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Dbut. XXXII. 9. The Lord*s portion is his people, Jacoh is the lot of his inheritance. « We are fast approacfaing to tfae close of the life and writings of Moses* The sun of tbis eminent leader of tfae Israelites is now descending to the horizon^ and it sets in a splendid scene of beauty and glorj. o portion of all the word whicfa fae deHvered to his people is gilded with a brighter hue than this song whicfa we are now about to consider. In tfae sttblimitj of its conceptions, tfae beauty of its imagery, the sweetness of its numbers, and above all, in tfae fervour of its pietj, it is as distinguisfaed -among all otfaer aucient poetry, as tfae Israelites were among the Bations of tfae eartfa. It breatfaes a portiou of tfae divinity wfaicfa inspired it, and very
god's favour to his people. 415 cold mast that heart be, whicb eveii at thifl distance of time does uot feel itself warmed by it, and lifted up towards heaven, as on the wings of that noble bird, the sovereign of the tenants of the air, who in an early part of it^ is made so beautifully emblematical of the lare> care^ and protection of God for his people. There is one leading point in the song; that is^ the Lord's favour to his people. Yet this is set before us in a rich varíety of the strongest and most interesling lights. ot that every part of it can be made minutely and directly applicable to tbe case of the
general church of God, for some things are necessarily confíned to the peculiar circumstances of Israel; but the Lord God here speaking as a man, and representing hea-* venly things by earthly, thus impresses upon our minds the vast extent and minute observation of his love and care, and demeans himself, if I may so speak, by the use of earthly images, to impress us with a deeper sense of them. I do not intend to expound to you all the particular parts of this song.
416 god's favour to And at present I take only the verse which I have read to jou as a text, with a few that foUow it j for I think that in opening out the exposition of this part I shall be able to give you such a kej to the whole as will enable you to unlock for yourselres erery other drawer of this precious casket, and enable you to contemplate at yoiu* leisure the various treasures^ beauties, and wouders whách it contains. Moses enters on it by this beautiful introduction^ " Give eár, O ye heavens, and I wiU speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, and my speech distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass : because I will publish the name of the Lord : ascribe ye greatness unto our God." He then proceeds to celebrate some of the greatest attributes of God, reproves the people for their ingratitude and the manner in which they had corrupted themselves, and reminds them of the grace which God had shown to them in the days of old, and through a long succession of their fathers. And thus he
HIS PEOPLE, 417 I
comes to the part which I now propose more fully to expound to you. I. In the text we have a most ímpressive simile of the regard aud affection which God has for his people. o part of property is ever looked upon with more favour than that which has been inherited, and come down to us from father to son, through many generations : none is preserved with more care, or parted with more painfuUy. This is a feelíng which seems natural to man. Families and individuals still, in all civilized countries, cherish their patrimonial inheritances wíth the same affection. ow this is the simile which the Lord uses in the text, to express the regard which he had for the children of Israel. *' The Lord's portion is his people ; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." It speaks of them as his possessiou. It marks his long-seated love to them, his auxiety to keep them as his own, his unwillingness that they should by any means be alienated from him : nay it denotes the almost impossibility of such a circumstance. As each of the tribes had its own particular lot, portioned T6
418 god's favour tq • mt íbr ity in which it sfaauld perpetaally reside» and as each individual of that tríbe had also his fixed inheritance which he might not dispose of to another, except at least for a short season^ so the Lord himself also had them as his portion, his lot, and his inhaitance. Consequently he would not know Iiow to ,part with them. He could not find iu hia heart — ^we speak aíter the manner of men, — ^to sell or give them up to another.
ow the Lord tvas thus with Israel as a nation. He loved them and cherished thém, as a man does his house and bome, as á father his son, as a husband his wife. He long resided among them by his providence^ his word, and his Spirít. He cultivated them as hb vineyard, adorned them as his garden^ and delighted in them to do them good, to Uess, preserve and keep them: they were ",a peculiar treasure unto him above all people.*^ He represents himself as lamenting over their defections^ and not knowing how to punish them. " How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver thee, Israel ? How shall I make thee as Admah ?" " My heart," he
HIS PEOPLE. 410 sajSy ** is tmiied within me, my repentíngs are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger^ I wiU,not retum to destroj Ephraim ; for I am God and not man ; the Holy One in the niidst of thee.*' Tbús unwilling does he represent himself to cast off his people. And though aílter long wamings and chastenings they nevertheless filled up the measure of their iniquities bj the crucifixion of his Son, and he was obliged to reject them, yet wiU he repurchase them. They are stiU his inheritance, and his people. He wiU ýet redeem them by tlieir nearest of kin. He wiU yet send out to them a deUverer from Zion. He wiU recover them Bjgma, and again dwe]l in the midst of them. Thus also are God's spiritual people his portion, and the lot of his inheritance, even those who are brought into a new covenaut relatíon with him through faith in his Son. They are beloved for Jesus* sake, and they are deUghted in as the purchase of his death, and the new creation of his grace. Thë Church of Christ is now the spiritual lot in which God reáides. It is his temple, hia
420 GOD*S FAVOUR TO TÍnejrard, hís flock, his choseii natíon, his peculiar people. Bat how cau these be called the lot of Ms inherUance P By whom have they been assigned to him as such ? From whom did the patrimony descendP If we consider God as the infinite, etemal, selfesdstent Father, the maker of all things^ and the Lord of the whole earth, then the simile wiU altogether fail in this point. But if we consider the Lord as the Lord Jesus^ then it holds in all its force. For he is the everlasting Son, to whom the Father gave the tribes of Israel for a portion^ and this being a ligfat thing, he gave him also ^' the heathen for his inheritance and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession.'* And where any individnals are given to him by the Father^s everlasting love, and called and brought to him by effectual grace^ these also are his portion, he takes possession of them, and displays in them " the riches of the glory of his iuheritance in the Saints." In the heart of the humble believer he resides as in his patrimonial inheritance ; fhere he keeps his court, and there their affections wait on him as the
UIS PEOPLE. 421 vassals * of his crown, and their bodies serve him as the snbjects of his kingdom. And never was country more prized, or home better loyed, than his people are prized and loved and honoured and blessed by the divine Jesus. II. In the verse which foUows the text these marks of the Lord's favoar are traced up to their origin^ and described by another stzikiii^ simile. ^^ He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wildemess ; he led him about^ he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye." God's fiivour to his
people originates in his own boundless grace and mercy. It is not given to them because they are rich and powerAil and in a prosperous condition. It finds them when in a low and dangerous state^ and comes to them as a reUef when miserable and ready to perish. He acts thus for the display of his own perfections of grace and mercy, and for the honour of his own great name. Thus it was shown to Israel. The Lord called their father Abraham, when he was au idolater in the land of Ur in tfae Chaldees ; he looked towards tbe nation when it
422 god's favour to was m bondage in Egypt; and in the^wildersess he entered into covenant with them and gave them his holj law. The circumstancas of this waste howling wildemess are more fuUy described in the eighth chapter and fifteenth verse, where Moses says^ ^^ Beware that thou forget uot the Lord thj God, wbo led thee through that great and terrible waderness, wherêin were fiery serpente, and scorpions, and drought^ where theré was no water: And again in Jeremiah the second chapter and sixth verse, when he comphiins that they said not, " Where is the Lord that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the wildemess,. througfa a land of deserts and of pits, through a laud of drought and of the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt.'' Through this the Lord led them with care, provided them with daily food, suffered not theír raiment to wax old, conducted them bj the right way, instructed them fully in his laws and ordinances, showed tfaem the greatness of his uame, the hasmony of his attributes, the
HIS PEOPLE. 433 way of propitiatíon by sacrífice^ and the method of purífication, in shadows and tjpea indeed, bat yet as no other nation was fa* Toured. He kept them also as the apple of his eye. What a stríking simile of the Lord's watchful care and protection! o part of the humau frame is guarded with more precaution than that tender organ. The pupil of it; formed throughout in the most curious manner, and thoroughly adapted for receÍTÍng on it the impressions of visible objects and communicaiing them to the brain^ is fenced with brows and lashes to preserve it from too much light and heat An exquisite sensibi]ity is placed in the lida, which seem to take instant alarm at the sUghtest approach of danger^ and to close for its protectíon! It is to the care thus manifested for the safety of the pupil of the eye that the Lord compares bis care over Israel. Is it possible that any expression could give us a more beautiful or forci^ ble representation ? The figure is used by DaTÍd iu prayer in the aeventeenth Psalm, ** Keep me as the apple of thine eje, hide
424 god's favour to me under the shadow of thy wiugs." The prophet Zachariah also shews by the same figure the minute manner with which God identifies himself with his people, and how he reseuts any injury done to them as if done unto himself, for he says in the secoud chapter and eighth verse, ^^He that touohes you touches the apple of his eye." I say his people^ and I mean his spiritual people, his true worshippers and servgnts under his gospel, those who are followers of his Son Jesus. The promises and privileges, the instruction protection and care of Israel, all beloDg to them also, aud are even of a higher nature. Christian Brethren, if the
sacrifices and ceremonies of the Jewish law were types of your better sacrifice in Christ, so was all that God wrought iu their favour typical of the favour which he has towards you. All that he did for them in temporal thiugs wiU be done for you in spirítual blessings. You also he found in a waste howling wUdemesa, lying dead in trespasses and sins. You are saved by grace. And being so saved, he will guard and guide you, he will
HIS PEOPLE. 426 teach and instruct you, he will keep you even still as the apple of his eye, from every harm and danger, yea from every evil work unto his heavenly kingdom. These are yonr present privileges and prospects, O ye spiritual Israel, ye people saved hy the Lord. III. The tender, continual, and watchful care of God is exhibited by a third simile in the next verse which I wiU now proceed to consider. "As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wiugs: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him." These habits of the eagle are known to naturalists. In teaching her young to fly the parent bird shakes up the nest to make them leave it, she flutters with her wings to encourage them to take flight, and spreads them abroad to show them how to use them, and if in their first attempts there is danger of their falling, she darts under them with the rapidity of lightning, takes them on her back, and bears them again to the nest in safety. This simile, so
426 god's favour to natural and appropriate, ís also chosen to
represent the care of God over his children. Thns he stimulates, teaches> and saves : thns is he a veiy present help to them in every time of need. In the work of their salva*" tion there is none hut he: no strange God divides the labour or ^ares ihe glory. " I, even I," he saith, ''am the Lord, ajad beside me there is no saviour." ^ Look unto me, and be ye saved^ all the ends of the earth, for I am Gdd, and there is none else.'' ' . The Lord appeals to the Israelites^ "Ye haye seen what I did unto the Egyptians^ and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself." So again in Deuteronomy, " And in the wildemess, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bare his son, in all the way that ye went, uhtil ye came into this place." * Thus also the prophet Isaiah calls to the peoplé and en-* courages them in hís day, " Hearken :unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remr nant of the house of Israel, which are borne
HIS PEOPLE. 427 by me firom the belly, wbich are carríed firom the womb : and even to yoar old age I am he : even to hoar hairs will I carry you : I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry and wiU deliver you." The figure is most interesting and affectingy whether it be taken fírom the pai*ent bird, or the human (^eature. As these bear and carry their tender offspring, so the Lord had supported and upheld the Israelites through the various periods of their national existence. It is thus also with the believíng people of Jesus. He too represents himself as a good shepherd, leading his flock, and bearing tbe last sheep back on his shoulders. And as the eagle in this simile, he excites desires and
hopes in the people of his choice ; encourages diem in their young and feeble attempts; sets before Úiem his own example for he took thdr nature ; and hastens to save them in all their dangers. Oh! that we may ever be most thankful for his lova and care^ and that we may be trained up by him for higher and higher flights into the regions of heavenly places. It is said that the eagle can
428 god's favour to look on the dazzlÍBg splendoiu' of the sun when he shineth in his strength. Maj we be enabled by faith to look upwards to the things of glory, and hereaíler have power and privilege to behold the anclouded brightness of the face of God. Oh ! that we maj mount in spirít, on the wings of faith aud prayer ánd thanksgiving, into the highest heaven of spirítual things, till we are bome to the very throne of God, and there have our portion and the lot of our inherítance for ever. Yet I know not whether that other simile which Christ uses iu the gospel, is not as touching to the heart, and as expressive of tender and anxious care as the one now before us. It is the simile of the parent hen. " O Jerusalem, Jerusalem," saith the Lord, "thou that kiUest the prophets apd stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not." However «unacquainted you may be with the habits of the eagle, this care of the domestic fiowl you have often seen. If her young brood need warmth and
HI8 PEOPLE. 429 sbelter, if a thunder storm approacheth, or a bird of prey bovers near, with what anxiety does sbe call them together, and shelter them
nnder her own body. Oh ! may the wings of Almightj mercy thus shadow us. May we ever run to them for refuge ; and may the promise be fulfilled to us in its spíritual import, " He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.*' . My brethren, let me now, in application, beseech you ail to seek this favour of the Lord. It is the greatest good that you can possibly possess. It compríses in itself every good of every kind, temporal and eterna], earthly and heavenly. Perhaps you think much of the favour of the world. What can all the world do for you in comparíson of what God can do ? Can its prínces so honour and ennoble you ? Can its nobles so patronize ypu ? Can its wealthy men so enrích you? Cau its men of pleasure so delight you ? It is a shame even to hint at a comparíson. Remember the declaration of Solomon, whó had well experíenced all that
480 OOD^S FATOUK TO the world can do to satisfy its votaríes. ^' Va^ nity of vanities," said he, ^* all is vanity/* Remember one thing more. In seeking inordinatelj the favoor of the world, you wiU lose the favour of God. ^' The friendship of the world is enmity with God.** '* Love not the world neither the things that are in tbe world. If anj man love the world the love of the Father is not in him. For all that k in the world, the lust of the flesh, and tfae lnst of the eyes, and the príde of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the wiU of God abideth for ever." On the otlier hand, there is no aian who hath lost any thing of earth by seeking the favoUr of God, who wiU not find il amply made up to him even in this world ; and ia*finitely more in the next* I plead with yón
on your own interest. Omitting at this tifiate all arguments and persuasions drawja from higher motives, I put it as a matter of profit and loss. So does the scrípture. ^' What is a man profited if he should gain the whole world^ and lose his ówn soul I" You wiU
HIS PEOPLE. 431 lose yonr soul^ if yon gain not the favour of God. You will lose all that protection and eare which he affords his people in life^ all. that peace of conscience, all that happy confidence, all that heavenly hope, and all those spiritual jojs, which a sense of his favour gives to the soul even while it sojoums in the body. You will lose all that is worth living for in life^ and all that constitutes the glorj and happiness of heaven. Be wise then and consult your own interest by eamestly seeking the favour of God, for you wiU gain, with the possession of it, all that you wiU lose if you gain it not. You know how it is to be obtained. You know that Jesus is the ivay to it, and that those who live by the faith of hini, never fail of obtainiug it. Be then likeminded with the Apostle Paul, and whatever olher thlngs may be thought gain, count them " loss for Christ," yea be willing to " suffer the loss of all things and count them but dung, that you may win Christ and be found in him.*'
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