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after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise: and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence."
66 The bush burned with fire;" which justly represents the state of the church in this evil world.
The malice of Satan— the persecutions of the ungodly - the corruptions of the heart— the trials and afflictions which come immediately from God for the purification of his people, may well be compared to fire.
The bush, though on fire, “was not consumed."
This is a wonderful sight indeed. Here the grace and power of Jesus are eminently displayed. The church has always been in a furnace; and yet never consumed; yea, rather purified and brightened in proportion to the intensity of the flame. The cause of the church's preservation is revealed to us. The Lord was in the bush. 6. God is in the midst of her, therefore shall she not be moved." gates of hell shall not prevail against her.” “Fear not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God.”
“ No weapon formed against thee shall prosper.” “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
This remarkable vision should teach us humility. The church is not compared to a stately cedar, but to a bramble bush. We must have low thoughts of ourselves. Man is naturally proud. This inbred evil, even after conversion, rebels against the motions of the Spirit. Hence arises spiritual pride.
When the Lord graciously imparts his gifts for
the edification of the Church, how prone we are to take the praise of these endowments to ourselves. This made the lowly-minded apostle expostulate with the Corinthian converts : « Who maketh thee to differ from another, and what hast thou that thou didst not receive ? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it.” “Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth."
Moses equally cautioned the ancient people of God against this subtle poison. “The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people, for ye were the fewest of all people; but because the Lord loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers.”
“ Not for thy righteousness, or for the righteousness of thine heart, dost thou
this land; but for the wickedness of these nations, the Lord thy God doth drive them from before thee; that he may perform the word which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness, for thou art a stiffnecked people.
How slow are we to learn this humbling, yet precious truth : that salvation is all of grace, rich
grace abounding to the chief of sinners!
The beauty and glory of the church is derived from Christ. He is the glory, as well as the glorifier of his people Israel. Filled with his Spirit, and bearing his image, the church "looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible
as an army with banners.” Jesus beautifies the meek with salvation. “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful
for he hath clothed me with the garment of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of
righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
· By the grace of God, I am what I am.” the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory;?
From this vision, we are taught to expect trials whilst journeying through this desert world. Sometimes the storm rages violently, and the flame burns with awful intenseness. Yet nothing of the church shall be consumed, but its dross. Thus the malice of Satan and the world is overruled for good. Persecution tends only to refine the saints of God. It quiekens their graces, and puts new life into their prayers. They run to the strong-hold, and are safe unto the fostering care of an Almighty Saviour. At such trying seasons, the chaff and the withered branches are consumed. Mere nominal professors cannot endure those persecutions, which are designed in God's providence to separate the precious from the vile. " It must needs be that offences come;' " that they which are approved, may be made manifest.”
The consideration of “this great sight,” should teach us confidence in the faithfulness and power of Jesus. He is in the bush. He never leaves nor forsakes his people. 66 When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee”—is the gracious sustaining promise.
This vision of a bush burning, yet unconsumed, affords a striking view of the perpetuity of the Church of Christ. Nothing shall be suffered to destroy this treasure of Jehovah. It may be reduced; and often has been reduced to the lowest ebb ; but in the most degenerate times God never left himself without a church, however few in num
ber, to shew forth his praise. From Abel down to the present hour, there has ever been “a remnant according to the election of grace.” When the whole earth was filled with violence, and all flesh had corrupted its way before God, “ Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.
He was a just man and perfect in his generation, and Noah walked with God.”
The desolating flood at length descended, and every thing wherein was the breath of life, perished, except the
little church of God, which was preserved in the ark on the bosom of the tempestuous waters !
After the deluge, iniquity began to spread with awful rapidity. Idolatry reared its rebellious tower in the plain of Shinar; and the knowledge of the true God became gradually shrouded in ignorance and superstition, till the Almighty called Abraham by his grace, and caused genuine piety to flourish once more in himself and family.
When planted in the land of Canaan, the Israelites soon forsook the God of their fathers. In the midst of abounding idolatry, the Lord raised
up prophet in whom seemed to centre all the religion of the land. In the grief of his heart he said: “It is enough. Now, 0! Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.” “İ, even I, only am left; and they seek my life to take it away. But what was the answer of the Lord to Elijah ? “ I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal.”
When our blessed Lord came in the flesh, darkness covered the earth and
darkness the people; yet even then there were a chosen few, who in faith “ waited for redemption in Israel.”
During the dark period of 1260 years foretold in the Revelation, wherein the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet would wage continual war with
the church of Christ; the Lord appointed two witnesses (a constant succession of faithful men) who should testify to the power and grace of Jesus, even though they prophesy in sackcloth. In this period we now live, and can fully attest to the truth of this remarkable prophecy. All this is in virtue of the everlasting covenant. How extensive the promise of the Father to his eternal Son:
6. He shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." name shall endure for ever; his name shall be continued as long as the sun, and men shall be blessed in him ; all nations shall call him blessed.”
From this manifestation of the Almighty to Moses, we are led to adore the sovereignty of God.
He, ordinarily chooses, not the great ones of the earth, but the poor and the despised. Some indeed, but not many, noble are called. Worldly riches and elevated stations have a tendency to beget selfsufficiency and vain-confidence.
“Poor in spirit, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom," is the genuine character of the church of Christ.
Divine grace, however, can as easily bring the proudest monarch, as the meanest begger, in the lowly attitude of contrition to the foot of the cross.
Happy will be that period, when the kings of the earth and its nobles shall esteem it their highest glory to become the subjects of the Prince of peace; and their chief joy to promote the extension of his kingdom of righteousness throughout the world.
We are hereby led to admire also the wisdom and power of God. He can promote the enlargement of his church by those very means which its enemies employ to destroy it.
The children of Israel grew and multiplied in spite of Pharoah's efforts to prevent it.
The Gospel spread with wonderful rapidity, not