« ForrigeFortsæt »
when men lie buried in deep slumber, and thoughtless of the solemn scene.
But though night is a season of danger, yet David says, "I will lay me down in peace, and sleep; for thou, Lord, makest me dwell in safety."
II. We will consider, in the second place, what is necessary to our lying down in peace, and sleeping in safety. David's meditations in this Psalm will give a sufficient answer to our present inquiry.
1. The first thing necessary to our peaceful and safe repose, is a state of preparation for death. This is obtained only by a life devoted to God.
David, in our context, addresses the Almighty as "the God of his righteousness ;" and he rejoices in the persuasion, that "the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself." Firmly believing that God would make the righteous man his care; and inwardly conscious, that this was his own character, he laid him down in peace, not afraid what the night would bring forth, nor anxious whether it should be his lot to sleep or die. In either case he trusted that he was safe, and that neither life nor death would separate him from the love, or exclude him from the presence of his God.
Solomon advises his son, that, if he had incautiously pledged his word for another, he should extricate himself before he slept. My son, if thou be surety for thy friend, if thou hast stricken thy hand with a stranger, thou art snared in the words of thy mouth. Do this now, my son, and deliver thyself, when thou art come into the hand of thy friend. Go, humble thyself, so shalt thou prevail with thy friend. Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eyelids. Deliver thyself as the roe from the hand of the hunter, and as the bird from the hand of the fowler." This is excellent advice. A prudent man, in an unguarded hour, may
be drawn into a dangerous suretyship; but when he reflects on his rashness, he will immediately endeavor to extricate, or secure himself. Will you then, let a day pass, or a night come, before you have sought God's mercy by prayer and obtained his pardon by repentance? Will you not take as good care of your souls, as you would of your property. You may safely retire to bed when you are prepared to go to heaven. You are fit to sleep, when you are fit to die.
The scripture calls sinners to immediate repentance. It permits no delay. "Behold, now is the day of salvation. Bow before the Lord your Maker. Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Seek him while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.
As long as your eternal salvation is depending, a single day's neglect is presumption and madness. You would not commit your worldly substance to the same hazard, in which you leave your immortal souls. If you knew that thieves had formed a design to break open and rob your house, you would not lie down to sleep, until you had taken every possible precaution for your security. Will you venture to pass a night under the guilt of all your sins, and exposed to the wrath to come? You can never dwell in safety, until your sins are forgiven; nor enjoy true peace of mind, until you have exercised repentance towards God, and proved its sincerity by correspondent fruits. They only are safe, whom God has set apart for himself; and these are the godly. Pertinent to all is the advice which our Lord gave to his disciples: "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men who wait for their Lord, when he shall return from the wedding, that when he cometh and knocketh. they may open to him immediately. Blessed are
those servants whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, if the good man of the house had known, what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not suffered his house to be broken through; be ye therefore ready also, for in such an hour as ye think not, the son of man cometh."
2. That we may close the day in peace, we must be zealous of good works, and watchful against sin. This is David's advice in our context, "Stand in awe and sin not."
The duties of religion demand our daily attention. We are not to suppose, that, by a general repentance, we adjust our accounts with God once for all, and may, in future, release our minds from all fear of his displeasure and care of our souls. When we repent of sins past, we dedicate ourselves to God for the time to come. We then begin a new life; and in newness of life we must walk every day. This is the instruction of scripture, "Be thou in the fear of God all the day long."-" What thy hand find. eth to do, do it with thy might."-" Do the work of every day, as the duty of the day requires." As moral and religious beings, we are to set God always before us, and daily to live under a sense of our accountableness to him; we are to make his word our rule, and to guide all our actions by it; we are to watch against the temptations which await us, decline such as we see approaching, and resist those which we are constrained to meet; we are to attend on the work of our secular calling in its place, use the bounties of Providence with sobriety, husband our time with industry, and order our affairs with discretion; we are to acknowledge God in all our ways, seek his direction in all our doubts, bless his
hand in all our successes, adore his sovereignty in all our disappointments, and preserve a temper correspondent to the aspects of his Providence in all con. ditions; we are to observe and obey the various calls of charity; to feed the hungry, guide the wandering, advise the heedless, relieve the unhappy, and in every thing do good according to our abilities and the exigences of those around us. Every day thus employed in the duties of piety and charity, may be reviewed with approbation and closed with peace."Keep sound wisdom and discretion; let them not depart from thine eyes. eyes. So shall they be life to thy soul, and grace to thy neck. Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble. When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid; Yea, thou shalt lie down and thy sleep shall be sweet. Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked when it cometh. For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken."
But what peace or security can there be to the wicked?-Look upon the man, who wastes the day in idleness, and spends the evening in riot-the man who neglects the support of his family, the care of his soul, the culture of his mind, and the decency of his manners-the man who strolls the streets for want of employment, and mingles with the vain and intemperate, as his chosen company-the man who sees day after day passing off useless and unimproved and himself hastening on toward another world, guilty and unprepared-the man who recollects no good that he has done in any day, and no day in which he has not done much evil-can this man lay himself down in peace? Will his bed seem smooth, and his pillow soft? When he perceives sleep stealing upon him, will he not start with conscious guilt? Will he not fear to close his eyes, lest he next
should open them in the world of torment? "Deliver me, O Lord, from the wicked-from the men of the world, who have their portion in this life.They who behold thy face in righteousness, will be satisfied, when they awake with thy likeness."
3. That we may lay ourselves down in peace, we must close each day with selfexamination and repentance. This practice David adopted for himself; and in our context he recommends it to others.— "Stand in awe and sin not; commune with your own heart on your bed and be still."
When the day is finished, its transactions should be called up to pass in review before us. We should inquire what we have done, and in what manner we have done it-what principles have govern actions, and what objects commanded our thoughts and directed our pursuits-how far we have filled the day, and what time we have left empty-what vain imaginations have lodged within us what idle words, in our unguarded moments, have escaped from us how we have received mercies and borne disappointments-what progress we have made in the religious life, and what benefit we have derived from the indulgence of another day. In the review of the day, who of us will not find some omissions of duty at least deficiences in duty? Happy the man who is innocent from real transgressions. The guilt of our daily sins is removed by daily repentance. If repentance close not the day, we lie down under all the guilt contracted in the day. Our daily peace and comfort depend on the daily examination of our hearts, review of our actions, and renewal of our repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
4. That we may lie down in peace, we must commit ourselves to God in humble prayer. This is our Psalmist's advice; "Commune with your own