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He is also a fhield. God is not only a light to guide and direct, but likewise a shield to protect and defend. He can fecure us in the midst of dangers, and defend from the violent and artful defigns and attempts of enemies.
The Lord will give grace and glorie: no good thing will be withhold from them that walk uprightly. He will beftow every kind of good, both favour and honour. Nor will he give fparingly but will plentifully enrich, and abundantly blefs them that walk uprightly.
By which uprightneffe is not meant abfolute perfection, but fincerity; ferving God in truth, and with a willing mind: and having a refpect to all his commandments: not only observing, very punctually, ordinances of pofitive appointment, and the ftated feafons of public worship: but living in the practife of all righteoufneffe. It is, to be faithful to God in all circumftances, in profperity and adverfity, and in the general tenour of our life and converfation. Such as these God will abundantly bless.
Having thus briefly explained thefe words, I shall mention fome obfervations.
I. Here is a property of the Divine Being, which deferves our ferious attention. As God is full and perfect in himself, fo he favors, and has a fpecial regard for righteous and upright men.
The Pfalmift, and other good men, who lived under the Mofaic difpenfation, did, poffibly, expect temporal advantages for the truly religious, more than it is reasonable for us to do under the gospel. But in general the observation must be right: the truth of it may be depended upon, and ought to be maintained in all times: that God loveth Pf. xi. 7. righteousnesse: his countenance beholds the upright. These he approves and favors: whilst he is displeased with such as wilfully trans grefs, or contemptuoufly neglect and difregard, his holy laws.
H. We fhould emprove this truth for our establishment in the fteady and delightful practife of all holineffe.
Virtue, real righteoufneffe, has an intrinfic excellence: It is fit in itself, and very becoming. But we ought to take in every other confideration, that tends to fecure the prac
SERM. practise of virtue, and perfeverance therein, in this ftate of temptation. We should strengthen ourselves by a refpect to the divine will, as well as by a regard to the reason of things.
When we do so, mindful of the divine authority, defirous of his favour, and fearing his displeasure, we may be faid to walk with God. There will be then a comfortable fellowship between God and his rational creatures. We steadily and confcientiously eye his commands. He graciously approves us, and the way we are in. And will manifeft himself favorable to us.
III. We may hence receive encouragement, to trust in God, and ferve him faithfully in every circumftance of life, even though we are in fome difficulties and troubles, as the Pfalmift now was. For virtue, though well-pleafing to God, may be tried and exercised. The reward is fure, though deferred. And it may be the greater in the end, if by afflictions it is refined, emproved and perfected.
IV. This text may teach men to be cau-
It is spoken of as a remarkable inftance of
the folly of bad men: Have all the workers of Pf. xiv. iniquity no knowledge, who eat up my people, as they eat bread, and call not upon God!
We ought to be careful, how we offend any walking in the way of righteousneffe: though they appear to us to be mistaken in fome things. It must be imprudent to oppose those, who have God for a fun and fhield. At the fame time it appears to be our duty, to uphold to the utmost of our power the cause of the righteous. This feems to be what David engages to do, if fettled in peace and profperity. O my foul, thou haft faid unto God: Pf. xvi. Thou art my Lord. My goodneЛle extendeth not 2. 3. unto thee, but unto the faints, that are in the earth, even to the excellent, in whom is all delight. "I have always trufted in God. "And it has been my unfeigned defire to "ferve him. Not that I thereby merit of "him. Nor is he advantaged by my fer"vices. But I shall think it a happinesse,
SERM." if ever I have it my power, to protect and encourage upright men, whom I fincerely "love and esteem."
V. We are alfo led to obferve upon thefe words, that from the divine perfections may be argued a future ftate of recompenfes.
This obfervation I intend to enlarge upon. 1. In the first place I fhall propose an argument for a future ftaté from reason.
2. I shall confider fome objections against this doctrine.
I will endeavor to anfwer divers enquiries relating to this matter.
4. And then conclude with fome infe
1. The argument from reafon in behalf of a future ftate of recompenfes is to this purpose.
It appears to us agreeable to the perfections of God, that he should fhew favour to good and virtuous men. But it is obvious to all, and more especially evident to careful obfervers, that good and bad men are not much diftinguifhed in this world. This, I fay, is obvious to all, and efpecially manifest to thofe, whofe obfervations are of the greatest