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justly be made against those who practically declare his service to be a needless yoke, and an intolerable burthen-]
2. Those who are unconcerned about their eternal salvation
[Many, alas! are as improvident about the future as they are unconcerned about the past-They will profess indeed that heaven is a desirable portion; but they will never enquire seriously whether they be in the way to attain it; nor ever exert themselves in earnest to secure it-If an empty wish, or a formal round of duties, will suffice for the acquisition of it, they will be content to pay the price: but if they are to run as in a race, and to fight as in a single combat in order to have it awarded to them, they do not think it worth the contest-What now must we say of these, but that they are far from righteousness and salvation?"-Surely, if they be far from a concern about these things, much more must they be from the attainment of them-]
When we reflect upon the characters here addressed, how shall we stand amazed at
II. The address itself
The prophet, in these words, foretold both the deliverance of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, and the coming of their Messiah to save the world-To sinners of our day the text declares
1. That God has provided a Saviour for them
[Christ is undoubtedly that "salvation whom God has placed in Zion," and whom we are commanded to call, “The Lord our righteousness"-Him has "God sent into the world to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself"---Hearken to this, ye stout-hearted: though ye have despised your God, your God has not despised you; but has pitied your fallen state, and made provision for your restoration to happiness-Yes; for the angels that fell, he instantly "prepared" a place of unutterable and everlasting torment: but for you he prepared a Saviour, even his only dear Son-And shall not this make your obdurate hearts relent? Or will ye receive such stupendous grace in vain?-]
2. That God now offers salvation to them
[This salvation is nigh to all of us, and the tidings of it are now sounding in our ears-It is placed in this our Zion as much as ever it was in Zion of old-Christ is now present in his ordinances according to his promise; and will be so even to the end of the world At this very hour he "proclaims
* Matt. xxv. 41..
liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound"-To you, even to you, ye stout-hearted, is "the word of this salvation sent"-Your past iniquities shall be forgiven, if only you will humble yourselves before him-Nor is this all: your God will not only restore you to his favour, but will "glory" over you with unutterable joy"You shall be even a crown of glory and a royal diadem in his hands"-Let not then your hearts be yet hardened against him; but let his transcendent "goodness lead you to repentance"-]
1. Endeavour to see your obduracy in its true colours
[If you are free from gross sins, you think but little of an unhumbled and impenitent state-But what can be worse than a seared conscience, and a callous heart?-What can be worse than to feel no sorrow or contrition for your past offences, no desire to please your God, no anxiety to save your souls?-Be assured that such a state, with whatever name it may be glossed over, is hateful in the extreme; and that, if continued in, it will prove as fatal as a course of open profligacy and profaneness
2. Fear lest God should give you up to final impenitence
[The present address, which is made by God himself, shews clearly enough, that he "has no pleasure in the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness and live"-But he is an holy God; nor will his Spirit always strive with man"-He may be provoked at last to swear in his wrath that you shall never enter into his rest" This he most assuredly does with respect to many, who "grieve his Spirit" till they have altogether" quenched" his sacred motions-"To-day therefore, while it is called to-day, harden not your hearts," "lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver"-]
3. Think what regret you will feel, when that salvation, which is now so near you, shall be removed to an unapproachable distance
[Of all the miseries that can afflict a soul in the future world, we cannot conceive any more distressing than the thought of having had a Saviour provided for us, and salvation through him offered to us-No words can express the sense which a self-ruined sinner will have of his folly, when he sees in one view the mercies he has slighted and the judgments he has brought upon himself Now he can be "far from righteousness," and glory in his shame: but then he will see that, which
d Isai. lxii. 3.
even courted his embraces here, removed afar off indeed; so far, as to preclude a possibility of ever attaining the possession of it-The Lord grant, that they who have hitherto slighted these overtures of mercy, may now embrace them with their whole hearts !-]
CLXXI. CHRIST A GREAT SAVIOUR.
Isai. xix. 20. They shall cry unto the Lord because of the oppressors, and He shall send them a Saviour, and a great One, and he shall deliver them.
GOD usually vouchsafes his mercies when we are reduced to the greatest straits
This is manifest in his most remarkable dispensations of providence and of grace
In the greatest extremity God promised to send a deliverer to Egypt
But there is a further reference to Christ as the Saviour of the Gentile world'
And it is in seasons of heavy dejection that He reveals himself to them
To him therefore we must look as the Saviour foretold in the text
I. In what respects He is "a great Saviour"
It is justly said by the Psalmist that "his greatness is unsearchable
Nevertheless we may, not unprofitably, endeavour to illustrate it
He is great when considered in his own person
[He has a name above every name either on earth or in heavenHe is exalted to be a prince that can give repentance and remission of sins d
* In this view it seems applicable to the angel who slew 185,000 of Sennacherib's army: for, though that deliverance was more immediately vouchsafed to the Jews under Hezekiah, yet in its consequences it extended to Egypt. Sennacherib had before conquered and ravaged Egypt; and it was most probable that if he had taken Jerusalem he would have again proceeded thither with his victorious army, and reduced that already desolated kingdom to the lowest ebb of misery. But perhaps there may be a further reference to some other deliverers. b This appears from the whole context, ver. 18-25 Ps. cxlv. 3. d Acts v. 31. VOL. II.
The voice of inspiration calls him," the great God and our Saviour"
He speaks of himself in terms of similar import —
Nor can any thing be more glorious than the description given of him by the prophet -]
He is also great in respect of the salvation he has wrought out for us
[Who can count the number of the sins from which he has delivered us?
Or estimate the misery from 'which he has redeemed us ?Through our whole lives we have been heaping up treasures of wrath
Yet there is no condemnation to us if we be interested in him
Besides, he has purchased for us an eternal inheritance in heaven
We must know all the glories of heaven and the horrors of hell, before we can fully appreciate the greatness of his salvation-]
But before we speak peace to ourselves, it becomes us to enquire
II. For whose deliverance he is sent
Great as his mercy is, it will not indiscriminately extend to all
They, for whose relief he comes, are "oppressed" with the burthen of sin
[The generality, alas! are well contented with their bondage
If he should offer to deliver them they would thrust him from them
But there are some who mourn like the saints of oldThey desire nothing so much as to be delivered from their corruptions
For these Jesus came down from heaven, and died upon the
Nor, though they be lawful captives, will he leave them in the hand of their enemies "-]
They at the same time "cry earnestly to the Lord" for deliverance
[There are some, it must be confessed, who are uneasy in
k Acts vii. 37, 39.
Isai, xlix. 24, 25.
their sins, yet do not with fervour and constancy implore his mercy
Such therefore, notwithstanding their uneasiness, obtain no help from him
His mercy is promised to those alone who seek it with importunity
But humble and believing suppliants shall never be rejected by him
They shall find him a great, compassionate, and all-sufficient Saviour-]
[Let those who are unconcerned about their sins reflect on their state
Would God have sent them such a Saviour if their condition had not required it ?—
Or, will they take occasion from this grace to live more securely in their sins?—
Let them consider that their cries, however available now, will soon be of no effect
Let those who are conflicting with sin and Satan lift up their heads with joy
However desperate their state may seem, their redemption draweth nigh
Nor shall all the powers of darkness rescue them from their Redeemer's hands P
Let those who have experienced deliverance adore their Lord
Let them still go on, "strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus"
And soon they shall join in eternal Hallelujahs to God and to the Lamb-]
Jer. xxiii. 6. This is his name, whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
THE writings of the prophets no less than of the apostles testify of Christ: nor can we any where find a fuiter exhibition of his character than in the words before us As to his origin, he is " a branch from the root of David;" and, in his character, "a righteous "brauch. His