« PreviousContinue »
he that formed them will shew them no favour." The learned Rabbies and fages of the world can gravely dispute about the grace and favour of God, with strong inclination to appropriate it to themselves. They are often ready to say of the illiterate, as the chief priests and pharisees of old, " This people who know not the law are accursed;" intimating that they themselves are high in God's account, and distinguished by his favour above their neighbours. But Jesus says to those who justify themselves, " That which is highly esteemed among men, is an abomination in the fight of God.”
The aspiring Nimrods and the flattering Abfaloms of the world, when they have the favour of princes or people, imagine they have the favour of the Almighty. But Haman and Herod foon received a confutation of this opinion; the one for his detestable pride, through divine indignation, was hanged like a dog; the other was smitten by an angel of the Lord, and his loathsome carcase eaten up of worms, be. cause he gave not God the glory.
The unworthy, the greedy and griping sons of the good old Eli, who would be served first, and served with the best, or take their part by force, though they boasted of the ark, and trusted in it, supposing they had the Almighty in some fort engaged to them thereby, yet they themselves were miserably llain, and their pofterity were brought
basely to crouch for a piece of silver, and a morsel of bread.
Though carnal persons may bless the prosperous covetous man, we are told that God abhors him. If Jeconiah wwl fet his eyes and heart only to his covetousness, and build himself a house by unrighteousness, and chambers by wrong, using his neighbours' service without wages, by divine appointment, he shall die unlamented, and be buried with the burial of an ass; the best part
of his name shall be taken away, he shall only be called Coniah ; and though he was as the fignet on God's right hand, advanced to high and distinguished honours, yet the Almighty will pluck him thence and cast him down. Though the ambitious and impious king of Tyre be, in the estimation of fome, as the anointed cherub, and say he is God, and set his heart as the heart of God, yet he shall be brought down to the pit.
Mystical Babylon may say, " I sit as a queen, and shall see no sorrow; she may glorify herself, and boast of the peculiar favour of Him whose spouse she pretends to be; yet it will appear by and by, that she is the habitation of Devils; and her plagues shall come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; nay, she shall be utterly burnt with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
If haughty and self-righteous Ifrael fill the world with the loud acclamations of “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we, the church, the church; we are God's peculiar people, his portion, his chofen heritage;" yet the Most High can take his leave of Jerufalem, as he did of Shiloh, and cast the people out of his sight; and though they were to hiin once externally for a name, a praise and a glory ; yet they shall become like a rotten girdle, that is good for nothing; yea, God will even dash them in pieces one against another, and will not pity nor spare them, because, notwithstanding their high pretensions, their hearts are far from him.
Chorazin and Bethsaida had mighty works done in them; they were highly favoured with the presence, the preaching and the miracles of Jesus, yet, because of their unbelief, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for them. Capernaum, which was exalted to heaven in privileges, for the like stupid insensibility, shall be cast down to the lowest hell in punishment.
The seven Afan churches may lose their splendor, he diminished and brought low. Laodicea thought herself rich and increased with goods, dignified with able preachers, splendid gifts of the Spirit, found doćirine, and glorious privileges, on which accounts she judged herself more in favour with God
thian many neces
than all the rest, and became vain and secure to that degree, that the threatening denounced against her is, • Thou art so offensive to me, that I will fpue thee out of my mouth.”
To be in the favour of God is a matter of infinite concernment, yet thousands in the world are mistaken about it. When death and judgment come, what discoveries will be made; what an awful disappointment will many meet with; especially such as expect the favour of God, and admission among
the saints, on account of a mere outward profession, or of some acts of external obedience! Some will plead their excellent gifts in praying and preaching, for which they have been admired and applauded by men. Some will plead their high preferment in the church; and others say, “ We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.” But the great Judge tells us, he will answer them all alike, with these awful words, “I know you not, I will not own you, depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels.” It will be in vain for them to reply, “What! must we depart, who were civil with our neighbours, good church-men, orthodox believers, and sober livers ! Must we depart who heard the word gladly, commended the preacher, practised many things which we heard, had strong convictions, hated superstition, were pleaders for God's pure worship, and even took delight in approaching unto Him! Wilt thou not, on all these accounts, grant us favour? Must we indeed be banished from thee? O moft dreadful disappointment!
Alas, alas! what a discovering, disanimating, confounding day will that be to many, who, upon self-flattering grounds were as confident of being in God's favour as if they had seen their names in his book! They would by no means be beaten off from this vain confidence; but they will now see themfelves to have been wofully deluded by Satan, and their own deceitful hearts, when it is too late to cry for mercy.
The consideration of this deeply affects the minds of upright minifters. Their hearts ache, and their souls mourn in secret, on account of the pride and stupidity of self-deceivers. If we tell them there is danger; if we bid them search and deal plainly with their hearts, they look upon us as enemies, by raising in them unnecessary terrors, and giving false alarms. Some even deride our earnest endeavours, and bid us look to ourselves; for they know they are safe, and as high in God's favour as the best of us, though their whole temper and their walk give just ground of suspicion, that their hearts are not right in the fight of God. We are under the sad