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the spoilers, who track our steps, and parted from him. He is a type of give us no peace (H. E. I. 4603-4612). thousands who have been spoiled
II. Sin robs us of liberty. Under through sinful indulgence of their the plausible pretext of giving us moral power. This result is brought liberty, it takes it from us.
about in a gradual, imperceptible way, ii. 19.) Men think that by indulging just as a disease may for long have its evil desires they wider the bounds of seat in the system before it reveals their freedom, but soon they find them- itself outwardly; but meanwhile the selves degraded slaves (H. E. I. 4482- man's strength is declining. The sin 4484). They think it a fine thing to you indulge may be unknown to the to be allowed to do as they like, but ere world, but there will be a something long they become the captives of their in your life and demeanour which will sinfullikings. We all know the enchain- betray a hidden weakness, a waning ing power of habit. Sin is a hardening
power, a flagging zeal (H. E. I. 4491thing, but it is also cunning, deceitful, 4495). insidious (Heb. ii. 13).
Surely in IV. Sin robs us of sensibility. A vain is the net spread in the sight of long course of wickedness deadens the any bird,” but foolish man rushes into moral sense, makes men think lightly the net. He harbours the thief who of sin, and even disregard the divine will plunder him of his choicest trea- threatenings and judgments (ver. 31). sures, and deprives him of his liberty. What spiritual blindness sin has He dallies with the deceiver, till he is wrought! what gross insensibility! fast in its clutches. Priding himself The fire closes round him, yet he cares on his freedom, he finds it only a free- not. God contends with him, but dom to do evil, a freedom from law, conscience is so seared and deadened while he has lost the power of doing that nothing can rouse it. See, then, good. Milton speak of those
what sin can do. It can so rob and “ Who bawl for freedom in their senseless
spoil us as to leave us destitute of any mood,
feeling to which either God's love or And still revolt when truth would set them wrath can appeal.
These are some of the treasures of License they mean when they cry Liberty !”.
which sin robs us. It opens so many III. Sin robs us of moral power
doors by which spoilers enter. The and influence. Righteousness is bold, theft may be perpetrated in a stealthy, fearless, strong; but disobedience is secret way, so that for a time the sinweak and cowardly. A holy and ner is not aware of his loss, nay, may upright life is an influence for good. be deluded with the notion that he is The man who
walks with God, a gainer, and not a loser ; but soon the who is much with Him in secret deception is discovered when he finds communion, reflects the heavenly that for a few glittering toys he has rays that fall upon his own soul, bartered
his choicest endow. and becomes a light and a guide to ments, that the prowlers whom he others. But once admit sin into the never suspected have made off with heart, and his moral power is so far his most precious treasures. Our sublost. He no longer looks with re- ject presents a true picture of man's proving eye on the sins of other men, state ; but a man may be robbed and for he has allowed the spoiler to enter not be aware of it. Some precious his own heart and to sap his spiritual article may be surreptitiously taken strength. Take Samson as an ex. from his house, and not be missed for ample. Revealing to his temptress the a long time. So it is with the unsecret of his strength, and suffering awakened sinner. He knows not that his locks to be shorn, he thought he he has been harbouring thieves who might go forth as at other times and have carried off his substance and shake himself free of his assailants; robbed him of his spiritual possesbut he wist not that the Lord was de- sions. If he set any value on these
things, he would soon see his destitu- But can the stolen goods be retion ; but, pleased with trifles, he covered ? So far as human help goes knows not his loss (Rev. iii. 17). we are helpless ; "none saith, Restore.”
Our first need, then, is to be con- But there is One who can arrest the vinced that we have been robbed and spoiler and bring back the lost treaspoiled. Reflect, 0 sinner, on the
If stung by the nettle, you state to which Satan has reduced you, have not far to look for the leaf that the prey which sin has made of you. eases the pain (ver. 21). Christ has said, Look up to God—no peace, no com- “Restore : stop thief,” and invites us munion, but a sentence ready at any to the enjoyment of the dignity and moment to be carried into execution. riches we have forfeited (Rom. v. 1; Look into your own heart, where cor- Col. i. 20; Rom. iii. 22-26; John viii. ruption is weaving its cords around 32; Gal. v. 1; Zech, xii. 10).-William you.
THE SUBJECTION OF THE JEWS AN ADMONITION TO THE WORLD.
xlii, 23–25. Who among you will give ear to this ? &c. I. The desolation brought upon the dren !”—and on them it hath been. Jews. Terrible. Sent upon them by This is the awful curse under which God. Defeated after their rejection of they are now drooping and groaning the Messiah. It continues to this day. (H. E. I., 143).
II. The justice of the sentence that is IV. An appeal arising out of this gone forth against them.
awful dispensution as applicable to ourIII. Their insensibility under these selves. The whole history of the Jews judgments. They do not see the sen- is intended to be an admonition to us. tence which, in evil hour, their own Sharing in their sins, we shall certainly ancestors pronounced against them : share in their chastisements.-R. C. “His blood be on us and on our chil- Dillon, M.A.: Sermons, pp. 72–103.
DEADENED BY SIN. xlii. 25. And it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart. One of the most evil results of sin is, not whether we regard the judgment that it hardens and deadens the soul. as a special interposition of God or as When persisted in it goes beyond the a natural result of sin, the doctrine is stage of arousing anxiety and alarm; frequently illustrated in human expeit stupefies and benumbs, so that a rience. All sin carries with it a fire man gets“ past feeling.” What a that burns the sinner ; yet we see inpitiable object does he become who stances in which the sinner has been
so under under the influence of previously so hardened that he lays it poison that he is no longer bimself! not to heart, and the fire goes on burnFire burns him, yet so insensible is ing him. E.9.,he, that where a healthy man would 1. The fire of Covetousness takes be active in self-defence, he lays it not hold upon some men. The just desire to to heart (H. E. I., 4535, 4540). We secure a fitting recompense for honest take the meaning of the text to be, effort is here distorted into a consumthat the corrupt part of Israel had ing fire of avarice. How seriously become so depraved by their sins that it deadens all the higher faculties of they were not to be roused even thongh their nature. Selfishness is the centre they witnessed the judgments of God of their life, and there they live in the inflicting upon the nation the just midst of one raging desire, the desire penalties of their rebellions : “they for possessions, to the exclusion of laid it not to heart." It matters God and divine things. Ponder this picture of insensibility as drawn by he can look upon it all with astonishing Christ's own hand (Luke xii, 15-21). indifference. The fire burns him and
2. The fire of Lust does deally his, yet he lays it not to heart. damage upon others. Here the lurid
These instances suggest many
others. fames of unholy passion obtain the How fearfully true it is that men can mastery where God's temple should be live in such flames as these, and not (1 Cor. vi. 19). The powers of body lay it to heart. and mind sink down in de basement They remain insensible-1. To all under the tyranny of this ruinous vice. Warning. 2. To most Impressive Ex
3. The fire of Intemperance has a amples in the fate of others, 3. To destructive hold upon tens of thou- most Agonising Convictions which now sands. And how insensible its vic- and then haunt even themselves. tims become! Draw the too well CONCLUSION.—Where fire is conknown and familiar picture of a cerned, prompt, earnest, and wise drunkard's life, and a drunkard's attention is the duty of the moment. home. Health, property, reputation, If there be some feeling left, begin comfort, all drop away : wife and fa- with that, and lay hold of recovering mily are debased ; yet, whilst poverty help.-William Manning. and ruin are creeping over the scene,
CHEERING WORDS FOR THE AFFLICTED.
xliii. 1-3. But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, 8c. These cheering words were aldressed expected and strange, and far more by God to His peculiar people the Jews; severe and bitter than any they have but He has a peculiar people now, and previously experienced. all who partake of their faith and love II. How suitable and encouraging may consider this Scripture as written is the exhortation which is here adfor the purpose of imparting comfort dressed to us : “ Fear not." and strength to their troubled hearts. 1. The power and greatness of Him It suggests four subjects for considera- from whom it proceeds gives to it a tion: the afflictions to which the people force which it would not otherwise of God are liable; the exhortation ad possess. It comes from the only Bedressed to them; the promises by which ing in the universe who can bless a it is strengthened ; and the arguments sinner, or whom he has cause to fear. by which it is enforced.
2. The natural tendency of our trials I. Compared with the miseries they is to excite fear. This fear may
be innohave deserved, or with the weight of cent; it may lead us to avoid them, if glory reserved for them, the afflictions God will, and if not, it will move us of God's people are light (H. E. I. 3703, to circumspection and prayer. Such 3704); but in other points of view, they a fear our Saviour manifested in Gethoften appear sharp and heavy. The semane. text implies, 1, that these afflictions are 3. But there is a fear of another certain; that they not only may come, kind, and this we are here called on but will come. It speaks of them as to lay aside: a fear which is the effect things of course (H. E. I. 47–55, of unbelief, and the cause of mur3674). 2. That they may be great ; murings, despondency, and wretcheddeep as rivers, dangerous as rapid ness; a fear which temps us to choose torrents. 3. That they may be greatly sin rather than afliction, which prediversified. They may be in the vents us from praising God under our waters to-day, and may have deli- trials, and from trusting Him to bring verance, but tomorrow they may have is out of them, to walk through the fire and the III. This exhortation God supports flame; to endure trials which are un- and strengthens by two most gracious VOL II.
promises. 1. He promises His own down by violence, or worn away by presence with us in our trials.
storms (Ps. cxxxviii. 8 ; 1 Pet. iv. 19). thou passest through the waters, I will 2. The Almighty draws another be with thee” (H. E. I. 198–202,3677). argument from the property which He 2. He promises us preservation under all has in His people and the manner in which our calamities. “When thou passest He acquired it. “Fear not, for I have through the waters I will be with redeemed thee; I have called thee by thee; and through the rivers, they thy name ; thou art mine." We are shall not overflow thee; when thou His by redemption also. And what a walkest through the fire thou shalt not mighty price did He pay for us ! He be burned, neither shall the flame gave “Egypt for the ransom" of His kindle upon thee.” What does this ancient people, “Ethiopia and Seba imply? That our trials shall not injure for them.” But when we were to be us. In proportion as they tend to redeemed, kingdoms and empires were become temptations, grace will be too poor a ransom (Rom. viii. 32; Acts mmistered to us, and they shall not xx. 28). Hence He estimates us, not overthrow us. Nay more; the very by what we are, but by what we have calamities which appeared likely to de- cost Him. Will He abandon that stroy every spiritual grace within God's which cost Him so dear? (Zech. ii. 8). people, to overwhelm their patience, 3. The covenant which God has formed their confidence and love, are made the with His people ensures the fufilmentof His very means of displaying and brighten- promises. * For I am the Lord thy ing them all (H. E. I. 204-214). By God, the Holy One of Israel, thy calling the suffering graces of His people Saviour;” thus implying that He has into exercise, He will render them in- entered into some engagement with vincible. He will enable them to pass His Israel; that He considers Himthrough rivers of trouble as safely as self bound to be with them in their His beloved Israel passed through the troubles and distresses ; that His own Red Sea, and cause the fires of afflic- veracity and faithfulness are at stake, tion to play as innocently around them and would be sacrificed if Israel were as they played around His three ser- forsaken or injured. vants in the furnace at Babylon.
REFLECTIONS. 1. How rich in con IV. In the greatness of His conde- solation is the Word of God! 2. How scension, God vouchsafes to add to essential to our happiness is a knowledge His precious promises several argu- of our interest in the divine promises (H. ments to assure us of their fulfilment. É. I. 306-308). 3. How full of con
1. The first is drawn from the fidence and praise ought they to be, who relation in which He stands to us as live in the enjoyment of the divine presence our Creator. “ Thus saith the Lord in the hour of trouble! It is tranquillisthat created thee, O Jacob, and He ing and sweet to have a beloved friend that formed thee, O Israel.” He near us when our sorrows are multicreated us naturally, and has re-created plied upon us, but what is the preHis people spiritually (ver. 21 ; Eph. sence of the dearest earthly friend, ii. 10). Here, then, is a solid ground when compared with the presence of of confidence. The Father of our a sympathising God! 4. How blind spirits must be well acquainted with to their own interest are they who reject our infirmities and weakness (Ps. ciii. the gospel of Christ - Charles Bradley: 13, 14; Isa. lxiii. 9). Neither will He Sermons, vol. ii. pp. 266-285. ever forsake the work of His own hands. He raised us out of the ruins of the Fall, made us temples in I. The most eminent piety, the which He delights to dwell and be most exalted privileges, form no worshipped ; and He will never suffer ground of exemption from the heaviest the structures which He has erected at trials.—God, by His prophet, in this so much labour and cost to be thrown chapter multiplies descriptions of the character and dignity of His people, tremble at entering an unknown world, and yet in the same breath speaks not knowing what you shall meet there! of the severe trials that await them. “It is no matter what I shall meet The people of God have had to pass there,' was her answer; 'He hath said, through severe trials; not merely to when thou passes through the waters, i hear about them, &c., but to endure will be with thee!" (H. E. I. 198, 3677). them. Abraham (Gen. xxii. 2). Jacob 2. Enough to sanctify the calamities to (Gen. xxxvii, 32). Martha and Mary
Martha and Mary the promotion of our highest interest (H. (John xi. 1, &c.)
E. 1. 215, 3696-3701). 1. Let us not presume upon exemp- III. The promise of support is as tion from them (H. E. I. 234-236, 3361, certain as the trial is inevitable 3674).
(Numb. xxiii. 19). “I will be with 2. Let us not wonder if trial increases thee,” &c. Apprehended, this promise in weight and severity. This may be induces resignation, prayer, commitintimated in the text-waters, rivers ; ment to God, hope. --Samuel Thodey. fire, flame. There is an ascent in the path of suffering, a graduated scale I. The character of the people to of sorrow. Trials are proportioned whom this promise is made. “Jacob,” according to our strength; to our miss- “ Israel.” II. What God ha: done for ing the improvement of former cala
them in time past; or what are the mities; to our insensibility to chas- steps which He has taken to make tisements (Amos iv.)
them what they are.
He has created II. The supports which God fur- them; He has redeemed them ; He has nishes are equal to the utmost emer- called them by their names.
Therefore gency in which we can be placed. He calls them His; “ Thou art mine." “ I will be with thee." Enough ! III. What He promises to do' for them
1. Enough to temper the excess of trial, in time to come.- Daniel Rees: Ser. and to enable us to bear up under it. The
mons, pp.136–156. text engages that the trial shall not reach beyond a certain point : "they We have here God's redemption, shall not overflow thee.” Our sup
Our sup- calling, and adoption of His people ports shall be in every way equal to set forth as a ground of fearlessness our necessity. Mr. Cecil says: “I in danger, and of comfort in the season shall never forget the encouragement of greatest distress.—Charles Neat : when standing by the dying bed of The Protestant Preacher, vol. iii. pp. my mother. I asked her, 'Do you not 383-390.
GROUNDS OF CONFIDENCE IN GOD.
xhii. 1, 2. But now thus saith the Lord, &c. 1. Here we have four distinct deration of God having formed them ; grounds of confidence in God. their relation to Him renders their Our creation : “ Thus saith the Lord rebellion against Him an incalculable that created thee, O Jacob, and He evil (H. E. I. 4488–4489). A man that formed thee, O Israel ; fear not." must be renewed and reconciled to 2. Our redemption : 6. For I have re- God before his creation can be judged deemed thee.” 3. Our calling : “I a proper ground of confidence in Him. have called thee by thy name. 4. But it should be rested on by those Our adoption : “ Thou art mine." Are who have received the atonement. Is not all these the very strongest grounds it possible that He who made you, and of confidence in God ?
whose forfeited favour as your Creator 1. Shall we not trust in Him who has been restored to you, can ever created us? The ungodly indeed can leave you or forsake you? Shall He derive no confidence from the consi- become the Father ví your spirits,