Obrázky na stránke

from the exultation of victorious favor to what was suited to the abyss of penitent humiliation, is to be found in the Psalms; and every character of man in the checquered map of human life finds in them a spiritual consolation or an awful warning. Let the righteous open this book, he is instructed, confirmed, rewarded : let the sinner who repents (for the impenitent has no portion here) he is pitied, he is pardoned, he is comforted. In no part of the Old Scriptures is this life described more justly, or the next life more clearly brought to our view. Kings might be taught here to judge the people according unto right, and those who are in trouble learn who will deliver them out of the prison house. The book opens with blessings on the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, and it closes with a call on every thing that hath breath to praise the Lord.

Against the moral instruction conveyed by the book of Psalms, it has been objected that the bitter imprecations which David utters against his enemies are composed in a spirit very different from the meekness of Christian charity. The same might be objected against sentiments uttered even by highly favoured personages throughout the Old Testament; for to love your enemies—to pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you—were precepts which the meek founder of our Re

ligion introduced in opposition to the practice of the world before him. Those who know the original language of the Old Scripture take away the strength of the objection by changing the imperative form of the imprecations into a future: and this the language will equally admit, thus giving them in the form of a prophetic threat, and not as a vindictive wish for vengeance. Instead of “ Let his posterity be cut off,” “ Let their habitation be desolate,” the passages might equally have been rendered, “ His posterity shall be cut off,” “His habitation shall be desolate.” It is acknowledged that the Apostles following the Greek version used the imprecatory form, but when it is considered that David (of whose mildness towards his personal enemies we have several instances on record) was a Minister in the hands of the Almighty to execute his will—when it is considered that those who opposed him opposed also the counsels of Providence-David must be looked on as directed by the Spirit to pronounce the general denunciations of the Lord against sinners, represented by the transgressor then specially under view. Some of them are certainly spoken in the person of the Church against the obstinate and impenitent sinner, its bitterest foe. That he should be converted and live would be the first wish of the Christian; but if he will not repent, we find

[ocr errors]

in the book of Revelations that even the Angels of Heaven give thanks for the execution of God's true and righteous judgments, and the destroying of them that destroy the earth. *

With the words in which two zealous advocates of the Christian cause have eulogized this part of the Scriptures I shall conclude this discourse. 6. What is there necessary, says the judicious Hooker, “ which the Psalms “are not able to teach? They are to be“ ginners an easy and familiar introduction, a "mighty augmentation of all virtue and know

ledge in such as are entered before, a strong “confirmation to the most perfect among “others. Heroical magnanimity, exquisite “justice, grave moderation, exact wisdom, re“pentance unfeigned, unwearied patience, the “mysteries of God, the sufferings of Christ, the “terrors of wrath, the comforts of grace, the “works of Providence over this world, and the “promised joys of that world which is to come, “all good necessarily to be either known, “ or done, or had, this one celestial fountain “ yieldeth. Let there be any grief or disease “incident to the soul of man, any wound or “sickness named, for which there is not in “this treasure house, a present comfortable remedy at all times ready to be found.”+ “ The invaluable Psalms of David,” says the pious Bishop Horne, convey those comforts

* Revelations xviii. 20, &c. + Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity, Book V. Section 37.

to others which they afford to himself. Com“posed upon particular occasions, yet design“ed for general use, delivered out as services “ for the Israelites under the law, yet no less “ adapted to the circumstances of Christians “under the Gospel, they present religion to “us in the most engaging dress : communicat“ing truths which Philosophy could never in“vestigate, in a style which Poetry can never “equal, while History is made the vehicle of

Prophecy, and Creation lends all its charms “to paint the glories of Redemption."*

* Preface to Bishop Horne's Commentary on the Psalms.




Seek ye out of the book of the Lord and read.

We are now arrived at a different part of the Church Service, the hearing of God's Holy Word from the book of his own inditing. From this book the Psalms also have been taken : but these have been recited to set forth his most worthy praise; and if you have with fervent zeal joined in the work of giving thanks and glory to God, you may well be expected to be attentive hearers to the Lessons, which declare to you his mighty acts and his excellent greatness. These Lessons have been selected from your Bible as chapters most highly conducive to your spiritual improvement, and most clearly laying before you the systems of the divine wisdom

« PredošláPokračovať »