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true piety. But it commends itself to us yet more forcibly, by exhibiting a contrast between the dispositions and habits which religion inspires, and those which are indulged by the whole ungodly world. The text informs us what “the righteous man” does : the verse following our text informs us what the worldling does : the one makes God his refuge; the other trusts in his wealth, or some other idol equally vain : the one founds all his hopes on God, as made known to us in the Scriptures of Truth; the other, on some vanity, that has no title to confidence but “ in his own conceit."
It was to mark this contrast that the blessedness mentioned in our text was confined to “the righteous." Solomon did not mean to intimate, that an unrighteous man, if he would flee to this tower, should be shut out: for the most unrighteous man in the universe is invited to come to it; and, like the cities of refuge, its gates stand open day and night for the admission of all who desire to flee to it for refuge. But the truth is, that none but the righteous will run to it : none but they who are sensible of their guilt and danger, and are fleeing in earnest from the wrath to come, will enter in. All others deny the necessity of submitting to so humiliating a measure: they think they are safe enough without it. The believing penitent, on the contrary, is thankful for such a refuge, and is in the habit of running to it on every occasion: and therefore to him, and to him alone, is the security confined.
To elucidate the passage, we will endeavour to unfold, I. The character of God By
“ the name of the Lord” we are not to understand the mere word, Jehovah, as though that would afford us any security. This is a vain and foolish superstition, that has no foundation whatever in the Oracles of God. But, by “the name of the Lord" we must understand his character; as we learn from that expression of David, “ They that know thy name,” i. e. thy character, “ will put their trust in thee?” Consider then the character of Jehovah, 1. As described by himself
[God, in infinite condescension, was pleased to make himself known to Moses, and by an audible voice to "proclaim his name :” “The Lord passed by and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” Now we would ask the trembling sinner, What character he would wish Jehovah to bear? Would he wish God in no instance to testify his displeasure against sin, but to treat all men alike, putting no difference between “the guilty" who are going on in all manner of wickedness, and the penitent, who are turning from all iniquity? No: there is not a penitent in the universe that would wish God to act in a way so unworthy of his Divine Majesty. But if he desire to be assured of mercy to returning penitents, it is not possible that any words he could devise could more richly portray this attribute, than those which God himself has used. Consider them distinctly and separately,
and see how constantly they have been verified towards you hitherto, and how abundantly they contain all that you can desire.] 2. As revealed to us in Christ Jesus
[The Lord Jesus Christ is “Emmanuel, God with us;" and he is particularly called, “ The image of the invisible God.” because in him the whole character of the Deity is made, as it were, visible to mortal men. He is "the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person;" and his whole character is marked in the name given him before he was conceived in the womb. The name “ Jesus" is the same with Joshua, or “Jehoshua," that is, Jah Hosea, Divine Saviour. What a glorious and comprehensive name is this! All that he has done and suffered for us, and all that he has promised to us, is contained in it; together with his perfect sufficiency for all that he has undertaken to effect. The trembling sinner finds in the very name of Jesus a pledge of all that he wants. Besides, whilst we contemplate him in the whole of his work and offices, we are expressly authorized to apply to ourselves the benefit of them all, and to call him, “ The Lord our Righteousness." Follow this idea in all its bearings, and what unsearchable mysteries of love and mercy will it unfold to our view!]
Exod. xxxiv. 5.
a Ps. ix. 10.
. Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7.
Such being the name and character of God, let us contemplate, II. The interest we have in itIt is indeed “ a strong tower”—
[Consider every perfection of the Deity: there is not one which is not a chamber where hide ourselves till every calamity be overpast?” The wisdom, the goodness, the love, the power, the faithfulness of Jehovah—who that is encompassed by them does not feel himself in an impregnable fortress? Truly they are not merely a wall, but " a wall of fire” round about the righteous; of fire, which whilst it protects the fugitive, will devour the assailant. What a tower too is the Lord Jesus Christ in the whole of his work and offices! Well is he said to be “ a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the walls." Yes, “ the man" Christ Jesus, in his Mediatorial character, is such " a hiding-placeh," where no adversary shall ever penetrate."] All who run to it shall “ be safe” —
(Who shall ever approach “to harm” those who are thus protected'? Surely "they shall be kept in perfect peace." They are safe:” safe from the curses of the broken law; for " there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesusko
- They are safe too from the assaults of Satan; for “ their lives are hid with Christ in God,” where Satan can never come! In a word, they are safe from every
kind of evil; for God has said of those who make the Most High their habitation, that “no evil shall befall them m” cutor may touch their body, but cannot reach their soul" : they shall sooner be fed with ravens, than be suffered to “want any manner of thing that is goodo.” And if any thing occur that has the semblance of evil, they may be assured that it shall work for their present and eternal goodP. Like Elisha, they are surrounded with horses of fire and chariots of fire?; and any assaults made upon them shall only terminate as in Elijah's case, with the confusion and ruin of their enemies'.] “ Suffer now a word of EXHORTATION"
1. Study much the character of God
The perse[“To know God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, is," as our Lord informs us, “ eternal life." All other knowledge is mere vanity in comparison of this. Without this we have nothing to warrant our
f Isai. xxvi. 20. & Isai. xxvi. 4. i 1 Pet. iii. 13.
k Rom. viii. 1.
h Isai. xxxii. 2.
hopes, or to dissipate our fears Acquaint then yourselves with God, and be at peace" ---]
2. Maintain constant and intimate communion with him,
[You know how a child runs to his parent on every occasion : do
ye in like manner run unto your God. This is the very character of the true Christian; " The righteous runneth unto God as his strong tower." Get to him under every fear, and every want, and every distress : and “ cast your care on Him who careth for you" --]
3. Assure yourselves of the safety which you are privileged to enjoy
[Well may you say, “ If God be for me, who can be against me?" See how David exulted in his securitys! and learn like him to glory in your God: for it is God's desire that
you should enjoy all possible consolation. Your Saviour has assured you, that “none shall pluck you out of his hands :" lie there then in peace and safety," knowing in whom you have believed, and that he is able to keep that which you have committed to him" -When he has lost his power then, and not till then, shall any enemy prevail against you.] s Ps. xviii. 1, 2. and xxvii. 1.
t Heb. vi. 18.
A WOUNDED SPIRIT. Prov. xviii. 14. The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity :
but a wounded spirit who can bear? MAN being placed in a world where troubles of various kinds continually await him, he is endued with a firmness of mind suited to the occasion, so that he is enabled to bear them with a considerable measure of composure and ease. Previously to the arrival of afflictions, they appear more formidable than they really are. We should suppose that poverty, and sickness, and pain, and losses of friends and relatives, would produce a permanent depressure of mind: but this is not found to be the case: time soon heals the wounds that are inflicted by them; and habit soon reconciles men to the burthens which they are
called to sustain. Where piety is superadded to natural fortitude, and the grace of God is in full activity, a man can support any load, however heavy. What an accumulated weight of afflictions came on Job! yet he not only blessed God for them, but, when his wife urged him to renounce his allegiance to God on account of these visitations, he, with wonderful composure, answered, “Shall we receive good at the Lord's hands, and shall we not receive evil?"
Yet there are bounds beyond which a man cannot go, without almost miraculous assistance. The spirit, like the body, may be borne down by a weight beyond its strength : and when the spirit, which ought to support a man under all his other trials, is itself broken, he must fall of course.
Now there are many things which inflict so deep a wound upon the spirit, as to destroy all its energy, and incapacitate it for its proper office : and that we may provide an antidote against them, and afford some consolation under them, we will, I. Consider the case of a wounded spirit
A spirit may be deeply wounded, 1. By nervous disorders
[The mind may be disordered, as well as the body, and indeed through the medium of the body: and it is certain that there are disorders which so operate upon the nerves as to weaken and depress the animal spirits, and to sink a man into the very depths of despondency. This is often mistaken for religious melancholy: but it frequently has nothing to do with religion: it is found in persons who never turned their minds at all to the subject of religion : and, as it comes with, and by, a bodily disease, so it ceases with the removal of that disease. But in its effect it is inexpressibly painful, unfitting persons for every duty, indisposing them for all the proper means of relief, and leading them to put away from themselves all manner of consolation. They constrain their kindest friends to apply to themselves that proverb, “As vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to a heavy heart."] 2. By great and long-continued afflictions
(Job himself, who had so nobly sustained all his complicated afflictions, sank at last, and cursed the day of his birth.
a Prov. xxv. 20.