That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD:…
The Jews have very many followers under the Christian dispensation.
I. STATE THE TRUTHS WHICH ARE USUALLY OBNOXIOUS TO SUCH PERSONS. There are many doctrines to which every faithful preacher of God's Word feels bound to give ample room in his stated ministry, that are by no means welcome to many of his hearers; such, for instance, as the spirituality and unbending strictness of the Divine law, the deep depravity of human nature, the exceeding sinfulness of man's conduct, the universal necessity of regeneration, the inefficacy of works for justification, and the indispensable obligation to a separation from the world. The Scriptures, not only of the Old Testament, but of the New, abound with the most appalling descriptions of the Divine displeasure against sin. It is a striking fact, that He who was love incarnate — who was named Jesus, because He was to be the Saviour of His people — delivered, during the course of His personal ministry, more fearful descriptions of Divine justice and the punishment of the wicked, than are to be found in any other part of the Word of God. No man can fulfil his ministry, therefore, without frequently alluding to the justice of God in the punishment of sin. But such a subject frequently calm up all the enmity of the carnal mind.
II. THE CAUSES TO WHICH WE MUST TRACE THIS DISLIKE OF MINISTERIAL FIDELITY, and this love of smooth and delusive preaching.
1. In some cases it is occasioned by absolute unbelief. Multitudes who admit in gross the authority of the Bible, deny it in detail.
2. The refinements of modern society and taste lead many to ask for smooth things. There is no respect of persons with God; before Him the distinctions of society have no place.
3. Wounded pride is with some the cause of a dislike of faithful preaching. They hate the doctrine which disturbs their self-complacency, and revile the man who attempts to sink them in their own esteem.
4. But in by far the greater number of instances, this dislike of the truth, and this love of smooth things, is the result of painful forebodings of future misery.
III. THE FOLLY, THE SIN, AND THE DANGER OF A DESIRE TO SUPPRESS THE FAITHFUL VOICE OF TRUTH, and to be flattered with the soothing language of deceit.
1. Its folly is apparent from the consideration that no concealment of the situation of the sinner can alter his condition in the sight of God, or change the relation in which he stands to eternity.
2. The sin of this disposition is equal to its folly. It is sinful alike in its origin, its nature, and its consequences. Why does a person wish to have a false representation of his state? For this one reason, that as he is determined to go on in sin, he may be left to sin with less reluctance and remorse. As it is sinful in its origin, it is manifestly so in its nature, for it is the love of falsehood; a desire to confound the distinction between sin and holiness. Nor is this all; in aiming to suppress the voice of warning and the note of alarm, he acts the part of that infatuated and cruel wretch, who would bribe the sentinel to be silent when the foe is about to rush, sword in hand, into the camp; or would seduce the watchman to be quiet, when the fire had broken out at midnight, and was raging through the city. For thus saith the Lord, "O son of man, I have set thee a watchman over the house of Israel," etc. (Ezekiel 33:7, 8).
3. The danger of such a disposition to the individual himself, is as great as its sin and its folly. The man who is unwilling to hear of approaching misery, is not likely to use any means by which it may be averted.By way of APPLICATION I infer, how great are the importance, responsibility, and difficulty which attach to the ministerial office, and how anxious should those be who sustain it, to discharge its duties with uncompromising fidelity.
1. The conversion of sinners should be the leading object of every minister of Christ.
2. This must be sought by suitable means. The means for awakening the unconverted are, of course, various. What might be called the alarming style of preaching is most adapted to convert the impenitent.
3. Ministers are under a great temptation to preach smooth things, and to shrink from what may emphatically be called the burden of the Lord. A false charity leads them, in some instances, to be unwilling to disturb the peace or distress the feelings of their hearers; or, perhaps, there are some in their congregation who may feel an objection to what they contemptuously call the harrowing style. But most of all are those in danger of compromising their duty, who are appointed to minister to well educated and wealthy audiences.
4. A word of admonition is here needed for professing Christians. Are there not many who are dissatisfied with everything but words of comfort and statements of privilege? They object to everything of a searching and practical tendency.
(J. A. James.)
Parallel VersesKJV: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: