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plain it away by sophisticated interpretations, or endeavour to crush it by the force of persecution. Of such hardened enemies there is no hope, till they have been hacked and hewed, belaboured, and all but slain (in the strong language of one of the ancient prophets), by the heavy sword of the word of terror. But, in a lower sense, all are enemies till they hear of Christ, and the terms of his peace are offered to them. Many such are wrought upon by mild admonition, and receive in their hearts the arrows of the word of persuasion. Such, no doubt, were many of those Jews who were pricked to the heart, by St. Peter's first sermon, on the day of Pentecost: and even those worse enemies, if they can be brought to their feeling by the ghastly wounds and gashes of the terrific sword of the word of threatening, may afterward be pierced by the arrow, and carry about in their hearts its barbed point. And by the joint effect of these two weapons, the sword and the arrow, the word of terror and the word of persuasion, “peoples,” says the Psalmist,--that is, whole kingdoms and nations in a mass, "shall fall under thee,”-shall forsake their ancient superstitions, renounce their idols, and submit themselves to Christ. So much for the offensive weapons, the sword and the
But the defensive armour demands our attention; for it has its use, no doubt, in the Messiah's war. His person, you will remember, is clad, in the third verse, “ with refulgent, dazzling armour. This
be understood of whatever is admirable and amiable in the external form and appearance of the Christian religion. First, the character of Jesus himself; his piety toward God-his philanthropy toward man-his meekness, humility, ready forgiveness of injuries, patience, endurance of pain and death. Secondly, the same light of good works shining, in a less degree, in the lives of his disciples, particularly the apostles and blessed martyrs. Thirdly, whatever is decent and seemly in the government, the discipline, and the rites of the church. All these things, as they tend to
draw the admiration and conciliate the good-will of men, and mitigate the malice of the persecutor, are aptly represented under the image of the Messiah's defensive armour, and bad a principal share in making "peoples fall under him."
It yet remains to be explained, what is meant, in the Psalmist's detail of the Messiah’s war, by those “wonders” which “ his own right hand was to show him.”
Thy own right hand shall show thee wonders."
Our public translation has it " terrible things.” But the notion of terror is not of necessity included in the sense of the original word, as it is used by the sacred writers: it is sometimes, indeed, applied by them to frightful things; but it is also applied, with great latitude, to things extraordinary in their kind,-grand, admirable, amazing, awful,- although they should not be frightful. We have no right, therefore, to take it in the strict sense of “frightful,” unless something in the context points to that meaning, which is not the case in this passage. And, accordingly instead of “ terrible,” we find in some of the oldest English Bibles, the better chosen word “wonderful.”
Now the "wonderful things” which Messiah’s “own right hand” showed him, I take to be the overthrow of the Pagan superstition, in the Roman empire, and other great kingdoms of the world, by the mere preaching of the gospel, seconded by the exemplary lives and the miracles of the first preachers, and by their patient endurance of imprisonment, torture, and death, for the sake of Christ. It was, indeed, a wonderful thing, wrought by Christ's single arm, when his religion prevailed over the whole system of idolatry, supported as it was by the authority of sovereigns, by the learning of philosophers, and most of all, by the inveterate prejudices of the vulgar, attached to their false gods by the gratification which their very worship afforded to the sensual passions, and by the natural partiality of mankind in favour of any system, however absurd and corrupt, sanctioned by a long antiquity: It was a wonderful thing, when the devil's kingdom, with much of its invisible power, lost at once the whole of its external pomp and splendour; when silence being imposed on his oracles, and spells and enchantments .divested of their power, the idolatrous worship which by those engines of deceit had been universally established, and for ages supported, notwithstanding the antiquity of its institutions, and the bewitching gaiety and magnificence of its festivals, fell into neglect; when its cruel and lascivious rites, so long holden in superstitious veneration, on a sudden became the object of a just and general abhorrence; when the unfrequented temples, spoiled of their immense treasures, sunk in ruins, and the images, stript of their
gorgeous robes, and costly jewels, were thrown into the Tyber, or into the common receptacles of filth and ordure. It was a wonderful thing, when the minds of all men took a sudden turn; kings became the nursing fathers of the church, statesmen courted her alliance, philosophy embraced her faith, and even the sword was justly drawn in her defence.
These were the “wonderful things" effected by Christ's right hand; and in these, this part of the Psalmist's prophecy has received its accomplishment. Less than this his words cannot mean; and to more than this they cannot with any certainty be extended: since these things satisfy all that is of necessity involved in his expressions.
If his expressions went of necessity to “terrible things,” or were determined to that meaning by the context, insomuch that the inspired author could be understood to speak not of things simply wonderful, but wonderful in the particular way of being frightful, an allusion, in that case, might easily be supposed to what is, indeed, the explicit subject of many other prophecies, the terrible things to be achieved by the Messiah's own right hand, in the destruction of antichrist, and the slaughter of his armies, in the latter ages. The word of prophecy forewarns us, and we have lived to see the season of the accomplishment set in, that the apostate faction will proceed to that extreme of malice and impiety, as to levy actual war against the nations professing Christianity: and, after much suffering of the faithful, and bloody struggles of the contending parties, our Lord himself will come from heaven, visibly and in person, to effect the deliverance of his servants, and with his own arm cut off the antichristian armies with tremendous slaughter. This is represented in the prophecies under images that can be understood of nothing but the havoc of actual battle. “ The indignation of Jehovah is upon all the heathen," saith Isaiah, "and his fury upon all their armies. He hath utterly destroyed them,-he bath delivered them to the slaughter; and the mountains shall be melted down in their blood.” The prophet Ezekiel summons all ravenous birds and all beasts of prey, “ to assemble and come to the slaughter which Jehovah should make for them,-a great slaughter on the mountains of Israel” (the stage, as it should seem, of antichrist's, last exploits, and of his excision); “ and ye shall eat flesh and drink blood. The flesh of warriors
ye shall eat, and the blood of the princes of the earth ye shall drink. Ye shall eat fat till ye be cloyed, and drink blood till ye be drunken (the fat and the blood), of the slaughter which I have made for you.” In the Apocalypse, when the Son of God comes forth, to make an end of the beast and the false prophet, and of the armies of kings their confederates, an angel standing in the sun cries with a loud voice to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all, freemen and slaves, both small and great.” Men of all conditions, it seems, will be united in the impious coalition, to make war against the irresistible conqueror on the white horse, and his army, and will be involved in the great destruction. In a former vision, relating to the same subject, St. John had seen the “great wine-press of God's wrath trodden; and the blood came out of the wine-press, even unto the horses' bridles."
Such terrible things will be; and if the Psalmist had spoken explicitly of terrible things, I should think an allusion was indeed intended to those scenes of terror, yet future, which however, in the appointed season, must overtake the wicked world. But as terrible things are not of necessity included in the import of his words, which goes not necessarily farther than “wonderful,” and as he mentions those wonderful things before the thread of his prophecy is brought down to the second advent, the season of those exploits of terror, it becomes us to be cautious how we force a sense upon the Psalmist's words which might not be intended by him, or rather by the inspiring Spirit. It will be safer to rest in those wonderful things which actually came to pass within the period he is yet upon, and were undoubtedly brought about by Messiah's power, as the true accomplishment of this part of the prophecy. The suppression of idolatry in the Roman empire, and the establishment of the Christian church upon its ruins, was an event the most wonderful in the history of the Gentile world, to which nothing but the power of God was adequate, and comes up to the whole necessary import of the Psalmist's expressions.
The war of this period of the prophecy is finished : the battles have been fought, and the victory is gained. The Psalmist, in the two next verses, the sixth and seventh, exhibits the king seated on the throne of his mediatorial kingdom, and governed with perfect justice. He addresses him as God, whose throne is everlasting, and sceptre straight; as a monarch, whose heart is set upon righteousness, whose antipathy is wickedness. 6. “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever ;
A straight sceptre is the sceptre of thy royalty.