I. THE SWORD IS THE IMPLEMENT OF HUMAN AMBITION AND VENGEANCE.
II. THE SWORD IS THE WEAPON OF DIVINE RETRIBUTION UPON THE NATIONS. Whilst it is unquestionable that wars and fightings come from human lusts, it is to the religious man, to the student of Scripture, equally plain that a Divine Providence overrules all the conflicts of the nations to accomplish wise purposes, and even purposes of. benevolence. The Assyrian power directed its forces against the land of Israel, under the influence, doubtless, of human passions and purposes by which those passions were suggested. But Assyria, Egypt, Persia, and Rome were pewees which the God of Israel employed to bring about the ends fixed upon by his own wisdom and faithfulness. As an instrument by which punishment was inflicted upon the idolatrous and rebellious, the sword was not only the sword of Nebuchadnezzar, but the sword of the Lord of hosts.
III. THE SWORD IS A SUMMONS TO HUMILIATION AND REPENTANCE. Ezekiel himself evidently regarded it in this light. He was directed to cry and howl, to smite upon his thigh, to smite his bands together, when he beheld in vision the weapon which was about to chastise his rebellious countrymen. There are minds which need to face the consequences of sin in order that they may admit the awfulness of sin itself. When the displeasure of the Almighty is revealed against the iniquities of men, they are sometimes roused to reflection and inquiry, and so it may be to repentance.
IV. THE SWORD IS THE SYMBOL OF THE POWER BY WHICH SIN IS SLAIN. The sons of Israel were not alone in the practice of sin, in ingratitude, and disobedience. Men in every age and in every place are found guilty of rebellion against the holy and. righteous God. Well is it when they turn against their own sins the edge of the spiritual sword, when they attack their vices, their follies, their crimes, as the enemies of God, and, by slaying with the Divine weapon the rebellious forces, avoid the otherwise inevitable judgment and retribution which overtake the impenitent. - T.
I. THY NATURE OF RELIGIOUS DECISION.
Go thee one way or other, either on the right hand or on the left, whithersoever thy face is set.I. — THE NATURE OF RELIGIOUS DECISION. In general terms, this may be said to be an inflexible regard for the will and honour of God — a firm adherence under all circumstances to that course of duty which He has commanded, and a personal dedication of the heart and soul to His service.
1. Religious decision is founded on a special regard to the will of God. In this respect it differs from a native or innate decision of character, which is simply a following the bias of the mind.
2. Religious decision is exercised in regard to matters of real importance. In matters of trivial concern. Christian decision may be yielding. It is always candid. It shows due respect for the feelings and preferences of others.
3. True religious decision will never be anxious about consequences. In obeying the clear injunctions of conscience and of God, it is prepared to leave events in His hands who has required the sacrifice.
4. True Christian decision is uniform and unqualified. The man of decided principle will not admit the thought of a compromise with sin or with error.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF RELIGIOUS DECISION.
1. It is important as a matter of Christian consistency.
2. Religious decision is a satisfactory test of Christian character.
3. Christian decision is important, as a means of securing the respect and confidence of mankind. Men may think you needlessly precise, they may even suspect the purity of your motives, but they will admire the conduct that agrees with the profession.
4. Our usefulness is greatly involved in religious decision. The Great Head of the Church does not select for the execution of His grandest plans the timid, the hesitating, the wavering. No. He employs those to whom "He has not given the spirit of fear; but of power, of love, and of a sound mind."
1. It is founded on a special regard to the Word of God.
2. It is exercised in matters that are religious.
3. It spurns all considerations of consequences.
4. It acts uniformly and undeviatingly.
II. ITS IMPORTANCE.
1. As an index of Christian consistency.
2. As a test of personal Christianity.
3. As a passport to general confidence.
4. As an element of usefulness.
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