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placed their confidence in the living God. To excite terror in the wicked and profane, he denounces awful threatenings of the moft direful calamities whereby the kingdom of Ephraim was to be overthrown. To cherish in the fervants of the Moft High the lively expectation of the bleffings of divine grace, in the most perilous condition of the church, he explicitly declares, that they were to be plentifully enjoyed in the last days.-This elegant prophetic difcourfe may be diftributed into two parts, in the firft of which, now to be confidered, the Prophet expofes the egregious folly of the Ifraelites, in requesting the affistance of that nation who, in former times, had inflaved and oppreffed their fathers. For this purpose he contrafts the wisdom and power of Jehovah, with the wisdom and power of the Egyptians; he exhibits an illuftrious inftance of the divine protection to be afforded to the citizens of Jerufalem, when befieged by the Af fyrians; and, having invited them to return to God, he foretels the total deftruction of the formidable enemies of Judah.
O to them that go down to Egypt for help, and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horfe men, because they are very ftrong: but they look not unto the Holy One of Ifrael, neither feek the LORD,
Our Prophet introduces the fubject which he was to treat, by denouncing against the perfons whofe conduct he reprobates, thofe complicated calamities that demonftrate the displeasure of the Almighty against perverfe tranfgreffors, thofe terrible judgments
which they incur who put their truft in man in whom there is no help. The odious crime whereby the Ephraimites became exposed to the awful punishment threatened against them, is described nearly in the fame terms with those employed in the preceding chapter. Diftrusting the Lord God, who in times past had been their defence and deliverer, and placing foolish confidence in the power of Egypt; they folicited from thence affiftance in the prefent critical fituation of public affairs. Though they well knew, or might have known, that a horfe is a vain thing for fafety, neither shall he deliver any by his great strength; yet they viewed the military force, the cavalry and chariots of war they expected from Egypt, as their stay in the season of impending danger. Put not truft in men of low degree who are vanity, nor in men of high degree 'who are a lie.' If you confide in human aid, you shall certainly be deceived or disappointed; you fhall be ashamed or vexed; you shall feel the effect of the curfe connected with fuch impious conduct. We may apply to men for help, but we must take heed that we truft not in creatures whofe breath is in their noftrils. The fin here threatened was highly aggravated by the following circumstance:
But they look not unto the Holy One of Ifrael, &c. Infenfible to their own infufficiency and indigence, they did not furvey, in the exercise of believing contemplation, the perfections, the promises, and providence of God; nor did they recollect, with fuitable difpofitions of mind, the intimate relations in which they stood connected with him whom they ought to have honoured and fanctified.--Neither did they feek the Lord; they requested not with earnestness his direction, affiftance, and protection, his favour and support. Indifferent to the important benefits which they ought to have been folicitous to obtain, they did not ask them from God with faith and fervency, with integrity and uprightness, with humble dependence, perfevering continuance,
and lively hope of fuccefs.-Would you, my brethren, efcape the miferies denounced in this verse; truft not in the creature, which is only as a bowing wall, and a tottering fence; reprefs that confidence which might withdraw your hearts from God, and terminate in your difgrace and ruin. If you lean on the creatures as a ftaff, they will pierce your hand like a broken reed; if you take fhelter in them as in a rock, they may fall upon you and prove your deftruction. He that trusteth in vanity, vanity shall be his recompenfe. In every difficulty and danger, have recourfe to God for fupport and deliverance, whofe fecret powerful operation moves the hearts, the tongues, and hands of men. Better it is to truft in God than to put confidence in man,' who may be unable or unwilling to help, or be cut oft before he can convey to us any fubitantial relief.
2 Yet he also is wife, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words; but will arise against the house of the evil doers, and against the help of them that work iniquity.
In this verse, sharp reproof is administered to those who, depending on human aid, neglect to acknowledge God. To convince them of their folly and prefumption, they are inftructed, that the wisdom, the power, and faithfulness of Jehovah, being infinitely fuperior to the excellencies poffeffed by people of the greatest celebrity, render him the moft proper object of confidence. The Egyptians were anciently confidered by neighbouring nations as a wife, political, and powerful people; they were long held in high estimation, on account of their learning and acquaintance with many useful arts and fciences. Admitting that they justly deferved this refpectable character, yet it ought to be remembered, that he who giveth wifdom, muft himself be wife, he who teacheth man knowledge, fhall not he * know?' Ile is the only wife God, whose wisdom
and understanding are infinite. If men are reckoned wife who poffefs extenfive acquaintance with im portant fubjects, who govern with prudence their paffions, who manage their affairs with difcretion, and pursue the best ends by the most proper means; furely the Moft High also is wife, from whom proceeds all the wisdom and kill which is difperfed throughout the creation. Be it then, as you fay, that the people from whom you ask affiftance are wife and prudent, yet you cannot deny that God alfo is wife, infinitely wifer than men, who are indebted to him for all the penetration and fagacity they poffefs. He can eafily defeat both you and those whom you call to your aid, and baffle all your beft concerted schemes. He, who with confummate skill, directs the whole course of nature, the actions of all his creatures, and the events that happen throughout the universe, can never want inftruments to execute his purposes, and to frustrate the defigns of those who contemn his direction and fupport.-Let us then acknowledge God in all our ways, not only in dubious and perplexing circumftances, and in arduous interprizes; but in the ordinary bufineffes of life. Confcious that the way of man is not in himfelf, that we cannot aright direct our fteps; let us ask his conduct and bleffing in all our affairs, and commit our works unto the Lord, and our thoughts fhall be established. And will bring evil, &c. In place of the good that you expect fhall accrue from the wifdom and power of your confederates. The evil predicted is not what is called moral evil, or fin, which doth not proceed from God; but that which is known by the name of natural evil, affliction, and calamity; the proper confequence and juft punishment of tranfgreffion. Of all the diftreffes comprised in this fort of evil, Almighty God is the fovereign wife difpofer, to whofe permiffion and agency they must be afcribed. Can a bird,' (faith the Prophet Amos) 'fall ' into a fnare upon the earth, where no gin is laid for him?' It must be planted for that purpose by
a fkilful hand. He again inquires, as the proper application and inference to be deduced from this figure, 'Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord
hath not done it *?' Affliction doth not spring out of the ground, like thofe herbs and plants which grow without labour and cultivation; it is not cafual, nor doth it come by accident. It proceeds from the all-wife righteous appointment of the fupreme Lord of all; it is difpenfed by infinite wifdom to individuals and focieties, as the fruit and punishment of fin. It is the rod whereby the Lord chaftens, the furnace in which he refines his people. From the nature of this painful, but falutary medicine, we may often collect the kind of diftemper it was intended to cure; from the threatened or inflict ed evil, we may discover the procuring cause that brought it on.
And will not call back his words. 'God is not a man that he should lie, neither the fon of man that ' he should repent; hath he said, and fhall he not do it? hath he spoken, and fhall he not make it good +?' He will not retract what he hath said. His word that goeth forth out of his mouth, fhall not return to him void; but it shall accomplish that which he pleases, and it fhall profper in the thing whereto he fends it ‡.' No good reafon can be affigned, why Jehovah fhould recal his words. Our natural instability, our want of forefight, our incapacity to execute our refolutions, frequently give rife to a change in our fentiments, and obligeus to alter our purposes: But God is of one mind, and none can turn him; all his works are known to him from the beginning; for him nothing is impoffible; and therefore what he hath spoken with his mouth, he will accomplish with his hand. In vain then do those who look to men for help, expect that God will alter his determined purpofes, and allow them to perfift in wickednefs, and pafs unpunifhed. The expreffion before us plainly intimates,
Chap. iii. 56.
Numb. xxiii. 19. + Ifa. lv. 11.