Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty.
(J. Skinner, D. D.)
I. THE FATAL CONSEQUENCES OF ANARCHY. Of these we may be convinced, by viewing the greatness of the blessings which anarchy destroys. Happy the prince, happy the people, when lawful government is well established, wisely administered, duly honoured, and cheerfully obeyed! The persons, characters, and properties of the innocent are protected; good order is preserved; and the duties of every different situation, employment, and rank are faithfully discharged. The political body is healthy and safe. Distinguished genius and penetration, improved in wisdom by careful attention and long experience, are as eyes to the community: while the hands of the mechanic and labourer supply its necessities. These blessings are interrupted when the power of such a government is suspended; and, when it is destroyed, they cease. Anarchy, by levelling all ranks, transgresses a great law of nature, and of the God of nature; and stops a chief source of social happiness. Where abilities, dispositions, situations, and enjoyments differ, power and influence cannot be equal. A land, where there is no order, is a land of darkness and of the shadow of death. A community, which hath no eyes and guides, must wander and perish in the paths of destruction and misery.
II. THE SOURCES OF ANARCHY, in rulers, or subjects, transgressing the laws, and neglecting the maxims, which reason or revelation prescribes, for securing the happiness and peace of society.
1. Anarchy is occasioned by violating the laws which prescribe patriotism, public spirit, love of liberty, and regard to the rights of mankind.
2. Neglect of the maxims of wisdom, taught by reason or Scripture, is sometimes the immediate, and sometimes the remote, source of anarchy.
3. Anarchy is occasioned, and the power of preventing or removing it diminished, by rulers and subjects transgressing the precepts of industry and frugality.
4. Anarchy is occasioned by neglect of the laws of reason and revelation, which prescribe peaceableness and union. Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation.
5. Anarchy is occasioned by transgressing the great laws of religion. Religion produces the most perfect union: for it inspires, with the same general principle of action, supreme regard to the glory of God, unfeigned affection to our neighbour, and a willingness to sacrifice, whatever in its own nature opposes, or, through peculiar circumstances, becomes incompatible with these.
(J. Erskine, D. D.)
I. THE NATURE OF THE CALAMITY WHICH SHOULD COME UPON THE LAND — the emptiness or desolation of the earth. This is one of the rods which God holds over the heads of people, to make them stand in fear of Hun (Leviticus 26:19; Deuteronomy 28:38).
II. THE AUTHOR OR EFFICIENT CAUSE OF SUCH DESOLATION is God. It does not happen by say blind chance.
III. THE MEANS OR SECOND CAUSES whereby God makes a land waste. Pestilence, sword, fire, unseasonable weather, noxious creatures, etc.
IV. THE MERITORIOUS CAUSE (ver. 5).
(W. Reading, M. A.)
And it shall be, as with the people, go with the priest.
Homiletic Review.The minister makes the people and the people make the minister.
I. THE MINISTER'S INFLUENCE.
1. As a preacher and teacher — upon the conceptions of truth and duty, the understanding of the Word of God, and the practical conduct of the people.
2. As a man, in his own example and life.
3. As a pastor, in his pastoral intercourse with his flock.
4. As a public leader of reforms, etc.
II. THE PEOPLE'S INFLUENCE.
1. In getting him audience. Giving him their own ears and attention and gathering in others.
2. In making him eloquent. Gladstone says, "Eloquence is pouring back on an audience in a shower what is first received from the audience in vapour."
3. In making him spiritual. They can encourage him to spiritual growth and culture; to earnest and edifying preaching. They can pray for him and help him to feel that they want and wish only spiritual food.
4. In making him a power for good. says, "Truth is what a thing is in itself, in its relations and in the medium through which it is viewed." Goethe says, "Before we complain of the writing as obscure we must first examine if all be clear within." In the twilight a very plain manuscript is illegible. So the attitude of a hearer largely limits the power of a preacher; the cooperation of a Church member may indefinitely increase the effectiveness of a pastor's work.
(R. W. Dale, LL. D.)
As with the buyer, so with the seller.
(R. W. Overbury.)
I. POINT OUT SOME OF THE EVILS BY WHICH THE RELATION BETWEEN BUYER AND SELLER IS VIOLATED. This relation is violated by every violation of those two important principles that lie at the foundation of all society — justice and truth. Justice consists in giving everyone his due; and truth or veracity in keeping our engagements, and avoiding lying and dissimulation. These principles and the relative duties arising out of them are violated —
1. By the practice of any and every kind of fraud in the transaction of business.
2. By the contracting of debts without any reasonable prospect of being able to pay them.(1) But what is an individual to do who in the course of regular business finds himself, through the fluctuation to which every branch of trade is liable, insolvent at the end of the year? If he be a man of an honourable character and standing in trade, he will not want friends who are willing to lend him a sufficient sum to extricate him from his present difficulties, and to enable him to make a fresh trial under the blessing of God to succeed in that line of business which he has hitherto followed. But if, after having renewed the attempt, Divine providence does not see fit to succeed his endeavours, then from a false shame of appearing what he is in worldly circumstances before his fellow men, to keep on in business till he involve many others in ruin is most unjustifiable.(2) Further, if an individual who has failed in another's debt, should at any future time possess the means of paying his debts, we hold it that justice requires that he should so pay them.
3. Another way in which the relation between buyers and sellers is violated is, by making ourselves responsible for the debts of others, when we are not in possession of sufficient capital to warrant it.
4. By the very prevalent practice of underselling. Where does the injury fall? First, upon the poor operatives, who labour day and night by the sweat of their brow, to furnish conveniences and luxuries for the higher ranks of society, whilst their labour is remunerated at a price that hardly keeps them and their families from starving. The other party upon whom the injury falls is other tradesmen in the same line, who, shrinking from the use of such unscrupulous and oppressive means of realising large profits, lose either a part or the whole of their custom.
II. SHOW THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SUBJECT.
1. In a secular view. The permanent prosperity of our trade, and consequently the temporal welfare of society depend upon the principles which pervade our business transactions. Every deviation from right principles inflicts injury somewhere, and in proportion to the extent of that deviation contributes to augment the sum of national distress. Nations, as such, are punished in this life — individuals hereafter. An invisible Being, too little recognised in the marts of trade, presides over our national affairs, and distributes or withholds national blessings in proportion as the principles of eternal truth and justice are practically acknowledged.
2. In a religious view. It has been well said, that "a Christian is the highest style of man."(1) A man who cares not by what means he obtains money, provided he succeeds in making a fortune, cannot be a Christian. The character and doom of such are too plainly written in Scripture to be mistaken for a single moment.(2) We do not, perhaps, sufficiently reflect that the predominance of the love of gain is equally incompatible with true piety; although a feeling of justice and benevolence, joined with self-respect, may lead us to abhor and reject all that is dishonourable in business.(3) Nor must we omit to observe, that whilst the habitual predominance of a worldly spirit is incompatible with personal piety, the too great prevalence of it is highly injurious. It either lifts a man up with vanity and pride, or it depresses him with anxiety and care; both of which unfit him for the service of God. In proportion as the spirit of the world prevails over the people of God, it stints their piety and usefulness, and counteracts the end for which they are constituted "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people," — "that ye should show forth the praises of Him, who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light."
(R. W. Overbury.)
The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof.
(G. A. Smith, D. D.)
Genesis 9:5, 6).
(A. B. Davidson, LL. D.)
Wherefore glorify ye the Lord in the fires.
I. BY ACKNOWLEDGING HIS POWER. The same Almighty One who fed Elijah, in the terrible days of dearth, and who delivered Daniel from the power of the lions, still watches over and provides for His people.
II. BY RECOGNISING HIS WISDOM. He knows (as no short-sighted mortal can) when it is safe for us to enjoy prosperity, and when it is needful for our soul's health to endure disappointment and trouble.
III. BY A FRANK ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF HIS GOODNESS. If Our Heavenly Father had ceased to feel an interest in our welfare, He would not have employed the means to do us good.
(J. N. Norton.)
I. WHO ARE EXPECTED TO GLORIFY THE LORD.
2. But the Church triumphant does (Revelation 7:11, 19).
3. And the Church militant ought to have this one aim. Let us take as an example, St. Paul (Philippians 3:10-14).
II. WHAT THE FIRES ARE IN WHICH WE GLORIFY GOD.
1. Determined self-humiliation, etc.; duties unpleasant, but religious.
2. Personal troubles are often perplexing. Faith is given, not to annihilate these, but to endure them.
3. Others' trials.
4. Our bodily afflictions.
5. Amongst the hottest "fires" are fiery darts. Paul was thus tried.
6. Enmity against our beloved Church. Foes within and without.
7. Fear of death.
III. BUT ONE IS EVER PRESENT IN THE FIRES.
1. In them once, alone.
2. Leads others safely through.
IV. THE FIRES ARE BURNING BY GOD'S PERMISSION. Like powerful remedies of surgeon or physician.
1. To manifest His chosen.
2. To purify.
3. To strengthen. Opposition invigorates.
(W. W. Tyler.)
I. THE STATE HERE SUPPOSED. "In the fires." Stripped of metaphor, the passage supposes a state of suffering. In this state we may be found —
1. As men. "Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward."
2. As Christians. "Many are the afflictions of the righteous."
II. THE DUTY HERE ENJOINED. "Glorify ye the Lord in the fires." The glory of God is essential or declarative. We cannot add to the former. But, "the heavens declare the glory of God." All His works praise Him. How? By the impressions and displays of His perfections; by showing us what He is, and what He deserves. Thus, Christians are appointed to "show forth the praises" — virtues — excellences — "of Him who hath called them," etc.; which is done by their language and their lives. Hence, we glorify God in our afflictions when we verbally and practically acknowledge —
1. His agency.
2. His rectitude. He is "righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works."
3. His wisdom.
4. His goodness.
5. His power.
III. THE REASONS.
1. Because you have the finest opportunity. The scene naturally awakens attention. Nothing is so impressive as the graces of a Christian in trouble.
2. The obligations you are under to the blessed God.
3. Hope should influence you. "Verily there is a reward for the righteous."
(J. N. Norton.)
(J. N. Norton.)
(T. W. Chambers, D. D.)
Fear and the pit, and the snare, are upon thee.Jeremiah 48:43, 44). They allude to the different methods of taking wild beasts that were anciently in use. The fear, or terror, was a line strung with feathers of different colours, which was so constructed as to flutter in the air and to make a terrifying noise, that frightened the beasts into the pit, or the snare, that was prepared for them. The pit was digged deep in the ground, and covered over with boughs or turf, in order to deceive them, that they might fall into it unawares. The snare was composed of nets, enclosing a large space of ground that the wild beasts were known to haunt, which was drawn gradually narrower, until they were at last entangled and shut up. Our prophet, addressing himself to the inhabitants of the earth, declares, that calamities corresponding to each of these ways of destroying wild beasts, were to seize upon them, and that they should be so ordered, that those who escaped one sort would be arrested by another.
The foundations of the earth do shake.
I. Let the majestic and terrible phenomenon of earthquakes put you in mind of THE MAJESTY AND POWER OF GOD AND THE DREADFULNESS OF HIS DISPLEASURE.
II. This desolating judgment may justly lead you to reflect upon THE SINFULNESS OF OUR WORLD.
III. This melancholy event may carry your minds gratefully to reflect upon THE PECULIAR KINDNESS OF HEAVEN towards our country, in that it was not involved in the same destruction.
IV. That which I would particularly suggest to your thoughts from the devastations of the late earthquake, is THE LAST UNIVERSAL DESTRUCTION OF OUR WORLD AT THE FINAL JUDGMENT. Of this, an earthquake is both a confirmation to human reason, and a lively representation
(S. Davies, M. A.)