Malachi 3:7
Yet from the days of your fathers, you have turned away from My statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you," says the LORD of Hosts. But you ask, "How can we return?"
Sermons
A Dialogue with GodAlexander MaclarenMalachi 3:7
A Divine Complaint and a Divine InvitationHomilistMalachi 3:7
A Last SermonMalachi 3:7
A Twofold ReturnR. Tuck Malachi 3:7
Coming to God by Love or by FearMorgan Dix.Malachi 3:7
Encouragement for the ErringSketches of Four Hundred SermonsMalachi 3:7
God's Charge and Call to a Backsliding PeopleJohn Hill.Malachi 3:7
Living by TheftA. J. Gordon.Malachi 3:7
Misused Religious PrivilegesW. Craig.Malachi 3:7
Necessity of Our Returning to GodSermons by Contrib. to, Tracts for the Times."Malachi 3:7
RobbersWilliam Birch.Malachi 3:7
Robbery of GodJohn Foster.Malachi 3:7
Robbery of GodJohn Angel James., William Jay.Malachi 3:7
Robbing GodJ. M. Sherwood.Malachi 3:7
Robbing GodMalachi 3:7
Robbing GodF. H. Harling.Malachi 3:7
The Great RobberyW. A. L. Taylor, B. A.Malachi 3:7
The Love-Hunger in God's HeartW. Osborne Lilley.Malachi 3:7
A Divine Complaint and a Divine InvitationD. Thomas Malachi 3:7-12
Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. And Zechariah has a similar expression (Zechariah 1:3), "Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts." The direction to turn from the evil way is very familiar in the books of the prophets, and should be read in the light of their work as social and moral reformers. Some evil custom is indicated, which the people were turned to, and this the prophets anxiously endeavoured to get them turned from. This turning is the root idea of the terra "conversion," which should always be associated with conviction, or the sense of sin, and contrition, or sorrow for sin. Then properly comes conversion, or turning from sin. This is met by the remission of sin, and acceptance as free from sin. The word "conversion" is generally used for the whole process, but this use is apt to produce confusion of ideas. Special significance may properly attach to the turning from sin, because it is the recognized sign and expression of sincerity and earnestness. If a man gives up things he loves that are evil, there is good evidence that he is sincere. Reference in this passage is to the national loyalty to the Mosaic ordinances. By it the national piety could be tested. But they were manifestly turned from anything like a loving, hearty, spiritual obedience of those ordinances, such as God could approve and accept. Consequently his favour and blessing were manifestly turned from them.

I. MAN CANNOT RETURN TO GOD UNTIL GOD RETURNS TO HIM. While God holds aloof from the sinner, that sinner may feel remorse and misery. "His bones may wax old through his roaring all the day long;" but he will feel no penitence, no element of hope can enter into his distress. The first move always comes from God. Zacchaeus does not know that he is really seeking Jesus, until he discovers that Jesus is seeking him. Our Lord put this truth into his familiar expression, "No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him." It is the testimony of universal experience that God is always beforehand with us. And, rightly viewed, this shows us to be without excuse if we keep on in sin.

II. GOD CANNOT RETURN TO MAN UNTIL MAN RETURNS TO HIM. This puts the truth in paradoxical form; and yet it is precisely the statement of the text. God speaks. But he says he will not turn till man does. God is first in opening negotiation, and yet he says he must come second. Explain that God cannot do his gracious work in the man until the man is in that right moral state represented by penitence and turning to God. - R.T.







Ye are gone away from Mine ordinances.
In proportion to the value and the importance of our privileges, is apt to be our negligence, our carelessness, in improving them. In religion, in morals, in everything concerning man, it is in the season of calm, and amid the quietude of apparent prosperity, that the foot is readiest to slip. It is melancholy to think how little value men in general set on the ordinances of a pure religion. The temporal benefits that are so profusely conferred on us by our Maker have each and all of them a measure of alloy mixed up with them, so as to modify and qualify their sweetness. Religion is the solitary one of His gifts that may be characterised as sweet unmixed; and yet it is the one to which, by a great majority of our race, the least value is attached. The text deals with a class of persons who, enjoying the privileges of religion, derived no advantage from them; and it intimates that the loss originated in a fault of their own.

I. EVILS THAT ARE CALCULATED TO RENDER THE MINISTRATIONS OF THE GOSPEL PROFITLESS.

1. Irregular attendance on those ministrations. In theory we admit that the worship of God is the most important business of life. Because it is a preparation for eternity; it is labour in the interest and for the well-being of an immortal soul, and our homage is a debt, a sacred, serious, solemn debt we owe to the Divinity. Then zeal, regularity, precise punctuality in that service, are of all things most important. Your services, it is true, have nothing of merit about them; but it is also true that if you refuse them you need not expect the blessing of God.

2. Love to the world, and a propensity to worldly thoughts. Who does not know that, even while apparently engaged in the most sacred services, the world, and the things of the world, occasionally pass over and darken our spiritual perceptions? Who is there who has never mourned this and deplored it? This tendency to carnal thoughts in the midst of religious-seeming services is one of the most serious obstacles that stand in the way of our improvement from a preached Gospel.

3. The pride of intellect, and a carping taste for literary criticism. It were passing strange, indeed, if the music of soft words, the grace of polished sentences, and all the blandishments of composition were excluded from the pulpit, while on any other stage they are deemed needful to success. But there is peril in it. It may lay a powerful temptation in the way of men's souls. It leads to a sacrificing of substance for shadow. Men nowadays must have the Gospel preached to them in their own particular fashion, or they will not listen to the preaching of the Gospel at all. Remember, I beseech you, that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and that the wisdom of God is stronger than men.

4. The want of solemnity and reverence in the sanctuary. How little we think, in general, of the society in which we are, or the nature of Divine service, when we come up to the temple of the Lord.

5. The want of a spirit of prayer. The effect to be produced is altogether dependent on Almighty power. Then how obvious it is that all our attendances on these ordinances should be preluded by prayer! We know that of ourselves we cannot profit. We know that God has told us how His blessing is to be obtained. Shall not, then, the footstool of His throne be approached by us? Shall we not ask that Divine strength may be perfected in our weakness?

(W. Craig.)

Return unto Me, and I will return unto you
Three things contained in these words, which well suit our times.

1. A charge or accusation brought by God against His professing people. All sin is going away from God's ordinances, or a breach of His law. To omit known duties, God construes as a commission of known sins.

2. A solemn exhortation backed by an alluring motive. God promises mercy when He might execute judgment. Repentance is that which sets a creature right again, with his face towards God, so that all his desires and expectations are from Him. The motive is, God's return unto us. God is said to return when He shows His face and favour, which sin has hid.

3. The people's reply. "Wherein shall we return?" This was either in words — "We are not conscious of guilt, show us wherein we have offended." Or it is the language of their hearts and lives.

I. SHOW WHERE IN WE HAVE GONE AWAY FROM GOD AS A PROFESSING PEOPLE AND LAND.

1. We have gone away from His truth. As to the generality of professors in the land, they scarce know what are the foundations of the Gospel, or what are the pillars of the reformation.

2. We are gone away from His worship. Now families professing godliness are prayerless, and there is a weariness of ordinances.

3. We are gone away from our trust and confidence in God. This is a complaint every one may bring against himself.

4. We are gone away from God in conversation. Faith is nothing without fruit, nor Gospel truth without Gospel holiness. Are thy thoughts spiritual, thy speech savoury, thy mind and disposition heavenly, and thy outward behaviour without offence?

II. HOW MUST OUR RETURN TO HIM BE?

1. With deep humiliation. Sense of sin will beget sorrow and shame for it. When God touches the heart, sin will become the greatest burden we ever felt.

2. With real reformation. God's anger is increased by mock returns. It is one thing to confess sin with our mouths, and another thing to cast it out of our hearts.

3. It should be with an eye to the blood of Christ. No mercy is to be expected but through the satisfaction and intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ.

III. THE BLESSING WHICH IS IN GOD'S RETURN TO US. When God comes to a land or people, good comes with Him.

1. He comes with grace and pardon.

2. He comes with grace to sanctify and renew.

3. He comes with power and strength to save and deliver.

4. He comes with love to delight in them.

IV. WHY WILL GOD RETURN TO US ONLY IN THE WAY OF OUR RETURN TO HIM? It does not suppose anything meritorious in the obedience of the creature; nor yet that the blessings of grace are suspended upon the condition of duty.

1. It is to justify His dispensations before men. Though duty be not the ground of our claim, it is the warrant of our expectation and our hope.

2. He will slay presumption and self-confidence in His own people.

V. IN WHOM THIS VILE FRAME MENTIONED IN THE TEXT IS FOUND. This may serve by way of caution, and by way of trial. We speak as in the text when —

1. We rest in generals, in confessing sin before God. Sin is a sort of packhorse upon which every burden is laid.

2. This frame prevails where there is a transferring sin upon others. It is easy confessing other men's sins, but evangelical repentance begins at home.

3. Men speak thus when they con fess some sins, but not the sin which God aims at. We are all too partial with respect to ourselves.

4. To confess sin with a secret liking of it in the heart is a way of saying, "Wherein shall I return?" It argues little to confess sin if thou dost not part with it. Uses —(1) Are we thus gone away from God, and shall we not admire Divine patience, that we are yet spared, both our persons and our land?(2) Adore grace.(3) See what is the special duty of this day. "Return unto the Lord."(4) Beware of a double heart this day, and all your life after. Seek peace and truth, but Christ as the foundation of both.

(John Hill.)

Sermons by Contrib. to, Tracts for the Times."
Whenever, in any respect, we have wandered away from the strait and narrow way which leadeth unto life our Father in heaven does not at once leave us to ourselves, but in His tender love and forbearance has recourse to various means whereby to bring us back to Himself. This is plainly the case with individual Christians; perhaps it is the condition of mankind universally. Our merciful Father offers checks and warnings when He sees any generally prevailing tendency to depart from Him. If, in any Christian Church, people have become self-confident, neglectful of ancient rules, scorning attention to moral duties, yet all the while exulting in unreal feelings and fancies, as tokens of the Divine favour — when such symptoms of corruption show themselves, it is a great mercy if our good God, by any chastisements, warns us of our danger, and of the necessity of returning to Him whilst yet we may. Jehovah sent this message of affectionate compassion to His ancient people, "Return unto Me, and I will return unto you." And it was to be expected that they would gladly embrace so gracious an offer; that their only inquiry would be in what way they could best prove the sincerity of their repentance. But no such temper showed itself. Quite otherwise. They had done nothing to be ashamed of. They said, — why may we not go on as we are; what need is there of repentance or amendment? Jesus Christ pressed on all who would follow Him the necessity of self-denial, that is, of doing and suffering what is painful and unpleasant to us, out of love to Him. This we promised to do in our baptism. If we have not led the rest of. our lives according to that beginning, then we should hear the voice of God saying to us, "Return unto Me, and I will return unto you." Return unto Me in all self-abasement and self-denial, and I will return to you in those special gifts and graces which eminently mark the presence of God's good Spirit. Whatever our condition in life may be, self-denial in matters of disposition and temper is so essential to the Christian character that, if we have neglected it, we have indeed urgent need to return to the Lord in this respect without delay. Any tendency to self will is an evidence that "the heart is not right with God." In regard to the duty, or privilege, of prayer, we should ascertain for ourselves whether we have at all wandered away from the Lord, and so need to return to Him in true substantial amendment. There must be a real and hearty obedience, otherwise a return is no return. It is not a matter of profession or of feeling or of know ledge, but of absolute practice, of humble temper and humble practice.

(Sermons by Contrib. to "Tracts for the Times.")

Our life in this world is, in substance, a returning to God. When we were new-born we were set in the path that leads to eternal life, and bidden to keep in it, and so return to God. Few, if any, go straight onward; most of us are like wayward children, following the road for a while, then straying; anon recovering it, and then, with repentance, proceeding. So, all the life through, we are returning to God; lapsing here and there; erring and straying like lost sheep; finding the way back, we often wonder how; and so, as for our general direction, working a slow course toward final safety, through the temptations and dangers of the track by which we go. Often have Christians to check themselves, to deplore errors, and to retrace heedless steps; they must do this when they see or feel that they are out of the straight path. The text asks, "Wherein shall we return?" The question suggests some thought on motives which may act to lead men back to God. How shall they that are astray be brought home? If we grow lax, cold, and hard, how shall we be recovered? There are two great motives that can keep men near to God, and keep God's name in honour in the world. These two are love and fear: the love of God for His mercy, the fear of God for His justice. Either of these may save a man; either may keep a race alive and strong. With the heart we lay fast hold on God as the Father and the Saviour. God calls Himself our Father; the word includes His act in giving us our being, His providence which keeps, upholds, and blesses us day by day. God, as Creator, Ruler, and Governor, asks of us our love. He reveals Himself as God our Saviour. The symbol of the mighty all-constraining love is, and must ever be, the Cross. So first the Lord draws us by love. There are, however, those in the world on whom these considerations have no effect. In that case there remains one, and but one, other motive to bring them to God; it is the lower motive of fear. Not mere fear of punishment, nor the fear of suffering. It is the fear of irreparable disaster, of everlasting loss. That men cannot face. That is the dread of dreads. But there are those in whom there is no such dread; they do not feel the love of God, they cannot be shaken by the fear of God. What other motive can you name when both these fail? There is no answer. Destroy the belief in the Almighty God as a Creator; with that vanishes the belief in Almighty God as a providence. And when that is done the basis on which love rests is gone also. Destroy the belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of the world, and with it vanish also the sense of sin, gratitude for deliverance from its effects, and the love that has filled the hearts of men as they meditated on the mercy of the Saviour, and the sweetness of the "precious blood of Christ." Thus all ground for loving God is taken away. Cast out the belief in eternal death, in perpetual penalty, in irreparable doom, and fear must vanish. If there is no just God to requite me, whom is there to fear? What will men do when fallen so low? Let us consider. Can love and fear die out of the heart? Never. The love and fear of God can die; but love and fear of something will remain. Toward what shall these direct themselves? When man will no longer love God, he must come to loving himself; and when it comes to loving himself, his main fear is lest, in that self-love, he should be interfered with or balked. What would become of a world which had lost its own love and its fear, which neither loved the Redeemer nor feared the pains of hell? One may be pardoned for doubting whether such a world would be worth saving; and for questioning whether it could be saved. We therefore teach, as most necessary for these times, the love of God and the fear of God.

(Morgan Dix.)

Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.
God comes to His people. His purpose is to refine, purify, and save; and to judge and witness against wrong-doing. God's blessings are given conditionally. Observe —

I. THE DUTY. "Return unto me."

1. the words imply distance from God. The cause is sin. Sin deepens and widens the difference between God and man. Sin put away, God and man are one.

2. Return to a recognisation of neglected duty.

3. Return with a fixed purpose in all things to conform to God's will.

II. THE PROMISE. "I will return unto you."

1. God's promises are many.

2. God's promises are great.

3. God's promises are precious.

4. God's promises are encouraging. To the weak, afflicted, troubled, unfortunate; yea, to the erring and sinful.

III. THE CONFIRMATION. "Saith the Lord."

1. The authority. "The Lord."

2. The confidence it inspires.

3. The action it should prompt.

(Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons.)

I. JEHOVAH'S ENTREATY. "Return unto Me." Sin is not only departure from righteousness, but from God. God is man's true sphere. Those who have lived in God may wander from Him. Their sad condition may furnish reasons for their return; but the most powerful is that God entreats them to do so. This should affect them deeply. For it manifests —

1. His condescending pity.

2. Forbearing grace.

3. Unchanging love.

4. Willingness to receive them again into His favour.Man's departure from God grieves Him. In order that the wanderer may return he must —(1) Reflect upon his waywardness, its folly and ingratitude.(2) Yield to the Divine drawings which reach him through the Word and Spirit.(3) Discover the cause of his wanderings, and put it away.(4) Turn unto God with contrite confession and earnest prayer. The Divine Word to Him might have justly been "Depart," not "Return."

II. JEHOVAH'S PROMISE. "I will return unto you." God delights to fill the consciousness of man with His presence. He reluctantly with draws Himself from the wanderer. In God's return is all spiritual blessedness.

1. All wanderings are forgiven.

2. The soul is requickened into newness of life.

3. The evil effects of wandering are purged away.

4. The springs of a deep and immortal happiness are opened in the soul.

5. The spirit is conscious of possessing its true and eternal rest.God's return is dependent upon the wanderer's return to Him. He cannot reveal Himself fully to those who depart from His ways. He may warn them, chastise them, and strive with them, but they cannot know what His presence is to the obedient heart.

(W. Osborne Lilley.)

This text is an exhortation to repentance.

I. AN ACCUSATION. "Ye have gone away." They had gone off from God's ordinances, and had not kept them. Law may be broken, either by omitting the good required or doing the evils for bidden. They had long continued in these sins; "from the days of your fathers."

II. THE EXHORTATION. "Return," etc. Notice the duty. Repentance toward God is necessary to set the creature right again, and put him in his proper place and posture.

III. THE REJOINDER OF THE PEOPLE. "Ye said, wherein shall we return?" It is not a serious question, but a cavil. It suited the stout and stubborn genius of this people, who would not yield to anything that might infer their guilt. The exhortation was lost upon them, as if they needed no repentance or reformation. Doctrine — That a people who are apparently gone off from the ways of God are not easily brought to a sight and sense of the necessity of returning to Him. This point is true of mankind in general, of nations, and of particular persons. Men set up a false happiness in their carnal estate. There is something in us which is instead of Christ to us, when our affections take up with present things. The commonness and continuance of sin takes away the odiousness of it. Men many times return feignedly. A people professing repentance in the general, when it cometh to particulars, wince and start. That is but a notion of repentance, not a real exercise of it, when we profess to return to God, and know not wherein we should return. Exhort to two things —(1) Take heed of the shifts wherewith men beguile themselves.(2) Inquire wherein you should return. Find out the provoking sin. To do so you will need much searching and self-communing. Seek for information from God. And carefully observe your own ways.

( T. Manton, D. D.)

Homilist.
I. A DIVINE COMPLAINT AGAINST SINNERS. Three charges. Apostasy. Dishonesty. Insensibility.

II. A DIVINE INVITATION TO SINNERS. An invitation to return —

1. To Divine friendship.

2. To honest service.Bring all the tithes into the storehouse. If they accede, God promises —

(1)To give them good in abundance.

(2)To give them good in connection with the produce of the earth.

(3)To give them good in the affections of men.Learn —

1. A man is a bad man who withholds from God His due.

2. A bad man becomes good by surrendering his all to God.

3. The more good a man has in himself, the more good he has from the universe.

(Homilist.).

Will a man rob God?
The ordinance of God has been that men should have certain things, on certain conditions, belonging to them severally, as their own. But there has always been a mighty propensity to break through this great law. We do not at all wonder at the laws in respect to property among men. But here in the text is another kind of robbery, which does sound strangely; of which many may be guilty, and little think of it. "Rob God," — who could ever think of a thing so monstrous? Yet it can be. In the next words the assertion is made, "Ye have robbed Me." All here on earth belongs to God. It is in the midst of things belonging to Him that we are conversant, living and acting. If all belongs to God, then comes in the liability to commit robbery against Him. It may be, that there shall be no general habitual sense and acknowledgment of His sovereign claims; no feeling that all does so belong. This is the comprehensive spirit and principle of the wrong toward Him, and will go into many special forms; this state of mind is a general refusal to acknowledge His law. It is taking, as it were, the whole ground at once from God, and assuming a licence for every particular act and kind of robbery. Robbing God is also permitting anything to. have stronger power over us than His will. There should be conscientious care to form a right honest judgment of what is due, of what belongs to God. This guilt is incurred by misapplying to other uses what is due to God. A few plain particulars may be specified of what we cannot withhold from God without this guilt. One is, a very considerable proportion of thought concerning Him. Fear, of the deepest, most solemn kind, is due to God. We have, naturally, an awe of power. There are other tributes due, corresponding to what we may call the more attractive and gracious attributes. Will a man refuse the gentler affection, — love, gratitude, humble reliance? But we have to look further, at the full breadth of the declared law of God: the comprehensive sum of His commands; a grand scheme of the dictates of the Divine will, placed peremptorily before us, and abiding there as permanently as our view of the purpose of the earth or the starry sky. Each and every precept tells of something we may refuse Him, namely, the obedience; and a temptation stands close by each. Some seem to "rob God" of nearly all. And with so determined a will, that there would seem but to need more precepts for them to extend their injustice. Others think they must render something, but that a partial tribute, and a small one, may suffice. Many appear to think that if they do not rob men, there needs not much care about what is specially and directly due to God. It is not for His own sake that God requires our homage, service, and obedience. It is for our sakes. Thus it will come to be found, that in robbing God, men iniquitously and fatally rob themselves. Name one thing specially as due to God — the duty of promoting the cause of God in the world. If each professed servant of God, and follower of Christ, could be supposed to be asked, "Will you have your individual part set before you?" he must be a bold man, who should instantly, and free from all apprehension, say, "Yes, I am sure of what it will testify."

(John Foster.)

It is possible, and the sin has been perpetrated. God says to these Jews, "Ye have robbed Me." In their case it referred to the withholding of the tithes and offerings for the support of the temple worship. This does not appertain to us; but it is not the only way in which the sin can be committed. Robbery means taking either by fraud or violence that which belongs to another, and appropriating it to our own use.

I. APPLY THIS CHARGE OF ROBBING GOD TO A LARGE PORTION OF MANKIND, GENERALLY CONSIDERED. To a pious mind, it is an affecting and melancholy thing to consider what a conspiracy seems ever going on to shut God out of His own world, to deprive Him of His rights in the homage which is due to Him from His creatures. Atheism robs Him of the glory of His existence; Deism, of the glory of His revelation; Paganism, of the glory of His spirituality and perfections; Mohammedanism, of His exclusive manifestation of Himself through the person and work of His own Son, in regard to the purposes of His grace to our world; Judaism, of the glory of His relationship to His only-begotten and well-beloved Son. So that we see, on a very large scale, God's rational creation continually robbing Him of His glory. If we come from systems to men, we shall see that the same felony is continually going on against Him, as the God of nature, providence, and redemption. Is not man-worship one of the most striking characteristics of the age in which we live? Looking abroad upon society, we see a felony continually going on, in robbing God of His glory, and not giving Him the honour that in all these things is due unto His name. In the sphere of religion, what robbery of God there is in taking from Him His Sabbaths — taking them from religion, and giving them to pleasure and business. Socinianism deprives Him of the glory of the Divinity of His Son. Popery corrupts every thing in religion — raising up a rival to God in the pope, a rival to the Bible in tradition, a rival to the Saviour in priests, a rival to the Cross in the crucifix.

II. APPLY THIS CHARGE OF ROBBING GOD TO PARTICULAR CLASSES.

1. It lies against the man who is living without personal, decided, spiritual religion, whose heart is not yet converted to God. The man who is living without religion, that man is committing a wholesale robbery upon God. He robs God of himself. He belongs to God. His body does, and he takes it from Him, for sensuality, for vice, or for worldliness. He is robbing God of the soul, with all its faculties. The intellect belongs to God; and yet, though thousands of thoughts are streaming off from that man's mind day after day, none of these go to God. He is robbing God of his will, of his affections, etc. An unconverted man robs God of his time. The same remark may be made as to influence; as to property. It is God's world we live in, His ground we tread upon, His sun that shines upon us, His rain that falls upon us, His creatures that support us, His wool and cotton that clothe us; and we have no right to use any of His creatures but in a way that, while it does us good, shall at the same time glorify God.

III. APPLY THIS SUBJECT TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS. Can they stand altogether exempt from the accusation? Ought not their life to be "a whole burnt offering "' to God? A Christian ought to be a partaker of that religion which brings out a holy morality in all the stations, occupations, and circumstances in which he is placed. Are we then living for God or for ourselves? Are there no pulpit robbers of God? None who, ins:cad of seeking God's glory, are seeking their own? From the very nature of the ministerial office, self is the idol that we are in danger of lifting up, if not in the place of God, yet side by side with Him. What duty arising out of this subject shall I prescribe? Restitution. Yield yourselves unto God.

(John Angel James.)Is it probable? Is it possible? Can he be so disingenuous? What! rob a Father, a Friend, a Benefactor! Can he be so daring? To rob a Being so high and sacred; and whose glory so enhances the offence! Can he be so irrational, so desperate? Yet, says God, "Ye have robbed Me." And the charge falls on those who are to be found in the house of God. Who has not robbed God of property? Our wealth is not our own. We are only stewards. It always looks suspicious when a gentleman's steward becomes very rich, and dies affluent. Substance is entrusted to its occupiers, for certain purposes plainly laid down in the Scripture. Do you discharge those claims? How much do some unjustly expend; in table-luxuries, in costly dress, in magnificent furniture? Who has not robbed God of time? The Sabbath. Our youth-time, so often squandered away in vanity, folly, and vice. All our moments and opportunities are His: and He commands us to redeem the time. Who has not robbed God of the heart? The fear, the confidence, the gratitude, the attachment of the heart, we have transferred from the Creator, God over all, blessed for evermore. And may not the same be said of our talents — whether learning, or the powers of conversation, or the retentiveness of memory, or our influence over others? Let us not affect to deny the charge; but let us repair to the footstool of mercy, and cry, "If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand?"

(William Jay.)

There are many more robbers than the police know about. Men might be surprised to know that a robber, sometimes, is concealed in their own breast. How wicked to rob a man who has done us a kindness; but how much more so to rob a God who loves us with everlasting love! As robbers of God, consider —

I. ATHEISTS. Such imagine there is no Creating-God; or if there be a God, that nobody can discover anything about Him; and that there is no God-revealed religion. In a picture gallery in London, I was shown a grand painting of a woman's face, and asking the name of the artist, my friend replied, "Though it is a valuable picture, the artist's name is unknown." I show you a picture, the frame is made of earth, and the picture is called life. See the carving of Divine genius in the frame, and behold the lines of everlasting love in the picture! Can you say that no intelligent mind ever conceived and no skilful hand ever formed the leaf, the fruit, the rose of that picture? Some atheists admit there is a Mind above that which is human, yet they say that the God-mind has no personal sympathy with men. Many people live as if there were no God. Is it not fashionable to do so? Would you be glad if there were no God? Think, God's happiness is to bless you, and yet you rob Him of that joy.

II. DEISTS. One who thinks there is a supreme God, but will not believe that He revealed Himself in Christ Jesus. Deist, I ask you to behold God through Jesus. Do not rob Jesus of His loving influence, which is meant to bless your own heart. Can you find any other man who ever taught the world a better truth, or one who loved men more than Jesus did?

(William Birch.)

It is a fearful crime to rob God, and yet it is done every day, and done by His professed friends as well as by His open enemies. God is robbed whenever His requirements are disregarded, whenever His rights are resisted, whenever the demands and interests of His kingdom are neglected. Consider wherein God is robbed by His people.

1. In the matter of affection. "My son, give Me thy heart." That is the supreme offering.

2. In the matter of consecration. God will have the whole heart, life, gifts, or none.

3. In the matter of service. God's claim is absolute upon your time, influence, prayers, efforts, gifts, means, even in their potentiality.

4. In the matter of gratitude.

5. In tithes and offerings.

(J. M. Sherwood.)

This is a kind of theft which is very common. It does not affect the credit of those who are guilty of it. It is practised by all unsaved persons, more or less. Indeed, this is one of the principal means by which Satan keeps Christless persons at their ease. It is most common amongst those of the unsaved who are respectable, moral, and, after their own fashion, religious people. Satan teaches them to live by theft. He gets them to appropriate to themselves promises and hopes which do not belong to them: and by means of this stolen property, he succeeds in keeping them at their ease until he has ruined them for ever.

(A. J. Gordon.)

The story about old Stradivarius, the famous violin-maker, is suggestive. He said that if his hand slackened in its work of making violins he would rob God, and leave a blank instead of good violins. He said that even God would not make Antonio's violins without Antonio. The truth has a wide application. It may be applied to every life, and to every piece of work that any of us do. One is engaged in a factory, one in a machine-shop, one in an office, one on a farm, one is at school. One man is a physician, another is a lawyer, another a merchant, another a mechanic, another a minister. Whatever our work is, we cannot be faithful to God unless we do it as well as we can. To slur is to do God's work badly. To neglect is to rob God.

We do well to ask ourselves at this time how far the words of God by Malachi apply, to our case: " Ye are cursed with a curse; for ye have robbed Me."... "Wherein? In tithes and offerings." When we compare the millions upon millions lavished upon vain display, costly feasts, extravagant dress, palatial dwellings, frivolous or debasing amusements, and worse, on gambling, drinking, and unhallowed lusts, with the shabby pittance doled out for the Gospel at home and abroad, and then ask ourselves how this must look in God's sight, is it any wonder that we are visited with hard times? "I tremble for my country (said Thomas Jefferson) when I remember that God is just." Nine hundred million dollars spent in one year for intoxicating liquors; five and a half millions for missions (not church-support) at home and abroad — that is, one hundred and sixty-four to one. The nine hundred millions are not only squandered — they would better be cast into the sea than used as they now are to ruin the souls and bodies of men, to destroy families, and to plague the State.

(F. H. Harling.)

Well, there can be no doubt that man will do some very daring deeds. What magnificent things he is capable of l He may not be much to look at, he may not fill a large space in the landscape; but out of his heart and soul what deeds of heroism may come! what feats of daring! — achievements that thrill the whole world and move the heart of heaven! It is a precious heritage that we have in human biography. Man, however, does not always employ his daring soul in the right way. What is the most daring thing ever done? Why, surely it is here — in that a man will rob God. And it is not true courage that leads him to do that; it is foolhardiness, with emphasis on the first syllable of the word. It is the coward who robs God, for he knows not what he is doing. But let us look at the question in a larger sense, and see how we may be guilty of this terrible crime. All robbery of God proceeds from our failure to acknowledge the one great fact of God's sovereignty. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." "It is He that hath made us: we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture." In theory we acknowledge all this; but how about its practical bearing on our everyday life? Have we a reverent and beautiful sense of God's ownership, leading to the hallowing of all our thoughts, deeds, and possessions? Do we ever talk about having money of our own, forgetting that every mite of it is God's? We even go so far as to say that we "will be master in our own house," forgetting that the house is not ours, and that "One is our Master, even Christ." What we need, then, nowadays is a clearer sense of God's sovereignty. We shall not tread so haughtily and boar ourselves so proudly, we shall not be so careless and irreverent in our lives, when we realise vividly the authority and presence of the Lord of all. What a terrible charge the psalmist brings against certain people! — "God is not in all their thoughts." Unless we are to rob God of His right, He must be in all our thoughts, the great moral Force in all our work and duty, keeping us in fine integrity and honour. In pleasure He must be "the spring of all our joys, the life of our delights," and then we shall take no harm whatever pleasure we engage in. And in sorrow He must be our first and only thought; then "grief and fear and care shall fly as clouds before the midday sun." Will a man rob God? Yes, unless he have the fear of God continually before him. "The transgression of the wicked saith within my heart, that there is no fear of God before his eyes." That is the message of every transgression ever committed. If men had the fear of God before their eyes they would never sin against Him. An article in one of the papers a while ago spoke of "the degeneracy of wills." In the olden time a man began, his will thus: "In the name of God, Amen." But now we begin abruptly: This is the last will and testament. It is not simply that we are short of time, and cannot afford the roundabout phrases of a bygone day; it is that we have not the sense of reverence in the measure that we ought to have it — we do not live with the holy dread and mighty awe of the great old saints. Will a man rob God? Yes, if he withhold his love, gratitude, and obedience from Him. These great affections of the heart were bestowed upon us that they might be given to some worthy object. Are they just to be spent upon a few inferior objects around us, and to be denied to One in whom is all perfect excellence, goodness, and beauty? Does not the love of God to us call loudly for our love in return? Does not all the mercy of the past lay irresistible claim to our fervent gratitude? Does not every precept of God's law require our obedience? If we do not give it, shall we not be robbing with the basest, boldest robbery Him to whom our more than all is due? The man who robs God steals from himself. God needs nothing of ours to make Him any richer; it is simply for our own sakes that He makes the great demand. Give your little all, and the return shall be in full measure, pressed down, and running over. Withhold, and you stand to gain nothing and to lose all.

(W. A. L. Taylor, B. A.)

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