41 Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord,
your salvation according to your promise;
42 then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
43 And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
for my hope is in your rules.
44 I will keep your law continually,
forever and ever,
45 and I shall walk in a wide place,
for I have sought your precepts.
46 I will also speak of your testimonies before kings
and shall not be put to shame,
47 for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love.
48 I will lift up my hands toward your commandments, which I love,
and I will meditate on your statutes.
Sermon 49 (Psalm 119:43)
- Here observe— 1. His request, and take not the word of truth out of my mouth. 2. The profession of his faith, repeated by way of argument and reasons, for I have hoped in thy judgments.
- 1. For his request. You may wonder why he beggeth that the word of truth may not be taken out of his mouth. Rather you would think he should ask that it might be kept in his heart. But you must consider that confession of truth is very necessary, and in a time of dangers and distresses very difficult. The proper seat of the word of truth is the heart; it must abide there. But when the heart is full, the tongue will speak:
- The word is first in the heart, and then in the mouth;
- Doct. 1. It is not enough to believe the word in our hearts, but we must confess it with our mouths. Doct. 2. Such trials may befall God’s children that the word of truth may seem to be taken out of their mouths.
- Doct. 3. At such a time God must be dealt withal, as much concerned in it. David saith to the Lord, Take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth.’
- Doct. 4. If it please God to desert us in some passage of our trial, we must not give him over, but deal with him not to forsake us utterly.
- Doct. 5. They will not utterly be overcome in their trials who hope in God’s judgments.
- Doct. 1. It is not enough to believe the word in our hearts, but we must confess it with our mouths.
- There is the whole sum of Christianity, and it is reduced to these two points—believing with the heart, and confessing with the mouth; an entertaining of Christ in the heart with a true and lively faith, and a confessing of Christ with the mouth in spite of all persecution and danger.
- This confession is of great use, as conducing much to the glory of God and the good of others.
- The glory of God, which should be the great scope and end of our lives and actions, is much concerned in our confessing or not confessing what we believe.
- The good of others and their edification is concerned in our confessing or not confessing. No man is born for himself, and therefore is not only to work out his own salvation, but as much as in him lieth to procure the salvation of others, and to bring God and his truth into request with them; therefore not only to believe with the heart—that concerneth himself, but to confess with the mouth—that concerneth the good of others.
- Use 1. To reprove them that think it to be enough to own the truth in their hearts, without confessing it with their mouths.
- Hath Christ endured so much for us, and shall we be afraid to own his truth?
- O Christians! shall we be ashamed to speak for him that was not ashamed to die for us, or count religion a disgrace which is our glory?
- Use 2. To exhort us to confess with the mouth, and to own the truths we are persuaded of. And here I shall handle the case of profession.
- (1.) It is certain that the great truths must be owned and publicly professed, or else Christ would not have a visible people in the world, distinct from pagans and heathens. (2.) It is certain we must do nothing to contradict the truth in the smallest matters. (3.) In lesser truths, when they are ventilated and brought forth upon the stage, and God crieth out, Who is on my side, who? we ought not to give up ourselves to an indifferency, to hide our profession for any danger. (4.) When our non-profession shall be interpreted to be a denial. (5.) When others are scandalised by our non-profession, or not owning the truths of Christ; that is, not only with the scandal of offence or contestation, but with the scandal of seduction, in danger to sin; and to run into error by our not appearing for God, the interest of truth should prevail above our ease and private content. 6.) When an account of my faith is demanded, and I am called forth to give testimony for Christ, especially by magistrates. (7.) When impulsions are great, and fair opportunities are offered in God’s providence:
- When the heart is seasoned by the fear of God, and we are guided by reasons of conscience rather than interest, and we constantly wait upon God for direction, then will God guide us.
- Doct. 2. Such trials may befall God’s children that the word of truth may seem to be taken out of their mouths. This may come to pass two ways:— 1. They may not have liberty to own it; 2. They may not have courage to own the word of truth for fear of danger, because of many adversaries.
- Doct. 3. At such a time God must be dealt withal about it upon two grounds:— 1. Because God hath a great hand in the judgment. 2. God only can give us a remedy by his grace and power; therefore our great business lieth with him, in regard of the power of his providence, by which he can remove rubs and oppositions.
- Use. Let, then, every person be dealing with God about this case, every single private person for himself; and for public persons the prayers of others are necessary; it is a common case, wherein all are concerned:
- 1. Humbly confessing our ill-deservings. It is a sign God is angry when he suffereth his gospel to be obstructed, much more when the mouths of his ministers are shut up that they shall not plead for his interest and truths. It is a notable sign of his departure that he is not much concerned in the progress of the gospel. God’s raising spirits is a hopeful presage. Oh, therefore, let us humble ourselves before the Lord! 2. Earnestly; for it is a case that concerneth us deeply, because upon our trial we should be strict and precise: 3. Deal with God believingly; pray in faith. There are two considerations in the text which may fortify us:— [1.] Because it is a word of truth. [2.] There are judgments to be executed on the hinderers of the word of truth.
- Doct. 4. We should not give over dealing with God, though he is pleased to desert us in some passages of our trials, that he may not forsake us utterly.
- (1.) It is fit the creatures should know themselves; therefore God will humble us, and in part leave us to our own fears, but not wholly leave us destitute of grace; as the nurse seemeth to let the child fall, that he may clasp the more strongly about her. (2.) It is fit the world should know that a zealous defence of the truth comes not from natural stubbornness and pertinacity, but from divine assistance; therefore God showeth what the flesh would do, how it would shrink in the confession of the truth, if it were permitted to prevail. (3.) It is fit we should see the necessity of continual dependence. After grace received we have not always the same presence of mind so as to plead for God, but only as he is pleased to influence us: our case doth change and alter, ebb and flow, as it pleaseth God.
- Use. Not to be severe against those that fail out of infirmity, nor to cast them off, for God doth not pity them; rather than censure them, let us help them out of the mire.
- Doct. 5. They will not be utterly overcome in their trials that hope in God’s judgments. Why? 1. Because this hope will teach us to wait upon the Lord until he show us better things: 2. It fortifieth the soul against present difficulties, so as they do not unsettle, but quicken us.