« PreviousContinue »
CONSTANT MARTYR OF CHRIST
BISHOP OF GLOUCESTER AND WORCESTER,
Written in the Time of his Tribulation and Imprisonment,
THE 23D, 62D, 73D, AND 77TH
Whoso continueth to the end, shall be saved.
MATT. XXIV. 13,
At London: Printed by Henry Middleton, Anno 1580.
REPRINTED FROM THE ORIGINAL COPY.
AN EXPOSITION OF THE TWENTY-THIRD PSALM.
THE ARGUMENT OR MATTER WHICH THE PROPHET CHIEFLY INTREATETH OF IN THIS PSALM.
Ir should seem, by the marvellous and wonderful description and setting forth of Almighty God by the Prophet and King David in this Psalm, that he was inflamed with the Holy Ghost, being delivered from all his enemies, to declare unto the world how faithful and mighty a defender and keeper God is of as many as put their trust in him. He was in great danger, and specially in the wars that he made against the Ammonites, the event and success whereof it seemeth, by the 20th Psalm, his subjects greatly feared: wherefore they commended their King (as true subjects always use) with earnest prayer unto God. And that battle, and many other dangers more, ended (wherein the godly King found always the protection and defence of the heavenly Father ready and at hand), now being at rest, he would have this merciful defence of God known to all others, that as he, in all his adversities, put his trust in the Lord, and had the over-hand of all his enemies; even so, by his example, all other men should learn to do the same, and assure themselves to find, as he found, the Lord of Heaven to be the succour and defence of the troubled, and their keeper from all evil.
And because the hearers and readers of this his most divine and godly hymn should the better understand the same, and the sooner take credit thereof in the heart, he calleth the heavenly Father (the God of all consolation), in this Psalm, a shepherd or herdman feeding his flock; and the people, with himself, he calleth sheep pastured and fed by the
shepherd. And by these two means, as by a most convenient allegory or translation meet for the purpose, from the office of a shepherd and the nature of sheep, he setteth out marvellously the safeguard of man by God's providence and good-will towards man. And in the same allegory or translation he occupieth the four first verses in this Psalm. In the first verse, and so to the end of the Psalm, he decla reth still one matter and argument of God's defence towards man, and how man is preserved; but yet it seemeth that he expresseth the same by other words and by another translation, shewing the nature of God Almighty, in feeding and nourishing of man, under the name of a Lord or King, that hath prepared a table and plenty of meats to feed the hungry and needy; and setteth forth man poor, and destitute of consolation and necessary help, under the name of guests and bidden folks to a king's table, where is plenty of all things necessaay not only to satisfy hunger and to quench thirst, but also to expel and remove them, that the poor man shall never hunger nor thirst again; and not only that, but also for ever, world without end, this poor man shall dwell and inherit, by the mercy of his heavenly King, the joys everlasting. And this last translation or allegory is in manner not only a repetition of the first in other words, but also a declaration and more plain opening of the Prophet's mind, what he meaneth in this celestial hymn.
THE FIRST PART OF THE PSALM.
WHO IS IT THAT HATH THE CURE AND CHARGE OF MAN'S LIFE AND SALVATION.
Ver. 1. The Lord fecdeth me, and I shall want nothing.
KING David saith, the Lord feedeth him; wherefore he can lack nothing to live a virtuous and godly
In this first part some things are to be considered: first, of God that feedeth; and next, of man that is fed. God that feedeth, David calleth by the name of a "shepherd," and his people he calleth by the name of "sheep." By this name of a shepherd the Prophet openeth and discloseth the nature of God to all his miserable and lost creatures, that he is content," not only to wish and desire man that is lost, to be found and restored again; but also doth seek and travail to restore and bring him home again: as it is written in Isaiah the Prophet (chap. xl.), "He shall gather together his lambs in his arm." And in Eze-kiel the Prophet (chap. xxxiv.) the Lord saith, "Behold, I will require my flock of the shepherds, &c. And I will deliver my flock from their mouth, and they shall be no more their meat: for thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will search out my sheep, and will visit them as a shepherd doth visit his sheep when he is in the midst of his scattered sheep; so will I visit my sheep, and deliver them from all places where they have been scattered," &c. And Jeremy the Prophet (chap. xxxi.) in the same sort declareth the nature of God towards the lost flock, saying: "He that dispersed Israel shall gather him together again, and keep him as the shepherd keepeth his flock." Christ our Saviour nameth himself a good shepherd, and saith (John, x.), that he was sent to call such as were not sheep of the outer mark and sign in the world, to be his sheep. This nature of the heavenly Father saw King David, when he said at the beginning of this heavenly hymn, "The Lord feedeth me," &c.
When he is assured of God's merciful nature, that sceketh the lost sheep, he openeth further the nature of God, what he will do with the sheep which he findeth; feed him (saith the Prophet David), and putteth himself for an example. Here