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Use II. Of reproof to two sorts of persons. · 1. To those who go with the stream of the evil days, and are themselves following the profane and backfliding courses of the day, that make the time so evil. Alas! how many are there, who are drawing on wrath on themselves and on the land by their irreligion, profaneness, and apostasy from God? Let such consider,
(1.) How dangerous it is to be found among those who are in a conspiracy against God, to provoke his wrath against a land. When the flood of dishonour to God runs so high, those that join themselves in the sinful courses of the day, they not only have a hand in provoking God against themselves, but they are the Achans in the camp, the Jonahs in the Thip, having a notable hand in bringing wrath on others too.
(2.) The higher one's hand is in a finning time, the deeper may their share be expected to be in a time of fuffering or calamity, when the Lord will appear to vindicate the glory of his name.
2. To those who weigh not the evil of the days, but live on carelessly, and are never stirred up to their duty thereby. They consider not how matters ftand betwixt God and the generation. This is a common evil amongst us, and a fad evidence of the low state of religion at this day. O that such would be stirred up to consider their ways, and the grounds of the Lord's controversy with the generation. Awake, O sleeper, and call upon thy God, left thou perish in the furious ftorm, which is likely to break out upon us. It is not a time to live at ease and unconcerned, when so many marks of the Lord's displeasure are so visible, that he who runs may read. Awake therefore, shake off thy Roth, and betake thyself to the Lord Jesus by faith, as the only means of thy escaping the wrath that is to come.
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Palling Passing under the Rod, a Means of a
People's being broughc into the Bond of the Covenant.
Preached on a Fast-day, at ETTRICK, Thursday,
December s. 1720.
EZEKIEL XX. 37. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will
bring you into the bond of the covenant..
TN these words we have a scheme of God's dispensa£ tion towards Israel, a people with whom he was. angry, but had kindness for. In which we may observe,
1. A sharp trial threatened; I will cause you to pafs under the rod. This rod is not to be understood of the king's rod or sceptre, but the shepherd's roď. God was the Shepherd of Israel, but they had strayed away from him. In the verse preceding this he tells them, that he would bring them together into the wilderness, and plead with them as he did with their fathers in that defert; and that the way he would treat them there, would be by causing them to pass under the rod. Compare Lev. xxvii. 32. The wilderness was Babylon, and the places about it, the place of their captivity. The rod was the seventy years captivity, and the hard treatment they met with during that period. The Lord tells them, that he would manage that matter as exactly as one C 2
in that plead bring therecedinga d fttay.
does in telling of sheep for teinding them; that he would make such a distinction and feparation among them, as was made by the shepherd's rod, when the flock was teinded: in a word, that he would teind them, and the stock should go for it one way or 0ther, but he would keep the teind to himself. Thns it was in the wilderness, where the body of that generation that came out of Egypt, fell, and never entered Canaan. Thus very few of them that went to Babylon came back, but either died or otherwise were left there. Compare verf. 38.
.. 2. The happy. ifsue of this trial to the remnant that won through; I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. This concerns the Lord's teind that fell to him by the whole passing under the rod. They had all lipt the bond of the covenant; their national idolatry had cut the very finews of it: but God would make them willingly put their necks again under the sacred bond. And so it was prophesied they would do, Jer. l. 5. Come, say they, and let us join ourselves to the Lord, in a perpetual com venant that fball not be forgotten. Compare Neh. ix. ult. And because of all this, we make a sure cove, nant, and write it. See chap. X. 28.-39. And they adhered so firmly to this covenant, that they never after fell to idolatry,
The doctrine I observe from the words is,
Doct. Justice mixed with mercy towards a gene. ration, to whom God's covenant is a burden, causes the treacherous generation to pass under a rod, destructive to many of them, trying to all of them, and so brings them back into the bond of the covenant.
In England and Ireland, the bond of the covenant has lain among their feet trod upon these many years ; In Scotland, church and state has loosed the bond, so that it is hanging down among our feet af
this day. There are three ways of God's dealing with such a generation.
1. The way of unmixed justice, laying the heavy curse of the covenant upon them, and either utterly destroying them that they shall be no people, or unchurching them that they shall be no people of God. Thus he dealt with the old world, Gen. vi. 13. The end of all flejb is come before me ;-and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. And thus he threatened to do with the church of Ephesus, Rev. ii. 5.--I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. And it is well known, that this threatening has been awfully accomplished.
2. The way of unmixed mercy or fovereign grace, making wide steps over the iniquities of men, leap. ing over mountains, and melting them with love into repentance and reformation. Of this we have a remarkable instance, If. lvii. 17. 18. For the iniquity of his covetqufnefs was I wroth, and fmote him : I hid" me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will beal him : I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him, and to his mourners. Sometimes the Lord takes that way, as Micah v. 7. The remnant of 'Jacob sball be in the midst of many people as the dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth. not for man, nor waiteth for the fons of men. But this is more to be desired than hoped
3. The way of justice mixed with mercy. This is the common road of providence, in which justice and mercy each act their part, and is the way in our text, and which we have ground to look for.
In discourfing further from this fubject, I shall,
I. Shew, that this is the common method of prom vidence in such a case.
II. What are those rods the Lord causeth fuch a generation to pass under. C 3
under the Rod, a Means III. How by such means a people are brought back into the bond of the covenant.
IV. Give the reasons of this dispensation.
thy count will rentetly dress, and upon ,
. I. I fhall fhew, that this is the common method of providence in such a case. This appears,
1. From plain scripture-declarations of the mind of God in such a case, as Hag. ii. 7. I will fake alt nations, and the desire of all nations foall come. Sha. king times go before reforming times. A hot furnace precedes the purifying of a droffy church, as If. i. 25. 26. I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin. And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning : afterwards thou fhalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faitba ful city. See chap. iv. And we have a passage most pat to our purpose, Zech. xiii. 8. 9. It fall come to pafs, that in all the land, faith the Lord, two parts therein ball be cut off, and die; but the third fall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as filver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried : they sbali call on my name, and I will hear them : I will say, it is my people; and they fall say, The Lord is my God. This is a sweeping stroke carrying off the most part, a hard trial to those that are left, and the covenant renewed with them.
2. From fcripture-instances. What heavy bondage did the Israelites suffer in Egypt, before God took them into the Sinai covenant? They met with a sweeping stroke in the wildernefs, before they en. tered into Canaan. The temple was built, and they had glorious days, in Solomon's reign; but before that almost continual wars in David's time, famine for three years, and about the latter end of his reign seventy thousand were swept away by the peftilence. They had seventy years captivity before the building