Page images

but of any other, They are not only uncapable of applying thefe Paffages in the Psalms to their own Perfons, but they cannot fo much as repeat a Penitential Pfalm, or even the Confeffion of sins, in the Liturgy in a proper and agreeable manner; for he that does this,'as he ought, must do it with resolution of Amendment : Nor do I know how any:good Pray: ers can be fitted for the Mouths of wicked Men,

as long as they resolve to continue so.

As for those, who have fincerely repented, and in earnest begun avertuous course of Life, I see no reafon, why they may not unite their Hearts and Voices withi the Church, in rehearsing these Psalms. For we may very aptly take a great part of the Pfalter as the address of the whole Church to Almighty God; and then, no doubt, but every honest Member of this Body may perform his part in this pious Confort! Every true Christian may, and must say, that the true Church, whereof he professes himself a Member, [is all glorious within, ] that is, adorned with all manner of inward Graces, and Excellencies; and yet, where is that humble, hearty Christian that will prefume ko say fo of himself? Perhaps the Men can scarce think such elevated Expressions fit to be apply'd to their fingle felves, or to their perfonal Performances ; but any sincere Christian may, very well join in the publick use of these parts of the Plaster, when he considers that what he says, or fings, is the Voice of the Church Univerfal, and that as his Tongue is but one, among those innumerable Choirs of Christians throughout the World, fo lie has but a small share of those Vertues, and Perfections, which are the Ornament of the Church, the body of Chrift. And there is no reason to doubt, as shall hereafter be shew'd, but that David did in some Psalms speak as the Representative of the Church, as in others he expresses himself in the Person of Christ, as is generally allowed.

And the Magnificat, or


very beit

Song of the Blessed Virgin,cannot more aptly beuled by way of Devotion, than in the manner I am now speaking of, that is, as the address of the Church Universal (the Spouse, the Hand-maid, the Virgin) to Almighty God : But I would not have any one from hence conclude, that a devout Man may not use this Hymn, or these Psalms, in his Closet, as well as in the Church: for he may in his own thoughts consider himself as one of that large and vaft Body, who serve and worship according to these Forms. Night and Day.

IV. Some Psalms contain Confession of fins, and ear, nest prayer for Pardon; and these must be rehearsed with a heart as full of grief, and concern, and hearty desire of forgiveness, as possible; if we have no fresh, gross fins to repent of, yet we may call to mind oar past Errors, the fins of our youth, or the looser part of our Lives. If we have by a vertuous Education, and an extraordinary degree of God's Grace, been preserv'd from such fins as David was guilty of, or if our forrow for our own sins don't swell so high as the words of some of the Psalms seem to import, we may sympathize with them, who are in the state of Penitence, who are ready to fall into Despair by reason of the exquisite, and piercing sence they have of their fins: For true Charity will teach us, (to bear their burdens, and to remember them who are in the bonds of Iniquity, as bound together with

them.] V. There is a vein of very affectionate Devotion, and Prayer, which spreads itself through very many of the Psalms : we shall find in them Petitions for most of our Wants, whether of Soul or Body, but especially for Divine Grace, to enable us to perform our Duty. Now as these Passages should reach us to raise our Desires, and Endeavours after those Graces and Blessings, which we stand in need of; so they hould be a warning to us to rehearse the Psalms standing, that so, whenever we meet with these Prayers,

[ocr errors]

we may be in a posture fit to offer them upto Almighty God. For we have no warrant to lit at Prayer, however, not in the New Testament.

VI. In the Psalms we shall frequently meet with Ads of Trust and Relyance in the Divine Goodness; and every Christian, that sincerely endeavours to perform his part, may certainly leave the rest to God, and need not doubt but he will supply all our necessary Wants, and preserve us in all the Dangers we are exposed to, or however make all turn to his Glory, and our eternal good. It may be indeed, that we in our own Persons have no great reafon to be so apprehensive of any fuch Danger, or Calamity attending us, no such occasion for the exercise of our Confidence, and Reliance on God, as David seems to have had, when he pen'd several of his Psalms; but then we may apply these words to the Church, the whole body of good Chriftians which is always more or less, in whole or in part, threated with afsaults and fnares from the sworn Énemies of Religion, the Devil and his Angels, and wicked Men; and yet she may safely trust in him for deliverance, who hath promised, [that the Gates of Hell shall never prevail a

VII. There areinthe Psalms frequent acknowledgments of God's especial presence with his People, of which the Ark was the symbol. This Ark stood for the most part in a Tent, or Tabernacle, till the Reign of Solomon, who placed it in the innermost, and most honourable part of the Temple, which he had built for this purpose, 1 Kings viii. 5,6. God had promised that he would be favourably present with his people, and hear their Prayers, and be ready at hand to relieve them in all their Difficulties, between the Cherubims on the Ark, Exod. XXV.20,21,22, and xxix.43. and to assure them of the truth of it, a bright Cloud of Glory did sometimes spread itself not only over the Ark, but from thence over the whole Tabernacle. As the


gainst her.]

[ocr errors]

Fews did always look on this to be the chief Privi: ledge, and the greatest Ornament, and Honour of their Nation; so the Pfalmifts do very frequently mention, and acknowledge this favour, which God had vouchfafed them; and many Psalms were indited, on purpose co teach the People to pay their Dea votions to God, consider'd as present over the Arki Now when the Christian Worshipper rehearses any of these Psalms, he is to remember, that the Ark was a Type of Jesus Christ, and that the Godhead did, and does more effectually, and really dwell in him than ever it did on the Ark; that Christ Jesus is truly present with his Church, or wherever two or three are gather'd together in bis Name; tho' not in a visible, or boš dily manner. And it may further be observd, that

on't want visible Symbols of Chrif Jesus's Pre! sence amongst us, I imean the Sacrament of his Body and Blood, which we ought therefore to approach with as great reverence, at least, as the Fenis did the Ark: And if we now often hold our Religious Af semblies without these Tokens of his presence, the Sá crament of his Body and Bloud, this must be attributed to the Iniquity of the Times, and to our Cold ness in Matters of Religion. 'Tis allow'd, that the Primitive Christians made this Sacrament one conftant part of their publick Devotion: God grant that we may by degrees cute this defect in four Publick Worship, as to be sure we Thalldó, when we recover that holy zeal which animated the first Professors of our Holy Religion, and come to live as they did, fo as to be always ready to Communicate. The Church of Rome, in stead of constant Communion, has order'd the Hoft to be reserv'd,which they believe to be not only a Symbol of Christ's presence, but Christ himself; and this they keep perpetually in their Churches, as a constant object of Divine Worship. This is a Practice in itself fuperftitious, and as manag’d by them, Idolatrous, a Remedy worfe than the


[ocr errors]

disease. 'Tis just as if the Governors of the Jewift, Church, should have kept the People from gathering Manna, excepting on two or three Days in the Year, and instead of that should have shew'd them thatOmer, which was to be laid up in the Tabernacle for a Monument of God's Miraculous Providence toward his People; but with this difference, that they had a divine Command for keeping a Veffel of Manna, but the Papists have none for reserving the Sacrament.

VIII. Many Express Prophecies of the Messias are found in the Psalms: The ii, xxii, xlv, cx, do chiefly relate to him: and there are several Passages to the fame purpofe interwoven with the other Psalms and there. should be read or sung with a good degree of attention. And sure, it cannot but quicken oud Faith, and inflame our Zeal toward our Saviour, to consider, that David should thus foretel his coming a. bove a Thousand; Years before-hand. And if he did, so many Ages before his coming, own him for his Lord and Priest, this will be a great aggravation of their Guilt, who do not submit theniselves to him, since he has appear'd in the World and fulfilled what was foretold.

IX. Some Psalms are filled with Complaints of the Malice of wicked Men against the Church... As in other respects David was a Representative of the Church, fo especially in being hated, persecuted, and flander'd by, a great many ill Men, and those too often of his own Acquaintance and Family, and it is to be remembred that David, while alive, was the Patron of God's People, the Defender of the Faith, and the Soveraign of the Church; and therefore they who were Enemies to him, were consequently Enemies to God and Religion. We need not suppose that David made his private Resentments the fubje& of his Devotions, but this was what he laid to Heart, and so often bemoan'd, that he should have so many Enemies, when his Cause was the Cause of God, that

« PreviousContinue »