« FöregåendeFortsätt »
us, made to minister to pride, and to excite and comforts when they seem most attractive, unhallowed passions ? Genius and learning most necessary; when their loss is least exare valuable in themselves, and may be ap- pected, and we are rejoicing to see them plied to purposes the most useful : yet how flourish " I will take away my corn in often have they pandered for lewdness and the time thereof, and my vine in the season. infidelity! The tongue, “ wherewith bless So it was with Jonah. His gourd was not we God, even the Father, often curses men, only removed, but in the very time thereof. who are made after the similitude of God! “ The Lord God prepared a gourd, and made And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a so is the tongue among our members, that it shadow over his head, to deliver him from his defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the the course of nature; and it is set on fire of gourd. But God prepared a worm when the hell."
morning rose next day, and it smote the gourd III. Observe THE REMOVAL. “ Then will that it withered. And it came to pass, when I return, and take away my corn in the time the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehethereof, and my vine in the season thereof, ment east wind; and the sun beat upon the and will recover my wool and my fax.” head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in What a number of reflections arise from this himself to die, and said, It is better for me to part of our subject !
die than to live." First. We see how precarious every thing Again. God does not deprive us of our earthly is ! “ Riches make to themselves enjoyments without a cause. “ Therefore,” wings and flee away:" they are called “ un- says he, “ because they acknowledged not certain riches.” Honour hangs upon the that I indulged them: and employed my wavering tongue of the multitude; and our mercies for Baal : therefore will I return, and laurels wither as we wear them. Children take them away.” God gives freely; but often disappoint our fondest hopes. Friends he takes away justly: he is a sovereign in the die. Our strength is not the strength of one, but not in the other. “ Why," says he, stones. Who knows how soon he may be “ will you be stricken any more ?" And he "made to possess months of vanity, and have himself answers the question: “ Ye will rewearisome nights appointed unto him?" volt more and more.” My strokes are "Truly the light is sweet
, and a pleasant continued only because your provocations are thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: but renewed.” • He does not afflict willingly, if a man live many years, and rejoice in them nor grieve the children of men : but our own all; yet let him remember the days of dark- wickedness corrects us, and our backslidings ness; for they shall be many. All that com- reprove us.” It is our non-improvement, it eth is vanity.”
is our abuse of our mercies, that endangers Secondly. God withdraws our comforts as them. And upon this principle, who has not well as gives them.“ I will return and take reason to tremble? who would have a right them away,” says God.“ I form the light under bereavement to complain? Which of and create darkness; I make peace and our blessings have we not frequently forfeited ? create evil : I the Lord do all these things.” which of them has not caused us to go a Job knew who had robbed him of his sub-whoring from God ?"_" It is of the Lord's stance; but he said, “ the Lord hath taken mercies that we are not consumed; because away." We exclaim, “ 0, it was that un- his compassions fail not." lucky servant; it was that perfidious friend; Finally. His conduct, in the removal of it was that malicious enemy:" but old Eli our joys, looks forward, as well as backward;
“ It is the Lord; let him do what he is not only the righteous Governor, but seemeth him good.” Our Lord knew that the tender Father; he punishes, not for our Peter would deny him, and Judas betray him, destruction, but advantage; and the very and Herod insult him, and Pilate condemn consequences of sin are made the cure. him, and the Jews crucify him: yet he speaks Thus you here find these losses inflicted beonly of God: “ The cup which my Father cause we have departed from God; but, at hath given me, shall I not drink it ?" the same time, they are the merciful means
Thirdly. We learn that God does not re- to bring us back to him. “ Therefore, belinquish his propriety in any of his blessings, hold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, when he bestows them: "I will take away and make a wall, that shall not find her my corn, and my wine, and will recover my paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, wool and my flax." Still they are his: and but she shall not overtake them; and she therefore, when he comes for them, he comes shall seek them, but shall not find them: not to rob, but to resume:
then shall she say, I will go and return to my “ The dear delights we here enjoy,
first husband ; for then was it better with me And fondly call our own,
For she did not know that I gave Are but short favours borrow'd now, her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied To be repaid anon.”
her silver and gold, which they prepared for Fourthly. He often removes our blessings Baal. Therefore will I return, and take
away my corn in the time thereof, and my | contrary unto you also in fury; and I, eren wine in the season thereof, and will recover I, will chastise you seven times for your my wool and my flax." And observe what sins !" follows: “I will also cause all her mirth to The day of trouble, therefore, is a period cease, her feast days, her new-moons, anul her peculiarly eventful and important. Your sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. And I salvation, or destruction, may hinge upon it will destroy her vines and her fig trees, God then comes near, and if you do not rewhereof she hath said, These are my rewards ceive him, you may miss him for ever that my lovers have given me: and I will Who thinks of this? Who is sufficiently immake them a forest, and the beasts of the pressed with the awful consequences of losing field shall eat them. And I will visit upon an afliction? In general, you ask for our her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned prayers when you come into trouble, and incense to them, and she decked herself with our thanksgivings when you come out. But her earrings and her jewels, and she went sometimes we hardly know what to do. If we after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the were to regard the result, we should often be Lord. Therefore, behold, I will allure her, far from hailing yon upon your recovery froma and bring her into the wilderness, and speak sickness, or your emerging from penury; we comfortably unto her. And I will give her should see your deliverance, as you call it, her vineyards from thence, and the valley wearing away every serious thought of God, of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall renewing your worldly spirit, and leading you sing there, as in the days of her youth, and to violate the vows your souls made when as in the day when she came up out of the you were in trouble. It is best, perhaps to land of Egypt.” It was for their sin, that invite our praise when you come into atidiche sent the Jews into Babylon ; yet it was tion, and our prayers when you come out. I for their good: “ Thus saith the Lord, the say, our praise when you come into efficoGod of Israel ; Like these good figs, so will tion—for this is a token for good : it is a I acknowledge them that are carried away proof that God has not as yet cast you off: it captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of is an evidenee that the husbandman has dos this place into the land of the Chaldeans for yet resolved to cut down the tree, while he their good.” • Who is a God like unto digs about it and manures: the physician thee?"
does not entirely despair of the patient while But while this subject leads us to magnify he orders medicine, or even amputation-1 the Lord, it should afford instruction and en- say, our prayers when you come outcouragement to those who are afflicted. No that you may never forget the things your affliction will ever do us good unless it excite eyes saw, and your ears heard ; never lose in us both fear and hope. It can do nothing the lessons you received in the school of unless it lead us to condemn ourselves, and correction; but be able to say, in every reto acknowledge that God is justified when he view, “it is good for me that I have been af speaketh, and clear when he judgeth. At flicted, that I might learn thy statutes Be the same time, we must apprehend not only fore I was afflicted I went astray; but now his justice in the dispensation, but his good- have I kept thy word.”
Without this we shall feel a sullen To conclade. There is no subject under despair, or be hardened into impenitency. which we cannot teach and preach Jesus Remember, therefore, that “ though he cause Christ. How is it that any blessings are grief, yet will he have compassion according communicated to us but through the mediato the greatness of his mercy :" and that tion of Him, who is the way, the truth, and your severest trials may become your great- the life? est blessings. Many are beginning to see this already-yea, they perceive it so plainly, * He sunk beneath our heavy woes that they are now praising God for providen
There's not a gift his hand bestows ees which once tempted them to entertain
But cost his heart a groan." the most harsh and unworthy thoughts of him.
What wood is it that, thrown in, beals the But it is a sad thing when the lamp is waters of Marah ? It is the tree on which he extinguished, and there is no Sun of Right- died that takes the curse out of all our comeousness near! When creatures are lost, and forts, and all our crosses too. He has reHe is not found, nor even sought after! When deemned us from the curse of the law, being this is the case, God will either withdraw the made a curse for us. While faith views the affliction in wrath, and say, “Ephraim is rod, however dry and barren before, it then joined unto idols: let him alone;" or he will enlivens, and blossoms, and bears: and increase the severity of his measures, and “ though no chastening for the present seemafter chastising us with whips chastise us eth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless with scorpions. So he threatens—" And if afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but righteousness unto them which are exercised walk contrary unto me; then I will walk thereby." Amen.
To raise us to his throne;
DISCOURSE LXXXVI, adoration, and requires that we serve God
alone. But have you never transferred to DIVINE FORGIVENESS.
the creature that supreme regard—that
love-that fear—that confidence-which are -A God ready to pardon.-Neh, ix. 17. due to the Creator, God over all, blessed for God is absolutely incomprehensible, and evermore? If you have never worshipped the highest archangel cannot “find him out wood or stone; never cried, “O Baal, hear unto perfection." Yet we are not called to us!" never sacrificed to devils; have you not worship" an unknown God.” He has furnish- made gold your hope, and fine gold your ed us with all the inforınation necessary to confidence ? have you not made flesh your bring us to himself. “ All his works praise arm? have you not “had men's persons in him;" but his word, “which he hath magni- admiration, because of advantage?" If you fied above all his name, peculiarly reveals have often, if you have daily, worshipped the bm.
Supreme Being, has it been in spirit and in In this sacred volume, indeed, some clouds truth, or only with the form of godlinees? and darkness are round about him. Subjects Have you never taken “His Name in vain," are occasionally intimated which lie far be- either in profane swearing, or in idle converyond the reach of our present faculties; and sation, or in those prayers and praises, which concerning which we may safely follow the have “mocked him with a solemn sound, advice of the poet: “Wait the great teacher, upon a thoughtless tongue?". Death. But the Scripture renders things sanctified the “ Sabbath-day, to keep it holy?" plain and obvious in proportion as they are Have you not squandered away many of its important and necessary ; so that he may run precious hours in idleness, in dress, in visitthat readeth them. Some truths are written ings, in pleasure-taking? Have you suffered as with a sunbeam-such are those which your ox and your ass, your man-servant and regard our state as sinners, and are calculated your maid-servant, to rest, as well as you? to draw forth our faith and hope in God. For Have you called the Sabbath a delight? and “ we are saved through faith: we are saved have you honoured it by a devout attention by hope.” Man fell by losing his confidence to the purposes for which it was instituted ?in God; and he is only to be recovered by But you are sure you are no murderer ! Is regaining it. For which purpose we read, there then no one dead, in whose removal not only that there is forgiveness with him, you have rejoiced ? Is there no one alive, at but that “he is a GOD READY TO PARDON." whose continuance you have inwardly re
We shall divide our reflections into three pined? Have you never been angry with your parts. In the First we shall show what is brother without a cause ?--You think you are
no adulterer! But the infallible Expositor In the Second we shall ADDUCE has said, “Whosoever looketh on a woman THE PROOFS WHICH ESTABLISH THE TRUTH to lust after her, hath committed adultery
And, in the Third, we SHALL POINT with her already in his heart.”—You repel OUT THE WAY IN WHICH It may be abused, with indignation the charge of theft! But is AND THE MANNER IN WHICH IT ought to Be it not pride, rather than principle, that has improved.
sometimes restrained you; or the fear of the Í. WHAT IS NECESSARY TO RENDER THE consequences, rather than a sense of the sin? SUBJECT INTERESTING? THREE THINGS. Are you a stranger to all unjust gain and
First. A conviction of guilt. “They that excessive profit in trade? Have you never are whole need not the physician, but they taken advantage of ignorance, or confidence ? that are sick." “ The full soul loathes the Have you fully paid your servants for their honeycomb: but to the hungry every bitter toil; and never kept back the hire of your thing is swect." In vain we present alms to labourers, by fraud? Have you never robbed the affluent, or offer pardon to the innocent; the poor of what was due to them? In a our kindness will offend rather than gratify. word, “ Have you done unto others as you Suffer me then to ask, Are you not sinners? would they should do unto you ?" Have you ever lived a day, or an hour, as you
I have not examined you by every comought? Have you not, at least, been charge- mand of the moral law; but I have endeavour. able with sins of omission ?- But a servant's ed to convict you of transgressing those of disobedience appears in neglecting to do which you were most likely to deem yourwhat the master enjoins, as well as in doing selves blameless. Examine yourselves by the what he forbids. If your conduct has not remainder: they are before you, and they are been grossly wicked, what has been the state all“ holy, and just, and good.” Try yourselves of your heart? For the law of God is spirit- by them; try your conduct by them; try your ual, and each command comprehends under it dispositions by them; and “every mouth must not only the outward acts, but our very desires be stopped, and all be found guilty before and thoughts.
God. “I was alive," says Paul, “ without the By the law, therefore, is the knowledge of law; but when the commandment came, sin sin. The law begins with the object of all revived, and I died."
NECESSARY TO RENDER THE SUBJECT INTE-
Hence, a Second thing needful to render out of them.—Is it death? The sting of death our subject interesting is an apprehension of is sin; but that sting is extracted. To die is our danger as transgressors. Sin exposes gain. Is it the grave? The grave is no longer us to the wrath of God; for it is written, the condemned hole, in which the criminal “Cursed is every one that continueth not in sleeps the night before execution; but the all things which are written in the book of chamber, in which, after refreshment, he the law, to do them.” The tremendousness dresses for his interview with the King of of this curse exceeds all the power of lan- Glory. Is it the judgment? The judgment guage to express, or of imagination to con- only proclaims his absolution, and ushers him ceive. It is the curse of a God! The present into the joy of his Lord. Is this credible? Is effects of transgression show that it is an evil such a blessedness attainable? Yes, and and a bitter thing to sin against God; and are II. We proceed TO ADDUCE THE PROOFS sufficient to lead a reflecting mind to exclaim, WHICH ESTABLISH THE TRUTH OF THE DOC" Who knoweth the power of thine anger? TRINE—"a God ready to pardon.” And do Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath!" you ask for evidence ? But these are only the beginning of sorrows See it in the provision he has made for the -What then must the completion of them exercise of it. For it became him—we use his be? Who among you can dwell with the de- own language; "it became him” to adminvouring fire? Who among you can dwell ister this pardon in a peculiar way. It was with everlasting burnings? If there was only necessary that nothing like a connivance at a possibility of incurring a doom so infinitely moral evil should be suspected in the Divine dreadful, common sense, if consulted, would government. It was necessary that sin should tell you to agonize with the question, “What be condemned in the flesh, even while it was must I do to be saved ?" till the cruel uncer- forgiven. It was necessary that God's law tainty was over. But in your present state, should not appear so rigid as to require rethere is no uncertainty. “The soul that sin- laxation, or so changeable and weak as to neth it shall die.” And how can you escape? admit of dispensation; but be magnified and Can you grapple with Almighty Power? Can made honourable. It was necessary that God's you conceal yourselves from Infinite Wis- truth should be seen, as well as his grace; dom? Can you flee from Him who is every and his righteousness, as well as his mercy. where; and every where the sin-avenging Here were difficulties which he alone could God! There is only one way of deliverance. remove. Here was a plan which he alone It is forgiveness !
could devise. Here was a sacrifice which be Thirdly. Our subject is rendered interest- alone could provide. But, of his own selfing by a discovery of the privileges of a par- moved compassion, “He has reconciled us doned state. We talk of happiness. Oh! unto himself by Jesus Christ. He has made what a change to be delivered from the wrath him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that to come—to know that God's anger is turned we might be made the righteousness of God away-that from an enemy, he is become a in him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, friend—a friend giving us cordial access to all but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the rights of innocency, and entitling us to a the propitiation for our sins."--Rather than felicity superior to the happiness of Adam in not pardon-he spares not his own Son, but Paradise, and even of an angel in glory! delivers him up for us all. Do you ask for Well might Paul say, “ Being justified by evidence ? faith we have peace with God, through our See it in the promile with which he Lord Jesus Christ. Yea, we joy in God, pardons on our reli And it shall come through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we to pass,” says God me before they call I have now received the atonement!” Well will answer, and while they speak I will might David exclaim, “ Blessed is the man hear." Was the father backward to receive whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is the prodigal, when famine and misery drove covered!" Such a man has the true notion of him home? Disobedient and vile as he had blessedness—and he has the reality. His been, “ when he was yet a great way off, the blessedness is insured-and it is begun. He father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, is blessed with assistance and acceptance, in and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And all his duties: " for he is not under the law, the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned but under grace.” He is blessed in all his against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no mercies, and tastes a sweetness, which others more worthy to be called thy son. But the know not of, derived from a covenant claim, Father said to his servants, Bring forth the and the love of his heavenly Father. best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring
And what has he to fear?-Is it affliction? on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring --His troubles, however severe, have no curse hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us in them. They are not the effects of wrath, eat and be merry: for this my son was dead, but tokens of love, and blessings in disguise. and is alive again ; he was lost, and is found. He will be supported under them. He will And they began to be merry.” Do you ask be sanctified by them. He will be delivered I for evidence ?
See it in his earnestness to excite us to mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and seek after the blessing. It would be enough transgression and sin; and that will by no to prove that a man was ready to pardon, if means clear the guilty.” he yielded immediately upon the offender's The subject is abused wben it encourages submission and application ; but God does us to hope for pardon in ways not warranted more. He not only " waits to be gracious,” by the word of God. For instancebut he comes forward-He begins—He cries Thus—unwarranted is our hope when we “ Come, and let us reason together: though expect it without a reference to the mediayour sins were as scarlet, they shall be white tion of Christ. It is acknowledged that as snow, though they were red like crimson, God's love is unpurchased; and that of his they shall be as wool.” He urges: he en- own nature he is disposed to be merciful and treats; yes—by the uneasiness of conscience, gracious. But the question is, Whether he by the afflictions of life, by the importunity has not a right to exercise his mercy and of friends, by the addresses of ministers—it grace in his own way; and whether, if he is, as the apostle says, “as though God did has appointed and revealed such a way, any beseech you—to be reconciled unto God!" thing but criminal ignorance and pride can Do you ask for evidence ?
lead me to oppose it; or any thing but disapSee it in the character of those who have pointment and wretchedness can result from received pardon. Some of these have been my neglect of it? We are “justified freely the chief of sinners; sinners of long standing; by his grace;" but it is "through the redempsinners whose crimes have been not only num- tion that is in Christ Jesus.” “I am the way, berless, but attended with every aggravation. says the Redeemer: “no man cometh unto You have read of Manasseh ; of the dying the Father but by me.". thief; of the murderers of Christ; of the Co- Thus—unwarranted is our hope when we rinthian converts: yet all these obtained mer- expect pardon without repentance. Show me cy! Do you ask for evidence ?
a single Scripture where the bestowment of See it, finally, in the number of those who the one is unconnected with the exercise of obtain forgiveness. Let us not reduce them. the other. “If we confess our sins, He is There are thousands more than we are aware faithful and just to forgive us our sins." "He of, even when we send forth Candour to that confesseth and forsaketh them, shall have reckon them; and when they shall be all mercy.” “He is exalted to be a Prince and “ gathered together out of every kindred and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel, and nation and tongue and people, they will be forgiveness of sins." found a multitude which no man can num- Thus, unwarranted is our hope when we ber.”—Thus real, and thus obvious, is the expect this pardon by delaying an appliglorious character of Jehovah—as “A God cation for it to the close of life. We can
never merit the Divine goodness : but it is in III. But it will be requisite to POINT OUT our power to provoke his wrath—and I would THE WAY IN WHICH THIS SUBJECT may be ask, What can be so likely to induce him to abused, AND THE MANNER IN WHICH IT ought reject us as our being evil, " because he is TO BE improved.
good;” our "continuing in sin, that grace The subject is abused when it leads us to may abound"—while animated by the hope deny any disposition in God to punish. God that a dying petition will save us, when we is not only to be viewed as a tender father, have sinned till we can sin no longer ? He but a moral governor. His mercy cannot be is a God ready to pardon; but he will not too much extolled, provided we allow that make this pardon “ the minister of sin.” “he is holy in all his ways, and righteous in Finally. Thus—unwarranted is our hope all his works: and of purer eyes than to be when we expect to find this pardon in anhold iniquity.” We do not approve of the other world, if we fail to obtain it in this. word vindictive justice; but punitive justice He is ready to pardon—but it is in time only. is essential to his character; and, without it, At death "the door is shut.” “ Then,” says we could neither venerate nor love him: for God, “shall they call, but I will not answer; how could we esteem a being, especially in they shall seek me early, but they shall not the relation of a ruler, who should feel alike find me." “ Seek ye, therefore, the Lord disposed towards the liar and the man of while he may be found, call ye upon him truth, the cruel and the kind, a Robespierre while he is near." and a Howard-and treat them alike? The But what is the proper improvement we Scriptures do not "bid mercy triumph over should make of this delightful subject ? God himself, undeified by such opprobrious It should yield encouragement to the broken praise :” even when he said to Moses, “I hearted. It is often as hard to persuade such will make all my goodness pass before thee, persons as these to hope as it was formerly to and I will proclaim the name of the Lord be induce them to fear. They are commonly fore thee," he recorded himself, “The Lord tempted to conclude that their case is pecuGod merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and liar, or that the greatness of their guilt exabundant in goodness and truth; keeping cludes them from mercy.—Is this thy case ?
READY TO PARDON.