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perity of its friends. "Destroy them, O God," i. e. the wicked and deceitful before described ; "let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against thee.”
In several of David's psalms we meet with similar expressions, which sound to us like imprecations of evil on his enemies.
But, according to the idiom of the Hebrew language, the words, which sometimes are rendered as an imprecation, may, with equal propriety, be considered as a prediction. The passage before us is of this sort, and may run thus; "Thou, O God, wilt destroy them. They will fall by their own wickedness. Thou wilt cast them out." In this sense the imprecatory passages in several of the psalms are understood by the writers of the New Testament. In the 109th Psalm, David, speaking of one under the character of a wicked and deceitful man, says, "Let his days be few, and let another take his office." The Apostle Peter, reciting this passage, says, "This is that which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas."
Or, if we take the expressions as they stand, they will admit a sense consistent with the piety and benevolence of the gospel. David does not imprecate destruction on the wicked as his enemies; but viewing them as the enemies of truth and righteousness, and the promoters of vice and misery in the world, he prays that such judgments may fall upon them, as will arrest the progress of their corruptions, and defeat their dangerous designs.
Though we have no right to indulge malice, and study revenge against our enemies, yet we may wish and pray for the restraint of their wrath, and the disappointment of their counsels. Though we may
not rejoice in the misery of an enemy when he falls; yet we may rejoice, when his wicked devices come to nought.
David's prayer, in the passage under considera, tion, amounts to no more than this, that God would banish wickedness from the land-that he would confound the implacable enemies of truth-that he would display before all men his love of righteousness and hatred of wickedness-and would cause the former to triumph over the latter. Thus he prays in the seventh psalm, "Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just ; for the righteous God trieth the reins and the heart." David, finally, prays, that God would make such distinctions in favor of the godly, as may encourage all to engage in his service, and trust in his protection. "Let the wicked fall-but let all those who put their trust in thee, rejoice; let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: Let them also that love thy name, be joyful in thee." For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous: With favor wilt thou compass him as with a shield.”
In this probationary state, good and evil are dealt out promiscuously to the godly and ungodly, and neither love nor hatred can be known by the things which are before them: A full distinction between them is reserved to another world. We may, how ever, believe that God will, and we may pray that he would, so far favor the righteous and frown on the wicked, as to make it manifest, who are the happier men, and have chosen the better part. Yea, we may from his word be assured, that the time is com. ing, when he will put away the wicked from the earth, and make the righteous rejoice in his favor.
It becomes us then daily to pray, aldi with faith in his word we may pray, that he would cause truth and holiness to spread in the earth; that he would
extend the limits of his church; that he would increase the influence of his gospel; and that he would make known his salvation and shew forth his righteousness in the sight of all the nations,
In our prayers we are to remember, and in our benevolence to embrace all men; but we are more especially to think of, and intercede for the land in which we dwell, and the church of God which is there. Benevolence must be diffusive; but it may operate with greater strength near the centre, than at the extremity of the circle. Our own country is more within our view, than other countries: In her are our friends and connexions; in her prosperity we are peculiarly interested; and for her happiness we are daily to pray. "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls and prosperity within thy palaces, For my brethren and companions' sakes I will now say, Peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy good."
We are still more particularly to remember in our prayers the religious society to which we belong, and to accommodate our petitions to the cases of particular members, so far as the peculiarity of their circumstances is known to merit a distinct consideration.
We are to pray for the edification of the church, the increase of faith and holiness, the success of the. divine word, the conversion of sinners, and the establishment of saints.
One reason why we are required to covenant and associate with one another is, that by mutual coun. sel, social prayer, reciprocal example, and a joint attendance or divine ordinances, we all may be com. forted and earfied, and may all be builded together for an habitation of God through the spirit.
We see, in the example of David, in what manner we ought to begin every day that we live. We should direct our morning thoughts to God-lift up our hearts alive to him before they are sunk and buried in the world-contemplate the holiness of his character and his displeasure against the workers of iniquity-incline our hearts to his testimonies, and fix our resolution against every evil way-devote every day so entirely to God, that we may easily pass from the business of the world to the devotions of the sanctuary-implore the guidance of the divine spirit amidst the errors of a corrupt age-take heed to our ways, that we may not dishonor, but recommend religion by our daily example-and by our daily prayers solicit God's blessing on those, to whom our immediate influence cannot extend.
Thus beginning the day piously, we may spend it profitably, and close it pleasantly. Let every day be thus begun and thus employed, and our last day will be peaceful, our death bed easy, our change safe, and our eternity joyous. Thus our age will be clearer than the noon, our evening brighter than the morning, and the end of our life better than its beginning.
The Shortness of Time illustrated.
I CORINTHIANS vii. 29.
The time is short.
A CONCISE, but solemn sentence, and pertinent to the season of the year.
It is winter-How short are the days!The sun rises far toward the south; and, just peeping over the hills, casts upon us a pale and oblique glance -then withdraws his face and drops below the horizon. We are, naturally reminded, how short and transient is our time on earth, and how soon the day of life will be closed. When we rise to catch the first scattering rays of the morning sun, and assiduously employ the few hours, which he lends us, to dispatch the business in hand, we may reasonably contemplate the more important business, which relates to eternity, and the uncertain period allowed us for its execution. Hence we should be excited early to begin, diligently to ply, and unremittingly to pursue our great work.