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others, as if they were the dregs and offscourings of the earth : when God gathers any fuch, he hath them to bring down from Kfty elements, and airy vanities, that he may humble them under his mighty hand, and inake them fcop to Shiloh. Others are, as it were, building castles in the air: such are these, who being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to eltablish their own righteouliefs, will not submit to the righteousness of God, Rim. X. 3. This is a high and losty building; but it is like a castle in the air, having no foundation, but the high and airy imagination of these that build it, which the Lord will bring down, when he gathers them out of their heights and altitudes, as you see he does, 2 Cor. x. 5.“ The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but michty thro' God, to the pulling down of strong holds, cafting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”—There you see high things, high thuughts, high imaginations, all high and airy build. ings exalted against Christ, and his rigliteousness; yea, strong holds, such as nothing but the mighty power of God can pull down : such are all the false hopes, and legal dreams of poor finners. They hope they will mend before they die ; they will turn a new leaf, and live a new life, and so pay their own debt, and do their own business themselves : thus they build in the air a refuge of lies, which the hail must sweep away. And indeed God raises a storm in the air, that he may gather his remuant from thence. As in a dangerous storm, the mariner will cast filk and fattin over board, and the most valuable things, rather than periflı ; even fo God raises a form of conviction in the man's conscience, that threatens everlasting shipwreck, that he may cast away his confidence, and legal righteousness; that what things were gain to him, these he may count lifs for Christ.Thus, I say, there are some airths from whence they are gathered. And this leads me to,
4. A fourth remark, viz. that there are several things fupposed and imported in this gathering of the people to Shiloh. To mention some of these,
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(1.) It supposes straying, and imports conversion. It supposes itraying; and indeed the natural state is a firaying and wandering Itate. Tie man is wandering away from God, wandering from his commandments, wandering in a wilderness, wandering he knows not where away; for the devil hoodwinks him; “ The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not:” and fo they wander in the dark; in the darkness of ignorance, unbelief, error, delusion, and confusion; and yet, in the darkness of deep fecurity, never imagin. ing but that they are in the right enough way, though it be the high way to hell, thinking that God is altoge. ther like unt, themselves, and approves their way, and allows them in all thele things, wherein they allow themselves. ----Hence it is impossible to bring them off from their carnal thoughts, and wicked ways, where they are wandering, unless God himself gather them by his convincing grace.---This gathering imports CONVERSIon, wherein Gud lays with porrer, (as he made the world with an omnipotent LET IT BE, fo here,) - Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighieous man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord,” Isaiah lv. 7, 8. But this power of God, whereby le converts fingers, rides in the chariot of grace, saying, as it fullows, “ I will have mercy on him; I will abundantly pardon.” And here is the cord of love and mercy, with which he draws. The gospel of grace is the power of God to falvation, the power of God to conversion; without the faith and apprehension of this mercy, there is no gospel repenting, nor return, no effectual converfion; “ Let him return, for I will abundantly pardon.” There is the motive, which mult be viewed, before any can be moved thereby. But when this mercy of God in Christ, in multiplying pardon where fin hath been multiplied, is once viewed, then the foul is melted and moved. What! is there mercy for the like of me? Pardon for the like of me? And abundant pardon, where fin hath abounded? Oh! will I, for great fins, get great pardons, and for a multitude of fins, a multitude of pardons ? Will the
mountains of mercy overtop and cover all the mountaids of my fins ? O! says God this, even to wicked me? This makes all my bowels melt, and all my bones to say, " Who is like unto the Lord ?" Thus he gathers in conversion, saying, Wicked man, turnr; for I will abundantly pardon: and, O that is a powerful For; like a loadisione, that hath a drawing virtue upon the hard feel; fo will this draw the hard heart, and dissolve it.This. For is backed with another, “ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor my ways your pays;” q. d. With refocêt to the proud secure sinner, do you think that I am altogether like unto yourself, and that I ap. prove of your ways, as if they were my ways, and your thoughts, , as if they were my thoughts? Because you allow yourself in that way, you think I allow you also; and your thought is, that you shall have peace, tho' you walk after the imagination of your own heart : nay, My thoughts are not your thoughts.-Or, with respect to the self-righteous finner, what are your thoughts ? Ycu think that your way is a very good way, and so that it is God's way; and you think that God will accept of you, because you say you do your best, and do as well as you can, and no-body can impeach you, or say black is your eye ; you are a good neighbour; you are honest in your dealings; and so you think you are every way right; and that God thinks as well of you, as you do of yourself; and that his thoughts are your thoughts, and that your way that you are walking in, is his way: Nay, nay, says he; " My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither my ways your ways; for as the hea. vens are above the carth, fo are my thoughts above your thoughts and ways.” O do not measure God's thoughts and ways by your sinful or selfish thoughts and ways: if you would not run into a mistake, man, woman, look to the clouds, and see how far they are above the carth; yea, look to the heavens, and see how far they are above the clouds; yea, look to the God that made the heavens, and see how far he is exalted above the heavens : and if the heavens be so far above you, that you cannot reach them, or measure them; O how far is God above you, that you should attempt to meafure his thoughts and ways by yours !---Or, again, with respect to the humbled finner, that is like to be moved and melted with the view of mercy,' but yet is tempted to doubt and deny it, saying, O my thoughits are, that God will never have mercy on the like of me, such a God-provoking finner; and I fear God's thoughts are the same with mine: Nay, “ My thoughts are not your thoughts,” says God; look to the heavens, man ; look to the heavens, woman; look to the hea. vens, lass; look to the heavens, lad; for as the hea. vens are above the earth, fo are my ways of grace, and thoughts of mercy, above your thoughts and ways: your thoughts are, that I have no way to shew mercy on you ; and therefore, that my thoughts are to ruin. and destroy you ; but I have found a ransom, through which my mercy does make way, and vent to the credit of justice; therefore, “ My thoughts are thoughts of peace, and not of evil.” Judge not my thoughts then by the standard of yours, but rather make the height. of the heavens above the earth to be the standard, whereby to judge the height of my mercy, for overtopping all your fins with abundant pardon; therefore turn: here is the for, the threefold for, or motive, upon which turning, or conversion, is urged.This gathering, I fay, supposes Itraying, and imports conversion.
(2.) It supposes SCATTERING, and imports CONVENTION; it is a gathering together into one, the children of God that were scattered abroad, John xi. 52. The natural state is a scattered state; and God's remnant whom he hath a mind to gather, are not only scattered here and there thro' the earth, but before the Lord gather them, they are like dead and dry bones scattered about the grave's mouth, Pfal, cxli. 7. They are dead in trespalfes and fins; dead spiritually, under the power of sin: dead legally, under the sentence of death and damnation; and not only DEAD bones, but Dry bones; no sap of grace or goodness in them; and not only fo, but SCATTERED bones; How Jhall these dry bones live, or these scattered bones be gathered together? You see this
represented, Ezek. xxxvii. 1,--10. The Spirit of life must come, and gather together the bones and make them live: and then, and not till then, are the scattered Juuls conveened, and gathered to Christ. Then the scattered thoughts, that were scattered among the stuff of the world, are gathered to Clvist; every thought being brouglit in captivity to the cbedience of Christ. Then the fcaitered affections, that were lost among the lusts of the flesh, the lults of the eye, and the pride of life, are gathered and conveened together unto Christ, as the proper ce: tre. Othen, there is a convention of hearts, that were lattered among other objects; “ My son, give me thly heart.” Then there is a convention of defires, to him is the defire of all nations; a convention of delights, to him who is the delight of God and angels. Instead of the desires of the fiel, and the delights of sense, the desire of their souls comes to be towards him, and the remembrance of his name, saying, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none in all the earth that I defire bcfides thee.” Oh! are there not here, dead and dry bo es scattered about the mouth of the grave? dead and dry hearts and affections scattered about the mouth of hell ? Oh! what need of a gathering ?
(3.) It supposes rejection, and imports reception. The natural slate is a state, wherein the man is rejected of God; he hath forsaken God, and God hath forsaken him. But when God gathers the people to Shiloh, he receives them into favour; Isa. liv. 7. “ For a small monieat have I forsaken thee, but with great mercy will I gather thee;” that is, “ I will love thee freely, and re. ceive thee graciously.”
(.) It supposes SEPARATION, and imports UNION. The natural state is a fiate of separation from God, wherein the man is like the prodigal, in a far country; far from God, and far from Christ, and far from grace : " Aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world," Eph. ii. 22. There is an infinite moral distance, as well as natural distance, betwixt God and them. The wall of feparation is such, as none but