2 Kings 17:33
They worshiped the LORD, but they also served their own gods according to the customs of the nations from which they had been carried away.
Sermons
Alloy in the ChurchR. Venting.2 Kings 17:33
An Altar in Reserve2 Kings 17:33
Christ's Religion Requires Thoroughness2 Kings 17:33
Divided WorshipAlexander Maclaren2 Kings 17:33
Double-DealingW. Birch.2 Kings 17:33
Inconsistency2 Kings 17:33
Mongrel ReligionSpurgeon, Charles Haddon2 Kings 17:33
No Possible CompromiseJohn Ruskin.2 Kings 17:33
On Indecision of CharacterEssex Remembrancer2 Kings 17:33
The Inconsistent WorshipA. K. H. Boyd.2 Kings 17:33
True and False FearF. Addison Alexander, D. D.2 Kings 17:33
Christians Condemned by Men of the WorldJ. Parker, D. D.2 Kings 17:24-41
Heathen Occupants of the LandJ. Orr 2 Kings 17:24-41
Samaria and its ReligionC.H. Irwin 2 Kings 17:24-41
Subjects Worth Thinking AboutDavid Thomas, D. D.2 Kings 17:24-41
Subjects Worth Thinking AboutD. Thomas 2 Kings 17:24-41

I. ITS EARLY GODLESSNESS. The land of Samaria was now deprived of its Israelitish inhabitants. The King of Assyria colonized it with heathen immigrants. "At the beginning of their dwelling there, they feared not the Lord." What a mistake to go anywhere without taking God's presence with us! How many journeys are undertaken, how many a business is entered on, without ever a word of prayer being offered to God! How many a home life is commenced without a family altar! As the young Scotch lad said of a house where he stayed for some time, and where there was no family prayer, "There is no roof on that house." "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it."

II. ITS SUBSEQUENT JUDGMENTS. "Therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which slew some of them. Wherefore they spake to the King of Assyria, saying, The nations which thou hast removed, and placed in the cities of Samaria, know not the manner of the God of the land: therefore he hath sent lions among them, and, behold, they slay them, because they know not the manner of the God of the land" (vers. 25, 26). It was judgment that first made them think of God. It is often so in the history of human life. Men live without God, prayerless, godless lives, so long as all appears to be going well with them. But when sickness comes, or troubles overtake them, or death is drawing near, they cry to the Lord then. There is something mean about this. It is better to call upon God and to come to him in trouble than not to call on him at all; but how much better it is to serve him in health as well as in sickness, in prosperity as well as in trouble!

III. ITS MIXED RELIGION. Samaria tried the experiment of serving the true God and the gods of the heathen at the same time. It tried the impossible task of serving two masters. "They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations whom they carried away from thence" (ver. 33). In their case, as in every case, it proved to be an impossible task. "Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the Lord, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the Law and commandment which the Lord commanded the children of Jacob" (ver. 34); "So these nations feared the Lord, and served their graven images, both their children, and their children's children: as did their fathers, so do they unto this day" (ver. 41). They "feared the Lord:" that was profession. "They served their graven images." that was practice. Yet there are many who are trying the same impossible task. They have a certain amount of fear of God. They are afraid to die, afraid of the judgment to come. So they think it desirable to be "religious." They go to church. They read the Bible occasionally, perhaps. They hear the name of good Christians. But it is a name only. Their life cannot be called a Christian life. They serve God on the Sunday in a kind of way, and the world or sin the rest of the week. They try, perhaps, to serve God and mammon. They try to serve God and the world. They are liberal-minded Christians. But this kind of mixed religion is no religion in the sight of God. He cannot have a divided service. This is emphatically brought out in the first chapter of Isaiah. There the inconsistency and uselessness of a religious profession combined with a godless life is clearly shown. "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me?" "Bring no more vain oblations;" "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." Here it is plainly taught that a religious profession is worthless without a religious life. If we regard iniquity in our heart, the Lord will not hear us. It is interesting to remember that even this degraded people of Samaria, with their mixed and corrupt religion, were permitted twice at least to receive the gospel message. They were looked down upon with contempt and aversion by the Jews. But there is mercy even for the most degraded. A city of Samaria received Christ himself, and many of its people believed on him, for the saying of the woman who testified, "He told me all things that ever I did." It was even in the apostate city of Samaria that, when Philip went down and preached Christ unto them, "the people with one accord gave heed unto the things which Philip spake," and many of them believed and were baptized. And we read that "there was great joy in that city." Even to these Samaritans, aliens from the ancient Jewish faith, a people despised and hated by the Jews, the gospel of Christ brought great joy. Surely there is here an encouragement for the greatest sinner. Surely there is here a reason for us to hope and work for the salvation even of the most degraded. Surely an encouragement for Christian missions to the heathen. - C.H.I.







They feared the Lord, and served their own gods
I. The first thought which I think suggests itself to our mind, is of THE CURIOUS INCONSISTENCY OF THEIR CONDUCT. They worshipped the true God; and, along with Him, they worshipped various false gods. Now, this seems strange to us. We cannot imagine a man being at once a Christian, a Mohammedan, a Jew, a heathen, and an atheist. You must make your choice what religion you will profess: you cannot profess several inconsistent religions together. But it is just because Christianity has so thoroughly leavened our ways of thinking, that there appears to us anything strange in the conduct of these inhabitants of Samaria. For Christianity, we all know, is an exclusive religion. It not merely calls men to believe in itself, but to reject every other faith. It not merely claims to be right and true: but it boldly says that every other faith is wrong and false. The God of the Bible not merely commands us to worship Him: He commands us to worship no one else. This is their great characteristic as compared with all other religions. Christianity is a faith which admits no rivals, no competitors: it demands to stand alone. And the true God is not the God of this land or that land: He is the God of all the earth: He tolerates no brother near His throne. But it was not so at all with the gods of false religions: with the gods whom these poor Samaritans worshipped; no, nor with the gods and goddesses who were worshipped by the polished nations of Greece and Rome. It did not follow that because you held Jupiter to be a true god, you held Mercury or Apollo to be false gods. It did not follow because you worshipped Dagon, that you failed to worship Moloch. It did not follow that Beelzebub would feel himself slighted, because you offered a sacrifice to Rimmon. Each false god had his own province, and he held by that. And so you can see that these ignorant Samaritans, when they "feared the Lord, and served their own gods," had no sense at all of the inconsistency, — of the self-contradiction, — of what they did, such as that which we might feel.

II. A second thing worthy of notice in their conduct is this: THE MOTIVE WHICH LED THEM TO OFFER WORSHIP TO THE TRUE GOD. You observe, that motive was pure and simple fear. They worshipped God, because they were afraid of Him. They worshipped Him, because they thought He had done them much mischief already; and because they thought that unless they did something to conciliate Him, He might do them more mischief yet. Good might have come, in any measure; and they would never have seen God in that. But when evil befell them, such was their conception of the Divine nature, they said, Now, here is the finger of God. The lions came prowling about their fields and dwellings; and this neighbour and the other was devoured by them: and then at once their thoughts ran up to a God as the sender of mischief: that was all they knew about Him: and they determined to worship Him, not because He was good and kind and deserving of all worship; but because, unless they affected some measure of regard and respect for Him, He might send them something worse than even the lions who had already come.

III. It is evident from the entire account of them, that the WORSHIP WHICH THEY PAID TO THE TRUE GOD, WAS NOT REALLY SO HEARTY AND REAL A THING AS THAT WHICH THEY PAID TO THEIR OLD IDOLS. "They feared the Lord": they stood in a vague terror of Him, which prompted them to offer Him a sacrifice now and then; to meet for His worship now and then: but "they served their own gods": — they lived day by day in mind of them: they were not merely the worshippers, at long intervals, of these false gods: they were the servants of these false gods, — obeying them, working for them, from hour to hour. When the two things came together: the worship of a Being from whom they simply feared evil, and the worship of beings from whom they expected good: you can easily see which of the two would have the predominance. There is many a man who has that degree of superstitious fear of what God may do to him, that he dare not cast off God's fear altogether; while yet the love of money, or the love of pleasure, or the love of eminence and honour, really sits upon the throne of his heart! He "fears the Lord": and at the same time he thinks to "serve his own gods," — wealth, pleasure, or ambition. The fraudulent trader who adulterates his wares, and yet is never out of church on a Sunday: the greedy farmer, who will tell many lies to get a sound price for lame horse, yet who would not on any consideration be absent from a sacrament: and I say it with sorrow, brethren, I have known several such: what are such men doing but what the Samaritans did: "fearing the Lord, and serving their own gods!"(A. K. H. Boyd.)

Essex Remembrancer.
The first source of obligation under which man is laid to constant obedience, is the absolute supremacy and dominion of God. Because He is the author of all things, therefore is He the end of all things. We can assign no reason for the creation of the world, but the pleasure of its Creator: and can conceive of no motive to prompt Him to create, but the display of His own glory. As the glory of God is His object, so it ought to be the aim of every intelligent creature. The moment that man departs from the service of God, he becomes a rebel against his rightful Sovereign; nor can he possibly be restored to the Divine favour, till, feeling his guilt, and acknowledging the rights of the Divine government, he submits all his powers to the governance of God. There is something like a consciousness of this implanted in the mind of man, which forces him to pay some kind of regard to the commands of God, from a slavish fear of His anger, or a desire to be on good terms with so powerful a Being. A striking instance of this is now before us. The people whom the King of Assyria had removed to the land of the Israelites, being plagued by lions, looked upon it as a judgment for not worshipping "the God of the land"; which they could not do, because they knew not how (ver. 27, 28). The King of Assyria took care to have them instructed in the worship of this powerful God, not from any regard to Him, but to save the people from destruction. So a priest came among them, and taught them how they should fear the Lord: and now they unite the worship of Jehovah with that of their own idols. These they loved, but Him they feared. Affection bound them to the service of their gods, while a dread of the God of Israel constrained them to pay some attention to His worship. Now, allowing for the different state of society, how many may be found among us influenced by the same sprat, and adopting, the same conduct as these Assyrians: "they fear the Lord, but serve their own gods." They attend the house of God, and hear with some degree of pleasure the preaching of His Word; they are to a certain extent religious; but they are far from serving God with their whole heart. Their religion amounts to a general commendation of what is excellent; and a compliance with those precepts of God's Word which cost them little trouble and self-denial.

I. THE UNHAPPINESS OF SUCH A STATE OF INDECISION. While you thus endeavour to unite the service of God with the service of the world, there are two forces, of directly opposite tendency, operating upon you, so that the effect of each is obstructed, and you are perpetually disquieted, and receive no real pleasure from anything you do. What can be more wretched than to have a conscience disapproving your conduct, and admonishing you to duties for which you have no inclination? Instead of cheering you with the assurance that the God whom you serve win always be your defence and comfort, it upbraids you with your duplicity and indecision. It speaks so that you would rather stifle, than hear, its voice; and rather run the dreadful risk of eternal misery, than look into your real condition, and enter upon serious reflection concerning your final state. Nor is such a state less unfruitful than it is unpleasant. What advancement in religion do those make who are unfaithful to the light which has been communicated to them? Let me appeal to such. Is it not true, that there has been no improvement, perhaps for years together? What progress have you made in your religious course? Is it not true, that even the light which you once had is darkened? the feelings which were excited, benumbed? and the religion of Christ stripped of much of that glory in which it at first appeared to you? The Gospel, where it is truly received, purifies, but you remain the same: it consoles, but you know nothing of its comfort and joy. Do you ask, What you are to do? If you would enjoy the pleasures of the world as others do, you must serve their gods entirely, and cast off all fear of God, and all thoughts of eternity. If you would be happy in the favour of God, and the enjoyment of true religion, you must serve Him alone, and put away your own gods; for as He is worthy of the whole heart, He will not dwell in any heart that is divided with mammon. And now make the choice; but be determined to count the costs.

II. Such a state of indecision is A STATE OF INCONCEIVABLE DANGER. It strengthens the sinful propensities of the heart; — it deprives the means of grace of their proper efficacy; — and it restrains, and if persisted in, banishes, the Holy Spirit's influences.

1. Be decided. While you halt between two opinions you have the disgrace and disadvantages of both; the supports and joys of neither.

2. Be consistent. Let your conduct prove that your whole soul is engaged in the service of God. Thus will your course through this world be most productive of glory to God, comfort to yourself, and benefit to your fellow-creatures.

3. Be active. Our whole life is but one short day; and too much of that davy has been spent in vanity and sin. Let not the zeal with which we now serve God be surpassed by the ardour with which we have served the world.

(Essex Remembrancer.)

The people who inhabited Israel were double-minded. They felt it was right to worship the Lord God, because if they did not they feared He would send lions amongst them; had there been no lions, they would not have troubled themselves about Him. They feared the Lord, but served, that is loved, their own gods: Is this not the case with many of us at the present day? You know the picture of the old cavalier sitting on a bench between two ladies, and sighing,

How happy could I be with either,

Were t'other sweet charmer away.

It is so with many men and women. They say, "How truly could I serve God, if there were no sin"; adding, "and how delighted I should be to sin, if I knew there were no God." I feel persuaded you can see the inconsistency of having two conflicting opinions which divide your heart, and make your life an unstable as water. Let us, therefore, pray the Lord to give us grace to be decided-for Him; that we may take His principles for better or for worse, in sickness or health; and whatever may happen, to be the Lord's faithful people. Let us pray that we may have grace to resolve thus, and power to carry the resolution out, so that when we have lived our allotted time and finished our work, the Lord shall be able to say, "After all, I did not create that soul in vain." May I give you one or two reasons why there is so much double-dealing? I mean, that while men feel persuaded it is right to worship the Lord and do His will, yet they devote the chief portion of their lives to the service of their own gods.

I. One reason is that we get into the way of PRESUMING ON THE LOVING-KINDNESS OF GOD. Some of the preaching of the last hundred years has done harm. While I hold as firmly as any man can the doctrine of the power of the atonement of Jesus, yet, at the same time, I also hold that the atonement of Jesus is a means to an end; that is to say, Jesus laid down His life for the purpose of making us pure and unselfish. If a man says he believes in Christ, and yet does not act rightly, he does not liver the truth, whether he knows it or not; he is no more a Christian than he was before he joined the church. "Conversion" is repentance, that is, giving up things: that are bad, and doing only those which are good. Unless our faith lead us to, act rightly, and to deny ourselves for the benefit of others, we do not know Christianity, nor have we rightly read the life of Christ. Christianity is, acting purely in every action and at all times, and denying ourselves for the benefit of mankind. A higher religion than this it is impossible to conceive; one more powerful to bless the world cannot be imagined. But it is needful for us to understand it truly. If we say we believe and yet we do not act cheerfully, purely, and honestly, depend upon it we are mistaken. Believing in Christ is trying with our whole heart and mind and strength to do the will of our Heavenly Father as revealed in the spirit of the Gospel. What is "conversion"? Some people imagine that conversion is like a fortune being left us — that we have no more work to do, and have only to enjoy ourselves with the money. But conversion is like being an apprentice on board a ship, where one has to bear hardship and work for many weary years. Conversion is beginning an apprenticeship to eternal life, and serving our time on earth for the enjoyment and employment of angelhood in heaven. Conversion means literally "turning round," changing from a wicked to a holy life; and such a change cannot be effected instantaneously. Of course there is a moment when the turning-point begins, but it takes a long, long time for the conversion to be completed. The work of conversion goes on every hour and minute of our waking life. It is a battle with unseen foes — a man's worst foes being those of his own house, that is, his own nature. The life of every Christian is one long battle, and as a "devout soldier," the qualities he will need in his spiritual warfare are those which elicit our admiration in a British soldier, namely, order, serf-sacrifice, and obedience.

II. Another reason why we have this divided heart, which, while thinking it right to serve the Lord, yet permits us to follow our own gods, IS BECAUSE WE DISTRUST GOD'S LOVING CARE. It is a sin to presume on God's love; but is it not also a sin to despair of His care? So the troubles and buffetings of daily life, and the turmoil and storm which assail us, will prove a blessing in the end. The discipline is painful, as all chastisement is; but, my friend, these light afflictions which oppress you to-day are working out for you a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. We may be sure that what we have to undergo is for our good.

III. Having shown the reasons why we get into the way of serving our own gods, let me now urge you to follow the steps of Jesus, and to make CHRISTIAN PRINCIPLE YOUR RULE OF LIFE. I have often wondered what made the Apostle John picture the streets of the new Jerusalem as being made of pure gold, as if they were "transparent glass." I think it was because he had seen so much double-dealing that he, in singleness of heart, felt that heaven must be so pure that the very floor is transparent. You can actually see through its pavement; what on earth is dense is in God s home clear as crystal And if the streets are like transparent glass, what must the people be? The lesson is that we must get rid of our double-dealing and duplicity here, for there is nothing but openness and sincerity in heaven. If we are sincere, transparent Christians, our lives shall glorify God, and men shall thereby be attracted to serve their Heavenly Father. Do not feat to act on Christian principles. Perfect love to God casteth out fear. Follow Christ, and give up your life rather than act contrary to the spirit of the Gospel Dare even to die for Christ. Act up to your convictions. Dare to act as Christ would act. Never mind though the entire world be against you if God be with you. If Christ say "Amen" to your life, dare to live it, whatever men may say. Lot your heart and mind be of one aim, that one aim being to follow Christ.

(W. Birch.)

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" — "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," are two of Solomon's most pregnant maxims (Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10); or rather two forms of the same, which is again repeated in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 111:10). The word "beginning" in all these cases, may be strictly understood as having reference to time. This is the point from which all successful students of true wisdom must set out. Their first lesson is to fear the Lord. "The fear of the Lord," which is thus both the Alpha and Omega of the spiritual alphabet, may be taken either in a generic or a specific sense. The former is, in fact, co-extensive with the general idea of religion or true piety, including, either directly or by necessary inference, every right disposition and affection on the part of man, as a dependent and unworthy creature, towards the infinitely great and holy God. All such affections may be readily deduced from fear, in its specific sense, as signifying not a slavish but a filial feeling, not mere dread or terror, which, from its very nature, must be always tinged with hate, or at least with repugnance, but a reverence impregnated with love. This genuine and spurious fear of God, unlike as they may seem, and as they are, have often been confounded, on account of their having something really in common, to wit, a sense of God's power and an apprehension of His wrath as awaiting all transgressors of His will. But this common element, which justifies the use of the word fear in reference to both these dispositions, is blended in the one case with a consciousness of alienation and hostility, while in the other it is lost, as it were, in the feeling of attachment, confidence, and common interest. The varying proportion, in which these distinctive qualities are blended with the fundamental property of fear, determines the facility with which a filial awe may be confounded with a slavish dread. To discriminate between the two might sometimes be impossible, but for a practical criterion or test which the Word of God has laid down, in accordance with our Saviour's fundamental rule of moral diagnosis, "By their fruits ye shall know them." This intimate connection between genuine fear and obedience is recognised in the law itself, when Moses warns Israel "to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear the glorious and fearful name, the Lord thy God" (Deuteronomy 28:58). The negative aspect of the same truth is exhibited by Job, when he winds up his sublime inquiry after wisdom with the solemn declaration, "Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding" (Job 28:28). Here, then, is the touchstone of a genuine and a spurious fear of God. The one disposes us to do His will, from a sincere complacency and acquiescence in it. The other prompts us rather to resist it, except so far as our compliance may seem necessary to escape His wrath, which is the only real object of this slavish dread. The one is a fear of punishment as the consequence of sin; the other a fear of sin itself, as intrinsically evil, or, which amounts to the same thing, as opposed to the will of God, and to His very nature, which is thus assumed as the ultimate criterion of right and wrong, of good and evil. Only a filial fear disposes men to serve God. Selfish and slavish fear disposes them to flee from Him. This distinction, however obvious as it is in Scripture and familiar in experience, is not practically recognised by all men. There seems to be a natural propensity to look upon fear, blank fear, as the essence of devotion, as the whole of what is due to God, the rendering of which absolves from all obligation to believe, to trust, to love, or to obey. Among the heathen this idea of religion is perhaps predominant, or certainly far more prevalent than we frequently imagine. It may well be questioned whether their deities are ever the objects of their love, excepting in those cases where the god is but a personification of some darling lust. Beyond this homage rendered to the unchecked sway of their own appetites and passions, there is strong reason far believing that their devotion is nothing but the tribute of their fears to a superior power which they hate, and which they look upon as hating them. The service rendered under the influence of such a motive is in no ease more than they regard as absolutely necessary to secure them from the wrath of the offended godhead. But this universal and unconquerable sense of guilt may co-exist with an indefinite variety of notions as to the means of propitiation, and the extent to which those means must be applied. Some men may feel it to be necessary to expend their whole time in appeasing the Divine wrath; but by far the greater number, under every known form of idolatry, consider less than this sufficient, and rejoice to appropriate the residue to self-indulgence. They give no more than is extorted by their fears, and have no conception of religious service as a voluntary, cheerful, joyous consecration of the whole man to an object which he venerates and loves, and in the doing of whose will he finds his highest happiness. The only service of this free, spontaneous, and absorbing nature that the heathen devotee pays, is the service rendered to himself, in the indulgence of his own corrupt desires. He gives even to his chosen idol only what he is unable to withhold, his fears; and by so doing proves himself a stranger to all genuine religious fear, which cannot be divorced from the willing and devoted service of its object. An apt illustration of this general truth is afforded by a singular and interesting passage of the sacred history. The King of Assyria had carried into exile the ten tribes of Israel, and supplied their" place with settlers from his own dominions. These were heathen, and brought with them their own idols and idolatrous rites. Having no knowledge of Jehovah, whom their predecessors had professed to worship, even under the forbidden form of golden calves, they had, of course, no fear of His displeasure, till He sent wild beasts among them, and slew some of them. Regarding this correctly as a penal visitation from the God of the land, they procured from their own sovereign the assistance of an Israelitish priest to teach them how to worship Him. He accordingly taught them, as the narrative expresses it, "how they should fear the Lord," and they acted promptly upon his instructions. They took care, however, to provide gods of their own, each tribe or nation for itself, while at the same time they offered to Jehovah a worship of fear prompted more by the recollection of lions than by faith or reason. "So they feared the Lord, and served their own gods." How far the sacred writer was from recognising this as any genuine religious fear at all, we learn from his saying, in the very next sentence, " unto this day they do after the former manners; they fear not the Lord." Why! Because "they feared the Lord, and served their own gods." We may be disposed to smile with some contempt at the absurd and inconsistent conduct of these wretched pagans. But wherein did their folly and their sin consist? Certainly not in being afraid of the displeasure of Jehovah and in seeking to avert it; for in this they acted wisely. But it lay in their imagining that forms of worship, extorted from them by their selfish fears, would be sufficient to propitiate the Most High and secure them from His vengeance; while their voluntary service, their cordial and habitual devotion, was expended on His enemies and rivals. If this is the absurdity which we condemn, our judgment is a just one; but let us impartially condemn it wherever we may find it, whether in ancient or in modern times, whether in Eastern or in Western climes, whether in heathendom or Christendom, whether in our neighbours or ourselves. To make the transition easier from the heathen to the Christian world, we may begin with our own heathen, the heathen at our own doors, in our own streets; I mean those who approach nearest to the heathen both in the positive and negative circumstances of their spiritual state, their ignorance of truth, and their enslavement to sin. Look at the worst part of your population, as it pours its turbid streams along in times of more than usual excitement; hear its muttered or vociferated curses; mark the bestial character of its propensities and habits. All this you have seen, and as you saw it, you have been disposed perhaps to say that here, at least, there is no divided worship or allegiance; here, at least, are men who serve their own gods, but who do not, even in profession, fear the Lord. No, in profession, certainly not; in form, in purpose, not at all; but do you think they never fear Him, that is, feel afraid of Him? Be not precipitate in drawing such conclusions. In the vast mixed multitude of those whom you regard as the most ignorant, and reckless, and besotted of your countrymen, observe, on some occasion of extraordinary concourse, how many haggard faces, and contracted brows, and strangely gleaming eyes encounter yours. Do you believe all this expression of anxiety and dread to be the fruit of poverty, or sickness, or domestic cares? If so, you are mistaken; for the same expression may be seen in those who are not poor, who are not sick, or outwardly distressed at all; and on the other hand, its absence may be marked in thousands who are poorer, and who suffer more from care and sickness than do any of those whom you are observing. There is something back of all these causes to produce this uniformity of countenance, and I will tell you what it is — it is fear. You fear the Lord; you are unwilling to provoke His anger; you acknowledge your obligation to serve Him, and you discharge that obligation by attending on His worship; but is He the master that you daily serve? Where is your treasure and your heart? By whose will do you regulate your life? A man may so far fear the Lord as to frequent His house, and join in the external acts of worship there; but what if he has other gods at home, and there bows down to Mammon or to Belial? What if the world is in his heart, and the prince of this world on the throne of his affections? Will the stain of these habitual idolatries be washed out by patiently enduring the penance of a Sabbath service? Will the Lord, who is thus feared with a slavish dread of His displeasure, be contented, for the sake of this, to pass by all the rest — all that is done, or all that is not done, in defiance of His absolute authority and positive command? The charge which is here brought is not one of hypocrisy. It is one of delusion. I do not say that those of whom I speak pretend to fear the Lord when they know they fear Him not. I say that they believe they fear Him, when in fact they fear Him not. Or rather, which is really the same thing in another form, they do fear Him; but it is not with a fear which honours, or conciliates, or pleases Him, as they imagine; and here, just here, is their delusion. They are sincere enough in thinking that they fear God; but they are terribly mistaken in supposing that they fear Him as they ought. This is a painful truth to those of us whom it concerns; but it is one which, sooner or later, must be told. And it requires not many words to tell it. It may be summed up in this short sentence: If you do not serve the Lord, you do not fear Him. You may attend upon His worship, you may respect religion, you may believe the Bible to be true, you may hope to be saved through Christ, you may expect to die the death of the righteous.

(F. Addison Alexander, D. D.)

"So do they unto this day:" said the writer of the Book of Kings, who has long since passed away unto his fathers;. Were he alive now he might say concerning the spiritual descendants of these Samaritans, "So do they unto this day." This base union of fearing God and serving other gods is by no means obsolete. Alas, it is too common everywhere, and to be met with where you might least expect it.

I. I shall first call your attention to THE NATURE OF THIS MONGREL RELIGION. It had its good and bad points, for it wore a double face.

1. These people were not infidels. Far from it: "they feared the Lord." They did not deny the existence, or the power, or the rights of the great God of Israel, whose name is Jehovah. They had faith, though only enough to produce fear. They knew that there was a God; they feared His wrath, and they tried, to appease it. So far they were hopeful persons, and under the influence of a feeling which has often led up to better things. It was better to dread God than to despise Him; better slavishly to fear than stupidly to forget.

2. Another good point about these mixed religionists was that they were willing to be taught. As soon as they found that they were not acting rightly towards the God of the land, they sent a petition to their supreme ruler, the King of Assyria, setting forth their spiritual destitution. They were quite willing to be taught the manner of the God of the land, and so they installed this priest at Bethel, and gathered, about him to know what they Should do. We have people around us unto this day who are glad to hear the Gospel, and sit with pleasure under our ministry, and if the Word be faithfully preached they commend the preacher and give a gratified attention to the things that proceed out of his mouth; and yet they are living in known sin.

3. Though these strangers feared Jehovah, and were, willing to learn the way of His worship, yet they stuck to their old gods. "Ah," said the Babylonian, "I listen respectfully to what you have to say of this God of the land; but Succoth-benoth for me; when I go home I shall offer sacrifice to him." The men of Cuthah said, "Verily this is good doctrine concerning the God of Israel; but the god of our fathers was Nergal, and to him will we cleave"; and the Sepharvites, though they wished to hear of the pure and holy Jehovah, and therefore learned from His law the command, "Thou shalt not kill," yet still they passed their children through the fire to Moloch, and did not cease from that most cruel of all religious rites. Thus yon see that this mingle-mangle religion left the people practically where they were: whatever their fear might be, their customs and practices remained the same. Have you never met with persons of the same mongrel kind? If you have never done so, your class of acquaintances must be superior to mine. Persons are to be found, without a lantern and candle, who earn their money by ministering at the altars of Belial, and then offer a part of it to the Lord of hosts. Can they come from the place of revelling to the chamber of communion?

II. Let us now consider THE MANNER OF ITS GROWTH. However came such a 'monstrous compound into this world? Here is the history of it.

1. These people came to live where the people of God had lived. The Israelites were most unworthy worshippers of Jehovah; but, still, they were known to others as His people, and their land was Jehovah's land. If the Sepharvites had stopped at Sepharvaim they would never have thought of fearing Jehovah; if the men of Babylon had continued to live in Babylon they would have been perfectly satisfied with Bel, or Succoth-benoth, or whatever the name of their precious god might be: but when they were fetched out from their old haunts, and brought into Canaan, they came under a different influence, and a new order of things. Something else happened to these Assyrian immigrants which had a stronger influence still.

2. At first they did not fear God, but the Lord sent lions among them. Matthew Henry says, "God can serve His own purposes by which He pleaseth, little or big, lice or lions." By the smaller means he plagued the Egyptians, and by the greater these invaders of His land.

3. But notice, that the root of this religion is fear. There is no love on the right side; that affection is in the opposite scale. Their hearts go after their idols, but to Jehovah they yield nothing but dread.

4. One reason why they dropped into this self-contradictory religion was that they had a trimming teacher. The King of Assyria sent them a priest: he could not have sent them a prophet, but that was what they really wanted. He sent them a Bethelite, not a genuine servant of Jehovah, but one who worshipped God by means of symbols; and this the Lord had expressly forbidden.

III. Thirdly, let us estimate THE VALUE OF THIS RELIGION. What is it worth?

1. It must evidently be feeble on both sides, because the man who serves Succoth-benoth cannot do it thoroughly if all the while he fears Jehovah; and he who fears Jehovah cannot be sincere if he is worshipping Moloch.

2. At first I should think that the mixture of the true with the false at Samaria looked like an improvement.

3. These Samaritans in after years became the bitterest foes of God's people. Read the Book of Nehemiah, and you will see that the most bitter opponents of that godly man were those mongrels.

4. How provoking this adulterated religion must be to God! It is even provoking to God's minister to be pestered with men whose hypocrisies weaken the force of his testimony.

IV. THE CONTINUANCE OF THIS EVIL: for the text says, "As did their fathers, so do they, unto this day." I believe in the final perseverance of the saints: I am almost obliged to believe in the final perseverance of hypocrites; for, really, when a man once screws himself up to play the double, and both to fear God and serve other gods, he is very apt to stick there. One reason why it can be said of most men-so do they unto this day, is because it yields them a sort of comfort; at any rate it keeps off the lions.

V. I shall now close by saying a few words BY WAY OF CURE OF THIS DREADFUL EVIL OF MONGRELISM; this fearing the Lord, and serving other gods.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

In the days of Queen Mary and preceding sovereigns, a vast quantity of coin had been forced into circulation in which there was far more alloy than pure silver. Though it answered its purpose for a time, in the end it disturbed the commerce of the whole country, and threatened to bring about the ruin of all trade and business, until it was withdrawn in the days of Elizabeth. There was increasing evil, ,and it was one of the wisest acts of her reign to restore the currency to its former value. Ah, what vast quantities of alloy are found in Christ's Church! There are men of double mind — half for the world and half for God. There are those who keep up the forms of religion, but are total strangers to its power.

(R. Venting.)

Now, most people think, if they keep all the best rooms in their hearts swept and garnished for Christ, that they may keep a little chamber in their heart's wall for Belial on his occasional visits; or a three-legged stool for him in the heart's counting-house; or a corner for him in the heart's scullery, where he may lick the dishes. It won't do! You must cleanse the house of him, as you would of the plague, to the last spot. You must be resolved that as all you have shall be God's, so all you are shall be God's.

(John Ruskin.)

Rev. C. H. Spurgeon in one of his works remarks: "The shops in the square of San Marco were all religiously closed, for the day was a high festival. We were much disappointed, for it was our last day, and we desired to take away with us some souvenirs of lovely Venice; but our regret soon vanished, for on looking at the shop we meant to patronise, we readily discovered signs of traffic within. We stepped to the side door, and found when one or two other customers had been served that we might purchase to our heart's content, saint or no saint. After this fashion too many keep the laws of God to the eye, but violate them in the heart. The shutters are up as if the man no more dealt with sin and Satan: but a brisk commerce is going on behind the scenes. From such deceit may the Spirit of truth preserve us continually."

When Redwald, King of Kent, embraced Christianity, he was not fully persuaded that Christ would prove stronger than the heathen gods, so he kept two altars in his temple, the larger one dedicated to Christ and the small one in the corner dedicated to the heathen gods. He thought that if Christ should ever be overthrown he might still claim the protection of the heathen deity, because of his faithfulness. How many nominal Christians have an altar in reserve!

Blest too is he who can divine

Where real right doth lie,

And dares to take the side that seems

Wrong to man's blindfold eye.

Then learn to scorn the praise of men,

And learn to lose with God:

For Jesus won the world through shame,

And beckons thee His road.

The Rev. J. Bachus writes from Ceylon: "One of our converts, who was employed on an estate managed by a heathen, was known to be a Christian among his comrades. When the manager insisted one day on his going, with other coolies, to the neighbouring heathen temple, the poor man said, 'No, sir, I will not go to worship an idol. I am a Christian, and I worship the only true God.' When the manager threatened to turn him off the estate, he boldly said, 'I would rather beg than worship idols. My bread is not in your hands, but in the hands of Him whom I worship. Although you turn me out, He will never forsake me.' He was immediately turned out, and is now a small trader.".

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