A Sermon Delivered By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. *10/18/2012
Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect for all your commandments. [Ps 119:6]
1. Any attempt to keep the law of God with the view of being saved by it is sure to end in failure. It is so contrary to the express warnings of the divine Lawgiver, and it runs counter so much to the whole gospel, that he who dares to seek justification by his own merits ought to be ashamed of his presumption. When God tells us that salvation is not by the works of the law, are you not ashamed of trying to procure it by your obedience to its precepts? When he declares that by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified in his sight, are you not ashamed to go and seek after justification where he tells you it never can be found? When he over and over again declares that salvation is by faith, and that it is a matter of grace to be received, do you not blush for yourself that you should make God a liar, and propound a righteousness from your own conceit, in which you have vainly tried to keep up a respectable appearance, screening the palpable delinquencies of your life under a thin veil of piety towards God and charity towards men? Eternal life is not to be earned by any trade you can carry on in works of the flesh; because, however esteemed in the opinion of men, they are simply abominable in the sight of God. If a man seeks to keep the commandments of God in order that he may attain eternal life by it, he will be ashamed and confounded. He had better at once renounce the folly of attempting so insane, so futile, so impossible a task as that of defending his own cause and justifying his own soul. But when a man is converted, when he has believed in Christ Jesus to the salvation of his soul, when he is justified by faith and his sin is blotted out, when he has obtained mercy, found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and entered into the rest of faith, because he knows that he is a saved man, then in keeping the precepts of the law he will gratify a strong inclination. In fact, it henceforth becomes his highest ambition to be obedient, and the great delight of his soul is to run in the ways of God’s commandments out of gratitude for the great benefits he has received. And let it never be imagined that, because Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, there is therefore a complete removal of all moral constraints and restraints from Christian men. We are not under the law, but under grace, yet we are not lawless and libertine, since we have become servants of God and followers of Christ. Indeed, but we are under another law — a law of another kind, which works upon us in another way. What if a man says, “I am free from the police, and the magistrate, and the judge, and the executioner,” does it therefore follow that he is free from the rules of his father’s house? Assuredly not. The child may be quite clear of the police court, but there is a rod at home. There is a father’s smile; there is a father’s frown. And though Christians shall never be punished for their sins so that they can come under condemnation, since they are completely delivered from that evil calamity by Christ, yet being children of God they come under another discipline — the discipline of his house and home — a discipline of chastisements not at all of a legal caste; for, however bitter the suffering it often entails, though he causes grief he will have compassion; the rebukes are sharp, but the retribution is not vindictive: and the Lord is accustomed to smile with approbation, to speak with commendation, and to bestow his compensations with liberal hand on those who seek his face, listen to his voice, and do his bidding. When he has committed to us some service which he only could qualify us to discharge, he has often caused us to partake of the fruits in abundant joy. Now, I shall endeavour to bring out this principle while I am speaking upon our text. Those who are children of God should seek after universal obedience to the divine commands. They should have respect for all the Lord’s commandments. If they do so they will have a full requital; and this is the reward. “Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect for all your commandments.”
2. Two things, then, claim our attention: the universality of believing obedience, and the excellence of its result.
3. I. THE UNIVERSALITY OF BELIEVING OBEDIENCE is highly commended here.
4. The esteem in which we hold and the tribute we pay to all God’s commandments is spoken of. Not some of his commandments, but all of them — not picking and choosing — paying attention to this, because it pleases me, and omitting that, because it is not equally pleasurable, but the careful, earnest respecting of all the statutes of God and the anxious endeavour to keep them all — it is this which challenges attention.
5. In it is great blessedness. Turn to the psalm itself, which is far preferable to any reflections we could offer, inasmuch as the word of God must always excel the word of man. There David says, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.” Does this blessedness simply come on those who are in the way, irrespective of their walk and conversation? Indeed, but let them take heed lest they step aside and put their foot into the puddle and stain their garments. The people who are truly blessed are the undefiled who so watch their walk that they endeavour in everything to adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour, and in nothing to grieve the Spirit of God. There lies the blessedness, not in partial obedience, but in perfect obedience as far as it can be attained; not now and then, but always and immediately; not in some things, but in all things, as far as we are taught regarding the living God. The only way to avoid defilement is to have respect and pay deference to all the commandments of the Lord. Whether we observe it or not, there is never an omission of duty or a commission of fault that does not cast a stain upon the purity of conscience and the integrity of character. Would you wish to be spotted from head to foot, believer? I know you would not. If you would be blest, you must be undefiled, and if you would be undefiled, there must be a universality about your obedience — walking in all the commandments of the Lord.
6. To enjoy this beatitude a holy walking must become habitual. This sacred exercise is very different from sluggish piety. “Blessed are the undefiled in the way who walk in the law of the Lord.” A man may sit down in the road without soiling his skin or fouling his apparel, but that is not enough. There must be progress — practical action — in the Christian life; and in order to be blessed we must be doing something for the Master. Slothfulness is not the way to blessedness. Nor can we serve the Lord in this active work unless we labour in all things to know his will, and walk according to his way. God is to be sought diligently by sincere souls. “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies and who seek him with the whole heart.” Now, you cannot keep the testimonies, and know the doctrine, unless you have the will in full force and vigorous energy. It seems to be almost as inevitable as a law of nature that a man who is not sound in his life cannot be sound in his judgment. Wisdom will not long hold a seat in the head of that man who has yielded up his heart to folly. A pure theology and a loose morality will never blend. We have known men who thought themselves mightily orthodox indulge in many unseemly and profligate habits; in fact, they have made light of their own sins: but that boasted orthodoxy of theirs presently develops into some pernicious fallacy. Be assured of it, you cannot keep the testimonies unless you are willing to keep the precepts. Flaunt as you may your knowledge of the letter of the Scriptures, you shall fail to be acknowledged by God as his witnesses, unless there is the witness of the life as well as the witness of the lips. And how can the witness of the life be sincere unless we strive in all things to keep the statutes of the Lord? How can we be said to serve him with our whole heart if part of our heart goes after vanity — if we hug some favourite sin, or if we leave some known duty in abeyance, saying, “When we have a more convenient time we will attend to you.” No, the blessedness is to the undefiled. The blessedness is to the walkers in the way. The blessedness is to the keepers of the divine testimonies. The blessedness is to those who seek the Lord with their whole heart. So, you see, you must take care to have respect for all the commandments if you are to get the blessedness of the Christian life.
7. If you will carefully notice the fourth verse of this psalm you will see that this keeping of all the commandments is itself a positive command of God: “You have commanded us to keep your precepts diligently.” That is enough warrant for a Christian — “You have commanded.” Now, the command of God to his people is not, “You shall keep some of my commands, and walk in a measure according to my mind, and after my will.” What father is there who will say to his children, “You must sometimes obey me. The rule of my house is that you may use your own discretion, and follow your own inclination concerning which of my injunctions you obey and which you neglect; you can have your own way at times, if you will only occasionally yield to me in a few things.” Such a father would be quite unworthy to be at the head of any household. Certainly our heavenly Father is not so lax in his discipline. He has spoken to his children in tones of love. The law of his mouth has been given as a light to illuminate our path, and as a lamp to guide our feet. So palpable, then, is the divine benevolence that the more imperious his voice, the more interested we must be in heeding it. Does he say then — “You shall keep my statutes and observe my ordinances” — do not doubt for an instant that there is much profit in following the instructions closely, and great peril in disregarding them. And inasmuch as the authority of God goes with each command, with one precept as well as another, therefore it should be the object of the Christian that he should keep all the commands. He should make no choice, or selection, concerning the words of the Lord, but take them all and pray the Lord to bring him into conformity with every one of them.
8. That this is a fitting and proper subject for prayer becomes very obvious; for in the next verse the psalmist exclaims, “Oh that my ways were directed to keep your statutes!”
9. Now, no man I think ever prayed God to grant him partial obedience. Did he ever pray, dare he ever pray, “Oh Lord, help me to overcome some of my sins, but not all. Today preserve me from some temptations, but allow me to indulge some of my propensities?” Did you ever pray, “Oh Lord, keep me, I pray you, from great and open sins, but permit me in your infinite mercy to enjoy certain private sins, that I am extremely fond of?” Such a prayer would be more worthy of a worshipper of the devil than of a worshipper of God. No; our heart renewed by grace craves to be perfectly set free from sin. We have not obtained it; we are pressing on towards it, but this, even now, is our desire, and our prayer. Hence you cannot wonder that in the text the believing man is spoken of as having respect for all God’s commandments, since, if it is a matter of prayer, it cannot be in respect for some of God’s commandments, but he must pray that he may have respect for every one of them.
10. Now, I want to come a little closer to details. What do we mean by having respect for all God’s commandments? I reply that, whatever there is that the Lord has spoken in any part of his word we desire to hold in devout esteem, and to have respect for every utterance of his will. The law, as he gave it to Moses, is no longer the way of obtaining life for us, but it is still in the hands of Christ a most blessed rule for living. It is divided into two tablets, and our prayer is that we should keep them both, reverently observing them; that towards God our life should always be obedient, truthful, adoring: that we should have respect for him in all our ways; that we should lean upon him; that we should depend upon him; that then we should serve him, and devote ourselves wholly to him. To seek his glory, first and foremost, is the chief end of our being. We must not forget this. But then there follow six commands upon the other stone, which relate to men, and we must observe them; for it would be a poor thing to say, “I am devout towards God, but I do not care to be just towards men.” A devout thief would be a strange anomaly; an adoring murderer would be an exceptional incongruity; a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ indulging in covetousness is a self-evident contradiction. No, he who loves God must love his neighbour as himself; and I do trust our desire is that we may not fail in obedience to either of these tables, but may by the work of the Holy Spirit in us be accomplished into an uprightness of conduct and character, both towards God and towards men. Some commands of God are highly spiritual, while others may be described rather as moral. Surely, to trust God is one of the grand commands. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” is a precept which we would never wittingly neglect. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” “Cast your care on him.” “Draw near to him.” All such spiritual exhortations as these relate to the life of the quickened believer. God has forbidden us to disregard, to despise, or to disparage any one of them. Oh that we may abound in all the graces of the Spirit, and be diligent in all the acts of our spiritual life.
11. But we must not, therefore, forget or be negligent concerning morals, which some have accounted to be minor obligations, pretending to abound in prayer, but positively slothful in business, content to wait but not to work. They said that they were serving at the altar, but we saw that they were indolent enough in the shop. Christian men who stand up for the truth should take care not to be lax in their conduct when they are so wonderfully strict in their creed. Do not trifle with truth in speaking to your fellow man while you insist on respecting the truth of God. Can anything be more despicable than the pietists [a] who prate much about the faithfulness of God’s promises, but are not very particular about keeping their own promises? They say that they will return an article on Friday night, and you do not get it until the following Wednesday; that is telling a falsehood. If you saw yourselves as others see you, though you might consider yourselves spiritually true, you would know for a certainty that you were morally false. Little duties are almost too insignificant for such high flying spiritual professors. They are brethren who can pray at a prayer meeting, therefore they need not do an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage. On the other hand, they can oppress the labourer in his wages because they intend to give a donation to the hospital. It will not do. In vain you pretend to be spiritual, and attend to spiritual duties, while you leave the commonplace morals in abeyance. Depend upon it, man, if you are not moral, you are not a disciple of Christ. It is all nonsense about your experience. If you occasionally get drunk, or if you now and then let fall an oath, or if in your business you would make twice two into five or three, according as your profit happens to run, — why, man, do not talk about being a Christian. Christ has nothing to do with you, at least no more to do with you than he had to do with Judas Iscariot. You are very much in the same position. “Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” If without holiness, then much more without morality, can no man expect to see the face of God with acceptance. But, as true believers in our Lord, we do hope that he will enable us to have respect for all God’s commandments.
12. Some commandments especially concern the church. Every Christian should endeavour to discharge his duties towards his fellow Christians. There are also duties connected with the family, and every Christian should see that he does not let one of these kill the other. I once knew a man — I cannot tell you whether he is alive at this present moment — I knew him well; he used to go out into the villages with all the local preachers. He was a constant attendant at prayer meetings — in fact, you never went to a public service connected with the church without seeing him — and he was out at tract society and missionary anniversaries, and every gathering of that kind; the only place where you never found him was at home with his boys. I had the misery to teach one of his boys. That boy died in drunkenness before he had reached the age of manhood. Others of his sons were the pest of the town in which he lived. That man was eminently good in certain respects, doing a great deal for other people’s families, but nothing for his own. Now, that will not do, brothers and sisters. That will never do. We must never bring to God as a sacrifice a duty smeared with the blood of another duty. That would be an abomination. There is a balance and a proportion to be observed. “Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect for all your commandments.”
13. The works of the Christian life may be divided, if you like, into public and private. How zealous some individuals are in the discharge of public work. Anything that will be seen by men shall have their strictest attention. But how about private work? We attend the prayer meeting, but do we forsake the prayer closet? We hear sermons, but do we read our Bibles alone? We attend public meetings, but do we have private communion with God? Oh beloved, there are two sets of duties, the outward and the inward. Even though to outward observation we walk uprightly before God, and there is nothing about us that the human eye can detect as wrong, yet if the heart is not pure, if although the outside of the platter is washed the inside is full of filthiness, how far we are from perfection! These reflections ought to cause a world of self-examination while I press home the crucial words — “Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect for all your commandments” — those divine injunctions which concern the secret inward life, as well as those which have to do with our more outward and public conduct.
14. We sometimes divide Christian duties into greater and smaller. Of course they are all great; none are small except in their bearing upon others, and some things appear to have less relative magnitude. Now, some people are remiss and careless about what they call petty, trivial matters, but the genuine lover of the Lord will show his love for his Master in bestowing much care upon little things. I know that it is in a family the little things that bring discomfort, and the little things that give pleasure; and I believe in the family of God those who give diligent heed to the little things of the word usually bring much comfort to their fellow Christians and great glory to God. At the same time, there were Pharisees of old who strained out gnats from their drink, but swallowed camels by their immoralities. There were those who tithed mint and anise and cummin, and yet neglected the weightier matters of the law. This must never occur with us. We must endeavour to have such a careful walk that we would not go an inch astray; and yet it is idle to talk about going an inch astray when we give ourselves licence for a mile or two of wandering every now and then. May God grant we may have grace to avoid small faults, while we strive to keep clear of great transgressions.
15. There is one other word I would like to say here. In the full sweep of our text there must be taken in unknown duties as well as known ones. “Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect for all your commandments.” There may be some of God’s commandments that you do not know. Study the word of God in order that you may know them. “Well,” one says, “but I am excused if I do not know them.” Do you really think so? because, if so, the more ignorant a man is the safer he is from coming into condemnation; for, knowing little, he is under little obligation, according to such an estimation. But our understanding and knowledge are not the measure of our duty. The command of God is our sole standard. Conscience itself is not a trustworthy rule. If a man’s conscience is unenlightened, he may be sinning, and reaping the bad consequences of his sin, not less surely because he is not conscious that his misfortunes are due to his folly rather than his fate. His conscience cannot be the standard. The standard is the law of God. Brother, I would not have you live in daily neglect of a divine command which I am persuaded you would obey if you knew it. Do not hide yourself behind a pillar, but come into the light, and take the word and read it, and always ask that God would be pleased to open your eyes to anything there you have not seen so far. You know you can wink very hard sometimes when you are reading the Bible. I should say that our friends in the Southern states of America, when they kept slaves, must have winked dreadfully hard when they were reading such a passage as this: “As you wish that men should do to you, do also to them likewise.” And I could mention some other matters that concern English people, that would require a frequent putting the finger over the eye, for fear too much light should come in. But do not be like that. Seek to let the word photograph itself upon your understanding, and then immediately when you know the divine will labour to carry it out in all particulars. Thus I have tried to show the range of this text.
16. But now notice that what is intended here is that the soul should pay respect to all God’s commandments — pay respect to them — love them, esteem them, value them, and thus pay respect to them all. I do not know whether you catch my thought, for I am afraid that I am putting it rather awkwardly. The commands of God are proportionate to each other. When an architect is about to erect a large edifice, say a cathedral, he has to make the height of the various proportions relative to each other. He grasps an idea of what the general effect is to be, so he does not expend all his strength upon the nave, or the transept, or the chancel, or the spire, but he tries to make each part of the magnificent edifice assist and contribute to the general harmony of the entire structure. Now, it ought to be just so with the Christian life. “Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect for all your commandments” — to the foundation commandments, striving to dig deep; to the high soaring commandments, seeking to rise into the utmost fellowship with God; to those commandments that need stern labour, like the rugged walls upon which much toil must be spent, and upon those which are a delight and a beauty, like the golden stained glass windows that require fine taste and delicate skill. One would wish to do it all, to experience it all, to strive for a completeness of character, so that we may be like the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh that we were enamoured with this perfection, and were seeking after it! It becomes us, dear friends, who are believers in Christ, to set before us as our standard a perfect character, and we should strive to reach it, looking to have the mind and will of God for that model. That I may in all things do what God requires of me, and abstain from everything which he forbids me, should be the great object of my life. May it be my firm resolve, and my daily and hourly desire, that, by the power of his Spirit, I may attain this conformity to the divine purpose. I should endeavour with constant maintained persistency to get nearer and nearer to this obedience to every divine commandment. Every failure should cost me sorrow. Every mistake should lead me to chasten myself with penitence. Every time I error I should go to the blood again and ask to be washed, so that no defilement may remain upon me.
17. II. Having thus expounded upon this universal obedience, only a few minutes can be afforded for the reward, that is — THE EXCELLENCY OF ITS RESULT, “Then I shall not be ashamed.”
18. I suppose that means, first, that as sin is removed, shame is removed. Sin and shame came into this world together. Our first parents were naked and were not ashamed, but when in another sense they became naked, then they were ashamed. They had no sooner sinned against God than they were told that they were naked, and they hid themselves from the presence of the Most High. Unless sin gets to a high pitch, which it will not do in the believer, shame is always sure to go with sin. Excessive sin or habitual transgression at last kills shame and gives a prostitute’s forehead, so that the hardened culprit does not know how to blush. It is an awful thing when a man is no longer conscious of shame, but a still more awful thing when he comes to boast in his shame; for then his damnation is not far off. But as sin is cast out of the believer, shame is cast out of him in proportion, and then it happens that courage rises with a consciousness of rectitude. The man who has respect for God’s commands is no longer ashamed of men. He is not abashed by their scorn, or disconcerted by their ridicule. Let them say, “Oh, you are too precise.” We should be very foolish to take that as a reproach. I remember a man once contemptuously calling me John Bunyan as I went down the street. I took off my hat to him, and felt rather flattered. I only wished I had been more like him. If anyone says to you, “Oh, you are a Methodist,” take the imputation kindly. It is a most respectable name. Some of the grandest men who ever lived were Methodists. “Ah,” but they will say, “you are one of the Presbyterians.” Do not frown at the charge, but bow courteously; for some grand witnesses for Christ have belonged to that godly fellowship. “Ah,” says the world, “you are one of those Puritans — you are one of those religious people.” Yes, but you are not ashamed of that. They might as well have said, “You are a man worth £50,000 a year.” Would you blush to acknowledge it? I dare say you would like it to be true. When anyone says, “Ah, there is one of the saints,” ask him to prove his words. Tell him you only hope you will try to prove them yourself. There is nothing to be ashamed of in keeping God’s commands.
19. Then, again, before men we shall not be ashamed of our profession. Well may some Christians be inclined to put their Christianity into the shadows when they remember how little credit they do to it; but when a man has respect for all God’s commands, he is not ashamed to say, “I am a Christian. Look me up and down and examine my conduct. I do not boast about it, but I know that I have sought honestly and sincerely to walk before God in righteousness.” Or, when an accusation is brought against you falsely, meet it in the same spirit. Maybe someone will libel you. I will defy you to avoid it. If you were to live the life of the most irreproachable man of God you would not be safe from calumny. Was not God himself slandered, even in Paradise, by the serpent? But you need not be ashamed when you can appeal to God and feel that in all things you have endeavoured to keep his commands. Triple armed is he who has his conscience clear. No armour of steel or mail can so well protect a man as to know that before God he has walked in guileless, blameless uprightness, and sought to do before the Lord what is well-pleasing in his sight. “Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect for all your commandments.”
20. This may likewise refer to that inward shame we sometimes feel when we examine ourselves, and pass our own conduct in review. Do you not ever, when reading a promise, look upon it as a very sweet promise made to God’s children, though you hardly dare appropriate it for yourself? You feel ashamed. In fact, there are many gracious promises you never have yet been able to accept as your own. You have been afraid to take them. They were too rich, too ripe, too luscious a fruit for you to dare to taste: you thought they were intended for the favoured children, not for poor strangers like you. Now call to remembrance my text: “Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect for all your commandments.” There are some delightful privileges of the Christian that you have never yet dared to seek; some high doctrines that you have scarcely been able to believe. Dear friend, have respect for all his commandments; for, perhaps, your fear, your doubt, your hesitancy, your lack of assurance may have arisen from your lack of a careful walk before God; and when the Holy Spirit has enabled you to be holy, he will enable you by full assurance to grasp the rich things of the covenant.
21. Now, may I not be speaking to some who have been ashamed of attempting their obvious duty? It is your duty to tell your experience sometimes to others, but you have blushed at the very thought. I know why. It was because you thought of some inconsistency which, if they knew, would disparage your testimony and make you appear very faulty in their eyes. Ah, “Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect for all your commandments.” You have not dared to address even the smallest congregation yet though you can speak very well upon secular topics. Why is that? Is that because your walk is not as close with God as it should be? “Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect for all your commandments.”
22. Perhaps, my brother, you may be a minister, and yet sometimes you may almost falter in stating some grand doctrinal truth. Why is that, brother? Is there something behind it that I cannot guess — that I would not mention if I could — which weakens your testimony? Yet you will not be ashamed when you have respect for all God’s commandments. How can we stand to admonish the unrighteous if we are not living righteous lives ourselves? How can we be able, like Nathan, to say, “You are the man,” if we are conscious that the person rebuked could turn around and point at our lives and say, “See what you do?” No, brethren, the servants of God who are to have courage in doing duty for their Master must pray to be the undefiled in the way, they must walk in the law of the Lord; and though at the very best, should they reach the highest point, they will still lie low before God and be humble in his presence, yet they will not be ashamed when they can feel that they have, in all integrity, walked before the Lord, and can say, like the prophet of old, “Whose ox have I taken? or whose donkey have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or from whose hand have I received any bribe to blind my eyes with it? and I will restore it to you. Witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed.” But if they could not impugn him, it gives the man grace not to be ashamed. So it will be in the time of trial, too. I admire Job, notwithstanding the testiness he seemed to have, and I wonder who would not be testy when he was covered with severe boils from head to foot: yet it was a grand thing to be able to say, “Oh God, you know I am not wicked”; and he could appeal to the Eternal as his vindicator, because the charges brought against him were not true; he had not sinned against his God in the way in which they said. Though he was not perfect in his nature, yet he was pure in heart; he was sincere in his disposition, and blameless in his outward deportment, so that he could defy them to prove any one of the insinuations that they hurled at his integrity. This helped him to triumph. It was the very backbone of his patience. And what satisfaction will it supply when our course is reaching its close, and we face the hour of our departure, if no dark clouds hang over our retrospect of life. Let God’s grace enable you and me to live godly lives, then we shall find our evidences to be certain. Though we shall never rely upon any works of righteousness that we have achieved, or any character of holiness that we have acquired, but shall always rest as much in Christ as we did when at first we cast our sinful souls on him for mercy, yet still it will be sweet to look back upon a life that has been spent in the service of God, and to exchange this service below for the nobler service of his courts above.
23. And when our course is finished, and we are gathered to our forefathers, do you not think it will be well to leave an unclouded reputation behind? Did you ever notice the painful contrast between the record concerning one and another of the good kings of Judah? Take for example Amaziah and Hezekiah. Of Amaziah it is said, “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, yet not like David his father. However the high places were not taken away: since the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.” There was no such qualification to the tribute offered to Hezekiah’s memory. “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his forefather did. He removed the high places, and broke the images, and cut down the groves, and broke in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for up to those days the children of Israel burned incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him there was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any who were before him.” So, brothers and sisters, I pray it may be so with each and all of us, though we may not hold any such exalted position as the kings of Judah, yet let it be our desire and our aim to be “sincere and without offence until the day of Christ.”
24. One more thought and I have finished. “Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect for all your commandments.”
“Then I shall not be ashamed before God.” There is such a thing as a
child of God being very much ashamed in the presence of his Father.
He does not doubt that he is a child, but yet he feels ashamed. Is it
not so with your own children? They know that they are your children,
and they know that you love them, but still they are ashamed, because
they have been doing something which grieves you, and so they do not
seek out your company. They get away from father. Father has looked
very angrily at them. And yet you never say, “Oh, you are not your
father’s child, because you have done wrong, and your father will
turn you out of the family.” They are never apprehensive of your
casting them out. Oh no; they are Calvinistic enough to know that
they are not threatened with such a punishment, but at the same time
they are fully aware — and it is enough to distress them — that their
father is vexed, and that he frowns, so they keep out of his way.
Now, remember, if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have
fellowship with each other, and “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son
cleanses us from all sin.” But we must walk in the light, or else we
shall not have fellowship with God. Sin will mar and break up that
fellowship. Sin will make you stop communing, or else communing
will make you stop sinning. The two things are not consistent with
each other. I, of course, do not mean by sinning those sins of
infirmity which we commit unconsciously, but I mean a general habit
of sinning, to which our wilfulness or our negligence contribute. No
rebellion or remissness can be tolerated in those who are living with
God. Have you ever noticed two boys who want some indulgence, and one
of them says, “Ask father for such and such. Ask father to let us
have a holiday.” The other says, “John, you ask him.” “No,” says
John, “I cannot ask him, you ask him.” “Why should the younger one
ask?” “Well,” John says, “you know I have offended father, and though
of course he loves me, yet I do not think it is quite the time for me
to go and ask him for any great favour. You go and ask for us both.”
Have you not felt like that when engaged in prayer sometimes when you
have not been walking with God as you should? You could pray for
forgiveness; you could pray for common mercies; but as for any great
favour or special mercy, you have felt ashamed at such times to ask,
and you have been glad for some brother to open his mouth a little
wider than you dared, and ask some great blessing for the church and
yourself. Oh Lord, your servant knows what it is to draw near to your
mercy seat, but he feels as if he was not on such terms with you as
usual, and that he cannot offer prayers and intercessions with that
sense of liberty he has often enjoyed. There are other times when God
meets us with the kisses of his love, and says, “Ask what you wish,
and it shall be given to you.” It is grand praying with us then.
“Then I shall not be ashamed, when I have respect for all your
commandments.” I shall not plead my obedience before you. Indeed,
truly; but I shall plead the blood and righteousness of Christ, and
this I shall do with all the greater boldness because my heart is
sprinkled from an evil conscience: and that same Spirit which has
worked obedience in me will work in me the spirit of adoption, and he
who taught me to listen to your voice will teach me to speak so that
you will listen to my voice, and an answer of peace shall come to me.
May God bless you, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every
good word and work, for the sake of Jesus. Amen.
[Portion Of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Ps 119:1-16]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Spirit of the Psalms — Psalm 119” 119 @@ "(Song 2)"]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Desires After Holiness — Holy Principles Desired” 649]
[See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Desires After Holiness — Longing To Love Christ” 646]
[a] Pietist: A person characterised by or professing special piety; one who cultivates, or lays stress on, depth of religious feeling or strictness of religious practice, esp. as distinct from intellectual belief; one who is emotionally, mystically, or exaggeratedly pious. OED.
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Spirit of the Psalms
Psalm 119 (Song 1)
1 Oh how I love thy holy law!
‘Tis daily my delight;
And thence my meditations draw
Divine advice by night.
2 How doth thy word my heart engage!
How well employ my tongue!
And in my tiresome pilgrimage
Yields me a heavenly song.
3 Am I a stranger, or at home,
‘Tis my perpetual feast:
Not honey dropping from the comb,
So much allures the taste.
4 No treasures so enrich the mind,
Nor shall thy word be sold
For loads of silver well refined,
Nor heaps of choicest gold.
5 When nature sinks, and spirits droop,
Thy promises of grace
Are pillars to support my hope,
And there I write thy praise.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 119 (Song 2)
1 Oh that the Lord would guide my ways
To keep his statutes still!
Oh that my God would grant me grace
To know and do his will!
2 Oh send thy Spirit down, to write
Thy law upon my heart!
Nor let my tongue indulge deceit,
Nor act the liar’s part.
3 From vanity turn off my eyes;
Let no corrupt design,
Nor covetous desires arise
Within this soul of mine.
4 Order my footsteps by thy word,
And make my heart sincere;
Let sin have no dominion, Lord,
But keep my conscience clear.
5 My soul hath gone too far astray,
My feet too often slip;
Yet since I’ve not forgot thy way
Restore thy wandering sheep.
6 Make me to walk in thy commands,
‘Tis a delightful road;
Nor let my head, or heart, or hands,
Offend against my God.
Isaac Watts, 1719
Psalm 119 (Song 3)
1 My soul lies cleaving to the dust;
Lord, give me life divine;
From vain desires and every lust,
Turn off these eyes of mine.
2 I need the influence of thy grace
To speed me in thy way,
Lest I should loiter in my race
Or turn my feet astray.
3 When sore afflictions press me down,
I need thy quickening powers;
Thy word that I have rested on
Shall help my heaviest hours.
4 Are not thy mercies sovereign still,
And thou a faithful God?
Wilt thou not grant me warmer zeal
To run the heavenly road?
5 Does not my heart thy precepts love,
And long to see thy face?
And yet how slow my spirits move
Without enlivening grace!
6 Then shall I love thy gospel more,
And ne’er forget thy word,
When I have felt its quickening power
To draw me near the Lord.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 119 (Song 4)
1 My soul lies grovelling low,
Still cleaving to the dust:
Thy quickening grace, oh Lord, bestow,
For in thy word I trust.
2 Make me to understand
Thy precepts and thy will;
Thy wondrous works on every hand,
I’ll sing and talk of still.
3 My soul, oppress’d with grief,
In heaviness melts down;
Oh strengthen me and send relief,
And thou shalt wear the crown.
4 Remove from me the voice
Of falsehood and deceit;
The way of truth is now my choice,
Thy word to me is sweet.
5 Thy testimony stands,
And never can depart;
I’ll run the way of thy commands
If thou enlarge my heart.
Joseph Irons, 1847
Psalm 119 (Song 5)
1 Consider all my sorrows, Lord,
And thy deliverance send;
My soul for thy salvation faints;
When will my troubles end?
2 Yet I have found ‘tis good for me
To bear my Father’s rod;
Afflictions make me learn thy law,
And live upon my God.
3 This is the comfort I enjoy
When new distress begins:
I read thy word, I run thy way,
And hate my former sins.
4 Had not thy word been my delight
When earthly joys were fled,
My soul oppress’d with sorrow’s weight,
Had sunk amongst the dead.
5 I know thy judgments, Lord, are right,
Though they may seem severe;
The sharpest sufferings I endure
Flow from thy faithful care.
6 Before I knew thy chastening rod
My feet were apt to stray;
But now I learn to keep thy word,
Nor wander from thy way.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
Psalm 119 (Song 6)
1 Oh that thy statutes every hour
Might dwell upon my mind!
Thence I derive a quickening power,
And daily peace I find.
2 To meditate thy precepts, Lord,
Shall be my sweet employ;
My soul shall ne’er forget thy word;
Thy word is all my joy.
3 How would I run in thy commands,
If thou my heart discharge
From sin and Satan’s hateful chains,
And set my feet at large!
4 My lips with courage shall declare
Thy statutes and thy name;
I’ll speak thy words though kings should hear,
Nor yield to sinful shame.
Isaac Watts, 1719
Psalm 119 (Song 7)
1 Father, I bless thy gentle hand;
How kind was thy chastising rod;
That forced my conscience to a stand,
And brought my wandering soul to God!
2 Foolish and vain, I went astray
Ere I had felt thy scourges, Lord;
I left my guide, and lost my way;
But now I love and keep thy word.
3 ‘Tis good for me to wear the yoke,
For pride is apt to rise and swell;
‘Tis good to bear my Father’s stroke,
That I might learn his statutes well.
4 Thy hands have made my mortal frame,
Thy Spirit form’d my soul within;
Teach me to know thy wondrous name,
And guard me safe from death and sin.
5 Then all that love and fear the Lord,
At my salvation shall rejoice;
For I have hoped in thy word,
And made thy grace my only choice.
Isaac Watts, 1719.
The Christian, Desires After Holiness
649 — Holy Principles Desired
1 I want a principle within
Of jealous, godly fear;
A sensibility of sin,
A pain to feel it near.
2 I want the first approach to feel
Of pride, or fond desire;
To catch the wandering of my will,
And quench the kindling fire.
3 That I from thee no more may part,
No more thy goodness grieve,
The filial awe, the fleshy heart,
The tender conscience, give.
4 Quick as the apple of an eye,
Oh God, my conscience make!
Awake my soul, when sin is nigh,
And keep it still awake.
5 If to the right or left I stray,
That moment, Lord, reprove;
And let me weep my life away,
For having grieved thy love.
6 Oh may the least omission pain
My well instructed soul;
And drive me to the blood again,
Which makes the wounded whole!
Charles Wesley, 1749.
The Christian, Desires After Holiness
646 — Longing To Love Christ
1 I thirst, thou wounded Lamb of God,
To wash me in thy cleansing blood;
To dwell within thy wounds: then pain
Is sweet, and life or death is gain.
2 Take my poor heart, and let it be
For ever closed to all but thee!
Seal thou my breast, and let me wear
That pledge of love for ever there.
3 How blest are they who still abide
Close shelter’d in thy bleeding side!
Who life and strength from thence derive,
And by thee move, and in thee live.
4 What are our works but sin and death,
Till thou thy quickening Spirit breathe?
Thou givest the power thy grace to move:
Oh wondrous grace! Oh boundless love!
5 How can it be, thou heavenly King,
That thou shouldest us to glory bring?
Make slaves the partners of thy throne,
Deck’d with a never fading crown.
6 Hence our hearts melt, our eyes o’erflow;
Our words are lost; nor will we know,
Nor will we think of aught beside,
“My Lord, my Love, is crucified.”
7 Ah, Lord! enlarge our scanty thought,
To know the wonders thou hast wrought;
Unloose our stammering tongues, to tell
Thy love immense, unsearchable.
8 First born of many brethren thou!
To thee, lo! all our souls we bow:
To thee, our hearts and hands we give;
Thine may we die; thine may we live.
Count Zinzendorf, Anna and
John Nitschmann, 1737;
tr. by John Wesley, 1740.