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Jehovah must be true in all his ways, and righteous in all his works. Now there is no religion upon earth, except the Christian, which oan satisfy the demands of all these claimants, and restore an union between them; which can show how God's word can be true, and his work just, and the sinner, notwithstanding, find mercy, and obtain peace. Mahomet's prayer, were it the prayer of a righteous man and a prophet, could not satisfy divine justice; the blood of bulls and goats was always insufficient for that purpose, being a figure only for the time then present, which ceased of course when the reality appeared. "Sacrifice and burnt-offering thou wouldest not; then said I, lo, I come." A God incarnate reconciled all things in heaven and earth. When Christ appeared in our nature, the promise was fulfilled, and truth sprang out of the earth." And now, righteousness, “looking down from heaven," beheld in him every thing that she required: an undefiled birth, an holy life, an innocent death; a spirit and a mouth without guile, a soul and a body without sin. She saw, and was satisfied, and returned to earth. Thus all the four parties met again, in perfect harmony; truth ran to mercy, and embraced her; righteousness to peace, and kissed her. And this could only happen at the birth of Jesus, in whom" the tender mercy of our God visited us, and who is the truth; who is made unto us righteousness, and who is our peace." See Luke i. 78. John xiv. 6. 1 Cor. i. 30. Ephes. ii. 14. Those that are thus joined, as attributes, in Christ, ought not, as virtues, to be separated in a Christian, who may learn how to resemble his blessed Lord and Master, by observing that short, but complete rule of life, comprehended in the few following words; show mercy, and speak truth; do righteousness, and follow peace. See St. Bernard, in his sermon on the Annunciation, and from him, Bishop Andrews on these two verses of our Psalm. *
12. Yea, the LORD shall give that which is good: and our land shall yield her increase.
Unless God vouchsafe a gracious rain from above, the earth cannot" yield her increase." The effects of the incarnation of Christ, the descent of the Spirit, and the publication of the Gospel among men, are frequently set forth in scripture under images borrowed from that fruitfulness caused in the earth by the rain of heaven. Thus Isaiah," Drop down, ye heavens from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, and let them
* Solutâ captivitate, felicem populi statum designat, omni bonorum copiâ et virtutibus florentis: quæ maximè impleta sunt, postquam Christus ipsa veritas, idemque pax nostra, è terrâ ortus est. Bossuet,
bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together, xiv. 8. I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring. And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses, xliv. 3. As the rain cometh down from heaven, and watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud; so shall my word be," &c. lv. 10. Give us evermore, O Lord," that which is good, that our land may yield her increase;" give us that good gift, the gift of thy Spirit, that we be "neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," 2 Pet. i. 8.
13. Righteousness shall go before him, and shall set us in the way of his steps; or, and shall set his steps in the way.
Upon the appearance of the Redeemer, "righteousness" is represented" as going before him," like his harbinger the Baptist, to prepare and make ready his way. In that way, the way of righteousness," he set his steps," and walked therein, without the least deviation, until he had finished his appointed course. Draw us, blessed Jesus, and we will run after thee in the path of life, let thy mercy pardon us, thy truth enlighten us, thy righteousness direct us, to follow thee, O Lamb of God, whithersoever thou goest, through poverty, affliction, persecution, and death itself; that our portion may be for ever in thy kingdom of peace and love.
This Psalm is entitled a prayer of David, and supposed to have been written in some of his great distresses. Like others of the same kind, it is calculated for the use of the church during her sufferings here below, by which she is conformed to the image of the true David, that man of sorrows. It contains, 1. an earnest supplication, grounded on the poverty, 2. the holiness, faith, 3. importunity, and, 4. devotion of the suppliant; and on, 5-7. the goodness, and, 8. power of God, 9, 10. to be one day acknowledged by all nations, at their conversion. After this follows, 11. a petition for wisdom, strength, and singleness of heart: 12, 13. a thanksgiving for redemption; 14. a complaint of persecution from the wicked; 15, an act of faith; 16, 17. a prayer for help and salvation.
1. Bow down thine ear, O LORD, and hear me: for I am poor and needy.
All prayer is founded on a sense of our wants, and God's ability to supply them. In the sight of his Maker, every sinner is "poor and needy;" and he must become so in his own, that his petitions may be regarded; he must pray with the humility and importunity of a starving beggar, at the gate of heaven, if he expect the great King to "bow down his ear and hear him." "The prayer of the humble," saith the wise son of Sirach, "pierceth the clouds; and till it come nigh, he will not be comforted; and will not depart till the Most High shall behold," Ecclus. xxxv. 17. The blessed Jesus, "though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, and had not where to lay his head;" nor is it to be doubted, but that in his state of humiliation, he oftentimes made his prayer to the Father in these very words; "Bow down thine ear, O LORD, and hear me; for I am poor and needy." If he sued, in such a form of words, for us, shall we think of suing in any other form, for ourselves?
2. Preserve thou my soul, for I am holy; O thou my God, save tky servant that trusteth in thee.
The word here translated "holy," is on the same which is used in the xvith Psalm; "Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." And indeed, if we understand "holiness" in its strict sense, no one but "he whom the Father sanctified, and sent into the world," to redeem lost man, could say to him, "Preserve my soul, for I am holy." But the word properly signifies " good, merciful, pious, devoted to the service of God," &c. The Christian, therefore, only pleads, in this expression, his relation to Christ, as being a member of Christ's body, the church, and a partaker of the gifts, which, by virtue of that membership, he has received through the Spirit of holiness. So that this first part of the verse, "Preserve my soul, for I am holy," when repeated by us, is equivalent to another passage in the Psalms, "I am THINE, O save me," exix. 94. The latter member of the verse under consideration teaches us to pray for help and salvation, as the "servants" of God, whose eyes therefore look naturally to him, "as the eyes of servants," in affliction, "look unto the hand of their masters," Psa. cxxiii. 2. And happy, surely, are we in a Master, who, himself, for our salvation, once lived, and prayed, and suffered, and died, in "the form of a servant," Phil. ii. 7.
3. Be merciful unto me, O LORD, for I cry unto thee daily.
There is no man upon earth, but needeth mercy; he who is truly sensible of his need, will "cry daily" for it; and he who doth so, may comfort himself with the hope of obtaining it. The
prayers of Jesus, poured forth for the salvation of his mystical body, in the days of his flesh, were frequent and mighty; his intercession for us in heaven is continual. Does the man believe this, who prays not at all, or, who prays without devotion? 4. Rejoice the soul of thy servant : for unto thee, O LORD, do I lift up my soul.
Sorrow was the portion of Christ in this world, and the church hath no reason to expect any other from it. He that would have real "joy" in his heart, must beseech God to give it him, for no creature hath it to give. Nay, the love of the world must be renounced, before this divine gift can even be "received.” The affections must be loosened from earth, and "lifted up" to heaven, on the wings of faith and love; for in the soul that is full of sensual pleasures and indulgences, there is neither room nor taste for spiritual delights.
5. For thou, LORD, art good, and ready to forgive and plen teous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.
We are encouraged to "lift up our souls to God" in prayer, because his "goodness" and the "plenteousness of his mercy" in Christ Jesus incline him to give his holy Spirit of peace and comfort to "all that call upon him." His favour is no longer confined to Judea; there is now no distinction of age, condition, or country : but the sinner, whoever, or wherever he be, if he call upon the saving name of Jesus, is heard, pardoned, and accepted, upon the terms of the evangelical covenant.
6. Give ear, O LORD, unto my prayer and attend to the voice of my supplications. 7. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.
In confidence of an "answer," nourished and strengthened by all the foregoing considerations, the suppliant renews his prayer while the "day of trouble" lasts; and that day will not end but with this mortal pilgrimage; since he who loves his country, will ever be uneasy, while he is detained among strangers and enemies, perils and temptations. But the trouble is overpaid with profit, which rendereth us adepts in the practice of devotion, which convinceth us that we are abroad, and maketh us to wish and sigh for our true and only home.
8. Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O LORD; neither are there any works like unto thy works.
Another reason why application should be made unto Jehovalı, is his infinite superiority over all those, that by infatuated men, were even called "gods." From the ancient idolatry, which taught adoration to the sun, moon, and stars, to the light and the
air, we have been delivered by the gospel; nor do we any longer profess to worship Jupiter, and the other heathen gods and goddesses: but do not many still trust in idols? and have they not, in effect, other objects of worship, from whose hands they expect their reward? Are not the hearts of the covetous, the ambitious, the voluptuous, so many temples of Mammon, or Plutus; of Jupiter, or Mars; of Bacchus, Comus, and Venus? But what are these deities; what is their power; and what are their gifts? What is the whole world and all that is therein, when compared with its Maker and Redeemer? what is it, when applied to, for the ease and comfort of a wounded spirit ?" Among the gods there is none like unto thee, O LORD; neither are there any works like unto thy works!"
9. All nations whom thou hast made, shall come and worship before thee, O LORD, and shall glorify thy name.
The Psalmist predicteth, that this superiority of Jehovah should one day be acknowledged throughout all the earth, when “neither in Jerusalem only, nor the mount of the Samaritans," but in every place, "should men worship the Father;" John iv. 21. when he who "made all nations" by his Son, should by that Son redeem all nations, bringing them from the world to the church, there to "worship before the true God, and in songs of praise to glorify his holy name." If in these our times, we behold the nations again falling away from God, departing from the purity of their faith, and leaving their first love, let us comfort ourselves with looking forward to that scene of things described by St. John, in which we hope to bear a part hereafter. "I beheld, and lo, a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation unto our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb," Rev. vii. 9.
10. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.
"Great" is Jehovah in his power, in his wisdom, in his mercy: wonderful in the creation of the world, wonderful in the preservation and the government of it, wonderful in its redemption; wonderful in the carnation, life, death, resurrection, and ascen sion of Jesus, in the descent of the Spirit, the propagation of the gospel, the sufferings of saints, and the conversion of sinners; most wonderful will he be, when he shall raise the dead, judge the world, condemn the wicked, and glorify the