They spend their days in prosperity and go down to Sheol in peace.
(1) in prolonged life;
(2) in the power and influence they are permitted to gain;
(3) in their family prosperity;
(4) in their freedom from calamity;
(5) in their domestic security;
(6) in their abundance and joy.
This mystery Job does not instantly unravel But what is the effect of all this prosperity on the wicked? It does not humble him nor make him thankful As an uneven glass distorts the fairest image, so their impure and ill-regulated minds turn the goodness of God into an occasion of impious rejection. "Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us." The distortions of the evil mind pervert the goodness of God into -
I. AN OCCASION OF IMPIOUS DESPIAL OF THE DIVINE NAME. They refuse to know God. They shut out the knowledge of God from their hearts. With a wicked "Depart!" they resist the Holy One. They have no aspiration after a holy corn reunion, or the vision of the pure. The Lord is abhorrent to them. Their tastes are corrupt; their preferences are for evil. Truly they pervert and reverse all good things. They put darkness for light, and light for darkness. They put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter. The very call to adoration and praise they turn into an occasion of despisal and rejection.
II. In their perversions they make the Divine goodness AN OCCASION FOR A DESPISAL OF THE DIVINE WAYS. This is always the danger of them who have abundance and yet lack the fear of God. This is the basis of a teaching long afterwards touchingly taught concerning the rich, to whom it is so "hard" to "enter into the kingdom of heaven." The satisfied man becomes the self-satisfied, even though indebted to another for his possessions. Then the spirit of independence becomes a spirit of revulsion against all authority that might be raised over it. So they who "spend their days in wealth" say," We desire not the knowledge of thy ways."
III. This same spirit ripens into AN ABSOLUTE REFUSAL TO SUBMIT TO THE DIVINE AUTHORITY. "What is the Almighty, that we should serve him?" So far is the goodness of God from leading him to repentance who is evil in spirit. Wickedness is the fruit of an ill-directed judgment, and it tends to impair the judgment more and more. It distorts all the moral sensibilities, and therefore all the moral processes. If the judgment were accurately to decide in favour of the Divine Law and its obligatory character, the perverted preferences of the mind would reject the testimony, and by a rude rebellion within would prevent a right decision from being arrived at. Even the check and restraint of the enlightened judgment becomes a signal for resistance. Its goad is kicked against; its repressions refused; its warning unheeded; its plain path, narrow and difficult to follow, is rejected, and a broad and easy way, in which the foolish heart finds its pleasure, chosen in preference. So the Divine authority is rejected and despised. The ill effects of rejecting the Divine authority are seen:
1. In the loss of the guidance of the supreme wisdom.
2. In the inevitable injuries resulting from following a false and erroneous judgment.
3. In the demoralization of the life.
4. In the final vindication of the Divine authority. - R.G.
And in a moment go down to the grave.
1. Life is a very little thing. It may be crushed as we would crush an eggshell. It need not take an hour to strike the blow which shall shiver it. Indeed, the wonder is that with such a little thing we live at all, for death is lurking all around us — the destructive forces so thick, that it seems as if the earth was made of nothing else. The pestilence rings at no man's door to toll of its coming, but it comes suddenly, and sweeps hundreds of men into the tomb. We stand on the grave's brink every day.
2. Some men think death to be a long way off when the precipice is right at their side, and they are liable to fall into it at any moment. The young are not more free from the enemies of destruction than their parents. The great and the small, the good and the evil, are taken away in a moment. What is to rescue us from death's dominion? Moses on Pisgah's top might plead that he was but 120 years old, that his eye was not dim, that he greatly desired to enter the promised land, but the plea was too weak, and he laid him down there on the top of the Mount. The man of business may plead that he is young and healthy, and his plans not yet accomplished; but death is inexorable, and he bows his head and gives up the ghost. Charles I and Marie Antoinette might plead their royal blood, or the popular will in their exaltation, but the executioner's axe severed their heads and their excuses in a moment. Death cares for none of these things.
3. How suddenly, too, his arrows fly. Like that night in Egypt, when suddenly at midnight the gleam of the destroying angel's sword was seen in the darkness, and, in a moment, the firstborn of all that land passed from life to death. The king's son and the chained captive lie side by side in death's embrace, and a kingdom is in tears. How sudden the exit of Dickens, Thackeray, and others, hurried off ere their last chapter was written and last page dried. And sometimes death aggravates his work, and takes thousands on the battlefield, and hacks and tears them ¢o pieces; or, on the steamer, burns and scalds their flesh from their bones. Learn from destructive forces being near not to tempt Providence by carelessness and negligence. A great deal is sot down to Providence which should be set down to ourselves. And let us be always ready, since but a step between us and the grave!
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