Page images
PDF
EPUB

severity of God's justice in a procedure thereoo ; with the inevitable ruin of all finners, if God insist on that way of dealing with them, have also been opened and manifested from the foregoing verses.

But in this estate, perplexed in itself, loft in and upder the consideration of God's marking iniquity according to the tenor of the law, that which it fixes on, from whence any relief, stay, or supportment might be expected in such a condition, is laid down in this verse.

Ver. 4. But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou

mayesi be feared.

I shall first open the words as to their signification and importance; then thew the design of the psalmist in them, with reference to the soul whose condition is here represented; and, lastly, propose the general truths contained in them, wherein all our concernments do lie.

There is forgiveness, inaspàs say the LXX and Hierom accordingly propitiatio, propitiation ; which is somewhat more than venia or pardon, as by some it is rendered.

Candonatio ipsa, forgiveness itself. It is from 750 to spare, to pardon, to forgive, to be propitious; and is opposed to 2017 a word composed of the same letters varied, which is common in that language, fignifying to · cut off, and destroy,

Now, it is constantly applied unto fin, and expresseth every thing that concurs to its pardon or forgiveness. As,

First, It exprefferh the mind or will of pardoning, or God's gracious readiness to forgive, Psal. lxxxvi. Thou, Lord, art good and ready to forgive, zensòs xar imens, benigo and meek, or sparing, propitious, of a gracious merciful heart and nature. So Neh. ix. 17. Thou art, a God propitiationum, of propitiations or pardons; or as we rendered it, ready to forgive, a God of forgive. nefles; or all pleaty of them is in thy gracious heart,

5.

Isa. lv. 8. So that thou art always ready to make out pardons to sinners. The word is used again, Dan. ix. 9. to the same purpose.

Secondly, It regards the act of pardoning, or actual forgiveness itself, Pfal. ciii. 3. in the Heb. who forgiva eth all thine iniquities, actually dischargeth thee of them ; which the apostle respecting, renders the word by zapoor å puevos, Col. jii. 13. Having freely forgiven you,

for fo much the word imports, all your trespales,

And this is the word that God useth in the covenant, in that great promise of grace and pardon, Jer. xxxi. 34.

It is warrantable for us, yea necessary to take the word in the utmost extent of its fignification and use. It is a word of favour, and requires an interpretation towards the enlargement of it. We see it may be rendered inaskids or propitiation, xapıs or grace, and wenia or pardon, and may denote these three things.

First, The gracious, tender, merciful heart and will of God; who is the God of pardons and forgiveness, or one ready to forgive, to give out mercy, to add pardon.

Secondly, A respect unto Jesus Christ, the only incomis, or propitiation for fin, as he is exprelly called, Rom. iii. 25. 1 John ii. 2. And this is that which interposeth between the gracious heart of God, and the actual pardon of finners: All forgiveness is founded on propitiation.

Thirdly, It denotes condonation or actual forgiveness itself, as we are made partakers of it; comprizing it both actively, as it is an act of grace in God, and passively, as terminated in our souls, with all the deliverance that attends it. In this fenfe as it looks downwards, and in its effects respects us, it is of mere grace; and it looks upwards to its causes, and respects the Lord Christ, it is from propitiation or atonement; and this is that pardon which is administred in the covenant of grace.

Now, as to the place which these words enjoy in his psalm, and their relation to the state and condici

[ocr errors]

on of the soul here mentioned this feems to be their importance.

* O Lord, although this must be granted, that if " thou shouldst mark iniquities according to the tenor of " the law, every man living mult perish, and that for “ ever ; yet there is hope for my foul, that even I, who “am in the depths of ln-intanglements, may find ac

ceptance with thee; for whill I am putting my mouth " in the dust, if fo be there may be hope, I find that “there is an atonement, a propitiation made for sin, on " the account whereof thou fagest thou hast found á “ ransom, and wilt not deal with them that come unto “ thee, according to the severity and exigence of thy

justice; but art gracious, loving, tender, ready to “ forgive and pardon, and doft so accordingly; THERE

IS FORGIVENESS WITH THE E.

The following words, therefore thou malt be feared, or that thou mayest be feared, though in the original free from ambiguity, yet are so figpally varied by interpreters, that it may not be amiss to take notice of it in our passage.

The Targum hath it, That thou mayest be seen. This answers not the word, but it doth the sense of the place well enough. God in his displeasure is said to hide himself, or his face, IGS fate from the house of Jacob. By forgiveness we obrain the light of his countenance, this difpells the darkness and clouds that are about bim, and gives us a comfortable prospect of his face and favour. There is forgivenefs with thee, that thou mayest be seen. Besides, there is but one letter different in the original words, and that which is usually changed for the other.

The LXX render them, ivena tv óvómarós ou, for thy name's fake, or thy own fake, that is, freely without any refpect unto any thing in us. This also would admit of a fair and sound construction, but that there is more than ordinary evidence of the place's being corrupted. For the vulgar Latin, which, as to the pfalms, was translared out of the LXX, renders these words, propter legem K

tuam,

tuam, for thy law's sake; which makes it evident, that the triplator read the words ένεκα τα κόμι σε and not ονόματος, as now we read. Now, though this hath, in itself, no proper sense, for forgiveness is not bestowed for the law's sake,) yet it discovers the original of the whole mistake. 777777 The law differs but in one letter from 17777 thou mayeft be feared, by a mistake whereof this Ivona to vóms, for thy law's fake, crept into the text. Nor doth this any thing countenance the corrupt figment of the Hebrew vowels and accents; as though this difference might arise from the LXX using a copy that had none, that is before their invention, which might occafion mistakes and differences, for this difference is in a letter as well as the vowels, and therefore there can be , no colour for this conceit, unless we say also, that they had copies of old with other consonants than those we now enjoy. Bellarmine, in his exposition of this place, endeavours to give countenance unto the reading of the vulgar Latin, for thy law's fake, affirming, that by the law here, not the law of our obedience is intended, but the law or order of God's dealing with us, that is, his mercy and faithfulnefs; which is a mere new invention to countenance an old error, which any tolerable ingenuity would have confessed, rather than justified by so forry a pretence. For neither is that expression, or that word, ever used in the sense here by him feigned, por can it have any such signification.

Hieron renders these words, ut fis terribilis, that thou mayest be dreadful or terrible; doubtless not according to the intendment of the place. It is for the relieving of the soul, and not for ihe increasing of its dread and terror, thut this oblervation is made, There is fora giveness with thee.

But the words are clear, and their sense is obvious, Therefore thou Jħalt be feared, or that thou mayest be feared.

By the fear of the Lord, in the Old Testament, the whole worship of God, moral and instituted, all the obedience which we owe unto him, both for matter and, manner, is intended. Whatever we are to perform Unto God, being to be carried on and performed with reverence and godly fear, by á metonymy of the adjunct, that name is given to the whole. That thou mayest be feared, then is, that thou mayest be served, worshipped; that I who am ready to faint and give over, may yet be encouraged unto, and yet continue in that obedience which thou requirest at my hands; and this appears to be sense of the whole verse, as influenced by, and from those foregoing.

manner

“ Although, O Lord, no man can approach unto "thee, ftand before thee, or walk with thee, if thou “ fhouldft mark, their fins and follies according to the « tenor of the law, nor could they serve so great and “ holy a God as thou art; yet because I know from thy “ revelation of it, that there is also with thee, on the “ account of Jesus Christ, the propitiation, pardon and

forgiveness, I am encouraged to continue with thee, "waiting for thee, worshipping of thee ; when, with"S out this discovery, I should rather chuse to have rocks " and mountains fall upon me, to hide me from thy

presence. BUT THERE IS FORGIVENESS WITH THEE, AND THEREFORE THOU SHALT BE FEAR

ED."

The words being thus opened, we may take a full view in them of the state and condition of the foul expressed in this pfalm, and that answering the experiences of all who have any thing to do with God, in and about the depths and entanglements of fin.

Having in, and from his great depths, ver. I.'addreffed himself with fervent redoubled cries, yea outcries to God, and to him alone for relief, ver. 1, 2. Having also acknowledged his iniquities, and considered them according to the tenor of the law, ver. 3. he confefferh himself

to be lost and undone for ever on that account, ver. 3. But he abides not in the state of self-condemnation, and dejection of foul; he says not there is do hope, God is a jealous God, an holy God I cannot lerve hin, his law is a fiery law, which I cannot stand

before

K 2

« PreviousContinue »