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Psalm 95

A Call to Worship and Obedience

1

O come, let us sing to the Lord;

let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!

2

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;

let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

3

For the Lord is a great God,

and a great King above all gods.

4

In his hand are the depths of the earth;

the heights of the mountains are his also.

5

The sea is his, for he made it,

and the dry land, which his hands have formed.

 

6

O come, let us worship and bow down,

let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

7

For he is our God,

and we are the people of his pasture,

and the sheep of his hand.

 

O that today you would listen to his voice!

8

Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,

as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,

9

when your ancestors tested me,

and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.

10

For forty years I loathed that generation

and said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray,

and they do not regard my ways.”

11

Therefore in my anger I swore,

“They shall not enter my rest.”

Psalm 96

Praise to God Who Comes in Judgment

1

O sing to the Lord a new song;

sing to the Lord, all the earth.

2

Sing to the Lord, bless his name;

tell of his salvation from day to day.

3

Declare his glory among the nations,

his marvelous works among all the peoples.

4

For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;

he is to be revered above all gods.

5

For all the gods of the peoples are idols,

but the Lord made the heavens.

6

Honor and majesty are before him;

strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

 

7

Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples,

ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

8

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;

bring an offering, and come into his courts.

9

Worship the Lord in holy splendor;

tremble before him, all the earth.

 

10

Say among the nations, “The Lord is king!

The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved.

He will judge the peoples with equity.”

11

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;

let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

12

let the field exult, and everything in it.

Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy

13

before the Lord; for he is coming,

for he is coming to judge the earth.

He will judge the world with righteousness,

and the peoples with his truth.


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Invitation to Praise God; Motives to Praise.

1 O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.   2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.   3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.   4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.   5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.   6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.   7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.

The psalmist here, as often elsewhere, stirs up himself and others to praise God; for it is a duty which ought to be performed with the most lively affections, and which we have great need to be excited to, being very often backward to it and cold in it. Observe,

I. How God is to be praised. 1. With holy joy and delight in him. The praising song must be a joyful noise, v. 1 and again v. 2. Spiritual joy is the heart and soul of thankful praise. It is the will of God (such is the condescension of his grace) that when we give glory to him as a being infinitely perfect and blessed we should, at the same time, rejoice in him as our Father and King, and a God in covenant with us. 2. With humble reverence, and a holy awe of him (v. 6): "Let us worship, and bow down, and kneel before him, as becomes those who know what an infinite distance there is between us and God, how much we are in danger of his wrath and in need of his mercy." Though bodily exercise, alone, profits little, yet certainly it is our duty to glorify God with our bodies by the outward expressions of reverence, seriousness, and humility, in the duties of religious worship. 3. We must praise God with our voice; we must speak forth, sing forth, his praises out of the abundance of a heart filled with love, and joy, and thankfulness—Sing to the Lord; make a noise, a joyful noise to him, with psalms—as those who are ourselves much affected with his greatness and goodness, are forward to own ourselves so, are desirous to be more and more affected therewith, and would willingly be instrumental to kindle and inflame the same pious and devout affection in others also. 4. We must praise God in concert, in the solemn assemblies: "Come, let us sing; let us join in singing to the Lord; not others without me, nor I alone, but others with me. Let us come together before his presence, in the courts of his house, where his people are wont to attend him and to expect his manifestations of himself." Whenever we come into God's presence we must come with thanksgiving that we are admitted to such a favour; and, whenever we have thanks to give, we must come before God's presence, set ourselves before him, and present ourselves to him in the ordinances which he has appointed.

II. Why God is to be praised and what must be the matter of our praise. We do not want matter; it were well if we did not want a heart. We must praise God,

1. Because he is a great God, and sovereign Lord of all, v. 3. He is great, and therefore greatly to be praised. He is infinite and immense, and has all perfection in himself. (1.) He has great power: He is a great King above all gods, above all deputed deities, all magistrates, to whom he said, You are gods (he manages them all, and serves his own purposes by them, and to him they are all accountable), above all counterfeit deities, all pretenders, all usurpers; he can do that which none of them can do; he can, and will, famish and vanquish them all. (2.) He has great possessions. This lower world is here particularly specified. We reckon those great men who have large territories, which they call their own against all the world, which yet are a very inconsiderable part of the universe: how great then is that God whose the whole earth is, and the fulness thereof, not only under whose feet it is, as he has an incontestable dominion over all the creatures and a propriety in them, but in whose hand it is, as he has the actual directing and disposing of all (v. 4); even the deep places of the earth, which are out of our sight, subterraneous springs and mines, are in his hand; and the height of the hills which are out of our reach, whatever grows or feeds upon them, is his also. This may be taken figuratively: the meanest of the children of men, who are as the low places of the earth, are not beneath his cognizance; and the greatest, who are as the strength of the hills, are not above his control. Whatever strength is in any creature it is derived from God and employed for him (v. 5): The sea is his, and all that is in it (the waves fulfil his word); it is his, for he made it, gathered its waters and fixed its shores; the dry land, though given to the children of men, is his too, for he still reserved the property to himself; it is his, for his hands formed it, when his word made the dry land appear. His being the Creator of all makes him, without dispute, the owner of all. This being a gospel psalm, we may very well suppose that it is the Lord Jesus whom we are here taught to praise. He is a great God; the mighty God is one of his titles, and God over all, blessed for evermore. As Mediator, he is a great King above all gods; by him kings reign; and angels, principalities, and powers, are subject to him; by him, as the eternal Word, all things were made (John i. 3), and it was fit he should be the restorer and reconciler of all who was the Creator of all, Col. i. 16, 20. To him all power is given both in heaven and in earth, and into his hand all things are delivered. It is he that sets one foot on the sea and the other on the earth, as sovereign Lord of both (Rev. x. 2), and therefore to him we must sing our songs of praise, and before him we must worship and bow down.

2. Because he is our God, not only has a dominion over us, as he has over all the creatures, but stands in special relation to us (v. 7): He is our God, and therefore it is expected we should praise him; who will, if we do not? What else did he make us for but that we should be to him for a name and a praise? (1.) He is our Creator, and the author of our being; we must kneel before the Lord our Maker, v. 6. Idolaters kneel before gods which they themselves made; we kneel before a God who made us and all the world and who is therefore our rightful proprietor; for his we are, and not our own. (2.) He is our Saviour, and the author of our blessedness. He is here called the rock of our salvation (v. 1), not only the founder, but the very foundation, of that work of wonder, on whom it is built. That rock is Christ; to him therefore we must sing our songs of praises, to him that sits upon the throne and to the Lamb. (3.) We are therefore his, under all possible obligations: We are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. All the children of men are so; they are fed and led by his Providence, which cares for them, and conducts them, as the shepherd the sheep. We must praise him, not only because he made us, but because he preserves and maintains us, and our breath and ways are in his hand. All the church's children are in a special manner so; Israel are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand; and therefore he demands their homage in a special manner. The gospel church is his flock. Christ is the great and good Shepherd of it. We, as Christians, are led by his hand into the green pastures, by him we are protected and well provided for, to his honour and service we are entirely devoted as a peculiar people, and therefore to him must be glory in the churches (whether it be in the world or no) throughout all ages, Eph. iii. 21.

Warning against Hardness of Heart.

7—To day if ye will hear his voice,   8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:   9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.   10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:   11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

The latter part of this psalm, which begins in the middle of a verse, is an exhortation to those who sing gospel psalms to live gospel lives, and to hear the voice of God's word; otherwise, how can they expect that he should hear the voice of their prayers and praises? Observe,

I. The duty required of all those that are the people of Christ's pasture and the sheep of his hand. He expects that they hear his voice, for he has said, My sheep hear my voice, John x. 27. We are his people, say they. Are you so? Then hear his voice. If you call him Master, or Lord, then do the things which he says, and be his willing obedient people. Hear the voice of his doctrine, of his law, and, in both, of his Spirit; hear and heed; hear and yield. Hear his voice, and not the voice of a stranger. If you will hear his voice; some take it as a wish, O that you would hear his voice! that you would be so wise, and do so well for yourselves; like that, If thou hadst known (Luke xix. 42), that is, O that thou hadst known! Christ's voice must be heard to-day; this the apostle lays much stress upon, applying it to the gospel day. While he is speaking to you see that you attend to him, for this day of your opportunities will not last always; improve it, therefore, while it is called to-day, Heb. iii. 13, 15. Hearing the voice of Christ is the same with believing. To-day, if by faith you accept the gospel offer, well and good, but to-morrow it may be too late. In a matter of such vast importance nothing is more dangerous than delay.

II. The sin they are warned against, as inconsistent with the believing obedient ear required, and that is hardness of heart. If you will hear his voice, and profit by what you hear, then do not harden your hearts; for the seed sown on the rock never brought any fruit to perfection. The Jews therefore believed not the gospel of Christ because their hearts were hardened; they were not convinced of the evil of sin, and of their danger by reason of sin, and therefore they regarded not the offer of salvation; they would not bend to the yoke of Christ, nor yield to his demands; and, if the sinner's heart be hardened, it is his own act and deed (he hardening it himself) and he alone shall bear the blame for ever.

III. The example they are warned by, which is that of the Israelites in the wilderness.

1. "Take heed of sinning as they did, lest you be shut out of the everlasting rest as they were out of Canaan." Be not, as your fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, Ps. lxxxviii. 8. Thus here, Harden not your heart as you did (that is, your ancestors) in the provocation, or in Meribah, the place where they quarrelled with God and Moses (Exod. xvii. 2-7), and in the day of temptation in the wilderness, v. 8. So often did they provoke God by their distrusts and murmurings that the whole time of their continuance in the wilderness might be called a day of temptation, or Massah, the other name given to that place (Exod. xvii. 7), because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us or is he not? This was in the wilderness, where they could not help themselves, but lay at God's mercy, and where God wonderfully helped them and gave them such sensible proofs of his power and tokens of his favour as never any people had before or since. Note, (1.) Days of temptation are days of provocation. Nothing is more offensive to God than disbelief of his promise and despair of the performance of it because of some difficulties that seem to lie in the way. (2.) The more experience we have had of the power and goodness of God the greater is our sin if we distrust him. What, to tempt him in the wilderness, where we live upon him! This is as ungrateful as it is absurd and unreasonable. (3.) Hardness of heart is at the bottom of all our distrusts of God and quarrels with him. That is a hard heart which receives not the impressions of divine discoveries and conforms not to the intentions of the divine will, which will not melt, which will not bend. (4.) The sins of others ought to be warnings to us not to tread in their steps. The murmurings of Israel were written for our admonition, 1 Cor. x. 11.

2. Now here observe,

(1.) The charge drawn up, in God's name, against the unbelieving Israelites, v. 9, 10. God here, many ages after, complains of their ill conduct towards him, with the expressions of high resentment. [1.] Their sin was unbelief: they tempted God and proved him; they questioned whether they might take his word, and insisted upon further security before they would go forward to Canaan, by sending spies; and, when those discouraged them, they protested against the sufficiency of the divine power and promise, and would make a captain and return into Egypt, Num. xiv. 3, 4. This is called rebellion, Deut. i. 26, 32. [2.] The aggravation of this sin was that they saw God's work; they saw what he had done for them in bringing them out of Egypt, nay, what he was now doing for them every day, this day, in the bread he rained from heaven for them and the water out of the rock that followed them, than which they could not have more unquestionable evidences of God's presence with them. With them even seeing was not believing, because they hardened their hearts, though they had seen what Pharaoh got by hardening his heart. [3.] The causes of their sin. See what God imputed it to: It is a people that do err in their hearts, and they have not known my ways. Men's unbelief and distrust of God, their murmurings and quarrels with him, are the effect of their ignorance and mistake. First, Of their ignorance: They have not known my ways. They saw his work (v. 9) and he made known his acts to them (Ps. ciii. 7); and yet they did not know his ways, the ways of his providence, in which he walked towards them, or the ways of his commandments, in which he would have them to walk towards him: they did not know, they did not rightly understand and therefore did not approve of these. Note, The reason why people slight and forsake the ways of God is because they do not know them. Secondly, Of their mistake: They do err in their heart; they wander out of the way; in heart they turn back. Note, Sins are errors, practical errors, errors in heart; such there are, and as fatal as errors in the head. When the corrupt affections pervert the judgment, and so lead the soul out of the ways of duty and obedience, there is an error of the heart. [4.] God's resentment of their sin: Forty years long was I grieved with this generation. Not, The sins of God's professing people do not only anger him, but grieve him, especially their distrust of him; and God keeps an account how often (Num. xiv. 22) and how long they grieve him. See the patience of God towards provoking sinners; he was grieved with them forty years, and yet those years ended in a triumphant entrance into Canaan made by the next generation. If our sins have grieved God, surely they should grieve us, and nothing in sin should grieve us so much as that.

(2.) The sentence passed upon them for their sin (v. 11): "Unto whom I swore in my wrath, If they shall enter into my rest, then say I am changeable and untrue:" see the sentence at large, Num. xiv. 21, &c. Observe, [1.] Whence this sentence came—from the wrath of God. He swore solemnly in his wrath, his just and holy wrath; but let not men therefore swear profanely in their wrath, their sinful brutish wrath. God is not subject to such passions as we are; but he is said to be angry, very angry, at sin and sinners, to show the malignity of sin and the justice of God's government. That is certainly an evil thing which deserves such a recompence of revenge as may be expected from a provoked Deity. [2.] What it was: That they should not enter into his rest, the rest which he had prepared and designed for them, a settlement for them and theirs, that none of those who were enrolled when they came out of Egypt should be found written in the roll of the living at their entering into Canaan, but Caleb and Joshua. [3.] How it was ratified: I swore it. It was not only a purpose, but a decree; the oath showed the immutability of his counsel; the Lord swore, and will not repent. It cut off the thought of any reserve of mercy. God's threatenings are as sure as his promises.

Now this case of Israel may be applied to those of their posterity that lived in David's time, when this psalm was penned; let them hear God's voice, and not harden their hearts as their fathers did, lest, if they were stiffnecked like them, God should be provoked to forbid them the privileges of his temple at Jerusalem, of which he had said, This is my rest. But it must be applied to us Christians, because so the apostle applies it. There is a spiritual and eternal rest set before us, and promised to us, of which Canaan was a type; we are all (in profession, at least) bound for this rest; yet many that seem to be so come short and shall never enter into it. And what is it that puts a bar in their door? It is sin; it is unbelief, that sin against the remedy, against our appeal. Those that, like Israel, distrust God, and his power and goodness, and prefer the garlick and onions of Egypt before the milk and honey of Canaan, will justly be shut out from his rest: so shall their doom be; they themselves have decided it. Let us therefore fear, Heb. iv. 1.

An Invitation to Praise and Honour God; A Call to Glorify God.

1 O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth.   2 Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; show forth his salvation from day to day.   3 Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people.   4 For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.   5 For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the Lord made the heavens.   6 Honour and majesty are before him: strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.   7 Give unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and strength.   8 Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts.   9 O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

These verses will be best expounded by pious and devout affections working in our souls towards God, with a high veneration for his majesty and transcendent excellency. The call here given us to praise God is very lively, the expressions are raised and repeated, to all which the echo of a thankful heart should make agreeable returns.

I. We are here required to honour God,

1. With songs, v. 1, 2. Three times we are here called to sing unto the Lord; sing to the Father, to the Son, to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, when the morning stars sang together, is now, in the church militant, and ever shall be, in the church triumphant. We have reason to do it often, and we have need to be often reminded of it, and stirred up to it. Sing unto the Lord, that is, "Bless his name, speak well of him, that you may bring others to think well of him." (1.) Sing a new song, an excellent song, the product of new affections, clothed with new expressions. We speak of nothing more despicable than "an old song," but the newness of a song recommends it; for there we expect something surprising. A new song is a song for new favours, for those compassions which are new every morning. A new song is New-Testament song, a song of praise for the new covenant and the precious privileges of that covenant. A new song is a song that shall be ever new, and shall never wax old nor vanish away; it is an everlasting song, that shall never be antiquated or out of date. (2.) Let all the earth sing this song, not the Jews only, to whom hitherto the service of God had been appropriated, who could not sing the Lord's song in (would not sing it to) a strange land; but let all the earth, all that are redeemed from the earth, learn and sing this new song, Rev. xiv. 3. This is a prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles; all the earth shall have this new song put into their mouths, shall have both cause and call to sing it. (3.) Let the subject-matter of this song be his salvation, the great salvation which was to be wrought out by the Lord Jesus; that must be shown forth as the cause of this joy and praise. (4.) Let this song be sung constantly, not only in the times appointed for the solemn feasts, but from day to day; it is a subject that can never be exhausted. Let day unto day utter this speech, that, under the influence of gospel devotions, we may daily exemplify a gospel conversation.

2. With sermons (v. 3): Declare his glory among the heathen, even his wonders among all people. (1.) Salvation by Christ is here spoken of as a work of wonder, and that in which the glory of God shines very brightly; in showing forth that salvation we declare God's glory as it shines in the face of Christ. (2.) This salvation was, in the Old-Testament times, as heaven's happiness is now, a glory to be revealed; but in the fulness of time it was declared, and a full discovery made of that, even to babes, which prophets and kings desired and wished to see and might not. (3.) What was then discovered was declared only among the Jews, but it is now declared among the heathen, among all people; the nations which long sat in darkness now see this great light. The apostles' commission to preach the gospel to every creature is copied from this: Declare his glory among the heathen.

3. With religious services, v. 7-9. Hitherto, though in every nation those that feared God and wrought righteousness were accepted of him, yet instituted ordinances were the peculiarities of the Jewish religion; but, in gospel-times, the kindreds of the people shall be invited and admitted into the service of God and be as welcome as ever the Jews were. The court of the Gentiles shall no longer be an outward court, but shall be laid in common with the court of Israel. All the earth is here summoned to fear before the Lord, to worship him according to his appointment. In every place incense shall be offered to his name, Mal. i. 11; Zech. xiv. 17; Isa. lxvi. 23. This indeed spoke mortification to the Jews, but, withal, it gave a prospect of that which would redound very much to the glory of God and to the happiness of mankind. Now observe how the acts of devotion to God are here described. (1.) We must give unto the Lord; not as if God needed any thing, or could receive any thing, from us or any creature, which was not his own before, much less be benefited by it; but we must in our best affections, adorations, and services, return to him what we have received from him, and do it freely, as what we give; for God loves a cheerful giver. It is debt, it is rent, it is tribute, it is what must be paid, and, if not, will be recovered, and yet, if it come from holy love, God is pleased to accept it as a gift. (2.) We must acknowledge God to be the sovereign Lord and pay homage to him accordingly (v. 7): Give unto the Lord glory and strength, glory and empire, or dominion, so some. As a king, he is clothed with robes of glory and girt with the girdle of power, and we must subscribe to both. Thine is the kingdom, and therefore thine is the power and the glory. "Give the glory to God; do not take it to yourselves, nor give it to any creature." (3.) We must give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name, that is, to the discovery he has been pleased to make of himself to the children of men. In all the acts of religious worship this is that which we must aim at, to honour God, to pay him some of that reverence which we owe him as the best of beings and the fountain of our being. (4.) We must bring an offering in to his courts. We must bring ourselves, in the first place, the offering up of the Gentiles, Rom. xv. 16. We must offer up the sacrifices of praise continually (Heb. xiii. 15), must often appear before God in public worship and never appear before him empty. (5.) We must worship him in the beauty of holiness, in the solemn assembly where divine institutions are religiously observed, the beauty of which is their holiness, that is, their conformity to the rule. We must worship him with holy hearts, sanctified by the grace of God, devoted to the glory of God, and purified from the pollutions of sin. (6.) We must fear before him; all the acts of worship must be performed from a principle of the fear of God and with a holy awe and reverence.

II. In the midst of these calls to praise God and give glory to him glorious things are here said of him, both as motives to praise and matter of praise: The Lord is great, and therefore greatly to be praised (v. 4) and to be feared, great and honourable to his attendants, great and terrible to his adversaries. Even the new song proclaims God great as well as good; for his goodness is his glory; and, when the everlasting gospel is preached, it is this, Fear God, and give glory to him, Rev. xiv. 6, 7. 1. He is great in his sovereignty over all that pretend to be deities; none dare vie with him: He is to be feared above all gods—all princes, who were often deified after their deaths, and even while they lived were adored as petty gods—or rather all idols, the gods of the nations v. 5. All the earth being called to sing the new song, they must be convinced that the Lord Jehovah, to whose honour they must sing it, is the one only living and true God, infinitely above all rivals and pretenders; he is great, and they are little; he is all, and they are nothing; so the word used for idols signifies, for we know that an idol is nothing in the world, 1 Cor. viii. 4. 2. He is great in his right, even to the noblest part of the creation; for it is his own work and derives its being from him: The Lord made the heavens and all their hosts; they are the work of his fingers (Ps. viii. 3), so nicely, so curiously, are they made. The gods of the nations were all made—gods, the creatures of men's fancies; but our God is the Creator of the sun, moon, and stars, those lights of heaven, which they imagined to be gods and worshipped as such. 3. He is great in the manifestation of his glory both in the upper and lower world, among his angels in heaven and his saints on earth (v. 6): Splendour and majesty are before him, in his immediate presence above, where the angels cover their faces, as unable to bear the dazzling lustre of his glory. Strength and beauty are in his sanctuary, both that above and this below. In God there is every thing that is awful and yet every thing that is amiable. If we attend him in his sanctuary, we shall behold his beauty, for God is love, and experience his strength, for he is our rock. Let us therefore go forth in his strength, enamoured with his beauty.

The Kingdom of Christ.

10 Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.   11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof.   12 Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice   13 Before the Lord: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.

We have here instructions given to those who were to preach the gospel to the nations what to preach, or to those who had themselves received the gospel what account to give of it to their neighbours, what to say among the heathen; and it is an illustrious prophecy of the setting up of the kingdom of Christ upon the ruins of the devil's kingdom, which began immediately after his ascension and will continue in the doing till the mystery of God be finished.

I. Let it be told that the Lord reigns, the Lord Christ reigns, that King whom God determined to set upon his holy hill of Zion. See how this was first said among the heathen by Peter, Acts x. 42. Some of the ancients added a gloss to this, which by degrees crept into the text, The Lord reigneth from the tree (so Justin Martyr, Austin, and others, quote it), meaning the cross, when he had this title written over him, The King of the Jews. It was because he became obedient to death, even the death of the cross, that God exalted him, and gave him a name above every name, a throne above every throne. Some of the heathen came betimes to enquire after him that was born King of the Jews, Matt. ii. 2. Now let them know that he has come and his kingdom is set up.

II. Let it be told that Christ's government will be the world's happy settlement. The world also shall be established, that it shall not be moved. The natural world shall be established. The standing of the world, and its stability, are owing to the mediation of Christ. Sin had given it a shock, and still threatens it; but Christ, as Redeemer, upholds all things, and preserves the course of nature. The world of mankind shall be established, shall be preserved, till all that belong to the election of grace are called in, though a guilty provoking world. The Christian religion, as far as it is embraced, shall establish states and kingdoms, and preserve good order among men. The church in the world shall be established (so some), that it cannot be moved; for it is built upon a rock, and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it; it is a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

III. Let them be told that Christ's government will be incontestably just and righteous: He shall judge the people righteously (v. 10), judge the world with righteousness, and with his truth, v. 13. Judging is here put for ruling; and though this may be extended to the general judgment of the world at the last day, which will be in righteousness (Acts xvii. 31), yet it refers more immediately to Christ's first coming, and the setting up of his kingdom in the world by the gospel. He says himself, For judgment have I come into this world (John ix. 39; xii. 31), and declares that all judgment was committed to him, John v. 22, 27. His ruling and judging with righteousness and truth signify, 1. That all the laws and ordinances of his kingdom shall be consonant to the rules and principles of eternal truth and equity, that is, to the rectitude and purity of the divine nature and will. 2. That all his administrations of government shall be just and faithful, and according to what he has said. 3. That he shall rule in the hearts and consciences of men by the commanding power of truth and the Spirit of righteousness and sanctification. When Pilate asked our Saviour, Art thou a king? he answered, For this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth (John xviii. 37); for he rules by truth, commands men's wills by informing their judgments aright.

IV. Let them be told that his coming draws nigh, that this King, this Judge, standeth before the door; for he cometh, for he cometh. Enoch, the seventh from Adam, said so. Behold, the Lord cometh, Jude 14. Between this and his first coming the revolutions of many ages intervened, and yet he came at the set time, and so sure will his second coming be; though it is now long since it was said, Behold, he comes in the clouds (Rev. i. 7) and he has not yet come. See 2 Pet. iii. 4, &c.

V. Let them be called upon to rejoice in this honour that is put upon the Messiah, and this great trust that is to be lodged in his hand (v. 11, 12): Let heaven and earth rejoice, the sea, the field, and all the trees of the wood. The dialect here is poetical; the meaning is, 1. That the days of the Messiah will be joyful days, and, as far as his grace and government are submitted to, will bring joy along with them. We have reason to give that place, that soul, joy into which Christ is admitted. See an instance of both, Acts viii. When Samaria received the gospel there was great joy in that city (v. 8), and, when the eunuch was baptized, he went on his way rejoicing, v. 39. 2. That it is the duty of every one of us to bid Christ and his kingdom welcome; for, though he comes conquering and to conquer, yet he comes peaceably. Hosanna, Blessed is he that cometh; and again, Hosanna, Blessed be the kingdom of our father David (Mark xi. 9, 10); not only let the daughter of Zion rejoice that her King comes (Zech. ix. 9), but let all rejoice. 3. That the whole creation will have reason to rejoice in the setting up of Christ's kingdom, even the sea and the field; for, as by the sin of the first Adam the whole creation was made subject to vanity, so by the grace of the second Adam it shall, some way or other, first or last, be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God, Rom. viii. 20, 21. 4. That there will, in the first place, be joy in heaven, joy in the presence of the angels of God; for, when the First-begotten was brought into the world, they sang their anthems to his praise, Luke ii. 14. 5. That God will graciously accept the holy joy and praises of all the hearty well-wishers to the kingdom of Christ, be their capacity ever so mean. The sea can but roar, and how the trees of the wood can show that they rejoice I know not; but he that searches the heart knows what is the mind of the Spirit, and understands the language, the broken language, of the weakest.




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