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is risen again, and through Him we are accepted and justified. No need then of sacrifice, which if it were needful, we should strive in vain to pay. No need of sacrifice, but much of thanksgiving, much of cheerfulness, much of an earnest zeal to show that we are thankful. God has refreshed us; let us arise with rejoicing hearts and strength renewed, and go on upon our journey. No more loitering, no ungrateful wasting of the time and spirits which He has given. We must not do dishonour to His goodness, we must not shame our feelings of gratitude. There is our daily work before us; with us it is yet day, although there are on whom the night has closed before they could do half they wished to do. It is still the day; let us hasten to make use of it, blessing God that He has given us strength of body and mind to help us to show our thankfulness. And what if on us too the night close prematurely, still if such be our feelings, it is no matter ; our work will have been done already, for it is our work to love God and His Son Jesus Christ, to be glad to serve Him here, to be happy to be taken from this life to be with Him in glory.
April 29th, 1832.
PSALM xxiii. 1.
The Lord is my shepherd, therefore can I lack nothing.
Those who attend ever so carelessly to the several parts of the church service, which vary from one Sunday to another, such as the Psalms and Lessons, must have noticed, I should think, the remarkable beauty and character of the Psalms which have been read this evening, as well as of the first of those which were read this morning. And although the notions about them may be indistinct, yet every one would feel, I think, that such Psalms as have been read this evening were well made a part of the service of the Church, that there was in them that which fitted them for the expression of the feelings of God's people at all times and in all countries, which rendered them the one perpetual sacrifice of prayer and thanksgiving to be offered by the Church to God. But this general sense of the fitness of using the Psalms as a part of our service, is very often vague and indistinct ; and when we come to repeat them, we are often at a loss to know what we mean by them ;-how far, that is, we make them our own, and repeat them as our own words and thoughts; or how far we read them merely as the work of another man, which
be here and there instructive, or even applicable to ourselves; but which, in many parts, we do but listen to or repeat with our mouths, without at all identifying ourselves with the circumstances or feelings of their writers.
I would wish, then, to state in the first place •What appears to be the right view of this question, before I say any thing of that particular Psalm from which the words of the text are taken.
Now, first of all, it is clear that if we look upon the Psalms merely as upon so many ancient writings, the works of writers whose names, and, in many cases, whose very age is unknown to us, we should then regard them as altogether expressing the feelings of other men. We might learn from them, in part, where they express any general truths, we might admire their imagery or their devotion, but we could not adopt them as our own language ; and many feelings contained in them would be such as to awaken in us no sympathy.
And if we are told upon this view of them that the Psalms are inspired, and are to be regarded as
the word of God, I do not think that this tends much to clear our notions, or makes us find them more universally edifying than we did before. For the notion of inspiration with many people, so far as they have any distinct notions about it at all, is, that God makes the human author of an inspired composition, so far as that composition is concerned, to be perfect even as He is himself perfect ; that the sentiments which he expresses must be those of perfect goodness and wisdom ; and that as God is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, so in writings inspired by God the question of the date or circumstances of the human writer is of no importance, because he is but the organ of a wisdom. and a goodness to which earthly time and circumstances must of course be altogether indifferent.
Following up this notion, men conclude farther, not unreasonably, that the language of God being all perfect, must be such as they not only may but ought to labour to make sincerely their own ; and that what the Psalmists have said was right and good for them to say, and must be no less right and good in us; for it is not properly the language of the Psalmist, but of the Holy Ghost. We find now one or more Psalms, parts of the 69th, for example, and the 109th, which contain the strongest denunciations and prayers for all manner of evil to come upon the heads of the Psalmists' enemies. This, we say, is inspired language, and therefore it must be right and good. But Christ has told us especially to love our enemies, and to pray not against, but for those who despitefully use us and persecute us. And lest we should say that this is the rule for our private enemies, but that we may curse heartily and hate the enemies of God and God's church, we find that our Lord did pray for those who crucified Himself, and who in so doing were surely as much acting the part of God's enemies as we could ever dare to say was the case with any man or men in the world. Therefore the perplexity about certain parts of the Psalms has been great and general. Some have tried to get out of the difficulty by a different interpretation of the sacred text, the constant resource of the unwise and ignorant, and which is as constantly a foolish evasion of the point which presses them, and no fair explanation. For instance, some tell us that the expressions, which in our version are rendered as wishes, are in the Hebrew expressed in the future tense ; and that they are not to be rendered as wishes, but as prophecies. And others, again, would have it that all the denunciations of evil in the 109th Psalm are not the wishes of the Psalmist against his enemies, but their wishes against him, which he repeats at length to show their bitterness against him. Others, again, of a different sort of temper, whose minds being naturally unable to distinguish truth and falsehood, have no sort of difficulty in adopting a whole set of