I. DIVINE JUSTICE MAKES USE OF HUMAN AGENCIES OF RETRIBUTION, OFTEN THEMSELVES UNCONSCIOUS OF THE PURPOSES FOR WHICH THEY ARE EMPLOYED. The King of Babylon was appointed as the minister of righteous avenging upon both Judah and Ammon. Unawares to himself, he, in his military operations, was carrying out the predictions of God's prophets, and the decree of God himself. Infinite wisdom is never at a loss for means by which to bring to pass its own counsels and resolves.
II. DIVINE JUSTICE PUNISHES THE PRIVILEGED WHO ARE UNFAITHFUL TO THEIR PRIVILEGES AS WELL AS THOSE WHOSE PRIVILEGES HAVE NOT BEEN EXCEPTIONAL. Although the descendants of Abraham were selected from among the nations for a special purpose connected with God's plans for the moral government of the world, they were not thereby released from their righteous obligations, or from liability to punishment in case those obligations were repudiated. Israel's election did not secure exemption from the consequences of defection and rebellion. Rather was the guilt of the nation deemed to be aggravated by their neglect to use aright the many advantages with which they were favoured. On the other hand, the Ammonites were not secured against righteous retribution merely because they were less highly privileged than Israel. They had a measure of light, and they were responsible for walking in the light they enjoyed; and if they loved darkness rather than light, they secured their own condemnation.
III. DIVINE JUSTICE DECIDES WHICH GUILTY NATION SHALL BE CORRECTED, AND WHICH SHALL BE DESTROYED. Into the secret counsels of God it is not given us to enter. Facts are before us; and we see that, according to this prophecy, Ammon was committed as fuel to the fire, and was no more remembered; that the very name of the Ammonites vanished out of human history; and we see that the Jewish people survived, and were brought forth from the furnace into which they were cast. We can only apply to these facts our faith in the Divine righteousness, and hold fast by our conviction that in this, as in all his dealings with men, the Eternal Ruler has acted upon principles of unquestionable equity.
IV. DIVINE JUSTICE SUMMONS SINFUL NATIONS TO REPENTANCE AND NEWNESS OF LIFE. These predictions and their fulfilment in history have been recorded for our instruction. What we read in Scripture is fitted to deepen within our nature the conviction that this world is under the righteous government of God. And we shall be foolish indeed if we do not infer from this fact the necessity of repentance and of renewal; if we are not led to welcome the assurance that for the penitent there is mercy, and for the lowly, life. - 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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