Retaining God

Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
~ Acts 10:34

And it came to pass, when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, that they said, It is the king of Israel. Therefore they compassed about him to fight: but Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him; and God moved them to depart from him. For it came to pass, that, when the captains of the chariots perceived that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back again from pursuing him.
~ 2 Chronicles 18:31-32

But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
~ 1 Kings 21:25

In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
~ Psalm 15:4

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
~ Ephesians 5:11, 2 John 1:10-11

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
~ Romans 8:7, Romans 1:18, Romans 1:32

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
~ James 4:4

But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.
~ 2 Chronicles 32:25

A Lecture Upon 2 Chronicles, 19th Chapter, First and Second Verses, by Donald Cargill.

And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem. And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the LORD? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the LORD.
~ 1 Chronicles 19:1-2

The Goodness of God does not always leave Man, when he steps out of God’s Way; Indeed it might do so: And when we Depart from God, God might say now, go Good Providence and Leave them. But what does the Goodness of God, it stays and bides until it bring some Folk back again to God; and then when they are Returned, the more that the Goodness of God has been with them, it makes them the more to Mourn when they Return again! We have an Instance of this in this Chapter: We have here a King, and a Good King, and he has gone out of God’s Way; and yet God’s Goodness has not left him, but it stayed, even after his sinful Accession in Association with Achab. It’s said, he returned in Peace to his House to Jerusalem.

Now in this Chapter, there are several Things spoken of him; For this Chapter speaks not only of his Fall, and sets out (4) all his Goodness; But it speaks, First, Of his Deliverance, and then of the rest. First, And he came to his House at Jerusalem in Peace.

Secondly, It speaks of the Sharp Reproof he meets with from the Prophet upon the very entry. Any Body would have thought they should have gone and met their King with Praise, and Flattery; Nay, but the Prophet of God goes to meet with him with a Sharp Rebuke: Sharp Rebukes were meetest for him, meter nor (than) any other thing, even the best of them all. But here the Holy Ghost marks the Sharp Rebuke he gat from the Prophet. We hear nothing of what Return he gave to the Prophet; but he took with it. It is a Rare Thing to see a Mean Person to take with a Reproof from a Prophet: But much more to see a King acknowledge & say, Indeed, I am Guilty. I say it’s a Rare Thing to see a Mean Person to take with a Reproof; But here a King takes with a Rebuke. Them that stands out against God’s Reproof, God will give over to Reprove them till the Day of Judgment, and then the Lybel will be altogether put in their Hand, and see who will Refuse them. But here he takes a Reproof Sweetly from God. O bless him that he is Wairing (spending) a Reproof upon You, and bid him now tell on, and say, What more has he now to Reprove me of? O! the Heart of Man is so Proud that it will not take with Conviction and Reproof. We say it again, The Heart of Man is so Proud that it will not take with Conviction, and the Reproof of God, without Humbling Grace.

But, Thirdly, The Third Thing shown of him, is this, He takes with his Reproof, and that is a Token of it, for he goes on to the Work of God, notwithstanding of the Prophet’s Reproving of him, he goes on I say, to the Work of Reformation: We shall say this General, wherever there is an Association with Wicked Men, they will forget Reformation, (5) until Association be broken again: Here he forgets Reformation, till the Association with Achab be broken, and then he goes on to Reformation. We shall say that one Word, our Sinful Association with the Malignant-Party in Scotland, not only has made us forget the Work of Reformation, but has shut the Door altogether, that none should go forward in a National-Reformation: And till this Association be quit, Ministers nor People will never set forward in Reformation again. And would ye know when the Reformation began to be at a stand or stay, it was that Day when we took the Malignant-Party by the Hand; and it has stood all this time; & till that be quit again, it will never be set forward, & when it is quit, it will set forward, and that by every one of you in your several Places & Stations; And then it will be said, them that did most withstand is now Removed out of the Way, and made to fly away; and then ye shall see nothing but Reformation going on. O if it were come to that.

But, Fourthly, There is the Reformation itself, which is set out in these Three. (1.) It is set out in the Body of the Land the Generality, or Body of the Land: What does he to them? Verse 4, He went through the People and brought them back to the LORD God of their Fathers: They were like Run-away-Servants; yea not only so, but like the Levite’s Concubine that had Departed from her Husband & had played the Whore; And so he brings them back again to the Lord. But now you see what is the Duty or Office of a King, to bring back the People of God to God. Wa, What has the King done, and these Rulers? Wa, Their Exercise in these Kingdoms has been to Debauch Folk from their Obedience to God; And in a word, it has been to Exauctorate (deprive) that Authority of God, and Introduce and Heighten Man’s Authority; and has not that been that which all of them has been Carrying on? Let the Commands of Men be Great with you, and (6) the Commands of God be Small; This they have Employed themselves all into: But never a word of the Commands of God, nor his Authority. But, I say, this is the Work and Matter he Employs himself into; He goeth through Jacob, & he bringeth the People back again to God, like Run-away-Servants, or the Levite’s Concubine. They had been away: But now this Holy King, he Employs all his Power to bring them back again to God; and he thinks them Good Subjects, if they be Good Saints. But what is Obedience to him in regard of Obedience to God; But the contrary is said and done by the Men of this Generation: We are sure we see this plain from the Scripture, or Word of God, that this is a part of the Office of a King: And he that hath no Regard to this, ought no more to be Esteemed a King, but a Tyrant and Enemy to God.

But, Secondly, A second part of Reformation is done upon the Civil State, What doth he there? He sets Judges in every City of Judah &c. We will get Customers anew in all the Cities of Judah: But few Judges, more for Exactions and Customs, nor (than) for Judgment. Now undoubtedly as he was a Holy Man himself, so he set Holy and Good Judges in every City. For every King will choose out such Judges as himself is. Officers and Judges will tell you what a Nature the Kings are of. Soldiers and Curates shews what’s the Disposition their Prince is of. Then we may know what is the Nature of the King and Court. A Holy King will have Holy Judges that will give Justice and Equity to all; But now we need not look for Equity and Justice; if they would let us alone with their Injuries. Now I say, that is the second part of Reformation: (viz.) in the Civil or State, he gives Holy Judges, and he has a particular Exhortation to them, when he puts them in their Office, Verse 6. And, 1. It is Remarkable, that (which) he says to them in the Entry of their (7) Office: Any Body would have thoughts that he would have said, See well to my Prerogatives and Privileges, let not them be Wronged; Let not the Royal-Rents be Decreased; See that the Crown-Rights be no Way Diminished. These and the like ordinarily Kings Recommend at first. But what says he? He said to the Judges, Take heed what Ye do, for Ye judge not for Man, but for God the LORD, Who is with You in Judgment. Remember this, I commit Judgment to You, but the Judgment is not mine, it is the LORD’s; and Remember what ye do, is for God; Then do it as if God Himself would do it; Do it as if He were Sitting there. Now where is there any Judges that does this Way? And where is there a King that Desires them to do so, or to do this Way? Says Kings now, Ye man Judge for Me, ye have your Office of Men, and therefore Judge for Me. But says he, I give you Authority of Judging; but Remember ye must Answer to God for your Judgment, for God is with you in Judgment; That is to say, He is present with you to Help you if ye do Right, and to be Displeased with you if ye Judge Wrong; He is Present to Protect you, if ye do Right: But to be a Witness, & to Punish you, if you do Wrong: That’s the Thing he Commends unto them. Now I have given you Power, and set you in a Capacity to Judge Matters Rightly; Then see ye well to it: For the Judgment is not Mine, but the LORD’s; And if ye Judge Rightly, God will be with you in it; God he will Preserve you and Protect you: But if otherways, no. But there is one word in the Exhortation before we proceed to the Third Thing, Wherefore let the Fear of God be on you, for there is no Respect of Persons with God, &c. O but this were Necessary, if every King when he puts a Judge upon the Bench, would give him such an Exhortation as this when he Sits down, saying, Take heed to your Selves, let the Fear of God be upon you. It (8) is even but in Vain to speak to Men, if there be not something of the Fear of God on them to make them do Rightly and Well; So if there be a Principle of the Fear of God in them, then an Exhortation may be Useful, and Profitable: But let the Fear of the LORD prevail, and if that make you not do Right, it will not be all the Exhortations of Men will do it otherways, or if that be not, ye will slip evermore when ye have the Opportunity, and ye will never be Sicker (strong) in Good.

But now let the Fear of the LORD be on you, for there is no Iniquity in God; He will do no Iniquity himself, and the Unjust Counsel he will not allow of; So this is one Thing that every one would Remember and look to. There is no Iniquity in our God, and ye need not think that when ye do Wrong in Judgment that he will allow of it: For all Processes and Judgments that have been given out by Men, will be seen by God at the long run; For He is like a Great King that must Survey every Thing. It’s true Kings now never looks to the Judgments that Inferior Officers does, if they be according to Law. So then, he says to them, see to it, God will be with you in Judgment; It will be seen by God how ye have judged, and according to the Judgment that ye have given, God will give you Judgment. Now God is no Accepter of Persons. What is that? Give every one his Due, for God will give every one his Due. Think you God will spare a King more nor (than) a Beggar? No, for all are his Creatures, he hath set up a King there: Therefore Kings are more bound to him than others. Said Christ who ought to Love most? It was answered, He to whom God has given most. So he that has gotten most Tokens of God’s Love, he should be most Holy; And they to whom less has been given, less is expected of: And so they should be most Holy who Command others; For with God there is no Respect of Persons, and so there ought to be no Respect of Persons with Judges. Folk thinks (9) that Kings are above Laws: But let any Man shew us that Kings are above Laws, either from Scripture or Reason. God hath said it, that with him there is no Respect of Persons; So this will bring a King in under Law, as well as others. Then he who Judges for God must say that if he say Rightly: Even this with us, there ought to be no Respect of Persons. Indeed we will add this one Word, which is necessary to be added in this Case: There is no Body that Rules, but they will be liable to Failings in Ruling: And therefore if all Faults of Rulers should be exactly looked to, there would be none who would Rule a Day to an end, but we might find Faults in them, for which to Depose them ere Night: But we will say this, it is one thing to be a Failing in Infirmity, and another thing to be in a constant Course of Wickedness, and Enmity against God. The first may be spared; but not the last. Then look where we are now: But whatever ye think of this, it is the Truth of God which we are Declaring unto you at this time.

But, Thirdly, The Third Thing in the Reformation is anent the Priest-hood; So that in effect, he takes up the whole Land, (1.) The Body of the People, (2.) The State, or Civil-Magistrate. (3.) The Priest-hood, or the Ministry: And so a Perfect Reformation should go on through the Three altogether. Let every one bring it to his own Heart, Kings and Rulers must Reform without in the Land, under, or in a time of Reformation: But will ye not Reform your Selves, verse 8, He appointed Levites and Priests in every City, and the Chief of the Fathers for the Judgment of the LORD, and for Controversies, when they Returned to Jerusalem. Verse 9, He Charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the Fear of the LORD faithfully, and with a Perfect Heart. This was the Great Judicatory that they had in the Land; It was made up with Priests and Law-men; (10) There was some Priests in it, and some Civil-men, and they judged together in the LORD’s Matters; The Matters of the LORD belonged to them, to wit, the Priests. And the King’s Matters belonged to the others: But all was to judge according to the Word of God. We shall say this one word more, there is one Great Thing Folk stumbles at in that Paper that Kings ought to Rule or Judge according to the Judicial Law; and that these Laws Kings ought to Rule by, ought to be according to the Word of God, And think ye this a Great Wrong? The People of God was ruled Two Hundred Years and upwards by this Law only, and can any be fitter to be a Law-Giver than God? Have we Laws, have we them from Men or of God? If of Men, then they had them of God. Then the God of Nature, or the God that Created All is far better to Teach Laws than Man that is under God. We say stumble not that it is said, the Laws of God ought to be the Laws of the Land; For it will never be Well with you (especially the Mein (retinue) of the Land) till the Laws of God be the Laws of the Land; Then we will not be fashed (troubled) with Great Ones to Oppress: For when they have Laws to make, they never do things but Oppress the Poor. But when the Law of God speaks, it will give Right to the Poor as well as to the Great. So the Law of God should be our Law. Where the Law of God is received (is) where Christians are; Let Christians go to the Law which God has found out; and let Heathens and Turks go to the Law that Nature finds out.

Now they Judge in the Matters of the LORD, and in Controversies, &c. For Understanding this better: There was a Great Court at Jerusalem, and all the Difficult Matters came there. There were Courts and Judicatories through the Land, and there was Judges of Hundreds, and other Officers; and Judges of Thousands throughout the Land. But all Hard Matters they brought to Jerusalem. And (11) now he sets Judges to receive these Hard Matters that they could not Judge among themselves, and they gave Judgment in these Matters.

Now the Last Thing (and we will not go to speak any more) is their Charge he gives them. Verse 9, And he Charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the Fear of the LORD. There is a great Necessity to be Earnest with them that Kings commit Judgment to, that they be Faithful; There is much need for it now: For if Kings’ Laws be seen to, there will be little Regard what come of the Law of God; We know this by Experience; All the Supplications of this Poor Land has been Rejected, and the Laws of Man well seen to. We thought to begin to speak to all these particularly; But First, A Word of his Delivery; He comes in Peace to his House. Why does the Holy Ghost Mark this? If ye Observe the Chapter before, he was in a Dangerous Battle, where he had a Sore Assault; They set upon him for the King of Israel, and the LORD Delivered him out of that. And so the Holy Ghost Marks this, He came Home in Peace. And the Holy Ghost will have us to Mark this of it, that notwithstanding of this Sinful Plight he was in, in Associating with Achab, yet God Graciously brought him off. He Associated with Achab, and God might have letten him fall with him; Yet Achab fell, and he is safe; The Battle is Lost, and he Returns in Peace. We shall say this one Word, Whoever hath gotten such special Deliverances from God (especially when under Slips) they would consider Narrowly in their Hearts what they have been Doing: Wherefore they have met with such Deliverances. But ye will say to us, We were not in a Sinful Association; We were not Associated with Sinful, Wicked, and Profane Men. But we shall say this one Word, We were Associate in a Sinful Union; And so there was a Sinful Association with an Evil Course. Now that many Fell, was it not Just (12) and Holy Dealing in God that some were preserved in such a Fall as that. O! Consider well wherefore it was that God has so Remarkably preserved you, especially when He might have taken away your Life. Now there are severals here that have had a part of such a Deliverance as this, not only once, but once and again. O! Great Deliverances has He given to some, even when they were Associate with a Sinful Cause: Then Mind now and Remember wherefore it is, that God has preserved you; It is to Repent of Sin: Yet more, it is that ye may be ready at a Good Turn again when He calls for it at your Hands; But beware of this, tho’ He let you go in a Sinful Action once, beware of the next time by no more joining in Sinful Associations; For Sinful Associations is ever Dangerous. Whatever the ungodly meet with in them, yet certainly the Godly never Thrives in such Associations. Now this is the Thing that we would say, Let every Man that has a part in such Remarkable Deliverances, say, Wherefore hast Thou preserved me? Wherefore is it that I have Life? Is it a Blessing? But I think not so much of it as I should, that I have it so wonderfully. Is it not for some End, even that I may Employ it some Way for God’s Glory; Go back and ask, Wherefore it is so Remarkable He gave you your Life when in Danger, and while ye were in a backsliding Course, and while ye were associated in a Sinful Way; and when ye were involved in a Course with the Deadly and Destroying Enemies. Consider this therefore, Wherefore has God given you this Life? Say, Wherefore hast Thou preserved this Life? Is it that I may be for Thee? and Employ it for Thee?

The next Thing to be considered is, The Prophet’s Reproof: He is an Misleard Prophet, Would any Body think that he should speak to a King? Ay, but we must be Faithful in Reproving Kings as well as others. Modesty is Ruine here. (13) Modesty in such a Case is Ruine to Rulers: For if we had gone and told them their Sins, they had not gone on in such a Course as they did. Silence or Modesty here, it is not a Virtue but a Vice: It is but Unfaithfulness to God and Man. Might he not have letten him come Home: Nay. Why? Will he make him Sad? Why will he make him Sadder and Sadder? There is a most be. Why are you Sad? If it be Affliction you are Sad for, ye must not be so, that is not the thing we ought to be Sad for: There is Sin you must be Sad for: So ye would think Folk should be spared that is in Affliction; Nay, but spare them not, for then they will best hear Reproofs when under Affliction, never better nor (than) then. Now the thing he says to him is this, Shouldest thou Help the ungodly, and Love them that Hate the LORD? How fit is this to be applied to our Times? See hence whoever Helps the ungodly is in the Fault. They now talk Good Men are upon both Parties, Whom shall we Condemn or Follow? We shall say this one word, be they Good or Evil, if they Love them that Hate the LORD, and Help the ungodly, they are to be reproved; See who does such are on the Wrong Side, and to be reproved. Shouldest thou Help the ungodly, and Love them that Hate the LORD? Should ye Help them Higher for all the Little Good they have done with their Power which they have gotten already; They have too much of it already. O! that all the ungodly in the World, were many steps Lower nor (than) they are. What will they do then when ye have set them up? They will set up Wickedness with it. O! Help God and the Godly; But beware to Help up the ungodly; They are High enough already, and there is none who will Help to Raise or Hold them up but God will Reprove them; for they can do Nothing when they are raised up, but Wickedness. This Scripture speaks plainly, Shouldest thou Help the ungodly? We shall say no more of (14) it but this, Whoever has Helped the ungodly at this Time are worthy of a Reproof. We are in Two Parties now: There is one Party, the LORD and the Godly; And the other Party, the ungodly. See what Party ye will take now. Shouldest thou Love them that Hate the LORD, and Help the ungodly? Be what he will to you. Jehosophat was joined in Affinity with Achab, and so came of it. But be who he will, Father, or Mother, or your King, should ye Love and Help him that Hates the LORD? We shall only say this word, and take heed to it, for it is the Word of Truth, Enmity and Hatred against God, cuts off all Obligation. Indeed we will say that, tho’ we were in the nearest Obligation, that is to say, even in that Relation betwixt a Father and a Son; Yet in this Case it is cut off: The Holy Ghost says, That his Father and Mother shall thrust him through while he is Prophesying. We say this, then Hated of God takes away all near and far off Obligation, for if they go on to Hate the LORD, and to Blaspheme the Name of God affrontedly, and Oppose the Truths of God, and with Malice and Hostility Oppress the Work of God; We may not Help and Join with them: If any Man can give better Doctrine nor (than) this, he may; But he cannot: But Remember he brings it not from the Scriptures of God, if he gives you that which is contrary to this; but we shall leave it, Amen.