James Smith, 1858
"The Lord will do great things." Joel 2:21
Great threatenings against sin, are often accompanied with great promises to the penitent. And great judgments are often followed with great mercies.
The judgments had been experienced, and Israel is now encouraged to hope for the mercies. It is the sun breaking out after the storm, the repose of the calm after the tempest. "Fear not, O land, be glad and rejoice, for the Lord will do great things." He had done great things for Israel before, and he will do great things for them again.
The Lord loves to do great things, thereby manifesting his great power, great wisdom, and great resources. The great God should be appealed to — for great mercies, great deliverances, and great gifts.
It is a great thing to save sinners — for sin is such a terrible evil, that nothing but infinite merit can atone for its guilt, and omnipotence alone can crush its power. Salvation therefore is God's greatest work, and the work that brings the greatest glory to his most holy name.
But God not only saves sinners — but the greatest sinners. Yes, he appears to delight in saving the vilest of mankind. He never refuses to save anyone, who comes to him believing his word, and willing to be saved freely by his sovereign grace.
But he often arrests great transgressors, as he did Manasseh and Saul of Tarsus. He casts seven devils out of one, and a legion out of another, and he has so worded the invitations and promises of his word that the greatest sinners may take the greatest encouragement.
He not only saves sinners, and great sinners — but he saves an almost infinite number of sinners. The saved will be a multitude that no man can number. O what a work to save sinners, and great sinners, in all ages, in all places, and under all circumstances! But such is God's work, and he saves all freely, easily, and with an everlasting salvation.
He never fails when he undertakes to save a sinner — but does it completely. He was never yet frustrated in his design, or effectually hindered in his work. He has conquered Satan, destroyed death, and reduced everything into subserviency to his will. He now changes the heart, renews the will, and transforms the character of every one he saves. He not only works for us — but he works in us to will and to do of his good pleasure. O the multitudes that surround his throne, out of every nation, country, people, and tongue — all saved from sin, perfected in holiness, and employed in glorifying his name forever! He has done great things!
It is a great thing, to bring the greatest good out of the greatest evil — but the Lord does that; for where sin abounded, grace does much more abound; that as sin has reigned unto death, so might grace reign through righteousness, and eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. What is worse than the wicked, cruel, and malicious wrath of men? But he will make the wrath of men to praise him, and the remainder of that wrath will he restrain.
It is a great work, to make all things work together for the good of his people — but he does this. The enmity of Joseph's brethren, raises him to be governor, general of Egypt. The bad conduct of Jacob's sons, is over-ruled to provide for his needs, and make his last days his best. But time would fail me to enumerate instances, there are proofs on every hand, and in the experience of every one of us. Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things; and blessed be his glorious name forever, and let the whole earth be filled with his glory, Amen and Amen.
If the Lord will do great things — it will bring great glory to his holy name, great confusion to Satan his chief foe, and afford great comfort to his poor, tried, and tempted people. If the Lord will do great things, here is great encouragement for the Lord's ministers, Sunday school teachers, and all who are employed in the Lord's work. If God will do great things — then we should ask him to do great things, expect him to do great things, and never be satisfied without great things.
O infinitely blessed God, do great things in my heart, subduing my corruptions, sanctifying my passions, purging my conscience, ruling my will, and stamping the image of Jesus on every power and faculty of my soul!
Blessed Savior, do great things by my instrumentality, converting great sinners, and multitudes of them; and raising up a holy, devout, energetic, and active people, to work in your cause, bless your world, and show forth your praise!