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STRACEY "Into Thy hands I commend My spirit : for Thou hast redeemed Me, O Lord, Thou God of truth." — Psalm xxxi. 6. WE have already observed, that the first words of the 22nd Psalm are the fourth of the seven sayings on the Cross — that great and exceeding bitter cry which went up to Heaven as the midday darkness began to clear away—" My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me ?" Here in my text is another of the seven sayings, recorded by S. Luke alone — " And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit : and having said thus, He gave up the ghost." (Ch. xxiii. 46.) othing can make us Christians to love the book of Psalms so much as the reflection that they, just as we have them, were the Saviour's own book of prayers ; that as God's people for three thousand long years have daily used these sacred compositions in their acts of prayer, praise, and thanksgivings to God, so we have these sure indications that our Lord Himself did so, that they were so familiar to Him, and thus He has set His seal upon their inspiration and excellence. There are other passages
CHRIST S VERY LAST WORDS I DEATH. 45 from the Psalms quoted by our Lord, and others applied to Him by the Apostles; but those first words of the 22nd Psalm, and these first words of my text from the 31st Psalm, were, we know, our Lord's own words uttered from the Cross — those of to-day the very last of the seven sentences — the very last words, with which Christ died with them upon His lips. There can be no doubt that David was in one of his
many sore trials and dangers when he wrote this psalm; for we find him saying at the 10th verse, " Mine eye is consumed for very heaviness ;" at the 11th, "My life is waxen old with heaviness, and my years with mourning ;" at the 13th, " I became a reproof among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours ;" at the loth, " Fear is on every side, while they conspire together against me, and take their counsel to take away my life." This was his state of fear and danger at the moment ; but then, what effect had all this upon him ? Only to make him trust the more upon God. The expression of this feeling of trust and confidence in God's care and love is as frequent as his sense of danger. In the very first verse he says, "In Thee, Lord, have I put my trust;" in my text (verse 6), "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit ;" in the next verse, " My trust hath been in the Lord;" in the 16th verse, "But my hope hath been in Thee, Lord : I have said, Thou art my God ;" in the 18th verse, " Shew Thy servant the light of Thy countenance, and save me for Thy mercy's
4.6 PSA LAI XXXI. sake ;" and at the 21st verse there is this beautiful exclamation, " how plentiful is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee : and that Thou hast prepared for them that put their trust in Thee, even before the sons of men !" And, once more, look at this admonition to others : " love the Lord, all ye His saints : for the Lord preserveth them that are faithful, and plenteously rewardeth the proud doer." Still, out of this whole psalm there are no words so sacred and memorable as those of my text, " Into Thy hands I commend my spirit," because they are the very words, as I have said, which our great Redeemer died with upon His lips. In Him w T ere all the troubles of David far exceeded and surpassed. Even His great and terrible bodily sufferings, which we dwelt upon while
considering the 22nd Psalm, were, we believe, as nothing compared to the agony of soul and spirit through which the Saviour passed in His work for our Redemption. There is no pulpit like the Cross, from which so much is to be learnt — none so great a sign-post along the pathway to heaven. It is but natural that those words, above all others, would be most deeply treasured up in the hearts and memories of His Apostles ; and we have one direct proof of this in the prayer of His first martyr, S. Stephen, at the moment of his death. He kneeled down, and prayed, " Lord Jesus, receive my spirit ;" while His last words, very like to the Saviour's first from the Cross, were, " Lord, lay not this sin to their charge ;"
MY TIME IS I THY HA D. 47 as his Master had said, "Father, forgive them ; for they know not what they do." And surely, my brethren, these words of my text are very true and beautiful words for each of us to use continually for ourselves ; and above all, as so many great saints are recorded to have done, at the moment of our death, " Into Thy hands I commend my spirit : for Thou hast redeemed me, Lord, Thou God of truth." How often would it be well for us to repeat this when we first wake in the morning, and have all the day before us, when we think of ourselves as fulfilling once more those expressive words, " Man goeth forth to his work and to his labour until the evening." How little do any of us know, and how seldom are we able to reckon for certain upon anything which may happen to us during the day. Day by day, as we know, many leave their homes never to return to them again ; others in the course of a day meet with accidents, fortunate or unfortunate, which shape and change, if they do not altogether mar and disappoint, their whole work and prospects in life. We often talk, it is true, with great
assurance of our plans, and hopes, and expectations ; but how often does the event belie the anticipation ? It is so truly said in this psalm we are considering, " My time is in Thy hand." What then is right, or what is better, than that we should humbly yet confidently commit ourselves, and all we are or have, to God's gracious care and guidance and protection, and say, in
48 PSALM XXXI. the words of my text, " Into Thy hands I commend my spirit : for Thou hast redeemed me, Lord, Thou God of truth "? This is exactly to do what the apostle S. James would lead us to, by saying, "Go to now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain : whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life ? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little while, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we should do this, or that." Again, at night, when the day's work is over, when, good or bad, its record has been entered on the registers, which never fade or perish, what is better than that we should, with the same blessed confidence and trust with which we went forth in the morning to our work of the day, commit ourselves afresh to God's holy keeping through the silent hours of the night, and pray for the protecting care of His Angels, and say, "Into Thy hands I commend my spirit : for Thou hast redeemed me, Lord, Thou God of truth"? Our lying down at night should be a daily reminder to us all how soon at furthest we shall be lying in our graves, as our rising up in the morning may be as true a reminder to us of our Ilesurrection at the dawn of the Great Day of all. If, brethren, we are mindful of the mercies which we every day receive, how God provides
all things that are good and necessary for every one of
HE RAISES US UP FRIE DS.
us ; how often the very wants and distresses of sickness or poverty are His special instruments to raise us up friends; how often we have been preserved from accidents and dangers which fall on others, but have not touched us ; when we think of our many daily sins and transgressions in one way or other, and yet God spares us ; how often good has been within our power, but we have neglected to follow or do it ; when we think of the need we all have of rest to recruit our powers of mind and body, and enable us to go forth with strength and energy to the work which lies before us, how can any one who is not altogether blind and dead, like unto the brutes that perish, lay his head down upon his pillow without humbly thanking the great Giver of all good for the Blessings he enjoys, and commend his body, soul, and spirit into God's safe keeping, saying, " Into Thy hands I commend my spirit : for Thou hast redeemed me, Lord, Thou God of truth"? And once more, when we feel and know our end to be near at hand, how blessed for us if we are able then humbly but confidently to rest our souls upon the Almighty Lord ; if we are able so far to follow Christ as to be able to say, " Into Thy hands I commend my spirit : for Thou hast redeemed me, Lord, Thou God of truth." It is then indeed that a true faith brings its own sure peace and comfort to the Christian's heart. When this world is all past and gone to him ; when he
feels that another sun, or perhaps not even that, will II. E
50 PSALM XXXI. be all that will ever rise and set to him in this life ; when he has carefully looked back through his past life, and while asking God's forgiveness for all his unnumbered sins and offences, sees how His grace has worked in him and with him ; how through this secret power of God he has gone on from grace to grace, from strength to strength, how will such an one humbly but thankfully say, with the assurance of faith, as so many have been known to do before — S. Polycarp, S. Basil, S. Bernard, and many others — " Into Thy hands I commend my spirit : for Thou hast redeemed me, Lord, Thou God of Truth." But let us not hope that we may take all this comfort and assurance to ourselves on false grounds. We are told that men's estimates of others will be strangely reversed at last, and "many that are first will be last ; and the last will be first then." And if we would desire for ourselves that we may at our last die the death of the righteous, we must, brethren, live the life of faith and righteousness while we arc in health and strength. Christ is our Redeemer from sin, not in our sins. othing we can name is so sure as that we shall each be judged at the last day according to the deeds done in the body. Christ has gained for us, by the sacrifice of Himself, not only Redemption from eternal death, as the penalty of sin, but Redemption from the power of sin also. We cannot say, as they of old might, that we are altogether unable and powerless to resist the devil, and so to conquer. The
REDEMPTIO FROM SI 5 1 Saviour has taught us how that may be done. He has shown us how to do so in His own most holy life and person ; and that we may do this, He gives us His Holy Spirit, as it dwelt without measure in Him. He assures us that no prayer shall ever fail of being accepted through His name. He feeds us with the bread of heaven, and makes us one with Himself, and becomes " Christ in us, the hope of glory." What more could be done, which He has not done for us? What less can we do than often say and feel, " Into Thy hands I commend my spirit: for Thou hast redeemed me, Lord, Thou God of truth."
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