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in their persons, their good name, or their property. It is a glorious sight to behold children thus standing forth in the defence of their parents. In the multitude of true believers consist the glory of Christ, and the riches of the church. How forward were the primitive Christians to meet the enemies of these their spiritual parents “in the gate;" how ready, in their cause, to speak openly, and having witnessed a good confession, to die by the hand of the executioner! Therefore shall they not be ashamed at the judgment of the last day, but shall then stand with great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted, persecuted, and tormented them. For their heavenly Father will then be their Judge, and will own, in his turn, the cause of his dutiful children, who for his sake endured tribulation, and loved not their lives unto the death. Confusion shall overwhelm the accuser of the brethren, with all the instruments of his malice; but glory, honour, and immortality shall be given to the children of God.
ARGUMENT.-This Psalm containeth a promise made to him who, 1. feared Jeho
vah, and walked in his ways, that he should be blessed, 2. in his person, and 3, 4. in his family, and that he should see the good of Jerusalem. The Psalm was, probably, sung at the marriages of the Israelites, as it is now a part of the matrimonial service among us. In its prophetical and exalted sense, it hath respect to the person, marriage, family, and city of Messiah. 1. Blessed every one that feareth the Lord: that walketh in his ways.
Happiness belongeth not to the rich, the powerful, and the prosperous, as such; but in every state and condition, blessed is the man that "feareth Jehovah," that so feareth him as to obey him, and to “walk in his ways," notwithstanding all the obstructions he may meet with from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Blessed above all the sons of men, and the author of blessing to them all, was the man Christ Jesus, because above them all, and for them all, he feared, he loved, and he obeyed.
2. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands : happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
The person is here beautifully changed, and to the man who feareth Jehovah is addressed an enumeration of those blessings which shall attend him. He is to "eat the labour of his hands," that is, the fruit, or returns of his labours. Hereby it is implied, that he is not to be idle, but to “ labour," that he may eat; that he is not to be niggardly, but to “eat," when he has laboured; that he is neither to be unjust, by living upon the labours, nor enslaved, by depending upon the bounty of others, but to eat of his own” labours; and that
place of judicature. “ Then was war in the gates ;" Judges, v. 8. He mentions a remarkable Chinese proverb: “When a son is born into a family, a bow and arrow are hung before the gate.”
'he, whose labours procure him a sustenance, hath enough to be "blessed” and happy. “Happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee:" every thing shall happen, which God seeth to be best for thee in this life, and (as saith the Chaldee paraphrast on the place)" it shall be good to thee in the world to come.” of Christ, and the salvation of mankind, were the fruits of his actions and his sufferings in the days of his flesh; so that, in the enjoyment of them, he doth no more than “ eat of the labours of his hands;" or, to use the words of Isaiah," he seeth of the travail of his soul, and is satisfied.” Before he went hence, he took comfort in the reflection, “I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” John, xvii. 4. Happy shalt thou be, 0 Christian, and it shall be well with thee, if at thy latter end thou shalt be able to draw comfort from the same consideration.
3. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house : thy children like olive plants round about thy table.
Marriage was ordained by God to complete the felicity of man in a state of innocence; and the benediction of heaven will ever descend upon it, when undertaken in “the fear of the Lord.” The vine, a lowly plant, raised with tender care, becoming, by its luxuriancy, its beauty, its fragrance, and its clusters, the ornament and glory of the house to which it is joined, and by which it is supported, forms the finest imaginable emblem of a fair, virtuous, and faithful wife. The olive-trees planted by the inhabitants of the eastern countries around their tables, or banquetting places in their garden, to cheer the eye by their verdure, and to refresh the body by their cooling shade, do no less aptly and significantly set forth the pleasure which parents feel, at the sight of a numerous and flourishing offspring. As marriage was from the beginning intended to represent the mystical union between Christ and his church, which union is spoken of in matrimonial language, through the Scriptures both of the Old and New Testament, we need but extend our view, to behold, under the imagery of the vine and the olive-plants, the prolific spouse of Messiah, and the children of peace assembled round the table of their heavenly Father. See Psalm lxxx. 8; Rom. xi. 17.
4. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord. Are temporal blessings, then, the reward of piety? They are not its only, nor chief reward, but are often “added,” even under the new dispensation, to those who “first seek the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” When they are withholden, or withdrawn, it is
This is Bishop Patrick's idea The learned and ingenious Mr. Harmer, in his very valuable “ Observations on divers Passages of Scripture," (vol. i. p. 197, 2d edit.) disapproves of it : as, he says, “we find no such arbours in the Levant, nor is the tree very proper for the purpose.” He thinks therefore the “table” refers to the children” only, and not to the "olives.” But Mr. Merrick, in his Annotations, produces some very good arguments on the side of Bishop Patrick.'
for the security or increse of those more valuable blessings which are spiritual. There are times, when father, mother, brethren, sisters, wife, children, and lands, must be given up for Christ's and the gospel's sake. But ample amends are promised to be made to all who thus part with earthly relations and possessions. They find in the church other fathers, mothers, brethren, sisters, children, &c. and at the resurrection they will " inherit all things," Rev. xxi. 7, and brighter coronets of glory shall sparkle from their heads. The Scriptures show us the servants of God in every state and condition; we view them rich and poor, honoured and despised, sick and in health, married and single, childless and otherwise, in prosperity and in adversity ; to teach us, that all things work together for good to them who love God: so that the believer hath comfort always. If temporal blessings be granted him, he accepteth them as shadows. of those which are eternal; if they are denied, he remembereth that they are only shadows, and are therefore denied, that he may fix his thoughts and affections more firmly on the substance.
5. The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem, all the days of thy life. 6. Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel.
Every true Israelite rejoiceth in the prosperity of Zion; a blessing upon the church diffuseth itself to all the members thereof; and the good of Jerusalem, with peace upon Israel, is all the good we can desire to see upon earth. Hereafter we shall see greater things than these. Jehovah from the heavenly Zion will bless us with the vision of his immortal glory; we shall see the good of the new Jerusalem, the wealth, beauty, and majesty of that holy city; we shall see the generations of the faithful walking in the light of it; with that everlasting peace and rest which remain for the Israel of God. These are the blessings promised to Messiah, and to his seed, for evermore.
ARGUMENT.-In the former part of this Psalm, 144. the church declareth herself
to have been often assailed and persecuted by her enemies, but as often rescued and preserved by Jehovah ; in the latter part of it, 5—8. she predicteth the miserable end of all those who hate Zion.
1. Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth, may Israel now say: 2. Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth : yet they have not prevailed against me.
Affliction is nothing new to the people of God. Many a time have the righteous been under persecution, from the hour when Cain rose up against his brother Abel, to this day. Like the bush which Moses beheld in the desert, the church hath “burned with fire,” but. is not yet "consumed;" and for the same reason, because God is in
the midst of her." He who took our nature upon him, was also “afflicted from his youth,” but his enemies "prevailed not finally against him.” And it is observable, that what God spake, by his prophet Hosea, concerning Israel, “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt,” is by St. Matthew ap plied to Christ; “ Joseph took the young child and bis mother by night, and departed into Fgypt, and was there until the death of Herod : that it might be fulfilled which was skoken by the prophet, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Matt. ii. 14; Hos. xi. 1. The truth is, that there subsisted between Christ and the church an union like that between the head and the members of the same body; they are therefore called by the same name, Israel, and what is said concerning one, frequently admitteth of an application to the other. He became like us by taking our nature, and we become like him by receiving his grace. Our sufferings are accounted as his; and his righteousness spoken of as ours.
3. The plovers plored upon my back ; they made long their furrows. 4. The Lord is righteous : he hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked.
The former of these two verses expresseth a state of great affliction, the latter, a deliverance from that state. The word oor, which signifies to dig, or cut the ground, and so, to plow, is also used simply for cutting, carving, or graving ; see Exod. xxxv. 33; Jer. xvii. 1. Being bere applied to the back of captives, and cords having been the instruments of it, in all reason it is to be understood of scourging, which cuts, and, as it were, digs, and plows, and makes furrows in the flesh; and the longer the cord of the scourges are, the longer are the wounds and furrows. For our sakes he who knew no sin "gave his back to the smiters," Isa. 1. 6; and permitted those " plowers to make long their furrows upon it.” But the righteous Lord cut asunder the cords of the wicked ;” vengeance overtook the wretched instruments of his sufferings; and the persecutors of his servants shall perish in like manner, as the Psalmist proceedeth to assure us in the verses following.
5. Let them all, or, they all shall, be confounded and turned back that hate Zion.
Since the ways of God are equal, the destruction which hath lighted on former persecutors of the church affordeth an assurance, that all in every age, who hate Zion, shall, at the day of final retribution, if not before that day, feel the weight of his arm, who is the Saviour, the King, and the God of Zion.
6. Let them, or, they shall, be as the grass upon the house-tops, which withereth afore it groweth up: Heb. is pulled up.* Wherewith the mower filleth
* Ecclesia jam inde ab initio in Abel, in Enoch, in Noë, in Abraham, in Lot, in Egyptiaca servitute, in Moyse, et Prophetis, graves perpessa inimicos: dicit illa quidem sæpe a juventute se fuisse oppugnatam ; nihilo tamen seciùs pervenisse ad senectutem, ac ne in senectute quidem opprimi posse. Victus enim qui sæviebat, vicit qui sufferebat.-Bossuet.
+ Mr. Harmer takes the idea of the Psalmist to be, “ Which withereth beforo it une sheaths its ear." -Obsero. 11, 463.
not his hand: nor he that bindeth sheaves his bosom. 8. Neither do they which go by say, The blessing of the Lord be upon you : we bless you in the name of the Lord.
The transient prosperity of mortal man is often in sacred writ compared to grass, the history of which is contained in these few words, “ It cometh up, and is cut down.” But here the comparison is carried still further. Not the common grass in the field, but “grass growing on the house-tops," is selected to convey the idea of bad men; grass, which having no depth of earth, into which it may strike its roots, doth not wait the hand of the gatherer, but " withereth” even “ before it is plucked up.” And then, so thin, so wretched, and so unprofitable is the crop, that none are employed to collect and carry it in; none to whom passengers might address those acclamations and salutations, customary at such times, as "The Lord be with you, bless you,” &c. Ruth ii. 4. Thus, while the felicity of Zion's children is rooted and grounded in Christ, that of her enemies haih no foundation at all. While the church subsisteth from generation to generation, the kingdoms and empires that have persecuted her, fade and wither away of themselves. And at the general harvest of the world, when the righteous shall be carried by angels, with joyful acclamations, into the mansions prepared for them above, the wicked, unregarded by the heavenly reapers, and unblessed by all, shall become fuel for a fire that goeth not out; resembling in this their sad end, likewise, that worthless grass, “which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven."
ARGUMENT.—This is the sixth of those which are styled “ Penitential Psalms.” It is
calculated for the use of the church, or any member thereof; and containeth, 1, 2. a complaint of great distress ; 3. a confession of man's sinfulness: 448. an act of faith in the divine mercy, and the promised redemption.
1. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord. 2. Lord, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications.
From the depth of sin, and the misery occasioned by sin, the penitent, like another Jonas, entombed in the whale's belly, and surrounded by all the waves of the ocean, crieth unto God for help and salvation. Fervent prayer will find its way, through every obstruction, to the ears of him who sitteth upon his holy hill. And may not the bodies of the faithful, buried in the dust, be said to cry, out of the depths of the grave, for a joyful resurrection, according to the promise and the pattern of Christ, who, after three days, came forth from the heart of the earth, as Jonas did from the belly of the whale ?
3. If thou, Lord, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand ?
A reason is here urged, why God should spare and pardon the suppliant, namely, because, was he accurately to note the offences of