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50 stately and commanding, yet so destitute of weapons of earth. It provokes persecution at all times, both from its claims and from its weakness.
(1.) Thus then we cry out to God against our enemies. “When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host of men were laid against me, yet shall not my heart be afraid; and though there rose up war against me, yet will I put my trust in Him.
Teach me Thy way, O Lord, and lead me in the right way, because of mine enemies !.” Again, “O let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the ungodly cast me down ?.” Again, “Strangers are risen up against me, and tyrants, which have not God before their eyes, seek after my soul." And again, “Mine enemies are daily in hand to swallow me ur, for they be many that fight against me, O Thou Most Highest.” And again, "Hide me from the gathering together of the froward, and from the insurrection of wicked doers." Are the Psalms a dead letter, or are they spirit? Do we use them as a form, or as the voice of our hearts? If we have any meaning when we use them, surely we imply that the Church is always militant, always in warfare, never at ease, never well with the world, never shielded from its hatred, malice, and violence. And you will observe, that it is especially the proud and tyrannical who are her enemies. “Let not the foot of pride come against me.” “Tyrants seek after my soul.” “Princes also did sit and speak
1 Ps. xxvii. 2, 3. 13.
• De lyi. 2.
; Ps. xxxvi. 11. 3 Ps. liv. 3.
s Ps. Isiv. 2.
against me... I will speak of Thy testimonies also even before kings'. . . The proud have had me exceedingly in derision; .. the proud have imagined a lie against me; the proud have digged pits for me. ... Princes have persecuted me without a cause."
(2.) Next, we lay before Almighty God our desolations. As, for instance, “Thou lettest us be eaten up like sheep, and hast scattered us among the heathen. Thou sellest Thy people for nought, and takest no money for them »
“O God, wherefore art Thou absent from us so long? why is Thy wrath so hot against the sheep of Thy pasture? O think upon Thy congregation, whom Thou hast purchased and redeemed of old." For though the kingdom of the Saints extends and flourishes as a whole, yet it is open to reverses of any magnitude, schisms, defections, losses, in its separate parts.
(3.) And, further, we complain of our captivity. “Who shall give salvation unto Israel out of Sion ? When the Lord turneth the captivity of His people, then shall Jacob rejoice, and Israel shall be glad 6.” “O that the salvation were given unto Israel out of Sion! O that the Lord would deliver His people out of captivity?!” “Turn our captivity, O Lord, as the rivers in the south.”
(4.) Again, the Psalms say much concerning the poor and needy, and God's protecting them against bad men.
i Ps. cxix. 23. 46. 51. 69. 85.
Ps. cxix. 51. 69. 85. 161.
Ps. cxix. 46. • Ps. xliv. 12, 13. . Ps. xiv. 11. · P8. CIXvi, 5.
“The Lord also will be a defence for the oppressed. The poor shall not alway be forgotten; the patient abiding of the meek shall not perish for ever. Up, Lord, and let not man have the upper hand!." "The ungodly for his own lust doth persecute the poor. ... The poor committeth himself unto Thee, for Thou art the helper of the friendless ?." And in the text, “ Lord, Thou hast heard the desire of the poor; to help the fatherless and poor unto their right, that the man of the earth be no more exalted against them.” “They smite down Thy people, O Lord, and trouble Thine heritage; ... the Lord will not fail His people, neither will He forsake His inheritance.” “Our soul is filled with the scornful reproof of the wealthy, and with the despitefulness of the proud .” Now consider the state of Christendom during many centuries, when tribes of fierce barbarians poured over its face, or settled in its territory; or when tyrannical kings and nobles oppressed its people, or rose against its rulers and pastors; or when power, whether barbarian or constituted, broke in upon its sacred retirements, ill-treated their holy or studious inmates, destroyed the work or scattered the fruits of years of tranquil diligence; and say whether the Psalter is not just the book which all those variously tried, equally helpless multitudes would choose, as more fitting than any other to express their sorrows and their faith, their prayers and their hopes ?
(5.) Once more, the Psalms speak especially of the righteous being in trouble, plead for them, and wait for
1 Ps. ix. 9--19.
3 Ps. X. 2. 16.
their deliverance. “The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth them.”
“ Fret not thyself because of the ungodly, neither be thou envious against the evil doers. . . . The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever." "I was grieved at the wicked; I do also see the ungodly in such prosperity. ... O how suddenly do they consume, perish, and come to a fearful end'!” “The righteous shall flourish like a palm-tree, and shall spread abroad like a cedar in Libanus *.” “Do well, O Lord, unto those that are good and true of heart.”
Now, is it not just the peculiarity of the Christian Church, not only that it is slandered, scorned, ill-used by the world, but that all this happens to it because it is holy,—for its righteousness' sake?
Thus, on the whole, we see that in the Psalms a very wonderful provision is made by anticipation for the wants of the Christian Church. It is just the book of devotions needed by it, as it ever has been used ; supposing it to be so great and so weak, so vast a kingdom, but not of this world, as the Prophets and the Evangelists describe it to be.
Now here, of course, it is obvious to make this objection—we are not in persecution; for us to use the language of the Psalms is unreal. Christians in our own happy country have every thing their own way. The profession of the Gospel is an honour, the rejection of it a disgrace. Either, then, we are not a part of the Kingdom of Heaven, or that Kingdom is not what Gospels,
1 Ps. xxxiv. 17.
Ps. lxxiii. 3. 18.
8 Ps. xxxvii. 1. 30.
s Ps. CXIV. 4.
Prophecies, and Psalms describe it to be. But many answers may be made to this objection.
1. First, it is not necessary that all parts of the Church should be in persecution at once, either to fulfil the Scripture statements, or to justify the use of the Psalms. It suffers in its different portions at different times. We have had our trials before now; and other portions of the Church are now under similar, or rather worse, afflictions.
if we are members of the one body of Christ, we must feel for the rest, in whatever part of the world they are, when they are persecuted, and must remember them in our prayers. Nor does it avail to say that we differ from them in faith : what is that to the purpose in a question of love? Either Christianity is shut up in Britain, or not: if it is, Christ has no longer a Catholic Church, and then, certainly, the prophecies are not now fulfilled to us; or it does exist in other lands, and then we are bound to sympathize in the troubles which Christians there andergo for the name of Christ.
2. But, again, in spite of her prosperity for the moment, even in this country, the Church of Christ is in peril, as is obvious. Can we number the tens and hundreds of thousands who shrink from our Church as if antichristian, or who hate her for being Christian, and wish her downfall ? Is there no battle between the Church and the world in this country ? and no malevolence, no scorn, no unbelief, no calumny; no prospect, or, at least, materials of open persecution, though persecution, through God's mercy, as yet be away ? Consider our great towns, and reflect what a scourge in