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“ withdrawn his hand, and wrought for his name's “sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the “ heathen." In prosecuting this subject, I shall,
I. Make some brief observations on the text, as illustrated by the Lord's dealings with the nation of Israel.
II. More fully consider the words as applicable to the present circumstances of this our favoured land.
1. Then, I shall make some brief observations on the text, as illustrated by the LORD's dealings with the nation of Israel.
If we carefully weigh the import of a few remarkable passages of scripture, we shall find them throw much light on the subject, and prepare the way for all our subsequent enquiries. When Israel had made and worshipped the golden calf, the LORD said to Moses, “ Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax “hot against them, and that I may consume them; and “ I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses be. “ sought the Lord bis God, and said, Why doth thy
wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast “ brought forth out of the land of Egypt, with great
power and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should “ the Egyptians speak and say, For mischief did he “ bring them out to slay them in the mountains? Turn “ from thy fierce wrath and repent of this evil against “thy people. Remember Abraham, and Isaac, and " Jacob, thy servants, to whom thou swarest, by thine
own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your
“ seed as the stars of hea en, and all this land that I " have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they “ shall inherit it for ever. And the LORD repented of " the evil, which he 'thought to do unto his people."* On this occasion, you perceive that he "withdrew his “ hand and wrought for his name's sake.”
When the Israelites “ despised the pleasant land, “s and believed not the word of the LORD,” He said to Moses, “I will smite them with the pestilence, and “ disinherit them."--And Moses said unto the LORD“ Then the Egyptians shall hear of it; for thou “ broughtest this people by thy might from among “ them: and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this “ land; for they have heard that thou, Lord, art among “ this people, that thou, Lord, art seen face to face, “ and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou
goest before them, by day-time in a pillar of a cloud, • and in a pillar of fire by night.-Now if thou shalt kill “ all this people, as one man; then the nations which “ have heard the fame of thee, will speak, saying, be
cause the LORD was not able to bring this people into “ the land which he sware unto them, therefore he “ hath slain them in the wilderness.”+ In answer to “this supplication “the Lord again withdrew his “ hand, and wrought for his name's sake, that it should “ not be polluted in the sight of the heathen.”
Joshua also pleaded in the same manner, when some of the people were slain by the men of Ai. “O LORD
# Numb. xiv. 1123,
“ what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs be“ fore their enemies? For the Canaanites, and the, ina “ habitants of the land, shall hear of it, and shall envi
ron us round, and shall cut off our name from the “ earth; and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?»*
The pious and animated address of David to Go. liath was made at a time, when the conduct and mea. sures of King Saul could not but be justly disapproved by all pious Israelities: yet he assigned the same reason, why the LORD would deliver Goliath into his hand, and the Philistines into the hands of Israel, namely, “ that all the earth may know that there is a “God in Israel.”t-Hezekialı's plea, in prayer for deliverance from Sennacherib and the Assyrians, was this, " that all the kingdoms of the earth may know, " that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.”I
T'he plea of Jeremiah, during a terrible drought, "O LORD, though our iniquities testify against us, “ do it for thy name's sake;”) and that of Daniel during the Babylonish captivity,ll with very many others which might be adduced, abundantly teach us, that Israel, even whendeserving the severest vengeance, was frequently placed in such circumstances, that the honour of God was concerned in sparing and delivering them.
The chapter, whence the text is chosen, introduces JEHovah recapitulating to the prophet, a variety of instances of this kind, and repeatedly subjoining, “ But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should “ not be polluted before the heathen, among whom “they were.” From this recapitulation we may observe, that God had called Abraham; and had engaged to him, by covenant and by oath, to render his posterity exceedingly numerous, to give them the land of Canaan, and to raise up the Messiah from among them: and that he had ratified this engagement in the same manner to Isaac and Jacob. But when the le. scendants of these patriarchs had been increased 10 a vast multitude in Egypt, they had so degenerated from the piety of their ancestors, and had become so vile by their iniquities and idolatries, that they justly deserved destruction, at the very time when God had purposed their deliverance. Yet if he had cut them off by some tremendous judgment, or left them in Egyptian bondage; the honour of his faithfulness and mercy would have been tarnished; his promise would have been broken, his covenant would have failed, and his whole plan concerning the Messiah have been disconcerted, He therefore, spared and delivered them, though unworthy, for his own name's sake.
* Josh. vii. 7-9. † 1 Sam. xvii. 45–47. # 2 Kings xix, 15-19, Jer. xiy. 7. || Dan. ix. 18, 19.
The Lord had sent to Pharaoh, calling Israel his son, yea, his first born, and he demanded of him to “ let his son go that he might serve him:” but Pharaoh haughtily replied, “Who is Jehovah? I know “ not JEHOVAH, neither will I let Israel go.” Thus the contest was begun; and not only the Egyptians, but in a little time all the neighbouring nations waited the event with fixed attention. Now, if the LORD,
provoked by Israel's sin, had desisted from his de. mand, and had left the people in bondage, Pharaoh would have seemed victorious, and he as well as others would have concluded that JEHOVAH was unable to deliver his people. The honour of his eternal power and Godhead was therefore concerned in effectirig. their deliverance.
When this had been accomplished by “a mighty “ hand and an out stretched arm," and the laws, ordinances, and oracles of Jehovah had been communicated to them, they renewed their rebellions, and by most*ggravated crimes provoked him to keep them forty years in the wilderness, till nearly all that gene
stion was dead. But if he had cut them off entirely, and bad not put the posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jącol, in possession of Canaan; not only would his oath and promise have failed, but the Egyptians, Canaanites, and surrounding nations would have blasphemed his great name, as if he had been unable to fulfil his engagements, and thus they would have been hardened in their idolatry and wickedness.
During a long course of years, after the nation was settled in Canaan, the interest, and almost the existence, of true religion in the world, was, according to the plan of infinite wisdom, inseparable from the pre. servation of Israel as a distinct people: and how great soeyer their provocations were, the honour of God was concerned in preventing the complete success of their idolatrous neighbours against them, though they were used as scourges for their frequent and severe chastisement. Nor, till the coming of the promised VOL. 11.