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regards the birth of their son, his education, his deliverance of their country—if the accomplishment of this be certain, our destruction is impossible.
Let us drop Manoah and his wife, and think of ourselves. It is a dreadful thing for God to
What is the loss of property, of health, or even of life, to the loss of the soul ? Men can kill the body, but there “is no more that they can do, but God is able to destroy both body and soul in hell. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”.
Hence it becomes unspeakably important to know how he means to deal with us. And, blessed be his name, there are satisfactory evidences of his disposition—that he is not our enemy, but our friend, and concerned for our welfare. Some of these are more general : others are more peculiar.
He has not left himself without a witness, “ in that he has done us good, and given us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with joy and gladness.
He has borne with our provocations, and though he could easily and righteously have destroyed us, we are still in the land of the living and we ought to “ account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation. The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance."
Had he desired the death of the sinner, would he have provided and accepted the grand sacrifice, which Jesus made upon the cross for us ?But we know he provided it;
we know he accepted it, and that it was “ an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.”
If he were pleased to kill us, would he have
given us such exceeding great and precious promises; promises so rich, so general, so free? would he have said, “ Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found ; call ye upon him, while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous, man his thoughts : and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.”
Resolved on your destruction, would he have favoured you with such affecting discoveries? Like the man in the gospel, though unable to tell every circumstance attending the operation, cannot you now say, “One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see?"" Has he not " called you out of darkness into his marvellous light ?" Are you not filled with wonder-does not everything appear new? Have you not seen an evil in sin which has rendered it odious and burdensome -a depravity in yourselves which has led you ever since to exclaim, “ Behold, I am vile”—and such a glory in the Saviour, as 'makes you willing to follow him whithersoever he goeth? “ Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but our Father who is heaven.
Had his aim been your ruin, would he have produced in you such sentiments and dispositions ?-So that the heart of stone is removed you mourn for sin, and for the sins of others as well as your own.--You “hunger and thirst after righteousness," and as much long to be sanctified as to be pardoned; and pray as much to obtain purity as peace. You love the sceptre, as well as glory in the cross: and your dependence upon the Saviour's death is accompanied by endeavours to imitate his example, and you can never be per
fectly reconciled to yourselves till the same mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. If he smile, you are well enough satisfied to bear the frowns of the world, and can say, as you advance in duty and reproach-" If this be to be vile, I will yet be more vile.”
And under your greatest discouragements, under every temptation to go back, have you not been enabled to persevere in the use of means ? Though you have been strangers to comfort and freedom in duty, you have not restrained prayer before him, but through many a benighted season you have waited for him “more than they that watch for the morning.” On the very verge of despair, something has afresh excited hope: “ Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet-will I look again toward thy holy temple." You have had a degree of confidence—not only that you shall not seek him in vain, but that you have not: “I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes : nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplication, when I cried unto thee.” And thus, while powerfully drawing you, he has been secretly sustaining you; as in the case of David, who said" My soul followeth hard after thee. Thy right hand upholdeth me.”
Now all this is really his work: by the grace of God you are what you are.
It is he that has made you thus to differ from others, and from yourselves. And if the Lord had a mind to kill you, why should he have done all this? The conclusion is as obvious as it is encouraging. He could have destroyed you without all this. Surely he does not excite expectations to disappoint us : or desires to torment us. Surely he does not produce a new taste, a new appetite, without meaning to indulge, to relieve it. Besides-as he does nothing in vain, so he does nothing imperfectly. What he begins, he is able to finish ; and when he begins, he designs to finish. With regard to other agents, we cannot certainly infer the completion from the beginning—their views alter; they meet with unexpected difficulties ; their purposes are frequently broken off--but it is otherwise here. “ The foundation of God standeth sure," and the “ top stone shall be brought forth with shoutings ; grace, grace unto it.” It shall never be said of the God of our salvationhe began to build but was not able to finish. “ We are confident,” says the apostle, 66 of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
May you likewise be humbly confident of the same truth. May you be enabled to say, with David, “ The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me. Thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the work of thine own hand.” And when you are converted” from your doubts and fears, and dejections, “strengthen your brethren. Comfort the feeble-minded; support the weak ; be patient towards all men. the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”
Lift up DISCOURSE XVIII.
THE PROFANE EXCHANGE.
Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau,
who for one morsel of meat sold his birth-right. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. -Heb. xii. 16, 17.
The history of the wicked, as well as of the righteous, is useful. By their crimes we are cautioned, and by their miseries we are warned. And, as the Israelites fled from the tents of Korah, when the ground clave asunder, and swallowed them up, saying, Lest the earth swallow us up, also— so should we abandon the course of the ungodly world, lest we share in their tremendous ruin.
Anxious for our welfare, the Scripture addresses our fear as well as our hope, and holds forth instances of divine vengeance, as well as proofs of divine mercy. Hence the command of our Lord: “ Remember Lot's wife.” And hence the admonition of the apostle : “ Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birth-right. For ye
know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected : for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”
And what is all this to us? Much every way. I compare your privileges with his privileges-your sin with his sin-and your doom with his doom.