18 April 2022 by Published in: John M'Kenzie, Sermons No comments yet

A Sermon Preached By John M’Kenzie At Providence Chapel, Eden St, Hampstead Rd, on Lord’s Day morning, August 15th, 1847

“O Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob, our fathers; keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people; and prepare their heart unto thee.”—1 Chronicles 29:18

The preaching of the gospel of Christ is one of the greatest blessings which God confers upon the church, next to the gift of the beloved Son and the Scriptures; because it pleaseth God “by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” When I say preaching, I mean such as God alone sends and blesses to the salvation of souls, and the glory of his own name. Where such preaching is, it is a prominent blessing. On the other hand, that preaching which is neither commissioned by nor owned of God is the greatest plague the church of God can be burdened with. The former proceeds immediately from God; the latter from the flesh, pride, and the devil. And as the Spirit raised up the Apostles in the days of Christ, and sent them out to preach the gospel with power; so Satan also sent forth men, transforming them into angels of light, “false apostles, deceitful workers”; and these, in all ages, are a plague to the church of God. The Spirit moved John to tell the churches to “try the spirits” to see that they were of God, and to bring their teaching to God’s test. And what is God’s test? First, the Scriptures; secondly, the Spirit’s w’ork in the hearts of God’s people. If they do not agree with this, they are not of God.

Some have a desire to preach, and from that feeling conclude it must be of God. They go forth, and try their gift; but their preaching is only from self. “What mark, then, have we that a man is really sent of God to preach?” some will say. “Is it because the Scripture is applied to his mind to go?” That is not always a safe nor certain rule. For we have known women who have had Scripture applied to their minds to preach; but I am sure the Lord never applied Scripture for such a purpose. Not but that the Scriptures may be, and are frequently applied to a preacher’s mind; but the best test, the safest evidence that the man is sent of God, and that the Lord has raised him up to be his servant and mouth to his people, is the people themselves. When you hear of a clever workman, you may credit what people say; but when you see his work, it speaks for itself. So when a man’s work speaks for itself in the church of God, that is, in the hearts and consciences of the people, it needs no further evidence. The people hear it, feel it, fall under it, and living effects are produced by it.

Then again, respecting those whom we believe are sent of God. They are constantly in danger of deficiency on the one hand, or of extravagancy and extreme on the other; of being too little or too much; of coming short on some points, or exceeding on others. Thus, even the Lord’s own commissioned servants need keeping, teaching, and preserving in the way of truth.

We find some standing up to preach nothing but doctrines; scarcely anything you can hear from the beginning of the sermon to the conclusion, week after week, and year after year, but the doctrines of grace, and those stared in a dead, dry, lifeless, systematic way, so that they dry up and harden the hearts of God’s children. It is nothing but the bare letter; nothing to soften, bless, and melt the heart. The Apostle says, “We are able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” It is thes pirit, the spirit of truth, that giveth life; and not bare, dry, doctrinal statements of truth. But we find some men constantly preaching doctrines; and if there be any experience, it is only in such a way as leaves a fear that it is gathered out of books, or learnt in some other way.

Then again; there arc others worse than this. They seem to have a deep antipathy to the tried, afflicted, people of God; a determined enmity and hatred to everything like the painful, deep, heart- harrowing exercises of the people of God; they cut and stab at doubts and fears, gloom and despondency, as if if were some capital crime, and as if the people of God took pleasure in them. This is also a mistake and error. I will tell you where the sting of it lies: it is doctrinal free-will. There are two kinds of free-will: first, thorough Arminian free-will, which totally denies the doctrines of grace; and secondly, doctrinal free-will, which holds the doctrines of grace, but carries free-will into experience. Neither of these will God own or bless; nor will they profit the tried and exercised of the Lord’s family. Such persons will tell you, “God’s saints make a hobby of doubts and fears”; but I deny it, and say it is a libel on God’s saints. I do not know one in London, or in England, who does so. It is an insult to the church of God. Can a man make a hobby of his wants, his distresses, or his afflictions, when they come? Surely not. And I do not envy the man who can hear it comfortably, or the man who can preach it. Doubts and fears are the infirmities and weaknesses of God’s saints; the same as abscesses, wounds, and fevers are the infirmities and diseases of our mortal bodies. But when a man is wounded, diseased, or afflicted, are we to stab, to cut, and to whip him, because of these infirmities? Are we to tell him to heal his wounds, and that he is dishonouring God by having them? He knows he has wounds; he feels his distresses, afflictions, and sorrows; his heart cries, groans, and sighs over them. But are we therefore to say, “He makes a hobby of them?” I say, no: I never met with such Christian men; it there be such, they are unknown to me. I have been from end to end and from side to side of this land among the churches, and I have never met with any but those who have felt doubts and fears to be a source of pain and grief to them.

But can you rid the Lord’s family of doubts and fears by troubling and grieving them? Is a man saved from drowning by pushing him into the water? Can you whip God’s people out of their distresses, or scold them out of their fears? What says God? “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saithyour God: speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins” (Isaiah 40. L2). So then, though subject to doubts, fears, and soul exercises; though thus dark, blind, and obscure, at times; tell them that it is the leper, the halt, the lame, and the blind, that God saves. What indeed has made Job’s trials so sweet to the church of God? Is it not being plunged into the same fire, and passing through a measure of the same trials? This is the way to raise up hope, and put down unbelief; this is the way to comfort and bless their souls: by preaching the truth to them; by plentifully declaring the thing as it is, and not by trying to flog them out of their doubts and fears with legal whips, as some attempt to do. We are therefore to “try the spirits,” and examine every man’s doctrine and preaching, to see that it be in accordance with the Lord’s testimony and the Spirit’s teaching in our souls.

Then again, there are others who preach experience, good experience, and sweet experience too, an experience I should be sorry to put a rude finger on; sorry indeed, for it is an experience that my soul has felt and loved. But I must say, it is often preached so exclusively and constantly from sermon to sermon, and from Lord’s day to Lord’s day, that the glorious doctrines of grace are scarcely mentioned at all. But God says, “My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass” (Deuteronomy 32. 2). God’s people want feeding with the whole Word of God; they want to be enlightened in their minds, and strengthened in their judgments; to he taught the glorious truths of the gospel; to have the living experience of God’s saints described as it is recorded in the Bible; they want also the precepts set forth, as Paul said to Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to he ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” How few, alas, do we see who are really sent of God, and who rightly divide the word of truth in the present day! There are few Huntingtons and Gadsbys now! How seldom do we hear “the whole truth, and nothing hut the truth!”

The living soul needs both doctrine and experience. Read the first chapter of the Ephesians. Look at the glorious and blessed foundation the Apostle lays. He takes you up, first, to the eternal purposes, decrees, and grace of God before the world was made; he then shows the immutable and absolute work of the Spirit in sealing upon the soul the love and blood of the Lamb.

This appears to me the way in which the gospel from time to time should be preached. One feature of truth should not be dwelt on exclusively to the neglect of another. If experience is preached, and the doctrines are forgotten, a great portion of God’s Word is thrown away; and if doctrines without experience are set forth, the child of God is crippled, and much of his comfort is taken away. In fact, experience is built upon the doctrines. What is a heartfelt conviction of sin and repentance, but an experience built upon the doctrine of the fall of man? What is the knowledge of the joys of salvation, but an experience of the great doctrine of the atonement?

There are evils attending a place like this, where you are constantly supplied with fresh men. Supplies have their advantage; a fresh face, voice, and manners, bring many hearers; and not only so, but they keep up attention and excitement more or less, part of which is spiritual and part natural. Thus there is an advantage in supplies; but then, like eve17 other good, they have their setoff; they have their drawback and disadvantage; for when a man comes to preach to you for a few weeks, he cannot be expected to speak so much upon lesser points as he would at home, because he wishes to bring before you the most important and essential truths of the gospel; and the inevitable consequence is, that people are fed very much with one kind of food, and starved from another. 1 am not condemning the practice of having supplies; far from it; God will do his own work by his own means. I am merely stating their disadvantage.

But to proceed. We have both these things, doctrine and experience, in our text. “Well,” perhaps you will say, “since you are so clever in exposing the deficiencies of others, surely you will be free from them yourself.” I do not promise to do so; it is easier to see faults in others than to remedy them in ourselves. But 1 desire not to fall into what I see wrong or deficient. In the text I believe, we have the gospel of Christ both in the doctrine and experience of it.

1. I see then, first, the doctrine of the covenant God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Simple scriptural statements do not always arrest our minds; but there are times when the Spirit is pleased to discover to us their meaning, and then we see great beauty and glory in them. Thus it is with the phrase in the text, “The God ofAbraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” But why is he so named? In contradistinction from the gods of the pagans and heathens, which are no gods; and in contradistinction also from the God of creation. He is never called “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” as the God of creation; he is called Jehovah, God the Creator and Preserver. But when he is designated “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” something more than the God of creation is meant. If we had time to turn to Genesis 17, verses 8, 16 and 24, we should see why he is called “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” It is for this simple reason, because he is a covenant-making, and a covenant-performing God. Now when the Spirit is pleased to open up this glorious truth to the poor, guilty conscience, to the trembling and fearing mind, it is good news and glad tidings to his soul. He delights to hear that God is a covenant- making and a covenant-performing God. In the law he was a covenant-maker, but not a covenant-performer, in the sense here meant. God made a covenant with Adam; but Adam had to perform his part of the covenant, and failed. But in the gospel, the Lord makes and performs his covenant; he promises and accomplishes. His covenant is a covenant of promise, a singular sort of covenant. A covenant means a bargain, or agreement, which generally implies conditions on both sides. But here is a singular covenant, of a kind unknown in this world before it was promulgated, a covenant actually accomplished on the ground of his own promise. Say you, “What proof have you of this?” If you read Genesis 15. 5-6, you will see the nature of that covenant. God calls Abraham, and makes a free, unconditional promise to him. He does not say, “Abraham, if you will accept the promise, I will execute it”; but he makes the promise, says he will perform it, and seals it with his own oath. That covenant contains three things. First, God said he would make of Abraham a great nation. He brought him forth abroad, and said, Canst thou see the stars of heaven? Art thou able to number them? He was not; they were numberless. Then the Lord said, “So shall thy seed be.” Not only the seed of Abraham according to the flesh, but his spiritual seed; those who walk in the steps of father Abraham, who have Abraham’s faith, who are tried as Abraham was, and who have righteousness imputed to them as it was imputed to him. Another part of the promise was, to give him the land of Canaan for an inheritance. And the third promise was, that “in thee” (that is, in Christ, through Isaac, Jacob, Judah, David, and Solomon) “all nations of the earth should be blessed.”

Now did Abraham do anything to bring the promise into the world? Was he not dead two thousand years before Christ was born? The promise ran on after Abraham’s death; it was an absolute, free, and unconditional promise. God therefore, as the God ofAbraham, as a covenant-making and a covenant-keeping God, performed the promise, independent of Abraham’s doubts and fears, of his old age, or even of his death; and proved himself to be just such a God as Abraham needed. He went before him, preserved him, taught him, and wonderfully blessed him; he also planted him and increased him; and at last saved his soul, and took him to glory.

God also appeared as a covenant God to Isaac and Jacob, and gave the same promise to them. He repeated it to Isaac when his father and mother were dead. And it is a singular fact (perhaps it never struck your mind) that Isaac was never so peculiarly blessed during the life-time ofAbraham and Sarah as he was after their death. While he had these earthly comforts he did not stand so much in need of the blessing of God; but as soon as they were dead and buried, God took him by the hand, blessed him, and gave him the covenant of promise.

And so, likewise, with Jacob. When he went out from his father’s house to Padan-aram; when he had not a place to call his own, or even to find a lodging in; when he had but the earth for a bed, and a stone for a pillow; then he had a king’s guard to watch over him; and he awoke from his sleep, saying, “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28. 17). So when we are destitute of earthly comforts and friends, as well perhaps as of the preaching of the Word, the ordinances of the church, and the communion of saints, our souls will sometimes be comforted and blessed by the promise and presence of God. And it is often the case, when we have other things to comfort, caress, and hold us up, we do not enjoy and seldom get much of the blessing of God. We are not often peculiarly blessed in what may be called a “middling stare.” But in a condition of extreme trouble, when sinking up to the chin in the waters of affliction, or bowed down under the yoke of some heavy trouble, it is then God shines into our souls. I do not say that this is invariably the case, but usually it is so; at least it is the case with my soul; and it was so with Isaac and Jacob.

I can assure you, whether you feel it or not, that this is a truth very sweet and precious to tried souls, that God is a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. The power of sin, the sting of guilt, the remorse of conscience, the temptations of Satan, and the workings of the carnal mind, at times are such, that we feel nothing but a covenant-keeping God could ever bear with, support, and save us. But he can, and he will. The word has gone out of his mouth; and he would sooner deny his existence, alter the place of his throne, or change the universe, than deny his word. His word is a tried word, a faithful word: the word of promise, the word of an oath, the word of God. He is without change or shadow of turning, “the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” He does not repent; therefore he will surely accomplish his promise.

Well, but what has he promised? Amongst other things he has said, “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, 1 the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (Isaiah 41. 17-18). The Lord has made this gracious promise; but he has not said that his tried and afflicted people shall immediately and in their own time realize it. If we could always find the comfort of the promise the moment we sought it, we should not daily value it.

1 remember some years ago entreating the Lord to give me some testimony that I was his, and that my sins were pardoned. I thought if he did that, then I could bear and endure anything. The whole grief of my soul was that I had not that testimony. But if I had had it in my own time and when I desired it, where would the trial or the furnace have been? How would the gold have appeared? Eve17 one has his own peculiar trial, his own sorrow of heart, the plague-spot of his soul, his own incurable disease. Some have it in one way, some in another. But when the poor and needy seek water, and cannot find it, it is to make a way for the God of Israel to find it for them; it is to make it manifest that he is a covenant-keeping God. God does not bring his people into doubts and fears to teach them that they are the resting-place of the soul; these things accompany salvation, but they are not salvation. When a physician comes to a sick man, he does not heal the patient by simply looking at him; but he looks to ascertain the cause of the disease, and then sets about to cure it by applying his remedies. So the Lord brings his people to feel their diseases and their wants, that thus he may prepare their hearts and put their souls in a state to receive his remedies. It would be foolishness to apply a remedy where there is no disease. Christ came “not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” He says, “The whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.” The physician does not come to tell the sick man to remain in his sickness.

The Lord never tells his people they are incurable; because however deep they may sink, underneath them deeper still are the everlasting arms. Whatever their pains may be, any or all of them, they are not to be compared to the pain which the Lord suffered upon the cross. However heavy their sins, Christ bore them all. There was no remedy, no provision for the leprosy; Moses was not to heal it, if he could; neither were the priests to heal it. God smote with it, and he only could heal it; therefore the leper says, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean”; and the Lord did heal him. So it is with every sensible and needy soul, with every broken-hearted sinner, brought to see the free promise and the full performance of God’s covenant; it often tarries, but it comes at last. Poor Simeon lived long, waiting for the salvation of God; but at last he saw it, and said, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation” (Luke 2. 29-30). The Lord revealed this glorious covenant promise to Abraham two thousand years before its fulfilment. The Psalmist had beautifully described it one thousand years, and Isaiah had also prophesied of it seven hundred years, before it came. And as it was with Simeon then, so it is with the Christian now; he is made to long for and live upon the promise revealed to his heart, but not yet accomplished. He desires to have Christ manifested in his soul; he longs and prays for it many times; he lives upon the promise, and cannot give it up; he has a spiritual appetite, and he hungers after it. Eternity, heaven, and hell are before him; they all press upon his spirit, and move him to cry and plead with the Lord to accomplish the promise. So you see he does not live upon doubts and fears. No; they press forward like a thorn or a goad in his sides; and grace will keep him wrestling with the Lord to fulfil the promise in his experience.

I remember this was once sweetly fulfilled in my unworthy soul some years ago. I called upon a friend, who told me that one who was once a member said I was nothing but a “letter preacher.” I was not surprised at this, as the man bad been excommunicated from us. I will not say he was not a Christian, but be was doing mischief; and when people do that they must be cut off. He said I was “only a letter preacher,” because I said God’s people were born of the Spirit when they received spiritual conviction; while he said, they were not born again till they were blessed with hill liberty. I felt this fleshly boast in my mind, “Lord, if all men deny thee, yet will not I. I will not care what this man says.” But a horrid temptation soon came upon me. The temptation said, “What, if after all, it should be so; if, after preaching to others, I myself should be a castaway?” This was a painful trial to me; but God turned it into a blessing. I went home groaning and sighing; I opened the New Testament, and read Jesus’ words, where he says, “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you” (John 16. 21-22). That was a promise, and my soul held it fast.

I did not feel it fulfilled; blit I felt such a living upon God’s word, that I hung upon it; and the joy it gave neither sin nor death could take from me. And after the Lord had fulfilled his word in my soul, I knew him as a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. How singularly faith works! 1 had not then a shadow of doubt or fear; my soul was filled with power and life.

You, then, who are tried, troubled, and exercised in many ways, will find that you need a covenant-making and covenant-performing God. Has a promise ever been dropped into your heart? Be assured it will be fulfilled. 1 have put tip certain petitions in my soul; and to my shame be it spoken, like the ostrich, who leaves her eggs in the sand and forgets them, so have 1 gone my way and forgotten them. But God had not forgotten them, though 1 had; he mercifully and blessedly fulfilled them. If God has dropped a promise with divine unction into your soul, given you a sweet enjoyment of it, and encouraged your heart to hope in his word, rely upon it, he will accomplish the thing which has gone out of his mouth, and perform his covenant that he gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

2. Lastly, and very briefly, the text says, “Keep this for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people.” And observe how deeply it is lodged; it is not to be kept in their heads, nor in their hands, but in “the imagination of the thoughts of their hearts.” But what is it that is thus to be kept? That Jehovah, as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is a covenant-making and a covenant- keeping God.

But as this glorious truth was only one thing, and not all that was intended by the Holy Ghost, and as 1 do not wish to wrest Scripture from its meaning, let us for a moment or two refer to the context, where we shall see what the things are which David prays God to “keep in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of his people” continually. David had proposed in his mind to build the temple. But it was not to be raised at random; God had arranged the plan, as the temple was to be typical of glorious spiritual mysteries. The Lord the Spirit, therefore, moved David to write the plan in a book (1 Chronicles 28. 11-19). And this is a beautiful figure of God the Father purposing and planning the complete salvation and redemption of the church of God from before the foundation of the world. Every piece of stone in the spiritual temple, of the gold within and the marble without; everything was planned by the Father, and executed by the Son; the Father treasuring up all the purposes of mercy and grace in the Beloved, and sending him in the fulness of time to accomplish them, by providing him with everything suitable to the work. And David, in the spirit of prophecy, when beholding the complexity of his character, the union of Deity and humanity in the Person of the Redeemer, could say, “And in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139. 16). “Thou hast ascended on high; thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.”

David was not to build the temple, for he was “a man of war, and had shed blood.” But he was to prepare everything necessary for the building, and Solomon was to come forth, and build up the house in solemn quietness and peace.

Now this led David to speak in the beautiful way we have it in the text and context. The people had contributed gold, silver, and precious things to build the temple, and God had blessed these temporal gifts. Mark you, they were types of spiritual things. In the tenth verse it is said, “Wherefore David blessed the Lord before all the congregation; and he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, our father, for ever and ever. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty.” Here David ascribes various high titles to God. And this is part of what David prays might be “kept in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart” of the Lord’s people continually. “Seal it,” as if he said, “upon the hearts of thy people, that thou art the great, the almighty Jehovah, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things, to whom power belongeth; power to redeem from hell and death; power to quicken the dead; power to help the helpless; power to give faith, hope, and love; power to give pardon, patience, and dependence; power to cast out the enemy; power to help the weak; power to liberate the captive, and cause the disconsolate to rejoice.”

He goes on, “Thine is the glory.” To God the glory of salvation belongs from first to last: the beginning, the middle, and the end. The glory of covenant-purposes; the glory of redemption; the glory of the Spirit’s work; the glory of supplying all our wants out of the riches of his grace from day to day; the glory of delivering his people out of their temptations. 1 have been sighing under some temptation weeks, months, and even years. Well, what of that? Why this. I see the glory of God in subduing sin, and breaking the snare. It appears that David’s heart at one time was hard and worldly. But sin did not reign and rule, though it worked, worried, and harassed him. Nevertheless, grace at last broke his hard heart, sent the arrow of conviction into his soul, raised up confession and prayer, and so triumphed at last. I know the heart often sinks into helplessness and wretched forebodings; but at length the remedy is applied, and the soul is delivered; God is felt and found to be faithful to his promise, a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. “I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise” (Isaiah 43. 20-21). His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor his ways our ways; he confounds our wisdom, and works his own will.

“Keep these things in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart” of the people. It appears from this, that if the Lord did not do this, they would lose them; and it is a proof that we have a need of being kept.

Then he says, “Thine is the victory.” The Lord fights the battle of his people. He goes before them, follows after them, and is their rereward. He speaks to Jacob in this way, “Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument, having teeth, and thou shalt thresh the mountains” of sin, guilt, fear, and doubt into chaff. They are all broken before the Lord, who provides the instrument of faith that cuts them to pieces. The precious blood and righteousness of Christ, when applied to the conscience, blots out and covers all our sins; and then rough places are made plain and crooked things made straight. God is seen to be just when he forgives the sinner, and righteous when he pardons sin.

“For all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine, O Lord; and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all, and in thine hand is power and might; and with thee it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.” And then a profound feeling of humility bursts from his lips before the covenant-making and covenant-keeping God of Israel. “But who am I, Lord?” he says. Though he was the king of Israel, he ruled in the fear of the Lord. He well remembered that it was but the other day he was only a shepherd-boy, looking after the sheep on the hills. He recollected the period of his youth, while keeping his father’s sheep, how God endued him with superhuman power, when there came a lion and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock; and how he went out after them, and slew them both. He recollected also, how he took a sling and stone, and slew the giant; and how the Lord delivered him out of the hand of the Philistines. I have often thought of Samuel, when the Lord sent him to Jesse’s house to anoint one of his sons to be king over Israel. When Samuel saw Eliab, the firstborn, with his fine countenance and stature, walking so stately before him, he said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before me.” But the Lord had rejected him. Samuel looked only at the outward appearance; God looked at the heart. All the other sons ofJesse then passed before him; but none of them were chosen. At last the ruddy youth, the stripling David, was sent for; and when he made his appearance, God said to Samuel, “Arise, anoint him; for this is he whom I have chosen to be over my people Israel.” Recollecting all this, see how humble and simple grace makes him. “What am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? For all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.” What a confession of humility! What an acknowledgement that the gold and silver, and the cattle upon a thousand hills, are all the Lord’s!

Now, he says, “Lord, keep these things for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of thy people.” Give them a feeling sense of their earthly pedigree, and a deep consciousness that they are a corrupt, fallen, and degenerate race, for “Adam begat a son in his own likeness.” “What am I, that Christ should redeem me? That the Spirit should call me?” “Lord, I am the least of my father’s house.” “We are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers; our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.”

These, then, were the feelings which he prays God to “keep for­ ever in the imagination of the thoughts of the heart of his people.” That thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; that all we are is by thy providence and grace for time and for eternity; that the world, and the fulness thereof, is thine; that we are but strangers and sojourners upon the earth, as all our fathers were; that our days are like a shadow which passeth away, like a weaver’s shuttle, or like smoke out of a chimney; that we are but pilgrims and wayfaring men, seeking a better country. That what thou art as a covenant-making and a covenant-performing God; and what we are in ourselves as poor, lost, ruined, sinners; and what we are by free grace in thee. Keep all these things for ever in the imagination of the thoughts of our heart; confirm these glorious gospel truths in our minds; prepare our hearts unto thee; and ground, settle, and establish our souls in them as the unerring, faithful words of a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God.



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