Page images



PSALM XXVII. 13. I had fainted, unless I had believed to

see the Goodness of the Lord in the 'Land of the Living.


HE words in the original are abrupt,

as being uttered under great commotion and deep sense of mind. This

Psalmist having inentioned the trials to which he was exposed, thews the great impreffion the thoughts of them made upon him, and how sad his case had been, were it not for the supports of faith he had afforded him: Unless, faith he, I had believed to see the Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living, i. e. I cannot say what had become of me: I had surely fainted, been overwhelmed, and quite dead.

By the land of the living, is often meant the present world, in opposition to the grave, the state of the dead: And fo David might refer to the mercy God had promised him upon earth, which he comforted himself with the expectation of; but I cannot suppose him to have left out the great things reserved in heaven, those Vol. II.



which the goodness of God hath there laid up for those that love bim; things which eye

hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man to conceive of.

Heaven may well be ftiled the land of the living : it is the world where there is no more death, nor forrow, nor crying, &c. in comparison of which, this world is a state of mortality, into which we are born with tears, brought forth to trouble, and muft e'er it be long, leave it. Some of the Hebrew Commentators understand this phrase, the land of the living, to set forth the future state of life above ; and upon this the Pfalmift's hope chiefly and ultimately fixed, as what was necessary and sufficient to his support: And all God's faints fhould imitate him. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Doct. Such is the condition of saints upon earth, that only the faith of seeing the goodness of God in the better world, can keep them from fainting in the way to it. If in this life only we fall have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable, i Cor. xv. 19.

I speaking to this, I shall

1. Briefly consider the condition of saints in this present world, as to the trials they are subject to.

II. How the soul is to be engaged by faith, in reference to the blessedness of heaven: which we shall here understand by the goodness of the -Lord in the land of the living.

III. Whence, and in what manner faith keeps us from fainting, and conduces to our support


in the way to it: which will lead to the Applius cation,

1. The condition of faints in the present world, as to the trials they are subject to. These are here supposed to be such, as that they are sometimes ready to faint, and would do so, but for the supports of faith. This is a truth of which experience is full evidence; and therefore I need not be long upon it.

We are born finners into a world that lies in wickedness; and hence are brought forth to forrow, as the sparks fly upward. We are cast on a climate where Satan rules, as its God': And those who are new-born, are the peculiar objects of his hatred and rage: whom he will, by policy or power, seek to deceive and de stroy; and he has too much, even in the best, to work upon. It were hence easy to shew, that the trials of saints in the present life, are neither light, nor few. Considered as men, they share in the effects of God's displeasure together with the rest of mankind, for their original apostacy: considered as Christians, they are exposed to the malice of Satan and a degenerate world, and blinded and acted by him : considered as imperfect Christians, they are groaning under the remains of corruption while on earth: and how sad were their estate, could they look no further?

1. Considered as men, how grievous are the common calamities of the human nature! The world through sin is subject to vanity, filled with vexation : and faints in great measure find it so, as well as others. They are indeed redeemed


B 2

from eternal death, the wages of sin, in the next world ; but infinite wisdom hath thought fit to leave them under many afflictive evils in this : which though fanctified, so as afterwards to yield the peaceable Fruits of Righteousness, are not for the present joyous, but grievous, Heb.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It is no unusual thing for faints to chatter like cranes, and swallows, though not to murmur, under their racking pains, Ifa. xxxviii

. 14. Our souls are lodg’d in crazy distemper'd bodies, liable to a thousand diseases, which are ready to prey upon them, and reduce them to breathless clods. And how hard would it be to bear

up under what we feel or fear, as men, were it not for faith and hope, that it shall not be always with us as now ?.

2. There are new trials saints usually experience upon account of their devotedness to God. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, as such, Psal

. xxxiv. 19. They have set their faces heavenward, and are resolved to live godly in Christ Jesus ; and for this the world is incensed against them. A secret enmity boils in the heirs of hell against all the expectants of heaven, who seeing they will not take up with this world for their portion, will not allow them a quiet passage through it, or any tolerable abode Jesus Christ tells his disciples, In the world

ye Mall bave tribulation ; and they have all along found his prediction true : so that through many tribulations they have entered into the kingdom of God, Acts xiv. 22. In {cripture we have an


upon it.

account of their sufferings in the earlier days of the world. They were treated as the common refuse of the world, the off-scouring of all things ; endured cruel mockings and scourgings; were stoned, tortured, and turned out to wander and perish. And the history and experience of later times tell us, the devil and his angels have not yet changed their natures, or laid down their enmity against the saints. Christ's servants are often put to resist unto blood, striving against sin; and what should keep them from fainting under the sufferings that are their lot in this world, but the faith of seeing the goodness of God in the land of the living ?

3. As imperfect saints, they have no small addition to this affliction, from the remains of fin in themselves, and the fad effects of it in others, both in the world and church. If they look on the world, they see it lying in wickedness, their God dishonoured, the murderer served, the flesh pleased, and souls undone. They daily pray that the will of God may be done on earth, as it is in heaven; but alas, they see it still continue too much like hell. And how are their righteous souls vexed with the abominations of

amona If they look to the church, the saints, the excellent of the earth, in whom, if in any, they promise themselves delight : how often are their hearts wounded by beholding their fad divisions, their unchristian heats, and how often they give occasion for the question, Are ye not carnal, and walk as men? And who can look on, and not

B 3


« PreviousContinue »