Billeder på siden

"do not his words do good to them who walk uprightly."

In these words of the prophet there are three things which deserve our attention.

I. That the spirit of the Lord is not straitened. II. That the evils which fall on sinners are not God's doings.

III. That God's words will do good to them who walk uprightly.

I. Our first observation is, "that the Spirit of the Lord is not straitened." The question in the text is a plain negation. It contains its own an


The observation may be applied both to the providence of God in the government of the worldand to the grace of God in the conversion of sinners. In both applications we will illustrate and improve it.

First. By the Spirit of the Lord we may understand his providence in the government of the world. This is never straitened. To Moses in a distrustful hour God says, "Is the Lord's hand waxed short? Thou shalt see now, whether my word shall come to pass or not." He by the prophet Isaiah demands of the unbelieving Jews," Is my hand shortened at all, that it cannot save? Or have I no power to deliver?" The same prophet says, " Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor is his ear heavy, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God; and your sins have hid his face from you." Parallel to these are the words of our text ; and they express the irresistible power and immutable wisdom of God to accomplish the deep counsels of his will, and to carry into effect the vast scheme of his providence.

1. The words express the boundless influence of God's presence, and extent of his government.

His spirit is not confined within any limits. It fills the universe.-He is a God at hand, and a God afar off-above all, through all, and in all. All creatures are under his eye-all worlds are moved by his hand-the whole creation is sustained by his


Men often form designs which they cannot execute. They have neither sagacity to foresee, nor prudence to avoid, nor ability to remove the obstructions, which meet them in the process of their works. Their plans of operation puzzle and perplex them. One movement interferes with another. They are entangled in their own devices. But God's spirit is not straitened. The scheme of his government is immensely great. He has created innumerable worlds. Many our eyes can see ; more are discovered by artificial aids. All these are but a part of his ways. How little a portion is heard of him? The depth of his wisdom, the extent of his creation, the thunder of his power, who can understand? The world in which we dwell we know to be peopled with an infinite variety of living creatures. It is reasonable to suppose, that other worlds are as populous as this. Revelation teaches us, that there is an innumerable multitude of spirits rising in a regular gradation above us, to what height we cannot know. Observation shows us, that there are creatures sinking from grade to grade below us down to the very borders of nothing. So far as we can trace the works of God, there is a mutual connexion; nothing subsists alone and by itself. One species of creatures is supported by another. All are supplied by the productions of the earth. fruitfulness of the earth depends on the seasonsand these are regulated by the sun. And who knows


but this connexion runs through the universe? How vast then must be the scheme of God's government? Yet he takes care of every part, and makes each subservient to the whole. There is no error, confusion or interference in his works. We sometimes imagine, that we see disorder in his system; but if we could comprehend the whole in one view, and discern the relation of one part to another, all would doubtless appear harmonious and beautiful.

His do

2. God's power and influence are no more shortened in duration, than straitened in extent. minion is everlasting.


The existence of Deity is without beginning and we cannot conceive a time so remote, as to exclude the possibility of created existence. know, however, that it could not be from eternity. But though all creatures had a beginning, yet revelation assures us, that there are many which will have no end. In this important rank we ourselves are placed. The divine government is a plan designed, not for a few days, or years, or ages, but for eternity. It looks forward beyond the duration of earth and skies-beyond the bounds of time. "And the spirit of the Lord is not straitened." He has wisdom to direct all the movements, and power to execute all the purposes of this stupendous scheme.

We may form great designs, and leave them unfinished. Our ability may be unequal to the execution; or we may lose the ability which we now possess; or we may be removed into another state of existence before our plan is brought into operation; or we may change our mind and relinquish our purpose on conviction that it is impracticable or inexpedient. In a thousand instances our projections are thus rendered fruitless and abortive.

But with God there is no variableness nor shadow of turning. What his soul desires, that he performs,

None can resist his will. With him is everlasting strength. As his existence, so his perfections are immutable and eternal. The scheme of his government will always be conducted with the same invariable wisdom, justice and goodness.

3. None of God's creatures are overlooked or forgotten. His providential care extends to all. He preserves man and beast. Without him a sparrow falls not to the ground. The hairs of our head are numbered.

Men, deeply engaged in a great design, are unmindful of smaller things. They have not capacity to take up and arrange various matters at once.Their main purpose often miscarries by a neglect of particular circumstances, which, though apparently inconsiderable, are still essential to the object principally in view. But God's providence regards all creatures, superintends all events, and directs all the circumstances attending them. To him there is no high or low, great or small. The things, which we esteem trifling, may be great in their connexions, and interesting in their consequences. The perfection and rectitude of his government depend on his constant care of every creature among his numerous subjects, and on his exact inspection of every occurrence throughout his wide dominions. David says, "Thou hast searched me and known me; thou knowest my downsitting and my uprising; thou compassest my path, possessest my reins and knowest my thoughts afar off. How precious are thy thoughts unto me, how great is the sum of them! They are more than the sand. When I awake, I am still with thec. This knowledge is too wonderful for me. It is high; I cannot attain to it." But to the perfect, allcomprehensive mind of the Deity it is easy and familiar. His spirit is not confined to 疼 few objects. It compasses the whole extent of

creation, pervades all space, animates every living thing, and imparts understanding to every rational being. Wherever we go, his presence surrounds us. Whatever we do, his eye beholds us. He is not far from every one of us; for in him we live, and move, and have our being,

4. God's providence is not restrained by our unworthiness. "He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good. He sends rain on the just and on the unjust. He is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works."

Human goodness is discouraged by ingratitude. When its benefits are disregarded or misapplied, it is soon weary of well doing. But God is patient and longsuffering. "He waits to be gracious, and exalts himself that he may have mercy." Our obstinacy may divert the course, but our unworthiness will not hinder the exercise of his benevolence."He deals not with us after our sins, nor rewards us according to our iniquities. As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his mercy to them who fear him." "He would not that sinners should perish, but that they should come to repentance." When he gives up the incorrigible to the consequences of their own peryerseness, his compassion is moved within him.

The riches of his goodness we behold in the world around us; for he opens his hand and satisfies the desires of every living thing. His constant bounty we experience in ourselves; for he daily loads us with benefits. But the glory of his grace is displayed in the gospel, which teaches us, that, in his compassion to a guilty world," he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

5. God is not straitened by any difficulty or opposition in his way. All things are possible with him,

« ForrigeFortsæt »