« السابقةمتابعة »
THE RIGHT REV. THE LORD BISHOP OF SALISBURY.
BY THOMAS WILLIAMS,
THE AGE OF INFIDELITY,'
"9 IN ANSWER TO PAINE; A NEW TRANSLATION OF SOLOMON'S SONG; AN HISTORIC DEFENCE OF EXPERIMENTAL RELIGION; A DICTIONARY OF All Religions, RELIGIOUS DENOMINATIONS, &c. &c.
PRINTED FOR W. SIMPKIN AND R. MARSHALL,
WE shall introduce this book with some excellent remarks from the Preface to Bishop Herne's valuable Commentary.
"The Psalms (says this excellent writer) are an epitome of the Bible, adapted to the purposes of devotion. They treat occasionally of the creation and formation of the World; the dispensations of Providence and the economy of grace; the transactions of the patriarchs; the exodus of the children of Israel; their journey through the wilderness and settlement in Canaan; their law, priesthood, and ritual; the exploits of their great men, wrought through faith; their sins and captivities; their repentances and restorations; the sufferings and victories of David; the peaceful and happy reign of Solomon; the advent of Messiah, with its effects and consequences; his incarnation, birth, life, passion, death, resurrection, ascension, kingdom, and priesthood; the effusion of the Spirit; the conversion of the nations; the rejection of the Jews; the establishment, increase, and perpetuity of the Christian church; the end of the world; the general judgment; the condemnation of the wicked, and the final triumph of the righteous with the Lord their king. These are the subjects here presented to our meditations. We are instructed how to conceive of them aright, and to express the different affections, which, when so conceived of, they must excite in our minds. They are, for adorned with the figures and set off with all the graces of poetry; and poetry itself is designed yet farther to be recommended by the charms of music thus consecrated to the service of God; that so delight may prepare the way for improvement, and pleasure become the handmaid of wisdom, while every turbulent passion is calmed by sacred melody, and the evil spirit is still dispossessed by the harp of the Son of Jesse. This li ttle volume, like the paradise of Eden, affords us in perfection, though in miniature, every thing that groweth elsewhere, Every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food: and above all, what was lost, but is here restored, the tree of life in the midst of the garden.'" (Preface, p. i.)
The same learned and pious prelate adds, “What is said in the Psalms occasionally of the Law and its ceremonies, sacrifices, ablutions, and purifications; of the tabernacle and temple, with the services therein performed; and of the Aaronical priesthood: all this Christians transfer to the new law [i. e. the Gospel ;] to the oblation of Christ; to justification by his blood, and sanctification by his Spirit; to the true tabernacle, or temple not made with hands; and to what was therein done for the salvation of the world, by Him who was, in one respect a sacrifice, in another a temple, and in a third an high-priest for ever, after the order of Melchisedek. That such was the intention of these legal figures is declared at large in the Epistle to the Hebrews: and they are of great assistance to us now in forming our ideas of the realities to which they correspond. Under the Jewish economy, says the excellent M. Pascal, Truth appeared but in a hgure in heaven it is open and without a veil: in the church militant it is so veiled as to be yet discerned by its correspondence to the figure. As the figure was first built upon the truth, so the truth is now distinguishable by the figure." The variety of strong expressions used by David in the xixth and exixth Psalms, to extol the enlivenCeremonial or moral, without pardon and grace, could minister nothing but condemnaug, saving, healing, comforting efficacy of a law, which, in the letter of it, whether tion, do sufficiently prove that David understood the spirit of it, which was the Gospel itself. And if any who recited those Psalms had not the same idea, it was not the but it was their own, as it is that of the Jews at this hour, though their prophecies have fault of the Law or of the Psalms, of Moses or of David, or of Him who inspired both; not been fulfilled, and their types realized. He that takes his estimate of the Jewish religion from the grossness of the Jewish multitude, (as the last cited author observes,)
cannot fail of making a very wrong judgment. It is to be sought for in the sacred writings of the prophets, who have given us sufficient assurance, that they understood 'the law not according to the letter. Our religion, in like manner, is true and divine in the Gospels, and in the preaching of the apostles, but it appears utterly disfigured in those who maim or corrupt it.'" (p. 1.)-We subjoin another extract :
"It is obvious, that every part of the Psalter, when explicated according to this scriptural and primitive method, is rendered universally profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;' and the propriety immediately appears of its having always been used in the devotional way, both by the Jewish and the Christian church. With regard to the Jews, Bishop Chandler very pertinently remarks, that they must have understood David, their prince, to have been a figure of Messiah. They would not otherwise have made his Psalms part of their daily worship, nor would David have delivered them to the church to be so employed, were it not to instruct and support them in the knowledge and belief of this fundamental article. Was the Messiah not concerned in the Psalms, it were absurd to celebrate, twice a day, in their public 'devotions, the events of one man's life, who was deceased so long ago as to have no relation now to the Jews and the circumstances of their affairs; or to transcribe whole passages from them into their prayers for the coming of the Messiah.' Upon the same principle, it is easily seen that the objections which may seem to lie against the use of Jewish services in Christian congregations cease at once. Thus it may be said, Are we concerned with the affairs of David and of Israel? Have we any thing to do with the ark and the ten ple? They are no more. CONC Are we to go up to Jerusalem, and to worship on Sion? They are desolated and trodden under foot by the Turks. Are we to sacrifice young bullocks according to the law? The law is abolished never to be observed again. Do we pray for victory over Moab, Edom, and Philistia, or for deliverance from Babylon? There are no such nations, no such places in the world. What then do we mean, when taking such expressions into our mouths, we utter them in our own persons as parts of our devotions, before God? Assuredly, we must mean a spiritual Jerusalem and Sion, a spiritual ark and temple, a spiritual law, spiritual sacrifices, and spiritual victories over spiritual enemies, all described under the old names, which are still retained, though old things are passed away, and all things are become new. By substituting Messiah for David, the Gospel for the Law, the church Christian for that of Israel, and the enemies of the one for those of the other, the Psalms are made our own: nay, they are with more fulness and propriety applied now to the substance, than they were of old to the shadow of good things (then) to come.' And, therefore, ever since the commencement of the Christian era, the church hath chosen to celebrate the Gospel mysteries in the words of these ancient hymns, rather than to compose for that purpose new ones of her own. For, let it not pass unobserved that, when, upon the first publication of the Gospel, the apostles had occasion to utter their transports of joy on their being counted worthy to suffer for the name of their dear Lord and Master, which was then opposed by Jew and Gentile, they brake forth into an application of the second Psalm to the transactions then before their eyes; (see Acts iv. 25.) The primitive Christians constantly followed this method in their devotions; and particularly, when delivered out of the hands of persecuting tyrants by the victories of Constantine, they praised God for his goodness, and the glorious success and establishment of Christ's religion, no words were found so exquisitely adapted to the purpose as those of David, in the ninety-sixth, ninety-eighth, and other PsalmsSing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth: . . be telling of his salvation from day to day. Declare his honour unto the heathen, his worshi ' unto all people,' &c. &c. In these and the like Psalms, we continue to praise God fo all his spiritual mercies in Christ to this day." (Preface, p. xxiii.)
After these excellent remarks, it is needless for us to enlarge upon the same topics but there are a few other points on which it may be proper to remark; and first, as the application of the Psalms to the Messiah in the New Testament. Our humble op nion is, that when such application is used by way of argument, as in proof of his cr cifixion or resurrection, it must be considered as the direct and proper meaning of th Psalm; but that when the application is only cursory or transient, it may be consider by way of accommodation, as we often quote poetical writers, both inspired and uni spired. The same remark may be applied to quotations from the Law and the prophet which are sometimes cited in argument, and at others only by way of allusion, to dete mine which, the context in both testaments must be consulted.
The divine authority of the book of Psalms, has, we believe, never been controvert by those who admit the inspiration of any part of the Old Testament: nor can it with any appearance of reason, since they are so often referred to by our Lord and apostles as inspired about half these have David's name prefixed, and others may p