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4. · For this was a statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob.' 5. This he ordained in Joseph, for a testimony, when he went out through,' or against, the land of Egypt: where I heard a language that I understood not.'
The meaning is, that the observation of feasts, with blowing of trumpets, was a statute, law, or testimony, ordained in Joseph, or Israel, by God himself, after he had destroyed the Égyptians, and brought his people into the wilderness, where the law was given. Concerning the words, ' I heard a language that I understood not,' it is difficult to account for the change of person; but the sense seems to be, That the children of Israel received the law, when they had been in bondage under a people of strange and barbarous language, or dialect. The passage is exactly parallel to that in Psal. cxiv. 1. • When Israel went out of Egypt, and the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,' &c.—The new law, with its sacraments and ordinances, was promulged after the spiritual redemption by Christ; as the old law, with its rites and ceremonies, was published, after the temporal deliverance by Moses.
6. “I removed his shoulder from the burden; his hands were delivered from the pots.'
From this verse to the end, it is plain that God is the speaker. He reminds Israel of their redemption, by his mercy and
power, from the burdens and the drudgery imposed on them in Egypt. Moses describeth their then state of servitude, by saying, “The Egyptians made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field;' Exod. i. 14. that is, probably, in making vessels of clay, as this verse seems to imply. Let us remember, that we have been eased of far heavier burdens, delivered from severer taskmasters, and freed from a baser drudgery; the intolerable load of sin, the cruel tyranny of Satan, the vile service and bitter bondage of concupiscence.
7. Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee: I answered thee in the secret place of thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah.'
God declares his readiness, at all times, to hear the prayers and relieve the distresses of his people, as he did when they cried unto him in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and received answers from the cloudy pillar. In that deep recess he had fixed his awful throne, and from thence, on proper occasions, he manifested his power and glory, protecting Israel, and confounding their adversaries. In Psalm xcix. 6. it is said of Moses, Aaron, &c.'. They called on the Lord, and he answered them: he spake unto them in the cloudy pillar;' which passage seems exactly parallel to that in the verse under consideration—Thou calledst, and—I answered thee in the secret place of thunder.' He who spake unto Israel in the cloudy pillar, hath since spoken to us by his Son : he who
proved them at the waters of Meribah,' Exod. xvii. 6,7. now proves us, by various trials, in the world.
8. Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me;' 9. There shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god.' 10. 'I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.'
God here addresseth himself to the Israelites, putting them in remembrance of that first and great commandment against idolatry; of his claim to their obedience, as their God and Saviour; and of his being both able and willing to satisfy the utmost desires and wishes of such as would apply to him for blessing and comfort. Behold, then, the rebellion, the ingratitude, and the folly, of that man, who saith to any creature, · Thou art my god ;' who bestoweth on the world that fear, love, and adoration, which are due only to its Creator and Redeemer; who wasteth his days in seeking after happiness, where all, by their inquietude, acknowlege that it is not to be found.
11. “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me.' 12. • So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.'
By the subject of an earthly prince, it is justly deemed a great honor for his sovereign to converse with him, to counsel and advise him: but from sinful dust and ashes, we hear the Majesty of heaven complaining, that he cannot obtain an audience; no one will attend to, or observe, Div. No. XXIII.
his salutary admonitions. When we see men enabled, by wealth and power, to accomplish the inordinate desires of their hearts, and carry their worldly schemes into execution, without meeting with obstructions in their way, we are apt to envy their felicity; whereas such prosperity in wickedness is the surest mark of divine displeasure, the heaviest punishment of disobedience, both in individuals and communities. "My people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me: so I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust; and they walked in their own counsels.
13. 'Othat my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways ! 14. 'I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries.'
Such are the tender mercies of our God, that he is not only careful to provide for us the means of salvation, but represents himself as mourning with a paternal affection over his children, when their frowardness and obstinacy disappoint the efforts of his love. One cannot help observing the similitude between the complaint here uttered, and one which hath been since breathed forth, over the same people: 'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not !'
15. “The haters of the LORD should have submitted themselves unto him ;' or should have failed, or been subdued to him : 'but their time,' i. e. the time of his people, should have endured for ever.'
The transgressions of the church give her enemies all their power against her, calling the avenger from afar, and setting an edge on the sword of the persecutor. •Where the carcase is, where the spirit of religion is departed, and has left the body to corrupt and decay, 'there the eagles are gathered together;' all the instruments of vengeance, terrestrial and infernal, flock, by permission, to the prey. Had not this been the case with regard to Israel, Jerusalem had continued to be, through all ages, what she was in the days of Solomon, the delight of the nations, and the joy of the whole earth.
16. He should have fed them also with the finest of
the wheat: and with honey out of the rock should I have satisfied thee.'
That is, the Israelites, if obedient, would still have enjoyed the sweets of that good land, in which the Lord their God had placed them, where the fruits of the earth were produced in the highest perfection, and honey streamed from the very rocks, so that no part of the country was without its increase. On the same conditions of faith and obedience, do Christians hold those spiritual and eternal good things, of which the pleasant fields and fertile hills of Canaan were sacramental. Christ is the • bread' of life, he is the 'rock' of salvation, and his promises are as 'honey' to pious minds. But they who reject him, as their Lord and Master, must also lose him as their Saviour and their reward.
SIXTEENTH DAY.-EVENING PRAYER.
[The Psalmist addresseth himself to judges and magistrates ; 1. he remindeth them of the presence of that God whom they represent, and to whom they are accountable; 2-4. he exhorteth them to the due discharge of their office; 5. reproveth the ignorance and corruption among them; 6, 7. threateneth their fall and punishment; 8. prayeth for the manifestation of Messiah, and the establishment of his righteous kingdom.]
1. God standeth in the congregation of the mighty: he judgeth among the gods.'
Earthly judicatories are the appointment of God. All magistrates act in his name, and by virtue of his commission. He is invisibly present at their assemblies, and superintends their proceedings. He receives appeals from their wrongful decisions; he will one day re-hear all causes at his own tribunal, and reverse every iniquitous sentence, before the great congregation of men and angels. Unjust judges must either disbelieve or forget all this. God is, in like manner, present to the heart of each individual; he is privy to the various reasonings and pleadings of grace and nature, of principle and interest,
in that lesser court; and he is a witness of its determinations; which also will by him be manifested to the world, and openly canvassed, when he sitteth in judg. ment.
2. ·How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? 3. Defend the poor and fatherless : do justice to the afflicted and needy.' 4. "Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.'
A charge is here given, by the Spirit of God, to all magistrates, much like that which king Jehoshaphat gave to his judges : 2 Chron. xix. 6, 7. Take heed what ye do; for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore now, let the fear of the Lord be upon you, take heed, and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.' It is the glory of Jehovah and his Christ, to accept no man's person' in judgment; to regard neither the quality nor the station of the offender ; but to give to every man, of whatever rank or degree in the world, according to his works. All the sons of Adam were once . poor and fatherless, needy and afflicted,' when God took their cause into his own hands, and, by a method consistent with the strictest justice, delivered them out of the hand of the wicked one.
Every oppressor of the poor is a likeness of that wicked one, and every upright judge will endeavour to resemble the Redeemer. For this purpose he will be always willing to admit, diligent to discuss, solicitous to expedite, the cause of a poor and injured person, and to afford such an one the speediest, the cheapest, and the most effectual redress, equally contemning the offers of opulence, and the frowns of power. A judge who acts in this manner, takes the readiest way to obtain the favor of God; and the people will be sure to bless him.
5. They know not, neither will they understand ; they walk on in darkness : all the foundations of the earth, or the land, are out of course;' or nod, or shake.
We here find the Prophet deploring, in magistrates, a method of proceeding contrary to that above described. He laments their voluntary ignorance in the ways of