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some character of God's anger against them upon it; came to them as a messenger of displeasure. So a thing, small in itself, may be a great curse. To be cast out unburied is no great matter. Natural men slight it: Calo tegitur qui non habet urnam. There is little difference, to lie eaten of beasts above ground, or of worms beneath. Yet, when foretold to a man as a judgment denounced from God, as against that king, Jer. xxii. 19, it hath its own weight, carrying some stamp of God's despising him. And though a man feels it not when it is done, yet he feels it, looking on it before-liand, especially as threatened of God; sees himself, as it were dragged about and torn.
Now, if any little particular cross, marked with God's present anger, becomes so heavy, how much more is His abiding, prolonged wrath, the thing here spoken of-anger, to which no bounds is set! That, says he, in the name of his people, would bring me to nought. There is no standing before it ; it will make the stoutest and proudest to shake, yea, shakes them to pieces. If the wrath of a king be to meaner men as the roaring of a lion, (Prov. xix. 12,) how much more terrible, even to kings themselves, is the wrath of God! This great King, whose voice shakes the mountains, and makes the earth to tremble, armies of terrors and deaths are nothing to å look of His angry countenance. If He withdraws not His anger, the proud helpers stoop under Him. Job ix. 18. The helpers of pride, the great Atlasses of the world, who are thought to bear up all, those who, for their wit and power, are thought the supporters of the kingdoms, how soón are they crushed to pieces by a touch of this anger of God, and perish at the rebuke of His countenance! O Lord, says that holy man, Psal. xc. 11, considering the frailty of poor man, and the power of God, who knows the power of Thine anger? Even according to Thy fear, so is Thy wrath; full as much, yea, far more terrible than we can apprehend it.
They who dare go on in ways wherein it may be but suspected that He is against them, Oh! they know Him not.
Let us consider, and fear before Him; and, for the land, still entreat the turning away of His wrath, rather than deliverances from any pressures: Lord, while Thou thinkest good further to afflict us, so as to draw us nearer to Thee, we are content, yea, we will bless Thee; but whatsoever Thou do with us, suffer not Thý hot displeasure to arise against us, for then we are undone. So this is all a soul under His hand, in affliction, ought to say, Correct me, but not in wrath, lest Thou bring me to nothing: Thou knowest I cannot stand before that. He is pleased to look to this, and to express it as that which moderates His anger, even when justly incensed; Isa. lvii. 16., I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth; for the spirit should fail before me, and the souls which I have made. Lord, if Thou wilt, how quickly and how easily couldst Thou break into pieces, or sink înto nothing, not only me, a little atom of it, but the entire frame of this whole world; and, therefore, strive not with me. This Job often represents, and God is pleased to move Himself to restrain His wrath, and draw forth His merey by it. His great compassion lays hold on such considerations. See Psal. lxxviii. 38, 39, and Psal. cili. 14. And this may furnish great confidence to souls under a sense of wrath, that do but fall down and entreat for mercy. He who so often prevents us, when we seek it not, will He cast any one away who seeks and sues for it?
The diversion of this anger, briefly relates to the heathen, the professed and obdurate enemies of God and His Church: q. d. Thy wrath, O Lord, may have its course, and yet, spare Thy people. There is matter enough for it round about, that is good for nothing else; and good reason for it, besides all other wickedness, their spite and cruelty against Thy people: For they have eaten up Jacob.
Note the character of the ungodly, who are fit fuel for this fire, That know not, and call not on Thy name; that profess not, pretend not to be Thine. Tremble, you who are too like these, though reputed amongst the people of God. Seek
the knowledge of God, and worship Him, families and persons, lest this curse come upon you.
Now, this is a prophetical foretelling of the utter destruction of the Church's enemies, whereas the Church is corrected in measure, and not destroyed. She is first punished; but they that come last, the enemies, the heaviest wrath falls down there, and smothers them, ends on them, and make a full end of them. Jer. xxx. 11. The belief of this may uphold the faithful in the Church's greatest distresses. When at the lowest, then the wrath is nearest changing place and removing to her enemies.
And this is to be so desired and prayed for, in reference to the implacable enemies of God, that we beware we mix nothing of our own interest or passion with it. As wrath in God is without any disturbance, astuas et tranquillus es, so somewhat like is the desire of it in the godly, a calm, undistempered love of the name of God. And so shall the saints rejoice in the final victory and triumph of Christ over. all his enemies, and their final ruin in that day when they shall be made his footstool. Then they shall have a pure complacency and delight in his justice; that shall make all even. And why are we disquieted, if we hope for that day?
ISAIAH XXX. 15-19.
For thus saith the Lord God, the holy One of Israel, In returning and rest shall ye be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength; and ye would not.
But ye said, No, for we will flee upon horses, therefore shall ye flee: And we will ride upon the swift, therefore shall they that pursue you be swift.
One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one: at the rebuke of five shall ye flee, till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.
And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment; blessed are all they that wait for him.
In the sentence of that greatest and biggest judgment that ever yet came on the world, the universal deluge, as we have it, Gen. vi., that word doth most lively express the reason of it, My Spirit shall not always strive with man. For thus it is, while He spares even His own people, He is at a continual strife with them by gracious entreaties and mercies, by advices, and warnings, and threatenings, still contesting; that is the way He uses in the contest, on His part, against refusals, and revolts, and rebellions on their part. Thus here.
The question betwixt Him and His people here, is about the help of Egypt: this God often declares to be wholly against His mind and their own good; yet they on all occasions had so strong a mind to it that they could not be diverted. The Prophet here hath his message concerning this point, to preach it, and to write it, to remain ad perpetuam rei memo
riam, as they speak, that it may be for the time to come, for ever and ever; ver. 8; shews them plainly, that this course was wholly without the counsel and consent of God, yea, directly against it, and that it should succeed accordingly: The strength of Pharaoh shall be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion; it shall prove to you according to its name, d land of distress and trouble, instead of help. And if you would know what would suit that other name of Egypt better, that were humble yieldance to God, and confidence in Him: your Rahab, your best Egypt, your truest strength were, to sit still. Ver. 7. This is here again represented to them, so gladly would He reclaim them.
For thus saith the Lord.] The words have, 1st. God's express advice to His people. 2dly, Their peremptory refusal of it. 3dly, His just sentence passed upon their obstinacy. The advice is prefaced with the usual words of the prophets, Thus saith the Lord; for in that lies the dignity and authority of the message. His advices, doubtless, are the choicest and the safest; yea, His counsels are all commands, requiring duly the most absolute obedience.
The Lord Jehovah.] Were but His word known to be His, and taken so, how would our souls melt, and yield to the impressions of it, when we read or hear! Oh! learn to hear Him, to take every word of His as from His own mouth, every time the law is read, as if thou heard it from Mount Sinai. So think, Now God commands me to fear Him, as if you heard Him speaking from heaven. That would level more our opinion of men, and make less difference of His messengers.
Another word of His style is here added, The holy One of Israel. This is much to be considered by His people, the holiness of His nature, and withal, the nearness of His relation to them, and so, the reverence and obedience we owe Him, our deep engagement to holiness, as His people, His children. This is His image in us, if we are truly such. All His sons and daughters are like Himi, holy as He is holy.