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APOLOGY and REASONS
For attempting to Compofe this
HE Chriftian Church having in all Ages made the PSALMS a great Part of her Devotion; and the Church of England, particularly, having appointed fome of them to be publickly read every Day, both by the Minifter and the People; and therefore, I hope, it may not be thought either a vain, or an affuming Attempt, to compare this Sacred Book with the NEW TESTAMENT: from whence every Chriftian may learn both his Faith and his Practice.
ASI am not a fufficient Mafter of the Original Languages, fo I do not pretend to make a Critical Diflertation on the Book of Pfalms; which has already been done by feveral learned Men, who have attempted to discover the particular Occafion, and the Time when thefe Pfalms were penned.
THE Royal Prophet having collected immenfe Treafures for building the Temple, who being under the immediate Direction of the Holy Spirit, compofes these Sacred Hymns, and tranfmits them to the Priefts and Levites, to be daily used in the Temple; and thereby to inftruct
inftruct the Jews, not to reft in the bare Performance of the Ceremonial Law, but are thereby directed in the Knowledge and Practice of that fpiritual Worship, which the MESSIAH was to introduce, when all their Sacrifices and carnal Ordinances were to be abolished.
HEREIN, we are fully taught how to present our Supplications, and how to obtain that Grace, which may enable us to worship the Moft High in an acceptable manner.
THIS Sacred Book, is that bright MIRROUR, which, whofoever attentively looks into, will disclose all the fecret Thoughts and Intents of the Mind, and lead it to the Knowledge of itfelf; which even the Gentile Philofophers accounted the Bafis of true Wif
WHO can view the curious Frame of a human Body (when skilfully anatomized) without the greatest WONDER and DELIGHT? wherein we perceive how the Blood circulates through all the Veins and Arteries; how the Heart beats, and gives the Animal Spirits a conftant Motion: how each Nerve and Muscle perform their feveral Operations; upon the exac Regularity of which, depends Health and Life: and which fhews how fearfully and wonderfully we are made..!
IF the Texture of the Animal Frame be fo curiously wrought, how delicate muft that of the Rational Soul be? And if the firft produce fuch Wonder and Delight, what will the latter, when well understood? And as both thefe have their Beauties and Excellencies, fo likewife have they their Weakneffes and Diseases: And in difcovering thofe that belong to the Mind, the Royal Prophet may not improperly be called, the ANATOMIST of the Soul..
FOR as he defcribes the Excellencies of the Divine Law, fo he difclofes and laments the SINFUL WEAKNESS of his Nature; which render'd him incapable to perform an exact Obedience to fuch PURE and
PERFECT PRECEPTS: Under the Confcioufness of which he doth not DESPOND, but excites all the Powers of his Soul, to feek and implore the AIDS of Heaven. Herein he difclofes what were his DESIRES, his HOPES, his JOYS, his GRIEFS, his FEARS; and what was his SUPPORT in all these. It may be stiled the JOURNAL of his Mind; reprefenting the daily TRANSACTIONS of his Soul with the ALMIGHTY: Wherein he delineates the many Difficulties and TEMPTATIONS he paffed through, the great Oppofitions he met with from the ENEMIES of his Soul, (as is often expreffed) and how he OVERCAME them.
UPON a ftri& View of many of the Pfalms, it may feem very amazing, that fuch DOLEFUL Expreffions fhould fall from fo great a Prince, and FAVOURITE of Heaven; who fo often BEWAILS that the Light of his Mind was eclipfed; that his Soul was overwhelmed, and become defolate; that his Sins were as a Burden too heavy for him: which, with great Elegancy, and Variety of Expreffions, is often mentioned.
THAT we may form just Ideas of the Matter, it ought to be confider'd, that the Royal Penman of this Book was conftituted both a King and a Prophet; was not only a Type of the MESSIAH, (who according to the Flesh was to defcend from him) but as Abraham was TYPICALLY the Father of all the Faithful, fo was the Royal Prophet alfo the true REPRESENTATIVE of all BELIEVERS: who in his own Person describes the various Trials and Temptations which BELIEVERS in all Ages are in fome degree or other to conflict with: And therefore, in the CII Pfalm, (the Title of which is, A Prayer of the Afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out bis Complaint before the LORD); is exprefly afferted, that these THINGS are written for the GENERATIONS to COME. For can it be imagin'd that fo great a Prince fhould thus open his Breaft, and expofe to publick View the finful Weaknefs and Diftreffes of his Mind, if these related only to himself?
ST. PETER affirms, That no Prophecy of the Scriptures is of any private Interpretation: For Prophecies came not of old Time by the Will of Man, but holy Men of GOD fpake as they were moved by the HOLY GHOST; to which fure Word of Prophecy he exhorts the Church to take heed, " as unto a Light fhining in a dark Place; and to wait, and "confide in the PROMISES, till the Day dawn, and the "Day-Star arife in your Hearts.
THIS being premifed, it ought to be confidered how the Members of the Chriftian Church are to make the proper Use of these Sacred Hymns.
OUR Saviour commands his Difciples to SEARCH the Scriptures, which contain the Directions how that ETERNAL LIFE which he came to confer upon the World, might be obtained; that all Things were to be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Mofes, and in the Prophets, and in the Pfalms, concerning him. And just before his Afcenfion, he opened the Minds of his Apoftles, that they might understand the Scriptures.
NOW what other Method can there be of SEARCHING the Scriptures, or arriving to any due Knowledge of what is contained in the Sacred Oracles, but by comparing one Part with another, and viewing the exact HARMONY that is found in them; but efpecially what is contained in the Book of PSALMS, to which our Saviour and the Apoftles fo often refer.
FOR herein is found, not only exprefs Prophecies relating to the BIRTH, PASSION, DEATH, RESURRECTION, and ASCENSION of the MESSIAH, and the great OPPOSITION there was to be to his KINGDOM; and his TRIUMPHS over thefe, by the Establishment of ASPIRITUAL Kingdom in RIGHTEOUSNESS and PEACE;
*Note, The Prophecies in the PSALMS relating to the MESSIAH, are intended to be transferred to the EVANGELICK HISTORY; wherein the exact Completion of them are fully defcribed.
but alfo in the Book of Pfalms are plainly disclosed the following EVANGELICK Articles, viz.
I. ORIGINAL SIN, and the Confequents of it.
III. The Representations of the many TRIALS and TEMPTATIONS, both internal and external, which Believers are to confli& with.
IV. Of SANCTIFYING GRACE.
First, As to ORIGINAL SIN: In the Pfalms is found a full Description of the univerfal DEPRAVITY of the Human Nature, and the direful Effects it has produced.
"Pfalm li. 5. Behold, I was SHAPEN in INIQUITY, " and in SIN did my Mother conceive me.
Pf. lviii. 3. The Wicked are estranged from the "Womb, they go ASTRAY AS SOON AS they are BORN. "Pf. x. 4. The Wicked, through the Pride of his "Countenance, will not feek after God: God is not in "all his THOUGHTS.
5. His Ways are always grievous; thy Judgments "are far above out of his Sight.
His Mouth is full of CURSING, DECEIT, and "FRAUD; under his Tongue is Mischief and Vanity. Pf. xiv. 1. The Fool hath faid in his Heart, "There is NO GOD: They are corrupt, they have "done abominable Works; there is none that doth "Good.
"2. The Lord looked down from Heaven upon the "Children of Men, to fee if there were any that did "understand, and feek after God.
"3. They are all gone afide, they are all together
"Pf. xix. 12. Who can understand his Errors? "Cleanse thou me from my SECRET FAULTS.
To this St. Paul refers Rom. 111. 10, &c.