pride, that which poets tell us "peoples hell and holds its prisoners there." The words suggest three facts in relation to pride.
I. THAT THE MOST DESPICABLE PEOPLE ARE OFTEN THE MOST DISPOSED TO PRIDE. Edom, which is charged with the sin of pride, is here described as "small among the heathen" and "greatly despised." Not only were they a small people, small comparatively in numbers, wealth, and influence, but despised. They became contemptible in the estimation of their contemporaries. Small things and small men are not always despicable, for God made the small as well as the great. It is the moral character that creates and deserves contempt. Now, small and despicable as were these Edomites, they were nevertheless proud. It is often, if not ever, so. The smaller the men the more disposed to pride. The man small in body is often swollen out with ideas of the comeliness of his person; the man small in intellect is the same. The men who rate themselves as great thinkers, scholars, authors, preachers, are invariably small-brained men. Men of great intellect and lofty genius are characteristically humble. An old writer has observed that "where the river is the deepest the water glides the smoothest. Empty casks sound most; whereas the well fraught vessel silences its own sound. As the shadow of the sun is largest when his beams are lowest, so we are always least when we make ourselves the greatest."
II. THAT PRIDE EVERMORE DISPOSES TO SELF-DECEPTION AND PRESUMPTION.
1. To self-deception. "The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee." Pride is a wonderful artist; it magnifies the small; it beautifies the ugly; it honours the ignoble; it makes the truly little, ugly, contemptible man appear large, handsome, dignified in his own eyes. It is said that Accius, the poet, who was a dwarf, would have himself painted as tall and commanding in stature. In truth, it makes the man who is a devil at heart appear to himself a saint. Witness the Pharisee in the temple.
2. To presumption. "Thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?" The Edomites are here taunted with the confidence that they placed in their lofty and precipitous mountain, and the insolence with which they scouted any attempt to subdue them. A proud man always presumes on strength, reputation, and resources which he has not. Whilst he stands on quicksand he fancies himself on a rock. "Thou sayest thou art rich, and increased with goods, and hast need of nothing; whereas," etc. (Revelation 3:17), Ah! self-deception and presumption are the twin offspring of pride.
III. THAT THE MOST STRENUOUS EFFORTS TO AVOID PUNISHMENT DUE TO PRIDE WILL PROVE FUTILE. Two things are taught here concerning its punishment.
1. Its certainty. "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord." Here these sinners are assured, by a bold hyperbole, that whatever attempts they made to avoid retribution, they would fail. If, like the eagle, they towered high into the air, far up among the clouds, nestled among the stars, and made the clouds their footstool, the fowler of retribution would bring them down. All attempts on behalf of the impenitent sinner to avoid punishment must fail when the day for justice to do its work has come.
2. Its completeness. "If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night (how art thou cut off!), would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grape gatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?" The spoliation which thou shalt suffer shall not be such as that which thieves cause, bad as that is; for these, when they have seized enough, or all they can get in a hurry, leave the rest; nor such as grape gatherers cause in a vineyard, for they, when they have gathered most of the grapes, leave gleanings behind; but it shall be utter, so as to leave thee nothing. The exclamation, "How art thou cut off!" bursting in amidst the words of the image, marks strongly excited feeling. The contrast between Edom, where no gleanings shall be left, and Israel, where at the worst a gleaning is left, is striking (Isaiah 17:6; Isaiah 24:13). Retribution strips the sinner of everything; nothing is left but sheer existence, and that existence intolerable.
CONCLUSION. Beware of pride, then. The primal cause of all sin, all pain, and all woo to come, the great fountainhead of evil, is pride. It must load to ruin. "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
"He that is proud eats up himself. Pride is
I. THE DELIVERANCE OF THE CHURCH OF GOD. Mount Zion signifies the Church, the entire mass of those who are given to the Lord Jesus Christ, and whom He has ransomed by His blood. It is remarkable that what is exhibited as the liberation of the Church is always conjoined with the destruction of some opposing power. The fact is, that the destruction of the opposing power is the means used for the liberating of the Church. Conquest in the world is triumph in the Church. Consolation is combined with liberation. Deliverance is the first and principal object which presented itself to the mind of the Lord Jesus. His death was a necessary step to His resurrection, His resurrection to His exaltation, His exaltation to the assumption of His mediatorial power. We see that Jesus Christ first fought and conquered, and then He became the liberator of the world. In the world He works liberation by instrumentality, and the great agency employed in carrying it on is the Holy Spirit. Liberation begins with Christ, but it does not end with Him; for, as He Himself obtained resurrection by the power of God, so there is another resurrection which takes place in the breast of every man who is the subject of His kingdom.
But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness.
I. Regard the text as respects MOUNT ZION. A grand Scripture type. Not only there God was worshipped, but there God Himself, as the object of worship, dwelt. Conceive of God, accepting Christ's atonement, — Christ standing as Mediatorial King on the holy hill, — the redeemed from earth actually worshipping there — and, in spirit, all true worshippers coming to God by Christ. You have thus that state of things of which Mount Zion, with its temples, its glory, its services, its worshippers, was a type.
II. WHAT SHALL BE THERE?
1. The text says, "deliverance"; marg. reads, "They that escape." Two aspects of the same subject. Where do they come that flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them? To Christ on this Mount Zion. They escape for their lives, — come to Him, and He casts them not out. They have "deliverance" therefore. Pardon, spiritual freedom, and blessedness.
2. Then "there shall be holiness." An undoubted truth, the penitent sinner, coming to God in truth, by faith, for pardon, is made holy, becomes a new creature. Justification and sanctification thus connected; the favour, and the image of God. Real holiness; — holiness of life, as well as of heart; — growing holiness. Nor is it anywhere else. They who will not come to Christ may sometimes have human virtue; they cannot have Divine holiness. Look at this mount. Oh, the blessedness of dwelling there. Well fortified, well supplied. God is there. You live in peace. He is preparing you for the higher blessings. There is the heavenly Zion. Only they pass to it who on earth dwelt on the spiritual Zion.
II. THE GRAND EFFECT WHICH THE TEXT SETS FORTH. "There shall be holiness." The mount of deliverance is always the mount of holiness. Another name for holiness is spiritual health. Bring the whole to this one point, that the test of state is character; that wherever this holiness is met with, there the deliverance that has been effected on Mount Zion by the Lord Jesus is applied, and there the liberation that the Spirit of God works in the souls of His people is likewise brought to pass.
III. THE PRIVILEGES TO WHICH THIS EFFECT LEADS, AND FOR WHICH IT PREPARES. "Shall possess their possessions." Canaan for the earlier saints. For us "the inheritance of the saints."
(John N. Norton.)
Homilist.I. A BENEFICIENT POWER.
1. It is connected with deliverance.
2. With purity.
3. With enjoyment. Possess here means, enjoy their possessions.
II. A CONSUMING POWER. There is a fire in the true Church (ver. 18).
1. The characteristics this fire displays. What is the fire? The fire of truth, that burns up error; the fire of right, that burns up wickedness; the fire of love, that burns up selfishness. It is a strong fire; an extending fire; a steady fire; an unquenchable fire.
2. The materials this fire consumes. "Stubble." What is moral depravity in all its forms, theoretical and practical, religious, social, and political? "Stubble." Error to truth, wrong to right, malice to love, is but stubble to fire.
III. AN AGGRESSIVE POWER. The Gospel is at once the inspiration, the life, and the instrument of the true Church.
1. The elements of which the Gospel is composed. "Grace and truth," or eternal reality and Divine benevolence. To show the aggressiveness of these principles, state three facts.
(1) (2) (3) 2. The proselytising spirit which the Gospel engenders. Every genuine recipient of the Gospel becomes a missionary. 3. The triumphs which the Gospel has already achieved. Such thoughts as these tend to demonstrate the essential aggressiveness of the true Church. (Homilist.)
(2) (3) 2. The proselytising spirit which the Gospel engenders. Every genuine recipient of the Gospel becomes a missionary. 3. The triumphs which the Gospel has already achieved. Such thoughts as these tend to demonstrate the essential aggressiveness of the true Church. (Homilist.)
(3) 2. The proselytising spirit which the Gospel engenders. Every genuine recipient of the Gospel becomes a missionary. 3. The triumphs which the Gospel has already achieved. Such thoughts as these tend to demonstrate the essential aggressiveness of the true Church. (Homilist.)