« PreviousContinue »
one, and the most matured, monument of his pen. This work cost him ten years' labour, and was finished three years before his death. The translation of it will occupy about five volumes.
Though the Translator, therefore, ceases publishing his Translation any farther, for the present; yet, he designs still to go on with that employment privately, (if time shall be set apart for the purpose,) until he shall have completed the whole of the above remains of Luther. And at some period in the next year, (if nothing unforeseen prevent,) he purposes to bring forth the 90th and 45th Psalms, and the Manual on the Book of Psalms; forming one volume octavo, to match the volumes already published; or, perhaps, the Manual only, in a small book by itself, comprising about three numbers, or, the Exposition of Daniel separately, comprising about three numbers: and when those works shall appear, either in numbers, or in one volume, he will make farther mention of the Commentary on the Book of Genesis.
Under these circumstances, therefore, the Friends of the present Publication may either withdraw their names, as Subscribers, bow, and renew them at a future period, (if they shall be so disposed,) or continue them until the proposed works
PELRUARY 1, 1826.
Concerning this eight-chorded harp we have spoken at sufficient length under Psalm vi. we shall therefore proceed with the text.
Ver. 1.—Save me, O Lord, for the saint faileth, for truths are diminished from the sons of men.
It is angry love that speaks in this Psalm : which we call, zeal for God: even as the Apostle also, 2 Cor. xi. 2, speaking with the same feelings says, “ I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy.” For he is speaking against those who are set over the ministry of the Word among the people of God, and who are teaching their own words to the great destruction of souls, instead of the Word of God; thus abusing their power of teaching, and corrupting the pure and sincere doctrine of the divine law. Such as these also David had to bear with in his time, and he foresaw that there would be others of the same kind at the time of the coming of Christ : against these characters Christ inveighs, Matt. xxiii. saying, “Woe unto you, scribes and pharisees, hypocrites ! for
ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men : for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” And again, Luke xi. 52, “ Woe unto you lawyers ! for ye have taken away the key of
knowledge, (that is, the power of teaching :) ye enter not in yourselves and them that were entering in ye hindered.”
Whence it is manifest, that this Psalm does not treat of heretics nor of persecutors : unless we consider them as the heretics who catch souls by ceremonies and particular works of their own invention, neglecting all the while, faith in God, which ought to be taught at the same time. And of this sort there are many at the present day, and will be still more if the world shall remain, such as our theologians, our lawyers, our religious ones, our popes; who are destroyed themselves, and destroy others
human science and traditions ; that is, by their speculations and their moral works. Nor is the prophet thus indignant alone because these teachers are the most vile, but because they are so many, nay, are almost the only teachers there are to be found; so much so, that there is scarely any one left who teaches what is right. Whereby it is shewn, that the Psalm itself has reference to some most corrupt age, such as that in the time of Christ, and such as that in which we now live.
Hence it is, that David begins with so much zeal, saying, “Save me, O Lord, for the saint faileth.” he said in the words of Micah vii. 1-4, “Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grape-gleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the first ripe fruit. The good man is perished out of the earth, and there is none upright among men; they all lie in wait for blood : they hunt every man his brother with a net.
That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man he uttereth his mischievous desire : so they wrap
up. The best of them is a brier, the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge.
In which words, the prophet not only expresses the same feelings as those which are evinced in this Psalm, but also attacks their external show under which they hide all these evils, and wish them to appear good : for the whole is spoken in the spirit, and therefore can be
understood by faith only. For many are called merciful men, that is, saints, or men of grace, and men of mercy, when they are not so: but a faithful man, that is, a man just and merciful by faith, who can find ? For this external appearance reigns so universally, and this water of the counsel of the wicked is so deep, and their thoughts so profound, that none but a wise man can fathom them : that is, none but the truly just can discern them : all others are deceived by their external appearance, their multitude, and their magnitude. And this destruction of the multitude greatly grieved the spirit of this prophet: which is the reason why he thus breaks out, (without any kind of preface, or any thing to gain the attention of the reader previously,) and entreats God for the salvation of the people.
The Hebrew has only hosia; that is “save," or give salvation ;” not“ save me.” And the expression save,” or “give salvation,” is much more forcible than
save me.” Thus the prophet, filled with ardent zeal on account of the people who are perishing, breaks out without any preface, into an earnest and fervent prayer, imploring help of God.
“ Saint” in this place is hasid, which word Hieronymus translated, Psalm iv. 'merciful.' The Lord hath made wonderful his merciful one;' that is, ‘him who has obtained mercy,'or, who is justified by the grace of God, who is saved by faith ; and not by his own works or strength, nor by those of any other men.
- Truths are diminished from the sons of men :" that is,'truths are not to be found among men; that is, fidelity or faithfulness is not to be found. For the Hebrew language can say, “there are not faiths in men,' and also, God is our saving :' where we say the God of our salvation,' and there is no more faith among men :' according to the common saying of the ancients, • No trust can be placed any where.' But we can never use “truth' in the plural number. These things I say, that no one might understand that it is said that truths are perished “from’ or by' the sons, as if the sons of men had diminished the truths; though this also is true.
6 But they should know that the preposition from,' or * by' (a) ought to have been rendered among,' or 'from among,' or 'out of,' (inter, or de, or er,) that the sense might be the same as that of Isaiah lvii. 1, 2, “The righteous perisheth and no man layeth it to heart.; and merciful men are taken away and none considereth: for the righhteous is taken away from the face of iniquity. And according to that also which we adduced from Micah vii. 2, “The good man is perished out of the earth,” &c. For David wishes to say, that there is no longer faith among men, (which is what the Hebrews understand by the term 'truth,') and that the men who are justified by faith have ceased : but that, self-justifying hypocrites, who destroy both themselves and others by their own strength, their own works, their own laws, and their own merits, under the great name and show of salvation, abounded every where.
The powerful feeling of the Psalmist here leads him to an hyperbole, or strained mode of expression. There never is a time when there are no saints upon earth, and no believers in Christ: and yet he says, ' The saint has ceased and the just are at an end, and those who please God are no
more.' But in this figurative language we all complain at this day; saying, that there is no faithfulness among men, and that all things are carried on by deceit. And this unbelief is a proof and an argument of the internal fidelity or faithfulness being extinguished : and thus the tree is known by its fruits. For he that is faithful to God, is faithful also to man : for without faith and the grace of God, it is impossible but a man will seek those things which are his own; that is, he will be unfaithful unto man also. And hence, when Micah vii. had said “ there is none upright among men,” he immediately afterwards sets forth the fruits of this bad tree, saying, "Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide, keep the door of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughterin-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies are those of his own house." Yet, though the wicked are