Page images
[ocr errors]

this assertion. In the first chapter of Isaiah the Jews are called “a sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that are corrupters."

The Almighty declares his aversion to “ their solemn meeting :" that when they spread forth their hands, he would hide his face from them; when they made many prayers, he would not hear. And then, instead of threatened destruction, the prophet adds: “ Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes ; cease to do evil, learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow: come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

In the 30th chapter, the sinfulness of the Jews is proclaimed, in forsaking the Lord and trusting in the shadow of Egypt. The awful consequences of this departure is declared : “One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee, till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.” therefore" (mark the surprising termination) “and therefore, will the Lord wait that he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have

mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of judgment, blessed are all they that wait for him.”

Thus we behold the lovely character of our God. Vengeance is his strange work, whilst mercy is his delight.

“As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live."

Again, in the 32nd chapter the prophet declares : “Many days and years shall ye be troubled, ye

66 And

careless women ; upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briars, the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left, the forts and towers shall be for dens for ever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture for flocks."

How long shall this desolation continue? Is the prospect of misery boundless ? Ah no! for thus only shall it be, " until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field; and the fruitful field be counted for a forest: then judgment shall dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field, and the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever.”

Mercy promised, forbids despair. Long-suffering leadeth to repentance.

How touchingly beautiful is the following display of judgment and mercy:

“Who gave Jacob for a spoil and Israel to the robbers? Did not the Lord, he against whom we have sinned; for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law; therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger and the strength of battle; and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew it not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart. But now, thus saith the Lord that created thee, O! Jacob, and he that formed thee, O! Israel; fear not for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the rivers they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee."

thee.” (Isaiah 42 and 43 chapters.) The Almighty Creator, taking, as it were, a survey of his moral creatures, says of his chosen people; (Isaiah 43 chap.)

“ This people have I formed for myself, they shall shew forth my praise. But thou hast been weary of me, O! Israel ; thou hast not brought me the small cattle of thy burnt-offerings : neither hast thou honoured me with thy sacrifices. I have not caused thee to serve with an offering, nor wearied thee with incense. Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money,

neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices; but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins; thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities.”—Surely now the deserved vengeance will be pronounced. O! my soul, read with holy admiration these accents of mercy :

“ I, even I am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins; put me in remembrance, let us plead together, declare thou, that thou mayest be justified."

Must we not exclaim with David : " There is mercy with thee, that thou mayest be feared ?"

Must we not acknowledge the force of St. John's declaration ; “ we love him, because he first loved us?"

Must we not confess with St. Paul : “ not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his own mercy he saved us?" How precious are the Scriptures of truth. They are full of the loving-kindness of the Lord, of the goodness of our God.

The few specimens here given will serve to shew the extraordinary manner in which the promises are often introduced. The prophet first declares the guilt of God's professing people, in order to humble their hearts, and convince them of sin. He then proclaims the divine mercy on their true faith and repentance, as is strikingly shewn in the first chapter of Isaiah.

Well may we join the holy prophet and say: "sing, O! ye heavens, for the Lord hath done it; shout, ye lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, ye mountains, O! forest and every tree therein ; for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.”

Surely mercy rejoices against judgment, whilst it exclaims in accents of redeeming love: “ deliver him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom.' (Job xxxiii. 24.)

If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”—“ If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

“ Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up.

Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains; truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel. Behold, we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God."

“Bless the Lord, O! my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name; for he is a just God and a Saviour'; just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus.” - God is love."_" Blessed is the man that trusteth in him."

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

'Tis faith in thy atoning blood,
Averts of wrath the angry flood;
'Tis faith in righteousness divine,
Makes all thy saving merits mine.

Descend, blest Spirit, from above,
In all the energy of love;
To me thy heav'nly gifts impart,
And seal salvation to my heart.

Then in those sweet abodes of peace,
Where grateful accents never cease,
A living monument of grace,
l'll strive to sing thy loudest praise.


The whole world lieth in wickedness, in a state of spiritual darkness. Out of this darkness, sinners are called by the Gospel ; and when through grace they arise and depart out of this valley of the shadow of death, they are admitted into the marvellous light of the everlasting covenant, and become the children of light and of the day.

Thus they who were not a people, become the people of God; and they are called beloved, who were not beloved.

Those who were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ; and those who were strangers and foreigners, are made fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. Thus grace reigns through righteousness unto eter-, nal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Hence a most important and vital distinction must be made between mere intellectual light, and the divine illumination of the Holy Spirit. A distinction, which like a powerful scythe, will cut down

« PreviousContinue »