But now I will not be to the residue of this people as in the former days, said the LORD of hosts.…
It is a decisive evidence of sound wisdom to profit by the faults, the errors, and the calamities of other men. Two sources from whence we ordinarily obtain knowledge and caution. The first is, our own experience, by which we too frequently buy knowledge at a very high cost. The second is, the experience of those who have lived before us; and this knowledge is as good in its quality, and obtained at a much easier rate than the former. In Scripture we have many histories of individuals and histories of communities.
I. A MESSAGE PROM GOD TO THE CHILDREN OF MEN.
1. The immediate agent by whom the communication is made — the Spirit of God. It is this Holy Spirit who is the author, the immediate author, of all communications from God to man. It should give a great solemnity to all that is addressed to us, to recollect that it comes to us by the immediate agency of the Holy Ghost.
2. There are instruments appointed for the communication of this message. "By the prophets." The ministration of fellow men — ancient prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
3. The nature of the communication thus made. It is a message of instruction, conviction, consolation, and warning.
II. THE RESISTANCE AND OPPOSITION WHICH IN EVERY AGE US BEEN MADE TO THE MESSAGE. Mark the varied forms in which this opposition is here described. When is it that resistance may be said to be made to the Spirit, in the Word?
1. When men estrange themselves from the means of grace and salvation, and place themselves beyond the reach of those means, it may be justly feared that they are in the state of those who refuse to hearken. How many do place themselves in such situations!
2. When men perversely act in direct contradiction to the light they have received. All sin is heinous in the sight of God. But that is especially heinous which is committed in direct opposition to the light we have received, whether that light have been communicated by the instructions of an earlier age, by the ministrations of the prophets, or by means of any of the various institutions which have been set on foot in our day.
3. Where there is a determination to persevere in a course of sin, against the remonstrance of conscience and the Word of God. This is surely pulling away the shoulder, and stopping the ears, and hardening the heart.
4. When to the impiety of unbelief is added the iniquity of scorn and contempt, and when ridicule is poured by men of determined minds on things sacred.
III. THE TREMENDOUS CONSEQUENCES TO WHICH SUCH CONDUCT INEVITABLY EXPOSES. To the wrath of God; the Divine displeasure. Here presented as "great wrath"; and "great wrath from the God of armies, the Lord of hosts." Lessons —
1. Admire and adore the condescension, patience, and grace of God the Holy Spirit. Condescension in that He visits our world with the messages of mercy, and brings home to our ears and to our hearts the sounds of reconciliation and salvation. Patience, in that He still visits us and waits to be gracious; still strives in the hearts of the unregenerate — still visits His people with the dews of the heavenly grace.
2. This subject affords a clear demonstration of the depravity of human nature. If I could find no other proof of human depravity, I should find it in this enmity of man to all that is good and gracious.
3. Learn the debt of gratitude you owe to the Son of God. For you would still have gone on in the way of enmity if He had not visited you. It was the sovereignty of God's distinguishing grace which gave you eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to feel.
4. We tremble for some of you. Because you have heard these things again and again; you have seen the Cross of Christ reared in your midst — and some of you are still stopping your ears and hardening your hearts; instead of yielding up to the convictions of your minds, you are struggling against them.
Parallel VersesKJV: But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.