Deuteronomy 11:26
See, today I am setting before you a blessing and a curse:
Sermons
Vastness of PromiseJ. Orr Deuteronomy 11:22-26
Practical AlternativesJ. Parker, D. D.Deuteronomy 11:26-29
The Blessing and the CurseJ. C. Cumming, D. D.Deuteronomy 11:26-29
The Great AlternativeJ. Orr Deuteronomy 11:26-29
Two MountainsBp. F. D. Huntington.Deuteronomy 11:26-29
Life's Solemn AlternativeR.M. Edgar Deuteronomy 11:26-32
Startling AlternativesD. Davies Deuteronomy 11:26-32


I. GOD SUMMONS US TO DECISION.

1. His revelations lay the ground for it. "Light is come into the world" (John 3:19).

2. They demand it. Men would trifle, but God says, "Now" (2 Corinthians 6:2). Men would put off, but God urges to decision (Joshua 24:15).

3. They shut men up to it. When light comes, decision is inevitable. We must settle what our attitude towards it will be. In decreeing not to choose, we in reality do choose.

II. THE DECISION TO WHICH GOD SUMMONS US TURNS ON A SINGLE POINT. The point is obedience. Will we obey or will we not (ver. 27)? It was so under the Law, and it is so under the gospel. What the gospel asks from us is" the obedience of faith" (Romans 16:26). This tests our disposition thoroughly. True faith carries with it the surrender of the will to God and Christ. It is the root and principle of all holy obedience. Men will not come to Christ; why? The reason is that they cannot bring themselves to yield up their wills to him as he requires. They "love the darkness rather than the light" (John 3:19-22). Refusal to decide for Christ is equivalent, for the time being, to deciding against him (Matthew 12:30).

III. THE DECISION TO WHICH GOD SUMMONS US INVOLVES THE ALTERNATIVE OF A BLESSING AND A CURSE. That was what it came to then, and it is the same still. Blessing or curse; life or death. Whether God is to be our God, blessing us, renewing our inward life, enriching us with his Spirit, bestowing on us grace here and glory hereafter; or whether we are to live beneath his frown, withering up under it in body and soul, and vanishing at last into outer darkness. It is an old question whether a man can voluntarily choose what is for his hurt. Possibly he cannot without first listening to the tempter who bids him believe that the course he pursues will not be for his hurt. But none the less is every sinner taking the path which ends in destruction (Matthew 7:13). His interest, did he but see it, or would he but believe it, is entirely in the line which God wishes him to follow. The terminus of the one road is death (Romans 6:21), of the other life everlasting (Romans 11:22). - J.O.







A blessing and a curse.
Mount Ebal, we are told, "is a barren, stony, and arid crag"; so would God "smite the apostates with barrenness, hunger, and misery." Gerizim was "covered with luxuriant verdure, streams of running water and cool and shady groves;" so would God "bless the faithful Israelites with abundance, beauty and peace." It is a grand prophecy in landscape of the judgments of God's eternal providence. Henceforth their future, in the country they conquer and colonise, is in their own hands. The two ways of national and individual life, to ruin or to glory, part plainly before their eyes. The things shown in that early age of symbols were only outward patterns of what goes on in facts and decisions within us. Gerizim and Ebal raise their significant and speaking summits before every life.

I. For, in other words, LIFE IS OVERSPREAD, PERMEATED, AND BOUND IN, BY GOD'S LAW. That law occupies every inch of its extent and every fibre of its organisation. Obey and be blessed, disobey and be accursed; here is the sharp alternative imprinted on every department of our being. Your body, your business, your appetites, your affections, your intellect, your memory, your judgment, your imagination, your household manners, your talk at the table and in the street, your practice of your profession or performance at your trade, your levity or sobriety, your temper and your tongue, your bargains and your salutations, your correspondence and your meditation, your action and your reveries, your hands, heart, and brain, all are penetrated and encircled by this law.

II. THIS LAW IS PERMANENT AND UNCHANGEABLE, AS ITS AUTHOR IS, BEING THE UNIFORM WILL OF AN UNCHANGEABLE MIND; not one thing for preachers and communicants, but for persons who never chose to confess themselves Christians another and easier thing; not strict for one seventh of your time and lax for six sevenths; not varying with situations and fluctuating with opportunities for concealment or degrees of temptation; not satisfied to be respected in the dwellings at one end of a city while it is despised in the warehouses and offices at the other end.

III. Again, THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS LAW which we are born and live under, in its two-fold working, whether as visiting penalties upon its violators or peace and strength upon its servants — ARE NOT TO BE PREVENTED THOUGH THEY SHOULD BE APPARENTLY OBSCURED OR POSTPONED. This truth requires something more than a theoretic admission. How many of us realise it — that every offence against the Divine Will is certain to bring on, at last, its penal pain ant: sorrow — even its delay aggravating its torment; that every faithful or religious act or feeling must yield its infallible return of joy — the very hindrance enhancing its richness and depth; that Gerizim is sure of the fulfilment of its promise, and Ebal sure of the execution of its warning?

1. Helps enough are given to enable us to realise it. Can we pretend the law is not made plain?

2. We let our short-sightedness be deceived by the slowness of its operation; and, because sentence against our evil works is not executed speedily, suffer our hearts to get set in us to do evil. But the majestic order of nature is not really so stable as the moral results of moral choice, from greatest to least.

IV. With every right-minded Christian it must be a very earnest and very constant prayer, THAT HE MAY GAIN LARGER AND LARGER APPREHENSIONS OF THE EXTENT AND THE SANCTITY OF THIS LAW — the law that puts him on a perpetual choosing between holiness and worldliness, at between blessing and cursing.

V. Another step in the doctrine is TO TRACE UP THIS COMMANDMENT TO ITS CONSCIOUS AND PERSONAL INFINITE SOURCE. The law has its seat in the heart of God. No rigid, unfeeling abstraction is it, but the living Will of a living Father. Choose the right and scorn the wrong; and there will be growing within you a sense of His Almighty Presence, without whom no right could be, and all would be wrong. But remember that moral obedience can never be religious till it has God for its object, God's Will for its guide, and communion with God for its daily inspiration.

VI. And thus we are led up by this order of our subject to discover, finally, THE POSITIVE GRANDEUR OF ALLEGIANCE TO THE DIVINE LAW. That grandeur is witnessed both by its nature and its effects.

1. In its nature. For obedience to the commandment is of itself a noble and valiant element in character. It is no paradox to affirm that the obedient mind is a commanding mind. The law that carries blessings in its right hand and curses in its left appeals to a deeper principle than selfishness. The blessings are not earthly advantages, but those spiritual gifts and honours, like confidence and holiness, love and faith, power and peace, which exclude all thought of self, and are kindred with the glory and purity of heaven. The curses are those elements of spiritual ruin — fear, hatred, passion, jealousy, despair, which impoverish the whole moral creation. The law does not reveal its encouragements and threatenings from Gerizim and Ebal, to make a rich or famous people, but a holy people.

2. So the effect is holiness of life. The commandment is holy, just, and good; and so must its fruit be.

(Bp. F. D. Huntington.)

Moses does not divide the people into two classes: he sets before them alternative courses: — proceed upon the line of obedience, and you come to blessing; proceed along the line of disobedience, and a curse is the inevitable necessity — not a threatening, not an exhibition of fretful vengeance, but a spiritual necessity; a curse follows evil-doing, not as an arbitrary punishment, but as the effect, which can never be changed, of a certain, positive, operating cause. What if everything round about us be confirming the testimony of Moses? What if the Decalogue be written every day of the week? What if in the operation of moral influence it can be distinctly proved that the Bible is true, that the Word of the Lord abideth forever, and that, whatever changes may have occurred, obedience still leads to blessing, disobedience still leads to cursing, and it is not within the wit or the strength of man to change that outgoing of law and consequence? A very precious thing it is that we have only to obey. At first it looks as if we were humbled by this course of service, but further inquest into the spiritual meaning of the matter shows us that in the definition of right and wrong, law and righteousness, God has been most tenderly pitiful towards us, and law is but the practical and more visible and measurable aspect of love. One who knows the universe, because He made it, and all eternity, because He inhabits it, has condescended to tell us what is good, what is true, what is pure, what is right. If we were inspired by the right spirit we would instantly stand up in thankfulness and bless the Giver's name, and ask but one other favour — that we might have eyes to see the innermost meaning of the law, and hearts trained, disciplined, and sanctified to accept and obey it, and express it in noble behaviour. Is it true, within limits that we know, that obedience leads to blessing and disobedience to cursing? Sometimes we have to interrupt the Divine reasoning that we may assist ourselves in its comprehension by the study of analogy upon lower ground. Is it true that there is a seed time, which, if neglected, will be followed by desolation and death?...If all these little outside Bibles are true and can challenge facts to prove their truth, it is not difficult to rise to the higher level, and to say, There may be a Bible meant for the soul; there may be a revelation addressed to the reason, and to the higher reason called faith, and to the higher self called the spirit. This higher revelation has not the immediate advantage of the lower Bibles, because they deal with earth, body, space, time, measurable quantities; but the higher Bible deals with soul, spirit, thought, will, eternity. He who operates within a radius of a few inches can be, apparently, quicker in his movements, more precise and determined in his decisions, than the man who claims the globe as the theatre of his actions. So the Bible, having the disadvantage of dealing with spiritual quantities, must be judged, so far as we can approach it, by the spirit of the lower laws, or the laws applying to the lower economy The argument is this: seeing that in the field, in the body, in the social economy, there is a law of blessing and a law of cursing, who shall say that this same reasoning does not culminate in a great revelation of heaven, hell; "the right hand," "the left hand"; eternal life, everlasting penalty? If the analogies had been dead against that construction, we might by so much have stood in doubt and excused ourselves from completeness of service; but every analogy becomes a preacher: all nature take up her parable and speaks the revelations of her God: all life beats with a pulse below a pulse, the physical throb being but an indication of a growing immortality. We stand in a solemn sanctuary. We cannot get rid of law. The spiritual is a present blessing or a present curse. We cannot be happy with a bad conscience: it hardens the pillow when we need sleep most, it upsets all our arrangements, or makes our hand so tremble that we cannot clutch our own property; and we cannot be unhappy with a good conscience: without bread we are still in fulness, without employment we are still inspired by hope, without much earthly charity or largeness of construction of our motive and force we still retire within the sanctuary of an approved judgment and conscience. Blessing is not a question of posthumous realisation, nor is cursing. Heaven is here, and hell in germ, in outline, in hint, in quick, burning suggestion. Even now sometimes men know not whether they are in the body or out of the body by reason of religious entrancement and ecstasy; and there are men who, if they dare put their feeling into words, would say, "The pains of hell gat hold upon me." "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked"; "Though hand join in band, the wicked shall not be unpunished"; "Be sure your sin will find you out." Who can fight God and win the battle?

(J. Parker, D. D.)

1. What is the blessing set before us? The blessing of him whose sins are forgiven, who lives in God's favour and dies in peace.

2. What is the curse? Just this, "The soul that sins shall die." "Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things written," etc.

3. What is the way to escape the curse? By the death of Christ we are delivered from sin, redeemed from the curse, and by His obedience entitled to a blessing.

4. Which will you choose? Some people think they can make a compromise; that they need not be intensely Christian, as they are not, and will not be intensely worldly. If they do so, it is not really an alteration of their state, but a deception of themselves. You must take the sunshine or the shadow — the evil or the good — the "Come, ye blessed, inherit the kingdom"; or the withering sentence, "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire."

(J. C. Cumming, D. D.)

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