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iness not only give way to the exercise of mercy, but go along, increase the splendour of the triumph, and glorify themselves in the highest. "Unto the Lord our God "belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have re"belled against him." Some of the most stubborn and rebellious have obtained mercy: Paul was apprehended with arms in his hands, pardoned, and reconciled. And all have access to plead for mercy: "Now is the accepted time, "now is the day of salvation." "We pray you, in Christ's "stead, be ye reconciled to God: For he hath made him "to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be "made the righteousness of God in him." "For what the "law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, "God, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, "and for sin condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous"ness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit."
THE NAME OF THE LORD A PLEA FOR TEMPORAL
JEREMIAH xiv. 7.
O Lord, though our iniquities testify against us, do thou for thy names sake.
IN the administration of Providence the work of the Lord is honorable and glorious. Of every operation his glory is the motive and end. "Ofhim, and through him, and "to him, are all things." Often, however, in this administration, and especially in the material part, where secondary causes operate, the glory of the Lord is not beheld and adored. The operations are seen and felt by all. The hand of the Operator is perceived and regarded by few. To remove this grossness of heart, and to manifest the glory of the Lord in all his works, the holy writings represent the operations of secondary causes as his operations; and, concerning these, furnish facts and observations which suit the diversified complexion of his dispensations in every age.
Under the ministry of Jeremiah a drought reduced the land of Judah to great distress. From the third chapter of his prophecy it appears to have begun toward the latter part of the reign of Josiah; and, after the death of that great and good man, to have continued some years with more or less severity. Oftener than once or twice the prophet mentions, or alludes to this calamity. In the beginning of the chapter where our text stands, its severity is described in strong and affecting expressions. The nobles were confounded, and covered their heads, because there was no water. The plowmen were ashamed, and covered their heads, because there was no rain in the earth. The hinds calved in the field, and forsook their young,
because there was no grass. The wild asses, unable to endure the heat, ran to the hills, and snuffed up the wind like dragons. The gates of every city languished, and became black unto the ground. Judah mourned, and the cry of Jerusalem went up to heaven.
fa this extremity Jeremiah, a sincere but persecuted friend of his country, applied to the Lord in prayer. Concerning the captivity he had been forbidden again and again to make intercession. The Lord had determined to send that disobedient and rebellious generation to Babylon, and prohibited the prophet to interfere with his prayers and supplications. But with respect to the drought and the famine Jeremiah was at liberty, and went humbly and boldly to the throne of grace for turning away these calamities. "O Lord, though our iniquities testify against "us, do thou for thy name's sake."
DOCTRINE. In the face of iniquity the name of the Lord is our plea for temporal good things. We shall speak concerning temporal good things; concerning our plea for these; concerning our pleading it in the face of iniquity; and conclude with directions and exhortations.
We begin with temporal good things. None indeed are particularised by Jeremiah. All that he asks is comprised in these emphatical words, Do thou. But any one who observes the context may see what the prophet would have. He would have dew, and rain, and fruitful seasons, for the preservation of man and beast. On this part of our subject we shall lay before you the following considerations. First, Temporal good things pertain to the present life. Some good things are eternal. We enter to the possession of them in time, but they follow us into heaven, and will be enjoyed through eternity. The good things which are temporal are not of this sort. These are peculiar, to this life, and will not follow men into that which is to come. "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats, but God shall "destroy both it and them."* Meats were created to be received with thanksgiving, for the nourishment of the animal body, and the animal body is formed for receiving and digesting meats. But this constitution is only temporal, and an end will be put to it by God who gave it a
#1 Cor. vi. 13
beginning. The relation of meats to the body, and of the body to meats, will be soon dissolved. In heaven we shall neither hunger nor thirst, and since we look for a body without animal appetites, duty, interest, and honor, cali on us to keep these appetites of our present body under subjection.
Secondly, In the present life temporal good things are necessary. Without a competent portion of these men cannot live. Meat, and drink, and raiment, are necessary not only to the comfort, but to the subsistence of our lives. The body, which is the workmanship of God, must be fed and clothed; and how great is his goodness in providing for it things that are needful! Let heaven, and earth, and seas, praise the Lord. All creatures in these he is able to sustain. The fowls of the air, from the eagle to the sparrow; the fishes of the sea, from the leviathan to the oyster; the beasts of the earth, from the lion to the lamb; and men, from the head which wears a crown to the hand that receives an alms, are fed and clothed at the expense of the Father and Lord of the creation. "These wait all upon "thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in due sea"son. That thou givest them they gather. Thou openest "thine hand, they are filled with good."*
Thirdly, Temporal good things are promised. Till the purpose of God, according to election, be accomplished, the present frame of the world, in the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering, must be upheld; and promises of upholding, and the means of upholding it, are made to Christ, for the sake of his body, the elect and redeemed: "I will give thee for a covenant of "the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the "desolate heritages."t Earthly and temporal good things, together with spiritual blessings, are delivered by the Father into his hand: "All things are delivered unto me of "my Father." "The Father loveth the Son, and hath gi"ven all things into his hand;" and "gave him to be head "over all things to the church, which is his body, the ful❝ness of him that filleth all in all." "I will hear, saith the "Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the "earth, and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and "the oil, and these shall hear Jezreel."¶
*Psal. civ. 27, 28. §John, iii. 35.
Isa. xlix. 8.
Matt, xi. 27.
Fourthly, Temporal good things are produced by the power and goodness of God, operating in material and se condary causes. The heavens and the earth, the sun, rain, the dew, and the air, have not the power of vegetation and fertility in themselves. They are merely instruments by which the power of God is exerted. In a verse below our text, Jeremiah brings this under our observation. "Are "there among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause "rain, or can the heavens of themselves give showers? Art, "not thou he, O Lord,” who causeth rain and giveth showers? "Therefore we will wait upon thee, for thou hast made "all these things." To this truth men are naturally inattentive and blind; and scripture, foreseeing our inattention and blindness, furnishes remedies and antidotes, and sets before us the power of God animating and giving effect to the whole process of material operation. "Thou visit"est the earth, and waterest it, thou greatly enrichest it "with the river of God, which is full of water; thou pre"parest them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. "Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly, thou set"tlest the furrows thereof, thou makest it soft with show"ers, thou blessest the springing thereof. Thou crownest "the year with thy goodness, and thy paths drop fatness. "They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness, and the "little hills rejoice on every side. The pastures are cloath"ed with flocks, the vallies also are covered with corn; "they shout for joy, they also sing." "Sing unto the "Lord with thanksgiving, sing praises upon the harp unto "our God. Who covereth the heavens with clouds, who "prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass grow up"on the mountains. He giveth to the beast his food, and "meat to the young ravens which cry." "O Lord, how "manifold are thy works; in wisdom hast thou made them "all, the earth is full of thy riches!"
Fifthly, Temporal good things are turned away by our iniquities: "Thou hast polluted the land with thy whore"doms, and with thy wickedness; therefore the showers "have been withholden, and there hath been no latter "rain." "Neither say they in their heart, Let us now "fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former
*Psal. lxv. 9-13.
†Psal. cxlvii. 8, 9.