Page images

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 provided for the raven his food? When his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat;" 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;
See the light tenants of the barren air;
To them, nor stores, nor granaries belong,
Nought but the woodland, and the pleasing song;
Yet, your kind heav'nly Father bends his eye
On the least wing that flits along the sky.
To him they sing, when spring renews the plain,
To him they cry, in winter's pinching reign;
Nor is their music nor their plaint in vain :
He hears the gay, and the distressful call,
And with unsparing bounty fills them all.
Will he not care for you, ye faithless, say?
Is he unwise? Or, are ye less than they?


10. He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not plea. sure 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," 1 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 vouchsafed 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 indefeasible 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 melteth 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 God 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 his 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; 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 warmed, 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.



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 valleys, 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. 11. 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 gloryfying

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 many 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 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 everything new before them; all these have their several reasons

* 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 nôrunt, qui Evangelium nunquam audiverunt; e quo maxima Dei laudes efflorescunt. Clericus in loc.

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 ye 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.



BEGIN, my soul, th' exalted lay,
Let each enraptur'd thought obey,

And praise th' Almighty's name,
Lo! heaven and earth, and seas and skies,
In one melodious concert rise.

To swell th' inspiring theme.
Ye fields of light, celestial plains,
Where gay transporting beauty reigns,
Ye scenes divinely fair;
Your Maker's wond'rous power proclaim,
Tell how he form'd your shining frame,
And breath'd the fluid air.


Ye angels, catch the thrilling sound;
While all th' adoring thrones around
His boundless mercy sing;
Let every list'ning saint above
Wake all the tuneful soul of love,
And touch the sweetest string.

Join, ye loud spheres, the loud vocal choir;
Thou, dazzling orb of liquid fire,

The mighty chorus aid:

Soon as grey ev'ning gilds the plain,
Thou, moon, protract the melting strain,
And praise him in the shade.

Thou heav'n of heav'ns, his vast abode;
Ye clouds, proclaim your forming God,
Who call'd yon worlds from night;
"Ye shades, dispel!"-th' Eternal said;
At once th' involving darkness fled,
And nature sprung to light.
Whate'er a blooming world contains,
That wings the air, that skims the plains,

United praise bestow:

Ye dragons, sound his awful name
To heaven aloud; and roar acclaim,
Ye swelling deeps below.

Let every element rejoice:
Ye thunders, burst with awful voice
To him who bids you roll:

[blocks in formation]



The children of Zion are excited, 1-3. to rejoice, and sing the praises of their King, on account, 4. of the salvation which he has always wrought for them, and which will hereafter be completed in them, when, 5. they shall enter

into his rest, and, 6–9. triumph with him over the persecuting powers of the world, and all the opposers of Christ, on whom will then be executed the judgment written. The Jews, mistaking, as usual, the time, place, and nature of Messiah's glorious kingdom, imagine this Psalm will receive its accomplishment, by their being made rulers of the nations, and lords of all things here below.

"1. Praise ye the LORD. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise in the congregation of saints. 2. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him : let the children of Zion be joyful in their King. 3. Let them praise his name in the dance let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and the harp."

Christians are now the people, to whom belong the names and characters of "saints, Israel, and children of Zion."-They "sing" this holy "song," as the Psalmist hath enjoined them to do. They sing it "new" in its evangelical sense, as new men, celebrating new victories, new and greater mercies, a spiritual salvation, an eternal redemption. They " rejoice" with hearts, voices, instruments, and every other token of joy in him who hath made," or created them again, in righteousness and true holiness; they are "joyful in their King," who hath himself overcome, and is now leading them on to final conquest and triumph, to honour and immortality.

“4. For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the the meck with salvation. 5. The saints* shall be joyful with glory; they shall sing aloud upon their beds, or, places of rest."

Such pleasure" the King of Zion taketh in his people, that he hath not disdained to become like one of them; to partake of their flesh and blood, and to give them his Spirit; he was made man, to purchase them by his death; and, as a man, he is gone into heaven, to prepare a place for them. From thence he will return, to "beautify the meek with salvation," and place on the heads of his true disciples, the lowly, patient, and peaceable ones, a bright and incorruptible crown. Therefore are "the saints joyful in glory, they sing aloud;" in a state of perfect ease and security, resting from their labours, but not from their hallelujahs.

“6. The high praises of God in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand: 7. To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; 8. To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; 9. To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD."

To those, who are SAINTS indeed, and who are acquainted with the genuine spirit of the Gospel, how obvious is it, that the scene, of which we have here a prophetical exhibition, is one that cannot take place till after the resurrection, because the followers of the Lamb have certainly nothing to do with vengeance in this world, though they are to judge, not only men, but angels in the next, 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3.; when they shall be called up to sit on thrones, as assessors at the condemnation of their once insulting persecutors, who will be cut asunder with the "two edged-sword," and bound with indissoluble "chains." Thus will be executed upon them the "eternal judgment written" and announced against the enemies of Messiah, in the Scriptures of truth. This honour will all his saints THEN have.



The Psalmist exhorteth men to praise Jehovah, 1. for his holiness and the firmament of his power, 2. for the wonders of his might, and for his excellent greatness, 3-5. with all kinds of music. 6. He concludeth his divine book

* In this verse the Hebrew verbs are in the future time. In the verse following, the original hath no verb at all. The liberty is therefore taken to render them accordingly.

« PreviousContinue »