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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
Psalms 37

 

 

Verses 3-6

DISCOURSE: 564

CONFIDENCE IN GOD RECOMMENDED

Psalms 37:3-6. Trust in the Lord, and do good: so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass: and he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day.

IT might be supposed that God, the righteous Governor of the universe, would in this world distinguish his people from his enemies by his visible dispensations towards them: but he does not: he suffers “all things to come alike to all; so that none can discern either love or hatred by all that is before them [Note: Ecclesiastes 9:1-2.].” This is often a stumbling-block to the righteous, who are apt to be discouraged, when they see the prosperity of the wicked, and are themselves suffering all manner of adversity. David was at one time greatly dejected, or rather, I should say, offended, at this very thing; and was led to imagine that he had served God for nought [Note: Psalms 73:1-14.]. To guard us against such mistaken views of providence, and against the feelings which they are wont to excite in the breast, he wrote this psalm. That we may not repine at the success of evil-doers, he teaches us to consider, how short their triumph is, and how awful will be their end. He then, in the words of our text, instructs us,

I. What we are to do for God—

It is here taken for granted that we have many difficulties to contend with. But instead of being discouraged by them, our duty to God is,

1. To go on steadily in his service—

[“Trust thou in the Lord, and do good.” It should be an established principle in our hearts, that duty is ours, and events are God’s; and that we should attend to our own concerns, and leave God to his. Now beyond all doubt our great concern is, to prosecute and “finish the work which God has given us to do.” We should not merely attend to good works in general, but consider what is that particular “good” which God is calling us to do: perhaps it is to exercise meekness and patience; or perhaps to put forth fortitude and firmness. In the event of persecution for righteousness’ sake, these graces must be cultivated with more than ordinary attention, and be called into action in a more than ordinary degree. We are not to be perplexing our minds with inquiries how we may avert the storm which is gathering around us, but be solely careful not to be shaken either in our principles or conduct, or in any respect to dishonour that God whom we profess to serve. Without this fidelity in the path of duty, all trust in God will be a delusion: but, combined with it, our trust in him is a most pleasing and acceptable service.]

2. To seek our happiness in his presence—

[Fidelity itself would not be acceptable, if it proceeded from a principle of slavish fear: we must regard God as a Father, and “delight ourselves in him.” It is not a low measure of spirituality that we should aim at: we should aspire after such an enjoyment of God as David himself spake of, when he said, “I will go unto God, my exceeding joy [Note: Psalms 43:4.].” In order to this, we should meditate upon all his glorious perfections, and especially on those perfections as displayed and magnified in the work of redemption. O! what wonders of love and mercy may we see in our incarnate, our redeeming God! In the contemplation of these we should exercise ourselves day and night, till the fire kindle in our bosoms, and we burst forth in acclamations and hosannahs to our adorable Emmanuel. Say, ye who have ever been so occupied, whether such “meditations be not sweet;” and whether “your souls have not been satisfied as with marrow and fatness,” when you have been so employed?]

3. To commit our every concern to his disposal—

[Our duty in this respect may not unfitly be illustrated by the confidence which passengers in a ship place in a skilful pilot and an able commander. They trust their persons and their property to the pilot without any anxious cares or painful apprehensions. Conscious of their own incapacity to navigate the ship, they presume not to interfere in the management of the vessel, but leave the whole concern to those whose province it is to conduct it. Whatever storms may arise, they look to him who is at the helm to steer the vessel to its destined port. Thus does the believer commit his way unto the Lord. To God he looks as ordering every thing for his good, yea, as having, if we may so speak, a community of interest with him, and as pledged to bring him in safety to the harbour where he would be. If any anxious thought arise, he checks it; and “casts all his care on Him, who careth for him.” This we should do in reference to every concern whatever. In relation to temporal things, we should have no more anxiety than the fowls of the air, which subsist from day to day on the bounty of their Creator [Note: Matthew 6:25-34.]: and even in reference to the soul, the same entire confidence must be placed in God, who has engaged to carry on and perfect in his people the work he has begun [Note: Philippians 1:6.]. Let us not however be misunderstood to say, that we are to put away a jealous fear of ourselves: that we must retain even to the end of our lives: but an unbelieving fear of God, as either unable or unwilling to save us, we must cast it off with abhorrence, and “be strong in faith, giving glory to God.”]

The promises annexed to these several injunctions shew,

II. What God will do for us—

Truly he will do exceeding abundantly for us above all that we can ask or think—

1. He will supply our wants—

[Great and urgent they may be, even like those with which Israel was oppressed on different occasions in the land of Canaan: but God will interpose for us in the hour of need, so that “verily we shall be fed.” Under the pressure of their troubles, many Jews deserted their own land, and sought for security or plenty among their heathen neighbours: thus they rather fled from trouble, than looked to God, as they should have done, to relieve them from it. We must not act thus: we must not desert our post because of difficulties which we meet with in it; but must expect from God all those supplies of grace and strength which we stand in need of. “He that believeth, will not make haste:” he will not presently despond, because he sees not how his wants are to be supplied; but will remember, that, as “the earth, and the fulness thereof, is the Lord’s,” so there is all fulness of spiritual blessings also treasured up for him in Christ, and he will look to Christ for daily communications, according as his necessities may require. The Lord did not give to Elijah a store of provision that should suffice for months to come, but sent him bread and meat twice a day by the ministration of ravens, and afterwards a daily supply from the widow’s cruse. In the same manner will he impart a sufficiency of temporal and spiritual blessings to all who trust in him; and “according to their day, so their strength shall be.” “The soul that trusts in Him shall want no manner of thing that is good.”]

2. He will fulfil our desires—

[If our desires were after the things of time and sense, we might expect to have them withheld from us: but if they be, as the believer’s are, after God himself, we shall never be disappointed: on the contrary, the more earnest and enlarged our desire is, the more certain we are that God will fulfil and satisfy it. The more “wide we open our mouth,” the more assured we are that “he will fill it.” “He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him; he also will hear their cry, and will help them.” Do we desire increasing “views of his glory? He will put us into the cleft of the rock, and make all his goodness to pass before our eyes [Note: Exodus 33:18-23.].” Do we desire a more intimate and abiding communion with him? He will “come and dwell in us, and walk in us, and be altogether our God [Note: 2 Corinthians 6:16.].” Do we desire a more entire conformity to him? He will “transform us into his image from glory to glory,” by the sanctifying influence of his Holy Spirit [Note: 2 Corinthians 3:18.]. There shall not be a thing that we can ask, but he will give it us, if only it will be conducive to our spiritual and eternal welfare [Note: John 15:7 and 1 John 5:14-15. with Psalms 21:1-2.].]

3. He will give a happy issue to all our concerns—

[There may be many difficulties in our way, and such as shall be to all appearance insurmountable; but He who made a path through the Red Sea, will remove them all in due time. Whatever in his wisdom he sees to be best for us, “he will bring it to pass.” We may labour under many discouragements by reason of calumnies which are circulated respecting us: the world may represent us as enthusiasts that “turn the world upside down,” as deceivers that are seeking some base ends of our own, as abettors of sedition, and enemies to civil government; in a word, they may speak of us as “the filth of the earth, and the off-scouring of all things;” but God will not leave us to sink under these reproaches: he will sooner or later appear for us, and “make our righteousness to shine forth as the noon-day.” We shall have “good report to pass through, as well as evil report;” and our very demeanour under our persecutions shall carry conviction to the minds of many, that we are indeed the sons of God [Note: Matthew 27:54.]. At all events, if not before, at least at the day of judgment, our reproach shall be rolled away, and “we shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of our Father [Note: Matthew 13:43].”]

Reflections. See from hence,

1. What they lose who are ignorant of God—.

[All that is implied either in the precepts or the promises of our text is altogether unknown to those who experience not the power of religion in their hearts. Whatever burthens they have, are borne upon their own shoulders: they know not what it is to cast them upon the Lord. Hence, when oppressed with heavy trials, they faint and sink under them; and for want of the consolations and supports of religion, they not unfrequently meditate, and sometimes also carry into execution, the awful act of suicide. O that men did but know what provision there is made for them in the Gospel of Christ! In, and with Christ, there is all that we can want, for body or for soul, for time or for eternity — — — Only let us seek to be washed in his blood, to be renewed by his Spirit, and to live altogether by faith on him; and we shall find such rich supplies, such heavenly consolations, such a fulness of all spiritual and eternal blessings, as shall far surpass all that the carnal eye has ever seen, and all that the carnal imagination has ever conceived [Note: 1 Corinthians 2:9.].]

2. What they enjoy who live nigh to God—

[Contemplate the state of those who are now in heaven; how free from care, and how completely happy in the fruition of their God! Such in a measure may our state be even in this present world. Those who believe in Christ are privileged to rejoice in him, yea, and many do “rejoice in him, with joy unspeakable and glorified.” By committing themselves, and all their concerns, to him, “their very thoughts, which are naturally as fluctuating as the wind, are established [Note: Proverbs 16:3.].” O Believers, live not below your privileges: carry every thing to your adorable Saviour, and expect from him all that infinite love can give, and all that Omnipotence can effect. “All things are yours, if ye are Christ’s;” even “death itself, as well as life, is among your treasures [Note: 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.]:” and soon shall all the glory and felicity of heaven be your unalienable and everlasting possession.]


Verse 23-24

DISCOURSE: 565

GOD’S INTEREST IN HIS PEOPLE

Psalms 37:23-24. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.

THAT Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth, should regard one rather than another amongst the sinners of mankind, appears incredible; and for any one to imagine himself to be amongst those who are pre-eminently favoured by him, would be judged a height of arrogance, to which scarcely any one of a sound mind could be supposed to have attained. But the Holy Scriptures are extremely clear, and full, and definite upon this point. God does condescend to notice with peculiar kindness those who walk uprightly before him: whilst he beholds with indignation and abhorrence those who, whether openly or in secret, rebel against him. To establish this is the great scope of this psalm, wherein the states of the godly and of the ungodly are contrasted with each other in this respect. From the words which I have just read, we shall necessarily be led to notice,

I. The interest which God takes in his people—

“He orders their steps”—

[In the marginal translation it is said that a good man’s steps are “established” by the Lord. The fact is, the Lord so orders them, that they may be established. The very first work of the Lord in his people, is, to bring them to Christ, and to “establish them in Christ [Note: John 6:44; John 6:65 and 2 Corinthians 1:21.].” Till this is done, they never take any step that can effectually bring them to heaven — — — When that is done, then they are enabled to “walk in Christ [Note: Colossians 2:6.],” and, by strength derived from him, to advance in righteousness and true holiness — — —]

“He delights in their ways”—

[True, their ways are far from perfect: and, if God were to be “extreme to mark what is done amiss,” no man living could stand before him. But God looks rather at the principle from whence their actions proceed, and at the end for which they are done, than at the perfection of the actions themselves; and when he sees that their actions proceed from love, and are done for the glory of his name, he cannot but feel delight, both in the persons themselves, and in the works they perform; even as a parent delights in the services of a loving and duteous child, not considering so much the excellence of the act as the disposition manifested in the performance of it. On another ground, too, Jehovah delights in the ways of his people, namely, because they are “the fruits of his Spirit” working in them [Note: Galatians 5:22-23.]. In this view there is not an act this they perform, which is “not pleasing and acceptable in his sight [Note: Hebrews 13:16. 1 Peter 3:4. Philippians 1:11.]” — — —]

“He upholds them with his hand”—

[Notwithstanding the grace given unto them, they are yet weak and frail, so that “still in many things they offend [Note: James 3:2.];” and, if left to themselves, they would eternally perish. “There is not a just man on earth that liveth and sinneth not [Note: Ecclesiastes 7:20.].” But in this the righteous differ from the wicked, that, notwithstanding they fall, yea, and “fall seven times, they rise again; whilst the wicked, in their falls, are left to perish [Note: Proverbs 24:16.].” The Lord Jesus Christ has engaged for them that “none shall ever pluck them out of his hands [Note: John 10:28-29.].” And this is fulfilled to every one of them, insomuch, that “of those whom the Father in his everlasting covenant gave unto his Son, not one ever was, or shall be, lost [Note: John 17:12.].” They all, in their respective generations, are “kept by the power of God through faith unto everlasting salvation [Note: 1 Peter 1:5.]” — — —]

These truths can never be abused, if we consider, on the other hand,

II. What return he looks for at their hands—

Doubtless it is God who alone can give men “either to will or to do that which is good [Note: Philippians 2:13.]:” but, as the Articles of our Church express it, “He worketh in us, that we may will; and then worketh with us, when we have that good will.” Though all good proceeds from him, yet he expects a reciprocity on our part.

1. We must cheerfully obey his will—

[We take no step by constraint. We are free agents in all that we do. True it is that God draws us; but he draws us, not as stocks and stones, but “with the cords of a man, and with the bands of love [Note: Hosea 11:4.].” If we would have our ways pleasing to God, we must seek to please him; and if we would have our “steps ordered and established by him,” we must consult his revealed will, and commit ourselves to the guidance of his Holy Spirit. He has promised, that, in circumstances of difficulty, “we shall hear a word behind us, saying, This is the way; walk ye in it: when we should otherwise be turning to the right hand or to the left [Note: Isaiah 30:21.]:” and this promise we must plead in prayer, until, by some way which God shall devise, we see, as it were, the pillar and the cloud going before us, and experience that direction which our necessities require — — —]

2. We must simply depend on his care—

[”It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” A little infant does not more need to be carried in its mother’s arms than we need the continual support of God. But he promises that “his everlasting arms shall be underneath us [Note: Deuteronomy 33:27.],” and that we shall be “carried as lambs in the bosom of our Lord [Note: Isaiah 40:11.].” But in order to this, we must renounce all confidence in our own powers, and say, “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength [Note: Isaiah 45:24.].” If, like Peter, we depend on ourselves, we shall fall: but, if we cry habitually to him, “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe [Note: Psalms 119:117.],” we shall be strengthened with might by his Spirit in our inward man, and be enabled to “do all things through Christ strengthening us [Note: Philippians 4:13.].” The weaker we are in ourselves, the stronger we shall be in him [Note: 2 Corinthians 12:10.]; and, though we be “sifted by Satan” with his utmost efforts [Note: Luke 22:31.], “not so much as the smallest grain shall ever fall upon the earth [Note: Amos 9:9.].” For “it is not the will of our Father that one of his little ones should perish [Note: Matthew 18:14.].”]

Address,

1. The self-confident and secure—

[Where do you find in the Holy Scriptures any one of these promises made to you? Where has God engaged to “order your steps,” or declared himself “delighted with your ways?” Or where has he assured you that your falls shall not be unto death? Not one word is there in all the inspired volume that can serve as a foundation of hope to you, whilst you are leaning to your own understanding, or depending on an arm of flesh. On the contrary, there is nothing but perdition denounced against you [Note: Jeremiah 17:5-6.]. Beloved Brethren, do but contrast with your condition the states of God’s believing and obedient people; and you will see, that they alone are blessed, whose hearts are upright, and “whose God is the Lord.”]

2. The fearful and disconsolate—

[Many, under a sense of their great infirmities, are ready to fear, that, notwithstanding all that God has spoken for their encouragement, they shall come short at last. But, if only you really desire to please and serve God, see how full and suitable are the promises of God to you: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee: yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness [Note: Isaiah 41:10.].” Are you weak? God says, “I will strengthen you.” Are you apprehensive that nothing less than Omnipotence can administer sufficient aid? God adds, “I will help you.” Are you still alarmed because there is something yet left for you to do? God adds, I will take the whole matter into my own hands, and “altogether uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness.” “Be strong, then, in faith, giving glory to God;” and “you shall not be ashamed or confounded, world without end.”]


Verse 31

DISCOURSE: 566

THE SECURITY OF THE UPRIGHT SOUL

Psalms 37:31. The law of his God is in his heart: none of his steps shall slide.

THE blessedness of the righteous is a favourite subject with the sweet singer of Israel: several of his psalms are occupied with it throughout; and often in a way of immediate contrast with the state of the ungodly. As far as respects the outward appearance indeed, the advantage is often on the side of the wicked [Note: ver. 1.]: but on a fuller view of their respective states, there will be found the most abundant cause to congratulate the saints even in their lowest condition, so infinitely superior is their lot to that of the most prosperous of ungodly men [Note: ver. 16.]. The ungodly, walking after the imagination of their own hearts, have “their way dark and slippery,” so that, sooner or later, they are sure to “fall” and “perish [Note: Psalms 35:6-8. with ver. 13–15, 20.]:” but the “righteous,” having their minds intent upon true wisdom, “are preserved, whilst the seed of the wicked are cut off [Note: ver. 28, 30.].” “The law of God is in his heart: none of his steps shall slide.”

From these words we shall be led to shew,

I. The character of the righteous—

“The law of God is in his heart.” It was not there by nature; for though it was originally inscribed on the heart of Adam in Paradise [Note: Genesis 1:27.], and traces of it are yet to be found on the hearts even of the benighted heathen [Note: Romans 2:15.], yet is it so far effaced from the heart of the natural man, that he neither does nor will yield any subjection to it [Note: Romans 8:7.]. But,

God has engraven it on his heart—

[The express promise of God to all who embrace the new covenant is, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts [Note: Jeremiah 31:33.].” And this promise he fulfils, through the all-powerful operation of his Holy Spirit upon their souls. As he caused Moses to come up to him on Mount Horeb with tables of stone, on which with his own finger he wrote the law, so he causes the believing penitent to come up to him with his heart of stone; and then, exchanging it for a heart of flesh, he inscribes upon it his law, even,, as the Apostle says, upon the fleshy tables of his heart [Note: Ezekiel 36:26-27. with 2 Corinthians 3:3.]. We are told respecting all the Lord’s people, that they are “predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ [Note: Romans 8:29.]:” and in this their conformity to him pre-eminently appears: that, as He could say, “I delight to do thy will, O my God. yea, thy law is within my heart [Note: Psalms 40:8.],” and as he was typically represented by the ark in which the law was deposited [Note: Deuteronomy 10:2; Deuteronomy 10:5.], so these have the law treasured up in their souls; and they delight in it, as their ever-faithful monitor, and infallible directory [Note: Psalms 1:2.]. From the time that it is deposited there, they regard it solely, constantly, and without reserve. Formerly the opinions of men, or the dictates of flesh and blood, formed their rule of action: now no inquiry is made, but, “What saith the Lord?” — — — Nor is it on great emergencies only that this inquiry is instituted, but at all times and on all occasions — — — Nor are consequences any longer regarded. If a furnace or den of lions be prepared as the recompense of fidelity, he says, “None of these things move me:” I shall “hearken unto none but God” himself — — —]

This forms his distinguishing character—

[Others have the law of God in their head, and not unfrequently in their mouth also: but he alone has it in his heart. There may be amongst the ungodly as comprehensive a knowledge of theology as of any other science, if taken in a mere speculative view: but this is widely different from a spiritual apprehension of God’s law, and a conformity of mind and will to it: this pertains to him only who has it written on his heart by the Spirit of God: for so the prophet informs us: “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law [Note: Isaiah 51:7.].” To know, in a speculative way, how a sinner is to be made righteous before God, will consist with the grossest impiety: but the having of God’s law in the heart infallibly designates, and proves, us the people of the Lord. There is in this respect the same difference between the nominal and the real Christian as there was formerly between different adherents to the Mosaic law. “All were not Israel who were of Israel [Note: Romans 9:6.].” The proudest Pharisees would “bind the law of God upon their hands, and wear it as frontlets between their eyes:” but the godly alone fulfilled the true intent of that ordinance, by “laying up God’s words in their heart and in their soul [Note: Deuteronomy 11:18.].” So now “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew who is one inwardly: and circumcision is that of the heart; in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of man, but of God [Note: Romans 2:28-29.].” In other words, he only is truly righteous, who can say with Paul, “I delight in the law of God after my inward man;” and amidst all the temptations of the flesh, “with my mind I serve the law of God [Note: Romans 7:22; Romans 7:25.].”]

In connexion with their character, we are led to contemplate,

II. Their security—

“None of their steps shall slide.” Of this they may be assured: for a stability is, and shall be, given them, that shall preserve them amidst all temptations; a stability arising,

1. Partly, from the very character which they possess—

[“The law of God being in their hearts,” they will not unnecessarily venture themselves in slippery places. How many fall a prey to the tempter by presuming upon their strength, when, like Joseph, they should rather have fled from the scene of temptation! It is by going fearlessly to the utmost verge of what is lawful, that thousands perish [Note: ‘Licitis perimus omnes’ has long been a proverb in the Church.]. The inquiry of a truly pious soul will be, not, “Is this thing lawful?” but, “Is it expedient also?” and, if the place, or scene, or gratification be calculated, either in itself or in its circumstances, to ensnare his soul, he will keep at a distance from it: for, whilst he is praying daily to God, “Lead us not into temptation,” he accounts it folly and impiety to rush unnecessarily into temptation of his own accord. This cautious deportment tends greatly to the preservation of the godly, and to “keep them from defiling their garments” in this polluted world [Note: Revelation 3:4.].

Moreover, they are looking to this law to direct their steps. They “have hid it within their hearts, on purpose that they may not sin against God [Note: Psalms 119:11.]:” but to what purpose have they deposited it there, if they do not consult it? or “wherewith shall they cleanse their way, but by taking heed thereto according to God’s word [Note: Psalms 119:9.]?” Whatever then they are solicited to do, they bring it to this touchstone, and try it “by the law and the testimony.” If they find not the precept clear, they hesitate: and, if they find not the footsteps of Christ and his Apostles, they pause. They know, that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin [Note: Romans 14:23.]:” and, till they can see their way clear, and be “thoroughly persuaded in their own mind,” they will not proceed [Note: Romans 14:5.]; lest they lay a stumbling-block in the way of others, and bring guilt upon their own souls [Note: 1 Corinthians 8:11-13.].

I may add further, that they will pray unto God to guide them. They know their privilege: they know that God has said, that, if they call upon him for direction, “they shall hear a word behind them,” saying, “This is the way; walk ye in it;” when without such a direction “they would have turned to the right hand or to the left [Note: Isaiah 30:21.].” They therefore in every difficulty betake themselves to prayer; and experience the truth of that promise, “The meek he will guide in judgment; the meek he will teach his way [Note: Psalms 25:9.].”]

2. Principally, from the care and fidelity of God—

[God has promised that “he will keep the feet of his aints [Note: 1 Samuel 2:9.],” and that “none of their steps shall slide:” and this promise he does, and will, fulfil. He fulfils it to them in a variety of ways. He “takes them, as a mother does her little child, by their hand, and guides them in their way [Note: Hosea 11:3.]:” and, when they are weak, “he strengthens them with might in their inward man [Note: Ephesians 4:16. Colossians 1:11]:” and, when they would otherwise fall, he upholds them with his own almighty arms; agreeably to that express promise which he has given them; “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness [Note: Isaiah 41:10.].” Thus is fulfilled that promise which is contained within a few verses of our text, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord,: though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand [Note: ver. 23, 24.].” We may wonder whence it is that the people of God in all ages have been enabled to maintain their steadfastness in such trying circumstances: but the true reason is to be found in that inviolable engagement which God has entered into, that “they shall hold on their way, and that their hands shall wax stronger and stronger [Note: Job 17:9.]:” and this promise he has fulfilled to them, giving them “strength according to their day [Note: Deuteronomy 33:25.],” and enabling them “to do all things through his strength communicated to them [Note: Philippians 4:13.].”]

Hence then we may see,

1. Whence it is that so many professors of religion dishonour their high and holy calling—

[It is a melancholy fact, that many who profess godliness are a disgrace to their profession — — — And by their falls they bring the very truth of God into disrepute. But whence is it that their walk is so inconsistent? Is it from any want of power or fidelity in God to keep them? No: it arises from this; that they have taken up a profession upon false and insufficient grounds: they have got the law in their heads, and in their mouths, but have never truly received it into their hearts. None will shew more zeal for the tenets they have embraced than they, or talk more fluently respecting them: but they have never been “cast into the mould of the Gospel.” Their sentiments have been altered; but their hearts are unchanged; or, if changed at all, it is only in that they have adopted the spiritual lusts of pride and conceit, and false confidence, in the place of the carnal lusts of worldliness and uncleanness; or, it may be, they have added the former to the latter, affecting only the concealment of former evils, and not the utter extirpation of them. What then is to be expected from such persons, but that they will dishonour their profession? From such roots nothing can be hoped for, but bitter fruits. But let not the blame be cast upon religion. “They have a name to live, but they are dead.” If ever they had received the law of God into their hearts, it would have produced its due effect upon their lives; and not upon the outward deportment only, but on every temper and disposition of their minds. Religion is, and must be, the same in all ages: if it transformed the saints of other days into the image of their God in righteousness and true holiness, it will do so still: and, if the conduct of any who profess it be unworthy of their high calling, let the blame attach where it ought, not on religion, but on those who make a hypocritical profession of it. Only let the law be in the heart, and we have no fear of the fruits that will appear in the life.]

2. How inseparable is the union between duty and privilege—

[The self-depending formalist who dreads the mention of privilege, and the Antinomian professor who hates the mention of duty, are equally remote from the truth of God. Depend on God we must; for it is He who must work all our works in us. And obey his law we must: for “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” Neither can supersede the other. To the Antinomian then I say, “Let the word of God abide in you; and let it dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” And to the formalist I say, Look unto God to begin, and carry on, the whole work of grace in your hearts; for without Him you can do nothing. Let both of you know, that both confidence in God, and obedience to Him, are necessary: it is only by a reliance on Him that you can obtain strength for obedience; and it is only by obedience that you can prove the sincerity of your faith and love. But whilst to those who would lean to either extreme I would say, “What God has joined, let no man put asunder,” I would most affectionately encourage the true Christian to expect all that God has promised. Your difficulties may be great, and your conflicts severe; but “your Redeemer is mighty;” and He who bought you with his blood, regards you as his purchased possession, and will suffer “none to pluck you out of his hands.” He has promised to carry on and perfect his work in your hearts; and what he has promised, he is able also to perform. Only be careful to know and do his will; and He will bear you up in his everlasting arms, and “preserve you blameless to his heavenly kingdom.”]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 37:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/psalms-37.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, November 11th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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