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has been sanctified to us, we have returned right humbly and heartily to our God, and he hath graciously received us, and hath fitted us for himself; this being done, all the purposes of life are answered, and our souls shall be for ever with the Lord; Hence saith our Poet,
* Partners now in tribulation,
^ Sharers in a moment's pain, * For the crown of full salvation,
“ Shall we not the cross sustain? “ Light the pain and transitory;
" But our Lord we soon shall meet, ^ Sink beneath a weight of glory,
46 Sink for ever at his feet.”
It now remains, that, Fourthly, We make some observations on that awful sentence, “The face of the Lord is against them that do evil."
And if the face of the Lord is against them who do evil in general, may we not upon good ground suppose, that it is in a peculiar manner so against them who persecute his disciples? Surely the portion of these unhappy men will be dreadful beyond all description.
But with respect to all, without exception, who do evil, or live in sin and rebellion against God, would it not be well for them to consider, that if the eternal God sets his face against them, it matters not who may smilę upon them. : How much better would it be, if all the world were up in arms against them, than șhạt God should be their enemy! Nay, would it not be infinitely better for them, if ten thousand devils were let loose upon then, than that the omnipotent God should be their enemy? O how will these unwise and unhappy men tremble before the Lord of the universe, when in that awful day he shall sit in judgment upon them Well would it be for them to hear his warning voice in time, and turn to him while mercy may be found, that the eyes of the Lord
be over them also.
But let the righteous rejoice and be exceeding glad, yea; let
them even shout for joy, seeing that the eyes of the Lord are over them, at all times, and on all occasions. Let them make all their requests known to him in prayer, and they will always find a rich supply of wisdom to guide, and strength to enable them to fight under the conduct of their all-conquering Lord and Saviour; and shall one day singi with an Apostle, “ Thanks be to God, who giveth us the vjetory, through our Lord Jesus Christ;" so shall they enter. into the joy of their Lord.
“ There tħey shall in his praises join,
“ His boundless love proclaim; # And solemnize in songs divine,
“The marriage of the Lamb.
ON WALKING IN DARKNESS.
ISA LAH 1. io. Who is among you that fçareth the Lord, that obeyeth the yoice of his
servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Lei him trust in the Name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.
HAT we may rightly understand, and properly improve this blessed portion of holy scripture, it will be nécessary to attend to its first and primary meaning. And it will appear that in this, as well as some other parts of the prophecy, the Prophet is to be considered as writing to the Jews, when in a state of deplorable ,captivity: When on, account of their abominable wickedness they were delivered into the hands of their enemies, who brought ruin and destruction upon their beautiful city; their magnificent temple (once their pride and glory), and upon their whole nation. Being now captives in a strange land, where they endured innumerable hardships, they murmured against-Godas if he had dealt hardly with them, in suffering their enemies thus to triumph over them. The prophet in this chapter undertakes to vindicate the Lord in his conduct towards them, saying, "Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, which I have put away? or which of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your iniquities have you sold yourselves, and for your transgréssions is your mother put away.” As if he had said, “Ye
reap the fruit of your own folly, and have no one to blame but yourselves for your present distresses. You were solemnly and repeatedly warned of your danger, but you would not hear : you were plainly told what would be the consequence of your rebellion against the Lord, but you regarded it not; and now you repent when it is too late. The word of the Lord hath been awfully fulfilled in you. u Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil.”
Yet the Lord did not utterly cast them off, but graciously promised by the prophet, after he had punished them for the space of seventy years (on account of their dreadful abuse of his long continued mercies). He would once more make his power and goodness manifest among them, and deliver them from the hand of their enemies ; bring them again to their own land in peace, make them a free people, and restore to them all their former rights and privileges, and they should again worship the Lord in his holy mountain. This promise we have in the next chapter ; “ For the Lord shall comfort Zion; he will comfort all her waste places, and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desart like the garden of the Lord ; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.” But with regard to the accomplishment of this promise, they walked in darkness, and had no light. There was no human probability that such a happy event should ever take place. Every thing besides the promise of God forbad their expecting any thing of the kind. They were a people robbed and spoiled, and scattered abroad through the vast empire of the king of Babylon, and they could not conceive by what means so extraordinary a deliverance should be brought about. But we have nothing to fear, while we have the promise of God to rely upon; he will always find a way to accomplish his own designs and will appear for the comfort of those who trust in his name.
In the words of the text, the prophet speaks comfortably to those among the captives who continued in the fear of the Lord, saying, “Who is among you that feareth' the Lord, and obeyeth the voice of his servant, and yet walketh in darkness," with respect to the accomplishment of the promise of God, and cannot see in what particular way, or by what means he will fulfil his word ; "Let him trust in the Lord," let him rest satisfied; for the infinitely wise and powerful God can never be at a loss for instruments to accomplish his will. He will certainly appear at the time appointed; his
word cannot fall to the ground, nor his truth and faithfulness fail, but his people shall be delivered from the hands of their enemies.
This may be considered as the literal meaning of these words. But doubtless they have a spiritual meaning also and it is with this that we are chiefly concerned, But that we may not torture the word of God, and find out meanings never intended, we must take care the spiritual sense runs parallel with the literal, and then we shall not mistake our way.
Perhaps there is not a passage in the whole bible which has been less understood, and more frequently misapplied than this has been ; therefore we should be the more careful in explaining it.
In speaking from the text it may be necessary to enquire,
1. Who is the servant of God whom they are said to obey ?
II. Who are the persons that truly fear the Lord, and obey the voice of his servant?
III. What kind of darkness may such persons walk in?
IV. What ground they have to trust in the Lord, and to stay themselves upon their God?
I. Who is that servant of God alluded to in the text? In reading the holy scriptures we find that this title has generally been given, (especially in the Old Testament) to all, without exception, who have lived in the fear of God, and endeavoured to honour him, by walking in his holy ways. But it has also been given, by way of distinction, to those whom the Lord hath called to act in a public character in his church, whether as prophets, apostles, or preachers of his word. And chose men of God have accounted it no small degree of honour put upon them by the great and glorious Head of the church, and have greatly gloried in this, that they were the servants of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. But as the latter part of this chapter contains a prophecy of the Redeemer of mankind, it seems, by the servant of the Lord, we are to understand the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Nor is this the only place in the sacred scriptures where our Lord bears this humble title, The servant of God. For in the beginning of the 420 chapter of Isaiah he is called by the same name: "Behold my servant whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delightetħ: I have put my Spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment, (or salvation) to the Gentiles.” These words cari be applied only to our blessed Redeemer, as we know none but he, ever brought salvation to the Gentile 'nations! Who himself said, “ For judgment am I come into the world, that they who see not might see, and that they who see, might be made blind.” So likewise St. Paul, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took' upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Here the Apostle not only gives the title of servant, to the Lord of Life and Glory, but he also shews us the reason why he is so called : Because he was sent upon this gracious errand by his heavenly Father to redeem and save a lost world. Now he that is sent, is not greater than he who sent him; and for this reason our Lord says, "My Father is greater than 1.” That is, considered as the Redeemer of mankind, and as having taken human nature upon him, and now acting as a Mediator between God and man. Yet at the same time we may say concerning him, “Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead, but inferior to the Father as touching his manhood.!'. Perfect God and perfect man united in one person: Yet infinitely great and inconceivably glorious as he is, such was his unbounded love towards us, that he stooped so low, as 'to take upon him the form of a servant : And not only the form
servant of God, 'but O, astonishing humility! He became the servant of man. I am with you (said the blessed Jesus,) as one that serveth;" and wonderful“to relate, we see the Lord of glory girt with a towel, and washing the feet of his disciples! Setting us an example that we may
follow his steps, and, " By love serve one another."-But -what is still niore astonishing, to procure eternal salvation for us, he humbled himself yeg lower, and died a malefactor upon the cross, that we might live for ever! Well may we say, “ O Lamb of God was ever pain, was ever love like thine!”
II. Who are the persons that fear the Lord, and obey the voice of his servant?
Two sorts of people may be said to do this, those who are seeking, and those who have found redemption in the blood of Jesus.