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his power is dared by open rebellion, and infidel attacks upon his Majesty and Glory.
In the midst of this universal degeneracy, the Great Sovereign displays his dreadful judgments, by deluging a world of rebels,-burning up wicked and polluted cities, pouring plagues of desolating varieties upon a persecuting kingdom,-destroying entire nations of vile and abominable offenders,-punishing his own professing people with multiplied and varied judgments, chastising individuals in their persons, property, and families,-permitting wars to waste, and pestilences to desolate, the regions of the earth. And all this on account of SIN.
These, and a thousand other evils receive their commission from that Almighty Ruler of heaven and earth, whose Power none can withstand, whose Counsel none can defeat, whose Will none can thwart. And yet, rebellious man dares to lift his puny arm against Omnipotence, as if he could command events, and make the future to crown his wishes.
Those who have perused with attention the pages of history, or studied the page of their own experience, must have learned how little human wisdom can depend upon its own foresight, or human power upon its own achievement. The fairest plans are often blasted, when nearest their accomplishment. And many, who, with labouring steps have reached the summit of their expectations, have been hurled from their eminence, just when stretching out the hand to grasp the golden prize. Well may we exclaim with Solomon: "Vanity of vanities;......all is vanity."* Haman, in the Book of Esther, affords a striking instance. He erected a gallows-for himself!†
"Be still, and know that I am God," is the soothing accent of mercy to the believers in Jesus. If we know God in all his adorable perfections, in the greatness of his power, and in the fulness of his love, as manifested in the gift of his Son, we shall be + Esther vi. & vii. 10. Psa. xlvi. 10.
*Eccles. xii. 8.
still, calm, and composed, amidst the agitations of a restless world.
When the judgments of God are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. O! my soul, look now unto thy God. Dark, indeed, is the cloud which covers our political horizon, and fearful the storm which is ready to burst upon our favoured island. Popery, Infidelity, and Anarchy are forming a mine which may involve thousands in ruin. Our national sins are great, and so are our national mercies. This aggravates our ingratitude and increases our guilt. The divine bow is bent, the arrow is on the string, ready to fly in vengeance, and what withholds it? the arm of mercy, the intercession of Jesus.
O! my soul, forget not that thy sins form a part of the nation's guilt; sins, as numerous as the stars of heaven. How inconceivable, then, must be the sum of human guilt, when multiplied by millions of men in succeeding generations, all born in sin, all living in iniquity, till renewed by the Spirit of grace? Surely nothing can so strikingly display the forbearance of God. This David felt when he sang:"God is strong and patient: and God is provoked every day." Lord impart unto me, thy very sinful creature, the grace of true repentance. Give me an unfeigned abhorrence of all sin, and an entire cleaving of my heart to thee. O! do thou mercifully withhold our deserved judgments, and pour out upon us a flood of undeserved mercy. For the sake of thy beloved Son, hear the supplications of thy people, who would now approach thy mercy-seat with deep Be thou, O Lord, entreated for our land, and pity thy people. We are, indeed, O Lord, a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children which are corrupters. But, oh! pour out upon us a spirit of true repentance, faith, and love. Give not thy heritage to reproach. Thou art righteous, and we are wicked. Thy rod is + Psa. vii. 12.-Prayer Book Version.
Isa. xxvi. 9.
the rod of judgment; but O! let it become a sceptre of mercy, ruling our hearts by love. Draw all hearts to thyself, subdue every rebellious will. Great, indeed, and frightful is the iniquity which aboundeth. Thy holy word is blasphemed; thy Gospel is rejected; thy beloved Son is disowned; and what will the end be? I hear thee say: "Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this ?"*
Lord! may I and mine be safe under thy feathers; shielded by thy power; and comforted by thy love. Whatever storms may blow upon our land, be thou to us "as a little sanctuary," a place of refuge, a tower of strength. Spread thy wing over us, till the storm be overpast. But should it be thy will, that any of us should fall under the devouring sword, still may we be safely lodged in thy arms; and, like Elijah, be carried from the discords of earth to the harmonies of heaven.
How soothing in this world of woe,
Where tempests rage, and wild winds blow,
All power to Jesus Christ is given,
The rolling orbs obey his law
As round the sun their paths they draw ;
Obeys the same Almighty Power.
The stony heart his word can break ;
His grace support
My soul! repose beneath the wing
But, shouldst thou see th' uplifted rod,
Yet, shouldst thou feel his chast'ning hand,
If thou the friend of Jesus be.-
XLIX. ON THE SOVEREIGNTY OF DIVINE GRACE.
"The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us, and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."-Deut. xxix. 29.
"I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God."-Acts xx. 27.
HUMILITY, faith, and prayer, through the operation of the Holy Ghost, are essential to the right reception of divine Truth. A peculiar state of heart, rather than much strength of intellect, is required in order to comprehend the gospel. Its sublime truths, though hid from the wise and prudent, are revealed unto babes: "The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way.' 99* "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he will show them his covenant."+ 'If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God."+
The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. Thousands have been led astray by "philosophy and vain deceit,"§ by "science falsely so called."||
*Psa. xxv. ix.
Psa. xxv. 14.
|| 1 Tim. vi. 20.
John vii. 17.
The pride of human reason has ever opposed the humiliating revelations of the Spirit. The fall of man and its direful consequences on the human race; -the redemption of sinners, through the incarnation and death of Jesus Christ the Son of God;-the regeneration of the soul, through the power of the Holy Ghost;-the sovereignty of God in the bestowment of his gifts, having mercy on whom he will have mercy-the utter inability of man to save himself; and his everlasting obligations to the free grace of God, through the merits and mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ, are subjects which fill heaven with praise, and the volumes of the philosophical sceptic with doubts and ridicule !
The unhumbled heart, ever rises against the doctrine of the Sovereignty of Divine Grace. Man is naturally self-righteous. He seeks to find in himself the meritorious cause of his future hoped-for felicity. Heaven is an object of his desire, because it is a place of rest; not because it is a state of holiness. The man of the world understands neither the nature of heavenly bliss, nor the way to attain it. Being a professing member of the Christian Church, he observes her ceremonies, and practises some moral duties. On these he rests his hopes of heaven. As pain and hell are united together, he naturally shrinks from the idea of torment; and yet, he lives in sin, the very road which leads into the fiery gulf! So blind, so inconsistent is fallen man!
In treating on the great doctrine of Election, one of the fruits of sovereign grace, much controversy and angry disputes have been carried on between different sections of the Christian Church; some almost excommunicating and anathematising those who differ from them. But "Wisdom is justified of all her children."*
The true believer, who is "clothed with humility;" whose heart is as a weaned child; weaned from the pride of intellect, from the trammels of