« ForrigeFortsæt »
Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name :
the righicous shall compass me aboul, for shou husi deale Sounci. fully with me.
DAVID wrote this psalm in a time of great affliction. And his affliction was of such a nature, that he considered it as a kind of imprisonment. Perhaps he was hidden in the cave of Adul. lam, or Engeddi, whither he had retreated for se. curity from Saul's pursuing army. Here he poured out his complaint before God. He saw no way of escape, no human means of deliverance. He looked on the right hand; and there was none who would know him; no man cared for his soul. In this dis. tress he thus cried to the Lord, “ Thou art my refuge, my portion in the Land of the livig; attend to my cry, for I am brought very low. Deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than 1. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name. The righteous shall compass me about.” Thy mercy to ipe
shall attract the admiration of all Vol. II.
good men, who will join with me in songs of thanksgiving
We may here observe, That there are some troubles, which much re. senible an imprisonment, and in which humble souls apply to God for deliverance.
That one argument, which the humble plead for deliverance, is that God's name may be praised.
I. There are troubles in this world, which may be called an imprisonment.
The prisoner is in a state of confinement, secluded from friends, shut up in solitude, or in company which is worse than solitude, has no pow. er to efiect his own deliverance, and, in some cases, little hope of obtaining it.
There are other cases so much resembling this, that they may be called by the same name.
A state of sickness and infirmity is a species of imprisonment. The afflicted person is confined to his house, perhaps to his bed, and finds no rest even there. He is full of, tossings. He says in the morning, When will it be evening ? And in the evening, when will it be morning?
He loathes his necessary food; forgets to eat bread, or eats with disgust. He cannot go forth to pursue the occupations, mingle in the company, of participate in the pleasures of the world, or to view the beauties of nature and contemplate the bounties of providence.
He is in a measure, secluded from social con. verse ; he may through weakness be incapable of it, or through long confinement have become as a dead man out of sight, and out of mind. Hence James recommends it, as an essential Christian duty, that we visit those who are in affliction. It is a high encomium, which Christ bestows on his faithful friends : " I was sick and ye visited me, I was in prison and ye came unto me.”
It is to pious souls a great aggravation of this af. fiction, that they are deprived of the privilege of social worship : They once rejoiced with them who said, “Come, and let us go up to the house of God : Great pleasure and improvement they have often found in the sanctuary. Often have their souls been comforted and enlivened by attending on divine ordinances. When they remember these things, they pour out their souls within them ; for they had gone with the multitude ; they went with them to the house of God with the voice of joy and praise. “ This thing they desire of the Lord ; this they seek after, that they may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of their life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple."
Some, in their sickness, may reflect, with pain. ful regret, on their past criminal neglect of the sacred privileges of the sanctuary. Solomon speaks of those, who mourn at the last, when their flesh * and their body are consumed, and say, “How have we hated instruction, and our heart despised re. proof ?"
Another painful circumstance, which often attends a state of sickness, is a fear of its consequences. There are many who through fear of death are subject to bondage. This bondage to fear increases as death seems to approach.
Sickness gives them a more sensible apprehension of the nearness, certainty and solemnity of death, than they have usually felt in former days. They now Jament their past neglect of selfexamination, and their past inattention to the state of their souls. They now long for those hopes and comforts, which spring from a consciousness of godly sincerity. They think, they could bear the pains of sickness with patience, and meet the change of death with serenity, if they could assure their hearts before God. In this state of mind they pray, “O God,
bring our souls out of prison, that we may live and praise thy name." Deliver us, that we may repaip past neglects, resume past privileges, and acquire consoling hopes--My friends, in the day of health lay a foundation for comfortable hopes and reflections in sickness.
Again; Old age is a kind of imprisonment. It is attended with all the painful circumstances of sickness, and with this additional one, that there is no hope of being liberated from this prison, till death brings a discharge. Happy the aged saint, who can contemplate this discharge, as his final deliverance from bondage, and his introduction to the glorious liberty of the sons of God. When he sees his prison walls giving way, and feels them tottering around him, he looks through the opening crevices with pleasure, and beholds with trans, port the heavenly light which darts through them. He lifts up his head with joy, for his redemption draws near. He anticipates with gladness the ap. proaching hour, when he shall leap from his prison ; shall escape from the sinful company, in which he has long been detained, and shall find himself compassed about with the righteous, with angels and the spirits of the just, who will join with him in songs of praise, that the Lord hath dealt bountifully with him.
But how gloomy and dismal is the period of declining life, to the conscious sinner, who has lived a stranger to God and religion, and is now a stranger to peace and hope ? His soul is in prison-in painful confinement and dreary darkness. And yet here he wishes to remain. He dreads the day, , when his soul shall be brought out of prison ; for this deliverance will be only for consignment to a more doleful dungeon, from which there is no es cape, and no redemption.
How wise are they, who in early life, prepare for old age who by a seasonable attention to piety and religion provide for themselves the comforts of a good conscience and a good hope against that evil day, when all worldly prospects shall be cut off, and earthly pleasures flown away. To this early preparation wisdom urges you, ye youths : Obey her, and she will preserve you.
Solomon, speaking of the evils incident to age, says, “ Those that look out of the windows are darkened, and the daughters of musick are brought low.” The failure of sight and hearing is a calamity to the aged ; a much greater calamity to the young. The former have enjoyed these faculties for many years, and expect not to need them much longer. The latter hope for future years; but gloomy is the thought, that those years are to pass in prison—in solitude and darkness—in a useless or unsocial confinement. The person deprived of hearing is alone in the midst of company. He tastes none of the pleasures, and enjoys none of the benefits of friendly conversation, and he is exclud. ed from the sacred privileges of the sanctuary, which were once his delight,
Blindness is a calamity still more grievous. It places the sufferer, not merely in a prison, but in a dungeon. He can no more vicw the beauties of nature and the wonders of creation. He can no more behold those stupendous works, which dis. play the majesty, wisdom and goodness of God, To him the sun and moon and stars, which show the Creator's glory, are extinguished. The disc tinction of day and night is lost. The book of na. ture is a universal blank. The book of revelation is shut and sealed. He can no more refresh his weary spirits, revive his pious sentiments, improve his religious knowledge, enliven his devout affections, and strengthen his holy resolutions, br retir