James Smith, 1861
"I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your tin." Isaiah 1:25
In the dealings of the Lord with Israel, we have a pretty
clear representation of his dealings with his people in general. All was
based on mercy, and was intended to display the holiness, justice, and grace
of the Divine nature. If they sinned — he corrected them; if they repented
and returned to him — he pardoned them. While they continued obstinate — he
continued to strike them; until at length, he is determined to overcome, and
special mercy steps in. Thus it was in Isaiah's time, and the Lord
said, "I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your
dross and remove all your tin." Thus the Lord, at times, speaks to us.
The WORK to Be Effected.PURIFICATION.
"I will thoroughly purge away your dross," which may represent our worldliness, formality, and unbelief; which like dross, mixes with the pure metal and debases it.
"I will remove all your tin," or
self-righteousness, which like tin is light, glittering, and base — not to
be compared with pure silver. When the ore is put into the fire — the
dross rises, spreads over the metal, obscures it, and causes disturbance.
Just so, when the Lord puts his people into the furnace:
the hidden corruptions of the heart rise,
they spread over the whole soul,
they obscure all our evidences,
they burden and deject the spirit,
they disturb and distress the mind,
they afford matter for Satan to work upon,
and awaken fears and inquiries.
The purifying process is at times very severe, and we
require to be kept long in the furnace. While passing through it, we
often draw wrong conclusions, we write bitter things against ourselves, and
are tempted to give all up for lost. There is so much dross, that we
conclude there is nothing else, and corruption rises so thick and fast, that
we doubt whether we have the grace of God at all. But as painful as
is the experience — it is necessary, it is beneficial, and
will glorify the great Purifier at length.
The AGENCY Employed."I will turn MY HAND upon you." The Lord purifies us with his own hand. By his hand, we understand his wisdom and power combined — or his special and particular providence. His hand sustains, carries, supplies, and blesses his people. It produces, directs, and uses afflictions, trials, and sufferings for our good. As his grace is set upon sanctifying us — his providence kindles the fire, and then comes trouble, trial, and affliction; these act on the soul as fire on the ore — and separate the precious from the vile!
Mark how he represents it, "I will turn my hand
upon you." With a turn of the hand — he changes our circumstances, and
brings us into the severest trials. He does it easily — and he does
it effectually too. He purges thoroughly. He purges away all
the dross — and takes away all the tin. He makes thorough
work of i — and will get great glory by it.
The Object in View.He intends to make us PURE, like pure gold or choice silver — free from all dross.
Bright and shining — that we may catch and reflect the rays of his glory.
Beautiful and ornamental — that we may be fit to adorn the house not made with hands.
Valuable and useful — answering his wise and holy purposes, being highly esteemed by him.
Righteous and faithful — answering to the requirement of his law, and honorably maintaining our profession.
In a word, he intends to make us pure and holy, like his own beloved Son — thus answering our prayers, accomplishing his own gracious purpose, and fulfilling his great and glorious promises.
Beloved, let us expect trials and afflictions. They are appointed for us. The hand of God will bring them upon us. Let us therefore be prepared for them, that they may not come upon us unawares.
See the cause of many of our trials: there is dross and tin which needs removing — and nothing but such trials and troubles will remove them. God does not afflict willingly — but only when circumstances call for it. Nor are afflictions sent in wrath — but in love, showing the value that he sets upon us, and his determination to remove our dross from us.
Observe the design he has in view — to purify and thereby render us more valuable, bright, and beautiful. It is his will that we should be sanctified — therefore it is his will that we should be afflicted and tried. Let us look upon our afflictions — as coming from God. It is his turning his hand upon us. His wisdom plans, and his power executes — all his designs. Troubles do not spring out of the dust — but are sent by God for a purpose worthy of himself. Let us then seek to hasten the end intended.
As soon as the metal is refined — the fire will be drawn. As soon as we are purified and made white — our afflictions will terminate. Let us not then despise the Lord's chastening — as though it was not necessary; nor let us faint — as if it was unnecessarily severe. For whom the Lord loves — he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives. Hear God's purpose, and mark his end, "I will bring the third part through the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The Lord is our God.'" Zechariah 13:9