Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle?
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)
I. ABIDING IN GOD'S TABERNACLE. Or, dwelling upon His holy hill. We understand these expressions as meaning God's residence in heaven. Who, then, shall dwell with God in glory everlasting? Let us take heed to our ways, and walk with care and endeavour, by God's grace, to make our calling and selection sure, that so an entrance may be ministered unto us abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
II. IN ANSWER TO THIS EARNEST INQUIRY. Those who walk uprightly, and work righteousness, and speak the truth in their hearts. An heir of heaven walks with God as reconciled to Him, and walks uprightly, i.e. sincerely and honestly. If we work righteousness we must have a principle of righteousness implanted in us by the saving grace of God. The expression, "speaking the truth in the heart," is strikingly singular. It shows that people may speak the truth, and yet the heart not love it; but all Christian believers are inwardly what they appear outwardly.
1. Who demandeth, David, the man of God, seeing the wonderful hypocrisy of men in frequenting the holy assemblies, and making a pretence of religion, being stirred up with singular love to true religion, inflamed with a fervent zeal to God's glory, burning with earnest desire to know the true saints from dissembling hypocrites, and demanded this question — "Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle, who shall rest in Thy holy hill?
2. Of whom he demandeth. He flieth unto God, because it passeth the knowledge of men, who only look into the things apparent and outward. The Lord alone can sunder the wheat from the chaff, the tares from the wheat, the grain from the cockle and darnel. It is the Lord who is Father of all the whole family, which is named either on heaven or on earth, which is His Church; it is the Lord that is the chief Governor and Ruler of His house, which are His subjects; it is God alone who keepeth the Book of Life in the closet of His own heart, wherein He hath registered all His saints. It is the Lord, and not men, which pitched the tabernacle and testimony of His presence. It is the Lord whose property and prerogative it is by right to know the heart. It is the Lord whose eyes are upon all His creatures.
3. What is demanded. By "tabernacle" here some understand the Church militant. By the "hill of God" they understand the Church triumphant. The question then is," Who shall I make some reckoning of, to be Thy Church visible and militant?"The Church of God militant here on earth is compared to the tabernacle, and to the holy hill of God.
1. To the tabernacle. This Moses reared. As the tabernacle was pitched here and there, and removed from place to place, so the Church militant hath no certain rest in any appointed place, but is now in this place, now in that, at the appointment of the Lord. As in the time of the ark and tabernacle, God there showeth Himself and His glory unto the people, so doth the Lord reveal Himself in the Church and Assembly of His saints, there declaring His glory. As the Lord promised by Moses to dwell in the tabernacle, and there to walk and be conversant with Israel His people, so does Almighty God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son, our Saviour, dwell in the Church which is His immaterial tabernacle. The Church and Assembly of God's saints is called the House of God, because He dwelleth therein. The Church militant is also compared unto a hill or mountain.
1. For the allusion that it hath unto Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, being Mount Moriah, where Abraham would have sacrificed his son Isaac. This hill was a type of the true Church, among whom God dwelleth forever.
2. The Church may be called a hill or mountain, for the height, altitude, and lifting up thereof.
3. And for the open sight thereof.
4. In regard of the strength and stayedness, the Church may be called a mountain, for the hilly and high places are most strong and most impregnable. The Church is called a "holy hill," because God hath sanctified it and made it holy for Himself, because in the Church the Lord giveth manifold testimonies and signs of His holiness, and because the Lord taketh the defence of His Church into His own hands.Doctrines . —
1. See how great the hypocrisy of man oftentimes is in the pretence of godliness.
2. The prophet flieth unto God in the discerning of the true saints from hypocrites. However apparent things may be known unto men, hidden things belong only unto the Lord.
3. Learn not to play the hypocrite.
4. When we lack wisdom we should flee unto God for instruction.
5. Learn the state and condition of the militant Church. It is but as a tabernacle.
6. In this world the saints must not look for any rest, continuance, or certain abode.
7. We must not forsake the Church of God because of afflictions and troubles.
8. Who shall rest in the holy hill of God? The Church militant rejoices in the hope of happiness to come.
9. There is no true and sound rest save in the holy hill of God.
(A. T. Pierson, D. D.)
(W. Boyd Carpenter, D. D.)
I. SHOW WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THIS CONSIDERATION.
1. That all shall not be inhabitants of heaven; some will perish. For all the sons of men will not be saints in heaven. There will be a great company on Christ's left hand at the great day, doomed to everlasting fire (Matthew 25:41). And many of those who are now about the tabernacle will be a-missing in heaven (Matthew 7:21-23). To see those who had not the tabernacle of God among them fall short of heaven is not strange; but many who in external privileges have been exalted to heaven will be brought down to hell (Psalm 125, ult.).
2. They are persons of a distinguished character now who shall be inhabitants of heaven hereafter. Not of the common gang of the world, nor of professors either. Many professors are foolish virgins, that will get heaven's door cast in their face (Matthew 25:2-4).
3. In this world they sojourn with God in His tabernacle who shall be the inhabitants of heaven hereafter. The world is no more their home. They are in a peculiar manner consecrated to God and His service (Romans 12:1). All Israel had access to the outer courts of the tabernacle, but the priests only to the tabernacle itself. They are admitted to communion with God in ordinances. And they will enter heaven because they are born from above.
II. THE REASONS WHEREFORE WE SHOULD THUS SERIOUSLY CONSIDER WHO SHALL BE THE INHABITANTS OF HEAVEN.
1. Because there is a heaven and a hell, and all must land in one or the other.
2. And the laws of heaven admit only such as are qualified for it.
3. None who are capable of such considerations will ever see heaven without it. The work of grace begins here (Lamentations 3:40).
4. If we miss heaven we are ruined eternally.
III. APPLICATION OF THE SUBJECT.
1. Consider of it fixedly and solemnly.
2. With application to yourselves.
3. And practically that you may set yourselves to strive for heaven.
4. Divinely, as in the sight of heaven. For remember, heaven is not plenished but with chosen people (2 Corinthians 6:17, 18). Hell receives all comers, but not so heaven. None can come there but sealed ones, such as God has marked for Himself (2 Timothy 2:19). And separated ones from the sinful world (1 Corinthians 6:11; Matthew 25:32). As your life is here, so will it be there.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
He that walketh uprightly.
I. WHAT HE IS, IN WORD, DEED, LIFE. He only abides in God's tabernacle who abides in God, and God in him.
1. His walk is in uprightness. This implies spiritual life, exercise, health, progress.
2. His work is in righteousness. This implies activity, beneficent activity, the holiest activity; righteous in its motive, method, and results.
3. His words in truth and love: this implies conversation and testimony. Invisible truth shrines itself in holy words, holy works, a holy walk. Being upright, the Christian cannot be crooked; being righteous, he cannot be a hypocrite; being truthful in his heart, he cannot be false in his conversation and deportment.
II. WHAT HE IS NOT (vers. 8, 5).
1. No backbiter.
2. No evildoer.
3. No receiver of slander. Were there no ears to receive scandal there would soon be no tongues to speak it. The receiver of such pernicious goods is as vile as the trader in them.
4. No usurer.
5. No patron of bribery. He daily endeavours to maintain a pure hand, a pure purse, a pure ear, a pure heart, and a pure tongue. He will contemn evil wherever found; honour holiness however manifest; swerve not from his word when given, though to personal injury, and be permanently steadfast in his work of faith and life of love.
(J. O. Keen, D. D.)
1. That we go in the right way; for if we go out of our way, the farther we go the farther we shall be from our journey's end. This way is the true religion of Christ, which in the Scriptures is called the way, the way of life, the way of peace.
2. The next thing whereof we must be careful is, that being set in the right way we go forward therein, proceeding from faith to faith, and from a less measure of grace unto a greater. For neither must we stand still ill this way, neither must we go back; for if we do so, how shall we come to our journey's end? We must take heed therefore lest we be non-proficients, and let us fear lest when we cease to be better we begin to be worse.
3. The third thing is, that we be upright in the way, neither treading awry by secret dissembling, nor halting downright betwixt God and Mammon.
I. AS TO WHAT HE IS.
1. He is a man of whole heart and life; who does the will of God, and speaks the truth because he loves it: it dwells in his heart, and he speaks it there first, before he speaks it with his tongue. Luther says, "It is a beautiful order. First, the person must be acceptable by cleanness (alluding to the Vulgate translation, — qui ingreditur sine macula), then the work by righteousness; then the word by truth. So God has regard to Abel (himself) first, and then to his gifts."
2. He is not one who injures others, either by word or by dead or by listening and propagating slander. This is the meaning of the last clause. It may be rendered either: "hath not received (i.e. from others) a reproach," etc., or, "hath not taken up," i.e. has not stooped so as to pick up dirt out of the dunghill, that he may cast it at his neighbour; or, "hath not lifted up," i.e. so as to place it like a burden upon his neighbour.
II. AS TO WHAT HE IS NOT.
1. He is one who turns away from the evil and honours the good, who regards as inviolable the sanctity of an oath (not a casuist who sets himself a pretext for breaking his word when it is inconvenient to keep it).
2. He is not one who loves usury or takes bribes. The taking of usury is strictly forbidden in the law, and denounced by the prophets. Kimchis casuistic distinction, that it is lawful for the Jew to take usury of strangers, but not of his own people, is very significant; and, like too many Christian as well as Jewish interpretations of Scripture, framed to support a convenient and profitable practice. Thus in heart, in tongue, in actions, in conduct, as a member of society, he is alike free from reproach. Such is the figure of stainless honour drawn by the pen of a Jewish poet. Christian chivalry has not dreamed of a brighter. We have need often and seriously to ponder it. For it shows us that faith in God, and spotless integrity, may not be sundered; that religion does not veil or excuse petty dishonesties; that love to God is only then worthy the name when it is the life and bond of every social virtue. Each line is, as it were, a touchstone to which we should bring ourselves. To speak truth in the heart — to take up no reproach against a neighbour — would not the Christian man be perfect (teleios) of whom this could be said? And that other trait in this Divine character, "who honoureth them that fear the Lord," — is there a surer test of our spiritual condition than this, that we love and honour men because they love Christ?
(J. J. Stewart Perowne, B. D.)
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
I. UNFOLD THIS CHARACTER OF WALKING UPRIGHTLY.
1. It is union in the frame and disposition of his heart (Psalm 125:4). There cannot be uprightness of life without uprightness of heart. If the cripple is made to go straight his legs must have a new set (Psalm 78:37).
2. He walks entirely in the interests of religion (Genesis 17:1).
4. He walks in the way of all known duty, as thus told in Luke 1:6. And as David (Acts 13:22). Hence he will be free from gross pollution of the outward man (Psalm 119:1). The upright want not their spots, sins of daily infirmity, —but they will not wallow in the mire, Nor will he allow himself in any known sin, seen or unseen of man,
5. He walks as under the eye of God (Psalm 16:8).
7. And he walks constantly in uprightness (John 8:31). He perseveres in the Lord's ways.
II. THOSE WHO SO WALK SHALL DWELL IN HEAVEN. For —
1. Heaven is the land of uprightness (Psalm 143:10, 140., ult.).
2. The new birth which is from heaven makes them meet for heaven.
4. The Lord hath in His Word determined this (Proverbs 28:18).
III. APPLICATION. This truth shows that there are few of this generation that will dwell in heaven if they turn not over a new leaf. For men do cling to some beloved lust or other, so that neither the word, nor conscience, nor providence can make them part with it. And they care far more for the eye of man than for the eye of God; and are impatient of reproof: Contrary to Psalm 141:5. And they labour not to approve themselves to God in their dealings; but are altogether selfish, considering nothing but their own profit.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
I. TOWARDS GOD.
1. For first, to be upright, it is to walk with God, or before God (as the Lord saith to Abraham, walk before Me and be upright, Genesis 17:1), that is, so to lead our lives as in the sight and presence of God, who seeth the hearts and searcheth the reins of men.
3. It is also to be void of hypocrisy and doubling, not to have an heart and an heart, or to be double minded, but to be single hearted.
4. Lastly, this virtue of uprightness is commended unto us under other names, namely, sincerity and truth, sincerity being opposed to mixture, and truth to falsehood, both which hypocrisy is.
II. NOW THAT UPRIGHTNESS IS A PROPER NOTE TO THE CITIZENS OF HEAVEN, it may easily appear by the reciprocal conversion which is betwixt them. For if all the citizens of heaven be upright, and all that be tip. right are citizens of heaven, then is it manifest that uprightness agreeth to all that be the sons and heirs of God, and to them alone.
III. IT BEHOVETH US DILIGENTLY TO TRY AND EXAMINE OURSELVES, WHETHER THIS NOTE DOTH BELONG UNTO US OR NOT. For unless we be upright we shall not rest in God's holy mountain, but must look to have our portion with hypocrites.
1. And first, the study and endeavour of the upright is to approve himself to God.
2. It is the property of upright men to yield simple and absolute obedience to the Word of God, denying themselves, their own affections and reason.
3. A third sign of an upright man is, so to contemn the world, and to be weaned from worldly desire, as that he preferreth the keeping of a good conscience.
4. The property of an upright man is to hate sin as well in himself as in others, and to be exercised in judging himself.
5. The upright man repenteth of all sin, having an unfeigned purpose and resolution to abstain from all sin, and not to retain anyone, howsoever besides and contrary to his purpose he may fail in some particulars. But the hypocrite, howsoever he may be brought to abstain from diverse sins whereunto he is not so much addicted, yet he will be sure to cherish and retain some sin or sins that are more dear unto him.
6. It is the property of the upright to love and reverence the good and godly for their godliness sake, and to contemn and despise the wicked, though mighty in the world, because of their wickedness.
7. It is the property of the upright to prefer the greater and weightier duties before the less, the substance before circumstances, the works either of piety or mercy before ceremonies.
8. Another note of an upright man is humility. As contrariwise, pride is the companion of hypocrisy.
9. Again, the upright man, being imbued with a good conscience, is confident in good causes and courageous in time of peril; as Solomon saith, "He that walketh uprightly walketh boldly" (Proverbs 10:9; Proverbs 28:1). And again, "The righteous are bold as a lion."
10. It is the privilege of an upright man to be constant in good things and to persevere to the end, keeping also a continued course of piety; for the upright man is he which hath built upon the rock, and therefore cannot utterly be overthrown by any blasts or tempests of temptations.
IV. TO CONSIDER BY WHAT ARGUMENT WE MAY BE STIRRED UP TO EMBRACE THIS VIRTUE IF WE WANT IT, OR TO CONTINUE AND INCREASE THEREIN IF WE HAVE IT. The argument may be reduced to three heads, the excellency, the profit, the necessity of uprightness. But if neither the golden reason of excellency can move us, nor the silver reason of profit allure us, then must the iron reason of necessity enforce us to integrity and uprightness of heart. For first, such is the necessity thereof, that without integrity the best graces we seem to have are counterfeit, and therefore but glorious sins, the best worship we can perform is but hypocrisy, and therefore abominable in God's sight. For uprightness is the soundness of all grace and virtues, as also of all religion and worship of God, without which they are unsound and nothing worth. Wherefore in the Scriptures it is required that our faith should be unfeigned, that is, such a faith as inwardly purifieth the heart, and outwardly worketh by love; otherwise it is not a true and a lively, but a counterfeit and dead faith. Likewise our love must be unfeigned, that is, as John saith, we must not love in speech and tongue, but in deed and truth; or as Paul speaketh, our love must proceed from a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned. Our wisdom also must be without dissimulation. Lastly, our repentance and conversion unto God must be unfeigned and from our whole heart. As of prayer: to the acceptable performance whereof there is required uprightness, not only in the action itself, but also in the life of him that prayeth.
V. LET US OBSERVE THESE FEW RULES.
1. Let us, according to the example of David, learn to set God always before our eyes, and ourselves in the sight and presence of God. And to this end let us meditate on His omnipresence and omniscience.
2. To meditation on His omnipresence and omniscience, let us add the consideration of His omni-sufficiency, remembering, as the prophet Hanani said to Asa, that the eyes of the Lord behold all the earth, to show Himself strong with them that are of an upright heart towards Him.
3. Thirdly, to the former let us join a serious meditation of the just judgment. Hitherto we have spoken of integrity, as it is referred unto God; it followeth now that we should entreat thereof as it hath reference unto men. For as we must walk before God in truth and sincerity without hypocrisy, so must we have our conversation among men in simplicity and singleness of heart, without dissembling or guile. To conclude, therefore, this first note: seeing uprightness is made a proper mark of the true child of God and citizen of heaven, whereas contrariwise dissimulation and deceit are the brands of the wicked: it behoveth everyone to apply this note to himself. Dost thou walk uprightly without hypocrisy towards God, without guile towards man? happy and blessed art thou, for thou shalt see God, and as thou art now a sound member of the Church militant, so shalt thou be an inheritor of glory in the triumphant. Dost thou not walk in sincerity towards God, and simplicity towards men, but in hypocrisy and dissimulation? then most fearful is thine estate, unless thou repent, for thou hast no part or fellowship in the doctrine of salvation, or in the communion of saints, but thy portion shall be assigned thee with hypocrites, where is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
1. The first virtue and mark to know the true saints of God is innocency of life. By "walking," in Holy Scripture, conversation and living is usually understood. Men call them innocent whose life is hurtless and harmless, neither stained nor defiled with iniquity or gross sins. The honest conversation of the saints, confirmed with undoubted testimony of a good conscience, is the harmless, hurtless, simple, innocent, and upright life, in this place required. In which virtue excelled Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, David, and the prophets, Paul, Peter, and the Apostles. Righteousness, doing good, and performing of Christian duties to all men is often in Holy Scripture commended unto the saints and lively members of God's Church, and the doctrine thereof is large and ample in the Sacred Word.
2. The second thing wherein the people's duty consisteth is to give the labourer his wages, the workman his hire. There is righteousness of parents, of children, of servants, of the hirer and the hired.
3. The third virtue in God's saints is truth in tongue and talk. The tongue is a necessary instrument in our common life. Truth is required both in our private and in our public life. To this there are sundry motives and things to stir us. The commandment of Almighty God. The example of Jesus Christ. The Gospel which we profess is truth, and the word of truth. We are inspired with the Holy Spirit of God, whose temples we are. The Spirit is called the Spirit of truth, who "leadeth into all truth." To speak the truth from the heart is a mark of them which shall dwell in God's tabernacle. Doctrines:
1. Hypocrites, by their external life, are easily descried.
2. Religion and faith are showed by works of the second table.
3. Sacrifices without works of mercy are rejected.
4. We need not divide ourselves from the Church because there are some hypocrites in it.
5. There is no sound rest in the Church for any but those who desire to live honestly.
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
Homilist.It is time to preach the doctrine of this Psalm — that there is no true religion apart from social morality.
I. AN ABIDING FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD IS ESSENTIAL TO THE HAPPINESS OF MAN. The idea in ver. 1 is, "Who shall have permanent friendship with Thee?" This is the cardinal want of humanity. That an abiding friendship with God is essential to man's happiness may be argued from two things.
1. From what is in the human soul. There is a trusting tendency, an infinite craving, a sense of guilt.
2. From what is in the Divine Word. Nothing is more clearly taught in the New Testament than this.
II. SOCIAL MORALITY IS ESSENTIAL TO AN ABIDING, FRIENDSHIP WITH GOD. Look at social morality in two aspects.
1. As described.
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) 2. As necessary. Our conduct towards man determines our relation to God, and our destiny too. True social morality always implies true love to God. It is the practical expression of true religion. Then true social morality is the best means of promoting genuine Christianity. That man does most to spread the religion of Jesus who, in all his connections with his fellow men, does the just and the generous, the merciful and the Christ-like. (Homilist.)
(2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7) 2. As necessary. Our conduct towards man determines our relation to God, and our destiny too. True social morality always implies true love to God. It is the practical expression of true religion. Then true social morality is the best means of promoting genuine Christianity. That man does most to spread the religion of Jesus who, in all his connections with his fellow men, does the just and the generous, the merciful and the Christ-like. (Homilist.)
(3) (4) (5) (6) (7) 2. As necessary. Our conduct towards man determines our relation to God, and our destiny too. True social morality always implies true love to God. It is the practical expression of true religion. Then true social morality is the best means of promoting genuine Christianity. That man does most to spread the religion of Jesus who, in all his connections with his fellow men, does the just and the generous, the merciful and the Christ-like. (Homilist.)
I. UNFOLD THE CHARACTER.
1. He is a believer in Christ, and righteous by faith. He that does not work faith works no righteousness at all (John 6:29). For a man must first be righteous before he can work it. A soul not united to Christ cannot do this (John 15:5). All life and strength spiritual is in Christ (1 John 5:11, 12). Until the conscience be purged from dead works he cannot work righteousness (Hebrews 9:14). Truth is the spring of all good works (1 Timothy 1:5; 1 John 3:12; Hebrews 11:4). Therefore, let men work as they will, until they be true believers in Christ they cannot work righteousness. Works without faith ruin the soul. See the Pharisee (Luke 18:11, 12). But the citizen of Zion is a believer. Also faith without works ruins a man, for it is but a dead faith (James 2:11, 14).
3. He worketh righteousness towards man. He will wrong no man. He will be blameless and harmless (Philippians 2:15). He seeks to do as he would be done to (Matthew 7:12). And makes conscience of giving everyone their due (Romans 13:7). Not that they are perfect. Good Asa was not (2 Chronicles 16:10, and in Genesis 20:9). But their sins are not deliberate and of set purpose. He is a sincere worker of righteousness towards man. Hence in his particular relations, in the special duties of such relation as husband, wife, parent, master, etc. In a word, he is conscientiously righteous in all things that concern his neighbour (Micah 6:3).
II. CONFIRM THIS DOCTRINE. Consider —
1. God is a righteous God.
2. It is the great end of redemption that Christ's people may be righteous (Luke 1:74, 75).
3. And judgment will be according to works. Then be workers of righteousness.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
And speaketh the truth in his heart.
I. EXPLAIN THE CHARACTER OR PART OF THE CHARACTER OF A CITIZEN OF ZION. Therefore inquire —
1. What is truth? Pilate asked this question, but stayed not for the answer. Truth is a sacred harmony or agreement of things. Anatomists have observed that the tongue in man is tied with a double string to the heart. And so in truth spoken there is necessary a double agreement of our words with our hearts — that we say what we think; and with the thing itself, that it be as you say.
2. What is it to be a speaker of truth? He makes conscience to speak out the truth seasonably (John 18:37). We are to remember (Ecclesiastes 3:7, and Proverbs 29:11). This was Doeg's sin (Psalm 52). Those whose tongues are like a loose window in wind, ever clattering, have little wit or grace. Talkativeness is both a sign of little awe of God and is the badge of a fool (Ecclesiastes 5:3; Proverbs 14:33). But the citizen of Zion speaks the truth seasonably, that is, when called of God to speak it. This call may be private and providential, or public and authoritative, as in the courts of justice. When thus called he will speak fully, freely, clearly, and sincerely (2 Chronicles 12:9; 2 Corinthians 2:17).
II. CONFIRM THE DOCTRINE. It is evident, for —
1. In the saints the image of Satan is defaced (Revelation 21, ult.). But
3. The Christian life is a walking in truth (3 John 1:3). There is truth of heart in true Christians, and that makes truth of conversation.
4. And the Lord has expressly declared that liars shall inhabit hell, not heaven, for God is the God of truth.
1. This doctrine writes death on the faces of two sorts of people — those who are concealers of the truth which God calls them to speak out, and all liars. This sin is a common vice; but it is the black brand of one who shall never see heaven. They are barred out of heaven thereby, whether they be jesting liars, who lie to make others merry (Hosea 7:3; Proverbs 26:18, 19), or officious liars, who will lie to do themselves or others a good turn. Or pernicious liars, whose motive is mischief (Proverbs 6:17). Or covetous liars, who lie to get gain (Proverbs 20:14). Or proud, boasting liars, who lie to raise others' esteem of them (Proverbs 25:14). Or flattering liars, who lie to curry favour with those they flatter (Psalm 12:2, 3; Proverbs 26:28; Proverbs 29:5). Or fearful liars, who, for fear of others, make lies their refuge, as children often do (Psalm 58:3); and others, too, who are but children in courage (Proverbs 29:25; Revelation 21:8). "Or talkative liars (Proverbs 10:19). Those who are given to much talking will hardly be found regardful of truth. Or rash liars, who lie through inadvertency and customary looseness as to their words (2 Samuel 13:30). Much sin is contracted this way.
2. Speak the truth and keep from lying, for God is the God of truth (Deuteronomy 32:4; Titus 1:2), but the devil is the author and father of lies (John 8:44). He ruined the world at first with a lie (Genesis 3:4, 5). Lying, too, is the bane of human society, and a mean, base, and contemptible thing, the native product of the corruption of nature, the spawn of the old serpent left in men's hearts (Psalm 58:3), and is an abomination to God (Proverbs 6:17-19; Proverbs 12:22), and will ruin your souls for evermore. Check it in the young, as ye love their souls.
(T. Boston, D. D.)
(J. Hewlett, B. D.)
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
(J. R. Miller.)
He that backbiteth not with his tongue.
I. EXPLAIN THE POINT.
1. Who is my neighbour? It is the peculiarity of the Gospel that every man is made my neighbour. says, "Every man is a neighbour to any other man." Kimchi says, "He is called my neighbour with whom I have any business."
2. What is a reproach?(1) It is nothing else but an evil report, or an evil speech, unduly uttered concerning another. A report is evil in two ways — when it is evil in itself, a false report, and when it is evil to a man's neighbour, when your speech tends to your neighbour's disparagement and defamation.(2) When a man publisheth a neighbour's secret infirmities or sins.(3) When a man aggravates the real or supposed faults of his neighbour either in opinion or practice. Men often censure others for things indifferent and of small moment, as, for example, in their habits and garbs.
3. What is it to take up a reproach against a man's neighbour? It is a defective manner of expression, and therefore is diversely supplied, but especially and most reasonably two ways — when he takes it up into his mouth, and is the first raiser of the reproach, or the spreader and promoter of it; and when he takes it into his ear. This he may do when he quietly permits it, and gives no check to it; when he hears a reproach greedily, and with delight; and when he easily believes a reproach.
II. THE PROOF OF THE DOCTRINE. This shall consist in the representation of the sinfulness and injury of this practice of censuring, backbiting, and reproaching of others.
1. It is injurious to God. As an invasion of God's prerogative: a manifest breach of His laws. It is against particular and express Scriptures; against the fundamental law of love and charity; against the "royal law" of Christ; against the great law of maintaining peace among men; against the great command laid upon all Christians, of excelling other men: it is a sin against the whole design and scope of the Scriptures; it is a great injury to God, because it is a confederacy with God's greatest enemy, the devil.
2. It is an injury done to thyself. Hereby thou dost contract guilt, the worst of all evils. Hereby thou dost expel or weaken that excellent grace of love, that necessary and fundamental grace, that sweet and amiable grace. Hereby thou dost lay a foundation for thy own reproach.
3. It is a great injury to the person whom thou dost censure and reproach. Thou dost rob him of the best treasure he hath in the world. Hereby thou dost disenable him from getting good, both as to his outward and as to his inward man. Hereby thou dost hinder him from doing of good in the world.
4. It is a great injury to other men. Thou corruptest others by thy example. Thou art a disturber of human society. Thou art a great enemy to the Church of God.Two questions —
1. May I not speak evil of another person when it is true? A man may be faulty in so doing. A man may speak evil of another person when necessity requires it. If you will speak evil of others, do it in the right method. In doubtful cases silence is the safest way.
2. If the man I speak against is an enemy of God and His people? Well to remember there is much sinful zeal in the world and in the Church. Con-eider how easy a mistake is in this case, and how dangerous. And you must not go out of your way to meet with God's enemies.Application:
1. Lamentation for the gross neglect of this duty, or the frequent commission of this sin.
2. Take heed that you be not found guilty of this sin.
3. Avoid the causes of this sin. Take heed of uncharitableness, in all its kinds and degrees. Take heed of loquacity and multitude of words. Take heed of pragmaticalness, which is when men are inquisitive and busy about other men's matters. Take heed of man-pleasing.
4. Learn the government of your tongues.
(Matthew Poole, A. M.)
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. Slander. All reproachful, opprobrious, and vile speech of or to our brethren is condemned; and that speech which, uttered in their absence, tendeth to their disgrace, discredit, or defamation. This evil is against the law of charity. Satan is the author of slander. See his words to Eve. St. James, speaking of slander, said the tongue was full of deadly poison. This sin is in sundry ways committed. Diogenes, being asked, what beast bit sorest, answered, "Among wild beasts, the slanderer; but among tame beasts, the flatterer."(1) When anything is falsely said of us, and we are charged with matters that are untrue.(2) When men, by vehemency of words, aggravate and amplify the infirmities and light offences of men.(3) When men blaze abroad the secret sins and infirmities of their brethren.(4) When we deprave the good deeds and well doing of men.(5) When, by our manner of speaking, we leave a surmise and suspicion in the hearts of the hearers.(6) When we report truly the faults of men, yet not for love to the truth, but for envy to the persons. The chief causes of slandering seem to be these: Love of yourselves. Malice towards others. Desire of revenge. Hope of commodity. Study to please.
2. Injury. Men do injury and evil unto other men chiefly in four ways: in body, in goods, in rights and privileges, in name and estimation.
3. Receiving and believing false reports against brethren. Men should not be too light of belief. They are often even pleased with false reports.
4. Flattering the wicked. To hate the wicked and favour the just is a point of equity.
5. Breaking promises. This is usual in the wicked.
(David Caldwell, A. M.)
Nor doeth evil to his neighbour.
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
I. IT IS OWE OF A CLASS OF SINS. There are many of them, such as slander, calumny, defamation, revilings, aspersions, vilifications, and libel. All these are worse in some respects than detraction; they are coarser, uglier, bigger weeds. Calumny involves deliberate false statement. The defamer publishes his unfriendly message to the world. The libeler writes down and prints, and so puts before the eyes of a thousand readers in lasting form, the expressions of his malignity. And they who revile and asperse give us the idea of common scolds and scatterers of mud and offal, and show meanly themselves for the very manner of their work. But the act of the detractor is different from all these. It needs not lies nor aught which is essential to the others.
II. WHAT, THEN, IS IT? It is a taking something away, a kind of petty minute robbery. It consists in depreciating and disparaging others, It is made up of slurs and innuendoes, of hints and gestures; and is often clad in graceful and witty garb. But it is very villainous. For with all our weakness and faults there is some good in everybody which is very precious to its possessor. Now the Lord sees this, however little it be, and makes the most of it. But detraction makes the least of it it can.
III. THE CAUSES OF THIS SIN.
1. Personal interest. People think there is something to be gained by it.
2. Envy. They cannot endure the prosperity or happiness of others. What evil it works in all public affairs. It is the crying scandal of our day. And in business, men use it to supplant their rivals and to advance themselves. The envious detractor is moved thereto by his bad temper and also by the pleasure, which he ought to be ashamed of, — the .pleasure which people take in hearing of the misfortunes of others. Who is not conscious of this pleasure, vile as it is? But
3. Vanity is the chief motive of detraction. Reputation for wit is gained in such easy way by it, and a vain, weak person cannot resist the temptation. Nobody would listen to him on any other subject, but let him open his lips with some wretched gossip or scandal, and all listen. What punishment is too severe for this? It is the pest of society; but as for reform, it is all but impossible. Habit, and rivalry, and lack of high aim maintain it. But we have need greatly to fear if we be guilty of it.
Nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
I. THE NATURE OF SLANDER.
1. The origination of an evil report concerning our neighbour.
2. The circulation of an evil report invented by others.
3. The listening to such a report. Giving it the sanction of our ear.
II. THE EVIL OF SLANDER. What mighty unhappiness it causeth.
1. It demoralises the slanderer.
2. It demoralises the person to whom the slander is related.
3. It wrongs the party slandered.
III. THE CURE FOR SLANDER. It is a most difficult thing to rule the tongue, and refrain from evil-speaking. What is the grand cure for all sins of the lip? He "speaketh the truth in his heart." The heart must be changed, enlightened, exalted. Out of a pure fountain flows a pure stream.
(W. L. Watkinson.)
In whose eyes a vile person is contemned.
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not.
I. IN WHAT CASES AN OATH DOTH OBLIGE. No oath can oblige to that which is impossible; or to that which is unlawful; for justice requires that we do not invade the rights and privileges of other men. Oaths contrary to charity or mercy or humanity are void. No oath can oblige when it hinders a greater good. What if the matter be purely indifferent? There can be here no occasion of difficulty, except the matter be also of no moment. He is undoubtedly guilty of great irreverence towards God, that will cite His name to a trifle. If the matter of the oath be such as causeth a man to doubt whether it be lawful or no, in that case he had better perform it. There are cases relating to the person that swears. Here, whensoever we shall determine that an oath doth not bind, it will be for the want of the person's rightly understanding that he made one. A man may not know what an oath is; or he may swear when affected by anger, or by drink, or by fear; or by any other passion; or if a man swears to save his life, as from robbers.
II. IN WHAT SENSE AN OATH OUGHT TO BE TAKEN. That sense is to be taken which is most suitable to the business men are about. We may not precisely, without limitation, accept the sense of the swearer, or of the imposer, or that which the words of the oath will bear. The swearer may equivocate, or use mental reservations. What if a man swears and doth not intend to swear? Something of intention is always required to an oath. It would be a frivolous excuse for a man to say, he intended to swear, but did not intend to be obliged.
III. HOW GREAT THE OBLIGATION OF AN OATH IS. It is a solemn invocation of God to witness what we say, by His favour and mercy to us, if it be true; or by His vengeance upon us if it be false. It is a high advantage and privilege which God vouchsafeth to us, in that He gives us leave, upon urgent and weighty causes, to make use of His glorious Name as a seal to confirm the truth of what we assent. If, therefore, we take it up to avouch a falsehood, we are exceedingly ungrateful, we falsify that seal, we profane that dreadful name, we apply that which is most sacred to the worst of uses...For these and the like causes an oath hath generally been looked upon as a sufficient assurance and confirmation of the truth of any matter. He that seriously considers what an oath is cannot surely believe that any man is above the obligation of it. And as no man can be too great for such an obligation himself, so neither can he dispense with it in others.
(Henry Hellier, M. A.)
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
He that putteth not out his money to usury.
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
I. DEFINE WHAT USURY IS. It is that gain which is gotten by lending, covenanting before with the borrower to receive more than was borrowed. Someone, defining usury, calls it the contrary to charity; for "love seeketh not her own," but usury seeks another's that is not her own. Then it is far from love; but God is love; so usury is far from God. Usury has her name of biting (nesher), and she may well signify it; therefore St. Paul saith (Galatians 5:15), "If you bite one another, take heed," etc.
II. ITS UNLAWFULNESS.
1. It is against the law of charity.
2. Against the law of nations. For all nations have laws against usury, and some restraints against it.
3. Against the law of nature, that is, against the natural compassion which should be among men.
4. Against the law of God (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:37; Deuteronomy 23:19). It is a miserable occupation to live by sin, and a great comfort when a man can feel, of his gold and silver, that it is all well gotten, and that he leaves of his own to his children. The usurer loveth the borrower as the ivy loveth the oak, to grow up by it; the usurer would grow rich by the borrower. The ivy claspeth the oak like a lover, but it claspeth out all the juice and sap, that the oak cannot thrive after it. So the usurer claspeth the borrower with such bonds that he ever after grows poor as others grow rich. Christ bids us lend freely. God bade Adam live by the sweat of his brow (face), his own, not that of another, which usurers live by. David says, "A good man is merciful and lendeth," and then he adds, "he shall never be moved." In Exodus 23, it is said, "Lend unto him which wanteth without usury, that the Lord may bless thee."
III. THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF USURY. There be more sorts of it than there are tricks at cards.
1. Some will not take usury, but will have the use of your land or your cattle, and so get even more than by usury.
2. Others will take plates, bedding, and other household stuff, to use or wear, (Amos 2) "They lie down upon the clothes which are laid to pledge."
3. Others will take a pawn, which is better than the money they lend, and if the money be not returned by a certain day, they keep the pawn.
4. Others will buy goods at a small price, and then covenant that the borrowers buy them back at the same price on such a day, or else the goods will be theirs (1 Thessalonians 4:6).
IV. THE ARGUMENTS BY WHICH USURY IS DEFENDED. There be three opinions. Some say, like God, "Thou shalt die." They think that usury is utterly unlawful, because God hath forbidden it. Some say, like the woman, "Peradventure thou shalt die"; they doubt whether usury be utterly unlawful or no, because it is so much tolerated. Some say like the serpent, "Thou shalt not die"; they think usury lawful, because it is gainful, as Saul thought that the idolaters beasts should not be killed, because they were fat (1 Samuel 15:9). The arguments for usury which are pleaded are —
1. God doth allow some kind of usury (see Deuteronomy 23). "Of a stranger thou mayest take usury." But a stranger signifies an enemy such as they were commanded destroy; only to such might they be usurers. But men take usury of their brother.
2. They say they lend for compassion. But how so when you partake not of your brother's losses but his gains?
3. They say If he gain, and I gain too, is not this well? Should he not be thankful? Yes, if he hath received a good turn from you. But you bind him to requite it.
4. It is necessary for orphans, widows, and such like, which have no other way of getting their living. But how did the Jews do without it? If it was good for them not to have, is it good for us that we should have usurers?
6. It is only the biting usury which is forbidden. But all usury is that.
7. They, allege the law of the land, which allows it. But if God's law forbid thee, can man's law excuse thee? It did not serve Adam to say, "The woman gave me." And furthermore, the law only restrains. No man is to take more than ten in the hundred; if he do he shall be punished. The law doth not sanction any usury, but only holds back the usurer.
V. THE USURER'S PUNISHMENT.
1. Not only God's law, but the canon law doth condemn the usurer. It doth excommunicate him, as having no communion with saints.
2. It doth detain him from the sacraments, as having no communion with Christ.
3. Will not suffer him to be buried, as if he were only worthy to lie in hell.
4. It treats his will as he will. But hear the judgment of God's law. The usurer doth receive two incomes, one of the borrower, and another of the revenger. The first is gem, the other punishment. All the Scripture prophesieth evil unto him. Solomon saith (Proverbs 28:8), "He which increaseth his riches by usury, gathereth for them which will be merciful to the poor." God saith that He will smite the usurer with His fist (Ezekiel 22:13). As his hands were shut against the poor, so shall God's hands be against him. And here David saith, "they shall not dwell in God's temple, nor rest in His holy mountain." But this punishment is all punishments. Yes, usury signifieth biting, for when it has bitten others it shall bite the usurer too, and never cease. If, therefore, Christ be come to your hearts, as He came to Zacchaeus' house, restore now, as he did, and escape this judgment.
VI. THE GIVING OF USURY. Is this lawful? Jeremiah says he never gave nor took (Jeremiah 15:10). But he meant he was no meddler with the world, whereby they should envy him as usurers were most of all envied. But many will borrow who will never lend; and it is said, if there were no borrowers there would be no lenders, if no bribe givers there would be no bribe takers. And there is as much difference between the two men as between covetousness and necessity, for he which borroweth upon, usury borroweth for necessity. But for this God has allowed many things — Adam's sons to marry with Adam's daughters; and David to eat the shewbread (Luke 6:4). And so when immediate help is needed to prevent a great mischief, many think that it is lawful to resort to the usurer. But if some may borrow upon usury it does not follow that all may. Yet many borrow who have no need. They borrow because they reckon that they can get more by the money than the money they pay for it. Hence it is that goods are so dear. And there are some who borrow because they want to make their creditors think they are bare of money. These are like foxes, and I doubt not there be more sorts than I know.
VII. WHAT SHOULD THEY DO WHO HAVE GOT THEIR MONEY BY USURY? Restore it again. If you cannot say as Samuel said, "Whose goods have I taken?" then you must say as Zacchaeus said, Whose goods have I kept? The best thing is to do no man wrong, the next best is to make amends. For as humility is the repentance of pride, and abstinence of surfeit, and alms of covetousness, and forgiveness of malice, so restitution is the repentance of usury. As a camel when he comes home casteth off his burden at the door, that he may enter into his stable; so they which are laden with other men's goods, when they go to heaven, must leave their burden where they had it, lest they be too gross to enter in at the narrow gate; therefore that you may not die in your sins, make restitution (2 Samuel 2:26), so do you remember whether this course will be sweet or bitter in the end. Now, seeing that you may not be usurers to men, be usurers to God (Matthew 19:29).
The Young Man.The Rev. W.J. Dawson, replying to the question "Is usury right?" says: "John Ruskin replies, No. His contention is that if a man has £15,000 it is his duty to spend his principal pound by pound, but to put it to usury, that is to interest, is a sin against society. I confess I have never been able to accept this doctrine. When we talk of £15,000 it is one thing; but apply it to £1000, which we will say is the entire fortune of a widow. If she spends it pound by pound she will soon came to beggary. If it be wisely invested, someone else has the use of it in the promotion of business, and she has a small annual income, which is the barrier between her and want. I do not understand Christ as denouncing usury. What the whole spirit of the Bible denounces is excessive usury."
(The Young Man.)
He that doeth these things shall never be moved.
1. That we imitate the character of the man who is described in this Psalm; that we study to preserve a clear conscience, and to lead a virtuous and honourable, at least an inoffensive and innocent, life. So great is the power of conscience over every human being that the remembrance of crimes never fails to overthrow tranquillity of mind. Let him therefore, who wishes to enjoy tranquillity, study, above all things, to act an irreproachable part. 2, Join humble trust in the favour of God. As, after the best endeavours we can use, no man's behaviour will be entirely faultless, it is essential to peace of mind that we have some ground of hope in the Divine mercy, that through the merits of Jesus Christ our defects shall be forgiven, and grace be shown us by heaven. But a man may be both pious and virtuous and yet, through some defects in the management of his mind and temper, may not possess that happy serenity and self-enjoyment which ought to be the portion of virtue and piety. There is therefore some discipline to be studied; there are some subsidiary parts of character to be attended to, in order to give piety and virtue their full effect for conferring tranquillity.
3. Attend to the culture and improvement of your minds. A fund of useful knowledge and a stock of ideas afford much advantage for the enjoyment of tranquillity. In a mind absolutely vacant, tranquillity is seldom found. The vacancy will too often be filled up by bad desires and passions.
4. Be always careful to provide proper employment of our time. Regular industry and labour, with intervals of ease, is perhaps the state most conducive of any to tranquillity. But if relaxation degenerate into total idleness it becomes in a high degree adverse to tranquillity.
5. Learn to govern our passions. These are the frequent disturbers of our peace. Such of them as belong to the malignant and unsocial class evidently tend to promote vexation and disquiet. If those which are accounted of an innocent nature obtain the entire mastery of our minds, they are sufficient to overthrow the tranquillity of life. This self-command is particularly necessary in all that relates to habitual temper: those slight emotions which ruffle or sour the temper are sufficient, by their frequent recurrence, to poison all self-enjoyment. He who would possess a tranquil state must cultivate calmness and gentleness of disposition.
6. Never expect too much from the world. High hopes and florid views are great enemies to tranquillity. When rashly indulged they are constantly producing disappointments. One of the first lessons, both of religion and wisdom, is to moderate our expectations and hopes. It is a middle region which is the native station of tranquillity. Do not form too high expectations from the character of those who are in social or domestic relations with you.
7. Mix retreat with the active business of the world, and cultivate habits of serious thought and recollection. Reflection and meditation allay the workings of many unquiet passions, and place us at a distance from the tumults of the world. The three great enemies to tranquillity are vice, superstition, and idleness.
(Hugh Blair, D. D.)
(J. H. Jowett, M. A.)
(A Parsons Penn.)
(Adam Littleton, D. D.).