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and so they brought themselves under this fearful woe, and abode still under the curse of the law which they had broken, which was now executed upon them.
And we see that Jesus here convicts the unbelieving professor of the Gospel, of the breaches of that very law in which he trusted. “When thou sawest a thief, then thou consentedst with him, and hast been partaker with adulterers." This does not refer to the outward breaches of the law only, but to the inward breaches of it also. A thief in this sense then is one who robs God of His glory, which all unconverted men do. “How can ye believe,” said Jesus, “which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, you would have believed me: for he wrote of Me." And Moses we see is here brought forward as a witness against them. “All that ever came before me,” saith Jesus, “are thieves and robbers : but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” “He that entereth not by the door into the sheep fold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.”3
And the very same persons whom the Lord here designates as thieves, He likewise addresses as adulterersspiritual adulterers. But what is spiritual adultery? Is it not the worship of a false God, a God of our own devising, whether bodily or spiritual? and is not this always associated more or less, with symbolism, and sensuousness in religion? and with what our Reformers called “the superfluous decking of Churches?” And this is quite consistent with worldliness, nay with utter worldliness ? nay, is it not
1 Malachi iii. 8.
? John v. 44-46.
3 John x. 8-10, 1, 2.
the very bringing of the world, ay, of the heathen world, into the outward visible church of Christ itself (as we shall see farther on)? “Ye adulterers and adulteresses,” saith James, “know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God”L—the very sin with which Jesus here charges them, “thou hatest instruction, and castest My words behind thee.” Yes, God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” “The Father seeketh such to worship Him."? And how is it possible for anyone to worship God in spirit and in truth, who is not “ born of the Spirit ?”
But the Lord has a further charge against them, “ Thou givest thy mouth to evil, and thy tongue frameth deceit. Thou sittest and speakest against thy brother; thou slanderest thine own mother's son.” When a man has received and believed in error as truth, when truth is presented to his mind, he naturally rejects it as error. When likewise he has taken a false view of God's Covenant, as for instance, when he has rested his soul's salvation upon the lying assumption that, because, as he supposes, he has been baptized by what is called an apostolically ordained priesthood, he has received the Holy Ghost in his baptism, and has thereby become a child of God, he naturally denies the work of the Holy Ghost in another, because he has no such work to shew in himself; and then he naturally falls to slander this work, and him also in whom it is being carried on; and whenever he has the power he invariably persecutes him likewise. This has been found true in all ages of the world, from Cain and Abel downwards : and as soon as sin entered into the world, the Lord said to the tempter, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed."3 “But as then," says Paul, “he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the spirit, even so it is now.' Yes," all that will live
1 James iv. 4.
3 Genesis iii. 15.
John iv. 24, 23.
4 Gal. iv, 29.
godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." And here we see that Jesus fastens this sin upon the false professor, and convicts him of it: for what is done by the unconverted to Christ's people, Christ reckons as having been done to Himself. “He that heareth you heareth Me; and he that despiseth you despiseth Me."2 “I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest.” “Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these My brethren, ye did it not to Me."4 Moreover as these words will be spoken by the Lord “ to the wicked” “immediately after the tribulation of those days” during which the saints will be “hated of all nations,” and will be “betrayed” by false brethren and relatives, and “ delivered up to be afflicted” and “killed,” we see how terribly applicable they will be to those who have so acted."
And now the Lord lays bare “to the wicked ” all the hidden recesses of his heart, and gives him the fullest reasons for his condemnation. Here is divine instruction for him. Oh that he had received it before, while the day of grace lasted: but then he persistently refused it, and wilfully rejected it; and now it is too late to profit by it! “Lord, when Thy hand is lifted up, they will not see: but,” he says, “they shall see, and be ashamed for their envy at the people ”—he means the Lord's people.
“These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself.” Here the Lord, we see, convicts him also of the sin of “ idolatry,” which unconverted men are loth to believe to be a "work of the flesh," and that it exists therefore in all hearts by nature. “ Thou thoughtest (i.e., because I kept silence, and did not reveal Myself,) that I was altogether such an one as thyself.” “The carnal mind," we are told in Scripture, “is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God." Hence the soul “must
1 2 Tim. ïïi. 12. Luke x. 16. 3 Acts ix. 5. 4 Matt. xxv. 45. • Matt. xxiv. 29-31 ; 8-13; Mark xiii. 12, 13; Luke xxi. 16, 17. € Isaiah xxvi. 11. ? Gal. v. 20. Rom. viii. 7, 8.
be born again,” “ of the Spirit,” and have true “faith in Jesus Christ," before it can please God : for “without faith it is impossible to please Him;"l and "all men have not faith.' The generality of mankind do not, however, think so, because they know not their hearts by reason of the deceitfulness thereof. Nay, they think the contrary. Nevertheless, it is but too true. Men form a notion of what they conceive to be God, against which they are not at enmity: because this notion agrees with their nature, (for what man can form a notion, independently of himself, which is contrary to his nature ?) and they therefore delude themselves into the belief that they are not at enmity with God. Hence this notion varies in different individuals, and frequently in the same individual at different times: whereas God Himself is unchangeable. But against the God of the Bible, i.e., God as revealed in the Bible, as a God of infinite holiness and inflexible justice-attributes which are contrary and even averse to their nature—they are at enmity, and they shew it plainly by their acts. And here Jesus fastens this sin upon him, and "reproves,” or convinces him of it, setting all “ in order before his eyes.” And now the flashing sunbeam from the Divine glory goes down into the very depths of his being; and thus are the counsels of” his “ heart “made manifest” even to himself; and all his "hidden things of dark
are “brought to light !”4 0, professor of the Gospel of the grace of God! if thou namest the name of Christ," and "departest not from” thine “iniquity;” thou mayest here see thy doom, no matter how exalted thy profession, or how clear soever thy views of divine truth may be !
And now the Lord, in conclusion, as in the last Psalm, here also adds a few words of exhortation, founded upon these truths, both to the unconverted as well as to the converted.
To the unconverted He says :—“Now consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none
i Heb. xi. 6.
3 Jer, xyii. 9.
52 Tim. ii. 19.
to deliver.” It is Jesus, the loving, the tender, the merciful, the compassionate Saviour who speaks these words : for “ the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world,”1 will at His second coming appear as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.” “Consider this.” Stop, poor sinner, stop and think. “O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” This is the reason why so many sinners perish. “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider." You see it is for want of consideration that people do not know. When, under the teaching of the Divine Spirit, men begin to consider, they then begin to hear, and hearken and obey: for“ faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” O consider this, ye that forget God, lest Jesus have to tear you in pieces; and then there will be none to deliver you. When once the master of the house hath risen up, and hath shut to the door, the day of grace will have ended.
But Jesus has a word likewise to the converted—a last kind word to His own dear people. “Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.” True praise can only be offered up to God by one who has been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, and whose sins have been forgiven him for His name's sake : and therefore it is offered up in the name of Jesus, and it glorifies Him as the alone source and channel of all these blessings to the soul. It is the new song, which can only be learnt by the redeemed. The Psalmist says of God, “He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God.”6 And of the redeemed before the throne it is said, “they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign over the earth." And it is
Isa. i. 3.
John i. 29. s Rom. I. 17.
? Rev. v. 5. 6 Psa. xl. 3.
3 Deut. xxxii. 29.