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9. That he should still live for ever, and not see

In this world, as the wise man observeth, Eccles.
X. 19. "money answereth all things:" and therefore
worldly men place their trust and confidence in it;
but, in " the evil day," riches shall not be found;
nor, if they could be found, would they avail any
thing towards eternal salvation. For, " what shall
a man give in exchange for his soul?" saith one, who
best knew the value of souls; as he paid the price of
that " precious redemption," which otherwise must
have " ceased for ever;" when he suffered for us on
the cross, and arose, on the third day, to life and im-
mortality, without " seeing corruption."*

* Hos versus ad Christum patres referunt, ut sensus sit, nemo
purus homo fratrem redimit, sed tantum ille homo qui etiam
Deus est. Memorant etiam interpretes R. Mosen Hazardan,
qui verba haec de Rege Messia intelligit, qui pro redemptioue fra-
trum mortiius, postea in ceternum vivat, uti prsedictum est ab
Isaia iiii, 10, Bossuet.

B 3

22 [Ps. 49.

"10. For he seeth that wise men die, likewise
the fool and the brutish person perish, and leave their
wealth to others."

The inability of man to save his brother or him-
self from death, is evinced by daily experience, which
showeth us, that the penalty due to sin is continually
levied upon all: wisdom and folly go down into the
dust together; "and then, whose shall those things
be, which have been provided?" Luke xii. 20. Their
possessions come into the hands of others, perhaps
of those for whom they never intended them, and
who have neither inclination nor ability to do the
dead man any service.

" 11. Their inward thought Z5, that their houses
shall continue for ever; and their dwelling-places to
all generations; they call their lands after their own

Various are the contrivances of vain men, to have
their names written on earth, and to procure, after
their deaths, an imaginary immortality, for themselves
and their families, in the memory and conversation
of posterity; which is not often obtained; and, if ob-
tained, is of no value ; when, vvith less trouble, they
might have had their names written in heaven, and
have secured to themselves a blessed immortality, in
the glorious kingdom of their Redeemer.

" 12. Nevertheless, xa^w^heingm honour abideth
not: he is like the beasts that perish."

The continuance of man in the world is as that of
a traveller at an inn, who tarrieth but for a night : so

Ps. 49.]


that if honour and wealth do not soon leave him, he
must soon leave them, and, like the brutes around
him, return to his earth, never more to be seen, and
little more to be thought of.* Families decay, and
are extinguished, as well as individuals; and the
world itself is to perish after the same example.
That such beings, in such a place, should think of
becomin£f Sflorious and immortal !

■fci b'

" 13. This their way is their folly; yet their pos-
terity approve their sayings."

The practice of labouring to acquire wealth and
greatness, which can be of no service after death, and
of endeavouring to perpetuate the possession of the
most uncertain things in nature, is doubtless a folly;
but it is a folly which, like many others, is at once
blamed, and imitated.

" 14. Like sheep that, or, they, are laid in the
grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright
shall have dominion over them in the morning; and
their beauty shall consume in the grave from their

The high and mighty ones of the earth, who cause
people to fear, and nations to tremble around them,
must one day crowd the grave; in multitude and im-
potence, though not in innocence, resembling sheep,
driven and confined by the butcher, in his house of

* " Comparatus est jumentis ;" quoad temporalia, niliil habet
amplius, atque omnino instar jumenti est, nisi seterna meditatur.


24« [Ps. 49.

slaughter. There death, that ravenmg wolf, shall
feed sweetly on them, and devour his long-expected
prey, in silence and darkness, until the glorious
morning of the resurrection dawn; when the once
oppressed and afflicted righteous, risen from the dead,
and sitting, with their Lord, in judgment, shall have
the dominion over their cruel and insulting enemies;
whose faded beauty, withered strength, and departed
glory, shall display to men and angels the vanity of
that confidence which is not placed in God.

" 15. But God will redeem my soul, or, animal
frame, from the power of the grave; for he shall re-
ceive me."

The righteous, as well as the wicked, descend into
the grave; to the bodies of the former it is a resting
place, as the prison was to St. Peter, till the angel
of the Lord shall awaken them, and call them forth;
while to the latter it is a condemned hold, from which,
at the appointed day, they are to be dragged to exe-
cution.* The prophet here expresseth a full and
firm faith in the resurrection; and may be conceived
as speaking in the person of Him who was first re-
deemed from the grave, and accepted by the Fatlier;
who did not " despond in the days of evil, and when
the wickedness of his supplanters compassed him
about:" as foreseeing their speedy destruction, and

* Impiorum inanitate despecta, assurgit ad bonos in Deum
sperantes, quorum Deus auimam ab inferis redimit, cum a sepul-
chro assumptos ad vitam eeternam transfert. Alioqui, neque qui
sperat in Domino plus reliquis haberet, neque prsefationi respon-
dcret hujus Psalmi doctrina. Bossuet.

Ps. 49.] 25

his own approaching resurrection and exaltation.
And, therefore, he thus exhorts each disciple of his
in the subsequent verses of our Psalm: —

" 16. Be not thou afraid when one is made rich;
when the glory of his house is increased. 17. For
when he dieth, he shall carry nothing away; his
glory shall not descend after him."

This is the conclusion of the Psalm, naturally fol-
lowing from the premises; and addressed, by way of
exhortation and comfort, to the meek and humble
disciples of the Lamb; directing them to fear God,
who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell,
and not to be afraid of the short-lived power confer-
red in this world, by wealth, over the body only.
For this purpose, nothing is requisite, but to strip
the worldling of the pomp and parade, the connec-
tions and relations of life, and to consider him, as he
is to appear on the day of his burial, when nothing
shall attend him, but his shroud, to the grave, and
his works to the judgment-seat. View him in this
light, which is the proper light to view him in, and
he will cease to be the object of fear or envy.

" 18. Though while he lived, he blessed his soul;
and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to

Such must be the worldling's end, as described
above; however, in the day of health and prosperity,
he may bless himself, and say, " Soul thou hast
goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat,
drink, and be merry." Nor will such a speech,


[Ps. 49.

whenever it is spoken, want its admirers; it will
have the applause of numbers, whose opinion it is,
that " there is nothing better for a man, than that
he should eat, and drink, and enjoy himself, all the
days of his life, which God givetli him under the


'' 19. He shall go to the generation of his fa-
thers; they shall never see light."

They who follow their fathers in sin, must follow
them likewise into the torments of that sad place
where darkness has fixed its everlasting abode, for
the reception of those that ever loved andembraced
it; and where the light of life and salvation no
longer visits those, who always hated and reject-
ed it.

" 20. Man that is in honour, and understandeth
not, is like the beast that perish."

The sum of the whole matter is, that it can pro-
fit a man nothing to gain the whole world; to become
possessed of all its wealth, and all its power; if, after
all, he lose his own soul, and be cast away, for want
of that holy and heavenly wisdom which distinguishes
him from the brutes, and sets him above them, in his
life, and at his death.

Ps. 50,] 27


Tenth Day. — Morning Prayer,

ARGUMENT. — This Psalm presents us with a magnificent de-
scription, 1, 2. of the promulgation of the Gospel, followed,
3, 4. b)'' a prediction of the terrible manner of God's coming
to judge his apostate people, Israel;* 5, 6. of the assembly to
be present, and his appeal to men and angels ; 7 — 13. the re-
jection of the legal, and, 14, 15. the establishment of the
Christian worship and services ; 1 6 — 20. the impenitent Jews
are arraigned, and, 21. threatened; and, 22. exhorted to con-
sider, to repent; and, 23. to embrace the evangelical, or spiri-
tual religion. It is to be observed, that in this Psalm, as in our
Lord's discourse on the same subject, the particular judgment
of Jerusalem is a figure and specimen of the last general judg-

* Such is the general idea entertained of this Psalm, by the
best Christian expositors, cited in Poole's Synopsis, %vhere we are
likewise informed, that the Jewish Rabbies affirm the subject of it
to be, " that judgment which will be executed in the days of
Messiah" — ignorant, alas ! that they themselves, and their people,
are now become the unhappy objects of that judgment.—
" Psalmi quinquagesimi argumentum est ex genere didactico ad
moralem theologiam pertinens, grave imprimis et fructuosum :
Deo nimirum non placere sacrificia et externos ritus religionis,
sed sinceram j^otius pietatem, laudesque ex grato animo proiiu-
entes ; neque vero has ipsas pietatis significationes, sine justitia
caeterisque virtutibus. Ita duas habet partes; primo arguitur
cultor plus quidem, sed ignarus et superstition! obnoxius ; deinde
improbus pietatis simulator. Si totum hujusce odae apparatum et
quasi scenam contemplamur, nihil facile potest esse magnificen-
tius. Deus universum genus humanum solenni edicto convocat,
ut de populo suo judicium publice exerceat ; ponitur in Sione
augustum tribunal : depingitm- Dei advenientis majestas imagini-
bus a descensu in montem Sinam petitis : coelum et terra invo-
cantur divinse justitiae testes ; tum demum inducitur Dei ipsius
sententiam dicentis augustissima persona, per reliquam oden con-
tinuata; unde cum caeteris ejus partibus admirabilis ilia exordii
majestas et splendor communicatur." Lowth, Pra^Iect. xxvii.
ad init.

^^ [Ps 50.

ment. Hypocritical and wicked Christians are therefore to
apply to themselves what is primarily addressed to their elder
brethren, the unbelieving and rebellious sons of faithful and
obedient Abraham.

" 1. The mighty God, eve?i the Lord, hath
spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the
sun, unto the going down thereof."

" God, who at sundry times, and in divers man-
ners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the pro-
phets, hath in these last days, spoken unto us by his
Son:" Heb. i. 1. The everlasting Gospel hath
made its glorious progress from the eastern to the
western world; and the nations have been thereby
called to repentance.

" 2. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God
hath shined."

The law whicb was given by Moses, proceeded
from Sinai, the mount of fear and horror; but the
word of grace and truth, which came by Jesus Christ,
issued forth from Sion, the chosen mountain of beauty
and excellency, in Jerusalem. There that glory first
arose and shone, which, like the light of heaven,
soon diffused itself abroad over the face of the whole

" 3. Our God shall come, and shall not keep
silence: afire shall devour before him, and it shall
be very tempestuous round about him."

The prophet, having described the first advent of
Christ, and the promulgation of the Gospel, now
foretelleth his coming to take vengeance on the hy-
pocritical Jews, as also, his advent to judge the world,

Ps. 50.] 29

prefigured thereby. Upon both tliosc occasions, his
coming was to be with sounds and sights of terror,
with all the marks and tokens of wrath and fiery in-
dignation, like those displayed on iSinai.

" 4. He shall call to the heavens from above, and
to the earth, that he may judge his people."

Heaven and earth, men and angels, were to be
witnesses of the righteous judgments of God, exe-
cuted upon his apostate people; as all the celestial
armies, and all the generations of the sons of Adam,
are to be present, at the general judgment of the
last day.

" 5. Gather my saints together unto me; those
that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice."

These are the words of God, summoning man-
kind to attend the trial, " calling to the heavens from
above, and to the earth, that he may judge his peo-
ple." Thus it is said of the Son of man. Matt,
xxiv. 31. " He shall send his angels with a great
sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together
his elect from the four winds, from one end of hea-
ven to the other."

" 6. And the heavens shall declare his righteous-
ness; for God 25 judge himself."

Th' applauding heav'ns the changeless doom,
While God the balance shall assume,
In full memorial shall record,
And own the justice of their Lord.


" 7. Hear, O my people, and I will speak ; O

30 [Ps. 50.

Israel, and I will testify against thee: I am God,
even thy God."

This is the voice of the omniscient Judge, im-
pleading his ancient people, who are commanded to
attend to the words of him, their God and cove-
nanted Saviour, thus constrained to clear his justice
before the world, and to show that they had de-
stroyed themselves. Nominal and wicked Chris-
tians will be addressed in the same manner at the
last day.

" 8. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices, or
thy burnt-offerings, to have been^ or^ they were, con-
tinually before me."

This judicial process was not commenced against
Israel, for their having; neg-lected to offer the sacri-
fices of the law; their oblations were on the altar,
morning and evening, continually, insomuch that
God, by the prophet Isaiah, declares himself " weary
of them," as not having been accompanied with faith
and holiness in the offerer. Many pharisaical Chris-
tians will be condemned for the same reason, not-
withstanding their strict and scrupulous attendance
upon the ordinances of the nev/ law, if it shall appear,
that they left religion in the church behind them,
instead of carrying it with them into their lives and

" 9. I will take no bullock out of thine house,
nor he-goats out of thy folds. 10. For every beast
of the forest is mine, ajid the cattle upon a thousand
hills. 11. I know all the fowls of the mountains; and
the wild beasts of the field are mine. 12. If I were

Ps. 50.]


hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine,
and the fulness thereof."

The Jewish folly of doating on the legal offerings,
as things in themselves acceptable to God, and con-
ferring justification on man, is reproved in these
verses, from the consideration, that the various ani-
mals slain in sacrifice, were long before, even from
the creation of the world, the sole right and property
of Jehovah; which, therefore, he needed not to have
required at the hands of his people; nor would he
have done so, but for some farther end and intent,
signified and represented by such oblations. What
that end and intent was, Christians know: and Jews
formerly did know. Learn we hence, not to dream
of any merit in our works and services; since God
hath a double claim, founded on creation and re-
demption, to all we have, and all we are.

" 13. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the
blood of goats?"

Another argument of the Jews' blindness is, the
gross absurdity of imagining, that a spiritual and
holy being could possibly be satisfied and pleased
with the taste and smell of burnt-offerings (which
God often declareth himself to have been,) any
otherwise, than as they were symbolical of some
other sacrifice, spiritual and holy, and, therefore,
really propitiatory and acceptable in his sight. That
man judaizeth, who thinketh to please God by an
external, without an internal service; or by any ser-
vice, without Christ.

" 14. Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy

32 [Ps. 50.

vows unto the most High: 15. And call upon me
in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou
shalt glorify me."

The carnal and bloody sacrifices of the law being
abolished by the coming of Messiah, the spiritual
and unbloody oblations of the Gospel succeed in their
stead. These are, the eucharistic sacrifice of praise
and thanksgiving for the mercies of redemption; that
hearty repentance, that faith unfeigned, and that
obedience evangelical, promised and vowed in bap-
tism : that perfect trust in God, and resignation to
his will, which our Lord expressed in his prayer,
during his sufferings, and which we ought to express
in our prayers, when called to suffer with him, if we
desire to glorify God for our deliverance through
him, in the day of visitation. These are the ser-
vices enjoined to such Jews as would become Chris-
tians, and to such Christians, as would be Christians
in deed and in truth.

" 16. But unto the wicked God saith, What
hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou
shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth : 17. See-
ing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words
behind thee?"

From hence, to the end of the Psalm, we have an
expostulation of God with the unbelieving Jew, who
boasted his relation to Abraham, without a spark of
Abraham's faith in his heart ; and gloried in a law,
which condemned him as a breaker of its precepts in
every instance. St. Paul's expostulation with the
same person, Rom. ii. 17, &c. is so exact a parallel



to this before us, that the one will be the best com-
ment upon the other — " Behold, thou art called a
Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of
God, and knowest his will, and approvest the things
that are more excellent, being instructed out of the
law ; and art confident that thou thyself art a guide
of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,
an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which
hast the form of knowledge, and of the truth in the
law. Thou, therefore, that makest thy boast of the
law, through breaking the law, dishonourest thou
God?" Every minister of God should try and exa-
mine himself by these passages in our Psalm and St.
Paul, on the former of which the famous Origen is
once said to have preached, making application to
his own case, not without many tears. And indeed,
" if thou, O Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, who
among us all shall stand? But there is forgiveness
with thee:" Ps. cxxx. 3, 4.

" 18. When thou sawest a thief, then thou con-
sentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adul-

St. Paul proceeds in the very same manner —
*' Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not
thyself? Thou that preachest a man should not
steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man
should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adul-
tery? Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit
sacrilege?" All Christians, the clergy especially,
should beware not only of committing evil themselves,
but of *' consenting" to, or " partaking" of, the evil
committed by others.


[Ps. 50.

" 19. Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy
tongue frameth deceit. 20. Thou sittest and


speakest against thy brother: thou slanderest thine
own mother's son."

Had St. Paul thought proper to have gone on to
this instance, he might have said — "Thou that teach-
est a man should not bear false witness, dost thou
bear false witness?" For certahily never men brake
that commandment in a more flagrant manner than
the Jews; never men " gave" their " mouth" more
" to evil," or " framed" more " deceit," than they,
when they " sat and spake against their brethren,"
and " slandered their own mothers' children," for
believing in Jesus Christ. Let us look at this pic-
ture of slander, and we shall never fall in love with
so detestable a vice.

"21. These things hast thou done, and I kept
silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a
one as thyself; but I will reprove thee, and set them
in order before thine eyes."

The forbearance of God only tempted the Jews
still to think him on their side, till at length he made
the Roman armies his instruments of conviction; who,
by crucifying multitudes of their countrymen in sight
of the besieged, did in a wonderful manner " reprove
them, and set before them the things which they
had done." The day of judgment will do this to all
sinners, if temporal chastisements effect it not, before
that day shall come.

Online LibraryGeorge HorneA commentary on the book of Psalms (Volume 2) → online text (page 2 of 24)