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of trumpets, was a statute law, or testimony, ordained in Joseph, or Israel, by God himself, after he had destroyed the Egyptians, and brought his people into the wilderness, where the law was given. Concerning the words, "I heard a language that I understood not," it is difficult to account for the change of person; but the sense seems to be, that the children of Israel received the law when they had been in bondage under a people of strange and barbarous language, or dialect. The passage is exactly parallel to that in Ps. cxiv. 1. "When Israel went out of Egypt, and the house of Jacob from a people of strange language;" &c. The new law, with its sacraments and ordinances, was promulged after the spiritual redemption by Christ, as the old law, with its rites and ceremonies, was published after the temporal deliverance by Moses.
6. I removed his shoulder from the burthen: his hands were delivered from the pots.
From this verse to the end, it is plain that God is the speaker. He reminds Israel of their redemption by his mercy and power, from the burthens and the drudgery imposed on them in Egypt. Moses describeth their then state of servitude by saying, "The Egyptians made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field;" Exod. i. 14. that is, probably, in making vessels of clay, as this verse seems to imply. Let us remember that we have been eased of far heavier burthens, delivered from severer taskmasters, and freed from a baser drudgery; the intolerable load of sin, the cruel tyranny of Satan, the vile service and bitter bondage of concupis
7. Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee: I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah
God declares his readiness at all times to hear the prayers and relieve the distresses of his people, as he did when they cried unto him in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and received answers from the cloudy pillar. In that deep recess he had fixed his awful throne, and from thence on proper occasions he manifested his power and glory, protecting Israel, and confounding their adversaries. In Ps. xxix. 6. it is said of "Moses, Aaron," &c. "They called upon the Lord, and he answered them: he spake unto them in the cloudy pillar;" which passage seems exactly parallel to that in the verse under consideration-" Thou calledst, and— I answered thee in the secret place of thunder." He who spake
unto Israel in the cloudy pillar, hath since spoken to us by his Son: he who "proved them at the waters of Meribah," Exod. xvii. 6, 7. now proves us by various trials in the world.
8. Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me; 9. There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god. 10. I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.
God here addresseth himself to the Israelites, putting them in remembrance of that first and great commandment against idolatry; of his claim to their obedience, as their God and Saviour; and of his being both able and willing to satisfy the utmost desires and wishes of such as would apply to Him for blessing and comfort. Behold, then, the rebellion, the ingratitude, and the folly of that man, who saith to any creature, "Thou art my God;" who bestoweth on the world that fear, love, and adoration, which are due only to its Creator and Redeemer; who wasteth his days in seeking after happiness, where all, by their inquietude, acknowledge, that it is not to be found.
11. But my people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me. 12. So I gave them up unto their own heart's lust: and they walked in their own counsels.
By the subject of an earthly prince, it is justly deemed a great honour for his sovereign to converse with him, to counsel and advise him: but from sinful dust and ashes, we hear the majesty of heaven complaining, that he cannot obtain an audience; no one will attend to, or observe his salutary admonitions. When we see men enabled, by wealth and power, to accomplish the inordinate desires of their hearts, and carry their worldly schemes into execution, without meeting with any obstructions in their way, we are apt to envy their felicity: whereas such prosperity in wickedness is the surest mark of divine displeasure, the heaviest punishment of disobedience, both in individuals and communities. "My people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me: so I gave them up unto their own heart's lust: and they walked in their own counsels."
13. O that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my mays. 14. I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.
Such are the tender inercies of our God, that he is not only careful to provide for us the means of salvation, but represents himself as mourning with a paternal affection over his children, when their frowardness and obstinacy disappoint the efforts fo his love.
One cannot help observing the similitude between the complaint here uttered, and one which hath been since breathed forth over the same people; "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not !”
15. The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him ; or, should have failed, or, been subdued to him ; but their time, i. e. the time of his people, should have endured for ever.
The transgressions of the church give her enemies all their power against her, calling the avenger from afar, and setting an edge on the sword of the persecutor. "Where the carcase is," where the Spirit of religion is depatred, and has left the body to corrupt and decay," there the eagles are gathered together:" all the instruments of vengeance, terrestrial and infernal, flock, by permission, to the prey. Had not this been the case with regard to Israel, Jerusalem had continued to be, through all ages, what she was in the days of Solomon, the delight of the nations, and the joy of the whole earth.
16. He should have fed them also with the finest of the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.
That is, the Israelites, if obedient, would still have enjoyed the sweets of that good land in which the Lord their God had placed them, where the fruits of the earth were produced in the highest perfection, and honey streamed from the very rocks, so that no part of the country was without its increase. Upon the same conditions of faith and obedience, do Christians hold those spiritual and eternal good things, of which the pleasant fields and fertile hills of Canaan were sacramental. Christ is the “bread” of life, he is the "rock" of salvation, and his promises are as “honey” to pious minds. But they who reject him, as their Lord and Master, must also lose him, as their Saviour and their Reward
EVENING PRAYER. PSALM LXXXII.
The Psalmist addresseth himself to judges and magistrates: 1. he remindeth them of the presence of that God whom they represent, and to whom they are accountable; 2-4. he exhorteth them to the due discharge of their office; 5. reproveth the ignorance and corruption among them; 6, 7. threateneth their fall and punishment; 8. prayeth for the manifestation of Messiah, and the establishment of his righteous kingdom.
1. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty: he judgeth among gods.
Earthly judicatories are the appointment of God. All magistrates act in his name, and by virtue of his commission. He is invisibly present in their assemblies, and superintends their proceedings. He receives appeals from their wrongful decisions; he will one day rehear all causes at his own tribunal, and reverse every iniquitous sentence, before the great congregation of men and angels. Unjust judges must either disbelieve or forget all this. God is, in like manner, present to the heart of each individual; he is privy to the various reasonings and pleadings of grace and nature, of principal and interest, in that lesser court; and he is a witness of its determinations; which also will by him be manifested to the world, and openly canvassed, when he sitteth in judgment.
2. How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? 3. Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. 4. Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.
A charge is here given, by the Spirit of God to all magistrates, much like that which king Jehoshaphat gave to his judges; 2 Chron. xix. 6, 7. "Take heed what ye do; for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you, take heed, and do it for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts." It is the glory of Jehovah and his Christ to accept no man's person" in judgment; to regard neither the quality nor the station of the offender; but to give to every man, of whatever rank or degree in the world, according to his works. All the sons of Adam were once 66 poor and fatherless, needy and afflicted," when God took their cause into his own hands, and by a method consistent with the strictest justice," delivered them out of the hand of the wicked one." Every oppressor of the poor is a likeness of " that wicked one," and every upright judge will endeavour to resemble the Redeemer. For this purpose he will be always willing to admit, diligent to discuss, 80licitous to expedite the cause of a poor and injured person, and to afford such a one the speediest, the cheapest, and the most effectual redress, equally contemning the offers of opulence and the frowns of power. A judge, who acts in this manner, takes the readiest way to obtain the favour of God; and the people will be sure to bless him.
5. They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness; all the foundations of the earth, or, the land, are out of course; or, nod, or, shake.
We here find the prophet deploring, in magistrates, a method
of proceeding contrary to that above described. He laments their voluntary ignorance in the ways of righteousness, and their choosing to "walk in darkness." In judges this is occasioned by "presents and gifts," which, as saith the son Sirach, "blind the eyes of the wise," Ecclus. xx. 29. And if once the "pillars" and "foundations" are moved from their integrity, and "shaken" to and fro by every blast of fear and favour, what shall become of the political fabric erected upon them? Verily it must fall, and great and terrible will be the fall thereof. A community, whether ecclesiastical or civil, consisteth of great numbers; but its well-being dependeth on a few, in whose hands the administration is placed. When the salt hath lost its savour, the mass must putrify; when the light becometh darkness, how great must be that darkness!
6. I have said, ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High. 7. But yc shall dic like men, or, Adam, and fall like one of the princes.
It is true then that magistrates are exalted above other men; that they are dignified with a commission from above; appointed to be the vicegerents of heaven upon earth; and therefore called by the name of him in whose name they act. But it is likewise as true, that notwithstanding all this honour conferred upon them, for the good of others and of themselves, if they use it aright, they still continue to be the mortal sons of mortal Adam;" like him, they must fall and perish; God can, at any time, cast them down from their high estate, as he did the heathen
princes," who misbehaved themselves, and opposed his counsels: death certainly will strip them of all their authority, and lay them low in the grave; from thence the last trumpet shall call them forth, to stand, with the rest of their brethren, before the judgment-seat of Christ, there to take their trial, and receive their everlasting sentence. How necessary oftentimes is this consideration, to check the spirit of tyranny and injustice, to qualify the pride and insolence of office!
8. Arise, O God, judge the earth; for thou shalt inherit all nu
A view of that disorder and confusion in which frequently the Jewish nation, as well as the rest of the world was involved, caused the prophets most earnestly to wish and pray for the coming of that time, when "God" should" arise" in the person of Messiah, to visit and "judge the earth;" to deliver it from the powers of darkness, and the tyranny of sin; to "inherit all nations," as purchased and redeemed by him; to establish his