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as also terror was diffused through the whole camp of the Philistinesh. Thus is with the Church at this time; it is the presence of God in it that renders it the joy of the whole earth'. It is God's glory that is seen upon it, which brings kings to the brightness of its rising. There is often a power in the ordinances that evidences the presence of the Deity, and constrains his most inveterate enemies to submit themselves to him, and to unite themselves to his Church?. And it will be in consequence of that more abundant manifestation of his presence which shall be vouchsafed to the Church at a future period, that all the nations of the earth shall seek with eagerness an interest in its privileges, and a participation of its blessings m. Persons of all ranks, from the lofty “fir-tree” to the humble“ box,” shall come together to the Church, of which it will be said, “ The Lord is thine everlasting light, and thy God thy glory"."] TO IMPROVE this subject, let me entreat you, 1. To give yourselves up to God as his people
[The whole of this subject refers, as you have seen, to Israel as God's redeemed people. To such alone were these promises made; and by such alone were they experienced. To the Egyptians the cloud was as darkness, whilst to the Israelites it was a pillar of light: and the sea, which afforded to Israel a path of safety, was to the Egyptians without exception a fatal grave.
So to those only who give up themselves to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ are the blessings of redemption fully known: to them the Gospel is “a savour of life unto life, whilst to others it is only a savour of death unto death :” to them is Christ a sanctuary, whilst to others he is only a stumbling-block and a rock of offence.” What then shall I say unto you? This I will say: Imitate the Israelites on the occasion referred to. Cast off your bonds, and put yourselves under the guidance of " that Prophet, whom Jehovah has raised up unto you, like unto Moses.' Go forth from Egypt in dependence on your God: rely upon him for every thing during the time of your sojourning in this dreary wilderness : and look forward to your possession of the promised land as your sure and abiding portion. “Follow the Lord fully,” as Joshua and Caleb did; and rest assured that, like them, you shall in due season enjoy the promised inheritance.] 2. To glory in God as your God
[Tell me one promise that ever failed those who trusted fully in their God. If Joshua, after forty years of conflict, could make this a matter of appeal to Israel, be sure that none of you shall ever be disappointed of your hope. With Jehovah for your guide and defence, you have no ground for fear: for “if God be for you, who can be against you?” Your enemies may be great in might, and many in number: but “they are all but bread for you.” In your conflicts with them, you may endure much: but your trials shall be only as "the spirit of judgment and of burning to purge and to purify you from your filth" and to call forth those exertions from God, which he has promised to you. Whatever difficulty obstruct your way, say to it as God has taught you, “Who art thou, O great mountain ? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain. Only " be strong in faith, giving glory to God." “Only hold fast your confidence, and the rejoicing of your hope;" and “not so much as one jot or tittle of God's word shall ever fail."]
h 1 Sam. iv. 7.
i Ps. xlviii. 2.
k Isai. lx. 1—3.
GOD'S APPEAL TO MAN'S DECISION. Isai. v. 3—5. O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard that I have not done in it? Wherefore when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes ? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard.
MERCIES are obligations to obedience, and aggravations of the guilt of disobedience. This is declared under the similitude of an unfruitful vineyard. The parable in the text foretold the captivity of the Jews in Babylon. Our Lord applied it in reference to the approaching dissolution of their ecclesiastical and civil polity by the Romansa. It is applicable also to the Church of God in all ages. In this solemn address of God to his Church and people are contained, I. His appeal to them
Many and great are the temporal blessings which we enjoy
[In our civil capacity, we possess civil and religious liberty. In our social relations, our privileges and comforts are many In our personal concerns, we may all find abundant cause for gratitude.] But our spiritual advantages are greater still
a Matt. xxi. 33, 41, 45.
[We have infallible directions respecting the way of salvation. We are urged by the strongest motives to walk in ita. Sufficient assistance also is provided for use. We have the religion of Christ established in the land?.]
In the name of God then we call you to judge between God and your own souls &–
[What obstructions to our fruitfulness has he not removed ? What means of promoting it has he not employedh? We appeal to you, and make you judges in your own cause.]
Happy were it for us, if, while we reflect on the advantages God has favoured us with, which are greater far than those which were enjoyed by his people of old, there were not the same reason as formerly for, II. His expostulation with them
Þ If this were the subject of a Commemoration Sermon, the peculiar advantages belonging to the Society should be enumerated.
c John x. 9. and xiv. 6. 1 Cor. iii. 11. Acts iv. 12.
d Not only our hopes and fears, which are the grand springs of human activity and vigour, are excited, Rom. ii. 6—10, but the love of Christ is set before us as the most irresistible of all motives, 2 Cor. v. 14.
e Luke xi. 13. Every Christian may adopt the apostle's words, Phil. iv. 13.
f The Establishment has been “the pillar and ground of the truth” ever since the reformation. Its liturgy is pure and scriptural : its articles and homilies are a barrier against the intrusion of error: and, were its institutions observed as they ought to be, there would be no minister in its communion who was not orthodox in his opinions and holy in his life ; none could undertake the office of a teacher, who was not himself taught of God, and "moved by the Holy Ghost.”
8 See the verse before the text; which, stripped of the figure, may be considered as comprehending the two questions contained in this bracket.
h Could superstition obscure the light ? its clouds have been dispelled by the revival of literary and religious knowledge. Could prejudice pervert our judgment? a liberality of sentiment prevails beyond the example of former ages. Could guilt dismay our hearts ? God has sent his own Son to die for us. Could a sense of our weakness discourage us ? God has promised the aid of his Spirit. Could persecution alarm our fears ? we sit every one under his own vine and fig-tree.” Could erroneous teachers misguide us? care has been taken, as far as human foresight could prevail, to exclude them. What, then, has not God done that could be done?
The fruit which God requires, is suitable to the pains he has bestowed upon us
[He expects that we follow his directions, and live by faith on his dear Son, and that we feel the influence of the motives he has set before us, and, that we go forth against all the enemies of our souls in a humble dependence on his promised aid.)
But very different is the fruit which the greater part of us have brought forth
[We have substituted in the place of Christ some selfrighteous methods of acceptance with God. We have been actuated chiefly by earthly, carnal, and selfish principles. We have gone on in the strength of our own resolutions, instead of looking up continually for the assistance of the Spirit. Alas! our fruit has been only as grapes of Sodom, and clusters of Gomorrhai."]
But that God is displeased with our unprofitableness, will appear from, III. His menace
Under the figure of “ laying waste” a vineyard", , God warns us what he will do to us if we continue unprofitable servants : 1. He will bestow no more pains upon us
[He who by “pruning and digging” has laboured incessantly for our good, will abandon us at last to our own hearts' lusts! He who has "commanded the clouds to rain down rain upon us," will cease to guard us by his providence, or assist us by his grace m.]
2. He will withdraw the advantages we now enjoy
How great the difference between him that produces good fruit, and him that “ brings forth only wild grapes !” The one makes Christ all his salvation and all his desire ; the other exalts himself into the place of Christ, and wishes to become, in part at least, his own Saviour : The one regards eternal things as a reality; the other is scarcely more affected by them than if they were a fiction : The one conquers sin and Satan in the strength of Christ; the other is, either openly or secretly, led captive by them both. In a word, the one is a compound of humility, heavenly-mindedness, and zeal; and the other of pride, worldliness, and indifference.
N. B. The notes ļ, b, and i, are too much compressed, and the subject of them is too remote for a country congregation. To an illiterate auditory, a general and popular statement would be more edifying.
ver. 5, 6. 1 Hos. iv. 17. Ps. lxxxi, 11, 12. m Gen. vi. 3.
[He will “ take away the candlestick” when we exclude or abuse the light". Or if he cause not“a famine of the word,” he will make his Gospel “ a savour of death to us rather than of lifeo.”] 3. He will expose us to the heaviest calamities
[We may easily conceive how the wild boar of the field will desolate a vineyard, when its fences are all removed ;” and we know, from the instances of Peter and of Judas, what Satan will effect, if he be suffered to execute his will upon us; yet we can expect nothing but to be “delivered over to Satan for the destruction both of our bodies and souls," if we“ bring forth only wild grapes" after all the culture bestowed upon us P.) APPLICATION
What reason have we all to be ashamed of our unfruitfulness, and to tremble lest God should execute upon us his threatened vengeance !
[No words can more forcibly express his fixed determination to execute it, than the concluding words of our text. Let us be thankful that the execution of it has been so long delayed; let the “ forbearance exercised towards us, lead us to repentance 9;" and let us henceforth seek to resemble the primitive Christians'.)
And what reason can be assigned that shall justify our bringing forth only “ wild grapes" under such circumstances ?
[Has there been any want of care on the part of the husbandman? Has there been any thing defective in the means he has used ? Could he, consistently with his plans of government, have done more for us than he has done? Can we at all excuse ourselves, and cast with propriety the blame on him? Judge ye” whether the fault be not entirely in yourselves ?]
n Luke viii. 18. Rev. ü. 5.
o 2 Cor. ii. 16. p Heb. vi. 7, 8. Luke xiii. 7. and John xv. 6. 9 Rom. ii. 4. r Rom. vi. 22.
THE SINFULNESS OF CONFOUNDING GOOD AND EVIL.
Isaiah v. 20. Wo unto them that call evil good, and good evil;
that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.
THAT man in his present state is a corrupt and sinful creature, is too plain to be denied: the whole