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means of a French, Popish, and malignant faction, set to raze our Jerusalem to the very foundation, whose tender mercies are cruelty; and if we should miss it, which is not likely by all appearance, there will be a blacker sight seen on this church, and these nations, by reason of that spirit of enmity against the purity of religion, and against all practical religion, that has made such dreadful advances this day, that, if God do not seasonably strike in, will, through time, wear out the saints of the Most High.
Lastly, Consider the glorious things spoken of the latter times, to which the world seems to be advancing apace. The extraordinary efforts made this day for advancing the kingdom of the devil in the Christian part of the world, the universal decay of piety in the churches look like a critical juncture, when the honour of God is. called upon to "arise like a giant refreshed with wine,” to purify a people to himself, and to strike his enemies on the hinder-parts. Whatever sad work may be made on the churches before that come, O cry, “Awake, put on strength, 0 arm of the Lord I awake, as in the ancient days,” Isa. lix. 9.-1 shall close with a few advices.
1. Stir up yourselves to repent and reform : " Strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die," Rev. iii. 2. It is high time we were bending to our feet, when the fire has begun to catch hold of our bed of sloth; we have slept long enough, labour now to get and keep matters clear betwixt God and your souls.
2. Lament after the Lord : 1 Sam. vii. 2, “ And all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord." Upon that they had occasion to set up another Ebenezer. The tears of the Lord's people after a departed God are the ready way to bring back their tender-hearted Lord. Mourn over your own sin, and the sins of present and former times.
3. Study unity, and beware of division, Psalm cxxxiii. 3; be more afraid of your own than of other people's sins. This church at best is but weak; let us not by divisions make ourselves an easier prey to the common enemy, lest God be provoked to cast us into the fire, to make us burn together.
4. Lay out yourselves for the advancement of piety, to stir up one another to holiness, love, and good works. Put to your hand this way to hold up a standard for Christ in the world ; the devil's agents are busy, not only against the out-works of religion, but to sap the foundations of it. What are you doing to strengthen them? To talk and complain about the defections of the time, will not do it, but apply your main force to advance and strengthen the vitals of religion in yourselves and others.
5. Labour to put yourselves in a posture for suffering ; cast the burden of earth off your back, and let your shoes be on your feet, your eye on the prize ; pursue it over the belly of all hardships you may meet with, and you will readily find God will be with you.
Lastly, Pray, pray, lift up a cry for the remnant that is left; let us meet continually at the throne of grace, ministers and people, to tryst with him in his ordinances, and to wrestle for his presence.
CHRIST THE FATHER'S GIFT TO HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE.*
Isaiah lv. 4,
mander to the people.
In the first verse of the chapter, there is a large offer of grace, and a cordial invitation to all to improve the blessings of salvation. In the second and third verses, the Lord expostulates with sinners for their slighting this offer, and pursuing after other things. Then the invitation itself is renewod, and backed with weighty motives. In all this the Lord has a special respect to the Gentiles, who at that time were strangers to the covenant of promise. In the text, there is a notable ground of encouragement for sinners to come to Christ; the very scope of it is to encourage them to come to him; it is as if God had said, Why are you afraid to come ? behold I have given him for that very end, to be a witness, a leader, and a commander to the people. Therefore you may conclude, that he must have a people to believe in him as a witness, follow him as a leader, and obey him as a commander. Did ever any prince give any captain's commission, but when he designed also he should have some under him as soldiers ?
In the text, we have a declaration of what God the Father hath done for poor sinners : and because it is an unequalled deed, it is ushered in with a note of attention and admiration, “Behold I have given." He has made a gift to sinners, a gift such as may supply all their wants.
1. Consider the giver; “I," that is, the Father, the contriver and source of the sinner's salvation. None else could give such a great gift, none else had power to make this gift. In regard of the giver, then, it ought to be received with all due respect and gratitude.
The time when this discourse was delivered is not mentioned,
2. Consider the gift, “him ;" that is Christ, of whom David was a type ; John iii. 16,“ God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." This is a gift suitable to the greatness of the giver. He gives like a king, yea, like the King of kings : for his gift is unspeakably and infinitely great.
3. Mark the conveyance of this noble gift: "I have given him ;" I have freely bestowed him. This was according to the covenant of grace ; he was not given against his will. No; his Father's will and his are one, he gave himself also. The Father freely designed him for the work, and he cheerfully accepted, saying, “Lo ! I come.”
4. Consider the end of this gift. For what purpose did the Father give Christ? Why, it was to supply the needs of the people, both the Jews and the Gentiles. But here the Gentiles seem to be especially aimed at, ver. 5, “Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not; and nations that know not thee shall run unto thee.” What sort of people these were, may be learned in part from the ends for which Christ is given. He is given,
(1.) For a witness, to testify the truth and to reveal the mind and will of God to the people : John xviii. 37, "To this end,” said Jesus, was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth ; every one that is of the truth he heareth my voice.” Hence it follows, that they are an ignorant people that know not God, nor the mysteries of salvation; the very people, that have lost their eyes in Adam; an unbelieving people, who will not believe God, unless he proves what he says by his wit
(2.) For a leader, to go before them as a prince and a captain, as the word signifies, and so they are a people that have difficulties to go through, and know not their way, and so stand in need of a leader. He is given,
(3.) For a commander, to give them laws and rules for their obedience. This implies that they are an unruly people, who must have one to keep them in order.
There is a “behold” prefixed to the text. This serves to stir up attention and admiration. Let us consider and wonder, how graciously and suitably the Lord has provided for us.- In this verse there is this
DOCTRINE, That the Father's giving of Christ to be a witness, leader, and commander to sinners, is a matter worthy of deepest consideration, and greatest admiration.
In discoursing on this subject, it is intended, by divine aid,
I. To shew you some special steps of God's giving this noble gift, Christ.
II. To inquire for what this gift is so remarkable.
I To shew you some special steps of God's giving this noble gift, Christ.
1. God made this gist before time, even from all eternity, in respect of designation; the Lord designed bim to be a witness, leader, and commander to the people; from all eternity did God design to bring many sons to glory; and therefore at that period also did he design their captain for them. What is done in time is but the execution of eternal decrees; eternal life was promised us in Christ Jesus before the world began, Tit. i. 2.
2. God gave him in the morning of time, in the first promise : “ The seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent.” When Adam fell, and involved all his posterity in a lost condition, when he had carried all of them out of the way of life, so that none of them could ever know it again without a witness, nor walk in it without a guide, then God promised this noble gift, to make up what Adam had lost, and to restore to us what he had taken away.
3. In the fulness of time, when he actually exhibited this gift; when the word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us, the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law," Gal. iv. 4.
Then was seen that great gift foretold by Moses and the prophets, shadowed forth by the law, and looked for with earnest expectation by the people of God. A time it was when he thus came, wherein the world lay in deep spiritual darkness; the knowledge of the true God was almost totally abolished among the Gentiles; they knew not God, and the true religion was dreadfully corrupted among the Jews. The few that remained were wearied with the burdensome ceremonies, that could not make the comers thereunto perfect, and therefore looked for the mercy promised unto the fathers.
4. God gave this gift in the last time, when the gospel was freely preached to all nations. Then it was, and ever since, that Christ set up his standard in the world, to receive all, without distinction that would fight under his banner. Thus God gave him in respect of the free offer: “He is the gift of God," John iv. 10.
5. He gives him, in particular, to every elect soul in the time of love, the day of espousals. This is that blessed spot of the believer's time, wherein they match with the Son of God, believe his word, and
" When It was
give themselves up to bis conduct. They thus receive the unspeakable gift of God; and this is a crowning mercy indeed! Whosoever thus by faith receives this precious gift, shall receive him over again in the marriage-day, that is, when time is over and gone. Then it shall be said, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready."--Let us, · II. Inquire for what this gift is so remarkable ?
1. It is remarkable, for the hand from whence it came. the Father that gave Christ; even he spared not bis own Son, but delivered him up for us all, Rom. viii. 32. If a gift be valuable for the sake of the giver, then Christ is the most valuable gift, as given by the Father; and therefore he that slights Christ, slights the Father also. The town-clerk of Ephesus supposed that none could but know, that the Ephesians would be zealous for the image of Diana, because it was supposed to have fallen down from Jupiter, Acts xix. 35; ten thousand times better reason have we most highly to esteem our Lord Jesus, because we have the most infallible assurance, that he came down from God, the Father of mercies, “ My Father (said Jesus), giveth you the true bread from heaven," Joho vi. 32.
2. It is remarkable for the persons to whom it is given. Who are they? they are men, and not angels, sinners and not saints : “ God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us,” Rom. v. 8, “ Yea, in due time he died for the ungodly." Men that give gifts, usually give them to their friends, but God gave even his unspeakable gift to his enemies; men gave to the rich, but God gave to the poor ; he gave this gift to them that had mis-spent the gifts bestowed upon them at their creation. O let us set a mark here, and say, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God!" 1 John iii. 1.
3. It is remarkable for the seasonableness of it. God not only gave his Son, but he gave him in proper season ; as it was with Abraham, for whom God provided a ram to be offered in the stead of his only son Isaac, who was already bound on the altar; so, when the sinner's neck was on the block, when divine justice had a sure hold of him, and was about to strike the fatal blow, then did God provide, and give Jesus to be a sacrifice in our stead. O what a surprise, as well as a comfort, was the promise of him to poor Adam! and 0 how welcome to us should be this faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that God sent even his own Son," to seek and to save that which was lost."
4. It is remarkable for the suitableness of it. Unsuitable gifts