Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD has spoken, I have nourished and brought up children…
The criminality of rebellion must, of course, be affected by the nature of the government and administration against which it is exerted. It must be measured by the mildness and propriety of the system whose authority it renounces, and by the patience, lenity, and wisdom with which that system is administered. If the government be despotic in its character, and administered with implacable or ferocious sternness, it can hardly be unlawful, and may be deserving of commendation. If the government be paternal in its character and administered with paternal sensibilities, then criminal to a degree absolutely appalling.
I. THE PATERNAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD. This is seen in —
1. The object of its precepts. The entire and simple aim of all and every one of His commands, and the motives by which He urges them, appear to be an advancement in knowledge, holiness, and felicity, that we may be fitted for His own presence and intimate communion; for the exalted dignities and interminable bliss of the realms where His honour dwelleth.
2. The length of His forbearance. Who but a father, surpassing all below that have honoured this endearing name, could have borne so long and so meekly, with the thankless, the wayward, the audacious, the provoking! Who but a father, such as Heaven alone can furnish, would return good for evil, and blessing for cursing, hundreds and thou. sands of years, and then, when any finite experimenter had utterly despaired, resolve to vanquish his enemies, not by terror, wasting and woe, but by the omnipotence of grace and mercy! Who but a GOD, and a paternal GOD, would have closed such a strange and melancholy history as that of Israel, by sending "His Son into the world, not to condemn the world," etc.
3. The nature of His tenderness. The philanthropist commiserates the distresses of his fellow creatures, and magnanimously resolves to meliorate them. But he is not animated by that lively, that overpowering, self-sacrificing tenderness which prompts the exertions of a father in behalf of his suffering child. No; that tenderness shrinks from no expenditure, falters before no obstacles. And such was the tenderness of God, for it is not said that He so pitied, but that "He so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son," etc.
II. IF SIN BE THE RESISTANCE OF THE COMMANDS AND CLAIMS, THE MOTIVES AND EXPOSTULATIONS, THE GRACE AND MERCY OF ONE WHO HAS GIVEN US SUCH ILLUSTRIOUS PROOFS OF HIS PATERNAL REGARD AND GOODNESS — CAN IT BE OTHER THAN REBELLION? Can it be other than rebellion of a most aggravated character? The consideration should silence every whisper of pretension to meritorious virtue, and stir up the sentiments of profound contrition. It should take every symptom of stubbornness away, and make us self-accusing, lowly, and brokenhearted.
(T. W. Coit.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.