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Light and Love —Ps v 7-12,

VII.

LIGHT AND LOVE.

7 But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy ; and

in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.

8 Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies: make thy

way straight before my face.

9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth ; their inward part is very wicked

ness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue. 1o Destroy thou them, O God: let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.

11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for

joy, because thou defendest them; let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.

12 For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous ; with favour wilt thou compass

him as with a shield.—Psalm V.

The distinguishing mercy of our God is at all times the theme of our loudest praise. 'O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.' Whether we consider the 'hole of the pit' whence we are digged, or the high position to which we are called, our wonderment and adoring gratitude are equally called forth. It is not that we had been better or more favourably disposed than others. We all 'were as sheep going astray.' And who has made us to differ? All we have and are, we owe it to Him; and doubly precious does all become since we owe it to Him. It is very marked how providence and grace co-operate. The peculiar .leadings by which we are brought within the range and reach of grace, and the peculiar grace by which these leadings are improved for spiritual good, alike bear witness to His wisdom, goodness, and truth. And here the provision of His house and ordinances holds a very prominent place. Whether the words of verse 7 be regarded as the reply of spiritual confidence with which the believer meets the enemies of God and of his soul, or as the spiritual contrast and consolation which he sets before him, as against those whom 'Thou shalt destroy,' it accurately marks the feelings of God's people in that respect.

To be allowed to go into His house is one of the most precious privileges of God's people, due to the riches of His grace, or, as it might be rendered, to 'Thy much grace.' When the house of God is to us indeed ' Thy housed and we enter it under a constraining sense of 'Thy much grace,' we shall 'worship'—or, literally, 'cast ourselves on the ground' —' towards the temple of Thy holiness.' Experience of much grace leads not to familiarity, but to holy awe; which is far different from slavish fear, in that it springs not from any apprehended consequences to ourselves, but from apprehension of His majesty and character. Accordingly, the 'worship in fear' corresponds to the coming into His house 'in the multitude of mercy.' Most appropriate, as a sequel to this morning worship, is the morning service, which forms the burden of prayer in ver. 8. Let us earnestly avoid the confusion of ideas which would represent worship as service, instead of joyous preparation for service in daily life, and which too often ends in making of this supposed worship our only service. True service most appropriately follows worship, and is its practical application. What we have professed and asked, what we have sought and obtained, we apply and show forth in every-day life. We rise from our knees to work for the Master. But this needs special grace, both so far as we are concerned (' lead me'), and so far as 'the way' is concerned. Here appears the need of guidance on His part; and on ours, of willingness simply and absolutely to follow. Here also our own ignorance, weakness, and inability are most painfully felt. But it is ' Thy way,' and Thou canst make it both plain (or even) and straight before us (both expressions being included in the Hebrew term). And these two pleas may we urge in our prayer—God's ' righteousness,' and our ' enemies.' For the covenant of grace, through Christ Jesus, provides for the daily wants, spiritual and temporal, of His people, in connexion with the gift of the Holy Ghost and the finished work of the Saviour. And the presence of 'mine enemies' affords me fresh ground for urgency, as the glory of God cannot admit of their triumph or of my defeat. This all the more that they are such as here described. For even the term used for 'enemies' designates those who follow and watch with hostile intent, — being derived from a word which means 'to watch narrowly with hostile purpose.'

How solemn to think of our responsibility as the representatives of the kingdom of God, with enemies watching on very side for our halting, and narrowly observing us! But herein also lies our comfort, that God cannot, under such circumstances, leave us to 'the will of our enemies.' Very preciously have we again and again experienced this consolation in pleading it with God. Equally sad and true is the portraiture of the 'enemies' of God and of His people, and very characteristic the description of their enmity. 'There is no steadfastness—nothing stable, firm, nor steadfast—in the mouth of any of them ; their inward part is very wickedness' (or rather corruption—the term signifying both lust and its termination, and is probably allied to the idea of a ' yawning gulf) ; ' an open sepulchre is their throat; their tongue they make smooth.' That such purposes are in reality rebellion against God (ver. 10), that such rebellion must lead to condign punishment, and that He who loves the kingdom of God must desire such a consummation,—always bearing in mind the alternative in Ps. vii. 12, 'Ifhe turn not,'—are facts which we who know the sentiments of Holy Writ (1 Cor. xvi. 22; Gal. i. 8, 9; 2 Tim. iv. 14; 2 Pet. ii. 12, etc. ; 1 John ii. 22 ; 2 John 10, n ; Jude 11-13) feel to be appropriate under the New as under the Old Testament. And we feel this none the less acutely and sorrowingly that we daily plead for their realization in the petition, 'Thy kingdom come.'

But how sweet and precious is the consolation of God's people amid these impending judgments! Not only safe, but joyous, are they ' who put their trust in Thee' (literally, 'who seek a refuge or a hiding-place in Thee')—this being the Old Testament form of faith. Nay, ' for ever they shout for joy because Thou coverest them' (the same expression and idea being here introduced as in Ps. xci. 4). Nor are these the utterances only of faith and of hope. It is also the experience of 'love'—of the love of His name, or of God manifest in Christ; even of the glorious revelation of the Father's love in Jesus. 'We love Him because He first loved us.' Faith, hope, and love have each their own joy. Faith, which is repairing to the hiding-place, has the joy of rest (the Hebrew term here used being probably related to one which signifies rest); hope, which is looking to God for covering of shelter and defence, has songs of victory, even songs in the night; while love, or the experience of His name, has (as the expression shows) the joy of intense delight. And the reason of all this—is in God: what He will be to us, and how He will be and do it for us. 'For Thou, Jehovah, wilt bless the righteous.' And how? 'With favour' (literally, with 'good pleasure'—the Old Testament expression for ' love') 'wilt Thou compass him as with a vast shield,'— the idea being not that of an ordinary shield, but of one which covers the whole person, like the shield of Goliath (1 Sam. xvii. 17), or like the beautiful golden ' targets' which King Solomon made (1 Kings x. 16), or the 'shield and buckler' which is 'His truth' (Ps. xci. 4). 'This honour have all His saints.'

1. O my soul, how great and glorious are thy privileges under the covenant of grace! All thou needest hath been provided, and all that hath been provided is freely dispensed. Let me then come freely, and come in faith—ever believing in His love, or greater willingness to give than mine to receive. O the unspeakable relief contained in the word 'grace] — ' the multitude of Thy mercy,' — which claims nothing from me, and offers all to me for its own sake! Yet let me ever seek to learn the doctrine of grace in connexion with the personal pronoun ' Thy,' or in prayerful fellowship with my God. Thus alone shall I be preserved from presumption. Grace is a doctrine to be learned on my knees, to be understood on my knees, and to be applied on my knees.

2. Let me remember the connexion between praying and working. If I have come into His house, and worshipped toward His holy temple, then let me seek to be led, and ask to have His way made straight before my face. How many watch for my halting; and what -an awful thing to bring discredit upon my holy profession! Whatever I may suffer, let it not be as an evil-doer. And for this purpose must I watch and pray. How ready am I to slip—how prone to wander! My only safety is in keeping close to my Lord. 'Lead me'—now, this day, and for ever. Let Thy providence and Thy grace co-operate; let me glorify Thee ; grant me grace to serve Thee. And still will I remember: 'My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.'

3. From what terrible destruction have I been delivered! Truly humility becomes me, and fervent charity towards fellow-sinners. Yet, while I seek their good, let me never think little of their evil, but hate 'even the garment spotted by the flesh.' I would earnestly plead for sinners with God, and with sinners for God—not only by words, but by deeds. And all the more will I magnify that sovereign grace to

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which I owe all, and seek its shelter against all enemies. Thus greatly encouraged, will I go forward from day to day, and from strength to strength, till grace crown grace with glory, to the praise of Him who loved me and bought me with His precious blood.

Oh! come, reveal Thyself more fully,
That we may learn to praise more truly;
Make every heart a temple true,
Filled with Thy glory overflowing,
More of Thy love each morning showing,
And waking praises loud and new,—

Here let Thy peace Divine

Over Thy.children shine,
Ever! ever!
And glad or sad, we joining sing,
'Thou, Lord, and only Thou art King.'

Tersteegen.

{Hymns from the Land of L uther )