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God's Dispensations towards a froward
Preached at ETTRICK, March 13. 1928, on a Faft
day appointed by the Presbytery of Selkirk.
DEUTERONOMY xxxii. 20. And he faid, I will hide my face from them, I will see
what their end shall be : for they are a very fra. ward generation, children in whom is no faith.
THIS fong, after the introduction, ver. 1.-6. T sets forth God's special favours to Ifrael in ancient and later times, ver. 7.-14. Israel's ingratitude to and apostasy from God, ver. 15.-18. He instances particularly in their sensuality and idolatry. Then foliows God's just resentment of their apoftafy. Instead of delighting in them, he disdains them; instead of his former favours to them, he will turn a. way from them and leave them.
In the words we have two things..
1. A resolution taken in heaven againft them, And he faid, I will hide my face from them; and what God fays must stand, he will not unsay it again. And two things he is resolved on against them.
(1.) That he will hide his face from them, Heb. cause to hide, pointing at a vail he would draw between him and them, which they should not be able to remove. His hiding his face from them, is the withdrawing of the tokens of his favour, and his re
fusing them his countenance, as one wroth with them.
(2.) That he would see and observe what their end or latter part would be. The former part of their time had been a time of much kindness shewn to them from God, and base ingratitude to God in them. Now he resolves to withdraw his favours, let them alone, and see what they will make of the latter part, and proceed with them accordingly.
2. The reasons justifying this resolution.
(1.) They were a froward generation, very fro. ward, a generation of perversenesses; whatever way God would draw them, they would still turn the contrary, and would not be managed.
(2.) They were a faithless generation; though children, and fons, by an external federal adoption, there was no trustiness in them; they would say and unsay, no ties would bind them; they were false and fickle, and still played fast and loose The first reafon seems specially to relate to the first part of the refolution; and the second to the second part of it.
We may take up the substance of these words in four points of doctrine.
Doct. I. It may be the just character of a generation of the church, that they are a very froward generation.
Doct. II. A holy God will hide his face from a froward generation.
Doct. III. God, hiding his face from a froward generation, waits to see what issue they will bring it to, that he may take course with them accordingly.
Doct. IV. What provakes God to deal thus with a generation, is their being children in whom is no faith, men profesing the true religion, and yet so false as that they are not to be trusted...
I shall endeavour to explain and apply each of these doctrines in order.
Doct. I. Doct. I. It may be the just character of a generation of the church, that they are a very froward generation. This is the just character, . . 1. Of a generation deaf to the calls of the word, not to be wrought upon by the offers of the gospel, nor the terrors of the law, Matth. xi. 17. God calls finners to turn from their sin, holding out the arms of his mercy to embrace them ; stretching out the fla. ming sword of his justice to fright them; the one in the gospel-promises, the other in the law-threatenings. But they go on frowardly..
2. An incorrigible generation, whom the kindness of God in his providence to them will not draw to repentance, and who go on wilfuily in their finful courses over the belly of correction, and the rebukes of providence they meet with, Rom. ii. 4. Defpifeft. thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance ? Jer. v. 3. Thou hast . Atricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction : they have made their faces harder than a rock, they have refused to return. In the one, finners despise his favour; in the other, they defy his feud. Let him say and do what he will to them, they will have their swing, cost what it will, Jer. ii. 2;. I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.
3. A generation impatient of check and control, Hof. iv. 4. Let no man strive, nor reprove another s. for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. They scorn to be hedged in within the bounds fet them by the law of God: the more they are striven against, the more do their lusts rage, the more are their corruptions irritated. io offer to dam them up, is to provoke them in effeét to go from evil to worse: their wickedness comes down like an overflowing flood.
4. A generation turning its edge against truth and holiness; being set not only to take their will in their
own courses, but to run down religion, and what has the stamp of divine approbation on it, Luke xi. 52. Wo unto you, lawyers : for. ye have taken away the key of knowledge : ye entered 110t in yourselves, and thens that were entering in, ye hindered. Not only they will not be managed themselves by the divine counfel, but they wage war against truth and seriousness, that they may get them driven out from the generation.
Use. And is not this the just character of the present generation? How fruitless is the preaching of the gofpel among us? how little valued are the terrors of the law? The kind casts of providence in sig. nal deliverances, the awful rebukes of providence which the land and particular persons have smarted under, are both neglected. The generation in church and ftate, in congregations and families, are past striving with in hopes of any amendment, Hof. iy. 4. forecited. Secret fighing and mourning over the cafe before the Lord, is the great thing that is left for Zion's mourners, Jer. xiii. 17. But if ye will not hear it, my foul shall weep in secret places for your pride, and mine eyes Mall weep fore, and run down with tears.. And truth and holinefs is run down with error and profaneness. The precious truths of the gospel are reproached and despised; and while there is an inun., dation of immorality in practice, there is a bringing in a Christless morality in doctrine, instead of the glorious gospel of the grace of God. What is to be expected of these things? Why,
Doct. II. A holy God will hide his face from a fro. ward generation. This fpeaks two things.
1. God's displeasure with such a generation, If. lvii. 17. For the iniquity of his covetousness was 1 wroth, and fmote him: I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. However they may be pleased with themselves and their own condition, God is highly displeased with them ;
and they will find it to their coft at long-run. A from ward generation is a generation of God's wrath. Men may put fair colours on their apoftafy, to bring them. felves and others into a liking of their courses; but God will not be mocked.
2. God's difdain and loathing of such a generation, Deut. xxxii. 9. 20. And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his fons, and of his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end sball be : for they are a very frowerd generation, children in whom is no faith. Sinners pride themselves in their abomj. nations, as if they would cope with heaven; but God disdains them as contemptible wretches, whom he can in a moment crush in pieces. They please them felves wallowing in the mire of their course of aposta. fy; but God loaths them as abominable in his eyes. · And it imports two things.
1. His withdrawing the former tokens of his family vour from them; the light of his countenance that fometimes fhined, goes down on them; and the heavens lour on them, however earth may smile, Jer. xv. 9. She that hath born feven, languisheth: foe hath given up the ghost, her fun is gone down while it was yet day. Heaven's favour and smiles put a crown on the head of a generation; but a froward generation, ungrateful for them, provokes God to put a stop to the course of them. : 2. His turning his back on them, departing, and forsaking them. Afroward generation first turns their back on God, neglecting to walk in his ways, Jer. ii. 27. They have turned their back unto me, and not their face; and then God pays them home in their own coin, turning his back on them, Jer. xviii.. 17. I will poew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity. So that they have not the access to him which they sometimes had; nor does he appear for them, as sometimes he did.
Use. Is not this the very case we are in at this