If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand cease to function.
i.e. be numbed into deadness. The psalm expresses the feelings of an exile who has but just returned from the land of his captivity. He is oppressed with the desolation around him. His heart is heavy and bitter with the memory of wrong and insult from which he has but lately escaped. "He takes his harp, which he could not sound at the bidding of his conqueror by the waters of Babylon; and now with faltering hand he sweeps the strings, first in low, plaintive, melancholy cadence pouring out his griefs, and then with a loud crash of wild and stormy music, answering to the wild and stormy numbers of his verse, he raises the paean of vengeance over his foes" (Perowne). "Jerusalem is still the center round which the exiled sons of Judah build, in imagination, the mansions of their future greatness, in whatever part of the world he may live, the heart's desire of a Jew is to be buried in Jerusalem."
I. THE LOVE OF COUNTRY MAY TAKE THE PLACE OF LOVE OF GOD. Not all patriots are personal servants of God. Indeed, it is curious to observe that, as a matter of fact, active patriots have seldom been actively religious men; and interest in God has tended to shunt men aside from interest in country, some pious sections even going so far as to withdraw altogether from political and even social life. It is, however, the other side of the matter to which attention is now drawn. Supreme interest in the material things of patriotism tends to loosen the hold on a man of spiritual things. The patriotism of the returned exiles seems very beautiful; but it was a most serious peril to them, and proved so engrossing that patriotism, not Divine service, became the great national characteristic during the age of the Maccabees. Men fought for Jerusalem, not for God.
II. THE LOVE OF COUNTRY MAY EXPRESS THE LOVE OF GOD. Of this it is possible to take David as an example. There could not be a worthier instance of patriotism, but back of the patriotism, and its inspiration, was the love of God. His country was God's country; and service to his country was service to God. And this relation he kept up right through his life, and so he stands, in the historic page, the supreme example of "sanctified patriotism." - R.T.
I. SOME OF ITS CHARACTERISTIC FEATURES.
I. WHAT IT IS. It is love to the Church of Christ, regulated by knowledge, and prompting to zealous and steady activity in advancing the Church's interests. It is in the kingdom of God on earth what patriotism is in the body politic. It directs and rules him; he lives for the Church; he consecrates to her welfare all that he is, and all that he has.
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.I. THE OBJECT OF RECOLLECTION AND PREFERENCE BY THE CHRISTIAN. The Church of Jesus Christ — the universal Church, consisting of all, throughout the world, who believe and obey the Gospel.
1. The Church of Jesus Christ is the dwelling-place of God.
2. It is the light of the world.
3. It is the depository of ordinances and truths requisite for the weal of the human race.
4. It is the sanctuary of salvation.
5. It is a type of the Church in heaven.
II. THE EMPHASIS WITH WHICH THE CHRISTIAN EXPRESSES HIS RECOLLECTION OF, AND PREFERENCE FOR, THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST.
1. Because of its wonderful revelations.
2. Because of its sacred exercises.
3. Because of its ennobling associations.
4. Because of its momentous interests — truth, righteousness, joy.
(P. J. Wright.)
II. HOW IT IS TO BE EXEMPLIFIED.
1. By self-denial for the sake of the Church. This includes a disposition to forego everything, however innocent and lawful in itself, which we cannot enjoy without doing less than we ought to do for the interests of religion.
2. By identifying ourselves with the interests of the Church.
3. By promoting the purity of the Church. Not only is the Church of Christ a holy community, but holiness is the very thing which distinguishes it from the world.
4. By strenuously maintaining the integrity of the Church. It is not a mutilated, vitiated Christianity that is to convert the nations. It is when the Church goes forth in all the might of her Divine simplicity and integrity that she will take the world captive to Christ.
5. By labouring for the extension of the Church.
III. WHAT ARE THE CONSIDERATIONS WHICH SHOULD STIMULATE, THE OPERATION OF A RELIGIOUS PUBLIC SPIRIT?
1. Consider what is due to God. Is obedience due to Him? Well, cherish and exemplify public-spiritedness in religion, for God requires it of every one of you. Is gratitude due to God? due to Him more especially as the God of the Church? Cherish and exemplify public-spiritedness in religion: there is no "sacrifice of praise" more pleasing to the Lord.
2. Consider what is due to Jesus Christ.
3. Consider what is due to the Church.
4. Consider what is due to a perishing world. Will you not pity it, pray for it, do all you can to reclaim it?
(D. Young, D. D.)
1. A spirit of enterprise in behalf of religion. The Jew professed his religion in Babylon; he did not merge his Judaism in Babylonianism. He stood out in Babylon a Jew. Why not stand out a Christian? "I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ," says one. You are not to blow the trumpet; but there is another thing you are not to do — you are not to hide the light; you are not to place it under a bed, or under a bushel, or hide it in a cupboard.
2. A lively sympathy with the state of the Church.
3. Zeal for the Church's purity. This must be tempered with prudence and steeped in charity.
4. Prayer and effort for the Church's prosperity.
II. SOME OF ITS LEADING PRINCIPLES. They are to be found in the Bible.
1. The love of God. This love has prompted the noblest exertions. Shall I take you over the traces where this public spirit has displayed itself? shall I take you to the spots where apostles suffered, where martyrs bled, where confessors were burnt,? Shall I take you to Smithfield and its fires, or the Grass Market in Edinburgh and its martyrs' fires? What prompted men to such a nobility? It was this mighty principle — the love of God, the love of Christ.
2. A consideration of the connection subsisting between a Christian and Christ and His Church. No Christian lives to himself. The Christian is no isolated man; he is no solitary soldier. He feels himself one of a brotherhood; one of a great fellowship.
3. In proportion as we feel not only for our own things, but for the things of others, and especially for the things of grace, and Christ Jesus, just in that proportion do we most promote our own honour and our own happiness. God, in constructing the human heart, putting it together — putting his labours together, and lacing them together, has so adjusted the chemistry of the heart, the mechanism of the heart, that, if you do good to anybody — either to the body or soul of a man, especially the latter — if you do good, a feeling of pleasure will weave all around the pulsation of your heart; for it is your law, your constitution. God has made you all, so that you cannot do good and not promote your own happiness and your own honour.
(J. Beaumont, M. D.)
Homiletic Review.By keeping in remembrance the virtues and principles of the noble and patriotic men who laid the foundations of this republic. While the memory of the immortal Washington and his co-patriots is green, and the principles of his "Farewell Address" are cherished by us, we are safe.
2. By honouring with suitable memorial services those who have sacrificed ease and fortune and life itself at their country's call, in behalf of liberty, principle, the right.
3. By the enactment of wise and equitable laws, and a faithful and impartial execution of them. Never was the necessity of this greater or more imperative than now.
4. By elevating patriotism into a Christian virtue. Patriotism without piety; patriotism divorced from Christianity and the institutions of religion; the State, civil society, politics, given over to infidelity, to ungodliness, to the tyranny of human passions and selfish seeking, cannot be long maintained. And here is our greatest danger to-day.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
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