Page images

ascend to heaven; let the application be made to “ God,” who will both “hear,” and help ; not to the world, which will not do one, and cannot do the other. The cries of the Son of God alone were heard for his own fake; the cries of all other men are heard for his sake.

2. In the day of my trouble I fought the Lord; my fore ran in the night, and ceased not; Heb. my hand was Aretched out in the night, and ceased not, or, without intermission; my soul refused to be comforted.

To a foul deeply sensible of the world's vanity, and the misery of fin, every day is a “ day of trouble," and the whole time of her pilgrimage is a long, dark, and wearifome"

night,” during which the feeks after her beloved by prayer; and for the sake of him, and those future joys which she expects in his presence, the pleasures of sense are put away from her, and she “ refuses to be comforted” by such comforters. An Israelite cannot enjoy himself in Babylon; a Christian cannot find perfect satisfaction in the world; a return to Jerusalem will employ the thoughts of both.

3. I remembered God, and wus troubled : I complained, and my Spirit was overwhelmed. Or, I remembered God, and made a noise, i. e. in prayer to him; I meditated, and my Spirit was obscured, or darkened, through grief and affliction.

This is a fine description of what pasies in an afflicted and dejected mind. Between the remembrance of God and his former mercies, and the meditation on a seeming defertion under present calamities, the affections are variously agitated, and the prayers dil

turbed, turbed, like the tumultuous waves of a troubled sea; while the fair light from above is intercepted, and the face of heaven overwhelmed with clouds and darkness.

4. Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so broubled that I cannot speak.

Through grief and anxiety it is, that the eyes are made to keep all the watches of the night, and wait in vain for Neep to relieve them from duty, until the dawning of the morning. To a night so spent, may a season of captivity, or persecution, be compared. Thus the ancient church looked for the first advent of Christ; and thus doth the church, which now is, expect his second ; prolonging her vigils, even unto the dawning of that morning, which is at once to put a period to darkness and to sorrow. In the mean time, she giveth herself to meditation and prayer.

5. I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times, 6. I call to remembrance my song in the night, I commune with mine ozun heart, and my Spirit maketh diligent search. Recollection of former mercies is the

antidote against a temptation to despair, in the day of calamity: and as, in the divine dispensations, which are always uniform and like themselves, whatever has happened, happens again, when the circumstances are similar; the experience of “ ancient times” is to be called in to our aid, and duly consulted. Nay, we may perhaps“ remember" the time, when we ourselves were led to compose and utter a “ song" of joy and triumph, on occasion of signal mercies


66 in

vouchsafed us. Upon these topics we lhould, " the night of affliction, commune with our own “ hearts, and make diligent search," as Daniel did in Babylon, into the cause, the nature, and the probable continuance of our troubles; with the proper methods of Thortening, and bringing them to an end; by suffering them to have their intended and full effect, in a sincere repentance, and thorough reforination.

7. Will the Lord cuft off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? 8. Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth his promise fail for evermore? 9.

Hath God forgotten to be gracious ? Hath he in anger Shut up his tender mercics?

The Psalmist now relates the process of his meditations, and of that controversy which arose in his heart between faith and distrust. While he viewed the distressful scene around him, he found himself strongly tempted to question God's love of the church; to think that he had finally rejected his people; that the promised mercy of redemption would never be accomplished ; and that indignation had constrained the bowels of our heavenly Father ; which no longer yearned towards his afflicted children. These were the thoughts suggested to a desponding soul by the defolations of Sion at that time ; and the state of things in the world may possibly be such, as to suggest the like thoughts to many in the Christian church, before our Lord shall appear again, for her final redemption. Imaginations of the same cart will offer themselves to the mind of the sinner, wheo the hand of God has lain long and heavy upon him, by the infliction of outward calamities, or the terrors of conscience.

10. And I said, this is my infirmity : but I will remember the years, or, changes of the right hand of the most High.

To the insinuations of distrust, faith now begins to reply. The sufferer checks himself in his former train of thought, and humbly acknowledges it to have sprung from a mind dispirited, and rendered timid, by misfortunes ; " I said, this is my infirmi

ty;" but he immediately strengthens himself by reflecting, that all •

changes” in the conditions of men are effected, for reasons of infinite wisdom and goodness, by “the right hand of the most High ;" which is not shortened, but can still, as formerly, when he sees fit, deliver and exalt, as well as punish and depress his people. What, therefore, though the daughter of Sion be in captivity, and her enemies insult over her? Messias cometh, who shall redeem her, and all nations; and then shall “ the right “ hand of the most High" work an universal and a glorious “ change" upon the earth.

11. I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. 12. I will medilate also of all thy works, and talk of thy doings.

Thus restored to a right frame of mind, the Psalmist, instead of brooding any longer over the calamities of his own time, resolves 19 turn his thoughts towards the divine dispensations of old; to meditate on God's former works and wonders ; his works of justice and mercy, of power and wisdom, of nature and grace; and, by gratefully celebrating



them, to invigorate his faith in the salvation to come, of which they were so many earnests and pledges. And it is this consideration, which makes the eucharistic Psalms ever pleasing, and ever comfortable to the mind; they are appeals to those attributes which have been so often displayed, in the cause of the church; they are acts of faith, looking backward to the past, and forward to the future ; they are praises, and they are prayers.

13. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary, or, in holiness; who is so great a God as our God?

Faith, now reinstated in its sovereignty over the prejudices and fears of the soul, and again placed upon the judgment feat, pronounces the “ ways" or proceedings of God to be such, as, when weighed in the balance of the “ fanctuary,” and judged of by the divine rule and manner of acting, will be found agreeable to the standard of perfect “holiness.” An aflurance is likewise expressed, that the power of God, however it may, for a time, lie dormant, yet still retains the same superiority, of which former exertions thew it to have been possessed, over the gods of the nations, the elements of nature, and the powers of the world : infomuch that nothing, which was ever called by others, or called itself “ God," was able to stand before Jehovah, the God of Israel ; " Who is so great a God as our God ?" Thus, “ All power is given unto me in heaven and in “ earth,” faith our blessed Lord, Matt. xxviii. 18. for the everlasting consolation of the Christian church. 14. Thou art the God that doest wonders; thou hast


[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »