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14. “We took sweet counsel together." It was not merely the counsel whichi men take together in public or upon common themes, their fellowship had been tender and confidential. The traitor had been treated lovingly, and trusted much. Solace, mutual and cheering, had grown out of their intimate communings. There were secrets between them of no common kind. Soul had been in converse with soul, at least on David's part. However feigned might have been the affection of the treacherous one, the betrayed friend had not dealt with him coldly, or guarded his utterance before him. Shame on the wretch who could belie such fellowship, and betray such confidence!“ An'l walkeil unto the house of God in company." Religion had rendered their intercourse sacred, they had mingled their worship, and communed on heavenly themes. If ever any bonds ought to be held inviolable, religious connections should be. There is a measure of impiety, of a detestable sort, in the deceit which debases the union of men who make professions of godliness. Shall the very altar of God be defiled with hypocrisy ? Shall the gatherings of the temple be polluted by the presence of treachery? All this was true of Ahithophel, and in a measure of Judas. His. union with the Lord was on the score of faith, they were joined in the holiest of enterprises, he had been sent on the most gracious of errands. His co-operation with Jesus to serve his own abominable endl3 stamped him as the firstborn of hell. Better had it been for him had he never been born. Let all deceitful professors be warned by his doom, for like Ahithophel he went to his own place by his own hand, and retains a horrible pre-eminence in the calendar of notorious crime. Here was one source of heart-break for the Redeemer, and it is shared in by his followers. Of the serpent's brood some vipers still remain, who will sting the hand that cherished them, and sell for silver those who raised them to the position which rendered it possible for them to be so abominably treacherous.
15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell : for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
15. Not thus would Jesus pray, but the rough soldier David so poured out the anguish of his spirit, under treachery and malice seldom equalled and altogether unprovoked. The soldier, as such, desires the overthrow of his foes, for this very end he fights; and viewed as a matter of law and justice, David was right in his wish; he was waging a just, defensive war against men utterly regardless of truth and justice. Read the words as a warrior's imprecationi. * Let death seize upon them.” Traitors such as these deserve to die, there is no living with them, earth is polluted by their tread; if' spies are shot, much more these sneaking villains. " Let them go down quick into hell." While in the vigour of life into sheol let them sink, let them suddenly exchange the enjoyment of the quick or living for the sepulchres of the dead. There is, however, no need to read this verse as an imprecation, it is rather a confident expectation or prophecy : God would, he was sure, desolate them, and cast them out of the land of the living into the regions of the dead. “ For wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them." They are too bad to be spared, for their houses are dens of infamy, and their hearts fountains of mischiet. They are a pest to the commonwealth, a moral plague, a spiritual pestilence, to be stamped out by the laws of men and the providence of God. Both Alithophel and Judas sooit ended their own lives ; Absalom was hanged in the oak, and the rebels perishe in the wood in great numbers. There is justice in the universe, love itselt demands it; pity to rebels against God, as such, is no virtue, we pray for them as creatures, we abhor them as enemies of God. We need in these days far more to guard against the disguised iniquity which sympathises with evil, and counts punishment to be cruelty, than against the harshness of a former age. We have steered so far from Scylla that Charybdis is absorbing us.
16 As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me.
17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud : and he shall hear my voice.
18 He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me : for there were many with me.
19 God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old. Selah. Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.
16. “ As for me, I will call upon God." The psalmist would not endeavour to meet the plots of his adversaries by counterplots, or imitare their incessant violence, but in direct opposition to their godless behaviour would continually resort to his God. Thus Jesus did, and it has been the wisdom of all believers to do the same. As this exemplifies the contrast of their character, so it will foretell the contrast of their end- the righteous shall ascend to their God, the wicked shall sink to ruin. “And the Lord shall save me.” Jehovah will fulfil my desire, and glorify himself in my deliverance. The psalmist is quite sure. He knows that he will pray, and is equally clear that he will be heard. The covenant name is the pledge of the covenant promise.
17. “ Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray." Often but none too osten. Seasons of great need call for frequent seasons of devotion. The three periods chosen are most fitting ; to begin, continue, and end the day with God is supreme wisdom. Where time has naturally set up a boundary, there let us set up an altar-stone. The psalmist means that he will always pray; he will run a line of prayer right along the day, and track the sun with his petitions. Day and night he saw his enemies busy (verse 10), and therefore he would meet their activity by continuous prayer. “ And cry aloud." He would give a tongue to his complaint; he would be very earnest in his pleas with heaven. Sone cry aloud who never say a word. It is the bell of the heart that rings loudest in heaven. Some read it, “ I will muse and murmur ;” deep heartthoughts should be attended with inarticulate but vehement utterances of grief. Blessed be God, moaning is translatable in hearen. A father's heart reads a child's heart. “And he shall near my voice." He is confident that he will prevail; he makes no question that he would be heard, he speaks as if already hie were answered. When our window is opened towards heaven, the windows oof heaven are open to us. Have but a pleading heart and God will have a plenteous hand.
18. “ He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me." The deliverance has come. Joab has routed the rebels. The Lord has justified the cause of his anointed. Faith sees as well as foresees; to her foresight is sight. He is not only safe but serene, " delivered in peace "-peace in his inmost soul. “For there were many with me;" many contending against me. Or it may be that he thankfully acknowledges that the Lord raised him up unexpecied allies, fetched him succour when he most needed it, and made the friendless monarch once more the head of a great army. The Lord can soon cbange our condition, and he often does so when our prayers become fervent. The crisis of life is usually the secret place of wrestling. Jabbok makes Jacob a prevailing prince. He who stripped us of all friends to make us see himself in their absence, can give them back again in greater numbers that we may see him more joyfully in the fact of their presence.
19. “ God shall hear, and afflict them." They make a noise as well as I, and God will hear them. The voice of slander, malice, and pride, is not alone heard by those whom it grieves, it reaches to heaven, it penetrates the divine ear, it demands vengeance and shall bave it. God hears and delivers his people, he hears and destroys the wicked. Their cruel jests, their base falsehoods, their cowardly insults, their daring blasphemies are heard, and shall be repaid to them by the eternal Judge. “Even he that abideth of old." He sits in eternity, enthroned judge for evermore; all the prayers of saints and profanities
of sinners are before his judgment-seat, and he will see that justice is done. " Selah." The singer pauses, overwhelmed with awe in the presence of the everlasting God. “ Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God." His own reverential feeling causes him to remember the daring godlessness of the wicked; he feels that his trials have driven him to his God, and he declares that their uninterrupted prosperity was the cause of their living in such neglect of the Most High. It is a very manifest fact that long-continued ease and pleasure are sure to produce the worst influences upon graceless men : though troubles do not convert them, yet the absence of them makes their corrupt nature more readily develop itself. Stagnant water becomes putrid. Summer heat breeds noxious insects. He who is without trouble is often withult God. It is a forcible proof of human depravity that man turns the mercy of God into nutriment for sin : the Lord save us from this.
20 He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him: he hath broken his covenant.
21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
20. The psalmist cannot forget the traitor's conduct, and returns again to consider it. “ He hath put forth his hands against such as be at peace with him." He smites those to whom he had given the hand of friendship, he breaks the bonds of alliance, he is perfidious to those who dwell at ease because of his friendly professions. “ He hath broken his covenant.” The most solemn league he has profaned, he is regardless of oaths and promises.
21. “ The words of his mouth were smoother than butter." He lauded and larded the man he hoped to devour. He buttered hiin with flattery and then battered him with malice. Beware of a man who has too much honey on his tongue; a trap is to be suspected where the bait is so tempting. Soft, smooth, oily words are most plentiful where truth and sincerity are most scarce. " But war was in his heart." He brought forth butter in a lordly dish, but he had a tent-pin ready for the temples of his guest. When heart and lip so widely differ, the man is a monster, and those whom he assails are afflicted indeed. “ His words were softer than oil." Nothing could be more unctuous and fluent, there were no objectionable syllables, no jars or discords, his words were as yielding as the best juice of the olive; "yet were they drawn swords," rapiers unsheathed, weapons brandished for the fray. Ah! base wretch, to be cajoling your victim while intending to devour him! entrapping him as if he were but a beast of prey ; surely, such art thou thyself!
22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee : he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
22. “ Thy burden," or what thy God lays upon thee, lay thou it " upon the Lord." His wisdom casts it on thee, it is thy wisdom to cast it on him. He cast thy lot for thee, cast thy lot on him. He gives thee thy portion of suffering, accept it with cheerful resignation, and then take it back to him by thine assured confidence. “He shall sustain thee.” Thy bread shall be given thee, thy waters shall be sure. Abundant nourishment shall fit thee to bear all thy labours and trials. As thy days so shall thy strength be. “He shall neter suffer the righteous to be moved." He may move like the boughs of a tree in the tempest, but he shall never be moved like a tree torn up by the roots. Ile stands firm who stands in God. Many would destroy the saints, but God has not suffered it, and never will. Like pillars, the godly stand in morable, to the glory of the Great Architect.
23 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction ; bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days : but I will trust in thee.
23. For the ungodly a sure, terrible, and fatal overthrow is appointed. Climb as they may, the pit yawns for them, God himself will cause them to descend into it, and destruction there shall be their portion. « Bloody and deceitful men,” with double iniquity of cruelty and craft upon them, “ shall not live ont half their days ;" they shall be cut off in their quarrels, or being disappointed in their artifices, vexation shall end them. They were in heart murderers of others, and they became in reality self-murderers. Doubt not that virtue lengthens life, and that vice tends to shorten it. " But I will trust in thee.” A very wise, practical conclusion. We can have no better ground of confidence. The Lord is all, and more than all that faith can need as the foundation of peaceful dependence. Lord, increase our faith evermore,
A Consecrated Life.
BY PASTOR W, PAGE, OF CHARD. TN the month of December, 1818, there was born at the village of Laventon,
I near Frome, a child who received the name of John Parsons. On the 26th October, 1869, this same Jobo Parsons fell asleep in Christ, at Monghyr in India. In this short sketch we purpose tracing the life of this devoted man.
Till the age of eleven he remained at home : two facts of these early years hare been reported to us—he was instructed in the Bible, and found great delight in reading the Pilgrim's Progress. His early education was completed at a classical school at Frome, where he remained four or five years; during this period he resided with a Christian family, and enjoyed the ministry of the Rev. J. F. Newman. He began business life in a house in London; in the same house an elder brother George lived; devout and earnest, he had a great influence in the formation of John's character and in directing his future course. At this time John attended the ministry of the Rev. C. Stovel, and was a nember of his Bible Class. On a visit home during this period he professed faith in Christ by baptism, and joined the church at Laventon; very shortly he began to preach in the villages and elsewhere.
His brother George was led to enter the Christian ministry, and preparatory for that work went through a college course; leaving college he became a missionary at Monghyr, in India. His colleague was Mr. Leslie, only now recently deceased, who however was with him but for a short time; and when our missionary was left alone he directly thought of his brother John as a suitable person to be his helper. In a letter upon this plan he gave the following outline of the work he had to do :-“ The work of this station is in about equal proportion Hindustani and English ; of course, John would not be able, on first coming, to assist in Hindustani, but I hope the native preacher and myself would be able to get through it. Two services are intended specially for the heathen; here you have a congregation unwilling to receive your message, and watching for reason to repel it, or opportunities to ridicule it. They need to have their attention attracted by illustrations drawn from every-day life, and by a judicious use of colloquial language; these services I should leave mainly to the native preacher. * * * The other two services are for the benefit of those who have embraced Christianity. * * * The English services differ in no respect that I can see from what we have been accustomed to at home • ** In this John could render his full share of assistance, and still bave time to study the native language, and prepare for service among the heathen." To tbis call John Parsons responded. He was dedicated to the work at Frome in the 23rd year of his age; the charge was delivered by his uncle, the Rev. J. Dyer. Ju a comparatirely short time he was on his way to India, where all his future life was to be spent; though he laboured for nearly 29 years, he never returned to visit the land of his fathers.
The first news on his reaching Calcutta was the sad intelligence that his brother had expired two days previously. The brother had been attacked by disease at Monghyr, and the physician advised change; as John was expected at Calcutta, the invalid removed thither. At first he rallied, but afterwards sank; one more name was added to the long roll of those who have been cut off at the commencement of a missionary career. His sun set ere it had well risen. As he saw it decline it blotted out hope of work for Christ in India, and it disappointed his anticipation of meeting his beloved brother, yet almost his last words were, “I am perfectly easy, perfectly happy.” With subdued feelings John Parsons went on to Monghyr with his wife and the widow of his brother. He found a city of 30,000 inhabitants, on the south bank of the Ganges, about 300 miles from Calcutta. The mission had been commenced in 1817, but it had not touched the mass of the people; he saw idolatry in all its native uglinuss. The church numbered forty-eight members, partly European, partly native; there was a small school for native orphans, and, best of all, there was an excelleut friend and colleague in Mr. Lawrence, who still labours at the same place.
We have no means of tracing the life of the missionary but through the report of the Society and the letters from the stations appended to those reports. These first speak of hope and expectation; then the widow of the brother returns home; Parsons is making progress with the language, a native school is opened ; but as this year closes, sorrow darkens his path, for his wife dies almost suddenly. In these early years there is some success, for during one of them eleven are baptised and work is commenced in the country districts around; by-and-by three Bible classes are formed, which become the nucleus of a Sunday school; at length he still further widens his operations, and undertakes extensive preaching tours. His first residence at Monghyr closes the year before the Indian mutiny. He removes to Agra, being engaged in the work of travslation. He is here shut up in the fort during the mutiny, saving his life but losing all his possessions. Two years spent here are followed by six years at Benares, when he returns to Mongbyr, where he completes his revision of the New Testament in Hindi, and labours until his decease. During this period the church at Monghyr was sustained, its number of members raised from forty-eight to seventy, and about seventy-seven professed faith by baptism.
We feel that very little can be learned of the man and his work from the bare narration of facts. He had, with his fellow labourers, often to endure trials. They knew seasons of spiritual drought. Thus, in 1813, Mr. Lawrence writes: “ With respect to increase we have had none, and our labours and prospects remain much the same as they were last year. Our church has lost seven members by death, two or three have been removed to other stations ; our English congregation is also somewhat decreased by removals.” Sometimes those whom they had received proved themselves unworthy; thus they write, in 1845 : “ In reviewing the past year we see reason for humiliation, inasmuch as some of our members have not maintained that holy cousistency for which Christians should ever be distinguished; two so far departed from the truth as it is in Christ as to compel us to exclude them; and beside this, we have had very little success in our labours." It was the custom to visit annually a large melee, or fair, at Hajipore, where at times 300 or 400 would crowd around the missionary, but on other occasions, especially just before the mutiny, hardly a person would visit them, or those who came showed bitter and determined opposition.
It was not all dark, however; comforts were mixed with the trials. Our