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Though they have not been either so miraculous or so complete as that recorded in the text, they demand our most grateful acknowledgments
Had they been as numerous and decisive in favour of our enemies as they have been on our part, we should before this time have seen this land the theatre of war
Let us then praise and adore our God for his interposition on our behalf
Nor let us soon forget the wonders he has wrought for us
Let us rather turn to him in an humble dependence on his mercy
Let us plead the promises he has made to all penitent and believing people
And let us, in faith and penitence, expect the accomplishment of his word-]
2. Let us take occasion also to bless him for the spiritual deliverance wrought for us as individuals
[Our danger from the broken law was far greater than from human foes
There was no possible method of escape, if God had not interposed for us
But he has opened a way for us through the death of his own Son
And utterly vanquished all the enemies of our salvation
Nor let the remembrance of his mercy be ever effaced from our minds
But let his word, whereby he encourages sinners, be our hope
Then shall every fresh victory be a pledge of future triumphs
And the final destruction of our enemies be the subject of eternal praise.]
CCCXXXII. THANKSGIVING FOR GREAT DELIVE
Ps. cxxiv. 1-8. If it had not been the Lord, who was on our
side, now may Israel say; If it had not been the Lord, who was on our side, when men rose up against us: then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: then the proud waters had gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. *
* This Psalm is with peculiar propriety read on the 5th of November.
THE Psalmist; after some great deliverance either from foreign enemies or civil insurrection, records, for the instruction and encouragement of the church in all ages, the goodness of God towards him. The precise occasion on which it was penned, is not known. Instead therefore of dwelling on historical events, which, as applied to the Psalm, must be at best conjectural, we shall take occasion from the Psalm, to set before you, in reference to the solemnities of this day, I. Matter for devout acknowledgment
[To illustrate this, two things are to be considered; 1. Our danger; which, like that alluded to in the Psalm itself has been imminenta
2. Our deliverance; which, like that which is here celebrated, has been suddendm--and effectuale~] II. Our duty arising from it
[This is comprised in two things 1. Gratitude-The language of all our hearts should be, “ Blessed be the Lord”_
2. Affiance-We should in all future difficulties hope and trust in God as our almighty Protector ] APPLICATION
[However thankful we may be for our national mercies, we must not forget, that there is yet more abundant cause for joy on account of our deliverance from sin and Satan, death and hell, through the mediation and intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ Let the greatness of our danger, and the perfection of our deliverance, be the subject of our daily contemplations, that we may trust in Jesus with our whole hearts, and praise him with our whole souls-
a The number of our enemies (like a flood, ver. 4, 5.) their inveteracy against us, (ver. 3.) and the combination of circumstances at the time of the mutiny, well illustrate this.
b What if God had not been so decidedly for us (mark the repetition, ver. 1, 2.) in some of our naval engagements? If only half of our victories had terminated as much in favour of the enemy, how different would have been our state, especially when all Europe was coinbined against us!
c Torn in pieces (ver. 6.) and swallowed up (ver. 3-5.)
d Review the changes in the North; and our escape is indeed like that of a bird that gets out after having been already caught in the fowler's net, ver. 7.
e Peace is established; and the snare itself (the principles which occasioned the war, is broken. Ib. Ver. 6. & Ver. 8.
CCCXXXIII. GOD'S INTERPOSITIONS SEASONABLE.
Zech. xiv. 7. It shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall
i IT often happens that passages of Scripture, which
are obscure in some points of view, are in other respects both clear and profitable. Of this kind is the passage before us. Commentators are by no means agreed about the precise events to which the prophet refers in the preceding and following context. We shall not attempt therefore to explain what perhaps no one perfectly understands; but shall confine ourselves to such observations as will elucidate the text in those points which are more plain and obvious. We shall point out I. Its prophetic reference
Whatever be the immediate event alluded to, it evidently refers to 1. The apostolic period
[Our Lord, whose advent and death are so clearly foretold in the foregoing chapter,a seems to be spoken of in this place. The time of his ministry was “ a day neither clear nor dark.” The sun was risen; but it was eclipsed by clouds; the light of his instructions shined in the land; but it was greatly obscured by the shadows of the Mosaic ritual.
By the death of Christ the light seemed to be altogether removed; and the darkness of despair succeeded the dawn of hope. His own disciples were confounded, and gave up all for lost. But behold, by his resurrection, their hopes were revived; by his converse with them for forty days, their minds were led to see the accomplishment of all the prophecies relating to him: and by his ascension “ from the mount of Olives,”d together with the express commission that he gave them just previous to his departure, they were enabled to wait for his promised Spirit; on the descent of which a light was kindled, that never was, nor ever will be, extinguished.] 2. The millennial period i
[Before the gospel shall universally prevail, there will be
a Zech. xiii. 1.
b Ver. 6.
c Luke xxiv. 21. d Compare Acts i. 9, 12. with Ver. 4. which is thought to be a prophecy that after Christ's ascension from the mount of Olives a way should be opened for the Gentiles to come into the church of Christ. See Luke iii, 5, 6. ,
i defectio of iniquity is cov
a season of great darkness in the church of Christ. By whatever it may be accomplished, whether by means of infidelity or Popish superstition, we are taught to expect that there will be a dreadful defection from the faith of the gospel, as well as a general prevalence of iniquity throughout the world. But then, even while gross darkness is covering the people, shall a light suddenly arise upon the world, and one bright day be visible in either hemisphere. The church itself shall be quite astonished at the suddenness of the change, which will pass like lightning from one end of the world even to the other, insomuch that accommodations will be wanted for the multitudes of worshippers in every place."]
But this prophecy, like numberless others, may be further improved by considering II. Its spiritual application
Prophecies have different degrees, and different seasons, of accomplishment. And the Apostolic writers sometimes speak of them in an accommodated sense, and apply them to events to which they had not any direct reference. We would not be understood to say, that the prophet had any the remotest reference to the concerns of our nation: but in an accommodated sense we may say, that they have been remarkably verified at this timek -- -Not however to insist any longer on this, we may properly affirm that they are frequently accomplished in the souls of men; 1. In their first conversion
[To what an astonishing length of wickedness are many suffered to proceed before God interposes to stop their career! The apostle Paul seemed to have attained almost the summit
e 2 Thess. ii. 3, 8. 1 Tim. iv. 1. Matt. xxiv. 10-14. Perhaps also Dan. xi. 32-36. may refer to this as well as to what is past.
f Isai. lx. 1-3. with ver. 9, 20, 21. & Matt. xxiv. 27. h Isai. xlix. 18-23.
i Jer. xxxi. 15. with Matt. . ii. 18 ; Isai. liii. 4. with Matt. viii. 17. k If this were a Thanksgiving Sermon for the Peace, it would be proper to mention here, 1. The fluctuations of success during the war (it has not been all day, or all night,” ver. 6.) 2. The dark season that had arrived (our allies conquered; the northern confederacy; all Europe against us; the discontent in Ireland; and, in the midst of this dreadful storm, the helm deserted by the pilot; the king himself so indisposed as to be unable to hold the reins of government; and the nation almost in a state of famine.) 3. The sudden deliverance we have experienced by the victories at Copenhagen and in Egypt, the dissolution of the Northern league, and the restoration of peace and plenty.)
of impiety before God arrested him in his course:' and the dying thief seemed to be gone almost beyond redemption, when Jesus at his last hour converted and saved his soul.in
Many too are reduced to the very borders of despair, before they are enabled to apply the promises of the gospel for the comfort of their souls. The description given of those in Ezekiel," and of those in the 107th Psalm, exactly accords with the experience of many. But “ in the evening time it is light:” and “when their tongue faileth for thirst, then God opens to them rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of the valleys.”P] 2. In their subsequent walk with God
[Deep are the distresses which many of God's people endure through temptation or spiritual desertion. Exceeding bitter are the complaints of David upon this subject,9 as are those of holy Job. But in their extremity God heard their cry: and when there seemed to be no prospect of any thing but of increasing misery, or of utter destruction, then God appeared for them to their unspeakable consolation. Thus it is with many others at this day. To the wicked, their sun often sets at noon-day:t but to the righteous it is promised, that their sun, if need be, shall arise at midnight."] We may IMPROVE this subject
1. For caution
[Though God glorifies himself frequently by interposing his power in the last extremity for the conversion of men, we are not therefore to run into great excesses in expectation of deliverance from them; or to defer our repentance to the time of death, in hopes that God will call us at the eleventh hour. This would be a dangerous experiment indeed: and God forbid that we should ever subject ourselves to so great a risk. The word of God calls upon us to turn to him without delay. Let us consider, that with respect to the continuance of our lives, or to the continued offers of divine grace it may be evening already. Surely with many of us “ the day is far spent; and it is high time that we awake out of sleep.”y Let us then pray that the day-star may arise in our hearts, and that instead of having our lamp extinguished in darkness, “ a light may arise to us in obscurity, and our darkness be as the noon-day."a]