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draw many tears from their eyes. They are therefore comforted with a gracious promise, that God would give a blessing to the labours of their hands, and crown them with success, so that they should once more see Jerusalem in prosperity, and behold in Zion the beauty of holiness. This promise is conveyed under images borrowed from the instructive scenes of agriculture. In the sweat of his brow the husbandman tills his land, and casts the seed into the ground, where, for a time, it lies dead and buried. A dark and dreary winter succeeds, and all seems to be lost. But at the return of spring, universal nature revives, and the once desolate fields are covered with corn, which, when matured by the sun's heat, the cheerful reapers cut down, and it is brought home with triumphant shouts of joy. Here, 0 disciple of Jesus, behold an emblem of thy present labour, and thy future reward. Thou sowest, perhaps, in tears; thou doest thy duty amidst persecution and affliction, sickness, pain, and sorrow; thou labourest in the church, and no account is made of thy labours; no profit seems likely to arise from them. Nay, thou must thyself drop into the dust of death, and all the storms of that winter must pass over thee, until thy form shall be perished, and thou shalt see corruption. Yet, the day is coming, when thou shalt reap in joy; and plentiful shall be thy harvest. For thus thy blessed Master “went forth weeping, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, bearing precious seed," and sowing it around him, till at length his own body was buried, like a grain of wheat, in the furrow of the grave. But he arose, and is now in
heaven; from whence he shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, with the voice of the archangel and the trump of God, bringing his sheaves with him. Then shall every man receive the fruit of his works, and have praise of God. .
If this Psalm were written by Solomon, or by David
for Solomon, as the title imports, it was probably used again at the time of rebuilding the city and temple, after the return from Babylon. But, indeed, it is a Psalm which can never be out of season, the design of its author being to teach us the necessity of a dependence upon God and his blessing, in every work to which we set our hands. What is said with regard to an earthly house, city, and family, extends also to the spiritual house, city, and family of Christ, which are now, what Jerusalem, the temple, and the people of Israel, were in old time:
1. Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it : except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain,
In every undertaking, the blessing of God must accompany the labours of man, to render them effectual. No work can prosper without Him, nor can any design miscarry under his favour and protection. But they, above all men, ought to implore the divine grace and benediction, who are employed either in building or defending the spiritual house and city of God; especially as the same persons, like the Jews after the captivity, surrounded by enemies always ready to obstruct
the work, are often obliged to hold a sword in one hand, while they build with the other. Our own edification in faith and holiness must likewise be carried on by us in this attitude, by reason of the many temptations which are continually assailing us. It may also be remarked, that both Solomon and Zerubbabel had vainly laboured to construct the first or the second material temple, unless Jehovah himself had built the true house for the reception of his glory, that is to say, the temple of Christ's body, and, after it was fallen down, had reared it again by a resurrection from the dead.
2. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows : for so, or, surely, he give eth his beloved sleep.
The Psalmist doth not, certainly, intend to say, that labour and diligence are vain, but that they are so, except the Lord be with the labourer; the business is not to be done by all the industry and pains, all the carking and caring in the world, without him; whereas, if his aid be called in, if part of our time be spent in prayer, not the whole of it in prayerless toiling and moiling, our work will become easier, and go on better; a solicitude and anxiety for its success and completion will no longer prey upon our minds by day, and break our rest at night; we shall cheerfully fulfil our daily tasks, and then, with confidence and resignation, lay our heads upon our pillows, and God will give to his beloved a sweet and undisturbed sleep, which shall fit them to return every morning, with
renewed vigour and alacrity, to their stated employ. ments.
3. Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
The labours of mankind, first in building houses and cities, and then in guarding and securing their possessions, are undergone, not with a view to themselves alone, but to their families, which they would establish and perpetuate. The Psalmist, therefore, in the preceding verses, having taught men to expect a happy settlement only from the favour of Jehovah, now directs them to look up to him for the farther blessing of a numerous and virtuous progeny. He can in a moment blast the most fruitful stock, or he can “ make the barren woman to keep house, and to become a joyful mother of children.” Lo, children are an heritage of Jehovah ; an heritage which he bestows on those who fear him; the fruit of the womb is a reward conferred by him, where he sees it will be a blessing indeed, upon faithful and pious parents. St. Paul calls the converts made by his ministry, his children; and all believers are the children of Christ, the heritage given him by his father, the reward of his righteous life, and meritorious death : as it is written, “ I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance.” “ He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be. satisfied." Psal. ii. 8. Isa. liii. 11.
4. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; 80 are children of the youth. ,
Children, when well educated, are like so many ar-ne rows in the hand of a strong man; ready winged with.