And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house…
When God visits the world, or any part of it, with His desolating judgments, He usually sets a mark of deliverance on such as are suitably affected with the sins of their fellow creatures.
I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN BEING SUITABLY AFFECTED WITH THE SINS OF OUR FELLOW CREATURES? That we are naturally disposed to be little or not at all affected with the sins of others, unless they tend, either directly or indirectly, to injure ourselves, it is almost needless to remark. If our fellow creatures infringe none of our real or supposed rights, and abstain from such gross vices as evidently disturb the peace of society, we usually feel little concern respecting their sins against God; but can see them following the broad road to destruction with great coolness and indifference, and without making any exertion, or feeling much desire to turn their feet into a safer path. This being the case, it is evident that a very great and radical change must take place in our views and feelings before we can be suitably affected with the sins of our fellow creatures, if the conduct of the persons mentioned in our text is the standard of what is suitable.
1. If we fear sin more than the punishment of sin; if we mourn rather for the iniquities than for the calamities which we witness; if we are more grieved to see God dishonoured, His Son neglected, and immortal souls ruined, than we are to see our commerce interrupted, our fellow citizens divided, and our country invaded it is one proof that we resemble the characters mentioned in our text.
2. Being suitably affected with the sins of our fellow creatures implies the diligent exertion, by every means in our power, to reform them. This attempt must be made —
(1) By our example. Men are imitative beings; the force of example is almost inconceivably great, and there is, perhaps, no man so poor or insignificant as not to have some friend or dependant who may be influenced by his example.
(2) By our exertions. We must endeavour ourselves, and exert all our influence to induce others, to banish from among us intemperance, profanity, violations of the Sabbath, neglect of religious institutions, and other prevailing sins of the age and country in which we live.
(3) By our prayers. Exertion without prayer, and prayer without exertion, are alike presumptuous, and can be considered as only tempting God — and if we neglect either, we have no claim to be numbered among the characters described in our text.
3. Those who are suitably affected with the sins of their fellow creatures will certainly be much more deeply affected with their own. While they smart under the rod of national calamities, they will cordially acknowledge the justice of God, and feel that their own sins have assisted in forming the mighty mass of national guilt.
II. ON SUCH AS ARE THUS AFFECTED, GOD WILL SET A MARK OF DELIVERANCE, WHEN THOSE AROUND THEM ARE DESTROYED BY HIS DESOLATING JUDGMENTS. This may be inferred —
1. From the justice of God. As they have separated themselves from others by their conduct, it requires that a mark of separation and deliverance should be set upon them by the hand of a righteous God. Hence the plea of Abraham with regard to Sodom, a plea of which God tacitly allowed the force. Witness the preservation of guilty Zoar for the sake of Lot, and the declaration of the destroying angel, I cannot do anything till thou be come thither.
2. From God's holiness. As a holy God He cannot but love holiness; He cannot but love His own image; He cannot but love those who love Him. But the characters of whom we are speaking evince by their conduct that they do love God. His cause, His interest, His honour, they consider as their own. A holy God, therefore, will, nay, He must, display His approbation of holiness by placing upon them a mark of distinction.
3. From His faithfulness. God has said, Them that honour Me I will honour.
(E. Payson, D. 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;