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THE LORD, THE GUIDE OF HIS PEOPLE.
PSALM LXXIII. 24.
Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
Tuese words express the actings of a very strong and lively faith.
In the beginning of the psalm, we find the Psalmist under deep agitation of mind, through the strength and violence of a particular temptation which had overpowered him. It arose from a quarter which has often perplexed and disquieted the minds of God's people,—the apparently unequal distribution of good and evil which obtains on this side of the grave. The Psalmist beheld the wicked
and ungodly prospering in the world, abounding in wealth and honours, and
having more than their hearts could “ wish,” while “ the righteous were
plagued all the day long, and chasten“ ed every morning.” This gave a violent shock to his faith, and almost tempted him to envy the prosperity of the wicked ; nor did he find ease and peace of mind, till he went into the sanctuary of God, and joined with his fellow saints in the delightful duties of social worship. Then the snare was broken,-he understood the end of the wicked :-he saw the danger of their situation, and looking forward to the awful consequences of their guilt and impiety in the coming world, he was rather disposed to regard them with pity, than, as at first, to covet or envy their condition.
Thus having, by the grace of God, surmounted the temptation, he became a considerable gainer by the conflict. As the sun, after it has been for some time overshadowed with a dark cloud, upon appearing again seems to shine with a peculiar brightness; so the author in the close of this psalm rises to the sublimest
heights of faith and love, proportioned to the depths of gloom and despondency which before had overspread his mind. He now chides himself for his folly and ignorance in ever calling in question the wisdom or goodness of any of God's dispensations; and recovering from his temporary delusion, he thus the pious feelings of his soul : “ Never“ theless I am continually with thee " thou hast holden me by my right hand, “ thou shalt guide me by thy counsel, and “ afterward receive me to glory.”
In these last words, which I have chosen for the text, the Psalmist, arising on the wings of faith and hope, seems to soar above all terrestrial objects; and reposing an unbounded confidence in that faithful and unchangeable God who had hitherto led and supported him, he. assures himself of the divine direction in every future step of his journey, and of glory at last as the end of his faith and the completion of his happiness.
The evils of life and the consequences of death are two principal sources of uneasiness to the mind of man. Whatever therefore has a tendency to remove, or
even to mitigate these, must, in the highest degree, conduce to human enjoyment. Such are the divine consolations suggested in the text. They furnish to every true believer an effectual and never-failing remedy against the various ills of life, and the still more awful terrors of death. With regard to the former, the Psalmist consoles his mind with the assurance of the Lord's guidance upon earth : With regard to the latter, he rejoices in the prospect of immortal life and blessedness beyond the grave.
I shall endeavour, in the present, and in a subsequent discourse, to illustrate and apply each of these consolatory truths. I propose, therefore, on this occasion, to confine your attention to the first clause of the text, « Thou shalt guide me “ " with thy counsels." And here let us consider in what way the Lord conducts and guides his people in this present state.
and the peo
Human life is frequently represented in the Bible as a journey ; and the ple of God are described as pilgrims and strangers upon earth, looking out for, and
travelling towards a better country, even an heavenly. Their way to this blessed country, like the journey of the Israelites to Canaan, lies through a wilderness, where enemies abound, and dangerous snares beset them on every hand. Many dark and difficult steps have they to take, -much opposition to encounter, and many
trials to endure. Meanwhile they have not wisdom of their own sufficient to guide their wandering steps. Even the most discerning among them may well adopt the language of the prophet, and say, “ O Lord, I know that the
way “ of man is not in himself; it is not in
man that walketh to direct his own “ steps.” They are as weak and defenceless as they are ignorant. If left to themselves, they are as unable to resist or repel the attacks of the numerous foes who oppose
progress, as to find out the way to the mansions of their Father's house above.
In these circumstances, the Lord himself vouchsafes to be their guardian and guide. “ As an eagle stirreth up her “ nest, fluttereth over her young, spread“eth abroad her wings, taketh them,