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therefore exercise the same caution; and, whether we rejoice on account of national or personal mercies,“ rejoice with trembling P."] 2. In adversity
[As in prosperous circumstances we need to be guarded against presumption, so in heavy trials we need to be cautioned against despondency. If we appear to be forsaken of our God, we are apt to think that he has altogether “shut up his tender mercies, and will be favourable to us no more 9. But in the words before us we see, that no nation or individual can be in so low a state, but that their recovery is certain if only they wait patiently upon God. He will assuredly be found of them that seek him: yea, at the very time that they perhaps are bewailing his absence, he “is actually present with them, working in them that very contrition, and enabling them to wait upon him, when their unassisted nature would have fainted in despair.
Let every one then apply to himself the text in this view. Are we ignorant? let us look to God for the teachings of his Spirit. Are we guilty? let us cry to him for remission through the blood of Christ. Are we in any strait or difficulty whatever? our way is clear; let us wait upon God in assured expectation of succour and support. This promise shall never fail us?: though we had a millions of men or devils to encounter, we should be “ more than conquerorst.” “ Believe in the Lord; so shall ye be established: believe his prophets; so shall ye prosper "?"] ? p Ps. ii. 11.
a Ps. lxxvii. 7-9. r Heb. xi. 6. s 2 Chron. xiv. 9. t Rom. viii. 37. u 2 Chron. xx. 20.
* The subject may be further improved : 1. For caution ; to guard against any secret evil in the heart, or any remissness of duty in the life, which may offend God. See 1 Chron. xxviii. 9. 'with the first clause of ver. 10. Mark this passage carefully. And, 2. For encouragement ; since, if he be for us, we need- not fear, however many there may be against us.
ENCOURAGEMENT TO EXERTION.
2 Chron. xv. 7,8. Be ye strong therefore, and let not your
hands be weak : for your work shall be rewarded. And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage.
THERE are two extremes to which mankind are prone—presumption, and despondency. To the
former the ungodly are inclined; to the latter, the righteous. King Asa was a man who “ did that which was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God"," and « his heart was perfect all his daysb:" yet did he need encouragement from a prophet of the Lord, to sustain his fainting mind.
In the passage before us, we have, I. An historic record
Asa had been enabled to vanquish an host of not less than a million of Ethiopians, with an army of little more than one half their number. But in his own kingdom there was a great work to perform, a work which he despaired of ever being able to accomplish. God, however, mercifully sent him a prophet, to raise his drooping spirits, and to animate him to his appointed work. Hear the message delivered to him
[“ Be strong, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be rewarded." Think nothing too arduous to be attempted, provided the Lord call you to it
And never doubt of success in any thing that you undertake for Him ---] Mark, too, the effect produced upon his mind
[“ He took courage.” And how did he evince the power of that grace which had been bestowed upon him? He put down idolatry throughout his dominionsa moned all his people to enter into a solemn“ covenant with God, to serve Him with all their hearte”
and “ he deposed his mother from her throne, because she had made an idol ; which he cut down, and stamped, and burned at the brook Kidron f” --]
In this noble conduct he has left to us, II. An encouraging example,
We also have difficulties, every one of us, to encounter[Great are the corruptions by which we are assailed
And fierce will be the opposition which will be
made to us, if we exert ourselves for the reformation of others ---]
But to us, no less than to Asa, are the prophet's words addressed _
(We should be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his mighth." and if we “hold fast our confidence in him, we shall have a great recompence of rewardi.” We are assured that “our labour shall not be in vain in the Lordk."] In us, also, should they produce a similar effect[They should encourage us to serve the Lord alone to serve him with our whole hearts
to serve him “ without partiality, and without hypocrisy!." The nearest friends must be withstood, and the most endeared lust be mortified. Not a right hand, or right eye, must be retained: every thing that is offensive to God must be sacrificed without reserve.] APPLICATION
[If Asa acted thus on one single word of encouragement, what may be expected of you, who have had all the promises of God set before you from Sabbath to Sabbath, through many successive years? If He, under that dark dispensation, acted so noble and consistent a part, what may be expected of you, who live under the full light of the Gospel, and are instructed in all the wonders of redeeming love? --]
8 See Isai. xxxv. 3, 4. k 1 Cor. xv. 58.
h Eph. vi. 10.
i Heb. x. 35. 1 Jam. iii. 17. 1 Tim. v. 21.
ASA'S COVENANT WITH GOD. 2 Chron. xv. 12—15. And they entered into a covenant to
scek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; that whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. And they sware unto the Lord with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them; and the Lord gave them rest round about.
FEW persons have any just idea of the use and efficacy of ministerial exertions, when accompanied with power from on high. In the context, we see one man, a prophet of the Lord, standing up in Jehovah's name, and by one single address turning a whole nation to the Lord their God. Doubtless the prophet Oded had a peculiar commission, and was honoured with a far greater measure of success than any minister in this day is authorized to expect : nevertheless every servant of the Lord, to whomsoever he may be sent, whether to kings or subjects, should deliver his message with fidelity; and in so doing, may expect that God will render his word effectual for great and extensive good. In the hope that our message shall not be altogether in vain, we come to you now in Jehovah's name, and call upon you to covenant with him as Asa and his subjects did : and, that we may prevail with you to comply with our injunctions, we will distinctly consider, I. What covenant they made
Here we shall separately notice, 1. The covenant itself
[This related to nothing which they were not previously bound to fulfil. To “ seek the Lord God of their fathers" was their duty: the law of Moses, yea, the law of nature, bound them to it: and reason, no less than revelation, told them, not only that they should seek after God, but that they should seek him with their whole hearts.] 2. The manner in which they made it
[Their zeal was very remarkable; yet it was precisely what the occasion called for. That they should all solemnly swear to this covenant, and devote to death every soul that should refuse to concur in it, seems an instance of unparalleled harshness and intolerance; yet were both the oath which they took , and the proscription which they agreed to“, expressly required in the law of Moses: if a husband or a wife were to propose a departure from God, it was the duty of the party who was so tempted to give information to the magistrate, and, on conviction of the offender, to take the lead in executing the sentence of death upon him.]
a In ver. 1. he is called “Azariah the son of Oded :" and we apprehend that when, in ver. 8, he is called “Oded,” the son of Oded is meant ; this being a common abbreviation in the Scriptures. But in a popular discourse it is not necessary to notice this. b Deut. xxix. 10–15.
c Deut. xvii. 2-5.
But it will be asked, Would you propose this as a pattern for us? We answer, Yes : we would propose it as a pattern, both in the matter and the manner of it : 1. In the matter of it
[Let us covenant " to seek the Lord God of our fathers with our whole heart, and with our whole soul.” To seek him thus is our duty, independently of any covenant: it is due to God as our Creator; it is due to him also as our Redeemer. Did our God come down from heaven to seek us ; and shall not we seek him? Did he give up himself to the accursed death of the cross for us; and shall we content ourselves with offering him a divided heart? What is the thing that deserves to be put in competition with him? What has done so much for us, or what can? Have the vanities of this world, “ the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," any pretension to be his rivals ? O let a sense of his unbounded love and mercy lead us to consecrate ourselves altogether to his service! if the Jews, on account of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage by the exertions of Omnipotence, were bound to seek and serve God with their whole hearts, much more are we, who have been redeemed from sin and Satan, death and hell, by the blood of God's co-equal, co-eternal Son.] 2. In the manner of it
[If it be thought that we are not called to swear, we answer, that we all have sworn already in our baptism ; and have renewed our oath when we were confirmed: and, as often as we have attended at the table of the Lord, we have again repeated our oath to renounce the devil and all his works, and to serve the Lord Jesus Christ as our only Lord a.
With respect to the proscription, we acknowledge that we are not at this time to enforce Christianity by an appeal to the civil power: and that to inflict the penalty of death on any persons on account of their neglect of Christ, would be to oppose the plainest dictates of his religion: but yet we may, and must, declare, that the judgments of God shall overtake all who either reject him altogether, or seek him with a divided heart: yea, the sentence of eternal misery denounced against
d The term Sacramentum was used to signify the oath by which the Roman soldiers engaged never to desert the General under whom they fought.