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placed their confidence in the living God. To exeite terror in the wicked and profane, he denounces awful threatenings of the most direful calamities whereby the kingdom of Ephraim was to be overthrown. To cherish in the servants of the Most High the lively expectation of the blessings of divine grace, in the most perilous condition of the church, he explicitly declares, that they were to be plentifully enjoyed in the last days. This elegant prophetic discourse may be distributed into two parts, in the first of which, now to be considered, the Prophet exposes the egregious folly of the Il. raelites, in requesting the assistance of that nation who, in former times, had inslaved and oppressed their fathers. For this purpose he contrasts the wifdom and power of Jehovah, with the wisdom and power of the Egyptians; he exhibits an illustrious instance of the divine protection to be afforded to the citizens of Jerusalem, when besieged by the As, syrians; and, having invited them to return to God, he foretels the total destruction of the formidable enemies of Judah.
CHA P. XXXI.
O to them that go down to Egypt for
help, and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong: but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the LORD,
Our Prophet introduces the subject which he was to treat, by denouncing against the persons whose conduct he reprobates, those complicated calamities that demonstrate the displeasure of the Almighty against perverse transgreffors, those terrible judgments
which they incur who put their trust in man in whom there is no help. The odious crime whereby the Ephraimites became exposed to the awful punishment threatened against them, is described nearly in the same terms with those employed in the preceding chapter. Distrusting the Lord God, who in times paft had been their defence and deliverer, and placing foolish confidence in the power of Egypt; they folicited from thence assistance in the present critical situation of public affairs. Though they well knew, or might have known, that a horse is a vain thing for safety, neither shall he deliver any by his great strength; yet they viewed the military force, the cavalry and chariots of war they expected from Egypt, as their stay in the season of impending danger.- Put not trust in men of low
degree who are vanity, nor in men of high degree * who are a lie. If you confide in human aid, you shall certainly be deceived or disappointed; you shall be ashamed or vexed; you shall feel the effect of the curse connected with such impious conduct. We may apply to men for help, but we must take heed that we trust not in creatures whose breath is in their nostrils.—The fin here threatened was highly aggravated by the following circumstance:
But they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, &c. Insensible to their own insufficiency and indigence, they did not survey, in the exercise of believing contemplation, the perfections, the promises, and providence of God; nor did they recollect, with suitable dispositions of mind, the intimate relations in which they stood connected with him whom they ought to have honoured and sanctified.--Neither did they seek the Lord; they requested not with earnestness his direction, assistance, and protection, his favour and support. Indifferent to the important benefits which they ought to have been solicitous to obtain, they did not ask them from God with faith and fervency, with integrity and uprightness, with humble dependence, perlevering continuance,
and lively hope of success. Would you, my brethren, escape the miseries denounced in this verse; trust not in the creature, which is only as a bowing wall, and a tottering fence; repress that confidence which might withdraw your hearts from God, and terminate in your disgrace and ruin. If you lean on the creatures as a stait, they will pierce your hand like a broken reed; if you take shelter in them as in a rock, they may fall upon you and prove your destruction. He that trusteth in vanity, vanity shall be his recompense. In every difficulty and danger, have recourse to God for support and deliverance, whose secret powerful operation moves the hearts, the tongues, and hands of men. • Better it is to * trust in God than to put confidence in man, who may be unable or unwilling to help, or be cut oft before he can convey to us any subitantial relief.
2 Yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words; but will arise against the house of the evil doers, and against the help of them that work iniquity.
In this verse, sharp reproof is administered to those who, depending on human aid, neglect to acknowledge God. To convince them of their folly and presumption, they are instructed, that the wisdom, the power, and faithfulness of Jehovah, being infinitely superior to the excellencies possessed by people of the greatest celebrity, render hin the moft proper object of confidence. The Egyptians were anciently considered by neighbouring nations as a wise, political, and powerful people ; they were long held in high estimation, on account of their learning and acquaintance with many useful arts and sciences. Admitting that they justly deserved this refpectable character, yet it ought to be remembered, that “ he who giveth wisdom, must himself be wise, • he who teacheth man knowledge, shall not he • know?' lle is the only wile God, whose wisdom
and understanding are infinite. If men are reckoned wife who poflefs extensive acquaintance with im. portant subjects, who govern with prudence their passions, who manage their affairs with discretion, and pursue the best ends by the most proper means; surely the Most High also is wise, from whom proceeds all the wisdom and skill which is dispersed throughout the creation. Be it then, as you say, that the people from whom you alk assistance are wife and prudent, yet you cannot deny that God also is wife, infinitely wiser than men, who are indebted to him for all the penetration and fagacity they possess. He can eafily defeat both you and those whom you call to your aid, and baffle all your best concerted schemes. He, who with consummate skill, directs the whole course of nature, the actions of all his creatures, and the events that happen throughout the universe, can Dever want instruments to execute his purposes, and to frustrate the designs of those who contemn his direction and support. Let us then acknowledge God in all our ways, not only in dubious and perplexing circumstances, and in arduous interprizes; but in the ordinary businesies of life. Conscious that the way of man is not in himself, that we cannot aright direct our steps ; let us alk bis conduct and bleffing in all our affairs, and commit our works unto the Lord, and our thoughts shall be established.
And will bring evil, &c. In place of the good that you expect shall accrue from the wisdom and power of your confederates. The evil predicted is not what is called moral evil, or fin, which doth not proceed from God; but that which is known by the name of natural evil, affliction, and calamity; the proper consequence and just punishment of transgression. Of all the diftresles comprised in this fort of evil, Almighty God is the sovereign wise disposer, to whose permission and agency they must be afcribed. Can a bird,' (faith the Prophet Amos) fall * into a fnare upon the earth, where no gin is laid • for him?" It must be planted for that purpose by
. a skilful hand. He again inquires, as the proper application and inference to be deduced from this figure, • Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it *?' Affliction doth not spring out of the ground, like those herbs and plants which grow without labour and cultivation, it is not casual, nor doth it come by accident. It proceeds from the all-wise righteous appointment of the supreme Lord of all; it is dispensed by infinite wifdom to individuals and societies, as the fruit and punishment of fin. It is the rod whereby the Lord chastens, the furnace in which he refines his people. From the nature of this painful, but falutary medicine, we may often collect the kind of distemper it was intended to cure ; from the threatened or inflict ed evil, we may discover the procuring cause that brought it on. And will not call back bis words.
· God is not a • man that he should lie, neither the son of man that • he should repent; hath he faid, and shall he not • do it? hath he spoken, and shall he not make it • good +?' He will not retract what he hath said. • His word that goeth forth out of his mouth, shall • not return to him void; but it shall accomplish
that which he pleases, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto he fends it T.' No good reason can be alligned, why Jehovah should recal his words. Our natural instability, our want of foresight, our incapacity to execute our resolutions, frequently give rise to a change in our sentiments, and oblige
to alter our purposes: But God is of one mind, and none can turn him ; all his works are known to him from the beginning; for him nothing is impollible; and therefore what he hath spoken with his mouth, he will accomplish with his hand. In vain then do those who look to men for help, expect that God will alter his determined purposes, and allow them to perfiit in wickedness, and pass unpunished. The expression before us plainly intimates,
that Chap. iii. 56. + Numb. xxiii. 19.
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