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The hundred and tenth Psalm is cited by Christ hitta self, Matt. 22. 44. as treating of bis'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 promised 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 they are inade in a sense of accommodation; as passages may be quoted from poems or histories merely bumult, 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 Psalnis, 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, thiey appear to do. The are beautiful without, but all glorious within, like “ apples of gold in pictures, or nett-work cases of silver.” Prov. 25. 11. The brightness of the casket attracts our attention, till, through it, upon a nearer approach, we discover its contents. And then, indeed, it may be said to have “no glory, by reason of the glory that so far excelletu." 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 fron the summit 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 pertinentiy remarks, that “they 66 must have understood David their prince to liave been " a figure of Messiah. They would not otherwise have “ made bis Psalms part of their daily worship, nor would 66 David have delivered them to the church to be so em66 ployed, were it not to instruct and support them in the “ knowledge and belief of this fundamental article. Was “ the Messias not concerned in the Psalms, it were ab6 surd to celebrate, twice a day in their public devotions, o the events cf one man's life, who was deceased so long 66 ago, as to have no relation now to the Jews, and the « circunisiances of their affairs; or to transcribe whole 66 passages from them into their prayers for the coming of « 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, cease at once. Thus, it may be said, Are we concerned with the affairs of David and of Israel? Have we any thing to do with the ark and the tempie? They are no more. 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, according to the law? The law is abolished, never to be observed again. Do we pray for victory over Moab, Edom, and Philistia ; or for delis erance 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
a spiritual Jerusalem and Sion ; a spiritual ark and temple; a spiritual law; spiritual sacrifices; and spiritual victories; spiritual enemies; all described under the old námes, which are still retained, though “old things "i are passed away, and all things are to become new.” By substituting Messiah for David, the gospel for the law, the church Christian for that of Israel, and the enemies of the one for those of the other, the Psalms are made our own. Nay, they are with more fulness and propriety applied now to the substance, than they were of old to the shadow of good things then to come.” And, therefore, ever since the commencement of the Christian æra, the church hath chosen to celebrate the gospel mysteries in the words of these ancient hymns, rather than to compose for that purpose new ones of her own. For let it not pass unobserved, that when, upon the first publication of the gospel, the apostles had occasion to utter their transports of joy, on their being counted worthy to suffer for the name of their dear Lord and master which was then opposed by Jew and Gentile, they break forth into an application of the second Psalm to the transactions then before their eyes. See Acts iv. 25. The primitive Christians constantly followed this method in their devotions : and, particularly, when delivered out of the hands of persecuting tyrants, by the victories of Constantine, they praised God for his goodness, and the glorious success and establishment of Christ's religion, no words were found so exquisitely adapted to the purpose, as those of David, in the 96, 98, and other Psalms- Sing unto the Lord a new song: " sing unto the Lord all the earth. Sing unto the Lord ~ and praise his name : be telling of his salvation from day " to day. Declare his honor unto the Heathens, his wor« ship unto all people.”_&c. &c. &c. In these and the like Psalms, we continue to praise God, for all his spi. ritual mercies in Christ, to this day.
The Psalms, thus applied, have advantages which no fresh compositions, however finely executeci, can possibly have; since besides their incomparable fitness to express our sentiments, they are, at the same time, memorials of and appeals to former mercies and deliverances; they are acknowlediments of prophecies accomplished; they point out the connection between the old and new dispen
sations, thereby teaching us to admire and adore the wisdom of God displayed in both, and furnishing, while we read or sing them, an inexhaustable variety of the noblest matter that can engage the contemplations of man.
Very few of the Psalms, comparatively, appear to be simply prophetical, and to belong only to Messiah, without the intervention of any other person. Most of thein, it is apprehended, have a double sense, which stands upon this ground and foundation, that the ancient patriarchs, prophets, priests, and kings, were typical characters, in their several offices, and in the more remarkable passages of their lives, their extraordinary depressions, and miraculous exaltations, forshewing him who was to arise, as the head of the holy family, the great Prophet, the true Priest, the everlasting King. The Israelitish polity, and the law of Moses were purposely framed after the example and shadow of things spiritual and heavenly ; and the events which happened to the ancient people of God, were designed to shadow out parallel occurrences, which should afterwards take place, in the accomplisliment of man's redemption, and the rise and progress of the Christian church. For this reason, the Psalms composed for the use of Israel, and Israel's monarch, and by them accordingly used at the time, do admit of an application to us, who are now “ the Israel of God," and to our Redeemer, who is the King of this Israel.
Nor will this seem strange to us, if we reflect, that the same divine person, who inspired the Psalms, did aiso foreknow and predispose all events, of which he intended them to treat. And hence it is evident, that the spiritual sense is, and must be peculiar to the Scriptures; because of those persons and transactions only, which are there mentioned and recorded, can it be affirmed for certain, that they were designed to be figurative.
What is said in the Psalms occasionally of the law and its ceremonies, sacrifices, ablutions, and purifications ; of the tabernacle and temple, with the services therein performed, and of the Aaronical priesthood; all this Christians transfer to the new law ; to the oblation of Christ; to justification by his blood, and sanctification by his Spirit; to the true tabernacle, or temple, not inade with hands; and to what was thercin done for the salvation of the world, by him who was in one respect, ak sacrifice ; in another a temple; and in a third, an high priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedeck. That such was the intention of these legal figures, is declared at large in the Epistle to the Hebrews: and they are of great assistance to us now, in forming our ideas of the realities to w ich they correspond. “ Under the Jewish u æcorony,” says the excellent Mr. Pascal, “ truth ap66 peared but in figure; in Heaven it is open, and without « a veil; in the church militant it is so veiled, as to be 56 yet discerned by its correspondence to the figure. As 6 the figure was first built upon the truth, so the truth is 66 now distinguishable by the figure.”
Let us stop for a moment to contemplate the true character of these sacred hymns.
Greatness confers no exemption from the cares and sorrows of life. Its share of them frequently bears a melancholy proportion to its exaltation. This the Israelitish inonarch experienced. He sought in piety that peace which he could not find in empire, and alleviated the disquietudes of state with the exercises of devotion.
His invaluable Psalms convey those comforts to others, which they afforded to himself. Composed upon particular occasions, yet designed for general use; delivered out as services for Israelites under the law, yet no less adapted to the circumstances of Christians under the gospel; they present religion to us in the most engaging dress; communicating truths which philosophy could nc. ver investigate, in a style which poctry can never equal ; while history is made the vehicle of prophecy, and creation iends all its charms to paint the glories of redemption. Calculated alike to profit, and to please, they inform the understanding, elevate the affections, and entertain the imagination. Indited under the influence of Him, to whom all hearts are known, and all events forcknown, they suit mankind in all situations, grateful as the manuia which descended from above, and conformed itself to every palate. The fairest productions of human wit, after a few peiusals, like gathered flowers, wither in our hands, and iose their fragrancy ; but these unfading plants of paradise become, as we are accustomed to-them, still more and more beautiful ; their bloom appears to be daily, heightened ; fresh odours are emitted,