Oh, that the salvation of Israel would come from Zion! When the LORD restores His captive people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.
|A Fool Indeed||A. Roberts, M. A.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|An Infidel Silenced||A. T. Pierson, D. D.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|Atheism||J. H. Hitchens. D. D.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|Atheisms and Atheisms||George Dawson, M. A.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|Belief in the Being of God||R. Palmer, D. D.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|Conflict Between God and the Wicked||C. Short ||Psalm 14:1-7|
|Infidelity Illogical||The Young Man||Psalm 14:1-7|
|Is There a God||W. R. Graham.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|On the Atheism of the Heart||J. Jamieson, M. A.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|Practical Atheism||F. Wayland.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|Practical Atheism||S. Charnock, B. D.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|Practical Atheism||N. W. Taylor, D. D.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|Religion and Materialism||R. N. Storey, D. D.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|Right Views of God's Government||W. Forsyth ||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Being of a God||T. Mortimer.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Character Reasonings, and Folly of the Fool||George Townsend, M. A.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Creed of Atheism||D. Merson, M. A.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Depravity of a Godless World, Viewed by God||C. Clemance ||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Existence of God||S. Charnock, B. D.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Folly and Impiety of Infidelity||R. Shittler.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Folly and Wretchedness of an Atheistical Inclination||J. Balguy.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Folly of Atheism||R. South, D. D.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Folly of the Fool||J. O. Keen, D. D.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Fool's Denial of God's Existence||John N. Norton.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Heart Speech of a Fool||F. Tucker, B. A.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Moral Condition of Mankind||Homilist||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Practical Atheist||J. J. Stewart Perowne, B. D.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Practical Denial of God the Root of All Evil||A. Maclaren, D. D.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Unreasonableness and Mischief of Atheism||W. Talbot, D. D.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|The Withered Heart||Joseph Parker, D. D.||Psalm 14:1-7|
|Theoretical Atheism||F. Wayland.||Psalm 14:1-7|
This psalm is given us twice - as the fourteenth and the fifty-third. It is one of those which assumes a revelation of God as a redeeming God, and also the existence of a redeemed people of God. And by way of consequence it assumes the necessity of a Divine redemption in order to bring about "the generation of the righteous." This could only have come about by Divine grace and by Divine power. Hence the very manifest distinction noted in the psalm between "the children of men" (ver. 2) and the people of God (ver. 4). The central part of the third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans is a commentary on this psalm by one of the most richly inspired penmen. When God saw, as with his all-piercing gaze he looked down from heaven, that among "the children. of men" there was absolutely not one righteous, no, not one - manifestly, a "generation of the righteous" could never have existed save for a gracious redemption and regeneration from above. And while the Apostle Paul develops from this description of the world, man's absolute need of a Divine interposition, we, in expounding the psalm itself, must work distinctly on its own lines, showing the state of things in the world on which the eye of God rested, and also how far that state of things exists in it still. The expositor must also take up the Christian standpoint, and show when and for what purpose the Lord looked down on such a sight.
I. A FEARFUL SIGHT ON WHICH "THE LORD LOOKED DOWN? To what precise period of time the psalm refers, we have no means of knowing; nor at what exact period it was written. This, however, is of no consequence. Every point specified here can. be verified now.
1. The depravity of man had vented itself in the most egregious folly, even in the denial, of God. There is ample room for the Christian teacher to expose the folly of such denial quite irrespectively of his theory of creation, be it the evolutionary one or no. Either way, the
(2) cosmological, and
(3) ontological proofs remain the same;
in fact, the teleological proof is receiving abundant and amazing illustrations in modern discovery; so much so that its power again and again "overwhelmed" Mr. Darwin himself. The argument in Paley's 'Natural. Theology ' may need resetting, but in substance has lost none of its force. While Mr. Herbert Spencer's statement, that we know with undoubting certainty that there is "an infinite and eternal Energy from which everything proceeds" is one of which the Christian advocate may make large and effective use. That there is a God all Nature cries aloud in all her works. And not till a man is a "nabal," "a fool," a withered, sapless being, does he come to deny the Divine existence. Such denial has, however, not yet ceased. On the contrary, it has assumed in our days a boldness not even contemplated by the psalmist himself. There is
(1) practical atheism, where men profess to know God, while in works they deny him;
(3) theoretical atheism, and even anti-theism;
(4) and in some of the works of positivists, it is even reckoned as a virtue for men to have no fear of God before their eyes I
2. Such atheism is the most striking and grievous folly.
(1) It is irrational.
(2) It is corrupting.
(3) It breaks out into abominable acts.
(4) In the course of its evolution, it makes aggressions on and even mocks at theology, religion, and religions people.
(5) It will gradually dry up entirely the springs of social virtue. It may not do this in the first generation, if the denier of God has first been cast by early Christian teaching in the mould of social morality and goodness; but let generation after generation of atheists arise, and it will be seen that when the ties are snapped which bind men to their God, the ties which bind man to man are cut asunder as well!
3. Such atheism is fearfully widespread among "the children of men. None that did understand, that did seek God." It is common among
(1) the irreligious;
(2) the free-thinkers;
(3) philosophers, under the guise of philosophy;
(4) scientific men, under the guise of science. The fact is, atheism is of the heart, not of the head. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked," and turns the very arguments which prove the Divine existence into an excuse for denying it! Its cry is, "Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us!" How grievous and terrible a sight is a world like this! How loathsome to infinite purity, when men are altogether become unprofitable, when there is "not one that doeth good, no, not one." Every expression in the psalm should be critically examined: they are all "gone aside;" they are all together become "filthy," "stinking," "corrupt," etc. There is a marvellous variety of words in the Hebrew for moral corruption. Nowhere in the whole world was the sense of sin, as sin, so deep as among the Hebrews. How was this? It will be seen how it was when we study our second question.
II. WHEN AND FOR WHAT PURPOSE DID THE LORD LOOK DOWN ON THIS MASS OF EVIL? The meaning of the psalmist could not go beyond the range of his inspiration and enlightenment. We live in a later age; the light is brighter now than then; and therefore the preacher will fall short alike of his privileges and of his mission, if he does not open up from this point more truth than it was possible for the psalmist to know.
1. In an early stage of the world, God looked down on it to punish its iniquity. The Deluge. Sodom and Gomorrah. The desolations which have come on Egypt, Babylon, Tyro, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Philistia, Jerusalem. And when great calamities come, the most irreligious men become the greatest cowards. "There were they in great fear, where no fear was."
2. God looked on the wickedness of the sons of men, and resolved to call out therefrom a people for himself. (Cf. Isaiah 51:1, 2, Hebrew.) God called Abraham; and how his people became a family, a tribe, and a nation, the roll of sacred history records. And it is owing to this that the psalmist refers to "the generation of the righteous" (ver. 5), in distinction from "the children of men" (ver. 2). Hence it is and has ever been the case, that, however prevalent the depravity of men may have become, there have ever been some trusting hearts who have found their refuge in God.
3. God instituted a priesthood and sacrifices to instruct his people in the dread evil of sin. The whole Levitical institute means this, and nothing less than this. The Law was a "child-guide," which took men to school, and taught them that nothing was right with men till they were right with God.
4. God established a prophetic order, which should declaim against sin. (See Isaiah 59:1-20, specially the fifteenth verse.) The mission of all the prophets was to speak for God, and uphold his claims before the people. And as they prophesied, God's treatment of the world's sin was being unfolded, as we see in the chapter from Isaiah to which we have just referred.
5. In the fulness of the times, God sent forth his Son, who by his death should atone for sin, and who by his Spirit should conquer sin. This, then, is like a God. We might have expected, from the psalmist's words, that God would take vengeance on the sinner and crush him. But no. He is a just God and a Saviour; condemning sin and saving the sinner (Romans 3.).
6. God has created in the hearts of his own a yearning after salvation and righteousness, which is in itself a prophecy of God's ultimate triumph over sin, and of a time when the anguish of his people shall give place to joy (ver. 7)! These desires of the holy are prophetic germs. The aspiration in the closing verse of the psalm is one the fulfilment of which has been going on ever since, and will, till the Redeemer who has come out of Zion shall have completed his saving work. - C.
? — Religious people are concerned to know, for their own comfort, whom God will receive at last into His own tabernacle above.
Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? I.
CONSCIENCE INFORMED. It is quite true that the workers of iniquity seem like brute beasts, as if they had no common sense, no conscience; but they had these gifts, and it is this fact which renders their conscience so dark.
1. We sin against our understanding. Our reason protests against sill.
2. We sin against conscience. Our moral sense echoes the words and thunders of Sinai, and protests against transgression.
3. We sin against experience. Our history shows how all that is desirable and honourable lies in the path of obedience, and how paths of transgression are paths of misery and shame. Sin is not a mistake or a misfortune, but a crime.
II. CONSCIENCE ASLEEP.
1. Asleep as to men (ver. 4).
2. Asleep as to God. "Call not upon the Lord." Thus men stifle their moral sense, and live neither fearing God nor regarding man.
III. CONSCIENCE AROUSED (ver. 5). Men awake to find that "God is in the generation of the righteous." All is true that the righteous held, and the angry God is ready to avenge Himself on the proud sinner.
Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle?
The ideal worshipper of Jehovah is painted in this Psalm in a few broad outlines. The tone of the Psalm accords with the circumstances of the time when David brought the ark to Jerusalem. The two main points are: the conception of the guests of Jehovah, and the statement of the ethical qualifications of these. The Psalmist consults the Master of the House as to the terms on which He extends hospitality, which terms it is His right to prescribe. The character of the God determines the character of the worshipper. The roots of ethics are in religion. The Old Testament ideal of the righteous man flows from its revelation of the righteous God. Not men's own fancies, but insight gained by communion with God, and docile inquiry of Him will reliably tell what manner of men they are who can abide in His light. Ver. 2 sums up the qualifications of Jehovah's guest in one comprehensive demand, that he should walk uprightly, and then analyses that requirement into the two of righteous deeds and truthful speech. True, the ideal here is not the full Christian one. It is too merely negative for that, and too entirely concerned with acts. Therein it reproduces the limitation of the earliest revelation.... Usury and bribery were common sins, as they still are in communities on the same industrial and judicial level as that mirrored in the Psalm. The Psalmist, in the last verse, clearly recognises that such a character as he has outlined not only dwells in Jehovah's tent, but will stand unmoved though all the world should rook. Righteousness is the one stable thing in the universe.
The qualities which are required of one, not who visits the tabernacle merely, but who dwells in it, — not who ascends the hill only, but rests on it, — are those of an ordinary citizen, those without which a man cannot fulfil any of his common duties in the world. Nay, the qualities are chiefly negative. It is not said that he must be brave, magnanimous, ready to sacrifice himself. He is not to be corrupt in his life, not to take reward against the innocent, not to lie. One of the conditions reads as if it were drawn merely from the civil code of the nation. We have talked as if people might be very good in all relations with their neighbours, and yet not be servants of God. They must be something over and above true citizens for this. But the Old Testament books never teach this. They say boldly, "You are not honest and straightforward in your dealings, and so you think God is the same with you. You do not trust Him. You do not confess your sins to Him, nor draw nigh to His holy hill." And has the New Testament altered this? Does it teach another lesson? No doubt there is this, that it teaches more perfectly how we may rise up out of our old evil habits; how God has revealed His righteousness in Christ for the remission of sins. But He has revealed His righteousness, and no unrighteousness call have fellowship with Him. Christ is our help to this righteousness, that we may share His nature. Now, do we agree to this? Then let us rejoice and sing; for Christ has ascended on high, that we might be delivered from our old evil life, and that we might possess a righteous life in Him. But if this is not what we want, if we want a religion that will make us easy and comfortable in the frauds which belong to our different crafts and professions, — if the shopkeeper lifts up his voice loudly in the denunciation of Popery or some unpopular opinion, that he may more securely and with less sense of self-reproach adulterate his goods, and use the false weight and the deceitful balance, which are abominable, — then we ought to be told, one and all of us, that the hill of Sinai, with all its thunders, is not more terrible than the Zion on which God dwells; that the New Testament is not more but less tolerant of such practices than the Old, and that God will appear as a swift witness against our crimes and falsehoods. And this not because we are wanting in some transcendent qualities which men have dreamed of as befitting a Church, but because we have those qualities which are the death of nations. But many look upon the nation and the Church as scarcely compatible, indeed, as mostly the opposites of each other. No doubt that with the theory of some in regard to the Church they are opposites. But a nation is pledged, to maintain a wholesome, practical, manly morality, entirely opposed to that morality of "touch not, taste not, handle not" which a Church such as I have described must by its nature favour, and has always favoured in fact, — a morality consistent with the grossest deviations from common truth and honesty. And I solemnly conjure Protestant assertors of individual holiness to see well to it that by their teaching they are not hindering the great protest against idolatry which is involved in the very existence of a nation; whether they are not substituting certain capricious and artificial maxims for the homely morality of the Bible, and whether thus they may not be preparing their sons for that very system which they most dread. But, on the other hand, I would maintain that a holy Catholic Church, in its truest, widest, deepest sense, does lie beneath the holy and righteous nation; that they are not contraries, but that one is the vestibule to the other; that each is the support of the other; that this Church is no imaginary utopian society, no artificial society, but a real society constituted in Christ our ascended Lord. Thus the ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father, that He might fill all things, is the meeting point between these two Divine principles, these two human societies. In it we find the consummation of all the expectations and hopes of the old world, that in it we might find the beginning of all that is purest and holiest in the new.
I. ABIDING IN GOD'S TABERNACLE. Or, dwelling upon His holy hill. We understand these expressions as meaning God's residence in heaven. Who, then, shall dwell with God in glory everlasting? Let us take heed to our ways, and walk with care and endeavour, by God's grace, to make our calling and selection sure, that so an entrance may be ministered unto us abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
II. IN ANSWER TO THIS EARNEST INQUIRY. Those who walk uprightly, and work righteousness, and speak the truth in their hearts. An heir of heaven walks with God as reconciled to Him, and walks uprightly, i.e. sincerely and honestly. If we work righteousness we must have a principle of righteousness implanted in us by the saving grace of God. The expression, "speaking the truth in the heart," is strikingly singular. It shows that people may speak the truth, and yet the heart not love it; but all Christian believers are inwardly what they appear outwardly.
()This is a question by David propounded. Consider —
1. Who demandeth, David, the man of God, seeing the wonderful hypocrisy of men in frequenting the holy assemblies, and making a pretence of religion, being stirred up with singular love to true religion, inflamed with a fervent zeal to God's glory, burning with earnest desire to know the true saints from dissembling hypocrites, and demanded this question — "Lord, who shall dwell in Thy tabernacle, who shall rest in Thy holy hill?
2. Of whom he demandeth. He flieth unto God, because it passeth the knowledge of men, who only look into the things apparent and outward. The Lord alone can sunder the wheat from the chaff, the tares from the wheat, the grain from the cockle and darnel. It is the Lord who is Father of all the whole family, which is named either on heaven or on earth, which is His Church; it is the Lord that is the chief Governor and Ruler of His house, which are His subjects; it is God alone who keepeth the Book of Life in the closet of His own heart, wherein He hath registered all His saints. It is the Lord, and not men, which pitched the tabernacle and testimony of His presence. It is the Lord whose property and prerogative it is by right to know the heart. It is the Lord whose eyes are upon all His creatures.
3. What is demanded. By "tabernacle" here some understand the Church militant. By the "hill of God" they understand the Church triumphant. The question then is," Who shall I make some reckoning of, to be Thy Church visible and militant?"The Church of God militant here on earth is compared to the tabernacle, and to the holy hill of God.
1. To the tabernacle. This Moses reared. As the tabernacle was pitched here and there, and removed from place to place, so the Church militant hath no certain rest in any appointed place, but is now in this place, now in that, at the appointment of the Lord. As in the time of the ark and tabernacle, God there showeth Himself and His glory unto the people, so doth the Lord reveal Himself in the Church and Assembly of His saints, there declaring His glory. As the Lord promised by Moses to dwell in the tabernacle, and there to walk and be conversant with Israel His people, so does Almighty God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son, our Saviour, dwell in the Church which is His immaterial tabernacle. The Church and Assembly of God's saints is called the House of God, because He dwelleth therein. The Church militant is also compared unto a hill or mountain.
1. For the allusion that it hath unto Mount Zion, in Jerusalem, being Mount Moriah, where Abraham would have sacrificed his son Isaac. This hill was a type of the true Church, among whom God dwelleth forever.
2. The Church may be called a hill or mountain, for the height, altitude, and lifting up thereof.
3. And for the open sight thereof.
4. In regard of the strength and stayedness, the Church may be called a mountain, for the hilly and high places are most strong and most impregnable. The Church is called a "holy hill," because God hath sanctified it and made it holy for Himself, because in the Church the Lord giveth manifold testimonies and signs of His holiness, and because the Lord taketh the defence of His Church into His own hands.Doctrines . —
1. See how great the hypocrisy of man oftentimes is in the pretence of godliness.
2. The prophet flieth unto God in the discerning of the true saints from hypocrites. However apparent things may be known unto men, hidden things belong only unto the Lord.
3. Learn not to play the hypocrite.
4. When we lack wisdom we should flee unto God for instruction.
5. Learn the state and condition of the militant Church. It is but as a tabernacle.
6. In this world the saints must not look for any rest, continuance, or certain abode.
7. We must not forsake the Church of God because of afflictions and troubles.
8. Who shall rest in the holy hill of God? The Church militant rejoices in the hope of happiness to come.
9. There is no true and sound rest save in the holy hill of God.
()Unto this mountain, if we should ascend but in thought, as Scipio once did in his dream, and from thence should behold the earth, we should easily contemn this inferior world with the desires thereof. For the whole globe of the earth, together with the water, which seemeth now so great unto us, if we could see it from the highest heavens, would appear unto us like a mote in the sun. But if withal we felt the unspeakable joys of heaven, and from thence should cast down our eyes unto this valley of tears, there to behold the vanity of vanities, as Solomon saith, it cannot be expressed with how fervent a desire we should be inflamed to have our habitation in heaven. Peter, when as he was present in the transfiguration of Christ in the Mount Tabor, and had a taste of the heavenly glory, he was straightway ravished therewith, and desired greatly to remain there. "Lord," saith he, "it is good being here, let us make three tabernacles," etc.
()Our abode in the mountain of God is expressed in the word "dwelling," whereby two things are signified, perpetuity and rest. Perpetuity, for there the children of God remain not as pilgrims for a time, but as citizens and heirs forever. Whereupon the kingdom of heaven is also called an heavenly inheritance, wherein are everlasting habitations, and an inheritance immortal and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us. Again, the word "dwelling" importeth rest. For there the children of God do not wander as pilgrims, neither are subject to any molestations, but do wholly rest from their labours. And for that cause the kingdom of heaven is called the rest of God, and as it were an eternal Sabbath. In respect whereof the land of Canaan was a type of our heavenly country.
()Man is a mirror, and it is an all-important matter which way the mirror is turned. If downwards, it can reflect only earthly things, — the mire, the dirt, the filth of the earth; if turned upward, it may reflect the heavens, with all its glory of sun, moon, and stars. The mirror turned downward is the carnal mind, the mirror turned upward is the spiritual mind. Sometimes in an instant of time the inversion is accomplished, and he who before was of the earth earthy, comes to discern and reflect the things of God and heaven.
()Question: Who is the man who would be able to ascend unto that hill of God where the highest visions of the Almighty may be perceived? The answer is: The man whose life is blameless. All that follows is a description of the moral qualifications of such a man. What is striking in the Psalm is the moral principle which seems to underlie it. There are laws in the spiritual kingdom, and the Psalmist gets a glimpse of these spiritual laws, and he makes them the subject of his poem. The law here is this, that the condition of power in life, and the condition of the vision of the Almighty, is to be found in the ethical or moral considerations. It is the man whose life is blameless, the man whose character will bear investigation, the man whose whole being and nature are animated by a strict regard of what is morally right and true, that comes by degrees to this possession of strong invincible character, and that capacity for seeing the highest things of God. There is no idea here that the Psalmist can purchase the vision of God by the payment of so much good done. To do that would have been to vitiate the whole moral basis of the idea; for if a man seeks heaven for profit he is not, of course, a heavenly-minded person. Morality and spirituality must be genuine and sincere if they are to be moral or spiritual things at all. What the Psalmist does set forth is this, that the conditions of this insight and power of life lie, not so much in the possession of intellectual force as in the possession of moral capacities. There is a constant tendency to confuse religion with theology. Theology is only the scientific expression of the ideas which are incorporated in religion. Religion itself is quite different. A man may be religious who has very small theological opinions. Our power of seeing Divine things does not depend so much upon our moral integrity as upon our spiritual devotion. Religion is a moral sympathy between the soul of the creature and the spirit of the Creator. It is the moral sympathy between you and me in this world and the great God who put us into this world. That is what is said in the Gospel of St. John, "If any man will do His will," — if a man has a moral desire to follow out the Divine ideal in his life, if his soul is in sympathy with the Divine moral earnestness, then he shall be able to understand; he will gain a perception of the meaning of God's action, and the vision of God which would otherwise be denied him. Observe the wonderful way in which the same thought underlies the great creation of the Italian poet. This Psalm is a sort of "Divine Comedy" in miniature, for it exactly expresses the thought which Dante had in his mind. What are the conditions, according to Dante, in which a man can enter into the vision of the great paradise over his head? He must have understood evil, and seen it in all its hideousness, and must have overcome and climbed that steep of purgatory, disciplining by degrees the moral defects in him, until at last, when he climbs to the summit of the mount of purgatory, he is the immovable man, the man who is crowned with crown and mitre, as god over himself. And only when that is achieved, when that moral sincerity is at last made a real thing in him, is he capable of ascending under the guidance of Divine truth into the lofty regions of paradise. This is exactly the same thought. What an enormous source of joy that ought to be to the human heart. Let us remember that we have within us a Divine Spirit that is constantly prompting us to higher things.
()Religion is not a far-off, but a pressing and everyday affair. The very humblest of mankind may be the greatest saint of God. It is only small and ignorant natures which shrink from lowly tasks. Nothing can be ignoble which a noble purpose glorifies. In this Psalm you have the things necessary for the man who may claim the high blessing of God. What are they. Strange to say, they are precisely those things that we should demand of the ordinary English gentleman, of the ordinary English tradesman, of the ordinary English working man. Mere morality, you may say, and for the most part, negative morality. David does not say he was to be brave, magnanimous, self-sacrificing. He only says that he must not be a liar or a slanderer, or one who wrongs others, or takes rewards against the innocent. You may be tempted to say, surely David puts the scale too low! Had, then, David a less overwhelming sense than we have of the High and Holy One who inhabiteth eternity? If you think in that way to get over the difficulty you are mistaken. But is it really so small a thing to keep innocency and do the thing which is right? The New Testament speaks, over and over again, identically the same language. David's truth, and the truth of Christ Himself, is, that those who desire to be one with God, everyone who nameth the name of Christ, must, as the first essential, depart from iniquity. You cannot escape these conclusions by saying, "Yes, Christ spake these things before, and not after, His great work was finished, and would have preached otherwise if He had preached after His resurrection." If you make that answer you subject yourselves to the overwhelming refutation of Scripture. See the Epistle of James, the Lord's brother. See also the loftiest and most spiritual of St. Paul's Epistles, that to the Ephesians. If you would rest in God's holy hill this is quite certain, you must keep innocency, and do the things that are right.
()The Psalm consists of a question and an answer. David asks the question. He was a good mall, concerned for his own soul. He asks it of the Lord, for He is the infallible Teacher and Law-giver. He asks it in Old Testament terms, speaking of the tabernacle and the holy hill of Mount Zion. The doctrine arising from the words is this — It challengeth everyone's most serious consideration what sort of persons, sojourning with God here, shall be inhabitants of heaven hereafter. Therefore let us —
I. SHOW WHAT IS IMPLIED IN THIS CONSIDERATION.
1. That all shall not be inhabitants of heaven; some will perish. For all the sons of men will not be saints in heaven. There will be a great company on Christ's left hand at the great day, doomed to everlasting fire (Matthew 25:41). And many of those who are now about the tabernacle will be a-missing in heaven (Matthew 7:21-23). To see those who had not the tabernacle of God among them fall short of heaven is not strange; but many who in external privileges have been exalted to heaven will be brought down to hell (Psalm 125, ult.).
2. They are persons of a distinguished character now who shall be inhabitants of heaven hereafter. Not of the common gang of the world, nor of professors either. Many professors are foolish virgins, that will get heaven's door cast in their face (Matthew 25:2-4).
3. In this world they sojourn with God in His tabernacle who shall be the inhabitants of heaven hereafter. The world is no more their home. They are in a peculiar manner consecrated to God and His service (Romans 12:1). All Israel had access to the outer courts of the tabernacle, but the priests only to the tabernacle itself. They are admitted to communion with God in ordinances. And they will enter heaven because they are born from above.
II. THE REASONS WHEREFORE WE SHOULD THUS SERIOUSLY CONSIDER WHO SHALL BE THE INHABITANTS OF HEAVEN.
1. Because there is a heaven and a hell, and all must land in one or the other.
2. And the laws of heaven admit only such as are qualified for it.
3. None who are capable of such considerations will ever see heaven without it. The work of grace begins here (Lamentations 3:40).
4. If we miss heaven we are ruined eternally.
III. APPLICATION OF THE SUBJECT.
1. Consider of it fixedly and solemnly.
2. With application to yourselves.
3. And practically that you may set yourselves to strive for heaven.
4. Divinely, as in the sight of heaven. For remember, heaven is not plenished but with chosen people (2 Corinthians 6:17, 18). Hell receives all comers, but not so heaven. None can come there but sealed ones, such as God has marked for Himself (2 Timothy 2:19). And separated ones from the sinful world (1 Corinthians 6:11; Matthew 25:32). As your life is here, so will it be there.
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