If thou wilt return,...and if thou wilt put away thine abominations...then shalt thou not remove.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
And thou shalt swear.I. THE COMMAND. Did Christ countermand this? (Matthew 5:34.) The Son forbid in the Gospel what the Father bids in the law? God bids thee swear, so thy oath be truthful and needful; Christ forbids swearing which is truthless and needless.
II. THE FORM. God bade us swear; now He tells us how. "The Lord liveth." It is, then, impiety to swear by creatures. God prevents all evasion by the name He here gives — "the Lord"; not any god the swearer would substitute, as some swear by angels, called in Scripture "Elohim," and superstition worships them as gods.
III. THREE PARTICULARS.
1. "In truth." Perjury is impious — makes that which is the sign and seal of truth, the cloak of falsehood.
2. "In judgment." Swear not upon guess only.
3. "In righteousness." To any act against right or religion bind not thyself, let not any bind thee.
(R. Clerke, D. D.)
Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns
Homilist.I. Proper attention to the SOIL.
1. Variety of condition.
2. Capability of improvement.
II. Proper attention to the SEED.
1. Care in selection of true spiritual seed. The Gospel —
(1) (2) (3) (4) 2. Attention must also be paid to its growth. III. Proper attention to the SEASON. 1. Youth. 2. The season of moral seriousness, when the heart has been softened. (Homilist.)
(2) (3) (4) 2. Attention must also be paid to its growth. III. Proper attention to the SEASON. 1. Youth. 2. The season of moral seriousness, when the heart has been softened. (Homilist.)
(3) (4) 2. Attention must also be paid to its growth. III. Proper attention to the SEASON. 1. Youth. 2. The season of moral seriousness, when the heart has been softened. (Homilist.)
2. Attention must also be paid to its growth. III. Proper attention to the SEASON. 1. Youth. 2. The season of moral seriousness, when the heart has been softened. (Homilist.)
2. Attention must also be paid to its growth.
III. Proper attention to the SEASON.
2. The season of moral seriousness, when the heart has been softened.
Homilist.The people referred to as sowing among thorns are those, perhaps, who are endeavouring by religious study and effort to get the seeds of Divine good into them when their hearts remain full of worldly things.
I. A GRAND EVIL. Sowing precious seed in bad soil involves three things.
1. Loss of seed. The precious grain has been thrown away.
2. Loss of labour. All the efforts employed go for nothing.
3. Loss of hope. All the bright anticipations of a glorious future frustrated.
II. AN URGENT DUTY. "Break up your fallow ground." This means in one word evangelical repentance for sin.
1. This in moral, as well as material, agriculture is hard work. A skilful ploughman, a strong plough and a vigorous team are necessary. It is hard work to repent.
2. This in moral, as well as in material, agriculture is indispensable work.
I. THE NECESSITY OF FALLOWING THE GROUND is obvious to all who are practically acquainted with tillage: and such as are experimentally informed on the subject of the evil and barrenness of their own hearts, will admit the absolute requirement of a similar mental process. All your carnal hopes, and criminal opposition to the Divine will, must be completely eradicated.
II. THE NATURE of this part of a farmer's business will well Illustrate the correspondent toil of a believer. No attempt to cleanse the heart, however disagreeable, is intentionally neglected by the sincere believer — no effort is relied upon; all is subservient to the expected influences of heaven.
III. THE ADVANTAGES of this procedure. Those who make thorough work with their own hearts, will find that their religious joys and better hopes, though delayed, shall be most vigorous; their subsequent sufferings from the grieving thorn and pricking brier shall be fewer; and a richer harvest shall at length crown their toil.
1. If you desire permanent prosperity and joy in the Holy Ghost, break up the fallow ground — sow not among thorns.
2. Be personal in this labour. Turn your eyes from others to yourself.
3. Remember your own unworthiness, and the poverty of your unassisted endeavours.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
A dry wind of the high places in the wilderness toward the daughter of My people, not to fan, nor to cleanse.
I. LET US INQUIRE IF THIS PENAL ELEMENT HAS A PLACE IN THE BEST HUMAN GOVERNMENTS. If we work out to its logical conclusion the theory that all punishment must be disciplinary only, we shall be bound to adopt methods of procedure in our law courts more grotesque than the most audacious caricature has ever imagined. We must have no short sentences if all penalty is to be educating. We have no right to discharge a man, however slight his transgression, till he has given sufficient assurance that his character has been entirely transformed. Judge and jury would no longer need to concern themselves with the particular category into which his crime came. The only question for them to ask would be, how far does the root of evil go down in this man's character? and what amount of force will be necessary to pull it up? Some men, who are incapable of amendment through pain, can perhaps be stirred to better desires, or at least taken away from their criminal tendencies, by wholesome excitements. Experts would have to step into the witness box. In some cases it might be found that a garrotter would be more sensibly improved by wholesome excitements than by flogging. Carlyle inveighed from time to time against this unhealthy sentimentalism which would sap the foundation of all human and Divine law alike. In the "Life of Bishop Wilberforce" reference is made to a party at which Monckton Milnes, Thomas Carlyle, and other distinguished men were present. The conversation turned upon the question of capital punishment. .Mr. Monckton Milnes was arguing against death-penalties, on the ground that we could not know how far the offender was responsible and consciously wrong. Carlyle broke out, "None of your heaven-and-hell amalgamation companies for me! We do know what is wickedness. I know wicked men I would not live with: men whom under some conceivable circumstances I would kill or they should kill me. No, Milnes; there is no truth or greatness in that. It's just poor, miserable littleness. There was far more greatness in the way of your German forefathers, who, when they found one of those wicked men, dragged him to a peat bog, and thrust him in, and said, "There! go in there. There is the place for all such as thee:"
II. IF THIS PENAL ELEMENT IS ADMITTED INTO HUMAN GOVERNMENTS, UPON WHAT CONCEIVABLE PRINCIPLE CAN IT BE EXCLUDED FROM THE DIVINE? Many causes combine to weaken the sense we have of our own authority to punish wrong-doing. It is a strictly delegated authority. We always feel ourselves bound to greater restraint and circumspection in the exercise of delegated than original rights. We often feel ourselves incompetent judges of all that has transpired. We judge and punish in dim twilights. That tends to make us hesitating and indeterminate. And then the sense of our own authority to judge and to punish is weakened by the recollection we have of our own desert of punishment in many things. Unless the offence is very flagrant, we fear to incriminate ourselves by judging another. And yet, notwithstanding all these things, we are absolutely sure of our clear abstract right to punish even in cases where the punishment has no educating purpose to fulfil to the individual, whatever it may have to the community. How much stronger is God's right! His authority is original, and not delegated. He guarantees in every soul He judges the sufficiency of the past training and discipline. He dwells in the perfect light. His judgment can never be unnerved by the fear of error.
III. Disciplinary are distinguished from penal judgments, not so much by any quality in the judgments themselves, as by THE TEMPER OF THOSE WHO BECOME THE SUBJECTS OF SUCH JUDGMENTS. The question whether purely penal elements can enter into God's government is one that must be looked at from the standpoint of the transgressor rather than that of the Judge. Are there incorrigible elements in human nature? As a matter of fact, judgments very often fail to sober and to purify here. There are men who can never be taught wisdom by the longest succession of business reverses. There are men who, humanly speaking, can never be taught common morality, however heavy the penalties they are made to pay for its breach. There are worldly men whom no number of sicknesses and providential bereavements can discipline into religiousness. Where there are unreformable elements in human character, disciplinary judgment necessarily passes into the purely punitive stage. It is often argued that the keener judgments of the life to come will produce penitence in those who have continued stubborn under the milder judgments of the present life. There is not only no proof of that, but nothing even to suggest that it is probable. We cannot predicate anything from the cumulative power of pain. The wind does not become purifying by mere increase of the force with which it blows. After reaching a certain pitch of violence it can neither "fan nor cleanse."
IV. The judgment that has passed out of the disciplinary into the penal stage for the individual is still DISCIPLINARY IN ITS SIGNIFICANCE FOR THE RACE AT LARGE. The wind that blows to crush and to scorch and to uproot in one zone of the earth, after it has passed into new latitudes, and been tempered by the seas over which it travels, may become a wind of winnowing beneficence. The penal visitation of one generation may become the saving chastisement of the generation that follows it. We must not get into the habit of supposing that God's purposes ever terminate in the individual. That mystery of unending punishment, which seems to frustrate the Divine purpose of mercy to the individual, may fulfil a purpose of gracious admonition to the race. The law of vicariousness pervades the moral universe just as widely as the law of gravitation overspreads the natural universe. There is a priesthood of vicarious judgment as well as of mercy. As great fires are kindled in times of plague to burn up the germs of infection floating in the air, so the atmosphere of God's universe may need to be kept pure by the flames of a quenchless Gehenna.
(T. G. Selby.)
Wash thine heart from wickedness.
Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.I. THE NATURAL DEPRAVITY OF THE HUMAN HEART.
1. This doctrine requires definition. Depravity of the heart includes —
(1) (2) (3) 2. This doctrine demands evidence. (1) (2) (3) II. THE SPIRITUAL PURITY WHICH THE LORD REQUIRES. 1. The possibility of obtaining purity of heart. This appears from — (1) (2) (3) (4) 2. The important duty of seeking purity of heart. III. THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF PERSONAL HOLINESS. 1. A necessary property of religion. 2. A necessary meetness for heaven. (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
(2) (3) 2. This doctrine demands evidence. (1) (2) (3) II. THE SPIRITUAL PURITY WHICH THE LORD REQUIRES. 1. The possibility of obtaining purity of heart. This appears from — (1) (2) (3) (4) 2. The important duty of seeking purity of heart. III. THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF PERSONAL HOLINESS. 1. A necessary property of religion. 2. A necessary meetness for heaven. (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
(3) 2. This doctrine demands evidence. (1) (2) (3) II. THE SPIRITUAL PURITY WHICH THE LORD REQUIRES. 1. The possibility of obtaining purity of heart. This appears from — (1) (2) (3) (4) 2. The important duty of seeking purity of heart. III. THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF PERSONAL HOLINESS. 1. A necessary property of religion. 2. A necessary meetness for heaven. (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
2. This doctrine demands evidence.
II. THE SPIRITUAL PURITY WHICH THE LORD REQUIRES. 1. The possibility of obtaining purity of heart. This appears from — 2. The important duty of seeking purity of heart. III. THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF PERSONAL HOLINESS. 1. A necessary property of religion. 2. A necessary meetness for heaven. (Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
II. THE SPIRITUAL PURITY WHICH THE LORD REQUIRES.
1. The possibility of obtaining purity of heart. This appears from —
2. The important duty of seeking purity of heart.
III. THE ABSOLUTE NECESSITY OF PERSONAL HOLINESS.
1. A necessary property of religion.
2. A necessary meetness for heaven.
(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)
Spurgeon, "the great reservoirs provided by our water companies, in which the water to supply thousands of houses is kept. Now the heart is the reservoir of man, and our life is allowed to flow in its proper season. That life may flow through different pipes — the mouth, the hand, the eye; but still all the issues of hand, of eye, of lip derive their source from the great fountain and central reservoir, the heart; and hence there is great necessity for keeping this reservoir in a proper state and condition, since otherwise that which flows through the pipes must be tainted and corrupt." How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee? — Vain thoughts: —
I. CHARACTERISTICS. Those thoughts are vain —
1. From which we do not and cannot reap any good.
2. Which cannot associate in any agreement with useful and valuable ones.
3. Which have to be kept out in order for the mind to attend to any serious or good purpose.
4. Which dwell largely and habitually on trifling things.
5. Which trifle with important things.
6. Which are fickle, not remaining with any continuance on a subject.
7. When the mind has some specially favourite trifle, some cherished, idolised toy.
8. Which continually return to things justly claiming a measure of attention, when the thinking of them can be no advantage.
9. When the mind dwells on fancies of how things might be or might have been, when the reality of how they are is before us.
10. Which men indulge concerning notions and schemings of worldly felicity.
1. Have specified subjects of serious interest to turn to when thought reverts to these vanities.
2. Make a sudden charge of guilt on your mind when vain thoughts prevail.
3. Have recourse to the direct act of devotion.
4. Interrupt and stop them by the question, What is just now my most pressing duty?
5. Have recourse to some practical occupation, matter of business, or a visit to some house of mourning.
6. Constrain your habitual thinking to go along with the thoughts of those who have thought the best, by reading the most valuable books.
7. Think to a certain purpose — towards a purposed end.
8. Reflect on how many things we have to do with which vain thoughts interfere; and also, what would have been the result of good thoughts instead of so many vain.
9. Discipline of the thoughts greatly depends on the company a man keeps (Proverbs 13:20).
10. If the complaint be urged, that this discipline involves much that is hard and difficult, we answer, It is just as hard as to do justice to a rational and immortal spirit placed here a little while by God for its improvement, and then to go where appoints. Hard, but indispensable.
I. HERE ARE CERTAIN BAD LODGERS.
1. Many thoughts may be called vain because they are proud, conceited thoughts. Thus, whenever a man thinks himself good by nature, we may say of his thoughts, "Vanity of vanities: all is vanity." If you are unrenewed, and dream that you are better than others because your parents were godly, it is a vain thought. Every thought of self-righteousness is a vain thought; every idea, moreover, of self-power — that you can do this and do that towards your own salvation, and that at any time when it pleases you you can turn and become a Christian, and so there is no need to be in a hurry, or to seek the help of the Holy Spirit: — that also is a vain thought.
2. Another sort of vain thoughts may be ranged under the head of carnal security. The poet says, "All men think all men mortal but themselves," and often as the saying is quoted never was a proverb more generally true.
3. I know another set of thoughts: they are better looking, but they are equally vain, for they promise much and come to nothing: they are vain because they are fruitless. These vain thoughts are like the better order of people in Jerusalem — good people after a sort — that is to say, they really thought that as God threatened them with judgments, they would turn to Him. Certainly they would. They had no intention of being hard hearted. Far from it; they owned the power of the prophet's appeal; they felt a degree of awe in the presence of the just God as He threatened them, and of course they meant — they meant to wash their hearts, and they meant to put away all their forbidden practices; not just yet, but by and by. Some men brood so long over their future intentions that they all of them become addled eggs, and nothing whatever is hatched. O man, "whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it," do it, do it "with thy might."
II. NOW, LET ME SHOW WHAT BAD LODGERS THEY ARE.
1. First, they are deceitful. The man that says, "When I have a more convenient season I will send for thee," does not send for Paul any more: he never intended to do so. A man says, "Tomorrow"; but tomorrow never comes. When that comes which would have been "tomorrow" it is "today"; and then he cries, "Tomorrow," and so multiplies lies before God.
2. Vain thoughts are bad lodgers, for they pay no rent; they bring in nothing good to those who entertain them. There is the ledger of self-righteousness, for instance: what good does self-righteousness ever do to the man who entertains it? It pretends to pay in brass farthings: it pretends to pay, but the money is counterfeit. What good does it do to any man to harbour in his mind the empty promise of future repentance? It often prevents repentance.
3. The next reason for the ejectment of these lodgers is this: that they are wasting your goods and destroying your property. For instance, every unacted resolution wastes time, and that is more precious than gold. It also wastes thought, for to think of a thing and to leave it undone is a waste of reflection. It is a waste of energy to be energetic about merely promising to be energetic; it is a great waste of strength to be forever resolving to be strong, and yet to remain weak.
4. Worst of all, these vain thoughts are bad lodgers because they bring you under condemnation. There have been times when to entertain certain persons was treason, and many individuals have been put to death for harbouring traitors. Rebels condemned to die have been discovered in a man's house, and he has been condemned for affording them a hiding place. Now, God declares that these vain thoughts of yours are condemned traitors. Are you going to harbour them any longer?
III. LET US SEE WHAT TO DO WITH THESE BAD LODGERS.
1. The first thing is to give them notice to quit at once. Let there be no waiting. When a man is converted it is done at once. There is a line, thin as a razor's edge, which divides death from life, a point of decision which separates the saved from the lost.
2. Suppose that these vain thoughts will not go just when you bid them begone. I will tell you what to do to get rid of them: starve them out. Lock the door, and let nothing enter upon which they can feed.
3. The best way in all the world that I know of to get rid of vain thoughts out of your house — these bad lodgers that have gone in and that you cannot get out — is to sell the house over their heads. Let the house change owners. When you have dope that, you know, it will be the new owner that will have the trouble of turning them out; and He will do it. I recommend every sinner here that wants to find salvation to give himself up to Christ. Ah, now the stronger than they are has come, and He will bind the strong ones, and He will fling them out of window, and so break them to pieces with their fall that they shall never be able to crawl up the stairs again. He knows how to do it. He can expel them; you cannot.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. WHAT IS MEANT BY THOUGHTS?
1. The internal acts of the mind; reasonings, resolutions, consultations, desires, cares, etc.(1) The thinking, meditating, musing power in man, which enables him to conceive, apprehend, fancy.(2) Thoughts which the mind frames within itself (Proverbs 6:14; James 1:15; Isaiah 59:4-7).(3) Thoughts which the mind in and by itself begets and entertains.
2. What vanity is.(1) Unprofitableness (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 3).(2) Lightness (Psalm 62:9).(3) Folly (Proverbs 12:11).(4) Inconstancy (Psalm 144:4; Psalm 146:4).(5) Wicked and sinful (2 Chronicles 13:7; Proverbs 24:9).
II. THE PARTICULARS WHEREIN THIS VANITY OF THE THINKING, MEDITATING POWER OF MAN CONSISTS.
1. In regard to thinking what is good.(1) A want of ability to raise and extract holy and useful considerations and thoughts from the occurrences and occasions which surround us.(2) A loathness to entertain holy thoughts.(3) The mind will not be long intent on good thoughts.(4) If the mind think of good things, it does so unseasonably; intrudes on prayer and interrupts it (Proverbs 16:3).
2. The readiness of the mind to think on evil and vain things.(1) This vanity shows itself in foolishness (Mark 7:22), which proves itself in the unsettledness and independence of our thoughts.(2) If any strong lust or passion be up, our thoughts are too fixed and intent.(3) A restless curiosity concerning things not affecting us.(4) Taking thought to fulfil the lusts of our flesh.(5) Acting sins over again in our imagination.
III. REMEDIES AGAINST VAIN THOUGHTS.
1. Get the heart furnished and enriched with a good stock of sanctified and heavenly knowledge in spiritual truths.
2. Endeavour to preserve and keep up lively, holy, and spiritual affections in the heart.
3. Get the heart possessed with deep and powerful apprehensions of God's holiness, majesty, omniscience, and omnipresence.
4. In the morning when thou awakest, as did David (Psalm 119:18), prevent the vain thoughts the heart naturally engenders by filling it with thoughts of God.
5. Have a watchful eye upon thy heart all day; though vain thoughts crowd in, let them know that they pass not unseen.
8. In thy calling and all thy ways commit thy goings to the Lord (Proverbs 16:3).
( T. Goodwin, B. D.)
I. WHAT ARE VAIN THOUGHTS?
1. Unprofitable imaginations.
2. Unscriptural opinions.
3. Unholy desires.
4. Unseasonable ideas.
II. THE SOLEMN INQUIRY. "How long?"
1. Shall it be till some temporal judgment be sent to awaken you out of your carnal security?
2. Till habit rivets these vain thoughts, and makes repentance and conversion harder than ever?
3. Till the grieved Saviour forsakes thee, and the resisted Spirit ceases to strive with thee?
4. Till the sentence goes forth, cut it down, why cumbereth it the ground?
(J. Jowett, M. A.)
Homilist.I. IT IS THE GLORY OF MAN THAT HE CAN THINK.
1. Thought brings the outward universe into man's soul, and thus makes it his own.
2. Thought enables us to subordinate the outward world to our service.
3. By the power of thought we construct new universes.
4. Thought determines our condition.(1) Even materially, it influences our health, shapes our countenance, tunes our voice.(2) Spiritually, our condition is almost absolutely governed by thought. By thought we can pierce the heavens, enter into the holy of holies, hold fellowship with the Infinite. By thought we can break forth from our own little earthly sphere — make God our centre, and run a wider and brighter orbit than the stars.
II. IT IS THE CURSE OF MAN THAT HE THINKS WRONGLY.
1. Vain thoughts find a lodgment in the minds of some. If the thoughts cherished be vain, the life pursued will be vain. In order in some measure to estimate the amount of vain thought cherished by men, let us do three things. Compare the true theory of happiness with the conduct which men pursue in order to obtain it; the true theory of greatness with the efforts which they put forth in order to realise it; and the true theory of religion with their conduct in relation to it.
2. The expulsion of vain thoughts is a matter of urgent importance.(1) They can be got rid of. By consecration of our energies to true work. By companionship with truthful souls. By realising the constant presence of the heart-inspecting God. By a change in the governing dispositions of the mind.(2) The urgent necessity of this. They waste the mental life; corrupt the heart; imperil the soul.
I. THE EVIL OF PERMITTING VAIN THOUGHTS TO LODGE WITHIN US. By vain thoughts may be meant all unlawful desires, vile affections, wicked tempers, and mischievous imaginations of every kind. If these, or any other evil thoughts to which we are subject, lodge in our breasts, they must render our persons abominable to God, corrupt all our performances, and produce many bitter fruits.
II. THE NECESSITY OF WASHING OUR HEARTS FROM WICKEDNESS. As it would be madness in the husbandman to sow his seed upon ground that was covered with thorns, so it is equally foolish to expect the fruit of good living in any person whose heart lies fallow, unbroken, and overspread with the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things, which our Saviour calls thorns.
American National Preacher.Anyone who has visited lime stone caves has noticed the stalactite pillars, sometimes large and massive, by which they are adorned and supported. They are nature's masonry of solid rock formed by her own slow, silent, and mysterious process. The little drop of water percolates through the roof of the cavern and deposits its sediment, and another follows it, till the icicle of stone is formed, and finally reaching to the rock beneath, it becomes a solid pillar, a marble monument which can only be rent down by the most powerful forces. But is there not going forward oftentimes in the caverns of the human heart a process as silent and effective, yet infinitely more momentous? There in the darkness that shrouds all from the view of the outward observer, each thought and feeling, as light and inconsiderable perhaps as the little drops of water, sinks downward into the soul, and deposits — yet in a form almost imperceptible — what we may call its sediment. And then another and another follows, till the traces of all combined become more manifest; and if these thoughts and feelings are charged with the sediment of worldliness and worldly passion, then all around the walls of this spiritual cavern stand in massive proportions the pillars of sinful inclination and the props of iniquity, and only a convulsion like that which rends the solid globe can rend them from their place and shake their hold.
(American National Preacher.)
(Bp. E. Hopkins.)
I am pained at my very heart.I. THE COMPLAINT OR LAMENTATION ITSELF.
1. The parts affected. The soul and inward man.(1) The secrecy of it, the mind and soul being inward and hidden.(2) The mind receives and digests the thoughts.(3) The mind is the mother of thoughts, conceiving and generating them.
2. The grief of those parts.(1) God need not go far for the punishment of wicked men; He can do it from within themselves; can punish a man with his own affections and thoughts.(2) What good cause we have to regulate and control our affections, avoid passion and excess of emotion, take care to be pacific, and enjoy a sabbatic tranquillity in our spirits.
3. The passage or vent.(1) The speech of discovery. He cannot help revealing these workings of his own spirit.(2) The speech of lamentation. He must bewail and utter complaint, his anguish was so great (Job 7:11).
II. THE GROUND OR OCCASION OF HIS LAMENTATION.
1. The tidings or report itself.
(1) (2) (3) 2. The conveyance of it to the prophet.(1) The soul, through the corporeal organ of hearing.(2) The soul immediately, as being that which had communion with God.(3) The soul emphatically; that is heard, indeed, which is heard by the soul. Hence — (a) (b) 3. The improvement or use he makes of it.(1) His meditations aroused his affections. (a) (b) (a) (b) (c) (T. Herren, D. D.)
(2) (3) 2. The conveyance of it to the prophet.(1) The soul, through the corporeal organ of hearing.(2) The soul immediately, as being that which had communion with God.(3) The soul emphatically; that is heard, indeed, which is heard by the soul. Hence — (a) (b) 3. The improvement or use he makes of it.(1) His meditations aroused his affections. (a) (b) (a) (b) (c) (T. Herren, D. D.)
(3) 2. The conveyance of it to the prophet.(1) The soul, through the corporeal organ of hearing.(2) The soul immediately, as being that which had communion with God.(3) The soul emphatically; that is heard, indeed, which is heard by the soul. Hence — (a) (b) 3. The improvement or use he makes of it.(1) His meditations aroused his affections. (a) (b) (a) (b) (c) (T. Herren, D. D.)
3. The improvement or use he makes of it.(1) His meditations aroused his affections. (b) (c) (T. Herren, D. D.)
3. The improvement or use he makes of it.(1) His meditations aroused his affections.
(b) (c) (T. Herren, D. D.)
(c) (T. Herren, D. D.)
(T. Herren, D. D.)
The alarm of war.
(J. M. Lang, D. D.)
I. OF HEARING THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET AND THE ALARM OF WAR.
1. We ought to have our ears open to the voice of God in the dispensations of His providence (Micah 6:9).
2. When we hear the sound of the trumpet, and the alarm of war, we ought to consider the causes of these alarms. The prophets often denounce war as a judgment of God against His people, or against the Gentiles. In publishing such threatenings they, for the most part, speak of the sins that have provoked God to afflict His creatures with this calamity; and when they do not specify the grounds of the Lord's controversy, as in chap. Jeremiah 49, they leave no room to doubt that God is justly displeased. God has just reason, for our sins at present, not only to threaten, but to punish us with His vengeance. We ought to wonder at His forbearance, that He has not long since caused the sword to reach unto the whole of the nation, to avenge the quarrel of His covenant.
3. The probable or possible consequences of these alarms of war ought to come under our view when we hear the sound of the trumpet and the alarm of war. When we make that preparation which religion enjoins against possible evils, if these evils should not overtake us, we are no losers, but gainers. The fear of evil has often been. productive of much good. "Happy is the man who feareth always," and especially in times when there is peculiar cause of fear; "but he who hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief."
II. THE IMPRESSION WHICH THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET AND THE ALARM OF WAR OUGHT TO MAKE UPON US.
1. Those external scenes of distress which are the consequences of war must give pain to a heart that is not contracted and hardened by a reigning selfishness of spirit.
2. Souls precipitated into an eternal world must awaken awful sensations in those who believe that, when the dust returns to the earth as it was, the spirit returns to God who gave it.
3. The influence that wars may have upon the interests of religion is a source of anxious concern to the lovers of God (Lamentations 1:9; Lamentations 2:6, 7, 9). Amidst the ravages of war, even in our own times, we have too often heard of the alienation or destruction of houses ordinarily employed in the services of religion. Should God, in His wrath, refuse us His help against those who threaten the subversion of our liberties, who can foresee what dismal consequences in the state of religion would ensue?
4. God's indignation, apparent in the alarms of war, ought to impress every mind with deep concern.
III. WHAT IMPROVEMENT IS TO BE MADE OF THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPET AND OF THE ALARM OF WAR?
1. Let us consider our ways, and inquire how far we are chargeable with those provocations of the Divine majesty which expose us to danger from our enemies. When God threatens judgments, He observes our behaviour. He returns and repents when men are ready to acknowledge their offences, and to forsake them; but woe to those who are at ease in their sins, and never inquire what are the causes of the Lord's contendings with them.
2. We ought to humble ourselves before God, on account of our iniquities. Observe in what manner Ezra and Daniel bewailed and confessed their own iniquities, and the iniquities of their people (Ezra 9; Daniel 9:1). What would we think of a child that did not mourn when his father was justly displeased with him? We would think that he was cursed with a disposition that totally disqualified him for enjoying the sweetest pleasures that man can taste. By this similitude the Scripture teaches us how unnatural a thing insensibility to the chastisements of the Divine hand ought to be reputed (Numbers 12:14).
3. Supplications for pardoning and reforming grace ought to accompany our humiliation. We are greatly encouraged to pray by the many examples of successful petitioners for public mercies in Scripture. The ways of God are everlasting. He delights in mercy. He puts words into our mouth for imploring His mercy. He hath left us many promises of merciful returns to our prayers, that we may be encouraged to come boldly to His throne of grace for mercy to ourselves, to our friends and brethren, to the Church, to our king and country.
4. We are warned by the sound of the trumpet and the alarms of war to make God our refuge, and the Most High our habitation. To trust to ourselves is the fruit of atheism. If there is a God, He rules in the army of heaven and amongst the inhabitants of the earth; and He does according to His pleasure. He sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers. He bringeth the princes of the earth to nought; He maketh its judges as vanity. "But the name of the Lord is a strong tower of defence," some may say, "only for the righteous (Proverbs 18:10). And we are conscious of so many evils, that we have no reason to hope for protection from the Holy One, who takes no pleasure in wickedness, and will not suffer evil to dwell with Him." It is true, the Lord our God is holy; but it is true likewise, that He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin. "Him that cometh unto Me," says Jesus, "I will in no wise cast out." You have perhaps heard some ridiculous stories of men that, by some magical secret, were rendered invulnerable in battle. You would not be afraid to encounter the most formidable armies if you were masters of such a secret; but, if thou canst believe, "all things are possible to him that believeth." "He that liveth, and believeth in Me, shall never die." Who is he that can kill those who cannot die? The words, you will say, must be figuratively understood; for who is the man that liveth, and shall not see death? But, however they are to be understood, they are true and faithful sayings of the Amen, the faithful and true Witness, of Him that liveth, and was dead, and is alive for evermore, and holds the keys of the spiritual world, and of death. You are called to mourning in days of danger, but not to that kind of mourning which swallows up the soul. You are called to mourn, that you may rejoice; to be afflicted for your sins, that you may flee from wrath to Christ, and find in Him safety, security, and joy.
5. The sound of the trumpet and the alarm of war is a loud call to us to cease to do evil, and to learn to do well. Our faith in God is a delusion if we hold fast our iniquities. Our faith in Christ, if it is genuine, will purify our hearts and lives. We are exposed to danger, not only from our own personal sins, but from the sins of our fellow subjects; and therefore we ought not only to forsake sin, but to use all our influence to turn other sinners from the error of their ways. It is a righteous thing with God, that those who do not duly oppose the prevalence of sin should share in the miseries which it brings. We ought not only to renounce all iniquity, but to live in the habitual practice of every duty which God requires.
Suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.terra firma, but there is nothing firm upon it; it is tossed to and fro like a troubled sea evermore. We are never for any long time in one stay; change is perpetually operating. Nothing is sure but that which is Divine; nothing is abiding except that which cometh down from heaven.
I. A SUDDEN SPOILING HAPPENS TO HUMAN RIGHTEOUSNESS.
1. Let us look at the history of human righteousness, and begin in the garden of Eden, and lament the fall. Adam in his perfection could not maintain his righteousness, how can you and I, who are imperfect from the very birth, hope to do so?
2. A second instance of this very commonly occurs in the failure of the moralist's resolutions. See yonder young people, tutored from their childhood in everything that is good: their character is excellent and admirable, but will it so abide? Will not the enemy despoil their tents?
3. Another liability of human righteousness is one which I must not call a calamity, seeing it is the commencement of the greatest blessing: I mean when the Spirit of God comes to deal with human righteousness, by way of illumination and conviction. Here we can speak of what we know experimentally. How beautiful our righteousness is, and how it flourishes like a comely flower till the Spirit of God blows upon it, and then it withers quite away, like the grass in the hot sirocco. The first lesson of the Holy Ghost to the heart is to lay bare its deceivableness, and to uncover before us its loathsomeness, where we thought that everything was true and acceptable. I would ask all who are under conviction of sin to answer this question, "When thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do?" May you reply, "We know what we will do. We will flee from self to Jesus. Our precious things are removed, and our choice treasure is taken from us; therefore do we take the Lord Jesus to be our all in all."
4. But there will come to all human righteousness one other time of spoiling, if neither of those should happen which I have mentioned before. Remorse will come, and that very probably in the hour of death, if not before.
II. The words of our text are exceedingly applicable to THE SPOILING OF ALL EARTHLY COMFORTS.
1. Sudden destruction to all our earthly comforts is common to all sorts of men. It may happen to the best as well as to the worst. As darts the hawk upon its prey, so does affliction fall upon the unsuspecting sons of Adam. As the earthquake on a sudden overthrows a city, so does adversity shake the estate of mortals.
2. Sudden trial comes in various forms. Here below nothing is certain but universal uncertainty. One way or another, God knoweth how to bring the rod home to us, and to make us smart till we cry out, "How suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment."
3. Now this might well be expected. Do we wonder when we are suddenly deprived of our earthly comforts? Are they not fleeting things? When they came to us did we receive a lease of them, or were we promised that they should last forever? All that we possess here below is God's property; He has only loaned it out to us, and what He lends He has a right to take back again. We hold our possessions and our friends, not upon freehold, but upon lease terminable at the Supreme Owner's option; do you wonder when the holding ceases?
4. Since these calamities may be expected, let us be prepared for them. "How?" say you. Why, by holding all earthly things loosely; by having them as though you had them not; by looking at them as fleeting, and never expecting them to abide with you.
5. Let us take care to make good use of our comforts while we possess them. Since they hastily fly by us, let us catch them on the wing, and diligently employ them for God's glory. Let us commit our all to the custody of God, who is our all in all. Such a blessed thing is faith in God that if the believer should lose everything he possesses here below he would have small cause for sorrow so long as he kept his faith.
6. But let us solemnly remind you that in times when we meet with sudden calamity God is putting you to the test, and trying the love and faith of those who profess to be His people. "When thou art spoiled, what writ thou do?" You thought you loved God: do you love Him now? You said He was your Father, but that was when He kissed you; is He your Father now that He chastens you?
III. There may come A SUDDEN SPOILING OF LIFE ITSELF. In a moment prostrated by disease and brought to death's door, frail man may well cry out, How suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment!"
1. It is by no means unusual for men to die on a sudden.
2. Not one man or woman here has a guarantee that he or she shall live till tomorrow. It is almost a misuse of language to talk about life insurance, for we cannot insure our lives; they must forever remain uninsured as to their continuance here. "When thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do?" When on a sudden the curtains of our tent shall rend in twain, and the tent pole shall be snapped, and the body shall lie a desolate ruin, what shall we then do? I will tell you what some of us know that we shall do. We know that when the earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. As poor, guilty sinners we have fled to Christ for refuge, and He is ours, and we know that He will surely keep what we have committed to Him until that day: therefore are we not afraid of all that the spoilers can do. We are not afraid of the spoiler; but, O worldling, when thou art spoiled, what wilt thou do?
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. Our first sorrowful theme is SUDDEN BEREAVEMENTS. Alas! alas! how soon may we be childless; how soon may we be widowed of the dearest objects of our affections! Ah! this were a sad world indeed, if the ties of kindred, of affection, and of friendship all be snapped; and yet it is such a world that they must be sundered, and may be divided at any moment.
1. Let us learn to sit loose by our dearest friends that we have on earth. Let us love them — love them we may, love them we should — but let us always learn to love them as dying things. Oh, build not thy nest on any of these trees, for they are all marked for the axe. See thou the disease of mortality on every cheek, and write not "eternal" upon the creature of an hour.
2. Take care that thou puttest all thy dear ones into God's hand. Thou hast put thy soul there, put them there. Thou canst trust them for temporals for thyself, trust thy jewels with Him. Feel that they are not thine own, but that they are God's loans to thee; loans which may be recalled at any moment — precious benisons of heaven, not entailed upon thee, but of which thou art but a tenant at will.
3. Further, you who are blessed with wife and children and friends, take care that you bless God for them. Sing a song of praise to God who hath blessed you so much more than others.
4. And then permit me to remind you that if these sudden bereavements may come, and there may be a dark chamber in any house in a moment, and the coffin may be in any one of our habitations, let us so act to our kinsfolk and relatives as though we knew they were soon about to die.
II. SUDDEN DEATH, AS WE VIEW IT MORE PARTICULARLY IN RELATION TO OURSELVES. There are a thousand gates to death. How many there be who have fallen dead in the streets! How many sitting in their own homes! Well, our turn must come. Perhaps we shall die falling asleep in our beds after long sickness, but probably we shall be suddenly called in such an hour as we think not to face the realities of eternity. Well, if it be so, if there be a thousand gates to death, if all means and any means may be sufficient to stop the current of our life, if really, after all, spiders' webs and bubbles are more substantial things than human life, if we are but a vapour, or a dying taper that soon expires in darkness, what then?
1. Why, first, I say, let us all look upon ourselves as dying men, let us not reckon on tomorrow. Oh! let us not procrastinate; for taken in Satan's great net of procrastination, we may wait, and wait, and wait, till time is gone, and the great knell of eternity shall toll our dissolution.
2. And then take care, I pray you, that you who do know Christ not only live as though you meant to die, but live while you live. Oh, what a work we have to do, and how short the time to do it in!
3. And let us learn never to do anything which we should not wish to be found doing if we were to die. We are sometimes asked by young people whether they may go to the theatre, whether they may dance, or whether they may do this or that. You may do anything which you would not be ashamed to be doing when Christ shall come.
III. THE SUDDEN CHANGE WHICH A SUDDEN DEATH WILL CAUSE. You see yonder Christian man. he is full of a thousand fears, — he is afraid even of his interest in Christ, he is troubled spiritually, and vexed with temporal cares. You see him cast down and exceeding troubled, his faith but very weak; he steps outside yon door, and there meets him a messenger from God, who smites him to the heart, and he is dead. Can you conceive the change? Death has cured him of his fears, his tears are wiped away once for all from his eyes; and, to his surprise, he stands where he feared he should never be, in the midst of the redeemed of God, in the general assembly and church of the first-born. If he should think of such things, would he not upbraid himself for thinking so much of his trials and of his troubles, and for looking into a future which he was never to see? See yonder man, he can scarcely walk, he has a hundred pains in his body, he is more tried and pained than any man. Death puts his skeleton hand upon him, and he dies. How marvellous the change! No aches now, no casting down of spirit, he then is supremely blest, the decrepit has become perfect, the weak has become strong, the trembling one has become a David, and David has become as the angel of the Lord. But what must be the change to the unconverted man? His joys are over forever. His death is the death of his happiness — his funeral is the funeral of his mirth.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Wise to do evil.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(H. G. Salter.)
Though thou rentest thy face with painting, in vain shalt thou make thyself fair.
(J. Parker, D. D.).