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David's Prayer.-Now also, when I am old and gray-headed, O God, forsake me not. Ps. lxxi. 18. O keep my soul and deliver me; let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in thee. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee. Ps. xxv. 20, 21.
Divine Answer.-Hearken unto me, house of Jacob, which are borne by me from the belly. Even to your old age I am he, and even to your hoary hairs will I carry you; I have made and I will bear, even I will carry and will deliver you. Isa. xlvi. 3, 4.
GOD never does forsake a true believer, since he is as closely united to CHRIST, as a child to its mother whilst carried in her womb. Yea, a mother may forget her sucking child; but Jesus never forgets his ransomed people. His eyes are upon them for good continually; they are graven on the palms of his hands, and lodged in his pierced side, close to his heart. We may expect everything confidently from him; and this confidence pleaseth him above all things. Then, O I be careful for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make my requests known unto him," (Phil. iv. 6;) always trusting that he will as certainly carry me through all difficulties to come as he has done hitherto; so that I may even give him thanks for it beforehand. O Lord, grant that I may practise this better still!
My God, my everlasting hope,
I live upon thy truth;
Thine hands have held my childhood up,
Still has my life new wonders seen
Repeated every year:
Behold my days that yet remain
I trust them to thy care.
Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these; but thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, &c. Jer. vii. 4, 5. Of true prayer and worship in spirit and in truth. God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. John iv. 24. See also Rom. xii. 1. James i. 27. As a contrite heart is the most pleasing temple of God, so speaking with God in words of our own, as a child does with his father, is the best book of prayer. The most cunning method, by which Satan deceives many now, is the mistaking of an extensive knowledge and an assurance of their own making, not witnessed by the Spirit for true faith; or trusting on some outward form of worship, or having communion with others, or pretending to Gospel-experience and liberty, and thereby claiming the office of building up souls, though a true change was never wrought in their hearts; for what can all our reading, prayers, going to church and sacrament, profit us, without this? Before all this shall be acceptable to the Lord, we must be renewed in our minds, and prove by our own words and deeds that we are the living temples of God.
Is there a thing beneath the sun
That strives with thee my heart to share?
The Lord of every motion there :
Then shall my heart from earth be free
O hide this self from me, that I
No more, but Christ in me may live!
My vile affections crucify;
Let not one darling lust survive;
David's Prayer.-Forsake me not, O Lord my God, be not far from me. Ps. xxxviii. 21. Divine Answer.-My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that has mercy on thee. O thou afflicted, I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires; &c. Isa. liv. 10-15.
SUCH as have never felt spiritual distress, cannot relish this word of promise; but they who have been brought out of great misery by this sweet word, or any other word of promise applied to their hearts by the Holy Ghost, will henceforth take hold of it and prize it; yea, they should. firmly believe, even without a present feeling of its comfort, that God will certainly perform the promise he has once sealed upon them. He is a God that changeth not, and a God in covenant with his people, and his covenant is everlasting; therefore he will not forsake his people, but order all things for their good, and conduct them safely through their pilgrimage, though violent enemies assault them, and mighty tempests fall upon them. His faithfulness stands engaged for this.
Firm are the words his prophets give,
O! for a strong, a lasting faith,
Then should the earth's old pillars shake,
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord, and depart from evil. Prov. iii. 5-7. Be not wise in your own conceits, Rom. xii. 16; for the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. 1 Cor. iii. 19. See also Isa. v. 21.
WHOEVER desires to know the will of the Lord, and prayeth earnestly for instruction, shall certainly know his will. But he must not be wise in his own conceit, nor lean to his own understanding, nor expect that the wisdom or learning of this world will explain the things of God. He must not seek to reconcile the word to his lusts, but combat his lusts by the word. In short, he must come to Jesus for instruction, with the same simplicity of mind as a child comes to learn its letters; and not come for a month or a year, but sit all his life at the feet of Jesus, to receive instruction from him. Lord, make me jealous of myself, enable me to go in and out with prayer, and keep me from all errors that may hurt my soul.
Thus saith the wisdom of the Lord,-
The soul that seeks me shall obtain
Life and the favour of the Lord.
But the vile wretch that flies from me
So we preach, and so ye believed. 1 Cor. xv. 11. THE method of the Gospel is this: First, it proposeth things which are peculiarly its own. So the apostle sets down the constant entrance of his preaching. 1 Cor. xv. 3. It reveals its own myssteries, laying them as the foundations of faith and obedience; and it also inlays them in the mind, thereby conforming the whole soul unto them. Rom. vi. 17. Gal. iv. 19. Tit. ii. 11, 12.. 1 Cor. iii. 11. 2 Cor. iii. 18. This foundation being laid, it then grafts all duties of moral obedience on the stock of faith in Christ Jesus. Where this foundation is not laid through ignorance, or rejected through prejudice, the Gospel has nothing to do with such men; it neither renews their souls, nor produces any genuine fruit of obedience. Thus the apostle Paul, in all his epistles, teaches first the mysteries of faith that are peculiar to the Gospel, and then descends unto those moral duties which are regulated thereby; so we must first hear the Gospel, and be acquainted with its discoveries, before we can believe aright; and when our faith is rightly founded, it is to shew itself in the practice of all those good works that are required of us in the Scriptures. "As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God."
Let all thy precepts good and right,
And laws which in thy word are found,
And the strong faith which gives these weight,
And O reveal thy Gospel-truth,
And plant it on my mind, O Lord;
So will my spirit be renewed,
And yield obedience to thy word.