« ForrigeFortsæt »
hold of the right hand of God and cleave to it; and say, "I shall not die," as thou Satan, or thou tyrant threatenest me with death, and declarest and thinkest that I shall die. Thou liest, I say; "I shall not die but live." But I do not speak of my own, or of human works. I will know nothing now of myself, or of my holiness, but of the works of God. They are what I now look to. It is them that I have now before me. I speak of them. I boast of them. I declare them. I place and rest all my confidence in them. It is God who delivers me from sins and from death. If thou canst overthrow these works, and this right hand, then thou wilt overthrow me!
Thus, this verse comprehends those two things contained in the sixth and seventh verses: -- consolation and salvation: or, that help which God bringeth to the godly and the righteous. And here, you see how it is that the right hand of God animates, raises up, and establishes their hearts; and so powerfully comforts them in the midst of death, that they can say, Though I die, yet I do not die. Though I suffer, yet I do not suffer. Though I fall, yet I do not utterly fall, I do not give up, I do not perish. Though I am confused and loaded with ignominy, yet I am not confused and loaded with ignominy.Here is the consolation!
Moreover, he speaks of the salvation thus:-" but I shall live." And is not this salvation and this help, wonderful?-When dying, he lives! When suffering, he rejoices! When falling, he rises up! When loaded with the greatest ignominy, he enjoys the highest glory and honour! So Christ also saith, John xi. "He that believeth in me shall never die," And, And, "Though he were dead, yet shall he live." So also speaketh the apostle Paul, 2 Cor. iv. "We are troubled on every side, but not distressed persecuted, but not forsaken: cast down, but not destroyed." These words cannot be understood by a natural and carnal heart.
Here then you see, that this consolation and salvation are life eternal, which is the true and eternal blessing of God: and this the whole Psalm intimates.
For as the Psalmist distinctively separates the company of those who fear God, from those three classes of men; and as he ascribes to those three classes of men, all things which are in this life upon earth; that is, to the first, political administration, or earthly rule; to the second, administration in spiritual things or ecclesiastical rule; to the third, the use and enjoyment of all creatures and all good things; it of necessity follows, that, that blessing, namely, another life, that is, eternal life, is given to the remaining small company of those that fear God. And seeing that those three classes or kinds of men envy this small company the blessings and enjoyments of this life, and tear them from them; it is necessary, that this their consolation be eternal consolation, and that this their salvation be eternal salvation. And what else can it be but eternal salvation, when they can boast of, and glory in, the Lord himself, above and beyond all those good things of princes and of men, in which those others abound? For the Lord is an eternal good!
And any one can easily collect, determine, and prove within himself, that where the heart feels that it has God favourable to it, there must be remission of sins. And if sins be taken away, then death is taken away. And where this is the case, there must be a consolation, and a persuasion of eternal righteousness and eternal life. This is a certainty of all certainties!
We must therefore observe in this verse, a singular skill; where the Psalmist so intrepidly, and so powerfully, drives away and removes death from his eyes, where he will not allow himself to know any thing of sins or of death, and where he so diligently sets and fixes life before his eyes, that he will know nothing whatever but life. And he who lives for ever, never sees death; as Christ saith, John iii. "He that heareth my word, shall never see death."
Thus he throws himself entirely into the ocean of life, that death may be wholly swallowed up of life, and may utterly disappear. And this takes place, from his cleaving unto the "right hand" of God with a steady
faith. Thus it is that all the saints have sung this verse, and thus it is that all the saints ought to sing it down to the last day. But we see this more particularly in the holy martyrs. Here, before the world, they seem to expire and die: but yet, their heart with a firm faith says, "I shall not die but live." Whenever therefore the saints, either in the Psalms or in any other part of the scripture, call upon God; whenever they pray for consolation and help; the things their hearts are upon, are, eternal life, and the resurrection from the dead. All those petitions and scriptures have reference to the resurrection from the dead, and to eternal life; yea, to the whole of the third part of the Creed concerning the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the remission of sins, the resurrection from the dead, and eternal life. This must be diligently observed. And all these things flow from those words of the commandment, "I am the Lord thy God:" these few words, comprehend most fully that third part of the Creed. For when the saints complain that they die and are afflicted, in this life; and when they console themselves with the hope, not of this, but of another life, yea, with the hope of God himself who is above and beyond this life; it is impossible that they can die, or not enjoy eternal life; and that, not only because God, to whom they cleave, and in`whom they place all their hope and expectation, cannot die, and because they must therefore live in and through him; but because, God cannot be the God of those who are dead or who are nothing, but must be the God of the living, as Christ saith; and therefore, they must live for ever. For, if God did not live for ever, he could not be the true God and their God, nor could they cleave unto him. Hence death is not death to the saints, but a sleep.
And if this be true; if they live in God; then this, of necessity, also follows; - that they have remission of sins. And if their sins be forgiven them, then it is certain they have the Holy Ghost whereby they are sanctified. And if they be sanctified, or saints, then they are the true and holy church, and that "little flock" of
Christ which shall overcome the power of Satan, rise again, and live for ever. Behold! these are the great and glorious works of the "right hand of the Lord!" And what, I pray you, are all the works of men and potentates, in which the whole world trusts, compared with these! They are "spiders webs," as Isaiah saith; which cannot be made garments, nor any thing else wherewith a man may cover himself; and which are of no other use, than to catch wandering and foolish flies and gnats, that is, vain spirits and souls, that they may perish in eternal death!
Moreover, the saints not only live in the life to come, but also begin to live here by faith. For wheresoever there is faith, there eternal life is begun. And the passages of scripture concerning faith, have reference to all those articles above-mentioned. For in those first three classes, there is no need of faith, as to this present life, because the ungodly enjoy this life to the full. Nor can faith cleave to, and rest on, any thing that is of moment or value in this life; for it always goes forth and mounts higher, and cleaves to that which is above and beyond this life, even to God himself.
And that the saints enter upon eternal life in this life, and live even in death, is taught also by this verse; where it says, "and I shall declare the works of the Lord" for he who shall declare the works of the Lord must be alive. But the spirit and blood of the dead also celebrate the works of the Lord, and proclaim them. Thus the blood of Abel "cried out" against Cain, Gen. iv. And, Heb. xi. we read that Abel, "being dead, yet speaketh." But this verse greatly offends tyrants, more than any other in the scriptures;--that those, whom they suppose to be dead, silent, and altogether forgotten, should now more than ever begin to live and to speak. And indeed they say the truth, when they say, that it is not safe to mock and trifle with the saints, if, when they are dead they then more immediately enter upon, execute, and promote that, for the doing of which they were killed out of the way, and never cease; and, especially, seeing that they cannot be killed or have their
mouths stopped again, bnt will declare the works of the Lord to all eternity!
The Pope burnt John Huss, and many other saints and excellent men; and lately also Leonard Keiser, and a great many more men who truly feared God. But, I pray you, what advantage did he procure to himself by so doing? His endeavours were of great service to him, indeed! and he stopped their mouths to great effect! For does not their blood now cry out against the Pope, without cessation? And has it not hitherto so effectually cried out, that the Pope has lost nearly all his power, and is compelled to become a beggar, and to implore the help of others, even the assistance of kings and princes, over whom, before, he held such absolute sway that he actually trampled them under his feet? And had not those kings, princes, and potentates, come to his help, and propped up his tottering kingdom, that poor miserable beggar would long ago have been a prey to the worms. But however, that he begged for help and wretched assistance, will little profit him after all. For, at length, he shall be deserted by all, and shall be compelled to acknowledge John Huss his conqueror, and himself conquered by him!
The Lord hath chastened me sore, but he hath not given me over unto death.
In this 18th verse of this triumphal song, the Psalmist displays a wonderful skill: that is, a rhetorical confutation, humiliation, and interpretation. Lord hath chastened me sore, (saith he) but he hath not given me over unto death." What is the meaning of this? He glories that he "shall not die but live." But the flesh, the world, men, and princes declare the contrary and their clamours confuse and torture the godly man's heart, and try to break his spirit and to drive him to despair. Aha, say they, is this your living, when you are burnt, when your head is taken off, when you are drowned, murdered, condemned, and exterminated? If