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acceptance. It is unalterable. The ground of it is without us, and infinitely perfect.
Besides this, there is a particular acceptation of some services expressive of God's peculiar approbation. As to those who are justified in Christ, this is founded on the former, and may be considered as a kind intimation of it; and there is commonly something remarkably excellent both in the acceptance, and the manner in which God intimates it. We have an instance of this when God sent a prophet to acquaint David how well he took it, that it was in his heart to build him an house. It is likewise exemplified in the woman who washed Christ's feet with her tears: while the Pharisee entertained harsh thoughts on account of her former character, the Saviour commended the woman, and kindly accepted her service. Many, whose persons were not accepted before God, but still under the curse, have often met with something similar to this acceptance on account of some signal service done to God, or his Church. Jehu's zeal for the Lord was rewarded with the throne. The repentance of the Ninevites saved their eity; and God took it well that, at the voice of the unknown prophet, they repented in dust and ashes from the highest to the lowest.
4. The Divine blessing here promised likewise included gracious retribution and reward. When they brought all the tithes, he would not put them off with mere favourable acceptance, however valuable in itself; but would graciously reward them. Their hearts would be filled with grace, and their land and houses with plenty. None ever were losers by the
service of God. While the ark was with Obed-edom, the Lord graciously rewarded his care, by making all he had to prosper. When Abraham entertained God's angels, the promise of Isaac was sealed to him. The kindness of Lot to the messengers from heaven was rewarded with a miraculous deliverance, when the city was destroyed by fire and brimstone. The widow of Sarepta was likewise well repaid for her trouble and cost with Elijah. In every period there have been many instances of the Lord's people attending his ordinances with great difficulty, and making strong exertions to support his interest; but they received such support and consolation as compensated every difficulty, and encouraged their hearts. As the Lord has often rewarded individuals, in the text he promised retribution to the whole nation. He was to bestow great outward prosperity. Under the Old Testament, this was an usual blessing. They had a delightsome land—a land which flowed with milk and honey. Even in New Testament times, the Lord's people in general are not in want. They may be poor and afflicted, but God will provide. What is good he will give. Often the Israelites found in experience that outward prosperity and religion kept pace with one another. Under David and Solomon holiness and happiness met together, and piety and prosperity kissed each other. Under Asa and Jehoshaphat matters went well in the land. But when religion declined, and sin prevailed; when God's ordinances were neglected, and altars erected to idols, their prosperous state was turned into misery. Righteousness exalteth a nation; but sin is
á reproach to any people; and, if persisted in, will prove their ruin.
Addressing only a few individuals about temporal prosperity as a part of the blessing, it will not be improper to give the following direction: Seek not great things for yourselves. Christ has sanctified a state of indigence and poverty. In this respect his people have generally the advantage of himself. They commonly have some place of residence, while he had nowhere to lay his head. It is true his enemies often have the greatest share of outward good things; but with them it is a kind of peradventure. Godliness has the promise of this life, as well as that which is to come; and the covenant of grace secures to the real Christian that his bread shall be given, and his water made sure. Some have compared outward good things to the leaves of a tree, and the Lord's people to the fruit. When the fruit is gathered, the leaves fall off. When all God's people shall be brought home to glory, the creatures, as no more necessary, shall instantly fade and fall away.
5. The Lord was to bless his Church at this time in such a manner as to make his kindness and interposition evident. The blessing was to come with visibility and observation. Great outward prosperity could not fail to be noticed by themselves and others, and especially on the back of such famine. As plenty would proclaim God to be the author, the season would proclaim his goodness. The Lord blessed them in the same manner, when they laid the foundation of the second temple, Hag. ii. 19. While the blessing attracted their own attention, their enemies
would likewise see the finger of God, and be constrained to say, The Lord hath done great things for them. Israel's enemies have often been forced to confess that the blessing accompanied Israel, and say as Abimelech to Isaac, Gen. xxvi. 26-29, We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee, and thou art now the blessed of the Lord. Even when the Lord's way with his church is more spiritual, there is often a certain visibility in his blessing, especially in times of great revival. Eminent spiritual mercies make the blessing evident to the church herself; and when there is much purity and holiness, when ordinances are powerful and successful, when conversion and upbuilding make rapid progress, enemies themselves will observe the Lord's goodness. They will discover a watchful, kind, and almost miraculous Providence disappointing all their designs against Zion, defeating their counsels; and exceeding the most sanguine hope of the church herself. When religion flourishes, whatever they may say, the church's enemies will discern in legible characters on her walls this inscription, JEHOVAH SHAMMAH. It may be laid down as a maxim, If Zion could only be brought to care properly for the Lord's work, the Lord would care for her and her interest.
6. The blessing also included spiritual and saving mercies. No instance can be adduced of a person or people who sought the Lord, and valued his blessing, being satisfied without saving mercies. Should the Lord give them as much outward prosperity as their hearts could desire, with Luther they would protest, they would not be put off with these
for their portion. Outward mercies would neither be enough for God to give, nor his people to receive. They would by no means be adequate to God's love, nor the happiness which he means to bestow; neither would they satisfy the wants of the soul, nor constitute that great salvation which the Lord's people desire. Once brought to proper exercise, the Israelites would by no means have been satisfied with the reward of corn and wine, without the sure mercies of David; and no blessing whatever will satisfy the believing soul, without mercy in the day of the Lord. The great temporal blessings bestowed on the saints of old were an emblem of the vast spiritual fulness of the covenant of grace, and their outward wealth and exalted offices were typical of the spiritual dignity of the Lord's people, who are kings and priests to their God. As to these spiritual blessings, the new covenant is filled with them. There we have pardon and peace; imputed righteousness, and inherent holiness; strength and consolation; grace and glory. That covenant is ordered in all things, and is all our salvation. Well may the saints say, "Oh how great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!"
7. The Divine blessing includes a powerful virtue from the Lord accompanying outward mercies and spiritual means, without which they could not answer the end. Without a certain concurring virtue, outward mercies would be useless and inefficacious. Bread would be as stones, and our food like scorpions.. Besides this, there is a secret virtue which