« PreviousContinue »
It has appeared to me for some time past, that a Commentary of a plain and simple, and yet spiritual, character, upon the Book of Psalms, was really needed in our Church. There seemed to be many persons to whom such a Commentary would be very useful.
The young deacon, or curate, for instance, when he first begins his parochial visiting, and has to read portions of Scripture to the aged and infirm, will naturally, next to the Gospels, take the Psalms for his continuous readings. Their character, which is at once so deeply evangelical, practical, and devotional, puts them forward as the most profitable for systematic reading. But unless he has made the Psalms a subject of especial study, he will certainly come upon verses which he will find it hard to give the meaning of to a poor and unlearned parishioner, in an easy and yet edifying way. Such verses, experience has shewn me, will generally be passed over, as being likely to interrupt the current of devotional feelings, and to turn the conversation of the minister and the
parishioner from spiritual things to mere explanations of difficulties. A Plain Commentary, therefore, - which might be readily used by themselves, and be left with their aged parishioners for reading after they had left them, —would be an advantage, and often no small one, to clergymen in their parish work.
And it would be a still more obvious advantage and assistance to those Churchmen and Churchwomen who, under the guidance and advice of their parish priest, devote themselves, wholly or partially, as district visitors, to looking after the wants of the poor ; and who are entrusted by their clergyman with the privilege of reading to them the Scriptures, or the writings of holy and religious men, under his superintendence. A simple exposition of the Psalms, in their spiritual character, and a setting out of the Christian doctrine contained in them, could not but be a great help to such persons in their work of charity.
But there are other and much larger classes of Church-people, to whom a Plain Commentary on the Psalms would be highly useful ;-—I mean those who, in conforinity with the Church's rule, read every day the Psalms for the day, or a portion of them, at their family prayers, or in their
own private devotions. When the Psalms for the day are read at family prayers, certain verses, and even entire Psalms, are constantly recurring, —as, for instance, Psalm cix.,—to the full meaning of which, those who join in them have no direct spiritual clue, and which, therefore, jar upon their feelings, and make the reciting them —unless they are, on individual responsibility, systematically omitted—an act of some difficulty, or at least not an act of devotion. The case is the same, sometimes in a greater, sometimes a less degree, with Christians in their private devotions. Here a guide to the true meaning of those parts of the Psalms which they do not perfectly understand, would be a very great gain. And it would also be so to all who join regularly in the morning and evening public Services of the Church. The Psalter occupies a large place in our Matins and Evensong; and they who would obtain the full blessing given to those who unite with their fellow-Christians in the Services of God's Church, must not be content merely with feeling a devotional spirit ; but must take every care that, in saying the prayers and spiritual songs which the Psalter puts into their mouths, they may fulfil the Apostle's injunction to those who assemble together in the
Sanctuary,-'I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the Spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also a.'
And it is especially to be desired that those younger members of the Church who, as choristers, are called to take a particular share in the public worship of God, whose work of chanting praise is peculiarly angels' work,'—it is es, pecially to be desired that choristers should be taught early the full meaning and importance of those hallowed songs which they repeat so often. Care is taken to instruct the choristers of our churches in the other parts of Scripture, and certainly it should be particularly bestowed, that they may understand the meaning of the Psalms which they sing so constantly in the House and in the immediate presence of the Lord. Understandest thou what thou singest ?' is for them, at least, a question as needful to be rightly answered as- Understandest thou what thou readest?'
For them a Plain Commentary—which should teach them to see their Lord Who loves them, in the Psalms no less than in the Gospels—seems also much required.
Having for some time borne. these wants in
a 1 Cor. xiv. 15.