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Use II. Of reproof to two sorts of persons.
1. To those who go with the stream of the evil days, and are themselves following the profane and backfliding courses of the day, that make the time fo evil. Alas! how many are there, who are drawing on wrath on themselves and on the land by their irreligion, profaneness, and apoftasy from God? Let such confider,
(1.) How dangerous it is to be found among those who are in a conspiracy against God, to provoke his wrath against a land. When the flood of dishonour to God runs so high, those that join themselves in the sinful courses of the day, they not only have a hand in provoking God against themselves, but they are the Achans in the camp, the Jonahs in the 1hip, having a notable hand in bringing wrath on others too.
(2.) The higher one's hand is in a sinning time, the deeper may their share be expected to be in a time of fuffering or calamity, when the Lord will appear to vindicate the glory of his name.
2. To thofe who weigh not the evil of the days, but live on carelessly, and are never stirred up to their duty thereby. They consider not how matters stand betwixt God and the generation. This is a common evil amongst us, and a sad evidence of the low ftate of religion at this day. O that such would be stirred up to consider their ways, and the grounds of the Lord's controversy with the generation Awake, O fleeper, and call upon thy God, left thou perith in the furious form, which is likely to break out upon us.
It is not a time to live at ease and unconcerned, when so many marks of the Lord's displeasure are so visible, that he who runs may read. Awake therefore, thake off thy sloth, and betake thyself to the Lord Jesus by faith, as the only means of thy escaping the wrath that is to come.
Palling Passing under the Rod, a Means of a
People's being brought into the Bond of the Covenant.
S E R
Μ Ο Ν
Preached on a Fast-day, at ETTRICK, Thursdays
December 1. 1720.
EZEKIEL XX. 37.
And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will
bring you into the bond of the covenant.
'N these words we have a scheme of God's dispensa
tion towards Israel, a people with whom he was. angry, but had kindness for. in which we may observe,
1. A sharp trial threatened; I will cause you to pafs under the rod. This rod is not to be understood of the king's rod or sceptre, but the shepherd's rod. God was the Shepherd of Israel, but they had strayed away from him. In the verse preceding this he tells them, that he would bring them together into the wilderness, and plead with them as he did with their fathers in that defert; and that the way he would treat them there, would be by causing them to pass under the rod. Compare Lev. xxvii. 32. The wilderness was Babylon, and the places about it, the place of their captivity. The rod was the seventy years captivity, and the hard treatment they met with during that period. The Lord tells them, that he would manage that matter as exactly as one C 2
does in telling of sheep for teinding them; that he would make such a distinction and separation among them, as was made by the shepherd's rod, when the flock was teinded: in a word, that he would teind them, and the stock should go for it one way or 0ther, but he would keep the teind to himself. Thns it was in the wilderness, where the body of that generation that came out of Egypt, fell, and never entered Canaan. Thus very few of them that went to Babylon came back, but either died or otherwise were left there. Compare verf. 38.
2. The happy. issue of this trial to the remnant that won through; I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. This concerns the Lord's teind that fell to him by the whole paffing under the rod. They had all flipt the bond of the covenant; their national idolatry had cut the very finews of it: but God would make them willingly put their necks again under the sacred bond. And so it was prophesied they would do, Jer. l. 5. Come, say they, and let us join ourselves to the Lord, in a perpetual covenant that fball not be forgotten. Compare Neh. ix. ult. And because of all this, we make a sure covea nant, and write it. See chap. X. 28.-39. And they adhered so firmly to this covenant, that they never after fell to idolatry,
The doctrine I obferve from the words is,
Doct. Justice mixed with mercy towards a generation, to whom God's covenant is a burden, causes the treacherous generation to pass under a rod, deftructive to many of them, trying to all of them, and so brings them back into the bond of the covenant.
In England and Ireland, the bond of the covenant has lain among their feet trod upon these many years : In Scotland, church and state has loosed the bond, so that it is hanging down among our feet at
this day. There are three ways of God's dealing with such a generation.
1. The way of unmixed justice, laying the heavy curse of the covenant upon them, and either utterly destroying them that they shall be no people, or unchurching them that they shall be no people of God. Thus he dealt with the old world, Gen. vi. 13. The end of all flesh is come before me ;-and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. And thus he threatened to do with the church of Ephesus, Rev. ii. 5.-1 will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. And it is well known, that this threatening has been awfully aecomplished.
2. The way of unmixed mercy or sovereign grace, making wide steps over the iniquities of men, leaping over mountains, and melting them with love into repentance and reformation. Of this we have a remarkable instance, If. lvii. 17. 18. For the iniquity of his covetoufnefs was I wroth, and
fmote him : I hid me, and was wroth, and he went on frowardly in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, and will beal him : I will lead him also, and restore comforts unto him, and to his mourners. Sometimes the Lord takes that way, as Micah v. 7. The remnant af 'Jacobsball be in the midst of many people as the dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grafs, that tarrieth. not for man, nor waiteth for the Sons of men. But this is more to be desired than hoped.
3. The way of justice mixed with mercy. This is the common road of providence, in which justice
each act their part, and is the way in our text, and which we have ground to look for.
In discourfing further from this subject, I shall,
I. Shew, that this is the common method of prom vidence in such a case.
II. What are thofe rods the Lord causerh fuch a generation to pass under. с 3
III. How by such means a people are brought back into the bond of the covenant.
IV. Give the reasons of this dispensation.
I. I fhall fhew, that this is the common method of providence in such a case. This appears,
1. From plain scripture-declarations of the mind of God in such a case, as Hag. ii. 7. I will fake alt nations, and the desire of all nations foall come. Shaking times go before reforming times. A hot furnace precedes the purifying of a droffy church, as If. j. 25. 26. I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin. And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning : afterwards thou fhalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithe ful city. See chap. iv. And we have a passage most pat to our purpose, Zech. xiii. 8. 9. It shall come to pass, that in all the land, faith the Lord, two parts therein sball be cut off, and die ; but the third ball be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried : they sball call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people; and they ball say, The Lord is my God. This is a sweeping stroke carrying off the most part, a hard trial to those that are left, and the covenant renewed with them.
2. From fcripture-instances. What heavy bondage did the lsraelites suffer in Egypt, before God took them into the Sinai covenant? They met with a sweeping stroke in the wildernefs, before they entered into Canaan, The temple was built, and they had glorious days, in Solomon's reign; but before that almost continual wars in David's time, famine for three years, and about the latter end of his reign feventy thousand were swept away by the pestilence. They had seventy years captivity before the building