A MESSAGE FROM GOD BY J.

Edmondson

Isaiah iii, 10, 11. Say ye to the righteous, that it shall he well ...for they shall eat the fruit of their doins's. Woe unto the wicked: it shall be ill with him ; for the reivard of his hajids shall he given him.

THE world may be divided into two classes ; the righteous and the wicked. The righteous are the friends of God ; the wicked are his enemies. Ministers, who are God's messengers, are commanded to comfort and encourage the righteous ; but to denounce woes and thre£^^ J;enings to the wicked,

70 MESSAGE FROM GOD. Our text contains two parts : first, it shall he well with the righteous ; secondly, it shajl be ill with the wicked. I. It shall be well with the righteous. A righteous man believes what God has revealed, and obei/s what God has commanded. Abraham believed God, a?id it was imputed unto him for righteousness — But ivilt thou JcnoWy O vain man, that faith luithout works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works iL'hen he had offered Isaac his son upon the aU

tterf Seest thou how faith ivrought with his fOotks, 4tnd by works was faith made perfect. Jiatmes ii. 20,-23, It shall be well with the righteous in this world. Outward circunastance* may be unpromising • but the inward state of his mind is fvelL He has omniscience to direct him, omnipotence to protect him, and infinite fulness to supply his wants. God is present with him as a cloud by day, and as a pillar of fire by nigiit. Is he poor? He can trust in God. Is he rich? His riches are' sanctified, and enable him to do good. Is he in pain ? He kpows it will work for good, otherwise his heavenly Fa«

MESSAGE EltOM GOU. ft flier would not have permitted it to come upon him. Do men despise him ? He knows God sets a great value upon him, and looks down with complacency. It is well with him in times of public danger. The sword may go through the land ; but he is safe. The plague may rage ; but he fears no danger. Earthquakes may shake the ground ; but he stands firm on the Rock of Ages. Famine may prevail; but his bread is sure, and his water shall not faiL Thus he lives : but how does he die ? When death approaches all is well. His work is done, and he lies down in peace. God is with him^ and he fears no evil. Holy angels stand around his bed, and wait to conduct him to his Father's house. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. Psal. cxvi. 15. O the calmness, the sweetness of a dying saint 1 He would not exchange his situation with the proudest monarch on earth. The world has

nothing to court his stay : heaven has every thing that his soul desires. Well might Balaam say. Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end he like his. umb, xxiii. 10. Death is the end of this life, and then another life begins. But it shall be well with the righteou-sm l/te

72 MESSAGE FROM GO0. world to come. They shall eat the fruit of theif doings. This is a figure borrowed from husbandry. The husbandman; breaks up his ground^ sows his seed, and watches over it with constant care. He labours hard ; and meets with many discouragements. Perhaps the seasons may be imfriendly, the fowls of the air, or the beasts of the field may visit his inclosure, and noxioui? weeds may spring up in abundance; but he waits for the harvest, when all his labour and care meet with a full reward. He gathers his corn, he makes his bread, and eats the fruit of his doings, This life is a seed time. Whatsoever a man sonveth that shall he also reap. Gal. vi. 7* We sow with labour and care ; but the harvesf comes, and we eat the fruit of our doing. God will reward the righteous. They do not deserve what he will give ; but he is gracious. The rew^ard will not be of debt, but of grace. God has promised, and he is faithful. AVe claim no merit, but our claim to the reward is as good as if we had all the merit to which some pretend. Look forward, ye righteous, with joyful hope! You may sow in tears, but ye shall reap in joy. You may go forth sorrowing, but ye shall return rejoicing, bringing your sheaves wdth you.

Think nothing of your toils, and paing, and la-

WESjSiLOE PROM GOD, 73 !boiU'9. Heaven will recoii^enae the just. On4y be faithful to the end. Turn not aside from ;the holy coniwandoieni. Prji&e your present ;privileges ,; and prize your future hopes. eye^ exchange them for anything that this world can ^ive. Jf itwere.togifVe you aJlUt has, you would ^e infinite losers hy the exchange. You would .exchange solid happiness f<jr yauity an4 disap^r jpoiutmenU you would exchange a heaven of ^glory^ for a.heU of pain and shame! n. Jt shall be ill with the wicked. Wickedness is either secret ojr open. iVJ^ are wickedly nature; but some .endeavour t^ .conceal it, m^ o.thers glory in their shame^ 'The wicked^ who conceal their wickedness^ are cabhoired of God, and the openly wicked are ,abhorgred both of Ood imd man. It ^all be ill with both. The woes of God belong to each^ and will be ponrecj o»t upon them at a future |>eriod. Wier^ we to judge by external appearances, thi^ passage would be difficult to explain. DavVid'says, / jkave seen the wicked in grecU power, tan4 spreadifig himself like the green hay-tree, fsal. xxxvii. ^, In prosperity they are merHf they langh, tjiey sing, they dance; bnt

74 MESSAGE FROM GOD.

there is a wonn within which preys upon their, vitals. We must form our judgnient of men rather by their inward feelings, than their outward appearance. Woes are pronounced against them by the God of heaven, at whose word hell quakes and (devils tremble. Woe to them in prosperity! God is against them. Their pleasures are mingled with poison : their riches are a snare and temptation 5 and their honours lead to disgrace. Woe to them in adversity ! God an4 men forsake them. To V^hom will they turn in clays of darkness and distress ? Woe to them when they reflect ! They cannot bear their own reflections. Conscience, which should be a guide, ISecomes a plague. Woe to them when the judgments of God are abroad! They cannot escape. How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment ! they are utterly consumed VHth terrors. Vsb\. Ixxiii. 1.9. Woe to them in the hour of death ! They turn their pale faces to the wall, and die without hope. A heavy burden of guilt weighs them down, and they sink like lead in deep waters. Woe to therii in the next world ; for the labour of their hands shall be given them.' They have laboured in the work df iniquity, and their reward shall be ^ven in full weight and measure. Their

MESSAGE FROM GOD. 75 works shdll follow and overtake them in a future world. Recollect the character of God who pronounces these woes. God is jealous, and the t^ord revengeth, the Lord revengeth, and is fu^

rio2is; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversarieSy and he reserveth ivrathfor his enemies. ahum i. 2. He bears long, and is not willing that any should perish ; but when he ariseth in judgment, we shall find it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Heb. x.31. But, is there no hope ? Is there no remedy ? Yes, blessed be God, who waiteth to be gracious ! It is in the power of man to prevent these woes. He hiay obtain mercy. There is a friend in heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ, who pleads for guilty man. Hear his call : Look unto me, all the ends of the earth, and he ye saved ; for I am the Lord. Isa. xlv. 2*2. The time will come when there will be no remedy. He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly he destroyed, and that without remedy. Prov. xxix. 1. Secure, then, the present moment. Return to your God. Humble yourselves before him, and he will enable you • to say, O Lord, I will praise thee : though thou ivast whgry tvith me, thine anger is turjied away, and thou comfortedst me. Isa. xii. 1.

76 fiftsSAG* tttom 66fjfi The theastttgetB of God sfeoitM be (mttiMiti pFonouncing these sacred tmths f They shotiH comfort the people of God, and hold up their hands. One qualification necessary for a bi-* shopy^ or one who oversees the church of Christ, is, that he be a lover of good men. Sbow your love by hleping them on their way. Be not afraid of the wicked. Whether they wiUhearor forbear, pronounce God'^s word I They may Gurse, but God will bles*. They tiiay frown^ but God will smile. They may threaten, but God will guard yon on every side. They may

charge you with ignorance, rudeness, and cru-' elty ; but you are only aecountable to God, and while he approves,^^ yon wiH prosper. Thus when your mission ends,^ when your work is^ finished, you will hear him say. WeUdoney good and faithful servant^ enter thou into the joy of ihy Lord. Matt. xxv. 23. Amen.

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