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supposed himself the inheritor, proves that the friendship which David could inspire was of no common kind. Men are not held up to the admiration of their species, from age to age, for trifling or common-place perfections; the friendship of David and Jonathan is not less to be held in honour than that of Damon and Pythias; nor is there any reason to suppose that these former would not have been as ready to sacrifice their lives for each other, had it been necessary, as were also the others.
We have reserved to the last, the charge made against the sincerity of David's piety and the depth of his penitence, involving, as they do, the truthfulness of the entire character. Mr. Maccall says, that he is allowed to have struck the lyre with a master-hand. This praise he could not withhold. “ Yet,” he goes on to say, “ was he utterly ignorant of true piety and true penitence.” This writer then tells us himself
, what true piety and true penitence mean; doubtless, he knows what is meant by the prostration of an humbled heart far better than he who cried, “ Give me a clean heart, O God! and renew a right spirit within
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation. Look upon my affliction and my pain; and forgive all my sin. The sins of my youth, remember them not; but according to thy mercy remember thou me." It is needless to multiply quotations with which all are familiar. These expressions of anguish may not seem to be penitence in the sight of men; but, sure we are, they were acceptable in the sight of God. Who shall say, that his fits of devotion were the “ unavailing aimings of his soul to tear itself from the stingings of remorse”? Except God be with him, who shall speak as David did in the Book of Psalms ? Does the great God give such a privilege as this to the impious and irrecovered, to be the leader of the devotional exercises of his church in every age, and, for aught we can tell, throughout all eternity? Show me any bard in our own day, who, wanting himself in every Christian grace, has yet been able to fill the lips of the holy or the penitent with suitable adorations and confessions, and to pierce to the heart's depths. There may, indeed, be some of those who have from time to time recorded their penitence in burning words; but they have not so delighted in divine love, as to be able to say continually, My soul fainteth for thy salvation. It is indeed true, that every man has not stolen the wife of his neighbour, or circumvented the life of her husband. God forbid! But all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; those who do not think so, as well as those who do, and more, for their self-conceit needs to be repented of. Bond or free, male or female, Trinitarian or Unitarian,-all have need of the prostration of the heart, of the deep expressions of penitence, the holy strains of adoration; and for these, if they know where to seek aright, they will be indebted to David, the sweet singer of Israel. If Jehovah gave to him such a privilege, and thus sanctified the genius with which he endowed him, and if yet he were a man incapable of true piety, of effectual penitence, why did the Lord suffer the same fountain to bring forth “sweet water and bitter,"—the waters of holiness refreshing and gladdening every awakened heart, flowing as it were for every individual man's particular case, yet springing from a fountain impure in its very depths? Impossible! it cannot be. We do not thus gather grapes of thorns, and figs of thistles. Mr. Maccall having asserted that David understood not the nature of penitence and piety, and having himself explained it, asserts, “ If this be a true view of penitence and piety, then, most assuredly, David was never either penitent or pious." Let us glance for a moment at part of his definition of piety. "Piety I regard as the entire devotion of the soul to the Deity.” Very good; but has he himself given his entire soul? Has he brought every idol of his heart, and laid it at His footstool? Has he never kept back part of the price? Has he no wanderings to repent of --no looking back? Has his soul no sin to be humbled for? Happy man!—he who has thus got beyond human attainment, has no need of the penitential Psalms of David!
One word more. Mr. Maccall tells us, that it is a “strange fate to be brought forth at once as a warning and an example.” Why strange?--he partook, and perhaps largely, of the inconsistency of human nature. The characters of Holy Writ are drawn for our ensamples. They are true to human nature; or of what use would they be to us? We will glance at a few of them.
Noah, the “ preacher of righteousness," once exceeded; Abraham, “ the pattern of believers,” told once a falsehood, through faithless fear. Jacob, though he became a man of prayer, yet was early guilty of deceit. Joseph plumed himself on his parent's partial love. Moses struck the rock twice. Aaron countenanced idolatry. Eli and Samuel each failed in the bringing up of their children. Elijah once desponded;—and various other instances we find, in this book of human as well as divine nature, that may convince us there is nothing extraordinary in being at once a warning and an example. In the New Testament records, it is the same; because these are also, and preeminently, the words of truth. There was the holy Peter, and yet, after his conversion, instead of always strengthening his brethren, he deserved that a wiser than he should withstand him to the face, “because he was to be blamed.” And Paul, who consented unto the death of the first Christian martyr, was the man who afterwards exclaimed, “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"_the most unrelenting of persecutors, became the most energetic of preachers. Let us look around us. acquainted, it may be, with many worthy persons; yet, on every one of these will be seen the blot of human nature_inconsistency of character; and if it be not seen, it is felt. Yes, felt, lamented, before the unchanging God, lamented in the silence of the closet. The man of self-knowledge is ready to own that this is a taint he has not escaped. In Jesus only do we find perfect consistency; from him only can we learn it.
Are we at liberty to think or to speak hardly of him of whom Jehovah said, when Samuel would have made choice of his brother, “ Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart”? We have taken no notice of David's title, “ the man after God's own heart,”—an expression at which scoffers have railed. For ourselves, we agree with those who believe it to have had reference to David's constant and undeviating zeal to establish firmly in the land, the worship of the One Living and true God; avoiding, as he did, every taint of that vice which afterwards led so many of his successors astray, and had been long a snare to the Lord's people.
We have now, as far as in us lay, endeavoured to reply
to Mr. Maccall; and if we have not had ability to do so as we could have wished, at least we have satisfied our own hearts, in having made the effort to screen from exaggerated censure, one whose life and writings are in many respects so fitted for profit and for instruction in holiness. That scoffers, who seek an excuse for their immorality or unbelief, should speak as they do of this man, we are not surprised; but that one, who evidently is not one of these, should have painted him in such revolting colours, is indeed irreconcileable with every idea of truth or sensibility and we are free to confess, the thought filled our hearts with such deep distress, that we were impelled, though reluctantly, to take up the pen to give our own impression of his character, from a long and close study of his life and writings; throughout which, our impression has ever been, that his failuresand his crimes, we are sorry to add-were more to be wept for than railed at. And we cannot avoid thinking, that one who wishes well to religion, should be more careful how he thus, like the Philistine,“ defies the armies of the living God.” His saints and his prophets, these are the armies of the LORD of Hosts.
“ Let all nations fear the Lord; let the whole earth stand in awe of him." DUBLIN, Nov. 1840.
A BRIEF EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW.
(Continued from p. 14.)
Chapter IX. VERSES 1-3, “ And he entered into a ship, and passed over, and came into his own city. And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus, seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.”
The Greek word, Braoonpurce, frequently translated blasphemy in the Authorised Version, properly signifies calumny, detraction, reproachful or abusive language, no matter against whom it is vented. We may “blaspheme” men as well as God, our neighbours as well as our Creator; that is, we may utter calumny, or detraction, or abusive language against them. Thus, “ blasphemy," “ to blaspheme,” &c. are, in the New Testament, very frequently applied to reproaches not uttered against God; and in the greater part of these instances, King James's translators have not rendered them literally, but have substituted such words and phrases as “rail,” “revile," “ speak evil against.” Thus, in Rom. iii. 8, Paul writes, “ And not rather (as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say), Let us do evil that good may come.” The word rendered - slanderously reported,” is, in the Greek, “it is blasphemed against us." Here Paul and his friends were “ blasphemed,” or “blasphemy” was uttered against them. In the same letter (xiv. 16), the Apostle exhorts the members of the Church in Rome, “ Let not then your good be evil spoken of.” In the Greek it is literally,“ Let not your good be blasphemed.” Hence it appears that it was possible to utter “ blasphemy” against the Roman Christians. In 1 Cor. iv. 12, 13, Paul says, “ Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it; being defamed, we entreat." The word rendered “ being defamed,” is, in the original, being blasphemed. In his letter to Titus (iii. 1, 2), the Apostle advises him to put the Cretans in mind “to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, to speak evil of no man.” The words translated “to speak evil of no man,” are, in the original, “ to blaspheme no man.” From these quotations it plainly appears, that it is possible to “ blaspheme," " to speak blasphemously of,” “ to utter blasphemy against" our fellow-creatures, human beings. Hence also it is apparent, that the meaning of “to blaspheme,” is “to report slanderously,” “to speak evil of,” “ to defame.” These are the significations attached to it in our Bibles, whenever the Greek words are really translated; for it is not translating the word Braconura to render it blasphemy,” nor is it translating the word Braconusi to render it “to blaspheme;" this is not translating, it is simply retaining the original word, and transplanting it into our own language, with merely such a change of termination as will make it resemble other English words. The import of the word “ blasphemy,” accordingly, is