ON THE CONSIDERATION OF THE LAW OF GOD
Consider first, that in order to our salvation, we must also have a right knowledge of the holy law and commandments of God: we must know all the precepts and maxims of the gospel of Jesus Christ; and we must know them in such a manner as to be practically convinced of the beauty of this divine law, of the equity of these commandments, of the excellence of these heavenly precepts, of the truth of these gospel maxims; that so we may heartily embrace them, love them, and keep them. Now this infers a necessity of a serious and frequent meditation on God’s holy law, without which we shall not even know, as we ought, the duties and obligations of a Christian life; much less shall we have a due esteem and love for these divine statutes and ordinances which our great King has made to be for us the way to true life. O! ‘blessed is the man, whose will is in the law of the Lord, and who shall meditate on it day and night. And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters, which shall bring forth its fruit in due season: and his leaf shall not fall off: and all whatsoever he shall do shall prosper.’ Psa. i. O happy meditation, which is the source of so much good! Unhappy they who seldom think of this divine law, and therefore neither love it, nor keep it.
Consider 2ndly, that even under the Old Testament, God requires of his people, that they should continually meditate on his divine commandments, Deut. vi. 6, &c. ‘These words which I command thee this day shall be in thy heart: and thou shalt tell them to thy children, and thou shalt meditate upon them, sitting in thy house, and walking upon thy journey, lying down to bed, and rising up. and thou shalt bind them as a sign on thy hand, and they shall be, and shall move, between thy eyes. And thou shalt write them in the entry, and on the doors of thy house.’ Now if under the old law (when so great perfection was not expected of the faithful as now) God was pleased to require this close application of the soul to the meditating on his divine precepts, how much more does he now expect it from us, under the new covenant of grace and love, in which he delivers his commandments to us, not graven on tables of stone, but on the tables of the heart; not to be laid up in the ark, or deposited in an earthly sanctuary, but to be laid up within us in the true sanctuary of God in our souls? Christians, this is our glory and our wisdom; this is our happiness above all other people, to have the divine law written in our hearts; to keep it there by love and affection, and to read it there by attention and meditation, lest otherwise we lose so great a treasure.
Consider 3rdly, what were the sentiments of the Royal Prophet with regard to the law and commandments of God, and the duty of meditating continually upon them. he has abundantly declared them in the 118th Psalm, (alias 119th,) where there is scarce one verse in which the beauty and excellence of the divine law, the love and observance of it, the great happiness of keeping it, and the many advantages of meditating upon it, are not strongly inculcated. For which reason the Church, in her canonical hours of prayer, appoints this Psalm for the daily devotion of her children, in order to inspire into them the like sentiments, with relation to the holy law and commandments of God, and to oblige them daily to meditate upon these divine ordinances. Christians, can any thing else be of so great importance to you as to study well the true way to a happy eternity? Can any other science deserve your attention in comparison with this? Is not your all here at stake? And what other way is there to secure to your souls a happy eternity, but the knowing and keeping the law and commandments of God? ‘Tis this then calls for your study and attention by daily considerations and meditations.
Conclude to turn henceforward your thoughts from vain and curious searches into things little or nothing to your purpose, to the daily considering on what God requires of you by his holy law; what your duty is to him; and what his will is in your regard. The studying this is our great business. O how little will all other sciences avail, if this be neglected.