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of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood, but this shall be with burning and full of fire. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder : and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”
As it is granted by all that this prophecy alludes to Ohrist and to the peace which he has made by the blood of his cross, it may be proper to ask whether it be not reasonable to conclude that this burning is the same as mentioned in our text, and this fuel of fire the same as stubble in our text? If what is so reasonable be allowed, it seems perfectly safe to allow, that the true meaning of the passage under discussion, is the purifying of the wicked by the spirit of judgement and the spirit of burning.”
The fire which distinguishes the day and work of the great sanctifier of sinners is described by John, the fore runner of Jesus, in Mat. 3," I indeed baptise you with water unto repentance ; but he that cometh after ine is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear; he shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire ; whose fan is in his hands, and he will thoroughly purge his floor and gather his wheat into his garner, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Thus the true spiritual baptism of Jesus is with the Holy Ghost and with fire; and with the fire, with which he baptises, he burns up the chaff.
In Ist Corinthians, 3d St. Paul has a passage which is remarkably similar to the one we are investigating ; it reads thus; “ Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble ; every man's work shall be made manifest : for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire ; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built there. upon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burnt, he shall suffer logs : but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” In this passage wicked works are called stubble ; these works are to be burnt up, and the wicked saved ; yet so as by fire. Now if we allow scripture to explain scripture, we may be satisfied of the true meaning of our text. « All the proud, and all thern that do wickedly” must pass the fire of the day of the Lord. In the character of the proud and the wicked they must be destroyed root and branch, and be translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son.
We may now proceed to show, that this sense of
the scripture testimony generally in respect to God's will and revealed purpose concerning sinners.
In St. Paul's 1st epistle to Timothy he exhorts him to pray and give thanks for all inen, and as a reason for so doing, he says; “ For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” In his epistle to the Ephesians, the same author says; “ Wherein he hath abounded towards us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; even in him.” According to these passages it is the will of God that all men should be saved, should be gathered together in Christ. And Jesus himself says ; “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” If God will the salvation of all men, and Jesus came to do his father's will it is evident that he mene to gave
all men. Again the Saviour says ; “ For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through himn might be saved.”
The forerunner of Jesus says of him; “ Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” When the religious people of the Jews found fault with Christ because he was a friend to publicans and sinners, he informed them that he came to call sinners to repentance, and to seek and to save that which was lost. In a word, the ministry of the gospel is a ministry of reconciliation, and testifies « that God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.”
Not only does the testimony of Jesus, which we have quoted, prove that sinners are the objects of God's love and the subjects of gospel salvation, but St. Paul reasons to the same point; in his epistle to the Romans he says; “ But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." To the Ephesians he says; " But God, who is rich in mercy, for the great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” Nothing is more obvious than that it was the gracious design of the coming of Christ, and the introduction of the gospel dispensation, to save sinners from their sins, purify them by the spirit of grace, and reconcile them to God. But how entirely repugnant to all this is the opinion to which our text is usually applied. In room of humbling the proud, and bringing sinners to repentance, it is believed that God will exercise unmerciful wrath on his erring offspring to all eternity. Though the text carries not the least intimation of any such thing in it, yet so fixed is this notion, by the force of tradition, that it seems almost as hard to disuade people from it, as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.
That we may understand the ways of God with the proud and them who do wickedly, it may be proper to notice some instances which are recorded for our instruction.—That of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon will not be considered unappropriate. Great was the pride of this prince and great was his wickedness. Notwithstanding God had warned him in a dream which Daniel the Prophet expounded to him, and notwithstanding the Prophet most affectionately counselled him to break off his sins by righteousness, and his iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor ; yet such was the pride of his wicked heart, that it seems he gave no heed to these kind and seasonable monitions, « but at the end of twelve months he walked in the palace of the kingdom of Babylon. The king spoke and said, is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of the kingdom, by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty ? While the word was in the king's mouth there fell a voice froin heaven, saying, o king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; the kingdom is de parted from thee; and they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass like oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will." All this God accomplished on this proud monarch, until his body was wet with the dew of heaven, his hairs were grown like eagle's feathers, and his nails hke bird's claws." This humbled his heart, returned to him his understanding, raised his eyes to heaven, and this is his confession; “ Now I, Nebuchadnezzar praise, and extol, and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth, and his ways judgment; and those that walk in pride he is able abase.” Was every child of Adam a Nebuchadnezzar, and every heart as proud as his, how easy
would it be for infinite wisdom, power and goodness to humble them all to a due sense of their dependence on God. Such as was the result of God's dealings with this haughty prince, we may reasonably suppose will be the result of his chastising providence on “all the proud and all them that do wickedly” for “ those that walk in pride he is able to abase.”
Though the means which our heavenly Father may use with his disobedient offspring may vary, we have no reason to believe that his designs are partial, we have no evidence to support the notion that he will humble some and grant them mercy; but punish others eternally. .
· Another particular instance of God's dealings with one who did extremely wickedly is the case of David king of Israel. The crimes which this: monarch committed being pointed out to him in the faintest simile which their nature would admit, he adjudged the criminal to death-But what were the dealings of God towards him. He was visited with such awful calamities in his family as were as much worse than death, as his crimes were more heinous than the one represented to him by the prophet Nathan, for which he said, the map that hath done this shall surely die. But was David finally rejected from the favour of God ?No, for he sang “ of mercy and of judgment," and praised God whom he acknowledged to be his salvation.
It surely will not be contended, that the Divine Being pays any peculiar respect to kings, by dealing with their crimes in a more lenient manner, than he does with the crimes of others. It should be allowed that the higher a man's station is in society the greater his criminality if he use his power contrary to his duty.
If then, the king of Israel could be punished here in this life, according to the offence which be