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EXPOSITORY

LECTURES

ON

Psalm xxxix. ; on Isaiah vi. ; and

on Romans xii.

1

EXPOSITOR Y LECTURES

ON

PSALM XXXIX.

LECTURE I.

Ver. 1. I said I will take heed to my ways, that I fin

not with my tongue : I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.

CE

NERTAINLY, it is an high dignity that is confer

red upon man, that he may as freely and frequently as he will, converse with Him that made him, the great King of Heaven and earth. It is indeed a wonder that God should honour poor creatures fo much; but it is no less strange that men having so great privileges, the most part of them do use them so little. Seldom do we come to him in times of ease. And when we are spurred to it by afflictions and pains, commonly we try all other means rather than this, that is the alone true and unfailing comfort. But such as have learned this way of laying their pained head and heart in his bosom, they are truly happy, though in the world's language they be never fo miserable.

This is the recourse of this holy man in the time of his affliction, whatever it was, prayer and tears, bemoaning himielf before his God and Father, and that the more fervently, in that he finds his speaking to men so unprofitable; and therefore he refrains from it.

The

The Psalm consists of two parts; his filence to men, and his speech to God; and both of them are set with such sweet notes of mufic, though they be sad, that they deserve well to be committed to the Chief Muhcian.

I said, I will take beed to my ways.] It was to himself that he said it, and it is impoffible for any other to prove a good or a wise man, without much of this kind of speech to himself. It is one of the most excellent and distinguishing faculties of a reasonable creature, much beyond vocal speech, for in that fome birds may imitate us; but neither bird nor beast have any thing of this kind of language, of reflecting or discoursing with itself. It is a wonderful brutality in the greatest part of men, who are so little convertant in this kind of speech, being framed and disposed for it, and which is not only of itself excelleni, but of continual use and advantage ; but it is a common evil among men, to go abroad, and out of themselves, which is a madness and a true diftraction. It is true a man hath need of a well fet mind, when he speaks to himself; for otherwife he may be worse company to himself than if he were with others; but he ought to endeavour to have a better with him, to call in God to bis heart to dwell with him. If thus we did, we should find how fweet this were to speak to ourfelves, by now and then intermixing our speech with discourses unto God. For want of this, the moft part not only lofe their time io vanity, in their converse abroad with others, but do carry in heaps of that vanity to the stock which is in their own hearts, and do converfe with that in secret, which is the greatest and the deepest folly in the world.

Other folitary employments, as reading the difputes and controverfies that are among men, are things not unuseful, yet all turns to wafle, if we read not our own heart, and ftudy that : This is the ftudy of every holy man, and between this and the

confideration

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confideration of God, he spends his hours and en-
deavours. Some have recommended the reading of
men more than books : But what is in the one, or
both of them, or all the world beside, without this?
a man shall find himself out of his proper business,
if he acquaint not himself with this, to speak much
with God and with himself, concerning the ordering
of his own ways.

It is true, it is necessary for some men, in some
particular charges and stations, to 'regard the ways
of others; and besides, something also there may be
of a wise observing others, to improve the good and
evil we see in them, to our own advantage, and bet-
tering our own ways, looking on them to make the
repercussion the stronger on ourselves : but except
it be out of charity and wisdom, it flows either from
uncharitable malice, or else a curious and vain spirit,
to look much and narrowly into the ways of others,
and to know the manner of living of persons about
us, and so to know every thing but ourselves; like
travellers, that are well seen in foreign and remote
parts, but strangers in the affairs of their own coun-
try at home. The check that Chrift gave to Peter
is due to such, What is that to thee? follow' thou me,
John xxi. 22. “ Look thou to thine own feet, that
• they be set in the right way.” It is a strange
thing that men should lay out their diligence abroad
to their loss, when their pains might be bestowed to
their advantage nearer at hand, at home within
themselves.

This that the Psalmist speaks here of, taking heed to his ways, as it imports his present diligence, so also it hath in it a reflection on his ways past, and these two do mutually assist one another; for he shall never regulate his ways before him, that has not wisely confidered his ways past; for there is wil. dom gathered from the observation of what is gone to the choosing where to walk in time to come, to see where he is weakest, and lies exposed to the greatest

hazard,

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