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Therefore God hath anointed thee, thy own God,
With the oil of gladness above thy fellows." It was shown, in my first Discourse upon this Psalm, how inapplicable this address is to Solomon; and it is obvious, that it is equally inapplicable to any earthly monarch: for of no throne but God's can it be affirmed with truth, that it is for ever and ever; of no king, but of God and of his Christ, it can be said, that he loves righteousness with a perfect love, and hates wickedness with a perfect hate; of no sceptre, but the sceptre of God and of his Christ, that it is a straight sceptre. The sceptre bas been, from the earliest ages, a badge of royalty. It was originally nothing more than a straight slender rod, studded sometimes for ornament with little nails of gold. It was an emblem of the perfect integrity of the monarch in the exercise of his power, both by himself and by his ministers, inflexibly adhering to the straight line of right and justice, as a mason or carpenter to his rule. The perfection of the emblem consisted in the straightness of the stick; for every thing else was ornament. The straightness, therefore, ascribed by the Psalmist to Messiah's sceptre, is to be understood of the invariable justice of the administration of his government. Now, certainly, there have been many kings, both in ancient and in modern times, to whom the praise is due of a cordial regard in general to righteousness, and of a settled principle of dislike to wickedness; many who, in the exercise of their authority, and the measures of their government, have been generally directed by that just sense of right and wrong: but yet kings are not exempt from the frailties of human nature; the very best of them are, at least, in an equal degree with other good men, liable to the surprises of the passions, and the seductions of temptation; insomuch that that predominant love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity, maintaining an absolute ascendancy in the mind, in all times, and upon all occasions, which the Psalmist attributes to his heavenly King, has belonged to none that ever wore an earthly crown: much less is the perfect straightness of the sceptre, a perfect conformity to the rule of right, to be found in the practice and execution of the governments of the world. It will happen, in numberless instances, and from an infinite complication of causes, all reducible to the general head of the infirmity of human nature, and the depraved state of fallen man; from an endless multiplicity of causes it will happen, that the government of the very best king will, in execution, fall far short of the purity of the king's intentions, and this in governments that are ever so well administered : fur, if we suppose every one of those who are put in authority under him to be as upright in their intentions as we have supposed the king himself to be, which must appear a very large and liberal supposition, if we consider the variety of departments into which the administration of any great government must necessarily be divided, and the great number of persons that must be employed in the affairs of each separate department; but if we make the supposition, that all the officers, from the highest to the lowest, in all the departments, are as good as men can be, still they will be men, and, as men, liable every one of them to error and deception; and, for this reason, they will often fail in the execution, in what they mean to do the best. This gives no colour to the detestable principle, propagated from democratic France over the continent of Europe; of what is profanely called “the sacred right of insurrection;" nor to similar doctrines broached by sectarian teachers in our own country. It is merely the want of perfection in human nature, of which government and governors, with all things and with all persons human, must partake. Still, with all these imperfections, government is the source of the highest blessings to mankind; insomuch, that the very worst government is preferable to a state of anarchy: and for this reason, the peaceable submission of the subject to the very worst of kings is one of the most peremptory precepts of Christianity. But I
contend, that the perfect, undeviating rectitude of intention, and the perfect justice of administration, of which the Psalmist speaks, cannot be ascribed, without impiety, to any earthly monarch.
The throne of God, whether we understand it of God's natural dominion over the whole creation, or more particularly of his providential government of the moral world or, in a still more restricted sense, of Christ's mediatorial kingdom, is everlasting; and the government, both in the will of the governor, and in the execution, is invariably good and just. But the kingdom of the God-man is in this place intended. Th
This is evident from what is said in the seventh verse: “God, even thine own God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows;" that is, God hath advanced thee to a state of bliss and glory above all those whom thou hast vouchsafed to call thy fellows. It is said too, that the love of righteousness and hatred of wickedness is the cause that God hath so anointed him, who yet, in the sixth verse, is himself addressed as God. It is manifest, that these things can be said only of that person in whom the Godhead and the manhood are united,--in whom the human nature is the subject of the unction, and the elevation to the mediatorial kingdom is the reward of the man Jesus: for in his divine nature, Christ, being equal with the Father, is incapable of any exaltation. Thus, the unction with the oil of gladness, and the elevation above his fellows, characterize the manhood; and the perpetual stability of the throne, and the unsullied justice of the government, declare the Godhead. It is therefore with the greatest propriety that this text is applied to Christ, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and made an argument of his divinity; not by any forced accommodation of words which, in the mind of the author, related to another subject, but according to the true intent and purpose of the Psalmist, and the literal sense and only consistent exposition of his words.
The Psalmist is now come down, by a regular and complete, though a summary review of the principal occurrences of what may be called the history of the Mediator and his kingdom, the Redeemer's life on earth, his exaltation to his throne in heaven, the successful propagation of the gospel after his ascension, the suppression of idolatry, and the establishment of the Christian religion in the principal empires and kingdoms of the world: the Psalmist, through this detail, is come down to the epoch of the second advent, which immediately introduces the great event which has given occasion to the whole song, the consummation of the Church's happiness and Messiah’s glory here on earth, in the public marriage of the great King with the wife of his love. This occupies the whole sequel of the psalm, and will be the subject of my next Discourse.
I speak of the things which I have made touching the King, or unto
the King.–Psalm xlv. 1. We have followed the holy Psalmist, step by step, through his accurate, though summary prospective view of the principal occurrences in the history of the Mediator and his kingdom upon earth, from our Lord's first appearance in the flesh to the epoch of his second advent. I have explained to you the several images under which the Psalmist represents the events of this interval. I have shown how easily they apply to Christ and his gospel,how inapplicable they are to any other subject. I showed you, that under the figures of comeliness of person and urbanity of speech, the Psalmist describes the unexampled sanctity of the life of Jesus, and the high consolations of his doctrine: that under the figure of a warrior, clad in dazzling armour, with his sword girt upon his thigh, and shooting his arrows after a flying enemy, Christ is de
scribed as waging his spiritual war against sin and Satan by his powerful word, -represented as a sword, when it is employed to terrify the conscience of the sinner, and rouse him, by denunciations of wrath and punishment, to a sense of his danger; as an arrow, in its milder effects, when it pricks the heart with that godly remorse which brings on the sorrow that works true repentance, and terminates in hope and love. The splendid defensive armour is an emblem of whatever is externally venerable and lovely in Christianity, and conduces to conciliate the goodwill of men, and mitigate the malice of the persécutor. The subjugation of nations, by the prosecution of this war, is the triumph of the church over idolatry, which first took place in the reign of Constantine the Great, when the Christian religion was established in the Roman empire, and idolatry put down by that emperor's authority. A few years after, the idolatrous temples were finally closed by his successors.
The battles being fought, and the victory gained, the conqueror is saluted by the holy Psalmist as the God-man, seated upon the everlasting throne of his mediatorial kingdom. The Psalmist then proceeds to that great event which is to take place upon the second advent of our Lord, the prospect of which has been the occasion of the whole song,-the consummation of the church's happiness and Messiah's glory here on earth, in the public marriage of the great King with the wife of his love. And upon
this subject, the inspired poet dwells throughout the whole sequel of the psalm, which makes, indeed, the greater part of the entire composition.
Before I enter upon the explanation of particulars in this part of the song, it may be proper to offer a few words upon the general propriety and significance of the image of a marriage, as it is applied here, and in other parts of Scripture, to Messiah and his church.
Our Lord said of himself, that he came to "preach the gospel to the poor;" and the same thing may be said of