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GEORGE BUCHANAN’S PARAPHRASES
OF BOOK IV OF THE PSALMS
Gracious Governour of the heavenly hosts, Who even from the first ages and the youth (as it were) of the unfinished world hast always raised with Thine help Thy friends when labouring under difficulties, before the new earth brought the forests of the mountains and the shining beauty of the heaven covered the mountains, before the limits of light and shade, Thou remainest the same, the Father of the would, Thou alone being neither subject to changes, nor confined within the boundary of a short duration, Thou alone being without beginning or end. But to us Thou gradually weakenest the threads of our short and miserable life, till old age have reduced our fading members to rotten ashes. The space of a thousand years is to Thee like the light of yesterday, and like a fluid point, which when it is gone leaveth no marks of its passage. Our life vanisheth into thin air as water on dry sands, or as a dream beguiling the senses during the shades of night, as the herb, satiated with vernal dew in the morning, quickly languisheth under the noontide heart, then lieth on the ground with withered leaves in the late evening. And besides so many evils of our fleeting life which embitter our pleasures, Thine anger, always pressing on us, disturbed, troubleth our breasts. Whatever error we commit rashly or maliciously, what crimes fear or shame concealeth in darkness, Thou seest, nor is the commotion of an unquiet breast hid from Thee. While our mind dreads the deserved punishments of Thy fury, the space of our life flieth away with wings moving almost more swift than thought. A long life extendeth to seventy years, and those who enjoy a more vigorous old age live about ten years longer. Why should I recount the troubles of old age? The short spring of flattering youth, disquieted with cares and miserable diseases, flieth away more swiftly than the east wind. Then who shall endure the violence of Thy just wrath, if Thou now command the guilty to suffer just punishments according to the measure and number of their offence? So, o Father, so teach us to number the space of our fleeting life that our mind, called back from fading cares, may see the light of honest truth. O at length, mild and favourable, cease Thou from anger, and, being more near, provide for Thy weary servants with the mercy always customary to Thee. Grant that, inriched with the fruit of Thy goodness, we may at length be satisfied with joy, so that, freed from uneasy cares, we may spend our remaining years agreeable. And let grief, flying away, in its turn give place to gladness, and, our affliction being finished, let an equal measure of pleasure succeeding mellow our sorrowful life. Let Thine actions, majesty, works and greatness be known to Thy servants, and known to the posterity of Thy servants who willingly execute Thy commands. Grant, o gracious Ruler of the world, that the brightness of Thy goodness may always enlighten us. May the favour of Thy grace, inspiring us, prosper all our actions.
If thou committest thy safety, thine estate, thine offspring and family to be protected by the guardianship of God, if when fortune, enraged, shall thunder thou fliest under the shadow of the Lord, being secure, bear thou all the violence both of fortune and of death, and despise their stern threats; being secure, despise thou the tumult of uncertain wars. God shall deliver thee from the hidden snare, and shall break the nets of those that lie in wait for thee, nor shalt thou catch the infection of the deadly pestilence when raging far and near. He shall spread His wings over thee, and cherish thee when in adversity under His feathers, and, being sure of the promised safety, thou shalt lie hid under the shade of His shield. Thou shalt not start at hidden dangers during the gloomy silence of the dark night, thou shalt not fear destruction that wasteth by day, nor open wars. And amidst the slaughters of a thousand carcases, of a thousand carcases on the right hand and on the left, thou, exempt from dangers, shalt safe escape the neighbouring ruin. In the mean time, thou with joy shalt behold the wicked suffering punishment. Secure from arms and tumults, thou shalt be covered by the protection of God, as with strong walls. Neither shall violence or accidents touch thee nor thy house too nearly. For God shall give His angels, that are watchful against all motions, the charge of thy safety, who may remove the obstructions in thy ways, who may carry thee through rough places in their hands lest thy foot be wounded, dashed against the sharp corners of rocks. And thou shalt dwell secure amidst vile asps and the young of fierce tigers, and without danger shalt trample on dragons and the whelps of the Lybian lioness. “He reverenceth Me,” saith God, “and treateth My name alone with honour. I will in My turn rescue him safe from painful dangers. I will presently bring aid to him when calling, and will deliver him from the fate which hangeth over him in adversity, and when delivered I will confer on him the peculiar dignity of honours. I will take care that he pass agreeably, in vigorous strength, the years of his advanced old age, and I will show after what method I use to bless my friends.”
O gracious King of the heavenly hosts, it becometh me to extol Thee, to celebrate Thee with praises. Whether the sun purpleth the fields with his morning rays, or night covereth them in darkness, the day shall hear me shewing forth Thy mercy, the night shall hear me shewing forth Thy faithfulness. Not with my voice only, but also with the warbling lyre, with the cymbals and with the psaltery. The silent consideration of Thy works awakeneth my languid soul. When I recollect Thine actions, my breast, affected with joy, exulteth. O works! O actions truly great! O counsels hidden under a thick cloud! Counsels unknown to the blind minds of mortals, who consider not that the wicked flourish like the grass which a mild sun cherisheth and the moisture raiseth up, and immediately evanisheth like the grass when withered by a small blast of cold. Thou always remainest the same, neither feeling the vicissitudes of things nor or times. Inevitable ruin shall pursue the friends of wickedness and thine enemies. But me, flourishing with fresh strength, Thou shalt cherish with Thy fatherly indulgence, and shalt imbue my face with the juice of the odiferous balm, with the ruddy splendour of youth. I shall feed mine eyes with the ruin of mine enemies, who view me with malignant eyes, and gladly shall I hear of the destruction of the impious, who create trouble to me. In the meantime, the just shall flourish like the palm tree, or like the cedar on top of Lebanon, which neither storms, nor heat, nor frosts strip of the beauty of its leaves. The plant which hath fastened with firm roots in the Temple or courts of the Lord shall adorn itself with a pleasant flower and with leaves, and, being loadened with plenteous fruits, it shall, by the lapse of fleeting time, feel none of the disadvantages of diseased old age, that the righteousness of the almighty Lord may be known to all nations, Who is my only fortress of safety, who is never accessory to wrongful injustice.
The Lord, cloathed with much grace and majesty, hath now assumed the command of the universe, the Lord, Who established the bulwarks of the world so as not to be moved in any age, hath now girded himself with strength. The throne of Whose kingdom, like Himself, is immoveable from eternity, fearing none of the vicissitudes of time. Let the floods roll their billows headlong with dreadfulnoise, and the sea rage with threatening waves, the Lord restraineth the floods when swollen with heavy showers, He calmeth the waves of the raging sea. Whatever the Lord hath pronounced with His sacred lips stands fixed and remaineth invariable throughout all ages, and the sacred mysteries which grace the Temple of the Lord shall feel none of the losses of late oblivion.
O God, Who art the avenger of fraud, o God who art the avenger of wickedness, show Thy power against the impious. O thou righteous Judge of the world, awake and restrain arrogance with deserved punishments. How long, o most excellent Ruler of the world, shall the impious proudly boast themselves? This band, devoted to wickedness, applaud themselves in their own wickedness, and please themselves with foolish stories. And in the mean time they trample Thy people under their feet, they wantonly afflict Thine heritage, they murder the widow and the stranger, and overwhelm the fatherless in every distress, and they mutter among themselves, “God beholdeth not these things, neither understandeth He at all right and wrong.” O brutish people, whose sluggish minds are entirely possessed with ignorance, shake off therefore the lethargy of your mind, and think with yourselves. God, Who made the ear, is he deaf? He that formed the eyeballs, doth He not perceive? He Who teacheth the wild nations without law to pursue what is right, shall He not punish the crimes of His own people, to Whom He hath intrusted the sacred oracles of His laws? God knoweth the very secrets of our breasts, our vain purposes, our empty hopes, our troublesome doubts. Blessed indeed is the man whom our Father instructeth with paternal love, to whom He showeth the statutes of His Law. He shall live safe in adversity, until the net is prepared for the wicked, to draw him unexpectedly into the pit. Neither will the Lord ever neglect His own heritage when destitute of help, nor will He leave it for a prey to the wicked, but He will direct the tribunal of the judges according to the rule of His own equity, and by that rule will good men order their life. Who will bring me aid against the workers of iniquity? Who with me shall humble the pride of the wicked? For already I should have been cold under the cold heap of the grave, unless the Lord had presently brought me help, and of His mercy had strengthened my mind and had supported my step, when just tottering, and had comforted me when almost overwhelmed with evils, and, having dispelled the clouds of anxious care, had brought me joy. I said with myself, “What have the wicked to do with God, who cloak their crimes under the shadow of law, who join their deceitful counsels together against the life of the righteous, bear down the innocent by their party, and ruin him with their partial sentences? But the Ruler of the world, the guardian of my safety, the fortress of my trust, shall defend me. He shall render to the wicked suitable rewards for their iniquity, and the Lord, the Creator of the universe and our God, shall ruin them by their own devices.”
O come, let us all chearfully celebrate the praises of the Lord. Having obtained salvation, let us give thanks to the lord. Come, let us gladly make haste, away with slothful delay. Let us praise the Lord on the melodious harp. For the Lord is a great God, he is a great King, and much more powerful than all the other gods. He sustaineth with His hand the utmost parts of the vast earth and the cloud cap’d tops of the mountains. He both made, and when made governeth, the restless sea, and the earth that swimmeth amidst its salt billows. O come then, and with bended knees and uplifted hands let us supplicate our Lord and Father. For He is our god, we our His flock, on Him alone we depend and do we draw our breath, provided we give not a deaf ear to His words, nor obstinately reject his admonitions. “Neither provoke Me,” saith He, “as at Meriba, with bitter railings and presumptuous murmurings, nor by your rebellious voice try My strength, as formerly among the inhospitable rocks of the Arabian, when your forefathers tried Me and learned My power by numerous deeds. This nation hath resisted Me these forty years, and in the mean time I always said this people is unwise, and transmitteth my sayings through careless ears. Roused therefore by deserved wrath against these obstinate offenders, I swore, this obstinate people shall not reap the blessings of the holy land that were promised to those that love Me.”
Celebrate the Parent of the world with a new song, o ye inhabitants of the world, even from the unknown ends of the earth. Sing unto the Lord, extol His blessed name with praises, and with grateful mind acknowledge Him to be the assertor of your salvation. Let nations hear of the power of God, wherever the sun goeth round, and let wonder seize their minds, filled with sweet joy. For He alone is truly God, and greater than all praises, and to be feared by the other gods whom credulous ignorance holdeth in dread. The rest of the nations worship senseless ridiculous objects for gods, but the Lord with His powerful right hand made the heaven and the earth. Honour, majesty and power appear before Him, and the temples of the stars shine with the brightness of His glory. Ascribe unto the Lord, o ye generations of people who inhabit the earth, ascribe unto the King of the heavenly hosts both strength and power. Ascribe ye the greatness that is due to such majesty, bring presents with alacrity to the venerable courts of His Temple. Come, lead on the profession and fall down in a suppliant manner, and let all the uttermost parts of the world dread and love God. Tell to all nations that the Lord reigneth, Who bindeth the world with an immoveable chain and governeth it with righteous laws. Let the heavens be glad, let the earth rejoice, and let the sea and whatever inhabiteth the briny deeps of the ocean exult for joy. Let the pathless plains flourish, let them clothe themselves with corn, the produce of culture, and let the woods smile with flowers and be loaded with fruits. Let universal nature, rejoicing, perceive through all her parts the presence of her God, and readily obey His commands. For He will come to give judgment, to vindicate His own from violence, and to govern the world with just laws and with truth.
The Lord Himself manageth the reins of His own kingdom: be glad, thou continent, and ye isles which the restless ocean embraceth with its ebbing and flowing waves, under whatsoever region of heaven ye lie. The covering of a shadowy cloud and black night, dreadful with thick darkness, encompasseth Him. Stern severity and mild equity both attend as His servants and support His tribunal. Red flashes of lightning fly before His terrible presence, and overwhelm His enemies with pursuing flames. The sky too shineth with lightenings blazing far and near; the earth, astonished, trembleth; the rocks of the mountains, terrified at the presence of the everlasting deity, dissolve, as wax melteth by the intense heat of the fire; the earth, trembling, melteth away at the presence of its Lord; and the temples of heaven declare His righteousness. And they who dwell in the most remote corners of the world have known the power and presence of God. May dishonourable shame cover the faces of those who worship pieces of timber, devoid of thought, as gods, and, while they appease the ridiculous majesty of a painted trunk of a tree with sacred rites, boast of their devotion in committing abominable impiety. Let whatever credulous ignorance anywhere honoureth by the name of God adore Him alone and love Him alone. Sion shall gladly see the darkness of errors dispelled. Judea, filled with sweet joy, shall behold the profane sanctuaries of a vain worship overturned, and the impious suffer deserved punishments. For Thou, the righteous Governour, holdest the reins of the universe, far beyond the fiery walls of the starry world. And, being more exalted, Thou puttest all the gods far beneath Thee, and eclipsest them by the superior greatness of Thy majesty. Therefore whoever thou art that embracest God with a devout affection, keep your mind and hands undefiled by guilt. For piety is the Lord’s delight, and He defendeth the life of the righteous from the violence of cruel tyranny. And He poureth glad light on the lovers of righteousness, and the hearts that are undefiled with guilt He refresheth with joy. Rejoice, ye who entertain a veneration for righteousness and equity, being secure in the hope of favour and help of the lord, and with grateful song extol God and His holy name above the skies.
O celebrate with a new song the Parent of the universe, Who hath obtained the victory with uncommon valour. He alone with His own right hand, standing in need of no foreign aid, by delivering us, hath performed deeds that will be admired by succeeding ages. The heathen nations have felt the power of God in war, by the punishments they suffer they have learned that He is a righteous Judge and avenger. He performeth His promises to the children of Isaac with the greatest fidelity, the inhabitants of the whole world being witnesses of the salvation they have obtained. Gladly, therefore, sing unto Him, o ye inhabitants of the whole world. Raise Him to the stars with your praises and with the joyful sound of the trumpet. Praise the Lord on the harp, and let the harp be accompanied with the voice, and let the loud cornet play in concert with the soft flute. Let the sea and whatever the sea containeth express its joy, and let the globe of this earth and whatever this globe bringeth forth rejoice. Let the waves of the floods, whispering with gentle murmur, exult, and let the glad mountains by clapping their hands express their joy that God cometh. Behold the Lord Himself cometh in righteousness to bestow suitable rewards on all the inhabitants of the world, and punish impious deeds.
The Lord, Who giveth laws to the holy bands of spirits, now assume government, let horror seize the breasts of the heathen nations, let trembling shake the earth. Nor hath the Lord made the power of His godhead conspicuous at Jerusalem only: He hath likewise given the uttermost ends of the earth to see the riches of His majesty. Therefore let the race of men extol Thee with due honours, let them celebrate Thy venerable name, Who with salutary moderation establisheth order in Thy dominion. Who hast given to the chosen offspring of Thy people a Law that will in no age be changed, Who by an impartial distribution of justice governest the race of Isaac. Exalt ye on high our Lord and God with praises, Who reigneth alone in the serene heaven, and worship ye at His footstool, for our God is holy. Moses, and Aaron, and the holy Samuel, taught to stain his altars with sacrifices agreeable to the Law, when they sought counsel, divine responses were often given to them while they were inquiring. He gave to them, when perplexed with anxious fear, answers from the taper pillar of the cloud, because they had kept the precepts of His laws and the stipulated covenants with constant fidelity. Thou, o greatest and beth Father of the universe, gavest a favourable ear to Thy suppliants, both indulgent to good men and at the same time an avenger of crimes, being severe towards the wicked. Exalt ye the Lord on high with praises, Who alone reigneth in the serene heaven, and revere the mountain on which He is worshipped, for our God is holy.
Shout for joy, all ye inhabitants of the world, from the rising to the setting of the sun, and with a glad heart clap your hands to the best Parent of the universe, and come before His presence with unfeigned devotion. Approach His sacred thresholds, leaping for joy. He is our God, our Father and Creator, for we made not ourselves, but are His, Who nourisheth and governeth us who were fashioned out of the inconsiderable dust. Gladly, therefore, approach His gates and give thanks. Celebrate His bounty with solemn praises, make His blessed name known to the rest of the nations. For the goodness of God and His mercy towards His own people is infinite, and His faithfulness to His promises standeth established to their children’s children through everlasting ages.
Unto Thee, o Saviour of the universe, I sing, Who art slow of anger to Thy suppliant and easy to be prevailed with, at the same time strict to humble the rebellious pride of the wicked. On this my abilities are exercised, hither all my labours tend, that, in the hope of Thy aid, my house, regulated by Thy pure statutes, may always flourish. If Thou, reconciled, stretchest forth Thy salutary right hand to me, I will serve Thee with a pure heart. My court, uncorrupted by fraud and wickedness, shall serve Thee. Nor, if any one harass the misfortunate with unjust law-suits, or has betrayed the cause of a poor client to his opponent, will I propose his example to be followed by me. Let him who willfully persists in wicked practices be far from me, let the instrument of cruel wickedness never be reckoned by me among my select friends. Whoever, darting secretly with envenomed sting, woundeth an unwary companion, him will I pursue, punish, and quite pluck up by the lowest root. Nor shall the haughtiness of a lofty mind, nor the assuming countenance, nor he that with his eye despiseth all others as his inferiors, partake of the entertainments at my table. I love, embrace, and with pleasure behold those who delight in downright truth: with such companions may old age fill up my later years! Let my servant be of an unblemished life, let not a fraudulent person enter within my roofs, let no liar stay with me within my threshold. I will drive, without delay, the wicked far from the borders of the land, that the holy city of the Lord may banish every monster of impiety far away.
Holy Father, hear my prayers and attend to the sound of my mournful cry, neither turn Thou away Thy face from me, who am in a deplorable condition, afflictions besetting me from every quarter. Lend now Thine ear unto my supplications, o most gracious Father, be Thou propitious unto my vows and stretch forth a speedy hand to me, who am overpowered, and raise me by Thy present aid. My days fly away like clouds of smoke: as the torch wasteth away with gentle flame, so secret anguish gradually drinketh up the moisture from my withered limbs. While, unmindful of food, I torment myself with grief, my heart, exhausted, is consumed within me, as grass cut from the green turf withereth when scorched with excessive sun. My breath, thick fetched, so stretcheth my inwards, doleful groaning without intermission, so straketh my breast that already my consumed skin scarcely sticketh to my bones. As the cuckoo that inhabiteth pathless forests, or the owl that lurketh in ruinous roofs, or the solitary turtle [turtledove], I alone, forlorn, groan whole days and nights awake, while, as a mocking-stock, I am laughed at by the wicked, and they with villanous craft fall upon me, thus laughed to scorn. Nor is my bread more agreeable than dry ashes, and I mingle my drink with tears. Thy wrath loadeth me with those evils, Who hadst raised me from a humble station, that, dragged from my high degree again, Thou mightest cast me down the farther. My fleeting days hasten unto death, as a shadow in the evening twilight vanisheth into darkness, my body is withered like hay at mid-day. But the flight of winged time affecteth not Thee, Who joinest ages to ages without end, nor shall the age to come bury the memorable fame of Thy renown. At length arise, o Father, and behold now in Thy mercy the habitations of Sion with a favourable eye: the seasons, having completed their revolution, now return and usher in the promised day. Already Thy servants favourably behold her stones, that are thrown down, and the scattered rubbish, and now, having changed their mind, lament the wretched condition of the land lying uncultivated, that Thy fear may reach to foreign nations, that the name of the Lord may be celebrated and His power revered by all kings, wherever the earth, divided into three parts, is inhabited. When He shall reestablish Jerusalem, now demolished, when He shall cause the riches of His majesty to be seen, when He shall be prevailed on by the miserable complaints and humble prayers of those that mourn. These things shall be written on faithful tables, that the praise of the Lord may be known to latest posterity, and that His glory, thus transmitted to succeeding ages, may not know old age. It displeaseth not the Lord of the heavenly regions to look down on our trivial cares from the holy sanctuary of His ethereal habitation, from the inmost recesses of His Temple, to hear the groans of those that are appointed to death, that the Temple of Jerusalem may sing praises to God, and that Sion may echo back His name in the solemn assembly. The nations afar off, even from the uttermost ends of the earth, being stirred up, shall then bring thither their sacrifices, and suppliant kings shall offer gifts unto the Lord. Though He hath weakened my strength in the middle of its course, hath forsaken my hand, and hath contracted the period of my fleeting life within further bounds, yet I will cry, “O my only God, stop not the short course of the wheel in the middle stage of my life. How small a space have I now to the farthest goal?” Time, bounded by the short revolutions of the stars, shall never wear Thee out with old age, Thou art more ancient than the vast fabric of the solid earth, Thou art more ancient than the winged fires of heaven. Their times of dissolution are appointed to them, Thou shalt feel dissolution at no time. A succession of years weareth away other beings, as an old garment is worn out: as a rich man exchangeth worn cloaks for new cloaths, in like manner the curious machine of the world departeth and returneth, and changes its forms at Thy command. But Thou, Who hast been, always art and shall be, and Thou livest in Thyself. Not suffering various vicissitudes from the fleeting of time, Thou endurest to ages that know no end. Moreover, the offspring of Thy servant, and the posterity of Thy servant’s offspring in succession, shall pass with Thee a period of time resembling Thy perpetual duration.
Let the Parent of the universe be my song, let my voice praise Him, let my understanding, and whatever vigour there is in my inward parts, seek and honour His sacred name. O my soul, sing praises to God. O my soul, render thanks unto God. Let His benefits and the favours which he hath bestowed with a liberal hand at no period be forgotten, Who taketh away foul guilt, and healeth thy afflicting pain, and restoreth strength to the soul, and prolongeth the years of thy life from speedy destruction; Who with liberal hand giveth thee more than thou can ask with thy mouth, or wish for in thy heart, and preserveth thy youth flourishing after the manner of the eagle. The righteous Judge and avenger of crimes delivered His statutes unto holy Moses, He taught the offspring of Isaac the precepts of His divine laws. He is merciful and gracious, liberal in bestowing gifts, slow to anger, neither, mindful of our continued offences, doth He chide or burn with perpetual wrath. Nor is the manner or measure of our punishments proportioned to our offences: His goodness extendeth farther than the region of the earth is distant from the remote heaven. As the rising sun raiseth himself out of the eastern waves far from his western couch, so far hath he removed from us the stains of our guilt. Like as the tenderness of an indulgent parent towards his children, such is the tender mercy of our gracious Lord to him that adoreth His name with unfeigned piety. Thou, o Father, knowest the secrets of our mind, tho’ altogether concealed, Thou knowest the inmost recess of our heart, as being mindful that we are made of the red dust of the earth. The delicate beauty of a child shooteth forth like the grass, and groweth up with an imperceptible progress, till it falleth by the scythe of old age, like withered hay or like a flower with leaves of Tyrian purple: as soon as it hath smiled with countenance modestly chearful, it quickly falleth down by the breath of the sultry south wind. But by the eternal goodness of God, the assembly of the pious remaineth safe forever, and the future issue of their descendants in a long series, if they violate not the eternal laws of the Covenant they have made, but retain His commandments in their remembrance and imitate them by a life spent in purity. He hath placed His immoveable throne above the lofty tops of the sparkling heaven, and easily governeth the whole world by His nod. Give praises unto your Lord and God, ye angels who wait for the Lord’s commands, who have the authority and power of bringing all things under His yoke. Give praises unto your Lord and God, ye attendants of His camp who fight under the command of so great a leader, assiduously obeying His orders. Clap our hands and give praises to your Author, the Lord God, whatsoever the almighty Creator hath made throughout the extensive bounds of His dominion. O my soul, give thanks unto God, render thanks unto God, o my soul. Let my soul seek Him, and whatever vigour there is in my inward parts, honour His blessed name.
I will celebrate Thee, o God, the Lord and Parent of the universe. O almighty Father, how venerable with holy majesty dost Thou as Governour conduct the aeternal reins of the heaven! Thee beauty and glory encompasseth with their golden wings, and surrounding light covereth Thee as with a garment. Thou for a curtain suspendest the canopy of the bright heaven and the liquid waters in a circular arch, and Thou, being carried through the void on the speedy wings of the winds, bridlest the clouds flying like swift chariots. Gales of wind and flames of fire attend as Thy servants, ready to receive Thy orders. The earth standeth immoveable forever, resting on the foundations of its solid mass, being established by Thine almighty hand. This earth was formerly covered with the waters, as with a vail spread over the lofty tops of the mountains, but as soon as Thy voice rebuked them, and the heavens resounded with Thy tremendous thunder, mountains might be seen gradually to ascend, and hollow vallies sensibly to sink down, and the trembling waters to run into these hollow vallies. And, lest the earth should again be deluged by the incroaching waves, they, being confined within their proper limits, beat the resounding shores, afraid to pass over the bounds prescribed. Then clear fountains from the bottom of the hills augment the rivers that roll their waters along the verdant plains, whence cattle which browse on the fat pastures, and the wild ass which inhabiteth inaccessible rocks in the wild forests, may quench their thirst. The birds, which fly through the air with nimble wings, here crowd together their habitations everywhere among the green branches, and cheer the solitary places with their wild notes. Thou, o Father, abundantly fillest the lofty mountains and the humble plains with Thy celestial nectar, and bringest forth the fruitful seeds of things into the vital regions of light. Whence the cattle may crop the fresh fodder of green hay, whence pleasant herbs may spring up for the use of Man, also bread to recruit his wasted strength and cups of pleasant wine to exhilarate his spirits, and the juice of the verdant olive to cheer his countenance. Nor is the genial moisture of sap worse supplied to trees. Thou crownest Lebanon with the leafy cedar for nests to the birds, planted by Thee riseth the fir tree where the foreign stork nourisheth her unfledged young. Thou hast appointed the mountains for the timorous deer, the hollow rocks that the hedge-hog might dwell save in his hidden caverns. Thou makest the face of the moon to wax and wane at certain seasons, and in a regular track leadeth the sun, shining with clear light, to the place of his going down. After which, all-involving darkness drawing on, Thou spreadest nocturnal silence over the still earth. Then the wild beast creepeth forth from its den, and the ravenous young lion, having left the woods, ventureth to range through the empty fields, and with hoarse roar demandeth of Thee, its Creator, food from heaven. Then, the sun rising, these beasts of prey are again hid in their covert dens, and the labours of men and of oxen take place in their turn till the ruddy evening light up the stars of night. Thus, o Father, thou suitest Thyself to all occasions. Nor, o Father, dost the earth, that aboundeth which variety of good things, alone share of Thy favours, but likewise the seas that stretch out with such capacious bosom, encompassing this vast earth with their waters: so many thousands of the scaly races with tremulous tail play through the transparent deeps, so many monsters, huge and hideous to the sight, swim about the sail-bearing ships, and great whales make pleasant sport under the clear surface. And thus all the creatures which the earth maintaineth in its fields, of the sea in its waters, depend on Thee alone, o most gracious Father, and all of them ask of Thee, in due season, their proper food. When Thou openest Thy bountiful hand, all are abundantly satisfied. Thou again hidest Thy face, they are consumed. When Thou takest away their breath, they, forthwith dying, return to the dust; Thou again breathing life into them, instantly a generous race of fruitful offspring ariseth, and this golden generation inhabiteth the desolate earth. So let it be: o may the divine majesty reign forever without end, and may God, rejoicing, preserve His own works forever, that God at Whose nod the earth, affrighted, trembleth, at Whose touch the mountains smoke, a black cloud testifying their quaking fear. Him will I worship as long as I live, whilst my breath shall animate my body. May He only, Who is merciful and gracious, hear my intercessions, for I delight in Him alone. But let impiety be quite extirpated from the lowest root, and may no stock of wickedness sprout forth again, and we, o gracious God, will praise Thee, the Father and Lord of the universe.
Praise ye the Lord and call upon His name, publish throughout the world His illustrious deeds to foreign nations. He shall be our discourse, He shall be our song, and His miracles, His name, His power our only glory. Let the hearts of those that love Him, and of those that seek Him, leap for joy. Seek ye His strength, the ark, the sacred symbol of His strength, seek His blessed face continually. Call to mind how great signs and what wonders He shewed to our ancestors, and the ordinances of His laws which He hath left. I address myself to you, o ye seed of Abraham, you posterity of Jacob, ye servants of God set apart, a nation chosen by lot. He the alone Governor of the universe, the alone Ruler of the world, keepeth stedfastly the covenants made with our ancestors, He remembreth the words, He preserveth these covenants inviolable to a thousand generations, which were first entered into with Abraham, then sworn unto Isaac, ratified to the son of Isaac by an immutable law, and confirmed to his posterity by an everlasting bond when He said, “I will divide unto the the lands of Canaan by lot.” Although this family lived there as strangers but few in number, their stock not being as yet increased through a long course of time. Though like wandering exiles they shifted about from one kingdom and nation to another, yet the abundant favour of God sustained them, and He warded off oppressive violence from them with His omnipotent arm. He also restrained powerful kings by these awful threatnings: “Touch not,” saith He, “those Whom I have consecrated unto Myself, touch not Mine anointed. Abstain, I intreat you, from injuring My prophets.” When He brought devouring famine upon the rebellious world and took away from the guilty nations everywhere their food, He sent a servant before to the lands of the fertile Nile, the base slave-merchant sold the son of the beautiful Rachel. He lay concealed in the most gloomy apartment of a prison, having his legs bound with a fetter, till, the truth of the dream he had interpreted being made known to the king, he freed his legs from the iron fetter and absolved his soul from the crimes laid to his charge. And now, by a new turn of favourable fortune, he who was before the ignoble slave of the king’s manservants alone manages the reins of government; he who was lately released from prison now bindeth the princes of the court with chains, and, though a youth, he presideth over the grave wisdom of the senators. At length the race of Isaac, leaving their native lands as sojourners, pitched their camp by the streams of the fertile Nile. And, by the favour of God, they so increased again in fruitful offspring that in a short time the stranger exceeded the inhabitants in numbers. Then the king of proud Egypt, his heart being turned, intended by base treachery utterly to extirpate the race of Abraham, till, the period of the appointed time being completed, the legislator Moses, together with his brother, was sent of God and terrified Egypt and the king of Egypt with wonders. Therefore nature, not rebellious against the orders of the Lord, cloathed the heaven with darkness and covered the face of the earth with thick clouds, as in a dark night when the sun is ordered to retire. The water, discoloured, polluted the rivers with bloody gore and defiled the shores with the slaughter of the scaly race. The land that was formerly fertile in corn, being now in a preternatural manner fruitful in vile frogs, putteth on a loathsome appearance. The very palaces, the very bedchambers of their princes teem with frogs. Then flies, issuing forth in a thick swarm, covered their capital city Memphis, and there were everywhere filthy swarms of lice. Lightning mixed with hail fell down like showers, stripping the bushy trees of leaf, flowers and fruits. What the dreaded hail left, immediately the locust destroyed, and what had escaped the devouring locusts the caterpillar consumed. When the obstinate court of Egypt, repeatedly smitten with so many severe plagues, abated not its rebellious spirits, immediately a dreadful judgment raged among the very common people. Their firstborn were suddenly struck dead throughout all their dwellings, all places are filled with lamentation and weeping. When this stubborn king was at length terrified with the slaughter, the holy nation, now free from the tyrant, left Memphis, enriched with the gold and silver cups of these barbarians, nor among so many thousands had sickness seized any. Therefore the court of Egypt, now delivered from their fear, expressed its joy by their voice, countenance, and acclamations. But their indulgent Parent, mindful of the nation He had chosen for Himself, covered their camp amidst the pathless desert of thirsty sands with the shadow of a cloud by day, and cheared the gloomy night with the light of meteors that shined all around. When they asked food, a shower of fowls covered the fields, bread showered down through the air in the manner of thick hail. The rock, when commanded, poured forth streams of water, and from the bowels of the rock the former parched wilderness drank a flood. For their gracious Parent never was unmindful of His Covenant which he had made forever with His beloved Abraham. Thus these children of pious ancestors, safe under the guidance of His providence, left the deceitful fields of the treacherous Pelusium. Having seized on the habitations of barbarous nations, God gave them to enjoy the labours of the wicked, that they might observe the statutes of His holy Covenant and frame all their actions according to the precepts of His sacred laws. Praise, honour and glory be to the eternal King of the heavenly hosts.
Praise ye the King of the heavenly hosts, the good King at no time unkind to His own. Who in words can fitly express His deeds? Who shall come up to His greatness by the force of language? O thrice happy they who love righteousness, and who constantly observe the precepts of Thy Law! Do thou, gracious and favourable, remember us with that mercy wherewith Th9ou was wont to look upon Thy people, and, merciful and bringing salvation, visit me again, that I may enjoy the blessings of that people whom Thou hast set apart for Thyself, and gladly share that delight which they enjoy, and may glory in company with Thine inheritance. We, who are a wicked offspring, rebels against Thee, have with our wicked fathers committed many iniquities, we have perpetrated things abominable and dreadful. For neither did our fathers, delivered by Thee from the slavery of the Egyptian tyrant, with due attention weigh Thy wonders, neither remembered they Thy mercy with grateful hearts, but the people, with rebellious spirit, murmured against their leaders at the waters of the Red Sea. But Thou, who are art an indulgent Father, forgivest the wicked their offences, that the world may acknowledge Thy mercy and tremble at Thy power. For the water of the billows retired at Thy rebuke, the body of the water, being suspended on this side and on that, afforded them a dry passage along the sands of the calm sea, as if they fixed their firm footsteps on plain ground till, freed from this tyrant and the cruelty of their enemies, they safely arrived at more peaceful shores. But the sea swallowed up their enemies in its whirling deep, so that there was not even one of them left to bring tidings of their destruction. Being there in possession of safety, they then both gave credit to His words and sung in festive songs the power of the deity. Their fears being dispelled, forthwith wantonness seized their perverse minds, nor remembered they any more His wonders, nor their former dangers. Being suddenly stung, they burned with vile lust, and with their froward words provoked God to loose the reins of His just anger. He both gave the meat they impiously demanded and chastised these wicked men with just punishments. But neither punishment nor goodness could soften their savage minds, but envy and ambition, that always dependeth on wicked means, wantonly seized their leader and the brother of their leader. But the earth, opening up, swallowed up those who rebelled in its capacious bosom, and the flaming mouth of a fiery gulph devoured the impious. Nor, warned by so many punishments of the guilty, set this froward people bounds to their iniquity. On the top of Horeb, ah what wickedness! the image of God prostrated itself before the image of an ox and worshipped as a deity the figure of a bull that is filled with grass, forgetful of the safety lately obtained, unmindful of the miracle done in the Egyptian cities, and that in the same sea themselves were safe and their haughty enemies overwhelmed in its whirling billows. Therefore His righteous anger was about to destroy these wicked men, had not Moses offered to God this his precious life for the nation, and had stayed His wrath by supplication. Nor did the madness of the people stop even there: they despised the plenty of the fruitful country so long earnestly desired. Neither believed they when Moses taught, nor when God promised: filling the camp with tumult, they disdained His command till that munificent Parent, ready to extirpate those who had rebelled so often amidst the desert places of the mountains, lifted up His right and, and had already determined to destroy this whole race among the heathen nations. They again wantonly fell down before graven deities and offered frankincense and choice victims to lifeless gods, they provoked God by new crimes, and again incensed His avenging anger till Phineas, stirred up by a holy indignation, punished their abominable licentiousness with the sword and restrained the raging hand of the Lord, and procured to himself eternal honour, concerning which no ages to come will be silent. Nor did so many punishments restrain their rebellious spirits, but they again kindled the wrath of God beside the waters of Meriba. Nor was Moses free from the general madness: he likewise by his unbelieving speech turned the anger of the deity against himself. Then, after they had got possession of the promised land, they neither entirely destroyed all the seed of these heathen nations, nor obeyed they the commands of the deity when admonishing them for their good. But they mixed themselves with the heathen nations, they learned their vices, they served their mock deities, and, being enslaved to their ceremonies, they kept their hands pure from no kind of wickedness. For they sacrificed their sons and daughters before the altars of devils, and strained their idols with the innocent blood of their offspring, and polluted the holy land with murders. Being prone to commit abominable wickedness while they adored the works of their own hands, they provoked the God of their fathers to just wrath, so that, abhorring His own inheritance, He gave them over to be slaves to their heathen enemies, with whose heavy yoke being almost crushed, they laid aside their ungovernable fierceness of spirit. And, though oftentimes relieved by the Lord their Deliverer, they again assumed their rebellious dispositions against their Deliverer, and again they suffered punishments for their iniquities. Nevertheless the gracious goodness of God turned not way His ear from the prayer of the innocent when in straits: being mindful of His Covenant, merciful and placable, He remitted their punishments. Nay, He also softened the proud hearts of the barbarous nation to whom they were slaves, their own country being now destroyed, so that the appearance of their hard fate, which was so wretched as to be lamented even by their enemies, affected the minds of all. Protect us, o our Lord and God, and gather us again from among the heathen nations, that we may sing of Thee, that we may celebrate Thy holy name alone, that all the people with one accord may say, “Praise and honour be to the God Whom the children of Abraham worship for ever and ever. Amen, amen.”
Go to Psalm CVII