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xlv. 22: “ Look unto me, and be ye saved,” They encourage one another to this, Heb. xii. 2: " Let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” And we find them declaring their experience of the profit and advantage of so doing, Psal. xxxiv. 5: “ They looked unto him, and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed.” A sight of him inspired them with such undaunted boldness, that they could look all their enemies in the face, without being in the least dismayed.
2dly, Study to be well acquainted with the way that he has broken
You have an account of the way by the prophet Isaiah, chap. xxxv.: “A highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it, but it shall be for those; the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein." This is none other than the cleanly way of justification and acceptance by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which discovers itself in the study of holiness, both in heart and life: so that Christ himself, accepted by faith, both for justification and sanctification, for righteousness and strength, is the highway cast up for us to walk in.
“I am the way," says Christ, John xiii
. 6; " no man cometh to the Father, but 'by me.” Study, I say, to be well acquainted with this way of access, this way of salvation. It is not the way of works, but the way of grace: “ By grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” It is not the filthy way of sin, but the cleanly way of obedience to the law of God; and when you have obeyed, even in the strength of the Lord, you must make mention of his righteousness, even of his only.
3dly, Seeing Jehovah is at your head, put on Jehovah's armour: “ Put on the whole armour of God,” says the apostle, Eph. vi.; where you have also an account of the several pieces of the Christian armour, such as the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, &c. This is sometimes called the armour of light, because it comes from the Father of lights, the Author of every good gift, and perfect gift; and, because all the pieces of the Christian armour, such as faith, hope, sincerity, and truth, are all founded in light, even “ the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ ;" and because, like bright shining armour, it is beautiful in the eyes of the world; their light shines before men, so that others, seeing their good works, glorify their Father which is in heaven. And, particularly, I would recommend a holy dexterity in handling the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; because, by this weapon, your glorious Captain-General baffled the enemy, in his encounter with him in the wilderness; and therefore study, like the valiant [life guards] of King Solomon, to have this “sword girded on your thigh, because of fear in the night."
Athly, Observe carefully Jehovah's orders, seeing Jehovah your King is at your head. By the martial law, it is death for a soldier to disobey the orders of his leader and commander. What anarchy and confusion would there be in an army, if it were otherwise ! O sirs, seeing your King passes before
you, and Jehovah at your head, be sure to do whatever he cominands you. He has given forth “ his good, his perfect, and acceptable will; he has showed thee what is good, and what the Lord thy God requires of thee." And if kings, parliaments, magistrates, ministers, or be who they will, command or require you to do otherwise than Jehovah has directed you, you have an answer ready at hand, " Whether it be righi, in ihe sight of God, to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.”
5thly, In following Jehovah as your renowned King and General, be sure to keep the rank and sphere in which he has put you; for Jehovah is not the author of confusion, but he is a God of order. So soon as an army in battle begins to break their ranks, and to fall into disorder, it is an evidence that they are worsted by the enemy, and therefore great care is taken, by a skilful general, to keep the soldiers in their proper rank and order. So here, the Captain of salvation will have every one to abide in the vocation in which he is called; he will have magistrates to act under him in their sphere, ministers in theirs, and private Christians in their capacity; and if every one thus study to serve the Lord in their proper station, the whole body of believers shall be edified and built up, and the very women, though they tarry at home, yet they shall divide the spoi).
6thly, Whenever you find yourself distressed by the attacks of the enemy, sin, Satan, or the world, be sure to cry to Jehovah for help; for he is on your head, and passes on before you. This has been the practice of the followers of the Lamb in all ages of the world, Psal. xxxiv. 6: “ This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his distresses." You have Jehovah's command so to do: “ Call upon me in the day of trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me." I can assure you that the cry of one of his soldiers, in distress by the enemy, goes to his heart, and awakens his resentment; how much more when the whole church is crying to heaven, because of the injuries that are done her, either by the wild boars, or else by wolves in sheep's clothing ? I can assure you, that the Breaker will come up at the cry of his poor people, when they are oppressed, either in their civil or spiritual rights and privileges. I read a lecture to you to that purpose, Psal. xviii. 6: “In my distress I called upon the Lord,” (namely, when floods of ungodly men made him afraid, ver. 4.) Well, the Breaker takes the field, and see what awful work follows, from ver. 7, to ver. 14.
7thly, Seeing Jehovah is on your head, as your King and the Captain of your salvation, let never his standard fall, if you can keep it up. Jehovah has lifted up his standard in Scotland, beyond many nations of the earth, a standard of pure doctrine, discipline, worship, and government. Attempts are made at this day to pull down this standard, though we lie under the strongest ties, both national and personal, to stand by it.
Some are attempting to pull down the standard of doctrine, particularly by denying the self-existence and supreme deity of the Son of God, our renowned King and Head.
Others are attempting to strike at the government of the church, by a tyrannical and lordly usurpation upon the rights of the Lord's people, in choosing their own pastors.
And some talk of a bill preparing in the parliament of Britain, by which a deeper wound is yet to be given to the church of God in this matter.
But be who they will, that act such a part against the known rights and privileges of the subjects of the King of Zion, I pretend to be no extraordinary prophet, yet I think I may warn them, in the name of God, that the Breaker will take the field against them in his own time and way, and recompense tribulation to them that trouble his people.
Mean time, let me exhort the Lord's people, " to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them frec, that they be not entangled again with any yoke of bondage,” that men would wreath about their necks; and, in so doing, you have this for your encouragement, the breaker is come up before you; your King passes before you, and Jehovah on your head; and, if the Lord be for you, who can be against you?
ETHIOPIA STRETCHING OUT HER HANDS TO GOD.
Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.-Psal. LXV111. 31.,
THE FIRST SERMON ON THIS TEXT.
This psalm was penned, probably, upon the occasion of David's carrying up the ark from the house of Obededom, to the tent he had pitched for it in Mount Zion, by which was typified the ascension of Christ, and the erection of his spiritual kingdom and government in the world, by the preaching of the everlasting gospel. You see his ascension and exaltation spoken of, ver. 18: “thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive, thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell amongst them.” And in the following part of the psalm is foretold the erection of his kingdom, notwithstanding all the opposition that should be made to it, either by hell or earth.
The words read (not to insist in the entrance) are a declaration of the success of the gospel among the Gentile nations: Ethiopia, Egypt, and other places of the world, would submit to his royal sceptre, when it should be swayed among them in the dispensation of the gospel, Princes shall come out of Egypt, Ethiopiu shull soon stretch out her hands unto God. It is only the latter clause of which I am to speak: Where,
1st, We have a solemn act of divine worship, and that is, the stretching out of the hands. The actions of the body are the expressions of the actions of the soul or mind, Psal. cxliii. 6, says the psalmist, "I stretch forth my hands unto thee, my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land, Selah." So Psal. cxli. 2: “Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice." So that the internal worship of the soul is the thing intended by the listing up of the hands. And in every act of worship, faith, which is the hand of the soul, is the leading and principal part, insomuch that," without faith, it is impossible to please God."
2dly, We have the object of this worship, or to whom the hand is to be lifted up: it is to God; to “God in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses
unto them.” An absolute God cannot be the object of a sinner's faith, hope, trust, and confidence; but, on the contrary, the object of his terror and amazement. Hence, like our father Adam, before the revelation of the promised seed, we fly from him, and do not love to retain the knowledge of him in our thoughts; as it is said of the heathen world, Rom. i. 28, who want the knowledge of Christ.
3dly, In the words we may notice, who they are that stretch out their hands unto God; Ethiopia, which may be understood either literally or figuratively. If we take it figuratively, it is to be understood of the Gentile nations in general, a part being put for the whole. God the Father had said to the Son, Psal. ii., “ Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”. And, accordingly, upon his resurrection and ascension, the gospel came to be preached to the Gentiles, according to the commission given to the apostles, Mark xvi. 15: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel unto every creature" under heaven; that is, to all nations of the world, without distinction. And thereupon Ethiopia, with the rest of the Gentile nations received the word of the gospel, and did obeisance to the Son of God. And how the leaven of the gospel came to be spread unto Ethiopia, in particular, we have some account, Acts viii. 27, to the close, where we are told of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch, by the ministry of Philip, who, after a confession of his faith in Christ, being baptized in his name, went on his way towards his own country, rejoicing; and, no doubt, would spread the glad tidings of salvation through Christ in his own country, some of the fruits of which are said to remain amongst the Abyssinians of Inner Ethiopia to this day.
4thly, We have the ready and cheerful obedience that is given by Ethiopia, or the Gentile nations, to the call of the gospel; they soon “ stretch out their hands unto God;" that is, they will do it without delay, and with readiness of mind; a literal accomplishment of which you will see, Acts xiii. 40, 47, 48; where, when the Jews rejected the gospel, the apostle tells them, that seeing they put the word of God from them, “ lo, we turn to the Gentiles, for so hath the Lord commanded us; saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldst be for salvation to all the ends of the earth.” And then it is added, " And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord;" that is, they entertained it with a ready mind.
5thly, We have the certainty of the event, they “shall stretch out their hands unto God :" As if he had said, However firmly they were rooted in their ignorance and idolatry,