And say, Thus said the Lord GOD to Jerusalem; Your birth and your nativity is of the land of Canaan; your father was an Amorite…
I. MAN IS ESSENTIALLY RELIGIOUS. Religion in the heart of man is something that pertains to the land of Canaan. It has not been invented by man, or created in his soul by human science or culture: it is not a product of education or civilisation. It is part of man's nature more truly than the raindrop is part of the cloud from which it falls, or than the river is part of the sea from which it flows and to which it returns. It is in the soul as fire is in the flint; as the oak is in the acorn, or as the day is in the dawn. Religion belongs to the soul, as hunger and thirst belong to the body. Hunger and thirst may not create bread, any more than the organ of vision can create light, or the organ of hearing sound; but bread and water, light and sound, would be useless without these organs. Were it not that man is essentially religious, all our preaching of the Gospel, and all our missionary labours at home and abroad, would be vain. Go with me in thought, and view the ruins of the temple of Heliopolis on the borders of Arabia, or the gigantic ruins of Luxor and Thebes on the banks of the Nile, or those of Baalbeck in the valley between the Lebanons. Whence the origin and purpose of these ancient temples? These temples, it may be said, were largely the outcome or expressions of man's religious beliefs — superstitious beliefs, if you will. But whence the origin of these superstitious beliefs? What was their root cause? Their root cause was man's religious nature. The word superstition means a resting upon, yes, resting upon man's natural religious convictions.
II. MAY BY NATURE IS MORALLY CORRUPT. "Thy father was an Amorite and thy mother an Hittite." The Amorites and Hittites, though born in the land of Canaan, were aliens to the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants with promise; they were without God and without hope in the world. This doctrine of human depravity or moral corruption applies to all races and to men of all ranks. Sin in the soul is not the result of evil habits, as some suppose, nor the issue of a false education and corrupting companionship and circumstances. It is not a thing like cold, which a man may or may not take in certain circumstances, and which, if taken, may develop into consumption or some other disease. No. We are all horn with it. It is a constitutional malady. Apart from the doctrine of sin — original sin in the soul; I know not the doctrine of salvation, even in theory. Apart from the doctrine of man's natural alienation from God, I know not the meaning of Christ's mission to the world. What would be the meaning of physicians were there no human ailments? or of drugs were there no human diseases? or of bread and water were there no such things as hunger and thirst? Without sin in the soul, the Gospel could have no meaning, and the Cross could have no power.
III. CHRISTIANITY IS GOD'S REMEDY FOR MAN'S MALADY. He who at the beginning said, "Let there be light, and there was light," now says to all men "Live." The description given in the context of man's state by nature, speaks of death, moral and spiritual of orphanage and great feebleness. There is a great amount of life in the world, and man is not without life. It is called natural life; but natural life is somewhat as the river Jordan, that ends its flow in the Dead Sea. Human life, at the best, is as the grass, and its glory as the flower. It does not last, and its duration is a contradiction of our supreme desires. Death is not natural to man. Man was not made to die, as some men seem to suppose, but to live; hence the fear of death makes men subject to bondage. The keynote of Christianity is life, life that cannot die. "I am come, said Jesus, that ye might have life, and that ye might have it more abundantly." To all who hear and believe the Gospel, God says "Live." Is there any other religion in all the world that can be compared with the Christian religion in this respect? Christianity, as a system of truth, is in harmony with the soundest deductions of enlightened reason; Christianity, as exhibited in the Person and work of Jesus Christ, is the complement of the deepest cravings, the strongest desires, and the universal wants of humanity. It makes man great with the "hopes which cheer the just." It lifts him as from "the dunghill, and sets him among princes." While it fosters the conviction that heaven is needed to complete his life on earth, it opens the way, and gives him health and power to reach it. It makes him hopeful, useful, and great.
(J. K. Campbell, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And say, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite.