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“ Satan has blinded your eyes," and hardened your hearts, and is “ leading you captive at his will.” And how long, think you, will you retain your present opinions? If God Almighty ever have mercy on your soul, your eyes will be opened to see your folly and impiety: but, if this mercy never be vouchsafed to you, not a minute will intervene between your departure hence and a total change of your views. You will then be perfectly likeminded with those whom you now despise: but who can express the regret which you will then feel at the review of your conduct? But then your regrets will be in vain : your day of grace will have for ever passed away ; and you
will for ever reap
the bitter fruits of
wickedness :-) 2. Those who are afraid of confessing Christ by reason of the contempt which they shall thereby encounter
[It was not thus that your Saviour dealt with you. He knew to what shame and ignominy he should be exposed for you; and yet, " for the joy of saving your souls, he endured the cross and despised the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” The same blessed issue is reserved for you also, if you approve yourselves faithful unto him: “If you deny him, he will deny you:" but, if you submit willingly to “ suffer with him, you shall also be glorified together.” Regard not, then, the scoffs of an ungodly world; but "
rejoice rather that you are counted worthy to endure them." But, after all, what is it that you are afraid of? an unkind look ? an opprobrious name? or the finger of scorn? Truly you have but little pretence to wisdom, if by such things as these you can be deterred from confessing Him who lived and died for you.]
3. Those who by reason of indiscretion “ give occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully”
[It is greatly to be lamented that all who profess godliness do not act so wisely as they ought. There are many who, by the extravagance of their notions, or the absurdity of their deportment, cause religion itself to be reproached, and “the way of truth to be evil spoken of." But I must declare to all such professors, that they incur a fearful responsibility before God; and that for every one who falls over the stumbling-blocks which are thus laid in his way, they must give account in the day of judgment. See to it then, Brethren, that ye “walk in wisdom towards those that are without;" and that instead of giving occasion of offence by any unwise conduct on your part, ve put to silence the ignorance of foolish men by your welldoing.” Never forget that wisdom is identified with religion. It admits of nothing that is foolish or extravagant in any respect. Prudence, sobriety, soundness of judgment, and true discretion, are inseparable from it: and if we would adorn our profession, or be accepted of our God, we must " walk wisely before him in a perfect way d."]
c Rom. viii. 17. and 2 Tim. ii. 12.
d Ps. ci. 2.
GREATNESS AND CONDESCENSION OF GOD. Ps. cxiii. 548. Who is like unto the Lord our God, who dwell
eth on high, who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth! He raiseth up the
poor the dust, and listeth the needy out of the dunghill; that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people.
VERILY, God is to be praised : “from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, his name" should be glorious : “ He is above all blessing and praise.” Whether we consider what he is in himself, or what he is to us, we cannot but exclaim,
“ Who is like unto the Lord ?" If men be not filled with admiring and adoring thoughts of him, it is because they know him not, neither contemplate him: but we can scarcely fail of being in some measure suitably impressed with his excellency, if we consider those perfections of his which are set before us in our text: I. His greatness
(But how shall we convey any idea of this? If we speak of created things, however great, we can give some kind of statement, which, though very inadequate, will convey a slight notion at least of the subject. However great the disparity between a monarch and a worm, or between the globe and a grain of sand, there is something whereon we may ground a comparison between them, and something to which we may affix tolerably definite ideas. But between the Creator and the creature there is no point of contact. If we attempt to declare his immensity, and say, that in all the boundless regions of space God is every where, and as entirely present in every different spot as if he were no where in the universe besides, what are we the nearer to any just apprehension of him? Our intellect is not capable of conceiving of him aright. Were a peasant told respecting the motions and distances and mutual dependence of the heavenly bodies, how much of it would he understand? It would be far
above his comprehension : he could not embrace any part of the system. So, if we presume to speak of the greatness and incomprehensibility of Jehovah, we only “ darken counsel by words without knowledge:” “it is a knowledge too wonderful for us; we cannot attain unto it.” The sentiments of Zophar on this subject are well worthy of our attention: “ Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the seaa.” And Elihu, another of Job's friends, exactly to the same purpose says, “ Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him outh." Sometimes indeed God is pleased to give us some little glimpse of his majesty; light enough, if we may só speak, to make our darkness visible. Thus by the Prophet Isaiah he asks, " Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance ? Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance; he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. All nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity.” He then adds, “ To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto him?" The Psalmist also, with exquisite beauty, thus sets forth the glory of his majesty: "O Lord my God, thou art very great: thou art clothed with honour and majesty: who coverest thyself with light as with a garment; who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain; who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters; who maketh the clouds his chariot; who walketh upon the wings of the wind; who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fired." But, after all, what idea does this description give us of Him, who “ filleth all things," " whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain ?" We are altogether at a loss on so mysterious a subject; which therefore we close with that declaration of the Psalmist, " His greatness is unsearchable."]
But though we can add nothing to what is said in the words before our text, “ The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens,” yet we see in this what will serve to illustrate the depth of, II. His condescension
[“ He humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven:” yes, if he deign to cast an eye upon the highest angels and archangels, it is an act of infinite condescension: for, intelligent as they are in comparison of us," he charget them with folly;” and pure as heaven itself is in comparison of earth, it is not clean in his sightf.” But he will stoop even to look down on earth, yea and on the meanest and vilest of its inhabitants, provided they do but humble themselves before him. The poor and needy, even in their lowest state, ever have been, and ever shall be, objects of his peculiar regard. Men may be low in station, in character, and in spirit; but he will notice them notwithstanding. The description given us of Lazarus, represents a condition more deplorable than usually falls to the lot of man yet was he set forth as an object of the tenderest compassion to Almighty God. The dying thief may well be adduced as amongst the most degraded of the human race
a Job xi. 7-9. b Job xxxvii. 23. c Isai. xl. 12, 15, 17, 18. d Ps. civ. 1-4.
e Ps. cxlv. 3.
yet did the Saviour honour him with an express and audible assurance, that he should that very day be with him in Paradise.“ To the man that is poor and of a contrite spirit” God has promised in a more especial manner to “ look, in order to revive and comfort his drooping spirit.” Only let a person lie in the dust before God, and sit, like Job, upon the dunghill, from a consciousness of his own extreme unworthiness, and God will fly instantly to his relief: “ he will raise the poor out of the dust, and lift up the needy out of the dunghill :" nor is there any dignity, however high, to which he will not exalt him: “ he will set him among the princes, even with the princes of his people:” yes, he will cause him to “sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven," and to reign with them in glory for ever and ever.
Perhaps the primary import of our text may be found in the elevation of such men as Saul and David from the lowest offices to the throne of Israel: but in the psalm, as well as in the Song of Hannah, from whence it is taken, we must undoubtedly look for a higher meaning, even the elevation of an immortal soul from the lowest state of sin and misery to all the glory and felicity of heaven. Would we have a just conception of the change which by the tender mercy of our God shall be wrought on the poor and contrite, we may behold our blessed Lord raised from the grave, to which with unparalleled ignominy he had been committed, and exalted to the right hand of God, above all the principalities and powers both of earth and heaven. Thus will the poor and contrite soul be raised from guilt to peace, from sin to holiness, from the very gates of hell even to the throne of God.) Does our God so condescend to you? then let me
CALL ON YOU, 1. To adore him
i Job iv. 18. and xv. 15.
& 1 Sam. ii. 8.
[Frequently does this expression occur in the Holy Scriptures, “ O Lord, who is like unto thee?". And continually should the thought be in our minds. It is impossible to know any thing of the condescension and grace of God, and not be lost in wonder and in praise. We say not that livelier emotions of joy are wrong; but they are always to be suspected, if they be not blended with a considerable measure of self-lothing and self-abhorrence. Profound adoration seems to be the proper posture of a redeemed soul. O ye poor, whose station is so low that the greater part of your fellow-creatures would scarcely deign to notice you, think what love God has shewn towards you, if he has made you rich in faith and heirs of his kingdom)
whose character has been so degraded as to have almost resembled that of the Corinthians, think what reason you have to adore your God, if it can be said of you, as of them, “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our Godi." Above all, ye drooping and desponding souls, who once were ready to say, “ There is no hope," what thanks can ye give for those rich assurances and consolations which now form a very foretaste of heaven in your souls? And in all these changes, consider chiefly the means which have been used to effect them. It is not by a mere act of mercy that God has wrought these things for you, but by taking on himself your miseries, that ye may be partakers of his glory. To view the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ aright, you must bear in mind, that “ though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be richk.” Yes: “ He was made sin for that you might be made the righteousness of God in him?." O bless him, praise him, magnify him, and adore him, and let all that is within you bless his holy name.] 2. To trust in him
[The greatest discouragements of the saints arise from a view of their own unworthiness. But God, if I may so speak, loves to see you in the dust and on the dunghill
. The lower you are abased before him, the more he delights to exalt you. He even derives to himself a glory from the very depths to which he condescends for you. Add not then to all
other sins, that most hateful one of limiting his mercy. If your “sins have ever so much abounded, his grace will much more abound," if only ye seek it in Christ Jesus, your Mediator and Redeemer. If you attempt to measure God's love and mercy by any created standard, you must of necessity dishonour him exceedingly: for there is nothing finite that will admit of a comparison with him who is infinite. As for his mercy, he most of all is grieved to h Jam. ii. 5.
i i Cor. vi. 9—11. k 2 Cor. viii. 9.
1 2 Cor. v. 21.