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when faith fails, and all its fair productions wither away; when the love of many is waxen cold, and the fertilizing streams of charity are frozen to the bottom; On the other hand, when God sendeth out his WORD, and melteth them; when he bloweth with his SPIRIT, and by these genial influences from above, the waters are made to flow; when faith revives, and shoots into vigour, and beauty, and fruitfulness; and when the hearts of men are warned, as well as their understandings illuminated; what is all this, but a winter, and a spring, like those which, in their turns, annually deform and renew the face of the earth, at the word and command of God, in either case, running swiftly, and operating efficaciously. 19. He showeth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. 20. He hath not dealt so with any nation: and as for his judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.
That word, the effects of which upon the spiritual system are similar to those experienced by nature in the vernal season; that word was showed unto Jacob, and became the property of Israel, while Israel continued to be the church of God. It hath since been made over, with all its types realized, and its prophecies accomplished, in Jesus, to the church Christian; it is that peculiar blessing which distinguishes her from the rest of the world, and for which her children are bound at all times to praise the Lord. PSALM CXLVIII.
All the creatures in the invisible and visible world are called upon by the Psalmist to unite in a grand chorus of praise and thanksgiving. The various parts are to be performed by, 1, 2. the angelic hosts: 3-6. the material heavens, and the luminaries placed in them; 7. the ocean, with its inhabitants; 8. the meteors of the air, 9. 10. the earth, as divided into hills and vallies, with the vegetables that grow out of it, and the animals that move upon or about it; 11-13, the human race of every degree, of each sex, and of every age; 14. more especially the Israel, or church of God.
1. Praise ye the LORD. Praise ye the LORD from the heavens: praise him in the heights. 2. Praise ye him, all ye angels, praise ye him, all his hosts.
When St. John saw in vision the King of glory seated on his throne, he tells us that he heard all the angels which stood around the throne, with the elders, and every creature in heaven, earth, and sea, lifting up their voices, and singing together a hymn of thanksgiving in honour of him. Such a choir we find here summoned by the inspired Psalmist, and exhorted to join and assist
him in praising the same divine Person, whom the elders in the Revelation declare "worthy to receive glory, and honour, and power," because he "created all things, and for his pleasure they are, and were created," Rev. v. 12. iv. ii. From the heavens and those unutterable heights, where hosts of immortal spirits, admitted to a sight of their King, enjoy unfading pleasures, the song is to begin. And when the strain is thus set by the celestial part of the choir, it is to be taken up, and echoed back, by the creatures of this lower world, animate and inanimate, which have all their several parts assigned them in the great works of glorifying their Creator.
3. Praise ye him, sun and moon: praise him, all ye stars of light. 4. Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. 5. Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created. 6. He hath also established them for ever and ever; he hath made a decree which shall not pass.
The material heavens, through all their various regions, with the luminaries placed in them, and the waters sustained by them, though they have neither speech nor language, and want the tongue of men, yet, by their splendour and magnificence, their motions and their influences, all regulated and exerted according to the ordinance of their Maker, do, in a very intelligible and striking manner declare the glory of God, they call upon us to translate their actions into our language, and copy their obedience in our lives; that so we may, both by word and deed, glorify with them the Creator and Redeemer of the universe.
7. Praise the LORD from the earth, ye dragons, or, whales, and all deeps:
From heaven above, the Psalmist descendeth to the deep beneath, which while it proclaims the power, observes the laws and decrees of him who made it, and poured it abroad. And the same may be said of its enormous inhabitants, which are under the command of Jehovah, and of none but him.
8. Fire, and hail; snow, and vapour : stormy wind, fulfilling his word. These are so may messengers, always ready to go forth at the command of the Most High, for the purposes of mercy or judgment. They praise and glorify God, after their manner, while they fulfil his word upon the earth.
9. Mountains, and all hills; fruitful trees, and all cedars: 10. Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl:
Who shall ever understand and comprehend all the wisdom of God displayed in the vegetable world, from the cedar to the hyssop in the animal, from the elephant to the pismire, from the eagle to the sparrow! The more we study them, the more we
shall find him glorified in them; and the more, on that account, will he be glorified by us.
11. Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: 12. Both young men and maidens; old men and children: 13. Let them praise the name of the LORD for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.*
After the whole creation hath been called upon to praise Jehovah; man, for whom the whole was made; man, the last and most perfect work of God; man, that hath been since redeemed by the blood of the Son of God incarnate, is exhorted to join and fill up the universal chorus of heaven and earth, as being connected with both worlds, that which now is, and that which is to come. Persons of every degree, of each sex, and of every age; kings, whose power God hath made an image of his own, and who are the suns of their respective systems; judges and magistrates of all kinds, who derive their power, as the moon and planets do their light, from its original source; young men and maidens, in the flower of health, strength, and beauty; old men, who have accomplished their warfare, and are going out of life; children, who are just come into it, and see every thing new before them; all these have their several reasons for "praising the Lord, whose name is excellent, and his glory above heaven and earth."
14. He also exalteth the horn of his people, the praise of all his saints, even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him. Praise the LORD.
As men above all other creatures, so above other men, the Israel of God, the people that are admitted to draw near unto him in his house, by faith and charity, by prayer and participation of the sacraments, are bound to praise him, who now exalteth them from sin to righteousness, and will hereafter exalt them from dust to glory
Since few of my readers may, perhaps, have met with a paraphrase on the foregoing Psalm, that has hitherto, I believe, only made its appearance in a periodical publication or two, I shall take the liberty to subjoin it, as a piece, which cannot but be acceptable to all true lovers of sacred poetry. It was written, as I have been lately informed, by the learned and ingenious Dr. OGILVIE, at sixteen years of age.
Nec ad solos Hebræos hæc pertinet adhortatio, sed ad omnes omnino homines estque adeo veluti proludium vocationis Gentilium. Deum enim laudare, ut par est, non possunt, qui eum non bene norunt; nec eum satis norunt, qui Evangelium nunquam audiverunt; equo maximæ Dei laudes efflorescunt. Clericus in loc.
BEGIN, my soul th' exalted lay,
And praise th' Almighty's name.
To swell th' inspiring theme.
Ye fields of light, celestial plains,
Your Maker's wond'rous power proclaim,
Ye angels, catch the thrilling sound;
His boundless mercy sing;
Let ev'ry list'ning saint above
And touch the sweetest string.
Join, ye loud spheres, the vocal choir;
The mighty chorus aid:
Soon as grey ev'ning gilds the plain,
Thou, moon, protract the melting strain,
Thou, heav'n of heav'ns, his vast abode;