« ZurückWeiter »
is not all of the same kind. In the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, Moses was an instrument, and so was the red sea; yet it is easy to see a difference in the use, which God made of these two agents, or instruments, in thegreatwork, which he performed in favour of his church. Because the sphere of influ. ence with intelligences is different from that, which is peculiar to creatures of a more ignoble, or less exalted, nature, it is not to be conceived that the one kind is any more or less a mere instrument, than the other. This would be as unreasonable, as to imagine, that, because a carpenter does not put his hammer and chissel to exactly the same use, they are not equally the instruments of his art. If Moses, in conducting Israel out of Egypt, acted the part of a faithful messenger and servant of the Lord of hosts, yielding obedi. ence to a divine precept, and might, on this account, be considerered as praiseworthy ; yet this does not determine him to be any the less an instrument in the hand of God, than the red sea was, when it opened a way, through its waters, for the ransomed of the Lord to pass though, and afterwards, with its returning waves, swallowed up the pursuing chariots and horsemen of Pharaoh's army.
If the stars in their courses fought against Sisera, they were God's instruments in overthrowing that warrior and his forces; and Deborah and Barak, together with their companions in arms, were no more. If God makes use of the material heavens and the v3.
rious orders of unintelligent creatures, from the smallest atom up to the highest order of mere sensitive beings, to declare his glory ; he has also adapted to the same great end the whole circle of higher and nobler depend. ent existences, from the feeblest intellect, in the rational world, to the most exalted principalities and powers in lieavenly places.
But it is by means of the church, or in the redemption of his chosen, that we are now especially to eye the divine operations, in bringing glory to the Godhead. In our text, there is a most animated invocation of the heavens and earth to join in celebrating the praise of God, on a most important account, which is expressed ;
for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.” Who are the subjects of this most happy and joy. ful redemption, can be no matter of doubt. Jacob and Israel are appellatives frequently used for the church of God, in its purest and most comprehensive sense. Israelites, or the seed of Jacob, are the subjects of God's gracious promises. They are the people, whom he has chosen, to be brought near to himself, to experience the efficacy of his grace, and to exhibit an example of the overflowing a. bundance and superlative richness of his redeeming mercy. The Israel of God is the e. wangelical gospel church, in all ages of the world, and under every dispensation of revealed truth. By this church, or body of -men, by making them the subjects of most
eminent and distinguished benefits, God glorifies himself; and hence puts an argument to devout praise and thanksgiving into the mouths of all his creatures. It is in the redemption of the church, that God is represented as appearing most glorious, as deserv. ing the highest ascriptions of praise from the united hearts and voices of all creatures. As God's peculiar kindness and care is for the church, that he may exalt it above the common guilt and wretchedness of an apostate world; all his dealings with this sacred community have a merciful aspect and tendency. It is no single dispensation, that is to decide, what are his feelings and final determinations, with respect to his people. A long and complicated chain of events is often necessary fully to expose and bring to light the love of God to his own heritage. The frowns are but preludes to the smiles of Providence ; with regard to the interests of the churchi If he denounces evil against them, and brings days of adversity upon them, it is that they may be the better prepared to inherit his favour, and rejoice in his goodness.
66 Is E. phraim my dear son ? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him I do earnestly remember him still ; therefore my bowels are troubled for him : I will surely have mer cy upon him, saith the Lord.” distinguishing privilege of the church or the people of God, consists in their redemp tion. In this only is their superiority to oth
In this, therefore, are they, in a pecul
iar sense, instrumental of glory to God. Ie behoves us, then, to inquire,
First. Into the redemption, which is an occasion of glory to God through the church. And
Secondly. How this is a means of great glory to God.
That God can bave no motive, short of his own glory, for those exercises of mercy, which he puts forth towards certain portions of the human race, in raising their condition above that of others, appears, I think, sufficiently evident from considerations, that have heretofore been suggested. trary supposition would bring him under the guilt of partiality, since all men are naturally alike depraved, have all sinned and come short of the glory of God, and have no claim, one above another, to those special benefits, which some enjoy to the exclusion of the rest. That there is such a thing, as special, distinguishing, grace; viz. favour conferred on some, more than what is bestowed upon . others, of the same moral character and deserts, is too manifest, methinks, to require an argument for our conviction.
Our text speaks of redemption to Jacob, not as something common to the human race; but as the peculiar lot of that part of mankind, which went under this denomination. This, however, does not imply, but that particular instances of redemption, as a temporal and ordinary benefit, may take place all over the world ; that is, men of every description,
and in all places, may be occasionally saved from such impending evils, as threaten their temporal welfare, and this may be termed redemption. But God redeems his church, in a higher and much more eminent sense. To say what this redemption is, is the
First thing, to which our attention is now invited. The church of God, consisting of the family and descendents of ancient Jacob, experienced, at the hand of God, many signal deliverances, before the time, when our text was spoken by the mouth of the prophet. The several escapes from the hand of enemies and oppressors they met with were so many instances of redemption ; some of which took place under circumstances very memorable and extraordinary, manifesting the hand of God in a most affecting manner. Such wonderful deliverances, of this sort, no other people under heaven ever experienced. But redemption, in our text, means something much more interesting and precious. In the preceding chapter God reminds his people, by the prophet, of what he had done for them, what mighty works he had wrought to extricate and preserve them from the des tructive power of their enemies. “Thus saith the Lord, your Redeemer, the holy One of Israel, For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.” Afterwards it is added, “Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will