How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.…
I. THE OUTWARD SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL DECLENSION.
1. Love to Christ growing cold. We are all, more or less, amenable to the sympathy of numbers, the force of association; and where the majority are carnal, it is more difficult for the few to continue spiritual. The same danger reaches the Church by another route, namely, when there is an extensive profession of godliness, whether in its forms or phrases.
2. A growing inattention to ordinances. The sentiment of a heavenly-minded man is, "Lord, I have loved the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thine honour dwelleth." There is a love of places, as well as of persons and performances, because of their Divine associations.
3. Niggard and abridged seasons of personal devotion.
4. An easy satisfaction with present attainments. Increase is the condition of success; there is no stagnation in the waters that Christ shall give us; they are either "springing up," or else "the light that is in us is becoming darkness"
5. Religious gossiping. By this is meant a proneness to converse about the accidents, rather than the essence of Christianity. Not that other subjects than religion are excluded from their turn of necessary attention, but when every subject but that wakes an echo of interest, and challenges a general interchange of sentiment and experience, can they be loyal Christians who have nothing to say for Christ?
6. Decreasing sensitiveness of conscience. When men allow themselves in habits of conformity to the world from which they once shrunk, it is not that the world is better, but they worse.
7. Diminished zeal for the glory of God.
II. SOME INWARD SIGNS OF WHICH THE INDIVIDUAL ALONE IS CONSCIOUS.
1. The cessation of secret prayer. The habit has perhaps not wholly ceased, but it is carelessly, cursorily dealt with. There is a shrinking from personal details in communion with God.
2. The neglect of the Bible as a devotional book. If our Bibles cease to be necessary, nay, delightsome to us, there is an internal evidence of decaying grace, which must be looked to, or the devotional neglect of the Book will proceed to the neglect of its Author. Other religious influences will begin to fail, the gold will become too dim to reflect a solitary star of heaven on the shipwreck of our faith, and the fine gold so changed as to be no longer recognised for a precious metal
3. The spirit in which ordinances are entered upon. If the sanctuary be entered without previous prayer, and we should leave it as we entered, we asked nothing, and at least we have what we asked for. If we visit God's house without a settled purpose to honour Him, and only to patronise His minister, as some imagine, we cannot expect to meet Him; for that blessing is limited to them who meet together in His name, not in their own, or some other name.
4. What St. Paul calls "the root of bitterness springing up, whereby many are defiled." The root is concealed under the soil, and its existence is betrayed only by the sucker and the sprout starting from beneath, and indicative of a bad energy at work. Such a sucker robs the sap from the tree, bears no fruit itself, and detracts from the fruitfulness of the other branches. But the image is stronger than this: its metaphor indicates a man bad in doctrine and morals infecting by his evil influence the community of which he is a member.
5. Self-interest, — a tendency to look at what is supposed to become our station, rather than what "becometh saints," as the elect of God.
(J. B. Owen, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! the stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street.