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pressions, thus hastily formed, were draw near to him when they apvague and erroneous; and that proached the habitation where his those who consider the dispensa- lionour dwelt; and the priest who tions of Heaven as unjust or un- offered at the altar, or passed into equal, are blinded by their own the holy place, in this sense drew ignorance.
The Psalmist was near to the Lord. The words, taught to look far beyond the therefore, are naturally transferred little incidents which had formerly in use to the adoration wbich be so much disturbed bim : be per- received, and to the requests of bis ceived that there is a God who worshippers. In the New Testagoverns the world ; that the ine- ment the phrase is adopted in a qualities of his government exist more extensive sense ; and in this only in appearance ; and however way it is used by the Psalmist as prosperous may seem the lot of showing a disposition to hold the wicked, and however afflict. converse with his Maker, and, in ing the depression of the just, the full meaning of the words, to yet that the way of righteousness walk with God. is the way of wisdom, and that the Now, in wbat way was this pur. upright alone are the truly blessed. pose to be effected, and what do He gives it in the end as the deli. the words imply. berate conviction of his mind, “It They imply, 1st. That he would is good for me to draw near to draw near to God in the service of God.”
devotion. In examining this passage, we It does not appear that this Psalm may consider,
was written by David ; but there I, What is meant by drawing can be no question that the author near to God; and,
of it was under the influence of the II. The benefits which result same Spirit which was found in the from it.
Singer of Israel. And who that There is a sense in which all reads the songs of that sacred penpersons may be said to be near to man can be ignorant of the zeal God; for “ in him we live, and move, and ardour with which he gave and have our being: he is about himself to tbe service of the Lord ? our bed and about our path, and His whole heart was engaged in spieth out all our ways.” But the the duty. How many times did words of the text show that there the solemnity of night bear witness is something peculiar in the inten- to his devotion ! How often did he tion of the Psalmist; and that, in raise his voice before the dawning making this declaration, he proposed of the day, and repeat his sentito himself to follow a path which is ments of praise in the evening, in not universally trod. The expres- the morning, and at noon! Thus sion is figurative ; and the simple did he draw near to God when none interpretation of the passage will observed him, and in the retirement best be deduced from attending to of his own chamber hold commuthe figure. We are said to draw nion with the Lord. And with near to a person when we enter into what alacrity did he go into his his presence, or come into more courts! How anxious was be to imamediate intercourse with him meet his God in the assemblies than we had hitherto possessed. of his people, and to unite with Hence the propriety of this mode all that loved and feared him in apof speaking in relation to God. proaching to bis footstool ! As there was one place where he Some there are in every age, condescended in an especial and who draw near to God with their peculiar manner to abide, so that lips, while their beart is far from the token of his presence was him : but what was the disposition visibly seen, men were said to of the Psalmist? When David
approached him, it was with inte- 2. It is further implied in the ex- “1 grity of heart. Under the teach- pression of the text, 5 to draw ing of the Holy Spirit, he had near to God," that we live contilearnt to come before the Lord with nually in the señse of bis presence, an acceptable worship. He was and in habitual dependence upon conscious that he had entered into him. the presence of Him who is the The truth of this observation Searcber of hearts ; and his earnest will appear by considering the prayer was, that he might be clean. general scope and object of the sed from every evil way. He came Psalm. The Psalmist bad been in the spirit of deep humility; for considering the state of several he felt and knew that the God persons, who lived according to whom he approached was glorious the desires of their own minds, in in majesty, and fearful in holiness : utter ignorance of Divine things, and that he was himself a sinful and and without any regard to the will guilty creature. He approached of their Creator. They appeared to with filial fear, being persuaded have set their affections upon the that, like as a father pitieth his things of this life, and to have children, so the Lord pitieth them given themselves no concern about that fear him. He looked up to the Author of all their mercios, him with a feeling of hope, being The whole of their conduct affordassured that though he is high, yet ed evidence that they were habihath be respect unto the lowly; and tually living in a state of alienation that he will hear the cry of his from God: they discarded him people, and will not reject their from their thoughts, and seemed prayer. He 'lifted up his hands almost to forget his existence. The with cheerful dependence to the writer, on beholding their conduct, God whom he served, as the Au. appears to reason thus :
" I now thor of his life, and the God of his see the characters of these men, salvation , whose will bad called and I perceive how utterly worthhim into being, whose Providence less are their pursuits. Let them had protected him, whose gracious follow their devices ; let such as promise was pledged to his sup. have no desire for better things ac- . port. Many there are who bend cumulate earthly possessions, and the knee, while the spirit is unbro- forsake their God. It is good for ken: they can make melody with me to draw near to him. As for me, ** their voice, when there is no melody I will serve the Lord; my hope in their hearts: they profess to and my trust shall be reposed in praise God with unfeigned lips : Jehovah: I will live in the constant They appeår devoutly to solicit his recollection of his presence, and protection, and to entreat his for- in the conviction of his faithfulgiveness :--but how little in such ness. This was the rule which be cases is the mind affected ; and how determined to follow through life. distinct from those feelings of hope, He knew that he was in no respect and love, and gratitude, which exempted from the afflictions of kindled the devotion of the Psalm- mortality, nor the temptations inciist, are the dispositions of worship- dent to the righteous. But the pers like these! It is the offering principle of faith implanted in his of the heart which God requires of mind, was a triumphant principle : all them that approach him ; and · and as often as his heart might be unless the soul is engaged in his depressed and his spirits ready to service, it is to little purpose that sink within him, we may still be we profess to draw nigh to Him, assured that he cherished the refor he will not draw nigh to us : flection, “ It is good for me to by such prayers be will not be draw near to God. In him alone entreated.
will I place my dependence : and GARIST. OBSERV. No. 182.
whatever be the dangers or cala- counsellors : thy law is my delight.” inities of life, under the shadow We do not cite these passages as of his wings will I hide me, till this descriptive of the character of the tyranny be overpast.' “I have Psalmist alone : wherever there is get the Lord always before me.” a mind rightly disposed toward Such was the disposition of the God, wherever there is a beart Psalmist, and such also was the which habitually draws near to bim, practice of St. Paul.
• The life that inind will also rejoice in bis which I now live, I live by the service, that beart will be glad in faith of the Son of God, who loved bis salvation. We find the same me, and gave himself for me.” He spirit in the Apostles of Christ : stood upon holy ground, and all we discover it in those tbat followthe circumstances of bis eventful ed them : and if we have no expecourse were unable to shake his rience of a similar nature in the confidence.
sacrifice of prayer and thanksII. The Psalmist not only expresses giving, or wbile meditating on the bis intention thus to draw near to word of the Lord, it is too plain an God in the service of devotional indication that, as we want the worship, and in the daily habits of spirit of these boly men, so we are bis life, but he declares, that it destitute of their principles : we was good for him to do so. We are far from God. The Psalmist proceed, therefore, in the second did not make his feelings the test place, to consider the benefits of his religion : but he walked which result from it.
in the society of his God, and reFirst, It is a service of delight. joiced in this communion ; his dis
What other subject has given position was suited to the service: rise to so many and such lofty tes- he drew near to God, and he was timonies of heart-felt exultation as glad to do it. Nor did be delight the service of the Lord ? When- only in the service of praise : he ever he turns to this topic, the delighted also in the statutes and sacred writer seems almost to be commandments of the Lord. carried beyond his own powers
of It is good to draw near to him, We have only to in the second place, because it is open the Book of Psalms, and we a service of profit. shall find evidence of his delight It has its benefits in relation to in every page. “ I will praise thee, both worlds: it is valuable for the O Lord, with my whole heart : 1 present life, and it leads to eternal will show forth all thy marvellous glory. works. I will be glad and rejoice In the beginning of the Psalm in thee: I will sing praise to thy the writer describes himself as name, O thou Most High.” “How being much surprised at the prosamiable are thy tabernacles, o perity of the wicked. He saw that Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, they had health and strength, and yea, even fainteth, for the courts of abundance of the comforts of life, the Lord: my heart and my flesh wbile many of the righteous were crieth out for the living God. overwhelmed with trouble. He Blessed are they that dwell in thy was ready to exclaim, “ Verily I house ; they will still be praising have cleansed my beart in vain, and thee!" "A day in thy courts is washed my hands in innocency: better than a thousand : I had ra- for all the day long have I been ther be a door keeper in the house plagued, and chastened every mornof
my God, than dwell in the tents ing:" but when he went into the of ungodliness. “Lord, what sanctuary of God, then he underlove have I unto thy law! all the stood the end of these men. He day long is my study in it.” “ Thy found that all their riches and prosfestimonies are my delight and my perity were of no real services
It is upon
for“ lo! they that are far from thee the present life, and one with reshall perish. But it is good for ference to the future. me to draw near to God." I find If there be a period when conthat this is the way to lasting pros. solation is more especially needed, perity : I see that by these means and the presence of Jehovah is I shall have the benefit of the most peculiarly to be desired, it wisdom which is withheld frorn is in the solemn hour when this the wicked, “ for he shall guide earthly tabernacle is dissolving, me by his counsel :" and I shall and the spirit is upon the verge of receive of that God, whose service the eternal world. How valuable I have chosen, durable riches and at such a inoment is the favour of righteousness.
God! how welcome at that hour If we should demand what are must be the light of his countenance the immediate benefits of this in- to the departing soul! tercourse with Heaven : they are to that moment that the Psalmist fixes, be seen in all the communications of as offering the best and brightest the Holy Spirit; not merely in ex- evidence of the happiness of those ternal guidance, but in that devotion who draw near unto God. He of the heart, in that purity of prin speaks with the devotional elevation 'ciple, in that elevation of charac- of one whose energies were all ter, which distinguish the people absorbed in the love of his Divine of God. If it be good to derive Protector; who felt that heaven itstrength from the Lord; to be fur- self would cease to be a place of bapnished with all might in the inner piness, if that countenance should man, so as to be victorious in the be withdrawn which enlightens the day of trial ; this is the privilege of chamber of death! “ Whom have I them that draw near to bim: “ they in heaven but thee? And there is that wait upon the Lord shall re- none upon earth that I desire bea new their strength: they shall sides thee. My flesh and my heart mount up with wings as eagles ; faileth, but God is the strength of they shall run, and not be weary ; my beart, and my portion for ever." and they shall walk, and not With the last struggles of mortality faint."
he connects the entrance into life : If it be good to have an abiding bis heart is strengthened, in the sense of the Divine presence, to decay of nature, by that God who bebold by the eye of faith Him that is waiting to receive him to the is invisible, to dwell upon the per. arms of his mercy, and to be his fections of bis nature, to catch everlasting portion. some resemblance of his image, And is it not good, then, to draw and to be animated by those hopes near to God? Is it an object of and expectations which serve to desire to be relieved from misery raise this mortal creature above the and pain, to be delivered for ever regions of mortality ; these also are from the touch of evil, and to be, the blessings and benefits bestowed blessed in eternal felicity? Is it upon them that draw near to God. the wish of our minds, to be reLet us draw nigb to him, and he will leased from the fear of death, to draw nigh to us. And if God draw finish our course with joy, and to nigh to us, it is a pledge that he have an abundant entrance into will give to us every blessing of the Kingdom of our Father--to which we stand in need, and that walk in his heavenly courts, and no good thing will be 'withheld to dwell in bis glorious presence ? from us.
This is the sure reward of thein The Psalmist points out, in two that seek bim : this is the portion important particulars, the benefits of those that draw near to God : resulting from this communion be will bless them in time, he will with God; one with relation to bless them to all eternity
This subject may be made use- the grace of God, and to the mani. ful to us by leading us to examine festations of his Spirit, we would say, the state of our souls, and the nature Seek ye the Lord while he may be of our religious services. Does he found: seek him through the inwho searcheth the beart and trieth tercession of his Son; it is good to the reins, discover in us those draw near to him; but it is a fearprinciples, and that sincerity of ful thing to continue strangers to devotion, which the Psalmist pos- his love: to such he will declare, sessed ? Would not many blush on the last day, “I never knew with shame if the thoughts and you: depart from me, ye workers inclinations which distract their of iniquity.” minds, even in the hour of solemn And to them that are travelling worship, were exposed to the view under the guidance of their Lord, of each other? In what light, then, and in the way of bis appointwill our service appear to the ments, I would address the exhorSearcher of hearts, to whom all tation, “ See that ye walk circumdesires are known, and from whom spectly.” Many circumstances will no secrets are hid? Consider the arise to tempt you back to the qualifications required by the Apos- world, and to shake the steadfasttles of Christ, in those that draw ness of your minds. This every near to the Lord. They are to ap- Christian has found. The service proach him with a lively faith in on which you have entered requires The Saviour of sinners, with deep you to be vigilant, and to persehumility and contrition of soul; vere: but to do this, in all cases it they are to humble themselves in is necessary to draw near unto God. his sight, that he may lift them up; If we could inquire of those boly and they are to be sincere and up- men, who stood in the first ranks right before him. If we come in a of the army of Christ, and had trial
spirit, we have every encou- of bonds and imprisonment, and ragement to approach the Throne the extreme violence of bodily sufof Grace. A new and living way fering, they would tell us, that alhas been consecrated for us by the though these things are in themdeath of our Saviour, so that we selves not joyous but grievous, yet may have boldness to enter into
are they compensated even now by the holiest by the blood of Jesus. nearness of intercourse with God. Let us draw near, then, by that live His Spirit helps our infirmities : ing way, with a true heart, in full his love comforts our bearts; and assurance of faith. It is by Jesus we rejoice to know that nothing Christ alone that we have access shall separate us from his favour. to the Father ; by that Saviour to And if, like some of the disciples whom the Psalmist looked forward of old, any of you should incline as the propitiation for sin, and in to walk no more with him, think whom he believed as the way, the wbat dangers you incur, and what Truth, and the Life. By nature and privileges you abandon; low great practice we are all afar. off from and precious are the promises Salvation : but we are brought nigh which you slight, and the blessings by the blood of Christ; by his that you relinquish! The ways of death, and passion, and mediation; Wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and through faith in his name may and all her paths are peace : she we now be reconciled to God, gives the promise of the life that and God to us.-Thus only can now is, and of that which is to we be enabled to meet hiin in
come ;--the promise of all that can his ordinances, and to walk with make life desirable, of all that can him in the way of his command- afford tranquillity in death, and ments.
happiness beyond the grave. ConTo such, then, as are strangers to tinue then to walk in the truth ;