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THE REV. C. SIMEO, M.A.
Isai. xlviii. \7, 18. Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, the Holy
One of Israel: I am the Lord thy God, ivhich teacheih thee
to profit, which leadeth thee by tlie way that thou shoiddest
go. Oh that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments !
then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as
the waves of the sea.
THE reducing of Religion to a system is not with-
out some use ; because, by an orderly arrangement
374 ISAIAH, XLVIII, \7, 18. [518.
of all its parts, we are enabled to attain both a com-
prehensive and distinct view of the whole. But,
w^hen we presume to wrest any passages, or to
weaken their true meaning, merely because they do
not seem to accord with our system, we usurp a
power that belongs not to us, and deprive ourselves
of many benefits, which, if duly humbled, we might
enjoy. It cannot be denied that God is the sovereign
disposer of all events, and that *' the Spirit divideth
to every man severally as he will." But shall we
therefore imagine that nothing depends on our-
selves ; that nothing is gained by obedience, or lost
by disobedience ? " We have not so learned Christ;"
nor have we such partial views of his word. We
believe, that however free and undeserved the gifts
of God are, they would come down to us in richer
abundance, if we were more earnest in seeking
them ; and that the true reason of our possessing
so little is, that we labour so little to obtain fresh
communications, or to improve those we have al-
ready received. If we would not enervate, or rather
destroy, the force of our text, we must subscribe to
this sentiment : for there God expresses his regret,
that the obstinacy of his people prevented the
descent of his blessings to them ; which is a proof,
that though his mercies are in some instances sove-
reignly and freely dispensed, yet they are not arbi-
trarily withheld from any ; or, in other words,
though some are elected to salvation, none are lost
through an unmerited sentence of absolute and eter-
To enter fully into the spirit of our text, it will
be proper to consider,
I. Who it is that here addresses us —
When any thing is spoken to us by man, we invo-
luntarily consider who it is that addresses us, and
pay attention to the words in proportion to the wis-
dom, the goodness, or authority of the speaker. If
he be a stranger, we feel a comparative indifference
towards him ; but if he be a friend, a benefactor, a
•518.] god's tender concern for his peoplk. 3/5
father, we are more observant of every thing he says.
ow God frequently expatiates on his own charac-
ter, in order that he may arrest our attention, and
make a deeper impression on our minds. In the
words before us, he describes himself by,
1. The relation he bears to us —
[God was related to Israel in a peculiar manner. He
had brought them out of Egypt; and they were the only
people that acknowledged him : He was therefore properly
" their Redeemer; the Holy One of Israel, their God." The
Christian Church, as a body, stand in a similar relation to
him ; and are in that respect distinguished, like the Jews, from
all the idolatrous nations of the earth. But there are some,
to whom, in a higher and more appropriate sense, he bears
these relations. There are some whom he has really re-
deemed from sin and death ; in whose hearts he reigns ; and on
whose behalf he exercises all his adorable perfections.
Amongst this happy number we profess to be.
With what care and diligence then should we attend to the
words before us, when we consider them as addressed to us
by Him, who bought us with his own blood, and who has
given himself to us as our God and portion for ever ! ]
2. The kindness he exercises —
[As God gave unto Israel both the moral and ceremonial
law for their instruction, and guided them through the wilder-
ness for forty years, so is he now the instructor and leader of
the Christian Church, who exclusively enjoy the light of reve-
lation. But there are a favoured few, " a little liock," to
whom these blessings are vouchsafed in a more especial man-
ner. Wliile multitudes never receive any benefit fi-om the
ministration of the Gospel, some are " taught to profit" by it:
they are instructed in the knowledge of their own hearts ; and
are enabled to discern the suitableness of Christ to their ne-
cessities, and to live by faith upon him as their only Saviour*.
They are also " led in the way that they should go :" diey are
brought from " the course of this world in which they were
walking," and are guided into the way of peace and holiness ^
If we have experienced these blessings, surely we cannot
but " give earnest heed to the things" spoken in the text, since
they are spoken by Him, to whose gracious teaching we owe
all the knowledge we possess, and to whose protecdng care
we are indebted for every step that we have taken in the way
to Canaan ]
'^ Acts xvi. 14. I John v. 20.
" Acts xxvi. 18. Eph. ii. 1—5. Tit. iii. 3—5.
376 ISAIAH, xLViii. 17. 18- [51^.
Let us listen then with the deepest reverence to
the voice of our Benefactor : let us hear,
II. The regret he expresses on our account —
In his words we may notice,
1. The matter of his regret —
[God is not an unconcerned spectator of our conduct.
He is not satisfied with giving us his commands, and leaving
VIS to obey them or not, as we please : he longs to engage our
most affectionate regards to him and his service: and, when
all his efforts are in vain, he takes up a lamentation over us,
as a father over a disobedient and incorrigible child ^^. And
what abundant occasion has he for regret on our account ! He
has commanded us to come to him, to live in a state of holy
fellowship with him, and to delight ourselves in him. But
how deaf are we to his intreaties, and how slow of heart to
obey his voice ! It is not the ungodly alone over whom he lias
cause to lament, but even his own people : yes, even they,
whose God he is, and whom he has redeemed with his own
precious blood ; they whom he has instructed by his word and
Spirit, and whom he has led by his Providential care; even
they, I say, grieve him by their inattention, and provoke him
to displeasure by their neglect : and so is he at times weighed
down, as it were, by their misconduct, that he scarcely knows
how to bear with them, or how to act towards them "'.j
2. The reason of it —
[And what is it that occasions his regret? Would he
gain any thing by our obedience? or does he lose any thing by
our disobedience*^? o: he knows how much we lose by our
folly ; and it grieves him, that, when he is so desirous of load-
ing us with his richest benefits, we should be so regardless of
our own interest and happiness.
If we were uniformly zealous and active in the service of
our God, " our peace would flow down" in a serene, unin-
terrupted course, " like a river ;" and " our righteousness," or
prosperity of soul, would " like the waves of the sea," be ex-
alted, irresistible, and boundless. We should find "the
work of righteousness to be peace ^;" we should have great',
and abundant^ peace; and " in keeping God's commandments
we should have a rich reward''." Is there not then cause for
regret, that Vv^e should be such enemies to our own welfare ;
and that, instead of enjoying the felicity of God's chosen, we
•"• Matt, xxiii. 3/. &: Luke xix. 42.
«Am. ii. 13. Jer. iii.lp. Hos.xi. S. '' Job xxii. 2, 3.
* Isai. xxxii. 17. ' Ps. cxix. l05. ^ ps. Ixxii. 7.
'' Ps, xix. 11.
518.] god's tendeu concern for his people. 377
should scarcely differ, either in comfort or holiness, from the
ungodly world around us ? Yes; if angels rejoice over oui*
prosperity, they may well join with their Maker in pathetic
lamentations over the greater part of the Christian Church.]
1 . How bitter will be the reflections of the ungodly
in a future world !
[ow God laments over them ; hut they regard him not :
then they will lament over their own state ; and he will not
regard them. Then they will adopt the very language of the
text : " O that I had hearkened to God's commandments !
then would my peace at this moment have been constant as
a river, and boundless as the sea." I should not have been
in this place of torment : I should not have been weep-
ing and wailing and gnashing my teeth in hopeless agony,
as I now do : no ; I should have been like those in Abra-
ham's bosom; I should have been holy as God is holy, and
happy to the utmost extent of my capacities or desires. O
fool that I was ! O that I had hearkened to God's command-
ments ! I was warned, but would not believe : I was exhorted,
but would not comply : O that it were possible to obtain one
more offer of mercy ! But, alas ! that is a fruitless wish — -
Beloved Brethren, Why will ye not consider these things
before it be too late?]
2. How blessed may the ungodly yet become, if
they will only seek after God !
[The words of the text were spoken in reference to the
very people who were afterwards carried captive to Babylon ;
and therefore they may be considered as addressed to every
individual amongst us. God is not willing that any of us
should perish': he desires rather that we should come to re-
pentance and live''. He is as willing to be their Redeemer,
and their God, as to be the God of any person in the universe.
He woidd teach and guide them as cheerfully, and as effec-
tually as he taught the Prophets and Apostles of old. " O that
they were wise, and would consider these things ! they should
surely then understand the loving-kindness of the Lord':"
they should be filled with " a peace that passeth all under-
standing," and have, both in their purity and joy, a sweet fore-,
taste of their heavenly inheritance.]
' Ezek. xxxiii. 11. "2 Pet. iii. 9. ' Ps. cvii. 43.
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