And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house…
I. IT IS A DUTY. If we are by the prescript of God to bewail in confession the sins of our forefathers, committed before our being in the world, certainly much more are we to lament the sins of the age wherein we live, as well as our own (Leviticus 26:40).
1. This was the practice of believers in all ages. Seth called the name of his son, which was born at the time of the profaning the name of God in worship, Enos, which signifies sorrowful or miserable, that he might in the sight of his son have a constant monitor to excite him to an holy grief for the profaneness and idolatry that entered into the worship of God (Genesis 4:26). The rational and most precious part of Lot was vexed with the unlawful deeds of the generation of Sodom, among whom he lived (2 Peter 2:7, 8). The meekest man upon earth, with grief and indignation breaks the tables of the law when he sees the holiness of it broken by the Israelites, and expresseth more his regret for that, than his honour for the material stones, wherein God had with His own finger engraven the orders of His will. David; a man of the greatest goodness upon record, had a deluge of tears, because they kept not God's law (Psalm 119:136). Besides his grief, which was not a small one, horror seized upon him upon the same account (Psalm 119:53). How doth poor Isaiah bewail himself, and the people among whom he lived (Isaiah 6:5). Perhaps such as could hardly speak a word without an oath, or by hypocritical lip service, mocked God in the very temple.
2. It was our Saviour's practice. He sighed in His spirit for the incredulity of that generation, when they asked a sign, after so many had been presented to their eyes (Mark 8:12). The hardness of their hearts at another time raised His grief as well as His indignation (Mark 3:5). He was sensible of the least dishonour to His Father (Psalm 69:9). He wept at Jerusalem's obstinacy, as well as for her misery, and that in the time of His triumph. The loud hosannas could not silence His grief, and stop the expressions of it (Luke 19:41).
3. Angels, as far as they are capable, have their grief for the sins of men. They can scarce rejoice at men's repentance without having a contrary affection for men's profaneness. How can they be instruments of God's justice if they are without anger against the deservers of it?
II. IT IS AN ACCEPTABLE DUTY TO GOD.
1. It is a fulfilling the whole law, which consists of love to God and love to our neighbours.
(1) It is a high testimony of love to God. The nature of true love is to wish all good to them we love, to rejoice when any good we wish doth arrive unto them, to mourn when any evil afflicts them, and that with a respect to the beloved object.
(2) Nothing can evidence our love to man more than a sorrowful reflection upon that wickedness which is the ruin of his soul, the disturbance of human society, and unlocks the treasures of God's judgments to fall upon mankind.
2. It is an imitating return for God's affection. The pinching of His people doth most pierce His heart; a stab to His honour, in gratitude, should most pierce theirs.
3. This temper justifies God's law and His justice. It justifies the holiness of the law in prohibiting sin, the righteousness of the law in condemning sin; it owns the sovereignty of God in commanding, and the justice of God in punishing.
4. It is a sign of such a temper God hath evidenced Himself in Scripture much affected with. A sign of a contrite heart, the best sacrifice that can smoke upon His altar, next to that of His Son.
III. IT IS A MEANS OF PRESERVATION FROM PUBLIC JUDGMENTS.
1. Sincerity always escapes best in common judgments, and this temper of mourning for public sins is the greatest note of it.
2. This frame clears us from the guilt of common sins. To mourn for them, and pray against them, is a sign we would have prevented them if it had lain in our power; and where we have contributed to them, we, by those acts, revoke the crime.
3. A grief for common sins is an endeavour to repair the honour God has lost. When we concern ourselves for God's honour, God will concern Himself for our protection. God never was, or ever will be, behind-hand with His creature in affection.
4. The mourners in Sion are humble, and humility is preventive of judgments. God revives the spirit of the humble (Isaiah 57:15). They that share in the griefs of the Spirit shall not want the comforts of the Spirit.
5. Such keep covenant with God. The contract runs on God's part to be an enemy to His people's enemies (Exodus 23:22). It must run on our parts to love that which God loves, hate that which God hates, grieve for that which grieves and dishonours Him; who can do this by an unconcernedness?
6. Such also fear God's judgments, and fear is a good means to prevent them. The advice of the angel upon the approach of judgments is to fear God, and give glory to Him (Revelation 14:7).
IV. THE USE.
1. Reproof for us. Where is the man that hangs his harp upon the willows at the time the temple of God is profaned? It reproves, then —
(1) Those that make a mock and sport of sin, so far they are from mourning for it.
(2) Those that make others' sins the matter of invectives, rather than of lamentations, and bespatter the man without bewailing the sin.
(3) Those who are imitators of common sins, instead of being mourners for them; as though others did not pilfer God's right fast enough, and were too slow in pulling Him from His throne; as if they grieved that others had got the start of them in wickedness.
(4) Those that fret against God, instead of fretting against their own foolishness (Proverbs 19:3).
(5) Those who are more transported against others' sins, as they are, or may be, occasions of hurt to them, than as they are injuries to God.
(6) Those who are so far from mourning for common sins that they never truly mourned for their own; who have yet the treasures of wickedness, after the rod of God hath been upon them (Micah 6:9, 10).
2. Of comfort to such as mourn for common sins. All the carnal world hath not such a writ of protection to show in the whole strength of nature, as the meanest mourner in Sion hath in his sighs and tears. Christ's mark is above all the shields of the earth; and those that are stamped with it have His wisdom to guard them against folly, His power against weakness, the everlasting Father against man, whose breath is in his nostrils.
3. Mourn for the sins of the time and place where you live. It is the least dislike we can show to them. A flood of grief becomes us in a flood of sin.
(1) This is a means to have great tokens of the love of God.
(2) It is a means to prevent judgments. Tears cleansed by the blood of Christ are a good means to quench that justice which is a consuming fire.
(S. Charnock, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer's inkhorn by his side;