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PSALM CXII. 4.
in the Darkness:
ODLINESS, faith St. Paul, harh the Promise of this Life, as well as of that which is to come. Of this Pro position of his, the Psalm we have
now before us, may seem to be an Explication or Paraphrase.
For in this Pfalm Two Things are designed, a Description of the Pious Man; and a Defcription of his Blessedness in this Life: Each of which is done in Five Instances or Particulars.
The Terms wherein the Pious Man is here describd, are these following;
First, He is one that feareth God, and greatly delightesh in his Commandments, ver, I.
Secondly, He is one that is Righteous and Upright in his Conversation, ver.4, and 6.
Thirdly, He is one that is Prudent and Difcreet in the managing of his Affairs, ver. 5. He guideth his Affairs with Discretion.
Fourthly, He is one whose Heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord, ver. 7.
Laftly, He is one that is extreamly Charitable. He is Gracious and full of Compassion, ver.4. He sberetb Favoår, and lendeth, ver. 5. He hathe dispersed, he hash given to the Poor, ver. 9.
Now the Blessedness of such a Man as this, as to this Life, is describ'd in the Five Loftances following
The First of which is, A great and happy Posterity; thus, ver. 2. His Seed sball be mighty upon Earth; the Generation of the Upright fall be blessed.
The Second is, A Plentiful and an Ample Fortune; thus in the Third Verse, Riches and Plenteousness shall be in his House.
The Third is, A lafting Fame and Reputation; thus again in the Third Verse, His Righa teousness remaineth for Ever; and likewise in the Sixth Verse, He shall be had in everlasting Remem. brance.
The Fourth is, Honour and Power, and Dignity, even such as shall excite the Envy of the Wicked ; thus in the Ninth Verse, His Horn shall be exalted with Honour, the Wicked fall see it, and shall be grieved, &c.
The Fifth is, Great Safety and Peace, in the midft of dangerous and troublesome Times: Thus in the Text, To the Upright there ariseth Light in the Darkness, i. c. Light in the greatest
Straits and Difficulties; for that is the meaning of Darkness in this place. Times of Darkness in the Scripture: Language are evil, and difficult, and dangerous Times. Now upon Account of this Light that ariseth to the Upright Man in evil Times, it comes to pass as it followeth, ver. 6, 7, 8. that such a one shall not be moved for Ever, neither ball he be afraid of Evil-tiding ; for bis Heart is established, and he sball not shrink un, i til he feeh is Defire upon his Enemies. Or, as the Chaldee perhaps better renders it, until he fee Redemption in Distreß.
This is the just Analysis of the whole Pfalm. Now of these several Characters, whereby the Pious Man is describ'd, I have pitch'd upon that of his Uprightness to give an Account of, and to recommend to you at this Time. And of the several Instances of the Blessedneß of such a Man, I have pitch'd upon that of Safety and Peace, in the midst of perilous and troublesome Times. These Two Points I have chosen to entertain you upon, as judging them most suitable to che present Occasion, and to our present CircumAtances. And we find them both join'd together in the Words of the Text, To the Upright there ariseth Light in the Darkneß.
Here then we have Two Things to contider, First, The Perfon to whom the Promise here made, or the Blessedness here mentioned, doth belong, It is the Upright Min. Secondly, The Promise, or the Blefjednes itself, It is Light in Times of Darkneß.
I begin with the Character of the Person to whom this Promise is made, He is the Upa
right Man, or, as in our more common Language we express him, the Honest Man, the Man of Integrity. We all know io well what is meant by these Words, that it would render the Thing more difficult to offer Critically to give Light to them. As all those General Terms whereby a Man's whole Duty is exprefs'd in Scripture, have their several Respects and Considerations, which difference them one from the other, though they be all equally comprehensive ; fo hath this Term of Uprightnes. That which it immediately and particularly respects, is the Goodness of a Man's Principles, and the Suitableness of his Actions to them. “Or thus, The Conformity of a Man's Mind to the Eternal Rules of Righteousness, and the Conformity of his Actions to the Principles of his Mind. This is that upon Account of which any Person is denominated Upright; and contrary to this is all hypocritical and partial Dealings in Matters of our Duty. So that if we would give the Definition of an Upright Man, it should be in such Terms as these, He is a Man, that in all Things follows the Di<tates of his Conscience. Or, he is one, that makes his Duty the Rule of his Actions. Or, he is one, that always proposeth to himself Righteous Ends, and pursues those Ends in Righteous Ways.
This is the General Description of the Upright Man : But for the more lively Display of him, and the rendring him, as more amiable, so more imitable, it will be fit that we
represent him a little more particularly une der those several Respects and Capacities, in which his Uprightness is principally seen and expreft.
And here we must consider him with refpect to God, and with respect to Men. Under the former Consideration we are to view his Religion, under the latter his Civil Conversation.
And none ought to be surpriz'd, that in the Character of an Upright Man, we take Notice of his Religious Carriage towards God. For in Truth, that is a Point which is effen
tially necessary to Uprightness. He (faith Pro. 14.2. Solomon) that walketh in Uprightness, feareth the
Lord. Indeed, take away Religion, and the Fear of God, and the Foundation of Uprightness is destroy'd. For all the Principles of Conscience, and all the Obligation to live up to those Principles, is thereby taken away. He that hath no 'Sense of God and Religion, can never think himself bound to observe any Rules in his Actions and Behaviour, but what are fubfervient to the carrying on his private sensual, worldly Interest: and consequently, whatever is inconsistent with that, be it never so base, and vile, and injurious, he cannot take himself, in point of Duty, oblig?d to stick at it, when he hath the least Temptation to it. The Result of which is, That he may commit all the Villanies in the World, and yet think himself as Innocent, and his Actions as Commendable, as if he had been never so Hopeft and Vertuous.