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general satisfactory evidences of our conversion to God, and sufficient grounds for our hope towards him. But, if the whole multitude of legal institutions, framed by God's own order and according to a model shewn to Moses in the mount, were of no value as recommending men to God, how much less can the few services which we perform be sufficient to procure us acceptance with him? But it may be said, that moral services are more pleasing to God than ceremonial: true; but we are not told that God willed them, any more than the others, as means of effecting our reconciliation with him. It was the incarnation and death of Christ that God "willed;" and, in a remarkable correspondence with the text, he thrice, by an audible voice from heaven, said, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." Let every self-righteous. hope then be banished; and let us learn to glory in Christ alone.
2. What encouragement have all to devote themselves to God through Christ!
[We have the united testimony of prophets and apostles that God willeth the salvation of men through the sacrifice of his own Son, and that Christ as willingly offered himself a sacrifice in order to effect their salvation. What more can be wanted but that we go to God in that new and, living way, which is so clearly pointed out to us? We can have no doubt of God's willingness to save, or of the sufficiency of that salvation which he has provided for us. Let nothing then keep us back from God: but let us look to Christ as the propitiation for our sins, and plead the merit of his all-atoning blood. Thus, sanctifying ourselves in his name, we shall be perfected before God; being sanctified also by the Holy Ghost, we shall be acceptable in the sight of God and our Father for ever and ever."]
■ 'Ovx evdóxnoas, ver. 8. with iv ivdoxnoa. Matt. iii. 17.
y 1 John ii. 2.
z Ver. 14. with Heb. ix. 12.
a Rom. xv. 16.
CLIII. GOD'S COVENANT ENGAGEMENTS WITH
CHRIST AND US.
Ps. lxxxix. 28-35. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David.
IN seasons of deep affliction, when, through unbelief, we are ready to think that God has forsaken and forgotten us, it is well to look back to God's covenant engage. ments, whereon, as on a rock, we may stand firm amidst the tempest that surrounds us. It was under such cir cumstances (probably about the time of the Babylonish captivity) that this Psalm was penned. In it the stability of God's covenant is fully declared. The fears and apprehensions of his people, as arising from his apparent violation of it, are next delineated: and it concludes with fervent adorations of God, who, notwithstanding all the dictates of unbelief, is worthy to be blessed for evermore.
For the just use, as well as understanding, of the passage before us, we shall
1. Explain it
[There can be no doubt but that the words, in their literal meaning, refer to the covenant which God made with David respecting the continuance of his posterity on his throne;" and which seemed to be violated, now that both king and peo. ple were carried captive to Babylon; but which, in fact, should be accomplished in all its parts; because whatever they might endure for a season, the sceptre should not depart from Judah till Shiloh should come.
But there is doubtless a reference to Christ, who is often called David. Some of the words originally addressed to David, are expressly declared to refer to Christ chiefly, yea exclusively. They must be understood therefore as containing God's covenant with Christ.
a 2 Sam. vii. 12-17.
bEzek. xxxiv. 23, 24. Hos. iii. 5. 0 Compare 2 Sam. vii. 14. with Heb. i. 5.
In them we see, first, God's assurances respecting Christ himself, that notwithstanding all the troubles he should experience, he should be raised from the dead," and have all the kingdoms of the earth for his possession.
Next, Christ is assured respecting his people, who are his seed, that though through infirmity and temptation they may fall into sin, the Father will not utterly abandon them, or finally withdraw his love from them. He will not indeed leave them to continue in sin (for that would be incompatible with their salvation) but he will chastise them; till they repent and turn from all their transgressions: and thus will he secure them to Christ as his inheritance.i
The grounds of these assurances are, lastly, specified. These are God's covenant, and his oath. Having entered into covenant with his Son, he cannot disannul it. Yet, if he were to give up final destruction any who were Christ's spiritual seed, this covenant would be broken; seeing that some who were given to Christ would perish, and Christ, as far as relates to them, would have died in vain. Moreover, in this, the oath, which (for our consolation) he sware to his Son, would be violated: but, having sworn by his holiness, which is the glory of all his perfections, he never can, nor ever will recede. On these grounds therefore the glory of Christ, and the salvation of his people are irrevocably secured.]
Lest however this consolatory passage should be abused, let us
IL. Improve it
It evidently teaches us
1. To cleave unto Christ with full purpose of heart [The covenant, whether made with David or with Abraham, was confirmed before of God in Christ. Every blessing of the covenant was made over to him as our head and representative, and must be received from him by faith.' To him therefore must we look for pardon, stability, and everlasting salvation. As to him the promises were made," so in him alone are they yea, and Amen." Let it then be our great care to be found in him; and then we may nest assured that nothing shall ever separate us from him.P]
d Compare Isai. Iv. 3. with Acts xiii. 34.
• Luke i. 32, 33. Rev. xi. 15.
f Isai. liii. 10. Ps. xxii. 30. 1 Pet. i. 23.
Isai. liv. 7-10. Jer. xxxii. 40.
i John xvii. 11. 1 Pet. i. 5—7.
1 Col. i. 19. John i. 16. ■ 2 Cor. i. 20.
• Phil. iii. 9.
b Heb. xii. 14.
k Gal iii. 17.
2. To endure with patience and thankfulness whatever afflictions God may lay upon us
[Part of God's covenant is, to correct us in measure." And, however afflicted any may be, have they any cause to say, that they are corrected beyond measure? Can a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?r Surely it is far better to be chastened here, than to be condemned with the world hereafter. We may all see reason enough for chastisement, if we will but mark our daily and hourly transgressions. Let us therefore not so much as desire God to spare us, provided he see that we need correction for the welfare of our souls; but rather let us kiss the rod, and improve it," and adore the hand that uses it for our good.*]
3. To dread sin as the greatest of all evils
[Though at first sight this passage may seem to weaken our dread of sin, yet, in reality, it is calculated to impress us with a holy fear of offending God. The covenant made with Christ does indeed secure the salvation of his people: but does it provide them impunity in sin? No-On the contrary, it engages God to punish sin, yea, to punish it effectually; and never to leave his people under its dominion. Is there then room to say, I shall be saved, though I commit sin? No: for either God will"drive it out with the rod of correction," or leave it as an indisputable mark that we never belonged to him at all. Let us never then make Christ a minister of sin; but learn from the very grace that saves us to glorify him by a holy conversation."]
9 Jer. xxx. 11.
Lam. iii. 39.
u Isai. xxvii. 9.
s1 Cor. xi. 32.
* Heb. xii. 10.
Galii. 17. b Tit. ii. 11, 12.
CLIV. CHRIST A STANDARD FOR THE GENTILES. Isai. xi. 10. In that day there shall be a root of fesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
THERE is a day, often referred to in the prophetic writings, a day fixed in the divine counsels, which is to be distinguished above all others in the annals of the world. That which will render it so remarkable, is figuratively described in the preceding context, and plainly declared in the words we have just read: it is, in a word, the conversion of the Gentiles to the faith of Christ.. This, with
its consequences to the church of God, are the two points to which we would now direct your attention
I. The conversion of the Gentiles
Christ is here represented as "an ensign," around which all are to flock
[He is "the rod out of the stem of Jesse;" and it is of him that the prophet speaks in the prophecy before us." He is erected as a standard in the preaching of the gospel. But a standard is not merely an object to be gazed at: it intimates to all who behold it, that they are in danger from their enemies; that they must fight in their own defence; and that their sovereign invites them to enlist under his banners: it intimates further, that, whatever is necessary to arm them for the combat, or to support them in their warfare, shall be provided for them. Now such an ensign is Christ: He is set up, not merely to awaken the attention of people to himself, but to warn them of the approach of their enemies, and to shew them the only means of preservation. It is not in this warfare as in, others, that they who fight expose themselves to dangers, and that they, who decline the combat, are kept in safety: the very reverse of this is true in the spiritual warfare: he who will not fight must perish, whilst all who engage courageously in the contest, shall live for ever.]
By the erecting of this standard the Gentile world shall be converted to God
[Whatever other means be used for awakening sinners, they are all ineffectual for the end proposed. It is the preaching of Christ crucified, and that only, that will ever avail for the quickening of the dead, and the renovating of mankind. after the image of their God. And this has already met with much success; and, in God's appointed time, shall effect a change on the whole face of the earth. When Peter first "opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word." And the great apostle of the Gentiles succeeded in turning thousands from their idols to serve the living God. But we have hitherto seen only the first fruits: the harvest is yet to come: and a glorious harvest it will be: for, when "the fulness of the Gentiles shall be brought in," "all the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdoms of Christ;"" there will be but one Lord and his name one;"" and all shall know the Lord from the least to the greatest. ." This is what our Lord himself also has predicted, saying, "I, if I be lifted up (upon the cross, and after
a Ver. 1.
b Rom. xv. 12.
Rom. xi. 25. Rev. xi. 15. Zech. xiv. 9. Jer. xxxi. 34.