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withstand these, there is no hope that any others could be urged with effect.] ADDRESS1. Those who still hold out against God
[We call heaven and earth to witness against you, that you are most unreasonable creatures. The ox and the ass are indeed more rational than you are in relation to your souls. They seek their true interests, and acknowledge their benefactor: would to God that you might be brought to do the same!] 2. Those who are convinced by his reasonings
[Beware how you listen to the dictates of flesh and blood. You know how you have been deceived; be on your guard against fresh deceits. Regard not the laughter of a blind infatuated world. They may call you mad; but they, and they only, are “come to themselves," who have been brought to say, “I will return and
to my Father."]
GOD PURIFYING HIS PEOPLE.
Isai. i. 25. I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge
away thy dross, and take away all thy tin. IN the Holy Scriptures, judgment is often denounced, and mercy promised, with such peculiar force and emphasis, as might lead one to imagine that it was almost a matter of indifference to Jehovah which of the two were called into exercise towards his offending creatures. But we know that “ judgment is his strange act," to which he is utterly aversea; and that “mercy is the attribute in which he supremely delights.” In the passage before us, however, he speaks as if he contemplated vengeance with a degree of pleasure and satisfaction: “ Thus saith the Lord, the Lord of Hosts, the Mighty One of Israel; Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies.” On the other hand, in the words which I have just read, he expresses no less satisfaction in the thought of conferring benefits on his chosen remnant, whom he has determined to restore and save.
a Isai. xxvij. 21.
b Mic. vii. 18.
From them I shall be led to consider, I. The work which God will accomplish in all his
chosen peopleThe whole passage primarily refers to the Jews; whom God will, at no distant period, restore to their own land, and elevate in the rank of nations; making them no less conspicuous for piety than in the most favoured seasons of their former prosperity. In the promise made to them, we see what God will do for all his chosen people; cleansing them from their sins, and thereby fitting them, 1. For his service on earth
(God's people must be "a holy people,” dedicated unreservedly to him. He will not accept “a divided heart d.” He will not behold with satisfaction any one that retains a bosom sin, though it be dear as a right eye, or useful as a right hande. However loud such persons' professions of attachment may be, he will say to them, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say??” The very "prayers of such persons are an abomination to him." The hypocrite is, beyond all other persons, an object of his abhorrenceh: "He requireth truth in the inward partsi:” and, to please him, "we must be Israelites indeed, in whom there is no guilek."] 2. For his presence in a better world
[“ God is of purer eyes than to behold evil, or to look upon iniquityl:" much less could he admit into his presence in glory any soul that was not purged from its sinsm: nor, in truth, could a soul that was polluted with sin be happy in heaven, even if he were admitted there. The holiness of God would utterly confound him: nor could he have any communion with the saints and angels that are around the throne. His want of resemblance to them would make his deformity hateful, even in his own eyes; whilst their employment would be so distasteful to him, that he could not join in it for a single hour. Indeed the inhabitants of heaven could not endure the presence of such a hateful being; but would all unite in
thrusting him out".” As it is said of King Uzziah: When he was struck with leprosy in the Temple, the priests rose up to thrust him out; "yea, himself also hasted to go outo:” so I doubt not but that an unholy soul would of itself hasten out of God says,
c ver. 26, 27.
d Hos. x. 2. e Mark ix. 43–48.
heaven, because of the shame and misery it would feel in a place so unsuited to its dispositions and desires.
Hence, then, God engages for his elect, that he will “turn his hand upon them, purely to purge away their dross, and to take away all their tin;" so that they may be “ meet for the inheritance of heaven?," and“ vessels of honour, meet for their Master's
's use 9."] Nor are we at any loss to declare, II. The means by which it shall be effected
“ he will turn his hand upon them, to purge them from their dross :” and this he will do, 1. By the visitations of his Providence
[Gold is put into a furnace, to purge it from its dross : and, in like manner, God has told us that he will subject his people to afflictions, “ in order to purify them, that they may offer to him an offering in righteousness"." In this way shall God's ancient people be cleansed from their corruptions, and be made holy,“ when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burnings.” So also shall his people, in every age, be purified. In truth, the experience of multitudes resembles that of David, when he says, "Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now have I kept thy wordt.” It is by means of affliction that God brings us to consider our ways: by means of it, also, he humbles us before him, and prepares us for the manifestations of his love and mercy to our souls. Hence it is that he promises correction to those who are the objects of his love", and teaches us to regard our trials as tokens of his paternal care and tenderness". He will, indeed, accommodate his dispensations to our necessities; “ sitting by us as a refiner and purifier of silver," and watching the process for our good. He has told us, that he will “ debate with us in measure, staying his rough wind in the day of his east wind: and that by this shall the iniquity of his people be purged; and this shall be the fruit to take away their sin."] 2. By the communications of his grace
[Affliction, of itself, would only harden; as in the case of Pharaoh; and of those also who gnash their teeth, and blaspheme their God, in hella. But when divine grace is given to accompany and to sanctify the dispensation, then its end is answered, and the afflicted sinner returns in penitential p Col. i. 12.
q 2 Tim. ii. 21. r Mal, üi. 3-5. 8 Isai. iv. 3, 4. t Ps. cxix. 67. u Ps.lxxxix. 30–34. * Heb. xii. 5-11. y Isai. xxvii. 8, 9. z Rev. xvi. 9-11.
sorrow to his God. It was thus that Manasseh's most enormous wickedness was purged:
“ God took him among the thorns; and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon: and when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed unto him: and so God was entreated of him, and heard his supplication". In fact, “ without the grace of Christ we can do nothing b:" it is " by his Spirit alone that we can mortify the deeds of the body," or " bring forth any fruits of righteousness to his praise and glory d.” But to all his chosen people God will “give more grace," even grace sufficient for them "," whatever their necessities may be ; and will thus “ fulfil in them all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power."] Let me now ADDRESS myself,
1. To those who are trembling through fear of God's displeasure
[Amongst those whose destruction God contemplated as a source of ease to his own mind, there was yet a remnant, towards whom he was “ filled with thoughts of love.” And why may not you be amongst that happy number? Certainly, if you have begun to “tremble at the word of God, that very circumstance is a proof that “the Spirit of God is striving with you," and that you are not given over to a reprobate mind. Peradventure God has already said, “I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:" and who can tell but that this may be the very hour fixed, in his divine counsels, for the accomplishment of this blessed end? Lift up your heart to him; and beg him now to work effectually upon you, that, being created of him anew, and transformed into his image, you may serve him worthily on earth, and participate in his glory in a better world.]
2. To those who are desiring to experience the full work of God's grace upon their souls
[Limit not God to any particular mode of acting; but be as clay in the potter's hands; and let him deal with you as, in his unerring wisdom, he shall see fit. If he be pleased to put you into a furnace, complain not of it; but say, This he has done to purge me from my dross.' You cannot but know that there is an abundance of dross within you. You cannot but be conscious that every thing which you do is very imperfect; your very prayers and your praises being little better, for the most part, than a cold and formal service. Will you not, then, have reason to bless his name, if, by any means, he purge you from your corruptions, and assimilate you to his divine image ? This, then, I say to you: If God send you any affliction, whether personal or domestic,“ hear the rod, and Him that hath appointed ith.” Entreat of God to shew you what sin it is that he would correct, or what grace it is that he would confirm and perfect within you. In a word, desire not deliverance from affliction, but a sanctified improvement of it to your soul. Thus shall all the purposes of his grace be accomplished; and when the end shall come, it shall be no grief to you, that “ through much tribulation you entered into the kingdom of your God.”]
a 2 Chron. xxxiii. 11–13.
b John xv. 5.
c Rom. viii. 13.
h Mic. vi. 9.
EXHORTATION TO A HOLY WALK. Isai. ii. 5. O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the
light of the Lord. MANY prophecies there are which are not yet accomplished, especially among those which are to be fulfilled “ in the last days.” The last days were understood even by the Jews themselves as relating to the days of the Messiah ; and they comprehend all the time from his first advent in the flesh to the period when his kingdom shall be fully established upon earth. Hence the prophecies relating to that period must have different degrees of accomplishment; being partly fulfilled in the first triumphs of the Gospel, but having a further and more entire accomplishment when all the kingdoms of the world shall become the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Thus it is that we are to understand the prophecy contained in the preceding context. . “ The mountain of the Lord's House,” that is, the Gospel Church, was established on the top of the mountains in the apostolic age, when it triumphed over heathen idolatry and Jewish superstition; and myriads of converts encouraged one another to serve and glorify their God: but we have not yet seen the time when“ swords have been beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning-hooks, and nations have ceased to learn and practise the art of war.” That time however will come: and we should long,