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CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH
BOOK OF PSALMS.
REV. ANDREW A. BONAR,
AUTHOR OF THE MEMOIR OF THE REV. R. M. M'CHEYNE, ETC.
ROBERT CARTER & BROTHERS,
Few of the Books of Scripture are richer than the Book of Psalms, that “ Hymn-book for all times," as it has been called. “There,” says Luther, “ you look right down into the heart of saints, and behold all manner of joys and joyous thoughts toward God and his love springing lustily into life! Again, you look into the heart of saints as into death and hell ! How gloomy and dark their mournful visions of God." Another has said, “The Psalms teach me to prize a much tried life.” And Tholuck (who gives these quotations) remarks, “Songs which, like the Psalms, have stood the test of three thousand years, contain a germ for eternity.”
The Psalms are for all ages alike--not more for David than for us. Even as the cry, “ It is finished !” though first heard by the ear of John and the women from Galilee, who stood at the cross, was not meant for them more truly than for us ; so with the Psalms The writers were prepared by God, through personal
and public circumstances, for breathing forth appropriately the mind of Him who used them. Irving, in his preface to Horne on the Psalms, has spoken some most valuable truths on this subject. He remarks that the Psalms, like the prophetic writings," arose by the suggestion of some condition of the Church, present in the days of the prophets, as the particular case. But passing beyond this in time, and passing beyond it in aggravation of every circumstance, they give as it were a consecutive glance of all the like cases and kindred passages in the history of the Church, and bring out the general law of God's providence and grace in the present, and in all the future parallel cases." The Psalmist, however, was not to be an automaton, nor his readers mere lookers on or listeners to what the automaton gives forth. Therefore, God moulded his man to his purpose, and cast him into the conditions that suited his ends. And still he was a man, acted on by course of nature, and manifest to the people as a fellow-man, through whom, indeed, they heard soulstirring truths, uttered with ear-piercing words, but suited to their case, and thrust in their way, and spoken to their feelings, and pressed on their consciences, and riveted there by the most mighty sanctions of life and death, present and eternal.'
“ And asTHE WORD which was in the beginning took not voice, nor intelligence, but flesh, human flesh, and the fulness of the Godhead was manifested bodily ; so when that same Word came to the fathers by the pro
phets, and discovered a part of his fulness, it was through their flesh, or their humanity—that is, through their present condition of spirit, and mind, and body, and outward estate."
It was for this end that God led David the round or
all human conditions, that he might catch the spirit proper to every one, and utter it according to the truth. “ He allowed him not to curtail his being by treading the round of one function ; but by a variety of functions he cultivated his whole being, and filled his soul with wisdom and feeling. He found him objects of every affection. He brought him up in the sheep-pastures, that the groundwork of his character might be laid through simple and universal forms of feeling. He took him to the camp, that he might be filled with nobleness of soul, and ideas of glory. He placed him in the palace, that he might be filled with ideas of majesty and sovereign might. He carried him to the wilderness and placed him in solitudes, that his soul might dwell alone in the sublime conception of God and his mighty works. And he kept him there for long years, with only one step between him and death, that he might be well schooled to trust and depend upon the providence of God. And in none of these various conditions and vocations of life did He take from him His Holy Spirit. His trials were but the tuning of the instrument with which the Spirit might express the various melodies which He designed to utter by him for the consolation and edification of spiritual men.