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SERMONS.

SERMON LVIII.

PREACHED UPON THE PENITENTIAL PSALMS.

Psalm xxxii. 7.

Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt

compass me about with songs of deliverance.

As rhetoric is said to be a fist extended and displayed into an open hand, and logic a hand re-collected, and contracted into a fist; so the church of God may be said to be a soul dilated and diffused into many congregations, and a soul may be said to be the church contracted and condensed into one bosom. So not only the Canticle of Solomon is taken indifferently by the ancient and later expositors, by some for an epithalamium, and marriage song between Christ and his church, by others, for the celebration of the same union between every Christian soul and him, but also many other places of Scripture have received such an indifferent interpretation, and are left in suspense, whether they be to be understood of the church in general, or of particular souls; and of this nature and number is this text, Thou art my hiding place, &c. For St. Hierome takes these words (and the whole psalm) to be spoken collectively, others distributively; he in the person of the church, they of every, or at least of some particular souls. To examine their reasons is unnecessary, and would be tedious; it will ask less time, and afford more profit to consider the words both ways. In them therefore, considered twice over, we shall see a threefold state of the Christian church, and a threefold mercy exhibited by God to overy Christian soul. First, we shall

VOL. III.

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