THE CHARACTER OF GOD.

BY CHARLES SIMEON

Ps. Ixviii. 35. The God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people : blessed he God ! THE consideration of God's power is to his enemies awful in the extreme ; but to his friends it affords the richest consolation. The immediate subject of the psalm before us is the carrying up of the ark from the house of Obed-edom to Mount Zion : but the power of God in destroying his enemies, and saving his friends, is celebrated throughout in terms of exultation and triumph. In the words of our text this interesting topic is summed up in few words, and concluded with an expression of adoration, well suited to the subject. We propose to consider, I. The description here given of God — Though at first sight this description of the Divine character does not appear very peculiar, yet, if it be attentively considered, it will be found.

502 PSALMS, LXVIIL 35. [611. 1. Most glorious — [It imports, in the first place, that God does give strength

and power to his people : and this is proved by all the sacred annals ; yea, by daily experience. He has enabled his people of old to resist the greatest temptations^, to perform the hardest duties'^, to endure the heaviest afflictions'^, to triumph over the united assaults of earth and hell ^. And many can say at this day, " As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the Lord of Hosts ®." It intimates yet further, that none hut God can give strenglh to his people. The mode of expression in the text strongly intimates this. What could the gods of the heathen do for their votaries ? God tells them that their senseless idols could not so much as move : they must themselves be carried^. And as for human confidences, they were also vain : neither the Assyrian, nor Egyptian, nor any other power, could dehver those who trusted in them ^. It was the prerogative of Jehovah alone to afford his people the succours they stood in need of ^'. But the full meaning of the text seems to be, that God delights in supplying his people's wants ; it is that very character in which he most glories, and by which he most wishes to be known. He is always looking out for opportunities of exercising his power on behalf of his people ' ; and rejoices in every occasion that their necessities afford him of making known to them his power and grace ^.] 2. Most endearing — [If a person be advancing with a full tide of spiritual prosperity, how can he fail of loving the great Author of all his happiness ? Surely every exercise of divine power that he has ever experienced, must render this attribute of the Deity precious to his soul, while he beholds the dangers he has escaped, and the difficulties he has overcome.

To a person weak and drooping, this view of the Deity must be still more delightful. How must he check his unbeHeving fears ; and say, " Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Hope thou in God ' ! " Above all, must this description of God be precious to the poor. They are incapable of entering into abstract views of the Divine perfections : but this representation of the Deity they are as capable of comprehending, as the most learned upon earth can be : yes ; he knoivs both the existence, and the om,nijwtence, of the Deity, as much from his own inward experience, a Gen. xxxix. 10— 12. ^ Gen. xxii. 2, 9, 10. "^ Heb. xi. 30, 37. d 2 Cor. xii. 7 — 10. e Ps, xlviii. 8. f Isai. xlvi. 1, 2, 6, 7. ^ Tsai. xxx. 1 — 7. ^ Ps. Ixii. 11. i 2 Chron. xvi. 9. ^ jgr, xxxii. 41. i Ps. xlii. 11.

(511.] THE CHARACTER OF GOD. 508 as he can possibly do from the visible creation ; because he feels himself to be a living witness of themJ] In order to call forth the practical ends of this description, let us consider, II. The sentiments it should excite in us — If the concluding words of our text be understood

as referring to the past, they are an expression of gratitude to God ; if as relating to the future, they denote a cheerful affiance in him. We may properly take them in both these senses, and learn from them to exercise, 1. Gratitude — [While a sense of our own weakness humbles us in the dust, a view of God's power, and a recollection of the experience we have had of his kindness and all-sufficiency, should kindle in our breasts the liveliest gratitude. Who can " look to the rock whence he has been hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence he has been digged ™," and not bless the name of his God ? Wlio can behold the manner in which others are enslaved by sin and Satan, and not adore the God that has made him free ? So deeply was David impressed with the mercies he had received, that he not only called on his soul to bless God, but declared that '^all his boties should praise him"." And the one inquiry of our hearts should be, "What shall I render to the Lord for all the benefits he hath done unto me ° ? "] 2. Affiance — [The perfections of God in general may well encourage us to trust in him : but his power, together with his disposition to exercise it on our behalf, should lead us to place in him the most unbounded confidence. Difficulties should all vanish, and appear as nothing, when we reflect on him who is engaged for us. The same power that " made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over p," can smooth all obstructions in our way i, and make our mountains to become a plain ^ We therefore should trust all our concerns in his hands', with an assured hope that we shall never be confounded *.]

Infer — 1. How little ground is there for the excuses of the presuniptuoiis ! [Yovi are ready to vindicate your ungodly ways, by saying, " I cannot live as God requires." But is not God able, yea, "1 Isai. li. 1, 2. n Ps. xxxv. 9, 10, « Ps. cxvi. 12. and ciu. 1, 2. P Isai. li. 10. q Isai. xl. 4. ^ Zech. iv. 7. * Prov. xvi. 3. ' Ps. exxv. 1, 2.

.504 PSALMS, LXIX. 1—4. [612. and willing too, to assist you ? And if you will not seek his assistance, does not the blame rest wholly with yourselves? Know that, however you may justify yourselves now, there is a day coming when you will stand speechless before him.] 2. How little ground is there for the fears of the desponding ? [We are but too apt to faint in difficulties, and to think them insurmountable : but if we would habituate ourselves more to look at the power of God, we should proceed with confidence and courage. " Let the weak then say, I am strong." Let them " know in whom they have believed, that He is able to keep that which they have committed to him^."] " 2 Tim. i. 12.

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