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GOD THE BEST PORTION OF THE CHRISTIAN.
PSALM LXXIII. 25.
Whom have 1 in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth
that I desire besides thee.
In this psalm, the psalmist (Asaph,) relates the great difficulty which existed in his own mind, from the consideration of the wicked. He obseryes, (ver. 2, 3.) “ As for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipt. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” In the 4th and following verses, he informs us, what in the wicked was his temptation. In the first place, he observed, that they were prosperous, and all things went well with them. He then observed their behaviour in their prose perity, and the use which they made of it; and that God, noto withstanding such abuse, continued their prosperity. Then he tells us by what means he was helped out of this difficulty, viz. by going into the sanctuary, verses 16, 17; and proceeds to inform us what considerations they were which helped him, vix. (1.) The consideration of the miserable end of wicked
However they prosper for the present, yet they come to a woeful end at last, verses 18–20. (2.) The consideration of the blessed end of the saints. Although the saints, while they live, may be afflicted, yet they come to a happy end at last, verses 21–24. (3.) The consideration, that the godly have a much better portion than the wicked, even though they have no other portion but God; as in the text and following verse. Though the wicked are in prosperity, and are not in trouble as other men ; yet the godly, though in affliction, are in a state
Dated April, 1736.
infinitely better, because they have God for their portion. They need desire nothing else; be that hath God, hath all. Thus the psalmist professes the sense and apprehension which he had of things: 'Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee.
In the verse immediately preceding, the psalmist takes notice how the saints are happy in God, both when they are in this world, and also when they are taken to anotber. They are blessed in God in this world, in that he guides them by his counsel; and when he takes them out of it, they are still happy, in that then be receives them to glory. This probably led him in the text to declare that he desired no other portion, either in this world or in that to come, either in heaven or upon earth.-- Whence we learn, That it is the spirit of a truly godly man, to prefer God before all other things, either in heaven or on earth.
I. A godly man prefers God before any thing else in heaven.
1. He prefers God before any thing else that actually is in heaven. "Every godly man bath his heart in heaven ; his affections are mainly set on what is to be had there. Heaven is bis chosen country and inheritance. He hath respect to heaven, as a traveller, who is in a distant land, hạth to his own country. The traveller can content himself to be in a strange land for a while, but his own native land is preferred by bim to all others : Heb. xi. 13, &c. “ These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things, declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned : But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly.”—The respect which a godly person hath to heaven may be compared to the respect which a child, when he is abroad, hath to his father's house. He can be contented abroad for a little while; but the place to which he desires to return, and in which to dwell, is his own home. Heaven is the true saint's Father's house: John xiv. 2. “ In my Father's house are many mansions.” John xx. 17. “I ascend to my Father and your Father."
Now, the main reason why the godly man hath his heart thus to heaven, is because God is there; that is the palace of the Most High. It'is the place where God is gloriously present, where his love is gloriously manifested, where the godly may be with him, see him as he is, and love, serve, praise, and enjoy him perfectly. If God and Christ were not
in heaven, he would not be so earnest in seeking it, nor would he take so much pains in a laborious travel through this wil: derness, nor would the consideration that he is going to heaven when he dies, be such a comfort to him under toils and afflictions. The martyrs would not undergo cruel sufferings, from their persecutors, with a cheerful prospect of going to heaven, did they not expect to be with Christ, and to enjoy God there. They would not with that cheerfulness forsake all their carthly possessions, and all their earthly friends, as many thousands of them have done, and wander about in poverty and banishment, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, in hopes of exchanging their earthly for a heavenly inherits ance, were it not that they hope to be with their glorious Redeemer and heavenly Father.-The believer's heart is in heaven, because his treasure is there.
2. A godly man prefers God before any thing else that might be in heaven. Not only is there nothing actually in heaven, which is in his esteem equal with God; but neither is there any thing of which he can conceive as possible to be there, which by him is esteemed and desired equally with God. Some quite different enjoyments to be in heaven, from those which the scriptures teach us. The Mahometans, for instance, suppose that in heaven are to be enjoyed all manner of sensual delights and pleasures. Many things which Mabomet has feigned are to the lusts and carnal appetites of meni the most agreeable that he could devise, and with them he flattered his followers. But the true saint, could not contrive one more agreeable to his inclination and desires, than such as is revealed in the word of God; a heaven of enjoying the glorious God, and the Lord Jesus Christ. There he shall have all sin taken away, and shall be perfectly conformed to God, and shall spend an eternity in exalted exercises of love to him, and in the enjoyment of his love. If God were not to be ens joyed in heaven, but only vast wealth, immense treasures of silver and gold, great honour of such kind as men obtain in this world, and a fulness of the greatest sensual delights and pleasures; all these things would not make up for the want of God and Christ, and the enjoyment of them there. If it were empty of God, it would indeed be an empty melancholy place.
The godly have been made sensible, as to all creature-enjoyments, that they cannot satisfy the soul; and therefore nothing will content them but God. Offer a saint what you will, it you deny him God, he will esteem himself miserable. God is the centre of his desires; and as long as you keep his soul from its proper centre, it will not be at rest.
II. It is the temper of a godly man to prefer God before all other things on the earth.