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The words, In his favour is life, seem to come in as a satisfying answer to a tacit objection formed by those who are invited to sing the praises of God, ver. 4. As if it had been said, Alas! How can we join in the pleasing work of thanksgiving. We lie under the tokens of God's displeasure, and seem to feel the marks of his anger within us. How can we sing the Lord's song, when our harps are hung on the willows ?
The Pfalmift answers this by a concession; “ Be it so; it is proper there should be an interchangeable succession of joy and sorrow, as of day and night. Sorrow, like an unwelcome guest, may lodge with us during the night, but a blessed morning of deliverance succeeds. The season of disconfolation is but short; it will not last for ever; so far from this, God's anger is but for a moment, and in his favour is life.” The displeasure and the favour of the Most High are here compared, in their nature and their duration
The displeasure of God occasions a night of for. row and distress. Night in scripture often denotes a season of gloom and disconsolation. The gracious soul is under great discouragement when the Sun of righteousness is withdrawn. If the wrath of a king be as the messengers of death, how afflictive must a sense of God's displeasure be, to the man who looks
> Fundo for all his felicity from himn! But in his favour is life; it is that which gives being to all the hope, the peace and comfort of a saint. He lives by the shining of his heavenly Father's countenance.
The divine displeasure is but for a moment; the gloominess occasioned by it is but for a night. At longest, the season of affliction and sorrow can but continue during the period of a good man's pilgrimage through this vale of tears; but the favour of God is life everlasting; it runs parallel with the existence of the soul, and with the line of eternity.
The former part of this verse, because short and concise, seems rather intricate; but in the latter, the Psalmist more fully unfolds his meaning. Anger, by an usual figure, is put for chastisement, which, among earthly parents, is frequently the effect of anger. The Supreme Being is not angry as men are; yet he visits the transgressions of his children with a rod, and their iniquities with stripes, though he will not take away his loving-kindness from them, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail.
The words in the Hebrew text lie thus, A moment in his anger; in his favour life. Life is opposed to a moment, as favour is to anger. Displeasure is momentary, love is everlasting. The general sense of the passage appears to be this,—Though for our offences the Lord may hide his face, withdraw
his comforts, and visit us with affliction ; yet he will speedily manifest his pardoning mercy, remove the chastisement which indicated his displeasure, and restore to us the joys of his salvation. This renewed inanifestation of favour will produce so great a change in our state of mind, that it may be termed, a calling us back from death to life.
As my desire is to instruct and edify the reader, and not to perplex him, I shall not introduce the laboured criticisms of some learned writers upon the words under consideration, nor attempt any farther explication of them, but immediately propound this doctrinal proposition arising from the text,
That In God's favour there is life; or that his fa. vour is a good man's life.
This is the branch of divine truth held forth to our notice, by the royal Psalmist here. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he advanced this, as a faithful saying, and worthy of acceptation. Moses seems to assert the same thing, when he says of JEHOVAH, “ He is thy life, and the length of thy days.” That is, he is effectively so; he is the cause of thy life; whatever juftly deserves the denomination of life, consists in the enjoyment of him, and consequently, in being conformed to his holy will.
In In the prosecution of my design, I shall attenipt to give a solution of the following inquiries ;
I. What are we to understand by the favour of God, and what that life is which is said to be in it ?
II. In what respects is his favour to be considered
III. To whom is it so, and in what seasons and circumstances ?
IV. Why do these persons put such a value on the divine favour, as to account it life? .
When I have given a short answer to these several important questions, I shall attempt a suitable application of the whole.
What God's Favour is, and the Life which is enjoyed
W E are in the first place to inquire, what we
are to understand by the favour of God, and what that life is which is said to be in it. For the sake of brevity, we unite these two necessary branches of investigation, in the present chapter, humbly requesting the reader to to favour us with his candid, pious and impartial attention. The nature of the subject undoubtedly calls for it.
bot 4.4 The word for favour, in the facred original, fig. nifies good will, or good pleasure. In the blessing wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death, we meet with this elevated apostrophe, “ O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, full with the blessing of the Lord!" The latter clause explains and illustrates the former. When men are full of the blessing of the Lord, they enjoy his favour; and it is that which gives them fatisfa&tion. The word alfo fignifies acceptance. The prophet Isaiah uses the same expression as that in our text; when speaking of the spiritual facrifices which God's people shall present unto him, through the Mediator, he says, in the name of the great Je. hovah, “ They shall come up with acceptance, with favour, upon mine altar.” Sometimes the terin, in our English version, is rendered desire. As when the Psalmist says, “ He shall fulfil the desire, the good will, of them that fear him.” But as the ex. pression is used concerning the Author and Fountain of all good, it implies, in its lowest sense, kindness or regard : and it may be considered in several points of light. .
1. The favour of God may intend his common Providence towards all, both good and bad. Favour is shown to some who are little influenced by it. “Let favour be shewed to the wicked,” in the