« AnteriorContinuar »
have always been joyfully employed in the service of their Maker.
Finally, it appears from this whole discourse, that nothing short of real, cordial self-abasement can qualify any of our sinful race, to obtain and enjoy the happiness of heaven. Many have desired and endeavoured to get to heaven, without performing the mortifying duty of self-abasement. The Pharisee who went up to the temple to pray, trusted in himself that he was righteous, and should obtain salvation, by his mere external duties of religion and morality. Paul once built his hopes of heaven upon his blameless, beautiful, self-righteous conduct. But the Pharisee was rejected, and Paul was disappointed.
It is utterly in vain for impenitent and unhumbled sinners to hope, that any of their desires, or prayers, or self-righteousness, will qualify them for the favour and enjoyment of God. Every thing they say, desire, or do, while destitute of humility, is nothing but selfexaltation, which is diametrically opposite to a holy and heavenly spirit. God knows the proud afar off, and will never admit them to dwell in his presence. Sinners must be clothed with humility, before God will exalt them to his heavenly kingdom, and before they can possibly be happy there.
It is therefore the present indispensable duty of all self-righteous and self-confident sinners to humble themselves before God. Upon this necessary and condescending condition, he will save them from ruin and exalt them to glory. And surely those who have injured and offended him, by their groundless disaffection to his character, and disobedience to his law, ought to humble themselves deeply before him, and plead for his pardoning mercy. And if they will only give up all their self-righteous and self-justifying pleas, and
humbly cry with the poor Publican, “God be merciful to us sinners,” he will hear, and answer, and save them. But if they continue to exalt themselves, he will effectually humble them. He has appointed a day, in which he will expose all their turpitude and guilt to the view of the whole universe. He has appointed a Judge to condemn them, and doom them to everlasting shame and contempt. And to complete their humiliation, he has appointed a song of triumph to be sung over them to all eternity. And can their hands be strong. or their hearts endure, in the day that God shall thus deal with them? No, they must sink down into everlasting despair. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God, who will render vengeance to his enemies, and reward them that hate him!
GREAT MEN THE SERVANTS OF GOD.*
ISAIAH xlv, 4, 5. For Jacob my servants sake, and Israel mine elect, i
have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed
thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no god beside me.
I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.
MANKIND have always been extremely prone to overlook the hand of God in those events, which he has brought to pass by the instrumentality of subordinate agents. This has often led them to feel and to conduct very improperly under the dispensations of divine providence. To rectify and prevent such a great practical errour, God has been pleased, time after time, to predict some of the most important revolutions in the civil and religious world, and to name or describe the principal agents, by whom they were to be effected. He foretold the descent of Jacob and his family into Egypt, and their preservation there, by the agency of Joseph. He foretold the suppression of idolatry among his degenerate people, by the exertions of Josiah. And in a later period of the Jewish nation, he foretold their long and distressing captivity in Babylon, and their happy deliverance, by the instrumentality of a Pagan prince. To the character and conduct of this illustrious personage our text has immediate reference. The prediction is truly solemn and sublime,
Preached on the occasion of the death of General WASHINGTON. January 30, 1800.
becoming the majesty of the God of Israel and the Supreme Sovereign of the universe. “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings; to open before him the twoleaved gates, and the gates shall not be shut. I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I the Lord, which will call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no god beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.”
This Cyrus was the son of Cambyses, king of Persia, and of Mandana, the daughter of Astyages, king of Media. He early discovered something great and noble in his nature; and as he advanced in years, he more than answered the raised expectations, which his extraordinary virtues and talents had excited. He maintained, through a vast variety of scenes, an entire uniformity of character, and never differed from himself, only in that growing greatness, which finally placed him in the first rank of the first men in the world. This great man God was pleased to name, near two hundred years before he was born, as the principal agent, by whom he intended to deliver his chosen people from their wretched state of captivity, and to punish their powerful and cruel oppressors. Accordingly, in the course of his particular providence over the kingdoms of men, he raised up Cyrus to the zenith of human power and greatness, and made him the free,
voluntary instrument of promoting the cause of religion, and the happiness of the world. Hence it appears from this prediction, taken in connexion with its wonderful accomplishment,
That God justly claims a sovereign right, to make great men the instruments of executing his wise and benevolent designs.
To illustrate this sentiment, and to impress it upon your minds, my hearers, will be the business of the ensuing discourse.
God claims a supreme right to the services of great men, in almost every page of his word. How often do we hear him saying of this, of that, and of the other great character, he is my servant? How often do we meet with this sovereign language, my servant Moses? my servant Job? my servant Jacob? my servant Israel? my servant Isaiah? my servant Nebuchadnezzar? By such a mode of speaking, God holds up his sovereign right to employ great men just as he pleases, in executing the designs of his provi dence. But he more fully displays this prerogative, by publishing to the world what great men shall do, before they are brought into being. He claimed the services of Solomon, the wisest of men, and appointed the business of his life, before he was born. Thus he addressed his royal father. “Behold a son shall be born unto thee, who shall be a man of rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build an house for my name; and he shall be my son, and I will be his father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.” In the prediction concerning Nebuchadnezzar, God claimed a sovereign right to employ him as the minister of his vengeance,