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time it did, so sure does the Spirit of God dwell in the souls of true believers. How often has he told you, I am for har ing you have godly sorrow ; I wish your hearts were full of it, because it will end in everlasting joy. Comfort one another, my brethren, with these things, the day of your mourning shall soon be ended for ever.
But what am I to say? I apprehend I shall grow forgetful to-night. I have spoken so much to saints, I am afraid I shall have little time to speak to sinners; I mean, I have taken so much time up in speaking to you that know God, that I have little to speak to you that know him not. How different your state, poor hearts ! poor hearts ! My soul mourns for you ; my blood, whilst I am speaking, is ready to curdle in my veins. The seraphic Mr. Hervey, when he did me the honor to sojourn under my roof, said, “My dear friend, it is an awful thing when we see an unconverted man die, and his eyes closed, to think, that that poor soul will never see one gleam of comfort or life more; to have a sight of God, of Christ, and the heavenly angels and saints : but to see what the rich man saw, a God they want; to see Lazarus, whom he would not permit to be seen at his door, now taken particular notice of in heaven; and to see himself now a beggar in hell." The Lord help you to think! O think how soon your sun will go down, and even your bodies will feel damnation, not only in respect to pain, but loss.
Bishop Usher's opinion was, and I heartily concur in it, that those who value themselves most on their beauty and dress, and do not love God on earth, will be most deformed in hell, and their bodies suffer proportionally there. There is no dressing in hell, nothing but fire and brimstone there, and the wrath of God always awaiting on thee, O sinner, whoever thou art, man or woman. It was a fine saying of Maclane, who was executed some years ago, when the cap was pulling over his eyes, must I never see the light of yon sun any more ; Lord Jesus Christ, thou Sun of Righteousness arise with healing under thy wings on my departing soul! May the Lord Jesus Christ do that for us all! When you are damned, the days of your mourning will be but at their beginning ; there is no end of your mourning in hell. There is but one song, if it may be called so, in hell, to wit, that of Dives, which will be always repeating, “How am I tormented in this flame !" Consider this ye that forget God : and O that God may bless you to-night with godly
sorrow. Believers, pray for them. Lord help you, sinners, to pray for your vile selves. Some may think what do you cry for? Why, I cry for you. Perhaps you will say as a wicked one did to a poor woman
in Scotland, when thousands were awakened there; seeing her weep, he said what do you weep for? For this people, says she; weep for yourself, says he ; she replied, I do; but what is my soul to all these poor souls ! O that ministers may never rise up in judgment against you? O may Moses, in the hand of the Spirit
, make you mourn! may the love of God make you cry! may you not go home to-night without an arrow steeped in the blood of Christ. It was wonderful what a good woman, awaking, thought she saw written over her head, 0 earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord ! May every faithful soul be made to hear it; to awake, arise from their sleep in sin. The sun is going down, and death may put an end to all to-night: the Lord help you to come though it is the eleventh hour. O that you would fly, fly this night to Christ, lest God destroy you for ever. Jesus stands ready with open arms to receive you whom he has first pricked to the heart, and made you cry out, “What shall I do to be saved !" He will then make you believe in his name, that you may be saved. God grant this may be the case of all here tonight. Amen.
SELF INQUIRY CONCERNING THE WORK OF GOD.
NUMBERS xxiii. 23.
According to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What
hath God wrought ?
When I read you, my dear hearers, these words; when I consider what occasion, and by whom they were originally spoken, I cannot help thinking of that triumphant expression of the royal Psalmist, “Why do the heathen rage ?” When Pontius Pilate and the Jews conspire to destroy the cause of God, “ he that sitteth in heaven laughs them to scorn;" the Lord not only has them in derision, but overrules even their malice and violence (no thanks to them) to promote that very cause they attempted to destroy; so that it is a very wrong maxim, and argues great ignorance in us, to imagine that God
never brings about his designs by the means and instrumentality of wicked men. This is the Papist's objection against the reformation : great pains have been taken to blacken the reformers, and to make it be believed that a reformation could not be good that was begun by people of bad character, and a king of an immoral life. But so far is this from eclipsing, that it illustrates the wisdom and goodness of divine providence, in obliging the wicked to do what they never designed, and overruling their counsels for the fulfilling of God's holy, wise, and sovereign decree. This observation naturally arises from the words of our text, which were spoken by, as far as I can judge, one of the vilest men upon the earth: you doubtless know his name, Balaam, who, though florid in his expressions, and high in profession of intercourse with God, and puts on a fine face of religion, was but a rotten hearted hypocrite, for he divined for money, made a trade of religion; and so loved the wages of unrighteousness, as to have wished to curse even those whom God had blessed. I need not inform you, that this was the end for which Balak sent for him; and no wonder he was so willing to go, when he knew he was to be well paid for his journey. Achilles, the Grecian hero, is said to be capable of being wounded only in the heel, but bad priests, ministers, and people, have a great deal more dangerous part to be wounded in, that is the palm of the hand; if you can keep that secure from being wounded with gold, never fear: the devil cannot have his end. Balak promised him great preferment, if he would but come and curse the people of God. A prophet, or soothsayer, is one that pretends to have intercourse with God or the devil, and Balak did not care by which of them it was, so that he could but get the Israelites cursed. Balaam catches at the golden bait, pretends to ask counsel of God; and what seems strange, Gud bids him go and yet sends an angel to meet him in the way, who stands ready to slay him for going. Does it not seem very strange, that God should bid a man go, and then slay him for going; but people that read this passage, should carefully mind the particulars of it. God said, if the men come and call thee, go; but he did not wait for that, but saddles his ass and goes; this is called by St. Peter the madness of the prophet: witness his rising early in the morning, not waiting for the call of the princes, which showed how eager he was to be gone: and though this solution should not be allowed, God was justly angry for his going with an ill design, that is, maliciously to curse a people whom he knew God resolved should be blessed, and that for the sake of the wages of unrighteous
ness. The king and his nobles wait upon him, in hopes this soothsayer will answer their purpose ; but after all he can do nothing without God's leave: however, no cost is spared to obtain the end ; so true is it, that the devil's children are ten thousand times more expensive in persecuting the people of God, than God's people are in promoting his glory. This soothsaying priest pretends to go to God, which is permitted, but forced to speak what God would have him; once and again his mouth is stopped, or rather his curses are stopped and turned into a blessing. Balak, enraged at his repeated disappointment, bids him neither to curse or bless them at all; and thinking, perhaps, that the sight of the people affected him, carries him to a place where he would see but a small part of them; he goes, and there God made him confirm the blessing instead of the curse, more abundantly than before. Oratory is beautiful, though out of the mouth of the worst of men: “Surely, (said he,) there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel. Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion; he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, and drink the blood of the slain ;" having said just before, According to this time it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, what hath God wrought !
What words are here out of the mouth of a wicked man! and yet I hope it will do no hurt to choose them as a proper subject for an evening meditation. Let us leave this profane diviner, and the king his employer, vexed that they could not get their end of the people of God; let us snatch the words out of the vile prophet's mouth, and see if we can serve him as David did Goliath, take his sword and cut off his head. Some people run to extremes, and because some have abused religion, therefore they think there is no religion at all. Perhaps it is for this reason, that so many offenses are permitted to happen in the churches, that one of the twelve should be a traitor, and that the devil should come with his Bible under his arm to tempt us to disbelieve or abuse it, by which God stirs up the people of God to watch, fight, and pray.
How should we take the words of our text ? By way of interrogation, or admiration? As speaking in a prophetic strain how God had wrought, and did then work and would afterwards work for the prosperity of his faithful Jacob and his posterity, the Israel of God.
* It is no unusual thing in holy writ, for heaven to resent and punish even those actions that it has permitted. Witness Deut. i. 20—35, compared with Numb. xii. 2-Hos. xiii. 11, compared with 1 Sam. viii. 7, chap. xv. 23, chap. xvi, 1–Psalms lxxxi. 11, 12, &c. &c.
Suppose we take them in the way of question, which, perhaps, is most agreeable to the context, and it may be most serviceable to you and to me; and in order that I may not run into too great a field to-night, I will confine myself to what Balaam confines himself, from this time it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, (in a way of inquiry,) what hath God wrought ?
If we look around the world and survey the works of creation, “ the heavens declare God's glory; and the firmament showeth thy handy work.” If we look further my brethren, down upon these bodies of ours, if we consider the curious form of them, we may cry, what hath God wrought! Surely I am fearfully and wonderfully made; and when we consider that we are made up of four elements; when we consider to what casualties we are exposed, how wonderfully these bodies have been kept up, when thousands have dropped into the grave before us, we may well say, what hath God wrought! But I rather choose to confine myself to that better part: and I am persuaded, we shall never go to heaven unless God works powerfully on our souls. Supposing you and I now were to forget all created beings; supposing we were to forget our neighbors to-night, and to hear only for ourselves, as the shades of evening are coming on, and as we are going shortly to rest, may be to rise no more in this lower world, what if we should steal a little time from our shop, a little time from our worldly business, as we know not but we may be called to judgment to-morrow, and ask and say, O my soul, what hath God wrought in thy heart? I am glad to hear you are so inquisitive.
Observe, what hath God wrought ! Now whatever is done in us, is all done by God: it is all done by an almighty power, and it is all the effect of infinite wisdom. Supposing then you and I are new creatures, hath God, O my soul, wrought in thee a deep, a penitent, an humbling sense of thy transgressions against his holy law ? This is a most important question; this is the very beginning of religion; this is the very first letter of the christian's alphabet, the first line in his book; with this Christ himself began to teach fallen man. Adam, where art thou? was the first question that the Son of God put to his fallen creatures; what condition art thou in? How art thou fallen, thou son of the morning! and when he came to the woman, he took the same way, he preached, and ministers should preach conviction first; what is this, saith God, thou hast done ? To break thy husband, and bring all thy posterity unto ruin ? And it seems to me that there was a consciousness in this; and I wonder sometimes, the deists have not ran