Page images

his kingly power and dominion for "he is a high priest upon his throne," after the order and similitude of Melchisedec, Psalm xe. Heb. vii. The "first-born of the dead" also holds him forth to our believing view, as the pattern, pledge, and first-fruits of the resurrection of his people-" for now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first-fruits of them that sleep." 1 Cor. xv. 20.

3. He is the Prince of the Kings of the earth. These words evidently denote his regal character, and his supreme authority and dominion as 66 King of kings, and Lord of lords." Rev. xvii. 14, and xix. 16. There is a reference in them to the second Psalm, where the kings of the earth are admonished to be subject to him lest he be angry, ver. 6-12. compared with Rev. ii. 27. ch. xix. 15, 16. Christ's kingly power is more extensive than his priestly. The latter extends only to his own people, but the former, over all the kings and potentates of the earth, to over-rule, restrain, and subdue them at his pleasure; rendering them subservient to the interests of his kingdom, until the end shall come, when he will put down all rule and all authority and power; and every enemy shall be made his footstool. 1 Cor. xv. 24-28. for the Father hath given all things into his hands, John iii. 35. But not only hath he power over the kings of the earth-for all power is given unto him both in earth and heaven, See Matt. xxviii. 18. Eph. i. 20-23. Phil. ii. 8-11. Heb. ii. 7-9. hence in repeating this title, he is called "the beginning," or chief, "of the creation of God," eh. iii. 14. and in Col. i. 15. "the first-born," or supreme Lord, "of every creature." All these sublime epithets, therefore, lay a sure foundation for the most unbounded trust and confidence in him to his people. 2 Tim. i. 12. And thus we learn

how Christ is the source of grace and peace to his church. As a prophet, he is full of grace and truth, John i. 16, 17. As a priest, we have access to God through him for mercy to pardon and grace to help in time of need, Heb. iv. 16. As a King he dispenses grace and peace to all his subjects. Is. ix. 6, 7.

Let us next consider what he has done for us answerable to these characters that are ascribed to him.

1. He hath loved us. The redemption of sinners is often ascribed to the love of the divine Father. See John iii. 16. Rom. v. 8. 1 John iv. 9, 10. This indeed is the grand source and spring of all the blessings of salvation. But it is also ascribed to the love of the Son, who voluntarily undertook the work of redemption, in obedience to his heavenly Father, and from love to the children whom God had given him. See John xiii. 34. Rom. viii. 35, 37. Gal. iii. 20. Eph. iii. 19. ch. v. This was indeed amazing and unparalleled love, whether we consider the objects of it, or the way in which it was manifested. Rom. v. 6-10.



As the effect of this

2. He washed us from our sins in his own blood. We were sinners, and in a state of rebellion against God, consequently liable to everlasting punishment. To deliver us from this awful state, Jesus suffered on our account and in our stead; he gave his life and shed his own precious blood for the remission of our sins, and so cancelled our obligation to punishment by bearing it himself, and thus procured for us pardon and acceptance with God. His blood, as the blood of sacrifice cleanseth from all sin, n the way of expiation and atonement, 1 John i. 7. for it is the blood which maketh the atonement. When Christ's blood was shed, the fountain was opened for sin and uncleanness;

but when through grace we believe in him, we are actually washed from our sins, both as to their guilt and power; we have our consciences purified, and enjoy peace with God, Rom. v. 1. Heb. ix. 14. His blood is also represented as a ransom-price, buying us off, or redeeming us, from the curse, Gal. iii. 13. from this present world, ch. i. 14. from all iniquity, Tit. ii. 14. and purifying unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. And so the redeemed company ascribe worthiness to the Lamb on this ground," for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation." ch. v. 9.

3. He hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father. In the song of the redeemed it is, "And hast made us unto our God, kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth, ch. v. 16. He has not only redeemed us from wrath, but he hath advanced us to the most honourable and dignified relations to God in connection with himself. As believers are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, Gal. iii. 26. 1 John iii. 1. so are they heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, Rom. viii. 17. Gal. iv. 7. The whole church of the redeemed, are a church of first-born ones. Heb. xii. 23. as ancient Israel are denominated in a typical sense God's first born, Exod. iv. 22. and so like them a kingdom of priests, Ex. xix. 6. or a royal priesthood, 1 Pet: ii. 9. which is the same with kings and priests, having the dignity of God's first-born. All the children of God are raised to royal honours on their becoming sons and daughters of such a Father; they are heirs of the kingdom which he hath prepared, and shall inherit all things. They are consecrated priests unto God," having access into the holiest of all, to offer up


spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ, 1 Pet. ii. 5. Heb. xiii. 15, 16. They are kings and priests even while in this world, just as they are sons and heirs, though it does not yet appear what they shall be, when they shall appear with Christ in glory, and obtain the crown and kingdom.

4. He comes with clouds to put them in possession of the inheritance, and punish all his adversaries who have oppressed his people. He now rules in the midst of his enemies; his kingdom is but as a bruised reed and smoking flax; and the subjects of it are called patiently to bear the hatred of the world that lies in the wicked one. But when all his elect are gathered in, "they shall see the Son of man, coming in the clouds of heaven with power great glory and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn." Matt. xxiv. 30. Every eye shall see him


for the dead that are in their graves shall come forth, at the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God-they shall awake, some to everlasting life, and others to shame and everlasting contempt. Dan. xii. 2. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence; a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round

[ocr errors]

about him; He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth that he may judge his people: Gather my saints together, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice;' and the heavens shall declare his righteousness, for God is judge himself." Ps. 1. 3-6. Then will he reward every one according to their works-those who have continued patient in well-doing shall receive glory, honour, and immortality, even eternal life; but tribulation and wrath, indignation and anguish, on every soul of man that worketh evil, whether Jew or Gentile. Rom. ii. 6—16.

[ocr errors]

We come now, in the third and last place to notice, the glory and dominion," that are conferred upon Christ, on account of the work of redemption which he hath accomplished, and the grateful ascriptions of it which are due from


saints in a still more eminent degree, and admired in all them that believe. AMEN.



Blessed is he that considereth the poor.

Psalm xli. 1.

IT is generally understood that this Psalm was composed by David when in a state of affliction, or on his being recently recovered from sickness, during which he had experienced both the sincere sympathy of his friends, and the hypocritical professions of his enemies, who, while they pretended great solicitude about his welfare, secretly wished his death, and at

1. God hath conferred upon him the highest glory and honour as the reward of his obedience unto death. Phil. ii. 8-11. Heb. ii. 7-9. Now he is crowned with ineffable blessedness, and invested with universal power and dominion over all created beingsangels, men, and devils, with a special view to the interests of his church, John xvii. 2. Eph. i. 21, 22, Thus his worthiness, or merit, on the one hand, and his Father's infinite delight in him on the other, is manifested in the highest possi-tributed his distress to his guilt, ble degree. In virtue of his See ver. 5-10. And as David original dignity, as God over all was a type of the Messiah, so we and blessed for ever, it was no find the 10th verse appplied to the robbery in him to claim equality treachery of Judas Iscariot, John with God; but his love to his xiii. 18. heavenly Father, and his good-will to men prompted him to become, for a little while, lower than his angels for the sufferings of death; and the glory to which he is exalted is the reward of his voluntary humility and obedience, while, at the same time, the latter was necessary to bring many sons unto glory. Heb. ii. 10. 2. The most profound and un-poor, that is, in a manner suitable reserved acknowledgment, and the to their state and condition. And most grateful ascriptions of this hence the Chaldee thus paraglory and dominion, are due to phrases the words, "Blessed is he him from all his redeemed people. who attendeth to the affairs of the They cannot, indeed, confer glory poor, to have pity on them." The and honour upon him; but they word (Dal), rendered poor, signican confess his worthiness of it; fies one who is emaciated, wasted, they can with joy, gratitude, and or exhausted, and will apply either adoration ascribe it unto him; and to a person's means of subsistence, they can triumphantly acquiesce or to his person, and in the latter in all the honour and dominion acceptation it implies a state of that has been conferred upon him, sickness, or disease; and so, in the and earnestly wish that he may be margin of our Bibles it is rendered still higher honoured in the final "the weak, or sick." subjection of all his enemies, when he shall be glorified in his


In opposition to this deceitful and wicked conduct, the inspired penman begins the Psalm with pronouncing the aphorism which forms our text; "Blessed is he that considereth the poor.” The word translated considereth, is variously rendered in scripture. It signifies to behave discreetly, or with judgment and prudence, towards the

But the words are not be res tricted to the case of the Psalmist


They declare a truth of general below mediocrity, may be deno

application, viz. the blessedness of the man who considereth the poor; in which view we shall take them up and attempt an improvement of them, by illustrating the three following particulars, which are evidently contained in them. A class of mankind who are denominated the poor-A duty which we owe them; that is, to consider them--And the happiness connected with the proper discharge of that duty for such are pronounced blessed.

minated the poor: yet among these there are various classes. Some are absolutely poor, depending entirely on the beneficence of others. Next, above these, are the labouring poor, who by diligent and constant exertions at useful employments, are barely able to procure daily subsistence for themselves and families. These form a most useful and necessary part of the community: they constitute the operative members of the body; and while they contribute to the 1. We have in the words of the comforts, and even to the luxuries text, a class of mankind who are of others, can procure for themcharacterised as the poor. It has selves, from day to day, only the been already noticed that this term bare necessaries of life. Yet if will apply both to penury of cir- such persons, by their industry, cumstances, and to bodily distress, can procure necessary food and and we shall therefore take it in raiment, they ought not only to be "A man's both these views. The circum-content but thankful. stances of men in this world are life," that is, "his happiness, wonderfully diversified. The all-" consisteth not in the abundance wise and infinitely blessed God of the things which he possesshath displayed his sovereignty by eth." God hath distributed hapthe different manner in which he piness among his creatures much has disposed the lot of his crea- more equally than we are apt to tures in this life. By creation, in- imagine. deed, we are all equal in nature; but in the dispensations of his providence, our situations in life are very different. Some, in their rank and circumstances are high, others are low; some rich, others poor; Happiness consists chiefly in and in each of these conditions the state of the mind; and it has there are various gradations from been wisely remarked, that he is the beggar on the dunghill to the the richest man who has the fewmonarch on the throne. When est wants. If a person's mind be each class discharges the duties brought to his circumstances, so of their respective station, and the as to be content with food and rairelations that result from the con-ment, his wants will be few and dition in which Providence has easily supplied; whereas the worldplaced them, the happiness of so-ly lusts of covetousness, sensualiciety is promoted; and, taking the subject in this view, the body politic may be compared to the natural body, where the least honourable members are necessary for the good of the whole, so that the eye cannot say to the hand, nor the head to the feet, I have no need of you, I Cor. xii. 21.

All whose circumstances are

"Order is heaven's first law; and this confest, Some are, and must be, greater than the rest;

More rich, more wise: but who infers from thence,

That such are happier, shocks all common sense."

ty, pride, and ambition, create innumerable artificial wants, which make men unhappy in the midst of plenty. Were this duly attended to, the poor would not envy the rich, but he content with such things as they have.

2. While the industrious poor can find employment, and have health to prosecute their daily labour,

poor and destitute, arises, not so much from covetousness, or selfishness, as from a want of a due consideration of their actual state and condition.

2. The duty implied in the text, includes in it, our sympathizing with and consoling them under their distresses. Many have it not in their power to contribute much for the relief of the destitute; but all can shew their affectionate concern and tender sympathy with them; and when this is properly expressed, it is a wonderful alleviation of a state of suffering. Those that have been ex

they seldom fail to procure the necessaries of life for themselves and families. But experience, and daily observation, sufficiently attest the fact, that a state of things may arise in which the former shall not be possible; while, on the other hand, in the Providence of God, they may be deprived of health, and confined to beds of languishing and sickness. In either of these instances, and more especially when both are united, their case calls aloud for the exercise of bowels of compassion towards them. They are at once cut off from every visible resource, and must immediately feel the ac-ercised with affliction in their own cumulated pressure of penury, dis- persons or families, must know tress of body, and anxiety of mind, this from experience. They need without having it in their power not be told how sensible has been to do any thing for their own re- the relief conveyed by a few tender lief, or that of their families. The expressions of sympathy, dropped case now supposed is pointed out from the lips of one whom they in the words of the Psalmist, and respect and love; and what influsuch, alas! is in reality the case ence they have had in assuaging with thousands of our fellow-crea- the anguish of a troubled mind, tures in the present day; for, on calling into exercise their submiswhich side can we turn our eyes, sion, and patience, and resignaand not contemplate innumerable tion, to the divine will; and enmelancholy instances of it. Let couraging them to bear up under us, then, attend to the duty in- their present sufferings. How cumbent on us in relation to such often has the drooping spirits of a case; "Blessed is he that con- many a martyr been cheered and sidereth the poor," or the sick and animated by a few kind words destitute. This duty implies, from a christian friend, assuring them that their affecting situation was neither overlooked nor neglected by their friends, but that they tenderly sympathised with

and participated in all their sorrows! The very expression of such bowels of compassion, has armed them with fresh courage for the conflict, and they have been enabled to march boldly to the stake, or to lay their necks composedly on the block.-" BE PITIFUL."

1. A suitable consideration of their case and circumstances. We ought to consider the extent of their wants, the nature of their affiction, the number of their de-them, bare them upon their hearts, pendents, their destitute situation in respect of friends and relatives who are either able or willing to assist them; and having thus entered into the case, we ought, as it were, to make it our own, and then put the question to our minds, "what should we wish others to do to ourselves were we in such a case?" and so make that, according to our ability, the rule of our conduct to them. Much of that un- much said in the present day feeling disposition, and cold neg-about good works; but it ought to lect which is shewn towards the be carefully regarded by every

3. This duty implies the contributing of our substance to the supply of their wants. There is

« PreviousContinue »