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may frequently seem so unapplicable to the out-
expressed to God. And what
for we often are strongly affected by the Cita
We may confider,
Thus, at least, we may bring every Thing we say, home to ourselves : and by fo doing furnish our Minds with a most valuable Store of devout Thoughts and Language, perhaps for many future Occafions of our own or others. For the Book of Psalms is so inexhaustible a Treasure of every Branch of Piety, that a more constant Ufe of it, than of
other in the whole Bible, hath, with very juft Reason, been appointed in public Forms of Prayer, and recommended in private
It may be objected, that in several of them David utters most bitter Imprecations against his Enemies : in which, to say nothing harsher, we cannot follow him : for the Rule of the , New Testament is, Bless and curse not ". But indeed most, if not all, the Places, which appear Wishes of Evil, may, according to the • Rom, xii. 14.
confessed Import of the Original, be understood only as Predictions of it. Or, fupposing them Wilhes, David might be directed by infinite Wisdom to pronounce them, even against the Oppofers of his reigning over Ifrael; who opposed, at the fame Time, the known Decree of Providence. Repeating them in this View, folely as His, must be innocent: and strongly suggest an important Admonition, not to fight against God. But perhaps in fome of these, as well as other Paffages, he speaks in the Person of the whole Church of God, against all its irreconcileable Adversaries, whoever they be. Such was Judas : to whom therefore the two most dreadful of these Psalms are applied, Acts
And, with the utmost Tenderness to the whole of God's Creation, we may and must defire the Overthrow of Them, who obstinately hate Him and his Laws. For though we ought much more to desire the Repentance, than the Death of a Sinner, as He himself doth : yet if they will not repent, we ought to think a:d speak with Approbation and Satisfaction, (yet mixed with an awful Concern,) of their Punishments here, and Sentence hereafter: which laft St. Paul represents good Persons, as joining
c'Acts xxiii. 9.
to pronounce : Do ye not know, that the Saints Shall judge the World" ?
It may be objected further, that however this be, the Psalms are unfit for Our Use on another Account: they are full of Jewish Notions and Phrases. But they were composed by the Aid of the holy Spirit, with a View to Christian Times: our Saviour appeals particularly to those Things, which are written in the Psalms concerning bimo, and they are inany. Nor is the Difficulty great, in applying the Peculiarities of one Dispensation to what answers them in the other : of understanding by the Law, the Doctrine of Him, who came to fulfill it; by Jerufalem and Zion, the Christian Church; by the several Sacrifices, that of our blessed Lord, or of our own Prayers and Praises offered up in his Name ; by the Altar, the holy Table; by temporal Enemies and Deliverances, spiritual ones; and so of the rest: thanking God, at the same Time, that we have Light afforded us, to see so much deeper into this and every Book of the Old Testament, than they who wrote it.
Still there may be more Passages than a few in the Psalms, which many understand not.
Luke xxiv. 44•
1 Cor. vi. 2.
However, even these they may allowably read over, as undoubtedly they often do other Things, in Order and in Hope to understand them : and by reading with Attention, they will come gradually to understand more and more of them. But they would make this much eafier to themfelves, by reading carefully in private some Paraphrase of the Psalms, if they are able to procure one, along with them: such as the larger of Dr. Hammond, or rather of Bishop Patrick, or the smaller of Dr. Nicols or Mr. Johnson. The particular Passages, which one or other may find obscure to him, are too many to be explained from hence. But the darkest and least edifying in Appearance will, by the Use of any
of these Authors, be perceived, either to have some one determined Sense of Importance, or at least to be capable of several such.
And indeed all considerate Christians will acknowledge the Excellence of the Psalter in a good Translation. But some object against that, which we have in our Prayer-Books, as made in Times of less Learning and Exactness, than the other in our Bibles: which, being more correct, they conceive ought to be used instead of it. But indeed, as the latter is, in some Places, juster than the former ; fo is the