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openeth the eyes of the blind; the miracle of restoring sight to men born blind being one reserved for the Son of God to work at his coming in the flesh. “Since the world began,” saith the man to whom sight had been thus restored,“ was it not heard, that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind,” John ix. 32. This therefore was the first of those tokens given by Jesus to the disciples of John, whereby it might be known that he was the expected Christ; “Go and tell John the things which ye have heard and seen ; The blind receive their sight," &c. But how did this evince him to be the Messiah ? Plainly, because it had been foretold by the prophets, (as in Isaiah xxxv. 5. xxix. 18. xlii. 18. so in this passage of our Psalm, which is exactly similar to those texts,) that Messiah, when he came, should give sight to the blini. Now, if one part of the Psalmist's description belong to Christ, the other members of it must do so likewise, it being evident that the whole is spoken of the same person. He, therefore, is the God of Jacob, who made heaven and earth, the sea, aud all that therein is; and upon his appearing among men in the body of our desh, he showed himself possessed of power to relieve all the wants, corporeal and spiritual, of poor lost mankind. When he rescued men from the bondage of Satan, he executed judgment for the oppressed; when he fed thousands by a miracle, or when he preached the word to such as desired to hear and receive it, he gave food to the hungry; when, by pardon and grace, he released those who were bound with the chains of their sins, he loosed the prisoners : when he poured light into the sightless eye-ball, or illuminated with saving knowledge the understanding of the ignorant, he opened the eyes of the blind: when he made the crooked woman straight, or rectified the obliquity of a depraved will, he raised those that were bowed down: while he protecteth, and guideth to the city of their eternal habitation the sons of Adam, who are exiles, pilgrims, and sojourners upon earth, he preserveth the strangers; when he became a husband to the church, and a parent to her destitute children, he relieved the fatherless and widow: and when he shall come in his glorious majesty, to reward his servants, and to confound their enemies, it will be seen how he loveth the righteous, and turneth the way of the wicked upside down. Happy the people of such a God; happy the subjects of such a King! Rejoice, and sing, and shout aloud; for lo,
10. The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, o Zion, unta all generations. Praise yc the LORD.
DAY XXX EVENING PRAYER. PSALM CXLVII.
A R G U M E N T. It hath been conjectured, from ver. 2. that this Psalm was writ.
ten to celebrate the return of Israel from Babylon, when Jerusalem and the temple were rebuilt. 1-3. The people of God are exhorted to praise him for the mercies vouchsafed to them; for 6. for his wisdom, power, and goodness; 7–9. for his providential care, and, 10, 11. the wonderful salvation wrought by his arm; 12-14. for the security, increase, and prosperity of the church; 15-18. for the happy change of her condition, like that produced in nature, when spring succeeds to winter; 19, 20. and for the glorious privilege of the divine word, revealed and committed to her.
1. Praise ye the Lord: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant ; and praise is comely.
Praise is good and acceptable to God our Saviour, whose glory is the great end of man's creation and redemption: and it is pleasant and comely for man, being the only return he can make for those, and all other mercies; the offspring of gratitude, and the expression of love; the elevation of the soul, and the antepast of heaven: its own reward in this life, and an introduction to the felicities of the next.
2. The LORD doth build up Jerusalem : he gathereth together the outcasts of Israel.
If this Psalm were written on occasion of the return from Ba. bylon, and the rebuilding of the earthly city, the ideas are to be transferred, as in other Psalms of the same kind, to a more important restoration from a much worse captivity, and to the building up of the church under the Gospel, when Christ“ gathered to gether in one the children of God that were scattered abroad;" John xi. 52. that is, in the words of our Psalm, he gathered toge ther the outcasts of Israel. So shall he again, at the resurrection, “ gather together his elect from the four winds,” Matt. xxiv. 31. and build up a Jerusalem, in which they shall serve and praise him for ever.
3. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.
The broken hearts and wounded spirits of the Israelites were healed and made whole, when they returned to their own land, when they beheld Jerusalem rising again in beauteous majesty, and sung the songs of Zion in the courts of the temple. Thus Christ came “to preach deliverance to the captives, and to bind up the
broken-hearted;" Isai. Ixi. 1. Luke iv. 18. to speak pardon and peace to the wounded and contrite spirit, and to put a new song of thanksgiving in the mouth of the penitent, which he might sing, when restored to the holy city, and the house of his heavenly Father. The hour is coming, when God shall heal the breaches which death has made in the bodies of his people, and translate them likewise from Babylon to Jerusalem.
4. He telleth the number of the stars ; he calleth them all by their names.
And he who does this, cannot be ignorant of the situation and circumstances of his elect. He knoweth each individual, and numbereth all the atoms which go to the composition of his frame. He can call his saints from the depths of earth and sea, by their names, as when once he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth; and he can fix them in radiant circles round his throne in the kingdom of glory, vying, for multitude as well as splendour, with those bright orbs which glitter by night in the spangled firmament of heaven; so that what Baruch saith of the stars, may well be applied to the seed of Abraham, of whom it was foretold, that they should equal the stars in number; Gen. xv. “The stars shine in their watches, and rejoice; when he calleth them, they say, Here we be; and so with cheerfulness they show light unto him that made them." Baruch iii. 34.
5. Great is our Lord, and of great power : his understanding is infinite : Heb. of his understanding there is no number, or, computation
This is a proper conclusion drawn from the former part of the Psalm, and especially from the preceding verse. The greatness of God's power, which overcometh all difficulties to effect the salvation of his people, is not to be grasped by the human mind; and that wisdom which numbers the stars of heaven, and the sand of the sea, and the generations of the sons of Abraham, can itself be subject to the rules of no arithmetic.
6. The Lord lifteth up the meck: he caslcth the wicked down to the ground.
To exalt and reward the humble penitent, believing, and obedient; to depress and punish the proud, impenitent, unbelieving, and disobedient; these are the measures and ends of all the divine dispensations. And as man ranks himself in one or other of these two divisions, he may expect from heaven storm or sunshine, mercy or judgment.
7. Sing unto the Lord wilh thanksgiving : sing praise upon the harp unto our God: 8. Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains. 9. He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.
The faithful praise God for his goodness to the animal world, both on account of that goodness in itself, and also because they behold therein an emblem and assurance of his mercy to themselves. The watchful care of Providence over all creatures speaks the same language to us, which Jehovah made use of to Joshua, and which the apostle hath applied to Christians; “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” Josh. i. 5. Heb. xü. 5. He who, by sending rain on the mountains, which could not otherwise be watered, provideth food for the wild beasts inhabiting those mountains, will never leave the lambs of his flock destitute. And he who feedeth the young of the unclean raven, when they cry, and, as it were in their way, call upon him for a supply of their wants, will he in the day of dearth and calamity forsake the meek and harmless dove, that mourneth continually in prayer before him? The desponding servant of God need only therefore put to himself the question which we find asked by the Creator, in the book of Job, Chap. xxxviii. 41. “ Who provideth for the raven his food? When his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meet;" they wander and find it. Our Lord pressed this argument on his disciples; Luke xii. 24. “ Consider the ravens;" Matt. vi. 26. “ Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”
Behold, and look away your low despair :
10. He delighteth not in the strength of the horse : he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man. 11. The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.
If, therefore, the inference deduced above be a just one, namely, that God, who takes care of the wild beasts, and the birds of
the air, will support and defend his church, then however weak she may be, and however strong her adversaries may be, yet she may rest secure, as having him on her side, to whom it is equal to save by many or by few; who giveth not the victory to the pomp and pride of carnal strength, to thousands, or ten thousands, but to those who fear him, and hope in his mercy. The history of Israel is one continual exemplification of this truth; and in our spiritual warfare, “ this is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith,” John v. 4.
12. Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem : praise thy God, o Zion. 13. For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates : he hath blessed thy children within thee. 14. He maketh peace in thy borders, and filleth thee with the finest of the wheat.
The church, like Jerusalem of old, erected and preserved by the wisdom, and power, and goodness of God, is exhorted to praise him for all the benefits and blessings wouchsafed unto her; for the increase of her children within her; for the peace which she at any time enjoyeth in her borders, while she is here below; for the plentiful provision made by her pastors, to satisfy the needs of those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; and for the protection of the Almighty, strengthening the bars of her gates, and securing to her the possession of all these comforts; which, in the heavenly Jerusalem, shall be rendered perfect and indefeisible for evermore.
15. He sendeth forth his commandment upon earth : his word runneth very swiftly. 16. He giveth snow like wool : he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. 17. He casteth forth his ice like morsels ; who can stand before his cold? 18. He sendeth out his word, and melleth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow. The wonders of nature represent to us the miracles of grace,
and the change of seasons produceth not greater alterations in the world, than those which take place in the church, when her Gud hideth from her, or restoreth to her, the light of his countenance, which, like its emblem, the bright ruler in the heavens, at its departure leaves winter behind it; and brings the spring with it at its return. “ The sun," says Bishop Sherlock, “is the great spirit of the world, in the light of which all things are made to rejoice; perpetual spring attends bis course; all things revive at his approach, and put on a new face of youth and beauty; winter and frost lag behind him; nature grows deformed, and sickens at his departure," Disc. Vol. V. p. 88. What the sun is to the world, the same is Christ to the church. When the heart of man turns away from him, and deprives itself of his gracious illumination; when ignorance succeeds to knowledge, that is, darkness to light;