Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. TRUTHS OF PERSONAL CONDUCT.
1. The obstinate offender and his doom. (Ver. 1.) The repeated complaint against Israel was that they were a "stiff-necked people." Self-willed, haughty, persistent, defying rebuke and chastisement, is the habit described. It invites judgment. "When lesser warnings will not serve, God looks into his quiver for deadly arrows." They who will not bend before the gentle persuasions of God's Holy Spirit must feel the rod. Men may make themselves outlaws from the kingdom of God.
2. Wisdom and virtue inseparable in conduct. (Ver. 3.) So much so that the same word may occasionally do duty for either notion. Thus the French mean by one who is "sage" one who is chaste and virtuous. The effects are alike. Joy is given to parents by the sage conduct of children; and vice is seen to be folly by the waste and want it brings in its train (comp. Proverbs 6:26; Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 28:7).
3. The dishonesty of flattery. (Ver. 5.) It may be designed to deceive, and is then coloured with the darkest hue of treachery. Or it may be undesigned in its effects. But in either case, the web of flattering lies becomes a snare in which the neighbour stumbles to his fall (comp. Proverbs 26:24, 25, 28). The kiss of the flatterer is more deadly than the hate of a foe. "When we are most praised for our discernment, we are apt to act most foolishly; for praise tends to cloud the understanding and pervert the judgment."
4. Delusive and genuine joy. (Ver. 6.) The serpent is concealed amidst the roses of illicit pleasures; a canker is at the core of the forbidden fruit. A "shadow darkens the ruby of the cup, and dims the splendour of the scene." But ever there is a song in the ways of God. See the example of Patti and Silas even in prison (Acts 16:25). "Always there are evil days in the world; always good days in the Lord" (Augustine, on Psalm 33).
II. THE INFLUENCE OF PERSONAL GOODNESS ON SOCIAL AND PUBLIC WEAL.
1. The general happiness is dependent on the conduct of individuals. (Ver. 2; comp. Proverbs 28:12, 28.) For society is a collection of individuals. "It is no peculiar conceit, but a matter of sound consequence, that all duties are by so much the better performed, by how much the men are more religious from whose abilities the same proceed. For if the course of political affairs cannot in any good sort go forward without fit instruments, and that which fitteth them be their virtues, let polity acknowledge itself indebted to religion, godliness being the chiefest, top, and well-spring of all true virtue, even as God is of all good things." "Religion, unfeignedly lived, perfecteth man's abilities unto all kinds of virtuous services in the commonwealth" (Hooker, 'Eccl. Pol.,' 5:1).
2. The effect of just administration and of bribery. (Ver. 4.) The best laws are of no avail if badly administered. God's throne is founded on justice (Psalm 89:14). And this only can be the foundation of national stable polity and of the common weal "We will sell justice to none," says the Magna Charta. The theocracy was overthrown in the time of Samuel by the corruption of his sons. The just administration of David "bore up the pillars" of the land (2 Samuel 8:15). The greed of Jehoiakim again shook the kingdom to its foundations (Jeremiah 22:18-19). Righteousness alone exalteth a nation.
3. Justice to the poor. (Ver. 7.) The good man enters into the feelings of others, and makes the lot of the oppressed, in sympathy and imagination, his own. The evil and hard-hearted man, looking at life only from the outside, treats the poor as dumb driven cattle, and easily becomes the tyrant and the oppressor. Peculiarly, sympathy, consideration, compassion for the lowly and the poor, have been infused into the conscience of the world, and made "current coin" by the example and spirit of the Redeemer. - J.
I. HUMAN DISLOYALTY. Man is found (or finds himself) at enmity with God; he does not reverence, love, honour, serve, him. He owes everything to his Maker and Preserver and generous Benefactor; but he has not paid his great debt, and now he is estranged in spirit, and his life is one of disloyalty and rebellion.
II. DIVINE SUMMONS TO RETURN. God is saying, "Return unto me, and I will return unto you;" "Let the wicked forsake his way... and let him return unto the Lord." By many messengers, in many voices, God calls us to repentance and reconciliation.
III. HUMAN RECUSANCY. God calls, but men will not hearken or they will not heed. They either
(1) deliberately decline to listen; or they
(2) do listen without being seriously impressed; or they
(3) are impressed without coming to any right and wise decision; they linger and delay; they continually postpone; and every new procrastination makes indecision easier and delay more dangerous.
IV. DIVINE PATIENCE. God "bears long" with men. We see his merciful and wonderful patience when we look at:
1. The time during which he continues to them preservation and privilege. Through childhood and youth, through manhood and the days of decline, up to extreme old age, God continues to men his sustaining and preserving power, and all the fulness of Christian privilege; though all the while they are abusing his gift of life by retaining it for their own personal enjoyment, and his gift of opportunity by slighting, or despairing, or misusing it.
2. The various means he employs in order to reach and restore us.
(1) God invites men, through his Word, and through the Christian ministry, and by the voices of the home and of human friendship.
(2) He commands; he requires that all men should repent and believe.
(3) He warns.
(4) He reproves; he often reproves. "He that is often reproved;" and very commonly a disloyal heart is often rebuked of God. Time after time he receives the admonition of his fellows, or he suffers the penalty of his guilt. God makes him to understand that "the way of transgressors is hard;" the merciful hand of the Divine Father interposes many obstacles in the way of his children's ruin, that they may be stopped and may be led to return on their way. But sin does its fatal work of indurating the heart, of paralyzing the conscience, of blinding the eyes of the children of men; and the man who is "often rebuked" only "hardens his neck," and then comes the end -
V. SUDDEN AND IRREMEDIABLE RUIN.
1. Sometimes (perhaps frequently, in the case of those who are guilty of flagrant sin) the day of probation ends with startling suddenness: "They are brought into desolation in a moment." Death comes down upon them without any warning. In the full flow of iniquity their soul is that very night required of them, and they pass from guilt to judgment.
2. Commonly, the end comes without expectation, and so without preparation. Men are going on with the engagements and the indulgences of life; and they are expecting to go on indefinitely. Then comes the serious illness, the sick chamber, the medical attendant, the anxious inquiry, the unfavourable response, the solemn communication and the distressed and agitated soul has to say, "My hour is come, and I am not ready for its coming." - C.
Romans 1:26, etc.) to the various workings of the evil leaven in the soul. Here is a description of some of these "lusts."
I. SCOFFING. (Ver. 8.) Set on fire of hell, it inflames others, disturbs the peace of communities, produces failures and tumults in public life. But wisdom calms, and turns all things to the best. The scoffer, the malevolent critic of existing institutions, is a public pest; the judicious man, a public blessing. The one raises tumults, the other quells them.
II. CONTENTIOUSNESS. (Ver. 9.) It delights in dispute for dispute's sake. The man of this vice does not want to elicit truth, but to find fuel for his passion. Alternating between rage and ridicule, he uses words merely as weapons of offence and defence. Egotism is at the root of all his activity.
III. THE SANGUINARY TEMPER. (Ver. 10.) All hatred to the truth involves hatred to the truth speaker and the truth doer. Here lies the secret of all persecution and of all judicial murders. But in ourselves, whenever we detect the rising of resentment against him who exposes our faults or fallacies, we may find something of the dark temper of him "who was of the wicked one, and slew his brother" (1 John 3:12).
IV. WANT OF SELF-CONTROL. (Ver. 11.) The impetuous, unbridled temper, which explodes with wrath at the smallest provocation, or with ill-considered opinions. He is wise who knows when to hold his peace. We are not always to speak all we feel or think, but when we do speak should ever think what we say. We must remember that "there is a time to speak, and a time to keep silence." - J.
I. THE SENSELESSNESS OF SCORN. (Ver. 8.) To be of a scornful spirit, to bestow scornful looks, to use scornful language, - this is gross folly.
1. It is utterly unbecoming. Not one of us is so removed above his fellows as to be entitled to treat with entire disregard what they may have to say or what they propose to do.
2. The wisest men, and even the Wise One himself, think well to listen to what the humblest can suggest.
3. It leads to a blind opposition to true wisdom; for often wisdom is found with those in whom no one expects to discover it; even as the scornful Greek and the proud Roman found it in the despised teachers from Judaea.
4. It ends disastrously. It "brings a city into a snare," "sets a city in a flame." It refuses to consider the serious danger that is threatened, or it provokes to uncontrollable anger by its disdainfulness; and the end is discord, confusion, strife.
5. It deliberately neglects the one way of peace. A wise man who does not refuse to listen and to learn, who prefers to treat neighbours and even enemies with the respect that is their due, "turns away wrath," and saves the city from the flame. Scorn is thus a senseless thing in every light.
II. THE USELESSNESS OF CONTENTION. (Ver. 9.) We are not to understand that it is a vain or foolish thing to endeavour
(1) to enlighten the ignorant, or
(2) to convince the mistaken. Where there is an honest and loyal spirit, it may be of great service to do this. What is useless is
(3) to debate with the contentious. Nothing comes of it but the clatter of the tongue and the triumph of the complacent "fool." He may rage or he may laugh; he may passionately declaim or he may indulge in banter and in badinage, but he does not seek, and he will not find, the truth. He is no nearer to wisdom at the end than he was at the beginning. Time is wasted; the heart of the wise is disappointed; the way ward man is confirmed in his folly; - let him alone.
III. THE AIM OF THE UPRIGHT. This is twofold.
1. Peace. The wise man, who is the upright man, "turns away wrath;" and he objects to a contest with the contentious, because "there is no rest." Those in whom is the Spirit of Christ are always setting this before them as a goal to be reached; they speak and act as those that "make for peace." They feel that everything which can be should be avoided that makes for dissension and strife; they are the peacemakers, and theirs is the blessing of the children of God (Matthew 5:9).
2. Life. They (the upright) "seek the soul," or the life, of the man whom the bloodthirsty hate (Ver. 10). To "seek the soul" or the life of men is the characteristic of the good.
(1) They care, in thought and deed, for the preservation and the protection of human life; they seek the removal of all that threatens it.
(2) They care much for all that enlarges and ennobles human life - education, morality, sound discipline.
(3) They care most of all for that one thing which crowns human life, and may be said to constitute it - the return of the soul to God and its life in him. In this deepest and truest sense they "seek his soul;" for they are regarding and pursuing its spiritual and eternal welfare. - C.
Ecclesiastes 3:7). According to our individual temperament we need the one injunction or the other. There are few, however, of either sex or of any disposition who do not need to be urged to guard the door of the lip. This is one of those things in which we all offend in our time and in our way. Impatience most frequently leads to transgression; but there are other provocations - there are other occasions when the warning word is wanted. We should carefully command our tongue when there is in our mind -
I. THE IDEA OF ACHIEVEMENT. It is unwise to talk of what we are going to do as soon as it occurs to us to act. We may think ourselves capable or our circumstances favourable when, on further consideration or inquiry, we find that we are not equal to the task or that our position makes it impossible to us. We should think before we undertake.
II. THE THOUGHT OF IGNORANCE. Nothing but harm can come of counsel given in ignorance of any case before us. Either we persuade our friends and colleagues to take action which is unwise and will prove to be injurious and possibly disastrous; or we are at once corrected by those who know better, and we are ashamed. Do not go to the council without learning the facts and understanding the matter, or else wait well and learn patiently before you speak at all.
III. THE FEELING OF RESENTMENT. "A fool uttereth all his anger, but a wise man keepeth it back and stilleth it" (Revised Version; Proverbs 12:16). Nothing more distinctly marks the presence of wisdom or folly than the habit of speaking quickly or restraining speech under provocation. It is an unfailing criterion. The reasons for silence at such a time are obvious enough, and they should be strong enough.
1. Hasty speech is
(1) very likely indeed to be incorrect, imperfect, if not wholly wrong, for our judgment is sure to be disturbed and unhinged when our spirit is wounded;
(2) most likely to provoke our opponent to feel strongly and to strike severely, and thus the flood gates of strife are opened;
(3) unworthy of the wise and strong, lowering in the eyes of our best friends and in our own regard;
(4) condemned of God (James 1:19, 20).
2. Conscientious silence under provocation is
(1) an admirable victory over our lower nature (ch. 16:32);
(2) the way of peace in the council, in the home, in the Church;
I. THERE MUST BE THE FORCE OF EXAMPLE. (Ver. 12.) Especially in regard to truthfulness. Nothing is more easily caught than an example of untruthfulness, evasion, hypocrisy. Servants' manners reflect their masters' characters. The more conspicuous the station, the further the influence of the example extends.
II. THERE MUST BE RESPECT TO THE RULER AND JUDGE OF ALL. (Ver. 13.) He is no Respecter of persons; but he is the Protector of all, and the Judge between man and man. The distinctions of ruler and subject, of rank and rank, of class and class, are temporary; the common relation of all to God is spiritual and eternal.
III. THERE MUST BE REGARD TO THE LOWLY. (Ver. 14.) Must not the test of every government be at last this - What did it accomplish for the poor, for the burdened, for the slave and the oppressed? "Glorious" wars and additions of territory can never compensate for injustice at home; the renown of arms for a people's misery. The throne that is not propped by bayonets, but built upon a people's gratitude and loyalty, may defy the storms of revolution.
IV. DOMESTIC GOVERNMENT TEACHES THE SAME TRUTHS ON A SMALLER SCALE. (Vers. 15-17.)
1. There is the same need of firmness and discipline. Absolute liberty is licence. All our freedom is bounded by necessity. The good of the whole demands fixed law; and this must be observed in the household as in the body politic. A weakness in the administration of acknowledged law is fatal to the purity of the home, to the welfare of nations. Evil doers must be kept down; if their character cannot be changed, their power to work mischief must be taken from them by the unflinching administration of law. And lastly, firmness, so far from alienating, really wins the good will, the respect, and obedience of subjects in the petty commonwealth of home and in the larger sphere of the state. - J.
I. THE WANT OF COMMANDING RELIGIOUS TEACHING. The great prophets of Israel were the great instructors of the people. They declared Jehovah's living oracles; they made clear the eternal principles of the moral law; they forecast what must be the future under moral conditions. The Christian preacher has succeeded to the office of the Jewish prophet. Woe to the nation if the supply of preachers ceases! if, sunk in material interests, they are allowed to forget that the "Word of the Lord" lives and endures, and obedience to it must be the foundation of all private blessing, all public prosperity!
II. THE WANT OF FIRM POLICY AND CONDUCT. (Ver. 19.) There always will be a class more or less of "slaves," who must be governed, not by mere rhetoric or the appeal to feeling, but by the knowledge that words will be backed by deeds. God means what he says. The laws of nature are no mere abstract statements of truth; they are stern and solemn facts, which cannot be defied with impunity. And the lawless must understand that what ought to be shall be.
III. THE WANT OF CALM DELIBERATION. (Ver. 20.) Whether in private or in public life, this too may he a ruinous defect. Thus rash enterprises are begun, hostilities break out without warning, a lifelong alienation or the misery of a generation may spring from the passion or the pique of the moment.
IV. WANT OF DUE SEVERITY IN DISCIPLINE. (Ver. 21.) The exegesis of the verse certainly points to this meaning. Men are stung by the ingratitude or contumacy of those whom they had weakly petted, and whose faults they had nourished by their smiles. But human nature will only respond to just and true treatment; and injurious kindness will reap a thorny crop of ingratitude.
V. WANT OF SELF-CONTROL AND OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. (Vers. 22, 23.) (For the first, see Proverbs 15:18; Proverbs 28:25.) Wrath is the very hot bed of transgression and every "evil work." And self-esteem is a neighbour vice. So near are extremes in life: the moment we are highest in our own imagination we are really lowest in power, in position, in prospect. "He that would build lastingly must lay his foundation low. As man falls by pride, he recovers by humility." And the more God honours men, the more they should humble themselves. - J.
Proverbs 19:2.) Two things are clear:
1. That God has provided us with many sources of knowledge. We have, for materials to work with, a very complex and richly endowed nature; and we have, for materials to work upon,
(1) that same nature of ours with all its instincts, impulses, desires, hopes;
(2) the great visible system around us into which we can constantly be looking, and of which we might be expected to learn much;
(3) human life, and the providence of God as manifested therein.
2. That these sources of wisdom, which are constant and common to our race, prove to be lamentably insufficient. Man, under the dominion and depression of sin, cannot read aright the lessons which his own nature, the visible universe, and the providence of God are fitted and intended to teach him. He shows himself utterly incapable; he is completely false in his ideas, and pitiably wrong in his course of action. Hence we come to the conclusion of the text -
I. THE LAMENTABLE RESULT OF SPIRITUAL IGNORANCE. "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Where there is no special Divine revelation, supplementing the knowledge and correcting the ignorance of the unenlightened, there is a "perishing" or a "nakedness" in the land. The sad and miserable result, as all lands and all ages testify, is:
1. Literal, physical death. Without the knowledge of God, and in the absence of the control which the knowledge of his will can supply,
(1) there is strife, violence, war, and of this death is the continual fruit;
(2) there is vice, and this, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
2. Loss of character. Not only of that which is sometimes understood by character, viz. reputation, but also of character itself. Where God's Word and will are unknown, there is such a deplorable descent into the erroneous and the immoral, that both of these go down and perish.
3. Absence of spiritual life. The life of our life is in God, and not only in his kindness to us, but in our knowledge of him. To be in utter ignorance of him, to have lost all belief in him, to be spending our days in spiritual separation from him, - is not this to be so destitute of all that beautifies and brightens, of all that enlarges and ennobles, human life, as to be "dead while we live"? So thought and taught the great Teacher and his great apostle (Luke 9:60; John 5:24; 1 Timothy 5:6). It is not merely that there is a sad exclusion, at the end, from the heavenly kingdom; it is that spiritual ignorance of God constitutes death, and they who are living without God, and becoming more and more alienated from and unlike to him, are perishing "day by day."
II. THE BLESSEDNESS OF OBEDIENCE. "He that keepeth the Law," etc. Happy is the man who walks in the fear of God, in the love and the service of Jesus Christ; for
1. He is walking in the path where all the worst evils cannot harm him; he is defended from "the evil which is in the world;" he is upheld in his purity and his integrity.
2. He is living a life which will command the esteem and win the love of the wise and the worthy.
3. He abides under the wing of a heavenly Father's favour; he is enjoying the friendship of a Divine Saviour.
4. He is expending his powers in the conscious, the happy service of him "whose he is," and in whose service is true and lasting freedom.
5. He is exerting a benignant influence in every circle in which he moves.
6. He is travelling homewards. - C.
I. PRUDENCE AND RELIGION ARE EVER IN HARMONY. There can be no divorce between them. We are not placed between cross lights here. What intelligent regard to self prescribes, God's Law commands. Approach the facts of life from these two opposite sides, travel by either of these two paths, they meet at last in duty, in safety, in peace, and salvation.
II. SOME EXAMPLES OF THIS HARMONY.
1. All dishonesty or complicity with it is self-destructive. (Ver. 24.) Enlightened experience says so, and stamps itself in the clear dictum, "Honesty is the best policy." God's Word says so, and here and in a thousand similar declarations and warnings pronounces a curse upon the sin.
2. Fear of man is perilous; confidence in the Eternal is safety. (Ver. 25.) Experience again ratifies this. The coward dies a thousand deaths; the brave, but once. The feeble-hearted daily miss opportunities; the brave create them. Moral cowardice springs from want of inner conviction of the might of truth; moral strength, from the inner certainty that nothing but truth is victorious. Positive revelation here again fortifies the hints of common knowledge.
3. The vanity of honour from others; the true honour that comes from God. (Ver. 26.) What bitter things have been written down in the experience of men of the world concerning the favour of the great, and the folly of courting it and depending upon it! and how does the same lesson echo back from the page of Holy Writ! Act well your part in Jehovah's sight; seek the honour that cometh from him only; - how common and Divine wisdom effect ajuncture once more!
4. Eternal antipathies. (Ver. 27.) What experience teaches us in one form, that fellowship must be founded on sympathy, that tastes must be respected, that deep, undefinable feelings attract us to or repel us from others, God's Word again confirms: "Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness." Acquaintance is mere collocation of persons; friendship and Christian communism are the eternal affinity of souls in God. - J.
I. TWO TEMPTATIONS.
1. To be unduly affected by the fear of man's displeasure. "The fear of man," etc. Now, the fear of man:
(1) May be dutiful. It is the duty of children to have a reverential regard for their parents, and to shun most carefully their disapproval. There is a "fear" appropriate to servants (Ephesians 6:5). We should fear to dissatisfy those who have a right to our faithful service.
(2) May be desirable. We should, as wise co-workers with God, fear to do that which, instead of conciliating, will disaffect those whom we want to win to righteousness and wisdom. But the tear of which Solomon writes
(3) is dishonourable and dangerous. It is a fear which is born of cowardice, a slavish disinclination to encounter the anger or the opposition of those who are in the wrong. It is an undue concern about the action of those who may claim a right, but who cannot sustain it, to keep us back from duty or to compel us to some unworthiness. By this unmanly and unholy fear we may be
(1) prevented from entering the kingdom or the Church of Christ;
(2) deterred from speaking his truth with fulness and faithfulness;
(3) hindered from bearing the testimony we should otherwise offer against some evil course;
(4) led into actual and even active fellowship with wrong, Then, indeed, our fear is "a snare," and it betrays us into sin.
2. To be unduly impelled by a desire for man's favour. "Many seek the ruler's favour." There is, of course, nothing wrong in seeking the interest of the powerful. It is simple wisdom, on the part of those who are struggling and rising, to do that. But it may easily be and often is overdone. Our Lord used very decisive language on this subject (John 5:44). When
(1) the desire is excessive;
(2) language is used or action is taken which is untruthful or dishonest, or which makes a man fall in his own regard;
(3) there is so much solicitude that a man loses self-reliance as well as self-respect, and forgets the help which is to be had from above; - then "seeking the ruler's favour" is a mistake, and even more and worse than that.
II. TWO SOURCES OF STRENGTH.
1. A sense of Divine approval. "Every man's judgment eometh from the Lord." Why be troubled about man's condemnation so long as we have his acquittal? Let Judas complain, if Jesus excuses and commends (John 12:1-8). Let the critics pass their sentence; it is a small thing to a man who is living under an abiding sense that "he that judgeth him is the Lord" (1 Corinthians 4:3, 4; Romans 2:29).
"Men heed thee, love thee, praise thee not; The Master praises; - what are men?" And it is not only the present judgment and acceptance of God to which we have recourse, but his future judgment also, and the commendation he will pass upon our fidelity (see Romans 14:10-13; 1 Corinthians 4:5). 2. A hope of Divine succour. "Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe." Again and again, in the Old and New Testaments, by psalmists and prophets and apostles, as well as by our Lord himself, we are invited and exhorted to "put our trust in the Lord;" and we are assured that, so doing, we shall not be ashamed. If God does not deliver us from our enemies, and from the trouble riley occasion us, he will certainly deliver us in our adversity; he will give us strength to endure, grace to submit, courage to bear and brave the worst, sanctity of spirit as the result; he will turn the well of our affliction into a fountain of spritual blessing. - C.
2. A hope of Divine succour. "Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe." Again and again, in the Old and New Testaments, by psalmists and prophets and apostles, as well as by our Lord himself, we are invited and exhorted to "put our trust in the Lord;" and we are assured that, so doing, we shall not be ashamed. If God does not deliver us from our enemies, and from the trouble riley occasion us, he will certainly deliver us in our adversity; he will give us strength to endure, grace to submit, courage to bear and brave the worst, sanctity of spirit as the result; he will turn the well of our affliction into a fountain of spritual blessing. - C.
I. THE HATRED OF US BY THE WICKED. "He that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked."
1. This is a well-verified fact, attested by Scripture, by history, by observation, probably by experience.
2. Its explanation is at hand.
(1) Wicked men are utterly out of sympathy with the righteous. Their tastes, inclinations, habits, are all at variance with those of the good and pure.
(2) The upright are obliged to condemn them, either in private or in public.
(3) The life of the one is a standing reflection upon the conduct of the other.
3. There is one right way to meet it; viz.
(2) to make an honest effort to remove it by winning those who indulge it. But the more difficult question is how we are to bear ourselves toward those whose conduct we reprobate, whose character we detest, whose persons we are not willing to admit into our homes. How shall we order -
II. OUR HATRED OF THE WICKED? That there is a very strong feeling against the wrong doer in the minds of the holy is obvious enough. It is a fact that "an unjust man is an abomination to the just." "Do not I hate them that hate thee?... I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies," said David (Psalm 139:21, 22). Jesus Christ "looked round about on them with anger" (Mark 3:5). God is "angry with the wicked every day" (Psalm 7:11). He "hateth all the workers of iniquity" (Psalm 5:5). Our feeling, therefore, is the reflection of that which is in the heart of the Holy One himself. Of what elements should it be composed?
1. One element that should be absent. There should be no trace of personal ill will, of a desire for the suffering of the man himself; for the soul of the sinful we should wish well, and we fall into a mistake, if not into a sin, when we allow ourselves to find a pleasure in witnessing or in dwelling upon the humiliation or the sorrow of the wicked. We ought only to wish for that as a means of their purification and recovery.
2. The elements that should be present.
(1) Pure resentment, such as God feels, such as our Lord felt when he lived amongst us (see Matthew 23), - a feeling of strong reprobation, which we are obliged to direct against them as the doers of unrighteousness.
(2) Faithful but measured condemnation. There is, in this view, a time to speak as well as a time to keep silence; and both publicly and privately it behoves us to blame the blameworthy, cud even to denounce the shamefully unjust or cruel. But here we are bound to take care that we are well acquainted with the matter on which we speak, and that our judgment is an impartial one.
(3) Fearless and unflinching opposition. We must actively and steadfastly oppose ourselves to the iniquitous, and do our best to bring their purposes to the ground.
(4) Sincere and practical compassion. With all this that is adverse, we may and should conjoin such pity as our Divine Saviour has felt for ourselves, and such honest and earnest endeavour to win them to the truth and to the practice of righteousness as he put forth when he came to redeem us from sin and to raise us to the likeness and restore us to the kingdom of God. - C.