Your congregation has dwelled therein: you, O God, have prepared of your goodness for the poor.
We hold it as altogether one of the most forcible sayings of Holy Writ, that "the poor shall never cease out of the land." The words may be regarded in the nature of a prophecy; and we think their fulfilment has been every way most surprising. But our great business lies with the fact that poverty is the appointment of God. "The rich and the poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all." When we have fastened on the truth that God troth appointed poverty, we must set ourselves to show that God hath not overlooked the poor. The Gospel of Christ makes no distinction, whether preached in a palace or in a cottage — whether it addresses itself to ignorant men or to learned men. There is no variation in the message: it speaks to all as being born in sin and shapen in iniquity; and announces to all the same free and glorious tidings — namely, that "God hath made Him sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." But not only has God thus introduced a kind of natural counterpoise to the evil of poverty; in the appointment of the method of redemption He may be said to have especially provided for the meanest and the most destitute. There is nothing in the prescribed duties of religion which, in the smallest degree, requires that the man be a man of learning and leisure. The Gospel message is one of such exquisite simplicity — the sum and substance of truth may be gathered into such brief sentences — that all which is necessary to know may be told in a minute, and borne about by the labourer in the field, or the soldier on the battle-plain. Nay, we shall not overstep the boundaries of truth if we carry this statement further. We hold unreservedly that the Bible is even more the poor man's book than the rich man's. There is a vast deal of the Bible which seems to have been written for the very purpose of making good our text: "Thou, O God, preparest," etc. But there is yet another point on which we think it well to turn your attention; for it is one which is not a little misunderstood. We know that what are termed the evidences o! Christianity are of a costly and intricate description, scarcely accessible except to the studious. It is hard to suppose that the unlettered man can be master of the arguments which go to the proof of the Divine origin of our faith. We think assuredly that, if you take the experience of the generality of Christians, you will find that they do not believe without proof, and that, therefore, they are not unfurnished with weapons with which to repel infidelity. They do not believe without proof; but the proof lies, as Horsley says, in the surprising manner in which the Bible commends itself to their souls — in the inexhaustible stores which they find in Jesus — in the agreement of the doctrines and precepts of religion — in that exemplar of good, and in that fear, which a devout heart carries about with itself. "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself." And we think there can he nothing far-fetched in the assertion that there is no evidence of the divinity of the Scripture half so strong as that which a man knocks out for himself with the simple apparatus of a Bible and a conscience. So that we think that God hath so ordered His Word that it carries its own witness to the poor man's intellect and to his heart.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thy congregation hath dwelt therein: thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor.