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He should meet with so much Opposition, when all his Intentions were to do Honour to his Maker, and be a Benefactor to his Church and People: So that indeed all that he says on this Subject, is not so properly to be understood in any fence, as that I am now mentioning ; namely, as spoken in the Perfor of the whole Church of God, which ever had, and Thall have many bitter, and implacable Enemies. And the meekest Christian, that can put up all private Wrongs, yet may be moved with a juft Indignation against those that are Enemies to the Church Perhaps there is no establish'd Churchin the World wichout such Enemies, 'tis sure the Church of England has her share of them, both at home and abroad: Nay, to Thew that David did Prophecy of the future state of the Church in his own Person, we have not hitherto wanted thofe toward whom we have behaved our felves as Brechren, humbled our fouls with Fasting when they were perfecuted, espoused their Cause, and fought their Bartels, when they were oppressed by their own Princes, received them with a true Chriftian Friendship, and Hospitality, when driven out of their own Country; some of whom have, notwithstanding all this, join'd themselves to our Enemies, when we have been in Adversity, and spit Venom against that Church, with whose Charity they were warm'd and cherish'd.
X. Again, Sometimes thé obstinate and irrectaimable Enemies of God and Religion have Curses, and Imprecations denounced againft them in the Psalms. The most obfervable of thefe are the lxix. and cix. And as the Pfalmift had a regard to our Saviour's Sufferings in both thefe Psalms, fo'tis evident, that the imprecating part chiefly concernis Yudas, and those who joined with him in that execrable Treason againft the Life of Christ Jesus, A Passage out of each of these Psalms is actually apply'd to fudas, Acts i. 20. by St. Peter, and that shews to whomi,
and what sort of Men the rest belongs, namely, tó. none but such as are of the Temper of Firdas, and if Christ were again upon Earth, would again betray and crucify him. The cxxxvii Psalm, ver. the last, was intended against the Babylonians; the greatest Enemies, which the Church then had ; and from thence Antichrist and his Adherents are called Babylon in the New Testament. There are, no doubt, many Anti-christian Spirits in the World, and I can see no reason, why we may not with St. Paul pronounce Anathema against theni, 1 Cor. xvi.22. Gal. i.8. especially when we have this Sentence put into out Mouths by the Holy Spirit. In a word, I take all thefe Paffages in the Psalms to be the Voice of God's Church, declaring all sturdy Infidels and Apoftates for ever excluded froin God's Favor, and delivering them up to his just judgment, to which the roft tenderhearted Christians'may and ought to give bis Vore, as at the last day all the Saints Mall join with Christ in passing Sentence on the wicked World, i Cor
XI. But that which chiefly employ'd the Devotiosi of the Psalmists, and ought in reason to have as great a share in ours, is Praise and Thanksgiving to God, for all his Mercies. The Fews call the whole Book of Psalms (Tehillim; } that is
, Lauds, or Präises, by the fame Figure that we call otir Liturgy the CommonPrayer; because Prayer makes a great part of it; thom there be other Devotion of all sorts mingled with it: And certainly 'tis very reasonable, and what the light of Nature directs, that we should make fome return to all, from whom we have receiv'd ånty Benefits, and therefore above all to God; from whom we receive the greatest, and even our very felves : And sure we are guilty of the greatest baseness, if we do not inake him so easy and cheap a reguital, as that of Praise and Thanks,which puts us to no further expence than that of a grateful Heart, and a chcerful V dieci
The Subjects, on which the Thanksgiving Psalms were chiefly composed are those, which are of all other the greatest; namely,
1. The works of Creation, in which as all Men are concern'd, so all should unanimously join to Praise the Author of them. This goodness of God in Creating us, and all things, is the foundation of all the rest of his Mercies, and the clearest demonstration of the Being of God, without whom nothing else could have been : And what can be more just and agreeable, than that we should often own and praise that Power and Wisdom in which we live, and move, and have that Being on which all our other Enjoyments depend ; and who hath so made us, that we are capable of Praising Him, as, no other Creature in this visible World can do, but Man? Other Creatures may and do afford us Matter, or give us Occasion to Praise God, but none of them can offer this Sacrifice but we alone. None of the Creatures we have to do with can have any knowledge or apprehension of God, but our selves : They want both Speech and Reafon, without which this Service cannot be performed. This is the chief Privilege by which we are distinguish'd from them, that we can, with Mind and Voice, Worship and Praise our Creator : And they who make no use of this Privilege, do wilfully degrade themselves, and, as it were, become Brutes by choice.
2. We ought also frequently to commemorate those Works of Divine Providence, whereby we, and what belongs to us, have been preserv'd, where by we have the Comforts and Conveniences of this Life, at least in some measure continued to us : For the settled course of Nature, the constant returns of Night and Day, Seed-time and Harvest, Summer and Winter: And the Psalms will put into our Mouths •fit words to express our sence of these Blessings.
But the Pfalter will in an especial inanner allir us in offering up our Thanks to God for his peculiar Care of the Church, for his miraculous Provin dènces, whereby he has protected, and saved it against all the secret Practices, and open Affaults of its malicious and politick Enemies. The Pfalmists are not more particular in any thing, than in rehearsing all the mighty Works which God did for his: People, from the time of Abraham till the return of the Jews from the Babylonish Captivity, after which time none of the Pfalms, or other Books of the Old Testament were written; but they do in an especial manner, and very often recount the Miracles which 'God did in behalf of the Fesville People in Ægypt, the Red-Sea and the Wilderness; to the time of their settlement in the promised Land. And the Chriftian Chureh is more interess'd and concern’d in these miraculous Providences; than may at first sight be apprehended: For 'tis certain that Abraham was the Father of the Faithful, and his Pofterity by his Son Ifaac, and Grandfon Jacob; were the true Church, as all sincere Christians now are; and thofe Feivs who passed through the Red-Sea weré the Ancestors of us Christiansy I Cor. x. I. the Reninant of their Pofterity, who own'd #efus to be the Messins, and were, as I may so fay, the Mother-Church of Christ. This Church of Jewislo Converts (to use St. Paul's fimilitude Rom. xi.) were [ the root, or true Olive-Stock) into which we, whose Fores fathers were Gentiles, or Heathens [were ingrafeed.) And the Conclusion from thence is, that the Wonders which God performd in behalf of the Childreti of Israel in Ægypt, and elsewhere, were perform'd to our Ancestors, to the fame Church in substance; that we now are. And as there is nothing more wonderful in Man, than his Conception, his growth in the Womb, his breaking forth from thence, and gradual increase in Bulk, Strength and Senfes. So
there is nothing more admirable in the Church than that Series of Miracles, whereby he raised, fettled and establish'd it in the midst of the Heathen World, and in despite of all the Power and. Malice of Pharaoh, and other Idolatrous Tyrants. But further, the extraordinary Works which he did by Moses, Fofua, and other Leaders of his People down to David, should remind us of the greater Power, which he afterwards shew'd in enlarging his Church upon the coming of the Messias, by the Tongues, Pens, Divine Works, and Sufferings of the Apostles, and others who first planted Christianity; and the wonderful Success which he gave to Conftantine the Great, and other of the first Christian Emperors, against those Heathen Generals, and Forces, which opposed them; and to the many Kings and Queens, whom he hath since raised up to be Nurfing-Fathers, and Nursing-Mothers to his Church. 3.
Above all we ought never to forget the greatest' of his Mercies, which is the knowledge of his Will, or that Revelation of Divine Truth, which he has vouchfafed to us, without which our Condition would be little better, if it were not worse, than that of the Beasts which Perish : By this we are inform'd how we may certainly please him, by what means we may obtain the pardon of our Sins, and the assistance of his Grace, and whatever is necessary to make us either Good here, or Happy hereafter; and the Psalms will furnish with great variety of expression, whereby we may return our thanks to God for this eminent, unvaluable Mercy. In this particular we ought, if possible, to raise our Devotions above that of David and the other Pfalmists; for when they thank God for the Benefit of his Word, they chiefly meant the Law of Moses: and as much as the Gospel excels the Law, so much should our Praise and Gratitude exceed theirs.