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SERMON LIII.

ON CHRISTMAS-DAY.

Psalm xcviii.

O sing unto the Lord a new song; for' he hath

done marvellous things : with his own right hand and with his holy arm hath he gotten him self the victory. The Lord declared his salvation; his righteousness hath he openly, shewed in the sight of the heathen. He hath rememberéd his mercy and truth toward the house of Israel, and all the ends of the world have seen the salvation of our God. Shew yourselves joyful unto the Lord, all ye lands ; sing, rejoice, and give thanks. Praise the. Lord upon the harp, sing to the harp with a psalm of thanksgiving. With trumpets also and shawms, 0 shew yourselves joyful before the Lord the King. Let the sea make a noise, and all that

therein

therein is; the round world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands, and let the hills be joyful together before they Lord; for he is come to judge the earth : With righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.

THIS psalm seems to have been composed

1 upon occasion of some great deliverance which God had granted to Israel : but, like many others, it is not confined to that alone, but has also a secondary view to the coming of the Messiah. The Psalmist considers that de- . liverance which his brethren had lately received as an earnest of a still greater deliverance; and whilst he celebrates the victory and triumphs of his own nation, proclaims also that salvation of God, which was to extend itself to all the ends of the world.

Fired, therefore, with the distant prospect of so great a blessing, he could not contain his joy, but breaks out into raptures of exultation, and calls not only upon man, but upon all creatures, to join with him in praising God for his mercies.

In the three first verses, he sets forth the causé, extent, and motive of that redeinption

which

which the Son of God has brought to the world.

In the five following verses, he summons the whole circle of created nature to be joyful and thankful for so great a blessing.

And in the last verse, he assures us, that the Lord is at the door, and coming to fill the world with righteousness, and judge the people with equity.

" The Lord,” says he, “ hath done marvel“ lous things.” And marvellous indeed are all the works of God : for he created all things out of nothing: he spake, and they were made; he commanded, and they stood fast. But in this, the work of our Redemption, there was still a greater degree of wonder, which angels themselves were not able to conceive :—The Son of God, equal to the Father, was made man, in all things like unto us, sin only excepted: the everlasting God vouchsafed to be born of a woman, and the King of glory to be laid in a manger : the Lord of all things took upon himself the form. of a servant, and the Creator of the world died between two thieves: righteousness was made a sin, and blessing a curse: the love of the Father drank of the cup of his anger, and VOL. III.

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the Prince of life died, and was buried in the grave of mortality. Well, therefore, might the Psalmist say, that “ the Lord hath done mars vellous things.”

And in the next verse, he shews us by what power they were done :-" With his own right " hand,” says he," and with his holy arm, " hath he gotten himself the victory." Not indeed that God is ever in danger : for his majesty is too high to stand in need of deliverance. But the victory he gained is our's : to redeem us, he put himself in our place, and entered the lists against those bitter enemies of our salvation, the world, the flesh, and the devil. It is the triumph, therefore, over these, which the Psalmist calls upon us to remember : and indeed just reason have we to remember it, if we consider how much it cost even the Son of God himself to accomplish it. It was this, which called forth that blood which he sweat in tire garden : it was this, which drew from him that sorrowful cry which he uttered in his agony, “ Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from “ me:" it was this which extorted that bitter exclamation on the cross, “My God, my God, ;" why hast thou forsaken me!"-And who but himself was able to accomplish a victory over such enemies : Who, but himself was able to

. subdue subdue the powers of darkness; to appease the wrath of heaven, to satisfy the offended justice of Omnipotence, to expiate the sins of a lost world, to conquer death, and to procure life and immortality? Not saints nor angels, not all the united power of heaven and earth could do this: what they, therefore, were unable to do, he accomplished by his own might:“ With his own right hand and with his holy

arm he got himself the victory.”

And this victory over sin and death is what he calls, in the following verse, righteousness and salvation :-" The Lord declared his salva, « tion, his righteousness hath he openly " shewed.” Thus in the same manner God expresses himself in Isaiah; “ My righteousness “ is near, my salvation is gone forth.” And again, “ My righteousness shall be for ever, “ and my salvation from generation to genera“ tion.” And in another place; “ My salva“tion is near to come, and my righteousness " to be revealed.” And in many other places of scripture, the righteousness of God signifies salvation, or that deliverance which he gives us out of his free mercy.

After declaring the nature of this victory, or salvation, the Psalmist next proceeds to acquaint

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