« PreviousContinue »
flesh, and displayed in this dunghill-world of fin and misery, is what fills them with eternal wonder.
Secondly, We have the effects of this vision. 1. Upon the temple ; where, it is like, Isaiah got the manifestation, ver. 4. “ The posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the earth shook, and the house was filled with smoke." A cloud was cast over the face of his throne, and the posts and pillars of the temple fall a-trembling, as a signal of the destruction of the city and temple ; first by the Babylonians, add afterwards by the Romans. 2. Upon this the prophet is ftruck with confternation at the light of the divine glory, ver. 5. “Wo is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips : for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." 3. We have the filencing of the prophet's fears by the good and comfortable words which the angel spake unto him ; and a sign given him of the remillion of his sin, as a preparation for his converse with God, ver. 6. 7. “ Then flew one of the Se. raphims unto me, having a live-coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar. And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips, and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.” 4. We have an awful commission given unto the prophet. An inquiry is made, by a Trinity, for a man that would bear the commission; the prophet offers himself: ver. 8. “ Whom Thall I send, and who will go for us? Here am I, (says the prophet), send me." The prophet is a volunteer in his Master's service, ready to en. counter the greatest difficulties in the work ; he knew, that if he had God's cominillion, he should have his countenance and assistance; he sends none a warfare upon their own charges. The Lord takes the prophet at his word, and gives him his commission, ver. 9. to the close. Where he gives him to une derstand three things. (1.) That the generality of the people to whom he was fent, would turn a deaf ear to his message, which would be followed with a judicial stroke of blindness, deadness, and stupidity, ver. 9. 10. (2.) That the consequence of this would be their utter ruin, ver. 11. 12. (3.) Thať a remnant should be spared as a monument of divine mercy, ver. 13, 6 But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and thall be eaten ; as a teil-tree, and as an oak whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves:" so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.
Where, in general, you may see, that in the worst of times, in the times of the greatest defection and backsliding, God has a little remnant that keep their garments clean, and that in the midst of the most sweeping and defolating calamities he will
take special notice of for good. More particularly, we have four or five things asserted in this verse, with respect to the Lord's remnant.
1. That the remnant will be but small, “ In it shall be a tenth ;" a certain number put for an uncertain: a very small number, in comparison of the multitude that shall perish in their unbelief, and be n-in in the common calamity. The tenth or tithe was God's proportion under the law, confecrated for his use.
Observe, That, among the multitude of mankind that fall to the devil's share, God's remnant are but a small number; his flock is but a little sock, like the gleanings after the vintage. But yet them he will not want, though he should invade helt to recover them: If. liii. 1 2. “I will divide him a portion with the grear, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong.” And this portion, this remnant, shall be consecrate to his service and honour, as the tenth was under the law.
2. It is afferted of this remnant, that they fall return; that is, they shall return from their fins and backslidings, and the common defections and backslidings of the church of Israel; and they excite one another, saying, “ Come and let us re. turn unto the Lord : for he hath broken, and he will bind us up,” Hof. vi. 1. And they shall return also from their captivity in Babylon to their native land; and when God turns back their captivity, it will be refreshing like fouth-running streams of water.
3. It is aflerted of this remnant, that it shall be eaten ; that is, (say some), this remnant, after they return, thall be eaten, consumed, or devoured a second time by the kings of Affyria.
Observe, That God's remnint when they are delivered out of one trouble, they muit lay their account with another; when they have run with the footmen, they must contend with horses.
Or, as fome, particularly Henry on the place, understands it, mall be eaten, that is, thall be accepted of God as the tithe was, which was meat in God's house. The saving of this remnant Thall be meat to the faith and hope of them that with well to God's kingdom and interest.
4. It is said of this remnant, that it shall be "as a teil, and as an oak whose substance is in them, even when they.cast their leaves." As if he had said, Though they may be stripped. of their outward prosperity, and are of the common calamity; yet they shall recover like a tree in the spring, and sprout and flourish agajn : although they fall, they thail not be utterly
čast down ; for “there is hope of a tree, though it be cut down, that it will sprout again,” Job xiv. 7.
5. That this distinguished remnant shall be the stay and supa port of the public interest : The holy feed Mall be the substance thereof. Where we may notice two things.
ill, A description of God's little remnant; they are the holy feed.
2dly, The bulk they bear in the land, or in God's view, however little account may be made of them by the men of the world ; though they be the dross and off-scouring of the earth, in the view of men ; yet, before the Lord, they are the substance thereof.
For the first of these, the designation given unto God's remnant, the holy feed. Some by the holy feed understand Chrift; who is sometimes called the seed of the woman, the feed of Abraham, sometimes the seed of David according to the flelli and he, before his coming in the filelh, was the substance or strength of the Jewish nations that nation was preserved from utter ruin till the Messiah should come of it; hence is that of the prophet, II. Ixv. 8.“ Destroy it not, for a blessing is in it;" and when once that blessing was come, in whom men were to be blessed, the nation and church of the Jews was soon de. Itroyed and cut off. Others, by the holy feed, understand the godly remnant that were among that people. These are free quently in scripture spoken of under the notion of feed : Pfal. xxii. 30.“ A seed shall serve him, it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation." And Is. liii.. 10. He shall see his seed.” And then they are called a holy seed; because they are renewed after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness ; feparate from the rest of the profane world, who were carried down the stream both of personal and public provocarion.
2dly, Notice the bulk and room this holy feed bears in God's view, however much they may be despised in the eyes of the world ; they are the substance thereof, that is, of the church and nation. Some think, that in this last clause the former metaphor of a tree is still continued. The body of the Jewish na. tion is compared to a tree, conimon professors unto the leaves of a tree, which in the autumn and winter ate blown away in a storm, and driven hicher and thither with the wind; but the holy feed, or God's remnant of believers, or sanctified souls, are like the trunk or stem of the tree, which remains firm against the winter. wind of temptation, error; defection; or perfecù., tion ; and having the life and fap of the reality of the grace of God in them, sprouts and flourishes again in the spring, when the winter is over and past. Some read the words, Vou. II, Aa
The holy feed pill be the stay, strength, or support thereof; being an allusion, as they think, unto the elms and oaks which grew on either side of the causeway, or raised way, that led from the king's palace unto the temple, 1 Kings x. 5. which served to support the terrace, or railed way, that the earth might not i Crumble away from it : so the truly godly in the nation are the stay and support of it; the pillars of the land, that keep things together, that the whole nation and church do not go to utter ruin.
Observe, " That God's remnant, or his holy feed, in a church
or nation, are just the strength and substance thereof." The höly feed ball be the substance thereof.
The doctrine being the same with the words, I shall not stay upon the proof or confirmation thereof : scriptures to this purpose will occur in the prosecution, which Ishall, through the Lord's affistance, attempt in the following order and me thod.
1. Give some account of God's remnant, as contradiftinguished from the rest of the world. II. Why called a feert.
. cu afeen.
. . .,' III. Why called a holy feed.
IV. What may be imported in their being called the fube stance of a land or church. ..V. In what respect they are so. And,
1. The first thing is, to give fome account of this remnant, who are here called a holy feed, in contradistinction from the rest of mankind.''
s. then, They are a people of a distinct pedigree from the Telt of mankind. It is true, indeed, as to their natural birth, they are come of the same common stock of the first Adam, and therefore “ children of wrath, even as others;" but as to their spiritual or fupernatural birth, they are “ born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” John i. 13:; hence it is that they are ready to say unto God, If. Ixiji. 10.. Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, ånd Israel acknowledge us not; thou, O Lord, art our father." . 2. This remnant, this holy seed, they are a people under a distinct government from the rest of mankind. All mankind by nature are under the government of the devil, the god of this world; and their lusts are the laws by which they walk,
Eph. ii. 2. 3. But God's remnant, through the power of grace, have broken their covenant with hell, and agreement with death, and cast themselves under the government of a God in Chrift, saying, “ O Lord, other lords besides thee have had dominion over us : but by thee only will we make mention of thy name. The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, the Lord is our king, and he will save us.”
3. They are a people that stand upon a quite different foundation than the rest of the world do. Others are building upon the sand of general mercy, of an empty profession, com. mon providences, common graces, the works of 'the law, or some such sandy foundation, they are building their hope of acceptance and salvation there ; but God's remnant have quit all these foundations of land, and taken their 'only ftanding upon the clear and cleanly foundation that God hath laid in Zion, viz. an incarnate God, duing and dying, and in. terčeding in the room of guilty sinners : here, I say, they set down their stand for eternity, saying, “This is my reft;" and indeed " another foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
4. They are a people of a different spirit from the rest of mankind : 1 Cor. ii. 12. “ We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God." It is said of Caleb and Joshua, that they were of another spirit than the rest of the common Israelites. God's holy feed have received the Spirit of their everlasting Father, according to his promise, “ I will put my Spirit within them, and cause them to walk in my statutes."
s. They travel a different road from the rest of the world. The men of the world travel in the broad way that leadech to destruction, the road of open profanity, the road of mere morality, or the road of legality at beit, which all lead down to the chambers of death ; but God's remnant walk in the strait and narrow way that leadeth unto life, the cleanly way of obedience, of faith : Is. xxxv. 8. “ An highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness ; the unclean shall not pass over it, but it thall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not eșr therein.” And hence it comes,
6. Lastly, That they make a quite different end, and have a different landing at death from the rest of mankind : Psal. xxxvii. 37. 38: " mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace. But the transa grefllors shall be destroyed together, the end of the wicked thall be cut off.”