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by him, although in his human character, as the head of every man, all souls were given unto him, and he pledged his sacred word that none should ever pluck them out of his hands; yet he will absolutely lose them, lose those whom he came to save, lose those whom it is his wish to save, but whom man, almighty man, will not permit him to save. He, the word which was made flesh, cannot perform, what he was commissioned to perform, he has returned from an embassy which has proved nearly fruitless! Although the promise, the oath of God omnipotent, was engaged for his success. Although the Redeemer affirmed, I have finished what thou gavest me to do. But he was sent to be the Saviour of all men, the Saviour of the world, and it indubitably follows, if he has not ransomed, if he has not saved all men, he did not finish the work he came to do. But may not the sinner be destroyed, and the nature saved? If he may not, as all have sinned, no individual can be saved. If the sinner be destroyed and the nature saved, all must, all will be saved.
Thirdly, At what period was the destruction of the transgressors and the sinners together? When God prepared what, in the context he engaged to perform. "Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies, and I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin, and I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterwards thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city. Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness." Then follows our text. "And the destruction of the transgressors and the sinners shall be together; and they that forsake the LORD shall be consumed." The transgressors and sinners were destroyed together, consequent upon which there shall be no more destruction; Psalm ix. 6, "O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end." Zechariah xiv. 11, "And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited." Thus are the scriptures fulfilled. "I came not to destroy the law, and the prophets, but to fulfil them." He, Jesus the Redeemer, finished the transgression, but in the same point of view that the transgression was finished, the transgressors, and the sinners were destroyed.
Fourthly, We are led from these considerations to contemplate with pious gratitude, and holy joy, the grand, the man restoring, VOL. III.
God honouring catastrophe, and we are as positive as we are of our existence, that Christ Jesus is the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world; that he will destroy the works of the devil, that he will be the destruction of hell. Hosea xiii. 14, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death I will be thy plagues: O grave I will be thy destruction." Indeed by his death, and in his death, the Redeemer destroyed both death, and the devil. 2 Timothy i. 10, "But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light by the gospel." Hebrews ii. 14, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also, himself, likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil."
Fifthly, These are the true sayings of God. Can he be a believer, who refuses to admit the authenticity of the scripture? Can he who is not a believer escape condemnation? Is not the unbeliever condemned out of his own mouth ?"He who believeth these true sayings of God shall never come into condemnation, shall never be ashamed, worlds without end. He hath passed from death unto life. He who doth not believe those true sayings of God cannot see life. The things which make for his peace are hidden from his eyes, and the wrath of God revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, abideth on him." Yea, let his character be ever so high in his own estimation, or in the opinion of his admirers, still the wrath of God abideth on him; he is condemned, he has offended at least in one point, he is guilty of all, and his condemnation will continue until in his heart he accepts and believes those true sayings of God. Yea, verily, for we have received these sayings from the living oracles of almighty God.
ISAIAH i. 29, 30.
First, WHO are those who shall be ashamed of the oaks? Undoubtedly those characters who were spoken of in the conclusion of our last subject; in the verse immediately preceding our text. Those who forsake the LORD, Jeremiah ii. 13, "For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."
Secondly, These, saith the LORD, shall be consumed. Isaiah lxiv, 7. "For thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquites."
Thirdly, What is intended by the oaks which they desired? The groves in which they performed their religious worship. The destruction of these places of worship, is pointed out in the thirteenth verse of the succeeding chapter. And upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up, and upon all the oaks of Bashan. The devotional fervour of those Israelitish idolaters, is described, chapter lvii. 5, 6, “Inflaming yourselves with idols, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks; among the smooth stones of the stream is thy portion, they are thy lot; even to them thou hast poured a drink offering, thou hast offered a meat offering." Hosea iv. 13, “They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills under oaks, and poplars, and elms, because the shadow thereof is good:" The idolatry of the people of God is, in the language of scripture, denominated adultery and fornication. Jeremiah iii. 9, "And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stocks and with stones."
Fourthly, But for all this shall they be ashamed and confounded. God speaking of his servants, contrasts them with unbelievers. Isaiah xlv. 4, "For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel mine elect." All who are incensed against the redeemer shall be
ashamed. Isaiah lxv. 13, 14, 15, "My servants shall rejoice, Behold my servants shall sing for joy,
but ye shall be ashamed. but ye shall cry for sorrow. And ye shall leave your name for a curse unto my chosen." Again, chapter lxvi. 5, "Let the LORD be glorified, but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed." Hosea iv. 19, "And they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices." And Israel shall be ashamed of his own council; but my people, saith the LORD, by the prophet Joel, shall never be ashamed. Romans ix. 33, "Whosoever believeth on the LORD Jesus shall not be ashamed." And chapter x. 11, "For the scriptures saith, whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." And now (says the apostle John,) little children abide in him, that when he shall appear we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. Thus the believer instead of being ashamed in the day of the LORD, will hold fast his confidence, and his rejoicing unto the end.
Fifthly, For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water. What a blessing that Jesus is, the green fir tree, and that from him our fruit is found; that there is a river the waters of which can never fail; that on the banks of this river flourisheth the tree of life, bearing leaves that can never fade, clothed with living verdure for the healing of the nations. Revelations xxii. 2, What a never failing source of consolation to the philanthropic mind, are the declarations of the God of truth. The sixteenth chapter of Ezekiel is a luminous section in this treasury of divine discoveries. "Nevertheless I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant; and I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD; that thou mayest remember and be confounded and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the LORD God." Thus even the most obstinate shall be brought home, although it be with wailing and with supplication.
ISAIAH i. 31.
First, W нo or what are we to understand by the strong? Not man assuredly, man is a worm, a vapour in his best estate, whose breath is in his nostrils. All flesh is grass, and the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field. Whenever man is spoken of as strong, it is either spiritually or naturally, if spiritually, he is only strong in the LORD; but he who is strong in the LORD cannot be intended in this passage. God is said to be a strong tower; he is called the strength of Israel, &c. &c. Our adversary is said to be strong. Luke xi. 21, "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace." The delusions of the adversary are said to be strong. 2 Thessalonians ii. 11, "And for this cause God hath sent them strong delusions that they should believe a lie." It is clear to my understanding, that the strong in our text intends the strong adversary, who as a roaring lion goeth about seeking whom he may devour.
Secondly, What are we to understand by the tow? It is written, Isaiah xliii. 17, " Which bringeth forth the chariot and horse, the army, and the power; they shall lie down together, they shall not rise; they are extinct, they are quenched as tow." Of flax men construct a most beautiful and profitable article, suitable for clothing for individuals of every description: tow is the refuse of flax, thrown away; and, saith the spirit, every thing which tends to deceive, every delusion shall be as tow."
Thirdly, And the maker of it is as a spark. Who is the maker of it? Sin, we are assured, is the work of the devil. John iii. 8, "He that committeth sin is of the devil." Thus, as every thing God hath made is, with propriety, considered the work of God, so every thing made by the adversary is his work; and these his works shall be as tow, the refuse of flax, which is separated from flax, as the chaff is from the wheat.
But the maker of what is thus doomed to destruction shall be as the spark. Isaiah 1. 11, "Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks; walk in the light of