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And there is a great reason why the Holy Ghost joins rejoicing with trembling; for if pure rejoicing were felt without fear, security would follow, and presumption would follow upon security, and damnation upon presumption : for presumption God cannot endure. And we shall then rightly mingle these things if we rejoice in God, and remain confounded in ourselves : for we are not only foolish but miserable sinners : and therefore, there is sufficient cause why we should tremble and fear for ourselves.
But we are not to stop here. For if thou never see any thing but that thou art a sinner, despair will follow. Therefore, we must raise our eyes and look at Christ, and then rejoicing will follow upon our fear. For we shall
say thus with ourselves, I am indeed a sinner, bat I will not therefore despair, for Christ is righteous. Yea, Christ has taken all my sins upon himself, and has died and risen again that I might clothe myself with his righteousness. And, if I have no wisdom myself
, he is made of God wisdom unto me. If I am poor and needy, he is powerful and rich.
This then is that pure worship, with which Christ will be worshipped by us, kept wholly separate from all superstitions : for the Holy Ghost pays no regard to these, nor to any of the other inventions of human wisdom. Let us, therefore, worship God thus, and keep this worship distinct from all external things. For God regards not whether thou be a master or a servant, a husband or an unmarried man, a male or a female, a teacher or a disciple. These are all human conditions, or creatures, of which the Lord has permitted us to be the lords and rulers. He regards not whether thou fast or feast. All these things, saith he, are nothing to me and my worship. My worship is to reverence me, to receive all things of me, to acknowledge me, to speak of me, to proclaim and declare that all things are mine which are found throughout the whole world, and to confess that ye are without me, sinners, fools, and helpless : and also to acknowledge that I am not a tyrant; that I do not humble you because I desire your destruction,
but that I
from pride and teach you to be humble.
And, says God, as I have wrought all this by the cross, my will is, that ye should lift up yourselves again, and raise your heads and your eyes unto my Christ. For if
feel the want of wisdom, or righteousness, or strength, you will find in him a fountain of all wisdom and righteousness: and thus ye will serve me with fear and rejoice with trembling. There is, indeed, a great portion of fear in our feelings, and a very small degree of rejoicing; and yet the latter through spiritual might at length prevails and triumphs.
When I was young I used to hate this verse, for I did not much like to hear that God was to be feared. And all this was because I did not know that joy was to be mingled with rejoicing or hope: that is, I did not know the difference between our works and the works of Christ. All our works are evil, because our whole nature is evil : therefore, we ought not to be secure but to fear the judgment of God. On the other hand, the works of Christ are holy and perfect: therefore we ought to hold fast the hope of mercy: because Christ was not born and made under the law, and crucified for himself, but he wished all these to be free gifts for us and for our sakes.
Therefore, let us so fear, that rejoicing may not be wholly excluded; for our rejoicing ought to be a true rejoicing: because it is not so concealed in the heart, but that signs of it appear outwardly. A peaceful mind, and one that is assured that God for Christ's sake is reconciled unto us, produces a joyful countenance and gladdened eyes, and lets loose the tongue to proclaim the praises of God.
In this manner, says the Holy Ghost, shall ye serve this King: there shall be joy both without and within, and yet, joined with reverence: that ye may not become swine and filled with security, and sink down into carnal enjoyment. But if you keep away all security, God is not offended with joyfulness and gladness, nay, he is offended with sorrow and dejectedness, and even enjoins
cheerfulness and gladness. Thus, under the law, it was forbidden that the holy ceremonies should be performed by persons who were sorrowful or mourning. And Malachi saith, that the sacrifices were polluted by mourning. Let us therefore rejoice: but yet so, that we become not secure, but that fear may be mingled with our joy, and hope with our fear.
This, therefore, is an exhortation that is against the proud, and in favour of the weak, who are too much cast down by their humiliation. For it is equally blasphemy either to despair or to presume. For God will not have us mount up to heaven nor sink under the earth, but keep in the royal mid-way. For our feet are naturally inclined to sink downwards, and our head to mount upwards. And yet, although we live upon the earth, we are commanded to have our conversation in heaven.' - In a word, they that are real Christians, are neither wholly fearful nor wholly joyful. Their joy is mingled with fear, their hope with trembling, their laughing with tears; but they are fully persuaded that they shall fully and uninterruptedly rejoice when they have laid down this flesh; which as it cannot cast away its fear, so it is useful to keep us in a proper degree, that we become not secure.
In this manner, then, has this Psalm defined and set forth the worship of God: and this is the true religion: -to fear God, and to trust in God. Where these two are rightly tempered, the whole life is righteous and hely. All external ceremonies, and all external works of every kind,-- all these things are governed rightly when these two are rightly tempered. And now the Holy Ghost adds the commination and the consolation : that he might thus rightly conclude the prophecy.
Ver. 12.--Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way; for the wrath of God is kindled in a moment. But blessed are all they that trust in him.
To the exhortation is here added a commination most severe: and it is more especially designed to strike at the pride of kings, and the wise, the holy, and all those who trust in the creature out of God. For our nature is so depraved and corrupt, and so prone to presumption and security, when matters go on prosperously with us, that, if the Holy Spirit did not change our hearts, it would be impossible for us to stand. No laws, no punishments, can restrain this corrupt principle of nature. Nothing but a voice sounding from heaven in our conscience can keep off our pride, and temper joy and rejoicing with fear.
With respect to the grammatical particularities of this passage, all those who are acquainted with the Hebrew know that wé are not to read here “apprehend” as the Latin text has it, but “ kiss : ” we will therefore leave the LXX. to themselves, but we will not be so taught the true meaning of the Hebrew.
And what the LXX. have rendered Opacaolat Taidelav is in the Hebrew, BAR: the signification of which word is very extensive.
extensive. It is a noun adjective, and signifies 'pure,' elect,' “ choice,' &c. And therefore Hieronymus has rendered the passage, ' Adore purely.' But, by a figure of speech, which often turns a common into a proper noun, this word is frequently transferred to other things ; and hence, wheat or corn on account of its intrinsic excellence, is often called BAR. And it is in this way that we understand many passages of the Apostle Paul, the prophet David, the philosopher Aristotle, &c. For on account of the excellence of a thing, as I have often said, a noun common is frequently made a noun proper. Thus Christ, because of his excellence, is often called the just, the wise, the Priest, the Son of Man, the King, &c.
In this same way also bar signifies, substantively, a 'son,' as being a thing very precious, dear, and sweet to parents. If David, therefore, had wished to speak in plain Hebrew, he would have used the word ben, but he uses the word Bar in the same signification, by a figurative expression, in order that he might hide this prophecy from the eyes of the devil and the wicked, who are not worthy to look into these things. - This is the true meaning and design of this expression, as far as I am enabled to understand it. In the 19th Psalm, we have it put adjectively, “ The commandment (or law) of the Lord is pure;” but the Latin translation has 'clear.'
But you will say, perhaps, what is the design and meaning of the expression
“ kiss?”It signifies properly a ceremony. There are various kinds of kisses. The spouse saith in the Song, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth." This is a kiss of love and most fervent affection. And therefore, Paul also saith, Greet
ye one another with a holy kiss." There is another kiss on the hands also, and that, according to our customs, is doing homage; and this is what we use towards those whom we acknowledge as our superiors.—There is another kiss on the feet also, by which extreme humility is signified; this Christ used at his last supper, that he might make himself the least in the kingdom of heaven and the servant of all. For he was made our servant, and had us for his masters, when he laboured for, our sakes and bore our sins.
Hieronymus, therefore, did not render the passage literally, but in substance, when he translated it thus, *Adore purely.' But he erred in rendering the noun BAR adverbially. If he had rendered it as a noun he would have been-right, “Adore the pure, (or pure one) the elect, the precious. Thus we also often say, 'my light,''my dear heart,' &c.
The Holy Spirit, therefore, here in the most beautifully figurative, and the plainest words, commends unto us the Son of God. “Kiss the Son,” saith he : that is, submit yourselves to him, fall down before him, humble yourselves, acknowledge your subjection,—to whom? at whose feet? at the feet of the all-precious, the allbeloved, the all-pure One, in whom the Father is wellpleased; as he himself has testified from heaven, “This is my beloved Son.” And Christ himself also says by John, “ The Father loveth the Son.” And they are these very expressions that this Psalm embraces, and of which it prophesies, when it calls the Son Bar, As if it were said, “He is my beloved, my elect, my pure One, in whom my soul delighteth. Therefore, adore him who