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and my God. ... For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness"could have no fellowship with that cold heartless service which was around them. “Who is there among you that would shut the doors for nought?" and how true is all this in our own day! How much of the religion around us would fall to the ground, were it not upheld in the same way:
“Doth Job fear God for nought?" is Satan's taunt. This is not the case with them that love God. There is something truly lamentable in the condition of Israel. How must those who loved and honoured their God, have mourned to see his table rendered contemptible! What special regard had ever been paid to the sacrifices which God had required—the firstlings of the flockthe lamb without blemish. Even Saul attempted to justify his sin, when he said, “ The people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord thy God;" but now the torn, the lame, and the sick were offered unto the Lord. Our hearts shrink from the thought that God's name should be thus dishonoured; and yet
how much this resembles the evil of our own day, too. Where do we find the full appreciation of the character of our God? The divine holiness of His name, that perfect righteousness, which could rest satisfied in no offering-could accept no ransom-but the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. The heart that is true to God will be sensitive to all that would dishonour His holy and ever-blessed name -alive to aught that would lower the dignity of the person and work of the Lord Jesus : every thing that is dear to the Lord is dear to him;--that which glorifies Christ his heart unites in, in the spirit of the apostle“Whom having not seen we love." There are evils so gross, under the name of Christ, that even the world can expose them and war against them. This is a day of strife-system against system ; but, amidst it all, how little tenderness is shewn as to what is well-pleasing to God. The priests of old were alone entitled to bear the ark of God. Broken hearts healed by divine grace, through the precious name of Jesus, and in-dwelt by the Spirit of the living God, are they alone that can appreciate what is acceptable to God. When gross corruptions, abominable cruelties, and idolatries were prevalent, as in the days of Ahab and Jezebel, the rough hand and stout heart of Jehu were used of God. But the place of testimony required tender hearts, hearts in communion with God, when Malachi prophesied. Right thoughts of God will regulate His worship; communion with God gives an elevation to those who realise it; walking with God will keep us out of the world's religion. Nothing else will. The Lord keep His children—those whose hearts have been brought out to bear peculiar testimony for Him--and strengthen us to hold on.
May we remember those words, “If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." We live in a day when self-complacency in evil, is as strikingly manifest as at this period of Israel's history. There seems little or no conscience towards God left; men struggle with evils, but not as those who sought, in the fear of God, to please Him, but as those who have their own objects to obtain, their own systems to uphold.
Jealousy for God's honour, and for this alone, is true testimony in an evil day;” and where the Spirit of God leads on the testimony, it will take its character according to the state of things against which it is borne. The comfort of those who feared the Lord was, that they were owned, fully owned in their service by God; and that when the day of reckoning came on that which they had left, the word of the Lord to them was, “they shall be mine in that day when I make up my jewels." "Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye
go up as calves of the stall."
forth and grow
" THEN they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord,
and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.”Malachi iii, 16-18.
Daniel, Chap. v. It is no uncommon weakness in the child of God, that the non-reception of the truth by others leads him to question it. Aroused to the apprehension of the coming of the Lord, he is chilled by the torpor and indifference of those about him. This sensibility to external impression may arise, because walking too little in the power of individual communion. The Spirit's witness through the word is the fullest persuasion; and we depart from His guidance when the heart asks for collateral testimony. But the word of God has obvious teaching in this respect. “ All scripture is given by inspiration.” The antediluvian world was heedless of the preaching of Noah.
They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all." So in Sodom, when Lot went out and spake unto his sons-in-law, which married his daughters, and said, “Up! get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons-in-law” (Gen. xix. 14). Indifference to the testimony of God, and the warnings of His word, betokens the proximity of judgment. We who believe in the speedy advent of our Lord, will do well to take heed that nothing from without, or even from within, distract the attention from the solemn cry, “ Behold, the Bridegroom cometh !” The warning brought many into active service, and drew them outside the camp, bearing the reproach. The word reached their consciences. They sought to be prepared. But fellowship has its snares as well as its blessings. Much of joy, and no little of danger. Individual energy may give rise to corporate fellowship; but the latter may decline into individual apathy. “Association may deaden, as well as revive. The position which God gave to many of His people in
our day, was taken when escaping from a chaos of confusion. They had light, and a measure of faith, and this insured a blessing. Sympathy of soul with others about the Lord (unless the eye is kept single), may degenerate into sympathy with one another, and unity occupy the soul instead of the object of union; and thus individuality be crushed for a season-conscience seared, and the torpor of others, affect ourselves. "But the word of God is quick and powerful.” Blessed that it is so!
It is a solemn narrative which is brought before us in the judgment of Belshazzar. A tragic drama in human history! Portraying in vivid colours the careless world on the brink of ruin. Ages have rolled on in unbroken succession, striking events have occurred in the annals of mankind; but so concise à narrative of haughty pride, on the verge of destruction, is hardly paralleled.
Belshazzar bad positive warning, and this was disregarded. “A more convenient season" (Acts xxiv. 25), is the plea of some; a pressure of engagements, the apology of others. Sudden destruction is the doom of procrastination. “Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed ” (Prov. xiii. 13). The habit of good may be gradual in attainment, the habit of evil gradual in its development; unlooked-for results occur in both. " Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing?" At one time, we may blush at the thought; at another be hardened for the act. Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sins."
The prophet Daniel brings home to the conscience of Belshazzar, that he had slighted reproof and scored instruction. In verses 18 and 21, God's dealings with Nebuchadnezzar are noticed, and the summary in verse 22," And thou, his son, O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this." How effectually does this short notice unravel the history! How it recalled to remembrance the marvellous dealings of the God of Israel with his predecessor on the throne, in the person of Nebuchadnezzar! Surely the chart of his life was retraversed in that moment of agony. How quickened his memory! How vivid
the past! The mysterious ways of Jehovah! His singular power! His arm of protection thrown over his captives in Babylon! In bondage, yet occupying a palace! Hated
Hated and despised, yet respected and powerful! Mixed up with the nation, yet dwelling alone! The seed of the patriarchs, expelled their inheritance, because they had broken God's covenant, yet preserved and exalted because of God's promise! Gorgeous splendour surrounded the youth of Belshaz
The Chaldean empire, with Babylon for its capital, had just reached the zenith of its glory. A succession of conquests, under renowned leaders, and the permission of God in His providence, had brought the then known world, to the feet of the dynasty of Babylon. The head of gold was significant of this. Doubtless the education of Belshazzar had regard to his position and destiny. Near the root of this greatness, events were sufficiently green in man's memory to rouse emulation. A stirring time gives birth to active energies. The symbols of empire and trophies of victory had not faded with age.
Power was consolidated; and the struggle to obtain it, unforgotten as yet, and remembered to give joy, amid the security which success had accomplished. The empire was won, and won for Belshazzar.
Imagination has no place in the records of Scripture. The facts are so full they occupy space in the heart of a man, and colouring them is only to crowd in what is needless. Yet the youth of Belshazzar, and his mind in his youth, would not lack culture. Chaldean historians would bring before him the records of his race, and their contests with Israel Stern battles had been fought, victories won, and defeats sustained. Sudden panic in the moment of triumph! A summons to halt, in the same breath with the charge to advance! Mysterious power destroying whole hosts in a night! This and far more, the prince
would hear in his boyhood, and Eastern colouring would give a charm to the narrative. Then, there was the cleansing of Naaman the leper, the siege of the prophet in Dothan, the defeat of Sennacherib, and the midnight alarm of the Syrian camp in the days of Ahab. Men can afford to amplify danger, when they