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surdity. It is hard sure to design the supposal, (or what it may yet seem hard to suppose,) that all men were made in vain.
It appears, the expostulation was somewhat passionate, and did proceed upon the sudden view of this disconsolate case, very abstractly considered, and by itself only; and that he did not in that instant look beyond it to a better and more comfortable scene of things. An eye bleared with present sorrow, sees not so far, nor comprehends so much at one view, as it would at another time, or as it doth, presently, when the tear is wiped out, and its own beams have cleared it up. We see he did quickly look further, and had got a more lightsome prospect, when in the next words we find him contemplating God's sworn loving-kindness unto David : (ver. 49.) the truth and stability whereof he at the same time expressly acknowledges, while only the form of his speech doth but seem to import a doubt-“Where are they?” But yet they were sworn in truth upon which argument he had much enlarged in the former part of the psalm ; and it still lay deep in his soul, though he were now a little diverted from the present consideration of it. Which, since it turns the scales with him, it will be needful to inquire into the weight and import of it. Nor have we any reason to think, that David was either so little a prophet or a saint, as in his own thoughts to refer those magnificent things (the instances of that loving-kindness confirmed by oath, which he recites from the 19 verse of the psalm to the 38, as spoken from the mouth of God, and declared to him by vision) to the dignity of his own person, and the grandeur and perpetuity of his kingdom; as if it were ultimately meant of himself, that God would make him his firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth, (ver. 27.) when there were divers greater kings, and (in comparison of the little spot over which he reigned) a vastly spreading monarchy that still overtopped him all his time, (as the same and successive mon, archies did his successors ;) or that it was intended of the secuJar glory and stability of his throne and family; that God would make them to endure for ever, and be as the days of heaven; that they should be as the sun before him, and be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. ver. 29. 37.
That God himself meant it not so, experience and the event of things hath shown; and that these predictions cannot otherwise have had their accomplishment than in the succession of the spiritual and everlasting kingdom of the Messiah (whom God raised
up out of his loins to sit on his throne Act. 2. 30.) unto his temporal kingdom. Wherein it is therefore ended by perfection iather than corruption. These prophecies being then made good, not in the kind which they literally imported, but in another (far more noble) kind. In which sense God's covenant. with him must be understood, which he insists on so much in
this psalm, (ver. 28.-34.) even unto that degree, as to challenge God upon it, as if in the present course of his providence he were now about to make it void : ver. 39. though he sufficiently expresses his confidence both before and after, that this could never be. But it is plain it hath been made void long enough ago, in the subversion of David's kingdom, and in that we see his throne and family not been established for ever, not endured as the days of heaven; if those words had no other than their obvious and literal meaning. And if any to clear the truth of God, would allege the wickedness of his posterity, first making a breach and disobliging him, this is prevented by what we find inserted in reference to this very case : children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments, &c. then will I visit their iniquity with the rod, &c. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithful- . ness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips, ver. 30–34. All which is solemnly sealed up with this, Once have I sworn in my holiness, that I will not lie unto David, ver. 35. So that, they that will make a scruple to accuse the Holy Ghost of falsehood, in that whicb with so much solemnity he hath promised and sworn, must not make any to admit bis further intendment in these words. And that he had a further even a mystical and spiritual) intendment in this covenant with David, is yet more fully evident from that of the prophet Isaiah; Ho every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, &c. Incline your ear and come unto me. And I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander, &c. Isa. 55. 1–5. What means this universal invitation to all thirsty persons, with the subjoined encouragement of making with them an everlasting covenant, (the same which we have here, no doubt, as to the principal parts, and which we find him mentioning also, 2 Sam. 23. 5. with characters exactly corresponding to these of the prophet,) even the sure mercies of David? The meaning sure could not be, that they should be all secular kings and princes, and their posterity after them for ever ; which we see is the verbal sound and tenor of this covenant.
And now since it is evident God intended a mystery in this covenant, we may be as well assured he intended no deceit, and that he designed not a delusion to David by the vision in which he gave it. Can we think he went about to gratify him with a solemn fiction, and draw him into a false and fancisul faith; or so to bide his meaning from him, as to tempt him into tbe belief of obat he never meant ? And to what purpose was this so special revelation by vision, if it were not to be understood truly, at least, if not yet 'perfectly and fully? It is left us therefore to collect that David was not wholly uninstructed how to refer
all this to the kingdom of the Messiah. And he hath given sufficient testimony in that part of sacred writ, whereof God used him as a penman, that he was of another temper than to place the sum and chief of his expectations and consolations in his own and his posterities' worldly greatness. And to put us out of doubt, our Saviour, (who well knew his spirit) expressly enough tells us, that he in spirit called him Lord, Matt. 22. 43. when he said, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, till I make thy enemies thy foot-stool, Psal. 110. 1. A plain discovery how he understood God's revelation touching the future concernments of his kingdom (and the covenant relating thereto,) namely, as a figure and type of Christ's, who must reign till all his enemies be subdued. Nor was he in that ignorance about the nature and design of Christ's kingdom, but that he understood its reference to another world, and state of things, even beyond all the successions of time, and the mortal race of men; so as to have his eye fixed upon the happy eternity which a joyful resurrection must introduce, and whereof Christ's resurrection should be the great and most assuring pledge. And of this we need no fuller an evidence than the express words of the apostle Peter, (Act. 2. ver. 25. &c.) who after he had cited those lofty triumphant strains of David. Psal. 16.8.-11. I have set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope, for thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (or in the state of darkness,) neither wilt thou suffer thy holy one to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life. in thy presence is fulness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures forever more. All which he tells us, (ver. 25.) was spoken concerning Christ. He more expressly subjoins, (ver. 30.) that David being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne. He seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ; (ver. 31.) it appears he spake not at random, but as knowing and seeing before what he spake, that his soul was not left in hell ; &c. nor can we think he thus rejoices, in another's resurrection, forgetting his own.
And yet we have a further evidence from the apostle Paul, who affirms, that the promise made to the fathers, God had fulfilled to their children, in that he had raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption; he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Act. 13. 32.34. Which is now apparent, must be understood of eternal mercies; such as Christ's resurrection and triumph over the grave doth ensure to us. He therefore looked upon what was
spoken concerning his kingdom here, as spoken ultimately of Christ's, the kingdom whereby he governs and conducts his faithful subjects through all the troubles of life and terrors of death (through both whereof he himself as their king and leader hath shewn the way) unto eternal blessedness; and upon the covenant made with him as the covenant of God in Christ, concerning that blessedness and the requisites thereto. And (to say no more in this argument) how otherwise can we conceive he should have that fulness of consolation in this covenant when he lay a dying, as we find him expressing, 2 Sam. 23. 5. (for these were some of the last words of David, as we see verse 1.) He hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; for this is all my salvation, and all my desire. What so great joy and solace could a dying man take in a covenant made with him, when he had done with this world, and was to expect no more in it, if he took it not to concern a future blessedness in another world? Was it only for the hoped prosperity of his house and family when he was gone? This (which is the only thing we can fasten on ) he plainly secludes in the next words,-although he make it not to grow. Therefore it was his reflection upon those loving-kindnesses mentioned in the former part of the psalm, contained in God's covenant, and confirmed by his oath, but understood according to the sense and import already declared, that caused this sudden turn in David's spirit; and made him that lately spoke as out of a Golgotha, as if he had nothing but death in his eye and thoughts, to speak now in so different a strain, and (after some additional pleadings, in which his faith further recovers itself) to conclude this psalm with solemn praise ; Blessed be the Lord forever more, Amen and Amen.
We see then the contemplation of his own and all men's mortality, abstractly and alone considered, clothed his soul with black, wrapped it up in gloomy darkness, makes the whole kind of human creatures seem to him an obscure shadow, an empty vanity: but his recalling into his thoughts a succeeding state of immortal life, clears up the day, makes him and all things appear in another hue, gives a fair account why such a creature as man was made; and therein makes the whole frame of things in this inferior world look with a comely and well-composed aspect, as the product of a wise and rational design. Whence therefore we have this ground of discourse fairly before us in the words themselves :that the short time of man on earth, limited by a certain unavoidable death, if we consider it abstractly by itself, without respect to a future state, carries that appearance and aspect with it, as if God had made all men in vain.—That is said to be vain, according to the importance of the word here used, which is either false, a fiction, an appearance only, a shadow, or evanid thing; or which is useless, unprofitable, and to no valua
ble purpose. The life of man, in the case now supposed, may be truly styled vain, either way. And we shall say somewhat to each ; but to the former more briefly.
1. It were vain, that is, little other than a shew, a mere shadow, a semblance of being. We must indeed, in the present case, even abstract him from himself, and consider him only as a mortal, dying thing; and as to that of him which is so, what a contemptible nothing is he! There is an appearance of somewhat; but search a little, and inquire into it, and it vanishes into a mere nothing, is found a lie, a piece of falsehood, as if he did but feign a being, and were not. And so we may suppose the Psalmist speaking, upon the view of his own and the common case of man, how fast all were hastening out of life, and laying down the being which they rather seemed to have assumed and borrowed, than to possess and own : Lord, why hast thou made man such a fictitious thing, given him such a mock-being? Why hast thou brought forth into the light of this world such a sort of creatures, that rather seem to be than are ; that have so little of solid and substantial being, and so little deserve to be taken for realities; that only serve to cheat one another into an opinion of their true existence, and presently vanish and confess their falsehood? What hovering shadows, what uncertain entities are they? In a moment they are and are not, I know not when to say I have seen a man. It seems as if there were some such things before my eyes; I persuade myself that I see them move and walk to and fro, that I talk and converse with them; but instantly my own sense is ready to give my sense the lie. They are on the sudden dwindled away, and force me almost to acknowledge a delusion. I am but mocked with a shew; and what seemed a reality, proves an imposture. Their pretence to being, is but fiction and falsehood, a cozenage of over-credulous, unwary sense. They only personate what they are thought to be, and quickly put off their very selves as a disguise. This is agreeable to the language of Scripture elsewhere, Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie, &c. Psal. 62. 9. In two respects may the present state of man seem to approach near to nothingness, and so admit this rhetorication of the Psalmist, as if he were in this seose a vain thing, a figment, or a lie, namely, in respect of the minuteness, and—instability of this, his material and perishable being.
First. The minuteness, the small portion or degree of being which this mortal part of man hath in it. It is truly said of all created things, Their non-esse is more than their esse, that is, they have more no-being than being. It is only some limited portion that they have, but there is an infinitude of being which they have not. And so coming infinitely nearer to nothingness than fullness of being, they may well enough wear the name of