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GOD'S MINDFULNESS OF MAN.
He will ever be mindful of his Covenant. Psal. cxi. 5.
The Lord hath been mindful of us; he will bless us.
Psal. cxv. 12.
S E R M O N IV.
Psalm viii. 4.
What is man, that thou art mindful of him ? and
the son of man, that thou visitest him?
David is supposed by some, to have written this Psalm, long before his elevation to the Jewish throne; while he was yet a youth, busied in tending his father's cattle on the plains of Bethlehem. And we shall presently see, that there are passages in the Psalm itself, which seem to justify this conjecture. It is not only an hymn of praise, addressed to the Messiah ; but likewise, one of the finest pastorals, any where extant.
David appears to have had, almost from his very childhood, the sublimest talents for poetry, and an exquisite taste in music. His harp, therefore, was probably his frequent companion in the fields, when he exercised the occupation of a shepherd. And having experienced the inestimable blessing of early conversion, he did not debase his poetic genius, nor prostitute his skill in the harmony of sounds, by devoting either of them to the contemptible purposes of versified nonsense and unmanly dissipation; but his heart being as rightly tuned as his harp, his happiness and highest recreation were, to sing the praises of the God he loved, and to anticipate something of that sublime employ on earth, which will, in heaven, be for ever the business and the bliss of those who are redeemed from among men.
It is worthy of remark, that this was the time (namely, while David was herdsman to his father Jesse, and filled up the intervals of his employment with holy meditation, prayer, and thanksgiving),
when God himself vouchsafed to mention him under the most glorious appellation that, perhaps, was ever conferred on a created being; a man after my own heart *. A title which does not appear to have been given him so much as once, after his advancement to royalty. For though neither height of magnificence, nor depth of abasement, can separate a saint from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus t; yet, even after a work of grace has passed upon the heart in regeneration, such is the power of surviving depravity, that not one perhaps in twenty, of God's people, can, humanly speaking, be trusted with prosperity. Let every afflicted believer, therefore, rejoice in that he is made low. God deals out our comforts and our sorrows, with exact, unerring hand, in number, weight, and measure. Hence, we have not, either of joy or adversity, a grain too little or too much. If less tribulation would suffice, less would be given. We are bad enough, with all our troubles: what then should we be, if we were exercised with none ?
* 1 Sam. xiii. 14. with Acts xiii. 22.- This eelebrated periphrasis has occasioned no little disquisition. The learned Grotius, with his usual dryness, thinks it to be synonymous with electum de populo, or chosen out from among the people : i. e. God calls David a man after his own heart, because he had made choice of him to be king of Israel. -Vatablus renders the phrase by qui mihi cordi est, a man whose interest God had at heart.- -But, surely, the lowest sense which can be justly assigned to this exalted title, is, that David should (as the apostle adds, in the above passage) fulfil TayTO. Ta beannard, all the wills, purposes and designs of God, respecting the government of Israel : viz. by supplanting the family of Saul; extending the Jewish territory ; maintaining the religion of the true God; and laying the foundation of a more splendid worship, by preparing materials for the erection of the temple.For my own part, however, I think that the words include something more and higher: namely, that David was an object of God's eminent and peculiar favour; destined to be a signal instance of the sovereignty of Divine Providence, and, in much of his conduct, a shining pattern of grace. A man, in short, whom the Deity loved, and was de termined to honour.
+ Rom. viii. 39.