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If this be so, these anathemas must be consistent with the highest degree of benevolence on the part of the sacred writer. In other words, there must have been such enlightened and enlarged views of God's justice in the punishment of the wicked, the stability thereby given to his moral government, and the amount of happiness thus rendered sure to the righteous, that the Psalmist, wrought up to the highest sympathy with this fundamental attribute of Jehovah, anticipated the doom of the ungodly, and devoted them at once to destruction. This, as a divinely-inspired writer, he could with propriety do. God, through him, could doom, in direct terms, the guilty, or he could inspire him to pray for speedy judgments to fall upon them. There can be no doubt in respect to this, unless we doubt the justice of God in the punishment of the finally impenitent .
But was it right for David, as a man, to entertain such feelings? We see that it was right for him to speak as he was moved by the Holy Ghost. But was such a state of mind, considered in relation to a frail, erring man, himself exposed to the same wrath he was invoking upon his enemies, consonant with the spirit of charity, as defined in the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthians?To this very proper inquiry we reply, that both reason and revelation teach that the righteous will have such clear and sympathetic views of God's justice and its administration, as not only to look with approbation upon the sufferings of the lost, but even to be furnished thereby with new incentives to praise. If God's attribute of justice be necessary to the well beingof the righteous—if it be but another manifestation of his love ; then, most unquestionably, all the good must rejoice in its demands and sanctions. Take an extreme case, and one which to us, in our present relations, would be most trying. Suppose that a beloved child, who, in this world, was the object of the tenderest parental affection, in the future world should be found to be an enemy of God and of righteousness, and to pardon whom, or suffer to roam about unpunished, would be such a departure from justice as to weaken the Divine administration; nay, as could be fully shown, to absolutely overthrow the moral government of God: would that parent, transplanted in due time into the upper sanctuary, where all earthly relations are merged and lost in those higher and abiding affinities which bind the good together in everlasting union, feel other than the most perfect blessedness in the sufferings of his rebellious, Heaven-daring son 1 Would he not praise God in new and more exalted strains, as the bearings of Divine justice upon the happiness and order of God's universe, were receiving new developments from the sufferings of the lost?This is the view which revelation as well as reason gives of this subject. John heard the voice of a great multitude, as the voice of many waters and of mighty thunderings, saying: "Alleluia; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth." But God reigneth, not simply as God of love, but as the God of justice, having power to crush his enemies, omnipotent over every foe. It was this power, this omnipotence in avenging the blood of his saints, and in reigning victorious over every enemy, that awakened those thunders of praise. And this is but the varied notes of another song, which, with the great voice of much people in heaven, was sung in the hearing of John: "Alleluia; salvation and glory and honor and power unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever." Here the execution of God's judgments, or what is the same thing, the maintenance of his justice in the punishment of the enemies of his people, is declared to be the cause of his being praised. In Rev. 14: 10, it is said that those who receive the mark of the beast " shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever, and they have no rest day nor night."
These tremendous sufferings are undergone in full view of the angels, and of the Lamb, and, of course, of the redeemed; for the Lamb is represented as standing, surrounded by the hundred and forty-four thousand having his Father's name in their foreheads, and which were redeemed from the earth. Now is it for a moment to be supposed, that these sufferings of the lost, the bare thought of which almost congeals our blood, mars in the least the blessedness of the celestial throng? The song of Moses and the Lamb, which was sung upon the sea of glass, contains a reason why the works of the Lord God Almighty were great and marvellous, drawn from his justice: "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and worship before thee ;for thy judgments are manifest." Compare with this that most remarkable passage in the song which Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel, on the borders of the promised land (Deut. 32: 43): "Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people; for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land and to his people." This direction to rejoice in view of the Divine vengeance, which is to overtake the enemies of truth and the persecutors of the righteous, follows some of the most fearful threatenings against the wicked with which the word of God abounds. God's arrows were to be made drunk with their blood; his glittering sword, which had been whetted for slaughter, was to devour their flesh; his hand was to take hold of judgment, and kindle a fire in his anger which should burn unto the lowest hell, setting on fire the very foundations of the mountains. Yet all this is adduced as a reason why the righteous should rejoice, and utter their notes of praise in the hearing of all the nations. The same sentiment is found in many of the Psalms. In Ps. xcvii., it is thus expressed: "The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are round about him ; righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne." So also in Ps. xcviii., when all nature is called upon to rejoice, the sea to roar, the floods to clap their hands, the trumpets and cornets to sound a joyful noise before the Lord, "for he cometh to judge the earth." In these and divers other passages, which might be selected from God's woid, we see that the righteousness and judgments of God are to be regarded as a source of joy to his people. Now the sympathy which the righteous in heaven manifest in the demands and awards of Divine justice, may be and often is felt, although in a less degree, by the good on earth. But if it be proper to share at all in the emotions with which the heavenly company regard the punishment of the lost, who canfix the limits of joyous sympathy with which the judgments of God upon the wicked may be hailed, up to which it may be proper for us, in our present probationary state, to go, but beyond which we may not pass without incurring God's displeasure, or exposing ourselves to the charge of rejoicing in the damnation of our fellow-men? Are there any such prescribed limits, and are we forbidden, either by God's word or the social relations of life, to aim at such a state of conformity to the Divine will, as to rejoice in whatever he may do, either here or in the world to come? We know, from his word, that he will punish the finally impenitent . We know that this will redound to his glory and the good of the universe. Is there anything wrong in praying that he will glorify himself and confirm the righteous in their blessedness, by casting from his presence everything which worketh abomination and maketh a lie? Certainly not. Such a petition to the throne of grace might be misapprehended by the wicked, and perverted to mean something far different from that high and holy aspiration for the full manifestation of all of God's attributes which gave it birth. But against the prayerthat God will vindicate his saints, by punishingimpious and ungodly men who enter the eternal world with their characters unchanged, there can be urged no objection, either from God's word or on the ground of common humanity. This being so, who can charge upon the Psalmist a vindictive spirit in his imprecations of the wicked? He did not pray that some particular person or persons should be damned. He only devoted to destruction the enemies of truth; and this is just what God has declared, in the plainest and most forcible language, that he himself will do. We are not, therefore, cast solely upon the inspiration of these anathemas, to prove their consistency with a humane, benevolent heart; but we have the twofold basis upon which to place our defence of their spirit; viz. the sympathy which they evince in the joyous acclamations with which the punishment of the wicked is hailed in the eternal world, and the other great fact, that in their utterance the Psalmist was filled with the Spirit of inspiration. Let us now, for a moment, turn our attention more particularly to the Psalms of which we are speaking. Some of these Psalms are Messianic. It will not be denied that the Messiah, speaking by the mouth of his servant, could righteously doom his enemies. As God-man, he shutteth and no man openeth, and openeth and no man shutteth, having the keys of death and hell. That such a Being should anathematize his enemies, anticipating in a manner that dread sentence, the most awful which will ever issue from the tribunal of judgment, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels," is what no man should gainsay or call into question. It should be borne in mind that it is not so much Christ in his days of humiliation and suffering who speaks in the Psalms, as Christ exalted to be King in Zion, who was to break his enemies with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. But there are other Psalms of this sort, which are not referable to the Messiah. Some of them were composed by David, one of the most tender-hearted, forgiving, and humane men the world has ever seen. Twice, with almost unparalleled magnanimity, he spared the life of Saul, his bitter and unrelenting persecutor. In what mournful strains did he lament over that same Saul and his sons who had fallen in battle! He was a man after God's own heart. His, surely, was not the spirit which could be so animated with private hatred and revenge, as to invoke the Divine vengeance up