« PreviousContinue »
if you are against him, tremble, for the day of his wrath will come, it will burn like an oven, and all the proud, and all that do wickedly /hall be asjlubble, and the day that cometh Jhall burn them up, faith the Lord of hosts, andJhall leave them neither root nor branch *. Turn therefore in time from your evil ways, submit yourselves unto him, and implore his mercy while he waiteth to be gracious, that iniquity may not be your ruin.
* Mai. iv. 1.
OPPOSITION TO MESSIAH RUINOUS.
Psalm ii. 9.
'Thou Jhalt break them with a rod of iron, thouJhalt dajh them in pieces like a potter's vejsel.
THERE is a species of the sublime in writing, which seems peculiar to the scripture, and of which, properly, no subjects, but those of divine revelation, are capable. With us things inconsiderable in themselves are elevated by splendid images, which give them an apparent importance beyond what they can justly claim. Thus the Poet, when describing a battle among bees, by a judicious selection of epithets and figures, excites in the minds of his readers, the idea of two I mighty mighty armies contending for empire. But the works and ways of God are too great in themselves, to admit of any heightening representation. We conceive more forcibly of small things, by illustrations borrowed from those which are greater; but the scripture frequently illustrates great things, by contrasting them with those, which, in our estimation, are trivial and -feeble. One instance, out of many which might be mentioned, is that truly sublime passage of the prophet, And all the host of heaven shall be diffolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll; and all their host shall fall down as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig-tree *. The apostle, when favoured with a heavenly vision, introduces the fame thought, almost in the fame words, And the far s of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig-tree cafieth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind: and the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together -f*. Such forms of expression are becoming the Majesty of the great God, before whom the difference between the great and the small in our judg* Ha. xxxiv. 4. f Rev. vi. 13, 14.
ment, is annihilated. In his view, the earth, with all its inhabitants, are but as a drop which falls unnoticed from the bucket,or as the dust which cleaves to the balance *, without affecting its equilibrium. At the fame time, the simplicity of these illustrations, so well suited to confound the pride of the wise, is striking and obvious to the lowest capacities. If Homer or Virgil had been to describe, the exertion and effect of the power of God, in subduing and punishing his enemies, they would probably have laboured for a simile sufficiently grand. But I much question if they would have thought of the image in my text, though none can be more expressive of utter irreparable ruin, or of the ease with which it is accomplished. He Jhall dash them in pieces like a potter s vessel -j-.
The series of the passages, we have lately considered, is very regular and beautiful. Messiah ascended on high, and received gifts for men. The first and immediate consequence of his exaltation in our nature, is the publication of the gospel. Then follows the happy and beneficial influence of the gospel on those who thankfully receive it. How * I&. ad. 15. f Ps. ii. 9.
beautiful beautiful are the feet of them that preacb these glad tidings. The next passage secures and describes its extensive progress—'the found went forth into all the earth. The opposition awakened by it is there described, First, as unreasonable, Why do the Heathen rage? Secondly, as ineffectual, the Lord laughs at his oppofers; he sits upon his immoveable throne, and derides their attempts -y Thirdly, the final issue of their mad resistance, their confusion and ruin, is the subject of the verse I have read, which prepares for the close of the second part of the Oratorio. His enemies shall perish, his kingdom shall be established and consummated. And then all holy intelligent beings shall join in a song of triumph, Hallelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.
The two expressions of breaking with a rod of iron, and dashing in pieces, suggest nearly the same idea. But as elsewhere he is said, to rule his enemies with a rod of iron *, I mall avail myself of this variation, in order to give you a more complete view of the dreadful state of those who oppose Messiah and his kingdom. He rules them at present with a rod * Rev. xix. 15.