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BY REV. C. SIMEO, M. A.
Ps. cxix. 37. Titrn away mine eyes from beholding vanity ;
and quicken thou me in thy luay.
THE depths of the human heart are never more
plainly disclosed, than when a man comes into the
presence of his Maker. Then he opens all his
wants, and supplicates relief for all his necessities.
The godly man at a throne of grace knows no dissi-
mulation, no concealment, no false humility. What
he speaks, (if he be in a right state) he feels. Let
us then draw nigh, and listen to the breathings of
holy David. He felt the ensnaring influence of
worldly things, and the lamentable tendency of fallen
man to relax his efforts in the service of his God :
hence he poured out his soul in this humble suppli-
cation; "Turn away mine eyes from beholding
vanity ; and quicken thou me in thy way."
That we may all be stirred up to implore similar
blessings at the hands of God, we propose to shew,
I. The fascinating power of earthly vanities —
By the word, " vanity," we understand all those
things which are apt to engross the affections of
carnal men. The Apostle classes them all under
" the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the
pride of life :" and they all justly deserve the name
assigned them in the text, because they are sure to
disappoint the desires and expectations of all, who
look to them for any solid or permanent satisfaction.
406 PSALMS, cxix. 37. [421.
These things altogether captivate and enslave the
minds of the generality —
[The natural man seeks nothing above them. His mind is
not occupied with any thing above them. He " is in the flesh ;"
he " walks according to the fiesh," " fulfilling the desires of the
flesh and of the mind." His " affections are altogether set upon
things below, and not on things above." His thoughts, his con-
versation, his labours from day to day, all arise from, and ter-
minate in, the things of time and sense : and from these things
alone spring all his hopes and fears, his joys and sorrows ]
These things also have great power over those
who profess godliness —
[So our Lord has told us in the parable of the Sower. The
thorny-ground hearers have made, in appearance at least, a great
proficiency in religion. They have far surpassed the stony-ground
hearers, who yet have heard the word with joy, and given many
cheering and hopeful promises of a future harvest. They have
been long established, and brought forth much which both they
and others have deemed estimable fruit : but yet, " through the
cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lust
of other things, the seed that has grown up in them is choked,
and they bring forth no fruit to perfection."
Even persons truly and deeply pious are in great danger from
them ; else why did our blessed Lord caution even his own imme-
diate Disciples in those memorable words, " Take heed to your-
selves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting
and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come
upon you unawares **." There is yet an earthly and sensual spirit
dwelling in the best of us, and working powerfully to counteract
the better dictates of our new man ^ : and he knows little of his
own heart, who does not see and bewail his own proneness to
look back again after the flesh-pots of Egypt,]
But whilst we point out thus the danger of
earthly vanities, we would point out also,
TI. The way to escape their baneful influence —
We should set a guard upon all our senses —
[The senses are inlets to all manner of evil. Alas ! alas !
how often has the mind been contaminated by what it has either
seen or heard I If it were no more than what we have read in
books, or heard in conversation, that was calculated to encourage
a worldly spirit, we should all feel abundant reason to lament,
that we have not been sufficiently on our guard against the ad-
mission of bad impressions on the mind. But the vilest lusts
have found an entrance into the heart by these avenues. Some
" Luke xxi. 34. •" Gal. v. 17.
421.} HIDRAlSrCE OF WORLDLY VAITIES. 407
have found to their cost, that one sinful idea, which they have
either seen in a book or picture, or heard in conversation, has
abode with them tlu'ough Hfe, when they have greatly desired to
forget it ; whilst hundreds of sermons which they would have
been glad to have remembered, have passed from their minds like
the early cloud. Behold David, the man after God's own heart ;
What reason had he to curse the day that he ever looked upon
Bathsheba ! What reason too had Solomon's fool to
lament that ever he listened to the voice of the enchanting
adulteress'' ! It is not without reason that Solomon advises us
not to look upon the wine when sparkling in the glass '^. We
must resist the very first entrance of sin into the soul ; for it will
operate like fire on a house of wood. Alas ! " how great a
matter does a little fire kindle^ !" Its progress is very rapid :
and who shall stop the conflagration, when once it is begun ?
*^ When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin ; and sin, when
it is finished, bringeth forth death ^" We exhort all then, like
Solomon, to make a covenant with their eyes, and with their
ears also, yea, and with the very imaginations of their heart ;
that neither their corporeal nor intellectual eyes become ministers
of sin, or traitors to their souls.]
We should cry earnestly to God for his effectual
[God does and will preserve his people from evil, if they
cry unto him. We should therefore call upon him both for his
preventing and his quickening grace : we should pray, as David,
*' Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity ; and quicken thou
me in thy way."
There are many ways in which God will turn away our eyes
*' from beholding vanity." He will, if we are really seeking it
at his hands, keep temptation from us. And how much we are
all indebted to him for this, we shall never know, till we come to
the bar of judgment, and have all his mercies unfolded to our
view. Thousands of our fellow-creatures, who were once as
respectable in every point of view as ourselves, have in an hour
of temptation so fallen, as to destroy all their own honour and
happiness through life. And why have not we done the
same ? Are we sure that we, if subjected to the same temp-
tations as they, should not have done the same? Oh 1 if we
are wise, we shall cry day and night, '' Lead us not into
temptation." But there are many other ways in which God
can, and does, impart the same blessing. Perhaps he lays some
affliction upon our loins, and visits us with some personal or do-
mestic calamity. We are apt on such occasions to complain of
the affliction ; whereas, if we saw from what evils the visitation
¦= Prov. vii. 6—23. * Prov. xxiii, 31, 32.
' Jam. iii. 5. ' Jam. i. 15.
408 PSALMS, Gxix. 37. [421.
was sent to deliver us, we should be adoring God for it as the
richest of all mercies. Let our distress be either in body or mind,
who will not bless God for it, if it be the means of weakening
the influence of worldly objects on his soul, and of keeping his
eyes from beholding vanity ? —
But, in addition to this, we should cry to him also for his
quickening grace. However active we may be in the pursuit of
earthly things, we all are too sluggish in our heavenly course.
ine times in this psalm does David cry, " Quicken me ;" and
ninety times nine do we need to renew the petition every day of
our lives. Beg of God then to shew you more and more clearly
the excellency of " his way" (even of that salvation which
Christ has wrought out for us ) , and the blessedness of
the end to which it leads. This will quicken us more than any
thing else. Let us see the excellency of a life of faith; and
that will make us despise the things of sense. Let us also get
Pisgah views of the land of Canaan ; and we shall value nothing
that can be offered us in this dreary wilderness. Look at Christ
as the way, and Christ as the end ; and you will soon *' cast
away the besetting sins that impede you," and "run with alacrity
the race that is set before you^."]
1 . Young people —
[Greatly do you need to offer the petition in our text. Oh !
bear in mind what is the true character of earthly things : they
are ^'vanity" altogether Bear in mind your danger
from them : they will ensnare, and, if the snare be not broken,
destroy, your souls Bear in mind your need of Divine
grace to counteract their influence. It is God only than can
preserve you : and, if not preserved by him, you will fall and
1. Those who make a profession of godliness —
[Think not that you are above temptation. Satan tempted
even our blessed Lord himself, by " shewing him all the kingdoms
of the world, and the glory of them." And you will he tempt
in like manner. or imagine that you may not fall : for Demas
was as eminent as any of you, and yet fell at last, through love
of this present world '^. In every Church the sad effect of worldly
and carnal lusts is seen. You yourselves see it in others. Oh,
beware lest it be seen in you also. It is your duty, and your hap-
piness, to " be crucified unto the world, and to have the world
crucified unto you'." You may use this world, if God have given
it to you ; but you must " so use it, as not to abuse it'' ;" and so
flee from all occasions of evil, that you may be " found of God
at last without spot, and blameless'."]
^- Heb. xii. 1,2. ^2 Tim- iv. 10 with Col, iv. 14. & Phil. '24.
' Gal. vi. 14. '' 1 Cor. vii. 29—31. ' 2 Pet. iii. 14.
422.] PLALMs, cxix. 59, 60. 409
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