Malachi 4:6
There is no reason for doubting that John the Baptist is referred to. Our Lord's allusions to John as fulfilling this prophecy should suffice to settle the question (see Mark 9:11-13, Revised Version). There need be no difficulty in admitting John to be the second Elijah, if we apprehend the figurative and poetical character of the prophetical Scriptures. One who would do for his age a similar work to that which was done by Elijah for his age would, in Scripture, be called an Elijah. There is no occasion whatever for imagining that any miraculous reappearance of Elijah was in the mind of Malachi, or a part of his prophetic message. The Jews overpressed a literal interpretation, and to this day they earnestly pray for the coming of Elias, which, they assume, will immediately precede the appearance of Messiah. Dean Stanley says, "Elijah was the prophet for whose return in later years his countrymen have looked with most eager hope It was a fixed belief of the Jews that he had appeared again and again, as an Arabian merchant, to wise and good rabbis, at their prayers or on their journeys. A seat is still placed for him to superintend the circumcision of the Jewish children. Passover after Passover the Jews of our own day place the paschal cup on the table, and set the door wide open, believing that that is the moment when Elijah will reappear. When goods are found, and no owner comes; when difficulties arise, and no solution appears, the answer is, ' Put them by till Elijah comes.'"

Twice in her season of decay,
The fallen Church hath felt Elijah's eye,
Dart from the wild its piercing ray,...
The herald star,
Whose torch afar
Shadows and boding night birds fly."


(Keble.) Matthew Henry, in a few skilful sentences, suggests the likenesses and the contrasts of the two Elijahs. "Elijah was a man of great austerity and mortification, zealous for God, bold in reproving sin, and active to reduce an apostate people to God and their duty. John the Baptist was animated by the same spirit and power, and preached repentance and reformation, as Elias had done; and all held him for a prophet, as they did Elijah in his day, and that his baptism was from heaven, and not of men." Rabbi Eliezer closes a curious chapter on repentance with these words: "And Israel will not make great repentance till Elijah - his memory for blessing! - come." For fair comparison of the two Elijahs, it is necessary to make careful comparison of the times to which they were sent, noticing the essential sameness underneath the manifest differences. Rabbinism had really driven the spiritual religion of Jehovah from the land in John's days, just as the Astarte form of Baalism had driven the Jehovah worship from Israel in the days of Elijah. The two men may be compared in relation to -

I. THEIR PERSONS. In each case there was an arresting personal appearance, and an unusual power of personal impression. In each case we have a man markedly different from surrounding men. This is noticeable in the dress, but more in the men themselves. And their mission largely lay in their personnel. Men minister for God in what they are in figure, countenance, and impression.

II. THEIR HABITS. Both were wilderness men, whose very food was a reproach of prevailing luxury. Their indifference to personal pleasure declared their absorption in their work for God.

III. THEIR MISSIONS. Both were sent to be forerunners of a coming God, in grace, to his people. Both were sent to call the people to repentance. Turning - turning the people to God, was the work of both. Both had to make the same abrupt demand.

IV. THEIR SPIRIT. Both were absolutely loyal to Jehovah. Both were perfectly fearless of all consequences in doing their work. Both were stern in their tone, and saw the sterner side of truth. Both were humanly weak in times of unexpected strain.

V. THEIR INCOMPLETENESS. That characterizes the work of all who have preparing work to do. Neither Elijah nor John could count up results. To both life work might seem a failure. To Elijah, in a mood of depression, it did. But no life is incomplete that is but a piece of a whole, if, as a piece, it is complete. That is a comforting truth for the two Elijahs, and for us who now may have but pieces of work given us to do. - R.T.







Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet.
Of the prophecies relating to the Messias some were so obscure, and had such an appearance of inconsistency, if applied to one and the same person, that they could not well be understood, till the event reconciled and unfolded them; for which obscurity many good reasons have been assigned. But it is reasonable to suppose, that as the time of Christ's coming drew nearer, the later predictions concerning Him should be more distinct and plain than the former.

I. EXPLAIN THE PROPHECIES OF MALACHI RELATING TO THE MESSIAS. The Jews, after their deliverance from Babylon, were free from idolatry, but in other respects they were base and wicked; and as unsettled people go from one extreme to another, they had exchanged a pagan superstition for a kinder religious libertinism and cold indifference; and this nation, which had once adored any and every idol, was become remiss in the worship of the true God. Malachi reproaches the Jews for their ingratitude to God, who had so lately showed them so much favour and mercy. He accuses them of irreligion and profaneness; he tells them that God abhorred their offerings, and would raise up to Himself better worshippers amongst the Gentiles. Then the prophet proceeds to declare the coming of a very considerable person. The passage indeed describes two persons. The messenger, and another person who, being called the Lord, and having a prophet to go before Him, must be one of the highest dignity. This same person is also called the "Angel of the Covenant." He is to come suddenly, and to come to His temple. He should make and confirm a covenant between God and men. Who may abide the day of His coining? How few will be found fit to appear before Him! He may be compared to fire which tries metals and purges them from dross, and to soap which cleanses garments; for He shall pass a just and impartial judgment upon the lives and doctrines of His people, distinguishing false opinions from the Word of God, and false appearances of holiness from true piety. He shall find religion greatly corrupted, and the priests and Levites as bad as those whom they should instruct; but He shall correct all that is faulty, and so reform the worship of God that it shall be again acceptable to Him. The day of His coming shall be destructive to the wicked. A new Elijah was to prepare His way. He was to make converts by his ministry, but not to produce a general messenger.

II. THE COMPLETION OF THESE PREDICTIONS. Jesus fulfils these predictions. He came suddenly; came to His temple; was the messenger of the covenant; was a refiner s fire; purified the sons of Levi; freed the law and the worship of God from all defects and innovations, from all that was superfluous, burdensome, and temporary. Jesus Christ arose as a Sun of Righteousness with healing in His wings. His coming was truly the great and terrible day of the Lord. The prophecy of Elijah's coming was fulfilled in John the Baptist. He might be, not improperly, said to turn the hearts of the people, and to restore all things, as he did all that was requisite for that purpose. Elias in Malachi was to prepare the way of the Lord: to turn the hearts of men, and to call the Jews to amendment: not to cause a general conversion of the Jews; to convert several and thereby to save them from destruction. John the Baptist was like Elias in his prophetic office; in living in a corrupted age; in fervent zeal; in restoring decayed religion; in rebuking vice; in suffering persecution for righteousness' sake; in offending wicked princes by reproving them for their sins; in austerity of life, in habit, and in dwelling in retired places. By the ministry of our Lord and His apostles is that remarkable passage in Malachi fulfilled. "From the rising of the sun, unto the going down of the same, My name shall be great among the Gentiles."

(J. Jortin, D. D.)

The last of prophets, who heralds the day of the Lord, is to restore the spiritual continuity between the generations of God's people; he is to bring the spiritual fathers of the race to recognise in the men of his own age their spiritual sons; he is to make the men of his own age welcome with the affection of sons their spiritual progenitors. He is to restore spiritual continuity, "lest God come and smite the earth with a curse." For breaches of spiritual continuity, that is, religious revolutions, are almost always disastrous. There are times, indeed, when God has willed nations to break with the past. But such exceptional moments we need not now consider. Breaches of religious continuity are not always permanent. The incoming of some flood of new knowledge may antiquate received statements of the current religious teaching, and the men of the "new learning" may revolt from what seems like intellectual bondage, and yet after all it may appear that what they revolted against was rather the parody of their faith than their faith in its true character, and a harmony between the combatants may yet be arrived at again, which is a victory of the faith, but not a victory to either side. There are reformations and counter-reformations; these are revolts and reactions. There are "blindnesses in part" which happen to our Israels, which may be necessary to let loose new and suppressed forces, and which may lead at last to reconciliation. There are revolts which are not apostasies. But so it is not always. There are breaches which are never healed, at least in this world. And in any case such losses of spiritual continuity are terrible evils. More and more, as we go on in life, we feel our responsibility for making the best of the heritage which the past has bequeathed to us — the heritage of Christian creed and character. Verily, we have entered into the labours of other men. How are we to get the old religion to recognise the men of our day? How are we to "turn" them from the one to the other! Let a man get at all into the heart the Christian religion, and he becomes conscious at once that what that religion corresponds .to is nothing which is changeable in human nature. Knowledge grows and past knowledge is outgrown; criticism develops, and its method alters, and a past criticism is a bygone criticism. But underneath all these developments there does lie a humanity that is permanent. The dress, the circumstances of a particular epoch fall easily off the Christ, and He stands disclosed the spiritual Lord of all the ages. The consciousness to which He appeals, the need of God, the desire for the Divine Fatherhood, the sense of sin, the cry for redemption, the experience of strength which is given in response to the self surrender of faith, the union of men of all sorts and classes in the fellowship of the Holy Ghost — this consciousness, this experience, does not belong to any one age or class. It belongs to us now as much as to the men of old. The pledge that a Catholic religion is possible lies in the recognition (in the moral and spiritual departments only) of a Catholic humanity, which may be dormant in superficial ages and men, but can everywhere be awakened by life's deeper experiences or the profounder appeals of the men of God. How then are we to play our part, in keeping unimpaired, or in restoring, the spiritual continuity of our age with the past?

1. The task is to be wrought out in the character by spiritual discipline. Christianity finds its chief witness in life, in character. All down the ages it is character which has been the chief instrument in propagating the truth. The Christian character is sonship; something which is peculiar to Christianity; much more than mere morality, or abstinence from sin. It is the direct product of a conscious relation to the Divine Father, a fellowship with the Divine Son, a freedom in the Spirit. Christian sonship is the direct outcome of Christian motives, and its chief evidence lies in itself. Certainly the chief witness for Christ in the world is the witness of Christian sonship. Here then is your first vocation — realise and exhibit the temper of sonship. It is developed by generous correspondence with the movement of God's Spirit within us, by constant ventures of faith and acts of obedience: it comes of the deliberate and regular exercise of those faculties of the spirit to which Christ most appeals, of prayer, of self discipline, of faith, of self-knowledge, of penitence. The obligation of keeping up the spiritual continuity of the generations, presses with especial force on the Church's teachers. The prophetic office of the Church consists in the permanent function of maintaining an old and unchanging faith, by showing its power of adapting itself to constantly new conditions; it is to interpret the old faith to the new generation, with fidelity to the old, and with confidence in the new. The old dogmas are to many men, and to many of the best men, as an unknown tongue. The prophetic office of the Church is to interpret the unknown tongue of old doctrine till they speak in the intelligible language of felt human wants. How is this to be done? By knowing the wants. By being in touch with the movements. There is a special sense in which the task of maintaining spiritual continuity down the generations belongs to the Christian student. Two things are necessary, as for the pastor: the knowledge of the old, and the appreciation of the new. The Christian student will study with reverent care, irrespective of modern wants, the genius of historical Christianity: making himself at one with the religion of Christ in that form in which it has shown itself in experience most catholic, most capable of persistence through radical changes, least the product of any particular age, or state of feeling. So with frankness and freedom he will study the conditions of the present. Mostly the same person does not do both these things. There is much work before us to emancipate Christianity from the shackles of mediaeval absolutism, of Calvinism, of mere Protestant reaction, and to reassert it in its largeness, in its freshness, and in its adaptability to new knowledge and new movements. We live in an age of profound transition, socially and intellectually. What is wanted is for the same people to take measure of the ancient faith, and to discern the signs of the times.

(Canon C. Gore, M. A.)

A strange and weird figure is this of the prophet Elijah, the Tishbite. A unique person, with a unique mission. John the Baptist was one of his spiritual successors, and the greatest. , perhaps, was another, and Martin Luther, and perhaps John Wesley; or, at least, these latter have been like Eliseus, catching up his mantle, baptised with a potion of his spirit. They have been the men who have accomplished the great social and spiritual revelations of the world. Rough, earnest, strong-willed men most of them, not given to mince their words or to stand upon courtesies; but they have been the men to keep alive the flame of religion, and to prevent its dying out. Mark their ages, and then compare the work of the man with the needs of his age. There were giants in the earth in those days, and people say we shall never see giants again. The individual grows less as the world grows more. Knowledge has got to be so diffused, and the elements of life so manifold, society so vast and complicated, that an Elijah whom all would recognise as a messenger from God seems impossible. The age of prophets, at least of Elijahs of the old type, has passed away. Yet, though no Elijah, there may be an Elisha; though no Isaiah, yet a Malachi. St. Paul tells us that prophecy is the highest gift bestowed by Christ upon His Church; and it is certain that all who feel that our call is to proclaim God's truth to men may well pray to be endowed with a portion of it. Whatever spiritual gifts may have been necessary or profitable to the Church at other times, I am persuaded that the gift of prophecy is the most necessary and profitable now. Men felt the difference between a Paul and a Philetus, for Paul spoke "in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." A man may well pray for a portion of this power, and for grace to use it in the noblest cause. It is not eloquence, it is not popularity, it is not the power of attracting the crowd; it is something impalpable, but most real, when men bend their wills and hearts and consciences before the uttered truth. It is strange how even educated men misread the signs of the times. This age wants, and is prepared to receive, not the priest, but the prophet: not the man who claims to stand between them and God, and says, "No access to the Heavenly Father but by me"; but the man who can teach the truth, and help them, in their blindness, and waywardness, and ignorance, to discern the way of peace and righteousness. The prophet must be in earnest, or men will not receive him as a prophet; must himself believe his message, or he will carry no conviction to his hearers. We have a message able to stir the most phlegmatic feeling, and to arouse the dullest conscience, if only we knew how to deliver it. If our own hearts have found out the secret, we can speak of present peace and joy in believing, of the kingdom of God standing in righteousness, of the nearness of a Father to us in our dangers, difficulties, troubles. There are those who can speak of these things with a strange and moving power, and their arguments will rise high above the clouds of doubt and speculation, till they seem to bring us almost face to face with God. Such men are in very truth the Lord's prophets; such teachers build on immovable ground the fabric of faith. They are sure and trustworthy guides; for they are leading men to God through grace by the ways of holiness: they have themselves travelled, or are now travelling the road; they are testifying to us out of their own experience; they speak that which they know. It is a faith thus quickened, and faith cometh by hearing," that vitalises sacraments and prayers and worship. Without such faith, all these things are dead; with it they become living, quickening powers. It is the spirit of the prophet, before all other gifts, that the Churches need to enable them to evangelise the world.

(Bishop Fraser.)

And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children
I. THE PROPHET WAS THINKING OF WHAT MAY FAIRLY BE CALLED A TIME OF TRANSITION. The passing from one dispensation, or order of things, to another. Such a period was that under Moses, when the people passed from a patriarchal to a national life. The bringing in of the only begotten Son was the greatest event of the sacred history. All that had gone before seems trivial in comparison with it. It was a change from law to grace, from a religion limited to one nation to a universal faith, from a system of rite and ceremony to one of inward spirit, But all times of great change are full of danger. They give great anxiety to all thoughtful minds. Ours is a time of transition, and the grave danger of our times is, the possibility of estrangement between the fathers and the children, i.e., between the old and the young. The fathers are disposed to be conservative; the older we get the harder we find it to receive new thoughts, or accustom ourselves to new ways. So when the fathers see the children entering on new ways, adopting new methods, forming new parties, there is a danger that their hearts should be turned away from them. and on the other hand, the young are disposed to that which is new; their minds are receptive and plastic. They are tempted to think their fathers' ways and thoughts are old-fashioned, to underrate the good of the past, and to leave their fathers behind.

II. OUR DUTY IN SUCH A TIME OF TRANSITION. There is a duty peculiar to such an age. To fulfil it was part of the mission of John the Baptist. He did much to break the abruptness of the transition from the one dispensation to the other.

1. The duty of the fathers to the children. That "the fathers should recognise the new needs, and the new powers of the children."(1) We should not repress their thoughts, though they may differ from ours. Few things are more harmful to the young than repression. Doubt and difficulty, closed within the heart, grow more and more. Bring them out into the light of loving sympathy, and they often almost vanish away.(2) Nor shall we condemn. Condemnation has often made a searcher after truth into a determined heretic.(3) Let us foster and encourage the good rather than trouble ourselves too much about the error. We are all too anxious to root up weeds. A vigorous growth in the corn will do much to weaken the growth of the weeds.

2. The duty of the children to the fathers, the young to the old. "The children should recognise the value of the institutions and traditions which they inherit from their fathers." The opinions of the fathers are certainly entitled to respectful consideration. Age should prejudice you not against them, but in their favour. Be not swift to remove the ancient landmarks.

III. OUR SAFE GUARD IN SUCH A TIME OF TRANSITION. There is a certain deep interest in this as the last word of the Old Testament. It is filled with the hope of one who should be the messenger of the Highest; but lying close behind it is the thought and hope of Him whose way should be thus prepared. We think not of the herald, but of the King before whose face he went. The true safeguard amid the perils of our day is in Christ. The young may outgrow the special forms in which His doctrine has been cast, but they cannot outgrow the Christ. Christ, rightly regarded, meets the needs of old and young. It is absurd to talk of outgrowing Jesus Christ. He is the true gathering point for the old and the young.

(W. Garrett Horder.)

The family is a radical and fundamental organisation and agency in human society. It is the original source of authority, government, morality, and religion. Without family ties, family government and discipline, family virtue and piety, the Church could not exist, and society would quickly relapse into anarchy and barbarism, and fall to pieces. Here are the roots of godliness, of self-government, of right development. Is it any marvel, then, that God guards the family sanctity and life with such jealousy, and lays upon the marital and parental relations such solemn sanctions and obligations? There is no more alarming sign of the times than the decay of family religion. And the decay is not superficial but radical, and the effects are far reaching, disastrous, and permanent. Family government is fearfully relaxed, family religious instruction is almost a thing of the past, parental restraints have come to be obnoxious, children have lost reverence for their parents, the home altar, in ten thousand households, is broken down, and the children even of Christian parents grow up without the fear of God, without Christian training and restraint, and go forth into the world, wholly unprepared to resist temptation, or to meet the responsibilities of life. We must have a speedy and grand revival of family religion, or we are doomed. Nothing else can stay the tide of religions declension, in faith and in practice, the tide of demoralisation that threatens to make a clean sweep of social integrity, of law and order, and self-government. We must heed the Divine warning uttered by Malachi, or God will smite us with a still more fearful curse.

(J. M. Sherwood, D. D.)

There are encouraging hints that the study of the young is not to be always undervalued. One is, the careful observation of child-life which men of science are beginning to make simply in the interests of science. Legislators also are beginning to see that in order to have good citizens we must educate the young. The Church needs to establish an early tutelage of her children. In the old New England meeting-house all was stately and sterile, rigid and unattractive, to the children. Notice some of the advantages of the modern method of youthful Sabbath instruction.

1. Children learn more in company than alone. It is good to see truth through the eyes of others.

2. There are elements in the Church which are brought out by the effort to discharge our debt to the young. Here is a field for lay activity. It is an inexplicable fact, that a teacher, or some one outside the family, will sometimes get nearer the child's heart than the dearest home-friend. How can we all co-operate? As this enlarging interest in childhood is the hope of the world, so the growth of this spirit of helpfulness in individual lives is the guarantee of the healthful and happy development of Christian character.

(Jesse B. Thomas, D. D.)

Malachi, in his last chapter, prepares the people for the long silence of revelation by two words, of which one is a promise, and the other a precept. The command is, to walk by the law of Moses. The promise is, that in due time the Messiah's forerunner, coming in the spirit and power of Elijah, shall usher in the solemn yet glorious day of Christ, by his preparatory ministry. This was to be the next prophet whom the Church was entitled to expect. But his work was to be prominently a revival of parental fidelity and domestic piety. The work upon fathers and mothers was to be far more than the removal of domestic alienations. It was to embrace a great revival of parental and filial piety, an awakening of parents' hearts to the salvation of their children, and the docile seeking and reception of parental instruction by the children. This revival of domestic piety and parental fidelity is necessary to prevent the coming of the Divine Messiah from being a woe instead of a blessing to men. God's way of promoting revival is, not to increase" the activity of any. public, and outward means only, but to "turn the hearts of the parents to the children. The duty of parental fidelity is equally prominent in both dispensations.

1.The old terminates with it, the new opens wire it. This is the connecting link between both. The fidelity of the parents ought to imply the docility of the children. The duties are mutual.

I. THE URGENCY OF PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY APPEARS IN A SOLEMN MANNER FROM THE NATURE OF THE PARENTAL RELATION ITSELF. Wherever human society is, there a parent is. Every human existence begins in a parental relation. The glory of the Divine beneficence towards the human race appears in this, that the parents, without alienating anything of their own immortality, are able to multiply immortalities in ever-widening and progressive numbers. Here are the two facts which give so unspeakable a solemnity to the parent's relation to his children. He has conferred on them, unasked, the endowment of an endless, responsible existence. He has also been the instrument of conveying to this new existence the taint of original sin and guilt. Can the human mind conceive a motive more tender, more urgent, prompting a parent to seek the aid of the great Physician, for dealing with the spiritual disease which they have conveyed?

II. FROM THE UNIQUE AND EXTENSIVE CHARACTER OF PARENTAL AUTHORITY. Men win be held accountable according to the extent of the powers intrusted to them. The trust is that of immortal souls. Let the extent of the parent's legitimate or unavoidable power over his children be pondered. Neither Divine nor human law gives the parent a right to force the tender mind of the child, by persecutions, or corporeal pains or penalties; or to abuse it, by sophistries, or falsehoods, into the adoption of his opinions. But this power the providential law does confer: the parent may and ought to avail himself of all the influences of opportunity and example, of filial reverence and affection, of his superior age, knowledge, and sagacity, to reinforce the power of truth over the child's mind, and in this good sense to prejudice him in favour of the parental creed.

III. BUT THIS POWER HAS SUITABLE CHECKS AND GUARDS. One is found in the strict responsibility to which God holds the domestic ruler. Another is found in the affection which nature binds up with the parental relation.

IV. THE PARENT'S INFLUENCE FOR GOOD AND EVIL WILL BE MORE EFFECTUAL THAN ANY OTHER. As parents perform or neglect their duties, the children usually end in grace or impiety. The parent has the first and all-important opportunity. Application —

1. The education of children for God is the most important business done on earth.

2. The Church-membership of the children of believers may be reasonable and scriptural.

(R. S. Dabney, D. D.)

True family government is instituted for the sole benefit of the governed. "The true end of government is to make the pathway to virtue and morality easy, and the pathway of crime difficult and full of peril."

I. THE VAST IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY GOVERNMENT. Of Abraham it was said, "He will command his children." Neglect of commanding is seen in the failure of Eli. By "turning the hearts of the fathers to the children," the text means that the chief duty of every father is to bring his children to God. In every ease where family government has been enforced the pious parents have fully realised the truth of the glorious promise, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." We may learn the importance of family government from the teachings of all the greatest philosophers and statesmen, of all ages and climes. The Greeks and the Romans, the rulers of the world, and our grander Old English and Puritan fathers, all taught and practised family government. Every pastor knows that young converts who have had no family government make as a general thing worthless Church members. The last argument on the importance family government, is the happiness of the child. An ungoverned child is a bundle of bad passions, a seething volcano of untamed and ungovernable passions, hating everybody, and hateful to everybody.

II. HOW SHALL I GOVERN MY CHILD? Lay down seven golden rules.

1. Begin, continue, and end in prayer.

2. Begin early.

3. Be tender.

4. Be firm.

5. Have no partiality among your children.

6. Let father and mother be united.

7. Imbue the soul of your child with reverence for God and right.A strong wall, and safe quarantine, may be made of four great laws. No bad company; no idle time; no fine clothes; and make home happy.

(Rufus C. Beveleson, D. D.)

With this verse the Old Testament ends. So far down had Malachi come towards the Messiah, that the East was already growing bright with His coming. He predicts the end of sacrifices, and the coming of a more glorious era. What were the words that, when the last record was ended, were to come with blessed undulations down to our time? See the text. The institution nearest to the heart of society is the family. The most important office in society is the parental office. The sphere of each family is small, but the number of these spheres is incalculable. As each drop is small, but the sea is vast, so is it in society. Families are the springs of society. Declension in religion will be found to be accompanied with carelessness in the family; and the earliest steps of religious reformation ought to take place in the family. If all the families of a nation were to reform, the nation would be reformed. All preparation for God's work should begin in the household. Many persons are for ever running round for revivals, careless of home, neglectful of children, and seeking their own pleasurable excitement, frequently in a kind of religious carnival. Any conception of religious culture and life that leaves the family out, or that is at the expense of the family, is fundamentally wrong, and in the end cannot but be mischievous. The divinity of revivals may be tested by their effect on the family. If religious excitements make home dull, and parental and filial duties and religions tame and tasteless, they may be suspected of being spurious, carnal, worldly.

I. PARENTS ARE RESPONSIBLE TO GOD AND TO HUMAN SOCIETY FOR THEIR CHILDREN. It is a responsibility assumed by every parent, to look after the welfare, temporal and eternal, of his child.

II. THIS RESPONSIBILITY IS JUST. Because God has framed the family so that nothing can exceed the advantage which parents have in rearing their children. They take the child before all other influences. None gains ascendency over the child before the parent. The parent receives the child in a condition perfectly fitted to be moulded and stamped. The child comes to us with all natural adaptations for taking impressions. It is sympathetic, trustful, and imitative. The hardest work we have to do in this world is to correct the mistakes of parents in the education of their children. The parent receives the child into an involuntary atmosphere of love, which is that summer in which all good dispositions must grow. Justice, and all other feelings, in the family, act in the sphere, and under the control, of parental love. Nowhere else is love so much the predominating element. Love is the atmospheric condition in which we are to mould and teach the child. Besides, the family is sheltered from contact and temptation and interruption. The family is the" only institution in which one can repel all invasion and all despotism from state and from meddling priests. God has nut our children into our hands with the declaration that they are His; that they have in them the germ of immortality, and that He commits them to our charge that we may fit them for the future life that is prepared for them.

III. THE DESTINY OF A CHILD RENDERS IT WORTHY OF A PARENT'S WHOLE HEART, THOUGHT, AND TIME. Your child is given to you to be brought up in the manner best calculated to qualify it for the life to come. Your supremacy over it is absolute. With such a charge it is worth while to stay at home. Sometimes mothers think it is bard to be shut up at home with the care of little children. But she who takes care of little children takes care of great eternities.

IV. WHEN A CHILD HAS GONE FORTH FROM PARENTAL CARE, PARENTAL NEGLECT CANNOT BE MADE UP TO IT. Some alleviation there may be, and some after-refuge, but there can be no complete remedy. There is no way of compensating for neglect to sow the seed at the proper time. The most precious legacy that a parent can give to a child is that throughout all its after life it should in connection with everything that a wise and true and just and pure and spiritual call to mind father and mother.

(H. Ward Beecher.)

The text is in the form of a prediction. The object and effect of Elijah s coming mission shall be what is set forth in the text, namely, to reform mankind and bring the world back to those elementary principles or institutes ordered of old for human improvement and salvation. The special mission of John the Baptist was that of a reformer. He come to preach repentance. Degeneracy and corruption were so deep-seated and universal that it was necessary to begin at the beginning; not with the church or the state or society, but with the family, the fountain of moral influence; and build up again the family constitution which irreligion and vice had overthrown. We have here, then, the Divine plan of reforming and saving mankind. This prophetic utterance has application to all ages and nations. Christianity is God's ordained instrument to plant and extend His kingdom on earth; and, contrary to the teachings of the schools and the expectations of the wise, it shall not do this by the power of the state, by the force of law, by ecclesiastical organisms, by the influence of fraternities, or by means of patronage, learning, and wealth, but by simply recognising and working the original elemental principles of society; by simply "turning the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers." The Gospel seeks to accomplish the mission of life by the power of family religion — by invigorating and purifying the family constitution, by drawing close and sanctifying the bonds of domestic affection and life, and if it fails to do this it fails of its end. Affection is the great family bond and the chief element of power in domestic life. And Christianity appeals powerfully to the affections of our nature. There is a mighty force in it to excite and purify, to strengthen and exalt our nature. A family not under a religious training and influence is a fountain of social corruption. Here are the sources of infidelity and vice and disorder, of social, political, and religious declension and overthrow. Is there a widespread corruption of morals pervading society? Depend upon it, the main and primary cause of it all may be traced up to the family. This fundamental, elementary justification is not honoured, but abused and perverted. There are three fundamental agencies by which Divine wisdom seeks to reform and save the world — the family, the state, and the Church. They sustain most intimate relations to each other. They underlie all goodness, all prosperity, all order. The family is more radical than the others, and they cannot exist without it. It is a wonderful arrangement, this division of the whole human family into little separate communities, each community a little government, a miniature world by itself — marriage the foundation, love the bond, and Divine authority the governing power. Such an arrangement, simple as it is, touches all the elementary and radical principles of human nature. The family power is the fountain of all moral power in the world. Without such an agency we cannot see how religion could ever have gained a footing in it. During all the patriarch ages the family alone preserved the knowledge and worship of God. We cannot estimate the full value of such an agency. We cannot tell all its vital bearings on the kingdom of Christ, on the world at large. Where the family power is neglected or perverted religion has nothing to build upon. The only way to build up Christ's kingdom is to make the family what it should be. The household must be sanctified. There is no agency that can be substituted for the family. It is a shallow and miserable philosophy which would set it aside, or endeavour to improve upon it. It belongs to all time, to universal humanity.

(J. M. Sherwood.)¥REM: —————————————— FOOTNOTES ————————————————————————————-¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 1, Deuteronomy

1The only material difference between the injunction and the execution lies apparently in the stones. Moses enjoins for the inscription of the Law the erection and plastering of "great stones" different from those of the altar. Joshua seems to inscribe the Law on the stones of the altar.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 2, Joel

2Note, for example, the similarity between the thought and language of Isaiah 13. and those of Joel.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 3, Amos

3It is true that the word Noqed, by which Amos designates himself, is applied in 2 Kings 3:4. to Mesha, King of Moab, - the king so interesting to us as being the subject of the inscription on the Moabite stone - applied to him as the rich proprietor of a choice breed of sheep. But Amos tells us that he followed the flock as a simple shepherd (Amos 7:14, 15). The sheep were not his possession, they were only his care.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 4, Obadiah

4It is suggested in The Speaker's Commentary that the word "this" in verse Obadiah 20 indicates the body of exiles to which Obadiah himself belonged, and of which he formed one.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 5, Obadiah

5The passage in Jeremiah 49:7-22, which is full of resemblances to Obadiah. I take for granted that Jeremiah was the borrower, and not Obadiah, because his verses are so much more elaborate and beaten out than those of the shorter prophecy.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 6, Jonah

6"It is strange that any argument should be drawn from the fact that the prophet writes of himself in the third person, Manly criticism has been ashamed to use the argument as to the Commentaries of Caesar or the Anabasis of Xenophon ... It is the exception when any sacred writer speaks of himself in the first person." - Pusey, The Minor Prophets.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 7, Jonah

7Zarepath, "a city of Zidon," our Lord says.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 8, Micah

8That is, between 759 and 679 B.C. But only a small part of Micah's prophetic activity may have fallen in the reign of Jotham; and he must have been called away from the earth early in the reign of Hezekiah, for in chap. Micah 1 he speaks of Sargon's capture of Samaria as still future, and that occurred before Hezekiah had been many years on the throne. A period of thirty years may cover all his labours as a prophet.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 9, Nahum

9Nahum's date has been placed earlier by some, who regard him as a contemporary of Isaiah and belonging to the second half of the reign of Hezekiah. But on this supposition it is hard to explain the allusion to the capture and destruction of No-Amon.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 10, Nahum

10 Assur-bani-pal is probably the "great and noble" Asnapper of Ezra 4:10. We are better acquainted with him under his Greek name, Sardanapalus.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 11, Nahum

11The last king of Nineveh was Esar-haddon II., called Sarakos by the Greeks. The fall of the city may be placed in the year 606 B.C.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 12, Nahum

12"Rich, in 1818, conjectured that the mounds of Kouyunjik, opposite the modern town of Mosul, concealed the ruins of Nineveh beneath them; but it was not until the excavations of the Frenchman Botts, in 1842, and the Englishman Layard, in 1845, that the remains first of Dur-Sargon, and then of Nineveh itself, were revealed to the eyes of a wondering world." - Professor Sayce, Assyria: its Princes, Priests, and People.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 13, Haggai

13The following is part of the inscription on the cylinder of Cyrus, lately discovered in Babylonia by Mr. Rassam: "The gods of Sumer and Acead, whom Nabonidos, to the anger of the lord of gods (Merodach), had brought into Babylon, I settled in peace in their sanctuaries by the command of Merodach, the great lord. In the goodness of their hearts may all the gods whom I have brought into their strong places daily intercede before Bel and Nebo, that they should grant me length of days; may they bless my projects with prosperity, and may they say to Merodach, my lord, that Cyrus the king and Cambyses his son deserve his favour."¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 14, Haggai

14The whole company that returned with Zerubbabel consisted of 42,360 free men, or some 200,000 free persons - men, women and children, together with 7337 male and female slaves, of whom 200 were "singing men and women."¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 15, Haggai

15That is, Darius, the son of Hystaspes.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 16, Haggai

16Other conjectures with regard to Haggai are: that he was one of the men who were with Daniel when he saw his vision "by the side of the great river which is Hiddekel"; and that he was the author, along with Zechariah, of certain of the Psalms, notably Psalm 145-148.; which in the Septuagint and the Vulgate bear these prophets' names. "Haggai" means "festive."¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 17, Zechariah

17With Assyria, for example, and with Egypt.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 18, Zechariah

18"The manifest acquaintance on the part of the writer of Zechariah 9-14, with so many of the later prophets seemed so convincing to De Wette that, after having in the first three editions of his Introduction declared for two authors, he found himself compelled to change his mind, and to admit that the later chapters must belong to the age of Zechariah." - Dr. Smith, Dictionary of the Bible.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 19, Zechariah

19Although Assyria was now merely a part of the Persian Empire, it was yet that part of it which had the most important connection with Judah. And as regards Egypt, not only had captive Jews been deported into Egypt, but the relation of Egypt as an unwilling vassal to Persia made the position of Judah precarious in the extreme during the lifetime of Zechariah." - Dr. Marcus Dods, The Post-Exilian Prophet..¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 20, Malachi

20Stanley, The Jewish Church.¥DEFINE_FOOTNOTE: 21, Malachi

21Calvin is disposed to identify Malachi with Ezra.¥END:——————————————————————————————————————————————-#REM: Copyright © Biblesoft, 2002-2010; All Rights Reserved.#REM:———————————— File History ——————————————————————————————————————————#REM: Summer 2002 - Initial creation of file from data provided by AGES to include in PCSB v3.3a by Steve Heil.#REM: March 2003 ? Changed copyright/title page for version 4.0 ? Steve H#REM: March 2003 ? Converted footnotes to use Footnote functionality & converted to use ταγσ – Στε´ε Η#REM: June 2005 ? Activated Commentary material for version 4.3. ? Steve H#REM: Summer 2006 ? Tagged Apocrypha references; converted formatting for v.5.#REM: 2002-2010 - Occasional clean-up/fixes by Steve Heil.#REM:——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-#REM:—————————————————————- Basic File Information —————————————————————-#SET_FULL_NAME: The Biblical Illustrator NT#SET_SHORT_NAME: Bible Illustrator NT#SET_COPYRIGHT_NOTICE: (from The Biblical Illustrator Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006 Ages Software, Inc. and Biblesoft, Inc.)#SET_AUTHOR: Exell, Joseph S. (Editor)#SET_VERSION: 6.0.1#DEFINE_BOOKSHELF_ITEM: WINDOW_TYPE: Book CATEGORY: Sermons\The Biblical Illustrator MENU_ITEM_TEXT: New Testament#DEFINE_SMARTREFERENCE_ITEM: WINDOW_TYPE: Book CATEGORY: Sermons MENU_ITEM_TEXT: The Biblical Illustrator (New Testament)#DEFINE_CROSSREFERENCE_ITEM: WINDOW_TYPE: Book CATEGORY: Sermons MENU_ITEM_TEXT: The Biblical Illustrator (New Testament)#DEFINE_BOOKSHELF_ITEM: WINDOW_TYPE: Book CATEGORY: Book\Commentaries\The Biblical Illustrator MENU_ITEM_TEXT: New Testament#DEFINE_SMARTREFERENCE_ITEM: WINDOW_TYPE: Book CATEGORY: Book\Commentaries MENU_ITEM_TEXT: The Biblical Illustrator (New Testament)#DEFINE_CROSSREFERENCE_ITEM: WINDOW_TYPE: Book CATEGORY: Book\Commentaries MENU_ITEM_TEXT: The Biblical Illustrator (New Testament)#DEFINE_BOOKSHELF_ITEM: WINDOW_TYPE: Commentary CATEGORY: Commentary MENU_ITEM_TEXT: The Biblical Illustrator (New Testament)#DEFINE_SMARTREFERENCE_ITEM: WINDOW_TYPE: Commentary CATEGORY: Commentary MENU_ITEM_TEXT: The Biblical Illustrator (New Testament)#DEFINE_CROSSREFERENCE_ITEM: WINDOW_TYPE: Commentary CATEGORY: Commentary MENU_ITEM_TEXT: The Biblical Illustrator (New Testament)#REM:———————————————- Text information————————————————————————————%MACRO_INCLUDE: pseudepigraphalinks.txt%MACRO_INCLUDE: ecflinks1.txt%MACRO_INCLUDE: ecflinks2.txt%MACRO_INCLUDE: ecflinks3.txt%MACRO_INCLUDE: reformationlinks.txt%MACRO_INCLUDE: puritanlinks.txt%MACRO_INCLUDE: medievallinks.txt%MACRO_INCLUDE: josephuslinks.txt%DEFINE: %END_DEFINE#SET_LANGUAGE: English#SET_DEFAULT_PARAGRAPH_TYPE: Commentary Indent#REM: ———————————————— Preface material ——————————————————————————————#DEFINE_ADDITIONAL: Title Page

THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR
New Testament Volumes

By
JOSEPH S. EXELL

Originally Published in 1887
London#DEFINE_ADDITIONAL: Copyright

THE BIBLICAL ILLUSTRATOR

Electronic Database.
Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2006 Ages Software, Inc. and Biblesoft, Inc.
All rights reserved.#REM:——————————————————- Text ————————————————————————————

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