RPM, Volume 13, Number 36, September 4 to September 10, 2011

Approaching Darkness

By Ralph Erskine

"Give glory to the Lord your God, before He cause darkness" —Jeremiah 13:16.

These words are part of a weeping prophecy wherein the prophet is attempting to awaken this secure and stubborn people to repentance, from the consideration of the judgments of God that were coming upon them, of which we read in the preceding part of the chapter; and now he comes to give them good and seasonable counsel, (vs 15) "Hear ye, and give ear, be not proud; for the Lord hath spoken." God has passed His word, and the decree is gone forth: and then he calls them to repent, and give glory to God, before He cause darkness.

What hinders people's hearing when God speaks either by word or rod? What but pride? Be not proud; do not think yourself too good to be taught. Be not scornful, be not willful, be not secure when God threatens; be not impatient when God strikes; for pride is at the bottom of both.

It is the duty of a sinful people to give glory to God before He cause dark-ness: to repent, before He bring judgments upon them.

O Sirs, be exhorted then to "Give glory to God, before He cause darkness." For motives to persuade you hereto, consider:

1. That the glory of God has been much darkened by our sins, and the sins of this generation; darkened to such a degree as may justly provoke Him to cause darkness. How has He been dishonored by our forefathers and us? How is He dishonored by the gross infidelity, error, ignorance, and irreligion of the day! by the great contempt and neglect of precious Christ and His glorious gospel! the woeful barrenness and unfruitfulness of ordinances! indifference and lukewarmness in the matters of God! lamentable backsliding and defection from His ways and His truth! hypocrisy, carnality, and earthly-mindedness! all seeking NOT the things of Christ Jesus, but their own things! gross immorality, cursing, swearing, whoredom, drunkenness, profanation of God's name and Sabbath! How is He dishonored by our sinning against so much, and so many mercies, and warnings!

2. Consider how the darkness of sin in dishonoring God, is attended with the darkness of judgment, portending yet greater darkness. How many shadows of the evening are stretched over us? The shadow of spiritual judgments and plagues, as blindness of mind, hardness of heart, stupidity, security, and deadness; and the giving up of men to the lusts of their own hearts, in the righteous judgment of God! The shadow of desertion; the Lord visibly withdrawing His gracious presence from His ordinances, and the assemblies of His servants and people! The shadow of dissensions and divisions among ministers and people: God dividing us in His anger! The visible glory of the church, her doctrine, worship, discipline, and government, sadly corrupted with carnal policy, framing the tabernacle of God otherwise than according to the pattern seen in the mount! The invisible glory is much withdrawn, that few tokens appear of God's powerful presence in the sanctuary, and a great famine of spiritual influence! What a shadow of darkness is the reduction of the remnant! when the good men perish, and few faithful pastors and sound professors are left! "Help, Lord," says the psalmist, "for the godly man ceaseth"; few to bear witness for God.

3. Consider how much it concerns us to give glory to God: glorifying of God is the great end of our creation and being: "The Lord made all things for Him-self"; and if all things, then man especially, the masterpiece of the visible creation. It is for this end God has given us rational souls and noble faculties, and the means of grace; and all lest this end be not obtained. The glorifying of God is the chief end of all His works, viz. creation, providence, and redemption. All the other creatu res, sun, moon, and stars, yea, and brute beasts, they all glorify God according to their nature and capacities; and, what are we doing? We depend upon Him absolutely for life and breath and being, every moment: "In Him we live, move, and have our being": and is it not highly reasonable that we live to Him? The glory of God is most excellent; His glory is above heaven and earth. His glory surpasses the thoughts of men and angels. It is more worth than heaven; more worth than the salvation of all men. His glory is dear to Him. He has given many excellent gifts to His children, but His glory will He not give to another. And if His glory be so dear to Him, should it not be dear to us? And ought we not to promote it? Our NOT glorifying God will come to a sad account, for the sum of the grand account we are to be called to is this, What revenue of glory have you brought in to Me? And, if God have no glory by us, He will have glory upon us. If you glorify Him not actively, you shall glorify Him passively; and, alas! how sad will their case be, who shall serve for no other end, but to set forth the glory of His vindictive justice to all eternity! In a word, it will be our unspeakable advantage to glorify Him, for we shall be glorified by Him: "They that honor Me, I will honor."

4. Consider whom it concerns to glorify God; put it not off from you. Does it not concern magistrates to give glory to Him by enacting good laws and executing them faithfully? Does it not concern ministers and church-officers to give glory to God by asserting and maintaining the true doctrine, worship, discipline, and government of God's house; to buy truth and not to sell it, though it should cost us our life, as it has done many worthy ministers and martyrs. Does it not concern people in their private stations, to give glory to God, and advance the kingdom of Christ Jesus, and to contribute their mite, though they were never so poor and mean, for the building of the tabernacle? As, when it was reared in the wilderness, some that were able gave gold, silver, precious stones, scarlet, and fine linen; some that were poorer and unable to give great things, they gave badgers' skins and goats' hair: so according to your ability, you are to give glory to God, and to pray for the coming of His kingdom, when you can do no more.

5. Consider that darkness is threatened. There are signs of darkness and of judgment a-coming.

a. Abounding of all manner of sin. "Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel; for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and everyone that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea the fishes of the sea shall also be taken away" (Hosea 4:1-3).

b. These aggravated so much, being against light, love, and mercy; so that the patience of God is abused, (Rom 2:4,5) "Despisest thou the riches of His forbearance and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance; but after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath?"

c. When God's patience is not only abused, but affronted, and ridiculed and laughed at, (2 Peter 3:3) "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days, scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, but is long-suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night."

d. When the gospel is despised, and Christ is rejected by the generality, it bodes darkness, (Matt 21:42,43) "The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord 's doing and is wonderful in our eyes. Therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." O then, "Give glory to God before He cause darkness."

Give Him glory by living by faith upon the Son of God; you cannot glorify God, if you do not glorify the Son, "He that honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father which hath sent Him" (John 5:23). O then, Sirs, give Christ the glory of His name and offices.

Give Christ the glory of His name, by making His name your strong tower. Give Him the glory of His name Jesus, by looking to Him for salvation. Give Him the glory of His name Christ, the Anointed, by looking to Him for the Spirit, the anointing. Give Him the glory of His name, The Sun of righteousness, by praying Him to arise on you with healing in His wings. Give Him the glory of His name, The Resurrection and the Life, by looking to Him for life to your dead soul.

Give Him the glory of all His offices. A man in his office reckons it his honor to be employed, much employed. O then, Sirs, give Christ the glory of His prophetical office by employing Him to teach you, and to dispel the darkness of your mind. Give Him glory as a Priest, by employing Him to pardon you, and wash you in His blood. Give Him glory as a King, by employing Him to subdue all your iniquities, mortify all your corruptions, and destroy all your spiritual enemies. Give Him glory as a Physician, by employing Him to heal all your diseases. Give Him glory as a Captain, by employing Him to fight all your battles. Give Him glory as a Treasurer, by employing Him to supply all your wants out of His fullness. Give Him glory as an Agent, by employing Him to do all your works for you and in you, saying with the Psalmist, "Do Thou for me, for Thy name's sake"; and again, (Psa 57:2) "I will cry unto God most high, unto God that performeth all things for me." If you cannot believe, nor employ Him, O will you give Him glory as the Author of faith, by pleading, that He may come and take employment, and work faith in you. Give Him the glory of His drawing grace, saying, "Lord, draw me, and I will run; turn me, and I will be turned." Remember you are called to give Him glory, before He cause darkness. Darkness will come whether you will or not, the darkness of distress, the darkness of a sick-bed or a death-bed, the darkness of death itself, the darkness of a judgment-day. If you would have darkness to be light before you, O Sirs, give Him glory before He cause darkness. O seek to be regenerated, for you cannot please God while you are in the flesh: "Who can gather grapes of thorns?" Seek acquaintance with Christ and union to Him; you cannot glorify God but in Christ. Seek to have the Word hid in your heart, and particularly to be well acquainted with the gospel covenant: plead the promises thereof; "For the promises are Yea and Amen, in Christ, to the glory of God" (2 Cor 1:20). How sweet will it be in a dying hour, if you could say, "Father, I have glorified Thee on earth; glorify Thou me with Thyself," and with the glory Thou hast prepared for me from all eternity.

This article is provided as a ministry of Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill). If you have a question about this article, please email our Theological Editor.

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