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things, putting on charity, which is the bond of perfectness ;” and in all our controversies and disputes upon points of doctrine, endeavouring to “ keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Thus, obeying him with fidelity, we may look forward with confidence, and exult in the glowing anticipation of that thrice happy period, when, this vail of flesh being rent in twain, we shall discern, and enjoy for ever, “the glorious Majesty of the LORD OUR God.”
ELUCIDATION OF THE FORTY-NINTH PSALM.
PSALM XLIX. VER. 20.
“ Man, being in honour, hath not understanding ; but is com
pared unto the beasts that perish.
In this bold and animated production, the Psalmist displays the deplorable folly of those worldlings, who, elated with the pride of temporal prosperity, neglect the great, the only great, concern of every human being. His language is highly poetical and energetic, and the images, though common and obvious, are so forcibly delineated, that they cannot fail to impress the imagination, and come home to the heart of every one, who marks them with due attention, and thinks and feels as he ought. I have adopted the old translation, in selecting the text, because,
ELUCIDATION OF THE FORTY-NINTH PSALM.
being used in the daily service of the Church, and inserted in every“ Book of Common Prayer," it is much more familiar to the generality of Christians; though the subsequent version, in our Bibles, is, for the most part, far more correct and perspicuous, and expresses much better the sense of the original. I shall take a general view of the whole of this sacred ode,—for so it may justly be called,-pointing out such verbal emendations as are warranted by the language in which it was written, and may tend to render the entire composition more clear and consistent.
The Psalmist begins by a striking invocation, inviting all people, of every rank and degree, to hearken to the moral lay. “ Hear ye this, all ye people; ponder it with your ears, all ye that dwell in the world ; high and low, rich and poor, one with another. My mouth shall speak of wisdom, and my heart shall muse of understanding.” Wisdom is the theme of my song; that wisdom which lies open to the search of every class. “ I will incline mine ear to the parable, and show my dark speech,"—or rather, as in the Bible, “ I will open my dark saying, upon the harp :" the harmony of music shall be employed
to convey the figurative and solemn warning. “Wherefore should I fear in the days of wickedness, and when the wickedness of my heels compasseth me round about ?” Why should fear restrain me, though encompassed by wickedness ? What is here called “ the wickedness of my heels,” might be, perhaps, better expressed by the wickedness that follows and presses close upon
The pious author then enters upon the general subject of his meditation; the common but lamentable effects of continued prosperity; which, in every age and country, and under every form of religion, perverts the understanding, and steels the heart to the great truths of morality and piety. Riches are sometimes the cause of extreme dissoluteness and profligacy of manners. As they furnish the means of vice, wherever there is a strong propensity to sensuality, it is great chance but they render their owner intemperate and debauched; or, when covetousness is the ruling passion, the increase of wealth only begets a keener appetite for more; and the sordid possessor, wrapped up in himself, and his hoarded treasure, becomes wholly insensible to the calls of benevolence and humanity. But, even when there is no strong bias to no
torious vice, there is great danger, lest a plentiful estate, and over-abundant income, should work that mischievous effect on the disposition, which our Saviour represents in his parable of the rich man ; who, when his grounds brought forth so plenteously that he had no longer room to bestow his fruits, determined to enlarge his barns, and sit down in thoughtless repose, as perfectly secure of many years' enjoyment. He, like those of whom the Psalmist here speaks,“ put his trust in his goods, and boasted himself in the multitude of his riches ;” not reflecting, that “ life consisteth not in abundance;" that unlimited
possessions are no defence from death; and that when He, who gave him existence, should be pleased to take it away, all the stores in his granaries, and all the gold in his coffers, could not buy an hour's reprieve.
“ For no man," continues the Psalmist,“ may deliver his brother, nor make agreement unto God for himself. For it costs more to redeem their souls; so that he must let that alone for ever-yea, though he live long, and see not the grave.” The connection here is not very obvious: the more literal reading is this : “ He that ceaseth for ever yet shall liveto all eternity he shall not see corruption.” This