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eyes to see the wondrous things revealed in it upon these subjects, that I may understand them in thy light, and that my judgment of them may be the same with thine! I beseech thee also to enable me to mix faith with what I do understand! and what, through thy teaching, I am enabled to believe aright, that help me to receive in the love of the truth! O God, fulfil thy promise; put thy blessed word into my inward parts; write it upon my heart; and what I am taught to love, grant me power to practise, that thy new covenant promise may in me have its full effect, and I may be in heart and life cast into the mould and form of thy word! thus becoming a real living edition of the Bible! Make it my daily study! Render it my constant delight! Let my meditations in it be always sweet! O thou holy and eternal Spirit, witness thus to thine own record; and let me experience it to be the power of God, as well as the truth of God! In this dependence upon thee, in the use of it, let me be daily growing, until, by the will of God, I shall have served mine own generation; and then let it be the last
life to seal the truth of thy testimony concerning Jesus! Let me find thy witness true in the hour of death, and beyond death all the promises made good to me, through Jesus Christ, in life everlasting! Amen
ON THE IMPRECATIONS CONTAINED IN THE BOOK OF
Many of the objections which skeptics or infidels raise against the sacred Scriptures, occasion no perplexity to the Christian. He sees at once the depravity of heart, the enmity against God and truth, from which they spring, and the vanity of those carnal reasonings which give them all their force.' But, when the penmen of the Psalms, whether David or others, utter the most awful imprecations, denouncing not only all temporal cvils, but even eternal damnation on men, it frequently creates the most distressing difficulties in the minds of pious and, in other respects, wise men. Hearing the Psalmist cry, Destroy thou them, or rather, impute their guilt to them, O God!* Cast them out in the multitude of their iniquities! Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell!'t a holy man asks; with anxious mind, How can this be consistent with religion, of which the very essence is love; which commands us to love our enemies, to do good to them that hate us, to pray for them that spitefully use us, to bless them that curse us, to bless and not to curse?
It has been feebly replied by some, This was under the Jewish dispensation, which was less perfect than the Christian; and which tolerated many things that the Gospel condemns. But will this satisfy those who remember that true religion is the same in essence un. der every dispensation? Can we forget that the Old Testament expressly commands us to exercise benevolence towards enemies? Has not Moses in the law said, "If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again; if thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldst forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.' Was it not from the Old Testament that the apostle quoted that precept, worthy of a Savior God, 'If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for, in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head,' to melt him down to love? Has not Christ, in the parable, expounded the grand precept of the law, «Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself;' as enjoining acts of kindness towards Samaritans, whom the Jews considered as their worst enemies?
* Psalm v. 10.
† Psalm 1v. 15.
There is more weight in the observation, that many of the most awful imprecations are in those Psalms, which not only speak expressly of Christ, but in which he himself, is the speaker; so that the denunciations fall upon his enemies, and are predictions of the fate of Judas and the Jews. But this answer seems insufficient; because it will scarcely apply to all the imprecations. The first, which we have mentioned above, is from the 5th Psalm, which cannot, without forcing it to bend to an arbitrary hypothesis, be interpreted to speak of Christ. If, then, there is but one imprecation (and there are many) which cannot be accounted for by this observation, we must seek some more comprehensive solution of the difficulty.
For this it has been usual to have recourse to a criticism on the form of the words in the original Hebrew. It is observed, that the Hebrew language employs the same form of speech to express both the imperative
mood and the future tense of the indicative; so that the same words may be translated, 'Let them go down quick into hell;' or, «They shall go down quick into heil;' thus all the predictions might with equal fidelity to the letter of Scripture, be read as simple prophecies of future events. Hence it has of late been much the vogue to translate in the future, instead of the imperative, all those passages which contain imprecations or denunciations of vengeance.
There is, however, a serious objection to this plausible mode of extricating ourselves from the difficulty. The Holy Spirit has himself, in other parts of Scripture, determined that some of these passages should be read in the imperative, and not in the future. The Greek language has not the same ambiguity in this case as the Hebrew; and, in the New Testament, some of these imprecatory Psalms are quoted by the inspired apostle, in such a way as to overthrow the favorite hypothesis, which renders all these passages in the future tense as simple predictions. Hence Dr. Horne, Bishop of Norwich, in his pious Commentary on the Book of Psalms, deserves some severity of reprehension for translating the 69th Psalm in the future, when the Holy Spirit, in the apostles of the New Testament, has declared that it is to be understood in the imperative. In Acts i. 20, we read, 'It is written in the Book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no no man dwell therein; and his bishopric let another take;' but the bishop so far differs from the apostle, as to render it, «Their habitation shall be desolate.' In the same way he treats other verses which are quoted by Paul in Roin. xi. 9, 10.
Now, whatever uncertainty there may be in the Hebrew, the Greek of the New Testament is unquestionably in the imperative and optative; which should have checked the prevalent propensity to translate the Psalms in the future.
But, after all, I ask, with some surprise, How is it that those who believe the Psalms to be not the private suggestions of the writer's own mind, but that "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,' should have found any difficulty in these imprecations? So much of the Psalms are evidently beyond any human mind, that they compel every Christian to exclaim, “The voice of God and not of a man! This Divine book contains the most minute predictions concerning future events; foretelling what thoughts would arise in men's minds, the dispositions they would feel, the exact words they would speak, and the extraordinary actions they would perform; hundreds of years after the Psalm was penned; so that it is evident the Psalmist was not then uttering his own views and feelings, but was the organ of the Deity to express God's mind and disposition; as, in the simple prophecies, he uttered things which he often could not thoroughly understand, and, of course could not feel all their force, so in those passages, which are imprecatory denunciations, as well as declarations of future events, he did not know upon whom they would fall, and of course could not feel any personal ill-will or revenge; but felt himself carried away by the Divine afflatus, to utter the oracles of God to men. Now, when we read the predictions in the Psalms, no one says, What a penetrating mind David's must have been to tell what 'men