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Confidence —Ps x 4-18,

XIV.
CONFIDENCE.

4 The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.

5 His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: As for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.

6 He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in ad

versity.

7 His mouth is full of cursing, and deceit, and fraud; Under his tongue is mischief and vanity.

8 He sitteth in the lurking places of the villages:

In the secret places doth he murder the innocent:
His eyes are privily set against the poor.

9 He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den:

He lieth in wait to catch the poor: he doth catch the poor when he draweth him into his net. 1o He croucheth, and humbleth himself, that the poor may fall by his strong ones.

11 He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will

never see it.

12 Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up thine hand: forget not the humble.

13 Wherefore doth the wicked contemn God?

He hath said in his heart, Thou wilt not require it.

14 Thou hast seen it; for thou beholdest mischief and spite, to require it with

thy hand: The poor committeth himself unto thee; thou art the helper of the fatherless.

15 Break thou the arm of the wicked and the evil man: Seek out his wickedness till thou find none.

16 The Lord is King for ever and ever: the heathen are perished out of his land.

17 Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble:

Thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:

18 To judge the fatherless and the oppressed,

That the man of the earth may no more oppress. —Psalm X.

When we lay to heart the patience and long-suffering of our Lord with sinners, how sad and how strange that, instead of leading them to repentance, it should only give rise to false security and confidence in their minds. Accordingly (ver. 5), 'his ways are persistent '(they hold out, are not turned upside down) 'at all times; most highly distant are Thy judgments from before him: as for all His enemies, He puffeth' (or bloweth) 'at them.' Continuance in prosperity is a grievous snare to the ungodly. Everything seems to go well with them; and as for the twofold check of God's judgments and of their own opponents, the one is far removed out of their sight, and the other they despise. 'He saith in heart, I shall by no means shake: from generation to generation / am he who is not in evil' Yet let me not think that I am free from all danger of such carnal confidence. To attach undue value to any earthly advantage; to put trust in riches, or even to desire them, is to display confidence in the flesh. I am none the more secure for having that which the world covets as its chief good, but perhaps all the less safe. Under the influence of such passions all means seem lawful (vers. 7-10). It almost appears as if the world applied its trite and wretched proverb about 'no friendship in business' to all Christian principle, work, and duty. They will unhesitatingly do that which is oppressive, vile, and cruel, and perhaps represent it as needful or common in the way of their calling. No calling can be of God which does not include the highest and holiest principles of Christianity, which does not allow room for their manifestation, or in which I cannot glorify God. The saying of our Lord must apply in all its force to our daily walk and conversation, ' Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.' Never let us attempt that sinful separation between our religious and our common duties. 'For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.' In reality, there can be no such unholy separation. The leaven of the gospel must leaven the whole lump. The fundamental principle of Christianity—He ' loved me, and gave Himself for me'—equally applies to justification (Gal. ii. 20) and to sanctification (Eph. v. 20). And what an awful summary of practical irreligion has not the Lord set before us in ver. 11:' He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: He hideth His face; He will never see it!' God forbid that this be the inscription placed upon our lives! Yet how many times may it be said of us that we at least have forgotten, and hide our face and see it not! Viewing all things in the light of eternity, what solemn import attaches to our every action!

Most appropriately is this description followed by the earnest pleading of the Church (vers. 12, 13). For the Church neither hath nor requireth other weapons than those of faith and prayer. She turns, as it were, instinctively to the Lord, and converts the blasphemies of her persecutors into prayer. Even thus the wrath of men shall praise Him. It offers fresh cause and fresh ground for His manifestation. But here appeareth 'the patience ' of His saints. Rising by faith above present appearances to the spiritual reality, we know that 'Thou hast seen, for Thou wilt consider trouble and sorrow to put it into Thine hand; to Thee the helpless will commit himself; of the orphan Thou hast been the helper.' What a majestic unfolding here of the Divine government! Well may we await the issue. All along have His eyes seen it; and the time is coming when all sufferings put into His retributive hand, shall receive their consideration. 'Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for, behold, your reward is great in heaven.' God makes Himself, as it were, our debtor, —not 'because the one accords to the other, or belongs to it, but because of His promise,' as Augustine has it. But to reap this reward, it needs a tender conscience and a holy walk; for, in the language of Tertullian,' not the suffering but the cause makes the martyr.' With such precious consolations do we comfort ourselves, lest we also be led aside from the simplicity of our trust.

Upborne by these convictions, are we all the more earnest in pleading, knowing that 'the Judge is at the door.' The closing four verses of this Psalm, indeed, sound like so many grand chords of spiritual harmony. There is the grand judgment (ver. 15), the grand triumph (ver. 16), the grand deliverance (ver. 17), and the grand rest (ver. 18).1 The prayer of ver. 15 will only be fully realized when the truth of ver. 16 shall have been established in the millennial dispensation. Meantime, as this is an eternal truth, do we comfort ourselves with the promises of vers. 17 and 18. Most suitably are these expressed, following the real signification of the Hebrew terms: 'Thou hast heard the longing of the poor' (in spirit) ; 'Thou wilt make firm' — immovable, established —' their heart; Thou wilt cause Thine ear to be attentive' (to their sighing and crying). God has heard the desires of His people; and He will answer them by granting them inward quiet and assurance, and by such continuous outward dealings in mercy as will be suitable to their case.

1 In the last verse there is a divinely ironical play upon the words, which has not inappropriately been rendered into Latin: 'Ut non amplius terreat homo terrenus?

1. 'Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.' The present is a state of disorder, and of prevailing rebellion against God and injustice among men, in which I must possess my soul in patience, and occupy till He cometh. Views of the perfectibility of the world are prone to lead us to fellowship with the world, and to undue conformity with its plans and enjoyments. Let us remember that we are 'in a strange land,' where the language of Canaan is not spoken, and the authority of its King is not owned. I must not be 'amazed with any great amazement,' nor be envious at the prosperity of the wicked. My affections must be set in heavenly places, where Christ Jesus sitteth at the right hand of the Father. But most earnest let me be in separating myself from this 'untoward generation.' Holiness for ever becometh His house and people; and holiness is separation unto God. Let me not eat of their dainties nor rejoice in their joy. Let me look beneath the surface; let me have wisdom and grace to discern the antichristian element, the practical, if not avowed, atheism of their ways, and the sure but awful end of their folly and sin.

2. But to cultivate heart-holiness two things are needed: poverty before God, and a spirit of believing prayer (ver. 12). I would have nothing but what Thou givest; I would be nothing but what Thou makest. Thou and I—I in Thee, and Thou in me! Even so, gracious Lord! Ever upwards to Thee, ever closer and nearer to Jesus, my Saviour, till I am for ever with Thee. And let me remember that (as St. Augustine has it) it is easier to give all our goods to the poor than to be poor before God. This day let me seek to know more of the fulness of Christ, that I may be emptied of all else; of His righteousness, grace, and joy, that as poor, needy, and mourning, I may find consolation in Him.

3. Yet 'Jehovah is King for ever and ever.' This is my hope, as it is that of the Church. Let me pray, work, and bear, for the result is not uncertain. And very frequently is it necessary to fall back upon that cardinal truth. I have often experienced that there is no surer way to revive our languishing faith, and to incite us to calm cross-bearing, .than study of the personal history of our Lord, as presented in the Gospels. In measure as these great realities open to us, do we acquire confidence and comfort. 'Thou hast heard the desire of the humble.' Thou hast given Christ for them and to them, and with Him wilt Thou freely give all things: heart-establishment, inward comfort, strength, and safety, and such continuous deliverance as they need, in Thine attentive listening to their groans and prayers. If I believe this, what can be wanting to me? If I believe it not, practically and under the cross, what advantageth my faith?

And already beholding with the eye of faith, I can discern by the side of this 'Jehovah, King for ever and ever,' its necessary sequel,' Perished are the heathen out of His land.'

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