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would come in due time, and sooner in this in any other they could take.
Observe these things; beware of sin, and ye shall understand the loving kindness of the Lord. It is true, this love of God changes not, nor hangs on thy carriage, nor any thing without itself; yea, all our good hangs on it: but know, as to the knowledge and apprehension of it, it depends much on the holy frame of thy heart, and exact regulation of thy ways. Sin obstructs and darkens all: these are the clouds and mists; and where any believer is adventurous on the ways of sin, he shall smart for it. Where sin is, there will be a storm, as Chrysostom's word is of Joshuah, the experience of all witnesseth this: no strength of faith will keep out floods of doubting and troublous thoughts, where any novel sin hath opened a gap for them to rush in by. See David, Psal. li. expressing himself, as if all were to begin again, his joy taken away, and his bones broken, and to sense all undone; nothing will serve but a new creature. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
There is a congruity in the thing itself, and God hath so ordered it, that vexation and anguish still attend sin, and the ways of holiness be ways of peace. Say men what they will, great falls leave wounds and smart behind them, and they must be washed with sharper liquor before balm and oil be poured into them. And not only will more notorious breaches disturb thy peace, but a tract of careless and fruit, less walking. If thou abate of thy attendance on God, and thy fear cool towards him, lagging and falling downwards to something you are caring for and taken with, you shall find an estrangement, may be, insensible at first, and for a while, because of thy sloth, that dost not observe diligently how it is with thee; but, after a time, it shall be more easily known, but more hardly mended: and there is none of us but might find much more of God in this
b σε αμαρτία, ἐκεῖ χειμων.
our way homewards, if the foolishness and wandrings of our hearts did not prevent us.
Be persuaded then, you whose hearts he hath wrought for himself, to attend better on him, and the advantage shall be yours: doubt it not; and though for a time you find it not, yet wait on, and go on in that way, it shall not disappoint you. The more you let go of the false vain comforts of the world for his sake, the more richly you shall be furnished with his. Oh! we make not room for them; that is the great hindrance: consider him, behold his works, bless him, confess him always worthy of praise for his goodness, and his wonderful works to the children of men, however he deal with thee in particular; and assuredly he shall deal graciously with thee; and ere long thou shalt find, and be forced to acknowledge it: though it may be thou want these bright shinings of comforts thou wouldst have, yet, looking to him, and walking before him, observing these things, thou shalt have of his light to lead thee on, and a calm within; 'sweet peace, though not that height of joy thou desirest.
There are often calm fair days without storm, though it be not so clear sun-shine, and in such days a man may travel comfortably. I would have christians called off from a perplexed over-pressing this point, of their particular assurance. If we were more studious to please him, forgetting ourselves, we should find him remember us the more; yet not for this neither, but simply for himself. In a word, this is thy wisdom; mind thy duty, and refer to him. thy comfort.
PSAL. cxix. 96.
I have seen an end of all perfection; but thy commandment is exceeding broad.
RACE is a divine light in the soul, and shews the true colours of things. The Apostle overshoots not, when he says, The spiritual man judgeth all things: He hath undeniably the advantage: He may judge of natural things, but the natural man cannot judge of spiritual things; yea, the truest judgment of natural things, in respect to our chiefest end, springs particularly from spritual wisdom, that makes the true parallel of things, and gives a just account of their differences, as here.
I have seen an end, &c. All that have any measure of spiritual light are of this mind, but certainly they that are more eminently blest with it, have a more high and clearer view of both parts. David, who is generally, and with greatest likelihood, supposed to be the author of this Psalm, was singularly advantaged to make this judgment of things: He had, no doubt, a large measure of the knowledge of God and of his law, which here he declares to be so large; and being both a wise and a great man, might know more than most others, even of all other perfections, trace them to their utmost, and see their end, as he expresses it. This same verdict we have from his son Solomon, after much experience in all things; who having the advantage of peace and riches, did particularly set himself to this work, to a most exact enquiry after all things of this earth: He set nature on the rack, to confess its utmost strength, for the delighting and satisfying of man;
with much pains and art extracted the very spirits of all; and, after all, gives the same judgment we have here, his book writ on that subject being a paraphrase on this sentence, dilating the sense, and confirming the truth of it. It carries its own sum in these two words, which begin and end it, that vanity of vanities, and all is vanity; and the other, Fear God, and keep his commandments, that is the whole duty of man: And these here are just the equivalent of these two; the former of that beginning word, I have seen an end of all perfection; and the latter of that, but thy commandment is exceeding broad. And when mean men speak of this world's greatness, and poor men cry down riches, it passes but for a querulous peevish humour, to discredit things they cannot reach, or else an ignorant contempt of things they do not understand; or, taking it a little further, but a self-pleasing shift, willingly undervaluing these things of purpose, to allay the displeasure of the want of them; or at the best, if something of truth and goodness be in the opinion, yet that the assent of such persons is (as the temperance of sickly bodies) rather a virtue made of necessity, than embraced of free choice: But to hear a wise man, in the height of these advantages, proclaim their vanity, yea, kings from the very thrones whereon they sit, in their royal robes, to give forth this sentence upon all the glories and delights about them, is certainly above all exception. Here are two, the Father and the Son; the one raised from a mean condition to the crown; instead of a shepherd's staff, to wield a sceptre, and that, after many afflictions and dangers in the way to it, which to some palates gives a higher relish and sweetness to honour, than if it had slid on them, before they could feel it, in the cheap easy way of an undoubted succession. Or, if any think David's best days a little cloudy, by the remains of insurrections and oppositions, in that case usual, as the jumbling of the water not fully quieted for a while after the same is
over; then take the son, succeeding to as fair a day as heart can wish, both a compleat calm of peace, and bright sun-shine of riches and regal pomp, (and he able to improve these to the highest ;) and yet both these are perfectly of the same mind in this great point. The Son having peace, and time for it, though a king, would make his throne a pulpit, and be a preacher of this one doctrine, to which the Father's sentence is the fittest text I have seen.
The words give an account of a double prospect; the latter, as it were, the discovery of a new world after the travelling over the old, expressed in the former clause, I have seen an end of all perfection, i. e. taken an exact view of all other things, and seen their end; but thy commandment is of exceeding extent and perfection, and I see but a part, and there is no end of it.
I have seen an end.] I have tried and made experiment of much of what this world affords, and the rest I see to the uttermost of it, how far it reaches. The Psalmist, as standing on a vantage ground, sees clearly round about him the farthest horizon of earthly excellencies and advantages, and finds them not to be infinite or unmeasurable, sees that they are bounded, yea, what their bounds are, how far they go at their very farthest, an end of all, even perfection; and this is in effect what I find, that their end drops short of satisfaction. A man may think and desire beyond them, yea, not only may, but must; he cannot be terminated by their bounds, will still have a stretch further, and feels them leave him, and then finds a void: All which he says most ponderously in these short words; giving the world the slight, thus, "It is not so great a matter as men imagine it; the best of it I have examined, and considered it to the full, taken the whole dimension: All the profits and pleasures under the sun, their utmost goes but a short way; the soul is vaster than all, can look and go much farther."