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his words in proof of this point, and confirms them by additional declarations to the same effect.
We shall consider
I. The quotation as explained by the apostle
[The Psalm, which the apostle quotes, certainly refers to Christ for David could not boast of his own obedience as superseding the law; since a compliance with the law constituted a very essential part of his duty 2.
David, in the words before us, speaks in the person of Christ, supposing him to be just "" come into the world," though, in fact, it was a thousand years before his birth. And he represents him as addressing the Father to this effect; that the sacrifices were designed of God to take away sin: that God had prepared him a body, that he might offer a perfect and sufficient atonement for sin: and that he willingly undertook the office committed to him.
The insufficiency of the legal sacrifices had continually appeared from the contempt poured upon them in comparison of moral duties, and from the utter abhorrence in which they were held by God himself, if not accompanied with a suitable spirit and conduct in the offerers.
That Christ might have somewhat to offer, God formed him a body in the womb of the virgin: thus, being "the seed of the woman" only, and not of man, he was not involved in the guilt of Adam's transgression, nor did he partake of that pollution, which all, born in a natural way, inherit from their first parents and consequently he was fitted to offer to the Lord a pure and spotless sacrificed.
Fully acquiescing in his Father's will respecting this, he came cheerfully to do it; and when engaged in performing it, he made it "his meat and drink to do it," and even in his
a Ps. xl. 6-8. The iniquities of which he speaks in the 12th verse, were Christ's by imputation, Isai. liii. 6. and therefore might justly draw from him that complaint..
b 1 Sam. xv. 22. Hos. vi. 6. Isai. i. 11. -14. and Ixvi. 3. d The Psalmist's words are, "Mine ears hast thou opened:" which seem to refer to the custom of boring the ear of a servant, who determined to abide in his master's service, Exod. xxi. 5, 6. The apostle's words, though widely different in sound, are nearly the same in sense: they import that Christ, having become incarnate, would never recede from his Father's work, till he could say, "It is finished." The apostle's meaning is precisely expressed, Phil. ii. 6—8.
* The whole of the Psalmist's words are not cited by the apostle. But the additional expressions, Ps. xl. 8. set forth, in a striking point of view, the zeal with which Christ undertook and executed this arduous work.
greatest extremity continued stedfast, saying, "Not.my will, but thine be done f."
This cheerful devotion of Christ to his Father's will, though not so expressly recorded, yet had been intimated from the beginning, and placed, as it were, at the very head of the inspired volume 8.
The apostle's explanation of this passage throws yet further light upon it. He repeats a second time the Psalmist's enumeration of the different kinds of sacrifices, in order to shew, that none (whether those burnt without the camp, or those consumed on the altar, or those, of which but a small part was burnt, and the rest was divided between the priest and the offerer *) were of any avail to take away sin. He then informs us that the Psalmist's mention of Christ as coming to effect that which the legal sacrifices could not, was expressly intended by God as an intimation, that the whole Jewish economy should be superseded by the Christian. Similar intimations the apostle notices in other parts of the prophetic writings; and he frequently both quotes them, and draws the same inference from them in other parts of this epistle'. From hence therefore we may see the very great importance of the passage before us, as manifesting the eternal purpose of God to liberate us from the Jewish yoke, and to establish throughout the world the purer dispensations of the gospel.]
The sense of the passage quoted by the apostle being thus clearly ascertained, let us consider
II. His declaration founded upon it
There are two important points which the apostle deduces from these words of David;
1. That God's will is the true and only source of our salvation
[Sanctification imports a setting apart of any thing for God. Hence the tabernacle with all its vessels are said to have been sanctified"; and Christ himself says, "For their sakes I sanctify myself":" and it is in this sense that the term "sanctified" is used in the text: it means a separation for God in order to eternal salvation.
Now it is solely from the "will of God" thus made known to his Son, and thus fulfilled by him, that any of the children of
John iv. 34. Luke xxii. 42.
h Lev. xvi. 27.
Gen. iii. 15.
* Lev. vii. 1-6, 19. The word "all" includes the offerers.
Ib. ver. 15, 16. and Numb. xviii. 11.
1 Heb. viii. 13. and x. 17, 18. and xii. 26, 27. m Exod. xl. 10-12.
n John xvii. 19.
• Compare ver. 14.
men are made partakers of salvation. It was not possible for any such plan to have originated with any other than God himself. When God's dealings with the fallen angels were considered, who would have imagined that man, partaking of their iniquity, should yet be rescued from their doom? Supposing that such a thought could have entered into the mind of man, who could have contrived such a way of maintaining the honour of the divine government, and of making the discordant attributes of justice and mercy to harmonize in the salvation of man? If such an expedient as the substitution of God's own Son in the place of sinners could have been devised, who could have dared to propose it to the Deity; or have prevailed upon him to acquiesce in it? The more this is considered, the more will the salvation of man appear to be totally independent of man himself (as far as respects the contriving or the meriting of it) and to be the fruit of infinite Wisdom, Sovereign grace, and unbounded love. From the first laying of the foundation to the bringing forth of the top-stone, we must cry, Grace, grace unto it 9.]
2. That the sacrifice of Christ is the only means whereby it is effected
[It might seem that men, under the law, were accepted on account of the sacrifices, which were offered according to the Mosaic ritual. But, not to mention the impossibility that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin', the very repetition of those sacrifices shewed their insufficiency for the removal of guilt, or for the satisfying of men's consciences 3. They had no effect but as they led the offerers to the Lord Jesus Christ, or expressed their faith in his all-atoning sacrifice. All who have ever found acceptance with God, whether before the law, or under it, or since its abolition, have been admitted to mercy purely through the one offering of Jesus Christ." Nothing but that could ever satisfy divine Justice; nothing but that could ever atone for one single sin: nor can any creature, to the end of the world, ever obtain favour with God, but in consideration of that sacrifice presented to God for us, and pleaded by us as the one ground of our hope.]
1. How vain is men's confidence in any services of their own!
[To have been baptized in our infancy, to have attended punctually the outward duties of the sabbath, and to have waited occasionally upon the Lord at his table, are deemed in general
P 2 Tim. i. 9.
a Zech. iv. 6, 7.
r Ver. 4.
↑ Acts iv. 12. 1 Cor. iii. 11.
general satisfactory evidences of our conversion to God, and sufficient grounds for our hope towards him. But, if the whole multitude of legal institutions, framed by God's own order, and according to a model shewn to Moses in the mount, were of no value as recommending men to God, how much less can the few services which we perform be sufficient to procure us acceptance with him? But it may be said, that moral services are more pleasing to God than ceremonial: true; but we are not told that God willed them, any more than the others, as means of effecting our reconciliation with him. It was the incarnation and death of Christ that God" willed;" and, in a remarkable correspondence with the text, he thrice, by an audible voice from heaven, said, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased". Let every self-righteous hope then be banished; and let us learn to glory in Christ alone.]
2. What encouragement have all to devote themselves to God through Christ!
[We have the united testimony of prophets and apostles that God willeth the salvation of men through the sacrifice of his own Son, and that Christ as willingly offered himself a sacrifice in order to effect their salvation. What more can be wanted but that we go to God in that new and living way, which is so clearly pointed out to us? We can have no doubt of God's willingness to save, or of the sufficiency of that salvation which he has provided for us. Let nothing then keep us back from God: but let us look to Christ as the propitiation for our sins, and plead the merit of his all-atoning blood. Thus, sanctifying ourselves in his name, we shall be perfected before God; being sanctified also by the Holy Ghost, we shall be acceptable in the sight of God and our Father for ever and ever.]
" Ovn südónnoas, ver. 8. with is ÿ evdónnoa. Matt. iii, 17.
* Gal. vi. 14.
z Ver. 14. with Heb. ix. 12.
y 1 John ii. 2.
a Rom. xv. 16.
CLIII. GOD'S COVENANT ENGAGEMENTS WITH CHRIST
Ps. lxxxix. 28–35. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless, my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David.
IN seasons of deep affliction, when, through unbelief, we are ready to think that God has forsaken and forgotten us, it is well to look back to God's covenant engagements, whereon, as on a rock, we may stand firm amidst the .tempest that surrounds us. It was under such circumstances (probably about the time of the Babylonish captivity) that this Psalm was penned. In it the stability of God's covenant is fully declared. The fears and apprehensions of his people, as arising from his apparent violation of it, are next delineated: and it concludes with fervent adorations of God, who, notwithstanding all the dictates of unbelief, is worthy to be blessed for
For the just use, as well as understanding, of the passage before us, we shall
I. Explain it
[There can be no doubt but that the words, in their literal meaning, refer to the covenant which God made with David respecting the continuance of his posterity on his throne"; and which seemed to be violated, now that both king and people were carried captive to Babylon; but which, in fact, should be accomplished in all its parts; because whatever they might endure for a season, the sceptre should not depart from Judah till Shiloh should come.
But there is doubtless a reference to Christ, who is often. called David'. Some of the words originally addressed to David, are expressly declared to refer to Christ chiefly, yea exclusively. They must be understood therefore as containing God's covenant with Christ.
* 2 Sam. vii. 12—17.
Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 24. Hos. iii. 5. Compare 2 Sam. vii. 14. with Heb. i. 5.