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HEARD their groaning: and then by coming to their help; I am COME down to deliver them. 5. What means he ufes for this end, and how he calls Mofes for that purpofe; And now come, I will fend thee into Egypt.
Waving the formality of a doctrinal propofition, at the time, we fhall fpeak a little to each of thefe particu lars, in the order now laid down, viz.
I. Speak to the defignation of the people who are
II. The grievous cafe and diftrefs they were in.
I. The first thing then is, The defignation of thefe who were pitied of God, and fhewn compaffion unto by him; My people; I have seen, I bave feen the affliction of MY PEOPLE. Why, what people of the earth are not his? It may be faid, indeed, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulaefs thereof." All the people in it are his. All the people in heaven, angels and faints, are his. All the people on earth; yea, and all the people in hell. He is Lord of all, and hath power over all. There is not a fish in the fea, nor a fowl in the air, nor a worm in the earth, but they are the Lord's. But yet, for all that, God has a people that are his in a special manner. And you may fee the defcription of them, Rom. ix. 4, 5. “To whom belongeth the adoption, and the glory, the covenants, the promifes, &c. Whofe are the fathers, and of whom, concerning the flesh, Christ came, who is God over all, bleffed for ever." God claims a relation. to them.
And here it is proper to obferve, that in this, and feveral other places in fcripture, this title of God's people is fpoken of with refpect to a vifible church, a mixed people of good and bad; as when he fays to Ifrael," I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, and out of the houfe of bondage." And whereas, in many inftances, it is fpoken collectively of the whole
body of the church, this rule is to be obferved, that, where the Lord is mentioned thus, in relation to a mixed people, all the privileges that flow from fuch a relation. of God, to that people, are but common privileges: I mean, common to all that vifible church. Thus the privilege of bringing out of the land of Egypt was a common privilege; common to all the people, good and bad among them; even as our deliverance from Romifh Babylon, in the Reformation, &c. But though God be called the God of a church or people, collectively, and they called his people, which infers many excellent privileges, though common to them all, as in the forecited Rom. ix. 4.; yet he is not their God in the fame respect as he is the God of thefe that are believers and true Ifraelites amongst them. As, " They are not all Ifrael, that are of Ifrael;" fo, the true Ifrael have diftinguished favours and privileges conferred on them beyond others: he is their God, and they are his people, in a peculiar manner; and they are poffeffed of faving privileges. Ifrael, or the church in general, hath a right to Chrift, but true Ifraelites have a right in him; by their being made to take poffeffion of the general right that all the reft have, by the foederal relation to him as his people. Ifrael was a people in covenant with God; he choofed them for his people, and they choofed him by profeffion for their God; and happy Ifraelites they were, that did fo in reality. They had his truth, for their security; his mercy, for their comfort; his wifdom, for their counfellor; his Spirit, for their guide; his angels, for their guardians and miniftring fpirits.
My people; it is, (1.) A title of peculiarity, importing a feparation from other people; that they are not the people of the world, but chofen out of the world; they are not their own people, but bought with a price. (1.) A title of propriety, importing God's intereft in them; being a people of his choice, his purchase, his promife, his conqueft, his love, and his care. (3.) A title of dignity, importing their high privilege; his people are his pleasure, his treasure, his heritage, his flock, his witnefs, his crown, his glory, &c. (4.) A title of divinity, God's people; importing their profeffed or real
participation of the divine nature and image; a people formed by himfelf to fhew forth his praise.
My people; they were fo fœderally, by virtue of the covenant God made with their fathers. God faid to Mofes, when fent to deliver them, "I am the God of Abraham, and of Ifaac, and of Jacob." Now, he calls them His people, becaufe they were come of these, of whom he declared himself to be their God, and the God of their feed; and with whom he had before entered into covenant, faying, "I am thy God;" namely, in Chrift, the Mediator of the covenant, who was to defcend of them, according to the flesh. Indeed, it is only through Christ that we can be God's people; for all the promises are made to Chrift, and thro' him to us. The promife made to Abraňam was of the Meffiah; "In thy feed fhall all the nations of the earth be bleffed." And it is faid, "Out of Egypt have I called my Son," Holea xi. 1. There the prophet fees only to mean God's people, whom he delivered out of Egypt; but yet we fee, Mat. ii. 15. it is applied particularly to Chrift, because it was only through him, and for his fake, that this deliverance was both promifed and wrought. We are not then of the number of God's people, if we be not in Chrift; take away Chrift and the gofpel, and you take away your title to be God's people.
My people; how? They were his by virtue of the old relation to their fathers. There was a long time between his faying, "I will be thy God, and the God of thy feed," and the time that he faid, to Mofes, I am the God of Abraham, Ifaac, and Jacob." It was at least the space of four hundred years: yet, by virtue of that covenant, he calls them that were come of them, after fo long a time, my people. Hence, many years after a covenant is made, the covenant ftands. When God hath manifelted his covenant of grace to a people, receiving them to be his; and they have thereupon entered into a covenant of duty with him, avouching him to be their God, and promifing, through grace, fubjection to him, though it were four hundred years old; yea, though it were four thousand years, it ftands; and they who fucceed are bound by that covenant. There are perfonal-coveX 3
nants, and national covenants. In baptifm, and the Lord's fupper, there is a perfonal covenanting to be the Lord's; and to fight against the devil, the world, and the flesh. But befides, there are national covenants, wherein we in thefe lands have devoted curfelves to the Lord, and avowed ourselves to be his people. In which practice we were warranted by many fcripture precedents; fuch as, Joshua xxiv. 14,—18. 2 Kings xvii. 11. 2 Chron, xv. &c. Never was any action done more fedately and advifedly than this covenanting work was done, that is now fo much buried, forgotten, and flighted, The binding obligation thereof upon us is plain; if we have the benefit of that religion to which our forefathers fwore an hundred years ago, then we must be heirs of the oath they came under to the moft high God. We find, in fcripture, that Levi is faid to pay tithes to Melchizedec; and yet Levi was not born at this time; but it was Abraham that paid tithes, and Levi being to come of Abraham, therefore he is faid to pay them. Therefore, when our fathers fwore to this Covenant, we fwore as well as they; and we are obliged to ftand to it, though it were never fo many years after. This generation is now making light of Scotland's Covenant with God; and are fo far renouncing their relation to him, as his people by folemn Covenant. But fee how God fpeaks in fcripture of his people, and their pofterity after them; it is faid, Pfalm Ixvi. 6. that God did turn the floods into dry land, and they went thro' the flood on foot; then, there did We rejoice in him. How could this be, that they did rejoice in him, then and there, fince they were not then come into the world? Why, because they got deliverance at that time; otherwife they had been deftroyed, and had not then exified. Even thus, when this land was delivered from Popery, at the Reformation; and, by folemn Covenant, got the true reformed religion, we being partakers of the benefits, are bound to perform that which they promifed to do for it. Thus the prophet Hofea, chap. xii. 4. speaking of the wrestling of Jacob with God at Bethel, fays, "He met with him in Bethel, and there he fpake with "tho' many yers before they were born. Here the pro
prophet fhews, that they were degenerate from their believing progenitors; and that they had turned BETHEL to BETHAVEN, the houfe of God, to the houfe of vanity. Thus people are charged in fcripture with the breach of covenant that their fathers made.
What did we receive from our forefathers? Much light was conveyed from them; but what are we tranf mitting to our pofterity, but darknefs and defection? Is it any wonder then we are broken to pieces, because of a broken Covenant? The children of Ifrael made a covenant with the Gibeonites; and though it was obtained by fraud, yet when after four hundred years, that it might have been thought forgotten, for breaking of it they were plagued of God with a great famine; and God's wrath could not be appeafed, till feven of Saul's fons were hanged for the hand they had in it. How then may we fuppofe, will God avenge the violation of a lawful oath made with himself in this land? If but a parent bind and oblige his children to do fo and fo, we count it justice to do it, and great injuftice and iniquity if it be not done, when parents are dead and gone; is not their feed and heirs bound by their right, promife, or covenant as well as they were? What continual change and confufion would there be in the world, if perfons themselves were only to be tied by their own. perfonal bonds? How much more iniquity is it for men to deny their obligation by Covenant to God, made by their forefathers in their name. And, indeed, Scotland is more obliged than other nations; for God was never more with any than with them; nor any more with him than they. Many arrows hath God to fhoot against fuch a nation, if we be a nation: many arrows hath he fhot. As the Ifraelites, when they made the golden calf and worshipped it, it is remarked by one, that "never a plague came upon them after, but there was
an ounce of the golden calf in it." God could not forget that, it was fuch a heinous fin: and fo we may fay, many a plague hath God fent thefe years bygone, and many more terrible ones feem a coming; but never
plague hath yet befallen us, but there has been an ounce of this great fin of covenant-breaking in it: for X 4 God