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go where the truth is proclaimed, that he may daily feel its influence, “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ." Amen.
THE ENEMIES OF THE CHURCH MADE TO PRO
MOTE HER INTERESTS.
Isaiah x. 5-12. O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and tỏ tread them down like the mire of the streets. Howbeit he meaneth not so, neither doth his heart think so; but it is in his heart to de. stroy and cut off nations not a few. For he saith, are not my princes altogether kings? Is not Calno ás Carchemish ? is not Hamath as Arpad ? is not Samaria as Damascus ? As my hand hath found the kingdoms of the idols, and whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria; shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols? Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed his whole work upon Mount Zion, and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks.
We sometimes discover, in a scrap of sacred story, a rich and lucid comment upon the essential doctrines of revelation. The simple statement of facts, dissipates the darkness that obscured the ways of God, and removes the cloud behind which roll the wheels of provi. dence. Let us only read of what God, by his immediate agency, or by the agency of others, has done, and we shall find very little mystery in all he has said. The doctrines are nothing more than the general principles of the divine administration. The moment men put themselves in the attitude of quarrel with what God has said, they invariably tax themselves with the necessity of denying what he has done. The father who returns to his house, and finds his beloved child a corpse, and still denies the sovereignty of God, proves
himself a pitiable reasoner. A doctrine so pointedly illustrated, can no longer be matter of doubt, unless he choose to believe a lie.
The history of the Assyrian invasion, foreseen and described by the prophet in the text and context, is one of those expository Scriptures, which illustrate and confirm, what are erroneously termed the hard doctrines of revelation. God is here seen in the attitude of administering correction to his people, and using wicked men as the staff, destined like any other rod to be committed to the fire, when the children are reduced to obedience. If instead of intending to bless the people of God, they mean not so, mean no service to their Maker, but their own elevation, intend to injure whom they hate, all this does not disqualify them to be the sword of the Lord. There is something fearfully interesting in the divine sovereignty, thus illustrated by the very finger of God himself. We must either believe what God has spoken on this subject, or deny what he has done, and what he is doing daily before our very eyes.
I must detain you a few moments, on the historical facts in the case, and then notice more largely the doctrines they inculcate.
I. We attend to the historical facts. God had a church in the family of Abraham, but they were so wicked, that he styles them in the text a hypocritical nation. He would correct them for their sins, and would employ for this purpose Sennacherib the king of Assyria, the very staff they had leaned on. But that prince would intend no such good to the covenant people of God; his object would be devastation and plunder. It was in his heart to destroy and cut off nations not a few. He boasted, and heaven knew his impudence,
that his power was great, his victories numerous and splendid, his princes, monarchs, and the gods all too weak to resist him. And the worst is yet to be spoken, he threatened that he would do to Jerusalem's God as he had done to the deities around him. How contemptible must he have appeared to him who sitteth in the heavens. Thus the axe boasted itself against him that hewed with it, the saw against him that shook it, and the rod threatened him who lifted it up.
God now resolved that when he had chastised Israel for their idolatry, and their waywardness, he would curse the Assyrian for his pride. He might live till he had performed all the divine will upon Mount Zion, and upon Jerusalem, then God would punish the fruit of his stout heart, and bring down the glory of his high looks.
God would make him know that he was a mere worm, that an Almighty arm, and not his own, had gotten him his victories, and that all his wrath toward the people of God, must meet a final and a fearful judgment.
When God speaks in the text of sending that proud and impious man, to chastise his people, we are not to understand that God would command him to go, or justify the motives by which he would be actuated. God does not punish as a crime, the very deed which his injunction renders duty. It is believed that nothing more is meant, than that God would so order events, that the Assyrian should hope to gratify his avarice and his pride in humbling Jerusalem. The history tells for itself, that the king had one purpose, and the King of kings another, and that God kept his own purpose a secret from the miscreant whom he used as his rod.
Why was he not sent of God, precisely in the same
sense as God hardened the heart of Pharaoh ? by the concurrence of events, that should have produced a contrary resolve. The Egyptian's heart was hardened by means that should have softened it: by alternate judgments and mercies, that should have rendered him one of the holiest men that has lived. So the Assyrian was sent, by an agency that should have rendered him Jerusalem's warmest friend. God had given him victory over the idols whose shrines he had assaulted, and made him rich with the spoil. He should then have honoured the God of battles, and should have come to Jerusalem to worship his Benefactor. He should have been content, when he had been suffered to spoil the temples of idolatry.
But these very successes made him covet the treasures of Jerusalem, and thus had the very opposite effect which they should, and would have had, upon a benevolent and holy mind. There is a parallel case in Jeremiah. The church had forfeited the favour of God, and must go into captivity. Babylon must lead them captive, and when Israel should be humbled, must be punished for making war with the people of God. Read the twenty-fifth chapter of Jeremiah, and you will have the facts in a shape more interesting, than that in which any comment can place them.
Thus God employs wicked men in the service of his people, while they mean far otherwise, and are in fact the agents of another prince. Still God holds them accountable, restrains their wrath when it will not praise him, and finally does his whole pleasure, precisely as though the agents he employed were his trusty and devoted servants. How calculated are such facts to beget respect for the character and ways of God! How