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The Lord God our Sun and Shield.
PSALM LXXXIV, 11.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory;
no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.
"HE pious author of this beautiful Psalm appears to
have been in a desolate state, a state of trouble and distress when he wrote it : In particular, he seems to have been at a distance from the house of God, and for the present deprived of the benefit of all public ordinances; hence he begins the Psalm in the following striking manner, " How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts; my soul longeth, yea even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh criech out for the living God.”
He expresses the highest regard for divine ordinances, and at the same time gives us to understand, it was 'the enjoyment of communion with God, in his brdinances, that his soul so vehemently thirsted after: “My heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God:" How happy would it be, if all who attend upon the worship of God were of the same mind with the Psalmist, were athirst for bis powerful and gracious presence, 'to be manifested in the assemblies of his people.
He pronounces those happy, who are blest with the great privilege of constantly waiting upon God, in his own house: ** Blessed are they that dwell in thine house, they will be still praising thee.” They shall be blest with the presence of the God whom they worship, and in waiting upon him 'shall renew their strength, so that they will have abundant cause to praise the Lord, for his renewed mercies bestowed upon them. These shall go from strength to strength, till every one of them in Sion appear before God: They will increase in spiritual strength, as they travel forward in the good ways of God: Not like travellers, who upon
long journey are weary and faint before they get to the end of it; and the farther they go, the more feeble they grow:
No, those who are travelling to mount Sion, being strengthened with might by the Spirit of God, in their inward man,, the nearer they come to the end of their journey, the stronger they will be; the nearer they come to heaven, the more of heaven they enjoy in their own minds.
He expresses the highest regard for the worship of God, when he says, “ A day in thy courts is better than a thousand: I had rather be a door-keeper,” or I had rather sit upon the door threshold, I had rather sit in the lowest place, or be employed in the meanest office, in the house of God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.” day in thy courts is both more pleasing and more profitable to me, than a thousand days spent in any other employment whatsoever. If David was the author of this Psalm, then what an asconishing difference between thę King of Israel, and too many of the great and right honour. able men, of the present age! How seldom do they attend upon the worship of God? How little are they concerned for the honour of his sacred Name, the prosperity of his work, or the establishment of his kingdom? Alas! we have still to lament with the Apostle, That not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. Their hearts are in general too much alienated from God, therefore as they have little taște or relish for spiritual worship, they find little or no pleasure in the courts of the Lord, but a theatre or a ball will afford them greater happiness, such as it is, than the tabernacles of the most High God.
But David, who was advanced by the Lord himself, to the very highest degree of human honour, riches, power, and grandeur: David, who was not only a great and powerful Prince, but it is probable, the greatest that then was upon the face of the earth, thought it the highest honour to be a worshipper of God, and his chief happiness to live in the enjoyment of communion with him." And in the words of the text, he gives a very sufficient reason for being of this judgment, • The Lord God is a sun and șhield; the Lord will give grace and glory; and no good thing will he withhold from them who walk uprightly. Now nothing can be more certain than this, that if the Lord will make good what he hath here promised, as he certainly will, then those who walk uprightly are the happiest people upon the face of the earth.
In discoursing upon the words, it may, (by the blessing of the Lord) be profitable to enquire,
First, Into the character of those, who may be said, upon scriptural grounds, to walk uprightly.
Secondly, Let us consider the proper meaning of the several promises here made unto them.
And first, Let us consider the character of those, who according to God's own word, may be said to walk uprightly.
Now as an evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit, none can (according to the sacred Scriptures) be said to walk uprightly, till they are first made upright, or in other words, till they are truly converted to God. For if man is a fall.. én, degenerate creature; if he is carnal, and sold under sin; if the carnal mind is enmity against God, and is not subject to his holy law; and if they who are in the flesh cannot please God; then it tollows, of course, thạt divine grace must be communicated, and an entire change wrough in the mind, before any one can walk uprightly.
God," we know, “ made man upright, but he hath found out many inventions.” He is fallen from that holy and happy . state, and is become a sinful, guilty, and helpless creature.
It may be allowed, that a particular person here and there may be met with, who not being favoured with the unspeakable advantage of sitting under a Gospel ministry, may in a limited sense of the word, be said to walk uprightly. These men, like Cornelius, may live under the influence of the fear of God; may sincerely desire, and earnestly endeavour to please God, according to the light they have; and therefore may be said, in a very low degree, to be upright. But wherever such a person is found, surely the God of Love will by one means or another, send him the help he needs: 'As he sent St. Peter to preach the blessed Gospel to Cornelius, in answer to his many prayers, and he who had been groping his way in the dark, was brought into marvellous light and glorious liberty; so will the Lord deal with all such, and they also shall be brought into his favour and family; and then they will walk uprightly, in the proper sense of the word.
So likewise a truly awakened, or a penitent sinner, may in a limited sense of the word, be said to walk uprightly; that is, such a person sincerely desires to obtain salvation, in God's own way, and upon his own terms: Being enlightened by the Divine Spirit
, they see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and fly from it; and seeing the necessity of obtaining an interest in Christ, they seek it with their whole heart: They bring forth fruit meet for repentance, and carefully and constantly attend upon all the ordinances of God,
and sincerely enquire, “What must I do to be saved ?". These men may thus far be said to walk uprightly..
But strictly and scripturally speaking, no one can walk uprightly, until he is created anew; or till he experiences a work of grace in his own soul. The Son of God must make us free, before we can be free indeed, tree from the bondage of sin and corruption, free to serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear. Such is the dark. ness of the human understanding, that the light of God must shine into it, ere we can see how we ought to serve God, the nature of his service, or what he requireth of us; nor till then, shall we see the absolute necessity we are under to serve God. Such is the perverseness of the human will, that it can never be brought into subjection to the will of God, till it is conquered by the power of
and so dreadfully are the affections alienated from God, and so deeply are they disordered by sin, that till they are renewed by the Holy Spirit, we never shall truly. love, desire after, or delight in God: and therefore shall not, cannot walk uprightly. But let the light of the Sun of Righteousness shine into the mind, let the peace of God flow into the conscience, let the divine nature be communicated to the soul, and then the man being made upright, is brought into a proper state of mind for walking uprightly.
A person having this experience may be said to walk uprightly, when with a single eye, or with a pure intention, he constantly endeavours to glorify God, in all he thinks, speaks, or does, at all times, in all places, and on all occasions. The Apostle's rule is this, “Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever else ye do, do all to the glory of God.” Here, on a great variety of occasions, we have only to ask our own heart, as in the presence of God;
Have I good reason to believe this or that, will be for his glory? Can I do it with a good conscience?" If we are truly sincere, we shall seldom be left to doubt in such
cases; but supposing we are at any time, then we ought to take care to keep on the safe side, and not to do any thing with a doubting conscience; for he who doubteth (in this sense) is condemned in his own mind.
Many will impertinently ask, on various occasions; “Pray, where are such and such things forbidden in the word of God? How do you, for instance, prove, that going to a play, a ball, or á horse-race, is sinful in his sight? These things, say they, are not so much as mentioned in the Scriptures; we should be glad, therefore, to hear how
you prove them to be contrary to the will of God?" Perhaps the only reason why such things are not mentioned by name in the word of God is, they have been invented' by the god of this world since the Scriptures were finished, and were not in use in those days. But do not they all come under the same condemnation with the other works of the flesh? Are they not all, and many more such like, included in that one word, revellings? And it so, are they not ranked even with adultery and murder ? But if some will not allow this, then I would ask any one, Do you seriously think that you can go to a play, or sit down at a card table, with a single eye to the glory of God? Can you lay your hand upon your breast, and solemnly appeal to an heart-searching God; • Lord, I believe this is well-pleasing in thy sight, and I am now glorifying thy blessed name!” Or I would ask, Would you wish to meet God when at a ball, and can you desire to take your flight into the eternal world from such a place, or from such employment? I believe there are few, who are so blinded and hardened by sin, but they would shrink at such questions. But if such triflers with God and their own souls, must needs have Scripture proof, then I would ask, What do you think of such passages as these? “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;,” and many more of the same sort.
Can they possibly think, that they are redeeming the time, which they have already lost, when at the play house? Are they not rather squandering more of that inestimable blessing away? O how many are there in the dark regions of eternal night, who would give ten thousand worlds, if they had them, if they might only have the time back again, which they spent in attending upon those foolish diversions, so that they might repent and turn to God. Can any one think that he is working out his salvation with fear and trembling, when he is found at a card-table? Might he not as justly think, that he is in the temple, with Anna the prophetess, and that he is neither thinking nor speaking of any thing else, but of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the nature of his spiritual kingdom, as just ready to be established in the world?
He who would walk uprightly must always take the word of God for the rule of his conduct, the Spirit of God for his guide, and the grace of God to assist him on all occasions.
1. He must take the word of God for his rule. Here the way in which he ought to walk is clearly pointed out.