תמונות בעמוד

every heart!

this thought may make every poor sinner say, by the help of God I will be a Christian; by the help of God, if I must burn, it shall be burning with the love of Christ. I will say then, O Lord, glorify thyself by snatching me as a brand from the devil's fire. O that this might be the cry of

I am going to ask a favour of you to-nightwhich I never did before, and, perhaps, may not again for some time: I have had complaints made to me by the persons that take care of the poor, that the poor's stock is very low; though I cannot speak on Sunday night; yet I will speak a word to the poor on Wednesday evening. There are numbers of poor that are ready to perish, and if you drop something to them in love, God will take care to repay you when you come to judgment. We shall not only glorify God by a submission to his will, when he is putting us in the fire, but in doing any good, when we lay all the glory at the foot of Jesus, which God grant for Christ's sake. Amen.

[ocr errors]



NUMBERS xxiii. ver. 23. According to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel,

what hath God wrought? THEN I read you, my dear hearers, these

words; when I consider what occasion, and by whom they were originally spoke, I can


ed men.

not help thinking of that triumphant expression of the royal Psalmist, Il'hy do the heathen rage ? When Pontius Pilate and the Jews conspire to destroy the cause of God, he that sitteth in heaven laughs them to scorn : the Lord not only has them in derision, but over-rules even their malice and violence (no thanks to them to promote that very cause they attempted to destroy; so that 'tis a very wrong maxim, and argues great ignorance, in us, to imagine that God never brings about his designs by the means and instrumentality of wick

This is the Papists objection against the reformation : great pains have been taken to blacken the reformers, and to make it believed that a reformation could not be good that was begun by people of bad character, and a king of an immoral life. But so far is this from eclipsing, that it illustrates the wisdom and goodness of divine Providence, in obliging the wicked to do what they never designed, and over-ruling their counsels for the fulfilling God's holy, wise, and sovereign de

This observation naturally arises from the words of our text, which were spoken by, as far as I can judge, one of the vilest men upon the earth, you doubtless know his name, Balaam, who though florid in his expressions, and high in profession of intercourse with God, and puts on a fine face of religion, was but a rotten-hearted hypocrite, for he divined for money, made a trade of religion ; and so loved the wages of unrigliteousness, as to have wished to curse even those whom God had blessed. I need not inform you, that this was the end for which Balak sent for him; and no wonder he was so willing to go, when he knew he was to be well paid for his journey. Achilles, the Græcian hero, is said to be


go, and

capable of being wounded only in the heel, but bad priests, ministers, and people, have a great deal more dangerous part to be wounded in, that is, the palm of the hand ; if you can keep that secure from being wounded with gold, never fear the devil can't have his end. Balak promised him great preferment, if he would but come and curse the people of God. A prophet, or soothsayer, is one that pretends to have intercourse with God or the devil, and Balak did not care by which of them it was, so that he could but get

the Israelites cursed ; Balaam catches at the golden bait, pretends to ask counsel of God; and what seems strange, God bids him


sends an angel to meet him in the way, who stands ready to slay him for going. Does it not seem very strange that God should bid a man go, and then slay him for going, but people that read this pas sage, should carefully mind the particulars of it. God said, if the men come and call thee, go; but he did not wait for that, but saddles his ass and goes; this is called by St. Peter, the madness of the prophet: witness his rising early in the morning, not waiting for the call of the princes, which shewed how eager he was to be gone ; and though this solution should not be allowed, God was justly angry for his going with an ill design, that is, maliciously to curse a people whom he knew God resolved should be blessed, and that for the sake of the wages of unrighteousness.* The king and his nobles wait upon him, in hopes this soothsayer will answer their purpose ; but after all he can do

* It is no unusual thing in holy writ, for heaven to resent and punish even those actions that it has permitted. Witness Deut. i. 20--- 35. compared with Numb. xiii. 2.

-Hos. xii. 11. compared with 1. Sam. viii. 7. chap. xv. 23. chap. xvi. ! Psal. lxxxi. 11, 12. &c. &c.

nothing without God's leave: however, no cost is spared to obtain the end ; so true is it, that the devil's children are ten thousand times more expensive in persecuting the people of God, than God's people are in promoting his glory. This sooth-saying priest pretends to go to God, which is permitted, but forced to speak what God would have him; once and again his mouth is stopped, or rather his curses are stopped and turned into a blessing. Balak, enraged at his repeated disappointment, bids him ñeither to curse or bless them at all; and thinking, perhaps, that the sight of the people affected him, carries him to a place where he would see but a small part of them; he goes, and there God made him confirm the blessing instead of the curse, more abundantly than before. Oratory is beautiful, though out of the mouth of the worst of men, Surely, said he, " there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel. Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion; he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey and drink the blood of the slain ;” having said just before, “ According to this time it shall be said of Jacob and Israel, what hath God wrought!"

What words are here out of the mouth of a wicked man! and yet I hope it will do no hurt to chuse them as a proper subject for an evening meditation. Let us leave this prophane diviner, and the king his employer, vexed that they could not get their end of the people of God; let us snatch the words out of the vile prophet's mouth, and see if we can serve him as David did Goliah, take his sword and cut off his head. Some people run to extremes, and because some have abuseck religion, therefore they think there is no religion at all. Perhaps it is for this reason, that so many offences are permitted to happen in the churches, that one of the twelve should be a traitor, and. that the devil should come with his bible under his arm to tempt us to disbelieve or abuse it, by which God, stirs up the people of God to watch, tight, and pray:

How should we take the words of our text? by way of interrogation? or admiration? as speaking in a prophetic strain how God had wrought, and did then work, and would afterwards work for the prosperity of his faithful Jacob and his posterity, the Israel of God.

Suppose we take them in the way of question, which, perhaps, is most agreeable to the context, and it may be most serviceable to you and to me; and in order that I may not run into too great a fieldt o-night, I will confine myself to what Balaam confines himself, “from this time it shall be said of Jacob and Israel," in a way of enquiry, “what hath God wrought?

If we look round the world and survey the works of creation, the heavens declare God's glory: and the firmament sheweth his handy work. If we look further, my brethren, down upon these bodies of ours, if we consider the curious form of them, we may cry, what hath God wrought ! surely I am fearfully and wonderfully made ; and when we consider that we are made


of four elements; when we consider to what casualties we are exposed, how wonderfully these bodies have been kept up, when thousands have dropped into the before is, we may well say, what hath God wrought! but I rather chuse to, confine myself to that better part; and I am per


« הקודםהמשך »