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THE TABERNACLE OF DAVID RUINED BY MAN, AND REARED
UP BY THE MIGHTY GOD.*
Behold the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will de
stroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord. For lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof, and I will raise up his ruins, and I will buildi it as in the days of old.--AMOs IX. 8–11.
THE FIRST SERMON ON THIS TEXT.
In these verses which I have read, we have a mixture of judgment and mercy, judgment and wrath ushering in and paving the way to mercy; he that “planteth the heavens, and lays the foundations of the earth, and who buildeth his stories in the heavens," (as in the preceding part of the chapter,) he pulls down the Jewish church, that he may raise up one more glorious and beautiful in its room. This prophet Amos was but of a mean extraction and original, among the herdmen of Tekoa, as you will find in the beginning of his prophecy: however, that God who took David from following the ewes with young, and set him on the throne to
the sceptre of Israel, took a poor herdman from following his flock, and commands him to go and deliver his mind and message to the king, to the court, to the nobles, to the priests, and to the people of Israel. If a man carry God's commission, whatever be his birth or pedigree, or whatever has been his employment, he is worthy of reception and entertainment. All the sons of men are before God as a company of clay vessels, and he “makes one to honour, and another to dishonour,” and “does whatever he pleases in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth." What though he take the poor from the dunghill, and set him among princes," if it be his pleasure ? He appeared upon the stage in a very
• Three Discourses, the first and second preached at Edinburgh, November, 1735; and the third at Kinross, February 17, 1736, at the opening of the Presbytery of the Associate ministers there.
degenerate day: however, like a faithful watchman, he sets the trumpet to his mouth, and declares to the house of Judah and Israel their abominations: and although he was prohibited and discharged to come near the king's court and chapel, yet, in obedience to him that sent him, he “ lifts up his voice like a trumpet.”
In the verses which I have read, we may take notice of these few particulars following:
1. We have the designation that the prophet Amos, by God's commission, gives to the kingdom of Israel; you see it in the beginning of ver. 8, he calls them a sinful kingdom. They were a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evil doers, children that had corrupted themselves; they had de- parted from God," departed from the purity of that worship which God had appointed them to observe at the temple of Jerusalem, and, in room thereof, they had erected their idolatrous calves at Dan and Bethel; yea, many of them, the generality and body of the nation, except it was some seven thousand or so, had all bowed the knee to Baal, and run after the example of their corrupt kings and priests; they were, indeed, a sinful kingdom. And, alas! may not the same motto be written upon us in the land in which we live? I could make this evident in many particulars. We are laden with sin, we have corrupted our ways like them; they brake God's covenant, and so have we; they countenanced idolatry and superstition, and went after many vile abominations ; they joined themselves in a covenant with hell, and sacrificed unto devils; and I have heard that witchcrafts and devilish arts are also performed in this city. Oh, what a load of sin is lying on the land! What dreadful perjury and apostacy! what dreadful profanation of the Lord's day and name is to be found among us! The cry of our sins hath gone up to heaven, and they are blind that do not see a frowning God upon the account of these things. But then,
2. Another thing we may notice here, is, an advertisement that the prophet Amos gives to this “sinful kingdom;" why, says he, the eyes of the Lord are upon it
. It is very likely there was a generation of men among them, as there is among ourselves at this day, who, if they do not say it with their mouths, yet say it in their hearts, and say it in their practice; the language of their way and walk is, “God does not see, neither docs the God of Jacob regard us: The Lord has forsaken the earth, and the Lord seeth not;" he neither takes notice of our good or evil, neither will he require it. But do not mistake it, says the prophet, you will find it otherwise; The eyes of the Lord are upon the sinful kingdom, the sinful rulers, prophets, priests, and inhabitants of the land;
“ His eyes do see, and his eyelids try the children of men.” The adulterer, and other sinners of that kind, that perpetrate sin in secret, seek the twilight; and when they do so, they say, “No eye shall see us :" but, sirs, remember, that "darkness and light are alike to God, the night shines 'as the day before him." “Can any hide himself in secret places, that 1 shall not see him ? saith the Lord. He discovers deep things out of darkness, and brings out to light the shadows of death." And, therefore, wherever you are, whatever you are about, remember Hagar's confession of faith, “ Thou, God, seest me.” Study to remember, that the eye of an all-seeing God follows you wherever you go, yea, shines into the very bottom of your soul. Though perhaps you may fancy with yourselves, that your secret wickednesses are overlooked, and that your old sins are out of mind; they are not out of mind with God, he knows them, and will bring them to light. All the wicked works of darkness that are perpetrated in this city, he will discover and bring them to light one day before men and angels; "he will bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or evil.” Some men's behaviour, now-a-days, says, that there is not a God to bring them to an account. For the Lord's sake, study to have the impression of an all-seeing God upon you wherever you go ; for the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom.Verily, there is a God that judgeth in the earth.
3. We may notice here God's purpose and resolution with reference to the sinful kingdom, what he has a mind to do with it; says the Lord, I will destroy it from off the face of the earth. Sinners, when there are multitudes of them joined together, fancy themselves secure, especially when they have men of power and authority on their side; but it is as easy for God to destroy whole kingdoms, as to destroy one particular person. There is no safety in the way of multitudes; for what are all multitudes before the great God, but “as the drop of a bucket, and are accounted as the small dust of the balance ?" I will destroy them, saith the Lord,
from off the face of the earth. They have made the earth to groan, the creation to groan, under the weight of their sins: Well
, I will rid the very earth of such a burden, says God: “The Lord is a man of war, the Lord is his name;" and when he “whets his glittering sword, when his hand takes hold on judgment,” what will he do with his enemies? “He will render tribulation and anguish unto every soul of man that doth evil:" yea, he will make clean work of great and populous nations and families ; high and low must bow when he arises to judgment. When he whets his sword, the wicked shall perish,“ his enemies shall be as the fat of lambs, into smoke shall they consume away."
Sirs, God is a strong party; and you that are running upon the thick bosses of his buckler, had need to consider what you are doing Who will set the briers and thorns in battle against me? I will go through them, I will consume them together. Who can dwell with dévouring fire? who can abide with everlasting burnings ?" I will destroy them from off the face of the earth. A heavy sentence from a God of mercy! How averse is he to bring matters to that extremity of destroying a people from off the face of the earth? It is just like the rending of his bowels to proceed to such severity : Hos. xi. 8: “How shall I give thee up, O Ephraim ? how .
, shall I deliver thee, Israel ? how shall I make thee as Ad mah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim ? mine heart is turned within me, my 'repentings are kindled together.” He tries all ways and means imaginable to teclaim a sinful people, before he comes this length: but when they will not be reclaimed, and when they will not regard the offers of his mercy, will not be led to repentance, what can remain but fiery wrath which shall devour his enemies? Sirs, do not think that the
of God will save you, when you spurn at the bowels of divine mercy, while you tread and trample upon it by unbelief. God's mercy runs in a certain channel, and out of that it is not to be found. If
What is that channel? I answer, It is the blood and satisfaction of Jesus: and, therefore, if ever you should share of mercy, and avoid the judgments bére threatened, you must come to the blood of sprinkling. But then,
4. We may notice the limitation of this awful sentence: “I will destroy them,” &c. "saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the Lord God." The promised seed of the woman, which was to bruise the head of the serpent; the promised seed of Abraham, in whom all the nations of the earth were to be blessed, was not yet come; and therefore a part of the natural seed of Abraham must be preserved, in order to the production of that promised seed, through whom the blessings of heaven were to be conveyed to the sons of men. Or by the house of Jacob we are to understand the godly remnant, that adhered to the Lord, and to his worship, his laws, institutions, and ordinances, in that degenerate age; they that followed the example of Jacob, and their other worthy ancestors, in wrestling with God, especially in that dark and cloudy day: says the prophet, I will not utterly destroy them. In the worst of times, God has always a remnant that worship and serve him, and that cleave to his ways; as I was observing already, he had his “ seven thousand' in Israel, that had not bowed the knee unto Baal ?" and whatever
comes of the rest of the world, God will take care of them. And this you will see farther illustrated in verse 9. Where,
5. We have an account of God's management with respect to that rembant: For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shull not the least grain thereof fall to the earth. There is an allusion here to a husbandman, who, when he sifts his corn in the sieve, shakes it, and tosses it hither and thither, not to destroy it, but to preserve and purify it, and to separate betwixt the good corn and the chaff; but all the time that the husbandınan is sisting the corn, he has the sieve fast in his hand, and he manages the sieve for the good of the corn. Just so here, God's remnant are his good corn, and the wicked are the chaff; and he will send a winnowing and sifting wind into the barn of the visible church, and will shake his remnant; yet he will take care of them, he has them in his hand, “ All his saints are in thy hand,” Deut. xxxiii. 3. “ No man shall pluck them out of my hand, nor out of my Father's hand,” says our blessed Lord ; and not a grain shall fall to the ground, or be lost. There is a particular providence of God exercised about his own people; his eye is set upon them for good ; and the hand of his providence manages the great field of the creation in a subserviency to his own glory, and to tþeir good : “ He rides in the heavens for the help of his people, and in his excellency on the skies; he is the shield of their help, and the sword of their excellency." But then,
6. We are here told what will become of the chaff, ver. 10. "All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us." It is a strange thing that the great Lord should lay claim to them as his people, though they were a sinful people; he would fain lay claim to them, if they would lay claim to him. But this is an aggravation of their sin, that they are his professing people, and yet they rebel against him; it is such a heightening aggravation of their sin, that he appeals to the very heavens against them, Is. i. 2: “ Hear, O heavens, and give ear, 0 carth: I have nourished and brought up children, , yet they have rebelled against me." All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword. All the sinners of my people! Certainly this is not to be understood absolutely, or else no flesh should be spared ; “ for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God :" but you see what sinners are intended, in the latter clause of ver. 10: That say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us. They promised themselves impunity in their way, and “ said within their hearts,” and perhaps