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But Jesus, instead of despising its low estate, will rather fan the spark into a flame, and cause the worthless reed to send forth melody that shall delight the ears of God himself—]
[However gentle his exertions, he shall never ultimately
As his forbearance towards his enemies gave them a momentary appearance of triumph, so he sometimes delays his aid even to his most favoured people
But he will at last prevail, and make his grace victorious in their souls-]
To this description of the Saviour the prophet naturally subjoins
III. Our duty towards him
Blessed be God, our duty is our highest privilegeWe are commanded to trust in him.
1. For instruction
[Jesus is both qualified and commissioned to enlighten the Gentiles
Nor are there any so weak and ignorant but that he can make them wise to salvation
Let us then, "not lean to our own understanding,” but seek to be "taught of him"]
2. For acceptance
[It is not merely in his individual capacity, but as the head of the elect world, that he is so pleasing to his heavenly Father
We therefore, if we believe on him, may be certain of acceptance through him—
Yea, God will not behold a spot in the most polluted soul, if it be only washed in his blood, and clothed in his righteousness-]
3. For victory
[None have need to despond on account of their Own weakness and corruptions
The "grace of Christ is sufficient," and shall prove so to all who trust in him
"Wherever he has begun the good work he will carry it on unto the end"—]
b Luke i. 78, 79. and ii. 32.
d Eph. iv. 20, 21.
f Eph. v. 27. Jude 24.
c Matt.. xi. 25.
Eph i. 6, 10.
5 Phil. i. 6. Rom. viii. 37.
1. The text is addressed to all the sinners of the Gentiles
[How gracious is God in-thus inviting sinners to "behold" his Son!
And how powerful the recommendation that is thus enforced by the example of God himself!
But can any thing be a stronger reproof to those, who, instead of choosing Christ, and being well pleased with him, have uniformly despised and rejected him?
Say then, ye ungrateful world, whom will ye condemn; yourselves, or God?—
Still however, the invitation is addressed to you, my Son".
O that ye may behold him now to your joy, and not hereafter to your confusion!-]
2. But the words are more eminently suited to the weak and desponding
[More consolatory declarations could not have been desired by man, or given by God
The lowest possible state of grace is here described in most appropriate terms
And an assurance given that it shall prove victorious in the issue
Let the desponding soul then learn to "trust" in Jesus
And even in the midst of conflicts sing, "Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ❞—]
CLXXVI. CHRIST A SUITABLE AND ALL-SUFFICIENT
Isai. xxv. 4. Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.
IT is generally thought that no great comfort can arise from meditating upon God: and this is true, as far as it respects those who are determined to live in sin: but to those who desire to serve and enjoy God, there cannot be a richer source of consolation: a view of his attributes, as displayed in the works of his providence and grace, would soon elevate our minds, and turn our fears and sorrows into " thanksgiving and the voice of melody"— We find the prophet breaking forth into rapture, Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee; I will praise
thy name:" but what was the foundation of this joy? It was, as he adds, "for thou hast done wonderful things: """ and what those wonders were, he informs us in the words which we are about to consider-There are two obvious truths contained in them
I. God's people are often reduced to a state of extreme distress
We forbear to mention the temporal calamities which God's people are called to suffer, because they are com mon to the wicked as well as to the righteous-But there are many and severe afflictions peculiar to the godlyThey are often in great distress
1. From a sense of guilt and danger
[When persons first begin to turn to God, they are often filled with horror at the sight of their past iniquities, and terrified with apprehensions of the wrath they have so justly merited-However "stout-hearted" any man may have been in the days of his ignorance, he no sooner sees what transgressions he has committed, and what a God he has defied, than, like Belshazzar at the sight of the hand-writing on the wall, his loins are loosed with fear, and his knees, as it were, smite one against the other—The jailor, it should seem, from his treatment of Paul and Silas, was of a very ferocious disposition; but, when God smote him with a sense of sin, how was his heart appalled! he "sprang in with trembling, and cried out before his prisoners, Sirs, What must I do to be saved?"c_ Thus it is, in a greater or less degree with all: and many in this state have even envied the beasts the privilege of annihilation-]
2. From the persecutions of an ungodly world
[From the days of Cain; even to this present hour, they who have been born after the flesh have persecuted those who were born after the Spirit—And the more eminent any have been for piety, the more they have been the objects of the world's hatred and contempt-With what astonishing cruelty were the saints of old treated! They, of whom God says, the world was not worthy, were made as the filth of the world, and the off-scouring of all things-What though the same violence does not rage at present? is the enmity of the carnal heart slain? Does not the same aversion to religion exist now as in former times? and is it not still found in many instances that Our "greatest foes are those of our own household?"
a Ver. 1.
e Acts xvi. 29, 30.
e Heb. xi. 36-38. Cor. iv. 13. Nn
Yes; and in many instances is this a source of deep affliction, even as a terrible blast, and as a wintry storm"-]
3. From the temptations of Satan
["Whoever will set himself to seek the Lord must prepare his soul for temptation"-Satan will not lose any of his vassals without endeavouring to reduce them to their former state of subjection-For this end he will harass the soul with his temptations, which, as fiery darts, will inflame it with evil passions, and with a " venom will even drink up the spirits"— How inexpressibly grievous these are to a child of God, may be seen by the bitter complaints of Paul, respecting that thorn in his flesh, and his intreaties for deliverance from the buffetings of Satans-Never does a saint feel himself more "needy and distressed" than in circumstances like these; nor could any endure this "conflict with the principalities and powers of darkness," if not upheld by an invisible and almighty arm-]
4. From the hidings of God's face
[God oftentimes, for wise and gracious ends, withdraws himself from his people, and suffers them to "walk in darkness for a season, and without light"—And this is incomparably the most distressing of all the trials that can be endured in this world-Our blessed Lord, who never complained of the cruelties exercised upon his body, cried out with inexpressible anguish, by reason of the dereliction he experienced in his soul, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken. me?" Many too of his dearest children have mourned like him, and, been ready to conclude that God had forsaken and forgotten them To estimate aright the greatness of this affliction it must be felt; for neither words can express, nor imagination conceive, the gloom and misery of a deserted soul-]
Were we to view them in this light only, we should dread, rather than desire, to be of their number.
II. God however will afford them all necessary support
God is never more concerned about his people than when they are "in heaviness through manifold tempta tions:" nor will he merely afford them succour, but will himself be to them
1. A suitable help
[As the trials of the saints are various, so, of course, must their necessities be also: but whatever it be that they need, they shall surely receive it out of the Redeemer's fulnessIs it a sense of guilt that oppresses them? God will "apply
Eph. vi. 16. Job vi. 4.
8 2 Cor. xii. 7, 8.
i Isai. xlix. 14. Ps. Ixxvii. 7-9.
to their lips a live coal from the altar, and say, Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged"-Are they bowed down under a weight of persécution, and destitute of human aid? He will strengthen them in their inward man that they shalf even rejoice in being counted worthy to suffer for his sake' Are they buffeted by Satan? He will clothe them with armour, whereby they shall be enabled to resist him manfully, and to bruise him under their feet-And has he himself forsaken them? It shall be but for a little moment," that they may learn when in darkness to stay themselves on him," and rejoice with more exalted joy in the renewed expressions of his loveThus it is intimated in the text itself, that whether it be strength or protection, or whatever else, that we want, he will surely impart it to us-]
2. A seasonable help
k Isai. vi. 6, 7.
n Isai. liv. 7, 8.
[God may suffer his people to lie a considerable time under their afflictions: but in the very instant that he sees it best to interpose, he will come to their support-This is not only intimated in the parable of the importunate widow, but absolutely promised, as a deduction from that parable; "shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry day and night unto him; though he bear long with them? Verily I say unto you that he will avenge them speedily," that is, in the very best and fittest season And how remarkably was this exemplified in his conduct towards Abraham! That holy patriarch was made to go three days journey to the mountain where he was to slay his son, he was permitted to take the wood, the fire, the knife, for the execution of the divine command; he was even suffered to bind his son; and lift up the knife that was instantly to inflict the fatal stab; and then it was that God stopped him by a voice from heaven-Thus in ten thousand other instances has that proverb been verified, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen And it is remarkable that the poor illiterate fishermen, who followed our Lord, were even ordered not to think beforehand what they should say, when summoned be.fore their rulers, but to expect that the Holy Ghost should suggest to them at the moment what they ought to speak"And though their example does not justify a want of fore sight and premeditation in us, yet the promise made to them warrants us to look to God as an help, a present, a very present help in the time of trouble;" and to expect his interposition then, when "the storm" would otherwise overwhelm us-]
1 Acts v. 41. 2 Tim. iv. 17. m
r Matt. x. 19, 20. s Ps. xlvi. 1.
Eph. vi. 11.