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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 45". The Biblical Illustrator. https://studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ tbi/ psalms-45.html. 1905-1909. New York.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 45". The Biblical Illustrator. https://studylight.org/
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My heart is inditing a good matter; I speak of the things which I have made touching the king.
The song of the heavenly nuptials
In accordance with unbroken tradition of the Church from the beginning, we interpret this as a spiritual epithalamium or nuptial-song, in honour of the wondrous espousals whereby Christ the Son of God takes into most real, intimate, blissful and everlasting union and fellowship with Himself the Church of ransomed, regenerate, believing souls.
I. The bridegroom (Psalms 45:1-9).
1. In His present qualities.
(1) Comeliness of countenance (Song of Solomon 5:10-16).
(2) Gracefulness of speech. He was, indeed, in highest sense, “master of sentences”--possessor of noble and powerful gift of eloquence, which He employed in commending the true, the holy, the blissful, impressing on their attention and reception what was for health and joy to them now and for ever.
2. In His warlike preparations and achievements. Peace and goodwill, benign, never-ending fellowship for all who choose to be loyal subjects of the King of kings, and faithful followers of “truth and meekness and righteousness,” but war to the death, wounds unto death in which there is no dying, unto all who persist in wicked hostility and revolt.
3. In His kingly administration. He is God, and He became man; and it is properly in respect of His manhood--His Mediatorship especially on the side of His manhood, that we are to think of the sovereignty here spoken of as exercised. From the beginning and all through there were glimmerings, recognized and confessed, of the hidden majesty.
(1) The duration of His sovereignty. “For ever and ever;” what contrast ,to earthly kings and human dynasties!
(2) Its character. “A right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness,” etc.
(3) The personal reward which was to crown and consummate His administration. “Anointed Thee with the oil of gladness,” etc.
4. In His nuptial splendour (Psalms 45:8-9). Ivory palaces, resounding with strains of grandest music, and filled with fragrance of choicest perfumes; a queenly bride in gold embroideries, with retinue of princely virgins; and, centre of all, the Bridegroom--Immanuel, showing perfection of beauty, renown of heroism, splendour of royalty, yea, of Divine majesty, associated with all gaiety and gladness of nuptial festivity. And where and when becomes it realized? Up yonder on the other side of the resurrection.
II. The bride (Psalms 45:10-15).
1. The present summons (Psalms 45:10-12). And what have we here in the pure spiritual reality--stripped of allegorical drapery, but the substance of all genuine evangelical teaching? What is to be the central scope and aim of all pastoral labour and pulpit ministration and sanctuary ordinance and more private Christian effort but to win souls, one by one, and in collective multitude as well, from other and alien relationship unto Christ, ever more truly and nearly unto Christ?
2. The call itself. The manner of the utterance breathes the spirit of urgent solicitation, with undertone, as our ear catches it, of authoritative command; blending of majesty and grace such as is reflected in the entire range of Gospel overture and offer. And what, then, means the summons in its plain and direct application to us? It means “conversion”--the turning round of the soul, in respect of bent and aim, from course original and natural into channel that is new--transference of affection and aspiration from the sphere of the carnal into that of the holy, the heavenly, the divine.
3. The reasons which go to support the summons. He by whom or for whom it is given has--
(1) The authority to command compliance. “He is thy Lord, and worship thou Him.”
(2) The bounty--the resources and the readiness--to reward compliance. There is reward of affection direct from Himself; and there are droppings of bounty, tokens of regard, through creature instrumentalities.
(3) The excellence to deserve compliance.
4. What is spoken of the Bride (Psalms 45:13-15).
III. Messiah’s offspring and renown (Psalms 45:16-17).
1. Declaration concerning offspring to Messiah--fruit of the espousals (Psalms 45:16). In ordinary earthly households you look to find a family likeness. So it is in the spiritual household. Resemblance, first of all, to remoter ancestry--to the “fathers,” the fleshly ancestry of Immanuel, the prime and chief of these: on just such principle has an apostle hung before us a grand gallery of these in the eleventh of Hebrews. But likeness especially to the immediate common parent; and so that fine old picture-gallery takes us an to this for last halting-place and life-pattern--“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” The more that there can be seen in you, not an affected imitation, but a genuine embodiment of all that Christ was; the more that His humility, and gentleness, and purity, and integrity, and devoutness, and whatever else went to constitute His perfection of excellence, become radiant in your character, grow to be a very fragrance cleaving to you and diffusing itself from you around, the more claim have you to rank among the “children” whom He is to “set for princes in the earth.”
2. Prediction to Himself of eternal renown (verse 17).
(1) Purpose of spreading and perpetuating the renown. Can you be too prompt, too eager, too constant, in the showing forth of His praise?
(2) Assured prospect of responding praise. (D. McLean.)
A unique king
Although it cannot be proved that such a king as represented in this psalm ever existed in fact, it is obvious that he existed in the conception of the poetic author.
I. His ideal conception of his king stirred his soul.
1. An idea that appears good to a man carries with it a power to move the affections. “My heart bubbleth up.” What the mind sees clearly the heart must ever feel more or less deeply. There is a King--Jesus of Nazareth--true ideas concerning whom are “a good matter” that will break up the fountains of the heart, and make all the affections like a well of water spring up to everlasting life.
2. When the affections are properly moved there will be a free-ness and aptness of utterance. “My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” Charge a man’s soul with true emotions and he will grow eloquent.
II. His conception of his king corresponds with no known historic character. Not in Egypt, Judaea, Persia, Rome or Europe has a king appeared answering to our poet’s conception. Man has the power of conceiving better things than he has ever seen, better characters than have ever appeared. A glorious power this!
1. It is a proof of the Divine within us.
2. It is an incentive to moral progress.
III. His conception of his king approaches the divine type.
1. His appearance was beautiful.
2. His campaign was moral.
3. His rule was righteous.
4. His character was true.
5. His patron was God.
6. His influences were delightful.
7. His associations were magnificent.
8. His fame was enduring.
IV. His conception of his king was not equal to the character of kind Jesus, (Homilist.)
The things concerning Zion’s King, good matters to all His true subjects
I. The king.
1. Jesus Christ is a King.
(1) He is expressly so called by the Father (Psalms 2:6; Micah 5:2).
(2) Jesus affirms this concerning Himself (John 18:37).
(3) All true believers own and acknowledge Him to be a King, and their King in particular (Isaiah 33:22; John 1:49).
(4) He was set forth to the Church by the prophets as a King (Genesis 49:10). Also by type--David, Solomon, Melchisedec, etc.
(5) Kingly titles and epithets are given Him in Scripture. Prince of peace; blessed and only Potentate; King of kings and Lord of lords (Philippians 2:11).
(6) Kingly prerogatives and badges of royalty are ascribed to Him (Psalms 89:20; Song of Solomon 3:11; Psalms 65:1; Ephesians 3:8).
2. Jesus Christ is the King by way of eminence and excellency.
(1) He is so in respect of His person (Isaiah 9:6.
(2) He is a most ancient King (Micah 5:2).
(3):He is most singularly qualified for the management of His Kingdom (Colossians 2:3; Matthew 28:18).
(4) He is a most righteous King; He governs both His essential and mediatorial kingdoms with the strictest justice and equity (Isaiah 32:1; Psalms 45:7; Isaiah 11:5).
(5) He is a most rich and opulent King (John 1:8; Colossians 1:16; Matthew 11:27; Ephesians 3:8).
(6) He is a singularly blessed and happy King (1 Timothy 6:15; Psalms 21:6).
(7) Zion’s King is immortal, and therefore eternal (1 Timothy 1:17; Revelation 1:18).
(8) He is a most gracious, loving and affectionate King (Exodus 34:6-7).
(9) He is a most glorious King, yea, “the King of glory.” Heaven and eternal glory is a purchased possession (Ephesians 1:14), and He is the purchaser. He is the preparer of glory for all His true subjects (John 14:2). He is the bestower of glory upon all the heirs of promise (Luke 22:29).
II. Some things which concern the King, and are good matters in the esteem of his people.
1. The glory and excellency of the King’s person is a matter much set by in the esteem of all His true subjects (1 Corinthians 2:2; Philippians 3:10; John 1:14; Psalms 73:25).
2. The love of Christ; the love of a three-one God in Him, is truly a good matter to believers. Their life lies in His favour, and His lovingkindness is better than life.
3. The righteousness of our Lord Jesus is a good matter to believers.
4. The fulness of Christ is a good matter to believers (Colossians 1:9; Joh 1:14; 1 Corinthians 1:30; John 17:2; Colossians 2:10).
5. The prosperity and success of His kingdom is a good matter to all His true subjects.
6. All His commandments are good matters to His people (Psalms 119:32).
7. The very cross of Christ; all the tribulations and calamities which they are at any time called to endure for His name’s sake are accounted good matters by His true followers (Acts 5:41; Hebrews 11:26).
8. What the King Himself is to His people, what He has done for them, what He has wrought in them, and what they yet expect from Him, are all good matters in their esteem. His true subjects have already received abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness (Romans 5:17). And shall reign in life by Jesus Christ.
III. Whence it is that the things concerning the king are viewed, as matters truly good, by all who believe in him.
1. Because of the great love and regard believers have for the King Himself.
2. Because there is a real worth and excellency in all the things which concern this glorious King. They are suited to give satisfaction to the soul (Song of Solomon 2:8; Psalms 36:7).
3. Because believers have eyes to discern the value and excellency of divine things (Matthew 13:16; Matthew 16:17).
4. Because the King Himself is theirs, and they are His (Song of Solomon 2:16).
1. Of information.
(1) See from this subject the amazing condescension of the great God our Saviour, in submitting to exercise a variety of offices for the spiritual good and advantage of perishing sinners.
(2) See one special difference between the true believer and the hypocrite. Hypocrites may assent to the truth of many things taught in the Word concerning Christ; but they have no love to His person, nor can they have any heart-affection to things touching Him.
(3) See suitable exercise for the children and people of God. It is to meditate much upon Christ His person, offices, grace and fulness; particularly they should give themselves much to meditation upon His kingly office; the glory of His kingdom, with the justice and equity of His government.
(4) See when it is persons can speak suitably concerning Christ and the things of Christ. When their hearts are in some measure filled with His grace.
(5) See matter of terror to all the enemies of Zion’s King. Who are Christ’s enemies? All in a natural state and condition are His enemies; yea, the carnal mind is enmity against Him in the very abstract (Romans 8:7).
2. Of trial and examination.
(1) What views have you got of your natural state and condition? Have you seen it to be a state of sin, captivity and bondage?
(2) Did ever this glorious King reveal His powerful arm to you, thereby making you heartily willing to renounce your own, and submit to His righteousness? (Isaiah 45:24). And are you willing to be indebted to Him, not only for righteousness as the ground of your justification and acceptance before God, but likewise to deny yourselves, take up the cross, and follow Him?
(3) Do you love Christ? Can you say to Himself, Thou knowest that I love Thee?
(4) Do you love your fellow-subjects? (1 John 3:14).
(5) Have you a prevailing desire and concern for the success and prosperity of God’s work in the Church? (Isaiah 62:6-7).
(6) Is the opposition that still remains in your own hearts to this glorious King, with the many dis-honours done Him in the world about you, matter of grief and sorrow to you? (Psalms 139:21-22).
3. Of exhortation.
(1) To the true subjects of Christ.
(2) Bless God for sending His Son into the world to be your King, and determining your hearts to accept of Him by faith as made of God to you wisdom, righteousness, etc. Trust in your glorious King; this is your duty at all times, and in every circumstance (Psalms 62:8).
(3) Be glad and rejoice in your King--in His love, wisdom, power, faithfulness, all-sufficiency and immutability.
(4) Be concerned to grow in acquaintance with your King (2 Peter 3:18).
(5) Seek to have the declarative glory of your King advanced in your day and generation. We exhort all the enemies of this glorious King to relinquish the camp of Satan and come over to Christ’s standard. While you refuse to submit to His righteousness, you are in a state of the vilest slavery and bondage (Ephesians 2:3). Our Lord Jesus, the King, is your rightful Lord and Sovereign. There is no possible way for you to escape from the curse of the broken law and the wrath to come but your uniting with Christ by faith. However long you have slighted the offers of His grace, He is still waiting that He may be gracious to you. His sceptre of grace is stretched out, and He invites you to take hold of it. (T. Bennet.)
The conquests of Messiah
I. His matchless beauty (Psalms 45:2).
1. A description of His person. We have, indeed, no direct and positive information in regard to His personal appearance. But it is certainly no extravagant supposition that His human form would be rendered as fit as it could be for the indwelling of the celestial inhabitant. And it is no unwarrantable supposition that perfect, truth, benevolence and purity should depict themselves on the countenance of the Redeemer--as they will be manifested in the aspect wherever they exist--and render Him the most beautiful of men; for the expression of these principles and feelings in the countenance constitutes beauty. And it is no improbable supposition that this beauty was marred by His long-continued and inexpressibly deep sorrows, and that He was so worn down and crushed by the sufferings which He endured as scarcely to have retained the aspect of a man.
2. The qualifications with which He was endowed.
(1) The gracefulness of His speech.
(2) The sweetness and excellence of the truths He declared.
3. The Divine favour with which He was regarded. Our Lord is now in heaven on the ground of His own worthiness.
II. His glorious exploits. “Gird thy sword upon thy thigh,” etc. The propagation of the Gospel is here referred to.
1. The appellation employed. He is mighty to destroy, as those will be brought to feel against whom His wrath will be kindled; but judgment is His strange work, while it is with unbounded joy that He exclaims, “I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
2. The petition presented. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, is evidently intended. And as David said of the sword of Goliath, “There is none like that,”; so can we say with the fullest confidence concerning this heavenly instrument. “For the word of God is quick and powerful,” etc.
3. The reasons adduced.
(1) The character of the Conqueror. One who is truth itself, who is meek and lowly in heart, and who never has acted, and never will, but in strictest accordance with the principles of perfect rectitude. Blessed Jesus! ride on.
(2) The results of His victories. Not merely is He distinguished by truth, and meekness, and righteousness, but He diffuses these blessings wherever He goes.
4. The confidence displayed. “And in Thy majesty ride prosperously,” etc. That this confidence was well founded, the early history of the Christian cause abundantly demonstrates. Transformations of the most amazing kind took place; the Church beheld her converts flocking to her from all quarters, and her bitterest enemies became her most devoted friends. (Anon.)
A missionary discourse
I. A preface or introduction to what follows.
1. The subject. “A good matter; things touching the King.” Christ is the king. The things that concern Christ as a King are, the dignity of His person, the wisdom and equity of His government, the extent of His dominions, the happiness of His subjects, and the perpetuity of His reign. This is “good matter.” It is illustrative of the character of Him who is essential goodness. The nearer we approximate towards a perfection of goodness, the more this “good matter” will occupy our attention.
2. A source whence it proceeded. “My heart is inditing,” boiling or bubbling up, in allusion to water put in motion by the action of fire, or bubbling up from a spring. How the love of Christ will constrain us to speak of Him.
3. A manner of expression. “My tongue is the pen,” etc. Many imitate the psalmist in the fluency of their speech; they talk rapidly, but alas! they talk wickedly. Others converse freely and piously; but incoherently, enthusiastically, and erroneously. Let us always think before we speak; and let our words be seasoned with grace that we may minister grace to the hearers.
II. A description of character. “Thou art fairer,” etc.
1. In His person. There is moral as well as physical beauty. How holy was Christ’s soul! What wisdom, love, patience, humility did He possess.
2. In His address. He not only possessed a plenitude of grace for His own support in the arduous work in which He was engaged, but that He might instruct add console others.
3. By the commendation of Jehovah. God hath “blessed,” i.e. extolled His Son in the ascriptions of Divine titles, honours and perfections to Him.
III. A petition addressed to the messiah.
1. The cause He maintains. Not to dethrone monarchs, but to subdue vices.
(1) Truth in opposition to error, shadow, prophecy. Christ accomplished and fulfilled all righteousness.
(2) Meekness. Worldly warfare is the child of wrath; and fury and malevolence are its inseparable companions. But nothing could surpass the meekness and gentleness of Christ; and His disciples were to be formed on the same plan: “Learn of me” (Matthew 11:29).
(3) Righteousness. He Himself is the Lord of righteousness; and His laws, requirements, people and kingdom are all righteous.
2. The manner how the psalmist expected the Messiah to achieve His victories. “Gird thy sword,” etc. This is the sword of the Spirit, the word of God, the Gospel of our salvation (Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16). The power of the Gospel surpasses all description (Romans 1:16; 2 Corinthians 4:7; 1 Thessalonians 1:5).
3. The interest which the psalmist took in the extension of the Redeemer’s kingdom. He prays, “Gird thy sword,” etc. (Psalms 90:16-17; Psalms 118:25; 2 Thessalonians 3:1). The same spirit pervades all Christians. (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
The excellency of Christ
The special matter of the psalm is, “A song of loves.” This may be so called--
1. Because the psalm tells of the love of Christ to His Church, and of her love to Him. Or--
2. It may be put in the plural, as is frequent in Hebrew, by way of eminency; so that what is meant is that the love told of is most excellent and incomparable.
3. It may be so called because of the manifold fruits of that one love. But probably the second sense is the one intended here--the mystical spiritual love that is between Christ and the Church is the most excellent love. Therefore, note--
I. This love of Christ and the church in their espousals is matter of great joy and rejoicing.
1. To God Himself (Zephaniah 3:17).
2. To Jesus Christ (Song of Solomon 3:11).
3. To believers themselves (1 Peter 1:8). And the reason of all this joy is--
(1) On the part of God, because He saw the design and purpose of His grace accomplished (Ephesians 1:6).
(2) It is joy to Christ because He saw of the travail of His soul, and is satisfied. This is that He laboured for. As Rachel was to Jacob (Hosea 12:12).
(3) And it is joy to all believers because it instates them in such new relations and conditions as they never could have looked for (Isaiah 54:5). Let us learn, then, God’s infinite wisdom, condescension and goodness in disposing the way of saving poor sinners, so as that it shall be matter of joy and rejoicing to Him, to Jesus Christ and to believers themselves. We were poor, desolate, forlorn, lost creatures; and that God should bring us into a way of saving us, so as that the heart of God and Christ and our own hearts should rejoice in it; this calls for our admiration. Do we find this joy in our own hearts? Shall God rejoice, and Christ rejoice, and not we?
II. There is no love like to the love between Christ and believers--no, not the flaming love in some to their hearts, and in others to the world that even devour them. But who can tell adequately of the love of Christ? Consider it--
1. In its condescension (Philippians 2:6-8).
2. In His suffering.
3. The care and tenderness which the Lord Jesus continues to manifest towards us now He is in heaven (Hebrews 5:2; Hebrews 4:15).
Then, on the other side, I say the love of believers to Christ is beyond all other love whatsoever.
1. In a way of value (Matthew 13:45). They will part with all that they have to obtain Christ. They part with their sin, lust and corruption (Galatians 5:24). Now that love which will carry a man out to deny all ungodliness and to renounce all his own righteousness, to lose all he hath wrought in his own strength, to deny himself upon every instance wherein Christ requires him; this is a transcendent love, above all other love whatsoever.
2. The love of believers manifests itself also in suffering for Christ; and oh, who can tell what the martyrs endured from love to the Lord Jesus? So that this psalm which treats of the espousals of Christ and believers may well have this title, “A song of loves”; it being the most excellent love. Two things from hence are incumbent upon us.
(1) To labour to get a sense of this love of Christ upon our hearts.
(2) Let us examine ourselves whether we have this transcendent love to Jesus Christ in our hearts. If we have, it will continually keep us up to the mortification of all our sin; and it will make us continually ready for all the service and suffering Christ shall call us unto. (J. Owen, D. D.)
The excellency of Christ
The preface of this psalm is in verse six. The song itself from verse two to the end. First, from the preface we learn that he that lays a good foundation makes a good beginning of what he hath to say. It is from his heart.. “My heart,” saith he, “is inditing.” A sacrifice without a heart, a silly dove that hath no heart, are things that God abhors (Hosea 7:11).
I. The subject treated of.
1. In general, that it is a good matter. It is not about vain and empty, much less about wicked things, as the songs of the world are. Nor is it only about true things, for true things may have no goodness in them.
2. What this good matter is. The subject of this song is the King. And it is limited to things concerning Him; as if He had said, it is not for me, it is not for any mortal man to conceive or express all the glories and excellencies of the great King, Jesus Christ; but, saith He, something touching, something concerning Him. The best we can reach or attain unto in this world is only something touching Christ. We cannot yet behold the King in His glory, we cannot see His uncreated excellencies or beauties, nor those unspeakable glories of His person, natures, and works, as we shall one day contemplate and behold. “I speak,” saith he, “of the things I have made”; that is, which I have prepared; I will mention only the things which I have composed concerning Christ.
II. There is the manner of their delivery, both as to their conception and as to outward expression; their conception it was in his heart; as to the outward delivery, it was by his tongue. And there is a peculiarity in both. It is not an ordinary conception of the heart, it is not a common expression of the tongue. The word refers to the bubbling up of water in a fountain or spring. The heart of the psalmist was so full of these things of Christ, things touching the King, that they did naturally overflow, as water rising out of a spring naturally flows into the stream without any labour or difficulty. It is promised that it shall be thus with them who believe (John 4:14). “A ready writer” is one able with speed and steadiness to set down any thought or conception whatsoever. And now from the words thus explained let us observe--
1. That the things which concern Jesus Christ are a good matter to believers. And their being thus good to them distinguishes the sincere believer from the mere hypocrite. These latter assent to the Gospel as true, but never embrace its teachings as good; they do not cleave unto them as finding a rest, sweetness, excellency and suitableness in them for their own need. But to believers the things of Christ are good.
(1) In themselves (Colossians 1:18). Whatever is good in any kind, it all centres in Christ. The good things of Christ are God’s best things. How, then, can they be otherwise than a good matter?
(2) And they are so because believers have received the Spirit whereby they discern the excellency of them. Other men do not see such excellency (Isaiah 53:2). But believers can (1 Corinthians 2:7-10). Let us, for application, inquire, Do we esteem them good things; are they so to us? Can we say as did Paul (Philippians 3:8)? Is our satisfaction with them so high that we can be satisfied without other things? This I can say, that the nearer some have been to the loving of all things, even life itself, the better Christ hath been unto them. Examine, therefore, yourselves, whether you do not only give a naked assent to the Gospel and the things of Christ; or whether you find a goodness in them, a suitableness and satisfaction in them; that it is a good matter unto you. And let us observe--
2. Also, from the words, that it is the duty of believers to be making things concerning Jesus Christ. “Things that I have made touching the King.” Now, this is to meditate upon them and upon Christ; this it is which is here called, “The things I have made,” composed, framed in my mind. He did not make pictures of Christ, or frame such and such images of Him; but he meditated upon Christ. It is called “beholding the glory of the Lord in a glass” (2 Corinthians 3:18). What is our work and business? Why, it is to behold this glory, that is, to contemplate upon it by faith, to meditate upon it. If I have observed any thing by experience, it is this, a man may take the measure of his growth and decay in grace, according to his thoughts and meditations upon the person of Christ, and the glory of Christ’s kingdom, and of His love. A heart that is inclined to converse with Christ as He is represented in the Gospel is a thriving heart. And especially should we meditate upon Him in His Kingly offices (Isaiah 63:1). When a heart is full of love to Christ it will run over (2 Corinthians 4:13; Acts 4:20). But what sad evidence there is in men’s silence about Him, of their lack of love for Him. Lastly, that profession alone is acceptable to God and useful in the Church, which proceeds from the fulness of the heart. It is no use to be able to speak much if the heart be not full. (J. Owen, D. D.)
“A good matter”
“I speak of the things which I have made touching the King.” It is not hearsay that I am descanting upon; I am not dealing in second-hand experience. It bubbles up from within me. I am not so much a reservoir or cistern that contains supplies from other sources, but God has caused me through His grace to be as a spring of living water. An ounce of experience is worth a ton of hearsay. Well, now, what is this goodly matter?
I. First, it is concerning Christ, the king himself--His glorious person, His matchless charms, His ineffable grace.
1. Notice that as soon as we begin to speak of Jesus He appears amongst us. The first verse declares the intention of the psalmist, and he has no sooner declared his purpose than, straightway, faith perceives the subject of the song in the very midst, and love adores. “Thou art fairer than the children of men” Every other man, however good and noble, has, it must be owned, even by his most ardent admirers, some lack, some fault or blemish; but I challenge Christ’s friends or foes to find in Him any fault at all. No one was exposed to such severe tests as He; yet all men confessed that He was the Holy One of God.
2. Next, He is gloriously worthy because of His gracious words. “Grace is poured into thy lips.” The people all hung upon Him listening; He riveted their attention when He was here among men. The words that He has left to us, they are spirit, and they are life. They are the words of a King, and where the word of a king is there is power.
II. I see Him further on in the chapter ascending His throne and acting as A judge rather than as a King. “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre,” etc. The idea, if I mistake not, is that this King, though He does not set aside His regal rights, or lay His sceptre by, is virtually on the seat of justice. There He sits, dispensing justice, determining the laws, meting out evenhandedly the justice that is in His heart. Oh think of it, rejoice because of it! That throne is not a mere sham and delusion; it is a throne of justice; He reigns in equity.
III. Further on in the chapter I recognize this same King as the husband (Psalms 45:9). There is in Jesus what I may call the domestic side of His character. This should touch us very closely. He is our Husband, our Lover, our fellow-Friend. He is our glorious Head, not merely as a mighty:Emperor, but as the pledged and espoused Lover of our souls. Come near to Him till your garments catch the perfume of His, and you, too, made glad by the ivory palaces, become redolent of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia. You need not flee away from Him. He has not come to crush, and condemn, and doom you; He fights your cause, lie loves to save and serve you. Bow at His feet by all means, but you may climb His chariot too, and go forth to fight beneath His shield. (Thomas Spurgeon)
Concerning the King
The real meaning is, “I am saying to myself, my works (or my compositions) are about the King.” He keeps repeating this to himself, like some one continually reminding himself of good news which he can scarce believe for joy. The privilege he has obtained, the task he is performing, is a glory not to be missed and not to be diminished; so, lest he should flag or fail, or do his work unworthily, he keeps his enthusiasm on fire by constantly repeating, “My works are concerning the King.”
I. Choose the highest ideal for your life. Remember that the value of your work depends entirely upon the choice of your ideal. To live your life without an aim is to fling it away. The man of pressure is dead while he lives. Choose a definite ideal in life, and see to it that you choose an ideal worthy of our human estate. Though you scorn the aimlessness of a drifting life, and though energy and resolution and diligence strongly mark your character, yet you may bend all these upon an ideal that will nullify their power and lay their glory in the dust. The ideal you choose for your life is of primary importance; therefore, I pray you, consider it well. The perfect ideal for the lives of all men is found in Christ. His kingship over human character is twofold. He presents the sovereign ideal for character, and tie makes the realization of that ideal possible. Follow the vision of His glory until you find it fulfilled in your own life. The greatest moral heroes of history have been Christ’s men.
II. Having chosen your ideal, fill your heart to the brim with it. You will have what the psalmist calls “goodly matter” to deal with; therefore make your heart “well up” with it, let the springs gush forth abundantly, fill the fountains to the brim. When an evil thought comes, look straightway for a counteracting thought of good, and let that drive the other out. If another evil thought come, it shows that you have still some vacant space left, so get another holy thought to chase away the new evil. This “welling up” of goodly things in the heart will become increasingly spontaneous. Gradually the “goodly matter” which is stored in the heart will begin to spring up unbidden. The spirit will spontaneously produce celestial forms, and send forth angels even through the gates of dreams. Blessed is the life which has been thus built up into a temple of God and goodness!
III. Having chosen your ideal, and having brimmed the heart with it, flush the life to the lips with it. The royal theme of the psalmist passed from the overflowing of the heart to the outpouring of the lips. “My tongue,” he said, “is the pen of a ready writer.” You will find it a great joy to let the lips express what the heart feels. Is it not an hour of delights for the seer when he illuminates the world with the new light that has flashed on his soul? Who can tell the rapture of the poet when his heart pours forth its siren music along the shores of Lime? Aye, and if you will let your lips and lives tell out without restraint the glory of the King that reigns within you, you shall know a joy as deep as the joy of Heaven. (J. Thomas, M. A.)
“A gude word” for the King
There is a sweet story in the “Bonny Brier Bush” about a young Scotch minister who, called upon to preach his first sermon, thrust the clever discourse he had prepared into the fire-grate when he remembered the dying words of his mother, “Oh, laddie, be sure ye say a gude word for Jesus Christ.” The “gude word” from his heart brought the critical old Scotch folk to tenderness and tears, and made the kirk a very sanctuary that morning. Let us, wherever we are, and whoever we are, be ready with “a gude word for Jesus Christ.”
The glory of Christ partially described
The Alps, as a whole, are too extensive and of too varied beauty for any one artist to take into his perspective and paint upon his canvas. The best thing he can do is to portray just one or two of the main features of the scene which are visible from his point of view. It is equally the case respecting the infinite perfections and majestic character of Christ. Christ Himself in His infinite fulness has never yet been preached by mortal tongue. Man’s gifts, though surpassing those of the highest order, cannot compass such a theme. It is, however, given unto him out of a full heart to speak of the things which he has made touching the King.
Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into Thy lips; therefore God hath blessed Thee for ever.
The King in His beauty
I. The person of the king. The old world valued in a king, personal beauty, and graciousness of speech. Both are ascribed here to the King spoken of. We have to think, not of the outward form, howsoever lovely with the loveliness of meekness and transfigured with the refining patience of suffering it may have been, but of the beauty of a soul that was all radiant with a lustre of loveliness that shames the fragmentary and marred virtues of the rest of us, and stands before the world for ever as the supreme type and high-water mark of the glory that is possible to a human spirit.
II. His warfare. He is to put on all His panoply. Thus arrayed, with the weapon by His side and the glittering armour on His limbs, He is called upon to mount His chariot or His warhorse and ride forth. But for what? “On behalf of truth, meekness, righteousness.” If He be a warrior these are the purposes for which the true King of men must draw His sword, and these only. No vulgar ambition nor cruel lust of conquest, earth-hunger or “glory” actuates Him. Nothing but the spread through the world of the gracious beauties which are His own can be the end of the King’s warfare. In two or three swift touches the psalmist next paints the tumult and hurry of the fight. “Thy right hand shall teach Thee terrible things.” There are no armies or allies, none to stand beside Him. The one mighty figure of the kingly warrior stands forth, as in the Assyrian sculptures of conquerors, erect and alone in His chariot, crashing through the ranks of the enemy, and owing victory to His own strong arm alone. Put side by side with this the picture of our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem. And yet that lowly procession of the Christ, with tears upon His cheeks, is part fulfilment of this glorious prediction. But it is only part. The psalm waits for its completion still, and shall be filled on that day of the true marriage supper of the Lamb.
III. The royalty of the king. “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” In the great mosque of Damascus, which was a Christian church once, there may still be read, deeply cut in the stone, high above the pavement where the Mohammedans bow, these words, “Thy kingdom, O Christ, is an everlasting kingdom.” It is true, and yet it shall be known that He is for ever and ever the Monarch of the world. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)
The King of kings
We can be at no loss to understand what King is here meant (Hebrews 1:8-9).
I. His personal excellences.
1. They are of a moral and mental character. We must bear in mind that this whole psalm contemplates not only a king, but a Teacher-King, a Royal Prophet. He must, consequently, be, in His own person, the perfect exemplification of the Divine wisdom that He taught. Solomon, therefore, does not represent Christ by His outward splendour, of which our Lord had none, but by His spiritual perfections.
2. They are not derived; they are His own, native, meritorious perfections, for the sake of which He is worthy to reign. Now, this cannot be said of any man. If Christ had been any other than a sinless character, it must have been seen and noticed; for He passed His life in public, He was constantly surrounded by a crowd of vigilant and malicious witnesses. The same argument might be drawn from the absolute and unquestioned authority which lie always maintained over them, and which would have been weakened and destroyed if they had ever detected Him in a sin. Nor let it be imagined that all these things are said for the purpose of exhibiting our blessed Lord as a perfect model for admiration merely. The application of the doctrine lies here; that, if He had not been absolutely sinless, He could neither have been an acceptable sacrifice for sin, nor have been the great High Priest of our profession,
II. His peculiar official qualifications. “Grace is poured into Thy lips.”
1. Think of the manner in which this great Teacher-King communicated the knowledge of Himself, and His Father’s will. It is not possible for human language to express the kindness, the clearness, the tenderness that accompanied every word which proceeded from His lips.
2. Note the plenitude told of--grace is poured, not sparingly but abundantly. Now, is Christ to us altogether lovely? Did you never feel that you could part with all the world for just one beam, one spark of His infinite love; for just one drop of that heavenly joy which is the foretaste of its full fruition? I tell you plainly, I do not believe in that man’s religion at all who has strong affections for all other objects, and nothing but a cold assent, an icy, philosophic calmness to lay at the feet of Jesus. I do not believe in it, because it is not the religion of the psalmist. You have just so much religion as you have love to Christ, and not an atom more!
III. The blessing pronounced upon him. “God hath blessed Thee for ever.” This could not be said of Solomon but of Christ only. And this blessing--
1. Descends through Him upon all who are His.
2. It comprehends perpetual increase. True, the progress seems to us slow, but no important promises in the past have ever been fulfilled without similar delays.
3. Its chief fulfilment will be seen in the latter-day glory. Christ is King; submit to Him, so gracious and gentle in His rule. (D. Katterns.)
Jesus Christ compared with men
“Thou art fairer,” etc.
I. Christ is so as the son of God. All others have only a creature nature. He has the nature of God, and all the angels of God are bidden worship Him. Then should not we? And more than they, for He died for us, not for them.
II. As the son of man. The children of men are born of sinful fathers; “He was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost.” They are born with a sinful taint, but He was born without sin.
III. In work, suffering and temptation, which He shared with the children of men.
1. In work. He knew what it was. Some men never know their work; they spend their whole lives without finding it out, and consequently never do any work worth doing. But Christ knew His work. He made it His meat and His drink.
2. In suffering, too, Christ endured completely all that He was appointed to suffer. There was no putting away from Him that which He ought to bear; no hiding His face from that which He ought to see and confront. “The cup which My Father hath given me, shall I not drink?”
3. In temptation. It could not defile Him as it too often defiles us. Thoughts of wrong-doing were thrown into His mind like firebrands thrown into a house, but they never even proceeded towards the production of a wrong purpose.
IV. In his official characters of prophet, King and priest. Contrast the ordinary prophets and Christ. He was ever speaking by the Holy Spirit, ever faithful, ever possessing unlimited knowledge. And as King and priest he was perfect.
V. In four things in which men notably fail.
1. In the harmony and variety of His excellencies.
2. In the unbroken consistency of His actions.
3. In the perfection of His manifold works.
4. His influence was in all respects superior. We need nobody to tell us that Jesus Christ is better than man. Do you act the things you know best? Do you work out now the things with which you are most familiar? Certainly not. For example, you think of the children of men more than of Him who is “fairer than,” etc. And you love them more; and prize them more. They seem to give you more pleasure. You perhaps also trust “the children of men” more than you trust Him who is “fairer than the children of men.” They have often deceived you. Therefore we remind you of the truth of the text, that we may get more thought, more love, more confidence, more service, more honest speech for Him, mark, who is “fairer than the children of men.” Let us take care lest any of us, after having professed to account the Lord Jesus Christ “fairer than the children of men” should be condemned for having preferred men to our Saviour. (Samuel Martin.)
The beauty of Christ
The whole psalm tells of “the spiritual marriage and unity that is betwixt Christ and His Church.”
I. The excellence of the beauty of Christ. “Thou art fairer than,” etc.
1. It is not the beauty of His person in which the psalmist dwells with such admiration. Scripture is silent on the outward appearance of Christ. What hints there are now to show, that what, ever beauty of this kind there may have been, His sorrow, poverty and hardship had greatly destroyed.
2. But it is the beauty of His character that is told of here. He was unstained by sin, glorious in holiness. To do the will of God was His “meat”--necessary to His very existence.
II. The grace of his communications. He dwelt among us: people wondered at His gracious words. The text may refer--
1. To the gracefulness of His address.
2. To the graciousness of His words.
III. The glory of his reward. “Therefore God hath blessed Thee for ever” (Philippians 2:9-11). In conclusion, What think ye of Him? What will you ask of Him? (J. Jowett, M. A.)
Fairer than the children of men
The writer of this psalm sees his King in the light of his own adoration, and as he gazes, his subject is transfigured before him, form and raiment change, and at last he is gazing upon a glorified Being of his own vivid imagination. Take the text, then, as a description of Jesus our Lord in His superhuman excellence, wisdom and benign position. It presents to us--
I. His appearance. “Thou art fairer,” etc. There He stands, in disposition upright, pure, magnanimous, and the very embodiment of love. The clear light is produced by combination of every possible shade of colour. It is beautiful as broken up in rose, sunflower, and rainbow, but perfect in its whiteness. Christ’s soul is the pure white light resulting from the union of all possible excellencies. Every shade of worth and virtue which appears broken up and imperfect in the very best of mortals, glows in fullest splendour in His matchless character.
II. His speech. “Grace is poured,” etc.
1. His voice must have been wondrously sweet, rich and musical; His accents more entrancing than those tones of fable which calmed the mad passions of men, quieted the ferocity of wild beasts, and charmed the very stocks and stones to listen.
2. We know His manner of speech; as pure literature the utterances of Jesus are beyond praise, and will remain a joy for ever. Nowhere will you find anything which in arrangement of words and sentences seems so exquisitely a work of nature--like the unfolding of the flower, the flow of the river, and the song of the birds.
3. The matter of His teaching was the message and prophecy of grace. He brings God home to men’s hearts.
II. His beatific state. “Therefore God hath blessed Thee for ever.” We cannot judge of Divine blessing and curse from a superficial survey of present appearances. The thorny path which the Redeemer trod was His only way to the honour He sought. God has now placed Him in a position of supreme honour; He has gained the reverence and warm love of myriads, and is continually attracting more to Himself. Concentrate irate one sublime ideal all imagination can conceive of beauty of form, comprehensiveness of mind, depth and purity of soul; imagine a perfect state where the King reigns in righteousness, midst abounding peace and plenty, and all the good that God has destined human souls to realize in Christ; and you catch a glimpse of the ideal of the text. (Thomas Pitt.)
Christ Jesus, the Bridegroom of the Church, fairer than the children of men
I. Some general observations.
1. In all our inquiries after the knowledge of Christ, the first thing we ought to know and consider is His person.
2. There is an ineffable glory and beauty in the person of Jesus Christ (Zechariah 9:17).
3. There are some seasons wherein our Lord Jesus is pleased to favour believers with more than ordinary clear and distinct views of His glory and beauty (John 2:11). He ordinarily does so in the day of conversion; the pleasant month of renewed manifestations, after a long and dark night of desertions; when they are called to suffer for His sake; when deeply engaged in secret prayer, meditation, self-examination, etc. And sometimes He gives believers very clear views of His glory about the time of their departure from the present world (2 Samuel 23:5); Simeon, Anna, etc.
4. A believing view of Christ in the beauty and glory of His person throws a veil over all created excellency.
5. Those to whom the Lord Jesus has been pleased to manifest His beauty in a saving manner, may go and tell Him, as the psalmist does, “Thou art fairer than the children of men.” Yea, they should do it. They should tell Him in the way of holy gratitude and thankfulness for His amazing condescension in showing them His glory.
II. In what respects our Lord Jesus is fairer than the children of men.
1. In the glory and dignity of His person.
2. In respect of that fulness of grace that is poured into His lips.
3. In respect of His work as the Head and Surety of the New Covenant (Isaiah 12:5; Daniel 9:24; Hebrews 2:14; Isaiah 25:8).
4. In respect of the revelation of God’s mind and will which He has made to men (John 1:18; Psalms 40:10; John 17:8).
5. In a relative capacity. There are many endearing relations in which He stands to His people; and in every one of them He infinitely excels all the children of men. Among fathers, He is the everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6). Among husbands the most loving and affectionate; for He gave His life for His spouse (Ephesians 5:2). Among brethren He is the first-born. Among friends the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. Is He prophet? then He is the Interpreter, one among a thousand (Job 33:23). Is He a Priest? then He is the High Priest of our profession (Hebrews 3:1). Is He a King? He is the King of kings and Lord of Lords (Numbers 24:7). Among shepherds He is the Chief (Hebrews 13:20). Is He a Physician? then He is the Physician both of the soul and the body. He heals all manner of soul diseases among the people (Psalms 103:8). And our temporal as well as eternal life is in His hand. He gives the physician his skill, and causes the medicinal herb to spring.
6. There is an incomparable beauty and excellency in His Name. Hence says the spouse (Song of Solomon 1:8). There is safety and protection in His Name; it is a strong tower unto which the righteous run and are safe.
1. For information.
(1) We may see and be informed why believers are so much in love with Him. They have seen the King in His beauty (Isaiah 33:17); and when He is seen by the eye of faith, it is impossible not to love Him (1 Peter 2:7).
(2) We may see they have great cause and reason to rejoice unto whom God hath revealed Christ (Luke 10:2; John 17:3).
(3) We may see one special means of taking our hearts and affections off from the vain, transitory and fading things of a present world; and that is, to be much in the contemplation of the glory and excellency of the person of Christ; the fulness of grace that is in Him, the suitableness of His saving offices to the case of our souls, with the power and authority He has to put them in execution for the good of His Church and people.
(4) Is Christ incomparably fair and excellent, and every way suited to fill the hand and heart of faith? Then we may see matter of lamentation, that, though He is set before men in the dispensation of the Gospel, in the glory of His person and riches of His grace, there are but few disposed to put honour upon Him by believing.
(5) We may see that we should not content ourselves with a general consideration of the beauty and excellency of Christ; but should enter particularly into the consideration of these things in Him wherein He is fairer than the children of men.
2. For trial. Can you join with the psalmist in saying from the heart, Thou art fairer than the children of men? Is our Lord Jesus a covering of your eyes from every other Lord and lover? Do you confide in Christ, and solely rely upon His most perfect righteousness as the ground of your access to and acceptance with God?
3. For exhortation.
(1) We exhort you who have been admitted to behold the matchless beauty and excellency of our glorious Immanuel, to bless and praise a God of infinite love and grace for giving you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ.
(2) As for you who never saw any beauty nor comeliness in Christ, why you should desire Him. Satan, the god of this world, has blinded your eyes that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ hath not yet shined unto you. (T. Bennet.)
Grace is poured into Thy lips.--
Grace poured into Christ’s lips
I. The grace which is poured into Christ’s lips.
1. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon Him as a spirit of wisdom, counsel and understanding (Isaiah 11:2-3). Wisdom and knowledge discovered themselves in Him, to the astonishment of His greatest enemies (Mark 6:2).
2. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon Him as the spirit of faith and trust in God (Matthew 27:46).
3. The grace of holy gratitude and thankfulness to God, His heavenly Father, evidenced itself in Him in the highest degree of perfection (Psalms 22:9-10; John 11:41).
4. Our Lord Jesus evidenced the most cheerful and ready compliance with the will of God in every part of His work (John 4:34; Matthew 26:39).
5. The graces of humility and self-denial appear conspicuously in all the sayings and actings of Christ (Philippians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 7:9; Matthew 11:29; Romans 12:2-3).
6. The graces of meekness and patience were most perfectly exercised by Him (Hebrews 12:3; 1 Peter 2:24).
7. Our Lord Jesus is full of love; love to God, and love to the souls of men was the golden weight which engaged and carried Him forward in every part of the work Jehovah gave Him to do; so we find Him entering upon the crowning piece of the work of our redemption as to purchase, in the highest exercise of love to His, and our heavenly Father (John 14:31).
8. He was full of zeal for God and the advancement of His declarative glory (John 2:13-18).
II. In what capacity our Lord Jesus has this grace poured into his lips.
1. As the second Adam, the Surety of the New Covenant, the Head and Representative of His mystical body the Church.
2. As the Trustee of the New Covenant.
3. As the Administrator of the Covenant of grace (Acts 5:31; John 14:13-14).
4. As sustaining the character of our Head and Husband, our Father, our elder Brother, our best Friend, and the Steward set over the family of God, to give every one his portion in due season.
III. Whence it is that the grace that is poured into the lips of our glorious redeemer is condescended on as such a leading part of his glory and beauty.
1. Grace is here considered as the glory of Christ, “because in this internal grace the reparation of the image of God doth consist.”
2. This grace is the glory of Christ, “because it is that which inclines the heart of Jesus Christ unto all that goodness and kindness that He hath showed unto us.”
3. Grace is the glory of Christ, “as He is, in respect of it, the great example and pattern whereunto we ought to labour after conformity.”
4. Because grace being poured into His lips, and poured into His lips for our special benefit, it renders Him in every respect a fit match for us.
5. Because Jesus Christ is made an everlasting blessing to the sons of men in virtue of this grace that is poured into His lips; God having poured grace into His lips, hath set Him to be blessings for ever (Psalms 21:6). Men shall be blessed in Him.
(1) If it be so as has been said, that grace and holiness is that which renders our Lord Jesus so very fair and beautiful; then we may see how much grace Should be prized by us. Grace is the ornament that adorns the soul.
(2) We may see what reason we have to admire the wisdom and goodness of God, which are so richly manifested towards fallen men, in His providing such a suitable help for them.
(3) We may see matter of comfort to believers amidst all their wants.
(4) We may see grounds of encouragement to those who are yet destitute of grace to come to Christ for it.
2. Use of trial. Do you believe in God as your God through our Lord Jesus Christ? And do you endeavour to maintain the claim of faith to Him as your God and Father, even when clouds and darkness are round about Him? Do you study, through grace, to yield a cheerful and ready obedience to all God’s commandments from love to Him and a tender regard to His authority? Are you humble and self-denied?
(1) As to you who have been admitted to behold the beauty and glory of Christ by the eye of faith, and have been made partakers of His grace.
(a) We exhort you to be much taken up in the believing contemplation of the person and glory of Christ.
(b) We exhort you to use and improve the grace that is in Christ. Remember that it is poured into His lips for your behoof; that you may daily come to His fulness in the exercise of faith, and receive out of it grace for grace.
(c) We exhort you to be humble and thankful to God for the grace you have already received.
(2) As for you who are yet strangers to Christ and so destitute of saving grace. We exhort you to believe the misery of your present condition. To believe that you stand in absolute need of Christ and the grace that is poured into His lips. To believe there is grace in Christ answering to all your wants, and that He makes you heartily welcome to come to Him, and be enriched out of His fulness for time and eternity. To consider that the day of grace will not always last with you. It is a limited day, and may be shorter than you are aware of. (T. Bonnet.)
The worth of Jesus seen
Some Cornish fishermen found a belt containing diamonds. They considered it worth £20, and sold it for £20. “Ah,” said the buyer, “I expect this is worth money--I think it is worth £1,000,” and he sold it for I do not know how much. “Ah,” said the man who bought it, “this is worth money--it is worth £3,000,” and he sold it for £3,000. I believe eventually it passed into the hands of those who gave £10,000 for it. If you could only have put something at the back of the eyes of those fishermen which would have shown them the truth! That is what the Spirit of God has come for--to show us the worth of Jesus. Oh, it is such a sad thing that He should be to us so little when He wants to be so much; that we should be poor when He wants to enrich us with the treasures of His grace. (M. G. Pearse.)
Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O most mighty.
Christ a mighty conqueror
I. The warrior. The fact that He is no less than a Divine being, although for a specific purpose He assumed our nature, distinctly intimates that He should be known as the mighty God; while the power that has been given to Him as the Mediator, and the wonders He has accomplished in magnifying the law, bringing in an everlasting righteousness, spoiling principalities and powers, and destroying him that had the power of death demonstrates that, with the greatest propriety, He may be styled “the most Mighty One.” “War is the garb in which He often arrays Himself when He goes forth to scourge the guilty nations of the earth.” In this respect He is styled “the Captain of the Lord’s host”; and described as “a man of war,” and then it is emphatically added “the Lord is His name.” He is Jehovah; Jehovah Zabaoth, “The Lord of Hosts,” to show that the armies of earth and the hosts of heaven are under His control. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords; the King of glory; the Lord strong and mighty; the Lord mighty in battle. In the contest to which He is called, He never can be mistaken, for “the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Him”; and it is just as impossible that He can ever be defeated, for He is “the power of God,” as well as “the wisdom of God.”
II. His enemies.
1. Those apostate spirits who are described as “principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places.” Having fallen from their first estate, their minds are filled with implacable hostility to the Redeemer.
2. Those who persecute the followers of Christ.
3. Those who uphold any system of religious faith opposed to the spirit and design of Christianity.
4. All who have not yet experienced the renewing influences of the Spirit of God, and who demonstrate by their conduct that they are of the world lying in iniquity.
5. All who despise the institutions of grace.
III. His armour. As His kingdom is spiritual in its nature, the weapons by which its interests are to be maintained are also spiritual. The sword which Messiah girds upon his thigh signifies the Holy Scriptures, elsewhere styled “the sword of the Spirit.” But the sword is not the only instrument with which the Saviour goes forth against His enemies. Like an ancient warrior He bears a bow and a quiver replenished with arrows, calculated to do terrible execution against the enemy. By these “arrows,” we understand the announcements of the Gospel.
IV. His expedition against his enemies,
V. His victory.
1. Behold the conquest of the powers of darkness upon Calvary, when, according to ancient prophecy, the Saviour bruised the head of Satan and weakened the whole energies of his kingdom (Colossians 2:14).
2. Then, again, how terribly did the Saviour act towards the Jewish nation. The cup of their iniquity at length became full, and then their capital, in which they had maltreated the Lord of Glory, was consigned to destruction; they were driven forth as homeless wanderers throughout the world.
3. Notice the victory which Christ has gained in establishing His kingdom upon earth.
1. See the dignity and glory of the Captain of salvation.
2. Consider the danger of opposing Christ.
3. Contemplate the gracious character of the conquests of Christ.
4. Rejoice in the perfection and glory to which the Church shall be brought through the omnipotence and grace of Christ. (Robert Cairns.)
The triumph of Christ’s mediatorial kingdom
I. Confidence in the power of Christ to vanquish the souls of men.
1. The first direct and decided foe over which He triumphed was the Jewish Church. That corrupt Church murdered the Son of God. But He was silent only a little more than forty-eight hours, and then rose to speak to men, and lives to speak through men, till all nations shall hear His voice, understand and believe.
2. The political power of Rome. The Jews condemned Jesus according to their law because He was a blasphemer; but as they had lost the power of capital punishment they appealed to Rome, saying, Help us to put this man to death. Pilate became a tool in their hands, and condemned the “Just One,” but He triumphed over both.
3. The ungodly world. The spirit, theories, institutions, habits and pursuits of unregenerated humanity are in deadly opposition to Christ. But He will conquer, “He must reign.”
II. Sympathy with the cause in which he was embarked. What is the cause?
1. Truth; less party zeal, and more zeal for truth.
2. Righteousness; an unjust man is not a soldier of Christ.
3. Meekness; fidelity. Soldiers of the Cross, the Redeemer must triumph.
III. A devout appeal to heaven. “Gird thy sword.”
1. A living faith in the present life of Christ. “We are justified by His death, we are saved by His life.”
2. A renunciation of all instruments, except those that are His. Carnal weapons have been foolishly and wickedly used in the cause of Christ--cannons, soldiers; and what an insult! what falsehood! (Caleb Morris.)
Messiah’s victory predicted and desired
I. The appellation by which he addresses Christ. “Most Mighty.”
1. With respect to His Divine nature, Christ is the Mighty God; the Lord Jehovah, in whose arm dwells everlasting strength, Nor is it less applicable to Him considered as mediator. In this character He is Immanuel, God with us. He is mighty to conquer; for He has led captivity captive; He has conquered sin, and death, and hell--the three most formidable enemies that ever assailed the happiness of men, or the throne of God. Nor is He less mighty to save; for He has saved millions from the most awful fate, in the most desperate circumstances. He says of Himself, “I am He that speaketh in righteousness, mighty to save.”
2. The import of the petition is, in brief, that He would exert His might, or the power of His grace, for the conversion and salvation of sinners.
(1) That He would arm Himself with the necessary weapons. “Gird on Thy sword.” Christ has a sword of justice, to cut off incorrigible offenders; and a sword of grace, to subdue His chosen people, and make them willing in the day of His power.
(2) The psalmist petitions Christ to go arrayed in His glory and majesty; that glory and majesty with which he then saw Him to be clothed. But in what do the glory and majesty of Christ consist? I answer, glory is the display or manifestation of excellency. His glory, as God, consists in a display of the infinite perfections and excellencies of His nature. His glory, as man, consists in the perfect holiness of His heart and life. His glory, as God and man united in one person, the mediator, consists in His perfect fitness to perform all those works which the office of mediator requires of Him. He possesses everything necessary to satisfy the justice and secure the honour of God. He also possesses everything necessary to excite, encourage, and justify the highest love, admiration, and confidence of sinful men; for in Him all fulness dwell, even all the fulness of the Godhead. There is in him a fulness of truth to enlighten sinners and lead them to believe in Him. He has also a fulness of grace to pardon, sanctify and save them. Now, the display or manifestation of this infinite fulness of grace and truth constitutes the glory in which the psalmist wished Christ to appear. He wished Him also to appear in His majesty. The difference between majesty and glory consists in this: glory is something which belongs either to the person or the character of a being; but majesty is more properly an attribute of office, especially of the regal office. This office Christ sustains. He is exalted to be a Prince as well as a Saviour; He is King of kings and Lord of lords; and it is principally in His character of a king that He subdues His enemies and dispenses pardon.
(3) Next, the psalmist prays, that being thus armed with His powerful sword, and arrayed in His glory and majesty, Christ would ride forth through the world, conquering and to conquer.
II. The reasons why the psalmist wished the Saviour to go forth prosperously and the cause in which he wished him to engage. DO this “because of truth, and meekness and righteousness.”
1. He might, perhaps, intend the truth, meekness and righteousness of Christ Himself; for all these qualities belong to Him in the highest degrees.
2. By meekness, truth and righteousness the psalmist might mean these qualities in the abstract; and if this be His meaning, we must understand Him as specifying the cause in which he wished Immanuel to engage.
III. To enforce his petition the psalmist predicts the certain success which would attend Messiah if he thus rode forth to battle. “Thy right hand shall teach Thee terrible things;” that is, Thou shalt know experimentally what terrible things Thy power can perform.
1. The destruction with which He shall overwhelm His incorrigible enemies.
2. There are also many terrible things which attend, or rather precede, the conquest of those whom He makes willing to be His people in the day of His power. He sends His spirit to convince them of sin, of righteousness and judgment; sets His terrors in dreadful array round about them, and often brings them to the very verge of despair before they submit, and cry for mercy. That these are terrible things, indeed, to the awakened sinner, none who have suffered thus need be told; and such are the terrible things which the right hand or power of Christ performs when He rides forth to battle as the Captain of salvation. (E. Payson, D. D.)
The spiritual war
I. The offensive weapons. These have as their symbols the sword and arrows.
1. The sword, a heavy, massive weapon for close engagement, and inflicting terrible wounds.
2. The arrow, a light missile used to annoy the enemy at a distance. It comes whizzing through the air unseen, causes but a small wound, and is scarcely felt till its sharp point reaches the heart.
3. Now, both are emblems of one and the same thing--the Word of God. For the Word has this twofold power of wounding, sometimes as the sword, sometimes as the arrow. The first, the Word of terror, is the sword girt upon Messiah’s thigh; the second, the Word of persuasion, is the arrow shot from His bow. And thus, by the joint action of these two weapons, “peoples,” that is, whole kingdoms and nations in a mass, “shall fall under Thee,” shall submit themselves to Christ.
II. The defensive armour is to be noted (Psalms 45:8), the “refulgent, dazzling armour.” This tells of whatever is admirable and amiable in the external form and appearance of the Christian religion.
1. The character of Jesus Himself.
2. The light of good works shining in the lives of His disciples.
3. Whatever is decent and seemly in the government, the discipline and the rites of the Church,
III. “The wonders” which his own right hand was to show him are to be explained. Not “terrible things,” as the Authorized Version has it, for there is no notion of terror in the Word as here used; but of things extraordinary in their kind--grand, amazing, awful. In some of the oldest English Bibles we have here the better chosen word, “wonderful.” Now, the “wonders” which Messiah’s “own right hand” showed Him were the overthrow of Paganism and the Roman empire, and that by such seemingly inadequate means. It was, indeed, a wonderful thing, wrought by Christ’s single arm, when his religion prevailed over the whole system of idolatry, supported as it was by the authority of sovereigns, by the learning of philosophers, and most of all, by the inveterate prejudices of the vulgar, attached to their false gods by the gratification which their very worship afforded to the sensual passions, and by the natural partiality of mankind in favour of any system, however absurd and corrupt, sanctioned by a long antiquity. It was a wonderful thing when the devil’s kingdom, with much of its invisible power, lost at once the whole of its external pomp and splendour. It was a wonderful thing when the minds of all men took a sudden turn; kings became the nursing fathers of the Church, statesmen courted her alliance, philosophy embraced her faith, and even the sword was justly drawn in her defence. These were the wonderful things effected by Christ’s right hand. And in the later ages there will be terrible things also achieved by Him, when Antichrist and his armies shall be overthrown. Then in Psalms 45:6; Psalms 7:1-17 we have--
IV. The king seated on the throne of his mediatorial kingdom, ruling in perfect justice. The sceptre was an emblem of the perfect integrity of the monarch in the exercise of his power. Well, therefore, is it said, Psalms 45:6, “A straight sceptre is the sceptre of Thy royalty.” Earthly kings can never be perfectly just, for they are all liable to error and deception. But in the kingdom of Messiah there shall be no imperfection in His rule, and therefore He is anointed by God with the oil of gladness above all others. This declaration is, with the greatest propriety, applied to Christ in the Epistle to the Hebrews and made an argument of His Divinity. Thus ends this section of this psalm. (Bishop Horsley.)
The Captain of salvation, with His sword girt on His thigh, defending the Church from the rage of her enemies
I. Whence it is our Lord Jesus is designed “most mighty.”
1. He is so from the omnipotent power of His Divine nature, which is the principal of His mighty operations in the union of His person (Isaiah 9:6.)
2. He is mighty from the authority and power that was communicated and given unto Him by the Father, as Mediator, for the accomplishing of His whole work. Christ had strength and power as “the mighty God”; and He hath authority too, as all power is communicated to Him by God the Father (Matthew 28:18). And concerning the power given Him by the Father, the apostle tells us (Eph 2:22-23).
3. He may justly be designed “most mighty” from what He has done, not only in giving being and existence to all things, as God equal with the Father; but also considered as Mediator.
II. In what respects the word of Christ may be compared to a sword.
1. For defence of His people.
(1) Our Lord Jesus defends His subjects from their persecutors by His Word and Spirit. Whatever persecutors may be permitted to do with the bodies of any of God’s saints, their souls, against which the shot of their enemies is chiefly aimed, are still in safeguard.
(2) By His Word and Spirit He defends His people from the deceit and cunning craftiness of those who lie in wait to deceive them.
(3) Our Lord Jesus defends His people from all their inward enemies by His Word and Spirit.
(4) It is by means of the Word our Lord Jesus supports, comforts and bears up His people under all the tribulations in their house of pilgrimage.
2. For the downbringing of His and their enemies (Isaiah 11:4; Revelation 3:16).
III. Some things implied in his girding on his sword.
1. His appointing ordinances in the Church.
2. His calling, fitting and qualifying a Gospel ministry to bear His name before sinners. Faithful ministers are the gift of Christ to the Church (Ephesians 4:10-12).
3. His accompanying the dispensation of all His ordinances with the power and efficacy of His Spirit.
IV. Why the sword of Christ, which is his word, is called his glory and majesty.
1. Because of the purity and holiness that shines forth in every part of it (Psalms 19:8-9; Romans 7:12).
2. Because the scope and tendency of it is to declare His glory and majesty (John 5:39; 1 John 5:20).
3. Because He therein manifests His glory unto us.
4. Because of the glorious and majestic effects it has upon the hearts and consciences of men.
(1) We may see and he informed when it is that our Lord Jesus has gone through with the arduous work of men’s redemption and salvation to the glory of God and eternal consolation of all the spiritual Israel (Romans 9:5).
(2) We may see what a safe and happy people they are who have fled unto Christ by faith for refuge.
(3) We may see the egregious folly of all who endeavour to stand in the way of the advancement of the kingdom and interests of Christ.
(4) We may see with what reverence and attention men should both read the Word of God and hear it read and preached unto them (Hebrews 12:25).
(5) We may see matter of reproof to those who do not only slight and neglect the Word of Christ, but profane and abuse it.
2. Of trial and examination. What experience have you got of the powerful effects of the Word of Christ upon your hearts?
3. Of exhortation.
(1) We exhort you, who are the true subjects of the mighty Captain of our salvation, who have been subdued to the obedience of faith by the powerful efficacy of His Word and Spirit, to be faithful to Him; “endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.”
(2) We exhort all who are yet at war with this mighty One to take a believing view of the glory of His person, the greatness of His love, the riches of His grace and suitableness of His offices to the condition of your souls; and drop the weapons of your rebellion at His feet. (T. Bennet.)
And in Thy majesty ride prosperously.
The Captain of salvation riding prosperously in the Gospel-chariot and bringing terrible things to pass
I. Open and explain the various designations given to the gospel in the text.
1. It is called “the word of truth.”
(1) As opposed to error and false doctrine, whereby Satan endeavours to blind and ruin souls.
(2) As opposed to the dispensation of grace which the Church enjoyed under the Mosaic economy (John 1:17).
(3) By way of eminency in regard it is the most excellent, sweet and desirable truth (Psalms 19:10).
(4) In regard of its effects upon the hearts of those who believe it. The solid belief of the Gospel is not only accompanied with an inward change upon the understanding will and affections, but also with newness of life and conversation.
2. “The word of meekness.”
(1) In regard of Him whose word it is (Matthew 11:29; Zechariah 9:9).
(2) From the manner in which it was delivered to us by Christ and His apostles.
(3) In respect of its design and the end which through the Divine blessing it reaches among men.
3. “The word of righteousness.”
(1) On account of its purity and holiness.
(2) Because it contains a revelation of the righteousness of God our Saviour, which is the alone ground of a sinner’s access to, and acceptance in the sight of an holy and just God; yea, the leading design of the Gospel, in subordination to the glory of its Author, is to proclaim that righteousness to sinners; to set it before them as the sure foundation of all their hope and confidence (Isaiah 46:12-13).
(3) In respect of its effect. It is by looking into the glass of the Gospel by faith that the good work of likeness and conformity to Christ is begun in regeneration, and is carried on to perfection (2 Corinthians 3:18).
II. Some of the terrible things that our Lord Jesus brings to pass by means of the gospel.
1. The unhinging and removing the whole fabric of ceremonial institutions.
2. Our Lord has made terrible work upon the kingdom and interests of Satan by means of the Gospel.
3. The preaching of the Gospel by our Lord and His apostles was followed with terrible consequences to His ancient people, to whom it was first published, because of their unbelief in rejecting the compassionate counsel of God against themselves.
4. Another of the terrible things our Lord Jesus has performed by means of the Gospel is the inroads He has made upon the kingdom and power of Antichrist.
5. Our Lord Jesus performs terrible things upon the hearts and consciences of obstinate sinners by means of a dispensation of the Gospel.
1. We may infer that the Gospel is a subject very glorious and excellent.
2. We may infer how much the Gospel ought to be esteemed by all who enjoy it in purity; and the great sin of despising and neglecting it.
3. We may see the great need all who enjoy a dispensation of the Gospel have to exercise a constant dependence upon the power and grace of Christ, in order to their profiting by it.
4. We may see from this subject that our Lord Jesus is not only succeeding in the management of the affairs of His kingdom of grace, but hastening to finish the mystery of God in the Church; He is riding in the Gospel-chariot with great celerity.
5. We may see with what holy diligence it concerns all the hearers of the Gospel, to improve their day of grace and merciful visitation.
6. We may see matter of trial and examination. Try what acquaintance you have with the designations given to the Gospel in the text, in your experience.
7. We may see matter of comfort to believers. It may comfort the heart of every child of God to consider that the Captain of salvation is making way for His second coming and the accomplishment of the promise, which will crown His felicity (John 14:2-3).
8. We may see matter of reproof and terror to all the scoffers of the last times.
9. We may infer matter of exhortation.
(1) We exhort all who have experienced the power of Divine grace upon their hearts, and known the joyful sound of the Gospel in truth, to bless a God of infinite love and grace for sending the Gospel to them, and that not only in word, but in the demonstration of the Holy Spirit.
(2) As for you, who, though you are enjoying a dispensation of the Gospel, have never yet experienced the salutary effects of it upon your hearts, we exhort you to consider the great misery of your present condition. (T. Bonnet.)
Because of truth and meekness and righteousness.--
The conquest of the world by meekness
Poetry is the language of the soul; for the soul is the seat of all deeper, purer, diviner feeling. Till the spirit is touched and stirred to her very depth and inmost self there can be no poetry. A man may be set down in the very midst of Nature’s life and loveliness, amid her fields, and flowers, and streams, and mountains, and even her wildest grandeur, but if he has no communion with the soul of Nature, he can have nothing to say. He may imitate her language, but he has no real voice. Now, the poetry of the Bible is the Bible of poetry. You may find the language of feeling in other books, but this is the book of feeling. It is the utterance of the soul in its deepest moods. It lets you into the very heart of humanity. An inspired apostle has applied a certain portion of this psalm to the Redeemer of man.
I. That the conquest of our world by Christ implies rather its redemption than its subjugation, Man has been so brought under the yoke by the power of evil that his nature is comparatively enslaved. The spirit is enthralled by the flesh. The higher nature by the lower. Bondage is mistaken for freedom. The will of God is to reverse all this, to bring back man to his original condition. And to accomplish this Christ came. His life must be sacrificed to effect our deliverance, and He gave it up willingly and without reserve. Though we are taken from under the yoke of an enslaving bondage, our redemption does not place us above law, or take us from the sphere of its influence. We are under law to Him who hath redeemed us. As His freemen we owe Him our allegiance and submission.
II. That he who is to effect this conquest is revealed to us as invested with attributes corresponding to the grandeur of his enterprise. He is clothed with might, majesty and glory. Of these perfections, as they are united in the Godhead, we have many striking manifestations. See the giving of the law on Mount Sinai. Or the prophet describing the calamities which God was about to inflict on the enemies of His Church and people, represents His brightness as the light, and burning coals going forth at His feet, and at whose descent the everlasting mountains were scattered, and the perpetual hills did bow, while His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise! How different from all this outward and gorgeous splendour is the calm and silent majesty of the same august Being, when He is represented as saying” Let there be light, and light was!” Or when you hear him reveal His ineffable name to Moses--“I am that I am!” So in reference to the Saviour. It is in the quiet word of His power, as when He stilled the tempest, yet more in the deep tranquillity of His own soul, that we see His glory. His might lay in ‘His purity, His majesty in His meekness, His glory in His benevolence. There is no power equal to that of goodness, and there is nothing which goodness may not achieve.
III. That nothing could be more simple or appropriate than the means or instrumentality by which this conquest is to be achieved. Just as the purpose of the Redeemer corresponds with the benevolence and the righteousness of His character, so the means by which that purpose is to be carried into effect beautifully correspond with the calm and dignified composure of his own soul. Having, like a true hero, girt His sword upon His thigh, He is seen riding forth prosperously and in triumph. Victory waits upon His every step. And this not as the effect of force, but as the result of truth. The Conqueror of the world is the world’s Great Teacher. Full of grace and truth, He came to reveal the love of God, and the way of life. He asks for no blind, unmeaning homage, and therefore He floods the mind with light. He wants no unwilling surrender, and therefore He fills the heart with love. We see, then, how it is that in the Conqueror of the world meekness is combined with truth. The dove at His baptism told what manner of reign His was to be. It was the gentleness of Christ as a teacher of truth that made Him great. It is a striking fact that Christianity makes no provision for those cases in which it fails in its professed results. Other systems reserve to themselves the freedom of changing their ground and of adapting their expedients to the ever-varying conditions of society; but the Christian system disdains any such policy. Whether it be introduced into countries where civilization sits high-throned and regnant, or into regions where we meet with only uncultured and barbarous tribes, it is the same thing. While it possesses all the elements of universal adaptation, it knows nothing of expediency. It refuses to be thrown into any Procrustean bed, and have its dimensions determined by the caprice of men. It is through all time the same and immutable. The reason is obvious. Its failures are not due to itself but in those to whom it is addressed, or in the agency through which we seek to diffuse it.
IV. That the progress of this conquest will arrest the attention and awaken the joy of the whole moral creation of God. Heaven is interested in earth. But what ate we doing to help forward the reign of Christ? Have we submitted ourselves to Him? Only so can we really help or share in its final joy. (R. Ferguson, LL. D.)
Thine arms are sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies: whereby the people fall under Thee.
Enemies turned into friends
I. The arrow of conviction. It is “sharp in the heart,” and is sure to kill the man. Where there is real conviction of sin the man is sure to become dead to what he was. If he were a profligate he now becomes a praying man; if a Pharisee, a self-loathing, self-despairing man; he will be humbled in the dust before God. This may explain the words, “Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted,” as he is exalted when picked up from the dunghill of profligacy. And the Pharisee may rejoice that he is brought low. The two, meeting, may rejoice together for what God has done for them. There is a great variety of things the Lord turns into arrows. Dissatisfaction with self; the man gets into a pensive, moody state of mind, confesses himself unhappy, and begins to think the Christian the happiest man after all. The Lord may use this. Or the loss of a child may lead the mother to think about her own future state. What if it had been she who was taken. Or the loss of a friend, or husband, or wife, teaches the solemnity of death and the uncertainty of all human hopes. I have known men’s own bad conduct sometimes turned into an arrow of conviction; I have known instances; two young men engaged to go out one Sunday and swear all the oaths they could think of. These oaths were turned, the awfulness of it, into an arrow of conviction to the one; he was stopped, paralyzed, and could no longer go on. Then again men may see that, though much despised and spoken against, Christians are best off after all, There is no sudden conviction here, no terror; the arrow may enter the heart almost imperceptibly, so gently, that they can hardly tell the time when they were converted. It does not matter if you are really Christ’s now. Or affliction, loss of property--this oftentimes--has been used of God. And, very often, usually by the Word itself. So, then, whatever the means were, if we are but brought,, if the arrow of conviction has but entered the heart, whether suddenly from the bow of God’s truth, whether from your own thoughts, whether from loss of friends, or property, or affliction, or whatever may be the means, if the conviction be but there, then thou art saved, for my text says, “Whereby the people fall’ under Thee.” This is sure to be the effect, only there must be this personal wounding more or less, this personal conviction, so as to bring you down to pray for yourself. For note--
II. The sure effect.
“The people fall under Thee.” Under the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the very Son of God. (James Wells.)
The arrows of Zion’s King, sharp in the hearts of His enemies, and the people falling in subjection under Him
I. Inquire who may be said to be Christ’s enemies. In general we may observe that He has as many enemies as there are devils in hell and irregenerate men upon earth. Should it then be inquired, What way do men evidence their enmity at Christ? We answer--
1. By setting up their own wisdom and carnal reasoning in opposition to the revelation He has made of His Father’s will to us in the Gospel.
2. By refusing to submit to His righteousness revealed in the Gospel (Romans 10:3).
3. By declining His yoke, and refusing to take on His burden.
4. By neglecting and despising His ordinances.
5. By persecuting His servants and people, both by tongue and hand.
6. By unbelief.
7. By raising, propagating and defending error.
8. By apostatizing from Christ after professing subjection to Him and kindness for Him.
9. By affecting to be neither His friends nor His foes; they do not choose to oppose religion, and as little can they think to be seen taking part with it. There are many other ways whereby the natural enmity of the heart exerts itself against Christ, which we cannot insist upon; such as resting on a form of godliness without seeking acquaintance with the power of it; living in the neglect of known duty when the Lord gives them an opportunity to perform it. Taking up with the hope of the hypocrite, and retaining a heart enmity to Christ under the cloak of pretended friendship. This is, indeed, a way of exerting the enmity of the heart against Christ, that eludes the eye of man; but He sees it, who will in a little make all the Churches know that “He searches the hearts and tries the reins of the children of men.”
II. Speak of that work of Christ which consists in his making his enemies become his friends by means of the gospel.
1. When our Lord Jesus is about to bring a person into u state of friendship with Himself, He convinces the man of the sinfulness of his condition, persuading him both of the reality of his enmity against Him, and the danger to which he is exposed on account of it.
2. Our Lord having thus convinced the sinner of his sin, He also shows him the danger to which it exposes him, letting him see that they who do the things with which He stands chargeable are worthy of death.
3. As our Lord Jesus convinces the man of his danger on account of his sin, He also causes him to see the vanity and fruitlessness of every attempt he is ready to make in order to recommend himself to the Divine favour by his own works of righteousness.
4. The Spirit of God enlightens the mind of the convinced and awakened sinner in the knowledge of Christ; He destroys the veil of ignorance: wherewith the man’s understanding was covered, and shines into his heart, giving him the light of the knowledge of the glory of God as it is displayed in the person of our glorious Immanuel.
5. Christ having made Himself known to the sinner, the Spirit apprehends the man for Christ, works faith in his heart, with all the other saving graces which are inseparably connected with it; and having implanted faith in the soul by means of the promise, He draws it forth into exercise SO as that the soul is brought actually to embrace the Saviour and close with Him.
III. Offer some thoughts upon the effect of that work which consists in Christ’s making his enemies become his friends.
1. A real sense of the person’s error and mistake in taking up the weapons of rebellion against God.
2. Falling in subjection under Christ includes in it faith’s views of forgiveness, notwithstanding all the provocations the man sees himself chargeable with.
3. A sinner’s falling under Christ by kindly subjecting the heart and soul to Him, has in it a holy blushing and confusion of face on account of sin the man has done.
4. This falling under Christ includes in it a cordial renouncing and giving up with every other lord and lover lisa. 26:13).
5. It includes a hearty embracing of, and closing with, Christ as our Saviour, Head and Husband.
6. It has in it a solemn giving up of the Whole man unto Christ, to be saved by Him, and also to serve Him.
IV. The application.
1. Of information.
(1) We may see from this subject the woeful condition which all men are in by nature; they are enemies to God in their minds, and daily discovering they are so in their life and conversation (Colossians 1:21).
(2) We may see that men are not only enemies to God, but obstinately so; they are disposed to continue in that unhappy condition until Divine power is exerted in their behalf.
(3) We may see the kindness and love of God toward sinners of mankind in devising means to have them brought back into a state of favour and friendship with Himself.
(4) We may see the power and efficacy of the Word of Christ when accompanied by the Spirit.
(5) We may see that there is no standing it out against the Captain of salvation; His arrows are sharp and piercing. All must either bow to Him, and yield Him the subjection of faith, or be broken by the iron rod of His irresistible power.
(6) We may from this subject infer the safety and preservation of the Church and every particular believer. Zion’s’ King is a man of war; He fights for Mount Zion and the hill thereof. He is never at a loss to strike a blow with success upon His adversaries; for strong is His hand, and high is His right hand.
2. Of examination. Have you really seen the contrariety of your nature and practice to the image, will, and holy law of God? Has the Holy Spirit convinced you of sin, because ye believed not on the only begotten Son of God? Have you really received Christ Jesus the Lord in all His offices?
3. Of exhortation.
(1) We exhort such of you as are brought over to Christ, by the all-conquering power of His Spirit and grace, to bless the Lord, that ever He was pleased to make a saving revelation of His powerful arm to you, determining you to give up with the service of sin and Satan, and take on the yoke of Christ.
(2) We exhort you, who have had, it may be, some experience of what is affirmed concerning the arrows of Christ in the text, but have not as yet been brought to fall under Him, in a kindly manner, taking Him as the Captain of your salvation; we intreat you to beware of stifling your convictions and quenching the motions of the Holy Spirit.
(3) We exhort all who may be labouring under convictions to be on their guard against giving way to despondency or despair, though for the present you may not see anything but blackness, darkness and tempest, attended with the trumpet sounding loudly from Mount Sinai; yet you know not how soon the day may break and the shadows flee away.
(4) It may, perhaps, be the case with some that they cannot say but they have had some convictions; yet they have not had experience of so many strong and lasting convictions as they have heard and read of in the case of others, and so labour under doubts and fears whether or not they are yet brought over to Christ. If Christ be precious to you, if your souls cleave to the covenant of promise in faith and love; and if sin be the object of your real hatred, you have reason to conclude you are passed from death to life and shall never come into condemnation.
(5) We exhort you who are yet in the camp of Satan, and so acting the part of enemies to Zion’s King to consider the sinfulness of your conduct. You are engaged in a most unrighteous, dangerous and soul-ruining war. (T. Bennet.)
The Saviour’s conquests in the hearts of His enemies
I. Who are the enemies with whom the Saviour carries on a strife of mercy in seeking to subdue them unto Himself? They are mankind at large, all men by nature. And every believer was once His enemy and the bond-servant of sin. To this point our view can never be too stedfastly or too intensely directed. For until we see the guilt, the shame, the destitution, the ingratitude, the misery, and (if God interfere not to save), the hopelessness of every natural man’s rebellion against his Maker, and the suicidal hand with which, in this dreadful treason, he is striking at every interest of his own soul as the soldier of Satan, and the slave of sin, he can have no saving view of a Redeemer; he cannot know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge; he cannot be filled with all the fulness of God.
II. Against these enemies what are the weapons employed, and with what success? They are the arrows of God in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, sharp in the heart of the King’s enemies, whereby the people fall under Him. They are so called from the suddenness, the secrecy and the swiftness of their motion. And every one of the arrows of Christ, piercing and penetrating as they all are, is taken from the same exhaustless quiver, brought by the victorious Lamb from heaven, wherewith to subdue His enemies. And whereof are they made? Feather, shaft and point, they are wholly and entirely love, pure, unimaginable, undeserved, unconditional, everlasting love. These arrows probe the wound that hath been slightly healed by the deceitfulness of sin, and probe it to the quick. They force the humbled transgressor toffee from himself and take refuge in the righteousness of Christ. Oh, it is a wonderful process, and as sure as it is wonderful, whereby that arrow of the Word, when it reaches a sinner, alters the whole mass of the mind’s affections, that he can no more stay himself up in the chariot of his guilty battle against God, but is carried forth that he may be “dead indeed unto sin.” If I should strike a rock of marble or adamant with an arrow, and see it cleft, and gushing out with water, I must needs imagine some wonderful and secret virtue to have wrought an effect so strange. Now, our hearts are of themselves harder than the nether millstone. When, therefore, the arrows of the love of Christ strike them so mightily, yet so tenderly, and transforms the soul into His nature, who can question whence it comes and where the glory ought to be? But, while there are these arrows of love, there are also arrows of wrath in a quiver of judgment for obdurate sinners. What these are may we never know. (J. P. Buddieom, M. A.)
Effective soul archery
(Psalms 45:5):--There was something very fascinating about the archery of olden times. Perhaps you do not know what they could do with the bow and arrow. Why, the chief battles fought by the English Plantagenets were with the longbow. They would take the arrow of polished wood and feather it with the plume of a bird, and then it would fly from the bowstring of plaited silk. The broad fields of Agincourt and Solway Moss and Neville’s Cross heard the loud thrum of the archer’s bowstring. Now, we have a mightier weapon than that. It is the arrow of the Gospel; it is a sharp arrow; it is a straight arrow; it is feathered from the wing of the dove of God’s Spirit; it flies from a bow made out of the wood of the Cross. As far as I can estimate or calculate, it has brought down four hundred million souls. Paul knew how to bring the notch of that arrow on to that bowstring, and its whirr was heard through the Corinthian theatres, and through the courtroom, until the knees of Felix knocked together. It was the arrow that stuck in Luther’s heart when he cried out, “Oh, my sins! Oh my sins!” If it strike a man in the head it kills his scepticism; if it strike him in the heel it will turn his step; if it strike him in the heart, he throws up his hands as did one of old when wounded in the battle, crying, “O Galilean, Thou hast conquered!” (T. De Witt Talmage.)
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.
The kingdom of Christ, an everlasting kingdom, and ruled with perfect justice and equity
I. Show that Zion’s king is God.
1. He is expressly called God in Scripture (Isaiah 9:6; Romans 9:5).
2. Such attributes are ascribed to Him in Scripture as are competent to God only.
(1) Eternity (Micah 5:2).
(2) Immutability (Hebrews 1:10).
(3) Omniscience (John 21:15; John 2:24-25).
(4) Omnipresence (John 3:13).
3. Divine worship, which is due to God only, is to be performed unto Him (Hebrews 1:6; Psalms 2:12; Psalms 45:11; John 5:22-23).
4. Works are done by Him which none but an infinitely powerful agent can perform (Colossians 1:16; John 11:25).
II. The lasting and permanent nature of the kingdom of Christ.
1. General observations.
(1) Our Lord Jesus has an essential kingdom, which is that absolute supreme power and authority which He exercises over all creatures in heaven, earth and hell (Psalms 103:19).
(2) He has a kingdom and throne of grace (Ephesians 1:22).
(3) The kingdom of grace or the Church of Christ may be considered either as set up and administered in the world, or as set up in the hearts of men.
(4) He has a throne and kingdom of glory.
2. This kingdom is to endure for ever.
(1) Observe some things more generally concerning the perpetuity of the Church. The kingdom of our Lord Jesus was from everlasting in design; the King Himself is from everlasting, an eternal and mutable King; yea, He was chosen King of Zion from everlasting (Psalms 89:19). It will continue through all succeeding ages and generations. Though the kingdom of Christ, considered as to its present form of administration in the world, consisting in the preaching of the Word, the dispensation of the sacraments, will come to an end; these ordinances being no further necessary, once that the saints are perfected; yet, substantially considered, it shall be for ever and ever (Psalms 89:35; Psalms 89:37).
(2) Show in some particulars that the Church is for ever and ever. As the King is for ever and ever, so are the subjects of His kingdom (Romans 5:17). They are all united to Him, and death cannot dissolve that union. When they have served their generations in this world according to His will, He will make them fixed pillars in His Father’s house above (Revelation 3:12). The laws of the kingdom are for ever and ever. The treasures of the kingdom are for ever and ever. These are the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8). The revenue of the kingdom is for ever and ever. The united praises of the saints is the revenue of the kingdom (Psalms 146:2). The charter of the kingdom is for ever and ever (Isaiah 54:10; Titus 1:2; Revelation 4:3).
III. Show that the kingdom of our Lord Jesus is ruled in the most just and equitable manner.
1. There is a righteous Prince upon the throne. He came to the throne in a just and righteous manner; it was by the appointment of God the Father (Psalms 2:6).
2. The laws of the kingdom are right.
3. Our Lord Jesus effectually promotes and advances the spiritual welfare and advantage of His true subjects by all His dispensations toward the Church.
4. The sceptre of the kingdom must be right; for the King “loves righteousness, and hates iniquity with a most perfect hatred”; and elsewhere the psalmist saith, “The righteous Lord loveth righteousness.”
5. The sceptre of Immanuel’s kingdom will appear to be a right sceptre when it is considered that the King not only loves righteousness, but is perfectly in case to act according to the desire of His heart.
1. Of information.
(1) We may see what a weighty and important work it was to redeem the Church, gather her from among the world lying in wickedness, wrest her out of the hand of Satan, rule and defend her from all her enemies, when none but an infinite Person was equal to the undertaking.
(2) We may see the dignity, safety and happiness of all the true subjects of Christ. It is their highest dignity to have Him for their King. Their life and safety lies in their union with, and relation to Him.
(3) See how absurd and impious it is to oppose the kingdom and interests of Christ, and molest His true subjects. “The sceptre of His kingdom is a right sceptre,” and therefore to oppose His rule and government is in the highest degree both sinful and dangerous.
(4) Is the sceptre of Christ a sceptre that is right? then we may see how unbecoming His subjects it is to quarrel with, fret and repine at any of His dispensations, either toward the Church in general, or themselves in particular.
(5) We may see that those who are determined by grace to give up themselves to Christ, to be saved by Him, and serve Him, are not such fools as the world takes them to be. He is managing all things in His kingdom for the advancement of His own glory, and the real good of His subjects, whether for the time they see him to be doing so or not.
(6) Hence, see the need we have of faith to believe that Zion’s King is doing all things well, even when His way is in the sea and His paths in the deep waters.
(7) Is the sceptre of Immanuel’s kingdom a right sceptre? then see how much it concerns all the subjects of His kingdom, to endeavour to imitate their King in acting a faithful, just and righteous part in their places and stations toward Him, one another, and all with whom they have occasion to be conversant.
(8) We should be constantly upon our guard against judging rashly about any part of Christ’s management in His kingdom that may for the time appear unaccountable to us (Acts 1:7).
2. Of trial and examination. It concerns you, therefore, to try whether you be among the true subjects of Christ or not; and if you are really so, Zion’s King has the throne of your hearts; He possesses the highest room there, and Satan is dethroned (Luke 11:21). You are in some measure acquainted with spiritual light and liberty.
3. Of exhortation.
(1) We exhort you who are the true subjects of Zion’s King to be thankful to God for erecting a kingdom of grace in the world, and particularly that He has set it up in the Gentile world (Isaiah 24:16).
(2) We exhort all who are yet enemies to Zion’s King, young and old, poor and rich, to consider the sinfulness and danger of continuing in that condition. (T. Bennet.)
Thy God hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.
The gladness of Jesus
This is our exceeding joy--the gladness of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. Yet it is not a matter of which we often think. The Man of Sorrows is much more familiar to us than the Saviour anointed with the oil of gladness. He was the saddest of men, but He was also the gladdest. This is not contradictory. The capacity for grief is the measure of the capacity for gladness. The depth is the height. He who never sinks never soars. The keen sensitiveness to sorrow is also and necessarily the keen sensitiveness, in every healthy soul, to joy. The perfect human nature of our Lord, having every faculty developed perfectly, had this in its completeness--the faculty of gladness.
1. In the character of Jesus Christ there was nothing that marred or lessened in any wise His gladness. We are rent and torn by a score of distractions. It is as if the strings of the soul were some of them broken, and some were all unstrung; and on the others a dozen diverse players to contend for mastery. What a strife and horrid discord is life with many.
2. Think, too, of the sources of gladness in Himself. All the beatitudes were His and His perfectly. And all the fruits of the Spirit--love, joy, peace and all the rest, all of them the elements of a perfect gladness.
3. Then think of His gladness arising from His relationship alike to heaven and earth. “The Child grew and waxed strong in spirit; filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” And yet again, says St. Luke, “the Child increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” The perfect love of heaven and earth meet in Jesus. Count up all sources of gladness; there is none that can compare with the consciousness of God’s favour. To walk hand in hand with Him is Paradise restored.
(1) And He grew in favour with man. Never was any so gladdened with the love of earth as was our blessed Lord and Master. Whilst it is true that the world hated Him, and the Pharisees and Scribes took counsel against Him; yet it is also true that the inner circle of His acquaintance yielded Him a devotion such as none else ever knew. Men and women, and little children gladdened the heart of Jesus. And we can help to make Him glad. We do so when we bring to Him our gratitude, and love and trust. Think of the gladness of His youth. He was no melancholy boy of whom we read that He grew in favour with men; no mysterious dreamer whom none could understand. Never, surely, was there upon the earth a sunnier boyhood than that of the holy Child of Nazareth. Take the story of the wedding at Cane of Galilee. Take another instance--“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit and said, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” The word means literally that He “danced for joy.” It is an instance of a joy which could not either be restrained or uttered. And the source of it may well suggest the thought that it was not a single or exceptional event in His life. Then, think of the gladness of Jesus in His work--its purpose, its objects, the poor; His fitness for it, His power in it; see His miracles. See the parables of Luke 15:1-32. as showing His joy. (Mark Guy Pearse.)
The gladness of the Man of Sorrows
I. That part of our Saviour’s joy which is given him by his father. He possessed much of this anointing with the oil of gladness even while He was here on earth. He grew in favour both with God and man. Then, His was the joy of doing good. To do as He did must give joy to a benevolent mind. And of being good. And in the consideration that He was doing His Father’s will. And in the glorious prospect. And after He had “endured the cross, despising the shame.” And what joy was His as the risen Mediator. That He had now accomplished a work which He had meditated upon from all eternity. Consider, too, His joy must have been commensurate with the pains which He endured, and how great they were. His joy would arise from the enemies He had overcome, from His having loved righteousness. See His life; the effect of His work. The text adds, “Thou hatest wickedness.” A man’s character is not complete without a perfect hatred of sin. And Christ’s joy is greater than that of all others. Thus did God anoint Him.
II. The gladness afforded by the church. The merits, graces, their love, their praise, their prayers, their faith, are like the myrrh, etc., that when He rides in His triumphal chariot He scatters odour all around. He rejoices over the saints as the objects of His choice; and because they have cost Him so much; and they are His workmanship. Let us think how we can make Him glad.
III. Let us be glad in him. God has made the King glad, and His saints make Him glad; let us be glad too. But let us mind that our gladness is of the right sort. “We will rejoice and be glad in Thee.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The oil of gladness
The anointing received by our Lord was the resting upon Him of the Spirit of God without measure (Isaiah 61:1-11.). Therefore by the “oil of gladness” is meant the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of joy. The whole Trinity is engaged in our salvation. The Father sends the Son, the Son comes, the Holy Spirit anoints Him.
I. The Saviour’s anointing with gladness. We think more often of our Saviour as the “Man of Sorrows” rather than in connection with gladness. To those who only saw Him outwardly He was the Man of Sorrows, but those who knew His heart knew well that a deep joy abode there. Is there not seen to be happiness in the heart when the noblest motives are paramount and the sweetest graces bear sway?
1. Our Lord’s gladness which He had in His work, Psalms 40:1-17. tells of Him as saying, “I delight to do Thy will, O my God.” At the well of Samaria His joy in the conversion of the woman He met there made Him quite forget all about His need of food. “I have meat to eat that ye know not of”--so He tells His disciples. Once, indeed, His joy flowed over, so that others could see it, when He said, “I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because,” etc. And it is added, “At that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit.” And so, in their measure, is it with those who are His followers. They also are in like manner anointed with the oil of gladness. “With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought;” they work for the King with a willing heart.
2. Note, further, that our Lord had this oil of gladness from His work. He did reap in joy as well as sow in tears. The good shepherd rejoiced when he had found his sheep that was lost. The Saviour looks upon the redeemed with an unspeakable delight. And we may be partakers in this joy of being instrumentally the saviour of others; then you, also, partake of His gladness.
3. And our Lord has this gladness in this sense too--that His person and His work are the cause of ineffable gladness in others. It fills us with delight only to think of Him. “The very thought of Thee with sweetness fills my heart.” What gladness He created when He was here below. And if the Lord Jesus be with us, we can give joy to others. There are some whose very presence comforts others, their words are so full of consolation and help.
II. The reason for the bestowal of this anointing upon him. “Thou lovest righteousness and . . . therefore God,” etc. There must be perfect holiness before there can be perfect happiness. Sin is the enemy of joy. Let the sinner say what he likes, sin can no more dwell with real joy than the lion will lie down with the lamb. Now, every way Jesus loved righteousness intensely. He died that He might establish it. And those who are in fellowship with Him are anointed also. The holy oil was forbidden to be placed upon a stranger to God’s holy house; and upon man’s flesh it could not be poured, because man’s flesh is a corrupt and polluted thing. So, then, because He is righteous Himself, and because He makes others righteous, Christ has received this anointing.
III. The manner of the operation of this, this oil of gladness upon us. Now, does the Holy Spirit give us gladness?
1. Because we are anointed “kings and priests with God, and we shall reign for ever.”
2. We are consecrated to the Lord. We are not our own, we are bought with a price.
3. By this oil we are qualified for our office (1 John 2:20).
4. The Spirit of God heals our diseases. The Eastern mode of medicine was generally the application of oil, and certainly the Holy Spirit is a healer to us. What wounds and bruises have been healed with this oil.
5. Thus, also, we are supplied and softened. So was it with the body when oil was applied to it, and softness and tenderness of heart are the work of the Holy Spirit.
6. By the oil of the Holy Spirit we are strengthened.
8. Perfumed. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Jesus Christ anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows
I. The fellowship that is between Christ and all true believers.
1. General observations.
(1) All the fellowship which any of the sons of men have with Christ is founded in union to His person and reconciliation to God through Him.
(2) The fellowship that is betwixt Christ and believers does not constitute an equality between Him and them.
(3) As our Lord Jesus was alone in the work of redemption, having no hand either of man or angel to help Him, as lie tells us (Isaiah 63:3), so He has no partners in the glory resulting therefrom.
II. Our Lord’s exaltation, here called his being, anointed with the oil of gladness.
1. Preliminary remarks.
(1) Our Lord’s humiliation made no change with respect to His person.
(2) As His humiliation made no change in respect of His person, so neither has His exaltation. Wherefore, when we speak of His being exalted, He is to be considered not as God absolutely, but as God-man Mediator. It is only as sustaining this character that He could either be humbled or exalted.
2. Some particulars wherein our Lord’s exaltation doth consist.
(1) It consists in “a manifestation of the glory of His Deity in and through His humanity. As it had been obscured in the humanity while He was humbled, so it breaks out in the humanity when that nature is glorified, as a candle in a dark lantern doth through the transparent crystal, when the obscuring plate is drawn aside.” This is the glory which He prayed for (John 17:5).
(2) It consists in the raising of the human nature of Christ to an inconceivable height of glory; such a height of glory as the human nature united to a Divine Person is capable of, which must be by many degrees superior to what either mere men or angels are capable to enjoy.
(3) View His exaltation as set over against His humiliation (Philippians 2:8-11). In His resurrection He was exalted above the grave; in His ascension He was exalted above the earth; and in His session at the Father’s right hand He was made higher than the heavens, “exalted far above all heavens” (Ephesians 4:10).
(4) The exaltation of Christ consists in His being furnished in His human nature with all these gifts and endowments of the Spirit which are suitable and necessary to the glorious condition unto which He is now raised at the Father’s right hand (Acts 2:33; Ephesians 4:8).
3. Inquire why our Lord’s exaltation is called His being anointed with the oil of gladness; or show whence it is that His exaltation did afford Him so much gladness.
(1) His exaltation afforded Him the greatest joy and gladness, being a most infallible proof that God the Father is well pleased with what He has done.
(2) Because then the eternal salvation of an innumerable company of fallen men, for whom He had an everlasting love, was effectually secured. And lie was now to sit with the most consummate delight and satisfaction at the Father’s right hand, and see the travel of His soul entering into the joy of their Lord from every quarter under heaven according to the promise (Isaiah 53:11).
(3) Because by His exaltation lie was freed from all that labour, toil and sorrow to which lie bad been so eminently exposed in His humbled estate.
III. Show in what respects our Lord Jesus may be said to be anointed with the oil of gladness, or exalted above his fellows.
1. Jesus Christ is anointed above His fellows, in regard lie is deservedly exalted to all that glory which He now possesses as Mediator, and that, whether we consider His exaltation as the proper reward of His humiliation or not.
2. He is exalted above His fellows, in regard His exaltation was effected by His own power, lie arose from the dead by His own power (John 2:19). “It was not possible for Him to be holden of death.”
3. He is exalted above His fellows, in regard His human nature, in virtue of its union with His Divine Person, is capable of possessing an inconceivably greater degree of glory than any of His fellows.
4. He is exalted above His fellows, in regard His exaltation effectually secures theirs, lie has meritoriously procured the exaltation of all His fellows by His humiliation. And when He ascended on high, the everlasting doors were cast wide open, never to be shut again till all His fellows be brought where He is (Psalms 24:7).
5. Jesus Christ is exalted above His fellows, inasmuch as He is to be the eternal object of their worship and adoration.
1. Of information.
(1) We may see that the work of redemption as to purchase is a finished work (Hebrews 4:10).
(2) We may see that the work of redemption is highly pleasing and delightful to God. It is called “the pleasure of the Lord” (Isaiah 53:10). And He has given undoubted evidence that it is so in the glorious advancement of Christ to “His own right hand,” and His appointing him “the Heir of all things.”
(3) We may see that the reproach and ignominy of the cross is entirely wiped away, and the human nature greatly dignified.
(4) We may see with what holy boldness and confidence we may draw near to God.
(5) See what ample security all true believers have for their being exalted in duo time. Christ is exalted, and they are already exalted in Him as their Head and Representative (Ephesians 2:6), and they shall be exalted with Him in their own persons; He is now “lifted up from the earth,” and “will draw them” after Him. His demand shall be fully answered (John 17:24).
(6) Is Jesus Christ exalted? Then see how vain all the attempts of hell and earth against His work and interest must prove in the issue.
(7) See noble encouragement to all who hear the Gospel to come to Christ for all spiritual blessings.
(8) See the dreadful sin and danger that there must be in despising Christ now that He is highly exalted. When the sin of despising Him in His humbled estate, when He appeared but as a tender plant, and a root sprung out of a dry ground, was so very great, it must still be more highly aggravated now, because the Son of Man is now glorified.
2. Of trial.
(1) What experience have you of being “planted in the likeness of Christ’s death”?
(2) All who shall be exalted to a state of glory with Christ are first planted in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:5).
(3) If you really expect, yea, if you in earnest desire to be where Christ is, you are much concerned about being “made meet” for the glory that is to be revealed.
(4) Does the prospect of your being anointed with the oil of gladness in due time support and comfort your hearts under present discouragements?
(5) All Christ’s fellow, all true believers dearly love Him. They admire His person, and his beauty is incomparable in their esteem. They admire His love, and put the highest value on His righteousness.
3. Of exhortation.
(1) As to you who are believers. We exhort you to bless God for Christ, who was “delivered for your offences,” etc. Rejoice that Christ is now “anointed with the oil of gladness.” His exaltation is matter of great joy to all His fellows (John 14:28), both on His own account, because all His sorrows are now swallowed up of joy; and on their account, Because He is gone to heaven on their business, and as their Forerunner. He is gone to prepare a place for them, and to prepare them for the enjoyment of it, by His Spirit. We exhort you, while you are at home in the body, and so absent from the Lord, carefully to keep up the correspondence which He settled betwixt Him and all His fellows before He left this world, in respect of His bodily presence (John 14:13). Be exhorted to act faithfully for Christ in your day and generation, place and station in the world. We exhort you to look forward, and press on through all opposing difficulties “toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Lift up your heads, and look out for the day of your complete redemption (Isaiah 35:10; John 14:3).
(2) We exhort you, who are yet in a natural state and condition, to lay to heart the sin you stand chargeable with, the misery you are under, and the wrath to which you are exposed. (T. Bennet.)
All Thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces.
Out of the ivory palaces
I look upon the kingly robes of Christ; and as I lift them, flashing with eternal jewels, the whole house is filled with the aroma of these garments, which “smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces.”
I. Why the robes of Christ are odorous with myrrh. The first present that was ever given to Christ was a sprig of myrrh, thrown on His infantile bed in Bethlehem; and the last gift that Christ ever had was myrrh pressed into the cup of His crucifixion. The natives would take a stone and bruise the tree, and then there would exude a gum that would saturate all the ground beneath. This gum was used for purposes of merchandise. One piece of it, no longer than a chestnut, would whelm a whole room with odours. It was put in closets, in chests, in drawers, in rooms, and its perfume adhered almost interminably to anything that was anywhere near it. So, when I read that Christ’s garments smell of myrrh, I immediately conclude the exquisite sweetness of Jesus. I know that to many He is only like any historical person. But to those who know Him in all His grace He is music, and light, and warmth, and thrill, and eternal fragrance. Oh that you all knew His sweetness! How soon you would turn from your revels.
II. Why the robes of Jesus are odorous with aloes. There is some difference of opinion about where these aloes grew, what is the colour of the flower, what is the particular appearance of the herb. Suffice it to know that aloes mean bitterness all the world over; and when Christ comes with garments bearing that particular odour, they suggest to me the bitterness of a Saviour’s suffering. Were there ever such nights as Jesus lived through--nights on the mountain, nights on the sea, nights in the desert? John leaned his head on Christ; but who did Christ lean on? Five thousand men fed by the Saviour; who fed Jesus? Oh, was it not all aloes; nothing else? And this not to win fame as a martyr, but because He wanted to pluck you and me from hell, and to raise us to heaven. Ye whose lot is bright and fair, ye who have had bright and sparkling beverages, how do you feel towards Him who for you took the bitter aloes?
III. Why these garments are odorous with cassia. Cassia was regarded as having great healing and curative power. But had not our Lord Jesus this? All the leaves of this Bible are only so many prescriptions from the Divine Physician, written, not in Latin, like the prescriptions of earthly physicians, but written in plain English, so that a man, though a fool, need not err therein. Thank God that the Saviour’s garments smell of cassia. Christ made every house where he stopped a dispensary. I do not believe that in the nineteen centuries that have gone by since then His heart has got hard. I feel that we can come tonight, with all our wounds of soul, and get His benediction. He comes “out of the ivory palaces.” Some of the palaces of the olden time were adorned with ivory. Ahab and Solomon had their houses furnished with it. These palaces are types of heaven. What a place heaven must be. Not so many castles on either side of the Rhine as are ivory palaces on either side of the river of God. We need to be washed, we need to be rehabilitated before we go into the ivory palaces. Eternal God, let the surges of Thy pardoning mercy roll over us! (T. De Witt Talmage.)
The garments of Christ, our New Testament High Priest, sending forth a sweet savour from His ivory palaces
I. Mention some things implied.
1. That it is most pleasant and delightful exercise and employment for the people of God to contemplate the glory and excellency of Christ; the glory of His person, and the unsearchable riches of grace, and gracious influences of the Spirit which are treasured up in Him.
2. That the more closely and particularly that we consider Christ, the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, the more will we find in Him to draw out our affections to Him, and heighten our esteem and commendations of Him, and of everything belonging to Him, even as to His garments.
3. That as believers have spiritual senses, whereby they savour the things that be of God, so it is their privilege at some seasons to be admitted to such special nearness to Christ as that they can smell His garments.
4. That faith sees not only a fulness in Christ that is inexhaustible, but also a pleasant variety of spiritual blessings every way suited to the various wants and necessities of the soul.
5. That Christ is not only suited to the case of believers, but also to their very wish and desire. He perfectly fills the hand and heart of faith, and no other object can do it (Psalms 73:25).
II. Give some account of the garments of our exalted high priest, which are here commended for their savoury smell.
1. The embroidered coat of the high priest (Exodus 28:39) seems evidently to have signified the righteousness of Christ, consisting in the holiness of His human nature, the perfect conformity of His life to the law-precept, and His satisfactory sufferings and death.
2. We may consider the girdle of the High Priest as shadowing forth the truth and faithfulness of Christ; concerning Him it is said (Isaiah 11:5). It might also denote His strength (Proverbs 31:17), and His readiness for service (1 Kings 18:46).
3. The sacred bells, which hung upon the hem of the high priest’s robe, were a lively representation of Christ’s voice in the Gospel, and of His intercession at the Father’s right hand.
4. The high priest’s bearing the names of the children of Israel in the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, represented our great Gospel High Priest supporting His Church and people, bearing them and all their burdens, as it were, upon His shoulders (Isaiah 9:6).
5. There was much of the Gospel represented by the breastplate of the high priest and the things belonging thereto. The precious stones, with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, did signify all the saints; the whole “Church of the first-born whose names are written in heaven”; and these stones being set in the breastplate, intimates that our New Testament High Priest has all the spiritual Israel near His heart; they rest on the bosom of His warmest love and affection, being set as “a seal upon His heart, and as a seal upon His arm,” as the Spouse speaks (Song of Solomon 8:6). And whereas the breastplate was fastened to the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, it was to intimate that the love and power of Christ are inseparably engaged in the business of our salvation; they go hand in hand therein. The use of the Urim and Thummim was for consultation in dark and difficult cases (Numbers 27:21; 1Ki 23:9). They were evidently intended as a shadow of that fulness of Divine light and perfection that dwells in Jesus Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He is the Messenger of the Covenant, and the unerring Interpreter of its secrets.
6. The high priest had a fair mitre for his head made of fine linen (Exodus 28:39). This mitre, or crown, points us to the princely dignity and kingly power of our Lord (Zechariah 6:13).
7. The high priest had a golden plate above the mitre with this inscription upon it, “Holiness to the Lord,” or, “the holiness of the Lord.” Hence the Lord saith to Moses (Exodus 28:36). When we consult the two following verses, we see this piece of priestly attire directing us to behold the absolute perfection and spotless holiness of our Gospel High Priest, and His bearing away the iniquity of our holy things, and procuring our access to, and acceptance with God, notwithstanding our daily failings and shortcomings.
8. Our Lord Jesus is set forth in Scripture as clothed in a suitableness to the various branches of the work He is employed in, whether of mercy to His people, or of judgment towards His enemies. Accordingly, being about to reform His Church, comfort His people, and chastise His enemies (Isaiah 59:17). He is said to have “put on righteousness as a breastplate,” etc. He appeared to the prophet Isaiah “red in His apparel” (Isaiah 63:2). And to John in the vision he had of Him, spreading death and destruction among the enemies of His Church and people (Revelation 19:15), He appeared in a vesture dipt in blood as being expressive of the nature of the work He was engaged in.
III. Our now exalted saviour is incomparably sweet and savoury to all spiritual discerners.
1. He is sweet and savoury to God the Father; He is His “well beloved Son,” His “elect, in whom His soul delighteth” (Isaiah 42:1).
2. He is savoury to all true believers (1 Peter 2:7). There is an unspeakable sweetness to them in all His saving offices, and in all His names, characters and relations.
1. Of information.
(1) Hence, see that our Lord Jesus Christ is a lovely object, in Himself considered, however few should be taken up with His person and righteousness and the saving blessings of His purchase.
(2) Hence see, that believers are men of another taste and smell than the rest of the world. The natural man sees no beauty and excellency in Christ why he should desire Him (Isaiah 53:2). But the believer has the spiritual faculty, whereby he savours the things that be of God.
(3) We may see whence it is that the garments of believers are said to smell as Lebanon (Song of Solomon 4:11). The reason is, they have been brought to smell Christ’s garments, and the smell of them has gone about their hearts. They are savingly united to His person, and the precious anointing oil that was poured upon His head has been made to drop upon them.
(4) Is Christ so sweet and savoury? Is there everything in Him to attract and draw sinners to believe in Him, love and esteem Him above all other persons and things? then we may see matter of lamentation that so few are disposed to adopt the language of the text.
2. Of trial and examination.
(1) Have you experienced the truth contained in the text? If so, you have been endowed with the spiritual smell.
(2) Have you seen our glorious High Priest in His person, righteousness, offices and fulness, as suited, not only to your case, but also to your wish and desire? If so, sin has a bad savour in your nostrils.
3. Of exhortation.
(1) We exhort you who have been brought by grace to adopt the language of the text, to bless the Lord that He has been graciously pleased to give you the spiritual faculty to discern and take up the sweetness and excellency of Christ. Be concerned to have your spiritual senses more and more exercised to savour the things of Christ; and to this end meditate much upon the glory of His person and His amazing love to you, which had no cause without Himself; His savoury life, which was never stained with the smallest blot; the sacrifice He offered to God in your stead for a sweet-smelling savour; and His prevalent intercession within the vail for you. Do not fail, as you have occasion, to commend Christ and His savoury garments to all about you, both with your mouth, and in your walk and conversation; tell them, as Providence gives you an opportunity, that your Beloved is more than another beloved.
(2) As for you who are yet strangers to Christ, and to whom all that soul-satisfying, heart-cheering and beautifying sweetness that is in Him is but a hearsay, and will continue to be so until the Spirit be poured out upon you from on high: we exhort you to believe the misery, sinfulness and danger of your present condition, and to betake yourselves by faith to our exalted High Priest, who sits at God’s right hand. Come and see Him as set forth in the word of grace and promise as God’s prepared goodness for the poor, and for you among the rest (1 Timothy 1:15). One glance at Him by the eye of faith will remove all the prejudices you have of Him, constrain you be love Him, and lay you under the pleasant necessity of adopting the language of the text. (T. Bennet.)
Kings’ daughters were among Thy honourable women.
Upon Thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir.
The consummation of Messiah’s glory and the Church’s happiness
I. The general propriety and significance of the image of a marriage as it is here employed. Familiar emblems are needful for the better understanding of the Gospel by the mass of the people. Now, the relation between Christ and His Church, it is evident, must be of a nature not to be adequately typified by anything in the material world; and nothing could be found in human life which might so aptly represent it as the relation of husband and wife in the holy state of wedlock; and in this the analogy is so perfect that the notion” of the ancient Jews has received the express sanction of St. Paul, that the relation of the Saviour and the Church was typified in the union of our first parents, and in the particular manner of Eve’s formation out of the substance of Adam.
II. The circumstances of this marriage. The magnificence of the court of the king as it appeared on the wedding-day, the splendour of the royal robes, the profusion of rich perfumes, are dwelt on. Of these last such quantities were used that the whole person was not merely sprinkled, but “ran down” with them to the very skirts of the garment. The psalmist describes the fragrance of Messiah’s garments to be such as if the robes had been made of the very substance of aromatic woods. “Thy garments are all myrrh, aloes and cassia.” No palace adorned with ivory--a favourite ornament of palaces--could furnish such fragrance, no, nor even the incense that was burnt upon the golden altar as a grateful odour to the Lord. Now, all these perfumed garments were typical; first, of the graces and virtues of the Redeemer Himself in His human character; secondly, of whatever is refreshing, encouraging, consoling, and cheering in the external ministration of the word; and, thirdly, of the internal comforts of the Holy Spirit. We proceed to other particulars in the magnificent appearance of His court on the wedding-day, figurative of the glory of the Church in its final condition of purity and peace, and of the rank and order of particular churches. “Kings’ daughters are among Thy honourable women.” But the primary meaning of the word rendered “honourable” is “bright, sparkling,” and the imagery of the original would be better preserved if rendered thus, “Kings’ daughters are among the bright beauties of Thy court.” The beauty certainly is mystic--the beauty of evangelical sanctity and innocence. But who are these kings’ daughters? They are the kingdoms and peoples, perhaps the various national churches, fostered for many ages by the piety of Christian princes, and now brought to the perfection of beauty by their being cleansed from all wrong--they may welt be called “kings’ daughters,” of whom kings and queens are called in prophetic language the fathers and mothers. Then, the consort, “the queen,” who is she? Some expositors have imagined that the consort is an emblem of the Church catholic in her totality; the kings’ daughters, typical of the several particular churches of which that one universal is composed. But the queen consort here is unquestionably the Hebrew Church; the Church of the natural Israel, reunited, by her conversion, to her husband, and advanced to the high prerogative of the mother Church of Christendom; and the kings’ daughters are the churches which had been gathered out of the Gentiles in the interval between the expulsion of his wife and the taking of her home again, that is, between the dispersion of the Jews by the Romans and their restoration. The restoration of the Hebrew Church to the rights of a wife, to the situation of the queen consort in Messiah’s kingdom upon earth, is the constant strain of prophecy. The prophet, I said, describes the Gentile converts as becoming, upon the reunion, children of the pardoned wife. And so St. Paul (Romans 11:1-36.). The standard gold upon the queen’s robe denotes the treasures of which the Church is the depositary--the Word and Sacraments, and the dispensation of grace and forgiveness by their due administration. Then follows--
III. The counsel to the bride (Verses10, 11). If a princess from a distant land, taken in marriage by a great king, were admonished to forget her own people and her father’s house, the purport of the advice would easily be understood to be, that she should divest herself of all attachment to the customs of her native country, and to the style of her father’s court, and learn to speak the language and assume the dress, the manners and the taste of her husband’s people. The “father’s house,” and “own people,” which the psalmist advises the queen consort to forget, is the ancient Jewish religion in its external form, the ceremonies of the temple service, the sacrifices and the typical purgations of the Levitical priesthood. Not that she is to forget God’s gracious promises to Abraham, nor the covenant with her forefathers, nor any of the wonderful things God did for them. But only, so as to desire no more, the ancient Levitical rites and worship. They have served their purpose, and are now to be laid aside. Christ, her husband, is her paramount authority now, and is entitled to her unreserved obedience. There is given--
IV. The description of the queen (verse 13). “The king’s daughter.” Who is this? Not some new personage, the Christian Church in general composed of both Jews and Gentiles, as Luther thought, but, as Bishop Hume observes, “that the connection between Christ and His spouse unites in itself every relation and every affection.” She is, therefore, daughter, wife and sister all in one. The same seems to have been the notion of a learned Dominican of the seventeenth century, who remarks that the Empress Julia, in the legends of some ancient coins, is called the daughter of Augustus, whose wife she was. But, with much general reverence for the opinions of these learned commentators, I am persuaded that the stops have been misplaced in the Hebrew manuscripts by the Jewish critics upon the last revision of the text--that translators have been misled by their false division of the text, and expositors misled by translators. The stops being rightly placed, the Hebrew words give this sense: “She is all glorious”--she, the consort of whom we have been speaking, is glorious in every respect--“Daughter of a king!” That is, she is a princess born; she is glorious, therefore, for her high birth. She is, indeed, of high and heavenly extraction! Accordingly, in the Apocalypse, the bride, the Lamb’s wife, is “the holy Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God.” The psalmist adds: “She is conducted in procession to the king”--in all the pomp of a public procession. This may point to some remarkable assistance which the Jews will receive from the Christian Gentiles in their re-settlement in the Holy Land (Isaiah 18:1-7, at end, and Zephaniah 3:10). And then follow the prediction as to the Church’s children and the distinguished character they shall hold, and he closes with setting forth the design and predicting the effect of this Divine song. (Bishop Horsley.)
Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear.
; forget also thine own people, and thy father’s house.
The Bridegroom’s call to the bride
Christ and His Church are the subject of this noble psalm.
I. The call to higher holiness, to higher attainments in faith, love and purity. And the figure employed suggests what is needed--the entire renunciation of the world which lieth in the wicked one, as in marriage the bride is well content to leave her old home, and all its intimacies, for the higher love that awaits her. See the call of Abraham, and what is written of the tribe of Levi. “Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him,” etc.; and our Lord’s words, “He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is,” etc.
II. The enforcement of this exhortation. “So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty.” That beauty is a spiritual one--the beauty of holiness, the spiritual lovelines of a soul on which the King has begun to stamp the impress of His own beauty. Many will mournfully say that no such beauty is theirs. But remember that word of the Lord, “I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus.” “I have surely heard;” it means that it is as sweetest music in my ears. The lowly self-estimate, the deep humility of heart which such sorrow reveals is part of the very beauty which made the Lord answer to the bride who had just said, “Look not upon me, for I am black,” “Behold, thou art all fair, my love; there is not a spot in thee.” For the mantle of Christ’s perfect righteousness is cast over every believer, and in that they are “all fair.”
III. The further enforcement and exhortation. “For He is thy Lord, and worship thou Him.” We are never to forget His Divine dignity and the unutterable disparity of rank between the parties in this marriage. “Thy Maker is thy husband.” Our love, therefore, must be worship, adoration. (C. J. Brown, D. D.)
The portrait of the Bride
The transference of the historical features of this wedding-song to a spiritual purpose is not so easy or satisfactory as in the case of the Bride’s consort. There is a thicker rind of prose fact to cut through, and certain of the features cannot be applied without undue violence. But in its main broad outlines this portraiture of the Bride tells of the Church of Christ as did that of the King tell of Christ Himself.
I. The all-surrendering love that must mark the bride. In all real wedded life, as those who have tasted it know, there comes, by sweet necessity, the subordination, in the presence of a purer and more absorbing affection, of all lower, howsoever sweet, loves that once filled the whole heart. The same thing is true in regard to the union of the soul with Christ. The description of the Bride’s abandonment of former duties and ties may be transferred, without the change of a word, to our relations to Him. If love to Him has really come into our hearts, it will master all our yearnings and tendencies and affections, and we shall feel that we cannot but yield up everything besides by reason of the sovereign power of this new affection. It will deal with the old loves just as the new buds upon the beech-trees in the spring deal with the old leaves that still hang withered on some of the branches--push them from their hold. Love will sweep the heart clean of its antagonists. Christ demands complete surrender. Ah! I fear me that it is no uncharitable judgment to say that the bulk of so-called Christians are playing at being Christians, and have never penetrated into the depths either of the sweet all-sufficiency of the love that they say they possess, or the constraining necessity which is in it for the surrender of all besides.
II. The king’s love and the bride’s reverence (Psalms 45:11). Here are two thoughts that go, as I take it, very deep into the realities of the Christian life. The first is that, in simple literal fact, Jesus Christ is affected, in His relation to us, by the completeness of our dependence upon Him, and surrender of all else for Him. We do not believe that half vividly enough. Again, in the measure in” which we live out our Christianity, in whole-hearted and thorough surrender, in that measure shall we be conscious of His nearness and feel His love. There are many Christian people that have only got religion enough to make them uncomfortable. They must not do this because it is forbidden; they ought to do that because it is commanded. They would much rather do the forbidden thing, and they have no wish to do the commanded thing. And so they live in twilight. And they cannot understand the blessed experience of the man who really walks in the light of Christ’s face, and they miss the blessing that is waiting for them because they have not really given up themselves.
III. The reflected honour and influence of the bride. The Bride, thus beloved by the King, thus standing by His side, those around recognize her dignity and honour, and draw near to secure her intercession. Translate that out of the emblem into plain words, and it comes to this--if Christian people, and communities of such, are to have influence in the world, they must be thoroughgoing Christians.
IV. The fair adornment of the bride. “The King’s daughter is all glorious within.” The Book of the Revelation dresses her in the fine linen clean and white, which symbolizes the lustrous radiance and snowy purity of righteousness. The psalm describes her dress as partly consisting in garments gleaming with gold, which suggests splendour and glory, and partly in robes of careful and many-coloured embroidery, which suggests the patience with which the slow needle has been worked through the stuff, and the variegated and manifold graces and beauties with which she is adorned.
V. The homecoming of the bride. (A. Maclaren, D. D.)
We have here the marriage of a great King, of Him who is “King of kings.” Christ and the Church are the parties concerned.
I. The party addressed. Who is it? “Hearken, O daughter.” Who is the “daughter”? The “daughter” here, without doubt, is the Church. Who else is there that can be the “daughter” of God? And how exceedingly beautiful and appropriate is the appellation bestowed upon her! She is the “daughter.” And why so? Because she is the wife of the Son. It is precisely as it is recognized in our own case. The wife of the son becomes the daughter of the father of the son, and still more remarkably, she becomes the daughter-in-law. That is literally the position occupied by the Church and the light in which she is regarded by the very law of God. Hence, “hearken, O daughter.” This is more than “adoption,” for there, there may be no kind of connection, but here it is of the closest kind. And there follows from it the transference to the bride of the glory, riches and happiness of the husband, while all the obligations, debts, delinquencies and deficiencies belonging to the wife are taken by him. You have no enemies that are not his; he no friends that are not yours. What a wonderful union it is.
II. The charge to the bride. “Hearken and consider,” etc. Now, the charge to “forget thine own people,” etc., may seem difficult. But there must be unreserved and undivided affection. There must be nothing allowed in the feelings and affections as comparable to Him. We must be ready to put all on one side for Christ. There must be no compromise. He gave up all for us.
III. The promise. “So shall the King,” etc. The beauty is that of holiness. Let it be ours. (J. Capel Molyneux, B. A.)
The espousal of souls to Christ
I. An exhortation. “Hearken, O daughter,” etc. This day, if your covenant is not to be an empty mocking, your heart must be opened to hear the declaration of His love, in redeeming your soul from destruction, and offering to espouse you to Himself.
II. An instruction “Forget also,” etc.
III. A promise. “So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty.” The believer is not called to forsake the objects of his natural corrupt taste, without a much higher and more precious object being set forth for his acceptance, even the love of the King. He delights in the first efforts after righteousness, as in the green figs and tender grapes, which, though of no value in themselves, yet promise well. By all comparisons, by every means which can strengthen faith, Christ gives pledge to the soul forgetting her own people and her father’s house, that His love will not be withheld, but that He will greatly desire her beauty. Thy beauty shall be perfect through His comeliness put upon thee.
IV. A command. “He is thy Lord,” etc. However great or perfect the beauty of the spouse may be, or however high the privileges or honours the king may vouchsafe to her, yet let her remember that all is of Christ, and through Christ, and to Christ; and let her keep her own place of subordination to Him. Let the soul making covenant with Christ beware of spiritual pride, of thinking that she has attained safety from sin, or that she is now so regenerated that she cannot fall. Be not high-minded, but fear. (G. Innes.)
Christ the best husband; or, an earnest invitation to young women to come and see Christ
I. How Christ doth espouse himself unto the children, but more especially unto the daughters of men. The marriage knot is tied here, in which are included four things.
1. A mutual choice. Christ, when He first comes to you, finds you full of sin and pollution; and He maketh choice of you, not because of your holiness, nor of your beauty; you are drawn to make choice of this Lord Jesus Christ, because He first chose you.
2. A mutual affection accompanies the choice. The more acquaintance you have of this Lord Jesus, the more pleased you are with your choice, and the more your affections are drawn towards Him. And where can you place your affections better than upon that Jesus, who shed His blood for your sakes?
3. There is likewise mutual union; and here doth the marriage lie chiefly in this union.
4. There is a mutual obligation between Christ and His spouse.
II. Christ doth invite all of you to be his spouse. He regardeth not the rich more than the poor. He chose a mean virgin, espoused to a carpenter, to be His mother; and He chooseth and calleth all such to be His spouse.
III. Those who would re espoused unto Christ must hearken, consider, and incline to his invitation, and forget even their father’s house. You are not here to cast off all affections unto natural relations; but you must forget all relations, so as to be ready to forego all their favour, when it standeth in competition with that of the Lord Jesus Christ; and do not let your carnal friends and relations hinder you from closing with, and espousing, the Lord Jesus. (G. Whitefield, M. A.)
The privileges and duties of Christ’s spouse.
These words are the Father’s advice to the newly espoused Bride, how she may please her husband, His Son.
1. Consider the appellation given to the soul espoused to Christ--“Daughter.” Here is the name which believers receive. The person that naturally was a child of the devil, on the espousal with the Son of God, becomes a child of God. Though He brings home a spouse out of an ill house, and has nothing with her, yet His Father welcomes her into His family, and gives her no worse word than daughter.
2. The advice. She must be very obsequious to her husband, and in all things to follow Him as His own shadow. Search the meaning of the words, “hearken and consider.” This is what a dutiful wife owes to her husband. Her husband’s will must be hers. Her ear to him and her eye upon him. She must renounce all others for her husband. The more she minds them the less pleasing will she be. Consider--
I. The duty of the espoused to Christ, carefully to hear His will, and observe His motions, so as they may suit themselves to His pleasure in all things. This I take to be the meaning of this first clause. For explaining this doctrine, I shall show what is imported in it. It imports--
1. That Christ’s spouse is not left to walk at random. She is to notice every step of her carriage.
2. That those that are espoused to Christ must renounce their own will, and not seek to please themselves. “If any man,” saith Jesus, “will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up,” etc.
3. That our great aim in all things must be to please our Lord and husband, this is the law of marriage.
4. That we must trample upon our own inclinations when contrary to His, as Abraham did when offering up Isaac.
5. That when Christ’s will and our own go together, our main end must be to please Him.
6. We must not think to please Him with our own desires: only with what He commands.
7. That we must ever be with eye and ear attent that we may know and do His will (Psalms 123:2).
II. What it is to hear his will. He speaks through His works by our own consciences; by His Word, and by His Spirit. And all these we must hear and obey, and that without disputing.
III. How we are to eye and observe him so as to please him. As our Lord and master; as our teacher; as our guide and leader; as our last and chief end; as our witness in all things; as our judge; as our husband. We should also diligently observe His countenance towards us; and His dispensations and way of dealing with us.
IV. Reasons of this doctrine. Because of all that He is to us. Because of His love to us which so demands it. He died for us. The angels obey Him, shall not we? His pleasure is that which is best for us. His bidding is ever for our good. There are three things I would have you to believe.
1. That you are not fit to be your own choosers. The event has proved it often, in that people getting their own will has been their ruin (Psalms 78:29), and the best of the saints, getting the reins in their own hand, have set all on fire.
2. All our wilfulness proceeds on a mistake. We think sinful liberty best for us, ease, plenty, and the like. God knows it is otherwise, and therefore He will have us hear Him for our good.
3. Consider your experience. Have you not seen many times how God has done you good against your wills, good which you would never have got had He given you your will. (T. Boston, D. D)
The second advice given to the spouse is this, “Forget also thine own people and thy father’s house” (Genesis 2:24). It is equivalent to that, “That ye put off concerning the former conversation” (Ephesians 4:22; 1 Peter 1:14). Now, in these words, “Forget also,” etc., there is--
1. The natural relations of Christ’s spouse pointed at in contradistinction to those of her husband. She wants not relations, indeed, but they are such as she can have no credit nor good from them, but will be the worse of them, and therefore her husband has taken her out from among them, and would have her to forget them. She has some that are her natural country people, her own people. Who are these but the world that lieth in wickedness; and before she was espoused to Christ, she was one of their own, but He hath chosen her out of the world. Every country hath its own fashions, and in former times she followed the fashions of the country as well as the rest. She has also a father’s house in that country. Who is her father naturally but the devil? (John 8:44), and though she has left the house, yet he keeps house there still with his children and servants (Luke 15:15).
2. There is the duty of Christ’s spouse with respect to these. She must forget both of them. And here there is something supposed, that is, that Christ’s spouse is apt to have a hankering after her own people and father’s house, even after she has left them, as Laban alleged that Jacob sore longed after his father’s house. There may be eager looks back again, while the soul minds them, and that with too much affection, not sufficiently weaned from them. There is something also expressed that Christ’s spouse ought to forget them. Not absolutely, for she not only may, but ought to mind them for her own humiliation and thankfulness. But in respect of affection, her heart must be weaned from them, she must not desire to return to them; and in respect of practice, she must no more conform herself to them. But the hearts of Christians are often found much unweaned from their father’s house. As it is with a childish, new-married woman, they have a foolish hankering after the house from which they came.
I. Is what this unweariedness apears.
1. In the cooling of our zeal against our father’s house.
2. In kindly reflections on its entertainments and pleasures. Israel lusting after the flesh-pots of Egypt.
3. In uneasiness under the restraints of our husband’s house.
4. In hankering after the Egypt we have left. Remember Lot’s wife.
5. In kindly entertaining any sent from thence (2 Samuel 12:4).
6. In serving our husband after the fashion of our father’s house; like a new-married woman, who, though she has changed the house, yet she keeps the fashions of that from which she came. So, though the man will not neglect prayer, hearing, and ether duties, yet he is so far unweaned, that he performs these often only as they do who are still in his father’s house. “When thou prayest,” says He, “thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are.” He will have his own work done after the fashion of His own house.
7. In our stealing visits to our father’s house, and secret tampering with former lusts. Stealing it must be, for our Lord and Husband will never give His consent to the meeting again (Ezekiel 6:9). But alas! how often is Christ’s spouse missed out of her husband’s house.
8. Many that have been espoused to Christ before the world, but not from the heart, quite forsake their husband, and go back, for altogether, to their father’s house by their apostasy. Like the Levite’s wife--for wife she was, though in a secondary degree (Judges 19:1-30.).
II. What is the cause of all this? There are some who have been joined to Christ only by the hand, but never by the heart. But even those who are joined to Him by both may yet be chargeable with being unweaned from their father’s house, as the others certainly are. For--
1. The consent of many to Christ is an involuntary consent (Psalms 78:34; Psalms 78:36-37). The stone thrown up in the air will fall again when the force ceaseth.
2. The heart has not been freely loosed from some one sin or another. They “go not very far away” from Egypt (Mark 10:20-21).
3. Sin has never been made bitter enough to them. The soul that never tasted the bitterness of sin will break over purposes, vows and resolutions, to get to it again.
4. Because by reason of their not living by faith on Christ, they find not that soul satisfaction in Him which they expected. No wonder she longs to be back at her father’s house who is disappointed of comfort in her husband’s.
5. Because there is a principle of corruption in the best, which still inclines the wrong way. We are unstable souls. A good frame is hard to get, and easily lost. It is like letters written in the sand, that a blast of wind doth obliterate. Hence the soul often turns aside very quickly, and on very slender occasions, as Peter at the voice of a maid, and that even soon after some remarkable manifestations from the Lord. Lastly, because those of our father’s house are ever seeking to seduce us, and make us as they are. How humble should all this make us, and how careful not to look back and hanker after our old sins. Think how such desires grieve the Spirit of Christ; how they will move your communion with Christ; how unfixed and unstable in religion they will make you; how they dishonour Christ; how they are the fountain of apostasy. They that are often looking away will break away at length. (T. Boston, D. D.)
The bride is to forget her own people and her father’s house, i.e. the wicked world, “the children of disobedience among whom we,” etc. When the soul comes to Christ, it must say, as Ruth to Naomi, “Thy people shall be my people,” etc.
I. The forgetting of her people by the bride.
1. In what respects. We must forsake their company; we must not conform ourselves to them; we must forget them in affection.
2. Why we must do this. Because they are not going our way. In coming to Christ we give up with them. He says to us, If you take me, let them go their way. And the world’s friendship is enmity with God (James 4:8); and at last there will be a total separation (Matthew 20:1). Grace begins it here. Evil company, too, is an affecting plague. “Evil communications corrupt,” etc. Remember, if you do not separate from them, you will share with them.
II. The forgetting of the father’s house. This father is our father, the devil.
1. You must part with the master of the house, Satan, and renounce your relation to the house. Though you have no express compact with him, you have need to do this.
2. And you must quit the work of the house. We must cast off the work of darkness. They weary themselves to commit iniquity. This is work, hard, toilsome, dark, soul-ruining work. Now, you must quit the work of the house, of whatever sort it be. You must not be like those that will give over their master, engage with another, and yet come back and fall to their work again.
3. You must part with the provision and entertainments of the house. People use to get their meat where they work, and Satan’s slaves get their meat also in their father’s house.
4. And you must quit the fashions of the house. Every house hath its own fashions, and so has your father’s; but you must not keep them up. In civil things the fashion is to mind the world first, and even to give conscience a el, retch, if a person can gain any profit or ease by it. If you quit not these fashions, you will never see the house of heaven (Luke 10:41-42; 1 Corinthians 6:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 4:6). If ever men get more religion, they will get more moral honesty.
5. You must quit the garb of the house. Under the Old Testament, when people were to make any solemn appearance before God, they were called to change their garments (Genesis 34:2). You must part with the inner garment of the house, “that is the old man with his deeds” (Ephesians 4:22; Colossians 3:9). The old man is the corrupt evil nature. You must also part with the upper garment of the house, that is, the filthy rags of our own righteousness (Isaiah 64:6; Zechariah 3:4). And lastly, you must quit the interest of the house. People are readily concerned for the interest of their own house, and none more than the members of your father’s house. Now, if you mind for heaven you must quit this interest and pursue that of heaven, which is directly opposite (Genesis 3:15).
III. Why must christians forget their father’s house. Because--
1. Our father’s and our husband’s house are quite contrary the one to the other. There is no reconciling them (2 Corinthians 6:14-15).
2. As our husband’s house is most honourable, so our father’s is most base.
3. Because we will never apply ourselves to the way of our husband’s house if we forget not our father’s house. While the hearts of the Israelites were set on the flesh-pots of Egypt, they could make no progress in their journey to Canaan.
4. Because it is the worst of houses. No wonder, for the devil, the worst of masters, is the master of the house. It is soul slavery. The fashions of the house are the very reverse of all that is good. The interests of the house are the dishonour of God, the ruin of mankind. The garb of the house is filthy rags, and the shame of their nakedness will at length appear before the world.
IV. Those are to be reproved that will not forget their father’s house. And who are these?
1. They are those that in the midst of Gospel light continue in the darkness of the house; their father has put out their eyes (2 Corinthians 4:4).
2. Those that retain the language of the house. When Peter spoke the damsel knew what countryman he was. And what shall we say of thee who art a cursor, swearer, liar, filthy speaker, but that thou art a Hellilean? I appeal to your own consciences what sort of language:/ours is.
3. Those that wear the badge of the house on their breasts, the master of the house’s mark on their forehead. Profane people. You who will not pray. “The wicked through the pride of his countenance will not seek after God.”
4. Those that give up themselves to the trade of the house, minding nothing but the world, earthly things. They know not communion with God.
5. Those that are the hidden servants of the house. It has been said of some that they have stolen away to heaven without being observed; but there are others that steal away to hell, and the world never hears the sound of their feet: even deep-veiled hypocrites, whited sepulchres. (T. Boston, D. D.)
The youthful Christian exposed to the hostility of ungodly relatives and the world
The words of our text apply specially to Christ and His redeemed Church. But I take the words in a large general sense, as applicable to all who would be interested in the Redeemer. And the force of them in that sense is this, that no earthly relation, however near and however beloved--no earthly interest, however valuable and however important--must come between you and God. A strange method this (it may not unnaturally occur to your minds) of recommending religion! to tell you that it may perhaps expose you to the sorest crucifixion of natural feelings and to the most painful sacrifices. And--
I. There ever has been, and there ever will be, an inconsiderable opposition between the world and the godly. True, you may escape this opposition by dispensing with the seriousness of mind which religion produces. Keep only to the form of religion and the world will not complain. But its subjects are so momentous, so overwhelming, and its joy so tempered with solemnity, that they who know the power of religion will have the least relish for the frivolous pleasures of this world. Religion hangs so loosely on many that it gives no offence. It stands in no one’s way. They can be all things to all men. Such persons are safe from the world. But if you will not be such as these, there is no alternative but to reckon on the opposition of the world and its friends.
II. Some of the situations in which christian sincerity will be tried.
1. In the first place, they may be deserted by friends and relatives. Even those on whom they depend for support may turn against them and cast them off.
2. They may be tempted to sin. They may be sorely plagued by the ungodly. “Righteous Lot” of old “was vexed with the filthy conversation” of the wicked in Sodom; and there are innumerable ways in which the men of the world may tempt and injure the godly.
3. They may be despised. To be religious is thought mean and low. Now, some particular duty which shall mark them out as Christians may have to be performed. It is performed, and so draws the gaze and the contempt of all around. This is hard to bear. But it must be borne. Have you repented of your choice? (John Young, M. A.)
So shall the King greatly desire thy beauty.
The beauty of the Church desired by Christ
I. The believer’s beauty.
1. It is all derived, and not natural. Our Lord Jesus first makes men beautiful through His comeliness put upon them, and then He commends and takes pleasure in the works of His own hands (Ezekiel 16:14).
(1) The believer is covered with the rich and ornamenting robe of the righteousness of His glorious surety. He is “clothed with the garments of salvation” (Isaiah 61:10).
(2) The believer is also “all glorious within,” by the working of the Holy Spirit. His heart and affections ascend heavenward.
(3) The believer is fair and beautiful in respect of his outward conversation. The truly godly do not talk and walk at random: “Honey and milk are under their tongue,” and they endeavour through grace to set the Lord always before them, and to regulate every part of their conduct according to the rule of His Word.
2. What are some of the qualities of the believer’s beauty?
(1) It is a derived beauty.
(2) It is real (Song of Solomon 4:1). The judgment of Christ concerning His children, and the world’s opinion of them, are very different.
(3) It is of a spiritual nature, His adorning is the hidden man of the heart (1 Peter 3:4).
(4) It is of a growing and increasing nature (Proverbs 4:18; Romans 8:18). Every new discovery that the believer gets of the King in His beauty by the eye of faith, in the glass of his own word, adds to his spiritual beauty, and carries him forward to a further degree of likeness and conformity to Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18).
(5) The Lord Jesus will perfect the beauty of His Bride and Spouse in due time. The beauty of a believer is perfect as to parts in the day of regeneration (2 Corinthians 5:17); and he that hath once begun the good work of beautifying a soul with salvation will finish it (Philippians 1:6).
II. The delight which the Lord Jesus is pleased to take in the believer’s beauty.
1. He does so by looking upon it with pleasure and delight. He beholds the upright with a pleasant countenance (Psa 11:17). We see with what pleasure he beheld the integrity of Nathaniel (John 1:47). And as He looks upon the beauty of His people with delight, so He is never more taken with it than when they are entertaining the lowest thoughts of themselves.
2. He does so by commending it (Job 1:8; Song of Solomon 2:14).
3. Christ evidences great delight in the beauty of His people by keeping company with them, and admitting them to the enjoyment of sweet fellowship and communion with Himself (Revelation 3:20)
4. He evidences the pleasure and delight which He takes in the beauty of His people, by letting them into the knowledge of these things which are hid from the men of the world (Psalms 25:14).
5. He evidences His delight and complacency in the beauty of His people by the many endearing characters and designations which He gives them; such as, His Sister, His Spouse, His Love, His Dove, His Undefiled, etc.
6. He does so by the honourable services He employeth His people in. He, as it were, ornaments Himself with them (Isaiah 62:3).
7. Christ evidences His desire of, and delight in, the beauty of His people by intimating His will to the Father, that they may be admitted to be where He is after they have served their generation according to His will in the present world (John 17:24).
1. For information.
(1) We may infer that man is by nature vile and loathsome in the sight of an holy God, and so liable to the Divine displeasure; he has lost the glorious and beautiful image of God that was instamped upon him in his first creation by his fall in the first Adam.
(2) Hence, see what it is that can render a man truly beautiful and comely in the sight of God; it is his being clothed with the righteousness of His Son, and His being made a partaker of the grace of His Spirit.
(3) Hence, see how it is that any come actually to partake of the beauty of holiness, and that is in their being espoused to Christ.
(4) Is our Lord Jesus pleased to take complacency and delight in the beauty of His people? Then we may see how careful and diligent they should be to become still more desirable in His eye by growing in likeness and conformity to Him.
(5) Hence, see that believers in Christ need not be much moved on account of the disrespect and contempt which a carnal world is disposed to cast upon them.
(6) We may see matter of reproof to all such as are instrumental in marring the beauty of the Church, whether by persecution, error in doctrine, neglect of discipline, or by perverting the exercise of it, or by the introduction of human inventions into the worship of God.
2. For trial and examination. Are you possessed of that beauty that is amiable in the sight of Christ? If so, we think that you have seen your natural blackness and deformity; if ever you saw yourselves in the glass of the holy law set before you by the Spirit, this must have been the case with you. You have seen and felt an utter inability in yourselves to acquire that beauty that is pleasing to Christ. But again, if you are partakers of this beauty that is so desirable to Christ, then your remaining sin and deformity is your burden. In a word, if you are blessed with the begun participation of spiritual beauty, it is your real concern to have it increased and perfected. You are sensible there is much lacking in it (Philippians 3:13).
3. For exhortation.
(1) As to you who are the children and people of God, and whom He has begun to beautify with His salvation, we exhort you to bless the Lord for His goodness to you; for His works of wonder done, both for you and in you; though you were once lying among the pots, yet mercy has lifted you up. To be upon your guard against everything that tends to stain your beauty. Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation. “Be not conformed to this world.” (T. Bennet)
For He is thy Lord; and worship thou Him.--
I. Its nature.
1. Its internal principles. There must be reverence, and this in the highest degree, because of its object. Not terror, but sacred awe and delight. And there must be also deep humiliation, for we are sinful creatures. Anything like self-satisfaction and complacency must be offensive to God. See parable of Pharisee and Publican. And such humility has ever characterized God’s true worshippers. Another principle of worship for fallen man must be trust in atonement. No acceptable worship ever was presented but through sacrifice. The history of Cain and Abel illustrates this. And thus is it now. All access to God is by the sacrifice of Christ. Then there must be submission, See the attendant seraphim whom Isaiah saw in his vision of “the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up.” They were engaged in reverential worship. Another principle is love. Not gratitude alone, but supreme affection delighting in God.
2. Its external manifestations. And here we have--
(1) Acts, such as prayer, thanksgiving, commemoration, sitting before the Lord to hear His word, which is a real act of worship, and not as some thoughtlessly say, to be distinguished from it.
(2) Places--the closet, the family, the church and the great assembly.
II. The ground and reason of worship. “For He is thy Lord.” This declares--
1. The Divine greatness, for the Lord of the Church is Lord of all.
2. His absolute dominion over us. That dominion extends to our being, and to all by which our being can be supported. All the blessings of life are by Him distributed, withheld, restricted, or multiplied, or withdrawn. Our felicity is from the light of His countenance; our pain from the pressure of His hand.
3. He is our Lord legislatively. He has given us a law to obey, a law holy, just and good. And He has sanctioned it by the penalty of eternal death. But as we have broken the law, all the more reason wherefore we should worship.
4. But to the Church especially it may be said, “He is thy Lord.” For the Church is a society of such as are actually reconciled to God by Jesus Christ; it is the separated company of pardoned believers. And to this company He stands in the special relation of a gracious Sovereign.
III. The importance of worship. We speak now only of public worship. For the proclamation of the great fundamental truths of religion. This, therefore, has ever been felt to be a duty. Good men have struggled, not for mere freedom of opinion, but of worship. Let us uphold the worship of God. Beware of a careless formal service. Seek in it to be increasingly spiritual. (R. Watson.)
The duty of all to pay divine worship and homage to Christ
I. The designation the father here gives to Christ. “He is thy Lord.”
1. This designation implies that there is a mutual relation between Christ and the Church: He is her Lord, and she His servant; He her King, she His subject; He her Head, she His member; He her Husband, she His spouse.
2. It implies His eminency in the Church. Whatever persons come into it He alone is Lord and Sovereign there.
3. It implies His sovereign power and authority in and over the Church. He is the sole Lawgiver to the Church (Isaiah 33:22). He is the great Speaker in the Church, to whom alone she owes the hearing of faith (Matthew 17:5). Yea, so large and extensive is His dominion, that it reaches to heaven, earth and hell (Revelation 1:18).
4. It implies that it is the indispensable duty of the Church, and every particular member thereof, to yield cheerful and ready obedience to the will of Christ in whatever He is pleased to command.
5. It implies that our Lord Jesus has the burden and care of the Church lying wholly upon Him.
6. It implies that He is God equal with the Father and Holy Spirit. “He is thy Lord,” faith the Father to, the Church, “and worship thou Him.”
II. Is what respects Jesus Christ may be called lord of the church.
1. He is so by the designation and appointment, of God the Father, who saith concerning Him (Psalms 2:6).
2. He is so in virtue of His own actual compliance with the Father’s designation of Him to that charge (Psalms 40:6-7; Isaiah 50:5).
3. Jesus Christ is the Church’s Lord by purchase and conquest; He is her Lord-Redeemer, both by price and by power. He has purchased the Church at the costly price of His own precious blood (1 Peter 1:18).
4. He is Lord in and over the Church, as He is her Husband and she His spouse.
5. He is Lord in and over the Church by her own consent.
6. He is Lord of the Church, inasmuch as it is from Him that she expects, and is to enjoy the reward, when her service in this world is accomplished (2Th 4:7-8).
III. The worship and homage which the church owes to Christ as her lord.
1. For information.
(1) Hence, see that the Church is a highly dignified society.
(2) Is Jesus Christ Lord in and over the Church? Then we may see the sin and danger of usurping any of the prerogatives which belong to Him by adding to, or taking from, His institutions.
(3) Hence, see with what care and diligence the Church and every particular member thereof should, in their places and stations, strive together for the faith of the Gospel.
2. For trial and examination.
(1) What acquaintance have you got with Christ as your Lord and Redeemer?
(2) How are you pleased with the laws of Christ by which He rules His subjects?
(3) What think ye of Christ--of His person, of His love, His righteousness, offices and fulness; in all these He is truly precious to them who believe.
(4) Of what quality is your obedience to the royal law of Christ? Is it of an evangelical nature? Does it spring from faith in:Him, love to Him, and a tender regard to His authority displayed therein?
3. For exhortation.
(1) We exhort you who have been brought, by the power of grace to take Christ for your Lord, “to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of your Lord.”
(2) We exhort you who are strangers to Christ, and so in a state of rebellion against Him, to consider the woeful condition you are in. (T. Bennet.)
Praise and thanksgiving are the two necessary elements in all worship. We praise God for what He is--love, mercy, patience, justice, power, these are but some of the attributes of the Deity, and the more we realize their extent the more unfeignedly shall we praise Him. We offer up our thanksgivings for all that He has given and is giving us; material and spiritual blessings have been given to us so abundantly that we must be amazingly blind or monstrously ungrateful if our thanksgivings do not daily ascend to our loving Father. Worship is of immeasurable value to ourselves; it has a transforming power, in that it ever directs our thoughts away from ourselves outwards to our God. Besides this, the more our thoughts are uplifted in worship the more we shall grow like the God we worship. A Greek writer has told us of a temple at the entrance of which hung a magic mirror; every worshipper on entering the temple glanced into the mirror, and there saw himself in the very likeness of the God he worshipped. The legend but dimly veils “a great truth; why do we love to see our children true hero-worshippers? Is it not because we believe they will become more and more like the hero they respect so intensely? We ourselves delight in the companionship of a noble, heroic character. Or it may be we look back with thankfulness to the time we spent in such an one’s company; and why is the memory so sweet? We found a new strength through that friendship; in some degree we became like our friend. So, with humble, adoring love, we worship the God who condescends to be our friend, in the glorious expectation of gradually attaining to His likeness. So worship is to transform the various chequered experiences of our daily life, and even while it does so it shall transform our whole characters, till we “come unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” In our worship do we praise God because we daily prove what He is? Is our worship the outward expression of the faith and loyalty we show every day of our lives, or is it but the expression of virtues which should exist in us, but are never manifest? What does God see? Our worship should inspire us, should brighten the dark hours of our lives, nay, should even transform our lives by the “renewing of our minds.” Have we to confess that our worship is not a power in our lives, doesn’t cheer us when in sorrow, perplexity or temptation, doesn’t draw us closer to our God? What does God see? (A. Aitken.)
The daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift,
Gentile sinners coming into the Church and presenting themselves a free-will offering to the Lord upon the Gospel altar
Some things implied in the words.
1. That whatever be the outward lot and condition of a person or people, before the Lord is pleased to visit them with a dispensation of the Gospel, their case is truly melancholy, and affecting. When it is said, “the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift,” it supposes that her then present state was a state of distance from God and the ordinary means of gracious intercourse with Him.
2. That it is by the special providence of God that persons or nations are brought into the fellowship of the Gospel.
3. That it is a very great privilege to have a place in God’s house. Those who are within the Church enjoy all the ordinary means of salvation.
II. The gift which persons present to the Lord in the day of their effectual calling.
1. Men give themselves to the Lord in the day of their regeneration and effectual vocation. This is the principal gift, and that without which nothing which they can present to Him can possibly be accepted. What is it for persons to give themselves unto the Lord? We answer--
(1) It is to give up the soul in all its powers and faculties to the Lord, to be employed in His service.
(2) They likewise give up their bodies to the Lord. The eye to behold His works, and look into His Word, so as to affect the heart. The ear to hear and listen to His voice; the hand to work with an eye to His glory; the feet to run His errands; and the tongue to speak to, and for, God, and confess Him before the world.
(3) All that the man is, and hath, is contained in this gift.
III. Speak of persons presenting that gift unto the Lord.
1. Mention some things imported in a person or people, their giving themselves to the Lord.
(1) This exercise of a person or people, their giving themselves to the Lord, imports their discerning, and taking up the ground and warrant that they have to do so, and that is, the Lord’s giving and making over Himself to them in the word of grace and promise as their God in Christ.
(2) A person or people, their giving themselves to the Lord, imports an humble and hearty acknowledgment that they have formerly been under the power and dominion of other lords and lovers (Isaiah 36:13).
(3) It imports a real persuasion of His having an undoubted right to them and their services.
(4) It has in it the person’s withdrawing his allegiance from his former lords and lovers; his revoking and calling back the gift which he lind made of himself and his service to Satan, the god of this world.
(5),It imports a cordial embracing and receiving a God in Christ as their God and portion, Their taking the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as their God and Father, according to His promise (Jeremiah 3:19).
(6) It imports an unshaken purpose and resolution, through grace, to keep by the Lord and cleave to Him for better and worse.
2. Inquire for what ends and purposes persons give themselves to the Lord in the day of their effectual calling.
(1) Sinners give themselves to the Lord in the day of their effectual calling, their hearts being touched by grace, in compliance with the end and design of the glorious Gospel, which is to bring sinners that are ready to perish in the far country of a natural state home to God, as their God and Father in Christ.
(2) With an eye to their own safety.
(3) That they may be henceforth employed in His service (Acts 9:6; Psalms 116:16).
(4) To be led and guided through an ensnaring world by the good skill of His hand.
(5) That He may keep them by His almighty power, through faith unto salvation (1 Peter 1:5).
IV. Illustrate the truth of the doctrine,
1. Though there were none who set themselves in greater opposition to the Lord Jesus and the grace of God manifested in Him than the Jews, yet three thousand of them were added to the Church in one day (Acts 2:37-42).
2. The success which the Gospel has already had among the Gentile nations.
1. For trial and examination.
(1) If you have really given yourselves to the Lord, “you have accepted of God in Christ for Himself, and that without making any conditions about peace and prosperity and freedom from trouble in this world”; but you gave yourself to Him without any reserve.
(2) If you have really given yourselves to the Lord, it was with much affection you did so (Jeremiah 2:2). If you have given yourselves to the Lord, it was in a marriage-covenant.
(3) If you have given yourselves to the Lord, you cannot fail to admire His love and condescension to you in His giving Himself to you, in the word of grace and promise, and determining you to give yourselves to Him.
(4) If you have given yourselves to the Lord, you will be frequently recognizing that deed; yea, it will be habitually in your minds, and often upon the imagination of the thoughts of your hearts.
(5) If you have given yourselves to the Lord, you have a high esteem and valuation of Himself, and of everything that stands connected with Him.
2. For consolation to all who have been determined to give themselves to the Lord. They are in a state of happy condition; they have made the Most High their habitation; and therefore no real evil can befall them, neither any plague come near their dwelling.
3. For exhortation.
(1) As for you, then, who have been determined, by grace, to give yourselves to the Lord, we exhort you to bless the great and glorious name of the Lord your God, that He hath been graciously pleased so to shine into your hearts as to give you the saving knowledge of Himself, and bowed your rebellious wills unto a cordial yielding of yourselves unto the Lord, and so hath caused you to enter into His sanctuary which He hath sanctified for ever. We exhort you to be ever mindful whose you are, and to whom you have devoted yourselves and your services. When Satan, the world and the remaining corruptions of your flesh would seek to entice and draw you aside from the service of God, be exhorted to tell them that you have opened your mouths to the Lord, and that you cannot, and, through grace, will not, go back. We exhort you who have really given yourselves to the Lord to use your best endeavours to excite and influence others to go and do likewise. (T. Bennet.)
The King’s daughter is all glorious within.
The King’s daughter glorious within and clothed with a garment of wrought gold
I. The believer’s inward glory.
1. All true believers have a glorious life. They live a life of justification, a life of holiness, and of sweet fellowship with God.
2. Believers have a glorious understanding and knowledge of God and Divine things. They have all received a heart to know God as their God in Christ; and that knowledge is eternal life begun.
3. Believers have a glorious conformity to and compliance with the will of God, wrought in their hearts by the Holy Spirit.
4. All true believers have a precious faith in, and a glorious love to, God in Christ implanted in their hearts by the Holy Spirit.
5. Believers have a glorious inward peace (Romans 5:1), a peace that “passeth knowledge,” a peace that the world knows not of, and which it can neither give nor take away.
6. Believers are possessed of a glorious joy and spiritual gladness. They stand by faith upon the sure foundation which God hath laid in Zion, and “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2).
7. Believers are possessed of a meek and humble frame of heart and spirit, which is a great ornament to the soul in the sight of God; and is accordingly said to be of great price in His esteem (1 Peter 3:4).
II. The apparel wherewith the believer is clothed. “Wrought gold.”
1. What we are to understand by it. All true believers are daughters of the King; they are chaste virgins, being espoused to His Son. They are a peculiar people; they dwell alone, and are not reckoned among the nations.
2. Its excellence.
(1) It is of an infinite value and worth, being “the righteousness of God” (Romans 1:17). It is a righteousness of God’s providing. The glorious Person who wrought out this righteousness is God (Romans 9:5); and the applier of it is God the Holy Ghost.
(2) It is of a durable and lasting nature.
(3) It is a garment for glory and for beauty.
(4) It is perfect and unsullied.
1. For information.
(1) Hence, see what a great and wonderful change, union to the person of Christ makes in the case of a poor, guilty, polluted sinner.
(2) Hence, see that imputed righteousness and inherent holiness go hand in hand together; where the one is, there is also the other.
(3) Hence, see what a precious thing the Gospel is; and how highly it ought to be had in estimation by all who enjoy it in purity. It reveals and brings the clothing of wrought gold near to the naked and starving soul (Isaiah 46:11-12).
(4) Hence, see that when one grace is implanted in the heart, there all grace is to be found.
(5) We may hence see the difference between the true believer and the hypocrite. The latter may have as fair an outside as the former; but he has no inward glory.
(6) Hence see who they are that are truly the excellent ones of the earth. They are not those whom the world generally takes to be so; nor those who are most disposed to account themselves so; but the truly excellent and honourable persons are those who are clothed in the robe of wrought gold, the embroidered garment of Immanuel’s righteousness, and made glorious within. These are the men whom the King hath highly advanced, and whom He delights to honour. (T. Bennet.)
The internal glory of the King’s daughter
The spiritual union that exists between Christ and His Church is here beautifully described. Within her pale were to be found in future ages the noble, the learned and the great. Kings’ daughters were to tread her courts and defend her bulwarks. Her territory was to be enlarged, for the “daughter of Tyre” was to be there as pro-figurative of that vast and large accession of heathen nations to the profession Of the Christian faith.
I. God’s glory is displayed in her as his residence and place of habitation. Transcendent on this account are the glory and beauty of the Church, which is called “the city of God” (Psalms 46:4). In this city God dwells--“God is in the midst of her” (Psalms 46:5); and she cannot but be glorious, because God delights in her for man’s good: He is represented as “loving the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob” (Psalms 48:2). The Church is described as “beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth” (Psalms 48:2). Yea, “glorious things are spoken of thee, thou city of God” (Psalms 87:3). Christ has secured to His Church the perpetuity of His presence by His own unalterable words (Matthew 28:20). The Church is the depositary of God’s Word (1 Timothy 3:15). “The Church is a witness and a keeper of holy writ” (Art. 20); and by her is manifested “all the glory of the Godhead in the face of Jesus Christ.” Angels above and men below consider His salvation of His people glorious (Luke 15:7). “The unsearchable riches of Christ “are preached, “to the intent that now unto the principalities,” etc. (Ephesians 3:10). God does not now answer His people in a visible way, by Urim and Thummim, but yet in a real and effectual way, “drawing nigh to them that draw nigh to Him”; and, though God be neglected and forgotten and despised, yet “He is known in her palaces for a refuge” (Psalms 48:3)--“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalms 46:1).
II. The King’s daughter is all glorious within because God’s children are born is her, The figure of being “all glorious within” is, no doubt, taken from the splendour of Eastern palaces. The Asiatic queens, sultanas and begums scarcely ever appeared in public. They remained, as they do to the present day, in their harems, amidst splendid and gorgeous decorations. In the former part of the psalm are described the excellencies of God--in the latter part the excellencies of God’s Church. Now, whether we speak of the Church collectively, or of individual believers, their graces, their gifts, and their holiness, are the fruits of Christ’s passion and the work of the Holy Ghost, who renews the heart and rectifies the will. “Of Zion it shall be said, this and that man was born in her” (Psalms 87:6). When a man is born again from above, he is accepted of God in the Beloved; Christ’s righteousness covers his past sins, and gives him a title to heaven. But the work does not stop here. Along with the title to heaven given to the believer in justification, there is also wrought in his heart, a meetness for heaven by sanctification. And what a privilege is this! Satan is trodden down under foot; the old man is supplanted by the new man; a depraved nature gives way to a divine nature; the image of Christ is imprinted on the heart; the believer is made like his Lord and Master--is changed from glory to glory. Now, whence is the source of all these blessings? They proceed from the King of the Church--from Him who has adopted the Church to be His daughter. With this agrees the language of the apostle (1 Corinthians 1:30). God is the Church’s glory; her honour, her wisdom and her grace proceed from Him who is, and shall be, the praise of the redeemed for ever.
III. The king’s daughter is all glorious, because she is emblematic of heaven itself. Surely, when we are robed in Christ’s righteousness and blessed with His salvation, we shall go to the Church triumphant, of which the Church militant is a type, and has a rich foretaste. When the Church of Christ is fully prepared, she will at last be presented to God without spot. The union begun on earth will be satisfied and avowed in the King’s palace in heaven. Then will it be shouted through the universe (Revelation 19:7). Then will there be a jubilee on earth; and then will the angels tune their golden harps to joyous hallelujahs in the heavens. The Church of God will then be complete; “she shall be brought unto the King in raiment of needlework,” etc. Then will angels rejoice; then will prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and saints in glory sing (Revelation 5:13). Surely the Church is an emblem of heaven; for all who are born in her “are come unto Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem” (Hebrews 12:22). The temple of God on earth and His temple in heaven are two parts of one glorious whole. They enjoy distinctions far above any earthly temple. Of our earthly Zion it is said (Isaiah 60:19). And thus it is also in the heavenly Zion (Revelation 21:23). It is but one family inhabiting both the one city and the other, even the family of our Lord Jesus Christ; and their employments are altogether the same; for whilst the one “are rejoicing in the Lord always” here below, the other are incessantly engaged in singing praises to Him above--even to “Him who loved them,” etc. (Revelation 1:5-6). (E. Striokland, M. A.)
The beauty of the King’s Daughter
It has happened sometimes that persons of royal birth have not known their high rank. It was so with the founders of the great empire of Rome. Through jealousy two young princes were exposed on the banks of a river. After going through a strange experience they were found by a shepherd, whose simple, homely wife brought them up in her cottage as her own sons. Not till they were grown up did they discover their royal origin, and then together they founded Rome. Like them, some of us have never dreamt that we were king’s daughters. Some smile incredulously at the very idea. But it is a fact that every one of us may be a king’s daughter (2 Corinthians 6:18; Romans 8:29; Matthew 12:50). Then what a comfort to remember that since we are the King’s daughters His wealth is ours. The King, our Father, has wonderful resources. There is one word of warning I would like to say. Many folk, when they are in trouble, say, “Oh yes, if I trust in God, it will be all right. I must trust Him; there’s no one else to trust to.” But they forget that if they want to claim God’s fatherly provision they must live as His daughters. Then, the King’s daughter is “all glorious within.” She is not a sham. Mere outside goodness is not enough. The mind must be cleansed from all evil imaginations, the affections withdrawn from all wrong objects. If we nurse and foster any heart sin we are dead to our high privilege as the King’s daughters, for they are all glorious within. You notice the clothing is of “wrought gold.” Trouble has been taken with it, it has been worked or wrought. And it is made of gold, it is durable, it will stand the testing fires. Let us take more trouble to make our garment of lifework durable and beautiful. And then the King’s daughter is to be brought “in raiment of needlework.” Day by day we are putting in the stitches. Every word, every act is a stitch making or marring the beauty of the whole. Those mistaken stitches can never be drawn out. Then take the marred work to the King now, by faith place it in His hands, tell Him just how you feel about it; and you will find that for the truly contrite soul filled with sorrow and regret for past failures the King has a marvellous fashion of beautifying spoilt work, and covering the ugly stitches with His own embroidery of love. And let us remember that beauty comes from “within.” Paint and powder do not make beauty. Health and goodness do. Made beautiful “within,” we shall be enabled to express the inner life in a consistent and beautiful outward life which may well be compared to wrought gold and embroidered work. (Anon.)
The King’s daughters
1. The bridegroom is Jesus Himself; Solomon is but His type. The Church that is without wrinkle or spot, or any such thing is the beautiful bride. She is possessed of all those graces of heart and mind as well as of person which would incline the king to rejoice in her beauty.
2. Not unsuited to this occasion are allusions to this beautiful psalm. Before us we see the virgins that should be the attendants of the bride of Christ, the king’s daughters who should be her honourable women. It is their vocation to do her honour, to lend additional though reflected lustre to her court. Whatever of beauty is theirs; whatever of grace and winning ways; whatever gives them influence or power in the Church or in the world--they are all the attributes that better qualify them for the duties of their high station. There may well be, there should be, gifts of gold, the fragrance of myrrh, aloes and cassia, beautiful forms and features, shining eyes, and ivory palaces at the marriage of the king’s son. They are, however, the accidents and not the essential attributes of the virgins who are worthy to wait upon the spouse of Christ; like her, they must be all glorious within. No age ever excelled that of Pericles in all the arts that give softness and refinement to life. Painting, sculpture, the genius of Phidias and Praxiteles, the pencil of Zeuxis; the temple of the virgin goddess, with its elegant proportions and its carved facade, even in ruins one of the wonders of the world; poetry, oratory--all illustrated it and adorned it. The splendour of its court has passed into a proverb. Aspasia presided over it, wonderful for her wit, and beauty, and grace, yea, for her wisdom and learning, the confidante and counsellor of statesmen and kings. Her intellect, as her person, had been cultivated to its utmost limit; in that respect she was the paragon of her sex. But what ago was more corrupt than that of Pericles? Aspasia herself, the education of her moral nature and of her heart neglected, was a wreck; as the poet says, “one of those shameless women who are the worst of men.” She was a splendid monument of what the unsanctified can be and do. Her clothing was of wrought gold, but she was not worthy to be a daughter of the King, for she was not all glorious within. No regard was paid to her complex being; her nature was distorted, and in the absence of virtue and religion she was not an unmeet prototype of many of the discrowned women of our own age. When you increase the capacity of the intellect and dwarf the moral nature, you produce not symmetry and grace, but spiritual deformity. There is in all true education a law of proportion; the mind, the heart, the body, must all be cultured if we would have a truly cultured man.
3. Therefore it is, O daughters of the Church! that we rejoice with you on this anniversary; therefore do we feel in the deep of our heart the munificence which has provided for you this sequestered and beautiful retreat, where learning is to be for over the handmaid of religion. Religion has made woman what she is. It has lifted her out of the slough of slavery and placed her upon a pedestal where she commands the admiration and love of the world; it has given her a potent influence in moulding its destiny. Deprive her of it, and she would fall back into the starless night whence she was so long emerging. Her clothing may be of wrought gold, she may be all covered with barbaric pearl; but only as she is a daughter of the King can she be all glorious within. (G. F. Cushman.)
The king’s daughter
Here are two aspects of the king’s daughter--the internal and the external; within all glorious, without covered with wrought gold--a magnificent congruity, a spiritual miracle of consistency. “Glorious,” not commonplace; separated from every other institution or mode of life by a dazzling, gleaming brightness above the shining of the sun. “All glorious”--not one shadow, not one indication of love of darkness. “All glorious” in doctrine, in conduct, in speech, in thought, in the innermost recesses of the heart--“all glorious within.” Why? Because of a conscious realization of the Divine presence. Have we made our preparation for the Chief of Guests? Has the housewife made no arrangement to receive her visitor with becoming care and distinction? Mystery of mysteries is this, that the mortal can talk with the Eternal; that the creature can commune with the Creator; that a life so low that presently it will be cut down and burned like grass in the oven can go right up to eternal Kingliness and say, Let us commune together concerning the mystery of being and the mystery of destiny, the mystery of conduct and the mystery of service; O Eternal King, let poor me talk with Thee a tong time! Out of this must come a growing solicitude to be transformed into the Divine likeness. What is the king’s daughter without? Look at her clothing; that will answer the inquiry--“Her clothing is of wrought gold.” The internal glory is proved by the external beauty. There is a clothing which we are called upon to admire--the clothing of the king’s daughter is of wrought gold: no dress can be too beautiful if it express a beautiful character. We are not to be too literal in our construction of these sentences--there is a transfiguring process of soul upon cloth, if you will have it so; there is a possibility that a carpenter’s raiment may become white and glistering. The internal light illumines the external robe. Here is a man who has been a long time in prayer; he comes down the hill as morning might come down the quickly illuminated mountain; speak to the man, and he wists not that his face doth shine. This is the beauty of heaven; this is not formal beauty; this is the light that springeth from within, which will be as beauteous in the morning as it is at night, in the winter as in the summer; how trying soever the circumstances through which the man may pass, he will throw a sacred radiance upon his whole condition, and make a space for himself by the power of wisdom. Sometimes we have seen a man surrounded by estates, and have felt that the man was greater than the property; we have said, What a soul” this man has! Listen to his thoughts, hear his conversation; presently he will rise into prayer, or utter himself in sacred song, or speak lovingly and redeemingly about the poor and those who have no helper; and then the environment falls away into its right perspective, and we say, Would God this man owned the whole world I for then the poor would be made to rejoice, and the sad of heart would know what a friend they had. If there is any disparity it should be on the spiritual side, so that we shall say concerning a man, however much he has, he ought to have more; he is a faithful steward, a generous administrator; appoint him the guardian of society. In the costume as described by the poet we have no contradiction, no irony, no sense of incongruity; we have a massive, simple, beautiful, beneficent consistency. What is the miracle that Jesus Christ wants to work? It is the miracle of congruity, the miracle of harmony, the miracle of music; it is to make us internally right that He may make us externally beautiful and noble. (J. Parker, D. D.)
Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children.
An intelligent grasp of this truth is fatal to pessimists, who go about the country crying failure in the Church and the final defeat of Israel. King Jesus and His bride are the objects of the prophecy. Unto them were born apostles whose successors are filling the whole earth with princes who have power with God and men.
I. Removals are implied--a thought too painful for publicity if treated in the absence of Christian promise. Did death end all, it would be sad indeed; but under the light of the Gospel death is translated into the realm of departure. By these removals we lose the friendships of time and staled alone waiting for new and untried friends. We lose the benefit of tried friendship so that life is a scene of unending and unanswered questioning. And yet we are confronted by this law in every department of fruit-bearing life. If we walk in nature’s garden we find the same law dismissing all that is beautiful and fruitful; when once the work is done the fruits appear and are crowded off to give place to others. The Christian removal is always enlargement of influence. Paul ministered to a few hundred while in the flesh, but on taking his departure, ministered to the nations of the earth with increasing influence age after age. But there is blessing to us who succeed them. It is necessary to the highest order of life that there be discipline in care and thought, not that a few think for the race, and work for all, but that all work, think, and feel responsible for results. Thank God, then, though Abraham died, his faith lives for others to exercise--if Elijah goes up, Elisha can part the Jordan. And when the fathers go, God is calling children to take their place.
II. Privilege of the children. Wave on wave roils in from the ocean world and breaks on the same rocks ignorant of their successor’s power. The baptism of summer glory finds the bare poles where last spring found them. It cannot retain the summer glory and meadow’s beauty. But it is our privilege to begin where the fathers retire, and from the outlook of centuries look out over the field before entering the fight. Ours to take the battle where the warfare of centuries has carried it and then on to victory, entering into the conquests of our fathers with the advantage of their experience. History records the wonders of the three hundred cavalrymen in the Theban army, who were always successful. They fought under a vow of eternal loyalty. They were known as “The Sacred Battalion,” the “Band of Lovers.” Has not the Church greater claims upon us as legatees?
III. Possibilities. “Princes in all the earth.” The gift of a child or convert is the gift of possibilities. “Mayest” implies attention, interest in, a work for the new-comer. If princes, we must study the child, his disposition, methods of thought, adaptations to different kinds of work. You can recall readily business firms, where the death of the head would close the house; not because there are no sons, but the sons have no knowledge of the father’s business. Do you not call to mind churches where ten deaths would close the church? For these ten have given all the money; another ten have done all the praying, all because no part is assigned the children, and they are ill-fitted to take up the work. Socrates once said, “Could I climb to the highest place in Athens, I would lift my voice and proclaim--Fellow citizens, why do ye turn and scrape every stone to gather wealth and take so little care of your children to whom one day you must relinquish it all?” If our children are to be princes they must have some part in the work, some responsibilities. Let all pray, give, do and plan, then all will have an interest and grow therein. (H. W. Bolton, D. D.)
Fathers and children
In our fathers we live in the past; in our children we live in the future. For what we are and for what we have we are indebted to the past; the future as it springs from us will take its shape from the mould of doctrine and life into which we deliver it. It will reflect our image as we reproduce the lineaments of our ancestry. It is true in life as it is true in science that progress starts from record. There are two lights that shine upon our path; there is the steady light of experience shining from behind, and there is the fitful splendour of genius flashing upon the prospect before us. Both kinds of irradiation are equally necessary; the one to assure us of the ground we have won, the other to beckon us on to new conquests; and while we eagerly welcome any revelation of what is to come, we must not treat with neglect or even irreverence the genius of the past. We have here a responsibility equally divided between those who bequeath an estate and those who inherit it. The character and value of the estate will depend on the fathers; the improvement of it will rest with the children. The wisdom of parents may make their offspring princes; the neglect or folly of parents may make them slaves. On the other hand, the disobedience and wickedness of children may prevent them from coming to honour, and pervert rank to infamy and wealth to penury. Between the estate and the heir lies the great problem of education. Shall we make what we possess meet for the inheritance of our children? We have principles, doctrines, facts, and institutions. These are a vast patrimony. We received them from our fathers; we are about to transmit them to our children. They are not strictly the same as when they first came into our possession; the minds of a generation have been engaged upon them; they have been tested by the new exigencies of current life--some of them not surviving the test have perished, others live on in new forms of application; others have received additions which have expanded their use; a few are absolutely unchangeable, the revelation of God in Christ, the supremacy of truth, the principle of righteousness extending from the person to the community, the responsibility of conduct, these and such-like verities are the regulating forces of progress; they preserve the generations of men from drift; they are unalterable and indestructible. To make these treasures meet for the inheritance of our children let us bring them into view; they are invested and surrounded by semblances, they are hidden beneath prejudices, their just value is traversed by the false estimates of custom and traditions: let us separate the false from the true, and make our children see them as they are. There are men who seek to guide the thought of the age who would separate righteousness from God and divide life from Christ. There is a doctrine in circulation that would degrade the mind of man to the animal limits; there is a conspiracy of licence against the purity of family life. There is a greed that makes no other reckoning than its own dividends; the happiness of families., the fruits of industry, the morality of trade, the simplicity and the rights of defenceless races--all must go to feed the rapacious lust of gain; and the nature of these monstrous errors, and the scandal and the hideousness of these crimes are concealed beneath the engaging raiment of fiction; they come into our homes dressed in the costume of civilization, and claiming even the sanctions of religion. It is a momentous question, How shall we guard our children from enemies which walk in darkness? We cannot organize a crusade against the literature we are now condemning. We must neutralize the poison of books by creating a new class of readers. We have power over the young. What an enormous responsibility is ours, as a nation, as Churches, as heads of families! We have in our hands the public opinion of the future. We have institutions in which the youth of these islands are taught to think, to choose the principles upon which the business of life should be carried on, and the faith which should be the rule of their conduct and the hope of their aspirations. A profounder saying never came from the lips of man than the dictum of Solomon, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” The lessons of wisdom, however attractively set and earnestly delivered, will be of small avail to the child unless they come to his mind with the authority of the great Power who is above us all. A child’s mind is in intimate sympathy with God. There is uppermost a religious nature during the years of childhood; the faith is without question, the fear without torments, the love without guile, and the imagination is quick to shape to itself the Father who is in heaven. Our Lord makes these qualities the cardinal conditions and signs of discipleship (Mark 10:15). And to take a child and induct him into the knowledge of life, of its duties and responsibilities, its dangers and its guards, its fellowships and the secrets of its success, without bringing God into it, without making Him the foundation of it all, anything more fatal to the morality, the greatness, nay to the existence of this nation I cannot conceive! Thank God for the conversion of a father or a child in a family circle, but we want to revolutionize the basis of family life. Enter the house of that working man; he will tell you that he joined a Band of Hope when he was a boy; that he grew up faithful to his pledge; that on the principles of that association he married, and is bringing up a family; that under his father’s roof there was no home; there never had been a home within his recollection, for his father was the victim of drink. Instead of the father, here is the son, himself a father, building up a family, and not dragging it down; ruling his children and training them in the fear of the Lord; a citizen, and not a pauper, contributing to the wealth of his country, and not a burden upon her rates. Imagine the influences radiating from a home like this; imagine many such homes in the same street, in the same town, in the same country; every home a centre of order, a pattern of sobriety, a model of industry, and an ornament of religion. (E. E. Jenkins, LL. D.)
Young men--the nation and the Church of the future
The strength of a chain is the strength of each link, and the character of society is taken from the character of the individuals that compose it; therefore, on you, as constituent elements of the Church and the nation of the future, there does lie a solemn responsibility.
I. If you would properly prepare yourselves for your future position, you must give yourselves now to the cultivation of personal piety. I place this at the foundation, because it is of supreme and permanent importance.
II. You must cultivate intelligence. Even now there are symptoms of the most unmistakable kind that a crisis in the history of divine truth is approaching, and we would have our young men gird themselves to meet it. We find them for the most part trifling their time away in pursuits which, at the best, are but an excuse for idleness; and among too many, everything that would lead to reflection, and stimulate to thought, is accounted dull and stupid. I want you to be thinkers as well as readers; nay, thinkers rather than readers; for the mental disease of the age is just literary indigestion. Thus conducting your studies, you will thoroughly furnish yourselves as men of God, and will be enabled to stand undaunted before all comers.
III. A third thing indispensably required, if you would meet the claims of the future on you, is courage. By this I mean moral courage; the heroism, not of the warrior, but of the man who has learned to run the gauntlet of ridicule and scorn, and to follow the leadings of duty in the face of every obstacle. The large proportion of the rising race are growing up in moral weakness. How few of them can meet temptation with a direct negative! Be strong then, and quit you like men. Never mind though you may seem to stand alone; he who has God on his side is always in a majority; and he is never alone who can say, the Father is with me. (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
The generations old and new
I. The connectedness of the generations. What we do for our children in respect of training, example and teaching is not wholly subject to their caprice. Through the strange bond which unites the generations they cannot altogether reject what is imparted any more than the ground can reject the seed cast into it. The thought that our labour and influence in rich effect may flow in the veins of the generation that comes after us removes the sadness of reflection upon the brevity of life. We may accept with cheerfulness the saying of Goethe: “A consciousness that our labour tends in some way to the lasting benefit of others makes the rolling years endurable.”
II. The relation of the young to the old. As the sun in his setting behind the western horizon ofttimes casts a wondrous purple glow over the east whence he arose, making the glory of the evening of richer beauty than the brilliance of the noon, so does the generation whose life declines behind the everlasting hills shed its glow upon the generation just arising, suffusing it with a glory not from itself. Our glory lies in the achievements of our fathers. What, then, ought to be the attitude of the young toward the old?
1. Reverence. This spirit lies at the root of all nobility, purity, and strength of character. The glory of the past is summed up in our elders. There is that in the old which calls for reverence.
(1) An old man is a book of life--an epitome of life’s experience. If one should come to us from the weird mystery of the Arctic regions, or from the dim twilight of the dense and tropical forest, with what awe we should regard him t He is a man who has seen strange sights which we have not seen, and partaken of experiences beyond our imagination. Such is the old man to the young one. He has heard life’s many voices, tasted its sweets and bitters, wrestled with its temptations, bowed under its sorrows, and discovered its illusions. He is a book of life, in which we ought to read with reverence.
(2) He is a book of God. The record of human life is also a Divine record. This is true of the life that is evil; it is much more true of the life of pure goodness. As the star catches the light from some other world, and sends it down to illumine other spheres, so the good man has caught in his life the light of God, and flings it forth to enlighten younger minds around him. As such a revealer of God the old man commands our reverence.
2. Patience. You touch the heirloom with very gentle hand. It stands for you as the treasury of many sacred traditions of family history. So should the old forms of religious teaching. We may not be able to subscribe to every form of teaching we received; but let us remember that what was handed down to us made a noble woman of our mother and a monument of integrity of our father. It may not have been wholly true; it, certainly was net wholly false, and therefore Cannot be dismissed with a smile. We ought to be careful in the transfer of truth from old forms into new. You cannot empty the ointment from one vase into another without risk of losing some drops of the precious liquid. So there is always risk in adapting truth to its newer shapes lest we should lose some of its spirit. The old forms change and decay; but the spirit of truth is eternal, and for its sake, lest it should flee from careless and unhallowed touch, we should be patient with its dying body.
3. Humility. Our fathers were great; they Who come after us will be greater. The revelation of God is a progressive unveiling. The pilgrim father with exultant insight said, “God has much more light to break from His holy Word.” The world will not always grow with such painful slowness. Moral and spiritual forces will doubtless gain impetus, and will bear our world more quickly to her divine end. Meantime it is for those who are young to toil humbly, recognizing the labours of their fathers, and thankful if they may, in their generation, but add a share to the work which shall fulfil the Divine will.
III. The relation of the old to the young. “Every grave is also a cradle, every death is also a birth. He who puts a bud beside every withered leaf places a child beside the old man and a young man in the sepulchre of his father.” In this way does God renew the life of the world. The attitude of the passing generation to the one succeeding it may be expressed under the same terms as the relationship we have already considered.
1. Reverence. It is most solemn to think of the germs of possibility that lie in the child: awful powers of good or evil lie enfolded within the little soul sent to dwell in our home for a while. Old men, having tasted the bitter disappointments of life, grow pessimistic, cold, cynical, and lose the clearness of their early visions. This can hardly be escaped; but let us be slow to impose these unhealthy influences on the fresh hopes of the young. The Church which checks the ardour of its young members by the half-cynical reminder of its illusions and failures, will thus put the frosty finger on the tender spring buds, and will doom them to die in an unnatural and wintry decay. For the hope of the world and of the Church, when the ancient blood is chilled and the pulse enfeebled, we must look to the strong pulse, the warm impulse, and the high hopes of youth. “Your young men shall see visions.”
2. Humility. Every generation passes away in disappointment. It has “not realized its hopes, nor done the work it desired to do. Yet it is hard to confess this, and before death to see the work pass into younger hands and younger shoulders assume the responsibilities that have been ours. Our wisdom ties in humility. (Anon.)
Children instead of fathers
We can understand, by taking up the attitude of the Jewish mind, how very much there was in such a promise to occasion delight; but to our modern ears there is not the same sort of delight in the benediction which speaks of posterity. We might almost be disposed to challenge the value of the promise. From the standpoint of home we go back, and our hearts are touched with tender memories. We remember that once venerable figure. We remember how, when we wore but children, he, forgetting the pressures and the anxieties of life, stooped to play with us in our infant hours. We recall how it was that wisdom allied with sympathy came to our aid, and how we found in him who bare the name of “father” a most venerable and trusted friend. And then we are told that we shall find in this cradle an adequate substitute for all that he was. Where is the benediction of such a change? And yet it is a blessing. We live under laws which are inevitable, invariable. The hour must come when we are obliged to accept the responsibility which the death of those who were dear has thrust upon us. Necessity, kindly nurse, stern mother, that cultivates human wit, that develops human character, forces us into situations where we are bound to become men. But it is not only in the order of the home that this prevails. It suggests to us that it is true in the order of the nation, of the community, and of the Church. There were fathers in Israel as well as fathers of our flesh--men who, in the days when we were young, and the first flush of our youthful enthusiasm was upon us, were hailed, as young life only knows how to hail, with an enthusiastic devotion and admiration. Can the cries of the cradle be an adequate substitute for the eloquent words which caused our hearts to burn? or shall we find in the unfurnished brain of the child anything like an adequate substitute and compensation for the well-furnished mind and the large sources of knowledge and learning which were ever consecrated to the welfare of the Church? And yet the very law of necessity which makes us see a benediction in the compulsion of work and gain in the responsibilities which are thrust upon, us, may well also remind us that the ways of God are always beneficent. Larger, stronger, more tender because more stern is that love which says, “Instead of thy fathers thou shalt have children.” Instead of waiting and watching for the words of leaders, you must be prepared to become leaders yourselves. And it is well for Churches as it is well for men, it is well for nations as it is well for individuals that these things should be; for in the order of God, as He works His great work, He changes His implements. He lays aside the stonemason when the stone is set, that the sculptor may begin to adorn the temple of God. Elisha must follow Elijah; Joshua must take the place of Moses; and if we are wise, we shall understand that men reared in a younger generation, acclimatized, so to speak, for the efforts and difficulties of war by the new surroundings of fresh and progressive education, are fitted to take the place of trust if only they will be faithful to their God. They have opportunities of discharging before God and His Church that service which is called for, and of achieving in their day and in their generation the deliverance of the Lord’s people. And thus from the standpoint, then, of the communities as well as from the standpoint of home this benediction is realized, “Instead of thy fathers thou shelf have children.” There is this principle, then, underlying. There is a benediction in responsibility; but responsibility may fail to bring us its blessing unless we are ready for it. As the blessing of peace only rested in the homes where the Son of Peace was found, so the benediction of responsibility only abides where the fit spirit awakes to meet it. And what spirit should this be? The answer is, that we must have the spirit of courage, the spirit of trust, the spirit of love. Mr.:Ruskin has said that that land is base where the children are always trying to be men, and the men are always trying to keep them children, and that land is noble in which the children are ready to remain children, and the men are helping them to become men. If the land is base in which the children desire to become men, and the men seek to keep them ever as children, is not that land, that Church, that community base in which the men fail in the reverence with which they should accept and in the courage with which they should meet responsibilities as they drop from the hand of Providence into theirs? What else should be our readiness? Faith. The bride who went forth, went forth with that leal courage which became her decision, went forth also with the faith that there was work for her to do. Her trust was to be seen in absolute forgetfulness of the father’s house--“Forget thy father’s house:” put it aside; your trust now must be, as your work must be, in the work of the home to which you are called. There must be faith--ah! who can measure it? “The past to be forgotten!” we say. This is just our difficulty. Does it mean that we are so to set aside what has gone as to gather from it no lessons, and receive from it no impulse, and to carry forward from it no authority? Oh, not so. There is a way in which the past must be remembered, because you are men of the past. In your blood there flows the blood of preceding generations. You cannot falsify your” heritage. With Churches and communities it is the same. You are born with a certain function and a certain destiny. In the Church it is the same. All the great heritage of the past, the noble traditions, the splendid freedom, and the venerable antiquity, the wondrous catholicity, and the strong loyalty to her Master’s words which has belonged to that Church in all ages, is part of our heritage, and we cannot refuse it. Accept it and live by the spirit of it. Translate its spirit into the action of to-day. The third spirit that we want for bearing this responsibility is love. “Forget also thine own people and thy father’s house.” Another’s name is signed upon you, and to the work of that other your life must be consecrated. What is wanted here for us--for all, by whatever name they may be called, in Church or State--first and most, and last and best of all, is that the spirit with which we undertake the responsibilities which fall upon us shall be the spirit of those whose lives are merged in His, so that it is no longer “I, but Christ that liveth in me.” (Bishop Boyd Carpenter.)
The perpetuity of the Church
One generation shall come and go after another, but still, like an evergreen tree, which in spite of the constant decay of some of its leaves always preserves its verdant hue, so the Church shall exist till the latest ages, ever growing older, and yet never losing its youth; its members constantly dying, itself perpetually alive. Or, to vary the figure, as when upon the battlefield the brave soldier falls, another stands forward to fill his place, and the line closes in and rushes on anew to conflict; so the battle of the Church with the world ever goes on, “bequeathed from bleeding sire to son,” and it shall never cease, until the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. Men may slay its members, but they cannot kill the Church; death may take them individually away, but he cannot destroy it, for it is like the Lord who found it, immortal and indestructible. (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
The responsibility of the young
It is in the power of the young of the land thus either to put back the shadow on the dial of the nation and of the Church by more than ten degrees, or to advance it in a like proportion. If they rise to their true and holy labour, if they meet worthily the claims of the age upon them, they will most assuredly do the latter; but if they lose sight of the solemn trust which is committed to their keeping, and waste their energies on trifles, they will as surely do the former. Men laughed at old Trebonius doing honour to his scholars when he entered school; but when at length Martin Luther rose up from among them to emancipate Europe from the bondage of the Papacy, the laugh was all upon his side; and it were well if the young men of our own day would do practical homage to their own future career, by preparing themselves for the honour which may be theirs if they will only worthily discharge the duties to which they are called. I am anxious that they should realize that they have the character of the Church and of the State to keep; and that each man of them should act as if the whole thing depended upon him. I desire that they should feel that they are to receive as a legacy the reputation and the labour of their fathers; and that they should educate themselves so that both shall be safe in their hands. Yea, I would charge it upon them as their guilt and crime, if in any degree the wheels of progress shall be retarded, or the labour of their fathers undone, in their day. If Britain’s glory wane, if the Church’s triumphs cease, young men of these days, the greater share of the blame must be yours. This responsibility is fixed upon you, and you cannot shake it off. (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
Whom thou mayest make princes in all the earth.--
How children become princes
I. The perpetuation of religious life. “Instead of thy fathers shall be thy children.” It is in a succession of godly families we see the channel along which the water of life flows in unfailing fulness and beauty. The children of parents who love the truth and honour God are likely to take and keep the features which distinguish the character of the parents. Godliness is not nearly so difficult to those who come into the world with blood and brain favourable to righteousness as it is to those who come into the world with blood and brain favourable to unrighteousness. But in addition to all that is gained by birth there is the influence of precept and example.
II. The dignity of religious life. “Whom thou mayest make princes.” The grandest man is he who has most of the spirit of Christ. When we bring together those who most faithfully reflect His character we have all that is choicest in the race. Nor is it in resemblance to Christ only that princely dignity is manifested. The graces and virtues of religion are often as stepping-stones to high positions in the Church and the world. How many there are, tradesmen, manufacturers, merchants, officers of government, who began life in hardship and poverty, and confess that it is the grace of God which has made them what they are. “He raiseth the poor out of the dust, that He may set him with princes.”
III. The diffusion of religious life. “Whom thou mayest make princes.” We have an almost literal fulfilment of these words in the history of our foreign possessions. The men who have laid the foundation of great Anglo-Saxon nationalities in different parts of the world have many of them been good men. When we think of the Pilgrim Fathers who sought in America the freedom to worship God which was denied in England; of the religious forces which have done so much to shape and enrich the grandly developing life of Canada and Australia; of the godly soldiers and civilians who have laboured for the enlightenment of India, we recognize the providence of God in sending to those wide tracts of earth “men with empires in their brains,” and who by their heroism, industry, and religion have caused the wilderness to become like the garden of the Lord. How pleasing also it is to think of those who have preached, and of those who are preaching, Christ in heathen lands, “Princes in all the earth.” Has not Coke still a princely power in Antigua and all its neighbouring isles; and John Hunt in Fiji; Carey in India and Moffatt in Africa? (Jabez Marrat.)
What sort of princes are those of Christ’s making?
I. They are princes born. “Born of water and of the Spirit.” There are two things, you see. Both are included in what is called “born again,” or “born from above.” John’s baptism and Christ’s baptism bring the two together in figure. Don’t separate the two parts; get rid of your sins, and begin new heavenly lives, and you are born again. Breathe the air, then, as princely creatures; Christ makes you “princes in the earth.”
II. They are princes by getting a royal education. It is a good thing in education to get a good school-book to learn from. It is better still to get a good teacher to teach from the good text-book. Now, Christ provides both things in the princely education which He gives to His own. This Book of God is in all Christ’s schools, and there are none of Christ’s princes made to do princely work here without it. The Holy Spirit is the teacher, and He is the most excellent teacher. What is the first quality in a teacher--I mean moral quality? Now, teachers are qualified for their work as they have a mother’s patience, a mother’s gentleness, a mother’s love. There is no teacher so gentle as the Holy. Spirit, none so patient, so full of love, as He.
III. They are princes by training in royal work. The proper end for which princes are being educated is to rule, to take care of others, and manage them; to order and guide subjects for their good. But the first subject that any Christian prince gets to rule is his own spirit. A person who cannot rule his spirit is compared to a city the walls of which are broken down, so that the wild beasts can run in at the breaches where they like. We are to rule ourselves by letting Christ rule us. Being His subjects, we are also His princes. Apart from the general idea of ruling, there are three kinds of work that princes made by Christ get to do. The first is prayer, the second is patience, the third is peace-making.
IV. They have a crown in prospect. All princes don’t come actually to be crowned with earthly crowns; but this is one of the fine things about Christ’s princes, they will all be crowned, and all wear their crowns in heaven. Some crowns are made of leaves, fading leaves, but this crown never withers. Some crowns are made of gold, and glitter and shine for a time, yet must perish at last; but this will shine for ever. (John Edmund, D. D.)
The unbroken line of true nobles
Our text begins with “Instead.” It is a sad word; it means we must lose some if others are to come in their stead. Would it not be pleasanter to keep the old workers? What a grand Old Guard the veterans would make. But no, they must go, and others must come instead. We are apt to think them very slow in coming, and too frequent is the fear that they who come will be but very poor substitutes for those who are gone. As Rehoboam for Solomon, etc. But the word “instead” has a note of gladness in it also. It means, that if we fall there is another to fill up the gap. And sometimes the change is for the better. As Samuel instead of Eli. Courage, our sons may be superior to ourselves. There is room for it, and let us hope they will be. Note in the text--
I. Its gracious recompense. Compare the psalm from which it is taken. The bride was commanded to forget her own people and her father’s house. But her loss shall be made up to her. And the law of our text holds good in reference to the separations caused by death in the midst of the Church. If good men are taken, the like will be given, perhaps better.
II. Its eminent fulfilment. All along, there have been changes, but in God’s garden, as in ours, plants of this year have been succeeded by those of the next.
III. Its happy encouragement. It says, “shall be.” “Lean on the Divine “shall.” Do not give way to distrust about the future, for Jesus lives and walks among the golden candlesticks, trimming all the lamps, and shining through them. We are not taking a leap into the dark; we are not “shooting Niagara”; we are marching into light.
IV. Its practical requirements.
1. If we stand instead of our fathers, what manner of persons ought we to be? See what noble men have been before us. Look back to your spiritual ancestry, your fathers after the spirit, your predecessors in the faith of the Lord Jesus. But shall we be craven sons of heroic sires?
2. If others are to come instead of us what are we doing for them? The Church ought to look to the tuition, the training and the culture of her children. It is said that Alexander gathered together his valiant army principally through training children from their very birth to the pursuits of war. These born soldiers grew up knowing of nothing, and caring for nothing but for Alexander, Macedon, and battle. Thus would we, by God’s grace, train our sons to live alone for Christ, His truth, and the souls whom He hath redeemed. Now, looking to my young friends, I would ask of them, Are you prepared to take your father’s place? Let none of you suppose that because you come of pious parents you will be saved. I stand amongst you like an officer in the midst of his troop, and as one and another falls, I bid you close up your ranks. May the text be true for us. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
I will make Thy name to be remembered in all generations; therefore shall the people praise Thee.
Christ’s unending praise
Man knows himself to be a flower, which cometh forth and is cut down; yet he wishes the fragrance of his memory, like a costly perfume, to be perpetuated when he himself shall be crumbled into dust. The celebrated painter of antiquity exclaimed, “I paint for eternity.” Human ambition always desires to do so. The father hopes to be remembered in his child, the author in his works, the hero in his triumphs, the statesman in his institutions, the legislator in his laws, the patriot in the benefits he has conferred upon his country. We should all love to have the prophecy of the text transferred to ourselves: “I will make Thy name to be remembered in all generations.” But what is the exceeding brief and transitory remembrance which man seeks from man on earth compared with the unfading honours which Christ attains as the Author and Finisher of faith, or compared with the permanence of those regards which Christ secures to Himself in the hearts of His redeemed people?
I. The import of the Saviour’s name. “His name.” In the Old Testament the name of God is employed as a comprehensive formula to express the manifested glory of His entire character and perfections; and the New Testament attributes the same importance and dignity to the name of Christ which the current style of the Old Testament does to the name of Jehovah. We are said to be baptized in His name, to believe in His name; in His name the remission of sins is to be preached among all nations. And He is said to have a name written which no man knew but Himself. The name of Christ comprehends, therefore, all He is, and all He is to us. And in reference to His mediatorial character and triumphs, He is said to have a name which is above every name. The names of majesty and greatness enumerated by Isaiah--the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, Wonderful Counsellor, Prince of Peace--were names which our Lord possessed by right of nature as an equal sharer with the Eternal Father in the glories of Godhead; but His name Jesus He acquired by purchase, by conquest, by death. It cost Him life. As, therefore, Jacob preferred his name Israel before his former name of Jacob, because he acquired it as a memorial of victory, so our Lord may be considered as valuing the name of Jesus, the Saviour, from the suffering it commemorates, the triumph it records, and the love it implies, Certain it is, that by this designation He emphatically makes Himself known from the highest heaven. Thus He addressed Himself to Saul the persecutor on his way to Damascus, and to John in the Apocalypse.
II. Some of those grounds on which we are encouraged to anticipate the permanent and enduring influence of the name and religion of Christ.
1. From the fact that the dominion of Christ possesses all the elements of perpetuity, being founded on essential truth, and rectitude, and goodness. This is strongly intimated in the connection of the text: “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” Why? “The sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou Lovest righteousness,” etc. The Jewish writers have a proverb that “falsehood has no feet,” and it is certain that in the great cycle of human affair’s nothing is durable but truth. In the character and grace of Christ you have the pledge of the permanence of His religion and the perpetuity of His name. For power, He has all power in heaven and on earth. For wisdom in Him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge. For love, His love passeth knowledge. For truth and faithfulness, heaven and earth shall pass away; but not one jot nor tittle of His Word shall fail. He awes monarchs on their thrones, and yet welcomes childhood to His embrace, and says, “Suffer little children to come unto Me.”
2. From the fact that no substitute can be found in the entire universe for the Saviour’s grace and salvation.
3. From the history and progress of this religion in ages past, which, though it has always been opposed, has always surmounted opposition, and nerved its friends with energy to uphold its interests. The past is in this respect the pledge of the future. The same principles which rendered Christianity triumphant at first can, and will, make it triumphant to the end; since we can scarcely conceive of tests more severe than those to which it has been subjected, of enemies more powerful than those it has overcome, or of conflicts more appalling than those which it has already surmounted. (Homiletic Magazine.)
Christ’s renown everlasting
By the “name” of the Son we may understand everything whereby He is made known; especially, however, those amiable and gracious designations which are given to Him in the Bible. This name is “remembered” when it is known, believed in, and kept in mind as important and interesting. Now, according to the promise, it shall be thus respected, not merely for a short time, but in every age, “to all generations.” Men shall be raised up, and that means shall be employed to perpetuate his fame; and that, in spite of every attempt to bury Christ’s honour, God, by His Almighty power, will actually and eternally make His praise glorious.
I. The name of God’s son.
1. Immanuel--“God with us.” But He is not only God, but God “with us.” From eternity the Son of God appeared on our side. When the fulness of the time had come, He was manifested in our nature.
2. Jesus--“He shall save His people from their sins.”
II. The import of Christ’s name being remembered to all generations. This implies--
1. That in all ages men shall know His name. “The Son of God hath come, and hath given them an understanding that they may know Him that is true.” What is the consequence? They discern Christ to be singularly excellent in His person, and every way suitable in His offices. “We believe, and are sure,” is their language, “that Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.”
2. That in all ages men shall trust in His name. Is His gracious character revealed in the Gospel? He that remembers it perceives in Him ability and willingness to help. Hence, in the exercise itself of remembering, he appropriates the son of God to himself. Viewing Him as Immanuel, he exclaims, “My Lord and my God.” Regarding Him as Jesus, he cries, “The Lord is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.”
3. That in all ages men shall meditate on Christ’s name.
III. The means by which God makes Christ’s name to be remembered.
1. God preserves the Scriptures in which the name of Christ is recorded.
2. God raises up ministers by whom the name of Christ is published.
3. He continues the sacraments by which the name of Jesus is exhibited. In each of these Christ crucified is evidently set before us.
4. He sends the Spirit by which the name of Christ is impressed upon human hearts. All other means may, and often do, prove ineffectual in securing the remembrance of Christ’s name. But here is a means which is, and must always be, successful.
IV. The certainty of this matter.
1. The condition of men renders such remembrance of the name of Christ desirable. “There is none other name,” etc.
2. The perfections of God make the continued remembrance of Christ’s name possible. What are all difficulties, all opposition before Him?
3. The experience of past ages renders it probable that Christ shall still be remembered.
4. The covenant of promise makes it certain that Christ’s name shall be remembered. (E. Brown.)
The spiritual seed of Christ praising their heavenly Father
I. Christ’s name.
1. We find Him called “the mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6).
2. His name is “Immanuel,” that is, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). God in our nature, God on our side.
3. We find Him called “the Messiah.”
4. Another name whereby He is called is “Jesus,” a Saviour.
5. Another name whereby our glorious surety is designed is, “the Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6).
II. Some things imported in the promise.
1. That it is no easy matter to keep up the remembrance of Christ’s name in a sinful world. To do it is a work that God hath taken into His own hand in an eminent manner.
2. That Christ’s name is very dear and precious to God the Father.
3. The maintenance and preservation of all the means of Divine appointment for keeping up the remembrance of Christ’s name.
(1) That God will have a professing and confessing Church, in one place or other of the world, in all generations.
(2) Thai the Scriptures shall be preserved in all generations.
(3) That the glorious Gospel shall be preached in all generations.
(4) That the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper shall be administered in all generations.
III. As Christ’s name shall be remembered in all generations, so there shall be a people praising him for ever and ever.
1. Mention a few things whirls we take to be supposed in a person or people their praising Christ.
(1). We think this exercise of praising Christ supposes saving acquaintance with Him. Those only are in case to praise Christ to whom He hath manifested forth His glory and given the spiritual eye to behold it.
(2) The promise that Christ shall be praised in all generations supposes that there shall be some inspired with true love to Him in every generation.
(3) The exercise of giving praise and thanks to Christ supposes a humble and thankful frame of spirit.
2. That there shall lie a people praising Christ for ever and over. This truth will appear--
(1) When it is considered that Jehovah the Father hath engaged Himself, by promise to Christ, theft He shall still be praised (Isaiah 53:11; Psalms 22:30-31).
(2) When we consider that the great and leading design of Christ in the whole work of redemption and salvation is to bring in a revenue of praise to the crown of heaven.
IV. The grounds and reasons for which there shall be a people praising Christ for ever and ever.
1. On account of His own personal dignity, worth and excellency.
2. On account of what He has done for them (Revelation 5:9).
3. For what He is and ever will continue to be unto them.
(1) Hence, see the sinfulness, folly and vanity of every endeavour to blot out the remembrance of Christ’s name.
(2) We may see what is the duty of all who would evidence themselves to be really the friends of Christ. Do you then ask, after what manner shall we, who are in a private station, contribute our share to the keeping up of the remembrance of Christ’s name? You are to contribute to the keeping up the remembrance of Christ’s name by making an open and explicit acknowledgment of all His truths before the world when you have a call in providence to do it. You are to make conscience of observing the worship of God in your families. You are to contribute your share to the keeping up of the remembrance of Christ’s name in the world by a holy and circumspect walk and conversation.
2. Exhortation. (T. Bennet.)