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2. Such a carnal frame of spirit mightily unfits for a time of trial, Luke.xxi. 34. Take heed to yourselves, left at any time your hearts be overcharged with furfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. Jonah's being exceeding glad of the gourd, made the withering of it intolerable to him. It makes one like a filly dove, without heart, when courage and resolution to set out against the fury of the storm is most necessary.
3. Great things in an evil day expose men to greatest troubles : so that many times they are like great weights of gold on a drowning man, that make him but link the faster, Eccl. v. 13. There is a fore evil which I have seen under the fun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt. And this may be one reason, why judgement ordinarily begins at the house of God, the Lord thereby making way for the main fhocks becoming easy to them ; as in the case of Lot. A stormy wind will rend up oaks by the roots, while shrubs are tossed only from fide to lide, 2 Kings xxv. 7. 12. When one is breaking down a house, it is the highest stones that get the forest fall.
4. Great things in an evil day are great temptations. It is not easy to lose a little for Christ and a good conscience: the bond is the stronger to draw people out of the road, where they have great things in hazard. The Lord best knows our temper, and what is best for our safety in an evil day.
5. A low and afflicted lot in such a day fits people for sympathizing with others, 2 Cor. i. 6. And whether we be affli&ted, it is for your confolation and falvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the fame fufferings, which we also suffer : or whether we be comforted, it is for your confolation and salvation. It is a selfish, hard-hearted world : and it is hard for them that are themselves at ease in Zion, to be grieved for the affliction of Jofeph. Therefore, while the Lord is
distributing distributing sorrows, let each welcome his own part, as necessary for that end.
Lastly, Though great things are most easy for the outward man, a low and afficted lot is most for the thriving of the inward, Zeph. iii. 12. I will leave in the midst of thee, an afli&ted and poor people, and they fball trust in the name of the Lord. It has readily more Christian experiences, than the full, easy, prosperous life has. And then though one may live more commodiously in the latter, yet it is more easy in the former cafe to die.
I shall conclude with a very few words on the second doctrine.
Doct. II. It should move men under such an appearance, that a time may come, that they shall think they win well away that win away with their life.
A sweeping stroke of mortality, whereof we have had an awful swatch, a stroke of pestilence, famine, or the sword of a foreign enemy, would foon make us forget all other things, so that life might be safe. We have been threatened with all there, and it is very like that some of them will be the lot of this generation, Num. xxiv. 23. Alas! who shall live when God doth this! They bid fair to get their life for a prey in such a case, that are suiting their spirits to their lot, and to the dispensations of providence, not seeking great things for themselves, though they figh while others sing. Therefore secure an interest in. Christ, and in the covenant that stands fast in him, and live by faith, and so it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord's anger.
Mercy often interposes to prevent the
Execution of Judgements.
Preached at ETTRICK, November 26. 1729 ; being
a Day of Thanksgiving appointed by the Presbytery of Selkirk, for the plentiful Harvest.
HOSE A xi. 8. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? how fball I de
liver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim ? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.
THIS is the very language of God's dispensations
1 to us at this day, whereby it is come to pass that we are allowed an occasion of thanksgiving, after very threatening appearances of providence.
We have here represented to us a struggle betwixt the divine attributes, as to the proceeding with Ephraim or Israel, one crying, Strike; another, Hold thy hand. It is spoken of God after the manner of men; not as if there were any real contrariety of motions and affections in God, who is always of one mind : but, in respect of the variousness of the events of providence towards a finful people, he is represented as a kind, but provoked Father, in whom there is a struggle of affections towards his rebellious fon. And here there is,
1. A demand and motion of justice against Israe
called Ephraim, for that was the chief tribe of them. And it is supposed. The demand of justice is, Ephraim is bent to backsliding; let him be given up, as an incorrigible son, an incurable patient. Israel called to the Most High is deaf to the call; let him be delivered into the hand of the enemy, as a lamb to the lion to be rent in pieces. They have carried themselves like the neighbours of Sodom and Gomorrah, rather than those of Judah; let them be made like them, like Admah and Zeboim; Gen. xix. 24. Then the Lord rained upon Sodom, and upon Gomorrah, brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven. Let the threatening be executed, Deut. xxix. 23. The whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not gown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger and in his wrath. .
2. An interpofing of mercy in their favour, expressed. Mercy fays, How shall I give thee up? How can I find in my heart to do it! Thou art my son, though a very untoward one; my people, though a very rebellious people. I find the bowels of a Father stirring towards thee: it is hard for me to make thee like those mine enemies that never stood in such a relation to me.
3. The workings of mercy to stop the execution of the demands of justice. My heart inflamed with anger against them, is turned within me into kindness and compassion. Every time I begin to strike, my heart misgives me, that I must draw back my hand; still I relent for him or repent, and these relenting or repenting bowels within me glow towards him, causing to pity and spare.
The doctrine observable from the words is,
Doct. Our gracious God being loth to go to an extremity with a people in special relation to him, mer
ey often interposeth for their relief, when they are
In handling this doctrine, I shall,
II. How mercy interposeth for the relief of such a people, when on the brink of ruin.
III. Give reasons why mercy thus interposeth in such a case.
and caley justly demfelves the, may To God, as hi
I. I shall take notice of some things supposed in this. It supposes,
1. That a people in special relation to God, as his church, his covenanted people, may so far forget their duty, and give themselves the loose in sinful courses, that they justly deserve to be abandoned, given up, and cast off by him. The visible church sometimes behaves itself in most of its members, as if they were the synagogue of Satan. This is clear from the text, and confirmed by our case at this day.
2. God is impartial in his judgements; and if God's covenant-people carry themselves like strangers, they may expect at length to fare like them. Justice has a demand on the finners in Zion, as well as on the sinners in Babylon, If. xlii. 24. Who gave Jacob for a Spoil, and Israel to the robbers ? did not the Lord, be against whom we have finned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. And the strokes of God on those of his own house, when they do come on in earnest, are readily very fore, Amos iii. 2. You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Their peculiar relation to him puts a peculiar edge on them.
3. Matters may be going fast to an extremity with such a people, and they yet continuing their course, and remaining impenitent. So was it here; there was nothing in their carriage to alter the course of