The Saint's Spiritual
"But his delight is in the Law of the Lord."
1. Showing that negative goodness is but a broken title to heaven.
As the book of the Canticles is called "the
Song of Songs"—it being the most excellent song; so Psalm one may
fitly be entitled, "the Psalm of Psalms", for it contains in it the
very pith and quintessence of Christianity. What Hierom says of Paul's
epistles, the same may I of this Psalm; it is short for the composure—but
full of length and strength for the matter. This Psalm carries blessedness
in the frontispiece; it begins where we all hope to end. It may well be
called A Christian's Guide, for it discovers the quicksands where the
wicked sink down in perdition, verse 1; and the firm ground on which the
saints tread to glory, verse 2. The text is an epitome and
breviary of true religion, "But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and in his law does he meditate day and night." Every word has its emphasis;
I begin with the first word—But.
This But is full of spiritual wine, we will open it and
taste a little, then proceed.
"But" This is a term of opposition.
The godly man is described:
I. By way of negation, in three particulars.
(1.) "He walks not in the counsel of the ungodly;" he is
none of their council; he neither gives bad counsel, nor takes it.
(2.) "He stands not in the way of sinners." He will not
stand among those who shall not be able to "stand in the judgment," verse 5.
(3.) "He sits not in the seat of the scornful." Let it be
a chair of state, he will not sit in it, he knows it will prove very uneasy
at last. The word sitting implies,
1. An habit in sin, Psalm 50:20. "You sit and speak
against your brother."
2. Sitting implies familiarity with sinners, Psalm 26.4.
"I have not sat with vain people;" that is, I do not visit their haunts. The
godly man shakes off all intimacy with the wicked. He may traffic
with them—but not associate with them. He may be civil to
them, as neighbors—but not twist into a cord of friendship. Diamonds
and stones may lie together—but they will not solder and cement.
II. The godly man is described by way of position or
rather opposition, "But his delight is in the law of the Lord." From
this word "But" observe,
That negative goodness is not sufficient to entitle us to
heaven. To be no scorner, is good—but it is not enough. There are some in
the world whose religion runs all upon negatives; they are not drunkards,
they are not swearers—and for this they do bless themselves. See how that
pharisee vapors, Luke 18:11. "God, I thank you that I am not as other men
are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers," etc. Alas, the not being scandalous
will no more make a good Christian, than a cipher will make a sum. The godly
man goes further, "he sits not in the seat of the scorner—but his
delight is in the law of the Lord. We are bid, not only to "cease from
evil—but to do good," Psalm 34:14. It will be a poor plea at last, "Lord, I
kept myself from being spotted with gross sin. I did no hurt!" But what good
is there in you? It is not enough for the servant of the vineyard that he
does no hurt there—he does not break the trees, or destroy the hedges. If he
does not work in the vineyard, he loses his pay; it is not enough for us to
say at the last day, "We have done no hurt, we have lived in no gross sin!"
But what good have we done in the vineyard? Where is the grace we have
gotten? if we cannot show this, we shall lose our pay—and miss of salvation!
Use. Do not content yourselves with the
negative part of religion; many build their hopes for heaven upon this
cracked foundation; they are given to no vice, none can charge them with
any foul sins. To such people I say three things.
1. You may not be outwardly bad—and yet not inwardly
good. You may be as far from grace as from vice! Though none can
say, "black is your eye"—yet your soul may be dyed black.
Though your hands are not working iniquity, your heads may be
plotting it. A tree may be full of vermin—yet the pretty leaves may cover
them—that they are not seen. Just so, the pretty leaves of civility
may hide you from the eye of man—but God sees the vermin of pride, unbelief,
and covetousness in your heart! "You are they," says Christ, "who justify
yourselves before men—but God knows your hearts!" Luke 16:15. A man may not
be morally evil—yet not spiritually good. He may be free from gross
enormity—yet full of secret enmity against God. He may be like the snake,
which though it be of a fine color—yet has its sting!
2. If you are only negatively good, God makes no
reckoning of you. You are as so many ciphers in God's
Arithmetic—and he writes down no ciphers in the book of life! Take a piece
of brass, though it is not so bad a metal as lead or iron—yet not being so
good as silver, there is little reckoning made of it, it will not pass for
current coin. Just so, though you are not profane—yet not being of the right
metal, lacking the stamp of holiness upon you—you will never pass current.
God slights you, you are but a brass Christian.
3. A man may as well go to hell for not doing good—as for
doing evil. He who bears no good fruit—is just as much fuel for
hell—as he who bears bad fruit! Matt. 3:10, "Every tree which that does not
produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." One may as
well die with not eating food, as with poison! A ground may as well be
spoiled for lack of good seed, as with having tares sown in it. Those who
were not active in works of Christian charity, were sadly sentenced: "Depart
from me you cursed, etc. for I was hungy—and you gave me no food," Matt. 25.
41,42. It is not said "that you took my food away from me"—but "you
gave me no food." Why were the foolish virgins shut out? They had done no
hurt, they had not broken their lamps. Yes—but they "took no oil in
their lamps," Matthew. 25.3. Their lacking oil was the indictment! Therefore
let not any man build his hope for heaven upon negative goodness.
This is building upon the sand—and the sand is bad to build on; it will not
cement. But suppose a man should finish an house upon the sand—what is the
outcome? The flood comes, namely, persecution—and the force of this
flood will wash away the sand and make the house fall. And the wind
blows—the breath of the Lord as a mighty wind will blow such a sandy
building into hell! Be afraid then to rest in the negative part of religion,
launch forth further—be eminently holy. So I come to the next words—but "his
delight is in the law of the Lord—and in his law does he meditate day and
2. What is meant by delighting in the Law of God?
The words give a twofold description of a godly man.
First, He delights in God's law.
Secondly, He meditates in God's law.
1. "His DELIGHT is in the law of the Lord."
The great God has grafted the affection of delight in every creature.
Every being has, by the instinct of nature, something to delight itself in.
Now the true saint, not by intuition—but divine inspiration,
makes the law of God his delight. This is the badge of a Christian, "His
delight is in the law of the Lord." A man may work in his trade—and not
delight in it, either in regard of the difficulty of the work, or the
smallness of the income. But a godly man serves God with delight; it is his
food and drink to do his will.
For the explanation of the words, it will be inquired,
1. What is meant by "the law of the Lord." This word,
Law, may be taken either more strictly or more largely.
(1.) More strictly—for the Decalogue or ten commandments.
(2.) More largely—
[1.] For the whole written word of God.
[2.] For those truths which are deducted from the
word—and center in it.
[3.] For the whole business of piety, which is the
counterpart of God's law—and agrees with it as the transcript with the
original. The Scripture is a setting forth of God's law—and piety is
a showing forth of God's law. I shall take this word in its full
latitude and extent.
2. What is meant by DELIGHT in God's law. The Hebrew
and Septuagint both render it, "His will is in the law of the Lord."
That which is voluntary, is delightful. A gracious heart
serves God from a principle of sincerity; he makes God's law not only his
task—but his recreation; upon this scripture-stock I shall graft this
Doctrine. That a child of God, though he cannot serve the
Lord perfectly—yet he serves him willingly. His will is
in the law of the Lord; he is not a pressed soldier—but a volunteer. By the
beating of this pulse, we may judge whether there is spiritual life in us,
or not. David professes God's law was his delight, Psalm 119:77. He had his
crown to delight in, he had his music to cheer him—but the
love he had to God's law—drowned all other delights; just as the joy of
harvest and vintage, exceeds the joy of gleaning. "I delight in the law of
God," says Paul, "in the inner man." Romans 7:22, the Greek word is, "I take
pleasure in the law of God." That is—"the law of God is my recreation!" It
was a heart delight—it was in the inner man. A wicked man may
have joy in the face, 2 Cor. 5:12, like the dew which wets the leaf; but the
wine of God's Spirit cheers the heart. Paul delighted in the law in the
3. Whence the saint's spiritual delight springs.
The saint's delight in the law of God proceeds,
1. From soundness of judgment. The mind
apprehends a beauty in God's law. Like a magnet—the judgment draws
the affections. "The law of God is perfect," Psalm 19.7. The Hebrew
word for perfect, seems to allude to a perfect, whole body, which has
perfect lineaments. God's law must be perfect, for it is able to make us
wise to salvation, 2 Tim. 3.15. The Septuagint renders it, the law of the
Lord is pure—like beauty which has no stain—or wine which is purified
and refined. The soul that looks into this law, seeing so much luster and
perfection, cannot but delight in it. The middle lamp of the sanctuary being
lighted from the fire of the altar, gave light to all the other lamps. Just
so—the judgment being lighted from the Scripture, it sets on fire the
lamps of the affections.
2. This holy delight arises from the predominancy of
grace. When grace comes with authority and majesty upon the
heart, it fills it with delight. Naturally we have no delight in God;
"Therefore they say unto God—depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge
of your ways!" Nay, there is not only a dislike of God—but antipathy to God!
Sinners are called haters of God, Romans 1.30. but when grace comes
into the heart, O what a change is there! Grace preponderates, it files off
the rebellion of the will—it makes a man of another spirit! It turns the
lion-like fierceness, into a dove-like sweetness! It changes hatred into
delight! It puts a new bias into the will! It works a spontaneity and
cheerfulness in God's service. "Your people shall be a willing people in the
day of your power," Psalm 110.8.
3. This holy delight in true piety is from the sweetness
of the end. Well may we with cheerfulness let down the net of our
endeavor, when we have so excellent a draught. Heaven at the end of duty,
causes delight in the way of duty.
It shows us a discriminating difference between a
child of God and an hypocrite—the Christian serves God from a principle of
delight, the hypocrite does not. "The law of your mouth is better unto me
than thousands of gold and silver," Psalm 119.72. With what delight does a
covetous man count over his thousands? Yes—but God's law was better to David
than thousands! A child of God looks upon the service of God, not only as
his duty—but his privilege.
Use 1. Showing a characteristic difference between a child of God and a
A gracious heart loves everything that has the stamp of
God upon it. Scripture is his delight. "Your words were found and I
ate them—and your word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart," Jer.
15.16. Prayer is his delight, Isaiah 56.7. "I will make them joyful
in my house of prayer." Hearing is his delight, Isaiah 60.8. "Who are
these who fly like doves to their windows?" The gracious soul flies as a
dove to an ordinance, upon the wings of delight! The sacrament is his
delight: On this day the Lord makes "a feast of fat things, a feast of wines
on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well
refined," Isaiah 25.6. A sacrament day is a soul-festival day; here Christ
takes the soul into his banqueting-house—and displays "the banner of love
over it," Cant. 2.4. Here are heavenly delicacies set before us. Christ
gives us his body and blood. This is angels' food, this is the heavenly
nectar, here is a cup perfumed with the divine nature; here is wine spiced
with the love of God. The Jews at their feasts poured ointment upon their
guests—and kissed them; here Christ pours the oil of gladness into the
heart—and kisses us with the kisses of his lips. This is the king's bath
where we wash and are cleansed of our leprosy! The withered soul, after the
receiving this blessed supper, has been like a watered garden—or like
those Egyptian fields, after the overflowing of the Nile—fruitful and
flourishing. Do you wonder that a child of God delights in holy things? He
must needs be a volunteer in piety.
But it is not thus with an hypocrite; he may be forced
to do that which is good—but not to will that which is good; he
does not serve God with delight. Job 27.10. "Will he delight himself in the
Almighty?" That he has none of this delight, appears thus—because he serves
God grudgingly; he brings his sacrifice with a wicked mind, Proverbs 21.27.
Such an one was Cain. It was long before he brought his offering, it was not
the first-fruits; and when he did bring it, it was grudgingly; it was not a
free-will offering, Deut. 16. 10. It is probable it was the custom of
his father's family to sacrifice; and perhaps conscience might check him for
forbearing so long; at last the offering is brought—but how? as a task
rather than a pleasure; as a fine rather than a sacrifice.
Cain brought his offering—but not himself. What Seneca says of a gift, I may
say of a sacrifice; it is not gold and silver makes a gift—but a willing
mind, if this is lacking, the gold is only parted with, not given.
Just so, it is not prayer and hearing which makes a sacrifice—but it is a
willing mind. Cain's was not an offering—but a tax; not worship—but penance.
Two cases of conscience resolved
But here are two cases to be put.
Case 1. Can a regenerate person become spiritually weary
--and not delight in God?
1. I answer, Yes--but this delight in God is not wholly
extinct. This lassitude and weariness in a child of God may arise
from the in-dwelling of corruption, Romans 7.24. It is not from the grace
which is in him--but the sin which dwells in him--just as Peter's sinking on
the water was not from his faith--but his fear. Yet I still say--that a
regenerate person's will is for God, Romans 7:15. Paul found sometimes an
indisposition to good, Romans 7.23--yet at the same time he professes a
delight in God, verse 22. "I delight in the law of God, in the inner man."
One may delight in music, or any recreation--yet through weariness of body,
be for the present dulled and indisposed. Just so--a Christian may love
God's law, though sometimes the clog of the flesh weighing him down, he
finds his former vigor and agility abated.
2. I answer, That this spiritual faintness and weariness
in a regenerate person is not habitual; it is not his constant
temper. The water may ebb for a while it is low-tide; but there is soon a
high-tide again. Just so, it is sometimes low-tide in a Christian's soul. At
this time, he finds an indisposition and irksomeness to that which is
holy--but within a short time, there is a high-tide of affection--and the
soul is carried full sail in holy duties! It is with a Christian, as with a
man who is very ill; when he is sick he does not take that delight in his
food as formerly; nay, sometimes the very sight of it nauseates him. But
when he is well--he goes to his food again with delight and appetite. Just
so, when the soul is distempered through sadness and melancholy, it finds
not that delight in Scripture and prayer as formerly; but when it returns to
its healthful temper again, now it has the same delectability and
cheerfulness in God's service as before!
3. I answer, That this spiritual weariness in a
regenerate person is involuntary. He is troubled at it; he does
not hug his disease—but mourns under it. He is weary of his weariness! When
he finds a heaviness in duty, he goes heavily under that heaviness; he
prays, weeps, wrestles, uses all means to regain that alacrity in God's
service, as he was accustomed to have. David, when his chariot wheels were
pulled off, and he drove on heavily in piety--how often does he pray for
quickening grace! When the saints have found their hearts fainting, their
affections flagging, and a strange kind of lethargy seizing on them--they
are never at rest until they have recovered themselves--and are arrived at
that freedom and delight in God, as they were once sensible of.
Case 2. The second case is—Whether a hypocrite may not
serve God with delight? I answer—he may. Herod heard John the
Baptist gladly, Matt. 6.20. and those who fasted for strife and debate, "did
delight to know God's way," Isa, 58.2. An hypocrite may, out of some flashy
hopes of heaven, show a delight in goodness; but yet it is not such a
delight as is found in the regenerate, for his delight is carnal. A man may
be carnal while he is doing spiritual things: It is not the holiness and
strictness in piety, which the hypocrite delights in—but something else. He
delights in prayer—but it is rather the showing of gifts he looks at,
than the exercise of grace. He delights in hearing—but it is not the
spirituality of the Scripture he delights in; not the savor of knowledge—but
the luster. When he goes to the word preached, it is that he may
rather feast his mind, than better his heart; as if a man should go to an
apothecary's shop for a pill, only to see the gilding of it, not for the
operative virtue. The hypocrite goes to the word to see what gilding is in a
sermon, and what may delight the intellect. Hypocrites come to Scripture
as one comes into a garden to pluck some fine flower to smell—not as a
child comes to the breast for nutriment. This is rather curiosity
Such were those in Ezek. 33.32, You "are to them as a
very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an
instrument." The prophet being eloquent, and having a pleasing delivery,
they were much taken with it, and it was as sweet to them as fine music—but
it was not the spirituality of the matter they so well liked, as the
tuneableness of the voice. It was a sharp—yet seasonable reproof of
Chrysostom to his hearers, "This is that," says he, "which is likely to undo
your souls—you hear your ministers as so many minstrels, to please the ear,
not to pierce the conscience." You see, a hypocrite's delight in piety is
carnal; it is not the being nourished up in the words of faith, which he
minds—but the eloquence of speech, the rareness of notion, the quickness of
imagination, the smoothness of style: he strives only to pluck from the tree
of knowledge. Alas, poor man, you may have the star-light of
knowledge, and yet it may be night in your soul.
Let this put us
upon a holy scrutiny and trial, whether we have this delight in piety? It is
life or death as we answer this.
Use 2. Trial of a Christian's delight in God.
Question. How may this spiritual delight be known?
Answer 1. He who delights in God's law, is
often thinking of it; what a man delights in, his thoughts are still
running upon; he who delights in money, his mind is taken up with it;
therefore the covetous man is said to mind earthly things, Phil.
3.19. Thus if there is a delight in the things of God, the mind will be
still musing upon them. O what a rare treasure is the word of God! It is the
field where the pearl of great price is hidden! How precious are the
promises! They are the conduit which holds the water of life; they are like
those two olive branches, "which pour out golden oil," Zech. 4.12. These
seal up pardon, adoption, and glory! "O Lord, by these things men live,"
Isaiah 38.16. Where there is a delight in the law of God, the mind is wholly
busied about it.
Answer 2. If we delight in piety, there is
nothing can keep us from it—but we will be conversant in Scripture, prayer,
sacraments. He who loves gold will trade for it. The merchant will compass
sea and land to make money his proselyte. Men will not be kept from their
sales. If there is a delight in holy things, we will not be detained from an
ordinance, for there we are trafficking for salvation. If a man were hungry,
he would not stay away from the market, because of the aching of his finger.
The ordinances are a gospel market, and those who hunger and thirst after
righteousness, will not for every slight occasion stay away. "I was glad
when they said, come let us go up to the house of the Lord," Psalm 122.1.
You who are glad when the devil helps you with an excuse to absent yourself
from the house of the Lord, are far from this holy delight.
Answer 3. Those who delight in piety are often
speaking of it; "Then those who feared the Lord spoke often one to
another," Mal. 3.16. Where there is grace infused, it will be
effusive. "The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious," Eccl. 12.10.
David delighting in God's testimonies, "would speak of them before kings,"
Psalm 119.46. The spouse delighting in her beloved, could not conceal her
love—but breaks forth into most moving, and no less elegant expressions: "My
beloved is white and ruddy, the chief among ten thousand, his head is as the
most fine gold," etc. The disciples whose hearts were upon Christ, make him
the whole subject of their discourse as they were going to Emmaus, Luke
24.19. The primitive Christians who were fired with love to God, did speak
so much of heaven, and the kingdom prepared, that the emperor suspected they
meant to take his kingdom from him! Words are the looking-glass of the
mind—they show what is in the heart! Where there is spiritual delight,
like new wine, it will have vent. A man who is of the earth speaks of the
earth, John 3.31. He can hardly speak three words—but two of them are about
earth. His mouth, like the fish in the gospel, is full of gold, Matt. 17.27.
Just so—where there is a delight in God, "our tongues will be as the pen of
a ready writer." Psalm 45. This is a scripture touchstone to try men's
hearts by. Alas, it shows how little they delight in God, because they are
possessed with a dumb devil; they speak not the language of Canaan.
Answer 4. He who delights in God, will give
him the best in every service. Him whom we love best, shall have of the
best. The spouse delighting in Christ, will give him of her pleasant fruits,
Cant. 7.13. And if she has a cup of spiced wine, and full of the juice of
the pomegranate—he must drink of it, Cant. 8.2. He who delights in God gives
him the strength of his affections, the cream of his duties. Says he, "God
shall have the best!" Hypocrites care not what they put God off with; they
offer that to the Lord which costs them nothing; a prayer that costs them no
wrestling, no pouring out of the soul. 1 Sam. 1. They put no cost in their
services. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, Gen. 4.8. It is
observable, the Holy Spirit does not mention anything that might commend, or
set off Cain's sacrifice. When he comes to speak of Abel's, he sets an
emphasis upon it, "Abel brought several choice lambs from the best
of his flock," verse 4—but when he speaks of Cain, he only says, "he
brought of the fruit of the ground." Some sorry thing, perhaps pulled out of
a ditch! God who is best, will be served with the best. Domitian would not
have his statute carved in wood or iron—but in gold. God will have the best
of our best things—he will have our golden services. He who delights in God,
gives him the the choice sacrifices—the purest of his love, the
hottest of his zeal! And when he has done all, he grieves he can do no more,
he blushes to see such an infinite disproportion between Deity and
his poor duty.
Answer 5. He who delights in God, does not
much delight in anything else. The world appears in an eclipse; Paul
delighted in the law of God, in the inner man—and how was he crucified to
the world! Gal. 6.14. It is not absolutely unlawful to delight in the things
of the world, Deut. 26.11. "You shall rejoice in every good thing which the
Lord your God has given you." None may better take the comfort of these
things than believers; for they have the best right to them; and they have
the dew of a blessing distilled, "Take two talents, said Naaman to Gehazi,"
2 Kings 5.23. So says God to a believer, take two talents, take your outward
comforts, and take my love with them. But the children of God, though they
are thankful for outward mercies—yet they are not enthralled with these
things; they use them only as a convenience for their passage; they know
they need them as a staff to walk with—but when they shall sit down in the
kingdom of heaven, and rest themselves, they shall have no use of this
Jacob's staff. Believers do not much pray for these fleeting earthly things.
Their delight is chiefly in God and his law.
Is it thus with us? Have we this low opinion of all
sublunary comforts? The astronomer says, that if it were possible for a man
to be lifted up as high as the moon, the earth would seem to him but as a
little point. If we could be lifted up to heaven in our affections, all
earthly delights would seem as nothing. When the woman of Samaria had met
with Christ, down goes the pitcher, she leaves that behind! Just so, he who
delights in God, as having tasted the sweetness in him, does not much mind
the pitcher—he leaves the world behind.
Answer 6. True delight is constant. Hypocrites
have their pangs of desire, and flashes of joy, which are soon over. The
Jews did rejoice in John's light for a season, John 5.35. Unsound hearts may
delight in the law of the Lord for a season; but, they will quickly change
their note, "What a weariness is it to serve the Lord!" The Chrysolite,
which is of a golden color, in the morning is very bright to look on—but
towards noon it grows dull, and has lost its splendor; such are the
glistening shows of hypocrites. True delight, like the fire of the altar,
never goes out; affliction cannot extirpate it, Psalm 119.145. "Trouble and
anguish have taken hold on me—yet your commandments are my delight."
Let me persuade Christians to labor for this holy delight. "Let your delight
be in the law of the Lord." And that I may the better enforce the
exhortation, I shall lay before you several weighty considerations.
Use 3. Exhortation. A persuasive to this holy delight in piety.
1. There is that in the law of God which may cause
delight; as will appear in two things. There is in it,
1. Truth. The law of God is a book of truth,
Psalm 119.160. "Your word is true from the beginning." The two Testaments
are the two lips by which the God of truth has spoken to us. Here is a firm
basis for faith.
2. Goodness. Nehem. 9.13. "You gave them true
laws, good statutes." Here is Truth and Goodness; the one adequate to the
understanding, the other to the desires. Now this goodness and excellency of
the law of God shines forth in nine particulars.
1. This blessed law of God, is a love letter sent to us
from heaven, written by the Holy Spirit, and sealed with the blood of
Christ! Isaiah 62.5. "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall
your God rejoice over you;" and Hosea 2.19. "I will betroth you unto me
forever in righteousness and in loving kindness, and in mercies." Is it not
delightful reading over this love-letter!
2. The law of God is a light "which shines in a dark
place," 2 Pet. 1.19. It is our pole-star to guide us to heaven; it was
David's candle and lantern to walk with, Psalm 119.105. Now light is sweet,
Ec. 11.7. it is sad to lack this light. Those heathen who have not the
knowledge of God's law—must needs stumble into hell in the dark! Hierom
brings in Tully with his oratory, and Aristotle with his syllogisms, crying
out in hell. Those who leave the light of the word, following the light
within them, as some speak, prefer the shining of the glow-worm before
the radiance of sun.
3. The law of God is a spiritual looking-glass to dress
our souls by. David oft dressed himself in this glass, and got much wisdom,
Psalm 119.104. "Through your precepts I get understanding." This
looking-glass both shows us our blemishes—and takes them away. The law of
God is a looking-glass to show us our faces—and a laver to
wash away our blemishes.
4. This law of God contains in it our evidences for
heaven; would we know whether we are heirs of the promise, whether our names
are written in heaven? we must find it in this law book, 2 Thess. 2.13. "He
has chosen us to salvation through sanctification." 1 John 2.14. "We know
that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren;" and
is it not comfortable reading over our evidences?
5. The law of God is an armory, out of which we must
fetch our spiritual artillery to fight against Satan. It may be compared to
the "Tower which David built for an armory, whereon there hang a thousand
shields of mighty men," Cant. 4.4. It is called the "sword of the Spirit,"
Eph. 6.16. It is observable, when the devil tempted our Savior, he runs to
scripture for armor, "it is written!" Three times Christ wounds the serpent
with this sword! Mat. 4.4, etc. It is good having our armor about us, when
the enemy is in the field.
6. The law of God is our spiritual remedy-book. When
there is any disease growing in the soul, here is a remedy to take. If we
find ourselves dead in duty, here is a remedy, Psalm 119.50. "Your word has
quickened me!" If our hearts are hard, here is a remedy, "Is not my word as
fire!" Jer. 23.29. This is able to melt the rock into tenderness. If we grow
proud, here is a remedy, 1. Pet. 5.5. "God resists the proud." If there is
any fresh guilt contracted, here we have a sovereign medicine to take, John
17.17. "Sanctify them through your truth." The law of God is like a garden
of spiritual medicines, where we may walk and gather any herb to expel the
poison of sin.
7. The law of God is a divine treasury to enrich us! Here
are the riches of knowledge, and the riches of assurance to be found, Col.
2.2. In this law of God are scattered many truths as precious diamonds to
adorn the hidden man of the heart. David took the law of God as his
heritage, Psalm 119.111. In this blessed mine is hidden the true pearl of
great price! Here we dig until we find heaven!
8. The law of God is our cordial in fainting times; and
it is a strong cordial, Heb. 6.18. "That we might have strong consolation."
They are strong consolations indeed, which can sweeten affliction, which can
turn water into wine, that can stand against the fiery trial. "This is my
comfort in affliction, for your word has quickened me," Psalm 119.50. The
comforts of the world are weak consolations; a man has comfort in health—but
let sickness come, where is his comfort then? He has comfort in an
estate—but let poverty come, where is his comfort then? These are weak
consolations, they cannot bear up against trouble; but the comforts of
Scripture are strong consolations, they can sweeten the waters of Marah. Let
sickness come, the comforts of Scripture can allay and stupify it, "the
inhabitant of the land shall not say—I am sick," Isaiah 33.24. Let death
come, a Christian can outbrave it: "O death, where is your sting?" 1 Cor.
15.55. Is it not comfortable to have such a cordial lying by, as can expel
the venom of death?
9. The law of God is manna. This heavenly manna suits
itself to every Christian's palate. What does the soul desire? quickening?
strengthening? He may find all in this manna!
2. Delight in piety crowns all our services.
Therefore David counsels his son Solomon, not only to serve God—but to serve
him "with a willing mind," 1 Chron. 28.9. Delight in duty is better than
duty itself; as it is worse for a man to delight in sin, than to
commit it. So delight in duty is to be preferred before duty: "O how
love I your law," Psalm 119.97. It is not how much we do—but how much
we love; hypocrites may obey God's law—but the saints love his law.
Love carries away the garland.
3. Delight in spiritual things evidences grace;
it is a sign we have received the spirit of adoption. A sincere child
delights to obey his father. He who is born of God, is enobled by grace, and
acts from a principle of sincerity; grace alters the bias of the heart, and
makes the stubborn rebellious heart, into a willing heart. The Spirit of
grace is called a free Spirit, Psalm 51. not only because he works
freely—but because he makes the heart free and cheerful in obedience; a
gracious heart does not act by constraint—but by free consent.
4. Delight in piety will make the business of piety more
easy to us. Delight makes everything easy; there is nothing hard
to a willing mind; delight turns piety into recreation; it is like fire to
the sacrifice, like oil to the wheels. Like wind to the sails—it carries us
full sail in duty! He who delights in God's way, will never complain of the
ruggedness of the way; a child that is going to his father's house, does not
complain of the difficulty of the way. A Christian is going to heaven in the
way of duty; every prayer, every sacrament, he is a step nearer his Father's
house! Surely he is so full of joy he is going home, that he will not
complain of bad way. Get then this holy delight. Beloved, we have not many
miles to go—death will shorten our way, let delight sweeten
5. All the duties in piety are for our good.
We shall have the benefit; "If you are wise, you shall be wise for
yourself," Proverbs 9.12. God has twisted his glory and our good
together. "I gave them my laws so they could live by keeping them. Yes,
all those who keep them will live!" Ezek. 20.11. There is nothing the Lord
requires—but it tends to self-preservation. God bids us read his word, and
why? this word is his will and testament wherein he makes over a great
estate to be settled upon us, Col. 1.12; 1 John 2.25. "And this is the
promise that he has promised us, even eternal life."
He bids us pray, and this duty carries food in the mouth
of it, 1 John 5.14. "This is the confidence we have in him, that if we ask
anything according to his will, he hears us." Ask what you will, he will
sign your petitions. If you had a friend who should say, "Come to me
whenever you desire, and I will furnish you with money," would you not
delight to visit that friend! God will give to more than half the kingdom,
and shall we not delight in prayer? God bids us believe, and there is a
honey-comb to be found in this precept, "Believe and you shall be saved."
Salvation is the crown that is set upon the head of faith! Well may the
apostle say, "his commandments are not grievous." O then, if piety be so
beneficial, if there is such gold to be dug out of this mine, it may make us
delight in the ways of God. What will entice us—if not self-interest?
6. How did Christ delight in the work of our redemption!
"Lo, I come, I delight to do your will, O my God," Psalm 40.7,8.
It is by expositors agreed that it is spoken mystically of Christ; when he
came into the world to sacrifice his life for us, it was a free-will
offering. "I have a baptism to be baptized with," Luke 12.50. Christ was to
be, as it were, baptized in his own blood, and how did he thirst for that
time? "How am I straitened until it be accomplished!" Did Christ so delight
in the work of our redemption—and shall not we delight in his service? Did
he suffer willingly—and do we pray unwillingly? Did he so cheerfully lay
down his life for us—and shall not we give up our lives to him? Certainly if
anything could make Christ repent of shedding his blood, it would be this—to
see Christians so reluctant in duty, bringing it rather as a penance
than a sacrifice.
7. Delight in God's service makes us resemble the angels
in heaven. They serve God with cheerfulness; as soon as God
speaks the word, they are ambitious to obey. How are they ravished with
delight while they are praising God! In heaven we shall be as the angels;
spiritual delight would make us like them here! To serve God by constraint,
is to be like the devil; all the devils in hell obey God—but it is against
their will, they yield a grudging obedience; but service which comes off
with delight—is angelic! This is what we pray for, that "God's will may be
done on earth—as it is in heaven;" is it not done with delight
8. His delight in God's law will not breed surfeit.
Carnal objects often cause a loathing and nauseating; we soon grow
weary of our delights; hence it is we change from one earthly vanity to
another. Too much pleasure is a pain! But spiritual objects do not cloy or
tire the soul; the more we study in the law of God, the more delight we
find. And in this regard David might say, the words of God's mouth were
"sweeter to his taste than honey," Psalm 119.103. because one may soon
surfeit upon honey—but he can never surfeit with the word of God. He who has
once, with Jeremiah, "found the word and ate it," Jer. 15.16. will not be
cloyed with it! There is that savouriness in the word, that a Christian
cries out, "Lord, evermore give me this bread!" There is that sweetness in
communion with God, that the soul says, "O that I might be always thus!" He
who delights in God, does not complain he has too much of God—but rather too
little: he opens and spreads the sails of his soul to take in more of those
heavenly gales, he longs for that time when he shall be ever delighting
himself in the sweet and blessed vision of God!
9. Without this holy delight we weary both ourselves, and
God. Isaiah 7.13. "Will you weary my God also?" Our delighting in
God would make him delight in us. But when we begin to say "what a weariness
is it to serve the Lord," God is as weary as we are; he is even sick of such
services. When duties are a burden to us, they are a burden to God! When a
man is weary of a burden, he will cast it off. Let all this quicken delight
in God's service.
For the attaining this blessed delight in the law of God, three
things are requisite.
Use 4. Showing how a Christian may arrive at this delight in God's Law.
Direction 1. Set an high estimate upon
Scripture; what the judgment prizes—the affections embrace. He who values
gold, will delight in it. We are apt, through unbelief, to entertain slight
thoughts of piety, therefore our affections are so slight. David prized
God's statutes at a high rate; "More to be desired are they than gold, yes,
than much fine gold," Psalm 19.10. and hence grew that inflamed love to
them; "I will delight myself in your statutes," Psalm 119.16.
Direction 2. Pray for a spiritual heart. An
earthly heart will not delight in spiritual mysteries; the earth puts out
the fire. Earthliness destroys holy delight; get a spiritual palate, that
you may relish the sweetness of the Scripture. He who tastes the sweetness
of honey, will delight in it. "If so be you have tasted that the Lord is
gracious," 1 Pet. 2.3. It is not enough to hear a sermon—but you must
taste a sermon; it is not enough to read a promise—but you
must taste a promise. When you have gotten this spiritual palate,
then God's word will be to you "the joy and rejoicing of your heart," Jer.
Direction 3. If you would delight in the law
of God, purge out the delight of sin; sin will poison this spiritual
delight. If you would have God's law sweet, let not "wickedness be sweet in
your mouth," Job 20.12. When sin is your burden—Christ will be your
Use 5. Thankfulness. Holy delight should cause thankfulness.
What cause have they to be thankful, who can find this
spiritual delight in God! How did David bless God that he gave the people
hearts to offer so cheerfully to the building of the temple; "Who am I, and
what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this
sort?" Their willingness was more than their offering; so should a Christian
say, "Lord, who am I, that I should offer so willingly? Who am I that I
should have your free Spirit, and should serve you rather out of choice than
It is a great blessing to have this promptitude and
alacrity in God's service. Delight animates and enlivens duty; now we act to
purpose in piety. Christians are never drawn so powerfully and sweetly, as
when the chain of delight is fastened to their heart. Without this
all is lost; our praying and hearing is like water spilt upon the ground. It
loses both its beauty and reward. Then bless God, Christian, who has oiled
the wheels of your soul with delight, and now you can "run and not be
weary." For your comfort, be assured you shall not lack anything your heart
can desire, Psalm 37.4. "Delight yourself in the Lord, and he shall give you
the desires of your heart."