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and affectionately caution the serious inquirer, not to undervalue feeble beginnings ; but to take encouragement from them to press forward, in the diligent use of the means of grace, that the change may be rendered more evident, and that he may
“abound in hope by the power of the holy “ Ghost."
Let discouraged souls likewise, who feel sin to be their burden, grief, and terror, and who are ready to say to the Saviour, “Lord, to whom shall
we go? thou hast the words of eternal life:” let such fainting and feeble-minded believers learn to derive encouragement from their very fears, jealousies, sighs, groans, and tears, occasioned by “ the sin that dwelleth in them,” and by their being unable “to do the things that they would ;' for these are, without doubt, effects and evidences of the new creation.
Finally, my brethren, if you can rejoice in the assurance that you are partakers of these inestimable benefits, shew your gratitude to God by endeavouring to communicate the same blessings to your fellow sinners : knowing that his mercy and grace are sufficient for them also; that he makes use of reconciled enemies, as instruments in reconciling others also to himself; and that he preserves such persons in life especially for this most gracious purpose.
PSALM II. 12.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way,
when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
WHATEVER were the immediate occasion of this psalm, it evidently contains a most remarkable prophecy concerning Christ, and the divine vengeance to be inflicted on those who opposed the establishment of his kingdom. The Jews were the peculiar objects of the threatened indignation ; and they are also the witnesses of the authenticity of those scriptures in which the prophecy is contained: for by them the Old Testament has been preserved, and they now unanimously attest that the psalm before us was written at least a thousand years before Jesus of Nazareth was born.
It may therefore be useful, in the first place, to call your attention to this remarkable prophecy of things already accomplished, or hastening to an accomplishment.—“Why do the heathen rage, “ and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings “ of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take “ counsel together, against the Lord, and against “ his anointed.” Let us hear the apostle's application of this passage: "For of a truth against thy
holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both “Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the gentiles and “ the people of Israel, were gathered together, to “ do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel deter“ mined before to be done.”l These concluding words are well worthy of our notice, as they illustrate the plan of divine providence in the government of the world. We are apt to wonder that wicked men should be permitted to triumph as they often do: not considering that the Lord employs even rebels to fulfil his righteous purposes ; and that, contrary to their own intention, they are made the executioners of his vengeance, or used as his chastening rod. Even atheists and infidels, yea, the haughtiest and most self-willed of his enemies, are permitted to prosper, till they have inflicted condign punishment on sinners, perhaps less criminal than themselves, and then they are consigned to more tremendous vengeance. Nay, the Lord even makes use of wicked men to accomplish his designs of mercy to the church. Thus the Jewish rulers and priests, with Herod, Pilate, and the people of Israel, though before at enmity with each other, combined together against the Saviour of the world: they thought evil against him and his church, “but the Lord meant it for
good.” And they could only do what “his - hand and his counsel had determined before to « be done.”
“ The kings of the earth stood up, and the “rulers took counsel together against the Lord, “ and against his anointed,” or his Messiah ; saying, “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us." All the
All the power and
Acts iv. 25-28.
? Gen. 1. 20.
policy of man seemed to be leagued together, with a fixed determination to destroy Jesus and extirpate his doctrine. His numerous and formidable enemies unanimously resolved that “ they would “ not have this man to reign over them.” The priests and rulers excited the people to demand his crucifixion, with unrelenting vehemence. They aimed to blot out the remembrance of him and his spiritual dominion from the earth, that they might have no authority but that of the magistrate. “We have no king but Cæsar: whosoever maketh “ himself a king speaketh against Cæsar.” Observe, my brethren, what was their principal objection to the religion of Jesus, and whence it arose. They hated the law and government of God; and therefore they rebelled against the kingdom and authority of his Son. Thus men still reject the gospel, because it magnifies and honours the law and justice of God, condemns all their former transgressions, and, with the proposal of a gracious pardon, implies an obligation to obedience in future; and in this respect the same part is acted over and over again, from generation to generation.
But mark what follows: “ He that sitteth in the “ heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them “ in derision.” He looks down with contempt and disdain upon their puny attempts to subvert his kingdom and counteract his sovereign purposes.
“ Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, “and vex them in his sore displeasure." Let us see how this prophecy was fulfilled. The Jews crucified the Lord Jesus for declaring that he was the promised Messiah, the Son of God. But, behold, he demonstrates himself to be that glorious Redeemer! He dies, indeed, but he rises from the dead, ascends into heaven, takes possession of his exalted throne, and sends forth his Spirit upon his apostles, that they may be empowered to establish his religion in the world. The Jewish rulers and people, however, having blasphemed his miracles, and condemned him to the cross, persist in their enmity, oppose his ambassadors, and persecute his harmless disciples. But what is the consequence : The gospel rapidly gains ground; persecution drives believers into remote regions, to convey the glad tidings to mankind ; the dying martyrs, confirming their testimony by their harmless lives and patient sufferings, shew the excellency of their principles, and expose the odious cruelty of their adversaries. At length the day of vengeance
arrives : “ He that sitteth in the heavens” had poured contempt upon his impotent foes, and triumphed gloriously, notwithstanding their feeble, though determined opposition ; but now “ he “ speaks to them in his wrath, and vexes them in “his sore displeasure.” Jerusalem is surrounded by the Roman legions, the executioners of the sentence which had been pronounced; miserics till then unknown are inflicted on the devoted nation; cleven hundred thousand persons perish in the siege; the survivors are sold for slaves, till no more purchasers can be found; the city and temple are entirely destroyed, and the sacred hill of Zion given up, to be henceforth “ trodden under “ foot of the gentiles,”—according to another