Hosea 4:6
Priests and people were guilty alike, and would be overtaken by one common doom.

I. THE SIN OF THE PRIESTS.

1. They rejected the knowledge of God (ver. 6). They did not engage in the study of the Divine Law, and their lives were a violation of its precepts.

2. They consequently failed to teach the Law to the people (ver. 6).

3. They connived at the national idolatry, on account of the material profit which they obtained from it (ver. 8). The calf-worship brought them many sacrificial fees; so the priests, instead of rebuking the iniquity, "set their heart" upon its continuance.

II. THE SIN OF THE PEOPLE.

1. They willfully forgot the Law of God (ver. 6).

2. The more prosperous they became externally, the more grievously they sinned (ver. 7).

3. They addicted themselves to idolatrous divination, using sometimes teraphim, and sometimes divining rods (ver. 12). In worshipping wooden gods, they showed themselves to be at once wooden-headed and wooden-hearted (Psalm 115:8).

4. They practiced the sensual rites of nature-worship with the temple prostitutes of Ashtaroth, and even were so shameless as sometimes to appear with them at the altar (vers. 13, 14). Impurity in one's religion is often joined with uncleanness of body.

III. THE DOOM THREATENED UPON BOTH. (Ver. 9.)

1. The priests and their sons would be deprived of their office, and the people would lose their high prerogative of being a priestly nation (ver. 6).

2. The glory of the kingdom would be turned into shame by reason of the loss of the numbers, wealth, and power in which they gloried (ver. 7).

3. Their sin would also become its own punishment (vers. 10, 11). The Lord would cause them to "eat of the fruit of their own way." The result would be surfeit, not satisfaction. Their sin would be their torment.

4. God would "give them up to vile affections;" he weald cease to correct them for their idolatry and licentiousness, and thus visit them with reprobation (ver. 14).

CONCLUSION. Ver. 11 contains the solemn statement of a great moral truth respecting all sin, and which is specially applicable to sins of sensuality. Who can place confidence in the moral judgments of an adulterer or a fornicator? How sad when such men occupy positions of influence in Church or state!

"Beware of lust; it doth pollute and foul
Whom God in baptism washed with his own blood:
It blots thy lesson written in thy soul;
The holy lines cannot be understood.
How dare those eyes upon a Bible look,
Much less towards God, whose lust is all their book!"


(George Herbert.) C.J.







My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
If there is a knowledge on which not only the improvements and the refinements but the very being of society depends, the state of this must be in its nature most deeply awful and interesting. It was the language of pagan philosophy that such a knowledge did exist. The heathen wisdom was enabled to discern that all science, as exercised in its inferior provinces, required some principle of a sublimer nature, which might afford cement, consistence, and basis to every subordinate effort and exertion of the human intellect. In exploring this principle they however failed — and instead of substantial truth, were lost in the delusive twilight of a magnificent though ineffectual and perpetually baffled metaphysical speculation. Those on whom the daystar of revelation arose, found in the distinct discovery of a moral Governor of the universe, and the full and unequivocal display of His attributes, that knowledge which marks the origin, the limits, and the destination of every faculty, talent, and acquisition. When God tells us there is a knowledge "for the lack of which a people is destroyed," we must infer that it is the "knowledge of Himself, His nature, His providence, and His power. If it be true that "knowledge and wisdom are the stability of prosperous times," the converse will equally claim our attention. Inquire into the moral causes of both these propositions. It is not my intention to institute a regular comparison between the various acquisitions and exertions of ourselves and our predecessors. I mark those intellectual habits which interfere with the cultivation of that knowledge which directs, superintends, and sanctifies every portion of wisdom we can acquire. Whatever was the region of science which our predecessors explored, they steadily kept in view the great Source of every good and perfect gift. And this not only in theology proper, but also in history, moral science, and natural philosophy. Every work was in some measure a school of Divine knowledge. Now it is rarely indeed that, except in works directly treating of theology, any pious reference, even when the subject most points to it, is made to the dispensation and moral government of Almighty God. To a variety of causes this may be traced; to none more than to pride, or to its abortion, vanity. This engenders a fondness for paradox, than which nothing can be a greater obstruction to all knowledge, and particularly to the knowledge of God and His dispensations. All paradox, even in its most ingenious forms, is mere debility, and in no instance a mark of energy or strength of mind. It is observable that, in proportion to the love for this, the intellectual appetite is palled and vitiated for the perception and investigation of genuine truth. Hence those mischievous abstractions, which when introduced into religion, morals, and politics have, from causes comparatively mean, produced the most extended and tremendous effects. In a short time there will (we have reason to fear) remain but two kinds of persons among us, either those who think not at all, or those whose imaginations are active indeed, but continually evil. Of these latter it may be said, "Their foolish heart was darkened." Of the principles, I do not say of the detail, of political science, a sound theology is the only sure and steady basis. Now we trace the operations by which a destruction so extended in its consequences has been effected. The master-spring of every principle which can permanently secure the stability of a people is the fear and knowledge of Almighty God. The first operation of a principle of atheism, and perhaps one of the most formidable in its consequences, is that which leads political men to conceive of Christianity as a mere auxiliary to the State. Religion was not instituted (in the Divine council I mean) for the purpose of society and government, but society and government for the purposes of religion. As atheism presumptuously attempts to discard a moral government, in order to open a fearless unrestrained indulgence for the impetuosity of passion, so superstition administers, upon a principle of commutation, to those same indulgences. It is utterly subversive of the two grand pillars of the Divine administration, His justice and His mercy. Thus both atheism and superstition are instruments of the general adversary of mankind. Their origin is in the wilful ignorance of God, and their operation in the merciless destruction of His creatures. The present disastrous state of human affairs can only be ascribed to one source, a corruption of morals, produced by a previous depravation of the opinions of mankind. If the events we deplore and deprecate arise from ignorance, error, and false opinion; and this ignorance is specifically the ignorance of Almighty God and His dispensations, to revive and disseminate with activity the principles of a sound, Christian, and orthodox theology will be our best interest, as it is our bounden duty.

(T. Rennell, D. D.)

Here made responsible for the ignorance of the people.

1. As ignorance is a very rife and destroying sin in the visible Church, so the guilt thereof doth ofttimes lie in great part at preachers' doors.

2. Such as would be able to teach others, ought to take much pains that they may be instructed themselves from God in His Word.

3. The more familiar occasion of converse men have with holy things, wanting holiness, their contempt and dislike of them will be the greater, and their opposition to light have the more perversity and the less infirmity in it.

4. Such as do for a time reject and resist means of knowledge, may at last come to lose the light they had.

5. The more relation any pretend to God, by virtue of their general or particular calling, the Lord will make use thereof to aggravate their sin and unanswerable walking.

6. Unfaithfulness in offices will cast men out of the Church, as unsavoury salt is cast out, which is a sad judgment.

7. It is a righteous judgment on unfaithful ministers that God suffers their posterity to be neglected.

(George Hutcheson.)

As if he had said, If they had the knowledge of God, they might have prevented all this, but they were ignorant and sottish people, and this was the forerunner of misery and destruction. The heathens were wont to say that if their god Jupiter would destroy one, he would first besot him; so these people were first besotted and then destroyed. Ignorance is not the mother of devotion, but rather the father and mother too of destruction. In the beginning of this chapter we have the sin of ignorance set forth, here we have its danger. There we had the charge, that they had "no knowledge in the land"; here we have the judgment, that they "are destroyed for want of knowledge." Ignorance is not only the deformity of the soul as blindness is the deformity of the face; though a man or woman have never such a comely face otherwise, yet if they be blind, or have but one eye, it mars their beauty; so ignorance takes away the beauty of the soul; and not only so, but is dangerous and destructive, and that in these respects —

1. The rational creature is very active of itself, and will always be in motion, always working. Then, wanting knowledge, and surrounded by pits and snares, how dangerous is his situation!

2. Man's way is for eternity, and there is but one way that leads to an eternity of happiness, and that lies in the midst of a hundred crossways and bypaths. If he have not light, if he want knowledge, what is to become of him?

3. Man is not only going onward through dangers and byways, but he must go on with his own light. The soul that is ignorant no angel in heaven can help, except as an instrument of God to bring sight into his eyes.

4. The work we are to do about our souls and eternal estates is the most curious and most difficult piece of work, and we must do it by our own light.

5. Blindness in this world makes men objects of pity and compassion, but this ignorance and blindness make men to be the objects of the hatred and curse of God. God gave us light at first, we have brought ignorance upon ourselves.

(Jeremiah Burroughs.)

The tide of human affairs is ever throwing up upon the surface of society some one particular subject of special and engrossing interest. One of the prominent subjects of our time is education. It has been forced on the minds of thoughtful men by the lamentable results of allowing an exuberant population to outgrow the means of their moral and religious training, bequeathed by the wisdom and piety of their forefathers. Hosea the prophet was commissioned to denounce God's just displeasure, and His determination to inflict punishment upon a people that refused to be reformed. God had a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there was no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. It is a serious question how far such language may befit ourselves. It is certain that there is a fearful lack of "knowledge of God" in our times.

I. WHAT IS THE KNOWLEDGE, THE LACK OF WHICH DESTROYS A PEOPLE? The question is analogous to another, What is education? Are we agreed among ourselves as to what is to be understood by this expression? There is a class of men whose ideas of knowledge and education are almost confined to the acquisition and communication of the facts and principles of physical and general science. Education, in their estimation, is training up the young to be in mature life well-informed and philosophical men: men who can keep pace with and help on the forward movements of an inquiring and intellectual age. But this is not knowledge, in the true and full sense of the term, neither is this education. We are still short of the truth if we define knowledge to be acquaintance with duties as well as facts, with the world within a man, as well as the world without him; and education to be a process of training for the moral as well as the intellectual part of man, the discipline of the will as well as that of the mind. This is well as far as it goes; but it is not the whole truth. It is indeed based upon a false principle, that the inculcation of moral truths, and cultivation of moral habits will suffice to regulate and control the heart and will of man. It dreams of a moral regeneration without an adequate regenerating principle, of moral obedience without a sufficiently constraining motive. It assumes that a man may be lifted up above the influence of evil by presenting to his mind the cold abstraction of goodness. The advocates of these moral systems are ignorant of the materials upon which they would work. They do not know the nature of man. They forget that he is corrupt and depraved. The moral sense of man is so beclouded by sin that to behold the beauty of virtue is neither to love nor to embrace it. Education, in its primary idea, is the knowledge of God in His relation to man: the communication of this knowledge to the heart, through the medium of the understanding. Education is training as well as teaching. It teaches moral duties based upon the knowledge of God as a reconciled Father in Christ Jesus. Education is worthless when severed from religion. Lay the foundation deeply in the principles of true religion, and you may then proceed to build up a goodly superstructure of all that is worthy of the name of useful knowledge.

II. THE ANXIOUS CONDITIONS OF SOCIETY ARE EXPLAINED BY THE LACK OF THIS KNOWLEDGE. Reflecting minds have serious thoughts upon the present aspect of our domestic national affairs. We have been appalled by the frightful statistics of ignorance and vice, of the mass of corruption fermenting amidst our overgrown population. While the prodigious multiplication of human beings has been advancing, there has been no corresponding multiplication cf appliances for the moral and religious training of their souls, either as children or adults. Can it be wondered at that irreligion and infidelity, and principles of anarchy and insubordination, and vice in some of its most revolting forms have overspread these densely peopled districts? We cannot shut our eyes to what is going on around us. A population has grown up unlearned in true knowledge. The demoralising process is going on. It is a self-propagating evil. One uneducated generation begets another, and probably a worse. Our fathers did much for national education, according to the exigencies of their own times. We must follow along their line in this, that religion entered, as a component element, into all their foundations.

(W. Nicholson, M. A.)

I. THE PERSONS. "My people." A frequent designation of the Israelitish people. Jehovah was emphatically to them a God, and they were emphatically to Him a people. But is God's greatest goodness to Israel to be compared with the civil and religious privileges with which He has distinguished this favoured country? There is a tendency in nations as well as in individuals to be rendered careless and secure by the long possession of privileges and advantages. And the history of Israel is intended to teach a lesson of national warning.

II. THEIR CONDITION. "My people are destroyed." Notwithstanding all God's favour towards them, yet He abandoned them to desolation, He gave them over to destruction. And what ground of security has Britain any more than Israel, except in the favour and protection of God? It is impossible for any reflecting person to consider the internal state of our country without feeling that we have within ourselves the elements of destruction, the materials for a wide-wasting desolation.

III. THE CAUSE OF THAT CONDITION. "For lack of knowledge." Lack of the knowledge of God and religion. This was God's ground of complaint, and for this He entered into judgment with them. This lack of knowledge was accompanied and followed by a general corruption of morals, as the next words to our text show. When the corruption became general, and the fruit, of this religious ignorance were ripe, God thrust in the sharp sickle of His judgments, and reaped the harvest in His wrath. Observe then the bearing which the state of the collective body of the people as to religious knowledge must have upon the question of national safety and national ruin. If there be a lack of the knowledge of God and His truth in the bulk of the people, the destruction of the nation will be inevitable. And if ruin come upon any land, who are the sufferers? If the body be crushed by a fall, which of the members will escape the anguish? Hence the state of the people is the concern of all. God has bound all classes in one common bond of interest: all must rejoice, or all must suffer together. What then is the state of our population with respect to religious knowledge? And what must be the end of these things?

(Thomas Best, M. A.)

God here attacks the priests, but includes the whole people. For teaching prevailed not among them, as it ought to have done. The Lord reproaches the Israelites for their ingratitude, seeing He had kindled among them the light of celestial wisdom. How did the Israelites perish through ignorance? They closed their eyes against the celestial light, because they deigned not to become teachable, so as to learn the wisdom of the eternal Father. We see the guilt of the people in that they had malignantly suppressed the teaching of the law. The people perished without knowledge, because they would perish.

( John Calvin.)

I. THE STATEMENT OF THE TEXT IS NO EXAGGERATION. Look at the Jewish nation. The whole nation was a school, and the law was their schoolmaster to bring them to Christ. But it failed — utterly failed — to accomplish this. The enmity of the human heart came out amongst the Jewish people.

II. SOME OF THE ENDEAVOURS MEN MAKE TO RECTIFY EXISTING EVILS. Emphatically this is an age of progress; of progress in many things that have rendered man wiser, and the world happier. Philosophy takes a higher range of thought. Literature is nobler and healthier in its tone. Art is purer than Grecian art. Science is not atheistic. Many run to and fro, and knowledge is multiplied. We recognise this progress thankfully; it is all good, though not the highest good. It is all capable of being turned to spiritual advantage. But by it society is not regenerated: there arc social questions of the deepest importance that are not yet settled. There are forms of ignorance most appalling, developments of ignorance most deplorable, and a general spirit of scepticism widely spread. Man has done, and is doing, his very utmost to set the world right, and yet the world continues wrong.

III. THE GOSPEL ANNOUNCES ITSELF AS SUFFICIENT TO MEET AND TO REMOVE ALL THE MISERIES OF HUMANITY.

1. It is this which distinguishes the Gospel from all other schemes. Many things are palliatives, but you can find nothing that pretends to do all the work that man requires to have done for him but the Gospel. Then indifference to the Gospel is the most fearful proof that could be presented to the mind of my voluntary ignorance and sin.

2. We may with confidence say that the Gospel not only professes to do this but has done all this. It has proved itself the great salvation.

(W. G. Barrett.)

Homilist.
I. IT IS DESTRUCTIVE. It is not the mother of devotion, it is the mother of destruction.

1. What does it destroy? The growth of the soul in power, beauty, and fruitfulness.

2. How does it destroy? How can the lack of a thing destroy? The lack of heat and moisture will kill the vegetable kingdom; the lack of air will cause the extinction of all animal life. The soul without knowledge of God is like a plant without heat or moisture, an animal without the salubrious breeze.

II. IT IS WILFUL. No culpability in a man being ignorant of some things. The knowledge of God comes to him whether he will or not. In nature, in reason, in intuitions of his moral being. Ignorance of God is a criminal ignorance.

III. IT IS GOD-OFFENDING. He deals out retribution —

1. To themselves.

2. To their children.It is a Divine law springing from the constitution of society, that the iniquities of the fathers shall be visited on their children.

(Homilist.)

Skeletons of Sermons.
Ignorance disqualifies a man for those situations in life that require the exercise of wisdom and discretion: it degrades him in society below the rank of those who would otherwise be deemed his equals or inferiors; and it not unfrequently leads to idleness, dissipation, and vice. But ignorance of religion is of infinitely worse consequence, because it ensures the everlasting destruction of the soul.

I. THE IGNORANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN WORLD. Among nominal Christians there is a great lack of knowledge: an ignorance —

1. Of themselves. Of their blindness, guilt, depravity, helplessness.

2. Of God. Of His holiness, justice, truth.

3. Of Christ. They may confess His Godhead, and acknowledge Him as a Saviour. But what do they know of Him as He is in Himself, or as He is to us?

II. THE FATAL CONSEQUENCES OF THIS IGNORANCE. Lack of spiritual knowledge —

1. Tends to men's destruction.

2. Will issue in their destruction.Infer —

1. How carefully should we improve the means of grace,

2. How earnestly should we pray for the teachings of God's Spirit.

3. How thankful we should be for any measure of Divine knowledge.

(Skeletons of Sermons.)

Neither wealth nor political forms of government give knowledge to a people. They may give them, or obtain for them, technical information in most things, but they do not give that know ledge which is the height of wisdom — that knowledge which will guide a man aright in his intercourse with the world. On the contrary, a continuously changing government and an accumulation of wealth have a great tendency to demoralise a nation, and to retard, rather than to foster, the knowledge of that which is righteous and true. As it was in the early ages, so it has continued through the various nations which have existed upon the earth down to the present time; and the Jewish nation fell under the ordinary laws of social progress when they departed from the directions which were given, and the advice which was offered by God Himself. Even the chosen people of the Almighty fell under the power of the tyrant custom; and notwithstanding their advance in civilisation and wealth, they erred and were "destroyed for lack of knowledge." Why was this? Because the technical information which they obtained from their teachers was not that which would support the actions of their daily life, was not that which would assist in guiding them through the devious windings of the world in which they lived, but had relation merely to the subject which was then in hand, and was of no further avail when once that subject was laid on one side. As a natural consequence of this narrow and superficial training, the minds of the people generally became contracted until they could not see any political or religious question in its proper bearings, or to its whole extent. They saw what related to the question of the hour, and being content with this, they ultimately sank under a despotism of body and mind; for the mind sank and was debased long before the body felt any evil effects from the narrowing of views which had been going on for some time amongst the people. In the time of Hosea the people were wandering to and fro from lack of knowledge, and the prejudices of the age were being stirred up for the services of party, instead of being laid aside in the desire to teach the people only that which was true. Prejudice is one of the most difficult things which men have to encounter in their desire to obtain a know ledge of the truth. When once the mind has taken up any opinion it lays hold of it as its own, and follows it out regardless of what may be said by others to the contrary. It considers that which it holds to he the truth; and, as a natural consequence, looks upon the sayings of those who oppose it as absolutely false, and without any legitimate foundation upon which to stand. Nor is it in the ordinary course of events worth while to try and disabuse people of their prejudices. And not only do our prejudices impel us to hold with tenacity that which we have taken up as the truth, but they impel us to dislike and to hate those who may differ from us. A man is truly orthodox when he thinks as we think; but let him differ from us only in one jot or tittle, and then his opinions are at once pronounced to be heterodox, and he himself adjudged as an enemy. There are some conclusions which must be admitted by every reflecting mind as soon as they are presented to it, and they must also be acknowledged as truths the moment they are offered for consideration. When we reflect upon the matter for a moment, it is evident that each one ought" to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the world," because it is clearly an offence against the well-being of society that men should live otherwise. Then let us not be the servants of men, for there is One greater than they. Let us not be the followers of a party, for there is One wiser than it. But let us seek honestly after the truth wherever it may be found; and whilst we hold Augustine as a friend, and Luther and Calvin as friends, — whilst we respect men of every party — let us ever bear in mind that we have a duty to perform far higher than that of clansmen: we have to teach the truth as it is in Jesus, to proclaim His name above that of every other name, and to endeavour above all things to strive manfully to learn and to do that which is right.

(F. T. Swinbourne.)

Both philosophers and divines agree that the first step to true know ledge is a discovery of our own ignorance; all wise men will confess that the more they know the more a modest sense of the narrow limits of their understanding increases. The recovery of true knowledge, with a constant improvement therein ourselves, and the using our utmost endeavours to propagate it among mankind, are some of the most noble and rational ends of our existence. Not. withstanding His severe reproachings and threatenings of Ephraim, how tenderly the Lord expostulates with them! A wilful neglect of true knowledge is represented as the spring of all their provocations and their danger. Ignorance is represented as the occasion of their ruin.

I. THE TITLE GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE WHO ARE EXPOSED TO THIS DESTRUCTION. Still, spite of their sin, they are called "My people." This title may be applied to mankind in general, and in a strict manner to those who are known as the "elect." Here it is applied to the kingdom of the Ten Tribes, under the name Ephraim. Though they had revolted from Him, God still condescends to own His relation to them. And this relation materially aggravates their crimes.

II. WHAT IS THIS KNOWLEDGE WHICH IS OF SUCH IMPORTANCE? Men may be great strangers to philosophy, to human arts, and carnal wisdom, and yet not be involved in that destruction which is certainly connected with the ignorance mentioned in the text. As true religion is the only effectual security of private persons from this ruin, so it is with respect to society. Religious knowledge must be intended in this text.

1. Men might learn much by seriously observing what is presented to their view all round about them; and much more if they would examine their own frame, and reflect on the various warnings of that monitor which is in every breast.

2. It is the knowledge which God has been pleased to reveal, which is chiefly intended here. This was, in Hosea's time, to be found in the books of Moses and the prophets. This is, for us, the knowledge that is conveyed by the Gospel.

III. THE SAD OCCASIONS OF THE WANT OF THIS KNOWLEDGE, ESPECIALLY IN WHAT IS CALLED A LAND OF LIGHT.

1. A thoughtless neglect of those sober reflections to which we are led even by that measure of natural light, which, in the midst of all our depravity, is mercifully continued to us. Observation teaches us what effect negligence will have on our temporal affairs. When men come to divide precious time principally between the cares about the enlargement of their worldly substance, and the various methods their own corruptions will dictate, very little will be left for nobler improvements.

2. The want of the written revelation must Deeds be attended with the most deplorable ignorance. As may be seen in the history of those nations which have wanted this glorious advantage.

3. Ignorance of religion must needs prevail where there is the want of a skilful, faithful, and laborious ministry.

4. A pious education of our youth is another method of cultivating religious knowledge. This foundation must be chiefly laid in family instruction. We have lived to see the day when the impression of religious sentiments on young minds is not only by many laid aside, but such a neglect is defended. It is said to prevent any bar being put to what is called "free thinking." The great neglect of family religion, and the pious example which superiors by the laws of reason are indispensably obliged to set before those under their care, as it has long been complained of, if not soon reformed must bring peril on our Churches and on our land.

5. The growth of ignorance among the poorer sort is a matter of peculiar consequence.

6. Among good men there is too great a neglect of application to Heaven for a blessing on such attempts as are made to promote useful knowledge, and of a dependence on the Spirit of God, who is only able to make them successful.

IV. THE DESTRUCTION WHICH IS THE NATURAL AND SAD CONSEQUENCE OF THIS IGNORANCE. Reference is first to those temporal calamities which befell these people for their sins; or it relates to future temporal calamities which Hosea predicted. But ignorance persisted in exposes public communities to almost every criminal anal dangerous disorder, and in the end brings on national ruin; and it is big with every spiritual as well as temporal mischief to private persons where it prevails. Ignorance of Divine things keeps the conscience under a fatal stupidity, it exposes men to the devices of the old serpent, and to the crafty attempts of every seducer; it exposes us to every kind of error in conduct, and obstructs our usefulness both in public and in private life.

V. THE REMEDIES WHICH SHOULD BE APPLIED TO SO DANGEROUS A DISEASE.

1. We should cheerfully and constantly attend on those advantages Heaven has bestowed on us, that we read and hear, that we inquire and meditate, and watch and pray, as those who are convinced that ignorance has been their ruin, and that happiness in this life is absolutely connected with religious knowledge, and that the lives of our souls depend upon it.

2. We should do all we can to promote the influence of religious knowledge on the minds of others, by the careful instruction of our families, and the support of a well-qualified ministry.

VI. SOME APPLICATIONS CF WHAT HAS BEEN SAID.

1. How deplorable is the state of multitudes among us, who lie under the grossest ignorance.

2. We ought to rejoice in our civil constitution, and to encourage and defend our religious advantages.

(Joseph Stennett, D. D.)

The ungodliness of Israel in Hosea's time was in a great measure to be traced to ignorance of the true God; an ignorance for which they were responsible, because there was the light of God's truth in their land. It was peculiarly sinful, inasmuch as it was ignorance in God's professing people. And the ignorance involved their ruin.

I. THE PRESENT AND FUTURE MISERY OF IGNORANCE OF GOD. No real earthly happiness can be enjoyed where there is ignorance of God. The pleasures of sin are not happiness, though they often pass for it. Nor is the pursuit of happiness, or the acquisition of wealth. Happiness must be sought in a knowledge of, and obedience to, the will and ways of God. Where there is the true knowledge of God, there is no real wretchedness, though there may be much tribulation

II. THAT WHICH AGGRAVATES THE MISERY IS OUR RELATION TO GOD AS HIS PEOPLE.

1. It aggravates their sin, because it is the bounden duty of every man to seek the knowledge of God as the "one thing needful." We are not to wait to have this knowledge forced upon us, we are bound to seek it. If the guilt of God's people who remain in ignorance of Him be aggravated by their relation to Him, so likewise is the guilt of those aggravated who are bound to teach God's people. Civil government stands upon religious grounds, and has religious obligations. The Church is the bulwark of every Christian State.

(W. J. Brodrick, M. A.)

I. THE NECESSARY CONNECTION BETWEEN RELIGION AND EDUCATION. The word "education" suggests the idea of preparing the young for the great duties incumbent on them in the various relations of life; and with a view to this object, includes the communication of knowledge, the inculcation of right principles, and the formation of corresponding habits in those who are thus to be the subjects of it. But what are we to understand by the great duties incumbent upon us in the different relations of life? Some think that the end and purpose of their existence have been met when they have fairly performed their present duties, and honourably met their obligations. But these are practical atheists, for they completely exclude God from any right to the homage of His rational creatures, and reduce man to the degradation and wretchedness of a being who, whatever other heights he may attain, is incapable of rising to the knowledge, the love, the service, and the everlasting enjoyment of his Maker. In opposition to such views, we say, that even reason and conscience, above all the Word of God, declare that man is endowed with a nature that renders him capable of communion with the great, eternal, glorious God; nay, that the advancement of the praise of this God is the very end of his existence; and in pursuing this end he secures present and everlasting happiness. This duty may, however, be acknowledged, and yet the proper principles and conduct attending it may be repudiated. If the former view was practical atheism, this is practical infidelity. Milton says. "The end of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents, by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge to love Him, to imitate Him, to be like Him as we may the nearest, by possessing our souls of true virtue, which, being united to the heavenly grace of faith, makes up the highest perfection." Can Christian training be efficiently, and ought it to be exclusively discharged by parents?

II. THE IMPORTANCE AND ADVANTAGES OF A UNION BETWEEN RELIGION AND EDUCATION. Man was originally framed so as to derive happiness from the knowledge, love, and service of God. It is when the love of God is shed abroad on the heart of fallen man that the different parts of his moral constitution will resume, as it were, their proper place and connection, and that he himself will be enabled to act as he was designed for the glory of God, in all the varied relations in which he stands. When religious knowledge is communicated and made effectual for the conversion of the soul to God, man is under the influence of that principle which will most certainly and with increasing strength constrain him to the discharge of every obligation in regard to God, to himself, and to his fellow-creatures, and thus fit him for the attainment of the great end of his being. Put forth this knowledge in all its bearings, and you will do that which, with the Divine blessing, will enable him to discharge with consistency and perseverance, with honour, comfort, and usefulness, the great duties of life. But how sad, and morally helpless, is the condition of those who are allowed to grow up, not only without a religious education, but without an education of any kind!

(Abercromby L. Gordon.)

Very different and almost opposite things are said of knowledge in the Holy Scriptures. Such may be found in the writings of St. Paul. Following the sound rather than the sense of some of St. Paul's expressions, it has been the fashion with some to decry altogether the value of knowledge, whether on religious or common subjects. What is knowledge? The old definition is, "Knowledge is the firm belief of something true, on sufficient grounds." Belief is necessary, but belief is not enough. Fully testing our knowledge, it may be said that we know almost nothing. In later life we become aware of this, and very painfully. But the charge of ignorance (in the true meaning of that word) may be brought as justly against the so-called enlightenment of this age, as against the less showy pretensions of that which is now gone by. Two or three causes for the lack of real knowledge may be given.

1. The multiplication of outward helps and facilities for learning has a direct tendency to counteract true knowledge. It seems to be a condition of knowledge that it shall not come too easily. Knowledge must be fetched by exertions of our own.

2. A misuse of stimulus in the pursuit of knowledge is an impediment. One reason why many of us do not know mere is that we have made knowledge a means instead of an end — a means of getting distinction. The use of emulation as a stimulus to knowledge is a perilous, though it may be a necessary expedient. Be on your guard, too, against a misuse of a temporary stimulus acting upon parts of your nature which are, by comparison, the lower rather than the higher. Emulation is higher than appetite, but it is lower than that to which manly principle and Christian motive appeal.

3. The effect of light reading upon the acquisition of knowledge truly so called. In the days of our fathers, any one who could read at all would scarcely fail to read with a view to knowledge. The supply of amusement by literature, the command of books as a mere pastime, was then scarcely thought of. Now young people greedily devour fictitious tales till indulgence produces a surfeit. Sometimes an absolute vacancy follows upon excess of such reading. Fiction has two legitimate provinces. It is a salutary relaxation for an overwrought brain. And it may be employed as a study of life. But the knowledge, the lack of which destroys, is the knowledge not of things but of per-sons. It is the acquaintance of soul with soul, and spirit with spirit; the contact of the unseen inmost self of man with the unseen inmost essence of another, even of Him in whom man lives, and whom truly to know is eternal life. What we need is to know God. It is no metaphysical, scarcely even a theological, knowledge you need. It is the knowledge as of a friend.

(C. J. Vaughan, D. D.)

I. IGNORANCE IS DESTRUCTIVE.

1. Destructive of the dignity of man. The faculties of knowledge, reason, judgment, and voluntary determination distinguish us from the beasts that perish, and constitute the true dignity of our nature. But faculties and powers are of little value until they are brought into exercise and directed to their proper objects. Instruction is to man What culture is to the plant. Without it, life is spent in a vacant stupidity, or distracted by irregular imagination and heated passions.

2. Destructive of the usefulness of man. Knowledge constitutes the whole difference betwixt savage and civilised society. To the improvement of the mind all nations have owed the improvement of their condition. Ignorance is the negative of everything good and useful. It not only renders the members of a community useless to each other, it opposes, and frequently triumphs over, all the endeavours of humane and enlightened individuals. The despotism of ignorance is of the most imperious nature. Minds wholly uncultivated are averse to serious thought., and are only conversant with sensible objects. From this springs their aversion to the Gospel; for whoever receives it must become serious and thoughtful.

3. Destructive of virtue. Virtue can no more exist without knowledge, than an animal can exist without life. In proportion as ignorance prevails in society, virtue is destroyed. Ignorant men may possibly be made enthusiasts; they may be made superstitious; but before they can be made rational, steady, and consistent Christians, they must be enlightened. That ignorance is destructive of virtue is proved by facts as well as arguments. Illustration may be taken from the records of heathen nations, and from the history of the Christian Church.

4. Destructive of happiness. There is pleasure in knowledge of a kind more pure and elevated than can possibly be found in any of the gratifications of sense, and for which the latter are but unworthy substitutes. Of the pleasures which spring from knowledge, and especially sacred knowledge, we cannot conceive too highly. To know God, to contemplate the perfections of His nature and the wonders of His hand, to observe His providential regard, to behold the mystery of redemption, the character and undertaking of Jesus, — such subjects, when opened to the mind, not only give pleasure as speculative discoveries and the solutions of distressing doubts, but by awakening virtuous sentiments, kindling an ardent and elevated devotion, producing the present possession of the peace of the Gospel, and the prospect of fulness of joy.

II. TO COUNTERACT THE DESTRUCTIVE EFFECTS OF IGNORANCE IS THE WORK OF HUMANITY. None oppose the communication of knowledge to the lower ranks of society save those who are altogether unreasonable. Special importance attaches to Sunday school. The dissemination of knowledge may be treated as —

1. A work of humanity;

2. Of patriotism;

3. Of virtue.Christianity exhibits a Founder who went about doing good; and His disciples in every age have devoted their time, their talents, their property, their influence to the instruction and blessing of mankind.

(R. Watson.)

Ignorance disqualifies a man for those situations in life that require the exercise of wisdom and discretion: it degrades him in society below the rank of those who would otherwise be deemed his equals or inferiors; and it not infrequently leads to idleness, dissipation, and vice. Ignorance of religion ensures the everlasting destruction of the soul.

I. THE IGNORANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN WORLD.

1. An ignorance of themselves. They know little of their blindness, guilt, depravity, helplessness.

2. Ignorance of God. His holiness, justice, truth.

3. Ignorance of Christ. As He is in Himself. As He is to us.

II. THE FATAL CONSEQUENCES OF IT. The degrees of criminality attached to ignorance vary according to the opportunities men have enjoyed of obtaining knowledge. A lack of spiritual knowledge —

1. Tends to destruction.

2. Will issue in destruction.Then —

(1)How carefully should we improve the means of grace!

(2)How earnestly should we pray for the teachings of God's Spirit!

(3)How thankful should we be for any measure of Divine knowledge!

(C. Simeon, M. A.)

The word used signifies to reject with despite and contempt. Knowledge is rejected in two ways.

1. When the means of knowledge are rejected, then knowledge is rejected.

2. When the directions of our knowledge are rejected, when we refuse to be guided by it, upon this our knowledge decays, and eventually is contemned.

(Jeremiah Burroughs.)

The lack of this knowledge causes people to perish. Knowing God as a Father, Saviour, Sanctifier, gives the soul the consciousness of pardon, life, purity, power — the power of love — that is almost irresistible. Knowledge is power to the inventor, civil engineer, teacher and lawyer. But the knowledge of God is the greatest power. It enables all, even the weakest, to do great things. "Oh, for a knowledge and baptism of power from God. Then everywhere the people that do know God shall do exploits."

(H. W. Bailey.)

Among the Scotch lairds, there is one whose father died in a poorhouse, like a beggar, notwithstanding his possession of the very same riches his heir at present has at his disposal; but he simply did not know how rich he was. Shortly after his decease, rich metallic ore was discovered on the estate; the mines, which were worked at once, gave such returns, that very soon all mortgages and debts could be paid off, and, moreover, put the present owner in possession of a nobleman's fortune. His father possessed no less, but he knew it not. Alas, for how many the blessed Word of God is worth no more than waste paper! Therein are contained the richest promises of fulness of grace, of victory over every enemy, of exceeding glory; but because they do not explore these mines, they live like beggars, who can hardly manage to obtain a morsel of bread.

(A. J. Gordon, D. D.)

I will also forget thy children
The Lord must in some way find our life that He may either reward or chastise it. In this case He will get at the parents through their children. He would not have done this if there had been any other way into their rebellious and obdurate hearts. We must leave Him to explain Himself in reference to the children; He will do that which is right and merciful; we need not plague ourselves about that aspect of mystery; rather let us fasten attention upon the fact that God means for our good to get at our souls somehow. He will try all the gates, and even if He has to break down the child-gate He will come in. That is the point upon which we are to fix our devout attention. We can of course be tempted in another direction: why attack the children, why conduct Himself towards the innocent as if they were guilty? Why punish the innocent., for those who have transgressed? So we metaphysically fritter away God's meaning; we endeavour to solve the insoluble, when we might be accepting with grace and gratitude the inevitable, the disciplinary, and the high administration of Divine righteousness.

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

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