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I have chosen to introduce no more words into the Text than what directly relate to the subject in view. What was particular in David's circumstances, and gave occasion to these words, shall now be briefly mentioned.
David had many enemies; and in his Psalms, he frequently prays to be delivered from them. No man's life was ever more variously exercised than his; and therefore we read very much both of his inward and his outward trials. We have indeed an opportunity, in his case, of seeing godliness tried in all possible ways. The Psalms are, therefore,
. the Christian's book of experience. Meditations and prayers there may be met with, by every one who fears God, exactly suited to his own case, from time to time, and affording him language the most proper to express his various feelings. In the Psalm before us, he prays against the designs of his enemies, and beseeches the Lord to deliver his soul from the wicked; “ which is thy sword, from men which are thy hand, O Lord.” Wicked men
, are, as it were, the Lord's sword, hand, or instrument for executing his counsels. They can do no more than what he ordains or permits.
David remarks of them, that they are MEN OF THE WORLD; men who live for this world, and as if there were no other; who have no taste for any thing but what is of this world. « Which have their portion in this life.” They desire no other; their affections are here only: and “whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure.” This is often the case: and, by this very dispensation, it sufficiently appears of how little value in the eyes of the Lord
are worldly riches and worldly grandeur. These things, after which the unconverted pant so greedily, are often committed to the management of men who have no love for God: Nay, such men often possess them in abundance; “ they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance to their babes.” To conclude life in this way, is the highest felicity of a worldly man. He is so selfish that his benevolence extends very little beyond his own family. If then he has many children; possesses riches during his own life, and has the prospect of leaving much wealth among his children that they may possess it after him; he enjoys all that his heart wishes, or for which he has any taste.
But all this will not satisfy a child of God. Every real saint, in the world, will turn from these things to that which supremely engages his affections. “ As for me I will behold thy presence in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness.” In this world he is far from being satisfied. But he has a foretaste, a relish, a prospect, which cheers his heart, while he thinks of the future. The time will come, when he shall behold his God as he is; when in the morning of the glorious resurrection he shall awake from the dust, and find himself, in body and soul, made perfectly like the Saviour for whose coming he now looks and wishes : “ Who shall change his vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working, whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself.” He will then be perfectly conformed to his Saviour in righteousness: He will then behold, admire, and live upon his
excellencies and his loving-kindness. — This is David's heaven. For this he waits.--And in this taste and disposition a real saint stands directly opposite to the character of a man of the world.
The Text gives us then, in a few words, a striking description of the difference between a worldly and a' heavenly-minded man. I will endeavour to improve the instructive passage, by stating this difference a little more particularly and distinctly. To this end, I would first speak of “ the Man of the World;" and secondly, of the Christian ; not attempting to detail every thing at large of their characters, but rather to show, how they stand opposed to one another in their views of what each would call a happy termination of human life. My object is to furnish matter for self-examination to us; that we may know what our state is ; and see for
; what we have to hope, or to fear; for what we have cause to rejoice or to grieve; and may learn, in the first case, to be thankful and persevere; in the second, to repent and believe the Gospel.
1. The unconverted man is a “man of the WORLD." This word has generally a bad sense in Scripture. Thus, “ whosoever will be a friend of the WORLD is the enemy of God. They are of the world, and the world heareth them.. Marvel not if the world hate you.” MEN OF THE WORLD, who persecuted David, set their heart on this world. Its pomps and vanities, its pleasures and delights, its riches and honours, its wisdom and show of virtue without substance, are their treasure. They have no value for the things of another life. Though the idea of a God is not easily taken away from
the minds of men, they think of him as little as. possible. They would wish him to contrive the government of the world so, that they should have health, agreeable friends and connexions, pleasures in abundance, success in their schemes, and gratification of their lusts and passions. If he would but permit them to live here as long as possible, for
ever, if that could be,—they would allow him to be a good and gracious Governor. But then, they would wish to have no intercourse with him. They have no idea of any pleasure resulting from society with him. They have no desire to behold his face, or ever to have more to do with him than they have at present. And yet many of them may have no objection to go through a decent form of religion, now and then, particularly on the Lord's day; but it is evident their notions of happiness suggest no duties or employments of this kind. They have their delight wholly in the world.
This is the way of all men, by nature, since the fall of our first Parents. Unconverted sinners have no other taste. They “have their portion in this life.” And yet they very often find the course of things not to suit their wishes. By sickness or the danger of death they are frightened, at times, into something of more earnest religion. But nature is nature still ; and as they are not born again, they easily, when the interruption is removed, return to their old course. Now, it is not needful to suppose, that the “man of the world” should be addicted to every vice. There may be some amiable qualities which adorn his character. He may, for instance, be humane and generous; and it is not at all necessary, that he should be a drunkard or
a miser,-in the offensive and disgraceful sense of those words. This circumstance often deceives men of the world. For possessing some good social qualities, and being free from some vices to which they see others addicted, they are ready enough to conclude themselves good men. This is one of the most common and fatal errors of
persons of this class. Because still they are, of the world,” while they “ have their portion in this life," and have no love of God in them.
Ye with whom this is the case, consider what is the real frame and condition of your heart. It does not love God. You show no love to him in any one instance. Religious exercises are to you very unpleasant and irksome. You are glad when they
Shortness is with you the best recommendation they can have. And you
do not love to converse freely with any person in a serious way, concerning the care of the soul ; concerning the worth of eternity ; concerning the preciousness of the Redeemer; or on any subject that might lead your minds to God. Such subjects throw a damp on your spirits; and when alone, you do not choose to meditate on things of this nature. Yet
Yet you have wishes and desires. There is something that is uppermost in your mind. And what is that something? It is either God or the World; heavenly or earthly things : and by this very something your character must be determined ; either that you are a godly man, or a man of the world.
Does not conscience tell you, that worldly things are your great object? You say, at times, you think of death and judgment: the hardened thief or murderer also thinks of the Judge and of the place of