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grace carried on in them by Jesus Christ. We may take it up in these two.
1. An apparently hopeless encounter they are led to by him, worm Jacob thrashing the mountains. What a hopeless like encounter is a worm thrashivg a mountain ! so hopeless like are the encounters the people of God have to make in their way to the eternal rest. These thrashers are certainly thrashers in hope, 1 Cor. ix. 10. But the naked eye cannot discover the ground of hope in it: it is faith only which shews it hopeful, while sight represents it as a hopeless case ; and therefore they must close their eyes, and thrash in faith, as Abraham did, Rom. iv. 19, 20.
We take up this hopeless like encounter in five things.
1st., The Lord lays in his people's way mountains of difficulties quite above their strength; difficulties which they look to, as a worm to a mountain before it: 2 Cor. 1. 8, “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life.” However plain the way to hell be, the way to heaven will be a mountainous way, in the experience of all that travel it: they will never want mountains in their way, till they come to the hill of God.
2dly, They must not go about the mountains in their way, shifting the difficulties which the Lord calls them to; but they must make their way over them, thrashing them down, Micah iv. 13, "Arise and thrash, 0 daughter of Zion : for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass, and thou shalt beat in pieces many people, &c. If they offer to go about one mountain, they will be sure to meet with a higher in their way. Peter tried it, denying his Master, and found it so; encountering another as high above the former, as the anger of God is above that of the creature ; and which was like to crush him, Matth. xxvi. 75, “He went out, and wept bitterly.
3dly, Therefore worm Jacob falls a-thrashing the mountains, combating the difficulties which the Lord lays in his way. He puts on a brow for a bargain, and resolutely bestirs his weak hands and feet, thrusting forward maugre all opposition, Gen. xxxii. 26; Matth. xi. 12. For there is a spirit in worm Jacob more daring and venturous than ever was in any unbelieving hero; a spirit for thrashing mountains, while they did but scatter molehills, Numb. xiv. 24; Prov. xvi. 32.
4thly, They continue the combating of difficulties resolutely and patiently. Thrashing is a continued action, consisting of repeated strokes. It takes some time to thrash a sheaf; how much more to
thrash a mountain ? It is the ruin of many that they are not able to endure; if a stroke or two would do the business, they would bring their matters to a good account; but they have no heart to be thrashers. “But let patience bave her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing," James i. 4. “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved,” Matth. xxiv. 13.
Lastly, Worm Jacob has many mountains to thrash. One would be enough, we would think, for the worm ; but there is a plurality of them. The truth is, this world is full of mountains to the people of God; and when they have thrashed one, they will have another to fall to, till they be out of this mountainous country. Having passed one difficulty, they will get another to grapple with, till they be within the gates of the city. So they must have a thrashing lifetime of it till they come there.
2. A surprising success; even as surprising as a worm's thrashing and beating the mountains small to dust, and thrashing them away.
Such will be the issue of the encounter which the people of God now have with their difficulties in their way through the world ; for which the text is plain. We take it up in these two. They will have,
1st, Partial successes in their way, very surprising ; surprising to others and to themselves; Psal. cxxvi. 1, 2, “ When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.” What mountains of difficulties were in David's way to the kingdom! He thrashed long at them, and they never appeared to give way; nay he was like to be crushed with them, saying, “ One day I shall perish by the hand of Saul.” But see the surprising success, Psal. xviii. entitled, " A Psalm of David,-in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul;" wherein, after recapitulating the various difficulties he had to encounter with, he particularly mentions the happy deliverances he met with, and the surprising manner of the same. Some mountains God's people are kept thrashing at all their days, particularly the mount of corruption; and they never fall quite down till death. But, as a pledge for the time to come, God makes some mountains now and then fall down before the worm Jacob; where with he is surprised, and transported with wonder, how it has come to pass : Mark xvi. 4, 5, " And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away ;-and they were affrighted."
2dly, A total success at the end of their way, which will swallow them up in surprise and eternal wonder: 1 John iii. 2, " Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is.” When the mystery is finished, the web cut out, it will appear an admirable piece. There will not be left then the least vestige of all the mountains that stood between heaven and them : the thrashed mountains will then be blown away with the wind; and they will lay by the flail, as an instrument they have no more use for.
OBJECTION. But have not others, as well as worm Jacob, mountains of difficulty in their way, which they become masters of too at length ? ANSWER. This world is so mountainous, that none can get through it without meeting mountains in their way : carnal men make a shift to creep through some of them; but they can thrash none of them, as worm Jacob doth; they want his head-staff, John xv. 5,
“ Without une ye can do nothing." They creep into others of them, and nestle in them; the mountains of their corruptions, which in a special manner stand between heaven and them; and at length they will be eternally buried under them.
USE 1. Here is a touchstone for trial of true Cliristians and worthy communicants, worm Jacob thrashing the mountains.
1st, They have a heart and spirit for thrashing mountains in their way to heaven. They are peremptory and resolute to break through them, without exception, as men that must be there, must not perish: Matth. xi. 12, “ The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” Though they have long thrashed in vain to their own sense, they are resolute to hold on; liko Paul, “ pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” Phil. iii. 14. This casts the delicate and soft-hearted in this case, that are not for thrashing mountains: they are for the easier tasks, but have no heart nor hand for that. These I think are the “ fearful," Rev. xxi. 8, like the uubelieving spies and people in the wilderness. Take heed here how ye stand disposed,
(1.) To a vain world; whether there is in you a heart to row against that stream or no; Rom. xii. 2, " Be ye not conformed to this world : but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind," &c. If ye have no heart for it, but must go along with it; be ye young or old, ye are no good Christians, Gal. vi. 14, “ The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." And young communicants, leaving that gap open, make naughty and worthless old ones after.
(2.) To the sin that most easily besets you. Have you no heart to thrash that mountain ? ye have not the spirit of worm Jacob, who is one“ that keeps himself from his iniquity," Psal. xviii. 23; and ye will be buried under it at length ; like the young man, who was grieved at Christ's discourse about self-denial and the cross, and went away from him and never returned, Mark x. 21, 22.
(3.) To the crook in your lot. Have you no heart to set yourselves to a Christian way of bearing it, but must needs have it evened to your mind ? ye have not the spirit of worm Jacob; for the Lord has said,
“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,” Matth. xvi. 24.
2dly, Yet they are but worms in their own eyes, an unequal match for the least of the mountains; 2 Cor. iii. 5, “ We are not sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves: but our sufficieney is of God." This casts the proud legalist, that minds nothing but binding himself to duty, reckoning himself man enough for the duties of Christianity.
The sum of this mark is, the Christian communicant is resolute and peremptory for doing all, yet convinced that he is sufficient for nothing.
USE 2. Here is likewise a ground of full comfort to such. Let not the height, rockiness, nor bulk of the mountains discourage thee; nor yet the felt unsuccessfulness of thy attempts hitherto. God has said it, “ Worm Jacob, thou shalt thrash the mountains and beat them small." Be not afraid ; only believe.
Use 3. Lastly, Here is, moreover, a strong inducement to all to come to Christ: he will make you “thrash the monntains, and beat them small." Come ye that are wandering on the mountains of vanity, like to be worried on the mountains of prey, nestling in the mountain of corruption, unable to get over the mountains of difficulty before you ; come to Christ, and ye shall “thrash the mountains, and beat them small, and shall make the hills as chaff.”
III. Thirdly, I shall account for this mystery, worm Jacob thrashing the mountains of difficulties in his way, and thrashing them away quite and clean. How can this be?
1. God has said it, and therefore it cannot fail; " Thou shalt thrash the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.” Compared with Numb. xxiii. 19, “ God is not a man, that he should lie ; neither the Son of man, that lie should repent : hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ? He speaks things into being, and they must start out of the womb of nothing, or of not being, at his word, which calls them forth, Rom. iv. 17. There is as much for worm Jacob's thrashing and beating away the mountains as there was for making
the world, and all the mountains in it; Psal. xxxiii. 9, “He said and it was.” (Heb.) Shall not his word that said them into being, be as effectual to say them away again? « Thus saith the Lord,” is enough to insure the accomplishment of the hardest things prophesied.
2. The glory of his grace, which is the great design of the whole mystery of God, necessarily requires it. What does he intend by the mystery of Christ, but “the glory of his grace" ? Epli. i. 6; to shew the “exceeding riches” of it, chap. ii. 7. Therefore he has chosen the way that leads straight to that point, Rom. iv. 16, “Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace.” The worm is despicable in itself; but being the subject of glorious grace, if it should miscarry in its attempts, the glory of grace is sunk, as the precious loading with the ship cast away. Wherefore, that his grace inay be glorified, if it be in a worm thrashing mountains, those mountains must needs be thrashed away by that worm. Though that sacred fire be but like a spark in the midst of a sea of corruption, it must not only be preserved in, but dry up that sea quite and clean.
3. By an unalterable decree, there must be a conformity betwixt the little worm and the great worm Jacob, the little one's KinsmanRedeemer; Rom. viii. 29, “For whom he did foreknow, he also diil predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren.” Now, the great worm, the man Christ, a worm and no man, (Psal. xxii. 6), has encountered mountains, and thrashed them away. Where are the four monarchies, the most towering mountains that ever set up their heads on the earth? The chief worm Jacob has thrashed them away to chaff, which is away with the wind, Dan. ii. 35. The mountains stood before him through the world, with all the fastness that human learning and the power of the sword could give : but by his few fishermen he thrashed them away; and the prophecy is fulfilled, Psal. lxxii. 16, “There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon, and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth." Now many mountains stand before the little worm: but where will that conformity to heaven's beloved pattern be, if they also do not thrash them away?
4. The little worm Jacob is in reality but a member of the great one, Jesus Christ.
Take away that, and worm Jacob is as insignificant for thrashing of mountains, as any worm that crawls on the earth, John xv. 5, “Without me ye can do nothing." Fix that, and worm Jacob has a kind of derived omnipotence, ver. 7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye