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In the eighth Psalm we iinagine the writer to be setting forth the preeminence of man in general, above the rest of the creation ; but by Heb. i 6, we are informed, that the supremacy conferred on the second Adam, the man Christ Jesus, over all things in heaven and earth, is the subject there treated of.
St. Peter stands up, Acts ii. 25, and preaches the resurrection of Jesus from the latter part of the sixteenth Psalm; and, lo, three thousand souls are converted by the sermon.
of the eighteenth Psalm we are told, in the course of the sacred history, 2 Sam. xxii. that “ David spake before the Lord the words of that song, in the day that the Lord delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul." Yet in Rom. xv. 9, the 50th verse of that Psalm is adduced as a proof, that “the Gentiles should glorify God for his mercy in Jesus Christ, as it is written, For this cause will I confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name."
In the nineteenth Psalm, David seems to be speaking of the material heavens and their operations only, when he says,
66 Their sound is gone out into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world." But St. Paul, Rom. x. 18, quotes the passage to show, that the Gospel has been universally published by the apostles.
The twenty-second Psalm Christ appropriated to himself, by beginning it in the midst of his sufferings on the cross ; “ My God, my God,” &c. Three other verses of it are in the New Testament applied to him; and the words of the 8th verse were actually used by the chief priests, when they reviled him; “ He trusted in God," &c. Matt. xxvii
. 43. When David saith, in the fortieth Psalm, “ Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire-Lo I come to do thy will :" we might suppose him only to declare, in his own person, that obedience is better than sacrifice. But from Heb. x. 5, we learn, that Messiah, in that place, speaketh of his advent in the flesh, to abolish the legal sacrifices, and to do away sin, by the oblation of himself once for all..
That tender and pathetic complaint, in the forty-first Psalm, “ Mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me," undoubtedly might be, and probably was, originally uttered by David, upon the revolt of his old friend and counsellor, Ahitophel, to the party of his rebellious son, Absalom. But we are certain, from John xiii. 18, that this scripture was fulfilled, when Christ was betrayed by his apostate disciple—“I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen ; but that the scriptures may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me, hath listed up his heel against me.”
The forty-fourth Psalm we must suppose to have been written on occasion of a persecution, under which the church at that time laboured; but a verse of it is cited, Rom. viii
. 36, as expressive of what Christians were to suffer on their blessed Master's account; "as it is written, For thy sake are we killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep appointed to be slain."
A quotation from the forty-fifth Psalm, in Heb. i. 8, certifies us, that the whole is addressed to the Son of God, and therefore celebrates his spiritual union with the church, and the happy fruits of it.
The sixty-eighth Psalm, though apparently conversant about Israelitish victories, the translation of the ark to Sion, and the services of the tabernacle, yet does, under those figures, treat of Christ's resurrection, his going up on high, leading captivity captive, pouring out the gifts of his Spirit, erecting his church in the world, and enlarging it by the accession of the nations to the faith ; as will be evident to any one who considers the force and consequence of the apostle's citation from it, Eph. iv. 7, 8, “ Unto every one of us is given grace, according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gilts unto men.”
The sixty-ninth Psalm is five times referred to in the gospels, as being uttered by the prophet, in the person of Messiah. The imprecations, or rather predictions, at the latter end of it, are applied, Rom. xi. 9, 10, to the Jews; and to Judas, Acts, i. 20, where the hundred and ninth Psalm is also cited, as prophetical of the sore judgments which should befall that arch-traitor, and the wretched nation of which he was an epitome.
St. Matthew, informing us, chap. xiii. 34, that Jesus spake to the multitudes in parables, gives it as one reason why he did so, “.that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet ; Psalm lxxviii. 2. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world."
The ninety-first Psalm was applied by the tempter to Messiah : nor did our Lord object to the application, but only to the false inference which his adversary suggested from it, Matt. iv. 6, 7.
The ninety-fifth Psalm is explained at large in Heb. iii. and iv. as relative to the state and trial of Christians in the world, and to their attainment of the heavenly rest.
The hundred and tenth Psalm is cited by Christ himself, Mat. xxii. 44, as treating of his exaltation, kingdom, and priesthood.
The hundred and seventeenth Psalm, consisting only of two verses, is employed, Rom. xv. 11, to prove, that the Gentiles were one day to praise God for the mercies of redemption.
The 22d verse of the hundred and eighteenth Psalm,“ The stone which the builders refused,” &c. is quoted six different times as spoken of our Saviour.
And, lastly, “the fruit of David's body," which God is said in the hundred and thirty-second Psalm to have promised that he would“ place upon his throne,” is asserted, Acts ii. 30, to be Jesus Christ.
These citations, lying dispersed through the Scriptures of the New Testament, are often suffered by common readers to pass unnoticed. And inany others content themselves with saying, that they are made in a sense of accommodation, as passages may be quoted from poems or histories merely human, for the illustration of truths, of which their authors never thought. “ And this (as a learned critic observes) is no fault, but rather a beauty in writing. A passage applied justly, and in a new sense, is ever pleasing to an ingenious reader, who loves to be agreeably surprised, and to see a likeness and pertinency where he expected none. He has that surprise which the Latin poet so poetically gives to the tree;
Miraturque novas frondes, et non sua poma.'” The readers, who have been accustomed to consider the New Testament citations in this view of accommodation only, must perceive the necessity of such accommodation, at least, to adapt the use of Psalms, as a part of divine service, to the times and circumstances of the gospel; and cannot therefore reasonably object, upon their own principles, to the applications inade in the following sheets for that purpose. But not to inquire, at present, whether passages are not sometimes cited in this manner, surely no one can attentively review the above made collection of New Testament citations from the book of Psalms, as they have been placed together before him, without perceiving that the Psalms are written upon a divine, preconcerted, prophetical plan, and contain much more than, at first sight, they appear to do. They are beautiful without, but all-glorious within, like - apples of gold in pictures, or net-work cases, of silver.” Prov. xxv. 11. The brightness of the casket attracts our attention, till, through it, upon a nearer approach, we discover its contents. And then indeed, it may be said to have “no glory, by reason of the glory that so far excelleth."* Very delightful and profitable they are, in their literal and historical sense, which well repayeth all the pains taken to come at it. But that once obtained, a farther scene begins to open upon us, and all the blessings of the gospel present themselves to the eye of faith.' So that the expositor is as a traveller ascending an eminence neither unfruitful por unpleasant; at the top of which when he is arrived, he beholds, like Moses from the summit of mount Nebo, a more lovely and extensive prospect lying beyond it, and stretching away to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills. He sees valleys covered over with corn, blooming gardens, and verdant meadows, with flocks and herds feeding by rivers of water ; till ravished with the sight, he cries out as St. Peter did, at the view of his Master's glory, “ It is good to be here !"
It would be unreasonable to suppose, that no parts of the Psalms may by us be spiritually applied, but such as are already expressly applied for us by the inspired writers. Let any man consider attentively a New Testament citation; then let him as carefully read over, with a view to it, the Psalm from which it is taken, and see if it will not serve him as a key, wherewith to unlock the treasures of eternal wisdom; if it will not "open his eyes," and show him “wonderful things” in God's law. When we are taught to consider one verse of a Psalm as spoken by Messiah, and there is no change of person, what can we conclude, but that he is speaker through the whole ? In that case, the Psalm becomes at once as much transfigured, as the blessed person, supposed to be the subject of it, was on mount Tabor And if Messiah be the speaker of one Psalm, what should hinder, but that another Psalm, where the same kind of scene is evidently described, and the same expressions are used, may be expounded in the same manner.
It is very justly observed by Dr. Allix, that “although the sense of near fifty Psalms be fixed and settled by divine authors, yet Christ and bis apostles did not undertake to quote all the Psalms they could quote, but only to give a key to their hearers, by which they might apply to the same subjects the Psalms of the same composure and expression." + The citations in the New Testament were made incidentally, and as occasion was giren. But can we imagine, that the church was not farther instructed in the manner of applying the Psalms to her Redeemer, and to herself? Did she stop at the applications thus incidentally and occasionally made by the inspired writers ? Did she stop, because they had directed ber how to proceed? We know she did not. The primitive Fathers, it is true, for want of critical learning, and particularly a competent knowledge of the original Hebrew, often wandered in their expositions ; but they are unexceptionable witnesses to us of this matter of fact, that such a method of expounding the Psalms, built upon the practice of the apostles in their writings and preachings, did universally prevail in the • 2 Cor. ül 10.
+ Preface to his Book of Psalms, p. 9.
church from the beginning. They, who have ever looked into St. Augus-tine, know, that he pursues this plan invariably, treating of the Psalms, as proceeding from the mouth of Christ
, or of the church, or of both considered as one mystical person. The same is true of Jerome, Ambrose, Arnobius, Cassidore, Hilary, and Prosper. Chrysostom studies to make the Psalter useful to believers under the gospel. Theodore attends both to the literal and prophetic sense. But what is very observable, Tertullian, who flourished at the beginning of the third century, mentions it, as if it were then an allowed point in the church, that “almost all the Psalms are spoken in the person of Christ, being addressed by the Son to the Father, that is, by Christ to God."* In this channel flows the stream of the earliest Christian expositors. Nor did they depart in this point from the doctrine held in the church of the ancient Jews, who were always taught to regard Messiah as the capital object of the Psalter. And though, when the time came, that people would not receive Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah, it does not appear that they ever objected to the propriety of the citations made by our Lord and his apostles, or thought such passages applicable to David only, and his concerns. Nay, the most learned of their Rabbies, who have written since the commencement of the Christian era, still
agree with us in referring many of the Psalms to Messiah and his kingdom; differing only about the person of the one, and the nature of the other.
When learning arose, as it were, from the dead, in the sixteenth century, and the study of primitive theology by that means revived, the spiritual interpretation of the Scriptures revived with it. It was adopted, at that : time, by one admirably qualified to do it justice, and to recommend it again to the world by every charm of genius, and every ornament of language. I mean the accomplished Erasmus, who omitteth no opportunity of insisting on the usefulness, and even the necessity of it, for the right understanding of the scriptures; for the attainment of that wisdom which they teach, and that holiness which they prescribe ; seeming to think himself never better employed, than when he is removing the earth and rubbish with which those Philistines, the monks, had stopped up the wells of salvation, opened by the apostles, and first fathers of the church, for the benefit of mankind. This great man was much importuned by his learned friends, as he informeth us in an epistle to Cardinal Sadolet, to write a commentary on the Psalms. Such a work, executed by him, had been one of the richest gifts that were ever cast into the Christian treasury; as we may judge from the specimen which he hath left us, in his discourses on eleven of them. Some of these were drawn up with a view to enlarge upon the transactions of the times; and in all of them he is more diffuse and luxuriant, than, it is to be presumed, he would have been in a general exposition. But they abound with a rich variety of sacred learning, communicated in a manner ever pleasing, and ever instructive. If at any time he takes us out' of the road, it is to show us a fine country, and we
Omnes pené Psalmi Christi personam sustinent,-Filium ad Patrem, id est Christum ad Deum verba facientem representant.
+ Enchirid. Mil. Christ. in Præfat. Canon. 5. et passim.
1 Lib. xxv. Epist. 11. Edit. Froben. 1085. Edit. Čler. Non semel rogatus sum quum ab aliis, tum ab Anglorum Rege, ut in omnes Psalmos ederem Commentarios ; sed deterrebant me quum alia multa, tum illa duo potissimum, quod viderum hoc argumentem vix posse pro dignitate tractari, nisi quis calleat Hebræorum literas, atque etiam antiquitates ; partim quod verebar ne turba Commentariorum obscuraretur Sermo Propheticus, citius quam illustraretur.
are still in company with Erasmus. He considers a Psalm, as it may relate to Christ, either suffering, or triumphant; as it may concern the church, whether consisting of Jews or Gentiles, whether in adversity or prosperity, through the several stages and periods of its existence; and as it may be applicable to the different states and circumstances of individuals, during the trials and temptations which they meet with, in the course of their Christian pilgrimage and warfare here below, till having overcome their last enemy, they shall sit down with the Lord in his kingdom; when the scheme of prophecy shall receive its final accomplishment, and “the MYSTERY of God be FINISHED.'
It is obvious, that every part of the Psalter, when explicated according to this scriptural and primitive method, is rendered universally " profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness ;"' and the propriety immediately appears of its having always been used in the devotional way, both by the Jewish and the Christian church. With regard to the Jews, Bishop Chandler very pertinently remarks, that they must have understood David their prince to have been a figure of Messiah. They would not otherwise have made his Psalms part of their daily worship, nor would David have delivered them to the church, to be so employed, were it not to instruct and support them in the knowledge and belief of this fundamental article. Was the Messias not concerned in the Psalms, it were absurd to celebrate, twice a day, in their public devotions, the events of one man's life, who was deceased so long ago as to have no relation now to the Jews, and the circumstances of their affairs; or to transcribe whole passages from them into their prayers for the coming of the Messiah.”+ Upon the same principle, it is easily seen, that the objections, which may seem to lie against the use of Jewish services in Christian congregations, cease at once. Thus, it may be said, Are we con: cerned with the affairs of David and of Israel ? Have we anything to do with the ark and the temple? They are no more. Are we to go up to Jerusalem, and to worship on Sion? They are desolated, and trodden under foot by the Turks. "Are we to sacrifice young bullocks, according to the law?' The law is abolished, never to be observed again. Do we pray for victory over Moab, Edom, and Philistia ; or for deliverance from Babylon ? There are no such nations, no such places in the world. What then do we mean, when, taking such expressions into our mouths, we utter them in our own persons, as parts of our devotions, before God Assuredly we must mean a spiritual Jerusalem and Sion; a spiritual ark and temple; a spiritual law; spiritual sacrifices; and spiritual victories ; spiritual enemies; all described under the old names, which are still retained, though“ old things are passed away, and all things are to become new.”I By substituting Messiah for David, the gospel for the law, the church Christian for that of Israel, and the enemies of the one for those of the other, the Psalms are made our own. Nay, they are with more fulness and propriety applied now to the substance, than they were of old to the " shadow of good things then to come." And therefore, ever since the * Rev. x. 7.
† Defence of Christianity, First Part, p. 241. 1 2 Cor. v. 17. Ergo arrige aures, Christiane Lector, et ubi talia in Davide legeris, ta mihi fac cogitas, non Arcam, fragile lignum, aut Tabernaculum contectum pellibus, non urbem lapidibus compositam: non Templum divinæ Majestati augustum; sed Christi et ecclesiæ Sacramenta, sed vivos lapides, Christo angulari lapidi coaptatos; sed ipsam Eucharistiam præsentis Dei testem; denique cæleste regnum et æternam felicitatem. Bossuet Dissertat. de Psal. Cap. i. ad fin
s Heb. x. 1,