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"tte eternal God for their refuge, and his everlasting arms Underneath them?" 4. His God was his deliverer. Many
fsthnger David had been in, from Saul, from Absalom, and his other enemies; but his God had always interposed for his preservation; probably he may have his eyes upon the great deliverance that God wrought for him, and all his saints, by Jesus Christ, in finding a ransom for him, that he might aot go down to the pit, 8tc. 5. His God was his shield: as a iaieid in the day of battle defends against darts and arrows that are shot against a man's body, and wards ost" the blows that axe levelled against him; so his God had protected him against the malicious arrows of reproach and malice, &co» 6. His God had made him a skilful and successful soldier: hi3 hands had been used to the shepherd's crook, and the muficiaa's harp; but God had taught '' his hands to war, and his fcngers to fight," and to lead and head the armies of Israel, &c. 7- His God had taught him not only to manage she sword, but to sway the sceptre; in the close of verse 2. "He subdneth roy people under me." He who had ordained him to be king of Israel, in the room of Saul, swayed the hearts of all the tribes to acknowledge him as their king md ruler; just so he, in a day of power, bends and bows the wills and minds of men to submit to the government of the Son of David, Christ Jesus, every one crying, Thou hast delivered us out of the hands of our enemies, therefore rule tbou over us.
Well, David having thus viewed the goodness of God unto him, and remembering die greatness, glory, and majesty of his Benefactor, who had done all this for him; he extends his views unto the goodness of God to mankind in general, *nd especially to the saints, and cries out, in a rapture of wonder, in the words of roy text, Lord, what is mart, that tbou takeft knowledge of him! and the son of man, that thou makejl account of him! So then the words are a question of admiration. And more particularly we may note,' 1. The subjectmatter of the question, and that is man; earthly man, as some read it; man that is " sprung of earth, aud whose foundation is in the dust j" man who was "made a little lower than the angels," but who is now funk into the greatest ignominy and contempt, by his apostasy from God. 1. We have a question of contempt put, concerning this creature, man, or the son of man, what is he? or wherein is he to be accounted of? We may hear the solution of this question afterwards. 3. Notice to whom this question is proposed; it is to the tord: Lord, what is man? The Lord is a God of knowledge,'
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and there is no searching of his understanding: he needs nor that any should testify of man to him; he knows the inward value of persona, things, and actions: God has balances in which he weighs all mankind, and therefore he can well tell what man is; "he searches the hearts, and tries the reins oi the children of men," and knows far better what you and I are, than we do ourselves. 4. We have the ground and reason of this inquiry concerning man; it is the knowledge that God takes, and the account God makes, of such an inconsiderable creature, that "the high and lofty One, who inhabits eternity, and who dwells in the high and holy place," that he should " bow his heavens, and come down," to visit man in a way of love.
Observe, "That the regard that God shews unto man is truly wonderful and surprising."
This I take to be the plain import of the question. We have the like question put, Job vii. 17. 18. "What is man that thou (liouldst rr.agnify him? and that thou sttouldst set thine heart upon him? and that thou slionldst visit him every morning, and try him every moment." Psal. viii. 3. 4> "When I consider the heavens the work of thy singers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him." These are down-bringing questions. It is observable in scripture, that questions, when they are pnt concerning God, they are intended to raise our affections and admiration to the highest. So Exod. xv. xi. "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?" and Micali vii. 18. "Who is a God like unto thee?" These are uplifting questions. But when the question is concerning man, it brings him down in bis own eyes unto nothing, "that no flesh may glory in the presence of God."
Now, in discoursing this doctrine, through the Lord's assistance, I shall endeavour,
I. To give a scriptural solution of this diminutive and and down-bringing question, What is mans
II. What is imported in God's regarding man, or making account of him.
III. Wherein doth God discover his regard unto man?
IV. Sliew that this is truly wonderful and surprising.
I. The first thing is to give a scriptural solution of this qneiioo, What is man? for we can never wonder at and adoae the regard that God (hews unto man, until we know what nan is. Come, then, Sirs, let us weigh ourselves in cat balances of the sanctuary, and see what we are; \Jl, As creatures; idly, As fallen creatures.
1/?, What is man, as he is a creature of God? Whj, trace aim 10 his first original, he is but a piece of modified dull, enlivened with the breath of God: Adam signifies earth, and red earth, Gen. ii. 7. "The Lord God formed man of the daft as the ground.'* Hence is that of the apostle, 1 Cor, iv. 47. " The first Adam was of the earth, earthy;" also that of the prophet Jeremiah, who, addressing himself to Israel, cries /rot, "O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord," &c. Again, What is man f He is in scripture reckoned a potter's vefftl, that is easily daisied and broken: "Hath not the potter power over the clay of his hand, to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?" Rom. ix. 21. and Fi.il. ii. 9. Christ "will dash all his enemies in pieces, as a potter's vessel." If you aslt further, What is man .? the prophet Isaiah will tell you that he is but grafs j Isa. xl. 6^-8. "The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grase, and the goodlincss thereof as the flower of the field. The grafs withereth, the flower fadetii, because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the people is grafs.'' What is all this multitude here present, but just a pickle grass: for as grafs fpringeth out of the earth, and falls down again to the earth, so shall we and all living; and then the place that knows us shall know us no more. If you ask again, What is man / the Spirit of God will tell, Isa. xl. 15. That " all mankind is before God bnt as tbe drop of the bucket, and the small dust that will not turn the scales of a balance," no body regarding it; and yet all mankind before the Lord is no more. Oh then, What is man, that God jhotdd take knowledge of him f" If you ask yet again, What 13 man betbre the Lord? Wiiy, you have an answer that redaces man, and ail nations of men, into nothing. Isa. xl. 17. "All nations are before him as notliiag." Can any thing be less than nothing? yea, it is added in the close of that verse, "They are accounted before him less than nothing and vanity." And thus you fee an answer to that question, What ii man, considered as a creature? But,
idly, What is man as a fallen creature? Man, even in his best estate, is altogether vanity before God: what then is he in his worst estate ?" God planted him a noble vine, but he
is is become the degenerate plant of a strange vine." Let us consider what he is in this respect: a creature he is indeed; bu d then he is the worst of all creatures through sin; for if we search out his character from the record of God, we (hall find him described, 1. To be a diseased creature, over-run with* a loathesome leprosy, from the crown of the head to the sole, of the foot: the disease of sin has invaded the very vitals, insomuch that the very mind and conscience is defiled and waited, &c- Hence it follows, 3. That man, fallen man, is become an ugly and a loathesome creature, Job xv. 16. "How.' much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh iniquity like water? Sin is called the abominable thing that God's foul hates. Oh! how abominable then is man, who is nothing else than a mass of sin, a compound of all manner of iniquity? 3. What is man? He is an impotent and a helpless creature, without strength, "like the helpless infant cast out into the open field,'' Ezek. xvi. Men may talk of the power of nature, and of their ability to convert and turn themselves, as they have a-mind; but, if we believe the Spirit of God, speaking by the Son of God, he will tell us that "no man can come unto him, except the Father who sent him draw him." What can a'new-born infant do for its own help, cash out into the open field? Of all creatures it is the most helpless and impotent; and yet this is man's condition in his natural state. 4. What is man? Why, the Spirit of God will tell you that he is a rebellious creature; that he has lifted up arms against his great Lord; broken his allegiance to God, and joined in a confederacy with the devil against God. With proud Pharaoh, "we have disowned God, saying, Who is the 'Lord, that I should obey him?" Numb. xx. 10. "Hear now; ye rebels, must we fetch you water out of this rock?" &-C. 5. What is man, fallen man? Why, he is a condemned creature, under' sentence from the great Judge of heaven and earth: "He that believeth not is condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on him," &c. Condemned by God, condemned by the law, condemned by conscience, &c. 6. What is man, fallen man? Why he is a noxious and a hurtful creature; (he has hurt the creation of God; «< Cursed is the ground for thy fake," fays the Lord to Adam); a cutnberer of the ground ; " Yea, the whole creation groaneth and ti-availeth in pain, under the burden of his sin." 7. He is a noisome creature, that hath a filthy smell in the nostrils of God, angels, and faints; and therefore compared to the stench of a green opened grave, that is ready to raise the pestilence: "Their throat (lays David, speaking of the wicked) 1 ■ .is
is an open sepulchre, and the poison of asps is under their tongue." Yea, we find fallen man compared unto those ci eatares that are most hurtful unto us; lie is compared unto a toad, a serpent, an asp, a tyger, a lion, and the like hurtful beasts. 8. What is man, fallen man? Why, he is a dead creature, Eph. ri. i. "And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins:" Now, what account do we make of the dead? They are buried out of the sight of the living; "Bury my dead out of my fight," said Abraham of Sarah; so what account mould God make of dead sinners, who are destitute of the life of grace? but bury them out of his fight in hell. Thus I have told you some things in answer to that question, What is man f and told you what he is, as he is a creature, and as he is a sinner, or a fallen creature. And, after all, is there not good ground for this question in my text, What is man, that thou tahejl knowledge of him * or the son of man, that thou mahefl account of him?
II. The second thing, What is imported in (his regard thatGod ihews unto man, and the son of man? He is here said to take knowledge of him, to make account of him. Anfw. It implies, i. That, for as low, mean, and miserable a creature man is, yet he is not beyond God's notice and observation. "I saw thee," says the Lord, "when no eye pitied, when thou wast cast out and polluted in thy blood." When Adarp. hid himself in the bushes of paradise, "the eyes of the Lord "'.ere upon him." He saw what a pitiful pickle he was in, and all mankind in him. So Gen. vi. 5. "God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." 2. What is man, that thou takefl knowledge of him ¥ It implies that the regard God shews unto man does not flow from any thing in himself, that there is no excellency whatever in him, to recommend him unto God, neither birth nor beauty, nor riches, nor wisdom, no qualification at all that is desirable. When God takes knowledge of his elect, in a way of mercy, what are they, but children of wrath, as well as others? dead in sin: and therefore, " it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that (heweth mercy." 3. What it man? &tc. It implies, that, whatever regard God shews uoto man, it is the fruit of his own free grace, and sovereign will and pleasure: "By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. I will heal their backilidings; I will love them freely,"' Hos. xiv. 4. Hence all the promises of the covenant, they run in the tenor of sovereignty f