The general contempt of religion acts upon the Christian's judgment no less than upon his affections. Is wickedness breaking loose to make void the law? Therefore he esteems it to be right. His judgment—instead of being shaken—is more determined. How beautiful is it to see the leaven of grace pervading the whole man! In the fervor of his heart he loves the commandments even above fine gold; but yet his "love will abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment." His is an intelligent and universal regard to them—esteeming all the precepts concerning all things to be right. This constitutes his separate and exclusive character. He is readily known from the thoughtless worldling. But his difference from the professor, though really as marked in the sight of God, is far less perceptible to general observation. Consisting more in the state of heart, than in any external mark of distinction, it is often only within the ken of that eye, whose sovereign prerogative it is to "search the heart," and to "weigh the spirits."
Many profess to esteem the precepts to be right, so far as they inculcate the practice of those moral virtues, of which they may present some faint exhibition, and demand the abandonment of those sins, from the external influence of which they may have been delivered. But when they begin to observe the "exceeding breadth of the commandment"—how it takes cognizance of the heart, and enforces the renunciation of the world, the crucifixion of sin, and the entire surrender of the heart unto God; this searching touchstone separates them from the church, and exposes to open day the brand of hypocrisy upon their foreheads. "Herod did many things." And so the enemy still will allow a partial subjection to the precepts. But—as he well knows—one sin holds us his captive as well as a thousand. The willful contempt of one precept is the virtual rejection of all. All, therefore—not many—is the Christian's word. He fails in some—yes, in all—but all are the objects of his supreme regard—every duty, and every circumstance and obligation of duty—the evangelical as well as the moral precepts—teaching him to renounce himself in every part (his sins as a source of pleasure, and his duties as a ground of dependence): and to believe in the Son of God as the only ground of hope. He never complains of the strictness of the precepts!—but he is continually humbled in the recollection of his nonconformity to them. Every way, however pleasing to the flesh, that is opposed to the revealed will of God, is hated, as false in itself, and false to his God. This "godly sincerity" will apply to every part of the Christian Directory. So that any plea for the indulgence of sin (as if it admitted of palliation, or was compensated by some surplus duty, or allowed only for some temporary purpose) or any willful shrinking from the universality of obedience—blots out all pretensions to uprightness of heart. If holiness be really loved, it will be loved for its own sake; and equally loved and followed in every part. By this entire "approval of things that are excellent," we shall "be sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ."
O my soul, can you abide this close test? Have you as much regard to the precepts, as to the privileges, of the Gospel? Is no precept evaded, from repugnance to the cross that is entailed to it? Is no secret lust retained? Are you content to let all go? If my hatred of sin is sincere, I shall hate it more in my own house than abroad; I shall hate it most of all in my own heart. Here lies the grand seat of hypocrisy. And therefore may the great Searcher of hearts enable me to search into its depths! May I take the lamp of the Lord to penetrate into its dark interior hiding-places of evil! May I often put the question to my conscience, 'What does the Omniscient Judge know of my heart?' Perhaps at the time that the Church holds my name in esteem, the voice of conscience, as the voice of God, may whisper to me "That which is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God." Some false way, yet undetected within, may keep me lifeless and unfruitful in the midst of the quickening means of grace. Let me look into my house—my calling—my family—my soul; and in the course of this search how much matter will be found for prayer, contrition, renewed determination of heart, and dependence upon my God! "O that my ways were directed to keep Your statutes! I will keep Your statutes; O forsake me not utterly." And oh! let my spirit be wounded by every fresh discovery of sin. Let my soul bleed under it. But specially and instantly let me apply to the "fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness." Here let me wash my soul from the guilt of sin, and regain my peace with God. And to Him, who opened this fountain, let me also repair for a large supply of spiritual strength. May His power and grace sharpen my weapons for the spiritual conflict, until every secret iniquity is overcome, and forever dispossessed from my heart!
And just as sin, besides its guilt, brings its own misery; so does this whole-hearted purity carry with it its own happiness. Can I forget the time, when, under Divine grace and teaching, I made a full presentment of myself, when I began to estimate myself as an hallowed, devoted thing—sacred—set apart for God? Was not this the first sunshine of my happiness? Nor was this offering made with momentary excitement, notional intelligence, forced acquiescence, or heartless assent. My judgment accorded with the choice of my heart. All was right in His precepts. All that was contrary to them was abominable. And will not this form the essence of the happiness of heaven, where every aspiration—every motion—every pulse of the glorified soul—in the eternity of life—will bear testimony to the holiness of the service of God?
"Therefore I esteem all your precepts concerning all things to be right." Because the ungodly found fault with the precepts of God, therefore David was all the more sure of their being right. The censure of the wicked is a certificate of merit; that which they sanction we may justly suspect, but that which they abominate we may ardently admire. The good man's delight in God's law is unreserved, he believes in all God's precepts concerning all things. We state our faith all the more broadly in proportion to the opposition of the foe. To carping criticism we oppose a fearless faith. When confidence in God is counted vile, we purpose to be viler still.
"And I hate every false way." Love to truth begat hatred to falsehood. He who prizes a robe abhors the moth which would devour it. This godly man was not indifferent to anything in the moral and spiritual world; but that which he did not love he hated. He was no chip in the porridge without flavor; he was a good lover or a good hater, but he was never a waverer. He knew what he felt, and he expressed it plainly. He was no Gallio, caring for none of these things. His detestation was as unreserved as his affection; he had not a good word for any practice which would not bear the light of truth. The fact that such large multitudes follow the broad road had no influence upon this holy man, except to make him more determined to avoid every form of error and sin. May the Holy Spirit so rule in our hearts that our affections may be in the same decided condition towards the precepts of the word! May we take our place on the side of God and righteousness, and never bear the sword in vain! We would not be pugnacious, but we dare not be sinfully indifferent All sin we must hate; for any one of the whole tribe will be our ruin if it be indulged. To arms! To arms! you soldiers of the cross.
Exposition of Verses 129 to 136
YOUR testimonies are wonderful: therefore does my soul keep them.
The entrance of your words gives light; it gives understanding unto the simple
I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for your commandments.
Look upon me, and be merciful unto me, as you use to do unto those that love your name.
Order my steps in your word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.
Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep your precepts.
Make your face to shine upon your servant; and teach me your statutes.
Rivers of waters run down my eyes, because they keep not your law.