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SERMON XVI. Page 362.
Concerning Man's Conscience, when it is good, and when not.
We truft we
Hebr. xiii. 18. have a good Confcience, in all Things willing to live honeftly.
PSA L. XLII. 6, 7.
According to the Translation of our Liturgy. Why art thou fo full of Heaviness, O my Soul?
And why art thou fo difquieted within me? Put thy Trust in God, for I will yet give him Thanks for the Help of his Countenance.
AVID, tho' a Man after God's own Heart, and dearly beloved by him, was as much exercised all his Life with Troubles and Afflictions of feveral Kinds, as almost any we read of. When he compofed this Pfalm, and that which followeth it, it fufficiently appears, that he was under great Perplexity and Confternation of Mind, which makes him three times fpeak to himself, Why art thou caft down, O my Soul? And why art thou difquieted within me?
What the particular Occafion was, is not expreffed in the Pfalm: But it is generally believed, and it is very probably, that it was upon the Rebellion of his Son Abfalom; by Occafion of which he was driven from JeruVOL. III. Salem
falem, and fo banished from the House of God in Mount Sion, where he had lately fix'd the Ark: And this Banifhment of his is that which he is here fo much concerned for, and fo paffionately bewails. Taking this Key, we are easily let into the Sense of both these Pfalms The former of which, fo far as is needful for the right understanding this Text, I fhall give you a brief Account of.
Thus he begins: As the hunted Deer panteth after the Brooks of Water, so panteth my Soul after thee, O God: My Soul thirsteth for God, yea, even for the living God: When fhall I come and appear before God? that is, when fhall I be fo happy as to have Access again to thy Tabernacle, where thou doft manifeft thy Prefence, and from whence I am now driven by them that feek my Life? And then he goes on in the third Verfe, My Tears have been my Meat Day and Night; while they daily fay unto me, Where is now thy God? that is to fay, I am wholly given over to Grief and Sorrow, whilft I hear the continual Reproaches of my Enemies, faying unto me, What is become of thy God, in whom thou waft wont to repose so much Confidence? When I remember thefe Things, (as he goes on in the 4th Verfe) I pour out my Soul in me: For 1 had gone with the Multitude: I went with them to the House of God with the Voice of Joy and Praife, with a Multitude that kept Holy-Days; that is, it even breaks my Heart to call to Mind thofe happy
Days, when I brought thine Ark to Mount Sion, accompanied with the joyful Acclamations of all thy People, and to think of all the other bleffed Times, when, before this Banishment, we met together at thy House to worship and praife thy Name. And then follow in the next Verfe the Words of my Text, Why art thou caft down, O my Soul? why art thou fo difquieted within me? As if he had faid, Be not for all this difcouraged, tho' it be as fad a Calamity as is poffible, to be thus deprived of the Opportunity of worshipping God in publick, yet there is no Reafon thou fhouldft be utterly dejected, and abandon thyfelf to Defpair: No, put thy Truft in God; for I fhall yet give him Thanks for the Help of his Countenance: That is, A Time, I hope, will come, when I fhall again go to his Houfe, and praife him ftill for his Favours towards me, in delivering me from this, as well as my former Afflictions.
This is the natural Account and Meaning of the Words, as they lie in the Pfalm, and as they were spoken by the Pfalmift. But in the Difcourfe which I defign upon this Text, I mean not to confine myfelf to the particular Cafe, upon Occafion of which thefe Words were fpoken, but to take a larger Compafs, and to treat of Trouble of Mind in general, as far as it is upon a Religious Account.