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lation of God's wrath, against the ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men, and the language is, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
It is revealed also in the wrath, which at any time has fallen on ourselves. When that prevails not to turn men from their ungodly, and unrighteous courses, it says, "Therefore will I do unto thee, O Israel; and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel." Who are they in whose experience some threatenings of the word have not been accomplished, which may have made them say, "As I have done, so God hath requited me. Verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth." If therefore we repent not, these are pledges of the full shower of wrath.
Lastly, in men's own consciences; "Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." Ungodliness and unrighteousness, in those who have the truth, leaves a sting in their consciences behind it. Conscience is a domestic preacher to them, who lays before them the commands and threatenings where with they are fenced, and so binds them over to answer it before the tribunal of God. And as long as there is a conscience within men's breast, that witnesseth for God, that he is angry with men's ungodliness, and unrighteousness, they must needs acknowledge his wrath to be revealed against them.
Use. 1. Of information. Then,
1. God is well pleased with those who obeying the truth, live godly and righteous lives. "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God." God's word and their own conscience favour them, and the providence of God too, causing all things work together for their good. When they look without them into the word they find God's approbation of their way when they look within them to their own conscience, they have its testimony in their favour; or about them in providence, they will see all for their real welfare. "Moreover by them, God's statutes, is thy servant warned, and in keeping of them there is great reward."
2. The pleasure of ungodliness and gain of unrighteousness, are dear bought. It may be sweet in the mouth, but it will be bitter in the belly. "Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts, that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity." Did men consider the black cloud that hovers over their ways of ungodliness, and unrighteousness continually, they would be afraid to venture on them. For whatever case is
found in them for the present, it exposes the soul to everlasting disquiet, and where a penny is gained, a talent is lost. "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul."
Lastly, They are left without excuse who living under the gospel, obey it not, but lead still ungodly, and unrighteous lives. They cannot say they are not warned, they understand not the danger of that course for it is revealed to them plainly, that God's wrath will overtake them in such courses. And if men will not let themselves believe it, then who can help it? If men will delude themselves, and sooth up themselves in their ungodly, and unrighteous courses fearful will be the taking off the vail and undeceiving them, Deut. xxix. 19, 20.
Use 2. Of exhortation.
As ever you would escape the wrath of God in time and eternity renounce all ungodliness and unrighteousness; and since you have the gospel, the truth, let it have its effect on you. For the wrath of God is revealed against all who hold the truth in unrighteousness.
Motive 1. Consider, much less than the wrath of God falling in full measure on impenitent sinners, is very terrible, how much more that wrath. The wrath of a king is terrible. The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it. When the wrath of Ahasuerus was kindled against Haman, his ruin was secured. Kings have power in their hand to reward or punish; so their wrath is terrible to their fellow-creatures. But what is the wrath of a king to that of the King of kings? The very threatening of God's wrath is most awful. "When I heard this, says Habakkuk, my belly trembled: my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself." The sight of the hand writing on the wall made Belshazzar tremble. God speaking in wrath to a sinner, is enough to damp the stoutest sinner. How much more the fulfilling of it. Even God's fatherly anger against his own children is very dreadful. The Lord's rod on his own is but the rod of a man, but yet how does Job cry out under it. "For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me." How did it affect Asaph, Psal. lxxvii. and Heman, Psal. lxxxviii. What must it then be on his enemies. Finally, God's giving the law on mount Sinai was full of terror. See how it affected the people, Exod. xx. 18, 19. Yea, so terrible was the sight, that Moses himself said, I exceedingly fear and quake What will it then be when he comes to avenge the transgressions of that law?
Motive 2. Consider what a God he is whose wrath is revealed. He is most just. He is of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look on iniquity. God must act contrary to his own nature, if sin go without wrath. This makes the destruction of the impenitent pleasing to God. For though God distributes sorrows, with sorrow (so to speak) to his own people; For in all their afflictions, he is afflicted, yet he is eased as it were, in making his enemies the resting place of his wrath. Ah, says he, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies.
He is omniscient. Therefore an angry God knows all the affronts given, and cannot fail to devise and find out all means, by which his wrath may be executed to all possible satisfaction of his justice. He is omnipotent. There is nothing beyond the compass of his power. It must be fearful to fall into the hands of the living God. For he can hold up sinners with one hand through eternity, while the other shall lie heavy upon them. Finally, God is eternal. Men die, and their wrath with them; but he will be an everlasting enemy, and while he is, will pursue the quarrel.
Motive 3d and last. Consider the fearful instances of wrath, first of men. Many have been made monuments of the Lord's anger, in their sinful courses. Wrath has swept away multitudes together, who have fallen a sacrifice to God's anger. Wrath has fallen on men's infant relations, yea on the very place of their ungodliness, and unrighteousness. Adam sinned and wrath came upon him, and upon all his. It came upon the old world; upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Upon the rich man in hell, when he could not find a drop of water to cool his tongue.
Secondly, Upon fallen angels. They sinned and God made their case hopeless. No Mediator was provided for them. They were the first that ventured to break over the hedge, and God made them dreadful instances of his justice and severity. They believe and tremble.
Lastly, It came upon the man Christ standing in the room of the elect. God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all. Wrath coming on him makes him sore amazed, fall on the ground and sweat great drops of blood. What is a deluge? What is the noise of a dissolving world, to God groaning and dying on a cross? Infinite wisdom and holiness did it, to make sin appear like itself.
Wherefore I warn you all and every one, to renounce ungodliness and unrighteousnesss and to allow truth to have its full effect; declaring that otherwise the wrath of God will pursue those who will not. Amen.
Ettrick, August 15, 1722.
[Fast before the Sacrament.]
THE EVIL OF CHRIST'S FRIENDS LIFTING UP THEIR HEEL
PSALM xli. 9.
Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
WE are met this day, to cry for bread to our bodies, which the Lord is threatening to take from us; and to prepare ourselves for eating the bread for our souls, of which the Lord is giving us the comfortable prospect. In both cases it is fit for our humiliation, that we reflect on the use which we have formerly made of both, and we will find the text heaven's just complaint against us.
The Psalmist having complained of his enemies, that they longed for his death, contrived and spread lying stories about him, rejoiced in his affliction; doth in the text show the copestone laid on the maltreatment with which he met in the world, by his particular friends turning abusive to him, Yea, mine own familiar friend, &c.
1. Here is the character of the person of whom he chiefly complains. It is twofold, First he was his confident, one with whom he had a particular intimacy, and in whom he trusted. The man of my peace, that is, one with whom he had no variance nor dissension : in whom he confided, that whosoever should be against him, that person would not, in whom he trusted as a special friend. It was thou, says he, Psal. lv. 13, 14. "A man, mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company."
He was secondly, his dependant, who did eat of my bread. He set him at his table, he gave him a livelihood, maintained him and so obliged him to his interest in duty and gratitude.
2. The treatment with which he had met from that person. He hath lifted up his heel against me. It is a metaphor from a horse kicking against the man that lays meat before him. He broke all the ties of generosity and gratitude, and treated him insolently. A case not rare in times of trial, but very uneasy to them that meet with it. "Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble, is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.
It is evident this was a typical event. And in the type it respects David and Ahithophel, or some other of David's unfaithful friends; in the Antitype it respects the Lord Jesus Christ and Judas. 66 I speak not of you all, said Jesus to his disciples, I know whom I have chosen; but, that the scripture may be fulfilled, he that eateth bread with me, hath lifted up his heel against me." Here the first clause is left out, as not competent in the case of our Lord, who could not be deceived by any. However Judas was one of Christ's disciples, was trusted as steward of his family, and did eat his bread. I shall consider it, as it relates to the Lord Jesus Christ, typified by David.
Doctrine. It is a very grievous thing, that they who eat of the Lord's bread, should lift up the heel against him. There are two sorts of bread which are the Lord's bread.
1. Common bread, which they eat at their own table, for the nourishment of their bodies. Under this is comprehended all the necessaries and conveniences of this life; which in scripture are all represented by bread, because it is the most necessary, and most ordinary support of life.
This bread is the Lord's. He spreads the table for all the children of men, and all eat his bread; the rich and the poor are all maintained at his table of common providence. He is the proprietor and provisor of all the comforts of this life to men. He sits at the table head, and carves every one's portion, to some more and some less, according to his mere good pleasure. Thou Lord openest thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing. And at his beck, men must rise from the table, and the table is drawn, or more liberally, or sparingly covered. So common bread is his bread and all eat of it.
2. Sacred and sacramental bread, which men eat at the Lord's table for the nourishment of their souls. This is his bread in a peculiar manner. This, said he, is my body, which is broken for you. This table is covered only in the visible church, and the bread upon it is prepared only for his real friends. "Eat, O friends, says he, drink, yea, drink abundantly O beloved." And so it is a very singular privilege to eat of it, and by eating of it, men profess themselves in a most solemn manner to be his friends. And this table is not owing as the other to common providence, but to a special providence and the sufferings of Christ.
Now according to the occasion of our present purpose, two things are to be handled,
I. That it is a very grievous thing, that they who eat of the Lord's common bread should lift up their heel against him.