Page images

sidered as real PREDICTIONS of the events; they being dictated by the inspiration of him who can dcciare the end from the beginning.

Extract from Bishop HORNE's Preface to his Commen?



A WORK of the utmost importance still remains, which is the business of Theology to undertake and exeoute ; since, with respect to the Old Testament, and the Psalter more,especially, a person may attain a critical and grammatical knowledge of them, and yet.continue a Jew, with a veil upon his heart; an utter stranger to that sense of the holy books, evidently intended, in such a variety of instances, to bear testimony to the Saviour of the world ; that sense, which is stiled, by the divines, the PROPHETICAL, EVANGELICAL, MYSTICAL, or sPI

RITUAL sense.

It may not be amiss, therefore, to run through the Psalter, and point out some of the more remarkable pas. sages, which are cited from thence by our Lord and his apostles, and applied to matters evangelical.

No sooner have we opened the book, but the second Psalm presenteth itself, to all appearance, as an inaugu. ration hymn, composed by David, the anointed of Jehovah, when by him crowned with victory, and placed trium, phant on the sacred bill of Sion. But let us turn to Acts iv. 25. and there we find the apostles, with one voice, declaring the psalm to be descriptive of the exaltation of Jesus Christ, and of the opposition raised against his gospel, both by Jew and Gentile.

In the eighth Psalm we imagi..e the writer to be setting forth the pre-eminence of man in general, above the rest of the creation; but by Heb. ii. 6. we are informed that the supremacy conferred on the second Acum, the man Christ Jesus, over all things in heaven and earth, is the *subject there treated of.

St. Peter stands up, Acts ii, 25. and preaches the resurrection of Jesus from the latter part of the sixteenth Psaim; and lo, three thousand souls are converted by the şerino).

Of the eighteenth Psalm we are told, in the course of the sacred history, 2 Sam. 22. that “ David spake before the Lord the words of that song, in the day that the Lord delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul." Yet in Rom. 15, 9. the 50th verse of that Psalm is adduced as a proof, that, " the Gentiles should glorify God for his mercy in Jesus « Christ, as it is written, for this cause will I confess to “ thee among the Gentiles and sing unto thy name.”

In the nineteenth Psalm, David seems to be speaking of the material heavens and their operations only, when he

says, 66 Their sound is gone out into all the earth, and t their words unto the ends of the world." But St. Paul, Rom. 10, 18. quotes the passage to shew, that the gospel had been universally published by the apostles.

The twenty-second Psalin Christ appropriated to himself, by beginning it in the midst of his suffering on the 'cross, My God, my God,” &c. Three other verses of it are in the New Testament, applied to him; and the words of the 8th verse were actually used by the chief priests when they reviled him ; «He trusted in God," &c. Matt. 27. 43.

When David saith in the fortieth Psalm, « Sacrifice " and offering thou didst not desire-Lo I come to do 6 thy will :" we might suppose him only to declare, in his own person that obedience is better than sacrifice. But from Heb. 10. 5. we learn, that Messiah, in that place, speaketh of his advent in the flesh, to abolish the legal sacrifices, and to do away sin, by the oblation of himself, once for all.

That tender and pathetic complaint, in the forty-first Psalm, “ Mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted,

which did eat of my bread, hath lift up his heel against 6 me,” undoubtedly might be, and probably was, origi. nally uttered by David, upon the revolt of his old friend and counsellor, Ahitophel, to the party of his rebellious son, Absalom. But we are certain, from John 13. 18. that this scripture was fulfilled, when Christ was betrayed by his apostate disciple I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen ; but that the scriptures may be fulfilled, he that eateth bread with me, hath lift up his heel against me.”

The forty-fourth Psalm we must suppose to have been


written on occasion of a persecution under which the .church at that time laboured; but a verse of it is cited, Rom. 8. 36. as expressive of what Christians were to suffer, on their blessed master's account;

as it is writ. ten, for thy sake are we killed all the day long; we

counted as sheep appointed to be slain.” A quotation from the forty-fifth Psalm in Heb. 1. 8. Certifies us, that the whole is addr sed to the Son of God, and therefore celebrates his spiritual union with the church, and the happy fruits of it.

The sixty-eighth Psalm, though apparently conversant about Israelitish victories, the translation of the ark to Zion, and the services of the tabernacle, yet does, under those figures, treat of Christ's resurrection, his going up on high, leading captivity captive, pouring out the gifts of the Spirit, erecting his church in the world, and enlarging it by the accession of the nations to the faith ; as will be evident to any one who considers the force and consequence of the apostles citation from it, Eph. 4. 7, 8. « Unto every one of us is given grace, according to “ the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, 6 when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, « and gave gifts unto men.”

The sixty-ninth Psalm is five times referred to in the gospels, as being uttered by the prophet, in the person of Messiah. The imprecations or rather predictions, at the latter end of it, are applied, Rom. 11. 9, 10. to the Jews, and to Judas, Acts 1. 20. where the 109 Psalm is also cited as prophetical of the sore judgments which should befal that arch traitor, and the wretched nation, of which he was an epitome.

St. Matthew, inforining us, chap. 13. 34. that Jesus spake to the muititude in parables, gives it as one reason why he did so, “ that it migat be fulfilled which was spo6 ken by the prophet ; Psalm '78. 2. I will open my « mouth in a parable : I will utter things which have been skept sccret from the foundation of the world.”

The ninety-first Psalm was applied, by the tempter, to Messiah : lor did our Lord object to the application, but only to the false inference, which bus adversary suggested from it, Matt. 4. 6, 7.

The ninety-fifth Psalm is explained at large in Heb. 3. 4. as relative to the state and trial of Christians in the world, and to their attainment of the heavenly rest.,

The hundred and tenth' Psalm is cited by Christ hifirself, Matt. 22. 44. as treating of his exaltation, kingdom, and priesthood.

The hundred and seventeenth Psalm, consisting only of two verses, is employed, Rom. 15. 11. to prove that the Gentiles were one day to praise God for the mercies of redemption.

Tire 22d verse of the hundred and eighteenth Psalm, “ The stone which the builders refused,” &c. is quoted six different times as spoken of our Saviour.

And lastly, “ the fruit of David's body," which God is said in the hundred and thirty second Psalm, to have prom. ised that he would “place upon his throne,” is asserted. Acts 2. 30. to be Jesus Christ.

These citations, lying dispersed through the scriptures of the New Testament, are often suffered by common readers to pass unnoticed. And many others content themselves with saying, that tiey are made in a sense of accommodation; as passéges may be quoted from poems or histories merely tumult, for the illustration of truths of which their author's never thought.

But not to eliquire, at present, whether passages are not sometimes cited in this manner, surely no one can attentively review the above collection of New Testament citations from the book of Psalms, as they have been placed together before him, without perceiving, that the Psalms are written upon a divine, preconcerted, prophetical plan, and contain much more, than, at first sighi, they appear to do. The are beautiful without, but all glorious within, like “ apples of yold in pictures, or netl-work cases of silver.” Prov. 25.11. The brightness of the casket attracts our attention, till, through it, upon a nearer approach, wè discover its contents. And then, indeed, it may be said to have “no glory, by rcason of the glory that so far excellett." Very delightful and profitable they are, in their literal and historical sense, which weil repayeth all the pains taken to come at it. But that once obtained, a farther scene begins to open upon us, and all the blessings of the gospel present themselves to the eye of faith. So that the expositor is as a traveller'ascending an eminence, neither unfruitful, nor unpleasant; at the top of which when he is arrived, he beholds, like Moses froni the sunmit of mount Nebo, a more lovely and extensive prospect lying beyond it, and stretching away to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills. He sees vallies covered over with corn, blooming gardens, and verdant meadows, with flocks and herds feeding by rivers of water: till, ravished with the sight, he cries out, as St. Peter did, at the view of his master's glory, “ It is good to be here !"

It is obvious, that every part of the Psalter, when explicated according to this scriptural and primitive method is rendered universally “profitable for doctrine, for re“proof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness ;" and the propriety immediately appears of its having always been used in the devotional way, both by the Jewish and the Christian church. With regard to the Jews, bishop Chandler very pertinently remarks, that “ they “ must have understood David their prince to liave been " a figure of Messiah. They would not otherwise have o made bis Psalms part of their daily worship, nor would 66 David have delivered them to the church to be so em6 ployed, were it not to instruct and support them in the 6 knowledge and belief of this fundamental article. Was « the Messias not concerned in the Psalms, it were ab“surd to celebrate, twice a day in their public devotions, " the events cf one man's life, who was deceased so long

ago, as to have no relation now to the Jews, and the « circumstances of their affairs; or to transcribe whole

passages from them into their prayers for the coming of o the Messiah.” Upon the same principle, it is easily seen, that the objections, which may seem to lie against the use of Jewish services in Christian congregations,

Thus, it may be said, Are we concerned with the affairs of David and of Israel? Have we any thing to sło with the ark and the temple? They are no

Are we to go up to Jerusalem and to worship on Sion? They are desolated, and trodden under foot by thi Turks. Are we to sacrifice young bullocks, accord-ing to the law? The law is abolished, never to be observed again. Po we pray for victory over Moab, Edom, and Philistia ; or for deliverance fiom Babylon? There are no such nations, no such places in the world. What then do we mean, when, taking such expressions into our mouths, we utter then in our own persons, as parts of our devotions, before God? Assuredly we must mean


cease at once.


« PreviousContinue »