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to receive such persons into union with him. It is not consistent with his divine wisdom to give himself to them in a covenant relation.
No wonder that Christ will not commit himself to such persons as these ; John ï. 23, 24, 25. “ Now, when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man.” Christ knew that there was no dependence to be had upon them; he knew they would not prove consistent with themselves.
5. How vain and inconsistent is the Dependence of wicked men on themselves ! If this be the case with natural men, if all natural men are as we have heard, so absurdly inconsistent with themselves, how unreasonable is their high thought of themselves, and their trusting to their own goodness, to their own prayers, and their other performances !
And that they do so, is an evident sign of their woful ignorance of themselves. If such persons saw themselves as they are, and to be such as we have described them, certainly they would be far from trusting in their own excellency and goodness, but would see themselves to be polluted, wretched, miserable lost creatures, and would no more say in their hearts, “I am rich, and increased with goods;" but would rather condemn themselves, and cry out with self-abhorrence and amazement, “ Unclean, unclean, undone, undone !"
ISAIAH xxxü. 2.
And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert
from the tempest: as rivers of water in a dry place; as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
In these words we may observe,
1. The person who is here prophesied of and commended, viz. : the Lord Jesus Christ, the King spoken of in the preceding verse, who shall reign in righteousness. This king is abundantly prophesied of in the Old Testament, and especially in this prophecy of Isaiah. Glorious predictions were from time to time uttered by the prophets concerning that great King who was to come: there is no subject which is spoken of in so magnificent and exalted a style by the prophets of the Old Testament, as the Messiah. They saw his day and rejoiced, and searched diligently, together with the angels, into those things. 1 Peter i. 11, 12. “Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”
We are told here that “a man shall be a hiding place from the wind,” &c. There is an emphasis in the words, that " a
” man" should be this. If these things had been said of God, it would not be strange under the Old Testament; for God is frequently called a hiding place for his people, a refuge in time of trouble, a strong rock, and a high tower. But what is so remarkable is, that they are said of “a man.” But this is a prophecy of the Son of God incarnate.
2. The Things here foretold of him, and the Commendations given him.
“He shall be a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest:" That is, he shall be the safety and defence of his people, to which they shall flee for protection in the time of their danger and trouble. To him they shall flee as one who is abroad, and sees a terrible storm arising, makes haste to some shelter to secure himself; so that however furious is the tempest, yet he is safe within, and the wind and rain, though they beat never so impetuously upon the roof and walls, are no annoyance unto him.
He shall be as "rivers of water in a dry place.” This is an allusion to the deserts of Arabia, which was an exceedingly hot and dry country. One may travel there many days, and see no sign of a river, brook, or spring, nothing but a dry and parched wilderness; so that travellers are ready to be consumed with thirst, as the children of Israel were when they were in this wilderness, when they were faint because there was no water. Now when a man finds Jesus Christ, he is like one that has been travelling in those deserts till he is almost consumed with thirst, and who at last finds a river of cool and clear water. And Christ was typified by the river of water that issued out of the rock for the children of Israel in this desert: he is compared to a river, because there is such a plenty and fulness in him.
He is the “ shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Allusion is still made to the desert of Arabia. It is not said as the shadow of a tree, because in some places of that country, there is nothing but dry sand and rocks for a vast space together, not a tree to be seen; and the sun beats exceedingly hot upon the sands, and all the shade to be found there, where travellers can rest and shelter themselves from the scorching san, is under some great rock. They who come to Christ find such rest and refreshment as the weary traveller in that hot and desolate country finds under the shadow of a great rock.
We propose to speak to three propositions that are explicatory of the several parts of the text.
1. There is in Christ Jesus abundant foundation of peace and safety for those who are in fear and danger. “A man shall be an hiding place from the wind, a covert from the teinpest."
II. There is in Christ provision for the satisfaction, and full contentment, of the needy and thirsty soul. He shall be “as rivers of water in a dry place.”
III. There are quiet rest, and sweet refreshment in Christ Jesus for him who is weary. IIe shall be “as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."
İ. There is in Christ Jesus abundant foundation of peace and safety for those who are in fear and danger.
The fears and dangers to which men are subject, are of two kinds; temporal and eternal. Men are frequently in distress from fear of temporal evils. We live in an evil world, where we are liable to an abundance of sorrows and calamities. A great part of our lives is spent in sorrowing for present or past evils, and in soaring those which are future. What poor, distressed creatures are we, when God is pleased to send his judgments among us! If he visits a place with mortal and prevailing sickness, what terror seizes our hearts! If any person is taken sick, and trembles for bis life, or if our near friends are at the point of death, or in many other dangers, how fearful is our condition ! Now there is sufficient foundation for peace and safety to those exercised with such fears, and brought into such dangers. But Christ is a refuge in all trouble ; there is a foundation for rational support and peace in him, whatever threatens us. He, whose heart is fixed, trusting in Christ, need not be afraid of any evil tidings. “ As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so Christ is round about thein that fear him."
But it is the other kind of fear and danger to which we have a principal respect; the fear and danger of God's wrath. The fears of a terrified conscience, the fearful expectation of the dire fruits of sin, and the resentment of an angry God, these are infinitely the most dreadful. If men are in danger of those things, and are not asleep, they will be more terrified than with the fears of any outward evil. Men are in a most deplorable condition, as they are by nature exposed to God's wrath; and if they are sensible how dismal their case is, will be in dreadful fears and dismal expectations.
God is pleased to make some sensible of their true condition. He lets them see the storm that threatens them, how black the clouds are, and how impregnated with thunder, that it is a burning tempest, that they are in danger of being speedily overtaken by it, that they have nothing to shelter themselves from it, and that they are in danger of being taken away by the fierceness of
It is a fearful condition when one is smitten with a sense of the dreadfulness of God's wrath, when be has his heart impressed with the conviction that the great God is not reconciled to him, that he holds him guilty of these and those sins, and that he is angry enough with him to condemn him for ever. It is dreadful to lie down and rise up, it is dreadful to eat and drink, and to walk about in God's anger from day to day. One, in such a case, is ready to be afraid of every thing; he is afraid of meeting God's wrath wherever he goes. He has no peace in his mind, but there is a VOL. VIII.
dreadful sound in his ears; his mind is afflicted and tossed with tempest, and not comforted, and courage is ready to fail, and the spirit ready to sink with fear; for how can a poor worm bear the wrath of the great God, and what would not he give for peace of conscience, what would not he give if he could find safety! When such fears exist to a great degree, or are continued a long time, they greatly enfeeble the heart, and bring it to a trembling posture and disposition.
Now for such as these there is abundant foundation for peace and safety in Jesus Christ, and this will appear from the following things :
1. Christ has undertaken to save all such from what they fear, if they come to him. It is his professional business; the work in which be engaged before the foundation of the world. It is what he always had in his thoughts and intentions; he undertook from everlasting to be the refuge of those that are afraid of God's wrath. His wisdom is such, that he would never undertake a work for which he is not sufficient. If there were some in so dreadful a case that he was not able to defend them, or so guilty that it was not fit that he should save them, then he never would have undertaken for them. Those who are in trouble and distressing fear, if they come to Jesus Christ, have this to ease them of their fears, that Christ has promised them that he will protect them; that they come upon his invitation; that Christ has plighted his faith for their security if they will close with him; and that he is engaged by covenant to God the Father that he will save those afflicted and distressed souls that come to him.
Christ, by his own free act, has made himself the surety of such, he has voluntarily put himself in their stead; and if justice has any thing against them, he has undertaken to answer for them. By his own act, he has engaged to be responsible for them ; so that if they have exposed themselves to God's wrath, and to the stroke of justice, it is not their concern, but his, how to answer or satisfy for what they have done. Let there be never so much wrath that they have deserved, they are as safe as if they never had deserved any ; because he has undertaken to stand for them, let it be more or less. If they are in Christ Jesus, the storm does of course light on him, and not on them; as when we are under a good shelter, the storm, that would otherwise come upon our heads, lights upon the shelter.
2. He is chosen and appointed of the Father to this work. There needs be no fear nor jealousy, whether the Father will approve of this undertaking of Christ Jesus, whether he will accep! of him as a surety, or whether he will be willing that his wrath should be poured upon his own dear Son, instead of us miserable sinners. For there was an agreement with him concerning it be