And saying, Sirs, why do you these things? We also are men of like passions with you…
God never wrought a miracle to confute an atheist, because His ordinary works are sufficient. Yet many move among the works of God, without acknowledging their Divine Author. How useful to all such might be the serious study of our text. Consider —
I. THE BENEFICENCE OF GOD. This is too copious a thing to speak of as it deserves. Its origin is in past eternity; it extends throughout eternity to come. Think of a Being, all-perfect, all-powerful, all-wise, employing His mighty energies in perpetually doing good. What an immense amount of happiness He must be continually diffusing! It is true, God has other attributes, some of sterner aspect. He is the moral Governor of mankind; bound to punish all iniquity. And visitations of the Divine wrath against sin are no proofs against the Divine beneficence. It is also true that God's own people, who now love Him, do also suffer; but our very sufferings are sent in beneficence. They come with a message of our Father's love; they are softened by His kind pity; they do us good while they stay; they leave a fragrant remembrance when they go.
II. ITS MANIFESTATION IN "FRUITFUL SEASONS."
1. God "gave us rain from heaven." So Jeremiah: "Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain?" So, too, Zechariah: "Ask ye of the Lord rain...for the idols have spoken vanity." The rain coming in its season, is the gift of God. In giving rain God uses means; vapours, being exhaled from the sea and the surface of the earth, gather into clouds, and clouds being condensed by cold descend in showers; but who gave these laws to Nature? Is Nature God? Is she not rather a handmaid to Deity? Philosophers often stop at the second causes; and having shown how certain causes produce certain effects, seem reluctant to say who is the cause of these causes. Not so the apostle. "He gave us rain from heaven." Their danger was, to attribute to idols what was the gift of God. There is a danger now of making second causes idols. "Behold," says Elihu, "He maketh small the drops of water," etc. Think what the earth would become if God were to withhold the rain in its season.
2. God gives the rain, and the rain helps to make the fruitful seasons; but God is their true Author. He created the earth with its properties suited to vegetation; He made the plants; He has preserved their succession; He "giveth seed to the sower." The very strength and skill of the cultivator of the soil are from Him. And thus "He gives us fruitful seasons." Some, indeed, more so than others; but this is, that our dependence may be felt, our obligations owned, our prayers and our praises called forth. Take the seasons altogether through a considerable series of years; do we not find that fruitfulness is their general characteristic, unfruitfulness the exception? — while the Divine goodness is continually manifested both in giving and withholding, the very harshness in the latter case being meant as a salutary chastening.
III. THE WITNESS FOR GOD WHICH IS MANIFESTED BENEFICENCE BEARS IN ALL COUNTRIES.
1. Although "in times past God suffered all nations to walk in their own ways, He left not Himself without witness." The "rain" was His "witness"; all its showers testified of His power, His providence, and His beneficence. "Fruitful seasons" were His "witnesses"; the spring with its opening buds, the summer with its chaplets of flowers, autumn with its golden sheaves, the very winter with its well. stored fruits, all testified of God in the ears of nations, too often unheeding the voice from heaven and bent on their own ungodliness. How clear is Scripture in showing the inexcusableness of heathenism and idolatry!
2. Now surely, if the beneficence of God in "giving rain and fruitful seasons" was a witness for God to heathens, it is so also to us. To how many careless, thoughtless and ungrateful people, even in Christian lands, are the "fruitful seasons" a witness for God, leaving them without excuse!
(J. Hambleton, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
WEB: "Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to the living God, who made the sky and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them;