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God's Difpenfations towards a froward Generation described.
Preached at ETTRICK, March 13. 1728, on a Faftday appointed by the Presbytery of Selkirk.
DEUTERONOMY Xxxii. 20.
And he faid, I will hide my face from them, I will fee what their end fhall be: for they are a very fraward generation, children in whom is no faith.
HIS fong, after the introduction, ver. 1.-6. fets forth God's fpecial favours to Ifrael in ancient and later times, ver. 7.-14. Ifrael's ingratitude to and apoftafy from God, ver. 15.-18. He inftances particularly in their fenfuality and idolatry. Then foliows God's just refentment of their apoftafy. Inftead of delighting in them, he difdains them; inftead of his former favours to them, he will turn away from them and leave them.
In the words we have two things..
1. A refolution taken in heaven against them, And he faid, I will hide my face from them; and what God fays muft ftand, he will not unfay it again. And two things he is refolved on against them.
(1.) That he will hide his face from them, Heb. raufe to hide, pointing at a vail he would draw between him and them, which they should not be able to remove. His hiding his face from them, is the Withdrawing of the tokens of his favour, and his re
fufing them his countenance, as one wroth with them.
(2.) That he would see and observe what their end or latter part would be. The former part of their time had been a time of much kindnefs fhewn to them from God, and base ingratitude to God in them. Now he refolves to withdraw his favours, let them alone, and see what they will make of the latter part, and proceed with them accordingly.
2. The reasons juftifying this refolution.
(1.) They were a froward generation, very froward, a generation of perverfeneffes; whatever way God would draw them, they would ftill turn the contrary, and would not be managed.
(2.) They were a faithlefs generation; though children, and fons, by an external federal adoption, there was no truftiness in them; they would fay and unfay, no ties would bind them; they were false and fickle, and still played faft and loose The first reafon feems fpecially to relate to the first part of the refolution; and the second to the fecond part of it.
We may take up the fubftance of thefe words in four points of doctrine.
DocT. I. It may be the just character of a generation of the church, that they are a very froward ge
DOCT. II. A holy God will hide his face from a froward generation.
DOCT. III. God, hiding his face from a froward generation, waits to fee what ifue they will bring it to, that he may take courfe with them accordingly.
DocT. IV. What provokes God to deal thus with a generation, is their being children in whom is no faith, men profeffing the true religion, and yet so false as that they are not to be trusted
I fhall endeavour to explain and apply each of these doctrines in order.
DocT. I. It may be the just character of a generation of the church, that they are a very froward generation. This is the juft character,
1. Of a generation deaf to the calls of the word, not to be wrought upon by the offers of the gospel, nor the terrors of the law, Matth. xi. 17. God calls finners to turn from their fin, holding out the arms of his mercy to embrace them; ftretching out the flaming fword of his juftice to fright them; the one in the gofpel-promises, the other in the law-threatenings. But they go on frowardly.
2. An incorrigible generation, whom the kindness of God in his providence to them will not draw to repentance, and who go on wilfully in their finful courfes over the belly of correction, and the rebukes of providence they meet with, Rom. ii. 4. Despiseft thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-fuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? Jer. v. 3. Thou haft Aricken them, but they have not grieved; thou haft confumed them, but they have refufed to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock, they have refused to return. In the one, finners defpife his favour; in the other, they defy his feud. Let him fay and do what he will to them, they will have their fwing, coft what it will, Jer. ii. 25. I have loved ftrangers, and after them will I go.
3. A generation impatient of check and control, Hof. iv. 4. Let no man strive, nor reprove another : for thy people are as they that firive with the priest. They fcorn to be hedged in within the bounds fet them by the law of God: the more they are striven against, the more do their lufts rage, the more are their corruptions irritated. o offer to dam them up, is to provoke them in effect to go from evil to worfe: their wickednefs comes down like an overflowing flood.
4. A generation turning its edge against truth and holinefs; being fet not only to take their will in their
own courses, but to run down religion, and what has the stamp of divine approbation on it, Luke xi. 52. Wo unto you, lawyers: for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in, ye hindered. Not only they will not be managed themfelves by the divine counfel, but they wage war against truth and seriousness, that they may get them driven out from the genera
USE. And is not this the juft character of the prefent generation? How fruitlefs is the preaching of the gofpel among us? how little valued are the terrors of the law? The kind cafts of providence in fignal deliverances, the awful rebukes of providence which the land and particular perfons have fmarted under, are both neglected. The generation in church and ftate, in congregations and families, are past striving with in hopes of any amendment, Hof. iv. 4. forecited. Secret fighing and mourning over the cafe before the Lord, is the great thing that is left for Zion's mourners, Jer. xiii. 17. But if ye will not hear it, my foul fhall weep in fecret places for your pride, and mine eyes fhall weep fore, and run down with tears. And truth and holinefs is run down with error and profaneness. The precious truths of the gofpel are reproached and despised; and while there is an inundation of immorality in practice, there is a bringing in a Chriftless morality in doctrine, inftead of the glorious gospel of the grace of God. What is to be expected of these things? Why,
DocT. II. A holy God will hide his face from a froward generation. This fpeaks two things.
1. God's difpleasure with fuch a generation, If. lvii. 17. 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. However they may be pleased with themselves and their own condition, God is highly displeased with them ;
and they will find it to their coft at long-run. A fro ward generation is a generation of God's wrath. Men may put fair colours on their apostasy, to bring them. felves and others into a liking of their courfes; but God will not be mocked.
2. God's difdain and loathing of fuch a generation, Deut. xxxii. 9. 20. And when the Lord faw it, he abhorred them, becaufe of the provoking of his fons, and of his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will fee what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. Sinners pride themselves in their abomi nations, as if they would cope with heaven; but God difdains them as contemptible wretches, whom he can in a moment crufh in pieces. They please themfelves wallowing in the mire of their course of apoftafy; but God loaths them as abominable in his eyes. And it imports two things.
1. His withdrawing the former tokens of his fa vour from them; the light of his countenance that fometimes fhined, goes down on them; and the heavens lour on them, however earth may fmile, Jer. xv. 9. She that hath born seven, languisheth: she hath given up the ghoft, her fun is gone down while it was yet day. Heaven's favour and fmiles put a crown on the head of a generation; but a froward generation, ungrateful for them, provokes God to put a stop to the course of them.
2. His turning his back on them, departing, and forfaking them. A froward generation firft turns their back on God, neglecting to walk in his ways, Jer. ii. 27. They have turned their back unto me, and not their face; and then God pays them home in their own coin, turning his back on them, Jer. xviii. 17. I will fhew them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity. So that they have not the access to him which they fometimes had; nor does he appear for them, as fometimes he did.
USE. Is not this the very cafe we are in at this