« IndietroContinua »
USE II. Of reproof to two forts of perfons.
1. To those who go with the ftream of the evil days, and are themselves following the profane and backfliding courses of the day, that make the time so evil. Alas! how many are there, who are drawing on wrath on themselves and on the land by their irreligion, profaneness, and apoftafy from God? Let fuch confider,
(1.) How dangerous it is to be found among those who are in a confpiracy against God, to provoke his wrath against a land. When the flood of dishonour to God runs fo high, those that join themselves in the finful 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 fhip, having a notable hand in bringing wrath on others too.
(2.) The higher one's hand is in a finning time, the deeper may their fhare 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 confider not how matters ftand betwixt God and the generation. This is a common evil amongst us, and a fad evidence of the low state of religion at this day. O that fuch would be stirred up to confider their ways, and the grounds of the Lord's controverfy with the generation. Awake, O fleeper, and call upon thy God, left thou perish in the furious ftorm, which is likely to break out upon us. It is not a time to live at cafe and unconcerned, when fo many marks of the Lord's displeasure are so visible, that he who runs may read. Awake therefore, fhake off thy floth, and betake thyself to the Lord Jefus by faith, as the only means of thy escaping the wrath that is to come.
Paffing under the Rod, a Means of a People's being brought into the Bond of the Covenant.
Preached on a Faft-day, at ETTRICK, Thursday, December г. 1720.
EZEKIEL Xx. 37.
And I will caufe you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant..
'N thefe words we have a scheme of God's difpenfation towards Ifrael, a people with whom he was angry, but had kindness for. In which we may obferve,
1. A fharp trial threatened; I will caufe you to pafs under the rod. This rod is not to be understood of the king's rod or fceptre, but the shepherd's rod. God was the Shepherd of Ifrael, but they had strayed away from him. In the verfe 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 eaufing 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 feventy 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
does in telling of fheep for teinding them; that he would make fuch a diftinction and feparation among them, as was made by the fhepherd's rod, when the flock was teinded: in a word, that he would teind them, and the ftock fhould go for it one way or other, 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 iffue 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 facred bond. And fo it was prophefied they would do, Jer. 1. 5. Come, fay they, and let us join ourselves to the Lord, in a perpetual covenant that fall not be forgotten. Compare Neh. ix. ult. And because of all this, we make a fure covenant, and write it. See chap. x. 28.-39. And they adhered fo firmly to this covenant, that they never after fell to idolatry.
The doctrine I obferve from the words is,
DocT. Juftice 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 fo 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 ftate has loofed the bond, fo that it is hanging down among our feet at
this day. There are three ways of God's dealing with fuch a generation.
1. The way of unmixed justice, laying the heavy curfe of the covenant upon them, and either utterly deftroying them that they shall be no people, or unchurching them that they fhall 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 defroy 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 accomplished.
2. The way of unmixed mercy or fovereign grace, making wide fteps over the iniquities of men, leaping over mountains, and melting them with love into repentance and reformation. Of this we have a remarkable inftance, If. lvii. 17. 18. For the iniquity of his covetousness 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 feen his ways, and will beal him: I will lead him alfo, and restore comforts unto him, and to his mourners. Sometimes the Lord
takes that way, as Micah v. 7. The remnant of 'Jacob fball 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 fons of men. But this is more to be defired than hoped.
3. The way of juftice mixed with mercy. This is the common road of providence, in which juftice and mercy each act their part, and is the way in our text, and which we have ground to look for.
In difcourfing further from this fubject, I fhall, I. Shew, that this is the common method of providence in fuch a cafe.
II. What are thofe rods the Lord caufeth fuch a generation to pass under.
III. How by fuch 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 fuch a cafe. This appears,
1. From plain fcripture-declarations of the mind of God in fuch a cafe, as Hag. ii. 7. I will shake all nations, and the defire of all nations fball come. Shaking times go before reforming times. A hot furnace precedes the purifying of a droffy church, as If. i. 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 righteoufnefs, the faithful city. See chap. iv. And we have a paffage most pat to our purpose, Zech. xiii. 8. 9. It shall come to pafs, that in all the land, faith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off, and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as filver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will fay, It is my people; and they hall fay, The Lord is my God. This is a fweeping ftroke carrying off the most part, a hard trial to those that are left, and the covenant renewed with them.
2. From fcripture-inftances. What heavy bondage did the Ifraelites fuffer in Egypt, before God took them into the Sinai covenant? They met with a fweeping stroke in the wildernefs, before they en tered 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 fwept away by the peftilence. They had feventy years captivity before the building