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[Should we “prophesy smooth things" unto people who are perishing in their sins, and who before another sabbath may be “ gone to the dead?” Should we, if we beheld a stranded vessel, seek to amuse the sailors, instead of affording them direction and assistance? How much less then if we ourselves were embarked with them, and were partners of their danger? Surely then every time we preach, we should bear in mind that both our hearers and ourselves are dying creatures, and that, if we forbear to warn them, we ruin ourselves for ever.']
2. How earnestly should every one seek to be born
[Does the notion of regeneration appear absurd?m Let all hear and understand the grounds of that doctrine. What must we think of God, if he should fill heaven with sinners incorrigibly wicked, and incurably mad? Or what happiness could such sinners find in heaven, even if they were admitted there. There must be a meetness for the heavenly state: and that meetness can be obtained only by means of the new birth.' A new heart must be given us, and we must be made "new creatures in Christ Jesus."I Let all then seek this renewal of their hearts;t for, unless they be born again, they shall never enter into God's kingdom. ]
3. How greatly are all regenerate persons indebted to the Lord Jesus Christ!
[They were once even as others: if there was any difference, it was only in their acts, and not in their hearts. But they are delivered from their sins," endued with soundness of mind, and made heirs of everlasting life:' and all this they have received through the atoning blood and prevailing intercession of the Lord Jesus. What a Benefactor then is he! And how should the hearts of all be knit to him in love! O “let them give thanks whom the Lord hath redeemed:"2 and let all seek these blessings at the hands of a gracious and almighty Saviour.]
I Ezek. xxxiii. 8.
Rom. vi. 14. & viii, 2. z Ps. cvii. 1,
m John iii. 7, 9. n Col. i. 12.
1 Eph. ii. 3. 2 Tim. i. 7.
y John v. 24.
CCCXLIX. MEN'S PROUD CONTEÚPT OF GOD.
Psalm x. 4, 5. The wicked, through the pride of his coun
tenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts: his ways are always grievous: thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them.
PRIDE, when manifested in a flagrant manner, universally excites disgust; so hateful is it, when divested of the specious garb in which it is generally clothed. But though all hate pride, when it appears in others, few are sensible how much it reigns within their own bosoms. In our converse with man, this evil disposition is ready to shew itself on every occasion: but in our conduct towards God, it is the fruitful parent of habitual neglect, and atheistical contempt. This is affirmed in the passage be-. fore us, in which we may notice 1. The state of the wicked
It is not easy to conceive a more humiliating descrip. tion of their character than that given us by the Psalmist: They “will not seek after God.”
[God invites them to seek his face, and promises that he will be found of them; but they cannot be prevailed upon either by promises or threats: they will seek with eagerness an earthly object, that may make them happy; but they account God unworthy of any notice or regard.") “He is not even admitted into their thoughts”
[It is astonishing to what a degree men often banish Go! from their minds. They will pass days, months, and even years without one reverential thought of him, unless when they are alarmed by some awful providence, or awakened by some faithful discourse: and then, unless the grace of Gol prevent them, they will cast him out of their minis again as soon as possible, and drown their thoughts in business or dissipation.b]
They account“ his ways," as far as they know them, “grievous"
[When urged to devote themselves o God in sincerity
a JC 5. Serv. In
and truth, they conceive that such a state is unattainable, or, at least, incompatible with the common duties and offices of life. They call the indulgence of their lusts, liberty; and the exercise of vital godliness, an intolerable bondage. Every part of the divine life is irksome to them, and that too, not occasionally, but “always,” without any change or intermission.]
The “ judgments of God are far above out of their sight”
(Bv the “judgments" of God we understand his word and works. Now these are not only out of their sight in some particulars (for they are incomprehensible in some respects even to the most enlightened saints) but they are altogether foolishness unto them. When the mysteries of redemption are opened, they are esteemed by them as “cunningly devised fables:" and when the marvellous interpositions of Providence are insisted on, they are ready to exclaim, with Ezekiel's hearers, “Ah! Lord God, doth he not speak parables?"d] “ As for all their enemies, they puff at them”
[If God himself threaten them as an enemy, they disregard his menaces. The denunciations of his wrath are deemed by them unworthy of any serious attention. They even puff at them with contempt and disdain. They quiet all their fears, saying, like them of old, “ Tush, God shall not see; neither will the Almighty regard it:”e “ I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart.”f]
In order to account for this state of things, let us trace it to II. The real source of their wickedness
We might trace this practical atheism to men's igno. rance and unbelief: but the Psalmist suggests to us the true ground and occasion of it: it all arises from the pride of their hearts.
Men are too good, in their own apprehension, to need God's mercy
[They will confess that they are not altogether so good as they might be; but they do not think they deserve God's wrath and indignation. Why then should they trouble themselves to ask for mercy at his hands, when they are in no danger of suffering his judgments?]
They are also too strong to need his aid
[They imagine, that they can repent when they please, and that, whensoever they resolve, they can easily carry their resolutions into effect. If they thought that “without God they could do nothing,” and that “he must give them both to will and to do," then there were reason for imploring his assistance: but, when they acknowledge no such dependence upon God, wherefore should they seek his aid?] .
Moreover, they are too wise to need the teachings of his Spirit
[They see perhaps their need of a revelation to discover to them the mind and will of God; but, when that is once given, they are not conscious, that they need a spiritual illumination to discover the truths contained in it. They suppose their reason to be as suflicient for the investigation of spiritual, as of carnal things: and under that persuasion, they consider all application to God for the teachings of his Spirit, as enthusiastic and absurd.] Finally, they are too happy to need the divine presence
[They are occupied with carnal pleasure, and wish for: nothing beyond it. If only they can have the undisturbed indulgence of their appetites, it is, to them, all the paradise they desire. As for the light of God's countenance, and the manifestations of his love, they know not what is meant by such things; they suppose that they exist only in the pretensions of hypocrites, and the conceits of fanatics.
In short, like those of Laodicea, they possess such an imaginary sufficiency within themselves, that they have no need of God at all. And hence it is that they care not to have God in all their thoughts.] INFER 1. How astonishing is the depravity of human nature!
[If all be not equally addicted to gross sins, all are equally “ without God in the world:”h all have a "carnal mind that is enmity against God."i Alas! What a picture of human nature! Let “every mouth then be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.k1
2. How great is the change that takes place in conversion!
[The state of a converted soul forms a perfect contrast with that of the wicked. “Old things pass away, and all things become new.” Let all then ask themselves, Am I now devoting myself to God, as once I did to the world; and de
& Rev. iii. 17. h Eph. ii. 12.
i Rom. viii, ,
spising the world, as once I despised God? This were indeed "a new creation.”'']
3. How necessary is conversion in order to an enjoyment of heaven!
[There must be within ourselves a meetness for heaven before we can enjoy it." Let not those then, who banish God from their thoughts, and cast off his yoke, suppose that they could be happy in heaven, even if they were admitted there. If they would delight themselves in God for ever, they must obtain in this world a conformity to his image, and a delight in his commandments.]
12 Cor. v. 17.
me Col. i. 12.
CCCL. THE MUTUAL ABHORRENCE BETWEEN GOD
Zech. xi. 8. My soul loathed them; and their soul abhorred me.
that covenahe Jewish polity: ... Bands." He
he called on the Jewish polirudd made with
THE judgments of God that from time to time are inflicted on mankind are standing proofs that man has offended his Maker, and that God is displeased with his creatures. In this view they are continually represented in the scriptures; and in this light the Prophet taught his hearers to consider them. God had determined to abolish that covenant which he had made with his people, and to destroy the Jewish polity, the sacred part of which he called “ Beauty," and the civil “ Bands.” He speaks of himself as having already cut off (or perhaps, in prophetic language, as determined to cut off) three shopherds, the princes, the prophets, and the priests, in one month; and assigns as a reason for it, that there was a mutual abhorrence between himself and them; and that consequently there was abundant reason for the judg. ments denounced against them.
The Prophet, throughout this chapter, personates the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom a part of it was very remarkably fulfilled, and to whom it is expressly applied in the New Testament. But it is simply to
a Ver. 11, 12. with Matt. xxvii. 9, 10.