Colossians 3:5
Put to death, therefore, the components of your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry.
Sermons
Colossians Iii. 7-MaySt. Chrysostom Colossians 3:5
Sins of the Flesh and the Sin of CovetousnessE.S. Prout Colossians 3:5-7
The Duty of Mortifying the Old ManT. Croskery Colossians 3:5-7
AngerH. W. Beecher.Colossians 3:5-9
Blasphemy, its NatureJ. Daille.Colossians 3:5-9
Control of TemperW. Baxendale.Colossians 3:5-9
Conversion and the Old NatureH. W. Beecher.Colossians 3:5-9
Corruptions Overcome by GraceC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 3:5-9
Corruptions Overcome GraduallyC. H. Spurgeon.Colossians 3:5-9
CovetousnessW. Arnot, D. D.Colossians 3:5-9
CovetousnessEdgar A. Poe.Colossians 3:5-9
Covetousness is IdolatryColossians 3:5-9
Denying TheColossians 3:5-9
Dissuasives from EvilBishop Davenant.Colossians 3:5-9
Effects of DisobedienceE. Foster.Colossians 3:5-9
Filthy ConversationJ. Daille.Colossians 3:5-9
Gold in the HeartColossians 3:5-9
MaliceJ. Daille.Colossians 3:5-9
Mortifying the FleshT. Hamilton, D. D.Colossians 3:5-9
Purity of ConversationChristian, BostonColossians 3:5-9
Slander Cannot be RecalledW. Baxendale.Colossians 3:5-9
Slaying SelfA. Maclaren, D. D.Colossians 3:5-9
The Believer's View of Past SinBishop Meade.Colossians 3:5-9
The Children of DisobedienceJ. Parker, D. D.Colossians 3:5-9
The Evil SpeakerJ. Daille.Colossians 3:5-9
The Evils of Bad TemperJ. Daille.Colossians 3:5-9
The Flesh to be CrucifiedColossians 3:5-9
The Idolatry of CovetousnessC. S. Robinson, D. D.Colossians 3:5-9
The Mortification of the Sinful Principle in ManG. Barlow.Colossians 3:5-9
The Wrath of GodJonathan Edwards.Colossians 3:5-9
The Wrath of God a Present ThingJ. Spence, D. D.Colossians 3:5-9
Death to EvilU.R. Thomas Colossians 3:5-11
Dying Before RisingR. Finlayson Colossians 3:5-11
Mortification After DeathR.M. Edgar Colossians 3:5-11
The apostle proceeds to deduce the practical consequences of our "death in Christ" in the mortifying of tendencies to impurity, covetousness, malice, and falsehood. "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry."

I. THE NATURE AND DUTY OF MORTIFICATION.

1. Its nature. It is to resist the solicitations of sin, to suppress its first motions, to weaken its power.

(1) It is a gradual process - it is "to crucify the flesh," implying a lingering process; it is a destruction that goes on daily, for the remains of the old life still abide, though not in power, in the believer.

(2) The word "mortify" implies that sin is not to be allowed to die out of itself; we must kill it.

(3) It is a painful process.

2. The duty of mortification.

(1) It is commanded. We are to show no more mercy to the "old man" than to the "right eye" or the "right hand" that offends us (Matthew 5:29).

(2) It is done in the power of the Spirit. "For if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Romans 8:13). Therefore it becomes not only possible, but actual. Thus "our instruments of unrighteousness" are turned into "instruments of righteousness unto God" (Romans 6:13).

(3) It is the true consequence of our "death in Christ;" for the apostle says, "Mortify therefore your members," in allusion to this death (Colossians 2:20; Colossians 3:3). We must carry out this principle of death to sin, to the flesh, to the world.

II. THE SPHERE OF THIS MORTIFICATION, "Your members which are upon the earth." He refers:

1. To the instruments of sinfulness. They are called members in allusion to the apostle's figure of sin, as a body of sin (Colossians 2:11), and in allusion to the necessity of the bodily organization to their action. They are "upon the earth," because they belong to our body or our earthly condition, or tend to mere earthly gratification. But they are to be turned into "instruments of righteousness unto God."

2. To the various manifestations of this sinfulness.

(1) Sins affecting our personal life.

(a) Sins of impurity.

(α

) Fornication.

(i.) It is God's will we should abstain from it (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4).

(ii.) It is one of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19).

(iii.) It ought not once to be named among Christians (Ephesians 5:12).

(iv.) It takes away the heart (Hosea 4:11).

(v.) It brings dishonour and shipwreck of character (Proverbs 6:27-29; Proverbs 23:28).

(vi.) The body was made, not for a harlot, but for the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:15, 16). It is a sin against our own bodies.

(vii.) The promises of the gospel ought to engage us to "cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7:1).

(β

) Uncleanness. This is a generic product, as fornication is a specific product, of "the earthly members." The observations in the one apply to the other. Those who commit such sins are "alienated from the life of God through their ignorance and hardness of heart" (Ephesians 4:17), and are "delivered up to a reprobate mind" (Romans 1:24, 26).

(γ

) Lustfulness and evil desire. These point to" the lust of concupiscence" (1 Thessalonians 4:5), which is of the devil (John 8:44), which wars against the soul (1 Peter 2:11), which drowns men in destruction and perdition (1 Timothy 6:9), and keeps men from "coming to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 3:7). These various sins of impurity are to be mortified: how?

(α

) We can only cleanse our hearts by taking heed to the Word (Psalm 119:9).

(β

) By prayer, as the apostle did with the thorn in his flesh (2 Corinthians 12:9).

(γ

) By watchfulness (Proverbs 23:26, 27). We ought to guard against idleness (Ezekiel 46:49), fulness of bread, evil company (Proverbs 1:20).

(δ

) We must not "fulfil the lusts of the flesh," but "put on Christ" (Romans 13:14).

(b) The sin of covetousness. The apostle here introduces a new type of sin by the use of the definite article, as if he thus exhausted the full catalogue of sin in the world. It is curious to find it linked with sins of impurity. Yet it is so elsewhere (1 Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 5:3; 2 Peter 2:14). There is a likeness between these two classes of sins. They both imply an unlawful direction of desires not in themselves unlawful, and they both grow by indulgence. Covetousness:

(α

) Issues, as a defiling thing, "out of the heart of man" (Mark 7:22).

(β

) It implies a greedy and distracting care (Luke 12:15).

(γ

) It exposes to many a piercing sorrow (1 Timothy 6:10).

(δ

) It is a trouble to a man's own house (Proverbs 15:27).

(ε

) It argues little dependence or faith in the Lord (Luke 12:30). Therefore "let us have our conversation without covetousness and be content with such things as we have" (Hebrews 13:5).

(ζ

) Its heinousness - "seeing it is idolatry." It sets up another object of worship besides God. We cannot "serve both God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24). Covetousness is base, because it sets up self in the heart, it is odious to God (Psalm 10:3), turns our hearts away from him (1 John 2:15), and grudges the time spent in God's worship (Amos 8:5). Sins of impurity are the sins of youth as the sin of covetousness is the sin of old age.

III. ARGUMENTS TO ENCOURAGE US TO THIS DUTY OF MORTIFICATION. "For which things' sake cometh the wrath of God upon the sons of disobedience: in the which ye also walked aforetime, when ye lived in these things."

1. The consideration of the wrath of God.

(1) There is wrath in God against all sin. It is the displeasure of a personal God, the moral Governor, against sin, and the moving cause of the punishment he inflicts. It is not identical with the punishment, which is only the effect of it. It is a first principle in natural theology (Romans 1:32); it has its root in the moral excellence of God; and is inseparable from the attitude of God toward moral evil (Hebrews 3:11; Romans 9:22).

(2) It is an enduring fact of God's moral government - "the wrath of God doth come." Nothing has occurred to break the connection between sin and God's anger, except in the case of those whom Christ has "delivered from the wrath to come" (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

(3) It is directed against the sons of disobedience, who disregard alike the principles of Law and gospel.

2. A consideration of the former state of the Colossians. "In the which ye also walked aforetime, when ye lived in these things." It is good to be reminded of our past sin,

(1) because it recalls the misery and guilt of our former state and makes us shrink from the thought of a return to it;

(2) because it humbles us under a sense of our personal unworthiness;

(3) because it quickens our sense of God's mercy that drew us out of it. - T. C.







Mortify, therefore, your members which are upon the earth.
Mortify, therefore, because ye were raised with Christ. The homeliest moral teaching of the Epistle is based upon its "mystical" theology,. Character is the outcome and test of doctrine. But too many people deal with their beliefs as they do with their hassocks and hymn-books in their pews, so it is necessary to put the practical issues very plainly.

I. THE PARADOX OF SELF-SLAYING AS THE ALL-EMBRACING DUTY OF A CHRISTIAN. "Mortify" conveys less than is meant. "Slay your members" is the spiritual duty which stands over against the error of "severity to the body" against which the Colossians had been warned (Colossians 2:23). It consists in the destruction of the passions and desires.

1. Paul's anthropology regards men as wrong and having to get right. A great deal of moral teaching talks as if men were rather inclined to be good, and its lofty sentiments go over people's heads. The serpent has twined itself round my limbs, and unless you give me a knife to cut its loathsome coils it is cruel to bid me walk. Culture is not the beginning of good husbandry. You must first stub up the thorns and sift out the poisonous weeds or you will have wild grapes.

2. The root of all such slaying is being dead with Christ to the world. What asceticism cannot do in that it is weak through the flesh, union with Christ will do; it will subdue sin in the flesh.

3. There must, however, he vigorous determination. "Slaying" cannot be pleasant and easy. It is easier to cut off the hand which is not me than to sacrifice passions and desires which are myself. The paths of religion are ways of pleasantness, but they are steep, and climbing is not easy. The way to heaven is not by "the primrose path." That leads to "the everlasting bonfire." Men obtain forgiveness and eternal life as a gift by faith; but they achieve holiness, which is the permeating of their characters with that eternal life, by patient believing effort.

II. A GRIM CATALOGUE OF THE CONDEMNED TO DEATH. Paul stands like a jailer at the prison door, with the fatal roll in his hand, and reads out the names of the evildoers for whom the tumbril waits to carry them to the guillotine. It is an ugly list, but we need plain speaking, for these evils are rampant now.

1. Fornication covers the whole ground of immoral sexual relations.

2. All uncleanness embraces every manifestation in word, look, or deed of the impure spirit.

3. Passion and evil desire are sources of evil deeds, and include all forms of hungry appetite for "the things that are upon the earth."

4. Covetousness, whose connection with sensuality is significant. The worldly nature flies for solace either to the pleasures of appetite or acquisition. How many respectable middle-aged gentlemen are now mainly devoted to making money whose youth was foul with sensual indulgence. Covetousness is "promoted vice, lust superannuated." And it is idolatry, a fetish worship, which is the religion of thousands who masquerade as Christians.

III. THE EXHORTATION IS ENFORCED BY A SOLEMN NOTE OF WARNING (ver. 6).

1. The thought of wrath is unwelcome because thought inconsistent with God's love. But wrath is love wounded, thrown back upon itself, and compelled to assume the form of aversion, and to do its "strange work" of punishment. God would not be holy if it were all the same to Him whether a man was good or bad; and the modern revulsion against "wrath" is usually accompanied with weakened conceptions of God's holiness. Instead of exalting, it degrades His love to free it from the admixture of wrath, which is like alloy with gold, giving firmness to what were else too soft for use. Such a God is not love but impotent good nature.

2. The wrath "cometh." That may express the continuous present incidence of wrath or the present of prophetic certainty. That wrath comes now in plain and bitter consequences, and the present may be taken as the herald of a still more solemn manifestation of the Divine displeasure. The first fiery drops that fell on Lot's path as he fled were not more surely percursors of an overwhelming rain, nor bade him flee for his life more urgently, than the present punishment of sin proclaims its own future punishment, and exhorts us to flee to Jesus from the wrath to come.

IV. A FURTHER MOTIVE IS THE REMEMBRANCE OF A SINFUL PAST.

1. "Walking." That in which men walk is the atmosphere encompassing them; or to walk in anything is to have the active life occupied by it. The Colossians had trodden the evil path and inhaled the poisonous atmosphere. "Lived" means more than "Your natural life was passed among them." In that sense they still lived there. But whereas they were now living in Christ, the phrase describes the condition which is the opposite of the present — "When the roots of your life, tastes, affections, etc., were immersed, as in some feculent bog, in these and kindred evils."

2. This retrospect is meant to awaken penitence and to kindle thankfulness, and by both emotions to stimulate the resolute casting aside of that evil in which they once, like others, wallowed. The gulf between the present and the past of a regenerate man is too wide and deep to be bridged by flimsy compromises. It is impossible to walk firmly if one foot be down in the gutter and the other up on the curbstone.

V. WE HAVE AS CONCLUSION A STILL WIDER EXHORTATION TO AN ENTIRE STRIPPING OFF OF THE SINS OF THE OLD STATE (vers. 8, 9).

1. The Colossians, as well as other heathen, had been walking and living in muddy ways; but now their life was hid, etc., and that in common with a community to join which they had left another. Let them keep step with their new comrades, and strip themselves, as their new associates do, of the uniform they wore in that other regiment.

2. This second catalogue of vices summarizes the various forms of wicked hatred in contrast with the various forms of wicked love in the other list. The fierce rush of unhallowed passion is put first, and the contrary flow of chill malignity second; for in the spiritual world as in the physical, a storm blowing from one quarter is usually followed by violent gales from the opposite. Lust ever passes into cruelty, and dwells "hard by hate." Malice is evil desire iced.(1) Auger. There is a righteous anger which is part of the new man; but here it is the inverted reflection of the earthly and passionate lust after the flesh. If anger rises keep the lid on, and don't let it get the length of wrath. But do not think that its suppression is enough, saying, "I did not show it" — strip off anger, the emotion as well as the manifestation. But "I have naturally a hot disposition"; but Christianity was sent to subdue and change natural dispositions.(2) Malice. Anger boils over in wrath, and then cools down into malignity; and malice as cold and colourless as sulphuric acid, and burning like it is worse than boiling rage.(3) It is significant that while the expressions of wicked love were deeds, those of wicked hate are words. The "blasphemy" of Authorised Version is bitter "railing" of Revised Version — speech that injures, which when directed against God is blasphemy, and against man vituperation.

4. Lying has its proper place here because it comes from a deficiency of love or a predominance of selfishness. A lie ignores my brother's claims upon me, and is poisoned bread instead of the heavenly manna of pure truth.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

A brave officer said once to his soldiers in a day of battle, "Unless you kill your enemies they will kill you." In like manner may it be said, "Unless we crucify the flesh, it will be our everlasting ruin."

I. THE SINFUL PRINCIPLE HAS AN ACTIVE OUTWARD DEVELOPMENT.

1. It is mundane in its tendencies. "Your members," etc. It teaches the soul to grovel when it ought to soar.

2. It is manifested in acts of gross sensuality. "Fornication," etc.

3. It is recognized by debasing idolatry. Covetousness is insatiable lust for material possessions.

II. THE ACTIVE OUTGOINGS OF THE SINFUL PRINCIPLE CALL FOR DIVINE VENGEANCE (ver. 6). The wrath of God is not a malignant unreasoning passion. Nor is it a figure of speech into which the maudlin philosophers of the day would fain resolve it, but an awful reality.

III. THE INDULGENCE OF THE SINFUL PRINCIPLE IN MAN IS INCONSISTENT WITH THE NEW LIFE HE HAS IN CHRIST (ver. 7).

IV. THAT THE SINFUL PRINCIPLE IN MAN IS THE SOURCE OF THE MOST MALIGNANT PASSIONS (vers. 8, 9). The former classification embraced sins which related more especially to self: this includes sins which have a bearing upon others.

1. There are sins of the heart and temper.

2. There are sins of the tongue.

V. THE SINFUL PRINCIPLE IN MAN, AND ALL ITS OUT-GOINGS, MUST BE WHOLLY RENOUNCED AND RESOLUTELY MORTIFIED. "Now ye also put off all these" (vers. 8, 9).

(G. Barlow.)

flesh: — A brave officer said once to his soldiers in a day of battle, "Unless you kill your enemies, they will kill you." In like manner may it be said, "Unless we crucify the flesh, it will be our everlasting ruin."

Punting after perfection Dr. Judson strove to subdue every sinful habit and senseward tendency. Finding that for want of funds the Mission was languishing, he cast into the treasury his patrimonial estate. Finding that his nicety and love of neatness interfered with his labours among the filthy Karens, he sought to vanquish this repugnance by nursing those sick of most loathsome diseases. Finding that his youthful love of fame was not utterly extinguished, he threw into the fire his correspondence, including a letter of thanks he had received from the Governor General of India, and every document which might contribute to his posthumous renown. And finding that his soul still clave unto the earth, he took temporary leave of all his friends, and retired into a but on the edge of the jungle, and subsisting on a little rice, for several weeks he gave himself entirely to communion with God.

(T. Hamilton, D. D.)

My gardeners were removing a large tree which grew near a wall and as it would weaken the wall to stub up the roots, it was agreed that the stump should remain in the ground. But how were we to prevent the stump from sprouting, and so disarranging the gravel-walk. The gardener's prescription was, to cover it with a layer of salt. I mused awhile, and thought that the readiest way to keep down my ever-sprouting corruptions in future would be to sow them well with the salt of grace. O Lord, help me so to do.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

When Sir Christopher Wren was engaged in demolishing the ruins of old St. Paul's in order to make room for his new cathedral, he used a battering-ram with which thirty men continued to beat upon a part of the wall for a whole day. The work men, not discerning any immediate effect, thought this a waste of time; but Wren, who knew that the internal motion thus communicated must be operating, encouraged them to persevere. On the second day, the wall began to tremble at the top, and fell in a few hours. If our prayers and repentances do not appear to overcome our corruptions, we must continue still to use these gracious battering-rams, for in due time by faith in Jesus Christ the power of evil shall be overthrown. Lord, enable me to give hearty blows by the power of thy Holy Spirit until the gates of hell in my soul shall be made to totter and fall.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Covetousness
1. Is a thirst for gain. When it burns in a man's heart, he must make some effort to obtain relief. He must try either to extinguish or satisfy it; to starve it by a religious self-denial, or feed it by a carnal indulgence.

2. Covetousness is ruinous to the individual, to the nation, and to the Church, and the elements which go to constitute the material prosperity of each contain in them the seeds of ruin. Hence the stern exhortation, "Take heed and beware of covetousness."

I. ITS COMPANY. Things and men are known by the company they keep. It is the companion of fornication. The collocation is not accidental, it is uniform (1 Corinthians 5:11; Ephesians 5:3; 2 Peter 2:14.) When a man has plunged into some fashionable vice, he is indignant to find that the law makes him stand side by side with more vulgar convicts. So with covetous people who find themselves here branded with the same infamy as the unclean. All its respectability is here stripped off. Covetousness is like sins of uncleanness, in that it is —

1. The unlawful direction and acting of desires not in themselves unlawful. Its great strength lies here. The complex apparatus of trade is innocently and dutifully set in motion; but who shall tell when it ceases to be impelled by virtue and begins to be impelled by vice. But the evil spirit enters, and when mammon gets the power, he allows others to retain the name: and the love of money takes the place of a God-fearing, man-loving sense of duty, as the motive-power in a man's soul.

2. It grows by indulgence. It grows by what it feeds on. The desire of the mind as well as of the body is inflamed by tasting its unhallowed gratification. It burns in the breast like a fire, and fuel added, increases its burning. And the man who makes money an object to be aimed at for its own sake is by common consent called a miser (miserable one). Mammon first entraps, and then tortures its victims. Many would be afraid to dally with approaches to lasciviousness (Proverbs 5:5). But the two lusts are born brothers.

3. The least incipient indulgence displeases God, and sears the conscience. Although the disease may never grow to such a height that men will call you a miser, yet He who looketh on the heart is angry when He sees a covetous desire. He who has said "Whoso looketh on a woman to lust after her," etc., has not a more indulgent rule whereby to judge this kindred sin.

II. ITS CHARACTER. Idolatry. Other Scriptures less directly, but no less surely, affirm the same (Luke 16:13; 1 Timothy 6:17; Job 31:25-28). It is not the form or name of the idol that God regards, but the heart-homage of the worshipper. This leads us back to the former topic; idolatry is represented as uncleanness in the Bible. God is our Husband, and to transfer our affections from Him is adultery.

(W. Arnot, D. D.).

The Romans worshipped their standards; and the Roman standard happened to be an eagle. Our standard is only one-tenth of an eagle — a dollar — but we make all even by adoring it with tenfold devotion.

(Edgar A. Poe.)

Mr. Fuller was one day taken into the Bank of England, where one of the clerks, to whom he had occasion to speak, showed him some ingots of gold. He took one of them into his hand, examined it with some care, and then, laying it down, remarked to his friend, "How much better to have this in the hand than in the heart!"

I. WHAT IS COVETOUSNESS?

1. There is a good covetousness (1 Corinthians 12:31), as of grace and glory.

2. Sinful: to love the world inordinately.(1) In the inordinate desire of riches — above God's glory and our own spiritual good.(2) In the sinful acquiring them

(a)As to matter — another's goods (1 Kings 21.).

(b)As to manner and means — unjust (Proverbs 10:2; Proverbs 28:8).(3) In the wrongful retaining them — not laying them out for the ends God has appointed.

II. WHAT IS IDOLATRY?

1. External.

2. Internal: worship given to what is not God (John 4:24).

III. How is COVETOUSNESS IDOLATRY?

1. In that

(1)man admires riches (Romans 11:33).

(2)Loves it (Matthew 22:37).

(3)Desires it (Psalm 73:25).

(4)Fears losing it (Matthew 10:28).

(5)Trusts on (1 Timothy 6:17; Mark 10:23, 24).

(6)Grieves for the loss of.

(7)Rejoices in (Philippians 4:4).

(8)Labours after (Matthew 6:33).

2. Objections.(1) "I worship no images." Yes, of thine own fancy.(2) "I do not fall down to them." But in thy soul, and that is the principal.(3) "I offer no sheep or rams." But thyself. The Phoenicians and Carthaginians offered men, but yours is the greater sin. For they offered bodies not souls, others not themselves.(4) "We do not look upon them as gods." You do in effect, because as the chiefest good. You know them to be no gods, and yet worship them as such.

IV. SIGNS.

1. Such as whose thoughts run more upon earth than heaven (Luke 12:22, 25, 29).

2. Whose joy and grief depend on out ward successes (Luke 12:19).

3. Who strive to be rich, but no matter how.

4. Whose desires increase with their estate.

5. Who grudge the time spent in Divine duty (Amos 8:5).

6. Whose hearts are upon the world, while their body is before God (Ezekiel 33:31).

7. Who do not improve the estates God has given them (Matthew 25:24-25).

V. USE. Avoid it. Consider —

1. How odious it is to God (Psalm 10:3).

2. How injurious to our neighbour.

3. Dangerous to us (1 John 2:15; 1 Timothy 6:10). It fills the heart with anxiety (1 Timothy 6:9-10) and will certainly keep us from heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

4. Foolish in itself.

(1)To act so much below ourselves.

(2)To throw away our souls for vanity (Matthew 16:26).

(3)To spend that little time on earth, wherein we should prepare for heaven.

(4)To make oneself a slave for he knows not whom (Psalm 39:6; Ecclesiastes 4:8).

VI. MEANS.

1. Think much of the vanity of earth and the glory of heaven.

2. Act faith in the promises (Psalm 36:25; Hebrews 13:5).

3. Meditate on the universal providence of God, and His fatherly care (Luke 12:31, 32; Matthew 6:25, etc.).

4. Be much in prayer.

5. Often remember the text (1 John 5:21).

(Bp. Beveridge.)

Idolatry is the earliest thing mentioned in the decalogue, and coveting the latest. The two tables bend round and touch each other so closely that he who breaks the tenth commandment breaks the first. The inordinate love and pursuit of wealth are simply heathenish, and are put down on the same level as the worship of images. Gold seems in many respects very like a god.

I. IN THE ATTRIBUTES IT POSSESSES.

1. Omniscience. Wealth seems to know everything. Let any novelty be presented and men will know of it instantly. You cannot keep any plan or line of business secret if there is any money in it.

2. Omnipresence. The least opening for business invites competition, and so wealth rushes in. "Mammon wins its way where seraphs might despair."

3. Omnipotence. How many of us know to our sorrow the power of riches! the overmastering, crushing opposition it sets up before every poor man's enterprise. Gold rules the world, covers the land, buys up the offices of the nation, sways the sceptre of social influence.

II. THE WORSHIP IT ATTRACTS.

1. The roar of excited men who clamour with each other in the death grapple of competition, how little does it differ from the cries of the Town Hall of Ephesus.

2. But this is not mere lip-worship. The devotees are as desperately in earnest as the priests of Baal on Carmel. Body and soul are consecrated.

III. THE FAVOURS IT BESTOWS. The fine residence, the gorgeous apparel, the flowing wine, the tremulous obeisance of the seedy gentleman, the obsequious flattery of the lady whose charms have faded, the adulation of the crowd, the flutter in the market, the cringe of ancient enemies; and then the fine funeral, and the marble tomb. "Verily they have their reward." Wealth, as a duty, is not remarkably beneficent, but it would be uncandid to say that he has nothing to bestow on his faithful devotees. The world likes priestcraft; and the priest has power according to his nearness to his duty, and to the faith of the populace. And hence there is no hierarchy so absolutely revered, feared, and obeyed as those who crowd the temples of gold.

IV. THE SCOURGES IT INFLICTS. The temples of heathenism are beautiful, but the gods are ugly because malignant. They are supposed to maltreat and even eat their subjects, and mammon is well typed in them. His most noticeable characteristic is that he loves to trample on and devour his devotees. "He that trusteth in his riches shall fall." There are some sins which seem to be considered by the Almighty as sufficient for their own punishment, such as pride and anger; passion means suffering. So here this trusting in riches possesses a kind of inflated power to baloon one up to such a height that he suffocates and falls headlong into ruin. It is painful to see how rich men pitch on each other when any one falls into difficulty. The horrible heartlessness with which a neighbourhood will devour a broken estate reminds one of the fabled furies. Conclusion:

1. See, then, why God strikes against this sin. It sets up another god in the place of Him. One of the Roman Emperors offered Jesus a place beside Jupiter. It would not do then, neither will it now. God will have all or none.

2. See how covetousness destroys grace and piety. "What agreement hath the temple of God with idols?"

3. See how it ruins all one's future, "Ephraim is joined to his idols," etc. But when one's god is gone, where is he! Shrouds have no pockets.

4. See how it prevents all hope of progress in a Church. "Will a man rob God," etc.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh
I. THE DESTRUCTIVE CONSEQUENCE

1. The cause, "fornication," etc., not that we should conclude that it is peculiar to these sins alone to excite the Divine wrath, but because upon these which especially overthrow human happiness God is especially provoked (Hebrews 10:31). The apostle wished to point out distinctly the cause of human misery and Divine judgment.(1) That God might be cleared from all suspicion of injustice. God the Father of mercies is not indifferent to evil, but is incensed against it.(2) To throw a restraint on the wicked. Those who are proof against reason and right may yield to fear.

2. The effect. The wrath of God; or the punishment inflicted by wrath. says, "The anger of God is not the perturbation of an excited mind, but the tranquil constitution of righteous judgment. This wrath is particularly connected with sins of the kind referred to here (Genesis 6:11, 17; Genesis 18:20; Genesis 19:24).

3. The persons subjected to it "Children of disobedience." Two crimes are involved — unbelief and disobedience, the latter as the genuine offspring of the former (1 Peter 3:20; Matthew 24:38-39; Genesis 19:14; Zechariah 7:11).

4. From these things draw the following instructions.(1) Under public calamities we must not murmur against God; but impute them to our sins.(2) Oppose to solicitation to sin the consideration of the Divine wrath.(3) Nothing is more to be desired than the Divine favour, nothing more to be dreaded than the Divine wrath.(4) God is not so much prevoked by sin as by the obstinacy of the sinner.(5) How ever much the children of disobedience flatter themselves, the wrath now cometh upon them, and will come, and will not tarry.(6) The same holds good of God's children when disobedient.

II. THE REMOVAL OF THE CAUSE (ver. 7). Sin is the reigning cause of a wicked life; but sin is not living in you, but mortified; the cause, therefore, having ceased, the effect ceases.

1. From the consideration of their former life learn —(1) Nothing is more unhappy than unrenewed man. To walk in sin with pleasure is to hasten towards hell with pleasure (Romans 6:23).(2) The fruits of a man in a corrupt state are not works preparatory to grace, or, deserving of eternal life — congruity, as the schoolmen say — but are preparatory to hell, and meritorious of eternal death, from condignity.

2. From their new state learn —(1) It is not idle for the renewed to call to mind their former state, inasmuch as the apostle reminds the Colossians of theirs, not to upbraid, but to encourage them.(2) Christians ought not to take it amiss when ministers remind them of their former state (Romans 6:19; 1 Corinthians 6:10-11; Ephesians 2:11-13).(3) The regenerate receive a twofold advantage from a notice of this kind. They are excited

(a)To gratitude (Romans 6:17; 1 Timothy 1:12-13).

(b)To newness of life (Romans 13:12; Ephesians 5:8).

(Bishop Davenant.)

It is not merely a thing of the past, as seen in the deluge, the destruction of Sodom, the overthrow of Israel in the wilderness; nor a thing wholly reserved for the world to come. It cometh as an enduring and essential principle of the Divine government. In physical debility and disease, in a shattered constitution, in dethroned reason, in destroyed power, you often witness the working of a righteous retribution, the marks of Divine indignation against sin. A sight of terrible penalty under God's law is it, to see a man carrying to a premature grave the evidences in his body of God's curse on sins of sensuality; to see the rich man, who has lived in avarice for gold, and has amassed it in millions, now in his old age unable to enjoy it, and haunted with the idea of dying in a workhouse; to see a man of pleasure, who has tried and exhausted all the resources of the world in finding it, now ending his days as a gloomy maniac. Yet these cases are nothing as compared with "the wrath to come; "only a few drops from a dark and dismal cloud, which will hereafter discharge itself in a storm of "judgment and fiery indignation."

(J. Spence, D. D.)

Men are sent to the ants to learn diligence, to the conies to learn that there is a way which terminates in a great rock, to the locusts to learn how littles, when combined, may become mighty, sufficient for all the duty and obligation of the day. What if it be found at last that all the lower orders and ranks of creation have been obedient, dutiful, loyal, and that the child only has wounded the great heart. "The ox knoweth his owner," etc. God has no trouble with His creatures — no trouble with His great constellations — they never mutinied against Him; He has had no trouble with His forests, no rebel host ever banded themselves there. Where has His sorrow lain! His own child, His beloved one, in whom He has written, in fairest hues, the perfectness of His own beauty, that child has lifted up his puny fist and smitten Him, not in the face only, but in His heart of love, which can be only forgiven by shedding sacrificial blood.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

"Let the sickles alone," said a farmer to his son, who was left in the fields while the reapers went to dinner. James obeyed his father for a time; but at length he grew lonesome, and took up a sickle, "just to look at it." He then felt its edge, and at last thought he would cut "one handful." In so doing, he cut his little finger, inflicting a wound which rendered the middle joint useless for life. When it was healed an ugly scar and a stiff finger were lasting mementoes of his disobedience. Disobedience to his heavenly Father leaves a scar on the sinner's soul, and lessens his capacity for virtue.

(E. Foster.)

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present; they increase more and more, and rise higher and higher, till an outlet is given; and the higher the stream is stopped, the more rapid and mighty is its course, when once it is let loose. If God should only withdraw His hand from the flood-gate, it would immediately fly open, and the fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God would rush forth with inconceivable fury, and would come upon you with omnipotent power; and if your strength were ten thousand times greater than it is, yea, ten thousand times greater than the strength of the stoutest, sturdiest devil in hell, it would be nothing to withstand or endure it.

(Jonathan Edwards.)

But now ye also put off all these
I once walked into a garden with a lady to gather some flowers. There was one large bush whose branches were bending under the weight of the most beautiful roses. We both gazed upon it with admiration. There was one flower on it which seemed to shine above all the rest in beauty. This lady pressed forward into the thick bush, and reached far over to pluck it. As she did this a black snake, which was hid in the bush, wrapped itself round her arm. She was alarmed beyond all description, and ran from the garden screaming, and almost in convulsions. During all that day she suffered very much with fear; her whole body trembled, and it was a long time before she could be quieted. That lady is still alive. Such is her hatred now of the whole serpent race, that she has never since been able to look at a snake, even though it were dead. No one could ever persuade her to venture again into a cluster of bushes, even to pluck a beautiful rose. Now this is the way the sinner acts who truly repents of his sins. He thinks of sin as the serpent that once coiled itself round him. He hates it. He dreads it. He flies from it. He fears the places where it inhabits. He does not willingly go into the haunts. He will no more play with sin than this lady would afterwards have fondled snakes.

(Bishop Meade.)

There are a great many men who are like one of my roses. I bought a Gloire de Dijon. It was said to be one of the few everblooming roses. It was grafted on a manetti-stalk — a kind of dog-rose, a rampant and enormous grower, and a very good stalk to graft fine roses on. I planted it. It throve the first part of the summer, and the last part of the summer it grew with great vigour; and I quite gloried, when the next spring came, in my Gloire de Dijon. It had wood enough to make twenty such roses as these finer varieties usually have; and I was in the amplitude of triumph. I said, "My soil suits it exactly in this climate; and I will write an article for the Monthly Gardener, and tell what luck I have had with it." So I waited and waited and waited till at blossomed; and behold! it was one of these worthless, quarter-of-a-dollar, single-blossomed roses. And when I came to examine it I found that it was grafted, and that there was a little bit of a graft down near the ground, and that it was the manetti-sprout that had grown to such a prodigious size. Now, I have seen a great many people converted, in whom the conversion did not grow, but the old nature did.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. THE GENERAL PERSUASION.

1. The circumstance of time — "now." Ye did indulge in these as long as sin lived, but now, since sin is mortified, ye must put these things away (Romans 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6).

2. The act commanded. The word may be explained either to "put off" as men put off their old and dirty clothes, or to "lay aside" from the affections and senses, as dead bodies shut up in sepulchres. The last best agrees with "mortify."

3. Learn then —(1) We must not account sin a pleasure, but a thing to be hated as deadly poison, or to be avoided as a putrid carcase.(2) This putting off applies to all sin, of which anger, etc., are only samples.

II. We are to put off SINS OF THE HEART.

1. What they are.(1) Anger, an inordinate desire to injure one's neighbour for some past offence. Damascenus defines it as "an appetite for revenge," and in this what the schoolmen term the "formal" of anger is contained.(2) Wrath denotes the hasty excitement of this passion, and that accession of blood round the heart which schoolmen call the "material" of anger. "Wrath," says Damascenus, "is the boiling up of the blood around the heart, and arises from the kindling of resentment."(3) Malice some affirm to be that vicious propensity which infects all the affections and desires, and inclines them to evil; and Bernard, "the taste for evil," which makes evil sweet and good insipid. But it is rather that machination of evil in the heart which is wont to arise from anger in malevolent minds (Genesis 4:5; Genesis 27:41).

2. The reasons why they should be extirpated. Because —(1) Through anger wisdom is lost, and reason for the time extinguished (Ecclesiastes 7:19). "Anger is a short madness."(2) Justice is violated for while an exasperated mind sits in judgment everything which its fury may suggest it thinks right (James 1:20; Genesis 34:1.; cf. Genesis 49:7)(3) The kindness of social life is lost (Proverbs 22:24).(4) The illumination of the Spirit is shut out.(5) Forgiveness of sin is hindered (Matthew 11:26).(6) The attribute of God is usurped with sacrilegious audacity (Proverbs 20:22; Deuteronomy 32:35). An angry man makes himself the judge, and would have God the executioner.

3. But is all anger unlawful? No! for God has implanted in the mind the faculty of anger, and Christ was angry (Mark 3:5). Hence the apostle enjoins, "Be ye angry and sin not."(1) Anger is good —(a)Which arises from a good motive, viz., from the love of God or our neighbour.(b) Which tends to a good end, the glory of God and the correction of our neighbour.(c) Which proceeds according to a good rule, awaiting or following the determination of reason. Basil would have anger to be a bridled horse, which obeys reason as a curb.(2) Anger is evil —(a) Which arises from a bad beginning — hatred or love of praise.(b) Which tends to a bad end — revenge and our neighbour's injury.(c) Which is exercised in an improper manner, forestalling the judgment of reason.

III. SINS OF THE MOUTH, arising from the inordinate affections of the heart.

1. What they are.(1) Evil speaking. Blasphemy means injuring the fame of another by evil words.(a) It is offered to God; first, when that which is repugnant to His nature is attributed to Him; secondly, when that which most befits Him is taken away; thirdly, when that which is His property is attributed to the creature. So heinous was it that God made it a capital crime (Leviticus 24:16, 23).(b) It is offered to man (Romans 3:8; 1 Corinthians 4:13; Titus 3:2), and is secret (detraction) and open (railing). Rash and angry persons take the open course; the crafty and malicious the secret. Its grievousness is evident. First, it greatly injures the person himself. His reputation, a principal external blessing is wounded, and is not easy to repair, since the quantity of the loss cannot be estimated. Secondly, it greatly injures those who take it up, engendering as it does suspicions and strifes (Psalm 120:2). Thirdly, it is a great injury done to God. For as He is praised in the saints when the works He effects in them are praised; so when they are defamed He is defamed.(2) Corollaries.(a) Such as respect the blasphemers. First, the habit argues an unregenerate state, for it is one of the principal deeds of the old man. Second, slanderers are unhappy, for, as Nazianzen says, "It is the extreme of misery to place one's comfort not in one's own happiness, but in the evils of others." Third, they are the disciples of the devil (Revelation 12:10).(b) Such as respect hearers. First, since it is so great a crime, those who delight to hear it are not void of sin. Each has a devil; this in the ear, that in the tongue. Second, it behoves a pious man to turn away from and reprove slanderers, and to defend his brother (Proverbs 25:23; Psalm 101:5; Job 29:17).(c) Respecting those injured. First, grieve more for the slanderer than for what he says. Second, slander harms not a good conscience. Third, there is the counterbalancing testimony of conscience and good men. Fourth, do not be provoked to return evil for evil (1 Corinthians 5:12).

2. Filthy communication (Ephesians 2:29; 1 Corinthians 15:33). This is to be avoided because —

(1)It makes that most precious and peculiar faculty of speech foul and ridiculous.

(2)It indicates a corrupt mind.

(3)It is opposed to the sacred profession of a Christian (Ephesians 5:3-4).

(4)It corrupts speaker and hearers. Wherefore rebuke it in others. Avoid it yourselves.

(Bishop Davenant.)

There is an anger that in damnable; it is the anger of selfishness. There is an anger that is majestic as the frown of Jehovah's brow; it is the anger of truth and love. If a man meets with injustice, it is not required that he should not be roused to meet it; but if he is angry after he has had time to think upon it that is sinful. The flame is not wrong, but the coals are.

(H. W. Beecher.)

There are households where this demon of anger governs all at its pleasure, incessantly troubling the concord of husband and wife, the union of parents and children, and the peace of masters and servants. There is nothing done, nothing said, but in anger. You would say of these houses, that they are the fabled cavern of Eolus, where the winds shut up in it are heard night and day, roaring and blustering. There is no climate, no sea, no coast in all the earth, where storms are greater or more frequent. For whereas natural tempests happen but at some seasons of the year, in these miserable houses no calm is ever seen; and there needs but one petty action, one word, yea, one look, to raise storms of many days' continuance: as it is said of certain lakes in the mountains of Berne, that if one cast but a stone into them, the surrounding air becomes turbid, and is immediately filled with winds and clouds, which soon issue lightning, thunder, and excessive rain. Yea, there are some whose passion is so violent, that it cannot be kept within the enclosure of their houses. It issues out of doors, and without respect to the faces of those who pass by, without apprehension of scandal, audaciously shows itself in public, and acts its tragedies in the presence of all the world.

(J. Daille.)

When M. de Persigny was French Minister of the Interior he received a visit one day from a friend. A warm discussion arose between them. Suddenly an usher entered and handed the minister a note. On opening it he at once changed his tone of voice, and assumed a quiet and urbane manner. Puzzled as to the contents of the note, and by the marked effect it had suddenly produced upon the minister, his friend cast a furtive glance at it, when, to his astonishment, he perceived that it was simply a plain sheet of paper. More puzzled than ever the gentleman took his leave, and proceeded to interrogate the usher. "Sir," said he, "here is the explanation, which I must beg you to keep secret. My master is very liable to lose his temper. As he is aware of his weakness, he has ordered me, each time his voice is raised sufficient to be audible in the ante-room, without delay to place a sheet of paper in an envelope and take it to him. That reminds him that his temper is getting the better of him, and he at once calms himself. Just now I heard his voice rising, and immediately carried out my instructions."

(W. Baxendale.)

The word is of great extent, and signifies in general that venom and evil of sin which is diffused through any one of our passions, whichever it be. But here, as frequently elsewhere, I suppose it is taken for the malignity of anger; when a mischievous and vindictive stomach inwardly broods on its passion, and feeds its fire under the ashes, hatching some ill turn for the person it aims at, and waiting for opportunity to break out. Such a man works under ground, as miners do, and appears not till the ruin he prepares for his enemy is fully ready. His passion is like a stinted fire, that does not burn up till its season. Of all kinds of auger, there is none more black and malignant in itself, or more noxious and pernicious in its effects. Wherefore the apostle calls it malice, naughtiness, or malignity particularly; and it seems to be the same thing he elsewhere calls bitterness.

(J. Daille.)

Though the term, in our tongue, imports words spoken to the offence of God, when things unworthy of his greatness, and holiness, and truth, are attributed to Him, or those which belong to Him are denied Him; or when that which is proper to His divinity is communicated to creatures; yet in the Greek, that is, in the language the apostle speaks, the word "blasphemy" generally signifies any offensive, injurious speech, whoever it concerns, whether God, or angels, or men. Tim truth is, this word, if we respect its origin or etymology, simply denotes injuring the reputation, or offending some one's honour. Consequently, St. Paul uses it not only here, but also in other places, to signify such revilings and detractions as are directed properly to men, and not to God (1 Corinthians 4:13; Titus 3:2).

(J. Daille.)

While the Lord desires us to consider the good qualities with which He has endowed His creatures, to the end that we might praise and esteem them, and imitate them, the evil-speaker looks upon nothing but their defects and vices. And as vultures fly over fair meadows, and flowery and sweet-smelling fields, and alight only on dunghills, and places full of carrion and infection; and as flies, without touching the sound parts of the body, fasten only upon sores and ulcers; so the evil-speaker, without so much as noticing what is graceful and happy in the lives of men, falls upon that which is weak and sickly in them. If they have chanced to stumble, as is very ordinary in this infirmity of our nature, it is upon this that he fixes; in this he takes pleasure, this he gladly exposes and publishes, amplifying and exaggerating it with his infernal rhetoric. It is by this he knows persons; it is by this he marks them out and describes them; as bad painters, who represent nothing so exactly as the moles and scars of the faces which they draw, the deformity of the nose, the protuberance of the lips, and other such marks which they have from the birth, or receive by some accident. Charity covers sins, and forgets them; the evil-speaker divulges them, and remembers them perpetually, and takes out of the grave that which had been buried in oblivion, and brings it to light again. He loves pollution, and feeds on nothing but poisons and filth. And for this end he has always a sufficient store of such provision by him. His memory is a magazine, or rather a sink, where he heaps up the villainies, the sins, and the scandals, not of his own neighbourhood, or his own quarter only, but of the whole city; yea, if he possibly can, of the whole state. It is from this diabolical treasury that he derives the subject of his sweetest thoughts and most pleasing entertainments. These things are his perfumes and his dainties. But he is not content only to rake together and lay open the imperfections which he finds in his neighbours; he is so malignant that he feigns more, and fancies some where there are none. He spreads it abroad for truth; and that he may persuade others of it, he artificially colours his fictions, giving out shows for truths, and shadows for substances. He so bitterly hates all good, that where he sees any he bespatters, blackens, and disguises it, and causes it to pass for evil. And as the snail sullies the lustre of the fairest flowers with its sordid slime; just so this bad man, by the poison of his malignity, defames the most grateful virtues, and turns them into vices. He takes valour for temerity, and patience for stupidity: justice for cruelty, and prudence for craftiness. Him that is liberal he calls prodigal, and the frugal person covetous. If you be religious, be will not fail to accuse you of superstition; and if you be free and generous, and far from superstition, he will accuse you of being profane. In fact, there is no virtue nor perfection for which this wicked man has not found an infamous name, taken from the vice that borders next upon it. To this iniquity he usually adds a base and black piece of treachery, when, to cause his poisons to be the more easily swallowed, he mischievously sugars them, beginning his detractions with a preface of praise, and with an affected commendation of the persons whom he intends to revile; protesting, at his entrance, that he loves and respects them, for the purpose of creating a belief that it is nothing but the mere force and evidence of truth that constrains him to speak evil of them. He kisses his man at meeting, and then murders him, as Joab formerly did: he crowns his victims before he kills them: a fraud which, notwithstanding its ordinary occurrence, is the blackest that can be perpetrated.

(J. Daille.)

A lady presented herself to Philip Neri one day, accusing herself of being a slanderer. "Do you frequently fall into this fault?" inquired he. "Yes, my father, very often." "My dear child," said Philip, "your fault is great, but the mercy of God is still greater. For your penance do as follows: Go purchase a chicken, and walk a certain distance, plucking the feathers as you go along. Your walk finished, return to me." Accordingly she repaired to the market, did as she was bidden, and in a short time returned. "Ah," said Philip, "you have been very faithful to the first part of my orders. Retrace your steps, and gather up one by one all the feathers you have scattered." "But, father," exclaimed the poor woman, "I cast them carelessly on every side; the wind carried them in every direction. How can I recover them?" "Well, my child," replied he, "so is it with your words of slander; like the feathers, they have been scattered. Call them back if you can. Go and sin no more."

(W. Baxendale.)

As offensive breath betokens some inward indisposition and corruption; so filthy and dishonest conversation discovers the impurity and unchastity that are in the soul of him who uses it. Hence the apostle in another place expressly puts this among other parts of Christian sanctity, that our conversation be pure, chaste, and honest (Ephesians 5:3-4; Ephesians 4:29).

(J. Daille.)

Christian, Boston.
It is related that General Grant was once sitting in his tent with officers around him, when a general came in in much glee and said: "I have a good story to tell; there are no ladies present, I believe." "No," said General Grant, "but there are gentlemen present." The man's countenance fell; the good story was never told. Some Christians could learn a good lesson from the great commander's remark.

(Christian, Boston.)

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