O Israel, you have destroyed yourself; but in me is your help.
As regards the race of Israel, the prophet's statement is self-evident. The national ruin of the chosen race was clearly due to national disobedience. But is not man in all eases the author of his own perdition? That it was so with our first parent admits of no doubt. His ruin was chargeable solely on him self. Is man a self-destroyer? Consider this question —
I. IN ITS RELATION TO THE NATURE OF GOD. We cannot comprehend God. Between the Creator and the creature there is an immeasurable distance. If God foreknows that this or-that man will finally perish, how can it be affirmed that he destroys himself? In reply we ask, Does the foreknowledge of God as to any particular action imply that He is the Agent? All that can be said is that God permits these actions to be wrought. We must not confound what God foreknows with what God appoints. The future punishment of the wicked is represented in God's Word as the product of sin, — sin the grain sown, punishment the harvest to be reaped. If, then, the sin is the sinner's own, and the punishment is the legitimate product of the sin, is not the conclusion just, that it is the man him self who commits the sin who destroys himself! Suppose that the decrees of God are apparently inconsistent with the doctrine that man destroys himself. There are two methods by which the question might be set at rest. One is through our being made fully acquainted with all those decrees, in all their relations to time and to eternity. But this method is inapplicable in our case, for we have not the capacity to comprehend the decrees of God. The other is our accepting the assurance that the purposes of God are not at variance with our personal responsibility. Life and death are before us, and we can choose. Therefore man's undoing must be of himself. God's decrees we cannot comprehend, His invitations we can
II. THE QUESTION IN ITS RELATION TO THE PROPOSALS OF THE GOSPEL. Some have attempted to show that the requirements of the Gospel are in effect the main hindrances to its acceptance. They are so rigid and unyielding, that practically they operate as a barrier to our embracing the proposals of mercy which the Gospel brings. With the requirements of the Gospel it is certainly no easy matter to comply. No man can comply with them in his own strength. But we must remember that the Gospel is of God. It is the plan which infinite wisdom contrived, and shall feeble man presume to say that the wisdom of Jehovah has erred? Bear in mind that the precepts of the Gospel are framed for the happiness and well-being of mankind; and note how care. fully the Gospel adapts itself to our moral constitution in the appeal which it makes to those motives which have the most power to influence human con duct. It may, however, be further objected, that there is such an inherent weakness and depravity in human nature that practically it is impossible to attain to the standard of obedience which the Gospel demands. Least of all will this plea serve. We fully admit the depravity of human nature. But bear in mind the nature has been redeemed. The Son of God has taken our nature into union with the Divine, that He might redeem and sanctify and save it. Say not, then, that it is the nature of man which makes it impossible for him to be saved. The nature has been redeemed, and the redemption would be incomplete if it left any man in this life beyond the reach of being saved. If there had been no interposition in behalf of the fallen; if mankind had been allowed to multiply, and no movement on the part of God had been set on foot for their deliverance, there might then have been ground for the excuse. There is, how ever, nothing in the nature of God, nothing in the proposals of the Gospel, nothing in the moral nature of men, to render salvation impossible.
(R. Bickersteth, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.