صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

to serve him. His throne shall be as the sun, and as a faithful witness in heaven. (Psalm 1xxxix. 36, 37) These are promises made to the universal church, and to all who should throughout the world believe in Christ, as Chrysostom, Austin, Prosper, and others have expounded them. f

2. We say that particular churches are defectible; they may fall from God, and God may depart from them. He hath not, to any particular church or nation, made an absolute promise of abiding with them for ever. No church ever did challenge this privilege but the Roman church; which yet the apostle warneth to take heed, lest God spare not them, as he spared not the natural branches, but brake them off. (Rom. xi. 20, 21) This truth we find verified in the examples of the ten tribes, who were at last Lo-ammi, quite unchurched and cast off by God; (Hos. i. 9) and of the Jewish church, the natural branches, from whom the kingdom of God hath been taken, and wrath come upon them to the uttermost, (Matth. xxi. 43. 1 Thess. ii. 16) according as God threatened, if they forsook him, he would forsake them. (2 Chron. xv. 2) And in those famous churches of Asia, from whom the candlestick is removed, and they swallowed up in the deluge of Mahometanism.

3. For opening this sore judgement, of God's departing from a people, we may observe,-That the scripture setteth forth desertion unto us three manners of ways: in a way of propitiation in a way of probation and in a way of punishment.

1. In a way of propitiation. So God the Father forsook Christ in his agony and passion, when his soul was made an offering for sin; not because he ceased to love him, or delight in him, there was no solution of union, nor substraction of love or favour,—but a withdrawing and hiding of vision and comfort, whereby Christ was to make an atonement for us, by bearing for us the weight and sense of divine wrath. (Matth. xxvii. 46. Isai. liii. iv. 5)

2. In a way of probation; when the Lord in some particular case departs from a man to try him, and discover his own weakness unto him. For if God never so little turn away

f Chrys. in Mat. v. 1, 2. et in Mat. 28. 20.—Aug. Epist. 80.-Prosper, de vocat. Gent. 1. 2. c. 1. g Subtractio visionis, non solutio unionis. Leo. Aug.

Ep. 12. c. 11.

his face and supportance from us, and suspend the operations of his spirit upon us, we quickly find by sad experience, that, of ourselves, we have no sufficiency to think or do any thing that is good. (2 Cor. iii. 5) Thus the Lord left Hezekiah in that one particular of the Babylonian ambassadors, that he might have trial of his weakness, and learn to ascribe all his other standing to the grace of God. (2 Chron. xxxii. 31. Psalm xxx. 7)

3. In a way of punishment. When the presence of God having been undervalued, and his spirit grieved, and his grace turned into wantonness, he doth in anger depart from those who put such affronts and indignities upon him. And thus God forsakes us, when we forsake him; (2 Chron. xv. 2) and when we behave ourselves ill in our doings, he will hide his face from us. (Micah iii. 4) It is a hiding wrath; (Isa. lvii. 17, and lix. 2, and lxiv. 7) for the Lord threateneth darkness to those, that walk not in the light when they have it. (John xii. 35)

This penal desertion is either personal, or public. Personal is, when the Lord, having endured with much long-suffering, the provocations of evil men, and finding his grace still abused, doth at last depart from them, as he did from Saul; (1 Sam. xvi. 14) and because they will not be purged, doth resolve that they shall not be purged; but seals them up under this doleful judgement, that he will strive no more with them, but let them alone to be filthy still. (Gen. vi. 3. Hos. iv. 17. Rev. xxii. 11) So the Lord forsook Judas, when he withdrew his restraining grace from him, and left him to go quickly about his wickedness, to do that now which he had before withheld from doing: (John xiii. 27) and Balaam, when he left him to run after the wages of iniquity,-in wrath, as it were, granting him to do, what he had forbidden him to do before. (Numb. xxii. 12, 20, 35) When the soul of a wretched sinner hath so long outfaced the light, and withstood the wrestlings of the word, that at last it contracteth a brawniness and senselessness of it,then the Lord frequently cometh in with penal induration, as the consequent of voluntary and contracted induration; and as to any spiritual awakenings and excitations, wholly departeth from such a soul. This is the sorest judgement next to hell itself.

Public desertion; when the Lord forsaketh a people, and

withdraws his presence from a whole church or country; as when he threatened to remove the candlestick from Ephesus; (Rev. ii. 5) to strive no more with the old world; (Gen. vi. 3) when he calls the ten tribes Lo-Ammi, and will own them for his people no longer. (Hos. i. 9)

This is either partial; as when the Lord forsook Shilo, but did not cast off all the people, but made that place an example to warn Jerusalem. (Jer. vii. 12, 14) When he threatened to scatter his people, he said he would leave a few men, a tenth from the sword, &c. (Ezek. xii. 15, 16. Isa. vi. 12, 13) Or total; as he is said to have cast off the whole seed of Ephraim. (Jer. vii. 15)

Again; It is either desertion temporary, when the Lord doth return with mercy to a people, and make them as though they had not been cast off; maketh her who had been termed forsaken and desolate, to be Hephzi-bah, and Beulah: (Isa. lxii. 4. Zeck. x. 6) as in Queen Mary's days, he seemed to forsake England, and in a few years returned to us again. Or perpetual; as when he called the name of the ten tribes, Lo-Ruhamah, resolving to take them away utterly, and to have mercy on them no more. (Hosea i. 6)

Now that we may understand what this penal desertion is, we must note, that it is not every public affliction, which the Lord brings upon a nation or people. He had not forsaken Judah, when he had sent them into bondage: (Ezra ix. 9) the Lord was a sanctuary unto them in Babylon. (Ezek. xi. 16) They may be in a wilderness and have God with them. (Exod. xxxiii. 15) Paul was persecuted, but not forsaken. (2 Cor. iv. 9)

Neither doth every spiritual judgement of ignorance or corruption in worship amount to a divine desertion. The ten tribes, a long time after the calves of Dan and Bethel, had prophets sent unto them, and were not presently called Lo-Ammi, or forsaken by God.

But the Lord is then said to depart from a people, when he giveth them a bill of divorce, and breaketh off the conjugal relation which he had with them; owns them not as members of his family; withdraws his presence from them, his care of them, and thrusts them out of his house. It is a solemn renunciation and dismission, resolving to have nothing more to do with them. (Jer. iii. 8) "Res tuas tibi habe, redde

meas," as Plautus" expresseth the form amongst the Romans. "Collige sarcinulas, dicit libertus, et exi." Take that which is yours, leave that which is mine; and get you gone out of my family.'

It denoteth, 1. A subduction of peace and comfort, with drawing the evidences of God's favour from a people. God's Church is precious and honourable in his sight; (Isa. xliii. 4) but when he casts off a people, and gives a bill of divorce, he removes from them the covenant of his peace. A rejected woman hath little sense of comfort from her husband, when he turns her out of his doors.

2. A subduction of his visible presence in his ordinances, which are the glory of a nation: as when a man forbids any servant of his family to wait upon the woman whom he repudiates. So when the ark of God's presence was taken, the glory is said to depart from Israel.' (1 Sam. iv. 22) When the Lord said to the prophet, 'Thou shalt not be a reprover to them;' (Ezek. iii. 26) and to the apostle, Depart, I will send thee to the Gentiles;' (Acts xxii. 21, and xiii. 46. Acts xxviii. 28) when a people 'see not their signs, have not a prophet left;' (Psalm lxxiv. 9) when the glory of the Lord is upon the wing, and the wheel' in motion; (Ezek. x. 18) this is a dangerous evidence that God is forsaking a people: for his ordinances are his presence.

[ocr errors]

3. A subduction of gifts and graces; as God withdrew his spirit from Saul. (1 Sam. xvi. 4, and xxviii. 15) When a nation is darkened, the wisdom of the wise, and understanding of the prudent, is hid1; (Isa. xxix. 14) or the Lord, in his severe providence, is pleased to lay wise and prudent men aside, that their wisdom shall not be believed or made use of;-this is a sore degree of divine desertion. When men are left to despise the very callings and persons that are eminent for gifts, and cry down the comforts annexed unto those gifts, and the seminaries where they usually are acquired;-these are steps of God's departings from a people.

i Juvenal. * Θεία λόγια ἀφ' ὑμῶν 1 Job

Plaut. in Amphitruo. Acts 3. Sc. 2. Martial. 1. 10. Ep. 41, 51. Satyr. 6. Caius 1. 11. sect. 1. de Divort. et Repud. ἀρθήσεται, ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται. Basil. in Isai. 16. p. 1120. D. XVIL. 4. m Tunc etiam fatis aperit Cassandra futuris Ora, Dei jussu non unquam credita Teucris. Virg. Æn. 2.

4. A subduction of defence and protection: when a nation is smitten, and there is no healing, but God takes away his peace from them; (Jer. xiv. 19, and xvi. 5) and they in danger of being given into the hands of enemies, and are as a 'speckled bird,' a gazing-stock, and a Ludibrium,' to the birds that are round about them. (Jer. xii. 7, 9)

[ocr errors]

5. A judiciary tradition ", or leaving men to the vanity of their own minds, and the lusts of their own hearts, to a giddiness of spirit, and delusion of judgement. A sad step this of divine desertion, when men are given up to walk in their own counsels; (Psalm lxxxi. 12) and are captivated to strong delusions to believe lies. (2 Thess. ii. 11) We have seen what this judgement is for God to depart from a people. It is the unchurching of them, sending them back into Egypt again, as our prophet here expresseth it, verse 3, 6.

Let us now consider, what a fearful wo this is for God thus to leave a people. It is of all other the most comprehensive, eminently containing in it all other woes, as God's presence doth all other comforts. This the most comprehensive promise in the covenant of grace, I will be their God :' and this the most comprehensive threatening, I will depart, I will love them no more.' The apostle calls it 'wrath to the uttermost.' (1 Thes. ii. 16) The prophet wants words to express it, and veils it over with this black and dismal intimamation," Thus will I do unto thee." (Amos iv. 12) When they scornfully asked the prophets, what burden they had from the Lord to deliver unto them, the Lord gives them this as a burden of burdens, a curse of curses,- "I will forsake you, saith the Lord." (Jer. xxiii. 33)

1. It cuts off our relation unto God: "Ye are not my people; I will not be your God." (Hos. i. 9) It is the unfranchising of a church, cancelling their charter, reversing and extinguishing all their privileges, making them very Gentiles, a people without God or covenant.

2. It consequently cuts off our communion with God. He

n Vid. Aug. cont. Julian. Pelag. 1. 5. c. 2. Greg. Mag. 1. 25. c. 9. • Rom. xi. 12, 15, 17. P Ut Timanthes, cum in Iphigenia Immolatione pinxisset tristem Chalcantem, tristiorem Ulixem, addidisset, Menelao quem summum poterat ars efficere, moerorem: consumptis affectibus, non reperiens quo digne modo patris vultum posset exprimere, velavit ejus caput, et suo cuique animo dedit æstimandum. Quintilian. Instit. 1. 2. c. 13.

« السابقةمتابعة »