Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

which, after witnessing the remarkable fulfilment of prophecy towards the Jews, must be against the light of their own consciences : Jerusalem shall be a cup of trembling, a cup as it were of poison, to those who go up against her ; a rock falling upon their heads ; a hearth of fire among the wood; and a torch in a sheaf, ver. 2–6. Fourthly: That the country and the city shall be united against the enemy, ver. 5.7. Fifthly : That they shall be

uarded by Providence, and strengthened to encounter the greatest lifficulties : The Lord will defend them, and he that is feeble among ekem shall be as David, &c. ver. 8. Sixthly: That after all these temporal interpositions, the Lord will pour upon them a spirit of grace and of supplications, and they shall lament over their sins, and the sins of their fathers, particularly in having crucified the Lord of glory, ver. 10.

This order of things seems perfectly to agree with what is said in Ezek. xxxvii. where the process is described, first, by a noise, tben a shaking, a corning together bone to his bone, a being covered with sinews and flesh and skin, and last of all by their having breathed into them the breath of life, ver. 7–9. To the same purpose, they are described, in ver. 13, 14. as first brought out of their graves, and then as knowing their deliverer.

The only difficulty attending this statement, seems to arise from ver. 5. where, previous to the pouring out of the Spirit of grace upon them, the governors of Judah are supposed to strengthen themselves, and one another, in the Lord of hosts their God. But it is no unusual thing for the leaders of a people in time of war, though destitute of true religion, yet to have so much of a conviction of the dependence of all upon God, as to strengthen themselves and their armies by a hope of divine assistance. Joab could say to his brother, Be of good courage, and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God; and the Lord do that which seemeth him good.* 2 Sam. x. 12.

A few remarks on the spiritual part of the prophecy sball conclude this paper. First : The subjects of this great change : these will be both princes and people. In the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, there were many of the latter, but few if any of the former ; but now all descriptions of men shall bow to our Redeemer's sceptre. Secondly : The cause of it ; namely, the pouring upon them a spirit of grace and of supplications. The spirit of true religion is a spirit of grace in respect of its source, and of supplications in respect of its issue, importunate prayer. Looking at the state of these people at present, we are grieved for the hardness of their hearts ; but when the Spirit of the living God shall take the work in hand, the heart of stone shall become a heart of Aesh. Thirdly: The grand medium of it ; namely, the remembrance of Him whom their fathers crucified, and whom they themselves have pierced by justifying them in it. A believe ing view of Jesus on the cross will dissolve the most obdurate spirit in godly sorrow. Fourthly : The intenseness of the grief: it shall be a great mourning like that of a father for, the loss of an only son, or like the lamentations at the death of Josiah, in the valley of Megiddon. Fifthly : Its universality : the land shall mourn, and every family of every remaining tribe. Scarcely a house shall be found, but on entering it, you shall find them weeping over their former obstinacy and unbelief. Sixthly : The individuality and retirement of it: Every family shall mourn apart, and their wives apart. · They will not only weep together when they meet, but retire to lament in secret over their own iniquity. Scarcely a closet or private place shall be found, but some one will be watering it with his tears. Finally : The remedy to all this grief: In that day, there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. By looking to Jesus they were wounded, and by looking to Jesus they are healed. The first fruits of this great work ap. peared on the day of Pentecost, when thousands were pricked to the heart, repented, and were baptized in that name which they had despised; but the lump is yet to appear. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever : and let the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and amen :

ON THE MYSTERY OF PROVIDENCE, ESPECIALLY IN RESPECT OF GOD'S DEALINGS WITH DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE WORLD IN DIFFERENT AGES.

ell.

It has freqeuently been objected, that if the religion first taught among the posterity of Abraham, and afterwards among the Gen. tiles by the preaching of Jesus Christ, be of God, how is it that it has been so partial in its operations ? The promulgation of a religion adapted to man, it is said, should be as extensive as the globe. The force of this objection bas been felt; and Christian writers, in general, have acknowledged that there is a depth in this part of Divine Providence, which it is difficult, if not impossible, to fathom. There are hints to be found in the scriplures, however, which may throw some glimmerings of light upon the subject; and when the mystery of God is finished, we shall perceive that he has done all things well.

In general, we are given to understand that God is an absolute sovereign in the dispensation of his favours. He was under no obligation to any; and he will bestow his blessings in such a manver as shall cause this truth to be manifest to all. Man would fain put in a claim, and accuse the ways of Jehovah with being unequal ; but this only proves the perverseness of his own way. The blessings of civilization are undoubtedly adapted to man; yet a large proportion of the human race are mere barbarians : even those countries which have, in past ages, ranked high in this respect, are now sunk far below mediocrity ; while others, whom they were in the habit of treating with the greatest contempt, have been raised above them. It is thus that the valley is exalted, the mountain made low, and the glory of Jehovah revealed : but if God may act as a sovereign in dispensing the bounties of Providence, who shall call him to account for doing the same in the dis

tribution of the blessings of grace! He has, in all ages, manifested his determination, however, to act in this manner, let sinful creatures think of it as they may. With respect to individuals, the things of God have been bid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes ; and the same principle has been carried into effect with nations and continents. When the adversaries of sove. : reign grace meet with this doctrine in the scriptures, they endeavour to get rid of it by applying it in the latter sense only ; but God's dealing with nations and continents are of a piece with his dealings with individuals : they are only different parts of the same whole.

It is observable, that in the dispensations of mercy, God has in a wonderful manner, balanced the affairs of men, so as, upon the whole, to answer the most important ends in the great system of moral government. In the early ages, for instance, mercy was shown to the posterity of Abraham : and hereby the world was provoked to jealousy. On the coming of Christ, mercy was shown to the world ; and the posterity of Abraham, in their turn were provoked to jealousy: and there is reason to believe that before the end of time, and perhaps before many years bave passed over us, God will show mercy to both ; and each will prove a blessing to the other. The conversion of the Gentiles shall in the end effectually provoke them to jealousy ; and thus, through our mercy, they shall obtain mercy. On the other hand, their return to God will be a kind of moral resurrection to the world. Probably, the conversion of the great body of pagans and Mahometans may be accomplished by means of this extraordinary event. Their fall has already proved our riches ; how much more their fulness ! If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but LIFE FROM THE DEAD? God's merey towards them is, at present, righteously suspended, till the fulness of the Gentiles shall have come in. The Gentiles were as one behind in a race; let them first come up, and then all Israel shall be saved, and become as life from the dead to the world.

The fifty-second chapter of Isaiah appears to contain a prophecy of the restoration and conversion of the Jews; but in the last three verses it is intimated, that God's servant, the Messiah, by

whom it should be effected, should deal prudently. Now, much of prudence consists in the proper timing of things. This glori. ous work was not to take place immediately ; there must ere this be a long and awful pause. He must first come and suffer many things, and be rejected. The wrath of God must be poured on the Jews, on this account, to the uttermost; and the Gentile nations must be sprinkled with the showers of gospel grace. Such is the import of these last three verses, and the whole fifty-third chapter. Then in the fifty-fourth, she that had been a wife of youth, but of late refused and forsaken, is called upon to sing for joy ; and yet the mercy should not be confined to her; for the Redeemer should not only be called the Holy One of Israel, but the God of the whole earth. O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !

If God bad called the Gentiles without having first concluded, or shut them up as it were, under sin, their salvation would not have appeared to be the effect of free promise ; (Gal. iii. 22.) and if he bad not, in like manner, shut up the Jews in their unbelief, his mercy towards them bad been far less conspicuous. Rom. xi. 32. As it is, we behold the goodness and severity of God, each blazing by turns in the most lovely and tremendous colours.

Something analogous to this is observable in the conduct of God towards the eastern and western parts of the earth. For more than two thousand years after the flood, learning, government, and true religion, were, in a manner confined to the East; and our forefathers in the West were a horde of barbarians. For the last two thousand years, learning, government, and the true religion bave travelled westward ; they have been, within the last few centuries, extended even beyond the Alantic Ocean. But before the end of time, and perhaps before many years have passed over us, both the East and the West shall'unite, and become one in Christ Jesus. Such an idea, I apprehend, is conveyed in Isa. 1x. 6—9. The geographical descriptions of nations, as given in prophetic language, is commonly by way of synecdoche, putting those parts which are nearest the Holy Land for the whole, or all beyond

« AnteriorContinuar »