« 이전계속 »
hope, Thou shalt see it no more within me; not willingly lodged and entertained. This speaks an entire, total giving up of all sin, and is a proclaiming of utter defiance and enmity against it; casting out what is already found out, without delay, and resolving that still in further search, as it shall be more discovered, it shall be forthwith dislodged, without a thought of sparing or partial indulgence to any thing that is sin, or that is like it, or that may any way befriend it, or be an occasion and incentive of it. This is that absolute renouncing of sin, and surrender of the whole soul and our whole selves to God, which whosoever do not heartily consent to and resolve on, their religion is in vain, and (which is here the point) their affliction is in vain : whatsoever they have suffered, they have gained nothing by all their sufferings, if their hearts remain still self-willed, stubborn, untamed, and unpliable to God. And this makes their miseries out of measure miserable, and their sins out of measure sinful ; whereas, were it thus qualified, and had it any operation this way towards the subjecting of their hearts unto God, affliction were not to be called misery, but would go únder the title of a blessedness: Blessed is the man whom Thou correctest and teachest him out of Thy law. That is suiting with this here desired, I have borne chastisement: what I see not, teach Thou me ; und if have done iniquity, I will do it no more. Oh! were it thus with us, my brethren, how might we rejoice, and insert into our praises all that is come upon us, if it had wrought or advanced any thing of this kind within us, this blessed compliance with the will of God; not entertaining any thing knowingly that displeases Him; finding a pleasure in the denial and destruction of our own most beloved pleasures at His appointment and for His sake. Whatsoever is in us, and dearest to us, that would offend us, that would draw us to offend Him, were it the right hand, let it be cut off; or the right eye, let it be plucked out : or, to make shorter work, let the whole man die at once, crucified with Jesus, that we may be henceforth dead to sin, dead to the world, dead to ourselves, and alive only to God.
THÉRE is no exercise so delightful to those that are truly godly, as the solemn worship of God, if they find His powerful and sensible presence in it; and indeed there is nothing on earth more like to Heaven than that is. But when He withdraws Himself, and withholds the influence and breathings of His Spirit in His service, then good souls find nothing more lifeless and uncomfortable. But there is this difference, even at such a time, betwixt them and those that have no spiritual life in them at all, that they find, and are sensible of this difference; whereas the others know not what it means. And for the most part, the greatest number of those that meet together with a profession to worship God, yet are such as do not understand this difference. Custom and formality draw many to the ordinary places of public worship, and fill too much of the room; and sometimes novelty and curiosity, drawing to places not ordinary, have a large share : but how few are there that come on purpose to meet with God in His worship, and to find His power in strengthening their weak faith, and weakening their strong corruptions, affording them provision of spiritual strength and comfort against times of trial, and, in a word, advancing them some steps forward in their journey towards Heaven, where happiness and perfection dwell! Certainly, these sweet effects are to be found in these ordinances, if we would look after them. Let it grieve us then, that we have so often lost our labour in the worship of God through our own neglect, and entreat the Lord, that at this time He would not send us away empty. For how weak soever the means be, if He put forth His strength, the work shall be done, in some measure, to His and our edification. Now that He may be pleased to do so, to leave a blessing behind Him, let us pray, &e.
ISAIAH xxviii. 5, 6.
In that day shall the Lord of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a
diadem of beauty unto the residue of his people, And for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for
strength to them that turn the battle to the gate,
All the works of Divine providence are full of wisdom and. justice, even every one severally considered; yet we observe them best to be such, when we take notice of their order and mutual aspect one to another, whether in the succession of times, or such passages as are contemporary and fall in together at one and the same time. As, when the Lord brings notable judgments upon the proud workers of iniquity, and at the same time confers special mercies on His own people, who is there that may not perceive justice and mercy illustrating and beautifying one another? It is true, the full reward and perfect rest of the godly is not here below; they would be sorry if it were : nor is this the place of plenary punishment for the ungodly; men may look for a judgment too. Yet, the Lord is pleased at some times to give some resemblances and pledges, as it were, of that great and last judgment in remarkable passages of justice and mercy, at one and the same time; and such a time it is that the Prophet foretels in this his sermon, which concerns the two sister kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Having denounced a heavy calamity to come upon Israel, under the name of Ephraim, he comforts those of Judah under the name of the residue of His people. They not being so grossly corrupted as the others were, he stays them with this promise: In that day, saith he, when the other shall be overwhelmed, as with a deluge, the Lord of Hosts shall be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty unto the residue of His people.
The promise is made up of three benefits, yet the three are but one; or rather, one is all the three to them: The Lord of Hosts, it is He that shall be their honour, wisdom, and strength;
He shall be a crown, &c. But first, a word as to the circumstance of time, In that day.
That sovereign Lord, who at first set up the lights of heaven to distinguish times and seasons by their constant motion, and likewise by His supreme providence ruling the world, hath fixed the periods of states and kingdoms, and decreed their revolutions, their rising, ascending, and their height, with their decline and setting, hath by a special providence determined those changes and vicissitudes that befall His Church. That which the Psalmist speaks, in his own particular, Psal. xxxi. 15., holds of each believer, and of the Church which they make
up in all ages and places: I said, Thou art my God, my times are in Thy hand. A sure and steady hand indeed, and therefore he builds his confidence upon it, ver. 13. They took counsel against me, but I trusted in thee. And upon this, he prays in faith, that the face of God may shine upon him, and the wicked may be ashamed. .
Thus, then, as many of you as are looking after a day of mercy to the Church of God, pray and believe upon this ground, That the time of it is neither in the frail hands of those that favour and seek it, nor in the hands of those that oppose it, how strong and subtle soever they be, but in His almighty hand, who doth in heaven and earth what pleaseth Him. If He have said, Now, and here, will I give a day of refreshment to my people who have long groaned for it, a day of the purity and power of religion ; if, I say, this be His purpose, they must have somewhat more than omnipotence, who can hinder it. When His appointed time comes, to make a day of deliverance dawn upon His Church, after their long night either of affliction or of defection, or both ; they who contrive against that day-spring, are as vain as if they would sit down to plot how to hinder the sun from rising in the morning. And they who let go their hopes of it, because of great apparent difficulties that interpose betwixt their eye and the accomplishment of that work, are as weak as if they should imagine, when mists and thick vapours appear about the horizon in the morning,
that these could hinder the rising of the sun, which is so far out of their reach, and comes forth as a bridegroom, and rejoices as a mighty man to run his race, says David. Those
indeed hinder his clear appearance, and keep it from the eye for a time, but reason tells us, even then, that they cannot stop his course. And faith assures us no less in the other case, that no difficulties can hold back God's day and work of mercy to His people. But you will say, All the difficulty is, to know whether the appointed time be near or not. It is true, we have no particular prophecies to assure us; but certainly, when God awakes His children and makes them rise, this is a probable sign that it is near day. I mean, when He stirs them up to more than usual hopes, and prayers, and endeavours, it is very likely that He intends them some special good. But yet more, when He Himself is arisen, (as it pleaseth Him to speak,) that is, when He is begun to appear, in a more than ordinary manner of working by singular and wonderful footsteps of providence, this is, no doubt, a sign that He will go on to shew remarkable mercy to Sion, and that the time to favour her, yea, the set time is come. Psal. cii. 13.
Howsoever then, let the wonderful workings of the Lord move those of you that have any power and opportunity, to be now (if ever) active for the greatest good both of the present age and of posterity. And you that can be no other way use. ful, yet, you shall be no small helpers if you be much in prayer ; let both your hopes and your fears, serve to sharpen your prayers. Be not too much dejected with any discouragement, neither be ye carnally lifted up with outward appearances ; for the heart of him that is lifted up, is not upright in him, Hab. ü. 4. ; but live, as the just do, by your faith. And if the deferring of your hopes should sicken your hearts, as Solomon speaks, yet, stay and comfort them with the cordial of the promises. This you are sure of, you have God's own word engaged for it, that in those latter days Babylon shall be brought to the dust, and the true Church of Christ shall flourish and