« PreviousContinue »
and <*one with the greatest silence, and yet al! very visibleani dis., rnible in their effects and fruits. But I pass this, and gc on to the third thing in the method.
III. The third thing was, to inquire a little into the import of the phrase,stretching out the hand to God, when the heart ii touched by the power of golpel grace.
Now, the stretching out the h.md of faith unto the true tai living God, it supposes or implies thr fe things following.
!_//, A revelation of God, and of his mind and will unto the children of men, through Jesus Christ. Whatever discoveries God mav make of himself in the works of creation *nd providence, yet, without a revelation of him, through Chnfti in the gospel glass, they will never engage a sinner to stretch out the hand of faith unto him, as we fee in the cafe of the heathens, who, though they knew God, even his etcrnil power and God'.ead, in the things that were made, yet they glorifi d him not as God. It is only the gospel that is ih< power o' G.>d un o salvation. It is upon the preachin? nf'W gospc), wl.ich if th rod of the Mediator's st'^ngth. '-t P-in.ii come out of figfpt, and Ethiopia stretches out her hands •ntt Gsi\
idly. It implies, an internal illumination of the he.rt wi mind with the knowledge of the glory of God in the faceol Jesus Christ. This is the very spring of a saving converlioi unto the true God. H*n'e Paul, describing his own contusion, gives it in one word, Gal. i. 16. •• Wben it pleaN God to reveal his Son in me," immediately his hand thai Was str.-tched out against the Lord, in a way of persecution; is sti tched forth for the advancement of the kingdom of Christ, t Cor iv. 6. "God, who commanded the light to shine ou" of d.irkntss, hath stunt d in our hearts," &c. Thi- ii the radical act of faith; hence faith is expressed by it, If. liii.il' "By his knowledge (hall my righteous Servant justify m*nr." So John xvii. 3. •' This is life etern.il, that thy might knot thee the only true God, and J>sus Christ whom thou hast sent
3<#y, The stretching out ot the hand of faith unto God in* plies an issent of the foul unto the record of God concemittf Christ. The assent of the mind unto any thing is frequents expressed hv the motion of the hand} so here, Ethiopia Jw stretch out the hand to God, it implies a setting to his seal t'.it God is true, in the testimony or record that God gives Qi,M Christ in the word of the gospel; they (upon the matter) ,JJ with Paul, 1 Tim. i. 15. " This is a faithful faying, and *or thy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the w.-rw to five signers." As the queen of Sheba said, so will the ;p»' i*y, when it beholds the glory of the true King Solomoa, ^
in believing, the will and assections are captivated with the love and lovelinefs of the bleffed Bridegroom. O, will the foul be ready to fay, "Thou art fairer than the children of men: He is altogether lovely. Whom have I in heaven but thee?" O the raifed esteem that the foul has of him! and the ardency of assection and desire that the foul h:s towards him! If. xxvi. 9. "The desire of our foul is to thee; with my foul have I desired thee in the night, yea, with my fpirit within me will I feek thee early."
ythly, The lifting up of the hand is an exprefsion of considence and trust, Ethiopia /ball ftntch out her hands unto Goi; as if he had faid, They fhall conside and trust in a reconciled God in Christ: Pfal. xxxvi. "How excellent is thy loving kindnefs, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings." The language of the foul, when it stretches out the hand to God, as a promifing r:eonciled God, is much like that, If. xii 2. "God is my falvation: I will trust, and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my fong, yea, he alfo is become my falvation." They trust in the name of the Lord, and his name is their strong tower of defence, Prov. xviii. 10.
icthly, The lifting up of the hand is an act of appropriation and application; Ethiopia shall ftretch out the hand to God, as the Lord their God, and they fhall have no other gods before him. Faith is a grace that draws in an insinite God revealing himfelf in Christ, as the foul's portion and property, as Ifrael did, Exod. xv. 2. "He is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation, my Father's God, and I will exalt him." Pfal. xlviii. 14. "This God is our God for ever and ever." See Pfal. lxxxi. 2. And this appropriation of God goes upon the ground of the grant that is made in and through a fecond Adam in the ntw covenant, "I am the Lord thy God. 1 will fay, It is my people; and they fhall fay, The Lord is my God," Zech. :ci;i. last.
Lasiiy, This phrafe of stretching out the hand to God implies an open profession of the faith in Christ, before the world, angels, men, and devils, which is fometimes called in fcripture, an avouching of the Lord to be our God; and is fometimes done there by a perfon or people, with the folemnity ot iifting up the hand, an ancies.r form ot fwearing, Rev.X.5-^when the angel fwore by him that livnhfor ever and ev#r, he doth it -Mth hi*, hand lifted up to heaven. So here, Ethiopia jJjallfuon stretih out hands unto God, that is, the inhabitants of Jtv.iopia, and oi the Gentile nations, shall openly profefs the God and F;:rher of our Lord Jefus Christ to be their God, and they Hull do it with the folemnity of an oath or covenant* as Ifrael did, Jofh, xxiv. 22. When Jofhua told them, "Ye are witnesses againft yourfelves, that ye have chofen you the Lord, to ferve him/' And in this manner have we, in this land, and neighbouring nations, lifted up our hand to God, declaring him to be our God, and ourfelves to be his people, although, alas! thefe covenants have been fcandaloufly broken, burnt, and in a great meafure buried.
IV. The fourth thing was, to inquire, for what end, or upon what defign, do sinners ftretch out their hands unto God, when their hearts are touched by the power of the gofpel.
Anfwer, in the following particulars.
ift, They stretch out their hands unto God, as helplefs, lost, undone sinners, to a mighty Saviour, to help them out of the horrible pit and miry clay into which they had fallen, by their sin and apostafy in Adam, and in their own perfons. When a sinner believes in Christ, he is just like Peter walking upon the waters; the waves and billows of God's wrath are just ready to fwallow him up, whereupon he cries, "Lord, fave me, I perifh ;" stretching out the hand to Christ for help. Lord, will the poor sinner fay, I heard thy voice in the gofpel, faying, "O Ifrael, thou hast destroyed thyfelf, but in me is thine help." Thou hast laid help upon one that is mighty, and I lay my help where thou hast laid it.
idly, They stretch out their hands as rebels against Heaven, fuing for peace at the hand of their ossended Lord and Sovereign. All mankind commenced war against Heaven in the breach of the sirst covenant; every man by nature is enmity against God, and every sin is an act of rebellion; and, while finners continue in a state of hostility against God, God is angry with them every day, and he fays, he will wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy fcalp of them that go on still in their trefpasses. Now, when the sinner fees his sin and mifery, and danger of falling into the hands of an angry God, he ftretches out his hand for peace and reconciliation, becaufe he hears, that God is in Christ reconciling the world to himfelf. He fees the white flag cast out from heaven, with a proclamation, If. lvii. 19. "I create the fruit of the lips, peace, peace to him that is far oss, and to him that is near."
idly, As guilty criminals, condemned in law, to receive the king's pardon and remission, according to the promife, Ifa. sliii. 25. " I, even I am he that Motteth out thy tranfgressions, for mine own name's fake." Oh ! will the man fay with David, Pfal. exxx. 3. 4. "If thou, Lord, fhouldst mark iniquity, O Vol. III. 3 P Lord, Lord, who shall stand before thee? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared." And therefore, " God be merciful to me a sinner!" So David, Psal. li. 1. " According to thy loving-kindness, blot out my transgressions."
qthiy, They stretch out the hand as supplicants, (Zeph. iii 10.) and beggars to receive of God's alms. God fays in his word, " If any man lack wisdom, let him r.!k os God, who givrth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not." Well, when tht pride and legality of the heart is broken by the power of the gospel, the sinner comes a begging at the door of grace and mercy, crying for a supply of all his wants: He hears God sits upon a throne of grace, calling the poor, blind, iod naked, to come " without money, and without price, to receive grace and m-rev to help in a time of need •," and therefore he stretches out the hand in a way of supplication, thu God, for Christ's fake, may «• supply all his need, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.''
$thly, The sinner stretches out the hand unto God, as a servant, to work the work of God, and to do whatsoever he commands him: "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Acts ix. 6.
6thly, As a soldier to fight the Lord's battles against sin, Satan, and the world : " Oh! do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee, and am not I grieved with those that rise us against thee ?" Psal. cxxxix. 21.
"jthty, As a biind creature, that needs to be guided in th; way that he knows not. Isa. xlii. 16. "I will bring the blind hy a way that they know not." Well, says the poor fo»!» Lord be a leader unto me, for •« good and upright is the Lord, therefore will he teach sinner? in the way," Psal. xxv. 8.
ithly, As the hand of a dillresl'cd child unto a tender he.rt'ed father. No sooner is the heart of a sinner touched by tbi power of gospel grace, but he begins to cry unto God, AbM. Father; Father, help; Father, heai; Father, relieve; ^ this is what the Lord delights in, and desires, as you fee, Jtriii. 4. "Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, my F* ther;" and oh! how are his bowels sensibly touched with this cry; as you fee in the cafe cs the prodigal, Luke xv. and ot Lphraim, Ter. xxxi. 19. "Is he my dear son ?" &c.
gtk/y, The hand is stretched out as the hand of the bride »s stretched out to the bridegroom in marriage. 'God fays in the gospel, "Thy Maker is thine Husband; I will betrothe thee unto me for ever." Amsn, says the poor foul: a bargs>r be it; from this time forward, 1 will call thee I/hi, my nutband, Hosea ii. 16. And thus that prophecy is fulfili"-'* If. xliv. c. "One shall sav, I am the Lord's; and anot!*'