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no hand save that of his enemies. But they consider not, that while the work is as really his own, as if instruments more apparently suited to it were employed, there is a more striking display of his wisdom and power, in making the very wrath of man to praise him, and in restraining the remainder of it. They have not learned, from the Sacred History, that this is the most ordinary method of the divine procedure. When God had a work of judgment to execute on the devoted family of the wicked Ahab 4, he employed an inftrument little better than himself, and in one respect worse f. Jehu, not only an idolater, but a vile hypocrite, is the man singled out from all the tribes of Israel for accomplishing God's work of vengeance on the house of Ahab.
In this very way hath God often punished his Church. Was not Sennacherib, an ambitious and blood-thirsty tyrant, the person selected as the instrument by whom Jehovah was “ to perform “his whole work on Mount Zion, and on Jerusa“ lem : ?” Here, we find a heathen employed against hypocritical professors; a blasphemer of the true God used as “ the rod of his anger.” He, who dared to call the God of Jerusalem an idol, receives a commission from him to punish his own people h. Does he not design the vainglorious Nebuchadnezzar his servant, even when seeking the destruction of Judah ? Hear, how he speaks by his prophet : Behold, I will send and “ take all the families of the north, faith the “ LORD, and Nebuchadnezzar the king of Baby“ lon my fervant, and will bring them against “ this land, and against the inhabitants thereof,“ and will utterly destroy them, and make them “ an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual “ defolations i.”
f Ver. 16,
d 2 Kings ix. 7.
e 2 Kings x. 31.
In the same fovereign way, does he fulfil his purposes of mercy. Sometimes, he employs good men in the work. He had a branch of his Church even in Sodom. For the deliverance of righteous Lot, Abraham obtains victory over four kings k. “ Who raised up the righteous man from the “ east, called him to his foot, gave the nations be“ fore him, and made him rule over kings? He
gave them as the dust to his sword, and as driven “ stubble to his bow. He pursued them, and par“ sed safely, even by the way that he had not
gone with his feet !.” At other times he employs wicked men. He had made heathens the instruments of punishing his people, and heathens are employed as the instruments of their deliverance. Cyrus knew as little of the true God as Sennacherib or Nebuchadnezzar. But God raises him up, and gives him all his power and success for this very end, that he might liberate his Church. He had called the king of Babylon his servant. But he calls the conqueror of Babylon his anointed m. He gives him a more honourable epithet, because he called him to more honourable work, to work
k Gen. xiv. 15.
1 Isa, xli. 2, 3.
i Jer. xxv. 9. m Ila, xlv. 1.-5.
typical of that which was to be performed by his true Anointed. He extends this honour to the very army that Cyrus commanded. They were to be the instruments of accomplishing his purposes with respect to Babylon. Therefore, although an assemblage of heathens, he describes them as sanctified, or set apart to this work, by himself. Although they knew not that God who strengthened them, he calls them his “ mighty “ones.” He speaks of them as “ rejoicing in “his highness,” or “ glory,” because they rejoiced in that work which was to terminate in his glory, although they were ignorant of this n.
Notwithstanding the honourable epithets thus bestowed on Cyrus and his army, with respect to their work; a very different picture is given of both, when their own character and designs are taken into consideration. They are exhibited as “a cruel people, that will not fhew mercy,” “ having no pity on the fruit of the womb, and “ whose eye should not spare children o.” Cyrus himself gets no better character than that of a bird of prey. While JEHOVAH appeals to the immutability and absolute fovereignty of his purpose, as an incontrovertible evidence of his being the only true God; he at the same proclaims his almighty power in the manner of accomplishing it. “ I am God, and there is none else,-decla“ ring the end from the beginning, and from an“ cient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all
“ my Isa, xiii. 3.-5.
. Ver. 18.; Jer. 1. 42.
“ my pleasure : calling a ravenous bird from the “ east, the man that executeth my counsel from a “far country : yea, I have spoken it, I will also
bring it to pass ; I have purposed it, I will also “ do it p.” Behold the sovereignty of God! He who “ called the righteous man from the east,” is the same who “ called a ravenous bird from " the east :” and both for the same work of liberating his captives. Both are under his direction, and in the calling of both he displays equal righteousness. For he faith of Cyrus, “ I have “ raised him up in righteousness 9."
Did the Lord destroy literal Babylon by means of “ a ravenous bird?” Did he do it in righteousness ? Need we wonder, then, though he should observe the same course, in accomplishing the destruđion of mystical Babylon, of which the other was only a type ? though he “ cry to all the “ fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and
gather yourselves together unto the supper of “the great God?" Although, in the destruction of Babylon, God should employ men as irreligious as the heathen, or more so, as merciless as the Medes; we must not therefore either deny, or be prejudiced against his work. The wickedness of the instruments is wholly their own. Whatever God does by them, he does it “ in righteous
nefs,” –Yet mark his language; I will stir “ up the Medes against them :—their bows also “ shall dash the young men to pieces, and they “ Mall have no pitys.” “ The Lord hath raised
“ up p Isa. xlvi. 9.-15.
q Ifa. xlv. 13
Rev. xix. 17. s Isa. xiii. 17.
up the spirit of the kings of the Medes : for “ his desire is against Babylon, to destroy it: be“cause it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple :”
God often gives a striking display of his sove. reignty in punishing fin by fin. He does so in various ways. He makes one fin its own punish
He punishes one fin by another commit. ted by the same person. Or, he punishes the fin of one person, by means of a fin committed by another. As virtue is its own reward, in as far as “ the ways of wisdom are ways of plea“ santness, and all her paths peace;" fin often proves its own punishment, in that misery which it brings along with it, as inseparable from its nature. Ahab's covetousness, in defiring the vineyard of Naboth, was undoubtedly his fin. But it was as certainly his punishment. For he “ was “heavy and displeased,--and laid him down up" on his bed, and turned away his face, and would
eat no bread"." The pride of Haman was also its own punishment. For notwithstanding his great honours, he says; “ All this availeth me no
thing, as long as I see Mordecai the Jew fitting at the king's gate v."
Sometimes, he punishes a former fin by one that succeeds it. The fin of Judas, in betraying his Master, was punished by his being left to become his own murderer. The Gentiles provoked God by their idolatry, in “changing the glory of s the uncorruptible God into an image made like Vol. II.
unto Jer, li. 11, u Kings xxi, 1.-4.
Fith, Y. 13.