Psalm 37:3
Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Sermons
Doubts Raised by the Divine Providence, and How to Meet ThemC. Short Psalm 37:1-6
DiscontentJ. Parker, D. D.Psalm 37:1-12
Fret NotT. Spurgeon.Psalm 37:1-12
Fretful EnvyHomilistPsalm 37:1-12
FrettingJohn Cox.Psalm 37:1-12
FrettingJ. Scilley.Psalm 37:1-12
The Cure for CareJ. H. Jowett, M. A.Psalm 37:1-12
The Good Man's DirectoryC. Clemance Psalm 37:1-40
Two PicturesW. Forsyth Psalm 37:1-40
A Sacred Duty and a Gracious RewardT. Yockney.Psalm 37:3-8
A Simple GospelJohn Hunter, D. D.Psalm 37:3-8
A Sure Method of Obtaining Our DesiresSketches of Four Hundred SermonsPsalm 37:3-8
Christian WaitingH. Ward Beecher.Psalm 37:3-8
Delight in GodJ. Marriott, M. A.Psalm 37:3-8
Delight in GodH. Allon, D. D.Psalm 37:3-8
Delight in God the Origin and Perfection of Human PleasurJ. Seed, M. A.Psalm 37:3-8
Delight in PrayerS. Charnock.Psalm 37:3-8
Delight in the LordH. Reynolds, D. D.Psalm 37:3-8
Delight in the LordJ. Monro Gibson, D. D.Psalm 37:3-8
Delighting in GodW. Dickson.Psalm 37:3-8
Delighting in the LordJ. Baker Norton.Psalm 37:3-8
Delighting in the LordC. Voysey, B. A.Psalm 37:3-8
Desires AnsweredHomiletic ReviewPsalm 37:3-8
Genuine Piety the Antidote to EnvyHomilistPsalm 37:3-8
On Trust in GodS. Partridge, M. A.Psalm 37:3-8
Our Heart's DesireR. J. Campbell, M. A.Psalm 37:3-8
Rest to the Aching HeartS. Baring Gould, M. A.Psalm 37:3-8
Sunshine in the HeartPsalm 37:3-8
Temporal ProsperityEvangelical Advocate.Psalm 37:3-8
The Desires of the HeartPsalm 37:3-8
The Remedy for Hard TimesH. Ward Beecher.Psalm 37:3-8
The Secret of TranquillityA. Maclaren, D. D.Psalm 37:3-8
The Strongest and Sweetest Songs Yet Remain to be SungA. E. Hooper.Psalm 37:3-8
Trust in the Lord and Do GoodJ. Baldwin Brown, B. A.Psalm 37:3-8
Work and WagesJohn W. Norton.Psalm 37:3-8
This is a very remarkable psalm. Its theme is one throughout its entire length. Yet it is not so much drawn out consecutively as repeated proverbially. This may be partly accounted for by its alphabetical structure. There is no advance between the verses at the commencement and those at its close, but rather a remarkable variety of beautiful turns of expression to a thought that is the same throughout. The whole psalm may be summed up thus: "Just now, you see the wicked prospering and the ungodly depressed. Do not fret over this. Trust, do right, rest in the Lord, wait and see. And by-and-by you will find that the righteous are brought out to the light, while the wicked are relegated to forgetfulness and shame. Even now to have God in the heart with a crust in the hand, is better than to have the riches of many wicked. God will, in his own time and way, appear for his faithful ones, and prove the truth of his ancient word, 'Them that honour me, I will honour.'" So far as the text of the psalm is concerned, there is little to call for laboured criticism, though the Hebrew student would do well to examine minutely the second halves of the third and thirty-seventh verses. For the most part the psalm is delightfully plain and clear; and nowhere could any better rule or directory for life be found than is herein contained. In our homiletic treatment of it we will notice -

I. THE SEVERAL DUTIES HERE ENJOINED ON THE GOOD MAN. These duties are put into a form suggested by the circumstances which surrounded the writer. When David wrote this psalm he was an old man. Looking back on the scenes of past observation and experience, he had witnessed many strange inequalities on the surface of society. Looking in one direction, he had often beheld an ungodly man enjoying all that heart could wish, so far as this world was concerned; and in another direction he had as often seen a good man, one who walked closely with God, in the midst of trial, affliction, and distress. This state of things had perplexed him, and he knew that it still perplexed the righteous. To meet their perplexities and to assuage them, this psalm was penned; and it is this purpose which forms the background of thought throughout the entire length of the psalm.

1. The first injunction is "fret not (ver. 1). Do not worry or perplex yourself about these mysteries of God's providence. Even if the lot of the wicked seems more easy, more pleasant, more prosperous than yours, yet they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb; ' besides, "a little that a righteous man hath is better than the riches of many wicked." God's people are infinitely better off, with him as their heavenly Friend, than any of the ungodly are, with all their noise and parade.

2. Hence a second duty is presented to us: "Trust and Rest in the Lord. Two expressions for substantially the same attitude of spirit. But this restful trusting is put in contrast from fretting. Your work is not to worry, but to trust your God. Now, in what sense is this intended? Let us picture the good man under the difficulty to which we have referred. He sees the ungodly in high places, while he is obscure, depressed, afflicted; and he wonders what it means, now, in what sense is such a one to trust in the Lord? He is to trust in God, believing that such a state of things is known and permitted by him in infinite wisdom; that this state of chaos is perfectly consistent with God's love for his people; that God has some wise and holy end in permitting it - to prove him and to improve him; and that he will see that end, either in this world or in the next.

3. Then there follows a third duty: Wait patiently. If we are content to wait and let God's methods in providence open up before us, we shall see the ungodly cut down (vers. 2, 9, 10, 15, 17, 20, 25, 36, 38); that God will give us the desires of our heart, and graciously clear our way (vers. 4, 5); that though we may have been misunderstood and misrepresented for a time, yet God will clear us and our reputation in the long run (ver. 6); that God will grant the true possession and peaceful enjoyment of life to the meek and loyal (ver. 11); that the little of the righteous brings far more joy than the much of the wicked (ver. 16); that he will be upheld where others fall (ver. 17); that supplies shall be sent to the saint even in days of famine (ver. 19); that step by step will be taken under the ordering of a Divine Guide (ver. 23); that even in falling he shall not perish, for to him shall be shown a Divine upholding grace (ver. 24); that the righteous man will leave a blessed inheritance to his children, - peace was his in life, and peace shall follow his children when he is gone to his rest (ver. 37); that his life is but an outworking of God's great salvation (vers. 39, 40). It is not in youth that all this can be seen, but if we believe God when we are young, we shall have proved him ere we are old. Only let us wait patiently." There is a vast unfolding plan, which, if we are wise to observe, will be ever revealing to us "the loving-kindness of the Lord."

4. And thus we are led on to a fourth duty - that of obedience. (Ver. 3.) "Trust in the Lord, and do good," i.e. "do right. In ver. 34 the same duty is expressed in another phrase, Wait on the Lord, and keep his way. Trusting and trying, resting and working, are to go together. We are to find out what God would have us do in the sphere in which he has placed us; then to trust in the Lord, be strong, and do it. And we may do right" (ver. 3), or, in other words, we may "keep his way" (ver. 34) in one or other of two methods. By actively doing the Divine will; and this is probably what most of us are called on to do - to pursue with energy the duties in active life that are set before us. Now, we may fulfil these:

(1) In attending at each moment to the duty of the moment; simply doing the right thing, at the right time, in the right way, and with the distinct aim and purpose of pleasing God. May be our calling is not that which we should prefer, and yet we see no way open to any other. When God does open a way in another direction, by all means let us follow it. But, meanwhile, be it ours simply to do the work which lies before us, with a readiness and cheerfulness that befit those whose sole aim is to please God.

(2) In the cultivation of holiness we may "do right," ever setting the Lord before us, and aiming to follow him who "left us an example, that we should follow his steps."

(3) In personal efforts to help, to relieve, to comfort, or to serve another, we may do right. In this respect, as well as others, "it is accepted, according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not." But we may "do right" also by patiently bearing the Divine will; and sometimes this is all the believer can do - simply to bear what God has laid upon him. Nor is there a nobler sight on earth than to see one who, racked with pain or wrapped in obscurity, can say, "My lot is appointed me by my Father's will; all that will is love, and therefore I can cheerfully bear it. If my Father were to give the rod unto my own hands, I would give it back to him, saying, 'Father, thou knowest best; do with me as seemeth good in thy sight.'" Why, such a one, though he never goes outside the doors of his own house from one year's end to another, is a missionary to the Church and to the world! Preach fervently as we may by words, we cannot preach like these suffering saints! But we must notice -

II. THE CONNECTION THERE IS BETWEEN THESE SEVERAL DUTIES. We have specified them under four heads.

1. Fret not.

2. Trust.

3. Wait patiently.

4. Do right.

These four may be reduced to two: trusting and trying; or, in other words, to resting and working. Both are included in the verse already quoted. "Trust in the Lord, and do right." While these duties in combination make up "the whole duty of man," they are so connected together that neither can be discharged without the other. If we do not trust in God, we cannot do the right, and if we do not desire to do right, we have no right to trust in God. What, then, is the relation between them? At least a fourfold one.

1. Trust in God ensures the peace of mind which fits a man for work. E.g. take a tradesman in business, whose affairs are going down, and who will soon find himself on the wrong side of the balance-sheet. It is impossible for him to go about his business with the energy it requires, especially in these times. But put the man's affairs straight; tell him that everything is set right, and that by-and-by he will find himself in a better position than at present, - and you put new life into the man. When he knows that all is right, he can set about his work with all the zest that is needed. So it is here. There once were two burdens pressing on the heart. The one, of his spiritual interests, the other, of his temporal care. What has become of these? The first, the burden of guilt, he has laid at the foot of the cross. The second, the load of earthly care, he brings day by day, and casts it upon his God. Thus he has nothing left to care for, nothing left to be anxious about. Hence, the peace of God passing all understanding keeps his heart and mind in Christ Jesus; and, consequently, with unburdened heart, he can go about the work his Father has given him to do.

2. Trusting in God ensures the reception of strength for the discharge of work. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;" "As thy days, so shall thy strength be." So runs the promise, and so runs experience too. Strength according to the days; strength sure as the days; strength to the end of the days. Such will be the uniform result of" waiting on God all the day."

3. Trusting in God supplies a man with motives to perform his work. If I am permitted to trust in God, then honour requires that I shall do right; for I trust in God for strength to perform his will; hence when I ask for strength there is a tacit pledge that the strength received from God shall be spent in obedience to God. And not only so, but gratitude also requires that I should do right. If I receive of God's strength, how ann I but gratefully spend it for him? And the honor of religion requires that I should do right. For if I tell the world I am trusting in God, and yet fail to do right, what will the worldling say? What can he say, but this? - "Either your God is not the God you say he is, or else you have not the trust in him which you profess to have." If we want the world to believe in God, if we want them to give us credit for sincerity, we must show that, while we trust in God, we also do right.

4. Trusting in God gives a man a guarantee of the successful issue of his work. Is it mine to trust in God? Can I, under all circumstances, repose in him? Then I know that, to the very last, all shall be well. He hath said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Trusting in him, we will dare to work, to suffer, or to die.

5. Trusting in God will ensure a blessing to those on whom our work may afterwards full. (Ver. 37, Hebrew and Revised Version margin, compared with ver. 38, Hebrew.) The good man layeth an inheritance to his children's children. "The generation of the upright shall be blessed." The Old Testament does not project our thought into our own future life after death as the New Testament does, but it lays very much stress on the effect of a man's life on the generations which will follow him on earth: this is in accordance with Deuteronomy 7:9. And there can be no manner of doubt that the posterity of a man of trained righteousness, integrity, and piety, even though he be a poor man, will have the best of all legacies - pious poverty, God's blessing, and a father's prayers. We do not say that young people are now taught too much to look to their future life, but we do venture to affirm that far too little stress is laid upon, and mention is far too seldom made of, the thought of the effect of parental character upon posterity. The law of heredity is stronger than that of environment; or, to put the same truth in somewhat antique form, "Grace does not run in the blood, but it purifies it."

6. Trusting in God ensures a man of a home in God when the earthly work is over. Even when flesh and heart fail, God is the Strength of our heart, and our Portion for ever! - C.







Trust in the Lord and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
That is good, sound advice; no metaphysics in that: it is good common sense, even if it be three thousand years old. To-day is a time of a good deal of trouble in the world and all over the world. The troubles are political, commercial, social. Everywhere is distress and misery, and chiefly upon the heads of men that least can bear it. Now, what has our religion to say to us under these circumstances? Much. Our text itself is a whole sermon, and I could add nothing to it. It is only for me to rub it in; for it is all there: "Trust in the Lord and do good; so... thou shalt be fed." Dwelling in the land was promised to those who were not unused to see whole populations carried off to Assyria or Babylon, or to Rome, according to the will of their conquerors. And in a land liable to famines as Palestine was, "verily thou shall be fed" was a very precious promise. And the New Testament echoes the Old, only carrying the thought higher, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God... and all... shall be added unto you." Two capital elements for consideration are given us in our text.

I. TRUST. That is, have faith in God and in His care for you. And how wrong and foolish it is not to trust — for what father or mother ever loved their children as God loves us? But we trust God when things go well; when they do not, we fully doubt. We do not live by faith, but by sight — more's the pity. But we are bidden trust, and —

II. NOTE THE CONDITIONS are "do good." Trust inspires activity. Do not sit down in despair. You may be old, or verging toward it, and suddenly ruin comes. You say, "It is foe late to build again," and you are filled with despair. Nay! While age brings with it less energy and hopefulness, it brings with it, also, experience. You may not go on in the same scale and way as before, but accept the altered position, make the most of it, and be of good courage and trust in God. There is no disgrace in your having ceased to be the possessor of large wealth. I think some of the noblest examples of womanhood that I have ever met anywhere have been those noble souls who, cast out into poverty, never appeared so wise, so noble, so reverend, as in their poverty. The light of a candle does not depend on the candlestick in which it burns. How lovely is a beautiful flower amid barren surroundings! When fortune lowers on you in the form of loss of means of living, circumscribe your wants. A man can live on wondrously little when he sets about it. And retrench at the right end — the end where luxuries come in, not that of your church gifts and charities. Many reverse this order, and pamper the body whilst they starve the soul. And do not give up moral activity in the church, the schools, or elsewhere. The real man comes out in times of trial and loss, when he has nothing but his manhood to depend upon. Try when troubles come to you to lighten the troubles of others. That is a golden remedy. Why should you complain or faint? Stand in your place and smile. Remember the eternal is yours.

(H. Ward Beecher.)

When you have nothing to do, and there is nothing to produce anxiety, it is easy to wait — for it is laziness; and all men are apt by nature to be lazy. But when there is anything that you have set your heart upon, it is very hard to wait, especially if the thing does not come as soon as you expect it to. Waiting is easy when it is sinful, and hard when it is a duty. You tell your child that this pine-tree out here in the sandy field is one day going to be as large as that great sonorous pine that sings to every wind in the wood. The child, incredulous, determines to watch and see whether the field pine really does grow and become as large as you say it will. So, the next morning, he goes out and takes a look at it, and comes back and says, "It has not grown a particle." At night he goes and looks at it again, and comes back and says, "It has not grown a bit." The next week he goes out, and looks at it again, and comes back and says, "It has not grown any yet. Father said it would be as large as the pine-tree in the wood, but I do not see any likelihood of its becoming so." How long did it take that pine-free in the wood to grow? Two hundred years. And do you suppose that God's kingdom is going to grow so that you can look at it and see that it has grown during any particular day? You cannot see it grow. It has been rising all the time, only you could not see it rise." When, therefore, God says, "Wait patiently," there is good reason in it. Now, apply these general truths.

1. To the men who laugh and jeer at the whole idea. They believe only in the selfishness of men, and that nothing good can be made out of them. But they are shallow men, and have no faith in the overruling providence of God. Because progress is so slow, and many professed Christians are traitors, and because God works in plans too vast for them to understand, they say, "It is folly to be talking about advancing the world. It is a poor, mean world, and we must make the best of it. Eat, drink, and be merry, O soul, for to-morrow you shall die." Yes, and perish! For God sits in judgment, and though the day of His coming seems to be long delayed, yet we, with strong assurance of faith, resting on the pledged word of God, do look for the "new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness."

2. Consider the folly of the discouragement which many feel because men are so imperfect, particularly those who go from a higher to a lower state of society. In the army the soldier learns to put up with things that are worse than those which he has been accustomed to. No soldier, when he is on a raid, thinks of having a parlour like his mother's, or sitting down in a kitchen before a fire when he is wet and cold, as he has often done in his father's house. He is contented if he can find a dry spot under a tree to lie down on. He makes up his mind that he must adapt himself to his circumstances. But many men go down into states of society very different from those to which they have been used, and because they are not men enough to do the work; because some men are clumsy and rude; because some are deceitful and dishonest; because men are just what they always have been, they are disgusted. They cannot wait for a better condition of things to come about through the processes of time and Divine power. To such men the word is, "Wait on the Lord; wait patiently; and by and by He shall give you the desire of your heart."

3. Consider the folly of envying wicked men when they are in power, and thinking that perhaps it is worth while to be as wicked as they are. This is the very thing that the psalmist says you must not do. "Fret not thyself in anywise to do evil, neither be thou envious against workers of iniquity." Their prosperity, says the psalm, in effect, is at the beginning, and not at the end. When men eat opium, they at first experience feelings of ecstasy, and they see visions, and dream dreams, and have a glorious hour or two; but when they have gone through these pleasant experiences, then what have they? Purgatory on earth! The after part is hideous to them in the proportion in which the fore part was agreeable. Pray on, then. Trust in God! Do not listen to any one who would make you discontented. I beseech of you, have faith, not in man, but in Him that loved you, that redeemed you with His precious blood, that sitteth on high, and that hath decreed that every yoke shall be broken, and that the oppressed shall go free.

(H. Ward Beecher.)

Homilist.
I. THE DEVELOPMENT OF GENUINE PIETY. Here it is represented as operating-1. In a practical trust in the Lord. Not a passive, but an active state of mind. True philanthropy is piety in daily life.

2. In a personal delight in the Lord. Thin is infinitely more than to delight in our theology or our church.

3. In a settled reliance upon the Lord. This is a righteous, a necessary and a blessed work.

4. In a patient waiting upon the Lord. Be silent, and devoutly active.

II. ITS BLESSEDNESS.

1. Settledness. Piety makes a man feel at home in the world wherever he is, everywhere he feels that he is in his father's house, and though legally he cannot claim a foot of land, morally he inherits all.

2. Sustenance. "Verily thou shalt be fed," — fed not merely by bodily provisions, but by the higher provisions of soul — fed on truth. Nothing but truth can satisfy the cravings of the soul; nothing but truth can invigorate its powers. Man's spiritual nature grows in the atmosphere of genuine piety, but in all other climates it sickens and decays.

3. Realization. "He shall give thee the desires of thine heart," and "He shall bring it to pass." What do these expressions mean but this: Thou shalt realize both the cravings of thine heart and the objects of thine hope, the ideals thou art struggling after shall become grand realities in thy life?

4. Vindication. "He shall bring forth thy righteousness," etc. Whilst good men are unknown to most, and misunderstood by many, they are misrepresented by not a few. But one day they shall be revealed to all, they shall blaze as orbs on the vision of mankind.

(Homilist.)

This little, familiar text covers everything essential; it expresses the sum and substance of religion, and the great secret of right living. The God with whom we have to do is not an austere taskmaster, seeking to reap where He has not sown; He gives us grounds and reasons for trust before lie solicits trust. In the world of nature and man, in the best thoughts of our own minds, in the best affections of our own hearts, in the best experiences of our own lives, in the witness of saintly and prophetic souls, in the life and work of Jesus Christ — God has revealed enough of His character and will to quicken and sustain trust in His righteousness and love, when clouds and darkness are round about Him, and mystery besets us behind and before, and we cannot walk any more by sight.

I. WE MAY TRUST THE UNIVERSE. The confidence that the universe is essentially beneficent in all its operations, though it transcends actual knowledge, is yet based upon it. The more we study the relation of each part to the whole, and of the whole to each, the more do we see that what we call evil is but good in the making. Everywhere we see wisdom and goodness — one purpose, one law, one power, one God, throughout the universe. At the root of all the seeming severity of nature, there is the everlasting faithfulness and love of God.

II. WE MAY TRUST LIFE. We cannot hide from ourselves the dark side of human life, and we do not want a faith which does not fully recognize it; but when we study the tendency of things God becomes His own interpreter. God and good are perceived to be one, and our human world is seen to be moving through such processes as moral growth requires toward harmony with good. The week of creation is a long week. Wait! The end will explain and vindicate both the length and severity of the process. A careful study of the past affords sufficient justification for our largest expectations as to the coming years. The movement is ever towards good. The centuries grow juster, more merciful, more peaceful.

III. WE MAY TRUST GOD AS OUR FATHER AND SAVIOUR. What Christ was finitely, God is infinitely.

IV. WE MAY TRUST GOD FOR ALL THE FUTURE. NOT alone for these brief and troubled mortal years is He our Father and Saviour, but for ever. His laws will never play false with us; His mercy will never fail us. In all and through all the Father is redeeming and educating His children. From His love no soul is ever outcast; to His love no soul is ever lost.

V. TRUST IN THE LORD AND DO GOOD.

1. Trust in the Lord — there is our attitude toward the unknown and the unknowable. The unknown and the unknowable may be, and ought to be, trusted. With one of our modern seers we surely can say: "All I have seen bids me trust the Creator for all I have not seen."

2. Do good — there is our duty in the region of the known, in the realm of human relation and circumstance, in the realm of daily life. We cannot choose our life, but we can choose the way we shall live it. We can resolve and strive, whatever betides, to be good and to do good; ever to be loyal to the truest and best we know, and thus to compel the rapidly vanishing days to leave a blessing behind.

(John Hunter, D. D.)

This psalm is a vivid expression of the belief that God is very plainly on the side of the righteous, and will make the wrong-doers understand it in a very decisive way. Surely a fundamental belief of man, without which religion is impossible.

I. THE ORDER OF THE THOUGHT IN OUR TEXT. The trust comes before the doing good. Trust is the living root out of which all living goodness springs. But nothing can be more false than the idea that there is no goodness possible as the fruit of the natural action of the human powers. s principle, The virtues of the heathen are splendid vices, is false to the heart's core. There is natural goodness; man is so made that the freest and happiest play of his powers is in speaking truth and doing good. So far the heathen and deistical moralists are right. But man is made for a higher, a diviner goodness than the mere self-sustained play of his faculties can realize, a goodness whose life is the inspiration of God. Rob a plant of the air and sunlight, if there is some moisture about its roots, the sap within will produce some dim likeness of the flower, which under benigner conditions would flaunt its splendour and breathe its fragrance in the sun. So man, cut off from God, can produce some dim, dry image of the goodness which, when the life of God flows through it, will rise to godlike beauty and proportion. Good deeds will be fully and really such when their root is the grace and love of God.

II. BUT WHAT IS GOOD? What are good deeds? "What shall we do that we may work the works of God?" How many would be thankful for a list of good deeds with the countersign of Heaven. And God gives no catalogue of good deeds in His Word. The Churches are ready enough with their Do this and thou shalt live. But it is not the method of God. He goes at once to the root of the matter. Be good, if you would do good. Good, beautiful, Christ-like deeds are the affluence of a good, beautiful, Christ-like life. And there is but one way to be good. Begin at the beginning. Enter the training school of duty. Do the good thing which now lies nearest to your hand. Master your besetting sins. Look out daily for means to help and bless others.

III. THE PROMISE. So shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. The psalmist has no ideal meanings here: he means home and bread. And this would be the normal condition of things if the world were not so terribly jarred and jangled. Men and things would be in their right places. The wisest the teachers, the most prudent the managers, the ablest the rulers, the most liberal the almoners, the bravest the captains, the noblest the kings. But all is dislocated and confused. Yet through the whole there runs the law which finds expression in the text. "Trust in the Lord, and do good," and your home among your brethren is sure. They know the well-doers, they love them, they make room for them. "Come in and abide with us, O thou blessed of the Lord."

(J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)

I. THE NATURE AND GROUNDS OF TRUST IN GOD. To trust in the Lord signifies, in general, to be free from anxiety concerning any events, present or future, under a firm persuasion that God careth for us, and will direct all events for our real happiness. Many persons are ingenious in tormenting themselves, and possess the unfortunate art of destroying their own happiness. If they have no real causes of affliction, they will imagine some. Their ill-boding foresight discerns, in what is future, a multitude of evils. But trust in God is directly opposed to this. He speaks not of rash, presumptuous confidence, but of that which rests on solid grounds; trust that is joined with practical piety. "And do good," says our text: and that employs all lawful means. As an illustration, see the conduct of Nehemiah.

II. THE NECESSITY AND ADVANTAGE OF SUCH TRUST.

1. It is right.

2. It is blessed.

3. Demands an obedient life.

(S. Partridge, M. A.)

Real as the causes of our anxieties may be, there is too much of what is called "Crossing the bridge, before we come to it!" The true secret of being useful, and free from needless fears, is to cultivate sunshine. The text is one of those comforting promises, on which the desponding would be wise to meditate. The conditions on which our Heavenly Father agrees to protect and provide for His people, are distinctly stated in this verse.

I. THAT WE TRUST IN HIM. God's power to bless is not more boundless than His willingness to do so. Aye, He "is able to do exceedingly abundantly," etc. (Ephesians 3:20). There must be confidence in the heart towards God; indeed, the beginning and the end of true religion is confidence.

II. DOING GOOD. How much more we might do to make others happy than we ever try to do. One made happy each day, what a contribution to the general stock of joy that would be I And poor people can do this as well as rich. One is enabled to set an example of thankfulness and trust in God, which will be an encouragement to others who are careful and troubled about many things. Another exerts an influence for good, by showing a forgiving spirit.

(John W. Norton.)

So shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.
Most thoughtful Christians will admit that as intelligent and believing Christianity tends to prosperity and success. The Christian nations, and the Christian communities among the nations, are the only thriving portions of the world. Where heathenism or infidelity prevail, there are poverty, squalor and vice. So invariably united are the two things that we cannot but see that the connection is that of cause and effect. But what about individuals? All the virtues necessary for success in life are inculcated by the Gospel, and not only inculcated, but imparted in that measure in which the man-yields himself to Christ. Diligence, uprightness, sobriety, and such like, are, or ought to be, qualities of the Christian; and these are the virtues which lead to success. But we have other reasons. God is with them (Genesis 39:2; 1 Samuel 18:14, 28; Deuteronomy 20:1; Deuteronomy 31:6-8; 1 Chronicles 5:20; Jeremiah 39:18; Psalm 37:40). President Garfield's mother was left a widow when he was a little boy, but she taught him this lesson in his very early years, and it became the principle upon which all his life-work was carried on. Whether as a boy he proposed to "run" a farm, or as a man to "run" the State, it was always in this fellowship with God that he prosecuted his tasks. And how marvellous the successes he achieved! Here, then, is plainly the one great secret of success. — "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." These promises do not certainly mean that God will make all His children rich, in the sense of being possessors of thousands. They mean only that each in his measure shall have enough. They promise the suitable and natural rewards of honest industry and well-doing. That is all we need, and all any wise man will desire.

(Evangelical Advocate.)

Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
e: — Pleasure, or the enjoyment of our heart's desire, being the chief spring of action in man, the due regulation of our pursuits of it must always be of great moment; and whoever addresseth us with an offer of this kind can scarce fail of engaging our attention. Consider, then, how all our pleasures point out to us, and are improved by, a delight in God.

I. Those OF THE SENSES. How wrong are they who take their daily food without thankfulness or desire for God's blessing. See our Lord's example of thanksgiving, and that of St. Paul. But because the example of Confucius may weigh more with some men than that of St. Paul, let me add what is observed of him: that he never ate anything but he first prostrated himself, and offered it to the supreme Lord of heaven. In like manner, Whether we cat or drink, let us do all to the glory of God. This will ennoble and improve our carnal gratifications, and exalt them into religious acts of gratitude and love.

II. THOSE OF THE IMAGINATION. These are chiefly —

1. Beauty. Think of the beauty of the world and who has poured it out upon the creation, Himself, infinitely more beautiful. When we see the sun shine forth in its lustre, and nature appearing in its most advantageous dress, how can we avoid turning our thoughts upwards toward that Being, whose handiwork that sun shows, every field, every flower, contains the most edifying rhetoric to excite in us the love of that Being, who hath clothed the lilies of the field with that elegant simplicity, which was superior to Solomon's pomp, when arrayed in all his glory. But the Christian man must think of Him who has enriched the world with such a profusion of good; has beautified it with such order and harmony, and has ennobled it with such astonishing magnificence.

2. Greatness. We love to behold that which is great, solemn and majestic, and this desire was stamped upon our nature for this very purpose, that we might take delight in contemplating Him, of whose greatness there is no end. Everybody knows we hate nothing more than confinement in a prospect: the soul loves to have a free and unlimited range.

3. Novelty. This excites pleasure. How comes it that we are generally in pursuit of something new; and yet, when we are possessed of it, and the object becomes familiar to us, we cease to care for it. Does not the unsatisfactoriness of things here below admonish us to fix our rest upon Him, who alone can satisfy, and even exceed our wishes? Whom the more we know, the more amiable we shall find Him, and find no end of His perfections.

III. THOSE OF A MORAL AND INTELLECTUAL NATURE. No doubt, our highest affection, in the reason of the thing, is a tribute due to God considered as the highest good. Yet it must also be granted, that dry and abstracted reasons of love operate very faintly, unless we take into the account those affecting considerations of His being our Creator, Redeemer, Preserver, and universal Benefactor. For this cause the Scripture tells us, we love God because He first loved us.

IV. THOSE OF HOPE AND EXPECTATION. NOW, present hope is present good; and a certain expectation of future blessings is in some measure a blessing in hand. Hope is the great cordial that must sweeten life, and make the nauseous draught go down. Recreations and pastimes, properly so called (for they serve for no other end but to pass away our time), may soothe the mind into a pleasing forgetfulness of its misery. But nothing can give us an exquisite relish and enjoyment of this life but the hopes of a better through the merits of Jesus Christ.

(J. Seed, M. A.)

1. We have here, first, the life of a believer described as a delight in God; and thus we are certified of the great truth that true religion overflows with happiness and joy. Ask ye the worldlings what they think of religion, — and even when they practise its outward rites they snuff at it as a dull and dreary thing. They who love God with all their hearts, find that His ways are ways of pleasantness, and all His paths are peace. Delight and true religion are as allied as root and flower, as indivisible as truth and certainty. But there is another wonder in our text to worldly men, though it is a Tender well understood by Christians.

2. The text says, "He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." "Why," the worldly man says, "I thought religion was all self-denial; I never imagined that in loving God we could have our desires." Christian men have two selves; there is the old self, and therein they do deny the flesh with its affections and lusts; but there is a new self; the new man in Christ Jesus; and our religion does not consist in any self-denial of that. No, let it have the full swing of its desires; for all that it can long to enjoy, it may most safely obtain. So it is with the believer; his religion is a matter of delight; and that which he avoids is very little self-denial to him.:His tastes are changed, his wishes are altered. He delights himself in his God, and joyously receives the desire of his heart.

I. A PRECEPT WRITTEN UPON SPARKLING JEWELS.

1. What is this delight? A delightful word — I cannot use anything but its own self to describe it. If you look at it — it is flashing with light, it sparkles like a star, nay, like a bright constellation, radiant with sweet influences like the Pleiades. Delight! it is mirth without its froth. Delight I it is peace, yet it is more than that: it is peace celebrated with festivity, with all the streamers hanging in the streets and all the music playing in the soul. Matthew Henry says, "desire is love in action, like a bird on the wing; delight is love in rest, like a bird on its nest."

2. Whence comes this delight? "Delight thyself in the Lord."(1) Delight thyself in Jehovah, in His very existence. This alone is enough to be a well-spring of joy for ever and ever to all true believers.(2) Delight also in His dominion. "The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice." Jehovah is King! Come what may of it, He sits upon the throne and ruleth all things well.(3) Every attribute of God should become a fresh ray in this sunlight of delight. That He is wise should make us glad who know our folly. That He is mighty should cause us to rejoice who tremble at our own weakness. That He is everlasting should always be a theme for our music, when we know that we are grass and wither as the green herb. That He is unchanging should always give us a song, since we change every hour and are never long the same. That tie is full of grace, and that this grace in the covenant He has given to us, that it is ours to cleanse us, ours to keep us, ours to sanctify us, ours to perfect us, ours to bring us to glory — all this should tend to make us delight ourselves in Him.

3. When is this delight to be practised? My text does not say, "Delight thyself in the Lord occasionally, and now and then," but at all times.(1) It is hard to delight in God when everything goes well with us. "Oh," I hear you say, "I cannot understand that; that is the time when I do delight in God most." I am afraid it is the time when you delight in God least. Is it not likely that often you are delighting in His mercies rather than in Him? delighting in the creature rather than in the Creator?(2) Another time when it is hard to delight in God is when everything goes in with us. Then we are apt to say with Jacob, "All these things are against us."

4. Why is this delighting in God so rare? Because there is so little on the one hand of genuine religion, and so little on the other of deep-toned religion where the little that there is is genuine.

II. A PROMISE PRICELESS BEYOND RUBIES. Those who delight in God are qualified to have the promise fulfilled. When a man's delight is in God, then His desires are of such a sort that God may be glorified in the granting of them, and the man himself profited by the receiving of them. Again, delighting in God qualifies the believer not only for desiring aright, but for spending aright: for some men, if they had their heart's desire, and it were a good desire, would nevertheless make a wrong use of it; but he that delights in God, whatever he gets, knows how to use it well. "Still," says one, "what are those desires which we are sure to receive?" Now, we must single out those who delight themselves in God, and I believe the range of their desires will be found in a very short compass. But if the Apostle Paul were here, who had nothing, who was often naked and poor and miserable, I am persuaded if he had his wish, he would say, "I have nothing to wish for, nothing upon earth, for I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content." But if I must have a wish, I know what I would wish for. I would wish to be perfect, to be free from every sin, from all self, from all temptation, from all love of the world, from all care for everything or anything that is contrary to God's Word. "Well," says another, "if I might have my desire I would have all these things, but I would desire to be useful always." Ah, to be useful! Delight thyself in the Lord, thou shalt have thy desire. Perhaps not exactly as you would like to word it. You may not be useful in the sphere you aspire to, but you shall be useful as God would have you useful in His own way and in His own measure.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. EVERY MAN DELIGHTS IN SOMETHING We possess affections, and they must have an object.

II. EVERY MAN DESIRES THAT WHICH HE DELIGHTS IN.

1. The object of our delight is a loadstone which draws us toward itself. Wealth, honour, virtue.

2. In proportion to the intensity of our delight is the strength of our desire.

3. Our desire will control our thoughts, and aims, and actions. What the spring is to the watch, and the sun is to the solar system, desire is to the life. How important is it, then, that the objects we desire should be worthy of our aspirations.

III. THE GODLY MAN DELIGHTS IN GOD, AND CONSEQUENTLY DOES NOT DESIRE ANYTHING WHICH IS OPPOSED TO HIS WILL.

1. But his desire is not only negative; it is strongly and intelligently positive.(1) He delights in God's Word, and studies it, that He may know God's will.(2) He delights in God's purposes, and is anxious to further them.(3) He delights in God's character, and lives to reflect it.

2. Such a desire is more than a desire. It is a determination — a determination to be as God is, and to do His will as it is done in heaven.

IV. GOD IS ALWAYS READY TO GIVE WHAT HE APPROVES, AND WHAT WE DELIGHT IN AND DESIRE. He cannot refuse anything which He has promised; He must and will give Himself to those who delight in and desire Him.

V. HE WHO MAKES GOD HIS CHIEF GOOD, DESIRES GOD, AND RECEIVES GOD, HAS IN HIMSELF THE SECRET OF REAL SATISFACTION. What more can we have than God? Possessing Him, we possess all things.

(J. Baker Norton.)

I. THE SACRED DUTY. "Delight thyself in the Lord." The sacred satisfaction here recommended is to be realized —

1. By contemplating God in the glories of His nature, both in their unmingled and combined beauties.

2. By studying the discoveries of His infinite mind: the exhibition of these in redemption is the study and highest joy of heaven, and should be the source of rapturous joy to the Christian on earth.

3. By meditating the manifestations of His mercy, and tracing up to this source all our welfare, temporal and eternal.

4. By reflecting on His moral empire over the souls of men, and especially the hearts of His people.

5. By confiding in the wisdom and goodness of His providence.

6. By rejoicing in God's special relation to His people — "This God is our God for ever and ever, and will be our guide even unto death."

II. THE GRACIOUS PROMISE. The desires of the righteous will always correspond with the objects of their delight. The Christian will desire —

1. To comprehend more of the eternal mind: thus David, when he said, "None upon earth I desire beside Thee."

2. To feel a deeper impression of interest in His mercy, and this to realize is his highest felicity.

3. To enjoy more communion with God, and be filled with all His communicable fulness.

4. To live more to God in the world and be completely prepared for future glory.

(T. Yockney.)

It would be most calamitous for the world did God give to all men the desires of their hearts: that human wishes should thus become the measure of the Divine mercies. God's great laws could not be modified to our desires without deranging the harmony of the universe. Thus, for example, the ignorance of a traveller might desire the quenching of a volcano, or the arrest of some torrent of lava; but the fulfilment of such a desire might cause a terrible earthquake in some crowded city, and substitute the misery of thousands for the inconvenience and alarm of one individual. The stormy wind hushed here, might breed and then dispense the dire breath of pestilence on every side; and even the war and bloodshed which the strivings of philanthropic desire would righteously avert, may in God's grace bring untold blessings on successive generations. But mere ignorance of the mysterious and inscrutable reasons which guide the Divine government would be the least of the evils at work, for human desires are so deplorably selfish in their operation, that the moment of their gratification would be that which should give the signal for the outbreak of fearful passion and widespread misery. If it were allowed to us to choose for ourselves what we would have, there are perhaps few moments when the most sanguine of us would dare to make the choice. He must be a bold man, or a fool, who would dare to take his lot into his own government, and be the master of his own destiny. But is there no paradox in this, that though "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord," "The prayer of the upright is His delight"? Is there no delusion in the command, "Ask, and ye shall receive"? or in the assurance of the apostle, "Ye have not, because ye ask not"? If we still hear these words with delight, it is because we have been forced back on the other mode of explaining this blessed fact; namely, that God hears the prayers which He has Himself prompted, that He hears certain prayers, and grants to certain men the desires of their hearts, because He has inspired those desires. He gives to certain long-ings of the heart the fullest satisfaction, because He has by Ills Spirit suggested those longings. The question now arises, How are we to know whether the desires of our hearts are divinely implanted, and are such as God will hear? The child may cry for a knife, for fire, for food, which it would be cruel to grant. It is better that the child should be unhappy, vexed, angry because its request is denied, than that the gift should be bestowed and instantly abused. When Paul was pierced by the "thorn in the flesh," he thrice besought the Lord to remove it from him; but God had a greater blessing in store, and gave him instead of such deliverance, the assurance, "My grace is sufficient for thee." Does the Holy Scripture, and will the Holy Spirit, help us to solve this great problem, or guide us to the class of desires which will foreshadow the Divine purpose? Have we any magnet that will point out to us the eternal pole of the will of God? The text gives us abundant help here; "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thy heart;" or, as it might be paraphrased, "Delight in the Lord, and then thou mayest trust thy desires; they will be the forerunner of blessings, the beginning of their own realization." "Blessed are riley that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Delight thyself in the Lord, and thou wilt desire strongly only what is in harmony with His will, and best for thyself. All thy wishes will be brought into subjection to His will, and thou wilt crave only those things which He is ready and anxious to bestow upon thee.

(H. Reynolds, D. D.)

I. THE DUTY REQUIRED.

1. What is necessary in order to the performance of it?(1) The first thing required is evidently an acquaintance with God. We must, to some extent, be acquainted with His character, His works, and His disposition and intentions towards ourselves.(2) We must be possessed of conformity to Him, and have some degree of likeness to Him ourselves; otherwise, we may know the truth about Him, but it will afford us no delight whatever. From Ephesians 4:22-24, and Colossians 3:9, 10, we learn that the likeness must consist in two things — holiness and knowledge. Holiness includes two things — justice and goodness. We cannot conceive of a holy being in the character of a malignant one, or suppose any, with a deep love for what is right, to be filled with malevolence. We must have a love for justice, then, before we can delight ourselves in God. And the only way by which we can come to have it, is by faith in Christ. Then, in conjunction with this, our character itself is changed; we have no longer the love of sin, but a true regard for everything in which there is any "virtue or any praise" — and therefore a supreme admiration of Him who is the "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty." If we would be able to delight ourselves in God, we must likewise be conformed to Him in His knowledge. God knows what is the chief end of man's life, what is right and what is wrong. The Christian, by believing God's revelation, knows this too, and is conformed to Jehovah in respect to knowledge.

2. The way in which we should show our delight in Him.(1) By meditating upon Him.(2) By taking an interest in creation and created things as His work, and by observing the course of events as His providence working out the great end of His own glory and blessing His creatures.(3) By reading His Word, attending on His ordinances, and observing His sacraments.

II. THE BLESSING PROMISED TO THOSE WHO PERFORM THE DUTY. This would be a dangerous promise to make to those who were to retain their corrupt heart; for were the wicked man to obtain "the desires of his heart," he would destroy at one stroke all whom he thought his enemies, annihilate hell, make heaven a place of sensual enjoyment, and dethrone the Lord of all Himself. Happily, however, all who "delight themselves in God" will have very different wishes from these.

1. Those who delight in Him will desire to have a greater acquaintance with Him; and they will not fail to be gratified.

2. If we delight in God we shall desire a greater love to Him, and shall obtain it.

3. If we delight in God we shall wish to have closer communion with Him, and shall obtain our desire while we remain on earth.

4. Those who delight themselves in God will desire and obtain a greater degree of likeness to God; and what a noble thing it must be to resemble in the slightest extent the Lord of all! Their likeness will perhaps be best seen in regard to "God manifest in the flesh." "Because he lives, we shall live also." We shall partake of His glory, resemble His character, and sit down upon His throne.

(W. Dickson.)

When we look out upon the world, what an amount of suffering do we see! Desires which never meet with accomplishment, hopes entertained which are blighted. I have seen little creepers in my garden throwing out tendrils in search of a support, and finding none; at last the life of the poor plants seems exhausted by their efforts, they give up straining, and lie numb on their bed of earth and die away. O what clusters of beautiful bells would they have put forth, what a burden of fruit would they have borne, had they grasped their support, and climbed and lifted themselves into the air! Now they produce but a few cankered blossoms, and ripen no seed. Is not this the picture of many a human life? Is there a human heart that has not suffered? Human hearts are human hearts, and they must have their struggles and sufferings. We ignore them too much, we have not sympathy enough for them. How varied, also, are the sorrows of heart and mind.

1. I suppose there are many now past the middle age to whom the fact that the chapter of life is closing, the romance of life is concluding, causes many an ache. The primroses and bluebells of youth have died away, and now the leaves are falling round them. What faculties there were in the young mind never developed, because circumstances were adverse, how its joyousness was blighted by incessant toil, how its energies were marred by some fatal mistake, or some irretrievable choice. Without resurrection of the dead, now heavens and a new earth, God and Christ, and eternity, we are of all men most miserable; there is nothing more hopeless than a declining life, nothing more calculated to fill with despair than the ebbing away of life's forces. But the joyousness of the new birth[ childhood's innocence and mirth restored t faculties of receiving pleasure from sight and sound refreshed and enlarged f To this we must stretch, for this pray, and in this yearning and in thus praying we shall find-comfort as our day declines.

2. Passionate love is felt by some hearts which will, which can never be known by the object of affection, or which, if known, is never returned. Is there a more painful wound? Yet is there no balm in Gilead? Has He, the healer of every human misery, no touch for the heart stricken with such an arrow? Surely yes. The bruised and bleeding soul will find its only solace in prayer, in prayer for the object of affection. It may be that there is a separation on earth, but there will be a reunion in heaven.

(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)

Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.
I. THE PSALMIST'S ADVICE.

1. Delight thyself in the favour, approbation, friendship of the Lord.

(1)Prize it.

(2)Seek it.

(3)Keep it.

2. Delight thyself in the service of the Lord.

(1)It is excellent in itself.

(2)It brings an excellent reward.

3. Delight thyself in the doctrine of the Lord.

II. THE PSALMIST'S ENCOURAGEMENT. He must be understood to speak of —

1. Innocent desires.

2. Spiritual desires.

3. Scriptural desires.

4. Earnest desires.

5. Expressed desires (Luke 11:9; Philippians 4:6).

(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

Boundless resources, it is manifest, could not be safely at the disposal of less than boundless wisdom. Only on one condition would it be a certain benefit to be assured of getting everything that we desired — the condition, namely, that we should always desire that which is best. Well, that and nothing else is what God undertakes to do for us if only we will let Him. The great aim and object of all His dealings with us — specially of the mission of His Son and the mission of the Holy Ghost — is twofold: first, to get us to desire what is best and then to give it to us. There is one desire that ought to be central in every human heart — the desire for God, the love of our Father in heaven. In a large family there may be great diversities of taste and disposition, without their interfering at all with the love which each of the children bears to the father and mother; and it certainly would be no excuse for an ungrateful son when charged with his unfilial spirit if he were to say, "Our family are not all alike; we are quite different from one another in our tastes. One is fond of reading, another of music, another of painting, and a fourth of athletic sports; and if there be some of my sisters who are fend of their father and mother, I have no objection. Every one to his taste, but I do not care anything about them." Would any one allow that to be a reasonable and proper way of getting rid of the filial obligation to love and honour our father and mother? Certainly not. Why, then, should it ever be thought a sufficient excuse for not caring for the Father of our spirits? God has created us with a great variety of lower desires, but there is one desire which ought to be in every human heart as its dominant ruling desire — the desire for God. If any one has not that desire as a controlling desire his whole nature is in chaos, and unless that is rectified his end must be destruction. But is it indeed true that when this condition is fulfilled the other always follows? Who is there, even among the best people, who gets everything that his heart is set on? But here we must, in all fairness, bear in mind that it is not said, either here or anywhere else, that every desire of the child of God shall be immediately gratified. On the contrary, it is very clearly intimated that faith and patience will be needed (vers. 5, 7). This, of course, modifies the promise, but it does not diminish its value. Rather it increases its value. We may be sure that if God keeps us waiting it is for some very good purpose. We may be sure that the blessing, when it comes, will be richer than if it had come at the same moment that we first desired it. Making all allowance for this, let us now look at the immense advantages which those enjoy who delight themselves in the Lord.

1. In the first place, their chief desire is one which can be always gratified. Now, is not that a great thing? But not only is the chief desire of those who delight themselves in the Lord one that can be always gratified; but all the desires that spring up around it are of the same nature. When a man delights himself in the Lord the merely selfish desires die out of his heart, and far better things take their place. Oh, do not think that the heart is left empty when the old desires go out. It is stocked with far better and nobler ones. Then the will becomes parallel to God's, and hence it does not need to be checked or thwarted as before.

2. Then, again, whatever is denied now is denied only for a time. We have already acknowledged that there are some of our desires that we must be content to wait for, but the time is certainly coming when they shall all be fulfilled. If only we give our hearts unreservedly to the Lord, we may rest assured that He will not allow any desire to remain in them which He does not intend to gratify to the full.

(J. Monro Gibson, D. D.)

"I have been young, and now am old," says the writer of this psalm. Its whole tone speaks the ripened wisdom and autumnal calm of age. The dim eyes have seen and survived so much, that it seems scarcely worth while to be agitated by what ceases so soon. Life with its changes has not soured but quieted him. The secret of tranquillity is seen —

I. IN FREEDOM FROM EAGER, EARTHLY DESIRES. "Delight thyself in the Lord," etc. The great reason why life is troubled lies not without but within. It is not our changing circumstances, but our unregulated desires, that rob us of peace. We are feverish, not because of the external temperature, but because of the state of our own blood. One desire unfulfilled is enough to banish tranquillity; but how can it survive a dozen dragging different ways? And, still further, they destroy tranquillity by putting us at the mercy of externals. Do not venture the rich freightage of your happiness in crazy vessels. If your life twines round any prop but God your strength, be sure that, some time or other, the stay to which its tendrils cling will be plucked up, and the poor vine will be lacerated, its clusters crushed, and its sap bleeding out of it. "Delight thyself in the Lord" — that is the cure for all the feverish unrest of desires. Rest must come from delighting in God, for it is no longer distracted by many desires, but has come under the one master-attraction. Such a soul is still as the great river above the falls, when all the side currents and dimpling eddies and backwaters are effaced by the attraction that draws every drop in the one direction. Let the current of your being set towards God, then your life will be filled and calmed by one master-passion which unites and stills the soul. And for another reason there will be peace: because in such a case desire and fruition go together. "He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Only do not vulgarize that great promise by making it out to mean that, if we will be good, He will give us the earthly blessings which we wish. Sometimes we shall get them, and sometimes not; but the real desire of the man who delights in God will be God Himself, and this desire is ever fulfilled. And again, desire after God brings peace by putting all other wishes in their right place. The counsel in the text does not enjoin the extinction, but the subordination of all other desires. The presence of the king awes the crowd into silence.

II. IN FREEDOM FROM THE PERPLEXITY OF CHOOSING OUR PATH. This is a word for all life, not only for its great occasions. Twice or thrice, perhaps, in a man's life his road leads him up to a high dividing point, a watershed, as it were, whence the rain runs from, the one side of the ridge to the Pacific, and from the other to the Atlantic. His whole future may depend on his bearing the least bit to the right hand or to the left, and all the slopes below, on either side, are wreathed in mist. Powerless as he is to see before him, he has yet to choose, and his choice determines the rest of his days. Certainly he needs some guidance then. But he needs it not less in the small decisions of every hour. Our histories are made up of a series of trifles, in each of which a separate act of will and choice is involved. Depend upon it that, if we have not learned the habit of committing the daily-recurring monotonous steps to Him, we shall find it very, very hard to seek His help when we come to a fork in the road. So this is a command for all life, not only for its turning-points. Thus, these two keys — joy in God, and trust in His guidance — open for us the double doors of the secret place of the Most High; where all the roar of the busy world dies upon the ear, and the still small voice of the present God deepens the silence, and hushes the heart. Be quiet, and you will hear Him speak-delight in Him, that you may be quiet.

III. The secret of tranquillity is found, thirdly, IN FREEDOM FROM THE ANXIETY OF AN UNKNOWN FUTURE. "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him." Such an addition to these previous counsels is needful, if all the sources of our disquiet are to be dealt with. The future is dim, after all our straining to see into its depths. Confidence that the future will but evolve God's purposes, and that all these are enlisted on our side, will give peace and power. Rut remember that the peaceful confidence of this final counsel is legitimate only when we have obeyed the other two.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

(with ver. 7): — What desires of the heart are there which we may be quite sure that God will grant if we rest on Him and wait patiently for Him? I think the first of the two verses which I took for my text enables us to see the right answer. "Delight thyself in the Lord, and He shall give thee thy heart's desire." Delighting in the Lord opens out an entirely new field for the desires of the heart. In plain and brief words, it is to desire to be and to do instead of desiring to have. Delighting in the Lord does not mean the ceasing to be human, ceasing to have wants and natural lawful desires for success and happiness, but it means that all these native and lawful wishes become subordinate to a higher desire still, so that for its sake we are willing to forego all the rest. We may be hungry and thirsty, yet our meat and drink will be to do the will of Him who sent us here and to finish His work. We may be poor and needy, but we shall esteem the words of God and obedience to His law better than thousands of gold and silver. We may be hungering for a love which is out of our reach, or sorrowing for the loss of a love that can never be ours and yet find in God a love passing the love of women. We may be toiling all day, and our very sleep may be broken by festering care and by even a holy anxiety to bring our work to completion, and yet shall find something better and higher than success in the knowledge that we are working for God and doing our best and earning His approval. If the greatest and supreme of all our delights is in being and in doing what God wills, nothing can frustrate His purpose to give us our heart's desire. Extinction of desire is impossible. To gain happiness by its means, one must simply change its direction, fixing it upon that which cannot be denied, and which when obtained cannot perish or fade. Thus it is we learn, in theory at least, that to secure happiness we must seek it in those paths only which our Creator has ordained for us; in longing after Himself who is eternal, unchangeable and infinite in attractiveness and loveliness, in longing to be all that He desires us to be and to do all that He bids us do. At least, to make these wishes uppermost and foremost beyond all other wishes — not to extinguish those or to mortify them wantonly — but to prevent them effectually from ever reaching the highest place in our hearts or supplanting the supreme desire to love and to please our God.

(C. Voysey, B. A.)

Delight is a general idea, and all the various powers of the mind, and feelings of the heart minister to its production in different ways. Think of any of these, and say whether you do not find that it can meet nowhere with such rich and abundant supplies, as in the attributes of the Almighty.

1. One of those powers of the mind, in which man finds a very copious spring of delight, is the capacity of looking onward into futurity, and indulging in the fair visions of hope. Anticipation has been called the better-half of pleasure. If this be so, where could you look for such full and safe indulgence of this faculty, as in the contemplation of what the Giver of all good can and will do for those who look to Him as the source of their happiness (Psalm 36:8).

2. The memory is another faculty of the mind, which is highly conducive to its happiness. Many sources of delight are richer even in the recollection than in the immediate enjoyment; as the tints that appear in the western heaven are frequently most beautiful, some time after the bright orb, from which they are reflected, has itself vanished from our sight. Now, if we were more addicted to marking the ways of God, and His gracious dealings towards us, we should find this to be eminently the case in respect to them. It is in the calmer moments of recollection, in the retrospect which the soul, at all habituated to self-examination, takes of the mercies for which it is indebted to God, that. the instances of His loving-kindness and fatherly care break out upon it in their full proportions, and almost melt and overcome it with sensations of gratitude and delight. In this respect, how little will any earthly joy bear a comparison with delight in the Lord!

3. Another distinguished source of human delight is the growth of the intellectual powers, the acquisition of knowledge. And what knowledge can bear a comparison with the knowledge of the Lord? If it be a delightful sensation to perceive that our mind has made some progress; that it knows that of which it was formerly ignorant; that it can form clear and distinct ideas about that which seemed to it formerly clouded and obscure; how must that delight be increased when the object of our newly acquired information is the highest on which the mind of man can dwell; and when the things which we learn are things which accompany salvation!

4. But the excitement of the affections is a much commoner source of delight than the acquisition of knowledge, and here we may boldly challenge any one to find an object that has so many and so powerful claims on the heart of man, as belong to God. If the most astonishing mercy, the most inestimable benefits, the tenderest care, the largest and most liberal bounty, are calculated to excite feelings of complacency and attachment in the human breast, then may we well delight in God, as an object of affection, and feel our hearts expand with indescribable pleasure, and with the most solid satisfaction, in meditating on His character and attributes.

(J. Marriott, M. A.)

Without cheerful prayer we cannot have gracious answers. Note —

I. WHAT THIS DELIGHT IS. Delight properly is an affection of the mind that springs from the possession of a good which hath been ardently desired. Delight properly is a silencing of desire, and the banquet of the soul on the presence of its desired object. But there is a delight of a lower stamp.

1. In desires. There is a delight in desire as well as in fruition.

2. In hopes (Romans 5:2).

3. In contemplation. The consideration and serious thoughts of heaven do affect a gracious heart and fill it with pleasure, though itself be as if in a wilderness. As the union with the object is nearer, so the delight is stronger. Now, this delight the soul hath in duty is not a delight of fruition, but of desire, hope or contemplation. Now, delight is active or passive, as Isaiah 64:5. When we delightfully clasp the throne of grace God doth often cast His arms about our necks.

II. WHENCE THIS DELIGHT SPRINGS.

1. From the Spirit of God. Not a spark of fire upon our own hearth that is able to kindle this spiritual delight. It is the Holy Ghost (Psalm 138:8; Isaiah 56:7).

2. From grace. Dead men cannot perform a duty (Psalm 115:17).

3. From a good conscience (Proverbs 15:15). He that hath a good conscience must needs be cheerful in his religious and civil duties. Guilt will come trembling, and with a sad countenance, into the presence of God's majesty. A guilty child cannot with cheerfulness come into a displeased father's presence.

4. From a holy familiarity with God. Hence there is delight in one another's company.

5. From hopes of speeding (Romans 12:12).

6. From a sense of former mercies and acceptation. These quicken our desire for and expectation of more (Psalm 116:2).

III. THE REASONS OF THIS DOCTRINE, that without cheerful seeking, we cannot have a gracious answer. For —

1. A fiat and dumpish temper is not for His honour; and prayers in such temper do not reach Him, and they speak an unwillingness that God should hear us.

2. And without delight we are not fit to receive a mercy. Delight in a mercy wanted makes room for desire, and large desires make room for mercy. If no delight in begging, there will be no delight in enjoying; if there be no cheerfulness to quicken our prayers when we need a blessing, there will be little joy to quicken our praise when we receive a blessing. Had not Zaccheus had a great joy at the news of Christ's coming by his door, he had not so readily entertained and welcomed Him.

IV. USES.

1. Of information.(1) There is a great pleasure in the ways of God, if rightly understood. Prayer, which is a duty wherein we express our wants, is delightful. There is more sweetness in a Christian's asking, than in a wicked man's enjoying, blessings.(2) What delight will there be in heaven! If there be such sweetness in desire, what will there he in full fruition! There is joy in seeking; what is there then in finding! Duty hath its sweets, its thousands, but glory its ten thousands.(3) The miserable condition of those that can delight in anything but prayer. It is an aggravation of our enmity to God, when we can sin cheerfully and pray dully, when duty is more loathsome than iniquity.

2. Of examination. We pray, but how are our hearts?

(S. Charnock.)

I. IN WHAT WAY ARE WE TO COMPLY WITH THE CONDITION Delight thyself in the Lord"? What does this mean? The idea of delighting in God is just one of those great, inclusive religious ideas, that by their very vastness almost disable remark. When a man has attained to this, that he supremely delights in the blessed God, his religious life is well nigh perfect. To delight in God is the possibility only of a spiritual, a religious being. The distinction is clearly made between God and His gifts. We might delight in any of the things that God has given, in any of the material and intellectual blessings of life, the manifold provisions and gifts of God's providence, but this would not be to delight in God Himself. We have to do here with the highest religious elements of our nature, and with the highest exercise of them. The emotion expressed is both a high and a rare one. Even among pious men there is, I fear, very little genuine joy in God. They feel there ought to be, and they pray for it; but their actual feeling is rarely that of passion; it is calm, measured, almost cold. Sometimes they can say, "As the hart panteth after," etc.; but not often. And there may be much satisfaction in prayer, and yet no delight. For prayer may be a relief, a vent to feeling long suppressed; or it may be a cry of urgent necessity, or disguised self-flattery, like that of the Pharisee. But all this is not delight.

II. TRUE DELIGHT IN GOD WILL HAVE RESPECT, FIRST, TO WHAT GOD IS, AS A SPIRITUAL BEING OF SUPREME EXCELLENCY AND GLORY — the Author of all other beings and of all things. We are capable of so contemplating God. The Bible is full of this feeling: how eloquent, how rapturous are its recognitions of God. How David delighted in this. And so was it in the early Church. See the Te Deum, etc.

1. Now, 1 do not ask whether you delight in other things rather than in God; in your business or books, in science or social festivities, in amusements or sensual gratifications. In such a ease, your delight is dearly irreligious. But I ask you to distinguish between your religious delights — between the religious feelings that have your own soul for their object, and the religious feelings that have God for their object. The one is simply religious selfishness; the other is religious worship and sacrifice. I need not add, that our supreme delight in God is when God is manifested in Jesus Christ; when, in the Incarnate, redeeming Son, He expresses all the wondrous riches of His great wisdom and love — when we see the Eternal light in the Eternal love. No man can delight in God until he attains the perfect love which casteth out fear.

2. A religious soul will also delight in what God does; in all the movements of His providence; in all the arrangements of His grace. Our religious life is largely affected by the way in which we look at God's doings — by the feelings which we cherish towards them. It is easy, of course, to delight in God's doings when His providential ways are pleasant to us and His gifts affluent. And this is really the chief experience of most lives. Privation and sorrow are more exceptional than we think. A great sorrow fills a large space in our thoughts, but a small one in our lives. We think more of the one black cloud than of the blue sky across which it is driven. We cannot, of course, delight in pain, but we may delight in God who inflicts pain, delight in Him although He inflicts pain; have such strong assurance of His wise love, that we cling to Him in the stedfast love of our troubled hearts.

III. Is WHAT SENSE WILL THE LORD GIVE THE MAN WHO DELIGHTS IN HIM THE DESIRES OF HIS HEART? It is a daring phrase, for even good men may desire hurtful and wrong things. Our desires are no safe law no measure of blessing. But if God cannot change at our caprice, may not our caprice itself change? And is not this the way in which this daring assurance is really fulfilled? Delight thyself in the Lord, and then thy desires will be right: thou wilt be happy in the perfect gratification of thy instructed and pious desires. "The prayer of the upright is His delight." Our first and out great solicitude, then, should be about the delights of our souls. What are our supreme delights? God's gifts Of Himself? Our wealth, pleasures, borne, or our spiritual privileges? Our delights will always create and shape our desires. If we desire God and holiness, and the salvation of men, no desires of ours for these things can be so deep as God desires. A nurture, a culture, an urgency of the spiritual soul is possible to us. Delight in God will grow by that which it feeds upon — its satisfaction enlarges its desires. And when we do really delight in God, holiness will be easy and natural as common life; duty will be turned into a joy, and self-sacrifice will rejoice in love.

(H. Allon, D. D.)

In the course of conversation with a brother minister, I was told that a layman had put to him this question: "What is the meaning of the seemingly unqualified promise, 'He shall give thee the desires of thine heart'? Surely it is somewhat difficult to believe that promise as it stands." Undoubtedly, as our text stands, or I should say, on the face of it, it is obviously untrue. Most people would be prepared to say that they do not get, or very seldom get, the desires of their heart. The woman who has to battle with odds against a world with which she is very little fitted to deal. If you were to ask her whether she has had, or is likely to have, her heart's desire, you would receive a flat denial. Her heart's desire is that these dear ones, against whom she wilt not hear a word spoken, should be placed above the reach of the world's criticism, or censure, or persecution. What do you think, you older men, as you look back upon life, concerning God's dealings with you? When you were young you had great hopes for your own future; unlike a woman's, they were very largely desires of personal ambition. But very few of us ever come to the experience after which we strive. The successful man — successful as the world would call it, or, to be nearer the mark, as he himself would acknowledge it — is in a very small minority in this place. If you look back, you can see how you have taken the wrong turn; where you uttered a word which did you disservice — you had better have been silent — or where you were silent when it had been better you had seized the chance and risen. Inferior men have passed you on the road, less scrupulous men have climbed to positions of honour and respect which you do not occupy to-day. Then there are other experiences which a preacher must touch with a still more delicate hand. Here is a man of whom his neighbours say that he has never looked up since his boy died. All his heart's desire was centred upon that lad. These are such common, everyday experiences that one hardly needs to indicate them in your presence. How do they look alongside of the psalmist's prayer: "He shall give thee the desires of thine heart"? I will tell you how to approach the text now. Remember, he who penned this statement was a living, breathing man. For he knew life then as really and truly in its heights and depths as you and I know it now. So when he wrote down: "He shall give thee thine heart's desire," he must have meant something in all seriousness, and I think the context will help us to understand what it is. "Fret not thyself because of evil-doers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity." He is writing for himself; he had been fretting against the evil-doers, and he had been declaiming against the workers of iniquity. Listen further. "Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil." Understand, this man is on the very borderland of a temptation: he is going to repay evil with evil; he is going to fight the world with the world's weapons, and his utterance is one of warning directed to his own conscience. But at his best he rises to a new height: "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him .... Delight thyself in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." This man evidently has not been receiving the desires of his heart, he has been seeing the less worthy prosper, and it is out of his own experience that he writes. He has seen something; it is that the pure in heart, the noble in character, are on the side of God, and the best that they have is drawn from the heart of God: therefore God will give them their deepest desire if only because it is also His own. For now we bare struck the very point. The heart's desire is the deepest desire, and it may be, and often is, that a man's heart's desire is hidden from himself, and known only to God. Here is a man who wants something intensely. What do you want it for? It may be a good desire, as well as a bad one. Most people assume at once that when a man is in quest of money he wants it that he may do some mischief with it or indulge himself by its possession. This man may want money that he may liberate his own soul from its present prison-house, that he may enlarge his borders, be good, do good, get good. Or here again is a man who has a holy purpose, in which himself is hardly concerned; it is for another's good he wants the power that money can give. So now, if you pray for £500 a year — I will put the request as simply as I can state it — if you are praying in any such terms, whether God answers the prayer or whether He denies it, your heart's desire is not for the thing called money, it is for the moral and spiritual result the money can bring. Here is a man asking for fame. He may be utterly wrong in the praying of this prayer, most likely he is: "Ambition, that last infirmity of noble minds." Well, what does he want? He thinks he wants fame. If he gets it, he will say, like Merlin:Sweet were the days when I was all unknown, But when my name was lifted up, the storm Brake on the mountain and I cared not for it. Right well know I that fame is half disfame, Yet needs must work my work.Ofttimes the thing you think you want is not the thing you really want. The man wants what he supposes fame brings, but which fame never brings. There is a satisfaction that goodness and goodness only can give, and it is the satisfaction that comes from achieving his best of which he is really in search. You may not get either the money or the fame, but you shall get the thing you suppose they will bring. Yet a man may put his prayer into such a form that he supposes himself to be seeking the good when he is seeking nothing of the kind. The heart's desire is that oftentimes which lies beneath desire; it is the best of which a man is capable. His prayer is a symbol, the true reality is the heart's desire. There are not a few here who have not understood up to the present that the heart's desire may best be gratified when the surface petition is denied. God turned you back, it may be, long, long ago, when you bought you saw your road plain before you, because He understood better than you did your heart's desire. God shut a door in your face; if you had gone through that door, I do not say it would have been to material ruin, but, you would not have been the man you are to-day, the man of serious purpose and high character. God denied you your brief worldly success, and you are a bigger and better man because it never came; and God gave you what you never anticipated when you rebelled against the way that He chose for you long ago, but you may yet live to praise Him with a full heart fervently because He understood so clearly your heart's desire. Now, one thing more, my brethren, hard as it may seem to say it. Even now, when you have come to the valley of humiliation and to the shadow of death, God is giving you a great opportunity. He believes in your nature too much to lead you always through green pastures and by still waters, so he has given you the chance of being a hero, and some day you will say, "Right was the pathway leading to this." How well God understands the heart's desire! Now one or two observations upon the principle. The first is this. Every great capacity assumes an equally great satisfaction. Sir J. Burden-Sanderson, of Oxford, once said in a lecture before a scientific assembly, that if in any nature you found a great capacity, a vessel to be filled, there was that wherewith to satisfy, that wherewith it should be filled. It is so undoubtedly in spiritual things, lie shall satisfy that which He Himself has fashioned. Many of you, however, have ceased to affirm consistently and by your life that which you have been trying to gain impulsively or spasmodically. The other day I was watching at the seaside a boy fishing by the side of a grown man. The man knew what he was about, the boy was only beginning. The little fellow did not catch anything, he did not allow the fly to stay down long enough; every few minutes up came the hook, that he might see Whether anything had taken place in the deep waters. His eider companion sat stolidly there, and fished perseveringly on. He gained something, where the little fellow did not. So many of our lives are so inconsistently adjusted that we deny with our act what we affirm with our lips. We pray to God to do what we do not live ourselves; we seem as if we are always pulling up and beginning again. Yet a prayer, to be consistent and fruitful, should be the utterance of a man's whole life and character; we stand at our highest, or ought to stand at our highest, when we pray. A great capacity presumes a great satisfaction — give it a chance in your own life. For it is not merely what a man's lips utter, but what his whole life affirms, that is his real prayer. Secondly, there are some seemingly impossible things which I would bring within the range of answered prayer. There are not a few here, it may be, who are accustomed to pray half-despairingly for the sake of those whom God has given them to love and care for. How impossible it seems that you should prevail over an evil will, if it be the will of another, in your intercessory appeals to the heart of God. And then is not God Himself helpless before the citadel of the human will? I do not care to go into metaphysics on that subject, but I would have you remember that you are encouraged in the highest of all prayers, Christ-like intercession, to act as though there were no barrier before the will of God. Where does your personality leave off and another's personality begin? It is in a sense true this morning that I, who address you am you, and you who sit answering silently back are me; we are one for the time being, or there would be no communion. Believe then that, as we are linked together by invisible bonds, love could draw some tighter still. I would never believe, I would never care to assert at any rate, that there is any point where the will of man can exalt itself determinedly and lastingly against the will of God. May those who feel that they have to carry a heart's desire not for their own sake but for another as the great Heart Eternal, take courage from that thought; pray as though there were no barrier which God cannot overcome, and through which the Christ, the Redeemer, cannot pass. Lastly, there is only one thing more I would leave with you. Though the psalmist is speaking here of the righteous man, the principle to an extent holds good of the prayer of an evil man. All evil desire has its appropriate recoil. No man whose life is a curse ever manages to blight the career of those against whom he has sinned as he blights himself. God shall give you some of your hideous desires, and they will come back to you in bane where they might have come back to you in blessing. If you are in quest of something that is unhealthy and degraded, be sure it will recoil upon you — that very desire. God may gratify it, and by gratifying it punish you for entertaining it. A man who has given himself to evil becomes the victim of evil. But if, on the other hand, every one of us here has clarified his desire. He who knoweth our heart's desire will not fail us in the day of its accomplishment. "You shall see of the travail of your soul and shall be satisfied. For eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him, but God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."

(R. J. Campbell, M. A.)

Homiletic Review.
Compare this text with one from the Buddhist scriptures, which some writers are endeavouring to exalt to an equal rank with the Bible: "He who fosters no desires for this world or for the next, has no inclination; him I call a Brahmin" (the perfect man). The Buddhist heaven is Nirvana, a condition in which the soul has lost all interest and all sensitiveness, a dead life, a spiritual petrifaction, in which, as the stone is not hurt by the avalanche that crushes it, the soul can endure the crash of the universe. How different this to the Bible declaration, "We shall be satisfied with the fatness of Thy house!" Or, make the contrast between our text and the best practical philosophy of the ancients — that of the Stoics: Care for nobody, and you will not be bereaved; want nothing, and you cannot be robbed; have re hopes, and you will have no regrets. The Bible puts a light in the dead eye, and a fire in the cold heart. Descartes taught that wisdom was in limiting one's desires to the actual conditions of life. The Bible promises to expand the good to meet the utmost longings of the mind. Man's best expedient is to collapse the great voids in the heart as soon as possible; Christ's proposal is to enlarge and then fill them. Take this as an evidence that He who gave us the Bible is He who gave us being.

(Homiletic Review.)

It would be good to know how many of us assembled here for Christian worship this morning really believe that saying of the psalmist to be true; and how many of us shrug invisible shoulders, and regard it merely as a pious sentiment entirely unsupported by the facts of life I In every considerable assembly of men and women there must be many disappointed hearts. For the most part they are silent as well as disappointed. "The heart knoweth its own bitterness," and when it is kindly it has no temptation to spill its gall into the sweetness of another life. Well, you are not going to break out into any violent form of revolt. You are not built like that. You have no intention of labelling yourself an agnostic. You don't mean to sneer at religion, or openly renounce belief in Christ! It is absurd to talk about the unbelief of the outside world, while there is such a lack of vital faith in the hearts of so many spiritually-minded Christian worshippers! The calm, confident Master of our life bids us — by all His life and teaching He bids us — "Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and follow after faithfulness; delight ourselves also in the Lord"; and all this with unshakable assurance that He shall give us the desires of our hearts. The true Christian experience makes all the coldness of stoicism an impossibility. Standing on the vantage-ground of love in the present, the believer in Christ is able, like his Master, to survey the past with hope and the future with faith. And now, seeing that we are all sharers more or less in the experience of failure and disappointment, and are thus all liable to moods of cynicism and lack of faith, let me ask you to consider about the Christian attitude towards the past — the present — and the future.

I. THE CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE PAST. It is the attitude of hope. Hope for the past? Yes. It is an attitude taken up in full response to the psalmist's words, "Trust in the Lord," but with reasons and impulses behind it greater than the psalmist ever knew[ All cynicism is rooted in past failure and disappointment, is it not? The young, with life and the world all before them where to choose, are never cynical. At least, never at first hand: they learn a second-hand language of cynicism sometimes I No; it is the Adam-experience in every man which begets a cynical disbelief in the godly meaning of life; the experience of the hatefulness of a tiling that has happened — a deed that is done, and its inevitable consequences. It was Milton, you remember, who put into Adam's mouth the apparently hopeless words,

"The past who can recall, or done undo?

Not God omnipotent nor fate."

And it is surely well that we should early recognize the awful responsibility that attaches to every action of our complex human life. Yet, according to the old Genesis story, the glorious promise of redemption was mingled with the pronouncement of man's punishment! Sin, failure, disappointment bulk so largely in the past that it is not surprising they should cast their shadows over the. present. Friends, it is these shadows of the past which must be subdued and driven away by hope. Maeterlinck has written a wonderful essay on "The Past," which contains the very essence of the hope of Christian Gospel. Here is a paragraph of it, "'The past is past,' we say, and it is false; the past is always present .... 'Nothing can wipe out the past,' we say, and it is false; the least effort of will sends present and future travelling over the past to efface whatever we bid them efface .... 'My past is wicked, it is sorrowful, empty,' we say again, 'as I look back I can see no moment of beauty, of happiness or love; I see nothing but wretched ruins ....' And that is false; for you see precisely what you yourself place there at the moment your eyes rest upon it. Our past depends entirely upon our present, and is constantly changing with it .... Our chief concern with the past, that which truly remains and forms part of us, is not what we have done, or the adventures we have met with, but the moral reactions bygone events are producing within us at this very moment, the inward being they have helped to form." Now, the events of life constantly happening around us assure us that this is so. Look at those definite acts of sin committed in moments of sudden impulse by young people who seem to have been afflicted by an almost incurable lightness and frivolity of mind and heart. Well, they are done, beyond recall — they are of the past. Are they, therefore, changeless? Has the sinner who has committed them no control over them? True, they must go on working out some consequences which he cannot control; but he can still make of them for himself what he will. By his present attitude towards them they become either stones to roll upon the tomb of his own moral and spiritual life, or stones — like Jacob's pillow — whereon, lying down in repentance, he shall have visions of the angels of God ascending and descending upon the still possible upward-sloping stairway whose top reaches to heaven. Many a moral defeat has been the first awakening of a soul to the possibility of a moral victory. And as it is with past sin, so it may be with past sorrow, past failure, past disappointment. The Christian attitude of hope has power to transfigure and change them all! There is no sorrow which cannot be turned into joy. "Trust in the Lord." That grave you dug in the past was not so much a place of burial for earth's joy, as a sowing-ground for heaven's spiritual fellowship. You are better, if you have not allowed yourself to become worse, for being compelled to face the grimmest reality of earth's experience; and your dear one is worthier to be loved, having passed that holy way! That good thing you tried but failed to do is not the symbol of your weakness and ineffectiveness. Never think it. It is the indelible mark of your divine doom to future achievement! Every statue, every picture, every poem in the world is some artist's failure! Do you imagine that the painter found the sunset his spirit had seen in the sky, when he spread the colours of his palette on the canvas? Never. We can afford to fail in learning the way to succeed! That disappointment of yours, I care not what it was, was no proof that the best good is a delusion. The mirage of the desert is not a proof that there is no water anywhere. "Trust in the Lord," and regard your past — whatever it may contain — in the attitude of hope.

II. THE CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE PRESENT. It is an attitude of love! "Do good," says the psalmist. "Dwell in the land .... Delight thyself also in the Lord." That is what you have to do now. The attitude of hope towards the past is strictly conditional upon the attitude of love towards the present. You and I are not likely to "trust in the Lord" about that strangely mysterious past of ours, if we feel no impulse to love Him to-day. "Dwell in the land!" Well, we must. Here we are. In some fashion or other we are occupying the land of our inheritance. "Dwell in the land," is not so much an invitation as a command. We cannot help ourselves. Well, then, "Do good Delight thyself in the Lord." There is one command there, not two. The man who does good because it is good, and because he loves the good when he sees it, does delight himself in the Lord, whether he knows it or not. There are not two opinions in this church this morning about doing good. When the good and the evil course of action lie clearly before us we all know we ought to do the good, and in our heart of hearts we all desire to do it, and feel convicted of sin if we refuse. And the harder it is to do the good in the face of temptation to do the evil, the deeper and more abiding is that mysterious glow of gladness with which our hearts are so strangely warmed. That glow of gladness just means that, at such times, whether we recognize it or not, in doing good we are delighting ourselves in the Lord. "Delight thyself also in the Lord!" Ah, well, that was easy a week ago, in the time of our sunshine, but not how! Then be very sure that you were not delighting yourself in the Lord a week ago, if you cannot do it now. You may have been delighting yourself in something pleasant He had given you. That is something very different from delighting yourself in Him.

III. THE CHRISTIAN ATTITUDE TOWARDS THE FUTURE. It is the attitude of faith. "Follow after faithfulness And He shall give thee the desire of thine heart." "Feed upon faithfulness," the margin says, that is, nourish your inner life with this spiritual food — "Faithfulness." What is exactly this attitude of faith towards the future? Let me answer you by quoting a beautiful passage I read the other day. A party of travellers was driving through lovely scenery within sight of the blue waters of the Mediterranean; one of them writes: "A short distance away, as we looked under the olive trees, across the ruddy clods and accidental wild flowers, were the innumerable dimples of the amiable sea .... 'Is it always like this?' asked Lamia. 'Far from it,' I was going to reply; but the Poet anticipated me. 'Yes, always, Lamia; always, always, always!' "No one deserves to travel who anticipates anything less agreeable than he is enjoying at the moment. Ah, then, this faith is self-delusion, after all, some of you will say. No, faith is the belief that the good and the beautiful must find issue in the best and the perfect! It is the assurance of the old poet Walt Whitman, who, looking back over a long life's work, set down as his last words,

The desires of our hearts are better than we know; and it is only as we "trust in God and follow after faithfulness" that God can interpret to us the meaning of our own prayers, our own desires, and give us those better things which are hidden in all His promises. "And He shall give thee" — not merely the petitions of thy lips, for that is a little thing and often not good for us, but He shall give thee a far deeper and purer gift — even "the petitions of thy heart."

(A. E. Hooper.)

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