« PreviousContinue »
the feelings of the king are absorbed in the concern of the worshipper for the ordinances of religion. Infidels may indeed endeavour to explain this, by supposing that David was a man of a melancholy turn of mind, and that like other weak and gloomy persons, he fought relief in devotional exercises, when he should have been engaged in forming wise counsels, and adopting vigorous measures. But let us attend to his real character. He was the hero of the age, and had immortalized his name by numerous exploits. In him were united the prowess of the foldier, and the skill of the general; and a fuccefsion of the most brilliant victories had procured for him the highest confidence, as well as the highest honour. He was qualified to rule as a judge, and to govern as a politician. To all these he added the charms of poetry and music, and “the “ harp of the son of Jesse still continues to drive
away “the evil spirit.” Nevertheless he passes by all thefe distinctions; every other exercise, every other pleafure, gives place to one ; in this he centers all his happiness" ONE thing have I desired of the Lord, that “will I feek after; that I may dwell in the house of
the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beau
ty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple.” “ How amiable are thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hofts!" “ Blessed are they that dwell in thine house ; they will “ be still praising thee.” “For a day in thy courts " is better than a thousand ; I had rather be a door“ keeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the “tents of wickedness." Such was the language of his decided preference; nor was it the ebullition of enthusiasm. He speaks “ the words of truth and fober
“ ness ;” he gives solid reasons for his predilection. The house of God had afforded him multiplied advantages; there he had experienced divine manifestations and influences; there he hoped to enjoy fresh communion, and renewed supplies ; “ For the Lord God “is a Sun and Shield ; the Lord will give grace and
glory, and no good thing will he withhold from " them that walk uprightly." Let us examine these words in a sense more detached and general. Let us contemplate “ the Lord God” we adore in the fanctuary ; let us consider what He is—"A SUN AND SHIELD.'
What He GIVES
What He WITHHOLDS-OS NO THING;" and whom HE REGARDS THEM THAT WALK UPRIGHTLY,'
GRACE AND GLO
Part I. If God, my brethren, speaks to man, He must condescend to employ human language, not divine.' He has done so; and behold nature and art lending their combined powers to aid the weakness of our apprehension. Nature furnishes us with a fun, and art with a shield ; and all that is implied in these images, and more than all is God to his people.
He is a “Sun.” Who can be ignorant of the glory and importance of this luminary in the system of nature ; always the same ; dispelling the horrors of darkness ; making our day; gladdening, fertilizing, and adorning the whole creation of God ? Every thing here below is changeable and perishing ; “the grass " withereth, the flower thereof falleth away ;' himself partakes of the general instability. How many empires has the sun beheld rising and falling! how many
generations has it seen successively descending into the grave ! how many new possessors have occupied yonder. estate ! how many fresh classes of labourers have toiled in yonder field ! while the same fun, from the beginning, has annually called forth the produce. At this moment I feel the very fun which “beat upon the “ head of Jonah.” While I speak, mine eye sees the very fame fun which shone on the dial of Ahaz;"> and “stood still in the valley of Ajalon ;" the very same fun which saw our Saviour “ going about doing “good;" Noah stepping forth from the ark; Adam walking in the garden of Eden. It has fhone near fix thousand years, but it is unaltered ; it has been perpetually dispensing its beams, but it is undiminished
l; it has blessed myriads, but it is not less able to cheer
Kindle a thousand lamps or fires, they will not enable
you to discern the sun ; the sun can only be seen by his own light. As he discovers himself, fo he renders every thing else visible ; by means of his rays the volume charms us, we hail the smiling face of friendship, we pursue our callings, and shun the dangers to which we are exposed.
any man walk “ in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the “ light of this world.” “ The sun ariseth;” “ man goc eth forth to his work and to his labour until the “ evening.” The illumination of the sun is progreffive. The dawn is neither clear nor dark; night reluctantly resigns its sway; it struggles for a while, but by and by it yields; the shadows retire, the clouds disperse, the mists and fogs evaporate before the rising orb; and “the shining light shineth more and more “ unto the perfect day;” and “truly the light is
“sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold " the fun.” Nature smiles; the birds welcome his approach ; the lark rises up, and sings as he ascends ; the little lambs are sportive with the fympathy; children are eager to go abroad. How welcome is the return of the fun after the dreary hours of night, and the chilling weeks of winter! See those poor creatures, who are blessed with it only a few months in the whole
year; see them on its return, climbing to the tops of their frozen mountains, with longing eyes, straining to catch a greedy glance! Though the fun be so immensely remote, we feel him near; what a penetration, what a potency is there in his rays! how he warms, enlivens, fructifies ! David tells
" there “is nothing hid from the heat thereof :" Moses speaks of the precious things put forth by the sun.” For without his influences, vain would be the labour of the ox, and the skill of the husbandman ; he produces the loveliness of spring, and the abundance of autumn. He“ renews the face of the earth ;" he decks all nature in charms. I imagine myself abroad in the depth of winter ; I look around me; all exhibits a scene of defolation ; the earth is covered with snow; the rivers are sealed up with ice; the vegetable tribes are dead, and the tuneful dumb; favorite walks and beloved gardens, like friends in adversity, are abandoned by their admirers; “ He fendeth abroad his ice “ like morsels, who can stand before his cold?” I rush in ; and after the lapse of a very few months, I come forth, and take a fresh survey. I am filled with wonder. The ground is dressed “in living green;" the woods are covered with foliage “ where the birds “ build their nests," and indulge their songs; "the “ flowers appear on the earth.” What has the sun been doing ? He has perfumed the rose, he has painted the tulip, he has made “the vallies to stand thick “ with corn, and the little hills to rejoice on every
side;" “ he has made all things new.” And who is not reminded by all this of One,“ who " is the Father of lights, with whom there is no va“ riableness, or shadow of turning ?” And He only can be known by his own discoveries ; “ as it is writ
ten, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor haye “ entered into the heart of man the things which God “ hath prepared for them that love him. But God “ hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit : for the
Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of “God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, “save the spirit of a man which is in him ; even so the “ things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of 6 God."
“God is light;" he scattered “the dark“ness which covered the earth ;" “ through the ten“ der mercy of our God, the day-spring from on high “ hath visited us, to give light to them that fit in dark“ness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet “ into the way of peace.”
“He who commanded “ the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our “hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the
glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.' He has opened “ the eyes of our understanding;” subdued our prejudices ; fixed our attention; and given us a taste capable of relishing the sublime truths of his word : He has called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.” His people are not strangers tą