So this city will bring Me renown, joy, praise, and glory before all the nations of the earth, who will hear of all the good I do for it. They will tremble in awe because of all the goodness and prosperity I will provide it.
I. IN REGARD TO GOD.
1. Joy. God, not Deus impassibilis - a God who does not feel.
2. Praise and honour. The theme of the Church on earth, and especially in heaven, is this, "Unto him that loved us," etc. There is no glory equal to that which shall accrue to God by "Jesus Christ," for through him pardon comes to guilty men.
II. IN REGARD TO THE PARDONED THEMSELVES. They enjoy the goodness and prosperity which God procures them. Pardon is not mere acquittal, but acceptance and adoption, and hence the goodness and prosperity.
III. IN REGARD TO THE WORLD AT LARGE. "They shall fear and tremble." Why this?
1. Because of its manifestation of power. His people a feeble flock, but thus raised and exalted.
2. Because of its exposure of idolatry. It will be seen how foolish they have been to trust in their false gods.
3. Because of its manifestation of grace. The fear and trembling shall not be of dread so much as of repentance - repentance wrought by the evident grace of God in the rich pardon he has bestowed. - C.
They shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.
1. In the cup of salvation there are drops of bitterness, and so must it be, for unmixed delight in this world would be dangerous. When the sea is smooth the ship makes poor sailing. Men are bird-limed by their rest and ease, and have small care to fly heavenward. We are apt to lose our God among our goods, Is it not so? If the world's roses had no thorns should we not think it paradise, and forego all desire for the gardens above?
2. Unmixed joy would be fallacious, because there is no such thing here below. If a man should become perfectly contented with the things of this world, it would be the result of a false view of things. This is an error against which we should pray; for this world cannot fill the soul, and if a man thinks he has filled his soul with it, he must be under a gross delusion. As to spiritual joy, I say that in no man's experience can it be long without admixture and yet be true. Never at any moment can a Christian be in such a position that he has not some cause either for dissatisfaction with himself, or fear of the tempter, or anxiety to he faithful in service.
3. Unmixed delight on earth would be unnatural. When the Dutch had the trade of the East in their hands they were accustomed to sell birds of paradise to the untravelled people of these realms. These specimen birds had no feet, for they had craftily removed them, and the merchants declared that the species lived on the wing and never alighted. There was so much of truth in the fable that had they been really and veritably "birds of paradise" they would not have found a place for their feet upon this globe. Truly, birds of paradise do come and go, and flit from heaven to earth, but we see them not, neither can we build tabernacles to detain them. While you are here expect reminders of the fact that this is not your rest.
II. THE FEELINGS BY WHICH THIS SOBERING EFFECT IS PRODUCED. "They fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it." Why fear and tremble?
1. Is not this in part a holy awe of God's presence? "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. The argument for fear and trembling is the work of God in the soul. Because God is working m you there must be no trifling. If the eternal Deity deigns to make a workshop of my nature, I too must work, but it must be with fear and trembling.
2. But next to that there arises up in the mind of every favoured Christian a deep repentance for past sin. Have you not felt as if you could never open Four mouth any more because of all your unkindness to your heavenly Friend? Such penitent, reflections keep the Lord's people right, by creating a fear and trembling m the presence of His overflowing goodness.
3. Has not your deepest sense of unworthiness come upon you when you have been conscious of superlative mercy? We tremble and are afraid, because of the unutterable grace which has met our utter unworthiness, and rivalled it, until grace has gotten unto itself the victory.
4. Have you never noticed how the Lord brings His people to their bearings, and keeps them steady, under a sense of great love, by suggesting to their hearts the question, "How can I live as becometh one who has been favoured like this? "Did you ever feel that the glory of the palace of love made you afraid to dwell in it?
5. And have you never felt a fear lest God's goodness should be abused by you? He who has never questioned his own condition had better make an immediate inquiry. He who has never felt great searchings of heart needs to be searched with candles. No man's hell shall be more terrible than that of the self-confident one who made so sure of heaven that he would not take the ordinary precaution to ask whether his title-deeds were genuine or no.
6. One more thought may also occur to the most joyous believer. He will say, "What if after rejoicing in all this blessedness I should lose it?" "What," cries one, "do you not believe in the final perseverance of the saints?" Assuredly I do, but are we saints! There's the question. Moreover, many a believer who has not lost his soul has, nevertheless, lost his present joy and prosperity, and why may not we?
III. THE MEASURE IN WHICH YOU AND I CAN ENTER INTO THIS EXPERIENCE. We have hundreds of us perceived the benefits of the dark lines and shadings of life's picture, and we see how fit and proper it is that trembling should mingle with transport. As the fruit of experience I have learned to look for a hurricane soon after an unusually delightful calm. When the wind blows hard, and the tempest lowers, I hope that before long there will be s lull; but when the sea-birds sit on the wave, and the sail hangs idly, I wonder when a gale will come. To my mind there is no temptation so bad as not being tempted at all. The worst devil in the world is when you cannot see the devil at all, because the villain has hidden himself away within the heart, and is preparing to give you a fatal stab. Since there is an everlasting arm that never can he palsied, since there is a brow that knows no wrinkle, and a Divine mind that is never perplexed, we go forward in hope, and cast ourselves upon our eternal Helper once again. You have heard of the ancient giant Antaeus, who could not be overcome, because as often as Hercules threw him to the ground, he touched his mother earth, and rose renewed. Such be your lot and mine, often to be cast down, and as often to rise by that downcasting. "When I am weak then am I strong." Let us glory in infirmity, because the power of Christ doth rest upon us.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
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