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delineations of man, or its elevated descriptions of God-whether we mourn with the afflicted Psalmist over his sins, or listen to the cheering strains which mark the rejoicing of the son of Jesse, reconciled to his God and Lord-we may well say with a late most learned commentator, "I know nothing like the book of Psalms, it contains all the lengths, breadths, depths and heights of the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations." The Psalmist seems to have been permitted to experience every vicissitude of human life, that every believer might find instruction in his recorded sentiments; and while the response of conscience, and the sigh of contrition, prove that in all ages human nature has been the same weak victim to vice and to temptation, the awakened faith of the Jewish Monarch, and the promises which elevate his hopes, have been the source of spiritual consolation and rejoicing in every age to every member of the Redeemer's kingdom. Writing under the influence of intense personal feeling, the Psalmist's joys and sorrows, backslidings and repentance, consolation and triumph, find a counterpart in every believer's bosom, and form the incentive and the material for personal devotion; while through his Divine antitype he becomes the representative of the Church,
and his sacred strains have been consecrated to the public service of that Church, since first inspired by the Being who is their mighty subject. Nor is it only as a code of instruction, a manual of devotion, or a record of experience, that the Psalms of David are valuable-they contain too a development of God's eternal wisdom-a display of his redeeming mercy-a manifestation of the incarnate Saviour:-" the man of God" could not "be perfect," if this, the brightest disclosure of God's goodness were not set before him, and we know that the "Son of Jesse, the man who was raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, hath said, the Spirit of Jehovah spake by me, and his word was in my tongue."-Hence, the mysteries of redemption form a large proportion of this book-sometimes typical and figurative, concealing under the name and offices of David, the nature and character of him, who was both "the root and the offspring of David," and under the literal Israel, the sufferings and elevation of the spiritual—sometimes throwing aside the mystic veil which shrouds the councils of the Godhead, and admitting the awe-struck inquirer to a nearer view of the stupendous plan for man's redemption; and sometimes involving the same inscrutable designs in mysterious
union with rite and ceremony, and type and figure, with allusion to passing occurrences, and appeals to national feeling, so that it becomes difficult to trace the footsteps of prophecy through the strain of inspiration, or to mark the limit between what is merely literal and what is strictly prophetical. In the first species of composition, the mode of interpretation which the Apostle to the Galatians applies to History, may fairly be extended to the sacred poet, nor “is there” says Bishop Horseley, “ a single page in which the pious reader will not find his Saviour, if he read to find him." "David's complaints, are those of the Messiah-David's afflictions, are Messiah's sufferings-David's penitential supplications, are the supplications of Messiah in agony-David's songs of triumph and thanksgiving, are Messiah's songs for victory over sin, and death, and hell"-and under the public history of Israel, its reverses, its sufferings, its final elevation, the fortunes, the persecution, the glories of the Church of God, are not obscurely intimated. In the latter species, when the Prophet rises with his mighty theme, he throws off the encumbrance of type and figure, and in that drama, which in its period includes all time, and in its place the illimitable universe, he introduces with mighty daring as the specta
tors and the actors, the eternal Godhead, the incarnate Son, the Church militant on Earth, the Church triumphant in Heaven, and Angels, the ministers of his will, who wait to do his bidding. Of this sacred and unambiguous style, the second, the forty-fifth, parts of the twentyfourth and sixty-eighth Psalms, and the Psalm before us, are splendid specimens; unequalled, perhaps, but by the strains of the evangelical Isaiah, or the sublimer visions of the Apocalyptic prophecy. Among the more involved examples of direct prediction, other parts of the twenty-fourth and sixty-eighth Psalms may be enumerated, which in addition to the difficulties inherent in the nature of prophecy, present others, from the guise in which the Holy Spirit has been pleased to clothe its visions; seizing on the occurrences of a great religious solemnity, and rendering it not easy to mark the boundary between the scene present to the Prophet's eye, and that which was but impressed upon his enraptured fancy. It may, indeed, be said in general, that the prophetic is in its nature more obscure than the historical Psalm, as resulting from immediate inspiration, which presents to the eye of the Prophet, shifting and varying visions, whose change is not always perceptible, or succession always to be traced; but it may be re
marked that this difficulty is diminished, and the unity of these sacred songs, their connexion and coherence then best observed and made apparent, when the reader or the commentator seeks in them for the development of the Divine attributes in the dealings of God with his people, and sees in the intellectual and moral creation, Jesus Christ "who filleth all in all."
The Psalm to which I would now call your attention, has long been the source of joy and edifying to the Christian world.-Consecrated by the Church to the solemn service of the Nativity, by it have the pious for ages solemnized their devotions, and addressed as their God the Lord of David-none of the sacred collection seems to have been so frequently quoted by the inspired writers of the New Testament; by its well-known application to the Messiah, were the Pharisees confounded by our Lord; by it were the fears awakened and the faith confirmed, of the multitude to whom Peter preached on the day. of Pentecost, and from it did the Apostle to the Hebrews draw his decisive proof, that the Messiah was far exalted above the Angelic host, for "to which of the Angels said he at any time, sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?" That the