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PSALM CXIX. 130.
THE ENTRANCE OF THY WORDS GIVETH LIGHT; IT GIVETH UNDERSTANDING UNTO THE SIMPLE.
[Prayer-Book Translation :-"When thy Word goeth forth, it giveth light and understanding unto the simple.”]
Ir is a very remarkable fact, that while the world was almost universally overspread with the grossest ignorance of divine things, there existed a nation, not particularly eminent in arts and sciences, yet incomparably superior to the rest of mankind in every thing relating to the knowledge of God. The fact is undeniable, that the people of Israel were in this manner distinguished, not only from the less-civilized nations of the earth, but even from the people of Greece and Rome, who, in comparison with themselves, accounted all other men barbarians. While the most polished of other
nations were bowing down to stocks and stones, and their best and wisest philosophers, in their discourses on religious subjects, only darkened counsel by words without knowledge,' there prevailed amongst the Israelites, whether settled in their own country or dispersed throughout the heathen world, the most correct and elevated notions on those subjects which the unassisted reason of man appears, from the experience of all ages and countries, to be incapable of investigating.
This, I say, is a very remarkable fact ;-the more so, because the Israelites, from the long residence of their ancestors in Egypt-the cradle of idolatry, as it was of human science-might have been expected to be more than ordinarily addicted to idolatrous superstition. There is one reason, and only one adequate reason, that can be assigned for this fact; viz. that to them had been committed the oracles of God; that they were in possession of the Bible—at least a part of it-that part of which the Psalmist said, in the text, "The entrance of Thy word giveth light; it giveth understanding to the simple." This it was that rendered
the Israelites far more superior to the most intellectual and the mightiest of the nations of the earth, in divine things, than they were inferior to them in acts and power. At times, indeed, they appear to have sunk, not universally, but generally, to the level of other nations: but that was only when they were unfaithful to their trust— when they neglected the light which had been committed to their keeping. Then, like the heathen, they “became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened: professing themselves to be wise, they became fools+." And it was only by returning to the light of God's word, that they were, from time to time, recovered to a sound judgment and a correspondiug practice.
As a particular instance of this, we may remark, that the great declension from the worship of God, followed by enormous wickedness, which took place in the kingdom of Judah previous to the time of King Josiah, was owing to the neglect of the word of God; which had fallen so much into disuse, that when the copy of it was found in the
*Romans i. 22.