The Word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison.I. A TRUE CHILD OF GOD AND AN HONOURED PROPHET IN DISGRACE AND AFFLICTION (ver. 1). Let not the child of God think that his sorrows are always because of his Sins.
II. THOUGH DESPISED OF MAN, THE PROPHET WAS HONOURED OF GOD (vers. 1, 2).
1. To receive communications from the Divine mind is the highest honour.
2. He whom God honours and owns as His child need not fear what man can do.
III. DIVINE CONSOLATION TO AN AFFLICTED SERVANT (ver. 3).
1. The most precious of all privileges, that of prayer: "Call unto Me."
2. The most marvellous of all assurances: "And I will answer thee."
3. The most encouraging of all promises: "I will . . . show thee great and mighty things."
IV. THE ADVERSITY AND PROSPERITY OF NATIONS ARE UNDER THE CONTROL OF GOD (vers. 4-7).
1. It is impossible properly to construe the history of a nation without reference to the moral government of God.
2. National prosperity or adversity has always been in the line of national virtue or vice.
V. THE ESSENTIAL CONDITIONS OF NATIONAL AS WELL AS INDIVIDUAL HEALING (vers. 8, 9).
1. It is essential that God come to do the work. "I will cleanse," &c.
2. It is essential that God work upon our moral natures. "I will cleanse them from all their iniquity."
3. It is essential that God work upon our moral natures by the assurance of the forgiveness of sin. "I will pardon all," &c.
4. This moral and spiritual cleansing and pardon are essential for the appreciation of the Divine goodness: "And they shall fear," &c.
5. This spiritual healing shall manifest forth the glory of God: "It shall be to Me a name," &c.
(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Call unto Me, and I win answer thee.I. A GRACIOUS INVITATION — "Call unto Me" implies all the constituents of successful prayer.
II. A PRECIOUS PROMISE — "And I will answer thee." The invitation accepted, its conditions complied with, always brings the answer.
1. God's word pledged.
2. God's nature pledged.
3. Confirmed by the experience of His saints.
III. A GLORIOUS REVELATION — "And will shew thee," &c.
1. The greatness of God's love.
2. The power of Jesus to forgive sin.
3. The worth of the soul.
4. The joys and comforts of religion.
5. The victory of faith in death.
(J. T. Davies.)
I. THE INVITATION TO PRAYER.
1. Whose is it?
2. To whom is the invitation addressed?
3. What is the tenor of the invitation?
II. THE PROMISE.
1. It is general.
2. It is special. Apply
(1) (2) (G. Brooks.)
(2) (G. Brooks.)
I. PRAYER COMMANDED.
1. This is great condescension. So great is the infatuation of man on the one hand, which makes him need a command to be merciful to his own soul, and so marvellous the condescension of God on the other that He issues a command of love.
2. Our hearts so despond over our unfitness and guilt that but for the command we might fear to approach.
3. It is remarkable how much more frequently God calls us to Him in Scripture than we find there our sinfulness denounced!
4. Nor by the commands of the Bible alone are we summoned to prayer, but by the motions of His Holy Spirit.
II. AN ANSWER PROMISED.
1. God's very nature, as revealed in Jesus Christ, assures us that He will accept us in prayer.
2. Our own experience leads us to believe that God will answer prayer; e.g., the conversion of many a child has been an answer to parents' pleadings with God.
3. Yet God does not always give the thing we ask. Lord Bolingbroke said to the Countess of Huntingdon, "I cannot understand, your ladyship, how you can make out earnest prayer to be consistent with submission to the Divine will." "My lord," she said, "that is a matter of no difficulty. If I were a courtier of some generous king, and he gave me permission to ask any favour I pleased of him, I should be sure to put it thus: 'Will your majesty be graciously pleased to grant me such and such a favour; but at the same time, though I much desire it, if it would in any way detract from your majesty's honour, or if in your majesty's judgment it should seem better that I did not have this favour, I shall be quite as content to go without it as to receive it.' So you see I might earnestly offer a petition, and yet might submissively leave it with the king."
III. ENCOURAGEMENT TO FAITH.
1. Promised to God's prophet, this specially applies to every teacher. The best way for a teacher or learner in Divine truth to reach the deeper things of God" is to be much in prayer. Luther says, "Bene orare est bene studuisse" — To have prayed well is to have studied well
2. The saint may expect to discover deeper experience and to know more of the higher spiritual life, by being much in prayer.
3. It is certainly true of the sufferer under trial; if he waits on God he shall have greater deliverance than he ever dreamed of (Lamentations 3:57).
4. Here is encouragement for the worker. We know not how much capacity for usefulness there is in us. More prayer will show us more power.
5. This should cheer us in intercession for others.
6. Some are seekers for your own conversion. Pray, and see if God will not "show you great and mighty things."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. TO CONTINUE IN PRAYER. "Call unto Me!"
1. Pray, though you have prayed (see Jeremiah 32:16, &c.).
2. Pray concerning your present trouble. In Jeremiah 32:24, the prophet mentions "the mounts" which were raised against Jerusalem, and in ver. 4 of this chapter the Lord answers on that very point.
3. Pray though you are still in prison after prayer. If deliverance tarries, make your prayers the more importunate.
4. Pray; for the Word of the Lord comes to you with this command.
5. Pray; for the Holy Spirit prompts you, and helps you.
II. To EXPECT ANSWERS TO PRAYER. "I will answer thee, and shew thee."
1. He has appointed prayer, and made arrangements for its presentation and acceptance. He could not have meant it to be a mere farce: that were to treat us as fools.
2. He prompts, encourages, and quickens prayer; and surely He would never mock us by exciting desires which He never meant to gratify.
3. His nature is such that He must hear His children.
4. He has given His promise in the text; and it is often repeated elsewhere: He cannot lie, or deny Himself.
5. He has already answered many of His people, and ourselves also.
III. TO EXPECT GREAT THINGS AS ANSWERS TO PRAYER, "I will shew thee great and mighty things" We are to look for things —
1. Great in counsel; full of wisdom and significance
2. Mighty in work; revealing might, and mightily effectual.
3. New things to ourselves, fresh in our experience and therefore surprising. We may expect the unexpected.
4. Divine things: "I will shew thee."
(1) (2) (3) ( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(2) (3) ( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(3) ( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Thomas Brooks, alluding to the old classical myth of Daedalus, who, being imprisoned in the island of Crete, made wings for himself, by which he escaped to Italy, says, "Christians must do as Daedalus, who, when he could not escape by a way upon earth, went by a way of heaven." Holy prayers are the wings of the soul's deliverance.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
And shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Behold I will bring it health and cure.I. THE VISIT WHICH THIS GOOD PHYSICIAN PAYS TO THE POOR PATIENT WHO HAS NEED OF HIM. The patient is a wretched being, who, in a spiritual point of view, is diseased from head to foot, and hath "no soundness in him." He has the disease of human nature, the disease which you and I have — sin. He has become painfully alive to the humiliating fact that there is no good thing in him — that all his doings have been evil — and that the sentence of death eternal hangs over his soul. He cannot heal himself. His fellow-sinners cannot heal him. Is not then his case desperate? It would be so indeed were it not for a voice from heaven which saith of this poor sinner, "I will bring him health and cure." Every word is a word of comfort to that sinner's soul. There is comfort in the first word "I" — I will do it. For who is it that speaks? It is Jesus, the great, the mighty Saviour of the soul — that famous, that renowned Physician who hath healed already such a multitude of sinners, and hath never lost a single patient. There is comfort in the next word, "I will bring" — for, alas! this sinner cannot fetch his cure. But look at the last words of the sentence, and behold still more abundant comfort for this perishing transgressor. "I will bring," saith the Lord — What? A medicine? A healing application that will be likely to avail — that may conduce towards recovery? No, but — Oh, bold words! words only fit for an Almighty Saviour! — I will bring him health and cure — something so sovereign in its virtue, so sure, so swift in its effects, that, the moment it is tried upon the patient, he is well; not only in part restored; not only altogether freed from his disease; but well — in full, in perfect health. The balm which the Physician brings to cure the sinner with is the blood which He hath shed for them, the life which He hath given for them, the full, the perfect and sufficient sacrifice which He hath offered up for them. And this balm, is not medicine only — for that may heal or not heal; that is a mere experiment upon a broken constitution, and may be ineffectual; but the balm which Jesus brings the sinner may well be styled "health and cure"; for it is everything at once which the sinner's case requires. This precious blood "cleanseth from all sin." But we have not yet attended this Good Physician to His patient. We have not yet ascertained, I mean, how He may be said to "bring" this "health and cure" to the poor sinner's soul. It is when He opens that sinner's eyes to view Him as a Saviour — when, by His word or by His ministers, He sets His love before that sinner's soul, and by His Holy Spirit makes him see it.
II. OBSERVE THE GOOD PHYSICIAL ACTUALLY CURING THE POOR PATIENT HE ATTENDS. There is a difference between a remedy brought near, and a remedy applied; and there is a difference again between Christ's "bringing health and cure" to the sinner, and that sinner's being cured. "The grace of God that bringeth salvation" is said to "appear unto all men"; but we know that all men to whom it appeareth are not saved by it. Many men perceive that Christ is their Physician, yet will not take His remedy; and many men believe that they have used the remedy when they have only done so in appearance. The patient we have endeavoured to describe is a really humbled and awakened soul, and the Lord, who brings him health, gives him faith also, to be healed. He believes in Jesus as a Saviour. He casts his soul on Him for pardon and righteousness.
III. NOW PROCEED TO THE BLESSINGS MY TEXT DESCRIBES HIM AS BESTOWING ON THE POOR PATIENTS HE HAS HEALED. "I will reveal to them," says He, "the abundance of peace and truth."
1. We may regard this peace and truth as the privileges of the redeemed sinner. When our poor sick bodies are recovered unexpectedly from a painful and a dangerous disease, how do we rejoice in our newly acquired health! How are our fears calmed and our anxieties removed! but these natural emotions are not to be compared for a moment with the spiritual feelings and experiences of the pardoned sinner; no sooner hath the Good Physician healed the soul than what doth He reveal to it? "The abundance of peace and truth." Peace — for "being justified by faith, he hath peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Christ "revealeth" also to him "the abundance of truth." He enjoys, through the Spirit which Christ sends him, a glorious and most comfortable apprehension of the truth of God — of the truth of His grace, of the truth of His covenant, of the truth of His promises.
2. Consider this "abundance of peace and truth" as referring also to the character acquired by the believer in consequence of his faith. Christ may be said to have revealed to His people the "abundance of peace" in that He hath given them a peaceful spirit — in that He hath sent that Dove-like Messenger to rest upon their souls who is "first pure, then peaceable," and who makes the hearts He enters like Himself. And Christ may be said also to have revealed to him "the abundance of truth," by enabling him to walk in truth. He is "an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile," no crooked policy, no artful management. His aim is, on all occasions, to be "a child of the light and of the day" — "sincere and without offence unto the day of Christ" — "having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reproving them."
(A. Roberts, M. A.)
I. THE PATIENT AND HIS DISEASE. The patient is man; the disease is sin. We see the disease equally in the most refined as in the most ignorant. It stares us in the face when we read of an African negress sacrificing a fowl to her little image; and it shows itself equally when we read of a Grecian philosopher proposing before his death the sacrifice of a cock to Esculapius. We see the ignorance of the true God; we see at the same time such a consciousness of sin that something must be done to appease the apprehension which they have of the reality of a God. But we need a closer application of the subject. You may all of you say perhaps, "I have never been guilty of idolatry; I am neither Mohammetan, nor Socialist, nor Communist, nor an infidel." Let us look, then, at some of the peculiar features of the disease of sin, and see whether it is not preying upon you as it is upon other men in the world. Now, it is well illustrated by the effect which sickness produces upon our body. For instance, sickness produces languor through the whole body; and this is exactly God's account of the effect of sin (Isaiah 1:5, 6). Take the faculties of man. Take his understanding. The understanding, we are told, "is darkened," so that man is no longer wise to do good; he is only wise to do evil. Again, look at his will. The will of man has a wrong bias. Once, I cannot doubt, it was true of Adam, as spoken of our Lord in the fortieth Psalm, "I delight to do Thy will, O God; yea, it is within my heart." I cannot doubt there was a time when that was the natural expression of Adam's heart; but now it is not the expression of any man's heart until he is renewed by the Holy Ghost. But again: sickness takes away our desire for what is wholesome. So it is with sinners. They "put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter"; they call darkness light, and light darkness, and evil good, and good evil: whereas the spiritual man delights in the law of God after the inward man renewed by the Holy Ghost. Another effect produced by sickness upon the frame is, that it takes away the comfort of life. There is no enjoyment in anything put before the sick man enfeebled by disease, anything in which he was once able to take delight. Yea, life itself often becomes a burden. Now, what is the burden? Why, sin is the burden; it is this, only you do not know it; it is this which at times poisons the joy even of the most thoughtless — the consciousness of sin, the consciousness of your opposition to a holy God.
II. THE PHYSICIAN AND THE CURE. "Behold I will bring it health and cure" — "I" — Jesus. And it has been Jesus always. The remedy may have been stated more distinctly under the Gospel than under the law, but not more really. It was Jesus always, it was the precious blood of Jesus always, pointed at in the very first premise that was made by God, that "the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head." And salvation has always been shut up in that seed. It may have been expressed sometimes as being Abraham's seed, sometimes the seed of Isaac, and sometimes the seed of Jacob, but it had only one meaning; as the apostle said in the third chapter of Galatians, "Not unto seeds, as of many; but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ." There is the Physician that God has always revealed. And what is His character? I cannot give you a better picture of Him than He has given of Himself in the parable of the good Samaritan. The wounded man had no charges; he had nothing to pay; the good Samaritan paid for all It is so with Jesus. The only fee, if I may so speak with reverence of Jesus, is — all He asks of us is, that we should trust Him, that we should believe in Him. He holds out to us in the Gospel perfect cure of all our disease, whatever it may be, and however aggravated; and He only says, "Let Me cure you." And when I point you to this Good Samaritan as a Physician, I would have you remember that He is the only One. I call this another inexpressible mercy, that the poor sinner's mind, anxious for relief, is not distracted in the Gospel by choosing between physicians. As the sun is clear in the firmament of heaven at noonday, so does Jesus shine forth as the Sun of Righteousness "with healing in His wings "to every poor sinner. And observe how He brings this before you. He says, "Direct your attention, 'behold,' take notice, 'I will bring you health and cure.'" Here is purpose, here is determination, here is sovereign will. "I will cure, I will heal, I will reveal abundance of peace and truth." We may ask, then, if the way be so simple, "why is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered!" "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?" Yes, there is balm, there is the blood of Jesus; there is a Physician, there is Jesus Himself. Then "why is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered!" I will put before you some reasons. Some are not healed because they do not know they are sick. There is often very great mischief going on in our frames without our knowing it. That is the way in which mortal diseases get hold of a man. Then some are not healed because they love their disease. Yea, they love sin. We read of a very celebrated man, St. , that there was a time when his conscience was so harassed by the oppression of sin, at the same time that his affections were set upon the enjoyment and indulgence of it, that he declared he was afraid his prayers should be heard when he prayed for deliverance from sin. Now I would ask whether that is not the ease with many. Some, again, are not healed because they are not willing to be healed. Our Lord says, "Ye will not come to Me that ye might have life." Again, some hearts are not healed because they will not take the Gospel remedies. What are the two great remedies that Jesus proposes? Repentance towards God, and faith towards Himself. But these are bitter and nauseous draughts to the natural man. There is one other reason which I would give why some are not healed — because they put no confidence in the Physician. Here is the root of all the evil — a want of faith. If they trusted Him, they would trust His word; and if they trusted His Word, they would take His remedies.
(J. W. Reeve, M. A.)
I will cleanse them from all their iniquity.Psalm 19:12): — Many think that Jesus came into the world to forgive our sins; which is true, but it is only a part of the truth; for the New Testament reveals that He came to save us from our sins. Forgiveness is a great thing; but cleansing from sin is greater. Any kindly hearted man can forgive an injury; but only an omnipotent God can wash the love of sin from our nature. The Bible reveals that God has both the will and the power to give a clean heart.
I. IT IS A NEEDFUL PRAYER. "Cleanse Thou me from secret faults."
1. Do not our secret thoughts need cleansing?
2. Our secret imaginations need to be cleansed. Children build fairy castles in the air, and tenant them with the pure, the brave, and the true; but as we grow older, our airy castles begin to be peopled with those whose actions are tainted with sin; and when we arrive at manhood, the unconverted soul builds castles in its imagination in which iniquity abounds without any obstacle to hinder it.
3. Our secret desires need cleansing. If there were no desire for sin, there would be no transgression; and we, therefore, need to pray continually, "Lord, cleanse my sinful desires! Let my longings be washed from their bias to transgression!"
4. Our secret habits need cleansing. When a man yields to a sinful habit it is difficult to break it off. You need superhuman power; and that power shall be granted to all who sincerely ask of God. The sculptor who forms a figure in marble does it gradually by thousands of chisel strokes; and in the same way, when you are forming your soul either for goodness or badness, it is a gradual work. As no man is made an angel in a moment, so no man is made a devil in a moment. It is a work of time. It is first a thought, then a picture in the mind, then a desire, then a hesitating step, and afterwards the boldness of habit. It is hard work battling against a world inclined to sin; it is more difficult to resist a loved one who tempts us; but the hardest battle ever man can fight in this world is when he struggles against his soul's inclination to think or do evil. And I feel persuaded that no man can cleanse his secret faults without the help of God. But however bad your secret sins may be, you can be purified. Is there anything too hard for the Lord? Christ has unfurled the flag of liberty, and His Spirit now calls on every man who is bound by sin to cry to Him for life!
II. UNBELIEF HINDERS US FROM BEING CLEANSED. Some men say, "Nobody can be saved from all their secret faults!" But if the Lord say He will cleanse us from all our iniquity, is it not a wicked thing to doubt it? Perhaps, somebody remarks, "Well, I used to think I might be cleansed from sin, and I tried, but failed every time." Now let me ask you a question. Were you not a great deal happier when you were seeking to ,conquer your secret faults than you are now? You reply, "Yes, I was happier; but why did I not succeed?" A man who is trying to crush down the sin of his heart is happier than he who is content with the slavery of sin. If he do not succeed, the reason is that he is trying to do for himself what cannot be done without God. Ask the Lord to cleanse. It is your work to bring your soul in faith and prayer to Him, and it is His work to cleanse it.
III. HOW DOES THE LORD CLEANSE US? The Jews in times of old were cleansed by being sprinkled with the blood of a beast. But this is not the way in which we are cleansed from secret faults. The Spirit of Christ can enter our souls and can cleanse us from sin.
I. A THREEFOLD VIEW OF THE SAD CONDITION OF HUMANITY. Observe the recurrence of the same idea in our text in different words. "Their iniquity whereby they have sinned against Me."... "Their iniquity whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against Me." You see there are three expressions which roughly may be taken as referring to the same ugly fact, but yet not meaning quite the same — "iniquity, or iniquities, sin, transgression." Suppose three men are set to describe a snake. One of them fixes his attention on its slimy coils, and describes its sinuous gliding movements. Another of them is fascinated by its wicked beauty, and talks about its livid markings, and its glittering eye. The third thinks only of the swift-darting fangs, and of the poison-glands. They all three describe the snake, but they describe it from different points of view. And so it is here. "Iniquity," "sin," "transgression" are synonyms to some extent, but they do not cover the same ground. They look at the serpent from different points of view. First, a sinful life is a twisted or warped life. The word rendered' "iniquity," in the Old Testament, in all probability, literally means something that is not straight; that is bent, or, as I said, twisted or warped. That is a metaphor that runs through a great many languages. I suppose "right" means the very same thing — that which is straight and direct; and I suppose that "wrong" has something to do with "wrung" — that which has been forcibly diverted from a right line. We all know the conventional colloquialism about a man being "straight," and such-and-such a thing being "on the straight." All sin is a twisting of the man from his proper course. Now there underlies that metaphor the notion that there is a certain line to which we are to conform. The schoolmaster draws a firm, straight line in the child's copybook; and then the little unaccustomed hand takes up on the second line its attempt, and makes tremulous, wavering pot-hooks and hangers. There is a copyhead for us, and our writing is, alas! all uneven and irregular, as well as blurred and blotted. There is a law, and you know it; and you carry in yourself — I was going to say, the standard measure, and you know whether, when you put your life by the side of that, the two coincide. This very prophet has a wonderful illustration, in which he compares the lives of men who have departed from God to the racing about in the wilderness of a wild dromedary "entangling her ways," as he says, crossing and recrossing, and getting into a maze of perplexity. Ah! is that not something like your life? All sin is deflection from the straight road, and we all are guilty of that. Let me ask you to consult the standard that you carry within yourselves. It is easy to imagine that a line is straight. But did you ever see the point of a needle under a microscope? However finely it is polished, and apparently regularly tapering, the scrutinising investigation of the microscope shows that it is all rough and irregular. The smallest departure from the line of right will end, unless it is checked, away out in the regions of darkness beyond. The second of them, rendered in our version "sin," if I may recur to my former illustration, looks at the snake from a different point of view, and it declares that all sin misses the aim. The meaning of the word in the original is simply "that which misses its mark." Now, there are two ways in which that thought may be looked at. Every wrong thing that we do misses the aim, if you consider what a man's aim ought to be. "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever." That is the only aim which corresponds to our constitution, to our circumstances. And so, whatever you win, unless you win God, .you have missed the aim. Anything short of knowing Him and loving Him, serving Him, being filled and inspired by Him, is contrary to the destiny stamped upon us all. Then there is another side to this. The solemn teaching of this word is not confined to that thought, but also opens out into this other, that all godlessness, all the low, sinful lives that so many of us live, miss the shabby aim which they set before themselves. I do not believe that any man or woman ever got as much good, even of the lowest kind, out of a wrong thing as they expected to get when they ventured on it. If they did they got something else along with it that took all the gilt off the gingerbread. The drunkard gets his pleasurable oblivion, his pleasurable excitement. What about the corrugated liver, the palsied hand, the watery eye, the wrecked life, the broken hearts at home, and all the other accompaniments? There is an old story that speaks of a knight and his company who were travelling through a desert, and suddenly beheld a castle into which they were invited, and hospitably welcomed. A feast was spread before them, and they each ate and drank his fill. But as soon as they left the enchanted halls they were as hungry as before they sat at the magic table. That is the kind of food that all our wrong-doing provides for us. "He feedeth on ashes," and hungers after he has fed. And now, further, there is yet another word here, carrying with it important lessons. The expression which is translated in our text "transgressed," literally means "rebelled." And the lesson of it is, that all sin is, however little we think it, a rebellion against God. That introduces a yet graver thought than either of the former has brought us face to face with. Behind the law is the Lawgiver. When we do wrong, we not only blunder, we not only go aside from the right line, we lift up ourselves against our Sovereign King. Sins are against God; and, dear friends, though you do not realise it, this is plain truth, that the essence, the common characteristic, of all the acts which, as we have seen, are twisted and foolish, is that in them we are setting up another than the Lord our God to be our ruler. We are enthroning ourselves in His place. Does not that thought make all these apparently trivial and insignificant things terribly important? Treason is treason, no matter what the act by which it is expressed. It may be a little thing to haul down a union-jack from a flagstaff, or to tear off a barn-door a proclamation with the royal arms at the top of it, but it may be rebellion. And if it is, it is as bad as to turn out a hundred thousand men in the field, with arms in their hands.
II. THE TWOFOLD BRIGHT HOPE WHICH COMES THROUGH THIS DARKNESS. "I will cleanse... I will pardon." If sin combines in itself all these characteristics that I have touched upon, then clearly there is guilt, and clearly there are stains; and the gracious promise of this text deals with both the one and the other. "I will pardon." What is pardon? Do not limit it to the analogy of a criminal court. When the law of the land pardons, or rather when the administrator of the law pardons, that simply means that the penalty is suspended. But is that forgiveness? Certainly it is only a part of it, even if it is a part. What do you fathers and mothers do when you forgive your child? You may use the rod or you may not; that is a question of what is best for the child. Forgiveness does not lie in letting him off the punishment; but forgiveness lies in the flowing to the child, uninterrupted, of the love of the parent's heart. And that is God's forgiveness. Do you need pardon? Do you not? What does conscience say? What does the sense of remorse that sometimes blesses you, though it tortures, say? I know not any gospel that goes deep enough to touch the real sore place in human nature, except the Gospel that says to you and me and all of us, "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world!" But forgiveness is not enough, for the worst results of past sin are the habits of sin which it leaves within us; so that we all need cleansing. Can we cleanse ourselves? Let experience answer. Did you ever try to cure yourself of some little trick of gesture, or manner, or speech? And did you not find out then how strong the trivial habit was? You never know the force of a current till you try to row against it. You may have the stained robe washed and made lustrous white in the blood of the Lamb. Pardon and cleansing are our two deepest needs.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
(W. L. Watkinson.)
I will pardon all their iniquities.I. The pardon of sin which Almighty God, in infinite mercy and grace, is now offering to sinners in the Gospel, is A FULL PARDON — that is, it comprehends and extends to every sin, however sinful, and includes all sins, however numerous. It was foretold in ancient prophecy that when the Messiah should come "to make His soul an offering for sin," He should, by His atoning death, "finish transgressions, make an end of sins, make reconciliation for iniquity, and bring in everlasting righteousness." Our blessed Saviour having come, as it wee thus written of Him, and having suffered the "just for us the unjust," the Gospel testimony of His vicarious sufferings declares that His expiatory death has made a full and perfect atonement for all the sins of His people — that He has thereby fully reconciled them to God — that "His blood cleanseth them from all sin" — that "He is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God through Him."
II. The pardon proclaimed in the Gospel is FREE — it is vouchsafed by an infinitely gracious God, suspended on no condition whatever to be performed by the sinner as the meritorious ground of its bestowal. It is this absolute freeness of the forgiveness of sin proclaimed in the Gospel that makes it worthy of an infinitely gracious God's bestowal, and good news to poor, miserable, and wretched sinners. Were it otherwise, it could be no rest to an awakened and alarmed conscience — to a weary and heavy sin-laden soul.
III. The pardon proclaimed to sinners in the Gospel is EVERLASTING. This makes it a complete pardon.
They shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.
1. In the cup of salvation there are drops of bitterness, and so must it be, for unmixed delight in this world would be dangerous. When the sea is smooth the ship makes poor sailing. Men are bird-limed by their rest and ease, and have small care to fly heavenward. We are apt to lose our God among our goods, Is it not so? If the world's roses had no thorns should we not think it paradise, and forego all desire for the gardens above?
2. Unmixed joy would be fallacious, because there is no such thing here below. If a man should become perfectly contented with the things of this world, it would be the result of a false view of things. This is an error against which we should pray; for this world cannot fill the soul, and if a man thinks he has filled his soul with it, he must be under a gross delusion. As to spiritual joy, I say that in no man's experience can it be long without admixture and yet be true. Never at any moment can a Christian be in such a position that he has not some cause either for dissatisfaction with himself, or fear of the tempter, or anxiety to he faithful in service.
3. Unmixed delight on earth would be unnatural. When the Dutch had the trade of the East in their hands they were accustomed to sell birds of paradise to the untravelled people of these realms. These specimen birds had no feet, for they had craftily removed them, and the merchants declared that the species lived on the wing and never alighted. There was so much of truth in the fable that had they been really and veritably "birds of paradise" they would not have found a place for their feet upon this globe. Truly, birds of paradise do come and go, and flit from heaven to earth, but we see them not, neither can we build tabernacles to detain them. While you are here expect reminders of the fact that this is not your rest.
II. THE FEELINGS BY WHICH THIS SOBERING EFFECT IS PRODUCED. "They fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it." Why fear and tremble?
1. Is not this in part a holy awe of God's presence? "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. The argument for fear and trembling is the work of God in the soul. Because God is working m you there must be no trifling. If the eternal Deity deigns to make a workshop of my nature, I too must work, but it must be with fear and trembling.
2. But next to that there arises up in the mind of every favoured Christian a deep repentance for past sin. Have you not felt as if you could never open Four mouth any more because of all your unkindness to your heavenly Friend? Such penitent, reflections keep the Lord's people right, by creating a fear and trembling m the presence of His overflowing goodness.
3. Has not your deepest sense of unworthiness come upon you when you have been conscious of superlative mercy? We tremble and are afraid, because of the unutterable grace which has met our utter unworthiness, and rivalled it, until grace has gotten unto itself the victory.
4. Have you never noticed how the Lord brings His people to their bearings, and keeps them steady, under a sense of great love, by suggesting to their hearts the question, "How can I live as becometh one who has been favoured like this? "Did you ever feel that the glory of the palace of love made you afraid to dwell in it?
5. And have you never felt a fear lest God's goodness should be abused by you? He who has never questioned his own condition had better make an immediate inquiry. He who has never felt great searchings of heart needs to be searched with candles. No man's hell shall be more terrible than that of the self-confident one who made so sure of heaven that he would not take the ordinary precaution to ask whether his title-deeds were genuine or no.
6. One more thought may also occur to the most joyous believer. He will say, "What if after rejoicing in all this blessedness I should lose it?" "What," cries one, "do you not believe in the final perseverance of the saints?" Assuredly I do, but are we saints! There's the question. Moreover, many a believer who has not lost his soul has, nevertheless, lost his present joy and prosperity, and why may not we?
III. THE MEASURE IN WHICH YOU AND I CAN ENTER INTO THIS EXPERIENCE. We have hundreds of us perceived the benefits of the dark lines and shadings of life's picture, and we see how fit and proper it is that trembling should mingle with transport. As the fruit of experience I have learned to look for a hurricane soon after an unusually delightful calm. When the wind blows hard, and the tempest lowers, I hope that before long there will be s lull; but when the sea-birds sit on the wave, and the sail hangs idly, I wonder when a gale will come. To my mind there is no temptation so bad as not being tempted at all. The worst devil in the world is when you cannot see the devil at all, because the villain has hidden himself away within the heart, and is preparing to give you a fatal stab. Since there is an everlasting arm that never can he palsied, since there is a brow that knows no wrinkle, and a Divine mind that is never perplexed, we go forward in hope, and cast ourselves upon our eternal Helper once again. You have heard of the ancient giant Antaeus, who could not be overcome, because as often as Hercules threw him to the ground, he touched his mother earth, and rose renewed. Such be your lot and mine, often to be cast down, and as often to rise by that downcasting. "When I am weak then am I strong." Let us glory in infirmity, because the power of Christ doth rest upon us.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
The voice of Joy, and the voice of gladness.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
And of them that shall bring the sacrifice Of praise.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
"Give all thou canst — high heaven rejects the love
Of nicely calculated less or more."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
This is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness.
1. Let me now observe of this righteousness that it is a perfect righteousness. When Christ exclaimed on the Cross, in the language partly of agony, and partly of triumph, "It is finished," He announced in these accents that that moment there was provided a perfect robe, of perfect and of spotless beauty, for every sinner under heaven, who would put forth the hand of faith, and appropriate it "without money and without price."
2. This righteousness is an everlasting righteousness. Death shall not tarnish it, the grave shall not corrupt it, the wear and tear of life shall not destroy it.
3. This righteousness is ours, to the exclusion of all other whatever. Christ says to the queen on the throne, and to the meanest beggar by the wayside, "Ye must both be saved by putting on the same perfect righteousness, or ye must be lost for ever."
4. This righteousness is ours by imputation. Our sins were transferred to Him, and He endured the consequences of them; His righteousness is transferred to us, and we realise the fruits of it.
5. This righteousness is received by faith, and by faith alone. There are three things to be noticed; first, the spring; secondly, the water; and thirdly, the pipe that conveys the water. The spring, in this instance, is the love of God; the element, that justifies us, is the righteousness of Jesus; and faith is the channel, or the conduit, by which that righteousness is conveyed to us and made ours. It is the mere medium, not the merit; it is the mere hand that receives; and in no sense has it any part or share of the merit or glory.
6. I would observe of this righteousness that it insures, wherever it is, everlasting glory. "Whom He justifies," "He glorifies." Where He begins, He finishes; what He commences by grace, that He consummates and creams in glory. The Church's glory, derived from her Lord, is the righteousness of Christ; her beauty is that moral and spiritual beauty, which derived from heaven, defies the assaults of earth and hell, making its heirs the meet companions of Christ at heaven's high festival.
7. This Church, thus justified in the righteousness of Christ, is, in the next place, free from all condemnation. All things minister peace and blessedness to her who is at friendship with God, and identified with Jesus. For "this is the name by which she shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness."
8. This way of salvation excludes all boasting. Just because man is saved wholly through grace — wholly through the righteousness of another, and his very name is the name of another, therefore, this redeemed, elect, ransomed Church will east her crown before the throne of God and of the Lamb, and say, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain," &c.
9. I observe that this mode of justification does not make void the law of God. "Nay," says the apostle, "we rather establish the law." You have in this fact clear and decisive evidence that it is the elevation of the Cross that makes all the moralities rise and cling and coil around it, and bloom and blossom. The Gospel alone in fact can give true and high-toned morality.
10. This righteousness is that alone in which we may glory. There is nothing but the Gospel that is worth glorying in. There is a moth in the fairest robe — there is a worm in the goodliest cedar — there is disease in the healthiest frame and rust on the purest gold. None of these things can satisfy men's souls with happiness. There is no glorying but in the righteousness of Christ, that is bright, pure, enduring, the prolific source of all that is good.
(J. Gumming, D. D.)
Great Thoughts.Matthew Arnold, one of the prominent leaders of modern Agnosticism, thus speaks of Christ in his Literature and Dogma: "Christ came to reveal what righteousness really is... Nothing will do except righteousness; and no other conception of righteousness will do except Christ's conception of it; His method and secret." And in another part of the same book he writes: "For our race, as we see it now, and as ourselves we form a part of it, the true God is and must be perfect."
If ye can break My covenant of the day, and My covenant of the night... Then may also My covenant be broken with David My servant.
(G. L. Taylor, D. D.)
Homilist.I. THE ALMIGHTY BOTH IN THE MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL DEPARTMENTS OF HIS UNIVERSE ACTS FROM PLAN.
1. The text speaks of a "covenant" with material nature as well as with David.
2. The Infinite One acts evermore from plan.(1) A priori reasoning would suggest this.(2) The constitution of the creation shews this. The laws of nature about which philosophers talk are only parts of His plan which they have discovered.(3) The Bible teaches this. It speaks of Him appointing everything in nature (Genesis 1; Genesis 8:21, 22; Isaiah 4:10, 11; Psalm 104. &c.).
II. THE PLAN ON WHICH GOD CONDUCTS THE MATERIAL UNIVERSE IS MANIFESTLY BEYOND THE POWER OF HIS CREATURES TO ALTER.
1. This is a blessing to all. If men could alter the order of nature what would become of us!
2. This is an argument for the Divinity of miracles, if miracles are changes in the order of nature.
III. THE UNALTERABLENESS OF HIS PLAN IN MATERIAL NATURE ILLUSTRATES THE UNALTERABLENESS OF HIS PLAN IN THE SPIRITUAL DEPARTMENT OF ACTION. It is not impossible for God to reverse the order of nature, but it is impossible for God to act contrary to those principles of absolute truth and justice which He has revealed