THE GREAT RUIN, AND THE GREAT
RELIEF; OR, HELP FROM
SELF-DESTROYERS ON EARTH.
This subject was handled in two sermons. The first was preached at Braid Craig; on Wednesday, March 22nd, 1738, being a day appointed for solemn Fasting and Humiliation, by the Associate Presbytery, at the earnest desire of the Societies for Prayer, in and about Edinburgh. The second was delivered on the Sabbath thereafter, at Linton.
“O Israel, thou heat destroyed thyself;
but in me is thy help.” Hosea 13:9
However uneasy it is for men to hear of their sin and danger, from the word of God, yet it is necessary they hear of both, as long as sin may be repented of, and danger may be prevented. Here in this chapter the children of Israel are,
1. Reproved and threatened for their idolatry, notwithstanding the provision that God made to prevent their falling into it, (vv. 1-4).
2. They are reproved and threatened for their wantonness, pride, and luxury, and other abuses of their wealth and prosperity, (vv. 5-8). And though the wrath that is threatened, as a coming upon them, for these and other sins, is very terrible, yet, “In the midst of wrath he remembers mercy;” and therefore in the midst of words of wrath, he forgets not to intermix words of mercy; “O Israel thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help.”
There are two springs of gospel-repentance; one is, a true sense of sin; and another, the apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ: both these we are led to in these words. That we may have a true sense of sin, we are here taught how we have destroyed ourselves by it: that we may have an apprehension of mercy in Christ, we are taught that in him is our help.
In these words you may observe two things.
1. The persons or people to whom God speaks, and how he speaks to them, “O Israel.” It is with affectionate concern, that God deals with sinners for their conviction and conversion.
2. The thing he speaks to them, “Thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help. Here is,
(1.) The spring of their RUIN, it is of themselves; O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself?” or, it hath destroyed thee, O Israel! that is, thy sin and folly, thy own wickedness hath destroyed thee. Willful sinners are self-destroyers. Obstinate impenitence is the grossest self-murder; thy blood is upon thine own head.
(2.) The spring of their relief, “But in me is thine help.” Here is a plank thrown out after shipwreck. There is help even for self-destroyers in me the Saviour and salvation.
The words may be read, “O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself, for in me is thy help:” q.d. Say not, that I, who thus threaten wrath against thee, have destroyed thee; thy sin hath done it. It is the rebel that destroys himself, though he fall by the sword of his provoked sovereign. Thou art the cause and author of thy own ruin; “For in me is thy help.” I was always able and ready to help thee, and would have certainly saved thee, but thy sins and wickedness carried thee to other helps, which were but lies and vain confidences. I would have helped thee, and healed thee, but thou wouldst not. Thus it is a proof of their destroying themselves. Thou art thy own destroyer; for I am thy helper, that have been offering thee my help, which thou hast put away from thee, and so destroyed thyself by refusing my help, and rebelling against me, thy help. In God alone, and not in us, is our help; and therefore, in us alone, and not in God, is the cause of our ruin. In our reading, “But in me is thy help,” it seems not to run argumentatively, adversatively as the opposite of the former clause of the verse: yet it hath the same import with the other reading, and magnifies not only the power of God, that can help, when things are at the worst, and help these that cannot help themselves; but also the mercy and grace of God that will help these, that have destroyed themselves, and have no will to be helped, but have long refused his help. And, indeed, our case was miserable for ever, if God were not better to us than we are to ourselves.
From the words, there are these six general observations we may make.
1. That, as sin is a ruining thing, so it brings ruin not only upon persons, but upon nations and churches that are guilty: “O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself.”
2. God’s dealing with men for their conviction is very home and close; “O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself:” and as God, when he makes conviction particular, and persons make close application, thou man, thou woman, hast done so and so, and destroyed thyself by thy sin; so he wills nations, and churches, and cities to be convinced and humbled for their particular sin and guilt; O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself.”
3. God’s method of grace toward self-destroying sinners, having once discovered their sin, is next to reveal his thoughts of love; his words are a proper fence against two ruining extremes, presumption, and despair. To prevent presumptions, he says, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself;” to prevent despair, he adds, “But in me is thy help.” With the same breath he tells us of the ruin and of the remedy; and with the same hand, reaches the blow and the blessing; or, gives the wound and the cure.
4. Such is the unspeakable mercy of God, that he hath more pity and kindness for us, than we have for ourselves. Our unnatural cruelty to ourselves is as the foil to set forth the riches of God’s mercy; “When no eye pitied thee;” no, not thine own eyes, “I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, Live,” (Ezek. 16:5-6). When thou wast in thy blood, wallowing in thy own blood, and hadst brought thy blood upon thy own head, then I pitied thee. Men usually say, if a man will be willful, let him be so, but God says, I will pity him.
5. Nothing ruins sinners so much as their slighting the mercy of God, their opposing his offer, and refusing his help. As God offers his help, which he hath laid upon One that is mighty, insomuch, that the cause of our destruction is not in God, but in ourselves; so the chief thing, by which we ruin and destroy ourselves, is our refusing God’s help, rejecting his Christ, in seeking help and happiness elsewhere than in him; “O Israel thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help.” And thou hast rejected me, and run away to creature-helps, and creature-supports, and creature-comforts, and forsaken me the fountain of living waters.
6. The sixth observation we make from the words is, what we shall speak to, and it is thus; that as man’s ruin and destruction is only of himself; and his own sin; so his relief and deliverance is only owing to God, and his sovereign grace and mercy; “O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help.”
This text and doctrine is a tree which hath two branches. I shall endeavor, therefore, first, to consider the former branch, viz. That man’s ruin and destruction is only of himself, and his own sinfulness; and what fruit may be gathered from this branch of truth, for our use and improvement suitable to the design of the day. Secondly, I shall go on to the other branch of the text and doctrine, namely, That our relief and deliverance is owing only to God, and his sovereign mercy: and consider what fruitful lessons may be gathered thence for our use and improvement thereof.
First then, That man’s ruin and destruction is only of himself, and his own sinfulness. This is plain from scripture; “Hast thou not procured this unto thyself, in that thou hest forsaken the Lord thy God, when he led thee by the way?” Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see, that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts,” (Jer. 2:17, 19). “Say, unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way, and live: turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 23:11). Again, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. Behold your house is left unto you desolate,” (Matt. 23:37). For further clearing of this, I offer these following propositions.
The first proposition is, “That sin is a killing and destroying thing.” Death and destruction came in by this door; “The wages of sin is death,” (Rom. 6:23). “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned,” (Rom. 5:12). It wounded and slew our first parents in paradise: it destroyed them, first, as to the peace of their conscience: for it made them hide themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden, (Gen. 3:8). It destroyed them, next, as to the state of their souls; for it made them both legally dead, under the law sentence, and so liable to eternal death; and spiritually dead, under the power of sin, (Eph. 2:1) according to that threatening, “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die,” (Gen. 2:17). And lastly, it destroyed them as to the life of their body; for presently they became mortal, subject to all outward miseries, which are a temporal death, and to the dissolution of soul and body, which is natural death: and, at last, dropped their body into the dust, according to that, “Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return,” (Gen. 3:19). As their sin destroyed themselves, so it did their posterity; and their sinning posterity destroyed themselves by their own sin. Thus every particular sinner is a self-destroyer. The slothful man is said to be his own murderer; “The desire of the slothful killeth him,” (Prov. 6:32). The adulterer is his own murderer; “Whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding; he that doth it destroyeth his own soul,” (Prov. 6:32). The drunkard is his own murderer; “Who hath wo? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? and who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine, they that go to seek mixt wine,” (Prov. 23:29-30). How sweetly soever it go down, at last, “It bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder.” The extortioner is his own murderer: he heaps up treasures of vengeance for himself, The voluptuous, the wanton debauchee, is his own murderer; “Ye have lived in pleasures on the earth, and been wanton;” then it follows, “Ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. They that make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof,” (Jam. 5:3-5), they but nourish themselves for the day of slaughter. The false prophet and the false teacher murders his own soul, as well as the souls of others. Hence such are said to bring upon themseves swift destruction; many following their pernicious ways; their judgment, now of a long time, lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not, (2 Pet. 2:1-3). In a word, all impenitent sinners are said to treasure up wrath to themselves against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, (Rom. 2:5). All this says, that sin is a killing thing, and sinners are self-murderers, and self-destroyers; and it cannot be otherwise, because sin is a transgression of the law, and the transgressors of the law are liable to temporal judgments here, and eternal hereafter; “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death,” (Jam. 1:15).
The second proposition is, “That as sin is a hurtful and destructive thing, so the destruction it makes, is very extensive.” Sin destroys and abuses everything; it makes an universal abuse: no wonder, for it is an abusing of God; and, if it could, would destroy him; therefore we call it Deicide. It would pull GOD out of his throne; it abuses his authority, interposed in his law; it abuses his justice, as if he would not punish; and abuses his power, as if he could not; it is an abuse of his wisdom, as if his law were not right and reasonable; an abuse of his knowledge and omniscience, as if he did not see and observe: it is an abuse of his long-suffering, patience, and forbearance; an abuse of his sparing mercy and kindness; and when it abuses God, the chief good, it must abuse everything. It is an abuse of his threatenings, as if they were not to be feared; and an abuse of his promises, as if they were not to be regarded; it is an abuse of his holiness; a direct contrariety to his nature and will: it is an attempt upon his being; “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God:” he wishes there were none. Sin is an abuse of Christ; it is a refusing and rejecting of him: an abuse of his person, natures, and offices: it is an abuse of his death, his blood, his righteousness: a neglecting of the great Saviour, and the great salvation. Sin is an abuse of the Spirit: it is a resisting of the Spirit; a quenching of the Spirit; a vexing of the Spirit: a doing despite unto the Spirit of God. It is such an universal abuse of GOD, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that, no wonder, they that see sin with the Psalmist, cry out with him, saying, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight,” &c. (Ps. 51:4).
When sin, thus abuses the God of Heaven, no wonder that it abuse man upon earth. Your sin, man, woman, is an abuse of your rational soul, which is capable of glorious enjoyment in heaven; but by sin it grovels on earth among the dust, wallows in a filthy kennel. Sin is an abuse of the body, which should be the temple of the Holy Ghost; it becomes thereby the temple of the devil. Sin destroys the very body: it is an abuse and destruction of time, that precious time that should be spent in preparing for eternity. It is an abuse and destruction of health and strength; God lends you health and strength, and you employ them against God; yea, strangers, as the prophet says, (Hosea 7:9), or strange gods have devoured their strength; it may be, strange women, strange lusts, strange lovers, devour your strength. Sin is an abuse and destruction of wealth, riches, and worldly prosperity. God, as it were, hires the wealthy to be dutiful to him; but Jeshurun-like, they kick against him, when they wax fat: “When I fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlot’s houses, &c. Shall I not visit for these things, saith the Lord? shall riot my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” (Deut. 32:15; Jer. 5:7, 9). Thus it was an aggravation of Israel’s sin; they gave all to Baal, all to their lusts: “She did not know, that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal,” (Hosea 2:8). Some give all the silver and gold that God hath given them, yea, more than they can well spare, to their profane diversions, idle, vain, and wanton amusements, lewd and wicked practices. Again, sin is an abuse of warnings, afflictions, and judgments. It is an abuse of light and knowledge: it is a crossing of the light of nature and of scripture both. Men cannot sin at so cheap a rate as in the days of popish darkness, when the scriptures were locked up in an unknown tongue: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin; but now they have no cloak for their sin.” In a word, sin is an abuse of the word, the preached word, the written word; it makes men wrest the scriptures to their own destruction: to impugn the necessity of divine revelation, and turn Deists, Arians, Atheists, and incarnate devils. It is an abuse and destruction of wit, reason, talents, sermons, Sabbaths, and everything.
The third proposition is, “That this certain and universal destruction that sin works, is gradual.” Sin destroys them like a consumption by degrees; though it brings sudden and surprising destruction at last, (1 Thess. 5:3), yet it brings the heaviest destruction by several steps! “He that being often removed, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy, (Prov. 29:1). We use to say, Nemo repente fit turpissimus; “None instantly become most flagitious: men come not to the utmost of vileness but by degrees.” When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death,” (Jam. 1:15). In nature corrupted, there remains some sparkles of divine light, some bridles to restrain black and bloody, foul and abominable sins, viz. fear and shame, the spies of the natural conscience; these must be abated by little and little, before a man grow impudent in sin, declaring it as Sodom. The person that hath got some Christian education, he first, perhaps grows out of conceit with religious duties, and neglects to perform them; then he begins to wish there were no precept or injunction to such duties; next, he falls a-questioning, whether there be such a heaven or hell, as preachers hold out to him? Then he begins to pick up all the arguments that can make for heathenism, and against Christianity, or divine revelation; then he hearkens to nothing that will make against him, and chooses to deal with them that are too weak for him; for he hates the light, and is afraid of it; after this he takes loose reins, and joins himself with the companies that practice wickedness, and agree with him in his folly; and then, finally, he laughs and scorns at all the ministers of the word; and now he comes to his Akhn his height in wickedness. Now, he follows his lusts with greediness, resolving if he shall be damned, he shall be damned for something: like these saying, “There is no hope; but we will walk after our own devices, and we will every one do the imagination of his evil heart,” (Jer. 18:12).
Thus there are several steps of Satan’s ladder. The man comes frist to walk in the counsel of the ungodly; then he stands in the way of sinners: and lastly, he sitteth in the seat of the scornful, (Ps. 1:1). Satan leads men up the steps of his ladder, till they fall down and break their necks. After temptation is offered, first comes approbation in the understanding: after that, consent in the will; after that, comes practice in the affection; after that, custom in the repeated act; then follows delight in that sinful way; after this comes the defense of it, with all the rhetoric hell can invent; after that comes boldness in sinning with a whore’s forehead; and, last of all, comes scorning, and a drawing iniquity with cords of vanity, (Isa. 5:18). Boasting in wickedness, and glorying in their shame.
Satan acts first like a creeping serpent, and then like a flying dragon. His first request seems mannerly and modest, as Semiramis desired of Ninus to reign, but one day, and that one day to do what she pleased; and in that day she cut off his head. Sin deceives men till they are hardened through its deceitfulness. It appears, at first, but little in the fountain, in the heart and thought; then it bubbles out into a stream in evil words; then it increases into a river in evil actions; next, it swells into a torrent, and overflows all in a long custom, till it drown men in perdition, and thus it gradually destroys them.
The fourth proposition is, “That this destroying evil is of ourselves and our own obstinate will.” Men are apt to charge God foolishly, as if he were the author of their sin and ruin, though yet he solemnly clears himself, by oath, from having the least hand in it: “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezek. 33:11). “He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Pet. 3:9). When God’s fury breaks forth like fire against impenitent sinners, it is their own hand that kindles it; “Ye have kindled a fire in mine anger, which shall burn for ever,” (Jer. 17:4). It was the cry of Sodom’s sins that brought down the Almighty in flames of fire upon them. God doth not destroy the sinner, till the sinner hath wearied God out of all patience, as it were: and hence he says, “I am weary with repenting; thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord; thou art gone backward; therefore will I stretch forth mine hand against thee, and destroy thee,” (Jer. 15: 6). I am weary with repenting: God bears with sinners, till he can bear no longer; “The Lord could no longer bear;” why? “because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation and astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant as at this day,” (Jer. 44:22).
And as our destruction is not of God, far less is our sin; it is wholly of ourselves; “Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed,” (Jam. 1:13-14). When men break out into lying, stealing, killing, swearing, whoring, and the like, it proceeds from the lusts that war in their members, (Jam. 4:1); and from the notions of sin that work there, (Rom. 7:8); it proceeds from the corrupt fountain of the heart, (Matt 15:18-19). Christ says, “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, theft, false witness, blasphemies.” Thus, “Their feet run to evil:” (Isa. 59:17) why? whence is that? It follows, “Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity;” and hence, as it is said, “Their works are works of iniquity,” (v. 6).
It was said of the old world what may be said of this, “God saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth:” why? whence was this? “Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually,” (Gen. 6:5). There were evil motions continually working in their minds; and hence they became so monstrously wicked.
Man’s sin is of himself, by reason of inbred corruption, which gives matter, life, and being to every sin; insomuch that were it not for this, neither the ill customs of the world, nor yet the temptations of Satan, could fasten upon us. Hence you see our Lord Jesus, though he lived and conversed in the world with all sorts of people, yet no allurements thereof could provoke him to sin. Satan, also, in vain attacked him with all his temptations, but he had not tinder in him to give fire to these matches; according as he saith himself, “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me,” (John 14:30). He hath no corrupt matter to work upon: he may shoot his darts, but they return to his own hurt. Were it not then for the corruption of our sinful nature, neither the devil nor the world could draw us to sin: and Satan knows this well enough; hence he suits his temptations to our natural inclinations.
Now as man’s sin is of himself, and his ruin of himself, so especially it is of his obstinate will; “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life,” (John 5:4), says Christ. Nothing from without or within, is so much the cause of man’s ruin as the will. As for the body, it is but a lump of dust that cannot act without the will; the eye cannot look; the feet cannot walk; the tongue cannot speak without the consent of the will; and as for the other faculties of the soul, all of them are influenced according to the motion of the will. I find the ignorance of the mind attributed to the obstinacy of the will: “This they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old,” (2 Pet. 3:5). Men hate the light, and will not come to it, lest their deeds be reproved; “Light is come into the world, but men love darkness rather than light.” Again, the affections are under the command of the will; fear, love, joy, delight, desire are, as it were, lackeys unto this commanding faculty. The memory is regulated by the will; it remembers only these things best that the will is most delighted with; and what the will doth not affect, the memory doth not retain. All the thoughts are under the power of the will; all the imaginations of the soul fix themselves on this or the other object, as the will is pleased and delighted therewith or not. Thus, nothing without or within is the cause of man’s ruin and destruction so much as the will. It is the will that rejects the word of God: “They would have none of my counsel; they despised my reproof; therefore they shall eat of the fruit of their own way,” (Prov. 1:30-31). It is said, “The wicked shall fall by their own wickedness,” (Prov. 11:5). “My people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would none of me,” (Ps. 81:11). “I would have gathered ye, but you would not,” (Matt. 23:37). “For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, in returning and rest shall ye be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength; and ye would not,” (Isa. 30:15). “Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls; but they said, We will not walk therein. Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet; but they said, “We will not hearken,” (Jer. 6:16-17), So perverse is the will, and so bent are men upon eternal ruin, that they will do more to escape temporal than eternal danger; more to escape a temporal than eternal fire; yea, they will do more to be damned than to be saved; and choose to do anything rather than come to Christ the Saviour; and here is the chief ruining sin, A willful rejecting [of] the mercy of God, the Christ of God. Hence men are said to love death; “All that hate me, love death,” (Prov. 8:36). Hence the question “Why will ye die?” (Ezek. 18:31).
Men’s unwillingness to come to Christ for salvation appears by these two things, among many others.
1st, They are naturally unwilling to come to the outward means of grace; “Thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee,” (Ps. 50:17). This hatred of the outward means, saying in effect to the Almighty, “Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways,” (Job 21:14); and refusing with the prodigal, to return to our Father, till compelled; this natural hatred, I say, even of the outward means, is evident from the choice they make of outward things; for example, man, tell me what place do you choose? Is it not natural to you that are ungodly, to choose to be in any place, rather than where the gospel is powerfully dispensed: You choose the tavern rather than the temple; the place of vanity and foolery, rather than the place of ordinances and divine worship, unless it be, when you come to hear a sermon for your diversion; and so for feeding some lust or other, not for food and edification to your soul. Tell me also, what family do you choose? Such as have the disposing of themselves had rather be in a family where there is nothing but profaneness and wantonness, than in such where the fear of God is taught, and where God is duly worshipped, morning and evening. Again, what service do you choose? Some had rather undergo any drudgery than be employed in spiritual worship. “Nay, you may take the carnal man, says one, and tie him to a stake, and kill him with praying and preaching.” What delight do you choose? Are they not rather any vain, carnal delights, than in divine and spiritual things? What books do you choose? Would you not, many times, rather read any wild romance, than sit down and search the Scriptures? Any book rather than the book of God. And, in a word, what company do you choose? Is it not any carnal company, rather than the company of the godly? Any diverting or debauched company, rather than spiritual and edifying company? “He that is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked.” Any conversation, or communication, is chosen, rather than such as is instructive in religion. If any would attempt this in some companies, they would expose themselves to be flouted as impolite and unfashionable, in this profane age. If conscience answer to these and the like questions, it will bear witness to this truth, that men are naturally unwilling to submit to the outward means of grace.
2ndly, It appears from this, that when men are under the means, they are unwilling to be wrought upon by these means: both unwilling to be enlightened, and unwilling to be drawn.
(1.) They are unwilling to be enlightened, and hate the light, (John 3:20). Thus doth the present generation hate the light of a testimony for truth, and against their defections, as Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, hated the plainness of Amos, saying, “The land is not able to bear with all his words,” (Amos 7:10).
This unwillingness to be enlightened is plain.
1. Because they shut their eyes against the light, and will think well of themselves, whatever wickedness be charged upon them, or whatever sin be shown them.
2. If they cannot keep out the light; yet they let it in by halves, using all arts to diminish their guilt, to lessen their sin, that so they may have the more favorable opinion of themselves; they will put the blame upon some other, if it be possible, as Adam upon Eve, and she upon the serpent.
3. If the light hath so far entered, that the man sees himself a miserable creature, then he does what he can to deliver himself from the power of conviction and the sense of sin; nay, if he get his corrupt will, it shall neither stay so long with him, nor work so powerfully on him, as to oblige him to come to Christ.
4. When conviction hath so far prevailed with him as that he hath some thoughts of coming to Christ, yet then he delays, and puts it off, through the power of remaining aversion and enmity; it is not yet time; and thus some delay to their eternal rain.
5. If light come yet a further step, to make him judge he is in danger of perishing forever, if he come not to Christ presently; yet, if God suffer his present fear to abate, then his resolution abates also, and he returns to his folly.
6. If his fear return more strongly upon him, so that he hath no rest nor quiet, yet how unwilling is he to come to Christ wholly? If he get not a farther touch of divine power, he remains but half willing. He would have Christ for his Saviour to deliver him from hell, not for his Lord to reign over him, and deliver him from sin. Thus men are unwilling to be enlightened, and averse from letting in all the light.
(2.) Though enlightened, yet they may be unwilling to be drawn to Christ: and hence resist many strokes, and common motions of God’s Spirit. Thus a man may have much and long experience of the bitterness of sin; and yet be unwilling to come to Christ, and be saved from it. He may not only know that sin hath done him much mischief, but that it will do him much more; and yet be unwilling to come to Christ. He may have in his eye the precious promises of glorious things to be obtained in a way of coming to Christ, and have some comfortable feeling of these things, even a taste of the powers of the world to come, and receive the word with joy; and yet be unwilling to come to Christ. Further, God may set before him the dreadful threatenings of eternal death and wrath, yea, and he may have some foretaste of the wrath to come, like Cain and Judas; and yet, if God leave him there, he remains unwilling to come to Christ, and perishes forever.
People may be converted to some general regard for religion, and yet be heart-enemies to the power of godliness, having a direct enmity against religion, in the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of it. Enemies to the height of it, or to a high profession, especially in a time wherein it may be dangerous to confess Christ openly before the world. They reckon this were but to expose themselves. Enemies to the depth of religion, and to the mystery thereof; they are not for wading into the depth of it, but only for stepping about the skirt, the hem, the outside of it. Enemies to the length of it. “The hypocrite will not always call upon God.” What! to be always watching, constantly praying: this is intolerable. Enemies to the breadth of it, as it extends to their thoughts, words, and actions, to all times, places, and companies: this is intolerable also. Thus men discover their hatred of religion, who yet have no will to be thought irreligious; and so men willfully destroy themselves.
I proposed to apply or gather some fruits from this branch of the text. Many lessons may be hence learned: I shall, therefore, from what I have said, deduce a few things for information and humiliation.
1st, For information. Hence we may learn the following six particulars.
1. What a forlorn condition the fall of Adam hath brought us unto! We have run away from God, and will not be called back to him. Men are become so mad and distracted, as to choose death, and to be in love with sin, our mortal enemy; “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness.” None are greater enemies to sinners than themselves; they are their own murderers, butchers, and executioners. They will be away to the devil, to their sins, to their lusts; their own feet carry them to hell; the Bible calls them dogs and swine, because they run as dogs to the vomit and as swine to the puddle.
2. Hence see that it is no easy matter to convert a sinner. True converts had good reason to give God the glory of their conversation; for, “He that hath wrought them to the self-same thing is God.” No thanks to freewill. Let the Arminian try what hand they can make of it. Man had once freewill to good and evil both, in a state of innocence; but now, in his corrupt state, he hath no freewill but to evil. He hath a heart full of enmity against God, and against all the means of his own salvation.
3. Hence learn whom sinners have to blame for their ruin, and how vain their shifts and excuses for their sin are, since it is such a dangerous and destructive thing. Call no sin little, when the wages of the least sin is death and destruction. You may put what name you will upon sin, and call drunkenness, good fellowship; and pride, gallantry; and covetousness, good husbandry, or frugality; but so many sins, so many wounds, you give your poor soul. What pleasure or profit can be in that which will be bitterness in the end; that is honey in the mouth, and poison in the belly?
4. Hence see how inexcusable sinners are, when God arises to judgment. Since they willfully destroy themselves, every mouth shall be stopped. God offers them salvation; they will not have it. God will be just when he judges; for sinners reap the wages of their own works; and the sinner’s conscience will eternally torment him. If now they are their own murderers, is it a wonder they shall afterwards be their own tormentors? Though now they do their best to lull conscience asleep, yet it will waken upon them, and charge them forever with their own ruin. This will be a never-dying worm in their breast. How much are they to be pitied, when, instead of pitying themselves, they are putting hands to themselves, by their own desperate wickedness.
5. See how little reason sinners have to be jocund and merry, in a course of sin. Do you see the wicked mockers of God and religion, how they are dancing towards the chambers of death? Alas I does self-murder deserve a song of triumph? “As a mad man, who casteth fire-brands, arrows, and death; so is the man that deceives his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?” (Prov. 26:18-19). It is a strange counsel that Solomon, after the sad experience he had of his own folly, gave to the young man; “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thy heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment,” (Eccl. 11:9). Here is a comedy in the first part of the verse; but a tragedy in the last part of it. When iniquity hath played her part, vengeance leaps upon the stage; “Rejoice, O young man!” Why? this is a brave allowance. Well, but remember the judgment to come; q.d. take thy pleasure, but consider thy doom; sin on if thou darest. The comedy is short, but the tragedy is long. Put the rejoice and the remember together, and choose whether you will rejoice or remember? Whether you will take your short heaven now or your long hell hereafter? Whether you will choose the pleasures of sin now, which cannot look death and judgment in the face without being damped; or the pleasures of religion, with all the tribulation that may attend it, that can look upon death and judgment with joy? Ah! poor pleasures! that cannot stand a serious thought of death and judgment. “Remember, that for all these things;” why? the Judge sets down all upon the table of remembrance; item, for your drunkenness; item, for your whoredom; item, for swearing; item, for Sabbath-breaking; item, for mocking, and a thousand things; “For all these things God will bring thee into judgment.” What a fair thread have you spun, that must answer for all? who yet are not able to answer for one. Rejoice, but remember; oh! here is a sad but, that spoils all the sport. A guilty conscience cannot abide to hear of judgment; because then the sinner hears his own condemnation.
Therefore, sinner, laugh at leisure, lest God laugh next at you and your destruction, according to Proverbs 1:24-26. Some laugh at the word, which is yet fulfilling upon them; for it says, “There shall be in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” They esteem no more of his threatenings, denounced in the preached word, than of flashes of lightning in a theatre, or thunder in a stage-play. But death and an awful tribunal will be found no matter of sport; and the more any fear the threatened wrath of God, the less shall they feel: “To this man will I look, even to him that trembles at my word:” but the less you fear, the more shall you feel; “Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to his fear, so is his wrath,” (Ps. 90:11).
6. Hence we may learn what it is that ruins famous churches; “O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself.” What brought desolation upon them, but their own sin? And particularly, their willful departure from God, and refusing help, his offered salvation. “My people would not hearken to my voice, Israel would none of me: So I gave them up unto their own hearts lust; and they walked in their own counsels,” (Ps. 81:11-12). “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killed the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not? Behold, your house is left unto you desolate! O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have done it? but ye would not: Behold, your house is left to you desolate!” (Matt. 23:37-38). It is left empty, empty of all its multitude, that use to come to solemn feasts, (Lam. 1:4); empty of pure ordinances, though once the city of our solemnities; empty of powerful influences of my Spirit, and woe to you, when I depart; empty of diligent laborers and faithful preachers, having, instead of ministers, seducers; instead of pastors, imposters; instead of laborers, loiterers: “Behold, your house is left to you desolate:” it is left to you, being left of God, it is yielded up to you. Churches and cities left and deserted of God, are yielded up to the worst of sinners; and what will they do with holy things, or holy places, and holy ordinances, and holy Sabbaths, when left to them, and God himself is gone? How will they profane his Sabbaths, pollute his ordinances, destroy the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of his house, break down the carved work; and turn the house of prayer to a den of thieves? “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
2dly, This subject may be improven for conviction and humiliation. Ought we not this day to be humbled before God, and convinced, that this is the case with us. And that God is saying to us, as he did to Israel, O Scotland, thou hast destroyed thyself! O Edinburgh, thou hast destroyed thyself! O sinner, thou hast destroyed thyself! O! let ministers and people! take with the charge, “Thou hast destroyed thyself:” here, let us lament, and be humbled before God.
How many ways might we mention, hath Scotland been destroying itself, since our glorious Reformation from Popery! Particularly, by breaking our National Covenant with God: we give our hands solemnly to God, and then departed from him; and gave our hands to the men of the world, by public Resolutions, to join with them: yea, we dishonored him by burning our Covenant with the King of kings, and giving sacrilegious homage to the kings of the earth, as if they had been supreme over all persons, and in all causes, civil or ecclesiastic; by defiling ourselves with many oaths, contrary to the oath of God, and accepting indulgences, founded upon that wicked supremacy, assumed over the house of God: by involving ourselves in the guilt of their blood, that suffered for the testimony of Jesus, in witnessing for him as King of Zion, in opposition to such as robbed him of his crown; by neglecting, at the merciful Revolution, the fairest opportunity of reviving a Covenanted Reformation, and rebuilding his house upon the right foundation: but, instead of that, we may say, “We and our forefathers have sinned; we understood not his wonders, nor remembered the multitude of his mercies; but provoked him at the sea, even at the Red Sea,” (Ps. 106:6-7); at the very time and place of deliverance from tyranny, and arbitrary power.
But, in later times, how have we destroyed ourselves more and more? I shall mention some sins that ruin and destroy churches and nations; and we may consider whether or not we have been and are destroying ourselves therewith.
1. Lukewarmness and indifference in religion is a desolating and destroying sin; “Because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth,” (Rev. 3:15). This made God cast off that church of Laodicea; and is not this the sin of this generation? Interpendent, as it were, and hanging between heaven and hell, between God and Baal; zeal for the kingdom, and cause, and honor of Christ, wearing gradually out.
2. Apostasy from God is a desolating and destroying sin to churches and nations: “Thou hast left thy first love: Remember therefore from whence thou hast fallen, and repent, and do thy first works, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place,” (Rev. 3:4-5). The candlestick is the church; the sin that removes the candlestick is apostasy. And are we not chargeable in this land with apostasy in judgment, leaving the ancient truth of God for new errors; new gods, but old devils, (Deut. 32:17-18); new lights, but damnable errors, and doctrines of devils; many of these tolerated, untouched and uncensored by the judicatories of the church [Some of these errors, which our Author probably here alludes to, are condescended upon in another volume]; chargeable with apostasy in affection, having left our first love; “The love of our espousals,” (Jer. 2:2) when our land was married to God by solemn covenant? With apostasy in practice and conversation, as many of Christ’s disciples left him, when he was apprehended; yea, many who seem to run well for a time, they sit up; they begin in the Spirit, and end in the flesh.
3. “Barrenness under the means of grace, that God hath been some time giving a plentiful allowance of, is another sin that brings desolation and destruction; that is represented by the curse denounced upon the barren fig-tree: “Cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground” (Luke 13:7). “The axe is laid to the root of the trees: therefore every tree, which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire,” (Matt. 3:10). If under Zion’s blessings we bring forth Sodom’s blossoms, see what God will do; “I will break up the hedge, and dress it no more, the clouds shall rain no more rain upon it,” &c. (Isa. 5:5-6).
4. Union and communion with a wicked world is church-destroying and soul-destroying; for the companion of fools shall be destroyed. There are sinful unions and associations, whereby churches and nations may be destroyed; such was our incorporating union with England, upon terms opposite to our Covenant-union formerly with them: to which may be applied, “They joined themselves unto Baalpeor; they were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works,” (Ps. 106:28, 35, 40). Many a sad lesson have we learned from our neighbors, and many dismal consequences have followed this incorporation. I designedly enlarge not upon any of these things that are more fully represented in a published Testimony among your hands, adopted by you, that have invited us to this day’s work here, [The direful consequences that have attended the union of the two kingdoms, are laid open in the Act and Testimony, p. (?!) 46-49].
5. Pride of privileges and confidence is the church and temple, like the Jews that cried “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these,” (Jer. 7:4). As if an established church could be their security; but, what is the name of the church, when the glory is departed? Is it not their confidence, that the Lord is with them, because they are a church that will secure them: “They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with inequity. The heads thereof judge for rewards, and the priests thereof teach for hire, and the prophets thereof divine for money; yet will they lean upon the Lord, and say, Is not the Lord among us? none evil can come upon us. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house, as the high places of the forest,” (see Micah 3:10-12). Therefore saith the Lord, “Thou shalt no more be haughty, because of my holy mountain,” (Zeph. 3:11).
6. Gross and cursed hypocrisy is another destructive and desolating sin; we see (Matt. 23:13-29), no less than eight woes are denounced against hypocrites. Hypocrites mock God, and destroy themselves: they profess one thing, and are really something else; like the blasphemy of those who said they were Jews, and were not, but were the synagogue of Satan, (Rev. 2:9). They professed to be a true church, and yet they were but a church malignant; as if some should profess to be a true Presbyterian church, and yet be really Antichristian, or Erastian “O Israel! thou halt destroyed thyself,” &c.
7. Stubbornness and incorrigibleness is a desolating and destructive sin: when neither word nor rod prevail with a people to leave their sin, and return to him, this brings temple-desolation, and presages still heavier and heavier judgment: “If, by these things, ye will not be reformed, then will I punish you seven times more; and yet seven times more; and I will walk contrary to you,” (Lev. 26:23). “I have so and so punished you, and ye have not returned unto me; “Therefore prepare to meet thy God, O Israel!” (Amos 4:12).
8. Covenant-breaking with God is another desolating and destructive sin: in that same chapter (Lev. 26:25), “I will bring a sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrel of my covenant.” Such an avenging sword is yet hanging over Britain and Ireland, for breaking, burning, and burying out of mind the covenant made between God and our fathers; though many say, What have we to do with what our fathers did this time [a] hundred years [ago]? Well, but see what God hath a mind to do, (Deut. 29:24-25), after an account of God’s covenant with them, (2 Kings 17:13-15, 18).
9. Ignorance of God and profanity of life, which go together, is a desolating and destructive sin: “Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel; the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land; by swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out; and blood touches blood,” (Hosea 4:1-3, 6). See what a catalogue of profane courses accompanies ignorance of God: and what follows, “Therefore shall the land mourn; and my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Here we see that profane people, though they should be never such great wits, and have never so much head-knowledge, yet they are ignorant of God, and their ignorance destroys them.
10. Another desolating, church-ruining, and destroying sin is the rejecting of Christ from being their Lord and King. Christ will be a sole King, and will have none upon his throne but himself; and when a church rejects him as a King then he rejects them as a church. This was fearfully exemplified in the Jews, where they said, “We will not have this man to reign over us; and we have no king but Caesar:” thus, out of their own mouth, they verified Jacob’s old prophecy, “That the sceptre was departed from Judah, and the law-giver from between his feet; and therefore Shiloh was now come, the true Messiah was come;” and him they rejected from being king, and therefore he rejected them from being his church. What for a body is that which wants the head? and what for a church in that, of which the apostle speaks, “Not holding the head?” (Col. 2:19). Christ is the head of the body, the church; but will Christ hold that church as his body, that does not hold him, nor hold only as a church of him as their head and king.
Here it will be expected, I should speak of some late practices by the generality of ministers in Scotland, that were, whatever the profession to the contrary be, a practical disclaiming of the sole headship and supremacy of our Lord Jesus Christ over his church. I shall only say, That the general course of falling in with this Erastian act [Our author here undoubtedly alludes to the affair of one John Porteous, captain of the town-guard of Edinburgh, who had been legally condemned to die, for several murders committed by him on the populace, at a public execution, where he had the command, but who afterwards, by the influence some great men, obtained a reprieve; which so incensed the people, that they rose up notwithstanding, and executed him at Edinburgh, September 7th, 1736. The king and parliament resented this affront very highly; and accordingly framed a most strange and extraordinary act to discover the actors and ordered all the ministers of Scotland to read the said act, in the time of divine service in their churches, every first Sabbath of the month, for a whole year, under certain penalties. Though this was a gross and public profanation of the Lord’s day, a prostituting the pulpit, and a practically giving up with the alone headship and sovereignty of Christ over his church! yet the most part of the ministers read this act, to the no small grief of many of the godly], is such an affront done to our glorious King Jesus, that though judicatories should conspire to bury it in the grave of oblivion, and cover it with the fair mask of mutual forbearance and brotherly love; yet, I doubt not, but as it will be remarked to posterity, as a crowning piece to Scotland’s defection at this day, so the Lord will resent it among other injuries done to him, when he comes to plead his controversy.
The judicatories have been of late refusing to adopt a testimony offered to them, and now published for God and his truth; and therefore, little wonder, that God hath left them to fall in with these open indignities done to the crown-royal of King Jesus. And this hath contributed to confirm some in the course they were led to of testifying, in a way of secession from them, who had, so long time, and by so many acts, been suppressing the truths of God, and oppressing the people of God, obtruding hirelings upon reclaiming congregations, and so scattering the flock of Christ, as sheep without a shepherd; and assuming a power and authority, contrary to the warrant of the word. If these and the like are the circumstances of the judicatories, none need think strange that some have taken the method of testifying against the defections of the day that now they are upon: nor ought any to reckon on it a schismatical course. Though none can justify themselves from being guilty of dishonor done to their glorious Lord, yet let them bear most the charge of schism and division, that divide most from the head Jesus Christ, and from the truth as it is in him. Let none think these are the dividers, who are but the smallest number, taking a different course from the rest. When the whole church turned Arian, departed from Christ the head except Athanasius, I have no difficulty in saying they were all Schismatics but himself. Let the true nature of schism be considered, and we may then either defy reproach; or, as long as the Lord is with us, we may easily bear it. We are not good soldiers of Christ, nor followers of him, if we cannot endure a hiss for Christ, who endured the cross, and despised the shame for us; and now is set down at the right hand of the throne of God, as the glorious King of Zion.
These are some of the sins that destroy nations and churches; I might mention many more: but if we reflect upon these, and the deep share we have in them all; may we not receive the conviction offered here, “O Israel!” O Scotland! “thou hast destroyed thyself?” Magistrates, ministers, and people, have destroyed themselves: such a charge you read of in many places of scripture, such as Micah 3:1-2; 5-6 and Ezekiel 22:25-31.
But since, I suppose, the most here present are from the adjacent city, we have occasion also to say more particularly, O Edinburgh! “thou hast destroyed thyself;” are not all the desolating and destroying sins, that I have mentioned already, to be found in thee, by which thou hast been and art destroying thyself? And to these may be added some other sins, which I judge they are chargeable with, and ought to be humbled for this day.
Is not pride, idleness, and fullness of bread, that was the iniquity of her sister Sodom, also to be found with her? (Ezek. 16:49). Cities are destroyed by luxury and wantonness, when God is calling for mourning, (Isa. 22:12-14). Enquire before the Lord, if this be not the sin of the city? Cities are destroyed by their oppression of the poor, their racking of rents, their injustice, and fraudulent dealings between man and man; “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see if ye can find a man, if there be any, that executes judgment, that seeks the truth,” (Jer. 5:1). Intimating how hard it was to find a truly honest and righteous man, and how exposed the city therefore was unto wrath. Cities are destroyed by neglect of family worship, in reading the word of God, singing the praises of God, and calling on the name of God. If this neglect be the sin of the city, it will be the ruin of it; “Pour out thy fury upon the heathen, and the families that call not on thy name,” (Jer. 10:25). Cities are destroyed by the sin of slighting the warnings of the word, despising faithful messengers they have had among them, that gave them fair and faithful warning. Edinburg hath been privileged with some such from time to time; but the more plain and faithful some of them have been, perhaps, they were the more despised and disparaged. Jonah preached but one sermon to Nineveh, and they repented; but many a faithful sermon hath Edinburgh heard, and never repented; and, perhaps, they who have dealt with them most faithfully, have been treated most contemptuously, even as Paul was called a pestilent fellow. The town of Northampton, in New England, hath not had a long tack of the gospel; yet, as we hear, the gospel there hath done wonders, through the outpouring of the spirit of God with it. But, what shall we say? We have had the Bible in our own language, and the doctrines of the gospel dispensed for near two hundred years; but with how little effect? How gross our ignorance! how depraved our manners! how little of Christianity in a Christian nation. And what if God be now saying, “My spirit shall no more strive with man;” it shall no more strive with Edinburgh; it shall no more strive with Scotland? “The kingdom of heaven shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruit thereof.”
Again, cities have been destroyed by murder and bloodshed; for, “Blood hath a strong cry to heaven for vengeance,” (Gen. 4:10). No doubt, the city hath reason to mourn on this account, for much bloodshed committed therein, and never mourned over; I mean, not only the blood of infants, murdered in secret; nor do I mean only the blood of innocents, not long ago suddenly slaughtered at the execution of Wilson, [The person’s name who was executed between Leith and Edinburgh, where Captain Porteous ordered the soldiers to fire upon the populace, and killed several of them.] for which the Lord may plead a controversy with the city, if it had not been duly purged by public justice; far less need I here proclaim, what hath been too much proclaimed already to the prostituting of the pulpit, and the profaning of many a Sabbath day; but I mean especially, the yet un-purged blood of martyrs shed at the cross, and in the Grass-market, in the late times of tyranny. This blood hath never yet been duly mourned over by public humiliation on that account; and therefore it cries against the city for vengeance, and against the land. And, what if God hath ordered, that the pulpits of Scotland should ring so many days with the noise of the blood of a murderer, as a righteous judgment upon them, for neglecting to mention and mourn over the guilt of the blood of the martyrs that was shed about the same place. But,
Again, cities have destroyed themselves with monstrous whoredom and adultery, of which the Lord says, “Shall I not visit for these things? and shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” (Jer. 5:8-9). If people, at this day, are declaring their sin as Sodom; if stews are tolerated, and works of darkness covered; and if church-censures and discipline be bought away with money, [It was alleged that these heinous evils and corrupt practices were prevailing too much in the metropolis] how provoking to God must it be, and how like the popish practice in their book of rates? So much for whoredom, so much for adultery, so much for murder; and declaring, that no such acts of favor can be granted to the poor; enough to invite men to sin, that know the price beforehand, at which they may be absolved, or free of all church censure; if anything like this hath, at any time, taken place among us, “Shall not the Lord visit for these things?”
Again, cities have destroyed themselves by Sabbath-breaking; as you may see, “When shall the Sabbath be gone, say they, that we may sell corn, and set out wheat, &c. Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that dwells therein?” (Amos 8:5; 7-8). These that take their own pleasures on the Lord’s day, kindle his displeasure against themselves, who ordered the man that gathered sticks to be stoned to death.
In a word, cities have destroyed themselves by their abuse of plenty, as here in the context; “They were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore they have forgotten me: therefore I will be to them as a lion,” (Hosea 13:6-7). &c., like Jeshurum, that waxed fat and kicked. When the body was stuffed up with plenty, the soul was puffed up with pride, forgetting God, and abusing his goodness to lasciviousness and wantonness, consuming their time and substance with vain shows, idle assemblies, plays, balls, and I know not what a multitude of mad amusements to gratify the flesh; till their plenty be turned into poverty, their wantonness into woe and misery, and their time swallowed up in eternity. “O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself.”
Again, let everyone take home the charge; O sinner! thou hast destroyed thyself;” as by these sins I have mentioned, so particularly by thy willful rejecting of Christ, and unwillingness to come to him, which may be proven against you, partly by your unwillingness to submit to the outward means, and partly by your unwillingness to be wrought upon by them, as I have showed already: so strong is your natural enmity, that if left to yourself, you are undone.
Again, let the godly, themselves, take home the charge, and be humbled before God; because, as you are as great self-murderers by nature as the rest of the world, so even, since grace took a dealing with you, such are the remains of that self-disposition, in innumerable instances, that it may be said, even to you that are the true Israel of God, “O Israel! thou but destroyed thyself.” And though God had no other controversy against Scotland, than even the iniquities of sons and daughters, it is enough; their unwatchfulness, their untenderness, their neglect of a gospel conversation, neglect of relative duties; their detestable neutrality in the matters of God; their grievous insensibility of the dishonors done to Christ; their little love to, and sympathy with one another; their bitterness and prejudice against one another; their self-seeking and self-pleasing and preparing their own houses, building to themselves tailed houses, while the house of the Lord lies waste; their carnal ease, when they should be fighting the Lord’s battles, and following him without the camp. When David would persuade Uriah, to go to his house, and enjoy the lawful pleasures of his bed, he refused it, saying, “The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents, and my lord Joab, and the servants of my Lord, encamp in the open fields, and shall I go home, and eat and drink, and lie in my bed of ease and pleasure? As the Lord liveth, I will do no such thing,” (2 Sam. 11:11). This looked like a man truly concerned for the ark and Israel of God. Many of us do not so much as forebear our unlawful pleasures of pride and wantonness. Though the ark of the Lord abide in tents, and though the church be going to the wilderness, or encamp in the open fields, yet many remain loitering in their beds of ease, and pleasure, and sloth; but God loves not jollity when he calls for mourning; nor sloth when he calls for watching, and appearing for him.
Again, the godly sometimes have destroyed themselves by their divisions among themselves. May I not say with the apostle, “I hear that there are divisions among you, and I partly believe it;” (1 Cor. 11:18) and we know some evident effects of it. But, O my dear friends, what a reproach is it to your Christian profession, to hear of praying societies divided against praying societies? It was observed by enemies themselves to the commendation of the primitive Christians, “Behold! how they love one another.” Alas! how reproachful is it, if the contrary be said of you, Behold, how they hate one another; how they bite and devour one another. What a miserable thing is it, if in matters that either might be accommodated or borne with, Christians should destroy themselves, and destroy one another? How is our God thus dishonored, the gospel discredited, religion wounded, and the hands of witnesses for reformation weakened!
In a word, the children of God themselves have, at this day, destroyed themselves, by leaving their first love, by their carnality in their work and walk, and their evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God: by these things they destroy themselves, destroy their peace, destroy their comfort, destroy their assurance, destroy their freedom in coming to God, destroy their name and credit. They destroy their beauty and liveliness, and provoke God to write bitter things against them. Yea, the children of grace may, by their uncircumspected walk, provoke their heavenly Father to break them with breach upon breach, and to bring heavy strokes, both temporal and spiritual, upon them, (Deut. 28:58-59). Let none of God’s people therefore say, such and such instruments have destroyed us, ministers and judicatories have destroyed our church-privileges and liberties, and robbed us of our spiritual rights. Whatever truth be in this, that way of speaking looks not like due humiliation before God, for these are but the fruits of God’s anger against us for our sin: “Behold thou art wroth, for we have sinned,” (Isa. 64:5). It is an angry God that leaves a generation of sinners that are self-destroyers, to be also destroyers of one another; and therefore let us blame ourselves, because we have sinned, and brought on all this destruction upon ourselves. It would look like kindly humiliation, if everyone were saying, I am the Achan that hath troubled the camp of Israel; I am the Jonah that hath raised this storm of wrath; I am the sinner that hath provoked God to leave ministers and judicatories to themselves; and to leave his house desolate; it is I that have provoked him to send the loose, lax, and corrupt ministry here and there through the land: it is I that have provoked him to leave some good ministers to make sad defection; for it is possible Israel’s sins may provoke God to leave a minister, as good as Aaron the saint of God, to set up a golden calf in Horeb. Let every one of us not only bear the charge, “O Israel! thou host destroyed thyself;” but let us take with the charge, saying, I am the person that hath destroyed myself, and destroyed the generation, and my sin may justly provoke him to send more heavy destruction yet, and terrible desolation; for, if every sin deserves God’s heavy wrath, what may my aggravated sins provoke him to? We never lie open to mercy, or to gospel-grace, so much as when we take with the law-charge, and answer to the voice of God, “O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself;” Truth, Lord, I have destroyed myself. And if brought to this, then hear and consider
The second branch of the text, “In me is thy help:” importing, that our relief and deliverance is only owing to God, and his sovereign mercy; “To the Lord our God belongs mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him,” (Dan. 9:9). And since all have destroyed themselves, none can be saved but in a way of free mercy, as God says to Moses, “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and shew mercy to whom I will shew mercy,” (Ex. 33:19). He might justly suffer all to go on in ruining themselves eternally; but as he proclaims mercy in the gospel, so to whomsoever he extends mercy, he must do it by an act of sovereign grace, delivering them out of their own murdering and destroying hands.
Now, Sirs, here is another root of true repentance and humiliation; the former is a true sense of sin, as a destroyer; the next is an apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, as a Saviour, and the only help? “In me is thy help.” The root of true religion lies in a right view of ourselves, and our own sinfulness; and, next, in a right view of God and his grace: for clearing this matter, I offer a few remarks.
First, I remark, from the scope of God’s work here, “That he takes occasion from our sins, to set out his grace.” Man is unmerciful to himself; but God is merciful to him. So cruel is Man, that he destroys himself; so kind is God, that he offers his help, and hath laid help upon One that is mighty, upon his eternal Son, whom he hath given to be the Helper and Saviour, to show his mercy. And by this instance, we may see that God will do a thousand times more to show his mercy towards sinners, than to show his wrath against them. He hath set forth Christ to be the propitiation to make his showing mercy consistent with the honor of justice, (Rom. 3:25-26). It is true, some may think, how comes it then, that there are more damned than saved: for Christ says, “Strait is the gate of life, and few there are that find it:” but here, concerning the paucity of the saved, it is to be considered, that, as it is not improbable there shall be more glory among the few that shall be saved, than wrath among the many that shall be damned; so there is more mercy showed, in saving a few, when he might have condemned all, than there is justice showed, in condemning many when he might have damned all.
Again, mercy is absolute, having respect to nothing in us; but justice hath a respect to the demerit of sin, the wages whereof is death. God, in showing mercy, is himself at the whole cost: but we make way for his justice, by provoking him. Damnation is an act of justice that our sin obliges him to do; but salvation is an act of mercy, which he is under no obligation, to pass: yet, notwithstanding all our sinfulness, he proclaims his willingness and readiness to save and help. Hence, I think, it is remarkable, that, after the greatest sins that ever were committed, there have been instantly the greatest displays of mercy: thus the first sin, by which all mankind were ruined, was soon followed with the promise, wherein mercy was proclaimed. Here was the greatest sin, the root of all sin among men; and yet the greatest display of mercy.
Again, that sin of the Jews, in crucifying the Lord of glory, will be owned to be the greatest sin; and yet it is followed with the greatest display and proclamation of mercy: therefore Christ enjoins his disciples to go and preach repentance and remission of sins in his name, to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem, (Luke 24:27). Why, begin at Jerusalem, who had just now imbrued their hands in his blood! Why, they have most need of mercy; and the offer of it to them will manifest the sovereignty of it O who would not then put in for a share of mercy in the blood of Christ? Why should we refuse our own mercy? Here is water, what hinders but we are baptized? Here is blood, what hinders but we are washed? Nothing hinders but our own willful refusing, and continuing to destroy ourselves. Men will not welcome this offer of grace; they continue obstinate till God create a will, and make them willing in the day of his power: and hence all that are helped, and saved out of their own murdering hands, must be saved by an act of sovereign mercy; “In me is thy help.” Again,
The second remark I offer is, “That the nature of God requires, that in helping and saving of sinners, his mercy be free and sovereign:” because he is a sovereign God, infinitely happy in himself without us; and it is at his option to manifest mercy or not, to save or no; as much as it was his option to make men or not. He does what he will among the armies of heaven. Hence he exercises sovereignty in the cause why he shows mercy, even because he will show mercy; sovereignty in the person whom he saves; in the time when he saves them, in the instruments by whom, and the means by which he saves them. I might show, at large, how he does all this according to his own will and pleasure; “Of his own will begat he us, by the word of truth,” (Jam. 1:18).
Thirdly, I remark, “That the nature of man requires this, that if he be saved, it be by the free, sovereign grace and mercy of God.” What is man? He is a despicable creature—a worm; “Fear not, worm Jacob.” If Israel, that were such a vast multitude, like the stars of heaven, the numerous offspring of Jacob, be but a worm in God’s sight; then what is one man? Yea, before God all the nations of the earth are as nothing, yea, less than nothing and vanity, (Isa. 45:15). What a little piece of that nothing are we, that God should pity us? Man is a deformed creature, overrun with the loathsome leprosy of sin; if there be any hope for such, it must be of the free grace of God. Yea, man is a rebellious creature, as I have formerly showed; he is neither able nor willing to help himself, but active and willful in destroying himself. He despises and opposes all the loving arguments and invitations to be reconciled with God, (2 Cor. 5:20). And because we cannot win at God himself, we crucify the Son of God, as the Jews did, when he came upon the errand of salvation. Here is the temper of the sons of Adam, till grace subdue their enmity. Is there anything here to move God to save? O! if free grace did not move itself, we would persist forever in our enmity. The salvation that he brings to us is neither deserved nor desired by us. Deserved it cannot be, where there is such a desert of hell and wrath; desired it is not, unless God create that desire of salvation, through Christ, in these who by nature willfully reject him. Hence,
Fourthly, I remark, “That the nature of the help that he gives and offers, is such, as declares it to be only in himself that our help lies.” I shall instance in the powerful help we need, both as to justifying and sanctifying mercy. There are two great attributes of sin, guilt, and power.
1. Who can help the guilt of sin, but a God of infinite power? It requires greater power to pardon sin, than to work a miracle upon the body: “Whether is it easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee, or to say, Arise and walk? But that ye may know, that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins,” &c., (Matt. 9:5). The Pharisees made the objection, Who can forgive sins but God?” Christ takes their own argument, and uses it against themselves, showing that he was God, because he could forgive sin. Why, can God only help from the guilt of sin? Why, the guilt of sin hath the whole strength of God’s law to back it, and take part with it; and God’s law hath the whole strength of infinite justice to maintain it; therefore there must be an infinite power to take away the guilt of sin, even that same power that can satisfy infinite justice.
2. Who can help away with the power of sin? Sin is not only an enemy but enmity; and to kill enmity and resistance against God, is more than to create a world out of nothing, where there is nothing to resist. To take away sin, and bring in grace, that are such direct opposites, requires infinite power to effect it. There is in the understanding an incapacity to understand the things of God; for, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; they are foolishness to him.” Hence the weapons of the gospel warfare are powerful, through God, to pull down strongholds, and cast down vain imaginations, that exalt themselves against the knowledge of Christ, and raise millions of objections against him; and when God helps the soul, he has all these mountains to level. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” Hence also the same power that raised Christ from the dead is requisite for raising a sinner out of the grave of sin. Let men talk of the power of nature as they will; let me see any of them that can raise themselves, (Eph. 1:19-20). The change that God works when he takes away the power of sin, is from darkness to light, from death to life; and, as it were, from being beasts to be men; “The beasts of the field shall honour me, the dragons, and the owls,” (Isa. 43:20). These beasts are men, who elsewhere are compared to the wild ass’s colt: “This people have I formed for myself: they shall shew forth my praise,” (v. 21). To make a sinner a saint, is as much as to make a beast a saint, or to turn a stone to a child of Abraham. Therefore in God only is our help.
And now to apply this branch of the text. Hence,
1. We may see where the help of a ruined church lies. Scotland hath destroyed herself, but where lies her help? “Vain is the help of man;” vain is the help of princes and parliaments; vain is the help of church-judicatories. The poor scattered flocks of Scotland, oppressed with the violent obtrusion of hirelings upon them, have been crying to judicatories for help, but in vain; their tender mercies have been cruelties. Yea, vain is the help of all creatures, even of these to whom some are now looking for help; I mean, a handful of ministers associated together for the relief of the poor oppressed people of God, and for testifying against the corruptions and defections of the day; vain, I say, is their help, unless the Lord put to his hand; “for, if the Lord do not build the city, the builders build in vain.” It is the man whose name is the branch that must build the temple of the Lord, and bear the glory; your help lies in the name of the Lord that made heaven and earth. And hence see,
2. That it is the Lord only that can raise up helpers and Saviors in Mount Zion; and therefore to him alone ought we to look, that he would put a blessing on any means and endeavors towards Reformation. Our help being only in the Lord does not exclude the use of means, but obliges us thereunto, with an eye to his helping hand. And surely, the Lord is culling us to some other thing, than the present judicatories are doing. Is it not duty at this day to go out, and do some things that the judicatories in Scotland will not do? Is it not duty before God, at this day, to assert and vindicate openly, the truths of God that judicatories have been burying; and to attempt, in his strength, to lift up that crown of our royal King Jens, which is profaned on the ground? Is it not duty from the word of God to confess that we and our fathers have sinned, and to discover and lay open these sins and defections for which the wrath of God is coming on such a generation as we are; and which yet the judicatories will not do, but rather cover and hide, declaring, that they will not return to God this way, by confessing all their particular defections? And because judicatories will not do it, shall it be done by none? When God says, “I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their iniquity, and seek my face;” ought we not to go away when God goes away, and leave them whom God leaves? At least till God’s term-day, “Till they acknowledge their sin, and seek his face;” and, at least, so far as to take a contrary course, namely, of fasting, humiliation, and solemn acknowledgment of sin. When judicatories are saying they will not appoint any fasts; they see no occasion for it: is it not duty from the word of God to feed Christ’s lambs, which the judicatories are starving; or to gather his flock, whom they are scattering and oppressing, by their violent measures, in obtruding hirelings upon them, and opening the door to grievous wolves to enter in? And is it not duty, not only to pray the lord of the harvest to send forth faithful laborers to it, but also to join hand with these that are willing to be active in this matter; and to give help in this work, wherein the glory of God, and the good of souls is much concerned? Is it not your duty to testify for Christ, as solemnly and judicially as providence gives occasion, when judicatories are unwilling to bear witness for Christ; yea, and have thrown faithful testimonies, offered to them over the bar; besides their refusing instructions, petitions, and a multitude of remonstrances these many years bygone? Is it not duty from the word of God, for these that bear a good-will to the cause of Christ, be they never so few in number, to do their duty, and to obey the command of their highest Lord, when the greater part are combining to disobey him? Is it not evident, as with a sunbeam, that it is warrantable from the word, from the lesser part of the church, were it but two or three to whom the promise is made (yea, were it but two or three in the whole catholic church) to do the work of God which the rest will not do, be the consequence what it will; and let men call their practice separation, or what they please?
3. Here is a door of hope cast open for poor, perishing, self‑destroying sinners, even for the greatest of sinners, for publicans, and persecuting Sauls, for Manassehs, and Mary Magdalenes. God can make use of knotty timber for building his temple: he can take brands out of the fire, that have the smoke of hell about them: “O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help.” Here is no room left either for despair or presumption.
(1.) Beware of presumption. Some presumptuously may say, If our help lies only in God, then we need do nothing in the use of means; as if one should say, the wind only can make the ship to sail, therefore we need not lie at the shore and wait for it. Say not, If my works cannot save me, I may go on in my sin; for though good works cannot save you, yet your ill works can damn you: though you cannot save yourself, yet you can destroy yourself more and more: therefore beware of presumption. And likewise,
(2.) Beware of despair, when such a door of hope is cast open. Though you be nothing but dead and dry bones, yet God can make these dry bones live. Yea, not only, notwithstanding your sin, can God save and help you, but because of the greatness of your sin, he can show the greatness of his grace. Hence said the Psalmist, “Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.” God waits to be gracious, (Isa. 30:18). He can take occasion from your sinfulness, to magnify his mercy, saying, “I have seen his ways, and will heal him.” He can make your sin, though it be a good reason why he should damn you, yet he can make it a reason why he will save you, and pity you, (Hosea 2:13-14). Therefore,
O sinner I that hast destroyed thyself, come and accept of the offer of mercy, the offer of God’s help; for in him only lies your help. Accept of the offer of Christ the mighty helper, on whom God hath laid all your help; all discouragements are out of the way; all hinderances on God’s part are actually removed; the law is fulfilled, justice satisfied, everlasting righteousness is brought in: all bars and impediments on your part are virtually removed, in the purchase made by the blood of Christ. It will aggravate your misery forever, if you refuse mercy; yea, this is a treating God worse than the worst of men will treat the vilest of men: they will do good to those that do good to them: but will you spit in the face of mercy, and do ill to God, because he does good to you?
God commands you to come to his Christ, and accept of his mercy, and take his help; “This is his commandment that ye believe in his Son,” and his command is powerful to effect it; faith comes by hearing his word, his command. Thus it shall be to some whom he hath a mind to help. Nor does he deceive others, by commanding and calling of them, because thus he touches their conscience, and discovers their enmity, while by the word they are convinced, and yet not conquered; which shows the more, that their ruin is of themselves.
O sinner! “thou hast destroyed thyself!” yea, thy unbelief is the sin that would destroy God, if it could. It destroys his truth, and makes him a liar; it destroys his mercy, and says he is cruel, notwithstanding all his offers of grace. By unbelief refusing God’s help, you, in an eminent manner, darken and oppose the glory of God; his glorious perfections, that shine only most bright in the face of Jesus, on whom your help is laid; and oppose his highest design for glorifying these perfections, (Eph. 1:11-14). Your unbelief is direct murder, by which, more than all your other sins, you destroy yourself. Why, it is a sin that rejects the only remedy. There is no balm in Gilead, no physician there, but Christ, (Acts 4:12), and him you undervalue. It is a sin that binds all your other sins upon you. Though all sin be damning and killing, yet no sin shall damn you, if you add not thereto the sin of neglecting and refusing God’s help and mercy, that he offers in Christ. Why are not these condemned that believe in Christ? Is it, because they have no sin to condemn them? No; but because believing in Jesus, all their sins are done away; but “He that believeth not is condemned already.” Why? Is it because he is a sinner in general? Or because his sins are many and great? No; but because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God. Hence see, that the immediate cause of damnation is not this or that sin, but the refusing of Christ by unbelief. The man refuses a whole eternity of glorious and unspeakable happiness, and chooses rather sin and death. Unbelief leaves you without all excuse, or the least shadow and color of excuse, (John 15:22). You must be speechless in the great day. You cannot say pardon and salvation was not offered to you; you cannot say the offer was not full and free; you cannot say you had to do with a hard master. And as it will leave you without excuse, so without appeal. Here we may say, as in 1 Samuel 2:25, “If a man sin against another, the judge shall judge him; but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?” If a man sin against the law, he may appeal to the gospel, and the grace of God in Christ; but if he reject Christ, and the grace of the gospel, where then shall he appeal? Truly there is no relief to be found for him. A sinner may appeal from justice to the mercy-seat; but if he slight the offer of mercy, he hath nothing to appeal to that may administer relief to him. Nay, thus he, in effect, pulls down the mercy-seat.
Let me exhort you, then, to come to Jesus for help and salvation. O self-destroying sinner, that you may not be eternally destroyed. Is it like a reasonable soul, to live in that miserable case, to stand tottering upon the brink of Tophet, and dancing merrily away to everlasting destruction? To be living at the mercy of death, or of every disease tending thereto, which, if it will but fall upon thee, will send thee into the burning pit? Suppose you saw a condemned wretch, hanging over Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace, by nothing but a twined thread, ready to break every moment, would not your heart tremble for such an one? Why, but thou art the man, infinitely more miserable, man or woman: this is thy very case, thou wast never yet drawn to Christ, by all the preaching ever you heard. What if the thread of thy life should break? You know not but it may, the next night, the next day, the next moment; and where wouldst thou then be? Whither wouldst thou then drop? Behold, upon the crack of this thread of life, thou fallest into the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, where thou shalt live, and die, and roar forever, even as long as God hath a being, if thou diest in thy present case; and yet does not thy soul tremble nor begin to smite upon thy breast, and bethink thyself, what need thou hast of this Jesus that is offered to thee, and who requires thee to come to him? Oh! what is thy heart made of, that thou hast not only lost all regard to God, but all love and pity to thyself? Alas if you knew your misery, you would cry out for Christ more than ever a wounded man did for a chirurgeon, or a drowning man for a boat. If there be any point of wisdom or reason in the world, it is that you return to God, and come into Jesus, for life and salvation from sin and wrath. If there can be anything that can be called madness and folly in the world, anything brutish, absurd, and unreasonable, it is that you live in your sin, and remain in a Christless state.
But if harsh arguments will not do, and indeed nothing but a day of power will do the business; tell me is there no power and virtue in a day of grace and mercy, or an offer of grace? I tell you, therefore, you are welcome to come to Jesus, whatever you have done, or whatever you have been hitherto “Whosoever will, let him come; and him that cometh, I will in no wise cast out.” The day of wrath is not yet come; the day of grace is yet continued, notwithstanding all the offers of grace you have slighted heretofore. Sometimes God makes them very gracious who have been very graceless, such as Paul, Manasseh, and Mary Magdalene; whatever, therefore, be your sinfulness and filthiness, there is a fountain opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness. Though you had crucified the Son of God, here is his blood that cleanses from all sin. Though your heart be made of flint and stone, yet God can of stones raise up children to Abraham.
O young sinner come to Jesus. He welcomes young seekers of him, saying, “They that seek me early shall find me.” Old sinner, that hast long been dead in sin, and rotting in the grave of corruption, and buried among the stuff of this world, Oh! wilt thou arise and come out of thy grave? The Master calls upon you. Come, come, and seek to him, that he may glorify his name in your salvation. What think you is his reason in calling such wretched sinners as you are? It is just upon a design of glorifying himself in your salvation. It is, 1. To magnify the grace of God, that where sin hath abounded, grace may much more abound. 2. It is to magnify the blood of Christ, that can wash away such scarlet-colored sins as yours are. 3. It is to magnify the power of the Spirit, that can convert and draw to himself such a stubborn sinner as thou art. O then wilt thou fall in with this design of God, praying, that God may glorify himself; that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, may be magnified in your salvation. Alas! wretched sinner! wilt thou neither let God have the honor he craves, nor your soul the happiness it wants?
Let none object, saying, O this help is far off, when God says, It is in me; “In me is thy help.” God speaks here in the present time; and God is a present help. Christ the helper is not at a distance. He is Immanuel, God with us; and you need not say, “Who will ascend to bring him down? and descend to bring him up?” He is near, in this word, and you are called to take him at his word, and to take his help offered in this word: “In me is thy help.”
Neither let any object, saying, “O this help is not for me; maybe it is not designed for me: perhaps he hath not a mind to give help to me. Why, man, woman, how shall you know God’s mind but by his word.? And will you contradict the truth of God flatly, saying, It is not for me, when he is saying, “In me is thy help;” thy help, man, thy help, woman, thy help, O self-destroying sinner? Do not, through unbelief, make God a liar, saying, In him is not my help, when he is saying so expressly, “In me is thy help.” How will this aggravate thy condemnation, if thou neglected this great salvation, when to thee is the word of this salvation sent. To thee is this help sent: O poor soul, put it not away from thee.
Let none say, How is it possible that I can be saved? when you see it is God that undertakes this work, saying, “In me is thy help. Look to me and be ye saved: for I am God, and there is none else.” Is there anything too hard for me to do? And let none say, Alas! I am without strength, I can do nothing but ruin myself. It is true; and therefore God says not in thee is thy help, but in me. Never look for a ground of faith or hope in thyself; for thou shalt never find it anywhere, but in me: in my name, in my blood, in my promise, in my power in my free mercy and sovereign grace, reigning through justice-satisfying righteousness to eternal life; “In me is thy help.” Come and take what belongs to thee through my sovereign grant in this word of grace; and take it by believing upon my divine testimony, and believing with particular application to thyself, that “In me is thy help:” he that thus believeth shall be saved.
May the Lord himself persuade you to come to him for help, who says, “O Israel! thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.”