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SERMON LIX. .

THE DUTY OF PUBLIC THANKSGIVING.

Psalm xcv. 1, 2.

O come, let us sing unto the Lord, let us heartily rejoice in

the strength of our Salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and shew ourselves glad in Him with psalms.

SERM.
LIX.

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1 Sam. 13. 14.

As David was both a king and a prophet, he had in both respects the highest encomium given him by the Holy Ghost Himself, that ever man had. As a king, he is said to be a

man after God's own heart ;” and as a prophet, he is 2 Sam. 23. 1. called the “sweet psalmist, or singer in Israel.” He having,

it seems, composed such divine songs to the praise and honour of God, and played and sung them also after so divine a manner, that God Himself was pleased to declare Himself, to be delighted with them, as we use to be with music that sounds sweet or melodious in our ears. Which should be a great encouragement to us to imitate him as near as we can in praising God, that we also may find grace and favour in the sight of God, as he did. It is true, we can never expect to reach his pitch, either with our hearts or voices; yet nevertheless, if we do but set ourselves in good earnest about it, and do it as well as we can, we cannot doubt but what we do in it, will be also acceptable to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

This therefore is the great duty which I intend, by God's assistance, to discourse of from these words, wherewith this sweet singer of Israel invites and calls upon others, upon all all others, to join with Him in singing forth the praises of God. He would not have them do it only by themselves, but with him, that he might always make one among them. He doth not say, O go and sing ye, but, “O come, let us sing unto the Lord, let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our Salvation.” Neither would he have them do it with him only, in his or any of their private houses, but in God's own house, in His special presence, saying, “ Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and shew ourselves glad in Him with psalms.” And therefore our Church hath wisely made choice of this psalm, wherewith to begin her public praises to God every morning in the year. By this we first call upon and excite one another to join together in singing forth the praises of God, this day or at this time, and then go on singing, or saying the rest of the psalms appointed for the day, together with the other hymns and the Creed, only interposing some part of God's holy Word, wherein He having manifested Himself and His glory to us, the reading and hearing of that too, tends towards the setting forth His honour and praise: so that from the beginning of this psalm, to the end of the Apostles' Creed, our public service is a continual praising God, as it ought to be; and therefore is very properly ushered in with these words, “O) come, let us sing unto the Lord, let us heartily rejoice in the strength of our Salvation : let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, and shew ourselves glad in Him with psalms.”

Now for our better understanding of these words, and the duty contained in them, I shall shew,

I. What it is properly to praise God.

II. That this is a duty to be performed in all our religious assemblies.

III. How it ought to be performed so as that it may be acceptable to Almighty God.

The first may seem a very needless question: most people thinking that they know well enough already, what it is to praise God. And I heartily wish that all would do as much as they know of it. But there may be more in it, than men are commonly aware of. Or howsoever, it will be worth the while to explain it, that we may have clear as well as right notions of it: for which purpose therefore, our surest way

LIX.

SERM. will be, to take our measures of it, from those who were

immediately directed and assisted in it by the Holy Ghost Himself, and whose ways and methods of praising God are recorded in His holy Word, on purpose that we might better understand the nature of the duty, and how to do it.

Of which number David must needs be acknowledged to be [2 Tim. 3. one: for as “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God," 16.]

his psalms are particularly said to be so. For the Apostle Heb. 3. 7. quoting part of this very psalm, saith, “Wherefore as the

Holy Ghost saith, To-day if ye will hear His voice,” &c.
The same may be said of all the rest : though David wrote

and spoke them, he did it by the Holy Ghost, or rather, the 2 Sam. 23.2. Holy Ghost did it by him, as he himself saith, “The Spirit

of the Lord spake by me, and His word was in my tongue." Whereby we are fully assured, that David's way of praising God was prescribed and dictated to him by God Himself. And therefore, although I shall take in what I find in other places of Scripture concerning this subject, yet I shall in a more especial manner consult the Book of Psalms, which treats more of praising God than all the other Holy Scriptures put together, and seems to be written and preserved for this very purpose, that we may be fully instructed about this great duty.

Now the first thing to be here observed concerning praising God, is, that it is usually expressed by such words as signify our owning, or acknowledging, and declaring Him to be what is, and to do what is done in the world. Sometimes it is called abon, from whence the whole book is called aban, psalms, from a root which signifies to manifest a thing so that it may appear and shine in the world ; and accordingly to praise God, is properly to declare and set forth His glory, that others may see and admire it. But the most usual word for it is 1770, which in my text is rendered 'thanksgiving, but in most places it is translated “praise :' and it is no great matter by which of these words it is rendered, praise and thanksgiving being in effect one and the same thing. But the Hebrew word comes from a root which signifies to confess or acknowledge, as it is sometimes translated, and may be so wheresoever it is used with respect to God: as where it is said, “O that men would

לַיהוָה חַסְדּוֹ

15, 21, 31.

praise the Lord for His goodness,” in the original it is 1719

“ O that men would confess unto the Lord His Ps. 107. 8, goodness.” And whereas it is often said, “O praise,” or Ps. 118; "give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good,” the literal 136, &c. sense is, “O confess unto the Lord that He is good, that His mercy endureth for ever."

endureth for ever.” And so David himself explains it, adding immediately after, “ Let Israel now con- Ps. 118.2-4. fess,” or “say, that His mercy endureth for ever; let the house of Aaron now say, that His mercy endureth for ever.” And so it is explained too in the beginning of the Te Deum, “We praise Thee, O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.” This is properly to praise God, when we acknowledge and confess that He is the Lord, Jehovah; being itself the centre of all perfections; that He made, preserves, and governs the whole world, and all things in it; that He is infinitely good, and true, and merciful to mankind in general, and to us in particular. Thus it is that David, and all Saints, have been always used to praise Him.

First, by acknowledging and setting forth His Name, His glory, His wisdom, His power, His goodness, His majesty, His immensity, His eternity, and all His Divine perfections. Thus David begins to praise Him in this Psalm, saying, “ Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and shew our- Ps. 95. 3. selves joyful unto Him with psalms : for the Lord is a great God, and a great King, above all gods.” And so elsewhere, “ Bring unto the Lord, O ye mighty, bring young rams unto Ps. 29. 1, 2. the Lord: ascribe unto the Lord worship and strength : give the Lord the honour due unto His Name.” “ Praise the Ps. 104.1,2. Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, Thou art become exceeding glorious, Thou art clothed with majesty and honour; Thou deckest Thyself with light as it were with a garment, and spreadest out the Heavens like a curtain.” “I will Ps. 145.1-3. magnify Thee, O God my King, and I will praise Thy Name for ever and ever. Every day will I give thanks to Thee, and praise Thy Name for ever and ever. Great is the Lord, and marvellous, worthy to be praised, there is no end of His greatness." Sing unto the Lord, and praise His Name, Ps. 96. 2, 3, be telling of His Salvation from day to day. Declare His honour unto the heathen, and His wonders unto all people. Glory and worship are before Him, power and honour are

66

6, 7.

K

LIX. Ps. 68. 4.

Ps. 9. 1.

SERM. in His sanctuary. Ascribe unto the Lord, () ye kindreds of

the people, ascribe unto the Lord worship and power.” “O sing unto God, and sing praises unto His Name, magnify Him that rideth upon the Heavens; praise Him in His Name Jah, and rejoice before Him."

Thus David praises Him all along in the Psalms, and thus Rev. 7. 12. the Angels in Heaven praise Him, saying, “ Amen, blessing,

and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever.”

And as we are thus to praise God by owning and celebrating His Divine nature and glory, so also by acknowledging and extolling the wonderful works that He hath

done in the world, as David doth in this Psalm, by saying, Ps. 95. 4-6.“ In His hand are all the corners of the earth, and the

strength of the hills is His also. The sea is His, and He made it, and His hands prepared the dry land. O come let us worship and fall down, and kneel before the Lord our Maker.” And so elsewhere, “ I will give thanks unto Thee,

O Lord, with my whole heart, I will speak of all Thy marPs. 66. 1, 2. vellous works.” “O be joyful in God, all ye lands, sing

praises unto the honour of His Name, make His praise to

be glorious. Say unto God, O how wonderful art Thou in Ps. 105.1, Thy works." “O give thanks unto the Lord, and call upon

His Name, tell the people what things He hath done. O let your songs be of Him, and praise Him, and let your talking be of all His wondrous works. Remember the

marvellous works that He hath done, His wonders, and the Ps.145.4-6. judgments of His mouth.” “One generation shall praise

Thy works unto another, and declare Thy power. As for me, I will be talking of Thy worship, Thy glory, Thy praise, and wondrous works. So that men shall speak of the might

of Thy marvellous acts, and I will also tell of Thy greatness.” Ps. 72. 18, “ Blessed be the Lord God, even the God of Israel, which

only doth wondrous things. And blessed be the Name of His Majesty, and all the earth shall be filled with His Majesty.” And as David thus praised God by speaking of His works in general, so also by recounting particularly what wonders He hath done and still doth in the creation

and government of the world. And so doth the choir of Rev. 4. 11. Heaven in that seraphic anthem, “Thou art worthy, O Lord,

2, 5.

19.

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