« ÎnapoiContinuați »
the Psalmist had more immediately in view; and this is the principal cause of joy to the earth and its guilty inhabitants. This is a kind of government peculiar to the human race; the upright angels do not need it, and the fallen angels are not favoured with it. This is invested in the person of Immanuel, “who is made head over all things to his church,” Eph. i. 22, “ to whom all power in heaven and earth is given,” Matt. xi. 27. and xxviii. 18. This is the kingdom described in such august language in Dan. ii. ver. 44, 45, and vii. 14. Luke i. 32, 33. Hence that Jesus who was mocked with a crown of thorns, and condemned as a criminal at Pilate's bar, wears on his vesture and on his thigh this majestic inscription, King of kings, and Lord of lords. Rev. xix. 16. And behold I bring you glad tidings; this kingdom of God is come unto you, and you are called to become its subjects, and share in its blessings. Wherever the gospel is preached, there Jehovah sits upon a mercy-seat in majesty tempered with condescending grace. From thence he invites rebels that had rejected his govern. ment to return to their allegiance, and passes an act of grace upon all that comply with the invitation. To his throne of grace he invites all to come, and offers them the richest blessings. From thence he publishes peace on earth, and good will towards men. From thence he offers pardon to all that will submit to his government, and renounce their sins, those weapons of rebellion. From thence he distributes the influences of his Spirit to subdue obstinate hearts into cheerful submission, to support his subjects under every burden, and furnish them with strength for the spiritual warfare. He subdues their rebellious corruptions, animates their languishing graces, and protects them from their spiritual enemies.* He enacts laws for the regulation of his church, appoints ordinances for her edification, and qualifies ministers to dispense them. He hath ascended upon high ; he hath received gifts for men; and these he hath distributed, and given. “ some prophets; and some apostles; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,” 'Eph. iv. 8. 11,
• See his reiga most beautifully described under the type of Solomon. Psalin lxxii.
12. And it is by virtue of authority derived from him, that his ministers now officiate, and you receive his ordinances at their hands. Now how happy are we, that we live under the mediatorial administration! under the empire of grace Let the earth rejoice ; let the multitude of the isles be glad upon this account. And let us pray that all nations may become the willing subjects of our gracious Sovereign. If this administration of grace had not yet been erected, in what a miserable situation should we have been! guilty, miserable, and hopeless! Let us rejoice that the King of heaven, from whom we had revolted, has not suffered us to perish without remedy in our unnatural rebellion, but holds out the sceptre of his grace to us, that we may touch it and live.
IV. And lastly, the Lord will reign ere long upon a throne of universal judgment, conspicuous to the assembled universe. “ Let the earth therefore rejoice, and the multitude of the isles be glad."
Here I may borrow the inimitable language of the Psalmist, Ps. xcvi. 10. 13. “ The Lord shall judge the people righteously. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad: let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: let the fields be joyful, and all that is therein ; then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord, for he cometh ! for he cometh to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness and the people with his truth.” This will indeed be a day of insupportable terror to his enemies, Rev. vi. 15, 16, but, on many ac counts, it will prove a day of joy and triumph. This day will unfold all the mysteries
of divine Providence which are now unsearchable. There are many dispensations now for which we cannot account. Many blessings are bestowed, many calamities fall, and many events happen, of which mortals cannot see the reason. Prosperity is the lot of some who seem the peculiar objects of divine vengeance; and many groan under affictions who seem more proper objects of providential beneficence. We are often led into ways the end of which we cannot see, and are bewildered in various per. plexities about the designs of divine Providence towards us. Hence also impiety takes occasion to cavil at the ways of God as not equal, and to censure his govern. ment as weakly administered. But in that day all his
ways will appear to be judgment. The clouds and darkness that now surround them will vanish, and the beams of wisdom, goodness, and justice, shall shine illustrious before the whole universe, and every creature shall join the plaudit, He hath done all things well ! Now we can at best but see a few links in the chain of providence, but then we shall see it all entire and complete; then the whole system will be exposed to view at once, which will discover the strange symmetry, connections, dependencies, and references of all the parts, without which we can no more judge of the excellency of the procedure than a rustic could tell the use of the several parts of a watch, if he saw them scattered in various places. Let the earth therefore be glad in expectation of this glorious discovery:
Again, let the earth rejoice that in that day the present unequal distributions of Providence will be for ever adjusted, and regulated according to the strictest justice. This is not the place or season for retribution, and there. fore we need not be surprised that the blessings and calamities of this life are not disposed according to men's real characters; but then every man shall be dealt with according to his works. Oppressed innocence will be redressed, and insolence for ever mortified: calumny will be confuted, and flattery exposed : Lazarus shall be comforted, Dives tormented: impious kings shall be driven into the infernal pit, while pious beggars shall be advanced to the heights of happiness. In short, all matters will then be set right, and therefore let the earth rejoice.
Again, let the earth rejoice that in that day the righteous shall be completely delivered from all sin and sorrow, and advanced to the perfection of heavenly happi
Then they shall enter upon the full fruition of that bliss, which is now the object of all their anxious hopes and earnest labors.
But we must change the scene into tragedy, and take a view of the trembling criminals hearing their dreadful doom, and sinking to hell with horrible anguish. And must the earth rejoice in this too? Yes, but with a solemn, tremendous joy. Even the condemnation and everlasting misery of these is right and just, is amiable and glorious; and God, angels and saints, will at the
great day rejoice in it. The awful grandeur of justice will be illustrated in it; and this is matter of joy. The punishment of irreclaimable impenitents will be an effectual warning to all reasonable beings, and to all future creations, as has been observed; and by it they will be deterred from disobedience; and this is the cause of joy. These criminals will then be beyond repentance and reformation, and therefore it is impossible in the nature of things they should be happy; and why then should Heaven be encumbered with them? Is it not cause of joy that they should be confined in prison who have made themselves unfit for society? In the present state sinners are objects of our compassion and sorrow, and the whole creation mourns for them. Rom. viii, 22. But God will then rejoice in their ruin, and laugh at their calamity, Prov. i. 26; and all dutiful creatures will join in his joy.
Thus you see that the Lord reigneth. And who, poor feeble saints, who is this that sustains this universal government, and rules the whole creation according to his pleasure? It is your Father, your Savior, your Friend! It is he that entertains a tenderer regard for you than ever glowed in a human breast. And can you be so foolish as to regard the surmises of unbelief? Can you force yourselves to fear that he will ever leave or forsake you? Can you suspect that he will suffer you to fall a helpless prey to your enemies? No, your Lord reigneth, therefore rejoice. Rejoice in the Lord alway; and again I say rejoice. While he keeps the throne of the universe, you shall be safe and happy. Your Father is greater than all, and none can pluck you out of his hands. Remember, he sits upon a throne of grace, therefore come to him with boldness. You may smile at calamity and confusion, and rejoice amid the ruins of the world ; you may borrow the language of David, Psalm xlv.; or of Habakkuk, chap. iii. ver. 17, 18. Remember also, that, as he is a king, he demands your cheerful obedience, and therefore make his service the business of your life.
And, unhappy sinners ! let me ask you, Who is this that reigns King of the universe? Why, it is he whom you have rejected from being King over you ; it is he against whom you have rebelled, and who is therefore your just enemy. And are you able to make good your cause against him who has universal nature at his nod? How dreadful is your situation! That which may make the earth rejoice, may make you fear and tremble. The Lord reigneth, let sinners tremble. You must fall before him, if you will not cheerfully submit to his government. Let me therefore renew the usual neglected declaration, “He sits upon a throne of grace." Let me once more in his name proclaim reconciliation! reconciliation!! in your ears, and invite you to return to your allegiance. Lay down your arms, forsake your sins. Hasten, hasten to him. The sword of his justice now hangs over your heads, while I am managing the treaty with you; and therefore delay not. Yield; yield, or die ; surrender, or perish; for you have no other alternative. Submit, and you may join the general joy at his government. You upon earth, and devils and damned ghosts in hell, are the only beings that are sorry for it; but upon your submission your sorrow shall be turned into joy, and you shall exult “when the Lord of all comes to judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth." Psalm xcvi. 13.
THE NAME OF GOD PROCLAIMED BY HIMSELF.
Exod. XXXII. 18, 19.-And he said, I beseech thee, show me
thy glory. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee.
CHAP. XXXIV. 6, 7.- And the Lord passed by before him,
and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth ; keeping mercy for thousands, or giving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.
It is a very natural and proper inquiry for a creature, “Where is God my Maker ?" And a heart that loves