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




EASTER, 1906 

Shelf Nb. 

Regifler No. 

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

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

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

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

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

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















SERMON CLIX. " Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteous 
ness, and thy law is the truth," ver. 142, 

CLX. "Trouble and anguish have taken hold of me, 
yet thy commandments are my delights," 
ver. 143, 14 

CLXL " The righteousness of thy testimonies is ever 

lasting : give me understanding, and I shafl 
live," ver. 144, . . . .24 

CLXLL "I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O 

Lord: I will keep thy statutes," ver. 145, . 36 

CLXIIL "I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O 

Lord : I will keep thy statutes," ver. 145, . 45 

CLXIY. ' I cried unto thee ; save me, and I shall keep 

thy testimonies," ver. 146,, . . 53 

^ CLXY. " I prevented the dawning of the morning, and 

cried : I hoped in thy word," ver. 147, . 66 

CLXVL "Mine eyes prevent the night^ratches, that I 

might meditate in thy word," ver. 148, . 77 

CLXYIL ** Hear my voice, according to thy loving-kind 
ness : O Lord, quicken me according to thy 
judgment," ver. 149, . . .83 

CLXVILL "They draw nigh that follow after mischief: 

they are far from thy law," ver. 150, . 96 

CLXTX. "Thou art near, O Lord; and all thy com 
mandments are truth," ver. 151, . . 101 

^ CLXX. " Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of 
old that thou has founded them for ever," 
ver. 152, 113 

CTiXXT. "Consider mine affliction, and deliver me; for 

I do not forget thy law," ver. 153, . 1'25 



SERMON CLXX1I. "Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken 

me according to thy word/' ver. 154, . 135 

CLXXIII. " Salvation is far from the wicked : for they 

seek not thy statutes/' ver. 155, . 145 

CLXXIV. " Great are thy tender mercies, O Lord : 
quicken me according to thy judgments," 
ver. 156, . . . .158 

CLXXV. "Princes have persecuted me without a 
cause : but my heart standeth in awe of 
thy word," ver. 161, . . . 166 

CLXXVI. <" I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth 

great spoil," ver. 162, . . .177 

CLXXVII. "I hate and abhor lying: but thy law do I 

love," ver. 163, . . . .180 

CLXXVIII. "Seven times a day do I praise thee, because 

of thy righteous judgments," ver. 164, . 189 

CLXXIX. "Great peace have they that love thy law, 

and nothing shall offend them," ver. 165, 199 

CLXXX. "Great peace have they that love thy law, 

and nothing shall offend them," ver. 165, 209 

CLXXXI. " Lord, I have hoped for thy salvation, and 

done thy commandments," ver. 166, . 218 

CLXXXII. "My soul hath kept thy testimonies, and I 

love them exceedingly," ver. 167, . 227 

CLXXXIII. "I have kept thy precepts and thy testi 
monies, for all my ways are before thee," 
ver. 168, . . . .236 

CLXXXIV. " My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast 

taught me thy statutes," ver. 171, . 245 

CLXXX V. "My tongue shall speak of thy word : for all 
thy commandments are righteousness," 
ver. 172, . . . . 254 

CLXXXVI. " Let thine hand help me : for I have chosen 

thy precepts," ver. 173, . . .263 

CLXXX VII. " I have longed for thy salvation, Lord; and 

thy law is my delight," ver. 174, .277 

CLXXXVIIL " I have longed for thy salvation, Lord; and 

thy law is my delight," ver. 174, . 285 

CLXXXIX. "Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and 

let thy judgments help me," ver. 175, . 292 

,, CXC. " I have gone astray like a lost sheep : seek 

thy servant; for I do not forget thy 
commandments," ver. 176, . 299 




SERMON I. " Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened 
unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and 
went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five 
of them were wise, and five were foolish," 
ver. 1, 2, . . 319 

II. "They that were foolish took their lamps, and 

took no oil with them : but the wise took oil 
in their vessels with their lamps," ver. 3, 4, . 331 

III. "They that were foolish took their lamps, and 
took no oil with them : but the wise took oil 
in their vessels with their lamps," ver. 3, 4, . 339 

IV. " While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered 

and slept," ver. 5, . . .348 

V. " While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered 

and slept. And at midnight there was a cry 
made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh ; go ye 
out to meet him," ver. 5, 6, . . . 360 

,, VI. " Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their 

lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, 
Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone 
out," ver. 7, 8, . . . . 371 

VII. "But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest 

there be not enough for us and you : but go 
ye rather to them that sell, and buy for your 
selves," ver. 9, .... 383 

VIII. "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom 
came ; and they that were ready went in with 
him to the marriage : and the door was shut," 
ver. 10, ..... 392 

IX. "Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying, 

Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered 
and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you 
not," ver. 11, 12, . . .404 

X. " Watch therefore ; for ye know neither the day 

nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh," 
ver. 13, . . . .413 

,, XI. "For the kingdom of heaven is as a man tra 

velling into a far country, who called his own 
servants, and delivered to them his goods. 
And unto one he gave five talents, to another 
two, to another one ; to every one according 
to his several ability," ver. 14, 15, . . 423 



SERMON XII. " Then he that had received the five talents went 
and traded with the same, and made them 
other five talents. Likewise he that had 
received two, he also gained other two. But 
he that had received one went and digged in 
the earth, and hid his lord's money," ver. 
16-18, . . . . . 434 

XIII. "After a long time the lord of those servants 
cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so 
he that had received five talents came and 
brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou 
deliveredst unto me five talents : behold, I 
have gained besides them five talents more. 
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good 
and faithful servant ; thou hast been faithful 
over a few things, I will make thee ruler over 
many things : enter thou into the joy of thy 
lord. He also that had received two talents 
came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me 
two talents : behold, I have gained two other 
talents besides them. His lord said unto him, 
Well done, good and faithful servant, thou 
hast been faithful over a few things, I will 
make thee ruler over many things : enter thou 
into the joy of thy lord," ver. 19-23, . 447 

XIV. " Then he which had received the one talent came 
and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an 
hard man, reaping where thou hast not sowed, 
and gathering where thou hast not strawed : 
and I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent 
in the earth : lo, there thou hast that is thine," 
ver. 24, 25, 461 

XV. " His lord said unto him, Thou wicked and sloth 

ful servant, thou knewest that I reaped where 
I sowed not, and gathered where I have not 
strawed ; thou oughtest therefore to have put 
my money to the exchangers, and then at my 
coming I should have received mine own with 
usury," ver. 26, 27, . . . . 470 

-XVI. "Take therefore the talent from him, and give 
it to him which hath ten talents. For unto 
every one that hath shall be given, and he 
shall have abundance ; but from him that 
hath not shall be taken away even that which 
he hath," ver. 28, 29, ... 482 




Tliy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law 
is the truth. VER. 142. 

IN this verse the word of God is set forth by a double notion, of right 
eousness and law ; accordingly two things are predicated of it : as it 
is righteousness, it is said to be an everlasting righteousness ; and as 
it is law, it is said to be the truth. Both imply our duty : as there 
are truths in the word, it is man's duty to believe them ; as there are 
commands, it is man's duty to obey them. I shall treat first of the 
notions, secondly of the predications. 

First, The notions; and there the word is first called righteousness, 
* Thy righteousness/ God's righteousness is sometimes put for the 
righteousness which is in God himself ; as ver. 137, ' Kighteous art 
thou, Lord ; ' Ps. cxlv. 17, ' The Lord is righteous in all his ways/ 
And sometimes for the righteousness which he requireth of us ; as 
James i. 20, ' The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of 
God ; ' that is, the righteousness which God requireth of us ; and 
here in the text. Once more, that righteousness which God requireth 
of us in his word is sometimes taken, in a limited sense, for the 
duties of the second table, and so usually when it is coupled with 
holiness, Luke i. 75 ; Eph. iv. 24, ' The new man is created after 
God in righteousness and true holiness.' Holiness giveth God his 
due, and righteousness giveth man his due. Sometimes it is taken in 
a more general sense, as to imply the whole duty and perfection of 
man ; thus righteousness when it is put alone. 

In this general sense I take it here, and observe this point 

1. The word of God is righteousness. This is one of the notions by 
which it is expressed in this psalm ; so it is called in the text. 

The reasons. 

[1.] Because it is the copy of that righteousness which is in God. 
God's natural perfections are represented in the creatures, his majesty 
and omnipresence in the sun, but his moral perfections in the word. 


The heavens declare his excellent majesty and glory, but his law, his 
purity, righteousness, and holiness Ps. xix., the sun and the law are 
compared together, as the creatures in their kind set forth God, so 
doth the word in its kind. Well may it be called righteousness, be 
cause it is the fairest draught and representation of God in his moral 
perfections, the chief of which are called righteousness and holiness. 
The knowledge we get by the creatures tendeth to exalt God ; the 
knowledge we get by the law to humble and abase man, because of 
our impurity ; and therefore the prophet, when he saw God, cried out, 
Isa. vi. 3, 'Woe is me ! I am undone; I am a man of unclean lips ; ' 
and David, when he contemplated the holiness of the law, cried out 
presently, Ps. xix. 12, ' Lord, cleanse me from my secret sins/ 

[2.] It is the riile,and pattern of all righteousness and justice in man ; 
for our righteousness is a conformity to God's 'law. Indeed, habitual 
righteousness is a conformity to God's nature ; actual righteousness, to 
his law. His Spirit reneweth our nature according to the image of 
God, and telleth us what is pleasing to God : Isa. li. 7, ' Hearken unto 
me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law/ 
They that have the law of God in their hearts do only know righteous 
ness, that is, know what belongs to it ; the new nature is tried, and 
all our ways tried by it. 

[3.] It is the great instrument to promote righteousness. It maketh 
the man that doth observe it just and righteous before God. There is 
a twofold righteousness before God the righteousness of justification 
and the righteousness of sanctification. The righteousness of justifi 
cation, that is the great truth revealed in the scriptures. Nature saw 
nothing of that ; the heathen saw something of a breach, that there 
was need of appeasing God, but nothing of a righteousness before God : 
that secret was hid from the wise men of the world, and reserved for 
the scriptures ; and therefore the apostle saith, Horn. iii. 21, 22, ( But 
now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being 
witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God, 
which is by Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all that believe/ The 
law and the prophets set forth this mystery to teach men, that we are 
to be justified before God by faith in Christ. Nature could convince 
us of guilt, but not of a righteousness. 

2. For the way of sanctification, or how a man that is justified 
should approve himself to God and men. The scripture crieth up 
another righteousness, that becorneth justified persons; that is, the 
way to be righteous is to do righteousness : 1 John iii. 7, ' Little 
children, let no man deceive you ; he that doth righteousness is right 
eous/ So it is said of Zacharias and Elizabeth, Luke i. 6, that * they 
were righteous before God, and walked in all the commandments and 
ordinances of the Lord blameless/ So Deut. vi. 25, ' And it shall be 
our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments, before 
the Lord our God, as he commanded us/ This wisdom we learn from 
the word, where nothing but righteousness is recommended ; for it 
cometh from the righteous God, who is essentially good and holy, and 
cannot be contrary to himself in commanding unjust things : and 
therefore his commandments are in all points right. There is no way 
right to prove principles but by arguing ab absurdis, and so prove 

VER. 142.] SERMONS UPON PSALM oxix. 5 

the goodness of them. What a miserable case would the world be in 
if there were not such a law and rule ! a place of villanies and wicked 
ness. And therefore here is righteousness, and all righteousness ; we 
need not seek further for direction. Sure God can tell what will best 
please him, and our sense and experience inform us what things are 
good and honest in the sight of men. 

Use. Let us live as becometh them that have such a righteous rule : 
* Wisdom is justified of her children/ Mat. xi. 19. Let us bear wit 
ness by our faith, profession, and godly life to the doctrine of God. 
This is to glorify the word, Acts xiii. 40, when we express the excel 
lencies of it in our practice ; do not only approve it in our judg 
ments, and commend it with our mouths, but express it in our 
lives. Practice glorifieth more than verbal praise. Let us show that 
the word is righteousness , that is to say, the copy of God's righteous 
ness, by being the rule and instrument of ours. Let us look after the 
righteousness of justification. We can never be truly righteous, unless 
we lay the foundation of the spiritual life in faith in Jesus Christ, and 
repentance from dead works, that maketh way for the spirit and power 
of godliness ; for Christ is made of God to us righteousness before he 
is made sanctification, 1 Cor. i. 30. There is no acceptance with God 
without it : Horn. v. 19, ' By the obedience of one, many were made 
righteous.' Thereby our persons are accepted. In ourselves there is 
none righteous, no not one ; and it is dangerous to look after any other 
righteousness while this is neglected : Kom. x. 3, ' Being ignorant of 
God's righteousness, they went about to establish their own righteous 
ness/ &c. Again, let me press you to look after the righteousness of 
sanctification, to see that we be renewed by the Spirit, and entered 
into a holy course ; and not only so, but we go on still in righteous 
ness : Kev. xxii. 11, ' He that is righteous, let him be righteous still.' 
We are renewed but in part : Prov xv. 9, ' The Lord loveth him that 
followeth after righteousness ; ' that maketh it his business to grow 
more righteous every day, and increase the acts, to perfect the habit ; 
this earnest endeavour must never be left off. 

Secondly, Now I come from the notion to the predication. This 
righteousness, it is an everlasting righteousness : it is so in two respects 
in the constitution among men, and in the effects of it. 

1. In the constitution of it. The covenant of grace is an everlast 
ing covenant ; so it is called Heb. xiii. 20 ; and the gospel is called 
the ' everlasting gospel/ Kev. xiv. 6 ; and ' I will make an everlasting 
covenant with you/ Isa. Iv. 3. The privileges of this covenant are 
eternal. Christ ' hath obtained an eternal redemption for us/ Heb. ix. 
12 ; Dan. ix. 24. There is an unchangeable righteousness which 
Christ hath established in the church ; he is the Lord our righteous 
ness. His righteousness is still the same, and the plot was first laid in 
his everlasting decrees. The terms of life and salvation held forth in 
the new covenant are to continue for ever, no change to be expected. 
From the beginning of the world to the end thereof, the covenant of 
grace cannot cease ; the obligation still continueth ; men are for ever 
bound to love God and their neighbour. There shall no time come 
when the law of loving God and our neighbour shall be reversed and 
out of date. The covenant is essentially the same, under all the diver- 


sity of administrations. And as the privileges, so the duties are of an 
eternal obligation. Among men, ra Sl/caia xwovpeva, that is just at 
one time that is not just at another. Lawgivers cannot always live 
to see their laws executed, and men cannot foresee all occasions and 
inconveniences, and therefore often repeal their laws. But God is wise ; 
he hath made an unchangeable law, and he forbiddeth things intrin 
sically evil, and commandeth things intrinsically good. 

2. As to the effects of it, in case of obedience or disobedience. 
(1.) In case of disobedience, eternal wrath lighteth on them that 
reject this covenant, that walk contrary to it, they shall be eternally 
miserable : 2 Thes. i. 9, ' Who shall be punished with, everlasting 
destruction from the presence of the Lord.' Not a temporal but an 
everlasting destruction; and Mark ix. 44, 'The worm shall never 
die, and the fire shall never be quenched.' An eternity of torments, 
because they despised everlasting mercy, and rejected the autho 
rity of an everlasting God. Having offended an infinite God, their 
punishment abideth on them for ever. If they will stand out their 
day, it is fit their recovery should be hopeless. (2.) The benefits 
are eternal in case of obedience. There is everlasting grace, ever 
lasting comfort, and everlasting life : 1 John ii. 17, ' The world 
passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the word of God 
abideth for ever.' The Spirit is given as a comforter that shall 
abide for ever, John xiv. 16 ; and 2 Thes. ii. 16, ' God who hath 
loved us, and given us everlasting consolation, and good hope through 
grace/ And it is fit it should be so, because it is built upon God's 
unchangeable love, and Christ's eternal merit and intercession. God's 
love is an everlasting love, Jer. xxxi. 3. The efficacy of Christ's merit 
never ceaseth, Heb. xiii. 8. His continual intercession ever lasteth, 
Heb. vii. 25 , and Bom. viii. 39, ' Nothing shall separate us from the 
love of Christ.' He liveth for ever, by which we continue for ever in 
the favour of God, and the covenant standeth firm between him and 
us ; the fountain of comfort is never dried up. 

Use 1. To inform us of the difference between the laws of God and 
the laws of men. There are many differences, some of which I shall 
touch by and by ; this expression offereth two it is righteousness, and 
everlasting righteousness. 

1. It is righteousness. Men have and do often decree wickedness 
by a law, not only in the first table, where man is most blind, but also 
in the second ; not only in their barbarous worship, their sacrificing ot 
men, but also in their human constitutions. The Lacedemonians 
held it lawful to steal, if he were not taken eV avrS) ^e/oew, in the very 
act. In Cyprus they held it lawful for their virgins, if they were poor, 
to prostitute themselves to get a dowry or portion. By the law of the 
twelve tables a man might kill his wife if she smelt of wine or coun 
terfeited his keys. And among the Komans, if a slave had killed his 
master, all his fellow-slaves were put to death with him, though never 
so innocent. By the same laws, a father might thrice sell his child ; 
they might tear their debtors in pieces if they were not solvent. Thus 
blind were men in their own concerns and what made for human com 
merce ; much more in the way of pleasing God and the interest of the 
world to come. Bless God for this righteous law. Again 

VER. 142.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 7 

2. It is everlasting righteousness ; not only righteous at the first 
giving out, but righteous in all ages and times ; and should we slight 
this rule that will hold for ever ? In the world, new lords new laws ; 
men vary and change their designs and purposes ; privileges granted 
to-day may be repealed to-morrow, but this word will hold true for 
ever ; our justification by Christ is irrevocable, that part of righteous 
ness is everlasting. Be sure you are justified now, upon terms of the 
gospel, and you shall be justified for ever ; your forgiveness is an ever 
lasting forgiveness, and your peace is an everlasting peace: Jer. xxxiii. 
34, ' I will remember your sins no more.' So the other righteousness 
of sanctification, it is for ever. Approve yourselves to God now, and 
you will approve yourselves at the day of judgment. 

Use 2. Exhortation. 

1. Let this take us off from seeking things that have no continuance 
in them. The everlastingness of the word is opposed often to the 
transitory vanities of the world : 1 Peter i. 23-24, * All flesh is grass, 
and the glory of man as the flower of grass : the grass withereth, 
.and the flower falleth away, but the word of the Lord endureth for 
ever.' Why should we hunt after that glory that soon fadeth ? So 
1 John ii. 17, ' The world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he 
that doeth the will of God abideth for ever/ All these things change, 
and move up and down by divers circumrotations ; we sit fast and 
loose in the world, but in the covenant of grace all is sure. 

2. Let us choose this word to live by, that we may be partakers of that 
everlasting good which cometh by it. Oh, let us regard it 1 Eternity 
is concerned in it. If the righteousness of God be everlasting, let us 
begin betimes to get interested in it, and persevere in it to the end. 
Let us begin betimes, for we have but a few days to live here in the 
world, and so either to express our thankfulness or lay a foundation 
for our eternal hopes ; therefore let us set about the work the sooner. 
And let us persevere ; our care to keep this law must be perpetual, not 
like temporaries. Many will carry themselves well and godly for a 
while, but afterwards fall off ; this doth not become an everlasting law ; 
there is the same goodness in God's law that there was at first. 

3. Let us comfort ourselves with the everlastingness of the privi 
leges offered to us in God's word. The redeemed of the Lord should 
have an everlasting joy : Isa. xxxv. 10, ' And the ransomed of the 
Lord shall return, arid come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy 
upon their heads/ Let other things end and change as they will, 
our right by the new covenant changeth not. Sometimes we are in 
request in the world, and sometimes in disgrace ; but God's love is 
everlasting and sure. We are not in with him to-day and out to 
morrow ; he hath dealt with us upon sure and unchangeable terms ; 
nay, when you die, you may comfort yourselves in this, Ps. ciii. 17, 
' The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, upon them 
that fear him, and his righteousness upon children's children/ Yea, 
not only in the changes of your outward condition is here an everlast 
ing spring of comfort, but also in the ups and downs of your spiritual 
condition, and the clouds which now and then darken your comfort 
and hope in God. In a time of desertion we seem to be dead and cast 
off ; yet remember God loves to be bound for ever : 2 Sam. xxiii. 5, 


' Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made an ever 
lasting covenant/ Though we are not so punctual, exact, and faith 
ful, but are subject to many errors and failings, yet God will mind his 
eternal covenant : Ps. Ixxxix. 33-34, * Nevertheless my loving-kind 
ness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to 
fail ; my covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out 
of my lips.' Death doth not dissolve it, nor desertions break it off. 

Now for the second notion by which the word of God is expressed, 
' thy law,' from whence observe 

Doct. That the word of God hath the nature and force of a law. 

It is often so called in scripture ; not only the decalogue, which is 
the abridgment of all moral duties, but the whole scripture is God's- 
law: Isa. li. 4, 'A Jaw shall proceed from me;' and Ps. i. 2, 'His 
delight is in the law of God ; ' and the gospel is called ' the law of 
faith/ Rom. iii. 28. Here I shall show you how necessary it was that 
God should give man a law, both as we are considered apart, and with 
respect to community ; and then show that the word hath the force of 
a law. 

1. Consider man apart. Surely the reasonable creature, as it is a 
creature, hath a superior to whose providence and ordering it is sub 
ject. So all the creatures have a law, by which the bounds of their 
motion are fixed and limited : Ps. clxviii. 6, * He hath established 
them for ever and ever; he hath made a decree which shall not pass ; > 
Prov. viii. 29, * He gave the sea his decree, that the waters should 
not pass his commandment.' The sun, moon, and stars are under a 
law ; all the creatures are balanced in a due proportion, and guided 
and fixed in their tract and course by an unerring hand, which is a 
kind of law to them. As a creature, man is subject to the direction 
of God's providence, as other creatures are; but as a reasonable 
creature, he is capable of moral government ; for so he hath a choice 
of his own, a power of refusing evil and choosing good. Other 
creatures are ruled by a rod of iron, necessitated to what they do by an 
act of God's power and sovereignty ; but man, being a voluntary agent, 
is governed by laws which may direct and oblige him to good, and 
warn and drive him from evil. This law was at first written upon 
man's nature, and that was sufficient while he stood in his integrity to- 
guide him and enable him to serve and please God in all things pro 
pounded to him. The law written on the heart of man was his rule- 
and principle. But that being obliterated by the fall, it was needful 
that God should give a new law, to guide man to his own blessedness, 
and to keep him from erring. The internal principle of righteousness 
being lost, the laws of men could not be sufficient, for they have 
another end, which is the good of human society. They aim not at 
such a supernatural end as the enjoyment of God ; their laws reach no^ 
further than the ordering of men's outward conversations, and meddle 
not with the inward workings and motions of the heart, of which they 
can take no cognisance. These may be inordinate, do a great deal of 
mischief ^ therefore, as the wise God directed men to give laws to order 
men's actions, so he would himself give laws to order the heart, which 
man cannot reach. Lay all these together, and there is a necessity 
that God should give a law to man. 

VER. 142.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 9 

'2. But much more if you consider man in his community, as he is 
a part of that spiritual community called a church. All societies of 
men from the beginning of the world have found the establishing of 
laws the only means to preserve themselves from ruin. There is no 
other way against confusion ; and would God leave that society which 
is of his own institution, that of which he is the head, and in which his 
honour is concerned, without a law ? Deut. xxxii. 9, ' The Lord's 
portion is his people/ which was set apart to serve him, and to be to 
him for a name and a praise. Surely a people that have God so near 
them, and are in special relation to him, have their laws by which they 
may be governed and preserved as to their eternal good, unless we 
should say God took less care for his own people than for others. This 
necessity is the greater because this society is spiritual ; though made 
up of visible men, yet combined for spiritual ends, commerce and 
communion with God, and that mostly in their spirits, which maketh 
this society the hardest to be governed, and this, the most scattered and 
dispersed of all societies throughout all parts of the earth, should 
therefore be knit together with the strongest bonds. Surely then 
there needeth a common law, whereby they may be united in their 
conjunction with Christ, the head, and one another, that it may not 
be broken in pieces ; and this to be given by God, that he may pre 
serve his own authority and interest among them. 

This law is the scripture, those sacred digests in which God hath 
discovered not only his wisdom and justice, but his will and imperial 
power, what he will have us do. The one showeth the equity, the 
other the necessity of our obedience ; surely this is his law or none. 
The church to whom the law was given, God hath constituted the 
keeper of its own records ; never acknowledge another ; nor can any 
other make any tolerable pretence. 

Now, having brought the matter home, I shall show you wherein it 
hath the nature and force of a law, as we commonly take the word ; 
and here I shall 

1. Show you wherein it agrees. 

2. Wherein it differs from the ordinary laws of men. 
1. Wherein it agreeth. 

[1.] A law is an act of power and sovereignty by which a superior 
declare th his will to those that are subject to him. There are two 
branches of the supreme power legislation and jurisdiction ; giving 
the law, and governing according to the law so given. And so God's 
power over the reasonable creature is seen in legislation, and in the 
administration of his providence there is his jurisdiction. In the scrip 
ture he hath given the law, and he will take an account of the observ 
ance of it ; in part here, at the petty sessions ; hereafter, more fully 
and clearly at the day of general judgment. But for the present, here 
is God's power seen over the creature in appointing him such a law. 
God hath the greatest right and authority to command : Isa. xxxiii. 
22, ' The Lord is our judge and our lawgiver.' 

[2.] That there is not only direction given to us, but an obligation 
laid upon us. There is this difference between a law and a rule a 
bare rule is for information, a law for obligation. So herein the word 
of God agrees with a law ; it is not only the result of God's wisdom, 


but the effect of his legislative will. He would not only help and 
instruct the creature in his duty, hut oblige f him by his authority. 
Decretum nccessitatem facit^ exhortatio liberam voluntatem excitat, 
saith the canonist. Exhortation and advice properly serveth to quicken 
one that is free, but a decree and a law imposeth a force, a necessity 
upon him. So Hierome, lib. ii. contra Jovin Ubi consilium datur 
operantis arbitrium est, ubi prceceptum necessitous servitutis. A counsel 
and a precept differ ; a precept respects subjects, a counsel, friends. 
The scriptures are not only God's counsel, but his precept. There is a 
coactive power in his laws. God hath not left the creature at liberty 
to comply with his directions if he please, but hath left a strict charge 
upon him. 

[3.] Every law hajih a sanction, otherwise it were but an arbitrary 
direction ; the authority might be contemned unless it hath a sanction, 
that is, confirmed by rewards and punishments ; so hath God given his 
law under the highest penalties : Mark xvi. 16, 'He that believeth shall 
be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned;' Gal. vi. 8, 'If 
ye sow to the flesh, of the flesh ye shall reap corruption;' Kom. viii. 
13, ' If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die/ God telleth them what will 
come of it, and commandeth them to abstain as they will answer to 
God at their utmost peril. The obligation of a law, first, inferreth a 
fault, that is, contempt of authority ; so doth God's, as it is his law, 
and so it will infer a fault in us to break it ; and as we reject his counsel, 
it inferreth punishment, and the greater punishment the more we know 
of God's law : Kom. ii. 9, ' Tribulation, wrath, and anguish upon every 
soul that doeth evil, upon the Jew first, and also upon the Gentile.' 
Why the Jew first ? They knew God's mind more clearly. 

[4.] A sanction supposeth a judge, who will take an account whether 
his law be broken or kept, otherwise all the promises and threatenings 
were in vain. The law, that is the rule of our obedience, is the rule of 
his process ; so the word of God hath this in common with other laws ; 
therefore God hath appointed a judge and a j udgment-day wherein he 
will judge the world in righteousness, by the man whom he hath 
appointed ; and 2 Thes. i. 8, ' He will come in flaming fire, to render 
vengeance on all them that know not God, and obey not the gospel/ 
According to the law they have been under, Gentiles, Christians, they 
must all appear before the Lord, to give an account how they have 
observed God's law. Now in patience he beareth with men, yet some 
times interposeth by particular judgments, but then they shall receive 
their final doom. 

2. Let us see wherein they differ from ordinary laws among men. 

[1.] Man in his laws doth not debate matters with his subjects, but 
barely enjoineth and interposeth authority ; but God condescendeth 
to the infirmities of man, and cometh down from the throne of his 
sovereignty, and reasoneth with and persuadeth and prayeth men that 
they will not forsake their own mercies, but yield obedience to his laws, 
which he convinceth them are for their good : Isa. xlvi. 8, ' Remember 
this, show yourselves men ; bring it to mind again, ye transgressors ; ' 
Isa. i. 18, * Let us reason together, saith the Lord/ God is pleased to 
stoop to sorry creatures, to argue with them, and make them judges in 
their own cause : Micah vi. 2, 3, he will plead with Israel, ' my 

VER. 142.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 11 

people, what have I done unto thee ? and wherein have I wearied 
thee ? Testify against we.' He will plead with Israel about the equity 
of his laws, whether they are not for their good. It is a lessening of 
authority for princes to court their subjects they command them ; 
but God will beseech and expostulate and argue with his people ; 
2 Cor. v. 20, he draws with the cords of a man, sweetly alluring their 
hearts to him. 

[2.] The laws of God bind the conscience and the immortal souls of 
men ; the laws of men only bind the behaviour of the outward man, 
they cannot order the heart. God takes notice of a wanton glance, of 
an unclean thought, a carnal motion, Mat. v. 28. Men's words and 
actions are liable to the laws of men ; they cannot know the thoughts ; 
but the law of God falls upon the counsels of the heart : Eom. vii. 14, 
* For I know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal ; ' Heb. iv. 12, 
' It is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.' 

[3.] The law of God immutably and indispensably bindeth all men 
without distinction ; no man beggeth exemption here because of their 
condition ; there is no immunity and freedom from God's law. Men 
may grant immunity from their laws : 1 Sam. xvii. 25, ' He will make 
his father's house free in Israel.' Men's laws are compared to spiders' 
webs ; the lesser flies are entangled, great ones break through. God 
doth not exempt any creature from duty to him, but speaketh impar 
tially to all. 

[4.] Men's laws do more propend to punishment than they do to 
reward. For robbers and manslayers death is appointed, but the inno 
cent subject hath only this reward, that he doth his duty, and 
escapeth these punishments. In very few cases doth the law promise 
rewards ; the inflicting of punishments is its proper work, because its 
use is to restrain evil ; but God's law propoundeth punishments equal 
to the rewards ; eternal life on the one hand, as well as eternal death 
on the other : Deut. xxx. 15, ' See I have set before thee this day life 
and good, death and evil;' because the use of God's law is to guide 
men to their happiness. This should be much observed ; it is legis 
candor, the equity and condescension of man's law to speak of a reward ; 
it commands many things, forbids many things, but still under a 
penalty ; that is the great design of man's power ; in very few cases 
doth it invite men to their duty by a reward ; only in such cases where 
every good man would not do his duty. It is more exact and vigi 
lant in its proper and natural work of punishing the disobedient, 
that wickedness should not go unpunished ; the common peace 
requireth that ; but that good should be rewarded, there is no human 
necessity. Human laws were not invented to reward good, but pre 
vent evil. 

Use. Let us humble ourselves that we bear so little respect to God's 
word, that we so boldly break it, and are so little affected with our 
breaches of it. Do we indeed consider that this is God's law ? The 
greatest part of mankind fear the prince more than God, and the gal 
lows more than hell. If every vain thought or carnal motion in our 
hearts were as the cutting of a finger or burning in the hand, men 
would seem more afraid of that than they are of hell. Nay, I will tell 
you, men can dispense with God's law to comply with man's : Hosea 


v. 11, 'Ephraim is oppressed, an* broken in judgment, because he 
willingly walked after the commandment/ A little danger will draw 
men into the snare, when hell will not keep them from it. Oh, let us 
rouse up ourselves ! Is not man God's subject ? Is he not a more 
powerful sovereign than all the potentates in the world ? Doth he not 
in his word give judgment on the everlasting estate of men, and will 
his judgment be in vain ? Hath not God appointed a day when all 
matters shall be taken into consideration? If you can deny these 
truths, go on in sin and spare not ; but if conscience be sensible of 
God's authority, oh ! break off your sins by repentance, and walk more 
cautiously for the time to come ! Every sin is avo^la, 1 John iii. 4, 
a breach of God's eternal law ; and will God always wink at your dis 
loyalty to him ? 

Nothing remaineth to be spoken to but the last clause, * Thy law is 

Doct. God's law is truth. 

1. I shall show in what sense it is said to be truth. 

2. The reasons why it is truth. 

3. The end of this truth. 

First, In what sense it is said to be truth. 

1. It is the chief truth ; there is some truth in the laws of men and 
the writings of men, even of heathens; but they are but sorry frag 
ments and scraps of truth, that have escaped since the fall ; but the 
truth of the word is transcendent to that of bare reason. Here are 
truths of the greatest concernment, matters propounded that are very 
comfortable and profitable to lost sinners, 1 Tim. ii. 16. Here moral 
duties are advanced to the highest pitch : Deut. iv. 6, ' Keep therefore 
and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the 
sight of the nations/ The end of these is not only to regulate your 
commerce with men, but to guide you in your communion with God,, 
and help you to the everlasting enjoyment of him. 

2. It is the only truth, that is, the only revelation of the mind of 
God that you can build upon ; it is the rule of truth. A thing may 
be true that is not the rule of truth. There is veritas regulata, and 
veritas regulans ; the word is the measure and standard, and they are 
true or false as they agree or disagree with it. Every custom and 
tradition must be tried upon it ; from the beginning it was not so ; 
from the beginning, my Christianity is Jesus Christ. We must not 
attend to what others did, but what Christ did, who is before all; 
every dictate of reason must be tried by it, for here is the highest 
reason. It is written to make the man of God perfect, or else it can 
not guide you to your happiness, 2 Tim. iii. 15, 16. Every revelation 
must be tried by it, Gal. i. 8. If an angel or man bring any doctrine 
which differs from or is besides the written word, it is a cursed doctrine : 
this is the rule. 

3. It is the pure truth ; in it there is nothing but the truth, without 
the mixture of falsehood ; every part is true as truth itself. It is true 
in the promises, true in the threatenings, true in the doctrines, true in 
the histories, true in the precepts, true in the prohibitions. God will 
make it good to a tittle. True in moralities, true in the mysteries of 
faith ; not only true in duties that concern man and man, but in the 


sublimer truths that concern commerce with God, where nature is 
more blind : Ps. xix. 9, ' The testimonies of the Lord are true and 
righteous altogether.' It is true where a carnal man would not have 
ittrue, in the curses and threatenings. If God's word be true, woe to 
them that remain in a sinful way, they shall find it true shortly, and 
feel what they will not believe. It is true where a godly man feareth 
it will not be true ; no promises contradicted by sense but will prove 
true in their performance. Whatsoever, in the hour of temptation, 
carnal reason may judge to the contrary, within a while you will see 
your unbelieving fears confuted. 

4. It is the whole truth ; it containeth all things necessary for the 
salvation of those that yield up themselves to be instructed by it: 
John xiv. 26, * He shall teach you all things,' and remember you of all 
things ; ' John xvi. 13, ' Lead you into all truth ; ' in all things that 
pertain to religion and our present conduct towards everlasting happi 
ness. Therefore nothing is to be hearkened to contrary to what God 
hath revealed in his word ; there is no room left for tradition, nor for 
extraordinary revelations ; all that is necessary for the church is re 
vealed there ; it is a full perfect rule. 

Secondly, The reasons. 

1. From the author ; God is a God of truth, and nothing but truth 
can come from him, for God cannot lie, Titus i. 2. The truth of the 
law dependeth upon the truth of God ; therefore it must needs be 
without error ; yea, it corrects all error ; if God could deceive or be 
deceived, you might suspect his word. 

2. The matter itself ; it commends itself to our consciences by the 
manifestation of the truth : 2 Cor. iv. 2, ' Approving yourselves by the 
word of truth,' 2 Cor. vi. 7. If the heart be not strangely perverted, 
and become an incompetent judge by obstinate atheism and corrupt 
affections, it cannot but own these truths to be of God : ' If our gospel 
be hid, it is hid to them that are lost/ 1 Cor. iv. 4. 

3. The end of it, which is to regulate man and sanctify man. Now 
it were strange if he should be made better by a lie and a cheat : John 
xvii. 17, ' Sanctify them tty thy truth ; thy word is truth.' Certainly it 
is the most convenient instrument to reduce man to his wits, and 
make him live like a man. 

4. It pretends to be the law of God ; it is so, or else it would be the 
greatest cheat in the world ; for it speaketh to us from God all along, 
and by virtue of his authority. None can be so brutish as to think 
that the wisest course of doctrines that ever the world was acquainted 
with is a mere imposture. 

Use 1. To commend the word of God to us ; we cannot have true 
doctrine, nor true piety, nor true consolation without the scriptures. 
Not true doctrine : Isa. viii. 20, ' To the law and to the testimony, if 
they speak not according to this word, there is no light in them/ It 
is to be condemned of falsehood, if not according to the word. You 
cannot have true holiness, for holiness is but scripture digested and 
put in practice, James i. 18. The foundation of the spiritual life is 
laid in the word ; scripture faith and scripture repentance are still fed 
by the word. It teacheth us how to believe, and how to repent, and 
how to pray, and how to live, especially the heavenly life ; and there 


can be no true comfort and peace without the word : Kom. xv. 4, ' That 
ye through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope/ 

Use 2. 1. We should consider the truth of the word, partly in the 
general, for the strengthening and settling of our faith, and to make it 
more clear and solid and certain: Eph. i. 13, 'In whom ye trusted, 
after that ye heard the word of truth/ When boisterous temptations 
would carry us to some evil, which God hath forbidden and severely 
threatened, that the point of the sword of the Spirit be put to the 
bosom of it, Deut. xxix. 19, 20. 

2. When you are settling your souls as to the main point of accep 
tance with God : 1 Tim. i. 15, ' This is a faithful saying, and worthy 
of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sin 
ners, of whom I am Kjhief/ The word will never deceive them that 
seek righteousness there. 

3. When difficulties arise that oppose the promise or expectation of 
relief according to the promise, you should urge the truth of the word 
in the very face of difficulty : ' Thy law is truth/ Take Paul's in 
stance, Acts xxvii. God by promise gave all that sailed with Paul in 
the ship their lives, yet how many difficulties came to pass ! At first, 
when they were in the Adriatic Sea for so many days and nights, and 
had neither seen sun nor stars, they knew not where they were, nor 
whither they should go ; here was little appearance of God's making 
good his word to Paul. Another difficulty fell out, they feared they 
were near some country ; they sounded and found they were near some 
land, but what land they could not conjecture, and were afraid of 
being split in pieces against the rocks ; but the shipmen, that knew the 
danger of these seas, they must go out of the ship, they would make 
use of their long boat, and so they were ready to miscarry in the sight 
of the land, but Paul prevented them. And after it was day, the men 
were so spent because of long fasting and conflicting with the waves, 
they could not ply the oar. Another difficulty, they were where two 
seas met ; they ran the ship aground and resolved to kill Paul and the 
rest of the prisoners, lest they should swim to land ; but the captain, 
willing to save Paul, prevented that purpose ; and so at length they 
came all to shore, though followed with difficulty upon difficulty. 
God made good his promise to a tittle, ver. 44. Pray observe how 
Paul urged God's promise against the greatest difficulties, as sufficient 
ground of encouragement to expect relief: ver. 25, ' For I believe God, 
that it shall be even as it was told me/ 


Trouble and anguish have taken hold of me, yet thy commandments are 
my delights. VER. 143. 

IN the words we have 

1. David's temptation, trouble and anguish have taken hold of me. 

2. David's exercise under that temptation, thy commandments are 
my delight. 

VER. 143.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 15 

3. The benefit of that exercise, notwithstanding the greatness of the 
temptation, yet. It is propounded with a non obstante. 

First, The temptation was very great, for he speaketh of trouble 
and anguish. The joining of synonymous words, or words of a like 
import and signification, increaseth the sense ; and so it showeth his 
affection was not ordinary ; yea, both these words have their particular 
use and emphasis. Trouble may imply the outward trial, and the 
difficulties and straits he was in ; anguish, inward afflictions : the one, 
the matter of the trial, and the other the sense of it. The other 
expression also is to be observed, ' Have taken hold of me ; ' in the 
Hebrew, * have found me ; ' so the Septuagint renders it, QXtyeis KOL 
dvdyKcu evpoadv pe ; and the vulgar Latin out of them, tribulatio et 
angustice, invenerunt me, 'have found me,' that is, ' come upon me/ as the 
expression intimateth. Troubles are said to find us, because they are 
sent to seek us out, and in time will light upon us. We should not 
run into them, but if they find us in our duty, we should not be troubled 
at them. Sometimes in scripture we are said to find trouble, and 
sometimes trouble to find us. We are said to find trouble. David 
said, Ps. cxvi. 3, ' I found trouble.' And so now here in the text, 
trouble and anguish found him. There is no difference, or if any, 
the one noteth a surprise. Trouble findeth us when it cometh un- 
looked for ; our finding it noteth our willingness to undergo it. when 
the will of God is so, especially for righteousness' sake. 

Secondly, David's exercise under this great temptation, ' Thy com 
mandments are my delights.' Where we have 

1. The object, ' thy commandments.' The commandment is put 
for the word in general, which include th promises as well as precepts, 
the whole doctrine of life and salvation. However, the property of the 
form is not altogether to be overlooked ; even in the commandments or 
the conscience of his duty, he took a great deal of comfort. 

2. The affection, ' delight/ He had said before that he did not 
forget God's statutes when he was small and despised, ver. 141 ; now 
he delighted in them. This was his great love to the word, that he 
could find sweetness in it when it brought him trouble, such sweetness 
as did allay all his sorrows, and overcome the bitterness of them. 

3. The degree, ' delights/ in the plural number ; he did greatly 
delight in it. Omnis obleclatio mea, saith Junius thy command 
ments to me are instead of all manner of delights and pleasure in the 

Thirdly, The next is the opposition of this exercise to that tempta 
tion, ' yet/ It is not in the original, but necessarily implied, and there 
fore well inserted by our translators, to show that the greatness of his 
straits and troubles did not diminish his comfort, but increase it rather. 
The points are these : 

1. God seeth it necessary sometimes to exercise his people with a 
great deal of trouble. 

2. This trouble may breed great vexation and anguish of spirit, even 
in a gracious heart. 

3. Notwithstanding this trouble and anguish, gracious hearts will 
manifest their graciousness by delighting in the word. 

4. They that delight in the word will find more comfort in their 


afflictions than troubles can take from them, or such sweetness as will 
overcome the sense of all their sorrows. This was always David's help 
to delight in the word, and this brought him comfort though in deep 

For the first point, that God seeth it necessary sometimes to exercise 
his people with a great deal of trouble. Though they are highly in 
favour with God, yet they have their share of troubles as well as others. 
This is true if you 

1. Consider the people of God in their collective body and com 
munity, which is called the church. It is the church's name : Isa. liv. 
11, 12, ' Oh thou afflicted, and tossed with tempest ! ' Names are 
taken a notionibus ; things are known and distinguished by their 
name ; it is one of ,the way-marks to heaven : Acts xiv. 22, ' Through 
many tribulations enter into the kingdom of God ; ' as the way to 
Canaan lay through a howling wilderness. If we were told before that 
we should meet with such and such marks in our journey to such a 
place, if we found them not, we should have cause to suspect we were 
out of our way. From the beginning of the world, the church hath 
always been bred up under troubles, and inured to the discipline of 
the cross : Ps. cxxix. 1, ' Many a time have they afflicted me from my 
youth, may Israel now say/ The spirit of enmity wrought betimes. 
The first family that ever was in the world yielded Abel the proto- 
martyr, and Cain the patriarch qf unbelievers. While the church 
kept in families, the outward estate of God's people was worse than 
their neighbours. Abraham was a sojourner, though owned and 
blessed by God, when the Canaanites were possessors, and dwelt in 
walled towns. Jacob's family grew up by degrees into a nation, but 
Esau's presently multiplied into many dukes and princes. And as 
they grew up, they grew up in affliction. Egypt was a place of retreat 
for them for a while, but before they got out of it, it proved a house 
of bondage. Their deliverance brought them into a wilderness, where 
want made them murmur, but oftener wantonness. But then God 
sent fiery serpents, and broke them, and afflicted them with other 
judgments. After forty years' wandering in the wilderness, they are 
brought into Canaan, a land of rest ; but it afforded them little rest, 
for they forfeited it almost as soon as they conquered it ; it flowed with 
milk and honey, but mixed with gall and wormwood. Their story, as 
it is delivered in the book of God, acquaints you with several varieties 
and intermixtures of providence, till wrath came upon them to the 
utmost, till God saw fit to enlarge the pale and lines of communication 
by treating with other nations. Now, if the Old Testament church 
were thus afflicted, much more the New. God discovered his appro 
bation and improbation then more by temporal mercies and temporal 
judgments. The promises run to us in another strain ; and since life 
and immortality were brought to light in the gospel, we must not 
expect to be so delicately brought up as never to see an evil day. He 
hath told us, 2 Tim. iii. 12, ' We must be conformed to our head/ 
Horn. yiii. 29 ; and expect to pledge Christ in his bitter cup, and our 
condition must inform us that our hopes were not in this world, 1 Cor. 
xv. 19. In the gospel dispensation God would deal forth temporal 
blessings more sparingly, and spiritual with a fuller hand ; the ex- 

TER. 143.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 17 

perience of all ages verifieth this. When religion began first to fly 
abroad into all lands, the pagans first persecuted it, and then the pseudo- 
Christians ; the holiest and best people were maligned, and bound, and 
butchered, and racked, and stoned, but still they multiplied. It were 
easy to tire you with various instances in every age. Those that went 
home to God were those that came out of tribulations, and had washed 
their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, Rev. vii. 
14. There is always something set afoot to try God's servants, and in 
the latter times the roaring lion is not grown more gentle and tame, 
rather more fierce and severe : Eev. xii. 12, ' For the devil is come 
<lown unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath 
but a short time/ Dying beasts struggle most. As his kingdom 
beginneth to shake, so he will be most fierce and cruel for the support 
ing of it. 

2. As to particular persons: ' The whole creation groaneth,' Rom. 
viii. 22 ; and God's children bear a part in the concert ; they have 
their share in the world's miseries, and domestical crosses are common 
to them with other men in the world ; yea, their condition is worse 
than others : chaff and corn are threshed in the same floor, but the 
corn is grinded in the mill and baked in the oven. Jeremiah was in 
the dungeon when the city was besieged. The world hateth them 
more than others, and God loveth them more than others. The world 
hateth them because they are so good, and God correcteth them 
because they are no better. There is more care exercised about a vine 
than a bramble. God will not let them perish with the world. Great 
receipts call for great expenses first or last. God seeth it fitting, 
sometimes at first setting forth, as the old Germans were wont to dip 
their children in the Rhine to harden them, so to season them for 
their whole course ; they must bear the yoke from their youth or first 
acquaintance with God, Heb. x. 32. Sometimes God lets them alone 
while they are young and raw, and of little experience, as we are 
tender of trees newly planted, as Jacob drove as the little ones were 
able to bear: 1 Cor. x. 13, 'He will not suffer you to be tempted 
above what you are able.' They are let alone till middle age, till they 
are of some standing in religion : Heb. xi. 24, ' Moses when he was 
come to years/ fteyas ryevbpevos. Sometimes let alone till their latter 
time, and their season of fighting cometh not till they are ready to go 
out of the world, that they may die fighting, and be crowned in the 
field. But first or last, the cross cometh, and there is a time to 
exercise our faith and patience before we inherit the promises. I will 
not enlarge in the common-place of afflictions, and tell you how 
necessary the cross is to subdue sin, which God will do in an acommo- 
date way to weaken pride, to reclaim us from our wanderings, to 
increase grace, to make us mindful of heavenly things ; these are dis 
cussed in other verses : to make us retreat to our great privileges, to 
-stir us up to prayer, &c. Tribulatio tarn nobis necessaria, quam ipsa 
vita, immo magis necessaria, multoque utilior quam totius mundi opes, 
et dignitates, saith Luther we think wealth is necessary for us, dignity 
and esteem is necessary for us ; no, affliction is necessary for us : 1 
Peter i. 6, ' If need be, you are in heaviness/ &c. 

Use 1. Let us look for troubles and provide for them. We shall 



not always have a life of ease and peace ; the times will not always be- 
friendly to religion : ' Then had the churches rest,' Acts ix. 31 ; hal 
cyon days. The enmity of wicked men will not always lie asleep ; we 
would gather rust and grow dead, therefore look for them. If because- 
you are Christians you promise yourselves a long lease of temporal 
happiness, free from troubles and afflictions, it is as if a soldier going 
to the wars should promise. himself peace and continual truce with the 
enemy ; or as if a mariner committing himself to the sea for a long 
voyage, should promise himself nothing but fair and calm weather, 
without waves and storms ; so irrational it is for a Christian to promise 
himself rest here upon earth. Well, then, let us learn beforehand how 
to be abased and how to abound, Phil. iv. 12. He that is in a journey 
to heaven must be provided for all weathers ; though it be sunshine 
when he first sets Jorth, a storm will overtake him before he cometh 
to his journey's end. It is good to be fore-armed ; afflictions will come, 
and we should prepare accordingly. We enter upon the profession of 
godliness upon these terms, to be willing to suffer afflictions if the 
Lord see fit ; and therefore we should arm ourselves with a mind to 
endure them, whether they come or no. God never intended that 
Isaac should be sacrificed, yet he will have Abraham lay the knife to 
his throat. Sorrows foreseen leave not so sad an impression upon the 
spirit. Tela promissa minus feriunt. The evil is more familiarised 
before it come : Job iii. 25, ' The evil that I feared is come upon me/ 
When our fears prophesy, we smart less; it allayeth the offence ; we 
meet with nothing but what we thought of before : John xvi. I r 
' These things have I spoken unto you, that you should not be 

Use 2. If you are under afflictions, /*?) gevl&aQe, 1 Peter iv. 12, do not 
strange at it, more than at night and day, showers and sunshine ; 
as these things fall out in the course of nature, so do troubles and afflic 
tions in the course of God's providence ; it were a wonder if otherwise. 
We do not wonder to see a shower of rain fall, or a cloudy day suc 
ceed a fair : 1 Peter v. 9, ' All these things are accomplished in your 
brethren that are in the world.' All the rest of God's people are 
fellow-soldiers in this conflict. 

Use 3. When we are out of affliction, let us bless God that we are 
out of the affliction. The greatness of the trouble, danger, misery, 
straits whereinto God doth cast his own doth lay a greater obligation. 
of thankfulness upon those that are free from those evils. If thou 
beest not thankful for thy health, go to the lazarhouses, look upon the 
afflicted state of God's people, and that may quicken you to thankful 
ness for being freed from them. 

Use 4. Advice ; do not draw sufferings upon yourselves by your own 
rashness and folly : James i. 2, * Count it all joy when you fall into 
divers temptations.' We must not seek or desire trouble, but bear 
it when God layeth it on us. Christ hath taught us to pray, ' Lead 
us not into temptation.' It is a folly for us to cast ourselves upon it ; 
if we draw hatred upon ourselves, and run headlong into dangers 
without necessity, we must make ourselves amends by repentance, 
otherwise ^God will not. If a man set his house on fire, he is liable to 
the law ; if it be fired by others, or by an ill accident, he is pitied and 

YER. 143.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 19 

relieved. We are to take our own cross when made to our hands by 
God's providence, not make it for ourselves ; not to fill our own cup, 
but drink it off if God put it into our hands. We must come honestly 
by our crosses as well as by our comforts, and must have a call for 
what we suffer as well as for what we do, if we would have comfort in 
our sufferings. 

Doct. This trouble may breed much vexation and anguish of spirit 
even in a gracious soul. David speaketh of anguish as well as trouble. 

1. Partly from nature. God's children have the feelings of nature 
as well as others. Christ Jesus, to show the truth of our nature, 
would express our affections ; he had his fears and tears, Heb. v. 7, 
and so hath legitimated our fears and sorrows. It is an innocent 
affection to have a dislike of what is contrary to us, to our natural 
interest ; to be without natural affection is among the vices. And 

2. Partly from grace. The children of God are more sensible than 
others, because they have a reverence for every providence, and look 
upon it as a good piece of religious manners to observe when God 
striketh, and to be humble when God is angry, Jer. v. 3 ; slight spirits 
are not so much affected. Ordinarily they see not God, nor own God 
in every stroke ; but when the windows of heaven are opened, and the 
mouth of the great deep below, there must needs be a great sense. 

3. Yet there is in it weakness and a mixture of corruption, which 
may come from an impatiency of the flesh, which would fain be at 
ease : Gen. xlix. 15, ' Eest is good/ Therefore we are filled with 
anguish when troubled, either from distrust, or at least from inatten- 
tiveness to the promises. As there is a negative faith in the wicked, 
not contradicting the truth of the word, so a negative distrust in the 
godly, not regarding, not minding the promise, or not regarding the 
grounds of comfort which it offereth to us ; as Hagar saw not the well 
that was nigh her till God opened her eyes, Gen. xxi. 19 ; so Mark vi. 52, 
1 They considered not the miracle of the loaves ;' therefore are amazed 
in themselves beyond measure. ' Have ye forgotten the five loaves 
and two fishes ? ' Heb. xii. 5, ' And ye have forgotten the exhortation 
which speaketh to you as unto children.' Yea, sometimes there may 
be positive distrust, or actual refusing comfort : Ps. Ixxvii. 2, ' My 
soul refused to be comforted.' As they may not mind comfort, so in 
great troubles refuse comfort in greater distempers. 

4. Sorrow and trouble may revive inward trouble. Affliction in 
itself is a part of the law's curse, and may revive something of bondage 
in the hearts of God's children, which is good and useful so far as it 
quickeneth us to renew our reconciliation with God. Spirits enten- 
dered by religion are more apprehensive of God's displeasure under 
afflictions : Num. xii. 14, * If her father had spit in her face, should 
she not be ashamed ?' If it humble under the mighty hand of God, 
it is well ; but when it filleth us with perplexities and amazement, like 
wild bulls in a net, or produceth uncomely sorrow, roaring like bears, 
or mourning as men without hope, it is naught. 

Use. Let us take notice how affliction worketh. There is a double 
extreme, slighting the hand of God, or fainting under it, Heb. xii. 5 ; 
we must beware of both. There must be a sense, but it must be kept 
within bounds; without a sense there can be no improvement; to 


despise them is to think them fortuitous. They come from God ; their 
end is repentance, their cause is sin. Two things men cannot endure 
to have despised, their love and their anger. When David's love was 
slighted, he vowed to cut off all that pertained to Nabal ; and Nebu 
chadnezzar, when his anger was despised, commanded the furnace to 
be heated seven times hotter. Nor fainting, for that excludeth God's 
comforts. God hath the whole guiding and ordering the affliction, 
and while the rod is in his hand there is no danger. He is a wise 
God, and cannot be overseen ; a God of judgment, by whom all things 
are weighed, 1 Sam. ii. 3 ; every drachm and scruple of the cross ; 
a just God, and will punish no more than is deserved : Job xxxiv. 
23, ' He will not lay upon man more than is right.' As well no more 
than is meet, as no more than is right. He is a good God, does only 
what our need ancl profit requireth : ' For he doth not afflict willingly, 
nor grieve the children of men,' Lam. iii. 33. 

Doct. That it is the property of a gracious soul to delight in God's 

It was David's practice, and it is the mark of a blessed man : Ps. i. 
2, ' But his delight is in the law of the Lord ; ' and Kom. vii. 22, ' I 
delight in the law after the inward man ;' and Ps. cxii. 1, ' Blessed is 
the man that delighteth greatly in his commandments.' Delight in 
moral things, saith Aquinas, is the rule by which we may judge of 
men's goodness or badness Delectatio est quies voluntatis in bono ; 
men are good and bad as the objects of their delight are ; they are 
good who delight in good things, and they evil who delight in evil 

"We shall consider the nature of delight 

1. In the causes. 

2. In the effects of it. 
First, The causes are 

1. Proportion and suitableness. Sensitive creatures delight much 
in such food as is agreeable to their nature. Now the commandments 
are suitable to the renewed heart : ' The law is in their heart,' Ps. xl. 
8 ; and Ps. xxxvii. 31, ' The law of his God is in his heart.' Divine 
qualities are planted there, which suit with the rule of holiness and 
righteousness, Eph. iv. 24. And this is the sum of the law or com 
mandments of God. 

2. A second cause is possession of it and communion with it. 
Oritur, saith Aquinas, ex prcesentia connaturalis boni. Now one may 
be said to possess the law or enjoy the law in regard of the knowledge 
of it or obedience to it: John xiv. 21, ' He that hath my command 
ments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.' The knowledge of 
the law, so it be not superficial and fleshly, but full and thorough 
and savoury, is very comfortable, and goeth toward a good note ; but 
obedience to the law is the cause of delight therein. God's servants 
rejoice when they can bring on their hearts with any life and power 
in the way of God's testimonies : Ps. cxix. 14, ' I have rejoiced in the 
way of thy testimonies more than in all riches/ Thence cometh their 
comfort and obedience. 

3. A third cause of delight is a precedent love of the object. Love 
is a complacency in and propension towards that which is good, 

VER. 143.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 21 

absolutely considered both in the presence and absence of it. Desire 
noteth the absence of a good, delight the presence and fruition of it. 
Therefore a love of the object delighted in is essentially pre-supposed 
to delight. So that it is impossible for anything to be delighted in 
but it is first loved. We have experience that many things are 
delightful in themselves, and known to be such, which yet do not 
actually delight if they be hated. A man may taste of the sweetness 
of honey, yet if he hath an antipathy against it he may loathe it. 
David in this psalm pre-supposeth love as antecedent to delight : Ps. 
cxix. 47, ' I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have 
loved/ Carnal men cannot say so ; ' For every one that doeth evil 
hateth the light,' John iii. 20. The renewed only love the command 
ments. Yea, it doth not only pre-suppose a love of simple com 
placency, but also a love of desire ; for all things are first desired 
before delighted in. None can truly delight in obedience but such as 
desire it. Such as can say with David, ver. 40, 'Behold, I have 
longed after thy precepts;' and ver. 131, 'I opened my mouth and 
panted, for I longed after thy commandments.' Now all such are 
blessed, Mat. v. 5. 

Secondly, Let us consider the effects. 

1. The first is dilatatio cordis, the enlarging of the heart ; it 
openeth and wideneth the heart towards the reception of the law, and 
maketh it more capacious and comprehensive thereof than otherwise 
it would be : Ps. cxix. 32, ' I will run the way of thy commandments, 
when thou shalt have enlarged my heart.' The heart is at ease and 
in a commodious condition, as a body that is in a large and fit place, 
where it is not straitened ; and this is as oil to the wheels. 

2. Delectatio causat sui sitim et desiderium. Delight in an object 
causeth a thirst of itself, and more of itself. Even the angels and 
blessed spirits feel this effect of delight, that it never cloyeth, but they 
desire more of their own happiness. Much more doth it work so in 
us, who are in such an imperfect state of enjoyment, upon a twofold 
account : 

[1.] The objects of spiritual delight are perfect, but the acts whereby 
we enjoy and possess those objects are imperfect. God is an infinite 
and all-satisfying good, but the acts whereby we enjoy him here in 
this life, whereby we have union and communion with him, are 
imperfect. We know, believe, love, hope but in part, 1 Cor. xiii. 9. 
Hereupon that delight which ariseth from the imperfect fruition of 
God here in this life stirreth up to an eager desire after fuller fruition, 
and unto a further enlargement and intension of those acts whereby 
such fruition is attained, or wherein it consisteth ; still thirsting after 
more when tasted, 1 Peter ii. 3, 4. 

[2.] Spiritual delights may be said to create a desire, as desire 
importeth a denial or exclusion of loathing ; for the objects of spiritual 
delight and the acts whereby they are enjoyed can never exceed the 
degree and measure required in them, unless by accident, by reason 
of some bodily act concurrent therewith, and subservient unto the 
spiritual operation. The desire can never be too great ; the expression 
of it may be burdensome. We may easily exceed the bounds of 
moderation in carnal things, but not in spiritual ; they can never be 


too high and intense. Therefore fresh desires and earnest longings 
are still kindled and quickened in us ; it never dulls the appetite, but 
draweth out the soul further and further, and cannot be too eager and 
zealous after holiness. 

3. Another effect of delight is perficit operationem, it makes the 
operation to its object more perfect than otherwise it would be. As a 
motive or means, it exciteth to a greater care and diligence in pro 
moting the end which we pursue. The delight in the law helpeth to 
perfect our meditation therein and observation thereof ; by its sweet 
ness it quickeneth, provoketh, and allure th to a greater zeal in both. 
Delight maketh all things easy : 1 John v. 3, ' All her ways are ways 
of pleasantness/ Prov. iii. 17 ; * The Sabbath is a delight/ Isa. Iviii. 
13. It facilitates duties, and removes difficulties in working. 

Now this delight must be sincere, otherwise they are but like the 
carnal Jews who did delight to know his ways, Isa. Iviii. 2. It must 
not be on foreign reasons. And then it must be universal, otherwise 
it is but like Herod, who ' heard John gladly, and did many things/ 
<fec., Mark vi. 20. It must be deeply rooted, otherwise it is but like 
the seed which fell on the stony ground, ' which received the word 
with joy, but dureth but for a while/ Mat. xiii. 20. 

Use 1. To show how far they are from the temper of God's children 
whose delight is in sin or the pleasures of the flesh. These have 
dreggy, muddy souls; their hearts are on sports, plays, merry-meet 
ings. These desires are soon cloyed, leave a bitterness in the soul ; till 
we contemn them, we are never fit for a holy life. See Gregory de 

Use 2. Have we this delight ? The sincerity may be discerned 

1. By the extent. It is extended to all parts of the word, delight 
in the promises and precepts. To be partial in the law, hypocrites 
can well allow, Mai. ii. 9. 

2. It will be discerned by the effects of it. You will often consult 
with it : Ps. cxix. 24, ' Thy testimonies are my delight and my coun 

3. It will be a perpetual delight : Job xxvii. 10, ' Will he delight 
himself in the Almighty ? will he always call upon God ? ' You 
will own it in affliction, as in the text. Many will delight in God's 
word when prosperity accompanieth it, but not in trouble and anguish. 
You will delight in obedience, and in the way of his testimonies ; not 
talk of it, but do it. The young man's delight in Dinah made him 
circumcise himself, Gen. xxxiv. 19. 

Lastly, compare it with your delight in things sensible, temporal, 
aud corporeal. If it be sincere and cordial, it will not only equal, but 
surmount these : ver. 72, ' The law of thy mouth is better to me than 
thousands of gold and silver ; ' and ver. 162, 'I rejoice in thy word as 
one that findeth great spoil.' Spiritual good is greater than corporal, 
our conjunction with it is more intimate, greater and firmer. The 
part gratified is more noble, the soul than the body ; it will make 
these die that the other may live. 

Use 3. Let us be exhorted to do what we can for the begetting, 
increasing, and cherishing this delight in our hearts. If you love God, 
you cannot but love his word, which is so perfect a representation of 

YER. 143.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 23 

him. If you love holiness, you must needs delight in the word ; this 
is the rule of it. If you love life and happiness, you must needs de 
light in the word ; this is the way that leadeth us to so blessed and 
glorious an estate. If you love Christ, you will love the word, which 
offereth him to you. If you love the new nature, you will delight in 
the word, which is the seed of it. If you would speed in prayer : ver. 
77, ' Let thy tender mercies come unto me, for thy law is my delight.' 
If you would be supported in affliction : ver. 92, ' Unless thy law had 
been my delight, I should then have perished in mine affliction.' 

Doct. In the days of our trouble and anguish God's word will be a 
.great delight and comfort to us. 

Such a comfort as will overcome the bitterness of our affliction. So 
saith David here. When all comforts have spent their virtue, then 
God's word will be a comfort to us. 

Here I shall show 

1. What comfort the word holds out to us. 

2. Why afflictions do not diminish it. 
First, What comforts it holds forth. 

1. The privileges of the afflicted: Rom. v. 1, 2, * We glory in tribu 
lations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience/ Such may rejoice 
in tribulations ; miseries are unstinged, his rods are not signs of his 
anger. They are in the favour of God, and his heart is with them, 
however his hand be smart upon them. The habitude and nature of 
afflictions is altered in themselves ; they are the punishments of sin, 
and so their natural tendency is to despair and bondage. God seemeth 
to put the old covenant in suit against unbelieving sinners ; but now 
they are trials, preventions, medicines to believers, that proceed from 
love, and are designed for their good. 

2. The word holdeth forth the blessedness of another world : 2 Cor. 
iv. 17, 18, ' Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh 
for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory/ Hope is not 
affrighted by affliction, but worketh. Before corn be ripened it needeth 
all kinds of weather. The husbandman is glad of showers as well as 
.sunshine ; rainy weather is troublesome, but the season requireth it. 

3. It assureth us of what is acceptable to God : Micah vi. 8, ' He 
hath showed thee, man, what is good, and what doth the Lord 
require of thee, but to do justly and love mercy and to walk humbly 
with thy God?' So it yieldeth comfort through the conscience of our 
duty, and cheerful reflections on afflicted innocency. Are not these 
God's ways which we desire to walk in, and for which we are troubled? 

4. The word hath notable precepts that ease the heart : Phil. iv. 6, 
' Be careful for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, 
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God : 1 Peter 
v. 7, ' Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you ; ' Prov. 
xvi. 3, ' Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be 
established/ It biddeth us cast all our cares upon God, and commit 
ourselves to the guidance of his providence. 

5. It giveth us many promises of God's being with us, and strength 
ening and delivering us, and giving us a gracious issue out of all our 
troubles : 1 Cor. x. 13, ' God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be 
tempted above that you are able, but will with the temptation also 


make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.' Now it is a< 
great ease to the soul to fly to these promises which are made to his- 
afflicted servants. 

6. It breedeth faith, which fixeth the heart : Ps. cxii. 7, ' He shall 
not be afraid of evil tidings, his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord/ 
It breedeth fortitude, or cleaving to God under the greatest trials, 
2 Sam. vi. 22 ; and Ps. xliv. 17, 18. Now this becometh a testimony 
and proof of our love to God, and so bringeth comfort. It breedeth 
obedience, and the doing of good leaveth a pleasure behind it. After 
sin a sting remaineth, Bom. ii. 14, 15. It breedeth waiting and 
patience when all hope is cut off : Micah vii. 7, ' Therefore I will look 
unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation;' when such 
trouble is on us as np end appeareth of it. Most men's comfort holdetb 
out but whilst there is hope of turning the stream of things. They are- 
not satisfied in their duty nor comforted with promises, but borne up 
with hopes of success. 

Secondly, Why afflictions do rather increase than diminish this ? 

1. They drive us to these comforts. Man liveth by sense more than 
by faith when he hath anything about him, but his sorrows drive him 
to God. Indeed, men that wholly forget God in prosperity will not 
find his word a delight in adversity : Ps. xxx. 6-8, ' In my prosperity 
I said I shall never be moved : Lord, by thy favour thou hast made 
my mountain to stand strong : thou didst hide thy face, and I was 
troubled : I cried unto thee, Lord/ &c. 

2. They prepare us for them ; the sweetness of the word is best per 
ceived under the bitterness of the cross. God and his word are never 
so sweet to the saints as in adversity: Ps. xciv. 19, ' In the multitude 
of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul ; ' and 2 Cor. 
i. 5, 'As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also 
aboundeth by Christ.' 

Use. Let no calamity drive you from the commandments, for there 
you will find more delight than trouble can take from you, 1 John 
iii. 1, 2. Shall the reproach of men have more power to make us sad< 
than the honour of being God's children hath power to make us joyful ? 
Let us be ashamed that we can delight no more : James i. 2, * My 
brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations ;' Mat. 
v. 12, ' Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in< 
heaven ;' for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you ;" 
and 1 Thes. i. 6, 'Ye became followers of us and of the Lord, having- 
received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost/ 


The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting : give me under 
standing, and I shall live. VER. 144. 

IN these words 

1. The excellency of the word is again acknowledged, the righteous 
ness of thy testimonies is everlasting. 

VER. 144.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 25 

2. A prayer is thereupon grounded, give me understanding. 

3. The fruit and benefit of being heard in that prayer, and I shall live. 
Because the righteousness of the word is everlasting, therefore we 

should beg understanding, and this sound understanding maketh way 
for life. 

First, He beginneth with the praise of the word, ' The righteousness 
of thy testimonies.' The word of God is contemned by none but such 
as know not the excellency of it, both in its own nature and the fruits 
of it. The sum of the whole octonary is here repeated. 

Doct. That the righteousness and everlasting righteousness of God's 
testimonies should be deeply imprinted on our minds, and often thought 
of by us. 

This stuck so in David's mind that he could hardly get off from the 
meditation. Here I shall show you 

1. Wherein the everlasting righteousness of God's testimonies con- 

2. What it is to have them deeply imprinted upon our minds, and 
when they are so. 

3. Why they should be deeply imprinted upon our minds. 

First, Wherein the everlasting righteousness of God's testimonies 

Ans. In two things in the tenor of them, and in the effects. 

1. In the tenor, and in that those terms which God dealeth with 
us are never repealed, but stand in force to all eternity. It is an ever 
lasting truth that he that believeth in Christ shall be saved, and that 
without holiness no man shall see God. The moral part of the word 
is unchangeable, and shall never be altered; the same duties and 
the same privileges do always continue. Our Lord telleth us, Mat. v. 
18, ' Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no 
wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled/ The truth of the doctrine 
of the law and prophets is more firm and stable than the frame of 
heaven and earth. Heaven and earth may be dissolved and made 
void, but his law shall never be made void ; both in that part wherein 
he comforts us by his promises, and that part wherein he sets down 
our duty ; we are eternally obliged to obedience, and God hath eter 
nally obliged himself to reward and bless. There is an everlasting 
and unchangeable ordinance, by which we are bound to God, and he 
hath bound himself to us. We should not change, and God will not, 
having passed his word to us. The everlasting obligation on us 
dependeth on God's authority; the everlasting obligation on God's 
part dependeth on his own truth and veracity. And though we are 
poor changeable creatures, God hath interposed his authority : Mai. 
iii. 6, ' I am the Lord ; I change not ;' James i. 17, ' In him there is no 
change or shadow of turning/ God would change if his truth was 
changed, but that is everlasting. It is'not in the power of men to an 
nihilate and change the law ; they may break the law, but they can 
not annihilate and change the law. Though it be not fulfilled by them, 
yet it shall be fulfilled in them and upon them. And God will not 
annihilate the law, for God cannot change or deny himself ; in those 
things wherein he hath engaged his truth to the creature, he is im 
mutable and infallible. Another expression is, Jer. xxxiii. 20, 21, 


4 If you can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the 
night, that there shall not be day and night in their seasons, then 
may also my covenant be broken with David my servant.' The one 
shall not fail any more than the other. God compareth the firmness of 
his covenant with those things that are most unalterable, the standing 
of heaven and earth, the constant course of night and day. The cere 
monial law was not abrogated till fulfilled in Christ. This is God's 
last will ; the terms of life and salvation are still the same, other con 
ditions are not to be expected. 

2. In regard of the effects. These testimonies endure for ever, both 
in a way of grace and glory. In a way of grace, the word worketh in 
the heart an eternal principle, and carries us beyond temporal things, 
2 Cor. iv. 18 ; 1 Peter i. 23, 'Being born again, not of corruptible seed, 
but incorruptible, the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever/ 
The word worketh in us an eternal principle, which will abide with 
us as the root of everlasting blessedness. They that have served God 
faithfully shall not be deprived of eternal glory. Now, in glory the 
word abideth forever, for though the souls of men are immortal, yet 
they have not in them a principle of blessed immortality. Sin is the 
root of eternal perdition, but grace of incorruption and eternal happi 
ness. The wicked, though the substance of their soul and body shall 
not be annihilated, but upheld unto all eternity by the mighty power 
of God in the midst of eternal torments, yet all their glory and plea 
sure shall be consumed, and they themselves shall ever languish under 
the wrath of a highly provoked and then irreconcilable God : 1 John 
ii. 17, * He that doth the will of God abideth for ever.' The wicked 
shall endure by the word of God ; it is a living death in regard of the 
execution of eternal wrath upon them that reject it, and the perform 
ance of everlasting blessings which are promised to them that receive 
and obey it ; this will abide when other things fade. The word of 
God keepeth the godly and wicked alive in some sense. 

Secondly, When is the word deeply imprinted upon our minds ? 
That is discovered by two things sound belief and serious considera 
tion ; when it is strongly believed, and often duly considered. 

1. When it is strongly believed, or else it worketh not: for all 
things work according to the faith we exercise about them : 1 Thes. 
ii. 13, ' The word of God, which worketh effectually also in you that 
believe.' Did we believe that our eternal condition depended upon 
the observance or non-observance of this rule, we would regard it 
more : Ps. cxix. 66, ' Teach me good judgment and knowledge, for I 
have believed thy commandments.' Lord, I believe I must stand or 
fall by this rule, and therefore let me know all my duty. So Heb. xi. 
13, 'Being persuaded of these things, they embraced them.' We 
have not a thorough persuasion about these things ; our persuasions 
about eternal things are very weak, when God's expressions about it 
are very clear and strong. Most men guess at a world to come, but 
are not thoroughly persuaded. They have a loose or general opinion 
that the scripture is the word of God, the rule by which they shall be 
tried ; but do not soundly assent to it, and receive it as the word by 
which they shall be judged at the last day, John xii. 48. Christ pro- 
nounceth as the word pronounceth. There is a non-contradiction, but 


not an active and lively faith ; this and nothing but this bindeth the 
will and conscience to obedience. 

2. Often considered. David still insists upon this, the everlasting 
righteousness of God's testimonies. It is as if he had said, I have 
said it already, and I will repeat it again and again. It is constant 
thoughts are operative, and musing maketh the fire burn. Green 
wood is kindled not by a flash or spark, but by constant blowing. 
Deep, frequent, and ponderous thoughts leave some impression upon 
the heart ; the greatest matters in the world will not work much upon 
him that will not think upon them ; all the efficacy is lost for want of 
these ponderous thoughts. Why are all the offers and invitations of 
God's grace of so little effect ? Mat. xxii. 5, ol Se a/zeX^o-azn-e?, they 
made light of it, they would not take it into their care and thoughts. 
Why do all the injunctions and precepts of God work no more ? 
Men will not consider in their hearts, Deut. iv. 39, 40, all the com- 
minations of God ; and therefore he calls upon them, ' Now consider 
this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none 
to deliver,' Ps. 1. 22. It is for want of this that all the promises 
of God, of heaven and happiness work so little upon us : 2 Tim. ii. 7, 
* Consider what I say, and the Lord give you understanding in all 
things.' The truth lieth by, neglected, unimproved, till consideration 
take it up, and lay it in the view of conscience, and then it worketh. 
Till we take it into our thoughts, we have no use of any truth ; there 
fore set your hearts seriously to consider of these things. 

Thirdly, Why the everlasting righteousness of God's testimonies 
should be deeply imprinted in our minds. 

1. It establisheth our judgments against vain fancies, and the 
humour of other gospelling. The apostle saith, Gal. i. 8, ' Though we, 
or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than that 
we have preached unto you, let him be accursed; ' 1 Tim. vi. 3, ' If 
any man teach otherwise,' &c. There are some that expect speculum 
spiritus sancti, a greater measure of light beyond what the Spirit now 
affordeth, new nuncios from heaven, to assoil the doubts of the pre- 
plexed world. Nc ; the present rule leadeth a believer all along in his 
way to heaven ; other and better institution shall not be, cannot be. 
Christ promised to bless this doctrine to the world's end : Mat. xxviii. 
20, ' I will be with you to the end of the world ; ' to guide and succour 
them. Christ prayed for no others but those that believe through 
their word, John xvii. 20 ; this word which the apostles have consigned 
to the use of the church. An angel is accursed if he should bring any 
other doctrine, Gal. i. 8. There is no other way of salvation given 
or to be given, Acts. iv. 12. If an angel should hold out another way, 
believe it not. The apostle propounds an impossible case to show the 
certainty of this way ; it is good to be sure of our rule ; now this con 
sideration helpeth. that. 

2. Because it bindeth and helpeth to obedience, partly as it showeth 
the absolute necessity of obedience, because the terms of salvation are in 
dispensably fixed, and will everlastingly stand in force ; therefore I must 
yield to God or perish. The soul cometh off most kindly to the ways 
of God when it is shut up unavoidably, without all hope of escape and 
evasion but by yielding to God's terms. The Lord will have the world 


know that there is no hope of a dispensation : Mark xvi. 16, 'He that 
believeth shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned/ 
The terms are peremptorily fixed ; there is no relaxation in the gospel 
covenant. Now this doth bind the heart exceedingly to consider, ver. 
152 of this psalm, ' Concerning thy testimonies, I have known them 
of old ; thou hast founded them for ever.' And partly as it urgeth to 
speediness of obedience. You will not get better terms, for the right 
eousness of God's terms is everlasting ; as good yield at first as at last 
The laws of Christianity are always the same, and your heart is not 
likely to be better by delay. Your standing out were more justifiable 
in the account of reason if you could get better terms. Partly as it 
engageth to seriousness whilst it carrieth the mind off from the vanities 
of the world into the midst of the world to come. I am not to mind 
what will content me for the present, but what will profit me for ever : 
holiness will abide when other things fade. My ways are to be 
scanned by an eternal rule. Some distinctions will not outlive time, 
as rich and poor, high and low ; but the distinction of holy or unholy, 
sanctified or unsanctified, these abide : 1 Peter i. 24, * All flesh is grass, 
and the glory of man as the flower of grass ; the grass withereth, and 
the flower thereof falleth away, but the word of the Lord endureth 
for ever/ Nothing stirreth us up more to provide for a better life than 
to consider the uncertainty of the world's glory, and the everlasting- 
ness of God's approbation according to the rule of his word. When 
all things are dissolved, we are to be tried by a rule that will never 
fail. Our pomp, and honour, and credit, and all things that we hunt 
after in the world, are soon blasted, but the gospel tells us of things 
that are everlasting everlasting torments and everlasting bliss ; and 
therefore our thoughts should be more about them : Isa. Iv. 2, ' Why 
do you spend your money for that which is not bread ? and your 
labour for that which satisfieth not ? ' and John vi. 27, ' Labour 
not for the meat that perisheth, but for that meat which endureth to 
everlasting life/ And partly as it engageth to constancy in obedience ; 
for it must last as long as our rule lasteth. You are eternally bound 
to love God, and fear him and obey him. We must not only begin 
well, or serve him now and then in a good mood, but so love God as- 
to love him for ever, so cleave to him as never to depart from him. 
For his law is an eternal obligation ; you must never cease your work 
till you receive your wages, and that is when you enter into eternity. 
Yea, much of our work is wages, loving, praising God ; all duties that 
do not imply weakness are a part of our happiness. Thus it hath a 
greater influence upon our obedience than we were at first aware of. 

3. Because it conduceth much to our comfort. The apostle telleth 
us that the comfort of believers is built upon two immutable grounds, 
therefore it is so strong, Heb. vi. 18. Now this everlasting righteous 
ness of God's testimonies is a comfort to us 

[1.] In all the changes of men's affections towards us. Sometimes 
they smile and sometimes they frown, but the promises ever remain 
the game. There is Yea and Nay with men, but not with the promises ; 
they are all Yea and Amen in Christ, 2 Cor. i. 20. Times alter and 
change, but the tenor of the covenant is always the same. 

[2.] It comforts us in the changes of God's dispensations to us. 

YER. 144.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 29 

God may change his dispensations, yet his purposes of grace stand 
firm, and are carried on unalterably, by various and contrary means. 
We must interpret providence by the covenant, not the covenant by 
providence. We know the meaning of his works best by going into 
his sanctuary. The world misconstrueth his work and dealing to his 
children many times. If it be rightly interpreted, you will find God's 
righteousness is an everlasting righteousness. Sometimes God's pro 
vidence is dark, but always just : Ps. xcvii. 2, ' Clouds and darkness 
are round about him; righteousness and judgment are the habitation 
of his throne ; ' Hab. i. 12, ' Art not thou from everlasting, Lord 
my God ? ' That was the prophet's support in those sad times, when 
& treacherous people were exalted, when he was embrangled and lost 
about God's dispensations ; this was his comfort and support, God's 
eternal immutability in the covenant. He is always the same, loveth 
his people as much as ever, as faithful and mindful of his covenant 
as ever ; only a veil of sense covereth our eyes that we cannot see it. 

[3.] It comforts us against the difficulties of obedience, when it 
groweth irksome to us. The difficulty and trouble is but for a while, 
but we shall everlastingly have the comfort of it : 2 Cor. iv. 17, ' For 
our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far 
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory/ Then it will be no grief 
of heart to us to have watched, prayed, striven against sin, suffered, 
continued with him notwithstanding all temptations : Kom. ii. 7, ' To 
them who, by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, honour, 
and immortality, eternal life/ 

[4.] It is a comfort in death. We change and are changed, but 
God is always the same, the righteousness of Christ will bear weight 
for ever : Dan. ix. 24, ' To bring in an everlasting righteousness/ 
The fruits of obedience last for ever : Ps. cxii. 7, ' His righteousness 
endureth for ever/ How comfortable is this to remember, that we 
may appear before God with this confidence, which he hath wrought 
in us, that the covenant of grace is an everlasting charter, that shall 
never be out of date nor wax old. 

Use. Let it be thus with us ; let it be so deeply imprinted upon 
our minds that it may leave an everlastingness there upon the frame 
of our spirits ; for then we are transformed by the word, and cast into 
the mould of it. Now, who are they that have an everlasting righteous 
frame of heart ? 

1. Such as act out of an everlasting principle, or the new nature 
which worketh above the world. The word ingrafted is called an 
incorruptible seed, or the seed of God, 1 Peter i. 23, ' that abideth in 
us/ 1 John iii. 9 ; when there is a divine principle in us, such a principle 
as is the seed and beginning of eternal life ; when the word hath 
rooted itself in our hearts. 

2. Such as by their constant progress towards an everlasting estate 
are going from strength to strength, serving God, and cleaving to him 
in a uniform constant course of holiness, not by fits and starts, but 
unchangeably : Acts xxiv. 16, 'To have always a conscience void of 
offence/ Again, when you are in such an estate wherein you can 
bear the trial of those everlasting rules : Gal. vi. 8, ' He that soweth 
to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption ; but he that soweth to 


the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting ; ' Eom. viii. 13, 
1 If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die ; but if ye through the Spirit 
do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live/ In short, if you have 
everlasting ends: 2 Cor. iv. 18, 'While we look not at the things 
that are seen, but at the things which are not seen ; for the things 
which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are 
eternal.' Not making things temporal our scope and aim ; that 
will not satisfy us : when we are deeply possessed with the thoughts 
of the other world : 1 Cor. ii. 12, * We have not received the spirit 
of the world,' and look upon all other things by the by, and use 
the world as if we used it not, 1 Cor. vii. 29, 30. 

Secondly, I come now to the prayer, ' Give me understanding, and 
I shall live/ 

1. Here is the benefit asked, understanding. 

2. The person asking, David, give me. 

3. The person from whom it is asked, from God. 

First, The benefit asked, ' Give me understanding ;' that is, the sav 
ing knowledge of God's testimonies. 

Doct. One great request that we have to put up to God should be 
for the saving knowledge of his testimonies. 

The reasons why this should be our great request to God. 

1. The necessity of understanding ; that will appear 

[1.] Because of our ignorance and folly, which is the cause of all 
our sin : Titus iii. 3, ' We ourselves were sometimes foolish and dis 
obedient ; ' therefore disobedient because foolish. Every natural man 
is a fool, blind in spiritual things ; whatever understanding or quick 
ness of judgment he hath in other things, in all things that relate to 
God and heaven, blind and foolish, and cannot see afar off: 2 Peter 
i. 9, ' He that lacketh these things is blind/ And you shall find that 
sinners are called fools : Prov. i. 22, ' How long, ye simple ones, will 
ye love simplicity ? and scorners delight in scorning and fools hate 
knowledge ? ' Ps. Ixxv. 4, ' I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly ; 
and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn/ They follow their own wit 
and will, to the ruin of bodies and souls, and all that they have. Their 
mirth is the mirth of fools, Eccles. vii. 4, 5 ; their service the sacrifice 
of fools, Eccles. v. 1 ; 2 Sam. xxiv. 10, * I have done very foolishly;' 
therefore give me understanding. 

[2.] Knowledge is our cure. The state of grace is called a state of 
light : Eph. v. 8, ' Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light 
in the Lord/ So that the new estate is described by light, a directive 
and a persuasive light. It is very notable in Eph. v. 14, * Arise from 
the dead, and God shall give thee light ; ' and Acts xxvi. 18, ' To turn 
them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God/ 
In our natural estate we are all over darkness, slaves to the prince of 
darkness, doing the works of darkness, and posting on apace into 
utter darkness ; and therefore it is light must cure us, and guide us 
into a better course : Col. i. 13, ' Who hath delivered us from the 
power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son/ 

2. Because of the excellency of understanding ; therefore we should 
make it our request to God. Here are four considerations : 

[1.] Knowledge in the general is man's excellency. It is our privi- 

VER. 144.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 31 

lege above the beasts ; many of them excel us in beauty of colour, in 
strength, and nimbleness, and vivacity, and long life, and acuteness of 
sense ; but we excel them in knowledge. And so God hath taught us 
more than the beasts of the field. Man is a rational creature, his life 
standeth in light : John i. 4, * In him was life, and the life was the 
light of men.' Other creatures have life, but not such a life as is light, 
are not endowed with a reasonable soul and a faculty of understand 
ing. The more of knowledge there is increased in us, the more of man 
there is in us. 

[2.] Divine knowledge is better than all other knowledge ; to know 
God's nature and will, to know how God will be pleased, and how we 
may come to enjoy him ; all other knowledge doth but please the 
fancy, this doth us good to the heart : Jer. ix. 23, 24, ' Let not the 
wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the mighty man glory in his might ; 
let not the rich man glory in his riches : but let him that glorieth 
glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me ; ' as not in 
strength, so not in natural wisdom. Here I may take the argument of 
the text. Men do not properly live if they want the light of heavenly 
wisdom ; without divine knowledge a man is little better than a beast. 
The endowment of reason was not given us merely to shift for our 
selves, or provide for the animal life ; other creatures do that better by 
instinct and natural sagacity, and are contented with less. No; man's 
life was given him for some other end, to know and serve his Maker. 

[3.] Of all the knowledge of God, practical knowledge is better than 
speculative ; not so much subtlely to be able to discourse of his nature 
as to obey his will : Jer. xxii. 16, ' He judged the cause of the poor 
and needy ; was not this to know me ? saith the Lord.' The know 
ledge of God is not measured by sharpness of wit, but by serious ready 
practice ; not strength of parts, but a good and honest heart ; so to 
understand as to keep them : Ps. cxi. 10, ' The fear of the Lord is the 
beginning of wisdom, and a good understanding have all they that do 
his commandments.' They understand best, not who can discourse 
most subtlely, but who live most holily. When our faith is more 
strong, our reverence of God increased, our obedience more ready, then 
is our knowledge sound ; when we follow those courses which we 
know God delighteth in, Jer. ix. 24, and study to please him in all 
things : 1 John ii. 4, ' He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his 
commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.' He that doth 
not make conscience of his duty, he knoweth no such sovereign being 
as God is, that hath power to command, to save, and to destroy : Titus 
i. 16, ' They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him.' 
So 1 John iii. 6, ' Whosoever sinneth hath not seen him nor known 
him.' Well, then, in giving his word, God's end was not to make trial 
of their wits, who could most sharply conceive ; nor of their memories, 
who could most firmly retain ; nor of their eloquence, who could most 
neatly discourse ; but of their hearts, who would most obediently submit 
to him : that is knowledge indeed which tendeth to use and practice. 
Look, as scire malum non est malum to know evil is not evil, for 
God knoweth evil, yet his knowledge is not evil ; so scire bonum, non 
est bonum, to know that which is good doth not make a man good. 
This is the distinction between understanding and will ; the under- 


standing draweth the object to itself, but the will is drawn by the ob 
ject to it. It' I understand anything, I am not in a moral sense that 
which I understand ; but if I will anything, or love anything, I am 
what I will and love. This is the difference between the two faculties. 

[4.] Transforming, regenerating, saving knowledge is the best part 
of practical knowledge. I add this because general knowledge may 
produce good life, or some outward conformity in the unregenerate : 
2 Peter ii. 20, ' For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the 
world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ/ 
Those that are destitute of the saving knowledge of Christ, they may 
cleanse their external conversation by that rational conviction, though 
not spiritual illumination, though strangers to inward mortification, 
and unrenewed in heart ; yea, avoid gross sins, perform external 
duties. Oh ! but/ the lively saving light, such as subdueth the heart 
to God, such as maketh a thorough change in us, that is the best : 
2 Cor. iii. 18, ' But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the 
glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to 
glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord/ When we so know Christ 
as to be like him, this is like heaven's knowledge : 1 John iii. 2, * And 
when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he 
is.' Common truths have another efficacy, when they understand them 
by the lively light of the Spirit ; when men know the torments of hell 
so as to flee from them : Mat. iii. 7, ' Flee from wrath to come ; ' as a 
man would out of a ship that is sinking or a house falling. So when 
we see heaven so as it maketh us seek after it, Heb. iv. 1, so to know 
Christ as to be made like him, this will do us good, and this is one of 
God's best gifts. 

Use. Oh ! then, beg this gift of God. Lord, give me understanding 
eyes. Do not beg riches, and honours, and great things in the world, 
but beg for understanding ; it is pleasing to God, 2 Chron. i. 12. This 
will bring other things with it. Be importunate, take no nay ; Prov. 
ii. 3, cry for knowledge, lift up thy voice for understanding. It will 
not come at the first call. Follow God as the blind man, Mark x. 5, 
' Lord, that my eyes may be opened, that I may receive my sight/ So 
be earnest with God that the eyes of your understanding may be opened, 
that you may have such a sight of heaven as that your affections may 
be set upon things above ; such a sight of hell as that ye may flee for 
refuge as if the avenger of blood were at your heels. Without this 
there can be no true piety : Ps. xiv. 3, ' There is none that under- 
standeth, there is none that seeketh after God/ Nay, there can be no 
salvation without this: Isa. xxvii. 11, ' It is a people of no under 
standing; therefore he that made them will have no mercy upon them/ 
&c. Ignorant people have a saying, He that made them will save 
them ; but it is said they have no understanding ; therefore he that 
made them will not save them ; and therefore beg of God that he 
would break in upon your minds with the lively light of his Spirit. 

Secondly, Here is the person asking this request, David, one well 
acquainted with God and his ways. 

Doct. None know so much of God and his ways but they still need 
to know more. Petitions for understanding do not only become begin 
ners, but grown Christians. 

VER. 144.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 33 

Three reasons of this point : 

1. That we may escape the deceits of a subtle devil, who lieth in 
wait for us, and assaults us on every hand, and maketh great advantage 
of the relics of our ignorance. The devils are called, Eph. vi. 12, 
' Rulers of the darkness of this world.' The dark part of the world is 
the devil's territory ; and so much of ignorance as is in the children 
of God, so much advantage hath Satan against us : 2 Cor. ii. 11, c Lest 
Satan should get an advantage ; for we are not ignorant of his devices.' 
The more we know, the less advantage the devil hath of us ; he layeth 
snares for us where we least suspect. 

2. That we may serve a holy God with that exactness and diligence 
as will become his excellency. The fault of the heathen was that 
1 when they knew God, they glorified him not as God/ Rom. i. 21 ; 
because they knew so little, they did not improve the knowledge they 
had ; and this is true in some degree of every Christian. God would 
be more loved, feared, trusted, served, did we know more of him. The 
clearer our sight, the warmer our hearts will be in his service : 1 Chron. 
xxviii. 9, ' Know thou the God of thy fathers, and serve him with a 
perfect heart and willing mind.' If we did know God, we would 
devote ourselves to his service. 

3. That we may be prepared for our everlasting estate Jby degrees. 
Our everlasting estate is called the inheritance of the saints in light. 
Now we grow more meet for it by increasing in holiness : Prov. iv. 
18, 19, ' The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more 
and more to the perfect day ; the way of the wicked is darkness, they 
know not at what they stumble/ The just man is like the light that 
increaseth as the day groweth ; the wicked are like the night that 
increaseth to thick darkness, till at last they fall into utter darkness. 

Use. Well, then, let not only poor ignorant creatures, or young 
beginners, take up David's prayer, but also grown Christians of longer 
standing. Go to God, and say, Give me understanding. Partly 
because practical knowledge is never at a stand ; knowing of things as 
we ought to know them, it is possible for a man to see round about 
the compass of revealed truths. Though extensively no more truths 
:are to be known, yet intensively we may know them better. The best 
are defective in their knowledge. And partly, too, because it is a very 
satisfactory thing to be sure we are in God's way ; in some nice debates 
it is hard to discern God's interest, when all circumstances must be 
considered, and temptations hinder the sight of our duty. And partly 
that we may justify the ways of God against cavils, Mat. xxiv. 24. 
We have to do with men that would even puzzle the very elect, if it 
were possible. 

Thirdly, To whom is this petition made ? To God. 

Doct. If we would have the knowledge of divine things, we must 
.-seek to God. 

I will give you some grounds of this. Partly because he is the 
fountain of knowledge, the first mind or intellect, called in scripture 
* the Father of lights,' James i. 17. He is the sun that must not only 
shine on us, to make us see things, but shine through us to make us 
be enlightened ourselves. Ours is but a participation. Now, to 
:show whence we receive all, God will be asked. And partly, too, 
because God gave the rule, and therefore he must interpret it, ejus cst 

VOL. ix. c 


interpretari cujus est condere. He can best show his own meaning ; 
and therefore in all doubtful cases repair to him, especially since he- 
hath undertaken in necessary cases : Jer. xxxi. 34, ' For they shall all 
know me from the least to the greatest ;' and loveth to be employed 
by his people for that end and purpose. Once more, without his Spirit 
the clearest light we have hath no efficacy, Eom. i. 18. He will have- 
it sought. 

I come to the third and last tiling, the fruit and benefit, ' And I 
shall live.' I shall explain the words in the prosecution of this point. 

Doct. The saving knowledge of God's testimonies is the only way to- 

There is a threefold life : 

1. Life natural. 

2. Life spiritual. 

3. Life eternal. 

In all these considerations may the point be made good. 

First, Life is taken for the life of nature, or the life of the body, or 
life temporal, called ' this life' in scripture, 1 Cor. xv. 19 ; 1 Tim. iv. 8. 
Among outward things nothing is more precious than life ; it maketli 
us capable of enjoying what the world can afford to us. We give all 
that we have to preserve it, Job ii. 9. Indeed, in competition with 
worldly things, we do well to value it ; but not in competition with 
our duty and love to Christ ; so we must not count our life dear to us; 
Acts xx. 24, * I count not my life dear to me ; ' and Luke xiv. 26, 
* Whosoever hateth not father and mother,' &c., 'and his own life/ 
Out of the conscience of our duty to Christ, we must be willing to 
expose it, for he can give us a better life, John xi. 24 ; but otherwise 
so far as we can preserve it with our duty, it must be precious to us, 
and we must seek the interests of it. Well, then, in this sense it is no 
unbecoming thing for a Christian to say, 'Give me understanding, 
that I may live.' My life present, which mine enemies seek to take from 
me, this life is from God, both originally and in a way of constant pre 
servation. God gave it at first : Gen. ii. 7, c God formed man of the 
dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and 
man became a living soul ; ' and still this life is at God's disposing, and 
he will sooner continue it to us in a way of obedience than in a way of 
sin : Job x. 12, * Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visita 
tion hath preserved my spirit ; ' Acts xvii. 28, ' In him we live and 
move, and have our being.' The same power that giveth us being main- 
taineth it as long as he pleaseth. All is at the daily dispose of God. 

2. Life is better preserved in a way of obedience than by evil-doing ; 
that provoketh God to cast us off, and exposes us to dangers. It is 
not in the power of the world to make us live or die a day sooner or 
longer than God pleaseth. If God will make us happy, they cannot 
make us miserable. Therefore ' Give me understanding, and I shall 
live ; ' that is, lead a comfortable and happy life for the present. Pre 
vent sin, and you prevent danger. Obedience is the best way to pre 
serve life temporal. As great a paradox as it seems to the world, it is 
a scripture truth : Prov. iv. 4, ' Keep my commandments, and live ; ' 
and ver. 13, ' Take hold of instruction ; let her not go, keep her, for 
she is thy life ;' and Prov. iii. 16, ' Length of days is in her right 
hand, and in her left riches and honour ;' and ver. 18, ' She is a tree 

VEU. 144.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 35 

of life/ The knowledge and practice of the word is the only means to 
live comfortably and happily here, as well as for ever hereafter. 

Secondly, Life spiritual; that is twofold the life of justification 
and the life of sanctification. 

1. The life of justification : Kom. v. 18, 'The free gift came upon 
all men to justification of life.' He is dead not only on whom the 
hangman hath done his work, but also he on whom the judge hath 
passed sentence, and the law pronounceth him dead. In this sense we 
were all dead, and justification is called justification to life ; there is 
no living in this sense without knowledge : Isa. liii. 11, 'By his know 
ledge shall my righteous servant justify many/ We live by faith, and 
faith cometh by hearing, and hearing doth no good unless the Lord 
giveth understanding ; as meats nourish not unless received and 

2. The life of sanctification : Eph. ii. 1, 'And you hath he quickened 
who were dead in trespasses and sins/ And men live not properly till 
they live the life of grace ; they live a false counterfeit life, not a 
blessed, happy, certain, and true life. Now this life is begun and 
carried on by saving knowledge : Col. iii. 10, * The new man is 
renewed in knowledge/ Again, men are said to be 'alienated from the 
life of God, through the ignorance that is in them,' Eph. iv. 18. They 
that are ignorant are dead in sin. Life spiritual cometh by knowledge, 
hence beginneth the change of the inward man, and thenceforth we 
live. Give me understanding, ut vere in te vivam, that the true life 
begun in me may grow and increase daily, but never be quenched 
by sin. 

Thirdly, Life everlasting, or our blessed estate in heaven. So it is 
said of the saints departed, they all live to God, Luke xx. 38 ; and 
this is called water of life, the tree of life, the crown of life ; pro 
perly this is life. What is the present life in comparison of everlast 
ing life ? The present life, it is mors vitalis, a living death, or mor- 
talis vita, a dying life, a kind of death ; it is always in fluxu, like a 
stream ; it runneth from us as fast as it cometh to us : Job xiv. 2, ' He 
flieth as a shadow / and continueth not/ We die as fast as we live; 
it differeth but as the point from the line where it terminateth. It is 
not one and the same, no permanent thing ; it is like the shadow of a 
star in a flowing stream ; its contentments are base and low, Isa. Ivii. 
10, called * the life of thy hands ; ' it is patched up, of several crea 
tures, fain to ransack the storehouses of nature to support a ruinous 
fabric. And compare it with a life of grace here ; it doth not exempt 
us from sin, nor miseries. Our capacities are narrow, we are full of 
fears and doubts and dangers ; but in the life of glory we shall not sin 
or sorrow more. This is meant here, ' The righteousness of God's 
testimonies is everlasting : give me understanding, and I shall live/ 
It is chiefly meant of the life, of glory ; this is the fruit of saving 
knowledge, John xvii. 3, when we so know God and Christ as to come 
to God by him. 

Use. Let us seek the saving knowledge of God, that we may live, 
first spiritually here, and gloriously here. But few mind it ; all desire 
sharpness of wit, and to be as knowing as others ; no man would be a 
fool, but would own a wickedness in morals rather than a weakness in 


intellectuals ; but who thinketh of being wiser for heaven, of being 
seasoned with the fear of God ? Most men choke all the motions and 
inclinations they have in that kind with worldly delights and worldly 
businesses, being alive to the world and dead to God, thronging their 
hearts with carnal vanities, but leaving no room for higher and serious 

But at length be persuaded ; what do men desire but life ? If you 
know God and Christ with a saving knowledge, you shall have it. (1.) 
We were made for this end, to come to the knowledge of the truth and 
be saved, 1 Tim. ii. 4. We do not live merely to live, but to make 
provision for a better life ; not to satisfy our bodies out of God's store 
house, but to furnish our souls with grace, and exercise ourselves in his 
law day and night, ihat we may know his will concerning us, and pro 
vide for a better life, and live according to the directions of his word. 
(2.) No creature is so bad as man when he degenerateth from his end 
for which he was created : it is not so much for the sea to break its 
bounds, or to have a defect in the course of nature, as the degenera 
tion of man. (3.) You live not properly when destitute of the life of 
God and heavenly wisdom : he doth not live the life of a man, nor pre 
serve the rectitude of his nature. 


I cried with my whole heart; hear me, Lord: I will keep thy 
statutes. VER. 145. 

IN these words are 

1. An allegation, I cried with my zvhole heart. 

2. A petition, hear me. 

3. A promise of obedience, I will keep thy statutes. 

1. In the allegation we have a description of prayer, by the two 
adjuncts of it : 

[1.] Intension and fervency, ' I cried.' 

[2.] The sincerity and integrity of it, ' With my whole heart.' 

2. The petition is for audience ; only, what we translate ' hear me/ 
is in the Hebrew c answer me.' Now this being a general, it is un 
certain what he prayed for : it may be for deliverance out of trouble ; 
for in the 146th verse it is ' save me/ but in the 149th verse it is 
' quicken me/ which implieth the vigour of the spiritual life, or grace 
to keep God's statutes. Whether for the one or the other, David would 
be heard. 

3. Here is a promise of obedience, ' I will keep thy statutes ;' which 
is mentioned either as the end and scope of his prayer, * That I may 
*eep thy statutes ; ' or as a holy vow and promise which the saints are 
wont to mingle with their prayers, ' I will/ &c. He would diligently 
serve God if the Lord would hear him. 

First, I begin with the allegation or description of David's carriage 
in prayer. David devoured not his grief, nor nourished his unbelief, 
but opened his heart unto God, and that in an affectionate manner : 

VER. 145.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 37 

he did not call, but cry. Crying noteth vehemency and earnestness, 
and is opposite to careless formality and deadness. The note from 
thence is 

Doct. That there is a holy vehemency and fervour required in 

Here I shall show 

1. That we may cry. 

2. That we must cry. 

3. Wherein it consisteth. 

First, We may cry in our afflictions. David doth so for help and 
relief, and it is not inconsistent with patience for us to do so ; for our 
Lord Jesus had his cries, Heb. v. 7, in the extremity of his sufferings, 
without any impeachment of his courage and patience. So did Job, 
chap. xxx. 28, ' I went mourning without the sun ; I stood up and I 
cried in the congregation/ It argues we have a sense of our condition, 
and are under a pinching necessity ; and therefore may complain to 
God, though not of God. They are sullen and obstinate and senseless 
that have no feeling, and so no complaint to make, when God lasheth 

Secondly, We must cry. For 

1. The spirit of grace was given for this end: Eom. viii. 15, 'Ye 
have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba Father ; ' 
not to say, but cry. He assisteth us by groans : Kom. viii. 26, ' The 
Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot 
be uttered/ And such a spirit of prayer should we all labour for, to 
come to God with affection and humble and sensible groans, if we 
cannot come with the pomp of gifts. There is good sense in broken- 
ness of heart, though it be accompanied with brokenness of speech ; 
for God knoweth what a groan meaneth, and will not refuse the work 
of his Spirit. 

2. Because the saints have all done so. Their way of praying is 
crying : Ps. xviii. 6, ' In my distress I cried unto the Lord ; ' Ps. 
xxxiv. 6, ' This poor man cried unto the Lord ; ' Ps. cxxx. 1, ' Out 
of the depths have I cried unto thee, Lord ; ' and Ps. Iv. 17, ' At 
noon will I pray, and cry aloud ; ' and in many other places. Others 
can say a prayer, but they cry it out. 

3. These cries are heard and answered ; as in all the former places, 
so Ps. xxii. 5, ' Our fathers cried unto thee, and were delivered ; ' Ps. 
xxxiv. 17, ' The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth ; ' fioydeco, the 
word ' to help ' is ek porjv 6eiv to run to the cry. An arrow drawn 
with full strength will pierce deep. 

4. Other prayers are not comely. It doth not become God to 
whom we pray ; dead service doth not become the living God : Mai. 
i. 14, ' Cursed be the deceiver which hath in his flock a male, and 
voweth and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing : for I am a 
great king, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name is dreadful among 
the heathen/ Slight dealing in God's service argueth mean thoughts 
of God. It doth not become the Spirit by whom we pray, as in the 
first reason ; nor doth it become the blessings for which we pray : 
God will not give a mercy till it be valued. If we be indifferent, and 
pray for things of course, without any esteem of them, we bespeak our 


own denial. Then we undervalue the grace we seek if we seek it so 
as if we cared not whether we ohtained our request or no, for form's 
sake we must say something. When things are prized we are earnest, 
and God will have us earnest, to ask, seek, and knock, Mat. vii. 7. If 
you have good things, you must do so, and will do so, before you have 
them. Nor doth it become the state of want wherein you pray. 
Where there is real indigence and felt necessity, it will sharpen your 
affections and put an accent upon your prayers. You will not tell a 
tale or a cold story of your own wants, but cry aloud for help : Jonah 
ii. 2, * I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord.' And the 
saints cry day and night, Luke xviii. 18. A true sense of want will 
sharpen our sluggish desires ; the hunger-bitten beggar will not easily 
be put off. 

Thirdly, Wherein this crying consisteth. 

1. In the earnestness of the affection, not in the loudness of the 
voice : Gal. iv. 6, ' He hath sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, 
crying, Abba Father.' It is a cry, not of the mouth, but of the heart; 
it lieth not in the lifting up of the external voice, or the agitation of 
the bodily spirits, but the serious bent and frame of the spirit, Kom. 
viii. 26, arevayfjiois aXaX^rot?, inward groans, and holy meltings and 
breathings of soul after God. Moses cried after God, Exod. xiv. 18 ; 
but we hear of no words which Moses spake. We hear of Israel's 
crying, and have an account of their words, hot and full of impatience, 
ver. 10 ; but not a word that Moses said, yet he cried unto the Lord. 
Israel was in straits, the Ked Sea before, the Egyptians behind. 
Clamdbat populus, et non audiebatur : tacebat Moses, et audiebatur, 
saith Ambrose. Moses' silence was sooner heard than their cry. Our 
groans and tears have a language which God understands. It is 
said, 1 Sam. i. 13, that ' Hannah spake in her heart, only her lips 
moved, but her voice was not heard/ That is the better crying, in 
sighs and groans, rather than words ; as the child that cannot speak 
will cry and make moan for the breast. God hath heard the cry of 
the heart without that of the tongue, but never the cry of the tongue 
without that of the heart. Quibus arteriis opus est, si pro sonitu 
audiamur ! what lungs and sides must we have, if the loudness of 
the voice did it ! A dumb beggar gets an alms at Christ's gate if he 
can but make signs, when his tongue cannot plead for him. 

2. This spiritual crying is not the earnestness of carnal affections ; 
that is stirred up by the flesh, but this cry is stirred up by the Spirit, 
who maketh request, Kara Seov, Eom. viii. 27. God should have 
work enough to do if he did answer all men's prayers. Some would 
set him a task to provide meat for this, others for that lust. This 
man prayeth heartily for his pleasures, another for honour, another 
for preferment, another to satisfy his revenge. A carnal spring may 
send forth. high tides of affection, James iv. 3; but few seek grace to 
serve God : they would make God serve with their sins. These are 
not the groans and breathings of the Spirit, but the eructations and 
belches of the flesh. Therefore the vehemency of the affection is not 
only to be regarded, but the regularity, that they be not stirred up by 
the flesh, but guided by the Spirit. 

3. It is not a mere natural fervency ; that is the cry of nature after 

YER. 145.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 39 

ease, but not the cry of grace after God, and is but bowling in God's 
account, Hosea vii. 14. The heart is not affected with that which is 
the true misery, sin and the wrath of God ; nor sincerely engaged to 
God, from whom they expect help : and then how instant and earnest 
soever men be to be rid of their burden, their prayers are but like 
the moanings of the beasts under pain, and the howling of dogs, or 
the gaping of hungry ravens, Ps. cxlvii. It is lawful to ask ease, but 
we must ask in a spiritual manner. It is lawful to pray for temporal 
blessings, but not in the first place, or with the neglect of better 
things. Prayer properly is the vent of grace, and the desires of a 
renewed heart expressed to God, Zech. xii. 10. 

Use 1. To reprove most men for their deadness and carelessness in 
prayer. Prayer is a part of natural worship. All that will acknow 
ledge God and a providence will acknowledge a necessity of praying 
to God, especially in their straits. The pagan mariners cried every 
man to his god in a tempest, Jonah i. 6 ; but though all will pray in 
-one sort or other, yet few pray in good earnest. Some say a prayer, 
but they do not pray in prayer, James v. 17. Elijah prayed earnestly. 
Their prayers are conceived in a cold and customary track of devotion. 
Others flow in words without spirit and life ; their tongue is as the 
pen of a ready writer, but the heart is dead and carelessly affected, 
for they are indifferent whether they be heard or not. Prayer is in 
deed the work of their invention, but not the expression of their 
rspiritual desire. The mind conceiveth a rational prayer, but the 
heart is not poured out before God ; and so it is discoursing rather 
than crying. Words are the outside of prayer, sighs and groans lie 
.nearer the heart, and do better discover the temper of it, and are more 
regarded by God than all the charms of speech : Ps. vi. 8, ' The Lord 
hath heard the voice of my weeping.' Tears have a language which our 
Father understandeth ; a want of affection is more than a defect of words. 
Broken words with a spiritual affection do more than a well-set speech 
with unbrokenness of heart. Others have a natural fervency, but not 
renewed affections ; pray from their own interest, or pray passionately 
for carnal things : Num. xi. 4, ' They fell a-lusting, and wept, saying, 
Who will give us flesh ? ' They may be importunate for their own 
ease and welfare : ' Give me children or else I die/ saith passionate 
Kachel. Natural desires are very passionate, yea, for spiritual things 
on their own terms. Would not a man desire pardon and heaven ? 
Whose heart doth not engage him to look after them ? Some that 
are renewed yet are too cold in prayer, do not cry. It is not enough 
to have the qualification of the person, but the prayer must be quali 
fied also, James v. 16, Se^crt? fapyovpevy ; it must be a well-wrought 
prayer, otherwise it availeth not ; yea, our earnestness must increase 
according to the weight and moment of what we pray for. When 
Peter was in prison the church made instant and earnest prayer, 
66770^9 eVrez/?)?, Acts xii. 5, as in the margin it is ; and Christ had his 
KTvecrTpov, Luke "xxii. 44. But now the children of God are con 
scious to themselves of much deadness and drowsiness, and are so low 
sometimes that they are riot heard, scarce breathe in prayer, so far from 
crying. But what is the reason of this carelessness ? 

1. Want of sense. They have no feeling of their wants, and there- 


fore pray perfunctorily. The poor in spirit, the mourner, and meek, 
are put before the desirer, Mat. v. Men must be affected with their 
wants before they be earnest after a supply. Jesus Christ was sensible 
of his burden, and therefore he ' offered up supplications with strong 
crying and tears/ Heb. v. 7. And if man were once sensible of his- 
sins by which his Saviour suffered, he would be fervent in his prayers,, 
and most earnestly deprecate the wrath of God, as his Saviour did. 
A smart sense of wants quickens prayers. If we were always alike 
affected, as we are in a deep distress, or fears of death, or some notable 
danger, we should not need many directions to teach us to pray fer 
vently ; but because such a sense is soon worn off, our prayers grow 
cold and careless. 

2. As they are ^tongue-tied through sin, and carnal liberty hath 
brought an indisposition upon them, 1 John iii. 20, 21. He that 
hath wronged another will not easily repair to him, and crave his help 
in straits. 

3. Want of spiritual desire. Prayer is but the acting of desire ; 
as desire is more or less, so is our cry in prayer. He that asketh' 
remission of his sins, but doth not thirst after it with an earnest and 
burning desire, doth but pray for it out of course, and not as it 
becometh a creature that hath a sense of God's anger against sin. 
He that asketh the mortification of sin, but doth not desire it out of 
true desire, flowing from the hatred of sin dwelling in him, doth but 
pray for form's sake. He that desireth the deliverance of the church, 
but doth not desire it out of a true love to the church, will never pray 
heartily and in good earnest for it : Isa. Ixii. 1, ' For Zion's sake I will' 
not hold my peace/ &c. A man whose soul truly loveth the interests- 
of the church will be solicitous for it ; as Eli trembled for the ark of 
God, 1 Sam. iv. 13. So when at ease we ask temporal supplies for 
fashion's sake. God must have the name, though we eat our own. 
bread, and wear our own apparel. 

4. Want of reverence to God, and therefore they babble over words 
without sense and feeling; they do not see him that is invisible: 
Eccles. v. 1, 2, ' Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God,, 
and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools ; for they 
consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let 
not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God, for God is in 
heaven and thou upon earth : therefore let thy words be few/ Keep- 
thy heart and affections when thou goest into God's presence ; a little 
outward lip-service is but the sacrifice of fools, an affront to the power 
and majesty of God : Mai. i. 8, ' Offer it now unto thy governor ; will 
he be pleased with thee or accept thy person? saith the Lord of 

5. Want of faith : Mat. xi. 28, ' Come unto me, all ye that labour 
and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest/ To the woman of Canaan, 
that would take no denial, Christ saith, ' woman, great is thy faith/ 
The blind man cried after the Son of David, as we run to a rich man 
that is charitably disposed for an alms. If we were persuaded that we- 
should be the better for coming to God, we should not be so slight and 
careless in our approaches to him. 

Use 2. To press you to this crying or holy vehemency in prayer. 

VER. 145.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 41 

The apostle biddeth us to * continue instant in prayer/ 
repovvTes, continue with all your might in prayer : Col. iv. 12, 
aycoviZopevos, l Labouring fervently in prayer for yon/ The word 
signifieth to be striving in a battle, arid in an agony for them : it 
hath life in it. But what is it ? 

1. When the heart worketh in prayer as before. 

2. When you follow the suit, and will riot give over praying : Luke 
xviii. 1, 'He spake a parable to them to this end, that men ought 
always to pray, and not to faint/ Luke xi. 8, Sia rrjv dva&eiav, 
1 Because of his importunity he will rise/ &c. The prophet telleth 
God plainly what he would do : Isa. Ixii. 1, 'For Zion's sake will I 
not hold my peace, arid for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest/ &c. So* 
Jacob : Gen. xxxii. 26, ' I will not let thee go unless thou bless me.' 
Absque te non recedam. 

3. When deaf to disappointments and discouragements from without, 
from within, from himself, from God himself: 1 Sam. xii. 23, * God 
forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you/ 
&c. ; notwithstanding the many objections in his heart, what God 
would do to a rebellious people. So Elijah when the heavens were as- 
brass and the clouds as iron; and blind Bartimeus: 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 on me/ When 
God seemeth to cast out prayer, to give no answer, or a contrary one. 
So Daniel when forbidden to pray : Dan. vi. 10, c When Daniel knew 
that the writing was signed, he went into his house and prayed three 
times a day as afore-time ;' he doth not make one suit the less, or abate 
one jot of his zeal. To cleave to God when he seemeth to thrust us 
from him, Job xiii. 1 5, this is a holy obstinacy, very acceptable unto 
God. The woman of Canaan standeth fending and proving with 
Christ, till he giveth her satisfaction ; then ' be it unto thee as thou 
wilt/ When we turn discouragements into arguments and motives of 
believing, and draw nearer to Christ the more he seemeth to drive us 
from him. However God wrestle with such for a while, it is with a 
purpose to give faith the victory, and to yield us himself to do for us 
what our souls desire of him. You pray and God keepeth silence : 
' He answered her not a word/ Mat. xv. 23. It is not said he heard 
not a word, but he answered her not a word ; these two differ. Christ 
often heareth when he doth not answer. His not answering is indeed 
an answer, and speaks this, Pray on, and continue your crying still ; 
the door is kept bolted that you may knock again. Afterwards a 
rebuke. First, he answereth not a word, then giveth an answer to the 
disciples, not to the woman, ' I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the 
house of Israel/ and then ' It is not meet to take the children's bread 
and to cast it to dogs.' But she turned the discouragement into an 
argument/ and she said, ' Truth, Lord, yet the dogs eat of the crumbs 
which fall from their master's table/ 

4. Holy fervency and vehemency will be argumentative, and plead 
with God ; as Abraham: Gen. xviii. 25, ' Shall not the judge of all 
the earth do right ?' So Jacob: Gen. xxxii. 9, Jacob pleadeth God's 
promise ; Return unto thy father's house ; I will deal well with thee ; 
Lord, I undertook not this journey but upon this encouragement. The 


little honour God hath by the church's calamities, Ps. xliv. 12; Isa. 
lii. 4, 5. The praise God will have from his people, Ps. cxlii. 6. Do 
it, as David in the text, ' I will keep thy statutes/ The chief argu 
ments are God's covenant : Ps. Ixxiv. 22, ' Arise, God, plead thine 
own cause ; remember how the foolish man reproacheth thee daily. 
Have respect to thy covenant.' The merits of Christ : Lord, hear for 
the Lord's sake. Desire is witty to find out arguments and reasoning 
to enforce the things we sue for. 

But how shall we get it ? 

[1.] Have a sincere desire to the things asked. We will cry for what 
we value and earnestly desire : Prov. ii. 3-5, * If thou criest for know 
ledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding ; if thou seek for her 
as for silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures ; then shalt 
thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.' 

[2.] Be persuaded of the Lord's willingness to hear and power to 
help. A rich and bountiful person, a beggar will not let him go, if 
he see only a rich man : Mat. viii. 2, ' Lord, if thou wilt thou canst ;' 
it is in the power of your hand to help us. But is not God willing 
also ? Suppose it be an uncertainty, yet cry mightily unto God, 
' Who can tell that he will not repent ? ' Jonah iii. 8, 9. If there be 
but a possibility, yet try what importunity will do : Ps. Ivii. 2, * I will 
cry unto God most high, unto God who performeth all things for me/ 
He hath heard once, and will again. 

[3.] Beg the assistance of the Spirit. Our necessities are not sharp 
enough to quicken our affections, they need the secret influence of 
grace ; it is his work to set us a-groaning and crying to God. How 
well are we provided for, with an advocate and notary : Kom. viii. 26 ; 
Jude 20. 

[4.] Let us rouse up ourselves : Isa. Ixiv. 7, ' There is none that 
calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee ;' 
Psa, Ivii. 8, ' Awake up, my glory; awake, psaltery and harp ; I myself 
will awake early/ We must ava^anrvpeiv ' stir up the gift of God, 
which is in us/ 2 Tim. i. 6. 

[5.] Let us take heed we do not quench the Spirit, 1 Thes. v. 19, 
bring deadness on our hearts by carnal liberty. So much enlarged as 
we are to the flesh, so much straitened in the spirit. Where desires are 
after other things, there will be little delight in prayer. 

[6.] The way to be fervent is to be frequent and often with God. 
A key seldom turned rusts in the lock. The fire of the sanctuary 
was never to go out. By great interruptions we lose what we have 
wrought : ' The way of the ' Lord is strength to the upright, but 
destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity/ Prov. x. 29. 

I come now to the second qualification, ' With my whole heart ;' 
which importeth his integrity and sincerity in praying. 

Doct Our prayers to God must be sincere as well as fervent. 

The heart must be in them, and the whole heart. This noteth 

1. Seriousness, that we heed what we say, otherwise we do not pour 
out our hearts before God. It is so far from being a spiritual act 
that it is not a rational act, but like the parrots speaking by rote, or 
as children say their prayers ; and we must not be always children. 
Surely we do not speak to God as God, as an all-seeing Spirit, if we 

VER. 145.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 43 

do not mind what we say, John iv. 24 ; and Prov. xxviii. 23, ' Burning 
lips and a wicked heart are as a potsherd covered with silver dross.' 

2. A hearty desire or affectionateriess. Praying from memory arid 
invention, and praying from affection, are two distinct things ; yea, 
praying from conscience, and praying from the heart. Many times 
the mind is in prayer when the heart is not in it. The mind or con 
science dictates what is fit to be asked, but the heart doth not con 
sent, or not urge it to make any such suit to God ; and so the prayer 
is repeated in the very making : Psa. Ixvi. 18, ' If I regard iniquity 
in my heart, God will not hear me.' The understanding judge th that 
a meet prayer, but the heart is biassed the contrary way to some 
known sin. Therefore as David calleth all that is within him to bless 
God, Ps. ciii. 1, so to pray to him memory, understanding, conscience, 
will, affections, all that is within us must attend upon this work ; that 
which God heareth is desire : Ps. x. 17, ' Lord, thou hast heard the 
desire of the humble : thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause 
thine ear to hear/ . So Ps. cxlv. 19, 'He will fulfil the desire of them 
that fear him : he also will hear their cry, and will save them.' 

3. The prevalency of these affections. That God and his interest 
be uppermost in the soul, and the heart be effectually bent towards 
him ; for prayer is not a work barely of our natural faculties, but of 
grace guiding, ordering, and inclining those faculties ; not only a work 
of understanding and will, but of faith, love, fear, zeal, hatred of sin, 
temperance, patience, and other virtues, which do bend the heart to 
wards God, and draw it off from other things : and without them the 
understanding will not be clear, and have any deep sense of the worth 
of spiritual things, 2 Peter i. 19. Without these, the will is remiss, 
and they never pursue them in good earnest. We may wish for them, 
but shall not will them : As Balaam, ' Oh that I might die the death 
of the righteous ! But he loved the wages of iniquity,' 2 Peter ii. 15, 
and so spake words which his heart allowed not. The affections will 
be diverted to other things, and we cannot have those longings and 
strong desires after grace, Ps. cxix. 36 ; Col. iii. 2 ; or at best but a 
little passionate earnestness for the present. 

4. A universal care to please God in all tilings, without harbouring 
any known sin in our hearts, Ps. Ixvi. 18 ; Ps. xvii. 3, ' Thou has proved 
mine heart ; thou hast visited me in the night ; thou hast tried me, 
and slialt find nothing ; ' nothing contrary to the new covenant, no 
guile ; nothing in his heart contrary to what was in his mouth. So 
no insincerity found : Job xi. 13-14, ' If thou prepare thine heart, and 
stretch out thy hand towards him : if iniquity be in thy hand, put it 
far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles.' If you 
mean to call upon God with any confidence, all that is displeasing to 
him must be cast out of the heart. This is the best preparation ; all 
filth must be swept out when you come to the holy God, for he will 
not do us good till we are fit to receive good. Therefore if you mean 
to stretch out your hand in prayer, thus you must do, then may you lift 
up your face without spot, have boldness and confidence in prayer ; but 
when the heart is wedded to any vanity, God will not hear : Job xxxv. 13, 
' Surely God will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it/ 

Use. To persuade us to pray with our whole hearts ; for 


1. God will not be mocked, Gal. vi. 7 ; that is in vain. You may 
venture to mock God, put him off with vain pretences, but it will cost 
you dear. He knoweth the thoughts afar off, Ps. cxxxix. 2 ; and 
Heb. iv. 12-13, ' The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper 
than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of 
soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of 
the thoughts and intents of the heart ; neither is there any creature 
that is not manifest in his sight ; but all things are naked and open 
unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do/ Though man cannot 
find you out, yet God can. 

2. God hath expressly told you, ' The prayer of the upright is his 
delight/ Prov. xv. 8. He will pardon many defects, but he will not 
pardon want of sincerity, either in the person or prayer. Though you 
cannot bring the |)omp of gifts, or exact righteousness, yet, if sincere, 
God will delight in you ; he measureth your prayer by that. 

3. Where there is a moral integrity you do not dissemble ; God can 
find the defect of supernatural integrity : Deut. v. 29, 'I have heard 
the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto 
thee ; they have well said in all that they have spoken : oh that there 
were such an heart in them/ &c. Therefore be sure your lips do not 
feign, Ps. xvii. 1, and pretend more grace than you have ; so that for 
the main your hearts be upright, seriously, readily bent to please him, 
in all things. To this end 

[1.] The tongue must not only pray, but the heart. How dare you 
tell God to his face that you love him, and fear him, and trust in him, 
when there is no such matter ? No such forgery as counterfeiting the 
voice of God's Spirit. The heart should be first and chief in prayer, 
Ps. xli. 1 ; and Lam. iii. 4, ' Lift up your hearts with your hands 
to God in the heavens/ There is the chief voice ; the hand without 
it is nothing. 

[2.] You must make conscience of graces as well as gifts, yea, more 
than gifts: 1 Cor. xii. 31, 'But covet earnestly the best gifts ; and yet 
show I unto you a more excellent way ; ' with 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2. And 
bewail unbrokenness of heart more than brokenness of expression ; if 
you chatter like cranes, yet if there be a holy desire in it, God will hear. 

[3.] You must pray earnestly in secret as well as in company : Mai 
vi. 5, 6, * When thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are, 
for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners 
of the streets, that they may be seen of men : but thou, when thou 
prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray 
to thy Father which is in secret/ &c. We have more enlargement 
there, because we represent our own case to God. Mourn apart : 
Jer. xiii. 17, ' My soul shall weep in secret places/ We are flat, cold, 
loose, careless in private ; strive to speak with the same power, life, 
holiness in private as you would in public. 

[4.] What you would be in prayer, you must be out of prayer : Prov. 
xxvi. 7, * The legs of the lame are not equal, so is a parable in the 
mouth of a fool ; ' as the legs of the lame, one doth not answer another. 
They are devout, all of a fire in their prayers, but neglectful of God 
in their conversations : Eph. vi. 18, ' Praying always with all prayer 
and supplication in the spirit, watching thereunto with all perseverance; 

YER. 145.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 45 

Prov. xxviii. 9, 'He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, 
even his prayer shall be an abomination/ He doth not live his prayers. 
We must live in the same frame. 

[5.] You must pray as affectionately for heavenly as you would for 
earthly things. A carnal man's mind and heart is upon worldly 
things, and spiritual things lie by ; contrary to Mat. vi. 33, where we 
iire bid, ' First to seek the kingdom of God, and the righteousness 
thereof,' &c. ; and Ps. xxvii. 4, ' One thing have I desired of the Lord, 
that will I seek after ; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all 
the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in 
his temple.' They have no savour for other requests, but can find 
tender affections for safety, ease, sloth : other petitions do but bear 
these company ; there is their business with God. If God will give 
these things, we will give a discharge for other things ; so that their 
prayers do not come from grace, but nature ; thanks to his natural 
necessities for all the affections he hath in prayer. 

[6.] We must not only have our flashes and good moods. So Balaam : 
Num. xxiii. 10, ' Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my 
last end be like his.' So those, John vi. 34, ' Then said they unto him, 
Lord, evermore give us this bread/ Strange strivings for the present, 
but it is only for privileges. It is vanishing : Job xxvii. 10, * Will 
he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God?' 
They would have heaven without holiness ; pardon of sin, rather than 
power against it, or a new heart. He will pray when he seeth his 
time, as men take strong waters in a pang : he hath a praying fit upon 
him in adversity, not in prosperity : Hosea v. 15, ' In their affliction 
they will seek me early/ 

[7.] As you pray to God, so you must entirely trust him : James i. 
6, 7, ' Let him ask in faith, nothing wavering ; for he that wavereth 
is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind^and tossed/ A carnal 
man wavereth ; he would fain have help from God, but his heart 
runneth upon other things : Hosea vii. 11, * Ephraim is like a silly 
dove without heart ; they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria/ Their 
hearts are seeking to other refuges, however they call to God among the 
rest. Ahaz would not ask a sign that would engage him to depend 
upon God, and keep him from running to other shifts. Sometimes he 
thinketh prayer will do it, and by and by desponds, dareth not trust 
God upon his prayers; he knoweth not what course to take, whether to 
shift for himself, or tarry God's leisure. But one that commits all to 
God is fixed : Ps. cxii. 7, ' He shall not be afraid of evil tidings, his 
heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord/ He is freed from anxious cares. 


I cried with my whole heart ; hear me, Lord ; I will keep thy 
statutes. YER. 145. 

SECONDLY, Here is the petition, ' Hear me;' or, as it is in the Hebrew, 
' answer me ; ' not in words, but deeds. 


Dock God's children when they pray are earnest for an answer. 

To give you some instances : Ps. Ixxxv. 8, ' I will hear what God 
the Lord will speak.' A gracious heart doth not make prayer a vain 
babbling or an empty prattle, but a gracious exercise that will in time 
get an answer, and obtain a good return or blessing from the Lord. 
Therefore they are listening and hearkening after news from heaven, 
if they can hear anything from God, how he receiveth their prayers, 
and what he will do for them: Micah vii. 7, 'Therefore I will look 
unto the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation : my God will 
hear me.' They are not only waiting, but observing and watching 
what cometh in upon prayer; for they are certain it is not breath 
poured out in the air, but a petition commended to their God, who 
hath promised to hear them. So Hab. ii. 1, 'I will stand upon my 
watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will 
say to me.' He compareth himself to a watchman that is spying 
abroad if he can get any intelligence of any approaching comfort. So 
Ps. v. 3, 'I will pray, and look up;' as Elijah, if he could spy a 
cloud, any preparation towards mercy. 

Reason 1. Because they dare not take God's name in vain, as all do 
that pray cursorily and never regard what cometh of it ; like foolish 
boys that knock at a door in wantonness, but have no business, and 
therefore will not stay till somebody cometh to open the door. It is a 
great sin to take God's name in vain in any act of worship, much 
more in prayer. Now all do so that go about this duty as a task, not 
as a means to do their souls good, or to obtain blessings from God ; 
when I hear merely that I may hear, or receive the Lord's supper, 
and rest in the act of receiving. Every ordinance must be gone about 
in faith and obedience, expecting the ends of the duty, as well as being 
employed in the acts of it. If you do it in good earnest, and with 
respect to God's institution, you must do so. All the ordinances 
come under a fourfold notion as duties, as privileges, as means, as 
talents. As duties enjoined, and a part of our homage and obedience 
to God ; this will breed an awe upon our conscience, to keep us to a 
due and constant observance of them ; it is not a matter arbitrary, but 
our necessary duty. As privileges ; this keepeth us from weariness, that 
we may not consider them as a burdensome task. As means of our 
growth and improvement, that notion is necessary that we may not 
rest in the work wrought, but look after the grace dispensed thereby. 
As talents for which we must give an account, which will quicken us 
to more earnest diligence in the improvement Some do not look 
upon them as duties, and so neglect them ; others not as privileges, 
and so do not prize them, are not joyful in the house of prayer ; others 
not as means, and so rest in the bare performance, without looking 
after the fruits to be had thereby ; others not as talents, and so are 
more indifferent whether they get good by them, yea or no : but when 
all these are regarded, we act best in any service or ordinance. Now, 
as this is true of ordinances in general, so especially of prayer, which 
is a sweet means of communion with God, not to be done as a task ; 
herein we make an immediate address to God and come to set him 
a-work, and to take proof of his power and goodness, to see what he 
will do for his people. We put it, I say, to the trial, as in that ex- 

VER. 145.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 47 

traordinary case Elijah puts his contest with Baal's priests upon this 
issue, ' that God that should answer by fire, he should be God,' 1 Kings 
xviii. 24 ; so ordinarily we put in prayer to trial whether God hath 
any respect to his people, and that with God's own leave and en 
couragement ; for he hath said that none shall seek his face in vain, 
Isa. xlv. 19. We put it to proof whether he will keep touch with his 
people, and be able and willing to perform what he hath promised. 
Therefore we use this duty in vain, and in a cursory way, if we be not 
earnest for an answer ; which the saints dare not do. 

Reason 2. Not looking for an answer proceedeth from an ill cause. 

1. Heedlessness, not considering what they do, and then, their 
prayers are the sacrifice of fools, Eccles. v. 1,2. Surely attention to 
holy duties, and that we should consider what we are about, it is the 
most serious and important part of our lives. Now men that do not 
consider why they pray are heedless and inattentive and rash. 

2. Atheism, there is a touch of it in this sin : Heb. xi. 6, ' He that 
cometh unto God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of 
them that diligently seek him.' God's being and his bounty, that 
there is a God, and that he will be good to them that seek him ; these 
they do not believe steadfastly, these primitive and supreme truths of 
God's being and bounty, essence, and providence, but only comply with 
the common custom and fashion ; for were they persuaded that there 
is a God, and that he is good to mankind, and will reward those that 
worship him sincerely, they would see what cometh of their duties and 
prayers to him. 

3. Distrust, which is next akin to atheism : Job xxi. 15, ' What 
profit have we if we pray unto him?' Mai. iii. 14, ' Ye have said, It is 
m vain to serve God ; what profit is it that we have kept his ordi 
nances ? ' &c. Now when you look for nothing, we do in effect say so ; 
for you carry it as if nothing would come of your prayers and fasts. 
They that are persuaded that God heareth them, they will wait for the 
answer of their prayers : 1 John v. 14, 15, ' And this is the confidence 
that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he 
heareth us ; and i f we know that he hears us, whatsover we ask, we 
know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.' But low 
and slight thoughts of God and his service beget this carelessness; 
something they do, but never look after what they do. 

4. It argues some disesteem of God's favour and acceptance, they 
care not whether he hath any respect for them, yea or no ; for they 
do not so much as inquire of it. Oh ! how contrary is this to the 
temper of God's people ! If God hide his face they are troubled, 
Ps. xxx. 7 ; he is the life of their lives : ' Lord, lift thou up the light 
of thy countenance upon us/ Ps. iv. 7. The seasoning of their com 
forts is God's accepting their work, Eccles. ix. 7. How passionately 
do they beg for a glimpse, for a token for good, Ps. Ixxxvi. 17. 
Nothing goeth so near their hearts as when the Lord hideth himself 
from their prayers : Ps. xxii. 2, 'I cry in the daytime, and thou nearest 
not; in the night season, and am not silent;' Job xxx. 20, 'I cry 
unto thee, and thou dost not hear me ; I stand up, and thou regardest 
me not.' A dumb oracle is a great trouble. They make a business 
of prayer, therefore it is very grievous to have no answer, not to see 


their signs, to have no token for good. The church taketh it bitterly 
to heart: Lain. iii. 14, ' Thou hast covered thyself with a cloud, that 
our prayers should not pass through.' That cloud is his wrath, by 
reason of sin. Now, to have no affection this way argueth a stupid, 
sottish spirit. These are two reasons of the point. 

Season 3. If we do not look after God's answer, our loss is exceeding 

1. We lose our labour in prayer, yea, return worse than we came, 
with more hardness of heart and neglect of God. Yea, that is not all, 
the loss of a prayer with a degree of spiritual judgment ; but we lose 
confirmation of faith, for answers of prayer are notable props to the 
soul to support our faith in the truth of God's being : Ps. Ixv. 2, ' 
thou that hearest jprayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.' Every one 
shall own thee for God. So many answers of prayer, so many argu 
ments against natural atheism. We have challenged him upon his 
word, and find there is a God. So of the truth of the promises, Ps. xviii. 
30. Thy word is a tried word ; I will build upon it another time. 
You have put them in suit, and ever found them good. Now all these 
experiences are lost if we do not look for an answer of our prayers. 

2. You lose excitements to love and obedience. Nothing so much 
increaseth our love to God, as when we see that he is mindful of us 
upon all occasions, especially in our deep necessities, Ps. cxvi. 1, ' I will 
love the Lord because he hath heard the voice of my supplication.' 
Every experience in this kind is a new fuel laid on to increase the fire. 

3. We lose encouragements to pray again : Ps. cxvi. 2, ' Because he 
hath inclined his ear to me, I will call upon him so long as I live/ 
The throne of grace shall not be neglected and unfrequented by me : 
I see there is mercy to be had, help to be had. One adventure suc 
ceeding encourageth another : Ps. xxxii. 6, * For this shall every one 
that is godly pray unto thee ; ' because David found such ready audi 
ence and despatch. 

4. You lose the benefit of sensible communion with God. Taking 
communion for familiarity, it lieth in donatives and duties, prayers 
and blessings ; and there is a commerce between the heavens and the 
earth, by vapours and showers: prayers go up, and blessings come 
down ; as it was told Cornelius, Acts x. 4, * Thy prayers and thine 
alms are come up for a memorial before God ; ' and down come the 
blessings upon us. 

5. God loseth honour and praise and thanksgiving if we do not look 
for an answer. For the answer, as it is matter of comfort to us, so it 
should be matter of praise to God : Ps. 1. 15, ' Call upon me in the 
day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me ; ' so 
Col. iv. 2, ' Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanks 
giving/ We are to gather up matter of praise to God. We should 
not be so barren in gratulation if we did observe more of these experi 
ences. You would not only be glorifying God by way of invocation, 
but commemoration : you may commend him to others from your own 
experience : Ps. xxxiv. 8, ' taste and see that the Lord is good/ 

Use 1. To reprove them that throw away their prayers, and never 
look after them ; that play with such a duty as this, as children that 
shoot away their arrows, and never look where they light. Surely this 

VER. 145.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 49 

argueth great contempt and low thoughts of God, formality in prayer, 
and stupidness of heart. It bespeaks low thoughts of God and of his 
providence; for if they did believe such a particular providence 
reacheth to all persons and things, they would study to produce some 
of these experiences, to be able to say, I was in such a strait, and God 
delivered me : Ps. xxxiv, 6, ' This poor man cried unto the Lord, and 
lie heard him.' Great formality in prayer ; for if we pray not out of 
course, but in good earnest, we cannot but hearken after the speeding 
of our requests. Great stupidity of spirit ; hearts that have any sense 
of life in them are observing God's dealings, and suit their carriage 
accordingly. Lively Christians are putting cases. 

Use 2. To press us to hearken after the answer of our prayers. 
God's children do so, and get much comfort thereby, and evidence of 
his love : Ps. Ixvi. 18, 19, ' But verily God hath heard me ; he hath 
attended to the voice of my cry.' It is no small favour and respect we 
have from God's love to us ; it is a great owning of our persons ; our 
mercies are the sweeter. There is a double lustre and beauty put 
upon them when they come in the way of prayer, out of the hand of 
God ; not by a common providence, but by covenant ; and by virtue 
of the covenant put in suit by us, as well as granted by God, which is 
a pledge of God's respect to us. To this end 

1. Be persuaded that God will hear you, and answer you when you 
pray according to his will : 1 John v. 14, * And this is the confidence 
that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, 
he heareth us.' This is absolutely necessary for all that will pray 
aright, and mind what they do; for none can come to God aright 
but those that are persuaded they shall be the better for coming to 
him : James i. 5, ' Pray in faith, nothing wavering.' There must be 
a relying upon God, if indeed we pray to him. He that expects little 
in prayer will neither be much in it nor serious about the answer of it. 

2. This answer must be needfully observed. Careless spirits will not 
easily discern it: Ps. cxxx. 5, 6, 'I wait for the Lord, my soul doth 
wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord, more 
than they that watch for the morning ; I say, more than they that 
watch for the morning ; ' as those that watched in the temple for the 
dawning of the day. This earnest waiting is a happy token ; when we 
make much of prayers, they are not lost. Therefore, as they watched 
for the word, brethren, so must you wait upon God for some discovery 
of his love by a gracious answer and return unto your prayers. 

3. Sometimes God giveth an answer presently ; sometimes it may 
be after some competent space of time. (1.) Sometimes presently; as 
Cornelius, in the time of prayer, and while the duty is a-doing. God 
giveth in some tokens of acceptance ; as an angel was sent to Cornelius 
at the ninth hour, which was the hour of prayer, to assure him that 
his prayers were heard, and duties accepted : Acts x. 3, ' Peter and 
John went up to pray at the ninth hour,' Acts iii. 1. So Daniel : 
'Whilst I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin; yea, 
whilst I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel was caused to fly 
swiftly/ The Lord is ready to answer the prayers of his servants in 
the very instant of their praying. So Acts iv. 3, ' While they prayed, 
they were filled with the Holy Ghost.' The cases brought are singular 



and extraordinary as to the token and manner of assistance, but as to 
the substance of the blessing, it is the common practice of God's free 
grace : Isa, Iviii. 10, ' When they call, I will answer ; while they are 
yet speaking, I will hear ; ' Acts xii. 12, a company was met to 
gether in prayer when Peter in prison heard of the time of his deliver 
ance. (2.) Sometimes a good while after : the prayers are in God's 
book, Mai. iii. 16. Now these must be waited for : ' My God will hear 
me/ Micah vii. 7. We cannot say, As soon as the prayer is made, for 
he saith, ' I will wait for the God of my salvation/ Paul prayed 
thrice for the removal of the messenger of Satan, 2 Cor. xii. ; then 
God said, ' My grace is sufficient for thee.' We must knock again and 
again. God heareth as soon as the prayer is made, but he taketh his 
own time to despatch an answer. Abraham prayeth for a child, but 
many years pass'over till he hath him in his arms. 

4. When God giveth an answer, own it as an answer. Sometimes 
we will not take notice of what is before our eyes, out of deep distress 
of spirit. It is said, Job ix. 16, ' Though I had called and he had 
answered, yet would I not believe that he had hearkened to my voice.' 
Thus we misinterpret God's dealings in our troubles, that we will not 
own God's work as an answer. 

5. Consider the several ways how God giveth answer to his people's 

[1.] Extraordinarily, as in ancient time ; so an angel was sent to 
Cornelius to tell him his prayers were heard; so to Daniel; so to 
Abel, Heb. xi. 4, probably by fire from heaven ; by vision to Abra 
ham ; by voice or visible token to Moses, and the high priest in the 
tabernacle of the congregation from above the mercy-seat. But these 
returns were proper to those times. 

[2.1 Ordinary, and this several ways : 


,) Either by granting the mercy prayed for; as to Hannah: 1 
Sam. i. 27, ' For this child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me the 
petition I asked of him/ So to David : Ps. xxi. 2, ' Thou hast given 
him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips/ 
So often to his people, when they have humbly sought to him. Some 
times instantaneous, at the very praying: 1 Sam. vii. 9, 10, 'And 
Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel ; and the Lord heard him, and 
as Samuel was offering up the burnt-offering, the Philistines drew near 
to battle against Israel, and the Lord discomfited the Philistines/ Or 
by degrees, when God is preparing instruments, before he giveth con 
summate deliverance : Acts vii. 34, ' I have heard their groanings, and 
I will send thee into Egypt/ Their escape was some while after. 

(2.) By giving in spiritual manifestations to the soul, though he 
doth not give the particular mercy prayed for; as when upon the 
prayer he reviveth the soul of him that prayeth : Job xxxiii. 26, 'He 
shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable to him, and he shall 
see his face with joy/ The Lord giveth them the light of his counte 
nance, and special discoveries of his love or support till the mercy 
come : Ps. cxxxviii. 3, ' In the day when I cried, thou answeredst me, 
and strengthenedst me with strength in my soul/ Support is an 
answer ; such an answer had Paul : * My grace is sufficient for thee/ 
Or when the heart is quieted ; though we do not know what God will 

VEB. 145.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 51 

do with our requests, yet satisfied in the discharge of pur duty, and 
that we have commended the matter to God. So it is said of Hannah, 
* When she had prayed, her countenance was no more sad/ 1 Sam. 
i. 18 ; and Phil. iv. 6, 7, * Be careful for nothing ; but in everything by 
prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made 
known to God ; and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, 
shall keep your hearts and minds, through Jesus Christ.' Sometimes by 
a secret impression of confidence, or a strong inclination to hope well of 
the thing prayed for : Ps. vi. 8, ' The Lord hath heard the voice of my 
weeping.' Or experiences ; as they that travelled to Jerusalem, pass 
ing through the valley Baca, they met with a well by the way, Ps. 
Ixxxiv. 6 ; a sweet refreshing thought, or some help in the spiritual 
life, by serious dealing with God ; some consideration to set you a-work, 
or some new engagement of the soul to God, as the recompense of the 
duty ; some principles of faith drawn forth in the view of conscience, 
not showed before. Some truth or other presented with fresh life and 
vigour upon the heart. 

(3.) Sometimes by way of commutation and exchange ; and so God 
doth answer the prayer, though he doth not give the mercy prayed for, 
when he giveth another thing that is as good, or better for the party 
that prayeth ; though not in kind the same, yet in worth and value as 
good. This commutation may be three ways (1.) In regard of the 
person praying. David fasts, and humbleth and melteth his soul for 
his persecutors, Ps. xxxv. 13, ' And it returned into his own bosom/ 
was converted to his own benefit. His fasting had no effect upon 
them, but his charity did not lose its reward. David prayeth for his 
first child by Bathsheba, but that child dieth, and God giveth Solomon 
instead thereof, 2 Sam. xii. 15. Noah, Daniel Job shall save their own 
souls, Ezek. xiv. 14. Your peace shall return to you again, Luke x. 
5, 6 ; the comfort of discharging their duty. (2.) In regard of the 
matter, carnal things are begged, and spiritual things are given : Acts 
. i. 6, 7, * The apostles asked him, Wilt thou at this time restore the 
kingdom to Israel ? ' They did not receive the kingdom to Israel, 
but received the promise of the Spirit. Moses would fain enter into 
Caanan with the people: Deut. iii. 23, 24, 'And God said, Let it 
suffice thee ; speak no more of this matter ; ' but God gave him a 
Pisgah sight, and ease of the trouble of wars. We would have speedy 
riddance of trouble, but God thinketh not fit ; as showers that come 
by drops soak into the earth better than those that come in a tempest 
and hurricane. We ask for ease in troubles, and. God will give 
courage under troubles : Lam. iii. 55-57, ' I called upon thy name, 
Lord, out of the low dungeon : thou hast heard my voice ; hide not 
thine ear at my breathing, at my cry : thou drewest near in the day 
that I called upon thee ; thou saidst, Fear not.' His gracious and 
powerful presence in trouble was enough. Christ ' was heard in that 
he feared/ Heb. v. 7; not saved from that hour, but supported and 
strengthened in it. Job sacrificed, prayed for his children when 
they were feasting, Job i. 5 ; and though they were all destroyed, God 
gave him patience, ver. 22 ; for in all that befell him ' he sinned not, 
nor charged God foolishly.' (3.) In regard of means. We pray such 
means may not miscarry ; God will use others. As Abraham would 


fain have Ishmael the child of the promise, but God intended Isaac : 
Gen. xvii. 18, ' that Ishmael might live before thee ! ' Thus doth 
God often blast instruments we most expect good from, and make 
use of others to be instruments for our good which we did least expect 
it from. God may give us our will in anger, when the mercy turneth 
to our hurt. Therefore the kind of God's answer must be referred to 
his own will, in all things for which we are not to pray absolutely ; 
and when we have discharged our duty, endeavoured to approve our 
hearts to God, take what answer he will give. 

Doct. From the manner of praying, with the whole heart, the saints 
have the more confidence of being heard in prayer. David allegeth 
his crying with the whole heart as a hopeful intimation of a gracious 

1. Because a prayer rightly made hath the assurance of a promise. 
The promise is, John xvi. 24, ' Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy 
may be full.' Now this beareth no exception, but that we ask 
according to his will, 1 John v. 14. Si bona petant, boni, bene, ad 
bonum. Good men, asking good things, in the name of Christ, for a 
good end, thou canst not miss. 

2. Where there is sincerity and fervency, we have two witnesses to 
establish our comfort and hope the Spirit of God, that knoweth the 
deep things of God ; and the spirit of man, that knoweth the things 
of man. God's Spirit, who stirreth up these groans in us : Kom. viii. 

26, 27, ' He that searcheth the heart knoweth the mind of the Spirit, 
because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of 
God.' And the testimony of our own spirits, that we have done our 
part and discharged our duty, and so have true joy and confidence : 
Job xvi. 19, 20, ' My witness is in heaven, and my record is on high : 
my friends scorn me, but mine eye poureth out tears to God.' 

3. God doth not use to send them away comfortless that call upon 
him in spirit and in truth, because by one grace he maketh way for 
another ; by the grace of assistance for the grace of acceptance : Ps. 
x. 17, ' Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble ; thou hast 
prepared their heart ; thou wilt cause thine ear to hear/ Where God 
hath given a heart to speak, he will afford an ear to hear ; for God 
will not lose his own work : he cannot refuse those requests which are 
according to the direction of his word and the motions of his Holy 
Spirit, when they are brought to him. 

Use. This exhorteth us to look more after the manner of praying. 
An earnest and sincere prayer cannot miscarry ; judge by this and you 
cannot want success. You cannot judge of your prayers by the wit, 
by the length, by the kind of words ; but by the faith, the sincerity, 
the obedience, the holy desires expressed in them. Cry with your 
whole hearts, and God will hear you. (1.) Look to the fervency of 
the prayer ; set yourselves in good earnest to seek God, and good will 
come of ' it : Dan. ix. 3, ' I set my face to seek the Lord God by- 
prayer and supplications.' I seriously minded the work : 2 Sam. vii. 

27, ' Thy servant hatli found in his heart to make this prayer unto 
thee ; ' he found his heart disposed to call upon God. There is many 
a prayer we force upon ourselves, we do not find it there. What 
encouragements from the word, what motions from the Spirit ? 

VER. 146.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 53 

Kesolve to seek after it till you have found it : Ps. xxvii. 2, 'When 
thou saidst, Seek ye my face, my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, 
will I seek/ Wrestle with G-od : Hosea xii. 3, ' He had power over 
the angel, and prevailed ; he wept and made supplication unto him.' 
Such as wrestle with God, and have their hearts broken and melted 
before the Lord, will prevail. (2.) Look to the sincerity of your 
prayers ; see that you do not feign and pretend to pray for a thing 
you desire not. Is your confidence wholly in the Lord ? When your 
heart is divided, and you hanker after carnal lusts, you cannot pray 
aright. (3.) Look that you ask more for his glory than for your own 
ease : James iv. 3, ' Ye ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, 
to consume it on your lust/ The less by-ends in prayer, the more hope 
of success. 

Thirdly, The promise of duty, ' I will keep thy statutes.' 
Doct. God's children, when they think of mercy, are at the same 
time thinking of duty and obedience. 

1. Because they are ingenuous and thankful. Now obedience is the 
best expression of gratitude : and therefore, when they ask mercy, 
they mingle resolutions of duty with expectations of mercy : Horn, 
xii. 1, ' I beseech you by the mercies of God, that ye present your 
bodies a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your 
reasonable service/ 

2. They are supernaturally or spiritually sincere, and so propose 
this as their scope in all conditions, to live unto God : all their desires 
and resolutions are to this purpose. They have a sense of their own 
benefit, but still in subordination ; their purpose is to serve him 
diligently: Phil. i. 21, 'To me to live is Christ;' Kom. xiv. 7, 8, 
* For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth unto himself : for 
whether we live, we live unto the Lord ; or whether we die, we die 
unto the Lord : whether we live or die, therefore, we are the Lord's.' 

3. This is God's end in giving mercy, temporal or spiritual, to bring 
them to obedience : Luke i. 74, 75, ' That we being delivered out of 
the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness 
and righteousness before him all the days of our life.' Save me, 
quicken me, and I will keep thy statutes. God's end in giving, and 
the end of gracious souls in seeking mercies and blessings, is much 
the same that God may have the glory, as well as they the benefit 
and comfort of what he bestows upon them. 

Use. Mind your service more ; engage yourselves to God anew, in 
every prayer : upon every mercy and answer of prayer : Lord, I desire 
this only in order to obedience. 


I cried unto thee ; save me, and I shall keep tliy testimonies. 

VER. 146. 

THIS verse is the same with the former, only these differences may be 
observed : 


1. There the qualification of the prayer is expressed, c I cried with 
my whole heart.' Here the person to whom he prayed, ' I cried to 
thee, Lord.' He had told us before how he cried, now to whom he 
cried ; to thee have I sought, and to thee only. 

2. The request was general, that God would hear him ; now parti 
cular, that he would deliver him ; there it was ' hear me,' now ' save 

3. The notion which implieth the word of God is diversified ; there 
'statutes,' here 'testimonies.' 

4. Our translation expresseth another difference ; there it is, ' I will 
keep thy statutes/ as making it his vow and purpose ; here, ' I shall 
keep thy testimonies/ as making it the effect and fruit of his deliver 
ance ; or, as it is4n the marginal reading, * that I may keep thy testi 
monies/ as making it his scope and aim. 

In the words observe 

1. An intimation of prayer, I cried unto thee. 

2. The matter of his prayer, save me, or deliver me out of trouble. 

3. The end and scope of his prayer, not for the satisfaction of his 
natural desire, but that he might have a heart and opportunity to 
serve God, and obey his word : that I may, or then I shall, keep thy 

Observations from the text. 

Doct. 1. We should not lightly give over our suits to God. 

Here is a repetition of the same prayer : I cried, yea, again I cried, 
and a third time : ver. 147, ' I prevented the dawning of the morning, 
and cried.' Si ter pulsanti nemo respondet, abito ; we use to knock 
at a door thrice, and then depart. Our Lord Jesus, Mat. xxvi. 44, 
* prayed the third time the same words, saying, Father, if it be possible, 
let this cup depart from me.' So the apostle Paul : 2 Cor. ii. 8, ' For 
this I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.' So 
1 Kings xvii. 21, 'And he stretched himself upon the child three 
times, and cried unto the Lord, and said, Lord my God, I pray thee 
let this child's soul come into him again.' This it seemeth was the 
time in which they expected an answer in weighty cases, and yet I 
will not confine it to that number, for we are to reiterate our petitions 
for one and the same thing, so often as occasion requireth, till it be 

Now the reasons are : 

1. Because the force of importunity is very great : the two parables 
evidence that, Luke xi. and Luke xviii. ; if to obtain the Spirit, or 
right upon our enemies or oppressors. In both these parables there 
is a condescension to the suppositions of our unbelief ; if we suppose 
God tenacious and hard-hearted, or if we suppose him regardless and 
mindless of the affairs of the church ; or, to put it in milder terms, if 
we think nothing due to us : Luke xi. 8, ' If he will not rise and give 
him because he is his friend ;' or if our, condition be so hard that we 
think it is past all relief; whatever be our secret and misgiving thoughts, 
we ought always to pray, teal /JUT) eiacaKelv, not to be overcome with 
evil : Luke xviii. 1, ' He spake a parable unto them to this end, that 
men ought always to pray, and not to faint ; ' for importunity is of great 
prevalence with God and men. 

VER. 146.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 55 

2. A deliverance is never so sweet, nor .so thankfully improved, if it 
come at the first call. 

[1.] It is not so sweet, nolo nimisfacilem. We disdain things that 
come too easily, but that which costs us much pains and long crying 
is more prized. The reason is because delay and difficulty sharpen 
our desires, and the sharper our desire in the absence of a blessing, the 
greater gust and sweetness we find in it when it cometh at last. A 
sack that is stretched out is more capacious, and holdeth the more ; 
so is the soul more widened by enlarged desires, to entertain the bless 
ing, for always our delight is according to the proportion of our de 
sires ; as a hungry man, or one long kept from meat, relisheth his food 
better than another that hath it always at hand : Isa. xxv. 9, 'And it 
shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, 
and he will save us ; this is the Lord, we have waited for him, we will 
be glad, and rejoice in his salvation/ We that know blessings more 
by the want than the worth of them, in waiting we are acquainted 
with the difficulties and inconveniences that attend the want of things, 
and so are more fitted to prize them than ever we should have been if 
we had not so long waited. 

[2.] It is more thankfully improved ; this follows upon the former, 
and may be further made good, because when we know the difficulty 
of getting a blessing, we will not easily part with it ; as they that get 
an estate are usually more careful how they spend it than they that 
are born to one : therefore God holdeth his people long at prayer, to 
prepare and season their hearts, that when they have it, they may 
know better how to employ it for his glory and his own good. Ques 
tionless Hannah would never have devoted her child to God had she 
not continued so long without him, and prayed for him with such bit 
terness of heart; but that wrought on her: 1 Sam. i. 11, 'And she 
vowed a vow, and said, Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on 
the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget 
thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man-child ; then 
I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor 
shall come upon his head.' Compare this with ver. 27, 28, ' For this 
child I prayed, and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked 
of him ; therefore also I have lent him to the Lord ; as long as he 
liveth he shall be lent unto the Lord.' The same effect you may ob 
serve in any spiritual comfort you obtain for your souls, or any tem 
poral mercy or comfort of the present life, which you get by prayer. 
If God had answered you at first, it had been reckoned among the 
ordinary effects of his goodness, and so passed by ; but what is won by 
prayer is usually worn with thankfulness. You would not have been 
so sensible of the hand of providence, the graciousness of the answer, 
or your obligation to God, or indeed that it had been an answer of 
prayer at all. 

3. Things often and earnestly asked of God come with the greater 
fulness of blessing when they come ; and so, as one saith, God payeth 
them use l for forbearance ; the mercy is the more ample, and so every 
prayer hath its reward. Christ denied the woman of Canaan long, 
but at length yieldeth up himself to her importunity : Mat. xv. 26, 

1 That is, interest. ED. 


1 woman, great is thy faith ; be it unto thee as thou wilt/ She lost 
nothing by the delay. Hannah was long without a child, but at length 
the child proved the more eminent ; she gets both a child and a pro 
phet too. Let God alone, and do you continue praying, and he will 
recompense you abundantly for all his delay. Peter was in prison, 
and the church made prayers without ceasing, Acts xii. 5, and God 
doth not only bring him out, but brings him out with a miracle, so 
that they were astonished, ver. 16. God delayed for a while, and 
seemed to refuse their prayers; but when Herod was just about to 
bring him forth to execution, God brought him forth to deliverance. 
Every prayer is upon the file, and contributeth to make the mercy the 
more complete ; it remaineth day and night before the Lord : 1 Kings 
viii. 59, ' And let these my words, wherewith I have made supplication 
before the Lord, oe nigli unto the Lord our God day and night, as a 
memorial ;' Acts x. 4, * Thy prayers and thine alms arc come up for 
a memorial before God.' 

4. It argueth an ill spirit when we will not continue praying, though 
we have not presently that which we pray for. To be sure 

[1.] There is disobedience in it, for it is contrary to God's injunc 
tions : Luke xviii. 1 , ' Men ought always to pray, and not to faint/ 
We ought not to surcease our suits so : Eph. vi. 18, ' Praying always, 
and with all perseverance ;' always relateth to the constant exercise of 
this duty upon all occasions ; ivith all perseverance, to particular suits 
we put up to God. Now our duty must not be omitted, whatever the 
discouragements be ; as Moses was to hold up his hands till the going 
down of the sun, so are we to continue our suits, and press hard for 
an answer, till God give us the thing we pray for. 

[2.] There is weakness of faith to yield to the temptation, and to 
go off upon every repulse ; yea, sometimes too too plain unbelief and 
atheism, as if there were no mercy to be .expected from God, or no 
good to be obtained by spiritual means. Faith is to believe what we 
see not. The woman of Canaan cometh to Christ ; at first she gets not 
a word from him, and afterwards his speech is more discouraging than 
his silence ; she is put out of the compass of his commission : * I am 
not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ;' but still she is 
importunate ; afterwards a rough answer : ' It is not meet to take the 
children's bread and cast it unto dogs/ She turneth his rebuke into 
an encouragement ; then, ' woman, great is thy faith/ Mat. xv. 26. 
Many times we pray for blessings, and the oracle is dumb and silent ; 
though God love the supplicant, yet he will not seem to take notice 
of hia desires : yea, the more they pray, the more they may go away 
wit i a sense of their unworthiness and revived guilt ; yet the work of 
faith is to make an answer out of God's silence, a gracious answer out 
s rebukes, and to increase our importunity the more 

[3.J Want of love to God, or coldness of love. It is the property 

of love to adhere to God, though we be not feasted with felt comforts 

mid present benefits ; yea, though he appear an enemy ; for so will 

od try the affection and deportment of his children : Isa. xxvi. 8, 

ea, m the way of thy judgments have we waited for thee ; the 

re of our souls is to thee, and to the remembrance of thy name ; * 

> xiii. 15, Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him/ Not only 

VEE. 146.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 57 

when our affections are bribed : a child of God should love God for 
his judgments, as well as fear him for his mercies ; as lime, the more 
water you sprinkle upon it, the more it burneth. It was a high 
expression of Bernard's affection to those that he took to be the people 
of God, Adhcerebo vobis etiamsi velitis etiamsi nolitis ; so should we 
adhere to God now. When you can only wait on him in the way of 
his mercies, not in the way of his j udgments, your waiting and praying 
is discouraged upon every difficulty and disappointment, you have 
little love to him. 

[4.] Want of patience, or tarrying God's leisure till the promise bring 
forth. Some are hot and hasty ; if God will appear presently they 
can be content to observe him ; but to be crying and crying till their 
throat be hoarse and weary of crying, and no good come on it, they 
cannot away with this : 2 Kings vi. 33, ' This evil is of the Lord ; 
why should I wait on the Lord any longer ? ' They are discontented 
that God maketh them stay so long. Though God wait long upon 
them, and had reason enough to take the discouragement and be gone, 
yet they cannot tarry a little for God, and think prayer a useless work, 
unless it yield them a quick return, and that it is better to shift for 

Use. Keproof to two sorts : 

1. To those that cease praying or crying to God, if they have not 
a present answer, especially if they meet with a contrary rebuke in 
the course of his providence. You must cry, and cry again, not 
imagine that God will be at your beck ; but foolish men suddenly 
conclude, Mai. iii. 14, 'It is in vain to serve God, and what profit is 
it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully 
before the Lord of hosts ? ' Oh no ! Consider something is due to 
the sovereignty of God, that we should wait his leisure ; for he is 
supreme, and will govern the world according to his own will, not ours. 
And therefore we must stay his time for the mercies we expect : 
Ps. cvi. 13, 14, ' They soon forgat his word, they waited not for his 
counsel, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God 
in the desert.' And something is due to the stated course of ^ his 
providence. We cannot expect that God should turn all things 
upside-down for our sakes, and invert the beautiful order of his dis 
pensations : Job xviii. 4, ' Shall the earth be forsaken for thee, and 
the rock removed out of his place ? ' shall God alter the course of 
nature, or change the order of governing the world for us, or to please 
our humour ? Something is due to the present estate of mankind, 
who are not to live by sense, but by faith: Hab. ii. 3, 4, ' For the 
vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and 
not lie : though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it 
will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up, is not upright in 
him : but the just shall live by his faith.' And that appointed time 
is for our trial, to see if we out of duty and principles of faith, can 
keep up our respects unto God, though his providence doth not 
presently gratify our desires or satisfy our necessities. Besides, it 
concerneth us to suspect ourselves rather than to blemish God's 
dispensations. Those always complain most of God's not hearing 
prayer who least deserve to be heard: Isa. Iviii. 3-5, * Wherefore 


have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not ? Wherefore have we 
afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge ? Behold, in the 
of your fast you find pleasure, and exact all your labour : behold, 
vou fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness, 
ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on 
high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen ? a day for a man to afilict 
his soul? is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and to spread 
sackcloth and ashes under him ? wilt thou call this a fast, and an 
acceptable day to the Lord ? ' 

2. That though they do not cease praying, yet do they not pray with 
any life and hope, because of his delays and seeming denials. There 
are certain general blessings which we are always praying for, because 
though we have them, yet we ought daily to ask them of God ; the 
continuance of them, the sense of them, the increase^ of them ; here 
never cease praying, There are other particular blessings, that either 
concern ourselves, or the church of God, which we are to ask with 
earnestness, and yet submission : in these we put it to the most sensible 
trial whether God will hear us or no. Now for these things we must 
seek the face of God with hope and zeal. 

[1.] Because it is not enough to keep up the duty, unless we keep 
up the affections that must accompany the duty : Eom. xii. 12, ' Con 
tinuing instant in prayer,' Trpoo-KapTepovvres. In long afflictions men 
will pray, but they pray as men out of heart, for fashion's sake, or 
with little and weak affection ; rather satisfying their consciences than 
setting a-work the power of God. 

[2.] A seeming repulse or denial should make us more vehement ; as 
blind Bartimeus, ' the more they rebuked him, he cried so much the 
more/ Mark x. 48. God suffereth the faith of his servants to be tried 
with great discouragements ; but the more it is opposed, the more 
should it grow, and the more powerfully and effectually should it 
work in our hearts ; as the palm-tree shooteth up the faster the more 
weight is hung upon it ; or as fire, the more it is pent up, the more 
it striveth to break out ; therefore we should not only have fresh 
affections at first, but in every new prayer we should act over our 
faith again, and put forth spiritual desires anew. 

[3.] ^God's dearest children are not admitted at the first knock : 
Mat. vii. 7, 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find ; 
knock, and it shall be opened unto you.' It may be we have not at 
first asking ; we need seek and knock. Mercy doth not come to us all 
in haste ; we have not at first what we lack ; delays are no denials ; 
therefore we must not take the first or second answer, but continue 
with instance : ' Give the Lord no rest/ Isa. Ixii. 7. Be importunate 
with him, to hasten the deliverance of his people. 

[4.] We must not only continue praying when Christ seemeth to 

gleet us, or to give no answer, but when he giveth a contrary answer ; 
when he, to Appearance, rejecteth our persons and prayers, and seemeth 
to forbid us to pray. {Sometimes he seemeth to neglect us, and pass 

by as if he took no notice ; but yet he heareth when he doth not 

iswer ; yea, his not answering is an answer. Pray, or continue your 

'rayer. It is said, Mark vi. 48, < He saw them toiling in rowing, for 

the wind was contrary to them ; and about the fourth watch of the 

VER. 146-.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 59 

night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have 
passed by them.' But he came with an intent to appease the storm 
and help them. Christ taketh notice of the distresses of his people, 
but they shall not know so much, but delayeth to help till all their 
patience be spent, and yet then seemeth to pass by, for their thorough 
trial and exercise, and to move them more earnestly to pray. Some 
times he giveth them a seeming contrary answer and rebuke ; instead 
of an expression of favour, he seemeth to pursue us in anger. God 
is the main party against us, we have to do with an offended God ; 
but yet we should not quit him, but follow him when he seemeth 
to forsake us, and fly to him when he is pursuing us in hot displeasure. 
Such is the admirable power of faith that it dares call on an angry 
God, and follow him when he goeth away from us, and lay hold on him 
when he smiteth, and cast itself into his arms in the midst of his 
rebukes and frowns : Jonah ii. 4, ' Then I said, I am cast out of thy 
sight ; yet will I look again towards thy holy temple.' God seemeth 
to cast us off, as those he will not favour or care for, which is a great 
trouble to a child of God, who liveth by his favour, and valueth that 
above all things else : now for such a one to be rejected by God in 
his own sense and feeling, it goeth near his heart ; yet in such a case 
we should not cast away our confidence, nor give over all addresses 
to God, but yet look to him and wait upon him. 

[5.] Whether God answereth or no, it is the duty of faith to answer 
itself. The answer of his providence is not so sure as the answer of his 
word, and that faith hath to do with. See Ps. vi. 4, ' Keturn, Lord; 
deliver my soul ; save me, for thy mercies' sake.' Compare ver. 8, 9, 
( The Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping : the Lord hath heard 
the voice of my supplications; the Lord will receive my prayer.' 
When trembling for fear of wrath, yet in prayer his heart groweth 
confident as if it had received news of an answer from heaven : Ps. Iv. 
2, ' Attend unto me, and hear me;' compared with ver. 19, ' My God 
shall hear, and afflict them.' He is confident of it that the prayer 
should not miscarry. So Ps. liii. 1, 2, ' Deliver me from mine enemies, 
my God ; defend me from them that rise up against me ; deliver me 
from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men ; ' ver. 10, 
' The God of my mercy shall prevent me ; God shall let me see my 
desire upon mine enemies/ Faith sees its own deliverance in the pro 
mise and all-sufficiency of God. When we have prayed according to 
God's will, we should take our prayer for granted, and leave it lying 
at God's feet : 1 John v. 14, ' And this is the confidence that we have 
in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us.' 
God's delay is not always an argument of his hatred, but some more 
glorious purpose which is to be helped on by prayer : John xi. 5, 6, 
' When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days 
still in the same place where he was.' 

I observe again, that he not only repeateth his prayer, but reneweth 
the promise of obedience, to show that it was no vanishing notion, 
but a settled conclusion; as Christ maketh Peter profess his love 
thrice to engage him the more, John xxi. So David, ' I will 
keep thy statutes ;' and again, ' I will keep thy testimonies ; ' as if he 
had said, Indeed Lord, I will ; it is the settled purpose of my heart 


to return to thee in the sincere obedience of my whole life. The 
note is 

Doct. That purposes and promises of obedience should not be 
slightly made, but with the greatest advertency and seriousness of mind. 

1. Because we are usually too slight in devoting ourselves to God : 
Deut. v. 27-29, ' Go thou near, and hear all tha^ the Lord our God 
shall say ; and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall 
speak unto thee, and we will hear it, and do it. And the Lord heard 
the voice of your words when you spake unto me, and the Lord said 
unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they 
have spoken unto thee ; they have well said, all that they have spoken. 
Oh, that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, 
and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with 
them, and with their children for ever.' The Israelites again, when 
Joshua puts them to the question whether they would serve the Lord 
or other gods, Joshua xxiv. 18, 19, * We will serve the Lord, for 
he is our God. Joshua said unto them. Ye cannot serve the Lord, for 
he is an holy God/ What is the reason men are so slight ? Partly 
because they measure their strength by the present pang of devotion 
that is upon them, not considering the latent principle of sin, and that 
proneness to transgress that is in their hearts. Partly they take up 
duty by the lump, and the general bulk and view of it, without sitting 
down and counting the charges, as Christ advises, Luke xiv. ; whether 
they can be content to bear difficulties, renounce lusts, crucify the flesh 
with the affections and lusts thereof. A foolish builder doth not think 
of storms, Mat. vii. ; if his building stand for the present, he is satis 
fied. Partly because men will promise God fair to be rid of the present 
anguish and troubles, yield to anything to be out of the present danger ; 
but when they are out, they seldom regard the vows of their distress ; 
as those, Ps. Ixxviii. 34-37, made great promises, ' but their heart was 
not right with God, neither were they steadfast in his covenant/ Partly 
too when they are out of a temptation, and lusts are not stirring, they 
are other men than when in temptation, and so think all will be easy. 

2. Because the nature of the work calleth for advertency and seri 
ousness, because it is a work of the greatest moment, and so must be 
done with the greatest deliberation. This devoting ourselves to God 
both entitleth us to all the comforts of Christianity, and engageth us 
to all the duties of it. It entitleth us to all the comforts ; you enter 
yourselves heirs to the covenant of grace when you enter into the bond 
of the holy oath, or give your hand to the Lord to be his people: 1 Cor. 

n L i? 2 ' ' U thing8 are yours ' because you are Christ's, and Christ is 
I you have owned Christ as your dearest Saviour and sove 
reign Lord, with love, thankfulness, and subjection, and given him the 
supreme command of your souls, then you are Christ's, and God is 
irs and all things yours : glory and salvation shall be yours in the 
world to come; grace, help, maintenance, ordinances, and providences 
shall be yours in the present world ; and death, as the connection be 
tween the two worlds, as the passage out of the one into the other, 
be yours also. ^ It is also the beginning and foundation of all 
ce, and if this were once seriously and heartily done, other 
things would succeed the more easily. He that is indeed God's will 

VER. 146.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 61 

use himself for God's glory and service, and God shall have a share in 
all that he hath and doth : Kom. xiv. 7, 8, ' None of us liveth to him 
self, and no man dieth to himself ; for whether we live, we live unto 
the Lord ; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord ; whether we live, 
therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.' They came off so freely : 2 Cor. 
viii. 5, ' And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own 
selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God/ This enliveneth 
our whole work. It is no hard matter to persuade them that have 
given up themselves to God to part with anything for God's use. 

3. Because of the danger both in regard of sin and judgment, if we 
do it not aright. 

[1.] In regard of sin, rash and sudden engagements are seldom 
sound : Mat. xiii. 20, 21, the stony ground received the word with joy, 
and forthwith the good seed sprang up, but the blade soon withered. 
Usually sudden undertakings are accompanied with faint and feeble 
prosecutions ; and though men are warm and passionate for the present, 
within a while it corneth to nothing ; all their promises are broken, as 
tow is burnt in the fire. 

[2.] In regard of judgment, every consecration implieth an execra 
tion. If you break with God after you have engaged yourselves to 
him, your condition is worse ; it aggravateth every deliberate sin, and 
hastens judgment, for God will avenge the quarrel of his covenant, 
Lev. xxvi. 25. Better never begin, or the word pass out of your 
mouths, or thought enter into your heart, unless you be sincere, mean 
as you say. It is dangerous to alienate things once consecrated ; this 
is the worst kind of sacrilege, that shall not go unpunished. 

Use. You see, then, what seriousness we should use in devoting our 
selves to God, or promising obedience to him. 

1. Eemember the, weakness of a creature, that you may resolve in 
God's strength. 

2. Consider incident temptations, whether anything be like to 
shake you in your covenanted course, that you may arm yourselves 
against it. 

3. Consider your more particular affections ; where the business is 
like to stick most, there are tender parts. 

4. Consider the weight and importance of subjection. He will not 
be content with a little religiousness by the by, but you must love him 
with all your heart and all your soul, and serve him with all your might. 

5. Consider the strength of your resolution, that you be irrevocably, 
everlastingly put under the sovereignty and command of God. Thus 
do, and you will find success and comfort in your deed. 

Now to the words themselves. There is first an intimation of a 
prayer ; where 

1. The vehemency, / cried. 

2. The object or person to whom, to thee. 

1 1 cried/ David keepeth up his fervour. What crying in prayer is 
I have showed in the former verse. I shall observe now 

Doct. That great trouble and sense of danger puts an edge upon 
prayer, and kindleth our affection in it. 

When Israel was under sore bondage, God saith, Exod. iii. 6 'I 
have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt, and have heard their 


cry.' Afflictions make us cry in prayer, not only speak. An ordinary 
affection is vox orationis ; it speaketh to God in prayer ; but a vehe 
ment affection is clamor orationis, the cry of prayer. Ordinary 
prayers speak to God, but earnest prayers cry to God ; and though 
remiss and cold wishes vanish in the air, yet strong cries pierce the 
heavens. They have a shrill accent, and cannot be kept out from God : 
Judges iv. 3, ' The children of Israel cried unto the Lord ; for he had 
nine hundred chariots of iron.' So Judges vi. 5-7, ' They cried to 
the Lord because of the Midianites, who came up as grasshoppers.' 
David : Ps. xviii. 6, ' In my distress I called to the Lord, and cried to 
my God : he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before 
him, even into his ears.' He prayed not seldom, but often and fre 
quently ; not slackly, but with fervency and earnestness. 

1. Affliction wilt teach men to pray that never prayed before. The 
rude mariners in a storm called every man upon his god : Qui'nescit 
orare, discat navigare, Jonah i. 5. Those that neglect God at other 
times, as if they had no need of him, or pray faintly, are then glad to 
seek to him for succour and safety : Ps. Ixxiii. 34, ' When he slew 
them, then they sought him. and inquired early after God/ The 
natural principle of fear of death and love of self-preservation puts 
them upon it. So Jer. ii. 27, ' In their affliction they will say, Arise 
and save us ; ' Judges x. 10, ' And the children of Israel cried unto the 
Lord, saying, We have sinned against thee ; ' and ver. 14, ' Go, and 
cry unto the gods that ye have chosen ; let them deliver you in the 
time of your tribulation.' 

I. Good ones that prayed before will pray better and oftener, and 
with greater seriousness. Therefore God puts his own in straits to 
quicken their affections : Isa. xxvi. 16, 'Lord, in trouble have they 
visited thee ; they poured out a prayer, when thy chastening was upon 
them.' So Hosea v. 15, ' I will go and return to my place, till they 
acknowledge their offence, and seek my face, in their affliction they 
will seek me early/ When we are pressed hard on all sides, then the 
throne of grace is more frequented ; we are driven to it. Joab would 
not come at Absalom's call till he set his barley-field on fire. 

Use 1. Be content to be cast into such an estate that you may learn 
to pray ; for, alas ! we are but cursory at other times, but then our 
necessities whip us to the throne of grace, that was set up for a time 
>f need ; then is a time to put promises in suit, to make use of our 
interest m God. We mis-expound the voice of God's providence ; we 
expound trouble to be his casting off, putting us from him ; they are 
his voice calling, his hand pulling us to him : it is a time of drawino- 
nigh we are allowed: Ps. 1. 15, ' Call upon me in a day of trouble? 

ic clay of trouble is the fruit of sin, a part of the old curse. When 
nink him, feel him an enemy, he is drawing us nearer to him. 

mod season to bring God and you together, when our troubles chase 
the throne of grace. God is not wholly gone, he hath left some 
what behind him to draw us to himself. 

v $ ?*A^ P r ? veth them that neglect God in their troubles : Dan. 

Ju ! 8 1S f me u P n us > y et w ' e have n ot made our prayer 

You defer the dispensation; now you should make up 

>our former negligence. Unprofitableness under the rod is an ill 

VER. 146.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix 63 

presage, when God sends a tempest after us. Oh, how frequent and 
earnest should we be in the practice of this duty ! 

1. This is a time proper for it. Prayer is a duty never out of season, 
though some seasons are proper and solemn to it. God is always to 
be prayed unto, Job xxvii. 11. When freed from trouble and incon 
venience we are not freed from prayer ; still we must profess depen 
dence, subjection, and maintain our communion. But this is a special 
season : James v. 13, ' Is any one afflicted ? let him pray.' 

2. Though afflictions drive us to the throne of grace, yet if we 
come seriously and heartily, we are not unwelcome to him. Those 
very prayers which necessity doth extort from us are accepted by God, 
and valued by him as an acceptable piece of worship. Therefore such 
as look toward God ought not to be discouraged though afflictions 
drive them to it, though they sought him not before, or not in good 
earnest before ; provided that always they find other errands, and be 
careful to maintain a constant communion with him. Most that are 
acquainted with God are taken in the briars. Jesus Christ in the days 
of his flesh had never heard of many, if their necessities had not 
brought them to him their palsies, and possessions, and fevers, deaf 
ness, dumbness; thanks to these as their awakening occasions. A 
man will say, You come to me in your necessity. God is willing to 
receive us upon any terms. 

3. How desperate in appearance soever our condition seem to be, 
yet crying will bring relief, or help may be found in God for them 
that cry to him : Judges iii. 9, ' When they cried, the Lord raised up 
a deliverer to the children of Israel, who delivered them, even Othniel 
the son of Kenaz : ' Judges iii. 15, ' And when the children of Israel 
cried to the Lord, the Lord raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son 
of Gera/ So Psalm cvii. ; frequently. 

From that unto thee. 

Doct. In our troubles we must have recourse to God, and sue to him 
by prayer and supplication for help and deliverance in due time. 

1. Because he is the author of our trouble. In miseries and afflic 
tions our business lieth not with men, but God ; by humble dealing 
with him we stop wrath at the fountain-head. He that bindeth 
us must loose us ; he is at the upper end of causes, and whoever be 
the instruments of our trouble, and how malicious soever, God is the 
party with whom we are to make our peace ; for he hath the absolute 
disposal of all creatures, and will have us to acknowledge the dominion 
of his providence, and our dependence upon him. In treaties of peace 
between two warring parties, the address is not made to private 
soldiers, but to their chief : ' The Lord hath taken away/ saith Job, 
chap, xxxiv. 29; 'when he giveth quietness, who then can make 
trouble ? ' 

2. He challengeth this prerogative to be the God of salvation : Ps. 
iii. 8, ' Salvation belongeth unto the Lord ; ' and therefore, if we would 
be saved, we must seek it of him. Others cannot help if he help not, 
for he hath all means and creatures and second causes at his command. 
If we lean to means, they may fail, but if we rely upon God, he will 
never fail. Therefore, whatever means God offereth for our help, 
prayer to God is the best means, and first to be used. 


3. There is comfort in dealing with God, whatever our case be. 
(1.) Because of his all-sufficient power. (2.) Because of his good 
will and readiness to help. 

[l.j Because of his power and all-sufficiency, so that he hath ways 
of deliverance more than we know of, and can save his own when men 
do count their case desperate : Dan. iii. 29, ' There is no other God 
that can deliver after this sort.' Let the strait be never so great, the 
burden heavy, and the creature weak, and at a desperate loss, yet God 
can find out ways and means to do his people good. 

[2.] For his good- will and readiness to hear : Ps. Ixv. 2, ' Oh, thou 
that nearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come/ The readiness of 
God to hear prayer doth open a door of access to all people who are 
sensible of their burdens and necessities. He hath ever showed him 
self ready to hear tfee cries and groans of his people, and woe be to 
them against whom they cry : Ps. xxii. 5, ' They cried unto thee, and 
were delivered.' Their cries and groans are not hid from him, and 
cannot be shut out: Ps. cvi. 44, 'Nevertheless he regarded their 
affliction, and he heard their cry.' 

Use. 1. To reprove divers sorts. 

1. Some seek to help themselves by impatiency, fretting, unquiet 
behaviour in their troubles ; this doth increase their misery. Go, pour 
out your hearts before the Lord, that giveth ease : Phil. iv. 6, 7, * Be 
careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with 
thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God ; and the 
peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts 
and minds, through Christ Jesus/ Your wrestling with trouble within 
yourselves doth but embroil you the more. 

2. Some trust in outward helps, seek to men and means ; as Asa to 
the physicians, not to the Lord, 2 Chron. xvi. 12. It is not unlawful 
to use means, but we must depend upon the Lord for the blessing. 
Seek to him first, otherwise looking to man proveth a snare many 
ways, as it tempts us to comply with their lusts, to neglect God, maketh 
way for the greater sorrow in disappointment. The creature is vain 
in itself, made more vain by our confidence: Ps. Ix. 11, ' Give us help 
from trouble, for vain is the help of man/ You will be brought to it 
at last. The more earnestly we seek God, the more confidence we 
may have of the creature. 

Use 2. To inform us of the privilege and duty of the godly. 

1 heir privilege; they have a God to go to. The worldly man 

gheth and crieth he knoweth not to whom ; but the godly man pre- 

eth himself in his lamentations to God: 'My friends scorn me, 

but mine eye poureth out tears unto God,' Job xvi. 20. He hath a 

Father m secret, a Friend in a corner ; they need not go to men, nor 

saints and angels; they have God himself, and can challenge him 

!> his office as the judge of the world, to help poor creatures: Ps. 

xciv. 2, Lift up thyself, thou judge of the world ; render a reward to 

1 P ^ U - ,' by hls l^ culiai> relation to them : Ps. v. 2, ' Hearken 

o the voice of my cry, my king and my God; for unto thee will I 

relation with them ^ "^ ^ M a stran S er ' but one ia covenant 
2. Their duty to make God their guardian and saviour in all their 

VER. 14G.] 



distress, when in their own sense they are near perishing : Mark viii. 
26, 'Arise, save us, we perish;' 2 Kings xix. 19, 'Now therefore, 
Lord our God, I beseech thee, save us out of his hand; that all the king 
doms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.' 
When they have a good cause and a good conscience, this they may do 
and this they ought to do, and they will have comfort in it. 

The last thing which I shall observe is 

Doct. That prayer for deliverance should be accompanied with 
serious purposes of obedience. ' Then/ saith David, ' I will keep thy 

1. Because this is the best expression of gratitude and thankfulness. 
I take it for granted that every mercy from God deserveth a thankful 
return on the creature's part ; as we expect a return of our prayers, so 
God expecteth a return of his mercies ; and therefore we should be as 
careful to give him what he requireth, as we are careful to seek of him 
that which we need ; for even in our commerce with God there is ratio 
dati et accepti. I presume, again, that there is noftuch expression of 
thankfulness as obedience. Verbal thanks are but a cold return ; 
thanks-doing is the best thanksgiving : Ps. 1. 23, ' He that offereth 
praise glorifieth me, and to him that ordereth his conversation aright 
will I show the salvation of God.' Yea, once more, that we should 
think of this aforehand ; while we are asking the mercy in our distress, 
we should engage ourselves to glorify God both in word and deed. 
Again, the time that we have our mercies for ; in affliction we consider 
and are more serious, and afterwards we should keep the conscience of 
our obligation. 

2. It is a sign the rod hath done its work, and then it will be 
gone, when it hath convinced you of former failings, and put you 
upon serious purposes : Job xxxiv. 31, 32, ' Surely it is meet to be 
said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will offend no more. 
That which I see not, teach thou me : if I have done iniquity, I will 
do no more.' Otherwise what we ask of temporal mercy is either denied 
us or we get it in wrath. 

3. You have a true notion of deliverance ; you look upon it as an 
engaging mercy ; therefore if God alter your condition you are bound 
to serve him. The end of our great deliverance is service : Luke i. 
74, 75, ' That he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of 
the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness 
and righteousness before him all the days of our life.' All deliverances 
out of straits are branches and appendices of the great redemption of 
our souls unto eternal life, and have the same end and use : Ps. cv. 
45, ' That they might observe his statutes and keep his laws/ That 
is the end of all deliverance out of trouble, to engage the hearts of his 
people to obedience, heart to serve him, opportunity to serve him. 

4. A gracious heart desireth nothing to himself alone, and cannot be 
content to have the use of any benefit to himself only, but eyes God in 
all his enjoyments and all his requests ; therefore his great aim is that 
he may be in the better condition to keep God's commandments, for 
they ' live unto God ;' Kom. xiv. 7, 8, ' For none of us liveth unto him 
self, and no man dieth unto himself ; for whether we live, we live unto 
the Lord ; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord ; whether we 



live therefore or die, we are the Lord's/ In every state they would be 
unto God what they are when they seek to be delivered ; it is that they 
may be in the better condition and capacity to serve God, and have 
more opportunities to glorify his name. 

Use. To persuade us to seek deliverance with these aims. 

1. This is the temper of the people of Godj that which urgeth to 
prayer is his glory ; tnat which is their scope is his service. It is seen 
partly by the secret workings and purposes of their souls, what they do 
with their mercies when they have them ; what they please themselves 
with in the supposition of obtaining them. What is it with ? The 
satisfying of their revenge, providing for their families, living in pomp 
and ease, or that they may serve God ? Ps. Ixxv. 2, ' When I shall 
receive the congregation, I will judge uprightly ; ' if ever God give an 
opportunity again! And partly by the preparations ; they are afraid 
of a treacherous heart, therefore fitting themselves to enjoy the mercy 
before they have it, as the apostle learned to abound, Phil. iv. 11, 12. 
Partly by the argdhients they urge in prayer: Ps. Ixxxviii. 10-12, 
' Wilt thou show wonders to the dead ? shall the dead arise and praise 
thee ? shall thy loving-kindness be declared in the grave, or thy faith 
fulness in destruction ? Shall thy wonders be known in the dark, and 
thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness ?' So Ps. cvi. 47, ' Save 
us, Lord our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give 
thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise.' A true 
believer would have comfort, not for his own satisfaction, but to glorify 

2. Then we are sure to 'speed when our end is right : James iv. 3, 
* Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it 
upon your lusts/ We may speak it with confidence, our prayers mis 
carry for want of a right end. 

3. The equity of this ; God hears us that we should hear him. 


I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy 
ivord. VEB. 147. 

DAVID still goeth on to give us an account of his fervour in prayer, ' I 
cried.' That which we have new in this verse is 

1. His vigilancy and diligence, I prevented the dawning of the morn 
ing, and cried. 

2. The reason and encouragement of this instant and assiduous 
praying, I hoped in thy word. 

First, His vigilancy and diligence, I prevented/ Ac. He rose betimes 
to meditate and pray ; the Septuagint, eV awpia. Hesychius defineth that 
time to be wpav aTrpa/crov, a time of no business ; when others were 
deeping David was praying. The word ' prevented' is emphatical. 

ivid lived as it were in a strife with time, being careful it should not 
overrun him ; he pressed to get before it, by doing some good in it, 
and to get beforehand with the day. 

VER. 147.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 67 

Doct. Those that make a business of prayer will use great vigilancy 
and diligence therein. 

I say, that make a business of prayer ; others that use it as a com 
pliment and customary formality will not be thus affected, or do it as 
a thing by the by, or a work that might well be spared, do not look 
upon it as a necessary duty ; but if a man's heart be in it, he will be 
early at work, and follow it close morning and night. His business is 
to maintain communion with God ; his desires will not let him sleep, 
and he gets up early to be calling upon God : Ps. Ixxxviii. 13, ' But 
unto thee have I cried, Lord, and in the morning shall my prayer 
prevent thee.' Thus will good men even break their sleep to give 
themselves to prayer and calling upon the name of God. So Isa. xxvi. 
9, ' With my soul have I desired thee in the night, and with my spirit 
within me will I seek thee early/ A man that hath an earnest desire 
after God, he will be at it night and day, when others are taking their 
rest. Their seeking of God is early and earnest ; but where such strong 
desires are not, God is little minded and regarded ; and of all busi 
nesses prayer seemeth that which may be best spared. 

That I may fully commend David's practice to you, I shall observe 
in this his diligence : 

1. That it was a personal, closet, or secret prayer, ' I cried/ I alone, 
with thee in secret. 

2. That it was an early morning prayer, ' I prevented the dawning 
of the morning.' 

3. That it was a vehement and earnest prayer, for it is expressed 
by crying, which, as Chrysostom saith, noteth ov rovov rfjs tfwvfjs 
a\\a TT)? Siavotas rrjv SidOeaw Chrys. in Ps. v. He proveth it by 
that of God to Moses, ' Wherefore criest thou unto me ? ' Exod. xiv. 
15. And when Moses was silent, yet he crieth ; for crying noteth the 
affection of the mind, not extension of the voice. Where I shall note, 
that it was an earnest prayer, though private ; and earnest, though as 
yet he could get no answer. 

4. That it was the prayer of a public person, of a king, and a king 
entangled in wars, whose calling exposed him to a multitude of 
business and distractions ; yet he had his times of converse with God. 
Take all this together, and the pattern will be more fit to be com 
mended to your imitation. 

First, It was a personal or secret prayer, ' I cried,' I alone, and 
without company. Our Saviour doth in Mat. xviii. 19, 20, encourage 
us to public prayer, by the blessed effect of such petitions, where two 
or three do agree to ask anything of God in the name of Christ. He 
doth suppose that his disciples will make conscience of personal and 
solitary prayer, and therefore giveth directions and encouragement 
about it : Mat. vi. 6, ' But when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, 
and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which seeth in 
secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret will reward thee openly/ 
He taketh it for granted that every one of his disciples is sufficiently 
convinced of being often with God in private, and pouring out his 
heart to God alone. It is not if, but iohen t as supposing they will be 
careful of this ; it is not plurally and collectively, * when ye pray,' but 
orav TTpoo-ev'xrj ' when thou prayest.' Elsewhere the context speaketh 


of public prayer, or the assemblies of saints and of family worship ; 
but here he spcaketh of personal prayer. Church prayer hath a 
special blessing, when with a combined force we besiege heaven ; as 
the petition of a shire and county is more than a private man's sup 
plication ; but yet this is not without its blessing. God is with you 
in private. Pray to thy Father in secret, and he that seeth in secret 
observeth the carriage and posture and frame of thy spirit ; all thy 
fervour and uprightness of heart is known to him. That which is the 
hypocrite's fear, that God seeth in secret, is the saint's comfort, that 
God seeth in secret : it bindeth condemnation upon the thoughts of 
wicked men, 1 John iii. 21, but is their support, John xxi. 17; Horn. 
viii. 17, ' He that searcheth the heart knoweth the mind of the spirit.' 
He knoweth the brokenness or unbrokenness of the heart ; he can 
pick out the very language of thy sighs and groans, know where thou 
art, and how thou art employed : Acts ix. 11, 'Arise and go into the 
street which is called Strait, and inquire in the house of Judas for one 
Saul of Tarsus, for behold he prayeth.' In such a street, in such a 
house, in such a chamber of the house, there is one a-praying: a 
notable place to express God's seeing in secret, where we are, what we 
do, and how affected. And then his reward is another encouragement ; 
lie will reward thee openly, grant thee what thou prayest for, or bless 
thce for the conscionable performance of this duty. Openly, either by 
a sensible answer of thy prayers, as Dan. ix. 20-22; or with an 
evident blessing, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the eyes of the 
world; God highly favoured them. A secret prayer hath an open 
blessing ; or in convincing the consciences of men ; Pharaoh sendeth 
for Moses and Aaron when in distress. The consciences of wicked 
men are convinced that God's praying children have special audience 
with him ; no magicians sent for then, but Moses and Aaron. Thus 
God may reward them openly : 1 Sam. ii. 30, ' Those that honour me 
I will honour.' But chiefly at the day of judgment: Luke xiv. 14, 
* He shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.' Then is 
the great reward of Christians, and most public : ' Then shall every 
man have praise of God,' 1 Cor. iv. 5. Thus you see how our Lord 
encourageth us to closet prayer. But let us see other arguments to 
engage us to this duty. 

1. All the precepts of prayer do include closet prayer : ' Continue 
in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving/ Col. iv. 2; 

Pray without ceasing,' 1 Thes. v. 17. First God's precepts fall upon 
igle persons before it falleth upon families and churches ; for God 
consulereth us first as persons apart, and then in our several com 
binations and societies in joining with others. The duty is rather 
iposed upon us than taken up by voluntary choice ; and that only at 
stated times, when they can conveniently meet. If we are to continue 
in prayer, and to pray without ceasing, we are to make conscience 
ourselves of. being often with God. Every person that acknowledge^ 
Uod, that hath a Father in heaven, must come and profess his 
dependence upon him. 

2. The example of Christ, which beareth the force of a law in things 
Hal We read often of Christ's praying : Mark i. 35, ' He went oSt 

into a solitary place to pray ; ' and Mat. xiv. 23, and Luke vi. 12, we 

VER. 147.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 69 

read he prayed a whole night to God. Now let us improve this 
instance. Christ had no such need of prayer as we have ; the God 
head dwelt in him bodily ; nor such need of retirement ; his affections 
were always in frame ; yet he went out from the company of his 
disciples to pray alone to God. This pattern is very engaging, for if 
we have the spirit of Christ, we will do as Christ did ; and very 
encouraging, for by submitting to this duty he sanctifieth it for all : 
his steps drop fatness, and leave a blessing and virtue behind him. 
And it assureth us of his sympathising with us ; he is acquainted with 
the heart of an earnest supplicant ; and it is some comfort against our 
imperfections ; when we are with God, and our hearts are as heavy as 
a log, it is a comfort to think of this particular part of his righteous 
ness by which our defects are covered. 

3. I shall urge it from God's end in pouring out the Spirit, that we 
may pray apart, and mourn apart over our distempers and personal 
necessities, Zech. xii. 10-14. Many will say they have no gifts ; 
certainly they that feel their necessities will speak of them in one 
fashion or another. But this cuts off the objection. The Spirit is 
given to help thee : I will pour upon them the Spirit of grace and 
supplication, and they shall mourn apart. Such is God's condescension 
to the saints, that he hath provided for them not only an advocate 
but a notary ; a notary to draw up their petitions, and an advocate to 
present them in court. And surely the gifts of the Spirit should not 
lie by idle and useless. 

4. I might urge you too from the practice of the saints, who are 
called God's suppliants, Zeph. iii. 10 ; the generation that seek him, 
Ps. xxiv. 6. They delight in God's company, and cannot be content 
to stay away long from him. Daniel had his three times a day, Dan. 
vi. 10. So David : Ps. Iv. 17, ' Evening and morning an$ noon will 
I ^ray and cry aloud, and he shall hear my voice.' And ' Seven times 
a day will I praise thee,' Ps. cxix. 164. And Cornelius prayed to God 
always, Acts x. 2 ; not only with his family, but sometimes alone for 
his family. They that have a habit of prayer will be thus affected. 
Now, to be altogether unlike the people of God giveth just cause of 

5. Shall I add our own private necessities, which cannot be so 
feelingly spoken to by others, do challenge such a duty at our hands, 
or it may be are not so fit to be divulged and communicated to them : 
1 Kings viii. 38, ' There is the plague of our own hearts.' Paul had 
his thorn in the flesh : 1 Cor. xii. 7, ' I sought the Lord thrice.' No 
nurse like the mother ; none so fit feelingly to lay forth our case to 
God as ourselves. Private prayer it is a help to enlargement of heart, 
for the more earnest men are, the more they desire to be alone : Jer. 
xiii. 17, ' My soul shall weep sore in secret places.' Christ went from 
his disciples in his agony, when he would pray more earnestly, Luke 
xxii. 41, 42. Strong affections are loath to be disturbed, and seek 
retirement. Jacob sent away his company when he wrestled with 
God, Gen. xxiii. 24. Oh ! then, let all this be considered by you. If 
you neglect closet addresses to God, you wrong God and yourselves. 
You wrong God, because it is a necessary part of the creature's 
homage to God ; and you wrong yourselves, because such duties bring 


in a great deal of comfort and peace to the soul, and many sweet and 
gracious experiences, which are not vouchsafed elsewhere. Bernard 
saith, The church's spouse is bashful, and Christ will not communicate 
his loves in company. You are to use acquaintance with God, and so 
peace shall come to us, Job xxii. 21. It argueth little friendship to 
God when we seldom come at him, and maintain no personal com 
merce with him. When we pray with others, we cannot so well tell 
who is heard as when we pray alone, and see what God will do for our 
souls : Ps. cxvi. 1, ' I will love the Lord, because he hath heard the 
voice of my supplication.' You sought earnestly for such a thing, and 
the Lord heard you. To conclude all, a man will not pray with any 
savour and delight in public that doth not pray in secret. I observe 
in Ezekiel's vision the Lord removed from the temple by degrees; 
first from the \\o\f place to the altar of burnt-offerings, then to the 
threshold of the house, then to the mountain on the east side of the 
city ; there it stood hovering as loath to be gone. So first God is cast 
out of the closet, private intercourses are neglected, then out of the 
family, and then out of the congregation, and then public ordinances 
are laid aside as useless ; then are men given up to a strange giddy 
and vertiginous spirit, and all manner of profaneness. As a tree dies 
by degrees, first bears no fruit, then no leaves, then no bark ; so carnal 
Christians die by degrees. 

Secondly, It was an early morning prayer, ' I prevented the dawn 
ing of the morning, and cried.' I would not lay a burden upon any 
one's conscience ; so God have his due at any time of the day, it is 
enough. In colder climates, those of a weaker constitution may not 
be able to rise so soon, and therefore if any other time of the day be 
fittest for commerce, all circumstances considered, it cometh to the 
same issue. Yet that the morning is our golden time, and should not 
be neglected out of sluggishness, whatever dispensation there be Jor 
weakness, these considerations may evince. 

1. The example of Christ and his saints. We read of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, Mark i. 35, ' That in the morning, rising a great while 
before day, he went out and prayed/ This example bindeth those to 
receive it that can receive it. If you would take the opportunity of 
the morning, it deserves to be considered by us how willing Christ was 
to deny his natural rest to be with God in private. And have not we 
more need ? And accordingly the saints have practised this : Ps. v. 
3, ' My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, Lord ; in the morning 
direct my prayer to thee, and look up.' Upon which Chrysostom 
Before thou washest thy hands, wash thy soul by prayer. So 
ggain, Ps. hx. 16, ' I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning/ 
David begin his day with praises of God and prayers to him. 
i' mi \ ' , . the y rose U P earl 7> and worshipped before t 

i' mi , . > rshipped before the 

lx>ra. lhat was their first work, and they were betimes at it. So the 
rimitive Christians had their hymnos antelucanos, they sung psalms 
' <*od and Christ m the morning early, as their persecutors informed 
mst them See Tertul. Apol. Euseb, &c. Now this is of some 
sigmnance to Christiana 

2. Because whenever we have strong affections to anything, we make 
our morning work, be it good or bad Good; so Mary and Mary 

VER. 147.] 



Magdalene came early to the sepulchre of Christ, Mat. xxviii. The 
disciples, when they came to wait for the promise of the Spirit, they 
met betimes, for the Holy Ghost fell upon them in the morning : Acts 
ii. 15, ' For these men are not drunk, as ye suppose, seeing it is but 
the third hour of the day/ which was about nine of the clock ; and 
some good time had been spent before, as appears by this speech that 
was uttered. So Hosea v. 16, 'In their afflictions they will seek me 
early/ This is their first and chiefest work : that which urgeth the 
heart most, we shall think of in the morning. The objects that have 
made deepest impression upon our spirits will present themselves before 
any images be received from abroad : Prov. vi. 22, ' Bind my law upon 
thy heart ; when thou walkest, it shall talk with thee/ &c. Abraham, 
when he went about the work of offering his son Isaac, he rose early 
in the morning, Gen. xxii. So, for bad things : if a man be worldly, 
his worldly desires and affections compel him to rise early for their 
satisfaction, Ps. cxxvii. 3, the drunkard is thinking early of his morn 
ing draught, to be filled with wine ! Isa. xv. 11, ' Woe to them that 
rise up early to follow strong drink/ The people, when they were 
mad upon the calf, Exod. xxxvi. 6, ' They rose up early in the morn 
ing and offered burnt- offer ings to it/ Whatsoever hath secured its 
interest in the soul will first urge us. So if prayer be our chief 
pleasure, it will urge us to be up betimes with God : our delights and 
affections solicit us in the morning. 

3. It is the choicest time of the day, and therefore should be allotted 
to the most serious and necessary employment. It is the choicest time, 
partly with respect to the body, because the body is then best refreshed, 
and our vigour repaired, which is lessened and spent with the business 
of the day ; our memories quickest, senses readiest, natural faculties 
most acute. And partly with respect to the mind; our morning 
thoughts are our virgin thoughts, more pure, sublime, and defecate, 
usually free from worldly cares, which would distract us in prayer, and 
will more encroach upon us by our worldly business, and the baser 
objects which the necessity of our life engages us to con verse with, and 
be employed about. Certainly the best time should be taken up about 
the best business ; not in recreations to be sure, for this is to knit plea 
sure to pleasure, and to wear away the scythe in whetting, not in work 
ing. They are brutish epicures that rise up from sleep, not to service, 
but to their sensual delights and vanities ; as the scripture brandeth 
them that eat in the morning, not for strength, but excess, Eccles. x. 
16, 17. The morning is the fittest time for business. Now what 
business should we do but the most weighty, and that which requireth 
the greatest heedfulness of soul, which is our communion with God ? 

4. Consider, it is profitable to begin the day with God, and to season 
the heart with some gracious exercise; as David, Ps. cxxxix. 18, 
' When I awake, I am still with thee/ It sanctifieth all our other 
business, as the offering the first-fruits did sanctify the whole lump. 
And to whom should the first-fruits of our reason and sense restored 
be consecrated, but to him that gave us all, and is the author and pre 
server of them ? When the world gets the start of religion, it can 
hardly overtake it all the day : the first thoughts leave a powerful 
impression upon it : Micah ii. 1, ' They devise evil upon their beds, 


and when the morning is come they practise it/ With carnal men 
sin beginneth in the morning, stayeth in the heart all day, playeth in 
the fancy all night. But if you begin with God in the morning, yon 
take God along with you all the day to your business and employment. 

5. This will be some recompense for the time lost in sleeping : half 
our lives are consumed in it ; our time is parted between work and 
sleep. It is the misery and necessity we are subject unto, whilst we 
are in the body, that so much of our time should be spent without 
doing anything for God, or showing any act of love and thankfulness 
to him. None of the other creatures ever stand still, but are always 
executing and accomplishing the end for which they were made. And 
in heaven the blessed spirits are always beholding the face of God, and 
lauding and blessing his name, and need not those intermissions which 
we bodily creature's do. Now, though this be our necessity, and so no 
sin to need the refreshings of sleep, yet because so much of our time 
is lost, by way of recompense, the least that we should do is to take 
the next season ; and if health and bodily constitution will permit, to 
prevent the dawning of the morning, and to be as early with God as 
we can. All the time we can well spare should be given to God. Do 
but consider, since thou wentest to bed the sun hath travelled many 
thousand miles to give thee light this morning, and therefore what a 
shame it is that the sun, being continually in so swift motion, should 
return and find him turning and tossing in his bed, like a door upon 
the hinges, Prov. xx. 14, after nature is satisfied with sleep ; and that 
we should not rise, and own God's mercy in the rest of the night, and 
sanctify the labours of the day by some serious address to him. This 
meditation is enforced by Augustine, indecus est Christiana, si radius 
solis eum inveniat in lecto, posset cnim dicere sol, si potestatem 
loquendi haberet, Amplius laloravi heri, quam tu : et tamen cum jam 
surrexerim, tu adkuc dormis. So Ambrose on this text, grave est, si 
te otiosum radius solis orientis in verecundo pudore conveniat, et 
lux clara inveniat occulos somnolento adhuc corpore depresses. 

Thirdly, It was a vehement and earnest prayer ; for saith David, 
' I cried.' Observe 

Doot. It was earnest, though private ; and it was earnest, though he 
could get no satisfactory answer. 

1. Earnest though private. In all our addresses to God we must 
be serious ; whether men see or hear or no, God seeth and heareth. A 
hypocrite hath a great flash of gifts in company, but is strait when 
alone ; but God's children are most earnest in private, when they do 
more particularly open their hearts to God, without taking in the 
necessities of others. Christ when he was withdrawn from his disciples, 
then he prayed eKrevearepov, ' more earnestly,' Luke xxii. 44. Jacob sent 
away his company to deal with God in good earnest, and then wrestled 
i him : illc dolet vere qui sine teste dolet. Peter went out and 
wept bitterfy. So a Christian trieth it out between God and him, 
when he hath a mind to plead for his own soul or for the church; 

lerefore hath no outward reason to move him but conscience and 
spiritual affectioa The pharisees would pray in the synagogues and 
corners of the streets; but Christ saith, ' Go into thy closet, and shut 
the door, and pray to thy Father in secret/ Mat. vi. 7. This is the 

VER. 147.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 73 

love and confidence we express to our Father in secret. A man may 
put forth himself with great warmth and vigour before others, that is 
slight and careless in secret addresses to God. In these secret inter 
courses we most taste our spirits, and discern the pure workings of 
affection towards God. A woman that only bemoaneth the loss of her 
husband in company, but banisheth all thoughts of him when alone, 
might justly be suspected to act a tragical part, and to pretend sorrow 
rather than feel it. Some will pray in secret, but customarily utter a 
few cold words ; but David saith, ' I cried.' Eemember there is one 
seeth in secret ; as Christ saith, ' I am not alone,' John xvi. 32 ; and 
Mai. i. 14, he is a God of great majesty ; he will not be put off with 
anything, with a short good-morrow or a hasty sigh. Consider, if you 
pray in good earnest, the prayer will not be lost ; there is a register 
kept in heaven : Acts x. 4, ' Thy prayer is come up as a memorial 
before God/ Surely a man that belie veth and consulteth these things 
dareth not be slight, though there be none present but God and his 
own soul. 

2. It was earnest though the answer was delayed : I cried, I cried ; 
I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried. The Lord can 
not away with cold asking and a ceasing upon every repulse. You 
must continue to pray when God continueth to deny, otherwise you 
do not pray in faith ; for when the word warrants you to pray, either 
by way of command or promise, you must not give over. David saith 
here, ' I cried, for I hoped in thy word.' When providence giveth no 
answer, you must take your answer out of the covenant or promise, 
and so answer yourself when God doth not answer you : 1 Sam. xii. 
23, ' God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray 
for you.' You cannot dispense with your duty, whatever the success 
be. Sometimes duty keepeth up prayer, sometimes the promise, and 
so hope of the mercy prayed for; there is no way to bring the promise 
and the providence of God together but by prayer or putting the 
promise in suit. Your obedience will be assaulted by the ingratitude 
of those whom you pray for, and your confidence by God's seeming 
denials ; therefore, as long as God commandeth, and he promiseth 
encouragement, you are not to give way, but hold up the suit still, 
whatever discouragements there be without. A good dog hunts by 
sight as long as he can see his game, but when that is lost, he hunts 
by scent. Visible probabilities be a good encouragement to give a 
lift to the mercy, when it seemeth to be coming on ; but though it be 
out of sight, faith keepeth the scent of the promise, keeps crying still; 
he heareth though he doth not answer, and the prayer will not be 
lost : but of this before. 

Fourthly, It is the prayer of a public person, who had his distrac 
tions, and more occasions than we can possibly pretend unto, yet he 
would not lose his praying hours. This consideration will yield us 
two notes : 

1. That David had his times of converse with God. 

2. That rather than fail of them, he would take them from his 

1. That he had his times of converse with God : Eccles. iii. 1, 
There is a time for all things/ much more for the best things ; 


therefore, if you have a time for other things, to eat and drink, and follow 
your worldly business, surely you should have a time for prayer. Shall 
we have a time for everything, and no time for God? Certainly we could 
not want time if we did not want a heart. Many complain they have no 
time, and many distractions ; if you have no time to pray, you have no 
time to be saved, no time to maintain the life and comfort and peace 
of your souls. David had as many employments as thou hast or 
canst have, therefore it is but a vain excuse. He that will regard 
what his own sluggish heart will allege, will never pray, never retire 
or be alone with God : a willing mind will find time in the midst of 
the greatest distractions ; whomsoever he compounds with and payeth 
short, he will not make bold with God, and serve him by halves. 
Look, as David speaks in 1 Chron. xxii. 14, ' Behold, in my trouble I 
have prepared for* the Lord an hundred thousand talents of gold and 
a thousand thousand talents of silver.' He was involved in wars, his 
exchequer impoverished and diminished, yet he kept vast sums for 
the temple. Surely the lean kine should not devour the fat, nor 
religion only be thrust out of doors. It is a more happy thing that 
Martha should complain of Mary than Mary neglect her duty. Holy 
privacy and closet work should not be neglected. It would be no loss 
to our other occasions if we did more prudently divide and allot out 
our time, and give God a good allowance rather than straiten him. 
Indeed, what part you should give to God is another question. 

In the general, it is good to dedicate a certain part and portion of 
our time to the Lord of time. Idle servants must be tasked, and 
required to bring in their tale of bricks. A prudent allotment, such 
as is consistent with our occasions and course of life, would be no 
burden to you. I am sure it will make your duties more seasonable 
and orderly. It is an expression of love to give him somewhat that 
is our own. In the general, we are not tied to the seasons of eating 
and drinking, yet for conveniency we have our stated hours. The 
most necessary work should have a turn, and not be taken up by 
chance, and not left to a mere haphazard ; it will make you more 
careful and watchful how you spend your other hours, that you may 
not be unfit for duty when your time of worship cometh, 1 Peter 
iii. 7. 

Again, though we cannot bind you absolutely to a time, they that 

are most holy will be most frequent with God. Love will direct. 

They that love one another cannot be strange to each other : he that 

loveth God cannot be long out of his company. God trusts love ; 

that grace is liberal and open-hearted. Christ resorted often to 

Bethany, because he loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, John xi. 

Lhe bpirit of God will direct you by his motions, Ps. xxvii. 8. 

bometimes he sendeth you into the closet; your own necessities will 

put you in mind ; he hath left many wants upon us to bring us into 

his presence : James i. 5, 'If any man want wisdom/ &c.; Heb. iv. 

; Let us come with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may 

obUun mercy, and find grace to help in a time of need/ The interest 

> spiritual life directs you ; you cannot maintain it in any vigour 

but by some recourse to God ; some time God must have. 

^ Jiather than fail, he would take it from his sleep. Other busi- 

VER. 147.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 75 

ness must give way to the great work and interest, especially the most 
inconsiderable interests of recreation. We are bidden to redeem time, 
Eph. v. 16, rescue it from meat, sleep, company, and recreation. 
Surely this is an equitable proposal, let God have as much time every 
day as thou spendest unprofitably. Do but observe the spending of 
thy time, and be ashamed that God should have such a little share. 

Use. Now you see David's instance, let this persuade you to this 
assiduity and diligence, to be ardent and instant in prayer, taking 
hold of all opportunities to pursue after God, without whom you can 
not live : Ps. Ixix. 32, ' Your hearts shall live, that seek God/ We 
cannot preserve any vitality without this. To press this 

1. Ketire often from company to be alone with God. Public duties 
are of little profit with us because we neglect private. God com- 
plaineth of his people, Jer. ii. 32, ' That they have forgotten him days 
without number.' How many days have gone over your heads, and 
God never heard from you ! You should no more forget him every 
day than a bride would forget her ornaments on the wedding-day. 

2. Let me lay this before you; you should be betimes with God, that 
you may not encroach upon your other occasions ; yea, that you may 
sanctify your other occasions, and be the fitter for it all the day after. 
Let not the soft enemy of sleep steal away your golden hours, and the 
flower and choicest part of time. A Christian that makes conscience 
of his time should not inure himself to a sluggish course, and turn 
in his bed like a door upon the hinges, if your constitution will bear 
it, otherwise we lay no blame upon you. The scriptures have many 
dissuasives from immoderate sleep, Prov. v. 9, xiii. 4, xxvi. 14 ; vi. 
6. To be sure a Christian is to make conscience of time, and how 
he spendeth it ; and we may sin and surfeit in sleeping as well as in 
eating and drinking ; and therefore we must watch against the en 
croachments of ease and sloth, lest a sluggish humour grow natural 
to us, and a morbid custom that cannot be shaken off. 

3. It presseth you to fervency, though in private. As much fer 
vency, sense, and zeal as you would express before men, so much 
should we express when alone. The name of God must be sanctified 
in all that draw near to him, in private as well as in public, otherwise 
he is scorned rather than honoured ; that it may appear you were 
sincere in prayer, and have not mean and low thoughts of God, other 
wise you bring a suspicion upon all your public duties. There may 
be sometimes more assistance in public, more order and method for 
edification, but not more ardour and zeal. Pray with fervency, as to 
an all-seeing spirit. Though the Lord delayeth, yet he intendeth the 
enlargement of our desires: Lam. iii. 49, 50, 'Mine eye trickleth 
down and ceaseth not, without any intermission ; till the Lord looks 
down from heaven and beholds.' If you are soon discouraged you 
will get nothing. 

^ 4. Be sure that God hath his share. If business take up more 
time than prayer, because of the urgency of bodily necessities, yet 
ordinarily a man should not spend more time in any pastime and 
recreations than in religious exercises. It is most equal we should 
first seek the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof, Mat. vi. 
33. The most needful duty should have most time bestowed upon it. 


It ; 's an ill character to be ' lovers of pleasure more than lovers of 
God ' 2 Tim. iv. 3. It is reasonable to give an equal time to God 
and religion as to sports and delights. Most men have no other thing 
to do than to eat, drink, and sleep ; if they should compare their re 
ligion and their recreations, they would soon see what a large share of 
time one hath above the other. 

Secondly, We come to the reason and encouragement of his dili- 
<*ence, / hoped in thy word ; that is, because I have thy word for it, I 
do not doubt but in time I shall reap the fruit of my prayers. 

Doct. A lively hope, grounded upon the word of God, will put us 
upon this vigilancy and diligence in prayer. 

The reasons are taken (1.) From the word of God, which is the 
ground of hope : Ps. cxxx. 5, ' I wait for the Lord, my soul doth wait, 
and in his word cfo I hope.' And (2.) From the nature of hope, which 
is the fountain of prayer. 

First, From the word of God, which serveth for two uses invita 
tion and assurance. 

1. For invitation, to give us leave to come to the throne of grace. 
David did not come unbidden or uninvited into God's presence ; he 
had his word for it ; the promises of the gospel give us liberty, other 
wise we should not assume the boldness to appear before him : Ps. 1. 
15. The word is our warrant, it is as it were the holding out of the 
golden sceptre : 2 Sam. vii. 27, ' Therefore hath thy servant found in 
his heart to pray this prayer unto thee.' 

2. For assurance and firm confidence ; before the thing promised 
be Qbtained, God pawneth his word with us, which we must hold till 
the performance come. Now they that can thus hold it, and believe 
the promise, will be often in prayer, that the word may be both esta 
blished to them, 2 Sam. vii. 25, and fulfilled : Ps. cxvi. 10, ' I have 
believed, and therefore have I spoken.' 

Secondly, From the nature of hope, which implieth two things, both 
which have an influence upon prayer earnest expectation, and patient 
tarrying the Lord's leisure. 

1. Earnest expectation : Phil. i. 20, c According to my earnest ex 
pectation and my hope/ This exciteth the soul by all means to pur 
sue after the thing hoped for. When Daniel understood by books that 
the time was come, then was he vehement and earnest, Dan. ix. 2, 3. 
Elijah, when he saw a cloud but as big as a man's hand, he saith, 1 
Kings xviii. 43, ' Go bid Ahab prepare his chariot ; get thee down, 
that the rain stop thee not.' What we look for, we will pray for. 

2. Patient tarrying. We read of < the patience of hope,' 1 Thes. i. 
; and so, though they seem long delayed, yet hope in the promise 

will make us wait, and abide the performance of them ; because they 
are assured they shall find the fruit of them at last. 

Use. You see how we pray ; the occasion of prayer is necessity, our 

ities-lead us to the promise; that inviteth us, and giveth us 

assurance, and yields matter for faith and hope ; that puts us upon 

okmgand waiting; these two make us pray. When we can join 

patienham spei cum ardore desiderii ; the earnestness of expectation, 

keepeth us from sloth or negligence in the use of the means, or 

* us to call upon God ; and patience, that keeps us from fainting 

VER. 148.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 77 

or discouragement : hence cometli that earnest diligence and constant 
unceasing importunity, so as to give God no rest. The belief of God's 
promises do not make us neglect means, but to be more diligent in the 
use of them. 


Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy 
word. VER. 148. 

WE hear before of David's diligence in prayer, now in meditation. His 
prayer was encouraged by his hope, his hope was fed by the word, and 
the word improved by meditation ; for he saith, ' I hope in thy word/ 
and then, ' Mine eyes prevent the night watches/ &c. 
In the words we have 

1. An account of his vigilancy and diligence, mine eyes prevent 
the night watches. 

2. The duty wherein he was exercised, that I might meditate in thy 

The first branch needeth a little illustration what is meant by 
' night watches/ and what by preventing these night watches. 

1. What is meant by 'night watches'? Drusius telleth us that 
the night among the Hebrews was divided into three watches. The 
first watch was called the head or beginning of the watches : Lam. iii. 
19, ' Arise, cry out in the night, in the beginning of the watches ; 
pour out thine heart like water before the Lord.' The second was 
called the middle watch : Judges vii. 19. ' Gideon came to the outside 
of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch.' The third and 
last was called the morning watch : Exod. xiv. 24, ' In the morning 
watch the Lord troubled the host of the Egyptians/ This was the 
first division of the night among the Hebrews into three watches ; but 
it seemeth afterwards, when they were acquainted with the Romans, 
they had four watches; as Mat. xiv. 21, 'In the fourth watch of the 
night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea/ For every three hours 
they had a new watch, and according to this latter division they were 
called, the evening, and the midnight, and the cock-crowing, and the 
dawning, Mark xiii. 35. Now whether we reckon by the first or second 
division, it cannot be imagined that David should be wholly without 
sleep. Rabbi David Kimchi thinketh he gave the first watch to sleep, 
and the othe* two to the meditation of the word, and that he did this 
often when the nights were long. I think it is meant of the third and 
last watch, and so it agreeth with the dawning of the morning men 
tioned in the former verse ; and this watch, which is called the morn 
ing watch, did David prevent, getting up early to entertain himself 
with delightful meditations on the word of God. The Septuagint 
reads it, ' Early in the morning/ 

2. What is meant by preventing the night watches ? Either that 
he was more careful to awake at several times of the night to meditate 
on God's word than they to keep their watches who were appointed 


thereunto, or that he did not need to be called upon by them ; for the 
watchmen were wont to tell them the seasons and watches of the night, 
but he needed not that help, his own desires and delights awakened 
him ; so that in effect he saith, When others are so fast asleep that 
I'ilher they do not wake in the night, or if they do, it is because they 
are interrupted in their sleep by the noises of the watch or guard, I 
need no such excitation, ' for my eyes prevent the night watches ; ' 
sleep flieth from them of its own accord, that my mind may be de 
lighted with the meditation of God's word. The points are : 

1. From the duty wherein David was exercised, 

Doct. That meditation on the word of God is one duty that Chris 
tians should take care to perform. 

2. From the season, his eyes prevented the night watches, 

Doct. A gracious heart will take all occasions to set itself a- work on 
holy tlungs, and sometimes in the night. 

3. From the condition wherein he was ; in some distress, for he saith, 
' Save me ;' and his prayers not yet heard, ' I cried, I cried, I cried/ 

Doct. That it is needful to meditate on God's promises at such a 
time as our suit hangeth at the throne of grace without grant and 

The first will give us occasion to speak of the duty of meditation, 
and the necessity and profit of it. What the duty of meditation is, see 
sermon upon the 15th verse of this psalm. 

Secondly, It is a necessary duty, because it is recommended to us 
by God, among other things enjoined in his word. He complaineth 
of the neglect of it : Isa. i. 3, ' Israel doth not know, my people doth 
not consider;' they will not think upon God, nor consider what great 
things he hath done for them. It is recommended to us in the prac 
tice of the saints, they sometimes meditate upon God : Ps. Ixiii. 3, ' I 
remember thee upon my bed, and meditate of thee in the night 
watches.' ^ When David could not sleep, and had his night rest 
broken, his thoughts run upon God presently. Sometimes upon the 
works of God : Ps. cxliii. 5, ' I meditate on all thy works, I muse on 
the work of thine hands.' On his creation and providence. Some 
times on the word of God, that part which -sets forth their duty : Ps. 

2, ' But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in that law doth 
he meditate day and night.' To make the Christian's life more 

[lerly and comely ; the apostle commands us : Phil. iv. 8, 'To think 
on these things.' Sometimes on the promises and grounds of faith, 
ie support of theii souls in a fainting time, as in the text ; especi- 
illy that part of the word which is brought unto them by the provi 
dence of God, and so we meditate upon what we read and hear : Luke 
w ' j ry i kept a11 tllese tm " n g s > and pondered them in her heart.' 

e ponder things when we consider the weight and moment of them, 

that our hearts may be affected with them. So Moses : Deut. xxxii. 

io, And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which 

tify among you this day;' Luke iv. 44, ' Let these sayings sink 

o your ears ; be seriously considered and thought of by you, not be 
Lost or vanish into the air, or stay in the brain. 

Inmlly, It is a profitable duty ; it is a help 

1. lo our natural faculties. 

VER. 148.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 79 

2. To our graces. 

3. To our duties. 

1. To our natural faculties. To our memories: we complain, of 
weak memories, but we do not take a right course to cure them. 
Good things slip from us as water doth through a sieve ; and why ? 
Because we do not weigh them, and meditate upon them by deep and 
serious thought. Truths would stay with us longer if we did of tener 
think on them. So many a conviction is lost : James i. 23, 24, ' For 
if any man be a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a 
man beholding his natural face in a glass, for he beholdeth himself, 
and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was/ Many a com 
fort is lost by neglect : Heb. xii. 5, { And have you forgotten the 
exhortation which speaketh to you as children ? ' A weak impression 
is soon defaced. Many a pressing motion is lost for want of a little 
diligence to fasten it upon the heart : Heb. ii. 1, ' Therefore we ought 
to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest 
at any time we should let them slip/ Meditation and serious con 
sideration fasten a truth upon the mind and memory. Deliberate 
thoughts stick by us, as a lesson well conned is not easily forgotten. 
Civet long kept in a box, the scent remaineth when the civet is taken 
out. Sermons meditated upon are remembered long after they are 
delivered. So for understanding. We have weak understandings, slow 
to conceive of anything that is spiritual and heavenly ; why ? Because 
we are so little exercised in the study and contemplation of these 
things ; whereas our judgments would ripen, and we would grow more 
skilful in the word of righteousness, if we did often meditate on it : 
Ps. cxix. 99, ' I have more understanding than all my teachers, for 
thy testimonies are my meditation. We see things in transits, and 
know them only by hearsay, without meditation. To move the will 
we had need deal seriously with our own hearts ere we can gain them 
to a consent. Thoughts are the spokesmen that make up the match 
between the soul and the temptation : they were given for the like 
office in good things ; they are the first acts of the soul to set a- work 
all the rest. Things lie by till we take them into our thoughts and 
consideration at leisure, that we may know what is their tendency, and 
how they concern us. You cannot imagine the gospel should work as 
a charm, and convert us we know not how, before consent and choice. 
There is a propounding and debating of terms ; the greatest matters 
will not work on him that doth not think of them. God and Christ, 
and heaven and salvation, are looked upon in a cold and remiss manner 
without this serious consideration. And to excite, and quicken, and stir 
our affections, meditation is useful. We complain of deadness, and we 
ourselves are the cause, because we do not rouse up ourselves, excite 
and compel ourselves, expostulate with ourselves : Isa. Ixiv. 7, ' And 
there is none that calleth upon thy name, and stirreth up himself to 
take hold of thee. ' Man hath a power to whet truths upon his own heart, 
and if we will not make use of it, and reason for God with ourselves, 
we are justly left under the power of deadness and stupidness of spirit. 

2. It is a great help to our graces. (1.) Faith takes root by medi 
tation: Mat. xiii. 5, ' The seed forthwith sprang upjbecause it had no 
deepness of earth/ A careless slight heart is no fit soil for faith to 


grow in. (2.) Hope is made lively by consideration of the thing hoped 
for. (3.) Charity is inflamed by the sight and frequent view of divine 
objects in their beauty and amiableness. 

3. The duties of religion, reading and hearing, are effectual by 

The use is for exhortation, to press you to meditation; it is the 
mother and nurse of knowledge and godliness, the great instrument in 
all the offices of grace, otherwise we take up things by hearsay ; this 
digests them, and maketh them our own. 

1. It preventeth vain thoughts, both as it stocketh the heart with 
truth, for good seed thick set and well rooted destroyeth the weeds, 
and as it seasoneth the heart with a gracious disposition, and inureth 
it more to holy thoughts ; whereas those that do not use to meditate, 
how are their minds pestered with swarms of vain thoughts, which 
wholly divert it and turn it aside from God ? Man is mindless of 
holy things, and if they turn into the heart by accident, their enter 
tainment is cold and careless, as a man would be used that cometh 
into a house full of enemies. 

2. How great an affront is it to God to omit this part of communion 
with him ; it is irksome to think of him. Saints find it otherwise : 
Ps. civ. 34, * My meditation of him shall be sweet/ Some, God is said 
to be near in their mouth, and far from their reins,. Jer xii. 2 ; fre 
quently spoken of, but seldom considered by them. That soul that 
hath a sincere and unfeigned love to him will take some time to solace 
itself with him alone ; to be sure God taketh it kindly at our hand : 
Mai. iii. 16, ' A book of remembrance was written for them that feared 
the Lord, and thought upon his name ; ' that have frequent and high 
thoughts of God in their hearts, without which, love will presently 
languish and grow cold. 

3. What a neglect it is of God's messages of love that you will not 
consider them : Mat. xxi. 5, ' And they made light of it;' and Heb. ii. 
3, ' How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation.' He hath 
laid out all his eternal thoughts upon a way of salvation, and manifested 
it to you, and you entertain it with so much scorn that you will not 
sot your minds to it, and think it worthy a few sad and sober thoughts. 
What ? Is it so tedious to think a thought of your own greatest con 
cernments ? Surely man is strangely depraved to refuse this. 

4. What a likely means meditation is to do you good. I know it 
is the Lord inclineth the heart, and our thoughts work no further than 
God is in them, yea, he giveth us to think, 2 Cor. iii. 5. But as it is 
our duty, so it is a very proper means to improve our graces and our 
comfort ; for a constant, steady, continued view of truth surely will 
work more than a glance. A transient view cannot leave such an 
impression upon us as a steady view. We taste things better when 
they are chewed than when they are swallowed whole. Meditation 
goeth over things again and again, and prieth into every part. And 
as it is a constant light, so it is an argumentative consideration of 

hings. When one scale is not heavy enough, we put in weight after 
weight till we gain our point ; bring off the heart from such a vanity, 

jngage it to such a pursuit by our own arguings with ourselves : Prov. 
xu. 14, A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his own 

VER. 148.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 81 

mouth ;' Acts xvii. 11, 12, 'And these were more noble than they of 
Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, 
and searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so/ 
Therefore many believed, because they had searched with all readiness 
of mind. 

5. This is an argument should prevail with God's children, that we 
may know our growth in grace, by the frequency, continuance, and 
efficacy of holy thoughts. At first good thoughts are few and rare, the 
heart is so crowded with vanity, that there is no room for God or his 
word ; for these things keep their interest in the heart and draw the 
mind after them, so that days pass over our heads and we forget God, 
Ps. x. 11 ; or if they arise in our minds, they find little entertainment 
there, but are gone as soon as they come. It is the policy of the enemy 
of our salvation to draw our minds from one thing to another, that 
good thoughts may pass over without fruit and benefit ; or if we force 
ourselves to continue, they do not warm the heart, only weary the 
brain. But now when truths are ever with us, they improve us : Ps. 
cxix. 98, ' Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than 
my enemies, for they are ever with me ; ' Prov. vi. 22, ' When thou 
goest it shall lead thee, when thou sleepest it shall keep thee, and when 
thou walkest it shall talk with thee.' We have them always ready and 
at hand. They that are sound at heart can pause with delight on 
heavenly things. It is a good note of some progress, it is a sign the 
heart is heavenly, carried out with a strong and prevailing love to 
heavenly things, that earthly profits and vain pleasures have not such a 
hand over us as they were wont to have. You have gotten the mastery 
over your thoughts, that the best and dearest of them you can employ 
for God, with great fervency and continuance : other matters do not 
find better welcome, nor so easily jostle them out of doors. By all this 
it appears it is a most profitable duty. 

Doct. That a gracious heart will take all occasions to set itself 
a-work on holy things, and sometimes in the night. 

David did frequently rouse up himself in the night to solace his soul 
with thoughts of God ; this was a frequent and cheerful exercise and 
employment to him. 

1. I shall prove this argueth a gracious frame of spirit. 

2. Show you some reasons why we should meditate sometimes in the 

1. It argueth a gracious frame of heart to take all occasions to 
set our minds a-work on holy things ; for there are three things in 

[1.] Plenty of divine knowledge ; the heart is well stocked, and can 
entertain itself without help from abroad : Ps. xvi. 7, ' I will bless the 
Lord who hath given me counsel ; my reins also instruct me in the 
night season.' He had laid up a great deal of truth in his reins or 
inward parts, and when sleep fled from his eyes, out it came. So 
Prov. vi. 21, ' Bind them continually upon thy heart, and tie them 
about thy neck ; ' to be always ready and present with us. It is an 
excellent thing to have a good treasure in our hearts : Mat. xii. 35, 
' A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good 
things.' Many a man's heart is stuffed with vanity, and then he is 



vain in his thoughts, and vain in his discourses, and vain in his actions ; 
yea, 'the word of God doth not dwell in him richly/ Col. iii. 16; then 
your thoughts are very scant and barren ; as he that hath more brass 
farthings m his pocket than gold or silver, will more easily pull them 
out at every turn. Our leanness of soul and difficulty to meditate 
cometh from the want of a stock of knowledge. 

[2.] It argueth spiritual delight and strong love : Ps. i. 2, ' But his 
delight is in the law of God, and in that law doth he meditate day and 
night.' Did we find such comfort as David did, we would break our 
sleep for that end. He that delights in the word is much conversant 
in it, for ubi amor ibi animus. All the time his necessities can spare, 
he will spend it in these private and spiritual exercises. Many men's 
time hangs upon their hands ; they do not know how to spend the sum 
mer day nor the winter night ; but one that hath a strong affection to 
holy things, he rather wants time, such is his solace and delight in 
God. He beginneth his heaven upon earth, and all the time he can 
get he is spending this way. But if we find no such comfort and 
repose of soul in meditation, no wonder that we are so averse from it. 
Our thoughts follow our affections, delight will set the mind a- work ; 
when others are sleeping securely, he mindeth his salvation. 

[3.] It argueth sincerity : Ps. xvii 3, ' Thou hast proved mine heart; 
thou hast visited me in the night ; thou hast tried me, and shalt find 
nothing.' In the night when darkness concealeth me from the eyes of 
men, then I exercise myself in spiritual thoughts. Many put on reli 
gion as a disguise in the day ; in public actions they personate a zeal, 
and act a devout part ; but that is to be sincere when God hath a 
great share in our closest privacies and retirement. 

2. Sometimes take the night as a special occasion : Ps. Ixiii. 6, ' When 
I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night 
watches ; ' Ps. Ixxvii. 6, ' I call to remembrance my song in the night' 
There is a double help for meditation in the night 

[1.] Solitude, then we are alone, and therefore fittest to meditate, 
when nobody disturbs us. 

[2.] The silence of the night is also a help, when nothing is heard 
or seen to distract attention. 

Use. What use shall we make of this ? We cannot lay a burden 
upon your consciences, and by way of absolute necessity exact these 
nocturnal meditations from you ; only in the general 

1. As much ^ as our strength and natural necessities will permit, we 
should be meditating night and day. It may be a shame to us that 
many tradesmen are up afore day to follow their callings, and that they 
should excel us. The Christians had their morning hymns to Christ 
in the times of persecution. 

2. We may press you to the affection, though not to the season ; to 
be stored with good matter, and to have a strong delight in this work, 
and sincerity to make conscience of private duties. 

3. If we wake in the night and our rest is broken off, then to exer 
cise ourselves in holy thoughts. Many times it falleth out that we 
cannot sleep ; now we should spend the time in meditation and prayer, 
not in vain thoughts, or entertaining ourselves with carnal musings, or 
perplexing and anxious thoughts about the troubles that we are under. 

VER. 149.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 83 

4. If David waked in the night, how much are they to blame that 
snort and sleep in the day, even in the time of worship, when others 
are entertaining communion with God. Surely if they had earnest 
affections this could not always be. The example of Eutychus should 
deter these ; Acts xx. 9, ' And there sat in the window a young man 
named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep ; and as Paul was 
long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third 
loft, and was taken up dead ; ' Mat. xxvi. 40, ' What ! could not ye 
watch with me one hour ? ' 

Doct. That meditation of the promises is very seasonable when the 
answer of our prayers is denied. 

For this is very powerful to support our fainting hopes, and to cheer 
and revive our drooping spirits. There is support in the word, and 
comfort in the word ; therefore we should much meditate on the pro 
mises at such a time. The best holdfast that we have of God is by 
his promise. Whatsoever his dispensations be, this will give satisfac 
tion enough. Though you cannot find what you would, his word is 
certain ; though no appearance of performance, his word is sure enough 
to fasten upon. The grounds of faith are more sweet and satisfactory 
the more they are examined and looked upon. 


Hear my voice, according to thy loving-kindness : Lord, quicken 
me according to thy judgment. VER. 149. 

IN these words you have (1.) David's prayer ; (2.) The grounds of 
his support, or his encouragements in asking. 

1. His prayer is double (1.) General, for audience, ' Hear my 
voice ; ' (2.) Particular, for quickening, ' Quicken me.' 

2. His encouragements and grounds of confidence in asking are also 
two (1.) God's loving-kindness ; (2.) His judgment. Both together 
imply the loving-kindness of God manifested in the word or expressed 
and engaged in the promises. The points are three : 

Doct. 1. One blessing which the children of God do see a need often 
and earnestly to ask of God is quickening. David ever and anon 
reneweth his request, and he is loath to be denied ; and therefore, 
before he saith, ' Quicken me/ he saith, ' Hear my voice.' 

Doct. 2. The main argument which God's children have to plead in 
prayer is his own favour and loving-kindness. That is David's argu 
ment in the text, ' Hear my voice, according to thy loving-kindness/ 

Doct. 3. The mercy and loving-kindness of God, manifested and 
impledged in the promises of the gospel, doth notably encourage us to 
ask help from him ; for David doth not only say, ' According to thy 
loving-kindness/ but, 'According to thy judgment/ 

Doct. 1. For the first point, one blessing which the children of God 
do see a need often and earnestly to ask of God is quickening. Here 
I shall inquire 

1. What is quickening. 


2. Give you some reasons why the children of God do see a need 
so often and earnestly to ask it of God. 
First, What is quickening ? 

1. By quickening some understand restitution to happiness ; for a 
calamitous man is as one dead and buried under deep and heavy 
troubles, and his recovery is a life from the dead, or a reviving from 
the grave. So quickening seemeth to be taken, Ps. Ixxi. 20, ' Thou 
which hast showed me great and sore troubles shalt quicken me again, 
and bring me up from the depths of the earth/ 

2. Others understand by quickening the renewing and increasing in 
him the vigour of his spiritual life. That he beggeth that God would 
revive, increase, and preserve that life which he had already given, that 
it might be perfected and consummated in glory, that he might be 
ever ready to bring' forth the habits of grace into acts. 

The use which we should make of it is to press you 

1. To be sensible of the temper of your hearts, and see whether you 
want quickening, yea or no. The feeling of spiritual deadness argueth 
some life and sense yet left. You have attained to so much of life, and 
do retain it in such a measure, as to be able to bemoan yourselves to 
God. Most observe their bodies, but very few their souls : if their 
bodies be ill at ease or out of order, they complain. Men that go on 
in a track of customary duties see no need of quickening ; therefore 
this humble sense is a good sign. Matins and vespers coldly run over 
never put us upon the feeling of indispositions, but only duties done 
with some spirit and life, as a smith blows not the bellows on cold iron 
or a dead coal. Who would seek quickening when not serious in the 
work ? They that go on in the cold wont of duties never regard the 
frame of their hearts. 

2. When you want quickening, ask it of God. He brought us into 
the state of life at first, and therefore every moment we must beg of 
him that he would quicken us, that he would continue it, and perfect 
his own work : Cant. i. 4, ' Draw me ; we will run after thee/ There 
is no running, no preserving the vitality of grace, without his renewed 
influence : Ps. xxii. 29, ' None can keep alive his own soul.' There 
fore, when we find this deadness or decay of life, to whom should we 
go but to the fountain of life to repair it ? No creature doth subsist of 
itself, or act of itself. 

3. Ask it earnestly. David prefaceth a general prayer before this 
request, and saith, ' Hear my voice/ as loath to be denied. Many ask 
it of course, rather use it as a mannerly form when they are entering 
upon holy duties, than a broken-hearted request. See you desire it 
heartily : Ps. cxix. 40, ' Behold, I have longed after thy precepts ; 
quicken thou me in thy righteousness/ A man's heart is set upon it, 
and will not sit down with the distemper, as contented and satisfied 
with a dead frame of heart: quickening is for longing souls, that 
would fain do the work of God with a more perfect heart. 

4. Expect this grace in and through Jesus Christ, who came down 
from heaven for this end : John x. 10, ' I am come that they might 
have life, and might have it more abundantly/ That was his end in 
coming into the world, to procure life for his people, and not only bare 
life, but liveliness and comfort, yea, glory hereafter : he died to pur- 

VER. 149.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 85 

chase it for us : John vi. 51, ' This is my flesh, which I give for the 
life of the world.' His incarnation and taking on him our nature is 
the channel and conduit through which the quickening virtue that is in 
the Godhead is conveyed to us ; and his offering up himself in that 
nature by his eternal Spirit doth purchase and merit the application 
and annunciation of this his quickening virtue to our souls, and pre- 
pareth him to be fit meat for souls. That same flesh and human 
nature of Christ that is offered up a ransom to justice, is also the bread 
of life for souls to feed upon. Souls are fed with meditations upon his 
death and sufferings. The bread which he giveth by way of applica 
tion is his flesh, which he gave by way of ransom ; every renewed act 
of faith draweth an increase of life from him. 

5. Consider how God worketh it in us. The Father of spirits loveth 
to work with his own tools. These three agree in one the Spirit, the 
word, and the renewed heart. The one is the author, the other the 
instrument, and the last the object. There is the Spirit acting, and 
the habit of grace acted upon, and the word and sacraments are the 
instruments and means. For God will do it rationally, and by a 
lively light. God forceth not the nature of second causes against their 
own inclination. It is pleasing to him when we desire him to renew 
his work, and to bring forth the actings of grace out of his own seed, 
and to blow with the wind, the breath of his Spirit, on the gardens, 
that the spices may flow out, Cant. iv. 15. If one of these be wanting, 
there can be no quickening. Not the Spirit, for he applieth all and 
doth all in the hearts of believers. It is from him that we have the 
new life of grace and all the activity of it : Gal. v. 25, * If we live in 
the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit/ Then there must be a 
renewed heart ; for God doth first infuse the principles of the new life, 
and gracious habits and power into the soul, next he doth actuate 
those powers, or stir them up to do what is good ; otherwise we do 
but blow to a dead coal. Then the word and sacraments come as 
God's means which are fitted to work upon the new creature. These 
are full of spiritual reason, and suited to the sanctified understandings 
of mea and women. 

6. Consider God's loving-kindness, how ready he is to grant this. 
He will not deny the gift of the Holy Ghost to them that ask him, 
Luke xi. 13. It is an argument not a pari, but a minore ad majus. 
God is more able and willing to give than earthly parents, who are but 
half fathers. This is a spiritual and necessary blessing, and God is 
too fatherly to deny it to his children. You may deny an apple to a 
wanton child, but you will not deny bread to a fainting child, the 
bowels of a father will not permit you to do that ; you may deny them 
superfluities in wisdom, but your love will not permit you to deny them 
necessaries. Meat is not so necessary to revive and refresh the body, 
as grace for the soul, and his holy inspirations to act and guide you. 
And will God deny these requests ? 

7. Know when you have received quickening. Many Christians 
look for rapt and ecstatic motions, and so do not own the work of God 
when it hath passed upon them ; they underrate their own experi 
ences, and so cannot take notice of God's faithfulness. Sense, appetite, 
and activity are the fruits of life and quickening. 


[1.] We have the more sense of indwelling sin as a heavy burden, 
Kom. vii. 24. None groan so sorely as those that are made partakers 
of a new life. Elementa non gravitant in suis locis. A delicate con 
stitution is more sensible of pain. Wicked men scarce feel deep 
wounds given to their conscience, nor have any remorse for gross sins ; 
God's children, their hearts smite them for the smallest disorders and 

[2.] Appetite after Christ, his graces and comforts, 1 Peter ii. 2 ; 
the more life any have, the more craving of food to maintain it in 
being ; they are always hungering and thirsting after God, Mat. v. 6 ; 
our appetite will be after the things that conduce to the maintaining 
and preserving that being which they have. If a man lose his appe 
tite, the body pineth and languisheth, and strength decayeth : desire 
prepareth the soul to take in its supplies. Your life is in good plight 
when that is desired, TO \oyi/cbv a$o\ov <yd\a, and it will be a means of 
spiritual growth, a kindly appetite after this milk. They are under a 
great decay who have lost their appetite after the gospel. 

[3.] Activity in duties. That we may honour Christ : 1 Peter ii. 4, 
5, ' To whom coming as a living stone, ye also as lively stones are 
built up into a spiritual house/ Christ liveth, and we live by him, as 
the stones in the building carry a proportion with the corner-stone ; 
so Christians as the body with the head. It must needs be so, because 
of God's Spirit dwelling in us, Ezek. xxxvi. 27 ; John vii. 37 ; and 
because of the graces in a Christian faith and love. Faith working 
by love is the great evidence of the new creature. If faith and love 
be strong, it will quicken us to do much for God ; the apprehension 
of ^ faith doth enliven our notions of God, Christ, heaven, and hell ; 
faith puts life into our thoughts of him. Love is a notable pleader 
and urger : 2 Cor. v. 14, ' The love of Christ constraineth us/ &c. 

Secondly, The reasons why, &c. 

1. They that have so much to do with God do see a need of it; 
for lie is a living God, and will be served in a lively manner : Kom. 
xii. 11, ' Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord/ 
They that serve the Lord ; negatively, must not be slothful in business ; 
affirmatively, fervent in spirit. God will not be served negligently, 
coldly, but with life and earnestness : ' The twelve tribes served God 
eV ticrevela, instantly/ Acts xxvi. 7 ; instantly serving God with the 
uttermost of their strength. He that hath a right to our all must 
have our best ; surely he will not be put off with every slight thing. 
Now the children of God, that are sensible of this, are earnest for 
quickening, that they may serve God in such a way as becometh him, 
with life and power and zeal ; for the manner in every duty is to be 
regarded as well as the matter. A man may do many things that are 
good, but there is no life in what he doth. He prayeth, but without 
any life in prayer, dead in prayer ; heareth, but no life in hearing, dull 
f hearing. All things in a Christian may be counterfeited, but life 
cannot be counterfeited, that cannot be painted. 

, They are acquainted with themselves, and observe the frame and 
posture of their own spirits. Now they that know themselves will see 
a need of quickening 

[1.] Because of the instability and changeable frame of man's heart ; 

VER. 149.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 87 

it hardly stayeth long in the same state ; now it is up, and anon it is 
down, as the constant experience of the saints witnesseth. Sometimes 
they have a forwardness and strong propension of heart to that which 
is good, at other times a loathness and dulness or unfitness to perform 
any spiritual service, when their will is more remiss and their affec 
tions unbent. It is not indeed the constant frame of their hearts, yet 
it is a disease incident to the saints ; even good men may feel a slow 
ness of heart to comply with the will of God, and some hanging off 
from duty. Spontanece lassitudines sunt signa imminentis morbi. 
So is this laziness and backwardness of spirit a sign of some great 
spiritual distemper. Sometimes they are carried with great largeness 
of heart, and full sail of affections ; at other times they are in bonds 
and straits, that they cannot pour out their hearts before God : Ps. 
Ixxvii. 4, * I am so troubled that I cannot speak.' Sometimes they 
have great life and vigour, at other times no such lively stirrings, but 
are flat and cold and dead ; when, with Samson, they think to go 
forth and shake themselves as at other times, Judges xvi. 20, by sad 
experience they find that their locks are gone, that their understand 
ings are lean, sapless, and their affections cold, and their delight and 
vigour lost. Man is a sinful, weak, inconstant creature ; his heart is 
as unstable as water : and much of this levity and instability remaineth 
with us after grace, as is seen in the various postures of spirit that we 
are under. 

[2.] Because of the constant opposition of the flesh. There is an 
opposite principle in our hearts, Gal. v. 1*7 ; the body of death that 
dwelleth in us doth always resist the life of the spirit in us ; and 
therefore God must renew the influences of his grace to preserve life. 
There are desires against desires, and delights against delights ; this 
must needs abate our vigour. The spirit draweth one way, the flesh 
another. It is drawing : James i. 14, ' Every man is tempted when 
he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed/ It is depressing : Heb. 
xii. 1, ' Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of 
witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so 
easily beset us/ Carnal affections hang as a weight, retarding us in 
our heavenly flight and motions. It is warring : IJoni. vii. 23, ' I see 
another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and 
bringing me into captivity to the law of sin/ And therefore the Lord 
had need to cherish the new creature and good seed, which cannot but 
be weakened with this opposition. 

[3.] Because our outward condition doth work a great change in 
us. A Christian should, and in some measure doth, carry an equal 
mind in all conditions, and keep the same pace whether he goeth 
up-hill or down-hill, and have his heart fixed in God whatever falleth 
out : Ps. cxii. 7, ' He shall not be afraid of evil tidings, his heart is 
fixed, trusting in the Lord/ But, alas ! we are much discomposed often 
times, especially at the first onset, by our outward estate ; when under 
great afflictions, it puts a damp upon our spirits, and we cannot serve 
God so cheerfully : Lev. x. 19, ' And Aaron said unto Moses, Behold, 
this day have they offered their sin-offering and their burnt-offering 
before the Lord, and such things have befallen me ; and if I had eaten 
the sin-offering to-day, should it have been accepted in the sight of the 


Lord/ So Hezekiah, it is said of him 2 Chron. xxxii. 25, when 
Hezekiah was sick unto death, and he prayed unto the Lord, and he 
gave him a sign, that Hezekiah rendered not again according to the 
benefit done unto him, for his heart was lifted up. We are too apt 
to be dejected and cast down with worldly troubles, or exalted and 
puffed up with worldly comforts, and both bring on deadness upon the 
heart, both worldly sorrow and carnal complacency. It is not requi 
site that a child of God should be without all sense of his condition, 
and it cannot be supposed that this sense should always be kept within 
bounds, and under the coercion and government of grace, considering 
our weakness ; and therefore a Christian receiveth some taint from the 
changes he passes through, as the water doth from the soil through 
which it runneth. He is sometimes in credit, sometimes in disgrace ; 
sometimes rich, sometimes poor ; sometimes sick and in pain, at other 
times in health and firm constitution of body. Now, though it argueth 
small strength to faint in ordinary afflictions, Prov. xxiv. 10, and a 
light spirit to be puffed up like a bubble with every slight blast, yet 
when troubles are heavy and pressing, God's best servants have been 
ready to die and faint, and in a full estate it is hard to keep down 
carnal rejoicing. By both, the freedom of following God's service 
cheerfully may often be interrupted. 

[4.] Because we sin away our life and strength, and by our careless 
walking contract deadness and hardness of heart. The mind, like the 
eye, is soon offended and out of temper : we forfeit the quickening 
influences of his Spirit, upon which the activity of grace dependeth. 
To correct our sinful rashness, and to teach us more watchfulness and 
caution, God withdraweth, Phil. ii. 12, 13. Be the sin a sin of com 
mission, especially if grievous and heinous ; as David found a shrewd 
abatement of life and vigour after his foul sin, Ps. li. 11, 12 ; or a 
sin of omission, when we neglect God or serve him slightly. If we give 
way to deadness, Isa. Ixiv. 6, rest in the work wrought, and are more 
willing to get a duty over than to perform it with any life and vigour, 
God suspends his quickening. If you do not mind the work, why 
should God quicken you in it ? 

3. The third reason is taken from the nature of God's dispensations. 
They do often and earnestly ask quickening, because God giveth out by 
degrees, and would keep us in constant dependence : ' In him we live, 
move' (Ki,vovfj,6a), ' and have our being/ Acts xvii. 28, both as crea 
tures and new creatures. There is a constant concurrence of his 
motions and influences by their beings and operations. God will 
endear his grace to us by bringing us daily under new debt; and 
therefore he doth not give us all our stock and portion in our hands, 
lest we neglect him, as the prodigal did his father. By multiplied and 
renewed acts of grace he doth more commend his love to us ; every 
day he must quicken us, and in every duty. If so much rain fell in 
a day as would suffice the earth for seven years, the commerce between 
the air and the earth would cease ; or if a man could eat so much at 
one meal as to go in the strength of it all his life, there would be no 
ground to pray for daily bread ; therefore God doth dispense his assist 
ances so as you must still wait upon him and be calling to him. He 
keepeth grace in his own hand that he may often hear from us. 

VER. 149.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 89 

Doct. 2. The main argument which God's children have to plead in 
prayer is his own favour and loving-kindness. I shall show 

1. That this is a modest, humble, and pious argument. 

2. This is a comfortable and encouraging argument. 

First, It is a modest argument, and it were good if we could learn 
this modesty of David. He was one much in prayer, diligent in keep 
ing God's statutes, abundant in all acts of devotion, spent nights in 
meditation, and yet after all this placeth all his hopes in the mercy 
and loving-kindness of God, and desireth only to be heard according to 
mercy. But in us there is a secret carnal notion of God as if he were 
our debtor. If we act for him, or suffer anything for him, we carry it as 
if God were obliged to us : Isa. Iviii. 3, ' Wherefore have we fasted ? ' &c. 
We cannot be at a fast, give a little alms, or make a prayer, but we 
think we have merited much at God's hands. Oh ! this is against all 
reason. Alas ! what profit can we be to God ? Job xxxv. 6-8. God 
is above the injuries and benefits of the creature ; what miss had he 
of angels and men in those innumerable ages of duration that went 
before any created being ? And as it is against reason, so it is against 
all the declarations God hath made of himself to us : Ezek. xxxvi. 32, 
' Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord of hosts : be ashamed 
and confounded for your own ways.' So Titus iii. 4-6, ' But after that 
the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared, not 
by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his 
mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of 
the Holy Ghost ; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus 
Christ our Saviour.' In short, no worth in us, or righteousness of ours, 
is that merit and righteousness by virtue of which we are accepted 
with God. Our works and righteousness are not that condition by 
which we receive and apply this merit ; that is faith. No works or 
merit are a motive, or the first inducing cause to move God to give us 
that faith, but all is from his loving-kindness and readiness to do good 
to the creatures. Again, it is contrary to the practice of the saints 
and children of God, who, though never so holy and never so good, yet 
still they plead mercy, and this by direction from him who knoweth 
what plea is fittest for creatures to use to God, Luke xvii. 10. As it 
is not the merit of one part of the earth that it lieth nearer the sun 
than another, only the Creator would have it so, so still the scripture 
crieth down works and merits in the creature in all these gracious 
influences ; they all come from God's bowels of compassion to his 
creatures labouring under difficulties. He loveth to act as a free agent 
in giving, continuing, and actuating the life of his creatures, whether 
natural or spiritual. Yea, lastly, any other principle would be against 
our profit, as well as God's glory. Our profit, both as to duty and 
success, we should never carry it dutifully to God if we did not acknow 
ledge that all came from grace. Whence cometh impatience, mur- 
murings, contempt of things afforded, but from a secret opinion of our 
merit and deserving ? They that prescribe to God ascribe too much to 
themselves ; that prescribe to God for time, measure, and kind, are hasty, 
and murmur under delays and suspensions of grace. And as to suc 
cess, without this modest and humble claim, God rejecteth the request: 
1 For he resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble/ 1 Peter 


v. 5. Spiritual pride is the worst of all pride. The humble suppli 
cant may expect increase of grace which is denied to others : Ps. cxlvii. 
11, * The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that 
hope in his mercy.' Such as fear God, and serve him diligently, and 
yet put all their confidence in his mercy, these are those whom the 
Lord delights in, to keep communion with them, and pour out his 
blessings upon them. This is enough to show yotf it is a humble, 
modest plea. 

Secondly, It is a comfortable, encouraging argument ; which that it 
may appear to you, let us consider 

1. The nature of it. 

2. The kinds of it. 

3. The proofs and demonstrations of it. 

4. The end of if. 

1. The nature of it. The loving-kindness of God noteth his dispo 
sition to do good upon his own motives, or his self-inclination to do 
good to his creatures, especially to his people: 2 Sam. vii. 21, ' Ac 
cording to thine heart hast thou done this;' his native willingness to 
employ what goodness is in him for the good of his creatures. Now 
this doth much encourage poor sinners to draw nigh to God for such 
mercy as they stand in need of. Justice giveth what is due, but mercy 
what is needed ; justice seeks a fit object, mercy and loving-kindness 
a fit occasion. His justice will not hinder his mercy to be bountiful. 

2. The kinds of it. God's loving-kindness is twofold general and 

[1.] There is a general kindness and good- will from God as creator 
to all his creatures, especially to mankind. The effects and fruits of 
this general kindness flow in the channel of common providence. So 
it is said, Ps. cxlv. 9, ' The Lord is good to all, and his tender mer 
cies are over all his works.' God is good to all things, to all persons ; 
he bestoweth many common blessings upon the wicked, as natural life 
and being, health and wealth, &c. So Ps. cxlvii. 9, ' He giveth to the 
beasts his food, to the young ravens which cry.' To wicked men, Mat. 
v. 45. Common blessings do not always argue a good people, but they 
always argue a good God. God giveth the beasts their food in due 
season, Ps. civ. 27, 28. Now this is some ground of hope, and so im 
proved, Ps. cxlv. 15, 16. If he heareth the cries of the creatures, he 
will hear the prayers of the saints ; if a kite, much more a child. You 
see the Lord doth not cast off the care of any living creature which he 
hath made, but hath a constant eye of providence upon them, that 
their hunger may be satisfied, and they may have that sort of good 
which is fitting for them, and that in time and season, before they are 
spent with wants ; and will he not answer the longings and expecta 
tions and cries of his people, and pity their faintings, and give that 
grace which they so earnestly seek ? 

[2.] Over and above this common kindness, there is a more entire 
special love and kindness towards believers in Christ. This may be 
admired rather than expressed : Ps. xxxvi. 7, ' How excellent is thy 
loving-kindness, God 1 ' This is unto admiration, his common kind 
ness, his preservation of man and beast. This is the fruit of his eter 
nal love : Jer. xxxi. 3, ' With everlasting love have I loved thee, and 

VER. 149.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 91 

therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee;' and this is ex 
pressed in blessing them with special and saving benefits in Christ. 
The effects of his special kindness do all relate to life and godliness, 
and are conveyed to us through the conduit of Christ's merit and 
intercession, in and by whom he doth fulfil in us all the good pleasure 
of his goodness, 2 Thes. i. 11, 12. Now this special kindness must 
needs be a mighty encouragement to the saints to come to him (since 
he loveth them with such a free and special love) for all that mercy 
they stand in need of. The former speaketh the goodness of God to 
all his creatures ; this to themselves in particular ; both together a 
notable support ; yea, though we have not yet any experience of the 
goodness of God, yet since there is such a thing as self-inclination in 
God to do good to his people, and, besides this, a readiness to express 
his love to all his creatures, more especially to every one, without re 
spect of persons, that cometh to him : Ps. Ixxxvi. 5, ' For thou, Lord, 
art good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy to all them that 
call upon thee.' Take the cause, and you do not know what you may 
find. It may be your portion and lot. 

3. The proofs and demonstrations of this loving-kindness. 

[1.] He hath given evident proof and infallible demonstration of it 
in Christ : 1 John iv. 12, ' In this was manifested the love of God to 
wards us, because that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world 
that we might live through him.' The cause or first motive was love ; 
his means was the sending of Christ to be a propitiation ; his end, life 
spiritual and eternal. This is such a glorious instance and manifesta 
tion of the love of God, that poor creatures are encouraged to draw 
nigh to God for such mercy as they stand in need of. It is a hidden 
love ; here is a convincing proof and real demonstration by so glorious 
an effect and fruit of it. It was not a well-wishing love only, nor a 
love concealed, but manifested, and that by a signal proof. 

[2.] The instances of God's loving-kindness to others ; so that 
' according to thy loving-kindness,' will be according to that grace and 
mercy which thou art wont to show to others of thy servants. All 
that have had to do with God will assure you that he is a gracious God, 
full of kindness and mercy. There are examples of it, 1 Tim. i. 16 ; 
and Eph. ii. 7, ' That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding 
riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus/ 
Instances of God's loving-kindness towards others have a peculiar 
fitness and efficacy to convince us how exceedingly gracious God is, 
and so to draw us to the same fountain of grace for pardon and life 
to ourselves. These examples do more than the doctrinal declaration, 
because they do not only show that mercy and grace may be had, 
but that it hath been attained unto by those who in all respects did 
judge themselves, and were really unworthy of it, as unable to lay 
hold of it, and to make good use of it afterwards, as we ourselves. 
The ice is broken, the ford ridden before us ; therefore we may 
venture our salvation and acceptance with God upon the same 

[3.] His former love to ourselves. At first he took us with all our 
faults, and betrothed us unto himself, in loving-kindness and tender 
mercy, Hosea ii. 19 ; and therefore he will still do us good, freely 


and bountifully, and so we may answer all objections from God's 
wonted goodness towards us. When he hath entered into covenant 
with us out of his love and bounty, we may well expect that upon the 
same terms he should keep covenant. The continuance is more easily 
believed and asked than the beginning and first grant: Ps. xxxvi. 10, 
1 continue thy loving-kindness unto them that know thee, and thy 
righteousness to the upright in heart.' When by experience we have 
found what it can do for unworthy creatures, we may the better expect 
it should help us on all occasions. 

4. The end why God exerciseth it ; which is his glory, even the 
glory of his grace and loving-kindness ; that that might be acknow 
ledged and exemplified by those that are partakers of it even to be 
altogether glorious : Eph. i. 6, ' To the praise of his glorious grace, 
wherein he hath accepted us in the beloved ; ' that it may be owned 
and esteemed as free and liberal, and working of its own accord. We 
only cross God's end when we do not plead it, admire it, and esteem 
it highly, and improve it for our comfort ; for this is God's end in 
the whole business of our salvation from first to last, that men and 
angels might be excited to set forth the praises of his rich mercy and 
free grace. And here is a new encouragement to ask gracious supplies 
of God, according to his loving-kindness, or upon the account of that 
attribute, even that his grace may be more esteemed and exalted in 
our hearts : Ps. cix. 21, ' But do thou for me, God the Lord, for 
thy name's sake ; because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me.' It 
concerneth him in point of his chief honour and glory to do good to 
his people ; that he may be known, and owned to be a good and a 
gracious or loving God. 

Use. Well, then, if this be the great plea of the saints 
1. Let us meditate often of the loving-kindness of God, of his pitying, 
and pardoning, and lovingly entreating poor sinful and broken-hearted 
creatures Ihat^ come to him. This should be our daily meditation ; 
lonum cst primum et potentissimum nomen Dei, saith Damascene 
it is the first-born and chiefest name of God. We cannot conceive of 
God by anything that concerneth us so much as his goodness ; by 
that we know him, and for that we love him. We admire him with 
reverence for his other titles, but this doth first insinuate with us, 
and command our respect to him. The first temptation that ever was 
in the world was to weaken the conceit of his goodness in the heart of 
the creature ; as if God were envious, harsh, and sour in his restraints ; 
till it is a great temptation, yet ' God is good to Israel,' Ps. Ixxiii. 1. 
Oh ! let us fortify our hearts with frequent thoughts of his goodness 
and loving-kindness ! As we should do this every day, so especially 
upon the sabbath-day : Ps. xcii. 2, ' I will show forth thy loving- 
kindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night/ We should 
do tttis with all the advantage we can use, more especially when we 
are m his 'presence, conversing with him and ministering before him : 
1 s. xlvni. 9, ' We have thought of thy loving-kindness, God, in the 
midst of thy temple.' We should often and seriously think when we 
wme to God : Surely now we have to do with a loving and gracious 
uod, whether we wait upon him in prayer, or the word, or sacraments ; 
if any prayer to make or comfort to expect. 

VER. 149.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 93 

2. Observe the fruits and effects of it, and value them. They that 
are students in providence, shall not seek long before they find God 
to be a God full of loving-kindness and tender mercy : Ps. cvii. 43, 
' Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall under 
stand the loving-kindness of the Lord.' Few regard it, or look after 
it ; but they that do pry into the course of his dealings shall not be 
without many instances of God's love and free favour to them. Now, 
when you have found it out, value it : Ps. Ixiii. 3, * Because thy 
loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.' You 
shall have rich experiences, such as will fill you with joy unspeakable 
and glorious, to be esteemed above all comforts whatsoever. 

3. Praise God for it. This should be a lively motive to praise him : 
Ps. cxxxviii. 2, ' I will worship towards thy temple, and praise thy 
name for thy loving-kindness and for thy truth/ These two are the 
cause of all we have ; it is without any deserving of ours, only because 
we have to do with a gracious and faithful God : 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 on us, and the great 
goodness towards the house of Israel which he hath bestowed on them, 
according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his loving- 
kindness.' The prophet speaketh as if he could never find words 
enough, or pregnant enough, to express his sense of God's gracious 
dealing, so bountifully had he dealt with his people. 

4. Let us improve this loving-kindness and readiness of God's mercy 
to help penitent supplicants. 

[1.] In a way of trust, the least degree of which is enough to keep 
the sinner from running away from him ; how grievous soever his 
offences and demerits be, yet come to him ; say, as David, Ps. li. 1, 
' Have mercy upon me, God, according to thy loving-kindness ; 
according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my 
transgressions.' Yea, make it a ground of confidence and support : 
Ps. Ixix. 16, ' Hear me, Lord, for thy loving-kindness is good ; turn 
unto me, according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.' 

[2.] In a way of fear, that we may not interrupt the sense of it, or 
stop the current of his good-will : Ps. xxvi. 3, ' Thy loving-kindness 
is before mine eyes, and I have walked in thy truth/ It is the ground 
of all our confidence ; lose not that : the Lord taketh notice of them, 
that trust in his goodness : Nahum i. 7, ' The Lord is good, a strong 
hold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him/ 

There is one word yet undiscussed, 'According to thy judgment/ 
Some by judgment understand wisdom and prudence. The word wili 
sometimes bear that sense : Micah iii. 8, ' But truly I am full of 
power by the Spirit of the Lord and of judgment,' &c. ; as we say 
a man of judgment, for an understanding person. In this sense, 
' According to thy judgment/ will be, as thou thinkest fit ; but surely 
'judgment ' here is to be understood in the notion of his covenant, or 
the rule according to which he judgeth of men, for it is one of the terms 
by which the word is expressed. ' J udgment ' is sometimes put for 
the covenant of works, or his strict remunerative justice. David 
cleclineth it under this notion: Ps. cxliii. 2, ' Enter not into judgment 
with thy servant, Lord.' And this is called by the apostle, 


'judgment without mercy/ James ii. 13. Sometimes for the covenant 
of grace, and free promises of God, or that merciful right which he 
hath established between him and his people, wherein God acteth as 
an absolving and pardoning judge. Of this, see ver. 132. And of 
this the prophet speaketh, Isa. i. 27, ' Zion shall be redeemed with 
judgment ; ' that is, by his mercy promised according to his judgment. 
David desireth to be quickened. From thence observe 

Doct. 3. That God's mercy and loving-kindness, manifested and 
impledged in the promises of the gospel, doth notably encourage us to 
ask help from him. 

You have heard what encouragement we have by the loving-kindness 
of God ; now what we have over and above that by his judgment. 

First, Quickening and enlivening grace is promised in the new 

1. In general, from the general undertaking of the covenant. The 
covenant of grace differeth from all other covenants in the world, be 
cause everything that is required therein is also promised ; and there 
fore it is called, ' The promise/ Gal. iii. 18, because God hath promised 
Jboth the reward and the condition faith and perseverance therein, as 
well as righteousness, pardon, and life ; the new heart to bring us into 
the covenant, and the continual assistance of grace to keep us in that 
covenant. And so it differs from the usual covenants that pass be 
tween man and man. Among men, each party undertaketh for and 
looketh after his own part of the covenant ; but leaveth the other to 
look to his duty and his part of the engagement. But here the duties 
required of us are undertaken for by him that requireth them. No 
man filleth his neighbour's hand with anything to pay his rent to 
him, or enableth him to do what he ha,th covenanted to do ; but God 
filleth our hand with a stock, yea more than a stock, of habitual grace, 
with actual influences, to draw forth habits into act ; and doth with 
strength so far enable us to perform every commanded duty, that in 
the performance thereof we may be accepted. Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27, 
God owneth there not only the principles of acting, but also the excite 
ment of these principles ; yea, the very act itself. He hath under 
taken to infuse the principle, and stir up the acts and exercise of it : 
' I will cause you to walk in my statutes/ So Jer. xxxii. 39, 40, 
' And I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me 
for ever, for the good of them and of their children after them, and I 
will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn 
away from them, to do them good, but I will put my fear in their 
hearts that they shall not depart from me/ Besides converting grace, 
superadded influences. It differeth from the covenant of works, that 
had more of a law, and less of a promise : there was a promise of re 
ward to the obeyer, but no promise of giving obedience. God indeed 
gave Adam a stock of habitual grace, but no promise of assisting grace. 
There man was to keep the covenant ; here, in effect, the covenant 
keepeth us, Jer. xxxii. 40. And indeed therein lieth the exceeding 
graciousness of the covenant of grace, that God undertaketh for both 
parties, and worketh in his people all that is required for entering 
into and keeping this covenant with him. 

In particular, this part of actual influence, which is more espe- 

VER. 149.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 95 

cially called quickening, is promised in the covenant of grace ; for the 
covenant concerneth mainly the life of grace, the care of which he hath 
taken into his own hands, not to lay it down till it be perfected in the 
life of glory ; and therefore alloweth his children to repair to him 
when their life is any way enfeebled or decayed : so that besides that 
the general undertaking of his covenant will warrant such a plea, his 
particular promises of preserving and restoring our life will embolden 
us to ask quickening ; for with respect to his judgment or covenant 
engagement, God is called, ' The God of our life/ Ps. xlii. 8, and * The 
strength of our life/ Ps. xxvii. 1. The care of life, bodily, spiritual, 
and everlasting, lieth upon him ; by virtue of the covenant he hath 
undertaken to keep it, feed it, renew it in all the decays of it, till we 
be possessed of the life of glory. 

Secondly, The advantage we have from this promise. We have a 
double argument, not only from God's mercy, but his truth; both 
which do assure us that God is not only easy to be entreated, but 
bound and tied by his own free condescension. His loving-kindness 
showeth that he may do it for us ; his judgment, that in some part he 
will do it. He is not only inclined, but obliged, which is a new ground 
of hope. His promise in the new covenant inferreth a debt of favour, 
though not of justice ; when God hath bound himself by promise, both 
his mercy and fidelity are concerned to do us good. We have not 
only the freeness of God's love to encourage us, but the certainty of 
his help engaged in the promise. God inviteth men to him by his 
grace, and engageth his truth to do them good. The nature of God 
is one encouragement, he is wonderful ready to do good ; but in his 
covenant he hath established a right to believers to seek his mercy, so 
that all is made more sure and comfortable to us. 

Use. To encourage the people of God, when they miss his help in 
the spiritual life, to lay open their case to God. The thought of strict 
justice striketh us dumb, there is no claiming by that covenant ; but 
the remembrance of this merciful right or judgment should open our 
mouths in prayer, and loosen our tongues in acquainting God with our 
case : Lord, I want that life and quickening which thy promises seem 
to speak of. You may do it with the more confidence for these 
reasons : 

1. Consider the tenor of this judgment, or the terms thereof, the 
mildness of the court in which you plead; it is not a covenant of 
justice, but of favour ; in it grace taketh the throne, not justice ; the 
judge is Christ ; the law according to which judgment is given is the 
gospel ; our plea is grace, not merit ; the persons allowed to plead are 
penitent sinners ; yea, they are not only allowed to plead for them 
selves, but they have an advocate to plead for them : the very judge is 
their advocate ! Oh ! let us hold God to this latter covenant, and 
judgment of grace, mercy, and goodness : Lord, upon these terms we 
dare come unto thee. 

2. Consider the blessing offered in this covenant: Heb. iv. 16, 
' Mercy and grace to help.' It offereth mercy for pardon of sins, a 
blessing which the law knew not ; and grace to help, that is for our 
purpose. It is a covenant which alloweth you expenses to run the 
way of God's commandments, gives you straw to make your brick, 


filleth your hand to pay the master's rent. It is not a hard master, to 
reap where it soweth not, but will cause you to walk and run whither 
it sends you. 

3. Consider, there is nothing in God contrary to us, or standeth in 
our way, for it is all removed by this judgment or covenant. If any 
thing, it is the justice of God; but that doth not stand in our way, 
being satisfied by Christ. 

[1.] If you take justice, as it implieth his remunerative and vindic 
tive justice, we have the merit of Christ to plead: there is a ransom 
paid by him, to whom the sinner is fled for refuge. So that God may 
do us good without any blemish or imputation of defect to his right 
eousness and justice against sin, Kom. iii. 24, 25 ; 1 John i. 0. 

[2.] As righteousness implieth the rectitude of his nature : ' In thy 
faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness,' Ps. cxliii. 1. These 
things, that terrify others, comfort the godly ; the righteousness and 
truth of God are their support. His veracity is a part of his right 
eousness, as it becometh every just man to make good his promises. 


They draw nigli that follow after mischief: they are far from 
thy law. VER. 150. 

HERE in this verse he giveth an account what was the cause of his 
frequent and earnest crying unto God, of his hope, meditation, begging 
for quickening ; because he was ready to be destroyed by those who 
every day went off further and further from God's law ; they were 
ready to accomplish their wicked and malicious purpose upon him, 
and prepared for it, and even now at his heels to do him harm and 
mischief: ' They draw nigh,' &c. 
In the words we have 

1. An intimation of approaching danger, they draw nigh that follow 
offer mischief. 

2. A description of those from whom the danger was feared, they 
are far from thy law. 

First, ' They draw nigh/ &c. The enemy is at hand, even at the 
doors ; the prophet speaketh as if he did hear the sound of his feet, 
yet they are as far from thy law as near to destroy me. 

Doct, Extreme danger may sometimes draw nigh unto, and even 
tread upon the heels of God's people. 


n n F m m the im P laca kle malice of their enemies. 

They seek the destruction of the people of God, nothing less 

|11 content them; this is implied in the word mischief m the text: TO 

M wai, Ps. kxxiii. 4, 'Come let us cut them off from being a nation, 

e name of Israel may no more be in remembrance.' That is 

"icir ini, that not one of that denomination be left : Ps. cxxxvii. 7 

se, rase it, even to the foundation thereof/ Nothing will satisfv 

VER. 150.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 97 

them but utter ruin and extirpation : they that expect milder terms 
from the seed of the serpent, flatter themselves with a vain hope. 

[2.] They follow this end with all industry and diligence ; this is 
implied in the phrase that follow after mischief. They watch all 
occasions, pursue every advantage to bring their purpose to pass. 
Some in scripture are said to follow after righteousness, Isa. li. 1. 
It noteth their constant trade and study. It may be rendered pur 
suers of righteousness, as in the text, pursuers of mischief. They that 
follow after righteousness are such as continue constant in the serious 
and sedulous practice of holiness ; and they that follow after mischief 
are such as are unwearied in the prosecution of their malicious 
designs. It implieth a metaphor taken from the vehemency of hunts 
men in the pursuit of their foe or prey. So Prov. xxi. 21, 'He that 
followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life ; ' and Heb. xii. 14, 
Stftwere ryv elprjvrjv, ' Follow peace and holiness ; ' as Asahel pursued 
Abner, 2 Sam. ii. 19, 'And turned not to the right hand or to the left 
from following after Abner.' The Septuagint renders here KaraSiu)- 
Kovres jjLe avofjiia, ' They earnestly seek to undo me/ 

2. From the providence of God, who permitteth malicious enemies 
to draw nigh to his people, and to have many advantages against his 
people for holy and righteous ends. 

[1.] That this is the usual course of God's providence, to suffer his 
people to be reduced to great dangers and extremities, that there is not 
a hair-breadth between them and ruin. Paul was in the very mouth 
of the lion, 2 Tim. iv. 17, before God delivered him ; by the lion he 
meaneth Nero, a bitter enemy to the Christians, and the lamb was 
brought bound to him: the prey was in the lion's mouth before 
God delivered him, 2 Cor. i. 10, compared with 1 Cor. xv. 32, and 
both with Acts. xiv. 19 : I gave my self for dead ; it was a thousand 
to one he had not been sacrificed to the fury of the multitude. So 
was David often near taking dangers, which he did or could hardly 
escape : Ps. liv., the title, * When the Ziphims discovered him to 
Saul.' So Ps. Ivii., the title, ' When he fled from Saul in the cave ; ' 
the army of Saul at the mouth of the cave, and Saul cometh into it, 
and yet God blinded him so that he escaped. So the church : Ps. 
cxxiv. 1-3, ' If it had not been the Lord that was on our side, now 
may Israel say, if it had not been the Lord who was on our side when 
men rose up against us, then they had swallowed us up quick when 
their wrath was kindled against us.' They were in the midst of their 

[2.] Why is this his usual course ? 

(1.) To exercise their trust and dependence. Graces are seldom 
exercised to the life till we are near the point of death. Now rather 
than God will suffer his people to live by sense, without manifesting 
grace, and bringing honour to their profession and the truth of his 
promises, he will cast them into great dangers. The skill of a pilot 
is seen in a storm, so is faith put to it in great conflicts ; as it is in 
cares, so in fears : many are reduced to great straits in the family, 
no meal in the barrel, no oil in the cruse : John vi. 4-6, ' When Jesus 
then lift up his eyes and saw a great multitude come unto him, he 
saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat ? 



And this he said to prove him, for he himself knew what he would 
do.' A poor believer is put to it : children increase, trading seemeth 
dead ; what shall we do ? When danger is danger indeed, then is a 
believer tried and exercised : 2 Cor. i. 9, ' But we had the sentence of 
death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God 
which raiseth the dead.' We are much given to self-confidence; 
while our mountain standeth strong, and we are entrenched within 
the security of worldly advantages and props, we scarce know what 
faith and dependence upon God mean. Now, saith God, I will make 
you trust in me ere I have done, and to live alone upon my all- 
sufficiency : you may think your reputation will bear you out, but I 
will load you with censures that you may trust in me; you think 
friends shall help you, but friend and lover shall be afar off ; you 
think to shelter *y ourselves under common refuges, but they shall all 
fail and cease, that I may see whether you trust in me ; or that the 
common justice and equity of your cause shall bear you out, but I 
will send against you those that are maliciously resolved (contrary to 
all justice and gratitude), that shall approach and endeavour to mis 
chief you. Who would think that Paul should be in danger of self- 
confidence, a man so exercised as he was, so tossed to and fro, so often 
whipped, scourged, exposed to danger ? Alas ! we can hardly see 
with other eyes than nature hath, or depend upon invisible help ; we 
look at present things, and laugh at danger upon the confidence of 
outward probabilities. If we can get a carnal pillow and bolster under 
our heads, we sleep and dream many a golden dream of ease and 
safety. Now God, that is jealous of our trust, will not let us alone, 
and therefore will put us upon sharp trials. It is not faith but sense 
we live upon before : that is faith if we can depend upon God when 
they draw near that follow after mischief : Ps. iii. 6, ' I will not be 
afraid of ten thousands of the people that set themselves against me 
round about.' A danger at a distance is but imagined ; it worketh 
otherwise when it is at hand : Christ himself had other thoughts of 
approaching danger than danger at a distance : John xii. 27, * Now is 
my soul troubled ; ' this vessel of pure water was shaken, though he 
discovered no dregs. 

(2.) To quicken to prayer. Jonah, that slept in the ship, falls 
a-praying in the whale's belly. A drowsy soul is awakened in case of 
extreme danger: Ps. cxxx. 1, 'Out of the depths have I cried unto 
thee.' Now an ordinary prayer will not serve the turn ; not to speak 
a prayer, but to cry a prayer : we do but act devotion before, and 
personate the part of the supplicant ; then we exercise it. Now rather 
than God's children shall neglect prayer, he exposeth them to great 
hazards: Mat. viii. 25, 'Master, carest thou not that we perish?' 
What careless, dead, and drowsy prayers do we perform when all 
things go on fairly, and we are well at ease ! Moses cried when 
Israel was at a loss, Exod. xiv. 15, the sea before, the Egyptians be 
hind ready to tread upon their heels, mountains on each side. 

(3.) That the deliverance of his people may be more glorious; 
partly because there is more of his power and care discovered when 
our straits are great : ' Israel may now say, We had been swallowed up 
quick, Ps. cxxiv. Kescuesin extremity of dangers are more glorious : 

YER. 150.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 99 

Ps. cxviii. 13, ' Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall, but the 
Lord helped me/ So Ps. xxvii. 2, ' When the wicked, even mine 
enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled 
and fell.' In great clangers to be overtaken by his enemies. God 
doth some way suffer his people to be brought near destruction, but 
he doth always prove their friend and helper. David's strength and 
courage was seen in that he plucked a lamb out of the lion's mouth, 
1 Sam. xvii. 34, 35. And partly because these great straits and 
troubles are a means to open our eyes, and waken our stupid^ senses. 
Deliverance is all one to God, whether from great exigencies or in ordi 
nary cases, but is more endeared by extremity of danger. It is as easy 
to save a hundred or a thousand, but it maketh a fuller sound : we are 
more sensible of our weakness to help ourselves, to be sure, without his 

Use 1. Be not offended if God cast you into great dangers ; it is no 
argument of God's hatred to destroy you, but of his love to try you, 
and to prepare you for the greater comfort, that we may have a more 
glorious sight of his salvation. Many, after confidence expressed, have 
been put to great trials. The three children were delivered, but put 
into the fire first, and the furnace made seven times hotter. Paul's 
company suffered shipwreck before the promise of their safety could 
be fulfilled. Moses and the Israelites were delivered, yet pursued and 
shut up, the Egyptians behind, and the seas before, and steep moun 
tains on each side : Ps. cxviii. 18, ' The Lord hath chastened me sore, 
but he hath not given me over to death.' Things at the worst begin 
to change ; though it come to such a desperate pass as it must be 
speedy help or speedy ruin, such exigencies do mightily conduce to the 
glory of God, and the bettering of his people. Whatever weakeneth 
our confidence, the greatness of danger should not, for in such cases 
God is there. 

Use 2. Let us use the more prayer ; it is a time to put promises in 
suit : 2 Chron. xx. 12, ' our God, wilt thou not judge them ? for we 
have no might against this great company that cometh against us, 
neither know we what to do ; but our eyes are unto thee.' The fittest 
season to treat with God about help ; for when the creatures are at a 
loss, that is the time for God to help. When danger is near, call upon 
God for help, acquaint him with it, it is time for him to be near also. 
Ver. 151 of this psalm, ' Thou art near, Lord.' The less help of 
man's mercy, the more hope of God's help. 

Use 3. The greater the danger, the more thankfully should we 
acknowledge the deliverance. The woman of Sarepta, when her son 
was restorqd to life, 1 Kings from the 17th verse to the end, said, ' By 
this I know thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in 
thy mouth is truth.' So ' Israel may now say, If the Lord had not 
been on our side, men had swallowed us quick.' 

Secondly, A description of those from whom this danger was feared, 
1 They are far from thy law ;' that is, they do not regard it. This 
clause may be added 

1. To amplify or aggravate the danger. As if he had said. Lord, 
having oppressed them, they contemn thy law, and all restraints of 
conscience and duty. The farther the enemies of the godly are from 


God's law, the nearer to do mischief. So Ps. liv. 3, ' Oppressors seek 
after my soul ; they have not set God before them/ So Ps. Ixxxvi. 1, 
' Violent men have sought after my soul, they have not set thee before 
them.' They are likely to be cruel, because profane. When the fear 
of God is laid aside, and all respect to his word, there is nothing to be 
expected but the worst of evils. They mind not thy law, therefore 
care not what mischief they do me. 

2. To increase his confidence of help ; for God will not favour a 
corrupt party : Ps. cxxxix. 19, ' Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O 
God ;' Ps. xciv. 10, * The throne of wickedness hath no fellowship with 

Doct. The iniquity of persecutors is some matter of confidence to 
the oppressed ; asJDavid, from those that drew near to mischief him, 
conceiveth some encouragement because they were far from God's law. 
There are several considerations : 

1. Usually the servants of God have been most hated and troubled 
by the worst of men ; so it usually falls out that the worst and most 
virulent enemies of religion are those that are infamous for other crimes. 
They have the greatest pique against them because they cannot endure 
the righteousness of God's image on them : Ps. xxxviii. 20. ' They are 
my adversaries, because I follow the thing that good is.' So John vii. 
7, ' The world cannot hate you, but me it hateth, because I testify of 
it that the works thereof are evil.' 

2. You may take notice of this wickedness, and represent it so to 
God ; for he is the judge of the world, and it concerneth him to cut 
short their power to do mischief that have such a ready principle to 
act it, and are likely to have no other restraints than God layeth upon 
them by his providence and the interest of their affairs. But of this 
before, about aggravating the danger. 

3. When we do so, be sure the thing be true, that they are not only 
injurious to us, but open enemies to God and godliness, before we 
speak thus of those that hate us, or work any trouble to us in the 
world. As long as the cause will admit of a favourable construction, 
we should take heed of such suggestions. I observe this the rather, 
because man is so partial to himself, that whosoever are enemies to 
him, he presently thinketh they are enemies to godliness ; and there 
fore, when we pass our judgment on any person and cause, it had need 

3 conformed to truth; for otherwise it argueth great irreverence 
towards God to make him conscious to our revenges and private 
passions, Ps. cxxxix. 21-24. We had need try our cause, when God's 
quarrel and our interest are joined, that there be not some dregs of 
private spleen and rash censurings mixed therewith, and that passion 

>tn not rule us, but duty, in these complaints, and that it is not our 
own interest, but God's quarrel, they being open enemies to him. And 
therefore we must be confident that such as we pray against are in a 
wicked condition, and engaged in an evil course. 

When this is clear, there is some comfort and confidence in the 
badness of our enemies. 

Because God and we are engaged in a common cause, for our 

nes are against God as well as against us. Now it is better 

e afflicted by them than to have fellowship with the unfruitful 

VER. 151.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 101 

works of darkness, or to cry up a confederacy with them that cry up a 
confederacy against God, Ps. cxxxix. 22. 

[2.] It is a great satisfaction to us to be opposed by evil men, or 
common enemies of the power of godliness. Certainly it would be 
more grievous to us to be oppressed by them that have a show of 
godliness than the openly profane, Ps. Iv. 12, 13. The worst that a 
professed enemy can do is more tolerable than the injury of a friend. 
It importeth a dishonour to be opposed by the good, as having an ill 
cause in hand, or unworthy to be assisted ; but it helpeth to make the 
cause more clear when we see what kind of persons we have to do 
withal, such as we cannot but count wicked, because they have no 
regard to God's law. Our cause would not be so clear if it were with 
them that fear God. 

[3.] The more wicked they are, the more ripe for judgment ; espe 
cially if they be a corrupt Darty in the visible church ; for where we 
perceive wickedness to reign, there we may be sure destruction will 

Use. Well, then, whenever this falleth out, mind God of it, and be 
not discouraged. An ill cause will not always prevail. Only let us 
be prepared for deliverance, as they are ripe for destruction, otherwise 
none so bad but good enough to make a rod to scourge God's children. 
And then have patience ; such are our enemies as are God's also ; they 
are far from obedience to God's law. 


Thou art near, Lord; and all tliy commandments are truth. 

VER. 151. 

IN the former verse, the enemies are represented as near, and near to 
do mischief, but far from the law of God. Here in the text there is 
somewhat put in opposition to both. 

1. For their nearness to do mischief, God is near to help. 

2. They are far off from the law. The man of God asserteth that 
God's commandments are truth. All their contempt of the law did 
not abate and lessen his esteem of it. So that the sum of the verse is, 
that the enemies cannot be so ready to hurt as God is to help and 
deliver ; they cannot go about to defeat promises as God will go about 
to fulfil them. Mark, he compareth the readiness of wicked men to 
hurt with the readiness of God, their contempt of the word with the 
truth of the word, or God's justification of it. In short, in the verse 
we may observe two branches : 

1. Something spoken of God. 

2. Something of his law. 

1. That which is spoken of God is, that he is near, a present help 
to those that persist in the obedience of his will ; for nearness doth not 
only import his favour, or inclination to help them, but that he will 
not delay his help too long ; his help is at hand, therefore called * A 
present help in trouble,' Ps. xlvi. 1, and 'The Lord is at my right hand/ 


Ps. xvi. 8 ; ready as our second in all conflicts to stand by us, support, 
and comfort us in our troubles, yea, to deliver us ; that is the notion of 
nearness in the text. Near as the enemies are near, only he is near to 
defend as they are near to destroy. When to appearance danger is 
nearest, at the same time help and salvation is nearest also, and this 
doth allay all our cares and fears : Phil. iv. 5, 6, ' The Lord is at 
hand, therefore be careful for nothing.' Still present by his provi 
dence, or hastening his second coming: Kev. xxii. 20, 'I come quickly/ 
I rather quote that place, for the Septuagint hath it here eyyvs el, Kvpie, 
there o tcvpios 771)9, therefore he bids us be careful for nothing; 
certainly the belief of God's nearness should encourage us. 

2. That which is said of his word and law is, ' Thy commandments 
are truth.' One would think it had been more proper to say, are just 
and righteous, than to say are truth. His commandments are just as 
the rule of our duty, they are just as the rule of God's process; but 
the word commandment is not taken strictly for the mandatory part of 
the word, but it is put for the whole covenant, his precepts invested 
with promises and threatenings. The commandments thus considered, 
with the promises and threatenings annexed, are true. Yea, mark the 
emphasis of the phrase, truth itself. The happiness promised to them 
that make conscience of their duty will be made good ; and so the 
punishments on them that offend God will be inflicted. Now the 
joining of these two clauses seemeth to speak thus much : I know that 
thou art near me, because thy word is truth. God in his providence 
seemeth to be absent sometimes from his people, but upon the assur 
ance of his word we must believe him near. I say, God seemeth to be 
far off from his people, for who would think that the God of peace and 
all comfort should dwell with them that are broken in spirit ? Isa. 
Ivii. 15, ' For thus saith the high and holy One that inhabiteth eternity, 
whose name is Holy ; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him 
also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the 
humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.' Or that the 
author of all felicity should be present with them that are harassed 
and exercised with such sharp afflictions, and hunted up and down in 
the world, but because God hath promised it : Isa. xliii. 2, ' When 
thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee ; and through the 
rivers, they shall not overflow thee : when thou walkest through the 
fire, thou shalt not be burnt ; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee/ 
We should be satisfied with it ; his word is truth : whatever sense and 
reason saith to the contrary, neither distance of place nor afflictedness 
>f condition do hinder his nearness to us. 

Quitting all other points, I shall only insist on this one. 

JJoct. 1 hat it is the privilege and happiness of God's children to have 
God near unto them upon all occasions. 

My great business will be to explain what this nearness is, and then 
you will soon find it to be the great happiness and privilege of the saints. 

1. What is this nearness ? 

2. How is it brought about ? 
First, What is this nearness ? 

God is not said to be nearer to them than others in regard of his 
sence, for so he is everywhere present, nulliU indusus, nulUbi ex- 

VER. 151.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 103 

dusus. So a heathen described God to be a great circle, whose centre 
is nowhere, and circumference everywhere ; and in the prophet he 
telleth us, Jer. xxiii. 23, 24, ' Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, 
and not a God afar off ? do not I fill heaven and earth ? can any hide 
him in secret places that I shall not see him ? saith the Lord.' He 
filleth all things with his essential presence ; he is in earth, in heaven, 
and under the earth : Ps. cxxxix. 7, 8, ' Whither shall I go from thy 
Spirit ? and whither shall I flee from thy presence ? If I ascend up 
into heaven, thou art there ; if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art 
there : if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost 
parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand 
shall hold me.' God is here, and there, and everywhere ; the heavens 
do not confine and enclose his being, nor the tumults of the earth ex 
clude it : in this sense God is alike near to all things. They that 
cannot endure the presence and thought of God, where will they go 
from him ? They may run away from God as a friend, but they cannot 
escape him as an enemy. Te non amittit nisi qui dimittit, et qui te 
dimittit, quo fugit, nisi a te placato ad te iratum ? Men may shut 
God out of their hearts, and yet he is there, do what they can, and will 
be found there one day in the dreadful effects of his anger. 

2. Not in regard of his general providence and common sustentation ; 
for so ov fjia/cpav, ' He is not far from every one of us ; for in him we 
live, and move, and have our being,' Acts xvii. 27, 28. This general 
presence and providential sustentation is vouchsafed to all his crea 
tures, without which they could not subsist, nor move, nor act ; so all 
things are enclosed under the hand of his power, and are still under 
his disposing. 

3. It is meant of his friendly and gracious presence, and those 
eminent and gracious effects of his power and goodness which he is 
pleased to afford his people. So God is sometimes said to be nigh 
unto his people, and they are said to be a people near unto him. The 
Lord is said to be near unto them : Ps. xxxiv. 18, ' The Lord is nigh 
unto them that are of a broken heart ; ' and again, Ps. cxlv. 18, ' The 
Lord is nigh untv/ all them that call upon him, and to all that call upon 
him in truth ; ' Deut. iv. 7, ' What nation is so great ? who hath God 
so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call 
upon him for ? ' The Lord is said to be nigh, because he is always 
ready to hear their prayers, and to direct them in their doubts, comfort 
them in their sorrows, defend and protect them in all their dangers, 
and deliver them in all their troubles. On the other side, they are 
said to be a people near unto God : Ps. cxlviii. 14, ' He also exalteth 
the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints, even of the children 
of Israel, a people near unto him.' Because they are the special objects 
of his mercy and favour. And as to the actual intercourse that passeth 
between God and them, God is said to draw nigh to them, as they 
are said to draw nigh to God : James iv. 8, ' Draw nigh to God, and 
he will draw nigh to you ; ' and so drawing nigh to us on God's 
part signifieth grace and blessing ; and drawing nigh on our part, 
our duty, love, fear, delight, and reverence of God. Well, then, it is 
meant of his friendly gracious presence vouchsafed to his people. 

4. This nearness may be understood of his visible presence in his 


ordinances, or of that spiritual inwardness and saving union and com 
munion that is between God and his converted people, or those that 
are brought home to him by Christ, and are the members of his mys 
tical body. In some sense it is the privilege of the visible church to 
have God near them, because they have the signs of his presence 
among them ; as in the former place, Deut. iv. 7, ' What nation hath 
God so nigh unto them ? ' It was the common privilege of the nation, 
in comparison of the pagans about them, who were a people afar off, 
and strangers to the covenants of promise. So Jer. xiv. 9, ' Thou, 
Lord God, art in the midst of us, and we are called by thy name ; 
leave us not.' Thus God is said to be nigh because he dwelleth in the 
churches and walketh in the midst of them ; but those that are con 
verted indeed are in a straiter union with God. All those that are 
members of the visible church, and are united to Christ by a visible 
and political union, they have great privileges, for they are a society 
under God's special care and government, and enjoy the means of 
grace and the oifers of salvation, and great helps by the gifts bestowed 
upon the body, and so have God nearer to them than others, though 
they have not the saving fruits of union with Christ and communion 
with God. Once more, a people that are nigh unto God visibly and 
politically may be cast off; as Jer. xiii. 11, 'For as a girdle cleaveth 
to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole 
house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the Lord ; that 
they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, 
and for a glory ; but they would not hear ; ' ' yet I will cast them away 
as a rotten girdle that is good for nothing/ ver. 10. These words are 
the application of a charge given to Jeremiah, to get him a girdle, and 
hide it till it was rotten, and then to bring it forth and tell the people 
the meaning of this ceremony. He was to get a girdle, not leathern, 
nor woollen, such as were commonly worn by the ordinary sort ; but a 
linen girdle, such as the better sort of persons were wont to wear. He 
was not to wet it, or put it in water, to imply that neither God nor 
aught from him had been the cause of the general corruption and 
destruction of this people ; but to hide it in a dry place near Euphrates 
till it was corrupted. Thus God would lay visibly before their eyes 
their own state ; they were as near about him, girded as close to him, 
as a girdle about a man's loins, yet then good for nothing. But for 
those to whom God is near by saving benefits they cannot be lost, for 
where the nearness is really begun, it will continue, and never be 
broken off. You may as well separate the leaven and the dough, im- 
possibile est massam a pasta separare, &c. 

5. In those that are living members of Christ's mystical body we 
must distinguish between a state of nearness and acts of nearness. By 
converting grace we are brought into a state of nearness unto God, 
and in worship we actually draw nigh unto him, and he to us. The 
state of neatness is the state of favour and reconciliation with God into 
which we are admitted who were before strangers and enemies : Col. 
L 21, 'And you, that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your 
mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled/ And also our 
participation of the divine nature : 2 Peter i. 4, ' Whereby are given 
unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these you 

VER. 151.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 105 

might be partakers of the divine nature ; having escaped the corrup 
tion that is in the world through lust ; ' or life of God, from which we 
were formerly alienated by sin : Eph. iv. 18, ( Having their under 
standings darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the 
ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.' 
Eor these three do always go together, the favour of God, the image of 
God, and fellowship with God. When Adam lost one, he lost all: 
when he lost the image of God, he also lost the favour of God, or fel 
lowship with God, or nearness to him. So then our state of nearness 
lieth in the recovery of the favour of God, and the image or life of 
God, when we stand right in his grace, and live his life : they are both 
great mercies, and both the ground of our fellowship with God, or 
nearness to him. Christians ! think with yourselves. Is it not a 
great privilege for poor sinful creatures, that could not think of God 
without horror, or hear him named without trembling, or pray to him 
without great dejection of heart, to look upon God as reconciled, and 
willing to receive us and bless us ! 'So for the life of God, to have a 
life begun in us by the Spirit of God, and maintained by the continual 
influences of his grace, till all be perfected in glory, what a privilege 
is this ! None but they that live this life can have communion with 
God. Things cannot converse that do not live the same life ; as 
Adam had no companion or help-meet, but was alone, though all the 
creatures came and subjected themselves to him, trees, beasts, men, 
&c. : Genrii. 18, 'And the Lord said, It is riot good for man to be 
alone ; I will make him an help-meet for him.' But besides this state 
of nearness, there are special acts of nearness, both on God's part and 
ours ; he is nearer to us sometimes than at others, when we have more 
evidences of his favour inward or outward : inward evidences, when he 
quickens, comforts, supports the soul, filleth the heart with joy and 
peace in believing ; at such a time God is near, we feel him sensibly 
exciting and stirring up his own work in us. The soul always dwelleth 
in the body, but it doth not always act alike ; it is ever equal in point 
of habitation, but not in point of operation. So Christ doth always 
dwell in the heart by his Spirit, but he doth not always act alike, but 
/car evSo/clav, 'according to his good pleasure/ Phil. ii. 13. God is 
not alike always present with his people, but never withdraweth that 
influence that is necessary to the being of grace : Ps. Ixxiii. 23, 
1 Nevertheless I am continually with thee : thou hast holden me by 
my right hand.' So outwardly ; sometimes God hideth himself, some 
times seemeth not to mind the affairs of his people, at other times all 
the world shall know that they are near and dear to him : he that 
toucheth them toucheth the apple of his eye : those that will riot see, 
shall see and be ashamed for their envy at his people, Isa. xxvi. 11. 
So on our part there is a standing relation between us and God, but 
our hearts are more or less towards him in worship ; we especially 
then draw near unto him, though there be a communion in walking 
with God in our whole course. These things must be distinguished, 
for actual intercourse may be interrupted or suspended, when our state 
of nearness to God ceaseth not. 

6. The grounds and reasons of all nearness, or the way how it cometh 
about, are these four : 


1.1 God's covenant with Us. 

2/ Our incorporation into Christ. 

'3.1 The inhabitation of the Spirit in us. 

'4.' Mutual love between God and us. These are the reasons why 
God is near us, and we a people near unto God. 

[1.] His covenant with us, or confederation in the covenant. God 
promiseth to be our God, and we to be his people: Jer. xxxii. 38, 
* And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.' As those 
two kings made a league offensive and defensive, 1 Kings xxii. 4, ' I 
am as thou art, and my people as thy people, and my horses as thy 
horses ; ' so God will be ours as really as we are his ; you shall have a 
propriety in God, as God has in you ; not absolutely indeed the same, 
but enough for your comfort. You were his before the contract, and 
to be at his comnland ; but he is not at your command : you may sup 
plicate and humbly sue out the effects of your right in God, and may 
be sure of speeding, when it is for his glory and your good. We have 
a right to God, and all that is in God, but not a right over him, as he 
hath over us. We have propriety and interest in God, but not domin 
ion, as we have over the creatures, or as God hath over us. He will 
let out his goodness, grace, and mercy to us and for us. God still 
keepeth the rank of a sovereign, and yet treateth us as friends : James 

11. 23, ' Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him for right 
eousness, and he was called the friend of God/ Yea, children : John i. 

12, ' But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become 
the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.' When we 
give up ourselves to God to serve him, we enter ourselves heirs to all 
the privileges of the gospel, and may lay claim to them. 

[2.] By union with Christ ; such as are under the covenant of grace 
are made members of the mystical body of Christ. This union the 
scripture sets forth by the similitude of head and members : Kom. xii. 
5, ' So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members 
one of another/ Vine and branches: John xv. 1, 2, 'I am the true 
vine, and my Father is the husbandman; every branch in me that 
beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and every branch that beareth 
fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit/ Stock and 
graff, Kom. vi. 5 ; body and garment : Gal. iii. 27, ' For as many of 
you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ/ The con 
verting of meat and drink into our substance : John vi. 56, * He that 
eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him/ 
House and indweller : Eph. iii. 17, ' That Christ may dwell in your 
hearts by faith/ As the members receive sense and motion from the 
head, the branches sap from the root, and the graff liveth in the stock, 
so we receive all life and being from Christ. Christ first giveth him 
self to us, and with himself all things. We must have himself first, 
for it is he in us becometh the fountain of life: Gal. ii. 20, 'I am 
crucified with Christ ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth 
in me ; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith 
of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me/ The 
hope of glory : Col. i. 27, ' Christ in you the hope of glory/ Now this 
endeareth us to God, and makes us near to him : John xvii. 21, ' That 
they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that 

YEB. 151.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 107 

they also may be one in us.' Christ is God-man in one person, and 
we are united to him mystically, though not hypostatically ; and so 
God and we are brought near together. For we are in him as he is in 
the Father, not with an exact equality, but some answerable likeness ; 
we are immediately united to Christ, and by Christ to God. 

[3.] The inhabitation of the Spirit, that is the fruits of union, as 
union of confederation. The same spirit that dwelleth in Christ 
dwelleth in us : 1 Cor. vi. 17, ' He that is joined to the Lord is one 
spirit/ It is by the same spirit that the union is brought about, the 
same spirit that dwelleth in head and members ; this is the foundation 
laid on Christ's part for all our communion and commerce with God : 
1 John iv. 13, ' Hereby we know that we dwell in God, and God in 
us, because he hath given us of his Spirit/ We cannot know our 
communion with God as the author of grace by any other gift ; he 
maketh his first entry this way, uniting us to himself by his Spirit. 

[4.] The mutual love between God and them. God loveth them, 
and they love God ; and so they are near and dear to one another : 
1 Sam. xviii. 1, * The soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of 
David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul/ Such love is here 
between Christ and believers, and between them and God. God 
beginneth, he loveth first, and best, and most ; no father or mother 
loveth their children so tenderly as God doth them : Isa. xlix. 15, 
* Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have 
compassion on the son of her womb ? yea, they may forget, yet will I 
not forget thee/ No husband loves his spouse as Christ doth the 
church : Eph. v. 25, ' Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also 
loved the church, and gave himself for it ; ' not only gave himself to 
the church, but for it. Alas ! when we are at our best, we love God 
too little. There is a strong love which the saints have to God and 
Christ ; they cannot live without him, are always crying, Abba, 
Father : Gal. iv. 6, 'And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth 
the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father/ They 
cannot brook his absence, are dejected if they cannot hear from him 
at every turn. 

7. There being such a ground laid for our nearness, all familiar 
intercourses do pass freely between God and us, through Christ, by 
whom and through whom are all things, and we by him, 1 Cor. viii. 
5. Our commerce with God is in donatives and duties. 

[1.] On God's part, it is seen in his readiness to hear our prayers : 
Isa. Iviii. 9, ' Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer ; thou 
shalt cry, and he shalt say, Here I am/ God is at hand ; when we 
knock at heaven's gates, he answereth presently, saying, And what 
would you have ? If God should make an offer to us as Jonathan 
did to David, 1 Sam. xx. 14, ' Whatever thy soul desireth, I will do 
for thee/ we would think then we should never want more. What 
would the world give for such a promise from an earthly potentate ? 
You have it from God, if you like the condition : Ps. xxxvii. 4, 
' Delight thyself in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thy 
heart/ Thou canst not desire anything regularly, and consisting with 
the condition of the covenant, with thy delight in God, but thou shalt 
have it. In a holy sense, you have God at command, to do for you 


what you would have, as if you had his sovereignty at command : Job 
xxii. 27, 28, ' Thou shalt make thy prayers unto him, and he shall 
hear thee ; and thou shalt pay thy vows. Thou shalt also decree a 
thing, and it shall he established unto thee ; and the light shall shine 
upon thy ways.' Decree, and it shall be established ; speak the word, 
and it shall come to pass, Is it for us to enact decrees, to appoint 
what shall be ? Their prayer is a duplicate or counterpart of God's 
decrees. God guideth their hearts to ask such things as are pleasing 
to him ; God is ready to help us, to give supplies in all our necessities ; 
he is remembering us for good upon all occasions, especially in our 
low estate ; when we have none to help, he will help : Isa. lix. 16, 
* And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no 
intercessor : therefore his arm brought salvation unto him, and his 
righteousness it Sustained him/ It was when be that departeth from 
evil maketh himself a prey ; he cannot be safe unless he be wicked ; 
and none will bestir himself in the behalf of truth and right, or own 
the good cause, by speaking a word for it ; therefore God himself 
would take the business in hand : Ps. cv. 14, * He suffered no man 
to do them wrong.' They that are God's confederates, he hath a 
watchful eye over them ; they are under his defence and protection. 
An afflicted people are more sensible of God's presence, help, and 
assistance than others are ; for straits and troubles are means to open 
men's eyes and waken their senses. Now you will ever find God with 
you when he seemeth most to forget you. But especially in duties 
of worship, the visits of love there, and the entertainment at God's 
table : Ps. Ixv. 4, * Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest 
to approach to thee, that he may dwell in thy courts : we shall be 
satisfied with the goodness of thy house, even of thy holy temple/ 
They have many sweet experiences of God, which they find not else 
where ; there he doth comfort, quicken, and revive them/ Ps. xxxvi. 
S, ' They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house ; 
thou shalt make them drink of the rivers of thy pleasures/ God 
biddeth them welcome to this table, and will not send them away 
empty ; indeed, there they come to feel joys unspeakable and glorious. 
Not that we should build always on sensible experiences, or tie God 
to our time, or make an essay of curiosity ; but if they humbly, 
resolutely wait upon God according to the encouragements of his 
promise, first or last they shall have a full meal, and God will own 
them, and fill their hearts with goodness. Thus in answering their 
prayers, helping them in straits, visiting in duties. 

[2.] On our part, it is delightful to converse with God 

(1.) In holy duties : Isa. xxvi. 16, * Lord, in trouble have they visited 

thee ; they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them ; ' 

Job xxii. 21, 'Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace; 

thereby good shall come unto thee/ We have no reason to be strange 

to God, for if we were acquainted with ourselves, we should find daily 

. hourly some errand to the throne of grace. To forget him days 

without number showeth we have little knowledge of God or of 

ourselves. Be sure to look after a desire to enjoy God in the duty : 

My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of my God : my 

all and my heart crieth out for the living God,' Ps. Ixxxiv. 2, 3. 

VER. 151.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 109 

To rest in an empty ordinance showeth we do what we do rather 
to pacify conscience than satisfy spiritual desires. God is to be our 
end and object, whom we are to seek and serve ; abs te sine te non 

(2.) In a course of holiness : * How can two walk together except 
they be agreed ? ' Amos iii. 3. Loveth what he loveth, hateth what 
lie hateth. Suitableness of disposition is the ground of intimacy : 1 
John i. 7, ' If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have 
fellowship one with another.' God saith, I will dwell in them, and 
walk in them. Walk as ever before God : Gen. xvii. 1, ' I am the 
Almighty God ; walk before me, and be thou perfect.' 

Secondly, How we come to be brought into this nearness ? The 
reason of doubting is because every man is born a stranger to God : 
Ps. Iviii. 3, ' The wicked are estranged from the womb ; they go astray 
as soon as they be born, speaking lies/ Sin causes a distance between 
God and us : Isa. lix. 2, * But your iniquities have separated between 
you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he 
will not hear.' Man is averse from God, without God, Christ, covenant, 
or hope of any good from him. Christ represents our apostate nature 
by the prodigal's going into a far country ; the breach groweth wider 
every day, and the distance is increased Joy actual sin. The wicked 
are far from God : Hosea vii. 13, ' Woe unto them, for they have fled 
from me ; destruction unto them, for they have transgressed against 
me.' While matters stand thus between us and God, there is no hope ; 
the rigour of divine justice and the terror of a guilty conscience will 
not give us leave to look for any communion with God. 

Ans. In this hopeless and helpless estate the Lord Jesus had pity 
on us. The great end of the mediator is to bring us to God : 1 Peter 
iii. 18, ' For Christ hath once suffered for sins ; the just for the unjust, 
that he might bring us to God.' And therefore he is said to be the 
way to the Father : John xvii. 6, ' I am the way, the truth, and the 
life ; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.' He hath taken our 
case into his own hands, and doth, partly by his merit and partly by his 
Spirit, bring about this nearness and fellowship between God and us. 

1. By his merit he bringeth us into a state of favour ; he opened 
the door by his death : Eph. ii. 13, ' But now in Christ Jesus we who 
sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ/ To 
go to God offended, and appeased by no satisfaction, is terrible to the 
guilty creature ; but Christ hath made our peace, so that we have 
access into this grace wherein we stand : Bom. v. 1, 2, * Therefore, 
being justified by faith, we have peace with God. through our Lord 
Jesus Christ : by whom also we have access by faith into the grace 
wherein we stand/ This door which he hath opened by his death, he 
keepeth open by his constant intercession : Heb. vii. 25, ' Wherefore 
he is able to save unto the uttermost all those that come unto God 
through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for us ; ' which 
our repeated provocations would otherwise daily and hourly shut and 
close again : 1 John ii. 1, ' These things I write unto you, that you 
sin not : and if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, 
Jesus Christ the righteous ; ' and so all distance is removed, and poor 
creatures may comfortably come to God. 


2. There is a great averseness in our hearts, and we need not only 
leave to come to God, but a heart to come to God. We are fugitives 
as well as exiles ; we hang off from God, and are loath to make use of 
the offered opportunity ; therefore the imprecation of our liberty is not 
only to be considered, but also the application of this grace to our 
souls, which is done by the Spirit of Christ. Certainly, as to God, he 
considereth us as united to Christ before he will be near to us : Eph. 
ii. 13, ' But now in Christ Jesus ye, who were sometimes afar off, are 
made nigh by the blood of Christ/ It was purchased by the blood of 
Christ, but it is not actually bestowed and applied to the elect until 
they be united to Christ, and in him by saving faith, as branches in 
the root ; not only through Christ, but in Christ : something for us, 
and something in us as to ourselves ; overcome our averseness to set 
our hearts to seefc the Lord. Nemo te qucerere potest nisi qui prius 
invenerit ; vis igitur inveniri ut quceraris f quaere, ut inveniaris ; 
potes quidem inveniri, non tamen prceveniri. None can be aforehand 
with God ; we cannot seek him till we have found him. He will be 
sought that he may be found ; and found that he may be sought. He 
draweth nigh to us by his preventing grace, that he may draw nigh to 
us by further grace ; and inclineth us to do what he requireth, that he 
may crown his own work. 

Use 1. To persuade us to enter into this state of nearness by taking 
hold of God's covenant. It is an excellent thing in the general ; all 
will grant that it is good to draw near to God ; but it is not only good, 
but good for you, all things considered : Ps. Ixxiii. 28, ' It is good for 
me to draw near to God;' it is our only blessedness. The practical 
judgment must be possessed with this truth, and then determine it so 
that it may have the authority of a principle ; and then the heart must 
be engaged to draw nigh to God by a hearty resolution to come unto 
God. Till the heart be engaged, we are too easily enticed away from 
Now the engaging the heart is by covenant : ' Yield yourselves 
to the Lord,' 2 Chron. xxx. 8. All God's servants, they are his by 
covenant : ^Ezek. xx. 37, ' I will cause you to pass under the rod, and 
bring you into the bond of the covenant ;' as sheep, to pass one by one 
out of the fold. God doth not covenant with us in the lump and body, 
but every man for himself must engage himself to live according to 
the will of God. It is not enough that Christ engaged for us as our 
ssurety: Heb. vii. 22, ' Jesus was made the surety of a better testa 
ment ; something is to be done personally if we would have benefit by 
is not enough that the church engage for us as a visible poli- 
ical body professing faith in Christ, Ezek. xvi. 7 ; but every man 
must engage his own heart. It is not enough our parents did engage 

r - US ^A n ,o la ] f of little ones > avouch God to *>e their God : Deut. 

xxix. 1 -12, Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God ; 

your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the 

} of Israel your little ones, your wives, and the stranger that is 

thy camp, from the hewer of wood to. the drawer of thy water ; that 

Bhouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, and into 

oath which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day/ We 

ist ratify their dedication and covenant in our own persons, 2 Cor. 

ix. id, by a professed subjection to the gospel of Christ; this cove- 

VER. 151.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. Ill 

nant and oath of allegiance. You eat at God's table to show that God 
and you are agreed, and entered into a strict union and fellowship one 
with another. 

2. Let us live as in a state of nearness to God ; let us fear him, and 
love him, and walk with him, as Enoch did, Gen. v. 24 ; or set the 
Lord always before us, as David did, Ps. xvi. 8. How so ? In point 
of reverence, in point of dependence. 

[1.] In point of reverence, that we may not displease God with whom 
we walk : Micah vi. 8, ' Walk humbly with thy God.' Thou shalt 
humble thyself to walk with God. It is not a fellow-like familiarity 
or the intimacy of equals, but the common subjection of inferiors, the 
obedience of children, diligently taking heed lest a breach fall out 
betwixt God and them : Deut. xxiii. 14, ' For the Lord thy God 
walketh in the midst of thee, to deliver thee, and to give up thine 
enemies before thee ; therefore shall thy camp be holy, that he may 
see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.' God threatens 
to leave them if he saw any filthiness among them. If we sin against 
God, we may find him near as a judge to punish, not as a father to 
protect us. Besides it is for the honour of God that a people near and 
dear to him should study to please him in all things, and that they 
should walk worthy of God, with whom they profess to be in covenant, 
and whose friendly presence they enjoy. The nearer you are to God 
the greater your sins. If you be the spouse of Christ, your sins are 
adultery ; if you be the children of God, your sins are rebellion and 
parricide ; if you be the friends of God, Christ hath the more cause to 
complain : Ps. Iv. 12, 13, ' For it was not an enemy that reproached 
me ; then I could have borne it : neither was it he that hated me that 
did magnify himself against me ; then I would have hid myself from 
him : but it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine ac 
quaintance.' Your sins are the injuries of a false friend, if you be of 
the household of God. After you had eaten his bread, will you lift up 
the heel against him ? Ps. xli. 9, ' Yea, mine own familiar friend, in 
whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lift up his heel 
against me.' It is treachery of an unfaithful domestic and servant. 
Men will endure injuries from strangers better than from nearer rela 
tions. Those that do not belong to God, that are not so dear and near 
to him, their sins are not so grievous. In short, if you be the people 
of God, whom God will own in the world, you should take care to live 
to his honour. 

[2.] In point of dependence, did we believe more firmly that God 
was so near and so ready at hand, to comfort, support, deliver, and 
bless us, this would stay our hearts in all our troubles. Is God near 
us ? What should we be afraid of ? Ps. xxiii. 1,2,' The Lord is my 
shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pas 
tures : he leadeth me beside the still waters.' God admitteth you to 
his table to assure you of his bounty and liberality ; he gives you this 
support as a sign of reconciliation with you, that God and you are 
friends. Now ra T&V cj>i\cov Trdvra Koiva. Especially let it check our 
fears ; when trouble is near, God is also near, to counterwork our ene 
mies and support his people: Zech. iii. 1, 2, 'And he showed me 
Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and 




Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the Lord said 
unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, Satan ; even the Lord that hath 
chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee : is not this a brand plucked out of the 
fire ?' Where there is Satan to resist, there is an angel to rebuke ; as 
extremities draw nigh, God draweth nigh. When Laban with great 
fury followed after Jacob, God followed after Laban, and stepped be 
tween, and commanded Laban not to hurt him. When Paul was like 
to be torn in pieces in an uproar, God runneth speedily to his help : 
2 Cor. i. 9, 10, ' But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that 
we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead ; 
who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver ; in whom we 
trust that he will yet deliver us.' When danger cometh to be danger 
indeed, you will find him a present help. 

Use 2. To quicken us and encourage us actually to draw nigh to 
God with the more confidence ; that is, let us address ourselves to 
converse with him in his ordinances, for his favour, mercy, and bless 
ing, that we may not stand afar off, but come boldly. To this end, 
consider whither we come, by whom we come, in what manner we 
must come or draw nigh to him. 

1. To whom we draw near ; to God, as reconciled in Christ. If God 
were inaccessible it were another matter ; but divine justice being 
satisfied in Christ we come to a throne of grace : Heb. iv. 16, * Let us 
therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain 
mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.' God's throne is a 
throne of justice, grace, glory. To the throne of strict justice no sinful 
man can approach ; to the throne of grace every penitent sinner may 
have access ; to the throne of glory' no mortal man can come in his 
whole person ; his heart may be there : so it is said, Heb. x. 19, ' Hav 
ing therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood 
of Jesus,' as petitioners are admitted to the prince in the presence 
chamber. The way to the throne of glory lieth by the throne of grace ; 
we pass by one unto the other. In short, Christ stood before the 
throne of justice when he suffered for our sins ; penitent sinners stand 
before the throne of grace when they worship him in faith. After the 
resurrection we shall ever stand before the throne of glory, and ever 
abide in his presence. Our business now is with the throne of grace, 
to give answer and despatch our suits. There is a threefold throne of 
grace the typical, which was the mercy-seat : f s. Ixxx. 1, ' Thou 
that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth;' the real, which is 
Christ: ^ Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption 
that is in Christ Jesus;' the commemorative, which is the Lord's 
supper, where is a representation of wisdom and obsignation of the 
grace of Christ in the New Testament. This throne of grace is set up 
everywhere in the church ; it standeth in the midst of God's people, as 
the tabernacle did in the midst of Israel ; for God is always in all 
places nigh unto such as call upon him in truth : John iv. 23, ' The 
hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship 
the Father in spirit and in truth ; for the Father seeketh such to wor 
ship him/ Access to God may be had everywhere, therefore let us 

2. By whom we come ; by Jesus Christ : Eph. iii. 12, ' In whom we 

VER. 152.] SERMONS UPON PS!LM cxix. 113 

have boldness, and access with confidence, by the faith of him ;' upon 
account of his merit and intercession. We should come without fear 
or doubt to him, de facto, as if his blood were running afresh. 

3< How we come ; with a true heart : Heb. x. 22, ' Let us draw near 
with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having a heart sprinkled 
from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.' 


Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou liast founded 
them for ever. VER. 152. 

IN this verse is a further illustration of the last clause of the former. 
He had said there, ' Thy commandments are ipsissima veritas ; ' now 
he amplifieth that saying from God's ordination and appointment, 
' Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast 
founded them for ever.' The prophet ends this octonary and paragraph 
with some triumph of faith ; and after all his conflicts and requests to 
God, goeth away with this assurance, that God's word should be in 
fallibly accomplished, as being upon his own experience of unchange 
able and unerring certainty. Two things you may observe in the 
words : 

1. The constant and eternal verity of God's testimonies, thou hast 
founded them for ever. 

2. David's attestation to it, / have known of old that it is so. What 
the word of God is in itself; and then what is the opinion of the 
believer concerning it. 

First, What the scriptures are in themselves. 

1. For their nature ; they are God's testimonies, or the significations 
of his will. 

2. For their stability ; they are founded (there is a great emphasis 
in that word), and that by God, ' Thou hast founded them/ 

3. For their duration, and everlasting use ; in that word ( for ever/ 
of an eternal use and comfort. 

Secondly, David's attestation or persuasion of this. ' I have known 
of old/ 

I here observe 

1. His persuasion. 

2. The date and standing of his persuasion ; it was ancient, ' I have 
known of old/ 

1. His persuasion, ' I have known/ There is a twofold knowledge 
the knowledge of faith, and the knowledge of sense ; both agree 
with the words. 

[1.] The knowledge of faith : ' I know that my Kedeemer lives/ that 
is, I believe it ; what we read concerning thy testimonies. Other 
translations read, by thy testimonies : ' I have known by thy testi 
monies/ The Septuagint, eyvwv etc rwv papTvpiwv aov, have been 
persuaded of this by thy Spirit out of the word itself. 

VOL. ix. 


[2.] The knowledge of sense and experience : I myself have known 
by sundry experiences heretofore, which I shall never forget. 

2. The date and ancientness of this persuasion, ' of old.' It was not 
a late persuasion, or a thing that he was now to learn. He always 
knew it since he knew anything of God, that God had owned his word 
as the constant rule of his proceedings with creatures, in that God had 
so often made good his word to him, not only by present and late, but 
old and ancient experiences. Well, then, David's persuasion of. the 
truth and unchangeableness of the word was not a sudden humour, or 
a present fit, or a persuasion of a few days' standing, but he was con 
firmed in it by long experience. One or two experiences had been no 
trial of the truth of the word, they might seem but a good hit ; but 
his word ever proveth true, not once or twice, but always. What we 
say ' of old,' the <8eptuagint reads, KCLT /)%?, ' from the beginnings,' 
that is, either 

[1.] From my tender years. Timothy knew the scriptures from a 
child, 2 Tim. iii. 15 ; so David very young was acquainted with God 
and his truth. 

[2.] Or from the first time that he began to be serious, or to mind 
the word in good earnest, or to be a student either in God's word or 
works, by comparing providences and promises, he found, concerning 
his testimonies, that God had founded them for ever. 

[3.] Lastly, ' of old/ may be what I have heard of all foregoing 
ages, their experience as well as mine : Ps. xxii. 4, 5, ' Our fathers 
trusted in thee ; they trusted, and thou didst deliver them ; they 
cried unto thee, and were delivered ; they trusted in thee, and were 
not confounded.' 

The points are three : 

Doct. 1. There is an everlasting stability, and a constant unchange 
able truth in God's testimonies. 

Doct. 2. This must be known by us, or apprehended by us. 

Doct. 3. Experiences of former times should give us encouragement 
to trust God for what is future. 

Doct. 1. There is an everlasting stability and a constant unchange 
able truth in God's testimonies. 

Proof. Ps. cxi. 8, 'All his commandments are sure ; they stand fast 
for ever and ever.' The word of God is of perpetual use and comfort, 
not in one condition, but in all ; in every age of the* world you have 
the effects of it : it shall be made good to us in the world to come : 
2 Cor. i. 20, ' For all the promises of God in him are Yea, and in him 
Amen ;' of one invariable tenor, and of a sure and certain accomplish 
ment. They do not say Yea and Nay, but Yea and Amen, \ Yea to 
our hopes, and Amen to our desires. 

Reasons. It must needs be so, if we consider 

1. Their author. 

2. Their foundation. 

3. Their use. 

First, Their author is God, who is the self- same God, and needs 
not say and unsay ; for he has wisdom enough to foresee all events ; 
power enough to answer all difficulties that may stand in the way of 
his promises; authority supreme, and so is above all controlment. 

VER. 152.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 115 

Sometimes men command, but without reason ; sometimes they pro 
mise, but without performance ; sometimes they threaten, but without 
effect : therefore the word of man dieth and may come to nothing ; 
they forget their promises, or may be cast into such circumstances as 
to be unable to perform them : but these are God's testimonies, and 
therefore are pillars that cannot be shaken ; they are laid by God him 
self, who hath ordained them to stand firm for ever. His people shall 
find more in his performance than they could perceive in his promise, 
and his enemies shall find more weight in his judgments than they 
could apprehend in his threatenings : 2 Tim. ii. 19, ' The foundation 
of God standeth sure ;' Oij^eXLa, his obligation, not a foundation in the 
builder's sense, but in the lawyer's sense. His obligation or bill of 
contract, that is, his promise or covenant with us in Christ, remaineth 
unchangeable. A bill or bond is called Oyfjuekia. God will own his ser 
vants if they will be faithful to him. See Hammond. 

Secondly, They are founded ; the testimonies of God, if taken for 
the promises of the gospel, as they ought to be, are built on two 
foundations : 

1. One foundation is the unchangeableness of God's nature : Heb. 
vi. 18, ' That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for 
God to lie, we might have strong consolation.' God cannot change, 
cannot lie. God can no more break his promise than cease to be God ; 
his love, truth, power is all unchangeable. 

2. The other foundation is the blood of Christ ; in him they are 
Yea and Amen. The things promised are purchased with a great price ; 
surely that blood was not shed in vain : * Other foundation can no man 
lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ/ 1 Cor. iii. 11. 

Thirdly, Their use. 

1. To be testimonies or declarations of God's mind and will to the 
creature ; not only for the regulation of our actions, but the measure 
of God's dealings.. God's covenant in respect of the commands is the 
rule of man's duty ; in respect of the promises and threatenings, they 
are the rule of God's judgment or process with us. Now, it is for 
the honour of God and satisfaction of man that this should be stated 
and held good in all ages and cases ; therefore God hath established 
a process and rule of dealing with his creatures that shall never be 
changed. If your cause will hold good according to God's testimonies, 
it will hold good before his tribunal. Otherwise we could not know 
certainly that we do please or maintain any commerce with him, or 
know what to expect from him. 

2. To be props and pillars of our confidence ; so the scriptures, as 
they are founded themselves, so they are a foundation for us to build 
upon : Eph. ii. 20, ' And are built upon the foundation of the apostles 
and prophets, Jesus Christ 'himself being the corner-stone ; ' they sup 
port the weight of the building. Now, foundation-stones must not be 
movable, or laid loosely and carelessly, for then all the building will 
be weak and tottering ; therefore there is a sure word and sure pro 
mises for poor creatures to build upon. The apostle calls it pepaio- 
repov \6yov, 2 Peter i. 19, ' A more sure word of prophecy/ comparing 
it to the voice from heaven, whereof he spoke immediately before. 
We are upon more certain terms, now God guideth us by scripture, 


than if he guided us by oracle : quoad nos, it is so, though every 
declaration of God he alike evident and certain in itself. A transient 
voice is more easily mistaken and forgotten than a standing authentic 
record. Consider it as subject to jealousies, forgetfulness, mistakes ; 
it is so. The general voice of the gospel gives more encouragement 
to self-undoing sinners than a voice from heaven calling us by name. 

Use 1. To humble us for our uncertainty and inconstancy, when the 
testimonies of God are so stable and unchangeable. The scriptures 
are as firm as a rock ; but, alas ! we are unstable as water, both as to 
faith and obedience. There should be a proportion inter regulam et 
regulatum, between the rule and the thing ruled, the measure and what 
is measured, the stamp and the impression. We carry it so as if the 
word spake one thing to-day, and another to-morrow ; as if God would 
sometimes maintain the cause of his people, and at other times forsake 
them ; as if he sometimes loved sin, and hated righteousness ; would 
sometimes be good to penitent sinners, at other times turn away from 
them. We profess to walk by his rule, and yet live so disproportionate. 

1. In faith, like waves of the sea rolled hither and thither, our de 
pendence and trust now and anon changing with the posture of our 
affairs, not suited to the eternal verity of the promises. In crosses, 
confusions, and difficulties, we are at an utter loss : James i. 6, * But 
let him ask in faith, nothing wavering ; for he that wavereth is like 
a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed.' If we believe 
it to-day, why not to-morrow ? Do difficulties abate anything of the 
certainty of God's word, and make it questionable ? Then it would be 
in the power of man to disannul the promise, and God could never lay 
a sure ground of hope. 

2. In obedience. The weakness of our faith and dependence 
necessarily inferreth that they that do not trust God cannot be long 
true to him : James i. 8, &tyv%os d/carda-Taro?, ' A double-minded man 
is unstable in all his ways/ Sometimes when we are soul-sick, we 
mourn and complain of sin, and seem to have a passionate hatred of 
sin ; at other times, when the fit is over, we give it harbour and enter 
tainment, and embrace our Delilah again ; whereas the same reasons 
that once made us hate sin should still make us hate it, for sin is sin still. 
The scripture doth not one while condemn it, and another while allow 
it ; but we are not swayed by our rule, but act as we are inclined by 
our changeable affections, and therefore complain of sin to-day, and 
commit it to-morrow, and lick up our vomit again. So for duty : 
Hosea vi. 4, ' Your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early 
dew it passeth away/ Nothing so fickle and changeable as man in 
anything that is good, so vain and inconstant are we in our motions 
and devotion ; pangs that can no more endure a trial than the morn 
ing cloud and early dew can endure the heat of the rising sun; it 
cometh by fits. 

3. In our opinions and professions, how do we say and unsay, and 
build again the things we have destroyed, and destroy the things we 
have builded ; so that we know not where to have them, and are like 
children tossed ^ to and fro, and carried about with every wind of 
doctrine ! Eph. iv. 14, where are two metaphors ; they are compared 
to children tor inconstancy in their choice, and to ships destitute of 

VER. 152.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 117 

skilful masters, tossed this way and that way with contrary winds and 
tides. So they with divers doctrines and opinions. Sometimes taken 
with one opinion, sometimes with another ; irepupepofjuevor,, circled about 
by all the winds in the card. Is this becoming the constant unerring 
certainty of the scriptures ? It will be necessary for us to quit this 
childish temper ; God will not always bear with it in us, whatever he 
may do in babes ; therefore let us not receive the truth of God lightly 
and uncertainly, but fix ourselves in the knowledge, the love, and 
practice of the truths that are there commended to us : Gal. i. 6, ' I 
marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the 
grace of Christ, unto another gospel.' This lightness is a disease 
incident to our natures, soon off, soon on ; that other gospelling, or pre 
tence of a purer way. 

Use 2. Is comfort to the people of God 

1. In all the particular changes that pass over our heads. Our 
estate and condition is many times changed, but God's word is no more 
changed than himself is changed ; all things shall come to ruin sooner 
than these foundations be overturned : Mat. v. 18, ' Till heaven and 
earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till 
all be fulfilled.' The promises are still the same, even as God is : 
Mai. iii. 6, * For I am the Lord, I change not ; therefore ye sons of 
Jacob are not consumed.' And these mercies we should take comfort 
in : Heb. xii. 28, ' Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot 
be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, 
with reverence and godly fear/ So also 1 John ii. 17, ' And the world 
passeth away, and the lusts thereof, but he that doeth the will of God 
abideth for ever.' 

2. In times of general confusion, when that which they apprehended 
to be right and a duty proveth a sin, when wickedness is established 
by a law : Ps. xciv. 20, ' Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship 
with thee, which frameth mischief by a law ? ' and all that is just and 
right seemeth to be perverted. There is a God in heaven, who will 
judge not according to the opinions of the times, but according to the 
reality of things revealed in his holy word. These ordinances of men 
shall be forced to give way to those eternal testimonies ; a duty in 
former times, a sin now. 

3. Comfort against the encounters of violence, when we seem to be 
borne down with force, and have no hope. The testimonies of God are 
firm and steadfast, that none shall overthrow and frustrate them. They 
are but as the dashing of waves against a rock : Isa. xxviii. 15, 
' When the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come 
unto us.' 

4. It is a comfort in prayer ; so David useth it here. Yea and 
Amen, that relateth to our desires, as before. 

Use 3. To persuade us to behave ourselves to the word of God as an 
unchangeable unerring rule. 

1. To the directions and precepts of it. There are no other terms 
to be expected, but what God hath set down in the word ; there 
fore frame yourselves to observe them, and be constant in this prac 
tice, then will you have the everlasting comfort of it. Bind them 
upon your hearts : you must take up Christ's yoke one time or other; 


do not think that he will alter the ordinances of his wisdom and jus 
tice for your sakes : Ps. cxix. 66, ' Teach nie good judgment and 
knowledge, for I have believed thy commandments.' 

2. To the promises of it. They -are founded for ever, whatever 
carnal reason suggests to the contrary in the hour of temptation. To 
this end consider what promises are. They are declarations of the 
purposes of God. Both confirm you. As they are purposes of God,. 
they imply immutability : Heb. vi. 17, ' Wherein God, willing to 
show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, con 
firmed it with an oath.' God's counsel is immutable, for God being 
an intelligent agent, of most perfect knowledge and profound wisdom, 
can will and determine nothing but according to the best and most 
exact understanding. There can be no cause of revocation, either for 
want of wisdom <5r justice, for he is absolutely both wise and just ; nor 
from inconstancy of will, for ' the strength of Israel is not as man that 
he should repent ; ' nor can his will be frustrated for want of power, 
for he is almighty. But now when this purpose is declared, that 
draweth on a further obligation : Ps. Ixxxix. 34, ' I will not alter the 
thing that is gone out of my lips.' There is a debt ariseth, and a 
right established of the creatures. To change counsel would imply 
weakness ; to alter a promise, wickedness and unfaithfulness, which 
were the highest blasphemy to imagine in God, especially when this 
declaration is made with such emphatic averment, confirmed by an 
oath : Heb. vi. 18, ' That by two immutable things, in which it was 
impossible for God to lie, we may have strong consolation ; ' which is 
such a sacred assurance, yea, by seals and signs. Yet, again, your 
very believing bindeth it the faster : Ps. cxix. 49, ' Kemember the 
word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope/ 
Would God invite a trust, and then decline it? The more you 
believe, the sooner you see the effects of the promise. This is the 
difference between promises and threatenings. Christ saith, 'Be it 
unto thee according to thy faith/ God's threatenings are fulfilled 
whether man will or no ; let him believe or not believe, God will 
throw the ungodly into hell. But in promises it is otherwise ; then 
they do good to us when by faith we embrace them ; believe, and thou 
shalt be established. Besides God's two immutable things, faith is an 
anchor sure and steadfast, Heb. vi. 19 ; therefore let us not entertain 
the promises of the gospel with a loose heart; you may know it by your 
slightness and carelessness about them, if you do not esteem them as 
greater 2 Peter i. 4, ' To you are given exceeding great and precious 
promises ; ' they contain spiritual and eternal riches, and deserve to be 
greatly esteemed. By your addicteclness to sense and to present things 
you seem to declare that you think a bird in the hand is better 
than two in the bush, happiness to come but conjectural and uncer 
tain. It is a fancy to live by faith, if it doth not support us in dim 
ities and afflictions: Ps. cxix. 40, 'This is my comfort in my 
affliction, thy word hath quickened me;' when you look on all the 
promises as a dry stick, or as words and wind ; if they do not engage 
to the earnest pursuit of heavenly happiness, and the blessedness 
which they contain and offer : Heb. xi. 13, ' These all died in faith, 
; having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and 

VEE. 152.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix, 119 

were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they 
were strangers and pilgrims on the earth/ 

Doct. 2. That this unchangeable certainty and everlasting verity of 
God's testimonies should be known by us, that so a sure word should 
be entertained by a pure faith. David acknowledged here his own 

1. What it is to know this. To know signifieth three things to 
understand, to consider, to believe ; all have place in this point. 
There must be a clear apprehension, a deep and serious consideration, 
and a firm assent and sound belief of this truth. 

[1.] It is needful we should understand the unchangeable and ever 
lasting verity of the scriptures ; for how shall we believe what we do 
not know, and venture our souls upon what we are ignorant of ? 2 
Tim. i. 12, * I know whom I have believed ; ' John ix. 36, ' Dost thou 
believe on the Son of God ? And he said, Who is he, that I might be 
lieve on him ? ' True faith is not content to go on implicit grounds, 
but seeks for clear knowledge of the ground it goeth upon. Nor 
can there be solid faith without knowledge of that which we do 
believe. Who will venture his soul on the bottom of the scriptures 
till he knoweth they are of God, and unchangeably fixed as the rule of 
life and charter of his happiness, especially since they require us to 
crucify our lusts, and sacrifice our interests, and perform those duties 
which are unpleasing to nature, upon the hopes which they offer, and 
bid us with confidence and joyfulness to wait upon God for his salva 
tion in the midst of all pressures and afflictions. If we build hand 
over-head we build on the sand, not on the rock. 

[2.] To know signifieth to consider. This is also necessary, be 
cause all knowledge is improved by consideration, without which it is 
but as ignorance or oblivion at the best, till consideration doth awaken 
it. Certainly it can have no efficacy upon us, breed no delight and 
hope in us. A transient view doth not acquaint us with things as 
serious meditation ; the truth lieth by unimproved ; as a man that 
passeth us by occasionally knoweth us not so much as he that doth 
intimately converse with us. Therefore, if we would improve our 
knowledge, excite the soul to its act of faith and choice, there must be 
consideration. We are bid to consider the Lord Jesus, Heb. iii. 
1 ; to give heed to the gospel, Heb. ii. 1, to consider its worth and 
certainty. The schoolmen have a distinction, certitudo cognitionis 
sen speculations, and certitudo adhcesionis ; the former lieth only 
in a clearness of the mind, the last in its power upon the affec 
tions and the will. The object rightly propounded produceth the 
former from the understanding, not expecting the consent of the will ; 
the latter followeth impenum et consensum voluntatis, the command 
and consent of the will. The former ariseth from the evidence of the 
thing ; the latter from the worth, weight, and greatness of the thing, 
the gospel truth. Of this latter sort we read, 1 Tim. i. 15, ' This is 
a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus 
came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief ; ' and there 
fore must not only be apprehended, but seriously considered by us, 
that we may adhere to it with all our hearts. Though illumination is 
helped by contemplation, yet much more the latter, where firm adherence 
is expected. Men may apprehend the truth of things, when corrupt 


affections and a perverse will keep them from closing with them ; but 
when a man so knows a thing as to consider it both his duty and inte 
rest to close with the goodness and truth of it, then doth he rightly 
know it. 

[3.] To know signifieth assent and firm believing ; as John xvii. 8, 
' They have known surely, aX??0?, that I came out from thee.' So 
Acts ii. 3G, ' Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, 
tt<r<aX<w9, that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye crucified 
both Lord and Christ ; ' to know it so as they might safely build upon 
it. This is mainly necessary, considering the many temptations and 
assaults that we shall meet with to shake us ; this assent must be very 
strong, well rooted and built upon sure ground. And because it doth 
not consist in puncto, it must be always growing, Mark ix. 24, ' Lord, 

1 believe ; help thou my unbelief ; ' till it grow up to the certainty of 
the thing on which it is built. There is an objective certainty in 
things that is beyond that subjective certainty in persons about them ; 
but because it is built on divine revelation, or God's testimonies, we 
should still increase in it. 

2. Whence we know it, there is the difficulty. The doubt will not 
lie here, whether God's testimonies be of everlasting verity, but how 
we shall know them to be God's testimonies. For it is per se notum, 
that God is true, that he cannot lie, or give a false testimony : 1 John 
v. 9, ' If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater/ 
But how doth it appear this is God's testimony ? for that word that is 
propounded to be believed as such, cannot be perceived easily, neither 
is it known of itself to the understanding, neither is it demonstrable by 
evident reasons as to make infallible conclusions. The word's giving 
testimony of itself doth not solve it ; indeed one part may give testi 
mony to another, and one revelation be confirmed by another, as the 
New Testament giveth witness to the Old, and confirmeth its autho 
rity ; but how shall we know that to be God's testimony ? I answer, 
we have it 

[1.] Partly from the self-evidencing light of the scriptures them 
selves ; they have passed God's hand, and have his signature upon 
them, as all his works make out their author. There are characters 
of his wisdom, power, goodness, and holiness impressed upon them ; 

2 Cor. iv. 2-4, ' By manifestation of the truth commending ourselves 
to every man's conscience in the sight of God : but 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, lest the light of 
the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine 
unto them.' The gospel being the result of God's wisdom, and suited 
to the heart of man, for whose use it was calculated, it hath something 
in itself to commend it to our consciences. It cannot be imagined 
that the hand of God should pass upon anything, and there should be 
nothing of liis character left on it to show it came from God. Look 
upon any fly or gnat, any flower of the field or pile of grass, and you 
may see some impressions to discover the author of them. So certainly 
if God shall set himself to write a book, or set forth a frame of doctrine 
to do man good, surely he hath discovered his wisdom and holiness 
and grace therein, and that in plain and legible characters, that, if 


man were not prepossessed and leavened with prejudice and corrupt 
affections, he could not choose but see it. That there is such an 
objective evidence or aptitude in the doctrine itself to beget faith in 
those that consider it, is plain from that of the apostle : 2 Cor. iv. 
2-4, ' By the manifestation of the truth we commend ourselves to 
every man's conscience in the sight of God ; ' without miracle, or other 
confirmation, if they had a clear eye : it is light which discovereth 
itself, and all things else. The reason why it is not seen is not in the 
object, because of any defect there, but the faculty, the visive faculty; 
their eyes are blinded with worldly lusts. Well, then, when things 
are spoken so becoming the nature of God, and so agreeable to the 
necessities of man, and with such an evidence of reason, not to the 
law only, but also to the gospel, as to establishing of a way of com 
merce between God and us, and exempting us fronfthe grand scruples 
that haunt us, though these things could not be found out by human 
wit, yet now they are revealed, they carry a great suitableness there 

[2.] And partly by the testimony of the Spirit, this is one way of 
confirming the truth of the gospel : Acts v. 32, ' We are his witnesses 
of these things, and so is the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to 
them that obey him ; ' where the apostles are mentioned as one sort 
of witnesses, and the Holy Ghost as another. The great office of the 
Spirit is to testify of Christ Jesus : John xv. 26, ' Even the spirit of 
truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.' The 
doctrine of the gospel concerning Christ's coming and power is so 
great a mystery that it is not believed and received in the world with 
out the Spirit. Upon the beginning of Christ's ministry, in his 
baptism, the Spirit appeared in the form of a dove. Now the Holy 
Ghost doth two ways bear witness of Christ eVre^w?, are^zw, arti 
ficially, and inartificially. Artificially, per modum argumenti ; and 
inartificially, per modum testis ; partly as he doth afford sufficient 
matter of confirmation and conviction in those miraculous operations 
in the primitive times, and also as he doth persuade the heart, and 
convince us of the truth of the gospel. 

[3.] There is experience of the truth of the word in God's hearing 
prayers : Ps. Ixv. 2, ' thou that nearest prayer, unto thee shall 
all flesh come.' Fulfilling promises : Ps. xviii. 30, ' Thy word is a 
tried word ; he is a buckler to all that trust in him/ Punishing the 
wicked : Hosea vii. 12, ' I will chastise them as their congregation 
hath heard/ Rewarding according to the rules set down in the word, 
Rom. i. 18, and Heb. ii. 3 ; but of this by and by. 

3. Why we must understand, consider, and believe ? 

Ans. Both in order to our comfort and duty. 

[1.] Comfort. If the certainty of the scriptures were more under 
stood, believed, and thought of, we should be more fortified against 
fears and sorrows, and cares and discouragements, whencesoever they 
do arise ; for as fire well kindled doth easily break forth into a flame, 
so assent freely laid doth fortify the heart against trouble. It is very 
notable when the apostles would raise the joy of faith, they plead the 
certainty of the doctrine they delivered ; for it was comfortable in 
itself, suitable to the necessities of man ; all that needed was to assure 


others of the truth of it see 1 John i. 1-4 that their joy might be 
complete and full, upon this certainty of evidence, and complete de 
monstration. We could not be so comfortless and dejected, if we 
were persuaded of the reality of these things. So 2 Peter i. 8, ' Be 
lieving, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorious.' We should 
love Christ, and rejoice in the believing confident expectation of 
enjoying of him. And where this is firmly believed, afflictions cannot 
damp or hinder this joy. A firm trust in the promises of the word 
will fill a man with comfort, and strengthen him against all diffi 
culties, Ps. Ivi. 4-10. 

[2.] Our obedience would be better promoted, it would be a remedy 
against boldness in sinning and coldness in duty : Heb. iii. 12, ' Take 
heed lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing 
from the living God.' You cannot drive a dull ass into the fire : 
Prov. i. 17, ' Surely in vain is the net laid in the sight of any bird.' 
Men do not believe the everlasting verity of the scriptures, and 
therefore are so bold and venturous ; they think they shall do well 
enough after all God's threatenings : Zeph. i. 12, /And it shall come 
to pass that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and will punish the 
men that are settled upon their lees, that say in their hearts, The 
Lord will not do good, neither will he do evil.' Secondly, coldness in 
duty. How do the scriptures reason against neglect ? Heb. ii. 1-3, 
' Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things 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 
every disobedience received a just recompense of reward, how shall 
we escape if we neglect so great salvation ? ' The word spoken by 
angels was Xo709 /3e/3ato9. Was only worth questioned ? No ; but 
the truth also, because so little believed, therefore so little thought of, 
less desired, least of all pursued and sought after : 2 Peter i. 16,. 
' We have not followed cunningly-devised fables, when we made 
known to you the power and coining of the Lord Jesus, but were eye 
witnesses of his majesty/ 

Use. Oh ! study to be informed more and more of this great truth. 
Let us think of and often consider the unerring certainty of the scrip 
tures. It is a truth not to be supposed and taken for granted, but 
known, that you may build sure. Man is apt to suspect evangelical 
truths, as being cross to his lusts and interests. You will find it of 
use, not ^ only in great temptations, when we are apt to question all, 
Ps. Ixxiii. 13, but in ordinary practice, in every prayer : Heb. x. 22, 
' Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith/ It is 
not an assurance of our particular estate, or our title to eternal life, 
but a full assurance of the word and promise of God, that is neces 
sarily required in every one that will draw nigh to God : * Let us ask 
in faith, nothing doubting/ James i. 7, 8. 

2. Do not content yourselves with a light credulity, but grow up to 
ft full persuasion : 2 Tim. iii. 14, ' But continue thou in the things 
which thou hast learned, and hast been assured of, knowing of whom 
thou hast learned them;' and Col. ii. 2, 'That their hearts being com 
forted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full 
ssurance of understanding;' not a fluctuating doubting knowledge, 

TEE. 152.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 123 

but a full persuasion of the truth of the gospel : Luke i. 4, ' That 
thou mayest know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast 
been instructed ; ' Col. i. 23, ' If thou continue in the faith, grounded 
and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel ; ' a 
rooted persuasion that it is the undoubted truth of God : the firmness 
of faith should answer the firmness of God's word. There are several 
degrees of assent, conjecture, opinion, weak faith, and receiving the 
word in much assurance, 1 Thes. i. 6. There is belief, confidence, 
assurance, and full assurance. Belief is grounded on God's word in 
general, and all the truths and propositions therein contained. Con 
fidence, on the promise ; the one goeth before the other : fidelity is 
before dependence and belief ; for the promise is first a truth, and so 
to be considered, before it can be conceived under the formal notion 
of a promise. Full assurance is grounded on the fidelity and immut 
ability of God ; no man believeth so far but he may believe more. 

Doct. 2. That experiences of former times should give us en 
couragement to trust God for what is future. ' Thy testimonies I 
have known of old/ saith David. 

So the children of God make use of them. See David's instance, 
1 Sam. xvii. 36, ' Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear, and 
this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them. Moreover 
David said, The Lord hath delivered me from the paw of the lion, and 
the paw of the bear, and he will deliver me out of the hand of this 
Philistine.' Thus he argueth from former experience to future deliver 
ance : I trust in the same God, who is able to give the same strength, 
and why should I not look for the same success ? So Jacob : Gen. 
xxxii. 10, 11, 'I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies, and of 
the truth thou hast showed to thy servant ; for with my staff I passed 
over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands : deliver me, I 
pray thee, from the hands of my brother Esau.' So Ps. xxiii. 5, 6, 

* Thou hast prepared a table for me in the presence of mine enemies : 
surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.' 
He hath been good to me, and if it be for his glory, he will be still 
good to me ; he hath been my God, and will be my God, and shall be 
my God for ever : 2 Cor. i. 10, ' Who hath delivered from so great a 
death, and doth deliver ; in whom we trust he will yet deliver us/ 
In all respects of time we stand in need of deliverance ; when one is 
past, another cometh ; there have been dangers, there are dangers, 
and there will be dangers ; but God hath, doth, and will deliver. It 
is a trade God hath used, an art he is versed in, and never at a loss 
about. Our God is a God of salvation, and is excellent in working 
of it. 

Keasons of the point. 

1. God's constancy and unchangeableness. God is the same, always 
like himself, for mercy, power, and truth ; he is never at a loss : what 
he hath done, he can do, and will do. I am, is God's name, not I 
have been, or shall be. His providence is new and fresh every morn 
ing, Lam. iii. 23. God is but one God, Gal. iii. 20 ; always like 
himself. As he hath delivered, so he doth, and will : Isa. lix. 1. 

* Behold the Lord's hand is not shortened that he cannot save, neither 
his ear heavy that he cannot hear/ No decay in him. When we give 


to another, we give from ourselves ; we waste by giving. The crea 
tures are at a stint, and soon spend their allowance ; but God cannot 
be exhausted ; there is no decrease of love and power, no wrinkle upon 
the brow of eternity. 

2. Experience begets confidence : Rom. v. 3, * And patience experi 
ence, and experience begets hope/ The heart is much confirmed when 
it hath faith and experience of his side. If we were as we should be, 
the promise should be beyond all experiences, for it is the word of him 
that cannot lie. Experience addeth nothing to the certainty of the 
promise, nor any authority to it ; only in regard of our weakness, it 
is a help and sensible confirmation against our distrustful cares and 
fears. Sense and experience is not the ground of faith. We must 
believe God upon his bare word ; yet it is an encouragement : John 
xx. 29, ' Because* thou hast seen me, thou hast believed/ Then 
more encouraged when Christ felt. We have a double proof and 

perience : 

l.J What God is able to do for us. 
2.J What God will do again, when his own glory and our need 


uireth it. 

1.] We know what God can do ; former deliverances are as so many 
monuments and significations of his power : Isa. li. 9, ' Awake, awake, 
arm of the Lord ; art not thou he that cut Rahab, and wounded the 
dragon ? awake, and put on strength, as in the ancient days/ Rahab 
is Egypt, Ps. Ixxxvii. 4 ; the dragon, Pharaoh, Ezek. xxix. 3, the 
dragon or crocodile of Egypt. Can he do this, and not do that? 
Upon every experience, we that learn by sense should be more strongly 
persuaded of God's power. It is a complaint they will not learn after 
all these signs and wonders : Mat. xvi. 9, ' Do ye not understand, 
neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many 
baskets ye took up?' Upon every experience we should have high 
thoughts of God's power and all-sufficiency. The great controversy 
between Christ and his disciples was their not profiting in faith. 

[2.] We see and know what God is willing to do for poor sinners. 
He is not sparing of necessary supplies and comforts ; he hath been a 
present help. We have no cause to believe the contrary ; it is only 
distrust saith he will not ; it is a suspicion and jealousy without cause. 
.t may be, for it hath been : 1 Sam. xvii. 36, ' The Lord hath delivered 
me/ &c. Particular and special confidence is not so usual now, but 
we have no reason to be discouraged in the ways of God ; though we 
cannot be absolutely confident, yet we should not balk duty out of 
distrust and jealousy. In such faintings take the cordial of experi 
ence: Ps. Ixxvii. 10, ' And I said, This is my infirmity ; but I will 
remember the years of the right hand of the Most High/ 

3. Former mercies are pledges of future ; by giving, God becometh 
our debtor : Mat, vi. 25, ' Is not the life more than meat, and the body 
more than raiment ? ' If he gives life, he will give food ; if he gives 
a body, he will give raiment : one mercy is an earnest of another. 
Rom. viii. 32, if he give us Christ* he will give us all things ; if he 
give grace, he will give glory; if we have the first-fruits, Rom. viii. 
5, we shall have the harvest ; if we have the beginning, Phil. i. 6, 
we shall have the ending. There are some dispensations that are but 

VER. 153.1 SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 125 

as a tendency to other mercies, given out in such a way as to invite 

4. We are the more endeared to God by his own mercy and tender 
care of us : Zech. iii. 2, ' Is not this a brand plucked out of the burn 
ing ?' The danger heightens the mercy. 

Use 1. To reprove the people of God for their diffidence and distrust, 
when, after many experiences of God, they can no more quiet their 
hearts concerning future events ; upon every new trouble as much 
tormented and perplexed as if never known nor heard anything of God 
before. David : 1 Sam. xxvii. 1, ' I shall one day perish by the hand of 
Saul/ When God hath abundantly done enough to evidence his power 
and love unto his : Ps. Ixxviii. 19-21, * They said, Can God furnish 
a table in the wilderness ?' c. When we are to credit God in another 
work, as the disciples after the miracle of the loaves. When new 
temptations assault us, we should not be disheartened. What were 
God's motives before to help? Because you were in misery; tbe. 
same you may expect again. 

Use 2. To press you 

1. To observe your experiences, and compare them with the word. 
All that God doth is full of truth and faithfulness : Ps. cxi. 7, ' The 
works of his hands are verity and judgment, all his commandments 
are sure ;' exactly according to what he hath promised ; they certainly 
come to pass. Especially observe your experiences in your troubles and 
temptations, what hath been your greatest comfort and support then. 

2. Begin to do so betimes; long experience is a great advantage. 
Most Christians are to be blamed that they begin so late to know God, 
or to observe the truth of his word, or that adjourn and put it off. 
Fruits planted late are seldom ripe and come to anything. When we 
have a long journey to go, we set forth early. Begin with the Lord 
betimes, if you would thrive in faith. The longer experience you have 
had of God, the more you will believe in him : Ps. xxii. 9, 10, ' Thou 
art he that took me out of the womb ; thou didst make me hope when 
I was upon my mother's breast : I was cast upon thee from the womb ; 
thou art my God from my mother's belly.' 

3. Kemember and improve experiences. 'They that know thy name 
will put their trust in thee.' Let not new troubles startle us, after we 
have found the power and goodness of God so ready for our help. 


Consider mine affliction, and deliver me ; for I do not forget thy 

. VER. 153. 

IN this verse observe 

1. David's petition, consider mine affliction, and deliver me. 

2. His argument, for I do not forget tliy law. 

First, His petition is double for pity and deliverance ; the one is 
preparative to the other. 

1. That God would consider his case. 


2. Deliver him from the danger into which he was cast by his 

Secondly, His reason is taken from his constant obedience, ' For I do 
not forget thy law/ The phrase is a meiosis, and noteth 

1. His diligence; he did carefully observe. 

2. His constancy ; he never departed from the obedience of God's 
word, whatever temptations he had to the contrary. 

I shall give you some brief notes. 

Doct. 1. That God's choicest servants in this world have their 

David saith, ' Mine affliction ; ' and others of God's children have 
their share of the sorrows and vexations of this world. This will be 
so whether you consider them as men or as Christians. 

1. As men : Jt)b xiv. 1, ' Man that is born of a woman is of few 
days, and full of trouble.' So Job v. 7, * Man is born to trouble as the 
sparks fly upward / and Gen. xlvii. 9, ' Few and evil have the days of 
the years of my life been/ It is well they are so few, since so evil. 
As our relations and comforts are multiplied, so are the occasions of 
our sorrow. God never intended the world to be a place of our rest, 
but our exercise ; it is a middle place between heaven and hell, and 
hath somewhat of either. In our passage to the other world we must 
look for it, it is that we are born to. Many are born to great honour 
and estate, but they have another portion goeth along with it ; they 
are born to trouble. Ever since * sin entered into the world, punish 
ment entered with it. Vitam auspicatur a supplicio. In heaven full 
of days, full of comforts ; but here it is otherwise, few, and full of 
trouble. Unusquisque nostrum, cum nascitur, ex hospitio Tiujus mundi 
excipitur, initium sumit ex lacrymis Cyprian de Pat. Austin, infans 
nondum loquitur, et jam proplietat Serm. 24, de Verbis Apost. 

2. As Christians. A man is no sooner brought home to God but he 
must expect to be hated by the world : John xv. 19, 'If ye were of 
the world, the world would love his own ; but because ye are not of 
the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world 
hateth you.' Assaulted by Satan: Luke xxii. 31, 'Simon, Simon, 
behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he might sift you as 
\yheat.' Chastened by the Lord himself for their trial and humilia 
tion : Heb. xii. 8, ' But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are 
partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.' Our own corrupt hearts 
will be vexing us, thwarting all the motions of the new nature : Gal. 
v. 17, ' For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against 
the flesh : and these are contrary one to the other ; so that ye cannot 
do the thing that ye would/ The lusts of the flesh are as pricks and 
thorns in our sides. In short, wicked men will hate us because we are 
so good : 2 Tim. iii. 12, ' Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ 
Jesus shall suffer persecution/ God will afflict us because we are no 
better : Isa. xxii. 9, ' By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be 
purged, and this is all the fruit to take away his sin/ A Christian is 

strict and pure for the world, and is not strict and pure enough for 
>d ; and therefore must look for afflictions to mortify sin from God's 
hand, and great enmity from the world, if he meaneth to keep up the 
majesty of his profession. 

VER. 153.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 127 

Use. It presseth us 

1. To look for crosses. 

2. To prepare for them. 

3. When they come, bear them with more patience. 

1. Look for them. The first day that we begin to be Christians we 
must reckon of the cross. Christ hath drawn up the form of our in 
denture, to which every one must yield and consent before he can call 
him Master : Mat. xvi. 24, ' If any man will come after me, let him 
deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.' In Luke it is, 
' take up his cross daily/ Luke ix. 23. Though there be fair days as 
well as foul in Christianity, yet we must every day be ready. As por 
ters stand in the street waiting for a burden for them to carry if they 
be hired to it, so must a Christian every day be prepared to take up 
his burden if God shall call him to it ; yea, ' daily' noteth not only 
continual readiness, but the frequency of our conflicts ; as if every day 
there were some exercise of our faith and patience. If God keep us to 
the cross all the days of our lives, we must be content. Once more, 
taking up the cross daily showeth that private and personal calamities 
are a part of the cross as well as the afflictions of the gospel. Afflic 
tions from God as well as afflictions for God ; such as sickness, death 
of friends, loss of estate, by an ordinary providence ; though not en 
during persecution for the name of Christ, yet enduring affliction at 
the will of Christ. Ordinary crosses do not exclude the comforts of 
Christianity. These occasion experience of God and trial of grace, 
and are a part of God's discipline for the mortifying of sin, happy 
opportunities to discover more of God to us ; yea, there is more reason 
of submission to God in these, because God taketh us into his own 
hands. A man that stormeth when a bucket of water is cast upon 
him is patient when wet to the skin with the rain that cometh from 
heaven. Well, then, we must be daily ready for all these things ; if 
we take up the profession of stricter Christianity with other thoughts, 
we should soon see our mistake. It is a vain thing to flatter ourselves 
with the hopes of a total exemption ; many think they may be good 
Christians, and yet live a life of ease and peace, free from troubles and 
afflictions. This is all one as if a soldier going to the wars should 
promise himself peace and continual truce with the enemy ; or as if a 
mariner committing himself to the sea for a long voyage should pro 
mise himself nothing but fair weather and a calm sea without waves 
and storms ; so irrational is it for a Christian to promise himself a life 
of ease and rest here upon earth. 

2. Be prepared for them, otherwise our looking for them is in vain ; 
and to this end would Christ have us reckon upon the cross, that we 
may be forewarned. He that buildeth a house doth not take care that 
the rain should not descend upon it, or the storm should not beat upon 
it, or the wind blow upon it ; there is no fencing against these things, 
they cannot be prevented by any care of ours ; but that the house may 
be able to endure all this without prejudice. And he that buildeth a 
ship doth not make this his work, that it should never meet with waves 
and billows, that is impossible ; but that it may be tight and stanch, 
and able to endure all weathers. A man that taketh care for his body 
doth not cark for this, that he meet with no change of weather, hot 


and cold, but how his hotly may hear all this. Thus should Christians 
do ; not so much take care how to shift and avoid afflictions, but how 
to bear them witli an even and quiet mind. See Chrysostom, Horn. 
35, in 1 Cor. As we cannot hinder the rain from falling upon the 
house, nor the waves from heating upon the ship, nor change of 
weather and seasons from affecting the body, so it is not in our power 
to hinder the falling out of afflictions and tribulations ; all that lieth 
upon us is to make provision for such an hour that we be not over 
whelmed by it. We need get a stock of spiritual comforts, that all 
may be peace within when trouble without ; and as afflictions abound, 
so may comforts. We had need get a sound back, be much morti 
fied, and weaned from the vanities of the world : Heb. xii. 13, ' And 
make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned 
out of the way, but rather let it be healed.' If we have any weak part 
in our souls, there the assault will be most strong and fierce. A gar 
rison that looketh to be besieged taketh care to fortify the weak places ; 
so should a Christian mortify every corrupt inclination, those that are 
most pleasing. We need much resolution. A Christian had need be 
a resolved man, well shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, 
Eph. vi. 15, or else in a hard way he will soon founder and halt. That 
eVo^acrta, that preparation, is a resolved mind, to go through thick 
and thin, and to follow Christ in all conditions : Acts xxi. 13, erot/&>? 
e'x&>, ' I am ready not only to be bound, but to die at Jerusalem for 
the name of the Lord Jesus/ A well-shielded established mind in the 
comfort and hope of the gospel ; unless we be thus prepared and armed 
with a mortified heart, and a thorough persuasion of the truth and worth 
of gospel privileges, and thereupon a resolution to encounter all diffi 
culties and hardships, we shall not long be faithful to Christ ; but after 
we have launched out into the deep with him we shall be ready to run 
ashore again. Now most Christians are not mortified, and so they trip 
up their own heels. Most Christians are not resolved, and so take 
to religion as a walk for recreation, not a journey, so as to be prepared 
for all weathers. 

3. When they come, bear them with more patience. A resolution 
which we thought strong out of a trial, is often found weak in a trial ; 
for we have other apprehensions of things when we know them by 
experience, of what we have when we know them only by guess and 
imagination. Therefore, notwithstanding expectation and preparation, 
there must be a care of patience in troubles and afflictions, that we 
bear them with an equal and Christian mind ; not suffering as per 
force, by compulsion and constraint, but willingly : it is not enough 
to bear the cross, but according to Christ's law we must take it up. 
It is said of the three children, Dan. iii. 28, that they yielded their 
bodies willingly, cheerfully suffered themselves to be cast into the 
furnace, rather than worship any but the true God. Many suffer, but 
it is unwillingly, and with repining and impatience, under the hand of 
God, like refractory oxen that draw back, and are loath to submit their 
necks to the yoke. Patience perforce, is no true patience, little better 
than the suffering of the devils and damned in hell, who suffer misery 
and torment against their wills. Rebellion, murmuring, and want of 
subjection is the very curse of crosses : the sacrifice that went strug- 

VER. 153.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 129 

gling to the altar among the heathen was counted unlucky. Two 
things feed this impatience : 

[1.] Men think none suffer as they do : ' Is any sorrow like unto my 
sorrow ?' Lam. i. 21. Every one hath the greatest sense of his own 
burden, therefore they think none hath so heavy and grievous an one 
as they have. It were well if they did this in feeling of sin. Paul 
felt his burden greatest in that respect : 1 Tim. i. 15, ' Christ Jesus 
came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief/ But alas ! 
in afflictions, all God's children have their trials ; many fare more 
grievous. When you lament the feared loss of an only child, what 
think you of the Virgin Mary ? Luke ii. 35, ' A sword shall pierce 
through thy soul/ Generally, 1 Peter v. 9, ' The same afflictions are 
accomplished in your brethren that are in the world/ Every Christian 
hath his measure of hardship and suffering ; you are not singular and 
alone ; your lot is no harder than the rest of the saints of God through 
the world ; others are poor, and carry it well, and are cheerful ; such 
an one under a painful disease, very patient in an acute fever, racked 
with stone, c. If they, why not thou ? 

[2.] They could bear any other cross but this that is now upon 
them. Christ biddeth us to take up the cross indefinitely, whatever 
God is pleased to lay upon us ; we must not be our own carvers, but 
stand to God's allowance. The wise physician knoweth in what vein 
to strike. God knoweth us best, and what is fit for us. Many in their 
troubles wish God would afflict them in any other kind, lay any trouble 
upon them but that which is laid, and think they could bear it better. 
The poor man wisheth any other cross but poverty ; the sick man he 
could bear poverty better than pain or sickness ; he that hath a long 
and lingering sickness wisheth for a sharp fit, so it might be short ; 
e contra, another that hath a sharp and violent sickness had rather 
have a lingering distemper. Thus apt are we to dislike our cross 
which God layeth on us for the present. This is disobedience and 
folly too ; for if God should leave us to ourselves to choose our own 
crosses, we should choose that affliction which is hurtful and danger 
ous for us. 

Doct. 2. That in our afflictions we should run to God by prayer. 
So doth David here, so should we. 

1. We may do so. 

2. We must do so. 

1. We may do so ; we have leave to come to God. Affliction is a 
fruit of sin, a part of the curse, introduced into the world upon the 
breach of the old covenant ; yet then the throne of grace standeth 
open for us : when God seemeth most angry, we have liberty to come 
to hinL In afflictions we are apt to think God an enemy, and that 
he beginneth to put the old covenant in suit against us ; but our 
trouble should not be our discouragement, but our excitement ; the 
throne of grace was for such an hour : Heb. iv. 16, ' Let us come 
boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find 
grace to help in time of need ;' and it is God's allowance : James Y. 13, 
' Is any among you afflicted ? let him pray : is any merry? let him 
sing psalms/ 

2. We must come ; it is a duty God hath required at our hands : 



Ps. 1. 15, * Call upon me in the day of trouble ;' and Job xxii. 27, 
' Thou shalt make thy prayer, and he shall hear thee, and thou shalt 
pay thy vows.' God will have us come and speak to him in our 
most serious frame, and act faith by putting promises in suit, and 
take new vows and resolutions to part with sin, when we feel the bitter 
effects of it. He knoweth it preventeth distracting fears and cares, 
when we can commend our condition to his pity and powerful provi 
dence: Phil. iv. 7, in every thing we are to make our requests 
known to God ; and he knoweth this maketh us sensible of his provi 
dence and dominion over us in all conditions. Prayer is an acknow 
ledgment of his sovereignty over all causes and events ; the affliction 
could not come without his appointment, nor go away without his 
leave : it is a kind of breaking prison, to hope to get through without 
supplication to God : Job xxxiv. 28, 29, ' So that they cause the cry 
of the poor to corhe unto him, and he heareth the cry of the afflicted : 
when he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble ? and when he 
hideth his face, who then can behold him ? whether it be against a 
nation, or against a person only. 5 

Use 1. It informeth us of the goodness of God, that he is willing 
to receive us upon any terms. When afflictions drive us to him, he 
doth not turn away his face from us. Those very prayers that are 
extorted from us by necessity, he accepts as a piece of worship done to 
him, provided we do not neglect him upon other occasions, for that is 
hypocrisy : Job xxvii. 10, ' Will he delight himself in the Almighty ? 
let him always call upon God.' We ought not therefore to be dis 
couraged if our acquaintance with God begin in the time of our afflic 
tions, and these set us a-work to think of him. Man will say, You 
come to me in your necessity ; but then God is willing to receive us. 
Christ had never heard of many, if their necessities had not brought 
them to him palsy, possession, deaf, dumb, fevers. Long would God 
sit upon the throne of grace unemployed if he did not send trouble 
and secret rack with it to bring us into his presence ; so that that 
which in appearance doth drive us off from him, doth in effect make 
us draw near to him. 

2. It informeth us of the folly of them that neglect God in their 
troubles : Dan. ix. 13, ' All this is come upon us, yet made we not our 
prayer before the Lord our God.' You defeat the dispensation ; now 
you should make up your former negligence. When we are pressed 
hard on all hands it should put an edge upon our prayers, otherwise 
our afflictions will turn to a sad account ; when God sendeth a tempest 
after us, and this will not bring us back to him ; we are summoned to 
make our appearance, and will not come. Joab would not come till 
Absalom set his barley-field on fire. 

Use 2. To encourage us to come to God in pur afflictions. Now is 
a time to put the promises in suit, to begin an interest if we have none, 
to make use of it if we have any ; then our weakness and nothingness 
is discovered, that we may more apply ourselves to God ; and a time 
of need will be a time of help : Ps. xlvL 1, ' God is a refuge for us, a 
very present help in trouble ? that is, when trouble is trouble indeed, 
ten therefore we should call for it most earnestly ; a necessitous crea 
ture is a fit object for mercy. You expound providences amiss if you 

VER. 153.J SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 131 

think afflictions are a casting off. No ; they are God's voice calling 
you, nay, his hand pulling you to kirn. Blessed seasons to bring God 
and us together ; then God's aim is accomplished : Hosea v. 15/1 will 
go, and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and 
seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early;' Isa. xxvi. 
16, ' Lord in trouble have they visited thee ; they poured out a prayer 
when thy chastening was upon them/ Afflictions do not work thus 
simply, for then they would work upon all, but as accompanied with 
some drawings of the Spirit. Every condition is blessed when it 
bringeth you nearer unto God ; though crosses be great trials to any, 
yet if they chase us to the throne of grace, God is not wholly gone, but 
hath left somewhat behind him to draw us to him. It is desertion in 
point of felicity, but not in point of grace. 

Doct. 3. One great request of the children of God in prayer is that 
he would consider their affliction. 

This David promisetk in the first place. So elsewhere : Ps. cxxxii. 

I, 'Kemember David, Lord, and all his afflictions/ He beggetk 
God to take notice of his person and condition. So also Ps. xxv. 18, 
* Look upon my affliction and my pain, and forgive all my sins/ He 
beggeth that his groans might not be passed over. So Hezekiah, Isa. 
xxxvii. 17, where many words are used to this effect : * Incline thine 
ear, Lord, and hear ; open thine eyes, and see, and hear all the 
words that Sennacherib hath sent to reproach the living God/ If God 
would but take notice, hear, and see, all would be well. And as for 
personal calamities, so in public and church cases : Ps. Ixxx. 14, 
' Keturn, we beseech thee, Lord God of hosts ; look down from 
heaven, and behold, and visit this vine/ If God will but come and 
see, it is enough. So in the Lamentations, chap. i. 9, ' Lord, behold 
my affliction, for the enemy hath magnified himself/ So again, ver. 

II, ' See, Lord, and consider, for I am become vile/ Yet again, 
ver. 20, ' Behold, Lord, for I am in distress/ Thus do the chil 
dren of God lay open their miseries before him, in confidence of his 

But why do the children of God press this point so earnestly, as if 
they did d'oubt of his providence and omnisciency ? God knoweth all 
things, and can forget nothing. I answer 

1. Though God be not ignorant and unmindful of our condition, 
yet we are to put him in remembrance : Isa. Ixii. 6, ' Ye that make 
mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest, till he 
establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth/ Christ 
is the advocate, we are solicitors and remembrancers for others, and 
humble supplicants for ourselves. Indeed, in so doing, we do not put 
God in^mind, but put ourselves in mind of the providence of God, 
which is most graciously conversant about us in our afflicted condi 
tion, which is a great comfort and support to us. The moving of God 
to consider begets faith in us tkat he will consider ; and so we wrestle 
with God, that we may catch a heat ourselves. 

2. The sight of misery is a real argument. It is clear that we are to 
use arguments in prayer ; for God dealeth with us as rational crea 
tures, and as such we are to deal too with him. Now, among argu 
ments, our afflictions and miseries are real ones ; they have a voice 


to work upon his pity, and to move him to have mercy upon us. He 
being inclined to compassion, his eye doth affect his heart, as a beggar, 
to move pity, will not only plead with his tongue, but uncover his 
sores ; so do the saints lay open their misery, and unfold their estate 
before the Lord ; for God so loveth his people, that the very show of 
their miseries moveth him to help them. Thus God saith that he 
would show mercy to his people, ' for I have seen with mine eyes/ 
Zech. ix. 8. God seeth our case, and every degree of our trouble is 
marked by him, which bringeth it the nearer to his heart; yea, God's 
people themselves are comforted under their saddest sufferings by the 
Lord's seeing and marking thereof : Ps. x. 14, ' Thou hast seen it, 
for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it with thy hand.' 
It is enough to them thou hast seen it. So Ps. xxxi. 7, ' I will be 
glad and rejoice, in thy mercy, for thou hast considered my trouble, 
and known my soul in adversities/ It is a mighty comfort that God 
hath an eye upon them in particular, and hath friendly affections 
towards them. 

3. The Lord is said to consider when he doth in effect declare his 
not forgetting, or remembering us for good; and therefore, though 
God cannot but see and consider our trouble, yet we cannot rest satisfied 
with it, till by real effects he maketh it evident, that we may know, 
and all the world may know, that he doth consider us, and regard our 
condition ; and this is that which saints beg so earnestly, that he 
would, by some act or work, experiment the truth, or make it appear 
that he hath heard and seen and taken notice of our sorrows. Though 
the saints believe his omnisciency and particular providence, yet they 
cannot rest satisfied till they feel it by some effect, by giving real 
support or help in need, according to covenant ; and so must all the 
places before mentioned be interpreted. 

Use. When we, or the church of God, or any of the people of God, 
are in any distress 

1. Let us go to God and beg that we may see, and the world may 
see, that he hath regard to us in our sorrows, and doth not wholly 
pass us over. To this end, impress upon your hearts the belief of 
these two things the eye of his pity, and the arm of his power. 

[1.] The eye of his pity, which is more than bare omnisciency ; ifc 
imports his knowledge accompanied with a tender love. This is often 
spoken of in scripture : Exod. ii. 28, ' God looked on the children of 
Israel, and had respect to them.' So Exod. iii. 7, 'And the Lord 
said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, 
and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters, and have 
known their sorrows;' Acts vii. 34, 18a>v elSov, 'I have seen, I have seen 
the affliction of my people ;' or seeing, I have seen. The very sight of 
God is a comfort and support to a sinking soul ; it is some comfort to 
us to have our crosses known to such as we are assured do love us, if 
they condole with us, though they be not able to help us ; so that the 
Lord looketh upon us with a merciful, pitiful eye. 

[2.] As God will cast the eye of his pity on us, so he will put forth 
the arm of his power ; as he hath a merciful eye, so he hath a power 
ful hand, ready to help; though sometimes we see nothing of this: 
2 Chron. xvi. 9, ' For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout 

VER. 153.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 133 

the earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart 
is perfect towards him/ There is his care and effective providence. 

2. Be sure you keep up your qualification : ' I do not forget thy 
law.' Many times when men in their prosperity do not regard God 
and his commandments, he regardeth them in their straits ; for though 
we forget the duty of children, he doth not forget the mercies of a 
father. But surely he will not forget them that do not forget his 
law ; therefore it is not credible that God should forget us and our 
condition, that we should be more mindful of his law than he of our 
affliction. He that puts us in mind of his law will also put himself 
in mind of the troubles we endure for the keeping of it ; for certainly 
God is more mindful of his part of the covenant than we can be of 
ours. See Christ's argument, John xvii. 10, ' And all mine are thine, 
and thine are mine, and I am glorified in them/ 

Doct. 4. We may ask deliverance from temporal troubles ; not only 
support, but deliverance. So doth David. 

1. God hath promised: Ps. 1. 15, 'Call upon me in the day of 
trouble ; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me/ 

2. Much of God is discovered in it. His wisdom : 2 Peter ii. 9, 
' The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation/ 
We are at a loss many times, but God is never at a loss. His power: 
Dan. iii. 17, 'If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver 
us, and he will deliver us out of thy hand, king;' when the wrath 
of the king was great, and the fiery furnace burning before them. 
His goodness : God is sufficiently inclined to it by his own grace, and 
delights to do it : Ps. cxlix. 4, ' The Lord taketh pleasure in his 
people; he will beautify the meek with salvation/ He loveth the 
person of believers, and loveth their prosperity and happiness, and 
delighteth to see them do well in the world. He hath pleasure in the 
prosperity of his servants, Ps. xxxv. 27, which is a good encourage 
ment to pray for it : 2 Sana. xiv. 1, ' Joab perceived that the king's 
heart was towards Absalom.' Yea, not only his love, but the con 
stancy and unweariedness of his love : 2 Cor. i. 10, ' Who delivereth 
us from so great a death, and doth deliver ; in whom we trust that he 
will yet deliver us/ There are all respects of time. Solomon saith, 
Prov. xxv. 17, ' Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour's house, lest 
he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.' Men waste by giving, but I Am 
is God's name ; we still need, and he is still a-giving : 2 Tim. iii. 11, 
1 Thou hast fully known my persecutions, afflictions, which came unto 
me at Antioch, &c. ; but out of them all the Lord delivered me/ So 
many troubles, so many gracious experiences of God : Ps. xxxiv. 19, 
* Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth 
them out of them all;' Job v. 19, 'He shall deliver thee in six 
troubles, yea, in seven shall no evil touch thee.' Seven is the num 
ber of perfection. God can and doth deliver us as often as we need 
deliverance ; when clouds return after the rain, or one evil treadeth 
on the heels of another ; he hath a succession of mercies, for our suc 
cession of sorrows. We are dismayed when we see one trouble is 
over and another cometh. We have the same God still, the same 
certainty of his mercy in delivering. Many times God so delivereth 
that the troublers of his people shall come in their room : Prov. xi. 8, 


* The righteous is delivered out of trouble, and the wicked cometh in 
his stead ; ' as the leprosy of Naaman went to Gehazi. His faithful 
ness, which he hath laid at pledge with us, that he will make a way 
to escape: 1 Cor. x. 13, ' God is faithful, who will not suffer you to 
be tempted above what you are able ; but will with the temptation 
also make a way for you to escape, that you may be able to bear it/ 
His dominion and sovereignty : Ps. xliv. 4, ' Thou art my king, 
God ; command deliverances for Jacob.' He hath all things at his 
command, all second causes, the hearts of his enemies. 

3. We have greater opportunities to serve God: Ps. cxix. 134, 
' Deliver me from the oppression of man, so will I keep thy precepts ; ' 
Luke i. 74, 75, ' That he would grant unto us that we, being delivered 
out of the hands* of our enemies, should serve him without fear, in holi 
ness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.' 

Use. They are too nice that think we may not ask of God temporal 
mercies. It is lawful to ask them if we ask them lawfully, with a 
submission to God, and for his glory, that we may serve him more 
cheerfully ; so you may ask a deliverance out of your troubles. 

Doct. 5. Those that would have God to deliver them out of their 
afflictions should be sure they do not forsake their duty. 

All the evil that David suffered could not weaken his love to the 
law of God, nor draw him from the obedience of it. And what was 
the issue ? He pleadeth this in prayer to God. 

Reason 1. Because if we do so, the nature of our sufferings is altered, 
both as to God and man. As to man, we do not suffer as evil-doers : 
1 Peter iv. 15, ' But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, 
or as an evil-doer, or as a busy-body in other men's matters ; ' which 
will much darken our comfort and glory in suffering ; though for the 
main you have an interest in God, if by your miscarriage you have 
deserved the stroke of human justice. As to God, your sufferings are 
not castigatory, but probatory : Kev. ii. 10, ' The devil shall cast some 
of you into prison, that you may be tried ; ' not punished, but tried. 

Reason 2. Because uprightness giveth boldness with God in prayer : 
1 John iii. 21, 'If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence 
towards God.' So Paul showeth he was capable of their prayers, or a 
fit object of them : Heb. xiii. 18, ' Pray for us ; for we trust we have a 
good Conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.' It is an error 
to think that justification giveth us only comfortable access to God, 
and sanctification hath no influence at all upon it. We lie in some 
secret sin^ then our plea is spoiled. If God give thee a heart to adhere 
close to him in a constant course of obedience, the more you may be 
assured to be delivered. The joy of our faith is mightily confirmed by 
the conscience of our constant respect and observance of the word of 
God, and firm adherence to him. 

Use. If we would boldly come to God in our straits, let us not forget 
or forsake our duty, nor throw off the profession of godliness, whatever 
we suffer from men : Ps. xliv. 17, ' All this is come upon us, yet have 
we not forgotten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy covenant.' 
lea, from God ; though he seem to cast us off, taketh no care of us : 
Job xiil 15, ' Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him/ Diogenes 

VER. 154.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 135 

Laertius telleth us of a cynic that went to Athens to Antisthenes to 
be taught by him; when often met with a repulse, yet still insisted on 
his request. 


Plead my cause, and deliver me : quicken me according to thy 
ivord. VER. 154. 

IN this verse are three requests, and all backed with one and the same 

1. The three requests are 

[1.] That God would own his cause. 

[2.] Deliver him out of his troubles. 

[3.] And in the meantime, before the deliverance came, quicken 

In the first he intirnateth the right of his cause, and that he was 
unjustly vexed by wicked men ; therefore, as burdened with their 
calumnies, he desireth God to undertake his defence, ' plead my 

In the second he representeth the misery and helplessness of his 
condition ; therefore, as oppressed by violence, he saith, ' deliver me ; ' 
or, as the words will bear, ' redeem me/ 

In the third ; his own weakness and readiness to faint under this 
burden ; therefore, ' quicken me/ 

Or, in short, with respect to the injustice of his adversaries, 'plead 
my cause ; ' with respect to the misery of his condition, ' deliver me ; ' 
with respect to the weakness and imbecility of his own heart, ' quicken 
me/ God is his people's patron, to defend their cause ; his people's 
redeemer, to rescue them out of their troubles ; the author and foun 
tain of their life, to quicken them and support them : accordingly we 
may beg of him, as the Psalmist doth here, defence of our cause, the 
deliverance of our persons, and the support of our hearts. 

2. The reason and ground of asking, ' According to thy word/ This 
last clause must be applied to all the branches of the prayer : plead 
my cause, according to thy word ; deliver me, according to thy word ; 
quicken me, according to thy word : for God in his word engageth for 
all, to be advocate, redeemer, and fountain of life. This word that 
David buildeth upon was either the general promises, made to them 
that keep the law, or some particular promise made to himself by the 
prophets of that time. The sum of all is this : If we believe the word 
of God to be true, we may in a righteous cause with comfort and con 
fidence ask defence, deliverance, and support. 

I begin with the first request, plead my cause. 

Doct. When we have to do with unjust and wicked adversaries, we 
should desire God to plead our cause ; or, as the original will bear, to 
judge our judgment, or contend our contention Kplvov rrjv 
, Septuagint litiga litem meam. So others. 

There is a threefold cause that cometh usually into debate : 


1. Inter hominem et hominem, between man and man ; as between 
the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent : Gen. iii. 15, ' And 
I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed 
and her seed : it shall bruise thy head, and thou'shalt bruise his heel ;' 
those that are born after the flesh, and those that are born after the 
spirit : Gal. iv. 29, * He that was born after the flesh persecuted him 
that was born after the spirit ; ' the children of God and men of this 
world : John xv. 19, * If ye were of the world, the world would love its 
own ; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out 
of the wflrld, therefore the world hateth you.' As between wolf and 
lamb, raven and dove. This is an old controversy, that will never be 
reconciled. It is often set afoot in kingdoms, in cities, in townships, 
in villages, and families, and will continue till the world's end. For 
while there are t\f o seeds, there will be strifes and enmities. Now, in 
this quarrel and strife, sometimes success is cast on this side, some 
times on that, as God seeth fit either to favour, or to try and correct 
his servants. Usually the world prevaiieth, being more numerous ; 
only let me tell you, this controversy doth not always appear to the 
world unveiled or bare-faced. Enmity to godliness is such an odious 
thing in itself, and hath so often miscarried, that it is not for its interest 
to appear openly and in its own colours, but under the mask and dis 
guise of other pretences, which are the more plausibly taken on when 
the holy seed have scandalised their profession, and made the way of 
truth to be evil-spoken of ; and yet it is the old enmity and antipathy 
still, as appeareth by the parties contesting, their aims and designs, 
and the means and ways they use to compass them, with scorning of 
faith and piety, 

2. Inter hominem et didbolum, between man and the devil : he is 
called avriSiKos, the adversary, 1 Peter v. 8, ' Your adversary the devil 
like a roaring lion walketh about continually seeking whom he may 
devour ; ' and such an adversary as hath law of his side, and by law 
would carry it against all the children of fallen Adam, if there were 
not a new court erected, where grace taketh the throne. So Kev. xii. 
10, he is called ' the accuser of the brethren ; ' but it is our comfort 
that as there is an accuser, so there is an advocate : 1 John ii. 1, ' If 
any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the 
righteous, who also is the propitiation for our sins.' We shall do well 
to put our cause into his hands, and then it cannot miscarry. Satan 
will not be more ready to accuse than Christ to plead for us ; and he 
hath a greater interest in the court of heaven than our adversary hath, 
stronger arguments to plead, merits to represent ; therefore make him 
your attorney, to appear iii court for you. 

3. Inter hominem et Deum. God hath a controversy with us about 
the breach of his law, and our undutiful carriage to him. Now you 
can never reason it out with God. It was Job's presumption to think 
that he could order his cause before him : Job xxiii. 3-5, ' Oh that I 
knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat ! I 
would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments : 
I would know the words which he would answer me ; and understand 
what he would say unto me.' No ; there is no trusting to the equity 
of our cause, or hope to clear ourselves before God's judgment-seat. 

VER. 154.1 SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 137 

We have no way left but submitting and humbling ourselves, and 
suing out our pardon in a broken-hearted manner ; no way but yield 
ing to the justice of the first covenant, and putting in the plea of favour 
and grace according to the second : Ps. cxxx. 3, 4, ' If thou, Lord, 
shouldest mark iniquity, Lord, who can stand ? but there is forgive 
ness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.' If you deny or excuse 
sin, you stick to the first covenant, and plead innocency, and then God 
will deal with you according to the tenor of strict justice ; but if you 
Jmmbly confess sin, and acknowledge your guiltiness and shame, then 
you may plead mercy. Justice dealeth with the innocent, mercy with 
the guilty. 

We speak now of the first, of the strife between men and men, or 
the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, who do not only 
oppress them by violence, but seem to have a plea against them in law, 
because of the seeming justice of their quarrel, and the calumnies and 
slanders wherewith they burden their cause. Therefore David beggeth 
God to plead his cause for him ; and elsewhere, that God would stand 
by him, not only as a champion and second, but as a patron and advo 
cate : Ps. xxxv. 1, ' Plead my cause against them that strive with me ; 
fight against them that fight against me ; ' as they allege false things 
against him, and condemn him as being in an evil cause and evil way ; 
so plead my cause against them that strive with me ; as they opposed 
him with violence, so fight against them that fight against me. 

In this point 

1. The nature of God's pleading our cause. 

2. The necessity of it. 

3. What hopes there are that he will plead the cause of his people. 
First, The nature of this pleading would first be explained ; and 


1. In what quality God pleadeth for us. In all judicial proceedings 
there are the principal contending persons, and those are called ultor 
et reus, the plaintiff and defendant ; and the manner of proceeding in 
judgment is, that the plaintiff bringeth forth his bill, and the defen 
dant his answer. But besides these principal contending persons, there 
are the witnesses, the advocate, the judge. Now, in some sense God 
might be all these, testis, advocatus, et judex, without any wrong 
and injustice. Our witness to attest for us, as he knoweth all things, 
and knoweth our hearts ; for as such do the saints often appeal to him. 
Our advocate to plead for us, for he is tender of the credit of his peo 
ple, and hath undertaken to preserve them from the strife of tongues : 
Ps. xxxi. 20, ' Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from 
the pride of men, thou shalt keep them secretly in thy pavilion from 
the strife of tongues.' As a judge to give sentence in our behalf, or 
such a decree whereby the adversary may be convinced of our right 
eous cause, and our innocency cleared ; and all this may be called 
God's pleading, either as testis, advocatus, or judex. But I rather 
confine it to the last. God's pleading is rather as a judge ; not as 
advocatus, but as patronus ; that is a more proper and honourable 
name. Zonaras tells us that the Komans called their patrons TOV? 
K^ejjioviKovs ; and it was enacted in the law of the twelve tables, si 
patronus clienti fraudem fecerit, sacer esto. If any man had deceived 


his client, he was accursed, devoted to slaughter, and any man might 
kill him. Glientes quasi colentes, patroni quasi patres, saith Servius. 
So that to deceive a client was as to deceive a son. This was begun 
hy Komulus, who commended the common people and worser sort to 
the nobles, leaving every man his liberty to choose whom he would 
for his patron ; and that defence of them was called patronage ; and 
the jus patronatus during this constitution consisted in these duties 
and offices ; they were to defend the poor in judgment, to answer for 
them in all points of law ; they were to take care of them that none 
might wrong them present or absent ; they were omnem accusatoris 
impetum sustinere ; and this jus patronatus was of such authority 
among the ancients, that Marcus Cato telleth us that first the name of 
father was most sacred, next that of patron. It were long to say all 
that might be said of them ; this is enough, that their principal work 
was to be present at all causes wherein their poor client was concerned, 
and to appear for him and defend him, as they would their own cause. 
Advocates were taken in afterwards, when laws were multiplied, to 
suggest what was law ; they were men skilful in the law. See Hall's 
lexicon. Now thus it is G-od pleads the cause of his people as their 
patron, who hath taken them into his tutelage and clientship ; not as 
interceder, but defender. They have betaken themselves to his tui 
tion, and desire to honour and serve him ; God will therefore take part 
with them against their enemies. He doth not only hear pleas and 
debates on either side, but mterposeth as the patron and chief party 
concerned in the strife, and having withal the power of a judge, will 
pass sentence on their behalf, and see it executed. 

2. The manner of God's pleading. It is not a verbal or vocal, but 
a real and active plea. God pleadeth not by words, but by deeds, by 
his judgments, and powerful providence, righting the wrongs done to 
them. For since, as I said, there concur in God the relations of judex 
and pair onus, he maketh the one serviceable to the other. As their 
patronus he owneth the cause, taketh it upon himself, as the answer 
able party, and then useth his judicial power in defence of his people. 
Now the property of a judge is to pronounce sentence, and then to put 
his sentence in execution. God hath pronounced sentence in his word, 
and he puts the sentence in execution in his providence ; and that is 
God's pleading. Many times there is sententia lata, but dilata ; long 
ago was sentence passed, but it is not speedily executed, Eccles. viii. 11. 
Because sentence is not speedily executed upon an evil-doer, therefore 
dp they vaunt and insult over his people, as if God had forsaken and 
disclaimed them, and would never more own their cause and quarrel ; 
but when God seeth fit to appear, and to show himself in this mixed 
relation of judge and patron, the world will have other thoughts of 
their cause ; and therefore, Isa. iii. 1?, ' The Lordstandeth up to plead, 
and standeth to judge his people.' He will bring matters under a 
review, and will powerfully show himself against their oppressors. To 
this pleading Job allucleth when he saith, Job xxiii. 6, ' Will he plead 
against me with his great power ? ' if he should use his almighty and 
invincible power^ against me, he would easily ruin me. So Ezek. 
:xxviii. 22, ' I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood;' 
against Gog and Magog, that is, the Scythians, Turks, and Tartars. 

VER. 154.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 139 

So that you see that God's pleading is not by speaking, or by word of 
mouth, but by the vengeance of his providence against those that 
wrong his people. So against Babylon : Jer. li. 36, ' Thus saith the 
Lord, Behold I will plead thy cause, and take vengeance for thee/ 
But that this is a mixed act of patron and judge, see Micah vii. 9, 
' I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against 
him ; until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will 
bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness/ 
When God's people provoke him to anger by their sins, he casteth 
them into troubles; and then their adversaries are chief, and their 
cause is much darkened and obscured : all this while God is pleading 
against them, but it is not the enemies' quarrel, but his own vindica 
tion of abused mercy and goodness. But when once the controversy 
is taken up between God and them, by their submission, and clearing 
his justice, and imploring his mercy, then God will plead their cause, 
and take their part against the instruments of his vengeance (and clear 
their righteous cause), who only sought their own ends in afflicting 
them. When God hath exercised their humility and patience, he will 
thus do. And how, I pray you, will he plead for them ? The text 
saith there, by executing judgment for them ; that is, by putting his 
sentence in execution, and then will restore to them their wonted privi 
leges, and own them in the public view of all, and make manifest they 
are his : he will bring them forth to the light, and they shall see his 

3. The effect of God's pleading, which is the clearing of God's 
people, and the convincing of their adversaries ; which God doth 
partly by the eminency and notableness of the providences whereby he 
delivereth his people, and the marks of his favour put upon them : 
Neh. vi. 16, ' And it came to pass that when all our enemies heard 
thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these things, they 
were much cast down in their own eyes ; for they perceived that this 
work was wrought of our God.' Their own judgments were convinced 
of their folly in opposing the Jews ; the extraordinary success showed 
the hand of God was in it : by such incredible and remarkable occur 
rences doth God bring about their deliverance. So Micah vii. 10, 
when God shall plead her cause, * Then she that is mine enemy 
shall see it, and shame shall cover her which said unto me, Where 
is the Lord thy God ? mine eyes shall behold her ; now shall she be 
trodden down as the mire of the streets.' Those who mocked her faith 
should be confounded at the sight of her deliverance. Thus God 
delights to make the happiness of his people conspicuous. So Eev. 
iii. 9, ' Behold I will make them which are of the synagogue of Satan 
(which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie), behold I will make 
them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have 
loved thee.' He will make their enemies to know that he hath loved 
them, and ask them forgiveness for the wrongs and outrages done to 
them. Partly by the convictions of his Spirit, undeceiving the world, 
and reproving them for the hatred and malice against his people : 
John xvi. 8, * The Comforter, when he is come, shall reprove the world 
of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment/ The word is eXeyfei, not 
comfort, but convince or reprove ; put them to silence, so as they shall 


not in reason gainsay. The object, the world, the unconverted, if not 
the reprobate. The things whereof convinced, of sin and righteous 
ness and judgment, of the truth of Christ's person and doctrine. 
This was spoken for the comfort of the disciples, who were to go 
abroad and beat the devil out of his territories, by the doctrine of the 
cross, that were weak men destitute of all worldly sufficiencies and 
props and aids. Their master suffered as a seducer, their doctrine 
cross to men's carnal interests, for them in this manner to venture 
upon the raging world was a heavy discouraging thing. Now the 
Spirit should come and convince the opposing world, so far that some, 
terrified before, brought to evangelical repentance : Acts ii. 37, ' Now 
when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart ; ' soon desire 
to share in their great privilege : Acts viii. 18, 19, * And when Simon 
saw that through laying on the apostles' hands, the Holy Ghost was 
given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that 
on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost ; ' 
but he was yet in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity. Some 
almost persuaded : Acts xxvi. 28, ' Then Agrippa said unto Paul, 
Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.' Some forced to 
magnify them, who did not join with them : Acts v. 13, ' And of the 
rest, durst no man join himself to them, but the people magnified 
them/ Some would have worshipped them, being yet pagans : Acts 
xiv. 11-13, c And when the people saw what Paul had done, they 
lift up their voices, saying, in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are 
come down to us in the likeness of men. Then the priests of Jupiter, 
which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, 
and would have done sacrifice with the people.' Others bridled that 
were afraid to meddle with them : Acts v. 34, 35, ' Then stood there 
up one in the council, a pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of law, 
had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the 
apostles forth a little space, and said unto them, Ye men of Israel, 
take heed to yourselves, what ye intend to do as touching these men.' 
That Christ, that Messiah, that righteous person, one able to vanquish 
the devil, thus without any visible force, and with mere spiritual 
weapons, by this conviction of the Spirit, did the Lord subdue the 
world to the owning and receiving Christ's kingdom ; at least, not 
go on in a high hand to oppose it. God cleared Christ as righteous, 
and Lord. 

Secondly, The necessity of this pleading. 

1. Because the people of God are often in such a condition that 
none will plead their cause unless the Lord plead it ; and therefore 
we are driven to him as our judge and patron. God's design is not 
to gain the world by pomp and force, but by spiritual evidence and 
power ; ^and therefore, as to externals, it is often worse with his people 
than with others ; for the world is upon their trial, and therefore 
though God will give sufficient means of conviction, yet not always 
such evident marks of his favour to the best cause in temporal things 
as that mere sense shall lead them to embrace it. No ; he will only 
set a good cause a-foot, and then suffer it to be exposed to the hatred 
of the \yorld, and sometimes to be overborne as to any temporal 
interest it can get, that the mere evidence and love of truth may gain 

YER. 154.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 141 

men, and not any secular motives. All the countenance and owning 
God will give to it is by infusing courage and constancy to his servants 
to suffer for it, and so they overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and 
not loving their lives to the death, Eev. xii. 11. He speaketh of such 
a time when the church seemeth weakest, like a poor woman travail 
ing ; and her enemies seem strongest, like a great red dragon ready 
to devour the child as soon as born. Now, though at such a time the 
church is overcoming, and the devil and his instruments are but 
pulling down their own throne, and establishing Christ's while they 
are shedding the blood of his saints, yet none of this appeareth and 
is visibly to be seen. Though suffering be a feeling and ratifying of 
the truth, yet to the world's eye it seemeth a suppressing and over 
bearing of it. Therefore few will own such a despised, hated, 
persecuted way ; and the difficulty is the greater when there is much 
of God's truth owned by the persecuting side, and the contest is not 
about the main of Christianity, but some lesser truths, and so the 
opposition is more disguised ; then certainly it may be said, Isa. lix. 
4, ' None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth ; ' all half 
friends are discouraged, therefore nothing is left the people of God, 
but their prayers, ' Lord plead my cause.' David in the text appealeth 
to God's judgment when he was deserted by men, burdened by pre 
judices, oppressed by man's wrong judgment. So often God's people 
are not able to defend themselves, and few in the world will own them, 
or be advocates for them, then God will take their cause in hand. In 
the civil law, if a man could not get an advocate, metu adversarii, the 
judge was to appoint him one to plead for him ; so God taketh notice 
of his people's condition : Jer. xxx. 13, ' There is none to plead thy 
cause, that thou mayest be bound up/ Often among men none can 
or dareth undertake the defence and patronage of oppressed right. 

2. Though we have a good cause and hopeful instruments, yet wo 
cannot plead it with any effect till God show himself from heaven. 
Nay, though the cause be never so right and just, and instruments and 
means hopeful, yet it requireth God's power to keep it afoot ; for the 
justice of the cause must not be relied on, nor probable means rested 
in ; but God must have the trust of the cause, and the glory of main 
taining it ; otherwise by our own ill managing, or by some secret and 
unseen opposition, it will miscarry : Ps. ix. 4, ' Thou hast maintained 
my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right/ 
This is a work wherein God will be seen, while it is in agitation, or 
under decision. God will have the trust, and when it is over, he will 
have all the glory. 

Thirdly, What hopes or grounds there are to expect that God will 
plead the cause of his people. 

1. He can. 

2. He will. Infinite power and infinite justice can do it. 

1. He can. The Lord is able ; he that pleadeth our cause hath 
infinite power : Prov. xxiii. 11, * Their redeemer is mighty, he shall 
plead their cause with thee.' It is easy to bear down a few afflicted 
creatures, that have no strength or heart to oppose, being in bonds, 
and under oppression ; but there is a mighty God, who when ho 
pleadeth any one's cause, he will do it to the purpose, really and 




effectually delivering them for whom he pleadeth : Jer. 1. 34, ' Their 
redeemer is strong, the Lord of hosts is his name ; he will thoroughly 
plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the 
inhabitants of Babylon/ 
2. He will, considering 

1.1 Their relation to God. 

2.1 God's relation to them and to the whole world. 

l.J Because of their relation to him. The dominus, the lord whom 
they had chosen, was to be their patronus. They that have put them 
selves under God's protection, and are faithful to him, keeping close 
to his word, he will plead their cause, and manage it as his own : Isa. 
li. 22, ' Thus saith thy Lord, the Lord and thy God, that pleadeth the 
cause of his people, Behold I have taken out of thy hand the cup of 
trembling, even tl;e dregs of the cup of my fury ; thou shalt no more 
drink it again.' He being their sovereign Lord, had undertaken to 
protect his servants ; he counteth the wrongs done to them done to 
himself : Acts ix. 4, ' Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me ?' especially 
since molested for his truth. 

S2.] Because of his relation to them. He is the supreme potentate 
the righteous judge of the world, and so bound by his office to 
defend the weak and innocent when oppressed : Ps. cxlvi. 7, ' He exe- 
cuteth judgment for the oppressed. Those that should maintain right 
upon earth, and punish wrongs, are often prevaricators ; but the judge 
of all the earth will do right ; he is an impartial judge, and will main 
tain the cause of his people : Prov. xxii. 22, 23, ' Bob 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/ Though no relation to him, yet, if poor, if afflicted, if destitute 
of human help, the Lord taketh himself tp be the patron of all such, 
much more his people. 

Use 1. To rebuke our fears and misgiving of heart. When we see 
the best men go to the wall, and to be made objects of scorn and 
spite, we are apt to say, as the church doth in the prophet Isaiah, 
chap. xl. 27, * My way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is 
passed over from my God;' that is, in effect, that God doth wholly 
neglect them, and will not plead their cause. Oh no ! He knoweth 
what strife there is between us and our adversaries, and how good our 
cause is, and how much he is concerned in it ; only we must wait his 
leisure, and bear his indignation until he plead. True submission to 
God ought to prescribe no day to him, but refer all to his will. 

Use 2. Let us commit our cause to the Lord, as the expression is, 
Job v. 8, ' I would seek unto God, and unto God would I commit my 
cause ;' who is the friend and advocate of the afflicted, and hath pro 
mised to be so, and to keep us from the hand of the wicked and the 
mouth of the wicked ; from their hand and violence so far as it shall 
be for his glory : Isa. xlix. 25, ' I will contend with him that contendeth 
with thee, and I will save thy children ;' and from the mouth of the 
wicked : Ps. v. 15, * He saveth the poor from the sword, and from their 
mouth, and from the hand of the mighty;' from slanders that may 
endanger their life and credit. So ver. 21, ' Thou shalt be hid from 

VER. 154.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 143 

the scourge of the tongue;' from their bitter reproaches. Therefore 
commit your cause to God. But then 

1. Be sure that your cause be good, for God will not be the patron 
of sin. Unless he hath passed sentence for us in his word, it is bold 
ness to appeal to him ; as Baalam, that would hire God by sacrifices 
to curse his people. Hasty appeals to God in our passion and revenge 
ful humours are a great dishonour to him. Sarah appealed : Gen. xv. 
3, 'The Lord judge between me and thee ;' and David appealed: 1 
Sam. xxiv. 15, ' The Lord therefore be judge, and judge between thee 
and me, and see and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thy hand.' 
But there was more. of justice in David's appeal in the case between 
him and Saul than in Sarah's appeal in the case between her and 
Abraham ; it would have been ill for her if God had taken her at her 
word ; it showeth that even God's children are too apt to intitle him 
to their private passions. 

2. Let us be sure that there be no controversy between God and our 
persons, when yet our cause is good. The Israelites had a good cause, 
Judges xx., but there was once and again a great slaughter made of 
them, before they had reconciled themselves to God. There must be 
a good conscience as well as a good cause, otherwise God will plead 
his controversy against us before he will plead our controversy against 
our enemies : Jer. ii. 35, ' Yet thou sayest, Because I am innocent, 
surely his anger will turn from me : behold I will plead with thee, 
because thou sayest I have not sinned.' Because we have a good 
cause, we think God hath no cause to be angry with us ; therefore he 
will first plead in judgment against us. So Hosea xii. 2, ' The Lord 
hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob accord 
ing to his ways, according to his doings will he recompense him/ 
Though God may approve what is right in worship and profession, 
yet he will punish our shameful disorders and unanswerable walking 
in his people. 

3. Let us pray in a right manner, with confidence, with earnestness. 
[1.] Confidence that God will plead our cause when he seeth it good 

and for his own glory, whether there be any likelihood of it, yea or 
no ; for he hath promised to support the weak and humble, and pro 
tect the innocent against their oppressors : Ps. cxl. 12, ' I know that 
the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the 
poor/ God is party with you, not against you, and leave him to his 
own ways and means. Faith should support us when sense yieldeth 
little comfort and hope. He knoweth how to justify your cause, and 
deliver your persons ; and you should know that he will do it, and can 
do it, though the way be not evident to you, and God seem to sit still 
for a while. 

u [2.] Earnestly. Oh ! be not cold in the church's suit. If you be 
Sion's friends^ and are willing to take share and lot with God's peo 
ple^ awaken him by your incessant cries. Nay, it is God's cause : Ps. 
Ixxiv. 22, ' Arise, Lord, plead thine own cause ; remember how the 
foolish man reproacheth thee daily/ The godly are not maligned for 
their sins, but their righteousness. So Ps. xxxv. 23, ' Stir up thyself, 
and awake to my judgment, even unto my cause, my God and my Lord/ 
There is a long suit depending between the church of God and her 


enemies; desire that God would determine it, and declare what is 
right and what is wrong. 

Secondly, He begged God in the text to redeem or deliver him ; the 

word in the text, *&$&, the usual word for goel, redeemer ; the Sep- 
tuagint, Xvrpcoorai pe, 'ransom me.' Here he craveth that as his cause 
might be in safety, so his person. 

Doct We may beg a deliverance or a release from our troubles, 
provided we do not beg it out of an impatiency of the flesh, but a 
desire of God's glory. 

God delights to be employed in this work. What hath he been 
doing all along in all ages of the world, but delivering his people from 
those that oppressed them ? He delivered Jacob from the fury of 
Esau ; Joseph from the malice of his brethren : Gen. xxxvii. 21, 
' And Keuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, say 
ing, Let us not kill him/ Daniel from the lions' den : Dan. vi. 22, 
' My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that 
they have not hurt me ; forasmuch as before him innocency was found 
in me, and also before thee, king, have I done no hurt.' Peter from 
prison: Acts xii. 11, ' And when Peter was come to himself, he said, 
Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath 
delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation 
of the people of the Jews/ And will not he do the like for his suffer 
ing servants ? How came his hand to be out ? he delivered Israel 
out of Egypt, out of Babylon ; he can do it again, it doth not cost him. 
much labour : Ps. Ixviii. 2, ' As smoke is driven away, so drive them 
away ; as wax inelteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the 
presence of God/ Therefore refer your deliverance to God, and whea 
you are in a way of duty, be not thoughtful about it : there is a price 
paid for it ; Christ redeemed us from temporal adversity so far as it 
may be a snare to us. God hath his times ; we may see it, unless he 
hath a mind to sweep away the unthankful and froward generation 
that provoked him to so much anger : Num. xiv. 22, 23, ' Because 
all those men that have seen my glory, and my miracles which I did 
in Egypt, in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, 
and have not hearkened unto my voice : surely they shall not see the 
land, which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that 
provoked me see it ;' Jer. xxix. 31, 32, ' Thus saith the Lord concern 
ing Shemaiah the Nehelamite, Because that Shemaiah hath prophesied 
unto you, and I sent him not, and he caused you to trust in a lie ; 
therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will punish Shemaiah the 
Nehelamite and his seed ; he shall not have a man to dwell among 
this people, neither shall he behold the good that I will do for my 
people, saith the Lord ; because he hath taught rebellion against the 
Lord/ It may be, we may be more broken and afflicted first : Deut 
xxxii. 36, ' For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for 
his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none 
shut up or left/ Oh ! let us desire to see the good of his chosen : Ps. 
cvi. 5, ' That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in 
the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance/ 
It is a favour : Ps. I. 23, ' Whoso offereth praise, glorifieth me ; to him 
that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God/ 

VER. 155.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 145 

Thirdly, For quickening, ( Quicken me ; ' in which he prayeth either 
to be kept alive till the promises be fulfilled, or rather to be comforted 
and encouraged in waiting. 

Doct. We need continual influence from God, and lively encourage 
ment, especially in our troubles. 

1. We are apt to faint before God showeth himself: Isa. Ivii. 16, 
' I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth ; for the 
spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made/ The 
devil's design is to tire and weary us out. Some are of a poor spirit, 
that they will tire before their strength faileth them : Prov. xxiv. 10, 
* If thou faint in a day of adversity, thy strength is but small.' Yea, 
there is a readiness to faint in the best through many troubles, delayed 
hopes. Those that have upheld others by their good counsel are apt 
to sink themselves. 

2. At least we are clogged, cannot so cheerfully wait upon God, and 
walk with him : Heb. xii. 12, ' Wherefore lift up the hands which 
hang down, and the feeble knees.' We grow weak, slothful, remiss 
in God's service. Fear and sorrow weakeneth the hands, indisposeth 
us for duty. 

Use. Let us encourage ourselves, rouse up our heavy hearts, and 
wait for God's quickening ; let us not give God cause by our negli 
gence to deny support to us. 


Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes. 

VER. 155. 

DAVID had begged his own deliverance, as one of God's servants or 
clients, in the former verse ; now he illustrateth his petition by show 
ing the opposite state of the wicked. They could not with such con 
fidence go to God, or put in such a plea for deliverance : ' Salvation 
is far from the wicked.' Some read it prayer-wise, Let salvation be 
far from the wicked ; for in the original the verb is understood, and it 
is only there, Salvation far from the wicked ; but most translations read 
it better proposition-wise ; for as the man of God comforts himself in 
his own interest and hopes, so also in this, that God would not take 
part with the wicked enemies against him, who had no interest at all 
in his salvation and protecting providence, and therefore would keep 
him from their rage. 
In the words 

1. An assertion. 

2. The reason of it. 

1. In the assertion we have the miserable condition of wicked men, 
salvation is far from them. 

2. In the reason we have the evil disposition of wicked men, ' They 
seek not thy law ; ' which will give us the true notion and description 
of them, who are wicked men ; such as seek not God's statutes, busy 
not themselves about religion, study not to please God. 



In the words two propositions : 

Doct. 1. That salvation is far from the wicked. 

Doct. 2. They are wicked who keep not God's statutes. 

Doct. 1. That salvation is far from the wicked. Salvation is of two 
sorts temporal and eternal. The proposition is true in both senses ; 
they are far from salvation, and salvation is far from them. To be 
far from salvation is to be in a dangerous case, as to be far from light 
is to be in extreme darkness. To be far from God's law, ver. 150, is 
to be extremely wicked ; to be far from oppression, Ps. liv. 14, is to 
be in a most safe condition. So that the point is 

That the wicked are in a very dangerous case, both as to their tem 
poral and eternal estate. 

First, Temporal salvation is far from them, and they are in a 
dangerous condition as to their outward happiness. This seemeth to 
be the harder part, and to have most of paradox in it ; but this will 
appear to you if you consider 

1. That all these outward things are at God's disposal, to give and 
take according to his own pleasure: Job. i. 21, ' The Lord gave, and 
the Lord hath taken away ; ' not the Sabeans and the Chaldeans : 
1 Sam. ii. 7, ' The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich ; he bringeth 
low, and lifteth up/ He that cast the world into hills and Galleys 
disposeth of the several conditions of men, that some shall be high 
and some low, some exalted, some dejected. All things that fall out in 
the world are not left to the dominion of fortune or blind chance, but 
governed by the wise providence of God : ' Their good is not in their 
hands/ Job xxi. 16. 

2. That it belongeth to God, as the judge of the world, to see ut 
malis male sit, et bonis lene'. Gen. xviii. 25, ' That be far from thee 
to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked : and 
that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee. 
Shall not the judge of all; the earth do right ?' Eom. iii. 5, ' But if 
our unrighteousness commend the righteousness of God, what shall we 
say ? Is God unrighteous that taketh vengeance ? (I speak as a man.) 
God forbid : for then how shall God judge the world ?' Job xxxiv. 
17, ' Shall even he that hateth right govern ? and wilt thou condemn 
him that is most just ? ' Job xxxiv. 11, ' For the work of a man shall 
he render unto him, and cause every man to. find according to his ways/ 
He is not indifferent to good and evil, and alike affected to the godly 
and the wicked ; but hateth the one, and loveth the other. He hateth 
the wicked : Ps. v. 5, * Thou hatest all the workers of iniquity ;' and, 
on the other part, he loveth the good and the holy : Ps. xxxv. 27, ' He 
hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servants ; ' it is his delight to see 
them happy and flourishing. This different respect is often spoken of 
in scripture: Ps. xxxi. 23, 'The Lord preserveth the faithful, and 
plentifully rewardeth the proud doer/ That he will uphold and main 
tain those that are faithful to him, and avenge himself upon the pride 
and oppression of the wicked ; though all the world be against the 
godly, God will preserve them and ruin the wicked, though all the 
world should let them alone. So 1 Peter iii. 12, ' For the eyes of the 
Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers ; 
but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil/ There is a 

VER. 155.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 147 

watchful eye of God over the righteous, to supply their wants, to direct 
them in their ways, to uphold them against dangers, to comfort them 
in their griefs, to deliver them out of all their troubles. God hath an 
eye to take notice of their condition, and an ear to hear their prayers ; 
but his face is set to pursue the wicked to their ruin : so that this is 
enough to assure us that holiness is the way to live blessedly, even in 
this life, where misery most aboundeth, because this is a part of the 
care that belongeth to the judge of the world. 

3. Besides his general justice as the ruler and judge of the world, 
and the condecency that is in such a dispensation to the rectitude of 
God's nature, there is his covenant declared in his word, wherein he 
promiseth temporal happiness to the godly, and threateneth misery and 
punishment to the wicked. And God ever stood upon the truth of his 
word, to make it good in the eyes of the world ; therefore it will be 
with men as their condition is set forth in the word of God. A pro 
mise there is as good as accomplishment, and a threatening as sure as 
performance ; and therefore, accordingly as the word saith of them, so 
is salvation far or near from them. Now search all the word of God, 
and see if it speak anything of hope and comfort to the wicked, or them 
that make a trade of provoking God. Nay, they are well enough 
aware of that, and therefore will not come to the light, care not to 
busy themselves in the scriptures ; for they say of them as Ahab of 
Micaiah, ' He prophesieth nothing but evil to me ;' and justly enough, 
for they can see nothing there but their own doom. If they are evil, it 
can speak nothing but evil: Isa. iii. 10, 11, ' Say ye unto the righteous, It 
shall be well with them ; for they shall eat of the fruit of their doings. 
Woe unto the wicked : it shall be ill with them ; for the reward of his 
hands shall be given to him.' This is the tenor of the whole word 
of God: so Eccles. viii. 12, 13, ' Though a sinner do evil a hundred 
times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be 
well with them that fear God, which fear before him : but it shall not 
be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are 
as a shadow ; because he f eareth not before God.' It is a certain truth ; 
it is a certain evident truth, for it is judicium cerli axiomatis. I do 
know and confidently affirm that it shall be weM with them that fear 
God ; but it shall not be well with the wicked, that is, it shall be very 
ill with them. 

But here cometh in the great objection of sense, How can these 
things be so ? We see the contrary, that all things come alike to all : 
Eccles. ix. 1,2,' The righteous, and the wise, and their works, are in 
the hand of God : no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is 
before them. All things come alike to all ; there is one event to the 
righteous, and to the wicked ; to the good, and to the clean, and to the 
unclean ; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not : as 
is the good, so is the sinner ; and he that sweareth, as he that f eareth 
an oath/ That those outward things are given indifferently to good 
and bad, and the wicked are as free from temporal punishment as 
others, and enjoy all prosperity in this world, even sometimes to the 
envy and offence of God's children, and the hardening of their own 
hearts ; and, which is more, that often it happeneth to the just accord 
ing to the work of the wicked, Eccles. viii. 14, and to the wicked 


according to the work of the righteous ; that is, evil to good men, and 
good to evil men. As to outward things, the advantage is usually on 
the side of the worst. 

A ns. 1. By concession; we must grant what is to be granted, that 
temporal things not being absolutely good or evil, the Lord taketh a 
liberty in the dispensation of them. The eternal promises and threat- 
enings, being of things absolutely good and ill, are therefore abso 
lute and peremptory. None that live godly can fail of the eternal 
promises ; none that goeth on still in his trespasses can escape the 
eternal threatenings. But the temporal promises and threatenings, being 
of things not simply good and evil, are not so absolutely fixed, but God 
will take a liberty sometimes to cross his hands, out of his general 
indulgence to give prosperity to the wicked, and out of his fatherly 
wisdom to chasten the godly ; and so all things come alike to all. Is 
Abraham rich ? So is Nabal ; yea, so the godly may be afflicted when 
the wicked triumph ; as Lazarus pined with want when Dives fared 
deliciously every day, and Jerusalem was in a heap of ashes when 
Babylon flourished. 

2. By correction. The wicked have no right by promise or cove 
nant, and so salvation is far from them ; for this promise or covenant- 
right inferreth two things (1.) A sanctified enjoyment ; (2.) A more 
sure tenure. 

[1.] A sanctified enjoyment ; they that have salvation by promise, 
they have it as an effect of God's special love, and so have it as a 
mercy, not as a judgment ; but without this they have it only by God's 
general indulgence, and so it may be a snare : Ps. Ixix. 22, ' Let their 
table become a snare before them, and that which should have been 
for their welfare, let it become a trap,' and promote their ruin, not 
only eternal, but temporal. If they be not by these common mercies 
brought to repentance, the greater shall their condemnation be, and 
their downfall the more speedy. For while they let loose the reins, 
and run headlong into all sin, God is the more provoked against them, 
and his anger, that was a little delayed and put off, is the more severely 
executed. It is a blessed thing to have salvation by covenant : Kom. 
viii. 28, ' All things shall work together for good to them that love 
God, to them that are the called according to his purpose.' When we 
are sanctified to God, saith Baxter, all things are sanctified to us ; to 
serve us for God, and to help us to him. 

[2.] Our tenure is more sure, and we can with more confidence wait 
upon God for it. In this sense salvation is far from the wicked, be 
cause they cannot lay claim to God's favourable providence, or look for 
the continuance of it with any confidence, because they have no right, 
no promise to build upon. The word of God speaketh no good to 
them, whatever God may do out of his general indulgence : James i. 
7, ' Let not that man think he shall receive anything of the Lord.' 
Now the misery of this appeareth by considering wicked men either as 
in prosperity or adversity. 

(1.) If they be still at ease for the present, yet they are not upon 
sure terms, because they know not how soon God may break in upon 
them and theirs : Job v. 3, 4, 'I have seen the foolish taking root ; 
but suddenly I cursed his habitation. His children are far from safety ' 

VER. 155.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 149 

(the notion of the text), * and are crushed m the gate, and there is none 
to deliver them.' In the eye of the godly they are far from salvation. 
I judged him unhappy for all his wealth, foretold his sudden destruc 
tion, which God would speedily bring on him and his ; I read his 
doom. So Job viii. 11-13, { Can the rush grow without mire ? can 
the flag grow without water ? Whilst it is yet in its greenness, and not 
cut down, it withereth before any other herb : so are the paths of all 
that forget God ; and the hypocrite's hopes shall perish.' A wicked 
man cannot lift up his head above others for want of God's favour to 
uphold him, as the rush or flag cannot grow without mire or water. 
The prosperity of wicked men, when it is most green and flourishing, 
yet wants its sustenance, which is God's blessing. This is the condi 
tion of wicked men in the opinion of the good. But what is it in his 
own opinion ? Take him in his serious and sober moods, he always 
liveth miserably and expecting a change, as knowing that God oweth 
him an ill turn : Job xv. 21, ' A dreadful sound is in his ears : in his 
prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him.' He trembleth secretly, 
as if danger were always near ; therefore cruel and mischievous against 
whom they fear, that shut the door against their own danger, for every 
thing that is fearful will be cruel. 

(2.) If he fall into adversity. In their troubles they have not a God 
to go unto, nor promises to build upon ; therefore it is said, Prov. xv. 
29, ' The Lord is far from the wicked, but he heareth the prayer of 
the righteous.' God's children have ready access to a sure friend, and 
are assured of welcome and audience when they come ; but they are 
at their wits' end, know not which way to turn : Job xv. 22, ' He be- 
lieveth not that he shall return out of darkness, and he is waited for of 
the sword;' that is, full of terrors of conscience and distracting dis 
turbing fears, hath no hope to be delivered, but lives as if he had a 
sword hanging over his head. 

Use 1. To show us the reason why the people of God, when they 
grow wicked, are often disappointed in that salvation which they ex 
pect : Isa. lix. 11, * We look for judgment, but there is none ; for 
salvation, but it is far from us.' Why ? Because they had exceed 
ingly sinned against God, and scandalised their profession. There was 
a horrible depravation of the people of God in those times, and there 
fore all their prayers and fasts and seekings of God could not prevail 
for a deliverance. 

Use 2. Comfort in a good cause, wherein the godly are opposed by 
the wicked. There is a double comfort : 

1. Because the prosperity, power, and pride of the wicked is not to 
be regarded ; for though they flourish for a while, and all things flow 
in upon them according to their heart's desire, yet salvation is far 
from them. God is engaged both for the rectitude of his nature, the 
quality of his office, as judge of the world, and the tenor of his 
covenant, to employ his power and terror for their ruin ; and though 
lie may for a while spare them, and they take occasion from this in 
dulgence to do more and more wickedly, yet you should not be dis 
mayed if you see them engaged in ways or courses that are naught and 
wicked ; you may say, I know they cannot prosper in them. When 
they are lifted up in the prosperity of their affairs, you should lift up 


your hearts by faith, see a worm at the root of their happiness: 
evSov TO KCIKOV, &c. 

2. Because by the rule of contraries, if salvation be far from the 
wicked that seek not God's statutes, then deliverance is near to the 
godly that fear God and desire to be faithful with him, how hard so 
ever their condition seemeth to be for the present : Ps. Ixxxv. 9, 'Surely 
his salvation is nigh unto them that fear him.' You should be con 
fident of it. They that please God cannot be always miserable ; it is 
nearer than we think of, or can see for the present. There is a surely, 
or a note of averment put upon it. It is better be with the godly in 
adversity, than with the wicked in prosperity ; when they are men 
appointed as sheep for the slaughter, yet there is a way of ransom and 
escape ; but the wicked, at their best, are in the appointment of God 
as the stalled ox, or as swine fatted for destruction ; when fattest, then 
nearest to destruction and slaughter. 

Secondly, As to eternal salvation, so they are in a dangerous case. 

1. The phrase here used by the Psalmist seemeth to be used to 
obviate their vain conceit. They think they shall do well enough, and 
have as much to show for heaven as the best ; it is near in their con 
ceit, but far indeed : 1 Cor. vi. 9, ' Be not deceived ; know ye not that 
the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God ? ' Thoughts of 
impunity are natural to us ; those that are in the ready way to hell are 
apt to think they shall get heaven at last, as if God would turn day into 
night; but alas ! it is an eternal truth, 'salvation is far from the wicked/ 

2. There is somewhat of a meiosis in the expression, less being said 
thanks intended. The man of God saith that salvation is far, but he 
implieth that damnation is near ; certainly the one it doth imply the 
other : Heb. vi. 8, ' The ground that beareth briers and thorns, is 
6771/5 /cardpas, nigh unto cursing.' They are upon the borders of hell, 
and ready to drop into those eternal flames which shall consume God's 

3. Once again, the longer they continue wicked, the farther off is 
their salvation every day ; farther off from heaven, and nearer to hell. 
A godly man, the more progress he maketh in virtue, the nearer he is 
to his salvation: Kom. xiii. 11, 'Now is your salvation nearer than 
when ye first believed.' Not only nearer in point of time, but nearer 
in the preparation of their hearts; not because older, but because 
better : and so by consequence, wicked men go farther and farther off, 
and therefore they are said to treasure up wrath against the day of 
wrath, Rom. ii. 5. Every sin they commit puts them a degree farther 
off from salvation, as every degree of grace is a step nearer heaven. 

Eeason 1. The inseparable connection that is between privileges and 
duties. The gospel offeretli salvation conditionally ; if we forsake the 
condition, we fall short of the privilege ; and therefore if we be wicked, 
salvation is far from us. When God took Abraham into covenant 
with him, he doth not tell him only what privilege he should enjoy, 
but also bmdeth him to walk suitably: Gen. xvii. 1, 'I am God 
Almighty, walk before me, and be thou perfect.' God will take care 
of our safety, if we will take care of our duty. The covenant is called 
Ezek. xx. 37, ' I will bring you into the bond of the covenant;' 
because it hath a tie upon us, as well as upon God. We are not at 

VER. 155.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 151 

our own liberty, to walk as we list ; there are bonds upon us ; not 
vincula careens, the bonds of a prison, gins and fetters, but vincula 
nuptiarum, the bonds of wedlock. Now, they that cast away these 
bonds from them, as the wicked do (Ps. ii. 3, ' Let us break their 
bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us ; ) and will be their 
own men, and walk by their own will, have no title to the privileges 
that accrue by the marriage ; such licentious spirits are at liberty, but 
to their own woe ; they have a liberty to go to hell, and undo their 
own souls. It was the wisdom of God to bind us to displeasing duties 
by the proposal of comfortable privileges. Every man would desire to 
be saved, and to be happy for evermore, but corrupt nature is against 
holiness. Now without ^holiness there is no happiness. The con 
ditional promise doth more bind and draw the heart to it, when we lay 
hold of it, by yielding to perform the condition required ; then may we 
groundedly expect the privilege promised. We would have salvation, 
but we cannot unless we submit to God's terms ; for Christ came not 
to gratify our selfish desires, but to subdue us to God. We would 
have sin pardoned, we would be freed from the curse of the law and 
the flames of hell, but this can never be while we walk in our own 
ways, and are averse to holiness of heart and life, for God would even 
sweeten duties by felicities. 

Reason 2. Because of the perfect contrariety between the temper of 
wicked men and this salvation, so that they are wholly incapable of it. 

1. They care not for God, who is the author of this salvation ; he is 
not in all their thoughts, words, and ways : Ps. x. 1, ' The wicked 
through the pride of his countenance will not seek after God ; God is 
not in all his thoughts/ They are far from him, though he be not far 
from every one of them ; he is within them, and round about them, in 
the effects of his power and goodness ; but they never think of him, nor 
take care to serve and please him ; that is the reason in the text, ' They 
seek not thy statutes.' If they seem to draw nigh to him at any time 
in some cold and customary duties, they do but draw nigh to him with 
their lips, but their hearts are far from him : Isa. xxix. 13, * This 
people draw near to me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour 
me, but have removed their heart far from me ; and their fear toward 
me is taught by the precepts of men.' Or as it is in another prophet, 
Jer. xii. 2, ' Thou art near in their mouth, but far from their reins.' 
They profess to honour God with a little outward and bodily service, 
but have no love and affection at all to him. 

2. They slight Christ who is the procurer of this salvation ; however 
they could like him as their Saviour, they like him not as their guide 
and governor. So he complaineth, Ps. Ixxxi. 11, 'My people would 
not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me ; ' and Luke 
xix. 14, ov 0e\o/jiev TOVTOV (Baaikevo-cu e<' f^as, ' His citizens hated 
him, and sent a messenger after him, saying, We will not have this 
man to reign over us.' Men cannot endure his bonds and yokes : Ps. 
ii. 3, ' Let us break his bands asunder, and cast away his cords from 
us ; ' that they should deny themselves their own wisdom and will, and 
wholly give up themselves to the conduct and will of Christ. It is his 
spiritual kingdom that is most contrary to our carnal affections, for 
if there were no king in Israel, then every man might do what is 


best in his own eyes. They would not be crossed in their licentious 
ness of life, and therefore when Christ bringeth his bonds and cords with 
him, they set him at nought. 

3. They despise the word, in which we have the offer of this salva 
tion, and counsel and direction given us how to obtain it. There God 
calleth upon us to be saved : 1 Tim. ii. 4, c He will have all men to be 
saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.' But most slight 
his voice, and thereby put all hope far away from themselves. See 
Acts xvi. 26, compared with the 48th verse ; in the 26th verse. ' To 
you is the word of this salvation sent.' Mark first, he calleth the 
gospel the word of salvation, because there we have the way and means 
set forth how it was procured for us ; there we have counsel given us 
what we must do on our parts that we may be interested in it ; there 
also we have the promise and assurance on God's part, that, so doing, 
we shall obtain it. Mark again, he saith this word of salvation was 
sent to them ; he doth not say brought, but sent. The preaching of 
the gospel is governed by God's special providence. When salvation 
is offered according to his mind and in his name, we must look upon 
it as a message from heaven, directed to us for our good ; not by the 
charity or good-will of men, but by the grace of God. Now if you 
despise this, what will be the issue ? See ver. 46, ' Since ye put away 
the word of God from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlast 
ing life' (that is, by this obstinacy and perverseness), you become in 
capable of receiving benefit of it. That phrase, ' ye judge yourselves,' 
is very notable. There is a judging ourselves unworthy that maketh 
way for the applying of the gospel unto us, rather than taking it from 
us, as the publican judged himself, and went home justified ; but a 
humble self-judging is not meant here, but an obstinate, contemptuous 
refusal of eternal life. All unconverted men are unworthy of eternal 
life, but they .that refuse grace offered judge themselves unworthy of 
eternal life ; put it out of all question, clear God, if he thus judge them 
by their fact, declare their condemnation just. 

4. They refuse the beginnings of this salvation and foregoing pledges, 
which God vouchsafeth in this world by way of taste and earnest. 
Grace is the beginning and pledge of glory ; to be turned from sin is 
a great part of our salvation : Mark i. 21, * He shall save his people 
from their sins.' It is not only salvation when freed from misery, but 
salvation when freed from sin ; not only from evil after sin, hell, and 
punishment, but from the evil of sin ; from a proud, lazy, self-loving 
heart : ' He hath saved us by the washing of water,' Titus iii. 5. 
When the power of sin is broken, and the life of grace is begun in the 
soul, then do we begin to be saved. The spirit of holiness is the 
earnest of our inheritance, and an earnest is part of the sum : Eph. i. 
13, 14, ' In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of 
truth, the gospel of our salvation, in whom also after that ye believed, 
ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise ; which is the earnest 
of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to 
the praise of his glory/ Therefore holiness is a part of eternal salva 
tion. Now without this we cannot have the other part ; they that 
slight holiness shall never see God. 

5. They despise the salvation itself, rightly understood, partly be- 

VER. 155.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 153 

cause they only value it under a fleshly notion, as a state of happiness 
and ease, not as a state of immaculate and sinless purity ; for so it is 
wholly unsuitable to them. What should a carnal sensual heart do 
with heaven ? or how should they desire it that hate the company of 
God, the communion of saints, the image of God ? God maketh meet : 
Col. i. 12, ' Giving thanks to the Father, who hath made us meet to 
be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light/ There is jus 
hccreditarium, et jus aptitudinale ; though they do not desire to be 
saved for it, they would love holiness more. Partly because those 
conceits that they have of the adjuncts of salvation, and that happi 
ness and personal contentment which results to them, they do not 
practically esteem it as to value it above the delights of the flesh and 
the vanities of the world, and they do not think it worthy the pursuit, 
but for the interests of the bodily life, cast off all care of it : Heb. xii. 
16, 'As Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright ;' Mark 
xxii. 5, ' They made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, 
another to his merchandise.' 

Use 1. It informeth us of two things : 

1. That wicked men are the authors of their own ruin. Salvation 
doth not fly from them, but they fly from it ; they are far from the 
law, and therefore is salvation far from them. They will not take the 
course to be saved, for they care not for God and his statutes ; it is but 
just, ut qui male vivit, male per eat, that they which despise salvation 
should never see it. 

2. That the wicked buy the pleasures of sin at a dear rate, since 
they defraud their own souls of salvation thereby. Their loss you have 
in the text, * Salvation is far from them ; ' and their gain is nothing but 
a little temporal satisfaction ; and are these things worthy to be com 
pared ? What is it maketh you wicked, but the ease and sloth of the 
flesh, and the love of some carnal delight ? And are you contented to 
perish for this whoredom from God ? 

Use 2. Let it exhort us to believe and improve this truth ; for if 
men did surely believe it, there would not be so many wicked men as 
there are, neither would they dare to lie in sin as long as they do. 
Oh ! consider, if the wicked have no part nor portion in the salvation 
offered, nor any jot of God's favour belonging to them, the wicked 
should not flatter themselves with presumptuous hopes, but break off 
their sins by repentance. 

1. God's mercy will not help you ; though he be a God of salvation, 
yet he will not save the impenitent and such as go on still in their 
trespasses: Ps. Ixviii. 19-21, 'Blessed be the Lord who daily loadeth 
us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah. He that is 
our God is the God of salvation, and unto God the Lord belong the 
issues from death. But God shall wound the head of his enemies, 
and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses/ 
You must not fancy a God all honey and sweetness, and that his mercy 
should be exercised to the wrong of his justice ; the Lord will not 
spare the abusers of grace whoever he spareth : Deut. xxix. 19, 20> 
' And it shall come to pass when he heareth the words of this curse, 
that if he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though 
I walk in the imagination of my heart, to add drunkenness to thirst ; 


the Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his 
jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are 
written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his 
name from under heaven.' 

2. No doctrine preached in the church will bear you out ; not law, 
for that discovereth both sin and the curse. Convinceth of sin : Kom. 
iii. 20, ' By the law is the knowledge of sin,' what is sin, and who is 
the sinner ; that bindeth you over to the curse : Gal. iii. 10, ' For as 
many as are of the law are under the curse ; for it is written, Cursed 
is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the 
book of the law to do them.' The gospel, that showeth a remedy 
against sin, but upon God's terms, that first with broken hearts we sue 
out our pardon : 1 John i. 9, ' If we confess our sins, he is faithful and 
just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.' 
Sin must be condemned, confessed, before pardoned. And then, that 
in the way of holiness we should seek salvation and eternal life. The 
way and end must not be separated : Kom. vi. 22, ' We must have our 
fruit into holiness, if we would have our end to be eternal life.' The 
pure and undefiled have only part in this salvation, but it is far from 
the wicked. Christ disclaims the unholy and unsanctified : Mat. 
vii. 23, ' Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.' You may as well 
expect the way to the west should bring you eastward, as to walk in 
the ways of sin and hope to come to heaven at last ; to think God will 
save us, and suffer us to walk in our own ways ; or that this undefiled 
inheritance shall be bestowed on dirty sinners. This had been pleas 
ing to flesh and blood, but it is the devil's covenant, not God's. That 
article, you shall be saved, and yet live in your sins, is foisted in by 
Satan, that false deceiver, to flatter men with vain conceits. 

3. Do you hope of repentance hereafter, but in the meantime ye run 
a desperate hazard to leave the soul at pawn in Satan's hands ? It is 
not easy work to get it out again. Who would poison himself upon a 
presumption that before it cometh to his heart he shall meet with an 
antidote ? Judicial hardness is laid on them that withstand seasons 
of grace : Isa. Iv. 6, ' Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye 
upon him while he is near;' Prov. i. 24-26, 'Because I have called 
arid ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded, 
but ye have set at nought all my counsels, and would none of my 
reproofs ; I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your 
fear cometh ;' Luke xiv. 24, c None of those men that were bidden 
shall taste of my supper.' 

4. The heart is more hardened the longer you continue in this 
course : Heb. iii. 13, ' But exhort one another daily, while it is called 
to-day, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin/ 
Inveterate diseases are seldom cured ; a tree that hath long stood, and 
begun to wither, is unfit to be transplanted : Jer. xiii. 23, ' Can the 
Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots ? then may ye also 
do good that are accustomed to do evil.' 

5. There is a stint and measure as to nations : Gen. xv. 16, ' The 
iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.' Persons, vessels of mercy, 
vessels of dishonour : Rom. ix. 22, 23, ' What if God, willing to show 
his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long- 

VER. 155.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 155 

suffering the vessels of wrath, fitted to destruction ; and that he might 
make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he 
had before prepared unto glory ? ' Meet for heaven, ripe for hell 
Saints like a shock of corn in season ; so when sinned enough, then 
away to hell. 

But this exhortation is like to be lost, because nobody will apply 
it ; let us see, then, the character of wicked men. 

Secondly, ' They seek not thy statutes.' 

Doct. They are wicked men who seek not God's statutes. 

Here I must inquire 

1. What it is to seek God's statutes. 

2. Show why they are wicked that do not seek them. 
First, What it is to seek God's statutes ? There 

1. The object or thing sought is God's statutes, those rules and 
counsels which he hath given us to guide us in our service of himself, 
and pursuit of true happiness. These are all enforced by his authority, 
and enacted as laws and statutes, which we cannot transgress without 
violation and contempt of his authority. Now, he saith ' statutes ' 
indefinitely, because they must all be regarded without exception, for 
they all stand upon the same authority. It is said of Ezra, that good 
scribe, Ezra x. 7, ' That he prepared his heart to seek the law of the 
Lord, and to do it ; ' that is, to be thoroughly informed of, and to 
practise whatsoever was enjoined in the law of God ; so must we 
prepare our hearts to do all. And because our Christian law is 
broader, and compriseth gospel too, which is the law of faith, we must 
take care of all which God hath given us in charge, and all that is 
adopted into our rule of faith and repentance, as well as moral duties , 
and because there are minutula legis, and papvrepa vopov, therefore 
our chief care must be about the weighty things ; and those of greater 
moment must be sought most earnestly. Therefore it is said, Mat. 
vi. 33, ' Seek ye first the kingdom of God and the righteousness 
thereof ; ' these concern the change of our estate. 

2. The act of seeking. The word implieth earnest and constant 
endeavour : I seek for that which I mind and pursue with all my 
heart, and use all means that I may obtain it, till I do obtain or find 
it. Thus we are bidden to seek that which is good : Amos v. 14, 
* Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live ; ' and Zeph. ii. 2, ' Seek 
ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his 
judgments : seek righteousness, seek meekness ; it may be ye shall 
be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.' So Christ : John v. 30, ' I 
seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father, which hath sent 
me/ And here the Psalmist speaketh of seeking God's statutes. 

[1.] It implieth earnest endeavour (for a man's heart is upon what 
he seeketh), that it be the business of our lives, not a thing done by the 
by, but our epyov, our work to please God, and to this all other things 
must give way. Many think it is a foolish thing for them to trouble 
their heads with matters of religion, and to lay bands of strictness 
upon themselves ; but it must not only have its turn and respect 
among other affairs, but be indeed as the great affair of our lives. 
There is no business of such weight and necessity, because the saving 
of our souls lieth on it ; and therefore it must be followed in good 


earnest ; as a man, when he is seeking a thing, quitteth all other cares, 
and mindeth that only. 

[2.] Constant endeavour, seeking till we find; as the woman for 
her lost groat : Luke xv. 8, ' What woman having ten pieces of silver, 
if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle and sweep the house, 
and seek diligently till she find it ? ' So we must not content our 
selves with our first and cold essay, as many, if they find not success 
upon some fair attempt, give over all care of religion, as if it were a 
tedious thing, not to be endured. Now seeking implies a resolute 
diligence, and persevering endeavours till we find. 

3. The end of seeking after God's statutes is to have them and 
keep them ; as Christ saith, John xiv. 21, 'He that hath my com 
mandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me/ First hath, 
then keepeth. To have the commandments is to know them, to 
understand our duty and prove what is the revealed, holy, and 
acceptable will of God concerning us, Rom. xii. 2, that it may have 
the authority of a principle in our consciences. To keep them is to 
endeavour actual obedience thereunto, and to regulate our practice 
thereby : for both these ends do we seek, and in both these respects 
do men show their wickedness. 

[1.] We must make it our business to know the tenor and compass 
of our duty, and we are said to seek after this, because it will cost us 
pains ere we can obtain it. All knowledge will cost us industry, 
especially divine and practical knowledge, as he that applieth his 
heart to the understanding of his duty will soon find : Prov. ii. 4, ' If 
thou wilt seek for it as for silver, and search for it as for hid treasures/ 
Now this the wicked cannot endure ; they indulge the laziness of the 
flesh ; they know they that increase knowledge increase sorrow. If 
they did know more of their duty, they should be troubled for not 
observing it ; for knowledge will be urging duty upon the conscience, 
it bringeth a great obligation along with it : and as an obligation, so 
an irritation or provocation ; it will call upon them to do that which 
they have no mind to do ; yea, and further, a self-condemnation and 
accusation, or sting for not doing it, or breaking any of God's statutes : 
therefore to prevent their own trouble, they are so far from seeking 
light, that they would shut it out, and quench those convictions that 
break in upon them ; therefore the language of wicked men is, Job 
xxi. 14, ' Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways ; > 
the language of their hearts, and lives, if not of their tongues. They 
do not only err in their minds, but err in their hearts ; they have no 
will to know, would not trouble themselves about religion, or acquaint 
ing themselves with God, neglect the means of grace. 

[2.] We must make it our business to observe them, or our serious 
study to^ keep at a distance both in heart and practice from every 
known sin, eschewing what the Lord forbiddeth, and endeavouring 
every good- duty which the Lord commandeth. This will cost us 
pains indeed, and requireth much seeking to get such a frame of heart, 
and whoever trieth it will find it long ere he can attain to it: 
Rom. vii. 18, ' To will is present with me, but how to perform that 
which is good I find not.' He sought for ; his words imply that ; 
but he could not do as he would ; there was not a total omission, but 

VER. 155.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 157 

a coming short of his aims. We must seriously give up ourselves 
to the observation of God's will, and attend upon this work. This 
wicked men do not seek, it is the least of their cares : Ps. Ixxiii. 27, 
' Lo, all they that are far from thee shall perish.' The whole stream 
and course of their affections, lives, and actions do run from God 
to the creature ; they care not whether they please God, yea or no : 
Prov. xix. 16, ' He that keepeth the commandments, keepeth his own 
soul ; hut he that despiseth his ways, shall die.' He slights his way 
that goeth on as his own heart leadeth him; as a traveller that 
regardeth not to choose his way, but goeth through thick and thin, he 
despiseth his way, so he that careth not whether his way be pure or 
filthy. Well, then, the sum is, wicked men care not to know and 
obey God's word. 

Secondly, Keasons why they are wicked that do not seek God's 

1. Because omissions, where they are of duties absolutely necessary 
and total and universal, do necessarily draw sins of commission along 
with them, do argue a state of wickedness. But such is the case 
here ; to live in a known sin, whether of omission or commission, is 
damnable : James iv. 17, ' To him that knoweth to do good, and 
doeth it not, to him it is sin ; ' but especially when total, &c. The 
wicked are thus described, them ' that forget God ; ' Ps. ix. 17, ' The 
wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God ; ' 
Job viii. 13, ' So are the paths of all that forget God ; ' Ps. 1. 22, 
' Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and 
there be none to deliver.' This layeth a man open to all sin, and 
maketh way for his destruction. So Zeph. i. 6, ' They have not sought 
the Lord, nor inquired after him ; ' that is enough to damn them, 
if they do not break out into excess. 

2. Because they are guilty of great wrong to God and to their own 

[1.] To God ; it is a contempt of his authority when men will not 
study to know and do his declared will ; that is, make it their business 
to do so ; for it is a great slighting of him, looking upon his direction 
as of little importance : Hosea viii. 12, ' I have written to him the 
great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing,' 
and therefore were strangers to it, as if there were no danger in 
walking contrary to it. 

[2.] To themselves ; God's statutes concern our salvation as well as 
his own glory : Luke vii. 30, ' The pharisees and lawyers rejected the 
counsel of God against themselves.' Thus a wicked man isfelo de 
se : Prov. viii. 35, 36, ' Whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall 
obtain favour of the Lord ; but he that sinneth against me, wrongeth 
his own soul ; all they that hate me, love death.' 

Use 1. You see now who are far from salvation, they that do not 
study the word of God to conform themselves thereunto. 

Use 2. Let us be sure to be far from the disposition of the wicked ; 
let us with all our hearts seek to comply with the precepts of God, and 
be more diligent and earnest in bringing our hearts to a true scriptural 
holiness, that we may not be in this danger. 


Motives : 

1. From the excellency of these statutes. To be employed in the 
service of God is the greatest honour and the most blessed life upon 
earth. If it be irksome, it is a sign of a disease, and some great dis 
temper or inclination to some base dreggy delights of the flesh. If the 
soul were rightly constituted, it would be our greatest pleasure, honour, 
and content; other work spendeth our strength, this increaseth it: 
1 The way of the Lord is strength to the upright.' 

2. From salvation ; it is great, sure, near. Great, both as to body 
and soul ; sure, God's word passed is unalterable ; near, should we faint 
in the sight of our country, and be sluggish and negligent, when 
heaven is at hand ? 

3. There is present content in the sight of our qualification and clear 
distinction from fhe wicked. 


Great are thy tender mercies, Lord : quicken me according to 
thy judgments. VER. 156. 

IN the former verse we presented you with the judgment of God 
against the wicked ; we shall now present you with a more comfortable 
argument, his mercies to his people. Whenever we think or speak of 
the damnable condition of the wicked, we should remember the grace 
of God, that hath made the difference between us and them. We 
were by nature no better than they, only mercy interposed for our 
rescue, and snatched us as brands out of the burning. So here David 
flieth to God's mercy, as the original cause of all that he had or hoped 
for from him : ' Great are thy tender mercies, Lord/ &c. 
In the words there is 

1. An eulogy, or an ascription of praise to God, c Great are thy 
tender mercies, Lord.' 

2. A prayer, ' Quicken me according to thy judgments/ 

The one maketh way for the other ; for because God's mercies are 
so great, therefore he is encouraged to come unto him for help. In 
the eulogy we have the thing praised, God's mercy. It is set forth by 
a double adjunct, one taken from the quality, the other from the 
quantity. From the quality, it is tender and bowel-mercy ; from the 
quantity, it is great. Or the word may be rendered * many ; ' the 
mercies of God, as one saith, are many and mother-like. Having laid 
this foundation for his hope, the man of God proceedeth to his prayer, 
which is our second branch, where you have the request, ' Quicken 
me;' the argument, 'According to thy judgments;' that is, thy pro 
mises in the new covenant, as we before explained the word. Those 
promises are called judgments, because they are rules of proceeding in 
the new court which God hath set up. 

Many things might be observed from these words. 

1. That the primary cause of all that we have and expect from God 
is his mercy. The man of God beginneth here, when he expected dif- 

VER. 156.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 159 

ferent usage from the wicked, or that God should deal with him in 
another manner than with them. 

2. That this mercy is so great and large, that it is every way suffi 
cient for our help. 

3. The terms and rules according to which we are to expect this 
mercy are set forth in the new covenant, where God hath bound him 
self to show mercy to his people, upon such conditions as are there 
specified. So that this covenant doth inform us and assure us both of 
God's mercy and God's quickening. 

4. One special new-covenant blessing is the preservation of the life 
of grace in our souls. There is a great necessity of it, because in the 
spiritual life we are subject to fainting ; and the children of God have 
a great value and esteem for it, for they are more sensible of soul-dis 
tempers than other men ; and when they see others stark dead in tres 
passes and sins, they are the more displeased with their own remaining 
deadness, and therefore would have the distinction between them and 
wicked men made more clear and sensible, by the activity and vigour 
of grace, and their diligence and care of salvation (which the wicked 
neglect), awakened by new influences from God; and therefore do 
they so often pray for quickening. Accordingly, God in the new cove 
nant, as the God of their life and salvation, hath undertaken to keep 
them fresh and lively ; and therefore, whenever we are under deadness, 
we should not be satisfied with it, or think it a light evil, but present 
our condition to God, looking to the promise of the new covenant, 
wherein God hath promised to put his Spirit into our hearts, to cause 
us to walk in his ways. 

But because all these points have been often discussed, I shall only 
handle this one point. 
Doct. That in the Lord Jehovah there are great and tender mercies. 

1 . I shall open the mercy of God. 

2. The adjuncts, the greatness and tenderness of them. 

First, I shall open the mercy of God. That mercy is one of God's 
attributes, the scripture is plain and clear : Ps. Ixii. 12, ' Also unto 
thee, Lord, belongeth mercy.' He had said before, ' Once hath God 
spoken, and twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God.' 
This is an evident and certain truth, that God is almighty, and hath 
all power to avenge his enemies and reward his friends ; but because 
this is not a sufficient foundation for our trust, there wanteth more to 
invite the creature to depend upon God than his bare power and ability 
to help us, there must be also an assurance of his readiness to do what 
he is able ; and that we have in this other attribute, which is as proper, 
and as much belonging to God as power, and that is mercy ; yea, it is 
an attribute in the exercise of which God delights most of all : Micah 
vii. 18, ' Because he delighteth in mercy.' God delighteth himself in 
all his attributes, yea, in the manifestation of them to the world, but 
chiefly in acts of mercy ; these come readily from him, and unextorted. 
Though God willeth the punishment of a sinner, for the manifestation 
of his justice, yet these acts of his vengeance are not so pleasing to 
God as the acts of his mercy ; for he never doth them of his own 
accord, but is provoked. Acts of mercy flow from him like life-honey, 
but acts of vengeance are his strange work, Isa. xxviii. 21. Bees give 


honey naturally, sting when provoked. Therefore God is nowhere 
called pater ultionum, whereas he is called pater miserationum, 2 Cor. 
i. 3, ' The father of mercies.' It is the original and fountain cause of 
all our comfort ; get an interest in his mercy, and all his other attri 
butes shall he for our good. Mercy will set a-work his wisdom to 
contrive, his power to accomplish, what is for our comfort and salva 
tion ; his justice and wrath to avenge your quarrel. All other attri 
butes are serviceable to mercy. Among the things that are ascribed 
to God there is this order, that one is given as a reason of the other. 
As in the business of our salvation. Why doth God discover himself 
with so much wisdom and power ? Because of his mercy. Of his 
mercy hath he saved us, Titus iii. 4, 5 ; of his mercy quickened us, 
Eph. ii. 4, 5 ; of his mercy begotten us to a lively hope, 2 Peter i. 3. 
But what moved Iftin to show mercy to us ? You can go no higher, 
unless you assign a cause like itself ; God, who is rich in mercy, out 
of his great love wherewith he hath loved us ; indeed, so he showed 
mercy because he would. 

1. The goodness of the divine nature, as it doth discover itself 
to the creature, is called benignity or bounty, sometimes grace, and 
sometimes mercy. The first issue or effect of the divine goodness is 
his benignity or bounty, by which God, by giving something to the 
creatures, showeth himself liberal or bountiful ; this is his goodness to 
the creature as a creature. Thus he hath given being to all things, bare 
life to some, sense to others, and to man and angels reason and grace. 
The next term by which the goodness of God is expressed is grace, 
by which he freely giveth to the creature all that good which they 
have, beyond all possibility of requital. The third term is mercy, 
which implieth the ready inclination that is in God to relieve our 
misery notwithstanding sin. These three terms agree in this, that 
they all express the goodness of God, or his communication of himself 
to the creature. God knoweth himself, loveth himself, but he cannot 
be said to be bountiful, or gracious, or merciful to himself; these 
things respect us. And again, that none of these can be reciprocated, 
or turned back from the creature to God. We may love God, who 
hath loved us first, 1 John iv. 19, but mercy or grace never results 
from the creature to God. We know God, and love him, but cannot 
be said to be merciful to him. He giveth out mercy and grace, but 
receiveth none. Thus they agree ; but they differ in that bounty or 
goodness respects the creature as a creature, grace respects the crea 
ture as being able to make no recompense to God, or to merit anything 
at his hands ; but mercy addeth these two things to the former, as 
supposing us in misery. The object of it is persona miserabitis, or as 
finding us under demerit or ill-deserving, and appoints a remedy for 
us. God doth good to the angels, that never sinned, out of grace; but 
to man fallen, out of mercy ; so that his mercy is nothing else but his 
proneness to help a man in misery notwithstanding sin. 

2. We must distinguish between mercy as it is an attribute in God, 
and the acts and effects of it as they are terminated upon the creature. 
As it is an attribute in God : Ps. ciii. 8, ' The Lord is merciful and 
gracious/ So it is infinite, as his nature is ; but in the effects as to 
us there is a great difference. Mercy is one in the fountain, many in 

VER. 156.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 161 

the streams, because there are divers effects, divers ways of showing 
mercy. Mercy in the effect may cease, as when the angels turned 
devils, and when God threateneth to take away his mercies from us ; 
but God doth not cease to be merciful in himself : the effects of God's 
mercy are more or less, but the attribute in God is not so. Mercy as 
an attribute doth not oppose justice ; but the effects of God's mercy 
may be, and are, contrary to the effects of his justice, as punishment 
is contrary to blessing. 

3. God's mercy is either general, or special, or peculiar. First, 
God's general mercy hath for the object of it not only men, even 
them that are strangers to the faith, but also all the creatures ; for it 
is said, Ps. cxlv. 5, ' His tender mercies are over all his works/ God 
helpeth the poor brute creatures in their needs, and doth supply them 
with provision convenient for them. Then there is his special mercy 
to man, helping and succouring him in his misery, notwithstanding 
sin ; and so the giving of Christ to be the Saviour of the world : 
Titus iii. 4, ' But after the loving-kindness of God our Saviour to 
mankind appeared ; ' his man-kindness, this was pity to us above the 
angels: no remedy was plotted for them. And then his peculiar 
mercy is to his elect in Christ. So the Lord saith, Eom. ix. 15, ' I 
will have mercy on whom I will have mercy/ This is again seen 
either in the first grace, or bestowing that upon us, or in all the sub 
sequent grace that we stand in need of. 

[1.] The first grace is pardoning all our past sin, or receiving us 
into a state of favour upon our repentance. So it is made the motive, 
Joel ii. 13, ' Turn unto the Lord, for he is merciful ; ' penitent sinners 
will find him so to^ be. The apostle saith, 1 Tim. i. 13, 'But I 
obtained mercy, rj\er)0r]v ; I was overwhelmed in mercy/ So also in 
giving us a heart to repent and turn unto him, 1 Peter i. 3. We 
were unworthy and miserable sinners, could not help ourselves, and 
then his eye pitied us and his hand saved us ; by his preventing grace 
he brought us home to himself. 

[2.] In all the subsequent grace that we stand in need of. So the 
objects of his mercy must have a qualification ; such as fear God, Ps. 
ciii. 13; such as love him, and keep his commandments, Exod. xx. 6; 
that walk according to the rule of his word exactly, Gal. vi. 16. To 
the merciful, Mat. v. 7 ; for to the unmerciful God will not show 
himself merciful, James ii. 13 ; but to those that are thus qualified 
he reneweth his pardoning mercy, in taking away the guilt of our 
daily failings, Ps. xxv. 7. His sanctifying mercy, by freeing them 
more and more from the dominion of sin, Kom. vi. 14. His preserv 
ing mercy, by delivering them from afflictions, so far as it is con 
venient : Ps. cxix. 41 , ' Let thy mercies come unto me, Lord ; even 
thy salvation according to thy word ; ' Lam. iii. 22, ' It is of the 
Lord's mercy we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not/ 
His rewarding mercy : Jude 21, ' Looking for the mercy of God 
unto eternal life/ So Ps. Ixii. 12, ' Also unto thee, Lord, belongeth 
mercy ; for thou renderest to every man according to his work/ He 
will graciously accept, reward, and crown every sincere and faithful 
servant of his when they have done their work. Sincerity and faith- 



fulness shall be accepted and rewarded, when infirmities and weak 
nesses shall be pardoned and covered. 

Secondly, Let me now open the two adjuncts of his mercy. 

1. It is tender mercy : Luke i. 78, ' Through the tender mercy of 
our God.' The word signifieth bowels; as when you see a poor 
miserable creature, your bowels work within you, especially if you be 
related to him. Misericordia complectitur affectum ei effectum. Let 
us take the nearest relation. If you be a father, we need not much 
entreat a father to pity a poor helpless child ; his own bowels will per 
suade him to it : Ps. ciii. 13, ' Like as a father pitieth his children, so 
the Lord pitieth them that fear him/ Or if you think passions in 
females more vehement, take the relation of a mother ; as Hagar was 
affected to Ishmael when the water was spent in the bottle ; she sat 
over against the? child, and lift up her voice and wept, Gen. xxi. 16. 
God will take the affections of a mother ; as Isa. xlix. 15, * Can a 
woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion 
on the son of her womb? yea, she may forget, yet will I not forget thee. ; 
It is passionately set out by the prophet. If all the compassions of 
all fathers and mothers were joined together, it were nothing to God ; 
he is the father of mercies, he is pitiful and merciful, James v. 11. 
It is true there is in God no sickness, or trouble of mind, no commo 
tion; but there is pity and tender love, though no perturbation, which 
will not stand with the perfection of his nature ; that is, he layeth to 
heart, and taketh notice of our misery. The tenderness of God may 
be known by the compassion which Christ had in the days of his flesh, 
for he was the express image of his Father's person. Now we read, 
Mat. ix. 36, ' When he saw the multitude, he was moved with com 
passion on them, because they fainted, and were as sheep scattered 
abroad that had no shepherd/ Their teachers did not do their duty 
to them in any profitable way ; this wrought upon Christ's heart, when 
he saw the multitude. So when he saw many sick and under 
noisome diseases, Mat. xiv. 14, when they followed him, he pitied 
them, and helped them. So Mat. xv. 32, Jesus had compassion 
on the multitude, when they continued with him three days, and had 
nothing to eat. The care of man's welfare lieth near unto Christ's 
heart. Before the disciples took notice of it, he taketh notice of the 
people's necessities, and is affected with it ; he would not send them 
away fasting. The two blind men, when they feelingly laid out their 
miseries, Mat. xx. 34, ' Jesus had compassion on them, and touched 
their eyes/ So Luke vii. 13 ; the widow of Nain lamented her only 
son, the Lord saw her, and had compassion on her, and said unto her, 
Weep not. This for a taste what a tender heart Christ had. And in 
heaven he is still a merciful high priest ; he came down on purpose 
to acquaint himself with our griefs and sorrows. Surely he is touched 
with the feeling of our infirmities, and God's pity, though it hath no 
trouble with it, is real, operative, and efficacious. 

2. His tender mercy is seen in his readiness to hear and help, and 
come in to the cry of his people, if they be but anything humble and 
profitable in their afflictions : Isa. Iviii. 10, ' And if thou draw out 
thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, then shall thy 
light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noon day ; ' Luke 

VER. 156.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 163 

xv. 20, ' And he arose and came to his father ; but when he was yet 
a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran and 
fell on his neck, and kissed him.' When the son was coming, the 
father ran to meet him : Isa. Ixv. 24, ' Before they call, I will 
answer ; ' as if God could not tarry to hear the prayer made : Ps. 
xxxii. 5, ' I said, I would confess my transgression unto the Lord, 
and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin;' Jer. xxxi. 19, 20, 'Surely 
after I was turned, I repented ; and after that I was instructed, I 
smote upon my thigh : I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because 
I did bear the reproach of my youth. Is Ephraim my dear son ? is 
he a pleasant child ? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly 
remember him still ; therefore my bowels are troubled for him, I will 
surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.' The first relentings of 
the creature work upon the bowels of God's mercy ; when we do but 
conceive a purpose, the Lord is easy to be entreated. 

3. By the motives that do induce God to show mercy, the bare 
sight of our misery, and therefore the saints do so often represent their 
condition : Ps. Ixix. 20, ' I am poor and sorrowful ; let thy salvation, 
Lord, set me on high.' You see he bringeth no other argument 
but his grief and misery. Justice seeketh a fit object, mercy a fit 
occasion: Deut. xxxii. 36, 'For the Lord shall judge his people, and 
repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is 
gone, and there is none shut up or left.' 

Thirdly, The next adjunct is 'great/ The mercies of God are sel 
dom spoken of in scripture but there is some additional word to show 
their plenty and excellency ; as Ps. cxxx. 7, f For with the Lord there 
is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption;' 1 Peter i. 3, 
' Which according to his abundant mercy ;' and Eph. ii. 4, ' But God, 
who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he hath loved us.' 
So Eph. ii. 7, 'The exceeding riches of his grace,' virep{Bd\\ovTa 
TT\OVTOV. Paul thinketh he can never word it enough: when he 
speaketh of mercy, he saith it over over-abounded; all to show the 
multitude and greatness of God's mercies. So Ps. Ii. 1, we read of the 
multitude of his tender mercy. It must needs be so if we consider 

1. How many there are to whom God hath done good, even as 
many as there have been, are, and shall be creatures in the world. 
None that ever had a being, but tasted of God's goodness. Nay, for 
his special mercies, the same persons that are pardoned, all the elect 
from the beginning of time, till the day of judgment. What hath 
God been doing these thousands of years that the world hath con 
tinued, but multiplying pardons and passing acts of grace in favour of 
his people ? Time would be no more, but only that there are some 
more whom God meaneth to pardon : 2 Peter iii. 9, ' Not willing that 
any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.' When 
we come to heaven, how many monuments of grace" shall we see there! 
A man would think that the unthankful world had given discourage 
ment, and God should wait no longer ; but yet there are some vacant 
places to be filled : ' In my Father's house are many mansions/ John 
xiv. 2. We waste by giving, give from ourselves what we give to 
another ; but this fountain is never dry : Kom. v. 10, ' The free gift 
is of many offences/ 


2. How many benefits he bestoweth on every one, many repeated 
acts of grace of the same kind, divers kinds of benefits, bodily mercies, 
soul mercies : Ps. xl. 5, ' Many, Lord my God, are thy wonderful 
works which thou hast done ; and thy thoughts, which are to usward, 
they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee : if I would declare 
and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.' Private 
mercies and public mercies, mercies in hand and mercies in hope : 
Ps. xxxi. 19, ' Oh! how great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up 
for them that fear thee, which thou hast wrought for them that trust 
in thee before the sons of men.' We have not one sin, but many 
sins ; not one misery, but many miseries ; therefore we have many 
mercies. The creatures are always in some necessity, and so are 
always an object of mercy. How many supports this life continually 
needeth ! all which the providence of God supplieth to us. 

3. The greatness of these effects, the sending of his Son : 1 John 
iv. 9, 10, * In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because 
that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, that we might 
live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that 
he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins.' The 
gift of the Spirit himself to be everlastingly with us, John xiv. 16, 
and by present troubles to prepare us for future glory, 2 Cor. iv. 17, 
and Kom. viii. 18. Surely nothing but mercy, and great mercy, could 
do all this for us. 

Use 1. To exhort us to consider of this, and to meditate much upon 
this attribute. To this end I shall lay down a few considerations : 

1. All that come to God should consider of his mercy ; it is the 
great motive to repentance, and beginning our acquaintance with 
God : Joel ii. 13, ' And rend your hearts, and not you? garments, and 
turn to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to 
anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil/ Our 
distrustful and unbelieving thoughts draw an ill picture of God in our 
minds. We think him a hard and austere one, that is more ready 
to condemn us than to receive us to mercy. Thus we look upon him 
in the glass of ^ our guilty fears. Oh no ! he is merciful, if we will 
but stoop to him. Besides, it is a great check to our pursuit of carnal 
vanities : Jonah ii. 8, ' They that seek after lying vanities forsake 
their own mercies.' Thus to the secure and careless, when they con 
sider all this grace and tender mercy, it is the great means to over 
come them with kindness. A serious consideration of what God hath 
done and is ready to do for us: Bom. xii. 1, 'I beseech you by the 
mercies of God.' Saul wept when David had spared him, 1 Sam. 
xxiv. 16. If we had not let all ingenuity : ' I am not worthy of all 
the mercy and truth which thou hast showed unto thy servant/ Gen. 
xxxii. 10. Then when we come to a reckoning and audit with God, 
how great is the sum of them ! There are more effects of his mercies, 
and of more diverse kinds : Ps. cxxxix. 17, ' How precious also are 
thy thoughts unto me, God ! how great are the sum of them ! ' 

2. It is not enough to know that God is merciful, but we must also 
consider how great and tender his mercy is ; for God's children are 
wont to have great and large thoughts of it. We must think of it as 
becometh the infiniteness of his nature whose mercy it is : Isa. Iv. 8, 

VER. 156.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 165 

9, ' For my thoughts are not as your thoughts, nor my ways as your 
ways, saith the Lord : for as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your 
thoughts;' Hosea xi. 9, 'For I am God, and not man.'' We must 
not straiten God to our scantling ; our drop is soon spent. Peter, a 
good man : What ! forgive seven times a-day ? How tender it is ! 
It is so natural to God. Acts of punitive justice are exercised with 
some reluctancy, but he rejoiceth over them to do them good; he is 
strongly inclined to let out his goodness to unworthy and miserable 
sinners who deserve the contrary from him. The sea doth not more 
naturally flow, nor the sun more naturally shine, nor fire more natu 
rally burn, than God doth naturally show mercy. These thoughts 
will answer all the doubts and fears of a penitent Thou canst never 
have too large thoughts of God. 

3. We shall never have such great and large thoughts of God's 
tender mercy as when they arise from our own experience and par 
ticular observation. To know God by hearsay will not work upon 
you as when we have seen him ourselves; as they said unto the 
woman, John iv. 42, 'Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for 
we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, 
the saviour of the world/ We do not think or speak of God with any 
sense and life, affection and admiration, till we have studied his 
nature and observed his ways; otherwise we speak by rote when 
we praise him for his mercies, and it is but an empty compliment : 
Ps. ciii. 1-3, ' Bless the Lord, my soul, and all that is within me 
bless his holy name : bless the Lord, my soul, and forget not all 
his benefits : who forgiveth all thy iniquities, and healeth all thy 
diseases,' &c. 

4. Then will our own experience inform us of the greatness and 
tenderness of mercy, when we are sensible of our sins and miseries. 
When a man seeth his sins great, his dangers great, then he will see 
God's mercies towards him great also : Ps. Ixxxvi. 13, * For great is 
thy mercy towards me, for thou hast delivered my soul from the 
lowest hell.' We do not know the greatness of the pardon but by the 
greatness of the debt, nor the greatness of our protection and deliver 
ance but by the greatness of the danger. God continueth trouble 
upon his people, that they may be sensible of the sweetness of the 
mercy, and his help in their deliverance : Bom. v. 8, ' But herein God 
commendeth his love to us, that while we were yet sinners Christ died 
for us/ 

5. When our sense of sins and miseries hath most recommended 
mercy to us, we should magnify it, both with respect to supplication 
and gratulation. 

[1.] With respect to supplication. When we are under fears and 
discouragements, we should oppose and set these great and tender 
mercies in the balance against our doubts and fears. Our sins are 
many, our troubles great, yet let us not be discouraged from praying, 
and making our supplication to God ; for God will pardon a penitent 
people, and help a sensible supplicant. The more sensible of our 
misery, the fitter objects for mercy. What is it that troubleth us ? 
fear of not speeding with God in prayer ? You hear how soon he 


relenteth when you relent and lie at his feet ; for to what use doth 
pardoning mercy serve but to encourage broken-hearted sinners? 
' We have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful kings.' Ben- 
liadad having lost the day, and in great fear of losing his life with 
his kingdom, his friends comforted him with the fame they had heard 
of Israel's kings, 1 Kings xx. 31. We know most certainly it is hard 
to raise up truly poor, downcast sinners, how presumptuous soever 
they have been before. God would have these by all means to be 
encouraged; so that though you have many objections from your 
unworthiness, the multitude and greatness of your sins. Or is it the 
power of men, and difficulty of our deliverance? God's mercy is 
beyond the proportion of their cruelty. The more violent and ungodly 
our oppressors are, the more hope of God's pity towards us: Ps. 
Ixxxvi. 14, 15, ? God, the proud are risen against me, and the 
assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul, and have not set 
thee before them : but thou, Lord, art a God full of compassion, 
and gracious, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.' 

[2.] Let us magnify it as to gratulation: Gen. xxxii. 10, 'I am 
not worthy of all the mercy/ &c. Less than the least of all thy mer 
cies. Let us consider our unworthiness ; that God may have all 
the glory. 

Use 2. To press us to be merciful : we should be like God, let us 
put on bowels of mercy: Col. iii. 12, ' Put on therefore, as the elect of 
God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of 
mind, meekness, long-suffering ;' Luke vi. 36, ' Be ye therefore merci 
ful, as your heavenly Father also is merciful.' 


Princes have persecuted me ivithout a cause : but my heart standeth in 
awe of thy ivord. VER. 161. 

IN this verse we have 
First, David's temptation. 
Secondly, The godly frame of his spirit. 
First, In David's temptation, take notice of 

1. The nature of it, it was a persecution. 

2. The instruments of it, Saul, and the chief men about him, princes. 

3. The malice and groundlessness of it, ivithout a cause. 
Secondly, The godly frame of his heart, but my heart, &c. And 

there we have 

1. The seat of his affection, my heart. 

2. The kind of the affection, standeth in awe. 

3. The object of it, the ivord of God. 

First ^With David's temptation I will not meddle any further 
than an introduction, or the necessity of an exposition enforceth me a 
little to reflect upon. And 

1. From the nature of it. Persecution is one of the ordinary trials 
t*od s children. As God chasteneth them because they are no better, 

YER. 161.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 167 

Isa. xxvii. 9, so the world persecuteth them because they are so good, 
John xv. 19. This ever hath been and ever will be the lot of God's 
children while there are two seeds in the world : Gen. iii. 15, ' And I 
will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed 
and her seed.' And the apostle saith, Gal. iv. 29, ' But as then he 
that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the 
spirit, so it is now.' The first place speaketh of the antipathy between 
the church and its open opposites ; the second was in Abraham's 
family, and it is brought to comfort the true members of the Christian 
church against those persecutions which they sustained from the false 
apostles and such as adhered to the Jewish synagogue. Isaac was 
begotten by the power of God's Spirit, according to the tenor of the 
promise ; Ishmael by the ordinary strength of nature, a figure of the 
regenerate and unregenerate, John i. 13. Persecution is a thing 
common to the church in all ages, then and now ; therefore, as they 
grow worse, let us grow better ; and let us be content to take the 
ordinary way, by the cross, to come to the crown. 

2. The instruments of his trouble were Saul and his chief men 
about him. The man of God had said, ' Many are my persecutors,' 
ver. 157 ; now he showeth they were not mean ones, and of the in 
ferior sort, but such as by their power were able to crush him, such as 
by their place should be a refuge to him. I observe, the trial is the 
sorer when our trouble cometh not only from the basest of the people, 
but from the rulers themselves. No doubt a great part of the people 
followed Saul in his persecuting of David, yet the nobles most troubled 
him. In the primitive times, lapidibus nos invadit inimicum vulgus 
the base riff-raff were most ready to stone the Christians; but this 
was mere brutish rage : a multitude, though they have power, yet they 
have no authority. But when the rulers were set against them, and 
persecuted them with edicts and punishments, then the greatest havoc 
was made of them. To see God's ordinance abused maketh the trial 
the more grievous. The godly should be defended by their governors, 
for therefore they are called the shields of the earth, Ps. xlix. 9. But 
now when they persecute them for righteousness' sake, it is a sore but 
no strange temptation. They may do so partly out of ignorance : 1 
Cor. ii. 8, ' Which none of the princes of this world knew, for had they 
known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory ; ' and partly 
out of prejudice and blind zeal ; so the corner-stone is refused by the 
builders, IPs. cxviii. 22, applied to Christ's persecutors : Acts iv. 11, 
' The stone that was set at nought by you builders is become the head 
of the corner ;' and partly by the instigation of evil men. Wicked men 
labour to engage those who are in power against the people of God, 
and make them odious to them : Prov. xxix. 10, ' The bloodthirsty 
hate the upright/ Flattery giveth the first onset to the work of im 
piety, Acts xxiv. 1-3. And partly because riches and power efferate 
men, swell them with pride, fill them with enmity against the ways of 
God : Ps. cxxiii. 4, ' Our soul is exceedingly filled with the scorning 
of those that are at ease, and the contempt of the proud/ Well, then, 
let us not be dismayed though great men be prejudiced against us, 
and we have powerful enemies in church and state : Mat. x. 17, 18, 
' But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to the councils, and 


they will scourge you in their synagogues ; and ye shall be brought be 
fore governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and 
the Gentiles/ Though we be persecuted with censures, civil and eccle 
siastical, and both judicatures thunder against us: John xvi. 1, 2, 
1 These things have I told you, that you should not be offended ; they 
shall put you out of the synagogue ; yea, the time cometh when they 
that kill you will think they do God good service.' It is a stumbling- 
block to see power, which is of God, bent against God and his interest ; 
the beast in the Kevelations pushed with the horns of the lamb. But 
Christ hath told us of these things beforehand, that we should be fore 
armed against them. 'Christ's followers must not only look for injuries 
from wicked men in a tumultuous way, but ordinarily carried by fixed 
judicatures ; thrown out of the church by excommunication, and out of 
the world by death. Let us bless God that our rulers deal more 
Christianly by us ; and let us not irritate them, but show all love and 
meekness and obedience ; and let the mild government of our gracious 
sovereign move us to pray to God for the continuance of his life, and 
the prosperity of his affairs : it is but a necessary gratitude that we 
should pay him for the rest and peace we enjoy under him. 

3. The malice and groundlessness of this persecution, ' without 
cause.' David did not suffer for his deserts as an evil-doer ; he had 
done nothing disobediently against Saul's authority; when he had 
spared him in the cave, he giveth him an ample testimony : 1 Sam. 
xxiv. 17, ' Thou art more righteous than I, for thou hast rewarded me 
good, but I have rewarded thee evil.' Again, he had another testimony 
when he surprised his camp sleeping : 1 Sam. xxvi. 21, ' Return, my 
son David ; I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was pre 
cious in thine eyes : behold I have played the fool, and have erred 
exceedingly.' Theodoret expoundeth this of the next verse, with 
application to these passages. When David found Saul asleep he would 
not kill him, and this was more comfort to him. than if he had slain 
and obtained all their spoils. Observe, we may the better represent 
our case to God when we suffer without a cause ; then our sufferings are 
clean sufferings, more comfortable to us, and honourable to God. It 
was Daniel's glory that they could find no occasion or fault against 
him, but only in the matter of his God, Dan. vi. 4, 5. Blameless car 
riage disappoints the malice of wicked men, or shameth them. Cajus 
Sejus vir bonus nisi quod Christianus. Now a pretended crime doth 
not take away the glory from us. Saul pretended that David was an 
enemy to his life and crown, but David declared the contrary by word 
and deed ; he might have slain him twice. * Put to silence the ignorance 
of foolish men/ 1 Peter ii. 15. There may be in man's court a cause 
which before God is no just cause, as when we are punished for the 
breach of law which is contrary to our duty to God: Ps. xciv. 20, 
* Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which f rameth 
mischief by a law ? ' 

Well, then, whatever we suffer, let it be without a cause. There is 
cause enough on God's part to afflict and strike us for our sins ; but 
on man's part, let us not procure sufferings to ourselves by our provo 
cations. We shall hereby have more peace in sufferings, and bring 
more honour to religion : 1 Peter iii. 17, ' For it is better, if the will 

YER. 161.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 169 

of God be so, that ye suffer for well-doing, than for evil-doing ; ' 1 
Peter iv. 15, 16, ' But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a 
thief, or as an evil-doer. Yet if any suffer as a Christian, let him not 
be ashamed ; but let him glorify God in that behalf.' Surely Christ's 
cross is more comfortable than the cross of Barabbas. 

Secondly, Let us come to his gracious frame of heart, to stand in 
awe of the word, but my heart standetk in awe of thy word. 

Doct. It is a gracious frame of heart to stand in awe of the word 
of God. 

God's people are often described by it : Prov. xiii. 13, ' Whoso de- 
spiseth the word shall be destroyed ; but whoso feareth a command 
ment shall be rewarded.' There are many fear a judgment, when, to 
visible appearance, it is like to tread upon the heels of sin ; yea, and 
some fear a threatening, at least when it is like to be accomplished ; 
but who fears a commandment but a gracious heart ? This is reason 
enough to draw back if a commandment stand in the way ; it is more 
than if there was a lion in the way, or a band of armed enemies, or an 
angel with a drawn sword, such as stood in the way to stop Balaam. 
They have a deep reverence of God's authority, and dare not break 
through, when God by his law hath fenced up their way. So Isa. Ixvi. 
2, ' To him will I look that is of a poor and contrite spirit, and trem- 
bleth at my word ; ' a man that is affected according to his doom and 
sentence passed in the word ; if the word speaketh bitter things, or the 
word speaketh peace, accordingly the man is affected ; this is the man 
that God will look at : Ezra ix. 4, ' Then were assembled unto me 
every one that trembled at the words of the God of Israel.' None so 
careful to redress disorders, to use all the means they can to prevent 
judgment, as those that tremble at God's word ; and therefore they 
above others did assemble to Ezra. A man hath gained a great point 
when he doth riot value his condition by external probabilities, but by 
the sentence of the word. It is hopeful if the word speaketh good unto 
it, sad when the word speaketh bitter things. This man will be other 
wise affected than the most are, and more careful to please God. Once 
more : Ezra x. 3 y ' Those that tremble at the commandment of our 
God.' Shechaniah referreth the reformation to them. These are per 
sons exactly conscientious ; they make God's commandments their rule, 
and tremble at the apprehension of having anything done against God's 
will. None so fit as they to judge of cases of conscience and to regu 
late affairs ; men that enlarge themselves, and do not stand so nicely 
on the will of God, will be more lax and complying with their own 
lusts and the humours of men. 

1. I will show you what it is to stand in awe of the word. 

2. Then give you the reasons why they that are godly will do so. 
First, What it is to stand in awe of the word. We will determine 

it by opening the circumstances of the text. And 

1. Let us take notice of the seat of this affection, the heart, ' My 
heart standeth in awe of thy word/ A true reverence of the word of 
God must be planted in the heart, or else all outward profession of 
respect is but hypocrisy : Ps. 1. 16, 17, ' Unto the wicked God saith, 
What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldest 
take my covenant into thy mouth ? seeing thou hatest instruction, and 


easiest my words behind thy back/ Many may solemnly pretend to 
piety, and talk of it, and perhaps preach of it, to others, but do not 
exactly reform their carnal practices ; they do but abuse themselves 
and deceive others. So strangely are many bewitched with their own 
deceitfulness of heart and power of Satan^that they can without re 
morse of conscience profess the true religion, pretend to a covenant 
with God, yet affront that religion by being loose and scandalous, and 
can break the covenant without any scruple ; such are contemners of 
God's word, however they seem reverencers of it. That psalm speaketh 
of the collection of the gospel church : ' Gather my saints together, who 
have made a covenant with me by sacrifice ;' not that of bulls and 
goats, but by Christ Jesus. But many profane this covenant, and are 
carried away by every temptation, some as greedy thieves and extor 
tioners, some as filthy adulterers, some as haters of godliness, some as 
injurious slanderers and whisperers and backbiters. In the Christian 
world, this prediction is too plainly verified ; the carnal Christian and 
the serious Christian profess respect to the same Bible, to believe the 
same creed, to enter by the same baptism, to claim privilege by the 
same covenant, yet hate one another, and are as contrary one to an 
other as perfectly as infidels and pagans. On the one side, there is 
mouth-respect to the word, on the other, heart-respect ; the one in 
outward covenant with God, the other brought into the inner court. 
God beareth long with the former sort, but will not bear always : so 
Jer. xii. 2, ' Thou art near in their mouth, but far from their reins.' 
They profess thee in word, but deny thee in heart and in deed ; draw 
near thee in show and pretence as a people in league with thee, but 
their hearts, love, and affection are wholly estranged from thee ; and 
would take it ill to have their religion disproved or questioned, yet are 
not brought under the power of it. So Isa. xxix. 13, ' This people 
draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips honour me, 
but have removed their heart from me, and their fear towards me is 
taught by the precepts of men;' because of tradition, teaching by 
authority, maintaining or enjoining the worship of God. A worship 
and respect to God they will have, but such as doth not proceed from 
an impression upon their hearts, but only in compliance with their 

2. The kind of the affection, ' standeth in awe/ There is a twofold 
awe of the word (1.) One that drive th us from it ; (2.) Another that 
draweth us to it. 

[1.] Fear and awe of the word which driveth us from it is spoken 
of John iii. 20, 21, ' For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, 
neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he 
that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made 
manifest that they are wrought in God. 7 Carnal men, who live con 
trary to the light of nature and scripture, that they cannot endure any 
thing which should put them into serious remembrance of God, This 
is an effect of legalism and slavish fear, which as it bewrayeth itself in 
its carriage towards God himself, so also in its carriage towards his 
saints and word. Towards God himself: a slavish fear of God is 
always accompanied with an aversation or turning away from him ; as 
guilty Adam was afraid of God, and hid himself in the bushes, Gen. iii. 

VEE. 161.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 171 

10 ; and still an unsound conscience is shy of God, and hangeth off 
from him. So towards the saints, who have God's image printed upon 
them ; they fear the saints and hate them ; as Herod feared John, and 
put him to death, Mark vi. 20. Still men malign what they will not 
imitate. Natural conscience in them doth homage to the image of 
God, shining forth in the lives of his people ; they see an excellency 
in them which they have not ; and because all those who keep up the 
majesty of their profession are objects reviving guilt, they hate them ; 
and if their hatred be more than their fear, they destroy them when it 
is in their power. So for the word ; they are afraid of the word, so as 
to stand at a distance from it, and cannot endure it, no more than sore 
eyes can the light of the sun. They have a mind to cherish their lusts 
and carnal practices, and therefore hate the light which disproveth 
them ; as they that would sleep draw the curtain to keep out the 
light ; whereas, on the contrary, the godly delight to have their ways 
tried and made manifest by this light ; it is a refreshing light to them, 
but a reproving and discovering light to others ; it convinceth them to 
be what they are. Now they shun all means of searching and know 
ing themselves, by wishing such things were not sin, or not desiring to 
know them so, and that there were not a God to punish them. But a 
sincere man is otherwise affected; he is jealous and suspicious of him 
self, he bringeth his work to God's balance, and cannot quiet his con 
science without God's acceptance. 

[2.] There is an awe of the word, not that maketh us shy of it, but 
tender of violating it, or doing anything contrary to it. This is not 
the fruit of slavish fear, but holy love ; it is not afraid of the word, but 
clelighteth in it, as it discovereth the mind of God to us, as in the next 
verse. This is called by a proper name, reverence, or godly fear ; when 
we consider whose word it is, God's ; who is our God, and hath right 
to command what he pleaseth ; to whose will and word we have 
already yielded obedience, and devoted ourselves to walk worthy of 
him in all well-pleasing ; who can find us out in all our failings, as 
knowing our very thoughts afar off, Ps. cxxxix. 2 ; and having all our 
ways before him, and being one who will not forgive our wilful trans 
gressions : Josh. xxiv. 19, ' He is a holy and jealous God ; he will 
not forgive your transgressions and your sins/ that would impenitently 
continue in them ; and so we receive the word with that trembling of 
heart which God so much respects. 

3. The object, * thy word ; ' that is, the whole word of God the 
precept with its double sanction, the threatening and the promise ; the 
precept is the rule of our duty ; the sanction, of God's proceeding. We 
are to stand in awe not only of the threatening, but the precept itself ; 
for love to God hath a great influence in producing this awe of the 
word. It is in angels and heavenly creatures, whose happiness is 
absolutely secured to them, Jude 4. The great ground of it is God's 
authority ; and that is seen in the precept as much as in the sanction. 
God's will is the reason of our duty, and his will declared in his word 
is the rule of it; and the saints obey intuitu voluntatis a bare sight 
of his, though no inconvenience should follow of it : 1 Thes. iv. 3, * For 
this is the will of God ;' 1 Thes. v. 18, ' For this is the will of God 
concerning you in Jesus Christ ; ' 1 Peter ii. 15, ' For so is the will of 


God,' <fcc. But yet I would not exclude the sanction ; no, not the sad 
part of it; neither the threatening, nor the promise ; because I dare 
not contradict any of the Holy Ghost's methods ; nor exclude his 
argument from having an influence upon our obedience, as he telleth 
us of Moses, who had an eye to the recompense of reward, Heb. xi. 26. 
So of Job, who was tender of doing anything contrary to the will of God, 
because destruction from God was a terror to him, Job. xxxi. 23. To 
be afraid of God's judgments in a holy manner is not sin, but a grace, 
a great point of our duty ; yea, a matter of faith to apprehend that 
destruction which God in his word threateneth to sinners. Unbelief 
of the threatening had a great predominancy in the first sin : ' Ye 
shall not surely die,' Gen. iii. 4 ; and still it is a main ingredient. 
Men embolden themselves to rebellion because they look upon God's 
wrath as a vain scaTecrow, and that he doth only frighten us with a 
deceitful terror and a flash of false fire. But yet reflection upon the 
threatening must not be alone, that breedeth legalism ; nor yet upon 
the promises alone ; but a deep awe and reverence of God's authority 
must be the main thing that swayeth the conscience. A Christian 
should have no more to move or stop him, than to know what God 
will have him do or not do. That terror that doth arise from a mere 
slavish fear of God as a judge and avenger is not right ; but such an 
awe as doth at once arise from looking upon God at once as a wise 
lawgiver, a gracious father, and righteous judge. A son, a child, if 
he take liberty to break the bonds of duty, shall smart for it : though 
a believer obeyeth and keepeth off from sin upon higher and nobler 
terms than wrath, yet he maketh a good improvement of these terrors 
also ; for godly fear is influenced by God's being a consuming fire : 
Heb. xii. 29, 30, ' Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God 
acceptably, with reverence and godly fear ; for our God is a consuming 

Secondly, We come to the reasons why we should stand in awe of 
the word of God. 

1. From the author of it ; it is God's word, not the word of a weak 
man, but of the great and mighty God. His authority is supreme, 
his power infinite, his knowledge exact, his truth unquestionable, his 
holiness immaculate, his justice impartial. The same reasons which 
move us to fear God do move us also to reverence his word ; and add 
this above all the rest, that therein his truth is impawned to us, and 
by it he obi i get h himself to make good both his threatenings and his 
promises. Three things I shall take notice of, which showeth God's 
stamp and impress upon the word : 

[1.] Its authority in searching the heart: Heb. iv. 12, 13, 'The 
word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 
sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, joints 
and marrow; and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the 
heart ; ' that is, as a sharp sword doth pierce asunder between joints 
and marrow, so doth the word divide soul and spirit ; and is a dis 
cerner, that is, of the convictions of the mind, and the disposition and 
inclination of the soul, or sensual appetite. The soul cleaveth to the 
sin when the mind or spirit disliketh it ; or plotteth pretences to hide 
it from himself or others, even in those sins which lie as hidden in the 

VER. 161.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 173 

mind as the marrow in the bones. Secret purposes fall under its j udg- 
ing power as well as practices accomplished. And what use must 
we make of this, but that we stand in awe of the word, avoiding what 
it forbiddeth, and following what it commandeth. Now, to evidence 
this property of the word, he urgeth the ornniscence of God, whose 
word it is : ver. 13, ' Neither is there any creature that is not mani 
fest in his sight ; for all things are naked and open to him with whom 
we have to do.' As the sinner's secret thoughts are under the sight of 
the all-seeing God, so they are under the piercing power of his word ; 
for God joineth with his word, and giveth it that discovering and 
piercing virtue. So the apostle of the word preached or explained it : 
1 Cor. xiv. 24, 25, ' He is convinced of all, and judged of all ; and 
thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest ; and so falling down 
on his face, he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a 
truth/ The word is the rule, God is the judge ; and the word being 
assisted by God, God is there where the word is ; and so doth ransack 
the conscience, and discover men to themselves in order to judgment. 

[2.] It hath a mighty power and force, because of the spirit that 
goeth along with it : Eom. i. 16, ' It is the power of God to. salvation ; ' 
1 Cor. i. 22, c The gospel is the power of God, and the wisdom of God.' 
It is powerful to convince, even there where it converts not ; as Felix 
trembled, Acts xxiv. It is powerful to convert from one religion to 
another, from one state to another. (1.) From one religion to another : 
'Have any of the nations changed their gods?' Jer. ii. 11. There 
needs much ado to bring men from a false religion wherein they have 
been brought up, how vain and foolish soever it be ; yet this power the 
word hath. Though the doctrine of a crucified Christ were so distaste 
ful, partly as now drawing men from their old temples, and altars, and 
ceremonies, wherein they were educated, especially as incredible, offer 
ing life by one that died ; and partly as contrary to the carnal gust, as 
requiring duties distasteful to flesh and blood, and engaging in troubles 
and persecutions, yet it prevailed. (2.) Converting men from a state of 
nature to a state of grace, so that they are as it were born. To bring 
men to hate what they naturally love, and love what they naturally 
hate ; it is hard to alter the nature of things, Isa. xi. 6 ; to quicken the 
dead, to purify the unclean, confirm the weak, to meeken the proud 
and passionate : Oh ! who would not reverence such a word, such a 
law and doctrine, as can do all this ? Yet this and much more hath 
the word done. 

[3.] Its authority : Eccles. viii. 3, 4, ' Where the word of a king is, 
there is power/ or authority to back it. How is it where God is ? 
We reckon not of the words of a private person, though never so 
wise: Eccles. ix. 16, 'The poor man's wisdom is despised, and his 
words are not heard/ Where the command of a king cometh, it 
cometh with authority ; for he hath power to back it, and to avenge 
himself on whosoever shall contradict it ; but wise counsel, where there 
is no authority to enforce it, is little regarded. But now with God is 
sovereign majesty, and in his word, wherein sentence is pronounced 
concerning every person and action, according to which judgment doth 
proceed and will be executed. 

2. The second reason is taken from the matter of the word ; it is 


direction about our everlasting concernments: Deut. xxxii. 46, 47, 
' Set your hearts unto all the things which I command you this day ; 
for it is not a vain thing, it is your life/ In a ^ matter of life and 
death a man cannot be too exact and nice ; yea, in the obedience or 
disobedience of the word, life or death eternal is concerned ; yea, in 
every action morally considered, the word telleth you what is the merit 
of it, and what will be the event, or an evil or a good estate. Man 
would fain know his destiny, whether happy or miserable ; here you 
may know whether you shall live for ever with God. Man in his laws 
doth not threaten or promise beyond his power ; his power reacheth to 
men's outward estate, and no further, and is only limited to the bounds 
of the present life ; therefore the sanction of their laws are never ex 
tended beyond the promises or threats of present and outward good, to 
give or take away men's liberty, wealth, estate, life at most. But God 
threateneth everlasting fire, Mat. xxv. 41 ; prorniseth an inheritance 
immortal, 1 Peter i. 4. As God commandeth inward holiness, right 
eousness, love, so eternal rewards, and eternal penalties, things that 
concern us more nearly than estates, liberties, peace, yea, our lives 

3. The third reason, because of the profit of standing in awe of the 

[1.] It fortifieth us, and preserveth us in such temptations as arise 
from the fear of man. Where there is a reverence and awefulness of 
God's word, the greater awe overcometh the less. In such a temptation 
a man may miscarry two ways by distrust of God, and disobedience 
to him. The one is the cause of the other. Now that we may not dis 
trust him, it is good to set fear against fear, God against the creature : 
Jer. i. 8, ' Be not afraid of their face, for I am with thee to deliver 
thee, saith the Lord His powerful protection should encourage us 
against their wrathful disposition : Isa. li. 12, 13, ' Who art thou, that 
thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and the son of man, 
that shall be as grass, and forgettest the Lord thy maker?' The 
immortal and almighty God is able to bear us out. A due sense of 
the power of the Almighty checketh the fear of men. Or by disobed 
ience we dishonour him : certainly a gracious heart feareth more to 
offend God than to fall into any temporal inconvenience : Isa. viii. 12, 
13, ' Neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid ; but sanctify the Lord of 
hosts himself, and let him be your fear and dread ;' 1 Peter iii. 14, 15, 
'But if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye, and be not 
afraid of their terror ; but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.' But 
let Jiim be your fear and your dread. Be afraid to offend so holy a 
majesty. The countenance of princes is very awful unto men, but the 
fear of God's wrath should overcome the fear of man's displeasure, even 
of the greatest : Heb. xi. 27, ' He feared not the wrath of the king, 
because he saw him that was invisible/ 

[2.] It majieth a man sincere. When a man standeth in awe of 
the word, he obeyeth in presence and absence, Phil. ii. 12, and avoideth 
secret as well as open sins, Gen. xxxix. 9, sins of thought as well as in 
deedheart-sins, which the laws of men cannot take hold of; but the 
tear of God is instead of all laws, 2 Cor. i. 12. Conscience is to them 
more than shame of men. Something without keepeth back wicked 

VER. 161.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 175 

men ; but something within, the godly. Abner's question was not good, 
* How shall I hold up my face to thy brother Joab ? ' 2 Sam. ii. 22. 
He should have said, How shall I hold up my face to the Lord thy 
God ? Though an upright man might do wickedly, uncontrolled of 
man, and nobody seeth him or punisheth him, yet reverence of God 
and his word restraineth him. 

[3.] It maketh a man punctual and exact when afraid to do anything 
contrary to God's revealed will. It is universal, and it is powerful. It 
is universal; the soul that maketh conscience of the word is more 
thorough in obedience : there will be failings, but, for the main, his 
heart is sound with God ; and lesser failings are retracted by repent 
ance, Ps. cxli. 1, 2. And powerful : ' Stand in awe, and sin not/ Ps. iv. 
4 ; this will cause us to stop in an evil course, on the remembrance of 
our duty ; as David's heart smote him when he cut off the lap of Saul's 
garment. Some think the text then verified, * My heart standeth in 
awe of thy word ; ' a commandment was in his way. 

Use 1. To show us what frame of spirit they are under who despise 
the word. 

1. All do so who deliberately and voluntarily prefer their own will 
before the will of God : 2 Sam. xii. 9, ' Wherefore hast thou sinned in 
despising the commandment ? ' They obey their own inclination, 
whatever the word saith to the contrary. Despising the command 
ment is the root of all sin, as formality of wilful sin. Oh ! that men 
did regard this as they ought ! considering that to despise command 
ments is to despise the Lord himself, and what it is for poor worms to 
despise the God of heaven and earth. Nay, that God that is our 
judge, he hath power to cast both body and soul into hell-fire the 
God whom we are bound by so many ties to obey. 

2. When swayed by delight and profit against the course of our 
duty. Esau sold his birthright to keep him alive, yet despised it, 
Gen. xxix. 31, and Heb. xii. 16. 

3. The case is more aggravated when we cast a precept behind our 
backs for a light pleasure or small profit ; the greater is our contempt to 
break with God for a little trifle ; sell the righteous for a pair of shoes. 

Use 2. To press us to get this blessed frame of heart, to stand in 
awe of the word. 

1. It is a great curb in actual temptations: Gen. xxxix. 9, 'How 
then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God ? ' 

2. It is a great help in reading and hearing : Acts x. 33, ' Now 
therefore we are all present before God, to hear all things that are 
commanded thee of God/ 

3. A great help in humiliation and suing out our pardon : Ps. cxxx. 
3, 4, ' If thou shouldest mark iniquity, who could stand ? but there is 
forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.' 

For means to get this aweful frame of heart. 

1. Faith is necessary. Sundry articles of religion have influence 
upon it. God's power : Mat. x. 28, ' Fear not them that can kill the 
body, but fear him that can cast both body and soul into hell-fire.' 
God's providence, that he observeth human affairs, and accordingly 
doth reward and punish : Hosea vii. 2, ' And they consider not in their 
hearts that I remember all their wickedness, now their doings have 


beset them about, before my face ; ' and Heb. ii. 2, ' And every trans 
gression and every disobedience received a just recompense of reward.' 
A day of judgment: Kom. ii. 5, * But after thy hardness and impeni 
tent heart, treasurest up wrath against the day of wrath, and the reve 
lation of the righteous judgment of God;' eternal recompenses of 
heaven and hell, or the state of the world to come. Those who believe 
not these things are bold and venturous, and out of a daring confidence 
will put it to the trial whose word shall stand, God's or theirs : Jer. 
xliv. 28, ' And all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land 
of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose word shall stand, mine or 
theirs ; ' which shall be fulfilled or made good : Heb. xi. 8, ' By faith 
Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, being moved 
with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house/ 

2. Love is necessary, for reverence ariseth from love. David was 
afraid to displease so good a God, to whom bound by so many ties. 
Surely love breedeth a greater tenderness than a bare sense of danger : 
Hosea iii. 5, ' Fear the Lord and his goodness.' That which maketh a 
wicked man presumptuous maketh a child of God aweful ; he hath to do 
with a good God, and therefore would not offend him, nor cross his 

3. A humble penitent spirit is necessary for this frame of heart. 
Josiah, when he heard the words of the law, he rent his clothes: 2 
Kings xxii. 19. ' Because thy heart was tender, and thou humbledst 
thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this 
place, I have heard thee, saith the Lord ; ' and 2 Chron. xxxiv. 27, 
* Because thy heart was tender/ &c. ; troubled at God's anger. To some, 
nothing is of less consideration with them. 

4. A good stock of knowledge, or frame of divine truths : Ps. cxix. 
11, ' Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against 
thee ; ' Prov. vi. 21, 22, ' Bind them continually upon thy heart, and 
tie them about thy neck ; when thou goest, it shall lead thee ; when 
thou sleepest, it shall keep thee ; and when thou wakest, it shall talk 
with thee.' A treasure of knowledge not only got by heart, but im 
pressed on us by his Spirit. The great new-covenant blessing, Heb. viii. 
10, is God's law written upon the heart by the finger of the Spirit, as 
before on tables of stone, on the directive and imperative powers, the 
heart and mind ; and this maketh us conformable to it in heart and 
life. God's law is said to be in the heart of the godly, that maketh 
them willing to obey : Ps. xl. 8, ' His law is in my heart ; ' tender to 
offend : Ps. xxxvii. 31, ' The law of God is in his heart, none of his 
steps shall slide.' He loveth what is commanded, and hateth what 
is forbidden ; he hath a sense of it, to keep from usual guilt. 

5. Advised consideration and watchfulness : ' Let thine eyes look 
right on, and thine eyelids straight before thee ; ponder the path of 
thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.' When you are about to 
do anything, examine and consider it, whether God alloweth it, yea or 
no. Will it please or displease, honour or dishonour God ? If he 
disallow, forbear, how safe, profitable, or comfortable soever it be ; if 
he allow it, then engage : this holy fear must never be laid aside : 
Phil. ii. 12, ' Work out your salvation with fear and trembling ; ' 1 
Peter i. 17, 'Pass the time of your sojourning here in fear.' 

VER. 162.) SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 177 


I rejoice at thy ivord, as one thatfindetli great spoil VER. 162. 

IN the text 

1. An assertion or declaration of his delight in the word, ' I rejoice 
at thy word/ 

2. An illustration of it by a similitude, taken from those who have 
gotten some notable prey and booty, ' As one that findeth great spoil. ' 

First, The similitude is very expressive, taken from the joy which 
a conqueror in battle doth find in the spoil of his defeated enemies. 
The same similitude is used Isa. ix. 3, ' They joy before thee according 
to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil.' 
He speaketh there of the highest joy; in a time of peace, joy of the 
harvest is the greatest joy ; in a time of war, victory obtained after 
a hazardous fight, and rich spoil and booty gotten. To heighten that 
joy, several circumstances concur : 

1. Deliverance after a doubtful conflict. No man goeth to war 
but carrieth his life in his hands, and the event is very uncertain. 
Now when it is unexpectedly determined on our side, there is great 

2. The joy of victory, especially to be victorious in a battle. 

3. There is booty and spoil, whereby men are enriched, and so 
profit as well as pleasure. 

4. The joy of honour and triumph over fallen enemies. 

5. Peace and ease from toil. All these make the joy of victorious 
men in a battle to be a great joy. 

Secondly, It was a fit similitude for David to use, who was a great 
warrior, and so a man not unacquainted with the joy of victory. A 
gracious heart spiritualiseth every occasion that falleth out in their 
ordinary callings : here is great joy, but this is nothing to the know 
ledge of God's will. 

Thirdly, Every Christian is a warrior against Satan, the world, and 
the flesh ; so it is a fit similitude for them. Victory over sin and 
Satan is above all the conquests in the world ; this is a part of the 
good news the word bringeth to us, Col. ii. 14, 15 ; John xvi. 33. 

Now observe, in the former verse David had expressed his reverence 
to the word, now his delight. 

First, Our trembling at the word doth not hinder our delight in it ; 
none more cheery than the aweful soul: Acts ix. 31, ' They walked 
in the fear of God and comfort of the Holy Ghost ; ' and Ps. cxii. 1, 
' Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth greatly 
in his commandments.' Those who are most observant of God's 
will, and careful to follow it, have the greatest contentment in their 

Secondly, Joy should be mingled with reverence, lest it degenerate 
into slavery and a scrupulous fear. 

Doct. That God's people do greatly rejoice in his word. 

1. It is not an ordinary delight which is here set forth, but such 
as is high and intense, such joy as the richest and most gainful victory 

VOL. ix. M 


i raise in any worldly man. It is incredible, and cannot be expressed, 
how much, joy and comfort the word of God yieldeth to good men ; 
therefore so many similitudes used : ' More than in all riches/ Ps. 
cxix. 14 ; ' Sweeter than honey and the honeycomb,' ver. 103 ; ' I love 
it above gold, and above fine gold/ ver. 127. A joy greater than the 
joy of worldly men. 

2. It is not a light flash, or a fantastical impression, but a solid 
consolation, such as is affliction-proof and death-proof, when the 
strength of this joy corneth to be tried and assaulted by deep 
afflictions. Therefore the heirs of promise are said to have strong 
consolation, Heb. vi. 18. So ver. 50 of this psalm, 'This is my 
comfort in mine affliction, thy word hath quickened me.' 

3. This joy, which is the mark of a sound believer, is delighting to 
know, believe, and obey God's word. For it is in the way of his 
testimonies, Ps. cxix. 14. It is in his commandments they delight 
greatly. Study and contemplation breedeth a pleasure, but nothing 
like practice. The pleasures and delights of the mind do certainly 
exceed those of the body, for the more noble the faculty is, the more 
capable of delight. A man in study hath a truer pleasure than the 
greatest epicure in the most exquisite enjoyments of sense. Now 
moral delights exceed those which are the mere result of contemplation, 
as they give us a more intimate feeling of the worth of things. Again 
those delights which are supernatural, and come from the Spirit, as 
the pleasures of faith and obedience do, exceed those of the natural 
mind as much as those do bodily pleasures, as being exercised about 
nobler objects, which are the sense of the favour of God, and recon 
ciliation with him, and the hopes of eternal life ; and as coming from 
a higher cause, the Spirit of God. Therefore, upon the whole, there 
is no true delight and contentment but what proceedeth from a careful 
performance of God's commands, strictly abstaining from what may 
displease him, and cheerfully practising all that he requireth of us. 
Truly the present gratefulness of such an employment, and the suc 
ceeding comforts of such practices, are a continual feast ; all other 
pleasures to this are nothing worth. The obedience of faith to a 
believer is more than any worldly advantage. It is a sweet thing to be 
exercised in the word of God, in reading and hearing it with serious 
meditation, but much more to be brought under the power and 
practice of it. 

Eeason 1. The godly find glad tidings in the word, suitable to their 
soul's necessities, and therefore rejoice in it. For the object of delight 
is bonum conveniens et sufficiens ; here is enough to content them, 
and it is very suitable. There is pardon of sins, and that is ground 
of joy : Mat. ix. 2, ' Be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee ; ' 
there we hear of a Saviour : 1 Tim. i. 15, ' This is a faithful saying, 
and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world 
to save sinners/ When the gospel was preached at Samaria, Acts 
yiii. 8, ' There was great joy in that city/ Zaccheus received Christ 
joyfully, for he brought salvation to his house, Luke xix. 6. There 
is the true way of mortifying sin and sanctifying the heart : Ps. xix. 
8, ' The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the soul ; the com 
mandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes/ There we are 

VEB. 162.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 179 

told of the joys of the world to come : 1 Cor. ii. 9, ' Eye hath not 
seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the 
things which God hath prepared for them that love him/ We should 
exult for joy to hear of those things. Thus you see the word of God 
affordeth such comforts, such matter of rejoicing, as cannot be par 
alleled. A poor man, when he findeth a treasure, receiveth it with a 
joyful heart. Oh ! what inestimable treasure do we find in the word 
of God ! the way of eternal salvation is there made manifest. 

Reason 2. The saints have felt benefit by it ; they have been 
renewed and sanctified by it, therefore they prize it : James i. 18, 19, 
{ Of his own will begat he us, with the word of truth, that we should 
be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures. Therefore be swift to hear/ 
There they have found powerful heavenly truths, by which their souls 
are made new ; they have tasted God's love in the doctrines and 
promises thereof, and against a taste there is no disputing, 1 Peter ii. 
2, 3. Experimented sweetness is beyond all arguments ; they have 
been revived and comforted by it in their troubles, as at the 93d 
verse of this psalm more largely, ' I will never forget thy word, for by 
them thou hast quickened me/ God hath done their souls good by 
it. It is the charter of their hopes, ver. Ill of this psalm. Whatever 
calamities they meet with in the world, there they see ground of peace, 
and composedness in their soul. 

Reason 3. They love God, and they hear more of him in the word 
than they can elsewhere. The soul that loveth God heareth and 
seeth his blessed name in every leaf; they find the effects of his 
goodness in creation, some fruits and pledges of his love in daily 
providence, but there they find his great eternal and wonderful love 
in Christ ; there they know God's will, and it is their desire to be 
subject to it, and therefore value it, not only as the charter of their 
hopes, but as the rule of their duty. 

Use 1. To condemn them 

1. That find no sweetness in the word of God ; they do not mind 
the business of salvation, and then no wonder if they have a slight and 
mean esteem of the word. 

Two reasons of this contempt : 

[1.] Their scope is not fixed. All means are regarded with respect 
to the end. Now, if they do not make the everlasting enjoyment of God 
their end, the scriptures are of little use to them, a trouble rather than 
a comfort, because they disturb them in pursuing their lusts ; but a 
man that would enjoy God, get to his holy hill, is apprehensive of the 

[2.] They are not affected with their wants, and therefore esteem 
not the word ; for the great benefit of the word is to teach us a remedy 
for sin and misery. Now they that mind not the misery and danger 
in which they stand go on carelessly and despise the word of God : 
Prov. xxii. 3, ' A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself, 
but the simple pass on, and are punished/ They little think of the 
evil which is near them, and so slight the counsel of God. 

2. Those that will not believe them that find sweetness in it, as if all 
were fantastical and imaginary. Are the wisest and most serious part 
of mankind deceived ? and hath the carnal fool only the wit to discern 


the mistake ? Surely in all reason it should be otherwise. These tell 
us of those delights and transports of soul in meditating on the pro 
mises, in purifying their hearts by the precepts ; and though a stranger 
intermeddleth not with their joys, yet surely these rind them. All 
that is spiritual and supernatural is suspected by those who are drowned 
in matters of sense, John xii. 29 ; a voice from heaven is thunder ; 
the motions of the Spirit, fumes of wine, Acts iii. 13 ; joy in the Holy 
Ghost but a fancy, &c. 

3. Them that count it an alphabetary knowledge fit for beginners. 
David was no novice, yet he rejoiced in the word as one that found 
great spoil ; the more conversant he was in these holy writings, the 
more he delighted in them. No ; it is not only children's meat ; there 
is not only milk there, but strong meat also, Heb. v. 14. It is our rule 
to walk by, till ouf blessedness be perfected. The continual storehouse 
of our comforts, Kom. xv. 4. It is the continual means of growing 
into communion with God in Christ. 

Use 2. To exhort us to delight in the word of God. It is the work 
and mark of a blessed man : Ps. i. 2, ' But his delight is in the law of 
the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night/ As far as 
the necessities of the present life will bear it, they are still getting 
more knowledge of true blessedness, and the way that leadeth to the 
enjoyment of it. This is their business and pleasing study. His 
work is to form his heart to a sincere, uniform, impartial obedience, 
And as he doth increase in godliness by the help of the word, his soul 
is more satisfied ; all the joys of the world to this are nothing to him. 
Are your hearts thus set to know the Lord and his revealed will, and 
the way of life ? 

/ hate and abhor lying : but thy laiv do I love. VER. 163. 

IN this verse the man of God showeth his affection to the word by 
the hatred of those things which are contrary to the word. Observe 

1. Affection set against affection., 

i 2. Object against object. 

First, Affection against affection, hatred against love. Love and 
hatred are natural affections, which are good or evil according to the 
objects to which they are applied. Place love on the world, sin, and 
vanity, and nothing worse ; place hatred on God, religion, holiness, and 
it soon proveth a hellish thing. But now, set them upon their proper 
objects, and they express a gracious constitution of soul ; let us hate 
evil, and love good, Amos v. 15, and all is well. Man needeth affec 
tions of aversation as well as choice and pursuit. Hatred hath its 
use as well as love. Love was made for God, and things that belong 
God, and hatred for sin. It was put into us that, at the first ap 
pearance, sense, or imagination of evil, we might retire ourselves and 
fly from it; and is anything so evil as sin, so contrary to God, so bane- 

VER. 163.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 181 

ful to the soul ? The office of love is to adhere and cleave to God, 
and whatever will bring us to the enjoyment of him ; and the office 
of hatred is that we may truly and sincerely turn from all evil with 
detestation, according to the nature and degree of evil that is in it. 
The emphasis of the text is notable, ' I hate and abhor ; ' it must be 
a thorough hatred, which David, Ps. cxxxix. 22, calleth a e perfect 
hatred.' ' 

Secondly, Here is object set against object. As love is opposed to 
hatred, so the law to lying ; for the word oi' God is truth, and requireth 
truth of all that submit to it ; pure sincerity and simplicity. Some 
render the word more generally. The Septuagint a&iiciav efjuid^aa KOI 
e{3Se\vt;dfj,v, 1 1 hate and abominate iniquity.' Other translations 
render it not so ; they expound it so that one kind is put for all the 
rest, and fitly ; for every sin is a falsehood, and often called in this 
psalm, ' A false way, and a lie,' and will fail and beguile all them 
who are delighted with it. And the purport and drift is, that we 
should admit, omit, commit nothing which is contrary to the word of 
God, which is the great object of a holy man's love. 

The points are three : 

Doct. 1. They that love the word of God must hate sin. 

Doct. 2. That a slight hatred of a sinful course is not enough, but 
we must hate and abhor it. 

Doct. 3. That among other sins, we must hate falsehood and lying, 
and all kind of frauds and deceits. 

For the first point. 

Doct. 1. They that love the word of God must hate sin. 

This implieth four things : 

1. That our love must be demonstrated by such effects, otherwise it 
is but pretended, if we do not avoid what it forbiddeth ; for our love to 
God and his word is mostly seen in obedience and dutiful subjection 
to him and it ; for God's love is a love of bounty, our love is a love of 
duty. He is said to love us when he blesseth us, and bestoweth on us 
the effects of his special grace and favour ; we are said to love him 
when we obey him. These propositions are clear in scripture, that our 
love to God is tried by our love to the word, and our love to the word 
by our hatred of sin : John xiv. 21, ' He that hath my commandments, 
and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me ; ' and ver. 23, ' If any man 
love me he will keep my words/ On the contrary, our enmity to God 
and his word is determined by our love to sin. Enmity to God : Col. 
i. 21, ' Enemies in your minds by evil works.' To his word : Eom. viii. 
7, ' The carnal mind is not subject to the law, neither indeed can be/ 
Habitual sin argueth a malice or hatred of God and his holy law ; 
and actual sin, an actual hatred. It is finis operis, if not operantis; 
whether a man thinketh so or no, it is the intent of the action ; a 
rebellion or an act of disloyalty against God. Yea, there is not only 
a virtual hatred in sin, but a formal hatred ; not only implied, but 
expressed : they wish there were not a God to punish them and call 
them to an account, such a law to forbid such practices as they affect, 
or that such things were not sin. Well, then, it is not some kind of 
pleasure in the study of the word will show our love to the word, but 
an impartial, entire, and uniform obedience, strictly abstaining from 


such tilings as it forbiddeth, and carefully practising what it requireth 
at our hands. 

2. That our hatred of sin must flow from such a principle. A man 
may hate sin upon foreign and accidental reasons, and so that abstain 
ing from sin is not a true hatred, but a casual dislike ; as when we 
forbear some sins, but retain others that suit better with our condition, 
callings, employment, temper, or because of some difficulty in compass 
ing, shame in practising, or repugnant to our natural temper. No ; it 
must be out of a principle of love to God : Ps. xcvii. 10, * Ye that love 
the Lord hate evil.' So Ps. cxix. 113, 'I hate vain thoughts, but thy 
law do I love/ A hatred of sin arising from love to God and his 
word is the only true hatred ; that is hatred of sin as sin, as it is 
ai/o/ua, 1 John iii.<.4, ' A transgression of the law ; ' as it is ingratitude 
to God, contrary to our obligations to him, not only as destructive to our 
selves ; not principally timore pwnce, but amore virtutis. The word of 
God furnisheth us with divers reasons and arguments to move us to hate 
sin. They all have their place, but some are more noble and excellent 
than others ; as when a man hateth sin because God hath forbidden it. 
True hatred cometh from a love of the contrary ; therefore he that 
hath a vehement love to the law hateth all things which are contrary 
to it : Mat. vi. 20, ' He will hate the one, and love the other/ There 
is no serving two masters ; love to the one enforceth hatred of the 
other. To love the good and hate the evil are inseparable. 

3. The more we hate sin the more prepared we are to love the law. 
A carnal heart hateth the law : John iii. 20, ' He that doeth evil hateth 
the light ; ' and Kom. viii. 7, ' The carnal mind is not subject to the 
law/ He that doth not hate sin hateth the word of God. We cannot 
delight in it till our affections be purified and sanctified. Men's evil 
practices and dispositions cause them to hate the light ; it is a reprov 
ing light. Can sore eyes delight to look upon the sun ? or an unsound 
heart delight in that which will so ransack and search the conscience ? 

4. According to the degree of love, so will the degree of our hatred 
be. They that have the highest love of the law will have most hatred 
of sin ; they hate every lesser contrariety, a vain thought, Ps. cxix. 
113. They do not only hate open and scandalous sins, but sin carried 
on in a more close and cleanly manner ; yea, they groan under the 
relics of corruption, and feel it a heavy burden : Kom. vii. 22-24, ' For 
I delight in the law of God after the inward man ; but I see another 
law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bring 
ing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members ; ' and 
then, ' wretched man that I am ! ' Next to the object of our affection, 
the principle or spring of it must be regarded ; and next to the spring 
and rise of it, the degree must be looked after, that we love the good 
and hate the evil proportionably ; that is to say, that our hatred must 
be proportionable to the evil of the thing hated, and our love to the 
good of the thing loved. And indeed, where the one is the other will 
be; where -a great love, a great hatred; where a little love, a little 
hatred: Ps. cxix. 127, 128, 'I love thy commandments above gold, 
yea, above fine gold ; therefore I esteem thy precepts in all things to 
be right, and hate every false way/ 

Use. Well, then, if we would show our love to the word, we must 

VEE. 163.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 183 

truly, sincerely, and constantly turn from all known sin with detestation 
and abhorrence ; for hatred of sin is an infallible evidence of love to 
the word. Now hatred of sin, if it be right 

1. It is universal, els TO, yevrj, to the whole kind ; as Haman thought 
scorn to lay hands upon Mordecai alone, but sought to destroy the 
whole race of the Jews, Esther iii. 6. One sin is as inconsistent with 
the love of God as another. There may be as much contempt of God's 
authority in a sin of thought as in a sin of practice, in a small sin as 
in a greater. There may be much crookedness in a small line, and in 
some cases the dye is more than the stuff : ' I hate every false way/ 
It is twice repeated in this psalm, in ver. 104, and ver. 128. To 
hate what God hateth : Prov. viii. 13, ' The fear of the Lord is to hate 

2. It is implacable ; it aimeth at the utter extirpation and expul 
sion of sin. They seek to remove the guilt, to weaken the inclination ; 
they groan sorely under the very being of sin, that anything of sin is 
left : ' wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body 
of this death ? ' Bom. vii. 24. 

3. It is still growing. At first it is a dubious case. Men that are 
convinced have some mind to let sin go, or a wish that Christ would 
save them from it ; but it is with such reserves, that they have rather 
a mind to keep it than let it go ; as Pharaoh had no mind to dismiss 
Israel, and therefore stood hucking with God ; or as David, when he 
sent out forces against Absalom, yet ' be tender of the young man/ 
Pleasing lusts, we have but a remiss will against them ; our love to it 
is greater than our dislike of it ; therefore so unstable, James i. 8. But 
when the soul is converted, the soul is armed with a resolution, 1 Peter 
iv. 1. Then the love of sin is weakened in their hearts, and the 
strength and vigor of it abated ; the soul is armed with a serious pur 
pose to give it up, and shake off this servitude, in the confidence of that 
grace which is purchased for them by Christ's death ; there is a godly 
inclination and bent of soul to live unto God. Again, as our com 
munion with God and sense of his love is increased in us, so our hatred 
of sin groweth more keen and fierce. When God had told what he 
would do for Ephraim, 'What have I any more to do with idols?' 
Hosea xiv. 8. I have had too much to do already. What ! any more ? 
In what proportion there is a sense of God's love, in the same propor 
tion a hatred of evil. Moses, when he had talked with God in the 
mount, at his return he is full of indignation, and broke the tables. 
So those that have had sweet communion with God have a more 
severe displicency against their corruptions, and there is a more lively 
principle at work in their hearts, for the expulsion of them. Every 
act of kindness on God's part layeth a new obligation, and their hatred 
is awakened by the holy use of the ordinances. 

4. The constant discoveries of hatred against sin are watching and 
striving against it ; they are ever careful that they may not offend 
God : Acts xxiv. 1 6, ' And herein do I exercise myself, to keep a con 
science void of offence both towards God and men ; ' and keep striv 
ing, and a serious resistance, even when they are foiled : Kom. vii. 15, 
1 The evil that I hate, that do I/ A Christian always hateth sin, 
though he doth not always prevail against it. In sins of daily infirmity, 


striving is conquering ; but in other sins, they prevail against them by 
degrees ; sin doth not carry it freely, nor reign in them : ' For sin shall 
not have dominion over you ; for ye are not under the law, but under 
grace/ Rom. vi. 14. 

Doct. 2. That a slight hatred of a sinful course is not enough, but 
we must hate it and abhor it : Rom. xii. 9, * Abhor that which is evil ; 
cleave to that which is good.' Hate it as hell, as the word signifieth. 
We do too coldly speak against evil, too slackly follow after that 
which is good. If our pursuit after God were more earnest, and our 
hatred of evil more serious and severe, we should be other manner of 
Christians than we are. There is a twofold hatred (1.) The hatred 
of offence and abomination ; (2.) The hatred of enmity and opposition. 
By the one our hearts are turned from sin, by the other turned against 
it. Now both these are necessary for a Christian that would be safe. 
Hating and abhorring implieth not only a naked abstinence, or a 
simple refusal, but an enmity ; not a forbearing the act, but a mortifying 
the affection. We must not only leave off evil, but abhor it ; and not 
only abhor it, but pursue it with a hostile hatred, purposing, watching, 
striving, praying against it, thwarting the flesh, and contradicting the 
motions thereof. 

Reason 1. It is not else a hatred becoming sin. which is so great an 
evil, so opposite to God's law, and derogatory to God's glory, so mis 
chievous to us. There is a great deal of evil in sin, a great deal of 
evil after sin, that we can never hate it enough. It is the evil of evils, 
that brought all other evils into the world; it is the violation of a 
righteous law, 1 John iii. 4 ; a contempt of God's authority : Exod. v. 2, 
1 Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?' Ps. xii. 4, ' Our 
tongues are our own ; who is lord over us ?' It is a defacing of his 
image, and a casting off the glory and honour of our creation : Rorn. 
iii. 23, ' We have sinned, and are come short of the glory of God.' Ps. 
xlix. 12, * Nevertheless man being in honour abideth not ; he is like 
the beasts that perish.' A despising of his power by a silly worm, as 
if we could make good our party against him : 1 Cor. x. 22, ' Do we 
provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?' It sepa- 
rateth from communion with God : Isa. lix. 2, ' Your iniquities have 
separated between me and you.' It preferreth base satisfactions before 
the enjoyment of him : 2 Tim. iii. 4, ' Lovers of pleasure more than 
lovers of God ;' as if the base and brutish pleasures of the flesh were 
to^be preferred before the love of God.' This and much more may be 
said of sin ; and is any hatred too great for it ? Ps. ci. 3, ' I will set 
no wicked thing before mine eyes : I hate the work of them that turn 
aside ; it shall not cleave to me.' 

Reason 2. No other hatred will serve the purposes of grace. A love 
that is cold will soon fail ; so also will a hatred. Where our zeal is 
not set against sin we soon fall into a liking of it ; therefore the soul 
is not sufficiently guarded by a slight hatred. If sin be not detestable, 
it will soon seem tolerable. There is a brabble between many and their 
lusts, and in all haste sin must be gone ; but the quarrel is soon taken 
up, and sin stayeth for all that. Where the enmity is not great, a 
man's agreement with sin may be soon made. Therefore not only an 
offence, but a hostile hatred is required, such hating and abhorring as 

VER. 163.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 185 

will not admit of reconciliation. Like the hatred of Amnon to Tamar, 
' The hatred wherewith he hated her was greater than the love where 
with he loved her/ 2 Sam. xiii. 15 ; he hated her with hatred greatly. 
Did we more strongly dissent from sin, it would not so easily prevail 
over us. Sin dieth when it dieth in our affections, when our hearts 
are set against it : ' Get you hence,' Isa. xxx. 22. Get you gone ; be 
there from henceforth an utter divorce between me and you. This 
is to hate and abhor. 

Use 1. To show us the reason why so many are entangled again in 
the sins they seemed to renounce and forsake. They have frequently 
resolved to forsake their sins, but these resolutions have come to no 
thing ; they have striven against them, but as a great stone that hath 
been rolled up hill, it hath returned upon them with the more violence; 
or as in rowing against the stream, when the tide hath been strong 
against them, and they have been driven the more back, and therefore 
are discouraged. Yea, they have prayed, and found little success, and 
therefore think it is vain to make any further trial. What shall we 
say then to these ? If the premises were clear, yet the inference and 
conclusion is wrong and false ; for we are not to measure our duty by 
the success, but God's injunction. God may do what he please th, but 
we must do what he hath commanded. Abraham obeyed God, not 
knowing whither he went, Heb. xi. 8. Peter said unto Christ, ' We 
have toiled all night, and have caught nothing ; nevertheless at thy 
command we will cast forth the net.' Though the first attempt suc 
ceed not, yet afterwards sin may be subdued and broken. In natural 
things we do not sit down with one trial or one endeavour, but after 
many disappointments pursue our designs till we complete them. A 
merchant will not leave off for one bad voyage, nor an ambitious man 
because his first essays were fruitless ; and shall we give over our con 
flicts with worldly and fleshly lusts ? That showeth our will is not 
fixedly bent against them, because we cannot presently subdue them. 
' He that will be rich,' 1 Tim. vi. 10. If you had such a will to be holy 
and heavenly. 

2. There is a fault in these purposes, in these strivings and prayers ; 
they do not come from a heart thoroughly set against sin. 

[1.] These purposes are not hearty and real, and then no wonder 
they do not prevail. There may be a slight purpose, and there is a full 
purpose, Acts xi. 23. If thy purposes were more full and strong, and 
thoroughly bent against sin, they would sooner succeed. Is it the fixed 
decree and determination of thy will ? When you are firmly resolved, 
your affections will be sincere and steadfast, you will pursue this work 
close ; not be off and on, hot and cold, unstable in all your ways ; your full 
purpose, or the habitual bent of your hearts, are known by your drift and 
scope. Or it may be this purpose may be extorted, not the effect of thy 
judgment and will, but only thy conscience awakened by some present 
fear. Many are by some pangs and qualms of conscience frighted into 
some religiousness ; but this humour lasts not long : Ps. Ixxviii. 35-37, 
' And they remembered that God was their rock, and the Most High 
their redeemer ; nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, 
and they lied to him with their tongues ; for their heart was not 
right with him, neither were they steadfast in his covenant.' In their 


(hmgers they remembered God, but their hearts were not right with 
him Ahab, in his fears, had some relentings ; so had Pharaoh. The 
Israelites turned to the Lord in their distress, but they turned as fast 
from him afterwards ; resolves not of love, but fear. So are these resolu 
tions wrested from you by some present terrors, which, when they cease, 
no wonder that they are where they were before. Violent things never 
hold long ; they will hold as long as the principle of their violence 
lasteth. Or it may be you rest in the strength of your own resolutions. 
Now God will be owned as the author of all grace, who reneweth and 
quickeneth^every affection in us ; still we must have a sense of our own 
insufficiency, and resolve more in the strength and power of God, and 
rely upon the grace of Jesus Christ, by his Spirit mortifying the deeds 
of the body, as knowing that without him you can do nothing, neither 
continue nor perform our resolutions. Men fall again as often as they 
think to stand by their own power. There is much guile and false 
hood in our own hearts ; we cannot trust them. The saints still 
resolve, God assisting : Ps. cxix. 8, ' I will keep thy precepts ; oh, for 
sake me not utterly ; ' ver. 32, * I will run the way of thy command 
ments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart.' They beg God to keep up 
their inclination and bent against sin : ver. 36, ' Incline my heart to 
thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.' 

[2.] As to striving. Let us examine that a little ; if it be so seri 
ous, so diligent, so circumspect as it should be. Certainly that is no 
effectual striving when you are disheartened with every difficulty ; for 
difficulties do but influence a resolved spirit, as stirring doth the fire. 
No question but it will be hard to enter in at the strait gate, or walk 
in the narrow way. God hath made the way to heaven so narrow and 
strait, that we may the more strive to enter in thereat, Luke xiii. 24. 
Now shall we sit down and complain when we succeed not upon every 
faint attempt ? Who then can be saved ? This is to cry out with the 
sluggard, ' There is a lion in the way.' Should a mariner, as soon as 
the waves arise, and strong gusts of wind blow, give over alt guiding 
of the ship ? No ; he is resolved upon his voyage. To give out upon 
every difficulty is against all the experience and wont of mankind. 
Again, this striving and opposing is but slight, not accompanied with 
that watchfulness and resolution which is necessary. Many pretend 
to watch against sin, yet abstain not from all occasions of sin. If we 
play about the cockatrice's hole, no wonder we are bitten. Never 
think to turn from thy sins, if thou dost not turn from the occasion of 
them : Prov. iv. 15, 'Go not in the way of evil men, avoid it, pass not 
by it, turn from it, and pass away.' This is a practice becoming the 
hatred of sin. Evil company is a snare. If thou hast not strength to 
avoid the occasion, which is less, how canst thou avoid the sin, which 
is greater ? He that resolveth not to be burnt in the fire must not 
come near the flames. Job made a covenant with his eyes, Job xxxi. 
Our Saviour taught us to pray, ' Lead us not into temptation/ 
He doth not say, into sin. Temptation openeth the gate to it. Cer 
tainly itargueth a hankering of mind when we dally with temptations ; 
as the raven, when he is driven from the carrion, loveth to abide 
within the scent of it, so they have an inclination to sin when they 
forbear the practice of it. 

VER. 163.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 187 

[3.] For praying. We oftener pray from our memories than from 
our consciences, and from our consciences enlightened than hearts 
renewed by grace. Prayer, as it is the fruit of memory and invention, 
is but a few slight and formal words said of course, a body without a 
soul ; as dictated by conscience, it may be retracted by the will, at 
noli modo. Austin, when he prayed against his youthful lusts, 
timcbam ne me excluderet Deus, was afraid lest he should be heard 
too soon ; at best but half desires, faint wishes, like Balaam's wish to 
die the death of the righteous. The soul of the sluggard desireth, 
and hath nothing. God never made promise that lazy wishes should 
be satisfied. If you pray against sin with your whole heart, he will 
hear you. The great fault is the want of this thorough hatred 
of sin. 

Use 2. Take heed of two things : 

1. A secret love to your sins, 

2. A remiss hatred against them. 

1. A secret love to sin. Job speaketh of some that hid sin as a 
sweet morsel under their tongues, Job xx. 12, loath to let a lust go ; 
and David of regarding iniquity in our heart, Ps. Ixvi. 18. First 
there is a secret liking of sin, which in time will prove baneful to the 
soul ; some lust is spared, and continueth unmortified. It doth not 
remain so much, as it is reserved, and there keepeth possession for 
Satan. This will in time eat out all our other virtues, and bring a 
stain upon those good properties wherewith God hath endowed us. 
Sin was never heartily cast out, therefore they are in time ensnared 
again, and drawn away by some sensitive lure. 

2. A remiss hatred of sin. No ; there must be a total and full aver 
sion. Hatred and indignation is the soul's expulsive faculty ; it cannot 
be kept in good plight without it. It is the lively and active principle 
which sets the soul a-work, in avoiding what is hurtful to the spiritual 
life : it concerneth us to keep it up in strength and vigour. The 
reason why even believers do so often sin through weakness is because 
the will doth not so strongly dissent as it should. Though we do not 
deliberately give cur assent, it should more potently awaken our dis 
pleasure. But certainly the reason of wilful sin is want of a strong 
hatred. Though convinced of evil, yet we go on like a fool to the 
correction of the stocks, Prov. vii. 22. 

Doct. 3. That among other sins, we must hate falsehood -and lying, 
and all kind of frauds and deceits. 

1. I shall open the particular notion of lying in the text. 

2. Show you the reasons against it. 

First, To open the particular notion of lying. 

lo In the vulgar acceptation and sense of it, we take it to be speak 
ing an untruth, or that which is false, with an intention to deceive. 
Now this is a sin contrary to the new nature : Col. iii. 9, ' Lie not one 
to another, since ye have put off the old man with his deeds.' It is 
not only contrary to that natural order which God hath appointed 
between the mind and the tongue, but to that sincerity and true holi 
ness which is our great qualification and the fruit of regeneration. 
Therefore God saith, Isa. Ixiii. 8, ' Surely they are my people, children 
that will not lie.' God presumeth that his people will not deal falsely, 


but speak as they think, and think of what they speak as it really is ; 
and that Christians will not deceive and circumvent others, since they 
are members of the same mystical body, and should seek one another's 
welfare, as much as they do their own : Eph. iv. 25, * Wherefore put 
away lying ; speak every one truth with his neighbour ; seeing ye are 
members 'one of another/ No ; it is more unseemly in a Christian, 
more inconsistent with grace. In short, no sin maketh a man more 
like the devil : 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 begin 
ning, 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.' 

2. Concealing the truth which should be confessed. God would 
not have his people hide themselves in necessary truths ; he would have 
them believe with the heart, and confess with the mouth, Kom. x. 9, 
10. And Christianity is called a confession, Heb. iii. 1 ; and all 
Christians are saved either as martyrs or as confessors. 

But how far we are to confess lesser truth is a great case of conscience. 
Certainly we must do nothing against a truth, not appear in the garb 
of a contrary party, nor must we lie hid when God in his providence 
crieth out, Who is of my side, who ? We read of some, John xii. 42, 
who ' believed in Christ, yet they did not confess him, lest they should 
be put out of the synagogue ; for they loved the praise of men more 
than the praise of God. 5 Faith is in a very weak condition when 
confession is not joined with it, when men will not own Christ in 
troublous times, and appear in their own shape. Men that have much 
to lose have many worldly considerations ; they think these lose more 
than they can gain, and lose by the praise of God rather than the 
praise of men. Now the sincere Christian saith in these cases, ' I 
hate and abhor lying.' 

3. It is contrary to that obedience to God which we do profess. 
There is a practical lie as well as a virtual lie, when our practices do 
not correspond with our profession ; there is a lie acted, as well as a 
lie told. So Ephraim is said to compass God about with lies, Hosea 
xi. 12. To say we have fellowship with God, and walk in darkness, 
is a lie, 1 John i. 6, a lie that tendeth. to the disgrace of religion, in 
opprobrium Christi : 1 John ii. 4, ' He that saith, I know him, and 
keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.' 
So he that speaketh much of the Spirit, and walketh after the flesh. 

Reason 1. God is a God of truth. God cannot, nor will not lie, 
and his people must be like him. 

Reason 2. His word is the word of truth, his law requireth truth ; 
and all falsehoods and deceits are contrary to that justice and charity 
which it establisheth. His gospel is a gospel of truth : Eph. i. 13, 
' After ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation/ 

Reason 3.' He requireth and worketh truth in the reins and inward 
parts : Ps. li. 7, * Behold thou desirest truth in the inward parts.' 

Use. Oh 1 then, hate and abhor lying. You cannot be accepted of 
God else : Jer. v. 3, ' Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth ? ' 
You cannot have grace in your own hearts : 2 Cor. i. 12, ' This is our 
rejoicing, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, we have had our con- 

VJSR. 164.] 



versations in the world ;' nor long continue undiscovered before men : 
Prov. xxvi. 26, ' His wickedness shall be showed before the congre 
gation/ Let us not lie to God in our promises we make to him : Ps. 
Ixxviii. 34-36, ' When he slew them, then they sought him ; and they 
returned and inquired early after God; and they remembered that 
God was their rock, and the Most High their redeemer : nevertheless 
they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their 
tongues/ In your worship, do not compass him about with lies, com 
plain of burdens which you feel not, express desires which you have 
not. In your profession, do not make it a veil and cover for your lusts. 
A wicked or carnal design is inconsistent with uprightness of heart. 
As to men, abhor all false and deceitful practices and speeches. When 
the apostle biddeth us abhor that which is evil, he first saith, Let love 
be without dissimulation, Kom. xii. 9. You are not to live by interest, 
but by conscience. Therefore abhor all hypocrisy, falsehood, treachery, 
which are unworthy any ingenuous man, much more a Christian. 


Seven times a day do I praise thee, because of thy righteous judgments. 

VER. 164. 

IN these words the man of God giveth further proof of his love and 
delight in the word, by praising God for that benefit. 
His praise is illustrated 

1. By the frequent repetition of that duty, seven times a day do I 
praise thee. 

2. The subject-matter, because of thy righteous judgments, i.e., God's 
dispensations agreeing with his word. 

First, The frequency of the duty, * seven times a day ; ' that is, very 
often ; numerus definitus pro indejinito, a number certain put for an 
uncertain. Seven is often used for many, as Lev. xxvi. 18, ' I will 
punish you seven times more for your sins ;' that is, not exactly seven, 
but many and divers times : Prov. xxiv. 16, 'A just man falleth seven 
times a day, and riseth up again : Prov. xxvi. 25, ' There are seven 
abominations in his heart;' 1 Sam. ii. 5, 'She that is barren hath 
borne seven, and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.' So 
here, I give thanks to thee as often as I meditate of them. Some of 
the Jewish rabbis stick in the very literal number, seven twice in 
the morning, before the reading of the law, and once after it, and at 
noon, and so in the evening as in the morning ; so Kabbi Solomon. 
Indeed elsewhere, Ps. Iv. 17, ' Evening and morning and at noon will 
I praise the Lord;' but whether with such scrupulous observation of 
hours is not certain. 

Secondly, The subject-matter, 'Thy righteous judgments,' whereby is 

1. God's most righteous laws and precepts, called the ordinances of 
judgment and justice, Isa. Iviii. We cannot sufficiently bless God for 
the benefit of his word. 


2. The dispensations of his providence suiting therewith, whether 
they concern us or others. The word is fulfilled in the punishment of 
the wicked, and in giving the promised reward to the righteous. All 
God's dealings are righteous judgments, and matter of praise is still 
offered to us from the comforts and blessings of his providence. 
There is no question of that ; the smallest of his mercies should not 
be overlooked, though notable mercies should be continually remem 
bered, Ps. Ixviii. 19. Not only daily benefits, but great deliverances 
are a standing ground of thanksgiving : Ps. Ixvi. 2, ' Sing forth the 
honour of his name, make his praise glorious, show forth his salvation 
from day to day;' especially now the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ 
and the great salvation is more clearly revealed, we should never 
think of it, nor read it, nor hear of it, without some considerable act 
of joy and thankfulness. Again, so for the dispensations of God to 
others, in protecting his people, in punishing his enemies. It is a 
great confirmation of faith to see promises and threatenings fulfilled 
on others, how punctually God maketh good his word to all that trust 
in him, Ps. xviii. 30 ; on all those that reject it and despise it : ' As 
we have heard, so have we seen/ Ps. xlviii. 8. They that believe the 
word of God, and do mark what is foretold in the word, shall find the 
event and work of providence suitable to the prediction. 

3. God's righteous judgments afflicting of us doth also yield matter 
of praise, as they work together for good to such as love him, Kom. 
viii. 28 ; and the saddest corrections afford necessary and profitable 
instructions : Ps. xciv. 12, ' Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, 
and teachest him out of thy law ;' Ps. cxix. 71, 'It is good for me 
that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes ;' though 
not barely for the afflictions themselves, yet for their fruit and issue, 
that our souls are bettered and humbled by them, and as we see the 
faithfulness of God in them. 

Doct. That the people of God should never cease lauding and mag 
nifying the name of God because of his righteous judgments. 

David was never weary of praising God ; every day he praised God, 
and often every day : love sweetened it to him. We shall praise him 
evermore in the world to come, there it will be our sole employment ; 
but even in this world we should not count it a burden, but praise 
him yet more : Ps. Ixxi. 14, ' I will yet praise him more and more/ 
still magnifying his greatness. 

Here I shall speak 

1. Of the duty, that we should praise God. 

2. Of the continuance, that we should not cease praising God. 

3. The grounds of it in the text, because of thy righteous judg 

First, The duty. 

Secondly, The motives to it. 

First, The duty, and there we have (I.) The nature of it ; (2.) The 
grounds of it ; (3.) The formality ; (4.) The fruit of it. 

1. The nature of it. There are three words used in this matter 
blessing, praising, giving thanks. Sometimes they are used promis 
cuously, at other times there is a distinctness of notion to be observed. 
Blessing is used: Ps. ciii. 1, ' Bless the Lord, my soul/ Blessing 

VER. 164.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 191 

relateth to his benefits ; it respects the works of God as beneficial to 
us ; his mercy, love, and kindness to us. We bless him who hath 
blessed us, Eph. i. 7. Praise relateth to his excellences, as we may 
praise a stranger for his excellent endowments, though we are not 
benefited by them: Ps. cxi. 1, 2, 'Praise ye the Lord; I will praise 
the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in 
the congregation : the works of the Lord are great, sought out of all 
them that have pleasure therein.' It is a great part of our work to 
praise the Lord ; not that he at all rieedeth it, for he is infinitely 
perfect, but he deserveth it, and by this means we testify our love and 
reverence of him, and strengthen our own dependence on him, and 
gain others to him, when we speak good of his name. The other 
word is thanksgiving: Ps. cvii. 1, 'Oh! give thanks unto the Lord, for 
he is good/ This difTereth from the two former, because praise may 
be expressed in words, gratitude and thankfulness in deed ; also it 
hath respect to benefits as well as blessings ; but we show our grati 
tude by obedience. But these are often coincident ; indeed, there is 
a mixture of all in the true praising of God ; excellences and benefits 
are to be acknowledged with heart, mouth, and life. 

2. The grounds of it. Faith and love must be at the bottom of 
our praise, if we would not have it slight and formal ; for the more 
lively apprehensions we have of God's perfections, which is the work 
of faith, and the more sensible of his goodness and mercy, which is the 
work of love, the better is this service performed. Therefore, unless 
these praises flow from a believing, loving soul, they are but an empty 
prattle and a vain sound. Faith is necessary, that is the eye of the 
soul to see the invisible one, Heb. xi. 27. It giveth us an apprehen 
sion of the Lord's excellences in order to love and trust. So also, in 
order to praise, faith sets us before the throne, and doth withdraw the 
veil, and showeth us the eternal God, who liveth and reigneth for 
ever, dispensing all things powerfully, according to his own will: 
that is all the sight we have of God in this life a nearer vision is 
referred to our future glory ; here we see him by faith. Again, love, 
or a deep sense of the goodness of God, which enlargeth the heart 
towards him, and forceth open our lips, that our mouths may show 
forth his praise, Ps. li. 15. There he meaneth God's giving a sweet 
and renewed sense of pardoning mercy : Ps. Ixiii. 3, ' Because thy 
loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee/ An 
intimate sense of the Lord's love sets the tongue a- work to speak of it. 
Praise, then, is the result of faith and love. None else do it seriously, 
delightfully, but where these graces reign and prevail in the heart. 

3. The formality of it is an acknowlegment of the divine virtues, 
benefits, and perfections, manifested to us in his word or works, or 
both. These must be acknowledged by some outward expression: 
words, whereby we express our inward thoughts and apprehensions. 
Our tongues are called our glory : Ps. Ivii. 8, ' Awake up, my glory ;' 
Ps. xvi. 9, ' My heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth.' When that 
scripture is quoted, Acts ii. 26, it is said, ' My tongue is glad/ fyaX- 
Xtao-aro rj yXwa-crd JJLOV. So the Septuagint. So called, not only as 
speech is our excellency above the beasts, but because God is thereby 
glorified and praised ; given us to this end and purpose, to bless God, 


James iii. 9. As our understanding was given us to know God, and 
think on him, so our speech to speak of God, to declare his excellent 
perfections, and to stir up others to praise him with us. 

4. Holiness, the fruit of it ; for as Job said, the sides of the poor 
blessed him, Job xxxi. 20, so must our lives praise God, 1 Peter ii. 9, 
show forth his virtues, not in word only, but in works. Our lives 
must be a constant hymn to God, though we should be silent. We 
remember the Lord's excellences, that we may imitate them, and 
express them to the life. The children of God serve only for this use, 
to represent God to the world, as the image in the glass represented 
the person that looketh in it. So Isa. xl. 21, ' This people have I 
formed for myself ; they shall show forth my praise/ The impression 
of all the divine attributes and perfections must be left upon us, and 
copied out by us, plainly represented in our wisdom, purity, faithful 
ness, and godliness 

Secondly, The motives, because there is no part of God's worship to 
which we are more indisposed. Self-love will put us upon prayers 
and supplications, but love of God upon praises. We are inclined to 
the one by our own necessities, but we need to be stirred up to the 
other by pressing arguments. I will only mention those which are 
heaped up together in one place : Ps. cxlvii. 1, ' Praise ye the Lord, 
for it is good to sing praises unto our God ; for it is pleasant, and 
praise is comely/ 

1. It is good and profitable, a piece of service acceptable in God's 
sight : Ps. 1. 23, ' Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me/ It is a part of 
that spiritual worship required under the gospel, beyond all the sacri 
fices of the law. In other duties we expect something from God, but 
in this we bestow something on him. 

All God's praises are a believer's advantage ; every attribute is his 
storehouse: ' This is my beloved and my friend/ Cant. v. 16; Ps. 
cxxxv. 5, ' For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is 
above all gods/ Yea, it is profitable as it is acceptable: Ps. Ixvii. 
5-7, ' Let all the people praise thee, God ; let all the people praise 
thee ; then shall the earth yield her increase, and God, even our God, 
shall bless us ; God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall 
fear him/ Pliny telleth us of a fountain that would rise, and swell, 
and overflow, at the playing of a pipe or flute, and when that ceased, 
would stop again. The fountain of mercy riseth, and swelleth, and 
overfloweth with new supplies of mercy when we praise and acknow 
ledge the old. 

2. It is pleasant and delightful, full of sweet refreshment. He that 
knoweth not this work is pleasant is unacquainted with it ; for this 
ravishing, transporting joy is matter of experience. When is the 
gracious heart more delighted than when it feasts with God ? All acts 
of obedience have a pleasure accompanying them, especially acts of 
worship, being the nobler part of the spiritual life ; and among them 
praise : Ps. cxxxv. 3, ' Sing praises unto his name, for it is good and 
pleasant/ ^ It is our duty in heaven to praise God, when we are in our 
highest felicity ; therefore this is a work wherein we should rejoice to 

>e employed. It is our reward rather than our work, the heaven that 
we have upon earth ; and nothing so fit to cheer up the spirit as to 

VER. 164.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 193 

remember what a God we have in Christ. The very nature of it hath 
allurement enough to a gracious heart : Ps. xcii. 4, ' For thou, Lord, 
hast made me glad through thy works ;' when God blesseth our medi 
tations of his works with gladness. 

3. It is comely and honourable to be about the employment of angels, 
to be heralds to proclaim the Lord's glory ; nothing so comely for us 
as creatures, who have orar whole being from him. As new creatures, 
we are set apart to be to the praise of his glorious grace in Christ, 
Eph. i. 12. It beareth all men as a debt, which they owe to God, 
though the wicked have no power to perform it. Indeed the new song 
doth ill become the old heart ; but when there is an obligation and a 
capacity, then it is comely indeed. It becometh them to pay, and God 
to receive it from them : Ps. xxxiii. 1, ' Praise is comely for the up 
right.' All are bound to praise God, yet none will do it cheerfully and 
acceptably save the godly : they have obligations above all people in 
the world ; they have a capacity and a heart to do it, and from them 
God most expecteth it. 

Secondly, The continuance, that we should never cease praising 
God. David saith here, ' Seven times a day,' which is the number of 
perfection ; and elsewhere you shall find equivalent expressions : Ps. 
xxxiv. 1, ' I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be con 
tinually in my mouth.' So Heb. xiii. 15, ' Let us offer the sacrifice of 
praise continually, giving thanks unto his name.' So Eph. v. 20, 
4 Giving thanks always unto God for all things.' What is the meaning 
of these extensive particles, 'continually,' 'always,' 'and at all times' ? 
I answer It is not to be understood as if we were without intermis 
sion to be employed in the actual exercise of formal and distinct 
thanksgiving. No ; there are other necessary duties, which sometimes 
must divert us from it ; but the meaning is 

1. That there is continual occasion of praising God. God is con 
tinually beneficial to us, blessing and delivering his people every daj r , 
and by new mercies giveth new matter of praise and thanksgiving. 
And there are some standing mercies which should never be forgotten, 
but be remembered before God every day, as redemption by Christ, 
with all the abundant benefits ; and therefore the gospel church is 
represented by four beasts, or four living wights, together with four- 
and-twenty elders, who ' rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, 
holy Lord God Almighty,' Kev. iv. 8. This is spoken to show that 
matter doth still continue of lauding and blessing God ; and David 
saith, Ps. Ixxi. 8, ' Let my mouth be filled with thy praise, and with 
thine honour all the day.' There is no moment of time wherein we 
are not obliged to praise and glorify God. 

2. This must be understood of the preparation of the heart without 
intermission. We must cherish that disposition of heart which is 
necessary for it. A habit of thankfulness, a heart deeply affected with 
the Lord's excellences and mercies, should ever be found in us, and 
never laid aside ; the instrument must be kept in tune, though it be 
not always played upon. David saith, Ps. Ivii. 7, ' My heart is fixed, 
O God, my heart is fixed ; I will sing, and give praise.' There must 
be a prepared heart, or a fixed purpose to praise the Lord. A renewed 
sense of God's favour, and fresh experience of his goodness to us, do 



draw forth this preparation into act ; yet the preparation must still 
remain with us, and we are to watch against dulness and indisposed- 
ness for this holy work. This preparation is more or less at times, for 
special mercies do raise, enliven, and inspirit the heart; but some 
measure of a thankful disposition, or bent and inclination to praise 
God, must never be wanting. As the Vestal fire among the Komans 
was ever kept in, on special occasions it was blown up ; so there should 
be a habitual frame of heart to praise God at all times, but upon 
some special occasions it must more especially be excited and stirred 
up to it. 

3. We must keep a constant course, and certain order of worship 
ping and praising God, both in public and private. In scripture they 
are said to do a thing always who do it upon stated occasions ; as 
Mephibosheth did* eat continually at David's table, 2 Sam. ix. 13 ; not 
as if always eating, but at the eating times ; and the disciples are said 
to be continually in the temple, praising and blessing God, Luke xxiv. 
53 ; that is, at the appointed times of worship. So we are to set forth 
certain times to bless and praise the Lord, who is continually good to 
us ; especially on the sabbath. See the 92d psalm, the title, with the 
first verse, ' It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to 
sing praises unto thy name, Most High ! ' We are not to omit any 
occasion of formal and direct thanksgiving ; acknowledge mercy and 
faithfulness, the two pillars of our confidence ; as it is to be done con 
stantly, which the former head called for, so frequently, that is, we 
must take every just occasion to perform it, let no special opportunity 
pass. The Lord's mercies are new every moment, Lam. iii. 21, and 
he loadeth us with his benefits daily, Ps. Ixviii. 19. Therefore as God's 
hand is ever open to bless, so should our mouths be ever open to 
praise; and we should never go from this exercise nisi cum animo 
revertendi, but with a purpose to return to it again. We have poor 
temporary affections towards God, and are very rare and infrequent 
iu these duties ; though we are daily receiving more and more bene 
fits, yet we are slow and backward to this work. Every hour, every 
minute, every moment, God is obliging us to it anew ; therefore we 
should say, ' I will praise him more and more/ 

Thirdly, The ground of praising mentioned in the text, ' Because of 
thy righteous judgments.' Here observe 

1. The term is one of the notions by which the word of God is ex 
pressed. Surely all kind of mercies are the matter of praise, especially 
spiritual mercies ; and among these, his word, for this is a great favour 
in itself ; the church can as ill be without it as the world without the 
sun. ^ Ps. xix., he compareth the sun and the law together. This is a 
peculiar favour : Ps. cxlvii. 19, 20, ' He hath given his word to Jacob ; 
he hath not dealt so with every nation ; praise ye the Lord/ The 
benefit of the scriptures is a precious gift of God to the church, and so 
it should be valued and esteemed; not counted a burden, as it is to 
them who are wholly earthly, and mind not heavenly things. Alas ! 
what should we do without this help to ease our burdened minds, to 
understand God's providences, and learn the way to happiness, without 
these pure precepts and heavenly promises ? What is it that raiseth 
in us the joy of faith, the patience of hope, that directeth us to a 

VER. 164.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 195 

straight and certain way to glory, but the word of God ? This is the 
book of books, the food and comfort of our souls : Ps. Ivi. 10, ' In God 
I will praise his word, in the Lord I will praise his word/ The best 
hold that faith can have of *God is by his word. Let us own his word, 
and then, whatever his dispensations be, we have cause to praise him ; 
here is a sure hope to fix upon, and a sure rule to walk by. It cannot 
be told in a breath what benefit we have by it: here is matter of 
glorying, and firm confidence ; we need not fear men or devils as long 
as we have such a firm bulwark to secure us : here we have God's will 
made known, to give us notice of a blessed estate, and God's promise 
to give us an interest in it. 

2. It noteth the dispensation of his providence, fulfilling his promises 
unto the faithful, and executing his threatenings on the wicked. He 
is the same in his works that he is in his word. His judgments are 
declared in his holy word, and executed in his righteous providence ; 
and therefore it is said of them that have not his word, Ps. cxlvii. 20, 
' As for his judgments, they have not known them; praise ye the Lord.' 
Where they have not his word, the Lord's dealing with men injustice 
and mercy, and the course which he observeth in ruling the world, is 
not understood ; it lieth much in the dark, so that his providence is 
complicated with his word ; and as it is the sentence of his word exe 
cuted, is matter of praise. Well, then, we must praise God for his 
righteous government of the world, according to his word ; whether it 
concern the church in general, or us in particular : Kev. xvi. 7, 
' True and righteous are thy judgments.' But because particular 
providences come nearest home, and do most affect us, I shall instance 
in them : 

[1.] Let me show you how we should praise God for his favours, 
and fulfilling of promises to us, and hearing our prayers, and remem 
bering us for good in our low estate. Joshua leaveth this note when 
dying, Josh, xxiii. 14, 'I am going the way of all the earth; and ye 
know in all your hearts and all your souls, that not one thing hath 
failed of all the good things which the Lord hath spoken to you ; all 
are come to pass, not one thing hath failed thereof/ Trust God, and 
try him, and you will return the same account with this, which was 
the result of all his experience. And Solomon taketh notice of God's 
fulfilling promises, 1 Kings viii. 20, 24, ' And the Lord hath per 
formed his word that he spake ; who hath kept with thy servant 
David my father that thou promisedst him ; thou spakest also with 
thy mouth, and hast fulfilled it with thine hand/ There is none of 
any acquaintance with God but find much of this. Now they should 
therefore praise the Lord, and love him ; so David, Ps. cxvi. 1, ' I 
will love the Lord, who hath heard the voice of my supplication.' 
When we have 'put promises in suit, and challenged God upon his 
word, he hath stood to it, justified our confidence; every fresh experi 
ence in this kind should excite new love and praise. 

[2.] In time of affliction, when divine dispensations go cross to our 
affections, and it may be to our prayers, yet even then should we praise 
the Lord. Job when the Lord had taken away, he blesseth the name 
of the Lord, Job i. 21. The Lord is worthy of praise and honour when 
he giveth and when he taketh away, when he emptieth and when he 


filleth us with blessings. A child of God is of a strange temper ; he 
can fear him for his mercies, Hosea iii. 5, and praise him for his judg 
ments, as in the text. It argueth a great measure of grace to give 
thanks to God at all times and for all things : 1 Thes. v. 17, 18, ' Ke- 
joice ever more; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks/ 
Simply we cannot give thanks for afflictions as afflictions, as we cannot 
pray for them, nor joy in them, but as they are a means of good to us. 
A thankful frame of heart bringeth meat out of the eater, encourage 
ment out of the saddest providences, and taketh occasion to lift up itself 
in the praises of God even from those things which are matter of greatest 
discouragement and heartless dejection to others. It seeth the hand 
of God working for good to him. And then, on the other side, an un 
thankful, repining, murmuring spirit soureth all our comforts, is ever 
querulous, whethe'r crossed or pleased ; it entertaineth crosses with 
anger, and blessings with disdain. It is hard to be in any condition 
on this side hell wherein we have not cause to praise God ; even in 
great calamities, either for their fruit and issue, as our souls are bettered 
and humbled by them : Ps. cxix. 65, ' Thou hast dealt well with thy 
servant, according to thy word/ Wherein ? In giving him faith, and 
sensible and seasonable correction, ver. 67 ; and presently, ' Thou art 
good, and doest good/ ver. 68. Or else for their mitigation, as to 
deem them not insupportable, 1 Cor. x. 13 ; that we are not consumed, 
Lam. iii. 22 ; that not to the full merit of our sins : Ezra ix. 13, 'Thou 
hast punished us less than we have deserved ; ' that comforts come 
along with them ; that our afflictions do not exceed the measure of our 
comforts, 2 Cor. i. 5 ; that we have a good God still, who knoweth 
how to turn all to our advantage. Let us be persuaded he is well 
affected to us in Christ, and we will take anything kindly at his hand. 
All this is spoken that poor murmuring souls may not set out from so 
blessed a work ; yea, when other arguments fail, we may see the wis 
dom, justice, and faithfulness of God in his sharpest corrections : Ps. 
cxix. 75, ' I know that thy judgments are right, and in faithfulness 
thou hast afflicted me/ It is a great honour to God to speak good of 
his name when his hand is smart upon us. 

Use. Let me press you now to three things : 

1. To the work. 

2. Frequency and constancy herein. 

3. To suit often God's word and works together. 

First, To the work of praising God. Many are often complaining 
or begging, but seldom praising or giving thanks. Oh ! surely this 
should be more regarded, not always taken up with complaints against 
ourselves, and supplications for mercies ; but should some time give 
thanks, and praise the Lord ; it is the noblest part of our work, it is 
iicarest the work of heaven. As love is the grace of heaven, so praise 
is the duty then in season. It is good to be preparing, setting our 
hearts in order for our eternal estate ; it is the work of angels ; when 
we praise God, we do the work of angels. The angels, according to 
the opinion of the ancient Hebrews, do every day sing praises to God, 
and that in the morning ; which they gather because the angel said to 
Jacob, Gen. xxxii. 26, ' Let me go, for the day breaketh ; ' which place 
the Targum of Jerusalem thus explaineth, Let me go, for the pillar 

VER. 164.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 197 

of the morning ascendeth, and behold the hour approacheth that the 
angels are to sing. However that opinion be, sure we are that the 
angels ever bless God, and laud his holy name : Isa. vi. 1-3, the angels 
cried one to another, ' Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts ; the whole 
earth is full of his glory.' They were blessing God for creation ; then 
the morning stars sang for joy, Job xxxviii. 4-6, for the nativity of 
Christ, Luke ii. 13, 14. They apprehend more of God's excellency 
and perfection in himself and in his works than we do, and are more 
sensible of his benefits than we are. Now if this be the work of angels, 
the highest and greatest of them, surely this work should be more 
prized by us. It is nobler than other duties ; we serve God in our 
callings, but this work is a part of our misery, this burden was laid 
upon Adam after his fall, that in the sweat of his brow he should eat 
his bread, Gen. iii. 19. Though honest labour be a part of our 
obedience, yet it is also a part of our trouble and exercise. There are 
works of righteousness ; as to give every man his due, these are good 
works ; but they concern the benefit of man, the good of human 
society ; whereas praise is more immediately directed to the honour of 
God. There are works of mercy, to relieve the poor, to help the dis 
tressed, to support the weak, to comfort the afflicted ; these are good 
works indeed, and a very noble part of our service, to be reckoned to 
our thank-offerings as praise : Heb. xiii. 15, 16, '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 : but to do good and to com 
municate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased/ It is 
godlike to do good, and a more blessed thing to give than to receive, 
Acts xx. 35 ; as God giveth to all, and receiveth of none ; but still 
this redoundeth to men. There are opera cultus, the fourth sort of 
works, works of worship ; internal, as humbling our soul, repenting of 
our sins, and asking pardon ; these are good works indeed, but such as 
imply our misery and imperfection. External, as prayer, hearing, and 
reading, and other acts of communion with God ; but when we give 
thanks, this is more noble. In other duties, God is bestowing some 
thing on us ; but here, in our way, we bestow something upon God. 
In prayer, as beggars ; in hearing, as scholars and disciples, we come 
to expect something from him. Here we come to put honour upon 
God ; in our way it is a kind of recompense, or paying our debts to 
him, by word or deed. 

Now the reasons why men are so backward to this work are 

1. Because we have so little of the love of God. Self-love puts us 
upon supplication, but the love of God upon praise and thanksgiving. 
It is a token of great love to praise God without ceasing. We are 
eager to have blessings, and then forget to return and give God the 

2. And partly neglect of observation. We do not gather up matter 
of thanksgiving: Col. ii. 4, 'Continue in prayer, and watch in the same, 
with thanksgiving.' We should continually observe God's answers and 
visits of love, manifestations of himself to the world. The reason, 
then, why we have no more pleasure in praising God is, because we 
observe not so needfully as we should his mercy and truth fulfilled. 

{Secondly, To frequency and constancy therein. Frequency in this 


duty doth not beget a satiety and loathing, but rather a greater delight 
to continue in it. But here arise two questions : 

Quest. 1. What time must be necessarily spent in acts of worship 
and adoration, prayer, praise, and immediate converse with God ? 

Ans. 1. It is a truth that our whole time must be given to God, for 
a Christian is a dedicated thing, a living sacrifice, Kom. xii. 1. Now 
the beast offered in sacrifice with all the appurtenances was God's ; a 
Christian, by the consent of his own vows, is not master of anything. 
After a vow of all, we must not keep back part, as did Ananias and 
Sapphira. A Christian hath given his whole self, time, and strength to 

2. Though our whole time be given to God, yet for several uses and 
purposes. God's service is not of one sort, and he is served in our 
callings as well as 'in our worship. Man in paradise was to dress the 
garden, Gen. ii. 15, as well as to contemplate God. Common actions 
may become sacred by their end and use : Isa. xxiii. 18, ' And her 
merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord.' 

3. These several duties must not interfere and clash one with 
another, for God's commands are not contrary, but subordinate. We 
must not so attend upon religion as to neglect the service of our gene 
ration, as instruments of God's providence ; nor suffer the lean kine to 
devour the fat, the world to encroach upon religion. 

4. The particular seasons for each duty are not determined and set 
down in scripture. 

[1.] Partly because God trusteth love, and will see whether we have 
a mind to cavil and wrangle and dispute away duties, rather than prac 
tise them. 

[2.] And partly because he would leave something to the conduct of 
his Spirit, and the choice of spiritual wisdom : Ps. cxii. 5, ' A good 
man will guide his affairs with discretion.' 

S3.] And partly because men's occasions and conditions are different, 
he would not have his law to be a snare. 

[4.] And partly because there are so many occasions to praise God, 
that if we do not want a heart, we will be much and frequent in this 

5. Though there be no express rules, there is enough to prevent care 
lessness and looseness. God calleth to us in very large and comprehen 
sive terms, 'always/ ' continually/ ' and in everything.' The example 
of the saints who night and day were praising God : ' Paul and Silas 
at midnight sang praises to God/ Acts xvi. 29. So Ps. cxix. 62, * At 
midnight will I rise to give thanks to thee, because of thy righteous 
judgments.' And in the text, ' Seven times a day.' Besides, there are 
daily solemn services, personal and domestic/to be performed, Mat. 
vi. 11 ;' Watching daily at my gates/ Prov. viii. 34. Morning and 
evening they were to offer a lamb, Num. xxviii. 4. 

6. There are general hints and limits enough to become 1 love : Ps. 
Ixxi. 14, ' But I will hope continually, and will praise thee yet more 
and more.' Enough to keep the heart in good plight, and maintain 
faith and hope in God, and keep up a spiritual intercourse of com 
munion with God by daily offering up prayers and praises to him. 

1 So in original. ED. 

VER. 165.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 199 

Quest. 2. Whether it be convenient to state and fix a time ? 

David had his set times, so had Daniel ; and surely, all occasions, 
opportunities, and abilities considered, it may be a help to us, and make 
the spiritual life more orderly, to have set, stated, fixed times for the 
performance of this duty. 

Thirdly, To suit God's word and works together, laws and judg 
ments : Kom. i. 18, ' God hath revealed his wrath against all ungod 
liness and unrighteousness ; ' Heb. ii.2, ' Every transgression and every 
disobedience received a just recompense of reward.' Deliverances and 
promises fetch all out of the covenant : Ps. cxxviii. 5, ' The Lord shall 
bless thee out of Zion ; ' that relateth to the covenant made to the 
church ; this checketh atheism, sweeteneth our duties, allayeth our 
fears, and resolveth our doubts, and helpeth us in the delightful ex 
ercise of praising God. 


Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend 
them. VER. 165. 

ALL that live in this world find this life a warfare, Job vii. 1 ; much 
more must the godly expect difficulties and conflicts: Ps. xxxiv. 19, 
'Many are the troubles of the righteous/ To the eye of flesh, no 
condition seemeth worse and more obnoxious to misery than the con 
dition of those that serve God ; yet in reality none are in a better 
estate ; whatever happeneth, they are at peace, built on the corner 
stone which God hath laid in Zion, and therefore in all the commo 
tions and troubles of the world they are safe. This is that which 
David here observeth. 

In the former verse he had told us that it was his custom to praise 
God seven times a day for his righteous judgments, and now he 
showeth the reason, namely, from the ordinary course and tenor of 
these judgments, or dispensation of his providence, which was to give 
peace to them that keep his law, ' Great peace/ &c. 

In these words you have 

1. A privilege, great peace have they. 

2. The qualification, that love thy law. 

3. The effect, nothing shall offend them. 
Let me open these branches. 

First, The privilege is peace, and that is threefold (1.) External ; 
(2.) Internal; (3.) Eternal. 

1. External, in the house, the city, or country, and societies where 
we live. In this sense it is taken, Ps. cxxii. 6, 7, ' Pray for the peace 
of Jerusalem ; they shall prosper that love thee ; peace be within thy 
walls/ Now this is not all that is meant here, for this is a common 
benefit, though often vouchsafed for the sake of them that love God ; 
as music cannot be heard alone, though intended but to one person, 
yet others share with him in the benefit of it. Or if you understand 
it of his own personal peace, or being at amity with men, they do 
not always enjoy that. God's best children are often forced to be 


men of contention, that is, passively ; they are contended! with and 
troubled in the world, Jer. xv. 10. And therefore the apostle saith, 
Horn. xii. 18, 'If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably 
with all men/ It is not always to be had, but we should endeavour 
to live in peace with all men. 

2. There is internal peace, arising either from justification, Kom. 
v. 1 ; or sanctification : Isa. xxxii. 17, ' The fruit of righteousness is 
peace;' or from contentment with our condition, Phil. iv. 7. By 
justification we have peace, when God is reconciled and made a 
friend ; by sanctification we have peace, when we walk evenly with 
God; and by contentment we have peace, when our affections are 
calmed and rightly ordered, or set upon more worthy and noble 
objects, so that we are not troubled at the loss of outward things. 
These are the ingredients necessary to eternal peace, which is, I suppose, 
principally intended here inward comfort and contentment of mind. 

3. There is eternal peace, that happy and quiet estate which we shall 
enjoy in heaven, when we are above all desertions, temptations, and 
the trouble of hostile incursions, when we shall never have frown 
more from God's face, when our sun shall always shine without cloud 
or night, when our strife is over, and our enemies that do infest 
us now are all overcome. There is no Satan to tempt us, no serpent 
in the upper paradise, no world to trouble or divert us ; for all the 
wicked are bound hand and foot, and cast into unquenchable fire ; 
there is no flesh to clog us, for all is perfect. This glorious estate 
is called peace in scripture ; as Kom. ii. 10, ' God will give glory, 
honour, peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and 
also to the Gentile ;' and Kom. viii. 6, ' To be carnally mind is death, 
but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.' By death is meant 
the torments of hell, and by life and peace the joys of heaven. And, 
speaking of the blessedness of those that die in the Lord, he saith, Isa. 
Ivii. 2, ' They shall enter into peace.' Now this cannot principally be 
intended here, for the man of God speaketh of what we have, not of 
what we hope for; and he speaks of God's righteous dispensations 
here in the world, for which he praised him ; and therefore it is meant 
of our peace here ; but yet it is the sense of peace and happiness we 
shall have in heaven that hath an influence upon the tranquillity of 
our hearts and minds here. 

Secondly, Let me a little explain the qualification, ' that love thy 
law.' The word ' law ' is sometimes taken in a limited sense for the 
decalogue or moral law ; or else, more generally, for the whole doc 
trine of the covenant, the whole tenor of religion, law, and gospel. So 
here and elsewhere ; as ' The isles shall wait for thy law/ Isa. xlii. 4 ; 
that is, shall readily receive and embrace his doctrine. So Dan. vi. 5, 
'We shall not find occasion against this Daniel, unless we find it in 
the law of his God;' that is, in his religion. So Ps. i. 2, 'But his 
delight is the law of the Lord.' By the law of the Lord is meant the 
whole word of God. Well, now, it is said they love his law ; not only 
keep it, but love it. A child of God is sometimes described by his 
faith, sometimes by his hope or by his fear, but more often by his 
love, that commanding and swaying affection that sets the whole soul 
a- work. They love thy law ; there is emphasis in that. 

VER. 165.] 



Thirdly, Here is the consequent, 'Nothing shall offend them/ The 
Septuagint renders it ov/c ea-riv avrols cr/cavSaXov, they have not 
scandals, they have their troubles, but no stumbling-blocks : 1 John ii. 
10, * There is no occasion of stumbling in them.' There is the same 
word used there which the Septuagint useth here. Scandal is either 
active or passive, given or taken ; that which is taken out of weak 
ness, as young professors, or out of pride and malice ; they interpreted 
many things in a worse sense when they knew it might be interpreted 
in a better. Now, nothing shall scandalise them. Peace with God 
prevents the scandals of weakness, and love to the law prevents scan 
dals out of pride and malice. Nothing shall scandalise them. Many 
things are apt to scandalise men, as God's judgments, for which David 
did so often every day and so solemnly praise God. But they that 
love his law, and thereby obtain great peace, they will not stumble . 
at God's dispensations, let them be never so cross to their desires and 
expectations, because they have a sure covenant, that is, a sure rule, 
and sure promises. They are not scandalised by the miscarriages of 
men; they can distinguish between the art and the artificer; if the artist 
fail, the art is not to be blamed. The reproaches that are cast upon 
the ways of God, it doth not offend them, for they have found God in 
that way others speak evil of. Gold is gold though cast into the dirt ; 
dogs will bark at the moon when it shineth brightest. Would any 
man be troubled if a cripple mock him for going uprightly ? Shall 
we leave the ways of God, wherein we have found comfort and peace, 
because others speak against them ? He is not offended at this. But 
that which is meant here is such an offence as turneth them from God, 
otherwise a good man may fall and stumble, but not into final apos 
tasy, and he is usually kept from lesser offences. A child of God may 
be offended in lesser cases, but not so offended as to fall and break his 

But why is it called great peace ? It noteth the excellency of this 
kind of peace ; it is not only peace, but great peace, such as is rich 
and glorious: Phil. iv. 7, * A peace that passeth all understanding ;' or 
it may note the degree and quantity of it, abundance of peace, as it is, 
Ps. xxix. 11, and Ps. Ixxii. 3 ; I speak peace to them that are afar 
off ; or peace like a river, Isa. xlviii. 18, or pure peace. 

Three points I shall handle 

Doct. 1. That it is the property of God's children to love his law. 

Doct. 2. Those that love the law shall have great peace. 

Doct. 3. This blessed peace maketh a man hold on in the way of 
obedience, whatever impediments, stumbling-blocks, or discourage 
ments he meets withal. 

First point, That it is the property of God's children, not only to 
keep his law, but to love his law. 

This is often spoken of in this psalm ; now I prove it thus : 

Reason 1. They love God, and therefore they love his law : how 
doth that follow? The love that passeth between God and us 
is not an arbitrary love of equals, but the necessary dutiful respect 
that inferiors owe to their superiors, such as children owe to their 
father, servants to their master, subjects to their prince and governor. 
Therefore it is not a fellow-like familiarity, but a dutiful submission 


and subjection to God's authority ; and therefore, if we love God, we 
love his law. It is God's condescension that he will use us like 

friends in regard of communion, and converse with us, as Abraham was 
called God's friend, James ii. 23 ; yet we are but servants, though we 
are used like friends, and there is a debt and bond of duty lying upon 
us ; and so if we bear any respect to God, it must be determined by 
our respect to his laws, and demonstrated by our obedience to them, 
not by acts of ordinary courtesy and kindness. This is often spoken 
of : John xiv. 15, ' If ye love me, keep my commandments ; ' and ver. 
21, ' He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that 
loveth me ; ' John xv. 14, ' Ye are my friends, if you do whatsoever I 
command you.' Though none condescendeth to such acts of kindness 
and friendship as God in Christ hath done, yet still he standeth upon his 
sovereignty : ' If ye love me, keep my commandments.' God's love to 
us is indeed a love of bounty, but our love is a love of duty and service. 
I have not yet done with this reason. It necessarily follows from the 
love of God, though you abstract him from the notion of a sovereign 
and lawgiver, and should love him only because of the excellency of his 
nature. Now thus I argue : The same reasons that carry us to love 
God, do carry us also to love his law ; for he that loveth God, will love 
anything of God, wherever he finds it. He will love his word, he will 
love his saints ; but chiefly his word, for that is most to be loved, because 
that hath most of God in it. The law is a copy of his holiness ; the 
tract of God is in the creatures, there is his vestigium. His image is 
in his saints, they resemble his divine qualities, but his most lively print 
and character is upon his word. The image of God in his saints is 
obscured by their infirmities, but the law of God is perfect, there is no 
blemish there ; this is the fairest copy and draught of his holiness. 
Nay, once more, in this argument abstract the consideration of his 
authority and the perfection of his being, yet our obligations to God 
as our benefactor will enforce this love to his word, and make it sweet 
to us, because it is the letter of our friend and benefactor, and the 
signification of his will to whom we owe life and breath and all things ; 
and therefore, though the law did not deserve to be loved for its own 
sake, yet it should be sweet for his sake from whom it cometh. He 
hath evidenced much love to us, as we are creatures ; but much more 
love in Christ, as we are sinners ; and it should be acceptable to us 
upon his account. Love and gratitude will constrain us to do his will 
and regard his commands, 2 Cor. v. 14. If we have any sense of our 
great obligations to him, it must needs be so. 

Reason 2. God's children find such an excellency in his law that 
they must needs love it. As it is 

1. A plain clear word, that doth fully discover the will of God, and 
not^ leave duty to our own uncertain guesses. It puts duty into a 
plain stated course, how we may come to be blessed for ever more ; 
Ps. cxix. 105, ' Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path/ 
Light is pleasant, but darkness is uncomfortable. When Aristotle was 
asked why all men do love the light, his answer was, That was the ques 
tion of a blind man ; sense discovereth sufficiently why we should love 
the light. Certainly if you ask why men do not love the word of God, 
it is because the god of this world hath blinded their eyes, 2 Cor. iv. 4. 

VER. 165.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 203 

2. It is a good word, because it is suited to our necessities ; so we 
read, Heb. vi. 5, ' If so be ye have tasted the good word.' Is food good 
when a man is hungry ? Is drink good when a man is thirsty ? Then 
the word of God is good, for it suiteth with the necessities of our souls, 
as these things do with our bodies: 1 Tim. i. 15, 'This is a faithful say 
ing, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the 
world to save sinners/ The gospel is a doctrine fitted for hungry con 
sciences. If our inward senses were not benumbed, and we were not 
so Christ-glutted and gospel-glutted as we are, oh ! how precious would 
these tenders of grace be to our souls ! 

3. It is a pure word; so David gives the reason in the 140th verse 
of this psalm, ' Thy word is very pure, therefore thy servant loveth it.' 
Hypocrites will now and then relish the comforts of the gospel, be 
affected with the word, because it speaketh such good things to poor 
sinners ; but God's children love the word for its purity and holiness. 
It meeteth with every sin, and directeth them to every duty necessary 
for the enjoyment of the blessed God. It is not comfort only must 
draw our love, but holiness. This argueth the life and power of grace, 
when we would not have the law of God less strict and holy than it is, 
but love it for this very reason, because it is pure, strict, and holy. 
You would not think a beggar loves you because he liketh your alms, 
but he is loath to stay with you for your service, and live under the 
orderly government of your family. Most men's love to the word is 
such, they delight in the comforts of it as an alms, but they hate the 
duty of it as a task ; they had rather let the duties of it alone, if it 
could be without danger, and forbear them if they durst. Oh ! but 
when your hearts consent to the purity of the law, and you would 
choose that life which it points out unto you rather than any life in 
the world, or the most absolute freedom that the heart of man can 
imagine, so that you love your master the more because he hath ap 
pointed you such work, this is true affection to God and his word : 
you had rather live in holiness than sin, if you had your freest choice ; 
it is a sign then you love holiness for holiness' sake, and admire that 
in the word which is most worthy, its strictness. 

4. It is a sublime word : ver. 129, * Thy testimonies are wonderful, 
therefore doth my soul keep them/ Here are excellent truths, glorious 
mysteries, fit to exercise the sharpest wits in the world, a study fitter 
for angels than men, 1 Peter i. 12. I do not speak this to stir up 
curiosity, which is a moral itch, a lust of the mind, and nothing more 
opposite to true love than lust, but to raise men to a due esteem of the 
scriptures, which they are wont to contemn for their simplicity and 
plainness ; it is full of high mysteries, though it may be read with 
profit by simple people, or any who desire knowledge. Sensual men, 
that are drowned in worldly delights, only look to the comfort of the 
animal life, and value all things as that is gratified ; but those that 
look to the spiritual life, and the ennobling of their souls, they will find 
the only sublime wisdom in the word of God : Deut. iv. 6, ' Keep these 
statutes and do them ; for this is your wisdom and understanding in the 
sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely 
this great nation is a wise and understanding people/ What pitiful 
notions had the philosophers, and the wisest of the heathen, concern- 


ing God, and angels, and providence, and the creation of the world, 
and the souls of men, and the happiness of the other world, and the 
way to attain it 1 When the heathen came to be first acquainted with 
the Jews, they wondered at their wisdom and skill. These things 
would beget admiration in us if we did meditate on them, and con 
tented not ourselves with a slight and customary rehearsal of them. 
Here are deep mysteries to exercise the greatest wits, and therefore 
consider them more. 

5. It is a sure word : Ps. xix. 7, ' The testimonies of the Lord are 
sure, making wise the simple.' These directions may be safely relied 
upon, and will not disappoint us ; for they are not the guesses of 
deceived men, nor the collections only of the most observing and wisest 
men, or the result of their infallible experiences, but inspiration of the 
infallible God ; antl therefore a sensible heart, that knoweth what it is 
to live in a troublesome world, and hath been exercised with doubts, 
knoweth the comfort of a sure rule and sure promises. Oh ! what a 
comfort is this in the midst of the uncertainties of the present life ! 

Reason 3. There is no keeping the law without loving the law. 
There is a keeping the commandments by way of defence, and by way 
of obedience ; a keeping of them by way of preservation, when we 
will not suffer them to be violated or wrested from us by others ; and 
a keeping of them by way of observation, when we are mindful of 
them, are careful to observe them ourselves. This latter is the mean 
ing of the scripture notion of keeping the law. Now this cannot be 
without love ; nothing can hold the heart to it but love. What bonds 
will you cast upon yourselves ! But if a temptation come, you will 
break them all, as Sampson did the cords wherewith he was bound. 
It is not your promises, vows, covenants, resolutions ; not your former 
experiences of comfort, when put to no trial ; all is nothing to love. 
To evidence this to you, three things are needful labour, valour, and 

1. To keep the commandments is a laborious thing, and requireth 
great diligence. Now love is that disposition that maketh us laborious 
and diligent. If anything keep a man to his work, it is love. Labour 
and love are often put together : Heb. vi. 10, ' God is not unrighteous, 
to forget your work and labour of love ;' 1 Thes. i. 3, ' Your work of 
faith, and labour of love.' It is not a slothful and idle affection, but 
will make a man take any pains, and endure any toil, nescit amor 
moliminalove never findeth difficulties. The reason why they object 
difficulties is because they love not. The church of Ephesus, when 
she lost her first love, she left her first works, Kev. ii. 4. Our Lord 
Jesus, when he had work for Peter to do, gageth his heart upon this 
point : John xxi. 15, ' Simon Peter, lovest thou me ? feed my sheep, 
feed my lambs.' No man can endure the toil of the ministry, and 
the many troubles and difficulties he meeteth with in the discharge 
of it, without love to Christ. It is love sets all the wheels in the soul 

2, To keep the commandments requireth spirit and courage, not 
only the labour of an ox, but the animosity and courage of a lion ; for 
we are not only to work, but fight and contend for our duty against 
the enemies of our salvation. Now the most valorous and courageous 

VER. 165.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 205 

affection is love. A cowardly lover is a monster, one that hath all 
liver and no heart. The poets in their fictions ascribe the valour of the 
person whom they would represent as noble and heroical to the strength 
of their love. Certainly the heroic acts of the martyrs came all from 
love. Others will not be at the charge of keeping the commandments 
of God that lie cross to their profits and pleasures ; but love will cause 
us to do the will of God, whatever it cost us. Yea, it is loath to serve 
God with that which cost nothing : Cant. viii. 6, 7, ' Love is strong 
as death, many waters cannot quench love.' Death conquereth the 
stoutest, but cannot conquer love : ' They loved not their lives to the 
death/ Kev. xii. 11. The waters of affliction cannot quench it, no 
threatenings, no promises can quench it. Love will not be bribed 
from Christ, nor frighted from Christ. You will be assaulted on both 
sides, with hopes and fears, but nothing shall fright or allure the soul 
from Christ. 

3. To keep the commandments there needeth much self-denial and 
submission, that he may have a heart to stoop to the least intimation 
of the will of God, though it be against your own will, and against 
your own carnal sense and inclination and interest. A man can never 
keep the commandments till he thus deny himself ; therefore the world 
wondereth what is the reason that men do so submit against their 
humour and interest. And say, If this be to be vile, I will be more 
vile ; as holy David said : nothing can do this but love. When a 
man loveth you, you have the keys of his heart, you can open and shut 
it when you please. Sampson like a child submitted to Delilah, because 
of his love to her. So Gen. xxxiv., Hamor and Shechem submitted to 
any terms, to be circumcised, because of the delight the young man 
had to Dinah ; the father loved the son, and the son loved Dinah, 
and therefore both submitted to that hateful, painful ceremony. 
Jacob's service for Kachel seemed but a few years because of his love 
to her, Gen. xxix. 20. So if we love the law of God, we will submit 
to the duties of it, against the hair and bent of our hearts. 

Use 1. Examination. 

1. Do we receive the truth of God in the love thereof? Do we 
embrace the offers of Jesus Christ heartily? Acts ii. 41, * They re 
ceived the word gladly.' Do you keep up your relish of the gospel, 
delight to hear of Christ, to read of Christ, to meditate of Christ, and 
the doctrine of salvation ? not one part, but all ? Ps. i. 2, ' His delight 
is in the law of God ;' the whole law. Ungodly men will catch at 
promises, seem to show a love to these, but grudge at the mandatory 
part of the word. Do you delight when it is pressed upon you, when 
you are warned of your danger ? know most of your duty, and the 
way how to attain your blessedness ? Do you love it most when you 
feel the tragical effects of it ? As the apostle saith, * The command 
ment came, and sin revived, and I died.' 

2. Do you heartily take Christ's yoke upon you, and frame your 
selves to practise what he hath required of you ? They that love the 
law cannot rest in mere speculations, and be careless in the duties 
required of them. Love cannot be hidden, but it will break forth into 
action. If it be in your hearts, it will break out in your lives : Ps. 
xl. 8, ' The law of God is in my heart/ You will make conscience 


of duty, 1 John ii. 4. Love is found to be solid and real when we arc 
tender of Christ's laws ; in vain else do we talk of the new birth, of 
the work of grace, or having an interest in Christ, and the like, unless 
we keep his law. 

3. Do you practise it willingly, and without grudging ? 1 John v. 
3, ' His commandments are not grievous.' They that love the law 
will not count the work tedious. God doth not look to the work, 
praying, hearing, strict observing his ordinances, or Lord's day ; but 
minds the will for the deed, not the deed for the will, whether willingly 
or unwillingly. God dealeth with us as rational creatures. If your 
ox draw your plough, and your ass carry his burden, you care not 
much whether it be done willingly or unwillingly ; but God dealeth 
with us as obliged, and looketh that love should constrain us, and 
influence our actioas ; and God dealeth with us as renewed creatures, 
that have a suitableness to their work, Heb. viii. 10 ; Ps. xl. 2, when 
rather from him than with him he delights greatly in God's command 
ments; Ps. cxii. 1, delights to know, believe, and obey God's word; 
and God expects it from us, because of the pleasures that do accom 
pany well-doing, Prov. iii. 17. The speculation of a worthy truth 
affects the mind, but practice doth more, as more intimately accquainted 
with it. 

Use 2. It shows 

1. How far they are from the temper of God's people that dispute 
away duties rather than practise them, cavil at their work rather than 
readily accept it. 

2. They do not love the law that are always full of excuses, and 
pretend occasions to neglect the service of God ; excuses are always a 
sign of a naughty heart. The sinner's non vacat is indeed non placet: 
Luke xiv. 18, ' They all began to make excuses.' If we did not want 
a heart, we should not want an occasion to manifest our respects to 

3. It shows how far they are from the temper of God's people that 
are easily discouraged with difficulties; love will make us break 
through all, 2 Cor. v. 14. Love hath a constraining force, counts 
nothing top dear to be parted with for God's sake ; they that are weary 
of well-doing, they are out of their element; as they in Malachi 1 
inquired, When will the sabbath be over ? They that brought but a 
sorry lamb, cried out, Oh, what a weariness ! Again, they that love 
the law are not troubled about the strictness of the law, but the 
unsuitableness of their own hearts. God's children are grieved for 
that weariness and uncomfortableness they find in God's 'service, glad 
of any enlargement of heart. Lust is grievous, but not the command 
ment : Rom. vii. 24, ' wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver 
me (not from the law, but) from the body of this death ?' But others, 
when the truth shineth round about them, they receive it not in the 
love thereof, 

Doct. 2. Those that love the law shall have great peace. Let me 
prove this. 

1. They shall have peace. 

2. Great peace. 

First, They shall have peace. 

1 Amos. ED. 

VER. 165.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 207 

1. Because the God of peace is their God ; they are assured of his 
love and favourable acceptance. Tranquillus Deus tranquillat omnia 
if God be with us, who can be against us ? If he smileth on us, it is 
enough, though all the world should be against us ; for it is God's 
wrath that maketh us miserable, and God's love that maketh us 

2. Jesus Christ, who is the Prince of peace, is their Saviour, Isa. 
ix. 9. He hath made articles of peace between God the Father and 
us, and drawn them into a covenant of grace, called the covenant of 
his peace, Isa. liv. 10 ; and this founded upon his blood, which is the 
price given to purchase our peace, and to set all things at rights 
between God and us, Col. i. 20 ; Isa. liii. 5. Having made peace 
between God and us. No less would serve the turn completely to 
satisfy the justice of God for our wrong, and to purchase his favour 
for us. 

3. The Spirit, who is a Spirit of peace, Gal. v. 22 ; it is one of his 
fruits ; he worketh it in us as a sanctifier and as a comforter. 

[1.] As a spirit of sanctification he doth dispossess Satan, and sub- 
clueth that rebellious disposition that is naturally in us against God, 
and maketh us accept the offer of friendship and reconciliation with 
God, and to yield up ourselves servants to righteousness, unto holiness, 
and then accordingly to walk as people that are at amity with God. 

(1.) Your first resignation in faith and repentance is a ground of 
peace, and wrought in us by the Spirit : Kom. xv. 13, ' Now the God 
of peace fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound 
in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.' Together with our 
faith, and in and by our faith, the Holy Ghost worketh this joy and 
peace ! When we come to sue out our pardon in his name, to receive 
the atonement, and to resign up ourselves to God's use, then is the 
foundation laid : ' Give the hand to the Lord/ 2 Chron. xxx. 8. 

(2.) This peace is confirmed by holy walking in the Spirit, or per 
fecting holiness through the power of the Holy M Ghost: Gal. vi. 16, 
' As many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon 
them ; ' Jer. vi. 16, ' Ask for the good old way, 'and walk therein, and 
you shall find peace to your souls/ Keep close to God and you will 
have peace, otherwise not. Peace with God and thine own conscience 
is a very tender thing ; you had need be chary of it. If you grieve 
the Spirit, you will find it to your bitter cost. When sinful dispositions 
are indulged and nourished, our peace is beclouded, and hangeth on 
uncertain terms. 

[2.] As a comforter, whose office it is to give us a sense of God's 
love, and to help conscience to judge of our state and actions. The Spirit 
representeth God as a Father, and showeth us what things are given 
us of God, and dissipateth and scattereth all the black thoughts -that 
are in the soul: Isa. Ivii. 19, ' I create the fruit of the lips to be peace.' 
Peace is a sovereign plaister, God maketh it stick, and then all the 
world cannot deprive them of this peace. Creation and annihilation 
belong to the same power ; the world can never give, nor take ; it is 
God's work, and he will maintain it. 

Secondly, It shall be great peace, as to the nature and degree of it, 
as was before explained. 


1. For the nature of it ; it is not an ordinary peace, but of a higher 
nature : John xiv. 27, ' My peace I leave with you, my peace I give 
unto you ; not as the world giveth, give 1 unto you : let not your 
hearts be troubled.' Wherein doth it differ from the world's peace ? 
The .world's peace is oftentimes in sin, a concord in evil, a lethargy por 
tending sadder troubles ; but this is a holy peace. Prov. iii. 17. That 
is a crazy peace that is soon broken and distorted, depending on the 
uncertainty of present affairs and the mutable affections of men ; the 
more secure they are, the sadder trouble at hand : but this is an ever 
lasting peace, which we have now in the way, and shall have in death, 
and then for ever. The world's peace is outward ; it is but at best a 
freedom from outward troubles, when they are at enmity with God ; 
but this is a peace with God himself, Prov. xvi. 7. The world's peace 
pleaseth the outward man, but this is a solid soul-satisfying peace, a 
peace that guardeth heart and mind, Phil. iv. 7. 

2. For the degree, it is many times in a great measure enjoyed ; it 
may be more or less, as an interest in God's favour is more or less 
in us. And it is not perfect in this life ; there may be clouds and 
interruptions, but as our holiness increaseth, so doth our peace ; a little 
holiness, a little peace ; but they that love thy law, have great peace. 

Object. How have God's children grea,t peace ? None seem more 
troubled and harassed with outward afflictions, nor walk more mourn 
fully than they do. 

Ans. It is true this peace doth not exclude trouble from carnal men 
in the world ; they may have little outward peace, yet they shall have 
as much of that as God seeth good for them, JobV 23, 24 ; but in 
ward peace, which is peculiar to them. They have God for their 
friend, are quieted with a true sense and apprehension of his love and 
favour to them. It is true, as to this inward peace, God's children may 
sometimes be without it ; they that love the law have a greater sense 
of sin than others. Wicked men swallow sins without remorse ; 
but ^ they are very apprehensive of displeasing God. But we must 
distinguish between the time of settling this peace, and when it is 
settled. For a time they may walk sadly ; their peace is not grown 
up ; light is^sown for the righteous. Many times they sow in tears, 
but reap in joy. Sometimes their love to the law is intermitted, so 
their peace may be interrupted : But their worst condition is better 
than a carnal man's best, as the darkest cloudy day is brighter than 
the brightest night ; there is some comfort and staying upon God in 
the worst condition. 

Use 1. Let us from hence see the sad condition of carnal men. This 
clause, ' love thy law/ is exclusive, and confineth it to one sort of men. 
The unjustified, the unsanctified want this peace. God saith of them, 
they should not enter into my rest, Ps. xcv. 11. The rest is begun in 
this life in reconciliation with God and peace of conscience, and per 
fected in an -everlasting refreshment in that to come. Their sins are 
not pardoned, and therefore continually fear; they have often refused 
God's peace, and therefore cannot enjoy comfort with any security, nor 
bear troubles with any patience and quiet of mind, nor come into God's 
presence with any cheerfulness, nor wait for eternal rest with any 
certain hope: 'There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked/ Isa. 

VER. 165.J SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 209 

xlviii. 22 ; Ps. Ivii. 20, 21. It is not allowed to wicked men, nor 
vouchsafed to them. It is true they may have a peace, but it is either 
in sin or from sin ; they do not mind the condition of their souls, a 
blind presumption that merely cometh from God's forbearance, or 
worldly happiness in prosperity. Carnal men seem to be in as great 
quietness as the children of God ; as the deep sea in a calm, which 
seemeth to be as quiet as other waters, until a storm and tempest doth 
arise, then troubled, and cannot rest. 

Use 2. To persuade us to love the law of God by this argument, 
because we shall have great peace ; for the promise is made to this 

But you will say, How must we show love to the law of God, that 
we may obtain this effect ? 

I answer Practise the duties it calleth for in order to peace. 

1. Accept the articles of peace, that are proclaimed between God 
and mankind in and through Christ. Eph. ii. 17, there is peace 
preached, not only to them that are afar off, but to them that are 
nigh ; there is not only a price paid, but an offer made. Embrace it, 
lay hold upon it by faith ; God is in good earnest with you, 2 Cor. v. 
20. Oh ! love this good word ; it is the gladdest tidings that ever 
sounded in the ears of lost sinners. Now is your time, agree with your 
adversary while he is in the way, before you be cast into prison, Luke 
xii. 58. If you lose this opportunity, and do not embrace the offered 
friendship, God will be exceeding angry : Heb. ii. 3, * How shall we 
escape if we neglect so great salvation ? ' 2 Chron. xxx. 8, ' Therefore 
give the hand to the Lord.' 

2. Perform the duty of thankfulness which God requires, Mat. xi. 
29. Peace is the fruit of sanctification, as well as justification; it is 
not to be found elsewhere, Isa. xxxii. 17. 

3. Be much in communion with God and trading with heaven : 
' Acquaint thyself with God/ Job xxii. 21. 

4. Be tender of your peace, when it is once settled, of doing anything 
that may cause war between God and the soul, Ps. Iviii. 8. Take heed 
of venturing your peace for the vanities of the world, those sinful and 
foolish courses which will lay you open to God's wrath and displeasure : 
Ps. xxxvii. 11, ' The meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight 
themselves in the abundance of peace.' 


Great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend 

.~VvR. 165. 

I xow come to the effect, c Nothing shall offend them/ The Septuagint, 
OVK ecrnv CIVTOLS c-tcavSakov, there is no scandal in them. The apostle 
John applieth the same phrase or form of speech to him that loveth 
his brother, OVK ecrnv eV avry crKuvbaXov, there is no occasion of 
stumbling in him. The meaning is, they shall not be in danger of 
VOL. ix. o 


those snares and temptations which the world is full of, and which 
frequently bring other men to sin and ruin ; or nothing shall wound 
or hurt them, or cause them to fall in their journey to heaven. 

Doct. That the love of God's law is a great means to carry a believer 
straight on his way to heaven, whatever temptations he hath to the 

Here I shall inquire 

1. What scandals and offences are. 

2. How a believer is preserved. 

First, What scandals and offences are? I answer Scandals 
literally signifieth temptations, or inducements to sin, any stumbling- 
block or hindrance laid in a man's way, by which the passenger is 
detained or diverted, or at which, if he be not careful, he is apt to 
stumble or fall. Spiritually it signifieth anything that may discourage 
or divert us from our duty to God, or may occasion us to fall, to the 
great loss or ruin of our souls. 

Now, concerning these scandals or offences, I shall give you these 
distinctions. With respect to the subject, there are three sorts of 
scandals: (1.) Taken, but not given; (2.) Given, but not taken; 
(3.) Both given and taken. 

1. There is offence taken where none is given. Thus Christ 
himself, in his person, sufferings, doctrine, may be an offence to the 
carnal and unbelieving world. In his person, as he is said to be, 1 
Peter ii. 8, * A stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to them that 
stumbled at the word, being disobedient, whereunto they were also 
appointed.' He that is to the believer a corner-stone elect and 
precious, is to the obstinate prejudiced unbeliever, with allusion to 
those that travel by land, a stone of stumbling, to those that travel 
by sea, a rock of offence ; his slender appearance was an offence to 
them. As to his sufferings, it is said, 1 Cor. i. 23, that ' Christ 
crucified is to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolish 
ness.' They had not a Messiah to their mind, though such an one as 
the scriptures had before described. His doctrine : Mat. xv. 12, ' His 
disciples said to him, Knowest thou not that the pharisees were 
offended when they heard this saying ? ' Again, John vi. 61, when 
they murmured at his saying, Except ye eat my flesh, 'Doth this 
offend you ? ' Flesh and blood are apt to stumble in God's plainest 
ways : at the doctrine of God, which is strict and spiritual. ; the 
worship of God, that is simple and without pomp ; the dispensations 
of God, in chastising and afflicting his people ; they are all an offence 
to carnal and worldly men, and so through their sin prove an impedi 
ment to the success of the gospel. But this offence is causeless, 
and without ^ any just ground; and without special grace, when it 
prevaileth with men, will prove their eternal ruin and destruction. 
God never intended to satisfy men's lusts and humours ; truth must be 
taught, whoever be displeased ; therefore all our care must be to avoid 
this kind of offence : Mat. xii. 6, ' Blessed is he that is not offended 
in me/ that doth not stumble at Christ because of the cross, nor the 
holiness of his doctrine, nor the simplicity of his worship, nor the 
despicableness of his followers, nor the troubles that attend his service. 

VEB. 165.] SEBMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 211 

2. Offence may be given where none is taken, as when men counsel 
others to evil, or reproach the holy ways of God ; as when Peter 
dissuaded Christ from suffering : Mat. xvi. 23, ' Get thee behind me, 
Satan, for thou art crtcdSaXov, an offence to me.' It was scandalum 
in se, though not ratione eventus, not that Christ was offended by it ; 
when the heart is guarded against evil counsel, or the infection of evil 
example. So for reproaches, they are a means of betraying the soul 
into sin, and prejudicing it against godliness ; but the godly are well 
fortified, they can see loveliness in such ways as are hated and dis 
countenanced in the world. As David : Ps. cxix. 127, ' They have 
made void thy law, therefore I love thy commandments above gold, 
above fine gold ; ' and Moses, Heb. xi. 26, ' Esteemed the reproach 
of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt/ They are no' 
more moved at the world's scorn than a man that is straight and 
upright would be at the mocks of cripples because he doth not limp 
and walk after their fashion ; they can see honour in disgrace, and 
beauty in God's despised ways. 

3. Offences also may be both given and taken ; as when one pro- 
voketh, and another is provoked to evil, enticed by false doctrine, 
corrupt counsel, or evil example. False doctrine : Mat. xv. 14, ' The 
blind lead the blind, and both fall into the ditch ; ' not one, but both, 
the blind follower as well as the blind guide. Or by corrupt counsel, 
as Ahab was seduced by the false prophets, 1 Kings xxii., and Amnon 
by his friend Jonadab was drawn to incest, 2 Sam. xiii. 6 ; he as 
readily obeyeth the other's wicked counsel, as he was to give it. So 
for evil example ; it secretly tainteth us. The prophet complaineth, 
Isa. vi. 5, ' I am a man of polluted lips, and I dwell among people 
of polluted lips/ It is hard to avoid the contagion of iniquities with 
which we do daily and familiarly converse, as to live in an infected 
air without taint, or to walk in the sun and not be insensibly tanned. 
We leaven one another by our coldness and deadness in religion. It 
is hard to be fresh in salt waters, to live among offences and not be 

Secondly, With respect to the object or matter of it. A scandal 
may be given, dicto aut facto (1.) In word ; (2.) In deed. 

1. In word, by evil counsel or carnal suggestion: Ps. i. 1, ' Blessed 
is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly/ As 
carnal friends and parents that relish not the word of life themselves, 
out of prejudice against godliness and holy zeal, dissuade their 
children and servants from attending on the exercises of religion, as 
praying, hearing, meditation, lest they grow mopish and melancholy, 
and lest a zealous minding God's interest should hinder their prefer 
ment, had rather see them lewd than holy ; but, Luke xiv. 26, ' If 
any man come to me, and hate not father and mother/ &c. Or by 
atheistical, or obscene and carnal discourse : 1 Cor. xv. 53, * Evil com 
munications corrupt good manners ; ' Eph. v. 4, ' Neither filthiness, 
nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient/ 

2. In deed, and so three ways : 

[1.] When they do things that are simply unlawful, and so propa 
gate their sin to others by their example : Prov. xx. 24, ' Make no 


friendship with an angry man, and with a furious man shalt thou 
not go, lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul/ The 
violences and furious passions of anger are so uncomely, that a man 
would think they should rather affright then allure to imitation ; but 
these things insensibly overcome us, and ere a man is aware, he is 

[2.] By the abuse of Christian liberty to the wrong and hindrance 
of others in a way of godliness; as Kom. xiv. 13-15, * Let no man 
put a stumbling-block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way : I 
know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing 
unclean of itself; but to him that esteemeth anything to be unclean, 
to him it is unclean : but if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, 
now walkest thou, not charitably : destroy not him with thy meat for 
whom Christ died ; ' 1 Cor. viii. 10, ' But take heed, lest by any 
means this liberty of yours become a stumbling-block to them that 
are weak.' We must not commit a sin, or omit a duty to avoid 
offence ; yet in indifferent things we may expect from others what is 
lawful to do, and forbear it, as conduceth to edification ; for we must 
have a care of offending little ones, and therefore must drive according 
to their pace, using our liberty as they are able to bear. 

[3.] By persecution enforce others against their duty : Mat. xviii. 6, 
' But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which .believe on me, 
it were better a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he 
were drowned in the sea ; ' better he did suffer all extremity. Offend 
ing is persecuting, as receiving is countenancing, cherishing, treating 
them kindly arid tenderly. So Mat. xiii. 21, ' When persecution 
ariseth by reason of the word, by and by they are offended ; ' Mat. 
xxiv. 9, 10. This opposing, hating, vexing the people of God is one 
way of offence, and very dangerous to those that practise it, however 
it succeedeth ; for though they be little ones, little in their own eyes, 
little in the esteem of the world, little in regard of outward interest, 
and so lie open and liable to offences, little in regard of their spiritual 
growth, and so apt to take offence, yet they are dear to the great God, 
who is their patron, and will take their quarrel into his own hands : 
and it will be a thousand times better they had been the persecuted 
ones than to be the persecutors. 

Thirdly, With respect to the double faculty the devil seeketh to 
work upon, which is our irascible or concupiscible faculty, our 
eschewing or pursuing power ; the flesh with its Trd6rj KOI eiriOv^iai,, 
Gal. v. 24, it is passions and lusts, what we render affections ; and 
these are suited to the temptations that most men are usually over 
come by. Such are the terrors and allurements of the world : the 
terrors of the world, that works upon our passions ; the allurements of 
the world, that works upon our lusts. 

1. The terrors of the world are apt to draw men to dislike God, and 
distaste the way of godliness. Certainly by these the devil seeketh to 
get us into his power and reach. Therefore it is said, 1 Peter v. 9, 
' Whom resist, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions 
are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.' Satan's 
temptations are conveyed to the godly through afflictions, hoping by 
these to prevail with them to make them quit the truth and their duty 

VER. 165.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 213 

to Christ, and grow weary of the ways of God ; and it doth the more 
prevail when they think they are the only sufferers. This should not 
be, for the drift of Christianity is to take us off from the hopes 
and fears of the world, and a full third part of the scriptures serveth 
to comfort us in tribulations and afflictions for the gospel's sake ; 
and if we were not exposed to troubles, these would be as unsuit 
able and needless as bladders and arts of swimming were to a man 
that standeth on dry land, and never meaneth to go into the deep 
waters ; but yet they are a usual stumbling-block to those that have 
not overcome the sensual inclination, and are not dead to a worldly 

2. The allurements of the world, or the baits of sense. Present 
things have a strange infatuation upon us : 2 Tim. iv. 10, 'And Demas 
hath forsaken us, having loved the present world.' The troubles of the 
world are not so dangerous as the snares of the world. Though many 
be discouraged by troubles, yet many times others are gained by the 
patience, courage, and constancy of God's servants in persecutions. 
The offence may be more easily disproved as not justifiable; for men 
may have a secret liking of the truth, and a purpose to own it in better 
times ; but by the baits of sense men are inveigled and tempted to 
dislike religion itself, as contradicting their lusts, and nourish a base 
opinion of it in their hearts. In troubles and persecutions there is not 
a dislike of religion itself, but of the hard terms upon which it must 
be received and cherished. And besides, the mischief is greater. 
They that cast off the profession and practice of godliness upon some 
great earthly hopes, involve themselves in a more heinous sin than 
they that shrink from it out of some great fear ; for those things we 
fear, as afflictions, torments, and death, they are in themselves de 
structive of our felicity, and therefore it cannot be said how much 
nature abhorreth them. But those things which we hope for and desire 
are such that nature may easily and without great inconveniency be 
without them, as great riches, splendour of life, noble affinities and 
marriages ; for these things are not absolutely necessary to the worldly 
life, but only conduce to the greater conveniency and felicity thereof. 
Not our worldly being, but our well-being is concerned in them. Our 
being may be kept up and supported in a far meaner condition. 
Thence it is that great dangers, when they are at hand, and difficulties 
sustained, and the fear of them, doth often sway us against the con 
science of our duty ; but if we lose our great worldly hopes, or be cut 
short in our condition and worldly expectations, it is no great matter. 
Wise and gracious men may easily bear it with a quiet and well- com 
posed mind. The sin of those that stumble at great and worldly hopes 
is questionless the greater transgression, for they are only enticed and 
drawn away by their pleasures and lusts, which all good Christians are 
obliged to deaden and mortify. But though to fall out of fear be not 
so heinous a sin, yet a great and heinous sin it is, for grace should 
govern fear as well as hope. If the coercion and bridling of it be 
difficult, it doth not excuse a toto, but a tanto only ; and it is hard to 
set a Christian in joint again that is fallen by fear. Witness those 
terrors that do haunt men when once they are gotten into the snare. 
As ' Peter went out and wept bitterly ; ' it cost him much sorrow at 


heart. Christ is fain to direct a special message to him by name, 
Mark xvi. 7. Though it doth not exclude all hopes of repentance and 
pardon, yet it needeth great mercy on God's part, and repentance on 
ours. Indeed, the church is bound to consider men's weaknesses, and 
to judge of the fault according to the violent shock and incursion of 
the temptation ; because we know not our own strength, and how soon 
we may be surprised in like kind, and need indulgence ourselves, Gal. 
vi. 1. But God is not in our condition, nor obliged to recover all 
that lapse in this kind, and therefore useth his mercy according to 
his own pleasure. Sometimes he recovereth them and sometimes 
not ; but for the other temptations, what excuse is it capable of ? 
Heb. xii. 16, 17. 

Secondly, Let us consider how a believer is preserved. Unsound 
professors are turned by scandal from the ways of godliness, which 
they seemed to walk in ; but for the sincere believer, there may be 
many stumbling-blocks laid in his way, but he falleth not at them, 
escapeth those heinous sins into which others fall, through his love 
to God's commandments. Observe here three things : 

1. It is not light, but love that keepeth them from stumbling. The 
light of saving knowledge is a great matter, for it showeth us a sure 
rule to walk by, and sure promises to build upon ; but love must join 
with it, to assist us, that we may escape those snares, for many fail 
because they receive not the truth in the love of it, 2 Thes. ii. 10. Till 
light be turned into love, it hath not such a powerful influence upon 
us. Certainly a man is better held by the heart than by the head : 
Kom. viii. 39, ' Nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of 
God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord/ The love of God is not prin 
cipally taken there in a passive sense, for the love wherewith we are 
beloved of God ; but in an active sense, for the love wherewith we love 
God. For affliction and persecution do expugn or assault God's love 
to us, but not our love to God ; for this maketh us cleave to him, 
whatever temptations we have to the contrary. Do but consider what 
you are to love. 

[1.] We are to love God ; there it beginneth. Love God once, and 
then you will take nothing ill at his hands ; how smart soever his 
chastenings be, they come from a God that loveth you, and whom your 
souls love : Kev. iii. 19, ' As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.' 
Now they will not stumble at God's dispensations, be they never so 
cross to their expectations and desires. But then 

[2.] We must love the law of God, be satisfied with our duty what 
ever cometh of it. Next to a sincere love to God, there must be a 
sincere love to his holy law, as the right way to eternal blessedness, 
and then temptations will have but little force upon us, for they do not 
love their duty for foreign reasons, but for its own sake ; so that whe 
ther it be befriended and countenanced in the world, or hated and 
despised, it is all one ; they love the law upon its own evidence, as it is 
recommended by God, and is a sure direction to true happiness : Job 
xvii. 9, ' The righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean 
hands shall be stronger and stronger.' He meaneth notwithstanding 
all the troubles and assaults which he endureth ; they are not scandal 
ised at God's dealings, or permitting them to be thus dealt with, but 

VER. 165.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 215 

do persevere in a course of godliness ; this is the way wherein he 

[3.] He loves the brethren : 1 John ii. 10, ' He that loveth his 
brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling 
in him.' They, together with us, uphold Christ's interest in the 
world. The coals, by lying together, inkindle one another, and so are 
the better kept from having their zeal quenched, or being ensnared by 
the manifold temptations in the world. 

[4.] By this love the love of the world and its prosperity is much 
abated : 1 John ii. 15, * Love not the world, nor the things which are 
in the world ; for if any man love the world, the love of the Father is 
not in him.' This man cannot part with all when his duty calleth 
for it. Till we despise worldly things we are still liable to take offence. 
All our disquiet cometh from too great love of the world, and too little 
love of the word of God. All this is spoken to show you that it is want 
of love wherefore men are so easily taken off ; and this love beginneth 
with the love of God, then goeth on to his word, and the obedience it 
calleth for, and is strengthened by our love to the saints, and is a 
higher love than that it can be controlled by the love of the world. 

2. This blessed peace hath an influence upon it upon a twofold 
account : 

[1.] This is an experience of the good of that way which the world 
speaketh evil of. You cannot persuade a man against his experience, 
that honey is bitter, when he has tasted the sweetness of it, 1 Peter ii. 
3. They know the grace of God in truth, they have found much com 
fort and peace in these ways. Most men know religion and godliness 
but by hearsay or looking on ; the testimony of Christ was never con 
firmed in them. But these have tried it, and know the good of reli 
gion by experience, therefore they cannot be so easily offended as others 
are, who have only licked the glass, but never tasted the honey. The 
pleasure they find in the duties and exercises of godliness will with 
them infinitely outweigh all the transient delights and advantages 
that are propounded, or offer themselves as the bait to any unlawful 

[2.] The particular nature of this experience ; it is peace, which 
doth guard heart and mind, Phil. iv. 7, that they are not disturbed or 
distracted by anything that befalleth them, but enjoy a calm in their 
souls, whatever storms overtake or befall them in the way of their 
duty : Eph. vi. 15, ' Having our feet shod with the preparation of the 
gospel of peace/ This is the gospel-shoe ; there is no going to heaven 
without it ; and this is peace, that is, peace with God. When all is 
quiet within, and the quarrel is taken up between God and us, we can 
the better bear the frowns of the world. And he calleth it the gospel 
of peace, because it mainly dependeth on the terms of grace revealed 
to us in the gospel. The law discovereth the enmity and the breach, 
but the gospel discovereth how peace may be had. He calleth it also 
the preparation, erovpacria, because this peace breedeth a firm and 
ready resolution to go through all difficulties, crosses, and hardships : 
Acts xxi. 13, * I am ready not only to be bound, but to die at Jerusa 
lem.' Well, then, this is the fruit of peace and friendship between 
God and sinners. It breedeth a resolution to hold on our way to 


heaven, notwithstanding crosses and continual hardships, and allayeth 
the bitterness of all worldly trouble. 

3. There is God's providence and care over them, who is concerned 
in the protection of all that love his law, and take care to love and 
please him. On the one side, God sometimes threateneth the wicked, 
that he will lay stumbling-blocks before them, Jer. vi. 21, that is, 
bring those things upon them that shall be a means of ruin to them. 
On the other side, Jer. xxxi. 9, that he will lead the penitent believer 
in a straight way, that they shall not stumble. We must not omit God's 
concurrence, for it is his promise that nothing shall offend them. His 
people are very near and dear to him. Our Lord telleth us in his dis 
course against offending them, that ' their angels do always behold the 
face of his Father which is in heaven/ Mat. xviii. 10 ; that is, though 
the angels be appointed to be their guardians on earth, yet they have 
their continual returns and recourse to God's glorious presence, to 
make requests or complaints in their behalf, or to receive commands 
concerning them ; for as God seeth fit they are employed in service for 
the benefit of those little ones. I remember Solomon saith, Prov. xii. 
21, ' There shall no evil happen to the just, but the wicked shall be 
filled with mischief.' We can easily understand that the wicked shall 
be overwhelmed with God's judgments ; but how shall no evil happen 
to the righteous, since their troubles are many ? The meaning of the 
place is, as Augustine well glosseth, non ut non eveniant, sed ut non 
noceant they do not stumble at afflictions, nor are they deserted by 
God, as others are. God moderateth the evil, 1 Cor. x. 13, or removetli 
it, Ps. cxxv. 3, or turneth it to good, Kom. viii. 28. Now, by this 
gracious dealing of God, it cometh to pass that nothing doth offend 
them. Those that depend on the favour of men, and the uncertainties 
of a worldly condition, how many troubles are they exposed unto ! 
Therefore we should look to our confidence, whether it be faith or 
security, whether we rest upon a carnal pillow, or the corner-stone 
which God hath laid in Sion. 

Use. It concerneth us all to look to this, whether we love the law 
so as to have gotten peace of conscience and assurance of God's pro 
tection, because of the multitude of scandals, and the trials and exer 
cises we are put upon by God's correcting hand ; the prosperity of the 
wicked ; the disgrace that is cast on the stricter ways of God ; the 
world being so full of snares and temptations, that bring men to 
sin and ruin. Omnia timeo, saith Bernard, et quce placeanl, et quce 
tristentur I am afraid of everything, of those things that please us, 
and those that make us sad. What shall a poor Christian do that he 
may not miscarry ? 

1. Be sure that your resolutions for God and the world to come be 
thoroughly fixed and settled ; for you will be distracted with every 
thing if you be not at a point, and have not chosen the better part, 
and fully fixed your purpose. The apostle telleth us, Jame s i. 8, 
' The double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.' A wavering 
and inconstant Christian will not know which way to turn himself, 
being disquieted upon all occasions. 

2. They never rightly begin with God that do not sit down and 
count what it may cost them to be holy Christians : Luke xiv. 26, ' If 

VER. 165.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 217 

any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife 
and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he 
cannot be my disciple/ If you have not a preparation of mind to 
suffer anything rather than part with Christ, you are not fit for his 
turn ; like a man that sets on building, and hath not a stock to hold 
out ; or designeth a war, and is not provideth with all necessaries to 
go through with it. You must expect temptations and troubles, be 
cause they serve to try whether you will hold your integrity ; and if 
God be not sufficient enough to be your portion, never serve him. 
Never pretend to religion if you do not resolve to renounce all that is 
precious to you in the world rather than forsake it, 

3. Consider the necessity of standing to God's law, whatever perse 
cutions and sufferings you meet with. There is no other way to be 
saved : John vi. 68, ' Lord, whither shall we go ? thou hast the words 
of eternal life/ Such as have a mind to quit Christ have need to con 
sider where they shall find a better master. Change where they will, 
they change for the worse. Obedience to the word of God is the only 
way to eternal life ; and whatever law you make to yourselves, God 
will judge you by his own law. 

4. Be established in the peace of God, and never break this peace to 
obtain your outward peace. What a wound will it be to thy soul ! and 
how shiftless and helpless wilt thou be when, to make thy peace with 
the world, thou hast broken thy peace with God ! Therefore rise up 
against temptations, as the trees refused in Jotham's parable to be 
ruler over the rest. Shall I lose my fatness ; another, my sweetness, 
to rule over the trees ? Shall I, to please men, put my conscience to 
a continual torment and anguish ? sell the birthright for one morsel 
of meat? The remembrance. will come into your minds, when you 
had joyful communion with God and his people, whose company you 
have abandoned ; every day of solemn assembly will be a new torment 
to you. 

5. When troubles surprise you, consider how unbeseeming it is to 
take offence at God's providence. It is an ill sign to be so apt to pick 
quarrels with God and godliness ; it argueth little love either to God 
or his law - } for love thinketh no ill of those whom we love. They are 
murmurers that said the ways of the Lord are not equal, or what 
profit is there if we serve the Lord ? Mai. iii. 14. 

6. Consider, the greatest hurt Satan intendeth you is not to hurt 
your bodies but your souls, to bring you to be offended at the holy and 
righteous ways of the Lord. He would let you enjoy the pleasures of 
sin, to rob you of your delight in God and celestial pleasures ; let you 
have all the world, if it were in his power, Mat. iv. 9. 

7. Consider how short is the prosperity of the wicked, and those 
that turn aside to the ways of sin, Ps. xvii. 14. They shall be cut off, 
they are soon withered and dried up, and all their outward glory 
perishes with them. It is a more prudent course to adhere closely to 
God : Job v. 3, 'I have seen the foolish taking root, but suddenly I 
cursed his habitation.' It is a prediction ; he foretold that there was a 
curse at the root of all his prosperity. 



Lord I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments. 

VER. 166. 

THE man of God had said, ver. 165, ' Great peace have they that love 
thy law, and nothing shall offend them ;' now he particularly applieth 
to himself what he had generally spoken before. It is sweet when 
we can thus comfortably apply promises, and make out our own title 
and interest. This is David's work in this and the following verses. 
Here he maketh profession of two things his hope and obedience ; 
which indeed are the two great things that belong to a Christian ; 
graces much praised and little practised. Quarum multa sunt elogia, 
pauca exampla. They are fitly coupled together in his plea, ' I have 
hoped, I have done ;' for our confidence in God's mercy is no greater 
than our fidelity in his precepts ; and they are both professed before 
God, who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins : ' Lord, I have 
hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.' 

Doct. Sound hope of salvation is and must be joined with a care of 
keeping God's commandments. 

1. I shall speak of the several branches of this profession apart. 

2. Then of their conjunction. 
First, Separately ; and there 

First, Of the profession of his hope, ' Lord, I have hoped for thy 

1. The object and thing hoped for is salvation. Salvation is tem 
poral or eternal, of the body or of the soul. Eabbi David Kimchi 
understandeth it of the latter, but it seemeth rather to imply help 
and deliverance out of dangers and distresses. Indeed, neither can be 
well excluded ; not eternal salvation, for without that, temporal deli 
verance is but a reprieve for a time, not a total exemption from evil : 
not temporal salvation, because before we come to look for our full 
and final deliverance, God will try us by the way, and train us up in 
the expectation of other things ; as men learn to swim in the rivers 
and shallow waters, that afterwards they may swim in the ocean and 
deep waters. So by expecting lesser things we learn to wait for 
greater. Both must be hoped for, but with a difference ; eternal 
salvation absolutely, but temporal with submission to God's will. 
We have not temporal things always in specie, in kind, but sometimes 
in value, for these things may be recompensed and made up another 
way ; but no recompense can be given us for eternal life. The apostle 
speaketh with submission as to his temporal case, but is peremptory 
as to his eternal state : 2 Tim. iv. 17, 18, ' Notwithstanding, the Lord 
stood with me, and strengthened me, that by me the preaching might 
be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was 
delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord shall deliver 
me from every evil work, and preserve me to his heavenly kingdom.' 
Again, though we are not to neglect the meanest promise, yet our 
hearts should run more upon the things of another world. A Christian 
honoureth God by his faith about temporal things, when he will not 

VER. 166.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 219 

cast away his hope in the deepest calamities ; but much more when 
the concernments of the world to come are of the greatest force with 
him, and his heart is wholly taken up about them : ' Looking for the 
blessed hope/ Titus ii. 13 ; there is the character of a Christian. 
Peace and freedom from trouble in the world is not the main thing 
that we should look after, but perfect conformity to God, and full 
fruition of him. God is the chief good, and the fruition of him as 
promised is the utmost happiness of the creature. A true Christian 
hath a greater indifferency to the things of this life ; all his business 
is to get an assurance of a better : he can look through the troubles 
of the world, and see sunshine behind the back of the storm : Ps. xlii. 
11, ' Why art thou cast down, my soul? why art thou disquieted 
within me ? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the 
health of my countenance, and my God.' But chiefly his hope is laid 
up for him in heaven, Col. i. 5 ; his portion is laid up for him, and 
kept safe for his use in a sure place. Here he knoweth he must be 
exercised with temptations and crosses. In short, temporal things are 
desired for the sake of spiritual and eternal, but eternal for themselves ; 
a traveller desireth a horse not for himself, as for the conveniency of 
his journey ; so he expecteth temporal things as helps in his way and 
passage to heaven. Well, then, salvation is the object of this hope, 
temporal salvation in order to eternal, that we may have opportunities 
to glorify God here, and may not faint and be overwhelmed with inci 
dent crosses. This sentence is borrowed from good old Jacob : Gen. 
xlix. 18, ' I have waited for thy salvation, Lord/ It is notable 
Jacob speaketh this when prophetically blessing his children; and when 
he cometh to Dan, the good old man seemed to be carried beside his 
purpose, breaking out thus of a sudden, but in spirit foreseeing the 
miseries and calamities with his posterity should fall into for their 
idolatry ; for Dan was the first tribe that made defection, therefore he 
opposeth his hopes to his fears. We are told in the general, Lam. iii. 
26, 'It is good that a man should hope, and quietly wait for the 
salvation of God / that is, for deliverance out of troubles. It will be 
of great use to us in our troubles to look to the issue of them. The 
Lord doth not wholly cast off his people ; when he seemeth to break 
down the hedge and fence of his providence, and leave them in their 
enemies' hands, he hath salvation for a hoping people. But mark, it 
is thy salvation ; it is good to come out of trouble upon God's terms, 
in God's way, and in God's time ; others break prison : Ps. Ixii. 1, 
' My soul hopeth in God, from him cometh my salvation.' Expect it 
from God, and him alone. 

2. The act of grace, ' I have hoped/ Hope, in the general, is the 
expectation of some future good; as it is a grace, it is some good 
thing promised by God : Ps. cxxx. 5, ' I wait for the Lord, my soul 
doth wait, and in thy word do I hope/ ' I am judged for the hope of 
the promise/ saith Paul, Acts xxvi. 6. So that nope is the expectation 
of good things promised. Faith and hope do both work upon the 
promise, but yet they are distinct graces ; they differ in their object. 
The object of faith is larger ; the whole word of God is the object of 
faith. We believe things past, present, and to come, but hope for 
things to come only. Among things to come, we believe both promises 


and threatenings, but the object of hope is only things desirable. We 
believe the torments of hell, but do not hope for them. In the pre 
mises, faith believeth the promise, and hope looketh for the thing 
promised. Faith looketh to the authority of the promiser, and hope 
to the goodness of the thing promised. Faith begets hope, and then 
hope strengthens faith. Faith holdeth the candle to the soul, whereby 
we see things invisible and to come, and hope maketh this light com 
fortable and ravishing to us. We have comfort in believing, because 
hopes of enjoying. To believe eternal life, if we had not hopes to 
attain it, were a comfortless thing. Faith is before hope, and leadeth 
us to the object, and hope followeth as faiiih leadeth. Faith assents 
to and applieth the promise, and hope waiteth for the accomplishment. 
There are several sorts of hope. 

[1.] There is a vain and groundless hope, the dream of a waking 
man ; as if a beggar should hope for the succession of a crown. So 
there are some that dream of peace and safety, ' and sudden destruc 
tion cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child/ 1 Thes. 
v. 3. This is an irrational thing. 

[2.] There is rational and probable hope, but yet not so firm and 
certain ; it is likely it will be so, but we have no absolute certainty : 
2 Cor. ix. 10, ' He that plougheth, plougheth in hope ; and he that 
thresheth, is partaker of his hope.' This is necessary for the carrying 
on of all human actions, that a man should have probable hope of 
success, for without it there is no labour or rational attempt. 

[3.] There is a firm and certain hope, when we have assurance of 
the things hoped for. So in the commerce between us and God, he 
giveth us assurance in his promises by his word and oath, that our 
consolation might be the more strong, when we fly for refuge to the 
hope that is set before us, Heb. vi. 17, 18. There is a blessed and 
glorious estate reserved to be enjoyed in the heavens ; this is set before 
us, propounded as a prize in the view of the world. Now when we 
take hold of this, gain a right and title to it, God would have our 
consolation the more strong, by the assurance he hath given us in the 
covenant made with us in Christ. Well, then, Christian hope is not 
a conjecture or probability, but an assurance. Many times all kind of 
probability is contrary to God's assurance : Kom. iv. 18, ' Abraham 
believed in hope, against hope/ Credidit in spe gratice, contra spem 
natura:. God's assurance prevailed above natural difficulties ; there 
rational and human hope and divine hope are opposed. 

[4.] This assurance admits of degrees, for it may be full or not full: 
Heb. vi. 11, ' And we desire that every one of you do show the same 
diligence, to the full assurance of hope to the end/ The full assur 
ance is that which removeth all doubts and fears ; -and this it may do 
at some time, and not at another ; it may be interrupted, or continue 
to the end. Now we must give all diligence that it may do so. By 
slothfulness and negligence it will be lost. Presumption and carnal 
hope costs a man nothing to keep it, it groweth upon us we know 
not how ; but this certain hope is not kept lively and upon the wing 
without great zeal and diligence in the spiritual life. Oh 1 but it con- 
cerneth us much so to do. This hope is necessary for us 

(1.) To quicken and enliven our duties. Hope of reward is one of 

VER. 166.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 221 

the bands of a man, the weight that inclineth us to all actions ; much 
more doth this great reward which the Christian faith propounds : 
Acts xxvi. 6, 7, ' And now I stand, and am judged for the hope of the 
promise made of God unto our fathers : unto which promise our 
twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come ; for 
which hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews ; ' and 
Acts xxiv. 15, 16, ' And have hope towards God, which they them 
selves also allow, that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both 
of the just and unjust. And herein do I exercise myself, to have 
always a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men/ 
I run not as one that is uncertain, 1 Cor. ix. 26, not by guess, but sure 
grounds : Phil. iii. 14, ' I press towards the mark for the prize of the 
high calling of God in Christ Jesus.' It is great and sure ; here is 
excellency and certainty. A man that hopeth for anything will be 
engaged in the thorough pursuit of it. 

(2.) It sharpeneth our affections after heavenly things ; when we 
look for them, we will also long for them : Kom. viii. 23, ' And not 
only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, 
even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to 
wit, the redemption of our bodies.' Hope stirreth up serious thoughts 
of heaven and blessedness to come, and hearty groans after it, and so 
sets both mind and heart a- work. It sets the mind a-work. A man 
cannot hope for a thing, but he will be thinking of it ; as the scripture 
speaketh of the labourer, that he lifts up his soul to the hire which he 
expects. Thoughts will be sent as spies into the land of promise, 
to bring us tidings thence. And it sets the heart a-longing and groan 
ing that we were at home : Eom. viii. 19, ' For the earnest expectation 
of the creature/ aTrofcapaSo/cla /m'o-ew?, stretcheth out the head, to see 
if it can spy it a-coming ; as when Sisera's mother expected him, she 
looked through the lattice. There will be strong desires as well as 
serious thoughts ; not glances and hasty wishes, such as worldly per 
sons may have in their serious moods and sober fits ; these vanish and 
leave the heart never the better ; but earnest longings, such as settle 
into a heavenly frame ; that taste which they have already maketh 
them groan for what is behind. 

(3.) It sets the heart at rest, and allayeth our disquiets, and fears, 
and cares, and sorrows, that so we may go on cheerfully in God's ser 
vice. It is the pleasure of God that the heirs of promise should for a 
while shine as lights in a corrupt world, and be exercised with all 
kind of temptations, that his power may be manifested in their weak 
ness. Now, that we may ride out the storm, he gave us hope ; not 
only veniam sperandi, leave to hope for his mercy, but virtutem sper- 
andi, the grace of hope, strength so to do. And what is the use of it, 
but to calm the heart under all distempers ? Therefore it is compared 
to a helmet and an anchor. To a helmet : 1 Thes. v. 8, ' Take to 
you the helmet of salvation, which is hope/ A helmet is to cover 
the head ; this maketh a believer hold up head in all his straits and 
troubles. The policy of the devil is to weaken or darken the hopes of 
eternal life, and then he knoweth he shall the sooner overcome us ; 
therefore the life of a Christian should be to keep on his helmet, to 
keep his hopes of heaven lively and fresh, and then he will not be de- 


jected. Again, it is compared to an anchor : Heb. vi. 19, ' Which 
hope we have, as an anchor, both sure and steadfast, which entereth 
into that which is within the veil.' As the anchor holdeth the ship in 
a tempest, so doth hope keep the mind in a constant temper in the 
midst of the stormy gusts of temptation, that we dash not against the 
rocks that would break our confidence and profession : it strengthens 
and quiets the floating heart of man. Things will end well at last, 
how blustering and stormy soever the weather be at the present. The 
floods of temptation and the tribulations of this present life are per 
mitted to invade us, but that God hath given us an anchor, that they 
shall not drive us from the haven of eternal happiness. Whatever 
our cross be, immoderate grief for the death of near and dear rela 
tions : 1 Thes. iv. 13, ' Mourn not as those without hope/ Cur enim 
doleas, si periisse *non credis f Cur impatienter ferres subductum, 
quern iterum credis reversurum esse? profesto est quam putas mortem, 
saith Tertullian De Patientia. If for loss of goods and estate : Heb. 
x. 34, ' And took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in your 
selves that in heaven ye have a better and enduring substance.' If a 
poor man that had all his wealth about him should fall into the hands 
of thieves and robbers, and be rifled by them, he must needs cry and 
take on pitifully ; for alas ! he is altogether undone, and hath nothing 
left him wherewithal to succour himself and his family. But a rich 
man, that hath store of money at home, and sure locked up in his 
chest, will never complain and be much disquieted when he hath 
twenty or forty shillings taken from him. For worldlings to rage and 
take on when they must lose their estates, it is no marvel ; those whose 
portion is in this life, and know no better ; alas ! for when these things 
are gone, they have nothing left, and are quite undone. But those 
that are heirs according to the hope of eternal life, they know they 
have a better and a more enduring substance ; they consider what they 
are born to, what they shall enjoy when they come home to God, 
therefore their hearts are calmed and quieted. So if it be the oppres 
sion of wicked men, and hard sufferings and persecutions for the 
gospel : 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18, ' For our light affliction, which is but for a 
moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of 
glory ; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the 
things which are not seen ; for the things which are seen are temporal, 
but the things which are not seen are eternal.' He that hopeth for 
nothing from God will soon fall off from him, and yield to fainting 
discouragements ; their hearts are turned off and perverted ; but when 
we hope, we do with patience submit to the cross. What troubles 
will not^they undergo that expect undoubtedly their speedy ending in 
everlasting and endless bliss and happiness ? If God hideth his face, 
that raiseth a storm : Ps. xliii. 5, ' Why art thou so disquieted, my 
soul ? still hope in God. 5 Casting anchor upon the rock, as the crying 
child falls asleep with the teat in his mouth ; or when God delayeth 
the performance of what is promised : Prov. xiii. 12, ' Hope deferred 
maketh the heart sick.' Expectation is a tedious thing, as smoke to 
the eyes, and vinegar to the teeth, an ordinary messenger sent on a 
trifling errand. Now, Rom. viii. 15, ' If we hope for that we see not, then 
do we with patience wait for it ; ' 1 Thes. i. 3, ' And patience of hope 

VER. 166.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 223 

in our Lord Jesus Christ.' Is a title nothing before possession ? It 
is not a matter of debt. Or is it the fear of approaching death, which 
is the king of terrors ? Prov. xiv. 32, ' The wicked shall be driven 
away in his wickedness, but the righteous hath hope in his death.' 
The wicked, being arrested by death, is hurried away into hell ; but 
the righteous dismisseth his soul into his Kedeemer's hands. Never 
more cheerful than when our confidence in God's mercy is most put 
to trial. 

Secondly, Here is the profession of his obedience, ' I have done thy 
commandments/ Here is 

1. The object, thy commandments. 

2. The act of duty, done. 

1. The object, 4 Thy commandments/ quia tua; therefore kept them, 
because they are thine ; things thou hast given in charge. Men were 
ready to persuade or threaten him out of his duty. 

2. The act of duty, ' Done thy commandments : ' the act of duty, 
to do, noteth the substance of the act or omission ; the doing things 
commanded by eschewing things forbidden. 

3. The manner of doing, out of knowledge of God's command, and 
conscience of obeying it, to his glory and our salvation. Now, saith 
David, ' I have done it ; ' implying, I have not only care and con 
science, but strength and ability, in some measure to do thy will. 

But is not this plea a proud word for a creature to say, ' I have 
done thy commandments ' ? Who can thus say, and aver it to the face 
of God? 

Ans. There is a twofold keeping or doing of the commandments 
legal and evangelical. 

1. Legal, when we do them so exactly as is answerable to the rigour 
of the law, and the rule of strict justice doth require, which exactness 
is when our obedience is universal in every point, when everything 
commanded by God is done by us without failing in one point : Gal. 
iii. 10, ' Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written 
in the book of the law to do them.' 

tl.] In all things ; and that 
2.J Continually, in respect of time ; from the first minute of our 
birth till our dissolution ; one failing in thought at any time casteth off 
our plea. 

[3.] Full and complete in respect of the degrees and measure of 
obedience, with the utmost intension and affection of the heart, which 
the scripture expresseth by all the heart and all the soul. In this 
sense, never man was able to keep the law, save only the first Adam 
in innocency, and the second Adam Jesus Christ; and therefore, 
according to this rigour, there is no hope for us ; one sin once com 
mitted would undo us for ever, as it did the apostate angels. 

2. Evangelical, according to the eVtet/ceta and moderation of the 
gospel, that is, when we do the commandments according to those 
terms of grace which God offereth to us in Christ ; that doth, as to 
obedience, mitigate the rigour of the law in two things : 

[1.] It granteth a pardon of course to some kind of sins. 
[2.] Accepteth of repentance after any the most heinous sin com 


[1.] It granteth a pardon of course to some kind of sins, as sins of 
infirmity, either of ignorance, which if we had known we would not 
have committed, or sins of sudden surreption, which escape without 
our observing of them ; or sins of violent temptation, which by sudden 
assault sway against the right rule before we have time to weigh both 
it and ourselves, or in cool blood to think what we are a-doing ; such 
as do not arise out of any evil purpose of the mind, but out of human 
frailty, and from which we shall never be free as long as we live in this 
body of corruption, Kom. vii. 24, Paul groaneth under these relics ; 
when what we have done is not out of deliberate consent, giving way 
to the growth and reign of sin : Kom. vi. 14, ' For sin shall not have 
dominion over you.' Non dixit, non sit, sed non regnet ; inest pecca- 
tum cum perpetras, regnat cum consenseris, saith Austin. When 
we give obedience 4o it, freely, willingly yield up ourselves to be ser 
vants of it, then sin reigns. Therefore he doth not say, Let not sin 
be in you, or tempt you, or please you ; but, Let it not reign in you. 
It is a misery to be tempted, a snare to be delighted, and a forfeiture 
or renouncing the grace of the covenant to give up ourselves to the 
full sway of it. 

[2.] The gospel doth herein moderate the rigour of the law, because 
it leaveth a sinner a way and means of recovery, namely, by repent 
ance and faith in Jesus Christ, and upon repentance giveth him a 
pardon, Mat. ix. 13. Eeniissionor forgiveness is a privilege of the new 
covenant ; the law knoweth no such matter : Ezek. xviii. 21, 22, 
' But if the wicked shall turn from all his sins that he hath committed, 
and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he 
shall surely live, and not die : all his transgressions that he hath com 
mitted they shall not be mentioned unto him/ Well, then, this is to 
be understood in the gospel sense ; it is the plea of a man justified freely 
by God's grace, and one that is sincere and upright for the main ; one 
that had received grace to be faithful, though not without his infirmi 
ties, and did not make a practice to live in any known sin against 

Secondly, We now come to show the connection between these two. 

1. None can and do rightly hope for salvation but they that keep 
the commandments. 

2. None do and can keep the commandments but they that hope for 

1. None can and do rightly hope for salvation but they that keep 
the commandments. That will appear to you 

SI.] Partly because God hath by a wise ordination conjoined means 
end, and offered the promises with a qualification : Kom. ii. 7, 
' To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, 
honour, and immortality, eternal life.' God hath not simply promised 
blessedness, but the promise requireth a qualification and a performance 
of duty in the person to whom the promise is made ; and therefore, 
before we can have a certainty of hope, we must not only look upon 
the assurance on God's part, but make out our qualification. So Ps. 
i. 1, 2, ' Blessed is the^ man that walketh not in the counsel of the 
ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of 
the scornful ; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law 

VER. 106.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 225 

doth he meditate day and night.' So Ps. cxix. 1, 2, ' Blessed are the 
undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord : blessed are 
they that keep his testimonies, and seek him with the whole heart ; ' 
and many such places, which intimate that blessedness belongeth to 
such as are of a holy heart, and entirely give up themselves to a holy 
course ; that doing the commandments uprightly, and in a gospel 
sense, is a necessary condition to qualify those persons which shall be 
saved. And therefore they that live in any sin against conscience 
may take notice how fearful their estate is for the present, and how 
needful it is to begin a good course before they can have any hope 
toward God. 

[2.] And partly because true hope is operative, and hath an influence 
this way. There are two parts in sanctification mortification and 
vivification, and true hope hath an influence upon both. Mortification : 
1 John iii. 3, ' And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth 
himself, as he is pure ; ' that when we see God, we shall be like him. 
He that hopeth for such a pure and sinless estate, either to see God, 
will he appear before him in his filthy rags ? Joseph washed himself 
when he was to come before Pharaoh ; so when to appear before God. 
What ! with this wanton, vain, unclean heart ? We are to be like 
him ; is this to be like Christ, where there is such a disproportion 
between head and members ? And if this hope be fixed in our hearts, 
it will set us a-purifyirig more and more. So for vivification, it urgeth 
and encour'ageth to obedience : Titus ii. 12, 13, ' For the grace of God, 
that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, 
denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, right 
eously, and godly in the present world.' Look backward or forward, it 
urgeth the heart to obedience. Why backward to the duties of holi 
ness ? Shall we be lazy in his work when we expect such a great 
reward ? 

[3.] Because there is no such thing to damp hope and weaken our 
confidence as sin. We cannot trust him whom we have offended 
freely and without restraint ; and therefore, while we please the flesh, 
we break our confidence. Sin will breed shame and fear, and it is 
impossible to hope in God unless we serve him in love, and seek to 
please him. If we feel it not presently, we shall feel it. Sin, that now 
weakeneth the faith which we have in the commandments, will in time 
weaken the faith that we have in the promises. Every part of God's 
revealed will cometh to be tried one time or another. Our confidence 
in God's mercy is not earnestly and directly assaulted till the hour of 
death, or the time of extraordinary trial. When the evil day cometh, 
then the consciousness of my own sin, whereunto we have been indul 
gent, will be of like force to withdraw our assent from God's mercies, 
as the delight and pleasure we took was to cause us to transgress his 
commandments : 1 Cor. xv. 56, { The sting of death is sin, and the 
strength of sin is the law/ 

[4.] Because our hope is increased by our diligence in the holy life. 
This fostereth and augments it : Heb. vi. 11, ' And we desire that every 
one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope 
unto the end/ It must needs be so, for since there is a qualification, 
the more clear our qualification is, the more full is our assurance of 

VOL. IX. p 


hope ; and so far as a man neglects his duty, and abateth in his quali 
fication, so far doth his assurance abate. To look on one side of the 
covenant is a .groundless presumption. 

2. None do and can keep the commandments but they that hope 
for salvation. This is plain from the order of the words in the text. 
First I hoped for thy salvation, therefore done thy commandments ; 
implying that thereby he kept the commandments. Without this 
none can have a heart or hand to do anything for God. Peccator, 
saith Bernard, nihil expectat, indeque peccator est ; quod bonis pre- 
sentibus non modo delectus, sed etiam contentus, nihil in futurum 
expectat he that looketh for nothing from God can never be dili 
gent in his service, nor faithful and true to him. Hope, it is our 
strength : Lam. iii. 18, ' And I said, My strength and my hope is 
perished from tha Lord.' We first begin, continue, and go on with 
God upon the hope he offereth to us. 

Use 1. It reproveth those that hope well, but take no care to do 
anything for God. Every one will say they must hope in God, but 
none looketh after this lively and operative hope ; their hope is barren 
and unfruitful. Who are they that can make application of the 
promises? 2 Tim. iv. 8. 

Use 2. To persuade us to the coupling of these two. When this 
conjunction is founded, then are we in a right frame. If we would 
keep the commandments, we must hope for the salvation of God ; if 
we would hope for the salvation of God, we must keep the command 
ments. This is most acceptable to the Lord: Ps. cxlvii. 11, 'The 
Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, and hope in his mercy.' 
Such as believe, and fear to offend him, they have acceptable commu 
nion with him. It is for your comfort, Acts ix. 31. It is for the 
honour of religion on the one side to avoid the carnal confidence of 
Papists, on the other the cold profession of Protestants, if you hope 
for temporal deliverance. They that make no conscience of obeying 
God cannot hope for deliverance from him, for his salvation must be 
expected in the way of his precepts : Ps. xxxvii. 3, ' Trust in the Lord, 
and do good ; so shalt thou dwell in the land.' So wait on the Lord, 
and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land : when 
the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see it ; then we may commend our 
selves and all our affairs to God's care and trust. It becometh them 
that look for salvation, and to be helped out of their troubles, to be 
more earnest than others in keeping his law. If you would enjoy the 
comfortable assurance that you shall be saved at length, live so as you 
may never mar your confidence : 1 Peter i. 13, ' Be sober, and hope 
to the end.' Live answerable to your hope, 1 Thes. ii. 12. On the 
other side hope, study promises : Horn. xv. 4, ' The God of hope fill 
you with joy in believing.' He is not only the object, but the author 
of it. 



My soul hath kept thy testimonies, and I love them exceedingly. 

VER. 167. 

THE man of God goeth on in his plea. In the former verse he had 
spoken of the influence of his hope upon obedience ; now of the influ 
ence of his love, and so more expressly and directly maketh out this 
qualification or title to the promise mentioned ver. 165. 

Before we go on, let me answer a question or two. 

First, How can a gracious heart speak so much of itself, and insist 
so much upon the plea of obedience ? Is not this contrary to our 
Saviour's doctrine, who, in the parable of the pharisee and publican 
that went up to pray, Luke xviii., taught us to make use of the plea of 
mercy, not of works ? 

Ans. 1. As to that part of the scruple which concerneth Trepiav- 
ro\ojia, that cannot be imagined to be faulty in David, who was a 
prophet, and therefore, to instruct the world, propoundeth his own 
instance, and setteth forth himself as a pattern of obtaining comfort in 
the way of godliness. 

2. As to the plea of works, they may be produced by way of evi 
dence, not by way of merit, as they prove our interest in the promises, 
not as the ground of self-confidence. The pharisee, he came not to 
beg an alms, but to receive a debt, and therefore went away without 
any mark and testimony of the divine favour and approbation. But 
holy men plead this to God as expecting mercy and favour at his 
hands ; not in regard of any merit in themselves, or of reward de 
servedly for the same done to them, for they acknowledge all that 
they do or can do to be but duty, and due debt ; but in regard of his 
gracious promise freely made unto them ; in a humble and modest 
manner they dare appeal to God himself for the sincerity and integrity 
of their hearts, for serious care and sedulous endeavours to please him, 
and approve themselves to him. 

Secondly, But why is this plea reiterated for three verses together ? 

Ans. 2. Too much care cannot be used in making out an interest in 
so sweet a promise ; and teacheth us this lesson, that we had need 
examine again and again before we can put in our claim. Jesus 
Christ puts Peter to the question thrice : John xxi. 15-17, ' Peter, 
lovest thou me ? ' So here, it was David's plea thrice repeated, for 
the more assurance : ' I have done thy commandments, my soul hath 
kept thy testimonies / and again, ' I have kept thy commandments 
and thy precepts.' After a believer hath found marks of saving grace 
in himself, it is wisdom for him to examine them over and over again, 
that he may be sure they are in him in deed and in truth. The heart 
is deceitful, our self-love is great, our infirmities many, and our graces 
so weak, that we should not easily trust the search. Truly such a 
holy jealousy doth well become the best of God's children, and doth 
only weaken the security of the flesh, not their rejoicing in the Lord. 

In the words you have the testimony of David's conscience concern 
ing the sincerity of his heart, evidenced by two notes : 


1. The sincerity of his obedience, 'My soul hath kept thy testi 

2. His exceeding love to the word, ' I love them exceedingly ; ' or, if 
you will, by the manner of his obedience, and the principle of it. 

First, The spirituality of his obedience, 'My soul hath kept thy 
testimonies/ Mark, the notion by which the act of duty is expressed 
is varied in the former verse. It is * I have done thy commandments ;' 
here it is, ' I have kept thy testimonies.' Done more expressly noteth 
his sedulity and diligence ; kept his constancy and diligence, persever 
ance notwithstanding temptations to the contrary. And how kept 
them? Saith he, 'My soul hath kept them;' not with outward 
observance only, but with inward and hearty respect. ' My soul,' that 
is, myself; a part for the whole, and the better part, 'I, with my 
soul/ and so it shtfweth his sincerity. It is a usual expression among 
the Hebrews, when they would express their vehement affection to 
anything, to say they do it with their souls ; as Ps. ciii. 1, ' Bless the 
Lord, my soul ;' and Luke i. 45, ' My soul doth magnify the Lord ;' 
as, on the contrary, vehernency of hatred : Isa. i. 14, ' Your new 
moons and appointed feasts my soul hateth ;' that is, I hate them 
with my heart. 
The note is 

Doct. God must be served with our souls as well as our bodies. 
David saith, ' My soul hath kept thy testimonies/ 

1. Because he hath a right to both, as he made both, and therefore 
hath required that both should serve him. He that organised the 
body, and framed it out of the dust of the ground, did also breathe 
into us the breath of life, and framed the spirit of man within him ; 
therefore since God may challenge all, it is fit he should have the 
best: 'My son, give me thy heart,' Prov. xxiii. 26. Look upon it ; 
whose image and superscription doth it bear ? ' Give unto Cassar the 
things that are Csesar's, and to God the things that are God's/ He 
hath redeemed both : 1 Cor. vi. 20, ' Ye are bought with a price ; 
therefore glorify God both in your body and spirits, which are God's/ 
Shall we rob God of his purchase so dearly bought ? We would not 
rob a man of his goods, and will you rob God ? He challengeth a 
peculiar right in souls : ' All souls are mine ;' and therefore they should 
be used and exercised for his glory. If we use them for ourselves only, 
and not according to his direction, we do as Eeuben did, that went up 
into his father's bed. To withhold the heart from God is robbery, 
nay, sacrilege, which is the worst kind of robbery ; for God's right in 
redemption is confirmed and owned by our personal dedication in bap 
tism. Once more, God hath right to the service of both body and soul, 
because he offereth to glorify both, and reward both in the heavenly 
inheritance. The body and the soul are sisters and co-heirs, as Ter- 
tullian speaketh. If we expect wages for both, we must do work with 
both. If God should make such a division at death as men do all their 
life to him, can they be happy if any part of them be excluded heaven ? 
If the body and lifeless trunk were taken into heaven, and the soul 
left in torments, what were you the better ? But that cannot be ; God 
will have all or no part ; therefore ' your whole spirit and soul and 
body must be kept blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus 

VER. 167.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 229 

Christ,' 1 Thes. v. 23. Otherwise your souls cannot be joined to God 
in heaven, if they be divided from him on earth. 

2. Because this is service suitable to his nature, when we serve him 
and obey him with our souls. God is an all-seeing spirit, and there 
fore will be worshipped in spirit and in truth, John iv. 23, 24. It is 
agreeable to his spiritual nature, therefore shows and fashions have 
little respect with him, but reality and substance ; for he searcheth 
the heart and trieth the reins ; it is not the bowing the body, so much as 
the humble affectionate reverence and submission of the soul. God hath 
appointed service for the body, and so far as God hath appointed it we 
must submit to it; but chiefly for the soul, our worship must be chiefly 
inward, flowing from grace engaging the heart in God's service. Bodily 
exercise is of little profit ; that worship which is most agreeable to 
God's nature is most pleasing to him : he ' hath not eyes of flesh, and 
seeth not as man seeth/ Job'x. 4. Therefore external duties, without 
the inward exercise of the Spirit, is scarce worthy the name of worship 
to God. He is not taken with the pomp of ceremonies and external 
observances : 1 Sam. xvi. 7, * For man looketh on the outward appear 
ance, but the Lord looketh on the heart/ Men are taken with external 
pomp and formalities ; they suit with their fleshly natures ; but the 
more spiritual the more suitable to God. That which you do, be it in 
worship, it is not done unto God, but unto men, when the heart is 
not in it : Col. iii. 23, ' And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the 
Lord, and not unto men.' Without the heart, all that we do is but a 
mocking of God, giving him the shell without the kernel. 

3. Because the soul is the principal thing that swayeth the body, 
and stirreth it up to all that it doth. It being of itself a senseless 
block, it followeth the disposition and inclination of the heart. I shall 
make it good in two considerations : (1.) It is fons actionum ad 
extra ; (2.) It is terminus actionum ad intra. It is the fountain of 
all actions that go outward, from man towards God ; and the subduing 
the heart to God's will is the end of all operations inward, from God 
towards man. 

[1.] Fons actionum ad extra, the fountain of all actions that go 
outward from man towards God. All natural actions proceed from 
the soul or heart. It is not the eye that seeth, nor the ear that heareth, 
nor the hand that toucheth, nor the feet that walketh; it is the soul 
seeth by the eye, and heareth by the ears, and toucheth by the hands, 
and walketh by the feet. So in all moral actions the heart is all : Prov. 
iv. 23, ' Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues 
of life/ All our actions proceed thence ; all the evil that we do 
cometh from the heart : Mat. xv. 19, * Out of the heart proceed evil 
thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blas 
phemies/ All that we speak, and think, and do followeth the frame 
of the heart. This is the burning furnace from whence the sparks fly. 
The occasion of sin may be without, but the cause of it is ever from 
the heart. It is the heart that filleth the eyes with wantonness, pride, 
and fury, and the tongue with blasphemy, slander, and detraction, the 
hands with blood. So for good, actions, thoughts ; they come out of 
the good treasury of the heart : Mat. xii. 35, * A good man out of the 
good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things/ The tap run- 


neth according to the liquor wherewith the vessel is filled ; that a man 
hath laid up in his heart, that he layeth out in his thoughts, and 
speeches, and actions. It is the heart that enliveneth all our duties, 
and we act ever according to the constitution of our souls. 

[2.] It is terminus actionum ad intra ; all actions inward, the aim 
of it is to come to the heart. The senses report things to the phantasy, 
the phantasy represents them to the mind, that counsels the heart ; so 
in God's operations upon us, his business is to come at the soul. 
Wherefore doth he speak, and reason, and plead, but that we may 
hear ? And wherefore do we hear, but that truth may be lodged in the 
heart or soul ? Prov. iv. 4, ' Let thy heart keep my precepts ; let thy 
heart receive my words.' Ay ! then God's word hath its effect upon 
us. We are never subdued to God till the heart be subdued. The 
word for a while may stay in the memory, and it is good when the 
memory is planted with the seeds of knowledge, as children receive the 
principles of religion in catechisms ; but the end is not there ; at length 
they exercise their understandings about them, when they begin to 
conceive of what they learned by rote, and afterwards they begin to 
have a judgment and a conscience. These truths begin to stir and 
awaken them, but it must not rest there neither ; it soaketh further, 
and wisdom entereth upon the heart, Prov. ii. 10. Ay ! that was God's 
aim, to bring the work thither, and then the cure is wrought with 
man : Kom. vi. 17, * Ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doc 
trine which was delivered to you/ So this is the end of all the opera 
tions of grace, that the soul and heart may keep God's testimonies. 
So where is it that Christ would dwell when he taketh up his abode 
and residence in us ? The apostle will tell you : Eph. iii. 17, ' That 
he may dwell in your hearts by faith/ Till he get possession of the 
heart, all is as nothing. He will not dwell in the body only ; that is 
the temple of the Holy Ghost at large ; there is a holy of holies, a 
more inward place where he will dwell. He will not dwell in the 
tongue, or in the brain, memories, or understandings, unless by com 
mon gifts. But the heart, the will, and affections of man are the chief 
place of his residence ; there he dwelleth as in his strong citadel, and 
from thence commandeth other faculties and members. So that the 
heart is the beginning and ending of the whole work of religion, from 
thence come all holy actions, and thither tend all holy gracious 

4. It is thy hearty soul-service that will only bear weight in the 
balance of the gospel. There may be many defects in the action, yet 
if the heart be right, God will accept the will for the deed, and you 
will find comfort in that another day, when you most need: Isa. xxxviii. 
3, ' Kemember now, Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before 
thee in truth, and with a perfect heart.' Hezekiah had his infirmities 
and failings, but his heart was upright : Heb. xiii. 18, 'Willing in all 
things to live honestly ;' that is a gospel good conscience, and will yield 
comfort to you. God accepts the will without the deed, but never the 
deed without the will. Infirmities may overtake the action, but when 
the heart is unfeignedly set to serve God, we shall be accepted. We 
allow grains to true, but not to counterfeit gold. The church pleadeth, 
Isa. xxvi. 8, ' The desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remem- 

VER. 167.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 231 

brance of thee. When we follow in rugged ways, though we often 
times stumble, yet if our soul be with him, we may have comfort. 

Use 1. This is for the conviction of divers persons, that they do not 
more serve God in their souls, do not keep his testimonies. 

1. There are some that neither serve God with body nor soul, as all 
loose persons, who do not so much as make a show of his service ; they 
are all for their brutish pleasures, their souls to hunt them out, and 
their bodies to pursue and follow them. Their soul is a cage of 
unclean birds, and a stye of all filthiness, and their bodies only a strainer 
for meats and drinks to pass through, or a channel for lust to run in, 
so that they have nothing at all to spare for God : the soul is an ill 
guide, suggesting all manner of evil, and the body a ready instrument 
to accomplish it. These are those that yield up their members to 
uncleanness, and to iniquity unto iniquity, Kom. vi. 19. Oh ! time 
will come when God will tear them in pieces, and rend the guilty soul 
from the embraces of the unwilling body. A sad time it will be for 
these ; the soul will curse the body as an ill instrument, the body the 
soul as a corrupt guide ; and curse the day of their first union, when 
they cannot expect but to meet again in flames. 

2. Some that give their bodies to God, but withhold their souls from 
him. How may this be done? 

Am. 1. Generally, when men content themselves with a naked 
profession of Christianity, and some external conformity thereunto. 
It is a stupid religion that consists in outward actions. Judas was 
externally a disciple, but Satan entered into his heart, Luke xxii. 3. 
Ananias joined himself to the people of God, but Satan filled his 
heart. Acts v. 3. Simon Magus was baptized, but his heart was not 
right with God, Acts viii. 22. Many men may not only make pro 
fession, but perform many good actions, be as to external conformity 
blameless ; yet till their hearts are subdued to God, they should not 
be satisfied with their condition. Though you pray with the pharisee, 
Luke xviii., pay thy vows with the harlot, Prov. vii., offer sacrifice with 
Cain, fast with Jezebel, sell thine inheritance to give to the poor with 
Ananias and Sapphira, it is all in vain without the heart. Many hypo 
crites are all ear to hear, all tongue to talk, all face to appear, but not 
a heart to obey. Something must be done for religion for fashion sake 
and shame of the world. Yea, though thou dost not dissemble, do 
many things, yet if your hearts be not renewed and changed, all is 
nothing ; you do not keep the testimonies of the Lord with your souls. 

2. And more particularly when men make conscience of ceremonies 
and outsides rather than sincere obedience. As the pharisees, Mat. 
xxiii. 25, 26, ' They make clean the outside of the cup and platter, but 
within are full of extortion and excess/ Pretend great purity ia 
eating their meat, but care not with how great iniquity they purchase 
it. Papists think they have done enough if they mutter over a few 
idle words, without spirit and life ; the most part of their service is 
but that of the body without the soul ; they worship in a strange 
language, not knowing what they do or say. And, nearer home, draw 
nigh with their lips when their hearts are far from him, Mat. xv. 8. 
These leave their hearts at home ; the devil findeth them other work 
that suffer their hearts to straggle and to be like the fool's eyes in the 


corners of the earth, when with their bodies they are engaged in the 
serious and solemn duties of God's worship. 

Use 2. To press you to serve God with your hearts and souls as 
well as your bodies. 

1. This is the character of true worshippers: Kom. i. 9, ' My God, 
whom I serve in the spirit;' and 2 Tim. i. 3, 'God whom I serve 
with a pure conscience/ This was not peculiar to Paul alone ; it is the 
description of the spiritual circumcision.: Phil. iii. 3, ' For we are the 
circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ 
Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.' These are such as are 
true worshippers. 

2. God will accept of no other, for he looketh for the heart, and 
knoweth whether we give it him, yea or no. Men care not for 
fawning and the obsequiousness of empty courtships, but look for 
reality, if they could discern it : 2 Kings x. 15, 'Is thy heart right, 
as my heart is with thy heart ?' It was Jehu's question to Jonadab, 
the son of Kechab. Dost thou as really affect me, as I do thee ? 
And men do not look to the matter of the gift, but the mind of the 
giver; and will God, think you, who can infallibly judge, and will one 
day bring the hidden thoughts of the heart to light, 1 Cor. iv. 5, will 
he be put off with shows and empty formalities ? Well, then, see 
that your souls be in it, otherwise he will not accept of rivers of oil 
and thousands of rams. All your pomp and cost upon outside services 
is lost. But it is not every soul that will keep God's testimonies. 
When the people said, ' All that the Lord hath spoken, we will do it/ 
Deut. v. 29, * Oh, that they had such an heart ! ' It must be such an 
heart, for man is naturally averse from God ; sin sets up its throne in 
the heart, and thence diffuseth its venom into his actions, Gen. vi. 5. 
It must be (1.) A broken heart ; (2.) A renewed heart; (3.) A heart 
purified by faith ; (4.) And acted by love. 

[1.] A broken heart it must be, Ps. li. 11, for before that, all that 
we do is forced and superficial. We are never serious till acquainted 
with brokenness of heart, but serve God in a slight careless fashion. 
That bruising is to cast into a new mould ; it is a preparative to the 
new heart. Wheat is not bread till it be grinded, and a cracked 
vessel cannot be renewed till it be melted in the furnace, nor we 
formed anew till we be first melted, humbled, and broken for sin. 

[2.] The heart must be renewed by grace, for it is a renewed soul 
only that keepeth the commandments : Ezek. xxxvi. 26, ' A new heart 
also will I give unto you, and a new spirit will I put into you ; and 
then I will cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my 
judgments to do them.' The hearts of the sons of men are fully set in 
them to do evil, till God change them, and renew a right spirit within 
them: Prov. x. 20, 'The heart of the wicked is nothing worth.' A 
vain, sottish, sensual, careless heart will never do God any service ; 
there must be life before there can be action, a supernatural principle 
before there can be supernatural operation, for all things act according 
to their form ; all that we do else is but like adulterating coin, gild 
ing over copper or brass. 

[3.] A heart purified by faith, Acts xv. 9. There are fleshly lusts 
in us which must be mortified more and more, and deadened to the 

VER. 167.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 233 

pleasures and profits and honours of this world, by remembering our 
great obligations and expectations from Christ's death and eternal 
life ; for while any fleshly or worldly lust prevaileth with us, and is 
the chief principle in our hearts, we cannot heartily serve God. 

[4.] A heart acted by love: 2 Cor. v. 14, 15, 'For the love of 
Christ constraineth us ; because we thus judge, that if one died for 
all, then were all dead : and that he died for all, that they which 
live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which 
died for them, and rose again.' This is the active principle which sets 
us a- work with cheerfulness. Christ often intimateth that keeping 
the commandments is the fruit of love, John xiv. 15. All the expres 
sion of our love to him is turned into that channel. 

Secondly, I come now to the second evidence and testimony of his 
sincerity, his love to the word, ' I have loved them exceedingly.' 

1. His affection, Hove thy testimonies. 

2. The degree, in the word exceedingly \ 
First, From his affection. Note 

Doct. That it is not enough to keep the commandments, but we 
must love them, and that obedience they require from us. 

This love to the law is often spoken of in this psalm ; therefore 
there needeth the less to be said now. Paul speaketh of this love as 
well as David: Kom. vii. 22, 'I delight in the law of God after the 
inward man.' 

The reasons of the point. 

1. We can never thoroughly and constantly keep the law with 
out love to it. It is no easy thing to keep the law of God ; there 
needeth much labour and striving. Now where there is a sincere 
love of the law of God planted in the heart, there will be this striving 
and endeavouring to perform it. None so sensible of the weight of 
sin, none so active for God's glory : there is nothing so difficult, but 
love maketh easy : nihil amarum. In a word, labour and toil prove 
a pleasure, and pain a matter of delight, where we love. The careful 
mother bringetb forth the child with pain, and nurseth it up with 
toil and trouble, is well enough pleased with her work, and cheerful 
in it, because of the love she hath to the fruit of her womb, and her 
child is dear to her. Jacob's seven years' labour seemed to be a few 
days for the love he had to Eachel, Gen. xxix. 29. So God will 
have us serve him out of love, because nothing is grievous to love, 
1 John v. 3. It beareth all things, suffereth all things, poverty, naked 
ness, bonds, injuries, labours, never tireth or groweth weary, 1 Cor. 
xiii. 7. 

2. Except we obey because we love, our obedience is not sincere 
and acceptable : 1 Cor. xiii. 1, 2, 'Though I speak with the tongue 
of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding 
brass, or a tinkling cymbal : and though I have the gift of prophecy, 
and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though I have 
all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I 
am nothing/ ovSev dpi. Many are frighted into a course of religion, 
and go on from duty to duty, out of fear of being damned ; this is 
not true obedience, that is done servilely and by constraint, these 


unwilling services which we perform to Christ, out of urging of 
conscience and fear of wrath : Jer. ii. 27, ' Which have turned the 
back unto me, and not their face : but in the time of their trouble 
they will say, Arise and save us.' -They come to God, not out of 
delight and choice, but out^ of necessity, and only then, Hosea. v. 6. 
They that did not care for Go'd at other times will then come with their 
flocks and their herds. The spirit of bondage is clamorous for duty, 
as the spirit of adoption sweetly inclineth to it. Many obey God no 
further, than they are forced, as slaves, whom nothing but fear in- 
duceth to perform their master's commands ; and so do not love the 
work, nor do it for the work's sake. 

3. The next object to God, fit for our love, is God's law. It is 
clear that God is primum amabile, the first thing that is to be loved ; 
but what is the second ? Surely that which hath most of God in it ; 
next after God, his word. There is vestigium in the creature, there 
is imago in his testimonies : 2 Cor. iii. 18, ' For we all with open 
face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord/ The fairest 
draught and print of God that can be taken. His people have his 
image, but it is overshadowed with weakness ; it is but the aTrocfral- 
vio-^a^ the off-set of his word. It is the word that maketh saints, 
there is the liveliest stamp and print of God. His testimonies lead not 
only to the knowledge of God, but also the fruition of him. What 
soever leadeth us to the fruition of God is incomparably better than 
any other thing ; therefore, if we love God, we must love his precepts, 
love them so as to keep them ; it is the greatest testification of that 
love we can show to God. 

Use 1. To show us the reason why so many miscarry in the pro 
fession of godliness. Many walk in the ways of God for a while, but 
have no sound love to them ; either by-ends, or slavish fears forced 
them into some profession ; but they did not love godliness as godli 
ness, and therefore cannot hold out with God. When a man is 
biassed and poised by his heart to a thing, you cannot easily divert 
and break his inclination, that is a rooted thing ; others were but 
forced, and forced subjection will not always hold. Men are hoping 
they shall shake off an unpleasing task, and where they obey from 
constraint, and the iron yoke of terror, they will not long obey. 

Use 2. To press us not only to keep God's testimonies, but to love 
. Let me use some arguments. 

1. From its excellency. To love is more than to do, as to love sin is a 
greater evil than to commit it. Gravius est peccatum diligere, quam 
facere. A man may commit sin out of infirmity, but he that loves it, sin 
reigneth in him. Practice may be overruled ; a man may do evil that 
hateth it, being overborne by the violence of a temptation ; as Paul 
saith of himself, ' The evil that I hate, that I do/ So a man may do 
good that hateth it, being influenced by by-ends ; but our love is our 
own, the genuine offspring of the soul. 

2. The necessity of it. Unless we love our work, we shall never 
be the more earnest in the performance of it. Nature of itself is 
unwilling, the heart hangeth off till it be poised by love : reasons 
and motives will not do it : Kom. viii. 7, ' The carnal mind is enmity 

VER. 167.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 235 

against God, for it is not subject to the law/ The commandments 
of God cross our will, profit, and pleasure ; therefore we need not 
only reasons with us, but a strong inclination of heart to hold us to 
it, else we shall be off and on with God : Neh. iv. 6, ' The building 
went on, because the people had a mind to the work/ Nothing else 
will do it but this. 

3. The utility. We shall have more comfort in the sincerity of 
our affections than we can ever have in the perfection of our actions. 
The people of God, that cannot plead the perfection of what they do, 
plead the reality of their love : John xxi. 17, ' Lord, thou knowest 
all things, and knowest that I love thee.' 

4. Ex debito. We owe so much love to God, that everything that 
he requireth should be welcome to us for God's sake : they are his 
testimonies, therefore your souls should love them, and bind them 
upon your hearts, and the rather because we are to do our duty not 
.as servants but as friends : John xv. 14, ' Ye are my friends, if ye 
do whatsoever I command you/ Not, Ye are my servants. Between 
friends there is a perfect harmony and agreement in mind and will. 
To do a thing for love's sake to his friend, this is an act of friendship. 
Not by servile constraint, but to keep them as they are his. We are 
to do what Christ commandeth because he commandeth it ; and that 
is to do it in love ; otherwise we break the commands when we keep 
them. Besides the outward act, there must be a ready inclination 
and delight in our work. Carnal men, the good they do they would 
not do. That obedience is not worthy the name of obedience that is 
extorted from us. Men had rather live ungodly if they durst for 
fear of punishment. It is but a slight kind of religion when fear 
prevaileth more than love ; they do somewhat God willeth, but they 
had rather leave it undone. A man is never firmly gained to God, 
till he prefer service before liberty, and loveth holiness as holiness. 

But how must we show this love ? By two things. By being 
aweful and cheerful ; grieved when we offend him, glad when we 
please him ; aweful in avoiding what he forbiddeth, and cheerful in 
performing wha'u he requireth. 

[1.] Aweful ; you dare not break with God in any one point, but 
are very chary and tender of the commandments ; keep them as the 
apple of the eye, Prov. vii. 2, that is offended with the least dust ; or 
keeping of jewels: Prov. vi. 21, 'Bind them continually upon thy 
heart, tie them upon thy neck ' as jewels ; choice of them. 

[2.] By being cheerful, ready, and forward to every good work : Ps. 
ex. 3, ' A willing people.' You need not stand urging and pressing; 
the inclination of their hearts swayeth them. A man is hardly kept 
from that he loveth : 1 John ii. 5, * He that keepeth my word, in him 
is the love of God perfected.' 

Secondly, The degree, ' I love them exceedingly.' 

Doct. Our love to the law must be an exceeding love. 

1. In the general, it noteth the height and intensiveness of our 
love ; not a cold love, as children love things, but are soon put out 
of the humour ; but a high strong love, that will not easily be broken 
or diverted, such as doth deeply affect the heart : Ps. cxix. 97, ' Oh, 
how I love thy law ! it is my meditation all the day/ We that are 


so coldly affected to spiritual tilings do not understand the force of 
these expressions. A high and strong love will break forth into 
meditation, operation ; make us sedulous and serious in obeying 
God : Ps. cxix. 48, ' My hands will I lift up to thy commandments, 
which I have loved ; ' 1 John ii. 5, ' He that keepeth my word, in 
him is the love of God perfected.' Lift up our eyes to the receiving, 
our ears to the hearing, our hands to the doing of thy commandments ; 
this argueth love. 

2. The prevalency ; not only high and strong, but to a prevailing 

[1.] Such as prevaileth over things without us. This is such a love 
as is greater than our love to all other things, wealth, honour, credit, 
estate ; yea, life itself : for if anything be loved above our duty to God, 
it will soon prove * snare to us : Mat. xiii. 44, ' Sold all to buy the field 
wherein the treasure was hid.' All for the pearl of price. A believer 
seeth such a treasure in the word of God ; that he maketh no reckon 
ing of any worldly thing in comparison of it, but will part with what 
ever is pleasant and profitable to him to enjoy it, rather than be 
deprived of his grace. If any fleshly sensitive good or interest lieth 
closer to the heart than the word of God, it will in time prevail so as 
to make God's will and glory stoop to it, rather than this interest 
shall be renounced or contradicted. There "is no talking of serving 
God till you have this prevailing love, and hate all things in com 
parison of your duty to God : Luke xiv. 26, 'If any man hate not 
lather and mother.' 

[2.] Such as doth prevail over carnal desires and evil affections 
within us ; if it be not a love that doth eat up and devour our lusts 
within us, if the bent of your hearts be not more for God than for sin. 
See Baxter, pp. 273-279, in his directions about conversion. There 
will be evil in the best, and some good in the worst. The critical 
difference lieth in the prevalent bent of the heart. When your dislike 
of sin is greater than your love, then you may say, Kom. vii. 20, ' It is 
not I, but sin that dwelleth in me.' There must be a renewed self 
that prevaileth above corrupt self. 

Well, then, rest not in some general approbation of the ways of God, 
or inclination to good, but this prevailing affection that jostleth sin 
out of the soul. 


/ have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies, for all my ways are 
before thee. VER. 168. 

DAVID still goeth on in his plea. He had spoken of his faith and love, 
and now of his fear. We must 

1. Labour for faith to believe the promises. The man of God 
beginneth there, ' I have hoped for thy salvation.' 

2. This faith must work by love ; that is his next step, ' My soul 
loveth thy testimonies exceedingly.' And 

VER. 168.] SEKMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 237 

3. Love must breed in us a reverent fear of God's majesty, and a 
care to please him in all things. This is the third part of the plea 
mentioned in the text, ' I have kept thy precepts and thy testimonies/ 
&c. In which words 

1. His integrity is again asserted. . 

2. The reason and encouragement of it. 

1. His integrity is asserted, 'I have kept thy precepts and thy testi 
monies.' Where it is notable the object of his duty is expressed by 
two words, precepts and testimonies. Mandatis adjungit testimonia, 
saith Calvin, ut ostendat se non tantum agere de regula bene Vivendi, sed 
complecti totum salutis fcedus. He addeth the word ' testimonies' to 
that of ' precepts/ to comprise the whole covenant of salvation. Pre 
cepts signifieth the moral law, and testimonies doctrines of grace. 

2. The moving cause or proper reason of this obedience, ' For all my 
ways are before thee/ Whereby he understandeth either the provi 
dence of God apprehended by faith as always watching over him and 
all his affairs for good, or a sense of God's omnisciency and omnipre 
sence. The interpretations are subordinate one to the other ; and in 
both respects, all our ways may be said to be before the Lord, namely, 
as he doth govern and dispose of them according to his will. So it is 
said, Prov. iii. 6, ' In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall 
direct thy pa^hs/ Or that he doth know and see all : Job xxxiv. 21, 
* His eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings/ And 
in this double sense may a parallel place be expounded : Ps. xvi. 8, ' I 
have set the Lord always before me/ In point of reverence and 
dependence, as inspector, helper, observer, second. But why is it 
mentioned here ? Three reasons interpreters give for it either by 
way of appeal, or as the reason of his obedience, or as evidence of his 

[1.] By way of appeal, as calling God to witness for the truth of 
what he had said. Lord, thou art conscious to all my ways, knowest 
the truth of what I spake. ' Lord, thou knowest all things ;' thus Peter 
useth it, John xxi. 17. 

[2.] As a reason why he was so careful to keep all God's precepts. 
All my thoughts, words, and deeds are known to thee ; and so I desire 
to approve myself to thee in every part and point of my duty. 

[3.] Or it is produced as an evidence of his sincerity, that he did all 
things as in God's sight, and set him before his eyes as the judge of his 
doings, and so would not offend God to please men ; for in this octo- 
nary he speaketh as a man in trouble, and ready to miscarry by carnal 

Doct. That walking as in the sight of God is a note of sincerity, 
and a good means to make us keep his precepts. 

1. In those few words which God spake to Abraham all godliness is 
comprehended : Gen. xvii. 1, 'Walk before me, and be thou upright;' 
walk before me as in the sense of my eye and the confidence of my 
all-sufficiency, behave thyself as in my sight and presence. Let me 
give you a note or two concerning this walking as in the sight of 

[1.] All men are in God's sight, but few think of it ; they forget 
God's eye that is upon them ; as Jacob saith in another case, Gen. 


xxvi. 16, c Surely God is in this place, and I knew it not.' God is in 
them, though they do not see God, and therefore act as if God did not 
see them. - The apostle telleth us plainly, Acts xvii. 27, ' He is not 
far from every one of us/ Though God be not far from us, yet we 
may he far from him, at a great distance in our minds and affections. 
God is near us in the effects of his power and providence, but the 
elongation and distance is on our parts. We do not consider his eye 
that is upon us; for many dare do that in the sight of God and 
angels which they dare not do in the sight of a little child. 

[2.] This walking as in the sight of God implieth a looking upon 
God as witness and judge, as one that seeth for the present, and will 
hereafter call you to an account ; and so it works upon those two great 
articles of present providence and last judgment; the one considera 
tion puts an edge upon the other, and maketh it more operative. 
God is to be looked on as one sitting upon his throne ; and Solomon 
telleth us, ' A king sitting upon the throne of judgment scattereth 
away all evil with his eyes/ Prov. xx. 8. Would a subject break the 
laws in his sovereign's sight ? So when God looketh on, shall we 
affront him to his face, the great judge of all the earth? Job xi. 11, ' He 
seeth wickedness also ; will he not then consider it ? ' As Ahasuerus 
said, Esther vii. 8, ' Will he force the queen also before me ? ' The 
greatest malefactors will .carry it demurely in the presence of their 
judge : Ps. x. 14, ' Thou hast seen it, thou beholdest mischief and 
spite, to requite it with thine hand.' 

[3.] We are not only to remember God's eye in the duties of piety 
which we perform directly to God, but also in the duties of righteous 
ness which we owe to men : Luke i. 75, ' In holiness and righteous 
ness before him all the days of our lives/ Holiness hath relation to 
God, and righteousness to men ; in both we must act as before him, 
as in his eye and presence ; not only in praying and hearing ; then we 
are before him, immediately speaking to him ; but before him as to 
men ; all our respects there must be done as in and to the Lord, per 
forming duties we owe to men as in the sight and presence of the 
Lord, as it is often said, so as to approve ourselves to God, who seeth 
the heart; do it unto the Lord heartily : Ps. xxv. 15, 'Mine eyes are 
ever towards the Lord/ 

[4.] God doth not only behold our actions, but our principles and 
aims, and the secret motions of our hearts. ,He is neither ignorant of 
man, nor anything in man. Men may judge of actions, but not of 
principles, no further than they are discovered; but God judges of 
principles when the action is fair: 1 Chron. xxviii. 9, 'And thou 
Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy fathers, and serve him 
with a perfect heart and willing mind ; for the Lord searcheth all 
hearts, and understandeth all the imagination of the thoughts;' words 
that imply an accurate search. God looketh to the bottom and spring 
of actions, not only the matter, but the principle. A man that standeth 
by a river in a low place can only see that part of the stream that 
passeth by, but he that is aloof in the air in a higher place may see 
the whole course, where it riseth and how it runneth ; so God at one 
view seeth the beginning, rise, and ending of actions ; whatever we 
think, speak, or do, he seeth it altogether. He knoweth our thoughts 

VER. 168.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 239 

before we can think them : Ps. cxxxix. 2, ' Thou knowest my down- 
sitting and my uprising, thou understandest my thoughts afar off; 
before we can conclude anything. A gardener knoweth what roots are in 
the ground long before they appear, and what fruits they will produce. 

2. This is a good means to make us keep his precepts. 

[1.] It maketh for the restraint of evil ; the sight of God is a bridle 
to us : Gen. xxxix. 9, ' How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin 
against God ?' Shall we break God's laws before his face ? We take 
heed what we say and do before informers, and should we not much 
more before the judge himself ? If we be not thus affected, it is a sign 
we never had a sight and sense of God's eye : 3 John 11, 'He that 
doth evil hath not seen God.' God taught his people this by the type 
of covering their excrements : Deut. xxiii. 13, 14, ' For the Lord walketh 
in the midst of the camp, therefore let thy camp be holy, that he see 
no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.' The flesh will 
soon seduce us were it not 'for the awe of God's eye. Inferiors, when 
they are in the sight and presence of their superiors, are very careful of 
their behaviour. He were an unhappy son or a lewd servant that would 
misdemean himself in the sight and presence of his father or master. 
Children at school, all is whisht when the master cometh. She were a 
lewd and impudent wife that in the sight and presence of her husband 
would prostitute herself to another man. This is our case ; God is 
father and lord, and we are always in his sight ; if we believe it, and 
can remember it, would we be so shameless as to sin, he looking 
upon us ? The wise heathens were sensible that such a thought would 
be a curb to us, therefore admonished their disciples that they should 
always set before them some Cato or Cselius, some grave and reverend 
person, that they might behave themselves as in their presence ; for 
saith Seneca, Magna pars peccatorum tollitur, si peccatoris testis ad- 
fuit a great part of sin would be prevented if, when we are about 
to sin, some witness were present with us. They thought this fiction 
would be a restraint, and the fiction of grave men. But we speak 
now of the eyes of God, and that not as a fiction and supposition, but 
as a certain and undoubted truth ; no less certain than that there is a 
God, which, of all truths, is most certain. Therefore, should not the 
eye of God restrain, who is with us always and in all places ? 

[2.] For the encouragement to every good work, and so it is a spur 
to us. God looketh on ; he that is thy judge and re warder, he knoweth 
how faithfully we keep his law. All the labours, miseries, slanders 
which thou endurest for his sake are known to him : Eev. ii. 3, ' I 
know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience.' He taketh notice 
of thy faithfulness. Do not think only that God doth spy out our 
failings : Prov. xv. 3, ' The eyes of the Lord are in every place, be 
holding the evil and the good.' He taketh notice of both, both as 
rewarder and avenger. Now cowards will adventure much in the 
presence of their general, and idle servants will work while their 
master looketh on ; and shall not we do the Lord's work, since he 
taketh notice ? He knoweth our work and our discouragements, and 
will help accordingly : Kev. ii. 13, ' I know thy works, and where 
thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is : and thou boldest fast my 
name.' See Basil, Eegulis Brevioribus, qurest. 34. 


More particularly. 

1. It is a great means to make us serious in all our addresses to 
God, that we may behave ourselves with that reverence and awefulness 
that will hecome the divine majesty. What is the reason men are 
so slight and customary in their prayers and other acts of religion ? 
They do not see the invisible God, and think of him to whom they 
speak. From practical atheism and unbelief we have little sense of 
things unseen. In speaking to a man we behave ourselves with that 
gravity and reverence that his quality deserveth ; but in speaking to 
God, our thoughts wander, our hearts are dead and vain, because we 
see not him with whom we have to do : ' Make us gods to go before 
us/ Exod. xxxii. 1. Ay ! that we would have a visible God, whom 
we may see and hear; but the true God being a spirit and an invisible 
power, all the service we do him is a task performed more out of 
custom than affection, in a slight perfunctory manner. Now, when we 
believe God's eye, and are sensible of his presence, that maketh us 
more serious. He telleth man his thought. Thoughts speak louder 
in his ears than our words. Oh! with what reverence should we 
creep into his presence, before whom all things are naked and open ! 
It was a direction Seneca gave to his friend Lucilius, Epist. x. Sic 
vive cum liominibus, tanquam Deus videat ; sic loquere cum Deo, 
tanquam homines videant so, live with men as if God saw; so speak 
with God as if men saw. Shall such a speech come out of the mouth 
of a heathen, and shall not Christians remember God, and set them 
selves as in his sight when they come before him? We would be 
ashamed if our hearts were turned in and out in any duty, and men 
did know all our light, foolish, sinful thoughts that take up our minds; 
and doth not God see and hate these things more than men. So that 
it is a powerful consideration to make us come with humility and reve 
rence into God's presence. 

2. It maketh us sincere in our whole course ; for this is sincerity, to 
do all things in order to God : sincerity lieth in the universality of 
obedience, and purity of intention. 

[L] For universality of obedience, we have an instance here in the 
text. David, by keeping himself as in God's all-seeing presence, per 
formed a uniform acceptable obedience to him. So will all do that 
habituate this thought, and make it familiar to them ; this is that that 
maketh them obey in presence and absence, to perform secret duties, 
Mat. vi. 6. Therefore a Christian is as religious, if not more, alone 
and in secret as before others. The hypocrite walketh before men, 
who see the outward man only, seeketh chiefly to approve himself to 
men, and therefore is more religious before others than alone; but it 
is otherwise with a heart deeply possessed with a sense of God's omni- 
sciency and omnipresence. So- to avoid secret sins, which are only 
liable to God's cognisance ; he that knoweth all the workings of his 
heart lie open before God, maketh it his business to abstain from 
fleshly lusts as from sinful practices, which would betray him to shame 
before the world, and dareth not allow himself to sin anywhere, but 
there where God cannot see, that is, nowhere. Yea, when God's 
children forget themselves to be in their Father's presence, and corrup 
tion gets the start of grace, they afterwards come to be ashamed, and 


grieved for those sins for which the world cannot tax them : Ps. xix. 
12, ' Who can understand his errors ? cleanse me, Lord, from secret 
sins.' All our actions are seen by the Lord ; some of them may be 
known to men, but others may escape their eye ; therefore, if we look 
to men only, we are partial ; but if to God, universal in our obedience. 
If this be all our aim, that men may riot impeach us of any crime ; but if 
this be our aim, to approve ourselves to God, it is a sign we are sincere. 

[2.] As to purity of intention, the proper reason of that is, because 
God seeth our aims as well as our actions, and knoweth all the deceits 
and tricks of a false heart. Our business is not with men, but with 
God, the searcher of hearts, who can distinguish between the motions 
of the flesh, and those inspired by his Spirit. Certainly, if we make 
him paymaster, we must intend his work: Horn. ii. 29, ' For he is not 
a Jew who is one outwardly ; but he is a Jew which is one inwardly, 
whose praise is not of men, but of God/ He that maketh God his 
witness, approver, and judge, must chiefly mind what God looketh 
after : Prov. xvi. 2, ' All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, 
but the Lord weigheth the spirit.' That which he chiefly regardetb 
are men's principles and ends. 

[3.] It maketh us faithful in our relations, by considering he ap 
points them to us, and seeth how we improve them for his glory. 
Magistrates, there is a special presence of God, not only to direct and 
protect, but also to note and observe them : 2 Chron. xix. 6, ' The 
Lord is with you in the judgment ; ' Ps. Ixxxii. 1, ' God standeth in 
the congregation of the mighty, and judgeth among the gods/ When 
they are for the execution of his office, God is there, and therefore 
they above all must be men fearing God, have a reverent regard to his 
eye and presence. Diodorus Siculus telleth us of some heathens that 
had several empty chairs advanced aloof 1 near the tribunals, as for their 
gods, to show they were present, and had an inspection over all acts of 
judicature. So for ministers, they must not only give an account at 
last, but are observed for the present. God hath a watchful eye over 
them, as they have and should have over the flock. He observeth 
how we discharge our trust, and what are our aims, whether to pro 
mote our own interest or his: 2 Cor. ii. 17, 'But as of God, in the 
sight of God, speak we in Christ/ Our doctrines must not only be 
sound, but our aims and principles. It is not enough to speak of God, 
in his name, his truth, but sincerely approve our hearts to him in the 
faithful discharge of our duty. So 1 Thes. ii. 4, ' We speak not as 
pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts ; ' in all singleness and 
sincerity of heart discharging our trust. So masters of families are 
to walk in their houses with a perfect heart, Ps. ci. 2 ; though they 
are shut up in their families from the observation of others, yet at 
home as well as abroad they must be careful to walk with God in their 
domestical converse, where men are wont most to discover themselves, 
and should behave themselves prudently, and holily, and faithfully there. 
The apostle mindeth masters of their Master in heaven, Eph. vi. 9 ; 
one who noteth and observeth your dealings, and will call you to 
an account for all your carriage : your sins and graces are not hid from 
him. So for servants : Col. iii. 21-23, ' Servants, obey in all things 

1 Qu. ' aloft '?[>. 


your masters according to the flesh ; not with eye-service, as men- 
pleasers ; but in singleness of heart, fearing God : and whatsoever ye 
do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.' Still the con 
sideration of God's eye is suggested to them ; they must be careful of 
their master's concernments, whether their master be present or absent, 
or whether the things they do will come to his knowledge, yea or no ; 
for though the eye of man will not find them out, yet the eye of God 
must be regarded ; therefore, with respect to God, they must be care 
ful and faithful. So again, Eph. vi. 5, 6, * Servants, be obedient to 
them which are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and 
trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ ; with good will 
doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.' They should be cheer 
ful, laborious, painful, showing all faithfulness in things committed to 
their trust, even t<5 a pin or the smallest matter, not saucy, stubborn, 
and malapert ; because the Lord looketh upon them, and if they so do, 
will own them and bless them. Thus you see we should have better 
magistrates, better ministers, better masters, better servants, better 
fathers, better children, if this principle were once deeply imprinted 
upon their hearts, that all their ways are before the Lord, and he still 
observeth what they do in all their actions. 

Use. To press us to walk as in the sight of God, and to foresee him 
before you in all your ways. To press you hereunto, consider these 

1. You are in the sight of God, whether you think so or no. We 
can no more be removed from the presence of God than from our own 
beings, for he is in everything that subsists, and it subsists by him. 
The apostle telleth us, Eph. iv. 6, ' There is one God and Father of 
all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.' The sun is 
some representation of God's eye ; nothing is hid from its sight : if the 
sun were an eye, it would see all things that it shineth upon. So doth 
God ; only with this difference, the sun cannot pierce through dark 
and thick bodies, but God is over all, and through all, and in all, 
upholding and overruling all by his powerful providence. Therefore 
you cannot lie hid from God ; only this sight is not comfortable and 
profitable to you, unless you see him as he seeth you. They say of the 
panther, when it hideth the head it thinketh it is not seen because it 
seeth not, and so is taken by the hunters. This an emblem of wretched 
sinners ; they see not God, and therefore think they are not seen by 
him, and so go on doing evil till their iniquities find them out. 

2. What a noble thing it is always to live in the sight of God ; for 
by this exercise, in some measure, and as this mortal state will permit, 
you enjoy the happiness of the blessed angels, for this is the privilege 
of the blessed angels : Mat. xviii. 10, * That they always behold the 
face of our Father which is in heaven/ So when you live in the 
thought of God in some measure, you are doing their work, and your 
minds become as it were another heaven ; for heaven is where God 
is, and there God is in that heart that thinketh of him ; not only 
there by the powerful effects of his providence, and the impressions of 
his grace, but there by the workings of our hearts. 

3. The profit is exceeding great. By conversing with God often ye 
become like him. As musing of vanity maketh us vain, heavenly and 

VER. 168.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 243 

holy thoughts produce a heavenly mind, and frequent remembrance 
is one means to introduce the divine nature. Moses, in that extra 
ordinary converse with God, his face shone, he carried away some 
strictures and rays of the divine majesty in his countenance. We 
cannot look for that effect upon our bodies, but serious and ponderous 
thoughts leave some change upon the soul ; there is the lustre of grace, 
and the beauty of the divine nature, which is a greater thing left upon 
us. The apostle saith, 2 Cor. iii. 19, * For we all with open face, 
beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the 
same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the" Lord.' By 
seeing him in the word, considering him as always present with us ; 
the heart is coloured and dyed by the object it often thinketh upon. 
Oh ! therefore be persuaded to set the Lord before you. 
For means. 

1. To see God aright we need faith, for God is invisible, and in 
visible things are only seen by faith, Heb. xi. 1 ; and the instance is in 
Moses, ver. 27, ' By faith he saw him that was invisible/ Many have 
an opinion that God knoweth all things, but they have not a sound 
belief of it ; it is what is owned by the tongue rather than the heart. . 
Cold and dead opinions are easily taken up, but a lively faith is God's 
gift ; this is a sight not easily gotten. 

2. We must often revive this thought, for the oftener we think of it, 
the more deeply it is impressed upon the soul : Ps. ix. 17, 'The wicked 
shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.' It is 
not said, that deny him, but forget him. On the other side, there is a 
book of remembrance for those that thought upon his name, Mai. iii. 
16. God takes it kindly when our minds are set a- work upon him 
and upon his attributes. We have every moment life and breath, and 
all things from him ; he thinketh of us, and therefore out of a neces 
sary gratitude we should oftener think of God. Nazianzen saith twice, 
Naz. Orat. de Cura Pauperum, Orat. 10, and Orat. de Theol., Orat. 11 : 
We should as oftjen think of God as breathe, for we cannot breathe 
without him, and without his continual providential influence we fall 
into nothing, ab sunbeams vanish when the sun is gone. Therefore 
the apostle telleth the Ephesians they were in their natural estate, 
dBeoi, Eph. ii. 12. There are two sorts of atheists they that deny 
God, and they that wholly forget God. The latter are more common, 
and they are described, Ps. x. 4, ' God is not in all their thoughts.' 
Oh ! what misery is this, that we have thoughts more than we can tell 
what to do withal, and yet we will not afford God the least share in 
them ! He were a cruel man that would cast his provisions and super 
fluities into the street, and deny them to the poor, that should let his 
drink run into the kennel rather than that they should taste a drop of 
it. Such are we to God. We know not what to employ our thoughts 
upon, and yet we will not think of his name. We go musing of 
vanity all the day long, and be grinding of chaff, rather than take in 
good corn into the mill. 

3. There are certain seasons when we are bound not only habitually 
but actually to think of God. 

[1.] In a time of temptation, when the flesh, being enticed by profit 
or pleasure, or scared by fears, tempts us to do anything contrary to the 



will of God. Thus did Joseph, when he might have sinned securely 
and with advantage, Gen. xxxix. ; the thoughts of God's eye and 
presence dashed the temptation. We forget him that seeth in secret, 
and therefore take the liberty to indulge our lusts. Can I consider 
that God looketh on, and do thus unworthily ? It is a daring him 
to his face to go on with these thoughts; therefore God seeth what I 
will now do ; it is a seasonable relief to the soul. 

[2.] We should actually revive this thought in solemn duties, when 
we come to act the part of angels, and to look God in the face. Surely 
God is greatly to be had in fear of all that are round about him. It 
would prevent a great deal of carelessness in worship to remember who 
is the party with whom we have to do, who is speaking to us in 
the word, and to whom we speak in prayer : Heb. iv. 13, ' All things 
are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.' 
He knoweth how we hear, what thoughts and affections are stirring in 
our hearts : ' We are all here present before the Lord, to hear all 
things that are commanded thee of God/ We come not hither to see 
and be seen of men, but to see God ; we are here before God, as if God 
himself were speaking to us. God is everywhere with us, but we are not 
always everywhere with God, but when we lift up our hearts and set him 
before our eyes. So in prayer, when we speak to God, we should think 
of him who is an eternal being, to whom belongeth kingdom, power, 
and glory, Prayer is called a corning to God. We beg his eyes be 
open, Neh. i. 6, to behold us as well as hear us. Now what an awing 
thought is this in prayer, that our preparations, motions, affections, 
dispositions, aims are all naked and open to his eyes ! 

[3.] When God findeth us out in our secret sins by his word, Spirit, 
and providence, or the wrings and pinches of our own consciences. By 
his word : 1 Cor. xiv. 25, ' And thus are the secrets of his heart made 
manifest ; and so, falling down upon his face, will worship God, and 
report that God is in you of a truth.' And Heb. iv. 12, 13, ' For the 
word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 
sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of 
the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents 
of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his 
sight, for all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with 
whom we have to do.' So by his Spirit setting conscience a-work : 
Job xiii. 26, ' Thou makest me possess the sins of my youth.' Old 
forgotten sins come to remembrance. Own God and his omni- 
sciency in the dispensation when God sets our sins in order before us 
as if anew committed. So providence : Gen. xlii. 21, ' We are verily 
guilty concerning our brother/ &c. Affliction openeth the eyes ; it is 
his rack to extort confessions from us. 

[4.] Consider upon what good reason God's knowing all things is 
built ; his creation and providence. If he made all things, and sus- 
taineth all things, surely he knoweth all things in particular, for every 
wise man knoweth what he doth. A father cannot forget how many 
children he hath. He that leadeth us by the hand wherever we go, 
knoweth where and how we go. Christ knew when virtue passed from 
him in a crowd ; he said, ' Somebody toucheth me, for I perceive that 
virtue is passed out from me,' Luke viii. 45, 46. Certainly God 

VER. 171.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 245 

knoweth there is such a creature as thou art, such a man or woman of 
the world, knoweth thy uprising and down-lying : Ps. cxxxix. 2, ' Thou 
understandest my thoughts afar off.' He knoweth whether we are 
laughing, mourning, or praying. He that will judge thee knoweth 
thee, or else he were an incompetent judge. 

[5.] Humble thyself for walking so unanswerably. It would trouble 
us to have our thoughts, counsels, actions, all we think and speak, 
divulged and published. All is naked and open to God. If we did 
not think God's eye a fancy and fond conceit, we would at least walk 
more humbly. It would trouble us exceedingly if men had a window 
into our hearts in a time of prayer. Why not because God seeth ? 
How watchful are we not to incur the penalty of man's law, but offences 
against God are lightly passed over. With what copiousness and 
Sowings of language will men enlarge themselves in prayer when in 
company, and how slight and overly in closet duties, if not wholly 
neglective of them ; which is in effect to say, Our heavenly father 
seeth not in secret. 


My lips shall utter praise, wlien tlwu hast taught me thy statutes. 

VER. 171. 

IN the two former verses he had prayed (1.) For an increase of saving 
knowledge, ver. 169. (2.) For deliverance out of his troubles, ver. 
170. He reinforceth his request by a promise of thankfulness, if he 
could get a gracious answer to that, ' My lips shall utter praise,' &c. 
In the words we have 

1. A resolution of praise, my lips shall utter praise. 

2. The reason and occasion of it, wlien thou hast taught me thy 

First, A resolution of praise. 

The word for ' uttereth praise,' signifieth that praise should break 
from him as water boileth and bubbleth up out of a fountain. Indeed 
words cometh from the abundance of the heart, Mat. xii. 34 ; either 
from the plenty of spiritual knowledge, John iv. 38 as a fountain 
yieldeth water, so his knowledge breakcth out into praises or from the 
plenty of spiritual affection ; rather from the great esteem of the benefit, 
or fulness of joy at the thought of it. It is a great privilege to be 
delivered from blindness and ignorance : ' To you it is given to know 
the mysteries of the kingdom of God,' Mat. xiii. 11. Now they that 
have a spiritual gust and taste are so affected with it that they cannot 
be enough thankful for it ; and it is notable that this thankfulness is 
promised upon granting the first request. 

Doct Divine illumination is HO great a gift, that all who are made 
partakers of it are especially obliged to praise and thanksgiving. 

This will appear by these considerations : 

1. That upon the receipt of every mercy we should praise God. 
There is an equity in it, for this is God's pact and agreement with us : 


Ps. 1. 15, ' Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver thee, 
and thou shalt glorify me.' We are forward in supplications, but 
backward in gratulations ; all the lepers could beg health, but one 
returned to give glory to God, Luke xvii. 18. Self-love puts us upon 
prayers, but the love of God upon praises. Now we should be as 
much affected, or rather more, in the receiving mercies, as we were in 
asking mercies ; because before we knew it only by guess and imagi 
nation, but then by actual feeling and experience of the comfort of it. 
Therefore to seek, and not to praise, is to be loving to ourselves. 

2. Those that have received most from God are most bound to 
honour him and praise him, for the return must carry some propor 
tion with the receipt: 2 Chron. xxxii. 25, 'Hezekiah rendered not 
according to the benefit done unto him ;' not according to the kind, 
only good, and not vil for good, but according to the degree. Great 
mercies require great acknowledgments: she loved much to whom 
much was forgiven, and she 1 loved little to whom little, Luke vii. 47. 
More sins pardoned, more mercies received, God expecteth more love, 
more praise, more thanksgiving. And Luke xii. 48, ' For unto whom 
soever much is given, of him much shall be required ; and to whom 
men commit much, of him will they ask the more.' Christ pleadeth 
the equity from the practice of men. The more helps, the more work 
and service we expect. He should come sooner who rideth on horse 
back than he that cometh on foot ; so the more light and knowledge 
God vouchsafeth, the more honour and glory he expecteth from us. 

3. That we should praise God especially for spiritual benefits. 
Usually those are overlooked, but they deserve the greatest acknow 
ledgment ; these are discriminating, and come from special love. Corn, 
wine, and oil are bestowed upon the world, but knowledge and grace 
upon his saints ; these are the favour of his peculiar people : Ps. cvi. 
4, ' Kemember me, Lord, with the favour that thou bearest to thy 
people ; visit me with thy salvation/ To have the favourite's, mercy 
is more than to have a common mercy. Protection is the benefit of 
every subject, but intimate and near admission is the privilege of 
special favourites. Love and hatred cannot be known by the things 
before us, Eccles. ix. 1-3. Christ gave his Spirit to the good disciples, 
the keeping of the purse to Judas. 

[1.] Partly because these concern the better part, the inward man, 
2 Cor. iv. 16. He doth us more favour that healeth a wound in the 
body than he that seweth up a rent in the garment. Is not the body 
more than raiment, the soul more than the body ? and the soul as 
furnished with grace more than the soul only as furnished with natural 
gifts and endowments ? 

[2.] Partly because these are brought about with more ado than 
temporal favours. God, as a creator .and merciful upholder of all his 
creatures, doth bestow temporal blessings upon the ungodly world, 
even upon heathens, who never heard of Christ ; yet saving grace he 
bestoweth only as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Eph. 
i. 3, with respect to the merit of Christ, who was to purchase these 
blessings before he could obtain them. 

[3.] Partly because they are pledges of eternal blessings, and the 

1 Qu. ' he ' ? ED. 

VER. 171.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 247 

beginning of our eternal well-being, John vi. 27. These and eternal 
blessedness are so linked together than they cannot be separated : 
Kom. viii. 29, 30, 4 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate 
to be conformable to the image of his Son : that he might be the first- 
fruits among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, 
them he also called ; and whom he called, them he also justified ; and 
whom he justified, them he also glorified ;' and Phil. i. 6, ' Being 
confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work 
in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.' 

[4.] Partly because these incline and fit the heart for praise and 
thanksgiving ; the one giveth occasion to praise God, the other a heart 
to praise God. Outward mercies give the occasion to praise God, 
these the disposition ; other mercies the motives, these the prepara 
tions ; these dispose the heart to it : Ps. cxix. 7, ' I will praise thee 
with uprightness of heart, when I have learned thy righteous judg 
ments/ Here they dispose the lip and open the mouth : Ps. li. 15, 
' Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy 
praise.' The work of grace doth set our lips wide open in the magni 
fying and praising of God. Grace is the matter of God's praise, and 
also giveth a ready will to praise God, yea, the very deed of praising 

[5.] Partly because temporal favours may be given in anger, but 
the graces of the Spirit are never given in anger. God may give an 
estate in judgment, and indulge large pastures to beasts fitted for 
destruction ; but he giveth not an enlightened mind and a renewed 
heart in anger; it is a token of his special love : ' To you it is given 
to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God/ Mat. xiii. 11. Well, 
then, for all these things should we praise God. We have a quick 
sense in bodily mercies, but in soul concernments we are not alike 

4. That among spiritual blessings divine illumination is a very 
great gift, and accordingly should be acknowledged by us. To make 
this evident, I shall 

[1.] Open the nature of this divine illumination. 

[2.] Show you the worth of it, and how much it should be valued 
by us. 

[1.] For the nature of it. There is a twofold wisdom and know 
ledge of divine mysteries : 

(1.) One which is only a gift : 1 Cor. viii. 1, 4 We know that we all 
have knowledge: knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth/ This 
is an excellent gift, but yet it floweth from the common influence of 
the Spirit, and puffeth up the party, because it is apprehended only by 
such an excellency as conduceth to the interests of the flesh, and to 
attain esteem in the world ; and because he hath not thereby a deep 
and piercing knowledge of his misery, but is cold and weak, and doth 
not warm the heart with love to the thing known. Therefore we 
should see to it what kind of knowledge we have, whether it be a gift 
or a grace, whether we use it to exalt God or ourselves. The bare 
gift puffeth us up with a lofty conceit of ourselves and a disdain of 
others, but grace keepeth us humble ; for the more we know that way, 
the more we see our defects, and what little reason we have to glory 


in our knowledge, or any other grace; and besides, by it we are 
suitably affected to what we know. 

(2.) There is a special knowledge of divine mysteries wrought in 
us by the special and sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost ; this is 
' the wisdom which comethfrom above/ which ' is first pure, and then 
peaceable/ James iii. 17, which humbleth the man that hath it, for 
the more he knoweth of God, the more his own opinion and estima 
tion of himself is lessened : Job xlii. 5, 6, ' I have heard of thee by 
the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee ; therefore I abhor 
myself and repent in dust and ashes.' I have spoken unadvisedly of 
God. This knowledge also maketh him serious, and is operative upon 
the heart, and worketh love to the thing known : John iv. 10, ' If thou 
knewest the gift/ &c. ; and maketh us to know God in Christ, so as to 
acknowledge him, and give him due honour, respect, and reverence. 
It is a knowledge joined with oblectation and affection. This know 
ledge is considerable as to its beginning and increase. 

(1st.) Its beginning, the first removing of the natural blindness and 
darkness of our understandings, so that we have a clear discerning of 
the things of God when the scales fall from our eyes. Naturally we 
were ignorant of God and the way to heaven, but now, brought to the 
saving knowledge of God in Christ, we are acquainted with both. The 
first creature which God made was light ; so in the new creation, the 
new creature is illuminated with a heavenly light, and cured qf its 
former blindness, that we see things in another manner than ever we 
saw them before : 1 Peter ii. 9, ' Called out of darkness into his mar 
vellous light / as a man brought out of a dark dungeon into an open 
light. And Acts xxvi. 18, ' To open their eyes, and turn them from 
darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.' So Eph. v. 
8, ' Ye were sometimes darkness, but now light in the Lord.' To be 
seeing is better than to be blind, to be in light than to be in darkness. 
This is God's first work, and it is marvellous in our eyes ; it is double, 
when we first begin to have a clear knowledge of our own misery, 
Kev. iii. 18. Whereas before we lived in gross ignorance of our own 
condition ; so when we begin to see the remedy, as well as our misery ; 
2 Cor. iv. 6, ' God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, 
hath shined in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the 
glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.' The first thing that God 
convinceth us of is our own sin, guilt, and misery. So that those 
things that either we knew not, or did swim loose in the brain, we 
begin now to be affected with them. We talked before of sin as a 
thing of course, and were wont to marvel why men kept such a deal 
ado about sin ; but now the case is altered. God hath opened his eyes, 
and therefore he complaineth of it as the greatest burden, and fain 
would be rid of it at any rate. He beginneth to seek after Christ as 
his only remedy, and nothing will satisfy him but Christ; and all 
things are but dung and dross in comparison of the excellency of 
Christ, and that he may be found in him. He lamenteth his case, 
and can trust himself nowhere but in Christ's hands. A natural man 
slippeth into a heedless credulity, and either doth not look upon the 
gospel as a real truth, or else is not affected with it so as to venture 
his salvation in that bottom. 

VER. 171.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 249 

(2d.) As to the increase and progress, and so those that are taught 
of God need to be taught of God again, and to seek a further increase 
of spiritual wisdom, or a further degree of the saving knowledge of 
divine mysteries; as the apostle prayeth for the Epiiesiaris, towards 
whom he acknowledgeth God had abounded in all wisdom and 
prudence, yet prayeth that God would give them the spirit of wisdom 
and revelation, that the eyes of their understandings might be opened, 
Eph. i. 17, 18, with the 8th verse. We are yet ignorant in many 
things, for we know but in part, not fully rooted in the knowledge of 
these things which we know. They need to be refreshed with new 
illumination from God, that our knowledge may be active and lively, 
and stand out against new and daily temptations, and that oblivion 
and forgetfulness, which is a kind of ignorance, and is apt ever and 
anon to creep upon us, may be prevented, and truths may be ready at 
hand for our use, James i. 5. And this is that which David beggeth 
an increase of knowledge for ; he, being a holy man and a prophet, 
needed not the first illumination : and every degree is a great favour, 
to be acknowledged with praise. 

[2.] Let me speak of the worth of this divine illumination in itself. 
The worth of it appeareth in four things : 

(1.) Its author. God, by his efficacious teaching, doth cure the 
blindness of our minds, and doth open and incline our hearts towards 
spiritual and heavenly things : John vi. 45, ' They shall all be taught 
of God ;' 1 Thes. iv. 10, ' Ye yourselves are taught of God to love 
one another ;' 1 John ii. 27, ' The anointing teacheth you all things/ 
As the heathen Cato would have none to teach his son but himself, 
for he said that instruction was such a benefit, that he would not 
have his son beholden to any for it but himself. Oh ! it is a blessed 
privilege to be taught of God, to be made wise to salvation, and not 
only to get an ear to hear, but a heart to understand, and learn by 
hearing, not only the power to believe, but the very act of faith 
itself. God's teaching is always effectual, not only directive, but per 
suasive, enlightening the mind to know, and inclining the will and 
affections to embrace what we know. He writeth the truth upon the 
heart, and puts it into the mind, Heb'. viii. 10. He sufficiently pro- 
poundeth the object, and rectifieth the faculty, imprints the truth upon 
the very soul. But how doth God teach ? In the very place where 
Christ speaketh of our being taught of God, he presently addeth, John 
vi. 46, ' Not that any man hath seen the Father.' God's teaching doth 
not import that any man must see God, and immediately converse 
with him, and talk with God, and so be taught by him. No ; God 
teacheth externally by his word, and internally by the Spirit, but yet 
so powerfully and effectually that the lesson is learned and deeply 
imprinted upon our souls. This teaching is often expressed by see 
ing. Now, to a clear sight three things concur an object conspicuous, 
a perspicuous medium, and a well-disposed organ or clear eye. In 
God's teaching there is all these. The object, to be seen plainly in 
the scriptures, are the things of God, not fancies, but realities, and by 
the light of the Spirit represented to us, and the eye of the mind 
opened. A blind man cannot see at midday, nor the most clear 
sighted at midnight, when objects lie hidden under a veil of darkness. 


object must be revealed and brought nigh to us in a due light ; 
God secretly openeth the eye of the soul, that we see heavenly 

. - * *- r*\ . nm j 1 j T i 1 1 , -i 



things with life' and affection. The author then showeth the mercy, 

when God will not only teach us by men, but by his Spirit. 

(2.) The objects known, the highest and most important matters in 
the world, the gracious soul is savingly acquainted with. It is more 
to have the knowledge of the profoundest sciences then of some poor 
and low employment ; as Themistocles said, To know a little of true 
philosophy is more than to know how to play upon a fiddle. But now, 
to have the saving knowledge of God and of the life to come is more 
than to have the most admired wisdom of the flesh, than all the com 
mon learning in the world. And therefore how much are we bound to 
praise God if he will teach us his statutes ! More than if we knew how 
to govern kingdoms and commonwealths, and do the greatest business 
upon earth. Two things do commend the object of this knowledge : 
(1st.) It is conversant about the most high and excellent things. 
(2d.) The most necessary and useful things. 

(1st.) Things of so high a nature as to know God, who is the cause 
of all things ; and Jesus Christ, who is the restorer of all things ; and 
the Spirit, who cherisheth and preserveth all things ; especially to 
know his heavenly operations, and the nature and acting of his several 
graces : Jer. ix. 24, ' Let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he 
knoweth me, saith the Lord.' There is the excellency of a man to 
know God, to conceive aright of his nature, attributes, and works ; so 
as to love, trust, reverence, and serve him. Alas ! all other know 
ledge is a poor low thing to this. God hath written a book to us of 
himself, as Caesar wrote his own Commentaries, and by histories and 
prophecies hath set forth himself to us to be the creature's creator, 
preserver, deliverer, and glorifier. This is the knowledge we should 
seek after ; common crafts teach us how to get bread, but this book 
teacheth us how to get the kingdom of heaven, to get the bread of 
life, the meat that perisheth not. Law preserveth the estates and 
testaments of men, but this the testament of God, the charter of our 
eternal inheritance. Physic cureth the diseases of the body ; this, 
afflicted minds and distempered hearts. Natural philosophy raiseth 
up men to the contemplation of nature; this, of the maker of all 
things and author of nature. History, the rise and ruin of kingdoms, 
states, and cities ; this, the creation and consummation of the world. 
Ehetoric, to stir the affection ; this, to enkindle divine love. Poetry 
moveth natural delight ; here psalms, that we may delight in God. 
These are the only true and sublime things. As light is pleasant to 
the eye, so is knowledge to the mind. But where have you the know 
ledge of such high things ? What are the mysteries of nature to the 
mysteries of godliness ! To know the almighty living God, and to 
behold his wisdom, goodness, and power, in all his works, surely this 
is a sweet aad pleasant thing to a gracious soul ; but especially to 
know him in Christ, to know the mystery of the incarnation, person, 
natures, and mediation of Christ : 1 Tim. iii. 16, ' Great is the mystery 
of godliness.' This is a mystery without controversy great, to know, 
the law and covenant of God : Deut. iv. 6, * This is your wisdom and 
understanding in the sight of the nations who shall hear these statutes.' 

VEB. 171.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 251 

And the sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost, by which we are wrought 
and prepared for everlasting life. 

(2d.) So necessary and useful to know the way of salvation, the 
disease and remedy of our souls, our danger and the cure, our work 
and our wages, the business of life and our end, what is to be believed 
and practised, what we are to enjoy and do ; these are the things which 
concern us, all other knowledge is but curious and speculative, and 
hath more of pleasure than of profit. To know our own affairs, our 
greatest and most necessary affairs, these are the things we should 
busy ourselves about. f Ez/o? %/oeta, ' One thing is necessary,' Luke 
x. 42. Other things we may well spare. Now what is necessary but 
to know our misery that we may prevent it ; our remedy, that we may 
look after it in time ; our work and business, that we may perform it ; 
our end, that we intend it, and be encouraged by it ; what course we 
must take that we may be everlastingly happy ? Well, then, if God 
will show us what is good, Micah vi. 8, and teach us what is good, that 
we may know whither we are a-going, and which way we must go ; if 
he will give us counsel in our reins, to choose him for our portion, Ps. 
xvi. 5, we ought to bless his name. So the llth verse, ' Thou wilt 
show me the path of life.' Though ignorant of other things, we are 
highly obliged for this discovery. It is the work of God to give us 
counsel, and should be matter of perpetual thanksgiving to us. 

(3.) The use for which this knowledge serveth. 

(1st.) To entertain communion with God for the present, for by 
knowing him, we come to enjoy him : Ps. xvii. 15, ' As for me I will 
behold thy face in righteousness ; I shall be satisfied when 1 awake 
with thy likeness ; ' that is more than to have a portion in this world. 
And 1 John i. 3, ' That which we have seen and heard declare we 
unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us ; and truly our 
fellowship is with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ.' By com 
munion or fellowship is not meant a society of equals, but the dutiful 
yet cheerful attendance of an inferior on his superior, the creature on 
his creator ; but yet so as that there is a holy intimacy and familiarity 
in it, because we both love and are beloved of God. In every ordin 
ance they draw nearer to God than others do ; for 1 John i. 7, * If we 
walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with 
another.' All our duties are the converse of a sanctified creature 
with a holy God, and a humble creature dealing with the blessed 
God for a supply of all their wants. They pour out their souls to 
him, and he openeth his ear and bosom unto them ; he teacheth them 
his way, and they walk in his paths, Isa. ii. 3. They walk in the fear 
of his name and the comforts of his Spirit, Acts ix. 31. They seek 
his glory as their great end, and live in the sense of his dearest love. 

(2d.) To enjoy him for ever : ' This is life eternal, that they may 
know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent,' 
John xvii. 3. Alas ! what is the knowing how to get riches and plea 
sures, and the vain glory of the world to this ? Surely you that are 
taught of God, your business is above other men's. While they drive 
on no greater trade than providing for the flesh, or feathering a nest 
that will quickly be pulled down, they are providing for everlasting 
glory and happiness. They aim at nothing beyond this life ; all 


their cares are confined within the narrow bounds of time and the 
compass of this world ; but these look higher, and begin a life which 
shall be perfected in heaven ; they are laying up treasure in heaven. 

(4.) The manner of knowing things, when taught of God. They 
see things with greater clearness, certainty, efficacy, and power. 

(1st.) With greater clearness. Others know words, but they know 
tilings, and therefore know as they ought to know them. They know 
the grace of God in truth, Col. i. 6. They have the spiritual dis 
cerning, and that is a quite different thing from a literal discerning, 
1 Cor. ii. 14. He hath an experimental and sweeter knowledge than 
learned men that are ungodly. He hath tasted that the Lord is 
gracious, the sweetness of his love, and the riches of his grace in 
Christ. The theory of divine knowledge, though never so exact, 
giveth us not thie. They have more of the words and notions, but 
less of the thing itself, they have the sign, the other the thing signified; 
they break the shell, and the other eats the kernel ; they dress the 
meat, but the others feed upon and digest it ; dig in the mines of 
knowledge as negroes, but others have the gold. A rotten post may 
support a living tree. 

(2d.) With more certainty. There is a great deal of difference 
between taking up religion out of inspiration, and out of opinion or 
tradition. Faith is the gift of God, but credulity is received by the 
report of men. Men may guess at the truth by their own wit, they 
may talk of it by rote, and according to what they read and hear from 
others ; but divine knowledge is the fruit of the Spirit : Mat. xvi. 17, 
' Flesh and blood hath not revealed these things unto thee, but my 
Father which is in heaven ;' John iv. 42, ' Now we believe, not because 
of thy saying, but we have heard him ourselves, and know indeed that 
this is the Christ, the Saviour of the world ; ' and 1 Thes. i. 5, ' For 
our gospel came to you, not in word only, but in power arid the Holy 
Ghost, and in much assurance.' We never apprehend the truth with 
any certainty, nor can we discern God's impress on the word, but in the 
light of the Spirit. God's illumination maketh our knowledge of things 
certain and infallible : ' Know ao-^aXw?, assuredly/ Acts ii. 36 ; John 
xvii. 8, aXrjOa)?. It is not a may be, a bare possibility, or likely to 
be, a probability ; but it is sure to be, and will be so, a certainty that 
belongeth to faith. 

(3d.) For efficacy and power : 1 Thes. i. 5, ' For our gospel came 
to you not in word only, but in power and in the Holy Ghost ; ' 
4 Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost/ Acts vi. 5. 
We are affected with the truths we know, yea, transformed and 
changed by them, 2 Cor. iii. 18 ; changed into a divine nature, 1 
Peter i. 4. Our hearts are moulded and litted for God, and for every 
good work ; so that this is a benefit should be much acknowledged. 

Use 1. To inform us how the saints do and should esteem this 
benefit of divine illumination. In this psalrn they esteem it more 
than if God should bestow a great deal of wealth upon them. See 
Ps. cxix. 14, ' I "rejoice in the way of thy testimonies more than in 
all riches ; ' and ver. 72, * More than thousands of gold and silver/ 
Once more, they think themselves well paid if they get it by sharp 
afflictions, though by loss of health or wealth : ver. 71, ' It is good 

YEK. 171.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 253 

for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes/ The 
reason is, because they value it as a mercy, for which they can never 
enough be thankful : Phil. iii. 8, 'Yea, doubtless, and I count all things 
to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, 
for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but 
dung, that I may win Christ.' The people of God have no reason to 
envy others that live in the pomp of the world and the splendour of 
outward accommodations, if he give them the saving knowledge of 
himself : Prov. iii. 31, 32, ' Envy not the oppressor, and choose none 
of his ways ; for the froward is an abomination to the Lord, but his 
secret is with the righteous.' If God will teach us his statutes, though 
he keepeth us low, it is more to be one of God's disciples, to be owned 
by him in an ordinance, than to live a life of pomp and ease. 

Secondly, None are fit to praise God but those whom God hath 
taught : Ps. 1. 16, ' What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or 
that thou shouldest take my covenant into thy mouth ? ' The new 
song and the old heart do ill agree together ; but when God hath framed 
our hearts to obedience, then is praise comely in our mouths. 

Use 2. To direct us 

1. How to pray for spiritual grace if we would obtain it. The glory 
of God is the end of all grace vouchsafed to us ; with this end, we must 
pray to God for it. The end of our petitions and requests to God 
should be, that we may be enabled to praise God ; then we seek God 
for God, much more when we ask spiritual grace. To ask temporal 
benefits to consume upon our lusts is very bad, and the ready way to 
bespeak ourselves a denial : James iv. 3, ' Ye ask, and receive not, 
because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts.' 
Much more to ask spiritual gifts for our lusts' sake ; to beg God to 
open our mouths, to show forth our own praises rather than his ; or 
knowledge to advance ourselves : as it is a greater indignity to void 
our excrements in a cup of gold for a prince's own drinking, than in a 
common utensil. Besides, it showeth our value of the benefit to think 
of praise before we have obtained it : Eph. i. 6, ' To the praise of his 
glorious grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.' 

2. It must be used and improved to that end ; when we have 
obtained, we must not be proud of any spiritual gift, but lay our 
crown at God's feet : 1 Cor. iv. 7, ' Who made thee to differ ? and 
what hast thou that thou hast not received?' We pervert the end of 
the end when we are puffed up, and give shrewd suspicion that it is a 
common gift, not saving grace, when we are puffed up with it. 

Use 3. Exhortation to press you to glorify God and praise him, if he 
hath given you any knowledge of himself and of the way of salvation. 

1. This is God's end in bestowing his grace, that in word and deed 
we should be to the praise of his glorious grace : 1 Peter ii. 9, ' That 
ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of 
darkness into his marvellous light.' 

2. You were as indocile and unteachable as others, only God made 
the difference : Job ii. 12, * For vain man would be wise, though man 
be born like the wild ass's colt;' Jer. xxxi. 18, 'Like a bullock 
unaccustomed to the yoke;' and therefore the glory must entirely 
redound to him. You might have perished as a witless fool, and 
gone to hell as others do, but that God gave you counsel. 


3. It is the way to increase it : Col. ii. 7, ' Eooted and built up in 
him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding 
therein with thanksgiving.' Thanksgiving for what we have received 
is an effectual means to make us constant, grow and abound in every 
crace : ' Let the people praise thee, God, yea, let all the people praise 
thee,' Ps. Ixvii. 3. Look, as the vapours go up, so the showers come 
down. Experiences of former mercies thankfully acknowledged draweth 
down more mercy. 

4. Prayer necessarily inferreth praise : Phil. iv. 6, ' In everything 
by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be 
made known to God/ Blessing God for favours already received is 
necessary to be joined with prayer ; it is disingenuous to 1 be always 
craving, and never give thanks. Be thankful and depend for more ; 
not always porerupon wants, but take a survey of your mercies, and 
that will not only enlarge your hearts in thankfulness, but even 
invite God to bestow further mercies. 


My tongue shall speak of thy word : for all thy commandments are 
righteousness. VER. 172. 

THE man of God had spoken in the former verse how his lips should 
praise God; here is his second promise that he maketh, of holy 
conference with others. 
In the words we have : 

1. David's resolution, my tongue shall speak of thy word. 

2. The reason ; because it contained matter that deserved to be 
spoken of, for all thy commandments are righteousness. 

!!.] He speaketh of the whole word of God, all thy commandments. 
2.J In the abstract, are righteousness; altogether righteous and 

First, From the first branch, David's resolution, ' My tongue shall 
speak of thy word/ observe 

Doct. The subject of a believer's ordinary discourse should be the 
word, and those spiritual and heavenly matters contained therein. 

1. Not that they are always talking of these things ; there is a time 
for all things ; the business of our calling will sometimes take us up, 
and sometimes our recreations ; but yet there should be generally a 
difference between us and others. The people of God should be 
observantly different as to their words and discourse from other 
people : Cant. iv. 11, * Thy lips, my spouse, drop as the honeycomb/ 
The lips of Christ's spouse should flow with matter savoury and useful. 
So Prov. x. 20, 21, c The tongue of the just is as choice silver, but 
the heart of the wicked is little worth ; the lips of the righteous 
feed many, but fools die for want of wisdom ; ' where the speech of 
the righteous is compared to silver ; of the wicked, to dross ; for 
because their heart is little worth, their discourse will be accordingly : 
and then the good ( man is compared to one that keepeth open house, 
that feedeth all those that resort to him ; but fools do not only not 

VEK. 172.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 255 

feed others, but perish themselves by their own folly. So Prov. xv. 7, 
* The lips of the wise disperse knowledge, but the heart of the foolish 
doth not so.' Men usually discourse as their hearts are. A man of 
a frothy spirit will bring forth nothing but vain and frothy discourse, 
but a gracious man will utter holy and gracious things ; for the tap 
runneth according to the liquor with which the vessel is filled. One 
place more : Ps. xxxvii. 30, 31, ' The mouth of the righteous speaketh 
wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment ; the law of God is in 
his heart, none of his steps shall slide.' All men's discourses are 
vented according as their hearts are busied and affected. A man 
that hath the word of God rooted in his heart, and maketh it his 
work to suit his actions thereunto, will also suit his words thereunto, 
and will edify those that he speaketh unto. Thoughts, words, and 
actions are the genuine products and issue of the heart. Grace in 
the heart discovereth itself uniformly in all holy thoughts, holy words, 
and holy actions ; otherwise their conversation is not all of a piece. 
All these places show that a Christian's discourse will differ from other 
men's ; but, alas ! our conference is little different from ordinary men's. 

2. More particularly I shall show you that we are not left to run 
at random in our ordinary discourse, as if our tongues were our own, 
to speak what we please. This I shall show (1.) Negatively ; (2.) 

First, Negatively ; no profane, no idle discourse. 

1. No profane discourse : Eph. iv. 29, ' Let no corrupt communica 
tion proceed out of your mouth.' Christians are accountable for their 
words as well as actions. 

Quest But what is corrupt communication ? 

Ans. (1.) Obscene scurrilous discourse. When the heart is filled 
with such corrupt stuff, the mouth will be apt to vent it. So Col. iii. 
8, ' Put away filthy communication out of your mouth.' Sins of the 
tongue and outward man must be abstained from, as well as sins out 
of the heart. That alo-^poXojlav, that filthy speaking, rotten speech, 
is one of the great sins of the tongue. When we speak of those things 
which belong to uncleanness, this is quite unbeseeming the purity and 
cleanness of Christians ; the heart of man being as powder to the fire, 
easily taken with such temptations. 

(2.) Calumnious and censorious discourses, when we cannot meet 
together but we must be speaking of others, suggesting evil against 
them, blemishing their graces, or carping at their weaknesses, or 
aggravating their sins, or divulging their secret miscarriages beyond 
what Christianity requireth. This sin the scripture brandeth as 
mischievous to ourselves and others. Ourselves : James i. 26, ' If 
any man seemeth to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, this 
man's religion is in vain.' Censuring is a pleasing sin, very suitable 
with corrupt nature, but yet it is a bad sign. It is made to be the 
hypocrites' sin, who, being acquainted with the guile of their own 
spirits, are apt to suspect others, and deprave their best actions, and 
upon the ruin of other men's credit build their own reputation for 
religion. And it is mischievous to others, and against that justice 
and charity which we owe to them : Prov. xx. 22, ' The words of a tale 
bearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the 
belly.' They wound men's reputation unperceivably, and secretly strike 


them a blow that smarts not for the present, but destroyeth their 
service, at least to such as receive these privy defamations and whisper 
ings ; and it is more craftily carried when they wound while they 
pretend to kiss, and make their praise but a preface to their reproach, 
as an archer draweth back his hand that the arrow may fly with the 
more force. They say, He is this and that ; but, &c. 

(3.) Proud and arrogant speaking, when all our discourse is a self- 
boasting. The pride of the heart sometimes shooteth out by the eyes, 
and therefore we read of haughty eyes and a proud look ; but usually 
it is displayed in our speech, in a proud ostentation of our own worth 
and excellency : 1 Sam. ii. 3, ' Talk no more so exceeding proudly : 
let not arrogancy come out of your mouth.' When / cometh in at 
every sentence, 7repiavTo\oyia, wanteth not its vanity : Prov. xxv. 27, 
' For men to search 1 their own glory is not glory/ All their discourses 
is to set off themselves, and to usher in something of themselves ; and 
if religion be talked of, it is to commend their own knowledge, and 
their own notions, or their own endeavours for Christ, or to blemish 
others, that they may shine alone. 

(4.) When anger sets us a-discoursing ; therefore the apostle saith, 
Eph. iv. 31, * Let bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and evil-speaking 
be put away from you, with all malice/ Where there is bitterness, 
or a secret smothered displeasure, or alienation of affection, it soon 
breaketh out into rage ; which if an impetuous rage, or passionate 
commotion, that produceth anger; or a desire .of revenge. Anger 
produceth clamour, or boisterous words, loud menaces, and brawlings, 
or inordinate speeches, which are the black smoke whereby anger and 
wrath within doth first manifest itself ; then clamour produceth evil- 
speaking, which are disgraceful and contumelious speeches ; therewith 
the party incensed doth stain the reputation of him with whom he is 
angry ; and then malice is rooted anger and continued wrath. Now 
all these should be put away. Christians should have nothing to do 
with them. But that we have in hand is disgraceful and contumelious 
speaking, as it is the result of anger, wrath, and malice, either by open 
railing, or derision, and jeering at their sins and infirmities to shame 
them, or by imprecation and cursing, and wishing evil to them ; all 
which is contrary to that meekness and love which should prevail in 
the hearts of Christians. As Saul in his anger called Jonathan, 1 
8am. xx. 3, ' Thou son of the perverse and rebellious woman ; ' in his 
raging fit he blemisheth his own wife, of whom we hear elsewhere no 
Kiicli imputation. Thou art more likely to be a bastard than my own 
eon. Frantic words, all interpreters think them to be. 

This is a taste of that profane discourse which is forbidden to 
Christians. Now the reasons of it are these : 

(1.) 15ecau.se this allowed and habituated, argueth a rotten and un- 
renewcd heart : Mat. xii. 34, * Out of the abundance of the heart the 
mouth ppeaketh/ Words much discover the temper of the heart* 
there being a quick intercourse between the heart and the tongue. 

(2.) Because it is noisome and offensive to honest ears; it is not a 
speech that hath any grace or comeliness in it : Col. iv. 6, ' Let your 
ppeech be always with grace/ 

3. It is contagious and infectious to ordinary hearers ; especially to 

VER. 172.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 257 

children and weak ones : 1 Cor. xv. 33, ' Evil words corrupt good man 
ners/ We convey our taint. 

(4.) Sinful, vain, and frothy discourse doth make the heart more 
\ 7 ain, perverse, and wicked, while the corruption that is in it cloth 
.strengthen itself by getting vent. When the sparks fly abroad of the 
fire kindled in our bosoms, a man waxeth worse and worse ; his rever 
ence of God is lessened and weakened as he hath dared to give vent 
to his sin and folly, and is more emboldened to sin again : Mat. xv. 
19, 20, 'For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adul 
teries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies ; these are the 
things which defile the man.' Evil-speaking is one thing mentioned, 
and it layeth men open to Satan. Therefore, as the heart should be 
kept from framing such conceptions, so the tongue from uttering 
them ; for so they prove more dishonourable to God, hurtful to our 
selves, and offensive to others. 

(5.) I will venture at one reason more against profane discourse ; it 
grieveth the Spirit, Eph. v. 29, 30. Many by their obscene, putrid, 
and carnal discourse intend no further than to make themselves merry, 
jovial, and glad: Hosea vii. 3, ' They make the king glad with their 
wickedness, and the princes with their lies,' saith the prophet ; yet, 
alas ! it is but a poor sport, and will prove so in the end, for it draweth 
God to be against them ; the Holy Ghost is displeased and grieved 
with it, these things being against his light, motions, and directions, 
and so an offence to him, which a tender conscience is soon sensible of. 

2. Not idle discourse, which tendeth not to the glory of God and 
the edification of our neighbour. We should have an eye to the good 
of those with whom we speak, so as to edify them with our speech ; 
for Christ telleth us that we must give an account to God, not only for 
words, but even for idle words : Mat. xii. 36, ' I say unto you, that for 
every idle word that men speak, they shall give an account thereof in 
the judgment.' Men esteem little of their words, yet when they are 
put into God's balance they may weigh heavy ; not only wicked words, 
but even idle words, such as serve for no good purpose, or for no lawful 
end ; and in your account they will come in as so many sins, and sit 
heavy upon you ; if you have not received pardon before, it is a strict 
sentence. But what is this idle discourse? Such as wanteth the 
solidity and substance of truth ; such as tend to no use and benefit. 
Dejure God may condemn you for these, though de facto upon re 
pentance he pardoneth greater sins. Or possibly such are idle words 
as come from a vain idle frame of heart ; for he had spoken before in 
the 35th verse that a good man out of the good treasure of his heart 
bringeth forth good things, and an evil man evil things. Now such 
idle words are a note of the wickedness of the man, of the evil treasure 
that is in his heart; for these he is responsible at the day of judgment, 
as for a vain conversation and the unfruitful works of darkness. 
However, we must not open a gap to licentiousness; as when the 
apostle forbiddeth profane discourse, he enjoineth profitable discourse 
as the only remedy: Eph. iv. 29, 'Let no corrupt communication 
come out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, 
that it may minister grace to the hearers.' As much as may be, holy 
conference should be mixed with all our discourses and converses, other- 



wise they are accountable to God. ^ And it is very notable the apostle 
forbiddeth /jiwpoXoyla 97 evrpairekia, foolish jesting : Eph. v. 4, ' Nei 
ther filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which is not convenient, 
but rather giving of thanks.' As he condemneth filthiness, or words 
contrary to Christian gravity, decency, or modesty, so he condemneth 
foolish talking, which is impertinent, superfluous, and vain discourse. 
And then jesting ; not all honest mirth or use of wit, but an intem 
perate use ; when men give up themselves to a frothy vanity, that they 
cannot be serious; or to tart reflections upon the personal imper 
fections of others; or to impious jests, by wresting the scripture, to 
express the conceptions of a vain and wanton wit. In the general, 
there must be a great guard on all jesting, lest it degenerate ; and 
that we entertain one another with thanksgiving, and discourses of the 
love of God, and Bis manifold mercies to us ; for it is not an easy 
matter to keep within bounds of cheerful and allowed mirth. Hearts 
that are kept sensible of God's goodness are desirous to express it to 
others whenever occasion offereth, and vain and idle communication 
is nothing so pleasing to them. 

Secondly, Positively ; we are to edify one another, as David pro- 
fesseth here that his tongue should speak of God's word ; his confer 
ences and discourses should be filled up of no other matter. 

1 . Because our tongue is our glory : Ps. x. 9, ' My heart is glad, and 
my glory rejoiceth.' Compare Acts ii. 26, ' My heart rejoiceth, and 
my tongue was glad.' Now, why is our tongue our glory ? Not only 
as it was given us for the use of tasting meat and drink (so the tongues 
of the brute beasts serve them), but because thereby we must express 
the conceptions of our minds. So speech is the excellency of man 
above the beasts ; but Christianity giveth us a higher reason, because 
thereby we may express the conceptions of our minds to the glory of 
God, and the good of others : James iii. 9, ' Therewith we bless God, 
even the Father.' That is our glory, that we cannot only think of 
God, but speak of God, his word and works. 

2. Because conference and edifying discourse is one means of spiri 
tual growth and spiritual improvement to ourselves and others. (1.) 
To ourselves : Prov. xvi. 21, ' The wise in heart shall be called pru 
dent, and the sweetness of his lips increase th learning.' The more he 
venteth what he knoweth, the wiser himself groweth, and learneth by 
teaching others ; for the more he draweth forth his knowledge, the 
more it is impressed upon his own heart. It is a truth, he that 
watereth shall be watered, and our gifts, as the loaves, are increased 
in the breaking, or as the widow's giving oil to the prophet was 
enriched by it ; not only as we occasion others to draw forth their 
knowledge, but as our own is confirmed and strengthened by using it, as 
to him that hath shall be given, Mat. xxv. 29. As venting of sin and 
folly increaseth sin and folly, so doth venting spiritual knowledge still 
increase it. (2.) Others : it is a great benefit to them when we com 
municate our experiences to them : Luke xxii. 32, ( When thou art 
converted, strengthen thy brethren.' When he was converted by 
repentance, he should be more careful to convert and strengthen 
others, that they fall not in like manner, or help them to recover out 
of the mire of sin. And the apostle saith, 2 Cor. i. 4, ' That God 

. 172.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 259 

comfortetk us, that we may be able to comfort others in trouble, by 
the comfort wherewith we are comforted of God.' The Lord comforts 
one that another may be comforted ; as in the celestial bodies, what 
ever light and influence the moon and stars receive, they bestow it on 
these inferior bodies : they have their light from the sun, and they 
reflect it again on the creatures below. Or as the official part in the 
body ; as the heart and liver receive, and convey, and derive the blood 
and spirits to all the other parts, so a Christian, when he is strength 
ened in himself, ought to convey his comfort and strength to others. 
It is mighty edifying, when we have found the usefulness of the word, 
to speak of it to God's praise ; if we have gotten direction in doubtful 
cases, or benefit by it in the mastery of our lusts, and the promises 
have afforded any support and deliverance in our distresses, we are 
debtors of the comfort and experiences we have, and are stewards to 
dispense it to others. Many take a glory that they have cordials, 
strong waters, and medicines in their closets and repositories, that 
may be a relief to the bodies of others ; so should we delight to refresh 
their souls with what has done us good. The humiliation and broken- 
ness of heart which thou hast found may be powerful to persuade 
others of the bitterness of sin. David, when he had smarted for sin, 
saith, Ps. li. 13, 'I will teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners 
shall be converted unto thee.' He had found how bitter a thing it 
was to provoke God by sin, and he could tell them such stories of it 
as would make their hearts to wake, and cause them to hate it. The 
faith and knowledge which God hath given thee may direct and pre 
serve others ; thy temptations may conduce to the succouring of 
others who are tempted. 

3. It is a mighty comfortable duty, that hath much sweetness in it, 
to confer together of holy things : Born. i. 12, ' That I may be 
comforted by the mutual faith of you and me.' Holy discourse doth 
refresh more than vain and foolish jesting ; it is a far sweeter thing 
to talk of the word of God, and those spiritual and heavenly things 
which are contained therein, than to spend the time in vain and 
foolish jesting, or discoursing about mere worldly matters. Should 
anything be more delightful to a Christian than Christ and heaven, 
and the promises of the world to come, and the way that leadeth 
thither ? and should it be burdensome to talk of these things, which 
we profess to be our only hope and joy? Certainly our relish and 
appetite is mightily depraved if we think so, judge ourselves in a 
prison when we are in good company who remember God ; and when 
they invite you to remember him with them, will you frown upon 
the motion, because it is some check and interruption to your carnal 
vanity ? 

4. The well ordering of our words is a great point of Christianity, 
and argueth a good degree of grace : ' He thai bridleth his tongue is 
a perfect man,' James iii. 2. Death and life are in the power of the 
tongue, saith Solomon, Prov. xviii. 21 ; upon t]ie good or ill use of it 
a man's safety doth depend. Not only temporal safety, but eternal : 
Mat. xii. 37, ' By thy words slialt thou be justified, and by thy words 
shalt thou be condemned.' These evidences are brought into judg 
ment j therefore it concerneth us to see what our discourses are, as 


well as our actions. Solomon often describeth the righteous by his 
good tongue: Prov. x. 13, 'The mouth of the righteous bringeth 
forth wisdom;' and Prov. xii. 18, 'The tongue of the wise is 

Use 1. Reproof. It reproveth us for being so dumb and tongue- 
tied in holy things. We can speak liberally of any subject, only we 
are dumb in spiritual matters which concern our edification. We 
show so little grace in our conferences, because we have so little grace 
in our hearts. Alas ! many that profess religion, their talk is little 
different from other men's, as if they were ashamed to speak of God, 
or had nothing to say of him and for him. I do not always bind you 
to talk of religious things, but sometimes it bindeth. Now, when is 
it your tongues peak of the word in a serious and affectionate 
manner? Can you love God and never put in a word for him? 
Can you see or hear God dishonoured, and suffer your mouths to be 
sealed up with a sinful silence, that you should not have a word to 
speak in the cause of God ? 

Use 2. To exhort us to be frequent and serious in our discourses of 
God, and spiritual heavenly things. 

For means to help us. 

1. Divine illumination ; to teach others the way of God require th 
that we ourselves should be taught of God ; then it cometh the 
warmer and fresher when we speak not by hearsay only, but experi 
ence ; as heart answereth to heart, so the renewed heart in him that 
heareth to the renewed heart in him that speaketh, and we show 
others what God by his illuminating grace hath first showed us ; it 
savoureth of that Spirit that worketh in both. He will easily kindle 
others who is once on fire himself. The word passeth through others 
as water through an empty trunk, without feeling ; they may speak 
very good things, but they do but personate and act a part. But 
when we have been in the deep waters, and God hath bound up our 
wounds, we can more feelingly speak to others. 

2. A sight of the excellency of the word, and a value and esteem 
thereof. The reason in the text, ' For all thy commandments are 
righteousness.' We are apt to speak oftenest of those things which 
we most affect. Did not your souls grow out of relish with these 
holy, spiritual, and excellent things, your speeches about them would 
be more frequent, lively, serious, and savoury; for we cannot conceal 
our affections. Our coldness in speaking to others of these spiritual 
and heavenly things cometh from want of this persuasion, that ' all 
his commandments are righteousness ;' for they who are persuaded of 
the excellency of the word will be talking of the sweetness of its 
promises continually. 

3. A stock of spiritual knowledge : Mat. xii. 35, ' A good man out 
of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things.' Every 
man entertaineth his guests with such provisions as he hath. It is 
the word which enableth us to edify ourselves and others with holy 
conference. The more store, the more we have to bring forth upon 
all occasions: Col. iii. 16, ' Let the word of Christ dwell in you 
richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another.' A 
plentiful measure of gospel knowledge enableth us to direct and 

VER. 172.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 261 

instruct others ; there all wisdom is made plain, things revealed 
which cannot be found elsewhere ; that which may by long search be 
found elsewhere is made ready to our hands, and brought down to the 
meanest capacity. The heart is the fountain from whence the tongue 
doth run and flow ; and when the heart is well furnished, the tongue 
will be employed and exercised. 

4. Zeal for the glory of God, and love to others' souls. We should 
communicate to others what we have learned ourselves. David would 
not reserve his knowledge to himself : ' Teach me, and my tongue 
shall speak of thy word.' Fire turneth all about it into fire : mules 
and all creatures of a bastard race do not procreate. David's Maschil, 
Ps. xxxii. title, is to instruct others. True good is diffusive in 
itself ; our candle enlightened, should enlighten others. When Philip 
was called, he inviteth Nathanael to come to Christ, John i. 45 ; 
Andrew calleth Simon. True grace showeth itself in zeal to promote 
the kingdom of Christ and the good of our neighbours' souls ; and the 
new nature seeketh to multiply the kind, and such as are brought to 
Christ will be careful to invite others. 

5. Wisdom is necessary : Col. iv. 6, ' Let your speech be always 
with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer 
every man ;' that is, seasoned with the salt of holy and divine wisdom, 
that it may be savoury and acceptable to the hearers ; and both delight 
and edify. Without this holy skill and wisdom, how often is confer 
ence turned into jangling or mere babbling ! 

6. Watchfulness and heed, otherwise corruption will break out in 
pride, in a vain ostentation of parts, passion in some heat of words, 
worldliness and sensuality in diverting from holy conference to that 
which is carnal and worldly, discontent in some, unseemly expressions 
of God's dealings with us, indiscretion and folly in a multitude of 
impertinent talk : Ps. cxli. 3, ' Set a watch, Lord, before my mouth ; 
keep the door of my lips.' The tongue must be watched as well as 
the heart. All watching will be to little purpose unless God bridle 
and direct our tongue, that nothing break out to his dishonour. 
There must be a constant guard that nothing break from us that 
is unseemly. 

Secondly, We come to the reason, ' For all thy commandments are 

Doct. There is righteousness, nothing but righteousness, all right 
eousness to be found in the word of God. 

1. There is a perfect uprightness in all God's promises. They are 
sure principles of trust and dependence upon God: Ps. xviii. 30, 
' The word of the Lord is tried ; he is a buckler to all those that trust 
in him.' He is most just and faithful, and his promises without all 
deceit or possibility of failing, and will certainly protect all those that 
rely and depend upon him. 

2. As to his precepts, nothing is approved in them, or recommended 
to us, but what is holy, just, and good. There is no virtue which it 
cornmendeth not, no duty which it commandeth not, no vice which is 
not condemned therein, nor sin which is not forbidden. 

I shall prove the doctrine by three things : 

1. By the sufficient provision that is made for man's duty. In a moral 


consideration there are but three beings God, neighbours, and self. 
Paul's three adverbs are suited to these, Titus ii. 12, l soberly, right 
eously, godly.' 

[1.] For self-government, or living soberly in the present world, 
nothing conduceth to that more than God's precepts. The whole 
drift of his word is to check self-pleasing and sense-pleasing, and to 
condemn all excess of meat, drink, or apparel, lest our hearts be 
besotted and overcharged, and, by indulging sensuality, diverted from 
spiritual and heavenly things. 

[2.] For carriage to our neighbour. What religion provideth so 
amply as the word of God doth against all fraud and violence, requireth 
us in all things to do as we would be done by ? Yea, it not only 
enforceth justice, but charity, and to love our neighbour as ourselves, 
and to account his welfare our own, and rejoice in his good, and mourn 
for his evil, as for our own. 

[3.] For the third, godliness. God is nowhere represented and 
discovered so much as in his word ; nor a way of commerce between 
him and us anywhere else so clearly established ; nor what kind of 
worship we should give unto him, both for matter and manner. In 
short, the scripture is written to teach us how to love him, and enter 
tain communion with him, and to serve him in holiness and righteous 
ness all our days ; and maketh our daily converse with God in holiness 
our great work and business. 

2. It appeareth by the connaturality and suitableness which they 
have to the best and holiest : Ps. cxix. 140, ' Thy word is very pure, 
therefore thy servant loveth it.' It is written in our hearts as well as 
in God's book ; and there is something in the one akin to the other : 
Heb. viii. 10, ' I will write my law in their hearts and minds/ On the 
contrary, so far as a man is depraved, so far he hateth it, Eom. viii. 7 ; 
yea, the more he feareth it : John iii. 20, 21, * He that doeth evil, 
hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be 

3. The event showeth it ; for the more the word of God is preached, 
the more is righteousness spread in the world, and men grow wiser 
and better. Banish the word of God, or discourage the preachers of 
it, and there followeth nothing but confusion of manners and corrup 
tion in religion. The word, then, is the only means of reforming the 
world, and curing the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. 
Where either the word hath not been received, as among the pagans, 
or where it hath been restrained, as in Popery, scriptures locked up in 
an unknown tongue, or where neglected or sleepily urged, as in 
churches that have left their first love, there is a greater overflow of 
wickedness ; their ignorance hath caused a great part of them to dege 
nerate into a more sensual, sottish sort of people. 

Quest. But are not people very bad that have the scriptures ? Do 
not we ourselves complain of a flood of wickedness ? 
^ Ans. 1. Christianity must not be judged by the rabble of nominal, 
literal Christians, no more than we will judge of the cleanness of a 
street by the foulness of a sink or kennel, or of the sound grapes in 
a bunch by the rotten ones, or of the fidelity of subjects by the rebel 
lion of traitors, or the honesty and justice of a nation by a crew of 

VER. 173.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 263 

thieves and robbers, nor of the civility of a nation by the rusticity of 
ploughmen or carters. Those who are serious in their religion are the 
best men, and of the choicest and most excellent spirits in the world ; 
the scandals and wickedness of others do not impeach their rule. 

2. The strictly religious must not be judged by the re veilings of the 
carnal, who are their enemies ; ignorant and ungodly men will blast 
them : 1 Peter iv. 4, 5, ' Wherein they think it strange that you run not 
with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you ; who shall 
account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.' 

3. Neither is the state of religion to be judged by the complaints of 
friends, hating the least evil, ashamed of men's unthankfulness. 
Light maketh it odious ; as bad as we are, it is worse where the word 
is not preached in a lively manner. 

Use 1. Let us approve of those things which God hath bound us to 
believe and practise ; they being all suitable to the nature of God and 
man. The first ground of obedience is consent and approbation : ' I 
consent to the law that it is good/ Kom. vii. 16. So to the gospel : 
' It is a faithful saying, worthy of all acceptation,' 1 Tim. i. 15. 

2. Let us answer this word, let the fruit of the Spirit be in us all, 
righteousness, goodness, and truth. The stamp is answerable to the 
seal ; this is the genuine result of the doctrine we profess. 


Let thine hand help me : for I have chosen thy precepts. VER. 173. 

THE two first verses show the drift of this portion. He begs two 
benefits instruction and deliverance. His first request, for instruction, 
is enforced by a promise of praise, ver. 171, ' My lips shall utter praise, 
when thou hast taught me thy statutes.' In ver. 172, of conference or 
holy discourse, whereby others may be edified, { My mouth shall speak 
of thy word/ Now he comes to enforce the second request for deliver 
ance by an argument of his ready obedience, ' Let thine hand help me : 
for I have chosen thy precepts/ 
Observe here 

1. The petition, let thine hand help me. 

2. The argument or reason to enforce it, for I have chosen thy 

First, For the petition, ' Let thine hand help me/ Hand is put for 
power : Let thy power preserve me and defend me ; and help is 
sometimes put for assistance and sometimes for deliverance. God may 
be said to help us when he doth assist us and support us in troubles, or 
when he doth deliver us from troubles. This latter acceptation suits 
with this place, and it is equivalent with what he said before, ver. 170, 
' Let my supplication come before thee ; deliver me ; ' so, ' Let thine 
hand help me/ ' deliver me according to thy word/ A good man may 
be brought into great straits when his own hand cannot help and 
stead him, but then he may fly to God, and say, ' Lord, let thine hand 
help me/ His argument and motive which he urgeth is, that ' I 


have chosen thy precepts ; ' and from thence he infers his hope of 

The points will he two : 

Doct. 1. That this is the character and description of a good man, 
that he is good, and doth good out of choice. So David pleads it here, 
' I have chosen thy precepts/ 

Doct. 2. That a man which makes conscience of God's commands is 
encouraged to seek help from him in all his straits ; for he prays, ' I 
have chosen thy precepts,' therefore, ' Lord, let thine hand help me.' 

Doct. 1. It is the plain character of a good man to be good and do 
good out of choice. 

It was not out of rashness and ignorance and inconsiderate zeal that 
David with so much hazard betook himself to God's service, and was 
so exactly faithful with God ; but upon due choice, trial, and exami 
nation : ' I have chosen thy precepts.' 

The point may easily be proved out of scripture, Isa. Ivi. 4. God's 
people are described to be those that choose the things that please him, 
and take hold of his covenant. Taking hold of his covenant relates 
there to the privilege part of the covenant. As they seek their happi 
ness in the privileges of God's covenant, so as to the duty part, they 
choose the things which please him. After serious and mature delibera 
tion, and judgment rightly informed, and affection thereon grounded, 
they embrace the ways of God by a free election and choice. And so 
you shall see it is the charge against wicked men, this is the disproof 
of their confidence, Prov. i. 29, that they did not choose the fear of the 
Lord. Mark the expression, that is, prefer it before the baits of sin. 
So Deut. xxx. 19, * 1 have set before you life and death, blessing and 
cursing ; therefore choose life, that thou and thy seed may live.' We 
shall never have life unless we have it by choice. He sets both before 
them ; choose life, not as if it were indifferent in point of duty for to 
do the one or the other, but to set an edge upon their affections ; I 
have set both before you. God will have his service entered upon by 
choice : Josh. xxiv. 15, ' Now if it seem evil for you to serve the Lord, 
choose you this day whom you will serve, whether the gods whom your 
fathers served, on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the 
Amorites in whose land ye dwell ; but as for me,' &c. He leaves it 
not arbitrarily to the Israelites whether they should serve God or no, 
but this he saith that they might freely and without compulsion 
declare what they were minded to do, and that they might be the more 
firmly tied to serve the Lord, because they had voluntarily taken upon 
themselves to do it. ' Now choose you whom you will serve ; ' that is, 
compare that which is best with that which is worst, life and death, 
light and darkness, heaven and hell together ; and resolve accordingly; 
because no man in his right wits would make any doubt after such a 
representation which to choose. Joshua's speech is just such another 
speech as that of Elijah, 1 Kings xviii. 21, 'If God be God, serve 
him ; if Baal be God, follow him.' Not as if he made it any doubt, 
or would have them make it any doubt, or as if it were uncertain, but 
that they might choose more freely, and delight and persevere in their 
choice. These places show we never rightly enter into God's service 
until we enter upon it by choice. 

VER. 173.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 265 

Here I shall inquire 

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

2. Give some reasons why they must be chosen, else they can never 
be rightly kept, or why this is so necessary. 

First, What is choosing God's precepts ? It implies five things 
(1.) Deliberation ; (2.) Esteem or preference ; (3.) A voluntary in 
clination ; (4.) A firm and steadfast resolution, by which we are bound 
all our days ; (5.) A complacency and contentment in what we have 

1. Deliberation, or a due consideration of what is chosen, its nature, 
worth, and excellency ; for until we compare and weigh things, how 
can we make a choice, but take them hand-over-head ; and therefore 
there js a weighing the reasons on both sides. God's children are not 
ignorant what it is to flow in worldly wealth, pleasures, and earthly 
comforts, and to enjoy the favour of the world, and to sail here with a 
full stream ; and on the other side, they are not ignorant what it will 
cost them to be through with Christ, to be religious indeed. They do 
not run hand-over-head to resolve upon such a course. No ; they sit 
down, they count the charges, Luke xiv. 27. The business sticks with 
many in this first work ; we cannot bring them to any serious con 
sideration ; they will not weigh things, but act as their brutish lusts 
incline them. It is said, Isa. xlvi. 8, * Kemember this, and show your 
selves men ; bring it to mind, ye transgressors/ It is a disgrace to 
our reason, when we will not consider well of things, and bring them 
not back to our hearts, as the word signifies ; but we run on as chance 
offereth objects or occasions. Consider what this and that will tend to, 
weigh things in your souls. Even good itself, if we stumble upon it, it 
is but a lucky hit or a happy mistake ; therefore the apostle adviseth 
us to resolve upon trial: 1 Thes. v. 21, 'Prove all things, and hold 
fast that which is good.' Men will not hold fast that which is good 
unless they first prove and try. Indeed those things which usually 
oppose themselves against the spiritual life are such poor paltry incon 
siderable vanities, that they are not worthy to be brought into com 
petition, or into any serious debate with them ; for it is no hard 
question to resolve whether God or the flesh shall be pleased ? whether 
the transitory pleasures of sin should be preferred before eternal glory 
or the happiness of the saints ? But yet serious consideration will 
discover this to us, and shame us out of our perverse and preposterous 
choice ; whereas otherwise we should go on like men asleep, or like 
men out of their wits, choose poor base things, delight in inconsider 
able trifles, before the things whereof we are so deeply concerned ; 
therefore it requires deliberation in weighing. 

2. Choice notes esteem or preference ; for election and choice is a 
preferring of one thing before another. Though God and Christ be 
good, and grace and heaven be good, yet there are other things that 
come in competition with them, and when we set ourselves to seek after 
God and Christ, these competitors are suing for our hearts, and rival . 
Christ in the soul. And therefore this choice implies a renunciation 
of all other things, a trampling upon them, and a high esteem and 
value of Christ and his ways. The scripture speaks of selling all for 
the pearl of great price, Mat. xiii. 45. 46, of accounting tilings but dung 


and dross in comparison of Christ, Phil. iii. 8, 9. In choosing the 
ways of God many things will be offered to us that may hale us this 
way and that way, many pleasures and contentments of this life. Now 
we must trample upon them all, and renounce them as they are temp 
tations, that we may actually exalt, prefer, and esteem Christ and his 
grace. There are two things which assault our resolution for God 
the terrors of sense, and the allurements of the flesh or the. vanities of 
the world. Now a soul resolved to serve God, must actually and posi 
tively prefer obedience before both of these, before temptations on the 
right hand and on the left. 

[1.] For the terrors of sense, we must be resolved rather to suffer 
than to sin. In choosing the ways of God, the heart must come to a 
firm resolution rather to suffer the greatest inconvenience than to com 
mit the least sin. ^This was Moses' choice, Heb. xi. 25. When once it 
came to a case of sin, then he renounceth pleasures, treasures, honours. 
Whatever it costs us, we must resolve to be faithful with God, and to 
run the greatest hazard rather than to do the least thing that is con 
trary to his will. 

[2.] We must prefer obedience before all the allurements of the 
flesh and vanities of the world. David chose God's precepts, that is, 
valued them more than all other things. See ver. 14 of this psalm, 
' I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies more than in all riches/ 
He explains the choice here mentioned. If we have grace to serve 
God, and to keep the way of his testimonies, we count ourselves more 
happy than if we had all the world. It is not enough to approve God's 
'ways simply, but we must approve them comparatively ; not only as 
good in themselves, but as better than all other things ; and it should 
be more to us to be taught our duty, and to know how to serve God, 
than if we did enjoy the fulness of all earthly comforts. 

3. Choosing the ways of God implies a voluntary inclination, that we 
should of our own accord follow them ; for choice is free, and it is 
opposed to force and constraint, and a man is said to choose those 
things which he likes, which he loves, which his soul inclines to, when 
he is carried to them not by the compulsion of an external principle, 
but by his own propension and inclination. Look, as the wicked they 
are described to be those ' who leave the paths of uprightness to walk 
in the ways of darkness,' Prov. ii. 13, that is, have an inclination 
to one rather than another ; for what is expressed that the wicked 
leave the paths of uprightness, it is explained, John iii. 9, by ' loving 
darkness rather than the light. And so it is said of Mary, she hath 
chosen that good part ; of her own voluntary accord and free inclina 
tion she was moved to sit at Christ's feet, to attend upon the improve 
ment of her soul. The business of salvation is offered to our choice, 
it is left to our own free inclination, though God gives the inclination 
beforehand (as by and by). If you choose death, you willingly and 
freely forsake your own mercies. 

4. Choice implies a firm and immutable purpose, a resolved adhesion 
to those things we choose. The mind is not anxious and doubtful, 
and hanging between two contraries, when we choose, but fixed and 
determined : ' I have chosen thy precepts ; ' that is, firmly resolved to 
observe them. We never choose till we come to a full purpose, Acts xi. 

YER. 173.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 267 

33. He exhorteth them with full purpose of heart to cleave to the 
Lord. A wavering inclination infers no choice. There may be good 
thoughts and meanings in the soul, but till we are resolved for God 
we do not choose his precepts. Many are convinced of a better way, 
but their hearts are not engaged to walk in it. We are fixedly 
determined by our choice : Jer. xxx. 21, ' Who is this that engaged 
his heart to approach unto me ? saith the Lord.' He hath sincerely 
obliged and bound himself to live in a close way of communion with 
God. The soul begins to pause and consider the vanity of earthly 
things ; there is the first. Yea, and after this, they are brought on 
that they say, Certainly it is much better to be a servant of the Lord 
than to be a servant of sin ; and they see that the greatest inconven 
ience is a more" tolerable thing than sin, and all the pleasures and 
profits of the world will not countervail our duty to God. There is 
an inclination to the way of God. Ay ! but this inclination, while it 
is wavering, it may be taken off, till it come to a resolution. Here I 
will stick ; I will seek my happiness and comfort in seeking God : 
' It is good for me to draw nigh unto God/ Ps. Ixxiii. 28 ; and there 
fore I am resolved to seek my happiness and contentment, whatever 
I do. 

5. Choice implies a contentment and complacency in that which we 
have chosen ; and the act of the will is quickened by a suitable 
affection that accompanieth it. Mark, election is properly an act of 
the will. Ay ! but the affections they are but the vigorous motions of 
the will. Where there is a remiss will, that is without affection ; but 
where there is a strong bent in the will, that is always accompanied 
with some suitable affection. As if I have a strong bent and nilling 
of sin, there is an affection of hatred accompanying it ; if I have but a 
remiss will for holiness, that will never save me ; that is made to be 
one of the seven deadly sins which the schoolmen call listlessness ; but 
where there is a serious will, such a willing as a choosing, certainly there 
is an affection that accompanieth it. Look, as David, when he had 
chosen God for his portion, presently he professed his complacency and 
delight in his choice : Ps. xvi. 6, ' The lines are fallen unto me in 
pleasant places ; yea, I have a goodly heritage.' Where there is a 
choosing God for our portion and all-sufficient happiness, there is 
presently a delight and satisfaction which results from this choice, and 
the soul is affected with its own felicity in God, and finds a joy and 
pleasure in choosing him. So it is in choosing the precepts of God : 
' I have chosen thy precepts.' See the next verse, ' Thy law is my 
delight/ Where there is choice there is delight. A man loves what 
he chooseth, and is ready and forward to do it ; and it is a pleasing 
thing to serve the Lord, for election in such a weighty case is accom 
panied with love. It is not an act of a remiss, but strong will ; and 
where there is love, nothing will be grievous, 1 John v. 3. 

Secondly, To give reasons why we must thus choose the precepts of 
God. I shall reason (1.) From the necessity ; (2.) From the con- 
gruity and convenience ; (3.) From the utility and profit of it. 

1. The necessity of it. It must needs be so that God's ways must be 
taken up upon choice, because there are several competitors that bid 
for the heart of man ; where there is but one thing, there is no choice. 


There is the devil, by the world, through the flesh, seeks to get in, rind 
reign in your hearts ; and there is God, Christ, and the Spirit. Now 
there must be a casting out of one, and putting in the other. Look, 
as in Prov. ix., the whole chapter; there wisdom and the foolish 
woman are brought in pleading to draw in the heart of unwary man 
to themselves. Wisdom is pleading, and the foolish woman is 
pleading. In the beginning of the chapter, wisdom tells what comfort, 
what peace they shall have, if they will take her institutions ; wisdom 
offers solid benefits, but folly offers stolen waters and bread eaten in 
secret, some carnal mirth when conscience is asleep. Ay ! and the 
dead are there too. The intoxicating pleasures of this world bring 
death along with them, when they can choke the sentiments of God 
that are in his heart. ' Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither,' saith 
wisdom ; and ' who is simple, let him turn in hither,' saith folly. As 
the poets feign of their Hercules, that virtue and vice appeared to him, 
and the one showed him a rough, the other a pleasant way. Certainly as 
soon as we come to years of discretion, we come to make our choice, 
either to go on in the ways of death, or to choose the ways of God ; 
either to give up ourselves to the pleasures of sin, or else to seek after 
the comforts of the Spirit. Now, since there are two competitors for the 
heart of man, and his love cannot lie idle, it must be given to one 
or another ; love and oblectation cannot remain idle in the soul, either 
it must leak out to the world, or run out to God. There is a neces 
sity of a choice, of renouncing the bewitching vanities of the world, that 
we may seriously betake ourselves to the service of God. 

2. Consider the corigruity and conveniency of it, both to the honour 
of God and nature of man, that no man should ever be happy or 
miserable but by his own choice. 

[1.] It is not for the honour of God that a man should be happy or 
have such great privileges settled upon him without his own choice ; 
such great benefits as justification, sanctification, and eternal glory. 
On the other side, that a man should be miserable without his know 
ledge, or against his will, or besides his purpose and consent, that God 
should give eternal life whether men will or no. It is not agreeable to 
the honour of God to inflict eternal death upon them without their 
consent, unless they choose the ways of death ; man's heart else would 
have a plea against God. Certainly the wise God will never make any 
happy without their own consent, and never make any miserable but 
their destruction is of themselves, Hosea xiii. 9. 

[2.] Neither will it agree with the nature of man, who is a reason 
able rational creature, or any agent capable of election or choice. 
The brutes are ruled with a rod of iron. God guides air things by his 
providence ; inanimate creatures by mere providence, brutes by their 
own instinct, and man as a free agent, capable of knowing and prose 
cuting his chief end. Now every creature of God is governed accord 
ing to the nature which is put into it ; and therefore, since man is a 
free agent, God expects, in submitting to his service, the creature's 
consent and choice ; and before we can submit to his service, before he 
will admit us to the benefits, there must be a choice, and an actual will 
on our parts : Kev. xxii. 17, ' Whosoever will, let him take the water of 
life freely.' The business is brought home to us, and left with our 

VER. 173.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 269 

will. If we miss of happiness, it is because we would not choose it, 
and the way that leads to it. The Lord cliargeth it still upon man's 
will, John v. 40 ; Luke xix. 14 ; Mat. xxiii. 37 ; Ps. Ixxxi. 11. Our 
misery is from our own wilfulness ; but in all that are brought into 
grace, there is a will it is true, but God prevents them and inclines 
their will : Ps. ex. 3, ' Thy people shall be willing in the day of grace 
and power.' You have a grant, and an offer of mercy from God, and 
then he inclines and moves you to make a right choice. So that of 
the good and bad it may be said they have their choice. If you 
neglect and refuse holiness, you choose your own destruction, and 
neglect life. Your hearts must tell you this : Thou wast the fault of 
it ; as Plutarch brings in one Apollodorus, that dreamed one night 
that he was boiling in a kettle of scalding lead, and that his heart 
cried out to him, I have been the cause of all this. This heathen 
improves it to show there is a vengeance that attends sinners. 
I mention it only allusively. Now it was your own perverse choice 
and will that made your hell ; thou hast but the fruit of thine own 
choice. Indeed, as to what is good, if you have chosen the precepts of 
God, there God must have the glory. You must say, Not I, but 
Christ ; as the apostle. Ay ! but there you come in ; there is an act 
of your will, but as disposed and rightly inclined by God. You come 
both to the duties and privileges of religion by a choice also, though 
not of yourselves, but of God. 

3. Let me reason from the utility and benefit. A man that takes 
up the ways of God upon choice 

[1.] He is able to justify the ways. of God, for he seeth a reason for 
what he chooseth. When temptations come strong, there will be 
many misgiving thoughts. Ay ! but then wisdom should be justified 
of all her children, Mat. xi. 19. A blind accidental love is the fruit 
of chance, but a love that is grounded upon knowledge and judgment, 
that is choice. This is so grounded, therefore he seeth reason for what 
he doth : Phil. i. 9, 10, *' I pray God that your love may abound in all 
wisdom and understanding, that ye may approve things that are 
excellent.' They see a reason, for they took it upon choice. The 
Lord hath showed them the worth and excellency of his ways, there 
fore they can better justify God against all their prejudices. 

[2.] Such will be more firm and steadfast. The cause of all halting 
in religion is the want of a choice, of a purpose resolutely set. A 
wavering double-minded man, that is half off and half on, will be 
unstable in all his ways, James i. 8, Sn^i/^o? a/caraa-raro?, a two- 
soul man, a man that seems to have a soul for God and a soul for 
earthly things, and the heart hangs sometimes for one, and some 
times for another. A scoff or scorn, or a little inconvenience, a little 
fear, a little enticement or stirring of the rebelling flesh within, will 
make him. turn out of the way ; and how can such a one hold out 
with God, when his way to heaven is a continual warfare ? But on 
the other side, a man that is a Christian, and a servant of God by 
choice, his course is likely according to his choice, because he is fixed 
upon evidence, he knows he is upon sure ground ; and depending upon 
God, he will not miscarry. And therefore Joshua, when he would 
engage the Israelites to continue faithful with God, he draws them on 


to a choice, and tlien saith, Josh. xxiv. 22, ' Ye are witnesses against 
yourselves, that ye have chosen the Lord to serve him, and they said, 
We are witnesses.' It much strengthens the bond when a man binds 
himself freely and willingly, and he makes himself the more culpable 
and the more inexcusable if he do not observe it. 

[3.] They will carry on the work of their heavenly calling with the 
more ease and delight, because a choice is nothing else but the incli 
nation of the soul guided by reason, strengthened by a purpose, and 
quickened and actuated by our love. This reason justifies our choice. 
Purpose binds it, makes it firm ; but now here comes love, which 
makes it easy and sweet to do what we have resolved upon. A reso 
lute traveller will go through his journey, and overcome the tedious- 
ness of it ; his mind is set to finish it, let him have what way or 
weather he will. *8o a Christian will overcome his difficulties when 
his heart is inclined to this course ; it is his own choice, and he will 
hold to it. It is a hard heart that makes the work hard, but when the 
will is engaged, a firm resolution of the will is the life of our affections, 
and to affection ail is easy. 

Use 1. To show that they act upon a wrong principle who are not 
good, and yet do good out of chance. To this end I shall show you 
(1.) That a man may do good by chance, and not be good. (2.) A 
man may do good by force, and yet not be good. (3.) That some do 
good out of craft and design ; but to do good out of choice doth only 
discover the truth and sincerity of religion. 

1. Some do good by chance. As 

[1.] The man that taketh up religion by example barely, and tradi 
tion ; not out of any sound conviction of the truth and worth of it. 
Thus many are Christians by the chance of their birth in those 
countries where the name of Christ is professed and had in honour ; 
and the main reason into which their religion is resolved is not any 
excellence in itself, but the custom and tradition of their forefathers : 
John iv. 20, ' Our fathers worshipped in this mountain ;' and 1 Peter 
i. 18, ' Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with .cor 
ruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation 
received by tradition from your fathers.' It was hard to reclaim 
them from their inveterate customs ; this is the religion in which they 
have been born and bred. It is true that tradition from father to son 
is a duty, and a means to bring us to the knowledge of the truth, and 
that Christianity is such an institution as doth so clearly evidence 
itself to be of God, and speaketh to us of such necessary and weighty 
matters, that it cannot but a little rouse and affect the mind of him 
that receiveth it, however he receiveth it. But most men do but 
blindly and pertinaciously adhere to- it as that religion wherein they 
have been born and bred, without any distinct knowledge of the worth 
of it ; so that if there be any goodness in their Christianity (as their 
profession is good in itself), they are but good by chance ; for upon the 
same reasons they are Christians, if they had been born elsewhere, they 
would have been Mahometans or idolaters. 

[2.] Not only these, but also those who stumble upon the profession 
of religion they know not how, and those who in a pang and sudden 
motion are all for God and for heavenly things, but this vanisheth into 

VER. 1*73.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 271 

nothing ; as fire in straw, which is soon kindled and soon out. This 
is a free-will pang, not a choice ; the heart is not hahitually inclined 
and devoted unto God : John vi. 34, ' Oh ! that I might die the death 
of the righteous,' Num. xxiii. 10. Such kind of wishing of holiness, as 
a necessary means, there may be, as well as happiness. These are acci 
dentally stirred up in us. 

2. Some men do good by force. These also are of two sorts such 
as are forced by the fear of men, or of God. 

[1.] Forced by the fear of men, because they dare not be bad with 
credit and security ; as fear of parents, tutors, and governors : 2 Chron. 
xxiv. 2, ' Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all 
the d#ys of Jehoiada the priest.' He did that which was right as to 
external acts, but after Jehoiada's death he revolted from the Lord, 
2 Chron. xxiv. 17, 18. So fear of magistrates, as Josiah compelled 
them to stand to the covenant : therefore, Jer. iii. 10, ' Yet for all this 
her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole 
heart, but feignedly/ Fear of the times when set for religion : Esther 
viii. 12, ' Many of the people of the land became Jews, for the fear of 
the Jews fell upon them/ 

[2.] Forced by the fear of God. A little unwilling service may be 
extorted from them by the force of a convinced conscience. There is 
a slavish kind of religiousness, arising from a fear of punishment, 
without any love and delight in God. Men may be against God and 
his ways, when fear only driveth them to them. They do something 
good, but had rather leave it undone ; they avoid some sins, but had 
rather practise them. By the spirit of bondage they are brought to 
tender some unwilling service to Christ; and their only motives are 
fear of wrath, and hell, and a sight of the curse due to sin. The false 
ness of this principle appeareth 

(1.) Because it is most stirring in a time of eminent judgments, 
when they are sick and like to die: Isa. xxvi. 9, ' When thy judg 
ments are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn 
righteousness ;' Jer. ii. 26, ' In their affliction they will cry, Arise, and 
save us/ Metal in the furnace is very soft, but take it out and it 
returneth to its old hardness. See Ps. Ixxviii. 34-37. The sense of 
present devouring wrath, and the terrors of an angry God, may drive 
men to some temporary acts of devotion. These proceed only from the 
natural fear of death and love of self-preservation. This may put a 
stand for a while to their former ways of provocation, and incline them 
to seek God with some diligence in the outward forms of religion ; but 
it produceth no steadfastness in the covenant. As if there had been 
some weak effect upon them ; as if it brought them for awhile to some 
temper of piety ; but it was not hearty and durable, but only formal 
and temporary. 

(2.) Because they take all occasions to enlarge themselves out of the 
stocks of conscience, and as soon as their fear is worn off, away go all 
their religious pangs, and thoughts of the other world, and care about 
it. How often is this verified by daily experience ! Many that were 
frightened into a course of religion went on from duty to duty out of 
a fear of being damned, but their hearts were another way ; but after 
wards they cast off all, when they have sinned away these fears ; as 


Herod feared John, and afterwards put him to death, Mark vi. 19, 20. 
Yea, all the while they did good they had rather do otherwise if they 
durst, and therefore did but watch the occasion to fly out. 

(3.) Because men of this frame dispute away duties rather than 
practise them, and are quarrelling at those things which the new nature 
would sufficiently incline them unto, if they had it. In the New Tes 
tament, God much trusts love ; and the number and length of duties 
is not stated so exactly, because where the love of God prevaileth in 
the heart, men will take all occasions of glorifying God and edifying 
themselves. But when men quarrel, How do you prove it to be my 
duty to do so much and to give so much ? When the duty itself is 
instituted, love will make God a reasonable allowance, and not stand 
questioning, How do you prove it to be my duty to pray so often in my 
family, or in secret, or hear so many sermons, which our constant 
necessities do loudly call for ? Men that have a love to a thing will 
take all occasions to enjoy it, or be conversant about it ; and a willing 
heart is liberal and open to God, and is rather disputing the restraint 
than the command : How do you prove it is not my duty ? and is loath 
to be kept back from its delight. 

3. Some do good out of craft and design, there is some by-end in 
the cause ; as Jehu was not so much zealous for God as his own 
interests, 2 Kings x. 16; and our Lord telleth us of some that make 
long prayers to devour widows' houses, Mat. xxiii. 14 ; made piety a 
colour arid pretext to oppression, and, that they might be trusted, took 
a, show of great devotion ; and of this strain were those that followed 
Christ for the loaves, John vi. 20, to be fed with a miracle and to live 
a life of sloth and ease. God never set any good thing afoot but some 
temporal interest grew upon it, with which men were swayed more 
than with what belongeth to God. 

Use 2. To persuade you to choose God's precepts : * I have chosen 
thy precepts,' said the man of God. To this end I shall give you both 
motives and directions ; motives why you should choose them, and 
then directions in what manner things are to be attended upon in 
your choice. 

First, For the motives. 

1. Choose them because they are God's, to whom you are indebted 
for life, being, and all things. Shall we not obey him that made us, 
and in whom still we live, move, and have our being ? We are debtors 
to him for all that we have, and truly we cannot have a better master. 
He was angry with his people, that when the beasts would own their 
benefactors, that his people would not own him from whom they had 
all things, Isa. i. 3. The brute beasts, the dullest of them, the ox 
and the ass, are willing to serve those that feed them, and pay a kind 
of gratitude ; and shall not we own God ? Every day your health, 
strength, and comforts come out of his hands, so every night's rest and 
ease ; and after this can you sin against God that keeps you by night 
and by day ? 

2. These precepts are all holy, just, and good. What is it the Lord 
requires of you, but to love him, and serve him, and fear him, and 
forbear those things which hurt the soul ? Thus he speaks to Israel, 
Dent, x, 12. Surely these commands are not unreasonable nor grievous* 

VER. 173.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxrx. 273 

You dare not say sin is better, that it is more profitable to please the 
flesh, and to wallow in and seek after worldly things. Why then do 
you not choose God's precepts before the work which Satan puts you 
upon? for these precepts commend themselves by their own evidence. 

3. In keeping them there is a great deal of benefit. 

[1.] For the present, there is a deal of comfort and peace to be found 
in the ways of God. If there were no reward of heaven, yet there is 
such comfort and peace that attends holy living, even as heat from the 
fire, that certainly this should draw our choice : * All her ways are 
ways of pleasantness/ Prov. iii. 17. And again, the prophet tells you, 
' The fruit of righteousness is peace.' A man that doth evil hath a 
sting in his conscience and a wound in his own soul. But every good 
action is followed with a serenity of mind, and an approbation from the 
heart of him that doeth it. Nay, you shall not only have peace, but 
joy in the Holy Ghost ; for if you walk in the fear of God, you walk 
in the comforts of his Spirit, Acts ix. 31 ; and the kingdom of God 
stands in righteousness and peace. Ay ! and a distinct privilege, 
joy in the Holy Ghost, Eom. xiv. 17. What is the difference between 
peace and joy in the Holy Ghost ? Peace is a tranquillity of mind re 
sulting from the rectitude of our actions, but this joy is an impression 
of the comforting Spirit. This joy hath God for its author, he puts 
it into our hearts; therefore it will more affect us than the bare act of 
our natural faculties. Peace is an acquittance from conscience, but 
joy in the Holy Ghost is an acquittance from God, who is our supreme 
judge, and is the beginning of that endless joy which he hath prepared 
for them that love him in heaven. 

[2.] For the future and final reward, that is great and glorious 
indeed. Surely the glory of the everlasting kingdom should invite us 
to choose God's precepts, whatever it may cost us to keep them ; for in 
choosing holiness you choose life, and in choosing the ways of God you 
choose the heavenly inheritance, which is the certain end and issue of 
them. So Prov. viii. 35, 36, ' Whose findeth me, findeth life, and ob- 
taineth favour of the Lord ; but he that sinneth against me, wrongeth 
his own soul. All they that hate me, love death.' Christians, when 
you are about choosing, these are the terms propounded to ypu, and 
they should be seriously weighed by us evil and death, good and life. 
Will you choose sin and death, or holiness and life ? Is the pleasures 
of the flesh for a few hours better than the endless joy of the saints? 
If you believe heaven and hell, as you profess to do, why should you 
stand demurring ? Are you content to be thrust out from the presence 
of the Lord, with the devil and his angels, into unquenchable flames, 
for a little contentment here in the world, for a little ease and delight 
here given to your carnal nature ? Is an earthly life, that you cannot 
long hold, more valuable than an eternal heaven you shall enjoy forever? 
No ; let us go to heaven, though we get thither with many pains and 
sufferings. If you forsake all, not only in vow and purpose, but 
actually and in deed, yet still you have something better ; you shall be 
no loser in the end ; you shall so choose the blessed God, and live with 
him for evermore, and be filled with his love as full as you can hold, 
and be employed in his service ; and all this in an eternal perfection 
and glorified estate. 




4. Motive. Choose, for you will never have cause to repent of your 
choice. The Lord stands upon his justification, is very tender of giving 
his people any cause to repent of his service : Micah vi. 3, ' my people ! 
what have I done unto thee, and wherein have I wearied thee ? testify 
against me/ Pray what hurt hath holiness done you ? Who was 
ever the better for sinning, or who was the worse for holiness ? There 
was none that ever made a carnal choice but first or last they had cause 
to repent of it. Either they repent of it in a kindly manner, while they 
may mend the matter, or else they shall repent for ever in misery. But 
who ever repented of his repentance, or cursed the day of his new birth? 
To whom ever was it any grief of heart that they were acquainted with 
God and Christ, or the way that leadeth unto life ? Who dieth the 
sweeter death ? or who repents of their choice then, the serious or the 
carnal? Oh! they that have chosen the world, they cry out how 
the world hath deceived them ; but never any repented of choosing 
God and the ways of God. Let these things persuade you to choose 
his precepts. 

Secondly, For directions. 

1. In choosing, the object is to be regarded. God's precepts in 
definitely, all of them, not one excepted, the smallest as well as the 
greatest, the troublesome as well as the easy, the most neglected 
as well as the most observed. We must choose all God's precepts, not 
abate anything, but especially the main or the essential precepts of 
Christianity, or the fundamental points of the covenant. Now the ques 
tion is, what is the fundamental point of the covenant ? Truly that is 
known by the form of baptism. Baptism is the solemn seal of entering 
into covenant with God ; it is the seal of our initiation or first entrance 
into covenant with God, Mat. xxviii. 19. Now what is to be baptized 
in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost ? When you first 
choose the ways of God, here you must begin ; you must close with 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, heartily take them to be your God ; 
that is, you must close with God the Father, as your all-sufficient 
portion, or chief est happiness, to be loved above all ; and also as your 
highest Lord, that he may be served, pleased, and obeyed above all. 
Well, and in the name of the Son, that is, Jesus Christ, he must be 
taken as your saviour and redeemer, to bring you to God, and to re 
concile you to him. And to be baptized in the name of the Holy 
Ghost is this, to take him as your sanctifier, guide, and comforter, to 
make you a holy people to God, to cleanse your hearts from sin, to 
write all God's laws upon your hearts, and put them into your minds, 
and to guide you by the word and ordinances to everlasting life. This 
is the main thing that is first to be minded, because it contains all, 
and doth necessarily infer the rest ; for otherwise, to be resolute in 
some by-point of religion, though it be right, this is but the obstinacy 
of a faction, not the constancy of a Christian zeal. 

2. As you must look to the object of this choice, so to the causes of 
it ; and what are they ? An enlightened mind, a renewed heart, a love 
to God, and then the Spirit of God enlightening and inclining our hearts. 

[1.] An enlightened mind is a cause of choosing the ways of God, 
when the Lord hath taught us his precepts. An enlightened mind 
discovers a beauty and amiableness in the ways of God : Ps. cxix. 128, 

YER. 173.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 275 

1 1 esteem all thy precepts to be right, and they are the rejoicing of 
my soul.' 

[2.] A renewed heart, wherein all the precepts of God are written 
over again. They were written upon our hearts in innocency, but 
that is a blurred manuscript, therefore in regeneration they are written 
over again. God writes his law in our hearts, and puts them in our 
inward parts, Heb. viii. 10 ; and then the law within suits with the 
law without, for the new creature is created after God in righteousness 
and true holiness. In true holiness, which relates to the first table of 
the law, and righteousness, which relates to the second table of the 
law ; the renewed heart that hath this inclination and propension is 
carried out to them. 

[3.] Love to God, for that is implied in the choice : John xiv. 21, 
1 He that hath my commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves 
me ;' and he that loves me hath my commandments and keeps them. 
It follows the other way ; where there is love to God, there will be 
choosing of his ways. 

[4.] God's Spirit, the Lord enlightening and inclining our hearts to 
this choice. God enlightens, for he teacheth us the way that we shall 
choose ; and when we see these things in the light of the Spirit,' then 
we see the beauty of them, Ps. xxv. 12. It holds good as to the path of 
life, -and in particular cases ; but chiefly in the main case God teacheth 
him the way that he shall choose. And the Spirit of God inclines the 
heart too, as well as enlightens the mind : 1 Peter i. 22, '-Ye have puri 
fied your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.' 

3. There are the effects of this choice. What are they ? Delight, 
diligence, and patience. 

[1.] Delight : Ps. xl. 8, ' I delight to do thy will, my God ; yea, 
thy law is within my heart/ When the law is not only written in the 
book but written in the heart, then there is a delight, a ready and 
willing obedience. It is spoken first of Christ ; of David it was said 
in type. It is true also of all believers, for they have the Spirit of 
Christ ; and the same also is expressed of the people of God : Ps. 
cxii. 1, ' Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, that delighteth 
greatly in his commandments.' When a man hath chosen the precepts 
of God, and bound himself in this way, then his heart is taken with a 

[2.] Diligence. God's precepts are the great business and employ 
ment of our lives, and then there is a constant study to please him : 
Col. i. 9, 10, ' Filled with the knowledge of his will, in all wisdom and 
spiritual understanding, that you may walk worthy of the Lord unto 
all pleasing.' We must do God's will and precepts, that we may order 
our practice accordingly. There must be a habitual aim and purpose 
to please God. 

[3.] Patience ; a resolute continuance till our service be over. This 
is the way I have chosen, and here will I stick until the great reward 
come in hand : Kom. ii. 7, ' To them who by patient continuance in 
well-doing seek for honour, and glory, and immortality, eternal life.' 
And Luke viii. 15, ' The good ground brought forth fruit with 
patience.' That distinguished the good ground from all other grounds ; 
they had some little liking of it, but never came to a serious choice. 


But the good ground, though there be several weathers between sow 
ing and reaping, it cherisheth the seed that it is ready at harvest 
time ; so we pass through many weathers before we come to our har 
vest of happiness and rest. 

Doct. 2. That man which makes conscience of God's commands is 
encouraged to seek help from him in straits. 

Such a one may be in great straits ; as David, his own hand could 
not help him, therefore he flies to God. The Lord permits it that he 
may be trusted alone in his own hands ; he will break our carnal 
dependences ; and that his ways may be chosen for their own sakes, 
and not for temporal reward, and that his love to his own people may 
not be shown too sensibly, that the mysteriousness of providence may 
leave a room and place for faith ; therefore doth God darken the glory 
of the godly with afflictions, and put them into straits that their own 
hand cannot help them. 

Now in these straits, those that make conscience of God's precepts 
they are encouraged to seek help from God's hand. Why ? Partly 
because integrity breeds a confidence, so that a man which hath been 
faithful with God can look him in the face. It breeds a confidence in 
life, 2 Cor. i. 12, and in death, Isa. xxxviii. 3 ; when they are sick, 
weak, and know not what to do, they can fly to God. And then 
integrity also ; it entitles to God's protection all that heartily and- sin 
cerely depend upon God : Prov. x. 9, ' He that walketh uprightly, 
walketh surely.' An upright, plain-hearted man, that trusts himself 
under the shadow and protection of God's providence, he hath no 
shifts and tricks ; this man shall walk safely, God is engaged to defend 
him. But the perverse, that fly to their shifts, God will disappoint 
them and show them their folly: Gen. xvii. 1, ' I am God all-suffi 
cient ; walk before me, and be thou perfect.' Do you uprightly serve 
God, and study to please him, and you need not seek elsewhere for a 
patron, or for one to defend you and plead your cause. And partly, 
too, because they are exposed to the greater difficulties, because they 
are faithful with God, and trust themselves alone with his protection ; 
for so the apostle, 1 Tim. iv. 10, ' For therefore we labour and suffer 
reproach, because we trust in the living God.' Faith begets faithful 
ness , their dependence is upon God, and their faithfulness costs them 
dear, and so they suffer reproach because they did trust themselves in 
God's ways by God's providence. As you stand in need of God's pro 
tection, you shall have it. God will not forsake us in our greatest 
needs, as the world will ; but in our greatest extremities, when all 
carnal dependences fail us, he will not ; then is the time for God to 
show himself. He hath still a providence and a fatherly care over 
thee, but his power is especially engaged at such a time. If you will 
take care of your duty, he will take care of your safety, for he will 
either keep you out of troubles, or sustain you under troubles. 

VER. 174.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 277 


I have longed for thy salvation, Lord ; and thy law is my delight. 

VER. 174. 

IN this verse you have a twofold assertion or protestation 

1. Of a vehement desire of the salvation promised, I have longed for 
thy salvation. 

2. A great love and complacency in the word of God, and thy law 
is my delight. 

This verse may be understood either of temporal salvation or eternal 
salvation ; the words may be accommodated to either sense. The 
context would seem to limit it to the former, and so an enforcing of 
the second request of this portion : ver. 170, ' Deliver me according to 
thy word/ Many interpreters, both Jewish and Christian, carry it for 
the other. Jewish ; Eabbi David Kimchi expoundeth it thus, ' thy 
salvation/ seculo futuro ; and the last clause, * thy law,' quia medium 
est ad salutem. Christian ; Chrysostom, Theodoret, Calvin. And 
because these senses are not contrary, but subordinate, I shall insist 
upon both. 

1. Let me handle the words as they may be understood of temporal 
salvation ; and so the sense will be, ' I have long expected thy deliver 
ance, and yet do desire and wait for it.' The preterperfect tense, as 
Vatablus notetb,- includeth also the present : 'For a long time I have 
expected thy deliverance, and do expect help from thee/ And the 
other clause, ' Thy law is my delight ;' though this help seemeth to be 
delayed, yet thy counsel is my consolation and perpetual delight. The 
words thus understood yield us two points : 

Doct. 1. That God's people do look to God for deliverance, and 
longingly expect the accomplishment of it. 

Doct. 2. We should delight in the promise before the salvation 

For the first point, that God's people do look to God for deliver 
ance, and longingly expect it, the point shall be discussed in these con 
siderations : 

1. What longing for God's salvation implieth. 

2. The encouragements and reasons of it. 

3. What singular thing there is in this longing expectation, since 
it is natural to all to seek deliverance out of trouble. 

First, What it implieth ? 

1. A sense of our impotency, or insufficiency to save ourselves, and 
help ourselves out of trouble, by any ways and means that we can find 
out arid use: Ps. iii. 8, ' Salvation belongeth to the Lord;' Jonah ii. 
9, ' Salvation is of the Lord/ Salvation and deliverance of all kinds 
is God's prerogative royal, and God's proper work ; none can save 
and give peace when he commandeth trouble ; and when he will save 
his people, none can let. It is an evidence of men's neglecting a deity 
when they would help and save themselves in all conditions, without 
depending or employing a God ; Job xl. 9, 14, ' Hast thou an arm 
like God ? then I will confess unto thee, that thine own right hand 


can save thee. Alas ! if we look elsewhere, how soon are we disap 
pointed! Man is a mutable creature, his affections change, or his 
power may be blasted ; an arm of flesh is soon dried up. Besides the 
distraction and uncertainty that we have while we depend upon man 
and look to man, we involve ourselves in greater miseries, arid meet 
with a shameful disappointment at last. Sometimes man will not if 
he can, sometimes cannot if he would. If he will and can, yet he 
shall not help us without God; for what can the instrument do 
without the principal agent, the sword without the man that wieldeth 
it ? That is one lesson God hath been teaching his people in all ages, 
that salvation belongeth unto the Lord ; they must take their deliver 
ance out of his hands. He sits at the upper end of causes, and saveth 
his people when he, will, and how he will, and by what means he will ; 
and till he take their cause in hand, how sadly do the most hopeful 
attempts and expectations miscarry ; for to give salvation is a divine 
property, given to no creature, and must not be usurped by them: 
looking to man is the readiest way to miscarry. 

2. It implieth a dependence upon his fatherly care and powerful 
providence, and a persuasion that he will guide us unto heaven in a 
way that is most convenient for us. The great cause of God's anger 
against his people in the wilderness was because they believed not in 
God, and trusted not in his salvation, Ps. Ixxviii. 22. He had under 
taken to bring them into Canaan, but they mistrusted his conduct, 
either that he had not power enough, or enough fatherly love and care 
to do it ; and therefore his wrath was kindled against Jacob, and his 
anger was hot against Israel ; and so do they greatly dishonour and 
provoke God by their distrust who do not believe that God will bring 
them out of every strait, in a way most conducing to his own glory 
and their welfare. Now God's children are so satisfied in his conduct, 
that in their worst condition they can cheerfully depend upon God, 
and look and long for salvation from him : Hab. iii. 18, * I will joy 
in the Lord ; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation ;' Luke i. 47, 
' My spirit doth rejoice in God my Saviour/ They are satisfied in his 
love and power : Ps. xiii. 5, ' But I have trusted in thy mercy; my 
heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.' 

3. Holy desires vented in prayer ; there we express and act our 
longings. Words are but the body of prayer, but desires are the life 
and soul of it. The children of God are described once and again 
to be such as love his salvation, Ps. xl. 16. Now there are but 
two acts of love desire and delight ; the one concerneth the object as 
future, the other as present, either to faith or to sense. They rejoice 
in it as present to faith in the promise, as well as when they enjoy it. 
But the desire we are now upon, this is vented in prayer, there they 
express their vehement longings for his salvation : Ps. xxxv. 3, ' Say 
unto my soul, I am thy salvation.' God's saying is doing. He 
speaketh by his providence ; and this is that the saints long for, they 
plead with him, Ps. cxix. 94, ' I am thine, save me, for I have 
sought thy precepts/ 

4. It expresseth waiting God's leisure and submission for the kind, 
time, and means of deliverance : Lam. iii. 26, ' It is good to hope and 
quietly wait for the salvation of God.' They continue looking and 

VER. 174.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 279 

waiting : Isa. xxx. 18, ' Blessed are all they that wait for him.' We 
must wait in the midst of manifold disappointments. When means 
miscarry, it is in his power to rescue his people from the greatest 
dangers; and hath a prerogative to save and deliver those whom 
reason and probability have condemned and given over for lost ; as 
the Israelites, Exod. xiv. 13, ' Stand still, and see the salvation of 
God.' They were enclosed, the mountains on each side, the Egyp 
tians behind, the sea before ; yet what cannot the salvation of God do ? 
There is a holy obstinacy in faith, trusting him in all dangers. Nay, 
when God himself appeareth as an enemy, cutting off our hope, and 
hewing and hacking at us, yet we must wait upon him. All strokes 
come from the hand of God, and no wound given by himself is above 
his own cure. Jacob when he fainted was forced to interrupt his 
speech, and utter this ejaculation, Gen. xlix. 18, ' I have waited for 
thy salvation, God.' In short, God hath ways of deliverance more 
than his people know of, and can save his own when they count their 
case desperate : Ps. Ixviii. 20, ' He that is our God, is the God of 
salvation, and the issues from death belong unto him ; ' the escapes 
from death and imminent destruction. 

Secondly, The reasons and encouragements of looking and longing 
for God's salvation. 

1. God hath bound himself by covenant as our God; it is his 
covenant style to be the God of our salvation, Ps. Ixviii. 19, 20. In 
the one verse he is called ' the God of our salvation ;' in the other, it 
is said, ' He that is our God is the God of salvation.' If he be the 
God of salvation, he will be the God of our salvation ; for whatever 
God is in himself, that in the covenant he will be to his people ; you 
shall see the blessing of his people is inferred out of his title : Ps. iii. 
8, ' Salvation belongeth to the Lord ; thy blessing is upon thy people. 
Selah.' If God can save, and the salvation be a blessing to his people, 
he will save them, and deliver them. It is true this title doth mainly 
concern our eternal salvation, but the conduct of his providence by the 
way is aimed at in the covenant, as well as our entrance into heaven 
at the end of the journey. Promises relating to temporal things are 
put into the believer's charter ; but the dispensing thereof is left in 
the hands of their wise and tender Father. Now temporal deliverance 
being a part of our charter, if it be not always performed, it is not for 
want of power or truth, but out of wisdom and love. God doth what 
is most convenient for us ; it is in a wise hand : if it be good for me, 
I shall have it. Now this is a mighty encouragement to look and 
long for God's salvation. He shall have the stating of it, for time, 
means, and kind of deliverance, but we must look for it. 

2. We must look to God for deliverance, because he is every way 
able, and fitted and furnished to make good his covenant undertaking. 
He hath power enough, wisdom enough, and love enough. 

[1.] Power enough : 1 Sam. xiv. 6, ' There is no restraint in the Lord, 
to save by many, or by few.' The same supported Asa, 2 Chron. xiv. 11. 
The same supported the three children, Dan. iii. 17, ' Our God whom 
we serve is able to deliver us out of the fiery furnace.' Now a desire is 
mightily quickened by this confidence. God hath promised to do what 
is good, and it is in the power of his hands to do this for us. 


[2.] He hath wisdom enough to bring it about in such a way 
as may be most for his glory: 2 Peter ii. 9, 'The Lord knoweth how 
to deliver the godly out of temptation.' It is an art he is versed 
in, how to distinguish between his people and their enemies ; to bring 
it about so as may be most for his glory. What is the usual work of 
providence, but to give salvation according to his covenant, in such a 
way as the beauty of his providence may be seen, the patience and 
faith of his people may be tried, and yet his enemies reckoned with. 

[3.] He hath love enough. God doth concern himself in all our 
affairs : 1 Tim. iv. 10, ' We trust in the living God, who is the 
saviour of all men, especially of those that believe.' A protector and 
deliverer ; yea, it is said he saveth man and beast, Ps. xxxvi. 6. 
The object of his providence is very large. All creatures have their 
being and preservation from him, much more man, much more his 
children. They are allowed to believe a special providence, and the 
more they depend upon him, the more is his care assured to them : 
1 Peter v. 7, ' Cast all your care upon the Lord, for he careth for 
you/ The Lord is free from all passions of care and sorrow, but we 
shall find no less proof of his keeping off danger, or delivering us from 
danger, than if we were solicitous for ourselves. Surely our Father is 
not unmindful of us. 

3. Because there is no difficulty that can fall out to check this 
confidence, which is built upon God's undertaking, and sufficiency to 
make it good. 

[1.] Not any danger from men, though of never so dreadful an 
appearance : 2 Cor. i. 10, ' Who hath delivered us from so great a 
death, and doth deliver, in whom we trust that he will yet deliver 
us.' The danger was trouble in Asia, a great danger, pressed above 
measure and above strength. Great trouble was at Ephesus, where 
the people in an uproar were ready to tear him in pieces, so that he 
received the sentence of death in himself ; yet God found a way and 
means to save, and he came off safe and sound. 

[2.] Not any appearance of anger from God himself : Job xiii. 15, 
' Though he slay me, yet I will put my trust in him.' Sometimes 
trouble may represent God as the party dealing with us ; yet faith 
can take him tor a friend when he seemeth to deal like an enemy ; 
and we must resolve to adhere to God and his ways, and trust his 
power, with submission to his good-will and pleasure, and believe that 
he hath more respect and care over us than is seen in the present 

Thirdly, It is natural to all to seek deliverance out of troubles : 
Isa. li. 14, * The captive exile hasteth that he may be delivered, and 
that he should not die in the pit.' How then is it any part of grace 
to long for God's salvation ? 

I answer It is proper to the godly to love no deliverance but what 
God sendeth by his own means, in his own time, and to wait for it 
in God's way. 

1. There is somewhat of grace in it, that they look for salvation 
from God alone, as the author, and are resolved to take it out of his 
hands, whencesoever it cometh. Men naturally would be avrapKos, 
live upon himself, be sufficient to his own happiness ; and so they 

VER. 174.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 281 

are vexed when they are left upon God, and put upon dependence and 
submission and waiting upon him ; for they think it little worth to wait 
upon God as long as any other shift will serve the turn. As Ahaz, 
when troubled with the fear of Rezin and Pekah, and the prophet 
assureth him of God's salvation, and biddeth him ask a sign : Isa. vii. 
11-13, ' I will not tempt the Lord.' I will not trust the Lord, he 
rneaneth, though heuseth that pretence ; his expectation was fixed on 
the friendship of his confederates. If he had asked a sign of God, he 
must wait for the issue in God's way. Now Ahaz could not endure 
to trust God alone ; he depended on the Assyrian, and not on God's 
salvation ; he believed nothing the prophet spake, but counted it vain 
and frivolous, and was resolved to go another way to work. 

2. God's salvation as to the means ; not by our shifts, that maketh 
a breach upon our sincerity : Gen. xvii. 1, ' I am God Almighty ; 
walk before me, and be thou upright/ A man that doth not trust 
God cannot be long true to him. You go off from. God to the 
creature by distrust and unbelief, Heb. iii. 12. This is making more 
haste than good speed, Isa. xxviii. 16. It plungeth us in sin ; it is 
the greatest hypocrisy that can be, to pretend respect to God, and 
shift for ourselves ; it is to break prison, to get out of trouble before 
God letteth us out. 

3. In his own time, ' Thy salvation.' They resolve to wait till he 
sendeth it. Carnal men, when other means and expectations fail, will 
seek to God ; they are beaten to him. But if their expectation in 
waiting upon God be delayed, they wax weary and faint ; as that 
king put on sackcloth for a while, 2 Kings vi. 30, afterwards said, 
' This evil is from the Lord ; why should I wait on the Lord any 
longer ? ' They give it over as a hopeless service. 

4. That in the height of trouble they still go to God, and will not 
cast away their confidence and dependence, come what will come : 
Isa. xxvi. 8, ' In the way of thy judgments we have waited for thee.; 
our desires are to thee, and to the remembrance of thy name/ They 
still look to him, and though often disappointed, will seek salvation 
from no other : they still cleave to God's way : Ps. xliv. 17, ' All this 
is come upon us, yet have we not forsaken thee, nor dealt falsely in 
thy covenant/ They persevere in prayer : Ps. Ixxxviii. 13, 14, * Unto 
thee have I cried in the morning ; my prayer shall prevent thee, 
Lord ! Why castest thou me ojff ? why hidest thou thy face from me ?' 
They will not give over, but show their vehement longings after God ; 
whereas wicked and carnal men, when great troubles continue, are 
driven to despair, and give over all hope. 

Use. In times of trouble let us look to God, and continue looking 
all the time that God will exercise our faith and patience, and 
express our longings and desires of God's salvation in humble and 
earnest prayer. 

1. It is no time to look elsewhere ; for God will show us that vain 
is the help of man by many disappointments : Isa. xlviii. 11, * I, even 
I, am the Lord, and besides me there is no saviour/ He will break 
all confidences till we come to this. He shall be my salvation, as 
Job resolved when God brake him with his tempests, and pursued 
him with his waves, and was ready to slay him, as he thought. In all 


extremities this should be our fixed ground of faith, that salvation 
and deliverance is to be expected from God only: Jer. iii. 23, 'Truly 
in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills and the mountains ; truly 
in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.' God will teach us 
this lesson ere he hath done with us. Usually there is no serious 
dealing with God till we find the vanity and inability of all other 
dependences : looking to the hills and mountains, strength of situa 
tion, forces, all these will fail us. 

2. It is no time to dally with God and his service any longer ; for 
when troubles come close and near, the spirit of prayer should be 
revived, and what was cursorily sought at other times should now be 
sought with some vehemency and longings in prayer: Jer. xxix. 13, 
14, ' When they shall seek me with their whole heart, they shall find 
me, and I will give them an expected end.' We do not stir up 
ourselves to take "hold of him : Ps. xiv. 7, ' Oh ! that the salvation of 
Israel were come out of Zion 1 ' There should be a longing, we 
should not content ourselves with a few dead and drowsy prayers. 

3. Salvation may be comfortably expected from God ; for as neces 
sity enforceth these longings, so hope quickeneth them. Now it may 
be expected, for he is mighty to save, Isa. Ixiii. 1 ; he is willing to 
save a distressed people : ver. 5, ' I looked, and there was none to 
help, therefore mine own arm brought salvation to me.' God struck 
in for the deliverance and help of his people when all human help 
failed ; he did the work alone himself. Once more, when he meaneth 
to save, he covereth himself with frowns and anger, as if he meant to 
destroy : Isa. xlv. 15, ' Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, 
God, the saviour.' He seemeth to hide and stand aloof from his 
people in their afflictions, and carrieth himself so closely and covertly 
in the passages of his providence, that his people know not what he 
meaneth to do. What is our work, then, but to keep longing and 
waiting and looking to God's hands, till he have mercy upon us ? 

Doct. 2. That we should delight in the promise before the salvation 

So doth David say here, ' Thy law is my delight ; ' that is, whilst 
he was longing for God's salvation; and by law is meant God's 
word in the general ; the promise is included in it, as well as the 

1. A believer should not be comfortless in his troubless : John xiv. 
1 , ' Let not your hearts be troubled ; ye believe in God, believe also 
in me.' Immoderate sorrow for temporal evils will not become one 
that hath an interest in God and Christ. Whatever falls out in the 
world, God is the same still, and the covenant is the same ; and our 
better part, and our happiness is above the reach of trouble ; there is 
a long-suffering with joyfulness, Col. i. 4. 

2. All our delight and solace must not arise from the delights of 
sense, but out of the word of God. It is good to see what is our 
solace and support in troubles, for the man is as his solace is : Ps. 
xciv. 19, 'In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts 
delight my soul.' How do we ease ourselves in our perplexities and 
griefs ? Is it with God's comforts ? Now God's comforts are gospel 
comforts ; the comforts we have from the word they will make us 

VER. 174.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 283 

more love the word, and trust more upon God's word, and the more 
confidently expect the performance of it. 

3. The promises should support us upon a twofold account partly 
because they are good, and partly because they are sure. 

[1.] They are good ; there is a fulness in God's allowance that 
suiteth with all our cases : Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, * For the Lord God is a 
sun and a shield ; he will give grace and glory, and no good thing 
will he withhold from them that live uprightly.' So 1 Tim. iv. 8, 
' Godliness hath the promises of the life which now is, and of that 
which is to come/ Heaven and earth are laid at the feet of it. A 
man cannot desire a greater cordial than necessary provisions for this 
and the future life : Ps. cxix. Ill, ' Thy testimonies I have taken for 
an heritage for ever ; they are the rejoicing of my heart.' The pro 
mises of the world to come should swallow up all our present grief, 
for there is more in heaven than can be taken from us in the creature : 
2 Cor. iv. 17, * For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, 
worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory/ 
Heb. x. 34, ' And took joyfully the spoiling of your goods ; knowing 
in yourselves that in heaven ye have a better and more enduring 
substance.' We have a treasure and a happiness elsewhere, which 
cannot be infringed by the afflictions we endure in this world. We 
do not lose much if we get eternal salvation in the issue, and so we 
get to heaven, no matter how dark soever our passage be. Then for 
the promises of this life, they suit with all our troubles, wants, dangers, 
breaches, and distresses. But what confidence can we have of these 
temporal deliverances or mercies? Ans. Either we shall have the 
mercies themselves, or God will order providences so as it may be 
good for us to want them, and have something better given in lieu of 
them, Kom. viii. 28. We know he will not leave us wholly destitute, 
Heb. xiii. 5, nor bring upon us insupportable difficulties, 1 Cor. x. 13 ; 
and this should be enough for us to maintain us in life and comfort. 

S2.] They are sure as well as good. 
1.) As promises. A promise is more than a purpose, for it is a 
purpose not as conceived in the mind of a man, but declared to another 
to invite hope. It is more than a doctrine. A doctrine giveth notice 
of privileges, but a promise giveth us an interest in them. It is more 
than a revelation or prophecy. Scripture prophecies will be fulfilled 
because of God's veracity ; but scripture promises not only because of 
God's veracity, but also his fidelity and justice. There is a kind of 
righteousness in making good promises, because we give another a 
right and claim to the things promised by the promises we make to 
him. A promissory lie is worse than an assertory lie. A promise gives 
us a holdfast upon God, promitlendo se fecit debitorem. 

(2.) As the promises of God, who cannot lie and deceive the crea 
tures : Heb. vi. 18, ' That by two immutable things, in which it was 
impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation.' And 
therefore by acting faith on these declarations of his will, we may have 
the accomplishment of them. None that ever depended on God's 
word were disappointed : Ps. xviii. 30, ' The word of the Lord is a 
tried word.' God was never yet found worse than his word ; he hath 
been tender of the credit of his word : Ps. cxxxviii. 2, ' Thou hast 


magnified thy word above all thy name.' Heathens have acknow 
ledged that God hath never so much showed himself in the world, as 
in these two things aXrjBeueiv real evepyereiv, in doing good and keeping 
promise. Above all that is named and famed of God, this is most 

Use. To exhort us in all bur straits, dangers, and troubles, to be 
contented with his word, and to delight in the promise, as if it were 
performed. I shall here show you how we are to carry ourselves 
towards the promises. 

1. You must rest confident of the truth of what God hath promised, 
and be assured that in time the performance will come to pass, as if 
you saw it with your eyes : Heb. xi. 13, * They were persuaded of these 
things.' This is the assurance of faith spoken of, Heb. x. 22. I know 
I shall find this to be a truth. Men are conscionable and faithful in 
keeping their word ; much more God, who can neither deceive nor be 

2. You are to delight in the promise, though the performance be not 
yet, nor like to be for a good while ; neither performed, nor likely to 
be performed. Heb. xi. 13, they saw them afar off, and yet being 
persuaded of these things, they embraced them ; and John viii. 56, 
* Abraham saw my day, and was glad.' You hold the blessing by the 
root, where you have the promise, Heb. vi. 18. 

3. You are to take the naked promise for a ground of your hope, 
however it seem to be contradicted in the course of his providence. It 
is his word you are to go by, and stand by, and according to which you 
must interpret all his dispensations. It is said, Kom. iv. 18, that 
'Abraham believed in hope against hope/ When faith dependeth 
upon God's naked word, then it standeth upon its own basis and proper 
legs. Everything is strongest in its props and pillars which God and 
nature hath appointed for it. He hangeth the earth upon nothing, in 
the midst of the air, but there is its place. So faith standeth fast upon 
his word, 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 ; ' and Ps. Ivi. 3, 4, ' In God I will praise his 
word, in God have I put my trust ; I will not fear what man can do 
unto me.' The force of faith is seen in calming our passions and sin 
ful fears ; or else it is but a notion, and our reverence and respect to 
God will be weakened by it. 

5. When faith hath done its work in the quieting of our own hearts, 
you must glorify God in your carriage before others : John iii. 33, 
* Put to his seal that God is true ; ; that is, when we confirm others in 
the faith and belief of the promises, by our joy fulness in all conditions, 
patience and contentedness under the cross, diligence in holiness, hope 
and comfort in great straits. You shall see, Num. xx. 12, that God 
was angry with Moses and Aaron because ' they believed not, to sanc 
tify him in the eyes of the children of Israel.' We are not only to 
believe in God ourselves, but to sanctify him in the eyes of others ; as 
the Thessalonians by receiving the word in much affliction, much 
assurance, and joy in the Holy Ghost, were examples to all that believed 
in Achaia, 1 Thes. i. 5-7. Thus we should do, but how few do thus 

VER. 174.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 285 

believe ! Some count these vain words, and the comforts thence deduced 
fanatical illusions or fantastical impressions ; nothing so ridiculous in 
the world's eye as trust and dependence on unseen comforts : Ps. xxii. 
8, ' He trusted on the Lord, that he should deliver him ; let him de 
liver him, seeing he delighted in him/ Ungodly wits make the life of 
faith a sport or matter of laughter. Some have more modesty, but as 
little faith ; they are all for the present world, 2 Tim. iv. 0. Pre 
sent delights please them, but present temptations altogether unsettle 
them, Heb. xii. 11 ; cannot bear present smart, nor despise the present 
world, Kom. viii. 19. Anything in hand is more than the greatest 
promise, of better things to come. They do not deal equally with God 
and man. If man promise, they reckon much of that ; but cannot 
tarry upon God's security, count his promise little worth. They can 
trade with a factor beyond sea, and trust all their estate in a man's hand 
whom they have never seen ; and yet the word of the infallible God 
is of little respect with them. The best build too weakly upon the 
promise, as appeareth by the prevalency of our cares and fears, Heb. 
xii. 4-6. If you did take God at his word, you would not be so soon 
rnated with every difficulty ; there would be more resolution in trials, 
more hardiness against troubles. A man may boldly say, * The Lord is 
my helper ; I will not fear what man can do unto me/ If we had faith to 
believe it, it would more effectually quiet our hearts and minds in all our 
straits, necessities, and perplexities, it would calm our desires and fears : 
we would not desire the best things of the world, nor fear the worst. 


I have longed for thy salvation, Lord; and thy law is my delight. 

VER. 174. 

WE now come to the second acceptation of the word salvation, as it 
implieth eternal salvation ; and so the points are two : 

Doct. 1. That we should vehemently long and earnestly wait for 
eternal life. 

Doct. 2. That we should not only long for salvation, but delight in 
the way which leadeth us to it. 

For the first point, that longing for salvation is the duty and property 
of God's children 

The reasons are taken from (1.) The object of these desires ; (2.) 
The subject of these desires ; (3.) The use of these desires ; (4.) The 
state and condition of the present world. 

1. The object. The object of desire is good, considered as absent 
and not yet obtained good. All desire that it should be well with 
themselves. This desire is confused and general ; not the hundredth 
part longeth after the true good : Ps. iv. 6, ' Who will show us any 
good ?' Some are carried by ambition, others by covetousness, others 
by sensuality: 1 John ii. 16, 'All that is in the world is either the 
lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or pride of life ;' and Isa. liii. 6, 
* All we like sheep have gone astray ; we have every one turned to his 


own way.' As the channel is cut, so corrupt nature finds a vent. 
But now God's salvation is the true good, and ought to be desired, 
and will be desired by all his children. It importeth a freedom from 
all misery, and an enjoyment of all good. A freedom from all misery : 
There sin and sorrow shall be no more, and all tears shall be wiped 
from our eyes, Eev. xxi. 4. The blessed spirits above have none of 
our cares, and fears, and sorrows. Here we are sighing, and they 
are praising ; we sinning, and they pleasing God ; we full of infirmities, 
and they are perfect and without blemish, and in the full enjoyment 
of all good : Ps. xvi. 11, 'At thy right hand is fulness of joy, and in 
thy presence pleasures for evermore ;' Ps. xvii. 15, 'As for me, I will 
behold thy face in righteousness ; I shall be satisfied when I awake 
with thy likeness.' Alas ! the preparations to this estate in the world 
are far above the rain delights of the flesh ; much more the pleasures 
there ; these the soul longeth for ; though they are thankful for a 
refreshment by the way, yet they long to be at home. 

2. The second reason is taken from the subject of these desires ; 
and there we have (1.) The suitableness ; (2.) The experience ; (3.) 
Our pressures. 

[1.] The suitableness; they are suited to this happiness, wrought 
for this very thing, 2 Cor. v. 5. Everything hath a prepension to the 
place for which God framed it ; it is the wisdom of God to put all 
things in their proper places, as every creature is placed in that element 
which is suitable and answerable to its composition and frame, as 
fishes in water, fowls in the air. God's children are framed for this 
very thing, therefore have an inclination and a tendency thither. As 
heaven is prepared for them, so in some measure they for it, Kom. ix. 
24 ; aforehand prepared unto glory ; and Col. i. 12, ' Made meet to 
be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light/ They grow more 
dead every day to the interests and concernments of the animal life, 
and have a greater agreeableness to this happiness. 

[2.] Experience : Kom. viii. 23, ' We that have the first-fruits of 
the Spirit, groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, 
the redemption of our body.' A Christian here is unsatisfied, and 
longeth for a better and purer state of bliss and immortality, light, 
life, peace, joy. One drachm of grace is more precious than all the 
world, but yet it setteth them a-longing for more. The first-fruits 
showeth us what the harvest will be, and a taste what the feast will 
prove. Here we get a little knowledge of God, a sight of him in the 
ordinances, a twilight discovery of Christ, a look through the lattice, 
Cant. ii. 9, a little glance of his face, when neither doth he let the 
believers in to him, nor doth he come out to them. This glance maketh 
them long for more, so that in effect they send up the same message 
to Christ which his mother and brethren did because of the press, 
' Thy mother and thy brethren stand without desiring to see thee/ 
Tell him thou standest here without, but desirest to see him. So for 
the communion we have with Christ, it is but a taste : 1 Peter ii. 3, 
' If so be ye have tasted the Lord is gracious ;' but that taste is very 
ravishing and delightful. Here we get a little from him in an ordi 
nance, but that little is as much as we can hold ; but there he is all 
in all. Here our holiness is not perfect, the seed of God remaineth 

VER< 174.] . SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 287 

in us ; but there it groweth up to perfection, as every spark of fire 
tendeth to the element of fire. 

[3.] Our pressures and the miseries of the present life : 2 Cor. v. 4, 
1 Being burdened, we groan.' We are pressed under a heavy weight, 
burdened both with sin and misery, and both set us a-groaning and 
a-longing, as men in a tempest would fain be set ashore as soon as 
they can. 

(1.) Sin, to a waking conscience and a tender gracious heart, is one 
of the greatest burdens than can be felt : Horn. vii. 24, ' wretched 
man that I am ! who shall deliver me from this body of death ? ' If 
any had cause to complain of afflictions, Paul much more ; he was 
whipped, imprisoned, stoned, in perils by land and sea ; but afflictions 
did not sit so close to him as sins : the body of death was his greatest 
burden, and therefore did he long for deliverance. If others go away 
silently under their load, the children of God cannot. As light and 
love increaseth, so sin groweth a greater burden to us. They cannot 
get rid of this cursed inmate, and therefore are longing for their final 
estate, when sin shall gasp its last : they long for the parting day, when 
by putting off the flesh, they shall put off sin, and dwell with God. 

(2.) Miseries : the children of God have not divested themselves of 
the feelings of nature, are not grown senseless, as stocks and stones. 
The apostle telleth us, Horn. viii. 20-22, that the whole creation 
groaneth, because it is under misery and vanity. It is a groaning 
world, and God's children bear a part of the concert : they groan and 
desire earnestly their full deliverance. ' Few arid evil are the days of 
the years of my pilgrimage/ said holy Jacob, Gen. xlvii. 9. Our days 
are evil, therefore it is well they are but few ; that in this shipwreck 
of man's felicity, we can see banks and shores and a landing-place 
where we may be safe ; here is our travail, but there is our repose. 
We would sleep too much here, and take up our rest, if sometimes we 
did not meet with thorns in our bed. 

3. The end and use of this longing and desiring. 

[1.] It is an earnest desire, it maketh us industrious, and stirreth up 
and keepeth up our endeavours after another world : Phil. iii. 20, 21, 
' But our conversation is in heaven, from whence we look for a Saviour, 
the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be 
fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby 
he is able to subdue all things unto himself/ Where there is a lively 
expectation, there men drive on a trade for another country. Desire 
is the vigorous bent of the soul, and so beareth us out under all the 
difficulties of obedience. If we do not desire, we will not labour, nor 
seek it in the first place ; and if our desires be weak and feeble, they 
are controlled by every lust, abated upon every difficulty : whatever 
gets your hearts, that will command your endeavours ; for as a man's 
desire is, so is he. 

[2.] To make us constant, notwithstanding troubles, reproaches, 
persecutions : Mat. xi. 12, * The violent take it by force.' They will 
have no nay ; they must have it, whatever it cost ; though sore 
troubles and persecutions, yet if we may get heaven and glory at last, 
it is enough. But where a thing is coldly and carelessly desired, 
everything puts us out of the humour. 


4. The state and condition of the present world ; it is called, Gal. i. 
4, ' The present world.' The pleasures of it are mere dreams and 
shadows, and the evils of it are many and real. God's children are 
pilgrims here, and hardly get leave to pass through ; as Israel could 
not get leave to pass through Edom. Sometimes they meet with such 
bitter and grievous persecutions, which make them weary of their 
lives ; as Elijah requested for himself that he might die, 1 Kings ix. 4, 
or as the spirits of the Israelites were filled with anguish because of 
their hard taskmasters. God will give his people rest hereafter, but 
before the rest cometh they are sorely troubled : 1 Thes. i. 6, 7, ' And 
ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word 
in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost, so that ye were en- 
samples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia/ Nay, the 
company that we go with to heaven are apt to fall out by the way, 
and to deal perversely one with another, unministering, unchurching, 
unchristianing one another, impaling, enclosing the common salvation, 
and jostling one another out of the way to heaven ; so that the 
church, which should be terrible like an army with banners, marching 
to heaven in order in one whole body, is like an army in rout, and 
most are forced to get home in straggling parties. Now every tender 
soul should long for God's salvation, to get up to that council of souls 
who with perfect harmony are lauding and praising God for evermore, 
Heb. xii. 23. 

Use 1. To reprove them that are loath to leave this woful life, and 
do not long and prepare for a better. God driveth us out of the world, 
as he did Lot out of Sodom, yet we are loath to depart ; as if it were 
better to be miserable, apart from God and Christ, than happy with 
them. Surely they are far from the spirit of true Christians who 
would live always here, at home in the world, and cannot endure to 
think of a remove. There are two causes of this (1.) An unmor- 
tified heart ; (2.) An unsettled conscience. 

1. An unmortified heart ; they are not yet weaned from the world, 
their hearts are set upon satisfying the vile lusts of the body ; carry it 
as if their portion lay in this world, Ps. xvii. 14 ; sucking yet upon 
the world's dug ; they have no longing nor desire for that happiness 
and glory which God hath provided for them that love him; they 
desire no other portion than what they have in hand. 

2. And the other cause is an unsettled conscience. Some fear the 
state of the other world rather than desire it and long for it. There 
are two degrees not knowing for certain it shall go well with us, 
and not knowing for certain but that it shall go ill with us ; both sup 
press this desire, especially the latter. 

Use 2. To rouse up our languid and cold affections, that they may 
more earnestly be carried out after heavenly things ; that we may seek 
after them with more fervency, and constancy, and self-denial. 

The motives to press us are these : 

1. God giveth heaven to none but to those that look and long for it. 
Men may go to hell against their wills, but none go to heaven against 
their wills. In a punishment there is a force offered to us, but not in 
a reward. We suffer what we would not, as Christ saith to Peter, 
' Another shall gird thee, and cany thee whither thou wouldst not/ 

VER. 174.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 289 

John xxi. 18. But happiness must be embraced, pursued, and sought 
after. Well, then, let the concernments of the other world more take 
up our hearts and minds, arid stand as at heaven's gate, expecting when 
God will open the door and call you in : Christ will appear to them 
that look for him, Heb. ix. 28. 

2. The children of God long to see God in his ordinances: Ps. 
xxvii. 4, ' One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, 
that I may dwell in the house of God all the days of my life, to behold 
the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple;' and Ps. xlii. 2, 
4 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God : when shall I come 
and appear before God?' Ps. Ixiii. 1, 2, '0 God, thou art my God; 
early will I seek thee : my soul thirsteth for thee, ray flesh longeth 
for thee, in a dry and thirsty land where no water is; to see thy power 
and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary/ Now if there 
be so great and longing a desire to see the glory of the Lord in a glass, 
wherein so little of his glory is seen, with any comfort and satisfaction, 
how much more to see him immediately face to face ! If a glimpse 
be so comfortable, what will the immediate vision of God then be ? 
Surely if this be salvation, every one of us should long for this sal 

3. If it be not worth our desire, it is little worth ; the estate being 
so excellent, such a complete redemption from all our troubles, so per 
fect, and so full a happiness in body and soul, will not you send a 
groan, or a hearty act of volition after it ? It is great ingratitude, 
that when Christ hath procured a great state of blessedness for us at 
a very dear rate, we should value it no more. He procured it by a 
life of labour and sorrow, and the pangs of a bitter cursed death ; and 
when all is done, we little regard it. Surely if we choose it for our 
happiness, there will be longing and looking for it. No man will fly 
from his own happiness : a man's heart will be where his treasure 
is, Mat. vi. 21. If you prize it, you will sigh and groan after it. The 
apostle saith, Phil. i. 23, 'I desire to be dissolved and to be with 
Christ, which is far better,' TroXXw ima\\bv. If you count it better to 
be there than elsewhere, you will be desiring to be there, and longing 
to be there ; for we are always longing for that which is better, chiefly 
for that which is best of all. There is the best estate, the best work, 
the best company, all is better ; if you count it so, it will be no diffi 
cult thing to bring you earnestly to desire it. 

4. All the ordinances serve to stir up this longing after heaven, 
and to awaken these desires in us. The word is our charter for 
heaven, or God's testament wherein this rich legacy is bequeathed to 
us, that every time we read it, or hear it, or meditate upon it, we may 
get a step higher, and our hearts more drawn out after heavenly 
things. In prayer, whether in company or alone, it is but to raise and 
act these heavenly desires ; there we groan, and long for God's salva 
tion. In the Lord's supper, we come solemnly to put ourselves in 
mind of the new wine we shall drink in our Father's kingdom, Mat. 
xxvi. 29, to put a new heavenly relish upon our hearts. 

5. The imperfection of our present estate. We are now imperfect, 
and straitened like a fish in a pail or small vessel of water, which 
cannot keep it alive ; it would fain be in the ocean, or swimming in 



the broad and large rivers. So we are pent up, cannot do -what we 
would ; there is a larger estate, when filled up with all the fulness of 
God. That holiness we have now maketh us look for it and long for 
it ; and surely holiness was never designed for our torment. 

6. We are hastening into the other world apace, and therefore we 
more desire it. Natural motion is in principio tardier ', in fine velo- 
c i or the nearer to fruition, the more impatient of the want of it. 
When a man is drawing home after a long journey, every mile is as 
tedious as two. We are drawing, nigh to the other world, let us leave 
this willingly, not by force ; let not trouble chase us out of it, but love 
and desire draw us out of it. God doth loosen our roots by little and 
little, that we may now be fit for a remove ; the pins of our taber 
nacle are taken down insensibly, and by leisurely degrees. Now as 
fast as we are goiog out of this world, we should be going into another ; 
the inner man renewed day by day, that is, as it groweth more holy 
and heavenly. From our first renovation we should be dying to this 
world, and setting our affections on a better ; much more when God 
beginneth to call us home, then draw home as fast as you can. 

For means to this desire and longing, there is necessary 

1. A sound belief of this blessed estate, or a certain confidence of 
the truth of it : 2 Cor. v. 1, 2, ' For we know that if our earthly house 
of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house 
not made with hands, eternal in the heavens : for in this we groan, 
earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from 
heaven.' Not a bare conjecture, but a certain knowledge. Surely 
heaven is amiable, and the object of our desires, if we be persuaded of 
the truth of it, we will long after it. 

2. A serious preparation for it : 2 Cor. v. 3, ' If so be that, being 
clothed, we shall not be found naked.' They have made up their 
account between God and their souls, sued out their pardon, stand 
with their loins girt and lamps burning ; then they long and wait 
when God will draw aside the veil of flesh, and show them his glory. 
A seafaring man desireth his port, especially if laden with rich com 
modities. Where there hath been diligent preparing, there will be 
serious waiting and desirous expectation. While we make provision 
for our fleshly appetites and wills, we dream of dwelling here ; we 
take it for granted they have no thought of removing to another place 
who make no provision before their coming thither. When a tenant 
hath warning to be turned out of his old house, he will be providing 
of another, and be preparing and making it ready before he enter 
upon it. 

We now come to the second clause, ' Thy law is my delight. 7 
Doct. 2. That we should not only long for salvation, but delight in 
the way which leadeth to it. 

Here I shall speak to two things : 

1. That we must take the way that leadeth to it. 

2. That we must delight in the way. 

First, That we must take the way that leadeth to it. 

1. Partly because of the nature of God's covenant, which is con 
ditional. There is in it ratio dati et accepti, something required and 
something promised : Isa. Ivi. 4, ' For thus saith the Lord unto the 

VER. 174.] SERMONS UPON TSALM cxix. 291 

eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, 
and take hold of my covenant ; ' Heb. x. 22, ' Let us draw near with 
a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled 
from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water ; ' 
Exod. xxiv. 4, ' And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose 
up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and 
twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel : and he took the 
book of the covenant and read it in the audience of the people, and 
they said, All that the Lord hath said we will do, and be obedient.' 
Surely in the covenant of grace God requireth conditions ; it is not 
made up all of promises. Now a condition is this, when one promiseth 
any good, or threateneth any ill, not simply, but upon covenant ; 
if the thing required be performed, or the thing forbidden be com 
mitted ; the performance of the thing required is the condition of the 
promise, the doing a thing forbidden the condition of the threatening : 
1 Sam. xi. 1, 2, ' And all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make 
a covenant with us, and we will serve thee : and Nahash the Am 
monite answered them, On this condition I will make a covenant with 
you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach 
upon all Israel ; ' and Luke xiv. 32, ' While the other is yet a great 
way off, he sendeth an embassage, and desireth conditions of peace/ 
Now these conditions are twofold making covenant and keeping 

[1.] The conditions as to making the covenant arise from the law 
of grace, or the lex remedians, faith and repentance. Faith performed 
or omitted : John iii. 36, ' He that believeth on the Son hath everlast 
ing life, and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the 
wrath of God abideth on him.' So repentance performed : Ezek. 
xviii. 30, ' Kepent ye, and turn from your transgressions ; so iniquity 
shall not be your ruin/ Omitted : Lukexiii. 5, 'Except ye repent, ye 
shall all likewise perish/ 

[2.] Then conditions of keeping covenant, which is conformity to the 
law of God, or new obedience performed : Ps. Ixxxiv. 11, * No good 
thing will be withhold from them that walk uprightly/ Omitted : 
Heb. xii. 14, ' Without holiness no man shall see the^Lord/ Well, 
then, upon the whole we thus judge, that it is not enough to desire 
God's salvation, but we must also delight in his law ; that is to say, we 
must repent and believe, and so begin our acquaintance with God in 
Christ ; and we must also walk in the ways of God's precepts, if we 
mean at length to be saved, and to enjoy the vision of the blessed God. 
That which is propounded conditionally we must not presume of abso 
lutely, and so make reckoning to go to heaven as in some whirlwind, 
or as passengers at sea are brought into the harbour sleeping, or to be 
crowned without striving. 

2. From the nature of this longing and desire, which must be 
regular and according to the tenor of the covenant of holiness as well 
as happiness ; and it must be strong, so as to overmaster contrary 
difficulties, lusts, and desires. Let us instance in Balaam. He said, 
Num. xxiii. 10, ' Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my 
latter end be like his/ He saw that the state of a righteous man at 
the end of it is a blessed estate, and this he longed for. But there was 


a double defect in his desire ; it was not regular. Balaam desired to 
be saved, but he did not delight in God's law. He would be at the 
journey's end, but was loath to take the way ; there was a complacency 
and well-pleasedness in the end, but a refusing of the means. Again, 
this desire was but a flash, a sudden motion, occasioned by con 
templation of the blessedness of God's people, but no operative trans 
forming desire ; a desire which the love of the wages of unrighteousness 
prevailed over. All men will long for salvation, but all men will not 
take a right course to obtain it ; and so it is a wish rather than a 
desire, if we long for salvation but have not a heart to use the means 
appointed thereunto. Where there is a true longing there will be a 
using the means, and a using the means with delight. They that 
will not submit to these conditions, or snuff at these conditions as 
troublesome, they cio not long for his salvation, nor delight in his law. 
Secondly. That we must delight in the way that leadeth to glory ; 
but this argument being handled in other verses of this psalm, it is 
omitted here. 


Let my soul live, and it shall praise tliee ; and let t7iy judgments- 
help me. VER. 175. 

THIS verse containeth three things : 

1. David's petition for life, let my soul live. 

2. His argument from the end, and it shall praise thee. 

3. The ground of his hope and confidence, and let thy judgments 
help me. 

1. David's petition for life, ' Let my soul live.' ' My soul,' that is, 
myself: the soul is put for the whole man. The contrary, Judges 
xvi. 30, ' Let me die with the Philistines/ said Samson : Heb. marg., 
' Let my soul die/ His life was sought after by the cruelty of his 
enemies, and he desireth God to keep him alive. 

2. His argument from the end, 'And it shall praise thee.' The 
glorifying of God was his aim. The fruit of all God's benefits is to 
profit us and praise God. Now David professeth that all the days of 
his life he should live in the sense and acknowledgment of such a 

3. The ground of his hope and confience, in the last clause, ' And 
let thy judgments help me.' Our hopes of help are grounded on God's 
judgment, whereby is meant his word. There are judgments decreed 
and judgments executed, doctrinal judgments and providential judg 
ments. That place intimateth the distinction : Eccles. viii. 11, ' Be 
cause sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore 
the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. There is 
sententia lata et dilata. Here God's judgments are put for the sen 
tence pronounced, and chiefly for one part of them, the promises of 
grace. As also Ps. cxix, 43, ' I hope in thy judgments. Promises are 
the objects of hope. 

VER. 175.1 SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 293 

The points are two : 

Doct. 1. That we may beg the continuation of life for the honouring 
of God. 

DocL 2. That God's judgments are a great help and relief to his 
people, who desire to praise him, even when they are in danger of their 

For the first, that we may beg the continuation of life, for the 
honouring of God. This point must be divided into two parts : 

1. That the principal end for which a man should live and desire 
life is to praise and glorify God. 

2. That we may desire life upon these ends. 

First, That the principal end for which a man should live and 
desire life is to praise and glorify God. This appeareth 

1. By direct scriptures: Rom. xiv. 7, 8, * For none of us liveth to 
himself, and no man dieth unto himself ; for whether we live, we live 
tmto the Lord ; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord : whether 
we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's;' and Phil. i. 20, 21, 
4 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing 
I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also, 
Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or death : 
for to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain/ 

2. By the prayers of the saints ; as Ps. cxix. 17, ' Deal bountifully 
with thy servant, that I may live,' <fcc. ; and Ps. cxviii. 17, ' I shall not 
die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.' This was David's 
hope in the prolongation of life, that he should have farther oppor 
tunities to honour God. But of this more at large, ver. 17 of this 

3. By the arguments urged in prayer : Ps. vi. 5, ' For in death there 
is no remembrance of thee ; in the grave who shall give thee thanks ?' 
and Ps. xxx. 9, ' What profit is there in my blood, when I go down 
to the pit ? shall the dust praise thee ? shall it declare thy truth ? ' 
Ps. Ixxxviii. 11-13, ' Wilt thou show wonders to the dead ? shall 
the dead arise, and praise thee, Selah ? shall thy loving-kindness be 
declared in the grave ? or thy faithfulness in destruction ? shall thy 
wonders be known in the dark ? and thy righteousness in the land of 
forgetfulness,' &c. ; and Isa. xxxviii. 18, 19, 'For the grave cannot 
praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee : they that go down into the 
pit cannot hope for thy truth : the living, the living, he shall praise 
thee,' &c. A man may praise God in heaven, but from their bodies no 
service is performed for a long while in the other world. There is no 
such service there as here ; as reducing the stray, instructing the 
ignorant, propagating godliness to others who want it, by our counsels 
and example. 

4. By reasons. 

[1.1 Life is given us by God at first : Acts xvii. 25, ' He giveth to 
all life and breath, and all things ;' and ver. 28, ' In him we live and 
move, and have our being.' Now all things that come from God must 
be used for him: Eom. xi. 36, * For of him, and through him, and to 
him, are all things,' &c., angels, men, beasts, inanimate creatures. 
He expecteth more from men than from beasts, and from saints than 
from men. Life was given for this end, and therefore not to be desired 


and loved but for this end, even God's glory. How grievous a thing 
is it to go out of the world ere we know why we came into the world ! 
We live not barely to eat and drink, as brute beasts live ; we live not 
to live as heathens. The end of our life is service and obedience to 
God ; yea, and it is the life of our lives, the perfection of them. Well, 
then, since we live by God, we must live to him. 

[2.] It is preserved by him. It is God's prerogative to kill and 
to make alive; to wound and to heal, Deut. xxxii. 39. Our life 
dependeth wholly on him. It is said, Job xii. 10, ' In whose hand is 
the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.' God 
hath a dominion over all his creatures, over every living thing, and 
man in especial, to dispose of them according to his pleasure ; not an 
hair of our heads can fall to the ground without him, Mat. x. 29, 30. 
Our life is wholly in his hands ; we cannot add one cubit to our 
stature, make one hair white or black at our pleasure. Life cannot be 
taken away without him, how casual soever the stroke is : Exod. xxi. 
13, ' If a man lie not in wait for his brother, but God delivereth him 
into his hand,' &c. Well, then, in all reason we should serve and 
glorify him who by his providential influence continueth life to us 
every moment : Deut. xxx. 20, ' Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, 
and obey his voice, and cleave unto him; for he is thy life, and the 
length of thy days/ It is a charge against Belshazzar, Dan. v. 23, 

* God, in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast 
thou not glorified.' We must not look upon ourselves as made for 
ourselves, but for God. He gave us life, and keepeth it, that we may 
wholly be at his disposing. While we have it, we must have it for 
God, that he may be glorified in the use of it ; and when he cometh 
to take it away, he may be glorified by our submitting to his domi 
nion. It is a presumption and encroachment on God's right to seek 
satisfaction to ourselves in any state, without a subordination and sub 
serviency to his glory. He that giveth and preserveth life may dispose 
of it at his pleasure ; and our life so continually preserved by him 
ought to be devoted to him. 

[3.] When he preserveth it in any imminent danger, it is twice given. 
I say, in such preservations our life is twice received from God in 
our birth, and as spared in the danger ; and therefore, in all justice it 
ought to be dedicated to his service ; 2 Cor. i. 9, 10, ' But we had the 
sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, 
but in God which raiseth the dead ; who delivered us from so great a 
death, and doth deliver; in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us/ 
Many times there is but a step between us and death, as if God were 
putting the old bond in suit, and executing the sentence of the law 
upon us. Deliverance in such a case is called a pardon and remission ; 
and even in the case of the wicked and impenitent : Ps. Ixxviii. 38, 

* He being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed 
them not/ It was but properly a reprieve for the time, a forbearance 
of the temporal judgment, not executing the sentence, or not destroy 
ing the sinner presently ; much more to a godly man : Isa. xxxviii. 17, 
' Loved' my soul from the grave/ To be loved out of a danger, and 
loved out of a sickness, that is a blessed thing, a great obligation 
upon us. 

VER. 175.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 295 

[4.] We must surrender our life to him again ; and therefore, while 
we have it, we must employ it for him, Luke xix. 23 ; into his hands 
we must resign our spirits. Every one must give an account of himself 
to God, what honour he hath by our lives. 

[5.] We shall never glorify him in heaven unless we glorify God 
on eai'th first, or carefully serve him : John xvii. 4, 5, 'I have glorified 
thee on earth ; I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do : 
and now, Father, glorify me, with thine own self, with the glory 
which I had with thee before the world was.' Here is our trial, our 
present service. Saints above are ea>/3eXei? ; that is our reward, to 
glorify God in heaven. 

Secondly, That we may desire life upon these ends ; as Ps. xxxix. 
12, ' spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence and 
be no more.' A little time of relaxation, to serve and glorify thee ere 
I die. 

1. Long life is in itself a blessing, taken into the promises, though 
more frequently in the Old Testament than in the New. Of this, see 
more at large, ver. 17. 

2. It is well sought when this is our scope, for then the request is 
lawful both for matter and end : James iv. 3, ' Ye ask and receive not, 
because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.' Life 
should not be loved but for further glorifying of God, for all our 
natural interests must be subordinate to our great end. 

Well, then, we may lawfully pray for long life, with submission to 
the will of God, and that death may not come upon us suddenly, but 
according to the ordinary course of nature. 

But how will this stand with the desires of dissolution, and willing 
ness to depart and to be with Christ, which certainly all Christians 
that believe eternity should cherish in their hearts ? 

To this I answer (1.) By concession ; (2.) By correction. 

1. By concession. It is true we are to train up ourselves in an 
expectation of our dissolution, &c. See ver. 17 more fully. But 

2. By correction. Though it be expedient to desire death, yet we 
are not anxiously 10 long after it, till the time come. For 

[1.] They do not simply desire death for itself, but as a means to 
enjoy those better things which follow after death : Phil. i. 23, ' For 
I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with 
Christ, which is far better/ It' is not our duty to love death as death. 
No ; so it is an evil which we must patiently bear, and may holily 
deprecate it ; but because of the good beyond it, it is our duty to love 
God, to long after communion with him, and to be perfected in holi 
ness. Had it not been an evil to be avoided and dreaded, Christ had 
never prayed against it ; and 2 Cor. v. 4, ' For we that are in this 
tabernacle do groan, being burdened : not for that we would be un 
clothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life/ 
It were an unnatural desire to desire death as death. A creature cannot 
desire its own destruction. Jesus Christ, before he manifested his sub 
mission, did first manifest the innocent desires of nature : ' Father, let 
the cup pass/ The separation of the soul from the body, and the 
body remaining under corruption, is in itself evil, and the fruit of 
sin : Rom. v. 12, ' And so death passed upon all men, for that all have 


sinned.' Grace is not given to reconcile us to corruption, or to make 
death, as death, desirable, or to cross the inclinations of innocent nature. 

[2.] Upon these terms, death is sweetened to them, and they readily 
submit to it. Though it be not to be desired as it is death, yet heaven 
and eternal happiness beyond it is still matter of desire to us. Death 
is God's threatening ; and we are not threatened with benefits, but 
evils ; and evils of punishment are not to be desired, but cheerfully 
submitted unto for a higher end. Nature abhorreth and feareth 
death; but yet grace desireth glory. The soul is loath to part with 
the body, but yet it is far leather to miss Christ, and be without him. 
A man is loath to lose a leg or an arm, yet, to preserve the whole body, 
he is contented to part with it. In short, the soul is bound to the 
body with a double band the one natural, the other voluntary, by love 
and affection, desiring and seeking its welfare. The voluntary bond is 
governed and ordered by religion till the natural bond be loosed, either 
in the ordinary course of nature, or at the will of God. 

[3.] There are certain circumstances in death which do invite us to 
ask longer life in order to this end ; as 

(1.) God's children would not have the occasion of well-doing or 
self-denying obedience taken from them too soon ; so great is their 
love and desire of gratitude to God, that they would yet longer praise 
God in this self-denying way. Death would shut their mouths. 

(2.) They would not be taken away in a cloud, or before they see 
the issue of some present trials on the church or them. They have no 
will to die till the sense of wrath be removed : Ps. xxvii. 13, * I had 
fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the 
land of the living.' 

(3.) They may have some design a-foot for God, and therefore are 
desirous of a little more time to attain this design ; therefore pray to 
God to prolong their lives a while : Kom. xv. 31, 32, ' Now I beseech 
you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake, and for the love of the 
Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me, 
that I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judea : and 
that my service which I have done for Jerusalem may be accepted of 
the saints, that I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and 
may with you be refreshed.' 

(4.) To breed up their children in the nurture of the Lord, and that 
they may be useful in their families, as Jacob desired to see Joseph. 

(5.) We may beg it that we may not fall into the hands of men, 
lose our life by murderers : Ps. xxxi. 15, * My times are in thy hand ; 
deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that per 
secute me.' The dispensation of all mercies, comforts, troubles, life, 
death, are in God's hand, not in man's power ; therefore we pray that 
it may rest there, that we may not be given up to the will of those 
that hate us. * 

All these desires have a respect to the glory of God, and if conceived 
with submission and trust, that God will do what is for the best, they 
are all lawful. 

Use of all. 1. Exhortation. It presseth you 

1. To consecrate yourselves to God: Kom. xii. 1, * I beseech you 

VER. 175.] SEUMONS UPON PSALM cxrx. 297 

therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies 
a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable 
service.' Under the law the bodies of beasts were to be slain ; yours 
is a living sacrifice. Both were set apart for God, the one to die, the 
other to live to God. 

2. Having given up yourselves to God, use yourselves for God : there 
will be an inquiry what share God hath in your time : Acts xxvii. 23, 
' The God whose I am, and whom I serve.' 

3. Praise the Lord with heart, mouth, and life. A Christian's con 
versation is nothing but a hymn to God : 1 Peter ii. 9, ' But ye are a 
chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, 
that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of 
darkness into his marvellous light.' The virtues of God, his attributes. 

4. Whenever you pray for continuance of life in any danger or dis 
tress, either for yourself or others, propound this as the end, not so much 
your own satisfaction as the honour of God. A Christian is not con 
tent to have the use of the benefit to himself alone. 

[1.] For self. Every man desireth life. The whole world would 
all and every of them put this request to God, ' Let my soul live ;' but 
very few consider why they should live. Some desire life only to please 
the flesh, and that they may enjoy the delights of the present world, a 
brutish wish. A heathen could say, he doth not deserve the name of 
a man, qui unam diem velit esse in voluptate, &c., certainly not of a 
Christian, that would desire life merely to enjoy the delights of the 
flesh. These would not leave their riot's trough to go home to their 
father. Some there are who desire life to see their children well 
bestowed, or to free their estate from incumbrance, and are loath to 
part from their natural relations, wife, children, friends. This is a 
natural respect, and should be subordinate to a higher end. Though 
this desire, keeping its place, may be lawful, yet, out of its place, sinful. 
We use to profess, Ps. Ixxiii. 25, ' Whom have I in heaven but thee ? 
and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.' 

In short, two motives I will urge why the glory of God should have 
the chief respect in our affections : 

(1.) The benefit it giveth, hope of prolonging life, if this desire be 
true and real ; and it giveth certain assurance of not perishing for ever. 
The one it doth, for God doeth all things with respect to his glory, 
Ps. cxix. 94. The other also, for he will glorify those that glorify him. 
(2.) This is the temper of a sincere Christian. Surely to a believer 
it is a piece of self-denial to be kept out of heaven longer ; therefore 
it must be sweetened with some valuable compensation ; something 
there must be to calm the mind, and contentedly to spare the enjoy 
ment of it for a while. Now next to the good pleasure of God, which 
is the reason of reasons, there is some benefit we pitch upon ; there is 
nothing worthy to be compared but our service : if God may have 
glory, if our lives may do good ; a gracious heart must be satisfied with 
gracious reasons. 

[2.] For others. If we make it our request, we must have the sanif 
aims in this case, that the faith and grace of others may benefit them : 
Mark ii. 5, ' When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the 
palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee.' Now in such requests bare natural 


reasons should not move us, but that God may not lose an instrument 
of his glory, and that his power and providence may be more seen in 
the world in the recovery. It is good to beg of God for God : Ps. 
cxv. 1, ' Not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.' It should be 
accounted as a mercy unto us : Phil. ii. 27, ' For indeed he was sick 
nigh unto death, but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, 
but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow/ 

5. This end is known by the use in having and submission in asking. 

[1.] The use in having, how we use a mercy when we have it, if we 
do indeed live to the glory of God, and the rather for these experiences. 

[2.] Submission in asking, whether we fight or are crowned, work 
or receive our reward ; for God is the best judge of what is most for 
his own glory. 

Use 2. Direction" ; but of this see ver. 17. 

I come now to the second point. 

Doct. 2. That God's judgments are a great help and relief to his 
people, who desire to praise him, even when they are in danger of 
their lives. 

Here I shall show (1.) What are God's judgments ; (2.) How 
they are a help. 

First, What is the meaning of misphalim, judgments here ? 

1. God governeth the world ; that is called judgment : Ps. ix. 7, 8, 
* He hath prepared his throne for judgment, he shall judge the world 
iu righteousness ; he shall minister judgment in uprightness.' So 
John v. 22. When the government is put into the hands of Christ, 
it is said, ' For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all 
judgment unto the Son.' 

2. God governeth the world according to this word ; there is his 
judgment concerning things and persons, stating what is good and 
evil ; the reward of the one, and punishment of the other : Ps. xix. 9, 
' The judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.' The 
precept is the rule of our duty, the sanction of God's process. There 
fore in scripture the punishments of the wicked are sometimes called 
judgments ; so also the rewards of the righteous, as ver. 43 of this 
psalm. The word pronounceth concerning every man's condition. 
His delivering of the righteous : Ps. Ixxviii. 8, 9, * Thou didst cause 
judgment to be heard from heaven ; the Lord arose to judgment, to 
save the people of the earth.' The moderation of their affliction : Jer. 
x. 24, ' Correct me, but with judgment ; ' that is, his merciful judg 
ment, according to the new covenant dispensations. Punishment of 
sins, that they are judgments we are sufficiently convinced of and 
sensible of it. Well, then, he prayeth that that of the word may be 
executed either (1.) By breaking his enemies, and giving them the 
merit of their doings ; or, (2.) That his promises may be accomplished 
by sending him help and relief in his troubles. 

3. This government is to be observed, for it confirmeth the word : 
Heb. ii. 2, ' For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every 
transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward, 
how shall we escape if we neglect? ' &c. ; and he punisheth them ' as the 
congregation have heard.' Carnal men attribute all to chance, but 
God's people observe his word. 

VER. 176.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 299 

Secondly, Now these judgments must needs be for a holp to God's 
people, because the word of God speaketh more good to them than it 
doth to others ; and if God judgeth according to his word, they may 
conclude that his children are never finally forsaken, nor will their 
enemies escape unpunished. There will be an accomplishment of pro 
mises, and an execution of threatenings, which is a comfort to them 
that walk uprightly. 

1. In the general case, it is a relief to us ; for God hath a provident 
care over all those that desire to honour and glorify him ; their hopes 
will not altogether be frustrate. Keep his commandments, and it will 
turn to good. They shall have seasonable preservation according to 
God's promised and wonted mercies. 

2. In the particular case of contests and conflicts with the wicked, 
he will punish enemies and reward the faithful. This is the tenor of 
the word. And to this word of God he ascribed his deliverance. Not 
this power, or this means, but thy judgments held me. God doth not 
deceive us with vain promises ; when matters are strangely carried on 
in the world, here is our comfort. 


/ have gone asiray like a lost sheep : seek thy servant ; for I do not 
forget thy commandments. VER. 176. 

THESE words are the close of the whole psalm. In them observe 

1. A representation of his case, or, if you will, a confession of his sin, 
I have gone astray Wee a lost sheep. 

2. A petition for mercy, seek thy servant. 

3. A protestation of obedience by way of argument, I do not forget 
thy precepts. 

The chiefest matter that needs to be opened is the representation of 
his case, ' I have gone astray like a lost sheep/ Sheep are animalia 
gregalia, such kind of creatures as naturally gather together and unite 
themselves into a flock. Many other creatures live single and apart ; 
they may sometimes sort together, yet are oftener severed and kept 
asunder : but the property of sheep, and their safety, is to come to 
gether in a flock. But now, when they are out of the flock, then they 
are exposed to all manner of misery, and therefore a strayed sheep is 
usually put in scripture for misery and sin, Isa. liii. 6 ; Mat. xv. 24. 
Lost sheep are represented as those that are ready to perish. Now the 
business is whether this similitude here mentioned be to be interpreted 
of David's misery or his sin. Interpreters are divided, both ancient 
and modern. The similitude itself is applicable to either, and accord 
ingly used in scripture. Sometimes it is put for sin : Isa. liii. 6, ' All 
we like sheep have gone astray/ Sheep are creatures very subject to 
stray and wander, especially if driven by wolve^or dogs ; and sometimes 
by a disease, a sort of madness incident to them, follow not the rest of 
the flock : the Arabians call it tsunall (Bocliart). And so they would 


have it signify here his going astray out of infirmity, from the way of 
God's commandments. Or else sometimes the condition of strayed 
sheep is put for misery ; as Hosea iv. 16, ' The Lord will feed them as 
a lamb in a large place.' A lamh that is out of the fold goes up and 
down bleating to seek the fold again, and some company with which it 
may join itself. It is spoken of them that affected liberty ; the Lord by 
his prophet tells them they should have liberty enough, but little for 
their profit and comfort ; leave to wander in the world, and should bleat 
alone, bewailing their solitude and danger, and be exposed as a prey 
to the next wolf. He would not feed them in the flock and body of 
the Israelites together, but would scatter them by exile and banish 
ment, so that there should be Israelites amidst many Assyrians, like a 
lamb bleating up and down that is gone out of the fold. Some think 
David here represents his misery, when he was a banished exile from 
the assemblies of the faithful ; not living like a prince in his palace, 
but wandering from place to place to shift for his life, as a poor sheep 
doth that is driven from the flock, exposed to beasts of prey ; and thus 
it befell him in the case of Saul's and Absalom's persecution. If this 
be the meaning, the following clauses must be suitably expounded : 
' I have gone astray like a lost sheep : seek thy servant ;' that is, con 
sider my affliction, and in thy good time relieve me and restore me ; 
and the last clause, ' For I do not forget thy precepts : ' he did- not for 
get his duty, whatever his condition was. 

If we should follow this sense, it yields us these points : 

1. That a believer may be driven from place to place, in perpetual 
hazards and distresses, wandering up and down like a strayed sheep, 
driven by the wolf, and scattered from the fold : 1 Cor. iv. 11, ' We 
have/ saith the apostle, ' no certain dwelling-place.' 

1 2. In such a case we may with confidence go to God, the good 
shepherd, who hears the bleating of the poor wandering sheep, takes 
care of them, seeks them, and reduceth them into the fold. 

3. That whatever befalls us, we should still go on in the way of 
obedience : * I have gone astray,' &c. ; driven up and down, and yet, 
* I do not forget thy precepts.' When God seems to forget us, we 
should not forget his precepts. These points might profitably be in 
sisted upon. 

But because many ancient and modern, both Jewish and Christian 
interpreters, understand it of sinful errors, and the words will com- 
modiously enough bear this sense, and it being a similitude very fre 
quently used in scripture, to compare the faithful to sheep, and God to 
a shepherd, I shall handle the words with respect to this interpreta 
tion : * I have gone astray,' &c. We may all of us make this confes 
sion to God, we are too apt to straggle from our duty, and we all of us 
need to make this petition to God, to beg his watchful providence and 
shepherd-like care over us ; and we may do it with encouragement to 
be heard of God, if our hearts are unfeignedly set to keep his law, that 
God will hear us, and keep us from our wandering. 

Doct. That a Christian that is obedient for the main, yet may run 
into many failings and errors of life. 

David was right for the main course of his life. He professeth here 
he did not forget God's precepts, he did not cast off the yoke of his law ; 

VER. 176.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 301 

but yet in particular acts he acknowledgeth he did err and fail, and 
went astray like a lost sheep. And so many who are God's own ser 
vants, that do not forget his precepts, may thus err and go astray. 

First, In.our natural estate, man is of a straying nature, apt to turn 
out of the way that leadeth to God and true happiness. The Holy 
Ghost sets forth the degeneration of mankind by the similitude and 
emblem of a strayed lost sheep : Luke xv. and Isa. liii. 6, ' All we like 
sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way.' 
Mark, he speaks of our estate by nature collectively and distributively. 
Collectively and in common, ' All we like sheep have gone astray. 5 And 
distributively, ' Every man to his own way.' We all agree in forsak 
ing the right way of pleasing and enjoying God, but we disagree, as 
each one hath a bypath of his own. Some are running after this lust, 
some after that, and so are not only divided from God, but divided 
from one another, whilst every one makes his own will his law, quic- 
quid velit, licet. As the channel is cut, so corrupt nature in every one 
finds an issue and passage : Ps. xiv. 3, ' They are all gone aside ; they 
are altogether become filthy ; there is none that doeth good, no not one.' 
Some run this way, some that way ; some are enslaved by pleasures, 
others are captivated by the honours of the present world, and some 
are oppressed by the cares of this life. Every man hath his way of 
sinning and running away from God. But, however, the emblem and 
similitude of the Holy Ghost is to be considered, that our departing 
from God and his ways is like the straying of a sheep. What doth 
that note ? 

1. In general it implies this, that we are brutish in our sin and 
defection from God, led by sense, fancy, and appetite ; and therefore 
our condition could not be expressed but by a comparison fetched from 
the beasts. Silly sheep are carried away by their fancy and appetite 
from the flock : Ps. xlix. 12, ' Man being in honour, abideth not ; he is 
like the beasts that perish;' that is, he abode not in the honour of his 
creation. Some would render it ' for a night.' Adam ' abode not for 
a night.' What we translate man, is Adam : the excellency and dig 
nity wherein God had set us ; he became like a beast. How is man 
like a beast ? We are governed by our senses and lower appetites. 
The senses are grown masterly and inordinate, so eagevly set upon their 
objects, that they will not be reclaimed, and man's life just like that of 
the brutes ; it is things of the same nature we value and adhere unto, 
terrene and earthly things, the comforts of the animal life ; and as we 
have the same objects, so the same ends, to enjoy our sensual pleasures, 
and satisfy our fleshly minds as long as we may; now what is this but 
to suffer the beast to ride the man ; to put reason and conscience in 
vassallage, and subjection to sense and appetite ? 

2. This similitude is used to show our proneness to err. There is 
no creature more prone to wander and lose its way without a shepherd 
then the sheep. Sheep are creatures subject to straying if they be not 
kept in the pasture ; so all men are obnoxious to erring and straying : 
Jer. xiv. 10, ' They love to wander.' It is a delight to us to be 
pleasing our flesh and gratifying our carnal senses. So Ps. xcv. 10, 
' It is a people that do err in their hearts.' We do not only err in 
our minds, but err in our hearts. To err in our mind is to err out of 


ignorance, but to err in our heart is to err out of sensual obstinacy ; so 
are we carried away with the desires of the flesh, think ourselves 
never better than when we run away from God. Ah ! the best of 
us is soon out of the way. If God takes off his guidance, and leaves 
us to ourselves, we are apt to transgress the bounds wherewith God 
bath hedged up our way, and make it our business still to be running 
away from the chief good, into the bushes and thickets of carnal 
error, wherein we are entangled. 

3. Our inability to return, and set ourselves into the right way 
again ; for we stray like sheep, not like swine and dogs. Swine and 
dogs, though they wander, they will find the way home again ; but 
a sheep is irrecoverably lost without the shepherd's diligence and care : 
Jer. 1. 6, ' My people have been lost ; they have gone from mountain 
to mountain, theyTiave forgotten their resting-place/ So should we 
run, and keep running away from, and forget our resting-place. I 
remember Austin in his meditations hath this passage, Domine errare 
potui, redire non potui Lord, I could go astray by myself, but I can 
not return of myself. The sheep easily straggle, but it is the shepherd 
must bring home the lost sheep upon his own shoulders, Luke xv. 5. 
And to this we may apply that of the prophet, Hosea xiii. 9, '0 
Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help.' We could 
destroy and ruin ourselves, but we cannot recover and save ourselves. 
The shiftless infant can defile himself, but it is the nurse must cleanse 
it, and we ourselves can fall from God, but to recover us to God, that 
is the shepherd's care. 

4. It shows our readiness to follow evil example. A sheep is 
animal sequax, a creature that runs after the drove, they run out of the 
gap one after another, and one straggler draws away the whole flock. 
When the apostle speaks of the sinful state of mankind, Eph. ii. 2, 3, 
he reckons up example as one : ' Walking according to the course of 
this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit 
that now worketh in the children of disobedience.' In that place 
there is the devil, the world, and the flesh. There is the prince of the 
power of the air, and there is the course of this world (that I quote it 
for now), there is Satan, corrupt example, and evil inclination, all 
which are depravers of mankind, and all concur to our ruin and 
destruction. We easily swim with the stream and the torrent of 
common example, do as others do, and so mutually propagate and 
receive taint from one another. Imitation is not the whole cause of 
sin, but propagation and inclination of nature, yet imitation and 
example doth much to the perverting of the world, and increasing 
wickedness and fleshly-mindedness makes us addicted to worldly 
vanities, and so we run with the fowl into the snare, walking accord 
ing to the course of this world, Eph. ii. 2 ; Isa. vi. 6, ' I am a man of 
polluted lips, and I dwell among a people of polluted lips/ We 
have sin within, but it is mightily increased by example without ; 
by dwelling among those that are polluted, we are more defiled ; we 
catch sickness one of another, we do not get health one from another; 
as in the law, by touching an unclean thing a man was made unclean, 
but not on the contrary. We, being polluted ourselves, are more defiled 
by others, by conversing with them. We live among them that are 

VER. 176.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 303 

neglectful of God, and unmindful of heavenly things, and we come 
also to grow more so ourselves. 

5. To represent the danger of straying. Sheep when they are out 
of the pasture, are in harm's way, exposed to a thousand dangers : 
Jer. 1. 7, ' All that find them have devoured them.' So are we in 
danger to become a prey to the roaring lion, who goes about seeking 
whom he may devour, and to the dogs and wolves that are abroad. 
In his sinful state man is a sheep, whom no man taketh up, out of 
God's protection, and a ready prey for Satan, taken captive by him at 
his pleasure, 2 Tim. ii. 26, till the Lord recover him by repentance. 
Thus God forms, represents, and points out our condition before con 
version. Certainly before we were converted to God we were as sheep 
wandering in our ignorance and sinful ways to our own destruction, 
and in hazard to be preyed upon continually by the roaring lion. 

Secondly, See if it be better with us after conversion. For here is 
a man of God ; he saith, ' I have gone astray like a lost sheep/ Now, 
after grace received, though our heart was set to walk with God for 
the main, yet we often swerve from our rule through ignorance or 
through inadvertency, and sometimes are blinded by worldly desires 
and fleshly lusts, and so transgress our bounds and neglect our duty : 
Ps. xix. 12, ' Who can understand his errors ? ' Our errors are so 
many, who can bear them all in mind ? who can know and remember 
them all ? I say, even the best, who are tender of displeasing and 
dishonouring God by sin, they have their errors, yea, and sometimes 
too their foul faults. 

Let me a little show this. 

1. There are some unavoidable infirmities and frailties which we 
cannot get rid of though we fain would ; as Kom. vii. 15, ' What I 
hate, that do I ;' and ver. 19, ' The good that I would, that I do not ; 
and the evil that I would not, that do I ;' and Gal. v. 17, ' The flesh 
lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, so that ye 
cannot do the things that ye would.' A true Christian would love 
God more perfectly, delight in him more abundantly, and bring every 
thought into subjection to his will. He would get rid of the fountain 
of sin, of natural concupiscence, and of the stirrings of envy, lust, 
pride, anger ; but alas ! the spirit that worketh in us lusteth to envy, 
and bewrayeth itself in these carnal affections. These are aberrations 
from the strict law, which God hath given to us, but such as men 
are subject unto in this state of frailty. Though they be hated, 
resisted, though they be restrained in a great measure, that they do 
not break out into gross acts, yet a child of God cannot get rid of them ; 
though this fire is not blown up but smothered, yet in some degree it 
burns in our bosoms ; there is life in it still. 

2. There are other things which they might get rid of if they would, 
and yet they are not always so happy as to withstand it ; certain sins 
that are avoidable by the ordinary assistances of grace which God 
vouchsafes to his people, yet a believer may relapse into them many 
times. Men are not always so watchful, nor is the bent of their 
hearts so strongly fixed in them ; and there is very much security in 
the saints, and they run into the snare till they be awakened either by 
some powerful convictions or some smart affliction ; as David saith, 


Ps. cxix. 67, ' Before I was afflicted, I went astray.' The best of 
God's children many times in their peace and prosperity they fall 
asleep and forget themselves, and so let some infirmity still be upon 
them, before God doth awaken them, and bring them to themselves 
again. Hezekiah was no sooner settled in a peaceful estate, but 
presently he forgets himself, and suffers pride to steal upon his heart, 
till the Lord humbled him for the pride of his heart, 2 Chron. xxxii. 
25, 26. When all things went happily with him, he was recovered out 
of his sickness, and had congratulatory messages from the princes of the 
nations round about him, and lived in great prosperity, then his heart 
was lifted up. Some carnal distemper may grow upon us, or evil prac 
tice we may fall into. David, when he had gotten a carnal pillow 
under his head, he lay down and slept, and dreamt of nothing but 
prosperity, a perpotual uninterrupted temporal happiness, Ps. xxx. 6. 
He was full of carnal complacency, until God made him look about 
him. Thus by our carelessness do we often provoke God to use sharp 
remedies. There are some are not avoidable, but left for humiliation ; 
but those that are avoidable by such ordinary assistances of God's 
grace to his people, yet many times, through our folly and inadvertency 
and sleepiness of conscience, we run into them. 

Having showed the kinds of these sins, let me now show the causes, 
why many times those whose hearts are right with God, that do not 
forget his precepts, yet they go astray like lost sheep. 

1. The first cause is their present imperfection. Though grace 
doth heal all the faculties, yet it doth not totally heal them, or wholly 
overcome the weakness which is in them. God promiseth to put his 
law into their hearts and minds, yet both the understanding and will, 
and all the inferior faculties, they are but in part sanctified. You 
know our soul is divided into two parts, into the r)<yr)fjLoviKov, and the 
faculties which should command and direct, and into the faculties 
which should be commanded and directed. The commanding facul 
ties are called spirit, and the faculties which should be commanded 
are called soul. The reason, or the incitation, the affections, the dis 
positions, which incline us to things good for us, there is a weak 
ness in all these. Whence comes all the weaknesses and errors of the 
saints ? There is a defect in the leading or commanding part of 
the soul, which is the understanding and the will. In the under 
standing is the directive counsel, and in the will is the imperial power. 
Now the understanding, which should direct and guide us, is blind 
and sleepy, and not so vigilant and watchful as it should be ; and so 
in many cases it proves but a dark and imperfect guide and director 
to us, and so we err like lost sheep. We have not always so clear and 
so deep a sense of our duty as we ought, and find not such lively, 
powerful, and effectual thoughts of God and heavenly things, and so 
clear a sense, so that the directive part fails us. Then for our wills, 
which should command us where the imperial power resides, they are 
imperfect. There is, I confess, in the regenerate a sincere will to 
please God in all things, but it is not a perfect will ; so that our will 
ing and nilling, our consent and dissent, is not so powerful as it ought 
to be ; but the will being tainted by the neighbourhood of a distem 
pered sense, it yields a little, and bends to the flesh, and gives way to 

VEU. 176.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 305 

evil, and many times it opposeth that which is good ; at least we are 
often overtaken in a fault, being inconsiderately and suddenly sur 
prised, as the apostle useth that expression, Gal. vi. 1, ' If a man be 
overtaken in a fault.' Though a regenerate man hath a new light put 
into his mind, he is renewed in the spirit of his mind, though he hath 
a new bent and bias put upon his heart, yet the imperial and directive 
power have flesh in them still, and the wisdom of the flesh is so in 
grained and kneaded into our natures, that it cannot be totally dispos 
sessed, no more than we can sever the leaven and the dough when once 
they are mingled together. If there be a defect in the governing and 
leading part of the soul, there will be disorders in the life and conver 

Come we now from the r^^oviKovj the leading faculties, to the 
faculties which should be commanded and directed. Alas ! they are 
by sin grown obstinate and masterly, and are so eagerly set upon their 
objects (carnal vanities) that they will not be reclaimed, but rebel 
against the direction of conscience and inclinations of the renewed 
will. The apostle speaks of a law of his members warring against the 
law of his mind, Kom. vii. 23. In the lower, in the most sensitive 
faculties, there is much headstrong opposition against the directions of 
the will. We have but a slender feeble guide. The leading part of 
the will is defective, and there is much of the wisdom of the flesh 
there. It is a trouble to the flesh to be restrained from what it de 
sires and inclines us to, as a headstrong horse is loath to be governed; 
therefore we yield and suffer ourselves to be transported and led away 
by our passions and carnal affections. Now, though the rebellious 
and disobedient disposition of the appetite and senses is in a great 
measure broken and subdued in us by the power of grace, yet the best 
have somewhat of inordinate sensuality and weakness, and being im 
perfect, are tempted by the world and sense, as well as others. Well, 
then, ever weigh in your mind for your direction these two grand 
reasons of all the weakness that is in the saints, there is the debility 
and the weakness of the leading and commanding part, and the rebel 
ling of the inferior faculties, which should be ruled and commanded. 
(1.) The debility and weakness of the leading and commanding part 
of the soul. And thence is it that we are so inconsiderate, so dull of 
apprehension, have such dark and ineffectual thoughts of God and 
heavenly things ; and thence is it that the will doth not so potently 
and rulingly command the directive faculties, but is apt to yield to, 
that it doth not stand upon its authority as it was wont to do. (2.) 
The other part is the rebellion of the inferior faculties, and stubborn 
ness of our sensual and carnal inclinations. Look, as in a kingdom 
and commonwealth, where are rebellious subjects and a feeble empire, 
things must needs run into disorder, so here the reins are managed very 
weak ; there is a feeble empire in the soul, and here are strong rebellious 
desires not easily controlled, and so draw the soul away. To make this 
more evident a little, I shall show the order of all human operations, if 
rightly constituted. Their actions are governed in this manner : The 
understanding and the conscience, they are to guide and direct the will ; 
the will, according to right reason and conscience, moves the affections ; 
the affections, according to the counsel and command of the under- 

VOL. ix. u 


standing and will, move the bodily spirits ; the bodily spirits, they 
moye the senses and members of the body. But now by corruption 
there is a manifest inversion and change, for bodily pleasure doth affect 
the senses, the senses corrupt the phantasy, the phantasy moves the 
bodily spirits, and by them the lighter part of the affections. The 
affections by their violence and inclination captivate the will, and blind 
the mind, and so the man is carried headlong to his own destruction. 
Now, though this servitude be in a great measure broken in them that 
are called unto the liberty of God's children, they are not slaves to their 
lusts, and the vain pleasures of this life ; yet too too often the senses 
are too masterly, and too too often transmit objects into the soul in 
a rebellious way, against the command of sanctified reason and con 
science. Affections are stirred by thoughts, and thoughts by objects 
thus represented. " I am the larger in this, that you may more per 
fectly understand the reason of the weakness of the saints. 

2. The violence of temptations. As sheep may be driven out of the 
pasture by the wolf, so is a poor soul hurried into evil to commit known 
sin, or omit known duty, by the incursion and shock of temptations, 
though for the main he doth adhere to Christ by faith, love, and new 
obedience. Thus Peter was drawn to deny Christ, and many are 
drawn in the violence of a passion to do things which their hearts do 
utterly condemn and disallow. In a storm it is hard for a skilful pilot 
to steer aright ; and though it be dangerous to dash against the rocks, 
yet Christians come off without a "total shipwreck, though they may be 
sore bruised and battered. In such hurries God's children may go 
astray, but God will not suffer them to be totally lost. David wandered 
far as well as Saul, but God sought David again ; he would not lose 
him so. A strong temptation may drive us out of the way, as sheep 
when thieves come are driven out of the fold, whither else they would 
not have gone. 

3. The Lord may withdraw himself for just and wise reasons, and 
then, when the shepherd is gone aside, we have neither wisdom to 
direct ourselves nor strength to defend ourselves ; as when Moses went 
away for a while, how soon did Israel corrupt their way ! So if God 
be gone, we see how little we can keep ourselves. God left Hezekiah 
to try him, 2 Chron. xxxii. 31. God will show us what is in our hearts, 
and that our standing is not of ourselves. We represent ourselves to 
ourselves in a feigned likeness, and therefore God will truly show 
ourselves to ourselves. We do not know what pride and passion and 
carnality lies hid in our hearts when he is present, warming, comforting, 
quickening, guiding, directing the soul in the way to life. Now, God, 
by withdrawing, will show us the folly of our wisdom, and the weakness 
of our strength, and the pride of our humility, and the passionateness 
of our meekness. Divines distinguish of desertion ; they say that there 
is desertio correctiva, and desertio erudativa a desertion by way of 
correction, 'and a desertion by way of instruction. Sometimes, by way 
of correction, because of former sins, or some unkindness, or ungracious 
dealing with God God withdraws ; and there is a desertion by way 
of instruction, to teach us to know the sovereignty of grace, and to 
know our own weakness. Usually both go together in the same dispen 
sation. It is very hard almost to imagine that the same dispensation 

VEK. 176.] SERMONS UPON PSALM cxix. 307 

should not be both instructive and corrective. But the reason why 
they distinguish thus is this, because some dispensations are more 
clearly for correction, and others more clearly for instruction, but 
usually they go together. We provoke the Lord by some slight or 
unworthy dealing with him, and then the Lord corrects us, and corrects 
us that he may instruct us, to see our all depends upon him, and how 
he should be prized in these things. 

4. The fourth reason is some special disease, it may be not yet 
cured, in our going astray like a lost sheep, even though our hearts be 
right in the main with God. It may be some corruption too that they 
cherished, some carnal interest which is too near and dear to us ; 
either worldly, ambitious, or sensual lusts. Though these reign in 
the unconverted, yet they dwell too much in a heart that is gracious, 
and so may prevail sometimes to turn us away from God ; something 
there is which we may call our iniquity, Ps. xviii. 23. Though in 
the general we keep ourselves from it, as an upright heart will, yet it 
may sometimes foil us. 

Use 1. Let us stand upon our guard. Oh ! let us not leave the boat to 
the stream, for there is an erring straying disposition in a great mea 
sure left in the people of God. Consider, Satan is subtle and assiduous 
in tempting : 1 Peter v. 8, ' He goes about like a roaring lion ; ; he is 
searching up and down after the prey, and an unwary and unmortified 
soul soon falls into his snare. The flesh is ready to close with the 
temptation as soon as it is presented ; and therefore the best of God's 
children had need be circumspect and diligent : ' Watch and pray that 
you enter not into temptation/ Mat. xxvi. 41, lest you be surprised 
unawares by some sin or other. There is enough corruption in every 
one of you to betray you to it, if you be not aware ; and your resisting 
graces are very weak and imperfect in degree, and (which is one con 
sideration more) the danger of a fall is very great, for thereby God is 
dishonoured, 2 Sam. xii. 14, and your own peace is mightily ruffled : 
Ps. xxxii. 3, 4, ' My moisture was turned into the drought of summer, 
and I was filled with roaring all the day long.' Yea, and a stumbling- 
block is laid befoie others, and you may destroy those for whom Christ 
died; and woe be to men by whom offences come, Mat. xviii. 7. 
Under the law, the Lord ordered that if two men strove and hurt a 
woman with child, that her fruit departed from her, he should surely 
be punished. To hinder birth was counted murder, so to hinder those 
that are coming on by any sins of yours in a way to life. If the 
offence be foul, you may feel it long afterward, as an old bruise is felt 
upon every change of weather ; and this sin may cost you dear, though 
your salvation be secured. This should make us stand upon our 
guard ; it shows that a Christian should live in constant vigilancy and 
daily conflict with sin, and deny