"Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit." (Psalm 51:11,12)
THIS is called David's penitential Psalm. It was penned after he was left to fall into grievous sins, and he afterwards fell into deep waters of affliction. If you do not go into such depths of distress, horror, and despair, as David did, do not desire it. Salvation is not there, as the hymn you have been singing shows.
"That blessed Spirit omits to speak
Of what himself has done;
And bids th' enlighten'd sinner seek
Salvation in the Son."
You may tell whether you are under the influence of the Holy Spirit, by comparing yourself with the Word. "He shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." (John 16:13,14) To glorify Christ, and to take of the things of Christ, and bring them home to the poor sinner, that is the blessed work of the Holy Spirit. How much are we indebted to God the Holy Ghost for giving us faith, and hope, and all things! "The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger." (Job 17:9) It is not whether you will or not. A child of God cannot fully apostatize from him. "I will put my fear in their hearts, and they shall not depart from me." (Jer. 32:40) "I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David." (Jer. 32:40) This is an everlasting salvation. The power, truth, and faithfulness of Jehovah are in it. "I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment." (Isa. 27:3) He does not entrust his flock to another. "The Lord is thy keeper; the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand." (Ps. 121:5) How eternally safe and secure are all the sheep of Christ. "They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." (John 10:28,29) Oh that our wills may be brought into God's will. he will do all for the glory of his name.
"All things for our good are giv'n--
Comforts, crosses, staffs, or rods--
All is ours in earth and heav'n,
We are Christ's, and Christ is God's."
David had a deep sight and sense of his sin, and of God's mercy to the sinner, as we see in the 1st verse: "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions." And in the 3rd verse, "For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me." I believe it cut David to the heart, and remember all this was after he had known the Lord. I never had those deep heart-rending sorrows for sin at first, as I have had since I have known the Lord. Search the Scriptures, and try your experience by them. "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Isa. 8:20) "Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another." (Gal. 6:4)
"To see good bread or wine,
Is not to eat or drink;
So some, who hear the word divine,
Do not believe, but think."
After God called me, I could not rest satisfied without the witness within that I was really a child of God. If you have grace, you will also have glory when you die--that must follow grace. "The Lord will give grace and glory." (Ps. 84:11) He will give grace as an earnest, and he will give glory for the inheritance. I desire to be at peace with God and his children. "Preaching peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all)." Verse 4--"Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight," etc. "Howbeit thou art just (says Nehemiah) in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly." "Because thy sins were increased I have done these things unto thee." Verse 5--"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity," etc. Here is a deep confession. God sent his servant Nathan to David. God will send after his children. What, after they have done wickedly? Yes. Nothing shall separate them from the love of God. "For I am persuaded (says Paul) that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:38,39) Then you say you may go on in sin without fear. You know nothing of what I am saying, if you think so. "How shall we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" There have been times when I could truly say that if there were no future state, I desired never to sin again in thought, word, or action. It was not the fear of damnation. "The love of Christ constraineth us." (2 Cor. 5:14) "Ye that love the Lord hate evil." You cannot have a clearer evidence that you belong to God than the true hatred of sin. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world." We are not taught this by the terrors of the law, but by the Gospel, feeling which, we can say--
"I love the Lord with mind and heart,
His people and his ways;
Envy, and pride, and lust depart,
And all his works I praise."
Could you, at any one time, sing this with heart and mouth? Then heaven must be your portion for ever. I am still left among you as a dying man, to testify of the truth, which God has taught me more than fifty years. "Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness: that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice." Nathan spoke to David by a parable; but David was so hardened, that he did not feel it until Nathan said unto him, "Thou art the man." This was personal preaching. To speak thus to a great king, was a mighty work of God. Who made Nathan faithful? Paul says, "I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me." (Phil. 4:13) "Broken bones." If ever you have had sin charged home to your conscience, you will know what broken bones mean. "A broken and a contrite heart." David was made truly contrite. It is one thing to have a broken heart, and another to have a contrite spirit. David had both. You may have your heart broken, that is, your animal spirit broken down, without having the contrite spirit. I believe that Judas had his heart broken in that way. God the Holy Ghost can alone teach you the difference between a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Saul's heart, or animal spirit, was broken when he fell upon his own sword; but there was no contrition of spirit. As soon as the Holy Spirit works a softening and compunction in your spirit, then you will find relief from your sorrow. "Create in me a clean heart, O God." Does not this imply that he knew his heart was foul? He says in another Psalm, "I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long, for my loins are filled with a loathsome disease." Original sin was this loathsome disease. Have we been led under a feeling sense of the filthiness of our nature to put up this prayer, "Create in me a clean heart?" This clean heart is a new creation. "Make you a new heart and a new spirit." "Cast me not away from thy presence," etc. Does not this imply that he was under fears of his being cast away? I believe he was under dreadful apprehension of it. When I sank into that terrible state, some years since, I was brought to these apprehensions; and though I have not been left to fall into such gross sin as David did, yet the heart is the same. "How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?" God sometimes charges home the evil of our thoughts. Hart sunk in this way. Who can stand before a hold God?
I do not set up this great sinking as a standard for all God's people. If you have the fear of God in your heart, and a hankering after Christ, you will be saved. The Lord prayed (John 17), "Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all fresh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him." God has given all to his Son--all that ever shall be saved. If you have life in your soul, you have the evidence that you are thus given to the Son. Though Nathan had pronounced David's pardon, yet his feelings were so acute, that he prays; "Cast me not away," etc. The thoughts that I should be separated from Christ, who loved me, were the sharpest to me. Are any here present in fear of being thus cast away? and does such fear bring them to this prayer? You have not committed, nor ever will commit, the unpardonable sin. "For the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance." (Ps. 94:14) David was fully convinced that if God took away his Holy Spirit, he could never get near God again. But God hath said, "This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it." (Ps. 132:14) Therefore he never leaves the soul where he once takes up his abode. If you were left to commit the unpardonable sin, you would never more have one fervent desire after God. If you have the love of God, you will have a sympathy with all those that are under this affliction. "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, "etc. You may lose the joy of salvation, but not the salvation itself; that cannot be lost. I never lost salvation, but I lost the joy and comfort of it. "Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation." (Isa. 45:17) But there is a knowledge of our salvation, and this knowledge gives the joy of salvation. In the years 1828 and 1829, I had as much of the joy of salvation as I could bear up under. When David was on the mount, he had the joy of salvation. "In my prosperity I said I shall never be moved; thou, Lord, by the favour hast made my mountain to stand strong. Thou didst hide thy face and I was troubled." "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." Here he was in the height of it. "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me bless his holy name." Salvation is either temporal or spiritual. It was said to the Israelites at the Red Sea, "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." That was temporal. But David here speaks of spiritual salvation, which is a deliverance from the curse of sin and the law. This is by simple faith in Jesus Christ. In Luke 19, we see it recorded that the Lord passed through Jericho. This was because he would go after one of his dear children. Zaccheus was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. One of the last that we should have thought of the Lord's going after. Zaccheus desired to see Jesus, and I think this desire sprang from a little principle of grace in his heart, and not from curiosity alone, as some say. He climbed up into a tree, and the Lord saw him there. The Lord's eyes were upon him throughout. Methinks he said within himself, there is my child; and then said to him, "Zaccheus, come down, for today I must abide at thy house." Here is a personal call. The same as in the case of Mary. "The master is come, and calleth for thee." And immediately she arose and went out. "When thou saidst unto me, Seek ye my face, my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek." Zaccheus was not like Korah and his company, "We will not come." They were liberal enough for all the world, but they had no personal call, and yielded no obedience. Zaccheus received Christ joyfully. This shows he had grace in his heart, for otherwise he would have had no capacity to receive Christ at all. And Zaccheus said, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor," etc. And Jesus said unto him, "This day is salvation come to this house." Christ is God's salvation; and if ever you and I have Christ in our hearts by faith, then is salvation come to us. "As many as receive him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. (John 1:12) If you have ever been brought really to receive Christ, you have been brought to the knowledge of salvation. There was a joy attending Zaccheus' receiving of Christ. Is there not joy and peace in believing? Can you set to your seal that this is true? Then you cannot undo it.
"Salvation's of God,
Th' effect of free grace,
Upon us bestow'd
Before the world was
God from everlasting
Be blest; and again
Blest to everlasting
Amen and Amen."