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115. Psalm 115

Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.

2Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now their God?

3But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

4Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands.

5They have mouths, but they speak not: eyes have they, but they see not:

6They have ears, but they hear not: noses have they, but they smell not:

7They have hands, but they handle not: feet have they, but they walk not: neither speak they through their throat.

8They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.

9O Israel, trust thou in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.

10O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.

11Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield.

12The Lord hath been mindful of us: he will bless us; he will bless the house of Israel; he will bless the house of Aaron.

13He will bless them that fear the Lord, both small and great.

14The Lord shall increase you more and more, you and your children.

15Ye are blessed of the Lord which made heaven and earth.

16The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.

17The dead praise not the Lord, neither any that go down into silence.

18But we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore. Praise the Lord.

8 They who make them shall be like unto them. Many are of opinion that this is an imprecation, and hence translate the future tense in the optative mood, may they become like unto them But it will be equally appropriate to regard it as the language of ridicule, as if the prophet should affirm that the idolaters are equally stupid with the stocks and stones themselves. And he deservedly severely reprehends men naturally endued with understanding, because they divest themselves of reason and judgment, and even of common sense. For those who ask life from things which are lifeless, do they not endeavor to the utmost of their power to extinguish all the light of reason? In a word, were they possessed of a particle of common sense, they would not attribute the properties of deity to the works of their own hands, to which they could impart no sensation or motion. And surely this consideration alone should suffice to remove the plea of ignorance, their making false gods for themselves in opposition to the plain dictates of natural reason. As the legitimate effect of this, they are willfully blind, envelop themselves in darkness, and become stupid; and this renders them altogether inexcusable, so that they cannot pretend that their error is the result of pious zeal. And I have no doubt that it was the prophet’s intention to remove every cause and color of ignorance, inasmuch as mankind spontaneously become stupid.

Whosoever trusteth in them. The reason why God holds images so much in abhorrence appears very plainly from this, that he cannot endure that the worship due to himself should be taken from him and given to them. That the world should acknowledge him to be the sole author of salvation, and should ask for and expect from him alone all that is needed, is an honor which peculiarly belongs to him. And, therefore, as often as confidence is reposed in any other than in himself, he is deprived of the worship which is due to him, and his majesty is, as it were, annihilated. The prophet inveighs against this profanity, even as in many passages the indignation of God is compared to jealousy, when he beholds idols and false gods receiving the homage of which he has been deprived, (Exodus 34:14; Deuteronomy 5:9) If a man carve an image of marble, wood, or brass, or if he cast one of gold or silver, this of itself would not be so detestable a thing; but when men attempt to attach God to their inventions, and to make him, as it were, descend from heaven, then a pure fiction is substituted in his place. It is very true that God’s glory is instantly counterfeited when it is invested with a corruptible form; (“To whom hast thou likened me?” he exclaims by Isaiah 40:25, and 46:5, and the Scripture abounds with such texts;) nevertheless, he is doubly injured when his truth, and grace, and power, are imagined to be concentrated in idols. To make idols, and then to confide in them, are things which are almost inseparable. Else whence is it that the world so strongly desires gods of stone, or of wood, or of clay, or of any earthly material, were it not that they believe that God is far from them, until they hold him fixed to them by some bond? Averse to seek God in a spiritual manner, they therefore pull him down from his throne, and place him under inanimate things. Thus it comes to pass, that they address their supplications to images, because they imagine that in them God’s ears, and also his eyes and hands, are near to them. I have observed that these two vices can hardly be severed, namely, that those who, in forging idols, change the truth of God into a lie, must also ascribe something of divinity to them. When the prophet says that unbelievers put their trust in idols, his design, as I formerly noticed, was to condemn this as the chief and most detestable piece of profanity.


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