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THE HOPE OF THE DIVINE FAVOUR AND BLESSING
IN FULFILLING THESE DUTIES.
Oh, how GREAT IS THE GOODNESS and compassion of Our God! Christians do not, when they look at the wickedness and apostasy of man, and at the signs of judgment hanging over us, and at the plain threatenings of the word of God, fully realize the riches of his goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering. We may see, in the case of Nineveh, how threatened judgment may be suspended and delayed year after year, and yet may be finally executed, when warnings cease to have effect, and wickedness is full. In the same way God has now been gracious to Christendom. Looking at its wickedness, we might be ready to expect immediate judgments, but he yet waits for the repentance of the wicked. Therefore will He 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.
But let not any reader be ignorant of God's design in this long suffering, it is his goodness leadeth thee to repentance. For this the harvest returns, for this insubordination and lawlessness are again and again repressed, for this peace prevails over a divided and distracted world, for this the elements of war and discord are restrained and the tempest of divine wrath is withheld ; the Lord is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.--How vast and comprehensive his love, not any perish—all come to repentance ! Oh, let none trifle with such long-suffering, let none bring upon themselves by impenitence and hardness of heart the long predicted judgments of his fiery indignation which shall devour his adversaries. He has set a refuge be
where we may be securely sheltered and happy
ASK WHAT THAT REFUGE IS ? It is one freely provided, all-sufficient, and all ready for you. You may by faith joyfully realise it and say, Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid : for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, he also is become my salvation. Isaiah xii. 2. God himself is your refuge and your Redeemer. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life. He has made atonement for our guilt, he has put away our sins by the sacrifice of himself. Believe and live. Only give up all your vain and worldly confidences, for every refuge of lies shall be swept away. Treasures of wickedness profit nothing; riches profit not in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivereth from death. Prov. x. 2 ; xi. 4. Earthly wisdom is vain to rescue you from Omnipotence. There can be no safety, no happiness for the creature while offending the Creator and at enmity with him. What a mercy then is it that there is such a free, such a suitable, such a full salvation for the most guilty open to all, and whosoever will, may take of the water of life freely.
The all-sufficient refuge from all the dangers which have been set before the reader is declared in the word of God. Let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice : let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them : let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee ; for thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous ; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield. The 46th Psalm is a guide in these times. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in the time of trouble. If we do but gain on our foreheads the divine seal of the Holy Spirit now, (Eph. i. 13, 14. Rev. vii. 3.) we shall be preserved from the great tribulation, and stand with the servants of the Lamb in his glory. Rev. xxii. 3, 4. The 90th Psalm is full of comfort to us. The 32nd of Isaiah sets before us our Lord Christ as a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, and contains the promise, my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places, when it shall hail, coming down on the forest, and the city shall be low in a low place. It points out the character of his people as truly liberal, devising liberal things, established thereby, and sowing beside all waters, and so shews us both the character and the safety of God's children. Chambers of safety as from the deluge for Noah in the ark, and for the children of Israel from the last plague of Egypt within the blood sprinkled lintel and door posts, will be provided for the children of God. They will hear, and they will obey the voice, Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee, hide thyself as it were for a little moment until the indignation be overpast. For behold the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity.
Amidst the thick darkness of those days, and the fearful scenes of the indignation of God's anger, and with the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering and tempest and hailstones, when the cry is heard, Behold the name of the Lord cometh from far, burning with his anger, his lips full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire : In that very time, when his breath as an overflowing stream shall reach the midst of the neck, to sift the nations with the sieve of vanity, and there shall be a bridle in the jaws of the people causing them to err : God has made that most faithful and beautiful promise to his own people, Ye shall have a song as in the night, when a holy solemnity is kept and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe, to come into the mountain of the Lord, to the mighty one of Israel. Isaiah xxx. 27—30.
The Lord has ever a reserve of mercy to those who truly call on his name. We may see this in the his
tory of Jonah, and especially when He thus pleads with him: Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow ; which came up in a night, and perished in a night : and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand ; and also much cattle ? How inexpressibly vast beyond all our thoughts, how infinitely high above all our ways, is the love of God our Heavenly Parent! The book of Jonah furnishes a very striking proof of this love. While it has been a peculiar object of infidel scoffing, it is especially marked by the depth of Divine wisdom, and the fulness of Divine love. Jonah's own history is, in the New Testament, made the type of the death and resurrection of our Lord Christ, and the sure ground of a world's hope and salvation. Jonah's preaching to Nineveh, the vast metropolis of Assyria, is also the pattern of the gospel message of God's grace and love to all men, conveyed by the ministers of Christ to the end of time, and of the gracious effects produced by that message where truly believed. This book closes with a most lively contrast between the feeble, partial, and limited love of God's faithful people and messengers, and the boundless compassion and grace of our God himself, even where men's wickedness has come up before him.
We have placed before the reader the awful apostacy