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WORTHLESS MAN MUCH REGARDED BY THE MIGHTY
. . . Gob. time 5 .
A SER MON,... •Ss . PREACHED UPON A THANKSGIVING DAY, AFTER THE SACRA
MENT, IN DUNFERMLINE, MONDAY, JULY 1737.
Psal. cxliv. 3.- Lord, what is man, that thou takest know
ledge of bim? or the fon of man, that thou makest account of him. O' .
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TJERE is a question put, that is both answerable and una 11 answerable ; it is both easy and difficult: it is easy to tell what man is, for the end of his perfection 'is soon disa covered ; but why God takes knowledge of man, or makes so great account of him, as to heap his favours on him, is a thing that God only can best account for. David, in the two preceding verses, declares, first, what a reconciled God in Christ was to him, and makes it the ground of his praise and triumph:, 1. Says he, My God is my strength; he is the strength of Israel, the glory of their strength. However feeble and weak the saints be in themselves, yet “ their Redeemer is strong, the Lords of hosts is his name. O blessed is the man whose strength is the Lord Jehovah, with whom there is everlasting strength ; for he shall go from strength to strength, till he appear before the Lord in Zion," &c. 2. His God was his goodness ; for “ there is none good but one, that is, God ;" who, as he is the chief good himself, so he is truly good to Israel ; good to them that wait upon him, and to the soul that seeks him. And whatever goodness is in any of the sons of men, or saints of God, he is the glorious source and fountain of it; “ for every good and perfect gift cometh down from above," from an infinitely good God, &c. 3. His God was his fortiels and his high tower. David saw himself in God, as a man is in his castle, that can look down on all liis eneo ies with contempt: and hence we find him fre. que tly expressing himself with the greatest confidence of safe. ty, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of mine enemies agair.ft me round about:" O! who can hurt them that have
ed again hanya body, against
the eternal God for their refuge, and his everlasting arms underneath them?” 4. His God was his deliverer. Many a danger David had been in, from Saul, from Absalom, and his other enemies; but his God had always interposed for his prefervation ; probably he may have his eyes upon the great deliverance that God wrought for him, and all his faints, by Jesus Christ, in finding a ransom for him, that he might not go down to the pit, &c. s. His God was his shield : as a field in the day of battle defends against darts and arrows that are shot against a man's body, and wards off the blows that are levelled against him ; so his God had protected him against the malicious arrows of reproach and malice, Sibiu 6. His God had made him a skilful and successful soldier: his hands had been used to the shepherd's crook, and the mu, fician's harp; but God had taught “ his hands to war, and his fingers to fight,” and to lead and head the armies of Ifrael, &c. 7. His God had taught him not only to manage the sword, but to sway the sceptre ; in the close of verse 2. “ He subdueth my people under me.” He who had ordained him to be king of Ifrael, in the room of Saul, swayed the hearts of all the tribes to acknowledge him as their king and ruler; just so he, in a day of power, bends and bows the wills and minds of men to submit to the government of the Son of David, Christ Jesus, every one crying, Thou haft delivered us out of the hands of our enemies, therefore rule thou over us. · Well, David having thus viewed the goodness of God unto him, and remembering the greatness, glory, and majesty of his Benefactor, who had done all this for him ; he extends his views unto the goodness of God to mankind in general, and especially to the saints, and cries out, in a rapture of wonder, in the words of my text, Lord, what is man, that thou takejt knowledge of him! and the son of man, that thou makest account of bim! So then the words are a question of admiration. And more particularly we may note; 1. The subjectmatter of the question, and that is man ; earthly man, as some read it ; man that is “ sprung of earth, and whose foundation is in the dust;" man who was “ made a little lower than the angels,” but who is now sunk into the greatest ignominy and contempt; by his apoftaly from God. 2. We have a question of contempt put, concerning this creature, man, or the son of man, what is he? or wherein is he to be accounted of? We may hear the solution of this, question afterwards. 3. Notice to whom this question is proposed; it is to the Ford: Lord, what is man? The Lord is a God of knowledge,
and there is no searching of his understanding : he needs not that any should testify of man to him ; he knows the inward value of persons, things, and actions : God has balances in which he weighs all mankind, and therefore he can well tell what man is; “ he searches the hearts, and tries the reins of the children of men,” and knows far better what you and I are, than we do ourselves. 4. We have the ground and reason of this inquiry concerning man ; it is the knowledge that God takes, and the account God makes, of such an inconfiderable creature, that “ the high and lofty One, who inhabits eternity, and who dwells in the high and holy place," that he should " bow his heavens, and come down, to visit man in a way of love.'
OBSERVE, “ That the regard that God shews unto man is truly wonderful and surprising.”.
This I take to be the plain import of the question. We have the like question put, Job vii. 17. 18. “ What is man that thou shouldft magnify him? and that thou shouldīt fet thine heart upon him? and that thou shouldst visit him every morning, and try him every moment." Psal. viii. 3. 4. “ When I consider the heavens the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him." These are down-bringing questions. It is obe servable in fcripture, that questions, when they are pot concerning God, they are intended to raise our affections and admiration to the highest. So Exod. xv. II. “ Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?” and Micah vii. 18. " Who is a God like unto thee?” These are uplitting quertions. But when the question is concerning man, it brings him down in his own eyes unto nothing, “ that no flesh may glory in the presence of God.”
Now, in discourfing this doctrine, through the Lord's afsistance, I fhail endeavour,
. I. To give a scriptural solution of this diminutive and and down-bringing question, What is man?
II. What is imported in God's regarding man, or making account of him.
III. Wherein doth God discover his regard unto man?
1. The first thing is to give a scriptural solution of this question, What is man? for we can never wonder at and admire the regard that God shews unto man, until we know what man is. Come, then, Sirs, let us weigh ourselves in the balances of the fanctuary, and see what we are ; if, As creatures ; 2dly, As fallen creatures.
1, What is man, as he is a creature of God? Why, trace him io his firft original, he is but a piece of modified duft, enlivened with the breath of God: Adam fignifies earth, and red earth, Gen. Ü. 7. “ The Lord God formed mao of the duft of the ground.” Hence is that of the apostle, 1 Cor, IV. 47. “ The first Adam was of the earth, earthy;" also that of the prophet Jeremiah, who, addressing himself to Ifrael, cries put, “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord," &c. Again, What is man? He is in scripture reckoned a potter's veffel, that is ealily dalhed and broken : “ Hath not the potter power over the clay of his hand, to make one veffel unto honour, and another unto dishonour ?" Rom. ix. 21. and Psal. i. 9. Cbrift “ will dalh all his enemies in pieces, as a potter's vessel.” If you ask further, What is man? the prophet Isaiah will tell you that he is but grass; Isa. xl. 6 8. “ The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and the goodliness there. of as the flower of the field. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, because the Spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it : furely the people is grass.” What is all this multitude here preleat, but just a pickle grafs : for as grass springeth out of the earth, and falls down again to the earth, so shall we and all living, and then the place that knows us fhall know us no more. If you ask again, What is man? the Spirit of God will tell, Ifa. xl. 15. That “ all mankind is before God but as the drop of the bucket, and the small dust that will not turn the scales of a balance,” no body regarding it; and yet all mankind before the Lord is no more. Oh then, What is man, that God jould take knowledge of him ?” If you ask yet again, What is man betore the Lord? Why, you have an answer that reduces man, and all nations of men, into nothing. Ifa. xl. 17. " All nations are before him as nothing." Can any thing be less than nothing? yea, it is added in the close of that verle, “ They are accounted before him less than nothing and vanity.” And thus you see an answer to that question, What is man, confidered as a creature? But, .
2dly, What is man as a fallen creature? Man, even in his I beft eftate, is altogether vanity before God: what then is he
in his worft estate? “ God planted him a noble vine, but he
te mal dind is belo spirit or
is become the degenerate plant of a strange vine.” Let us consider what he is in this respect : a creature he is indeed; but then he is the worst of all creatures through fin; for if we search out his character from the record of God, we shall find him described, 1. To be a diseased creature, over-run with a loathesome leprosy, from the crown of the head to the sole of the foot : the disease of fin has invaded the very vitals, infomuch that the very mind and conscience is defiled and waste ed, &c. Hence it follows, 2. That man, fallen man, is become an ugly and a loathesome creature, Job xv. 16. “ How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh ini. quity like water? Sin is called the abominable thing that God's soul hates. Oh! how abominable then is man, who is nothing else than a mass of sin, a compound of all manner of iniquity? 3. What is man? He is an impotent and a helpless creature, withont strength, “ like the helpless infant cast out into the open field,” Ezek. xvi. Men may talk of the power of nature, and of their ability to convert and turn themselves, as they have a-mind; but, if we believe the Spirit of God; speaking by the Son of God, he will tell us that “ no man can come unto him, except the Father who sent him draw him.”. What can a'new-born infant do for its own help, cast out into the open field? Of all creatures it is the most helpless and impotent; and yet this is man's condition in his natural ftate. 4. What is man? Why, the Spirit of God will tell you that he is a rebellious creature; that he has lifted up arms against his great Lord; broken his allegiance to God, and joined in a confederacy with the devil against God. With proud Pharaoh, “ we have disowned God, saying, Who is the Lord, that I should obey him ?” Numb. xx. 10. “Hear now, ye rebels, must we fetch you water out of this rock?” &c. 5. What is man, fallen man? Why, he is a condemned creature, under' sentence from the great Judge of heaven and earth : “He that believeth not is condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on him,” &c. Condemned by God, condemned by the law, condemned by conscience, &c. 6. What is man, fallen man? Why he is a noxious and a hurt. ful creature; (he has hurt the creation of God; “ Cursed is the ground for thy sake,” says the Lord to Adam); a cumberer of the ground; “ Yea, the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain, under the burden of bis fin.” 7. He is a noisome creature, that hath a filthy smell in the nostrils of God, angels, and saints; and therefore compared to the stench of a green opened grave, that is ready to raise the peltience: “ Their throat (lays David, speaking of the wicked)