Bring his trespass-offering.
(F. H. White.)
(J. Cumming, D. D.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
— A young man came to a gentleman one day with a case of conscience. He was corresponding clerk in a flourishing house of business. His employers had begun to direct him to write letters to customers containing statements which he and they knew to be false. He had objected, and they said: "We are responsible for these statements; it is nothing to you whether they are true or false." I said to him, "Did they sign the letters, or ask you to write them in your own name?" As soon as the question left my lips I saw that if there were a difference both would be wrong, and I hastened to tell him so. lie said, "I have to sign them with my name, per Messrs. Blank." I said, "Your case is clear; you must decline to do it." He said, "Then I shall be dismissed"; and, after a pause, "I have a wife and family." I replied, "My dear friend, this is a trial of faith and principle; you must do right, and trust to God to take care of you and your family." I met him some days after. "Well Mr. — ," I said, "how are you getting on?" He replied, "I am still in my situation; I had an interview with the partners, and told them I could not write letters I knew to be untrue. They were very angry, and I expected to receive notice, but I have not received it yet." Months passed, and he remained in his situation. After a while he called upon me, and I saw in his face that something had happened. "Well, Mr. — ," I said, "have you had your dismissal?" "No," he said, "I have not," and smiled. "What then?" "A very confidential post in their service, with a higher salary, has fallen vacant, and they have put me into it." On second thoughts these unprincipled men had come to the conclusion that a clerk who would not deceive a customer would not deceive them, and was too valuable to be lost.
S. S. Chronicle.There is an old story of a Frenchman who persuaded some Missouri Indians to exchange fur for gunpowder, representing that they could obtain a fine crop by sowing it. The Indians prepared a field, and sowed the powder, and set a guard to watch it. As it did not come up they saw that they had been deceived. Some time after the partner of the deceiver visited these Indians with a large stock of goods for the purpose of trade. The Indians each took such things as pleased him, till all were gone. The Frenchman went to the head chief and demanded redress. The chief assured him that full justice should be done as soon as the harvest of gunpowder should be gathered. This was poor consolation for his loss, but such a rebuke as his partner's perfidy deserved.
(S. S. Chronicle.)
Christian Age.For two years had sailor Ben been off on the sea. Now his ship touched the shore, and his heart was full of joy. When he said good-bye to his mother he was a wild, careless boy; but in the rough days and stormy nights. on the water he had learned not only to love his mother better, but to love and serve the God she loved. So he longed to go to her and tell her of this joy. Once on shore he hurried to buy a gift for her; a silver purse with long silver fringe, and into it he counted twenty gold dollars. "I'll make your heart glad in more ways than one, mother," he said, as he snapped the clasp and bounded over the rocks to the ship, for this was to be his last night on board for many months. In his haste his foot slipped, and he fell heavily, bruising his head, spraining his wrist, and the precious purse was flung out of his hands down out of sight to the rocks below. Poor Ben! Never thinking of his bruises he climbed down, searching for his treasure till the night closed about him, then slowly with an aching heart he went back to his ship. But there was a boy whose name was Aleck, and who early every morning swung himself down among the rocks to hunt for the eggs the sea-birds leave in their nests. The next morning he caught sight of something he never saw before in any nest, and eagerly grasped it. It is Ben's silver purse! No more eggs for Aleck to-day; but with his treasure safe in his pocket he climbs up the rope to show his riches to his mother. Up on the rocks he meets sailor Ben, with limping gait and anxious face, searching for his purse. "My boy, I'll give you the brightest. gold dollar you ever put your eyes on if you'll find the purse I lost here last night. It was for my old mother. It will break my heart to go home without it!" For a minute there was a battle fierce and terrible in Aleck's heart. Was not the purse his? He had found it. His mother needed the gold as much as Ben's mother; but would she ever touch it if she knew he had kept it from its rightful owner? No, he knew what she would bid him do, and laying the purse in Ben's hands he gained the victory, the battle was over. And so while Ben was rattling along in the coach, happy to pour into his mother's lap the gold he had saved for her, in the little cottage among the trees, Aleck was telling his mother the story of his temptation. "Better an honest heart, my boy, than all the gold and silver in the land."
I. THE INJURY WROUGHT BY TRESPASS.
1. Trespass defined. Actual wrong and robbery.
2. Trespass conditioned. Might be wrought "in ignorance."
3. Trespass weighed. By the Word of God.
4. Trespass recognised (ver. 4).
II. THE REPARATION MADE FOR TRESPASS.
1. Trespass atoned.
2. Trespass compensated.
(1) (2) (3) (W. H. Jellie.)
(2) (3) (W. H. Jellie.)
(3) (W. H. Jellie.)
(W. H. Jellie.)
1. Of careful attention to be given unto the Word of God (ver. 1).
2. To restore things that are lost (ver. 4).
3. Not to make a schism in the Church (ver. 16).
4. That in the morning we should first think of God, and give Him praise.
5. The merciful man shall obtain mercy by his prayers.
(A. Willet, D. D.)
That which was delivered him to keep.I. A NEIGHBOURLY CONVENIENCE.
1. How helpful a neighbour may become.
2. How grand is this confidence in another.
3. How mutually dependent we are one upon another.
4. How honourable we should be in all transactions.
5. How jealously we should strive to merit implicit trust.
II. A HAZARDOUS TRANSACTION.
1. Man's reliableness is sorely discredited by continuous breaches of faith.
2. Treasure becomes often a serious anxiety to its possessor.
3. No security can be guaranteed in any earthly confidence.
III. A DOUBTFUL ALTERNATIVE. There was another method adopted, when a man was about to journey, if he could not trust his neighbour: he would conceal his .treasures underground.
1. Christ is faithful to our trust.
2. We cannot safely risk our souls in other keeping.
(W. H. Jellie.)
Isaiah 45:3), "and searchest for her as for hid treasure" (Proverbs 2:4), "dig for it more than for hid treasure" (Job 3:21). To avoid this danger, men entrusted their treasure to the custody of a neighbour. It is to this practice that the text refers, and it is from this practice that the apostle took the expression in 2 Timothy 1:12; see also ver. 14, and 1 Timothy 6:20).
(C. D. Ginsburg, LL.D.)
Found that which was lost. —
So, then, the dream was true,
The angel brought one broad piece only;
Should he take all these?
He was sorely tempted to conceal and appropriate his prize. The thing was so easy. No one need know he had found the purse, and all the wants of his needy family could be at once supplied. But his conscience stirred within him like the voice of God: —
Nauhaught, be a man.
Starve, if need be, but while you live, look out
From honest eyes on all men unashamed.
So the Indian deacon, mindful of the Divine voice, walked bravely back to the hamlet, asking, as he went, if any one had lost anything that day. "I," said a voice, "ten gold pieces in a silken purse." On which Nauhaught at once gave up the purse, and walked away, as poor as ever in pocket, but far richer and stronger in soul through the conflict, in which right had won the victory. The sea captain to whom the lost property had been restored, however, called him back, and begged him to accept a tithe of the prize he had found. This was one gold piece. He took it, and recognising here the very fulfilment of his dream, he gave God thanks. The people told him afterwards who this seaman was, and holy well known all around the coast. He answered, with a wise smile — to himself: "I saw the angel, where they saw a man."
He shall restore itLeviticus 5:15, 16). God is wronged by every sin of man. On every such occasion there is withheld from Him what is His due. And yet He will have tits claims met. But by whom is the fulfilment to be made? Not by the sinner himself. He is insolvent, and cannot satisfy the first and easiest demand of his Great Creditor. But what he himself is powerless to do can be done to the full by his Divine Substitute. Yes, Man — the Man Christ Jesus, makes awards for harm which those for whom He acts have done. He restores the principal, and with it gives the addition which God requires. He fulfils all righteousness, and yields to God a greater glory and pleasure by the obedience He renders and the character He exemplifies than would have been rendered by mankind at large, even had they never known sin. The restitution on which I wish specially to fix attention is that which has to be made to defrauded and injured man. It is impossible to keep one's eyes and ears open to what is going on in the worlds of politics, commerce, and social life, and not feel that there is nothing that more needs to be urged and performed than restitution. The extent to which overreaching, undue exaction, and unjust dealing are practised is almost beyond what words can express. This was very wonderfully disclosed by the results of some sermons on Restitution, which the late Dr. Finney, of America, delivered in this country some years ago. Moneys were sent to him, varying in sums from one shilling to a hundred pounds, with the names and addresses of the persons to whom they were to be delivered, and to whom they were due. So convicted and miserable were the persons who thus acted in the remembrance of the dishonesties of which they had been guilty, that they could find no relief until restitution according to the Divine command had been made. But that was not all, nor the worst. They could not gain the ear of the Most High (Matthew 5:23, 24). God is a God of truth, and cannot give countenance to falsehood: of justice, and cannot even seemingly make any compromise with dishonesty and oppression. He cannot give heed to the prayer of the injurer of his brethren, nor fill with good the heart and hand of the dishonest. They are "the upright," says David, whom He allows to "dwell in His presence" (Psalm 140:13), to whom He does good, and who are His delight. Men of an opposite character yield Him no pleasure, and are debarred from the privileges of His people. But let the necessary reparation be made, and the required restitution be rendered, and yours will be the privilege of those whom the Lord accepts and honours. Standing right with men, in the matter under consideration, you will have rightness of relationship to the God of justice and truth. It is thus first restitution, then reconciliation. The condition on which God admits the wrongdoer to the place of privilege in His presence, is the restoration of what he has by false means taken from another. In the ease of defrauding God, it is first sacrifice, then restitution; in the case of wronging man, it is first restitution, then sacrifice. And yet it is only when the sin which the wrong-doing implies is forgiven that the wrong-doing itself is repaired. It is accordingly only when the man who has injured his neighbour is convicted of the evil done, and sees it in the all-revealing light of the Divine presence, that he repairs to the injured with "the principal" and "the fifth part" in his hand. You may more than satisfy the man that has been wronged; but that will not satisfy God. Sin can be answered for only by the Cross; and the defilement it leaves behind on the soul can only be removed by the blood of cleansing. But bring to God the sacrifice of expiation, and offer to Him His Christ as your plea for the acceptance you require and wish, and you render to Him, in full, the restitution which He demands.
(James Fleming, D. D.)
Family Treasury.An extensive hardware merchant in one of the Fulton Street prayer-meetings in New York appealed to his brother merchants to have the same religion for "down-town" as they had for "up-town "; for the week-day as for the Sabbath; for the counting-house as for the communion-table. After the meeting a manufacturer with whom he had dealt largely accosted him. "You did not know," said he, "that I was at the meeting and heard your remarks. I have for the last five years been in the habit of charging you more for goods than other purchasers. I want you to take your books and charge back to me so much per cent. on every bill of goods you have had of me for the five past years." A few days later the same hardware merchant had occasion to acknowledge the payment of a debt of several hundred dollars which had been due for twenty-eight years from a man who could as easily have paid it twenty-four years before.
The law of the burnt-offering.Psalm 119:160). It burns all night long — an emblem of the sleeplessness of hell, where "they have no rest, day nor night" — and of the ever-watchful eye of righteousness that looks down on this earth. Perhaps it was intended to exhibit two things:
1. "The smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever," &c. (Revelation 14:10, compared with ver. 18). The whole camp saw this fire burning in the open court all night long. "So shall you perish," might an Israelitish father say to his children, taking them to his tent door, and pointing them, in the gloom and silence of night, to the altar, "So shall you perish, and be for ever in the flames, unless you repent! "
2. It exhibited, also, the way of escape. See, there is a victim on the altar, on which these flames feed! Here is Christ in our room. His suffering, seen and accepted by the Father, was held forth continually to the faith of Israel, night and day. And upon that type, the pledge and token of the real sacrifice, did the eye of the Father delight to rest night and day. It pleased Him well to see His justice and His love thus met together there. And the man of Israel, who understood the type, slept in peace, sustained by this truth which the struggling rays from the altar gleamed into his tent.
(A. A. Bonar.)
The priest shall put on his linen garment.I. IN HOLY ATTIRE THEY SERVE AT THE ALTAR.
1. Suggestive of the essential holiness of Christ.
2. Symbolic of their derived purity and righteousness.
3. Indicative of the spirit of service.
II. IN ALTERED GARMENTS THEY BEAR THE ASHES FROM THE SANCTUARY.
1. The changed tone of feeling in the ministrant.
2. The altered scenes which a Christian frequents.
(W. H. Jellie.)
Revelation 19:8. The priest is the emblem of the Redeemer in his perfect purity coming to the work of atonement. The word for garment means a suit of clothes. It takes in the linen breeches, as well as all the other parts of the priest's dress. His whole suit is to be the garb of purity. It is not glory; these ale not the "golden garments." It is holy humanity; it is Jesus in humiliation, but without one stain of sin. There is a special reason for the direction as to the linen breeches. It is meant to denote the completeness of the purity that clothes him; it clothes him to his very skin, and "covers the flesh of his nakedness" (Exodus 28:42). It was not only our unrighteousness and our corrupt nature that Jesus was free from, but also from that other part of our original sin which consists in the imputed guilt of Adam. The linen breeches that "covered the nakedness" of the priest, lead us back at once to our first parents' sin, when they were naked and ashamed in the garden, after the Fall. Here we see this sin also covered.
(A. A. Bonar.)
Take up the ashes.Isaiah 47:2, speaks of grinding "meal" (Ainsworth). The wood was underneath the burnt-offering. This being done, the ashes were to be placed by themselves, for a little time, "beside the altar." All eyes would thus see them and take notice of them, before they were carried out into a clean place. Probably there were two reasons for this action.
1. The fire was thus kept clear and bright, the ashes being removed. God thereby taught them that He was not careless as to this matter, but required that the type of His justice should be kept full and unobscured.
2. The ashes were shown for the purpose of making it manifest that the flame had not spared the victim, but had turned it into ashes. It was not a mere threatening when the angels foretold that Sodom and Gomorrah were to be destroyed for their sin; their doom (2 Peter 2:6) is declared to have come on them, "turning them to ashes." So here, all that was threatened is fulfilled. There the ashes lie; any eye may see them. The vengeance has been accomplished! The sacrifice is turned into ashes! Justice has found its object! The Lord's arrows are not pointless; He performs all His threatenings, for He is holy. "O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto Thee? or to Thy faithfulness round about Thee?"
(A. A. Bonar.)
Burn wood on
I. IN THE PERFECTNESS OF HIS CHARACTER. The lamb was without spot; and He was without blemish. And this is what He needed to be. And yet He was more. He was marked not only for the absence of all defect, but for the presence of every excellence. He was absolutely and universally perfect. This was the case with the affections He cherished, the dispositions He cultivated, and the virtues He practised. Only what is perfect can satisfy an infinitely perfect God. All, therefore, that is defective and unholy is forbidden a place on His altar. God's requirement extends to what is internal as well as to what is external. He demands "truth in the inward parts" as well as integrity in the outward life. The demand was fully met by Jesus. But what God required in the offering, He required also in those for whom it was presented. Only as we are personally what God requires, in righteousness of walk before Him, can we occupy the position to which we are invited, appreciate and enjoy the blessings of salvation, and fulfil the purposes of our high calling. But we may be that; provision for our being so has been made. Strengthened, therefore, with might by the Spirit in the inner man, there is no duty that we may not fulfil, and no appropriation of offered blessing that we may not make. Bus God not only strengthens for service; He Himself works in us, and for us, and by us — leading us to will and to do according to His good pleasure.
II. We have Christ here in HIS COMPLETENESS OF DEDICATION TO THE FATHER AND TO MEN. The lambs were, with the exception of the skin, wholly consumed by the fire; and Christ gave Himself to God for us. The primary object of His incarnation and mission to earth was — to glorify the Father. The path might be rugged, but leading to the glory of the Father, He cheerfully trod it; the Cross might be ignominious, but ensuring the glory of the Father, He gave Himself up to it. He made of Himself a whole burnt-offering to God. But it was a twofold gift He made of Himself when He laid Himself upon the altar. "He gave Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour (Ephesians 5:2). He loved me, and gave Himself for me." One of the purposes for which He became our substitute, delivered us from the dominion of evil, and endued us with Divine strength, was, that we might walk in His steps, and, in our measure, yield ourselves to God as He did. But is this being done? It is on record that, during the late civil war in America, and when victory was swaying from side to side, that commissioners from the Confederate States sought and obtained an interview with President Lincoln, with the view of trying to effect an arrangement for the independence of the territory they represented. They knew the tender-heartedness of Mr. Lincoln, and appealed to him to stay the effusion of blood which, at the moment, was flowing in torrents. They were willing to for go several of the States for which they had hitherto fought, if he would consent to the remainder being independent. They pleaded with him for hours, and made use of the strongest arguments and considerations they could adduce to gain their object. When they had finished, the president, who had patiently listened to all that had been said, raised his hand, and then bringing it down with emphasis on the map which lay before him, replied, "Gentlemen, this Government must have the whole." And so God says, regarding the inner kingdom of every human heart. He will allow no partition or division there. The whole is His by right, and He will suffer no one to share with Him the throne He has erected for His own occupancy.
III. By the daily burnt-offering we are minded of CHRIST'S ACCEPTABLENESS TO THE FATHER. The lamb was an offering of a sweet savour unto God, in which He had delight, and from which He derived satisfaction. And He was ever pleased with Christ. But is this remembered as it should be? Christ is much more thought of as providing for men's necessities than for God's requirements; as appeasing justice than as giving delight to Him from whom He came; as ministering peace to the troubled than as satisfying the Father's heart. But what Christ was to God, believers are intended to be, in their measure, also. Is this now, to any extent, the case? Has God satisfaction in all who call themselves by the name of His Son? Has He joy in that which you lay upon His altar, in the services that you fulfil, and in the measure of resemblance which you bear to His Beloved? Then Christ is brought before us here in the position He ever occupies on our behalf. A lamb was always before God, and Christ ever liveth to make intercession for us. Now, where Christ is in reference to the Father He ought to be in reference to all who bear His name. Only as this is the case, as He is ever before you, occupying the vision of your faith, filling the sphere of your life, and engaging your feelings and thoughts, will you become assimilated to His likeness and meet for His presence and glory above.
(James Fleming, D. D.)
The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar.I. DIVINE ENDOWMENTS COMMITTED TO THE CONTROL OF MEN. As in the instances of that "fire," supernaturally originated on that altar, and then left in man's hands, so with —
1. Pure sympathies implanted within man.
2. Revelation in the Scriptures.
3. Quickened life in the regenerated soul.
4. Spiritual endowments to the believer.
5. Sacred affections in the Christian heart.
6. Holy enthusiasm firing an earnest nature. From God they come: but man has them in his hands.
II. DIVINE ENDOWMENTS ENTRUSTED TO THE PRESERVATION OF MEN. The priests had to keep that "fire" alive, or it would expire.
1. Having received the gifts of God we are responsible for their maintenance.
2. How solemn the priestly office, which all are called to perform: feeding the Divine "fire" in our souls continually!
III. DIVINE ENDOWMENTS REQUIRING THE CO-OPERATIVE WATCHFULNESS OF MEN. The priest's eye would need to be often turned to the altar fire: "every morning" it needed care.
1. A watchful life is imperative if we would maintain godliness within.
2. Neglect will allow the extinction of the Divinest gift. Only neglect —
(1) (2) (3) (4) IV. DIVINE ENDOWMENTS ENDURING ONLY WHERE ACTIVELY MAINTAINED. That fire did expire! At the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar. 1. May the Divine life m a soul go out? 2. May the Christian's "first love" become extinct? 3. May the holy aspirations of a child of God droop? 4. May all sacred ardour, in prayer, in consecration, die away?Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. "See that ye make your calling and election sure." (W. H. Jellie.)
(2) (3) (4) IV. DIVINE ENDOWMENTS ENDURING ONLY WHERE ACTIVELY MAINTAINED. That fire did expire! At the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar. 1. May the Divine life m a soul go out? 2. May the Christian's "first love" become extinct? 3. May the holy aspirations of a child of God droop? 4. May all sacred ardour, in prayer, in consecration, die away?Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. "See that ye make your calling and election sure." (W. H. Jellie.)
(3) (4) IV. DIVINE ENDOWMENTS ENDURING ONLY WHERE ACTIVELY MAINTAINED. That fire did expire! At the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar. 1. May the Divine life m a soul go out? 2. May the Christian's "first love" become extinct? 3. May the holy aspirations of a child of God droop? 4. May all sacred ardour, in prayer, in consecration, die away?Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. "See that ye make your calling and election sure." (W. H. Jellie.)
1. May the Divine life m a soul go out? 2. May the Christian's "first love" become extinct? 3. May the holy aspirations of a child of God droop? (W. H. Jellie.)
1. May the Divine life m a soul go out?
2. May the Christian's "first love" become extinct?
3. May the holy aspirations of a child of God droop?
(W. H. Jellie.)
I. THE FIRE OF ENTHUSIASM. It was said of Sir Walter Raleigh, "He can toil terribly"; and I think, if the great souls of the past could speak to you in tones that would command your interest, they would say that whatever good they did upon earth was achieved at the cost of strong resolve and strenuous effort.
II. THE FIRE OF INDIGNATION. It is not enough, right as it is, to love what is good. We must hate, we must spurn the evil. The wicked are always a discredited minority; and if the good had only the courage of their opinions, the wicked would never have the courage of theirs.
III. THE FIRE OF PERSONAL SANCTITY. The flame which consumes the dross of the world must itself be bright and beautiful. It must be "a burning and a shining light." Yes, and it must be "ever burning"; it must "never go out." It was the law of the Vestal Virgins in old time that night and day they should watch with sleepless care the everlasting fire upon the altar of the goddess. No calamity that could happen to the State was so terrible as if through their fault that fire should become extinct. But there was one essential condition of their watching: they must themselves be chaste; should any one of them break the Divine law of chastity, it was death for her and for him who made her break it. And oh! let us resolve that "the fire shall ever be burning upon the altar" of this school, which is so dear to us. Let it be bright, fierce, and lambent. Let it burn away the selfishness which lies at the heart of so many an one who knows it not.
(J. E. C. Welldon, M. A.)
I. PIETY MUST BE HABITUAL TO PROVE THAT IT IS REAL.
1. Whatever is chief in the heart will be ever showing itself in the life.
2. We shall thus surely and thus only verify and carry out the Scripture descriptions of godliness.
II. PIETY MUST BE HABITUAL IN ORDER TO BE PROGRESSIVE.
1. The attainment of holy character is by degrees.
2. These advances can only be attained by constant well-doing.
III. PIETY MUST BE HABITUAL IN ORDER TO BE USEFUL.
1. If there be inconsistency or fitfulness, a painful sense of insincerity will he felt by those to whom the truth may be addressed.
2. With habitual piety, how much greater weight, pathos, and earnestness will there be.
3. An unconscious yet speaking power is in such godliness.
IV. HABITUAL PIETY GIVES DIGNITY AND ELEVATION TO THE WHOLE OF LIFE. It was a noble testimony that the son of J. A. James bore of his father: "I never found in him anything inconsistent or unworthy." What a wreath to lay on that honoured tomb! Conclusion: See to it that the fire be ever burning. What Christian workers should we have then-lips touched with a live coal, because the heart is glowing with the sacred flame. What Churches should we have then — not formal and languishing, but strong in godliness and increasing in numbers. What households should we have then-where the younger members would prove their appreciation of devout sincerity and the attractiveness of lofty example. Individual influence would be benign as that of the Australian tree which destroys infection, and breathes health around; and the whole spiritual scene would be beautiful and fragrant, as "a field that the Lord hath blessed." Cherish the sacred fire, if it is within. As the Parsees with the precious sandalwood keep alive the ever-burning flame in their temples, so with precious passages of Divine truth and prayer seek to keep alive and vigorous the name of love.
(G. McMichael, B. A.)
1. In its source or origin.
2. In its tendency.
3. In its nature and properties.
4. In its permanency.
5. In its perpetuity.Lesson: Be diligent in the use of the means of grace —
1. Prayer: secret, family, social.
2. Study of Bible.
4. Attendance on the ordinances.
(G. F. Love.)
I. LET US SEEK TO FAN THE FLAME. Of the Baptist our Lord said, "he was a burning and a shining light." Blessed eulogy! may it be earned by each one of us. "Burning and shining" — our very ideal of a minister; a hot heart with a clear head; impetuosity and prudence blended; zeal and knowledge linked in holy wedlock. The motto on David Brainerd's banner, and the prayer in his heart, ever was, "Oh, that I were a flaming fire in the service of my God." We have as our model Him who could say, "The zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up"; and while we profess to be His followers, we dare not rest satisfied with the "icy torpor" and "decorous coldness" which are, alas! the usual temperature of too many professors. We do not wish to be for ever praying for the smouldering embers to be blown into a flame, for we covet a steady furnace heat, and no mere fitful zeal, which, like the fire from the horse's hoof, dies in the moment of its birth. Most of us know the sad experience of preaching with the fire burning only amid grey ashes. We cannot expect much blessing while this is the case. If the gospel is to have a mighty effect upon the congregation, it must pass through the fire of an intense spiritual life in the preacher; and this life we feel we must have. And what a boon will it be to us also! What purifying force there is in consuming zeal and passionate love of souls I How it burns up all unworthy and selfish motives! This holy fire has also an educating force; by it the soul is transfigured, and made to enjoy a grand outlook. It awakens the intellect as nothing else can; it quickens the sensibilities of inferior minds, and makes them capable of achievements which, without it, they would never have dreamed of. John Howard had no commanding intellect, but what he had was illuminated with Divine light, and thus his name became immortal. Thomas Chalmers had always an intellect so commanding as to grasp a planet in its span; but it needed the grace of God to so illuminate the mind of Chalmers that he could write his astronomical discourses, and grasp, not a planet merely, but myriads of worlds as a boy handles his marbles, and move "like a strong swimmer in a stormy sea." Divine fire in the soul kindles a light in the intellect, elevates every natural faculty, and makes it a handmaid to the Spirit of God; it burns every bond that Lies the tongue, and makes men orators who else were dumb. This, too, will give us the most attractive characters. It is said that the slopes of a volcano supply soil so fruitful that the richest vines flourish best upon them; when the heart is full of holy fire the life is sure to be adorned with the rich graces of the Spirit, productive of that fruit which glorifies our Father in heaven. And yet to have the heart throb with a might pulse of love — to have a holy passion thrilling and burning in every artery and vein will, in all probability, involve much trial. Every cherished idol of the heart must submit to the action of this fire. It will consume all that is consumable. Upon sin in the soul it will have no mercy. It will probably involve, too, the scorn of some whose friendship we fain would cultivate.
II. LET US NOW GATHER A FEW MATERIALS TO FEED IT. Scientific men are asking, "What is to be the fuel for coming ages?" "What will our great-great-great-grandchildren sit around instead of our household fire?" One authority suggests as a source of heat, when coal is exhausted, the beating of the tidal wave on the shore. Happily the Christian Church need not trouble herself with any conjectures as to the fuel which is to feed her fires. The light and love invested in the covenant of graces ages back will never be exhausted until every elect soul glows with love to God, and every redeemed wanderer is lighted back to his Father's home. Does not even Nature speak to us upon this mailer of earnestness in our Master's work? The sun is earnest: in his path he never lingers, in his course he never halts: the stars never falter in their race, never swerve from their round; the Sea is constant in its ebb and flow, unchanging in eternal change. All Nature says, "The King's business requires haste"; and the man who is not in earnest when about "the King's business" is out of gear with the universe, and is a blot in the creation of God. Our age speaks to us, we live in the cumulated light of succeeding ages. Our age, too, is telling upon ages yet to be — nay, upon eternity itself. Is there not inspiration, too, in the memory of our early vows? If we would be full of Divine energy, let us labour after a strong sense of the love of God in Christ. All the love of eternity meets here as in a focus, and if we only seek full and deep communion with it our lives will not lack the holy fire. There is one other thought which ought ever to arouse our spirits and inspire our hearts with zeal and courage in our holy warfare. We are on the winning side. Victory is surely ours.
Hebrews 12:29; Psalm 1:1.2; 2 Thessalonians 1., &c.); and accordingly, when the Jewish worshipper (the veil being off his heart) contemplated the altar's heaven-kindled flame, and bore in mind the Divine edict for its preservation, he was given to understand that the judgment of God was held in abeyance, that the Divine arrangements for turning aside that judgment from the contrite sinner though revealed to hope, were not consummated in fact, and, that as the fire, day by day, swallowed victim after victim, and burned still as fierce as ever, that victim had not yet been laid thereon whose blood should quench in mercy the fire maintained in justice. Well — "God is the Lord who hath showed us light; bind the sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar" — the victim has been found and accepted; "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter"; His blood is "shed for many for the remission of sins," and the fire is gone out — God Himself hath "put it out": "for by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified," and, "through the offering of the body of Christ once for all," mercy and truth, righteousness and peace have met together, and like the wings of the mystic cherubim, they shadow the mercy-seat of God — the throne of Divine grace. Well, the fire is "gone out" — God Himself hath "put it out," but in so doing He hath kindled another. Accordingly, when the fire of Divine justice died away in the offering up of Christ, the flame of Divine love shot upwards upon the altar-hearts of the Lord's redeemed; it was and is kindled from above, for love begets love, and "we love Him because He first loved us." This is the heavenly fire which kindles upon the altar of the heart, the sacrifice of the affections; it is the fruit of satisfied justice; it is the movement of Divine mercy, besprinkling the soul with the all-awakening, all-cleansing blood of Jesus, producing a responsive movement of the soul to God, by the drawings of the Spirit of grace, and lighting up a flame in its Divinely occupied recesses, not to be extinguished by the deepest waters of trial. "It shall never go out."
1. In time of trial and affliction it shall not go out; for "in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His Tabernacle shall He hide me."
2. In seasons of spiritual depression it shall not go out; "O my God, my soul is cast down within me," &c.
3. In the hour of temptation it shall not go out; "for God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able; but will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
4. When life, too, is waning, and the night of death is setting in, and the blighting chill is paralysing the frame as it enters the deep and dark river, it shall not go out; for "love is strong as death"; and "many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it."
(H. Hardy, M. A.)
continually offers Himself to God in self-consecration in our behalf. Very significant it is that the burnt-offering stands in contrast in this respect with the sin-offering. We never read of a continual sin-offering; even the great annual sin-offering of the Day of Atonement, which, like the daily burnt-offering, had reference to the nation at large, was soon finished, and once for all. And it was so with reason; for in the nature of the case, our Lord's offering of Himself for sin as an expiatory sacrifice was not and could not be a continuous act. But with His presentation of Himself unto God in full consecration of His person as our Burnt-offering it is different. Throughout the days of His humiliation, this self-offering of Himself to God continued; nor, indeed, can we say it has yet ceased, or ever can cease. For still, as the High Priest of the heavenly Sanctuary, He continually offers Himself as our Burnt-offering in constantly renewed and constantly continued devotement of Himself to the Father to do His will.
(S. H. Kellogg, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(J. Gumming, D. D.)
- So careful is God of this continual burning, that, if you mark, it is reported over and over (see vers. 9, 12). To this end, the priest's care was to feed it with wood, and see to it day and night, and with no other fire might either sacrifice, or incense, be burned and offered to God. This fire was carefully kept upon the altar to the captivity of Babylon, and afterward found again of Nehemiah 2., 2 Macc. 1:18, 19. Of like from hence might grow that great honour and regard, which the heathens had fire in, whereof we read often. The Athenians in their Prytaneo, trod at Delphos, and at Rome, of those Vestal Virgins continual fire was kept, and of many it was worshipped as a God. The Persians called it Orismada, that is, holy fire; and in public pomp they used to carry it before kings with great solemnity. What might be the reason why God appointed this ceremony of continual fire upon the altar, and how may we profit by it?
1. First, there was figured by it the death of Christ from the beginning of the world; namely, that He was the Lamb slain from the beginning for mankind, and by this shadow they were led to believe that although as yet Christ was not come in the flesh, nevertheless the fruit of His death belonged to them, as well as to those that should live when He came, or was come; for this fire was continual and went not out, no more did the fruit of His passion fail to any true believer, even from the beginning. But they were saved by believing that He should come, as we are now, by believing that He is come.
2. Also this fire came from heaven (Leviticus 9:24), and so should Christ in the time appointed. This fire was ever in, and never went out, and so is God ever ready to accept our sacrifices and appointed duties, ever ready to hear us and forgive us, but we are slow and dull, and come not to Him as we ought.
3. No other fire might be used but this, and so they were taught to keep to God's ordinances, and to fly from all inventions of their own heads. For ever it was true, and ever will be true, "In vain do men worship Me, teaching for doctrines men's precepts." Our devices, seem they never so wise, so fit, so holy and excellent, they are strange fire, not that fire that came from heaven, not that fire that God will be pleased withal or endure. This fire coming first from heaven, and thus preserved, still preached unto them by figure, that as well did their sacrifices and services duly performed according to the law please God, as that did when first God sent His fire from heaven to consume it, in token of approbation, which surely was a great comfort to their consciences and a mighty prop to fainting, fearing weak faith.
4. This fire thus maintained and kept with all care, and "not suffered ever to go out," taught them, and still may teach us, to be careful to keep in the fire of God's holy Spirit, that it never die, nor go out within us. The fire is kept in by honest life, as by wood, by true sighs of unfeigned repentance, as by breath or blowing, and by meek humility, as by soft ashes. Oh, that we may have care to keep it in l what should I say? This continued fire taught then, and, though it be now gone and abrogated, may still teach us now, to be careful to keep in, amongst us, the fire of God's Word, the true preaching of His truth, to the salvation of our souls.
5. For the fire hath these properties — it shineth and giveth light, it heateth, it consumeth, it trieth: so the preaching of the gospel. "Thy Word is a lantern unto my feet, and a light unto my path." St. Peter calleth it "a candle in a dark place," and many Scriptures teach the shining light of it. The heat in like sort: "Did not our hearts burn within us, whilst He talked with us, and opened the Scriptures? The fire kindled, and I spake with my tongue," saith the Psalm; and as fire it pleased the Holy Spirit to appear at Pentecost, to show this fruit of effect of the Word preached by their mouths, it heateth the heart to all good life, and maketh us "zealous of good works." The dross of our corruption by degrees it washeth, the stubble of our fancies it "burneth up and consumeth," so that we abhor the sins we have been pleased with, and hate the remembrance of evil passed.
6. Lastly, it trieth doctrine, and severeth truth from error; it trieth men, and discovereth hypocrites. All worthy motives to make us careful to preserve this fire perpetually amongst us whilst we live, and in a holy zeal to provide for it also when we are dead. So shall we live being dead; nay, so shall we assuredly never die, but with immortal souls, and never-dying tongues, praise His name that liveth for ever, and will have us with Him.
( Pres. Edwards.)