Amos 8:5
asking, "When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain? When will the Sabbath end, that we may market wheat? Let us reduce the ephah and increase the shekel; let us cheat with dishonest scales.
Sermons
Honouring the Lord's DayJohn N. Norton.Amos 8:5
CovetousnessJ.R. Thomson Amos 8:4-6
AvariceHomilistAmos 8:4-10
AvariceD. Thomas Amos 8:4-10
It was not for heterodoxy in theology, it was not for remissness in ritual, that Amos chiefly reproached the Israelites. It was for injustice, violence, and robbery; it was for seeking their own wealth and luxury at the expense of the sufferings of the poor. Avarice, or undue love of worldly possessions, is a serious vice; covetousness, or the desiring to enrich self at the cost of neighbours, is something very near a crime, for to crime it too often leads.

I. THE MORAL DISEASE OF COVETOUSNESS. The symptoms may differ in different states of society; and there are details in the text which apply rather to the state of society in Samaria of old than to the England of today. But the malady is the same, deep-rooted in the moral constitution of sinful men. This sin is:

1. Injurious to the person who commits it. He who sets his affection upon this world's good, who carries his selfishness so far as to deprive, or even to wish to deprive, his neighbour of what is his - far more he who uses fraud or violence to gratify this desire - is working his own ruin. He is subverting the standard of value, by setting the material above the spiritual. He is dragging his aspirations down from the stars above his head to the dust beneath his feet.

2. Mischievous to society. If all men follow the example of the covetous, and long for the possessions of others, then human society becomes a den of wild beasts bent upon devouring one another, and earth becomes a very hell. Instead of being members one of another, in the case supposed, every man sees an enemy in his neighbour, and seeks his harm. The bonds of society are strained, are even broken.

3. Displeasing to God. In the ten commandments a place was found for the prohibition of this spiritual offence: "Thou shalt not covet." This fact is sufficient to show how hateful is this sin in the eyes of the great Lord and Ruler of all.

II. THE DIVINE REMEDY FOR COVETOUSNESS.

1. The recognition of the benevolence and bounty of God. From him cometh down "every good gift and every perfect boon." He is the Giver of all, who openeth his hands, and supplieth the need of every living thing. He who would share the Divine nature must cherish an ungrudging and liberal spirit.

2. The remembrance of the "unspeakable Gift," and of the incomparable sacrifice of the Redeemer. Our Saviour's whole aim was to impart to men the highest blessings, and in the quest of this aim he gave his life for us. His constraining love alone is able to extirpate that selfishness which in human nature is the very root of covetousness.

3. The adoption of the counsels and the submission to the spirit of Christ. It was his saying, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." - T.







When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat.
The physical wants of man demand a day of rest; and it is a gracious appointment of the all-wise One, which has secured it to him. No constitution, however robust, can endure the wear and tear of unceasing labour. An experiment was once tried in England on a grand scale. Two thousand men were employed for years, seven days in a week. To make them contented to give up the blessed privilege of resting on Sundays, they received double wages for that day; or eight days' wages for seven days' work. It was found, however, utterly impossible to keep them healthy or moral. Things went on so badly that the old custom of resting on the Lord's day was revived, and that, too, with immediate results. More work was accomplished in six days than in seven, and the labourers were more sober and honest. Yet there are headstrong and worldly-minded people to be found, so oaten by covetousness that they are disposed to cry out, in the complaining language of the text, "When will the Sabbath be past, that we may sell wheat?" The same physical law which requires that man should have his day of rest applies also to the brute creation. In making the land route to California, the companies which rest on Sunday invariably reach their destinations before those which journey forward without regard to God's appointment. While man and beasts are decidedly the gainers from observing the beneficent appointment of their Creator, can we be expected to listen with patience while the despisers of God's law ask in words of cool contempt, "When will the Sabbath be past, that we may sell wheat?" Besides the actual benefits secured by those who honour the Lord's day, they are saved from many evils which naturally grow out of a disregard for it. The chaplain of Newgate prison, who hears the confessions of those sentenced to death, once remarked that, in almost every instance they ascribed their ruin to their desertion of the House of God, and to their violation of the day of rest. A distinguished merchant, long accustomed to extensive observation of men, was often heard to say, "When I discover one of my clerks to be a wilful neglecter of the Lord's day, I forthwith dismiss him. Such persons cannot be trusted." Sabbath-breaking is the sure forerunner of other sins. Moreover, we all need stated times when we can devote ourselves more unreservedly to the great work of preparing for death and the final judgment. Few are the spiritual blessings of earth, and few the joys of heaven, that have not a nearer or remoter connection with the Lord's day. How ought the Lord's day to be kept? Mere cessation from worldly employments will not come up to the demands of God's law. Attendance upon public worship is the great duty of Sunday, and one which will be strictly regarded by all who desire God's favour. A portion of the time should be spent in such reading as will tend to our spiritual improvement.

(John N. Norton.)

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