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liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound”-To you, even to you, ye stout-hearted, is “ the word of this salvation sent"-Your past iniquities shall be forgiven, if only you will humble yourselves before him Nor is this all: your God will not only restore you to his favour, but will “glory” over you with unutterable joy_“ You shall be even a crown of glory and a royal diadem in his hands”d—Let not then your hearts be yet hardened against him; but let his transcendent “ goodness lead you to repent. ance”-] Advice 1. Endeavour to see your obduracy in its true colours
[If you are free from gross sins, you think but little of an unhumbled and impenitent state But what can be worse than a seared conscience, and a callous heart?—What can be worse than to feel no sorrow or contrition for your past offences, no desire to please your God, no anxiety to save your souls?-Be assured that such a state, with whatever name it may be glossed over, is hateful in the extreme; and that, if continued in, it will prove as fatal as a course of open profligacy and profaneness
2. Fear lest God should give you up to final impenitence
[The present address, which is made by God himself, shews clearly enough, that he “has no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wicked. ness and live”-But he is an holy God; nor will his Spirit “ always strive with man”_He may be provoked at last to swear in his wrath that
shall never enter into his rest”. This he most assuredly does with respect to many, who“grieve his Spirit” till they have altogether “quenched” his sacred motions—" To-day therefore, while it is called to-day, harden not your hearts," " lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver”-]
3. Think what regret you will feel, when that salyation, which is now so near to you, shall be removed to an unapproachable distance
[Of all the miseries that can affict a soul in the future world, we cannot conceive any more distressing than the thought of having had a Saviour provided for us, and salvation through him offered to us-No words can express the sense which a self-ruined sinner will have of his folly, when he sees in one view the mercies he has slighted and the judgments he has brought upon himself—Now he can be “ far from righteousness," and glory in his shame: but then he will see that, which
1 Isai, lxii 3.
even courted his embraces here, removed afar off indeed; so far, as to preclude a possibility of ever attaining the possession of it-The Lord grant, that they who have hitherto slighted these overtures of mercy; may now embrace them with their whole hearts!-]
CLXXI. CHRIST A GREAT SAVIOUR. Isai. xix. 20. They shall cry unto the Lord because of the op
pressors, and He shall send them a Saviour, and a great One, and he shall deliver them.
GOD usually vouchsafes his mercies when we are reduced to the greatest straits
This is manifest in his most remarkable dispensations of providence and of grace
In the greatest extremity God promised to send a deliverer to Egypta
But there is a further reference to Christ as the Saviour to the Gentile worldb
And it is in seasons of heavy dejection that He reveals himself to them
To him therefore we must look as the Saviour foretold in the textI. In what respects He is “ a great Saviour"
It is justly said by the Psalmist that “ his greatness is unsearchable"c_
Nevertheless we may, not unprofitably, endeavour to illustrate it He is great when considered in his own person
[He has a name above every name either on earth or in heaven
He is exalted to be a prince that can give repentance and remission of sins
a In this view it seems applicable to the angel who slew 185,000 of Sennacherib's army: for, though that deliverance was more immediately vouchsafed to the Jews under Hezekiah, yet in its consequences it extended to Egypt. Sennacherib had before conquered and ravaged Egypt; and it was most probable that if he had taken Jerusalem he would have again proceeded thither with his victorious army, and reduced that already desolated kingdom to the lowest ebb of misery. But perhaps there may be a further reference to some other deliverers. b This appears from the whole context, ver. 18—25.
& Ps. cxly. 3. d Acts v. 31. VOL. II.
The voice of inspiration calls him, “the great God and our Saviour"e_
He speaks of himself in terms of similar import
Nor can any thing be more glorious than the description given of him by the prophets-]
He is also great in respect of the salvation he has wrought out for us
[Who can count the number of the sins from which he has delivered us?-
Or estimate the misery from which he has redeemed us?
Through our whole lives we have been heaping up treasures of wrath
Yet there is no condemnation to us if we be interested in himi
Besides, he has purchased for us an eternal inheritance in heaven
We must know all the glories of heaven and the horrors of hell, before we can fully appreciate the greatness of his salvation]
But before we speak peace to ourselves it becomes us to enquire II. For whose deliverance he is sent
Great as his mercy is, it will not indiscriminately extend to all
They, for whose relief he comes, are “oppressed” with the burthen of sin
[The generality, alas! are well contented with their bondage
If he should offer to deliver them they would thrust him from themk
But there are some who mourn like the saints of old?
They desire nothing so much as to be delivered from their corruptions
For these Jesus came down from heaven, and died upon
Nor, though they be lawful captives, will he leave them in the hand of their enemies -]
They at the same time "cry earnestly to the Lord” for deliverance
[There are some, it must be confessed, who are uneasy in
e Tit. ii. 13. f Isai. xlv. 22.
& Isai. ix. 6.
their sins, yet do not with fervour and constancy implore his mercy
Such therefore, notwithstanding their uneasiness, obtain no help from him
His mercy is promised to those alone who seek it with importunity
But humble and believing suppliants shall never be rejected by him
They shall find him a great, compassionate, and all-sufficient Saviour-] APPLICATION
[Let those who are unconcerned about their sins reflect on their state
Would God have sent them such a Saviour if their condition had not required it?
Or, will they take occasion from this grace to live more se, curely in their sins!
Let them consider that their cries, however available now, will soon be of no effecto
Let those who are conflicting with sin and satan lift up their heads with joy
However desperate their state may seem, their redemption draweth nigh
Nor shall all the powers of darkness rescue them from their Redeemer's hands
Let those who have experienced deliverance adore their Lord, Let them still go on,
that is in Christ Jesus” —
And soon they shall join in eternal Hallelujahs to God and, to the Lamb-]
strong in the
Matt. vii. 7. Ezek. xxxvi. 37. p. John X. 28.
o Luke xvi, 24, 25.
ELXXII. THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Jer. xxiii. 6. This is his name, whereby he shall be called THE
LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
THE writings of the prophets no less than of the apos. tles testify of Christ: nor can we any where find a fuller exhibition of his character than in the words before usAs to his origin, he is “ a branch from the root of Da. vid;” and, in his character, “a righteous” branch. His
office is that of“ a King;" and, as to the manner in which he executes that office, “ he executes righteousness and judgment in the land.” Look we for the effects of his administration? “ In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely.” Lastly, Would we know in what light he is to be regarded? “ This is his name, whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness.”
In these words the prophet sets forth I. The dignity of Christ
The inspired writers never seem afraid of speaking of Christ in too exalted terms--- The prophet, in this very place, declares 1. His essential dignity
[There is frequent occasion to observe that, wherever the word Lord is printed in large characters, it is in the original, JEHOVAH. Now Jehovah denotes the self-existence of the Deity, and is a name incommunicable to any creature: yet is it here assigned to Christ-By comparing similar declarations in the Old Testament with the expositions given of them in the New, we know assuredly that this name belongs to Christ; and that therefore he is and must be “ God over all blessed for ever”_ 2. His official dignity
[The title of Jehovah belongs equally to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; but the additional title of “ Our Righteousness" is peculiar to Christ alone—It imports that Christ has by his own obedience unto death wrought out a righteousness for guilty man; and that “this righteousness shall be unto all and upon all them that believe in him”-It is in this sense that St. Paul speaks of him as made unto us righteousness”h_
The connexion between the different parts of this comprehensive name deserves particular notice: for, if He were not Jehovah, he could not be our Righteousness; seeing that as a creature, he could merit nothing; because he would owe to God all that he could do; and," after he had done all, he would be only an unprofitable servant:" but as he is God, all which he does is voluntary; and his divinity stamps an infinite value upon his work; so that it may well merit, not for himself only, but for a ruined world
a Isai. vi. 5. with John xii. 41. or Isai. xlv. 22, 23, with Rom. xiv. 10, 11, or Joel ii, 32. with Rom. x. 13, 14. or Mal. ii. 1. with Luke i. 76.
bo i Cor. i. 30.