They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.
There is a hideous creature called the vampire bat, that is said to destroy its victims by sucking their life-blood. Whilst thus destroying them, it gently fans them with its wings, and so keeps them in a profound slumber, from which the probabilities are that they will never wake. And what other are they who lull the souls of sinful men to the sleep of death by "saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace?" No greater crime can be imagined than this of which our text tells. The physician who should pamper a man in his disease, who should feed his cancer or inject continual poison into the system, whilst at the same time he promised sound health and a long life, - such a physician would not be one-half so criminal as the professed religious teacher who should knowingly bid those entrusted to his charge to be at ease and to take comfort, when he ought to be crying, "Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion!" The pilot who should pretend to steer a ship toward its proper haven, but all the while was of intent driving her upon unseen rocks, would not be a worse traitor than the man into whose hands the helm of human souls is entrusted, and whose professed duty it is to steer them towards Christ, but who, instead of so doing, was guiding them to utter ruin, by flattering them that all was welt when all was ill. In the great day, when all shall render up their account to God, what awfulness of doom will not be reserved for him who has been chargeable with blood-guiltiness like this? We observe -
I. THAT IT IS AN ALL TOO FREQUENT SIN.
1. The prophets of Judah and Jerusalem were guilty of it, notwithstanding that
(1) they knew the truth;
(2) they professed the truth;
(3) they were ordained to teach the truth.
Still, out of all manner of evil motive they were guilty of this sin. Oh, let all who teach, whether in the pulpit, the home circle, or in the school, remember that their sacred charge and duty may not merely be imperfectly fulfilled - that it ever is; nor even neglected merely, sad as that is; but it may be utterly perverted, and that which was designed to be for our own and others' great good may become the means of our and their more terrible condemnation. From this may God save teachers and taught alike!
2. And there are now those who are bidding men be at peace when there is no peace.
(1) They who bid men be at peace on the ground of their moral integrity, their respectability of character, and of the righteousness with which they are credited amongst their fellow-men. God forbid that we should decry or depreciate the value of character, reputation, and integrity amongst men. go, indeed; but all the same we feel that it is a plea all too feeble, and one that cannot avail such as we are before the bar of the all-holy God.
(2) They who teach men to trust in sacraments or Church ordinances of any kind. These, too, are precious in their proper place, but regarded as a valid claim to eternal life, apart from the disposition of the heart Godwards, they will save no man, and he who trusts them or teaches others to trust them, is guilty of saying, "Peace, peace," etc.
(3) They who rely on a faith which is fruitless in love to God and man. This is the characteristic of all forms of Antinomianism, and though that be "a way which seemeth right unto many men, the end thereof is death."
3. But let us remember that we may practically be preaching this fatal peace. Christian men and women, who do nothing for the salvation of those around you; who are eager about amusements, business, worldly position, and all such things, but who are unmoved or but very little moved at the ungodliness in the midst of which you live; what is the conclusion that others draw from this unconcern? Why, that you don't believe what you profess, and that therefore they need not either. And so you encourage them to say, "Peace, peace," etc. Whose conscience is there that does not smite him here? and who of us is there that has no need of the prayer, "Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation?" And all who are unconcerned about their own eternal welfare. Fathers and mothers who have not sought the Lord, you will die in your sins if you repeat not; but you will die not to yourselves merely; you will drag your children down with you, for you are teaching them to be unconcerned and indifferent, when neither you nor they possess any true peace at all.
4. But after all, those who are the most guilty of saying, "Peace, peace," etc., are sinful men to themselves. The devil taught men the way very early in the history of our race. "Ye shall not surely die;" so he lyingly declared to our first mother, and she, all too willing to believe that there would be peace though she did disobey God, ruined herself, her husband, and all her children by that one deed. And ever since men who love to disobey have encouraged themselves in their sin by this fatal flattery of their souls of which our text tells. They did so in the days of Noah," until the flood came and took them all away." See also Belshazzar's feast at the height of merriment, when the handwriting appeared on the wall, and that night Babylon was taken and her king slain. So has it been with the Jewish people - in Jeremiah's time, and so in our Lord's. The Captivity shattered that first false peace, and the utter destruction of Jerusalem the second. And we are told it will be so at the last, in that "day when the Son of man cometh." Observe, then, some of the deceits whereby men beguile themselves into saying, "Peace, peace," etc. They are such as these:
(1) The infinite mercy of God.
(2) "I am no worse than those who make a religious profession. If they are saved, I shall be too."
(3) "Yes, I am going to repent and turn to God; I certainly mean to one day."
(4) Religious profession: "I am baptized and take the sacrament."
(5) Denying the truth of the Bible: "I have no proof that there is a God, a heaven, or indeed that I have a soul. It is all a ' perhaps; '"so men say. And there are many other such deceits. But now -
II. NOTE HOW THE LIE THAT IS IN ALL SUCK SAYING OF "PEACE, PEACE," ETC., MAY BE DETECTED. A man may hold up a phial of liquid that is colorless, clear, - sparkling, that seems in all respects like pure, wholesome water. But the skilled chemist drops into it the fitting test, and at once the poisonous substance is precipitated, and thus is made evident to all. Now, with all these deceits of which we have been telling, their true nature may be made manifest if we apply those tests which only the true peace of God will endure. For, if the peace in which we are trusting be a true one and not a deception, it will:
1. Always tend to the making of us holier, purer, more Christ-like. God's peace always does this. It "keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus," it "rules" in our hearts.
2. Stand under the hardest blows of misfortune and earthly sorrow. Listen to its voice: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him;" "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord." Now, will peace such as springs from such sources as those told of help a man in straits like those of Job?
3. Be with him in death.
III. SAFEGUARD IS NOT IN OUR BEING ABLE TO DETECT THE FALSE PEACE, BUT IN POSSESSING THE TRUE. That is ours when we surrender our souls to Christ. Then we shall have peace indeed.
(1) Peace from fear of God's condemnation;
(2) peace from dread of guilt;
(3) peace from the tyranny and oppression of "the evil one;"
(4) peace from the crushing power of earthly sorrow;
(5) peace from the terror of the grave and the judgment day;
(6) peace in the conscious possession of the love of God.
Such is the true "peace of God." Oh, how foolish, then, to barter that for the false and fatal pretences of peace which are forever beguiling the hearts of sinful men! May he who is "our Peace," even Christ, cause us to give heed to his own loving call, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!" - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace.