They made their hearts like flint and would not listen to the law and the words that the LORD of Hosts had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of Hosts.
I. GERM. The question is - Self or God, our own will or God's will. Must be settled. Pressed by prophet after prophet. The answer shows the state of the heart. "Refused to hear."
II. PROGRESS. There is growth in evil, as in good Stages. "First the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear."
1. Wilful refusal. "Pulled away the shoulder." Sinners will not submit to be guided by the higher will. Angry and fretted, they will not bow to God's yoke.
2. Insolent rejection. "Stopped their ears." Warnings and counsels are in vain. Pride rises to insolence. Refusal, to determined opposition and rebellion.
3. Settled obduracy. (Ver. 12.) This implies a steady process. The bad is more and more gaining the mastery. Every fresh victory brings the time nearer when the evil becomes "unconquerable" (Greek adhamas).
III. CONSUMMATION. (Ver. 13.) The end is come.
1. Ruined character.
2. Blasted life.
3. Hopeless future.
Oh! where is that mysterious bourne, "How far may we go on in sin? "An answer from the skies is sent,
"How far may we go on in sin? "An answer from the skies is sent,
"An answer from the skies is sent,
Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone
I. THE DISUSE OF THE HARD HEART.
1. Of the symptoms or nature of it. It discovers itself in a wayward temper, a pride and stoutness of heart against God, particularly the calls of His providence, and the admonitions of His holy Word. This is the genuine character of wicked men. God is not in all their thoughts. They extinguish the remains of natural conscience. In an inflexibility against the word of truth, and the ordinances of religion. The inflexible adamantine heart defeateth the gracious designs of the Gospel. It is inflexible to the motions of God's Holy Spirit. And this is the crowning sin. He knocks by the motions of His Holy Spirit, yet the hard heart refuseth to give Him admittance.
2. The different kinds of this disease.(1) There is a natural hardness: a part of that natural corruption, that original guilt and inbred poison of our nature.(2) There is an acquired hardness of heart. There are those who voluntarily strengthen themselves in their natural disobedience, and reject the counsel of God against themselves. How careful we should be to form our hearts for the Redeemer; to open those gates that the truths of the Gospel may be admitted.(3) There is a penal hardness of heart. There is a degree above voluntary hardness, as voluntary hardness implieth something above natural. In Scripture God is said to harden men's hearts in two ways — by leaving them in their natural state; and by giving up to a reprobate mind.(4) This hardness is either in part or in whole. Some complain of hardness and insensibility, as the present frame and temper of the soul. What contributes so much to hardness of heart in believers is, their giving too great scope to carnal delights. These may be tasted, but a large draught intoxicates.(5) This hardness of heart is severely felt by the genuine disciples of Jesus. It is neither felt nor complained of by carnal and wicked men. But to be past feeling is a sure symptom of death, as well spiritual as natural. There is no life without feeling.Learn —(1) From this view of the human heart, the character of the real Christian.(2) That nothing short of the teachings of the Holy Spirit have ever proved sufficient to affect the heart with a practical sense of the vileness of sin and its own hardness.(3) Learn what that sacrifice is which is most acceptable and pleasing to God.
3. The causes of this spiritual malady.(1) Ignorance. The blind mind, the obstinate will, and hard heart, inseparably accompany each other.(2) Unbelief. The most powerful arguments and most engaging motives of our holy religion are brought from things unseen. Unless we feel the powers of the world to come, neither the joys of heaven nor the terrors of utter darkness will properly work on our fears or encourage our hopes.(3) Custom in sinning hardens the heart.(4) Hypocrisy. This dangerous character appears to consist of two branches: dissimulation, by which we deceive others; and formality, by which we deceive ourselves.(5) Pride. As in the case of Pharaoh. Pride is at the bottom of every vice.(6) The deceitfulness of sin. Sin deceiveth by general invectives. By delays. By coming plumed in the feathers of profit, or pleasure, or honours, or preferments. By presenting herself in a coat of many colours, especially in making her address in all the charms of sensual pleasures. She attacks the soul in Jacob's voice, and in an angel's form. Sin, by continuance, increases upon the soul. In hardened sinners, vice prompts men to presume upon impunity.
II. THE CURE OF THIS SPIRITUAL MALADY.
1. Serious and frequent mediations on the perfections of the Divine nature, especially His glory and power.
2. Faith in the great doctrines of the Gospel is a sovereign remedy for the most inveterate disorders of the soul.
3. Faith in Gospel ordinances is another sovereign remedy.
4. Faith in the great atonement made by our exalted High Priest is another absolutely necessary ingredient in the cure of the adamantine heart. The dignity and infinite excellence of this sacrifice will appear from its Divine appointment; from the nature of the sacrifice itself; from its noble and infinitely precious fruits; from those vast multitudes who have been saved by this sacrifice.
5. Another ingredient towards the cure of the hard heart is a proper knowledge of the guilt and demerit of transgression. The smallest deviation from the Divine law is entailed with the curse.
(E. N. Kirk.)
Christian Herald.I was on a visit lately at a country village. The first morning I was there, I was awakened very early by the sound of a horn blowing, which continued for about a quarter of an hour. It disturbed me every morning, at the same hour, and on speaking of it to my friends, they assured me that I would soon get accustomed to it, and it would then cease to disturb me. And so it proved. I could soon sleep on undisturbed, though the horn blew as usual. In a spiritual sense I think this is the most dangerous state into which a man can fall. When they hear the Gospel preached to them at first, they seem to waken out of a sleep, and get disturbed and uncomfortable; but if they do not take advantage of what they hear, they get accustomed to it, and by and by can listen to any Gospel sermon without being moved by it. Such a man's state is worse than at the first, for God's Spirit has ceased to strive with him.
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