« AnteriorContinuar »
as we are made partakers of it; comprising it both actively, as it is an act of grace in God; and passively, as terminated in our souls, with the deliverance that attends it. In this sense as it looks downwards, and in its effects respects us, it is of mere grace; as it looks upwards to its causes and respects the Lord Christ, it is from propitiation or atonement. And this is that pardon which is administered in the covenant of grace.
Now as to the place which these words enjoy in this psalm, and their relation to the state and condition of the soul here mentioned, this seems to be their importance:
O Lord, although this must be granted, that if thou shouldest mark iniquities according to the tenor of the law, every man living must perish, and that for ever; yet there is hope for my soul; that even I who am in the depths of sinentanglements, may find acceptance with thee; for whilst I am putting my mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope; I find that there is an atonement, a propitiation made for sin, on the account whereof thou sayest thou hast found a ransom, and wilt not deal with them that come unto thee according to the severity and exigence of thy justice; but art gracious, loving, tender, ready to forgive and pardon, and dost so accordingly; 'there is forgiveness with thee.'
The following words, 'therefore thou shalt be feared,' or • that thou mayest be feared,' though, in the original, free from all ambiguity, yet are so signally varied by interpreters, that it may not be amiss to take notice of it in our passage.
The Targum hath it, ‘that thou mayest be seen. This answers not the word, but it doth the sense of the place well enough. God in his displeasure is said to hide himself, or his face; Isa. viii. 17. “The Lord hideth his face from the house of Jacob.' By forgiveness we obtain again the light of his countenance. This dispels the darkness and clouds that are about him; and gives us a comfortable prospect of his face and favour. There is forgiveness with him that he may be seen. Besides, there is but one letter different in the original words; and that which is usually changed for the other.
The LXX. render them, éveka toū óvóuarós oov; 'for thy name's sake,' orthy own sake;' that is, freely, without any respect unto any thing in us. This also would admit of a fair and sound construction, but that there is more than ordinary evidence of the places being corrupted. For the Vulgar Latin, which, as to the Psalms, was translated out of the LXX. renders these words, 'propter legem tuam ;' 'for thy law's sake;' which makes it evident, that that translator reads the words ένεκα του νόμου σου, and not ονόματος, as now we read. Now, though this hath in itself, no proper sense (for forgiveness is not bestowed for the law's sake), yet it discovers the original of the whole mistake. 177in, the law,' differs but in one letter from in, that thou mayest be feared;' by a mistake whereof this éveka TOū vóuov, ‘for thy law's sake,' crept into the text. Nor doth this any thing countenance the corrupt figment of the novelty of the Hebrew vowels and accents; as though this difference might arise from the LXX. using a copy that had none, that is before their invention, which might occasion mistakes and differences; for this difference is in a letter as well as the vowels; and therefore there can be no colour for this conceit, unless we say also, that they had copies of old with other consonants than those we now enjoy. Bellarmine, in his exposition of this place, endeavours to give countenance unto the reading of the Vulgar Latin, 'for thy law's sake;' affirming that by the law here, not the law of our obedience, is intended; but the law or order of God's dealing with us ; that is, his mercy and faithfulness; which is a mere new invention to countenance an old error, which any tolerable ingenuity would have confessed, rather than have justified by so sorry a pretence. For neither is that expression, or that word, ever used in the sense here by him feigned, nor can it have any such signification.
Jerome renders these words, 'ut sis terribilis ;''that thou mayest be dreadful or terrible ;' doubtless not according to the intendment of the place. It is for the relieving of the soul, and not for the increasing of its dread and terror, that this observation is made; there is forgiveness with thee.'
But the words are clear, and their sense is obvious; yos in therefore thou shalt be feared,' or 'that thou mayest be feared.'
By the fear of the Lord,' in the Old Testament, the whole worship of God, moral and instituted, all the obedience
which we owe unto him, both for matter and manner, is intended. Whatever we are to perform unto God, being to be carried on and performed with reverence and godly fear, by a metonomy of the adjunct, that name is given to the whole. • That thou mayest be feared,' then, is, that thou mayest be served, worshipped; that I, who am ready to faint and give over on the account of sin, may yet be encouraged unto, and yet continue in, that obedience which thou requirest at my hands; and this appears to be the sense of the whole verse; as influenced by, and from, those foregoing:
Although, O Lord, no man can approach unto thee, stand before thee, or walk with thee, if thou shouldest mark their sins and follies according to the tenor of the law; nor could they serve so great and holy a God as thou art; yet because I know from thy revelation of it, that there is also with thee, on the account of Jesus Christ, the propitiation, pardon, and forgiveness; I am encouraged to continue with thee, waiting for thee, worshipping of thee, when, without this discovery, I should rather choose to have rocks and mountains fall upon me, to bide me from thy presence.'
• But there is forgiveness with thee, and therefore thou shalt be feared.'
The words being thus opened, we may take a full view in them of the state and condition of the soul expressed in this psalm; and that answering the experiences of all who have had any thing to do with God, in and about the depths and entanglements of sin.
Having in and from his great depths, ver. 1. addressed himself with fervent, redoubled cries, yea, outcries, to God and to him alone for relief, ver. 1, 2. having also acknowledged his iniquities, and considered them according to the tenor of the law, ver. 3. he confesseth himself to be lost and undone for ever on that account, ver. 3. But he abides not in the state of self-condemnation and dejection of soul; he says not there is no hope, God is a jealous God, a holy God, I cannot serve him; his law is a fiery law, which I cannot stand before, so that I had as good give over, sit down and perish, as contend any longer! no, but searching by faith into the discovery that God makes of himself in Christ through the covenant of grace, he finds a stable foundation of encouragement, to continue waiting on him, with expectation of mercy and pardon.
Propositions or observations from the former exposition of the words. The first proposed to confirmation. No encouragement for any sinner to approach unto God, without a discovery of forgiveness
From the words unfolded, as they lie in their contexture, in the psalm, the ensuing propositions do arise:
First, Faith's discovery of forgiveness in God, though it have no present sense of its own peculiar interest therein, is the great supportment of a sin-perplexed soul.
Secondly, Gospel-forgiveness, whose discovery is the sole supportment of sin-distressed souls, relates to the gracious heart, or good will of the Father, the God of forgiveness, the propitiation that is made by the blood of the Son, and free condonation or pardon according to the tenor of the covenant of
grace. Thirdly, Faith's discovery of forgiveness in God, is the sole bottom of adherence to him, in acceptable worship and reverential obedience.
The first of these, is that whose confirmation and improvement I principally aim at; and the other only so far as they have coincidence therewith, or may be used in, a subserviency to the illustration or demonstration thereof.
In the handling then of this truth, that it may be of the more advantage unto them whose good is sought, and intended in the proposal and management of it, I shall steer this course, and shew,
First, That there is not the least encouragement to the soul of a sinner to deal with God without this discovery.
Secondly, That this discovery of forgiveness in God is a matter great, holy, and mysterious; and which very few on gospel abiding grounds, do attain unto.
Thirdly, That yet this is a great,sacred, and certain truth, as from the manifold evidences of it, may be made to appear.
Fourthly, That this is a stable supportment unto a sindistressed soul, shall be manifested; and the whole applied, according to the several concernments of those who shall consider it.
First, There is not the least encouragement for the soul of a sinner, to entertain any thoughts of approaching unto God without this discovery. All the rest of the world, is
covered with a deluge of wrath. This is the only ark where-
We have an instance and example of it, beyond all ex-
Quo fugis Encelade, quascunque accesseris oras
Sub Jove semper eris.
This also is stated, Isa. xxxiii. 14. The sinners in Sion