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done even now, (by men of sound understanding, without any piety at all,) that the Bible is the word of God. What could that do for you, except you had good ground to hope that you had yourselves that special reliance upon Christ, that practical living faith to which all the promises are made ? And how can you know this ?—Assuredly not at all, till such time as you are converted and “are become as little children ;" till such time as your hearts are changed, and you are become a people zealous of good works.” In other words, not at all, till you shall know whom you have trusted, by having in yourselves a witness of experience that he is faithful and just “ to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” A man may prove Christianity to be true without this inward testimony, but without this I defy him to prove himself to be a Christian.
Pray, therefore, for a faith which may affect your hearts, otherwise, with all your religious knowledge, your case will exactly resemble that awful one which St. Paul supposes, when speaking of himself he says, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” *
1 Cor. ix. 27.
THE SORROW OF THE GODLY FOR THE SIN
OF THEIR BRETHREN.
PSALM cxix. 136.
“ Rivers of waters run down mine eyes,
because they keep not thy law.”
“ Fools,” says Solomon, “make a mock at sin." In their estimation, it is a very trifling matter. They live in much careless commission of it themselves, and when they see their neighbour guilty of it, instead of pitying, or praying for him, or admonishing him, they can jest or laugh at what he does, or, at least, they look upon his conduct with utter unconcern. But they know not what they do. Men of wit, as possibly they may be; men of skill in worldly business ; it is, nevertheless, only because they are fools, — fools in a degree so gross and awful, that they neither fear God nor regard man-It is because such is their character, that so they act. All they whose eyes the Lord hath opened, and who possess, accordingly, the only true wisdom, are of another mind. “O! that my head were waters," says Jeremiah, “ and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people.”* And, “Rivers of waters," says David, “run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.” I purpose, by God's assistance,
1. First to consider David's conduct, together with the reasons of it.
II. And then to address a few words of admonition and exhortation to the different sorts of persons, respectively, whom the doctrine of the text concerns.
I. And, first, as to David's conduct, and the reasons of it.
The words express the depth and bitterness of his grief, - even rivers of tears ran down his eyes; so powerfully was his mind affected : and they declare also what was the occasion which moved him. It was the knowledge he had, of the way in which sin abounded all around him, and his sense of the dreadful evil which such prevalence involved. Men would not keep the law of God. That was it which troubled him. Now the wise man tells us, “There is a time * Jerem. ix. 1.
to weep."* And the question for our consideration is, was this the fit time? or had David sufficient reason for his conduct? For on this it depends, whether he acted wisely and piously, and in a manner acceptable to God; or whether his behaviour was weak and extravagant, and consequently unworthy of our imitation.
See, then, what the breaking of the law of God is, and what must come of it. Is it, indeed, a sad and serious thing, productive of sad and serious consequences; or is it that trifle which it is taken to be by too large a portion of mankind ?
1. The Law is the mind of God, made known to man. The rule prescribed by man's Maker, and Master, and Judge, to whom he is accountable, and shall actually give account at last, for showing him what he shall be, in heart and mind and affections; and what he shall do, in thought, word, and action, in order to please God, to answer the ends for which God created him, and to become meet to dwell with God eternally. In itself, the whole law is “ holy, just, and good ;"! and “in the keeping of it,” in the very thing itself, “there is great reward." I In proportion, I mean, as any man is conformed to it, and observes it, in heart and life, he becomes the nobler, the better, the happier being. For such obedience to it implies and comprehends the love of what, indeed, is lovely; and the hatred of what, indeed, is hateful: and the outward habit of obedience strengthens the right principles from which it proceeds, and reacts upon them, so that the man grows continually in meetness for glory; or, in other words, both in likeness to God, and in capacity for seeing God in heaven. But, on the other hand, in the breaking of the law, in the very thing itself, there is a grievous downfall. In proportion as the commandment is rejected, and the man will not be led by it, and the prohibition is overleaped and sin committed, the noble faculties of man are prostituted. His nature is degraded ; his very mind and conscience are defiled; he becomes unfit for the ends for which God formed him, and incapable of the happiness for which God designed him. For how should he be made happy by seeing God, when his mind is become contrary to him, and is enmity against him? in which evil state, nevertheless, he becomes necessarily more and more confirmed, as the habit of sin proceeds. So that in
* Eccles iii. 4. † Rom. vii. 12. † Psalm xix. 11.