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the present perusal of the soul, easy and delightful to it in its recollective and reflective mood. Thereby we shall give, as it were, a fit spiritual introduction to the excellent COMMENTARY of the good Bishop Horne, whose book is full of the particulars of such spiritual application.
Without dispute or controversy upon minor points of difference, the church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven, meet upon the common ground of a fallen nature. Once they had supposed themselves upright before God, strong in natural integrity, possessing an undoubted claim to the final approbation of a righteous judge. But it was in the days of their ignorance that they thus conceived of their own worth; and now that the rays of divine light and truth have penetrated the darkness in which their souls were shrouded, they see an end of that perfection which was heretofore their boast. The breadth of the divine commandment is revealed to them, and being sorely pressed with an ever present sense of their defilement, they afflict their souls together, falling prostrate before the thrice Holy Majesty, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; and confess with the royal penitent, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." Whatever point of faith or doctrine any one of Zion's children may seem to be deficient in, if he be but a babe of Christ, able to feed only upon the nourishment of babes, and rejecting the food of riper years, yet shall be have to come to the knowledge of the plagues of his own heart, and he moved to spread forth his hands in supplication towards the temple of the Lord, and to say, “I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me.” The universal Church afflicteth her soul under the abiding sense of the loss of her original beauty, and under a deep feeling of her present misery, she deploreth her bondage to the powers of darkness and the God of this world; and her children mingle their tears together by the waters of their captivity, and wail because of the oppression of their mother, and they cry out of the depths of their desolation, “ Let the sighing of the prisoners come before thee, and according to the greatness of thy power preserve those that are appointed unto death." “ Save us, O Lord, by thy name, judge us by thy strength, for strangers are risen up against us, and oppressors seek after our souls.” Oh, how do the true mourners with one accord come unto the Lord weeping and with supplication," that their captivity may be turned, and salvation brought them out of Zion !" How do they beseech the Lord, “ giving him no rest till he make Jacob to rejoice, and Israel to be glad ; till he do good in his good pleasure unto Zion, and build up again the walls of Jerusalem !” And when the Lord hath hearkened unto the voice of the cry of his people, and turned their captivity, delivering them from the strong enemy that held them, bringing them forih also into a large place, and subduing under them the foes that were too mighty for them; how do they with one accord magnify the Lord, and extol his name together, and with one harmonious voice, celebrate the praise of him who, strong to save them, hath trodden upon the lion and the adder, the young lion and the dragon hath trampled under foot. “Oh Lord of Hosts, who is a strong God like unto thee? Thou hast a mighty arm, strong is thy hand, and high is thy right hand. Thou hast broken Rahab in pieces, as one that was slain. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne, mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” The true Israel of God, the spiritual worshippers under the gospel dispensation, being rescued from this worse than Egyptian bondage, by the strong hand and outstretched arm of the God of their salvation, com
memorate in many a song sung in Zion of old, the interposition of divine love and grace, and oft looking back upon the raging sea, which was fain to yalichem a safe passage; they proceed onward in their course through the weary wilderness, to the abode of their rest, and the promised city of their habitation: and they had hoped they were safe from the power of their rruela Iversary, and that their foot was safely planted upon their own
But cow they find, to the travail of their souls, that though they be no longer the willing slaves of Satan, but partakers of the glorious libeity wherewith Christ hath set his people free, they must use the arms of freeinen to retain their newly acquired liberty, march militant, and build the wall of their city in troublous times, and abide unto the death the frithtul soldiers of the Captain of their salvation. “ Each one had said in his prosperity, I shall never be moved, thou, Lord, of thy favour hast made my mountain to stand strong." But ere long, each one for himself exel siins, “Oh, God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance, thy holy temple have they defiled, and made Jerusalem a heap of stones.". -- Send thine hand froin above, rid me and deliver me from the hand of strange children, whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of falsehood." And oh, how do Zion's children cry out ever and anon tugether, in pain to be delivered from the remaining and continually reviving power of that sin which cleaveth to them with all the force of nature, and is only kept in check and brought under subjection, by the more powerful operation of the spirit of grace which dwelleth in them! And they continually cry out with the king of Israel, “ Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me: purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me and I shall be whiter than snow." The experience of the Lord's saints is ever one. As face answereth to face in a glass, so the heart of man to man, whether it be the heart in its unrenewed or renewed state, its workings will not be found diverse, but the sime, -inoods of the mind common to every child of the second as of the first Adam. Whatever is written in Moses and the Prophets, and the Psalms, concerning the former church, must be fulfilled in the experience of every saint of the present church; and there is no spiritual song, which they do not appropriate and make their own. In them it is fulfilled. For it is but the spirit of Christ speaking at various times; of whom no word is mortal, but every word immortal. And it is their constant work to search out the personal application of the Spirit
, and appropriate it to themselves: and through every trial and stage of their spiritual lise, they say, with the Psalmist, “ Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path ; open thou mine eyes that I may discern wondrous things out of thy law.” Ah, how they meditate thereon day and night! And truly can every child of David's kingdom say, “ Lord, how I love thy law; it is my meditation all the day; mine eyes prevent the nightwatches that I might meditate on thy word.” And the anxious and diligent travail of Zion's children in the study of their Master's word, is repaid by the sweet and pleasant contemplations which they are continually deriving thence, for the refreshment and consolation of their spirit. And the language of their soul is ever, “ How sweet are thy words to my taste, yea sweeter than honey to my mouth! The law of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver."
But the saints of God mourn not for themselves alone, nor do they rejoice only for themselves. Nor is it for their own solitary rescue from the jaws of the devouring lion, that they offer up strong cries unto the Lord; nor for their single salvation, that they sing the praises of redeeming love. They are not altogether absorbed with the variety of their own spiritual conflicts
, or swallowed up in the sense of their own manifold trials and temptations; nor for themselves alone do they study the precious word of God, or dig for its hid treasure with the avarice of the man who knoweth not the riches of communicated wealth. The utterances of individual feeling, of whatever kind, form but a part, perhaps the lesser part, of the spiritual exercises of the man of God. If he fears with a salutary fear, lest it be said of him at any time, “The vineyard of others hath be kept, but his own vineyard hath he not kept:" he hath yet a heart to mourn with those that mourn, and to rejoice with those that rejoice. He is a member of the mystical body of his Lord, whereof when any member suffers, all the members suffer with it; when any member is honoured, all the members rejoice. Therefore, it is a first instinct of the spiritual man, to have a deep and abiding sympathy, with every brother of human kind, upon whose renewed spirit he discovers the impress of his Master's image: and he says, “ All my delight is in the saints that are upon the earth and upon such as excel in virtue." Unlike the natural man, who at his best estate is built up in selfish feeling or unholy emulation, the man of God looks, not only at his own things, but at the things of others. With the love that is peculiar to the true saint, he desires the well-being of his brother, and rejoiceth over it even as if it were his own. How doth he continually make supplication for all saints, that their faith and love may abound unto the glory of God: How earnestly doth he desire their increase of grace, and that they may be filled with all the knowledge of God! and he ever prays for ihe peace of Jerusalem, saying evermore, “ Peace be within thy walls
, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions' sakes, I will now say, peace be with thee. Because of the house of our God, I will seek thy good. Do good, O Lord, unto those that be good : and strengthen the upright in heart.” In Zion's troubles his spirit is troubled, and he hangeth his harp upon the willows, refusing the song of mirth, and preferring the cause of captive Zion, before his own chief joy. And he prayeth on her behalf continually, “The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble, the name of the God of Jacob defend thee. Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion. Remember all thy offerings, and accept all thy burnt sacrifices. Grant thee according to thy heart, and fulfil all thy counsel."
Now there hath grown up in these lean years, a miserable notion, that the Psalms are not so appropriate for expressing the communion of the Christian church, for the reason that they contain allusions to places and events which are of Jewish, and not of Christian association. And some have gone so far as to weed out all those venerable associations, by introducing modern names of places in their stead. Why do they not upon the same principle weed out the Jewish allusions of the Four Gospels and the Epistles ? But it is as poor in taste and wrong in feeling, as is daring in the thought, and bold in the execution. In doing so, they consult for the homely feeling of the natural, not of the spiritual man, because the home of the spiritual was in Jerusalem, and Mount Zion and the temple of God, with which the soul connects her anticipations, no less than her recollections, being taught that the new Jerusalem is to come down from heaven like a bride decked for her bridegroom, and that those who are sealed are to stand upon Mount Zion with the Lamb of God. Every name in the Psalms, whether of person or of place, hath a mystical meaning given to it in the Christian Scriptures. Jerusalem is not the Jerusalem that was, nor is Babylon the Babylon that was; and even David hath lost his personality in the everlasting David. Judah and Israel mean not now the cast-away root, but the branch that hath been grafted in. Besides, we hold at present only one cycle of the revolution of God's purpose ; the Jews shall yet be brought in, and Jerusalem become glorious, and the dwelling of God be again with men. Why then should any part of everlasting Scripture be made the property of an age or place, which suppose every Christian nation to do, and where were the community of the Christian church! It is heady innovation and leanness of spirit which hath brought this to pass, for no end that we can see, save to gratify a national vanity, and connect religion in a strange league with patriotism; thereby breaking the continuity of God's dispensation, and destroying all lyrical propriety. As if you would render the Odes of Horace into English, with English names of men and places, in order to make them more edifying to the English reader. But more need not be said upon this blunder in piety, which will disa ppear when the lean years are over and gone. If we take not our forms for expressing spiritual patriotism, from those inspired songs through which, in the old time, the Church breathed the spirit of her high privilege and separate community, where shall we obtain them of like unction and equal authority, in the experience of times during which no prophet hath arisen in the holy city? For though the Church hath been as sorely tried under the Gentile, as under the Jewish dispensation, it hath not pleased the Lord to bestow upon any of her priests or people, the garment of inspiration, with which to clothe in spiritual songs the depths of her sorrow, or the exultation of her joy. And we are shut up to the necessity either of responding to the voice of the Spirit in the ancient Psalmist, or to re-echo the poetical effusions of uninspired men,-either to address the living God in the language of his own word, or in the language of some vernacular poet, whose taste and forms of thinking, whose forms of feeling, yea, and forms of opinion, we must make mediators between our soul and the ear of God,—which is a great evil to be avoided, whenever it can be avoided. For Christians must be forms of the everlasting and common Spirit, not mannerists of mortal and individual men.
But to return. Not only do the personal instincts, and the social instincts of the child of God, find in these Psalms the milk and honey of their existence, a cradle and a home where to wax and grow, and a multifarious world of imagery to awaken and entertain its various senses ; but also those instincts of piety, and compassion, and longing charity, which it hath towards the enemies of Christ, not indeed as his enemies, but as the hopeful prodigals of the human family, which he loveth in common with the rest, and would, in like manner, save. The true disci ples of the compassionate and tender-hearted Friend of sinners, adopt the language of Israel's King, when he pours out his soul in anxious long. ings for the salvation of the wicked, deprecating their stout-hearted rebellion against the King of kings, and exhorting to be timely wise, lest they fail of their final and everlasting rest. The new man in Christ Jesus, the regenerate, adopted child of the second Adam, who, under the sweet and enlightening influence of many newly awakened feelings, perceives himself to be linked in new and constraining bonds of sympathy with every kindred soul in Christ, is, nevertheless, not so absorbed in the joy. ful consciousness of those newly formed relations into which he hath been introduced by grace, as to forget that he is still united by many dear and tender ties to his brethren in the flesh. His original descent from the first Adam, he does not cease to recollect; and the conviction that, in virtue of this descent, he was by nature a child of wrath even as others, stimulates his zeal in behalf of those who appear to be less highly favoured than himself, and will not suffer his love towards them to fail. If, to the inexpressible peace and consolation of his soul, he finds hinsell to be now under the royal law of liberty, he grieveth to behold his kindved, his friends, his neighbours, the world at large, still oppressed with the yoke of bondage, heedless of their degradation, and careless to take up their purchased redemption. If the law of God be precious to him, and he discover in it a beauty, and excellence, and a goodness eves commending it to the love and admiration of his enlightened spirit
, how doth he weep and mourn on account of those by whom it is ignorantly set at nought and utterly despised! He adopteth the language of Israel's king, “Horror hath taken hold upon me, because of the wicked that forsake thy law. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law. Thou shalt break them with the rod of iron: Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Beware now, therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the right way, when his wrath is kindled but a little."
There are many passages in the Psalms which seem to breathe an opposite spirit of hostility and revenge upon the personal enemies of the Psalmist, and to heap upon their heads all the curses which are written in the book of the law of God. Concerning this, and many other points, it is well stated in the preface to this Commentary, whereof we would not repeat any thing, but add, for the further explication of this matter, that though the gospel law be charity out of a pure heart,” this charity doth manifest itself under various forms, some pleasant, but most of them painful to the natural man. Rebuke is a form of charity; and censure, and excommunication, yea, and total abandonment for a while. Truth is always a form of charity; or, to speak more properly, truth is the soul of which charity is but the beautiful, graceful, and lovely member. Charity, therefore, is not to be known by soft words, and fair speeches and gentle actions, which are oftener the forms of policy and courtesy; but must be sought in the principle of the heart, out of which all our words, speeches, and actions come forth. It is love to God producing love to all his family, by which we are moved; then is it charity, be its form commendation or blame, mildness or zeal, the soft and gentle moods of mercy, or the stern inflictions of justice, or the basty strokes of hot and fiery indignation: and wisdom must determine the form which is proper to the occasion, Is not God a God of love? And how diversified are the moods. of his providence even to his own beloved children! Christ brought mercy to the earth, and in the gospel builded for her an ark, in which she might swim over the deluge of cruelty which covereth the earth. Yet. how terrible is that gospel in its revelation to the wicked, how unsparing of the world, how cruel to the flesh, how contemptuous of good-natured formality, how awfully vindictive against hypocrisy ; taking every one of its children, and swearing him upon the altar to be an enemy, till death, against the world, the devil and the flesh! Against the various forms then of the devil, the world and the flesh, we are sworn, and, in order to their destruction, must make war with the two-edged sword which proceedeth out of the mouth of the word of God. Of these strong actings