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SERMON ON ISAIAH, LV. 10, 11. Isaiah, lv. 10, 11.- As the rain posed by God himself, in the verses
cometh down, and the snow from preceding the text, as an encouheaven, and returneth not thither, ragement to induce sinners to forbut watereth the earth, and sake their evil ways, and return maketh it bring forth and bud, unto him with their whole heart. that it may give seed to the sower “ Let the wicked forsake his way and bread to the eater; so shall and the unrighteous man his my word be that goeth forth out thoughts, and let him return unto of my mouth : it shall not return the Lord, and he will have mercy unto me void, but it shall ac- upon him; and to our God, for he complish that which I please, and will abundantly pardon. For my it shall prosper in the thing thoughts are not your thoughts, whereto I sent it.
neither are your ways my ways, It is of the utmost importance saith the Lord. For as the heavens that we should form correct no- are higher than the earth, so are tions concerning the perfections of my ways higher than your ways, God; for the more just and accú- and my thoughts than your rate views we obtain on that awful thoughts." He then assures them, subject, the more firm and enlarged in the words of the text, that the will be our expectations from him. blessings which he will convey to But we are too apt to distrust his them through the medium of his mercy and love, because, like those word, shall be as free, as certain, of old, we foolishly judge him to as abundant, as those which he imbe such a one as ourselves. When parts to the earth by means of the we presume to measure him by rain and snow. « For as the rain this incompetent standard, we must cometh down,” &c. of necessity commit the most se- In attempting to illustrate this rious errors; since nothing can be beautiful comparison, we shall enmore absurd and presumptuous deavour to trace the striking rethan to compare the “ High and semblance between the word of Lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, God, as revealed in the Holy in whose hand is the soul of every Scriptures, and the rain or snow. living thing, and the breath of all First, in their origin. mankind,” to the frail children of Secondly, in their operation. men, “ dwelling in houses of clay, , I. We remark this resemblance whose foundation is in the dust
in their origin.
The “ rain and who are but of yesterday, and snow come down from heaven," know nothing, because their days formed by the Almighty Architect are but a shadow. Whereas, on whose fiat called the world into the other hand, if we considered being. We hear, indeed, from how infinitely remote his ways and travellers who have explored the thoughts are from ours, we should interior of Africa, that among many repose the most unlimited confi- of her savage tribes there exists å dence in him, and have every fear certain personage
called swallowed up in the contemplation maker," to whom the deluded naof his power and grace. We should tives pay great deference, believexperience what the Psalmist felting that he has the power when he exclaimed, “ Surely good- ing rain when and where he pleases. ·ness and mercy shall follow me all But we, whose happy lot has been the days of my life, and I will by a kind Providence cast in a dwell in the house of the Lord for more favoured land, know that this
notion is a gross and abominable These considerations are pro- superstition; a delusion invented
by “the father of lies;" and that immediate superintendance and dithe united efforts of the whole rection: his Holy Spirit enlightenworld would never be able to pro- ing their understanding, “ calling duce a single drop of rain, a single all things to their remembrance, fake of snow. It is God who and guiding them into all truth,” forms the clouds with his mighty and wholly precluding the possihand, and, when he pleases, con- bility of error. denses their moisture, and causes As the Gospel came in this manit to descend in copious streams to ner from God originally, even so, nourish and fertilize the earth; and when faithfully preached, it is at to him alone must our acknowledg- this very time also from God. It ments be paid for every refreshing is he who instructs his servants, shower that falls.
qualifies them to declare his truth, Of this truth, we are frequently and authorizes them to make known reminded in the sacred writings; his gracious purposes of mercy toand the gods of the heathen are wards fallen man. He teaches
every challenged, if they can, to exert a faithful preacher what to say, andsimilar power, and thus prove their affords him every necessary assistdivinity, and establish their right ance in the delivery of his message. to the honours ascribed to them by As an ambassador of God, he their infatuated votaries. “ Are speaks in the name of his divine there any among the vanities of the Master, and beseeches sinners Gentiles that can cause rain; or “ to be reconciled unto him.” In can the heavens give showers ? this character, he is warranted in Art not thou he, O Lord our addressing each of his auditors in God ?”
the words of Ehud to Eglon, the In like manner the word of the King of Moab; “ I have a message Gospel comes down from heaven; from God to thee”-a message for it is said in the text, it “goeth whose purport is “ peace on earth, forth out of God's mouth.” It pro- good will towards men, eternal ceeded from God originally, as St. salvation to all who believe in the Peter observes ; “ Prophecy came Lord Jesus. This leads to the not in old time by the will of man; consideration of the next particular, but holy men of God spake as they in which the resemblance between were moved by the Holy Ghost. the word of God and rain or snow And though we had not this express is yet more strongly marked, viz. testimony of an inspired writer, no II. In their operation. The reasonable doubt could be enter- ' earth owes all its fertility to the tained on this point, did we con- moisture which it receives from the sider how minutely a vast varie- bountiful hand of God to “ the ty of Scripture prophecies have rain and snow which watereth it, been accomplished, even many and maketh it to bring forth and ages after their delivery; and re- bud, that it may give seed to the flect on the utter incapacity of the sower and bread to the eater." In human mind to pry into the hid- this happy temperate clime, we den events of futurity. But it is have but a comparatively slight not only the prophetical part of the specimen of the destructive consesacred volume that is of divine quences arising from long contiorigin, but also all the rest ; as we nued drought: but were we to visit learn from St. Paul's second the parched plains of the torrid reEpistle to Timothy, “ All Scrip- gions during a season of dryness, ture is given by inspiration of what a fearful spectacle should we God.” By which we may under- behold—“ the heaven over stand, that the sacred penmen head like brass, the ground under wrote the whole of them under his our feet like iron:" the kindly fruits
of the earth destroyed by the year with thy goodness, and thy scorching blast; famine and de- paths drop fatness.” spair depicted in every counte- As God thus gives fertility to the nance ! Then should we be able earth by means of the rain and to comprehend the force of the pro- snow; so likewise, by the instruphet's description--" Judah mourn- mentality of his word, does he fruceth, and the gates thereof languish- tify the souls of men, and cause eth: they are black unto the them to bring forth the fruits of ground, and the cry of Jerusalem righteousness and peace. By the is gone up. And the nobles have agency of his divine word, he acsent their little ones to the waters: complishes
many gracious ends. they came to the pits and found no Sometimes he sends it to quicken. water; they returned with their the dead, those who are dead in vessels empty, they were ashamed trespasses and sins; and then, acand confounded, and covered their companied by the influences of his heads. Because the ground is Holy Spirit, it animates even those chapt, for there was no rain in the who are as void of spiritual life as earth, the ploughmen were asham- the dry bones seen by Ezekiel in ed, and covered their heads: yea the valley. Again, he sends it to the hind also calved in the field, comfort the afflicted penitent, whose and forsook it because there was spirit is bowed to the earth by a no grass." Yet, even in our own sense of his transgressions; and it land, we occasionally experience performs this gracious errand, by such a scarcity of rain as sufficient- descending into his soul like the ly teaches us its inestimable value. dew and the small rain upon the If it be withheld but for a few tender herb. It is poured into weeks in summer time, what ca- the broken heart like precious lamitous consequences frequently balm, and is effectual in extracting ensue! But when it descends in the agonizing sting from the woundgenial streams to refresh the thirsty ed conscience. So efficacious is earth, her prolific powers are re- this sovereign remedy, that the vived, and abundance of vegetable most distressed cannot withstand produce for the sustenance of man its energy. When the believer is and beast rapidly springs from her tossed by the tempestuous ocean humid bosom; affording, not only of trouble, and the billows of af“ bread for the eater," an ample fliction roll like mountains over bis supply of food for present con- head, then let him cry unto the sumption, but also a sufficiency of Lord, and he will save him from “ seed for the sower," in order to his distress; he will send his word the production of a future crop. and deliver him from despair. At The bounty of the Lord in sending other times, he sends bis holy word his rain, and its fertilizing effects to sanctify the polluted sinner, upon the earth, are beautifully de- spotted all over with the leprosy of scribed by the royal Psalmist: sin. Under its purifying influence, 6. Thou visitest the earth, and wa- his most inveterate habits are broterest it; thou greatly enrichest it ken up and discontinued—sins, with the river of God, which is full which have been as precious in his of water; thou preparest them corn estimation as his “right hand or when thou hast so provided for it. right eye,” are cast away with the Thou waterest the ridges thereof utmost abhorrence: the “ stony abundantly; thou settlest the fur- heart” is taken away, and “a rows thereof; thou makest it soft heart of flesh” is given instead; with showers: thou blessést the his whole soul becomes renovated, springing thereof: thou crownest the and transformed into the image of him who so loved his church that powers of hell were leagued against he gave himself for it, that he it, they would never be able to demight sanctify and cleanse it with feat the purposes of God. Never the washing of water by the word; could they in the slightest degree that he might present it to himself counteract those merciful designs, a glorious church, not having spot for the furtherance of which he sent or wrinkle, or any such thing, but forth his heavenly word, and which, that it should be hely and without for our everlasting comfort, he has blemish. And thus is he rendered declared “ shall nut return unto a meet partaker of that holy place, him void, but shall accomplish where nothing
- that defileth” can that which he pleases, and prosper 'ever enter. Finally, by the va- in the thing whereto it was sent. rious operations of his word, God The three following useful lesdetermines to save the lost, to sons may be learned from this rescue miserable sinners from eter- beautiful comparison. The imnal ruin-to ransom their souls from portance of attending the preached justly-merited perdition. To effect word.—The danger of despising it. this mighty work, it went “ forth - The benefit of praying over it. from his mouth,” and behold it 1. We learn the importance of stops not short of his purpose, but attending the preaching of God's “ accomplishes that which he word. However faithfully this pleases, and prospers in the thing word may be preached, it will newhereto he sent it.” In no instance ver produce any saving effect until was it ever known to fail; but, God sends it home to the heart by when cordially believed, becomes the power of his Holy Spirit
. the power of God unto salvation”- Therefore, as we know not when
a lamp to our feet, and a lan- it may please him thus to impress tern to our path,” which will guide our hearts with the importance of us into the way of everlasting life. his word, we should always be In one respect, however, there found waiting upon him in the
way is a difference between the effects of his appointment. of the word of God, and those member the declaration of the produced by the rain and snow. Apostle, that “ faith cometh by Though the latter may water the hearing, and hearing by the word earth, and cause it so to bring of God;" that “whosoever shall forth and bud as to promise an
the name of the Lord abundant harvest, yet an easterly shall be saved : how then shall they wind, the destructive insects, or call on him in whom they have not some other cause, may in a short believed? and how shall they betime counteract all its beneficial lieve in him of whom they have not effect; the tender crop is blighted, heard ? and how shall they hear and the sanguine hopes of the hus- without a preacher? How beautibandman totally overthrown. But ful are the feet of them that preach it is far otherwise with the word of the Gospel of peace, and bring God. Weak as it may appear glad tidings of good things ! Let when it is delivered by sinful man, us imitate the conduct of the impoit is nevertheless quick and power- tent man who was healed by our ful; sharper than any two-edged blessed Lord at the Pool of Besword-piercing even to the di- thesda. He had for many years viding asunder of soul and spirit;" attended that place in expectation it “casts down” every thing that of a cure; and though annually exalts itself against the knowledge disappointed, in consequence of of God; the heart that would re- his forlorn situation, his patience sist its power, it renders obedient was not exhausted-he still hoped unto Christ; and though all the to obtain what he sought, and still
Let us re
continued to visit the pool. But tion, that it constituted a part of his often as he had attended, it would design in relation to the proud, cahave been all in vain if he had been villing, and incorrigible Pharisees; absent on the day that Jesus came and upon several occasions be to the place; as he would, in that quoted the above prophecy, and case, have missed the blessing applied it to his own conduct. And, which he received from him, and though not primarily intended, the had so long expected from the mi- same end is accomplished in reraculous power of the waters. spect to thousands of infidels in However long, therefore, we may every age. They despise and rehave attended at the house of God, ject that word which is sent to apparently in vain, it becomes us soften, to renovate and fertilize the still to tarry the Lord's leisure, and heart, and therefore it becomes patiently expect the showers of his their condemnation. In it, God grace in due season. For our fur- speaks from the throne of his awther encouragement, it is recorded ful majesty; and all who refuse to in his word, that “ they who wait hearken, do so at the peril of their upon the Lord shall renew their souls. If the ancient Israelites, strength; they shall mount up with who despised the word of Moses, wings as eagles: they shall run and died without mercy, of how much not be weary, they shall walk and sorer punishment shall they be not faint,” for “blessed are all thought worthy who, by despising they that wait upon him.”
the word of God, despise God 2. We learn the danger of de- himself, trample upon his eternal spising the word of God. The Son, " and count the 'blood of the text, though often interpreted as covenant an unholy thing ?” Let comprehending God's judicial pur- all such beware, lest God take poses, does not properly relate to them in their own craftiness : for them; for as the rain is not spoken whether they receive his word or of as deluging the earth, but only not, it will not go forth in vain : if rendering it fruitful, so the parallel it be not a “ savour of life unto between the Gospel and the rain life, it will prove a savour of death should be drawn only as relating unto death." to mercies, and not to judgments. 3. Lastly, We learn the benefit Nevertheless, we may notice in of praying over this holy word. It this place, that as God sent his is not in the power of man to commiracles to harden Pharaoh's heart, mand a blessing on the word of so he may and often does send his God, and to make it profitable to word to blind and harden the hearts his soul; this can be effected by of proud opposers. This was the Him alone who sent it forth. In end of the commission given to vain, therefore, does a Paul preach Isaiah, when the Lord said to him, or an Apollos water, except Hé “ Go and tell this people, Hear ye give the increase ; for, “neither is indeed, but understand not; and he that planteth any thing, neither see ye indeed, but perceive not. he that watereth; but God, that Make the heart of this people fat, giveth the increase.” But if we and make their ears heavy, and pray to God, he will send us such shut their eyes; lest they see with a word' as shall be suited to ustheir eyes, and hear with their suited to all our wants and spiriears, and understand with their tual necessities; such a word as hearts, and convert, and be healed.” shall make us ready to think, And although it was not the pri- that the minister has received primary intent of Christ, when he vate information respecting us; and preached to the people in parables, make us almost ready to exclaim yet we learn from his own declara- with the Samaritan woman, “Come,