Page images
PDF
EPUB

The prophet seeketh to comfort Zion in her sorrow. 13 What things shall I take to thee, he hath set up the horn witness for thee? what thing of thine adversaries. shall I liken to thee, O daugh- 18 Their heart cried unto the ter of Jerusalem ? what shall Lord, O wall of the daughter I equal to thee, that I may of Zion, let tears run down like comfort thee, O virgin daugh- a river day and night: give ter of Zion ? for thy breach is thyself no rest; let not the apgreat like the sea : who can ple of thine eye cease. heal thee?

19 Arise, cry out in the night: 14 Thy prophets have seen in the beginning of the watches vain and foolish things for pour out thine heart like wathee: and they have not dis- ter before the face of the Lord : covered thine iniquity, to turn lift up thy bands toward him away thy captivity; but have for the life of thy young chilseen for thee false burdens and dren, that faint for hunger in causes of banishment.

the top of every street. 15 All that pass by clap their 20 Behold, O LORD, and conhands at thee: they hiss and sider to whom thou hast done wag their head at the daughter this. Shall the women eat their of Jerusalem, saying, Is this fruit, and children of a span the city that men call The per- long? shall the priest and the fection of beauty, The joy of prophet be slain in the sanctuathe whole earth ?

ry of the Lord ? 16 All thine enemies have 21 The young and the old lie opened their mouth against on the ground in the streets: thee: they hiss and gnash the my virgins and my young men teeth : they say, We have swal- are fallen by the sword; thou lowed her up: certainly this is hast slain them in the day of the day that we looked for; we thine anger; thou hast killed, have found, we have seen it. and not pitied.

17 The Lord hath done that 22 Thou hast called as in a which he had devised; he hath solemn day my terrors round fulfilled his word that he had about, so that in the day of the commanded in the days of old: Lord's anger none escaped nor he hath thrown down, and hath remained : those that I have not pitied : and he hath caused swaddled and brought up hath thine enemy to rejoice over mine enemy consumed.

LECTURE 1274. Contrition and supplication sources of comfort. The prophet would fain comfort Zion in her sorrows. But he knows not by what topic he can hope to succeed. He knows not what witness to call in her behalf, that might avail to her defence, or what like instance to meet with, that might make her shame. ful fall not altogether without a parallel. Instead therefore of offering false comfort, instead of saying peace when there was no peace, he again dwells on the greatness of the calamity, and makes mention of the prophets of smooth things, as among the means which had led to the sin and to the judgment. He points out the scorn in which the beholders were indulging, and recites the reproachful language they made use of.' And he then exhorts the people, in their trouble, to weep without ceasing, and to lift up their hands in prayer towards God; and further proceeds to appeal to God in prayer, pleading the great amount of misery inflicted, and intreating the Lord to consider who they were that thus suffered; implying, that however richly they deserved to suffer, they were nevertheless his own chosen people.

Thus has the prophet by degrees, and as it were unawares, touched

upon the true sources of comfort, when all hope of comfort seemed out of the question. Contrition and supplication, these are the means whereby the humbled and dejected sinner may most reasonably expect to meet with consolation. Even the tears which nature sheds in sorrow are said commonly to afford the mourner some relief. How much more when they flow from a true concern for God's affronted honour, from a true compunction for having displeased One so gracious and so good as Christ our Lord and Saviour ? When to tears like these are added fervent prayers, when we thus cast our care on God, with faith in his assurance that He is caring for us, see 1 Pet. 5. 7, there is no affliction so heavy, no sorrow so great, as not to be within reach of comfort from the Lord. Nor need we think that He will turn a deaf ear to our statement of the troubles wherewith we are afflicted. To Him we may open all our griefs, as to a Friend sure to feel compassionate concern. Nor must we fail to plead his gracious covenant, and to approach Him as his people, through the mediation of his Son; however unworthy of our high and holy calling our past conduct may have been. For this is in truth the way to humble ourselves, as well as to glorify our Lord, when we rest all our claim to God's mercy on his own sure promises, and on his own gracious work in our behalf, through Christ Jesus. Consider then, O Lord, who we are, thy people redeemed by thy Son; who though deserving in ourselves only condemnation, have the warrant of thy word for asking of Thee, through our Saviour, pardon, and peace, and joy. Consider, heavenly Father, not our unworthiness, but the worthiness of thy Son; look not upon us according to our iniquities, neither deal with us after our sins. But according to the multitude of thy mercies, and in consideration of the precious blood of Jesus Christ our Lord, vouchsafe, according to thy word, to blot out all our misdeeds, and to account us for righteous in thy sight.

my bones.

The prophet in affliction expresseth humility and hope. i I am the man that hath seen people; and their song all the affliction by the rod of his wrath. day.

2 He hath led me, and brought 15 He hath filled me with bitme into darkness, but not into terness, he hath made me drunklight.

en with wormwood. 3 Surely against me is he turn- 16 He hath also broken my ed; he turneth his hand against teeth with gravel stones, he hath me all the day.

covered me with ashes. 4 My flesh and my skin hath 17 And thou hast removed my he made old; he hath broken soul far off from peace: I forgat

prosperity 5 He hath builded against me, 18 And I said, My strength and compassed me with gall and and my hope is perished from travel.

the LORD: 6 He hath set me in dark 19 Remembering mine afficplaces, as they that be dead of old. tion and my misery, the worm7 He hath hedged me about, wood and the gall. that I cannot get out: he hath 20 My soul hath them still in made my chain heavy.

remembrance, and is humbled 8 Also when I cry and shout, in me. he shutteth out my prayer.

21 This I recal to my mind, 9 He hath inclosed my ways therefore have I hope. with hewn stone, he hath made 22 It is of the Lord's mercies my paths crooked.

that we are not consumed, be10 He was unto me as a bear cause his compassions fail not. lying in wait, and as a lion in 23 They are new every mornsecret places.

ing: great is thy faithfulness. 1 He hath turned aside my 24 The Lord is my portion, ways, and pulled me in pieces: saith my soul; therefore will I he hath made me desolate. hope in him.

12 He hath bent his bow, and 25 The Lord is good unto set me as a mark for the arrow. them that wait for him, to the

13 He hath caused the arrows soul that seeketh him. of his quiver to enter into my 26 It is good that reins.

both hope and quietly wait for 14 I was a derision to all my the salvation of the Lord.

LECTURE 1275.

The right use to be made of adversity. Here we may learn how to bear affliction. Here we may profitably observe, how great are the advantages of being aflicted. The prophet speaks in his own person. But he is speaking also in the name of the people of the Lord. And that which he says of himself and them, may be applied by us to ourselves; whensoever it pleases God, by any manner of affliction, to chastise us for our sins. It may be that the rod of his wrath reaches us in the form of bodily suffering. The flesh and skin and bones may be the seat of sore disease. Or the spirit may be depressed with heavi

a man should

ness, either through the afflictions of the world, or through the sense of the divine displeasure. We may be made to feel as if we were the mark at which the arrows of the Almighty are directed; our souls removed afar off from peace, our strength and even our hope perishing “from the Lord,” by the means of his chastening hand. But whatsoever be our chastisement, let us be thereby exercised in humility. Let this be one of the first lessons we learn, so to reflect on what we suffer, as to be humbled in the sight of God. Let us endeavour to be able to say truly of our sufferings, “ My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.” Then shall we also soon be able to

say

further, “ This I recal to my mind, therefore have I hope.”

To be humble under the mighty hand of God is obviously one of the first and chief uses of adversity. To find that we are humbled is one of the grounds on which we may reasonably hope that we have not been chastised in vain. And see how full of comfort and of peace are the reflexions suggested by the prophet, as following on his experience of humility, on this revival of his hope. “ It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.” Instead of dwelling on the thought of what we suffer we begin to think of that wherein we have been spared. We are thankful for his many mercies, wholly undeserved, vouchsafed to us in the midst of judgments justly due to us for our sins. These mercies are “new every morning: great is thy faithfulness." That we are alive, when death is our due, that we awaken each morning to renewed life, this strikes us as a subject of thankfulness to God, however heavily our life may be afflicted. “ The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.” What can we want more, if we have Him to supply all our wants? How can we despair, if He may be our hope in all that can befal us? “ The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” Yes, though He chasten, He still is good; yes, it is of his goodness that He chastens us. For this leads us to wait for Him, and to seek Him. And it is good for us, it is far better than all the best of satisfactions this world has to offer, “it is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.” Yes, we must botli hope earnestly, and wait patiently. Our expectation must be lively; and yet our spirit must be calm. Our affections towards heaven must be warm; and yet we must be content to wait, and work, and suffer, upon earth, all the days of the years of our pilgrimage. The seeming distance of the end we look for must not render us indifferent to its inestimable value. Its infinite superiority to the things of earth must not put us out of conceit with the duties, the privileges, the joys, which God allots to us whilst here. We must at once be thankful for what we have, and desirous for what we look for. We must glorify God by being of a happy spirit in this world, as we hope to glorify Him by being happy for ever in the world which is to come.

The mercifulness of God in chastening his people. 27 It is good for a man that he with a cloud, that our prayer bear the yoke in his youth. should not pass through.

28 He sitteth alone and keep- 45 Thou hast made us as the eth silence, because he hath offscouring and refuse in the borne it upon him.

midst of the people. 29 He putteth his mouth in 46 All our enemies have openthe dust; if so be there may be ed their mouths against us. hope.

47 Fear and a snare is come 30 He giveth his cheek to him upon us, desolation and destructhat smiteth him : he is filled tion. full with reproach.

48 Mine eye runneth down 31 For the LORD will not cast with rivers of water for the deoff for ever :

struction of the daughter of my 32 But though he cause grief, people. yet will be have compassion ac- 49 Mine eye trickleth down, cording to the multitude of his and ceaseth not, without any mercies.

intermission, 33 For he doth not afflict will- 50 Till the LORD look down, ingly nor grieve the children of and behold from heaven. men.

51 Mine eye affecteth mine 34 To crush under his feet all heart because of all the daughthe prisoners of the earth, ters of my city.

35 "To turn aside the right of 52 Mine enemies chased me a man before the face of the sore, like a bird, without cause. most High.

53 They have cut off my life 36 To subvert a man in his in the dungeon, and cast a stone cause, the Lord approveth not. upon me.

37 Who is he that saith, and it 54 Waters flowed over mine cometh to pass, when the LORD head; then I said, I am cut off. commandeth it not?

55 I called upon thy name, O 28 Out of the mouth of the Lord, out of the low dungeon. most High proceedeth not evil 56 Thou hast heard my voice: and good ?

hide not thine ear at my breath39 Wherefore doth a living ing, at my cry. man complain, a man for the 57 Thou drewest near in the punishment of his sins ? day that I called upon thee:

40 Let us search and try our thou saidst, Fear not. ways, and turn again to the Lord. 58 O Lord, thou hast pleaded

41 Let us lift up our heart with the causes of my soul; thou bast our hands unto God in the redeemed heavens.

59 O Lord, thou hast seen my 42 We have transgressed and wrong: judge thou my cause. have rebelled: thou hast not 60 Thou hast seen all their pardoned.

vengeance and all their imagi43 Thou hast covered with an- nations against me. ger, and persecuted us: thou 61 Thou hast heard their rehast slain, thou hast not pitied. proach, O Lord, and all their 44 Thou hast covered thyself imaginations against me;

life.

« PreviousContinue »