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of the earth upon the earth. 23 Then the moon shall be
22 And they shall be gathered confounded, and the sun atogether, as prisoners are ga- shamed, when the Lord of thered in the pit, and shall be hosts shall reign in mount Zion, shut up in the prison, and after and in Jerusalem, and before many days shall they be visited. his ancients gloriously.
LECTURE 1126. The sins and judgments to which we are exposed. The prophet turning his discourse from the various heathen nations which lay round about Jerusalem, now addresses himself to God's chosen people, and tells them of calamities hanging over their own heads; which he describes in terms so fearful, and after which he makes mention of a season so full of glory, that however properly his words may apply, in the first instance, to the Babylonian captivity and its ending, they seem no less plainly to foreshew the dispersed condition of the Jews at present, and that great movement among the nations of the earth, which will be followed by their glorious restoration. Then shall there be some dreadful visitation on those powers, which have delighted to oppress God's antient people. Then shall they from whom God has so long hidden away his face, be again visited graciously. Then shall the glory of the sun and of the moon be as nothing, compared with the grace and glory of the Lord of hosts, reigning in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem. But whatever be the right interpretation of this much disputed prophecy in all its parts, it admits of many a plain application to our own improvement. Here we learn, that God's judgments overtake all alike of every rank, station, and employment. Here we may observe, that there can be no so certain warrant that a thing will come to pass, as this, that “the Lord hath spoken this word.” Here we find that nothing is more likely to deprive us of God's blessing, and provoke his curse, than transgressing his laws, changing his ordinances, and breaking that covenant which in Him can never fail. And these, let us remark, are offences committed not out of his church but in it; offences therefore, which we, who are now members of his church, might be tempted to commit; judgments these are which we are liable to suffer. Our church privileges, and our gospel privileges, are in jeopardy, if we thus transgress. Our abundance of the means of grace may suddenly be turned into a famine of the word of the Lord; and of all our religious communion only a lean remnant left, to glorify God in the fires of affliction and persecution, and to sing songs of praise unto our Saviour from the uttermost parts of the earth.
Never then may we wilfully transgress God's holy laws! Never may we presumptuously change his divine ordinances ! Never may we break, never fail to observe, honour, and uphold, that everlasting covenant, which He has given us in the Gospel, through Jesus Christ our Lord !
The praise of God for delivering his people. 1 O LORD, thou art my God; mountain the face of the covering I will exalt thee, I will praise cast over all people, and the vail thy name; for thou hast done that is spread over all nations. wonderful things ; thy counsels 8 He will swallow up death of old are faithfulness and truth. in victory; and the Lord God
2 For thou hast made of a city will wipe away tears from off an heap; of a defenced city a all faces; and the rebuke of his ruin: a palace of strangers to be people shall he take away from no city ; it shall never be built. off all the earth : for the LORD
3 Therefore shall the strong hath spoken it. people glorify thee, the city of 9 And it shall be said in that the terrible nations shall fear day, Lo, this is our God; we thee.
have waited for him, and he 4 For thou hast been a strength will save us: this is the Lord; to the poor, a strength to the we have waited for him, we will needy in his distress, a refuge be glad and rejoice in his salfrom the storm, a shadow from vation. the heat, when the blast of the 10 For in this mountain shall terrible ones is as a storm against the hand of the Lord rest, and the wall.
Moab shall be trodden down 5 Thou shalt bring down the under him, even as straw is noise of strangers, as the heat in trodden down for the dunghill. a dry place; even the heat with 11 And he shall spread forth the shadow of a cloud: the his hands in the midst of them, branch of the terrible ones shall as he that swimmeth spreadeth be brought low.
forth his hands to swim : and 6 And in this mountain shall he shall bring down their pride the Lord of hosts make unto together with the spoils of their all people a feast of fat things, hands. a feast of wines on the lees, of 12 And the fortress of the high fat things full of marrow, of fort of thy walls shall he bring wines on the lees well refined. down, lay low, and bring to the 7 And he will destroy in this ground, even to the dust.
LECTURE 1127. The Gospel blessings for which God is to be praised. These songs of thanksgiving follow in due order, after the deliverance referred to at the close of the preceding chapter. They may be well applied in the first instance to that great national prosperity, which God was pleased to allot to the Jewish nation, some time after their return from the captivity in Babylon. Thus we read in the First Book of Maccabees, concerning Simon Maccabæus, that he “enlarged the bounds of his nation, and recovered the country, and gathered together a great number of captives, and had the dominion of Gazara, and Bethsura, and the tower, out of the which he took all uncleanness, neither was there any that resisted him. Then did they till their ground in peace, and the earth gave her increase, and the trees of the field their fruit. The antient men sat all in the streets, communing together of good things, and the young men put on glorious and warlike apparel. He provided victuals for the cities, and set in them all manner of munition, so that his honourable name was renowned unto the end of the world. He made peace in the land, and Israel rejoiced with great joy. For every man sat under his vine and his fig tree, and there was none to fray them: neither was there any left in the land to fight against them : yea, the kings themselves were overthrown in those days. Moreover he strengthened all those of his people that were brought low: the law he searched out; and every contemner of the law and wicked person he took away. He beautified the sanctuary, and multiplied the vessels of the temple.” (1 Maccabees 14. 6—15.) But remarkably as this account agrees in many points with the prophetic words before us, it falls far short of fulfilling all the glory here foretold. It was when the Gospel was preached to the poor that a more ample fulfilment of these words began to take place. Then was a plenteous feast set forth, for all who hunger and thirst after righteousness. Then was that vail which had long been spread over all nations done away with, and the light of truth made free to all alike. And S. Paul is writing of a period still future, when he tells us, concerning one of these glorious promises, “then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory." 1 Cor. 15. 54. And it appears to be of the same happy futurity that these same promises are thus repeated in the Book of Revelation, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Rev. 21. 4.
Rev. 21. 4. Let us then exalt God, and praise his name, both for that which He has already done, and for that which He will yet do hereafter.
do hereafter. For delivering his people of old, for overthrowing the power and bringing down the pride of their enemies, and for giving us an earnest in their safety, peace, and plenty, an earnest of those better things of which we are made partakers in the Gospel, and of which we trust that in no distant day we shall have full and glad possession ; for all this let us praise God's holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
A song of thanks for the safety of God's people. i In that day shall this song for their envy at the people ; be sung in the land of Judah; yea, the fire of thine enemies We have a strong city; salva- shall devour them. tion will God appoint for walls 12 LORD, thou wilt ordain and bulwarks.
peace for us : for thou also hast 2 Open ye the gates, that the wrought all our works in us. righteous nation which keepeth 13 O LORD our God, other the truth may enter in.
lords beside thee have had do3 Thou wilt keep him in per- minion over us: but by thee fect peace, whose mind is stayed only will we make mention of on thee : because he trusteth in thy name. thee.
14 They are dead, they shall 4 Trust ye in the Lord for not live; they are deceased, they ever: for in the LORD JEHO. shall not rise : therefore hast VAH is everlasting strength :
thou visited and destroyed them, 5 For he bringeth down them and made all their memory to that dwell on high; the lofty perish. city, he layeth it low; he layeth 15 Thou hast increased the it low, even to the ground; he nation, O LORD, thou hast inbringeth it even to the dust. creased the nation : thou art
6 The foot shall tread it down, glorified : thou hadst removed it even the feet of the poor, and far unto all the ends of the earth. the steps of the needy.
16 Lord, in trouble have they 7. The way of the just is up- visited thee, they poured out a rightness : thou, most upright, prayer when thy chastening was dost weigh the path of the just
. upon them. 8 Yea, in the way of thy judg- 17 Like as a woman with child, ments, O LORD, have we waited that draweth near the time of for thee; the desire of our soul her delivery, is in pain, and is to thy name, and to the re- crieth out in her pangs; so have membrance of thee.
we been in thy sight, O Lord. 9 With my soul have I desired 18 We have been with child, thee in the night; yea, with my we have been in pain, we have spirit within me will I seek thee as it were brought forth wind; early: for when thy judgments we have not wrought any deliare in the earth, the inhabitants verance in the earth ; neither of the world will learn right- have the inhabitants of the eousness.
world fallen. 10 Let favour be shewed to 19 Thy dead men shall live, the wicked, yet will he not learn together with my dead body righteousness : in the land of shall they arise. Awake and uprightness will he deal un- sing, ye that dwell in dust: for justly, and will not behold the thy dew is as the dew of herbs, majesty of the LORD.
and the earth shall cast out the 11 Lord, when thy hand is dead. lifted
up, they will not see: but 20 Come, my people, enter they shall see, and be ashamed thou into thy chambers, and
shut thy doors about thee: hide cometh out of his place to puthyself as it were for a little nish the inhabitants of the earth moment, until the indignation for their iniquity : the earth be overpast.
also shall disclose her blood, and 21 For, behold, the LORD shall no more cover her slain.
LECTURE 1128. Our joy in the assurance of life from the dead. Here is a fresh song of triumph; which, like that in the last chapter, however suitable to God's people under the Law, seems to be justly applicable, and intended to apply, to our privileges and hopes under the Gospel. They who returned from the Babylonish captivity had a strong and safe city, and peace given them therein by God. We are citizens of “the heavenly Jerusalem;" Heb. 12. 22; and have salvation both of soul and body, and have peace in our consciences towards God, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. They of old saw their lofty oppressors laid low, and a highway prepared for their prosperous return, after long and patient waiting for God's good time. We have been put into the way of salvation, without waiting, straightway from our birth. And would we but walk therein with patience, we should be always safe. But alas, how many, when thus established “in the land of uprightness," profit neither by God's past judgments, nor by his present mercies ! How many, even when his hand is lifted up for judgments yet to come, refuse to see, until overtaken by the fire reserved for his enemies !
Far be from us such blindness of mind! Far be from us such hardness of heart! Believing that God has ordained peace in our behalf, ascribing to Him the glory of every good thought and deed, in which we now desire to abound, let us altogether renounce the service of sin and Satan. Let us be thankful to be assured, that at the death of Christ these our deadly enemies had their deathblow given them. Let us rejoice in the persuasion that the number of those who thus believe has increased and is increasing. Without this saving faith what would be our existence, what, but as that of Babylonish captives; toil, without profit, travail without offspring? How welcome to the soul weary of a state so hopeless, how welcome the voice which offers us, in our immediate deliverance, little less than life from the dead, and assures to us, after this short life ended, an actual resurrection unto life eternal ! Oh that whilst God's judgments, as well as his mercies, have yet a more ample fulfilment at hand, we may dwell in safety under his protection! And when the hour of his vengeance shall come, for all the bloodshedding, oppression, and wrong, of which man is guilty towards his fellows, oh that we, having lived in piety and charity a life of peace and joy, may be counted to have kept his truth, and may be admitted as a “righteous nation" within the gates of the divine glory!