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by both together. Upon the whole, it is hoped, that the design of each Psalm hath been sufficiently discovered, to explain and apply it, for the instruction and comfort of believers.
The result of such critical inquiries as were found necessary to be made, is given in as few words as possible ; often only by inserting into a verse, or subjoining to it, that sense of a word, or phrase, which seemed upon mature deliberation to be the best; as it was deemed improper to clog, with prolix disquisitions of this kind, a work intended for general use. The reader will, however, reap the benefit of many such, which have been carefully consulted for him. And he will not, it is presumed, have reason to complain, that any verse is passed over without a tolerable consistent interpretation, and some useful improvement. Where the literal sense was plain, it is noticed only so far as was necessary to make an application, or form a reflection. Where there appeared any obscurity or difficulty, recourse was had to the best critics, and that solution, which seemed the most satisfactory, given in the concicest manner. Much labour hath here been bestowed, where little appears. The plan of every Psalm hath been attentively studied, with the connexion and dependence of its parts, which it is the design of the Argument to exhibit at one view, and of the Commentary to pursue and explain from beginning to end *
No person is more thoroughly sensible than the author is, of the respect and gratitude due from all lovers of the sacred writings, to those who have laboured in the field of literal criticism: great and illustrious characters, whose names will be had by the church in everlasting remembrance ! All, who desire to understand the Scriptures, must enter into their labours, and make the proper advantage of them, as he himself hath endeavoured to do. But let us also bear in mind, that all is not done when this is done. A work of the utmost importance still remains, which it is the business of Theology tito undertake and execute; since, with respect to the Old Testament, and the Psalter more especially ija person may attain a critical and grammatical knowledge of them, and yet continue a Jew, with a veil upon his heart; an utter stranger to that sense of the
* Nos Lectoris pium hunc laborem adjuvandum suscepimus : dum constitutis argumentis scopum attentioni figimus : dum scrutarum literam, et ex sacrå historia, quantum possumus, omnia repetimus; dum annotamus quæ pietatem inflamment; alia eo exemplo qærenda indicamus. Bossuet. Dissertat. in Psal. cap. vii. : + Theologiæ insignis hic usus est, ut, verborum sensu exposi. to, REM intelligas. ELSNER. Præfat. ad Observat. Sacra da
holy books, evidently intended, in such a variety of instances, to bear a testimony to the Saviour of the world ; that sense, which is styled, by divines, the PROPHETICAL, EVANGELICAL, MYSTICAL, or SPIRITUAL
As it is one great design of the following work to investigate that sense in many of the Psalms, this is the proper place to lay before the reader those grounds and reasons upon which such investigation has been made.
That the spiritual interpretation of the Scripture, like all other good things, is liable to abuse, and that it hath been actually abused, both in ancient and modern days, cannot be denied. He who shall go about to apply, in this way, any passage, before he hath attained its literal meaning, may say what in itself is pious and true, but foreign to the text from which he endeavoureth to deduce it. St. Jerome, it is well known, when grown older and wiser, lamented, that, in the fervours of a youthful fancy, he had spiritualized the prophecy of Obadiah, before he understood it. And it must be allowed that a due attention to the occasion and scope of the Psalms, would have pared off many unseemly excrescences, which now deform the commentaries of St. Augustin, and other Fathers, upon them. But these, and other concessions of the same kind, being made, as they are made very freely, “men of sense
" will consider, that a principle is not therefore to “ be rejected, because it has been abused * ;" since human errors can never invalidate the truths of God.
It may not be amiss, therefore, to run through the Psalter, and point out some of the more remarkable passages, which are cited from thence by our Lord and his apostles, and applied to matters evangelical.
No sooner have we opened the book, than the second Psalm presenteth itself, to all appearance, as an inauguration hymn, composed by David, the anointed of Jehovah, when by him crowned with victory, and placed triumphant on the sacred hill of Sion. But let us turn to Acts iv. 25. and there we find the apostles, with one voice, declaring the Psalm to be descriptive of the exaltation of Jesus Christ, and of the opposition raised against his Gospel, both by Jew and Gentile.
In the eighth Psalm we imagine the writer to be setting forth the pre-eminence of man in general, above the rest of the creation; but by Heb. ii. 6. we are informed, that the supremacy conferred on the second Adam, the man Christ Jesus, over all things in heaven and earth, is the subject there treated of.
* Bishop Hurd's Introduction to the Study of the Prophecies, p. 64.
St. Peter stands up, Acts ii. 25, and preaches the resurrection of Jesus from the latter part of the sixteenth Psalm ; and, lo! three thousand souls are converted by the sermon.
Of the eighteenth Psalm we are told, in the course of the sacred history, 2 Sam. xxii. that “ David
spake before the Lord the words of that song, in “ the day that the Lord delivered him out of the “hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of “ Saul.” Yet in Rom. xv. 9. the 49th verse of that, Psalm is adduced as a proof, that “ the Gentiles
should glorify God for his mercy in Jesus Christ,
as it is written, For this cause I will confess "to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy
In the nineteenth Psalm, David seems to be speaking of the material heavens, and their operations only, when he says,
“ their sound is gone out “ into all the earth, and their words unto the ends “ of the world." But St. Paul, Rom. x, 18. quotes the passage to show, that the Gospel had been universally published by the apostles.
The twenty-second Psalm Christ appropriated to himself, by beginning it in the midst of his sufferings on the cross; My God, my God,” &c. Three other verses of it are, in the New Testament, applied to him; and the words of the 8th verse were actually used by the chief priests, when they re