Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

"come, whether for correction, or for his land, or for "mercy."

Thirdly, The snow and the hail are detained in the treasures until the time of trouble and the day of battle and war. Princes, who know the rebellious disposition of their subjects, provide themselves with armsand military stores, to disperse insurrections against the law, and suppress rebellions against the crown. With the rebellious state of his dominions upon the earth the Lord is perfectly ac.quainted. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He is present every where, and beholds the evil and the good. The meetings of the rebels are held under his eye. The plots against his government are formed in his presence. The hard speeches of ungodly sinners are spoken in his hearing, and before him the lurking-places of iniquity are naked and open. “His eyes behold, his eye-lids try”-behold and try not the works only, but “the heart and reins of the uchildren of men.” While treasonable practices are gooing on, the Lord doth not leave himself without witness. among the rebellious. He gives rain from heaven, and fills the hearts of enemies with food and gladness. In the holy scriptures he places before them the covenant of peace, and by the ministry of reconciliation encourages them to submit to his mercy. But when these graciousovertures are rejected and scorned, he changes his measures, and, after the manner of men, prepares for war. From the ends of the earth and the surface of the sea vapours are raised, condensed, laid ups and detained in bis treasures until the day.in which he hath determined to begin the battle, and to cause judgment to be heard from heaven. “Our God shall come, and shall not keep (silence; a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be ve"ry tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the "beavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge “his people. Gather my saints together unto me, those "that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. And the "heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God is judge "himself. Selah.”'t

From the text, and the illustration which you have now heard of it, the following inferences are obvious and intera

* Job. rxxvii. 12, 13. Psal. 1, 3, 4, 5, 67

esting:-- 1st, In war from heaven the inhabitants of the earth are the aggressors. Naturally men are haters of God; and by enmity and disobedience, by overt acts of treason and rebellion, repeated and multiplied without number, and without cause, provoke him to take up arms, and fight against us in the operations of his providence. In distressing families of men, and starving and burying herds of cattle, the Most High hath no pleasure at all. Suspicions of his taking pleasure in calamity and desolation are offensive and dishonorable to his goodness; and when we behold a war of desolation from heaven begun, the causes must be allowed to originate amongst ourselves. Insurrection against the King of kings has been made in our island, and rebellion and sedition have been found in our cities and villages. We have procured this distress unto ourselves; and, by the dispensations of providence and the ministry of the sanctuary, proclamation is. made in the hearing of every ear, “Thine own wickedness "shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove "thee; knoi: therefore and see, that it is an evil thing and sbitter that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that "my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts."*

2dly, Provoking the Lord of hosts to battle is the folly of wickedness. Are we stronger than omnipotence, or able to contend with the Power who commands the armies of heaven, and who enlists and employs in his ser. vice the force of every element? Before him, kings, and great men, and mighty men, that cause terror in the land of the living; are grashoppers and worms. challenge worm, and grashopper may fight grashopper, or one potsherd of the earth strive with another; but woe unto that man who striveth with his Maker. We cannot prevail over him by strength, nor can we deceive him by strat. agem, nor surprize him unprovided. He is always prepared. The treasures of his wrath are never empty, and the armies of his power are never disbanded. “Do we pro

voke the Lord to jealousy, are we stronger than he?"4 Till we be stronger than he, it is not simply wickedness, but the folly of wickedness, to provoke him to jealousys for by strength shall nó man prevail."

Worm may

*Jer.ii. 19. f1 Cor. x. 22. 1 Sam. ii, 9.

Un

3dly, “Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." Samuel pronounced this judgment concerning the rebellion of a prince against the God of Israel, and his judgment is according to truth. By the law of the God of heaven and earth the former is expressly prohibited as well as the Latter. Nor doth the whole resemblance lie here. Were . not men witched by the deceitfulness of sin, and seduced by the father of lies, they could not rebel against the will of God, nor list arms to overturn his throne. Our rebellion is wholly unprovoked. The law of the Lord is holy, just and good, and hath nothing in it to alienate our hearts from his government. The administration of his provi. dence is without tyranny and oppression, and full of truth, and righteousness, and goodness: “The Lord is good 10 wall, and his tender mercies are over all his works.” der the princes of this world there may be grievances, and subjects may have something to say for a change of administration; but with respect to the government of God every mouth is stopped: “What iniquity have your "fathers found in me?"* "O my people, what have I “done unto thee, and wherein have I wcaried thee, testify Wagainst me?"+ "O house of Israel, is not my way equal, “are not your ways unequal?” “Have I been a wildersness unto Israel, a land of darkness? wherefore say my “people, We are lords, we will come no more unto whee?”S Besides, it is not a rebellion in one age, but the rebellion of all ages. From the time in which man revolted in paradise to this day the world, and particularly the enlightened part of it, has been in a state of rebellion. No measures of goodness and love have extinguished the alienation of men, and united them in obedience and sub. jection to God. Upon the rebels the sun hath shined and the rain hath descended; but, though enlightened and wa. tered by heaven, though filled, and clothed, and warmed, with one fruitful season after another, they are still in arms against the Father and the Sovereign of all. The mission of his beloved and only begotten Son, and the kind offices in the ministry of reconciliation which follow it, are rejected by the disobedient and rebellious world; and the covenant of peace through his blood, with all the benefits of

[blocks in formation]

it, though attested by the Spirit of truth, is reviled and trodden under foot, as if it were a cunningly devised fable. Wonderful is the goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering of God! Why are not the rebels exterminated and the world consumed? One reason is, the elect's sake; and another is, the Sovereign is Gud and not man.

4thly, Humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of the Lord, and taking hold of the covenant of peace, is present duty and true wisdom. This we are invited, encouraged, and commanded to do, by the Sovereign against whom we have rebelled. Hearken unto the voice of his word, ( enemies, and accept the overtures of his mercy. The day of grace is far spent, and the night is at hand, in which an endless tempest and an eternal war shall commence: “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and “brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the porstion of their cup."* The sword of the warrior is sheath} ed, and the armies of our enemies are disbanded; but a trumpet is sounding in the dispensations of Providence, and a war is threatened in a tempestuous season.

Snow and hail, which the Lord reserves against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war, are poured upon us, from his treasures in the north, at a day in which sowers used to be casting in the seed, and young men to be harrowing the vallies after them. These are uncommon occurrences, and present to us a gloomy and threatening aspect. But let us not despond. There is encouragement for intercession, and opportunity for submission.The Lord of the seasons, and the commander of the elements, is a gracious and merciful Sovereign. Who can tell if he will sound a retreat, turn and repent, and say, It shall not be? We hear that he is a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and repenteth bim of the evil.

“Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house sof Israel are merciful kings; let us, I pray thee, put "sackcloth upon our loins, and l'opes upon our heads, and "go out to the king of Israel, peradventure he will save Why life. So they girded sackcloth upon their loins, and “put ropes on their heads, and came to the king of Israel, (and said, Thy servant Benhadad saith, I pray thee let me

*Psal. xi. 6.

[ocr errors]

(live.” Whatever might be in a report that the kings of the house of Israel were merciful kings, the report that the God of Israel is the merciful God is not uncertain hears:y, but a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation. Before Moses che passed by, and proclaimed, The “Lord, the Lord God merciful and gracious, long-suffer"ing, and abundant in goosiness and truth, keeping mercy "for thousan:ls, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin.” The truth proclained in this solemn manner is unquestionable, and reported to the world by the ministry of reconciliation, with the witness and testimony of the Holy Ghost. Upon it applications for mercy are grounded: “Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion and gra“cious, long-suffering and plenteous in mercy and truth, “() turn unto me, and have mercy upon me. Counsels and exhortations to the guilty and rebellious rest on the same foundation: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and rithe uprighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to "our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”+ And, accor: ding to the proclamation, mercy hath been shewed to the worthless and ill-deserving: “Our fathers dealt proudly, uhardened their necks, and refused to obey. But thou (art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow (ito anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not; 6-according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them rósaviours;-many times didst thou deliver them, accord"ing to thy mercies,-for thy great mercy's sake thou "didst not utterly consume them nor forsake them, for ""thou art a gracious and merciful God."! Why is the sound of mercy in this confession of the Levites so clear, so loud, so melodious, and repeated so fervently? To ascertain a truth, that the Ciod of Israel is the merciful God? More is intended. The glory of his mercy appearing in the record of his administration overcomes resistance, subdues the enmity of the heart, and, through the death of Christ, reconciles the enemy to God.

Do the justice and holiness of God appear against the offer of pardon, and the communication of mercy to rebels and enemies? -No. Through the obedience, death, and intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ, justice and ho

* Psal. lxxxvi. 15. 16. tIsa. lv. 7. Nch. ix..

« VorigeDoorgaan »