I will speak of Your testimonies before kings, and I will not be ashamed.
right-willed. The psalmist may only mean freedom from special circumstances of constraint and intimidation, but we can use his words in a more comprehensive and more general sense.
I. RIGHT-WILLEDNESS AS A CONDITION TO BE GAINED AND KEPT. Here it is the disposition to seek the guidance and help of God's precepts in every emergency of life. Wrong-willedness is an undue tendency to trust in self for wisdom and guidance. Dependent man never comes right until he wants God; and he never keeps right unless he leans on God. The very essence of the example of the Lord Jesus lies in his right-willedness. No restraint had ever to be put on him, because he always wanted what God wanted for him. We only get our wills set in harmony with God's in the persuasion and power of God's Spirit; but we can set ourselves, and keep ourselves, open to his gracious leadings and inspirings and inworkings.
II. RIGHT-WILLEDNESS AS A CONDITION IN WHICH FREEDOM CAN BE ENJOYED. Where there is that disposition and purpose there is always sensitiveness to evil. It is detected at once. It is disliked. To it there is a natural resistance. It is illustrated in Joseph, who "could not do wickedly;" and in the Hebrew youths, who could not "defile themselves with the king's meat." These young people could be trusted anywhere, because they were set on doing right. The only man in God's world who is really free, and can be safely trusted with freedom, is the man who means to do right, who is resolved to do God's will as he may get to know it. - R.T.
I will speak of Thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.
I. THE AUTHORS, OR, AS THEY MAY BE JUSTLY DENOMINATED, THE EXECUTIONERS, WHO PUNISH MEN WITH MARTYRDOM FOR MORALITY, I understand, then, by the vague term, "kings," all who have any pre-eminence over the lowest orders of men, and these are they who exercise tyranny and inflict the martyrdom for which the prophet in the text prepares us.
II. THE MAGNANIMITY OF SUCH AS EXPOSE THEM-SELVES TO IT.
III. THE HORRORS THAT ACCOMPANY IT.
IV. THE OBLIGATION OF SPEARING OF THE TESTIMONIES OF GOD BEFORE KINGS. We ground this on the nature of this duty. You have heard, that it consists in urging the rights of God before great men; and, though it be at the hazard of all the comforts and pleasures of life, in professing to respect the moral part of religion. How often have we denied our holy religion? How often, when it hath been jeeringly said to us, "Thou also wast with Jesus," have we sneakingly replied, "I know not what thou sayest"?
V. THE CROWN OF MORAL MARTYRDOM. A man who can say to God, as our prophet said, finds a rich reward, first in the ideas which a sound reason gives him of shame and glory; secondly, in the testimony of his own conscience; thirdly, in the approbation of good people; and lastly, in the prerogatives of martyrdom. These, if I may so express myself, are four jewels of his crown.
Homilist.There are several reasons to justify this boldness in religion: —
I. IT IS A DIVINE SYSTEM.
1. All the arguments for the Divinity of this book may be ranged under one word — congruity.(1) The congruity of its contents with collateral history.(2) The congruity of its Contents with itself. Though written by different men in different ages, in different lands, there is no essential contradiction.(3) Congruity with our antecedent notions of God.(4) Congruity with man's reason, intuitions, wants.
2. What folly to be ashamed of speaking of a book whose author is God Himself.
II. IT IS A RATIONAL SYSTEM.
1. In saying this we do not say —(1) That men's interpretations of it are rational. Nor —(2) That all it contains can be comprehended by reason.
2. Its incomprehensibles answer two purposes — furnish an argument for its Divinity, and a schooling energy for the student.
3. There are two facts in favour of this rationality.(1) That its most thoughtful students have ever been impressed with its reasonableness.(2) That it has ever proved itself the most powerful agent in developing the rationality of mankind. Why, then, should we be ashamed of speaking of a system so rational, a system that can bear the scrutiny of the keenest intellect, the analysis of the severest philosophy?
III. IT IS A POWERFUL SYSTEM.
1. Because it is true. All truth is powerful.
2. Because it is moral truth. Truth for the affections and conscience is the most powerful kind of truth.
3. Because it is remedial truth. Truth revealing provisions for recovering sinners.
4. Because it is embodied truth: — Truth, coming, not in mere proposition or precept, but in example, in the example of God Himself. It is, indeed, "the power of God." Every page in the history of its triumphs demonstrates its almighty power. Then you may well glory in it.
IV. IT IS A RESTORATIVE SYSTEM. It is a power, not to destroy, but to save.
V. IT IS A UNIVERSAL SYSTEM. It is not for a class, a sect, a province, a period; it is for universal man.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)
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