salvation. To determine the probability of your success, you need not inquire how many, or how few will be saved: You are only to enquire, what you yourselves are doing. In the destruction of the old world, Noah and his household, though few, only eight souls, were preserved. At the wedding. supper, the one unworthy guest was cast into utter darkness. Whatever may be the number of the righteous, or of the wicked, the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.

The apostle says to the Corinthians, They who run in a race, run all; but one receiveth the prize. So run, that ye may obtain. I so run, not as uncertainly. In a race, there is only one prize; and whatever exertions the combatants make, it is only the foremost who wins. In the Christian race it is otherwise. Here is a prize proposed to each; and all may obtain, if they will run well. Therefore the apostle says, So run, that ye may obtain. Ye may all obtain, who enter on the race, and finish the course. Your success will not be influenced by the good or ill success of others: It will be determined by your own sincerity, activity and perseverance. I so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one who beateth the air; but I keep under my body to bring it into subjection, lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

5. If creation deserves our praise, redemption deserves it still more, for this is our hope.

Creation displays God's wisdom, power and goodness; redemption displays his holiness, justice and grace. If it is matter of gratitude, that we were called from nothing into rational existence; it is matter of higher gratitude, that we are recovered from darkness, bondage and fear, to a state of light,

liberty and hope. If we are to give thanks, that, when we were nothing, God called us into being, to behold and contemplate his works; much rather should we give thanks that when, by perverting the design of our creation, we had ruined ourselves, in him was our help; that when we were without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

Finally, we are to glorify God for the prospects which are opened before us.

Here we may know something of God's works; for creation is all around us, and providence is working before us. Angels and saints above know more of God's works than can be known here. They have a stronger sight, and can look to more distant objects. They are raised to higher ground, and can command a more extensive view. Their sight is not bounded by the circle of our horizon, nor their prospect terminated by the canopy of our skies. They see more than we can see, and they admire and love more than we can do. But delightful is the hope, that we shall one day be with them, and be like them; see as they see, and praise as they praise.

We behold many wonders of God's wisdom and goodness in this earth, and in those heavens. But, What are these compared with the wonders which will crowd upon our sight, when we shall tread the new earth, and contemplate the new heavens? At the opening of these new scenes, all former glories will be extinguished, like a lamp before the rising sun. Behold, says the God of glory, I create new heavens, and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. Be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create. Behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.

The new heavens and earth will need no sun or moon to shine upon them. The glory of the Lord shall lighten them, and the nations of them who are

saved shall walk in the light thereof, and there shall be no night there.

While we dwell in this lower creation, let us rase our thoughts to the superiour world, and here begin the devout and holy exercises which are to employ us there.

If all things were created for God's pleasure, let us remember, that for his pleasure we were created too. We are to live, not to ourselves, but to him— to make, not our own, but his will, the rule of our actions-to please, not ourselves, but him whose will is perfect-and to expect happiness, not in the world, but in his favour.

Be not then conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God.

[merged small][ocr errors]

God works, not for our Sakes only, but for his Name's Sake.

[ocr errors]

EZEKIEL xxxvi. 32.

Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you;

To the Jews, now in captivity at Baby

lon, the prophet, in this chapter, communicates God's gracious promise of their restoration to their own land; and describes the happy circumstances which should attend it. They should be reinstat ed in their former privileges-should receive plentiful effusions of the Holy Spirit-should be blessed with all temporal and spiritual good thingsin a word, the Lord would be their God, and they should be his people. But lest, on hearing such rich and gracious promises, their hearts should be lifted up in pride and selfconfidence, the caution in the text is subjoined Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you; be ashamed and confounded for your own ways. The same caution is before given in the 22d verse; Thus

saith the Lord I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel; but for my holy name's sake, which ye had profaned among the heathens, whither ye went. I have had pity for my holy name. I will sanctify my great name, which ye had profaned. The heathen shall know that I am the Lord, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.

The reason of God's granting to the captive Jews, a restoration to their country, and so many attending privileges, was founded, not in their worthiness, but his own mercy-not in a partial regard to them, but in a general regard to the human race.

We will illustrate our text

I. As it respects the case of the Jews in particu lar.

II. In its more general application to others. I. We will consider the text as it immediately respects the case of the Jews.

Their deliverance from Babylon was eminently the work of God-It was He, who did this. Taken in all its circumstances, it evidently appears to have been wrought by a divine hand.

The duration of their captivity was exactly foretold, before it began; and Cyrus, the prince who granted their release, was expressly named in prophecy, before he was born. During a period of seventy years, they were preserved a distinct people in the land of their enemies, while other nations were swallowed up and lost. They enjoyed some peculiar privileges in their captivity, especially the privilege of exercising their own religion, and attending the ministrations of their prophets. Some of their prophets and priests, men of distinguished abilities, gifts and virtues, were, by a wonderful concurrence of circumstances, admitted to great honour and influence in the court of Babylon, where, uncorrupted by their preferment, they retained their zeal for the religion, and concern for the interest of

« VorigeDoorgaan »