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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 149". The Biblical Illustrator. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tbi/ psalms-149.html. 1905-1909. New York.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 149". The Biblical Illustrator. https://studylight.org/
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Sing unto the Lord a new song.
The song of the saints
1. The elect, regenerate, or true believers have a song of their own for mercies proper to them, beside the praise which they have to give for the Lord’s work round about them, and therefore they have a proper reason to praise God for their own particular.
2. The song of the redeemed elect and converted is a new song which shall never wax old, nor be cut off, an everlasting song.
3. It is God’s ordinance that the worshippers of the Lord should have assemblies and meetings wherein publicly and jointly they may glorify the Lord in proclaiming cheerfully His praise. (D. Dickson.)
Mr. Moody says: “There is much more said in the Bible about praise than about prayer. The Psalms are nothing but praise, and as David got nearer the end of the journey he seems to have thought of little else. So it is with Christians--the nearer they get to heaven, the more they praise God. Everything that God has created except the heart of man praises Him. I knew a man who always used to praise God under any circumstances. One day he came in with a severe cut on his finger, and said, ‘Praise God, I didn’t cut it off.’ Let us also praise God that our misfortunes are no worse.”
Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
The children of Zion joyful in their King
I. Believers in their character as “the children of Zion.”
1. Zion is here used as the name of “the kingdom” of which all believers are the subjects.
2. But while believers are subjects they are also children.
(1) They entered “the Kingdom” by birth--“born of God.”
(2) Inherit it--“brethren of Christ”--“sons of God”--“heirs of God”--joint-heirs, etc.
(3) High place in the Kingdom--children’s interests and affection. “Behold, what manner of love,” etc.
II. Jesus Christ in His character and office of “King of Zion.”
1. Anointed. “I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion.”
2. A Legislator. “The Lord is our Lawgiver.”
3. An Administrator. “Zion, Thy God reigneth.”
4. He subdues to His laws.
(1) His people are under authority.
(2) None else can, without sin, be called the King of Zion.
(3) Believers must not yield obedience to any other in Zion.
(4) Submission to Christ’s officers is submission to Christ.
5. He defends His subjects (Galatians 4:22).
III. The children of Zion “joyful”
1. Joy--a fruit of the Spirit--“Reioice in the Lord.”
2. Joy--a command--“Be joyful.”
3. Joy--a feeling, often beautifully expressed in the prophecies and “songs of Zion.”
4. This joy a most natural and proper feeling. They possess--
IV. The children of Zion “joyful in their King.” They rejoice--
1. Because Jesus Christ the Lord reigneth.
2. Because of His greatness and glory.
(1) He is a Divine King--the Eternal God.
(2) He is a Kinsman and Brother.
(3) He is a Redeeming King.
3. Because of the blessings which He has and gives.
4. Because of the relations in which He stands to them.
5. Because of what He has done for His people--for them--in them.
6. Because of what He will still do for His people--
(1) For each of them.
(2) For the whole house.
(a) On earth.
(b) In Heaven--throughout eternity. (J. Stewart.)
The children of Zion joyful in their King
I. Believers are “the children of Zion.”
1. Zion is often used as an emblem of the Church of God (Psalms 2:6; Isaiah 28:16; Romans 9:33; 1 Peter 2:6).
(1) It was stable (Psalms 125:1); so is the Church (Matthew 16:18).
(2) It was secure (Psalms 48:3; Psalms 48:11-12); so is the Church (Ephesians 5:29).
(3) The situation of Zion was exceeding beautiful (Psalms 48:2); so is that of the Church (Matthew 5:14).
(4) Zion was a holy mountain; because on Mount Moriah, which joined it on the north-east, the temple of God was built (2 Chronicles 3:1; Psalms 48:1); the Church is holy (Ephesians 5:27).
(5) Mount Zion was peculiarly loved by God (Psalms 88:2); so is the Church (Ephesians 5:25).
2. Believers are children of Zion by birth. Naturally we are all “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise” (Ephesians 2:11-12).
3. Believers can continue children of Zion no longer than while they retain faith (Hebrews 10:38).
4. Zion is emblematic of heaven (Hebrews 12:22; Rev 14:1; 1 Corinthians 2:9; Revelation 22:4; Revelation 22:10-21).
5. Believers are children of Zion by a title to heaven (Acts 26:18; Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 1:12; 1 Peter 1:3-4).
II. Believers have a “King.”
1. Royalty is the centre of supremacy. A king is a supreme governor. God in this sense is the King of believers.
2. Royalty is the source of legislation. God is the Legislator of His people. His code is more pure than any ever conceived by the human mind for the perfection of human jurisprudence (Romans 7:12).
3. Royalty is the fountain of protection (Job 1:10; Psalms 5:12; Psalms 27:1; Psalms 37:17; Psalms 37:39; Psalms 55:22; Psalms 118:8-12; Psalms 146:3-6).
III. Believers should be “joyful in their King.”
1. Because He is the most glorious and dignified of all beings.
(1) Consider His nature. He is the independent Jehovah.
(2) Consider His moral attributes.
2. Because by His charter they enjoy great privileges and immunities. He communicates to them through His Spirit an evidence of their acceptance (Romans 8:16); and through His Word exceeding great and precious promises (2 Peter 1:4). They possess peace and joy (Romans 14:17; Romans 15:13).
3. Because the monuments of their great men are protected. The Bible is a record of the saints. In it are contained monuments of their patience, meekness, courage, faith and heavenly-mindedness, Here we are taught to admire their virtues, and excited to follow their example (Hebrews 6:12).
4. Because their enemies are totally inefficient to disturb His government (Deuteronomy 33:26-29; Psalms 93:1).
5. Because His kingdom will ultimately be universal, and all opposing powers will be destroyed.
1. How great and glorious is the moral elevation of a believer, and how insignificant does the honour of this world appear contrasted with the dignity of a Christian!
2. How great should be our solicitude to become subjects of the spiritual kingdom of Jehovah.
3. How indefatigable should we be in spreading the knowledge of God by personal instruction, by example, and by the dedication of property, talents and influence! (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
Believers joyful in their King
I. The Lord Jesus is our King.
1. He is in person and character pre-eminent-above all others even of the saintliest, and wisest, and noblest.
2. To each believer He is a King to be obeyed. When His blood cleanses us, His love rules us.
3. He is King in the midst of His Church. Secular courts have no authority in the Kingdom of Jesus.
4. He will be seen to be King in the day of His second advent.
II. His royal character.
1. Was there ever such a Prince as our Emmanuel, if we think of His person, His pedigree, His descent, His nature? This King of ours is not only the flower and crown of manhood, but He is also very God of very God. He is God over all, blessed for ever: the Son of the Highest.
2. His deeds of love to us.
3. His glorious achievements.
4. The principles of His government. They are fountains of peace and purity.
III. The benefits of His reign.
1. He is the Creator of His own empire. Each one of us must own for himself, and all of us together unitedly, that He hath made us, and not we ourselves; by His sovereign grace He has chosen, and redeemed, and called, and sanctified us, therefore will we be joyful in Him.
2. While our King has created His own kingdom, He has also sanctified and sustained that kingdom. Let the streams rejoice in the fountain, let the walls of the temple be joyful in the foundation.
3. It is He who has saved us and given us peace.
4. Is there anything that is needful which He has not given? Is there anything that is good that He has withheld? Have we any virtue? have we any praise? Then not unto us, not unto us, but unto His name be the glory. Nor is it alone in the past and in the present that we are debtors; we look forward to a future of obligations.
IV. Let us be joyful in the continuance of the Redeemer’s reign.
1. The ages past have not taken away from the length of His reign.
2. The age of our King has not enfeebled Him.
3. As to His Kingdom, there is no fear of its failing.
V. Let us obey Him with delight. Let us take into our hands a duty and a thanksgiving, a precept and a praise. Let us make up our whole life of the intertwisting of duty and delight. Let us be holy and happy. Let us turn obedience into gladness. That which else were drudgery we will exalt to a priestly sacrificing as we serve the Lord with gladness and rejoice before Him. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Our King in joy
The Book of Psalms ends in a sacred tumult of joyous praise. He who ends this life with praising God will in like manner begin the next. Let us begin below the music which shall be prolonged through eternity. Like the birds let us welcome the break of day, which, when life is closing, faith discerns to be near. Concerning this joy, note--
I. It is peculiar to a certain people. “Let the children of Zion be joyful,” etc. No others can be. But ye children of Zion, be thus joyful--
1. Because of your loyalty. Ye delight to think that “the Lord reigneth.” But we are also--
2. Attached to His Person. It is not merely His throne, but Himself, that is dear to us. When any thus rejoice they sink themselves in Him, and this heightens our joy. And so does the admiration we feel for Him.
II. This joy has a most proper object. For we should rejoice to be ruled by Him, and that He is Lord of all, and that His power is so great, and His glory likewise. The old poem of one of our writers sings of the “Man of Ross,” and declares that every good thing in the town is owing to him and his benevolence. So that if you asked, “Who built this fountain?” or, “Who founded yonder school?” the one answer was, “The Man of Ross.” So surely if you ask us concerning our privileges, our hopes, yea, the vast all that we possess, our answer is, “We owe them all to our King.” Therefore let us be joyful in Him.
III. This joy is permanent in its source. Everything here below is uncertain. Many are the reasons for our disquietude. Nevertheless let us be joyful in our King. Yes, though ministers and Church members fall off from true doctrine; though there be many backsliding Christians, and so few zealous and really Christlike; though our own hearts be so cold, our prayers so unworthy, our work so scanty and our fruit so rare. Your bottle, like Hagar’s, may be dry, but yonder is the well of water which never can fail you. And when you come to die, then will he the time to be more than ever joyful in your King.
IV. This joy has certain occasions for its more especial display. When does a nation rejoice in its king? At his coronation. So, when Christ was crowned in our souls. At the royal marriage. So, when Christ united us to Himself. When peace is proclaimed after war. So, when peace was made in and for our souls. At victories. When He keeps His jubilee. On his levee days, when He receives His friends.
V. And this joy is sure to have practical results. An Eastern merchant of great wealth had in his employ a workman of great skill and genius in all works of art. But by some means this workman had fallen deeply into debt, and was sinking deeper day by day. He grew more and more depressed, and as he sank in spirit his old skill and power declined with it. Each product of his hand revealed less power. Meanwhile his creditor became more and more exacting, and at last threatened to sell the poor man’s children as slaves, according to the law of the land, unless he was paid his debt. This weighed yet more heavily upon the poor man’s soul, and his work was worse and worse. At length the merchant inquired of his steward how it was that this workman, once so renowned, was now producing nothing worthy of his former fame. “No masterpieces come from him now, and our name suffers in the market and in the esteem of the merchants. How is all this?” “My lord,” said the steward, “he is daily of a sorrowful countenance and forgets to eat bread. He keeps a long and cruel fast, for he is drowned in debt and that to a cruel creditor, and his soul pines like the heath of the desert, and therefore his hand is slow as that of an herdsman, and his eye dull as that of the owl in sunlight. And this is why his hand hath forgot all its wonted cunning.” “Send for him, bring him hither,” said his lord. He came. His lord told him that his debt should be all paid, and he and his set free. How that man worked afterwards! (C. H. Spurgeon.)
For the Lord taketh pleasure in His people.
The objects of the Divine delight
I. The people refereed to.
1. They bear the Lord’s name. They are His disciples, subjects, servants, soldiers.
2. They bear the Lord’s image (2 Peter 1:4).
3. They possess the Lord’s Spirit. He directs, comforts, and sanctifies them.
4. They are zealous for the Lord’s glory.
II. The Lord’s delight in His people.
1. In their persons.
2. In their graces.
3. In their services.
4. In all their concerns.
5. At all times, and in all circumstances. (J. Burns, D. D.)
The Lord’s delight in His people, and His designs towards them
I. The delight which the Lord has in His saints.
1. Who are the Lord’s people? “The meek.”
(1) As it respects God, it implies poverty of spirit; humiliation of heart arising from a sense of guilt, and a feeling of corruption; submission and resignation to His will; silence and patience under His rod, and a surrender of our own natural desires and inclinations to His overruling appointments.
(2) As it respects man, it comprehends lowliness of mind, and a readiness to prefer others before ourselves; gentleness of disposition and behaviour; forbearance under provocations.
2. Why does He take pleasure in them? Because they are His people, purchased by His blood, renewed by His Spirit, redeemed by His power.
3. In what respects does He take pleasure in them?
(1) He delights in the exercise of their graces towards Him.
(2) In their services.
(3) In their prosperity.
II. His gracious designs concerning them.
1. The happy effects of religion even in the present life.
2. They are “predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son”; and when they awake up in another world, it will be after His likeness, without any remaining blemish, defect, or spot. (E. Cooper.)
God’s pleasure in His people
I. The class of character described.
1. The title they bear. “His people”--
(1) By Divine choice,
(2) By regenerating grace.
(3) By personal dedication.
2. The spirit they evince. A humble, contrite spirit, softened by the power of Divine grace, and melted by the love and compassion of Christ.
II. The extent of privilege enjoyed
1. As the objects of Divine complacency.
2. As the subjects of the Divine munificence.
(1) The inestimable blessing--salvation. This consists in a deliverance from evil, and the enjoyment of all good--pardon, peace, joy, hope, heaven.
(2) The manner of its application. “Beautify.” How beautiful does the believer appear, arrayed in the garments of salvation, clothed with the robe of righteousness, and bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit--worshipping God in the beauty of holiness--going to the sanctuary to behold the beauty of the Lord. How beautiful, with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. How beautiful, laden with the fruits of righteousness, and resigned to the will of God under trials. How beautiful in death! (E. Temple.)
God’s delight in His people
I believe that every true sculptor can see in the block of marble the statue that he means to make. I doubt not that the artist could see the Laocoon of the Vatican after he had chipped for a little time the figure of the serpent, and the father, and the sons all standing out in that wondrous group, long before anybody else could see it. And the Lord takes pleasure in His people because He can see us as we shall be. “It doth not yet appear what we shall be,” but it does appear to Him. In the case of His mind and the shaping of His eternal purpose He knows, dear sister, though you are now struggling with your fears, what you will be when you shall stand before the blazing lamps of the eternal throne. He knows, young man, though you have but a few days turned from sin, and begun to struggle with vice, what you will be when, with all the blood-washed host, you shall cast your crown before His throne. Yes, the Lord takes delight in His people as knowing what they are yet to be. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
He will beautify the meek with salvation.--
Beautiful for ever
I. The character to be aimed at.
1. Towards God. Entire submission to
(1) His teaching.
(2) His chastening.
(3) All the influences of His Spirit.
2. Towards men--gentleness.
3. In themselves--lowliness.
II. The favour to be enjoyed by them.
1. Peace of mind.
2. Delightful contentment.
3. Great joy.
4. Holy character. As men and women, who are what they ought to be in Christ, grow old, their temper mellows, and their whole spirit ripens.
III. The good results to be expected.
1. God will be glorified.
2. By our meekness Christ is manifested.
3. This meekness makes a Christian attractive. If we want to draw others to Christ, we must let them see how sweetly blessed is the Christian life, and how a man can be sternly upright, and yet at the same time be blessedly cheerful,--how he can be dead against sin, and yet full of holy love to the sinner,--how he would not, to save his life, budge an inch from that which is right and true, and yet would give his life away if by blessing another he might bring glory to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord beautify us thus with salvation, and great good will come of it! (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The meek beautified with salvation
I. Their character. “Meek”--
1. Towards God.
(1) Under the Word of God--its threatenings, commands, truths and doctrine.
(2) Under the dispensations of His providence.
2. Towards man. The Christian knows that others have as much or more to bear with him than he has to bear with from others; this tends to humble him, and to keep him meek. He endeavours to “show all meekness to all men”; “in meekness instructing them that oppose themselves.”
II. Beautified with salvation.
1. The garment of salvation. It was wrought out by the Son of God, and, like Himself, is “holy and without spot.”
2. The graces of salvation (Galatians 5:22-23).
3. The glory of salvation. How beautiful will he be with the palm of victory in his hand, and the crown of glory on his head, and sitting down, with the wedding-garment wrought by the Son of God Himself, at the marriage-supper of the Lamb! (W. Bolland, M. A.)
To be religious is just to be like Jesus, and salvation, in the text, means religion; the meek there spoken of are persons who are gentle, and sweet, and kind. Now, there is something beautiful about the gentle, and sweet, and kind, although they may not be religious. How much greater, then, must be the beauty of such persons when they have, with their good qualities, religion also, with all its heavenly sweetness! Religion is not equally beautiful in all who profess to have it; a disagreeable temper may mar that beauty. The chief beauty of religion is found in the gentle, and sweet, and kind. And this beauty is seen in the face of religious people and also in all their kind acts. Bad tempers and unkind dispositions make the faces of people ugly, while sweet tempers and kind dispositions make them pretty. It is very hard to beautify some people even with religion. Some are sweet in temper and some are sour. It is a difficult thing for an artist, out of a piece of wood that is tough, and crooked, and knotted, to carve a beautiful image. And so it is not an easy task, out of some one in disposition very much like that piece of wood, to make a religious person beautiful in face and in action. But this can be done. Now, if the heathen man in old times, without any one helping him, learned to be gentle and sweet and kind, there is no one, surely, no matter how bad the disposition may be, who cannot, with God helping, learn the same lesson. I am sure that you all want to be beautiful. How can you become so? Some people think that any one can be made beautiful by wearing rich clothes and nice ornaments; but this is not what the Bible teaches us. It says (1 Peter 3:3-4). Every child can have such adorning by getting and keeping a sweet religious disposition, and by doing kindly religious acts. We have seen such beauty as this. At first, may be, we thought that some one had not a bit of beauty, but we found in that one a lovely soul and saw a lovely life; and then the plain face changed at once, and, in our sight, it became, like the soul and life, lovely too. (W. L. Spottswood.)
One of the most beautiful sights in the world is the Bay of Naples. No one who has ever seen it on a quiet summer evening, and watched it as the night gathered and through the darkness the flashes of fire from the summit of Vesuvius, like some torch of God, lighted it, can ever forget the scene. But scientific men tell us that that lovely Bay of Naples is the crater of a worn-out and flooded volcano. In the early morning of the world’s history it was perhaps the greatest volcano on earth; it belched forth from its heart floods of seething lava. At last it sank down and down, its fiery heart was quelled, the lava ceased to flow, and in from the Mediterranean, perhaps first in some glorious day of storm, swept the white caps of the sea and overflowed the crater and filled it full, and to-day the beautiful waters lie in peace and mirror back the shining heavens above. So many of our lives are like the crater. Passions have swept over us and left us worn out. But God’s grace can fill our empty lives and make them sweet and beautiful and peaceful. (Sunday Circle.)
Let the saints be joyful in glory.
The saints in glory
I. Their name. “Saints.”
1. Because they are separated. Not the world, or the god of this world, but the God who made and redeemed them, is their Master and Lord; God’s service is their service; God’s will is their law; God’s Word is their rule.
2. Because they are sanctified. By the belief of the truth as it is in Jesus their eyes are turned away from viewing vanities, and are turned towards holy objects of contemplation.
II. Their honour. “In glory.”
1. The state of glory. Heaven--eternal rest, but not inaction.
2. The place of glory. The holy city is all glorious, “having the glory of God,” within, above, and around. Its sky is ever cloudless, its light is ever clear, its sun never sets, and its day never ends.
3. The society of glory.
4. An eternity of glory.
III. Their joyfulness.
1. Wholly joyful.
2. All joyful.
3. Ever joyful. (G. Robson.)
Once, when the seraphic Samuel Rutherford was preaching, he came ere long to speak on the high praises of the Lord Jesus Christ. That was a theme upon which he was at home, and when he reached that point, and had spoken a little upon it, the Duke of Argyle, who was in the congregation, cried out, “Now you are on the right strain, man; hold on to that.”
I. Some reasons for praise.
1. The delight of God in His people--their prayers, and their praises.
2. The beauty He puts upon His people. This text may be read in three different ways. First, as in our version, “He will beautify the meek with salvation!” Next, “He will beautify the afflicted with deliverance.” Hear that, you afflicted ones; jot it down for your comfort. And, next, “He will beautify the meek with victory.” The men that cannot fight shall be beautified with victory. When the fighting men and those that stood up for their own rights will find themselves covered with shame, “He will beautify the meek with victory.”
II. Special phases of praise.
1. Glorying in God. By anticipation and by foretaste we have already obtained the life eternal, therefore, “let the saints be joyful in glory.” “I cannot get up to that,” says one. Try. At any rate, get as far as this: wherever there is grace there will be glory. Grace is the egg, and glory is the hatching of it. Grace is the seed, and glory is the plant that comes out of it. Having the egg and the seed, we have practically and virtually the glory; therefore, “Let the saints be joyful in glory.”
2. The next special kind of praise is joy in special circumstances: “Let them sing aloud upon their beds.”
(1) This is a message for the time of sickness. Praise the Lord when you are ill; sing to His glory when you cannot sleep; sing when the head aches, for that is the highest kind of praise that comes out of the body that is racked with pain. “Let them sing aloud upon their beds.”
(2) Your bed? Why, that is the place of seclusion! There you are alone. Commune with God upon your beds, and sing His praises, if not aloud with the voice, yet aloud with the heart.
(3) Upon your bed? Why, that is the place of domestic gathering; for the bed here meant is a couch, on which the Orientals reclined when they ate. Sing the Lord’s praises on your couches; that is, when you gather in your families.
(4) The bed of death. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
This honour have all His saints.
The honour paid to saints departed
The honour here alluded to is that of being special favourites with heaven and instruments in the hand of God for the conversion of sinners to repentance. “Saint,” in its original meaning, is a person set apart for the service of God, and in that sense “holy.” This was the general title of Christians in the New Testament. They were considered as persons separating themselves from the rest of the world, professing and practising holiness in all manner of conversation.
I. What honour in fact was paid to them after their decease.
1. From the records of the primitive Church it appears that, whilst the number of converts in each place of worship would admit of it, the names of all who had departed this life in communion with their brethren were particularly recited with praise to God, and offered with great solemnity at the altar in the Eucharistical service.
2. As the increase of numbers soon rendered this usage impracticable, a general oblation of them was substituted in the room of it.
(1) The general oblation of praise to God for all His saints departed we make upon a peculiar festival, marked out by our Church for this pious purpose. Even for the glorious company of the apostles, for the goodly fellowship of the prophets, for the noble army of martyrs; and indeed for the holy Church which hath been throughout all the world.
(2) Our more particular acknowledgments of praise to Him for the illustrious examples and pious labours of His most eminent and renowned champions we reserve (as Christians did in the time of Tertullian) for the yearly return of their respective martyrdoms.
(3) By both we plainly symbolize with the practice of the Church in her earliest and purest ages.
II. What of this kind is, or is not, proper to be paid them.
1. The limitations to be set to it.
(1) The saints departed are no fit objects of our prayer to them, are entitled to no sort of religious worship from us (Matthew 4:10; Revelation 22:8-9).
(2) But may we not be permitted to ask the intercession of saints departed, and through their mediation with the Lord of all things, in whose Presence we may suppose them standing, to seek a redress of our several grievances, and a supply of our respective wants? No! not this! For as we have but one God, so we have but one Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5).
(3) If any degrees of a supposed uneasiness in departed souls, upon the delay of the resurrection, should be conceived to require our prayers and intercessions that God would remove or lighten them, these the charity of our Church hath indulged to us in her burial office, where we beseech Almighty God that it may please Him of His gracious goodness shortly to accomplish the number of His elect, and to hasten His kingdom; that so we, with all those who are departed in the true faith of His holy Name, may have our perfect consummation and bliss both in body and soul in His eternal and everlasting glory.
2. What of this sort may with safety be allowed to us?
(1) We are to praise God for the benefit of their labours, through which we have been brought out of darkness and error into His marvellous light.
(2) The lustre of their example is another circumstance deserving our praises to God, which will best be expressed in our imitation of it.
(3) From the rest which they now enjoy from their labours, and from the blessedness of those who die in the Lord, we may comfort ourselves with the prospect of following them, and of partaking with them in the joy of our common Master. (N. Marshall, D. D.)
The best lot the common lot
Our present aim is to point out some of the choice gifts and privileges which pertain to all saints, but of which through mistaken ideas many deprive themselves; our anxiety is to encourage the most distrustful of God’s people to claim the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ. We specify--
I. Communion with God. That all have a personal and equal access to the heavenly Father is a precious truth.
1. Yet thousands, from a sense of personal unworthiness, touch not the sacramental cup, shutting themselves out from this fellowship with their dying Lord. They cheerfully acknowledge a fitness in others, whilst they sorrowfully fail to find that fitness in themselves. “This honour have all His saints.” If Christ received only perfect ones to His table, He would sit there alone; but He receives sincere souls, whatever may be their faults, and sitting with Him they become perfect.
2. This same self-depreciation expresses itself in the straitened supplication and lowered expectancy of many of God’s people. The Old Testament is full of glorious records of the power of prayer; the New Testament is not less rich in similar instances; and we know still that God’s ear is not heavy nor His arm shortened. Here, again, we bring in the idea of privilege, and limit marked answers to prayer and large answers to prayer to special men and extraordinary times. Yet is God’s Word most clear in this matter, levelling all up to the open throne. In our sorrow, feebleness, want, danger, fear, any of us may come to God with the confidence of Moses, the importunity of Jacob, the undeniableness of Daniel, the sweet, filial freedom of Jesus Himself. Let us act like princes of God.
II. The influence of the Holy Spirit. There is unquestionably much that is sovereign in the gifts and movements of the Spirit of God. Gifts of healing, utterance, interpretation, etc., are peculiar to certain epochs and persons. The Spirit divideth “to every man severally as He will.” But the grandest influences of the Holy Ghost--His enlightening, quickening, purifying powers--are imparted without partiality. His sovereign gifts and appointments are secondary; His essential and choicer influence is poured forth with undistinguishing richness on all receptive hearts. Let us make the great surrender, let us live in resolute purity, and concealed depths of our nature shall be broken up, unsuspected powers evoked, latent forces and talents shall surprise us into greatness. Those who can hardly stammer a testimony shall become clear and bold as golden trumpets filled with God’s breath; the coldest glow as shining braziers full of live coals; the harshest characters become “musical instruments, and that of all sorts”; the weak pottery strong and bright as adamant; the coarse, crooked instrument a polished shaft; and the vessels of wood and iron shall be transmuted into vessels of alabaster and gold full of incense and odours.
III. The witness of the Spirit. For each doubting soul there is assurance: a scroll for every bosom. The prodigal son moaned: “I am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servant:”; and this sentiment of mistrust is so deep in our heart we fail to see when the robe and ring are positively ours. Seek the sense of sonship as something belonging to you, waiting for you, and you shall not walk in darkness. Seek it with resolution. Plead for it in this very hour.
IV. Entire sanctification. We believe in the ability and purpose of Christ to cleanse us from every defilement, and to keep us in perfect purity of flesh and spirit. But are all to be thus saved? Here we falter. We think some are destined to attain pre-eminent excellence, whilst others must abide frail and faulty. Is the young student taught that some impracticable barrier separates him from the highest intellectual excellence? On the contrary, he is taught to cherish a sense of brotherhood with the illustrious spirits of all time. And it would be fraught with endless mischief if we were to deny the student the hope of utmost mental eminence. Surely then we ought to hesitate to place any gulf between the grandest characters of the Church of God and the lowliest of its members. The purpose of God is not realized in the occasional brilliant fruition of a Leighton, a Baxter, a David Stoner or a John Smith; God watches over His vineyard, watering it every moment, to the end that every flower should be full of beauty, every plant reach the ideal grace, every branch bend with the largest, ripest clusters.
V. Even into our ultimate glorification we carry the depreciating idea of ourselves. Many of God’s people live with the hope of just getting through at last; they believe “they shall not arrive in the ship, but float ashore on a plank”; they figure to themselves some subordinate place in heaven they will be thankful to secure. A false humility is about as bad as a false ambition; and it will be well for us, thinking as meanly as we please about ourselves, to cherish to the full the great promises and immortal hopes of Christianity. (W. L. Watkinson.)