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MICAH vi. 6, 7, 8.

Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

In the beginning of this chapter, we find mention of a controversy between God the plaintiff, and his people the delinquent. The action, an action of unkindness and ingratitude after two great deliverances; from the tyranny of Pharaoh in Egypt, from the subtilty of Balaam in Moab. And this is a high aggravation of injury, when it is done by a friend, the philosopher tells us, Rhet. lib. I. Kai ov, téxvov, you know, was the deepest wound that Cæsar felt. And Moses is at the self-same figure; "Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people, and unwise? Is not he thy Father ?" (Deut. xxxii. 6) Job complains of it as of one of his greatest afflictions," They whom I loved, are turned against me." (Job xix. 19) Yea, he that was greater than Job at Job's greatest excellence of patience, cannot but complain of this, that his wounds, like Amnon's, were given him in the house of a friend. (Zach. xiii. 6) The kiss of a disciple did no less pierce him, than the nails of a soldier. His enemies that wounded him, found mercy, when his friends that betrayed him, found none.

The people being cited to appear to this action, and being condemned by their own witness, begin to betake themselves to counsel: not how they may come and stand before God, (which is the gesture of men that can abide a trial, Isa. 1. 8) but how they may come and bow before him to deprecate the judgement, which they are forced to acknowledge. And when they have advised upon a course of their own,

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and made tender of performances of their own to make an expiation, they all come short, and are rejected. God himself is pleased to be of their counsel: and he who, in the beginning of the suit, was the plaintiff to accuse them,- in the issue, becomes their advocate to instruct them: and when he had a judgement entered against them upon their own confession, doth himself notwithstanding direct the way, how that judgement may be reversed, and avoided.

"He hath showed thee, O man," &c.

But what then are the counsels that he gave? Surely one would judge but such as were very obvious, and which any man might have given to himself;-" to be just, merciful, humble, religious."-Who could not have said as much as this?

Certainly, how mean instructions soever we may judge them, there is not a man can learn them but of God. Let Israel alone here to counsel himself: we find him at his sacrifices, and holocausts, with rams, and oils, with thousands, and ten thousands, with a child, a first-born, with as many costly and hyperbolical evasions, and circuitions of his own carnal worship, will-worship, as rhetorick can express: sacrifices more sumptuous, than justice could provide; sacrifices more bloody, than mercy would allow: but, all this while, not a word of justice, or mercy themselves.

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But what? did not God show those as well as these? did not Moses as well receive the pattern of the sanctuary, as the tables of the law? did not the law give an express dicavit for these too? Surely we may not deny it. But it is still with respect to judgement and mercy. Commanded they were, but not as principal, either in point of obedience, for they must yield to the great duties of the law; or in point of expiation, for they must lead to the great sacrifice of the gospel. Leave these things out, and then ask of God whether he required those or no? and he will answer you with a Quis requisivit?' (Isa. i. 12) Ask whether he will own them or no? and he will tell you, They are yours, and not his. (Amos v. 21) Nay, ask him whether they be good. or no? and he will tell you plainly, "Dedi eis præcepta non bona;" I gave them statutes which were not good, and judgements whereby they should not live.

Well then, my people, if you will needs be saved by offer

ing of thousands, and ten thousands, go not to the mountains for them, but go to thy conscience; there thou shalt find thousands of beastly, and ten thousand of inordinate, desires, fit to be slaughtered, and sacrificed unto him.

If ye will be saved by sacrifices, and oblations, and rams; no sacrifice to that which is reasonable; (Rom. xii. 1) no oblation to that of thyself; (Rom. xv. 16) no rams to the rams of Nebaioth, the confluence of the Gentiles to the gospel. (Isa. lx. 1)

If ye will needs swim through rivers to heaven, rivers of oil are nothing worth to rivers of judgement: "Let judgement run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." (Amos v. 24)

If thou wilt needs go to God with meat-offerings of oil, no oil to the Samaritan's oil of mercy and compassion. (Luke x. 34)

If you dare not come to God without a first-born, go not to thyself for one. Thine is like thyself, sinful and unclean; but take Him in thy arms, who is the first-born of every creature. There is none but Texvоyova, one child-bearing which can save thee. (1 Tim. ii. 15)

You see which way the words look, and what they intend: and that you may see it yet more clearly, let us take them asunder, and consider in them these two general parts.


anxious and solicitous enquiry of counsel. Hypocrites seek to be at peace with an offended God. A full and solid answer of the prophet to that enquiry. In the people's enquiry after God, are observable two things.

(Question itself, The and there are likewise

Their festination; "in quo præve

niam, occurram, antevertam." So much the word imports. (Job iv. 2. Deut. xxiii. 4. Nehem. xiii. 2. Psalm lxviii. 28. Heb. vi. 2) Their prostration and humility. "Incurvabo me coram Deo excelso.' (External services instituted by God himself. Excogitated supererogations invented by themselves.

Anticipation of the prophet's
answer by proffers and ad-
dresses of their own, in many
costly and difficult acts of

In the prophet's answer are likewise considerable two general parts.


f Implicit reprehension of rejection of those.
Positive and express direction unto other duties.
Carnal confidence in external duties, severed
from the great duties of the law.
Arbitrary ways and projects of human devo-
tion, beside and without the rule of God's

First, a reprehension of

Secondly, a positive and express direction how to come. and appear before God in his worship with acceptation, in his judgement with confidence, in his kingdom with glory; to wit, in the great duties of the law and Gospel. And here are considerable four particulars:

1. The sub

1. Judgement, and that to be done. stance of2. Mercy, and that to be beloved.

the duties



3. Walking with God, and for that to be humbled.

2. The princi- (1.

ples whence


The light of God's law; Ille indicavit,' he hath showed.

they must 2. The authority of God's will; ‹ Quid requisivit,' what he hath required. 3. The manner how, couched in these words, "To walk humbly with thy God;" which I take not only for the specification of a distinct duty, but a qualification also of both the other, which are,

To be done

1. In constancy; it must be ambulation, a tenor, progress, proficiency; jumping or leaping will not serve the turn.

2. In sincerity, with an eye to God, so as to agree with him, and to please him.

3. In humility, denying ourselves (persons


and duties.

4. In faith, the foundation of all the rest,

we must walk with him as our God.

And 4. The inducement unto those duties, which we find likewise couched in the text.

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I begin with the anxious and solicitous question of the guilty people: "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord," &c.

I wonder to hear guilt talk of appearing before God. Look on it, when it came first into the world, and you will find it running away from God. "Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden." (Gen. iii. 18) And surely if the sun and moon be ashamed; (Isa. xxiv. 23) if the heavens be not clear; (Job xv. 15) if the Seraphims cover their face and feet; (Isa. vi. 2) if Moses may not draw too nigh, (Exod. iii. 5) but did exceedingly quake and tremble; (Heb. xii. 21) if Elias cover his face; (1 Kings xix. 13) if Isaiah cry out, I am undone;' (Chap. vi. 5) if Job abhor himself in dust and ashes; (Chap. xlii. 6) if the twenty-four elders cast down their crowns; (Rev. iv. 10) I wonder with what confidence hypocrites dare think of meeting God. Is he not a consuming fire? (Heb. xii. 29) and how dare thorns and briers stand before him? (Isa. xxvii. 4) Doth he not dwell in light which no man can approach unto? (1 Tim. vi. 16) and what hath darkness with light? For every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to it." (John iii. 20)

Something surely there is in it, that guilty men bethink themselves of meeting God. By nature, they do not so much as seek after him; "God is not in all their thoughts." (Psalm x. 4) They love not to retain him in their knowledge. (Rom. i. 28) They are alienated, and estranged from his life. (Eph. iv. 18) They would fain be without God in the world. (Eph. ii. 12) They would have the Holy One of Israel cease from among them. (Isa. xxxix. 11)

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