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We should be affected with a jealous fear lest we prove ungrateful, and, like Hezekiah, render not again according to the benefit done unto us...,11 Chron. xxxii. 25. We cannot bút know something, by sad experience, of the treachery and deceitfulness of our own hearts, and how apt they are to start aside, like a broken bow; and therefore we have no reason to presume upon our own strength and sufficiency. We are told of many who' eat and drink in Christ's presence, and yet are found at last unfaithful to him : and what if I should prove one of those ?- This thought is not suggested here to amuse any that tremble at God's word...or to weaken the hands, and sadden the hearts of those that are truly willing, though very weak ; but to awaken those that slumber, and humble those that are wise in their own conceit. Distrust thyself, O my soul, that thou mayest trust in Christ only ; fear thine own strength, that thou mayest hope in his. He that hath done these great things for thee, must be applied to, and depended on to work those great things in thee, which are required of thee: go forth, therefore, and go on in his strength. If the same that grants us these favors give us not wherewithal to make suitable returns for them, we shall perish forever in our ingratitude.
(2.) We should be filled with serious desires to know and do our duty, in return for that great love wherewith we are loved. The affections of a grateful mind are very proper to be working in us at this ordinance. Doth not even nature teach us to be grateful to our friends and benelactors ? Let us be so to Christ then, the best of friends, and kindest of ben: efactors. Come, my soul, here I see how much I am indebted, and how I owe my life, and joy, and hope, and all to the blessed Jesus--and is it not time to ask, with holy David, (Fsal. cxvi, 12 ) What shall I renderunto the Lord for all his benefits touards me? Shall I not take the cup of salvat on, as he doth there, verse 13, with this thought-what shall I render ? Let David's answer to that question, which we find in that Psalm, be mine,
(1.) • I love the Lord,' (ver. 1.) Love is the loadstone of love ; even the publicans love those that love them. Lord, thou hast loved me with an everlasting love_from everlasting in the counsels of it, to everlasting in the consequences of it: and shall not my heart with this loving kindness be'drawn to thee ?.... Jer. xxxi. 3. Lord, I love thee; the world and the flesh shall never have my love more : I have loved them too much: I have loved them too long; the best affections of
my soul shall now be consecrated to thee, O God.... to thee, O blessed Jesus. • Whom have I in heaven but thee? Lord, thou knowest all things—thou knowest that I love thee.”
It is my sorrow and shame that I am so weak and defective in my love to thee. What a wretched heart have I, that I can think, and speak, and hear, and see so much of thy love to me, and be so little affected with it....so slow in my thoughts of thee....So cool in my desires towards thee....so unsteady in my resolutions for thee! Lord, pity me; Lord, help me ; for yet I love thee.... I love to love thee: I earnestly desire to love thee better, and long to be there where love shall be made perfect.
(2.) I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving ....ver. 17. As love is the heart of praise, so praise is the language of love. What shall I render? I must render to all their due-tribute to whom tribute is due-the tribute of praise to God, to whom it is due. We do not accommodate ourselves to this thanksgiving feast, if we do not attend it with hearts enlarged in thanksgiving ; this cup of salvation must be a cup of blessing ; in it we must bless God, because in it God blesseth us. Thanksul acknowledge ments of God's favors to us, are but poor returns for rich receivings; yet they are such as God will accept, if they come from an upright heart. Bless the Lord, therefore, O my soul, and let all that is within me bless his holy name. Speak well of him who hath done
well for thee. Thank him for all his gifts both of nature and grace ; especially for Jesus Christ, the spring of ail. As long as I live I will bless the Lord, yea, I will praise my God while I have my being ; for he is the God of my life, and the author of
well being; and when I have no life....no being on earth, I hope to have a better life....a better being in a better world, and to be doing this work forever in a better manner.
(3.) O Lord, truly I am thy servant-I am thy servant....ver. 16. I acknowledge my self already bound to be so, and further oblige myself, by solemn promise, to approve myself so. What shall I render? Lord, I render myself to thee....my whole self, body, soul, and spirit; not in compliment, but in truth and sincerity, I own myself thy servant, to obty thy commands....to be at thy disposal, and to be serviceable to thine honor and interest : it will be my credit and ease....my safety and happiness to be under thy government: make me as one of thy hired ser, vants.
(4.) • I will call upon the name of the Lord'....ver. 13. This is an immediate answer to that question, What shall I render? And it is a surprising answer; it is uncommon among men to make petitions for further favors....our returns for former favors; yet such a return as this, the God that delights to hear prayers, will be well pleased with. Is God my father?-I will apply myself to him as his child, and call him, Abba, Father. Have I an advocate with the Father? then I will come boldly to the throne of grace. Are there such exceeding great and precious promises made me, and sealed to me?-then I will never lose the benefit of them, for want of putting them in suit. As I will love God the better, so I will love praver the better, as long as I live ; and having given myself unto God, I will give myself unto prayer, (as David did, Psal. cix. 4.) till I come to the world of everlast. ing praise.
(5.) "Return unto thy rest, O my soul....ver. 7. The God who hath pleasure in the prosperity of his servants, would have them easy to themselves; and that they can never be, but by reposing in Him : this, therefore, we must render: it is work that has its own wages. Honor God by resting in him....please him by being well pleased in him. Having received só much from him, let us own that we have enough in him, and that we can go no where but to him, with any hopes of satisfaction. Lord, whither shall we go? He hath the words of eternal life.
(5.) ‘I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living?
A holy life, though it cannot profit God, yet it glorifieth him, and therefore it is insisted upon as a necessary return for the favors we have re. ceived from God. While I am here in this land of the living, I will walk by faith, having mine eyes ever towards the Lord, to see him as he reveals himself; hoping that, shortly, in that land which is truly the land of the living, above, I shall walk by sight, having mine eyes ever upon the Lord, to see him as he is. God hath here sealed to me to be to me a God all. sufficient : here, therefore, I seal to him, according to the tenor of the covenant, that, his grace enabling me, I will walk before him, and will be upright'....Gen. xvii. 1.
(7.) I will pay my vows unto the Lord'....ver. 14
18. Those that receive the blessings of the covenant, must be willing not only to come, but always to abide under the bonds of the covenant. Here we must make vows, and then go away and make them good. More of this in the next chapter.
Directions concerning the solemn vows we are to make
to God in this ordinance. A RELIGIOUS vow is a bond upon the soul; so it is described, Numb. xxx. 2, where he that voweth a vow unto the Lord, is said thereby to bind his soul with a bond. It is a solemn promise, by which we voluntarily oblige ourselves to God and duty, as a 'willing people in the day of his power.... Psal. cx. 3. The cords of a man, and bands of love, wherewith God draws us, and holds us to himself, call upon us by our own act and deed to bind our selves; and these vows also are cords of a man, for they are highly reasonable, and bands of love, for, to the renewed soul, they are an easy yoke, and a light burden.
From all the other parts of our work at the Lord's table, we may infer, that this is one part of it: we must there make solemn vows to God, that we will diligently and faithfully serve him.
(1.) We are here to renew our repentance for sin, and it becomes penitents to make vows. profess ourselves sorry for what we have done amiss, it is
very natural and necessary to add, that, we will not offend any more, as we have done: if I have done iniquity, I will do so no more'.... Yob xxxiv. 31, 32. We mock God, when we say, we repent that we have done foolishly, if we do not at the same time resolve that we will never again return to folly.... Psal. lxxxv. 8. Times of affliction are proper times to make vows; and what is repentance but self-affliction? Trouble for sin was not the least of that trouble which David was in, when his lips uttered those vows which he speaks so feelingly of.... Psal. lxvi. 13, 14. Probably it was under this penitential affliction that he sware unto the Lord, and vowed unto the mighty God of Jacob, that he would find a place for the ark'