« AnteriorContinuar »
In exitu Israel
the enfranchisement of Thy people. They saw in spirit the reparation of souls, chains of Satan gone, new life in Christ begun and perfected ; and, looking forward to these good things, they suffered, worked, and prayed without ever losing their hopes for humanity. Present burdens seemed to them penalties due for sin, yet they trusted God's love to remove them wholly at last.
14. Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. O Good Shepherd, protect and guide Thy wandering sheep. Lead
them into the green pastures of Thy Holy Word. Let them feel the protection of Thy rod against their spiritual foes. They have too long wandered along this world's dry and barren paths. But Thou hast for them true nourishment, living springs, a safe road, a sure home. Believers in other days have found Thee their Shepherd in life or in death. The virtue of Thy Cross and Victory still endures.
15. According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I shew unto him marvellous things. 16. The nations shall see and be confounded at all their might : they shall lay their hand upon their mouth, their ears shall be deaf. 17. They shall lick the dust like a serpent, they shall move out of their holes like worms of the earth : they shall be afraid of the Lord our God, and shall fear because of thee. Here is a new Exodus, hearing of which the (nations are “amazed,'
just as they are represented in Moses's song (Exodus xv. 14-16). Here is a fresh doom on the tempter, who is condemned to 'eat dust,' as in the sentence given after the Fall (Genesis iii. 14). Here is the foe 'straitly shut up' and trembling within the walls of another Jericho. Here are David's conquered enemies afraid out of their close places' (Psalm xviii. 45). God renews for His servants all His victories of old. The triumph of our Master over sin and death, the spread of His Church against all that this world's empire could do, the grace of conversion counteracting strongest threats and most alluring temptations; all this has seemed to believers the work of that same Power which turned the course of nature in old days. They felt they were safe in the Hands of a mighty Deliverer. They could not comprehend all His plans, but knew that it would be well with those who trust in Him.
18. Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage ? VER. 20.]
he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. 19. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us : he will subdue our iniquities ; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. In this Exodus it is sin, not Pharaoh, that is drowned in the Red
Sea. God appears afresh to create and to redeem ; but it is a loving heart that He creates, and sin's dominion that He breaks for ever. In the old time wrath strove with mercy and often prevailed. Now all God's mercy appears and His wrath passes out of sight. No expiations of the old law could impart the full forgiveness of which these verses speak. It needed
'A sacrifice of nobler name
And richer blood than they.'
20. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old. This concluding verse of Micah's prophecy is almost the same as the
last verse of our Blessed Lady's song: 'He, remembering His mercy, hath holpen His servant Israel : as He promised to our forefathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever.' These were the treasured hopes and longings which believing souls before Christ came handed over one to the other. They recalled old deliverances, and knew that God's power was not exhausted. They pondered over gracious promises, and saw that something better was still in store. Let us imitate Prophets and Saints by gazing backwards and forwards. God is true, 'is Almighty, is most merciful. He cannot deceive nor be deceived. He has promised us not Canaan but everlasting life; not a temporal victory but the overcoming of all evil, if we but fight with confidence in Him. I believe in one God; in one Christ, Divine and human; in a perfect atonement, a perpetual spring of mercy. I believe in a sanctifying Spirit, a renewing grace. Thus believing, I am content to walk on in hope and patience, though my way be sometimes overcast.
MHE burden of Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum
1 the Elkoshite. Nahum considers the glory and the downfall of the wicked. He
beholds the great empire of the oppressor standing in all its glory, and foretells speedy ruin to it. In his burning words we see the faith and patience of Saints, their sure trust that a righteous God rules, and that wickedness cannot stand before Him. We see also that opportunities and graces neglected only make the heart harder. Where is now that repentant Nineveh which listened to Jonah's warning? What has become of all its good resolutions, its fears of God's judgment ? Jonah had said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown,' and he was amazed at God withdrawing the sentence; but it was carried out in the end.
2. God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth ; the Lord revengeth, and is furious ; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. Here is the source of that downfall which the Prophet is going to
declare. Nineveh is confident in security, drunk with pride, satiate with plunder. But God is about to recompense her. Thrice over comes the dread news that God avenges, that He does justice at last. For a while He keeps His wrath hidden, but it will flash out in due time. When I read this declaration that God will surely take vengeance, I know it is true not only of empires, but of souls. I know that oppression, seduction, treachery will turn on the guilty one. O God of Justice, when Thou goest forth to punish, let Thy dear Son's Love be my refuge! How can I endure strict justice ?
3. The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked : the Lord hath his way in
the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. God was 'slow to anger' when He forgave repentant Nineveh and
seemingly brought to nought Jonah's prediction. He was 'slow to anger' when He let His dear Son endure the shameful Cross;
slow to anger' when He allowed the first Christians to suffer all manner of tortures at the hands of their enemies. He is 'slow to anger' now, when He lets great criminals stand so high, when He lets His children groan under the world's ill-usage. But I know that all crimes are entered in His book, and He demands an account. Great revolutions, great calamities, are the whirlwinds, the storm, the cloud in which He moves. They upset our fancied serenity, darken all our earthly prospects. But yet God is on high in the storm, His light shines above the cloud. I cannot always trace His path, but I know He is near.
4. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. 5. The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. 6. Who can stand before his indignation ? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger ? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him. The sea retiring, the river drying up, the woods and pastures fading,
the mountains shaking, fire-flood sweeping by, rocks splitting and melting, earth heaving-what harm can all this convulsion do to one whose hopes are set elsewhere ? Indeed, if earth were all, the ruin of earth's glory and peace would be total and absolute ruin. But it is not so.
'Be hushed, my sad spirit, the worst that may come
Can but shorten thy journey and hasten thee home.'
*They image forth a tenderer bower,
A more refulgent home.'
7. The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble ; and he knoweth them that trust in him. Lord, let me know Thee thus, as Thy friends know Thee. Let me be upheld by Thy strength, comforted by Thy mercy. Without Thee I am but feebleness and folly, but by Thy help I can per. severe. To Thee be all the glory. I must not presume on Thy
goodness, so as to offend wilfully. But still nothing must ever deter me from trusting Thee. Thou art not a severe weigher of merits, but a merciful Friend.
8. But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue his enemies. 9. What do ye imagine against the Lord ? he will make an utter end : affliction shall not rise up the second time. 10. For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry. This overrunning flood, this blank darkness, this all-consuming fire,
express the mighty power of God. Before it human wisdom and power are helpless. . Great Nineveh, the mistress of a crouching world, with all its palaces and the temples of its gods, represents all that sets up itself against God's Word. Here is a hedge of inwoven thorns, a pride
'Swoln with insolence and wine'; but Faith trusts and is at peace, knowing that her Master will get the victory.
11. There is one come out of thee, that imagineth evil against the Lord, a wicked counsellor. Against God's people, God's city, God's truth, Nineveh devised
counsels of extermination. But the doom fell on herself. So the chiefs of the Jewish state in Christ's time devised a plot to take Him off and crush His few followers. But their own ruin ensued. So the mighty Empire of Rome devised the suppression of the Christian name, but had to cry out at last, “Thou hast conquered, O Galilean.' So have Truth and Righteousness been locked in dungeons, consumed by flames, and yet out of their ashes sprung new life.
12. Thus saith the Lord ; Though they be quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down, when he shall pass through. Though I have afflicted thee, I will aflict thee no more. 13. For now will I break his yoke from off thee, and will burst thy bonds in sunder. O afflicted soul, beaten by perpetual blows, chained in heavy fetters,
look upward to thy God I Remember that this affliction is but for a very little while, and the promises of peace are eternal. This affliction which God sent was in His love, and to prove thee, and to guard thee from downfalls. But it is only a short preparation