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us, made to minister to pride, and to excite and comforts when they seem most attractive, most necessary; when their loss is least expected, and we are rejoicing to see them flourish!" I will take away my corn in the time thereof, and my vine in the season.” So it was with Jonah. His gourd was not only removed, but in the very time thereof.

And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity:
so is the tongue among our members, that it
defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire
the course of nature; and it is set on fire of
hell."
III. Observe THE REMOVAL.
"Then will
I return, and take away my corn in the time
thereof, and my vine in the season thereof,
and will recover my wool and my flax."
What a number of reflections arise from this
part of our subject!

unhallowed passions? Genius and learning
are valuable in themselves, and may be ap-
plied to purposes the most useful: yet how
often have they pandered for lewdness and
infidelity! The tongue," wherewith bless
we God, even the Father, often curses men,
who are made after the similitude of God!" The Lord God prepared a gourd, and made
it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a
shadow over his head, to deliver him from his
grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the
gourd. But God prepared a worm when the
morning rose next day, and it smote the gourd
that it withered. And it came to pass, when
the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehe-
ment east wind; and the sun beat upon the
head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in
himself to die, and said, It is better for me to
die than to live."

First. We see how precarious every thing earthly is! "Riches make to themselves wings and flee away:" they are called "uncertain riches." Honour hangs upon the wavering tongue of the multitude; and our laurels wither as we wear them. Children often disappoint our fondest hopes. Friends die. Our strength is not the strength of stones. Who knows how soon he may be "made to possess months of vanity, and have wearisome nights appointed unto him?" "Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun: but if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity."

Secondly. God withdraws our comforts as well as gives them. "I will return and take them away," says God. "I form the light and create darkness; I make peace and create evil I the Lord do all these things." Job knew who had robbed him of his substance; but he said, "the Lord hath taken away." We exclaim, " O, it was that unlucky servant; it was that perfidious friend; it was that malicious enemy:" but old Eli would say, "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good." Our Lord knew that Peter would deny him, and Judas betray him, and Herod insult him, and Pilate condemn him, and the Jews crucify him: yet he speaks only of God: "The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it ?"

Finally. His conduct, in the removal of our joys, looks forward, as well as backward; he is not only the righteous Governor, but the tender Father; he punishes, not for our destruction, but advantage; and the very consequences of sin are made the cure. Thus you here find these losses inflicted because we have departed from God; but, at the same time, they are the merciful means to bring us back to him. "Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for

Fourthly. He often removes our blessings Baal. Therefore will I return, and take

Thirdly. We learn that God does not relinquish his propriety in any of his blessings, when he bestows them: "I will take away my corn, and my wine, and will recover my wool and my flax." Still they are his: and therefore, when he comes for them, he comes not to rob, but to resume:

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Again. God does not deprive us of our enjoyments without a cause. Therefore," says he, "because they acknowledged not that I indulged them and employed my mercies for Baal: therefore will I return, and take them away." God gives freely; but he takes away justly: he is a sovereign in the one, but not in the other. "Why," says he, "will you be stricken any more?" And he himself answers the question: "Ye will revolt more and more." My strokes are continued only because your provocations are renewed." "He does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men: but our own wickedness corrects us, and our backslidings reprove us." It is our non-improvement, it is our abuse of our mercies, that endangers them. And upon this principle, who has not reason to tremble? who would have a right under bereavement to complain? Which of our blessings have we not frequently forfeited? which of them has not caused us" to go a whoring from God?"-" It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed; because his compassions fail not."

"The dear delights we here enjoy,
And fondly call our own,

Are but short favours borrow'd now,
To be repaid anon."

away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax." And observe what follows: "I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new-moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts. And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the Lord. Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt." It was for their sin, that he sent the Jews into Babylon; yet it was for their good: Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good." "Who is a God like unto thee?"

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But while this subject leads us to magnify the Lord, it should afford instruction and encouragement to those who are afflicted. No affliction will ever do us good unless it excite in us both fear and hope. It can do nothing unless it lead us to condemn ourselves, and to acknowledge that God is justified when he speaketh, and clear when he judgeth. At the same time, we must apprehend not only his justice in the dispensation, but his goodness. Without this we shall feel a sullen despair, or be hardened into impenitency. Remember, therefore, that "though he cause grief, yet will he have compassion according to the greatness of his mercy:" and that your severest trials may become your greatest blessings. Many are beginning to see this already-yea, they perceive it so plainly, that they are now praising God for providenees which once tempted them to entertain the most harsh and unworthy thoughts of him.

But it is a sad thing when the lamp is extinguished, and there is no Sun of Righteousness near! When creatures are lost, and He is not found, nor even sought after! When this is the case, God will either withdraw the affliction in wrath, and say, “Ephraim is joined unto idols: let him alone;" or he will increase the severity of his measures, and after chastising us with whips chastise us with scorpions. So he threatens-"And if ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; then I will walk

contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins!"

The day of trouble, therefore, is a period peculiarly eventful and important. Your salvation, or destruction, may hinge upon it. God then comes near, and if you do not receive him, you may miss him for ever!Who thinks of this! Who is sufficiently impressed with the awful consequences of losing an affliction? In general, you ask for our prayers when you come into trouble, and our thanksgivings when you come out. But sometimes we hardly know what to do. If we were to regard the result, we should often be far from hailing you upon your recovery from sickness, or your emerging from penury; we should see your deliverance, as you call it, wearing away every serious thought of God, renewing your worldly spirit, and leading you to violate the vows your souls made when you were in trouble. It is best, perhaps, to invite our praise when you come into affliction, and our prayers when you come out. I say, our praise when you come into effiction-for this is a token for good: it is a proof that God has not as yet cast you off: it is an evidence that the husbandman has not yet resolved to cut down the tree, while he digs about it and manures: the physician does not entirely despair of the patient while he orders medicine, or even amputation-I say, our prayers when you come outthat you may never forget the things your eyes saw, and your ears heard; never lose the lessons you received in the school of correction; but be able to say, in every review, "it is good for me that I have been af flicted, that I might learn thy statutes. Be fore I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept thy word.”

To conclude. There is no subject under which we cannot teach and preach Jesus Christ. How is it that any blessings are communicated to us but through the mediation of Him, who is the way, the truth, and the life?

"He sunk beneath our heavy woes To raise us to his throne;

There's not a gift his hand bestows But cost his heart a groan."

What wood is it that, thrown in, heals the waters of Marah? It is the tree on which he died that takes the curse out of all our comforts, and all our crosses too. He has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us. While faith views the rod, however dry and barren before, it then enlivens, and blossoms, and bears: and "though no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." Amen.

DISCOURSE LXXXVI,

DIVINE FORGIVENESS.

-A God ready to pardon.-Neh. ix. 17. GOD is absolutely incomprehensible, and the highest archangel cannot "find him out unto perfection." Yet we are not called to worship "an unknown God." He has furnished us with all the information necessary to bring us to himself. "All his works praise him," but his word, "which he hath magnified above all his name, peculiarly reveals

him.

In this sacred volume, indeed, some clouds and darkness are round about him. Subjects are occasionally intimated which lie far beyond the reach of our present faculties; and concerning which we may safely follow the advice of the poet: "Wait the great teacher, Death. But the Scripture renders things plain and obvious in proportion as they are important and necessary; so that he may run that readeth them. Some truths are written as with a sunbeam-such are those which regard our state as sinners, and are calculated to draw forth our faith and hope in God. For we are saved through faith: we are saved by hope." Man fell by losing his confidence in God; and he is only to be recovered by regaining it. For which purpose we read, not only that there is forgiveness with himbut that "he is a GOD READY TO PARDON."

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We shall divide our reflections into three parts. In the First we shall show WHAT IS NECESSARY TO RENDER THE SUBJECT INTERESTING. In the Second we shall ADDUCE THE PROOFS WHICH ESTABLISH THE TRUTH OF IT. And, in the Third, WE SHALL POINT OUT THE WAY IN WHICH IT may BE abused, AND THE MANNER IN WHICH IT ought TO BE improved.

1. WHAT IS NECESSARY TO RENDER THE SUBJECT INTERESTING? THREE THINGS.

First. A conviction of guilt. "They that are whole need not the physician, but they that are sick." "The full soul loathes the honeycomb but to the hungry every bitter thing is sweet." In vain we present alms to the affluent, or offer pardon to the innocent; our kindness will offend rather than gratify. Suffer me then to ask, Are you not sinners? Have you ever lived a day, or an hour, as you ought? Have you not, at least, been chargeable with sins of omission?-But a servant's disobedience appears in neglecting to do what the master enjoins, as well as in doing what he forbids. If your conduct has not been grossly wicked, what has been the state of your heart? For the law of God is spiritual, and each command comprehends under it not only the outward acts, but our very desires and thoughts.

By the law, therefore, is the knowledge of sin. The law begins with the object of all

adoration, and requires that we serve God alone. But have you never transferred to the creature that supreme regard-that love that fear-that confidence-which are due to the Creator, God over all, blessed for evermore? If you have never worshipped wood or stone; never cried, "O Baal, hear us!" never sacrificed to devils; have you not made gold your hope, and fine gold your confidence? have you not made flesh your arm? have you not "had men's persons in admiration, because of advantage?" If you have often, if you have daily, worshipped the Supreme Being, has it been in spirit and in truth, or only with the form of godliness? Have you never taken "His Name in vain,” either in profane swearing, or in idle conversation, or in those prayers and praises, which have "mocked him with a solemn sound, upon a thoughtless tongue?" Have you sanctified the " Sabbath-day, to keep it holy?" Have you not squandered away many of its precious hours in idleness, in dress, in visitings, in pleasure-taking? Have you suffered your ox and your ass, your man-servant and your maid-servant, to rest, as well as you? Have you called the Sabbath a delight? and have you honoured it by a devout attention to the purposes for which it was instituted?But you are sure you are no murderer! Is there then no one dead, in whose removal you have rejoiced? Is there no one alive, at whose continuance you have inwardly repined? Have you never been angry with your brother without a cause ?--You think you are no adulterer! But the infallible Expositor has said, "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."-You repel with indignation the charge of theft! But is it not pride, rather than principle, that has sometimes restrained you; or the fear of the consequences, rather than a sense of the sin? Are you a stranger to all unjust gain and excessive profit in trade? Have you never taken advantage of ignorance, or confidence? Have you fully paid your servants for their toil; and never kept back the hire of your labourers, by fraud? Have you never robbed the poor of what was due to them? In a word, “Have you done unto others as you would they should do unto you?"

I have not examined you by every command of the moral law; but I have endeavoured to convict you of transgressing those of which you were most likely to deem yourselves blameless. Examine yourselves by the remainder: they are before you, and they are all "holy, and just, and good." Try yourselves by them; try your conduct by them; try your dispositions by them; and "every mouth must be stopped, and all be found guilty before God. "I was alive," says Paul," without the law; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died,"

II. We proceed to ADDUCE THE PROOFS WHICH ESTABLISH THE TRUTH OF THE DOCTRINE-" a God ready to pardon." And do you ask for evidence?

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 sufficient to lead a reflecting mind to exclaim, Who knoweth the power of thine anger? Even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath!" But these are only the beginning of sorrows —What then must the completion of them be? Who among you can dwell with the devouring fire? Who among you can dwell with everlasting burnings? If there was only a possibility of incurring a doom so infinitely dreadful, common sense, if consulted, would tell you to agonize with the question, "What must I do to be saved?" till the cruel uncertainty was over. But in your present state, there is no uncertainty. "The soul that sinneth it shall die." And how can you escape? Can you grapple with Almighty Power? Can you conceal yourselves from Infinite Wisdom? Can you flee from Him who is every where; and every where the sin-avenging God? There is only one way of deliverance. It is forgiveness! 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 Lord Jesus Christ. Yea, we joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement!" Well might David exclaim, "Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!" Such a man has the true notion of blessedness and he has the reality. His blessedness is insured-and it is begun. He is blessed with assistance and acceptance, in all his duties: "for he is not under the law, but under grace." He is blessed in all his mercies, and tastes a sweetness, which others know not of, derived from a covenant claim, and the love of his heavenly Father.

See it in the propile with which he pardons on our rela And it shall come to pass," says God before they call I will answer, and while they speak I will hear." Was the father backward to receive the prodigal, when famine and misery drove him home? Disobedient and vile as he had been, "when he was yet a great way off, the father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the Father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat and be merry: for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry." Do you ask for evidence?

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And what has he to fear?-Is it affliction? -His troubles, however severe, have no curse in them. They are not the effects of wrath, but tokens of love, and blessings in disguise. He will be supported under them. He will be sanctified by them. He will be delivered

See it in the provision he has made for the exercise of it. For it became him—we use his own language; "it became him" to administer this pardon in a peculiar way. It was necessary that nothing like a connivance at moral evil should be suspected in the Divine government. It was necessary that sin should be condemned in the flesh, even while it was forgiven. It was necessary that God's law should not appear so rigid as to require relaxation, or so changeable and weak as to admit of dispensation; but be magnified and made honourable. It was necessary that God's truth should be seen, as well as his grace; and his righteousness, as well as his mercy. Here were difficulties which he alone could remove. Here was a plan which he alone could devise. Here was a sacrifice which he

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See it in his earnestness to excite us to seek after the blessing. It would be enough to prove that a man was ready to pardon, if he yielded immediately upon the offender's submission and application; but God does more. He not only "waits to be gracious," but he comes forward-He begins-He cries "Come, and let us reason together: though your sins were as scarlet, they shall be white as snow, though they were red like crimson, they shall be as wool." He urges: he entreats; yes-by the uneasiness of conscience, by the afflictions of life, by the importunity of friends, by the addresses of ministers-it is, as the apostle says, “as though God did beseech you to be reconciled unto God!" Do you ask for evidence?

See it in the character of those who have received pardon. Some of these have been the chief of sinners; sinners of long standing; sinners whose crimes have been not only numberless, but attended with every aggravation. You have read of Manasseh; of the dying thief; of the murderers of Christ; of the Corinthian converts: yet all these obtained mercy! Do you ask for evidence?

See it, finally, in the number of those who obtain forgiveness. Let us not reduce them. There are thousands more than we are aware of, even when we send forth Candour to reckon them; and when they shall be all "gathered together out of every kindred and nation and tongue and people, they will be found a multitude which no man can number."-Thus real, and thus obvious, is the glorious character of Jehovah-as "A GOD READY TO PARDON."

III. But it will be requisite To POINT OUT THE WAY IN WHICH THIS SUBJECT may BE abused, AND THE MANNER IN WHICH IT ought TO BE improved.

The subject is abused when it leads us to deny any disposition in God to punish. God is not only to be viewed as a tender father, but a moral governor. His mercy cannot be too much extolled, provided we allow that "he is holy in all his ways, and righteous in all his works: and of purer eyes than to behold iniquity." We do not approve of the word vindictive justice; but punitive justice is essential to his character; and, without it, we could neither venerate nor love him: for how could we esteem a being, especially in the relation of a ruler, who should feel alike disposed towards the liar and the man of truth, the cruel and the kind, a Robespierre and a Howard-and treat them alike! The Scriptures do not "bid mercy triumph over God himself, undeified by such opprobrious praise" even when he said to Moses, "I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee," he recorded himself, "The Lord God merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping

mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty."

The subject is abused when it encourages us to hope for pardon in ways not warranted by the word of God. For instance

Thus-unwarranted is our hope when we expect it without a reference to the mediation of Christ. It is acknowledged that God's love is unpurchased; and that of his own nature he is disposed to be merciful and gracious. But the question is, Whether he has not a right to exercise his mercy and grace in his own way; and whether, if he has appointed and revealed such a way, any thing but criminal ignorance and pride can lead me to oppose it; or any thing but disappointment and wretchedness can result from my neglect of it? We are "justified freely by his grace;" but it is "through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." "I am the way," says the Redeemer: "no man cometh unto the Father but by me."

Thus unwarranted is our hope when we expect pardon without repentance. Show me a single Scripture where the bestowment of the one is unconnected with the exercise of the other. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins." "He that confesseth and forsaketh them, shall have mercy.' "He is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel, and forgiveness of sins."

Thus unwarranted is our hope when we expect this pardon by delaying an application for it to the close of life. We can never merit the Divine goodness: but it is in our power to provoke his wrath-and I would ask, What can be so likely to induce him to reject us as our being evil, "because he is good;" our "continuing in sin, that grace may abound"-while animated by the hope that a dying petition will save us, when we have sinned till we can sin no longer? He is a God ready to pardon; but he will not make this pardon "the minister of sin."

Finally. Thus-unwarranted is our hope when we expect to find this pardon in another world, if we fail to obtain it in this. He is ready to pardon-but it is in time only. At death "the door is shut." "Then," says God, "shall they call, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me." "Seek ye, therefore, the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near."

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