Therefore, the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: 'I did indeed say that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever. But now the LORD declares: Far be it from Me! For I will honor those who honor Me, but those who despise Me will be disdained.
moral attitude assumed by men toward God, which is here described, observe -
I. THAT IT IS PLAINLY OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE. "Me." Our relation to others is a light thing compared with what it is to him. This is everything; and knowledge, power, riches, reputation, etc. nothing.
1. Because of his nature ("There is none holy as the Lord"), his government (moral, supreme, universal), and his claims.
2. It is the effectual test of our character, what we are really and essentially.
3. It is the principal means of forming and strengthening it. What are we in his sight? What does he think of me?
II. THAT IT IS NECESSARILY ONE OR OTHER OF TWO KINDS. "Honour me." "Despise me."
1. Honour; by reverence (the fundamental principle of the religious life), trust, prayer, obedience, fidelity, living to his glory.
2. Despise; by forgetfulnesss, unbelief, self-will, pride, selfishness, disobedience, sin of every kind.
III. THAT IT IS ALWAYS FOLLOWED BY CORRESPONDING CONSEQUENCES. "I will honour." "Shall be lightly esteemed."
1. Honour; by his friendship, appointment to honourable service, giving success therein, open acknowledgment before men here and hereafter. "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."
2. Lightly esteemed; by himself, men, angels, despised even by themselves, and cast away among the vile. "He that sayeth his life shall lose it."
3. There is a strict correspondence between character and consequences, both generally and particularly, in kind and measure. And the joy and misery of the future will be the consummation and the ripened fruit of what now exists (Galatians 6:7).
IV. THAT ITS CONNECTION WITH ITS CONSEQUENCES IS ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN. Men often think otherwise. But "be not deceived." Consider -
1. The natural constitution and tendencies of things, as ordained by him who is "above all, and in all, and through all."
2. The recorded and observed facts of life.
3. The express declarations of him "who cannot lie." "I will honour." "They shall be lightly esteemed." - D.
For them that honour Me I will honour, and they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.
I. THE REWARD MAY BE CONSIDERED EITHER ABSOLUTELY, AS WHAT IT IS IN ITSELF; OR RELATIVELY, AS TO ITS RISE AND WHENCE IT COMES.
1. For itself, it is honour; a thing, if valued according to the rate it bears in the common market, of highest price among all the object of human desire; the chief reward which the greatest actions and which the best actions do pretend unto or are capable of; that which usually bears most sway in the hearts, and hath strongest influence on the lives of men; the desire of obtaining and maintaining which doth commonly overbear other most potent inclinations. The love of pleasure stoops thereto: for men, to get or keep reputation, will decline the most pleasant enjoyments, will embrace the hardest pains. If we observe what is done in the world, we may discern it to be the source of most undertakings therein. For honour the soldier undergoes hardship. In such request, of such force, doth honour appear to be. If we examine why, we may find more than mere fashion to ground the experiment on. There is one obvious reason why no mean regard should be had thereto; its great convenience and usefulness: it being an engine very requisite for the managing of any business, for the compassing any design, at least sweetly and smoothly. But searching farther, we shall find the appetite of honour to have a deeper ground, and that it is rooted even in our nature itself. For we may descry it budding forth in men's first infancy (before the use of reason, or speech); even little children being ambitious to be made much of, maintaining among themselves pertly emulations and competitions, as it were about punctilios of honour. It is a spirit that not only haunts our courts and palaces, but frequents our schools and cloisters, yea, creeps into cottages, into hospitals, into prisons, and even dogs men into deserts and solitudes. The reason why is clear: for it is as if one should dispute against eating and drinking, or should labour to free himself from hunger and thirst: the appetite of honour being indeed, as that of food, innate unto us, so as not to be quenched or smothered, except by some violent distemper or indisposition of mind; even by the wise Author of our nature originally implanted therein, for very good ends. For did not some love of honour glow in men's breasts, were that noble spark quite extinct, few men probably would study for honourable qualities, or perform laudable deeds; there would be nothing to keep some men within bounds of modesty and decency. A moderato regard to honour is also commendable as an instance of humanity or good will to men, yea, as an argument of humility, or a sober conceit of ourselves. For to desire another man's esteem, and consequently his love, doth imply somewhat of reciprocal esteem and affection toward him; and to prize the judgment of other men concerning us, doth signify that we are not oversatisfied with our own. But beyond all this, the holy Scripture doth not teach us to slight honour, but rather in its fit order and just measure to love and prize it. It indeed instructs us to ground it well, not on bad qualities or wicked deeds; not on things of a mean and indifferent nature, that is vanity; but on real worth and goodness, that may consist with modesty and sobriety. Such is the reward propounded to us in itself; no vile or contemptible thing, but on various accounts most valuable; that which the common apprehensions of men, plain dictates of reason, a predominant instinct of nature, the judgments of very wise men, and Divine attestation itself conspire to commend unto us as very considerable and precious. Such a reward our text prescribes us the certain, the only way of attaining.
2. Such a benefit is here tendered to us by God Himself: "I," saith He, "will honour." It is sanctified by coming from His holy hand; it is dignified by following His most wise and just disposal; it is fortified and assured by depending on His unquestionable word and uncontrollable power: who, as He is the prime Author of all good, so He is in especial manner the sovereign dispenser of honour. It is but an exchange of honour for honour; of honour from God, which is a free gift, for honour from us, which is a just duty; of honour from Him our sovereign Lord, for honour from us His poor vassals; of honour from the most high Majesty of heaven, for honour from us vile worms creeping on the earth. Such an overture one would think it not only reasonable to accept, but impossible to refuse. For can any man dare not to honour invincible power, infallible wisdom, inflexible justice?
II. THERE ARE SEVERAL WAYS OF HONOURING GOD, or several parts and degrees of this duty.
1. The soul of that honour which is required of us toward God, is that internal esteem and reverence which we should bear in our hearts towards Him; importing that we have impressed on our minds such conceptions about Him as are worthy of Him, suitable to the perfection of His nature, to the eminency of His state, to the just quality of His works and actions. In acts, I say: not in speculative opinions concerning the Divine excellencies, such as all men have who are not downright atheists. Such an apprehension of God's power, as shall make us dread His irresistible hand, shall cause us to despair of prospering in bad courses, shall dispose us to confide in Him, as able to perform whatever He wills us to expect from Him. "This people," saith God, "do honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." Such honour is indeed no honour at all, but impudent abuse and profane mockery.
2. This bodily part consists in outward expressions and performances, whereby we declare our esteem and reverence of God, and produce or promote the like in others. First, in general, God is honoured by a willing and careful practice of all piety and virtue for conscience sake, or in avowed obedience to His holy will. This is the most natural expression of our reverence toward Him, and the most effectual way of promoting the same in others. The light and lustre of good works done in regard to Divine command, will cause men to see clearly the excellencies of our most wise and gracious Lord; will consequently induce and excite them "to glorify our Father which is in heaven." "In this," saith our Saviour, "is my Father glorified, if you bear much fruit." It is an aggravation of impiety, often insisted on in Scripture, that it slurs, as it were, and defames God, brings reproach and obloquy on Him, causes His name to be profaned; and it is answerably a commendation of piety, that by the practice thereof we beget esteem to God Himself, and sanctify His ever-blessed name. Secondly, but there are, deserving a particular inspection, some members thereof, which in a peculiar and eminent manner do constitute this honour: some acts which more signally conduce to the illustration of God's glorySuch are —
1. The frequent and constant performance (in a serious and reverent manner) of all religious duties, or devotions.
2. Using all things peculiarly refuted unto God, His holy name, His holy word, His holy places (the places "where His honour dwelleth,") His holy times (religious fasts and festivities) with especial respect.
3. Yielding due observance to the deputies and ministers of God.
4. Freely spending what God hath given us (out of respect unto Him) in works of piety, charity, and mercy; that which the wise man calls, "honouring the Lord with our substance."
5. All penitential acts, by which we submit unto God, and humble ourselves before Him. As Achan, by confessing of his sin, is said to "give glory to the Lord God of Israel."
6. Cheerful undergoing afflictions, losses, disgraces, for the profession of God's truth, or for obedience to God's commands. (As St. Peter is said "by his death," suffered on such accounts, "to glorify God.")
7. We shall especially honour God, by discharging faithfully those offices which God has intrusted us with; by improving diligently those talents which God hath committed to us; by using carefully those means and opportunities which God hath vouchsafed us, of doing Him service, and promoting His glory. It is a most notorious thing, both to reason and in experience, what extreme advantage great persons have, especially by the influence of their practice, to bring God Himself, as it were, into credit; how much it is in their power easily to render piety a thing in fashion and at request. For in what they do, they never are alone, or are ill attended; whither they go, they carry the world along with them: they lead crowds of people after them, as well when they go in the right way, as when they run astray. Their good example especially hath this advantages that men can find no excuse, can have no pretence why they should not follow it.
III. I SHOULD NOW SHOW WHY THE DUTY IS REQUIRED OF US, OR HOW REASONABLE IT IS. God surely doth not exact honour from us because He needs it, because He is the better for it, because He, for itself, delights therein. He is infinitely excellent, beyond what we can imagine or declare.
1. For that to honour God is the most proper work of reason; that for which primarily we were designed and framed; whence the performance thereof doth preserve and perfect our haters; to neglect it being unnatural and monstrous.
2. For that also it is a most pleasant duty. He is not a man who doth not delight to make some returns thither, where he hath found much goodwill, whence He hath felt great kindness.
3. For that likewise our honouring God disposes us to the imitation of Him (for what we do reverence we would resemble), that is, to the doing those things wherein our chief perfection and happiness consists, whence our best content and joy doth spring.
4. In fine, for that the practice at this duty is most profitable and beneficial to us; unto it by an eternal rule of justice our final welfare and prosperity being annexed.
IV. THIS PROMISE HE MAKES GOOD SEVERAL WAYS.
1. The honouring God is of itself an honourable thing; the employment which ennobles heaven itself, wherein the highest angels do rejoice and glory. It is the greatest honour of a servant to bring credit to his master.
2. By honouring God we are immediately instated in great honour; we enter into most noble relations, acquire most illustrious titles, enjoy most glorious privileges.
3. God hath so ordered it, that honour is naturally consequent on the honouring Him. God hath made goodness a noble and stately thing; hath impressed on it that beauty and majesty which commands an universal love and veneration, which strikes presently both a kindly and an awful respect into the minds of all men.
4. God, by His extraordinary providence, as there is reason and occasion, doth interpose so as to procure honour to them, to maintain and further their reputation who honour Him. Many are the instances of persons (such as Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Job, and Daniel), who, for their signal honouring of God, from a base and obscure, or from an afflicted and forlorn condition, have, in ways strange and wonderful, been advanced to eminent dignity.
5. Whereas men are naturally inclined to bear much regard to the judgment of posterity concerning them, are desirous to leave a good name behind them, and to have their memory retained in esteem: God so disposes things, that "the memory of the just shall be blessed"; that "his righteousness shall be had in everlasting remembrance."
6. Lastly, to those who honour God here, God hath reserved an honour infinitely great and excellent, in comparison whereto all honours here are but dreams, the loudest acclamations of mortal men are but empty sounds.
(I. Barrow, D. D.)
I. CONSIDER SOME REASONS WHY GOD SHOULD BE HONOURED.
1. He should be honoured because of His power. It seems almost an instinct in the human mind to honour power. Some of the heathen worshipped the ox and the lion as the symbols of strength. In our own day, in connection with athletic sports, etc., we see what amounts almost to a worship of brute force. But perversions of the idea apart, every well-regulated mind recognises the necessity of honouring those to whom honour is due, and notably those possessed of power. Now consider the power of God.
2. He is to be honoured because of His character. Some would say that men possessed of power, if destitute of character, are not to be honoured. Without discussing this point, it will be admitted on all hands that power and character combined deserve, and will receive, all due honour. Besides this, it is to be observed that God's character is perfect in the combination of the strong with the tender. His power is to be taken along with His goodness, His justice with His love, His holiness with His compassion. So that we have in God perfection in each attribute, and perfection in all taken together.
3. He is to be honoured because of all He is doing both in Providence grace.
II. CONSIDER SOME WAYS IN WHICH GOD CAN AND OUGHT TO BE HONOURED.
1. We are to honour Him by trusting Him. There is nothing more dishonouring to a man of honour and truthfulness, than to doubt or mistrust him. The life of faith, from first to last, is a God-honouring life.
2. We honour God by the services of the Sanctuary, if they are performed in a right spirit. Altogether, if we are in a right frame of mind we are offering spiritual sacrifices to God.
3. We are to honour God with our substance.
III. CONSIDER THE CONSEQUENCE OF HONOURING GOD. It is said in the 75th Psalm, "Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He putteth down one and setteth up another." He is the Ruler of the Universe, and, therefore, all honour comes from Him. This truth is also brought out in: the history of Joseph, Moses, David, Daniel and many others.
IV. CONSIDER: THE PRINCIPLE ON WHICH GOD ACTS IN THE BESTOWING OF HONOUR. — God honours men, not for their fathers' sake but for their own. In other words, He deals with men not representatively but individually. This principle is brought out also in, the 18th chapter of Ezekiel, the gist of which is comprehended in the statement, "the soul that sinneth it shall die."
(D. Macaulay, M. A.)
(H. Alford, B. D.)
Homilist."Them that honour Me I will honour" (1 Samuel 2:30).
I. MAN HONOURING GOD AS A DUTY. How can man honour God? Not by making Him greater than He is. He is infinitely glorious. Not by ascribing to Him, in song or prayer and in sublimest forms of speech, the highest attribute of being. How then?
1. By a practical reverence for His greatness. His greatness should be realised in every step of life. The world is the house of God and the gate of heaven. Life should be reverent, not frivolous.
2. By a practical gratitude for His goodness.
3. By a practical adoration for His excellence. The heavens declare His glory, yea, the whole earth is full of His glory.
II. GOD HONOURING MAN AS A REWARD. "Them that honour Me I will honour." How does God honour such a man?
1. With a commission in His service. He gives him work to do and qualification for its discharge.
2. With an adoption into His family.
3. With a participation in His glory. "Enter into the joy of thy Lord."
Original Secession Magazine.It is abundantly evident that God is eminently worthy of the highest honour.
I. THERE ARE SPECIAL FORMS IN WHICH IN SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES WE MAY BE CALLED UPON TO HONOUR GOD. These are various as the changing nature of our lot in Providence, and the characteristics of the age and place in which we live. But there are common forms of honouring Him which are incumbent upon all who are blessed with gospel privileges.
1. As rebellious lost and ruined creatures, it is a primary and fundamental duty that we honour God by obeying His commend, to believe on His Son whom He hath sent as the Saviour of mankind sinners.
2. Another important way of honouring God is by having a strict regard to the ordinances of His worship. And we honour Him in a special manner by strictly observing, and carefully conserving, and earnestly defending any of these ordinances., which for the time may be corrupted or neglected or denied. Those thus honour Him, for example, who "keep the Sabbath from polluting it" in a time such as this when Sabbath desecration in a variety of open and flagrant forms so generally and lamentably prevails.
3. God is also honouring in our holding fast and holding forth His revealed truths, especially those which are being ignored, made light of, corrupted, or denied.
II. IT IS AN ENCOURAGING AND ANIMATING ASSURANCE THAT IN PROPORTION AS WE IN THESE AND THE LIKE WAYS HONOUR GOD, HE WILL HONOUR US.
1. God sometimes honours those who honour Him in the honour they receive during their lives from their fellowmen. He so deals with them in His providence as to mark them out as those whom He delights to honour. Many instances of this are found not only in Scripture, but in everyday life, as in the following case. There was a large mercantile firm whose annual stock taking was done on Sabbath. Mr. C — , a superior clerk in their establishment, had, without scruple always taken a principal part in this work. Having become savingly impressed with Divine things, he felt, when the first annual stock-taking thereafter came round, that he could not again dishonour God by engaging in his secular calling on the Sabbath, whatever might be the consequences of his refusal. He therefore respectfully but firmly informed his employers that he Could not again take part in the usual Sabbath stock-taking. The Saturday came, and he was finally asked whether or not he would be at his accustomed post on the morrow. He firmly declined being present, and received the ominous answer that a letter from the firm would be sent to his home in the evening. Late at night the letter came. Too excited and nervous to do so himself, he asked his sister to open it and read. It began, as he expected, viz., that in consequence of his refusal to perform accustomed duties his employers discharged him from their service; but the letter continued, "we so exceedingly admire your firm, straightforward conscientiousness, and feel so strongly that we can place implicit confidence in you, that we offer you a partnership in our firm, and feel sure that your presence with us will be a blessing." The following stock taking, we may add, was left in Mr. C —'s hands, under whose arrangements it was satisfactorily done without encroaching on the Sabbath. And never again was the sacred day desecrated in the firm in which he bad become so valued a partner.
2. Again, God sometimes honours those who honour Him in the esteem in which they are held by after generation. "The memory of the just is blessed." This is abundantly illustrated in Sacred and Church history. It is seen in the honourable repute in which the Patriarchs and Prophets and Apostles are held wherever the inspired writings are read and received. It is seen in the admiration felt throughout Protestant Christendom for the great leaders of the Reformation, as Luther, Zwingle, Calvin, Wickliffe, Cranmer, and Knox. It is seen in the esteem in which Knox, and Melville, and Henderson are held throughout the Presbyterian world. It is seen on a smaller scale in the honour which, in Scotland at least, attaches to the memory of the Erskines and other Fathers of the Secession, to the memory of Dr. M'Crie, the historian of the Scottish Reformation and Reformers, and to the memory of Chalmers, and other founders of the Free Church, and to the memory of many others who readily suggest themselves.
3. Again, God sometimes honours in their posterity those who honour Him. More than two hundred years ago, the Marquis of Argyle was beheaded in Edinburgh, nominally for the crime of high treason, but in reality for his eminent honouring of God as a pious Christian, a staunch Presbyterian, and a devoted Covenanter. And is it not noteworthy, as illustrative of our theme, that the Argyle family, whilst still Presbyterian, has long occupied a foremost place amongst the Scottish nobility, for talent and character and influence, and that one of his lineal descendants — the present Marquis of Lorne — has been honoured to become son-in-law to our Queen? We may give another and similar recent illustration. The celebrated John Welsh, minister of Ayr, and son-in-law to the illustrious Reformer Knox, was condemned to death as a traitor, for his firm and uncompromising opposition to the Erastian and Prelatic encroachment of King James the Sixth upon the Scottish Church. This sentence was commuted to one of perpetual exile from his native land. The unfeeling and brutal treatment given to his wife the daughter of Knox — by that vain monarch, when she sought some remission of this punishment to save her husband's life, is well known to every reader of Scottish Church History. And what do we now find with regard to their posterity? The Royal House of Stuart has long since been banished from the throne of Great Britain. And, according to the Boston Advertiser, the Honourable John Welsh, who last month arrived in this country as Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States to the British Court, is a lineal descendant of that very Welsh, minister of Ayr, who, for fidelity to the King of Zion, was unjustly condemned for treason against his earthly king. But whether those who honour God be honoured in such respects as we have referred to or not, they are and ever will be honoured by God Himself. They have His present approbation and esteem, both in and for honouring Him And the converse of all this is equally true. Those who despise God — who despise Him by slighting or rejecting His offers of Himself in the gospel to be their God in Christ — who despise Him by neglecting or corrupting the ordinances of His worship — who despise Him by making light of, or parting with, or rejecting any of His revealed truths — "shall be lightly esteemed." They shall be so necessarily, for there can be no true and lasting honour apart from moral excellence. Those who despise God are held in light esteem by those whose esteem is most worth having. They are at heart often despised even by wicked men, who for selfish purposes may fawn upon and flatter them in their outward prosperity. Their posterity often lose any outward honour inherited from them, and become otherwise dishonoured. "The seed of evildoers shall never be renowned." But whether those who despise God be much or little esteemed by their fellowmen, God Himself holds them in light esteem. All the plaudits, and honours, and rewards which the world can heap upon them cannot counterbalance this. "He that sits in heaven shall laugh; the Lord shall hold them in derision."
(Original Secession Magazine.)
I. THE DUTY INCUMBENT UPON US ALL, but especially upon God's people, OF HONOURING THE LORD. As we are God's creatures we are bound to honour God. Just notice how we ought to honour Him, and consider wherein this duty lies.
1. We should honour Him by confessing his deity: I mean the deity of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. "The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet there are not three Gods but one God."
2. Let us further honour God by acknowledging His rule.
3. Let us honour the holiness of God and the justice of God and the mercy of God by repentance whenever we feel that we have done wrong.
4. I would press upon you to honour God by acknowledging the wisdom of His teaching, and by a teachableness which accepts His doctrine.
5. We honour God when we believe Holy Scripture to be inspired — infallibly inspired; and, taking it as such, say, "It is not mine to question it, or to argue against it, but simply to accept it."
6. Further, we honour God's love by a daily trust in him.
7. We also honour God, when we confess His goodness by patiently enduring His will, and especially by rejoicing in it.
II. THE INFLUENCE UPON OUR DAILY LIFE OF THIS HABIT OF HONOURING GOD. A man who honours God does this practically; it is no form or farce with him, but a deep practical reality.
1. He does it often by consulting with God.
2. We honour God in our daily life when we confess him.
3. Sometimes you can honour Christ by Some distinct service that you can do for him, or by some special obedience to his will. I have always admired the example of the pious Jew who was told that a certain city on the Continent would excellently suit his business. "But," he asked, "is there a synagogue there?" and when they said that there was no synagogue he preferred to stay in another place, that he might worship God, though he would do less business. I do not know that this is often the case among Jews any more than it is among Gentiles; and, I am sorry to say that I know many Gentiles to whom God's worship is no consideration whatever — they would go to the bottomless pit if they could make large profits.
4. Then you can honour God with your substance when He gives it to you.
5. In a word, the man that really honours God seeks to praise Him.
III. THE REWARD OF ALL THIS. "Them that honour me I will honour." Is not this a grand reward? It is not, "They that honour me shall be honoured," but, "Them that honour me I will honour." Does God honour men? He promises to do so. Compared with the honour which the Lord is able to give, there is no honour which is worth naming in the same day. When God honours a man the glory is glory indeed. One of the French kings gave to a conquering general some £500 a year, or thereabouts, for a wonderful deed of prowess, but the soldier told the king that he would have preferred the gold cross. I do not think I should have had such preference for a bauble; but honour is a precious commodity. To get honour from God is very different from getting it from a king. It was said of Alexander that, of two nobles who had served him well, be gave to one ten thousand talents, and to the other a kiss; and he that had the money envied him who received the kiss. One kiss from the mouth of God would outweigh kingdoms. Honour from God — favour from God — this is a high reward, which cannot be weighed against ten thousand worlds, and all the glory thereof. "Them that honour me I will honour." The man who honours God shall be honoured in his own heart by peace of conscience — honoured in his own spirit by the conviction that it must be wisdom to be right and true and honest, and that it can never be under any circumstances right to do wrong, or wise to break a divine command. Such a man honouring his God among his brethren shall be honoured of God in the church. And in the world it shall be the same. I do not believe that a man truly serves God without in the long run winning the esteem of his fellow citizens.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
1. That their sins were of a scandalous nature, being an open affront both to the ceremonial and moral law. The offering of the Lord was that which Himself had appointed in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 7:31; v. Leviticus 7:33,34). But these sons of Eli thought themselves too great to be tied up to such a strict observance of the niceties of the law. God will and ought to be served in his own way, and they, who thought to be wiser than his laws, smarted for their folly.
2. That the house of Eli was advanced to that dignity which it then enjoyed by an extraordinary method of providence.
3. That although God was justly provoked by the sins of the house of Eli; yet there was a concurrence of the people's sins in bringing down such severe judgments.
I. THE NAME OF THAT HONOUR WHICH IS DUE TO THEM.
II. The rules and measures whereby God bestows honour on mankind. "Them that honour me I will honour; and they that despise me," etc. There are three sorts of men to be considered with respect to the honour due to God.
1. There are such as despise him instead of honouring him. Such as the sons of Eli here mentioned, who are said to be the sons of Belial, who knew not the Lord.
2. There are such who pretend to honour God, but do not. He that would give true honour to another must have a just apprehension of his worth and excellency, and give it in such a manner as is most becoming and agreeable to him.Now, there are two ways whereby men may be guilty of dishonouring God under a pretence of honouring him.
1. By false notions of God in their minds, when persons form in their minds false imaginations or conceptions of him; and so give their worship not to the true God, but to an idol of their own fancy. And when our minds are fixed herein, the next thing is to exclude all mean and unworthy thoughts of him, as inconsistent with his Divine perfections.
2. Men dishonour God, when they pretend to honour him, not according to His will, but their own intentions and imaginations.
3. But certainly there is a way left to give to God that honour which is due to Him.What are the most likely means to be effectual —
1. An universal discountenancing of all sorts of vice and profane. nose, be the persons of what rank or quality soever.
2. An even, steady, vigorous and impartial execution of the laws against looseness and debauchery.
3. A wise choice of fit instruments to pursue so good an end.
4. Lastly, a diligent inspection into the behaviour of those who are the proper and immediate instruments for carrying on so good a design.
II. THE RULES AND MEASURES WHICH GOD OBSERVES IN DISTRIBUTING HONOUR AMONG MEN. "Them that honour Me, I will honour; but they that despise Me shall be lightly esteemed." Which may be understood two ways.
1. As to such societies of men, which have one common interest. And so it implies, that the welfare and flourishing condition of such depends upon their zeal and concernment for God and religion.. God takes care of His own honour by methods we are not able to comprehend. And if we cannot know the number and aggravation of a people's sins we can never fix the measures and degrees of their punishment.But, however, some things are certain;
1. That the sins of a nation do naturally tend to the weakness and dishonour of it.
2. Sometimes God steps out of his ordinary method and course of Providence, either in a way of judgment or mercy. And then he more particularly shows that those that honour him, he will honour; and those who despise him shall be lightly esteemed.
2. As to particular persons, how far this holds will appear by these things.
1. That esteem and honour naturally follows the opinion of another's desert or excellency.
2. The sincere practice of piety and virtue doth command esteem and reverence.
(Bishop Stillingfleet.)I. THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHOULD HONOUR GOD.
1. By putting his trust implicitly in God's words of promise.
2. The righteous man honours God by cleaving fast unto the Lord when the world is all against him.
3. Another way in which the righteous man honours God is by his ceaseless activity and enlarged benevolence.
4. By his singleness of eye, and his faithfulness unto death.
II. HOW GOD HONOURS THE RIGHTEOUS. God honours his saints who commit their souls to his keeping for pardon and reconciliation, by bestowing that peace which passes all understanding.
(T. Myers, M. A.)
I. LET US EXPLAIN WHAT IT IS TO HONOUR GOD. To honour God is to frame to ourselves just and worthy notions of Him, of His perfections, of His power, wisdom, justice, goodness and mercy, to reflect upon them with pleasure and respect, to love Him, to trust in Him, to desire to resemble Him as nearly as our nature permits, and in all things to consult His will as the rule of our life. To honour God is to declare openly before men by our behaviour that we reverence Him, and would choose above all things to approve ourselves to Him. To honour God is to be constant in the performance of all public acts of religion. To honour God is to improve our abilities, and to discharge the duties of our station in a manner which shall procure respect to the religion which we profess.
II. We have see what it is to honour God, and hence we may know WHAT, ON THE CONTRARY, IS MEANT BY DISHONOURING HIM. God is dishonoured, in general, by all kinds of moral evil, which is a contempt of His authority, an abuse of His gifts, and a disobedience to His will. But more particularly: God is dishonoured by atheism and unbelief. God is dishonoured by that kind of idolatry, in which, instead of him, many false gods are worshipped. God is dishonoured by those who reject the Gospel of Christ. Amongst those who profess the Christian religion, God is dishonoured by such as live not suitably to it.
III. Let us now proceed to consider THE REWARD PROMISED TO THOSE WHO HONOUR GOD. By the honour thus promised to the righteous, the same thing is not altogether meant in the Old Testament, and in the New; for, because under the Law future rewards were not so clearly propounded, the honour there mentioned relates principally to this world, though honour in the world to come is not excluded: on the contrary, in the New Testament, where eternal life is more fully taught, the honour promised relates principally to that honour which the good shall hereafter receive, though honour even for the present is not to be excluded. The promise, therefore, contained in the text may be fairly restrained and reduced to this, that the good shall be rewarded with honour, usually in this world, and certainly in the world to come Honour is not to be obtained by those who do nothing to deserve it. All the gifts which this world can bestow upon us will not secure it. A good person will always be useful to society, as far as his station and abilities permit: he will not despise and wrong others, and he will do them all the services that He in his power so far, therefore, as he is known, he will probably be esteemed. Thus respect and honour is the natural consequence of goodness, and in the common course of things must attend it. But there is, over and above all this, a promise of God that it shall be so, and we must not suppose that He leaves the issues of things altogether to second causes, and never interposeth Himself. In the Scriptures of the Old Testament we find in how extraordinary a manner God honoured those who honoured Him. If we descend to the times when piety most flourished, and yet was attended with the fewest temporal recompenses, to the first age of Christianity, we find that the disciples of Christ, and other eminent persons in the church, though persecuted, scorned, and slandered by the Gentiles, and the unbelieving Jews, received great authority and miraculous powers from God, and the utmost duty, love, and respect from their numerous brethren in the faith.
(J. Jortin, M. A.)I. WHAT IT IS TO HONOUR GOD. I need not, I trust, use may words to show you the sole supremacy of the God of heaven and earth. In order to honour this great Being aright, He requires that we love Him with all the heart, and soul, and strength, and mind — that we entertain towards Him, supreme reverence and affection, that, whatsoever we do, we do it to His glory. To honour God then as a sinner, you must first do homage to His Son as a Saviour.
II. TO ILLUSTRATE THE PROMISE AND THE THREATENING IN THE TEXT. Many and great are the blessings promised in the Scriptures of truth, to the righteous, to them that fear God. Of all the subordinate principles of action in the human breast, there is perhaps none of more universal influence or of more powerful efficacy than the desire of honour. There is no class of men so high as to despise it, and none so low as to be incapable of feeling it. Princes and nobles, statesmen and warriors, lawyers and merchants, philosophers and poets, peasants and mechanics, are all sensible of its influence. To obtain it they will submit to the heaviest toils, the greatest risks, the severest hardships, the most wasting anxieties, and the most alarming dangers. Under its influence have the most formidable obstacles been surmounted, and the greatest results effected. A principle, then, so universal and so powerful, may justly be considered a principle of oar original constitution, and intended to serve the most important and beneficial purposes; and yet it is not to be concealed, that being directed to foolish, vain, unsatisfactory, and forbidden objects, it has been productive of dissatisfaction, disappointment, and bitter remorse to him who was actuated by it, as well as gross injustice, cruelty, and oppression to others. To gratify it, strange as it may seem, many have been guilty of the most contemptible meanness. Though a principle of our nature, then, and capable of producing the most extensive results, it is plain that before these results can be beneficial or allowable, as means of acquiring honour, they must be such as the laws of God, the principles of justice, truth, and goodness will allow; hence God says, "Let not the rich man glory in his riches," etc. If you seek, then, the honour that cometh from God in those pursuits which are agreeable to righteousness, truth, and mercy, which alone reason and conscience can commend, which promote the glory of Him who is all in all, the good of mankind, and the salvation and happiness of your own immortal souls, then assuredly it is a lawful, and proper, and dignified, principle of action. But if the honour that cometh from God be the object of your desire, and pursued in the way we have pointed out, you cannot be disappointed. The word of the living God is thus passed that if you honour Him, in other words devote yourselves to a life of faith and holiness, He will honour you. And He who is God over all, almighty in His power, and infinite in His resources, cannot want the means of fulfilling His promise — "Riches and honour come of Him, for he ruleth over all: in his hand is power and might: in his hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all." It is considered an honour to be made associates of the illustrious great, and men covet, even to a weakness, to be thought persons of illustrious extraction and rank; now God promotes those who honour Him to the rank of His children, makes them "heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." The Almighty so arranges His providence that at the last, and often in this world, the character of the righteous is duly appreciated. "They that despise me shall be lightly esteemed." While there is nothing that men, especially the young, desire so much as honour, there is nothing they so much dread as disgrace and contempt — but this shall infallibly be the portion of all who neglect or despise God. But is it possible, we would ask, to despise God?
(J. Gibson, M. A.)
I. I SHALL TREAT OF THE WORDS BY THEMSELVES. "Them that honour me, I will honour." The honour due to Almighty God is founded upon the same reason as His Being. For who can consider the wonderful power and wisdom shining through the works of the visible creation. Who can contemplate His goodness and His mercy, His mercy to the world. Who can consider God's government of the world, and His constant preservation of mankind? Who that considers the equity and perfection of the divine law? Who can reflect upon the preservation of a church? Lastly, who is there that has made any observation of himself, and looked into the circumstances of his life in the various scenes of it, but must own a cause superior to himself, and his obligations to this Almighty Power? Surely there is no need of any other argument than the nature of the thing to induce us to honour our Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor.
1. Religion and the civil interest are closely connected. It was strictly so among the Jews, whose government was a theocracy And the law of the land being then of God's own institution, there was a peculiar providence and blessing that was connected to their obedience by a Divine promise: And by this they were eminently distinguished from other nations. But though it was thus with them after an especial manner, yet the whole world always was, and ever will be, under the government of God's providence. And howsoever the providence of God may vary in its motions, now turning itself this way, and then another; yet there are immovable reasons upon which it always proceeds, and that is religion, and the blessing of God; our honouring of him, and His honouring of us, in conjunction and cooperation. For religion will stand to the world's end, whatever become of particular persons and governments. While mortals engage with mortals only, there is the like force to defend, as to assault, and the success depends upon the greater numbers, the inbred courage of the soldiery, the conduct of the commander, or some fortunate accident; but now when the Divine providence comes to be concerned, it is not what the number, or the courage, or the conduct, nay or accidents, are on the adverse side: because that's all in itself, and becomes all wherever it is. And there it will be, where the honour of God and religion is concerned. There is a vast difference between what is done by Divine providence for our own sakes, and what for the sake of others. If for our own sakes, as it is when grounded upon religion, and the honour we pay to Almighty God, it will then continue, and last as long as the reason lasts upon which it stands. But if it be for other reasons that we succeed in a design, and not for our own sakes, then when the reasons cease our assistance that we had from the Divine providence ceases with it. Thus it was with the haughty Assyrian, who prospered in his invasion of Judea, not as he himself thought, by the wisdom of his own counsel, but as he was the rod of God's anger, and sent by his special commission against the hypocritical nation But that service ended, there was a stop put to his victory, and he soon fell under the like calamity (Isaiah 10:5, etc.) The world is then as the Jewish state was, a kind of theocracy, God is the governor, and religion, as it were, the soul of it: And then it is that God becomes their patron, and His providence their security.
2. As these two are thus to be connected, for religion is to have the preference: "Them that honour me, I will honour." Second causes have this advantage of the first, that they are visible, and so sooner affect us than the Supreme, who is invisible; and therefore mankind have been inclined to direct their endeavours another way. But this is an unpardonable oversight, to begin thus at the wrong end; as if because an artificer uses a pencil and colours in the various figures which he draws, and sets off by his skill to the greatest advantage; that a person should impute all to the instruments the artist uses and applaud their skill, and apply himself to them as the operator, and pass by the painter. Much so do they that apply themselves to the next causes, and to the means to the neglect of Him who is the Supreme Cause. Prayer is somewhere due, for we receive what we cannot of ourselves procure; we live as well as we begin to be, by the like Power; and if we enter upon our affairs under the influence only of our own wisdom and power, we may as well pray to ourselves, as depend upon ourselves; since where our dependence is there are our devotions due. But how ridiculous would he appear that should thus adore himself, and pray to himself?
3. According to the honour we give to God, and the regard shown to religion, we may expect to be honoured by him; such we may expect the event will be. It is an easy thing to conceive that such the event will be, forasmuch as God governs the world, and when we lay things in their proper order there is no reason to think but that prosperity, honour, and success should attend those that honour God, as heat and light do the sun. And yet if we draw near, and view the case as it is often in fact, we shall find it far different from what it is in speculation. If, indeed, this was constantly so, that those that honour God were always honoured by Him with such peculiar marks of favour as distinguished them from others, it would serve as a character by which the good might be known from the bad. But since nothing is more evident from common experience than that all things, generally speaking, come alike to all, then those that do not honour God may fare alike with such as do, end those that do honour Him fare no better than those that do not; and so the force of the argument in the text will be lost. But setting aside, for the present, what may he said in defence of the method of Divine providence in such a seeming promiscuous dispensation of things and the reconcileableness of the proposition in the text to it, as to particular persons, we are to remember what has been already said, that it is more especially to be applied to such persons that are of eminent character in respect of quality, or office, or for the advantages they have and improve to the honour of God, and promoting of religion. And surely such as these will God more especially regard. But if we raise the argument higher, and apply it to nations and communities, it improves in our hands, and we have a noble instance of this truth. It must be granted that God that has a regard to the flowers of the field, the fowls of the air, and the beasts of the earth, is as much more concerned in the good, preservation, and happiness of mankind, as these in their nature exceed the other; but yet because we see not into all the events and circumstances relating to men in this world, and that there is a reserve for them in another, we cannot so settle what relates to them, but that we are forced to suspend, and must acknowledge there are great difficulties, and that must remain so to be, till the whole comes to be disclosed. But now as to men combined together in societies, the case is not so perplexed, for there we may, generally speaking, observe, and perhaps, if a careful history of acts and events were preserved, it would appear that God doth honour those nations which honour Him, and that there is no people among whom, as well by their practice as laws, virtue, and religion have been, and are encouraged, but has a suitable blessing attending it, and the Divine providence eminently appearing in their behalf. There are some vices that in their own nature and apparent consequences root up families, make nations effeminate, and poor-spirited, and render them an easy prey to the bold invader: As was evident in the declining times of the Roman empire, declining in virtue as well as power, and declining in power, because they declined in virtue. But there are other sins that have as bearing an influence in the judgments that befall a nation, and especially a nation in covenant with God, as a church, that deprives them of their best defence, the protection of God, and exposes them to the worst of dangers; and these sins are a profane contempt or neglect of things sacred.
II. TO CONSIDER THE PROPOSITION IN THE TEXT, WITH RELATION TO THE CONTEXT, and to the matter of fact it is subjoined to. Eli being invested with the supreme power and authority, had an opportunity for doing the greatest good, for reforming matters in Church and State, and settling them upon a sure and lasting foundation. In which, how happily soever he succeeded for a time, and so as to have the former part of the text verified in him, "Them that honour me, I will honour"; yet afterwards there followed so great disorders, through the evil practices of his sons, and his indulgence to them, that drew upon him a severe train of judgments. And can such persons whom God hath blessed with gifts and talents above others, or raised by His providence to a state of eminence, think that there is no more required of them in their public station than if they drowsed away their time in some obscure corner, alike unknown and unprofitable to the world? (Luke 12:48.)
(John Williams, D. D.)Revelation 4). I know it will be more profitable to instance particulars of honour and worship, wherein God especially is delighted.
1. We must magnify His name.
2. Obey His word and commandments.
3. We must give reverence to His sacraments, as to the seals of His love and mercy.
4. Obey His magistrates. Let me declare this blessing of God in particulars. The life of man is divided into three ages. First, here is our conversation upon earth, whose honours we call political promotions, but the days of this life are few and evil, and the honours are as short. The second life is the voice of fame when we are dead, according as we live in the good report of men, or be quite forgotten. And the last life is the life of glory. Thus you see God hath dispersed his blessing of honours:
1. In title and preeminence;
2. In a blessed memory;
3. In a crown of glory.This I have spoken for the first share of honour which God giveth in this life, and that for these two ends: First, to promote the public good; secondly, to be depressed in humility. But you will say, wherewith shall we honour God? With the heart, by desiring Him; with the mouth, by confessing Him; with the hand, with the plenty of your substance by enriching God's portion. "They that despise him shall be lightly esteemed." Which words will best bear this division of two parts.
1. Here is a disdain much undeserved that God should be despised in the opinion of men.
2. Here is a scorn and disdain justly deserved, such a man set at nought in the eyes of God. The first sign of despising is we condemn that which we neglect to understand, as when a prudent man will not beat his brains to study curious and unlawful arts, it is manifest he doth despise them; so, whomsoever thou art, that art not painful to understand the sum of thy faith, and the mystery of thy salvation, it must be granted, that thou settest it at no price and estimation. Secondly, those things which we despise we put out of mind and easily forget, forgetfulness is a sign of contempt. Thirdly, contempt is seen in not to take it to heart, not to be wounded with compassion when Sion is wasted, and God's honour is trampled under feet. Hearken now to the fourth sign of scorn and contempt, which consists in this, to speak ill of those things who are precious to God and of high esteem. Fifthly, to step into the observation of a judicious commentator, it is an apparent disgust of contempt; not to tremble at his anger that threatens. Sixthly, to take another arrow out of the same quiver, it is a sign we undervalue the power of another, not to fly to His help when we had need of relief.Seventhly, let me borrow but the speech of the angry goddess, when she thought she should be condemned; that is, when sacrifice comes not in plentifully to the altar, it is an indignity second to none, and God doth greatly disdain at it.
1. The order of these parts will insinuate it unto us; for promise doth go before minacie, the affection of love before the destruction of anger. Them that honour Me I will honour. God begins at the end where there is a reward in the right hand.
2. God will honour the good, He takes it upon Him, that benediction is His proper act. Where is the advancement of the proud? Where is there honour that would be noble, and yet tush at the true nobility of virtue and religion.
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