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of idols : on which account, God, in righteous indignation, refused them, on some occasions, the aid which he alone could bestow; and referred them to their idols, in whom they trusted, that they might obtain from them those things of which they stood in need : “Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted, which did eat the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink-offerings ? Let them rise up and help you, and be your protection.” But to us is the same reproach most justly due : for though we do not, like them, bow down to stocks and stones, we are far from realizing in our minds the exclusive agency of Jehovah.
of Jehovah. To us, therefore, no less than to them, may be addressed the solemn admonition before us; “ See now, that I, even I, am he, and there is no strange god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.”
Let me now entreat your attention to,
Agreeably to what is here spoken, we see, that,
[There is not any thing done, whether it be good or evil, but he is the doer of it. “ I am the Lord,” says he; "and there is none else; there is no God besides me. I am the Lord; and there is none else. I form the light and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil. I, the Lord, do all these things." There is nothing so great, or so small, but it must be traced to him as its proper source and author, even to the falling of a sparrow, or the falling of a hair from our headsb. And God is desirous that this should be known and duly considered by us. To discover this to his ancient people,
one great reason for his marvellous interpositions for them, and of the no less marvellous forbearance which he exercised towards them d. And we, also, must bear in mind, that “whether he kill or make alive, whether he wound or heal, it is He alone that does it, and there is no strange god with him."]
2. His appointments are sovereign
a Isai. xlv. 5—7. with Amos jii. 6.
b Matt. x. 29, 30.
[The whole Scripture bears testimony that“God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” He does so in relation to all temporal matters : “He killeth, and maketh alive; he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up: he maketh poor and maketh rich; he bringeth low and lifteth up: he raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dung hill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit a throne of glory.” In relation to spiritual matters, also, he exercises no less a sovereign control, " having mercy on whom he will have mercy, and hardening whom he sees good to harden"." This was viewed by St. Paul in so important a light, that when he had once touched upon it, he did not know how to relinquish the subject, but insisted on it with every diversity of expression that language could furnish, and yet with such repetitions as appeared almost to be endless. Having said that God had blessed us with all spiritual blessings, he traces the gift to this as its true source: “ He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved; in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he had purposed in himself; that in the dispensation of the fulness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him ; in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, that we should be to the praise of his glory." We have often read this passage, but with so little care, as scarcely to get a glimpse of its true import: but, the more minutely and attentively we consider it, the more shall we see the amazing importance of the subject contained in it, and of the character of God as a mighty Sovereign, that does what he will, and "gives not account to us of any of his matters h."]
3. His power is uncontrollable
[Forcible is that appeal of Elihu, “ When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble ? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him ? whether it be done against a nation or a man only.." He is a mighty “Lawgiver, alike able to save or to destroy k.” Hear Jehovah's own declaration e 1 Sam. ii. 6—8.
f Rom. ix. 18. 6 Eph. i. 3—12. and again in ver. 14. h Job xxxiii. 13. i Job xxxiv. 29. k Jam. iv. 12.
have been tried in one way, and others in another; some for a longer, and others for a shorter period; some in mind some in body - some in estate
Even those who have been most favoured in this respect, have found abundant reason to acknowledge, that “this is not our rest.” To the young and inexperienced, the world appears a garden abounding with delights: but on a fuller acquaintance with it we find, that its roses have their thorns; and even its choicest delicacies often prove occasions of the sorest pain. “ Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.”]
As, from our general notions of God's goodness, we might have expected that his dealings with his people would have been different from what we find them to be, let us inquire into, II. His end and design in them
The reasons here assigned for his dispensations towards the Jews, will afford us a clew for discovering his intentions towards ourselves. He diversifies his dispensations towards us, 1. To humble us
[Were our mercies altogether unmixed, we should know nothing of the effect of judgments on the rebellious will of man: and if there were no intermission of adversity, we should be strangers to the effect of prosperity upon the carnal heart: but by the variety of states which we pass through, we are led to see the total depravity of our nature; since we can be in no state whatever, wherein the mind does not shew itself alienated from God, and averse to bear his yoke. We are apt to think that a change of circumstances would produce in us a change of conduct: but, as a person in a fever finds no posture easy, nor any food pleasant to his taste, so we, through the corruption of our hearts, find all situations alike unproductive of a permanent change in our dispositions towards God. “ We are bent to backslide from him, even as a broken bow;" and every change of situation only serves to establish that melancholy truth, that “ the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” To convince us of this is the first work of God upon the sould, and the first object of all his dispensations."] 2. To prove us
[It is easy to obey God at some times and in some respects, in comparison of what it is at other times and in other respects. God therefore puts us into a variety of situations, to try whether we will make him the supreme object of our regard r. ai. some times he gives health, and affluence, ani nono: lu set whether we wil suffer these things to draw awa: our heart from him, or whether we will improvt then. al: 10: hm. 4: other times he lays affliction upon our: loins, tu see whether we will retain our love to him, and bless im-as we.. when it takes away as when he gives. A: some time 1: permnda to be sorely tempted by Satan, anc. or the corrup' propensitzer of our own hearts, to prove whether we wil prefer the mantenance of a good conscience to any of the gratifications C sense At other times he permite persecution to rage agamst ns. tha: it may appear whether we wil sacrifice our interests, an: im itself, for him. In fact, every change of circumstane in ser: by him, precisely as the command respecting the sacrinci Isaac was sent to Abraham: bt that commanc - Goc temple: him;" and by every circumstance of mit it tempt us u * prove whether we wil obey his commandments or nu 3. To instruct us
d John xvi. 8.
[We are apt to imagine that the happiness of mar. 1- treat dependent upon earthi prosperity: an. tha: tnt 108: O' lentporal comforts is an irreparabit eri. But Goc wonic teac: that this is altogether a mistake. Bt loading us with a tha: thi: world can give, he shews us how insuficient earthr thug: art to make us happr: and, by reducmę us to a state o war: 0 pain, or trouble of any kind, he leads us to himseli, ang the shews us how happt ht can make us, thougi unge: circularstances the most painful to fiest. ant. bloom. Time is grea and valuable lesson ; mosi honourabet ti mim, most venencia. to us: it elevates us competert abor: tn jower woriu, ani, in proportion as it is learner, enables us w live on Gou alont. When Satan tempted our Loru w distrust his heaven't Father care, and to “ command the stones to be maut bread out Lord reminded him of the lesson which was here recorded lor the good of the Church; nameit, that it was the blessing O: Goc upon bread, and not the bread itself, that coulci do us good: : and that that blessing would as easiit produce the efiect without means as with them. Thus he teaches us that, in having Gow, we have ali ; and that, without him, we have nothing., 4. To do us good at our latter end –
[If our state were never diversified, we should have but one set of graces called forth into action : but, by experiencing alterations and reverses, we are led to exercise every kind of grace : and by this means we grow in every part
, just as the members of the body grow, when all art quis exercised!
e ver. 16. I Col. f. 19. 1 Pet. i 2.
respecting this: “I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no Saviour. Before the day was, I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand : I will work; and who shall let it??" Does he meditate vengeance ? this is his own awful asseveration, in the words immediately following my text : "I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour fleshm." On the other hand, does he contemplate the exercise of mercy? this is the assurance that he gives his people: “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not, I will help thee. Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel: I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing-instrument, having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff. Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them: and thou shalt rejoice in the Lord, and shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel." In a word, He is a Potter, and we are the clay; and whether he is pleased to make, or mar, the vessel, none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou°?]
Let us now proceed to notice,
“See now,” says he, “ that this is my unquestionable, and unchangeable character :" and you are called to contemplate it,
1. That you may give him the glory of all that you have received
[My Brethren, God is a holy and a jealous God: “his very name is, JealousP;” and “his glory he will not give to another.” How fearfully he will resent any interference with him in this respect, may be seen in the case of Herod, who, when he was applauded for his eloquence, gave not God the glory; and God, in righteous displeasure, caused him to
of worms, till he gave up the ghost"." But more especially is God jealous in relation to spiritual blessings, which must be ascribed to him alone. Indeed, he has so constituted the whole work of man's salvation, that no particle of honour should be assumed by man, but all glory should be
1 Isai. xliii. 11, 13. n Isai. xli. 13-16.
Exod. xxxiv. 14.
m ver. 40-42.