For the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said: "By repentance and rest you would be saved; your strength would lie in quiet confidence--but you were not willing."
I. THE DICTUM IS DIVINE. "Thus saith the Lord God." There is direct and special emphasis given to this promise. And he calls himself "the Holy One of Israel." So that the "holy people" need not fear, inasmuch as the Holy One cannot lie, cannot prosper anything opposed to holiness, cannot therefore let evil overcome goodness. What we have to look to is our state. We need not dream that quietness will help us if it be the indifference of sloth or the quiescence of an indulgent soul in evil. But if "holiness unto the Lord" be written on our hearts and lives, God, who is the Holy One, will surely prosper us.
II. THE DECLARATION IS DUAL. "Quietness and confidence." Because there, is a quietness which comes from the paralysis of fear, or from the coma of fatalism. We are to have a confidence which keeps the soul alive, and fills it with intense ardor and devotion. Nature is intensely active, but all her ministrations, as in the light and the dew, are quiet. Fussiness and loudness are no true signs of energy. Nay, rather they bespeak a superficial and shallow nature. Confidence is the child of wisdom and courage. It is not the result of ignorance, or of under-estimating the power of our foes. It takes cognizance of them all - their number and their variety and their ubiquity, but then, looking up to him who is mightier than them all, it says, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
III. THE STRENGTH IS WITHIN. What we need is not so much a lessening of the forces without us, but a strength in the inward man to overcome them. Take temptation. We are told that no temptation shall come but such as we are able to bear. We are not promised immunity from keen attacks. Everything depends upon the state of the soul. Temptation, to be successful, requires correspondency within. Sparks falling upon the ocean are not dangerous. Christ said, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me." Take trial. Sorrow, coming to the worldly heart, breaks it down - it ends in the death of hope and energy and joy. Sorrow to the Christian is an angel of discipline. The soul is sustained by the presence within us of the Man of sorrows, who can make all grace abound. So even the martyr and the confessor have been able to rejoice; even Paul and Silas sang "songs in the night." "As thy day thy strength shall be." This, then, is proven true in human history, and must be accepted as a fact. Spiritual consciousness is worthy of as much honor and to be accepted with confidence, as the boasted facts of science. The promise, therefore, is comforting to every generation. "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." - W.M.S.
In returning and rest shall ye be saved.I. THE INSUFFICIENCY OF ALL HUMAN DEPENDENCE. The records of the Jewish nation, which have come down to us, abundantly prove this truth.
1. These words were especially spoken to the Church of old time. We must gather therefore great instruction herefrom, in respect to the community of God's people in all after time, and perhaps in our own days especially.
2. What is true in respect of the Church, considered as a community, is equally true in respect of all its members, if we consider them in their individual character. God teaches them separately, as He teaches the Church collectively, that upon Him they are to depend, and not upon human help. And in order that they may learn the lesson the more certainly, and that it may stay with them the more abidingly, God oftentimes brings them down into circumstances where human assistance can render them no avail.
II. THE NATURE AND THE PROFIT OF PATIENT WAITING. In this way it is that God gives the instruction which the hearts of His people want. He suffers them oftentimes to lean upon other helps, and to cast their dependence upon other agencies, than His appointed one. Then, when they have found that these have been but as a broken reed to trust to, they come back again to Him — their faith confirmed — a precious lesson learned in the time of their wandering, which henceforth they shall find in the establishment of their souls. Faith has indeed oftentimes its best exercise in the time of the heaviest trial It is made to bring forth its richest and rarest fruits.
(S. Robins, M. A.)
1. "Returning." Instead of going to Egypt for help, and impoverishing themselves by an alliance forbidden, senseless, and unprofitable, they might be assured of God's forgiveness and favour by returning in brokeness of spirit to Him. The place of confession is the place of forgiveness.
2. "Rest." The meaning is, or course, such a resting in God as would prove the genuineness of their return to Him. Vain was their reliance on the multitude of chariots and the strong body of cavalry to which they would point as a valuable addition to the fighting strength of Judah (Isaiah 31:3).
3. "Quietness." How the very word rebukes the haste, excitement, and trepidation with which they had prepared for the siege of their city!
(J. G. Mantle.)
In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.I. THE STATE OF MIND HERE NOTICED.
1. Consider "quietness" of mind. It means strength of purpose, combined with calm collectedness of thought as well as of word and act.
2. Consider "confidence" as another feature of true Christian character. Confidence is something more than a dead theory of belief; it is faith in exercise. And is there not something very sublime and beautiful in "confidence," as we see it linking the heart of man to the Creator and Redeemer of the world?
II. THE ADVANTAGES TO BE DERIVED FROM THE STATE OF MIND DESCRIBED.
1. The promise expressed in the words, "shall be your strength," is very encouraging and full of meaning. It points to the Deity as the only source of strength.
2. The strength here spoken of is Divine, granted to us through the instrumentality of quietness and confidence
3. This strength, too, implies safety.
4. But the strength promised is conditional.
(W. D. Horwood.)
1. Observe what the fault of Israel had been. God had said one thing, and Israel thought another. God had told them that He would be their refuge.
2. Their warrant for their confidence was the Word of God. Here is the distinction to be made between what is presumption, and what is faith.
3. Observe, next, the peculiar relation in which Israel stood to Jehovah, which made their unbelief so reprehensible. The Lord seems to bring this before their minds, as that which should cause the most stinging conviction in their hearts. "Thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel."
II. THE PROMISE THAT IS HERE ANNEXED. God says, "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." Take, for instance, Hezekiah's history (2 Kings 18). Again, remember the story of Israel's deliverance, as recorded Exodus 14. I might refer you to other passages, such as that beautiful narrative in Daniel 3, where we are told of three believing men being cast into a burning fiery furnace. Look at their quietness and confidence, which was their strength. There is a direct promise upon this subject in Deuteronomy 32. "The Lord shall judge" (avenge, or come to the help of) "His people, and repent Himself for His servants, when He seeth that their power is gone" If you want a New Testament promise to the same effect, you have it in that word which was spoken by our Lord — "Come unto Me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Do you say then, are we not to use means? There may be as much unbelief when men despise means, as there may be in their over-anxiety to use means.
(W. H. Krause, M. A.)1. It is our duty to recognise the inevitable margin of difference among those who substantially agree. It is only in the exact sciences that a formula has absolutely the same value for all men and for the same man at all times. But theology is not an exact science
2. It is the second duty of conservatives in a time of theological conflict to recognise the margin of error in all human views of truth. If the writers of the Bible were infallible, the readers of it are not. But have we not, it may be asked, the promise of the Paraclete to lead us into all the truth? Yes, and wonderfully has the promise been fulfilled. But here again two things should be observed.(1) That promise was not given to any particular branch of the Church.(2) It guarantees infallibility, to no one.
3. It is especially the duty of conservatives at the present moment in the history of the Church to discriminate between those who are seeking defend and those who are seeking to overthrow the fundamental principles of Christianity. Criticism must be met by criticism, scholarship by scholarship.
4. We should beware of testing the views in regard to the Bible, which are now more and more freely expressed, by what seem to be their tendencies.(1) One of these is the tendency to unsettle the minds of simple and devout believers. They certainly have such a tendency, and it is much to be regretted. But the questions are here. We are not responsible for their presence. They are forced upon us.(2) Another thing concerning which no little apprehension is entertained is that these discussions may tend to diminish the reverence which is felt for the Bible, and to weaken the faith of men in Christianity itself. The apprehension is natural. So Erasmus felt concerning what he called "the noisy quarrel of religion" that had broken out in his day, when (as he says) "I wrote frequently and industriously to my friends, begging that they would admonish this man ( Luther) to observe Christian meekness in his writings, and to do nothing to disturb the peace of the Church." The true conservative is always prone to apprehend the worst results from anything that disturbs the ancient order of ideas and practices. But how many times over has experience shown these fears to be groundless? In quietness and in confidence is our strength. Let us be honest. Let us not be afraid. "If this counsel or this work be of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, ye will not be able to overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God."
(E. B. Coe, D. D.)
I. "Quietness and confidence" are STRENGTH OF CHARACTER. They bespeak the existence of thought, reflection, judgment; they evidence self-control; they mark a nature that is not superficial; they show a superiority to influences which rouse the stormy passions of other men, and leave them the victims of blind impulse; and all this implies true strength of character.
II. "Quietness and confidence" are STRENGTH FOR WORK AND ACHIEVEMENT. The quiet, steady, hopeful man — other things being equal, and sometimes when they are very unequal — will prove, far away, the best workman. For one thing, such a man will lose no time in vain speculation, in daydreams about his work, in clearing away self-imposed hindrances, the result of his own hurry or forgetfulness or preoccupation. Calm and thoughtful, he will always settle to his employment at once, while another man will have to give himself time to acquire the proper mood for it. "Confidence" will also yield him resolution, and that will "make him proof against interruption," which often defers the results of men's endeavours and chafes their temper as well. Nearly all the men who have won renown in the sphere of successful toil, whether secular or sacred, have been men of quiet energy, rather than men of powerful impulses; of steadfast reliance upon a Power above them, rather than of mere human enthusiasm. And in fact, such are the discouragements and trials that wait upon all kinds of labour, whether for ourselves or others — such the sameness, the dryness, the weariness, that only quiet confidence will enable a man to persevere. It was this that kept Moses at the head of the chosen tribes till they reached the borders of Canaan. It was this that carried St. Paul through his almost superhuman toils and exertions. It was this that sustained such men as Columbus and Newton, Washington and Wellington, and a host of others, in carrying out enterprises, differing, indeed, in their objects, but all encompassed with difficulties that would have driven weaker men to despair at their outset. And, if we would do any real work for God and our fellow men, we must seek more to possess the quietness and confidence of me text, than those more shining qualities which gain popular applause, but often leave no real impress upon a man's age and sphere.
III. Quietness and confidence are STRENGTH FOR ENDURANCE. Restlessness, impatience, distrust, do but aggravate trials, and intensify suffering. Like the struggles of a prisoner in his fetters — like the beating itself against the wires of the poor caged bird, they only serve to augment pain, and to bring on the dejection and weariness that follow fruitlessly expended energy. But to have a mind stayed on God is to take the most certain method to lighten every burden, to diminish the bitterness of every sorrow, to modify and transmute every curse into a blessing, and to make even the path of tribulation pleasant and attractive.
IV. "Quietness and confidence" are specially the STRENGTH OF SPIRITUAL ADVANCEMENT. All religious progress depends, primarily and efficiently, upon the grace of God. But the order of God's working is such that this process may be very much helped or hindered by ourselves. The growth of plants and flowers depends materially upon the nature of the soil in which they are set, and upon their capacity for receiving the influences of air and sunshine, dew and shower. And it is much the same as to the growth of holy character; it is checked or advanced by our prevailing moral dispositions. Now, "quietness and confidence" imply a state of mind the most favourable to Divine operations. The subject may he viewed in another light. In the endeavour to live a holy life, we are all conscious of our exposure to hindrances, arising from our lapses and failures. We go on, it may be, somewhat well for a time; but a temptation overtakes us, unwatchfulness supervenes, and we fall, not into any great sin, but from the vantage ground that we thought ourselves to have reached. Now, what will be the effect of this upon a Christian person of excitable, impulsive, unsteady mind! Why, ceremony he will be discouraged and dismayed. But it will not be thus with the Christian who is marked by "quietness and confidence." He will say, "Rejoice not over me, O mine enemy; for though I fall, I shall rise again."
(C. M. Merry.)
(F. D. Maurice to his mother.)
(A. Smellie, M. A.)
(J. G. Mantle.)
(J. G. Mantle.)
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