« הקודםהמשך »
THOUGHTS ON THE REVIVAL, &c.
SHOWING THE OBLIGATIONS THAT ALL ARE UNDER, TO ACKNOWLEDGE, REJOICE IN, AND PROMOTE THIS WORK,
AND THE GREAT DANGER OF THE CONTRARY.
The danger of lying still, and keeping long silence respecting any remarkable work of God.
THERE are many things in the word of God, that show that when God remarkably appears in any great work for his church, and against his enemies, it is a most dangerous thing, and highly provoking to God, to be slow and backward to acknowledge and honor God in the work, and to lie still and not to put to a helping hand. Christ's people are in scripture represented as his army; he is the Lord of hosts or armies He is the Captain of the host of the Lord, as he called himself when he appeared to Joshua, with a sword drawn in his hand, Joshua v. 13, 14, 15. He is the Captain of his people's salvation; and therefore it may well be highly resented if they do not resort to him when he orders his banner to be displayed; or if they refuse to follow him when he blows the trumpet, and gloriously appears going forth against his enemies. God expects that every living soul should have his attention roused on such an occasion, and should most cheerfully yield to the call, and heedfully
and diligently obey it; Isaiah xviii. 3. "All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth the trumpet, hear ye." Especially should all Israel be gathered after their captain, as we read they were after Ehud, when he blew the trumpet in mount Ephraim, when he had slain Eglon, king of Moab, Judg. iii. 27, 28. How severe is the martial law in such a case, when any of an army refuses to obey the sound of the trumpet, and follow his general to the battle? God at such a time appears in peculiar manifestations of his glory; and therefore not to be affected and animated, and to lie still, and refuse to follow God, will be resented as a high contempt of him. If a subject should stand by, and be a spectator of the solemnity of his prince's coronation and should appear silent and sullen, when all the multitude were testifying their loyalty and joy, with loud acclamations; how greatly would he expose himself to be treated as a rebel, and quickly to perish by the authority of the prince that he refuses to honor?
At a time when God manifests himself in such a great work for his church, there is no such thing as being neuters; there is a necessity of being either for or against the King that then gloriously appears. As when a king is crowned, and there are public manifestations of joy on that occasion, there is no such thing as standing by as an indifferent spectator; all must appear as loyal subjects, and express their joy on that occasion, or be accounted enemies: so it always is when God, in any great dispensation of his providence, does remarkably set his King on his holy hill of Zion, and Christ in an extraordinary manner comes down from heaven to the earth, and appears in his visible church in a great work of salvation for his people: so it was when Christ came down from heaven in his incarnation, and appeared on earth in his human presence; there was no such thing as being neuters, neither on his side nor against him: those that sat still and said nothing, and did not declare for him, and come and
join with him, after he, by his word and works, had given sufficient evidence who he was, were justly looked upon as his enemies; as Christ says, Matt. xii. 30. "He that is not with me, is against me; and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad." So it is in a time when Christ is remarkably spiritually present, as well as when he is bodily present; and when he comes to carry on the work of redemption in the application of it, as well as in the revelation and purchase. If a king should come into one of his provinces, that had been oppressed by its foes, where some of his subjects had fallen off to the enemy, and joined with them against their lawful sovereign and his loyal subjects; I say, if the lawful sovereign himself should come into the province, and should ride forth there against his enemies, and should call upon all that were on his side to come and gather themselves to him; there would be no such thing, in such a case, as standing neuter: they that lay still and staid at a distance would undoubtedly be looked upon and treated as rebels. So in the day of battle, when two armies join, there is no such thing for any present as being of neither party, all must be on one side or the other; and they that be not found with the conqueror in such a case, must expect to have his weapons turned against them, and to fall with the rest of his enemies.
When God manifests himself with such glorious power in a work of this nature, he appears especially determined to put honor upon his Son, and to fulfill his oath that he has sworn to him, that he would make every knee to bow, and every tongue to confess to him. God hath had it much on his heart, from all eternity, to glorify his dear and only begotten Son; and there are some special seasons that he appoints to that end, wherein he comes forth with omnipotent power to fulfill his promise and oath to him: and these times are times of remarkable pouring out of his Spirit, to advance his kingdom; such a day is a day of his power, wherein his people shall be made willing, and he shall rule in the midst of his enemies;
these especially are the times wherein God declares his firm decree that his Son shall reign on his holy hill of Zion; and therefore those that at such a time do not kiss the Son, as he then manifests himself, and appears in the glory of his majesty and grace, expose themselves to perish from the way, and to be dashed in pieces with a rod of iron.
As such a time is a time wherein God eminently sets his King on his holy hill of Zion, so it is a time wherein he remarkably fulfills that in Isa. xxviii. 16. "Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation." Which the two apostles, Peter and Paul (1 Pet. ii. 6, 7, 8, and Rom. ix. 33) join with that prophecy, Isa. viii14, 15. "And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling, and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and many among them shall stumble and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and taken." As signifying that both are fulfilled together. Yea, both are joined together by the prophet Isaiah himself; as you may see in the context of that forementioned, Isa. xxviii. 16. In v. 13. preceding it is said, "But the word of the Lord was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little and there a little, that they might go and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken." And accordingly it always is so, that when Christ is in a peculiar and eminent manner manifested and magnified, by a glorious work of God in his church, as a foundation and a sanctuary for some, he is remarkably a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, a gin and a snare to others. They that continue long to stumble, and be offended and ensnared in their minds, at such a great and glorious work of Christ, in God's account, stumble at Christ and are offended in him; for the work is that by which he makes Christ manifest, and shows his glory, and by which he makes the Stone that the builders refused, to become the head of the corner.
This shows how dangerous it is to continue always stumbling at such a work, for ever doubting of it, and forbearing fully to acknowledge it, and give God the glory of it: such persons are in danger to go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken, and to have Christ a stone of stumbling to them, that shall be an occasion of their ruin ; while he is to others a sanctuary, and a sure foundation.
The prophet Isaiah, Isa. xxix. 14. speaks of God's proceeding to do a marvelous work and a wonder, which should stumble and confound the wisdom of the wise and prudent; which the apostle, in Acts xiii. 31. applies to the glorious work of salvation wrought in those days by the redemption of Christ, and that glorious outpouring of the Spirit to apply it that followed; the prophet in the context of that place in Isa. xxix. speaking of the same thing, and of the prophets and rulers and seers, those wise and prudent whose eyes God has closed, says to them, v. 9. Stay yourselves and wonder. In the original it is, be ye slow and wonder. I leave it to others to consider whether it be natural to interpret it thus, "Wonder at this marvelous work; let it be a strange thing, a great mystery that you know not what to make of, and that you are very slow and backward to acknowledge, long delaying to come to a determination concerning it." And what persons are in danger of, that wonder, and are thus slow to acknowledge God in such a work, we learn by that of the apostle in that forementioned Acts xiii. 41. "Behold, ye despisers, and wonder and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work in which you shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you."
The church of Christ is called upon greatly to rejoice, when at any time Christ remarkably appears, coming to his church, to carry on the work of salvation, to enlarge his own kingdom, and to deliver poor souls out of the pit wherein there is no water, in Zech. ix. 9, 10, 11. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout O daughter of Jerusalem; behold thy King cometh unto thee; he is just and having salvation, his