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HUMILIATION WITH ZEAL.
Isai. xxvi. 13. O Lord our God, other lords besides thee have
had dominion over us : but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.
MANY devout songs are composed in Scripture for the use of God's Church and people in the latter day. But, amidst their praises for mercies vouchsafed unto them, care is taken to keep up in their minds a remembrance of their former sins, and a sense of those duties which they owe to their heavenly Benefactor. On a review of the past, they are taught to acknowledge the evil of their ways; and in a prospect of the future, to consecrate themselves, with all due solemnity, to the service of their God. Now, at this season“, I cannot do better than recommend to your adoption, I. Their retrospective acknowledgment
It is probable, that, in the words before us, respect is had to the civil bondage to which that nation had again and again been reduced on account of their iniquities ---- But, considering for what period the song is prepared, we cannot doubt but that there is a reference also to the moral bondage in which they have been held by their corruptions. And in this sense, the acknowledgment well becomes us at this day; since we are told by an inspired Apostle, that “to whomsoever we yield ourselves servants to obey, his servants we are to whom we obeye.” And what has been our conduct through life?
The greater part of us have “served only our own lusts and pleasuresd”.
[Look at all around you: or, rather, look within your own bosoms; and say, to whom have
lives been devoted, to God, or Mammon? - Verily, there is but too much
to confess, that “ God has not been in all our thoughts e" ---]
Of those who have had some respect to God, still must this acknowledgment be required
a New Year's Day. b 2 Chron. xxviii. 5, 6. Neh. ix. 36, 37. c Rom. vi. 16.
d Tit. iii. 3.
e Ps. x, 4.
[“ Other lords besides God, have had dominion over you. The lip and the knee perhaps you have devoted to Jehovah in the observance of outward duties, both in the public assemblies of the Church, and in your own closets ; but where has been the heartf? You “ have had the form of godliness perhaps, but where has been the power8? Call to mind your prayers and your praises, how cold have they been! Have they not even frozen, as it were, upon your very lips? On the other hand, see with what ardour and delight you have followed your earthly pursuits, whether intellectual or corporeal, and whether for pleasure or honour or emolument
But God says, “ Give me thine heart;" and in the want of this, all the services you have rendered him are no better than “ the cutting off a dog's neck for sacrifice, or the offering of swine's blood h” --]
Whilst I recommend the deepest humiliation before God in the review of your past lives, I cannot but urge for your adoption what is here suggested for, II. Their prospective determination
The Israelites were forbidden to make mention of the name of any of the gods which were worshipped in the land of Canaan? By them no other name than that of Jehovah was to be uttered; because He, and he alone, was God. Hence “ the making mention of his name was equivalent to an acknowledgment of him as the only true God, and was therefore considered as a just description of his peculiar peoplek. But this must be done in sincerity and truth; else it would be regarded only as an act of hypocrisy and profaneness? It must comprehend all that attachment which is due to the supreme God, who is the only proper object of fear, or love, or confidence
Now, then, I recommend this to you, 1. As your duty
[Who else is entitled to any of these regards, except in entire subordination and subserviency to Him? - -] 2. As your interest
(Who can so recompense your services, or so avenge the want of them?---]
i Isai. xxix. 13. & 2 Tim. iii. 5. h Isai. lxvi. 3. 1 Exod. xxiii. 13. Josh. xxiii. 7.
k Isai. lxii. 6. 1 Isai. xlviii. 1.
3. As your happiness
[Ask the most successful votaries of this world what they have ever gained? Ask them what solid satisfaction they have ever found in all that the world could give them? Then ask the servants of the living God, whether they have not found his service to be perfect freedom, and “his ways to be ways of pleasantness and peace?” As to the eternal world, it is almost superfluous for me to speak : for there are none so ignorant as not to know, that the pleasures of sense all“ perish with the using,” and that those only who seek their happiness in God can ever enjoy “the pleasures which are at his right hand for evermore" -
-I therefore confidently say to all of you without exception, Let this be the determination of you all, that henceforth
will make no mention of any name in a way fear, or love, or confidence, but “the name of Jehovah only."]
Thus far I have spoken to you as men only. But what shall I say to you as Christians ?
[Tell me, whether, as “ bought with the precious blood of Christ,” you have any duty, any interest, any happiness, worthy of a moment's consideration, in comparison of his service, his honour, his glorym ?
-] Let me, in conclusion, submit to your consideration
the following QUESTIONS-1. Who amongst you does not need to make this retrospective acknowledgment ?
2. What will the acknowledgment avail you, do not make, and carry into effect, the prospective determination ?
3. To what purpose will it be to begin well, if you ever“ become weary in well-doinga?"
[You must maintain “ a patient continuance in well-doing, if ever you would attain eternal life.” If ever you draw back, whatever your attainments for a season may have been, "you will draw back unto perdition :” for “ God's soul can have no pleasure in youp” -] I must not, however, dismiss you without one most
important and necessary CAUTION
[The resolution which I have recommended must not be made in your own strength, but entirely in dependence upon God. This is very particularly intimated in my text : “ By thee only will we make mention of thy name.” In the very words before the text is it said, “Thou hast wrought all our works in
if you Paul himself was constrained to say, “ By the grace of God I am what I am":" and if any of you confide for one moment in your own strength, you will fall". On the other hand, if you trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are assured, in this very Song, that your “strength shall be according to your day." “ Be strong, then, in the Lord, and in the power of his mightu." and then let the Psalmist's resolution be yours, and his song be yours; “My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof. I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only?."] 1 1 Cor. xv. 10.
Yes, “ our sufficiency is of God alone?.” The Apostle m 1 Cor. vi. 20. n Gal. vi. 9.
o Rom. ii. 7. p Heb. x. 38, 39. 9 2 Cor. iii. 5.
s Prov. xxviii. 26. + Compare ver. 3, 4. with Jude, ver. 24. Eph. vi. 10. x Ps. lxxi. 15, 16.
THE ONLY REFUGE OF SINNERS. Isai. xxvi. 20, 21. Come, my people, enter thou into thy cham
bers, and shut thy doors about thee : hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.
GOD has been pleased to manifest at all times such a tender concern for the welfare of his people, that he has scarcely ever done any thing of importance, which he has not revealed to them beforehand by his servants the prophets. Did he determine to destroy the earth with a flood ? he instructed Noah first to build an ark for the preservation of himself and his family. Was he about to rain fire and brimstone upon Sodom and Gomorrha ? he could not execute his vengeance till righteous Lot had retired to a place of safety'. Had he decreed to bring on Jerusalem such judgments as the world had never before seen ? he warns his people to escape from it, and provides them a retreat in the neighbouring mountains. Thus he had decreed the destruction of Babylon; and the preceding part of the chapter contains a hymn of triumph, which should be sung by his people on that occasion. But, as there would be great danger of a Amos iii. 7.
b Gen. vi. 13, 14. c Gen. xix. 22.
d Luke xxi. 21, 22.
their being involved in the common calamity, he apprises them of his intention, and exhorts them to ħide themselves, till the danger should be overpast. It is not, however, necessary to confine the words to this sense; because there are many other occasions on which God comes forth to punish mankind; and because the advice given, is suitable to all such occasions.
In discoursing on this passage, we shall call your attention to, I. The warning here given
Heaven is the habitation of God's holiness and glory. And from thence he is said to “come forth,” when he manifests himself in any signal manner upon earth? And, alas ! how often do the iniquities of men necessitate him to come down and visit them with his sore judgments! But there is one period in particular, when God shall come, not to punish one particular nation only, but all who shall have lived and died in sin, from the foundation of the world.
[The day of judgment is called “the day of wrath," “the day of vengeance," “ the day of the revelation of God's righteous judgments," " the day of the perdition of ungodly men h.” In that day the Lord Jesus Christ, “whom the heavens have received till the time of the restitution of all thingsi," “ shall come in power and great glory;" and the express end of his coming will be "to reveal his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of menk."
Now he winks, as it were, at men's iniquities?; and endures with much patience and longsuffering the vessels of wrath that are fitting themselves for destructionm: yea, to such a degree does he exercise forbearance towards them, that scoffers are ready to say, Where is the promise of his coming"? But soon the time fixed for the exercise of his grace, shall come to an end, and all the dead shall be summoned to his tribunal, to receive at his hands according to their works.
e Isai. lvii. 15. and lxiii. 15.
f Mic. i. 3. & If this were the subject of a Fast Sermon, the particular judgments that are deprecated, should be specified here as the tokens of God's displeasure, and should be dwelt upon at some length.
h Rom. ii. 5. 2 Pet. iii. 7. i Acts iii. 21. k Rom. i. 18. 1 Acts xvii. 30.
m Rom. ix. 22. n 2 Pet, üi. 3, 4. o Rev. xx. 12, 13.