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put down, when there shall be no more occasion for it. But though he will cease to mediate between God and man, his sovereign dominion shall exist to all eternity; “ Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; of thy kingdom there shall be no end." Rejoice then, believers, in your Lord; “ let the children of Zion be joyful in their king.” Cherish his attractive influences: gather yourselves around him yet daily and hourly: spread before him your every want: commune with him on every occasion: consult him; listen to him; obey him: cleave to him with full purpose of heart; so will he keep you stedfast unto the end, and admit you to the richer fruition of his presence in his kingdom above.]
9 1 Cor. xv. 24. This relates to the peculiar mode of adminis. tering the affairs of his kingdom as our Mediator.;
r Isai. ix. 7. Dan. ii. 44. Heb. i. 8.
CL. CHRIST THE STAR SPOKEN OF BY BALAAM.
Numb. xxiv. 15–17. And he took up his parable, and said,
Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: He hath said, who heard the words of God, and knew the knowledge of the most High, who saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth.
IT has pleased God on various occasions to make known his will to persons of a very unworthy character; and to shew that his ways and thoughts are not regulated by the vain maxims of human wisdom. He proclaimed to Ahaz the conception of our Emmanuel in the womb of a virgin. To Nebuchadnezzar he revealed the successive destruction of the four great monarchies, and the erection of the Messiah's kingdom on the ruins of them all. Thus, in the passage before us, we are informed, that he declared to Balaam not only his purposes respecting Israel and the nations that surrounded them, but the advent of that glorious person, who, as a star should enlighten, and as a prince should govern, the whole world. The introduction to this prophecy is not unworthy of our
notice It seems very strongly to characterize the person who delivered it
[When prophecies have been delivered by pious men, they have either been introduced with a plain declaration, " Thus saith the Lord;" or the prefatory observations have been calculated to exalt and glorify God. But Balaam's prediction is ushered in with a pompous exhibition of his own attainments, intended, as it should seem, to wrest from Balak that respect and honour, which he had failed to procure by his preceding prophecies." ]
It shews us too, in a very awful and convincing light, how much knowledge we may possess, while yet we are utterly destitute of converting grace
[The most highly favoured of God's servants from the beginning of the world had not delivered a clearer prophecy of Christ than that which was uttered by Balaam on this occasion. Nor is it improbable that the expectation which obtained throughout the east, that a prince should arise out of Judea and rule the whole world, was occasioned very much by this prophecy. It is remarkable that the Eastern Magi no sooner saw the supernatural siar, than they concluded that this Prince was born, and came immediately to Judæa to enquire, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? Yet where shall we find a baser character than Balaam's? Having considerable knowledge of the true God, he still continued to use inchantments as a magician. He was so covetous that he “ greedily after a reward," and preferred “the wages of unrighteousness” to every consideration, either of duty to God or of love to man. His hypocrisy was conspicuous from first to last; for in the midst of all his high professions of regard to the will and word of God, he laboured to the utmost to counteract the designs of God, and to reverse his decrees. More murderous purposes never were entertained in the heart of man; for it was his most earnest desire to curse all the people of God, and to consign them over to destruction by the sword of their enemies. His last act especially was truly diabolical: when he found he could not prevail to destroy their bodies, he
a There is some little obscurity in the passage occasioned by the translation. The words “whose eyes are open," in ver. 15. should be," whose eyes were shut:" and the words “ in a trance,” which are printed in Italics, should not have been inserted. The former refers to his not seeing the angel, when the ass saw him; and the latter to his falling flat on his face when the angel discovered himself to him. See ch. xxii. 27-31. bo Jude xi. 2 Pet. ii. 15, 16.
taught their enemies how to tempt them and to destroy their souls. After comparing his character with his professions and attainments in divine knowledge, what shall we say? Shall we not tremble for ourselves, lest we should rest in a speculative knowledge of Christ, and fail, after all, of obtaining any saving interest in him? We are elsewhere informed that we may have the gifts of prophecy, of tongues, and of a miraculous faith, and yet be only as sounding brass, or tinkling cymbals. And our Lord assures us that many will in the last day plead the miraculous works that they have performed, but be dismissed with this humiliating answer, Depart from me, I never knew you. Even Judas himself was not, in respect of gifts, behind the
very chiefest apostles. Let us then never value ourselves on any discoveries of divine truth, unless we have suitable affections and a correspondent practice.] The prophecy itself is deserving of particular attention
In its primary sense it must be understood in reference to David
[The immediate intention of Balaam was, to inform Balak « what the Israelites should do unto his people in the latter days.” Accordingly he declares that one, like a star for brightness, should arise from among the Jews at a distant period, to sway the Jewish sceptre, and to destroy the kingdoms of Edom and Moab. This was fulfilled in David, who subjugated the Moabites, and slew every male in Edom.']
But there can be no doubt of its ultimately referring to Christ himself
[Christ is called in scripture “the Day-star," " the bright and morning star;" nor did ever any one arise with splendour comparable to his. He too sat upon the throne of his father David, and exercised unlimited dominion. The children of Edom and Moab may be justly considered as representing the enemies of his church and people. These he subdues and will finally destroy; not one shall live before him: “ he will reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” Doubts have arisen whether by “Sheth” we are to understand that son of Adam, whose posterity alone survived the flood; or some person or place of eminence in Moab; (which on the whole is the more probable) but in both senses the prediction was equally fulfilled in Christ, who " has the heathen for his inheritance and the utmost ends of the earth for his possession.' Him then did Balaam see, as Abraham also had seen four hundred years before, but not, alas! with Abraham's joyful hope. Of his victorious career he spake, saying, “ I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not nigh.”]
e Rev. ii. 14. di Cor. xiii. 1-3. e Matt. vii. 22, 23. f 2 Sam. viii. 2, 14. Ps. Ix. 8. 1 Kings xi. 15, 16.
Should not we then rejoice who have seen this prophecy accomplished ?
[We have not to look forward at the distance of fifteen centuries ; nor yet to travel like the Eastern Magi through trackless deserts to behold the Lord. The star is risen on our benighted world ; the kingdom is established on the ruins of Satan's empire: “ the Prince of this world is cast out;" and every enemy of our salvation is vanquished. We have only to open our eyes and we shall see the beams of the Sun of Righteousness: we have only to yield ourselves up to Jesus, and we shall enjoy all the peace and glory of his kingdom. We may see him even now; we may behold him nigh, even in the very midst of us: O that our eyes may behold him, and that we may
see him for ourselves and not for others!”g Let us improve our privilege : let us pray that this “ Day-star may arise in our hearts:”h and let this monarch so captivate our souls, as to lead us to a willing and unreserved obedience.]
Should we not be thankful too that we have One en. gaged to vanquish all our enemies?
[This is the work and office of the Lord Jesus; nor will he ever fail in the execution of it. What though we be, like Israel, unarmed and unused to war? The Captain of our salvation is mighty; and “he who hath promised is able also to perform." The promised land is before us, and in vain shall our enemies conspire against us. They may strive to curse; but “there is no enchantment against Jacob, nor any divination against Israel:" in due time it shall be said by each of us with wonder and amazement, “ What hath God wrought!'i “ Be strong then, brethren, and very courageous.
“ Believe in the Lord, so shall ye prosper, believe his prophets, so shall ye be established.” Even a worm shall thresh the mountains,” for “ the Lord our God is with us, and the shout of a king is among us.”k Let “ Israel then go forth and do valiantly;" and let the weakest rejoice in a confident expectation of victory;
“ for God is not a man that he should lie, or the Son of man that he should repent."1*]
g Job xix. 27.
h 2 Pet. i. 19. i Numb. xxiii. 23, k Numb. xxiii. 21. IIb. 19.
* The division of the subject is omitted, as in a few other instances, in order to shew how all the subjects might be treated without any division at all. But the natural division would be, I. The Introduction to the Prophecy. II, The Prophecy itself. The two concluding sections would form the improvement.
CLI. CHRIST A LIVING REDEEMER.
Job xix. 25—27. I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that
he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and mine. eyes
shall behold, and not another.
THE trials of the saints have not only been eminently conducive to their own good, but also productive of the best effects to the church at large. It is in afflictive cir. cumstances that their graces have shone most bright; and under them they have made the most glorious confessions, which will be recorded with admiration as long as the world shall stand. Of all the calamities which Job en. dured, there was none more pungent than the uncharitable censures of his friends, which tended to rob him of his only consolation. But he rose superior to them all ; and when he could not convince his friends by argument, he made his appeal to God, and wished it to be written for the vindication of himself, and the encouragement of others to the latest posterity. We shall point out I. The substance of his confession
That Christ is the person spoken of, the very terms here used sufficiently declare Job speaks of him as then actually "living"
[Doubtless Job was no stranger to the promise made to Adam respecting “ the seed of the woman that should bruise the serpent's head;” or to those so often repeated to Abraham, of a “ seed, in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed.” The Father of the faithful had anticipated the advent of that promised seed, and had rejoiced exceedingly in seeing, though at the distance of two thousand years, the day in which he should exist. But Job seems not only to equal, but even to surpass that most distinguished “ Friend of God;" for he saw Christ as actually living; and understood that, which, when spoken by our Lord, so much confounded the Jewish doctors, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Yes, Job beheld him in his pre-existent state, seventeen or eighteen hundred years before he became incarnate; he beheld him as having life in himself, and as being the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.']
b Ib. 58.
a John yiii, 56.
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