For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
I. THE NATURE OF THE HUMAN FRAME.
1. The body.
(1) Its wants and necessities.
(2) Its weakness.
(3) Its pains and sicknesses.
(4) Its mortality.
2. The soul, as in union with the body.
(1) The disadvantage arising from hence to that faculty of the soul which we call the understanding; the foundation of all the excellency and glory of man, but liable to be sadly confined, clouded and even distracted by the alterations that happen in the temperature of the body.
(2) Being united to a fleshly body, the soul is beset and agitated by a variety of passions, that are not natural to it, and yet could not more vex and influence it if they were.
(3) The consequence of all the rest is, that the embodied soul has a great many difficulties to struggle with and surmount, in the steady exercise of virtue and piety, in the regular exercises of devotion, and in maintaining its integrity and faithfulness to the end of this mortal life.
II. GOD'S KNOWLEDGE OF THE HUMAN FRAME.
1. Immediate and direct.
2. Perfect. He sees us through and through, without and within. This perfect knowledge of God extends not to some actions only, but to all; not only to our external actions, but even those which pass no further than the mind itself; its thoughts, and purposes, and affections; its least tendencies to good or evil; and the degree of good or evil in each.
III. GOD'S COMPASSIONATE REGARD TO THE NATURE AND WEAKNESS OF OUR FRAME IN ALL HIS DEALINGS WITH THOSE THAT FEAR HIM.
1. He does not expect that they should new-model and alter their frame. This is absolutely out of their power, and therefore no part of their duty.
2. God, who knoweth our frame, requires no other measures of virtue, obedience, and devotion, than are proportioned to the nature He hath given us, and the state and circumstances of being in which we are placed.
3. He knoweth our frame, and therefore does not willingly afflict and grieve us, not for His pleasure but for our profit, and that we may be made partakers of His holiness. And when He sees it necessary to correct us, it is in measure, and for no longer time than is expedient.
4. Out of a merciful regard to our frame, and remembrance that we are but dust, our gracious God grants us all that assistance and support and consolation of which we stand in need.
5. Remembering that we are dust (as liable to be swept out of the world as dust is to be scattered and blown away by the wind), He watches over us with a most tender care, and preserves us in life, as long as His own glory and our interest requires it.
IV. THE GROUND OR REASON OF THAT MERCY WHICH GOD EXERCISES TOWARDS THEM THAT FEAR HIM. He has the relation of a father to us, and the affection of a father for us; the affection or love without any of the imperfections attending it in earthly parents. APPLICATION.
1. Since the words of the text are designed not only for the consolation of those that fear God, they that do not fear Him have nothing to do with the comfort they administer, as long as they continue in their sins.
2. This should make us more favourable in our censures of the characters and actions of others, than we too commonly are.
3. Let such as truly fear God often revolve the subject of this discourse in their thoughts: it would be of great use to them, by affording them ground of caution on the one hand, and of comfort and encouragement on the other.
(1) Let me consider that I am dust, and from hence learn not to boast of anything I call mine, or to presume upon it: for, alas! what is anything merely human as such? human life, or reason, or virtue, or any other accomplishment? how weak the foundation! how uncertain the tenure!
(2) The comfort which the same consideration yields to persons of integrity is very great, and very apparent. Does not my heart condemn me, as wanting sincerity? I may, then, have confidence towards God, that He will not condemn me for the want of perfection: all my desire is before Him, and my groaning is not hid from Him. As He knoweth my most secret sins, so my sorrow for them, and my conflicts with them. As He knoweth all my weaknesses, so He knoweth how to pity them, and is both willing and able to help them. He will proportion my burdens to my strength, or my strength to my burdens.
Parallel VersesKJV: For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.