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tiousness. It constantly keeps the soul sensible. of its obligations to him “who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” 4. And lastly. This hope alone animates and cheers our future prospects. The believer, in the hour of despondency, is enabled to adopt the language of David; “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God, for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” when just entering the “valley of the shadow of death,” when the guilty mind is filled with horrors indescribable, the believer, under the influence of this hope, is enabled to sing, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory " While he knows that the sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; he can rejoice in God, who giveth him the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Until the voyage of life is finished, may the Lord grant to all his believing people the supporting influence of that hope, which is as an anchor to the soul, and which entereth within the vail; and may his terrors alarm the thoughtless and secure, who live without God and without hope in the world. Apprized of their danger, and quickened by grace, may they fly for refuge to the Lord Jesus, and lay hold on the hope set before them in the gospel. Amen.
Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing f The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel Mogether, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let is break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh , the Lord shall have them in derision.
THIS psalm is clearly prophetic of Christ, and of the ill treatment with which he and his followers met from the ungodly in the world. To him the apostle applies it in Acts iv. 25, 26. “Who by the mouth of thy servant David hath said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing : The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.” This application of the psalm to Christ is decisive. I readily acknowledge that it has respect to David, the type of Christ, in the first instance; but on this occasion, a greater than David is here.
* Never before printed. Delivered at the quarterly day of prayer. June 4, 1863.
There is in general, if not always, a degree of ambiguity attending prediction, which is happily removed by its fulfilment. It is the event that fully explains prophecy. To us this happiness is granted; and this shall be the business of the present opportunity, to compare this prediction and the event together. My intention is to impress on my own heart and yours, the sufferings and safety of that blessed cause, in which we are so much interested, and for which we meet this day to pray. Let us attend to the passage as it lies before us, and beseech the Father of lights to give us a right understanding of its meaning. The sacred writer asks, why do the heathen rage? This prophetic question was fulfilled when Christ made his appearance in the flesh, and was preached by his apostles. There is another branch of the sentence in connexion with the preceding; which is, “and the people imagine a vain thing.” The people here spoken of are, I suppose, the Jews. They imagined a vain thing when they thought, 1. That Messiah would come as a temporal prince, to deliver and exalt their nation. Such a Messiah would have been of no advantage to them as sinners, as persons under the condemnation of the law. But of this they were not sensible: their eyes were blinded to their true condition and need of a Saviour. 2. They imagined a vain thing, when Herod ordered all the male children, from two years old and under, to be slain, with an intention of cutting off him who was born king of the Jews. He knew not what he did; or that in doing it,
he was fighting against God, whose purpose shall 'stand, and who will do all his pleasure. In each step of their conduct, you see the text exemplified, or have a display of the rage of the rulers and people of the Jews against Christ. All their opposition made to his preaching and miracles was of the same kind, and arose entirely from rage against him. His miracles they ascribed to a diabolical influence, and his doctrine they. despised. They treated him as a deceiver, and raised a clamour against him. 3. They imagined a vain thing, when they hired Judas to betray him, and urged Pilate to condemn him, and when they crucified him. Their design was to get rid of him; but we shall find, before we conclude, that he who sitteth in the heavens did laugh; yea, that he had them in derision. 4. How vain a thing did they imagine when they placed a guard of Roman soldiers at the sepulchre, to prevent the sacred body from being stolen away. Hence they became the first witnesses of an important fact: for they, affrighted, ran into the city, and declared that he had risen. Their wicked designs were thus signally frustrated. By the heathen are meant all Gentile nations; especially the Greeks and Romans. You recollect the manner in which the apostles were treated for preaching the doctrines of Christ. The Jews and Romans, by their influence, were the principal actors in his condemnation and death; but afterward the Greeks took a very decided part against him. They esteemed Christ crucified foolishness. And when Paul preached at
Athens against idolatry, they mocked. At another time he was stoned, imprisoned and scourgcd. Such was their rage against him, that they said he ought not to live any longer. The next verse opens this matter more fully to our view. “The kings of the earth set them. selves, and the rulers took counsel against the Hord, and against his anointed.” The terms kings and rulers signify persons clothed with different degrees of power and authority; the former are supreme, the latter subordinate. They united in their opposition to Christ. You are desired to bear in mind, that this prediction was delivered about one thousand years before the coming of Christ. Its accomplishment hath been exact, so far as the present age of the world. Much yet remains as to the latter part of it. The kings of the earth set themselves, i. e. in opposition against the Lord, meaning Jehovah; and against his anointed, meaning Jesus Christ, who is often spoken of in the word of God by this phrase. Let us now compare prophecy and event together in this part of it. The first instance of this kind we have in Herod, and in Pilate the Roman governor. You recollect that the former was so much opposed to him that he murdered many infants, that he might be sure to cut off Jesus Christ. Pilate arraigned, tried, condemned him, and delivered him over to the Jews and soldiers, to kill him. You are sensible that the text was literally ful. filled during the ten persecutions under the Ro: