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waiteth to be gracious; that he liation is still open; the blood of willeth not the death of a sinner; the Saviour is still available for our that so far from taking advantage, pardon, and his Holy Spirit is proas it were, of the first occasion of in- mised to give us a new heart and flicting punishment, he reprieves, to renew a right spirit within us. invites, remonstrates, and holds out To impress this subject more fully the free offers of mercy to the last. on our minds, we shall consider, Though he is a Judge strong and First, Some of the ways in which powerful, he is provoked every day. God speaks to men ; Though his wisdom could in one Secondly, The intention of his moment confound our folly, and his speaking; and, strength triumph over our weak- Thirdly, The reception usually ness, yet, like that heavenly charity given to his declarations. which springs from himself, he "suf- First, we are to inquire into some fereth long and is kind.” He pities our of the ways in which God speaks ignorance; he bears with our way. to men.-In the early ages, before wardness; he deigns even to conci- the sacred Scriptures were comliate our affections ; and it is not till pleted, the Almighty was often after innumerable provocations, that pleased to reveal his will by extrahe at length “swears in his wrath ordinary methods, and among others that we shall not enter into his rest.” by those mentioned by Elihu, in How nearly any of us may have ap- the words which follow the text: proached the period in which this “in a dream,in a vision of the night, tremendous declaration shall go when deep sleep falleth upon men.” forth can be known only to the Al. But since the completion of his mighty himself: two points however revealed word, the only sure declaare perfectly clear. The one is, that ration of his will which we need, or each new instance of rebellion and ought to wish for or expect, is coningratitude is hastening on that aw- tained in that infallible record. “God, ful period, and may prove, when we who, at sundry times and in divers least expect it, the filling up of the manners, spake in time past unto measure of our iniquities. The par- the fathers by the prophets, hath don now offered may not be offered in these last times spoken unto us again ; the grace now despised may by his Son." We are not to look be finally withdrawn; the Saviour to impressions on our fancies, either who now extends the arms of his waking or sleeping, to learn the will mercy to receive all who flee to Him of God; but to what he himself has for refuge may soon pronounce that disclosed respecting it in his word. dreadful sentence,—~ Because I Are we living in our sins? He have called and ye refused, I have plainly declares, that “the wicked stretched out my hand and no man shall be turned into hell, and all the regarded ; but ye have set at nought people that forget God." Are we all my counsel, and would none of humbled under a sense of our my reproof; I will ako laugh at transgressions, and desirous of foryour calamity; I will mock when saking them ? His voice is, “ Whoyour fear cometh.” The other equal- so repenteth and forsaketh shall ly clear point is, that, so long as the find mercy.” Are we inquiring the heart is tender and there is really way of pardon and salvation ? His a wish and endeavour to return to answer to our inquiry is, “ Believe God, God is willing to turn to us. in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou Though when God spoke once, yea shalt be saved :" “ He hath made twice, we disregarded it; yet if even him who knew no sin to be sin for now we desire at length to obey his us, that we might be made the voice, we need not despair 'of his righteousness of God in him.” Do mercy. His compassion is not we wish to know what he comgone for ever ; the
of reeonci- mands? Every part of his holy
word teaches us our duties to him- and are heavy laden, and I will give self and to our fellow-creatures, and you rest." “ God so loved the abounds with gracious promises of world, that he gave his only begotDivine assistance to enable us to ten Son that whosoever believeth perform them. In short, there is in him should not perish, but have nothing necessary for us to know everlasting life.” for our spiritual and eternal wel- This leads us to consider, fare which is not therein clearly Secondly, The intention of God's explained.
speaking. This intention we have The truths thus revealed in God's already in part seen in the foreword are impressed upon us by going remarks. The great object many assistant means. The voice of the Almighty in his communicaof creation is the voice of God, tions to a guilty world is to shew us telling us of his wisdom, and power, our sin and danger; to point out and goodness. The ministers of the way of pardon and reconciliaChrist also are his voice, repeating tion; to urge us to accept his gracious his declarations to a thoughtless offers of mercy; and to return to world, as Elihu mentions, in the him in newness and holiness of life. sixth verse, “I am, according to thy His language is, as it were, Sinner, wish, in God's stead;" and again, thou art mortal! thou art perishin the twenty-third, “A messen- ing! prepare to meet thy God! the ger, an interpreter, to shew unto Judge standeth at the door! Awake man His uprightness." And parti- thou that sleepest, and arise from cularly are the events of Divine the dead, and Christ shall give thee Providence, whether prosperous or life. But not to dwell upon all the afflicting, his voice. The chapter points contained in these merciful before us shews how the Almighty disclosures, I shall allude only to thus 66
opens the ears of men and two or three, which are particularly sealeth their instruction.” Some- mentioned in the chapter from which times he speaks by pain and sick, the text is taken. ness ; warning the sufferer to hum- Now one intention of the Alble himself under the mighty hand mighty in speaking once, yea twice, of God; to be grieved for his past that is repeatedly and earnestly, it sins; and to turn in his affliction is said is “ to withdraw man from to his long forsaken Creator. At his purpose." The purposes of the others, by a merciful restoration to unrenewed mind are all more or less strength and comfort ; “the flesh of sinful. The too frequent purpose the sufferer becomes fresher than a of men is to live as happily as they child's: he returns to the days of his can without God in the world; to youth," being thus invited by the en- indulge in the pleasures of sin, dearing voice of love and gratitude more or less gross or refined, for the to “acquaint himself with God and short season of life; and to put far be at peace.” Again, the Almighty off, as long as possible, all thoughts speaks in the still small whispers of of eternity and all preparation for it. conscience, or the more terrible ac- The voice of God, especially in pain cents of terror and remorse. “A and sickness, to which the chapdreadful sound is in the ears of the ter particularly refers, is to withwicked:” he cannot escape from draw us from this evil purpose; to the murmurs of conscious guilt; impress us with serious thoughts ; from the dread of sickness and old to humble us in contrition; to lead age ; from the terrors of death, of us to the Saviour ; and to produce judgment, and of eternity. God in us a holy desire and resolution, speaks equally in his promises of by God's grace, to live no longer pardon, and his invitations to lay to ourselves or to the world, but to hold on his mercy. His voice is, the praise and glory of our Creator ** Come unto me, all ye that labour and Redeemer. When, in any case of temptation or evil inclination, a Thirdly, How they are regarded; friend or minister, or our own con- what reception is usually given to science, or the word of God, warns his declarations. « God speaketh us of our sin and danger, this is once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth as truly the voice of the Almighty, it not.”—Strange inattention, or urging us to withdraw from our evil stranger obstinacy! We might purpose, as when he spake with a have thought it impossible men warning voice to Abimelech or could be indifferent when their CreLaban the Syrian, in a dream, or to ator speaks. He speaks who has the prophets by express visions and power to punish ; he who has power revelations.
to reward; he who can open the Another intention of God's speak- gates of heaven, or cast both soul ing, especially in the voice of pain and body into hell. And he adand affliction, is “to withdraw pride dresses whom?-not a superior or from man." How many ways does an equal, but his erring and guilty he graciously employ to repress
that creatures. He addresses them in the haughtiness of spirit by which men language of warning and of invitascorn to submit their purposes and tion; of judgment and of mercy; he actions to his authority, and follow speaks sometimes as a father pitying their own inclinations in contempt his children; sometimes as a judge of his word and commandment ! infinitely equitable, yet infinitely Happy are they who listen to this merciful, and not willing that any humbling voice; who are delivered should perish; yet amidst all, “man from a self-righteous spirit; and perceiveth it not.” The love of sin are brought humbly to the foot of blinds his eyes, and shuts his ears, their Saviour's cross, denying them- and hardens his heart : he “will selves, crucifying their flesh with its not listen to the voice of the charmaffections and lusts, and copying in er, charm he never so wisely." their lives his lowly example. Such at least is the case in too
And lastly, the intention of these many instances; but happily not gracious interpositions of God, on in all.. There are those who, like behalf of man, as repeatedly men- Lydia “whose heart the Lord tioned in the chapter before us, is opened,” “ attend unto the things “ to keep his soul from the pit.” which are spoken;" who « diligentNot only does the Almighty literally ly hearken to the voice of the Lord restore many a one who like Job their God, to do that which is right was at the point to die; but spiri- in his sight, and to give ear to his tually also “He is gracious unto commandments, and to keep all his him and saith, Deliver him from going statutes.” To such are his promises down into the pit ; I have found à made. His voice shall be their ransom.” “He shall pray unto God, guide through every intricate path and he shall be favourable unto him; of life: it shall cheer them in trouble and he shall see his face with joy; and in death ; and shall greet them for he will render unto man his in the world to come with that welrighteousness. He looketh upon come sound, “Well done, good and men; and if any say, I have sinned faithful servant : enter thou into the and perverted that which was right, joy of thy Lord.” and it profited me not; he will de- But, oh! how terrible the end liver his soul going into the pit; of those who despise his warnings and his life shall see the light. Lo, and invitations ! Soon the time must all these things worketh God often- come when they can no longer shut times with man."
out his voice. If the still accents Such then are the merciful in- of mercy are too gentle to move tentions of our heavenly Parent in their hearts, there are more aphis remonstrances with his rebellious palling sounds in reserve. Conchildren. But we are to inquire, science has a voice that will be heard in the hour of sickness and tion of his revealed word, must solitude. Death has a voice that surely well deserve the attentive will utter mournful presages of ever. study of all Christians ; and espelasting woe. And then, when all the cially of those whose leisure and sounds of this dizzy life are for ever opportunities of information allow over, will be heard in the awful of their acquiring a large and intelstillness of the judgment hour that ligent acquaintance with this extenappalling voice, “Go, ye cursed, into sive department of holy writ. The everlasting fire, prepared for the following may be mentioned as devil and his angels." Yes—even among the uses of the prophetic He whose mercy is over all his parts of Scripture. works; He who now calls upon us, 1. In the first place, and chiefly, once, yea twice, and without inter- they confirm the truth of Divine remission, in the accents of intinite velation. Should the faith of the mercy and compassion, to repent Christian be assailed by the sophisand turn to the Saviour and live; tries of scepticism or infidelity, there whose constant language is, “ Why is no one evidence of the Divine inwill ye die, o house of Israel!” spiration of the Bible to which the will then as a just and inflexible resort is more easy, and the force of judge pronounce and carry into which is more conclusive, than that execution that irrevocable sentence. of its minute and numerous propheLet us then “ seek the Lord while cies. Reason teaches that none he may be found;" let us “call but the Omniscient himself can inupon him while he is near; let the fallibly know the events of futurity, wicked forsake his way, and the and that none but persons inspired unrighteous man his thoughts, and by him could certainly predict them. let him return unto the Lord, for he An unenlightened age might be will have mercy upon him, and to imposed upon by a pretended preour God, for he will abundantly diction built upon knowledge with pardon.”
which they were not themselves acquainted, as Columbus is said to have astonished the native Ameri
cans by announcing an eclipse of Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer. the sun. But moral events, the The importance of the prophetic fluctuations of nations and empires, parts of Scripture may be naturally and the distant occurrences of unpresumed, independently of direct born ages, are so completely hidden demonstration of their value, from from human foresight, that not even the large space which they occupy a rational conjecture can often be in the revealed word of God. Rec- hazarded. The most shrewd obkoning from Moses to Malachi, a server, the most calculating philosuccession of prophets flourished in sopher, must confess his utter ignoa regular series for more than one rance. He only who made all thousand years; besides other ma- worlds, who directs all hearts, and nifestations of God's will and in- who interposes in all events, effectspired predictions of future events, ing all that is good, yet, by an inbefore the time of the former, and scrutable mystery free from the act after that of the latter, includ- or promptings of all evil, can foretel ing in the first period the paradi- the rise, the fall
, and the manysaical and patriarchal ages, and in coloured lot of nations or indivithe last the New Testament prophe- duals. A probable guess might cies, which are by no means less indeed prove in some particular inimportant or remarkable than those stances correct ; but such a solution of the Old. What God has thought will not account for the long and thus worthy of inditing and pre- accurate tissue of Scripture proserving, as a very considerable por- phecy, in which are foretold occur
rences of the most minute character, for the truth of the inspired records ; in common with others of the most
an argument not at all weakened magnificent ; events personal, and by the objection of the infidel, that events national ; events many centu- any nation similarly circumstanced, ries distant, and events near at hand; and intermarrying only in its own events local, and events extending community, would preserve equally to the very limits of the world ; and strong internal marks of peculiarity all connected with such a detail of and identity. For the question is particulars, and such an unbroken not, by what physical or moral causes chain of facts, that no human sa- these effects may have been progacity could by any possibility be duced; but how came it to be foreequal to the foreknowledge of their known many hundreds and thouoccurrence. The Old Testament sands of years ago that such causes prophecies respecting the Messiah, or such effects would come into with their fulfilment in the New, existence ? how could anomalies were there no others, are of them which excite wonder even when selves amply sufficient to confirm actually and familiarly beheld be the most wavering faith. The whole minutely prophesied of many ages scheme thus unfolded, part by part, before there was any shadow of through successive ages, must have natural reason to anticipate their been all present at once to the Om- occurrence ? Surely the finger of niscient mind. The dismembered God is in this. materials of the prophetic edifice, 2. But another important use of delivered to mankind fragment by the inspired word of prophecy is fragment, apparently without sym- doubtless to exhibit to our view an metry or order, were all at length enlarged idea of the providential found to belong to each other, part arrangements of Almighty Wisdom, uniting with part, member with especially in reference to the ecomember, till the whole was exhi- nomy of human redemption. Withbited complete in the advent, life, out prophecy we might have been death, resurrection, and ascension at some loss to ascertain clearly of the long-predicted Saviour of the what is the great purport of the world.
universal history of our race; what One peculiarity by which the final consummation the infinite Disprophecies become so powerful a poser of events intended to result means of confirming our faith in the from the arrangements of his alltruth of the sacred Scriptures, is, wise providence. But in this resthat they are not only a standing, pect prophecy furnishes an infallible but a growing, proof of their infal. clue to history. Both point one libility. For the truth of a miracle way; both tend to one end. The we must depend upon the testimony whole series of human annals is a of the relators, combined with cor. development of the Divine glory; roborating circumstances; but pro- particularly as connected with the phecy has been a miracle for all redemption of mankind, and the ages. Its predictions not being so final glorification of the church of clear as, on the one hand, either to Christ in heaven. That first profrustrate or to precipitate their own phetic promise, “ The Seed of the accomplishment, or, on the other, woman shall bruise the serpent's to interfere with the freedom of head,” was not only a prelude to human actions, have, by their suc- numberless other disclosures of cessive fulfilment, added in every future occurrences, but a key to period of time new testimonies and the solution of the greatest events illustrations for the establishment which have been accomplished on of our faith. In the present age, this terrestrial stage. When we the actual state of the Jews, for ex- follow the march of successive ages, ample, is an irrefragable argument and, especially, when we trace the