« PreviousContinue »
more we are bound to show forth our thankfulness by doing, to the utmost of our feeble
whatever may please our Benefactor; that the greater the pardon which we have received, the more should we fear to fall again into those sins which rendered it necessary; that the greater the salvation offered, the more offence and peril there must necessarily be in neglecting it. There is no privilege conferred in Scripture which does not carry along with it its corresponding duty. Christ only made the law of Moses unnecessary by furnishing us with stronger motives of hope and fear to the practice of the law of nature; He died for our salvation that He might, by the example of His love and the privileges which He has purchased, purify unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works, and while He has given, both in His life and in His preaching, a perfect pattern of Christian holiness, He hath declared that not those who say Lord, Lord, but those who do the will of His Heavenly Father, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven !
THE CHRISTIAN'S FAITH AND FEAR.
[Preached at Dum Dum, Dec. 4, 1825.]
Isaiah li. 12, 13. 1, even I, am He that comforteth you. Who art thou, that
thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass; and forgettest the Lord thy Maker, that hath stretched out the Heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth?
The chapter from which these words are taken, is part of a prophecy intended to support and comfort the faithful worshippers of God in the kingdom of Judah, under the weight of those calamities from which, on account of the many sins and provocations wherewith the greater number of their countrymen had offended the Almighty, the nation at large, and even the few righteous among the many wicked, were to suffer. It is this small minority of humble and holy men whom the prophet calls upon
in the first verse of the chapter. “ Hearken to me ye that follow after righteousness!” whom he exhorts to take example by the unconquerable faith of their great forefather Abraham, from whose loins, as from a quarry in an everlasting rock, their city and their nation had been upbuilded; who, (when the Lord had promised to make him, in his old age, the father of a mighty nation, and to give him for his inheritance a land wherein, while yet living, he only possessed ground enough for a grave) yet, having received these promises, believed against probability, hoped against hope; and disregarding all which man might reckon difficult or impossible, fixed his attention, his faith, and his earnest thankfulness on His power only who had spoken the word, and who both could and would, undoubtedly, bring to pass the thing which He had declared.
In like manner Isaiah encourages the faithful Israelites, in the midst of those most grievous calamities which, as he himself foretold, were about to overtake their nation,-however great and hopeless those calamities might seem, however unlikely or impossible the world might think it that the kingdom should ever again be restored to Israel, or Jerusalem be again raised from its ruins, or the people who had been carried into captivity be again brought back from their prison-house in the land of Shinar ; yet, not for all these discouraging circumstances,—to be cast down or dismayed, but to believe and be persuaded that the Lord would still comfort Sion, that He would still make her waste places to be inhabited, and the courts of her ruined temple to ring once more with thanksgiving and the voice of melody. Nor is it only this restora
tion of their people and political freedom, of which he bids them be thus confidently hopeful. He goes on to assure them that, in the restoration of Judah to their own land, there are other nations besides Judah concerned, that it was in the city, and among the people thus to be rebuilded and brought back again, that the Lord would bring forth to light that great salvation of the Messiah, the Son of David, (whose kingdom is so gloriously described in the seventy-second psalm) whose power was to extend to the most distant islands of the sea, to whom prayer and daily praises were to be offered up by all nations, on whose arm the Gentiles were to trust, and whom the Almighty had hid in the hollow of His hand, (or His mysterious and secret providence) as an instrument wherewith He was to renew His covenant with Sion, and to plant (as we read in the sixteenth verse,) on the ruins of a worn out and sinful world, a new Heaven and earth wherein righteousness should dwell for ever.
These are the gracious and glorious promises which the prophet Isaiah, by the command of God, intermixes with his threatenings against the people of Judah. With these he would have them comforted though desolation and destruction, and the famine and the sword should come unto them; though their sons should faint and lie at the head of their streets like wild bulls in a net; though their nation should be afflicted and drunken, with a worse drunkenness than wine, with evil passions,
with political fury, and the dregs of that cup of infatuation, trembling, and astonishment, which Divine justice pours forth to all those whose ruin is determined.
Notwithstanding these things he bids them hope for eventual deliverance. Notwithstanding these things he assures them “ I, even I, am he that comforteth
you !” And he gently chides them in the words of my text, “who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass, and forgettest the Lord thy Maker that hath stretched forth the Heavens and laid the foundations of the earth ?” Having thus explained the connexion of
text with the rest of the chapter in which it is found, as well as the general meaning of that chapter, the first observation which I am desirous of making on it is, that the grace of God is never so far withdrawn from mankind as that, in any nation or great body of men, however the wicked may exceed the good among them in number, in power, and in forwardness; and however far gone this numerous, and powerful, and active majority may be in wickedness and defiance of God, there will not still remain a certain number of sincerely pious and faithful worshippers shining forth as a light in a dark place, and, however despised or overlooked by the worldling's eye, yet neither forgotten nor forsaken by Him who seeth in secret, and who hears the whispered prayers, and reckons up the