Israel again did evil... the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin.1 Peter 2:20). The Canaanite was slain, but he reappears and resumes his ancient tyranny. Exploded errors revive. Slain heresies live again, and triumph on the very spot where they received what was deemed their death-blow. The subjugation and prostration of the Church may not be as complete as was the twenty years' slavery of Israel under the second Jabin, yet is not the fortress of Hazor being rebuilt in this land? Are not the furnaces of Harosheth being rekindled? And are not the Papal workmen busy fabricating chariots of iron wherewith anew to scour the plains which valiant Protestants of old won in the name of the Lord and of His truth?
(L. H. Wiseman, M. A.)
Deborah, a prophetess .... Judged Israel.1. Amongst the women of the Bible Deborah stands out in great prominence, though we know but little of her character. She is one of those who show forth a distinctive characteristic of women — the power of contrivance and design carried out to such an extent as to make some doubt whether her acts were within the limits of religion and morality.
2. Deborah seems to have been a kind of oracle in the unsettled state of things that existed among the Jewish tribes; her advice was attended to and her voice followed by leaders and by armies with the most implicit devotion. Her parallels are many, both in Scripture and history. We are irresistibly reminded of one whose spirit once bore up the flagging energies of France in the annals of the latter, of Judith in those of the former. One circumstance strikes us as highly significant. Starting up close beside her was the kindred spirit of Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. Though not strictly answerable for the act of Jael, she nevertheless celebrated that act as one of her objects of gratulation in her magnificent hymn.
3. We must view her in two lights. She was of course under a heavenly inspiration, as well as under the guidance of a strong natural character. In the former capacity she is simply to be viewed as one of those instances in which God chooses to show forth His power through the weak things of this world, and to bring about great national crises through the instrumentality of the weaker sex. But placing this view of the subject aside, I will consider her in reference to her natural character and ordinary position, as a woman in the midst of vast and depressing circumstances rousing by the vigour, boldness, and freshness of her character, the flagging energies of men. We see this in many instances of life, public as well as private. How remarkable and almost miraculous it is that the wife, who shares the anxious cares of the husband, be he labourer or mechanic, is able to keep up her spirit and to hope to the end! How often would the man, who has had to contend with the waves of constant trouble, succumb to increasing difficulties; and how many a crisis of difficulty, in connection with illness, accidents, or the like, in the domestic circle, calls forth the presence of mind of the mother, when the father would shrink from the difficulty, and lend no hand to help. Nor is it only this power that is felt so beneficially in the cottage as well as in richer homes. The eye that sees a brighter day and that pierces the fast rolling clouds of present adversity, perceiving the glow of a brighter morning when "the tyranny will be overpast," is especially the eye of woman. One other attribute of woman which comes out in Deborah's story is the deep impression that her mission was Divine, and that the instincts of nature were the gifts of inspiration. There is that spirit in the weaker sex which, in the moment of high crisis and difficulty, would often justify the impression; but this spirit is the gift of God for a special purpose, and is a substitute for those bolder and more persevering qualities which belong to the stronger sex. There are many periods, both in private and in public life, which need rather light shed by a ready and present mind than the steady beam of the more enduring fire. From the lack of it we may miss the object of our life's search. It is the want felt in such conjunctures as these that woman supplies; she bears the lamp of the midnight; and sometimes when with weary watching other lamps have gone out, hers is trimmed.
4. Such is woman's prerogative, such her peculiar characteristic. For though Deborah may be an exaggeration in a remarkable crisis of the characteristics of her sex, they nevertheless exist in more or less force in every representative of it. It is seemingly paradoxical, but no less true, that women should have the power of meeting imminent danger with a calmness and perseverance often denied to man. Let them view these gifts as the direct ordering of Heaven, and, while they glory in them as their heritage, let them cultivate and improve them as the talents committed to their trust.
(E. Monro, M. A.)
1. In an age and a season of perpetual unrest, how refreshing is it to the spirit to have before us the example, albeit in a remote past, of one judge who could dwell under the palm-tree between Rama and Bethel, and to whom the children of Israel could go up for judgment. If the right kind of men, a few of them, could be set free to think, to advise, to originate, to counsel, what a gain would this be to a people laden with care, full of intellectual and spiritual perplexities, and feeling themselves terribly alone in their difficult and embarrassing way. For lack of this many lives go utterly astray, and many minds are wrecked on shoals and sandbanks of doubting. It might be said that the two offices of action and thought are only kept distinct in the present state of things, and that those who want counsel have no lack of help from an innumerable crowd of writers. Unhappily the thinkers are too often too much isolated from action, so that they run into vain and profitless speculation, having neither help for this life nor hope in that which is to come. It is the combination which helps: the judge sitting under the palm-tree, but Israel coming up to him for judgment. The moral of it all is, busy men, snatch moments for reflection! let no day be quite without it!
2. We see the true place and dignity of woman here in the positive and in the negative. Deborah was a prophetess. God spoke to her. She saw within and beneath the appearance of things. She did not allow the visible to crush out the invisible. She was not appalled by the nine hundred chariots of iron. She knew that there was still a God in Israel who rules in the kingdom of men, and though He bears long with evil, and sometimes sets up over nations the basest of men, He can yet be called on by prayer, and in the long run will make it to be well with the righteous. In a great emergency she became an influence; she called Barak to her, set him his task, assured him of his commission, and even consented at his request to accompany him on his march. This was heroic, but it was also feminine. Deborah did not assume the command of the army; she was the influence, she was the inspiration, but she left the leadership and the generalship to another. Not for nothing have we the record of another woman on the same page with that of Deborah. We shrink instinctively from the bloodstained hand of Jael. She has overstepped the line between the feminine and the masculine — nay, between the enthusiast and the fanatic. The excitement of victory might draw forth the impassioned cry even from one of the male sex, even from one of God's utterers, "Blessed above women"; but that cry has never found even an echo in evangelical hearts; that cry has given trouble and pain to champions of revelation. We cannot receive it as the voice of God's Spirit, except in some modified and softened-down form, in which it hails, and justly hails, the victory as a victory of the cause of the monotheistic idea as against the polytheistic; as a victory of the cause of progress, of the cause of development, and therefore in some sense the cause of mankind and of the world.
3. One last thought occurs, and it might seem at first hearing to conflict with the foregoing; but it is not so. Deborah says to Barak, "Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded?" And he replies to her — a woman — "If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go." She rejoined yet again, "I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman." We are not concerned with the last phrase — "God shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman." Scripture readers see the hand of God every-where — go so far as to say, "Shall there be evil in the city, and the Lord hath not done it?" We ask what was the point, what was the characteristic, the differentia in the faith of Barak, that the Epistle to the Hebrews should single him out for mention? And we find it here in the self-forgetfulness of Barak in doing God's work. What if one woman set him on it, and another woman is to finish it? What if the journey he took was not to be for his own honour? Shall that stop him? What will the troops say if they see a woman marching by his side; see him consult her about his tactics; hear him confess that she is his monitress and his inspirer? Shall that thought deter him? No. He has God's cause in hand; God's honour, not his, is the thing to aim at. Here is faith forgetting itself in the cause. It is a grand heroism; for lack of it much good work is spoilt and much forborne. There is a phrase which more often disguises than precludes the self-glorifying. Humble instruments all call themselves; yet the same modest disclaimer asserts the instrumentality. Propose to omit the name from the subscription list or the list of patrons, where will the humble instrument be then? "The journey which thou takest shall not be for thine honour." No, for one woman suggested it and another woman shall complete it. What then? Faith is willing to have it so; for faith is the sight of the invisible, and this arrangement will show the Invisible, the Doer.
(Bp. H. C. Potter.)
If thou wilt go with me, then I will go
(Bp. Boyd Carpenter.)
I. WE ARE ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR INFLUENCE. This is evident from the very nature of influence. What is it? It is power; the power of one will over another. This power and authority go forth from us to others in various ways — in speech, by action, by the glance of the eye, by the expression of feeling, by the show of passion, by the play of the countenance, by the motion of the hand, by our dress, our habits, our style of living, and our conduct. And now I ask — if I cause a man to do an act, am I not responsible, i.e., so far forth as I lead him to do it? Of course I am not to bear the entire burden of his conduct, for he is a man as well as I, and he is bound to think and judge for himself. But if I am the stronger, more controlling character, and use my influence to guide him astray, and start him on his way to ruin, surely I am responsible for what I do. But it is manifest that this principle is not one that is local, partial, or limited. It is a broad, general, universal principle; pertaining to souls under all circumstances. And see how it reaches our fellow-creatures on every side, with awful significance and tremendous power. I am responsible for my influence; I am held accountable by the Almighty for the way in which I affect and prompt the souls of my fellow-men. Then I am responsible for my influence upon you. Then you are responsible for your influence upon me; and each and every one of us is responsible for the influence we exert upon our neighbours. Then we are responsible for the channels by which our influence goes forth from us to others. And we are responsible for their outflowings; and though the influence of a man differs somewhat, in kind, from his specific acts, yet the law of Divine justice comes in here, with the same force and authority as in any outward deed.
II. THE MEASURE OF OUR RESPONSIBILITY IS PROPORTIONED TO OUR INFLUENCE. Herein lies our stewardship. We are stewards of God in the particular item of influence. A little girl is beloved by her schoolmate; and so great power has she over her, that that schoolmate will do anything she wants her to do, good or bad. She is responsible for her control over that child's soul, and to God. They are both responsible for the power they possess, the one over the other. Here is a man in a community, of such commanding power, whether through wealth, talent, or character, that everybody quotes him as authority, and aims to follow in his track. As sure as God liveth, He will hold him responsible for his popularity and his power.
III. INFLUENCE IS AN AWFUL, A PERILOUS THING WHEN IT ASSUMES THE FORM AND PROPORTIONS OF MASTERY AND CONTROL. And this is often the case. The mass of men, the world over, are governed by opinion and example. Imitation, too, is a most powerful agent in deciding the convictions and habits of men. No doubt it is God's will that certain prominent men should have authoritative influence; that is their calling; to that they are elected by the Almighty Himself, to the end that they may help to quicken inferior wills, and to decide human destinies. Thus in the family relation the words of a father or mother go with children to mature manhood, and may descend to children's children. How in our school-days our hearts have become knit "as with hooks of steel" to companions whom we have loved as Jonathan loved David, with a "love passing the love of women." I have myself seen men moving about through a nation, after whom millions of men flowed as with the mighty current of a torrent; and when they spoke, momentous questions were settled, as though decisive utterances had come forth from an oracle or a god. But the illustrations of this controlling influence of men is as common in the lowlier spheres of life as in the higher. Sometimes a grand, noble parent serves his generation and blesses it, and then sends down the crystal purity of his honour and the odour of his sanctity to children's children. Sometimes it is the reverse, and the alcoholic blood and the alcoholic breath of a drunkard triumphs over the dominion of the grave, and reaches over a whole generation of men to his descendants, poisoning the atmosphere and polluting society by the sottishness of sons and grandsons.
Is not the Lord gone out before thee
Homilist.Wherever we may be called upon to go, our Lord has gone before us.
I. WE ARE ENTERING INTO DARKNESS. God is light. What does it matter what we see, or whether we see at all, if He has seen and known that the way is safe?
II. WE ARE ENTERING UPON UNCERTAINTY. But all things are fixed and ordered by God's power, and from knowledge.
III. WE ARE ENTERING UPON DIFFICULTY. God is almighty in power.
IV. WE ARE TO MEET WITH PAIN AND DEATH. God cannot die. Learn:
1. To distrust all human help and consolation.
2. To trust in Him who is so well able to do for us, and to be to us all we need.
3. To implicitly follow and confidently resign ourselves to His leadership.
Jael went out to meet Sisera.
(R. A. Watson, M. A.)
I. The whole of the Canaanitish nations had long since by their idolatrous iniquities and abounding profligacy and wickedness, merited the condemnation and fiery wrath of Jehovah, which had indeed been denounced against them unambiguously by the mouth of Moses on the other side of Jordan in the wilderness. No one who has read the intimations of their guilt in the Book of Leviticus can question for one moment the justice of the Almighty in blotting them from the face of the earth. Jabin, king of Canaan, trusted in the number and weight of his iron chariots, and in the almost countless host of his armed men. The God of Israel designed, therefore, to humble him to the dust by scattering his forces before the resolute assault of but a few ill-equipped Israelites, while He would sell the mighty leader of all this armament into the hands of a weak and unarmed woman. Thus would He teach the rebellious nations to "put not their strength in horses, nor in the sons of men," but to fear and reverence the one true and only God, the Lord of lords, and King of kings — the fearful God of Sabaoth.
II. The Scripture narrative simply details the progress of these wonderful events for our warning and exhortation, but not necessarily for our example. It would be as reasonable to assert that, because in the book of God's revealed truth we read of the cruelty of Saul and the transgression of David, that therefore we are to imitate them in their wickedness, as to infer from this history of the slaughter of Sisera that hence treachery is allowable. Jael's conduct, like that of the unjust steward in the parable, is commended to our notice — not for imitation, but for warning.
(F. F. Statham, B. A.)
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
2 Corinthians 10:4).
(R. A. Watson, M. A.)
I. First let us try to picture THE SINNER GROWING UNEASY UNDER THE YOKE OF HIS SINS, AND PLANNING A REVOLT AGAINST HIS OPPRESSORS. It is said that when a man is born a slave, slavery is not near so irksome as when he has once been free. You will have found it, perhaps, in birds and such animals that we keep under our control. If they have never known what it is to fly to and fro in the air from tree to tree, they are happy in the cage; but if, after having once seen the world, and floated in the clear air, they are condemned to live in slavery, they are far less content. This is the case with man — he is born a slave. Until the Spirit of God comes into the heart — so strange is the use of nature — we live contented in our chains; we walk up and down our dungeon, and think we are at large. It is one of the first marks of Divine life when we grow discontented and begin to fight against sin.
II. And now we have the second picture — THE SINNER HAVING GONE TO WAR WITH HIS OWN SINS HAS, TO A GREAT EXTENT, BY GOD'S GRACE, OVERCOME THEM; but he feels when this is done, that it is not enough, that external morality will not save the soul. Like Barak, he has conquered Sisera; but, not content with seeing him flee away on his feet, he wants to have his dead body before him. Rest not content till the blood of thine enemy stain the ground, until he be crushed, and dead, and slain. Oh, sinner, I beseech thee never be content until grace reign in thy heart, and sin be altogether subdued. Indeed, this is what every renewed soul longs for, and must long for, nor will it rest satisfied until all this shall be accomplished.
III. I stand at the DOOR to-day, not of a tent, but of a TOMB, and as I stand here I say to the sinner who is anxious to know how his sins may be killed, how his corruption may be slain, "Come, and I will show thee the man whom thou seekest, and when you shall come in, YOU SHALL SEE YOUR SINS LYING DEAD, AND THE NAILS IN THEIR TEMPLES." Sinner, the sin thou dreariest is forgiven, thou hast wept sore before God, and thou hast cast thyself on Christ and on Christ alone. In the name of Him who is the Eternal God I assure thee that thy sins are all forgiven. Further — dost thou ask where thy sin is? I tell thee thy sin is gone, so that it never can be recalled. Thou art so forgiven that thy sins can never have a resurrection. The nail is not driven through the hands of thy sins, but through their temples. The spear that pierced the Saviour's heart pierced the heart of thine iniquity; the grave in which He was buried was the tomb of all thy sins; and His resurrection was the resurrection of thy spirit to light and joy unspeakable. God forbid we should ever glory in sin, but it is a theme for joy to a Christian when he can look upon his sins drowned in the blood of Jesus.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(L. H. Wiseman, M. A.)
Thou shalt say, No.
I. THE EXERCISE OF THIS SUPREME POWER IN REFERENCE TO THE TENDENCIES AND INCLINATIONS WITHIN ONE'S SELF. There are tendencies and appetites in every man which, if allowed a free course and full swing, would drag him in the mire and hurry him to his ruin. The meanest of them has slain its thousands. So mean and paltry an appetite as that for stimulating drink counts its victims by millions, and our nature is largely made up of such dangerous proclivities, some inborn and some acquired. There is in man, also, a certain inscrutable, central authority, the mysterious Ego, the indefinable "I myself," whose office is to watch over these necessary but dangerous members of the internal commonwealth, and keep them to their limits, and say, "No" to each and all their demands for undue power and over-indulgence. No man can live at all without exerting this power at some points; and no man can live nobly, and to the highest purposes of his being, without exerting it constantly, at all points, and with absolute supremacy. In the biographies of all persons eminent for character and achievement, you will notice how they have striven to acquire perfectly this form of self-mastery. What ingenious devices and shrewd practices they have resorted to, to this end. In some ages, what fasts and penances and seclusions and all forms of asceticisms, and in all ages what vigorous efforts, what watchfulness, and what contrivances and habits of self-discipline, whereby they might be able with promptitude and effect to say "No" to any tendency that is getting too strong, and any desire that is too clamorous! And success in that is their salvation, the open secret of their success in their high aims, and the glory of their lives.
II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND EVENTS AROUND US. These are very powerful, seemingly irresistible often. They claim to take full possession of a man, to carry him whither they will, and make of him what they will. They seem to say to him, "We are a part of the irresistible order of nature; we move according to the eternal laws; we represent the forces of the universe; we come backed by the omnipotence of the Creator. What can you, poor, puny mortal, do in resistance to our overwhelming might? A pitiful speck of being as you are, an evanescent bubble on this vast sea of matter and force, what is there for you but to drift whithersoever we may carry you, and sink where we drop you?" But not so, thou majestic universe, bearing upon man as you do with all your infinite might in the events and circumstances around us — not so! The soul in man, that mysterious essence, whose very existence you bring into question, is in its rightful province a match for you, can resist you, set you aside, say "No" to you, and in the ethereal, Godlike power it is endowed with, and with the humility of a little child, make good its audacious defiance. The brave but wary seaman knows the tremendous power of an adverse wind, a power that nothing can withstand, knows it and respects it, yet he is master of the situation. He can anchor in the roadstead, and look the very hurricane in the face, and let it blow. He will not budge. He can wait. That force will be spent before his will be. He will yet lay his course right along the pathway of the storm, and he does, and makes his voyage triumphantly. Or in another ease he refuses to drift with it. He will move right on against the opposing force, and never stop a moment, nor furl his sails; he must beat, go zigzag, tediously, but he gets on against it, and if need be, he will make the entire Atlantic voyage without one favourable breeze, with hard struggles but no yielding, delayed but not defeated. So in all human life. The power of circumstances must be respected, and dealt with valiantly but warily. The true man will accommodate himself to them, and yet refuse to drift with them; nay, will circumvent them, outwatch them, and make them serve his purpose. They may delay him, but not turn him back; discourage him, but not pluck heart of hope out of him. They may change his direction, but not stop his progress. They may change the form of his duty, but cannot hinder doing. They may combine to tempt and assail his integrity or purity, but if he say in God's name, "No!" they cannot touch it.
III. IT IS MOST PRACTICAL TO CONSIDER THE EXERCISE OF THIS VETO-POWER IN REFUSING THE REQUESTS OF OTHER PERSONS. There are always about us those who ask us or propose to us to do things that we ought not or had better not do. And such is the strength of the social tie, and so potent the influence of another's desire, that there is always a disposition to comply, and an amiable disposition it is in itself. But it is often very misleading, and sometimes fatal to honour and integrity, to purity and peace and every sacred interest of life. Many a youth and many a man, not depraved, but simply weak and unestablished, has thus been led to his ruin, out of mere good-natured compliance and the difficulty of refusing a solicitation. Balancing between good and evil, with the promise and possibility of the best, he has gone to the bad, because he could not, or felt that he could not, say, "No!" The dangerous tendencies that are in him, and that are in everybody, acquire tenfold power when reinforced by the importunity of a friendly companion to join him in giving way to them. That little off-hand suit, "Come along," coupled with the suggestion, "What's the harm?" or "Who will know it?" or "Just this once," or "Don't be a coward," we cannot tell how many it leads astray every day, initiates in the downward path, and that too when every instinct of the conscience, every sentiment of honour, every affection of their heart, and every hope of their lives, is breathing its protest, and would hold them back. If all those hesitating consents could now be recalled, that fatal compliance reversed, and it should be as if the rightful refusals had been spoken in place of them, what blessed results should we see. Oh, learn betimes to say, "No!" when you know you ought to say it. Fear not the sneers of the evil-disposed, the corrupt, or the merely thoughtless, but fear rather the anguish and tears of those who love you, the strings of your conscience, and the displeasure of your God. Be prompt and strong to say, "No!" when you ought, and your better nature bids you, and so march on through your career in safety, honour, and peace. And it is not only to the solicitations or the suggestions that would lead us in fatal directions, into enslaving vices, or the outright sacrifice of truth, honour, and purity that we need to exercise this great prerogative of downright refusal in the thick of this our social city life, we have need to exercise it daily, and almost hourly, in respect to requests and invitations that have no bad intent, but are meant in courtesy and kindness, and that in other circumstances, and at other times, might be complied with in all propriety. We need, on moral grounds, to guard with some jealousy our personal independence, and let nobody unduly or unreasonably invade it. We cannot afford to hold ourselves, our time, faculties, thoughts, or even sympathies, entirely at the beck and call even of the best people or of the kindest-meaning friends. That high independence which never hesitates to say, "No" whenever and to whomsoever it should be said commands respect. It is a chief element of all nobleness and strength of character. It is essential to feminine dignity, and to the highest manhood. It makes you worth seeking, and causes your refusals to be better taken than the loose assents of those facile persons who from sheer weakness in the fibre and the making up of their character can never say, "No!" or say it as if guilty of an offence and fearful of your displeasure.
I. In the first place, then, LET US LEARN TO RESPECT OUR OWN JUDGMENT IN WHAT WE DO. If, on a view of all the circumstances, we think we ought to say, "No," let us have the courage and firmness and independence to say it. A man who dares not act according to his own convictions of what is right, for fear that after all he may be mistaken — I will not say that he has no regard for conscience, but this I will say: he has no confidence in conscience, which in practice amounts to nearly the same thing. Besides, with respect to the construction which other people may put on our motives, if we only take care that our motives are what they should be, and that our whole conduct is in keeping, we need not entertain any apprehensions but that in the long run ample justice will be done them by all whose approbation is worth having. I have shown that it is but the part of a manly independence to have the courage and firmness to say, "No," when we are convinced that this is the proper word.
II. I proceed to show THAT IT IS NO LESS A DICTATE OF PRUDENCE, AND PRACTICAL WISDOM. You can hardly step your foot on the threshold of life without encountering seduction in every possible shape; and unless you are prepared to resist it firmly, you are a doomed man. What makes it still more dangerous is, that the first solicitations of vice often come under such disguised forms, and relate to things seemingly so trivial, as to give hardly any warning of the fatal consequences, to which by slow and insensible gradations they are almost sure to lead. As you value, then, your health and reputation, your peace of mind and personal independence, learn to say, "No." Inquire into the sources of human misery, study the first beginnings of crime, and, meet with it where you may, by tracing it back to its first cause you will find it to have been, in almost every instance, merely because they could not say, "No," to the tempter. Put the question to one who has wasted his substance in riotous living. The burden of their confession will be, that they owe every calamity which has befallen them to their not having had firmness enough, at some turning-point of their destiny, to say, "No." As you would avoid their fate, let me then conjure you to avoid its cause.
III. The same conduct which I have shown to be necessary to a manly independence and to a prudent regard to our own interest I shall next prove TO BE IN NO SENSE INCONSISTENT WITH A BENEVOLENT AND TRULY GENEROUS DISPOSITION. One of the most common mistakes on this subject is to confound an easy disposition with a benevolent disposition: two things which in fact are as wide asunder as the east from the west. A man of an easy disposition is so commonly merely because he will not make the effort a more firm and steady conduct requires. And why will he not make this effort? Because he will not take the trouble of making it. But is this benevolence? Is it so much as an abuse of benevolence? Is it not sheer selfishness?
IV. Having shown that independence, prudence, and benevolence alike require the conduct I have been recommending, it only remains for me TO URGE IT UPON YOU AS A MATTER OF MORAL AND RELIGIOUS DUTY. It is a great error, though a common one, not to suppose that the principle of duty extends to almost all our actions; requiring them or forbidding them, as being either right or wrong. We talk of actions as being honourable or dishonourable, as being prudent or imprudent, as being benevolent or otherwise, but what is honourable or prudent or benevolent is also right. Everything, therefore, which has already been said to prove the conduct in question a dictate of benevolence, prudence, and manly independence, goes also to the same extent to prove it to be our duty, our imperative duty. Besides, take the words as they stand. If, considering all the circumstances, we ought to say, "No," then it is our duty to say it, let the consequences be what they may. Some men can never say, "No," unless they are in a passion, and are therefore driven to the mortifying necessity of working themselves up into a passion before they can find the courage to do it. Again, there are others, who will trust themselves to say, "No," only as a matter of policy; and with whom, therefore, the question is not, "What ought I to say?" but, "What will it be for my interest to say?" There is also a third class that will say, "No" — and say it often enough too, if that were all — from mere churlishness and ill-humour; but I need not observe that this is very far from being the conduct I am here recommending. Putting aside all such considerations, let us learn to resist improper solicitations from a sense of duty. It should be enough to know that it is our duty. Let us act on this principle, and we shall never refuse except when duty requires it; but at such times our refusal will be much more decided and effectual, while it will be made under circumstances of much greater dignity on our part, and of much less irritation on the part of those whom it may disappoint. Moreover, while we act from a sense of duty, we should connect with this feeling a conviction that it is one of religious obligation. God has required us to pursue a course of undeviating rectitude. Whoever, therefore, would seduce us from this sets himself against God, and we must deny one or the other. Whether in such a case we should deny God rather than man let conscience judge.
So God subdued on that day Jabin.I. WHAT HE DID: "God subdued... Jabin the king."
1. This is the normal issue of God's activity. For God to act is for Him to conquer. Where the victory tarries, it is only God waiting.
2. He subdued Jabin the king of Canaan. Who is able to stand against Him?
3. Every oppressor of God's people becomes His foe. He who molests them virtually challenges God.
II. HOW HE DID IT: "So."
1. By inspiring Deborah with a holy courage.
2. By arrangement. The plan of salvation is only one grand instance of the Divine order,
III. WHEN HE DID IT: "On that day." God never miscalculates. The Eternal is never late.
1. It was as soon as they wanted it.
2. It was when they were most ready to receive it.
IV. WHERE HE DID IT: "Before the children of Israel."
1. There are many things which God must do out of our sight.
2. There are instances when He works by signs which are visible — Red Sea; Carmel. This victory was not only decided, but manifest.
(E. M. Mouchin.).