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that this people was under, separation from God. 2dly, The party at whose door the blame lies, they who have made the breach. 3dly, The procuring cause of this evil, your iniquities.

As to the ist, Separation is either good or bad, according to the quality of the term from which men are separated. But the separation here is held forth as an evil, and that the greatest evil; for it is a separation from God, an evil which is so heavy, that, when felt, it is enough to make a Cain groan, and say, “ It is greater than I can bear," Gen. iv. 13. Sin makes many separations. It separates the nearest relations; it separates the soul from the body. But all these are inconsiderable in respect of this, the separation of the soul from God. It is an evil still greater, for it is a separation from a covenanted God, YOUR GOD. Free love had separated Israel from all other people on the earth, and made them the Lord's by a peculiar relation ; but sin separates betwixt them and that God to whom they were thus joined. That there thould be a separation betwixt God and the Gentile world, who had professedly joined themselves to other gods, is not to be wondered at; but how dreadful is this, to be separated from our God! No fall is like a fall to hell from off heaven's threshold. The higher persons are raised up, the lower do they link when they fall.

2. Who are to blame? Why, men are ready to say, God is an austere master, and forgetful of the children of men; and from our first father we have it as hereditary, rather to lay the blame on God, than to take it to ourselves. Therefore, he clears himself of it, ver. 1. fhewing he wants neither power nor will to help them, on due application ; and accordingly, he lays the blame where it should be, even on themselves. They made the breach ; VOL. I.

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they they may thank themselves for what they lie under, for they have drawn it on with their own hands.

3. How have they done it? Has God, who is exalted above the heavens, withdrawn from them, because they are on the earth as nothing before him? Cannot Infinite Majesty lodge with the soul in a cottage of clay ? Has he separated from them, because they are mean, hated and despised by their neighbours round about them? No, no, none of these are the causes. Their iniquities are the only cause of all. Nothing but fin could part them. Sin is the only make-bate betwixt God and you. This subject affords us this DOCTRINE, viz. However light people think of

fin, yet it is that which is of fo dreadful efficacy, as to make a separation betwixt God and the lin

Sin separates between God and a soul. In discoursing which, I shall shew,

I. What is that separation which sin makes betwixt God and fouls,

II. I shall evince the greatness of the evil of separation from God, which many go so lightly under.

III. Inquire how lon makes this separation betwixt God and the soul.

IV. Make some practical improvement.--I am to shew,

ner.

I. WHAT is that separation which sin makes betwixt God and a foul. It is not a local feparation ; for “he is not far from every one of us, for in him we live, move, and have our being." Acts xvii. 27. 28. The wicked would fain be at a local feparation, and therefore, in their vain imaginations, they shut up God in heaven, that he

may

i. 9.

may not see what is done on earth. But the immensity and omnipresence of God make this simply impossible ; for as he is God, he is intimately present with us, even in the very centre of our souls ; so that, unless our fins could undeify him, (if the expression may be used), they can make no local separation betwixt him and us. Hence it is remarkable, that even in hell the wicked shall be punished from the presence of the Lord, 2 Thesi. He will not send his strokes

upon them from heaven, or from afar, though he could preserve the force of them by the way, but he will erect his throne of justice among them : “ Whither shall I go from thy spirit ? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there : if I make my bed in hell, bea hold, thou art there : If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermoft parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right-hand shall hold me," Psal. cxxxix. 7.-10. But it is a relative feparation, inferring a distance of opposition betwixt God and the soul, and affecting the man's state, or case, or both. It makes such a separation as is made by whisperers betwixt friends : “ A whisperer," faith Solomon, “ separateth chief friends.” This being the case, the Lord's countenance is not towards the finner as it was before the breach was made. by fin there is an alienating of the finner's affection from God, so in God there is something equivalent to the alienation of affections from the finner, for affections are not properly ascribed to God. Thus, concerning every one that separateth himself from the Lord, and letteth up his idols in his heart, God faith, Ezek. xiv. 8. « I will fet my face against that man, and will make him a fign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the

midit

And as

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midst of my people, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.”

As to this feparation, we obferve,

1. That in it there is something negative ; and that is, the Lord denies them the influences of his grace, countenance, and fellowship; they are deprived of benefits, their fins with-hold good things from them. The scripture expresseth it by the Lord's hiding his face from finners, as it is said in the text, by shewing them the back, and not the face, Jerem. xviii. 17. ; by forgetting them, Hof. iv. 6. Thus the sun of many is gone down, they « stumble at noon, as in the night, and are in desólate places as dead men,” Ifa. lix. 10. They go up and down in the world, as walking statues, carrying dead fouls in their bodies as living coffins ; for God is gone, and his glory is departed from them.

2. There is something positive in it, fin kindles a fire against the soul. (1.) There is a standing controverly God has against finners, Amos iii. 3. « Can two walk together except they be agreed ?" God is displeased with the creature, his Spirit is grieved at him. Anger rests in the bosom of God against the finner, as long as he keeps the finful morsel under his tongue, which, though plea

fool in the mean time, is molt difpleasing to a holy God. (2.) There is a pursuing of this controverly against the finner ; some pofitive outgoings of God's anger against the soul, in angry looks, which, if perceived, are enough to put the stouteft finner out of countenance.

In this did the Lord look unto the host of the Egypway tians, through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled them, Exod. xiv. 24. Angry words, even sad threats, ministered by the word and the man's conscience ; also sad strokes upon the soul,

sometimes

fant to the

poor

sometimes upon the body, sometimes on both at once, are measured out.

But to this it may be objected, says one,“ Happy am I then, for I see no such thing." Anf. Were there no more upon most of us than we feel, we would have a very light burden either of sin or wrath upon us.

But take heed

ye

be not like Ephraim, Hofea, vii. 9. “ Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not; yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth it not.” Or like the Ephesians, chap. iv. 19. “Who being past feeling, gave themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uneleanness with greediness.” Are you going on in your fins ? then be sure God is going on against you, pursuing his quarrel ; and even in small things, if it were but the miscarrying of a basket of bread, the curse of God is in it to a wicked man, which makes it in itself very heavy: There are two kinds of strokes upon the foul : (1.) Deadening strokes ; these are secret strokes which God gives, and they are not easily perceived. By them the conscience is deadened, the foul stupified, and thus the man is fattened for the day of slaughter. People think never to get their fill of ease, and sometimes the Lord gives them enough of it: Hof. iv. 17.

“ Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone,” (Heb. give him reft). (2.) Quickening strokes : Hof. v. 14. “ For I will be to Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah ; I, even I, will tear and go away, and no one shall rescue him.” By such strokes the conscience is made like mount Sinai, when there was nothing but thunder and lightning, and the sound of the trumpet waxing : louder and louder. Many men's consciences are like iron taken out of the fire, and having lain a

little,

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