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ness, and was even honoured by being permitted to minister to our Lord on the mount of transfiguration. We may conclude, therefore, that, in the present instance, the visitation upon the prophet—if it be not presumptuous to limit any judgment of God—was of the like temporal nature. The words of the sentence imply death, and no more than death; and we may

therefore believe that with death the punishment terminated. But in neither case could this be considered as a light infliction : and it proved, in a very striking manner, that the Almighty is jealous of his honour, and determined to be held in reverence by his people.

5. Hence let us ask, in the last place, if God be so extreme to mark what is done amiss by His own prophets and ministers, what shall be the doom of the wilful transgressor ?

If such were the visitation for one offence, what shall be the judgment upon them who live in the habitual violation of his commandments? This reflection may be useful to check the presumption of those persons—if such are to be found—who, because they pretend not to any religion, imagine themselves to h But can any thing be more extrav:

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such a supposition? Do the Scriptures teach us that, like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him ? * represent Him as having pleasure in His people ; as taking up His abode with them; f as shielding them from evil, 5 and causing all things, even their

very afflictions, to work together for their good ; || and shall the wilful sinner think that he will be eventually more secure, precisely because he is not a disciple of Christ? Shall he plead his rejection of Christ, and his contempt of the divine law, in extenuation of guilt, and as a ground of deliverance from punishment? If God be so jealous, as we have seen, with respect to the conduct even of a prophet, will He overlook the deliberate transgressions of those who stand in no such relation to Him? We are not speaking of persons who have no means of knowledge, but of those who, notwithstanding the opportunities of becoming fully enlightened with respect to the will of God, continue wilfully and deliberately in the commission of sin. If the prophet for one offence, and with the plea of some error in the understanding, was thus consigned to temporal death, of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath done despite to the Spirit of grace?* He may escape for the present life; but what will be his condition hereafter? May we, my brethren, learn by the history before us the wisdom of a faithful and persevering obedience! And may that blessed Spirit, which alone can guide us into the way of truth, hold up our goings while we attempt to walk in it! Without that assistance, if a prophet fell, how shall we stand ? But with it, even the weakest believer in Christ shall hold stedfastly on his course, he shall run, and not be weary, he shall walk, and not faint.

* Ps. ciii. 13.

+ Ps. cxlvii. 11 | John xiv. 23. || Rom. viii. 28; 2 Cor. iv. 17.

§ Ps. cxv. 9.

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* Heb. x. 29.

+ Isa. xl. 31.

SERMON XIII.

THE CONSTANCY AND DELIVERANCE OF SHA

DRACH, MESHACH, AND ABEDNEGO.

DANIEL iii. 16-18.

“ Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to

the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

THERE never has been a period, from the earliest ages, in which the knowledge and fear of God were entirely banished from the earth. However general might be the wickedness of mankind, some there were, in every generation, who worshipped Him in spirit and in truth : and if, at the moment when a distinguished prophet expressed the melancholy persuasion, that he alone was left a sincere and faithful worshipper of Jehovah, there were to be found in Israel seven thousand persons who had not bowed their knees to Baal, it is probable that the true servants of God have usually been more ness, and was even honoured by being permitted to minister to our Lord on the mount of transfiguration. We may conclude, therefore, that, in the present instance, the visitation upon the prophet—if it be not presumptuous to limit any judgment of God—was of the like temporal nature. The words of the sentence imply death, and no more than death; and we may therefore believe that with death the punishment terminated. But in neither case could this be considered as a light infliction : and it proved, in a very striking manner, that the Almighty is jealous of his honour, and determined to be held in reverence by his people.

5. Hence let us ask, in the last place, if God be so extreme to mark what is done amiss by His own prophets and ministers, what shall be the doom of the wilful transgressor ?

If such were the visitation for one offence, what shall be the judgment upon them who live in the habitual violation of his commandments? This reflection may be useful to check the presumption of those persons—if such are to be found—who, because they pretend not to any religion, imagine themselves to be secure. But can any thing be more extravagant than

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