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religion; not by him at least, who acknowledges the providence of God, and whose principle of religion is reason: for all madness is destructive of reason, as much as these terrors are of religion : they are both destructive : they are evils to which we must submit: and if we cannot account for the reason of them, it becomes us to be dumb, and not open our mouths in his presence, whose ways are paft finding out.
PSALM xix. 14.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my
heart, be acceptable in thy sght, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.
I HAVE made choice of these words, with which the holy Psalmist shuts up this nineteenth Pfalm, intending to open to you the scheme of thought which runs through the whole. It contains one of the completest forms of devotion, and of the most general use, of those recorded in his writings. When his thoughts turn upon his own circumstances, which were in all respects great and uncommon, and such as the generality of men can never experience, it is no wonder to find his prayers and his songs of praises conceived in no common strain, When a king stands before the altar, we may well expect a royal facrifice; such an one as is not ex. pected from a private hand, nor fit to be offered by it. But here, in the Psalm before you, the crown and the sceptre are laid by, his own dignity is forgotten, and his whole mind employed in contemplating the mighty things of Providence, difplayed in the works of nature, and of grace. Ex
alted thoughts of God do naturally produce the lowest, which are always the justest, of ourselves. Thus the royal Pfalinist, having warmed his heart with the glory of the Almighty, as if he were now in the posture in which all kings must one day appear before their Maker, confesses his own weakness, and flies to mercy and grace for protection : Who can understand his errors ? says he, cleanse thou me from my secret faults. Keep back thy fervant also from presumptuous fns, let them not have dominion over me : then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgreffion.
The piety of this Psalm is so natural, and yet exalted ; so easy to be understood, fo adapted to move the affections, that it is hardly possible to read it with any attention, without feeling something of the same spirit by which it was indited : The heavens, says the holy King, declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. He begins with the works of the creation, to magnify the power and wisdom of the Creator : they are a perpetual instruction to mankind; every day and every night speak his goodness, and, by their regular and constant vicissitude, set forth the excellency of wisdom by which they are ordered. This book of nature is written in every language, and lies open to all the world : the works of the creation speak in the common voice of reason, and want no interpreter to explain their meaning ; but are to be understood by people of all languages upon the face of the earth: There is no
Speech nor language where their voice is not heard. From these works in general he singles out onė, to ftand as a testimony of the power of his Maker: the sun is the great spirit of the world, the life that animates these lower parts : How constant and unwearied is his course! How large his circuit, to impart life and genial heat to every dark corner of the earth! He is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it; and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
From this mighty scene and prospect of nature the Psalmist turns his thoughts to the confideration of the still greater works of grace: the rational world, as in itself the noblest, so has it been the more peculiar care of Providence to preserve and ádorn it. The sun knows its course, and has always trod the path marked out by the Creator : the sea keeps its old channel, and, in its utmost fury, remembers the first law of its Maker, Hitherto salt thou
go, and no farther : but freedom and reason, subject to no such restraint, have produced infinite variety in the rational world : of all the creatures man only could forget his Maker and himself, and proftitute the honour of both, by robbing God of the obedience due to him, and by submitting himself a: slave to the elements of the world. When he looked up to the heavens, and saw the glory of the fun and stars, instead of praising the Lord of all, he foolishly said, These are thy gods, O man! When man was thus loft in ignorance and superstition, God manifested himself again, gave him a
law to direct his will and inform his reason, and to teach him in all things how to pursue his own happiness. This was a kind of second creation, a work that calls as much both for our wonder and our praise, as any or all the works of nature. And thus. the holy Psalmist fings the triumphs of grace, and extols the
power of God in the restoring mankind from the bondage of ignorance and idolatry : The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the foul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the fimple : the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart : the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes: the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honey-comb. Moreover, by them is thy servant warned, and in keeping them there is great reward. To these divine oracles the finner owes the conversion of his soul : to the light of God's word the simple owes his wisdom; nay, even the pleafures of life, and all the folid comforts we enjoy, flow from the same living spring : the statutes of the Lord do rejoice the heart, as well as enlighten the eyes; and not only shew us the danger and miseries of iniquity, and by Thewing teach us to avoid them, but do lead us likewise to certain happiness and joy for evermore : for in keeping them there is great reward.
But is it possible, whilst thus we praise and adore God for all his mercies, to forget one great circumItance, which affects both them and ourselves ? I mean, how undeferved they are ! It is a reflection, which, like the pillar of the cloud that waited on