Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord.
Homilist.The subject is the blessed tendency of true piety, and the truly pious man is described as one that "feareth the Lord" and "walketh in His ways."
I. Its tendency is to make BUSINESS PROSPEROUS (ver. 2). This stands in splendid contrast to the terrible threat which Moses addressed to the Israelites of old, should they break God's law (Exodus 25:35; Deuteronomy 18:40).
II. Its tendency is to make THE FAMILY HAPPY (ver. 3). Ungodly families are stars wandering from their orbits, but a truly pious family, small though it be, is an orb rolling round the eternal Sun of Righteousness, and from it deriving its life, its light, and its harmony.
III. Its tendency is to make THE COUNTRY BLESSED (vers. 4, 5). "Righteousness exalteth a nation."
1. In material wealth. Truth, honesty, integrity, in a people; are the best guarantees of commercial advancement. Credit is the best capital in the business of a nation as well as in the business of an individual, and credit is built on righteous principles.
2. In social enjoyments. According as the principles of veracity, uprightness, and honour, reign in society, will be the freeness, the heartiness, and the enjoyment of social intercourse.
3. In moral power. The true majesty of a kingdom lies in its moral virtues.
IV. Its tendency is to make THE LIFE LONG (ver. 5). There should be a full stop after the word "Children," and the word "and" is not in the original. Genuine piety tends to long life.
1. Long life depends upon obedience be the laws of our constitution, physical, mental, and moral laws.
2. In order to obey the laws of our constitution, those laws must be understood.
3. In order to understand those laws, man must study them. They will not come to him by intuition, inspiration, or revelation. He must study them, study nature.
4. In order to study them effectively he must have supreme sympathy with their Author.
I. Not by Socialistic revolution and Communistic confiscation and redistribution. These methods are contrary alike to nature, reason, revelation and experience.
II. Organization, bureau registration, co-operation, arbitration, legislation, etc., are largely empiric and artificial expedients, productive at best of only partial and superficial amendment.
III. The Christian religion will secure whatever is good in the above, and, besides, will produce the only radical and permanent cure.
1. It teaches and realizes a Brotherhood of Humanity, embracing rich and poor, in which, it one member suffer, all suffer.
2. Its golden law strikes at the selfishness of the rich in refusing to consider the poor, secures the immediate relief of Christian philanthropy, and the permanent improvement of "things just and equal" (Colossians 4:1). "A fair day's work, etc., fair day's wage."
3. It gives best promise of regulating the labour-market by checking over-crowding in the easier callings, substituting conscientious choice and providential guidance for the unreasoning selfishness which makes time and means for pleasure the great consideration — e.g. City factory and sewing-room always crowded, farm and domestic service rarely if ever fully supplied.
4. It imparts dignity and self-respect through union and fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, a brother mechanic, and the only perfect model of what the working-man may be and ought to be. Thus alone can he realize his ideal aristocracy of "industrial and moral worth," instead of wealth and birth.
5. It secures him the best of all help, Self-help, and puts him in the way of working out his own salvation. The fruition of such culture will be, from his own stock, trusty and efficient representatives who "shall stand before kings."
6. It will make his home the scene of highest comfort, purest and most stable domestic happiness and family welfare.
(W. M. Roger.)
I. Piety in PRINCIPLE. The love to God that constitutes piety is characterized by two things: —
1. Predominancy. Most men have a kind of love for the Supreme, that flows through them with other natural emotions, but attains no ascendancy over other sentiments, no control over the other faculties. The love to God that constitutes piety must be the controlling disposition.
2. Permanency. Perhaps, in most minds, the sentiment of love to God, of gratitude, adoration, and even of reverence, arises at times: especially when moving amidst the grand and beautiful in nature, or experiencing the enjoyment of some special blessings. But this sentiment, to become piety, must be crystallized, and settled as a rock. It is the embryo of all excellence in all worlds. It is a seed out of which grows all that is beautiful and fruitful in the Eden of God.
II. Piety in DEVELOPMENT. How is this principle rightly developed? Not in mere songs and hymns, and prayers, and ceremonies, but in conduct. "That walketh in His ways." "His ways," the ways of truth, honesty, purity, and holy love. True piety is not a dormant element sleeping in the soul, like grain buried under the mountains, it struggles into form, and takes action, it walks, and its walk is onward and upward.
III. Piety in BLESSEDNESS.
(David Thomas, D. D.)
I. RELIGION IS PLEASANT. No man ever performed an action which was wise and good, such as supplying the wants of the industrious poor, relieving the distress of the orphan, or vindicating the character of the worthy from unmerited detraction, without meeting the reward of beneficence in that very hour. He will feel a secret satisfaction, which can never be equalled by the pleasures of sense. He may not be able, it is true, to execute all his laudable designs; but the very consciousness of good intention is more delightful than the triumphs of successful iniquity. "This is the way of religion — walk thou in it."
II. RELIGION IS PROFITABLE. The very duties which religion inculcates, it cannot have escaped your observation, have a natural tendency to procure the comforts and conveniences of life. Health, honour, riches, and that good name which is better than riches, are, in many cases, part of the recompense of religion. Religion embraces both the temporal welfare of individuals, and the prosperity of states and of empires. "Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord, that walketh in His ways." Blessed are the young; blessed are the aged; blessed are the prosperous; and blessed the afflicted.
(T. Laurie, D. D.)
"Jesus, the very thought of Thee,
With sweetness fills my breast." Samuel Rutherford was steeped in all the rigours of a Calvinism which touches the very springs of awe in the human breast, and yet from him came the love letters of Christianity — letters too sacred for any except our most solitary moods. The moment we cease to tremble before God we cease to know joy.
(W. C. Piggott.)
For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands.
I. A GODLY AND INDUSTRIOUS FATHER. He is blessed —
1. In himself.
2. In his business.
3. In his family.
4. In his Church.
5. In his country.
II. A GODLY, HOME-KEEPING MOTHER. Here are two features of a Christian wife: what she is — "a fruitful vine"; and where she is — "by the side of her house." As the fruitful vine afforded shade as well as grapes, the figure imports comfort as well as a family.
III. A CIRCLE OF GODLY AND HOME-LOVING CHILDREN. What is it to be like "olive-plants"? The olive-branch in Scripture is the emblem of peace, and the olive oil is the emblem of grace. Peace and grace are lovely features in a child, and when peace and grace take possession of the heart of a whole family, Christian people love to visit their dwelling.
(J. B. Owen, M. A.)
(Canon D. J. Vaughan.)
Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine.Proverbs 9:13, 14; Amos 6:10). The clinging vine is a symbol of attachment, grace, and fruitfulness, dressing the props and walls to which its curling tendrils hold, with leaves that shade the verandah and cool the house, and enriching them with clusters of juicy fruit "that maketh glad the heart of man" (Psalm 104:15). The pious and loving wife, the screen, the adornment, and crown of the God-fearing husband who is her support and strength, so spreads the table that, however plain, it is a feast; so pours the water that it turns to wine; so smiles that all the room shines with comfort and pleasure; so speaks that the house is full of charming music; so lives that the master is happy everywhere because most happy when at home.
(E. J. Robinson.)
The Lord shall bless thee out of Zion.1. What measure soever of things temporal the Lord shall give to the man that feareth Him, He reserveth unto him all the promises of righteousness and life which the Lord's Word holdeth forth to the Church, and of those he shall be sure.
2. The godly man shall not want succession, if God see it good for him, or if not children of his body, yet followers of his faith and footsteps in piety, whom he hath been instrumental to convert.
3. Whatsoever estate the Church of God be in during the godly man's life-time, he shall behold in the mirror of the Lord's Word, and in the sensible feeling of his own experience, he shall perceive and take up the blessed condition of the true Church of God, and rejoice therein all his days.
And thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life. —
I. THE GOOD OF JERUSALEM IS SEEN IN THAT IT SPEAKS GOOD OF MAN. The Christian revelation stands supreme in the honour, worth, and dignity it puts on man; he is sacred from the first, as having been made in the Divine image; sacred, so that even in solitude, where he can do no harm to others, he can sin against himself, by sullying the Divine image in his soul. Take away the Christian ideal, and human life becomes altogether a different thing in kind!— an altogether inferior thing, a mean thing enough, something which may be made more or less civilized, more or less worth living, but bereft of loftiness and grandeur. The Gospel alone in this great universe reveals man to himself, and in doing that it transfigures all else. Walking in the light of Christ, under the influence of His Cross and under the inspiration of His Spirit, life has a noble purpose, sorrow a sweet sanctity, suffering a sublime consolation, and death itself is a stingless transition to glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life.
II. THE GOOD OF JERUSALEM IS SEEN IN THAT IT IS A PRESENT GOOD. It is unfair to the Gospel to represent it as a system of future felicity, to be purchased at the surrender of present good, as profitable only for the life that is to come. The Christian morality has its seat within the soul. It is not a righteousness built up from without, but makes the good man out of the good treasures of the heart. Christianity rests alike its morality and its religion on the answering convictions of the great soul within us. Because we have the truth within us we can hear and know God's voice. Thus, too, the Christian nations have had a morality of the Home, as well as of the State; a morality that has condemned slavery, even when it was sleek and profitable; a morality that has made divorce an evil; a morality that has made the thought of evil and the imagination of vice guilt before God. The Gospel has been tested, lived, and tried enough to make us say, "Thou shalt see the good of Jerusalem all the days of thy life."
III. THE GOOD OF JERUSALEM IS SEEN IN THAT IT IS THE HIGHEST GOOD. Its ideal of good is not mere outward prosperity and pleasure. It can sacrifice these. It can feel a thrill of higher joy, as these, if needs be, are trampled under feet. It can bring a deep delight even when the crown of thorns is on the temple, and when the sword of human power is at the heart. We can get no joy of heroism, in the mere utilities and expediencies of earthly life. The highest good may be to drain the cup of sorrow; the highest good may he in bearing a cruel cross. Whether you think of the good of Jerusalem as meaning a restful conscience, a life at peace with God, or a joyful hope of immortality, it is the higher good, and could the sainted heroes and martyrs of old time come back to earth from the felicities of heaven, they would choose the good of Jerusalem to all other good which this world could offer them, did it exclude conscience and Christ.
IV. THE GOOD OF JERUSALEM IS SEEN IN THAT IT IS A UNIQUE GOOD. None can present aught like it to us, in type or kind. It stands alone. We cannot, I know, exactly analyze the morality, the honour, the civil integrity, the home fidelity, the philanthropic charity, the moral earnestness of English life; something may come from custom, something from native instinct, something from public estimate, but he must be impervious to truth who does not acknowledge how very much we owe to what my subject means by Jerusalem. There is a might of influence at work in it which has no other fountain so high, no other channel so deep, no other onward flow so vital and Divine.
V. THE GOOD OF JERUSALEM IS SEEN IN THAT IT IS A PROSPECTIVE GOOD. All that goes to make a saintly character here, goes to make heaven there! The innumerable array of saints, who walk in white, surround us, like the snow-clad mountains around Jerusalem, and with them we look to enjoy through eternal ages the good of Jerusalem all the days of our life, where there are pleasures for evermore.
(W. M. Statham.)
I. THAT A LARGE PORTION OF THEIR HAPPINESS CONSISTS IN THE FLOURISHING STATE OF THEIR COUNTRY. Everything hath an influence on our enjoyments, in proportion to the share which it hath in our affections. And affection to the public never fails to be remarkably strong in worthy breasts. It shows a rightness and greatness of mind, capable of being affected by a common interest: it shows the most amiable of virtues, love, towards a large part of our fellow-creatures, and implies nothing contrary towards the rest. For the real good of every people in the world is compatible with the real good of every other. To rule and to oppress is no good to any: and peace and liberty and friendly intercourse for mutual convenience all the nations of the earth may enjoy at once.
II. THAT THE HAPPINESS ACCRUING TO GOOD MEN FROM THE FLOURISHING STATE OF THEIR COUNTRY IS GREATLY INCREASED BY THE PROSPECT THAT THEIR OWN POSTERITY WILL CONTINUE TO FLOURISH WITH IT. How strongly must such a hope induce them to secure by good example and instruction this highest honour and blessedness to such as are to inherit their dignities! And how warm a return of most affectionate gratitude will they merit and receive from mankind, if virtue and liberty shall not only be supported by them in the present age, but transmitted to succeeding ones, by their pious care of forming their progeny to the knowledge and the love of public good! The prospect only of "children's children" would have little joy in it without that of "peace upon Israel": without a reasonable expectation of their contributing to the true glory of the family, from which they spring, and the true happiness of the nation over which they are to preside. But when due provision is made for this, both sovereign and people may take up the words of the psalmist (Psalm 127:4, 5).
III. THAT BOTH DEPEND ON THE DIVINE BENEDICTION (Psalm 127:1, 2, 4). It is not indeed possible for us in many cases to discern particularly in what manner the providence of God conducts things: but we may plainly discern, in general, that as the whole course of nature is nothing else than the free appointment which He hath been pleased to make; as the motions of the inanimate world proceed from those which He originally impressed upon it; and all the thoughts and actions of intelligent beings are doubtless absolutely subject to the influence of their Maker; since we see they are greatly subject, and often when they perceive it not, to that of their fellow-creatures; it must be in His power by various ways — perhaps the more effectual for being unknown — to dispose of everything so as may best answer His wise purposes of mercy or correction. And as He evidently can do this, it is likewise evidently worthy of Him to do it; for the highest of His titles is that of the moral governor of the universe; and therefore we may firmly believe the Scripture assuring us that He doth it in fact; that He makes all things work together for good to them that love Him, and curses the very blessings of those who love Him not.
And peace upon Israel.
(E. J. Robinson.).