Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

are used in describing the operations of bis power and wrath, because these operations produce effects upon earth similar to the effects of a time of trouble, and a day of battle and war, and because snow and hail, drawn out of his treasury, are weapons of indignation with which his providence fights against the foolish, the froward, and the rebellious. Concerning these operations of his power and wrath, which he describes by the terms trouble, bauile, and war, the following particulars may be observed and illustrated:

First, Rebellion is the cause of these operations. The Lord is king over the earth, and to him subjection and obedience are due from all its inhabitants. Justice and jurigment are the habitation of his throne, and goodness, mercy, and truth, are displayed through his reign. In the misery of his subjects he hath no pleasure, and doth not proclaim war, nor open bis armoury, until rebellion be found in some of the provinces of his kingdom. “They rebelled, "and vexed his Holy Spirit; therefore he was turned to "be their enemy, and he fought against them."* In the present season, the Lord is appearing as an enemy and a man of war. His northern treasury, which used at this day of the year to be shut up and sealed, is still wide open, covering us with snow and battering us with hail. Of these hostilities rebellion is the provoking cause. The existence of rebellion in our island against the Lord, the God of the whole earth, cannot be denied. Enemies and rebels are the real characters of multitudes in this generation. By some his being and providence are not acknowledged, and by others the revelation of his will is rejected, while the great body of the nation walk after the imagination of their own hearts, and trample under their feet every one of his righteous and holy commandments. In many families he is not worshipped and glorified, and in others hypocritical and dead forms of devotion are presented, without spirit and truth, without the name of the Lord Jesus, and without the exercise of faith, and love, and holy fear. Ordinances, appointed in his word, and commanded to be received and observed by all, are despised and deserted. His great and glorious name is abused in vallies, and blasphemed among hills, and the day which he has set apart.

* Isa. Ixiii, 10,

Nm

1

for himself is turned into a day of private business, and demestic pleasure. Sensuality, ingratitude, and pride; lying, and deceit, and covetousness, which is idolatry, are stains in the national character, and prooss of disobedience and rebellion, which are open to all, and can be denied by none. When therefore, we ascribe to rebellion, we ascribe to their proper cause these hostilities which the Lord of the clements is carrying on against cur land, nor should rebellion be deemed a harsh and unsupported charge. Every unbeliever is an enemy to his Maker; and a rebel against the will of his Sovereign. “Hear, O heavens, and "give ear, 0 earth, for the Lord hath spoken: I have nou"sished and brought up children, and they have rebelled Gagaint me."* “For there is no faithfulness in their mouth, “heir inward part is very wickedness, their throat is an sopen sepulchre, they flatter with their tongue. Thou “shalt destroy them, O God; thou shalt cause them to fall "by their own counsels, and cast them out in the multitude "of their transgressions, for they have rebelled against "thee.”+

Secondly, These operations of the power and wrath of God, which he describes by the words trouble, battle, and war, are penal operations, or punishments of rebellion against the laws of his kingdom. If man had continued in subjection and obedience to his Creator and Governor, the earth would never have been troubled and harrassed from the air, swept with hurricanes and whirlwinds, nor convulsed and torn by earthquakes. But conspiracy and rebellion being found in him, the curse began immediately to operate, and armed every element to aitack him as an enemy. Falls of snow and tempests of hail are undoubted consequences of the intemperate and hostile state into which the elements are thrown by the curse, and though, by adjusting the measure and regulating the season, in the ordinary course of his providence, the goodness of God turns these material evils into benefits, on other occasions his justice converts them into weapons of indignation, and uses them in punishing and crushing his enemies. “They in"tended evil against thee, they imagined a mischievous deUvice which they are not able to perform. Therefore shalt "thou make them turn their back, when thou shalt make

*Isa. i. 2. Psal. v. 9, 10.

esready thine arrows upon thy strings against the face of "them.”* The penal nature of material evils is consideration wbich unbelievers have removed out of their sight. Under this consideration they do not think of these evils at all, and never hear it suggested without offence and derision. Among them all such emergencies are supposed to be unfortunate contingencies, that are under the direction of po providence, and have no connexion with the guilt and demerit of men. Scripture however uniformly represents these as operations of the wrath and power of God, and as punishments which he inflicts upon rebellious nations. By our, iniquities we provoke him to withhold good things, and to send upon us evil things.

Thirdly, These operations of his wrath and power, in describing which he uses the terms trouble, battle, and war, are just and holy proceedings against the rebellious. When Jehovah enters into war, the motto of his standard, like the voice from the altar, is, "Even so, Lord God Al"mighty, true and righteous are thy judgments." Rebellion is a complication of wickedness; and rebels, who reject an indemnily and refuse to listen to overtures of mer. cy, must be subdued and crushed by war. The punishment of the sword they deserve, and to their stubbornness the miseries which follow must be charged. Mercy being refused, military execution, under the authority of the Sovereign, is necessary and just. The plan of pardonin:. rebels, and reconciling enemies, to the praise of the glory of the grace and righteousness of God, was moved by his wisdom before the foundation of the world, and in the fulness of time executed by his only begotten Son. A copy of it, with every ingenuous and persuasive motive to submission, is laid before us in holy 'scripture; and by the glorious gospel, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, proclamation is made in the hearing of every enemy, that the Lord is good and ready to forgive. This plan, with the ministry of reconciliation founded upon it, is rejected by the unbelief of the generation; and, in resentment of the affront, the Lord is setting the elements in battle array against us, and, from his armoury in the north, discharging upon our rebellious land heaps of snow and morsels of ice. Is not this war just? Were there no

* Psal. xxi, 11, 12.

other acts of rebellion provable against us, unbelief would justify the Sovereign in having recourse to arnis. Unbelief, though it may pass without censure or notice in a system of morality, scripture declares to be a capital crime. Unbelief rejecis the testiniony of God concerning his be. loved Son, and treats him as a liar. Unbelief despises the righteousness and blood of Christ, and affronts biin in all his offices. Unbelief does despite unto the Spirit of grace, and attempts to counteract his gracious operations. Unbelief instigates sinners to idolize themselves, and to build hope of eternal life upon their own performances. Unbelief renounces, and scorns, and turns the back upon the only way to heaven that the wisdom of God has revealed; and every unbeliever, however civilized and refied in his manners, is a rebol, and an object of wrath: “He that be. “jieveth not is condemned already, and the wrath of God “abideth on him." Upon a signal from Jehovah every meteor is ready to attack him, according to the sentence under which he is lying.

We proceed now to speak concerning the reservation of the snow and the hail in the treasures of the Lord. In the expression there is a greatness becoming the majesty of the Speaker, and the state and grandeur of the Sovcreign. 'I who am Lord over all; I who do according to my will in heaven, earth and sea; I whose judgments are unsearchable, and whose ways are past finding out; I who put in commission every element, and speak from the whirlwind; J, even 1, have reserved.' “Who shall not fear kthee, O Lord, and glorify thy name; for thou only art "holy; for all nations shall come and worship before thee; "for thy judgments are made manifest."* The following particulars will help us to understand the sublime expression, which the Lord of all uses concerning his own operations:

First, The vapour, which fills the treasures of the snow and the hail, is raised, collected, condensed, and stored, by the power of God. All that is in these treasures ascends from the earth and the water below. The ascent of the light and volatile particles of matter, called vapour, is not the effect of energy in themselves. It is the effect of a

*Rev. xv. 4:

law which the Creator established, and which derives its force from his efficient concourse. “He causeth the va“pours to ascend from the ends of the earth.”* Collecting, condensing, and storing, or laying up these vapours, are not fortuitous operations, performed among themselves without iutention or design. According to the philosophy of Scripture, in which God is all in all, these are the motions and operations of the Creator, who buildeth his sto. ries in the heavens, and layeth up the depth in store-hous. es over our heads; and these are the expedients and mea. sures of the Sovereign, in filling his armoury, and prepar. ing himself for crushing rebellion, and for compelling rebels and enemies to humble themselves before him, and to acknowledge the supremacy of his will, the equity of his providence, and the holiness of his law.

Secondly, The treasures, which are filled and stored by the power of God, are poised and balanced by his wisdom. “Hearken unto this, O Job, stand still and consider the kwondrous works of God. Dost thou know when God “disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine? “Dust thou know the balancings of the clouds, the won"drous works of him who is perfect in knowlerlge?” These wondrous works are executed according to a determined and preconceived plan. In breadth, and length, and height, the store-houses of vapour correspond to the dimensions in the mind of the only wise and all-comprehending Architect. God, who set a compass upon the face of the depth, measures the clouds above, and stretch. es out over them the line of regularity and the plummit of perfection. The quantity of stores laid up in each cloud is measured. All that is useful is collected, and nothing unnecessary is found. He weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance, and is equally exact in balancing the clouds and ascertaining the weight of the treasury that floats in the air. Upon what pillars is it supported? by what cords is it suspended? with what springs and wheels is it lifted up and inoved? Here, and every where, God is all. “It is turned round about by his coun"sels, that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them kupon the face of the world in the earth. He causeth it to

* Psal.cxxxv. 7. Job. x x xvii. 14, 15, 16,

« VorigeDoorgaan »