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GOD’S JUSTICE AND MERCY:

GOD’S JUSTICE AND MERCY:

 

“For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the Lord unto the gate of Jerusalem.” Micha 1:12.

 

This refers to the invasion of the Assyrian, the rod of God’s anger. He had subdued and ravaged Israel, and now entered the kingdom of Judah. The prophet laments the horrors and miseries of the scene, and describes the effects of them upon the places lying in the line of his march. The village of Maroth was one of these. It was very interior, and was situated nigh Jerusalem; for which reason prob­ably the inhabitants themselves thought that they were safer than those who lived on the borders of the country: “For the inhabitant of Maroth waited carefully for good: but evil came down from the Lord unto the gate of Jerusalem.” This may serve to remind us of the dis­appointments of life, of the source of calamity, and the season of deliv­erance.
They “waited,” waited “carefully for good;“ but in vain - “evil came.” Is such a disappointment a strange or an unusual thing? What is there in life that is not uncertain, and does not expose the hope that is resting upon it? Is it substance? Is it health? Is it children? Is it friends? Does the Scripture only cry, “Allis vanity;“ and, “Cease from man, who’s breath is in his nostrils?” Does not all history, observation, and experiences tell us the same? Let therefore the young, let those who are entering into new connections and condi­tions, let all be sober in their expectations from every thing earthly. It is the way to escape the surprise and the anguish of disappointment. And let us make the Lord our hope. He will not deceive us; he can­not fail us. If creatures are broken reeds, he is the rock of ages. “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
See also the source of calamity: “Evil came down from the Lord.” This at first seems strange. We are assured that “every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights.” But “let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for he cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” And this is true of moral evil, or the evil of sinning. But Micah speaks of natural evil, or the evil of suffering. And what calamity is there that the Scripture has not ascribed to God? Is it a storm at sea? “He breaketh the ships of Tarshish with an east wind.” Is it barren­ness of soil? “He turneth a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell thetein.” Is it the loss of connections? “Lover and friend hast thou put far from me.” “Is there an evil in the city, and the Lord bath not done it?“ War is the evil here pecul­iarly intended. We often connect this more with the follies and pas­ions of men than other evils; but the hand of God is no less really in it. He has “created the waster to destroy.” “Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle-bow, out of him every oppressor together.” Let us never view our sufferings, public or private, personal or relative, abstractedly from God. Especially let us beware that instruments do not lead us to overlook his agency. They could have no power at all against us, except it was given them from above. The Chaldeans and the Sab~ans spoiled Job; but says lie, “The Lord hath taken away.”
The question is, how this evil comes from him. Our separating what the Scripture has joined together does much injury. Some view God’s mercy as separate from his justice, and some his justice as separate from his mercy: the one of these partial views genders pre­sumption, the other despair. These extremes would be avoided by our considering God as at once the righteous governor and the tender father. Every thing in his present administrations is adapted to show the union of his holiness and goodness, and to awaken both our fear and our hope. The evils he sends are the effects of sin; yet they are the fruits to take away sin. We deserve them, and we need them; the one shows that we have no right to murmur, the other that we have no reason to complain. What is required of a Christian is a ready and cheerful submission; but this can only be produced by our seeing the reference our affliction has not only to our desert, but to our improvement. The thought of God as a sovereign may repress murmuring; but it is the belief not only that his judgments are right, but that in faithfulness he afflicts and in love corrects us, that enables us to acqui­esce, and say, “Here I am; let him do what seemeth him good.” Mark also the time of deliverance. Though God saves his people, he may permit the destruction to draw very nigh. This was the case here. He could have hindered the calamity at the frontier; but evil came down from the Lord “unto the gate of Jerusalem.” So far the overflowing did come, and the insulting foe encamped in the fuller’s field adjoining the city, but no further. Here were his proud waves stayed; here ended his power and triumph. Hezekiah conquered him upon his knees. The Lord put his hook into his, nose, and his bridle into his jaws, and drew him back. Yea, the angel of the Lord slew in his camp in one night upwards of one hundred and eighty-four thousand of his troops; showing us not only that God can deliver in the greatest straits, but that he frequently does not interpose till the evil has reached its extremity. Thus Peter was not released from prison till a few hours before his appointed execution: and Abraham had bound Isaac, and seized the knife, and stretched out his hand, before the voice cried, Forbear. Whenever therefore he seems indifferent to our wel fare, and does not immediately or even for a length of time interpose on our behalf, let us not accuse him of unfaithfulness and inattention. Let us distinguish between appearance and reality. His kindness, wisdom, and power are secretly at work for our good. The delay is not abandonment. He is only waiting to be gracious; and the season in which he will appear to our joy will display his glory, and draw forth our praise. In the mean time, let our minds be kept in perfect peace, being stayed upon God; and let us remember, if things are gloomy and discouraging, that the lower the ebb of the tide, the nearer the flow. It is often darkest just before the break of day. “IN THE MOUNT IT SHALL BE SEEN.”
Rev. Wm. Jay Evening Exercises – pg 449

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