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ing-places in their gardens", to cheer the eye by their verdure, and to refresh the body by their cooling shade, do no less aptly and significantly set forth the pleasure which parents feel, at the sightofa numerous and flourishing offspring. As marriage was from the beginning intended to represent the mystical union between Christ and his church, which union is spoken of in matrimonial language, through the Scriptures both of the Old and New Testament, we need but extend our view, to behold, under the imagery of the vine and the olive-plants, the prolific spouse of Messiah, and the children of peace assembled round the table of their heavenly Father. See Psalm lxxx. 8. Rom. xi. 17. 4. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord. Are temporal blessings, then, the reward of piety?. They are not its only, nor chief reward, but are often “added,” even under the new dispensation, to those who “first seek the kingdom of God, and his righ“teousness.” When they are withholden, or withdrawn, it is for the security or increase of those more valuable blessings which are spiritual. There are times, when father, mother, brethren, sisters, wife, children, and lands, must be given up for Christ's and the Gospel’s sake. But ample amends are promised to be made to all who thus part with earthly relations and possessions. They find in the church other fathers, mothers, brethren, sisters, children, &c. and at the resurrection they will “inherit all things,” Rev. xxi. 7. and brighter coronets of glory shall sparkle from their heads. The Scriptures show us the servants of God in every state and condition; we view them rich and poor, honoured and despised, sick and in health, married and single, childless and otherwise, in prosperity and in adversity; to teach us, that all things work together for good to them who love God: so that the believer hath comfort always. If temporal blessings be granted him, he accepteth them as shadows of those which are eternal; if they are denied, he remembereth that they are only shadows, and are therefore denied, that he may fix his thoughts and affections more firmly on the substance. 5. The LoRD shall bless thee out of &ion ; and thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem, all the days of thy life. 6. Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children, and peace upon Israel. Every true Israelite rejoiceth in the prosperity of Zion; a blessing upon the church diffuseth itself to all the members thereof; and the good of Jerusalem, with peace upon Israel, is all the good we can desire to see upon earth. Hereafter we shall see greater things than these. Jehovah from the heavenly Zion will bless us with the vision of his immortal glory; we shall see the good of the new Jerusalem, the wealth, beauty, and majesty of that holy city; we shall see the generations of the faithful walking in
* This is bishop Patrick's idea. The learned and ingenious Mr. Harmer, in his very valuable “Observations on divers Pas“sages of Scripture,” (Vol. I. p. 197, 2d edit.) disapproves of it: as, he says, “we find no such arbours in the Levant, nor is “the tree very proper for the purpose. He thinks therefore the “table” refers to the “children” only, and not to the “olives." But Mr. Merrick, in his Annotations, produces some very good arguments on the side of bishop Patrick.
the light of it; with that everlasting peace and rest, which remain for the Israel of God. These are the blessings promised to Messiah, and to his seed, for eVermore.
In the former part of this Psalm, 1–4. the church declareth herself to have been often assailed and persecuted by her enemies, but as often rescued and preserved by Jehovah; in the latter part of it, 5–8. she predicteth the miserable end of all those who hate Zion.
1. Many a time have they afflicted me from my 3youth, may Israel now say: 2. JMany a time have they afflicted me from my youth : yet they have not prevailed against me.
Affliction is nothing new to the people of God. Many a time have the righteous been under persecution, from the hour when Cain rose up against his brother Abel, to this day. Like the bush which Moses beheld in the desert, the church hath “burn“ed with fire,” but is not yet “ consumed;” and for the same reason, because God is in the midst of her *.
* Ecclesia jam inde ab initio in Abel, in Enoch, in Noé, in Abraham, in Lot, in Egyptiacá servitute, in Moyse, et Prophetis, graves perpessa imimicos: dicit illa quidem saepe a juventutese fuisse oppugnatam; nihilo tamen secits pervenisse ad senectutem, acne in senectute quidem opprimi posse. Victus enim qui saeviebat, vicit qui sufferebat. BossueT.
He who took our nature upon him, was also “af“flicted from his youth,” but his enemies “prevail“ed not finally against him.” And it is observable, that what God spake, by his prophet Hosea, concerning Israel, “When Israel was a child, then I “loved him, and called my son out of Egypt,” is by St. Matthew applied to Christ; “Joseph took the “ young child and his mother by night, and departed “ into Egypt, and was there until the death of “Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken “by the prophet, Out of Egypt have I called my “ son:” Matt. ii. 14. Hos. xi. 1. The truth is, that there subsisted between Christ and the church an union like that between the head and the members of the same body; they are therefore called by the same name, IsrAEL, and what is said concerning one, frequently admitteth of an application to the other. He became like us by taking our nature, and we become like him by receiving his grace. Our sufferings are accounted as his; and his righteousness spoken of as ours. 3. The plowers plowed upon my back; they made long their furrows. 4. The Lord is righteous : he hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked. The former of these two verses expresseth a state of great affliction, the latter, a deliverance from that state. The word win, which signifies to dig, or cut the ground, and so, to plow, is also used simply for cutting, carving, or graving; see Exod. xxxv. 33. Jer. xvii. 1. Being here applied to the back of captives, and cords having been the instruments of it, in all reason it is to be understood of scourging, which 49
cuts, and, as it were, digs, and plows, and makes furrows in the flesh; and the longer the cord of the scourges are, the longer are the wounds and furrows. For our sakes he who knew no sin “gave his back “ to the smiters,” Isa. l. 6. : and permitted those “ plowers to make long their furrows upon it.” But “the righteous Lord cut asunder the cords of the “wicked;” vengeance overtook the wretched instruments of his sufferings; and the persecutors of his servants shall perish in like manner, as the Psalmist proceedeth to assure us in the verses following. 5. Let them all, or, they all shall, be confounded and turned back that hate Zion. Since the ways of God are equal, the destruction which hath lighted on former persecutors of the church affordeth an assurance, that all, in every age, who hate Zion, shall, at the day of final retribution, if not before that day, feel the weight of his arm, who is the Saviour, the King, and the God of Zion. 6. Let them, or, they shall, be as the grass upon the house-tops, which withereth afore it groweth up: Heb. is pulled up *. 7. Wherewith the mower jilleth not his hand: nor he that bindeth sheaves his bosom. 8. Neither do they which go by say, The blessing of the Lord be upon you : we bless you in the name of the Lord. The transient prosperity of mortal man is often in sacred writ compared to grass, the history of which
* Mr. Harmer takes the idea of the Psalmist to be, “which “withereth before it unsheaths its ear.” Observ. 11.463.