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[It is not by speculative notions that you are to judge of your state, but by your spirit, your temper, your whole conduct and conversation. “ The tree must be known by its fruit.” Now, as the ungodly form a perfect contrast with the godly, so let your spirit and conduct be a perfect contrast with theirs. Are the ungodly following the course of this world, and minding only the things of the flesh? Let it be said of you, “ They ARE NOT so:" “ their conversation is in heaven;" their delight is altogether in spiritual things; and “their fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” In a word, endeavour to be as different from the ungodly world around you, as a verdant and fruitful tree is from one which is withered and dead; and know, that, if you are looking to the Lord Jesus Christ for fresh supplies of his Spirit and grace, you shall receive from him such rich communications as shall be abundantly sufficient for you -]
b Hos. xiv. 447.
OPPOSITION TO CHRIST VAIN.
Ps. ii. 1–12. Why do the heathen rage, and the people
imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron ; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings; be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
THIS psalm, in its primary sense, relates to David : it declares the opposition which should be made to his establishment on the throne of Israel, and the final subjugation of all his enemies : both of which
events took place according to this prediction". But beyond a doubt a greater than David is here. There are several expressions in this psalm which are not at all applicable to the typical David, and which can pertain to none but the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Not even the highest angel could have that said of him, “ Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten theeb:" and, as that august title was inapplicable to David, so it could never be said of him, that he had “the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.” Moreover, when it is considered, that the expression, “ Kiss the Son,” imported an act of divine worship; and that to “ trust in ” David would have been to give to a man the honour which was due to the Most High God alone'; it will be clear, that the psalm was intended to describe, not earthly, but heavenly things, even the reign of Messiah himself, “the Lord's Anointed.” And of him the Jews, before the coming of Christ, interpreted this psalm; as the modern Jews are constrained to acknowledge. Indeed it is manifest, that the Apostles understood it in this sense; not only because immediately after the day of Pentecost they so interpret it", but because in their controversy with the Jews they quote it in this sense, and argue upon it as accomplished in Christ's victory over death and the grave. In reference to Christ, then, we will explain it, and shew, I. The opposition that is made to him
Christ is still, as formerly, opposed by all ranks and orders of men
[No sooner was he born into the world than Herod sought to destroy him. During his ministry upon earth the attempts made
upon his life were very numerous; and it was only by repeated miracles that he was saved. When the time for his being delivered into the hand of sinners drew nigh, the whole Jewish nation, as
were, rose up against him, to put him to death. His resurrection, and the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost, were calculated to rectify the mistaken apprehensions of his enemies, and to disarm their malice: but
a 2 Sam. v. 6, 7, 17. and 2 Sam. viii. 1-15. 6 Heb. i. 5. c Jer. xvii. 5. d Acts iv. 25-27 e Acts xiii. 32, 33.
no sooner was his Gospel preached by his disciples, than the same opposition raged against them also, and every possible effort was made to suppress the rising sect: not even death itself, in all its most tremendous forms, was deemed too severe a punishment for those who professed to believe in Christ. In this opposition all ranks and orders joined: the learned Scribes, the self-righteous Pharisees, the unbelieving Sadducees, all the highest orders both in Church and State, as well as the profane and licentious populace, were of one heart and mind in relation to this matter: they who agreed in no other thing under heaven, agreed in this, a deadly hatred to Christ, and an inveterate opposition to his cause.
And is not the same phænomenon seen at this day? In this one point there is perfect unanimity, wherever we come. As Herod and Pontius Pilate, who were before at variance, united cordially with each other for the purpose of oppressing Christ, so now persons who are most remote from each other in political and moral sentiment, or even in the general habits of their lives, all unite in decrying the Gospel as visionary in itself, and as injurious to the world. Let the Gospel be brought into any place, and this universal hatred to it immediately appears: nor can the Gospel be cordially embraced by any individual, without exciting in the minds of his friends and relatives a measure of indignation against him.]
This opposition is founded on an aversion to his strict and holy laws
[Had the Apostles brought forward the Gospel as a matter of speculation only, they would never have been so bitterly persecuted in every place. The Jews were ready enough, of themselves, to follow false Apostles and false Christs: and the Gentiles would have welcomed the inventors or advocates of a new philosophy. It was the requiring of all persons to submit entirely and unreservedly to the dominion of Christ that irritated and inflamed the whole world against the preachers of Christianity. Thus, at this time, if we only brought forward the great truths of the Gospel in a speculative and argumentative way, no man would be offended with us: (multitudes of preachers do this without exciting any hatred or contempt in the minds of their hearers :) but the practical exhibition of divine truth, the shewing that all men must receive it at the peril of their souls, the insisting upon an entire surrender of their souls to Christ, to be washed in his blood, to be renewed by his grace, and to be employed for his glory, this is the offence: we are then too earnest, too strict, too enthusiastic, too alarming: we then are represented
f Matt. x. 22-25, 34–36.
“ turning the world upside down,” and are deemed little better than the filth of the world and the off-scouring of all things.” Nor will any thing screen us from this odium: we may be as learned, as blameless, as benevolent, as active as Paul himself, and yet, if we have any measure of his fidelity, we shall be sure enough to have some measure also of his treatment from an ungodly world.)
But the experience of all ages abundantly attests, II. The vanity of that opposition
Notwithstanding all the exertions of his enemies, Christ was exalted
[It was “a vain thing that the people imagined," when they supposed that they could defeat the purposes of the Most High in relation to the establishment of his Son upon the throne of Israel. “He that sitteth in the heavens laughed at them, and had them in derision." In vain were the stone, the seal, the guard : at the appointed hour, Christ rose triumphant from the grave; and, on his ascension to the right hand of God, sent forth his Spirit to erect, in the hearts of men, that spiritual kingdom that shall never be moved: “Yet," says God,“ have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion." As the purpose of Jehovah respecting the typical David was fulfilled in due season, so was that “decree which Jehovah had declared” respecting “his anointed Son.”
« his anointed Son.” “ The word grew and multiplied” in every place: and “the stone that had been cut out of the mountain without hands, broke in pieces" all adverse powers, and filled the whole Roman empire. The opposition raised by the Jewish nation against the Lord and his Christ, terminated only in the confusion of the opponents, on whom “ the wrath of God” soon fell, and who are to this hour the most awful monuments of “ his displeasure."] In due time his exaltation shall be complete
[God having, in the resurrection of Christ, borne witness to him as his only-begotten Son ", has engaged, in answer to his requests, to give him the utmost ends of the earth for his possession." And this he
And this he is gradually accomplishing: in every quarter of the globe is the Redeemer's kingdom extending on the right hand and on the left: and though there is very much land still unsubdued before him, yet shall he “go on conquering and to conquer,” “ till every enemy is put under his feet.” The enmity of the human heart, indeed, will still vent itself against him; but all who will not bow to the sceptre of his grace," shall be broken in pieces like a potter's vessel.” Whether we look to the world at large, or to any particular g Dan. ii. 34, 35.
h Rom. i. 4.
individual in the world, the final issue of the contest will be the same: he must prevail, and “ all his enemies shall become his footstooli."]
Let us then contemplate,
If He be “the blessed and only Potentate, the
[A " holy reverential fear” becomes us in his presence : "He is greatly to be feared, and to be had in reverence of all them that are round about him.” Our fear of him should swallow up every other fear, and annihilate every desire that is contrary to his will. An external conformity to his laws will not suffice: he should reign in our hearts, and our “ every thought should be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.” Not that our fear should be of a slavish kind: it is our privilege, and even our duty, to rejoice in him k: yea, we should rejoice in him with most exalted joy, even " a joy that is unspeakable and glorified':” yet should our joy be tempered with humility, and our confidence with contrition. We should never so contemplate him as to forget ourselves, nor ever so triumph in him as to lose a jealousy over ourselves: we should “ rejoice in the Lord always;” but still we should so temper this heavenly feeling as to rejoice with trembling."
With this reverential fear we should also maintain towards him a devout affection. Idolaters were wont to kiss their idols, in token of their entire and affectionate devotion to them m: hence it is said, “ Kiss the Son,” that is, let us consecrate ourselves to his service affectionately and with our whole hearts. A constrained service is altogether unacceptable to him : obedience would lose all its worth, if we accounted his yoke heavy or “his commandments grievous." His law should be in our hearts, and a conformity to it should be our supreme desire and delight.] This is the duty of all, without exception
[It is a common sentiment, that religion is only for the poor, and that the rich and learned are in a good measure exempt from its restraints. But in the sight of God all men are on a level: all are equally dependent on him; all must give up an account to him; and “kings or judges of the earth” are quite as much subject to the command of Christ as the meanest of the human race. O let this awful delusion be
i Matt. xxii. 44. 11 Pet. i. 8.
k Phil. iii. 3. and iv. 4. m 1 Kings xix. 18. Hos. xii. 2.