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THE KING OF SION.
PSALM CXLIX. PART OF VERSE 2.
Let the children of Sion be joyful in their King.
We have lately contemplated the Redeemer of the world in his humiliation.* We have viewed
him in his agony, stretched upon the cross, in the grave, and risen from the dead. We now behold him in his glory. We have seen him triumph over death and hell. We have seen him restored to the dignities of that infinite dominion which he left only that he might raise a delinquent world from death to life. He who was here a despised Galilean is now reigning in his kingdom as the Lord of Hosts. What a stupendous subject of contemplation to
* This Sermon was preached the Sunday after Ascension-day.
"the faithful in Christ Jesus!" They have truly "whereof to glory," not indeed "in their own righteousness, but in God's manifold and great mercies." We were outcasts from the heavenly presence; naked wanderers over a barren wilderness bounded on every side by the fathomless gulf of destruction. We were fixed to journey in hopeless misery through the "dark valley of the shadow of death" until "the Sun of righteousness arose with healing in his wings," and "brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." He has made us "his children by adoption and grace, who were in bondage under sin," and criminals condemned to everlasting excision. He laid aside, for a season, the Majesty of the eternal Godhead, and "took upon himself the form of a servant," in order to ameliorate the human condition. He has now however resumed the glories of his dominion in heaven, there to reign over the righteous for ever. "Let the children of Sion then be joyful in their King."
To whom do the words of the text apply? To the Israel of God!" And who are they? The "faithful in Christ Jesus." Christians are now the people to whom especially belong the name and character of " children of Sion." They are the spiritual seed of Abraham, to whom the promise, made to that patriarch, applied equally with his seed after the flesh; for all are the
spiritual seed of Abraham who are partakers of the faith of Abraham. They have been admitted into covenant with Christ; and as the Israelites were enjoined by the Psalmist to rejoice in Him who had made them his peculiar people; so may we, as the disciples of Jesus, whom he has made" the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand," apply the words of the royal prophet with very just propriety to ourselves.
But how, alas! do we rejoice in Him who has provided for us such a merciful refuge against "the wrath to come ?" Do we acknowledge him with those ardent feelings of love, those outpourings of a devoted heart which the strong ties of our obligation to him ought to engender? Do we for his sake, as well as for our own salvation, earnestly strive to attain, "in the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man; unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ ?" Do we ardently endeavour to co-operate with him in effecting this glorious consummation, by cherishing resolutions to expel, with his divine aid, those corrupt tendencies which lurk within our hearts and give their bias to every action of our lives? Do we forbear to "grieve the Holy Spirit of God" from an all-absorbing principle of love towards him, or only from a selfish dread of his terrors? Do we take pleasure in walking in his law from a
grateful remembrance of what he has done for us; or do it "grudgingly and of necessity," simply because we can have no chance of salvation if we forbear to walk in it? Do we avoid evil rather than good? Do we worship God only "with our lips, whilst our hearts are far from him?"
If our consciences recoil from such a scrutiny as this, we may be assured that we are not the "children of Sion," and cannot therefore be in a condition to take possession of their inheritance, which is "eternal in the heavens." To slight those precepts which the Saviour has left us for the practice of a holy life, or to obey them merely because we are sensible that they cannot be neglected with impunity, is by no means to be "joyful in our King." This is to look upon him rather as a "King of terrors" than a "King of glory;" to offer him our fealty as bondmen, not as subjects; to serve him from the terrors of punishment, not from the dictates of love. It is to yield him a servile obedience rather than a willing affiance; to give him the service of restraint, not the homage of the heart. Where there is no joy in our obedience there is no sincerity, and there can be no efficacy in any action where this essential quality is wanting. It is not the bare performance of our duty, simply because it is our duty, that will render our obedience to God's law an acceptable service. It
must grow out of higher motives than what the necessity of the case inspires. There must be not only a readiness, but also a desire, an anxiety to obey, or we can have "neither part nor lot" with God's heritage; since our souls, when guided by such erroneous views of duty, "cannot be right in his sight."
It is not surely by continuing in sin that we can fulfil the injunction of the text. We cannot be joyful in Christ, unless he be joyful in us. It is therefore only by a strict attention to the condition of our souls, and by a uniform course of endeavours to bring it finally into his fold, that we shall be enabled to take that delight in his law which can at once render the performance of our Christian obligations agreeable, and impart to us an assurance of his favour. Sin certainly affords little encouragement to rejoicing, whatever may be the pleasures which it holds out to us in promise. It offers no prospects in perpetuity but what are gloomy and repulsive.
We have been told upon inspired authority, that "sin, when finished, bringeth forth death." Why then do we so blindly solicit what we must know to be so pregnant with ruin? Is it that we continne in sin because we have not sufficient motives to resist its influence over us? Surely not. If the mighty alternative of eternal happiness or misery do not suggest to us sufficient