Page images

whose iniquities were visited upon Israel after he himself had been received up to glory. Sometimes his chastisements had no particular affinity with the offence committed, as in the plagues of Egypt; and sometimes the offence was clearly marked in the punishment; as in the case of Joram, who had slain all his brothers, and whose children were all, with one exception, consigned to the slaughter; and as David, whose wives and concubines were openly defiled by his own son Absalom, just as he himself had defiled the wife of his faithful servant Uriah. So minutely is this correspondence marked in the Scriptures, that even the time and the place are noticed, as designed to manifest the very offence which God designed. to punish; as Israel's wandering in the wilderness forty years on account of their murmuring at the reports which were brought them by the spies who had searched out the land forty daysm; and as Ahab's blood was licked up by dogs, on the very spot where dogs had licked the blood of Naboth, whom he had murdered".

We might further notice the correspondence between the spiritual judgments which God oftentimes inflicts for spiritual transgressions. Those who "will not hearken to his voice, he gives up to their own counsels°;" those who abandon themselves to all manner of wickedness, he gives up to vile affections and a reprobate mind; and those who "will not receive his truth in order to salvation, he gives up to their own delusions, that they may be damned.”

We have not prophets indeed at this time to declare the particular instances in which God intends this righteous procedure of his to be discovered: but we have no reason to think that he has altered his system of government, and consequently no reason to doubt but that he still displays his own righteousness in his dispensations, as he has done in every age and quarter of the world. If any imagine that this conduct of his was confined to the nation whose temporal Governor he was, we must remind them, that he dealt precisely in the same way with the heathen nations', and has taught us to expect that he will do so to the end of time.]

Whereinsoever he fails to requite either good or evil in this life, he will requite it perfectly in the world to come—

[God inflicts some judgments here on account of sin, in

i 2 Kings xxiv. 2—4.

12 Sam. xii. 10-12. and xvi. 21, 22.

n 1 Kings xxi. 19. P Rom. i. 26-28. Rev. xviii. 5, 6.

and xxii. 38.

9 2 Thess. ii. 10-12.

k2 Chron. xxi. 4, 17. m Numb. xiv. 33, 34. o Ps. lxxxi. 11, 12.

r Isai. xxxiii. 1.

order that it may be seen that he governs the world; but he does not do it in all instances, in order that men may know, that he will judge the world. It often happens that the wicked prosper, and the righteous are oppressed; and yet God does not remarkably interpose to punish the one, or to reward the other: but in the last day, all will be made right; and every creature in the universe, the good and the evil, the oppressor and the oppressed, will receive at God's hands a just recompence of reward'."]

From hence we may LEARN,

1. To investigate the reasons of God's dealings with us

[Every dispensation of Providence has a voice, to which we should give diligent attention. If we more carefully inquired into the design of God in his various dispensations towards us, we should find them an inexhaustible source of most instructive information. We might read in our afflictions some fault which God designs to correct; some mistake which he intends to rectify; some corruption which he desires to subdue; some grace which he is anxious to confirm; or some temptation, against which he purposes to fortify our minds. As in the instance before us, God brought to the remembrance of Adoni-bezek the sins which he had committed, and which perhaps in the fulness of his prosperity he had overlooked; so he often, by a particular chastisement, shews us the evil of some practice which we had justified, or revives in our minds the recollection of some which we had too slightly condemned. I would say unto you therefore, "Hear the rod, and Him that hath appointed it." If you see not the reason of it, go unto your God, and say, "Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me?" and let no cross be suffered to escape from you, without having first paid to you that tribute of good, which by the order of Providence you are entitled to exact.]

2. To repent of particular sins

[We cannot be too particular in calling to mind the sins which at any time we may have committed. Though we have not walked in the steps of this wicked tyrant, it is highly probable that we have lived in sinful habits, which custom has rendered familiar to our minds; and that we have in many things offended God, whilst we have not been conscious of committing any offence at all. Possibly Adoni-bezek at first felt a consciousness of doing wrong; but after a season, accounted his rival kings a legitimate prey, whom he might

t 2 Thess. i. 6-10.

subdue, and torture in any way that he pleased. But at last God made him sensible of the enormity of his conduct. In like manner we may learn hereafter to view many parts of our conduct with far different feelings than we have yet done. God has borne with us indeed; but we must not consider his longsuffering as any proof of his approbation: he is recording every thing in the book of his remembrance, and will call us into judgment for it, whether it be good or evil. Let us then search and try our ways: let us pray that he will not "remember against us the sins and transgressions of our youth:" let us, like Hezekiah, "humble ourselves for the pride" or any other evil passion that has at any time been in "our heart." In this way we shall avert many evils from ourselves which unlamented sin would bring upon us, and extract the sting from those which God in his providence may allot us.]

3. To abound in every good work


["The godly, no less than the sinner, shall be recompensed in the earth":""for godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." Look into the Scriptures, and you will find that there is nothing that you can do for God or for your fellow-creatures, to which God has not annexed an appropriate reward. "Draw nigh to him, and he will draw nigh to you:' "honour him, and he will honour you:" "serve him, and he will gird himself and serve you." Visit and relieve Visit and relieve your sick neighbour, and "God will be with you in trouble, and make all your bed in sickness*:' nor shall even a cup of cold water given to a disciple, in any wise lose its reward." Would you then have testimonies of God's approbation here? endeavour to "abound in the work of the Lord:" and expect also, that, in proportion as you improve your talents now, shall be the weight of glory assigned to you in a better world.]

99 66

u Prov. xi. 31. and xiii. 21.


* Ps. xli. 1, 3.


Judg. ii. 1-5. And an Angel of the Lord came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this? Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they

shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you. And it came to pass, when the Angel of the Lord spake these words unto all the children of Israel, that the people lifted up their voice, and wept. And they called the name of that place Bochim: and they sacrificed there unto the Lord.

WE admire the condescension of Jehovah towards his chosen people, in that he raised up prophets to instruct them, and not unfrequently sent angels also to minister unto them. But the person who is here called "an Angel of the Lord," seems to have been no other than "the Angel of the Covenant," the Lord himself. It is certain that Jehovah did sometimes assume the appearance of an angel; as when he visited Abraham, and informed him of the judgments that were about to be inflicted on Sodom and Gomorrha. And it is clear that the person spoken of in our text was no created angel; for if he had, how could he with any propriety use such language? It was not a creature that brought the Israelites out of Egypt; but Jehovah. It was not a creature that made a covenant with them; but Jehovah. It was not a creature to whom they were accountable for their disobedience, or whose threatened dereliction they had such reason to deplore, but Jehovah: and the circumstance of his being said to come up from Gilgal, which is supposed to militate against this interpretation, rather confirms it: for it was in Gilgal, near to Jericho, that this same divine person had appeared to Joshua, as an armed warrior. That he was Jehovah, cannot be doubted; because he suffered Joshua to worship him; and even commanded him to put off his shoe from his foot, because the very ground whereon he stood was, by reason of his presence, rendered holy. In his conversation with Joshua he had called himself "the Captain of the Lord's host;" and therefore there was a particular propriety in his appearing now to the people, to inquire, "Why they had not carried his orders into effect? and to threaten that he would fight for them no longer. Besides, at Gilgal the people had revived

the ordinance of circumcision, and had kept a passover unto the Lord; in both which ordinances they had consecrated themselves to God afresh, and engaged to serve him, as his redeemed people. In coming therefore as from Gilgal, the Angel reminded them of their solemn engagements, and humbled them the more for their violation of them.

The particular address of the Lord to them, together with the effect it produced upon them, leads us to consider,

I. The danger of indecision

The command which God had given to the Israelites was plain and express: they were "utterly to destroy the Canaanites, and to make no covenant with them" and on their performance of this condition was suspended the continuance of God's interposition in their favour. But they were not careful to execute the divine command: and therefore God threatened, that the Canaanites, whom they had presumed to spare, should become a lasting source of pain to them; that they would gradually draw them into sin, and ultimately become instruments of inflicting on them the vengeance they had merited.

Such is the sin which God's professing people still commit



[The command to every one of us is to make no league with any one of our spiritual enemies; not with the world: on the contrary, we are to overcome it;" to come out from the people of it, and be separate;" to be "dead to" all its cares and pleasures, "being crucified to it, and esteeming it as crucified unto us:" we are "not to be of it, any more than Jesus Christ himself was of it." With respect to the flesh also and our corrupt nature, no truce must be made with it, even for a moment: we must mortify our members upon earth," and crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts:" we must not spare one evil desire, though it should be dear as "a right eye," or useful as "a right hand;" we must "pluck it out with abhorrence, or cut it off, and cast it from us.' It is not sufficient to make them pay tribute: we must slay them; we must "shew them no mercy b;" our hatred of them must be irreconcilable and incessant.

[ocr errors]


[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »