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PSAL. XXX. 6, 7, 8. In my prosperity I said, I joill never be moved,
Lord. by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong : Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. I cried to thee, O Lord: and unto the Lord I made fupplication.
Or, as it is in the translation now used in our
In my Prosperity, I said, I shall never be remove ed: Thou, Lord, of thy goodness hadft made my h Il so strong. Thou didst tarn thy face from me, and I was trubled. Tren cried I unto thee, Ö Lord, and got me to my Lord right humbly. THE collection of psalms, which make a
part of the daily service of the church, is on no account more valuable than this, that there. in the heart of holy David (the man after God's own heart) is laid open and naked before us : The feveral postures of his devour soul in all conditions and circumstances of life; his hopes and fears, his desires and aversions, his joys and griefs, are there displayed with great fimplicity and freedom: All his infirmities and defects are distinctly registered; the false judgments he made of things are owned ; and the methods pointed out by which he rectifieth them. And these accounts of himself are very instructive and useful to all such as seriously peruse and study them, and are desirous of im
proving themselves in piety and virtue, by the means of fo admirable a pattern.
One great instance of this kind we have in the words of the text; wherein the good Pfalmist acknowledges and condemns the foolish thoughts, which a reflexion on the prosperous state of his affairs had sometimes occafioned in him : in my prosperity I said (that is, vainly faid), I shall never be moved ; Thou, Lord, of thy goodness hadst male my hill fo frong! or, according to the reading of the LXX. which seems more significant, hast duid strength to my dignity! He proceeds to thew, how God began to punish this vain elation of mind, by withdrawing his favours : Thou didst turn rhy face from me, and I was troubled: And then, how he entitled hiinself to the continuance of the divine protection and goodness, by “humiliation and prayer : I cried unto Thee, O Lord, and gat me to my Lord right humbly.”
Our successes have been very great and surprising; and our hearts, I fear, have been but too much lifted up by the means of them. So that we have reason to humble ourselves before God (as we now do) by fasting and prayer ; left he should punish our misuse of his mercies, by stopping the course of them.
I fall speak therefore not unsuitably either to the design of these words, or to the occasion of this assembly, if I consider,
1. What ill effects great prosperity usually hath on the minds of a people ; tempting them to fay within themselves, as the Psalmist did, in the
like case; We fall never be moved ; Thou, Lord, of thy goodness, has made our bilt jo ftrong.
II. How vain, and finful, these imaginations are : For holy Divid, by his way of mentioning, plainly condemns them.
JII. What the consequence of them often is : They provoke God to itop the current of his goodness towards us: He bideth his face, and we are troubled.
• IV. In what manner are we to bchave ourselves, in order to secure the continuance of the di.. vine favour and protection: We must cry unte the Lord, and get yourselves to our God right bumbly.
I. Good men know very well, that we are here in a state of discipline and trial; that we are to pass through things temporal to things eternal, and that nothing therefore can be reckoned good or bad to us in this life; any further than it prepares or indispoles us for the enjoyments of another. And yet they over-look this great truth in the judgments they generally pass on the leveral states of adversity and prosperity. The temp. tations and difficulties, that attend the former of thcle, they can eally fee, and dread at a diftance; but they have nu apprehension, no sufpicions, of the dangerous consequences of the late ter. And yet it is certain, that the temptations of prosperity are the most mischievous and fatal of the two ; infinuating themselves after a gentle,
but very powerful manner, so that we are but little aware of them, and leis able to withitand them. Wife #gur, therefore, equally directs his petition against both these extremes; Give me (says he) neither poverty nor riches : ieft (on the onc fide) i be poor an. Real or (on the other) 1 be full and deny thee, and 'y', Who is the Lord ? And, according to this pattern, hath our church taught us to pray that God would, not only in all time of our tribulation, but in all time of our wealth alfo, be pleafed to deliver us.
Indeed, a state of great prosperity and abundance, as it expofes us to various tenrptations, and furnishes us with all manner of opportunities and encouragements to fin, so it is often prejus dicial to us, on this account (particularly mentioned in the text); that it swells the mind with undue thoughts and opinions, renders us fecure and carelefs, proud, vain, self-sufficient: bauishes from our thoughts a lively fense of religion, and of our dependence on God; and puts us upon so eager a pursuit of the advantages of life that are within our reach, or view, as to leave us: neither room nor inclination to reflect on the great Author and Bestower of them. We do then, more than at any other time, lie open to.. the impressions of Aattery; which we admit without fcruple, because we think we defcrve it; and, that we may be sure not to want it, we take care to flatter ourselves with imaginary scenes and prospects of future happiness: We like our pres.. fent circumstances well, and drearn of no change. but for the better : not doubting but that “ton ". morrow shall be as this day, and much more.
« abundant,” Ifa. lvi. 12. We say, “ We shall “ die in our nests, and multiply our days as the “ fand; that we shall never be removed, God in « his goodness having made our hill so strong!” Job xxix. 18.
And this enchanting power, which prosperity hath over the minds of private persons, is more remarkable in relation to great states and kingdoms; where all ranks and orders of men, being equally concerned in public bleflings, equally join in spreading the infection that attends them; and they mutually teach, and are taught, that lesson of vrin confidence and security, which our corrupt nature, unencouraged by example, is of itself but too apt to learn. A very prosperous people, flushed with great victories and fucceffes, are rarely known to confine their joys within the bounds of moderation and innocence; are seldom so pious, so humble, so just, or so provident, as they ought to be, in order to perpetuate and increase their happiness : Their manners wax generally more and more corrupt, in proportion as their bleffings abound; till their vices perhaps give back all those advantages which their victories procured, and prosperity itself becomes their Iuin.
Of this the people of Israel were a very signal and instructive instance. As never any nation upon earth was blessed with more frequent and visible interpositions of divine providence in its behalf; fo none ever made a worse use of them: For no sooner were they at any time delivered out of the hand of their enemies, and established in peace and plenty, but they grew careless, dif