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in prosperity or adversity, under whatever circumstances of triumph or depression, the arm of Providence, we may still trust, will be stretched forth in our defence, and “God,
even our own God, will give us His bless“ ing."
PSALM xxvi. 8.
Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and
the place where thine honour dwelleth.
ONE of the most striking features in the character of the Royal Psalmist, is that genuine spirit of piety which runs through all his writings, and renders him, perhaps, of all the sacred writers, the most perfect model for our instruction in the great duty of devotion. This deep-rooted feeling evidently had its origin in an awful sense of the Divine Majesty on the one hand, and a grateful acknowledgment of Divine mercies on the other. Hence, whatever be the occasion that calls forth his holy effusions, whether it be faith or repentance, joy or sorrow, humiliation or thanksgiving, prayer or praise, the strains are equally appropriate, equally expressive of the profoundest reverence for the attributes of the Almighty, the lowliest conviction of hu
a Preached at The Consecration of St. Paul's Chapel, in the parish of Ryton, Durham, on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1828.
man infirmity, the liveliest emotions of gratitude for benefits received, the firmest trust and confidence in Him, “in whom we live, “ and move, and have our being."
It is this inexhaustible variety in the exercise of devotion that creates so universal an interest in the book of Psalms. To whatever class of readers it may be presented, in whatever frame of mind it may find those readers, a page can hardly be turned over in which something will not be discovered adapted to the individual who seeks to profit by it. A situation can hardly be imagined, in which it may not be made eminently productive of encouragement or consolation, and “profit“ able for reproof, for correction, for instruc“ tion in righteousness.”
It is further characteristic of these highly spiritual compositions, that as they never droop or become languid from want of fervour and animation, so do they never, from excess of those qualities, give license either to superstition or fanaticism. Compared with many of the most admired performances of mere human genius, they are in these respects far above all competition. The most abstracted reasoner on the Divine perfections will find himself utterly unable to give equally clear, perspicuous, and intelligible representations of the Supreme Being, with those which are here set before him ; while the extravagancies of the devotee and the enthusiast will be put to shame, when placed in contrast with the pure, and chaste, and simple, and rational character, which marks even the most ardent and enraptured of these elevated strains.
But it is not my present purpose to enter farther into so wide a field of contemplation as this general view of the subject would afford. The words of the text admonish me to confine my observations to one part only of this extensive range, and one most befitting the special occasion on which we are now assembled. “Lord, I have loved thy habitation, and the place where thine honour dwelleth.”
These expressions are so simple, as to require no explanation ; and the sense is so obvious, that none can easily fail of apprehending it. Whatever may have been the occasion on which they were uttered, they seem almost incapable of being either misapplied or misunderstood.
They express those primary and best feelings of our nature, which, when unsophisticated and unperverted, create in us a delight in acts of public worship, and reverence for the places
in which that worship is performed. That the joy which the Psalmist experienced in frequenting the House of God, was not a light or transient pleasure, but a permanent and reverential feeling, grounded on firm principles of duty as well as of affection, his writings abundantly manifest. That it was also not a vague and indefinite notion of the Divine Presence which he cherished, such as those affect who conceive that no distinctions of time or place need be observed in acts of public worship, is no less evident. “ Lord, I “ have loved the habitation of thy house, and the
place where thine honour dwelleth." These are distinct and measured terms, clearly implying that the place in which the inspired monarch delighted to pour forth his soul in prayer, was that which, being hallowed for that special purpose, not only possessed a superior sanctity in the estimation of the worshipper, but rendered the service performed in it more especially acceptable to the Almighty himself. It was emphatically called the habitation of God, the place where His honour dwelleth. True, indeed, it is, that the Omnipotent, whom the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain, “ dwelleth not in
temples made with hands;" nor is circumscribed within any
limits that man can assign