« PreviousContinue »
where the dependence is real, and the obedience true, a successful issue may justly be expected.] The event justified his expectations
[Whilst Abijah was endeavouring to avert the conflict, Jeroboam sought by stratagem to overwhelm him and all his followers. He placed in ambush a considerable portion of his army, and attacked Abijah both in front and rear. But Abijah “cried unto the Lord; and the priests sounded with their trumpets; and the men of Judah gave a shout," expressive of their confidence in God: and immediately the hosts of Israel turned their backs; and, though they were twice as numerous as their enemies, no less than five hundred thousand of them fell down slain before the victorious hosts of Judah. Never was there such a slaughter in one single battle, either before or since: and the event of that day fully proves, that they who fight for God have nothing to fear; nor they who fight against him, to hoper - -]
Taking the text in somewhat of an accommodated sense, we will proceed to consider it, II. In reference to the contest now pending between
God and usThere is a contest now existing between God and sinners
[By every sin that men commit, they do indeed " fight against God” - What shall we say of those who cast off their allegiance to the God of Israel, who bow down to idols of their own creation; who disregard the word and ordinances of their God; and who seek only to wound and destroy those who warn them of their guilt and danger? Are not they avowed enemies to God? They are: their own reason may tell them so: the Scriptures universally declare it: justify themselves as they may, their excuses are all vain ; and they only deceive their own souls -] “Suffer ye then the word of exhortation” .
[“ O children of Israel, fight ye not against the Lord God of your fathers!” We are appointed of God to "blow the trumpet of alarm against you;” and we must blow it, at the peril of our own souls: we must “ lift up our voice as a trumpet, and shew you both your sin” and danger. It is against God, even “ the Captain of our salvation” himself, that you are fighting : it is his majesty that you oppose, his law you trample on, his mercy you despise, and his salvation you reject
| Ezek. xxii. 14. with Rom. viii. 31.
8 Isai, lviii. 1.
O think with yourselves, Can you prosper? “ Did ever any harden themselves against him and prosper"?” No indeed ; " it is in vain to kick against the pricks :" “ though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunishedi."] APPLICATION
1. From the former view of this subject, we may learn how to obtain the blessing of God upon our arms
[It is not by confidence in an arm of flesh that we can hope to prevail, but by an humble trust in God. It is said, “ The children of Israel prevailed, because they relied upon the Lord God of their fathersk.” Notwithstanding the numbers and the stratagems of their enemies, they prevailed, because God himself fought for them. Let us then by prayer and supplication call God to our aid, and rest assured that he will interpose for us in the hour of necessity.
Whilst indeed we trust in him for success, we must use every effort for the attainment of peace : but if our adversary will not listen to reas ble terms, then may we go forth with confidence against him, knowing that " with God it is alike easy to save by many or by few."]
2. From the latter view of this subject we may learn how to escape the destruction to which we are exposed
[Our God " has made ready his glittering spear;” and he has already said, " Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies ?.” What then shall we do? Shall we continue the contest? What would this be, but to “set briers and thorns in battle against the devouring fire, which would go through them, and burn them up togetherm?" No: let us throw down our weapons of rebellion against him, and cast ourselves on the multitude of his tender mercies: let us go, like Benhadad, “with ropes round our necks, and sackcloth on our loins," and confess our desert of his heavier judgments. Then will he “turn from his fierce anger,” and be reconciled towards us: yea, " he will be merciful to our transgressions, and our sins and iniquities will he remember no more." h Job ix. 4.
i Prov. xi. 21. 1 Isai. i. 24.
m Isai. xxvii. 4.
THE EQUITY OF THE DIVINE PROCEDURE.
2 Chron. xv. 2. And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto
him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin ; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him ; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will for
AS in a season of affliction it may be sometimes necessary to blend reproof with consolation, so in a season of joy and triumph it may sometimes be proper to temper our congratulations with prudential advice. When Asa was returning with his victorious army after the destruction of his Ethiopian enemies, the prophet Oded was sent forth to meet him, and was directed by God himself not to salute him with fulsome compliments, but to impress upon his mind a salutary admonition.
In this concise and pointed address, we see, I. The rule of God's procedure
God is not necessarily bound by any rules; for he both may do, and actually “ does, according to his own will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth :” yet has he been pleased to prescribe rules to himself, 1. In the dispensations of his providence
[The Jews, as God's peculiar people, were governed by him according to the strictest rules of equity. They were taught to look for temporal rewards or punishments according as they were obedient or disobedient to his word: and their whole history may serve to illustrate the correspondence there was between their dealings towards him, and his towards them --- Indeed, God himself expresses peculiar jealousy on this head; and appeals to them, whether the inequality which there was in his providence, did not originate in themselves; and whether it was not perfectly agreeable to the rules which he had established for his conduct towards them b.
a See this exemplified in Asa, 2 Chron. xiv. 5—7, 11, 12. and xv. 10–15, 19. with xvi. 7–9; in Jehoshaphat, xvii. 3—6, 10. and xx. 3, 30. with xix. 2. and xx. 35-37; in Joash, xxiv. 20.
Compare Ezek. xviii. 24–29. with Lev. xxvi. 3—45. and Deut. xxxi. 16, 17.
Somewhat of the same procedure is yet visible in the dispensations of God towards us. Nations at this time are often prospered or punished according as they pay due allegiance to God, or revolt from him: and individuals not unfrequently experience even here a recompence suited to their conduct. But as, under the law, God sometimes deviated from this rule, in order to direct the views of men to a future day of retribution“, so now he has laid it aside in a great degree, in order that our motives to action may be more spiritual, and that we may look forward to the day of judgment as the period fixed for the display of his righteousness, and for the rewarding of our actions.] 2. In the communications of his grace
[God's conduct towards the Jews in respect of temporal things was intended to shadow forth his dealings with us in respect of spiritual things. In relation to these we may see, that the rule which God has laid down to himself is almost invariably observed. It is true, that he is often “ found of them that sought him not:" but when once he has revealed himself to any man, he regulates himself towards him according to a principle of perfect equity, rewarding him for his fidelity, or punishing him for his neglect. Who amongst his people ever sought his face in vain? Who ever diligently walked with him in a state of humble dependence, and did not find God with him in the tokens of his love, and the supports of his grace? God indeed reserves in his own power the times and the seasons when he shall reveal himself more fully to the soul; and he apportions to every one such trials as he in his wisdom knows will be productive of good: but he never did, nor ever will, forsake them that seek him a.
On the other hand, who is there that has not experienced the hidings of God's face, when fresh contracted guilt, or repeated neglect of duty, has given him offence? Who has not found on such occasions that God has withdrawn the aids of his Spirit both in public and private ordinances; and perhaps left him for a season to the power and influence of his own corruptions? We know indeed that God has said, he will not finally cast off his people : and we believe he will not: we believe he will “ visit them with the rod” till he has brought them back to him with deep contrition': but as long as they forsake him, he will, as far as respects any manifestations of his favour, forsake them; and if any who have thought themselves his people, forsake him utterly, they shall also be utterly abandoned by him. Nor can any be assured that they themselves shall not suffer eternal dereliction, any longer than their adherence to God justifies the hope that they are his children.]
c Ps. lxxiii. 3—14.
d Ps. ix. 10. e 1 Sam. xii. 22. Heb. xiii. 5. Isai. liv. 74-10. i Ps. lxxxix. 30–35.
To impress this rule the more deeply on our minds, let us consider, II. The universal importance of it,
The prophet in a most solemn manner called the attention both of the king and all his army to the subject before us; intimating thereby, that there were none who were not interested in it, nor any occasion when the consideration of it would not be useful to their souls.
It is suited to us, 1. In prosperity,
[Of this there can be no doubt, since it was in a season of peculiar triumph that the prophet was sent to give this admonition. Indeed we are never more apt to forget ourselves, yea, to forget God also, than when we are elated with great prosperity. We are apt to “sacrifice to our own net, and burn incense to our own drag.”. When “ Jeshurun waxed fat, he kicked":" when “ Uzziah was made strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction'.” Strange as it may seem, even the manifestations of God's love to the soul are calculated to puff us up with pride, if we have not some thorn in the flesh given us to counteract this evil tendency, and to keep us from abusing the divine merciesk. The more sail a ship carries, the more ballast it requires. The very deliverance that Asa had experienced was likely to render him careless and secure, as though he were now beyond the reach of harm. But by this admonition he was taught, that his security was in God alone, and that he must continue to “walk humbly with God," if he would have the divine protection continued to him.
Similar admonitions are also given to us, to counteract the pride of our hearts. “Be not high-minded, but fear!” “Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fallm.” “ Blessed is the man that feareth always h.” Even the great Apostle himself, though he knew himself to be a chosen vessel unto God, yet felt the necessity of “keeping under his body, and bringing it into subjection, lest, after having preached to others, he himself should become a cast-awayo." Let us
8 Hab. i. 16. h Deut. xxxii. 15. k 2 Cor. xii. 7. i Rom. xi. 20, 21. n Prov. xxviii. 14.
i 2 Chron. xxvi. 5, 16. m 1 Cor. x. 12. 01 Cor. ix. 27.