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But God proclaimed Himself to Moses as the Lord who will "by no means clear the guilty," and who visits the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation."
And may we behold this also in Jesus Christ?
doubt we may. It takes nothing away from the riches of grace in Christ Jesus; but the Gospel also has its terrors to accompany it; and it is a preacher of the Gospel who says, "Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men 2.
Would you know the evil of sin, the fierceness of God's wrath against it? doubtless you can no where see so much of it as in the Cross of Jesus Christ. If God "spared not his own Son, but delivered Him up," and to such a death, "for us all;" then what are we, in whose place He stood? And, more awful still, what shall we be, if, not consenting to be beholden to his righteousness for redemption, or to take his yoke upon us, we will not have Him to stand in our place, but, without an interest in Him, will stand before God's judgment-seat ourselves, there to answer for the things done in the body, for breach of God's laws, and contempt of his way of mercy also,-what shall we be then? This merciful Lamb of God with his own mouth cursed the unfruitful fig-tree, that we might have a type of our remediless condition. And there is another type, which for near eighteen hundred years has been before the eyes of all men. There is the Jewish nation, scattered and peeled, and driven to the ends of the earth, abiding without priest, or sacrifice, or knowledge of a Saviour; walking in darkness with a veil upon their hearts, to answer hereafter, indeed, only each individual of them, for his own individual and personal iniquity; but, as a nation, suffering now in this world, for the national rejection of the Son of God: a type therefore, as I said, of the eternal doom of despisers of the Gospel. For, as says the Apostle to the Hebrews, if "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy, of how much sorer punishment suppose ye,
2 2 Cor. v. 11.
3 Rom. viii. 32.
shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know Him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." It is, indeed, my brethren; but what of that? Still God is love; his mercy endureth for ever. And this is the glory of God which He causeth to pass before us in Jesus Christ. If we will reject Christ, we perish, no doubt we do; I dare neither to deny it, nor to conceal it, nor to cease to make proclamation of it. But what have we to do with rejecting Him? We lie under no necessity of doing so. It must be our own act and deed, done in despite of God. The consequences of rejecting the Saviour are not revealed that they may fall upon us; the threatenings of God's word are not written that they may be executed; but for just the contrary reason, that they may be avoided. live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked "." Then what say these terrors? Sinner, "do thyself no harm." "Repent and turn from all thy transgressions, so iniquity shall not be thy ruin " They are the voice of love and faithfulness; in accordance with God's promise to his people, "They shall be my people, and I will be their God: and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me "."
My brethren, if any of you are despising Christ's great salvation; or if, having once run well, you are gone back; I would pray God, on your behalf, that a dread of the awful consequences may come upon you, that so
4 Heb. x. 28-31.
6 Ibid. xviii. 30.
5 Ezek. xxxiii. 11.
you may see your danger, and set yourselves to flee from it; but, at the same time, I would pray God that you may see and believe the promise, "Whoso speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him ;" so that, if ye be alarmed, ye may yet hope in God's word.
But I would rather hope that you are now seeking the Lord in earnest, and inquiring what ye must do to be saved, and striving against sin; if so, I would not have you forget your proneness to transgression, or be insensible of any peril that besets your path. But, I say, ye need encouragement; and here it is for you: ye need something to engage you to serve God with willing minds; and I have set enough before you. Only let God be ever present to your minds as He manifests Himself in Christ; and, in proportion as He is so, you will be drawn to serve Him for love's sake, with thankfulness that He will accept you in so testifying your love; you will be kept from weariness in well-doing; you will be kept from hard thoughts of Him, and from thinking yourselves forsaken, if, in his providence, He afflicts you; and you will go on from strength to strength.
Therefore, search the Scriptures, for they are they which testify of Christ; meditate upon what you read or hear of them; take God's word at once for the truth of all they tell you; and beseech Him to give you faith, and to support and increase your faith by his Holy Spirit continually. If ye will believe, ye shall see the glory of God: if, through believing, your minds shall be possessed with firm and abiding persuasion that God is love, and power, and truth, and holiness; and, at the same time, as full of good-will to you as by the gift of his Son He proclaims Himself to be, this faith shall prove shield sufficient against all the darts of the wicked one, and guide sufficient in all perplexity. And to you shall be fulfilled in every trial the blessing pronounced on Asher, "As thy days, so shall thy strength be "."
8 Matt. xii. 32.
9 Deut. xxxiii, 25.
HISTORY OF RUTH.
RUTH i. 14.
"And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth clave unto her."
"No man," says our blessed Lord, can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other: ye cannot serve God and mammon'." Then we must take our choice between them. In the remainder of the passage our Lord directs us in so doing. By a plain command, He calls us from the world to the service of God; and then, by a plain promise added, He takes off, in his great condescension, the force of the objection which our natural corruption is wont to make against obedience. "Take no thought," He tells us, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?" "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness ;" and if ye will do this, ye shall assuredly fare none the worse, even at present, but shall have a better security for all the necessary things of this life than is attainable in any other way. "All these things" about which ye are so anxious, and for the sake of which ye are tempted to sell your souls, "shall be added unto you2" by Almighty God.
1 Matt, vi. 24.
2 Ibid. vi. 31-33.
In the passage from which I have taken my text, we have an excellent illustration of this whole subject; and with that single view I shall discourse upon it. The choice between God and the world is propounded to every one of us in some shape or other every day; but sometimes there are turning points, as I may call them, in our lives, when the question is put in a very remarkable and obvious manner, so that our whole future lot comes to be decided by our behaviour in that particular instance.
A case of this kind is now before us. I will consider the particulars, and will endeavour, by God's help, to make some application of them.
"It came to pass in the days when the judges ruled, that there was a famine in the land. And a certain man of Bethlehem-judah,” whose name was Elimelech, "went," in consequence, " to sojourn in the country of Moab, he, and his wife," called Naomi, " and his two sons, Mahlon and Chilion. Elimelech died, and Naomi "was left and her two sons, and they took them wives of the women of Moab; the name of the one was Orpah, and the name of the other Ruth: and they dwelled there about ten years. And Mahlon and Chilion died also both of them," so that the woman was left with only her two daughters-in-law. After this it came to the knowledge of Naomi, that "the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread "." The necessity for her continuance in the land of Moab was therefore at an end; and she resolved to return to Judah. Orpah and Ruth went a little way with their mother-in-law, but she would not peremptorily require it of them to go on. For her own part her resolution was taken. Nothing better, indeed, than distress and poverty seemed to await her in a worldly view in Judah; but there were the ordinances and the people of the Lord: and she felt, no doubt, as David did, when he says in the wilderness, "O God, thou art my God, early will I seek Thee; my soul thirsteth for
3 Ruth i. 1-6,