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Faith in the comfortable promises of God is the only sovereign cordial for a fainting spirit. Earth is the land of the dying; we must extend our prospect into heaven, which is the land of the living, where the faithful shall see, and experience evermore the goodness of the LORD.
14. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.
The person speaking concludes with an apostrophe to his own soul, resulting from the confidence in God, expressed, ver. 1. from the desire and the hope of heaven, and from the manifold piedges of the divine love already received in this life. The proper inference from all which considerations is this; that we should patiently wait on the Lord, till the few and evil days of our pilgrimage pass away, and we arrive at the mansions prepared for us, in the house of our heavenly Father; till our warfare be accomplished, and terminate in the peace of God; till the storms and tempests of wintry time shall give place to the unclouded calm, and the ever-blooming pleasures of eternal spring
The prophet, in a state of distress and persecution,
determines to be watchful and silent, as our blessed Lord also was, before his enemies. He prays for a due sense of the shortness of human life ; and after meditating on that subject, fixes all his faith and hope in God, whom he entreats, but with submission to his will, for the remission of sin, and allevi. : ation of misery. From a view of the human body wearing away by sickness, he breaks out into a most fervent and affectionate prayer, which ought to be continually in the mouth of the Christian, upon earth.--This Psalm is, with the utmost propriety, appointed by the church to be used at the burial of the dead, as a funeral is indeed the best comment
1. I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.
The Psalm begins abruptly with the result of a meditation on the narrow, slippery, and dangerous paths of life; and more especially on the extreme difficulty of restraining the tongue, amidst the continual temptations and provocations of the adversary. In these circumstances, watchfulness and silence are re
solved on, as the only means of security. Let us behold the Lamb of God as our great pattern and example herein.
2. I was dumb with silence, I held my peace even from good, and my sorrow was stirred.
There is a time to keep silence, because there are men who will not hear; there are tempers, savage and sensual, as those of swine, before whom evangelical pearls, or the treasures of heavenly wisdom, are not to be cast. This consideration stirs up fresh grief and trouble, in a pious and charitable heart. How much more must it have done so, in the soul of him who lived and died only for the salvation of sinners !
3. My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned : then spake I with my tongue.
The fire of divine Charity, thus prevented from diffusing itself, for the illumination and warmth of those around it, and, like other fire, rendered more intense by its confinement, presently ascended, in the Aame of devotion, towards heaven; while it continued to be fed, and preserved in brightness and vigour, by meditation on the goodness of God, and the ingratitude of man; the transient miseries of time, and the durable glories of eternity.
4. LORD, make me to know mine end, and the mea. sure of my days what it is: that I may know how frail
Wearied with the contradiction of sinners, and sickening at the prospect of so much wretchedness in the valley of weeping, the soul looks forward to her departure from hence, praying for such a sense of the shortness of human life, as may enable her to bear the sorrows of this world, and excite her to prepare for the joys of a better. “O faithless and perverse generation,” said even the meek and patient Jesus himself, “how long shall I be with you, how long shall I suffer
5. Behold, thou hast made my days as an hand breadth, and mine age is as nothing before thee : verily every man at his best, Heb. settled estate, is altogether vanity. The age
of man, or that of the world, is but a span in dimension, a moment in duration; nay, it is less than both; it is nothing, if compared with the unmeasurable extent, and the unnumbered days, of eternity: every hour, from that of our birth, brings us so much nearer to our death: nor can we continue, for a second of time, in one state. Behold, then, O Lord, the vanity of man; and be so merciful unto him, as to open
eyes, that he may behold it himself! 6. Surely, every man walketh in a vain show, or, in a shadowy image : surely they are disquieted in vain : he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.
This world is, to the other, as a shadow to the substance; nay, temporal life, health, riches, honours, and pleasures, can hardly be called shadows of those which are eternal, in point of resemblance; though, for their illusive and fleeting nature, they are shadows indeed. “ The mortal state of man is compounded of light and darkness; seeming to be something, when really it is nothing; always altering, and ending on a sudden; nearest to disappearing, when at full length; sure to continue no longer than while the sun is above the horizon; but liable to vanish, at the interposition of a cloud; and when it is gone, leaving no track be hind it." The fate of riches, heaped up by misers, with unutterable care and anxiety, may convince us, how vainly men are disquieted!
7. And now, LORD, what wait I for? My hope is in thee.
The soul, that has a true sense of the vanity of the creature, will at once fix her thoughts and affections on the Creator. A celebrated writer, (Doctor Johnson,) describing a man of the world on his death-bed, has expressed this sentiment with wonderful sublimity and elegance.“ Whoever would know how much piety and virtue surpass all external goods, might here have seen them weighed against each other; where all that gives motion to the active, and elevation to the eminent; all that sparkles in the eye of hope, and pants in the bosom of suspicion ; at once became dust in the balance, without weight and without regard. Riches, authority, and praise, lose all their influence, when they are considered as riches, which to-morrow shall be bestowed upon another; authority, which shall this night expire for ever; and praise, which, however merited, or however sincere, shall, after a few moments, be heard no more.”
8. Deliver me from all my transgressions ; make me not the reproach of the foolish.