Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:References: Jude 1—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. viii., No. 434. Jude 3. Ibid., vol. xxvii., No. 1592; Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 292; J. Edmunds, Sermons in a Village Church, p. 162; J. Keble, Sermons for Saints' Days, p. 424. 5.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. v., p. 32.
Judges 1:9War in Heaven.
I. Contention in the world of spirits. In such passages as these the curtain is for a moment lifted up, and we behold war—"war in heaven." The struggle between good and evil is by no means limited to what we see in this world. The area of the conflict is far-extended. The din of distant battle-fields reaches the spiritual ear. Shadowy forms are seen in deadly fight beyond any regions with which our present thoughts are familiar. The victory, indeed, is not doubtful; but the fight is very real, and it is a fight in which we ourselves are closely concerned. Contention—this is a condition of our present state upon earth. We cannot be on Christ's side without contending. We are called, indeed, to peace, but it is equally true that we are called to war.
II. One thing in this passage comes out clear to our apprehension: that the disposal of the body of Moses is viewed in the spiritual world as a matter of some considerable moment. The angels take an interest in the burial of the great lawgiver. The tomb of Moses, if it had been known, would probably have had a significance in subsequent history very different from the burying-place of Machpelah or the sepulchres of the kings of Judah. There would, to say the least, have been a great risk of idolatrous veneration connected with the top of Mount Pisgah. That place might have become the Mecca of the Jewish world; for in the human mind there is a natural love of pilgrimages and of relics.
III. Michael durst not bring against the devil a railing accusation. What is the meaning of this? It could not have been fear in the sense of cowardice; we cannot suppose that fear of that kind can have exerted influence over an archangel. No; it was the fear of taking on himself what properly belonged to God; it was the fear of doing that which was indecorous; it was the resolve that he would not lose his self-command. "The Lord rebuke thee." Retribution belongs to God, and we must wait His time.
J. S. Howson, Our Collects, Epistles, and Gospels, p. 128.
References: Jude 9.—Expositor, 1st series, vol. iii., p. 10. 12.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xiv., No. 797; Preacher's Monthly, vol. v., p. 126. 13.—Homilist, 2nd series, vol. iv., p. 528. 14, 15.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii., No. 1307.
Judges 1:17Practical Use of the Epistles of Paul.
I. The remarkable man whom God specially raised up to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles must himself be familiar to us if we would study his epistles profitably. In order to have an intelligent idea of what Paul was and what work he had to do, we must extend our reading in some measure over the history of the time, and, indeed, over that of the ages which preceded. Again, besides forming in our minds some sufficient idea of the circumstances of the writer, we should also know those of the persons to whom these Epistles were written. Very much, indeed, of the doubt and difficulty which hangs over many passages of St. Paul, arises from persons not being able to enter into his character and the circumstances under which the words were written.
II. For every Gospel, for every Epistle, it is absolutely necessary that we should have a consistent, intelligent idea of the person and office of our Lord. He is the centre of them all; in all He is set forth. Unless we know Him, we cannot know them. The spiritual mind must not stand alone in the study of Scripture, but it is of all the chief and crowning qualification. Though it without others may be weak and limited, others without it are altogether powerless. The cottager with the spiritual mind knows more of the Bible than the theologian without it, but the theologian with it stands in the highest position of all.
H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. v., p. 291.
Judges 1:19The difference between the sensual and the spiritual is in some cases most evident; in others it is most subtle. There are men who never have an idea beyond the lowest self-gratification; they live for it; they boast of it. We need not analyse the moral peculiarities of such men. There are others, however, whose sensuality, though more refined, is not less potent in impairing the finest capacities and tendencies of the soul. Who are they? (1) Men who live entirely within the sphere of the visible; (2) men who look at actions without inquiring into motives; (3) men who look at their own profits, not at the benefit of the commonwealth; (4) men to whom the social is more than the spiritual; (5) men to whom the present is more than the future. Who are the spiritual? There is a noble sense in which the poet is spiritual; so is the musician; so is the painter. Such men translate ideas into language, into sound, into form. There is, however, an infinitely nobler sense in which the term "spiritual" is used: the sense which involves the presence and dominion of the Holy Ghost in the soul of man. The Holy Ghost can be received only through the work of Jesus Christ.
Parker, City Temple, vol. i., p. 61.
Reference: Jude 19.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv., No. 167.
Judges 1:20I. Prayer is the Divinely appointed means of obtaining all the promised blessings needful for our spiritual and eternal welfare. This truth is quite clear to the student of Scripture. The lips of eternal truth have uttered words which prove the necessity of prayer, and also prove the omnipotent efficacy of prayer: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened"; "If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give good things"—give the Holy Spirit—"to them that ask Him." "Be careful for nothing," says St. Paul, "but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." God says, "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." What wonder, then, if those who neglect the means of grace and prayer grow into a state of spiritual poverty and destitution! "They have not because they ask not," or, if they ask at all, they "ask amiss"—they ask coldly; they ask carelessly. They talk much about God in public, but talk very little with God in private. They are known to engage in exercises many, but not devotional ones. They are seen in numerous attitudes, but seldom on their knees. Therefore the Holy Ghost is not fully given, because not fervently and properly implored.
II. We cannot lay down any specific rule as to the length of our prayers; this will at all times depend upon the circumstances in which we are placed. The best prayer that was ever composed is a very short one, but we must not forget that He who composed it while on earth spent whole nights in prayer.
III. What we want in our prayers is a sincerity of soul, a hard-breathed earnestness, such a feeling as marked the wrestling Jacob when he said, "I will not let Thee go except Thou bless me." Another reflection on the subject of prayer is that we should endeavour, in Divine strength, to keep up a communion with God right through the day. "Pray without ceasing"; walk with God, live in God, and wait on God, for He says, "Them that honour Me I will honour." Again, when we approach our God in prayer, we should cherish a spirit of reverential awe. It is our duty, before we bow the knee in supplication, to seek to have our spirit suitably affected by the consideration of the majesty of the Being we address, for we speak in prayer to Him before whom heaven's highest archangels presume not to appear but with veiled faces; we speak in prayer with Him who chargeth those angels with folly, and in whose sight the very heavens are not clean.
W. W. Lane, Church Sermons, vol. i., p. 153.
Judges 1:20Christian Morality Based upon Christian Faith.
I. The ethics of Christianity are in close connection with its doctrines. The Christian's character is to be built up, as St. Jude tells us, on the strong foundation of the Christian's most holy faith. "Christianity purports to be, not a system of moral teaching only, but a system of revealed facts which centre in our Lord, and on which moral teaching is to rest" Try to make out a scheme of practical Christianity detached from the Christian creed, and you are attempting a hopeless task; if you tear away the dogmas, the precepts lose their sanction and motive power. A writer of eminence, who stands apart from Christian orthodoxy and thinks that there is a want of masculine breadth in the current moral teaching of the Churches, yet declines to hold "any Church dogma responsible for this insufficiency," predicts that it would take centuries to establish any morality on a non-Christian basis, and affirms that the ethical teaching of the present day, to be influential, ought to grow out of Christianity. Truly it ought, for Christianity is a life as much as a creed, a life which, "in virtue of its distinctive doctrine, is nourished with a richer goodness than all other religious life."
II. What is the animating principle of a life that is truly and effectively Christian? It is faith in the living Christ as a personal Saviour, Divine and human, who is not only the example to be imitated, but the very source of that moral power and that spiritual life which are to make imitation possible. It is the Christ of St. Paul and St. John, the Christ of the catholic creeds, who has been the true Author of all that purity, tenderness, devotedness, which has made Christian morality a new thing in the world.
W. Bright, Morality in Doctrine, p. 15.
References: Jude 20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xii., No. 719; Preacher's Monthly, vol. viii., p. 168.
Judges 1:20-21"But ye, beloved," living amongst these careless ones, shall be a little flock, known to their Father, and their Shepherd, and their Guide, marked out in strong contrast to the children of the world. Their rule is the will of One who is invisible; they walk not by the sight of their eyes, nor by the hearing of their ears. It is these persons whom redemption binds with its threefold cord of power, love, and wisdom.
I. "But ye, beloved." These men are the objects of love, not from the world, but from the Father. God looks on them with perfect approval. Not that they are perfect in themselves, but that they are united to His beloved Son, in whom He is perfectly pleased. They are the salt of the earth, keeping it from ruin. And what lesson may these, God's servants, learn? "Building yourselves up in your most holy faith." There is but one foundation—other can no man lay—and that one is already laid by God. But every man must build thereon; and the building which he is to rear is himself.
II. But what are the various steps and details of this holy work? The question is answered by following the text. (1) "Praying in the Holy Ghost." The life of these men is a life of prayer. (2) They keep themselves in the love of God. There is but one thing that can separate us from the love of God, and that one thing is our own will, our own act and deed. And how can we keep ourselves? Let us watch and pray, and use all means of grace, that we fall not from our place in Christ, for thus only can we forfeit the Father's love. (3) The believer has also a hope full of immortality: "Looking for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." Dwelt in by the Holy Spirit, received into and kept in the perfect love of the Father, they shall be endowed with eternal life by the mercy of the Redeemer. Thus the three Persons of the Trinity cooperate in the work of saving man, enter into and abide in the believer's soul.
H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. i., p. 395.
How to Keep in the Love of God.
I. Consider this central injunction, the very keystone of the arch of a devout Christian life: "Keep yourselves in the love of God." The secret of all blessedness is to live in the love of God. We may dwell at rest, like the inhabitants of some deep, sunken dell, which is all still, without a breath to move the thick blossoms on the loaded tree, even whilst winds are raving and waves thundering away on the iron-bound coast. "Keep yourselves in the love of God."
II. Further, notice the subsidiary exhortations which point out the means of obeying the central command. (1) The first means of securing our continual abiding in the conscious enjoyment of God's love to us is our continual effort at building up a noble character on the foundation of faith. (2) "Praying in the Holy Ghost." Such prayer is the true help for the builder; his right attitude is on his knees.
III. Notice the expectation attendant on the obedience to the central commandment: "Looking for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." The consciousness of Christ's present love is the surest ground for the hope in His future mercy.
A. Maclaren, The Unchanging Christ, p. 170.
Reference: Jude 20, Jude 21.—E. Garbett, The Soul's Life, p. 354.
Judges 1:21A Christmas Morning Talk with Children.
I. Love is a fire that wants a great deal of keeping. "Keep yourselves in the love of God." When I am writing in my study sometimes, what do you think takes place? The bright, warm fire goes out. It dies, as you say, of its own accord. I have not poked or attended to it, and it simply goes out. It was lighted; the coals were red; but through my neglect they turned black and cold. It is not enough for you as children to feel now and then love to Jesus; you must "keep yourselves in the love of God." My young friends are to be little Christians every day, and that is the beautiful ideal of the Gospel of Christ. You are not brought to the Christian temple only on great festivals like the Passover, but every day you are to feel Jesus Christ, your Saviour, near you; you are to trust Him; you are to put your little hearts into His precious keeping; you are to realise that the fire wants keeping up.
II. There are many ways of keeping the fire in. The first is to put some coals on it. "Where there is no wood the fire goeth out." A little child cannot do without reading, and every little hymn is "wood on the fire," every remembered text is timber, every quiet counsel of father and mother is fuel on the fire; so also is every good sermon that children can understand. Feed it yourselves by thinking about Jesus Christ and quietly, when no one is with you, offering your prayer to God that your fire may grow warm and bright; for it is the fire of God.
III. "Keep yourselves in the love of God," because at Christmas-time you see especially what God's love is. Love is not a mere sentiment. Many little folks who weep the most do not feel the most. It is very nice to see a little child fling its arms round its mother's neck and say, "Oh, I do love you so." The mother says what Christ says: "I am glad, my darling; but if you love me, keep my commandments." If you are to keep yourselves in the love of God, you must try to be like Him.
IV. "Keep yourselves in the love of God," because love lasts for ever. Many things we can only keep for a little while. I shall part with my faith and hope, but "charity never faileth." Keep yourselves, then, in the love of God, in its spirit, in its beauty, in its unselfishness and sacrifice, for if God laid down His life for us, we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren.
W. M. Statham, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxviii., p. 408.
References: Jude 21.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxii., No. 1285; Homilist, 3rd series, vol. iii., p. 352; T. Binney, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 24. 23.—Ibid., p. 350; Preacher's Monthly, vol. x., p. 40. 24, 25.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi., No. 634.
Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference:
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.