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to destroy all that would invade their peace?—Has he not assured us that “neither the power nor the policy of hell shall ever prevail against them?” and that “none shall ever pluck them out of his hand?"--Having him, they have all—If none can separate them from his love,” their honour and beauty, their happiness and security are as firm and immovable as God himselfINFER
1. How desirable is it to be found among the little remnant!
(Look at the greatest monarch upon earth ; and the condition of Lazarus is infinitely preferable to his, unless he be among the number of God's people-Created glory, like that of Samaria, is but “a fading flower:" but if we belong to God, we have a portion, substantial in its nature, and everlasting in its duration_Let us then seek this portion with all earnestuess through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus-]
2. How little should we regard the scoffs and contempt of men!
[It is indeed “a small matter to be judged of man's judg. ment”-If God commend us as wise, we need not be concerned though men should account us fools—Time will shew, who are the truly wise, they who through the love of the world or the fear of man displease their God, or they, who face the frowns of the world and sacrifice its interests in order that they may please him—Indeed the ungodly themselves will soon alter their sentiments respecting these things - And, if a king upon his throne would not regard the ravings of a maniac who should conceit himself to be arrayed in royal majesty, so neither need we regard those who enjoy only the appearance of happiness, while we possess God himself for our crowa of glory, and our diadem of beauty-]
3. How are we bound in our respective spheres to honour and glorify our God!
[Can we reflect a moment on such transcendent mercies, and not feel it our duty to walk worthy of them?--If any ask, How shall I requite the Lord? We answer, “Be ye a crown of glory and a royal diadem in his hand”!—It is true, we cannot add to his honour, beauty, happiness, or security; but, as a diadem is that on which a prince looks with peculiar complacency, so may we be objects of pleasure and delight in the hand of our God-Let us then endeavour so to walk that we may be his boast; so to shine, that it may be seen to whom we belong; and so to honour him, that he may acknowledge us as his in the day that he shall make up his jewels-]
e Wisd. v. 3.6.
f Isai. Ixii. 3.
CLXX. CHRIST THE SALVATION OF ISRAEL.
Isai. xlvi. 12, 13. Hearken unto me, ye stout-hearted, that are
far from righteousness. I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvution shall not tarry: and I will place salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.
THEY who deny or doubt the existence of a supreme Being, may discover his eternal power and Godhead by the works of creation, and ascertain his infinite superiority above all false gods by the numberless predictions which he has given by his prophets, and the never failing accomplishment of them in their appointed season—To this last criterion God himself refers idolaters in the chapter before us, and challenges them to bring any of their false deities, who should be able to stand in competition with him-To us, who acknowledge his unrivalled glory, there is one thing which displays, in a wonderful manner, the transcendent riches of his grace; I mean, the free. ness with which his offers of mercy are made even to the most abandoned of mankind-This remark obviously arises from the words of our text; and will be fully illustrated by considering 1. The characters addressed
The words, in their primary meaning, are intended to describe those who were unhumbled by the judg nents inflicted on them in the Babylonish captivity, and unalfected with his promises of deliverance from it--As applied to us, they comprise two common characters 1. Those who feel no remorse for their past
sins [All must acknowledge that they have sinned against God, and that, as sinners, they ought to humble themselves before him-But how many never call their past ways to remembrance, or say with themselves, what have I done!—Their sins give them no uneasiness: instead of mourning over their offences, they palliate them; and, instead of imploring mercy at God's hands, they deny that they have any need to deprecate his wrath and indignation-And must not such people be called “stout-hearted?"-If God himself complains of those, who represent it as a vain thing to serve the Lord, That “their words are stout against him," surely the same complaint may
a Jer. viii, 6.
b Mal. iii. 13, 14.
justly be made against those who practically declare his service to be a needless yoke, and an intolerable burthen-)
2. Those who are unconcerned about their eternal salvation
[Many, alas! are as improvident about the future as they are unconcerned about the past, They will profess indeed that heaven is a desirable portion; but they will never enquire seriously whether they be in the way to attain it; nor ever exert themselves in earnest to secure it-If an empty wish, or a formal round of duties, will suffice for the acquisition of it, they will be content to pay the price: but if they are to run as in a race, and to fight as in a single combat in order to have it awarded to them, they do not think it worth the contestWhat now must we say of these, but that they are “ far from righteousness and salvation?”-Surely, if they be far from a concern about these things, much more must they be from the attainment of them-]
When we reflect upon the characters here addressed, how shall we stand amazed at II.' The address itself
The prophet, in these words, foretold both the deliverance of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, and the coming of their Messiah to save the world— To sinners of our day the text declares 1. That God has provided a Saviour for them
[Christ is undoubtedly that “ salvation whom God has placed in Zion,” and whom we are commanded to call, “ The Lord our righteousness"-Him has “God sent into the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself”---Hearken to this, ye stout-hearted: though ye have despised your God, your God has not despised you; but has pitied your fallen state, and made provision for your restoration to happiness Yes; for the angels that fell, he instantly “prepared” a place of unutterable and everlasting torment:c but for
prepared a Saviour, even his only dear Son—And shall not this make your obdurate hearts relent? Or will ye receive such stupendous grace in vain!] 2. That God now offers salvation to them
[This salvation is nigh to all of us, and the tidings of it are now sounding in our ears-It is placed in this our Žion as much as ever it was in Zion of old-Christ is now present in his ordinances according to his promise; and will be so even to the end of the world—At this very hour he“ proclaims
e Matt. xxv. 41.
liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” - TO
you, even to you, ye stout-hearted, is “ the word of this salvation sent"_Your past iniquities shall be forgiven, if only you will humble yourselves before himNor is this all: your God will not only restore you to his favour, but will glory" over you with unutterable joy_“You shall be even a crown of glory and, a royal diadem in his hands”!_Let not then your hearts be yet hardened against him; but let his transcendent “goodness lead you to repent. ance”-] ADVICE 1. Endeavour to see your obduracy in its true colours
[If you are free from gross sins, you think but little of an unhumbled and impenitent state-But what can be worse than a seared conscience, and a callous heart?-What can be worse than to feel no sorrow or contrition for your past offences, no desire to please your God, no anxiety to save your souls?-Be assured that such a state, with whatever naine it
may sed over, is hateful in the extreme; and that, if continued in, it will prove as fatal as a course of open profligacy and profaneness
2. Fear lest God should give you up to final impenitence
[The present address, which is made by God himself, shews clearly, enough, that he has no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wicked. ness and live”-But he is an holy God;- nor will his Spirit “ always strive with man”_He may be provoked at last to b.swear in his wrath that you shall never enter into his rest”This he most assuredly does with respect to many,who grieve his Spirit" till they have altogether "quenched” his sacred mo. tions" To-day therefore, while it is called to-day, harden not your hearts," o lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver”-]
3. Think what regret you will feel, when that salvation, which is now so near to you, shall be removed to an unapproachable distance
[Of all the miseries that can afflict a soul in the future world, we cannot conceive any more distressing than the thought of having had a Saviour provided for us, and salvation through him offered to uş—No words can express the sense which a self-ruined sinner will have of his folly, when he sees in one view the mercies he has slighted and the judgments he has brought upon himself—Now
he can be “ far from righteousness, and glory in his shame: but then he will see that, which
1 Isai. Ixii 3,
even courted his embraces here, removed afar off indeed; so far, as to preclude a possibility of ever attaining the possession of it-The Lord grant, that they who have hitherto slighted these overtures of mercy; may now embrace them with their whole hearts]
CLXXI. CHRIST A GREAT SAVIOUR. Isai. xix. 20. They shall cry unto the Lord because of the op
pressors, and He shall send them a Saviour, and a great One, and he shall deliver them.
GOD usually vouchsafes his mercies when we are re. duced to the greatest straits
This is manifest in his most remarkable dispensations of providence and of grace
In the greatest extremity God promised to send a deliverer to Egypta
But there is a further reference to Christ as the Saviour to the Gentile world
And it is in seasons of heavy dejection that He reveals himself to them
To him therefore we must look as the Saviour foretold in the text1. In what respects He is “a great Saviour”
It is justly said by the Psalmist that “ his greatness is unsearchable"
Nevertheless we may, not unprofitably, endeavour to illustrate it He is great when considered in his own person
[He has a name above every name either on earth or in heaven
He is exalted to be a prince that can give repentance and remission of sinsd
a In this view it seems applicable to the angel who slew 185,000 of Sennacherib's army: for, though that deliverance was more immediately vouchsafed to the Jews under Hezekiah, yet in its consequences it extended to Egypt. Sennacherib had before conquered and ravaged Egypt; and it was most probable that if he had taken Jerusalem he would have again proceeded thither with his victorious army, and reduced that already desolated kingdom to the lowest ebb of misery. But perhaps there may be a further reference to some other deliverers. b This appears from the whole context, ver. 18-25.
c Ps. cxlv. 3.
Acts v. 31. VOL. II.