
two things : 

1. For regeneration, or the first infusion of the life of grace ; as 
Eph. ii. 5, ' And you that were dead in trespasses and sins hath he 
quickened ;' that is, infused life, or making to live a new life. 

2. It is put for the renewed excitations of God's grace, God's 
breathing upon his own work. God, that begins life in our souls, 
carries on this life, and actuates it. Now this kind of quickening is 
twofold spoken of in this psalm ; there is quickening in duties, and 
quickening in afflictions. Quickening in duties, that is opposite to 
deadness of spirit ; quickening in affliction, that is opposite to faintness. 

[1.] Quickening in duties, that is opposite to that deadness of spirit 
which creeps upon us now and then, and is occasioned either by our 
negligence or by our carnal liberty, that deadness of spirit that doth 
hinder the activity of grace. 

(1.) By out negligence and slothfulness in the spiritual life, when 
we do not stir up ourselves : Isa. Ixiv. 7, ' There is none that stirreth 
up himself to take hold on thee ;' when men grow careless and neg 
lectful in their souls. An instrument, though never so well in tune, 
yet if hung up and laid by, soon grows out of order ; so when our 
hearts are neglected, when they are not under a constant exercise of 
grace, a deadness creeps upon us. Wells are sweeter for the draining. 
Our graces they are more fresh and lively the more they are kept 
a-work, otherwise they lose their vitality. A key rusts that is seldom 
turned in the lock, and therefore negligence is a cause of this dead- 
ness : 2 Tim. i. 6, ' Stir up the gift that is in thee.' We must blow 
up the ashes. There needs blowing if we would keep in the fire ; we 
grow dead and lukewarm, and cold in the spiritual life, for want of 

(2.) This deadness is occasioned by carnal liberty : Ps. cxix. 37, 
' Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, and quicken thou me in 
thy way/ When we have been too busy about the vanities of the 
world, or pleasures of the flesh, when we have given contentment to 
the flesh, and been intermeddling with worldly cares and delights, it 
brings a brawn and deadness upon the heart : Luke xxi. 34, ' Take 
heed that your hearts be not overcharged with surfeiting and drunken 
ness, and the cares of this world,' &c. I say, by this the soul is dis 
tempered, and rendered inapt for God. Christians ! this is a disease 
very incident to the saints, this deadness that creeps upon them. We 
have not such lively stirrings, nor a like influence of grace ; we have 
not those earnest and lively motions we were wont to have in prayer. 
Now God he quickeneth us. How ? By exciting the operative 
graces, as faith, love, hope, and fear, when these are kept pregnant 
and lively, as we read of ' lively hope/ 1 Peter i. 3. There is living 
faith and lively faith, and living fear and lively fear of God, and living 
hope and lively hope. All graces God makes them lively and viva 
cious, that they may put forth their -operations the more readily. 
Well, this is quickening in duties. 


[2.] There is quickening in afflictions, and so it is opposed to 
fainting, that fainting which is occasioned by too deep a sense of 
present troubles, or by unbelief, or distrust of God and his promises, 
and the supplies of his grace. Oh ! when troubles press upon us very 
sore, our hearts are like a bird, dead in the nest, overcome, so that we 
have no spirit, life, nor aptness for God's service : ' My soul droopeth 
for very heaviness ;' we have lost our life and our courage for God. 

Well, how doth God quicken us ? By reviving our suffering graces, 
as our hope of eternal life and eternal glory, patience and faith, and 
so puts life into us again, that we may go on cheerfully in our service. 
By infusion of new comforts. He revives the spirit of his contrite 
ones ; so the prophet saith, Isa. Ivii. 15. He doth revive our spirits 
again when they are dead and sunk under our troubles. Oh ! it is very 
necessary for this : Ps. Ixxx. 18, ' Quicken us, and we will call upon 
thy name.' Discomfort and discouragement they weaken our hands ; 
until the Lord cheers us again we have no life in prayer. By two 
things especially doth God quicken us in affliction by reviving the 
sense of his love, and by reviving the hopes of glory. By reviving 
the sense of his love : Kom. v. 5, ' The love of God is shed abroad,' 
like a fragrant ointment that doth revive us, when we are even ready 
o give up the ghost ; Ps. Ixxxv. 6, ' Wilt thou not revive us again, 
that thy people may rejoice in thee?' I say, when he restores the 
:sense of his love after great and pressing sorrow, then he is said to 
quicken. So when he doth renew upon us the hopes of glory : Kom. 
v. 2, 3, * We rejoice in hope of the glory of God/ Well, you see 
what this quickening is. 

Secondly, This quickening must be asked of God. 

1. Because it is his prerogative to govern the heart of man, especially 
-to quicken us. God will be owned as the fountain of all life: 1 Tim. vi. 
13, * I charge thee in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things.' 
It is God that quickeneth all things. All the life that is in the 
creature, all the life that is in new creatures, it comes from God ; it is 
he that giveth us life at first, and he must keep in this life in the soul, 
and restore it. The meanest worm, all the life it hath, it hath from 
God. When John would prove the Godhead of Christ, he brings this 
argument, John i. 4, ' In him is life/ There is not a gnat but receives 
this benefit from Christ as God. He hath the life of all things, and 
this life is the light of men ; much more the noble creature man hath 
this^life from God ; much more the new creature ; greater operation of 
spiritual life, more depends upon his influence ; and therefore, if we 
would be quickened, and carried out with any life and strength, we 
must go to God for it. 

2. God as our judge, he must be treated with about it, for he smites 
us with deadness ; therefore till he takes off his sentence, we cannot 
get rid of this distemper ; it is one of God's spiritual plagues, which 
must be removed before we can hope for any liveliness, and any 
activity of grace again. Under the law, God punished sins more 
sensibly ; as unhallowed addresses, he punished them with death. 
Under the gospel, he punisheth sins with deadness of heart. When 
they seem careless in the worshipping of God, they have a blow and 
breach, as he smote Uzzah and Nadab and Abihu dead in the place ; 

VER. 107.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 105 

and now he smites with deadness, Bev. iii. 7. He ' hath the key of 
David, that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man 
openeth ; ' without his permission we can never recover our former 
lively estate again, for there is a judicial sentence passed upon us. 

Use, To press us to be often with God for quickening, that we may 
obtain this benefit. I have spoken of it at large upon another verse ; if 
you would have this benefit, rouse up yourselves : Isa. Ixiv. 7, ' There is 
none that stirreth up himself;' and 2 Tim. i. 6, ' Stir up the gift that 
is in th.ee/ A man hath a faculty to work upon his own heart, to 
commune and reason with himself ; and we are bidden to 'strengthen 
the things that are ready to die/ Kev. iii. 2. When things are dying 
and fainting in the soul, we are to strengthen ourselves ; therefore, if 
we would have God to quicken us, thus must we do, chide the heart 
for its deadness in duty ; we can be lively enough in a way of sin ; 
chide the heart for its deadness in affliction : Ps. xlii., ' Why art 
thou cast down, my soul? still trust in God.' And after you have 
done this, then look up, and expect this grace from God in and 
through Christ Jesus. It is said, John x. 10, ' I am come that they 
may have life, and have it more abundantly/ Jesus Christ, he came 
not only that we might have life enough to keep body and soul 
together, but that we might not only be living but lively, full of life, 
strength, and cheerfulness in the service of God. He is come into the 
world for this end and purpose : expect it through Christ, who hath 
purchased it for us. And then plead with God about it, according to 
his promise, Ah ! Lord, according to thy word ; hast thou not said, 
I will quicken a dead heart ? When thou art broken and tossed with 
affliction, remember it is the high and lofty one that hath said he 
will ' revive the heart of the contrite ones,' Isa. Ivii. 15 ; and plead 
thus with God, Ah ! Lord, dost not thou delight in a cheerful spirit ? 
'Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee ?' 
Ps. Ixxxv. 6. And then humble yourselves for the cause of the dis 
temper. What is the matter ? how comes this deadness upon me ? 
Isa. Ixiii. 17, ' Why hast thou caused us to err from thy ways, and 
hardened our heart from thy fear?' Inquire what is the cause of 
this deadness that grows upon me, that you may humble yourselves 
under the mighty hand of God. 

The argument only is behind, according to thy word. David, 
when he begs for quickening, he is encouraged so to do by a promise. 
The question is, where this promise should be ? Some think it was 
that general promise of the law, ' If thou do these things, thou shalt 
live in them,' Lev. xviii. 5 ; and that from thence David drew this 
particular conclusion, that God would give life to his people. But 
rather it was some other promise, some word of God he had to bear 
him out in this request. We see he hath made many promises to us 
of sanctifying our affliction : Isa. xxvii. 9, ' The fruit of all shall be 
the taking away of sin ;' of bettering and improving us by it, Heb. ii. 
11 ; of moderating our affliction ; that he will ' stay his rough wind in 
the day of the east-wind,' Isa. xxvii. 8 ; that he will ' lay no more 
upon us than he will enable us to bear/ 1 Cor. x. 13. He hath 
promised he will moderate our affliction, so that we shall not be 
tempted above our strength. He hath promised he will deliver us 
from it, that ' the rod of the wicked shall not always rest on the back 


of the righteous?' Ps. cxxv. 3; that he will be with us in it, and 
never fail us, Heb. xiii. 5. Now, I argue thus : if the people of God 
could stay their hearts upon God's word when they had but such 
obscure hints to work upon, that we do not know where the promise 
lies, ah ! how should our hearts be stayed upon God when we have so 
many promises ! When the scriptures are enlarged for the comfort 
and enlarging of our faith, surely we ^should say now as Paul, when 
he got a word, Acts xxvii. 25, ' I believe God ; ' I may expect God 
will do thus for rne, when his word speaks it everywhere. Then you 
may expostulate with God : I have thy word for it, Lord ; as she, 
when she showed him the jewel, ring, and staff, Whose are these ? 
So we may cast in God his promises : Whose are these according to 
thy word ? And mark, David, that was punctual with God, ' I have 
sworn, and I will perform it ; and quicken me according to thy 
word.' Sincere hearts may plead promises with God : Isa. xxxviii, 
3, ' Lord, remember I have walked before thee with an upright heart.' 
These may look up and wait upon God for deliverance. 


Accept, I beseech thee, the free-ivill-offer ings of my mouth, Lord, and 
teach me thy judgments. VEK. 108. 

IN this verse two things are asked of God God's acceptance ; then, 
secondly, instruction. 

First, He begs acceptation. Therein take notice (1.) Of the matter, 
object, or thing that he would have to be accepted, the free-will-offer 
ings of my mouth. (2.) The manner of asking this acceptation, accept, 
I beseech thee, Lord. In the former, you may observe the general 
nature of the thing, and then the particular kind ; they were free 
will-offerings ; and yet more express, they were free-will-offerings 
of his hands ; not legal sacrifices, but spiritual services, free-will- 
offerings of his mouth, implying praises. Our praises of God are 
called ' the calves of our lips/ Hosea xiv. 2, rendered there by the 
Septuagint, ' the fruit of our lips/ and accordingly translated by the 
apostle, Heb. xiii. 15, * The fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his 
name.' He was in deep affliction, wandering up and down the desert; 
he was disabled to offer up to God any other sacrifice, therefore he 
desires God would accept the free-will-offerings of his mouth ; he had 
nothing else to bring him. 

Secondly, He begs of God instruction in his way, teach me thy 
judgments. By misphalim, 'judgments/ are meant both God's sta 
tutes and God's providences. If you take them in the former sense, 
for God's statutes, so he begs grace to excite, direct, and' assist him in 
a course of sincere obedience to God, practically to walk according to 
God's will. If you understand it in the latter sense, only for the ac 
complishment of what God had spoken in his word, for God's provi 
dence, for his corrective dispensation, ' Teach me/ he begs under 
standing and profiting by them. 

VER. 108.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. . 107 

I shall begin with his first request, which offereth four observa 
tions : 

1. That God's people have their spiritual offerings. 

2. That these spiritual offerings must be free-will-offerings. 

3. That these free-will-offerings are graciously accepted by God. 

4. That this gracious acceptance must be earnestly sought and 
valued as a great blessing, ' I beseech thee accept/ &c. 

Doct. 1. First, That God's people have their spiritual offerings. I 
shall give the sense of this point in five propositions. 

1. That all God's people are made priests to God, for every offering 
supposeth a priest ; so it is said, Rev. i. 6, that Christ Jesus ' hath 
made us kings and priests.' All Christians, they have a communion 
with Christ in all his offices ; whatever Christ was, that certainly they 
are in some measure and degree. Now, Christ was king, priest, and 
prophet ; and so is every Christian, in a spiritual sense, a king, priest, 
and prophet ; for they have their anointing, their unction from the Holy 
One, and he communicates with them in his offices. So also do they 
resemble the priesthood under the law. In 1 Peter ii. 5, they are called 
'a holy priesthood to offer sacrifices to God;' and 1 Peter ii. 9, they 
are called ' a royal priesthood.' They are a holy priesthood, like the 
sons of Aaron, who were separated from the people, to minister before 
the Lord ; and they are a royal priesthood, in conformity to the priest 
hood of Melchisedec, who was ' king of Salem, and also priest of the 
most high God.' There is a mighty conformity between what is done 
by every Christian and the solemnities and rites used by the priests 
under the law. The priests of the law were separated from the rest of 
the people : so are all God's people from the rest of the world. The 
priests of the law were to be anointed with holy oil, Exod. xxviii. 41 ; 
so all Christians they receive ' an unction from the Holy One/ 1 John 
ii. 20. By the holy oil was figured the Holy Spirit, which was the 
unction of the Holy One, by which they are made fit and ready to 
perform those duties which are acceptable to God. After the priest 
was thus generally prepared by the anointing to their services, before 
they went to offer, they were to wash in the great laver which stood in 
the sanctuary door, Exod. xxix. 4 ; Lev. viii. 4, 5. So every Christian 
is to be washed in the great laver of regeneration, Titus iii. 5. And 
when they are regenerated, born again, purged and cleansed from 
their sins, then they are priests to offer sacrifices to God ; for till this 
be done, none of their offerings are acceptable to him : for ' they that 
are in the flesh cannot please God/ Eom. viii. 8 ; and * the sacrifices of 
the wicked are an abomination unto the Lord/ Prov. xv. 8. Thus you 
see in all these correspondences, and in many more, Christians they are 
priests. What the priests of the law were to God, that is every Chris 
tian now to God, to offer spiritual sacrifices by Christ Jesus our Lord. 

2. They have their offerings. The great work of the priest was to 
offer sacrifice, and this is our employment, to offer sacrifices to God. 
What sacrifices do we offer now in the time of the gospel ? Not sin- 
offerings, but thank-offerings. A sin-offering can be offered but once : 
Heb. x. 14, ' By one offering Jesus Christ hath perfected for ever them 
that are sanctified/ And there needs no more of that kind ; that was 
but to be once offered, Heb. vii. 27; and therefore there remains 


nothing more to be done by us but the offering of thank-offerings, and 
this is to be done continually : Heb. xiii. 15, ' By him therefore let us 
offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our 
lips, giving thanks to his name.' 

3. These offerings must be spiritual thank-offerings. Under the 
law the thank-offering was that of a beast, but now under the gospel 
we offer spiritual sacrifices ; therefore the apostle saith. 1 Peter ii. 5, 
' Ye are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up 
spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.' The sacrifice 
must suit with the nature of the priesthood. The priesthood is 
spiritual, and not after the law of a carnal commandment, and not by 
an external consecration, but the inward anointing of the Holy Ghost. 
And herein we differ from the priests of the law, because the very 
nature and substance of our worship is more pleasing to God than the 
nature of theirs"; for moral worship is better and more suited to the 
nature of God than ceremonial : ' God is a spirit, and will be wor 
shipped in spirit,' John iv. 24. And therefore, when ceremonial 
worship was in force, they that rested in external ceremonies, and did 
not look to the spiritual intent and signification of them, were not 
accepted by God ; though the ceremony was performed with never so 
much pomp, though they came with their flocks and herds, yet praying 
to God, and praising God with a willing mind, which was the soul of 
their offering, was that alone which was acceptable to God ; therefore 
it is said, Ps. Ixix. 30, 31, * I will praise the name of God with a song, 
and will magnify him with thanksgiving : this also shall please the 
Lord better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs ; ' that is, 
which is perfect and exact according to the institutions of the law, for 
there was to be no blemish in the sacrifice of the law ; yet calling upon 
the name of God, and praising him, is better than the service performed 
with the exactest conformity to legal rites: Ps. 1. 13-15, 'Will I eat 
the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats ? Offer unto God 
thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High, and call upon 
me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.' 
The Lord draws them off from ceremonies to the spiritual service ; it 
is more becoming the nature of God, and it is more reasonable service. 
The offering of a beast hath not so much of God's nature, nor of man's 
nature in it, only God would keep it up for a while ; therefore now 
these are the great offerings. 

4. The two great sacrifices required of us, prayer and praise ; there 
are many others, but they are implied in these. To instance, "under 
the gospel there is this thank-offering, presenting ourselves to the 
Lord, dedicating ourselves to the Lord's use and service : Eom. xii. 1, 

the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.' And then there is alms : 
Heb. xiii. 16, 'To do good and communicate forget not, for with such 
sacrifices God is well pleased.' And when the Philippians had made 
contribution to Paul's necessities, he saith it was ' a sacrifice of a sweet- 
smelling savour unto God/ Phil. iv. 18. Ay ! but now both these are 
included in the other two, namely, as they are evidences of our thank- 

VEK. 108.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 109 

fulness to God, and the sense of his love and favour which we have 
received by Christ. The great and usual offerings are ' the fruit of 
our lips/ ' the calves of our lips/ here called ' the free- will-offerings of 
our mouth/ prayer and praise. That prayer is a sacrifice, see Ps. cxli. 
2, ' Let my prayer be set before thee as incense, and the lifting up of 
my hands as the evening sacrifice.' The daily offering was accom 
panied with incense, and he mentions the evening sacrifice, because 
then was ' a more perfect atonement for the day, therefore when the 
evening sacrifice came, it was to be understood they were perfectly 
reconciled to God. And then that praise is a sacrifice, see Ps. liv. 6, 
' I will freely sacrifice unto thee ; I will praise thy name, Lord, for 
it is good. 3 And in that other place where the Lord rejects the flesh 
of bulls and blood of goats, praise is substituted, ' Will I eat the flesh 
of bulls and blood of goats?' No : Ps. 1. 14, ' Offer to me thanks 
giving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High.' So Ps. cxvi. 17, 18. 
So that prayers and praises are the oblations which we offer unto God 
under the gospel, either acknowledgments for former mercies, or peti 
tions for future deliverances. These are the two duties which contain 
the substance of the ceremonies under the law, and are daily and con 
stantly to be performed by us. 

5. Whatever was figured in the old sacrifices, it must be spiritually 
performed in the duty of prayer and praise. In those legal rites, there 
was an evangelical equity, or something that was moral and spiritual 
for us still to observe. 

As, first, in prayer, truth was the inward part of the sacrifice, for 
the mere external oblation was of no significancy with God. There 
were three things wherein it symbolizeth with prayer ; in prayer there 
is required brokenness of heart, owning of Christ, renewing covenant 
with God. 

[1.] One thing that was required in sacrifices was brokenness of 
heart ; for when a man came to present his beast before the Lord, he 
was to consider this beast was to be slain and burnt with fire ; and to 
consider, All this was my case ; I might have been consumed with his 
wrath, and be burnt with fire ; and so come with a compunctionate 
spirit, with brokenness of heart, to bemoan his case before the Lord ; 
therefore it is said, Ps. li. 17, * The sacrifices of God are a broken 
spirit : a broken and a contrite heart, God, thou wilt not despise/ 
This is required in every one that comes to prayer, brokenness of 
heart ; that is, a sensibleness of his want of those good things for which 
he comes, and his inability to supply himself with anything without 
God ; nay, his ill-deservings, how justly he might be denied of God, and 
cursed by all manner of plagues ; how he hath forfeited all manner of 
blessings ; this must be at the bottom. 

[2.] The sacrifices implied an eying of the Redeemer, by virtue of 
whose oblation and intercession we are accepted with God ; for every 
one that came with his sacrifice was to lay his hand upon the head of 
the beast, to put his sins there, to show Christ bore the iniquity of us 
all ; and in every prayer we make, there is this evangelical equity, by 
virtue of the old sacrifice remaining upon us, that we should eye the 
Kedeemer, even Christ Jesus, our Lord, ' Who hath given himself for 
us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour/ Eph. 


v. 2. He is the expiatory sacrifice, and therefore in all our supplicatory 
or gratulatory offerings to God we must still look to him. The word, 
an offering, relates to things destitute of life that were dedicated to 
God, as flour, oil, frankincense ; that which was signified thereby was 
accomplished in Christ. And for the other word, sacrifice, gave him 
self as an offering and sacrifice ; the beasts whose blood was shed, 
those things which had life in them, were called a real sacrifice offered 
to God to appease his justice. Thus Christ Jesus was given as a 
sacrifice, to obtain all manner of blessings for us. ' We should look 
upon God as an all-sufficient fountain of grace, and the author of every 
good gift, depending upon him for his goodness and bounty for Christ's 

[3.] In sacrifices there was implied a renewing of covenant ; so the 
Lord saith, Ps. 1. 5, ' Gather my saints together, that have made a 
covenant with me by sacrifice.' As they did dedicate the beast offered 
to God, so was the worshipper to dedicate himself to God. Now we 
must renew this dedication of ourselves to the Lord's service ; all this 
was morally in the sacrifices, and is to be done every day in our future 
prayers, with brokenness of heart, eying our Eedeemer, casting our 
whole dependence upon him, and in a sense of his love dedicating and 
devoting ourselves to God. 

Secondly, For the other duty, of thanksgiving and praise for mercies 
received. Every point and passage of his undeserved favour to be 
owned, and praise thereof to be given to God, and still to look on all 
done not for our sakes, but for the sake of Christ Jesus. You read 
under the law, Lev. iii. 3, when the thank-offering was brought to 
God, it was to be laid upon the top of the burnt-offering. First they 
were to bring the burnt-offering, and offer that to God, then to lay 
upon it the peace or thank-offering, to show that first we must be 
reconciled to God, and by virtue of that all mercies descend and come 
down upon us ; and then upon this solemn occasion they were to give 
up themselves anew to the Lord. So the apostle presseth this, Eom. 
xii. 1, ' I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present 
your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your 
reasonable service.' And this is one part of the offering of our lips, 
namely, when we come solemnly by virtue of every mercy received, and 
promise obedience anew and afresh to God. To apply this (1.) Are 
you priests ? (2.) Do you offer sacrifices of prayer and praise to God 
continually ? 

[1.] Are you priests unto God? Are you priests by separation? 
Hath God called you out from amongst men ? Ps. iv. 3, ' The Lord 
hath set apart the man that is godly for himself.' Hath God called 
you off from sin to holiness, from self to Christ, from the creature to 
God ? for these are the three things wherein conversion consists. From 
the creature to God, as our last end ; from self to Christ, as the only 
means to come to God ; and from sin to holiness, as the only way to 
get an interest in Christ. Are you called off from the common course 
of living, wherein most men are involved, that you may live and act 
for God? Are you priests by unction? Are you anointed by the 
Spirit as to gifts and graces, and qualified and made meet for this holy 
ministration unto God ? Christ hath purchased gifts in some measure 

VER. 108.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. Ill 

for his people ; for as we were maimed in Adam, not only as to graces 
but also as to gifts, so is our restitution by Christ, that the plaster 
may be as broad as the sore. We have necessary gifts given us by 
virtue of his ascension, whereby we may lay open our state and case 
to God. Indeed, all God's people have not a like measure of gifts, and 
carnal men may come behind in no gift, therefore have you the grace 
of prayer : Zech. xii. 10, ' I will pour upon them the Spirit of grace 
and supplication/ Have you a heart qualified by grace, made meet 
to converse with God? the tendency and disposition of your souls that 
carrieth you to God ? grace that seeks a vent and utterance in prayer 
and holy converses with God? and are you priests by purgation? 
Every priest was to be washed in the great laver ; are you washed and 
purged from sin, that you may serve God acceptably ? Mai. iii. 3, 
first they must be purified, then offer unto the Lord an offering in 
righteousness. God will not take a gift out of a carnal man's hand ; 
and therefore you should look to this, that you be purified and purged. 

[2.] Do you offer spiritual sacrifices to God, of prayer and praise ? 

(1.) Prayer, a duty very kindly to the saints. It is natural to 
them ; it is, as it were, the sphere of their activity, the Spirit dis 
covers himself to men in prayer. As soon as they are converted to 
God they will fall a-praying, and be dealing with God often in this 
kind ; therefore the children of God are described by this, as a duty 
wherein they are most exercised : Zeph. iii. 10, ' My suppliants ;' and 
Ps. xxiv. 6, ' This is a generation of them that seek thee ;' to show 
this is a vital act, a usual and constant expressing of the new nature 
that is put into them. Surely they that love God will be always seek 
ing him, and a broken heart, sensible of its condition, can never want 
an errand to the throne of grace. You are to offer sacrifices as they 
did under the law. Now under the law there was a daily sacrifice, 
every morning they were to offer a lamb without spot, Num. xxviii. 3, 
to show that every morning they should come and sue out their pardon 
by Christ, and every evening to look to the Messiah, the lamb of God, 
that takes away the sins of the world ; that was the intent of the type. 
Now I reason thus : certainly we have as much need as they ; we are 
sinners as well as that people which lived under that dispensation ; 
therefore every morning we must look to the lamb of " God. Nay, we 
have more reason, for they could not clearly discern the meaning of 
that type ; but now all things are open, we can behold the lamb of 
God, therefore must be often with God, suing out our pardon' in the 
name of Christ. 

(2.) The sacrifice of praise. It is notable when the apostle had 
spoken of Christ as a sin-offering he mentions this as the main thing 
in the gospel : Heb. xiii. 15, 'By him therefore let us offer the sacri 
fice of praise to God continually/ Praise, it ought continually, fre 
quently, and upon all occasions to be offered to Ged, for this is a more 
noble duty than prayer. Self-love may put us upon prayer, but love 
to God puts us upon praise and thanksgiving ; we pray because we 
need God, and we praise because we love him. In prayer we become 
beggars, that God would bestow something upon us ; but in praise we 
come, according to poor creatures, to bestow something upon God, 
even to give him the glory due to his name, and tell him what he 


hath done for our poor souls. This is the most noble among all the 
parts of Christian worship. We have more cause to give thanks than 
to pray, for we have many things more to praise God for than to pray 
to him for. There are many favours which go before all thought of 
desert, and many favours still bestowed upon us beyond what we can 
either ask or think. 

Doct. 2. Secondly, These spiritual offerings must be free-will-offer 
ings to God. This expression is often spoken of in the law, Lev. xxil 
18 Num. xxix. 39 ; 2 Chron. xxxi. 14 ; Amos iv. 5. What are these 
free-will-offerings ? They are distinguished from God's stated worship, 
and distinguished from that service which fell under a vow. Besides 
the stated peace-offerings there were certain sacrifices performed upon 
certain occasions to testify God's general goodness, and upon receipts 
of some special mercy ; and you will find these sacrifices to be expressly 
distinguished from such services as men bound themselves to by vow, 
Lev. vii. 16. What is there that answers now to these free-will-offer 
ings ? Certainly this is not spoken to this use, that a man should 
devise any part of worship of his own head, whatever pretence of zeal 
he hath ; but they serve to teach us two things : 

1. They are to teach us how ready we should be to take all occa 
sions of thankfulness and spiritual worship; for besides their vowed 
services and instituted services they had daily sacrifices and set feasts 
commanded by God ; they had their free- will-offerings offered to God 
in thankfulness for some special blessing received or deliverance from 

2. It shows with what voluntariness and cheerfulness we should go 
about God's worship in the gospel, and what a free disposition of heart 
there should be, and edge upon our affections in all things that we 
offer to God. And in this latter sense I shall speak, that our offerings 
to God, prayer and praise, should be free-will-offerings, come from us 
not like water out of a still forced by the fire, but like water out of a 
fountain, with native freeness, readily and freely. 

[1.] God loves a cheerful giver; constrained service is of no value 
and respect with him. Under the law, when sacrifice of beasts was 
in fashion, wherefore did God choose the purest and fattest of every 
thing offered to him, but as a testimony , of a willing mind ? And still 
he looks to the affections rather than the action. God weighs the 
spirit, Prov. xvi. 2. When God comes to put them into the balance 
of the sanctuary, what doth he weigh ? External circumstances of 
duty, or the pomp and appearance wherein men go ? No ; but he con 
siders with what kind of heart it is done ; and the love of sin, God 
takes notice of that, as well as the practice of sin. So in our duties, 
God takes notice of the love, the inclination of our souls, as well as 
the outward service ; therefore our offerings must be free and voluntary. 

[2.] God deserves it, he doth us good with all his heart, and all his 
givings come to us from his love. Why did he give Christ for us and 
to us ? ' He loved us.' Why gave he him for us ? ' God so loved the 
world,' John iii. 16. Why doth he give Christ to us ? Eph. ii. 4, 5, 
* God r 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.' That which moved God to bestow his saving grace upon us 

VER. 108. J SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 113 

was his great love, and all the good we receive from him. Why, 
mercy pleaseth him : ' I will rejoice over them to do them good/ If 
he deliver us out of any danger, he hath ' loved us from the grave/ 
Isa. xxxviii. 7. Now love should season all our services to God. 

[3.] Where a day of grace hath passed upon our hearts, so it will be ; 
the soul will come off readily and freely to the duties God hath required 
of us : Ps. ex. 3, ' Thy people shall be a willing people in the day of 
thy power.' We are naturally backward, slow of heart to do anything 
that is good, hang off from God, will not be subject to him ; but when 
the day of his power passeth upon us, then we are a willing people, we 
are more delighted in communion with God, less averse from him, the 
bent of our hearts is altered, and the stream of our affections is turned 
another way. and our converses with God are more delightful, and we 
are as earnest in serving God as before we were in serving sin. 

Use. To press us to serve God with a perfect heart and with a 
willing mind, 1 Chron. xxix. 9. Thus when we give God any spiritual 
sacrifice, when we pray to or praise him, we should do it willingly, not 
customarily, or by constraint, or for by-ends, nor by the compulsion of 
a natural conscience ; and when we feel, as we shall now and then, any 
tediousness and irksomeness in prayer, we should quicken ourselves 
by this motive : Christ Jesus, who was our sin-offering, he willingly 
offered up himself upon the service of our salvation. I might urge 
other arguments, as the nobleness of our service, the greatness of our 
reward, the many sweet experiences we shall gain in our converse with 
God ; but this should be as the reason of reasons, and instead of all. 
Christ Jesus did not grudgingly go about the work of our salvation, 
but willingly offered himself : Ps. xl. 8, ' I delight to do thy will, 
my God ; yea, thy law is within my heart.' When God would have 
no more legal sin-offerings, but the great sin-offering of the gospel was 
to be produced and brought forth in the view of the world, ' Lo, I 
come ; in the volume of the book it is written of me/ Now our thank- 
offering should be carried on with the same willingness. Christ will 
be served now out of gratitude, and therefore his love should constrain 
us. Surely if we believe this great mystery of Christ, that he did 
willingly offer himself upon the service of our souls, and if we have 
any faith in him, ' faith will work by love,' Gal. v. 6. The soul may 
reason and discourse thus with itself, Do I believe Christ Jesus did 
thus willingly give himself for my soul ? how can I be backward in 
God's service and hang off from him ? Oh ! let me live to Christ, ' who 
loved me, and gave himself for me,' Gal. ii. 20. What ! shall I be 
more backward to do for God than Christ was to die for me, to go to 
the throne of grace than Christ Jesus was to go to the cross ? Can I 
hang him off from such pleasing noble service, when Jesus Christ my 
Lord refused not the hard work of my redemption ? If his will was 
in it, certainly so should be yours. 

Doct. 3. The third point, that these free- will-offerings are accepted 
with God. * They shall come with rams,' speaking of the conversion of 
the Gentiles in terms proper to the old legal dispensation, ' and they 
shall come with acceptance/ Isa. Ix. 7 ; and Mai. iii. 4, ' Then shall 
the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord/ 
Upon what grounds, and what way our acceptance with God is brought 



about ? Our works in themselves cannot please God, they are accepted- 
not as merits, but as testimonies of thankfulness. 

1. Our persons are by Christ reconciled to God, and in worship he 
delights. This is the proper importance ^pf laying the peace-offering 
upon the top of the burnt- offering, Lev.^iii.^10. 

2. Our infirmities are covered with his righteousness ; for Christ is 
the propitiation, the mercy-seat that interposeth between the law and 
God's gracious audience. We come to the throne of grace when we 
come to God in and by him, Heb. iv. 16. 

3. By his intercession our c[uties are commended to God ; as Aaron 
was to stand before the Lord with his plate upon his forehead, where 
in was writ, ' Holiness to the Lord.' Why ? ' That he might bear 
the iniquity of the people, that they might be accepted of the Lord/ 
All our acceptance comes from Christ's intercession ; and alas ! our 
prayers and praises are unsavoury eructations, belches of the flesh, as 
they come from us ; a great deal of infirmity we mingle with them, we 
mingle brimstone with our incense and sweet spices, therefore provoke 
the Lord to abhor and despise us ; but there is an angel stands by the 
altar that perfumes all our prayers and praises. How should this 
encourage us against the slightings of the world and discouragements 
of our own hearts, and to look after the testimony of our acceptance 
with God ! 

Doct. 4. The fourth point, that this gracious acceptance must be 
sought and valued as a great blessing : Ps. xix. 14, ' Let the words of 
my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, 
Lord/ And it must be valued as a great blessing, if we consider 
either who the Lord is, or what we are, or what it is we go to him for. 
If we consider who the Lord is, God all-sufficient, that standeth in no 
need of what we can do, that cannot be profited by us ; he is of so great 
a majesty, that his honour is rather lessened than greatened by any 
thing we can do ; the great author of all blessings, all our offerings 
come from himself first : ' Of thine own have we given thee/ And if 
we consider what we are, poor, impotent, sinful creatures, will God 
take, an offering at our hands ? And if we consider what we do, 
nothing but imperfection; there is more of us in it, of our fleshly part, 
in anything we do, yet that these things should be accepted with God. 


My soul is continually in my hand : yet do I not forget thy 
law.Vm. 109. 

IN this verse and the next, David asserts his integrity against two sorts 
of ^ temptations and ways of assault the violence and craft of his ene 
mies. ^ Their violence in this verse, my soul is in my hand ; and their 
craft in the next verse, they laid snares for me. And yet still his heart 
is upright with God. 

VER. 109.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 115 

In this verse observe (1.) David's condition, my soul is continually 
in my hand. (2.) His constancy and perseverance, notwithstanding 
that condition, yet do I not forget tliy law. 

First, Let me speak of the condition he was now in, in that expres 
sion, ' My soul is continually in my hand/ The soul in the hand is a 
phrase often used in scripture; it is said of Jephthah, Judges xii. 3, ' I put 
my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon/ 
So Job xiii. 14, ' Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth, and put 
my life in my hand ? ' And when David went to encounter Goliath, 
1 Sam. xix. 5, it is said, ' He put his life in his hand, and slew the 
Philistine.' In exposing ourselves to any hazard and dangers in any 
great attempt, it is called the putting of our life in our hand. And the 
witch of Endor, when she ventured against a law to please Saul, and so 
had exposed her life, this form of speech is used concerning her, 1 Sam. 
xxviii. 21, ' I have put my life in my hand/ Briefly, then, by soul is 
meant life, and this is said to be in his hand ; I go in danger of my 
life day by day ; as if he should say, I have my soul ready divorced 
when God calls for it. It not only notes liableness to danger, but 
resolution and courage to encounter it. In a sense, we always carry 
our souls in our hands ; our life hangs by a single thread, which is 
soon fretted asunder, and therefore we should every day be praying 
that it may not be taken from us, as the souls of wicked men are, Job 
xxvii. 8 ; Luke xii. 20, but yielded up, and resigned to God. But 
more especially is the expression verified when we walk in the midst 
of dangers and in a thousand deaths : ' My soul is in my hand ; ' that 
is, I am exposed to dangers that threaten my life every day. 

Secondly, Here is his affection to God's word, notwithstanding this 
condition, ' Yet do I not forget thy law/ There is a twofold remem 
brance of things notional and affective ; and so there is a twofold 
forgetfulness : 

1. Notional. We forget the word, when the notion of things writ 
ten therein has either wholly or in part vanished out of our minds. 

2. Affectively. We are said to forget the word of God when, though 
we still retain the notion, yet we are not answerably affected, do not 
act according thereunto, and this is that which is understood here, ' I 
do not forget thy law/ Law is taken generally for any part of the 
word of God, and implies the word of promise, as well as the word of 
command. As for instance : 

[1.] If we interpret it of the promise, the sense will be this : I do 
not forget thy law ; that is, I take no discouragements from my dan 
gers to let fall my trust, as if there were no providence, no God to take 
care of those that walk closely with him. Heb. xii. 5, when they fainted, 
they are said to have forgotten the consolation which spake unto them 
as unto children. 

^ [2.] If we interpret this word ' law ' of the commandments and 
directions of the word, and so I do not forget it ; that is either by way 
of omission, I do not slacken my diligence in thy service for all this ; 
or by way of commission, I do not act contrary to conscience ; and the 
effect of the whole verse is this : Though I walk in the midst of dangers 
and a thousand deaths continually, yet at such a time, when a man 
would think he should not stand upon nice points, even then he 


should keep up a dear and tender respect to God's law. And he doth 
the rather express himself thus, I do not forget it, because great temp 
tations blind and divert the mind from the thought of our duty. Our 
minds are so surprised with the dangers before us, that God's law is 
quite forgotten as a thing out of mind, and we act as if we had no such 
comfort and direction given us. The points are two : 

1. That such things may befall God's children that they may carry 
their lives in their hands from day to day. 

2. When we carry our lives in our hands, no kind of danger should 
make us warp and turn aside from the direction of God's word. 

Doct. 1. That such things may befall God's children that they may 
carry their lives in their hands from day to day. 

That this is often the lot of God's people, we may prove : 1 Cor. xv. 
31, * I protest, by our rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, 
I die daily.' How can that be, I die daily, since we die but once ? 
The meaning is, I go still in danger of my life. Such times may 
come when we run hazards for Christ every day, so that in the morning 
we do not know what may fall out before night : 2 Cor. xi. 23, ' In 
deaths often ; ' that is, in danger of death. So 1 Peter iv. 19, ' Let 
those that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of 
their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator/ Let 
them commit their souls, that is, their lives ; the soul is sometimes 
put for life, for life spiritual or life eternal, but there it is put for life 
natural ; so let them commit their souls to God, that is, in times of 
danger and hazard. Let them go on in well-doing cheerfully, and 
though there be no visible means of safety and defence, let them 
commit their lives to God in well-doing ; when they carry their lives 
in their own hands, let them be careful to put them into the hands of 
God. Let God do what he pleaseth, for he is a faithful Creator ; that 
is, as once he created them out of nothing, so he is able to preserve 
them when there is nothing visible, nothing to trust to. Often this 
may be the case of God's people, that they carry their lives in their 
hands from day to day. That you may take the force of the expres 
sion, consider when the people of Gpd are in the midst of their 
enemies, then they carry their lives in their hands : Mat. x. 16, ' Behold 
I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves ; ' when they are 
among men no better affected to them than wolves to sheep, and when 
men have them in their power, and there is no outward restraint of 
laws and government ; for whatever enmity they have or act against 
them, laws and government are a great restraint ; as Gen. xxvii. 41, 
* The days of mourning for my father are at hand, then will I slay my 
brother Jacob.' Till Isaac was dead, there was a check upon him ; 
but sometimes it is in the power of their hands to do them mischief : 
Micah ii. 1, * They practise iniquity, because it is in the power of their 
hand.' When men are ill affected, no restraint upon them, no im 
pediment in their way, yea, when they begin to persecute and rage 
against the servants of God, and we know not when our turn comes, 
then we are said to have our lives in our hand ; as Korn. viii. 36, 
' For thy sake are we killed all the day long ; ' that is, some of that 
body killed, now one picked up, then another ; in these cases they 
are said to carry their lives in their hands, when they are in the power 

VER. 109.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 117 

of men that h ave no principle of tenderness to us, no restraint upon 
them, these begin to vex, molest, and trouble the Church. 

For the reasons why God permits it so, that his people should carry 
their lives in their hands. 

1. God doth it to check security, to which we are very subject. We 
are apt to forget changes ; if we have but a little breathing from 
trouble, we promise ourselves perpetual exemption therefrom ; as Ps. 
xxx. 6, ' My mountain stands strong, I shall never be moved.' When 
we have got a carnal pillow under our heads to rest upon, it is hard 
to keep from sleep, and dreaming of temporal felicity to be perpetuated 
to us ; then we forget by whom we live, and by whose goodness we 
subsist ; yea, this may be when trials are very near : the disciples slept 
when their master was ready to be surprised and they scattered, Mat. 
xxvi. 40 ; when we are in the greatest dangers, and matters which 
most concern us are at hand. Now, to prevent this security, God 
draws away this pillow from under our heads, and suffers us to be 
waylaid with dangers and troubles everywhere, that we might carry 
our lives in our hands, for this makes us sensible of our present con 
dition in the world, and that we subsist upon God's goodness and 
providence every moment. 

2. To wean us from creature confidences and carnal dependences : 
2 Cor. i. 9, ' We received the sentence of death in ourselves, that we 
should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead.' 
Paul, that went up and down everywhere to hunt the devil out of his 
territories, and to alarm the carnal sleepy world, this Paul was very 
prone to trust in himself ; a man that was whipped, imprisoned, stoned, 
opposed everywhere by unreasonable men, what had he to trust to but 
God's providence ? And yet he needs to be brought to this, to take 
his life in his hands, that he might learn to trust in God that raiseth 
from the dead. The best are prone to trust in themselves, and to lean 
to a temporal, visible interest. We would fain have it by any means, 
therefore sometimes we take a sinful course to get it. Well, now, 
God, to cure his people of this distemper, breaks every prop and stay 
which they are apt to lean upon, breaks down the hedge, the fence is 
removed, and lays them open to dangers continually, so that from day 
to day they are forced to seek their preservation from him. 

3. To check their worldliness. We are very apt to dote upon 
present things, and to dream of honours and great places in the world, 
and seek great things for ourselves, when we should be preparing for 
bitter sufferings. As the two sons of Zebedee employed their mother 
to speak to Christ ; being near of kin to him, she comes in a cunning 
manner, under pretence to worship him, and propounds a general 
question to him; she does not at first propose the particular, but 
says in general, ' I have a certain thing to request of thee.' And 
what was her request ? ' That one of my sons may sit on thy right 
hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom/ Saith Christ, ' To 
sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give> but it shall 
be given to them for whom it is prepared of my father.' Mark, out of 
this story you learn how apt Christ's own disciples are to dote upon 
worldly honour and greatness. The sons of Zebedee, James and John, 
those two worthy disciples, employ their mother to; Christ in such a 


message ; they were dreaming of earthly kingdoms and worldly honour 
that should be shared between them, notwithstanding Christ taught 
them rather to prepare for crosses in this world. Do but reflect 
the light of this upon your own hearts. Do we think we are 
better than those apostles ? and that it is an easy thing to shut 
the love of the world, and the honour thereof, out of our hearts, 
since they were so enchanted with the witchery of it? Therefore 
Christ tells them, Mat. xx. 22, ' Alas ! poor creatures, ye know not 
what ye ask : can you pledge me in my cup, and be baptized with the 
baptism that I am baptized with ? ' We know not what we do when 
we are hunting after high places in the world ; we are to pledge Christ 
in his bitter cup before our advancement come. Nay, to prove this 
is not only the worldling's disease, but it is very incident to the 
choicest of God's people ; for after Christ had suffered and rose again, 
the apostles were not dispossessed of this humour, but still did dream 
of worldly ease and honour, therefore- they come to Christ with this 
question, Acts i. 6, ' Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the 
kingdom to Israel ? ' meaning, in the Jewish sense, break the Koman 
yoke, and give them power and dominion over the nations, hoping for 
a great share to themselves when this work was done. Thus you see 
human weakness and the love of worldly honour bewrays itself in 
Christ's own disciples. One instance more, in Jer. xlv. 5, of Baruch, 
' Seekest thou great things for thyself ? seek them not.' Baruch, he 
was Jeremiah's scribe, had written his prophecy, and believed it, that 
dreadful roll, written it over, yet he was seeking some great thing for 
himself. The best are apt to think they shall shift well enough for 
themselves in the world ; therefore saith Jeremiah, For thou to have 
thoughts of honour and credit, and a peaceful and prosperous estate, 
when all is going to rack and ruin, never dream upon such a matter. 
Now judge whether there be not great cause that God should bring 
his people to such a condition that they should carry their life in their 
hands from day to day, that he might cure them of this distemper. 

4. That they may value eternal life the more, which they would not 
do if they had a stable condition here in the world. After death there 
will be a life out of all danger, and a life that is not in our hands, but 
in the hands of God ; none can take that life from us which God keepeth 
in heaven. Now that they might look after this life, and value and 
prize it the more, they are exposed to hazards and dangers here. The 
apostle saith, 1 Cor. xv. 19, ' If in this life only we have hope in Christ, 
we are of all men most miserable.' When they find the present life 
encumbered with so many sorrows, and exposed to so many dangers, 
then they conclude surely there is a better and safer estate for the 
people of God elsewhere in heaven. God's people cannot be of all 
men most miserable ; there is another life ; they have hopes in Christ, 
and for other things ; therefore they long for it, and look for it : Heb. 
xiii. 14, ' Here we have no abiding city, but we seek one to come.' 
All things are liable to uncertainties and apparent troubles, that we 
might look after that estate where the sheep of Christ shall be safely 
lodged in their eternal fold. Now God by their condition doth, as it 
were, say to them, as Micah ii. 10, 'Arise, this is not your rest.' Your 
stable comforts, your everlasting enjoyments are not here ; here all 

VER. 109.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 119 

our comforts are in our hands, ready to deliver them up from day to 

5. God doth by his righteous providence cause it to be so, that his 
people carry their life in their, hands, to try their affections to him 
and his word. When we sail with a full stream of prosperity, we may 
be of God's side and party upon foreign and accidental reasons. Now 
God will see if we love Christ for his own sake, and his ways as they 
are his ways when separated from any temporal interest, yea, when 
exposed to scorn, disgrace, and trouble. It is easy to be good when it 
costs us nothing, and the wind blows in our backs rather than in our 
faces, the state of affairs is for us rather than against us. Halcyon 
times and times of rest are ' times of breeding the church, but 
stormy times are times of trying the church : 1 Peter iv. 12, ' Be 
loved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to 
try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.' God 
will put 'us into his furnace, there will a fiery trial come, to see if we 
have the same affection to truth when it is safe to own it, and when 
it is dangerous to own it, when it is hated and maligned in the world. 
Few professors can abide God's trial : Zech. xiii. 9, ' I will bring the 
third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, 
and will try them as gold is tried.' When two parts fall away, there 
is a third part refined and tried by trials. When the generality proves 
dross, or chaff, or stubble in the furnace, there is some good metal 
preserved, to shine brighter, for trial as their zeal is increased and 
their grace kept more lively, and their faith and dependence upon a 
continual exercise. God will try whether we can live upon invisible 
supports, and go on cheerfully in the performance of our duty in the 
midst of all difficulty, without these outward encouragements. They 
are proved that they may be improved. 

6. God doth cause such things to befall his people, to show his 
power both in their preservation and in overruling all those cross 
providences for their good. 

[1.] His power in their preservation ; when they have no temporal 
interests to back them, God will show he can preserve his people : 
Ps. xcvii. 1, ' The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice, let the multi 
tude of isles be glad thereof/ It is well that the Lord reigns, else 
how could his people stand ? The Lord reigns, and the multitude of 
isles they have a share in the joy and benefit. One benefit that we 
have by his reign is this, ver. 10, compared with ver. 1, he preserveth 
the souls of his saints ; that is, their lives ; he delivereth them out of 
the hand of the wicked. There is an overruling, a secret and in 
visible providence, by which they are kept and hidden as in a pavilion, 
so they have often experience of wonderful preservation in the midst 
of all their troubles. 

[2.] God shows his power for overruling all these accidents for the 
increase and benefit of his church and people. When the believers 
were scattered, and driven up and down, when exposed to hazards and 
inconveniences, it is said, Acts xi. 21, ' The hand of the Lord was 
with them ; and a great number believed and turned unto the Lord/ 
God can make their loss turn to their increase. Christ often gets up 
upon the devil's shoulders, and is beholden more to his enemies than to 


his friends in this sense, because that which would seem to stop his 
course, and to obscure his glory, doth advance it so much the more : 
Phil. i. 12, ' The things which happened unto me, have fallen out 
rather unto the furtherance of the gospel.' The gospel was not ex 
tinguished by Paul's imprisonment, but propagated. I say, Paul's 
sufferings were as necessary as Paul's preaching, that the truth might 
gain, and that it might be known and heard of. God overrules all 
these actions for his glory, and for the benefit of his church. 

Use 1. First, if we be not in this condition, let us look for it and 
prepare for it. Religion is a stranger in the world, and therefore it is 
often ill-treated ; we have a stable happiness elsewhere, and here we 
must expect changes. All the comforts and hopes of the scriptures 
is suited to such a condition ; a great part of the Bible would be need 
less, and would be but as bladders given to a man who stands upon 
dry land, and never means to go into the waters ; the comforts and 
provisions God hath made for us in the word would be useless, it' 
such things did not befall us. Why hath God laid in so many sup 
ports, if we think never to be put to distress and troubles ? Oh I 
then, think of these things beforehand, and make them familiar to 
you. ' The evil which I feared is come upon me,' saith Job. When 
the back is fitted, the burden will not be so dreadful. Think of these 
things beforehand, that you may provide and prepare for them. Now, 
that you may not be strange at such kind of providences, consider four 
things : 

1. The world will be the world still. There is a natural enmity 
between the two seeds, which will never be wholly laid aside, between 
the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, Gen. iii. 15 ; as 
natural an enmity as between the wolf and the lamb, the raven and 
the dove : 1 John iii. 12, ' Cain was of that wicked one, and slew his 
brother ; and wherefore slew he him ? Because his own works were 
evil, and his brother's righteous/ Separation and estrangement in 
course of life is a provoking thing. Men that live in any sinful course 
are loath any should part company with them, that there might be none 
to make them ashamed ; therefore when they draw from their sins, and 
do not run with them into the same excess of riot, they think it strange ; 
3 r our life is a reproof to them : John vii. 7, ' The world hateth me, 
because I testified of it that the works thereof are evil ; ' and Heb. xi. 
7, ' Noah condemned the world ; being moved with fear, prepared an 
ark.' Strictness is an object reviving guilt. Every wicked man loves 
another Vdut factorem, adjutorem et excusatorem sui criminis, as 
one that favours his actions, and helps to excuse his actions. One 
wicked man doth not put another to the blush. It is no shame to be 
black in the country of the negroes. But when there is a distinction, 
some walk with God humbly and closely, certainly your life is a 
reproach to others that do not so, therefore they will hate you. 

2. This enmity hath ever been working : the prophets and holy 
men of God have had experience of it. Abel was slain by Cain, Gen. 
iv. 18 ; Isaac scoffed at by Ishmael, Gen. xxi. 11 ; which example 
the apostle allegeth, Gal. iv. 29, ' He that was born after the flesh 
persecuted him that was born after the spirit,' So it was then, so it 
is now, and so it will ever be to the world's end. Ever it hath been 

VEE. 109.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 121 

the lot of God's children to suffer hard things from the men of this 
world, though they are related to them in the nearest bonds of kindred 
and acquaintance. Jacob, because of the blessing and birthright, was 
pursued to death by Esau, and driven out of his father's house, Gen. 
xxvii. ; Moses driven out of Egypt by his unkind brethren, Acts vii. 25- 
27 ; David hunted up and down like a partridge upon the mountains ; 
Jezebel sought Elijah's life ; Micaiah thrown into prison, and hardly 
used ; Elisha pursued by Jehoram for his head. Instances are end 
less of this kind ; ever there hath been an enmity, and ever will be. 

3. Persecutions are more, greater, and longer in the New Testament 
than in the Old. Why ? Partly because the Old Testament church 
was under tutors and governors, Gal. iv. 1, 2 ; neither for light of 
knowledge, nor ardour of zeal to be compared with the New Testa 
ment church, when 'the kingdom of heaven suffers violence/ Mat. xi. 
11. Look, as Christ spared his disciples until they were fit for greater 
troubles, till fit for the new wine, Mat. ix. 17, so God spared that 
church. The church then had troubles, but for the most part they 
were not for religion, but for defection from God, for their sins. And 
partly, too, because the church of the Old Testament was not so dis 
persed, but confined within the narrow bounds of one province or 
country, not mixed with the profane idolatrous nations, nor exposed to 
their hatred, contradiction, and rage ; but of Christians, the apostle tells 
us, this sect is everywhere spoken against. And partly because Satan 
then had quiet reign over the blind world for a long time ; but now, when 
Christ comes to dispossess him, to turn out the strong man the goods 
were in peace before, and now he hath but a short time he hath great 
wrath, Rev. xii. 11. When Christ came to seize upon the world, it 
was quick and hot work, his force and violence was greater. Again 
temporal promises were more in the eye of the covenant, where all 
things were wrapped up in types and figures ; when prosperity signi 
fied happiness, and long life signified eternity, there w r ere not such 
exercises and trials then. But now, * All those that will live godly in 
Christ Jesus must suffer persecution/ 2 Tim. iii. 12. But since Christ 
hath set up his church, and brought light and immortality to the world, 
now troubles are greater. 

4. Persecutions from pseudo-Christians will also be hot and violent: 
Rev. xiv. 13, ' Write from henceforth, saiththe Spirit, Blessed are the 
dead that die in the Lord.' Why, the dead that die in the Lord ? they 
were always blessed from the beginning of the world ; why such a 
solemn notice from heaven ? Why from henceforth ? The meaning 
is this: those that suffered under pagan persecutions, all Christians 
would call them blessed that died in the Lord. Ay ! but now, when 
the persecutions began under the pseudo-Christians, blessed are the 
dead that die in the Lord from henceforth still. Nay, the persecu 
tions here are greater than the pagan, and of longer continuance.. Why? 
Because they have a show of Christ's authority, as the beast in the Reve 
lations had horns like a lamb ; that beast which spake like a dragon, 
deceived the nations, enchanted the world with her witchery and sorcery, 
that beast had a pretence of the authority of Christ, Rev. xiii. 11. 
And the purity of Christians is greater, and so more enraging; and 
the great quarrel in the latter ages of the world is about a temporal 


interest. The spirit of the world is the spirit of antichristianism, and 
all those that hang upon her are of the spirit of the world : 1 John 
iv. 5, 'They are of the world, therefore speak they of the world, and 
the world heareth them.' Now, when these are contending for the 
world, this doth exceedingly inflame and heighten the rage against 
those that would endanger their worldly interest. You see there is 
cause to think that God will expose us also to our trials ; therefore we 
should be forewarned and prepared for these things that they may not 
come upon us unawares. 

Use 2. If God's people are put into such a condition that they carry 
their lives in their hands, then learn from hence, that if we have 
greater security for our lives and interests, we ought more to bless God 
and to improve the season. It is a great mercy that we have laws to 
secure our religion and our interests, that we have Christian and Pro 
testant magistrates to execute those laws, that we may in safety worship 
God in the public assemblies, and we ought to bless God. But then, 
if this be our condition, there are three duties required of us : 

1. To acknowledge God in this mercy, for it is he that hath the 
hearts of magistrates in his own hands: Prov! xxi. 1, ' The king's 
heart is in the hand of the Lord ; as the river of waters, he turneth it 
whithersoever he will.' Their thoughts, their designs, inclinations and 
aversations are in God's hands. And as God hath power, so hath he 
promised this blessing, Isa. xlix. 23, that he will give ' kings to be 
nursing fathers, and queens nursing mothers/ Well, there is a power 
and a promise. What follows then ? Only that we praise God for so 
much of it as we have, and that we pray to God still for more, that we 
may, under our kings and governors, 'lead godly and quiet lives,' 1 Tim. 
ii. 1, 2 ; and therefore, if we have greater security for our lives and 
interests, God must be acknowledged. 

2. Be so much the more in active obedience : Acts ix. 31, 'Then 
had the churches rest/ And what then ? ' And they walked in the 
fear of God, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost/ When you have 
a good day, you should improve it well ; when we may walk up and 
down in the security of laws, and serve God freely, oh 1 let us serve 
him much ; we are not called to renounce our interests, therefore let 
us mortify our lusts. Fires are not kindled about us to consume our 
bodies, therefore let the fire of God burn up our lusts. If the saints 
are to quit their well-being, certainly it should not be grievous to us 
to part with our ill-being, with our sins for God's service. Look, as 
Salvian de Gub. lib. iii., saith, when our kings are Christians, and 
religion is not troubled by them, now God calls us to be more pure 
and holy in our conversations ; now we do not shift for our lives, let us 
avoid occasions of evil ; now we are not cast into prisons, let us con 
fine ourselves to our closets, that we may serve God more cheerfully 

3. Bear the lesser troubles with more patience, when this is not our 
condition, that our lives are carried in our hands from day to day. It 
was never so well with the people of God, that if not in kingdoms, yet 
in families, in parishes, in lesser societies there will be some conflict ; 
now these we should bear with more patience, because the children of 
God are exposed to that condition that they have carried their lives in 

VER. 109.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 123 

their hands from day to day : Heb. xii. 3, ' Consider him that endured 
such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and 
faint in your minds/ You are not called unto a ' resistance to blood.' 
As Julian the apostate said to one, If he was so offended with their 
taunts, what would he be with the darts of the Persians ? If we can 
not suffer a reproach, and an angry word for Christ ; if we murmur 
when we are a little slighted and forgotten by men, and left out of the 
tale of the world, oh ! what would we do if we were called to suffer 
greater things ? Jer. xii. 5, ' If thou hast run with the footmen, and 
they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horsemen ? ' 
that is, if thou canst not endure the scorn, reproach, and opposition of 
a few private wicked men that stand upon even ground with thee, 
how canst thou contend with horses, when there are other manner of 
oppositions ? 

Use 3. If this should now befall you, as it hath befallen God's 
choicest servants, and very likely so to do for those reasons I gave, 
then shrink not, but resolve to endure any extremity rather than take 
any sinful course for your ease ; nay, be not dejected if it should 
happen : Acts xxi. 13, ' I am ready not only to be bound, but also to 
die for the name of the Lord Jesus.' There was one that had his life 
in his hand indeed, that had the courage to lay it down. To quicken 
you hereto, let me give a few considerations : 

1. God hath given you greater things than possibly you can lose for 
his sake ; though we should lose life and all, yet he hath given us his 
Christ. Saith Ambrose, We are indebted for a person of the. Godhead ; 
and shall we stick at our personal interests and concernments ? Shall 
we not die for his honour who died for our salvation ? die temporally 
for him who maketh us to live eternally ? and give that body as a 
sacrifice to the honour of Christ, which otherwise by the law of nature 
will become meat for the worms ? therefore every Christian should 
carry his life in his hand, Phil. i. 20, either by martyrdom or minis 
terial labours. 

2. No evil is like to that evil which will befall us in forsaking God : 
Mat. x. 28, ' Fear not them which can but kill the body,' &c. Shall 
we, rather than run hazards with the sheep of Christ, be contented to 
howl with wolves in everlasting darkness, when we for a little tem 
poral danger refuse to run hazard with Christ's sheep, shall be cast into 
hell-fire for evermore ? If we are so tender of suffering, what will it 
be to suffer hell-fire ? 

3. All that we can lose is abundantly made up in the other world. 
Heb. xi. 35, it is said, they 'would not accept deliverance, having 
obtained a better resurrection.' There is a resurrection from death to 
life, when we come out upon ill terms, by accepting the enemy's 
deliverance. Ay ! but there is a better resurrection when we come out 
upon God's terms, a resurrection to life and glory hereafter. Violence 
doth but open the prison door, and let out the soul that long hath 
desired to be with Christ ; and therefore we should endure, as expect 
ing this better resurrection. 

4. Consider upon what slight terms men will put their lives in their 
hands for other things, and shall we not run hazards for Christ? 
Many venture their lives for a humour, a little vainglory, to show a 


greatness of spirit ; or they venture their lives upon revenges, upon a 
punctilio of honour. Some will venture their lives in the wars for one 
shilling a day, and shall we not carry our lives in our hands for 
Christ ? Scipio boasted of his soldiers, that they loved him so as to 
venture their lives for him, to leap into the sea, and cast themselves 
down a steep rock : There are none of these but if I spake the word, 
shall go upon a tower, and throw himself down into the sea if I bid him. 
So Fulgentius' story of those that would obey their chief, whom they 
called Vetus, the old man of the mountain, if he bid them fall down a 
steep rock, to show their obedience ; and shall not we venture our lives 
for Christ ? 

Doct. 2. That when our souls are continually in our hands, no kind 
of danger should make us warp and turn aside from the direction of 
God's word. Why ? 

1. A Christian should be above all temporal accidents ; above carnal 
grief, carnal joy, worldly hope, worldly fear; he should be dead to the 
world, or else he is not thoroughly acquainted with the virtue of Christ's 
cross, Gal. vi. 14. 

2. God can so restrain the malice of wicked men, that though we 
carry our lives in our hands, we shall be safe enough for all that : 
Prov. xvi. 7, ' When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even 
his enemies to be at peace with him/ Mark, the Lord can secure 
you against men, when a man pleaseth the Lord ; but when a man 
pleaseth men, they cannot secure you against the Lord, they cannot 
save you harmless from the wrath of God, or answer for you to the 
Almighty, nor give you safety from the terrors of conscience. But on 
the other side, many a man by pleasing God finds more safety and 
comfort in opposing the lusts and the humours of men than in com 
plying with them. God's providence is wonderfully at work for his 
children when they are reduced to these extremities ; either he can 
allay their fury, turn in convictions upon their consciences of the 
righteousness of those whom they molest and trouble, as when Saul 
hunted for David, 1 Sam. xxiv. 17, ' Thou art more righteous than I/ 
God puts conviction upon him. Nay, sometimes such a fear and rever 
ence that they dare not : Mark vi. 20, ' Herod feared John because he 
was a strict man/ Or some check or bridle, some contrary interest 
that God can set up, that their hands are withered when they are 
stretched out against them, as was Jeroboam's hand ; and there 
fore a Christian, though his life be in his hand, he should not warp. 
Why ? For God can mightily provide for him as to his temporal 
safety: 1 Peter iii. 13, * Who is he that will harm you, if ye be fol 
lowers of that which is good ?' It is an indefinite proposition, some 
times it will be true. Let a man follow that which is good, who dares 
harm him ? There is an awe, and he is kept safe, though not always. 

3. We renounced all at our first coming to Christ. Estate, credit, 
liberty, life, it was all laid at Christ's feet, if our hearts were really 
upright with him. A man must lay down self, whatever it be, else 
he cannot be Christ's disciple, Mat. xvi. 24 ; Luke xiv. 26. This was 
done in vow, in a time of peace ; therefore it must be actually done 
and made good in a time of trouble. Your interests are God's, and are 
only given back to God again ; your estate, life, liberty, and credit, all 

YER. 109.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 125 

given up. Why ? That you may have something of value to esteem 
as nothing for Christ. 

4. Our sufferings shall be abundantly recompensed and made up in 
the world to come : Kom. viii. 18, ' I reckon that the sufferings of this 
present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall 
be revealed.' For a man to stand comparing his interest or sufferings 
here in this world with the glory revealed, is as foolish a thing as if a 
man should set a thousand pound weight with a feather. So 2 Cor. 
iv. 17, ' Our light affliction,' &c. We are often saying, If we lose this 
and that, what will become of us? what shall we have? Mat. xix. 
27-29, ' We have left all.' A great all they had left for Christ ; it 
may be a net, a fisher-boat, a cottage ; yet he speaks magnificently of 
it, and ' what shall we have ? ' Have ! You shall have enough ; * in 
the regeneration you shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve 
tribes of Israel/ 

5. You should not warp, though you carry your lives in your hands, 
because constancy is necessary. How necessary ? For our credit and 
good name as we are men : ' Do I use lightness ? ' saith the apostle, 
2 Cor. i. 17. Men lose their authority and esteem, they are not 
accounted grave, serious, and weighty, when they shift and change, 
and appear with a various face to the world ; and certainly it is for our 
comfort, for our right to everlasting blessedness is most sensibly clear 
by constancy in God's cause : Phil. i. 28, ' And in nothing terrified by 
your adversaries, which is to them an evident token of perdition, but 
to you of salvation, and that of God/ Oh! what would a man give for 
to clear this, that he is an heir of God ? This is an evident token ; 
and it is necessary for the credit of the truth which we profess. When 
we shift, turn, and wind, we bring a dishonour upon it; but, saith the 
apostle, Phil. i. 14, ' They waxed confident by my bonds ;' this puts 
heart and courage. And it is for the honour of God : 1 Peter ii. 14, 
' On your part he is glorified ;' and John xxi. 19, ' Signifying by what 
death he should glorify God/ Since constancy is so necessary, either we 
should not take up principles, or suffer for them if called thereunto. 

Use 1. Caution to the people of God. Take heed you do not forget 
the word, when you carry your lives in your hand. Many of God's 
people may do so sometimes, as when we deny the truth : Mat. xxvi. 
72, ' Peter denied before them all, saying, I know not the man/ Or 
when we take any sinful course for temporal safety, as when David 
feigned himself mad before Achish, 1 Sam. xxi. 13. Or when our 
spirits are filled with passion against the instruments of our trouble, 
and with uncomely heats, as Peter drew a sword in a rash zeal, and 
had no thanks for it, but a rebuke from Christ. Or when we suffer in 
a heartless and comfortless manner, as God's children sometimes are 
in dejections of spirit. David took notice of his drooping and discon- 
solateness, Ps. xlii. 5 ; when he flitted up and down in the wilderness, 
pursued with Saul's army, he had his droopings and discomforts. In 
these cases we forget the word of God. 

Use 2. To press you to courage and constancy in a time of danger ; 
to endure all extremities, rather than do anything against the word of 
God. Here I shall inquire : 

1. What is this Christian courage? There is military valour and 


Christian valour. The one consists in doing, the other in suffering, 
great things. Peter, at Christ's death, had more of the military valour 
and fierceness than of the passive valour, for he that could venture on 
a band of men was foiled by a damsel's question. The one dependeth 
on hastiness of temper, greatness of blood and spirits ; the other upon 
faith and submission to God's will : Acts vii. 55, ' He being full of the 
Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of 
God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.' It is spoken when 
the people gnashed on him with their teeth, then full of the Holy 
Ghost. There is the habit of fortitude, and the act of it when led on. 
There is a great deal of difference between the courage of wicked men, 
and the faith and fortitude of good Christians. We see rude men are 
undaunted in the face of danger, but the fortitude of Christians con- 
sisteth in lifting up their eyes and hearts to heaven ; others not, for as 
soon as they think of God, their courage faileth ; the more brave, the 
more they shut out the thought of divine things, all sense of God and 
immortality : 1 Cor. xv. 32, ' Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we 
shall die/ It is a brutish fury, inflamed by wine, stirred up by trum 
pets and drums, not stirred up by the consolations of God, or remem 
brance of his covenant ; then they are dejected, Kev. vi. 15-17. 

2. To remove such objections as may hinder your courage and 

[1.] It is a sore temptation to keep our service, but we must stand 
to God's providence, to honour him by service or suffering, as he shall 
think good. We are to honour God in his own way, we are not to 
stretch conscience in the least degree to continue it. God hath no need 
of thy sin ; when God hath a mind to lay you aside, submit. 

[2.] The smallness of the difference is another objection. If it were 
to turn Turk, or heathen, or papist, men will say, they would not do 
so and so. God standeth upon every peek of his word, every dust of 
truth is precious. 

[3.] Another objection is this, we shall be interpreted to hinder the 
public peace. 

I answer ' If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably 
with all men/ Rom. xii. 18. But be sure not to betray the cause of 
God, nor lose the interest of Christ ; that is not possible which is not 
lawful in a moral sense. 

[4.] Another objection is, that we shall be accounted peevish, rash, 

I answer We must be led to credit. There is a difference between 
men stubborn and obstinate and zealous. Many may sacrifice a stout 
body to a stubborn mind, but be courageous and constant in the service 
of God. 

3. What is necessary to this well-tempered courage, that we may 
suffer not out of humour, but out of conscience towards God ? Not 
because formerly engaged by profession, or out of a desire of a name 
and esteem among religious persons, but out of obedience to God, who 
cpmmandeth us to choose afflictions, rather than sin. To this resolu 
tion there is necessary 

[I.] A heart weaned from the world, Mat. vi. 24, otherwise a man 
will act very uncertainly, and his zeal for God be very uneven. 

YER. 110.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 127 

[2.] A heart entirely devoted to God. Every one that cometh to 
Christ must be thus resolved, Luke xiv. 26. 

[3.] A heart purged from sin, or else our zeal is not uniform, besides 
that our lusts will weaken our courage. A carnal person, suffering in 
a good cause, is of no account with God. The priests were to search 
the burnt-offering if sound, or had any defect or blemish upon them. 
He that keepeth the commandments is best able to suffer for them : 
Mat. v. 10, ' Blessed are they that suffer for righteousness' sake.' A 
martyr must have all the precedent graces. 

[4.] A heart that lieth under a deep sense of eternity, and things to 
come : 1 John v. 4, ' This is the victory we have over the world, even 
our faith.' Not any looking backward, but forward. 


The wicked have laid a snare for me ; yet I erred not from thy 
precepts. VER. 110. 

HERE is the second assault made upon David's integrity, the secret 
snares laid for him. The enemies of God's people do not always go 
to work in the way of open persecution, and directly for righteousness' 
sake ; but then they lay snares ; what they cannot do by open force, 
they seek to do by fraud. Many that have stood out with courage 
against the shock k of violence, have been taken in a snare; as the 
prophet that resisted the king was enticed by the blandishments of 
the old prophet, 1 Kings xiii. Persecution is a more gross way, and 
liable to exception, and therefore they must go secretly to work. 
Sometimes this life is a continued temptation, and a Christian that 
walketh in the world walketh in the midst of snares set for him, by 
his enemies bodily and spiritual. The devjl is the great snare-layer, 
and wicked men learn it of him : ' The wicked have laid a snare for 
me,' &c. In the words observe 

1. David's temptation, a snare laid for him. 

2. The persons who managed the temptation, the wicked. 

3. The success and issue, yet I erred not from thy precepts. 

Dock The godly have often snares laid for them, not only by Satan, 
but by wicked men. 

Now snares are to entice, or endanger, or of a mixed nature. 

1. Snares to entice them from their duty. Thus the blandishments 
of the whorish woman are called a snare : Prov. vii. 23, ' As the bird 
hasteth unto the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life/ Of 
this nature are crafty insinuations, baits of preferment, profit, pleasure, 
or any carnal advantage, to pervert our judgments, and draw us off 
from our duty. 

2. ^ Snares to endanger their safety, clogged with some spiteful 
condition to entrap others, or when there is a plot laid to endanger 
others, as Jeremiah complaineth, Jer. xviii. 22, ' They have digged .a 
pit to take me, they have hid snares for my feet ;' secretly conspired 

1 On the Fifth of November. 


and practised his destruction. And David, Ps. cxl. 5, ' The proud 
have hid a snare for me, and cords ; they have spread a net by the 
wayside, and set gins for my feet. Selah.' Hunters and fowlers did 
never go more cunningly to work to catch the prey, than those proud 
men had laid their design to bring his life under their power. And 
in Ps. xxxv. 7, ' For without cause they have hid for me their net in 
a pit, which without cause they have digged for my soul ;' and Ps. 
Ivii. 6, ' They have prepared a net for my steps ; my soul is bowed 
down : they have digged a pit for me, into the midst whereof they are 
Mien themselves. Selah.' Now of this sort are St Bartholomew's 
matins, and the plot and contrivance to out the Protestants in France, 
when they were invited to a wedding, that they might destroy them ; 
and of this nature was the Gunpowder Treason ; there was a snare 
laid. When Orestes had plotted Clytemnestra's death, Euripides 
expresseth it, fcd\a)s ap apicvv e? pearjv Tropeverai she fitly cometh 
into the snare. 

3. Of a mixed nature, both to entice by endangering, and endanger 
by enticing. 

[1.] As when they put them upon such conditions as may ternpt 
them to folly and sin. Some think the text verified in David, at that 
time when he said, 1 Sam. xxvi. 19, ' They have driven me out from 
abiding in the inheritance of the Lord, saying, Go serve other gods;' 
meaning, they excited Saul to pursue him and persecute him, and 
forced him to flee into an idolatrous country, and so a snare laid to 
endanger his steadfastness in the true faith. It is a great temptation. 
Necessitas cogit ad turpia necessity is but an evil counsellor ; and 
this joined with the other temptation of bad company : Ps. cxx. 5, 
' Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of 

[2.] When they enact a law or statute, whereby to force them to 
sin or trouble ; as they had a plot against Daniel, either to make him 
neglect his God, or render kim obnoxious to authority, Dan. vi. 7, 8. 
When they burden them with such laws and statutes as the godly 
cannot obey without sin, or refuse without danger ; they have their 
ends either to draw them to sin or suffer. 

Now snares are laid by the wicked : 

1. Because usually they excel in policy, craftiness, and worldly wit, 
are superior to God's children therein ; their whole hearts run that 
way, and their principle is entire and unbroken ; and therefore our Lord 
Christ telleth us, Luke xvi. 8, ' For the children of this world are in 
their generation wiser than the children of light.' They applaud 
themselves in their artifices, idolise their wit : Hab. i. 16, ' Sacrifice to 
their net, and burn incense to their drag ; ' therefore use it to the 
saints' destruction. 

2. Because they are acted by Satan, who will ever be doing against 
the church, though to little purpose. Luke xxii. 3, the devil entered 
into Judas when he plotted against Christ. They learn their wiles 
from Satan, and conceive mischief by copulation with the great incu 
bus of hell. 

3. Their own hatred and malice against the people of God. Malice 
is a laying snares. Anger vents itself in a storm of words, or in 

VER. 110.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 129 

some sudden violent action ; but hatred lurketh in the soul, and puts 
them that harbour it upon plots and contrivances of revenge. The 
historian observeth of Tiberius, In malitiam statim invectus est, &c. 
When Absalom hated Amnon, because he forced his sister, he plotteth 
how to take away his life, 2 Sam. xiii. 22. 

Now, whence cometh this malice against the children of God ? 
Either by envy at their interests, or hatred at their holiness. 

1. Envy at their interests, their esteem and respect in the world, 
when they come to be of any regard among men. Esther v. 9, Hainan 
plotteth against Mordecai, because he sat in the king's gate : Ps. cxii. 
9, 10, ' His horn shall be exalted with honour ; the wicked shall see it, 
and be grieved, and gnash with their teeth/ When the gospel was 
like to get credit, Acts xvii. 5, the envious Jews raised an uproar. 
Pride is loath to stoop ; to see opposites in glory and power whets their 
malice, and they contrive how to root them out. Every man would 
have himself and his own faction admired and magnified. The 
Pharisees conspired to take Christ: John xii. 19, 'All the world is 
gone after him/ When religion prevaileth, and groweth in credit and 
fashion, it is deeply resented by naughty men. 

2. Hatred at their holiness. Men cannot endure to be outstripped 
in religion, and therefore hate what they will not imitate. Hatred is 
quick-sighted in revenge, full of plots and contrivances, and tickleth 
the soul with a delight in them ; but especially religious hatred, when 
a man hateth another for his godliness, when religion, instead of a 
party, becomes a judge, that which should restrain our passions feeds 
them ; no hatred so great as that against the power of godliness. 
Cain, when he saw Abel so punctual in God's service, he plotteth to 
draw him into the field, 1 John iii. 12, and beginneth a discourse with 
him about providence and judgment to come, and rewards and punish 
ments, and while Abel maintained God's part, Cain fell upon him and 
slew him. 

To apply this. As these snares tend to our temporal destruction, 
so there is a double use to be made of them. 

1. To trust God with our safety in the rnidst of so many snares. 
What shall we do ? Whatever remedy we have against violence, no 
man by his own foresight can find out all the snares that are laid for 
him ; therefore commit your safety spiritual and temporal to the 
Lord ; go to him and say, Ps. cxli. 9, ' Keep me from the snare they 
have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity/ Constant 
dependence upon God is necessary, for there can be no snare hidden 
from him who watcheth over us and our safety by night and by day. 
There is a double argument why we should trust God with our safety ; 
because of his wisdom, and because of his watchful providence. 
Because of his wisdom. Alas ! we are foolish and simple, and often 
betray ourselves into an evil condition; but God is -wise for them that 
are foolish : Ps. xxxvii. 12, 13, ' The wicked plotteth against the just, 
and gnasheth upon him with his teeth : the Lord shall laugh at him, 
for he seeth that his day is coming/ There is a wise God acting for 
a foolish people. I tell you, the wisdom of God for us is much greater 
than the wisdom of God in us. Where enemies deal proudly, God is 
above them ; where they deal craftily, God is beyond them. The 



wisdom of God for us is greater than ^ the wisdom of any against us. 
And also because of his watchful providence ; he hath a waking love 
and care of us night and day : Ps. cxxi. 4, ' Behold he that keepeth 
Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.' He will be so far from sleep 
ing, that he will not so much as slumber. When, we know nothing, 
his 'providence finds out the secret contrivances that are against us. 
I tell you, God is our father ; he will maintain us and take care for 
us, when we live by faith, and not by shifts, in a good plain downright 
course of honesty :" Gen. xvii. 1, ' I am God all-sufficient : walk before 
me, and be thou perfect ;' that is, they should go on doing their duty, 
and refer the care of their safety to God. Oh ! then, cast yourselves 
upon the Lord ; he will either direct your way to eschew these snares, 
or pluck your feet out of them if you be taken therein : Ps. xxv. 15, 
* Mine eyes are ever towards the Lord ; he shall pluck my feet out of 
the snare/ Look to him for direction and counsel. 

2. Bless God for your safety and preservation; it is a mercy to 
have a being, in the midst of so many dangers and snares as waylay 
us everywhere ; especially should we bless God when we have escaped 
some notable trap and pit that was digged for us : Ps. cxxiv. 7, ' Our 
soul is escaped like a bird out of the snare of the fowler : the snare is 
broken, and we are escaped.' This is a passage we may use to God 
this day. There are two grounds usually of thanksgiving for this 
deliverance : 

[1.] That their devices came to nought : Job xv. 35, ' They con 
ceive mischief and bring forth vanity.' It discovereth the wisdom, 
power, goodness, and watchfulness of God, that this dark and hellish 
machination, that they thought so wisely laid that all devils in hell 
could not discover it, yet the God of heaven brought it to light : Prov. 
xxi. 30, ' There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel against 
the Lord.' 

Those three words set out the quintessence of parts. Wisdom 
noteth a quick apprehension ; understanding a wise foresight grounded 
upon experience ; counsel a designation of some rare artifice : Isa. 
viii. 9, 10, ' Associate yourselves, O ye people, and ye shall be broken 
in pieces ; and all ye of far countries : gird yourselves, and ye shall be 
broken in pieces. Take counsel together, and it shall come to nought ; 
speak the word, and it shall not stand : for God is with us.' 

[2.] The mischief returned back upon themselves : Ps. vii. 15, ' He 
made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made. 
Higgaion. Selah.' Their instruments ; it is a high note that we may 
observe it. An iron heated red-hot burneth their fingers that hold it ; 
they are taken in their own pit, poisoned in their own cup, holden in 
cords of their own vanity, so that in the issue it appeareth they laid a 
snare for themselves rather than for us. 

Use 2. As they are enticements to sin ; so we may make many uses of it. 

1. You ought to ask God's counsel, for you walk in the midst of 
snares, that he would guide you and lead you : Ps. xxvii. 11, ' Teach 
me thy way, Lord ; lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.' 
Those that watch for our halting are many, their craft is great; 
therefore go to the wise God for counsel ; ask of him what your 
way and course shall be, for he seath that which you see not. 

VER. 110.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 131 

2. Get spiritual wisdom and understanding. An ignorant, credulous 
heart is soon seduced, but a man of understanding, that seeth his 
danger, is not easily drawn and allured into it : Prov. i! 17, ' In vain 
is the snare laid in the sight of any bird/ The vain, credulous, 
simple young man is soon enticed by the lewd woman, in the 7th of 
the Proverbs. 

3. Keep the highway of duty, and walk by a sure rule, and then 
you are safe. David saith here, ' I erred not from thy precepts.' In 
a time of snares, often consult with your rule. It is Satan's aim to 
put us out of our way ; as when the fisherman would get the fishes 
into the net, he seeketh to rouse them out of their place. Take a 
man out of God's way, and he becometh a ready prey to Satan. In 
doubtful cases there is no man chooseth the worst, but first he breaketh 
some known rule and clear moral precept. Therefore be punctual, 
and keep close to God's directions in clear and known cases, and 
you are safe. 

4. There needs a mortified heart to worldly interests ; our temporal 
interest is to be shaken off. A man of carnal affections seeketh but the 
snare : Job xviii. 8, ' He is cast into a net by his own feet, and he 
walketh upon a snare.' If we will find the sin and disposition of 
heart, God will find the occasion ; and a man that hath a commodity 
to put off (faith and a good conscience), will soon find a chapman to 
truck with him. Judas was thinking of betraying Christ, and the 
high priests were plotting how to do it just at the same time. 
Worldliness layeth us open to the snare : 1 Tim. vi. 9, ' But they that 
will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish 
and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.' 
But he that is dead to worldly interests remaiueth firm, whatever bait 
be proposed. 

Secondly, We come to the' persons that managed the temptation, 
the wicked : ' The wicked have laid a snare for me/ 

Doct. It is the property of a wicked heart to plot and lay snares 
for the mischief and ruin of others, especially God's people. David 
saith here, ' The wicked have laid snares for me/ 

1. It is a deliberate, voluntary sin ; and the more will and advised- 
ness in any sin, the greater it is. Laying of snares is not a thing done 
in passion, but in cool blood ; there is art and cunning in it, and the 
heart dwelleth long upon it. The will sets the wit a-work, to weave 
the net and frame the device. Involuntarium minuit de ratione 
peccati when a thing is involuntary it lesseneth sin ; a man may be 
overtaken with a fault, Gal. vi. 1. But when he studieth it, it is 
much the worse. God's children are surprised through unwariness, 
and made to stumble in a fit of temptation ; but when men's wits are 
bended to project and plot sin, it is not an infirmity but an iniquity : 
Prov. vi. 14, ' Frowardness is in his heart ; he deviseth mischief con-* 
tinually, he soweth discord/ It is the description of a naughty heart ; 
so the prophet, Micah ii. 1, 'Woe to them that devise iniquity, and 
work evil upon their beds : when the morning is light, they practise it, 
because it is in the power of their hands/ Their wickedness is pre 
meditated, then woe to them. 

2. It is a sign that evil is connatural to them, when they are plotting, 


as poison is to a spider ; they are always working it, never out of their 
way by night and by day, their hearts run upon it : Prov. iv. 16, 
' Whenever they are abroad, they sleep not unless they have done 
mischief, and their sleep is taken away unless they cause some 
to fall.' Then when others cannot rest, they examine themselves. 
Ps. iv. 4, 'Commune with your hearts upon your beds/ When our 
reins should instruct us, and suggest wholesome thoughts to us, Ps. 
xvi. 7 ; or when we should direct our prayer to God in the morning, 
Ps. v. 3, then they employ their thoughts and musings on evil. The 

hurt arid mischief those who are broken loose from him ; it is his 
business to lay snares : 2 Tim. ii. 26, ' And that they may recover 
themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him 
at his will/ When Judas plotteth against Christ, the devil entereth 
into him. So Acts xiii. 10, it is said to Elymas the sorcerer, ' thou 
full of all subtlety and mischief, the child of the devil/ They are like 
the devil in their hatred of God and the truth, and the persecution 
of the church, and like him for subtlety and politic contrivance. 
Bloody designs and inventions are the venom and poison of the old 
serpent sunk into men's hearts; there are both cruelty and lying: 
John viii. 44, ' Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your 
father ye will do : he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode 
not in the truth, because there is no truth in him : when he speaketh 
a lie, he speaketh of his own ; for he is a liar, and the father of it.' 

4. It is a sin contrary to the love of God and man, against double 
light and double obligations, from both the tables : grace arid nature 
condemneth it. It is against God, for if we did love him, we would 
love his image ; the saints that are so near and dear to him, they are 

* his jewels/ Mai. iii. 17 ; they cost him dear ; he gave an infinite 
price for them, the blood of Christ : they are the apple of his eye ; to 
strike at them is to strike at God himself. And it is against man ; if 
reasons of grace do not restrain such, yet reasons of nature should. 
To plot mischief against one that is of the same nature with us, 
natural light will teach us we should do as we would be done by. 
Oh ! what a cruel creature is man to man, when God lets him alone 
to the sway of his own heart and natural fierceness ! 

5. It is contrary to the gentleness and simplicity of the Christian 
religion. Christian religion is a simple and harmless thing : Phil. ii. 
15, ' That ye be holy and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, 
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation;' 2 Cor. 1. 12, 

* This is our rejoicing, that in simplicity and godly sincerity we have 
had our conversation in the world/ It is a sign men have drunk in 
a false religion when their spirits are efferated, and grow monsters in 
wickedness. Men addicted to false worship are subtle and cruel ; 
subtle, for where there is real worth there is no dissimulation; 
they carry things open and fair; they have a God and conscience 
to bear them out, and this is worth all the world ; and if things 
do not suit to their minds, they can tarry God's leisure, without 
base and creeping acts, and underhand designs and machinations > 

VER. 110.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 133 

but a false religion, that hath not a God to depend upon, breedeth 
fears, and fear and pusillanimity puts men upon plots and bloody 
designs, as Herod, when afraid, seeketh craftily to murder Christ, 
Mat. ii. And as a false religion is crafty, so it is mischievous 
and cruel : Jude 11, ' These walked in the way of Cain ;' for a false 
religion cannot subsist without the plots of blood and tyranny and 
cruelty. When Judaism began to fall, the Jews bound themselves 
under an oatli that they would neither eat nor drink till they had 
killed Paul. False worships put men upon a blind zeal, that breaketh 
out in tragical effects. Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum. So 
much of truth, so much of meekness, openness, and plainness, as the 
other is of spite and malice. 

Use. Oh ! then, let the children of God abhor this hateful disposi 
tion ; take heed of those kind of sins that have subtlety and malice in 
them ; these are the devil's sins, the cursed old serpent, that hath 
been a murderer from the beginning ; take heed of plotting mischief, 
and secretly designing the ruin of others. I would have you Chris 
tians, that are of the true religion, carry it meekly towards others ; 
beware of deliberate sins. It is possible in some great temptation the 
children of God may fall into these kind of sins, as David plotted Uriah's 
death ; but that sin was laid to his charge more than all the sins 
that ever he committed. These sins are accompanied with some 
notable affliction and judgment, as on David's sad house ; they leave 
an indelible stain and blemish, and cost us dear : 1 Kings xv. 5, 
' David did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, and turned 
not aside from anything that he commanded him all his days, save in 
the matter of Uriah.' 

How many failings have we left upon record ? His distrust : ' I 
shall one day perish by the hand of iSaul.' His dissimulation, with 
his rash vow to destroy Nabal ; his injustice in the matter of Ziba 
and Mephibosheth ; indulgence to Absalom, numbering the people, 
wherein he showed his carnal confidence. All these are passed over 
in silence, as his infirmities, save only in the matter of Uriah. And 
they will cost dear ; there is always some eminent trouble and afflic 
tion that accompany such sins. When David had sinned in the 
matter of Uriah, what troubles were there in his house; his daughter 
ravished, Amnon slain in his drunkenness, Absalom driveth him from 
his palace royal, and then, poor man, his subjects deserted him, he 
forced to go weeping up and down, and shift for his life ; all Israel 
came to Absalom, his wives defiled by his own son. Thus you see 
what is the fruit of deliberate sins. 

These sins cost us a great deal of bitter sorrow, sighs, and tears, to 
recover our peace and God's love and favour. Again, how bitterly 
did David remember his sin, and beg that God would 'restore to him 
the joy of his salvation ! ' Ps. li. Therefore take heed of deliberate 
sins, when we have time enough to have serious and sufficient con 
sideration of the evil, and yet do it ; when a man knoweth a thing to 
be evil, and yet resolveth to go forward with it. Sin is not done 
suddenly, in heat of blood, but at leisure ; not limited to a minute, 
or an hour, or any short space of time ; and yet to do it, this grieves 
the Spirit, and will cost us dear. 



Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever : for they are 
the rejoicing of my heart. VER. 111. 

IN this notable psalm there are many independent sentences expressing 
David's affection to the word of God. . In this verse you have (1.) 
David's choice, ' Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever.' 
(2.) The evidence of that choice, ' For they are the rejoicing of my 
heart.' I call it the evidence, for so it is a proper demonstration that 
he took God's precepts for his heritage ; this is the mark and sign of 
it, ' They are the rejoicing of my heart.' It did his heart good to 
think of his heritage, and what an ample portion he had in his God. 

First, Let me speak of his choice, whence this observation. It is 
the property of believers to take God's testimonies for their heritage. 
In the management of which truth, I shall show 

1. What are God's testimonies. 

2. What it is to take them for an heritage. 

3. The reason why it is their property to do so. 

1. What are God's testimonies. Any declaration of his will, in 
doctrine, precepts, threatening^, promises. The whole word, it is the 
testimony which God hath proposed for the satisfaction of the world. 
It is God's deposition or testimony, to satisfy men what is his mind 
and will concerning their salvation. God's testimony is the public 
record, that may be appealed unto in all cases of doubt, Ps. xix. 8, 
' The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart,' &c. ; ' The 
testimonies of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple.' By the 
statutes of the Lord, is meant in general the whole counsel of God 
delivered in the word. But then more specially and chiefly they imply 
the evangelical or gospel part of the word, the promises of the covenant 
of grace, Isa. viii. 20, ' To the law and to the testimonies/ Testimony 
in this sense is contradistinguished to the law or God's precepts, what 
is required of us; thus 'the ark of his testimony' is called by that 
name. Mark this notion of calling the word God's testimony ; it shows 
us what regard we should have to the precepts and promises of God ; 
you need regard them, it is God's testimony to you and then against 
you. Christ would have his word preached ' as a testimony against 
them,' Mat. xxiv., a testimony to them that they might know God's 
mind, and then, if it were not received, a testimony against them at 
the last day ; when God comes to judgment, the sinner will be with 
out an excuse, but will not be without a testimony ; every sermon will 
rise up against him in judgment ; it will be a testimony for their con 

And as we should regard his precepts, so it shows in what regard 
his promises are, which are chiefly his testimony ; therefore it is said, 
John iii. 33, ' He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal 
that God is true.' You give God the glory of his truth by venturing 
your souls upon his testimony, whereas otherwise you 'make him a 
liar,' a blasphemy which is most contrary to the glory of his being : 
1 John v. 10, ' He that believeth not makes God a liar/ Look upon 

VER. 111.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 135 

the promises as God's testimonies, you may urge it to your own heart 
and to God. We may urge it to our own heart when we are full of 
doubts and troubles ; here we have God's testimony to show for it, 
' Why do ye doubt, ye of little faith?' Here is God's testimony. 
Nay, it is a testimony under an oath, that the heirs of promise might 
want no satisfaction, Heb. vi. 18. If we had but God's bare word it 
should beget faith, for God stands much upon his truth ; but we have 
his oath, his hand and seal. Why ! after such a solemn assurance shall 
I make God a liar, as being in doubtful suspense ? And they are a 
testimony which you may produce to God himself : Lord, thou hast 
said, and here is a promise wherein thou hast caused me to hope ; I 
expect nothing but what thou wilt perform. Look, as Tamar showed 
the tokens to Judah when he was about to condemn her, showed him 
the ring and the staff as a testimony, and said, Whose are these? 
Gen. xxxviii. 25, you put God in mind of his promise ; here is the 
testimony he hath called you to these hopes whereby you should wait 
upon him. How shall we take it here ? for the precepts of God, or the 
promises, or both ? Surely the precepts of the word are the heritage, 
or the gospel and treasure of the church, a treasure not to be valued ; 
and every single believer is to take up his share, and count them his 
treasure and his heritage. No man can take the promissory part of 
the word for his heritage, but he is to take the mandatory part also ; 
as in every bond and indenture the conditions must be kept on both 
sides. So if you should take it for the whole covenant of God, wherein 
God is bound to us and we to God, there were no incongruity. Yet 
the notion of an heritage is most proper to the promises, and these are 
the rejoicing of our soul, the foundation of our solid comfort and hope. 
The promises are a witness in our hearts how he stands affected to us, 
of which we are most apt to doubt through our unbelief. Natural 
light will convince us of the justice and equity of his precepts ; there 
fore by the special use of the word the promises of God are called his 
heritage. Again, the promises are put for the things promised, and 
testimonies for the things contained and revealed in them ; for the 
promises properly are not our heritage, but they are the evidences, the 
charters which we have to show for our heritage. The blessings of 
the covenant are properly our heritage, and the promises are the assur 
ance and conveyances by which this heritage is made over to us. As 
we say a man's estate lies in bonds and leases, meaning he hath these 
things to show as his right to such an estate ; so the promises, that is 
the blessings contained, or the testimony revealed there, they are the 
things a believer takes for his portion. Thus I have showed what is 
meant by the testimonies of God. 

2. What is it to take them for our heritage ? There are two words, 
heritage, and I have taken them. The word heritage first notes the 
substance of our portion, or what we count our solid and principal 
estate ; secondly, it notes our right and propriety in it ; thirdly, the 
kind of tenure by which w r e* hold it ; fourthly, many times actual 
possession. Now saith David, I have taken ; that implies actual choice 
on our part. We are not born heirs to this estate, but we take it, we 
choose it for our portion. And mark, he doth not say they are, but I 
have taken them for iny heritage. Every believer cannot say, These are 


mine, they are my heritage, for everyone hath not assurance; but yet 
every one should say, ' I have taken them,' there I look for my happi 
ness; for every believer is alike affected, though not alike assured. 
David doth not here so expressly mention his interest, though that is 
implied, as his choice. Briefly, to take God's testimony for our heri 
tage implies four things : 

[1.] To count them our choicest portions. Let others do what they 
will, this is my share, my lot, my portion, saith David ; that which I 
esteem to be my happiness ; this is as lands, goods, treasures to me, 
dearer and nearer than all temporal things whatsoever. Look, as a 
believer in the duty part of religion takes the precepts for his coun 
sellor, so David saith, Ps. cxix. 24, ' Thy testimonies also are my 
delight and my counsellors,' or the men of my counsel. Answerably 
in the happy part, they are my heritage and the rejoicing of my soul ; 
it is my wealth, my treasure, my chief estate. Every man is known 
by the choice of his portion ; now David was not taken up with any 
worldly thing, so as to make that his heritage, or account it his solid 
happiness, wherein his soul could find complacency and contentment. 

[2.] It signifies to make it our work to get and keep up an interest 
in God's testimonies ; this is to take them for our heritage. Esteem 
is manifested by prosecution. That which is our chiefest work, that 
shows us what we take to be our heritage. What 1 is it to grow great 
in the world, to shine in pomp, to flow in pleasure, or to get and main 
tain an interest in the covenant? What do we seek first? Is it ' the 
kingdom of God and his righteousness' ? Mat. vi. 33. The main care 
is to make sure an interest in the covenant, to get a right and pro 
priety in it. 

[3.] To hold all by this tenure : heritage is a child's tenure. We do 
not come to this right by our own purchase, but as heirs of Christ ; not 
by our own merits, but by adoption, God making us children and 
'joint-heirs with Christ,' Bom. viii. 17; ' and if children, then heirs; 
heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.' Adam's tenure was that of 
a servant ; the blessings that he expected from God, by virtue of the 
covenant of works, he looked upon them as wages of obedience ; but 
now, we take the promises as an heritage, as a right devolved upon us 
as heirs of Christ, because believers are called the seed of Christ, and 
upon the account of that are possessed of the privileges of the cove 
nant : Isa. liii. 10, ' He shall see his seed, and the pleasure of the Lord 
shall prosper in his hands/ This is a heritage purchased for us before 
we were born, before we had done either good or evil ; and we have 
the right and title of sons, John i. 12 ; he hath given us this privilege 
to be the sons of God. Whatever we receive, we receive it from God 
as a child's portion. 

[4.] Heritage signifies actual use and possession, and living upon 
them ; and so I have taken thy testimonies for my heritage ; that is, 
I mean to live upon them, and fetch all my comforts thence. A be 
liever's interest is not an imaginary thing. We do enjoy somewhat by 
virtue of the promises. It is true our full fruition is suspended till 
hereafter, but we begin here. The testimonies of the Lord they are of 
present use in the present life ; therefore we are said to be ' Heirs 
according to the hope of eternal life/ Titus iii. 7. God doth not take 


us to heaven presently upon our spiritual nativity or new birth. It 
pleaseth God to exercise us for a while in our nonage, under tutors 
and governors, and to make us differ little from servants ; but for the 
present we have maintenance, we live by faith, Gal. ii. 20. We live 
upon our heritage, and fetch thence not only peace and righteousness 
and grace, but meat, drink, and clothing, protection, and defence. So 
that to take God's testimonies for our heritage is to live upon them as 
far as the present state will permit, to fetch out all our supplies from 
the covenant ; otherwise we should make the promises to be but a con 
ceit and imagination, if they did not afford present support. A 
believer doth not live upon outward supplies only, but upon the cove 
nant ; not upon meat and drink, food and raiment, but he fetcheth all 
from the covenant, by the exercise of faith, and so these things are 
sanctified to him. So that to take them as our heritage is to make 
them the grounds of our future hopes, and the storehouse from whence 
we receive our present supply. And this is that which is called living 
by faith, fetching all our supports and supplies out of the promises : 
Gal. ii. 20, 'All that Hive in the flesh 7 (so in the original), ' I live by 
the faith of the Son of God/ 

3. For the reasons, why it is the property of believers to take the 
testimony of God for their heritage; before I come to that, first, I 
must show what kind of heritage it is ; secondly, How believers only, 
and no others, can take them from their heritage. 

[1.] What kind of heritage it is. It is a heritage which exceeds all 
others in three particulars it is full, it is sure, it is lasting ; therefore 
we must pitch upon it for our solid happiness. 

(1.) It is a full heritage, and nothing can be added to the complete 
ness of our portion ; for in the promises here is God, heaven, earth, 
providences, ordinances, all made ours, and all inward comforts and 
graces they are a part of our portion ; and what can a soul desire more ? 
Here is God made over to us ; the great blessing of the covenant is, I 
am thy God. Other men say (and they will think it a great matter when 
they can say), This kingdom is mine, this lordship is mine, this house, these 
fields are mine ; but a believer can say, this God, this Christ, this Holy 
Spirit is mine. Alas ! riches and honour and worldly greatness are poor 
things to a God made ours in covenant. Nay, mark the emphasis ; God 
is not only ours, but ours as an heritage : Ps. xvi. 5, ' The Lord is the 
portion of mine inheritance. 1 They may claim a title to God, and 
enjoy the possession of God as freely as a man would do his own 
inheritance. I say, they have as sure a right to God, and all that he is 
and can do, as a man can have to the patrimony whereunto he is born. 
And as the Lord is theirs, so heaven and earth are both theirs. Heaven 
is theirs : let a believer be never so despicable in the world, yet he is 
an heir-apparent to the kingdom of heaven, James ii. 15. Though, it 
may be, you are poor persons, nothing to live upon ; poor apprentices, 
nothing to set up withal, yet ' God hath chosen the poor of this world 
to be heirs of a kingdom/ Poor believers are but princes in disguise, 
princes in a foreign country, and under a veil ; they have a large 
patrimony ; it lies indeed in an unknown land to the world, it is in 
terra incognita to them ; but believers know what an ample portion 
God hath laid up for them, heirs of a kingdom. If that be not enough, 


take that other expression, Born. viii. 17, ' Heirs, co-heirs with Christ/ 
Christ as mediator, and we as members of his body, possess the same 
God, one father, one husband, one estate ; we dwell together, live 
together ; where he is we are. Besides God and heaven there is the 
world too. Here is the difficulty, how a Christian, that hath not 
a foot of land, yet should be heir of all the world. All things are 
theirs, saith the apostle, 1 Cor. iii. 21. And it is said of Abraham, 
who was ' the father of the faithful/ and whose blessing comes upon 
us, that through the righteousness of faith he became ' heir of the 
world/ He was re-established in the right which Adam had before 
the fall, that wherever God should cast his portion, he should look 
upon it as made over to him by grace, as a sanctified portion belonging 
to the covenant ; and in this sense he was heir of the whole world. 
All creatures are sanctified to a believer, and the comfortable enjoy 
ment of them fall to our lot and share ; and therefore, 1 Tim. iv. 5, it 
is said, ' commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created 
to be received with thanksgiving, to them that believe and know the 
truth/ Mark, believers only have a covenant right to meat, drink, 
land, money, and the things that are possessed in the world, to make 
use of the good creatures God hath bestowed upon them. Others are 
not usurpers ; I dare not say so. All men have a providential right ; 
it is ' their portion God hath given them in this world ; ' but they have 
not a covenant right. Whatever of the world falls to their share comes 
to them in a regular way of providence, that shall be sanctified, and 
truly without this covenant right, if we had all earthly possessions, it 
would be a mere nothing, and no blessing. Once more, providence is 
theirs, even those things which are against us, afflictions, death ; not 
only life, but death, 1 Cor. iii. 22, as part of their portion. Ordi 
nances are theirs, all the gifts of the church, Paul, Apollos, Cephas, 
all for their benefit. And graces are theirs ; the righteousness of Christ 
and the graces of the Spirit, they are all a part of their portion, made 
over to them by virtue of God's testimony. As to the righteousness of 
Christ, it is said of Noah, Heb. 11, 7, that he ' became an heir of the 
righteousness which is by faith.' The great legacy which Christ hath 
left is his righteousness. As Elijah when he went to heaven leftElisha 
his cloak or mantle, so when Christ went to heaven, he left the garment 
of his righteousness behind him as a legacy to the church, in confi 
dence whereof we appear before God. Look, as fathers leave lands to 
their children, and such as they have, so Christ hath left us what he had. 
In the outward estate we are despicable. Silver and gold he hath not 
left us, that is no solid portion ; but he hath left us his righteousness 
and obedience, as a ground of our acceptance with God. No monarch 
in the world can leave us such a portion ; it cost Christ very dear to 
purchase it for us. Then the graces of the Spirit ; we have grace 
enough to maintain our expenses to heaven, and carry us on till we 
come to the full enjoyment of our portion. Thus God in covenant, 
heaven, earth, whatever is great and magnificent, the ordinances of the 
church, the graces of the Spirit, all these belong to our heritage; it is 
a full portion. 

(2.) It is a sure portion, both on God's part and ours. On God's 
part, there we have his word, and that is better than all the assurance 

VER. 111.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 139 

in the world : ' He hath magnified that above all his name,' Ps. 
cxxxviii. 2. If we had but God's single word, that is enough, for God 
is very tender of his word, more than of heaven and earth ; and all 
things he hath made : ' Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word 
shall not pass away.' Then we have it confirmed with an oath, Heb. 
vi. 6, 7. God thought our heritage could never stand upon terms sure 
enough, therefore he condescended to give us an oath over and above 
his word. An oath is given in a doubtful matter. But now because 
unbelief possibly might not be satisfied with God's bare word, he hath 
interposed by an oath, and pawned all his holiness and glory, laid 
them at pledge with the heirs of promise, 'that they might have 
strong consolation,' for that is the effect of God's oath, when the Lord 
swears, ' As I live, saith the Lord ; ' as if he should say, Take my life 
in pawn, count me not an excellent, glorious, holy God, if I do not 
accomplish this for you : I will make good this promise. There is no 
inheritance in the world so sure as this, made over to the heirs of pro 
mise. And then on our part, there it is made sure. God will main 
tain our right to this inheritance. We should embezzle our inherit 
ance, lose it every hour, if it were wholly committed to us ; but mark, 
' Thou art the portion of mine inheritance, thou shalt maintain my lot, 
Lord/ Ps. xvi. 5. A heritage is either wasted by the prodigality of 
the owner, or else wrested from us by the violence and cunning of 
others. Now, for the prodigal disposition of the owner : indeed we 
should spend our patrimony apace, soon embezzle our portion, if we 
had the sole keeping of it, for we are prodigals. But mark, under the 
law, Exod. xxv. 23, an Israelite, though he might alienate his inherit 
ance for a while, till the year of jubilee came, yet God forbids him to sell 
it away for ever. So we blot our evidences often, we cannot read our 
title ; there is an interruption of comfort, a kind of sequestration from 
the privileges of the covenant for a while ; but Jesus Christ is our 
guardian to look after them that take the promises for their heritages. 
And then it cannot be wrested from us by the violence of others. All 
heritages in the world are liable to violences. Princes have been 
driven from their kingdoms, and men from their heritages ; but this is 
a heritage God will maintain ; he hath engaged his own power : John 
x. 28, ' No man is able to pluck them out of my hand.' It shall not 
be wrested from us by any pleas in law. The devil would soon pick a 
flaw in our title, there are so many temptations and accusations ; but 
now God will maintain our right and possession of the privileges of 
the covenant. He is deeply engaged to maintain their right whose 
hearts depend upon him : they may take away life, but not the favour 
of God. 

(3.) It is a most lasting and durable inheritance, as being eternal : 
'I have taken thy testimonies for my heritage for ever' You know 
all estates are valuable according as they last. A lease for years is 
better than to be tenant at will, an inheritance is better than a lease. 
Our inheritance lasts for ever and ever. All other heritages determine 
with life, but then ours begins this heritage of God's testimonies. 
A worldly portion may crumble away and waste to nothing before we 
die, but these testimonies will give us a good estate when all things 
else fail. A believer, when he is stripped of all, and reduced to bare 


promises, is a happy man ; and when he is reduced to exigencies, then 
is the time to put the bonds in suit. God by promise hath made him 
self a debtor : ' As having nothing, yet possessing all things/ 2 Cor. 
vi. 10. They have all things in the promise, though nothing in sense. 
If we have but one gracious promise left to subsist upon, we cannot 
be poor ; it is better riches than all the world, for then our right to 
God and eternal life still remaineth. If an estate here should last till 
death, yet then certainly men try the weakness of their portion. When 
other men find the worthlessness and baseness of their portion, you find 
the sweetness, fulness, and comfort of yours. Carnal men have but 
an estate for life at best : Luke xvi. 25, ' Son, in thy lifetime thou 
receivedst thy good things ; ' when they come to die they can look for 
no more; then they find the gnawing worm of conscience prove 
matter of vexation and torment ; but then your heritage comes to the 
full : Ps. Ixxiii. 26, ' My flesh and my heart faileth ; but God is the 
strength of my heart, and my portion for ever/ Not only when all 
outward comforts fail, all creatures in the world have spent their 
allowance, but when the flesh begins to fail, when we consume and 
faint away, and hasten to the grave : Lord, then thou failest not, thou 
art the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. We have an 
interest in the eternal God, and we shall live eternally to enjoy him. 
God lives for ever, and we live for ever, that we may enjoy God. 

[2.] Now I come to give the reasons why it is the property of be 
lievers to choose this for their portion, and why no others can do it. 
It is the property of believers to do so upon two grounds : 

(1.) Because of the wisdom that is in faith. Faith is a spiritual 
prudence. You shall see faith is opposed not only to ignorance, but to 
folly, because it teacheth us to make a wise choice. Eeason makes us 
wise to choose a good portion in this world : ' The children of this 
world are wiser in their generation than the children of light/ Luke 
xvi. 9. But faith is for the inward and spiritual life. Worldly men 
are wise in worldly employments, to make a wise choice, and accomplish 
such things they affect, turn and wind in the world ; there they excel 
the children of God ; but faith makes us wise for eternity, and there 
fore it chooseth the better portion. Faith is a spiritual light, and 
seeth a worth in other things. It is a notable saying, Prov. xxiii. 4, 
' Labour not to be rich : cease from thine own wisdom/ How came 
these two things to be coupled ? If we had no better wisdom than 
our own, we should spend our time, strength, and care to labour to be 
rich. Human wisdom doth only incline and enable us to the affairs 
of the present life, but God infuseth a supernatural light into the 
saints ; they have counsel from the Lord : Ps. xvi. 7, ' I will bless the 
Lord, who hath given me counsel : my reins also instruct me in the 
night seasons.' As if he had said, Ah ! Lord, if I am left to myself, 
and the workings of my own natural spirit, I should be as vain and 
foolish as others are ; but thou hast given me counsel. 

(2.) The next reason is, because of the nobleness and height of 
spirit that is in faith. Faith will not be satisfied with any slight 
fancies ; it must have better things than the world yieldeth. The 
great privilege of the covenant and work of grace is to give us a new 
heart ; that is, another manner of spirit than we had before. Our 

VER. 111.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 141 

natural spirit is the spirit of the world, a cheap, vile, low spirit, that 
will be satisfied with every base thing. Every man seeketh something 
for his portion, for no man hath sufficiency in himself, but seeketh it 
without. Natural men go no further than the world, riches, honour, 
pleasure ; they seek it some in one thing, some in another. There is 
none more unsatisfied than a worldly man, for his heart cannot find 
rest, and yet none are sooner satisfied. A worldly man is not dainty, 
but taketh up what is next at hand. You think there is no such ex 
cellent-spirited men as they that have high designs in the world, and 
can achieve greatness and honour. But a poor Christian is of a more 
excellent spirit ; these things will not give him contentment, nothing 
on this side God. Faith yieldeth a man a choice spirit, it maketh us 
take the testimonies of the Lord for our heritage. A renewed soul 
it hath its aspirings ; it gets up to God, and will not be satisfied with 
worldly delights ; but ' thou art my portion, saith my soul/ Lam. iii. 
24. Others hunt after other things beneath God, heaven, the graces 
of the Spirit, the righteousness of Christ. Therefore thus it must needs 
be the property of God's children, because they have another under 
standing and another heart. And then none but the children of God 
can have these privileges. Why? Because though they are very 
magnificent and glorious, yet they are invisible, and for the most part 
future and to come ; they make no fair show in the flesh ; this is 
hidden manna, meat and drink the world knows not of. Carnal men 
look upon an estate that lies in the covenant to be but a notion and 
mere conceit, and they cannot believe they shall be provided for if 
God bears the purse for them ; they cannot live immediately upon 
God, they must have something visible, outward, and glorious : and 
partly this inheritance is to come, therefore they cannot have this 
property : Heb. vi. 12, * Be ye followers of them who through faith 
and patience inherit the promises.' The testimonies of the Lord are 
an inheritance we cannot come at presently, there needs a great deal 
of faith and patience in waiting upon God : as a hired servant must 
have money from quarter to quarter, and cannot with the child expect 
when the inheritance will befall him. A carnal heart dares not trust 
God, cannot tarry his leisure ; wicked men ' have their reward/ Mat. 
vi. 2 ; they must have present wages, glory, honour, and profit here ; 
they discharge God of other things, because it is a thing which costs 
them much waiting. A humble dependence upon God conflicts with 
many difficulties and hardships. Carnal men see no beauty in it, and 
because it is to come, it turns their stomachs. 


Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever : for they are 
the rejoicing of my heart. VER. 111. 

USE 1. It informs us what is the reason why a believer, that hath 
nothing in hand, nothing to live upon, yet is not only patient, but com 
fortable and joyful, as the men of the world when their corn, wine, and 


oil increase. Whence are these men maintained, supplied, and kept at 
such a rate of cheerfulness ? Their inheritance lies in the promise. 
As Christ said, ' I have meat and drink the world knows not of ;' so 
they have land and estate the world knows not of ; they have all in 
God. You account him a richer man that hath much land, and a 
thousand pounds in bonds, than he that hath only a hundred pounds 
in ready money; so a child of God that hath one promise is richer 
than all the world : he hath bonds, and his debtor cannot fail him. 
Let me tell you, a man may not only live by faith, but he may grow 
rich by faith. You read of living by faith, Gal. ii. 20 ; this is that 
which supports and keeps up a believer in heart and life. This will 
not only keep body and soul together, but help us to grow rich. 

Use 2. For examination. You have heard much what it is to have 
an heritage in the testimonies of the Lord. Oh 1 but who is the man ? 
Try yourselves. Let me propound a few plain questions. 

1. Were you ever chased out of yourselves in the sense of the 
insufficiency of your worldly portion, and the curse due to you ? Are 
you driven out of yourselves ? Heb. vi. 18, there is a comfortable 
place : ' God, willing to show unto the heirs of promise the immuta 
bility of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable 
things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a 
strong consolation.' Oh ! who are these heirs of promise ? If we 
could find out that, we are sure there is enough in God ; there they 
are named who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set 
before us. There is none ever took the testimony of the Lord for their 
portion, but they came first to take hold of it as men in danger, ready 
to sink and perish and be undone. Our first redress is to take sanc 
tuary in the covenant, to flee to Christ, represented there as a city of 
refuge, that we may be safe. It is an allusion to a man which fled 
from the avenger of blood. When taken out of the city of refuge, 
under the law he was to die without remedy. So a poor soul that 
first takes hold of the covenant runs for sanctuary there first, before 
he comes to take possession of the comforts of it. 

2. What do you take to be your main and your great work ? Do 
you make it your main care to keep up your interest in the promises ? 
the great business you drive on, you would sit down in as your work 
and employment ? What do you wait upon as your great project and 
design in the world ? Mary chose the better part, Luke x. 42 ; do 
you make this your choice, your work and business you drive on, that 
you may be possessed of the whole land of promise, and enjoy eternal 
life, and clear up your right and title to heaven ? 1 Tim. vi. 19, 
' Laying up in store a good foundation against the time to come, that 
they may lay hold of eternal life/ 

3. Are you very chary of your Interest ? Oh ! you would not 
hazard it upon such easy terms. This is that all your happiness de 
pends upon. What ! shall I break with God for such a trifle ? Are 
you afraid to lose your inheritance by sin, as a man his treasure by 
theft ? Are you careful and wary in this kind, that you may not 
hazard your interest ? 1 Kings xxi. 3, said Naboth, ' God forbid that 
I should sell mine inheritance.' Mark, there was a king would 
traffic with him, and that inheritance was but a poor vineyard of the 

VER. 111.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 143 

earth, but it was that which was descended from his father : now 
God forbid I should sell it. Thus will be the disposition of God's 
children. Oh ! here lies my all, my happiness, my daily supplies from 
God. God forbid that upon every trifle and carnal satisfaction I 
should break with God. It was a great profaneness in Esau, Heb. 
xii. 16, ' who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright/ It is an 
argument that God is little valued, or the covenant and testimony of 
the Lord, when you can part with them for a mess of pottage, when 
the consolations of God are so cheap, and you can part with them for 
a little temporal satisfaction, and sell your part in Christ at a very 
easy rate. 

4. What respect do you bear to the promises of God ? Do you often 
meditate upon them ? Have you recourse to them in straits ? Do 
you keep them up as the choicest things upon your heart, upon which 
all your comfort depends, as a man would keep the key safe which 
opens to all his treasure ? Do you carry the promises as a bundle of 
myrrh in your bosom ? Because this is the key that gives you ad 
mission to the blessings promised. A man will keep his bonds chary, 
and will be often looking over them and considering them. So are 
you meditating upon the promises ? Are they the rejoicing and 
delight of your souls ? Do you keep them near and dear to you ? 
When alone, do your hearts run upon them ? For a man may know 
his heritage by his musing and imagination. When Nebuchadnezzar 
was alone, ' Is not this great Babel which I have built for the honour 
of my majesty ?' He was thinking of his large territories. So if you 
have taken the testimonies of the Lord for your heritage, your heart 
will be running upon them. Oh ! what a happiness is it tor God to 
be my God, and my interest cleared up in eternal life, and the great 
things of the covenant ! Many times the flesh interposeth : Ps. cxliv. 
15, ' Happy is that people that is in such a case.' You will be ad 
miring carnal excellency sometimes, but then you will check your 
souls : ' Yea, rather, happy is that people whose God is the Lord.' 

5. If the testimonies of the Lord be your heritage, then you will 
live upon them, and make them the storehouse from whence you 
fetch all your supplies, as righteousness, peace, comfort, and spiritual 
strength ; nay, all your outward maintenance. This will be comfort 
in straits, strength in duty, provision for your families. There are 
two sorts of the children of God, either those that are in prosperity, or 
those that are in want, and both live on the covenant. A child of God 
that hath a plentiful affluence of outward comforts, yet he doth live 
upon God, 1 Tim. iv. 5, to them that believe, for everything is sanc 
tified by the word and prayer. Though God hath supplied them with 
mercy, yet they have their right ; all comforts and blessings owe their 
rise from the promise. I take them immediately out of God's hand, 
from a God in covenant with me ; and so I use the blessing and praise 
God. Otherwise, if you look only to present supplies, you live by 
sense, not by faith. Every one is to say, ' Give us this day our daily 
bread/ to fetch out his supplies from God every day, rich men as 
well as others, when you see you have a right and liberty by Christ. So 
God's leave and God's blessing go along with all ; by this means rich 
men live upon the covenant. Ay ! but chiefly in want ; the word 


quickened and strengthened him when he was in distress and in want 
of all things. Do you find the word afford maintenance in distress 
and want of all things ? The covenant is a storehouse that never foils. 
When all else fails, God is alive still, and the promises are the same ; 
when the field yields no meat, when there are no calves in the 
stall, &c., yet then you can live upon your covenant interest, and 
comfort yourselves in the Lord your God, Hab. iii. 18. Though the 
course of nature may fail, yet the covenant of God doth not fail, for 
that is beyond the course of nature, or beyond the common providence 
of God. When you can see that all the accidents which fall out in 
the world can never take your portion from you, you have enough to 
live upon ; when you see more in the promises than the creature can 
take away from you, and can see all made up in God. As the children 
of Israel in the wilderness had no house, but, Lord, ' thou art our 
dwelling-place/ Ps. xc. 1. Faith gets a living from promises when 
nothing comes to hand in sense and outward feeling ; and nothing can 
be taken from us but what the covenant can restore again, and to 
fetch quickening arid support from heaven. 

Use 3. For exhortation, to press you to take God's promises for an 
heritage ; the poorest, that are born to nothing, may put in for a 
share. Take those motives : 

1. Consider every man hath an heritage, he hath a chief good : Ps. 
iv. 6, ' Many say, Who will show us any good ?' There is something 
that man takes to be his happiness. The soul in itself is a chaos of 
desires ; like a sponge that sucks and thirsts, it hath not sufficiency 
in itself ; it was made for something without ourselves. Now man. 
being such a needy creature, is always looking abroad for a happiness, 
for a portion to maintain and keep him up in comfort and life, Every 
man must have a portion. Men are not men without looking after 
something to maintain them as a portion. Now there is no portion 
like this, like the testimony of the Lord ; there is none so full as this, 
God's covenant notion is all-sufficiency ; here is all things to be found 
in God. When God came to indent with Abraham, ' I am God all- 
sufficient.' He that hath the testimony of the Lord for his portion, 
hath God's all-sufficiency engaged to give him everything he stands in 
need of. 

2. This is a portion will go along with you wherever you go. If 
you go into exile, a foreign land, into prison, into the grave, your 
heritage will follow you there. Your estate, though it lay in jewels, 
cannot be carried safe with you ; but this portion you may carry with 
you, they cannot plunder and deprive you of it. There is a notable 
expression : Prov. xiv. 14, ' A good man shall be satisfied from him 
self/ A very strange expression : it is the highest sacrilege and usurp 
ation that can be to be sufficient to ourselves ; it is an encroachment 
upon God. Man, when he first fell from God, self was the next pre 
tender. To seek that in ourselves which is only found in God, now 
is it meant a good man shall be satisfied from himself ? 'What ! shall 
the Lord be laid aside ? shall he be sufficient to his own happiness ? 
No ; it is not meant in opposition to God, but in opposition to external 
things that lie without him. He is satisfied from himself ; that is, 
from the comfort God lets into his own heart. A godly man is in- 

VER. 111.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 145 

dependent, his comfort doth not hang upon the creature ; if you take 
away the creature, you do not take away his portion. As the philo 
sopher could say, when all were he wail ing the loss and spoil of the 
enemy, I carry all mine with me ; so a Christian carries all his trea 
sure about him. There is the same expression, Heh. x. 34, * Ye took 
joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have 
in heaven a better and an enduring substance.' A Christian hath a 
substance that is out of the reach of spoiling, since inward comfort is 
far better than riches, and all this lumber that is without. 

3. All other things will never give you satisfaction. A worldly 
heritage may give us a bellyful, but cannot give us a heartfal : Ps. 
xvii. 14, ' Their bellies are rilled with hid treasure.' They which are 
rich and great in the world have more dishes at their tables, but 
those have a more delicious feast in their souls that have chosen God 
for their portion. All other heritages do but yield more matter for 
sin, more fuel for wickedness, to be spent upon lust, pride, luxury, 
appetite ; that is all the difference. The heart of man is not satis 
fied with these things ; and yet if the heart could be satisfied, con 
science could not, for that is a sore place ; still our sore will run upon 
us. Thus you see there is no heritage like this, that lieth out of the 
reach of the world, and that will fill up the whole heart, and yield 
satisfaction. You know all other things cannot help us in many 
worldly cases. In sickness spiritual comfort doth only relish of sweet 
ness. A man doth never relish the comfort of the covenant as when 
he is under sickness, and-deprived of other things. For all other heri 
tages, we know the best of them at first, but this is a heritage that grows 
upon us ; here we have the pledge and earnest of our inheritance : an 
earnest is a small thing to bind the bargain in lieu of a greater sum. 

4. This heritage sanctifies all our heritages. Oh ! it is a sad thing 
to enjoy a heritage with a curse and the wrath of God. ' First seek 
the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all other things shall 
be added ;' then they are cast in over and above, as paper and pack 
thread into the bargain, and are cast in in a sanctified way. A man 
may grow worse for every other portion, all the world will not bring 
one dram of grace ; but this improves the world, and betters us. 

5. Again, this is a good sign of adoption, when we have the spirit 
of God's children, both in God's gift and our choice. When men 
take the promises for their portion, it is a sign they have a good spirit. 
There is no mark put upon them that have an excellent disposition 
and dexterity to grow great in the world ; but to be labouring and 
striving after an interest in the testimony of the Lord, it is a sign we 
have a child's spirit. 

6. Again, this is a peculiar portion, and always goes along with the 
favour of God. Other things a man may have with the hatred of God ; 
God giveth gifts to all his creatures. Isaac had the inheritance, but 
the children of the concubines had gifts. So every creature may have 
common gifts, a common portion, abundance of supplies in outward 
things, but no right in the promises of God ; and all this may be with 
out the love of God. 

7. Again, they that refuse this heritage the Lord will cause his 
vengeance to seize upon them. It is not arbitrary whether you will 



take the testimony of the Lord for your heritage or no. God cannot 
endure to be despised. When Nabal despised David's kindness, ' I 
will cut off every one that pisseth against the wall.' So when the 
Lord hath made such an offer of himself and his Christ in covenant, 
and love hath gone to the uttermost to save, and we turn hack, then 
' snares, and brimstone, and a horrible tempest, this shall be the por 
tion of their cup,' Ps. xi. 6. It would make a man's heart tremble 
to think of the heirs-apparent of the land of darkness, that is, wicked 
men : God will give them their portion with hypocrites in ' everlasting 
burnings.' Therefore take heed of refusing this portion ; you can 
look for nothing but terrible things from God, for his love is despised. 
Well, then, go in God's name, and take hold of the covenant. 

Again, this may be of use to press believers to live answerable to 
such an heritage. Am I an heir of heaven, and so uncomfortable and 
dejected ? Can I have an interest in the promises and be no more 
affected ? This returning upon our hearts, Kom. viii. 31. When the 
apostle had spoken that we should be co-heirs with Christ, and laid 
forth the privileges of the covenant, he concludes, ' What shall we say 
to these things ? ' So, Christians, go home, return upon your heart, 
and say, Have I an interest in him, and live at such a low rate both for 
comfort and grace ? Do I walk in such a low and unsuitable manner ? 
Do I look upon this as the only sure heritage for my soul. Urge your 
heart with such questions as these. 

Doct. 2. The taking of God's testimonies for our heritage breeds 
joy and rejoicing in the heart. 

Now this joy ariseth partly from the portion itself, partly from the 
disposition of the saints, and partly from the dispensation of God. 

1. From the portion itself. It is a portion that deserves to be re 
joiced in, it is so full, and God cannot be possessed without great 
joy. A man cannot think of a little pelf and worldly riches that is 
his own without some comfort ; and can a man think of these great 
things without comfort ? Consider both what we have in hand and 
hope, and still it is matter of joy. In hand, there is reconciliation 
with God. Oh, to have God in amity with us ! Rom. v. 1. If one 
have but a great man to his friend, it comforts him that he hath 
such a prop and stay. Oh, but now to have God reconciled ! And 
then to have the care of providence, to have God engaged as a father 
God caring for us to be under a promise that he will never fail us 
till he hath brought us to heaven. And then to have heaven kept for 
us, those glorious things : ' We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.' 
Joy is pitched upon our hopes in many places, something in possession, 
and something in reversion ; this must needs breed a joy in our soul : 
Heb. iii. 6, 'The rejoicing of hope;' and Eom. xii. 12, 'Rejoice in 
hope.' A Christian hath cause to rejoice for what he hath in hand. 
God is at peace with him, he can go to him as a friend, as a God in 
covenant with him ; he is bound to provide for him as a father ; and 
then, at the end of all, a glorious happiness that is to be enjoyed. 

2. It ariseth from the disposition of the hearts of God's people ; 
partly from their esteem, their faith, their assurance ; they take it for 
their heritage, they esteem it as their portion, they believe it, and re 
flect upon their own interest ; and all this causeth joy. It comes from 

VER. 111.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 147 

their esteem; that which I esteem I will delight in: Mat. vi. 21. 'Where 
the treasure is, there will the heart be.' Affection follows esteem, 
and above all the affection of delight. A man may desire a thing that 
is nothing worth ; when he comes to enjoy it, then he slights it. We 
are not acquainted with the imperfection of all worldly things until we 
come to enjoy them ; but delight, that is an argument of esteem, the 
choicest affection. And then it comes from faith. Many hear of such 
great promises, but they hear like men in a dream. But now a believer, 
that hath a piercing sight, that seeth the reality and truth of them, 
his heart leaps within him. Heb. xi. 13, it is said, ' These all died 
in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar 
off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them/ When a man 
is persuaded of the truth, the reality, and goodness of the promise, oh ! 
his heart leaps. They hugged the promises. Here is a promise that 
will yield glory, heaven, and happiness, and all that I stand in need 
of. Spiritual sight makes way for spiritual persuasion, and spiritual 
persuasion for holy rejoicing ; that is the order : ' In whom believing, 
we were filled with joy/ Faith is the immediate ground ; and that is 
the reason why carnal men do not feel such lively joy, they do not be 
lieve it. Then it comes, too, from assurance and reflection upon their 
own interest, when they can challenge it as theirs, when it is made 
over to them. The rejoicing of faith is not only good in common, but 
propriety is a ground of rejoicing, and delight is nothing but a com 
placency in our portion : 1 Sam. xxx. 6, ' David encouraged himself 
in the Lord his God/ 

3. It comes from the dispensation of God ; for when we esteem the 
promises and delight in them, then the Lord fills the heart with sweet 
ness : Kom. xv. 13, ' The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in 
believing/ The Lord rewards delight with delight. Thou shalt ' call 
the Sabbath thy delight' in one place, then, presently 'Thou shalt 
delight thyself there is the promise. There is a delight and rejoicing 
that is our duty, and a delight and rejoicing that is God's dispensation. 
God loves to reward grace with grace. Look, as in a way of judgment 
he punisheth sin with sin, as when security is punished with sottish 
obstinacy and hardness of heart ; so it is a sweet mercy when grace is 
rewarded with grace, when our delight in the promises is rewarded 
with a sweetness and taste of the promises. 

Use 1. The portion of God's children and religion is no dark gloomy 
thing. The people of God have hidden joys. As the sun shines many 
times when it rains, so, though they be under affliction, yet they have 
the shine of God's face, the comfort of God's promises. Let me show 
the excellency of the spiritual heritage above the carnal. A carnal 
heritage, alas ! that is a poor thing ; there is no strong consolation in 
it. The comforts of wicked men are poor, weak comforts, they can 
not comfort us in any affliction, poor things soon overcome; but to 
God's people their heritage affords strong consolation, in overcoming 
worldly lusts, in spoiling the relish of other pleasures, overcoming 
worldly care and worldly sorrow, in bearing us out in all. afflictions ; 
nay, the strength of it is seen in overcoming the terrors of the Lord, 
death, hell, judgment to come, the fears and doubts of our own 
conscience. It will not only swallow up the sense of poverty, dis- 


grace, and affliction, but will bear us out in life and death ; they 
have a joy that will make them to do and to suffer the will of the 
Lord. When once they have tasted the comforts of God's presence, 
other things will go down easy. I might press you to look after this 
rejoicing of heart. It makes much for the glory of God, for the 
honour of our portion, that we do not repent us of our choice, that 
we bear up cheerfully. And it is of abundant profit: the joy 
of the Lord is a Christian's strength ; it bears him out in doing for 
God. To this purpose you should beware of sin ; that is a clouding, 
darkening thing. Men or angels cannot keep their hearts comfortable 
that sin against God. Sin takes away all joy, peace, and the whole 
strength of men ; and an angel cannot make the conscience of a sinner 
rejoice : therefore the children of God must take heed that they do 
not allow sin. In Acts ix. 31, ' They walked in the fear of God and 
comfort of the Holy Ghost.' Usually these two go together, and the 
oil of grace makes way for the oil of gladness; and usually obedience 
concurs to the establishing of our joy. Above all, look after com 
munion with God, for he is the fountain of joy ; and the more 
communion we have with him, the more we rejoice. The more 
communion in prayer : 1 Sam. i. 6, when Hannah prayed, ' she was 
no more sad.' Prayer hath a pacifying virtue in it. And then in the 
use of the seals, for these are assuring ordinances. Now the more we 
revive the grounds of assurance, the stronger the consolation ; that 
appears Heb. vi. 18, Acts viii. 39. The eunuch when he was baptized 
' went away rejoicing.' When a man hath an inheritance made over 
to him, passed in court, all things done, the title not to be made void, 
then he goes and rejoiceth. So when the promises have been con 
firmed by a solemn ratification, it nmkes joy. Then meditation and 
thanksgiving keep this joy alive ; thanksgiving gives vent, and medita 
tion that maintains it. 


/ have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes always to the end. 

VER. 112. 

DAVID did not only feast his soul with comforts, but also minded duty 
and service. In the former verse he had professed his comfort and 
joy, resulting from an interest in the promise ; now he expresses the 
bent of his heart to God's statutes. Ephraim is represented as an 
heifer that is taught, that would tread out the corn, but not break the 
clods. It is a fault in Christians when they only delight to hear of 
privileges, but entertain coldly enforcements of duty and obedience. 
David was of another temper ; first he said, ' I have taken thy testi 
monies for an heritage,' and then, ' I have inclined my heart to perform 
thy statutes always to the end.' 

In which words you have all the requisites of God's service. 

1. The principle of obedience, I have inclined my heart. 

2. The matter of obedience, thy statutes. 

VER. 112.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 149 

3. The manner of doing (1.) Accurately to perform; (2.) The 
universality and uniformity, always ; (3.) Constantly, to the end. 

First, That which the Psalmist bringeth in evidence for himself is 
the frame of his heart ; he beginneth there, not with eyes or hands or 
feet, but my heart. Second!} 7 , This heart is spoken of as inclined, 
poised, and set, to show his proneness and readiness to serve God ; not 
compelled but inclined. The heart of man is set between two objects ; 
corruption inclineth it one way and grace another ; the law of sin on the 
one side and the law of grace on the other ; when the scales are cast 
on grace's side, then the heart, is inclined to God's statutes. Now he 
saith, ' I have inclined/ It is the work of God's Spirit to incline and 
bend our hearts, as David expresseth himself, ver. 36. But it is not 
unusual in scripture to ascribe to us what God worketh in us, because 
of our subservient endeavours to grace as we pursue the work of God. 
Cerium est nosfacere quodfacimus, sed Deusfacit ut faciamus, saith 
Augustine. It is our duty to incline our hearts to God's law, which 
naturally hang sin ward, but it is God's work. God beginneth by his 
preventing grace, and the soul obeyeth the impression left upon it : 
' Turn me and I shall be turned,' Jer. xxxi. 18. Yea, he still followeth 
us with his subsequent and co-operating grace ; we do but act under 
him : I inclined my heart after thou hadst filled it with thy Spirit ; 
when I felt the motions of thy grace, my consent followed ; preventing 
grace made me willing, and subsequent grace that I should not will in 
vain. Now, what was his heart inclined to ? To ' perform thy statutes ;' 
not to understand them only, or to talk of them, but inclined to per 
form them, to go through with the work ; that is the notion of perform 
ing : Kom. vii. 18, ' How to perform.' We render Ka-repydtfa-OaL by it ; 
to be complete in God's will, to do his utmost therein ; this not by fits 
and starts, but always, a continual care and conscience to walk in 
God's law, not suffering ourselves for any respect to be turned out of 
the way. Many have good motions by starts, temporise a little ; their 
goodness is like the morning dew ; it is thus not for a time, but to the 
end. A holy inclination while the fit lasteth is no such great matter ; 
this was to the last. Some stop in the middle of the journey, or faint 
before they come to the goal, but David held out to the last. Or this 
is brought as an evidence of his sincerity (the sum is a bent of heart 
carrying him out to perform whatsoever God doth command all the 
days of his life). I shall speak of what is most material, and observe 
this point 

Doct. They that would sincerely and thoroughly obey God must 
have a heart inclined to his statutes. 

Here I shall show 

1. What is this heart inclined. 

2. The necessity of it. 

First, What is this heart inclined. God expects the heart in all 
the service that we do him : Prov. xxiii. 26, ' My son, give me thy 
heart ;' not the ear or the eyes or the tongue, but the heart. The most 
considerable thing in man is his heart ; it is terminus actionum ad 
intra, and fans actionum ad extra it is the bound of those actions 
that look inward. The senses report to the fancy, that to the mind, 
and the mind counsels the heart: Prov. ii. 10, ' If wisdom enter upon 


thy heart.' It is also the well-spring of those actions that look out 
ward to the life, Prov. iv. 23 ; Mat. xv. 19. You have both these in 
one place : * Let thy heart keep my precepts, let thine heart receive 
my words/ Prov. iv. 4. In taking in we end with the heart ; the 
statutes of God they are never well lodged till they are laid up in the 
heart. In giving out duty and service, we begin with the heart ; we 
must go so deep, or else all that we do is of no worth. The heart is the 
spring of motion, that sets all the wheels a- working: Ps. xlv. 1, ' My 
heart inditeth a good matter, my tongue is as the pen of a ready 
writer,' ready to praise God and serve him. When the prophet would 
cure the brackishness of the water, he cast salt into the spring. Our 
heart is blind: 1 Chron. xxii. 19, 'Now set your heart to seek the 
Lord/ There is a setting and fixing the heart which is the fruit of 
grace and ground of obedience. 

1. It is the fruit of grace. By nature the heart is averse from God, 
desireth not to serve or enjoy him. See what the scripture saith of 
man's heart : Prov. x. 20, ' The heart of the wicked is nothing worth,' 
a sty and nest of unclean birds ; Gen. vi. 5, ' Every imagination of the 
thoughts of his heart are only evil continually.' The scripture doth 
much set out the heart of man ; it is foolish, vain, deceitful, Jer. 
xvii. 9, vain, earthly, unclean, proud. There is a strange bead-roll : 
Mark vii. 21-23, ' Out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts, 
adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, deceit, lasci- 
viousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.' It was in, or 
else it would never come out. If a man should vomit nothing but 
knives, daggers, pistols, and other instruments of destruction, of what 
a monstrous complexion would you judge that man to be! Oh, no 
such monster in the world as man's heart ! If let alone to its own bent, 
it would grow worse every day, as putrid flesh grows more noisome 
every day. But now God by his grace giveth ' a new heart,' that hath 
other dispositions and inclinations, a heart that loveth God, and 
delights in God, tends to God. A new heart is the great blessing of 
the covenant, Ezek. xxxvi. 26 ; a new heart is a new placing of our 
desires and delights, for by these the heart is known. 

2. It is the ground of obedience ; for the heart is the main wheel of 
the soul, that nioveth other things : a bowl is made round before it 
runneth round : Deut. v. 2, 'Oh, that there were such an heart in 
them, that they would fear me ! ' There must be somewhat to bear up 
our resolutions. But more particularly, what is this bent and inclina 
tion of heart ? 

And first negatively. 

1. It is not a simple approbation of the ways of God. Many go so 
far as to approve what is good, to condemn themselves for not doing 
it, to praise others that are holy, can be content that those that are 
under their power should take to the ways of God, as dissolute parents 
would have their children soberly brought up, video meliora proboque : 
Acts v. 13, ' The people magnified them,' yet durst not join them 
selves with the disciples of Christ. Saul said unto David, 1 Sam. 
xxiv. 17, ' Thou art more righteous than I / yet David was fain to go 
to his hold ; as the woman, in Luke xi. 27, 28, cried out, ' Blessed is 
the womb that bare thee, and the paps that gave thee suck;' but 

VER. 112.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 151 

Christ said, ' Bather blessed are they that hear the word of God and 
keep it.' 

2. It is not a bare desire or wish. Many that live ill could wish to 
live well. Balaam had his wishes, but went on in his course, Num. 
xxiii. 10. Some flashes they have ; a spark is not enough to set the 
heart on fire in holy things ; in carnal things it is enough. Many such 
languid motions carnal men have, yea, many cold prayers, that God 
would make them better, but ' the soul of the sluggard desireth and 
hath nothing, for his hands refuse to labour ;' they do not set them 
selves in good earnest to get that grace they wish for. Would I were 
at such a place ! but never stir a foot. Would I had written such a 
task ! and never put pen to paper. 

3. It is not a hypocritical will ; or, as one called it, a copulative 
will. We would, but with such or such a condition. I would, if it did 
not cost me so dear ; if I were not to mortify lusts, to deny friends, 
interests, relations. They would come to the supper, Mat. xxii., but 
one had married a wife, another had a yoke of oxen to prove, another 
had found merchandise ; this is no full and perfect will. No doubt 
but the chapman would have the wares, but he will not come to the 
price ; a Christian should say, I will whatever it cost me, I will what 
ever come of it : Ps. xxvii. 4, ' One thing I have desired of the Lord, 
and this I will seek after/ 

Secondly, Positively. Then is the heart inclined : 

1. When the judgment determineth for God, and comes to a full 
decree about obedience to him. Acts xi. 23, Paul exhorted them, 
' That with full purpose of heart they would cleave to the Lord ; ' that 
is the fruit of conversion ; not a little liking or hovering or faint 
resolution, but a full purpose, an absolute positive decree in the will, 
to own God and his ways whatever it cost us, a full consent to the 
duty of the covenant. 

2. When the will is poised and swayed with love and delight, and 
the heart is made suitable to obedience : ' Thy law is in my heart, and 
I delight to do thy will, God,' Ps. xl. 8. Many times the law of 
God is written in the mind ; many have good apprehensions, but the 
will is not swayed, bent this way. Amor meus est pondus meum, eo 
feror quocungue feror ; when there is a natural inclination. 

3. When this bent of the will is seconded with constant endeavours 
to attain what we resolve upon, and there is a continual striving to 
make good the articles of our perfect resignation or first surrender of 
ourselves to God : Phil. iii. 12, ' I follow after that I may apprehend 
that for which I am apprehended of Christ.' God taketh hold of us 
by his grace, and we carry on this grace in the way of diligent pursuit 
or constant obedience. It is not one endeavour or two, but such as 
hath^its constant force; hath not its pangs of devotion, but TO Oekew 
Trapafceirai,, 'to will is present with me,' Bom. vii. 18. It is a daily 
habitual constant will ; not a volatile devotion, that cometh upon us 
now and then, but such a will as is present as constant as evil is, Bom. 
vii. 21 : KO.KOV TrapaKeiraL Wherever you go, or whatever you are 
about, you carry a sinning nature about with you ; it is urging the 
heart to vanity, folly, and lust. So this will is present, urging the 
heart to good, and stirring up to holy motions. 


Secondly, Let me now show you the necessity of this inclined heart, 
that we may yield to God cheerful, uniform, and constant obedience. 

1. That we may yield to God cheerful obedience in all our services. 
God looketh for a ready mind. God, that accepts the will for the 
deed, never accepts the deed without the will. The dregs of things 
come out with squeezing and wringing ; duty is best done when, like 
live honey, it droppeth of its own accord ; cheerful and hearty service 
only pleaseth the Lord. Now, that is cheerful service which cometh 
not from the influence of by-ends and foreign motives, or the com 
pulsion of a natural conscience or legal fears, but from the native 
inclination and bent of the heart : 1 John v. 3, ' This is love, to keep 
his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous.' The 
work is not grievous, but pleasant, because suitable to the principles 
that are in us ; it is not done against the hair : Cain offered sacrifice, 
but with a grudging mind. It is somewhere said, ' They offered to 
the Lord whose hearts made them willing.' When the heart is in 
it, it is not constrained, forced service, but natural and genuine ; not 
like water out of a still, but like water out of a fountain. 

2. For uniform obedience, to serve God in the whole tenor of our 
lives, that needs a heart inclined, that may be as a constant spring of 
holiness. A man may force himself now and then to actions dis 
pleasing to himself, but his constant course is according to his natural 
tent and inclination. Haman could refrain himself from murder, but 
his heart still boiled with rancour and malice. When men look only 
to the refraining of outward actions, or the restraining the outward 
man, it will never hold ; the bent of the heart will discover itself, and 
so they will be off and on with God. The compulsion of conscience 
will sometimes urge them to God, but the inclination of the heart will 
draw them to evil ; therefore God wisheth that his people had ' a heart 
to serve him,' Deut. v. 29. 

3. Constant obedience ; that can never be till the heart be inclined. 
Judas was a disciple for a while, but ' Satan entered into ' his heart, 
Lukexxii. 3. Ananias joined himself to the people of God, but ' Satan 
filled his heart.' Simon Magus was baptized, but ' his heart was not 
right with God,' Acts viii. 22. Here is the great defect. But now, 
when God gets possession of the heart, there he dwelleth, Eph. iii. 17, 
there he abideth, as in his strong citadel, and from thence com- 
mandeth all the faculties of the soul and the members of the body. 

Use 1. To press you to get this bent of heart, otherwise all your 
labour in religion will be in vain, every difficulty will put you out of 
the way, and make you think of a revolt from God ; till this the work 
of grace is not begun. God's first gift is a new heart : Ezek. xxxvi. 
26, ' A new heart also will I give unto you, and a new spirit will I put 
within you.' Without this you can never hold out, but you will be 
uncertain and mutable in the profession of godliness ; whatever 
restraints are upon you for a time, sin will be breaking out ever 
and anon with violence ; and at length men will ' return with the 
dog to the vomit, and with the sow to her wallowing in the mire,' 
2 Peter ii. 20. Oh ! then, go to God for it : Jer. xvii. 10, say, ' Heal 
me, Lord, and I shall be healed ; save me, and I shall be saved.' 
Carry forth the work of God so far as you receive it ; follow after 

YEH. 112.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 153 

to 'apprehend that for which \ve are apprehended of Christ/ Phil, 
iii. 12. 

Use 2. Have we such a heart, a heart inclined to do the will of 

1. Though there be such a bent and inclination, there will be failings, 
yea, reluctances and oppositions : Rom. vii. 18, ' To will is present 
with me, yet how to perform that which is good I find not.' There is 
a ready will asserted, and a weak discharge complained of. Observe, 
it is a will, not a wish ; a weak discharge ; not that nothing is done, 
but not all that good that is required, nor in that purity; the work 
doth not perfectly answer the will, nor the motions of the spirit by 
which it is excited ; and mark, this weakness is not rested in, but 
complained of ; and not only complained of, but resisted : ' I find 
not,' that implieth he sought it ; for the word ' finding' implieth a 
diligent search ; he laid about him on every side, he did not expect 
it should come by chance or a lazy inquiry. 

2. If wrought : 

[1.] How was it wrought in you ? Did God turn thee, and thou 
wast turned ? Were you ever brought to self-resignation ? By what 
steps was this work carried on ? Thy heart was naturally wedded to 
thy lusts and to carnal vanity ; did ever God make you see the odious- 
ness of sin, the vanity of the creature, the insufficiency of self ? Evil 
men seek contentment in the world as long as conscience will let them 
hold out in that way. You cannot cleave to God till you are rent off 
from the world and self. Was there ever such a separation ? such a 
rending work ? Conversion, or the altering the bent of the heart, lieth 
in three things in turning from the creature to God, from self to 
Christ, from sin to holiness. How to God ? By making us a willing 
people, to yield up ourselves to his service. How drawn from self to 
Christ ? To seek all this good in him. How from sin to holiness ? 
By seeing the beauty of God's ways. Paul found it a sensible work 
before he was brought to this self -resignation : Acts ix. 6, ' Lord, 
what wilt thou have rne to do ? ' Ho\v did God draw you or drive 
you to this ? 

[2.] How is this bent of heart kept up towards God ? Nature is 
apt to recoil, and the heart to return to its own bent and bias again. 
David beggeth, ver. 36, ' Incline my heart to thy testimonies.' It is a 
hard matter to keep up a bent of heart towards God ; it will cost us 
much watching, striving, praying, to keep it fixed. The frame of 
man's heart is changeable and various, doth not always continue at the 
same pass ; and lust will waken, and be pressing and importunate ; 
deadness will creep upon us. The great business of the spiritual life is 
to keep the bent of the heart steady : neglected grace will suffer decay, 
and worldly vanities and listlessness and deadness to holy things will 
incroach upon the soul, and a gracious heart is much discomposed. 
As a needle that bendeth towards the pole may be jogged and put 
aside, though it cannot rest there, but turneth thither again, so the 
bent of the soul towards God may be much disordered, and we may 
lose much of our free spirit and ready mind, and grow uncomfortable 
and uncheerful in God's service, and it may cost us much sorrow and 
deep humiliation to get in frame again. A cold profession is easily 


maintained, but to keep up a spiritual inclination is the work of labour 
and cost. 

[3.] How doth it work in you ? This bent of heart is seen in two 

(1.) In pulling back the heart from those sins to which corrupt 
nature doth incline us. Nature carrieth us to carnal things. There 
is something within that puts you on, and something without to draw 
you forward. Nature thrusteth, occasion inviteth, but grace interposeth 
and checketh the motion : Gal. v. 17, ' The spirit lusteth against the 
flesh ; ; it is against the bent and inclination of the new nature ; there 
is a back bias. Joseph had a temptation ; we read of occasion in 
viting, but not of nature inclining ; but presently his heart recoiled. 
The heart of man is seldom without these counterbuffs. It is an ad 
vantage to have the new nature as ready to check as the old nature to 
urge and solicit : 1 John iii. 9, * He cannot sin, for his seed remaineth 
in him.' 

(2.) In putting on the heart upon duties that are against the hair 
and bent of corruption. Such acts of obedience as are most troublesome 
and burdensome to the flesh, as are laborious, costly, dangerous. 
Laborious, as private worship, wrestling with God in prayer, holding 
the heart to meditation and self-examination ; sluggish nature is apt 
to shrink, but t love constraineth/ 2 Cor. v. 14. Spiritual worship, 
and such as is altogether without secular encouragement, that is 
tedious ; to work truth into the heart, to commune with God, to 
ransack conscience, it is troublesome, but thy striving will overcome 
it. So there is costly and chargeable work, as alms, contributions to 
public good ; there must be a striving to bring the heart to it. Then 
for actions dangerous, as public contests for God's glory, or keeping a 
good conscience, though with cost to ourselves. Our great work is to 
keep the will afoot, nature is slow to what is good. A coachman in 
his journey is always quickening his horses, and stirring them up ; so 
must we quicken a sluggish will, do what we can, though we cannot 
do all that we should ; the will must hold up still. A prisoner 
escaped would go as far as he can, but his bolts will not suffer to make 
long journeys, but yet he thinketh he can never get far enough ; so 
this will is a disposition that puts us upon striving to do our utmost 
for God. 

Secondly, The matter resolved on, to ' perform thy statutes always 
unto the end. 1 Uniform obedience, always, or all his days. As long 
as life lasteth we must be always ready to observe all God's commands, 
which notes the continuity of our obedience, sincerity, and perpetuity 
of it. We are to engage our hearts by a serious resolution to serve 
him, and that not by fits and starts, but always ; not for a time, but 
to the end. Kesolve to cleave to him, to hold him fast that he may 
not go, to keep our hold fast that we may not go. Take notice of the 
first decays, and let us keep our hold fast, and bewail often the incon 
stancy of our hearts, that we are so inconstant in that which is good. 
Every hour our hearts are changed in a duty. What a Proteus would 
man be, if his thoughts were visible, in the best duty that ever he per 
formed ! Kom. vii. 18, ' Evil is present with me, but how to perform 
that which is good I find not.' Our devotion comes by pangs and fits, 

VER. 113.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 155 

now humble, anon proud ; now meek, anon passionate ; not the same 
men in a duty and act of a duty, unstable as water. Compare it with 
God's constancy, his unchangeable nature, his love to us, that we may 
be ashamed of our levity. From everlasting to everlasting, God is where 
he was, the same ; the same to those that believe in him. Secondly, 
This ' to the end.' God's grace holdeth out to the end ; so should our 
obedience : ' He that hath begun a good work will perfect it,' c. 
Consider how unreasonable it is to desire God to be ours unto the end, 
if we are not his : Ps. xlviii. 14, * He is our God for ever and ever ; he 
will be our guide till death/ He doth not lay down the conduct of his 
providence. So Ps. Ixxiii. 24, * Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, 
and afterwards receive me to glory/ We can give nothing to God, 
our obedience is but a profession of homage. If God be always in our 
eye, we shall be always in his. We receive life, breath, and motion 
from him every moment ; he sustaineth us, every day and hour yieldeth 
new mercy. God watcheth over us when we are asleep, yet how much 
of our time passeth away when we do not perform one act of love to 
God ! The devil is awake when we sleep, to do us a mischief, but the 
God of Israel never slumbereth nor sleepeth. How can we offend 
him ? Let us then take up this serious resolution, to perform God's 
statutes always to the end. 

/ hate vain thoughts : but thy law do I love. VER. 113. 

THERE are in men two great influencing affections love and hatred ; 
one serves for choice and pursuit, the other for flight and aversation. 
The great work of grace is to fix these upon their proper objects. If 
we could but set our love and hatred right, we should do well enough 
in the spiritual life. Man fallen is but the anagram of man in inno- 
cency ; we have the same affections, but they are misplaced ; we love 
where we should hate, and hate where we should love ; our affections 
are like a member out of joint, out of its proper place, as if the arms 
should hang backward. If men knew how to bestow their love and 
hatred, they would be other manner of persons than now they are. In 
the text we are taught what to do in both by David's example. See 
how he bestowed his love and hatred : ' I hate vain thoughts : but thy 
law do I love/ Love was made for God, and for all that is of God's 
side, his law, his ordinances, his image, &c. ; but hatred was made for 
sin. All sin must be hated, of what kind and degree soever 
it be. Every drop of water is water, and every spark of fire 
is fire ; so the least degree of sin is sin. Thoughts are but a 
partial act, a tendency towards an action, and yet thoughts are 
sin. Of all the operations of the soul, the world thinketh a man 
should be least troubled about his thoughts ; of all actual breaches of 
the law these are most secret ; therefore we think thoughts are free, 
and subject to no tribunal. Most of the religion that is in the world 
is but man's observance, and therefore we let thoughts go without dis 
like or remorse, because they do not betray us to shame or punishment. 


These are most venial in man's account, they are but partial or half 
acts. What ! not a thought pass but we must make conscience of it ? 
this is intolerable. Once more, of all thoughts, vain thoughts would 
escape censure. A thought that hath apparent wickedness in it, a 
murderous or an unclean thought, a natural conscience will rise up in 
arms against it ; but vain thoughts we think are not to be stood upon. 
Oh ! but David was sensible that these were contrary to the law of 
God, transgressions as well as other thoughts, and therefore incon 
sistent with his love, to God : ' I hate vain thoughts/ Secondly, He 
bestows his love on the law. Naturally men hate God as a lawgiver 
and as a judge ; they cannot hate him as a creator and preserver ; 
under that formality they do not hate God, but the ground of our 
hatred to God is his law : Kom. viii. 7, ' The carnal mind is enmity 
against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither in 
deed can be/ But now, saith David, ' I love thy law ; ' I do not fear it, 
but love it. I do not only keep it, but love it. A child of God 
will bless God for his commands as well as his promises ; he owns 
God in the holiness of his law, and looks upon it as a copy and 
draught of God's own perfection ; it is a good law ; there is a suit 
ableness between it and a renewed heart, and therefore I love thy 
law. The one of these is inferred out of the other, his love to the 
law is mentioned as a ground of his hatred against vain thoughts. 
Love is the great wheel of the soul, that sets all a-going. Therefore sin 
is hated because the law is loved. He that hath a true respect to the 
law of God is sensible of the least contrariety to it, for hatred is uni 
form. The philosopher tells us it is to the whole kind; as Hainan, 
when he hated Mordecai, sought to destroy all the people of the Jews ; 
and when a man hates sin, he hates all sin, even where he finds it, in 
thoughts, words, speeches : love will not allow it. 

Well, then, I love thy law, therefore do I hate vain thoughts ; that 
is, though I cannot wholly keep them out of my heart, yet I hate them, 
resist them, watch against them, they are not allowed there. Without 
further glossing, the point is this : 

Doct. It is a sign of an unfeigned love to the law of God when we 
hate vain thoughts. 

I observe it, because a man never begins to be really serious and 
strict till he makes conscience of his thoughts, his time, and is sensible 
of his last account. Of his thoughts, for that is a sign he minds an 
entire subjection to the law of God, that he may obey it from his very 
soul. Of his time, that it may not pass away before his great work 
will be done. Of his account, "that is not far off; the Christian that 
lives in a due sense of his great account is always preparing to reckon 
with God. The one of these doth enforce the other. A man that is 
sensible he shall be called to a reckoning will be careful how he spends 
his time, and he that is careful how he spends his time will make con 
science of his thoughts. 

1. To give a taste of the vanity of thoughts. 

2. Show what sins most occasion vanity of thoughts. 

3. The reasons why a godly man will make conscience of his thoughts. 
First, Some taste of the vanity of thoughts. There are three 

solemn words by which the New Testament expresseth thoughts : 
(1.) Aoyio-fAol, discourses with its compound SiaXoyia-fjiol, which we 

VER. 113.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 157 

render imaginations. (2.) @u y c6?Jcret?, and sometimes evOv^aei^, mus 
ings. (3.) No^ara, which we render devices. These three ways the 
dunghill of corruption reeks out by our thoughts ; sometimes in our 
vain arguings and reasonings, by way of image and representations in 
our musings, sometimes by way of foolish inventions arid devices that 
are in the heart of man. 

1. Aoyiafjioi, carnal discourses of the mind, come under the notion 
of vain thoughts. If our more refined reason came to scan them, how 
light and vain would they be found ! Our reasonings are usually 
against the sovereignty of God : Rom. ix. 20, ' Who art thou, man, 
that repliest against God ?' We cannot see how it is just that by 
one man's transgression all should be made sinners, that God should 
choose some and endow them with grace, and leave others in their 
corruption ; how he should have mercy on whom he will have mercy, 
and harden whom he will harden. Man would be free from God, but 
would not have God free ; and therefore, contrary to these reasonings 
and vain discourses, the scriptures plead the sovereignty of God, Mat. 
xx. 15, to show he may do with his own as pleaseth him. And as 
against the right and sovereignty of God, so there are strange dis 
courses against the providence of God, many anxious traverses and 
debates in our minds ; and therefore the scripture takes notice how 
distrust works by our thoughts : Mat. vi. 25, ' Take no thought for 
your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink,' &c. ; and ver. 27, 
' Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature ?' 
We are tortured with many suspensive workings and discourses of 
mind within ourselves, whereas a little trust in God would save many 
of these vain arguings : Prov. xvi. 3, ' Commit thy works unto the 
Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established/ He showeth that want 
of trust in God, and his word and providence, and committing all to 
his dispose, is the cause of a great deal of confusion and darkness in 
our thoughts, and breedeth such perverse reasonings against the 
providence of God. So against the truth of the gospel. The law is 
natural, and runneth in by its own light, with evident conviction upon 
the heart; but the gospel is suspected, looked upon with prejudice, 
received as a golden dream, and as a well-devised fable. We have 
reasonings in ourselves against that which is discovered concerning 
the salvation of sinners by Christ ; therefore the apostle saith, 2 Cor. 
x. 5, ' Bringing into captivity every thought,' imaginations, or \6jLa-- 
fjioL, reasonings, those thoughts that exalt themselves against the 
knowledge of God in Christ. Then disputes against Christian faith, 
the mysteries of the Trinity, the incarnation of Christ ; we are saying, 
as the Virgin Mary when the angel brought her tidings of it, ' How 
can these things be ?' So we have perverse reasonings against posi 
tive institutions : 2 Kings v. 12, ' Are not Abana and Pharpar better 
than all the rivers of Israel?' We are apt to say, Why is this? 
The means of grace seems foolish and weak : 1 Cor. i. 19, ' It pleaseth 
God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe/ So 
our arguings in perverting the truth of the gospel and holy principles 
of the word to the countenance of our lusts, as Deut. xxix. ] 9 ; when 
we reason thus within ourselves : ' We shall have peace though we walk 
in the imagination of our own hearts ; ' we need not be so nice and 
strict ; God will be merciful, he will pardon all : Jude 4, ' Turning 


the grace of God into lasciviousness / wresting the truth from its 
purpose to countenance a laziness. It is good to observe the different 
arguings in scripture from the same principle. To instance in this 
principle, our time is short, what doth a holy man argue from it ? 1 
Cor. vii. 29, ' Let those that have wives be as those that have none, 
those that weep as though they wept not/ &c. Therefore we should 
be strict, temperate, sober in the use of all these things. Now, let a 
carnal wretch work upon this principle, and what inference doth he 
draw ? ' Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die/ 1 Cor. xv. 
32. See this other principle, ' The grace of God brings salvation ' to 
poor sinners, Titus ii. 12. How doth a gracious heart work upon it ? 
' Teaching us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts/ &c. Oh ! what 
shall be done for this God, the grace that offers such salvation by 
Christ ? Let a carnal wretch work upon this principle, and he will 
take liberty to sin that grace may abound : Rom. vi. 1, ' Shall we 
continue in sin that grace may abound ? God forbid.' Such kind of 
reasonings there are in the hearts of the godly : 2 Sam. vii. 2, saith 
David, ' I dwell in an house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth 
within curtains.' God hath fenced me with his providence, what 
then ? Here I may sit down and rest, and take my ease and pleasure, 
and gratify my sensual lusts ? No ; he doth not argue so, but what 
shall I do for God, that hath done so much for me ? Now see those 
ungracious Jews after their return, how they reason : Hag. i. 2, ' The 
time is not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built ;' no 
matter for God's house. It is the Lord's hand, let Eli work upon 
that: 1 Sam. iii. 18, 'Let him do what seemeth him good ;' he draws 
from it a submissive patience. Oh ! the sovereign God will take his 
own way, and the creature must not murmur, repine, and set up an 
anti-providence against him. But now saith that carnal wretch, 2 
Kings vi. 33, ' Behold, this evil is of the Lord ; what should I wait 
for the Lord any longer ? ' He murmurs, and frets, and grows im 
patient. Solomon tells us, Prov. xxvi. 9, ' As a thorn goeth up into 
the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.' A 
thorn was their instrument of sewing ; now when a drunkard should 
manage his needle, he wounds and gores himself ; so is a parable in a 
fool's mouth : a carnal heart wounds and gores himself with the most 
holy principle of religion. 

2. The second sort of vain thoughts are IvOvfitfa-eu:, musings ; and 
here take notice the vanity of our thoughts appears 

[1.] In the slipperiness and inconstancy of them. We run from 
object to object in a moment, and our thoughts look like strangers 
one upon another, wandering like those 'vagabond Jews,' Acts xix. 
13 ; so they are called because of their uncertain station and frequent 
removes. Eccles. vi. 9. ' Better is the sight of the eyes than the wan 
dering of the desire ;' in the original, it is the working out of the soul; 
Usually we have a straggling soul, roving, wandering here and there, 
and all in an instant ; especially this roving madness may we take 
notice of when we are employed in holy things, hearing, prayer, 
meditation. It is strange to see what impertinent, sudden discursions 
there are from good to lawful, from lawful to sinful, and how far the 
heart is removed from God when we are before him ; when a man 
hath brought his body to God, his heart is turned back again. These 

VER. 113.] SEEMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 159 

vain thoughts pursue and haunt us in duties, so that we mingle sul 
phur with our incense (it is Gregory's comparison), even in our prayers 
and holy addresses to God. 

[2.] The unprofitableness and folly of our musings. Our thoughts 
are set upon trifles and frivolous things, neither tending to our own 
profit nor the benefit of others : Prov. x. 20, ' The heart of the wicked 
is little worth ; ' all their debates, conceits, musings are of no value. 
'The tongue of the just is as choice silver;' but all their thoughts 
are taken up about childish vanity and foolish conceits : Prov. xxiv. 
9, ' The thought of foolishness is sin ; ' not only the thought of wicked 
ness, but foolishness. Thoughts are the first-born of the soul, the 
immediate issues of the mind, yet we lavish them away upon every 
trifle. Follow men all the day long, and take an account of their 
thoughts. Oh ! what madness and folly are in all the musings they are 
conscious to ! Ps. xciv. 11, ' The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man 
that they are vanity.' If we did judge as God judges, all the thoughts, 
reasonings, discourses of the mind, if they were set down in a table, 
we might write at the bottom, Here is the sum and total account of 
all, nothing but vanity. 

[3.] The carnality and fleshliness- of our thoughts: Phil. iii. 19, 
' They mind earthly things.' How sweet is it to us to be thinking of 
worldly matters, how to grow great, to advance ourselves here ! This 
carnal mind is very natural to us. We are in our element, and do 
with a great deal of savour and sweetness think of these things ; it 
makes our heart merry : but when we come to think of that which is 
good, we are tired presently, and it is very tedious to spend our 
thoughts upon them. Good things come upon us like a flash of 
lightning, soon gone, but on carnal things we can spend our thoughts 
freely. These carnal musings are stirred up by carnal desire or carnal 
delight ; sometimes by a desire of worldly things, so they are forming 
images and suppositions of those things they hope for ; as faith works 
in a godly man, forming images and suppositions of that happy time 
when they shall be gathered to God, and all holy ones, and rejoice in 
his presence. He hath a faith, ' the substance of things hoped for, 
the evidence of things not seen,' Heb. xi. 1, which represents his hopes 
to him. So carnal men dream of preferment, riches, honours, vain 
glorious applause ; they are looking out after their hopes, they send 
their thoughts as messengers of the soul to forestall the contentment 
of those carnal things which they do expect. Sometimes they are 
employed by carnal delight, when the thing we muse upon' is enjoyed. 
The complacency men take in any carnal enjoyment, it is part of this 
vanity when we go musing upon our own worth and our own excel 
lency ; as that king, Dan. iv. 30, ' Is not this great Babel that I have 
built for the honour of my majesty ?' Men take some time every day 
to worship the idol of self, and dote and gaze upon their own excel 
lencies and achievements, their wisdom arid wit : Hab. i. 15, ' They 
gather them in their drag, therefore they rejoice and are glad.' Or 
else pleasing themselves in their estates, dialogising within themselves, 
as the word is, Luke xii. 13, ' Soul, take thine ease ; thou hast goods 
laid up for many years,' &c. 

[4.] By the impiety and apparent filthiness of them. When men 


are taken up with sin so as to act it over in their own minds, de 
lighting themselves in fancying of sin, either by way of revenge or 
lust, or any other such thing, as an unclean person sets up a stage in 
his own heart : 2 Peter ii. 14, 'Eyes full of adultery/ or the adulteress; 
their fancy is upon the beauty of women, their soul is set upon it. 

3. The third tiling is po^/uara, devices. There are many de 
vices and carnal inventions in the hearts of men which the scripture 
takes notice of ; as 

[1.] When men devise, debate in their judgments by carnal means, 
without complying with God : James iv. 8, ' Cleanse your hands, ye 
sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.' By vain thoughts 
they mind carnal projects, how to get from under the judgment 
without reformation, humiliation, and complying with God, by 
human means or sinful shifts, without God's warrant and allowance : 
Isa. ix. 10, when it was ill with them they hope to mend it : ' The 
bricks are fallen down, but we will build with hewn stones ; the 
sycamores are cut down, but we will change them into cedars.' The 
state of our affairs is bad, but we can work it into better. 

[2.] When men spend their time wholly to compass their carnal 
end ; as he, Luke xii. 18, ' I will pull down my barns, and build 
greater,' &c. When they sacrifice their precious thoughts to their 
interest and lusts, and catering and progging how to satisfy carnal 
nature, making provision for the flesh to fulfil it in the lusts thereof. 

[3.] When men's designs are plainly wicked, and tend to the 
mischief of others : Prov. xvi. 30, ' He shutteth his eyes to devise 
fro ward things ; moving hislips, he bringeth evil to pass.' Moving the 
lips and shutting the eyes are gestures and postures of men that are 
pensive and musing : Micah ii. 1, * Woe unto them that devise evil 
upon their beds;' when men seek to spin and weave out a web of 
wickedness, and carry on their sins with the greatest secrecy. This, 
in short, is some taste of the vanity of our thoughts. 

Secondly, What are the sins that do most usually engross and take 
up our thoughts ? I answer 

1. Uncleanness. Speculative wickedness makes way for active : 'He 
hath committed adultery in his heart,' Mat. v. 28. There is polluting 
ourselves by our thoughts, and this is a sin usually works that way. 

2. Revenge. Liquors are soured when long kept ; so when we 
dwell upon discontents they turn to revenge : Prov. xiv. 17, ' He that 
is soon angry dealeth foolishly, and a man of wicked devices is hated.' 
He that is passionate and soon angry is a fool ; but when a man is 
not only angry but malicious, that puts him upon wicked devices ; 
when he doth concoct his anger, he is a fool to purpose. Purposes of 
revenge are most sweet and pleasant to carnal nature : Prov. xvi. 14, 
' Frowardness is in his heart ; he deviseth mischief continually.' 
When men are full of revengeful and spiteful thoughts. 

3. Envy. It is a sin that feeds upon the mind, 1 Sam. xviii. 9. 
Those songs of the women that Saul had slain his thousands, but 
David his ten thousands, they ran in Saul's mind, therefore he hated 
David. Envy is an evil disease, that dwelleth in the heart, and be 
wrays itself mostly in thoughts. 

VER. 113.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 161 

4. Pride. Either pride in the desires or pride in the mind, either 
vainglory or self-conceit ; this is entertaining our hearts with whispers 
of vanity : therefore it is said, Luke i. 51. 'He hath scattered the proud 
in the imagination of their hearts.' Proud men are full of imagina 

5. Covetousness, which is nothing but vain musings and exercises 
of their heart : 2 Peter ii. 14, ' A heart they have, exercised with 
covetous practices.' And it withdraws the heart in the very time of 
God's worship : Ezek. xxxiii. 31, ' Their heart goeth after their covet- 

6. Distrust is another thing which usually takes up our thoughts, 
distracting motions against God's providence. 

Thirdly, Upon what grounds we are to make conscience of our 
thoughts ? 

1. Because they are irregularities contrary to the law of God. It 
is said, Ps. xix. 7, ' The law of God is pure, converting the soul/ The 
law of God differs herein from the laws of men. The commands of the 
greatest and most mighty potentates upon earth can go no further 
than the regulating of the conversation, for that is all they can take 
account of ; but the law of God reacheth to the motions of the inward 
man, and to the reducing of our thoughts to the obedience of God ; for 
God hath a tribunal in the heart and conscience, he searcheth and 
trieth the reins, knows all our thoughts afar off, and therefore it is 
proper to him to give laws to our thoughts. 

2. God hath declared much of his displeasure against them. The 
devil's sin, for which he was cast out of heaven, was a sin of thought, 
an. aspiring thought, possibly against the imperial dignity of God. 
And so great were his judgments upon men, that he doth not so much 
take notice of outward acts as of inward thoughts ; therefore, Gen. vi. 
5, he threatened the old world for the imagination of the thoughts of 
their hearts. We look to the stream, but God looks to the fountain. 
Acts are hateful to men, because liable to their cognisance ; so Jer. 
vi. 19, ' I will bring evil upon this people, even the fruit of their 
thoughts, because they have not hearkened to my words, nor to my 
law, but rejected it.' Nay, in God's process at the last day, when 
God comes to judge the world, it is said, ' The secrets of their hearts 
shall be made manifest/ 1 Cor. iv. 5. Men's inward debates, counsels, 
reasonings, and thoughts, they shall be brought into the judgment. 

3. Make conscience of thoughts, because among all sins thoughts 
are most considerable, and that in these respects : 

[1.] In respect of the subject. They are the sins of the highest 
part of man, the mind, which is the leading .part of the soul. The 
errors and irregularities of the lower part of the soul are not so con 
siderable as the counsels, debates, reasonings, principles that we are 
seasoned and guided by: Eom. viii. 7, ' The wisdom of the flesh is 
enmity against God/ That which should be the guide to man, his 
wisdom, puts him upon opposition. If sensual appetite were only in 
the fault, it were not so much. 

[2.] From their nature. They are the immediate issues of the 
soul, the first-born of original corruption. The free acts of the heart 
do discover more of the temper of it than words and actions that are 



more remote. A man may be known by his thoughts, but not so 
much known by his \v.ords and actions, for words and actions may be 
overruled by by-ends and restraints of fear and shame. Men may 
speak not as they would, do not as they would, but think as they 
would. To curry favour with others, a man may refrain his tongue, 
and do some unpleasing actions, or may profess opinions contrary to 
his own mind ; but inward thoughts, being the immediate births of 
the soul, very much discover the temper of the man. Hereby you 
may take the best measure of your spirits. A gracious man is full of 
gracious thoughts, and a wicked man full of wicked thoughts : Prov. 
xii. 5, ' The thoughts of the righteous are right, but the counsels of 
the wicked are deceit/ Our thoughts we can best judge by, being 
the purest offspring of the mind, and the freest from restraint : Isa. 
xxxii. 8, ' The liberal man deviseth liberal things.' The unclean man 
is devising unclean things, the earthly man is always talking with 
himself about building, planting, trading ; these things take up his 
mind. You cannot judge of a fountain by the current of water at a 
distance, six or seven miles off ; it may receive a tincture from the 
channel through which it passeth ; but just at the fountain where it 
bubbles up, there you can judge of the quality, whether sweet or 
bitter water : so you cannot judge of the soul by things that are more 
remote, and where by-ends may interpose: Mat. xv. 19, ' Out of the 
heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications,' &c. 
Evil thoughts come first ; other things come from the heart, but not 
so immediately ; therefore, thoughts being so considerable, we should 
make conscience of them. 

[3.] They are considerable from their kind, here are the roots of all 
evils. Everything that we do, every deliberate act that is done by a 
reasonable creature argueth some foregoing thought, every temptation 
is fastened upon the heart by some intervening thought. Before sin 
be formed, brought forth, and becomes a complete sin, there are 
musings, which are, as it were, the incubations of the soul, or sitting 
a-brood upon the temptation : Isa. lix. 4, ' They conceive mischief, 
and bring forth iniquity/ The mind sits a-brood upon sin. It is 
thoughts that bring the heart and object together. First men think, 
then they love, then they practise. Beating the steel upon the flint 
makes the sparks fly out ; so when the understanding beats and 
knocks upon the will by pregnant thoughts, by inculcation, that stirs 
up the affections. These are the bellows which blow up those latent 
sparks of sin that are in our souls ; therefore, if you would make con 
science of acts, you should make conscience of thoughts. It is the 
greatest imprudence that can be to think to do anything in reforma 
tion when we do not take care of our thoughts. See, when God ad- 
viseth us to return to him, Isa. Iv. 7, he saith, ' Let the wicked forsake 
his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts/ In vain do we lop 
off the branches and let the root live. If we would forsake our way, 
we must first forsake our thoughts. When certain fowl pestered a 
man, he asked how he should be rid of them ? The answer was, The 
nest must be destroyed, and they must be crushed in the egg. So 
here is the best way of crushing the egg, by dashing Babylon's brats 
against the wall. So much is implied in that place, Jer. iv. 14, 

VER. 113.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 163 

' Wash thine heart from. wickedness, that thou mayest be saved : how 
long shall vain thoughts lodge within thee ? ' Wash thy heart, begin 
there. Medicines applied to the outward parts will do no good, unless 
the inwards be cleansed and purged ; so until the soul be cleansed 
and purged from these evil thoughts, outward reformation will be to 
no purpose. 

[4.] They are considerable in regard of their number, they are most 
numberless acts of the soul, Isa. Ivii. 20. The sea is. always working, 
so the heart of man is always casting forth mire and dirt : Gen. vi. 5, 
' Every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart is only evil contin 
ually/ There is a mint in us that is always working towards that 
which is evil. This is a means to humble us. The Lord knows the 
best of our thoughts are but vain ; this is that which raiseth the account 
in God's book of remembrance, which makes us more admire the riches 
of his grace even to the very last. ' Let him forsake his thoughts/ 
Isa. Iv. 7. What then? 'I will multiply to pardon/ Certainly, if 
thoughts be sins, God must not only pardon, but multiply to pardon. 

Use 1. To humble us all, the best of us, from first to last. Vanity 
of heart sticks to us. Oh, how many carnal thoughts haunt us wher 
ever we go ! As thou walkest in the streets up and down, whereupon 
do thy thoughts run ? The common vain thoughts should be laid to 
heart. Have we not a God, a Christ to think of, sweet and precious 
promises, heaven and glory, and the great concernments of our souls ? 
and yet with what chaff do we fill our minds ! We go thinking of 
every toy and trifle, grinding chaff instead of corn every day. Oh ! how 
do we throw away our thoughts, rather than God should have them, 
upon every vain thing ! It is very irksome a little to retire and re 
collect ourselves, and think of God, Christ, and heaven ; but what a 
deal of vanity do we take into our minds ! If our hearts were turned 
inside outward, and all our thoughts liable to the notice of men, as they 
are to the notice of God, what odious creatures should we be ! and have 
we no reverence of the great God ? The Lord knows our hearts ; he 
knows we have thoughts enough and to spare, more than we know 
what to do withal, and he knows we are backward to exercise them 
upon him, and things that lead to communion with him. These 
thoughts are aggravated from the time, as upon God's day, for then 
we are not to 'think our own thoughts/ Isa. Iviii. 13 ; a Christian is 
then to sequester himself only for God. Nay, our vain heart be- 
wrayeth itself in solemn duties ; a man cannot go to prayer but the 
vanity of his thoughts will trouble him, and run about him when he is 
hearing the word ; how do we course up and down like spaniels hither 
and thither ! Yea, to humble ourselves because of our wicked thoughts, 
our desperate thoughts against the being of God : Ps. xiv. 1, ' The 
fool hath said in his heart there is no God/ Though we cannot open 
our eyes but the creature presently doth show us something of God, 
and call upon us whether we look upward or downward, yet how do 
we vent this thought ? If there were no God, then we could live as 
we list, without check and restraint. Thoughts which arise within us 
against the truth of the gospel, as if it were but a well-devised fable ; 
thoughts against the purity of God's laws, that we need not be so 
strict, that it is but nice folly, that we shall do well enough without re- 


penting, believing, minding the work of our salvation. Yea, we have 
thoughts against the light of nature, filthy, unclean thoughts, such as 
defile and stain the heart. Of earthly thoughts, how natural is that, 
in musing upon that esteem, honour, greatness that we shall have in 
the world ! How do carnal thoughts haunt us, and this not only when 
we are in our natural condition, but even after grace ! And Christians 
are mistaken that do not think those thoughts evil, though there be no 
consent of the will. I confess there are thoughts cast into the mind 
by Satan, but these not resisted, these cherished, fostered, they become 
ours ; though they are children of Satan's getting, and may be cast 
in, as the tempting of Christ was, by injection of thought ; but then 
we entertain these things ; as weeds thrown over the wall are not to 
be charged upon the gardener, but the envious man ; but if the gar 
dener lets them lie there and root there, then it is his fault. 

Use 2. Do we love the law of God ? Do we aim at a complete and 
entire subjection to the will of God? Do we desire to serve him in 
spirit ? Here is the evidence. Do we hate vain thoughts ? We can 
not be free from them, but are they your burden ? A child of God 
is pestered with them, though he hates them. 

1. Do we give them entertainment ? Jer. iv. 23, ' How long shall 
vain thoughts lodge within thee ? ' They may rush into a gracious 
heart, but they do not rest there. Wicked men may have good 
thoughts, but do not give them entertainment ; take a snatch and 
away, but do not make a meal upon any spiritual truth ; there is an 
occasional salute sometimes in wicked men of good things, but their 
heart doth not dwell upon them. 

2. Do you make conscience of them ? Do they put you upon re 
morse, caution, watchfulness, frequent recourse to God for pardon and 
grace ? Acts viii. 22, ' Pray, if perhaps the thoughts of thine heart 
may be forgiven thee.' Are you humbled for them, as well as for 
other sins, because these grieve the Spirit of God, are conceived there 
where he hath his residence, chiefly in the heart ? Doth this trouble 
you, that the Spirit should be grieved ? 

Use 3. It presseth us to take care of our thoughts. Thoughts 
fall under the judicature of God's word, Heb. iv. 12. Thoughts are 
hateful to God : ' The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to 
the Lord,' Prov. xv. 26. And as they are hated of him, so he knows 
them all, it is his prerogative to tell man his thoughts ; he under 
stands our thoughts afar otf, Ps. cxxxix. 2. What thoughts we have 
when we are walking, praying, employed in our calling, what comes 
in, what goes out ; there is not a thought but God regards, and God 
will reckon with us about our thoughts. 

1. Look more earnestly after a principle of regeneration, Eom. viii. 
5. They that are after the flesh, employ their wisdom about the 
flesh, they are contriving for the flesh, savouring the things of the 
flesh ; and they that are after the Spirit savour the things of God, 
savour spiritual things. We must be renewed by the Spirit, The 
ground brings forth weeds, but not flowers of itself ; so "our hearts 
naturally bring forth vain thoughts, but they must be cultivated and 
dressed. We must be renewed in the spirit of our mind. There is 
nothing discovers the necessity of regeneration so much as this, that 

VER. 113.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 165 

we must take care of our thoughts. Moral restraints may prevent the 
excesses of life, or regulate the outward man. If sin did lie only in 
words and deeds, human laws and edicts would be enough, and we 
needed no other discipline to bring us to heaven. There are excel 
lent laws for bridling man's speech and practice, for these things man 
can take notice of ; but he that is only good according to the laws of 
man, his goodness is too narrow, is not broad enough for God. It is 
the peculiar privilege of that judicature God hath set up to bring the 
thoughts under. Look that there may be within you a spring of holy 

2. Get a stock of sound knowledge. The mind of man is always work 
ing, and if it be not fed and supplied with good matter, it works upon 
that which is evil and vain. If there be not a plenty of good matter 
wherein to exercise yourselves, the soul will necessarily spend itself in 
vanity of thoughts. Now abundance of knowledge supplies and 
yields matter. It is a good thing when our reins instruct us in the 
night season, Ps. vi. 7, in the darkness and silence of the night; when 
we are taken off from all company, books, worldly employment, 
and distractions of sense, and the soul is left to itself, to its own ope 
rations, then to draw out knowledge, and have our reins instruct us. 
But men are barren of holy thoughts, and so are forced to give way to 
vanity : Deut. vi. 6, 7, ' Bind them upon thy heart.' What then ? 
* When thou awakest it shall talk with thee ;' that is, as soon as you 
awake, before you have received images from abroad, a man is to 
parley with his soul about the course of his service that day. Words 
and thoughts are both fed by abundance in the heart. Thoughts are 
but verla mentis, words of the mind, and words are but thoughts ex 
pressed and languaged. Now if a man would have these things pre 
sent when he is lying down and sitting up, then these words must be 
in his heart. A man must have a good treasure within, that he may 
bring forth out of his treasure things both new and old, Mat. xiii. 52. 
When the mind is the storehouse of truth, he will ever be drawing 
forth upon all occasions. He that hath more silver and gold in his 
pocket than brass farthings, brings forth gold and silver oftener than 
brass ; so he that is stored with divine truths, and full of the knowledge 
of the Lord, his mind will more run upon these things, and will often 
out of the treasure of his heart bring forth things that are good. 

3. Inure yourselves more to holy meditation. There must be some 
time to wind up the plummets, and lift up our hearts to God, Ps. 
xxv. 1. For want of this, no wonder if men's thoughts are loose and 
scattered, when they are left at random, when they are never solemnly 
exercised in consideration of divine truth ; ver. 99 of this psalm. 

4. Begin with God : Ps. cxxxix. 8, ' When I awake,' saith David, ' I 
am still with thee.' As soon as we awake, our hearts should be in 
heaven ; we should leave our hearts with God over-night, that we 
might find them with God in the morning. We owe God the first- 
fruits of our reason before we think of other things, for every day is 
but the lesser circle of our lives. We should begin with God before 
earthly things encroach upon us. Season your hearts with the thoughts 
of his holy presence ; that is the means to make the fear of God abide 
upon us all the day after ; and it is some recompense for those hours 


spent in sleep, wherein we showed not the least act of thankfulness to 
God, to exercise our reason again ; and when we are awake we should 
be thinking of God. 


Tliou art my hiding-place and my shield : I hope in thy 
word. VER. 114. 

IN these words you have (1.) A privilege which believers enjoy in 
God, and that is protection in time of danger. (2.) David's right to 
that privilege, ' I hope in thy word.' From both the note will be 
this : 

Doct. They that hope in God's word for the protection which he 
hath promised, will find God to be a shield and a hiding-place to 

1. I shall speak of the nature of divine protection, as it is here set 
forth under the notions of a shield and hiding-place. 

2. Of the respect which the word hath to these benefits. 

3. Of the necessity and use of faith and hope in the word. 

First, For the nature of this protection ; it is set forth in two notions, 
a hiding-place and a shield. Upon which I observe : 

1. David was a military man, and therefore often makes use of 
metaphors proper to his function ; when he wandered in the wilder 
ness and the forest of Ziph, and they yielded to him many a lurking- 
hole, and so he knew the benefit of a hiding-place ; and being a man 
of war, he was more acquainted with the use of a shield in battle. 
That which I observe is this, that it is good to spiritualise the things 
that we often converse with, and from earthly occasions to raise 
heavenly thoughts. You will ever find our Lord Jesus so doing. 
When he sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, he discourseth of eating 
bread in his Father's kingdom, Luke xvi. 14. When he was at the 
well of Samaria, he falls a discoursing of the well of life, of the water 
that springeth up to eternal life, John iv. Again, when he was at the 
feast of tabernacles, you will find there it was the fashion of the people 
at that feast to fetch water from the pool of Siloam, and to pour it out 
until it ran in a great stream ; and then at the feast of tabernacles 
Christ cried out, ' He that cometh to me, out of his belly shall flow 
rivers of living water,' John vii. He spiritualiseth that occasion. 
Thus should we learn to turn brass into gold, and by a holy chemistry 
to extract useful thoughts from these ordinary objects that we are cast 
upon. Thus doth David ; he had been acquainted with the use of a 
hiding-place and with a shield, and accordingly expresseth his confi 
dence by these notions. The Septuagint renders it simply and without 
the metaphor, My help and my undertaker ; but we, from the Hebrew, 
My hiding-place, my shield. 

2. Observe, again, both the notions imply defence and protection. 
A shield is not a weapon offensive but defensive. Indeed elsewhere, 

VER. 114.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 167 

Deut. xxxiii. 29, God said to Israel, ' I am the shield of thy strength, 
and sword of thy excellency.' God is a sword as well as a shield, a 
weapon offensive as well as defensive, in behalf of his people. But 
here both metaphors imply only defence and protection. It is not here 
a hiding-place and a sword, but a hiding-place and a shield. Why ? 
The godly are subject to many dangers and perils, from adverse 
powers, spiritual and bodily, and therefore need much preservation and 

[1.] The soul is in danger of Satan and his temptations. There are 
spiritual enemies, that will put us upon the need of a shield and a 
hiding-place : Eph. vi. 12, ' We wrestle not against flesh and blood,' 
<fec. ; that is, not principally. We do not wrestle against bodily or 
human powers ; outward agents are not principals but instruments. 
Our chief war is with devils and evil spirits, who have a mighty 
power over a great part of the world ; they are the rulers of the dark 
ness of this world, the ignorant and carnal part of the world ; and 
they assault us with much cunning and strength ; and invisible 
enemies are the worst, none like to them for craft, for strength, for 
malice, for number. They easily get the advantage over us by their 
crafty insinuations, and applying themselves to our humours, and feed 
ing every distemper with a bait suitable ; and they are always about 
us, unseen and unperceived ; they lie in ambush for our souls, and 
assault us in company and alone, in business and in recreations, in 
the duties of religion, and in our ordinary affairs ; they follow us in 
our retirements, and pursue us with unwearied diligence. No such 
enemies as these for craft and subtlety of address. And then for their 
power and strength, they have their fiery darts to throw upon us, ver. 
16. They inject and cast in blasphemous thoughts, and enkindle 
and awaken in us burning lusts, or fire us with rage and despair ; 
their power is exceeding great, because they have the management of 
fiery darts. And their malice is great ; it is not to hurt our bodies 
chiefly, that is but the shell of the man, but the chief est part, our 
immortal soul ; and therefore we need a hiding-place and a shield 
when we have to do with spiritual wickednesses, that are always 
assaulting us in this manner upon all occasions. And for their num 
ber, there are many of them, and all engaged in this spiritual warfare 
against the saints : we cannot dream of ease if we would be Christ's 
soldiers. In the Gospel we find one man possessed with a whole legion 
of them : Mark v. 9, ' My name is legion, for we are many.' They 
cease not in this manner thus continually to assault and vex us, and 
therefore we need a hiding-place and shield. 

[2.] The bodies of God's people and their temporal lives are exposed 
to a great deal of hazard and danger from evil men, who are ready to 
molest and trouble us, sometimes upon one pretence, and sometimes 
upon another. They that indeed would go to heaven, and have a 
serious sense of the world to come upon their hearts, they are a differ 
ent party from the world, and therefore the world hates them, John 
xvii. 14 ; and Eom. xii. 2, ' Be not conformed to this world.' It was 
never yet so well with the world but they were forced to stand upon 
their defence ; and usually, as to any visible interest, they are the 
weakest when their enemies are mighty and strong ; and therefore 


they had need of a hiding-place to run to, and a shield to defend them, 
to run to the covert and defence of God's providence. 

3. Observe the difference between these two notions, hiding-place 
and shield. Sometimes God is said to be our strength and our shield, 
Ps. xxviii. 7. He furnisheth us within and without ; he strengthens 
and fortifies the heart, then shields us and keeps off dangers. And 
sometimes again he is said to be a sun and a shield, Ps. Ixxxiv. 11. 
We have positive and privative blessings, or a sun to give us light, 
and a shield to give us strength. He prorniseth to be both ; but 
usually he so attempereth his providence, that where he is more a sun 
there he is less a shield ; that is to say, the more sparingly he vouch- 
safeth the knowledge of heavenly comforts, the more powerfully doth 
he assist his people in their weakness by his providence. As the Jews 
that were conversant about the shadows of the law, and lived under 
the darkness of that pedagogy, God was less a sun to them than he is 
to us ; but yet they knew more of his powerful providence, of his tem 
poral protection. Now here it is a hiding-place and a shield ; what is 
the difference between these ? God is a hiding-place to keep us out 
of danger, and a shield to keep us in danger. Either we shall be kept 
from trouble, that dangers shall not overtake us ; or, if they do over 
take us, they shall riot hurt us ; they shall only serve for this use, to 
make us sensible of God's defence, and to increase our thanksgiving 
for our protection : for God hides us, and as a shield interposeth him 
self between us and the strokes of our adversaries, those fiery darts 
which are flung at us. Well, then, they imply, either God will keep 
us from seeing the evil, or fortify us that the evil shall not hurt us. 
One of these notions was not enough to express the fulness of God's 
protection : a hiding-place, that is a fixed thing ; but a shield and 
buckler, we may constantly carry it about with us wherever we go, 
and make use of God's power and love against all conflicts whenever 
we are assaulted. Again, on the other side, a shield were not enough 
to express it, for that only respects actual assaults ; but God saves us 
from many dangers which we are not aware of, prevents troubles which 
we never thought of, Ps. xxi. 3. 

4. Let us view these notions apart, and see what they contain for our 

First, Let us look upon God as a hiding-place. Men in great 
straits, when they are not able to make defence against pursuing 
enemies, they run to their hiding-place, as we shall see the Israelites 
did from the Philistines : 1 Sam. xiii. 6, ' When the men of Israel saw 
that they were distressed, they hid themselves in caves, in thickets, in 
rocks, in high places, and in pits ; ' and so God's children, when they 
are too weak for their enemies, seek a safe and sure hiding-place: 
Prov. xxii. 3, 'A wise man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself.' 
Certainly there is a hiding-place for the saints, if we had but skill to 
find it out ; and where is it but in God ? Ps. xxxii. 7, ' Lord, thou art 
my hiding-place, thou slialt preserve me from trouble.' I do not 
delight to squeeze a metaphor, and to make it yield what it intends 
not ; yet these four things are offered plainly in this notion of a hiding- 
place there is secrecy, and capacity to receive, and safety, and comfort. 

1. Secrecy. It is not a fortress wherein a man does profess himself 

VER. 114.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 169 

to be, and to stand out assaults, but it is a hiding-place : Ps. xxvii. 5, 
* In the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion : in the secret 
of his tabernacle shall he hide me ; he shall set me upon a rock.' 
God's protection of his people is a secret hidden mystery, as every 
thing is to a carnal man. The person hidden is seen abroad every 
day following his business, serving his generation, doing that work 
which God hath given him to do ; yet he is hidden while he is seen, 
by the secret power and love of God dispensing of all things for his 
comfort and protection ; the man is kept safe by ways which the world 
knows not of. So Ps. xxxi. 20, ' Thou shalt hide him in the secret of 
thy presence from the pride of man.' There is a secret power of God 
by which they are upheld and maintained by one means or other, 
which they see not and cannot find out. 

2. The next thing considerable in a hiding-place is capacity to 
receive us ; and so there is in God ; we may trust him with our souls, 
with our bodies, with our peace, with our goods, with our good name,- 
with our all. Our souls, all that concerns us between this and the day 
of judgment, as St Paul did, 2 Tim. i. 12, ' I know whom I have be 
lieved ; and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have 
committed unto him against that day/ He calls his soul and all the 
concernments of it a thing that was left, and that he durst trust, in the 
hands of God. Our soul is much sought after. Satan, that hath 
lost the favour of God himself, envies that others would enjoy it, 
therefore maligns the saints, pursues them with great malice and 
power ; but put it into the hands of God, he is able to keep it. And 
so for outward things, this hiding-place is wide enough for all that we 
have, for goods, body, and good name : Ps. xxxi. 20, ' Thou shalt keep 
them secretly as in a pavilion from the strife of tongues/ As the 
hearts of men are in the hands of God, so are their tongues. There 
is the same reason why we should trust in God for all things, when 
we trust in him for one thing. And indeed, did we truly and upon 
scripture grounds trust him for one thing, we would trust him for all 
things. If we did trust him with our souls, we would without anxious 
care trust him with our bodies and secular interests and concernments 

3. Here is safety till the trouble be over, and we may be kept as 
quiet in God as if there were no danger : Ps. Ivii. 1, ' Under the 
shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge until these calamities are 
overpast/ There is an allusion to a chicken under the dam's wing, 
when hawks, kites, and birds of prey are abroad ; that are ready to 
seize upon them with their sharp beaks and talons ; they run to the 
dam's wings, and there they are safe. So Isa. xxvi. 20, ' Come, my 
people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut the doors about thee : 
hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be 
overpast.' There we have an allusion to a storm that is soon over, it 
is a little cloud that will easily be blown over ; but in the meantime 
here is a covert and a defence. The use of God's protection and love 
is best known in a time of straits and difficulties. 

4. There is not only safety but comfort ; as under the dam's wings 
the chickens are not only protected but cherished. Christians, it is 
not a dead refuge or hiding-place, but like the wings of the hen, which 


yield warmth and comfort to the young brood : Ps. xxxiv. 22, ' None 
of them that trust in him shall be desolate.' There is sweet support, 
and spiritual experience, and inward comforts ; so that a believer that 
is hidden in the secret of God's presence fares better than all those 
that have the world at will, and flow in ease and plenty, if he would 
jud^e of his condition by spiritual considerations. Thus we have seen 
the first notion, God is a hiding-place. 

Secondly, God is a shield. He is often called his people's shield in 
scripture. Now the excellency and properties of a shield lie in these 
things : 

1. In the largeness and breadth of it, in that it hides and covers the 
person that weareth it from all darts that are flung at him, so as 
they cannot reach him : Ps. v. 12, ' Thou wilt bless the righteous with 
favour, thou wilt compass him as with a shield/ There is the excel 
lency of a shield, to compass a person round about that the darts flung 
at him may not reach him. There is a comfortable promise ; it runs in 
other notions indeed, yet I will mention it upon this occasion, because 
the expressions are so notable and emphatical : Zech. ii. 5, ' For I, 
saith the Lord, will be unto her a wall of fire round about.' Mark 
every word, for every word hath its weight. It was spoken when the 
returning Jews were discouraged at their small number; they had not 
enough to people their country and build their towns, nor to defend 
themselves against their numerous and potent adversaries. Now 
what shall they do ? God makes them this promise of a future in 
crease, ' I will be a wall/ &c. And there are three promises included 
in this one, viz., that he will be a wall, a wall round about them, and 
a wall of fire round about them, which is a further degree. A wall ! 
there is a promise of that, Isa. xxvi. 1, ' We have a strong city ; sal 
vation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.' And a wall that 
doth encompass them on every side round about, there is a promise of 
that, Ps. cxxv. 2, ' As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so 
the Lord is round about his people, from henceforth even for ever ;' 
he will be instead of all guards and defences. So likewise a wall of 
fire ; not of brass or of stone, but of fire, that affrights at a distance, 
and consumes near at hand. Here is enough for a refuge, and to stay 
our hearts in the Lord's keeping. An allusion to those countries ; 
when they travelled in the wilderness they were wont to make a fire 
about them, to preserve them from wild beasts. Thus doth God ex 
press his all-encompassing protection, he that is our shield. 

2. The excellence of a shield lies in that it is hard and impene 
trable. So this answers to the invincible power of God's providence, 
by which he can break the assaults of all enemies ; and such a shield is 
God to his people : Ps. cxiiv. 2, ' My strength and my shield, in whom 
I trust.' 

3. Shall I add one thing more ? Stones and darts flung upon a 
hard shield are beaten back upon him that flings them ; so God beats 
back the evil upon his enemies, and the enemies of his people : Ps. 
lix. 11, ' Bring them down, Lord, our shield.' Shall I speak in 
a word ? The favour of God is a shield : Ps. v. 12, ' With favour 
wilt thou compass him as with a shield.' The truth of God is a 
shield : Ps. xci. 4, ' His truth shall be thy shield and buckler.' And 

YER. 114.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 171 

the strength and power of God, that is our shield : Ps. xxviii. 7,. ' He 
is my strength and my shield/ 

Well, now, you see how this defence and this protection is set forth, 
' Thou art my hiding-place and my shield.' God accommodates him 
self to lisp to us in our own dialect, and to speak in such notions as 
we can best understand, for the help of our faith. Having opened the 
nature of this defence, the next thing I am to do is to show 

Secondly, The respect to the word, ' I hope in thy word.' 

1. The word discovers God to be such a protection and such a de 
fence to his people everywhere : Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, * God will be a sun 
and a shield, grace and glory will he give.' As a sun, so he will give 
all things that belong to our blessedness ; as a shield, so he will keep 
off all dangers from us. The scripture shows not only what God can 
do herein, but what he will do for our sakes. So Gen. xv. 1, saith 
God to Abraham, ' I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.' 
Abraham might be under some fear that the kings which he had 
lately vanquished would work him some trouble, and then God comes 
and appears to him and comforts him, and tells him, ' I am thy shield/ 

2. As the scripture doth discover God under these notions, so it in 
vites us and encourageth us to put God to this use : Isa. xxvi. 20, 
' Come, my people, enter into thy chambers, shut the door about thee, 
and hide thyself as it were for a little moment.' There are chambers 
where we may rest ; where are they but in the arms of God's protec 
tion, in the chambers of his attributes, promises, and providence ? 
The word invites us so to make use of God, to enter into him as into 
a chamber of repose, while the storm is furious, and seems to blow 
hard upon us. So Ps. xci. 1, ' He that dwellethin the secret place of 
the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.' He 
that committeth himself to God for refuge shall not be thrust out, but 
suffered to dwell there, and enjoy the benefit of a covert and defence. 

3. The scripture assureth us of the divine protection, that certainly 
it shall be so : Prov. xxx. 5, ' Every word of God is pure ; he is a 
shield unto them that put their trust in him.' Do not think that 
these are careless expressions, that dropped into the scripture by 
chance. No ; they are the sure and pure words of the Lord, that will 
yield a great deal of comfort, peace, and happiness. So Ps. xviii. 30, 
' As for God, his way is perfect : the word of the Lord is tried : he is 
a buckler to all those that trust in him.' God hath passed his word, 
which he hath ever been tender of in all ages of the world ; he invites 
us to depend upon it. Thus it assures us of the divine protection. 

4. It directeth us as to the qualifications of the persons who shall 
enjoy this privilege. Who are they ? 

[1.] You might observe, all those that believe, and none but those 
that believe ; he is a buckler and a shield to all those that trust in 
him, Prov. xxx. 5 ; Ps. xviii. 30. Trust and have it. If you will 
glorify God by faith, and depend upon him according to his word, 
you will find it to be so. We miss of our protection and defence by 
our doubts, unbelief, and distrust of God. All those that in time of 
danger are duly sensible of it, and make use of God as their refuge 
and hiding-place, shall find him to be that to them which their faith 
expects from him. 


[2.] The qualification which the word directs us unto is this : those 
that sincerely obey his covenant : Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, ' God is a sun and a 
shield to those that walk uprightly ; ' and the same is repeated Prov. 
ii. 7, ' God is a buckler to them that walk uprightly ;' and Isa. xxxiii. 
15, 16, where God saith they that seek him shall dwell on high ; his 
place of defence shall be the munitions of the rocks ; they shall be 
preserved safe that fear him, and walk with him according. to the tenor 
of his covenant. If you will not be faithful servants to God, how can 
you expect he should be a good master to you ? Sincerely give up 
your heart to walk with God exactly and closely, and he will not be 
wanting to you. Others may be preserved by general providence, or 
rather reserved to future judgment ; they may be kept until the pit be 
digged for the wicked, Ps. xciv. 13, as a malefactor is suffered to live 
till the place of execution be prepared. But to have this protection 
in mercy, it supposeth we are in covenant with God, and walk sin 
cerely with him. 

5. It directeth us how to expect this blessing, in what manner; 
only in the way and manner that it is promised, Zeph. iii. 3. Seek 
righteousness, seek meekness, it may be you shall be hid ; not abso 
lutely, but as referring it to God's will. There is the keeping of the 
outward man, and the keeping of the inward man. As to the out 
ward man, all things come alike to all ; the Christian is safe, whatever 
becomes of the man ; the Lord will keep him to his heavenly kingdom, 
2 Tim. iv. 17, 18. That which the Christian desires mainly to be 
kept is his soul, that he may not miscarry, and blemish his profession, 
and dishonour God, and do anything that is unseemly. I say, we 
cannot absolutely expect temporal safety. The righteous are liable to 
many troubles, therefore in temporal things God will not always keep 
off the temporal stroke, but leave us to many uncertainties, or at least 
hold us in doubt about it, that we may trust his goodness. When we 
trust God we must trust all his attributes, not only his power, that he 
is able to preserve, but his goodness, that he will do that which is best, 
that there may be a submission and referring of all things to his will ; 
as David, 2 Sam. xv. 26, * If he say, I have no delight in thee ; be 
hold here am I, let him do unto me as seemeth good unto him.' God 
will certainly make good his promise, but this trust lies not in an 
absolute certainty of success. However, this should riot discourage 
us from making God our refuge, because better promises are sure 
enough, and God's keeping us in suspense about other things is no 
evidence he will not afford them to us ; it is his usual course, and few 
instances can be given to the contrary, to have a special regard to his 
trusting servants, and to hide them secretly. They that know his 
name will find it, that he never hath forsaken them that put their 
trust in him, Ps. ix. 10. It is the only sure way to be safe ; whereas 
to perplex our souls with distrust, even about these outward things, 
that is the way to bring ruin and mischief upon ourselves, or turn aside 
to crooked paths. Well, then, you see what respect the word hath to 
this privilege, that God is a shield and a hiding-place. The word 
discovers God under these notions, the word invites and encourageth 
us to put God to this use, the word assures us of the divine protection, 
it directeth us to the qualification of the persons that shall enjoy this 


privilege, they that can trust God, and walk uprightly with him ; and 
it directeth us to expect the blessing, not with absolute confidence, but 
leaving it to God. 

Thirdly, The third thing I am to do is to show this word must be 
applied by faith, ' I hope in thy word.' Hope is not strictly taken 
here, but for faith, or a certain expectation of the blessing promised. 
What doth faith do here ? Why, the use of faith is 

1. To quiet the heart in waiting God's leisure: Ps. xxxiii. 20, ' Our 
soul waiteth for the Lord ; he is our help and our shield.' If God be 
our help and shield, then faith is quietly to wait the Lord's leisure ; 
till he sends deliverance, the word must bear up our hearts, and we 
must be contented to tarry his time: Isa. xxviii. 16, ' He that believeth 
shall not make haste,' will not outrun God. 

2. In fortifying the heart against present difficulties, that when all 
visible helps and interests are cut off, yet we may encourage ourselves 
in the Lord. When they were wandering in the wilderness, and had 
neither house nor home, then Moses, the man of God, pens that psalm, 
and how doth he begin it ? ' Lord, thou hast been our dwelling-place 
in all generations/ Ps. xc. 1. What was wanting in sense they saw was 
made up in the all-sufficiency of God. And so here is the use of faith, 
when in defiance of all difficulties we can see an all -sufficiency in God 
to counterbalance that which is wanting in sense. So doth David, Ps. 
iii. 3, ' Lord,' saith he, ' thou art my shield and glory, and the lifter 
up of my head/ Look to that psalm ; it was penned when David was 
driven from his palace royal by Absalom : when he was in danger, 
God was his shield ; when his kingdom and honour were laid in the 
dust, God was his glory ; when he was under sorrow and shame, and 
enemies insulting over him, when the people rose against him, and he 
was in great dejection of spirit, God was the lifter up of his head. 
This is getting under the covert of this shield, or compass of this 

3. The use of faith is to quicken us to go on cheerfully in our duty, 
and with a quiet heart, resting upon God's love, power, and truth. So 
David, Ps. cxxxi. 5, ' Into thy hands I commit my spirit, for thou hast 
redeemed me, Lord God of truth/ David was then in great 
danger ; the net was laid for him, as he saith in the former verse ; 
and when he was likely to perish, what doth he do? He casts all 
his cares upon God, and trusts him with his life, * Into thy hands I 
commit my spirit/ that is, his life, safety, &c. 

Use 1. Admire the goodness of God, who will be all things to his 
people. If we want a house, he will be our dwelling-place ; if we 
want a covert, he will be our shield, our hiding-place ; whatever we 
want, God will supply it. There is a notable expression: Ps. xci. 9, 
' Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the Most 
High, thy habitation.' Mark that double notion ; a habitation is the 
place of our abode in time of peace, a refuge the place of our retreat 
in a time of war. Be it peace or war, God will be all in all ; he will 
be a fountain of blessing to us in a time of peace, he will be our 
habitation there where we have our sweetest comforts ; and then in 
time when dangers and difficulties are abroad, God will be a refuge 
and a place of retreat to our souls. 


Use 2. To persuade us to contentation in a time of trouble. Though 
we have not a palace, yet if we have but a hiding-place ; though our 
condition be not so commodious as we do desire, yet if God will vouch 
safe a little liberty in our service we must be content, if he will give 
us a little safety though not plenty, for here is not our full reward. 
And therefore it is well we can make this use of God, to be our shield 
and hiding-place, though we have not that ample condition which a 
carnal heart would fancy. God never undertook in his covenant to 
maintain us at such a rate, nor thus to enlarge our portion ; if he will 
vouchsafe a little security and safety to us during the time of our pil 
grimage, we must be content. 

Use 3. This should more encourage us against the evil of sin, since 
God assures us of protection and defence against the evil of trouble. 
If God did leave us to shift for ourselves, and never expressed himself 
in his word for our comfort, then we were more excusable, though not 
altogether, if we did shift and turn aside to crooked paths, because 
we are under an obligation to obey, whatsoever it cost us. But when 
he hath offered himself to be our shield and our hiding-place, to stand 
by us, be with us, carry us through fire and water, all dangers and 
difficulties, shall we warp now and turn aside from God ? Gen. xvii. 
1, saith the Lord, ' I am God all-sufficient ; walk before me, and be 
thou perfect.' There is enough in God ; why should we trouble our 
selves, or why should we run to any practices which God will not own ? 

Use 4. It presseth us to depend upon God's protection. Shall I 
urge arguments to you ? 

1. This is one. Every one must have a hiding-place. Saith 
Solomon, The conies are a feeble folk, yet they have their burrows 
and holes. All creatures must depend upon somewhat, especially the 
children of God, that are exposed to a thousand difficulties. You 
must expect to have your faith and patience tried if ever you come to 
inherit the promises, and during that time it is good to have a hiding- 
place and a shield. 

2. Your hearts will not be kept in safety unless you make God your 
strong defence. When Phocas fortified cities to secure his ill-gotten 
goods, a voice was heard, Sin within will soon batter down all those 
walls and fortifications. Unless God be our hiding-place and shield, 
the strongest defences in the world are not enough to keep us from 
danger. All the shifts we run into will but entangle us the more, and 
drive us the more from God, and to greater inconvenience : 2 Chron. 
xxviii. 20, as the king of Assyria to Ahaz ; he distressed him, but 
helped him not. So many run away from God's protection, and seek 
out means of safety for themselves, and will not trust him, but seek to 
secure themselves by some shifts of their own. They do but plunge 
themselves into troubles so much the more, and draw greater incon 
veniences upon themselves. There is a great deal of sin and danger 
in departing from God, and he can soon blast our confidences. All 
those places of safety we fancy to ourselves can soon be demolished 
and battered down. God will blast our carnal shifts. 

3. It is a thing that we owe to God by virtue of the fundamental 
article of the covenant. If you have chosen God for your God, then 
you have chosen him for your refuge. Every one in his straits runs 

YEK. 114.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 175 

to the God he hath chosen. Nature taught the heathens in their 
distress to run to their gods. You may see the pagan mariners, a sort of 
men usually not much haunted with religious thoughts, yet when the 
storm arose, the sea wrought and was tempestuous, danger grew upon 
them, and they were afraid : ' They called every man upon his god/ 
Jonah i. 5 ; they were sensible that some divine power must give them 
protection. It immediately results from the owning of a God, that we 
must trust him with our safety ; and so, if we have taken the true God 
for our God, we have taken him for our refuge and hiding-place : Euth 
ii. 12, ' A full reward be given thee of the Lord God of Israel, under 
whose wings thou art come to trust.' When Euth came to profess the 
true God, by taking the God of Israel for her God, it is expressed thus ; 
she did commit herself to his providence and protection : and therefore 
covetousness, because of its trust in riches, is called idolatry ; it is a 
breach of the fundamental article of the covenant, taking God for our God. 

4. This trust ever succeeds well. It will be of great use to you to 
still and calm your thoughts, and free you from many anxious cares, 
and in due time it will bring deliverance according to his promise. 
How may we thus trust in God ? Why ! commit and submit your 
persons and all your conditions and affairs to his providence. This is 
to trust in God, to make him your hiding-place and your shield. 
These notions are often used in scripture, 2 Tim. i. 12 ; Prov. xvi. 3 ; 
Ps. xxxvii. 5. If there be a thing to be brought about for you, commit 
it and submit it to God ; he is able, wise, loving, and faithful ; he will 
do what shall be for the best. Commit your comforts, your health, 
liberty, peace, your all into God's hands, for he is the author of all; let 
the Lord do what he will. This is to trust in God, when you can thus 
without trouble or anxious care refer yourselves to the wise disposal 
of his providence. 

[1.] No hurt can come to you without God's leave. No creature 
can move or stir, saving not only by his permission, but by his influ 
ence. Others may have a will to hurt, but not power unless given 
them from above, as Christ told Pilate. The devil is a raging adver 
sary against the people of God, but he is forced to ask leave to touch 
either Job's goods or his person ; he could not touch his skin, or any 
thing that belonged to him without a commission from God, Job i. ; 
nay, he must ask leave to enter into the herd of swine, Mat. viii. 31. 
And Tertullian hath a notable gloss upon that. If God hath num 
bered the bristles of swine, certainly he hath numbered much more the 
hairs of the saints ; if he cannot enter into a herd of swine, he cannot 
worry a friend of Christ's, without God's leave. 

[2.] Consider how much God hath expressed his singular affection, 
and his care and providence over his people. There are many 
emphatical expressions in scripture ; that is one, Mat. x. 29, 30, ' The 
very hairs of your head are numbered/ Mark, he doth not speak of 
the heart, or hands, or feet, those that we call parts which are neces 
sary to the conservation of life ; but he speaks of the excrementitious 
parts, which are rather for convenience and ornament than necessity. 
What is more slight than the shedding a hair of the head ? Thus he 
expresses the particular care of his people. Again, Zech. ii. 8, ' He 
that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye/ No part is more 


tender than the eye ; and the apple of the eye, how hath nature 
guarded it, that it may receive no prejudice ! So Isa. xlix. 15, ' Can 
a mother forget her sucking-child ? ' c. See how his tender affection 
and yearning bowels are expressed ; passions in females are most 
vehement, therefore God alludes to mothers' affections. And mark, it 
is not a child that can shift for itself, but a sucking- child, that is 
wholly helpless, that was but newly given her to draw her love. Nature 
hath left tender affections on the hearts of parents to their tender 
infants ; yet if a woman should be so unnatural, ' Yet will I not forget 
thee,' saith the Lord. Now, shall we not trust him, and make him 
our hiding-place ? Isa. xxvii. 3, ' I the Lord do keep it ; I will water 
it every moment ; lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day/ God 
will keep his people by day, lest by force they break in upon his 
heritage ; and keep them by night, lest they steal in privily, and by 
secret machinations hurt them. 

[3.] Again, consider how many arguments there are to work us to 
this trust. Sometimes the scripture teacheth us to argue from the 
less to the greater : Mat. vi. 30, ' 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 ? ' Sometimes the 
scripture teacheth us to argue on the contrary; from the greater to the 
less, Kom. viii. 32. If God hath given us his Christ, will he not with 
him freely give us all things ? Sometimes the scripture teacheth us 
to argue from things past. God hath been your shield and helper, he 
hath delivered from the mouth of the lion and bear, and this un- 
circumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, 1 Sam. xvii. 37. Some 
times from things past and present to things to come: 2 Cor. i. 10, 
' Who hath delivered from so great a death, and doth deliver ; in 
whom we trust that he will yet deliver/ Sometimes from things to 
come to things present : Luke xii. 32, ' Fear not, little flock ; for it is 
your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom/ Anne dabit 
regnwn, et non dabit viaticum ? If he give a kingdom, will he not 
give daily bread ? Will he not preserve you while he hath a mind to 
use you ? Thus our unbelief is overpowered by divers arguments to 
press us to this trust. Well, then, run to your security. How so ? 

First, In defiance of all difficulty, own God as your hiding-place 
and shield. David when he was driven from his palace royal, and 
wandered up and down for his life, and when his enemies began to 
say, Now there is no help for him in God, Ps. iii. 3 ; all Israel were 
against him. Many there be which say thus : his son drives him 
from his palace ; now there is no safety, nor defence ; but saith he, 
* Lord, thou art my shield and my glory, and the lifter up of my head/ 
This is the way to get under the covert of his wing, when in the face 
of all difficulties we will own God as our hiding-place. 

Secondly, Sue out your protection by earnest prayer. God hath 
given us promises as so many bonds upon himself, and we must put 
these bonds in suit. Our necessity leads us to the promises, and the 
promises lead us to the throne of grace : Ps. cxli. 9, ' I fly to thee ; 
nide me, Lord ; keep me from the snare which they have laid for me/ 
Plead with him, and say, Lord, thou hast said thou wilt be my refuge 
and hiding-place ; whither should a child go but to .its father ? and 

VEIL. 115.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 177 

whither should I go but to thee, for thou art my God ? Challenge 
him upon his word. See how David expressetli himself : Ps. xvii. 7 r 
8, ' Show thy marvellous loving-kindness, thou that savest by thy 
right hand them which put their trust in thee. Keep me as the apple 
of thine eye : hide me tinder the shadow of thy wings.' Go challenge 
God upon his word : Lord, thou hast said thou wilt save those that 
trust in thee, those that depend upon thee. The eye is offended with 
the least dust, and nature hath provided a fence and covert for it. 
Thus may we go to God, and challenge such kind of protection : Keep 
me as the apple of thine eye, hide me under thy wings. As the dam 
is ready to flutter and spread her wings over the young brood when 
they fly to her, so will God. 

Thirdly, Take notice whenever it is made good; give God his 
honour when he hath been a hiding-place and protection to you, that 
you may observe his providence : Ps. xviii. 30, ' As for God, his way 
is perfect : the word of the Lord is tried : he is a buckler to all those 
that trust in him.' Well, I have waited upon God according to these 
promises, and lo ! it is come to pass as the Lord hath said. So Ps. 
xxviii. 7, ' The Lord is my strength and my shield ; my heart trusteth 
in him, and I am helped ; ' Gen. xlviii. 16, ' The angel of the covenant, 
which hath fed me all my days, and redeemed me from all evil.' He 
speaks of the faithfulness of God and of the mediator in all those 
promises of protection. 

Fourthly, Constantly make use of God. You may think this dis 
course may be of no use to you, because you are out of fears and 
dangers : why, you are constantly to make use of God, be it well or ill, 
and to live upon God. All our comforts are from God, as well as our 
support in trouble. Certainly he that lives upon God in prosperity, 
will live upon him in adversity. Oh ! when you are w r ell at ease, and 
abound in all things, you take these things out of the hand of God ; 
you will learn better to make him your refuge. But he that lives 
upon the creature in his prosperity, when the creature fails he will be 
in utter distress, and know not what to do. 


Depart from me, ye evil-doers : for I will keep the commandments 
of my God. VER. 115. 

MOST of the passages of this psalm are directed to God himself; but 
now he speaks to carnal men, shaking them off, as Christ will at the 
last day. His speech is then, Mat. vii. 22, ' Depart from me, ye workers 
of iniquity ; ' and so saith David, ' Depart from me, ye evil-doers.' 
Whether David speaks this for his own sake, or for others' instruction, 
as he doth many things in this psalm, I will not dispute. But certainly 
the drift of this verse is to show, that if we intend to walk constantly 
with God, we should keep at a distance from wicked men. Separation 
from them is necessary for a conjunction with God. If they be not 
God's, they should be none of yours, for you are his : * Depart from 

VOL. VIII. 31 


me, ye evil-doers : for I will keep the commandments of my God/ 

1. Take notice of the persons to whom he speaks, ye evil-doers. 

2. What is said ; he renounceth all commerce with them, depart 
from me. 

The reason of this renunciation, for I will keep the commandments 
of my God. 

Where you may note 

El.] The fixedness of his resolution, Twill. 
2.] The matter resolved upon, I will keep the commandments, which 
they broke or made light of, and so their friendship and company was 
a hindrance to him. 

[3.] The inducing consideration, my God ; he is the comfort and 
refuge of my soul, more than all men are to me. Friends are dear, 
but God should be dearer. None is ours so much as he is ; he is my 
God, therefore it is him that I will please ; my God's commands I will 
conform myself to. 

All the business is to show on what grounds David bids the evil 
doers depart from him. 

1. It is either because of his confidence in God ; as ver. 114, ' Thou 
art my hiding-place and my shield,' therefore depart. He did not fear 
their disturbance or persecution, because God would protect him, so 
as he should peaceably and cheerfully attend his service. This form of 
speech is so used, Ps. vi. 8, ' Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity, 
for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping ; ' that is, Now I 
reckon not of your assaults and molestations ; my God will carry me 
through his work. Or 

2. It is a renouncing of their aid and assistance offered upon ill 
terms ; and so the meaning would be, that he would not stand by their 
interest, or cry up a confederacy with them, and admit of any other 
ways of safety but what were fully consistent with his duty to God. 
Depart from me, as repelling their temptations and carnal counsel. 
Christ saith to Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan, when he came with 
carnal counsel ; so David saith, Depart from me ; you labour in vain 
to draw me to commit wickedness with you : I must keep in with my 
God, not with you: do his commandments, not follow your fancies. Or 

3. It is a renouncing of all society with them, lest he should be 
corrupted by their evil examples or their carnal suggestions and entice 
ments. He seems to speak this as fearing a snare and hindrance by 
their company and intimacy. This is the consideration that I prefer. 
The points may be two : 

1. That they which would have God for their God must keep his 

2. They that would keep his commandments must avoid the 
company of the wicked. 

Dock 1. They that would have God for their God must keep his 

This point I shall soon despatch, for it often comes in this psalm. 

1. A covenant relation inferreth a covenant duty. You know the 
tenor of the covenant runs thus, ; I will be your God, and ye shall be 
my people/ Jer. xxxi. 33; Ezek. xi. 20; Zech. xiii. 9; and other places. 

VER. 115.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 179 

Where observe this : the stipulation is mutual ; there is something 
which God offers, and something which God requires. A covenant is 
not made up all of promises ; there is a stipulation of obedience, as 
well as a promise of happiness ; and both must concur : a keeping the 
commandments must be, as well as taking hold of the privileges of the 
covenant : Ps. ciii. 18, ' To such as keep his covenant, that remember 
his commandments to do them.' Both must concur. 

'But let us observe distinctly what God offers and what God requires. 

[1.] What God offers: He offers himself to be our God; that is, to be 
a God to bless, and a God to govern and rule ; and so the offer of God 
infers not only dependence upon him as he will be a God to bless, 
but subjection to him as he will be a God to rule and govern. Those 
that would have God's blessing must be under his dominion, for the 
notion of our God implies a sovereign as well as a benefactor ; he doth 
not leave us to our liberty to live as we list, for then he is not God 
nor supreme. Therefore it is but equal and reasonable he should rule 
and govern, and we obey. 

[2.] But what he requires ; that maketh it the more plain. You 
shall be my people ; that noteth separation from all others, and a 
dedication to God's use, and a walking according to the tenor of that 
dedication : Deut. xxix. 9, 10, ' This day thou art become the people 
of the Lord thy God ; therefore obey the voice of the Lord thy God, 
and keep his commandments, to love him, obey him, fear him, trust in 
him.' Well, then, as God offers himself to be a God to rule and 
govern us according to his will, so we, in giving up ourselves to be 
his people, resign ourselves up to his government. 

2. In point of gratitude as well as covenant obligation. If God, the 
other contracting party, were our equal, as he is our superior, yet the 
kindness we receive from our God should move us to do him all the 
service we can. His kindness and grace in the covenant should make 
us fearful to offend: ' They shall fear the Lord and his goodness,' Hosea 
iii. 5 ; and careful to please God : ' To walk worthy of God unto all 
well-pleasing,' Col. iii. 10. And therefore love is said to keep the com 
mandments : love, which is enkindled by a sense of God's love to us in 
the covenant of grace, will put us upon obeying and careful pleasing 
of God. 

Use 1. Information, to show us how we should make sin odious to 
us, both by way of caution and humiliation ; caution against the 
admission of sin, and humiliation because of the commission of it. 

1. Caution. When thou art sinning, remember it is against thy 
God, who hath made thee, who hath kept thee, who hath bought thee, 
whom thou hast owned in covenant, who never showed any backward 
ness to thy good. Is this thy kindness to thy friend, as he said, to sin 
against God, thy best friend ? See, the covenant interest is produced 
to stir up indignation against the offences of others : Jude 4, ' They 
turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness.' There is very much in 
that, that the grace of our God should be abused. So Isa. vii. 13, 'Is 
it nothing to weary men, but will ye weary my God also ? ' Wilt 
thou grieve the spirit of thy God, and violate his holy law ? If we 
cannot endure an offence in another, much less in ourselves. 

2. For humiliation. This should wound us to the quick, to sin 


against the Lord our God, Jer. iii. 25. Every sin is a breach of 
covenant. What is simple fornication in others, is adultery in you, or 
breach of marriage vow: Luke xv., 'I have sinned against heaven, and 
before thee.' 

Use 2 To press us to behave ourselves to God, as he is the Lord our 
God. Why? 

1. Otherwise you do but mock him : Luke vi. 46, ' Why call ye me 
Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say ?' Oui res nominisub- 
jecia negatur, nomini illuditur, saith Tertullian it is but a mockery of 
God to give him the title, and deny him the duty included in that title. 
As the soldiers which saluted Christ with, Hail, king of the Jews, yet 
at the same time spat in his face and buffeted him ; so for us to say, 
My God: Mai. i. 6, ' If I be a lord, where is my fear ? If I be a 
father, where is mine honour ? ' 

2. Consider, God will not be mocked, but will avenge the quarrel of 
his covenant, Lev. xxvi. 25. A people that profess God to be their 
God, all the judgments that shall come upon them, they come in pur 
suance of God's quarrel, because they give God the covenant title, and 
do not perform the covenant duty. There is hypocrisy in them, in that 
they call him Our God, and make a show to be his peculiar people, and 
in the meantime do neither serve him, love him, nor obey him as our 
God. And there is plain treachery, in that we set up another god, the 
lust and sin which we would gratify with the displeasure of God ; so 
that we are not a people for him according to the covenant. 

3. This God will bear us out in our work : Dan. iii. 17 ; ' Our God 
whom we serve is able to deliver us/ You may promise yourselves all 
that a God can do for you ; therefore let this persuade you to do as 
David, firmly to resolve, and exactly to observe, all that he hath 
required of us. First, Firmly to resolve upon a strict course of obed 
ience. I will, saith David in the text ; I am resolved of it, whatever 
cometh on it, or whatsoever temptations I meet with to the contrary. 
Many are convinced of their evil courses, and that there is a necessity 
to leave them, but want resolution, therefore are inconstant in all their 
ways. Secondly, Exactly to observe ; I will keep the commandments of 
my God. He that is our God, it is fit he should be obeyed in all 
things: Micah vi. 8, 'Walk humbly with thy God.' You deny his 
sovereignty by interpretation, if you stick at any precept of his. 

Doct, 2. They that would keep the commandments of God must 
avoid the company of the wicked. 

1. I shall show how far the company of the wicked is to be avoided. 

2. Why they that would keep the co.mmandments of God are to 
do so. 

First, How far the company of the wicked is to be avoided. On the 
one hand 

1 . There is necessary civil converse allowed ; for otherwise, as the 
apostle saith, we must needs go out of the world, 1 Cor. v. 10. Neces 
sary converse in buying, selling, trading, performing the duties of our 
relations, it is allowed. 

2. We must not forsake the church because of some wicked men 
therein. In God's floor there is wheat and chaff. Saith Augustine, 
Fugio paleam, ne hoc sim ; non aream, ne nihil sim I fly from the 

VER. 115.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 181 

chaff that I may not be it ; but I may not, I do not fly from the floor, 
iest I be nothing. Christ maintained communion with the church 
wherein there were men corrupt in manners, and bids us to hear those 
that sit in Moses' chair, though they say and do not, Mat. xxiii. 1, 2. 

3. We are not hindered from endeavouring the good of their souls ; 
whilst there is hope and opportunity to gain them, we may converse 
with them for their good. Thus Jesus Christ did converse with sin 
ners to gain them : Luke xv. 2, ' The Pharisees murmured, saying, 
This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.' It is one thing to 
converse with sinners to harden them in their sins, another thing to 
converse with them to gain them to God ; as physicians to heal the 
sick, not as their associates to delight in their company. So we may 
converse with them with all gentleness, remembering that we ourselves 
were sometime foolish, disobedient, deceived, &c. Thus we must not 
avoid them. 

But yet we should avoid them so 

1. That we should not be familiar with them. Eschew all unne 
cessary voluntary fellowship and familiarity : Ps. xxvi. 4, ' I have not 
sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers.' We are 
not to choose them for our companions, lest we be corrupted and 
deadened by their example. 

2. We are not to enter into a durable relation with them, such as 
will put us upon continual converse. When we are at liberty, 2 Cor. 
vi. 15, 'Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers/ Parents, 
upon any conveniences of estate or outward emoluments, are not to* 
dispose of their children there where they may necessarily converse 
with wicked persons : Exod. xxxiv. 15, ' Thou shalt not take of their 
daughters to thy sons, lest they go a-whoring after thejr gods.' 
Instances there are many of the great mischief that hath come by 
entering into these durable relations with wicked men : Gen. vi. 2, 
' The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair ; and 
they took them wives of all which they chose.' Men in the visible- 
church are called the sons of God, they that were of the line of Seth ;. 
and they that were of the line of Cain are called the daughters cl 
men : to go in to them, because they are fair, or they are noble, or 
because they are of our rank, this was the provoking sin that helped 
to bring the flood upon them. So Ps. cvi. 35, ' They were mingled 
among the heathen, and learned their works.' Solomon gave an 
instance that he was corrupted by his wives. So it is said of Jehoram, 
the son of Jehoshaphat, 2 Kings viii. 18, ' That he walked in the 
way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab ; for the daughter 
of Ahab was his wife, and he did evil in the sight of the Lord.' In 
ecclesiastical stories we read of Valence the emperor, who married 
with an Arian lady, and so was ensnared thereby, and became a cruel 
persecutor of the catholics; as the best metals, mixed with baser 
metals, are embased thereby. 

3. If necessitated to keep company with them, because of our dwell 
ings, relations, and business, let us not comply with them in their 
sins: Eph. v. 11, 'Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of 
darkness, but rather reprove them/ We may freely converse with 
such as we are bound to by the laws of necessity, but we must con- 


verse with them with a great deal of caution, that we may not be 
ensnared. David had no great liking to his companions, yet he was 
forced to abide with them in the deserts : Ps. cxx. 5, 6, ' Woe is me 
that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar ; my soul 
hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.' The apostle would have 
the wife to abide with the husband, 1 Cor. vii. 12, and servants to 
abide with their masters, 1 Peter ii. 18, and children with their 
parents, Eph. vi. 1 ; but no tie of that kind doth bind us to partake 
with them in their sins. And being thus necessitated to their con 
verse, we ought to have the more fear and caution. And thus Joseph 
lived in Egypt untainted, and Nehemiah in Ahasuerus's court, and 
Lot in Sodom, and Daniel in the court of Persia ; necessity forced 
them thither, but all their care was to keep themselves unspotted from 
the world in the places where they lived. 

Secondly, Why they that would keep the commandments of God 
are to do so. 

1. Because it is hard to keep familiarity with them, and avoid and 
escape the contagion of their example. Example in general hath a 
great force, especially evil example ; the force of example is great. 
Why ? Seneca gives the reason. Homines plus oculis credunt, quam 
auribus, because an example strikes more upon the heart than a bare 
word. Man, being a sociable creature, is mightily encouraged to do 
as others do, especially in an evil example ; for we are more susceptible 
of evil than we are of good. Sickness is sooner communicated than 
health ; we easily catch a disease one of another, but those that are 
sound do not communicate health to the diseased. Or rather, to take 
God's own expression, that sets it forth thus, by touching the unclean 
the man became unclean under the law T , but by touching the clean the 
man was not purified. The conversation of the wicked hath more 
power to corrupt the good, than the conversation of the virtuous and 
holy to correct the lewd. The prophet tells us, Isa. vi. 5, ' I am a 
man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean 
lips/ We soon increase our pollution by living among them. Jose- 
phus relates that Agrippa at first was a lover of virtue and of his 
country, that he stood for the liberty of the people of the Jews ; but 
by conversing with Caligula the Roman emperor, being intimate and 
familiar with him, learned his manners ; and as he affected divine 
honours, so Agrippa too, and God smites him with lice, Acts xii. In 
infected places we get a disease, though we feel it not presently ; so 
secretly our hearts are tainted by example. As a man that walks in 
the sun, unawares before he thinks of it his countenance is tanned, so 
our hearts are defiled : Prov. xxii. 24, * Make no friendship with an 
angry man, and with a furious man thou shalt not go.' The furies of 
passion are so uncomely and so displeasing, that a man would think 
that he should not take infection there, that the sight should rather 
deter than invite him ; but insensibly we learn their ways when we 
make friendship with furious and angry men ; for saith Solomon, in 
the next verse, * Lest you learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul/ 
Melancthon saith, By converse familiarly with the wicked, insensibly 
we grow wicked. He that toucheth pitch is defiled, and a little leaven 
leaveneth the whole lump, 1 Cor. v. 6. 

VER. 115.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 183 

2. They will molest and disturb us in the exercise of godliness by 
their scoffs and persecutions ; you can never be acceptable to them if 
you live as you should. Why ? For you will upbraid their consciences 
by your lives, dart conviction and reproofs into them ; as Noah con 
demned the world, Heb. xi. 7. Christ saith, The world hates me be 
cause I testify of it that the works thereof are evil, John vii. 7. You 
that live up to your profession, and do not run into the same excess of 
riot with others, your estrangement of course revives guilt upon their 
conscience, and therefore not to follow them in all things will be dis 
tasteful. As sore eyes cannot endure the light, so they cannot endure 
you if you are faithful to God. Diversity of humours cannot long agree 
together. You must either be like them, or be hated by them. You 
must either jump with them in all things, or expect a greater trouble. 
Now there is less danger in the flight than fight. Now a total with- 
drawment is better than a partial compliance. 

3. They will seek to pervert us by carnal suggestions and counsels ; 
as the Psalmist speaks, Ps. i. 1, ' Blessed is the man that walketh not 
in the counsel of the ungodly.' Like troublesome flies, they will 
always be buzzing about us to take share and lot with them, and impor 
tunate suitors will prevail at length, Prov. i. 10-15, the enticings of 
the wicked are spoken of : ' My son, if sinners entice thee, consent 
thou not ; walk thou not in the way with them ; refrain thy foot from 
their path/ &c. 

4. Familiarity with them will be a blemish and scandal upon your 
good name. Every man's company declares what he is. Birds of a 
sort flock together. So that, if they rob not the conscience, they 
wound the reputation, and we are polluted and defiled by being of the 
same society, which a Christian should be tender of. When a 
scandalous sin breaketh out in the church, the blot lies upon all. 
The apostle tells us in Heb. xii. 15, ' When any root of bitterness 
springs up, thereby many are defiled;' many are defiled, not only 
by the contagion of the example, but the imputation of the fault ; 
much more in private and intimate familiarity doth this hold good. 
A carnal man delights in such as are like him, and run with him in 
the same folly and sin. But when a man is changed, he will change 
his company : Ps. cxix. 53, ' I am a companion of all them that fear 
thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.' That is one thing David 
avoucheth for his innocency. One wicked man falls in with another, 
as the tenon doth into the mortise, and their spirits suit frequently : 
Ps. Ix. 18, ' When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with 
him, and hast been partaker with adulterers/ There is no such out 
ward sign to discover our temper. 

5. If we have any love for God, and zeal for his glory, their com 
pany must needs be grievous and offensive to us ; for how can they 
that love God delight in their company that are always grieving the 
Spirit of God with unsavoury speeches and a vain conversation ? Ps. 
cxxxix. ^21, 'Do not I hate them, Lord, that hate thee ? and am 
not I grieved with those that rise up against thee ? I hate them with 
perfect hatred : I count them mine enemies.' So 2 Peter ii. 8, Lot's 
* righteous soul was grieved from day to day.' It is not only said his 
righteous soul was vexed, which is passive, but he is said to vex him- 


self at their wickedness, which is an active word. Injuries done to 
God should touch us no less nearly than injuries done to ourselves ; it 
will be a continual grief and vexation of heart to us. Well, then, how 
can their company be acceptable to us, unless we have a mind to vex 
and bring trouble upon ourselves ? 

6. Our familiarity with them may be a means to harden them in their 
sin, and our withdrawing a means to humble them : 2 Thes. iii. 6, 14, 

* Withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly : 
and if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and 
have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.' While you 
company freely with them, you seem tacitly to approve their doing, 
and make them more obstinate in their way. An alien from the faith 
may be melted with kindness, but a brother that walketh' disorderly 
is more ashamed if you withdraw from him, whereas otherwise you 
seem to show approbation. He that biddeth him God-speed is par 
taker of his evil deeds, 2 John 10, 11, as he seemeth to countenance 
them in their damnable errors ; but now when a man lives as an outcast 
from God's people, this may work upon his heart. Society with God's 
children is not only a duty, but a privilege ; by the loss of this privilege 
we are to make them sensible of the evil course wherein they are. 

7. The great judgments that follow evil company ; therefore we 
must riot voluntarily cry up a confederacy with them : Rev. xviii. 4, 

* Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and 
that ye receive not of her plagues.' In conversing with the wicked 
there is a double danger infection of sin, and infliction of punish 
ment : Prov. xiii. 20, ' A companion of fools shall be destroyed ; not 
only fools, but their companions.' Lot, living among the wicked 
Sodomites, he suffered with them. You know, when Sodom was as 
saulted, Lot was taken prisoner, and his goods plundered as theirs 
were, Gen. xiv. 12. Jehoshaphat being associated with Ahab, was in 
danger of death, 1 Kings xxii. 37. The heathens were sensible that 
wicked men were marked out for vengeance. The Athenians would 
not wash in the same bath with the persecutors of Socrates ; so Polycarp 
would not go into the same bath with Cerinthus, but said, The enemy 
of truth is here ; let us depart hence, lest the bath fall down upon us. 1 

Use 1. Reproof of their foolhardiness that rush upon evil company, 
and fear nothing. What ! are your hearts so good that you think 
scorn that any company should hurt you ? Consider, is sin grown 
less dangerous than it was ? or are we come to such a height of perfec 
tion as to be above temptation to sin ? Or have we so good a command 
of ourselves that we need not take such care of our company ? that we 
shall do well enough though we play about the cockatrice's hole, and 
run into all companies and societies without fear ? Good David here 
in the text is fain to proclaim, ' Depart from me, ye workers of ini 
quity/ and to banish them out of his company : and David exceeded 
us in holiness, and surely we live in more wicked days than he did. 
See how it succeeded with Peter : he would venture into the high 
priest's hall, and sit with the company there, and how did it succeed 
with him ? It brought him to a denial of Christ. Eve was bold with 

1 Irensous relates this of the apostle John, giving Polycarp as his authority : Adv. 
Hcer. iii. 3. ED. 

VER. 115.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 185 

the serpent, and the Virgin Mary shamefaced with an angel, Luke i. 
29, 30 ; and you know how it fell out both with the one and the 
other : one was a means to ruin all mankind, and the other to repair 
it. What is the matter ? Is not sin the same as it was ? and is not 
human nature as bad as ever ? What spells and charms have we 
about ourselves that the people of God had not heretofore ? Or are we 
more fortified, and so are less watchful ? Shall we be running still 
upon the pit's brink, and show how far we can go and not fall in ? 
Are all those cautions out of date that bid us shun the occasions of 
sin ? and is not evil company one of the chiefest of them ? Yet some 
men can frolic it in all companies, revel and dance, run to plays, and 
no harm they think of all this. Solomon says, Prov. iv. 14, 15, 
'Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil 
men ; avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.' See 
how he heaps up words. Did he trifle and speak needlessly when 
with such earnestness he pressed this, that we would be careful of as 
sociating with wicked men ? Surely no ; and yet men are for all 
companies, as if there were no danger to their souls. 

Use 2. Let us be persuaded to shake off the society of the wicked. 
Depart from them that depart from God, and would draw you along 
with them. But chiefly should we shun them, because bad company 
is the pest arid bane of godliness. Under the law, a man that had a 
running issue, whoever touched him was unclean, Lev. xiv. 4. And 
so it is here ; you are defiled by your conversing with them. Men 
of different humours, spirits, interests, how can they agree ? Either 
you must abate somewhat of your zeal, or you can never suit if you 
enter into friendship with them. You cannot deal so plainly against 
their sins, or gainsay them in their evil practices, but will wax cold 
by little and little. If you be in defiance with them, that will make 
way for calumny and all manner of injuries; therefore it is better 
never to begin acquaintance with them. Consider, again, if none of 
this fall out, yet their company will be a loss to you ; as it spendeth 
time arid hindereth you of many opportunities of religious privacy 
and service of God ; so, if no other way you had a loss by them, they 
would not better you ; for they are not company you expect to gain by. 
As he said, Nunquam ad te accedo, quin doctior recedam, quin 
sanctior I never came to such an one but I went away more learned 
and holy. Certainly a Christian should choose such for his company 
that he might say, I go away more holy, otherwise his company would 
be a loss to us. 

But to pursue this argument a little further. To give some obser 
vations, then some helps against evil company. 
First, Some observations. 

1. This concerns young ones especially, and those that are not in a 
radicated state of grace. Indeed, it concerns all. If you mean to 
keep close to God, you must divorce your heart from them ; but chiefly 
young ones, that are either left to choose, or not confirmed in their 
choice, for the danger to them is greater than to others. Oh ! how 
many young ones are undone by carnal company ! Eusebius tells us 
of a young man that was bred up under St John, who by evil company 
was not only drawn to be a robber, but the prince and captain of 


robbers (Euseb. lib. iii. c. 23), until St John went out and met him. 
And Gregory the Great speaks of Gordiana, his own aunt, that was 
drawn off from the love of God, and the strictness of a holy life, after 
the death of her two sisters, Tharsylla and jEmiliana, by her com 
panions. And St Augustine, lib. viii. Confess, cap. 8, Quern fructum 
liabui miser aliquando in us quce mine recolligens erubesco, maxime 
in illofurto, in quo ipsumfurtum amavi, niliil aliud ; et ipsum esset 
niliil, et ego eo misertor, et tamen solus id non fecissem. Sic recordor 
animum tune meum, solus omnino id non fecissem, ergo amavi consor 
tium eorum cum quibus id fed Lord, what cause have I to be 
ashamed when I remember these things, especially the theft, where I 
loved the theft for the theft's sake ! What was the gain but a few 
apples stolen ? And yet, saith he, I had never done it if I had been 
alone ; oh ! it was the company of them that drew me to this theft. 
Then afterwards, It was my companions drew me to this. nimis 
iniqua amicitia ! seductio mentis investigabilis cruel friendship ! 
when they said, Come, let us go and do it ; I was ashamed not to be 
shameless, and as evil as they. When, then, in this waxen age, youth 
are above all to avoid the company of evil-doers. 

2. We must not only take heed that we be not inured to evil, but 
also that we be not deadened to that which is good. Example may 
corrupt us either way. Neglect of God will keep us out of heaven, as 
well as profaneness. Now, alas ! how easily are we leavened with 
deadness and formality by our company ! Frequent society with dead- 
hearted formalists, or persons merely civil and moral, whose conference 
is empty, unsavoury, barren, may much divert our hearts from keaven, 
and do us a great deal of mischief. The apostle tells us, Heb. x. 24, 
we should ' consider one another to provoke unto love and to good 
works/ Our dulness and backwardness is such that we need the 
most powerful helps. 

^ 3. ^Of all evil company, the company of seducers, those that cause 
divisions and offences in the church, and broach novel opinions, ought 
to be avoided : Eom. xvi. 17, ' Mark them which cause divisions and 
offences, contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid 
them ;' 2 John 10, 'If any man bring another doctrine, receive him 
not into your house, neither bid him God-speed ;' 1 Tim. vi. 5, and 
men that are given to perverse disputings, ' from such withdraw thy 
self.' Error is more catching than vice, and more spreading. It is 
more catching, the face of it being represented with the loveliness of 
some pretence or other ; whereas foul actions are found hateful and 
more contrary to natural conscience ; and besides, it is more spreading. 
Vice is like a duel ; it killeth but one. Error is like a war that 
destroys many at once ; therefore we should not be familiar with these. 
Erroneous apprehensions in religion carry a marvellous compliance 
with a man's natural thoughts. 

4. It is not enough to avoid bad company, but we must choose that 
which is good. A man must have friends ; the use of them in this 
life is very great. Man. is a sociable creature, as Aristotle speaks ; 
company and friendship we must have. Christ himself was not with 
out his peculiar friends ; there was Peter, James, and John, that were 
the flower of the apostles, that were conscious to his transfiguration 

VEE. 115.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 187 

and his agonies. We must have our friends and our society, so that 
the advantage of good company is very great : Prov. xiii. 20, ' He 
that walketh with wise men shall be wise ;' their example will allure 
and excite to holy emulation, and their counsel and instruction will he 
a great help in the business of religion. Even Saul, being among the 
prophets, had his raptures, 1 Sam. xix. 23. So living in the company 
of godly men, and seeing, hearing, and conferring with them of good 
things, leaveth some impression. 

Secondly, Some helps and considerations. 

1. Consider what is our chiefest good. This is principium univer- 
salissimum. The last end or chiefest good is the principle which doth 
influence all our actions. And certainly, if men fix their last end 
aright, it will have an influence upon all they do ; our company, our 
business, our recreation, our holy duties. Well, now, consider what 
is your chiefest good and your last end. If pleasure were our chiefest 
good, and if we had nothing else to do but to pass away the time, and 
to get rid of melancholy, there would need no great care in the choice 
of our company. But enjoying the blessed God, that is our last end 
and chiefest good: everything must be answerable to help you to 

2. A sincere resolution to walk with God, to keep in with God firmly 
set ; for here David saith, ' Depart from me, ye evil-doers ; for I will 
keep the commandments of my God.' His resolution was set, there 
fore he shakes them off. When Kuth's resolution was set, Naomi left 
off persuading. When Paul's company saw his resolution, that he 
went bound in the spirit, they ceased, saying, ' The will of the Lord 
be done/ Acts xxi. 14. So this will fortify against all suggestion ; 
they will be discouraged from haunting you more when you are 

3. Our company will be a great part of our happiness in heaven : 
Heb. xii. 22, ' We are come to the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an 
innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church 
of the first-born, which are written in heaven ;' and Mat. viii. 11, 
' They shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the 
kingdom of heaven.' Company will be a great part of our happiness, 
and for the present it will be a great hindrance or a great further 
ance ; therefore, when we think of this, it will make us choose those 
with whom we shall converse to all eternity, that we may say, Now I 
shall change places, but not my company ; I shall but go from saints 
to saints. 

4. Bad company can yield you no comfort hereafter when trouble of 
conscience comes. When your heart begins to wound you, they cannot 
or will not help : Mat. xxvii. 4, ' What is that to us ? see thou to that/ 
If they draw you to inconvenience, when it comes upon you they will 
yield you no relief or comfort. Well, he that considers he is to die 
and give an account, will not displease God to please men. 



Uphold me according unto thy ivord, that I may live ; and let me not 
be ashamed of my hope. VER. 116. 

IN the former verse, David had bound himself by a firm resolution to 
keep the commandments of his God. Now presently he turneth to 
prayer, ' Lord, uphold me according to thy word, that I may live ; 
and let me not be ashamed of my hope.' Our purposes and resolutions 
will not hold out without God's confirming grace. David, that would 
have the wicked depart from him there, would have God draw nigh 
to him here. Both are necessary if we would keep the commands. 
The company of the wicked, as a great impediment, must be removed : 
' Depart from me, ye evil-doers ;' and then the assistance of God must 
be entreated : ' Uphold me according unto thy word/ &c. Two things 
he begs of God in this verse : 

1. Confirmation in waiting. 

2. The full and final accomplishment of his hope. 
In the first request there is 

1. The blessing prayed for, confirmation or sustentation, uphold 

2. The ground or warrant of asking, according unto thy word, 
Some translations have it, ' by thy word/ making it the instrument of 
his support. 

3. To what end, that I might live. 

In the second request an argument is intimated, that frustration or 
disappointment of his hope would bring shame. 

I begin with the first, the blessing prayed for, sustentation and 
support, ' Uphold me/ David speaketh not this with respect to his 
outward man, as if God should keep him alive, maugre the rage of 
his enemies. Indeed, God doth uphold his creatures in that sense, by 
his outward providence and divine maintenance. But he speaketh 
this of his inward man, the support of the soul, that God would sup 
port him in a way of faith and comfort. In ver. 114, ' Thou art my 
hiding-place and my shield : I hope in thy word.' Now, Lord, that 
I might live, keep up the life of this hope. And ver. 115, ' I will 
keep the commandments of my God.' And now he desires God would 
support him in a way of courage and obedience. Hence observe 

Doct. Sustaining grace is necessary to the saints. Confirmation in 
a state of grace is as necessary to them as conversion to it. 

There is a twofold grace which God gives habitual and actual ; 
either he works upon us per modum habitus, infusing grace, perma- 
nentis, or else per modum auxilii transientis. 

First, There is habitual grace, called in scripture the new heart and 
new spirit, Ezek. xxxvi. 26 ; and by St John called a7rep/j,a avrov, 
1 John iii. 9. the abiding seed ; and by St Paul, 2 Cor. v. 17, Kaivri 
KT'LO-IS, the new creature. All these expressions intend those fixed 
and permanent habits which are the principles of holy actions. 

Secondly, There is actual grace, for the former is not enough to 
carry us through all duties, and to uphold us in all the varieties of 

VER. 116.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 189 

this mortal condition. Why? Quia non totaliter sanat hahitual 
grace works not a total, but only a partial cure. Though there be 
the new creature wrought, though there be an abiding seed, yet there 
is something of sin, and something of the flesh still left in the soul. 
Therefore we want perpetual supplies of actual grace. Now this kind 
of grace serveth for divers uses. 

1. To direct us in the exercise of grace formerly received. A ship 
already rigged needs a pilot ; so, although God hath renewed the heart, 
yet there needs direction how to exercise and put forth that grace that 
we have received ; therefore David, Ps. cxix. 5, ' Oh, that my ways 
were directed to keep thy statutes ;' and 2 Thes. iii. 5, ' The Lord 
direct your hearts into the love of God/ &c. In the exercise of every 
grace we need new directions from God. 

2. To excite and quicken the habits of grace. This is like blowing 
up the sparks of fire that are buried under the ashes. There needs 
continual excitation, which is often sought by the saints : ' Quicken 
me, Lord, according to thy word.' And draw me, saith the spouse, 
Cant. i. 4. 

3. This actual grace serves for this use, to strengthen them in the 
operation, and to facilitate the work. This is that which is expressed 
Ps. cxix. 32, ' When thou shalt enlarge my heart ;' that when the 
inclination of the renewed heart to good things is powerfully set 
a-work, this is like filling the sails with a good wind, which carries on 
the ship merrily to its port and haven. 

4. Use it to sustain, protect, and defend the grace that we have 
against the assaults and temptations and varieties and casualties of the 
present life. And this is that which is meant here, ' Uphold me, 
Lord, that I may live.' Now this use of God's actual assistance by 
way of sustentation and protection is necessary for us upon three 
grounds (1.) Because of the natural changeableness of our spirits. 
(2.) Because of daily assaults from Satan. (3.) Because of the great 
impression which our temporal condition makes upon us. 

[1.] Because of the natural changeableness of our spirits. Man of 
himself is an unstable creature. Take him at the best, he is but a 
creature, and to be a creature and to be mutable is all one. God 
found no stability in the angels; they are creatures, and therefore 
they might sin. God only is impeccable ; and why ? Quia Deus est, 
because he is God. But all creatures may fail ; angels fell, and Adam 
fell in innocency ; and how can we hope to stand unless God uphold 
us ? The best of God's children are often troubled with fits of unbe 
lief and decays of love ; their faith and love are not always at one stay 
and tenor, but sometimes more and sometimes less. David felt the 
waverings, and was afraid of himself; therefore saith to God, ' Uphold 
m.e, that I may live.' And so all that have any spiritual experience 
see that without continual grace they cannot live, and keep body and 
soul together. They find that often purposes and resolutions are upon 
them to those things that are good, but within a while their hearts 
sink again. Such is the inconstancy and uncertainty of their affec 
tions ; now, they hope, anon they fear ; now a great flush of affections, 
anon dead again ; now humble, anon proud ; now meek, anon pas 
sionate ; now confident, then full of fears and anguish ; like men sick 


of an ague, sometimes well and sometimes ill. What a Proteus 
would even a good man seem, if all his affections and passions were 
visible and liable to the notice of the world ! None differ so much 
from them as they seem to differ from themselves. Sometimes they 
are like trees laden with fruit, at another time they are like trees in 
the winter, which, though they seem to have life in the root, yet to 
appearance they differ little from those that are stark dead. Nay, in 
those very particular graces for which they are eminent, how have they 
failed ! Abraham, that was the father of the faithful, so eminent for 
faith, yet in Abimelech's country he discovered much carnal fear, Gen. 
xx. Moses, that was the meekest man upon earth, yet in what a 
froward passion was he when he struck the rock twice, Num. xx. 10, 
11, ' And he spake unadvisedly with his lips/ Ps. cvi. 33, which God 
took so heinously, that he only gave him a sight of Canaan, and would 
not permit him to enter. Peter is noted to have the greatest fervency 
and zeal of all the apostles (you know he had so much courage that 
he ventures against a band of men that came to attack Christ), and 
yet how was he surprised with cowardice and sinful fear at a damsel's 
question ! And therefore we need this sustaining grace, and to go to 
God : ' Lord, uphold me.' The wards of the lock are held up only 
while the key is turned, so God must uphold us or we fall. Or let 
me express it thus : As meteors are kept up in the air while the sun 
stays, that which first drew them up must keep them up, or else they 
fall to the ground ; so we sink presently when this sustaining grace is 
withdrawn. Or as Moses, when he was but a while in the mount with 
God, how soon the people fell to idolatry ! So if God be but away we 
shall be found as unstable as water. 

[2.] Because of the daily assaults of Satan. When a poor soul is 
gotten out of his hands, he pursues him with continual malice, 1 Peter 
v. 8 ; no less doth he aim at than the utter destruction of our souls, 
and wrestles to recover the prey, to plunge us in that estate of misery 
wherein himself lies; therefore we must be defended and protected 
every day. When cities are besieged, they are not left to their ordi 
nary strength and standing provision, but fresh supplies of men and 
ammunition are sent to their relief ; so God deals with us. As we are 
unstable creatures, we need the continual assistance of God, for all 
depends on him, in esse, conservare, and operari. But here is another 
consideration to help to uphold us under assault. When the disciples 
were tossed to and fro, and shaken with sundry temptations, then 
Christ prays than their faith may not fail, begs further assistance, 
Luke xx. 31 ; so when Paul was buffeted by Satan, God makes him 
a promise of additional grace : 2 Cor. xii. 9, ' My grace is sufficient 
for thee.' We need further help from God, that we may stand against 
his batteries and assaults. 

[3.] Because of the great impression which our temporal condition 
makes upon us. We are now happy, anon afflicted. Now, as unequal 
uncertain weather doth afflict the body, so do our various conditions 
distemper the soul. To abound and to be abased, to be up and to be 
down, to carry an equal hand in unequal conditions, is very hard, and 
will call for the supporting strength of God's Spirit. So the apostle, 
Phil. iv. 12, 13, ' I know how to be abased, and how to abound ; every 

VER. 116.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 191 

where and in all things I am instructed both to bo full and to be 
hungry, both to abound and to suffer need : I can do all things through 
Christ which strengtheneth me.' From that place let me observe 

(1.) That we are subject to change of conditions in outward things ; 
sometimes in credit, sometimes in disgrace; sometimes rich, some 
times poor ; cut short by the providence of God ; sometimes sick, 
sometimes in health ; sometimes enjoy all things comfortably, at other 
times reduced to great necessity. Now it is very hard to go through 
all these conditions, not to be dejected on the one side or puffed up on 
the other. 

(2.) Observe again from that place, either of these conditions have 
their snares, so that we need all the grace that possibly we can get to 
avoid them. Some think that snares and temptations lie but on one 
side, namely, they think it is easy to be rich, and to maintain hope 
and comfort in God then ; but it is hard to be poor, and to be desti 
tute of all things. When they have nothing to live upon, they cannot 
see how they should live by faith, or keep from murmurings, repinings, 
or uncomely dejections and sinkings of heart. On the other side, 
some think it easy to be poor and religious ; but how to keep a good 
conscience in a full estate, where there is so rough to draw them from 
God, to keep down pride and security, and to live under a lively sense 
of the comforts of the other world, to do this in the midst of opulency, 
this is hard. There are indeed temptations on both hands. 

(3.) Observe, again, some that have held well in one condition have 
failed in another. One sort of temptations have a greater force upon 
some spirits than others have. When God hath kept men low, they have 
been modest and humble ; but when they have been exalted, then they 
have showed themselves, their pride, their disdain, their forgetfulness 
of God, their mindlessness of the interest of Christ. On the other hand, 
others have carried it well in prosperity, yet when the bleak winds of 
adversity are let loose upon them, they are withered and dried up. 
Some cannot encounter terrors, others blandishments. As the prophet 
saith of Ephraim, he is a cake not turned, that is, baked only of the 
one side, very dough on the other ; so it is with many men ; on one 
side of providence they seem to do well, but when God puts them in 
another condition they have foully miscarried. 1 Kings xiii. the 
young prophet that could thunder out judgment against the king, 
when the old prophet enticed him, he is gone. 

(4.) Nay, and which is more, to have these conditions to succeed 
one another makes the temptation the greater. To be cast down, 
after that we have got on the top of the wheel, and have tasted of the 
world's happiness, is the greater trial. And so on the other side, to 
be lifted up after extreme misery; sudden changes affect us more. 
Now, to possess things without love, or lose them without grief ; to 
be temperate and sober in the enjoyment of worldly happiness, or to 
be meek and patient in the loss of it ; or to exercise a Christian mode 
ration as to all these dispensations ; it is a very hard thing to keep the 
heart steady and right with God ; and therefore we need the influence 
of God's special grace, as the apostle presently adds, ' I can do all 
things through Christ that strengthens me.' 


Use. To press us to look after this upholding and sustaining grace, 
that as we come to God, so we may keep with God. In some cases 
perseverance is more difficult than conversion ; it is a harder thing to 
persevere than to be converted at first. In the first conversion we 
are mainly passive, if not altogether, but in perseverance active. It 
is God that plants us into Christ, but when we are in Christ we ought 
to walk in him. As an infant in the mother's womb before it is born 
lives by the life of the mother, and is fed and grows by the mother's 
feeding, without any concurrence of its own ; but when born, indeed 
it is suckled by the mother still, but the child sucks itself, and applies 
nourishment to itself ; and the more it grows, the more the care of its 
life is devolved upon itself; so the first conversion is chiefly God's 
work, and when converted we cannot persevere without his help, but 
the care of the spiritual life is more devolved upon us than before. 
God doth give perseverance as well as conversion : 2 Peter i. 5, 'We 
are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ; ' but so 
that more is required to be done by us when converted than in con 
version itself. Eph. ii. 10, the apostle tells us that we * are his 
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works ;' there is an 
action required of us. What is conversion ? A consent to the terms 
of the gospel convenant, that is the great act of conversion on our part. 
But now perseverance is the fulfilling of the duty of this covenant. 
Now it is more easy to consent to the terms than to make them good. 
As in the matrimonial contract, the promise of the duties proper to 
that relation is more easy than the performance ; so the consenting to 
God's covenant, all the business is to make it good, because of our 
unstable nature, manifold temptations, and great discouragements 
in the way of holiness. Certainly, to keep in the life of grace in the 
soul is a very hard thing. The Israelites, after they were brought to 
consent to receive Moses for their captain to lead them to Canaan, yet 
when they came out of Egypt, and had trial of the difficulties of the 
way, and were exposed to so many dangers, they were ever and anon 
desiring to return. So it is with us ; it is hard to hold out against 
all assaults ; many things will be interposing, and breaking your reso 
lutions, and taking you off from God. The flesh will be interposing, 
so that you must often say, as Kom. v. 12, ' We are not debtors to the 
flesh, to live after the flesh/ to fulfil it in the lusts whereof. And the 
world will be threatening, and you must say as they, Dan. iii. 16; * We 
are not careful to answer thee in this matter/ Dangers will grow 
upon us and increase, and then we must say, as Esth. iv. 16, 'If we 
perish, we perish.' Friends will be soliciting, and you must say, as 
Paul, Acts xxi. 13, 'What mean you to break my heart? I am 
ready to die for Christ ;' or as Christ said to his mother, John ii. 4, 
' Woman, what have I to do with thee ? ' ' Must I not be about my 
Father's business ? ' Seducers will be persuading, and we must be 
ready to say, as Acts iv. 19, ' Whether it be right in the sight of God 
to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye/ JSTay, God 
himself will seem to discourage us, and to be against us ; and you 
must even say to God, as Job xiii. 15, ' Though thou slay me, yet will 
I put my trust in thee/ To keep up this life in this vigour of faith 
and this courage of obedience in the midst of all these interposings, is 

VER. 116.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 193 

a very difficult, hard work. What then ? Therefore go to God : ' Lord, 
uphold me, that I may live.' 

1. Ask it of God earnestly, because of your necessities. Secondly, 
In faith, because of his all-sufficiency. First, earnestly, because of 
your necessities. Without God's upholding a man, he hath within 
himself no power to withstand any the least temptation or occasion 
unto sin. There is no evil so foul, nor sin so grievous, but there is a 
possibility that we may fall into it. Ps. xix. 13, David saith, * Keep 
back thy servant from presumptuous sins.' Mark the expression, 
' keep back ;' it implies that he felt an inclination and readiness in 
his heart, and therefore desires God to hold the bridle of grace the 
more hard upon him : Lord, keep back thy servant. When Satan 
disguiseth a gross sin with a plausible and tempting appearance, and 
when he bribes the flesh with some pleasure or advantage, oh ! how 
soon is lust set agog and the heart overborne by the violence of its own 
affections ! and how soon do we faint and are discouraged when we 
are exercised variously with divers assaults on this hand and that ! 
Secondly, In faith, because of God's all-sufficiency : 1 Peter v. 10, 
' The God of all grace make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.' 
Observe the title that he gives to God, ' The God of all grace ;' it notes 
that he hath good store, and hath a gracious inclination to give it. And 
then he reckons up the several kinds of graces. What would you have ? 
Would you keep that which you have already attained to? The 
Lord establish you. Would you increase what you have ? The Lord 
perfect you. Would you act what you have with life and vigour, and 
grow more resolute ? The Lord strengthen you. Would you grow 
more resolute against difficulty ? The Lord settle you. So the apostle, 
2 Thes. ii. 17, ' The God of all grace comfort your hearts, and estab 
lish you in every good word and work.' There is an all-sufficiency in 
God to help you, and carry you through all trials and all your diffi 
culties. Therefore ask it of God. 

2. Do not forfeit this assisting grace by presumptuous sins. God 
withdraws his protection and defence when we provoke him : Isa. lii. 
2, * Your sins have separated between you and your God, and made 
him hide his face from you ;' and Hosea v. 15, ' Now I will go to my 
own place,' I will leave them to themselves, ' till they acknowledge 
their iniquity.' David prays for this after he had fallen foully : Ps. 
li. 12, ' Lord, uphold me with thy free Spirit.' He had lost his strength 
in God, his largeness of love ; he wanted the assistances of God's grace ; 
he had been tampering with forbidden fruit : Lord, come again ; 
1 Lord, uphold me with thy free Spirit.' 

3. Do not expose yourselves to temptation, for you are weak and 
cannot stand without confirming grace, which is not at your beck, not 
given out according to your pleasure, but he giveth us ' to will and to 
do/ Kara ev&oKiav, ' according to his good pleasure/ Phil. ii. 12. 
Christians ! when we will try mysteries, and run into the mouth of 
danger, and be dealing with them that are apt to seduce us into evil, 
God will no more show the power of his grace than Christ would show 
a miracle to satisfy Herod's curiosity and wanton fancy. Oh ! there 
fore, let us not unnecessarily and unwarrantably throw ourselves upon 
the enticements of sin. For instance, as if no evil company could 



infect, or no carnal sports corrupt, or ambitious affectation of high 
places, when God doth not call us up by the voice of his providence ; 
this doth but increase our temptation. When we will be rushing into 
places of danger, as Peter into the high priest's hall, we go thither 
without our defence. A man that is sensible what will do his body 
hurt is very cautious how he meddleth with it. The like care should 
we have of our souls. 

The second thing in the text is the ground and warrant of his 
request, ' According to thy word ;' or by thy word, as some read it. 
God hath promised support to those that wait upon him : Isa. xl. 
29, 31, 'He givetti power to the faint, and to them that have no might 
he increaseth strength. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew 
their strength ; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall 
run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint/ Before their 
full and final deliverance come, they shall have present support and 
strength renewed to them every day. This note should quicken us : 

1. To pray to God for grace to stand with the more confidence. 
God hath promised to uphold those that cleave to him, and run to 
him ; therefore say, Lord, thy word bids me to hope ; though I am an 
unstable creature, I will hope in thy word : Ps. xxxi. 24, ' Be of good 
courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the 
Lord.' Though nothing else be stable, yet this is stable. 

2. Bless God and own his grace ; look upon it as a fulfilling of his 
promise, if you have susteutation, or any strength renewed upon you, 
though your trials and temptations are yet continued to you: Ps. 
cxxxviii. 3, * In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me, and 
strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.' It is an answer of 
prayer, fulfilling of a promise, when we have strength to persevere 
without fainting ; though we be not delivered, to have support before 
the deliverance come. I thank God, saith St Paul, for the susten- 
tation I have. Great sustentation I have, though spiritual suavities I 
taste not many. It is matter of thanksgiving and comfort if we have 
but sustentation, and keep up the life of grace in the soul, though we 
taste not Christ's banquets and dainties. 

The third circumstance is the end, ' That I may live.' David speaks 
not this of bodily life, not the life of nature, but the life of grace. 
And then the note is this 

Doct. The children of God do not count themselves to live, unless 
their spiritual life be kept in good plight. 

David, that enjoyed the pleasure and honour of the regal state, he 
doth not count that to live, though he were king in Israel, of an 
opulent and flourishing kingdom, and had mighty successes and 
victories over the people round about him, but when his heart was 
upheld in the ways of God. So Col. iii. 3, 'Your life is hid with 
Christ in God.' They had a life visible, as other men had; but your 
life, that which you chiefly esteem, and indeed count to be your life, 
is a hidden thing. 

Here I shall inquire (1.) What is this spiritual life. (2.) Show 
that there is a spiritual life distinct from the natural. (3.) The ex 
cellency of the one above the other. (4.) When this spiritual life is 
in good plight. 


1. What is meant by spiritual life ? It is threefold a life of 
justification and sanctification and glorification. 

[1.] The life of justification. We are all dead by the merit of sin. 
When a man is cast at law, we say he is a dead man : ' Through 
one man's offence all were dead/ Rom. v. 5. We are sensible of it 
when the law cometh in with power, Bom. vii. 9 ; we begin to awaken 
out of our dead sleep. God's first work is to awaken him and open 
his eyes, that he may see he is a child of wrath, a condemned person, 
undone, without a pardon. When the law- came, ' sin revived and I 
died ;' before he thought himself a living man, in as good an estate as 
the best ; but when he was enlightened to see the true meaning of 
the law, he found himself no better than a dead man. Now, when 
justified, the sinner is translated from a sentence of death to a sentence 
of life passed in his favour ; and therefore it is called justification of 
life, Rom. v. 18, and John v. 29, ' He that belie veth shall not enter 
into condemnation, but hath passed from death to life;' that is, is 
acquitted from the sentence of death and condemnation passed on him 
by the law. 

[2.] The life of sanctification, which lies in. a conjunction of the 
soul with the spirit of God, even as the natural' life is a conjunction of 
the body with the soul. Adam, though his body was organised and 
formed, was but a dead lump till God breathed the soul into him ; so 
till our union with Christ, by the communion of his Spirit, we are 
dead and unable to every good work. But the Holy Ghost puts us 
into a living condition : Eph. ii. 4, 5, ' We were dead in trespasses 
and sins, yet now hath he quickened us.' There is a new manner of 
being, which we have upon the receiving of grace. 

[3.] Life eternal, or the life of glory, which is the final result and 
consummation of both the former ; for justification and sanctification 
are but the beginnings of our happy estate ; justification is the cause 
and foundation, and sanctification is an introduction or entrance into 
that life that we shall ever live with God. 

2. Now this life is distinct from life natural, first, for it hath a dis 
tinct principle, which is the Spirit of God ; the other a reasonable 
soul : 1 Cor. xv. 45, ' The first man Adam was made a living soul, the 
last Adam was made a quickening spirit.' Parents are but instru 
ments of God's providence to unite body and soul together : but here 
we live by the Spirit or by Christ, Gal. ii. 20 ; God and we are united 
together. Then we live when joined to God as the fountain of life, 
whence the soul is quickened by the Spirit of grace. This is to live 
indeed. It is called the life of God, Eph. iv. 18, not by common in 
fluence of his providence, but by special influences of his grace. 
Secondly, It is distinct in its operations, Unumquodque operatur 
secundum suam formam, as things that move upward and downward 
according to their form ; so the new nature carrieth men out to their 
own natural motion and tendency. Walking as men, 1 Cor. iii. 3, 
and walking as Christians, are two distinct things. The natural and 
human life is nothing else but the orderly use of sense and reason ; 
but the divine and spiritual life is the acting of grace in order to 
communion with God, as if another soul dwelt in the same body: Ego 
non sum ego. Old lusts, old acquaintance, old temptations, knock at 


the same door, but there is another inhabitant. Thirdly, Distinct in 
supports. Hidden manna, meat indeed, drink indeed, John vi. 55. 
There is an outward man and an inward man ; the inward man hath 
its life as well as the outward. And as life, so taste : Omnis vita 
gustu ducitur. The hidden man must be fed with hidden manna, 
meat and drink that the world knows not of ; its comforts are never 
higher than in decays of the body, 2 Cor. iv. 16. A man is as his 
delight and pleasure is ; it must have something agreeable. Fourthly, 
Distinct in ends. The aim and tendency of the new nature is to God ; 
it is from God, and therefore to him, Gal. ii. 19. It is a life whereby 
a man is enabled to move and act towards God as his utmost end, to 
glorify him, or to enjoy him. A carnal man's personal contentment is 
his highest aim : water riseth not beyond its fountain. But a gracious 
man doth all to please God, Col. i. 11, to glorify God, 1 Cor. x. 31 ; 
and this not only from his obligations, Eom. xiv. 7, 8, but from his 
being, that principle of life that is within him, Eph. i. 12. A man 
that hath a new principle cannot live without God ; his great purpose 
and desire is to enjoy more of him. 

3. The excellency of the one above the other. There is life carnal, 
life natural, and life spiritual. Life carnal, as much as it glittereth 
and maketh a noise in the world, it is but a death in comparison of the 
life of grace : 1 Tim. v. 6, ' She that liveth in pleasure is dead whilst 
she liveth ; ' and ' Let the dead bury their dead/ Luke ix. 60 ; and 
dead in trespasses and sins. None seem to make so much of their 
lives as they, yet dead as to any true life and sincere comfort. So 
life natural, it is but a vapour, a wind, and a little puff of wind, that is 
soon gone. Take it in the best, nature is but a continued sickness, 
our food is a constant medicine to remedy the decays of nature : most 
men use it so, alimenta sunt medicamenta. But more particularly - 
(1.) Life natural is a common thing to devils, reprobates, beasts, 
worms, trees, and plants ; but this is the peculiar privilege of the chil 
dren of God, 1 John iv. 13. Therefore God's children think they have 
no life unless they have this life. If we think we have a life because 
we see and hear, so do the worms and smallest flies. If we think we 
are alive because we eat, drink, and sleep, so do the beasts and cattle. 
If we think we live because we reason and confer, so do the heathens 
and men that shall never see God. If we think we have life because 
we grow well and wax strong, proceeding to old age, so do the plants 
and trees of the field. Nay, we have not only this in common with 
them, but in this kind of life other creatures excel man. The trees 
excel us for growth in bulk and stature, who from little plants grow 
up into most excellent cedars. In hearing, smelling, seeing, many of 
the beasts go before us ; eagles in sight, dogs in scent, &c. Sense is 
their perfection. Some see better, others hear better, others smell 
better ; all have a better appetite to their meat, and more strong to 
digest it. For life rational, endowed with reason, many philosophers 
and ethnics excel Christians in the use of reason. Our excellency 
then lieth not in the vegetative life, wherein plants excel thee ; nor in 
sensitive, which beasts have better than thou ; nor in the reasonable, 
which many reprobates have, which shall never see the face of God ; 
but in life spiritual, to have the soul quickened by the spirit of grace. 

VEB. 116.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 197 

(2.) Life natural is short and uncertain, but this eternal grace is an 
immortal flame, a spark that cannot be quenched. All our labour and 
toil is to maintain a lamp that soon goeth out, or to prop up a taber 
nacle that is always falling; when we have made provision for it, 
taken away this night, &c. ; it is in the power of every ruffian and 
assassin: but this is a life that beginneth in grace and endeth in 
glory. (3.) The outward life is short, but yet we soon grow weary of 
it ; but this is a life that we shall never be weary of. 1 Kings xix. 
4, Elijah requested for himself that he might die. The shortest life 
is long enough to be encumbered with a thousand miseries. If you 
live to old age, age is a burthen to itself : ' Days come in which there 
is no pleasure/ Eccles. xii. 1 ; but you will never wish for an end of 
this life. (4.) In the preparations and cosfcs which God hath been at 
to bring about this life at first. Without any difficulty God breathed 
into man the breath of life, Gen. ii. 7 ; but to procure this life of 
grace, God must become man, and set up a new fountain of life in our 
natures, John x. 20. And not only so, but to die : John vi. 51, ' My 
flesh which I give for the life of the world.' Consider the price paid 
for it. God would not bestow it at a cheaper rate than the death of 
his only Son. (5.) In the provisions of it : Isa. Ivii. 10, ' the life of thy 
hands.' With a great deal of toil and labour we get a few supports 
for it ; but this is fed with the blood of Christ, influences of grace, and 
comforts from the Spirit ; not with gross things, but sublime, high, 
noble. (6.) In the use for which it serveth. It fitteth us for com 
munion with God, as the other fits us for communion with men. 
Things can have no communion with one another that do not live the 
life of one another. We dwell in God, and God dwelleth in us. (7.) 
Its necessities are greater, which show the value of the life. The 
higher the life, the more dependence. Things inanimate, as stones, 
need not such supplies as things that have life. Where plants will 
not grow, they must have a kindly soil. Among plants the vine needs 
more dressing and care than the bramble ; beasts more than plants ; 
their food appointed God hath most left to man's care, as the instru 
ment of his providence ; man more than beasts, saints more than rnen, 
much waiting upon God. No creature so dependent, in need of such 
daily supplies, as the inward man. (8.) Its sense is greater. There is 
a greater sensibleness in this life than in any other life. All life hath 
a sweetness in it. As any life exceedeth another, so more sensibleness ; 
a beast is more sensible of wrong and hurt than a plant. As the life of 
Ji man exceedeth the life of a beast, so more capable of joy and grief. 
As the life of grace exceedeth the life of a man, so its joy is greater, its 
grief is greater, trouble of conscience, a wounded spirit. So the joy of 
Miints is unspeakable and glorious, peace that passeth all understanding. 
4. When is this life in good plight ? It showeth itself in these two 
effects (1.) A comfortable sense of God's love. (2.) A holy disposi 
tion to serve and please God. The vitality of it lieth in these two 
graces faith and love ; when they are kept up in their height and 
vigour, then it is a life begun. It lieth in the height of faith, appre 
hending and applying God s love to the soul : I live by faith ; and the 
height of love swaying and inclining the heart to obedience, 2 Cor. v. 
14. Therefore they desire God to uphold them, that they might be 


kept in heart and comfort, and in a free inclination to serve him. 
Now when they find any abatement of faith, so that they cannot re 
joice in the promises as they were wont to do, they count themselves 
dead ; or when their inward man doth not delight itself in the law of 
God, but they are dull and slow to good things, they look upon them 
selves as dead. But on the other side, when they find the vigour of 
this life in them, they are merry and glad ; when they feel their 
wonted delight in prayer and holy exercises, this is that they mainly 
prize. That which is not seen and felt is as if it were not to their 
comfort, not to their safety. 

Use. To exhort us all to look after this life, and when you have got 
it, to be very chary of it. First, look after this life. You that are 
alienated from the life of God through ignorance and hardness of heart, 
be invited to come to him ; it is for life : Job ii. 4, ' Skin for skin, and 
all a man hath, will he give for his life/ We all desire life ; vile things 
that live excel more precious that are dead : ' A living dog is better 
than a dead lion,' Eccles. ix. 4. A dog was an unclean beast, and of 
all creatures a lion is the most noble and generous. A worm is more 
capable of life than the sun. Now, if life natural be so sweet, what is 
life spiritual ? No such life as this ; it fits us for communion with 
God and blessed spirits. Christ chideth them, ' You will not come to 
me that you might have life.' Better you had never lived, if you live 
not this life of grace. When beasts die their misery dieth with them, 
but yours beginneth. Secondly, If you have this life begun, be chary 
of it. If the bodily life be but a little annoyed we complain pre 
sently ; but why are you so stupid and careless, and do not look after 
this, to keep the spiritual life in good plight ? Let your prayers and 
desires be to have this life strengthened ; make this your prayer, to be 
strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man. A Christian 
maketh this to be his main comfort and his main care. Oh ! how busy 
are we to provide for the outward man, that we may be well fed, well 
clothed ! Most men's care is for back and belly. Oh ! be more care 
ful for the inner man ; let that be refreshed with the blood of Christ 
aud the comforts of the Spirit. Be careful for the soul, that you may 
keep up a lively faith, and a constant sense of blessedness to come, and 
so rejoice in God. Oh ! how much time and pains do men waste in 
decking and trimming the body, when in the meantime they neglect 
their souls ! We may all fall a- weeping when we consider how little 
we look after this inner life, to keep that in heart and vigour. 


And let me not be ashamed of my hope. Hold tliou me up, and I shall 
/be safe ; and I will have respect unto tliy statutes continually. 
VER. 116, 117. 

IN the former verse I observed David begs two things confirmation 
in waiting, and the full and final accomplishment of his hopes. 

Something remains upon the 116th verse, ' Let me not be ashamed of 

VERS. 116, 117.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 199 

my hope.' Hope follows faith, and nourisheth it. Faith assures there 
is a promise ; hope looks out for the accomplishment of it. Now David, 
having fixed his hope upon the mercies of God, begs, ' Let me not be 
ashamed ;' that is, that hope may not be disappointed, for hope dis 
appointed brings shame. Man is conscious of the folly and rashness 
in conceiving such a hope : Job vi. 20, ' They were confounded, because 
they had hoped ; they came thither, and were ashamed.' They looked 
for water from the brooks of Terna, but when they were dried up they 
were confounded and ashamed. That breeds shame when we are 
frustrated in our expectations. There is a hope that will leave us 
ashamed, and there is another hope that will not leave us ashamed ; 
for David goes to God, and desires him to accomplish his hope. 
There is a Christian hope that is founded upon the mercies and pro 
mises of God, and encouraged by experience of God, that will never 
deceive us. I shall speak of that hope that will bring shame and 
confusion ; and that is twofold worldly hope and carnal security. 

1. Worldly hopes, such as are built upon worldly men and worldly 
things. Upon worldly men, they are mutable, and so may deceive us ; 
sometimes their minds may change, the favour of man is a deceitful 
thing. As Cardinal Wolsey said in his distress, If I had served God 
as diligently as I have done the king, he would not have given me 
over in my grey hairs ; but it is a just reward for my study to do him 
service, not regarding the service of God to do him pleasure : * Let God 
be true, and every man a liar.' A man makes way for shame that 
humours the lusts of others and wrongs his conscience; and first or 
last, they will find it is better to put confidence in God than the 
greatest potentates in the world, Ps. cxviii. 8 ; and therefore it should 
be our chief care to apply ourselves to God, and study his pleasure, 
rather than to please men, and conform ourselves to their uncertain 
minds and interests. To attend God daily, and be at his beck, is a 
stable happiness; the other is a poor thing to build upon. Men's 
affections are mutable, and so is their condition too : Ps. Ixii. 9, 
' Surely men of high degree are a lie, and men of low degree are 
vanity/ Whoever trusts in men, high or low, are sure to be deceived 
in their expectations. And therefore we should think of it before 
hand, lest we be left in the dirt when we think they should bear us 
out: 1 Kings i. 21, 'When my Lord the king shall sleep with his 
fathers, I and my son Solomon shall be counted offenders. When the 
scene is shifted, and new actors come upon the stage, none so liable to 
be hated as those that promised to themselves a perpetual happiness 
by the favour of men. This is a hope that will leave us ashamed. 
And then worldly things, they that hope in these for their happiness 
will be ashamed. There are two remarkable seasons when this hope 
leaves us ashamed in the time of distress of conscience, and in the 
day of death. In time of distress of conscience : Ps. xxxix. 11, ' When 
thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his 
beauty to consume away like a moth.' When sin finds us out, and 
conscience goes to work upon the sense of its own guilt, oh! then 
what will all the plenty of worldly comforts do us good ! The crea 
tures then have spent their allowance, and can help us no more. What 
good will an estate do ? And all the pomp and bravery of the world 


will be of no more use to us than a rich shoe to a gouty foot : Prov. 
xviii. 14, ' A wounded spirit who can bear?' But now he that hath 
chosen God for his portion, in all distress and calamities can revive 
his hopes. So also in the hour of death : Job xxvii. 8, ' What is the 
hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God shall take 
away his soul ?' When God puts the bond in suit, though man hath 
gained, where is his hope, when God delivers him over to the execu 
tioner, to chains of darkness ? 

2. Carnal security will leave us ashamed. Men living in their sins 
hope they shall do well enough, and expect mercy to bear all and 
pardon all ; though they be not so strict and nice as others, yet they 
shall do as well as they. This hope is compared to a spider's web, 
Job viii. 12, a poor slight thing, that is gone with the blast of every 
temptation ; when the besom comes, both spider and web are swept 
away. And it is said, Job xi. 20, ' The hope of the wicked is like the 
giving up of the ghost ;' and these in a moment take an everlasting 
farewell of their hopes. So their hopes fail in the greatest extremity. 
This carnal and secure hope in God, presumption of his mercy, it is 
but a waking dream, as a dream fills men with vain delusions and 
phantasms. It is notably set out by the prophet, Isa. xxix. 8, ' They 
shall even be as when a hungry man dreameth, and behold he eateth ; 
but he awaketh, and his soul is empty/ There will an awakening 
time come, and then the dream of a hungry man torments him more. 
Carnal men are like dreamers, that lose all as soon as they awake ; 
though they dream of enjoying sceptres and crowns, yet they are in the 
midst of bonds and irons. Vain illusions do they please themselves 
with, that make way for eternal sorrow and shame. 

Let us see how this false hope of the wicked differs from the true 
hope of God's children. 

1. This hope is not indeed built upon God, God hath the name, 
but indeed they trust upon other things ; as those women the prophet 
speaks of, Isa. iv. 1, 'We will eat our own bread, and wear our own 
apparel ; only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach/ 
So they call their hope after God's name, but their hearts are borne 
up with other things, as appears ; because when outward things fail they 
are at a loss, and begin to awake out of their dream, especially in a 
distressed case when it pincheth hard. 

2. It is not a serious and advised trust, but a slight and superficial 
hope, that grows upon us we know not how, a fruit of ignorance and 
incogitancy ; when they are serious they begin to feel it a foolish kind 
of presumption, upon which no account can be given, 1 Peter iii. 15. 
How can they give a reason of their hope ? But gracious souls, the 
more they consider their warrant and the promise of God, the more 
their hope is increased. 

3. It is a dead and a cold hope, not a lively hope, 1 Peter i. 3. They 
have no taste, no groans, no ravishing thoughts about the happiness 
which they expect, no strong desires after the thing hoped for : Kom. 
xii. 12, c Bejoice in hope/ saith the apostle ; they have but cold appre 
hensions of such great things. And the hope that we expect is so 
excellent, that it should stir up the greatest longings, the greatest 
waiting, and put us upon earnest expectation. 

VERS. 116, 117.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 201 

4. It is a weak inconstant hope, a loose fond conjecture, a guess 
rather than a certain expectation : 1 Cor. ix. 26, ' I therefore so run, 
not as uncertainly/ not at random, but upon sure and solid grounds. 
A child of God hath a due sense of the difficulty, yet withal an assur 
ance of the possibility and of the certainty of it; and therefore it 
continues ; he presseth on, if it be possible he may attain to his great 
hopes, the resurrection of the dead. 

5. It is a lazy loitering hope. Carnal men would have heaven and 
happiness, but they make no haste towards it, they give no diligence 
to make sure of it ; it is but a devout sloth. Whereas he that hath a 
true hope is pressing forward, Phil. iii. 13, and hastening and looking 
for the coming of Christ, 2 Peter iii. 12. 

But then there is a true hope in God, both for final deliverance, 
present support, and present mercy, that will never leave us ashamed : 
Ps. xxii. 5, ' They that hope in thee are not confounded ; ' and Ps. xxv. 
2, 3, ' Let none that wait on thee be ashamed : my God, I trust in 
thee, let me not be ashamed/ What is a true Christian hope ? It may 
be discovered by the grounds of discouragement, but most sensibly by 
the effects. 

1. By it the heart is drawn from earth to heaven, earthly desires 
and hopes abated : Phil. iii. 20, ' For our conversation is in heaven, 
whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.' They 
live as those that within a few days expect to be with God. Christ in 
heaven hath a magnetic virtue to draw up the hearts of believers 
thither ; as a man that hath looked steadfastly upon the sun can for a 
great while see nothing else. 

2. By it the heart is enlivened in duty, and quickened with diligence 
in the business of salvation. Hope apprehends the difficulty, as well 
as the excellency and possibility, of salvation ; therefore what a man 
truly hopes for in this kind he makes it his business to get it, and look 
after it: Phil. iii. 13, 'This one thing I do, forgetting those things 
which are behind, and reaching forth unto those which are before/ 
They mind it seriously, and not superficially, by the by. 

3. It engageth the heart against sin, 2 Peter iii. 11. We that look 
for these things, ' What manner of persons ought we to be in all holy 
conversation and godliness/ Holiness implies purity, and godliness 
dedication to God. Now a false hope is consistent with the reign of 
sin, suffers a man to be vile, carnal, careless, neglectful of God, full of 
malice, envy, pride, but without any serious and solid ground ; it is but 
a lying presumption. Now, this hope that is thus fixed upon God will 
never disappoint us. For 

[1.] The fruition will ever be more than the expectation. God doth 
for us above what we can ask or think, Eph. iii. 20. When the pro 
digal son came and said, ' Make me as an hired servant,' the father 
brought forth the fatted calf, and put a ring on his finger, &c. {Solo 
mon asked wisdom, and God gave him riches, honour, and great 
abundance. But much more in the world to come will the fruition be 
above expectation ; for prophecy is but in part ; we are not now cap 
able to know what we shall then enjoy ; we have but childish thoughts 
of things to come, as a child comes short of the apprehensions of a 
man, 1 Cor. xiii. 9-11. 


[2.] This hope cannot be abated with the greatest evil. To a worldly 
man death is the king of terrors, and to a godly man it is his last end ; 
though it vanquish his body, it doth not vanquish his soul : Prov. xiv. 
32, ' The wicked is driven away in his wickedness, but the righteous 
hath hope in his death.' When other men's hopes vanish, his hopes 
go down with him to the grave, Ps. xvi. 9 ; as in a bed of ease they 
shall sleep until the waking time. 

Use. Oh ! be not deceived with false promises. We must expect 
blessing according to the tenor of the covenant ; only things promised, 
and no otherwise than they are promised; temporal things, with a 
limitation, as good for us, and with the exception of the cross ; spiritual 
blessings, their essence, rather than degree of grace. And take heed 
of false hope that is, groundless and fruitless. Groundless ; the war 
rant of true hope is the word of God : ' I hope in thy word,' Ps. cxxx. 
5. Hope that is without a warrant will be without effect. When 
men please themselves, they shall do well enough, contrary to the word 
of God, Deut. xxix. 19. And it is fruitless ; it doth not fill the heart 
with gladness, and quicken to holiness, and stir up to walk with God. 
And take heed of false experiences ; that is, building upon temporal 
blessings, and bare deliverances out of trouble. Men are not so much 
preserved as reserved to further trouble : many are spared but for a 
time, it is but a reprieve. 

I proceed to the 117th verse, ' Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe : 
and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.' Here observe 
(1.) A repetition of his request for sustaining grace. (2.) A renewing 
of the promise of obedience conceived before, ver. 115. 

1. A repetition of his request for sustaining grace, ' Hold thou me 
up, and I shall be safe.' Where observe the request, hold thou me 
up : and the fruit and effect promised to himself, / shall be safe. 

First, The blessing asked, ' Hold thou me up ;' a metaphor taken 
from those that faint, or those that slide and are ready to fall. Se 
condly, The fruit of it, ' I shall be safe.' Before he had said, ' Uphold 
me according unto thy word, that I may live ; ' now he promiseth 
himself more from the divine assistance, safety. By safety he means 
either the safety of the outward or inward man. Why not both ? I 
shall be safe from those warpings and apostasy, and all dangers and 
mischiefs that do attend it. Turning aside from our duty doth not 
procure our safety, but perseverance in our duty. God's children, 
when they have failed, have run themselves into much temporal incon 
veniences, as Josiah ran upon his own death by his own folly, 2 Chron. 
xxxiii. 22. 

2. The resolution of his obedience, that is renewed and promised 
upon obtaining of this mercy. And there take notice (1.) Of the 
accuracy of that obedience promised, / ivill have respect unto thy 
statutes. (2.) The constancy of it, continually ; not for a moment 
only, a few days, in a pang, or when the mercy is fresh and warm upon 
the heart, but constantly, without intermission, without defection. 

First, Observe from the repeating of the same request : 

Doct. 1. That sustaining grace must be sought with all earnestness 

and importunity. ' Uphold me ' before, and now again, * Hold thou 

me up, and I shall be safe.' 

VERS. 116, 117.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 203 

Reason 1. They that have a due sense of things upon their hearts 
will do so ; that is to say, that have a sense of their own weakness, the 
evil of sin, and the comfort of perseverance in obedience. 

1. That have a sense of their own weakness, as David was touched 
with a sense of his own necessity ; therefore he repeats this prayer, 
' Hold thou me up ; ' and if David need to be held up, what need have 
we ! If pillars are not able to stand of themselves, what shall reeds 
do ? If giants are overthrown and vanquished, children much more : 
Prov. xxviii. 14, ' Happy is the man that feareth always.' How so ? 
With a fear of caution, not a fear of distrust ; with a fear of reverence, 
not with a fear of bondage ; otherwise it were a torture, not a blessed 
ness. That man that is sensible of his own frailty is more blessed than 
other men. Why ? Because he will ever have recourse to God to set 
his power a- work for the good of his soul : Eom. xi. 20, ' Be not high- 
minded, but fear.' Though weakness be a misery, yet a sense of it is 
a degree towards blessedness, because it makes way for the great 
Christian grace, which is trust and dependence. 

2. They have a sense of the evil that is in the least sin. This is the 
difference between a tender conscience and a hard heart one is afraid 
to offend God in the least matter, the other makes nothing of sin, and 
so runneth into mischief, Prov. xxviii. 14. Well, then, a man that 
hath a tender heart is loath to fall into the least sin, he is ever drawing 
to God to be kept from all sin. When we are earnest in this matter, 
it is a sign we are sensible what an evil sin is. Men that side with 
their own lusts and interests may wonder at the frequent requests of 
the Psalmist here establishment and preservation from sin. But those 
that have a tender conscience are like the eye, soon offended, and make 
it their business to keep it from offence ; they are thus solicitous and 
earnest with God to be upheld. 

3. They are sensible of the good of perseverance in obedience. There 
are two things here : 

[1.] Obedience is good; the more we experiment it, the more we 
would desire to keep it up in an even tenor of close walking with God, 
without interruption, without intermission. God appeals to experience : 
Micah ii. 7, 'Do not my words do good to him that walketh up 
rightly ? ' And when men wander they have this experience, ' Am I a 
barren wilderness ? ' Micah vi. 3, * my people ! what have I done 
unto thee, and wherein have I wearied thee ? testify against me.' 
The more we find liberty, sweetness, and comfort in the ways of God, 
the more we should desire to continue in them. 

[2.] As obedience is good, so perseverance in obedience is good, for 
it strengthens grace, especially in an hour of temptation, when many 
make defection. The choicest discovery of good men is in bad times : 
'Noah was upright in his generation,' Gen. vi. 9; to stand when others 
decline, to be like fish that keeps its freshness in salt water, to hold 
fast there where Satan hath his throne, Kev. ii. 13, and to be faithful, 
as is said of Judah, Hosea xi. 12, when ' Ephraim compassed me 
about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit.' It is a comfort 
and honour to persevere with God. 

Reason 2. This sustaining grace must be asked, because God will 
show his sovereignty, that it is not at our beck ; it must cost us wait- 


ing, striving, and earnest and renewed prayer : 2 Cor. xii. 8, * For this 
thing I besought the Lord thrice.' God will not answer at the first 
knock, but at the third, then God came in. So Christ; Mat. xxvi. 44, 
the third time he came and repeated the same thing ; then, if you 
compare Luke, he received his consolation by an angel. God doth not 
come at the first knock, therefore we must pray again, ' Uphold me/ 

Reason 3. Without continued influences of grace we cannot be safe, 
therefore they must not be sought once and no more, but daily. As 
we seek daily bread, so we should seek daily grace. The word o-ij^epov, 
this day, hath respect to all the petitions ; this day we must have our 
daily bread, this day lead us not into temptation, this day keep us 
from evil. While temptations continue, we must continue prayer. 
Long suits, though often denied, may prevail at length. In short, the 
continuance of strength and assistance from God is necessary to pre 
serve both habitual and actual grace, therefore they must be continu 
ally asked. 

1. To preserve habitual grace, the seed that remains in us. We 
would wonder to see a herb to thrive and grow in the midst of many 
weeds ; so that grace should be there where there is so much pride, 
love of pleasure, worldly care and brutish lusts, especially when any 
of these are set a-work by temptations without. The angels and 
Adam fell when there was nothing within to work upon them but the 
mutability of their nature ; so when there is so much within to work, 
and temptations without, it is hard to keep grace in the soul. 

2. For the quickening and actual stirrings of the soul to good. We 
should soon faint and tire in the ways that we have begun were it not 
for God's sustaining grace ; these sparks would quickly go out, if God 
did not keep them alive. 1 Chron. xxix. 18, when the people were in 
a high point of willingness, * Lord, keep this for ever in the imagina 
tion of the thoughts of the heart of thy people.' When we have 
gotten any good frame of spirit, we cannot preserve it without this 
continual influence. 

Reason 4. Renewed prayer is a means of persevering, not only for 
it, but by it. God keeps us alive in the way of grace, as by the word, 
so by prayer. Praying in the Holy Ghost is one means of establish 
ment, Jude 20. Prayer is a solemn preaching to our selves, or a 
serious warming of our souls in our duty in the sight of God. Now 
means of support must be used, not once, but often. There must be 
constant meals for the increase of bodily strength. If a man be never 
so strong, yet he cannot always grow in strength by one meal, there 
must be new refreshment ; so this is one means for our preservation, 
therefore it must be often used. 

Use. For reproof of those that ask sustaining grace customarily and 
carelessly, without any deep sense or renewed importunity. We are 
too cold and formal when we say, ' Lead us not into temptation.' 

1. Consider, none stand but may fall in some degree, and it is our 
business to take heed we do not. Every hour we are in danger either 
of getting some distemper, or letting out some corruption. Of getting 
some distemper, being spotted and defiled in the world, or at least 
being made dull and indisposed in the service of God. Or else of 
letting out some corruptions ; if God do not keep our heart and all 

YERS. 116, 117.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 205 

(Ps. cxli. 3, ' Set a watch, Lord, before my mouth ; keep the door 
of my lips'), how soon should we betray our folly ! And therefore it is 
a happy day, and we have cause to bless God, when we have not by 
some words or works of ours interrupted our communion with him. 

2. Consider how many things concur to lead us aside, corrup 
tions within and temptations without, and, it may be, sometimes the 
example of others that are of esteem in the church. Corruption 
within, always righting against grace the flesh lusteth against the 
Spirit ; and temptations without, the favours and frowns of the world. 
If these things have not, they may befall us, and it is too late to seek 
armour in time of conflict. 

3. And then to see men eminent for knowledge and profession turn 
back from the holy commandment, and glorious stars fall from their 
orb and station ; this overturns the faith of many, 2 Tim. ii. 18. So 
that, all these things considered, we cannot stand a moment without 
God ; and therefore we should be more earnest with him for grace. 

Doct. 2. The constant safety of God's people lies in sustaining 

1. Negatively ; without it we cannot be safe, partly because there 
are so many trials and temptations between us and home, by reason 
of the sleights of the flesh, the cunning of Satan, and oppositions of 
the world ; and partly because the measure of grace received is so 
small : Phil. iii. 13, ' I have not attained ; ' and the danger of sinning 
against God is so great : Amos iii. 2, ' You only have I known of all 
the families of the earth ; therefore will I punish you for all your ini 
quities.' So that we are no longer safe from sin and punishment 
than God puts under his hand. 

2. Positively ; by God's sustaining grace we are kept safe, both as 
the power and faithfulness of God are engaged for our defence. 

[1.] The power of God is engaged : 1 Peter i. 5, ' Who are kept by 
the power of God through faith unto salvation/ The apostle first 
speaks of heaven, that that is kept for us, and then, presently, you are 
kept for it by the power of God. An earthly inheritance may be sure 
enough for the heir, but who can secure the heir from death and all 
other accidents ? But here God provides for our comfort. Not only 
our inheritance is sure, but we are kept. And how doth God keep 
us ? By his power. Oh ! what greater safety can there be ? He can 
mitigate the temptation, or else give a supply of strength ; he can 
keep off trials, or support us under them, 1 Cor. x. 13. 

[2.] The faithfulness of God is engaged : 1 Cor. i. 9, ' God is faith 
ful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son ; ' and 2 
Thes. iii. 3, ' The Lord is faithful, who shall establish you, and keep 
you from evil.' Certainly God is able, but how shall we know that 
he will do it ? His truth is laid in pawn for what he hath promised, 
and therefore we may hold up our heads with confidence ; and this 
should comfort us against all fears and doubtful and uncertain 

Use. Instruction, to show us how constantly God must be sought 
to in prayer, and relied upon in the use of means for our preservation, 
both from sin and danger. 

1. Sought to in prayer. Our strength lies not in ourselves, but in 


God : 2 Cor. iii. 5, ' We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any 
thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.' It is not only of 
God, but in God ; there is our treasure kept : 2 Tim. ii. 1, ' Be strong 
in the grace that is in Christ Jesus ; ' and Eph. vi. 10, ' Be strong in 
the Lord, and in the power of his might.' If the stock were in our 
own hands, besides the danger of embezzling it, we should neglect 
God ; as when the prodigal son had his portion, he went away from 
his father. Therefore God keeps grace in his own hand, to keep us 
humble, depending, observing, and to have a constant converse with 
him, that our eyes may be to him ; as 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 ; ' that is, as maid and 
men servants look for their dole and portion, their allowance given to 
them, from their master and mistress, so God will still keep us to him. 
Dependence begets observance, to keep up our allegiance to the crown 
of heaven. 

2. As he must be sought to in prayer, so relied upon in the use of 
means for our preservation. God keeps us, but not without our care 
and diligence. A Christian is said to keep himself, 1 Tim. v. 22 ; 
and this is pure religion, to keep ourselves unspotted, James i. 27 ; 
and 1 John v. 18, ' He that is begotten of God keepeth himself, that 
the wicked one touch him not ;' and Jude 21, ' Keep yourselves in 
the love of God/ What ! doth not this detract from all that was 
spoken before ? No ; we act with subordination and dependence 
upon him. Our keeping is from him, by him, and under him ; so we 
keep ourselves through his blessing upon the use of means, which he 
hath appointed for us to use. 

The third note is taken from the promise of obedience upon the sup 
position of this help from God, ' Uphold me/ What then ? ' And I 
will have respect unto thy statutes/ Observe 

Doct. 3. The more experience we have of God's grace in the pre 
serving us from sin and danger, the more we should be encouraged in 
his ways. Why so ? 

1. Because of the obligation. It is his mercy which requires thank 
fulness. Now gratitude and thankfulness is the true principle which 
should urge us to perform our duty to God. Observe, there are several 
principles which put men upon God's service, some false and rotten, 
some more tolerable, some lawful, some excellent. Some false and 
rotten, as carnal custom. Shall we serve God, say they, as we have 
done ? Zech. vii. 3 ; when men only do as they have done, it is the 
manner of the place, they learn it of their fathers, and so customarily 
worship and serve God. Then vainglory, to be seen of men ; that is a 
rotten thing, Mat. vi. Come and see my zeal for the Lord, saith Jehu. 
This may put us upon great seeming zeal and activity. So for profit, 
to make a market of religion ; as the pharisees got themselves credit 
to be trusted with widows' estates by their long prayers ; these are 
rotten principles. Then some are more tolerable, not so bad principles 
as the former ; as when we serve God out of hope of temporal mercy, 
as when they howl upon their beds for corn, wine, and oil, Hosea vii. 4 ; 
or for fear of temporal judgments, when men hang down their heads 

VERS. 116, 117.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 207 

like a bulrush for a while, or else for mere fear of eternal death, they 
shall else be damned ; when men's duties are a sin-offering, a sleepy- 
sop to appease an accusing conscience. But then there are some that 
are lawful, good, and sound, as when duties are done out of the impul 
sion of an enlightened conscience, that urgeth them to that which is 
good ; or upon the bare command of God, his authority swaying the 
conscience ; or when they walk in the ways of God out of the consi 
deration of the reward to come, a respect to heaven ; this is very good 
in its place. Again, there are some excellent principles of grace, and 
which do most of all discover a gospel spirit, a well-tempered frame of 
soul to God, and these are love to God because of his benefits and love 
to us, gratitude, and thankfulness : 1 John iv. 19, ' We love him 
because he first loved us ;' and Eom. xii. 1, 'I beseech you by the 
mercies of God ; ' when we serve him out of love. Again, when we 
serve him out of delight, out of love to the duty, find such a compla 
cency in the work that we love the work for the work's sake ; as David, 
' I love thy law because it is pure ; ' when we love the law for the purity 
of it ; or when the glory of God prevails above all our own interests ; 
or when the promises and covenant of God enabling of us ; that is our 
principle, Heb. x. 16. I observe this, men usually are brought on 
from one sort of principle to another ; from sinful principles they are 
brought to tolerable and lawful, and from lawful to those that are 
rare and excellent. 

2. This is such a mercy as gives us hope of more mercy in that kind. 
If God hath held us up, and we have been safe hitherto, then we may 
say, Thou hast held me up. We may look for more ; new temptation 
will bring new strength, every day's work will bring its own refresh 
ment. God, by giving, binds himself more to give, for he loves to 
crown his own work. When he hath done good, he will do good 
again : Zech. iii. 2, ' Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire ?' He 
hath saved us, and he will save us. And it holds good sometimes in 
temporal mercies : 2 Cor. i. 10, ' He hath delivered us from so great a 
death, and doth deliver.' But especially it holds good in spiritual 
mercies : 2 Tim. iv. 17, 18, ' He hath delivered me out of the mouth 
of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and 
will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom.' One act of mercy gives 
us more. God, that hath begun, will make an end ; he that hath kept 
me will keep me. 

Use. It serves to reprove two sorts of people: 

1. Those that are unthankful after their deliverance. We forget 
his care of us, and never think how much we owe to him. When the 
mariners have gotten to the haven and harbour, they forget the tem 
pest ; so these forget how God stood by them in the temptation and 
conflict ; they do not abound more in the work of the Lord. These 
are like those that would have deliverance, that thorns might be taken 
out of the way, that they might run more readily to that which 
is evil. 

2. It reproveth those that faint and despond in God's ways, after 
much experiences of his help and presence with them. The Israelites 
in the wilderness, upon every new difficulty their faith is at a loss, and 
then back again to Egypt they would go ; though they had so often 


experience of God, they would not believe him because of his wonders, 
but ' forgat his works and his wonders that he had showed them/ Ps. 
Ixxviii. 11. God had given them wonderful mercy in destroying 
Pharaoh, that it might be meat to their faith, yet they believed not. 
Good David was ready to say, ' I shall one day perish by the hand of 
Saul,' 1 Sam. xxvii. 1, though he had experience upon experience. 
We should rather encourage ourselves, arid go on in our work notwith 
standing all difficulties. 

The last point, from the accuracy and constancy of his obedience, 
' I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.' This phrase is 
diversely rendered. The Septuagint renders it, I will exercise myself 
in them, or apply my heart to them. David's regard to God's law is 
diversely expressed in this psalm. 

Doct. 4. God's precepts must be respected and consulted with as the 
constant measure and direction of our lives. 

Not only respect, but continual respect: Gal. vi. 16, 'As many as 
walk according to this rule ;' it notes as many as shall walk in rank 
and order : there needeth great accurateness and intension, that we 
may keep within the bounds of commanded duty. So walk circum 
spectly. Some men are so crafty through their self-deceiving hearts, 
through their lusts and interests, so doubtful, that there needs a great 
exactness, and so apt to be turned out of the way, that we need a great 
deal of care to look to the fountain and principle of our actions, to look 
to the matter, manner, end, and weigh all circumstances that we may 
serve God exactly. 


Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes : for 
their deceit is falsehood. VER. 118. 

IN the former verse, the man of God had begged establishment in the 
ways of God ; and now, as a help to what he had prayed for, he ob 
serves God's judgments on those that err from them. It is a special 
means to preserve us from sin to observe how mischievous it hath been 
to those that close with it. So the prophet here, ' I will have respect 
to thy statutes.' Why ? ' Thou hast trodden down them that err 
from thy statutes.' By this means we learn to be wise at other men's 
costs, and are whipped upon others' backs : Zeph. iii. 6, 7, ' I have cut 
off the nations : their towers are made desolate, their cities are de 
stroyed ; there is none inhabitant : I said, Surely thou wilt fear me,' 
&c. God is very much disappointed if we be not bettered and 
improved by his judgments. Exemplo qui peccat, bis peccat. He 
that would plunge himself into a quagmire where others have mis 
carried before, sins doubly, because he neither fears threatenings, nor 
would take warning by their example. God looks to be the more 
reverenced for every warning he gives us in his providence, because 
then what was before matter of faith is made matter of sense, and 
needs only a little application. Thus it will be with me if I should 

VEK. 118.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 209 

straggle from God, and go contrary to his direction : Lsa. xxvi. 9, 
' When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world 
will learn righteousness/ We need not doubt any more whether God 
will punish the disobedient, when we see his threatenings made good ; 
only we should reflect upon our hearts : And will not God visit my 
transgression if I should go on breaking his laws ? And what should 
hinder making such application ? Are not all sinners alike to God ? 
Christ tells us, ' Ye shall all likewise perish except ye repent,' Luke 
xiii. 5. They contented themselves to censure those on whom the 
tower of Siloam fell. The desert of sin is the same, and God's justice 
as exact as ever ; therefore, if others are punished, why not we ? We 
are strangely stupid if we do not walk more exactly with God. This 
use David maketh of it. Whether it were a judgment past, or a judg 
ment expected in faith, this deterred him from doing as they did : 
' Thou hast trodden down them that err from thy statutes.' In the 
words observe - 

1. An account of God's judgments upon wicked men, ' Thou hast 
trodden down them that err from thy statutes.' 

2. The reason given of that dispensation, * For their deceit is false 

First, In the first place observe 

1. The notion by which the judgment is expressed, thou hast trodden 

2. The persons described upon whom this judgment hath lighted, 
or shall light, them that err from thy statutes. 

3. The note of universality, all, of what estate or condition soever 
they be. 

From the first of these observe 

Doct. Those that proudly err from God's statutes, God can, hath, 
and will soon pull them down with ignominy and contempt. 
This point will be made good if we consider 

1. The persons described. 

2. The notion by which judgment is expressed. 

3. Something concerning the certainty of this judgment. 

1. The persons described, ' Them that err from thy statutes/ 
Some err out of weakness, and some out of pride and obstinacy. (1.) 
To err out of weakness, to wander in by-paths of our own, is not safe : 
Ps. 125, 2, ' As for such as turn aside unto their crooked ways, the 
Lord shall lead them forth with the workers of iniquity/ Men that 
do not sin out of malice, but are discouraged by the rod of the wicked 
resting upon the lot of the righteous, ver. 3 ; therefore think to shift 
for themselves by their own compliances, counsels, and crooked courses, 
God will deal with them as with his open enemies. (2.) Proudly to 
exalt ourselves against God, and trample his interest under foot, 
will bring sure judgment : Ps. cxix. 21, ' Thou hast rebuked the 
proud that are cursed, which do err from thy commandments/ Of 
such the text speaks, those that oppose themselves against God, and 
bear themselves high in sinful courses, upon account of their pros 

2. The notion by which the judgment is expressed, ' Thou hast 
trodden down/ The Septuagint efouStVwo-a?, ad nihil deduxisti, 



thou hast brought to nothing ; Acquila, confixisti, thou hast stricken 
through ; Symmachus, airr)\e<y%a$, reprobasti, thou hast disproved ; 
the vulgar, sprevisti, thou hast contemned ; Apollinarius, aOepi^as, 
parvi pependisti, thou hast little esteemed: all to the same purpose. 
The phrase of treading under foot, used by us, implies (1.) A full 
punishment ; (2.) A disgraceful one. 

[1.] A full punishment. God will pull them down from their alti 
tudes, even to the dust, though never so high and proudly exalting 
themselves against God. A full conquest of enemies is thus often 
expressed in scripture : Isa. x. 6, the Assyrian is said ' to take the 
prey, and to tread them down like mire in the streets ; ' so Micah vii. 
10, the same expression, when an adversary is laid even with the 
ground,, that he may be crushed and trampled upon, as Jehu trode 
Jezebel under foot, 2 Kings ix. 32 ; and Isa. xxvi. 6, 'The feet of the 
poor shall tread it down, even the steps of the needy.' So the utter 
and final overthrow of Satan is expressed, Kom. xvi. 20, ' He shall 
tread Satan under his feet/ 

[2.] It implies a disgraceful punishment: Ps. ex. 1, ' Until I make 
thine enemies thy footstool ; ' an expression to show the ignominy and 
contempt God will put upon them. Christ keeps his sheep in his 
hands, John x. 28, his lambs in his bosom, Isa. xl. 11, and his ene 
mies under his feet, Josh. x. 24. When he vanquished the Canaan- 
itish kings, ' Come near/ saith he to his captains ; ' put your feet upon 
the necks of these kings.' Thus Sapores the king of Persia trampled 
upon Valentinian the emperor, and Tamberlane made Bajazet his 
footstool. The meaning is, God will not only bring them under, but 
reduce them to an abject and contemptible condition. So Chrysos- 
tom on the text expoundeth this phrase, that God will make them 
eVoz>et8/oToi;9, KOI KaTaye\dcrTov$ , ignominious and contemptible. They 
shall not go off honourably, but with scorn and confusion of face, 
miserably broken. 

3. The certainty of this judgment, that he can, hath, and will do so. 

[1.] He can do so, though they be fortified with never so many 
advantages, for what is too hard for Gocl who made all things ? It 
is easier, we know, to destroy than to build up things. Things 
long a-building may be destroyed in a moment ; and therefore, God, 
that made them, can destroy them : Isa. xxvii. 4, * Who would set 
the briers and thorns against me in battle ? I would go through 
them, I would burn them together.' Briers and thorns are matter to 
feed the fire, not to quench it. We want faith in the power of God, 
and therefore we are dismayed when we see wicked men great and high. 

[2.] He hath done so, notwithstanding their greatness and proud 
attempts. That is the Psalmist's expression here ; God hath already 
trodden down many such persons, and hath decreed to tread down all. 
Of that sort the prophet speaks as a thing already done, either in 
way of faith, or in part of sense, as begun to be executed : Amos ii. 9, 
' I destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the 
height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks ; yet I destroyed 
his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.' Potent and mighty 
enemies, if they stand in the way of his people's mercies, God can pluck 
them up, root and branch. When Pharaoh advanced himself against 

VEK. 118.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 211 

the people of God, God trod him down, and flung him into the 
bottom of the sea. So the Psalmist tells us, Ps. cxxxv. 10, * He smote 
great nations, and slew mighty kings for their sakes, all the king 
doms of Canaan, and gave their land for an heritage unto Israel his 
people/ God will show what respect he hath to his people ; there 
fore, when he ariseth to avenge their quarrel, nothing shall be able 
to stand before him. 

[3.] He will do so, tread them down all. 

(1.) Because of his invariable justice : ' God is but one/ Gal. iii. 
20 ; that is, one always consonant unto himself, what he hath done he 
will do ; his justice is the same that ever it was, and his power the 
same ; and therefore in all his dispensations he is one ; that is, ever 
like himself, is as ready to take vengeance on the insolences of men 
now as before, and keepeth a proportion in his proceedings : he is of 
one mind, and who can turn him ? 

(2.) Because of the suitableness between judgment and sin. They 
trample all that is holy and sacred under their feet, therefore God treadeth 
them under foot ; they despise God, therefore are despised, 1 Sam. ii. 30 ; 
they trample upon the grace of God in Christ, therefore are said, Heb. 
x. 29, { to tread the blood of the covenant under foot;' they trample upon 
the law of God : Amos ii. 4, 'I will not turn away the punishment there 
of, because they have despised my law ; ' they trample upon all godly 
admonitions and reproofs: Mat. vii. 6, ' Cast not your pearls before swine, 
lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend 
you ; ' and they trample the servants of God under foot, and make his 
saints bow down for them to go over, Isa. Ii. 23 ; and therefore are they 
themselves trodden under foot. They despised God, and he therefore 
despiseth them, and poureth contempt upon them ; and the more they 
esteem themselves, of the less reckoning are they with God. 

(3.) For the undeceiving the world, who usually look to sensible 
things. While their ways are prosperous, we make another manner 
of judgment upon them than we do when they are under contempt 
and disgrace : Mai. iii. 15, ' We call the proud happy ; yea they that 
work wickedness are set up, and they that tempt God are even de 
livered.' We dote too much upon outward things, insomuch that 
things wicked, if prosperous, seem good and holy. Our affections 
bribe our judgments, and those things that we would otherwise loathe 
have a fair gloss and varnish put upon them. It is a mighty tempta 
tion, even to good men, and they begin to have other thoughts of 
things when to appearance they are befriended by God's providence 
and succeed beyond expectation ; therefore God will tread them down. 

(4.) To undeceive sinners themselves, that are hardened by their 
own prosperity and success, and make God's providence and forbear 
ing punishment to be an approbation of their actions against his law. 
So Ps. 1. 21, ' These things hast thou done, and I kept silence ; thou 
thoughtest I was altogether such an one as thyself, but I will re 
prove thee.' God may for a long time endure very horrible provoea- 
tions without any act or mark of vengeance, till sinners flatter them 
selves that the things they do are pleasing to God ; but they shall 
find they have erred when they read their sins in their punishment : 
Mai. ii. 9, ' Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base be- 


fore all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have 
been partial in the law.' The great God aims at the repentance of 
men, both in his forbearance and his punishment. In his forbear 
ance : Kom. ii. 4, ' Not knowing that the forbearance of God leadetli 
to repentance/ He is pleased to suffer them that offend him grie 
vously to taste the goodness of his providence, and have their turn in 
this world's felicity, to see if that will better them ; if not, then he 
poureth contempt and shame upon them, that by his frowns he may 
further their conviction. When prosperity is a temptation, God will 
change the dispensation, and instead of general favour and respect, 
they meet with shame and disestimation and disgrace. This is the 
punishment of those that are partial in his law. It is true this is not 
to be taken singly without the foregoing provocation. It was the lot 
of Christ and his prophets and apostles to be disrespected in a wicked 
world, and such a trial may befall his faithful messengers. Yet when 
this is the fruit of foregoing unfaithfulness, and men that had nothing 
to commend them to the world but their height and grandeur, that 
only had a testimony in men's carnal affections because of their great 
ness, and not a testimony in men's consciences because of their purity 
and holiness and good fruits, as good men have been in the consciences 
of those that hate them, it is to them a judgment. But, however, when 
those that in the main are faithful are by a righteous providence ex 
posed to ignominy and contempt, they ought the more to search their 
ways, and to see whether they have been throughout with God in the 
conscience of their duty to liirn, and whether some neglect and par 
tiality of theirs hath not brought this judgment upon them. 

(5.) To give a check to the insolency of men who abuse their 
power, and think they may do what they please when they have no 
hindrance and rub in the way : Micah ii. 1, ' They do evil because it 
is in the power of their hands.' Kestraints of conscience prevail not 
with many, but only restraints of providence. It is no thanks to them 
if they are not worse than they are ; it is not because they want will, 
but because they want power. Therefore God cuts them short, and 
treads them down like mire. 

Use 1. A warning to them that are in prosperity, that they do not 
carry it proudly against God, his ways and people. God hath un 
horsed many that have held their heads very high ; therefore let none 
presume to do evil because they are high and exalted. There is a 
foolish and mad confidence which wicked men have in their pros 
perity, as if they were above the reach of providence, and therefore 
abuse their greatness to contempt and oppression. When men are 
up they know nothing moderate. Former judgments upon the proud 
and disobedient, that contemn God, his people and ways, should a 
little check them. God, that hath scattered the proud in the imagi 
nation of their hearts, Luke i. 51, can do it again, and will, when men 
will not take warning. As Nazianzen, when his heart was like to be 
corrupted and grow wanton with ease and prosperity, I thought, saith 
he, of reading the Lamentations of Jeremiah, and of the doleful con 
dition of the church in former times. This means he took to reduce 
himself to a holy sobriety. This is the thing God aimed at in the 
ceremonial law. In the thank-offerings, leavened bread was required, 

VER. 118.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 213 

which was allowed in no other sacrifice ; thereby showing we should 
not so surfeit and run riot with our mercies as to forget the bitterness 
of former afflictions, together with the causes of them. 

Use 2. Not to be dismayed at the prosperity of the wicked, so as to 
be troubled either about your own persons, or about the cause of God, 
or to cry up a confederacy with them that err from God's statutes 
when uppermost. Wicked men are here supposed to be in power, 
height, and pride of spirit ; but God treadeth them down : and to be 
full of craft and subtlety ; but their deceit is falsehood ; that is, for all 
their might and subtlety, they are not able to resist God. David was 
shaken with this trial, when evil men were great flourished in wealth 
and authority, Ps. Ixxiii. 17 ; but how doth he settle his heart ? ' I 
went into the sanctuary, and there I understood their end.' When 
we look to the end of things, that will settle us ; but when we see 
God's work by halves, we miscarry : we make another judgment when 
we see God's work brought to perfection than we did when we only 
saw the beginning of it. Therefore let us not be altogether dismayed ; 
a little faith will help us against the temptations from sense. When 
the Lord shall have tried and humbled his people, then the cup is put 
into the hand of the wicked, and God will throw them down from the 
seat of their arrogancy, and trample upon them like dust. What 
should hinder ? Cannot God do it, or will he not? Cannot he do it? 
Yes ; very easily. Poor earthen vessels that oppose him, they do but 
dash themselves against a rock, they do but break themselves in 
pieces ; all attempts are nothing ; God will laugh them to scorn. Or 
else will he not do it ? Doth not he hate sin as much as before, or 
love his people as much as ever ? What God punisheth in one he 
punisheth in all, if repentance prevent not ; he oweth them a shame,, 
therefore will pour contempt and disgrace upon those that dishonour 
him, Ps. liii. 5. It might soon be known what will become of them, 
if you would but awaken faith ; you may look upon it as a thing 
accomplished already : he shall tread down all iniquity under his feet, 
Mai. iv. 3. 

, Use 3. Observe the judgments upon those that err from God's 
statutes, that we may fear before the Lord, and believe in him, and 
learn to obey his statutes. David trembled to see Uzzah smitten, 2 
Sam. vi. 7, 8 ; so should we w r hen God revenges the quarrel of any 
commandment. Examples of judgments are lively instances, and are 
apt to strike deep upon the heart. Therefore, when we read or hear 
or see any of these, we should look upon it as a warning piece let off 
from heaven to warn us not to sin after the similitude of their trans 
gression. God comes to speak to us in the language of sense ; when 
we cannot understand by faith, he makes good his threatenings. The 
unbelieving Israelites were destroyed, Jude 5 ; Aaron's sons for offer 
ing strange fire were consumed, Lev. x. ; Uzzah for touching the ark ; 
Lot's wife for looking back turned into a pillar of salt ; therefore it is 
said, ' Remember Lot's wife/ Luke xvii. 32. So in every age there 
are remarkable judgments, how God treads down those that err from 
his statutes ; which should be observed, not to censure others, but for 
our own caution. 

But now, because men are apt to misapply providence by a mali- 


cious interpretation, and to make perverse judgments of the sins of 
others, I shall give you some rules how you may avoid censure on the 
one hand, yet not hinder profit on the other. 

1. It is certain God's judgments upon others must be observed : 
Jer. vii. 12, 'Go unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my 
name at the first, and see what I did to it, for the wickedness of my 
people Israel;' Amos vi. 2, 'Pass ye to Calneh, and see; and from thence 
go ye to Hamath the great ; then go down to Gath of the Philistines : 
be they better than these kingdoms?' It is stupidness not to take 
notice of God's hand. Providence is a comment upon the word of 
God, written many times in blood, and those that will not observe it 
shall feel it. ' Remember Lot's wife. 7 One observeth upon those 
words, Lege historiam, nefias liistoria observe the instances of God's 
wrath upon others, lest thou be made an instance thyself. Some 
times God meets with this sinner, sometimes that ; any that will go on 
in a way of sin and disobedience against God. 

2. This observation must "be to a good end ; not to censure others, 
for that is malice : to speak even to the grief of those whom God hath 
wounded, this is condemned, as enemies did of the people of God in 
their affliction, Jer. 1. 7. Neither must we do it to justify ourselves; 
that is pride and self-conceit, condemned Luke xiii. 5, ' Except ye 
repent ye shall all likewise perish ; ' but for instruction, that we may 
fear for ourselves : Zeph. iii. 7, ' Surely now thou shalt fear me.' And 
that we may be cautioned against the like sins, that we may see what 
an evil and bitter thing it is to forsake the Lord, Jer. ii. 19 ; and 
that we may admire the Lord's mercy to us, that we are not set out as 
marks of his vengeance, that we are not in their condition, Amos vi. 2 ; 
that we may give to the Lord the glory of his mercy, justice, and 
truth. Take one place for all : Eom. xi. 22, there the apostle doth 
sum up all these three, that we might not boast ourselves over others, 
that we may admire the justice of God, and mercy to us- ward, and 
may learn to fear him, and walk cautiously and humbly with him, lest 
we' contract the like judgment upon ourselves. 

3. In making the observation, there must be care that we do not 
make providence speak a language which it owneth not, the language 
of our fancies, and pry into God's counsels without warrant. 

[1.] When you come to observe judgment, there must be a due 
reasoning from the provocation to the judgment, but not e contra, not 
judge of the wickedness of the person by the affliction of the person. 
The barbarians showed little reason, and less charity, in misconstru 
ing the passage of the viper fastening upon St Paul's hand, Acts 
xxviii. 4. The foregoing provocation must be evident before we in 
terpret the judgment The dispensations of God's providence are 
common, and fall alike to good and bad, Eccles. ix. 2. God by a 
sudden stroke may take off the godly as well as the wicked. Good 
Eli broke his neck, 1 Sam. iv. 18, and Josiah died in the army in the 
same manner that Ahab did, by an arrow in battle after he disguised 
himself, 1 Chron. xxxv. 23. Therefore do not reason from the stroke 
of God. Shimei misinterpreted David's afflictions : 2 Sam. xvi. 7, 8, 
' Come out, thou bloody man, and thou man of Belial ; the Lord hath 
returned upon thee all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose stead 

VER. 118.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 215 

thou hast reigned ; and the Lord hath delivered the kingdom into the 
hand of Absalom thy son.' Job's friends thought him a hypocrite be 
cause God smote him with boils and sores. The best of God's children 
may suffer greatly from his hand ; but the judgment must not make 
you conclude a sin, but the foregoing sin must make you interpret it 
to be a judgment. 

[2.] When the sin is written upon the judgment, and there are 
some remarkable circumstances wherein the sin and the judgment 
meet ; as Judges i. 7, Adonibezek, as he served his vanquished enemies, 
so was he served himself, his thumbs and toes cut off. God's retalia 
tion is very notable. Many judgments have a signature upon them, 
as many herbs in nature have a signature to show for what use they 
serve : Obad. 15, 'As thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee ; thy 
reward shall return upon thine own head.' When God payeth men 
home in their own coin Gen. ix. 6, ' Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by 
man shall his blood be shed it is not only a law, what ought to be 
done in justice, but a rule of providence, what shall be done. Pharaoh 
was the author of the execution in drowning the Israelites' children, so 
Pharaoh and all his host, his nobility and men of war, were drowned 
in the sea. Ahab' s blood was licked up with dogs in the place where 
they licked up the blood of Naboth. Jezebel was more guilty than he ; 
Ahab permitted it, but Jezebel contrived it ; Ahab humbled himself, 
therefore his body was buried, but Jezebel was entombed in the bellies 
of dogs. Hamaji was hanged on the gallows set up for Mordecai. 
Henry III. of France was killed in the same chamber where the mas 
sacre was contrived. Charles IX. flowed with blood in his bed. Thus 
God will requite men in the same kind. His own people meet with 
this. Jacob supplanted his elder brother, and therefore the elder is 
brought to him instead of the younger. Asa put the prophet in the 
stocks, and he was diseased in his feet. Joseph's brethren were not 
flexible to his request; afterwards, when they were in extremity, 
Joseph proves inexorable to them: Gen. xlii. 21, 'We are verily 
guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul 
when he besought us, and we would not hear ; therefore is this distress 
come upon us.' How comes this into their minds ? This was many 
years after the fact was committed, some twenty years as they com 
puted. So God deals with his children in like manner as they dealt 
with others, that their consciences may work the more kindly. The 
same is observed concerning David and Absalom, 2 Sam. xii. 10-12. 
He took the wife of Uriah to be his wife, and Absalom took his wives 
before his eyes. St Paul consented to the stoning of Stephen, and 
assisted in the execution, ' They laid down their garments at his feet;' 
therefore, afterwards, Paul himself for preaching the gospel is stoned 
and left for dead, Acts xiv. 19, 20. Barnabas was not stoned, that 
assisted Paul ; both were alike offensive to the men of Iconium in 
preaching the gospel. Paul was sensible of this as a great part of his 
guilt, Acts, xxii. 20, and his conscience works upon that. Many other 
instances might be given, but this is enough. 

[3.] When judgments fall upon them in the very act of their pro 
vocation. Thus many are taken away by a violent death in the very 
heat of their drunkenness. Zimri and Cozbi lost their lives in the 


very instant when they were unloading their lusts, and -many times we 
see punishment treads upon the heels of sin. 

[4.] When they are authors of their own destruction. Not only 
in such a sensible manner as Saul, Achitophel, and Judas, that mur 
dered themselves ; but thus, when men are given up to their headlong 
counsels, to break themselves : Prov. v. 22, ' His own iniquities shall 
take the wicked himself, and he shall be hoi den with the cords of his 
sins/ Wicked men are often whipped with their own rods; and Ps. ix. 
15,16, 'In the net which they hid, is their own foot taken. The 
Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth : the wicked is 
snared in the work of his own hands. Higgajon, Selah.' When by 
their own errors, mistakes, and furious passions they undo themselves. 

[5.] When evil men are brought down, wonderfully, suddenly, con 
trary to all apparent likelihood and the course of second causes : Ps. 
Ixiv. 7, ' God shall shoot at them with an arrow, suddenly shall they 
be wounded ; so they shall make their own tongue to fall upon them 
selves.' And Ps. Iviii. 7, unto the llth verse, there is this consolation 
given to the church, that enemies shall be destroyed before the pots 
ieel the thorns. When they are contriving and boiling somewhat *io 
their minds, before the pots feel the thorns, God takes them away 
suddenly in an instant, and then men shall say, Verily there is a re- 
warder of evil. 

[6.] When God's judgments are executed by unlikely means and 
instruments. Sisera, a great captain, destroyed by Jael, Judges iv. 21 ; 
Adrian the pope strangled by a gnat ; Arius voiding his bowels in a 
draught after his perjury ; Cora, Dathan, and Abiram, when the earth 
clave to receive them that had made a rent in the congregation ; and 
Herod was eaten up with the lice. 

[7.] When such accidents bring a great deal of glory to God, and 
peace and tranquillity to his people ; as hanging Haman with his sons 
upon his own gallows, Esther vii. 9, and viii. 17. 

[8.] When God supplies the defects of man's justice, and their 
iniquity finds them out, when they think all is forgotten, and shall be 
no more heard of : Ps. ix. 12, ' When he maketh inquisition for blood, 
he remembereth them ; he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.' 
There are many instances how God finds out men that seem to escape 
well enough from man's hands, when they could not be found out by 
man. Zeph. iii. 5, the prophet tells us, ' Every morning he will bring 
his judgments to light/ There is some sinner or other which God 
notably punisheth, that men may own his providence. 

[9.] When the word /car a TO p^roz/, in the express letter, is made 
good upon men : Hosea vii. 12, ' I will chastise them, as their congre 
gation hath heard/ The word doth fully take effect, and what they 
would not believe they are made to feel. By these rules we may 
observe God's judgments with profit. To quicken you to do so, con 

(1.) It would be a mighty cure to atheism. There are a sort of 
men ' settled on their lees, that say in their heart, The Lord will not 
do good, neither will he do evil,' Zeph. i. 12 ; that think God is so 
shut up within the curtain of the heavens, that he takes no notice of 
what is done below. These vain conceits would soon vanish if men 

VER. 118.] SERMONS urox PSALM cxix. 217 

would but turn students in .God's providence; they would soon cry 
out, Verily there is a reward for the righteous ; verily there is a God 
that judgeth in the earth: they would say, There is a ruler of the 
affairs of the world, and a righteous judge that takes care of all things 
here below. Usually men think amiss of God, as if, good and evil 
were of no respect with him, but all things were governed by chance ; 
as Job's wife said, ' Dost thou yet retain thy integrity ? Curse God 
and die.' Mai. ii. 12, ' Ye have wearied the Lord with your words, 
yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him ? When ye say, Every one 
that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in 
them ; or, Where is the God of judgment ? ' We do not see his justice, 
and so have atheistical and evil conceits of God. When we fancy evil 
men are in esteem, and the good neglected and despised, it is a tempta 
tion to men to think there is no providence no God. So when the 
nocerit are prosperous, and the good vexed with all manner of dis 
pleasure ; as Claudian the poet much doubted whether there were any 
such thing as providence, that had a care of sublunary things ; but at 
length, when he saw Kuffinus was only lifted up that his fall might be 
the greater, then he no more calls in question God's providence, or 
taxes him of indifferency to good and evil. 

(2.) It will be a notable curb and awe upon us to keep us from sin ; 
for all these things befall them for our learning. It is our stupid in- 
cogitancy when God puts these examples before our eyes, and we are 
not affected with them, and so are of little use to us : Josh. ix. 3, 
' When the inhabitants of Gibeon heard what Joshua did to Jericho 
and to Ai,' they were wiser than we ; they did not expect the coming 
of Joshua, but sent messengers to meet him and strike up a covenant 
with him. Or as that captain that came to Elijah, 2 Kings i. 13, 
when two captains were destroyed with their fifties, he comes and 
desires the prophet to spare his life, and that those he brought with 
him might be dear and precious in his eyes. As he did, so should we. 
God hath smitten this and that for sin ; we should the more humble 
ourselves, and desire terms of grace ; but our blindness and stupidness 
is such that we are not moved with God's judgments on others to look 
to the state of our souls : Prov. xxii. 3, ' The wise man foreseeth the 
evil and hideth himself, but the fool goeth on and is punished.' 

Secondly, I come now to the reason rendered, ' For their deceit is 
falsehood.' The Septuagint hath on CL'OLKOV TO evOv^p^a CLVTWV thou 
hast despised all those that err from thy statutes, for their thought is 
unjust. But to open the words. These two notions, deceit and false 
hood, sometimes are taken for the vanity of outward things, the disap 
pointment of trust ; for by an ill-built trust a man deceives himself, and 
his hopes prove false ; and sometimes they are put for craft, guile, arid 
hypocrisy. Now, according to these different acceptions of the word, 
diverse senses are given. (1.) Some think these words relate to the 
disappointment of their trust. Thus their confidences wherein they 
trust will deceive them at last, and be found falsehood. Certain it is 
that carnal men have many imaginations and carnal confidences 
wherein they flatter themselves, and hope to avoid their appointed 
judgments, which prove in the conclusion but lying vanities. If this 
were the sense, that at length it shall appear how deceitful their trust 


is, then it concerns us to see to our trust, to see what in probability 
these confidences might he whereby they deceive their own souls. Is 
it their greatness and present height ? This deceiveth them when 
they are brought down wonderfully, Isa. xiv. 12-16. Or is it meant 
of their devices and witty counsels wherein they trust ? But their 
subtle devices fail, and they are often taken in the snares they laid for 
others : Isa. xxix. 14, ' The wisdom of the wise men shall perish, and 
the understanding of the prudent shall be hidden.' All their craft will 
do them no good ; all their cunning and policy, by which they hope to 
fortify and defend themselves and prevent their ruin, shall come to 
nought. Or they do not get that by their deceit which they hope for ; 
though they have many methods and stratagems to circumvent the 
people of God, yet they shall prove but vain. (2.) Most simply it 
seemeth to be taken for hypocrisy and guile of spirit, manifested either 
in shows of piety or any guileful course, whereby they would under 
mine others ; for this reason God will bring them down. 

Doct. All fraudulency and hypocrisy is hateful to God, therefore 
he will sooner or later discover and destroy those that practise it. 

Fraudulency is twofold : 

1. Either falsehood in ordinary commerce, lying or treacherous 
imposing on the simplicity of upright and honest men. Most men's 
wisdom and policy lies in their falsehood and deceitfulness ; but this 
shall be manifested, and whilst they think to deceive others, they shall 
be deceived themselves, Job v. 13, and be taken in their own snares; 
and whilst they seek to ruin and undermine others, they are ruined 
and undermined themselves. Or 

2. There is another sort of fraudulency, pretences of piety, whereby 
such men deceive the world. Now this deceit is threefold either the 
deceit of the heretic and erroneous person, or the formalist and super- 
titious person, or the deceit of those that pretend to be truly religious. 
All these cheats put upon the world shall not long hold. 

[1.] The cheat of erroneous persons and heretical seducers, who, 
under a fair mask and plausible appearance, carry on such designs as 
prove troublesome and noxious to the church of God. Though for a 
while they carry great sway under colour of a godly life, yet at length 
God will tread them to dust and nothing, and then all will be counted 
but deceit. The deceit of heretical seducers is often spoken of in 
scripture : Rev. ii. 9, 'I know the blasphemy of them which say they 
are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan ;' and 1 Tim. 
iii. 5, 9, ' But they shall proceed no farther ; for their folly shall be 
manifest unto all men.' When, under a form of godliness, they carry on 
a horrible design unto the great disturbance of the church, of the 
kingdom and commonwealth, the day shall declare it, 1 Cor. iii. 13 ; 
God will bring them down. 

[2.] There is the deceit of superstitious persons and formalists, who 
seem to be devout, and have great zeal for outward things, not com 
manded by God ; such 'make a fair show in the flesh,' Gal. vi. 12, by 
observing outward and carnal rites, as circumcision, difference of 
meats, legal purifications ; all their religion is but a vain show, to be 
guile a loose conscience. This same sort of men are again described 
to be those that ' speak lies in hypocrisy/ 1 Tim. iv. 7. These also 

VER. 118.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 219 

do in time discover the folly of their way, manifested by some notable 
judgment; for these things take not hold of men's consciences, but 
only of their affections ; and when public countenance is gone, they are 
of no more esteem. 

[3.] There is the deceit of those that only pretend to be truly 
religions, and are not so ; and because false and counterfeit, they are 
hateful and abominable to God. Now these God will not only punish 
in the other world : Mat. xxiv. 51, 'He shall appoint him his portion 
with the hypocrites ; ' hell seems to be their freehold and patrimony ; 
but here, sooner or later, God will pluck off these vizards, and bring 
disappointment and ruin upon these deceivers : Prov. xxvi. 26, the 
hypocrite shall be discovered before the congregation. Things that 
are counterfeit and false do not long hold out. God will discover 
them, either by some trying judgment, as he that builds upon the 
sand, when the winds blow and beat upon the house, down it falls. 
Earthen vessels, when they come to be scoured, the varnish and paint 
wears off. Or by some scandalous fall, for ' that which is lame will 
soon be turned out of the way/ Heb. xii. 13. This deceitfulness 

(1.) Is contrary to God, who is a God of truth, Ps. xxxi. 5 ; the 
author of truth : Eph. iv. 24, ' Created after God in righteousness and 
true holiness ;' and a lover of truth : Ps. li. 3, ' Thou desirest truth in 
the inward parts/ So that it is a great affront to God when men 
deal falsely : Jer. v. 3, ' Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth ? ' Is 
not that the thing thou lookest after in all the works of men ? This is 
all in all with God. 

(2.) It is contrary to justice, charity, and common ingenuity ; it 
destroys the commerce between man and man : Eph. iv. 25, ' Put away 
lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour ; for ye are members 
one of another/ It is unnatural and monstrous by lying and deceit 
to circumvent one another ; it is as for one part of the body to destroy 
another. It is a sin not only unseemly for a Christian, but it tends to 
the overthrow of all human society, fidelity and mutual trust being 
the ground of all commerce. Now God will pour out his judgments 
upon them. 

Use. Let this teach us to carry it sincerely both to God and men, 
for craft will not always succeed. The more real worth in any, the 
more openly and fairly they carry it. But for motives. 

1. You will never else have true solid comfort, until you are real, 
without dissembling before God and men: 2 Cor. i. 12, 'For our 
rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and 
godly sincerity, not with guile and fleshly wisdom, we have had our 
conversation in the world/ Truth breeds joy and comfort of heart 
when a man is sincere and acts according to his conscience. 

2. You will never hold out without it ; your mask will fall off: James 
i. 8, ' The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways ; ; wavering, 
inconstant, up and down, off and on with God. A hypocrite is com 
pared to a rush that grows in the mire, Job viii. 12 ; pluck it up, 
it soon withers : they are like reeds shaken with every wind. And 
you can have no approbation and acceptation with God ; God likes 
those that are sincere : ' Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is 
no guile/ Who are those who have pardon of sin sealed up to their 


souls ? Oh ! blessed is that man that can say his sins are forgiven 
him. Who is that man ? ' In whose spirit there is no guile ; ' that 
is, without dissimulation, fraudulency, and guile : this man enjoys 
acceptance with God, pardon of sin, justification before God. And 
the contrary will certainly bring down a heavy judgment. 


Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross : therefore I 
love thy testimonies. VER. 119. 

IN these words we have (1.) God's dispensation; (2.) The effect it 
had upon David's heart. 

In the first branch we have 

1. The character by which they are described, all the wicked of the 

2. The esteem God hath of them, they are dross. 

3. A suitable providence dealt out to them, intimated, tliou puttest 
them aivay like dross. 

First, That the wicked are men of the earth. There are common 
reasons why we are all men of the earth. Our original is earth, made 
of the dust of the ground, Gen. ii. 7. They are but a little earth or 
red clay fashioned into the form of a man, a handful of enlivened dust. 
Our abode and service is here : John xvii. 4, ' I have glorified thee 
upon earth ;' and at our end and dissolution we are turned into earth 
again : Eccles. xii. 7, ' Then shall the dust return to the earth as it 
was ; ; Ps. cxlvi. 4, ' His breath goeth forth, he rcturneth to his earth.' 
Princes as well as others must look to be dissolved into dust again. 
But in an especial respect are wicked men said to be of the earth, and 
that in contradistinction to the people of God, Rev. xiii. 10. God's 
witnesses ' tormented the dwellers upon earth;' that is, those that are 
out of the true church, in Antichrist's kingdom. So Rev. xiii. 8, 
' And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names 
are not written in the book of life of the Lamb/ As, on the contrary, 
they that dwell in the church, are said to be in heaven : Rev. xiii. G, 
' And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme 
his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven ; ' so Rev. 
xviii. 20, ' Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles.' But 
why are they thus characterised ? Because here they flourish : Jer. 
xvii. 13, ; Their names shall be written in earth ;' grow great, and of 
good reckoning and account here. Judas had the bag ; they ' pros 
per in the world/ Ps. Ixxiii. 12, ' Behold, these are the ungodly, who 
prosper in the world/ Here they are respected : 1 John iv. 5, ' They 
are of the world, and speak of the world, and the world heareth them/ 
Here their hearts and minds are, Mat. vi. 19, 20. It is their natural 
frame to be worldly ; they only savour the things of the world ; prefer 
ment, honour, greatness, it is their unum magnum; here is their 
pleasure, and here is their portion, their hopes and their happiness. A 
child of God looketh for another inheritance, immortal and undefiled. 

YER. 119.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 221 

Use 1. To wean us from present things, which the wicked enjoy 
more than the righteous, and which certainly are but poor things in 
comparison of our happiness : ' Set your affections on things above, not 
on things in the earth,' Col. iii. 2. Affect them not as your happiness 
and last end : Ps. xvii. 14, ' Their portion is in this life.' Affect them 
not in competition with heavenly things, but in subordination, Mat. 
vi. 33 ; affect them not inordinately, but so as to part with them when 
God will: Job i. 21. ' Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and 
naked shall I return thither ; the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken 
away ; blessed be the name of the Lord.' Affect them not so as to use 
unlawful means to get them: Prov. xxviii. 8, ' He that by usury and 
unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that 
will pity the poor/ Affect them not so as to put yourselves upon the 
temptation of getting or keeping them by unjust means : 1 Tim. vi. 
9, ' But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and 
into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction 
and perdition ;' Prov. xxviii. 20, * He that maketh haste to be rich 
shall not be innocent.' Affect them not so as to be backward to good 
works : ' But whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother 
have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how 
dwelleth the love of God in him?' 1 John iii. 17; 1 Sam. xxv. 11, 
1 Shall I take my bread, and my water, and my flesh, which I have 
provided for my shearers, and give it to men I know not ? ' Affect 
them not so as to neglect heavenly things ; affect them not so as to 
lay out your whole time and care about them : Prov. xxiii. 4, ' Cease 
from thine own understanding ; labour not to be rich ;' Isa. Iv. 2, 
' Why do ye spend your money for that which is not bread, and your 
labour for that which satisfieth not?' But only affect them as you 
may honour God : Prov. iii. 9, ' Honour the Lord with thy substance.' 
You may provide for your families in the fair lawful way of God's 
providence, 1 Tim. v. 8 ; also you may be helpful to others, Eph. iv. 
28 ; for if you so do, you are not the wicked of the earth, but those 
that use this world, but hope to enjoy better things. 

Use 2. Let us be contented though we be kept low and mean in the 
world. God's people are not the children of this world ; better things 
are reserved for them in the world to come : and therefore, if we have 
food and raiment, and that but of the coarsest, let us be content: 
1 Tim. vi. 8, ' Having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.' 
Jesus Christ gave thanks for five barley loaves and two fishes, Mark 
vi. 41. The wicked are characterised to be of the earth; God's 
children are from above as to their original, and thither they tend as 
to their scope and end ; and if we have anything by the way, we have 
no cause to complain : 1 Peter ii. 11, ' I beseech you as strangers and 
pilgrims.' What would a man care for in a journey but a bait or a 
little refreshing ? If we seek after more, it is inordinate affection, and 
must be mortified, not satisfied : Eph. iii. 5, ' Mortify your members 
which are upon the earth.' Evil inclinations bend us to the earth, and 
earthly things, those splendid nothings, riches, pleasures, honours, these 
hinder us from nobler things ; yea, they increase our difficulties about 
the things that are necessary for us by the way : Heb. xiii. 5, ' Let 
your conversations be without covetousness, and be content with such 


things as you have ; for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor for 
sake thee ;' implying that whilst we indulge carnal desires, it is hard 
to trust God with daily supports, for daily protection and daily main 
tenance ; but always distract ourselves with fruitless cares and thoughts 
about the things of this life. And also we may say, ' The Lord is my 
helper ; I do not fear what man can do unto me.' Therefore let us 
not desire more than God alloweth: a little with God's blessing is 
enough to supply our necessities as to wants, and to give us protection 
against dangers ; as the apostle subjoineth God's undertaking, and the 
saints' confidence thereupon by way of a cure ; if we believe God's pro 
mises, and have the spirit of his saints, this is enough to us. 

Use 3. Let us not envy the prosperity of the wicked. 

1. They are the wicked of the earth ; here they flourish ; as nettles 
will more easily grow than choicer plants, the soil bringeth them forth 
of its own accord ; so do wicked men thrive here : but you need not 
envy them ; not only our hopes are much better than their possessions, 
but our present condition is much better, Ps. xvii. 14. Their posses 
sions are not to be compared with our hopes. What is a more plen 
tiful table to the everlasting fruition of God ? the pomp of the world 
to the seeing God face to face ? vainglory to everlasting glory ? 
honour here to the glory that shall be upon us at Christ's appearing ? 
their momentary pleasures, which pass away suddenly as a dream, to 
the everlasting pleasure you shall enjoy in the sight of God ? Nay, 
for the present you have communion with God and the sense of his 
favour, how poor and afflicted soever your outward condition be : Ps. 
iv. 6, 7, ' There be many that say, Who will show us any good ? Lord, 
lift thou up the light of lhy countenance upon us : thou hast put glad 
ness in my heart, more than in the time when their corn and wine 
increased.' Carnal men rejoice in sensual earthly good things, not in 
the favour of God. And mark, this joy is proposed with a supposition 
of increase ; and at the time of this increase, when the carnalist doth 
enjoy the greatest affluence of worldly blessings, take them at their 
best, when they have the most lively sense of these things, yet a Chris 
tian hath more cause of rejoicing: 'Thou hast put gladness in my 
heart ;' here is matter and ground of rejoicing. They drink of the 
cistern, you of the fountain, Jer. xii. 13 ; they rejoice not in God, but 
his gifts ; and not the best gifts, but the common sort, riches, plea 
sures, and honours ; and these not as the effects of God's bounty, but 
as happening to them in the ordinary course of second causes : ' Who 
will show us any good?' But you rejoice in God, in his best gifts, 
his love and grace. And then here is the author of this joy : ' Thou 
hast put gladness.' This joy is allowed by God, and wrought by him : 
Rom. xiv. 17, ' The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but 
righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.' It is stirred up 
by his Spirit ; their joy is neither God's allowance nor God's work. 
And then here is the subject and seat of this joy ; not tickle the senses, 
but delight the heart : ' Thou hast put gladness in my heart.' And 
then here is the measure ; it is more joy, it is more pure and sublime, 
of a stronger efficacy, which not only overcometh the sense of present 
infelicities, but the fear of death, hell, and judgment to come : Heb. 
vi. 18, ' That we might have stronger consolation.' But wicked men 

VER. 119.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 223 

dance about the brink of hell, have their secret gripes ; and will you 
envy them, as if your condition were not much better ? When God 
hath given you the feast, will you be troubled that they have the scraps 
and fragments of his bounty ? 

2. In regard of the uncertainty of their condition: Ps. xxxvii. 1, 2, 
' Fret not thyself because of the evil-doers, neither be thou envious 
against the workers of iniquity ; for they shall soon be cut down like 
the grass, and wither as the green herb.' Though they seem to be in 
a very prosperous condition for the present, as grass while it is stand 
ing is very green, yet they are soon cut down by the scythe of provi 
dence, then presently fadeth, and is carried away from the place where 
it grew. You think providence doth not deal righteously, because the 
unworthy are exalted and the worthy depressed. Do but tarry a while, 
and you will have no cause to complain, or to grow weary of godliness, 
or to cry up a confederacy with evil men. They are never nearer their 
own ruin than when they come to the height of their exaltation, as the 
sun declineth presently when he cometh to the highest point of the 
zenith. Who would envy those that climb up a ladder for execution ? 
or are carried to the top of a rock, that they may be thrown down from 
thence to be broken in pieces ? Ps. Ixxiii. 18, ' Surely thou didst set 
them in slippery places ; thou castedst them down into destruction/ 

Secondly, That the wicked of the earth are as dross. They are so 
in these respects: 

1. As to external show, they seem to be a part of the substance or 
metal, but indeed they are but the filth of the metal, which is wont to 
be consumed with fire, that the metal may be purged. This is fitly 
applied to the degenerate members of the visible church, that have 
only a show of the purity of religion, but are corrupt in faith and 
manners, ungodly and unrighteous. There are disciples in show, and 
disciples indeed, John viii. 31 ; some that live, and some only that 
have a name to live, but indeed are dead, Eev. iii. 4. There is a Jew 
outwardly and inwardly, of the letter and of the spirit, Korn. ii. 28, 29. 
There are branches in Christ, by an external visible union, that bring 
forth no fruit, John xv. 2. Some are Christians in name, by external 
visible communion, others by real implantation into Christ. It con- 
cerneth us to see whether we be dross or metal, living members of 
Christ's mystical body, or only equivocally called Christians, because 
of some loose profession of Christ's name. 

2. Dross is intermingled with purer metal, and maketh one mass 
with it. The wicked and the godly live together in the visible church ; 
they are never totally severed till the great day of separation or general 
judgment, when the sheep and the goats are put apart, some on Christ's 
right hand and some on his left. Here in the world, as in the finest 
metal, there is some dross, and in the same field there is chaff and 
corn, Mat. xiii. 29. We should not leave the flour for the chaff, but 
leave the chaff that we may be pure grain. 

3. In God's esteem they are refuse, drossy, worthless things : Ezek. 
xxii. 19, ' Thus saith the Lord, Because ye are become dross/ poor, 
unprofitable creatures. The church and people of God, because of 
their excellency, are compared to gold and silver ; so Kev. i. 20, ' The 
seven golden candlesticks/ As gold is the most precious metal, so is 


the church, much esteemed by God, called God's jewels, Mai. iii. 17 ; 
as a diamond among a heap of pebbles; God's jewels, 'of whom the 
world is not worthy/ Heb. xi. 38 ; his ' peculiar people,' Titus ii. 14. 
God maketh no such reckoning of wicked men. Dross is cast away 
as good for nothing ; and all the wicked of the earth are but as dross 
to so much good metal. But all his saints are much set by, as the 
tilings of silver and gold are precious. What a difference is there 
between the judgment of God and the judgment of the world ! The 
men of the world esteem the saints to be, 1 Cor. iv. 13, ' the off- 
scouring and filth of all things/ as the sweeping of the city, to be 
cast forth to the dunghill. Whereas themselves are so indeed in 
God's account ; but ' reprobate silver/ Jer. vi. 30, or rather dross, 
which is the refuse of gold and silver. Therefore their contempt is 
not to be regarded, how great soever they be ; though potentates, high 
in honour and place, yet if ungodly and wicked, God reckons them to 
be vile persons, Dan. xi. 21, dross, worthless souls. Men are not 
valued by God for their secular interests, but moral qualifications. 
The potentates of the earth are not valued as his princely, but holy 
ones : ' The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour/ Prov. xii. 
26. God puts the highest price upon them, they are coin and medals 
who bear his own image. 

4. They are consumed in trials, as dross consumeth in the fining 
and trying of metals. Solid metal endure th, but the dross is con 
sumed ; which holdeth true of wicked men in two respects : (1.) 
Their seeming goodness is lost, and the difference is seen between 
them and those that are sincere. Sound and searching judgments 
discover hypocrites, as the lightness of a building is seen in a storm : 
Mat. vii. 27, * When the rain descended, and the floods came, and the 
winds blew, the house fell, and great was the fall of it.' So God, in 
the metaphor of the text, is often said to melt and try his people, 
Jer. ix. 7, to discover the dross from pure gold. Hirelings will soon 
prove changelings, when God trieth them to purpose. (2.) Their 
imaginary felicity vanished into smoke, they perish, the meanest as 
well as the greatest. Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth 
like dross ; they are consumed in the fire of God's wrath, and de 
stroyed : Ezek. xxii. 20, ' As they gather silver, and brass, and 
iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the 
fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in 
iny fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you/ But of this by 
.and by. 

Use. Let us see what we are, real members of Christ's mystical 
body, yea or no. The wicked of the earth are as dross, and the 
godly are the finest sort of metals. To move you to consider what 
you are : 

1. Ordinarly the visible church is so mixed, that the generality 
thereof is unsound : Zech. xiii. 8, ' Two parts thereof shall be cut off 
and die ; and I will bring the third part through the fire, and refine 
them as silver is refined, and try them as gold is tried/ There is but 
one part in three sound, and it were well the proportion were sound 
every where ; and therefore we had need *to consider who shall be 
saved and found faithful : Luke xiii. 23, 24, ' And one said unto him, 

VER. 119.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 225 

Lord, are there few that shall be saved? and he said unto them, 
Strive to enter in at the strait gate ; for many shall seek to enter, 
and shall not be able.' We had need be the more earnest, because 
the most miscarry. 

2. The trials will be searching; we must pass through the fire, and 
then what will become of the dross ? Rev. iii. 10, ' An hour of temp 
tation shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon 
earth/ And, alas ! are we able to brook the fiery trial ? 1 Peter iv. 
10. Few professors will be able to abide it, when we are to part with 
the sweetest of our earthly comforts, yea, and it may be life itself, 
which maketh us capable to enjoy them. It is no strange thing that 
it should happen to us, 1 Peter iv. 12 ; it is as useful as violent 
storms at sea or tempestuous weather in winter ; when God is upon 
reckoning with his people, such things may be expected. 

3. The best of us will be found but dross if God would deal with us 
in extremity ; so much of corruption cleaveth to us, and so many 
hidden lusts do we cherish and indulge, that would soon become a 
root of apostasy, if God did not hold a hand of grace over us. But 
God will not be extreme : Isa. xlviii. 10, 'Behold, I have refined thee, 
but not with silver ; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction ; ' 
that is, not so thoroughly. Silver is not refined till all the dross be 
consumed and wrought out of it ; and when should we see good day if 
God should so refine us ? 

4. They are not reckoned to dross, but metal, that walk answerable 
to their profession and obligations to God, as becometh his peculiar 
people to do ; they are not satisfied with common mercies. A man 
may have the world at will, and yet be a castaway ; they must have 
something peculiar and distinguishing: Ps. cxix. 132, 'Look upon 
me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do to them that love 
thy name ; ' things that can never be given in anger. They do not 
rest in common grace: Heb. vi. 9, ' But we hope better things of 
you, and things that do accompany salvation ; ' those good moods in 
hypocrites and temporaries. Nor content themselves with a common 
conversation : 1 Cor. iii. 3, ' Are ye not carnal, and walk as men ? ' 
1 Peter iv. 4, ' Wherein they think it strange that you run not with 
them into the same excess of riot ; ' Mat. v. 46, ' If you love them that 
love you, what reward have ye ? do not even the publicans the same? ' 
You should do something rare and singular, not in an ordinary loose 

Thirdly, That it is God's business in heaven to put away the 
wicked as dross, to sever them from the purer metal. 

1. God hath many ways and means to do it. (1.) Partly by his 
judgments he doth it more and more : Mat. iii. 12, ' His fan is in his 
hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat 
into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.' 
As the chaff from corn, so dross from metal : Isa. iv. 4, ' When the 
Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughter of Zion, and 
shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, by 
the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning ; ' that is, by the 
judgment executed upon the evil among them : Ezek. xx. 38, 'And I 
will purge out from among them the rebels, and them that transgress 



against me.' This God doth by destroying, wasting judgments. (2.) 
Partly by the censures of the church : 1 Cor. v. 9, ' Put away from 
among yourselves that wicked person/ And partly by the stroke of 
the civil magistrate, and their punishments : Prov. xxv. 4, 5, ' Take 
away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for 
the finer. Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne 
shall be established in righteousness.' Thus doth God do it now, but 
he will fully and finally do it at the last judgment, when there shall 
be a perfect separation of them, and all the wicked shall be cast away 
as refuse : Mat. xxv. 32, 33, ' Before him shall be gathered all nations, 
and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth 
his sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, 
and the goats on his left hand ; ' there is a congregation and then a 
segregation, never to meet more, nor be mingled more. Now God 
doth it in part, but then more fully. 

2. The reasons. (1.) God doth so, lest the silver itself should be 
turned into dross. We are apt to corrupt one another, natural cor 
ruption within meeting with examples without : Isa. vi. 5, ' Woe is me, 
I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell among 
a people of unclean lips ; ' as a man that hath the matter of a disease 
prepared, coming into infectious company, is soon infected. God's 
choicest people have much dross in them, therefore the Lord needeth 
to purge out their dross. The purest church is apt to contract pollu 
tion and to degenerate, and the choice plants of the covenant-stock to 
run wild, were it not for these dispensations. (2.) That impunity 
may not harden the wicked and encourage others. God suffereth it as 
long as hejudgeth it expedient: Eccles. viii. 11, 'Because sentence 
against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of 
the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil ;' Ps. ix. 16, ' The 
Lord is known by the judgments he executeth ; the wicked is snared 
in the work of his own hands/ Men sin more freely and securely when 
a judgment doth not presently overtake them, when sinners go on 
without any mark of God's vengeance ; but God will in every age clear 
his providence, by bringing of judgments upon wicked men. (3.) The 
nearer they are to God, the more hateful their provocations are, and 
more severely punished : Amos iii. 2, ' You have I known of all the 
families of the earth, therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.' 
For their sins the valley of vision is brought to barrenness. They 
sin against the clearest light, the dearest love, the highest engagements 
to the contrary ; and therefore, when they are mingled among his 
people as dross with the silver, God putteth them away. 

Use 1. To inform us that God in his judicial proceedings will dis 
tinguish ; he will divide the dross from the other metal, that he may 
destroy the one, and preserve the other. David prayeth, Ps. xxvi. 9, 
' Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men ; ' that 
God would not lay him common with the wicked. God hath his 
harvest, for cutting down, for cutting and binding together those that 
sinned. Now David prayeth that he, that had severed himself in his 
course of life, might not be gathered with them in their punishment. 
God will distinguish ; his judgments are for the destruction of the 
worser sort, and the amendment of the better; when he severeth the 

VEK. 119.] SERMONS UPON FSALM cxix. 227 

dross, he hath a care of the silver. Though never so terrible to the 
wicked, still he will be comfortable to his own : 2 Peter ii. 9, ' The 
Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to re 
serve the unjust to the day of judgment to be punished.' His own 
jewel, that lieth hidden among them: when all is shaken round about 
them, God can hide them in the secret of his presence, and preserve 
them as he did Lot and Noah. His own are wonderfully preserved in 
common judgments ; several scriptures speak to this : Eccles. viii. 12, 
13, ' Surely it shall be well with them that fear God, but it shall not 
be well with the wicked ; ' and Josh. iii. 10, ' Hereby ye shall know 
that the living God is among you, and he will without fail drive out 
from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites ; ' Isa. iii. 10, 11, 
' Say unto the righteous, It shall be well with him ; for they shall eat 
the fruit of their doings. Woe to the wicked, it shall be ill with him ; 
for the reward of his hands shall be given him/ God will make a 
difference between good and bad. 

Use 2. That a few wicked men may bring a great deal of hurt and 
mischief, as Achan upon Israel ; two dry sticks may set a green one 
on fire, as the whole metal is melted that the dross may be severed. 

Use 3. All judgments on the visible church are to sever the dross 
from the gold. God suffereth them a while to be mingled, and then 
come trying judgments to separate the one from the other ; which is a 
comfort to us ; the church is the purer for these judgments : Isa. i. 25, 
' And I will turn my hand upon thee, and I will surely purge away 
thy dross, and take away thy tin.' So Mai. iii. 3, ' And he shall sit as 
a refiner and purifier of silver, and he shall purify the sons of Levi, 
and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord 
an offering in righteousness/ He will send such judgments as will 
destroy the incorrigible wicked ones, and purify the rest. It is a com 
fort against persecutions. We murmur under them, know not how 
they shall be turned away ; God, who is the purger of his church, will 
find out some way. And it is a comfort under his judgments ; they are 
not to destroy, but to purge. God intendeth only our purging, how 
hot soever the furnace be ; therefore let God alone with his work. 

Use 4. To teach us to wait upon God in the way of his judgments. 
He is putting away the wicked of the earth like dross ; it is not only 
a work that he hath done, or will hereafter do, but he is always doing 
of it. We should observe how God hath already done it, and so by 
faith we should look upon him as still about it. First, he beginneth 
with his people ; he is purging away their wickedness : ' Isa. xxvii. 9. 
' By this shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged.' ' But many shall cleave 
to them by flatteries, and some of them of understanding shall fall, to 
try them and to purge, and make them white/ Dan. xi. 35. Now, 
when God hath employed wicked men to fan and purge his people, 
then their turn cometh next : Jer. xxv. 29, ' For lo I begin to bring 
evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly 
unpunished ? Ye shall not be unpunished ; for I will call for a sword 
upon all the inhabitants of the earth ; ' 1 Peter iv. 17, ' If punishment 
begin at the house of God, where shall the wicked and ungodly 
appear ? ' Prov. xi. 31, ' Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed 
in the earth, much more the wicked and the sinner/ When the Lord 


hath performed his work upon Mount Zion and Jerusalem, then he 
will reckon with his enemies. He beginneth with his church, and 
maketh an end with their enemies : his enemies drink the dregs of the 
cup, and their end must needs be unspeakably terrible. 

Use 5. Let us see we be not put away like dross, when God's judg 
ments are abroad in the earth : 1 Cor. xi. 32, ' We are chastened of 
the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.' We shall 
put that out of question if we do two things: (1.) If we be faithful 
to God, and cleave to God's people, truth, and interest, how great 
soever our trials be : Ps. xliv. 17, ' All this is come upon us, yet we 
have not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in the covenant.' 
To consume in the melting is the property of dross ; but the pure 
metal is the more united, and cleaveth together the more closely. 
(2.) If you are refined by all these trials : Isa. xxvii. 9, ' Bv this shall 
the iniquity of Jacob be purged.' A Christian loseth nothing by his 
afflictions but sin, which is better parted with than kept. 

We come now to the second branch of the text, and that is the 
effect it had upon David's heart, ' Therefore I love thy testimonies.' 
This use he made of all God's judgments. 

D'oct. A gracious heart, that observeth the providence of God, and 
the course of his judicial dispensations, will find more cause to love the 
word of God than ever before. 

1. Because thereby he hath sensible experience of the truth of it. 
God's providence is a comment upon his word ; the effect is answerable 
to the prediction, and the word that God hath said is fulfilled to a 
tittle. Now, the more confirmation the word receive th, the more is 
affection increased. The apostle telleth us that ' the word spoken by 
angels was steadfast/ Heb. ii. 2, because every 'transgression and 
disobedience received a just recompense of reward/ The punishment 
of the transgressors of the law was a proof of God's authorising their 
doctrine ; the same law made formerly is valid. We see the word 
doth not threaten in vain, and they that slight it smart for it. Now I 
see the word of God is to be valued, for God will make it good, even 
to a tittle. 

2. Because if we love not the word, we may see great danger likely 
to ensue : even those terrible punishments by which he purgeth out 
the dross should make us fall in love with God's law. If we would not 
perish with the wicked of the earth, we should not sin with the wicked 
of the earth. If we partake of their sins, we must partake of their 
plagues : Ps. ii. 12, * Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from 
the way, if his wrath be kindled but a little : blessed are they that 
trust in him.' When we see the danger of being enemies to God, or 
unsound with him, we have need to learn this wisdom of showing all 
affection and reverence and respect to Christ in his ways, and submit 
to him heartily ; there is no safety in any other course. If a spark of 
his wrath light upon us, how soon will it consume us ! The stupid 
world regardeth not this, to love his ways the more God giveth out 
proofs of his anger against those that despise them. Many are cut 
off in the midway sooner than they did or could expect, and yet they 
do not grow one jot the wiser. It is dangerous to stand out against 
God, his cause, work, or people. 

VER. 119.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 229 

3. It doth endear the mercy of God to us ; because he hath dealt 
otherwise with us, who in strict justice have deserved the same. God's 
judgments on the wicked commend his mercies to his children, Rom. 
ix. 23. The vessels of wrath fitted to destruction serve to show the 
greater love of God to the vessels of mercy ; the torments of hell 
inflicted on the wicked do the more set forth his love to the saints, to 
whom he hath appointed the joys of heaven. So the severity of God 
in his present judgments doth imply the love of God to his chosen people, 
who can take comfort in the promises when the threatenings are accom 
plished upon others ; this might have been our condition too, but that 
grace nath made the difference. Well, then, as it doth endear the 
mercy of God to us, so it calleth upon us more highly to love and prize 
him and his word, because of this distinction. 

4. It is not only a means to set off the love of God to us, but even 
his judgments upon others may be a necessary act of love to us. They 
are purged out as dross, that they may not infect us by their example, 
or molest us by their persecutions or oppressions. Now the more we 
are befriended in this kind, the more we are bound to serve God cheer 
fully : Luke i. 74, 75, ' That being delivered from the hands of our 
enemies, we may serve God in righteousness and holiness all the days 
of our lives.' The world is one of those enemies, or the wicked of the 
earth ; therefore we should serve him faithfully. 

5. By this means we see the world is governed by God, and we may 
the more safely commit ourselves to his protection upon the encourage 
ment of his promises. If the affairs of the world were governed by 
blind chance, and men might do what they listed without check and 
control, we might think that we had cleansed our hearts in vain, and 
that a man doth make himself a prey by the simplicity of his innocence. 
But when God punisheth the wicked in our sight, certainly this should 
teach us to be more holy in all our ways : Ps. iviii. 11, * A man shall 
say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous, verily there is a God 
that judgeth in the earth.' They that knew not what to think of 
providence shall see there is a God in the heavens that doth wisely 
administer all things below ; and so we are encouraged to love him and 
serve him more heartily. Say, as the Psalmist, ' It is good for me to 
draw nigh to God/ Ps. Ixxiii. 28. 

Use. Well, then, let our love to God, and liking and approbation of 
his law, be accompanied with the hatred of sin, the more we observe 
his judgments in putting away the wicked like dross, that we may be 
more holy, and seek after communion with God as our only blessed 
ness. To this end : 

1. Let us bless God for giving a sure rule to walk by, and such 
promises of protection in the midst of the darkness and uncertainty 
of the present world. When others perish, you are safe : Isa. viii. 20, 
' To the law and to the testimony/ &c. Thou shalt walk in this way 
safely, and shalt not stumble ; yea, please God, and you need not fear. 

2. Let us walk exactly by this rule, since our temporal and eternal 
safety and happiness is concerned thereby. For the world to come it 
is clear, as well as in this life : Prov. iii. 1, 2, ' My son, forget not my 
law, but let thine heart keep my commandments ; for length of days, 
and long life, and peace shall they add unto thee/ and Gal. vi. 16, 


' As many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon 

3. The more God doth own his law by his judgments, the more let 
our love be increased. This is to wash our feet in the blood of the 
wicked : Ps. Iviii. 10, ' The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the 
vengeance : he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.' 


My flesli trembletJi for fear ofthee, and lam afraid of tliy judgments. 

VER. 120. 

IN this psalm you find the man of God under divers passions, some 
times of joy, sometimes of sorrow, sometimes of hope and courage, and 
sometimes of fear. As there is a time for all things in this world, 
there are several conditions and duties that we run through, and we 
have affections planted in us that suit with every condition. Religion 
doth not nullify, but sanctify our affections. Some have vainly thought 
affections to be an after-growth of noisome weeds in our nature cor 
rupted ; whereas they are wholesome herbs, implanted in us by God 
at our first creation, of great use to grace when rightly stirred and 
ordered: Anima nunquam melius agit, c. The passion expressed 
in the text is fear ; for two or three verses his meditations had been 
taken up in the observation of God's judgments upon evil-doers : 
' Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes ; for 
their deceit is falsehood ' (ver. 118). They were once high, but God 
hath brought them down with ignominy and contempt ; they had 
borne themselves out in their sinful courses on account of their pros 
perity, but at length they are utterly ruined and broken. And why ? 
' For their deceit is falsehood ;' that is, they were unmasked, and all 
their pretences of piety and justice found to be fraud and imposture. 
In ver. 119 he still insisteth upon the same argument : ' Thou puttest 
away all the wicked of the earth like dross ; therefore I love thy testi 
monies.' They seemed to cleave to the church and people of God as 
dross to gold or silver. That God, who is the purger and refiner of 
his church, failed not to put a difference, and to consume the dross 
and refine his silver. The use that David made of these judgments 
was twofold : (1.) To love God's ways so much the more, and to 
cleave to them with greater firmness, ' Therefore I love thy testimonies. 
(2.) To fear before the Lord, and tremble at the Lord's judgments, as 
in the text. There are two affections wherein we should always seek 
to profit the love of God and the fear of God. Of this last in the 
text, ' My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy 
judgments.' In which words we have 

1. The degree of his fear, my flesli treiribleth. 

2. The object of his fear, for fear of lliee. 

3. The ground and reason of his fear, I am afraid of thy judgments. 
1. The degree of his fear, ' My flesh trembleth/ The word samar 

St Hierome rendereth, horrivilavit caro mea mv flesh is in horror 

VER. 120.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 231 

and affrightment. Symmachus before him, opOorpi^el diro TOV <j)6(3ov 
fj adp% [MOV my flesh maketh my hair stand on end, as the prickles 
of a hedgehog, which is an emblem of horror. The poet Persius 
expresseth such an affrightment thus, Excussit membris tremor albus 
aristae my fear made my hair stand up like a field of corn, from the 
contraction of the skin. So it happeneth in cases of fear. You have 
the like expression, Job iv. 14, 15, ' Fear came upon me, and trem 
bling, which made all my bones to shake ; the hair of my flesh stood 
up.' And elsewhere the same word is so used. The Septuagint reads 
it imperatively, KaOrfKwaov e'/c TOV <j)6/3ov ra? aaptcds /JLOV, cirro jap TWV 
Kpi/uLaTcov o-o v (j)ol3^d7]v pierce through my flesh with fear, as with 
nails. Surely it noteth some deep sense and high degree of fear ; as 
the prophet Habakkuk expresseth upon like occasion, Hab. iii. 15, 
' When I heard this, my belly trembled, my lips quivered, rottenness 
entered into my bones, and I trembled in my flesh ;' his bowels did 
beat and shake for fear, and his lips quivered for fear, that he could 
not speak. The judgments of God ought to beget a deep sense and 
trembling, not a slight affection in us. The prophet saith, Amos iii. 
8, ' The lion roareth ; who will not fear ? ' We have need to stir up 
our hearts again and again. When the Lord roareth and cometh 
forth to judgment, we have need be ashamed of our stupidity when 
we are not affected. 

2. The object of his fear, ' For fear of thee.' It was not the fear of 
man that put him into such an agony and consternation. We are 
always dissuaded from the fear of man, but we are exhorted to the 
fear of God : Mat. x. 28, ' And fear not them which kill the body, but 
are not able to kill the soul ; but rather fear him that is able to destroy 
both soul and body in hell.' The one is a snare Prov. xxix. 25, 
' The fear of man bringeth a snare ; but whoso putteth his trust in 
the Lord shall be safe ' but the other is a duty. The great preservation 
of the soul from spiritual dangers is the fear of God. We are tuti si 
cauti, securi si attoniti, saith Tertullian the fear of God maketh us 
circumspect, and so bringeth safety to us ; yea, the one is the cure of 
the other, Isa. viii. 12, 13. As one nail driveth out another, or as 
Moses' rod did eat up the rods of the magicians, so doth the fear of 
God against all contrary fears and terrors, whereby the heart may be 
turned from God. Man can only kill the body, but God can cast both 
soul and body into hell-fire ; so that we may set God against man, soul 
and body against the body only, and hell-fire against temporal punish 
ment. As that holy man said, Da veniam, imperator, tu carcerem com- 
minaris, Deus autem comminatur Geliennam thou threatenest bonds 
and imprisonment, he threateneth everlasting damnation ; therefore 
it is God is to be feared : Ps. Ixxvi. 7, ' Thou, even thou, are to be 
feared ; arid who can stand in thy sight when thou art angry ? ' Not 
man, in comparison of God. Man against man may stand, and wicked 
men in the time of his patience may stand ; but when God judgeth, who 
can stand ? Now of God there is a double fear filial, which draweth 
us to him ; and servile, which driveth us from him: Exod. xx. 20, ' And 
Moses said unto the people, Fear not, for God is come to prove you, and 
that his fear may be before your face, that ye sin not.' Fear not with 
a slavish fear, but an awful fear, composed of reverence and love. 


3. The ground of his fear, ' I am afraid of thy judgments.' The 
great seventy which God did exercise in punishing the evil-doers, and 
purging out the dross. When God doth smite the wicked and call 
them to an account for sin, he warneth his own people to stand in awe. 
As here, ' Thou puttest away the wicked like dross. When the 
threatening is made good, and terrible judgments are abroad, every 
one needeth to look to himself ; not only to love God's testimonies, 
but to stand in awe of his judgments. We need all affections to keep 
us within our duty, both fear and love. 

Doct. That when God is angry, and his judgments are abroad in 
the world, it becometh his own people to observe them, and have a> 
deep awe and sense thereof. 

Here I shall show you 

1. How far the people of God do and ought to take notice of his 

2. This fear that is wrought thereby, whether it be an infirmity or 
a duty. 

3. The reasons why it becometh them to have a deep awe and sense 
of these things. 

For the first: 

1. His ancient judgments in former times ought to be laid to heart 
by us, especially when like sins abound. The scripture referreth to 
the days of Lot and Noah, and biddeth us remember Lot's wife, Luke 
xvii. 26-32. God biddeth his people, ' But go ye now to my place 
which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I 
did to it, for the wickedness of my people Israel/ Jer. vii. 12. And 
the apostle tells us that all the punishments that befell the stubborn 
Israelites are for our caution and warning : 1 Cor. x. 1-10, ' And all 
these things happened unto them for ensamples, and they are written 
for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come ; ' so 
he concludeth in ver. 11. And the apostle tells us that Sodom and 
Gomorrah were ' an example to those that after should live ungodly,' 
2 Peter ii. 6. A people might easily read their own doom and destiny 
if they would blow off the dust from these ancient providences, and 
mark the prints of God's justice and truth in them, and how the word 
of God was verified upon them, for these are but copies and patterns. 
The desert of sin is still the same, and the exactness of divine justice 
remaineth still the same. These providences are pledges of the same 
wrath, of the like for substance to come upon us also, if we walk con 
trary to God. Others have smarted, why not we ? God is impartially 
arid immutably just: Gal. iii. 20, ' He is but one ;' always consonant 
unto himself, like unto himself ; his power is the same, so is his 
justice; and therefore we should take warning: Exemplo qui peccat, 
bis peccat. He that will plunge himself in a bog or quagmire, where 
others have miscarried before him. is doubly guilty of folly, because he 
neither feareth nor will take warning by their example. This is one 
great benefit we have by the historical part of the word, that it doth 
not only preserve the memory of the saints, that we may imitate their 
graces and enjoy their blessings, but also records the sins and punish 
ments of the wicked, that we may know God hath owned the historical 
part of the word, and fear for ourselves : Heb. ii. 1, 2, ' Therefore we 

VER. 120.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 233 

ought to give the more earnest heed to the tilings which we have heard, 
lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels 
was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just 
recompense of reward ; ' Kom. i. 18, ' The wrath of God is revealed from 
heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold 
the truth in unrighteousness.' So the historical parts are also to justify 
the prophetical. It is not only a register and chronicle of what is past, 
but a calendar and prognostication of what is to come. God might 
have blotted out the memory of sinners, that it should be no more 
thought or heard of, but he would secure it upon record for our learn 
ing ; as some malefactors, their bodies are not buried, but quarters 
set upon places of greatest resort : Ut qui vim noluerunt prodesse, 
morte eorum respublica utatur ; or as Lot's wife turned into a pillar of 
salt, to season after ages. So that our flesh may tremble at the old 
judgments, that Adam for one sin was turned out of paradise, the old 
world swept away with a flood, Dathan and Abiram swallowed up of 
the earth, Achitophel and Judas brought to the halter, Herod eaten up 
with worms for his pride ; and all these have their use. 

2. Judgments that light upon other countries ought to be made use 
of by us, because usually they go in, a circuit ; the cup of trembling 
goeth round, Jer. xxv. 32 ; and because by this means we may learn 
to be wise, and have all our schooling at other men's costs. As God 
expresseth it, Zeph. iii. 6, 7, ' I have cut off the nations : their towers 
are desolate : I made their streets waste, that none passed by : their 
cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, none inhabitant. I said, 
Surely thou wilt fear me, thou wilt receive instruction ; so their dwell 
ing should not be cut off, however I punished them : but they rose 
early, and corrupted all their doings.' God would have us take warn 
ing at a distance, and, while he is yet a great way off, to send for 
conditions of peace ; otherwise it is a new provocation, and the judg 
ment is hastened, Jer. iii. 7-10. A fire in one house alarmeth all the 
street : and they make provision for their safety. 

3. When the judgments of God break in among us, and are executed 
before our eyes, that must be the more considered : Isa. xxvi. 9, ' When 
thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn 
righteousness.' God looketh to be more reverenced and obeyed for 
this, because then what was before matter of faith is made matter of 
sense ; and we need not doubt any more whether God will punish the 
disobedient when his threatening is made good. Smoke is a sign of 
fire, much more when the fire is breaking out ; and we see what we 
only heard before, and we feel what we would not believe before. 

4. Though we should be well at ease in our own persons, yet the 
judgments upon others should be considered by us. Nehemiah, 
chap, i., preferred at court, yet hath a sad resentment of the state of 
Jerusalem. So Daniel, chap. ix. 5, a great man in Babylon, yet layeth 
to heart the judgments upon the people of God. 

5. Though the judgment pursue but a few, yet all should fear. 
When Ananias and Sapphira fell down dead, it is said, Acts v. 5, 
' That great fear fell upon all that heard these things.' God, in one 
or a few, giveth an instance of his severity that others may tremble ; 
as it is said of David, when the breach was made upon Uzzah, 1 


Chron. xiii. 12, ' And David was afraid of God that day, saying, How 
shall I bring the ark of God home to me ? ' The sin was Uzzah's, the 
breach only upon him, but the stroke was God's, and that maketh 
David tremble. Yea, the pagan mariners, when divine vengeance had 
pursued Jonah, chap. i. 18, ' Then the men feared the Lord exceed 
ingly, and offered a sacrifice to the Lord, and made vows/ The 
danger was for Jonah's sake ; when he was thrown overboard, there 
was a calm ; but the men feared greatly. 

6. Though it should light upon enemies to us and God, yet their fall 
is not to be insulted over, but God's hand observed with great rever 
ence : ' Thou puttest away the wicked of the earth like dross ; ' then 
' my flesh trembleth/ saith David. So in Ps. Ixxvi. 6, 7, ' At thy 
rebuke, God of Jacob, both the chariot and the horse are cast into 
a deep sleep. Thou, even thou, art to be feared ; and who may stand 
in thy sight when once thou art angry ?' We ought to express a sense 
of our Father's displeasure, as a child quaketh when he heareth his 
father is angry with or doth correct a servant. Naturalists say a lion 
will tremble to see a dog beaten before him : Ps. Hi. 6, ' The righteous 
also shall see and fear/ The godly will be wise observers of God's 
work and dispensations of justice, and the spiritual advantage they may 
gain thereby : Prov. xxi. 12, ' The righteous man wisely considereth 
the house of the wicked, and that God overthroweth the wicked for 
their wickedness/ Holy men do exceedingly profit by these judgments. 

7. Much more should we tremble at God's judgments upon his own 
people, when he cometh to visit their iniquities with rods and their 
transgressions with scourges. If this be done in the green tree, what 
in the dry ? * If judgment begin at the house of God, where shall the 
ungodly and sinner appear?' 1 Peter iv. 18. Many times they are 
broken with a great breach and heavy corrections : Jer. xxv. 17, 
' Then I took the cup at the Lord's hand, and made all the nations to 
drink/ His own people sip of the bitter cup that others drank the 
dregs of. The world shall know that he is a God hating sin, and 
therefore will punish them for it, lest he should seem to approve their 
sin. Though God doth not condemn his people to hell for their sin, 
yet by his sharp corrections of them in this life the world shall know 
how much he hateth sin ; especially when they have made the name 
of God to be evil spoken of. God will vindicate himself. Now these 
should make us tremble ; they are ordered for this purpose. 

Secondly, I shall inquire what this fear is, an infirmity or a duty. 
To many, to fear judgments seemeth slavish, and thereupon build a 
i'alse conceit, that God only is to be feared for his mercies and not for 
his judgments. Indeed * God is feared for his goodness/ Hosea iii. 5, 
but not only. Judgments are the object of fear ; and the fear con 
versant about them may be so far from being a sin that it is a grace. 
Briefly, then, it is not such a fear as driveth us from God, Gen. iii. 5, 
but bringeth us to him, keepeth us with him : ' I will put my fear into 
their hearts, and they shall never depart from me/ Jer. xxxii. 40. They 
are afraid both to sin and to suffer for sin. Afraid to sin, and so it is 
the fear of caution and circumspection. Certainly it can be no fault to 
be afraid of that which deserveth punishment or judgment ; and afraid 
to suffer for sin in this world, where all things come alike to all ; and 

VER. 120.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 235 

in the world to come, where God will stir up ail his wrath. But to 
fear punishment, is not this servile ? No, it is not. First, if it keep 
its proportion, and doth not exceed its limits, driving us into a despair 
ing anguish, such as the devil's is, James ii. 19. Secondly, if it have 
its spiritual use and end, which is the main and principal thing, which 
is to make us cleave the closer to God : Jer. xxxii. 40, ' But I will put 
my fear into their hearts, and they shall not depart from me/ Or, 
thirdly, if it be subordinate, which is to make us cautelous and watch 
ful against sin, or such things as may occasion these judgments, fleeing 
from wrath to come, Mat. iii. 7, and to use the means for our preser 
vation with the more diligence, Heb. xi. 7. 
Thirdly, The reasons. 

1. Because a tender heart is easily affected with all God's dispensa 
tions ; one of the great and first privileges of grace is a heart of flesh, 
Ezek. xxxvi. 26. Wicked men have a heart of stone, a stout, obsti 
nate, stupid spirit ; but when God's hand is upon their persons they 
have no sense : Jer. ix. 3, ' Thou hast smitten them, but they have not 
grieved.' But God's children have a heart of flesh, that trembleth at 
his word, and at judgments at a distance: they are soon affected with 
a providence. This tenderness, as it is wrought in them by grace at 
the first, so it is increased by their acquaintance with God and experi 
ences of his love. Familiarity with men breedeth contempt ; fami 
liarity with God not so. None are moved with reverence to the Lord 
more than they that know him best, and are most familiar with him. 
None rejoice more than they when they find God is pleased and giveth 
out demonstrations of grace to the world. None fear more than they 
when God is angry : Ps. xc. 11, ' Who knoweth the power of thine 
anger ? According to thy fear, so is thy wrath.' The world think 
not of God's anger till they feel the terrible effects of it ; but God's 
children, that have a deep awe of God, and observe him in all his 
motions, have the greatest apprehensions of his displeasure. 

2. It is the property of God's children, when they look to anything 
without them, still to draw home the providence, and consider their 
own case, and to edify themselves by that they see in others, whether 
it be good or evil. Eleciorum corda semper ad se sollicite videant, 
saith Gregory. When Uzzah was stricken, ' How shall I bring the 
ark of God home to me ?' saith David, 1 Chron. xiii. 12. Will not 
God be as severe to me, if I behave myself unreverently ? He ob 
served how failing about holy things did much incense God's wrath : 
Gal. vi. 13, 'Ye which are spiritual, restore such a one with meekness, 
considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted/ They that rigidly and 
uncharitably censure others, are usually greatest strangers to their 
own hearts ; but a man that draweth all things home, knoweth that 
if God should let loose temptations upon him, he may be as bad as 
others. A man that usually reflects upon himself will be afraid, and 
will not reflect on the judgments executed on others, but tremble. 
Nunquid ego tali? &c., was a good question in a heathen. If God 
should visit my transgressions, I have broken his laws, and deserve as 
great a punishment. A spirit of application is a great advantage. 
Our Lord telleth others, Luke xiii. 5, ye shall likewise perish, without 
repentance. David was afraid lest he should be cast away with the 


dross, because they love not God's testimonies ; therefore he would not 
only love his testimonies, hut also fear his judgments. Carnal men 
forget themselves when they are so bitter against others. 

3. The usefulness of this fear showeth it is their duty. It is very 

[1.] To stir up watchfulness and care for our own safety, that we 
may not fall into like offences, or do anything that is displeasing to 
God, lest we fall into his vengeance. We are bidden to work out our 
salvation with fear and trembling, Phil. ii. 12. We have to do with 
a just arid holy God, who is tender of his laws. Now, this fear should 
be more active and lively when we see his judgments executed, for 
then God is ready at hand with a whip to awaken us, and to show us 
he will not be dallied with, and that danger attendeth us, when we 
begin to straggle out of our duty. He that breaketh through a hedge, 
a serpent shall bite him. Fear is the great restraint of sin, as the fear 
of man keepeth the beasts from hurting him, Gen. ix. 2 ; it is their 
bridle : ' The fear of you shall be upon the beasts of the field.' So 
fear of God helps to keep from offending him, or breaking his laws. 

[2.] To humble us, when we see that sin shall not escape unpun 
ished. Alas ! if God should enter into judgment with us, who could 
stand ? Ps. cxliii. 2. Non dicit cum hostibus tuis, sed cum servo tuo. 
He doth not say, If them shouldest enter into judgment with thine 
enemy, but with thy servant. God is a just judge, and therefore, 
when we see judgments executed upon others, we may be afraid of his 
righteousness. Every humble heart is conscious to himself of grievous 
offences ; and if God, when he cometh to purge out dross, should be 
severe with us, what miserable wretched creatures should we be ! 
This striketh a holy fear into our hearts, and so helps us to humble 
ourselves in his presence. 

[3.J To make us thankful for our mercies and gracious escape. It 
is fear that maketh us taste the sweetness of the promise of free par 
don, when we see from what miseries we are delivered by the mercy 
of God. When the Israelites had seen the Egyptians drowned in the 
water, they saw they had cause to triumph in the God of their salva 
tion, Exod. xv. 1, 2. The consideration of our defects is in part repre 
sented to us in the bitter experience of others; there we may see what 
dangers we are liable unto, were it not for his preventing grace, that 
we are riot condemned with the world, and left to perish in our sins. 

[4.] To quicken and sharpen our prayers. God knoweth how to 
take vengeance on all iniquity, even in his dearest servants : Joel ii. 
17, ' Spare thy people, Lord, and give not thine heritage to re 
proach.' Sparing is an act of God's mercy, withdrawing and mode 
rating deserved judgments. Now the more our fear is increased, the 
more earnest and importunate will we be to keep off or get the judg 
ment removed. 

Use. Reproof of the greatest part of the world, that pass by God's 
judgments, and take no notice of them, so as to fear and return to 
him ; not his judgments upon others. When the arrows of God fly 
round about us, we should fear for ourselves, and when wrath is 
making inquisition for sinners, be the more earnest to be found in 
Christ. But a senseless stupidity possesseth most men ; they mind 

VER. 120.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 237 

none of these tilings. The Gibeonites were more wise and cautious, 
Josh. ix. 3, 4. When they saw the cities of Jericho and Ai destroyed, 
and their inhabitants cut off by the sword, they did not expect the 
coming of Joshua, but sent messengers to him, and by a wile struck up 
a covenant with him, before he came any further. Or as that captain, 
when two before him with their fifties were destroyed by fire, he fell 
upon his knees before the prophet, 2 Kin^s i. 13, 14, saying, ' man 
of God, let my life and the life of these fifty thy servants be precious 
in thy sight. Behold, there came fire down from heaven, and burnt 
up the two captains of the former fifties, with their fifties ; there 
fore let my life be precious in thy sight.' But oh ! our blindness and 
stupidness ! though others fall under the judgment of God, we are as 
immovable as rocks, and do not fall down before the Lord to depre 
cate his anger. Certainly if we had a due sense of our condition, we 
are as worthy as they ; it is by the mercy of God that yet we stand. 
Therefore we should fear with a holy fear, that we may bridle the 
flesh, humble ourselves before the Lord, be thankful for our safety, 
and be earnest in prayer : this we should do when we see any others 
in afflictions. Again, when judgments are on ourselves, when God 
cometh nearer to us, and beginneth to touch us with his hand, we 
should relent presently. To be sinning and suffering is the condition 
of the damned in hell. The Holy Ghost sets a brand upon Ahaz : 2 
Chron. xxviii. 22, ' That in the time of his distress he did yet trespass 
more and more against the Lord ; this is that king Ahaz/ If we keep 
our pride, luxury, vanity, wantonness still, our avarice, coldness in 
religion, Sabbath profanation, if we be not brought by all our afflic 
tions to fear God the more, such a brand will he put upon us, yea, 
our judgments will be increased, and the furnace heated seven times 
hotter ; as when the child is stubborn and obstinate, the father re- 
doubleth his strokes. Therefore we are to beg his Spirit with his rod, 
that we may be the better by all his corrections : Numb. xii. 14, ' If 
her father had spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven 
days?' So if our heavenly Father be displeased and casts contempt 
upon us, &c. 

Use 2. It reproveth those that triumph over the fallen, and declaim 
and inveigh against their sins, but do not consider their own. We 
should rather tremble and learn to fear from every judgment executed, 
though upon the worst of men, and say, Well, God is a righteous God, 
and whosoever provoketh him to wrath shall not escape unpunished. 
But this eTTL^aipeKaKia, this insulting over and upbraiding others with 
their evil and afflicted condition, is a sin which God cannot endure, 
and will certainly punish : Prov. xvii. 5, * And he that is glad at 
calamities shall not be unpunished.' If God hath stricken them, and 
the hand of justice found them out, we should be tender to them : 
Prov. xxiv. 17, 18, 'Kejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not 
thine heart be glad when he stumbleth ; lest the Lord see it and _it 
displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.' Some read it, 
Et convertat iram suam in te he turn his wrath upon thee. Thine 
enemy is not he that thou hatest, for a Christian should hate nobody, 
but he that hateth thee. If we rejoice in their evil, certainly it is a 
sign we hate them, however we please ourselves with the thoughts of 


forgiving them. As not when he falleth, so not when he stumbleth, not 
at lesser evils that befall them. Many will say they do not wish their 
destruction, but a little evil they could be glad of; which showeth how 
rare true piety is. God will give him like advantage against thee ; as 
the leprosy of Naaman doth cleave to Gehazi. David, when he heard 
of the death of Saul, rent his clothes and wept and fasted, 2 Sam. i. 
11, 12. Therefore, to feed our eyes with the misery and torment of 
others, is no holy affection. Job disclaimed it : Job xxxi. 29, ' If I 
rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself 
when evil found him, neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by 
wishing a curse to his soul.' Eevenge is sweet to carnal nature, but 
such a disposition as that cannot or should not find room in a gracious 
heart. To evidence his integrity, Job produceth this vindication. 
Though they that hate us be our worst enemies, and should have 
spirits steeped in bitterness and wormwood against us, yet ought we 
not to rejoice at the misery of an enemy. Yea, to mourn at their fall 
becometh us more, if we would act as Christians ; and to fear because 
of it is an act of piety. Therefore this old leaven of malice and 
revenge must be purged out, this being inwardly delighted, when we 
hear of the fall of those that hate us. When thine enemy falleth, 
consider, Either I myself am like him, or worse, or better than he. If 
better, who made thee to differ ? If worse, thou hast cause to wonder 
thou art spared, and to fear before the Lord. Let us therefore observe 
the judgments of God executed according to his word. Lactantius 
telleth us, Quod non metuitur, contemnitur, quod contemnitur utique 
non colitur. If the wrath of God be not feared, it is contemned ; and 
if God be contemned, he cannot be worshipped. 


/ have done judgment and justice : leave me not to mine oppressors. 

VER. 121. 

HERE is 

1. David's plea. 

2. His prayer. 

First, His plea, ' I have done judgment and justice.' Defensio est, 
non arrogantia, saith Ambrose ; he doth not speak this boasting or 
trusting in his own righteousness, but by way of apology and just 
defence : it is no pleading of merit, as if God were his debtor ; but an 
asserting of his innocency against slanderers. There isjustitia personal, 
the righteousness of the person ; and justitia causce, the righteousness 
of the cause wherein any one is engaged. We may propound the 
justice of our cause to God as the judge of the earth, and appeal to 
him how innocently we suffer, when we are not able to plead the 
righteousness of our persons as to a strict and legal qualification : Ps. 
cxliii. 2, ' Enter not into judgment with thy servant, for in thy sight 
shall no man living be justified.' Well, then, David pleadeth the 
equity and justice of his cause, and his right behaviour therein. They 

VER. 121.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 239 

cannot condemn him of any unrighteousness and 'injustice, and yet 
endeavour to oppress him ; therefore he pleads, Lord, thou knowest 
where the right Heth, so far as concerneth their slanders, I appeal to 
thee for my integrity and sincerity ; thou knowest that I have given 
up myself to do just and right things ; though they are thus forward 
to mischief, I have done them no wrong ; ' hear me, God of my 
righteousness/ Ps. iv. 1. They that look to be protected by God must 
look that they have a good cause, and handle that cause well, other 
wise we make him the patron of sin. When we suffer as evil-doers, 
it is the devil's cross, not Christ's, that we take up. 

But let us see how David expresseth his innocency, ' I have done 
judgment and justice.' These two words are often joined together in 
scripture. When God is spoken of, it is said of him, Ps. xxxiii. 5, 
' He loveth righteousness and judgment ;' and in the 2 Sam. viii. 15, 
it is said that ' David executed judgment and justice over all Israel.' 
Muis distinguished them thus, Judicium adversus sceleratos, justitia 
erga bonos judgment in punishing the wicked, justice in rewarding 
the good. Besides that David speaketh not here as a king, but as a 
poor oppressed man, the words will hardly admit of that notion. 
Some think they are only put to increase the sense : I have done 
judgment justly, exactly. I suppose the one referreth to the law or 
rule itself, according to which every one is to do right that is, judg 
ment, a clear knowledge of what ought to be done ; the other referreth 
to the action that followeth thereupon. So that judgment is a doing 
of what we know, and acting according to received light : Ezek. xviii. 
5, ' Do that which is lawful and right ;' it is in the margin, Do judg 
ment and justice. Now when this is attributed to public persons, 
judgment signifieth due order in trying and finding out the state of a 
cause ; and justice the giving out sentence on that trial and judgment, or 
causing justice to be executed for righting the wronged and punishing 
the wrong-doer. When to private men, the one implies the direction 
of conscience, the other the rectitude of our actions. By judgment we 
discern between right and wrong, and by justice doing things justly 
according to the rule. Thus it is said, Ps. cvi. 3, ' Blessed are they 
that keep judgment, and he that doth righteousness at all times/ 
There is another notion of these two words, which I had almost for 
gotten: (1.) Judgment seemeth to be opposite to rigour and ex 
tremity, and seemeth to import equitable carriage, mixed with mercy 
and moderation in exacting our own from others. Certainly, so judg 
ment is sometimes taken, Jer. x. 24, ' Lord, correct me, but with judg 
ment ; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.' (2.) Justice 
is just and faithful, dealing in and about those things which w r e owe 
to others, or are employed about, or are intrusted with by. others. 

Doct. It is a comely property in God's children, and very comfortable 
to them, to do judgment and justice. 

1. It is an excellent property 

[1.] Because by it we are made like God. Eighteousness is part of 
God's image, and herein we do most resemble his perfection : Ps. 
cxlv. 5, ' The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his 
works/ There is a perfect holiness in his nature, and a condecency 
in all his actions. Therefore it is God-like in us when our natures are 


sanctified, and all our actions are righteous and holy. It is said, Eph. 
iv. 24, ' That the new man is created after God in righteousness and 
true holiness/ according to the pattern of God, much like to him : they 
that are most so, are most like him. Natural conscience doth homage 
to the image of God : Mark vi. 20, ' And Herod feared John, knowing 
he was a just man.' 

[2.] It is acceptable and pleasing to God. The just man is an 
object of God's complacency : Prov. xv. 9, ' The Lord loveth him that 
followeth after righteousness.' God loveth all his creatures with a 
general love, but with a special love those that bear his image. He 
doth not love men because they are rich and mighty, fair and beautiful, 
valiant and strong, but as holy and just. It is said, Prov. xxi. 3, ' To 
do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice/ 
God hath required both, and we should make conscience of both ; but 
yet the one is better than the other, though the one be a duty of the first 
table, the other of the second, because moral and substantial duties are 
better than ceremonial, internal before external, and duties evident by 
natural light before things of positive institution. It appeareth in 
this, that God doth accept of moral duties without ceremonial ob 
servances, * For in every nation, he that feareth God and worketh 
righteousness, is accepted of him,' Acts x. 35. But ceremonial ob 
servances without moral duties are of no account in God's sight : he 
still rejecteth their offerings when they neglect justice; not thousands 
of rams and rivers of oil, but to show mercy, and to do justly, Micah 
vi. 7, 8, this is good. Again, he dispenseth with the ceremonials and 
the externals of religion when they come in competition with moral 
duties, even of the second table ; as David's eating the shew-bread 
when he was hungry, Mat. xii. 5. Well, then, how right and punctual 
soever we be in other things, unless we show mercy and do justice, we 
are not accepted with God, though zealous for and against ceremonies 
of the stricter party in religion. It is true we cannot say they are 
better than faith and love, and the fear of God, and hope in his grace, 
for these are the substantial duties of the first table. And compare 
substantial^ with substantial, de ordine modus, first-table duties are 
more weighty. But compare internals of the second with externals of 
the first, moral duties of the second with the ceremonies of the first, 
natural and evident with the merely positive and instituted ; these 
latter 1 are more weighty. Give to God what is God's, and to men 
what is men's. 

[3.] Because it fitteth for communion with God. When you are 
just and righteous, you may call for and look for such blessings as you 
.stand in need of ; for the righteous have an easy access to him, and are 
sure of audience : Ps. xvii. 15, ' But as for me, I will behold thy face 
in righteousness/ I cannot behold the face of Saul, he will not see 
my face ; but this comforts me, that I can behold thy face. Lord, 
thou wilt look upon me, and be gracious to me, and hear my prayers. 
Otherwise God will not hear the unjust, as he saith he would not 
accept of their peace-offerings, till 'judgment ran down as a river, and 
righteousness as a mighty stream/ Amos v. 23, 24, and rejects the 
Jewish fasts, Isa. Iviii., because they did not loose the oppressed, &c. 
On the other side, he hath assured the protection of his providence to 

1 Qu. ' the former ' ? ED. 

VER. 121.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 241 

him that is just: Isa. xxxiii. 15, 16, 'He that walketh righteously, 
and speaketli uprightly, he that despiseth the gain of oppression, and 
shaketh his hands from holding of bribes, that stoppeth his ears from 
hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil, he shall dwell 
on high, his pla.ce of defence shall be the munition of rocks ; bread 
shall be given him, and his water shall be sure.' God will minister 
to him sure comforts and sure supplies. They that walk in a con 
tinual course of righteousness and just dealing of all sorts shall be as 
safe as if in a fort impregnable, not to be taken by any force, and 
sufficiently furnished with store of provisions to hold out any siege ; 
a high craggy place is such. Bread and water are tokens of God's full 
and final deliverance: Isa. li. 1, 'Hearken unto me, ye that follow 
after righteousness.' None must look to be thus qualified but the 

[4.] It is so suitable to the new nature as fruits to such a tree. 
What is works meet for repentance ? Acts xxvi. 20, ' That they should 
repent, and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance ; ' arid 
' bring forth fruits meet for repentance/ Mat. iii. 8. They are the 
kindly products of faith in Christ and repentance towards God. It is 
as unsuitable to those that are gracious to be unjust, as that the egg 
of a crow should drop from a hen, or venomous berries should grow 
upon a choice vine. That grace that is put into our hearts, which 
maketh us submissive and dutiful to God, doth also make us kind and 
harmless to men. These things are required of us as the fruits of true 
faith and repentance : Isa. i. 16, 17, * Wash you, make you clean ; 
put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes ; cease to do 
evil, learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the 
fatherless, plead for the widow/ This is particularly insisted upon as 
the proper fruit of their change. So Dan. iv. 27, ' Break off thy sins 
by righteousness, and thine iniquities by showing mercy to the poor.' 
Kepentance is a breaking off the former course of sin. The king, an 
open oppressor, Daniel preacheth righteousness and mercy to him. 
They that continue their former unjust courses never yet truly re 
pented : Zech. viii. 16, 17, * These are the things that ye shall do, 
Speak ye every man truth to his neighbour ; execute the judgment of 
truth and peace in your gates, and let none of you imagine evil in your 
hearts against his neighbour, and love no false oath ; for all these 
are things that I hate, saith the Lord/ He would have their repent 
ance thus expressed. 

[5.] Because it is so lovely and venerable in the eyes of the world. 
A Christian, if he had no other engagement upon him, yet, for the 
honour of God and the credit of religion, he should do those things that 
are lovely and comely in themselves, and so esteemed by the world, for 
he is to glorify God, 1 Peter ii. 12, and adorn religion, Titus ii. 10, to 
represent his profession with advantage to the consciences of men. 
God is dishonoured by nothing so much as injustice, which is so odious 
and hateful to men ; and wicked men are hardened, the hopeful dis 
couraged, atheism prevaileth : Neh. v. 9, ' Also I said, It is not good 
that ye do ; ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God, because of 
the reproach of the heathen our enemies ?' On the contrary, when wo 
give every one their due, we bring honour to God and credit to reli- 



gion ; you can the better hold up the profession of it against contra 
diction, hold up head before God and man. Now justice is so lovely, 
partly as it is a stricture of the image of God, as before, in which 
respect it is said, Prov. xii. 26, ' The righteous is more excellent than 
his neighbour.' Men are convinced that he is a more perfect man, 
fitter to be trusted, as being one that will deal faithfully. And partly 
because the welfare of human society is promoted by such things: 
Titus iii. 8, ' These things are good and profitable for men.' 

[6.] And indeed that is my last reason ; it conduceth so much to the 
good of human society. A Christian is a member of a double com 
munity of the church and of the world ; the one in order to eternal 
life, the other in order to the present life ; as a man, and as a Chris 
tian. Without justice what would the world be but a den of thieves ? 
.Remove justitiam, &c., saith St Augustine. The world cannot subsist 
without justice : ' The king's throne is established by righteousness,' 
Prov. xvi. 10. The nation gets honour and reputation by it abroad : 
Prov. xiii. 34, ' Righteousness exalteth a nation ; but sin is a reproach 
to any people/ Never did the people of the Jews, nor any other nation 
whose history is come to our ears, flourish so much as when they were 
careful and exact in maintaining righteousness. And as to persons, 
all commerce between man and man is kept up by justice. And if this 
be a truth, that God, and not the devil, doth govern the world, and 
distribute rewards and the blessings of this life, surely then justice, 
which is a compliance with God's will, is the way to be exalted, and to 
live well in the world, and not lying, cozening, and dissembling. 

2. It is very comfortable to us to be just. The comfort of righteous 
ness is often spoken of in scripture : Prov. xxix. 6, 'In the trans 
gression of an evil man there is a snare; but the righteous doth sing 
and rejoice ;' whatever befalleth him, good or evil, much or little, in 
life or death. Good or evil ; if good, he hath comfort in his por 
tion, because what he hath he hath by the fair leave and allowance of 
God's providence : Prov. xiii. 25, ' The righteous eateth to the satisfy 
ing of his soul ;' he hath enough, because he hath what God seeth fit 
for him ; he hath enough to supply his wants, enough to satisfy his 
desires ; sometimes it is much, sometimes it is little. It is much some 
times, for they are under the blessing of the promise: Deut. xvi. 20, 
1 That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, 
and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.' Justice 
shalt thou follow ; if you will take care for that, God will take care to 
bless you. If it be little, that little is better than more gotten by fraud 
and injustice : Prov. xvi. 8, ' Better is a little with righteousness, than 
great revenues without right;' Prov. xv. 16, 17, ' Better is a little with 
the fear of the Lord, than great treasure, and trouble therewith;' 
though it be but a dinner of herbs : Ps. xxxvii. 16, ' A little that a 
righteous man hath is better than the treasures of many wicked.' 
The comfort, if they will stand to the scriptures, lieth not in abun 
dance, but in God's blessing. There is more satisfaction in their small 
provisions than in the greatest plenty. Suppose their condition be 
evil, whatsoever evil a just man suffers, he shall get some good by it, 
living or dying, and so still hath ground of comfort : if scorned or 
neglected, he hath the comfort of his innocent dealing to bear him out. 

VER. 121.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 243 

As Samuel, when he and his house was laid aside, 1 Sara. xii. 2, 3, he 
appeals to them, ' Whose ox have I taken ? or whose ass have I taken ? 
or whom have I defrauded ? whom have I oppressed ? or from whose 
hands have I received a bribe to blind mine eyes therewith, and I will 
restore it ?' If you are opposed and maligned, you may plead against 
your enemies as Moses did, Num. xvi. 15, ' Eespect riot their offerings ; 
I have not taken an ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them.' 
You may plead thus when you are sure you have not wronged them. 
If you are oppressed, as David in the text, you may appeal to the God 
of your righteousness. In life, in death, they have the comfort of their 
righteousness ; in life, Deut. xvi. 20, as before. In death ; Prov. xiv. 
32, ' The righteous man hath hope in his death ;' Isa. xxxviii. 3, 
* Remember now, Lord, I beseech thee, that I have walked before 
thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is 
good in thy sight.' When he is going the way of all the earth, this 
will be a comfort to him, that he hath done no wrong, but served God 
faithfully, and lived with men without guile and deceit. Oh, for com 
forts for a dying hour ! Now this comfort ariseth partly from a good 
conscience, and partly from the many promises of God that are made 
to righteousness. 

[1.] From peace of conscience. We are told, Prov. xv. 15, ' That a 
good conscience is a continual feast/ Ahasuerus made a magnificent 
feast, that lasted a hundred and eighty days ; but this is a continual 
feast, a dish we are never weary of. Now, who have this feast ? The 
crooked, the subtle, the deceitful ? No ; but those that walk with a 
simple and plain-hearted honesty: 2 Cor. i. 12, ' This is-our rejoicing, 
the testimony of our consciences, that in simplicity and godly sincerity 
we have had our conversation in the world/' They have comfort in 
all conditions : Acts xxiv. 16, ' Herein do I exercise myself always, to 
keep a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men/ 
Others are like trees of the forest, every wind shaketh them ; but 
they are the garden of God: Cant. iv. 16, 'Awake, north wind; 
blow, south wind, upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow 
out/ Out of what corner soever the wind bloweth, it bloweth good to 

[2.] Partly from the many promises of God, both as to the world to 
come and this present life. For the world to come, the question is 
put, Ps. xv. 1, and it were well we would often put it to our hearts, 
' Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? Who shall dwell in thy 
holy hill ? ' It is answered, ' He that walketh uprightly, and worketh 
righteousness, and speaketh the truth with his heart, that backbiteth 
not with his tongue, nor doth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a 
reproach against his neighbour ;' a man that rnaketh conscience of 
all his words and actions. So the apostle telleth us, in the new heavens 
and new earth there dwelleth righteousness, 2 Peter iii. 13. Then, 
for this world there are many promises : take a taste ; this bringeth 
profit, and is only profitable : Prov. x. 2, ' Treasures of wickedness 
profit nothing, but righteousness delivereth from death/ Men think 
to do anything with wealth, and that, naked honesty may be a-cold ; 
they have food and physic, friends and honour ; alas ! how soon can 
God blow upon an estate and make it useless to us make a man vomit 


up again his ill-gotten morsels ! Job xx. 15, ' He hath swallowed 
down riches, and shall vomit them up again : God shall cast them out 
of his belly/ As a man that hath eaten too much, though God permit 
him to get, he doth not permit him to hold what he hath gotten un 
justly. There is a flaw in the title will one time or other cast them 
out of possession. Well, then, riches profit not. But what is profit 
able ? 1 Tim. iv. 8, ' Godliness is profitable to all things.' And this 
part of godliness, righteousness, that will prolong life, and bring a 
blessing upon the soul of the righteous : Prov. x. 3, ' The Lord will 
not suffer the soul of the righteous to famish ; but he casteth away the 
substance of the wicked/ Another promise ; it bringeth preservation 
in times of difficulty and danger ; he that hath carried it righteously, 
they know not how to lay hold upon him, and work him any mischief : 
Prov. xi. 3, ' The integrity of the upright shall guide him, but the 
perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.' So again, Prov. xiii. 
6, ' Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way, but wicked 
ness overthroweth the sinner/ It is God keepeth us, but the qualifi 
cation of the person kept is to be observed, it is he that is just and 
honest. We think it is the way to danger, because the eye of the flesh 
is more perspicuous than the eye of the spirit or mind ; and we are 
more apt to see what is, and who is against us, than what and who is 
for us : Ps. xxv. 21, ' Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I 
wait on thee/ That which, in the judgment of the flesh, is the means 
of our ruin, is indeed the means of our preservation. So Isa. xxxiii. 
15, ' He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly,' &c. Again, 
for recovery out of trouble: Prov. xxiv. 15, 16, 'Lay not wait, O 
wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous ; spoil not his rest 
ing-place; for the just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again; 
but the wicked shall fall into mischief/ They may be ' persecuted, 
but not forsaken ; cast down, but not destroyed/ There are strange 
changes of providence ; we are up and down, but shall rise again ; with 
the wicked it is not so. Again, for stability : Prov. x. 4, 5, ' As the 
whirlwind passeth, so is the wicked no more ; but the righteous is an 
everlasting foundation/ Wicked men, being great in power, rend and 
tear all things, and bring down all things before them ; but they have 
no foundation : the one is fleeting as the wind, the other is settled 
as the earth. So Prov. xii. 3, ' A man shall not be established by 
wickedness, but the root of the righteous shall not be moved/ Wicked 
men get up, seem high for the time, but they have no root, therefore 
soon wither : they have no root, as that ambassador, when he saw the 
treasure of St Mark, said, This hath no root. All their policies, 
secret friendships, shall never be able to keep them up. Ahab was 
told that God would root out him and all his family; he thought to 
avoid this threatening ; gets many wives and concubines, by whom he 
hath seventy children, hoping that one of them would remain to suc 
ceed him ; he committed their tutelage and education to the choicest 
of his nobility, men of Samaria, a strong town ; but you see all this 
came to nought, 2 Kings x. So Prov. x. 36, ' The righteous shall 
never be moved, but the wicked shall not inhabit the earth/ Every 
man that is in good estate would fain make it as firm and lasting as 
he can; these settle polities, contract friendships, use all means to 

VER. 121.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 245 

make their acquisitions'firrn and secure, but pass by the main care, 
which is to settle things upon a righteous foundation, and therefore 
they shall not flourish. So for posterity : Prov. xi. 21, * The seed of 
the righteous shall be delivered.' So Prov. xii. 7, ' The wicked are 
overthrown and are not, but the house of the righteous shall stand ;' 
Prov. xx. 7, ' The just man walketh in his integrity ; his children are 
blessed after him.' All our care is for posterity, man multiplied, con 
tinued ; in short, all manner of blessings : Prov. xxi. 21, ' He that 
followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and 
honour/ He findeth life : Prov. xi. 19, 'As righteousness tendeth to 
life, so he that pursueth evil pursueth it to his own death;' Prov. xii. 
28, ' In the way of righteousness is life, and in the pathway thereof 
there is no death/ Righteousness ; he shall have righteous dealing 
from others. Honour ; he shall have a good name in the world, and 
be preferred w T hen God thinks fit. 

Use. To press us to do judgment and justice 

1. As to our private dealing with others ; carry yourselves faith 
fully, and make conscience of justice and equity. 

[1.] Propound to do nothing but what is agreeable to righteousness 
and honesty : Prov. xii. 5, ' The thoughts of the righteous are right, 
but the counsels of the wicked are deceit/ Our evil purpose spoils all. 
A good man erreth sometimes through ignorance, incogitancy, or 
violence of temptation, overtaken or overborne ; but he doth not pro 
pose to do evil, that is the property of the wicked. 

J2.] Be always exercising righteousness, as God giveth opportunity 
occasion : 1 John iii. 7, ' He that doth righteousness is righteous ; ' 
Ps. cvi. 3, 'Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doth 
righteousness at all times.' Justice must be observed in lesser things 
as well as in great, for where heaven and hell are concerned nothing 
is little, Luke xvi. 10. He that is faithful in that which is least, in 
minima, 6 Trtcrro? ev e\a^ia-ra) he that is faithful in a little thing 
will not be unfaithful in anything. Many will be righteous in some 
thing, but in some others dispense with themselves. 

[3.] Do not depart from your rule and resolution of just dealing 
upon any temptation whatsoever. Men resolve to be just, but when 
the temptation cometh, their resolution is shaken. Oh ! remember 
the greatest gain will not countervail your loss : Mat. xvi. 26, ' What 
is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own 
soul?' It will prove a poor bargain in the end; and there is no 
profit in what is gained unjustly; it is a certain loss, and so it will 
prove in the issue: Hab. ii. 9, 10, 'Woe unto him that coveteth an 
evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that 
he may be delivered from the power of evil: thou hast consulted 
shame to thy house, and hast sinned against thine own soul/ You 
think to avoid all emergent evils ; there needs no more to pull down 
the power and greatness of the oppressor than his studying to make it 
great ; nothing destroyeth it so much. 

[4.] Take special heed to thyself that thou be not unrighteous when 
opportunity is offered, when put in places of power and trust. Many 
are innocent because they have no opportunity to be otherwise. It is 
said, John xii. 6, ' He was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what 


was put therein.' When corrupt affections and suitable temptations 
and objects meet, then it is dangerous to the soul. 

[5.] Take heed of covetousness : 1 Tim. vi. 10, ' The love of money 
is the root of all evil/ It will make a breach on thy duty when it is 
indulged ; therefore take away the lusts, and temptations will have 
less power over thee. 

For motives 

(1.) Kighteousness is a Christian's breastplate: Eph. vi. 14, 'And 
having on the breastplate of righteousness,' to defend the heart and 
vital parts. It keepeth the heart whole ; if the breast be covered with a 
firm resolution to shun whatsoever is evil and unjust, temptations will 
not pierce us. Unless you arm yourself with this resolution, you will 
lose comfort, and lose grace. 

(2.) Consider how soon God breaketh in with a judgment when 
once men transgress righteousness : 1 Thes. iv. 6, ' Let no man go be 
yond his brother, nor defraud his brother ; for God is the avenger of 
all such.' God, that is the patron of human society, will not suffer 
unrighteousness and injustice to go unpunished. 

2. In your public engagements, see that you have a good cause and 
a good conscience, and in due time God will plead your cause. (1.) See 
that you have a good cause ; you must not intitle God to your petty 
quarrels and revenges : 1 Peter ii. 19, 20, ' For this is thankworthy, 
if a man for conscience towards God endure grief, suffering wrongfully ; 
for what glory is it if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it 
patiently ? but if when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, 
this is acceptable with God ; ' 1 Peter iii. 16, 17, ' Having a good con 
science, that whereas they speak evil of you as of evil-doers, they may be 
ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ : for it is 
better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing than for 
evil-doing.' That epistle was penned in a suffering time. When you 
are exposed to hardships, be sure you are in God's way. (2.) As the 
cause is good, so must your carriage be. Do not step out of God's 
way for the greatest good. So many, if they may drive on their de 
signs, they care not what they do, as if a good end would warrant 
them. Christ need not get up on the devil's shoulders. God is now 
bound to avenge this, for ' the wrath of God is revealed from heaven 
against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the 
truth in unrighteousness.' In this evil day the righteous shall be 
saved. God saved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and delivered 
just Lot, 2 Peter ii. 

Secondly, We have David's prayer, ' Leave me not to mine op 
pressors.' He beggeth help against the oppression of the enemy. I 
might observe 

1. That it is no new thing to see innocent men troubled, oppressed , 
persecuted. He that could say, I have done judgment and justice, 
yet had his oppressors. As long as Satan wants not instruments, 
the people of God shall not want troubles ; and the two seeds will 
never be reconciled. Therefore we should not censure the oppressed, 
and those that are fallen under the displeasure of men ; and the 
oppressed themselves should not wonder at it wicked men do but 
after their kind. 

VER. 121.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 247 

2. That to be left of God under the oppression of wicked men 
is a grievous calamity, and earnestly to be deprecated. 

[1.] When are we said outwardly and visibly to be left by God 
under the oppression of wicked men ? 

(1.) When he taketh off the restraints of his providence, and the 
hedge of his protection is broken down, and lets loose the enemy upon 
us, and we are left in the power of their hands : Dan. i. 2, ' The Lord 
gave the king of Judah into his hands.' 

(2.) When he doth not comfort us in such a condition, par 
ticularly when God's assistance is not vouchsafed. Sometimes he 
doth so : 2 Cor. i. 4, ' Who comforts us in all our tribulations.' At 
other times all is dark : Ps. Ixxiv. 9, ' We see not our signs ; there is 
no more any prophet, neither is there among us any that knoweth how 

(3.) When he doth not direct us, and show us our duty : Ps. cxliii. 
10, * Teach me to do thy will, for thou art my God, thy Spirit is good, 
lead me into the land of uprightness/ It was a time when his enemies 
prevailed over him. Now, if God hide counsel from us, we grope at 

(4.) When he doth not support us. Sometimes this, Ps. cxxxviii. 
3, ' In the day when I cried thou answeredst me, and strengthenedst 
me with strength in my soul; and Ps. xciv. 18, ' When I said my 
foot slippeth, thy mercy, Lord, held me up ; ' Ps. Ixxiii. 23, ' Never 
theless 1 am continually with thee : thou hast holden me up by my 
right hand/ David prayeth, Put me not into their power, do not let 
loose 'the reins ; thou hast hindered them hitherto. It is thy mercy 
that all this while I have not been given up as a prey to their teeth ; 
they want not malice and a will to take vengeance to the uttermost. 

[2.] It is a grievous calamity. 

(1.) It is a hard thing to be left to the will and lusts of men. 
David was in a strait ; he chose rather to fall into the Lord's hands 
than into the hands of men : 2 Sam. xxiv. 14, ' I am in a great strait ; 
let me now fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercies are great, 
and not into the hand of man/ Men are revengeful, proud, insolent : 
wicked men will soon exceed their commission : Zech. i. 15, ' And I 
am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease ; for I was 
but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction ;' Deut. 
xxxii. 27, ' Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their 
adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should 
say, Our hand is high, and the Lord hath not done all this/ God 
speaketh after the manner of men. 

(2.) It is a great mark of our Father's displeasure when he with- 
draweth, hideth counsel from us, leaveth us without support and com 
fort : Mat. ix. 15, ' And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the 
bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them ? but 
the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, 
and then shall they fast/ 

[3.] It is earnestly to be deprecated, not only as a grievous calamity, 
but as hoping for relief : ' I will riot leave you op<f>av<nx;,' John xiv. 18, 
' comfortless ; ' and Mat. xxviii. 20, ' Lo, I am with you to the end of 
the world/ 


Use. Go, then, and represent your condition to God with humilia 
tion, owning his anger, but with faith waiting for his help. Tell him 
what a prey you have been to Satan ; desire him, if he withdraw his 
presence one way, he will manifest it in another, in comforting, coun 
selling his own people ; tell him your weakness, the enemies' malice, 
and implore his aid and assistance. 


Be surety for tliy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me. 

VER. 122. 

IN this verse we may observe a petition (1.) Metaphorically expressed ; 
(2.) Literally explained. 

In the former branch we have (1.) The notion by which the help 
he expecteth from God is expressed : it is that of a surety, be surety 
for thy servant. (2.) The end and fruit of that help, or the terms on 
'which he expecteth it, for good. 

In the literal explanation we have (1.) The matter of the petition, 
let them not oppress me. (2.) An argument insinuated from the quality 
and disposition of his enemies, the proud. 

First, From the metaphorical notion, ' Be surety for thy servant,' we 
may observe this doctrine 

Doct. In deep distress we have leave and encouragement to desire 
God to interpose for his people's relief. 

1. I shall open the notion of a surety. 

2. Show why we have leave and encouragement to desire God to 

First, For the notion of a surety. Symmachus, ava&e^ai yu,e et? 
dyaObv, receive me into thy protection for good. Septuagint, eVSefat 
re $ov\6v aov, suscipe servwn tuum. It is a phrase taken from men 
when they are sureties for a debtor, to take him out of the hands of a 
cruel creditor who is ready to cast him into prison. And thus the 
prophet speaketh to God when he was in extreme danger, and could 
think of no help but God's. 

1. It implieth the danger imminent ; when a sergeant hath attached 
a man, and he is ready to go to prison, and there is no means for him 
to escape, unless somebody be his surety to answer all the challenges and 
demands of the law. In this sense Hezekiah used it : Isa. xxxviii. 14, 
* I am oppressed ; undertake for me.' He spake it when he was sum 
moned to the grave, to pay the debt we all owe to nature : I am like 
a poor debtor called to pay my debt speedily ; therefore, Lord, be my 
pledge, deliver me out of this danger. So doth David here, when the 
proud were cruelly set upon his destruction. We are driven to God 
alone, and beat to the throne of grace by our miseries ; yea, God lets 
the affairs of his people run on to loss and ruin, till we be in the 
condition of a debtor going to prison ; he reserveth himself for such 
occasions till brought nigh to utter ruin, and all other inferior reliefs 

VER. 122.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 249 

fail. And we must be content it should be so ; for there is no use of a 
surety till we are attached. Imminent danger giveth notice that the 
Lord is coming. 

2. That this distress and misery cometh as a debt respecting God's 
laws and the higher court, where all things are decreed and sentenced 
before they are executed in the world, so it is a debt that must be 
paid, and distress is God's arrest. God is compared to a creditor, 
Luke vii. 41 ; therefore the miseries of God's people are expressed by 
chains, stocks, prisons, fetters, words that relate to a judicial proceed 
ing. To chains : Lam. iii. 7, ' He hath made my chain heavy.' To 
stocks : Job xiii. 27, ' Thou puttest my feet into the stocks.' To a 
prison : Ps. cxlii. 7, * Bring my soul out of prison.' To fetters : Job 
xxxvi. 8, ' And if they be bound in fetters, and holden in cords of 
afflictions.' To a debt that must be paid, so is sin considered with 
respect to its punishment, Mat. vi. 12 ; Luke xi. 4, ' Forgive us our 
sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.' God puts 
the bond in suit, the instruments are but as sergeants and officers to 
demand of us satisfaction for breach of covenant with God. They 
think not so, neither doth their evil heart mean so ; but so it is in 
God's purpose. When you are in trouble God hath committed you to 
prison, and there is no coming out without submission and humilia 
tion, urging the satisfaction of Christ. You are sent thither by God's 
authority, and there is no getting out without his leave. 

3. That the party is insolvent and undone unless some course be 
taken to satisfy the creditor ; he cannot help himself by his own wisdom 
and strength out of the danger. The debtor in the Gospel had nought 
to pay, Mat. xviii. 25. Why else should we look after a surety : Job 
xvii. 3, ' Put me in a surety with thee : who is he that will strike hands 
with me ? ' Man is not able to stand alone under the weight of his 
afflictions ; it is a burden too heavy for us to bear. We have no might, 
2 Chron. xx. 12. God's people are often brought into such a case. 
When the principal is not solvendo, the surety answereth. We are 
weak, but he is strong ; we are not able to subsist. They exceed us 
in carnal advantages ; if force be to be resisted by force, they will 
easily overcome us, unless another that is stronger than we undertake 
for us. 

4. That the surety taketh upon him the debt of the principal person, 
and is to be responsible for it. God hath taken our obligation upon 
himself, to pay our debts, to oppose himself against all our wrongs. 
He will take our cause as his own : Ps. ix. 4, * For thou hast main 
tained my right and my cause;' and in his own time and manner will 
show it to the world, and justify us against our enemies. Oh ! how 
should our hearts rejoice in this, that he will be the party responsible, 
make our cause his own, and be liable to the suit as a debtor is to the 
creditor ! ; He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye/ Zech. 
ii. 8 ; ' He that despiseth you, despiseth me ;' ' Saul, Saul, why perse- 
cutest thou me?' Acts ix. 4; and Isa. Ixiii. 8, ' And he said, Surely 
they are my people, children that will not lie ; so he was their 

5. God is a sufficient surety. Here we may consider two things 
the satisfaction of Christ, and the power of God's providence ; in re- 


spect of both, which he is a pledge and surety every way sufficient for 
our comfort, safety, and deliverance. 

[1.] I would not leave out Christ's satisfaction, though it lie not so 
full in this text ; for as God hath a hand in all our sufferings, and all 
our affairs are determined in a higher court, this satisfaction is neces 
sary to answer the controversy and quarrel of God's justice against us. 
Thus Christ the second person is eyct^art/cw?, our surety : Heb. vii. 22, 
' Christ is the surety of a better testament.' There is a double sort of 
surety by way of caution and satisfaction, as sureties in case of debt 
and sureties for good behaviour ; the one for what is past, the other 
for what is to come. The example of the one we have in Paul for 
Onesimus, Philem. 18, 'If he hath wronged or owed thee ought, put 
it upon my account ; I Paul have written it with mine own hand, and 
I will repay it.' An example of the other we have in Judah for Ben 
jamin : Gen. xliii. 9, ' I will be surety for him ; at mine hand shalt 
thou require him : if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before 
thee, then let me bear the blame for ever.' In both these respects 
Christ is a surety ; he is our surety as a surety undertaketh for another 
to pay his debt ; and he is our surety as he hath undertaken that his 
redeemed ones shall keep God's laws, be carried safe to heaven. Of 
his suretiship by way of caution we. speak now. Though Theodoret 
understand that in the text, Undertake for me that I shall keep thy 
laws ; but it is more proper to consider the speech as it referreth to 
the payment of our debt by virtue of this suretyship. Solomon hath 
assured us, Prov. xi. 15, that he that is surety for another shall smart 
for it, or be broken and bruised. The same word is used concerning 
Christ, Isa. liii. 10. He was our surety, and was bruised and broken, 
suffered what we should have suffered. We have a right to appear to 
God's justice, but 1 our surety having made a full satisfaction for us, 
God will not exact the debt twice of the surety and the principal. 
When the ram was taken Isaac was let go : Job xxxiii. 24, ' Deliver 
him from going down to the pit, for I have found a ransom.' Well, 
then, as our punishment is a due debt to God's justice, the Lord Christ 
undertaketh or is become a surety for us ; not only our advocate to 
plead our cause, but our surety to pay our debt ; from a judge become 
a party, and bound to pay what we owe : Isa. liii. 4, ' Surely he hath 
borne our griefs.' 

[2.] The power of God's providence. If God undertake for us, his 
bail is sufficient ; none of our enemies can resist his almighty power, 
surely he is able to deal with our enemies : Isa. xxiii. 4, ' Who would 
set the briers and thorns against me in battle ? ' They are matter to 
feed the fire, not to quench it. He rescueth us just as going to prison. 
If he, put himself a pledge between us and our enemies, he will defeat 
all their oppositions and machinations against us, and stand between 
us and danger, as an able bail or surety doth between the creditor and 
poor debtor. Well, then, suretyship, as it noteth our necessity, so God's 
engagement, and his ability and faithfulness to do what he undertaketh. 
We must set God against the enemies : Isa. li. 13, ' And forgettest the 
Lord thy maker, who hath stretched forth the heavens, and laid the 
foundation of the earth ; and hast feared continually every day, because 
of the fury of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy ; and where 

J Qu. 'to appeal to God's justice, that' 1 ED. 

VEIL 122.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 251 

is the fury of the oppressor?' Dan. iii. 17, ' Our God whom we serve 
is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace.' We have the 
Almighty to be oar saviour and protector, why are you afraid of a man ? 
God against man is great odds, if we had faith to see it : man is 
mortal, God is immortal ; man is a poor weak creature, but God is 
almighty ; what is he not able to do for us ? Surely he will not leave 
his friends in the lurch ; his power is such that he is able to keep us 
safe and sound. 

Secondly, The reasons why we have leave and encouragement to 
desire God to interpose. 

1. From God's covenant, where in the general there is a mutual 
engaging to be each other's. In our several capacities we engage to 
stand by God and own his cause, and God is engaged to stand by us. 
We make over ourselves, bodies, souls, interests, all to God. God, 
quantus quantus est, as great as he is, is all ours ; therefore, if he be 
ours, we may pray him to appear for us, and own us in our distress 
and trouble. Our friend is a friend in distress. A gracious heart, by 
virtue of this mutual and interchangeable indenture, appears for God, 
and taketh his cause, though never so hated, as its own : ' The re 
proaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me,' Ps. vi. 9. 
We are his witnesses, Isa. xliii. 10. Surely it is too high a word for 
the creature ; but God taketh our cause as his, is surety for us ; by 
virtue of the general tenor of the covenant he is our God, jure venit 
in auxilium nostrum, his covenant engageth him to undertake for us. 
More particularly God undertake th to defend and maintain his people ; 
as to be a rewarder, so to be a defender : Gen. xv. 1, '1 am thy shield, 
and thy exceeding great reward.' And Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, ' For the Lord 
is a sun and a shield.' This defence is sometimes expressed, with 
respect to the violence of assaults in the world, by the notion of a 
shield. So, with respect to the process of the law, by the notion of a 
surety ; Isa. Iii. 3, we have the term of a redeemer. So that we have 
leave to pray him to fulfil his covenant engagement. 

2. God's affection is such that he will refuse no office that may be 
for his people's comfort. We are often dissuaded from suretyship, 
especially for strangers, by the wise man, with great vehemency and in 
stance : Prov. vi. 1, 2, ' My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if 
thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, thou art snared with the 
words of thy mouth ;' Prov. xi. 15, ' He that is surety for a stranger 
shall smart for it;' Prov. xvii. IS, ' A man void of understanding 
striketh hands, and becometh surety in the presence of his friend ; ' 
Prov. xx. 16, ' Take his garment that is surety for a stranger ;' Prov. 
xxii. 26, 27, ' Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or of them 
that are sureties for debts : if thou hast nothing to pay, why should 
he take the bed from under thee ?' and in other places. Our pity is 
stirred towards a man that is like to be undone and ruined ; therefore 
there is such dissuading from suretyship. And hath not God a greater 
pity over the afflictions of his people ? He pities the afflictions of them 
that suffer most justly, yea, far below their desert : Judges x. 16, ' His 
soul was grieved for the misery of Israel ; ' 2 Kings xiv. 26, ' For the 
Lord saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter ; for there was 
not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel.' How much 


more will he pity them that are unjustly oppressed of men ! Acts vii. 
34, ' I have seen the afflictions of my people which is in Egypt, and 
have heard their groanings, and am come down to deliver them.' His 
bowels worketh ; God loveth his people better than they love themselves. 
fide-ju~be, Domme, pro servo. 

3. Our relation to him : I am thy servant, and I know thou art a 
good master ; and he is our sovereign Lord, and therefore hath under 
taken to provide for us : the master was to be the servant's patronus. 
God hath found us work, and he will find us defence. This the argu 
ment of the text, * Be surety for thy servant.' We are employed in 
his work, engaged in his cause. If a rich man set a poor man at work, 
as to dig such a ditch, if he be afterwards troubled for it, the rich 
man is concerned to bear him out : Ps. cxvi. 16, '0 Lord, truly I 
am thy servant ; I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid.' 
Whilst we are engaged about our master's business, and in his work, 
he is engaged to protect us, and bear us out in it. 

4. Our very running to him, and committing ourselves into his 
hands, is an engaging God : Ps. Ixxxvi. 2, ' Preserve my soul, for I am 
holy, thou my God ; save thy servant that trusteth in thee ;' Ps. x. 
14, ' The poor committeth himself unto thee ; thou art the helper of 
the fatherless/ Employ God, and find him work; he will not fail to 
do what he is intrusted with : Ps. Ivii. 1, ' Be merciful unto me, 
God, be merciful unto me, for my soul trusteth in thee ; yea, in the 
shadow of thy wing will I make my refuge, until these calamities be 
over-past.' God taketh it well that we should make bold with him in 
this kind, and tell him how we trust him, and expect relief from him. 
Nothing is so dishonourable to God, nor vexatious to us, as the dis 
appointment of trust. An ingenuous man will not fail his friend that 
doth trust and rely upon him, much less will a faithful God fail those 
that look to him, and depend upon him for help. 

Use. Advice to us what we should do in our deep distresses and 
troubles ; when able to do nothing for ourselves, God will be surety, 
that is, make our cause his own. 

1. As your matters depend in a higher court, and with respect to 
your own guilt and sin, which hath cast you into these troubles, 
acknowledge your debt, but look upon Christ as your surety, who gave 
himself a ransom for us. The controversy between God and us must 
be taken up by submission on our parts, for God is an enemy that 
cannot be overcome, but must be reconciled. The way is not to 
persist in the contest, and stand it out, but beg terms of peace for 
Christ's sake : 2 Chron. vi. 38, 39, ' If they return to thee with all 
their heart and with all their soul, then hear thou from the heavens, 
even from thy dwelling-place, their prayers and supplications, and 
maintain their cause, and forgive thy people which have sinned against 
thee ; ' Job v. 8, 'I would seek unto God, and unto God would I 
commit my cause.' 

2. As your danger lieth with men, acknowledge your impotency. 
but consider who is your surety, and will take your part against the 
instruments that have had a hand in your trouble. 

[1.] God, who hath such a pity over his suffering servants, is ready 
ever to do them good: Ps. xxxv. 1, ' Plead iny cause, Lord, with 

VER. 122.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 253 

them that strive with me ; fight against them that fight against me/ 
He is in such full relation, and so fast bound to them, that they may 
not be weary and impatient and swallowed up of despair, he will 
interpose. God seeth our sufferings, heareth our groans, suffereth 
together with us, and is afflicted in all our afflictions. Believe it 
assuredly that he will take the matter into his own hand, and be the 
party responsible : Ps. cxl. 12, ' I know that the Lord will maintain 
the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.' Woe be to them 
that would not have God for their party, joined in the cause of the 
afflicted. God hath given assurance of his protection not by words 
only, but by deeds : Prov. xxii. 23, ' The Lord will plead their cause, 
and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.' He hath passed his 
word, and he will do it: Prov. xxiii. 11, 'For their redeemer is 
mighty ; he shall plead their cause with thee/ It is his title, Isa. li. 
22, ' Thus saith thy Lord, the Lord and thy God, that pleadeth the 
cause of his people;' not by a verbal or local, but a real and active 
plea : Ezek. xxxviii. 22, ' And I will plead against him with pestilence, 
and with blood ; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and 
the people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and grea?t hail 
stones, fire and brimstone.' And Isa. 1. 8, ' He is near that jus- 
tifieth me ; who will contend with me ? let us stand together ; who 
is mine adversary ? let him come near to me ; ' that is, let him join 
issue with me, commence his suit in law. We should be confident 
upon God's undertaking : Jer. 1. 34, ' Their redeemer is strong, the 
Lord of hosts is his name ; he shall thoroughly plead their cause, that 
he may give rest to the land.' It is a great ease in affliction to commit 
our cause unto God, and put our affairs into his hand. 

[2.] God, who hath such power ; we need not fear any opposite if 
God be our surety : Ps. xxvii. 1, 'The Lord is my light and my salva 
tion; whom shall I fear ? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom 
shall I be afraid ? ' Ps. xlvi. 1, 2, ' God is our refuge and strength, a 
very present help in trouble ; therefore will not we fear, though the 
earth be removed, and the mountains be carried into the midst of the 
sea ; ' a resolution to adhere to God and his truth whatever cometh. 
If they be mighty, God is mightier ; if they be crafty, God is wiser. 
It is a great crime to fear men so as not to trust in God ; it is a great 
sin to fear men so as not to fear God. When we comply with them in 
things displeasing to God, this is to set men above God. 

Secondly, We come to the limitation, end, or fruit of this suretyship, 
' For good.' There are three expositions of this clause, as noting the 
end, the cause, the event. (1.) Undertake for me, ut sim bonus et 
Justus ; so Rabbi Arama on the place, Be surety for me that I may be 
good. Theodoret expounds it, Undertake that I shall make good my 
resolution of keeping thy law. He that enjoineth, under taketh. 
Though we have precepts and promises, without God's undertaking 
we shall never be able to perform our duty. (2.) ' In good/ so 
some read it. God would not take his part in an evil cause. To 
commend a wrong cause to God's protection is to provoke him to 
hasten our punishment, to make us serve under our oppressors. But 
when we have a good cause and a good conscience, he will own us. 
We cannot expect he should maintain us and bear us out in the devil's 


service, wherein we have entangled ourselves by our own sin. (3.) 
* For good ; ' so it is often rendered : Ps. Ixxxvi. 17, ' Show me a token 
for good; ' Jer. xiv. 11, ' Pray not for this people for good.' So Neh. 
xiii. 31, ' Kemember me, my God, for good/ So here, ' Be surety 
for thy servant for good.' 

Doct. We should only desire the interposing of God's providence so 
as may be for good to us. 

I shall first give you the reasons, and then give you some rules con 
cerning this good here mentioned. 

Reason 1. Because then w f e pray according to God's undertaking : 
Ps. xxxiv. 10, ' But they that seek the Lord shall not want any good 
thing;' they may want food, want raiment, want many things, but 
they shall want no good thing : Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, ' No good thing will he 
withhold.' He may keep us low and bare, withhold many temporal 
mercies from us, feed us from hand to mouth, and short commons may 
be sweet and wholesome, and deny to give us larger revenues and in 
comes. If they were good for us, we should have them. God with 
holds these things so as our need and good doth require : Jer. xxiv. 5, 
' Whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for 
their good.' Their captivity was for good. 

Reason 2. Because then we pray according to the new nature ; old 
nature would have ease, the new nature would have grace ; the flesh 
would be pleased, but the spirit would be profited ; and God hears not 
the voice of the flesh, but the spirit in prayer : Eom. viii. 27, ' He that 
searcheth the heart knoweth what is the mind of the spirit, because 
he maketh intercession for the saints, according to the will of God.' 

Let me give ) 7 ou some rules. 

1. This good is not always the good of the flesh, not always the good 
of prosperity. Sometimes the good of prosperity may be good : Prov. 
xxiv. 25, ' But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good 
blessing shall come upon them.' A good blessing shall come upon 
them that plead God's cause against the wicked. There is the blessing 
of prosperity-good and adversity-good. All good is more or less, 
so as it cometh near or less near the chiefest good ; therefore that 
is good that tendeth to make us spiritually better, more like to 
God, and capable of communion with him. Lam. iii. 27, ' It is good 
for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.' That is good which 
conduceth to our everlasting good. 

2. God knoweth what is better for us * than we do ourselves. Wo 
ask a knife wherewith to cut ourselves. It would be the greatest 
misery if God should always carve out our condition according to our 
own fancy ; we would soon pray ourselves into a snare if our will were 
the rule of our prayers, and ask that which would be cruelty in God 
to grant. I will give you an instance in Lot, Gen. xix. 17, 18, ' Make 
haste, escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed : I cannot, saith 
he, escape to the mountain, behold now this city is near, it is but a 
little one, and my soul shall live.' Lot presenteth his own fancy to 
God's counsel and choice for him : this little place was in the plain ; 
he was persuaded the shower of brimstone would overtake him before 
he got thither. Often it is thus with us ; though God should com 
mand and we obey, we lift up our will above his, and doat upon our 

1 Qu. ' what is good for us better ' ? ED. 

VER. 122.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 255 

own fancies, and will prescribe to God, think it is better to live by 
sense than by faith. This mountain was the weaker border of the 
plain. 1 Now this was weakness in Lot surely. God, that had taken 
him out of Sodom by the hand of his angels, stricken the Sodomites 
with blindness, which was an instance of God's great power and good 
ness to him. Now compare the 17th and 18th verses with the 30th 
verse, ' And Lot went out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, he and 
his two daughters with him, for he feared to dwell in Zoar ; and he 
dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters/ Mark here, when God 
biddeth him go to the mountain, then he goeth to Zoar ; when God 
gave him leave to tarry in Zoar, then he goes and dwells in the moun 
tain : he was afraid in Zoar, when he saw the horrible desolation of all 
the country about it. Now see the ill success of his own choice, 
and how badly we provide for ourselves : a little time will show us 
our sin and folly : his abode in the mountain drew him to incest. 
Another instance : Hosea xiii. 11, ' I gave them a king in mine anger, 
and took him away in my wrath.' God may let things succeed with 
us to our hurt : ' If we ask anything according to his will, he heareth 
us ; ' 1 John v. 14. God is a God of wisdom, he knoweth certainly 
what will be good for us. He is a God of bowels, and loveth us 
dearly, and will certainly cast all things for the best ; therefore God is 
to be judge both for time and kind of our deliverance, otherwise we 
may meet with wrath in every condition, whether we want or have 
our will ; but if we refer it to him, we shall never want what is best 
for us. The shepherd must choose our pastures, whether lean or fat, 
bare or full grounds. The child is not to be governed by his fancy, 
but the father's discretion ; nor the sick man by his own fancy, but 
the physician's skill : our will is not the chief reason of all things. 

3. That which is not good may be good, and though for the pre 
sent we see it not, yet we shall see it ; though not good in its nature, it 
may be good in its fruit : Eom. viii. 28, ' We know that all things 
shall work together for good to them that love God ; ' a little faith and 
a little patience will discover it. As poisonous ingredients in a medi 
cine, take them singly, and they are destructive ; but as tempered with 
other things by the hands of a skilful physician, so they are whole 
some and useful : Heb. xii. 11, ( No affliction for the present seemeth 
joyous, but grievous/ The rod is a sour thing for the present, but 
wait a little, this bitter root may yield sweet fruit : God can so over 
rule it in his providence. So Ps. cxix. 71, 'It is good for me that I 
have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes/ Ask a man under 
the cross, Is it good to feel the lashes of God's correcting hand? 
No ; but when he hath been exercised, and found lust mortified, the 
world crucified, and gotten evidences of God's favour, then it is good 
that I have been afflicted. 

4. This good is not to be determined by feeling, but by faith : Ps. 
Ixxiii. 1, ' Yet God is good to Israel, and to such as are of a clean 
heart/ God is good to his people, however he seem to deal hardly 
with them : sense judgeth it ill, but faith saith it is good ; it seeth a 
great deal of love in pain and smart. There is such a difference be 
tween faith and sense as there was between Ellsha and his servant, 2 
Kings vi. 15, 16 ; the servant saw the host of the enemies, but he did 

1 There seems to be a misprint in this sentence. ED. 


not see the fiery chariots and horsemen that were for his help ; Elisha 
saw both. So believers see not only the bitterness that is in God's 
chastenings, but the sweet fruits in the issue. Faith can look at the 
pride and power of wicked men as a vain thing, when they are in the 
height of their power and greatness : Job v. 3, ' I have seen the fool 
ish taking root, but suddenly I cursed his habitation ;' that is, pro 
phetically, not passionately ; foretelling evil, not wishing it. When 
they were taking root, as themselves and other worldly men thought, 
I judged him unhappy, foretold his end and destruction. There is 
much of the spirit of prophecy in faith. When others applaud, make- 
little gods of them, he looketh through all their beauty, riches and 
honour : Ps. xcii. 7, ' When the wicked spring as the grass, and all the 
workers of iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed for 
ever.' Grass will wither and dry up of its own accord, especially when 
there is a worm at the root. Their very prosperity, as it ferments 
their lusts, and hardeneth their hearts, is a means to draw on their 
destruction: Ps. xxxix. 5, 'Man in his best estate is vanity/ Then, 
when they seem to have all things under their feet, who could harm 
them ? so that none dare open the mouth, move the wing, or peep ; 
yet God can easily blast and whip them with an unseen scourge. 

5. Good is of several sorts, temporal, spiritual, eternal. 

[1.] Temporal good. Cross accidents conduce to that: Gen. 1. 20, 
' Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good ; to bring- 
to pass as it is this day, and to save much people alive.' The Egyp 
tians and themselves had wanted a preserver if Joseph had not been 
sold and sent into Egypt. If a man were to go to sea in a voyage 
upon which his heart was much set, but the ship is gone before he 
cometh, but after he heareth that all that were in the ship are drowned, 
then he would say, This disappointment was for good. As Crassus' 
rival in the Parthian war was intercepted and cut off by the craft of 
the barbarians, had no reason to stomach his being refused. Many 
of us have cause to say, Periissem nisi periissem we had suffered 
more if we had suffered less. In the story of Joseph there is a not 
able scheme and draught of providence. He is cast into a pit, thence 
drawn forth and sold to the Ishmaelites, by them sold into Egypt, and 
sold again. What doth God mean to do with poor Joseph ? He is 
tempted to adultery ; refusing the temptation, he is falsely accused, 
kept for a long time in ward and duress. Ail this is against him ; 
who would have thought that in the issue this should be turned to 
his good ? that the prison had been the way to preferment, and that 
by the pit he should come to the palace of the king of Egypt, and 
exchange his parti-coloured coat for a royal robe ? Thus in temporal 
things we get by our losses, and God chooseth better for us than we 
could have chosen for ourselves. Let God alone to his undertaking, 
and he will manage our affairs better than we looked for. 

[2.] Good spiritual : 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.' What do we call profit ? The 
good things of this world, and the great mammon which so many 
worship ? No ; some better thing, some spiritual and divine benefit, 
a participation of God's holiness. Then we profit when we grow in 

VER. 122.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 257 

grace and are more god-like, when we are more concerned as a soul 
than a body. It is a good exchange to part with outward comforts for 
inward holiness. If God take away our peace, and give us peace of 
conscience, we have no cause to complain. If our outward wants be 
recompensed with the abundance of inward grace, 1 Cor. iv. 10, and 
we have less of the world that we may have the more of God, and be 
kept poor that we may be rich in faith, James ii. 5, 6 ; if we have a 
healthy soul in a sickly body, as Gains had, 3 John 2 ; if an aching 
head maketh way for a better heart, doth not God deal graciously and 
lovingly with us ? 

[3.] Our eternal good. Heaven will .make amends for all that we 
endure here. This mainly is intended in Rom. viii. 28, ' All things 
shall work together for good to them that love God/ And then in the 
29th and 30th verses, he presently bringeth in the golden chain, 
4 Whom he did predestinate, them he also called ; and whom he 
called, he justified ; and those whom he justified, them he also 
glorified.' 80 2 Cor. iv. 17, ' This light affliction, which is but for a 
moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding arid eternal weight of 
glory ;' it shall either hasten or secure our glorious estate. A man 
may lose ground by a temptation, his external good may be 
weakened, his soul sutfereth loss ; but this warneth him of his weak 
ness, and quickeneth him to stand upon his watch, and to look up more 
to Christ for strength against it. Or he may be cut off, and perish in 
the affliction ; but then his glorious estate cometh in possession. 

6. That may be good for the glory of God which doth not conduce 
to our personal benefit ; and the glory of God is our great interest, 
John xi. 27, 28, ' Now is my soul troubled, and what shall I say? 
Father, save me from this hour ; but for this cause came I unto this 
hour, Father, glorify thy name. Then there came a voice from 
heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.' 
There was the innocent inclination of his 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 inclinations of nature and con 
science of duty ; but in a gracious heart it prevaileth above the desire 
of our own comfort and satisfaction : the soul is cast for any course 
that God shall see fittest for his glory. Nature would be rid of 
trouble, but grace submitteth all interests to God's honour ; that 
should be dearer to us than anything else ; were it not selfishness and 
want of zeal, that would be our greatest interest. 


Be surety for iliy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me. 

VER. 122. 

USE. It informeth us what reason there is to pray and wait with sub 
mission to the will of God. God will answer us according to our 
trouble, not always according to our will. He is wiser than we, for 



he knoweth that our own will would undo us. If things were in our 
own hands, we would never see an ill day, and in this mixed estate 
that would not be good for us. But all weathers are necessary to 
make the earth fruitful, rain as well as sunshine. We must not mis 
take the use and efficacy of prayer. We are not as sovereigns to 
govern the world at our pleasure, but as supplicants humbly to submit 
our desires to the supreme Being. Not to command as dictators, and 
obtrude any model upon God, but to solicit as servants : ' Do good in 
thy good pleasure to Zion,' Ps. li. 18. If we would have things done 
at our pleasure, we should be the judges, and God only would have 
the place of the executioner. Our wills would be the supreme and 
chief reason of all things. But this God cannot endure ; therefore beg 
him to do good, but according to his own good pleasure. 

1. Let us submit to God for the mercy itself, in what kind we shall 
have it, whether temporal, spiritual, or eternal. If God see ease good 
for us, we shall have it , if deliverance good for us, we shall have it, 
Ps. cxxviii. 2 ; or give us strength in our souls, or hasten our glory. 
We should be as a die in the hand of providence, to be cast high or 
low, as God pleaseth : 1 Sam. iii. 18, 'It is the Lord ; let him do what 
seemeth him good.' 

2. Let us submit for the time. Though Jesus loved Lazarus, yet 
he abode still two days in the same place when he heard he was sick, 
John xi. 6. It is not for want of love if he doth not help us presently, 
nor want of power. Christ may dearly love us, yet delay to help us, 
even in extremity, till a fit time -come, wherein his glory may shine 
forth, and the mercy be more conspicuous. He doth not slight us, 
though he doth delay us ; he will choose that time which maketh 
most for his own glory. Submit to God's dispensations, and in due 
time you shall see a reason of them. 

3. Let us submit for the way and means. We know not what God 
is a-doirig : John xiii. 6, 7, * Then cometh he to Simon Peter, and 
Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus an 
swered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not, but thou 
slialt know hereafter.' No wonder we are .much in the dark, if we 
consider, first, that the worker of these works is ' Wonderful in 
counsel and excellent in working/ Isa. xxviii. 29 ; infinitely beyond 
politicians, whose projects and purposes are often hidden from us ; 
therefore much more his. Secondly, That the ways of his working 
are very strange and imperceptible, for he maketh tilings out of 
nothing: Bom. iv. 17, 'And calleth those things that be not as 
though they were ;' one contrary out of another, as light out of dark 
ness, 2 Cor. iv. 6, meat out of the eater, enemies catched in their own 
snare. Thirdly, That his end in working is not to satisfy our sense 
and curiosity : Isa. xlviii. 7, ' They are created now, and not from the 
beginning, even before the day when thou heardest them not, lest thou 
shouldest say, Behold, I knew them;' Isa. xlii. 16, 'I will bring the 
blind by a way they knew not ; I will lead them' in paths that they 
have not known.' He chooseth such a way as may leave enemies to 
harden their hearts ; Micah iv. 12, ' But they know not the thoughts 
of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel; for he shall gather 
them as the sheaves into the floor.' 

VER. 122.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 259 

Secondly, I now come to the literal explanation; and there we 

1. The evil deprecated, oppress me. 

2. The persons likely to inflict it, the proud. 

First, The evil deprecated, ' Let not the proud oppress me.' The 
Septuagint, ///?; a-VKo^avrrjadrwadv fj,e VTreptjcfravoi, let them not calum 
niate me. The Septuagint takes this word for oppression or violent 
injustice, and therein are followed hy St Luke iii. 14, xix. 8. 

Doct. Oppression is a very grievous evil, and often deprecated by 
the people of God. 

1. I shall show you what oppression is. It is an abuse of power to 
unjust and uncharitable actions. That it is an abuse of power 
appeareth by the object of it, who are those that are usually oppressed; 
that is, either the poor and needy : Deut. xxiv. 14, ' Thou shalt not 
oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy 
brethren, or of the strangers within thy gates.' The fatherless and the 
widow are mentioned : Jer. vii. 6, ' Ye shall not oppress the stranger, 
the fatherless, and the widow.' The stranger: Zech. vii. 10, 'And 
oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor ;' 
and Exod. xxii. 21-23, ' Thou shalt neither vex a stranger nor oppress 
him, for ye were strangers in the land of Esrypt. Ye shall not afflict 
any widow, or fatherless child ; if thou afflict them in any wise, and 
they cry at all to me, 1 will surely hear their cry/ 

2. The subject or agent by whom it is practised (1.) ' The proud ;' 
the mighty, rich, great man ; at least comparatively, in regard to the 
wronged party: Eccles. iv. 1, 'And on the side of their oppressors 
there was power, but the oppressed had no comforter;' Job xxxv. 9, 
' By reason of the multitude of oppressors they make the oppressed cry, 
and by reason of the arm of the mighty.' (2.) The base and mean, 
when they get power into their hands, to oppress the rich, noble, and 
honourable : Isa. iii. 5, ' And the people shall be oppressed, every one 
by another, and every one by his neighour ; the child shall behave 
himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honour 
able.' It is commonly more insolent and cruel and contemptuous and 
despiteful : Prov. xxviii. 3, ' A poor man that oppresseth the poor is 
like a sweeping rain that leaveth no food.' When men do unjust and 
uncharitable actions, as when men bear it proudly or insolently towards 
them, throwing them out of their riches, denying them the liberty of 
their service because it is in the power of their hands, or taking advan 
tage of their low condition to run over them, or making an advantage 
of their necessity and want of skill : Hosea xii. 7, * He is a merchant^ 
the balance of deceit is in his hand ; he loveth to oppress :' or prejudice 
their testimony to the truth by our credit and esteem in the church, 
rendering them so weak or wicked, factious or foolish, as not to b? 

3. This is a grievous evil ; it is so in itself, and may be specially 
aggravated as to cases. 

[1 ] It is grievous in itself, as it is so odious to God, as being a 
perversion of the end of his providence. Those that excel in any 
quality are appointed for the protection and support of the weak and 
indigent. God gave them their wealth and parts and power and credit 


and greatness, to the end Ilioy might comfort, counsel, defend, and do 
good to those that want these things. Now when they make no oilier 
use of their power than lions and bears do, l<> mischief others by it, 
they do evil because it is in the power of their hands, Micali ii. 1. 
Power, if men h;ive not a great l mli i ness of conscience and fear of 
God. JMM.ii unwieldy wilful thing, degenerates into oppression: Isa, x. 
14, 15, ' There, was none that moved the wing, or opened the month, 
Or p'-rp.-d. Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth 
theiewilh? or shall the saw magnify itself against him that 
shaketh it? as if the rod should shake itself against, them that lift 
it up, or as if the staff should lift up itself as if it were no wood.' 
Therefore he went on to oppress and tyrannise in the world, because 
none durst to oppose him. Power needs much balance to temper and 
alhiy it. 

[2.] It is so offensive to his people, and burthensome to them : 
Eccles. vii. 7, 'Oppression maketh a wise man mad;' it shaketh and 
discomposeth those of the best temper, makes them pray and weep. 
and cry before the Lord: Eccles. iv. 1, ' So I returned and considered 
all the oppressions under the sun, and beheld the tears of such as are 
oppressed.' When you lay such heavy loads upon them that they are 
not able to bear it, but cry to God to right them. 

[3.] The evil itself, oppression. It is not only theft, but murder. 
These expressions we have: Isa. iii. 13, 14, 'Ye have eaten up the 
vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses. What mean ye. 
that ye beat my people to pieces, and grind the faces of the poor ? 
l hat is, cause them by your hard usage to pine away? So Mieah iii. 
1-3, ' And I said, Hear, I pray you, heads of Jacob, and ye princes 
of the house of Israel, is it not for you to know judgment, who hate 
the good, and love the evil, who pluck off their skin and their tlesh 
from "off their bones ? who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay 
their skin from off them, and they break their bones, and chop them 
in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the cauldron?' It is in 
God's account human butchery and murder, beyond simple slaughter, 
as they make them die a lingering death. 

[4.] It is especially aggravated if they be God's servants oppressed 
for religion : Ps. xii. 5, * For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing 
of the needy ; now will 1 arise, saith the Lord, 1 will set, them in safety, 
from him that puffelh at him.' The proud persecutor doth little think 
of the godly, that any power he hath can do anything to help him; 
therefore mocketh at all his hopes: therefore, when God hath exer 
cised the godly for a while, he will arise, Ac. I say the sin is aggra 
vated by the innocency, the holiness, the usefulness of the party 
oppressed, when titled to glorify God, and do service to the public, and 
disabled to the prejudice of both. 

1 5. | It is the highest impiety to fetch power and advantage from 
any ordinance of God to commit it: John xix. 10, 11, 'Then said 
Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? .K no west- thou not that 
1 have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee ? Jesus 
answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it 
were given thee from above 1 ; therefore he that delivered me unto thee 
hath the greater sin/ Courts of justice, that should be sanctuaries 

VEH. 122.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 261 

and places of refuge to oppressed innocency, they make slaughter 
houses and shops of cruelty. When pretexts of laws and justice are 
used to colour the oppression and persecution of innocent useful per 
sons, this makes it more odious in the sight of God. 

Use 1. 01), pity the oppressed ! Job vi. 14, ' To him that is afflicted, 
pity should he showed from his friend ; hut he forsaketh the fear of 
the Almighty.' The men of Kcilah thought of delivering up David, 
because they feared not God, 1 Sam. xxiii. 11, 12. But men have no 
fear of God, but too much fear of men. When God is angry, God will 
suffer none to help : Ps. Ixxxviii. 18, ' Lover and friend hast thou put 
far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness;'. Job xii. 5, ' He 
that is ready to slip with his feet is as a lamp despised in the thought 
of him that is at ease/ Sensuality will make us forget the afflictions 
of others : Amos vi. 4-6, ' They lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch 
themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and 
calves out of the midst of the stall ; that chaunt to the sound of the 
viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music like David; that 
drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments, 
but they are not grieved for the afflictions of Joseph.' Scruples of 
conscience through difference in religion : John iv. 9, ' How is it that 
thou, being a Jew, askest water of me?' Therefore we should pity 
others ; we have God's example : 2 Cor. vii. 6, ' God that comforteth 
those that are cast down.' 

Use 2. Keep from oppression ; let us be far from this sin. Samuel 
professeth his innocency: 1 Sam. xii. 3, 4, 'Behold here I am, 
witness against me before the Lord and his anointed : whose ox have 
I taken ? or whose ass have I taken ? or whom have I defrauded ? 
whom have I oppressed ? or of whose hand have I received a bribe to 
blind mine eyes therewith ? And they said, Thou hast not defrauded 
uor oppressed us.' 


1. God will right the wrongs of the oppressed : Prov. xxii. 22, 23, 
' Rob not the poor, because he is poor, neither oppress the afflicted in 
the gate ; for the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those 
that spoiled them ;' Prov. xxiii. 11, 'For their redeemer is mighty, he 
shall plead their cause with thee.' It belongeth to him as supreme 
judge and mighty potentate : Eccles. v. 8, ' If thou seest the oppression 
of the poof, and violent perverting of judgment and justice in a pro 
vince, marvel not at the matter, for he that is higher than the highest 
regardeth, and there be higher than they/ Who can break the power 
of the greatest ? The poor and indigent have none to own them, to 
resent the things done unto them, but God, who is the supreme Lord, 
will not fail to own them. 

2. Consider the injustice of such dealing, as being contrary to that 
rule of reason, Quod tibi non vis fieri, alferi ne feceris. Every man 
should do as he would have others do to him. Put yourself in their 
case. Take this rule quite away, and there is nothing so false, bad, 
cruel, that you would not be drawn to think or say or do against your 
brother. Uncharitableness, and want of sympathy with us in our 
troubles, much more insulting over us in our miseries, we look on it 
with detestation ; and shall we oppress and afflict others when we have 


power so to do ? Those that profess themselves Christians should be 
far from this sin. 

1. The fear of God should bear rule in our hearts : Job xxxi. 23, 
' For destruction from God was a terror to me ; and by reason of his 
highness I could not endure ; ' Lev. xxv. 17, * Ye shall not, therefore, 
oppress one another, but thou shalt fear thy God ; for I am the Lord 
your God/ We should be afraid to do them injury, as if a strong party, 
able to repay injuries, were ready to be avenged upon us for it. 

2. Take heed of envy, covetousness, pride, revenge ; these are ill- 
counsellors. Ahab envies JSTaboth's vineyard, and covets it, and that 
put him upon oppressing him. So Hosea xii. 7, ' He is a merchant, 
the balances of deceit are in his hand ; he loveth to oppress/ So take 
heed of pride : Ps. x. 2, ' The wicked in his pride doth persecute the 
poor.' So when persons are of a revengeful temper, it will put them 
upon oppression and persecution for every fancied or supposed affront 
offered to them : the enemy and avenger go together, Ps. viii. 2. 

3. Think of changes, that pride may not be without a curb, nor 
affliction without a comfort. It is the proud oppress, who are drunk 
with their wealth and outward prosperity. The Lord's people are not 
troubled by humble souls, that are sensible of their mutableness and 
frailty, but by those who little think of these things, and how hard it 
fareth with them that fear God. 

Secondly, Here are the persons to inflict it, ' The proud.' 
Doct. The proud are they that especially persecute the godly. 
Who are the proud ? 

1. Generally those that obstinately stand it out against God and the 
methods of his grace: Neh. ix. 16, 'But they and our fathers dealt 
proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not unto thy com 
mandments ;' and ver. 29, ' Yet they dealt proudly, and hearkened not 
to thy commandments ; ' Jer. xiii. 17, ' My soul shall weep in secret 
for your pride.' 

2. More especially those that are too well conceited of themselves, 
seen by their affecting to meddle with things too high for them : Ps. 
cxxxi. 1, ' Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty, neither 
do I exercise myself in great matters, nor in things too high for me.' 
Murmur under crosses, quarrel with providences, finding fault with 
all God's sayings and doings, trust in themselves that they are right 
eous, Luke xviii. 14 ; scoff at others for their godliness : Ps. cxix. 51, 
the proud ' had me greatly in derision ; ' Ps. x. 2, ' The wicked in his 
pride doth persecute the poor/ ready to brawl on all occasions ; Prov. 
xxiii. 10, * Only by pride cometh contention;' would have all to stoop 
to them, are stiff in their opinions, boasters, lessening the gifts of 
others, impatient of admonition. 

3. The particular pride here mentioned, when men are high-minded, 
and trust in uncertain riches, drunk with their prosperity. So oppress 
ing in their honour and greatness, as if they would trample all others 
under foot, and crush them at pleasure. These are merciless and 
pitiless, disdain the poor, whatsoever presence of God they have with 
them ; we are filled with the scorning of them that are at ease. 

VER. 123.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 263 


Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteous- 
ness. VER. 123. 

IN the former verse, David spake as one under oppression, here he setteth 
forth his longing and waiting for deliverance. In the words we have 

1. The act of faith, together with the object of it ; his eyes were to 
the salvation of God. 

2. The defect and weakness of his faith, and God's delay, implied in 
the occasion of it, ' Mine eyes fail.' 

3. The ground and support of his soul in this exercise, i The word 
of thy righteousness.' 

By salvation is meant temporal deliverance: his eyes were to his 
salvation ; that is, he did with faith and patience wait for it. Bat in 
waiting, his eyes failed ; that noteth some deficiency and weakness, 
but his support during all this was the word of God's righteousness ; 
that word wherein God promised salvation and deliverance to them 
that are oppressed. And he calleth it the word of his righteousness, 
because he is one that kept it justly and faithfully ; as if he had said, 
Surely God is righteous, and is no more liberal in promises than faith 
ful in performing, therefore, though mine eyes even fail, yet I will keep 
looking and longing still for his salvation. 

I begin with the ground of his faith, and the support of his soul, 
which is the word of promise. 

Doct. That God's word, wherein he hath promised deliverance to his 
suffering servants, is a word of, righteousness. 

There are three things in the promise Veritas, fidelitas, justitia, 
fidelity, faithfulness, and righteousness. 

1. Veritas, sincerity or truth in making the promise, according to 
which God doth really intend and mean to bestow what he promiseth; 
'For God is not as man, that he should lie ; neither the son of man, 
that he should repent : hath he said, and shall he not do it ? or hath he 
spoken, and shall he not make it good ? ' To lie is to speak a false 
hood with an intention to deceive ; this cannot be imagined of God. 
What need hath he to court a worm, or to mock and flatter us into a 
vain hope ? What interest can accrue to him thereby ? Yea, the 
purity of his nature will not permit it: Titus i. 2, ' According to the 
hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the 
world began.' He will as soon cease to be God as cease to be true, for 
his truth is his nature, he is truth itself. Man, that is mutable, and 
hath an interest to promote by dissembling, may put on a false appear 
ance, and speak what he never meaneth ; but God cannot do so, for he 
is truth itself, essentially so in the abstract, can admit of no mixture, 
though creatures may. Light itself adrnitteth not of any darkness, but 
as it is in subjects, so it doth. But God is truth, and in him is no 
falsehood at all. Now, of all lies, a promissory lie is the worst ; it is 
greater than an assertory lie. An assertory lie is when we speak of a 
thing past or present otherwise than it is. A promissory lie is when 
we promise a thing for time to come, which we never intend to perform. 


And this is the worse, because it doth not only pervert the end of speech, 
but defeateth another of that right which we seem to give him, in the 
thing promised ; which is a further degree of injustice. Therefore 
we must take heed how, either directly or interpretatively, we ascribe 
such a lie to God. The apostle telletli us, 1 John v. 10, 'He that be- 
lieveth not, maketh God a liar ; ' which is the highest dishonour you 
can cast upon him, which in manners and civility we would not offer 
to our equal, and which even a mean man would scorn to put up with 
at our hands. God hath made many promises, as that he will be with 
tluee in six troubles, and in seven he will not forsake thee, Job. v. 19 ; 
that he will dispose of all things for the best to them that love him, 
Kom. viii. 28 ; that no good thing shall be wanting to them that fear 
him, Ps. xxxiv. 10. Doth not God mean as he saith ? and dare we 
trust him no more? Your diffidence and drooping discouragements 
give him the lie, and you carry it so as if these were but words of course, 
without any intent to make them good. 

2. Fidelitas. The next thing in the promise is faithfulness, and 
that referreth to the keeping of the promise. A man may be real in 
promising, he did not intend to deceive : but afterwards lie changeth 
his mind : there may be verity in making the promise, but there is 
not fidelity in keeping the promise. But God is faithful ; hath he 
said, and shall he not do it ? All the promises are * Yea and Amen ' 
in Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. i. 20. God's word is not ; Yea and Nay,' but 
' Yea and Amen ; ' it doth riot say Yea to-day, and Nay to-morrow, 
but always Yea. So it is Amen, so it shall be ; and this in Jesus 
Christ, on whose merit they are all founded, and who was the great 
instance of God's truth : for the great promise wherein God stood 
bound to the church was to send a Saviour to redeem the world ; 
and if God hath made good this promise, surely this is a pledge thnt 
he will make good all the rest; for if he spared not his Son, he will 
not stick at other things. 

3. There is justitia, righteousness ; for this is righteousness, jus 
suum cuique tribuere, to give every one his right and his due. Now 
by promise, another man cometh to have a right in the thing pro 
mised ; therefore justice requireth that you should give him the right 
that accrueth to him by virtue of your promise. So God, promittendo 
se fecit debilorem, maketh himself a debtor by promise. It was his 
mercy and goodness to make the promise, but his justice bindeth him 
to make it good. This is often spoken of in scripture : 1 John i. 9, 
' Faithful and just to forgive us our sins ; ' 2 Tim. iv. 8, ' Henceforth 
there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the 
righteous judge, shall give me at that day/ By his promise he is be 
come a debtor to us ; he cannot go against his own word ; his justice 
will not suffer him to change. It is a debt of grace indeed, but a 
debt it is which it is justice for God to pay. Thus you see how it is 
a word of righteousness. 

Reason 1. Because God hath in his promises pawned his truth with 
the creature, and so given us an holdfast upon him. Chirograplia 
tua injiciebat tibi Domine. Promises, as in a contract, are more than 
simple declarations, and bare assertions of what good he will do to us. 
With man it is one thing to say, This I purpose to do ; another, This 

VER. 123.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 265 

I promise to do. A promise addeth a new bond and obligation upon 
a man for fulfilling his word. An intimation or signification of God's 
will and purpose showeth the event will follow ; but a promise doth 
riot only do that, but giveth us a right and claim to the things pro 
mised. Scripture prophecies will be fulfilled because of God's 
veracity ; but scripture promises will be fulfilled, not because of his 
veracity, but his fidelity and justice. And the ' heirs of promise may 
have strong consolation by God's word and oath ' * two immutable 
things, wherein it is impossible for God to lie,' Heb. vi. 18. There is 
a greater obligation upon God to make it good. 

Reason 2. Because none that ever depended upon God's word were 
disappointed ; not one instance to the contrary : Ps. xviii. 30, ' The 
word of the Lord is tried ; he is a buckler to all that trust in him/ 
Search the annals and records of time, and' all experience hath found 
the word of God exactly true. If any build not upon it, it is because 
they are not acquainted with God, and the course of his proceedings : 
Ps. ix. 10, ' They that know thy name will trust in thee/ There is so 
little believing and trusting God upon his word, because they are men 
of no experience ; otherwise they would find God punctual to his 
promise : * Not one thing hath failed of all the good things the Lord 
your God spake concerning you/ Josh, xxiii. 14. He speaketh not 
only as his own observation, and the result of all his experiences, and 
that in a time when there was no room for dissembling : ' I go the way 
of all the earth,' but also ' you know in all your hearts, and all your 
souls ; ' and he repeateth it, ' Not one tiling hath failed/ Unless you 
be impudent, you cannot deny it ; try him, you have found support 
and relief hitherto. 

Reason 3. Because God standeth much on the credit of his word. 
Heathens have acknowledged it to be the property of the gods, 
a\yOeveiv KOI evepyerelv ; certainly the true God hath showed himself 
to the world in nothing so much as doing good and keeping promise : 
Ps. cxxxviii. 2, * Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name,' 
above all that is famed or spoken or believed of God, this is most con 
spicuous, as being punctual in keeping covenant and fulfilling pro 
mises. God hath ever stood upon that, of being tender of the honour 
of his truth in the eye of the world : therefore we should build securely 
upon the word of his righteousness. 

Use 1. To bless God that we are upon such sure terms. All people 
that know there is a God, wait for some good things from him ; but 
they are left to uncertain guesses, it may be they may have them, it 
may be not : but we have it under hand and seal, and have God's 
warrant for our hope, and so deal with God upon sure terms. Well 
may we take up David's song, ' In God I will praise his word, in the 
Lord I will praise his word/ Ps. Ivi. 10. It is twice repeated in that 
psalm : that is ground of rejoicing, that God will assure us aforehand 
what he will do for us. God might have dealt with man by way of 
dominion and command alone, without any signification of his good 
ness, and left us to blind guesses. Promises are the eruptions and 
overflows of God's love, he cannot stay till accomplishment, but will 
tell us aforehand what he is about to do for us, that we may know 
how to look for it. 


Use 2. To exhort us to rest contented with God's word, and to take 
his promises as sure ground of hope. I shall show you how you should 
count it a word of righteousness ; what is your duty ; and that first 
you are to delight in the promise, though the performance be not yet, 
nor like to he for a good while: Heb.xi. 1 3, TreiaOevres KOI aaTraa-dpevoi, 
being persuaded of them, they embraced them. Oh ! how they hugged 
the promises at a distance, and said in their hearts, Oh, blessed pro 
mise ! this will in time yield a Messiah : John viii. 56, ' Your father 
Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and saw it, and was glad/ You 
hold the blessing by the root, this will in time yield deliverance, 
Heb. vi. 18 ; not only yield comfort, but prove comfortable : Ps. cxix. 
Ill, 'Thy testimonies I have taken for an heritage; for they are the 
rejoicing of my heart/ For your duty 

2. You are to rest confident of the truth of what God hath pro 
mised, and be assured that the performance will in time be : Treia-Oevres, 
Heb. xi. 13. Faith is not a fallible conjecture, but a sure and certain 
grace : Rom. viii. 28, * We know that all things shall work together 
for good to them that love God.' So Ps. cxl 12, ' I know that God 
will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.' 
There is a firm persuasion ; I know I shall find this to be a truth. 
Men who are conscionable and faithful in keeping their word are 
believed ; yet, being men, they may lie : Rom. iii. 4, ' Let God be true, 
and every man a liar.' Every man is, or may be a liar, because of the 
mutableness of his nature ; from interest he will not lie, but he can 
lie. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is 
greater. Surely God cannot deceive, or be deceived. He never yet 
was worse than his word. 

3. You are to take the naked promise for the ground of your hope, 
however it seem to be contradicted in the course of God's providence ; 
when it is neither performed, nor likely to be performed, it is his word 
you go by, whatsoever his dispensations be. Many times there are no 
apparent evidences of God's doing what he hath said, yea, strong pro 
babilities to the contrary. It is said, Rom. iv. 18, ' That Abraham 
against hope believed in hope,' Trap e\Tri8a eV e'X-TrtSi. Abraham had 
the promise of a son, in whom all the nations of the earth should be 
blessed ; but there was no appearance of this in nature, or natural hope 
of a child, both he and Sarah being old : yet he believed. It is an 
antanaclasis, an elegant figure, having the form of a contradiction 
he goeth upon God's naked word. Then faith standeth upon its owa 
basis and legs, which is not probabilities, but his word of promise, 
Everything is strongest upon its own basis, which God and nature 
have appointed. For as the earth hangeth on nothing in the midst 
of the air, but there is its place, faith is seated most firmly on the 
word of God, who is able to perform what he saith. 

4. This faith must conquer our fears and cares and troubles : Ps. 
cxii. 7, ' He shall not be afraid of evil tidings ; his heart is fixed, 
trusting in the Lord.' He must fix the heart without wavering : Ps. 
Ivi. 4, ' In God I will praise his word, in God have I put my trust : I 
will not fear what man can do unto rue.' The force of faith is seen in 
calming our passions and sinful fears, which otherwise would weaken 
our reverence and respect to God. 

VER. 123.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 267 

5. Above all this, you are to glorify God publicl} 7 ; not only in the 
quiet of your hearts, but by your carriage before others : John iii. 33, 
4 Put to his seal that God is true.' It is not said, Believed or professed, 
but, Put to his seal. We seal the truth of God as his witnesses when 
we confirm others in the faith and belief of the promises by our joy- 
fulness in all conditions, patience under crosses, diligence in holiness, 
hope and comfort in great straits. Num. xx. 12, God was angry 
with Moses and Aaron, because ye ' believe not, to sanctify me in the 
eyes of the children of Israel/ We are not only to believe God our 
selves, but to sanctify him in the eyes of others ; as when the Thessalo- 
nians had received the word in much assurance, in much affliction, 
and much joy in the Holy Ghost, the apostle telleth them they were 
examples to all that believed in Achaia and Macedonia, 1 Thes. i. 5. 
The worthiness and generousness of our faith should be a confutation 
of our base fears, but a confirmation of the gospel. But we are so far 
from confirming the weak, that we offend the strong ; and instead of 
being a confirmation to the gospel, we are a confutation of it. 

Use 3. Reproof to us that we do no more build upon this word of 

1. Some count these vain words, and the comforts thence deduced 
fanatical illusions ; and hopes and joys, fantastical impressions : Ps. 
xxii. 7, 8, ' All they that see me laugh me to scorn ; they shoot out the 
lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he 
would deliver him : let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.' 
Nothing so ridiculous in the world's eye as trust or dependence or 
unseen comforts. Ungodly wits make the life of faith a sport and 
matter of laughter. 

2. Some, though not so bad as the former, they may have more 
modesty, yet as little faith, since they are all for the present world, 
present delights, present temptations. With many, one thing in hand 
is more than the greatest promises of better things to corne, 2 Tim. iv. 
10; they have no patience. Afflictions are smart for the present: 
Heb. xii. 11, 'No affliction for the present seerneth joyous, but grie 
vous.' Yea, they do not deal equally with God and man. If a man 
promise, they reckon much of that, Qui petat, accipiet, &c. They can 
tarry upon man's security, but count God's nothing worth. They can 
trade with a factor beyond seas, and trust all their estates in a man's 
hand whom they have never seen ; and yet the- word of the infallible 
God is of little regard and respect with them. 

3. The best build too weakly on the promises, as appeareth by the 
prevalency of our cares and fears. If we did take God at his word, 
we would not be so soon mated with every difficulty : Heb. xiii 5, 6, 
' Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with 
such things as you have ; for he hath said, I will never leave thee nor 
forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper ; I 
will not fear what man can do unto me.' There would be more reso 
lution in trials, more hardness against troubles. Besides maintenance, 
there is protection in the promise. If we had faith to believe this, it 
would effectually quiet our minds in all our necessities and straits and 
perplexities. Man can do much, bring them low, even to a morsel of 
bread. We need not much desire the best things of the world, nor 


fear the worst; need not be covetous, nor fearful. Where faith is in 
any life and strength, it moderateth our desires and fears. It is an ill 
part of a believer to hang the head. 

Secondly, From that clause, David's eyes were to God's salvation, 
that God's word being passed his people do and must wait for the 
accomplishment of it. The lifting up of the eyes implies three things 
faith, hope, and patience ; all which do make up the duty of waiting 
for help and relief from God. 

1. The lifting up the eyes implies faith and confident persuasion 
that God is ready and willing to help us: 2 Chron. xx. 12, 'But our 
eyes are unto thee ;' Ps. cxxiii. 1, 2, ' Unto thee I lift mine eyes, 
thou that dwellest in the heavens.' The very lifting up of the bodily 
eye towards heaven is an expression of this inward trust : so David in 
eifect saith, From thee, Lord, I expect relief, and the fulfilling of thy 
promises. So that there is faith in it, that faith which is the evidence 
of things not seen. How great soever the darkness of our calamities 
be, though the clouds of present troubles thicken about us, and hide 
the Lord's care and loving-kindness from us, yet faith must look 
through all to his power and constancy of truth and love. The eye of 
faith is a clear, piercing, eagle eye : Heb. xi. 27, * Moses endured, as 
seeing him that was invisible.' A man is very short-sighted before : 
2 Peter i. 9, ' He that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see 
afar off;' can only skill in the things of sense and reason, see a danger 
near him, as beasts or a bait while it is before him ; a brute thinketh 
of no other; or else goeth by probabilities, as it seeth things by the 
light of reason in their causes. But faith seeth things afar off in the 
promises, Heb. xi. 13, at a greater distance than the eye of nature can 
reach to. Take it either for the eye of the body, or the mind, faith 
will draw comfort not only from what is invisible at present, but not 
to come for a long time ; it is future as well as invisible ; its supports 
lie iii the other world, and are yet to come. 

2. There is hope in it ; for what a man hopeth for he will look for 
it, if he. can see it a-coming: * the earnest expectation of the creature/ 
aTToicapaSoKia r/)? tfT/jeco?, Rom. viii. 19 ; the stretching forth of the 
head: Judges v. 28, 'They looked out at the window, and cried 
through the lattice, Why is his chariot so long a-coming ? ' So by 
spiritual hope there is a lifting up of the eyes, or a looking out for 
what God hath promised, or an intent observing all together : ' Our 
conversation is in heaven, from whence we look for a Saviour,' Phil, 
iii. 20. Faith keepeth the eye of the mind fixed upon the promise, 
and is ever looking out for deliverance : Ps. cxxi. 1, 2, ' I will lift up 
mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help : my help cometh 
from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.' Thence they look and 
wait for succour; it must come out of heaven to them. They see it, 
they can spy a cloud a-coming ; that which a man careth not for he 
doth not look for. David saith, ' I will pray and look up/ Ps. v. 3. 
Hope hath expectation of the thing or object hoped for. 

3. There is patience in it, in persevering and keeping on our looking 
till mercy come, with faith and ardency in expecting God's help. 
Looking and waiting is to be conjoined, notwithstanding difficulties, 
till it procure deliverance : Ps. cxxiii. 2. ' Our eyes wait on the Lord, 

VER. 123.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 269 

who will have mercy on us/ This lifting up of the eyes doth not 
imply a glance, or once looking to heaven; but that we keep looking 
till God cloth help : Isa. viii. 17, ' I will wait on the Lord, that hideth 
his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him/ There is a 
constant depending, and patient attending upon God, notwithstanding 
the present tokens of his wrath and displeasure. As a man with- 
draweth himself from a party, and will not be seen of him, nor spoken 
to by him, but the resolute suitor tarrieth to meet and speak with him. 
So Micah vii. 7, ' Therefore I will look unto the Lord, I will wait for 
the God of my salvation: my God will hear me/ Not give over 
upon every discouragement, as a merchant doth not discontinue trad 
ing for every loss at sea. Certainly it is not faith and hope, unless we 
can endure and bear out. Natural courage will bear out for a while, 
but not long. A little touch breaketh a bubble, and a slight natural 
expectation is soon discouraged ; but to hope against hope, to pray 
when God forbids praying, to keep waiting when we have not only 
difficulties in the world, but seeming disappointments from heaven 
itself, when the promise and Christ seem to be parting from you, and 
refuse you ; yet then to say, I will not let thee go until thou bless me, 
as Jacob said to the angel, Gen. xxxii. 25, 26, when God saith, Let me 

Use. Let us turn ourselves towards God for help, and have our eyes 
on him, and keep them there: Ps. cxli. 8, 'But mine eyes are unto 
thee, God the Lord ; in thee is my trust ; leave not my soul desti 
tute/ Let us not give way to discouragements, though God delay us 
so long till all our carnal provisions are spent, no meal in the barrel, 
nor oil in the cruse, and we are brought to the last morsel of bread ; 
though brought to complain for pity to them that will show none, but 
pour vinegar into our wounds ; yea, till our spiritual provisions be 
spent. Faith will hold out no longer, hope can do us no service, 
patience lost and clear gone; we fall a-questioning God's love and 
care. I sa} r , though we grow weary, let us strive against it, acquaint 
God with it, renew faith in the word of promise. There is a holy 
obstinacy in believing. 

To get this eye of faith 

1. There is need of the Spirit's enlightening. Nature is short 
sighted, 2 Peter i. 9. A man cannot look into the other world till his 
eyes be opened by the Spirit of God : Eph. i. 17, 18, ' The Father of 
glory give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the know 
ledge of him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that 
ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of 
the glory of his inheritance in the saints/ There needs spiritual eye- 
salve to get this piercing eye to look through the curtain of the clouds. 

2. When your eye is opened, you must keep your eye clear from 
the suffusions of lust and worldly affections. A mortified heart is only 
a fit soil for faith to grow in. The world is a blinding thing, 2 Cor. 
iv. 4. While present things bear bulk in our eye, invisible tilings are 
little regarded by us. Dust cast into the eyes hindereth the sight, 
carnal affections send up the fumes and steams of lust to blind us. 

3. The eye being clear, you must ever be looking up out of the 
world of temptations into the world of comforts and supports, from 


earth to heaven : Heb. xi. 27, ' As seeing him that is invisible ; ' and 
the nothing things of the world, by ornnifying and magnifying God. 
There are the great objects which darken the glory of the world, and 
all created things. And there we see more for us than can be against 
us, 2 Kings vi. 15. Pharaoh, a king of mighty power, was contemp 
tible in Moses' eyes, because he saw a higher and a more glorious king ; 
so glorious, that all the power and princes of the world are nothing 
to him. 

4. The less sensible evidence there is of the object of faith, the 
greater and stronger is the i'aith, if we believe it upon God's word : 
John xx. 29, ' Because thou hast seen, thou hast believed ; blessed are 
they that have not seen, and yet have believed.' It extenuateth our 
faith, when the object must be visible to sense, or it worketh not on us. 
Faith hath more of the nature of faith when it is satisfied with God's 
word, whatever sense and reason say to the contrary : 1 Peter i. 8, 
' Whom, having not seen, ye love ; in whom, though now you see him 
not, you rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. Whatever 
faith closeth with upon sure grounds, it is spiritually present to the 
soul, though few sensible helps. The less we see in the world, the 
more must we believe. To see things to come as present, and to see 
things that otherwise cannot be seen, cometh near to God's vision of 
all things. God saw all things before they were, all things that may 
be, shall be, visione simplicis intelligentice ; Prov. viii. 31, * Rejoicing 
in the habitable parts of the earth/ So doth faith eye all things in 
the all-sufficiency and promise of God, long before they come to pass, 
and affects the believer with them, John viii. 52. 

Thirdly, From the weakness and imbecillity confessed, ' Mine eyes 
fail.' The doctrine is 

Doct. That sometimes God's people wait so long, that their eyes 
even fail in waiting ; that is, their faith, hope, and patience is almost 
spent, and they are ready to give over looking. 

For the phrase intimateth two things a trial on God's part, and a 
weakness on ours. First, a trial by reason of God's dispensations. 
Two things make our waiting tedious the sharpness of afflictions, 
and the length of them, long delays of help and great trouble, in the 
mean time. First, the depth of the calamity, or the sharpness of the 
trial may occasion this failing : Ps. xxxviii. 10, ' My heart panteth, 
my strength failetli me, for the light of mine eyes is also gone.' 
Secondly, the length of troubles, or the protraction of deliverance. As 
the. bodily eye is- tired with long looking, so doth the soul begin to be 
weary, when this expectation is drawn out at length : Ps. cxix. 82, 
'Mine eyes fail for thy word, saying, When wilt thou comfort me?' 
The delay is tedious. 

As to the matter of this failing, there are three things: 

[1.] That the sufferings of God's .children may be sometimes long. 
God ordereth it so, that faith, hope, and patience may have its perfect 
work, Heb. vi. 12. There is an intervening time between the promise 
and the accomplishment. Intervening difficulties, James i. 3, 4 ; 
Rom. viii. 24, ' Hope that is seen is not hope ;' it is but natural- pro 
bability, natural courage. Those that have received a great measure 
of faith have a great measure of trials ; their troubles are greater that 

VEU. 123.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 271 

their graces may be the more exercised, that many stubborn humours 
may be broken, Jer. iv. 3. God useth to suffer his enemies to break 
up the fallow ground of his people: Ps. cxxix. 2, ' The plowers plough 
upon my back, they make long their furrows.' We have proud and 
stiff hearts, therefore the plough of persecution goeth deep, that the seed 
of the word may thrive the more ; till they have done their work, God 
doth not cut asunder the cords. The Lord of the soil experts a richer 
crop. The power of the Spirit is more seen: Col. i. 10, 11, 
'Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all 
patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.' Not only patience, but 
long-suffering, which is patience extended under continued troubles. 
Men may fret ; it is not unwilling, extorted by force ; but they are 
cheerful under the cross. The length of sufferings ; some can endure 
a sharp brunt, but tire under a long affliction. Some go drooping and 
heavily under it ; therefore joyfulness. For these and many other 
reasons doth God permit our sufferings to be long. 

[2.] Why faith, hope, and patience are apt to fail. 

(1.) Because these graces are weak in the best, and may fail under 
long and sharp trials : Ps. cxxv. 3, ' For the rod of the wicked shall 
not rest upon the lot of the righteous, lest the righteous put forth their 
hands to iniquity.' The strongest believer may i'aint in trouble, there 
fore God will not try them above their strength ; but as he sometimes 
giveth more grace, so sometimes he abateth the temptations. Grace 
is not so perfect in any as to be above all weakening by assaults. Who 
would have thought that a meek Moses could be angry ? Ps. cvi. 33. 
There are relics of sin unmortified, such as may be awakened in the 
best. Who would have thought that David should fall into unclean- 
ness, an old experienced man, who had many wives of his own, when 
Joseph, a young man, a captive, resisted an offered occasion? But 
especially do these graces fail in their operation when the temptation 
is more spiritual ; for these are mystical graces, to which nature giveth 
no help, when' things dear to us in the flesh and in the Lord are made 
the matter of the temptation, and set an edge upon it, &c. Sins that 
disturb the order of the present world are not so rife with the saints 
as sins that concern our commerce with God. 

(2.) Because temptations raise strange clouds and mists in the soul, 
that though they grant principles, yet they cannot reconcile provi 
dences with them. As Jer. xii. 1, ' Righteous art thou, Lord, yet 
let me plead with th.ee/ It is not to be questioned, much less doubted 
of, that God is upright and just in his dealings ; yet what mean those 
passages of his providence ? Their thoughts are fearfully imbrangled, 
the minds of the godly are molested : * Wherefore doth the way of the 
wicked prosper ?' So Hab. i. 13. ' Thou art of purer eyes than to 
behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity ; wherefore lookest thou 
upon them that deal treacherously ? and boldest thy tongue, when 
the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he ? ' God 
is pure and holy, they know ; yet how can he bear with the enemy, in 
their treachery and violence against the church ? So brutified are 
they, that they know not how to reconcile his dispensations with his 
nature arid attributes; though they have faith enough to justify God, 
yet atheism enough to question his providence. When the heart is 


over-charged with fears: Ps. Ixxiii. 1, 'Yet God is good to Israel: my 
feet were almost gone, my steps well-nigh slipped.' They hold fast 
the conclusion, ' Yet God is good to Israel ; ' yet cannot maintain it 
against all objections. 

(3.) Carnal affections are hasty and impetuous, and if God give not 
a present satisfaction, they question all his love and care of them : 
Ps. xxxi.. 22: ' I said in my heart, 1 am cut off;' Isa. xlix. 14, 'Zion 
said, The Lord hath forsaken, and my God hath forgotten me ;' Jonah 
ii. 4, ' And he said, I am cast out of thy sight.' So that, did not God 
confute his unbelief by some sudden experience, as in the first instance, 
or the word contain a suitable supply, as in the second, or the principle 
of grace in some measure withstand (' but I will look towards thy holy 
temple'), the soul would be swallowed up in the whirlpool of despair. 
Thus hasty and precipitant are we while we hearken to the voice of 
the flesh. We are apt to count all our troubles God's total desertion 
of us. Such a hasty principle have. we within us, that will hurry us 
to desperate conclusions, as if it were in vain to wait upon God any 
longer. % 

(4.) Mutability in man. What a flush of faith and zeal have we 
at first, as stuffs have a great gloss at first wearing. We lose, as our 
first love, so our first faith : Gal. v. 7, ' Ye did run well ; who did 
hinder you?' There is a great forwardness at first, which abateth 
afterwards ; and men grow remiss, * faint in your minds/ Heb. xii. 3, 
from one degree to another. 

[3.] That this failing is but an infirmity of the saints ; though their 
hope be weak and ready to faint, it is not quite dead. 

(1.) It is an infirmity of the better sort, not like the atheism and 
malignity of the wicked. Some diseases show a good constitution, arid 
seize on none but such. This distemper is not incident to carnal men: 
Isa. xxxviii. 14, ' Mine eyes fail with looking up.' It argueth a 
vehemency in our hope ; they that do not mind things are never 
troubled with such a spiritual disease ; for this failing cannot be but 
where there is vehemency of desire and expectation. Those that 
desire little of the salvation of God's people, feel none of this. 

(2.) There is a difference between them and others ; though they 
have their weaknesses, yet their faith doth not quite expire ; there is 
a twig of righteousness still to trust to ; they are weary of watching, 
but they do not give over waiting ; and sny, as he, 2 Kings vi. 33, 
' What should I wait for the Lord any longer ?' Fainting is one 
thing, and quite dead is another : they strive against the temptation : 
though no end of their difficulties appeareth, they attend still, keep 
looking, though the vigour of the eye be abated by long exercise. 
There is life in the saints, though not that liveliness they could- wish ; 
for they do not fall, and rise no more, and are quite thrown down 
with every blast of a temptation. 

(3.) They confess their weakness to God, as David doth here, 
acquainteth God with it, and so shame themselves out of the tempta 
tion, and beg new strength. It is an excellent way of curing such 
distempers to lay them forth before God in prayer, for he helpeth the 
weak in their conflicts. When we debate dark cases with our own 
'hearts, we entangle ourselves the more. 

VER. 124.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 273 

Use 1. It reproveth our tenderness when we cannot bear a little 
while : * What ! not watch with me one hour ?' Mat. xxvi. 40. David 
kept waiting till his eyes failed. Some their whole voyage is storms ; 
Christ indents with us to take up our cross daily, Luke ix. 22 ; who 
are their lifetime kept under this discipline ; and can we bear no 
check from providence ? We would have all done in an hour or in a 
year, can bear nothing when God calleth us to bear much and long ; 
cannot endure to abate a little of our wonted contentment, when God 
will strip us of all. 

Use 2. Let us provide for long sufferings. All colours will not hold 
as long as the cloth lasts. We need a great deal of grace, because we 
know not how long our great troubles may last. Sometimes sufferings 
are like to be long. First, When the cross maketh little improvement, 
carrieth little conviction with it. While the stubborness of the child 
continueth, the blows are continued. God will withdraw till they 
acknowledge their offence, Hosea v. 15. When we eye instruments, 
and pour our rage upon them ; or instruments are minded, and wo 
hope to be delivered some other way, when we repent not. Secondly, 
When provocations are long : Deut. xxviii. 58, 59, ' If thou wilt not 
observe to do all the words of this law, that is written in this book, 
that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY 
GOD ; then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues 
of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance ; and sore 
sicknesses, and of long continuance.' 


Deal with thy servant according to tliy mercy, and teach me tliy 
statutes. VER. 124. 

IN this verse we have two requests the one general, the other par 
ticular ; wherein he would have the Lord exercise his mercy to him. 
Show thy mercy to me in teaching me thy law. The one respects the 
privilege part of religion, the other the duty part ; the one concerns 
time past, or the pardon of sin already committed, ' Deal with thy 
servant according to thy mercy ;' the other prevention of sin for the 
time to come, that I may perform my duty for the future, ' Teach me 
thy statutes.' Mercy is the ground of his request ; teaching God's 
law the matter of it. He would have this gift bestowed on him 

First branch, ' Deal with thy servant,' &c. Where we have 

3. His relation to God, thy servant. 

2. The terms upon which lie would have God deal with him : Not 
according to my works, but according to thy mercy. 

First, His relation is mentioned either (1.) As a part of his plea, 
as if he had said, Lord, thou art merciful to all, for ' thy tender mercy 
is over all thy works/ Ps. cxlv. 9 ; much more to thy servants : now 
I am thy servant. God's servants have a special claim and interest 
in God; besides his general bounty, they expect his special mercy and 

VOL. viir. s 


favour : Ps. cxvi. 1 6, ' Lord, truly I am thy servant ; I am thy 
servant, and the son of thine handmaid. 1 Clear that, that you are 
some of God's servants once, and then you may the better expect your 
master's bounty. Or, (2.) To show his need of mercy though God's 
servant. Such an emphasis it seemeth to have : Ps. cxliii. 2, ' Enter 
not into judgment with thy servant; 5 -non dicit cum liostibus tuis. 
He doth not say, Enter not into judgment with thine enemy, but with 
thy servant So here David, that was God's servant, a man of singular 
holiness, desireth that God would deal with him in mercy. From 
first to last, the saints have no other plea. Theodoret, on the text, 
observeth. o rocraur?;? aperrj^ epyaTrjs eXeou? TV%eli>, &C. SO great a 
worker of righteousness beggeth to receive mercy, and looketh for all 
his salvation by mercy. And again, OVK cnranel pi<r6ov a\\a <f)i\av- 
Opwjriav alrel he doth not challenge a reward, but asketh favour and 

Doct. That God's best servants have no other and no better plea 
than that God would deal with them in mercy. 

1. Because there is and can be no merit on the creature's part 
towards God, according to the rule of justice. Adam in innocency 
could impetrare, not mereri ; it was his grace to covenant with the 
creature, when innocency and purity did adorn our nature ; how much 
more since the fall, and the distance between God and us hath been 
so widened by sin ! What merits must be indebitum and utile. It 
must be indebitum : when our righteousness was perfect, yet still due 
by virtue of our relation to God as creatures ; and paying of debts 
deserveth no reward. The lawyers tell us, Nemo consequitur prcc- 
mium, quod facit ex qfficio debitum. We are bound, and do but our 
duty ; but God is not bound to us. All that the creature hath and 
is, and can do, it oweth to God, and hath received it from him ; and 
God is in such a degree of excellency above us that he cannot be 
obliged. Where there is so great a disparity of nature and being, 
there is no common right to make him obnoxious, to make it justice 
to any action of ours to reward us. Aristotle denied children could 
requite their parents, and merit from them, and that the obligation of 
merit is only between equals ; certainly not between God and men. 
There was nothing which bound him necessarily to reward his creature 
but his free covenant. Again, that which merits must be utile, profitable 
to him from whom we challenge reward. If we be never so righteous, 
the benefit is ours, not God's. He is not beholden to us, useth us not 
out of indigence, but indulgence ; not as if he needed anything, but 
we need his blessing : Lukexix. 10, ' When we have done all, we are 
unprofitable servants ; ' and Ps. xvi. 2, ' Our goodness extendeth not 
to thee/ God giveth all, receiveth nothing from us. The beam 
oweth all to the sun, the sun nothing to the beam. 

2. Because since the fall there is no claiming but by the covenant 
of grace and mere mercy. A sinner cannot expect anything but upon 
terms of mercy. The covenant of works supposed us innocent and 
holy, and bound us so to continue, Gal. iii. 20 ; so that the law 
knoweth not how to do good to a sinner. Once a sinner, and for ever 
miserable ; it leaveth no room for repentance. So that now there is 
no hope for the best, according to the rule of strict justice, but only 

VER. 124.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxrx. 275 

according to the law of mercy. In the new covenant there are these 
special differences from the law of works. That there is not only 
grace, but mercy and grace too. In the first covenant there was grace, 
but no mercy. Grace doth all things gratis, freely ; but mercy pitieth 
the miserable : therefore, till sin and misery entered there could be no 
room for mercy. There was grace in that covenant, for it was of 
grace that God did enter into covenant with man at all, and of grace 
that he did accept man's perfect obedience, so as upon performance of 
it to make him sure of eternal life. But now in the new covenant 
God doth show mercy and grace too, and grace in the most rich and 
glorious manner. Mercy and grace too in this way of salvation, in 
that there is hope for a sinner, a plank cast out after shipwreck ; and 
grace in the richest and most glorious manner ; partly for the design, 
and end that was driven at; it was the glory of grace: Eph. i. 6, ' To 
the praise of the glory of his grace ; ' and partly the ground of it was 
founded upon the infinite mercy of God and the infinite merit of 
Christ. The infinite mercy of God : Mercy is the infinite goodness of 
God, flowing out freely to the creature, without any moving cause or 
worth on the creature's part to expect it : Rom. ix. 16, 'It is not of 
him that willeth, nor of him that runneth ; but of God that showeth 
mercy.' And the infinite merit of Christ: Isa. Iv. 3, ' I will make an 
everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David ; ' Isa. 
xlii. 6, ' And give thee for a covenant to the people ; ' and Isa. xlix. 
8, ' I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant to the people.' 
David, that is Christ, the seed of David ; all the mercies of the cove 
nant are exhibited in and by him, in whom the covenant is made with 
us, and made good to us, 2 Cor. i. 20. And he is given for a foun 
dation ; that is, the foundation of a new and better covenant. And 
partly because of the terms wherein it is dispensed, which is not unsin- 
ning obedience, but a sincere owning of Christ, unto the ends for which 
God hath appointed him. So that in effect a thankful acceptance of a 
free discharge is all that we do for paying the debt, or to make way 
for our acceptance with God: Bom. iv. 16, ' Therefore it is of faith, 
that it might be of grace ; to the end the promise might be sure to all 
the seed ;' and Eph. ii. 8, ' Ye are saved by grace through faith, and 
that not of ourselves ; it is the gift of God/ By the grace of faith we 
lay hold upon or apply to ourselves Christ and all his benefits ; and 
that faith God giveth us by his mere grace, not exhibited by any work 
of others. The whole work of salvation, from its first step in regen 
eration to its last step in glorification, doth entirely flow from God's 
free grace, and not from any worth in us. So that this being the 
end, grounds, terms of the new covenant from first to last, mercy doth 
all on which our hope dependeth. We must claim by mercy. 

3. As there is no merit in the best saints, so there is much demerit; 
and as there is nothing to induce God to be good to us, so there is 
much to hinder him, much that standeth in his way ; yet God will do 
us good : Isa. Ivii. 17, 18, ' I have seen his ways, and will heal him ; I 
will lead him also and restore comforts to him.' He taketh motives 
from himself to pity when he might take occasion to punish. There 
are many sins to be forgiven both before and after conversion. Wo 
are not only undeserving, but ill-deserving. It was much that God 


would take us with all our faults, when he first drew us into ac 
quaintance with himself, and intrust us with a stock of grace ; but 
after he hath done that, we still are faulting and sinning : Born. viii. 
1, ' Yet now there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ ; ' 
notwithstanding the relics of corruption, and its breaking out. 

4. From the temper of the saints, their humility. None have such 
a sight and sense of sin as they have, because their eyes are anointed 
with spiritual eyesalve. They have a clearer insight into the law : Jer. 
xxxi. 19, ' After I was instructed I smote upon my thigh.' They are 
enlightened by God's Spirit ; the least mote is espied in a glass of 
clear water. None are so acquainted with their own hearts and ways 
as they who often commune with their own hearts, and use self-reflec 
tion. Others, that live carelessly, do not mind their offences ; but they 
that set themselves do more consider their ways ; none have a more 
tender sense of the heinousness of sin. She loved much, wept much, 
because much was forgiven her, Luke vii. Some are of a more deli 
cate constitution ; the back of a slave is not so sensible of stripes as 
they that have been more tenderly brought up. The beams of the 
sun shining into a house, we see the dust and motes in the sunbeams, 
which we saw not before. They profess as Jacob, I am net worthy of 
all the mercy and truth thou hast showed me. They groan as St 
Paul, '0 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the 
body of this death ? ' 

Use 1. Information. We learn hence that we should not be dis 
couraged, when our hearts are touched with a deep remorse and sense 
of our failings, and are desirous to break off our sins by repentance ; 
that mercy which is freely vouchsafed in the covenant, which all God's 
servants have so often experienced, which the best make their only 
plea and ground of hope, will find out a remedy for us. If you have a 
heart to give up yourselves to God's service, and so to get an interest 
in the promises and blessings of the covenant, you may come and 
sue out this mercy, for God desireth to exalt his grace. God saith, 
' Return to the Lord your God, and I will heal your backslidings, and 
love you freely,' Hosea xiv. It is the delight of grace to do good, not 
withstanding unworthiness. The worst of sins do not hinder God's 
help, are not above his cure. There is hope for such as are convinced, 
and see no worth in themselves why God should do them any good. 
God needs not, will not be hired by the creatures to do it. 

Use 2. How inexcusable those are that reject the offers of grace. 
If they have any liking to the blessings of the covenant, they have no 
ground to quarrel and differ with God about the price : Isa. Iv. i, ' Ho 
every one that thirsteth, let him come to the waters and drink freely, 
without money and without price.' You have no cloak for your sin 
if you will not deal with God upon these terms. Nothing keepeth you 
from him but your own perverse will. 

Use 3. What reason there is the best of God's servants should carry 
it thankfully all their days. From first to last the mercy of God is 
your only plea and claim. No flesh hath cause to glory in his pre 
sence, there being no meritorious cause in the covenant of grace, no 
moving and inducing cause, no co-ordinate working cause : ' Not for 
your sakes do I this/ Ezek. xxxvi. 32 ; and in 1 Cor. vii. 4, it is 

VER. 124.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 277 

said, ' Who maketh thee to differ ? ' We paid nothing for God's love, 
nothing for Christ, the Son of his love, nothing for his Spirit, the fruit 
of his love, nothing for sanctifying grace and faith, the effects of his 
Spirit dwelling and working in our hearts, nothing for pardon ; we 
have all freely; nothing for daily bread, protection, maintenance ; and 
shall pay nothing for glory, when we come to receive it: Jude 21, 
4 Looking for the mercy of God unto eternal life.' It is all without our 
merit, and against merit. We should regard this especially when we 
are apt to say in our hearts, This is for our righteousness ; as Haman 
thought none so fit for honour and preferment as himself, Esther vi. 
6 ; Haman thought so in his heart. So proud-hearted, self-conceited 
sinners say in their hearts, God seeth more in them than in others. 
Alas ! you are not only unworthy of Christ, the Spirit, grace, and 
glory, but the air you breathe in, and the ground you tread upon. 
What did the Lord see in you to judge you meet for such an estate? 
Gen. xxxii. 10, ' I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies, and 
all thy truth.' Did not you slight grace, neglect Christ, as well as 
others ? and doth not sin break out, and make a forfeiture every 
day ? 

Use 4. That we should carry it humbly as well as thankfully. The 
best of God's children should most admire grace arid glorify mercy, 
set the crown on mercy's head. Consider 

1. What was the first rise of all God's love, what set all a-stirring in 
God's bosom, John iii. 16. There was no cause beyond this. In 
other things we may rise higher, from his power and wisdom to his 
love. But why did he love us ? There is no other cause to be given 
he loved us because he loved us. It was love first moved the busi 
ness in the ancient counsel of God's will. God's love is the measure 
of itself. 

2. When he came to apply it, he found us in our blood. It was a 
great mercy that God would take us into his service with all our faults. 
We were his creatures, but quite marred, not as he made us. We 
are not what we were when first his ; as we came out of his hands 
we were pure and holy, but since the fall quite spoiled : Jer. ii. 21, 
' I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed ; how then art 
thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me ? ' 
Strangely changed and altered ! If a servant run from his master, 
and is become altogether blind, deformed, and diseased, will his mas 
ter look after him, or care for him, or take him again ? This was our 

3. What is spoken already is common to others ; you yourselves 
knew what you were, Titus iii. 3. Every man is soundly affected, 
more sensible of his own case, seeth particular reasons why God 
should refuse him ; yet you are as brands plucked out of the burning, 
who did resist such powerful means, such fair advantages ; you dallied 
with God. You know the case of others by guess, your own by feeling. 
You lay not only in the common polluted mass, but had your par 
ticular offences. 

4. When taken in a fault, that God will pity our weakness and 
infirmities in his service : Mai. iii. 17, 'I will spare them as a man 
spareth his son that serveth him ; ' that is, he will continue his favour 


and good-will to them that serve him. So surely they that have a 
conscience, and are privy to their manifold infirmities and failings, 
will admire this. 

5. Though for the main we give up ourselves to live according to 
the will of God, yet consider, notwithstanding our sins, what constant 
humbling considerations there are to keep us sensible of our defects. 
(1.) All that you do is not worthy of God. Who can serve so great 
a majesty as the Lord is, according as he should be served ? Josh, 
xiv. 29, ' You cannot serve the Lord, for he is a holy and a jealous 
God/ Alas ! such is the poverty of human condition, that they can 
never perform service becoming his majesty. Have you a due sense 
of his purity and holiness ? Nay, how jealous he is of the respects of 
his people ! (2.) Not worthy of such a pure law, which requireth 
such perfect service at our hands : Ps. xix. 6-8, ' The law of the 
Lord is perfect, converting the soul,' &c. What doth that speculation 
produce, that a short exposition of the law begetteth a large opinion 
of our own righteousness ? (3.) Not worthy such great hopes : 1 
Thes. ii. 12, ' That ye walk worthy of God, who hath called you to his 
kingdom and glory/ Since we have such great wages we should do 
more work. Is this for heaven ? Is this for eternity ? (4.) Not such 
as will answer our obligations. We are indebted to all the persons of 
the Trinity ; God himself for our portion, Christ our Redeemer, the 
Spirit for our guide and comforter. The Gentiles were greatly obliged 
to God for fruitful seasons. The Jews, though acquainted only with 
God's patience and forbearance, the ceremonial law was a testification 
of guilt, or a bond that showed the creature's debt ; this bond was 
not cancelled. (5.) Not answerable to the new nature in God's chil 
dren ; they would be in a state of perfect conformity and subjection to 
God. A seed worketh through the clods ; so they groan under the 
relics of corruption and sin, Eom. vii. 24, longing for the time when 
they shall be more like God, when they shall serve him without spot 
or blemish ; therefore are unsatisfied with their present imperfections. 
These things considered, we should ever keep humble and thankful, 
praising God's grace : Isa. Ixiii. 7, ' I will mention the loving-kindness 
of the Lord, and the praises of the Lord, according to all that the 
Lord hath bestowed upon us ; and the great goodness towards the 
house of Israel which he hath bestowed on them, according to his 
mercies, and the multitude of his loving-kindnesses/ 

Use 5. Directeth us how to pray. Cast yourselves at God's feet, 
pleading his mercy. We have heard the kings of Israel are merciful 
lungs, 1 Kings xx. 31. You have heard so of the God of Israel ; try 
what mercy will do for you. Say, as David here, ' Deal with thy ser 
vant according to thy mercy/ My prayers have no other foundation of 
hope but thy mercy; I am nothing, and would be nothing, but what I 
have from thee ; I have no merits, but thou hast mercy ; all that I 
have, and expect to have, floweth and must flow from this fountain. 
Take heed of challenging duty as a debt. No, Lord ; thy mercy is 
all my plea ; as all thy servants before have done : Lord, remember 
me in thy mercy ; if any have other things to plead, let them plead ; 
I am resolved to use no other plea : Ps. xiii. 5, ' But I have trusted in 
thy mercy/ 

VER. 124.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 279 

Second branch, teach me tliy statutes. This may be considered 
apart by itself, or with respect to the context. 

First, Apart, as an entire prayer in itself. So the doctrine is, 
Doct. It is God must teach us his statutes. 
This will appear if we consider 

1. What it is to be taught of God. There is a difference between 
grammatical knowledge and spiritual illumination, or a literal instruc 
tion and a spiritual instruction ; a greater difference than there is 
between teaching a child to spell and read the words, and a man to 
understand the sense. Literal instruction is when we learn the truths 
contained in the word by rote, and talk one after another of divine 
things. But spiritual illumination is when these things are revealed 
to us by the Spirit of' God ; as we read of the evidence and demon 
stration of the Spirit, 1 Cor. ii. 4. Others have a form of knowledge, 
Rom. ii. 20. Some have only the report of Christ, have but a human 
credulity, or the recommendation of others, that reveal the doctrine of 
God to them. Others receive a revelation made to their souls ; their 
eyes are opened by the Spirit, Isa. liii. 1. Once more, there is a 
difference between the Spirit's enlightening in a way of gifts and 
common grace, and his enlightening in a way of special nd saving 
grace. Some that are enlightened by the Spirit fall away, Heb. vi. 4. 
Others are taught of God, so as to come to him by Christ, John vi. 45. 
This latter sort, that are savingly enlightened, have not only their 
minds opened, but their hearts inclined. So to be taught as to be 
drawn to faith and practice, this is proper to God, who is the sove 
reign dispenser of grace. 

2. This will appear if we consider Ihe heart of man, which is natu 
rally full of darkness, arid oppressed by the prejudices of customs and 
evil habits : 1 Cor. ii. 14, ' But the natural man receiveth not the 
things of God ;' 2 Cor. iv. 4, ' The god of this world hath blinded 
their eyes.' This veil can only be removed by the Spirit of God. 
After grace received we know but in part, 1 Cor. xiii. 9, and much of 
the matter which beclouded the mind still remairieth with us ; and when 
our lusts are awakened by temptations, our old blindness returneth 
upon us, and we strangely forget ourselves and our duty for the pre 
sent. Therefore we have need to go to God to be taught : 2 Peter 
i. 9, * He that wanteth these things is blind, and cannot see afar off.' 

3. If we consider the matter to be taught, it is the mysterious doc 
trine that came out of the bosom of God. Every art hath its mystery, 
which strangers cannot judge of : 1 Tim. iii. 16, ' All scripture is given 
by inspiration.' This was a secret which had not been known without 
a revelation. God hath his mysteries which no man knoweth, but by 
the Spirit of God : Mat. xiii. 11, ' To you it is given to know the 
mysteries of the kingdom of heaven; but to them it is not given/ 
Those that have scriptures, yet have scales on their eyes, 1 Cor. ii. 14, 
they have not saving knowledge. How sharp-sighted soever graceless 
souls may be in things that concern the present world, yet they are 
blind in spiritual things, so as to be affected and engaged thereby 
seriously to turn to God. Yea, how accurately soever they can dis 
course in the theory, and preach of Christ and his ways, yet they have 
no transforming light. God's mysteries must be seen in his own light, 


or they make no impression upon us : Ps. xxxvi. 9, ' In thy light we 
shall see light/ The scriptures containing the sum of the Lord's 
mind, none can of themselves attain to the meaning of them ; it was 
not the device of man's brain. So none understand by their proper 
skill and invention. There are such knots as cannot be untied and 
loosed, but by imploring the help of the Spirit. 

Use 1. To press us to be often with God for this teaching, and make 
it our great request to him. A gracious heart would fain learn the 
right way to heaven : Ps. xliii. 3, ' send out thy light and thy truth.' 
Direction how to carry ourselves is a great blessing. 

2. The blindness of our understandings should make us more earnest 
with God. We are apt to mistake our way, through the natural 
weakness of our understandings, especially when lusts and interests 
interpose : Jer. x. 23, ' Lord, the way of man is not in himself ; it is 
not in man that walketh to direct his steps.' As man understandeth 
not events, so easily mistaketh present duties. 

3. Our present estate. The world is a dark place, 2 Peter i. 19; 
compared with the light of glory, it is but like a light that shineth out 
of a room where a candle is, and a room where a candle is not seen, 
the glimmerings of the antichamber of eternity. Our own reason, the 
counsel and example of others, will easily misguide us. So the more 
we depend upon God, the more he will undertake to teach us, Prov. 
v. 6. Those that make their own bosoms their oracle, God is dis 
engaged from being their guide : they need him not ; but the snares 
they run into will soon show them how much they need him. 

4. How unapt we are to see conclusions in the promises, and to 
apply general rules to particular cases and times; which most Chris 
tians cannot do, eV SiaXoyia-fjiols avrwv, in their inferences : Rom. i. 21, 
* Are vain in their imaginations, have their foolish hearts darkened.' 

5. To bind all upon the heart, and to lie under the conscience of our 
duty, maketh the difficulty the greater ; many imprison the truth in 
unrighteousness. Well, then, beg the constant direction and illumi 
nation of God's Holy Spirit ; cast yourselves upon him in the sense of 
your weakness, and see if he will refuse you ; say, I am blind and 
ignorant; Lord, guide me. It is dangerous to be left in any part of 
our duty to ourselves. 

Secondly, If we consider the words with respect to the context. 
And first the remoter context, where David speaketh like a man under 
trouble and oppression, ver. 121. 122, ' Let not the proud oppress me,' 
&c. Lord, show me what to do in this time of nrv oppression. 

Doct. Direction how to carry ourselves in trouble, till the deliver 
ance cometh, is a great mercy, arid should be earnestly sought of God. 

Reason 1. From the parties oppressing. They that oppress watch 
for our halting, as Jeremiah complained, Jer. xx. 10. They accused 
the prophet unto the ruler, and so to work his ruin, if they could find 
him tripping in anything. Now when we are watched we need special 
direction, that God would teach us to walk warily and safely : Ps. 
xxvii. 11, ' Teach me thy way, Lord, and lead me in a plain path, 
because of mine enemies ; or, those which observe me, they watch to 
get some advantage : therefore that they may have no advantage 
against us, we should not trust to our own single wisdom. 

VER. 124.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 281 

Reason 2. Because the danger of sin is a greater inconvenience than 
the danger of trouble. In times of trials and troubles we are in danger 
of soul-losing and sinning, as well as bodily danger ; therefore we have 
need to beg wisdom of God to carry it well under trouble, because we 
are so apt to miscarry, unless God guide us continually in our dark 
condition, and take us by the hand, and help us over our stumbling- 
blocks. There are many sins incident to our condition. 

1. Uncomely passion and unadvised speeches ; therefore David 
prayeth in his trouble, Ps. cxli. 3, ' Set a watch before my mouth, keep 
the door of my lips.' In our oppression, we are under a temptation to 
hurt our own cause by unadvised and passionate speeches. When we 
have too great a sense of the temptation, something or other breaketh 
out to God's dishonour. 

2. Some indirect course to come out of trouble, Ps. cxxv. 3. Men 
that make haste out of trouble carve for themselves, break prison before 
they are brought out. Necessity is an ill counsellor, and will soon 
tempt us to some evil way for our own ease, some sinful compliance or 
confederacy. The devil tempted Christ when he was an hungry. Mat. 
iv. 3, hoping to work upon his necessity. 

3. Private revenge, or meeting injury with injuries. We are apt to 
retaliate : 2 Sam. xvi. 9, ' Why should this dead dog curse my lord the 
king ? let me go over, I pray thee, and take off his head.' Kevenge 
is soon up. No man is troubled if a shower of rain falleth upon us ; 
but if any cast a bucket or bason of water upon us, we are in a rage 
presently. We can better bear any trouble from God than injuries 
from men : ' Oppression maketh a wise man mad.' A revengeful spirit 
is contrary to our heavenly calling. 

4. Waxing weary of our duty, and quite tired and discouraged in 
God's service : Heb. xii. 3, ' Consider him that endured such contra 
diction of sinners, lest you be weary and faint in } 7 our minds/ Weari 
ness and fainting belong properly to the body, and they differ gradually. 
Weariness is a lesser, and tainting a higher degree of deficiency ; as 
when a man laboureth, hungers, or travelleth, it abateth his strength, 
and abateth the active powers, or toileth the spirits, the principle of 
motion. And from the body it is translated to the mind, to a less or 
higher degree of defection ; arid it is thus, when troubles are many and 
long continued, we begin to grow faint, and wax weary of the faith and 
service of Christ, and sink under the burden. It is the Devil's design 
to make us weary, and tire us out in the service of God. 

5. Another evil is despairing and distrustful thoughts of God. 
David, after all his experiences of God, though he had conducted him 
up and down : 1 Sam. xxvii. 1, ' I shall one day perish by the hand of 
Saul.' He had a particular promise and assurance of the kingdom, 
and had seen much of God's care over him ; yet, after all this, David 
doubteth of the word of God : Ps. xxx.i. 22, ' 1 said in my haste, I am 
cut off from before thine eyes ; nevertheless thoti heardest me.' As if 
he should say, God hath no care of me, nor thoughts of me; and at 
that instant deliverance was coming. 

6. Questioning our interest in God by reason of the cross. Our 
Lord hath taught us to say, ' My God, my God/ in the bitterest agonies 
when he was upon the cross ;" but few learn this lesson: Judges vi. 


23, ' If God be with us, why hath all this evil befallen us ? ' Some 
times we question the love of God because we have no affliction, and 
anon because we have nothing but affliction ; as if God were not the 
God of the valleys as well as of the mountains. Well, then, seeing all 
these distempers are incident to an afflicted estate, we should the more 
carefully watch against them. 

Reason 3. Because our enemies make a great advantage of our fail 
ings, and harden themselves in their prejudices if we carry not a holy 
good cause in a holy religious way, and will take the least occasion given 
from a questionable practice to slander the truth : Neh. v. 9, ' Ought 
you not to walk in the fear of our God, because of the reproach of the 
heathen our enemies ? ' If you should trip in anything, you shall soon 
hear of it, to the reproach of religion A holy and wise carriage in 
afflictions is very honourable to the gospel, otherwise your testimony 
is rejected and blasted. 

Use. Well, then, desire the Lord to guide thee in all thy troubles ; 
yea, if God doth guide you. let this satisfy you before the deliverance 
corneth about. It is a mercy if you have direction, though you have 
not deliverance ; for a godly man should not so much regard the ease 
of the flesh as the performance of his duty to God. If you carry your 
cross regularly with faith and patience, God may have more honour 
and you more profit by your affliction than your deliverance. Yea, to 
be instructed in the word, and be taught your duty, is in itself a 
greater mercy than a deliverance : Ps. xciv. 12, ' Blessed is the man 
whom thou chastenest, and teachest him out of thy law/ It is a 
blessed thing, yea, it is a deliverance itself ; for it delivereth you from, 
the spiritual evil of the rod, which is the curse. Suffering doth not 
come as a curse when instruction goeth along with it ; yea, it is the 
means of our great deliverance from the present evil world, 1 Cor. xi. 
32, as it is a pledge of our future deliverance in due time ; for God is 
not unmindful of us, arid will not leave us without the conduct of his 

Secondly, To handle the words with respect to the nearer context in 
ver. 123, ' Mine eyes fail for thy salvation/ This teaching is begged 
after he had complained of the delay of the promises, and so implicitly 
he complaineth not of the falsity of the word, or the non-performance 
of the promise, but of the weakness of his own faith. 

Duct. When the Lord suspends the promised deliverance, the godly 
suspect not the truth of his word, but the darkness of their own unbe 
lieving hearts. 

They think this failing is because they are no more enlightened ; 
they are dull in conceiving, and misty and cloudy in their apprehen 
sions, and therefore would have a clearer understanding of the promise 
and a more quick-sighted faith ; or have failed in the performance of 
the condition required, therefore desire that God would teach them 
and show them their errors, and cause them to profit in sanctification. 
Thus should we do in like cases when there is a seeming contradiction 
between the word and the works of God, betwixt his promises and his 
providence about us. His voice is sweet, like Jacob's, but his hands 
rough, like Esau's. Do not suspect the promise, but your understand 
ing ; go into the sanctuary, Ps, Ixxiii. 16, 17. God will help you to 

VER. 124.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 283 

reconcile things ; otherwise the difficulty will be too hard for you. 
The saints that have suspected or distrusted God have found them 
selves in an error, Isa. xlix. 14, 15 and Ps. Ixxvii. 8-10. (1.) You 
must not interpret God's promise by his providence, but his providence 
by his promise ; and the promise is the light side, and providence the 
dark side of the cloud : Isa. xlv. 15, ' Thou hidest thyself, God of 
Israel, the Saviour;' Ps. Ixxvii. 19, 'Thy way is in the sea, and thy 
path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known/ We can 
not trace him ; a man cannot find out the reason of everything that 
God doth. (2.) You 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. In the last act of the comedy all the errors are 
reconciled. Tarry till then : Zech. xiv. 7, ' At evening it shall be 
light/ We view providence by pieces, and we know not what God is 
a-doing, rending and tearing all in pieces. But view God's work in 
its whole frame and contexture, and it will appear beautiful. (3.) We 
must distinguish between what is best for us and what we judge is best 
for 11 s : Deut. viii. 15, 16, ' Who led thee through the great and terrible 
wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, 
where there was no water ; who brought thee forth water out of the 
rock ; who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers 
knew not ; that he might humble thee, and prove thee, to do thee 
good at the latter end/ Other diet is more wholesome for our souls 
than 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 I strong;' 
worst, when strongest : 2 Ohron. xxvi. 16, ' When he was strong, his 
heart was lifted up to his own destruction/ Many times the buffetings 
of Satan are better for us than a condition free from temptations ; so 
is poverty and emptiness better than fulness. (4.) We must distin 
guish between what things are in themselves, and what in their reduc 
tion, use, and tendency. All things are for a believer in their use, 
though they may be against him in their nature, 1 Cor. iii. 18-20, and 
Horn. viii. 28. ' All things shall work together for good to them that 
love God/ All their crosses, yea, sometimes their sins and snares, God 
will overrule them for good, and the work of grace sometimes goeth 
back that it may go forward. Many such cases there are which look 
like a contradiction, which we shall not know what to make of them, 
unless we bring it to Christ, an interpreter, one of a thousand. But 
take heed in these confusions and tossings of thy soul how thou re- 
flectest on God ; a little experience will confute thy prejudices. 

Thirdly, With respect to the nearest context, the former clause of 
this verse. After an appeal to the covenant of grace, or a petition for 
mercy, he asketh direction to keep the law. 

Doct. They that would have mercy by the covenant must be earnest 
to be taught God's statutes. 

Mercy and teaching are David's two great requests throughout this 
and other psalms. 

Reason 1. The moral obligation of the law still lieth on God's 
servants, that are taken into the covenant of grace. There is an 
eternal obligation upon the creature to love and serve the creator, 
which cannot be dissolved. We are not redeemed from the service of 


the law by Christ, hut the curse of the law : Luke i. 74, 75, ' Being; 
delivered from the hands of our enemies, that we might serve God iu 
holiness and righteousness before him all our days/ The end of our 
redemption was not to destroy our service according to the law, but to- 
fit arid enable us to perform it according to the image of God restored 
in us, Eph. iv. 24. The new man is created to restore in some 
measure those abilities we lost in Adam. God never yet gave man a, 
liberty to be free from the obligation of the moral law. He would 
not pardon any sin against it without satisfaction made by Christ, and 
believed and pleaded by sinful man. Christ merited, and God re 
stored the spirit of sanctification, that men might keep it. He will 
not spare his own children, when they transgress against it by heinous 
and scandalous sins, as to temporal punishments: Prov. xi. 31, ' The 
righteous man shall be .recompensed upon earth ; much more the 
wicked and the sinner-/ Ps. xxx. 31, David and Eli both smarted for 
their sins. No man hath interest in Christ unless he return to the 
obedience of this law: 1 Cor. ix. 21, ' To them that are without law, 
as without law (being not without law to God, but under the law 
to Christ), that I might gain them that are without law;' Rom. viii. 
1, 2, 'There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in 
Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit: for 
the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from 
the law of sin and death.' No interest in mercy else: Gal. vi. 16, 
' As many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon 
them.' We cannot have full communion with God till we perfectly 
obey it: Eph..v. 27, ' That he might present it to himself a glorious 
church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but it should 
be holy and without blemish.' 

Reason 2. The great privilege of the covenant of grace is to be 
taught God's statutes, or to have a real impress of them upon the heart 
and mind, which is the way of divine teaching : Heb. viii. 10, ' For 
this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel in those 
days, saith the Lord ; I will put my laws into their minds, and write 
them in their hearts ; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be 
to me a people/ He will cure us of our wickedness, weakness, and 
carelessness, and enable us to keep his law ; it is God's undertaking 
to do so, and that out of free grace and favour, for he is not in 
debted to us ; it is to give us knowledge of them, and power to keep 
them. Much of the law natural cannot be severed from it, and that is 
the reason why the heathens have the law written upon their hearts, 
Bom. ii. 15 ; but the writing is very imperfect, both as to knowledge 
and power to keep it. God will imprint them more perfectly ; this is 
the true notion of the law. By the mind is meant understanding, by 
the heart the rational appetite. In the mind is the directive counsel ; 
in the will the imperial and commanding power. There is the prime 
mover of all human actions ; he giveth an apprehensive and percep 
tive power, whereby we apprehend things more clearly, and effectually 
desire and affect spiritual delights. 

Use 1. To refute the claim of them that would plead mercy, but 
would still go on in their own ways, blessing themselves in their sins. 
Till our hearts and minds are suited to God's law by a permanent 

VER. 125.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 285 

tincture of holiness, we are not fit subjects to ask mercy and the 
promises of the covenant. 

Use 2. If we would have this effect, we must go to God, who alone 
can work upon the immortal soul, to reform, mould, or alter it. A 
new man or angel cannot do it ; they may by sense and fancy teach 
him many things ; but to make these lively impressions must be the 
work of the Spirit. 


/ am thy servant ; give me understanding, that I may knoiv thy 
testimonies. VER. 125. 

IN this verse he repeateth his plea and request also. In the former 
verse he mentioneth the relation of a servant, and prayeth, ' Teach me 
thy statutes.' And here again (1.) Asserteth his relation to God, 
* 1 am thy servant.' (2.) Beneweth his request, ' Give me under 
standing/ (3.) The fruit and effect of the grant, ' That I may know 
thy testimonies ; ' or, Then I shall know. 

First, This repetition hath its use. This repeating his relation to 
God showeth that where the conscience of our dedication to God, and 
our endeavours to serve him, is clear and sincere, we should not easily 
quit our claim. Deal with thy servant in mercy ; yea, Lord, I am 
thy servant : I have my failings ; but, Lord, it is in my. heart to serve 
thee ; I can and will avow it as long as I live. Our defects and 
disallowed failings do not deprive us of the title of being God's servants; 
we may take comfort in it, and assert our interest in the promises as 
long as we delight to do his will. And though unbelief opposeth our 
claim, we must remove it in the face of all objections. Christ puts 
Peter to a threefold assertion of his love to him, John xxi. It is 
supposed we do not lie, in these redoubled professions of our respect 
and service to God. 

Secondly, This renewing his request showeth his earnestness to 
increase in spiritual understanding. Savoury and powerful knowledge 
of divine things is in itself so excellent a benefit, and our necessity of 
it is so great, that we cannot enough pray for it. Only observe, that 
in the former verse, the notion was statutes, here testimonies. Statutes 
are that part of God's word which we should obey ; testimonies that 
part which we should believe, viz., the promises. But this may be 
too critical, the words being taken in this psalm in a greater latitude. 

Doct. That it is a good plea, when we want any mercy, spiritual or 
temporal, to be able to plead that we are God's servants. 

1. That there are a sort of people, that in a peculiar manner are 
God's servants. 

2. These may plead it when they want any mercy, spiritual or 

First, That some are in a peculiar manner God's servants. The 
saints of God are so called; it was Moses' honour: 'They sung the 
yong of Moses, the servant of the Lord.' So Josh. i. 1, ' Now after the 


death of Moses, the servant of the Lord.' So Paul asserts it of him 
self : Acts xxvii. 23, ' The God, whose I am, and whom I serve/ 
Here is a true description of a Christian man ; he is God's, and serveth 
God ; he is God's by special appropriation and communion with God. 
He serveth God, that is, walketh answerable to his relation, and is 
ever about God's work. Elsewhere he describeth himself by his 
service : Rom. i. 9, * My God, whom I serve in my spirit ; ' 1 Tim. i. 
3, ' God, whom I serve with a pure conscience/ But to know who 
in a peculiar manner are God's servants, we must distinguish 

1. God is served actively and passively by necessity of nature, or 
voluntary choice. Passively, by necessity of nature, all creatures, 
even the inanimate, are his servants: Ps. cxix. 91, 'They continue 
this day according to thine ordinances, for all are thy servants.' But 
actively, to serve him out of duty and choice ; so do only men and 
angels, who were made immediately for his service ; the brute and 
inanimate creatures only ultimately and terminatively. They have a 
principle in their nature to incline them to it, are not only overruled 
so to do by the conduct of general providence. The water that driveth 
a mill serveth my purpose, but otherwise than the miller or overseer 
of the work. Fire and water is my servant, much more he. 

2. We must distinguish between those who are God's servants de 
jure, of right, and those who are so de facto, in deed servants of 
right, and actually his servants. De jure all men are God's ser 
vants; God made them for himself, Prov. xvi. 4, and Christ bought 
them for himself : Rom. xiv. 9, * For to this end Christ both died 
and rose again, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead 
and living.' He is Sec-won^, a Lord and master, where he is not 
Kvpios, a covenant redeemer and Saviour : 2 Peter ii. 1, ' They deny 
the Lord that bought them,' ayopdaavra, a master that bought them 
for service, and may challenge a right and interest in them, having 
shed his blood for mankind. But de facto those are God's servants 
who yield themselves up to God's dominion, to serve and please him 
in all things with cheerfulness and consent. The covenant is repre 
sented under divers notions ; as a covenant of friendship : James ii. 
23, 'Abraham was called the friend of God;' as a conjugal cove 
nant : Hosea ii. 19, 20, ' I will betroth thee to me ; ' as a covenant 
between king and subjects : Isa. xxxiii. 22 ; as a covenant bet/ween 
master and servants, Isa. Ivi. 6, that take hold of his covenant, and 
join themselves to the Lord to be his servants. The two former 
notions imply the sociableness and intimacy we have with God in tho 
covenant ; the two latter our inferiority and subjection. Both must 
be minded, that as on the one side we be not slavish and under bond 
age, so, on the other, we may not behave ourselves too fellow-like 
with God. We are such servants as are also friends, yea, as sons ; 
yea, his spouse. The end of joining ourselves to the Lord is not to 
be partners with him, but servants to him. 

3. Some are servants by visible profession and baptismal engage 
ment ; others really and indeed, by conversion to God, or an actual 
'giving up of themselves to his use and service. By baptism we are 
professed servants and subjects to the God of heaven, bound to be so ; 
for it is the seal of that covenant of service I spake of before, and so 

VER. 125.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 287 

bindeth our service in it. We renounce the devil, the world, and the 
flesh, and dedicate ourselves to the Lord. Justin Martyr saith, They 
did dvaOe/jLari^eiv eavToi>$ r<a 6eu> ; and Ezek. xvi. 8, ' And entered 
into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamesfc 
mine; ' 1 Peter iii. 21, ' The like figure whereunto even baptism doth 
now save us, not the putting away the filth of the flesh, but the 
answer of a good conscience towards God.' By profession, all bap 
tized persons are God's servants ; but in reality all converted persons 
are so, that are turned from idols to serve the living God, 1 Thes. i. 9. 
Without this, Christ will riot be contented with an outside acquaint 
ance and the flattery of empty titles, but will the more challenge us 
by virtue of our profession : Mai. i. 6, ' If I be a father, where is 
mine honour ? if 1 be a master, where is my fear ? ' Gid res subjecta 
nomini negatur, is nomine illuditur. It was no honour to Christ, 
but a mere mockery, to be called King of the Jews, whilst they buf 
feted Christ and spat upon him. If God be a master, he will have 
the honour, fear, and obedience that belongeth to a master, that we 
should be afraid to offend him. 

4. There are some that are servants by general relation, to distin 
guish persons, and some by way of special attendance. A servant in 
general relation is every Christian ; servants by specicil attendance are 
either angels, and they are called his ministers, Ps. ciii. 21, as being 
in near and special attendance about their master's person, courtiers of 
heaven, most in grace and favour with God. A man may have one 
to do his business, that yet hath not one to attend his person. Among 
men, the magistrate is the minister of God for good, Bom. xiii. 4. 
Ministers are servants in special attendance, therefore Paul so often 
calleth himself the servant of Jesus Christ : Rom. i. 9, ' Whom I 
serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son ; ' ministers of God, not 
of the people, but for the people, because of their near service about 
and under God. David was both a holy man. and a king, and a 
prophet. David as a king might use this petition : it highly con- 
ceruelh one in public rank and office to say to God, I am thy servant; 
yea, as private believers. I observe it not only to distinguish persons, 
but to distinguish the work of the same person. Christians have, be 
sides their general calling, a particular calling wherein to serve God. 
God hath given us all talents to trade withal : Mat. xxv. 14, ' Who 
called his servants, and delivered unto them his goods;! Luke xxiii. 
13, ' Occupy till 1 come/ Dona talenta. Every one of us, as instru 
ments of providence, are to serve God in our generations, Acts xiii. 
36, and so not only to mind the work of our general calling, but that 
particular work which he hath given us to do in our way and place. 
The general and particular calling do not cross, but help one another. 
In your particular calling, as instruments of God's providence, you 
provide for jour support during your service, and the relief of others : 
so that, as God's servants, you are not to be idle, but to have a lawful 
employment arid calling, that you may not cast yourselves upon temp 
tations of using sinful shifts for your support and living. It is also a 
remedy against the evils that flow from idleness and too much ease, 
.and that he may promote the good of church, family, and kingdom. 
And then the general calling helpeth the particular, by limiting it, and 


our endeavours therein, that so we may have time to save our souls ; 
and directing us, that we do all things holily and justly, as become the 
servants of the Lord. 

Secondly, These may plead it when they want any mercy spiritual 
or temporal. 

1. It is not a plea contrary to grace. Indeed, no such plea can be 
allowed in the new covenant ; partly because it is the mere mercy of 
God to advance us to this honour, to make us his servants, and the 
fruit of his goodness, rather than our choice : Rom. ix. 16, 'It is not 
of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth; but of God that showeth 
mercy.' Willing and running and working and serving are necessary 
afterwards, 1 Cor. ix. 24, as our way and qualification. Again, our 
service is mixed with many weaknesses. Mercy there needeth to 
interpret our best actions, Gal. vi. 16. Peace and mercy, when we 
have done most exactly ; yea, the very plea of servant excludeth all 
thought of merit ; for a servant ipso jure ministerium domino debet : 
Luke xvii. 9, ' Doth he thank that servant because he did the things 
that were commanded ? I trow not/ 

2. It is not contrary to humility. It is not, We are thy children, wo 
are thy saints ; but, We are thy servants. It is the meanest of rela 
tions; it speaketh duty rather than perfection, and pleads not property 
of the house, but propriety and interest in God. The best of us 
are but servants to the high God, and therefore should not carry it 
proudly either to our master or to our fellow-servants. It is a humble 

3. It speaketh comfort ; for God will provide for his famih r , and 
will give maintenance, protection, direction, help, and finally wages, 
where he requireth and expecteth service : for the present, necessaries 
by the way ; for the future, a blessed reward. For the present, we may 
depend on him as servants on their lord : Ps. cxxiii. 2, ' Behold, as 
the eyes of servants look to the hands of their masters, and the eyes of 
maidens to the hand of their mistress/ &c. Servants had their dole 
and portion from their masters the males from the master, the 
females from the mistress ; therefore is the expression of looking here 
used. (1.) God will give direction. In the text, David, upon the 
account of being God's servant, beggeth to know his will, as all good 
servants study what will please their masters ; and will God appoint 
us work, and not tell us what it is ? Ps. cxliii. 10. * Teach me to do 
thy will, for thou art my God : thy spirit is good, lead me into the 
land of uprightness.' God doth not only show us what is good in his 
word, but teacheth us also by his Spirit, and directs us in every turn 
and motion of our lives ; and we ask it of him as he is our God and 
Lord. (2.) Help and assistance. God is no Pharaoh, to require 
brick and give no straw ; his grace is ready to help the endeavouring 
soul : Gal. ii. 12, 13, ' Work out your salvation ; for God worketh 
in you both to will and to do.' He exciteth the first motions, and 
still carrieth them on to perfection. (3.) Protection while he hath a 
mind to use us; ver. 122. of this psalm, 'Be surety for thy servant 
for good : let not the proud oppress me.' Under the law, if a servant 
was hurt, the master was to take an account, and satisfaction to be 
made to him for his servant. Dent. xxi. 32 ; so God taketh an account 

VER. 125.] . SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 289 

of the wrongs of bis servants, and will demand satisfaction. (4.) 
Maintenance, 1 Tim. v. 8. Every man hath a care devolved upon 
him, to take care of his family, and provide for them, as instruments 
of God's providence ; and will not God provide for his own ? And 
then for time to come ; God's servants have good wages : Heb. xi. 6. 
' He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him/ We need not 
seek another paymaster ; there is a sure reward. Prov. xi. 18, * But 
to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward ; ' and a great 
reward, Ps. xix. 11, ' And in the keeping of them is a great reward ; ' 
and a full reward, 2 John 8, ' But that we receive a full reward.' 
No desire remaineth unsatisfied. 

Use. To persuade us to become the servants of the Lord. 

1. I will plead with you upon the account of right. 

[1.] You ought to be so jure creationis; you were created by him. As 
a man expecteth fruit from the vine which he hath planted, so may God 
expect from the creature which he hath made ; yea, you were made for 
this end. If God had made us for another purpose, our living to that end 
and purpose had been regular. But this was his end, that he might 
be served by us. Let us lay these things together ; consider what an 
absolute power God hath by creation ; no lord hath such a right over 
his slave or servant as God over us. The slave or servant is either 
taken in battle, or bought and hired with our money ; but God made 
us out of nothing : he that made a thing at his own pleasure hath 
a greater right than another can have by purchase, yea, greater 
right than a master over his beast. A master hath a greater right 
over his beast than over his servant : the dominion over the beast is 
more natural to us than over a servant ; the servant and master 
have the same common nature. When he gave us dominion over the 
beasts of the field, the one is founded in God's original grant, the other 
is but a civil right founded in temporal accidents. Something is due 
even to a slave, as our own flesh. Yet a man cannot absolutely do 
with his beast as he will ; the law of God interposeth : a good man is 
merciful to his beast. God will not allow a cruel disposition, nor give 
us the absolute disposal over the creatures which we made not ; nay, 
more than a potter over the vessels which he hath framed, or a work 
man over his work ; he only giveth external shape or figure by art, out 
of matter already prepared. But God giveth the whole being out of 
nothing ; nothing but what is his. A potter hath power over his 
work to dispose of it as he pleaseth ; here the law interposeth not. 
Surely, if a potter hath power to dispose of his vessels, God hath an 
absolute power to smite or heal, lift up or cast down, save or condemn ; 
none can say, ' What doest thou ? ' He doth not fashion us out of 
matter prepared, but out of mere nothing. But this was his end, that 
we should love and fear and serve and glorify him. Our business was 
not to eat and drink, and please ourselves and others, and live a merry 
life. All things act to the end for which they were created, the sun 
to shine by day and enlighten the world, the moon and stars by night; 
and they answer their end. Their ultimate end is to serve God,^ their 
next end is to serve man. All things in the world are either subjected 
to our dominion or created for our use. The heavens, though not 
under our dominion, as beasts, yet are for our use ; the lower heaven 



to give us breath, the middle heaven to give us light and heat, the 
highest heaven for our dwelling-place. The sun runneth and hasteneth 
to give us light. The sun shineth for us, the wind bloweth, and the 
water floweth for our use. The earth and air are for our use, the earth 
to tread on, the air to breathe in. And shall not we serve him that 
made the whole course to serve us ? All the creatures are at work for 
us day and night, for a poor worm of six foot long ! Yea, the creator 
is at work for us : ' My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.' We 
complain if the creatures do not serve us, and shall not we serve God 
who gave us those servants ? 

[2.] A right of preservation. He is ~Lord alone, because he pre- 
serveth all things : Neh. ix. 6, ' Thou, even thou, Lord, alone ; thou 
hast made heaven, and the heaven of heavens with all their host, the 
earth and all things that are therein, the sea and all that is therein ; 
and thou preservest them all.' At whose table are we fed ? at whose 
cost and expense are we maintained ? upon whom do we depend every 
moment for being and operation ? Acts xvii. 28, ' In him we live and 
move, and have our being ; ' Heb. i. 3, ' He upholdeth all things by 
the word of his power ; ' he doth every moment continue what he gave 
at first. Things were not made that they should act and subsist of 
themselves, as the house abideth when the inhabitant is dead and gone. 
A daily influence is necessary. As the beams depend on the sun, so 
do we every moment upon God ; every day we are bound to serve him. 
If God should turn us off for preservation to ourselves, how soon should 
we return to our original nothing ! God is disengaged if we serve him 
not. If, out of indulgence, he continues our beings, what vile ingrati 
tude is it not to serve him ! Isa, i. 3, ' The ox knoweth his owner, 
and the ass his masters crib ; but Israel doth not not know, my people 
doth not consider.' Would you maintain a servant to do his own 
work ? Since we live upon God, we should live to him. 

[3.] A right by redemption : 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20, * And ye are not 
your own, for ye are bought with a price ; therefore glorify God in your 
body, and in your spirit, which is God's.' If a man had bought 
another out of slavery, all his time and strength and service belonged 
to the buyer. Christ hath bought us from the worst slavery with the 
greatest price, and shall we rob him of his purchase ? This was his 
end ; he did not redeem us to ourselves, but to God ; not to live as we 
list, to exempt us from his dominion ; that is impossible. Saul pro 
mised to make him free in Israel that would destroy Goliath, 1 Sam. 
xvi. 25. But to be free from God's dominion cannot be ; that was not 
Christ's end in redeeming us, but that we might be put into a capacity 
to serve God. Well, then, when God hath such a right in us, we ought 
to obey him. 

2. Consider what an honour it is to be God's servants. Servire Deo 
regnare est The meanest offices about a prince are honourable. No 
such honourable employment as God's service, both in respect of the 
person whom we serve, the great God, and the service itself ; it is a 
service of righteousness and holiness, Luke i. 74. This is no drudgery ; 
our natures are ennobled ; the liberty and perfection of human nature 
is preserved by this service. And then for the quality of our reward, 
there is no such wages, no such reward in any service : John xii. 26, 

VER. 125.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 291 

' And where I am, there shall my servant be : if any man serve me, 
him will my Father honour.' Here is true honour, fitted for great 
spirits that will not stoop to trifles ; and indeed God's servant is 
the only great spirit. The most eminent servants in the court of 
kings have but a splendid and more gaudy slavery in comparison of 

3. What a happiness, as well as honour, both in respect of our pre 
sent communion with him, and future fruition of him ! The Queen 
of Sheba said of Solomon's servants, 1 Kings x. 8, * Happy are the 
men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before 
thee, and that hear thy wisdom.' Happy those indeed that serve God; 
they are friend-servants : John xv. 15, ' Henceforth I call you not 
servants, for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doth ; but I call 
you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made 
known unto you/ In regard of intimate communion, they are treated 
as sons, though they be servants. Now it is very comfortable to be 
taken into God's bosom, and to have access to him upon all occasions. 
Besides the reward and wages in the life to come, God's servants have 
great vails. Our earnest is better than the world's wages. 

4. Consider what a hard master we were under before : Rom. vi. 17, 
' But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin.' You have 
obeyed many masters : Titus iii. 3, ' Ye were sometimes foolish, dis 
obedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures/ You that were 
at the beck of every brutish lust, and were carried to and fro with so 
many contrary passions and affections, that have left so many wounds 
in your consciences, alarmed by terrors every day, when you denied 
yourselves nothing, thought nothing too much or too dear to spend or 
part with in a sinful course. 

5. If once we come to choose his service, we shall find a difference 
between the Lord and other masters: 2 Chron. xii. 8, 'Nevertheless 
they shall be his servants, that they may know my service, and the 
service of the kingdoms of the countries/ The sorrow of the one, the 
sweetness of the other ; the misery of the one, the blessedness of the 
other ; the bondage of the one, the liberty of the other : they that 
forsake or refuse God's service shall soon find worse masters. God 
hath ways enough to punish our straggling from duty and slighting 
his service ; either by putting us under hard taskmasters, some that 
shall turn the edge of authority against us, push with the horns of 
a lamb, a barbarous enemy, making us to be mutual oppressors of 
each other ; or by giving us over to Satan's power, or our own hearts' 

6. Christ's service is not hard nor heavy : Mat. xi. 30, ' My yoke is 
easy and my burthen light,' notwithstanding all your prejudices against 
it. These men live as they list ; they think this a sweet liberty to be 
guided by their own wisdom, and live according to their own wills, 
according to their own ends, and that it is better than to be curbed, 
Ps. ii. 3. But after a little while they have other thoughts, they will 
find the bitterness of such a course. On the contrary, the more we try 
the service of God, the sweeter we shall find it to be : 1 John v. 3, 
* And his commandments are not grievous : and Prov. iii. 17, ' Her 
ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace/ Our work 


is wages, and our very work carrieth a reward in the bosom of it. So 
sweet and comfortable it is. Now for directions. 

[1.] If we would be God's servants, we must sincerely, wholly, and 
absolutely give up ourselves to do his will ; and never more to look 
upon ourselves as our own masters, to do what we please, but wholly 
to study what will please God. Isa. Ivi. 6, they 'joined themselves to 
the Lord to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and be his ser 
vants ; ' Rom. vi. 16, ' Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves 
servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey ? ' There is a 
solemn dedication made, we take up his service seriously, not upon 
example barely, or tradition, or fear, or constraint, or some base respects 
or sinister ends, or some sudden pang or motion ; but after serious and ' 
due deliberation, out of judgment rightly informed, and affection 
thereon grounded, do engage themselves to perform humble service to 
God, without limiting or power of revocation, give up themselves 
wholly to follow his directions. 

[2.] God's servants have work to do ; none of them must be idle : 
Mat. xx. 6, 'Why stand ye here all the day idle?' Luke i. 74, 
75, ' That we may serve him in holiness and righteousness all our 
days ;' Phil. ii. 12, ' Work out your salvation with fear and trembling ; ' 
Acts xxiv. 16, ' Herein do I exercise myself, to keep a good conscience, 
void of offence.' We must not put hands in bosom, having so much 
work to do. Many presume of being God's servants ; but it is only in 
the notion ; they do nothing for him. 

[3.] This service must not be done grudgingly, but heartily : Isa. 
Ivi. 6, ' And the sons of the stranger that join themselves to the Lord, 
to serve him, to love the name of the Lord, and be his servants ;' Deut. 
x. 12, ' To love the Lord thy God, and serve him/ God will not be 
served but out of love, not by necessity and constraint. We must 
yield obedientiam servi, but not servilem : we are delivered from a 
slavish spirit : Rom. viii. 15, ' We have not received the spirit of bond 
age again to fear.' God's service must be gone about with ready affec 
tion and good-will. The respect which we show to God is called 
service in regard of our strict obligation to it, but obedience in regard 
of our readiness of mind to perform it. Secondly, Not slightly, but 
with reverence and zeal: Mai. i. 6, ' If I be a master, where is my 
fear ?' Ps. ii. 11, ' Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trem 
bling ;' Phil. ii. 12, 'Work out your salvation with fear and trembling ;' 
and Rom. xii. 1, ' I beseech you by the mercies of God, that you pre 
sent your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which 
is your reasonable service/ God will not be put off with anything by 
the by, it is a lessening of his majesty : ' I am a great king/ Thirdly, 
It must be done constantly, not by fits. He that is God's servant never 
ceaseth from his work ; their feasting, walking, sitting, sleeping, waking, 
hungry, thirsty, hearing, or praying, it is all for God. He that doth 
any of these things merely for himself, to gratify the flesh, doth not 
act as God's servant: Acts xxvi. 16, ' Serve God instantly day and 
night/ Fourthly, Orderly. All things in God's service must be 
regarded according to their weight: Rom. xiv. 18, 'For he that in 
these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God and approved of men ; * 
that is the main things, not in contests about ceremonies : if others carry 

VER. 125.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 293 

these matters beyond their weight, let not us ; it is not a pin to choose 
what party a man is of, if he doth not mind righteousness and peace 
and joy in the Holy Ghost : as if a servant should provide sauce for 
his master, and neglect to provide meat. 

[4.] Our great end and scope must be to please God. They arc 
true servants that make it their business to please their master : Isa. 
Ivi. 6, ' They choose the things that please me, and take hold of my 
covenant ;' John viii. 29, ' The Father hath not left me alone, for I do 
always the things that please him ;' 1 Thes. iv. 1, 'I exhort you all by 
the Lord Jesus Christ, that as you have received of us how to walk 
and please God, so ye would abound more and more ;' and 1 John iii. 
22. ' And whatsoever we ask we receive of him, because we keep his 
commandments, and do the things which please him.' So Heb. xi. 5, 
* Enoch had this testimony, that he pleased God/ The property of a 
servant is not to please himself. They that set themselves to please 
God observe his will in all things. There is a great pleasing in the 
world, but few make it their business to please God. All inferiors 
please their superiors on whom they depend ; and shall not we please 
God, who is infinitely greater than man, and on whom we depend every 
moment for all that we enjoy ? 

Use. Are we God's servants ? We all say so ; but we speak out of 
conviction of conscience rather than out of inclination of heart ; not 
what de facto is, but what de jure should be ; and it is well that we 
come so far as to own God's right. Professio ipsa, saith Hilary, habet 
conscientice necessitatem, non habet confessionis veritatem. 

1. If it be so, then God is our chiefest good and highest lord, whom 
we study to please and gratify. It is certain that is our master which 
hath the greatest part in us, and power and influence over us : Mat. 
vi. 24, ' No man can serve two masters : ye cannot serve God and 
mammon ; ' Kom. xvi. 18, ' They serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but 
their own belly ; ' Phil. iii. 19, 'Whose god is their belly.' It was a 
speech of Luther, Venter in omni religione est potentissimum idolum. 
It doth all with men. Where the belly is served, Christ is neglected. 
So far as his service will comply with the interest of the belly, or a 
quiet, pleasurefui life, so far they can be zealous : their religion must 
feed them and maintain them, or else they care not for it John vi. 
26, they followed Christ for the loaves mind religion for outward 
advantages. When our interest and Christ's service go contrary ways, 
we can dispense with our duty to God for the sake of this. It is clear, 
to be servants is to want a power and right to dispose of ourselves, our 
actions, and employments. While any other thing hath an interest 
in us to dispose of us, we are not God's servants ; but that thing that 
hath such a power with us is our master. 

2. A servant is chiefly known by obedience : Rom. vi. 16, 'To whom 
ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye 
obey ; ' Luke xii. 47, 48, 'And that servant which knew his lord's will, 
and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will,' &c. Men 
may talk high for God, know much ; but whom do we ordinarily obey ? 
When the flesh bids us go, we go ; come, we come. If pride bids us 
display the pomp of wit in our duties, or to hang out the ensigns of our 
vanity, we yield straight. If lust bid us pamper the flesh ; we pre- 


sently obey ; if coveteousness bid take the wedge of gold, we do it. But 
when a man knoweth anything to be the mind of God, and prepareth 
his heart to do it, he is one of God's servants. 

3. A servant of God is one that the sight of God's will is reason 
enough to him : 1 Thes. v. 18, ' This is the will of God.' The will of 
God must be the prime and prevalent motive with a Christian ; they are 
servants, not to do their own will, but his whose servants they are; they 
do nothing but what their master commandeth, and what he com- 
mandeth they see reason to obey. 

Second branch, ' Give me understanding, that I may know thy tes 
timonies/ This is subjoined to the former plea. (1.) Because David 
would not be a servant in name and title only, but in deed and in truth ; 
and therefore would fain know his duty. (2.) To show the difference 
between God's servants and the servants of other lords who command 
us : Prov. xiv. 25, ' The king's favour is towards a wise servant ; ' they 
see them wise, find them wise, and then love them : but God must 
begin with us ; his favour maketh us wise. 

Doct. God's best servants think they can never enough beg divine 

David doth often enforce this request. 

Eeason 1. Our blindness in the matters of God is a great part of 
our spiritual misery : Eph. v. 8, ' Ye were sometimes in darkness.' 
There is a veil lying upon our hearts, not easily removed and taken 
away. All the mischief introduced by the fall is not cured at once, 
but by degrees ; as spiritual strength increaseth we grow up into it ; 
so spiritual light. The maim of the understanding, as well as the will, 
is not wholly cured till we come to heaven, for here we know but in 
part ; till God give us understanding, we are utterly blind ; the best 
of God's servants have cause to acknowledge it in themselves, the rem 
nants of ignorance and incredulity. The apostle biddeth them to add 
to faith virtue, to virtue knowledge ; that is, skill to manage the work 
of our heavenly calling. 

Reason 2. None are so sensible of this blindness as they. It is some 
proficiency in knowledge to understand our ignorance : Prov. xxx. 2, 
3, ' Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the under 
standing of a man/ I neither learned wisdom, nor have the know 
ledge of the holy/ The most knowing see they need more enlightening. 
The best of our knowledge is to know our imperfections, 1 Cor. viii. 2. 
He that thinketh he knoweth anything, knoweth nothing as he ought 
to know. 

Eeason 3. There is room for increase; for in the best we never know 
so much of God's ways but we may know more : Hosea vi. 3, ' Then 
shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord ; ' Prov. iv. 18, ' But 
the path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more 
unto the perfect day/ True sanctified knowledge is always growing. 
If we sit down with measures received, it is a sign we do not know 
things as we should know them. Christ grew in knowledge, not in 
grace, for the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily. Practical 
knowledge is never at a stand ; though a man may see round the com 
pass and light of saving truth, yet he may know them more spiritually 
and more feelingly. 

VER. 125.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix, 295 

Reason 4. The profit of divine revelation as to these three things : 

1. A clear discerning of the things of God, not a confused notion ; 
as the blind man in the Gospel saw men as trees walking. So 2 Cor. 
iv. 6, ' For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, 
hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the 
glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ ; ' and 1 John v. 20, ' And 
hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true.' 
Every degree of knowledge is God's gift. What other men see con 
fusedly, we see more distinctly in this light. 

2. Firm assent. Then ' shall I know thy testimonies ; ' know them 
from others that have not divine authority. It is the spirit of wisdom 
and revelation that openeth our eyes to see the truth and worth of 
heavenly things contained in the promise : Eph. i. 17, 18, ' The father 
of glory may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the know 
ledge of him, the eyes of your understandings being enlightened, that 
ye may know the hope of his calling, and the riches of the glory 
of the inheritance of the saints in light ; ' and Mat. xvi. 17, ' Flesh 
and blood hath not revealed these things unto thee/ Human credulity 
we may have upon the report of others, the evidence of the truths them 
selves ; but this firm assent is the fruit of divine illumination. 

3. Hearty practice. Let thy testimonies not only strike my ear, but 
affect my heart, command my hand, let me know them so as to do them, 
for otherwise our knowledge is little worth. God doth so direct, that 
he doth also enable us to approve our obedience to him sincerely and 
faithfully. There is a knowledge that puffeth us up, 1 Cor. viii. 1, which 
yet is a gift, and floweth from the common influence of the Spirit : Jer. 
xxii. 16, ' Was not this to know me ? saith the Lord.' But there is 
a greater efficacy in practical knowledge, such as warmeth the heart 
with love to the truths known, John iv. 10, ' If thou knewest the gift/ 
&c. Such a light as proceedeth from the gracious influence of the 

Use 1. Let us be often dealing with God in prayer, that our judg 
ments may be enlightened with the understanding of the word, and 
our affections renewed and strengthened unto the true obedience of it; 
beg for that lively light of the Spirit. 

1. We need it. In how many things do we err in the things which 
we know ! how weak are we both as to sound judgment and practice ! 
The apostle saith, ' We know but in part,' 1 Cor. xiii. 9 ; ' We are but 
of yesterday, and we know nothing/ Job viii. 9. Therefore we have 
need to go to the Ancient of days, that he may teach us knowledge, and 
kindle our lamps anew at the fountain of light. Alas ! we take it in 
by drops, or by degrees, as a tender and sore eye must be used to the 
light. We have but little time to get knowledge in, and do not im 
prove that little time we have. 

2. We have leave to ask it : James i. 5, ' If any man lack wisdom, 
let him ask it of God ; ' and why do we not, seeing we have a liberty 
to ask it ? 

3. God hath promised to bestow it ; he will give his Spirit to them 
that ask it, Luke xi. 13. And to beget faith in us : ' If ye then, being evil, 
know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall 
your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ? ' 


Here is a notable argument; he reasoneth and promiseth. And Prov. ii. 
3, we must cry for knowledge. Well, then, let us be earnest, that we 
may not miss that which is to be had for asking ; beg for a heart to 
know, Jer. xxiv. 7, ' I will give them a heart to know me, that I am 
the Lord.' 

Use 2. It informeth us that there is somewhat more than the word 
necessary to give us knowledge. God must not only reveal the object, 
but prepare the subject. David having a law, beggeth understanding 
that he might know God's testimonies. The literal sense and mean 
ing of the words may be understood by common gifts and ordinary 
industry, unless men be exceedingly blinded and hardened by their own 
prejudices. But to have a spiritual understanding of them, so as to pro 
fit andincrease in sarictification,that is from the Lord. These things may 
be drawn into a system, wherein there will be nothing that exceedeth 
the understanding of a man. But to understand it so as to be affected 
with and changed by it, that is from the Spirit : 1 John v. 20, ' And we 
know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understand 
ing, that we may know him that is true ; ' and Eph. v. 8, ' Ye were 
darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.' He is the purchaser and 
author of that light. 

Use 3. Is reproof to those that presume on their own wit to under 
stand divine mysteries. Many think they have eyes in their head, and 
can see into matter as far as other men, and conceive and judge of a 
thing as soon and as well as others can do ; and so will not acknow 
ledge their dulness and blindness in heavenly things, take it ill to be 
told of it : John ix. 4, ' Are we blind also ? ' In a rage scoff at those 
that talk of the enlightening of the Spirit, and being taught of God. 
Alas ! you must be blind and be fools before you be wise, 1 Cor iii. 
18, in your own conviction and feeling. 


It is time for thee, Lord, to work; for they have made void thy law. 

VER. 126. 

IN the words we have (1.) A prayerful suggestion, it is time for thee, 
Lord, to work. (2.) The reason of it, for they have made void thy law. 
In the first branch take notice of 

1. The person to whom the address is made, for thee, Lord. 

2. The suggestion itself, what and when ; what they would have 
the Lord to do, to loork ; and when, even now, it is time to work. 

To open these, I begin with 

1. The person to whom the address is made, the Lord. Some read 
the words, It is time to work for thee, Lord, because they have made 
void thy law. It is time indeed to work for God, when so many work 
against him, in an evil generation ; lest the law should perish and fall 
to the ground, some should keep up the authority of it, and they that 
fear God are to encourage one another, Mai. iii. 16. The Chaldee 
paraphrase reads it, ' It is time to do the will of the Lord.' But the 

VER. 126.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 297 

Hebrew original carries it as we do, it is time for Jehovah to do. The 
Septuagint, tempos TOV iroi^aai ra> Kvpla. The vulgar Latin, Tempus 
faciendi, Domine. 

2. Here is the suggestion itself (1.) What they would have God 
to do. It is expressed by a general word, work ; as also Jer. xiv. 7, 
' Do, for thy name's sake.' What should he do ? Tempus mittendi 
Filium Dei, saith Augustine ; to set about the work of redemption, to 
send the Son of God. But that is a work rather to exercise and show 
forth his justice, power, and truth, both in punishing his enemies 
and delivering his people, to work his own proper work of justice, as 
becometh the judge of all the world to do ; namely, to punish the 
wicked, and help his servants out of their hands. (2.) When it is time. 
Then it seemeth to be a time when man's wickedness is grown to the 
height : Gen. xv. 16, 'In the fourth generation they shall come again, 
for the sins of the Amorites are not yet full.' Good men are put to 
the uttermost of their patience, and God's glory abused beyond mea 
sure, Isa. lii. 5. Lord, it is time to work ; they are as bad as bad may 
be ; thy people have quite spent all their faith and patience ; when 
thine ordinances and word are despised and affronted, and thy people 
trodden under foot, it is time for-thee to work. 

Secondly. Let us explain the reason, ' For they have made void thy 
law.' The law is made void two ways, formaliter et interpretative. 

1. Formally, when any deny the authority of God, as Pharaoh : 
Exod. v. 5, 'Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?' Or 
those rebels, Ps. xii. 4, ' Our lips are our own ; who is lord over us ?' 
Or we make void the law when we deny it to be given of God, as 
Marcion and his followers, that the law was given by an evil god. 
Many now question the scriptures themselves, or deny the obligation 
of the moral law to believers, as the antinomians and libertines, as 
the apostle telleth us, Rom. iii. 31, that we ' do not make void the law 
by faith ; yea, we establish the law.' It was the greatest ratification 
to it that could be. Or, finally, those that take upon them to enact 
things contrary to the law of God, or besides the law, as necessary to 
salvation, and enforce their own traditions beyond and before the law 
of God. These make void the law, as Christ telleth the pharisees 
that they ' made the commandments of God of no effect by their tra 
ditions,' Mat. xv. 6. Especially when they obtrude these things upon 
the consciences of others under the highest penalties. 

2. Interpretatively, when men by consequence take away the honour 
and authority that is due to the law, by their wickedness and rebellion 
against God. Though in words they acknowledge the authority of 
God and the obligation of his law, yet they have no respect to it in 
their carriage and practice, doing whatever pleaseth themselves, stand 
in no awe of God and his word, reject it as a thing of nought. Obedi 
ence to the law is a ratifying and confirming the law by our consent : 
Peut. xxvii. 26, ' Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of 
this law to do them.' Our words do not confirm the law so much as 
our works. So, on the contrary, they repeal or make void the law that 
observe it not in their practice. Finis operis is made finis operantis, 
as if they intended to abolish, whilst they make no reckoning of the 
law. Where observe, that this is a notion to make sin odious to us ; 


it is not only avofita, a transgression of the law, 1 John iii. 4 ; but a 
despising the law, 2 Sam. xii. 9 ; a judging or censuring the law, 
James iv. 11 ; yea, a repealing and disannulling the law, which is the 
notion of the text. 

Doct That when a flood of wickedness is broken out, we may put 
God in mind of doing his work of punishing the wicked and delivering 
his people. 

I shall give you the sum of this doctrine in these four considerations. 

1. That God doth for a while hold his hand, and bear with the 
wickedness of his enemies. 

2. Though he doth for a while bear with them, yet he hath his 
times to punish and proceed to execution. 

3. This time is usually when the impiety and insolency of wicked 
men is come to a height. 

4. When it is come to a height, we may and must mind God of 
doing his work, or arising to judgment. 

The first consideration is implied in the doctrine and the text ; the 
other three are express. 

First, It is implied that God doth for a while hold his hand, and 
not seem to mind his work. Though the least sin deserveth the 
greatest plagues, even when it is first committed, yet such is God's 
patience and long-suffering, that he wilt not at first punish even the 
sins of his enemies, but will let them ripen and come to a height before 
he smite. This he doth 

1. To show his bounty and goodness to all his creatures. He will 
not easily destroy the workmanship of his hands, even the provoking 
wicked ; but giveth them time to repent and change their course ; 
Kev. ii. 21, ' I gave her space to repent of her fornications, and she 
repented not.' The worst have leave to repent, means to repent, 
time to repent ; and if they have not the grace to repent, they may 
blame themselves : Rom. ix. 22, * He endured with much long-suffer 
ing the vessels of wrath, fitted for destruction,' ev n-oJOvy jj,aKpo0v/*ia. 
The reprobate taste of God's common goodness as they are members 
of the world, are forborne for a long time, till they be sear and rotten 
through, fit for the burning. Nay, let me observe this : God, that is 
very quick with his people, is very patient towards them that perish. 
God is quick with his own people ; he will visit their iniquities with 
scourges, and will not suffer sin to lie upon them ; and therefore they 
are chastened every morning. Yet this God is very patient to them 
that know no better, profess no better, have had no experience of his 
ways ; and though they finally perish, it is long first, till their sins do 
even extort vengeance out of his hands. 

2. To chastise, exercise, and prove his own people, he beareth with 
the wickedness of their enemies. 

[1.] To chastise them for their sins, that they may be brought low, 
and their souls be humbled to the dust. Certainly this God expects 
before he will appear for us : 1 Peter v. 6, ' Humble yourselves under 
the mighty hand of God.' And because his people are backward to 
this work, he perrnitteth such instruments as will not spare, but lay 
on to the purpose: Isa. x. 5, 6, ' Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, 
and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him 

VER. 126.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 299 

against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath 
will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and 
to tread them down like the mire of the streets.' When God is 
angry with his people, he can easily find a rod for them ; yea, not 
only a rod, but a staff, which is a more heavy instrument of correction : 
he can find instruments sufficiently exasperated, and full of malice, 
severe executioners ; and he lets them alone till they have done his 
work, though they manage his controversy with cruel minds, and evil 
and destructive intentions. Sometimes God punisheth his people with 
divisions among themselves ; and though they are very troublesome 
one to another, yet a sheep cannot worry a sheep, as a wolf will ; they 
do it to the purpose, in a most cruel and despiteful manner. Now, 
though he will reckon with wicked men for their violence, for trans 
gressing their bounds, and going beyond his revealed will and appro 
bation, Zech. i. 15, yet not till his work be done upon Mount Zion and 
Jerusalem : Isa. x. 12, ' When the Lord hath done his work upon 
Mount Zion and Jerusalem, I will punish the stout heart of the 
king of Assyria.' He will not cast the rod into the fire till we have 
felt the smart of it, and be thoroughly humbled under his mighty 

[2.] To exercise his people, that they may not contract rust, and 
languish and grow idle in heaven's way. Alas ! when we live at ease, 
and have nobody to trouble us, God is little owned, loved, and acknow 
ledged, the throne of grace lieth neglected and unfrequented; and 
therefore he permitteth enemies to keep us in breath : Ps. lix. 11, 
' Slay them not, lest my people forget/ Things in conceit do not 
leave such an impression upon us as things in feeling. Scipio would 
have Carthage stand, to whet and exercise the Eoman valour. We 
need vigilant enemies as a guard upon us, that we may be kept awef ul, 
serious, mindful of God, constantly in the exercise of faith and de 
pendence. Wicked men have their ministry and service, to be as 
goads in our sides and scourges on our backs, to whip us to our duty, 
and make us mend our pace heavenward : Ps. xciv. 12, ' Blessed is 
the man whom thou chastenest, and teachest him out of thy law ;' 
chastened by the molestations of the wicked, for all along he com- 
plaineth of the delay of vengeance on the persecutors ; and in the next 
verse he saith, ' Until the pit be digged for the wicked ; ' as con 
demned men are suffered to live till their gallows and grave be made 
ready : if they trouble us in the meanwhile, it is to reduce us to a 
sense and practice of our duty ; and that we may not securely go on 
in a course of vanity and sin. Till that be done, the pit is not ready 
for the wicked and ungodly oppressors ; they dig their own pit by their 
sin and oppression. 

[3.] To prove his people as well as to exercise them. To prove 
their faith and their patience ; their faith, to see whether they can 
live by faith, and not by sense and present appearance ; whether 
we are persuaded that there is a just and righteous God, that is the 
supreme governor of the world, notwithstanding all the oppositions 
and confusions they groan under: Hab. ii. 3, 4, 'Because it will surely 
come, and will not tarry. Behold, his soul that is lifted up is not 
upright in him, but the just shall live by his faith;' that is, the Lord's 


purpose in delating to perform the vision is to try and discover who 
are the lofty and unsound, and who can subsist and hold out by faith 
on God's being, and providence, and promises, and world to come, 
and so wait upon God in hard times without fainting. If God should 
smite as soon as his enemies provoke him, faith would be of no use, 
and the whole world would be governed by sense. To believe the 
justice and mercy of God, though for the time we do not see any 
manifestation of it, that is the trial of faith. We know there is 
one that sits above and seeth all. Though the world be in an uproar, 
and they that work wickedness are set up, and God's servants perse 
cuted, yet we know that God will reckon with them in due time. 
And secondly, to prove their patience, in bearing the present difficul 
ties, and tarrying the Lord's leisure : Eev. xiii. 10, ' Here is the pa 
tience and faith of the saints ;' that is, a sensible proof of it, when a 
powerful enem} 7 ' carrieth. all before him : there would be little use of 
such a grace but for such times. This is submission to God, when we 
are resolved to tarry for his season, though we know it not, and will 
wait as long as God will have us wait, when all human probabilities 
are taken away, and we have nothing but God's providence to live 

Second consideration. Though he bear long, yet he hath his times 
to punish and arise to judgment. 

1. With respect to himself and his own glory : Ps. ix. 16, ' The 
Lord is known by the judgment which he executeth/ Little of God 
would be taken notice of in the world unless he did now arid then 
give out sensible demonstrations of his power and justice, and mind- 
fulness of human affairs. What strange conceits would men else have 
of God ! as if no God, no providence, no distinction between good and 
evil ; but as if God were indifferent to either, and did favour good and 
bad alike : and therefore it is in vain to trouble ourselves about the 
worship and service of God, no reward nor punishment. These are 
the uses the wicked make of God's forbearance, either to deny God 
and providence : Ps. Iv. 19, * Because they have no changes, therefore 
they fear not God.' If they have shifted from vessel to vessel, they 
corrupt and settle upon the lees, Zeph. i. 12 ; they say God will not do 
good, neither will he do evil, nor interpose ; but suffereth enemies to 
trample upon his people arid glorious name. Or else pervert the inter 
pretation of providence : Ps. 1. 21. ' Thou thoughtest I was altogether 
such a one as thyself;' as if he did favour their ways. They misin 
terpret providence, and make the sun go according to their dial, or 
else ascribe the act of providence to themselves ; Deut. xxxii. 27, 
4 Lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the Lord hath not done 
all this/ When long permitted to prosper, they think they have 
mastered heaven, that there is no power superior to theirs, and they 
can carry all before them at their pleasure. Therefore God must 
vindicate himself by his works, and give out some demonstrations to 
sense that there is a distinction between good and evil ; that God is 
differently affected to either, that he hateth the evil and loveth the 
good, and accordingly there is a reward and punishment : Ps. Iviii. 
11, ' Verily there is a reward for the righteous.' God is fain to teach 
them by briers and thorns, or else the stupid world would not take 

VER. 126.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 301 

notice of it, but think the world is governed by chance, not adminis 
tered by an almighty, all-wise, and most just providence. They knew 
not what to think of providence when they saw the godly oppressed 
and the wicked high in power. 

2. With respect to his people. Surely God will not always chide ; 
for God considers the weakness of man : Ps. ciii. 14, ' He remembers 
we are but dust.' The hearts of his people would fail and faint, and 
they would be tempted to some forbidden course to ease themselves, 
Isa. lix. 16. He knows our spirits would fail ; God would not have 
us utterly to be discouraged. We are liable to temptations: Ps. 
cxxv. 3, ' The rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the 
righteous, lest the righteous put forth their hands to iniquity.' 
Therefore he hath his breathing times, and times of intermission 
from trouble. The spirits of a poor creature would soon be drunk 
up if there were not some well days ; therefore he will show himself 
to his people. 

3. With respect to the wicked, who would grow excessive and out 
rageous in sin : Rom. ii. 5, ' But after thy hardness and impenitent 
heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath ; ' 
Eccles. viii. 11, * Because sentence against an evil work is not executed 
speedily, therefore the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them 
to do evil ;' grow bold, resolute, and settled in an evil way ; go on 
without remorse, because they go on without trouble, and so grow to 
be monsters in sin. It is only faith that can see afar off, but infidelity 
and atheism mind not what is to come, and look only to what is pre 
sent. Well, then, lest wicked men should thus continue themselves 
in sin, God hath his time to reckon with them ; his justice is not 
asleep all this while, but God keeps a petty sessions in this world 
before the general assizes. Now concerning this time, let me tell you 
four things : 

[1.] There is a time appointed. There is an end of all things, not 
only an expected end. but also an appointed end : Hab. ii. 3, ' The 
vision is for an appointed time ; ' things are not left to their own 
hazard and chance to work out their own end; but ordered and 
appointed by the wise God : Dan. xi. 27, ' Yet the end shall be at 
the time appointed ; ; ver. 35, ' To try them, and purge them, and to 
make them white, even to the time of the end ; because it is yet for a 
time appointed.' There is a course of providence set by God which 
shall at length come to its end and period. 

[2.] This is the best time: 1 Peter v. 6, ' That he may exalt you 
in due time.' There is a due time, as well as a set time. There is 
nothing in the whole administration of God preposterous, unseason 
able, or disorderly. Wait but a little, and you shall see the reason of 
all this course of dispensations ; for God doth all things in number, 
weight, and measure. If it had come sooner or later, it would not 
have come so seasonably: Eccles. iii. 11, 'He hath made everything 
beautiful in its time.' When God's work is done, and all things .are 
put together, you will see a marvellous beauty in it. It is just with 
the work of providence as with the work of creation, every day's work 
was 'good ;' but when God saw all his works together, in their frame 
and correspondence, all was ' very good/ Gen. i. 31. We would 


think that God should come sooner to our deliverance : God is not 
slack, but we are too hasty ; if he should come sooner, it would be 
the worse for us. We would have thought God should have owned 
Joseph in the pit. No ; God stays till he be cast into prison ; and in 
prison Joseph would fain come out as soon as Pharaoh's butler was 
come out, but he forgot him. God would not have it so ; he must 
tarry there till God's time was come, and then had not only deliver 
ance out of prison, but preferment. So many times we would be 
contented with half a deliverance, and would have it now, but God 
will give it us in the best season. 

[3.] It is but a short time. Say sense what it will, it is but fJUKpov 
oo-ov oo-ov, ' a little little while, and he that shall come will come, and 
will not tarry/ Heb. x. 37. It is not so long as enemies would make 
it, for they would root out the memorial of God's children ; not so long 
as sin would make it, or as fancy would conceive it. Suffering hours 
pass tediously ; we count quarters and minutes when we are in pain or 
anxious expectation ; we think an hour a week, a week a month, a 
month a year, and every year seven. Yea, not so long as reason would 
make it as to probabilities and the course of second causes. When 
things are fortified and backed with a strong interest, to reason it 
will be a long time. It is not so long as sense would make it ; though 
we count the years, the winter is over, and the spring is come, and 
yet we are not saved, and can say, It is thus long ; yet this is not long 
in comparison of eternity, 2 Cor. iv. 17. It is not long to faith, for to 
the eye of faith things future and afar off are present, Heb. xi. 1. 
Not long to love, Gen. xxix. 20 : seven years are as a few days ; they 
that believe an eternity, and have any love to God, will say it is short. 
But a short walk is a long journey to the sick and weak ; the impa 
tience of our flesh makes it seem long. 

[4.] When the time is come, God will make speedy work : Isa. Ix. 
2, ' The Lord will hasten it in his time ; ' Luke xviii. 7, ' Shall not 
God avenge his own elect?' Kev. xviii. 7, 'Her plagues shall come 
in one day ; ' Isa. Ixvi. 8, ' A nation born in a day/ All these places 
show (and it is a comfort to us) that no difficulty shall hinder when the 
season calls for it. He that produced heaven and earth at once, what 
cannot he do ? We are dismayed when we consider an evil party 
fortified with combined interests, strength of opposite factions, force 
of laws and worldly powers - but God can make a nation be born in 
one day. It will be quick work when God once begins. 

Third consideration. This time is usually when the impiety and 
insolency of wicked men is come to a height. Indeed there are other 
notes ; as when his people's hearts are prepared to receive and improve 
deliverance, when God's glory calleth for it. But this is the season 
mentioned in the text ; therefore I shall show you 

1. That this is a season. 

2. Inquire when iniquity is come to a height. 

3. Why then God doth usually interpose. 

1. That this is a season : Gen. xv. 16, ' The sins of the Amorites 
are not yet full.' God showeth his patience to that wicked people, till 
the measure of their sins were filled up. So wrath came upon the 
persecuting Jews when they had filled up the measure of their fathers, 

YER. 126.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 303 

Mat. xxiii. 32. While the enemy's cup is a-filling, God delayeth, and 
we must wait. So Dan. viii. 23, ' When the transgressors are come to 
the full/ Once more, Joel iii. 13, ' Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is 
ripe ; come, get ye down, for the press is full, the fats overflow, for 
their wickedness is great/ The Lord compares sinners to a field of 
ripe corn ready to be cut, full fats and wine-presses to be trod out. 
When sin is ripe, the execution of vengeance will not be long forborne. 

2, When doth iniquity come to a height ? I answer Their ini 
quities may be considered as to the two branches of it their rebellion 
and disobedience to God, and their injuries and vexation of the 

[1.] Their disobedience and contempt of God. 

(1.) When this is general. All orders and ranks of persons have 
corrupted their way, as the Sodomites compassed the house, Gen. xix. 
4 ; both young and old, all the people from every quarter. Usually 
in making a judgment upon the state of a people, you will find it 
thus : If any part be right, it keeps off the judgment from the rest ; if 
a zealous magistracy, though a corrupt people, or an unsavoury 
ministry, and a praying, mourning people, God holds his hand, and 
will not proceed to judgment. They are * the salt of the earth/ Mat. 
v. 13 ; and Isa. vi. 13, ' The holy seed shall be the substance thereof/ 
But when all join in one, in a neglect of God, and common enmity to 
his ways ; then, I say, the judge of the earth will do his work, then 
wrath breaketh out. 

(2.) When it groweth impudent and outrageous, as if they would 
obliterate and extinguish the law of God, or take away all force and 
authority from it by their perverse . actions and pernicious examples. 
They do not obliquely, and under the show of divers pretences, break 
God's laws, but openly set themselves against him, and break a com 
mandment without any shame : Isa. iii. 9, ' They declare their sin as 
Sodom, and hide it not ;' yea, ' they glory in their shame/ Phil. iii. 
19 ; as if they would out-face heaven and religion at once, and all 
honesty and ingenuity by their debaucheries. Bold-faced sin doth not 
go long unpunished. 

(3.) Desperate incorrigibleness. All remedies are unprofitable, and 
hope of amendment taken away, Jer. vi. 3 ; Ezek. xxiv. 13, ' When 
God would have purged them, they would not be purged/ He trieth 
them with several conditions, he hath a love for them as they are his 
creatures ; judgments and mercies they had, yet they are no change 
lings, but go on as wicked as ever. God trieth key after key, one 
providence after another, yet not a whit the better or wiser ; but are 
like men that have slept : still abuse his patience, and defeat all the 
methods of his grace, show the same corruption they did before. 

(4.) When they run into unnatural sins, and the corruption of 
human society is endangered : Lev. xviii. 27, 28, ' For all these 
abominations have the men of the land done/ &c. ; when men are so 
wicked and filthy that a man needs to be a criminal to be acceptable 
to them; they think it strange that others run not into the same 
excess of riot, 1 Peter iv. 4 ; certainly then God needeth to strike in, 
that virtue may be upheld in some kind of reputation. 

[2.] Their violence and vexation of the saints. It was Bede's obser- 


vation, Odium in religionis professor es, &c. that hatred of the pro 
fessors of religion was that undid his country. God is angry when his 
people are wronged ; the world is kept up for their sakes. Were it 
not for the elect to be gathered, time would be no more ; for their 
sakes kingdoms and churches are preserved ; they are the staff and stay, 
the chariots and horsemen of Israel. God is tender of them as the 
apple of his eye ; therefore, when they are wronged, and men are not 
only evil themselves, but haters of those that are good, and do not 
only break God's laws themselves, but would force others to do so, 
God will hold no longer. As their violence increaseth, so doth their 
ruin hasten, Kev. xii. 12. When they abuse their power to such an 
end, though God may bear with them for a time till they have done 
their work, yet he will reckon with them : Zech. i. 15, ' I am sore dis 
pleased with the heathen that are at ease ; for I was a little displeased, 
and they helped forward the affliction.' God will not forget his rela 
tion to his sinning people, and will not suffer them to be abused out 
of measure. When they would destroy and root out whom God would 
only correct and purge, it is a sign of their approaching ruin. Now 
these things should be considered by us to a good end ; not to feed an 
evil humour, or to increase our hatred and exasperation against a 
party, whom, it may be, we hate too much already with a carnal 
hatred ; but to a good purpose. Partly that we may not be too con 
fident of carnal ease too soon. God will, it may be, have the enemies' 
cup yet fuller, and that they shall appear more in their own colours. 
And so our trials may be greater. We know not the bounds of the 
Lord's patience. We, that are apt to extenuate our own sins, are apt 
to aggravate the sins of others, look upon them in the glass of fashion, 
and cry too soon, It is time. But of this by and by. And partly that 
we may see the greatness of our transgressions, by which we have pro 
voked the Lord to give us up into the hands of such men as blaspheme 
his name every day, Isa. Hi. 5. Our sins were full in our kind, in 
the abuse of God's truth and worship ; and though not such moral 
wickedness, yet a great deal of spiritual wickedness. And God is 
more quick and severe upon us, and will not bear that in a professing 
people that he beareth in others : ' Judgment begins at the house of 
God/ 1 Peter iv. 17. The cup of trembling goes round, and his own 
people drink first, and our staggering is not yet over ; in time they shall 
pledge us. God beareth with Balaam, though he tempted him again 
and again, when he would not bear with the young prophet whom the 
lion slew. He bore with the Philistines a long time ere they were 
plagued. We feel the smart of the rod sooner, Zech. xii. Yet it is 
apparent oiir kind of sins were grown to a ripeness, our self-seeking, 
factions, turbulency, unquietness under government, abuse of Christian 
liberty, uncharitable divisions among ourselves, vexing one another, 
vain opinions, slighting God's ministers and ordinances. And partly 
that we may be humbled for their sins. It should be a grief to us to 
see men break God's laws, to see men out-dare heaven. David fasted 
for his enemies, Ps. xxxv. 14-16 ; and Ps. cxix. 136, ' Kivers of tears 
run down mine eyes, because men keep not thy law ;' because God is 
so much dishonoured, human nature so much corrupted. If more of 
this spirit were stirring, it were the better for us. And partly that we 

VER. 126.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 305 

may fear ourselves. We are bound up in the same community, and 
when God judgeth them, how shall we escape ? The Jews have a 
proverb, that two dry sticks may set a green one on fire. The mean 
ing is, the godly man may fall in the common calamity : wheat is 
plucked up with the tares. ' God saith in Deut. vii. 22, that they 
should not destroy all the Canaanites, ' lest the beasts of the field should 
increase upon them/ The safety of his people are involved in the 
safety of their sinning and persecuting enemies. A hedge of thorns 
may serve for a fence to a garden of roses, and all the relief we have 
is, The Lord can make a distinction : 2 Peter ii. 9, ' The Lord knoweth 
how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust 
unto the day of judgment to be punished.' 

3. Why doth God take this time ? (1.) For his own glory. His 
justice is more discovered when men have filled up their measure : 
Ps. li. 4, ' That thou mayest be justified when thou speakest, and be 
clear when thou judgest.' It justifieth God's proceedings, and maketh 
us the more inexcusable. So also his power ; it is God's time to send 
help and remedy, when all things are gone to utter confusion ; when 
things are at the most desperate pass, Ps. cxxiv. 3-5, in our low estate, 
then is God seen. (2.) Hereby God's work upon Mount Zion is pro 
moted. His people are humbled when their adversaries are chief, and 
rage against them : Ps. cxxiii. 4, ' Our soul is exceedingly filled with 
the scorning of those that are at ease, and with contempt of the proud.' 
When things come to extremity their prayers are quickened : Ps. 
cxxx. 1, ' Oat of the depths I cried unto thee, Lord.' They are 
fitted to prize mercy, Ps. cii. 13, 14. They that thought it no great 
matter to have a standing temple, delight in the dust of a ruinous 
heap. Then shepherds' tents look lovely, we set a higher rate on 
despised ordinances. In short, they are waiting and praying, and 
humbling their souls before God. 

Fourth consideration. When a flood of wickedness is thus broken 
out, we may mind God of the deliverance of his people. But what 
needs that ? Doth not God know his seasons, and will not he exactly 
observe them ? In the answer I shall show you why and how. 

1. Why ? (1.) Because God lovethto be awakened by the prayers 
of his people ; and when he hath a mind to work, he sets the spirit of 
prayer a-work : Jer. xxix. 11, 12, 'I know the thoughts that I think 
towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give 
you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go 
and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.' So thus and thus 
will I do : Ezek. xxxvi. 37, ' Yet for this will I be inquired of by the 
house of Israel.' We are to give a lift by our prayers ; it is a time 
of finding, Ps. xxxii. 6. (2.) He hath put an office upon us. God 
acts the part of a judge, we as solicitors and remembrancers : Isa. 
Ixii. 6,7, 'I have set watchmen upon thy walls, Jerusalem, which 
shall never hold their peace night nor day. Ye that make mention of 
the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest till he make Jeru 
salem a praise in the earth.' We are to put God in mind, so that we 
but do our duty. 

2. How ? The principle and manner must be right. 

[1.] The principle ; be sure it be not the impatiency of the flesh, or 



love to our own ease, or a mere tediousness and irksomeness of the 
cross. Be sure it be not passion and a principle of revenge, but a de 
sire of promoting his honour and vindicating his glory. David doth 
not say how troublesome they were to himself, but, T