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which sometimes fierce and unreasonable cruelties will wrest from very sedate and moderate spirits. But it was the desire of this holy psalmist, as in like cases it should be ours, that his heart might be always premoved in such a frame, under the conduct of the Spirit of God, as not to be surprised into an expression of distempered passion in any of his words or sayings. The other he regards in his earnest supplication to be delivered from it, verse 4, “Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity; and let me not eat of their dainties.” There are two parts of his request unto the purpose intended. First, That, by the power of God's grace influencing his mind and soul, his heart might not be inclined unto any communion or society with his wicked adversaries in their wickedness. Secondly, That he might be preserved from a liking of, or a longing after, those things which are the baits and allurements whereby men are apt to be drawn into societies and conspiracies with the workers of iniquity: “And let me not eat of their dainties.” See Prov. i. 10–14. For he here describeth the condition of men prospering for a season in a course of wickedness ;—they first jointly give up themselves unto the practice of iniquity, and then together solace themselves in those satisfactions of their lusts which their

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and interest in the world do furnish them withal. These are the “ dainties" of which an impotent longing and desire do betray the minds of unstable persons unto a compliance with ways of sin and folly; for I look on these “ dainties” to comprise whatever “the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh,” or “the pride of life,” can afford. All these David

prays to be delivered from any inclination unto, especially when they are made the allurements of a course of sin. In the enjoyment of these dainties, it is the common practice of wicked men to soothe up, approve of, and mutually encourage one another in the way and course wherein they are engaged. And this completes that goodly felicity which in this world so many aspire unto, and whereof alone they are capable. The whole of it is but a society in perishing sensual enjoyments, without control, and with mutual applauses from one another.

This the psalmist had a special regard unto; who, casting his eye towards another communion and society, which he longed after, verse 5, that, in the first place, presents itself unto him, which is most opposite unto those mutual applauses and rejoicings in one another which are the salt and cement of all evil societies,-namely, rebukes and reproofs for the least miscarriages that shall be observed. Now, whereas the dainties, which some enjoy in a course of prosperous wickedness, are that alone which seems to have any thing in it amongst them that is desirable; and, on the other side, rebukes and reproofs are those alone which seem to have any sharpness, or matter of uneasiness and dislike, in the society of the godly; David balanceth that which seemeth to be sharpest in the one society against that which seems to be sweetest in the other, and, without respect unto other advantages, prefers the one above the other. Hence some read the beginning of the words, “Let the righteous rather smite me," with respect unto this comparison and balance.

“Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.” The view of our translation will evidence the words to be elliptical in the originai, by the various supplements which we make to fill up the sense of them, and render them coherent; and this hath put some difficulty on the interpretation of the text, and caused some variety of apprehensions in sober and learned expositors.

It is not unto my present purpose to engage into a discussion of all the difficulties of the text, seeing I design to found no other doctrine thereon, than what all will acknowledge to be contained in the words and their coherence. I shall only, therefore, briefly open them with respect unto our present purpose, and its concernment in them.

ion pory ppa: P'78, “the righteous,” is any one opposed to the workers of iniquity, verse 4,-any righteous person whatever,-any one who is of the society and communion of the righteous ones: for all the world falls under this distribution, as it will one day appear. “Let him smite me:” the word Dan is seldom used in the Scripture but to signify " a severe stroke,” which shakes the subject smitten, and causeth it to tremble. See Prov. xxiii. 35; 1 Sam. xiv. 16; Ps. lxxiv. 6. And it is used for “the stroke of the hammer on the anvil,” in fashioning of the iron, Isa. xli. 7. Wherefore the word on following may be taken adverbially, as a lenitive of that severity which this word importeth: "Let him smite me;" but "leniter, benigne, misericorditer,”—“ gently, kindly, friendly, mercifully.” And so some translations read the words, “ Let the righteous smite me friendly," or kindly.

But there is no need to wrest the word to such an unusual sense; for the psalmist intends to show, that so he may be delivered from the society of ungodly men, and enjoy the communion of the righteous, he would not deprecate the greatest severities which, according to rule, might be exercised in rebuking or reproving him. And this he doth with so full a satisfaction of mind, with such a high valuation of the advantage he should have thereby,—that he says not, he would bear it patiently and quietly, but on; it will be unto me “a benignity, a mercy, a kindness,”—as the word imports. And as it seems that some reproofs, at least,—some regular dealings of righteous persons with us,-may come as a stroke that makes us shake and tremble; so it is a good advance in spiritual wisdom, to find out kindness and

mercy in those that are so grievous unto our natural spirits,—unto flesh and blood.

'n'aig, “And let him reprove me.” This manifests what he intends by smiting, in the foregoing words. It is reproofs that he intends; and these he calls smiting, in opposition unto the flattering compliance of wicked men with one another in the enjoyment of their dainties, and with respect unto that sinart unto the mind and affec tions wherewith some of them are sometimes accompanied. But this word, directly expressing that subject-matter whereof I intend to treat, must be again spoken unto.

vinny unt pow. These words have a double interpretation; for they may be either deprecatory of an evil implied, or declaratory of the psalmist's sense of the good he desired. Kimchi on the place observes, that his father Joseph divided the words of the text, and began here a new sense, wherein the psalmist returns unto the close of the fourth verse, “ Let me not eat of their dainties,” and, “Let not their precious oil”—that is, their flatteries and soothings in sin“ break my head;" but let the reproofs of the righteous preserve me. And this sense is followed by the Vulgar Latin, “Oleum autem peccatorum non impingat caput meum;" but the other construction and sense of the words is more natural. warg porek, “Qleum capitis,”. the "oil of the head," we render, an “excellent oil;" and countenance may be given unto that interpretation from Exod. xxx. 23, where we'r dinuz; “spices of the head," is well rendered, “principal spices.” But I rather think that eina sy opu,“ oil poured on the head”—which was the manner of all solemn unctions-is intended. This being a great privilege, and the token of the communication of great mercy, the psalmist compares the rebukes of the righteous thereunto; and therefore he adds, so'ng 2-58, “it shall not break my head.” Considering reproofs in their own nature, he calls them "smitings;”-some of them being very sharp, as it is needful they should be where we are obliged to rebuke åroróuws, “in a piercing and cutting manner,” 2 Cor. xiii. 10; Tit. i. 13. But with respect unto their use, benefit, and advantage, they are like unto that anointing oil which, being poured on the head, was both gentle and pleasant, and a pledge of the communication of spiritual privileges, whence no inconveniences would ensue.

The last clause of the words belonging not unto our present design, I shall not insist on their explication.

Some few things must be farther premised unto our principal intention concerning the nature of those reproofs, which are proposed as a matter of such advantage in the text. And,

1. The word na, here used, signifieth, “to argue, to dispute, to contend in judgment,”-as well as "to reprove, rebuke, or reprehend." Its first signification is -" to argue," or "to plead a cause with arguments.”. Hence it is used as a common'term between God and man, denoting the reasons, real, or pretended only, on the one side and the other. So God himself speaks unto his people, onu! , Isa. i. 18, “Go to, now, and let us plead," reason or argue,"together;" and Job calls his pleas or arguments in prayer unto God, ninain, chap. xxiii. -4, "I would fill my mouth with arguments." Wherefore, that only hath the true nature of a reproof, which is accompanied with reasons and arguments for the evincing of what it tends unto. Rash, groundless, wrathful; precipitate censures and rebukes, are evil in themselves, and, in our present case, of no consideration. Nor, indeed, ought any one to engage in the management of reproofs, who is not furnished with rule and argument to evince their necessity, and render them effectual. Sometimes things may be so circumstanced, as that a reproof shall so carry

its

own reason and efficacious conviction along with it, that there will be no need of arguing or pleas to make it useful. So the look of our blessed Saviour on Peter, under the circumstances of his case, was a sufficient reproof, though he spake not one word in its confirmation. But ordinarily, cogent reasons are the best cotiveyances of reproofs to the minds of men, be thev ut what sort they will.

2. Keproofs do always respect a fault, an evil, a miscarriage, or a sin, in them that are reproved. There may be mutual admonitions ano exhortations among Christians, with respect unto sundry things in the course of their faith and obedience, without a regard unto any evil or miscarriage. The general nature of a reproof is an admonition or exhortation; but it hath its special nature from its regard unto a fault in course, or particular fact. And hence the word signifies also “ to chastise;" wherein is a correction for, and the means of a recovery from, a miscarriage, 2 Sam. vii. 14, “I will reprove him with the rod of men;" that is, chastise him. This, therefore, is that reproof which we intend,-a warning, admonition, or exhortation, given unto any, whereby they are rebuked for, and with respect unto, some moral evil or sin in their course, way, practice, or any particular miscarriage, such as may render them obnoxious unto divine displeasure or chastisement; for it is essential unto a regular reproof, that, in him who gives it, it may be accompanied with, or do proceed from, an apprehension that the person reproved is, by the matter of the reproof, rendered obnoxious unto the displeasure of God.

3. It may also be considered, that reproving is not left arbitrarily unto the wills of men. Whatever seems to be so, it loseth its nature if it be not a duty in him who reproves, and will come short of its efficacy No wise man will reprove, but when it is his duty so to do, unless he design the just reproach of a busy-body for his reWard. The command is general, with respect unto brother and neighbour, Lev. xix. 17, “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him.” But as to the particular discharge of this work as a duty, there must be either an especial office or an especial relation, or a concurrence of circumstances for its warranty. God hath, in his wisdom and care, given rules and bounds unto our engagement unto duties; without a regulation whereby we shall wander in them with, endless dissatisfactions unto ourselves, and unnecessary provocatiors unto others. But the duty of reproving, with the love, wisdom, teaderness, and compassion required in the discharge of it,-its motives, ends, and circumstances,—its proper rules and limitations,-fall not under my present consideration; but these things in general were necessary to be premised unto what do so.

That which the text instructs us in may be comprised in this general observation:

Observation. Reproofs, though accompanied with some sharpness, if rightly received and duly improved, are a mercy and advantage incomparably above all the satisfactions which a joint consent with others in sin and pleasures can afford.

The latter part of the proposition I have mentioned only to express the balance that is proposed by the psalmist between the best and most desiravie advantages of wicked society in the one hand, and the sharpest or most displeasing seventies trat accompany the cormunion of the righteous or godly. But I shall not at all handle the comparison, as designing only some directions how men should behare themselves under reproofs, that they may be a kindness, and an excellent oil unto them; or how they may by them obtain spiritual benefit and advantage unto their own souls. And this, however at present the matter may be managed, is of itself of great importance. For as, in the state of weakness and imperfection, of mistakes and miscarriages, wherein we are, there is no outward help or aid of more use and advantage unto us than seasonable reproofs; so in the right receiving and improving of them, as high a trial of the spirits of men, as to their interest in wisdom and folly, doth consist, as in any thing that doth befall them, or wherewith they may be exercised. For as scorners of reproofs, those that hear them unwillingly, that bear them haughtily and impatiently, with designs of revenge or disdainful retortions, have the characters of pride and folly indelibly fixed on them by the Holy Ghost; so their due admission and improvement is in the same infallible truth represented as an evident pledge of wisdom, and an effectual means of its increase. This is so much and so frequently insisted on in that great treasure of all wisdom

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