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So I gave them up unto their own hearts lusts,
and they walked in their own counsels.
The great God is introduced in this psalm recounting to the children of Israel the many signal instances of favour and mercy which he had vouchsafed them in the times of their calamity and distress. A copious subject, fit, for an infinitely gracious God to enter upon, which can be exhausted by infinity alone.
Thou calledst upon me, says he, in trouble, and I delivered thee in all thy necessities, and answered every complaint. When you groaned under the cruel oppression of the Egyptian task-masters, I eased your shoulders from making the pots. I went through the land of Egypt, and destroying all their first born, brought you forth with a mighty hand, and a stretched out arm. .
Again, when you cried unto me in a new distress; when Pharaoh, with his chariots and horsemen, pursued and overtook you encamped at the Red Sea: the Egyptians whom you sator faminem anna from heaved of angels. Shed
that day with sore amazement and fear, ye saw them again no more for ever ; but, in raptures of joy sung, The Lord hath triumphed gloriously, the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
Once more, having escaped this danger, and got into a barren and dry wilderness, where famine and dearth seemed to reign, then I sent manna from heaven and fed you in abundance with the food of angels. I also smote the stony rock and the waters gushed out, and the streams flowed withal ; feeding and sustaining you at the expence of a daily miracle. Thus I plead my title to your obedi
ence. Wherefore, hear O my people, and I will "testify unto thee O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; there shall be no strange God in thee ; I am the Lord thy God which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, open thy mouth wide and I will fill it. Enlarge thy desires, and I will satisfy the utmost measure of them.
Could it be imagined that these people could so soon forget this God who had done so great things for them, and loved them almost to a degree of fondness? And yet, amazing to think on it! we find him entering a heavy complaint against them in the following words. But my people would not hear my voice, Israel would none of me; they turned aside quickly out. of the way which I commanded them, they made them a molten calf, and worshipped it; und sacrificed thereunto, and said these be thy Gods @ Israel which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. So being daily provoked and worn out by their obstinacy and ingratitude, I gave them un unto their own hearts lusts, and they walked in their own counsels.
Behold the just and extreme judgment of God upon incorrigible sivners, when he has tried all the ninethods of doctrine and discipline, correction and love, but in vain. Just is it therefore with God to leave those to themselves who have so ungratefully forsaken him; and dreadful is the condition of those who are so given up to their own hearts lusts, and suffered to walk in their own counsels. .
I shall endeavour to engage your attention, whilst I pursue this subject in the following manner.
First, I shall lay before you the necessity of God's assisting grace, in order to man's obedience. . Secondly, That nevertheless this grace is not always eflectual.
Thirdly, The justice of God in withdrawing the slightest offers of it.
Fourthly, The wretched condition of those from whom it is withdrawn.
And then I shall conclude with a short ap.plication.
I am in the first place, then to lay before you the necessity of God's assisting grace, in order to man's obedience. ..
All men in all ages have been sensible of the gri at proneness of human nature to evil; and the renowned philosophers of the heathen world, who studied nature much, and understood it well, were at a loss for the reason of that. wrong bias in mankind; and could'not trace out the pernicious principle upon which to charge such universal depravity: yet too well they knew that so it was it fact. Accordingly, we hear them loudly and passionately lamenting the fatal untractableness of the soul to virtue; the hanging of her.wings, and the drooping of her noblest faculties. .
We have many instances of the greatest men failing, even in those virtues, in the exercise of which they were remarkably distinguished.';
Look into the Book of Life: there you will meet with Abraham's distrust in God; the peevish anger of Moses; the inpatience of Job; and to give you the most pregnant uncontrolable example of this sad truth, the stout and resolved St. Peter sunk into a coward, and denied his master. Who could have enter. tained more elevated thoughts of his own strength, and after all more shamefully betrayed his own weakness. If Adam, whom we are told God made upright, and created him after bis own image, was no sooner left into the hands of his own counsel, bus fell from his original righteousness, it can be no reflection to affirm, that man, now impotent and corrupt, is incapable of directing his own way. For, O Lord God! What is man destitute of thy assistance? The load of intural. corruption lies heavy upon him, and presses him down. With Peter he begins to sink, and must inevitably perish without thy favourable interposition. In his best estate, under the greatest order and regularity of his faculties, he must take up that Complaint of St. Paul, and say, I see a law in my members warfing against the late of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the laro of sin. So that to be left to our own strength to perform an acceptable obedience, is, in effect, the same as to be left under an utter impossibility of performing it but, our sufficiency is of God, To him we owe the first disposition and tén: dency towards good; not only the execution of the hand, but the preparation of the heart is from the Lord. He stretches himself over our dead souls, as the prophet upon the widoti's son, to recover spiritual warmth and life.in them. He gives birth to every good thought; encourages that thought into act, and rewards that act with complacency.
Cease, then, ye advocates for batnre, to deck and adorn her with the spoils of grace.
How these secret assistances are conveyed to us, and the manner of their operation, we cannot perfectly comprehend. Neither can we explain how the dew of heaven impregnates the earth and makes it fruitful. But as the drops of rain come down from heaven in their season to water the furrows of the earth, and cause the little rallies thereof to laugh and sing, so may "the dew of God's heavenly blessing descend upon us : may it soften our hearts, and prepare them for growth and improvement under its gracious influences; and may our obedience and thankfulness return ap thither, as the smell of a field which the lord hath blessed.
Indeed, the communication of God's Spirit