Galatians 4:18
Nevertheless, it is good to be zealous if it serves a noble purpose--at any time, and not only when I am with you.
An Object Unworthy of ZealThe GospellerGalatians 4:18
Breaking the Looking-GlassVenning.Galatians 4:18
Christian ZealW. M. Punshon, D. D.Galatians 4:18
Christian ZealR. Brewin.Galatians 4:18
Christian ZealJ. Burns, D. D.Galatians 4:18
Christian ZealDr. Thomson.Galatians 4:18
Constancy of ZealW. M. Punshon, D. D.Galatians 4:18
Contending the Truth a CrimeCawdray.Galatians 4:18
Definition of ZealW. M. Punshon, D. D.Galatians 4:18
Excellency of Christian ZealJohn Garwood, M. A.Galatians 4:18
False ZealH. Bonar, D. D.Galatians 4:18
Falsehood Cheaper than TruthW. Gurnall.Galatians 4:18
God's Covenant with AbrahamW. J. Chapman, M. A.Galatians 4:18
Heavenly ZealCudworth.Galatians 4:18
Holy and Unholy Zeal ContrastedJ. D. Sirr, D. D.Galatians 4:18
Hostility to the TruthGalatians 4:18
Interest in Holy Work to be MaintainedC. H. Spurgeon.Galatians 4:18
It is Good to be Zealously Affected Always in a Good ThingJ. Wesley.Galatians 4:18
Motives of Christian ZealJohn Bate.Galatians 4:18
Objects of Christian ZealJohn Bate.Galatians 4:18
Obligation to Christian ZealJohn Bate.Galatians 4:18
Quality of ActionVenning.Galatians 4:18
Regulation of Christian ZealJohn Bate.Galatians 4:18
Religious ZealR. Wardlaw, D. D.Galatians 4:18
Reproof Makes EnemiesSpencer.Galatians 4:18
Temporary ZealStarke.Galatians 4:18
The Causes of Declining ZealA. Maclaren, D. D.Galatians 4:18
The Duty of Christian ZealR. Newton.Galatians 4:18
The Military Value of EnthusiasmMaxim LV1Galatians 4:18
The Profitableness of Christian ZealW. M. Punshon, D. D.Galatians 4:18
The Reasonableness of Christian ZealW. M. Punshon, D. D.Galatians 4:18
The Right Mode of Giving and Receiving ReproofJ. Foster.Galatians 4:18
TolerationEmilius Bayley, B. D., Heubner., Luther., Starke.Galatians 4:18
True ZealCudworth.Galatians 4:18
Truth Often UnpopularSenhouse.Galatians 4:18
Truth Sacrificed to Self-InterestR. South, D. D.Galatians 4:18
Truth TellingColeridge., Bishop Hall., S. Smiles.Galatians 4:18
Value and Importance of Christian ZealT. Lewis.Galatians 4:18
Work Aids ZealA. J. Gordon.Galatians 4:18
ZealManton.Galatians 4:18
ZealJohn Edwards, D. D.Galatians 4:18
Zeal and DiscretionH. Smith.Galatians 4:18
Zeal and PrudenceC Simeon.Galatians 4:18
Zeal IllustratedFoster.Galatians 4:18
Zeal in ReligionAmerican Homiletic ReviewGalatians 4:18
Zeal the Need of the ChurchBiblical TreasuryGalatians 4:18
Personal AppealR. Finlayson Galatians 4:12-20
The Appeal of the Suffering ApostleR.M. Edgar Galatians 4:12-20
On his first visit to Galatia, St. Paul was received, so he tells us, "as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus." He paid, it appears, a second visit to the province, and then the fickle people treated him with coldness and suspicion because he found it necessary to point out their faults and the danger of them, as though he had become their enemy solely because he told them the truth. This narrow and unfair conduct of the Galatians is only too common to human nature. The causes of it are worth examining, and the evil of it being detected as a warning against a repetition of the same egregious blunder.

I. IT IS SOMETIMES THE DUTY OF THE PREACHER TO TELL UNPLEASANT TRUTHS. It is a mistake to suppose that because he has a gospel to declare he must let only honied phrases fall from his lips. Jeremiah set up the prophesying of smooth things as the one sure test of a false prophet (Jeremiah 28:8, 9). John the Baptist prepared for the gospel by denouncing the sins of his fellow-countrymen. Christ uttered some of the most terrible words ever spoken (e.g. Matthew 23:33). The Church has been too much pampered with comforting words. We need more preaching to the conscience.

1. There are unpleasant truths. Nature is not all roses and lilies; nettles and vipers exist. The page of history is blotted with tears and blood. There are many ugly facts in our own past experience.

2. The great ground on which the preacher is required to utter unpleasant truths is that we are all sinners. The doctor who describes the eases in a hospital must say much about terrible diseases.

3. The purpose for which it is necessary to utter painful truths is to lead to repentance. It is not done merely to give pain nor to drive to despair. The lightning flash reveals the precipice that the unwary traveller may start back from destruction. Until we know ourselves to be in the wrong way we shall not turn to a better.

II. THE PREACHER OF UNPLEASANT TRUTHS MUST EXPECT TO BE TREATED AS AN ENEMY BY THE VERY MEN HE IS TRYING TO HELP. This has been the case all the world over with the prophets of Israel, John the Baptist, the apostles, reformers in every age, and, above all, Christ himself, who was crucified simply because he told truths that stung the Jews to madness. The noblest heroes of the "noble army of martyrs" suffered on this account. It is well to understand and be ready for such treatment even in the milder form which it generally assumes in our own day. it can be explained, though of course it cannot be justified. It may be traced to the following causes: -

1. The influences of association. The messenger of ill tidings is hated for his message. Milton calls the bird that foretells "a hapless doom" "a rude bird of hate."

2. Misinterpretation. It is assumed that the preacher wishes trouble because he predicts it, that he has pleasure in humiliating us by revealing our faults.

3. A corrupt conscience. Men often refuse to admit unpleasant truths about themselves, treat them as libels and the preachers of them as libellers of the race.


1. It is foolish. Truth is not the less true because we are blind to it. The revelation of its existence is not the creation of it.

2. It is unjust. The faithful servant of Christ, like his Master, will wish nothing but good to those whose guilt he denounces. He is the enemy of the sin just because he is the Friend of the sinner.

3. It is ungenerous. It is always a thankless task to tell unpleasant truths. For a man of kindly disposition it is a most painful task. Be undertakes it for the good of his friends. It would have been much more pleasant for St. Paul to have retained his popularity at the expense of the Church's welfare. He is an ungrateful patient who treats as an enemy the surgeon who hurts only that he may heal. - W.F.A.

Zealously affected always in a good thing.

1. Its foundation. Supreme love to Jesus Christ, the fruit of spiritual regeneration, is the only solid basis of true zeal.

2. Its nature. Sincere and warm regard for God's glory. A compound of strong faith and disinterested regard, manifesting itself by patient endurance and constant exertion.

3. Its objects.(1) Plain acknowledged truths, such as man's ruin by nature, his redemption by Christ, his renewal by the Holy Spirit.(2) Matters of real importance. Not the shell or garment of religion, but the life and heart of it.(3) The advancement of the Divine glory is the object nearest every true believer's heart, and he will use all his influence to uphold and support the means calculated to promote it. The instruction of the young, the distribution of the Scriptures, the propagation of the gospel at home and abroad, etc.

4. Its properties.

(1)Enlightened and prudent.

(2)Mild and gentle.

(3)Modest and humble.

(4)Warm and active.


1. It facilitates the progress of those who possess it in their Christian course.

2. It makes the practical part of religion easy and delightful.

3. It promotes a Christian's usefulness. He feels a desire to do something for the interest and benefit of his fellows.Application:

1. Let those who possess this Christian quality cultivate it.

2. Let strangers to Christian zeal seek to become partakers in it.

(T. Lewis.)

Zeal may be defined as the heat or fervour of the mind, prompting its vehemence of indignation against anything which it conceives to be evil — prompting its vehemence of desire towards anything which it imagines to be good, In itself, it has no moral character at all. It is the simple instinct of energetic nature, never wholly divested of a sort of rude nobility, and never destitute of influence upon the lives and characters of others. The word "zeal" is used indiscriminately in Scripture in order to denote a strong feeling of the mind, whether bent upon evil design or on cultivating the things which are of good report and lovely.

(W. M. Punshon, D. D.)

True zeal is like the vital heat in us that we live upon, which we never feel to be angry or troublesome.


Our zeal, if it be heavenly, if it be true vestal fire kindled from above, will not delight to tarry here below, burning up straw and stubble and such combustible things, and sending up nothing but gross earthly flames to heaven; but it will rise up and return back pure as it came down, and will be ever striving to carry up men's hearts to God along with it.


We do not value an intermitting spring so much as the clear brooklet which our childhood knew, and which has laughed on its course unheeding, and which could never be persuaded to dry up, though it has had to battle against the scorchings of a jubilee of summer's suns. We do not guide ourselves by the glow-worm's bead of light, or with the marsh-lamp's fitful flame. No, we look to the ancient sun, which in our infancy struggled through the window, and danced upon the wall of the nursery, as if he knew how much we delighted to see him light up the flower-cup and peep through the shivering leaf. And, for ourselves, we do not value the affection of a stranger awakened by some casual congeniality, and displayed in kindly greeting or in occasional courtesy. Our wealth is in the patient bearing, and the unnoticed deed, and the anticipated wish, and the ready sympathies, which make a summer and a paradise wherever there is a home. And not only in the natural and the social relations, but in the enterprise of the world, in the busy activities of men, the necessity for uniformity in earnestness is readily acknowledged. Society very soon brands a man if he has not got a perseverance as well as an earnestness about him. The world has got so matter-of fact now, that it jostles the genius off the footpath, while the plodder, whose eye sparkles less brilliantly but more evenly, steadily proceeds on his way to success.

(W. M. Punshon, D. D.)

It is of the utmost importance to keep up our interest in the holy work in which we are engaged, for the moment our interest flags the work will become wearisome. Humboldt says that the copper-coloured native of Central America, far more accustomed than the European traveller to the burning heat of the climate, yet complains more when upon a journey, because he is stimulated by no interest. The same Indian, who would complain when in botanizing he was loaded with a box full of plants, would row his canoe fourteen or fifteen hours together against the current without a murmur, because he wished to return to his family. Labours of love are light. Love much, and you can do much. Impossibilities disappear when zeal is fervent.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Hebrews have a saying that God is more delighted in adverbs than in nouns; 'tis not so much the matter that's done, but the matter how 'tis done, that God minds. Not how much, but how well! 'Tis the well-doing that meets with a "Well done!" Let us therefore serve God, not nominally or verbally, but adverbially.


Two ships were aground at London Bridge. The proprietors of one sent for a hundred horses, and pulled it to pieces; the proprietors of the other waited for the tide, and with sails and rudder directed it as they pleased.

(C Simeon.)

Zeal and discretion united together are like the two lions which supported the throne of Solomon; and he who has them both is like Moses for mildness and like Phineas for his service; therefore, as wine is tempered with water, so let discretion temper zeal.

(H. Smith.)


1. The original word means heat. When the passions are strongly moved to good and against evil there is religious zeal.

2. Love is the chief ingredient in its composition. But it is love in the highest degree — "fervent love."

II. It follows, therefore, that THE PROPERTIES OF LOVE ARE THE PROPERTIES OF ZEAL (see 1 Corinthians 13.).

1. Humility.

2. Meekness.

3. Patience.

4. Permanence.

5. Proportioned to that which is good.

(1)For the Church.

(2)More for Church ordinances.

(3)More still for works of mercy.

(4)Most for love itself.

III. PRACTICAL INFERENCES. If this be true, then —

1. Christian zeal is inimical to —

(1)Hatred, bitterness, prejudice, bigotry, persecution.



(4)Murmuring and impatience. And,

2. Is not fervour for

(1)Any evil thing.

(2)Indifferent things.


(J. Wesley.)

I. ITS OBJECTS — "Good things."

1. Acts of worship.

2. Acts of our secular calling.

3. Acts of righteousness.

4. Acts of charity and mercy.


1. Forward and cheerful.

2. Resolute in spite of discouragements.

3. Diligent and earnest.

4. Constant.


1. It is a note of God's people.

2. It is the fruit of Christ's death.

(1)By way of obligation.

(2)Because Christ has purchased for us the Spirit of power.


1. How earnest men are in sin — shall Satan be served better than God?

2. Consider how zealous you once were.

3. We cannot afford to be lukewarm.

(1)Time is short.

(2)The enemy is earnest.

4. The object deserves the warmest zeal.

5. Coldness is dangerous to ourselves and others.

6. Christian comfort depends on zeal.

7. The want of zeal is odious to God and dishonourable.



1. In general the heat or fervour of the mind prompting its vehemence of indignation against evil, of desire for good; the simple instinct of energetic nature, never wholly divested of a sort of rude nobility, and never destitute of influence upon the lives and character of others.

2. Christian zeal —(1) Springs from a Christian motive. If it does not spring from love it will be a blind distempered emotion.(2) Is displayed in a Christian manner — merciful and tolerant.(3) Is used for Christian ends — peace and good-will.

II. ITS PERMANENCE — On which rests its main value.

1. We see this in nature, social relationships, business.

2. The temptations to make it fitful.

(1)Religious lukewarmness.

(2)The race for wealth.

(3)Ministerial preferences. But if religion is a "good thing," it is always so.


1. In itself.

2. In its influences.

3. In its effects.

(W. M. Punshon, D. D.)

The world applauds the zealous in everything but religion. The warrior whose breast shall shine with stars, the scholar who makes a hush as he appears — they are those who set an object before them and strive for it through the hazard of years, and would deem it a shame if they did not put heart into their work. And shall not the Christian be in earnest with a cause that ennobles, with a responsibility which he may not transfer, with the destinies of his fellows for ever trembling in the balance, and in some sort committed to his fidelity as a witness for God? With the solemn concerns of the soul shall there be trifling? When a moment's opportunity welcomed or slighted may decide the fortunes of an eternity, shall languid counsels prosper or faint desires prevail? When a real strife is waged, fiercer far than the fabled battle between the giants and the gods, and heaven and hell are in earnest for the possession of the man, shall those who have been won for God be craven or traitorous in the fight?

(W. M. Punshon, D. D.)

Commercial prosperity and business cares, the eagerness after pleasure and. the exigencies of political life, diffused doubt and wide-spread artistic and literary culture, eat the very life out of thousands in our Churches, and lower their fervour till, like the molten iron cooling in the air, what was once all glowing with ruddy heat is crusted over with foul black scoriae, ever encroaching on the tiny central warmth.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

During the battle of Gettysburg, Chaplain Eastman was so badly injured by a fall of his horse as to be compelled to lie down on the field for the night. As he lay in the darkness, he heard a voice say, "Oh, my God!" and thought, "How can I get at him?" Unable to walk, he started to roll to the sufferer, and rolled through blood, among the dead bodies, till he came to the dying man, to whom he preached Christ. This service done, he was sent for to attend a dying officer, to whom he had to be carried by two soldiers. Thus he passed the long night; the soldiers carrying him from one dying man to another, to whom he preached Christ, and with whom he prayed, while he was compelled to lie upon his back beside them.


At a missionary meeting in Edinburgh, the Rev. W. C. Bunning related that a friend of his was once riding between Glasgow and Greenock, when the train began to flag, and at length stood still. The gentleman got out, and going up to the engine, said to the driver, "What's the matter? Have you run out of water?" "No," was the reply, "we've plenty of water, but it's not boiling."

(R. Brewin.)

Biblical Treasury.
A fearful storm was raging, when the cry was heard, "Man overboard!" A human form was seen manfully breasting the furious elements, in the direction of the shore; but the dominant waves bore the struggler rapidly outward, and, ere boats could be lowered, a fearful space sundered the victim from help. Above the shriek of the storm and roar of the waters rose his rending cry. It was an agonizing moment. With bated breath and blanched cheek, every eye was strained to the struggling man. Manfully did the brave rowers strain every nerve in that race of mercy, but all their efforts were in vain. One wild shriek of despair, and the victim went down.A piercing cry, "Save him, save him!" rang through the hushed crowd; and into their midst darted an agitated man, throwing his arms wildly into the air, shouting, "A thousand pounds for the man who saves his life!" but his starting eye rested only on the spot where the waves rolled remorselessly over the perished. He whose strong cry broke the stillness of the crowd was captain of the ship from whence the drowned man fell, and was his brother. This is just the feeling now wanted in the various ranks of those bearing commission under the great Captain of our salvation. "Save him! he is my brother."

(Biblical Treasury.)

American Homiletic Review.
Reasons why we should be zealous in Christ's service.

1. Manliness requires it.

2. The character and services of the Master render anything short of this a crime and a betrayal of an infinite trust.

3. The reward promised may well tax every power of our being to its utmost capacity.

(American Homiletic Review.)

When Dr. Kane was in the Arctic regions he one day wanted to light a fire, and being away from camp where he could not get matches, he took a piece of ice, clear as crystal, and cutting it into the shape of a convex lens, he held it up to the sun, and in a few moments kindled a pile of dry leaves and sticks into a blaze. I presume the ice in its turn was melted in the fire it had kindled. If any one of us are in a cold state religiously; if in the place of a heart glowing with the love of Christ which we once had, we have only a frozen lump of religious respectability in our bosom, I wish we could go among the lost and sinning and impenitent, and just tell them as best we can how Christ died to save them, and I believe it would open their hearts as the sunlight opens the frozen bulbs. And in Him our own hearts would be thawed and melted.

(A. J. Gordon.)

Maxim LV1.
"It is good to be zealously.., with you." A good general, a well-organized system, good instruction, and severe discipline, aided by effective establishments, will always make good troops, independently of the cause for which they fight. At the same time a love of country, a spirit of enthusiasm, and a sense of national honour, will operate Upon young soldiers with advantage.

(Maxim LV1.)

An eccentric writer tells this story about a man who was more eccentric than himself: — "Being still ignorant, he took a vow upon him not to wear a hat, because he had heard that Sir Isaac Newton took off his hat when he thought upon God. Thomas B — thought he would outdo Sir Isaac, for he would not wear a hat at all, and kept his vow faithfully for eight years under the bitterest persecution, In his own strength he took his legal bondage upon him; and, self-will being his ruling passion, he would go through fire and water for the Lord and his own way, more under law than gospel." What a useful man he might have been if his zeal had been well directed! If he had suffered persecution on account of his devotion to religious duties, and in obedience to authority ordained by God! (From "The Gospeller.")


1. A spiritual principle, and therefore Divine in its origin. A man may be zealous in sin; he may be a zealous bigot or sectarian; but no man can be spiritually zealous, until he is a spiritual man.

2. Christian zeal is an intellectual principle, and therefore the result of knowledge. It not only warms, but it illumines.

3. Christian zeal is a modest and humble principle.

4. Christian zeal is a constant, enduring principle. Not the feverish heat of a diseased body, but regular, constitutional warmth.

5. Christian zeal is an active, vigorous principle. It loosens the tongue, opens the hand, swiftens the feet. It prays, as well as believes; it labours as well as hopes.

6. Christian zeal is an affectionate principle, and is always connected with fervent love. No anathemas; no shibboleths. It is not suspicious, but open; not narrow, but broad, liberal, generous.

II. THE OBJECT OF CHRISTIAN ZEAL. A twofold sphere for the exercise of Christian zeal.

1. In securing the greatest possible amount of good to ourselves. Zealous in seeking extensive knowledge. Zealously labouring after more of the spirit of Christ. In communicating all the good in our power to those around us. What aa enlarged sphere! The world itself is our field. But especially those in our immediate neighbourhood.


1. It is good to the soul which is under its influence. The same as exercise to the body. It produces energy, buoyancy, safety, happiness.

2. It is good for the Church.

3. It is good for the world at large.

4. It is good, as it associates us with the highest intelligences of the heavenly world. The angels are distinguished especially for zeal. And how zealous was our blessed Saviour!


1. It is pre-eminently important when the object contemplated is great and glorious.

2. It is pre-eminently important when difficulties are numerous.

3. It is pre-eminently important when the time of action is limited.

4. When the responsibilities are momentous. It is not a secondary concern. Not optional. It is imperative that we be zealously affected in every good work. Our destiny awaits us according to the spirit and practice we have pursued on earth.Application:

1. Let Christians cherish this holy principle.

2. Let unpardoned sinners zealously seek the salvation of their souls.

3. Let the Church be zealous for the instruction of the rising age.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

Zeal about religion may be very far from religious zeal; and as the abuse of the best thing is proverbially the worst, there are few passions that have proved more truly Satanic in their operations and consequences, than a blind and misguided zeal about God and divine things.

I. WE MUST BE SURE THAT ITS OBJECT IS THE TRUE ONE. Personal religion. There may be a great deal of profession, with little life or spirit. It must have the heart, as well as the mind in it.


1. A truth.

2. A duty.

III. THE PRINCIPLE OR MOTIVE OF ZEAL MUST BE GOOD. God's glory, not our own advantage or comfort.

IV. IT MUST BE PROPERLY PROPORTIONED. Every truth and every duty is good, and ought to be attended to in its proper place; but truths and duties have various degrees of importance, and we must not prosecute the lower to the neglect of the higher.

V. IT MUST BE CONSISTENT, UNIFORM, AND PERSEVERING. It does not burn and shiver alternately, nor pass with uncertain and capricious mutability from the torrid to the frigid, and from the frigid to the torrid zone of feeling. It is not the sudden and flickering flame, however brilliant; and lively, that fuses the hard ore, but the glowing heat of the well-regulated furnace.

VI. THE MEANS, AS WELL AS THE OBJECT, OF CHRISTIAN ZEAL MUST BE GOOD. Nothing may be used that is at variance with any of the great principles of moral rectitude. We cannot advance the Divine honour by first doing dishonour to the Divine law. No fighting or persecuting zeal, no indulgence of passion, can be tolerated in this hallowed cause.

(R. Wardlaw, D. D.)

This is a human feeling, which exists in many, even pious souls. They are zealous in good, when faithful teachers are present, but when they are absent, or it may be dead, they slacken in their zeal.


Many things must be attended to, in order that our zeal may be as efficient as possible; that it may not be injurious, but acquire a proper tone, and be made useful to ourselves and others.


1. There are many kinds of zeal which do not stand this test.(1) Zeal of sympathy, which is only that of a soldier, who, though himself a coward, is urged on to battle by the example of the general.(2) Constitutional zeal, mere animal warmth, no more allied to our spirit than are our arms or feet.(3) Zeal of sentimentality, requiring some powerful excitement, and dying away when that is gone.(4) Zeal of affectation, which is in fact hypocrisy, only put on for the sake of appearances.

2. The zeal that is proper is a fair demonstration of what is felt within us. It seeks not the eye of man, but acts under the keen, all-searching eye of God. It is influenced by what is real and true; it is fed by the real and great blessings which Christianity has to bestow; and then it becomes a constituent part of the character, and maintains its dominion in the soul.

II. IT SHOULD BE INTELLIGENT, ACCOMPANIED WITH KNOWLEDGE. That it be sincere alone, is not enough. It may be that, and yet mistaken. So we must take care to be fully instructed in that on behalf of which we put forth zeal.

III. PRUDENCE IN THE EXERCISE AND MANIFESTATION OF OUR RELIGIOUS ZEAL. Prudence does not clamp our zeal, but enables us better to accomplish our object. You cannot be too zealous in obtaining personal religion, but you cannot be too prudent in the means you adopt to promote it.



(Dr. Thomson.)

The word zeal refers to fire; to be zealously affected is to be warm, to glow, to burn. It implies an ardour which agitates our whole being, rouses every dormant faculty, touches every spring of sensibility, and calls forth-all our energy in vigorous exertion towards the object to which our efforts are directed. The heart of the true Christian is the altar where this holy flame glows and burns, and to fan this pure flame of love into a brighter blaze was St. Paul's design when he wrote this passage.


1. An object really and pre-eminently good, deserves and demands aa ardent continuous zeal in its promotion. And is not Christianity such?

2. An object really and pre-eminently good, is not ordinarily to be attained without an ardent persevering zeal How readily is this recognized with respect to worldly affairs. And shall those in pursuit of a soul's salvation fold their hands in idle self-complacency? Are not the angels zealous? Was not our Lord consumed with zeal? What but this brought Him down to earth — from a throne of glory to an ignominious Cross?

3. Zeal, in promotion of an object really and pre-eminently good, is sure, sooner or later, to be crowned with success. Truth is indestructible, cannot die, must prevail. There are no difficulties that cannot be conquered by ardent, persevering zeal; there is no work which it cannot achieve.


1. Let us always see to it that the object of our zeal is really good.

2. How can any persons professing religion justify their claim to the Christian character while destitute of zeal?

3. Let us see that our zeal be constant and stable.

4. Those who are thus zealous are not the fools, but the wise men.

(R. Newton.)

To be zealously affected as to spiritual things will be found to be "good" —

1. As an evidence of the liveliness of grace in our own souls.

2. Because it is a most suitable means of preserving and increasing Divine grace.

3. Because of its beneficial tendency to arouse the zeal of others.

4. Because of the usefulness accomplished by this excellent quality in the welfare of mankind at large.

5. Because of the especial glory which is thereby brought unto God.

(John Garwood, M. A.)

Fire may be employed for good or evil. Heat is essential to life, yet may prove the forerunner of widespread consumption. If on the one hand it is genial, restorative, purifying; on the other it is devastating and destructive. So we speak of the warmth of love, the heat of passion, the fire of persecution, etc., to describe various affections and emotions of the mind. Zeal is a word invented by the Greeks to express the glowing intensity of any mental affection, whether usefully or perniciously directed. Observe —


1. A zeal for rites and forms and ceremonies, as if they were of any value in themselves.

2. A zeal for tradition.

3. An ignorant zeal.

4. A persecuting zeal. This always defeats its own end.


1. That which proceeds from true love to God.

2. A zeal for God's spiritual worship.

3. A zeal for good works.

4. Zeal for the edification of the Church.

(J. D. Sirr, D. D.)

1. The command of Christ.

2. The example of Christ.

3. The love of Christ in the heart.

4. The examples of holy men.

5. The personal advantages derived from it.

6. The good which it may accomplish.

7. The commendation which is given of it, and its examples in the Scriptures.

(John Bate.)

"It is good"; no higher praise than that can be given to it. " It is good" — the very thing that was said of the fairly finished earth, on the morning of Jehovah's rest and pleasure. "It is good" — the very thing that is spoken of God Himself: "Thou art good, and doest good."

1. To be always zealously affected in a good thing is good in itself. Where the heart preserves the ardour of devotion, it will preserve the ardour of enterprise. It will be always at work for the best interests of men. There will be no time for dalliance with temptation, or for the misgiving of unbelief. The active love and the loyal heart will be mutually helpful to each other, and the man will grow like a cedar — his roots wedging themselves close and firm into the Rock of Ages, his branches flinging themselves upward with such graceful aim that no tree in the garden of God shall be like unto him in his beauty.

2. Good in its influences. Who shall estimate the effect upon the progress of the Redeemer's Kingdom, when the Church is filled with the spirit of Christian zeal? Oh! a prospect of ineffable spiritual beauty rises up before the prophetic eye, informed by the spirit of the Master. Each member of the Church becomes a missionary of the truth, and there is neither silence nor faltering in the testimony; the cords of love, which are the bands of a Man, enclose thousands in the gospel fellowship; the Church itself, in growing purity and strength, becomes the dominion of ever-ripening authority; the world, charged by the Word as the living epistles speak it, bows its rank, and its intellect, and its pride, before the feet of Jesus; He reigns whose right it is, over a regenerate people, made willing in the day of His power.; and then cometh the end — the finished mystery of the Cross, the consummated glories of redemption.

(W. M. Punshon, D. D.)

1. The salvation of the soul of him who is the subject of it.

2. The House of God in its worship, its word, its attendance.

3. Promotion of family religion.

4. The conversion of sinners.

5. The general welfare of all the means, ordinances, and institutions of the Church.

6. Whatever concerns the real welfare of mankind.

(John Bate.)

1. The value of personal salvation.

2. The difficulties in the way of its exercise.

3. The duties and privileges of religion.

4. The claims of the Church.

5. The condition of the world.

6. The glory of Christ.

(John Bate.)

1. It should be guided by charity.

2. By the wisdom which cometh from above.

3. By a due regard to times, circumstances, places, and persons.

4. By the relative claims of each object.

5. By an aim to the glory of God.

(John Bate.)

A false zeal in religion is always, in some respect or other, a misdirected zeal, or a zeal not according to knowledge — a zeal seeking some false end, seeking its promotion in some unauthorized way. Jehu had a good zeal, which he called zeal for the Lord of Hosts. His fault was, not that he was too zealous, but that his zeal was really directed to his own advancement. The Jews in the days of Christ had a zeal for God, but it was so misdirected as to fire them with a frenzy to destroy the Son of God and extinguish the Light of the world. There are countless forms of false zeal now at work; but in all cases they sin, not by excess, but by misdirection. Some are flaming with a zeal to spread some of the corruptions of Christianity, and to carry men away from its great and cardinal truths. Some are equally zealous to build up a sect or party on other foundations than those which God has laid in Zion; and that which taints their zeal is the purpose to which they employ it, and not any excessive fervour of their zeal itself.

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

I. As to the TRUE NATURE OF GODLY ZEAL, in the general it is a great vehemency and ardency in religion. It is a fire of the sanctuary, not a profane flame. It is the warmth and vigour of holy persons in their prosecution of what is good and virtuous. More particularly, this zeal is either internal or external. I will speak first of that which is internal, and hath its seat in the mind and soul. This is no other than the vehemency and fervour of the affections, or it is the affections inflamed with religion. It is a burning of all the passions, namely, a fervent desire of God and goodness; it is a holy anger for sin stirred up to a great height; it is an exalted love of whatever is good; it is a perfect hatred and detestation of vice; it is vehemency of grief, because God is offended and religion despised; it is a seraphic joy and gladness springing from the delight which is taken in holiness. But though zeal be the utmost intention and fervent acting of all the affections, yet it is chiefly the heat and earnestness of these two, namely, love and anger. First, it is an ecstasy of love: and that love respects both God and man. He that doth not love God dearly can't be zealous: for zeal is an inflamed love of the beauties and excellences of the Divine nature, and (as the consequence of this) it is a passionate longing to exalt God's glory in the world. Again, he that ardently loves God, will love those who bear His image. Wherefore an earnest love of the brethren must needs be an inseparable attendant of godly zeal, according to that of St. Peter, "Love one another with a pure heart fervently." Thus zeal is the flame of love. And from this love flows anger and indignation against sin, and the doers of it; for he that loves God will show his wrath against that which offends and displeaseth Him. We find ourselves incensed and exasperated to a very high degree when we see affronts and injuries offered to our parents, and those whom we love most; much more, when our heavenly Father is affronted and injured, our hearts must needs rise within us, and we cannot but feel them stirred with anger and a holy revenge; for zeal is an indignation conceived for the wrong done to those whom we dearly love. Thus zeal is no other than love angered. Secondly, this godly zeal is not only inward, but outward. First, the Christian zeal manifests itself by words, as it is said of Apollos, that "being fervent in spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord" (Acts 18:25); and, "he spake boldly in the synagogue" (ver. 26). So the apostles, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). Zeal gives utterance, and will not suffer the truth to be stifled and concealed; for truth is of absolute necessity, and error is damnable as well as vice. Secondly, zeal displays itself in all religious actions and performances. But to let you see that zeal manifests itself in outward actions, and never wants ways of expressing and openly displaying itself, I will mention some of the chiefest duties required in Christianity. The first I will name, is repentance. This and zeal must go hand in hand, according to that advice given to the Church of Laodicea, "Be zealous and repent" (Revelation 3:19). And St. Paul, speaking to the Corinthians of the several effects and concomitants of repentance, demands of them "what zeal it wrought in them" (2 Corinthians 7:11). Again, true evangelical charity is never void of this; wherefore you hear St. Peter exhorting the Christians thus, "Have fervent charity among yourselves" (1 Peter 4:8). And hence the Corinthians' forwardness in alms-deeds, in distributing and ministering to the saints, is called "zeal" (2 Corinthians 9:2). Moreover, the zeal of Christians must be discovered in prayer, that most necessary duty of our religion. This is called by St. Paul "labouring" (or striving) "fervently in prayer" (Colossians 4:12). In the next place, hearing the Word ought to be with zealous attention and vigour, because it is for our lives, or eternal welfare is concerned. Farther, I might show you that an extraordinary fervour and zeal must accompany the partaking of the holy communion. Here, if ever, our life and heat must display themselves. There must be fire on this altar: our hearts must be a burnt-offering. Zeal is when our graces are in their zenith or vertical point. Zeal is heroic virtue in the Christian philosophy: it is the highest pitch and most exalted degree of every endowment, grace, and duty. I will now (according to what I proposed) annex the PROPERTIES of it, which are these: First, this zeal which I have described, is real and sincere, in opposition to counterfeit zeal. And we may know the sincerity of it —

1. By this, namely, if we are most offended and incensed because God is dishonoured and injured; for zeal shows itself in the things that belong to God's glory. Thus Christ showed the truth of His zeal for His Father's house (John 2:17). This is one way to try the sincerity of your zeal, viz., if you signally show it against God's enemies, whilst in the meantime you discover a great deal of clemency to those who are your own, and have particularly injured yourselves.

2. The right genuine zeal may be known by this; that it spends not itself about lesser matters, and things that are wholly indifferent. Some men's zeal runs out into this one main thing, viz., to uphold some doubtful opinion, and to defy and detest all that are not of their persuasion as to that particular. But a wise, good man proportions his zeal according to the worth dud importance of the matters he is conversant about. And because indifferent things are not important and weighty, he knows that they deserve not his zeal. All was not massy gold that Solomon's merchants brought over in their ships: apes and peacocks were part of their cargo. Thus in our merchandising for truth, we meet with some slight and trifling things, nice points, notions for embellishment only. And next to these, are external ceremonies and rites, particular modes and circumstances in religious worship But we ought to lay out our zeal on those things which are in their own nature worthy, necessary, and indispensible.

3. This is another trial: if your zeal be accompanied with love and charity, you may infer it is sincere; but if it be so fierce and greedy as to devour these, and to stir you up to be cruel and implacable, then conclude that your zeal is not the evangelical zeal.

4. Sometimes gain and profit are the only spring of men's zeal, and then you may conclude it to be false and counterfeit, and not the true religious zeal. Those who make gain their godliness are no true zealots.

5. When zeal proceeds from pride and ambition, there is reason to believe that it is not sincere. Secondly, this is another property of zeal, that it be accompanied with, and guided by knowledge, in opposition to blind zeal. St. Paul bears record of the Jews, that "they had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge" (Romans 10:2). And of himself he saith, that he had formerly been "exceedingly zealous of the traditions of his fathers" (Galatians 1:14), which were a medley of ignorance and superstition. But he tells us in another place how pernicious that zeal proved to him, and what vile enormities it excited him to. But true zeal is built on knowledge. This heat doth not want light, but is conducted by judgment and wisdom. Thirdly, there ought to be this property of our zeal, that it be according to a rule, and that it keep within its due limits, in opposition to irregular and lawless zeal. Zeal must have its certain limits and boundaries. This fire must be kept on the hearth, in its due place. We ought to act in religion by certain rules and measures, for it is a regular and well-guided zeal that God accepts. Fourthly, I will add this as another property, it must be peaceable and well-tempered, sedate and discreet, in opposition to turbulent and rash zeal. This carnal zeal is an immoderate heat, an exorbitant commotion of the mind, an excess and transport, whereby men disorder both themselves and others. Between this zeal and the other, there is as much difference as between the quick and fierce lightnings which are observed sometimes in the skies, and the sun's mild, yet active flame. False zeal is full of noise and clamour, and violent motion. They who are acted by it think that it is of the nature of some rivers, which are never so useful as when they overflow. Christian zeal is a natural and kindly heat, not a burning fever or calenture. The mind or soul of man with all its functions and faculties, is in Scripture often called the heart, that being thought, of old, to be the chief place of its residence. But we may learn, by the by, from this denomination, that the mind of man ought to resemble his heart, from whence it borrows its name. Now the motion of this in healthful persons is even and placid, propagates the like pulse into all the several arteries which overspread the body. All its stops and intervals are equal and harmonious, as if nature kept time in these organs of the body. This high pulse argues no less than an inflamation of the mind, than a feverish distemper of the soul. Lastly, the text affords another character of this zeal: it must be constant and persevering. We are to be zealously affected always. This holy fire must ever be burning on the altar. This is, according to the apostle's expression, "instantly" (or intensely) "serving God day and night" (Acts 26:7). As no adverse accidents and calamitous circumstances, so no allurements and smiles of the world are able to make the truly zealous person alter the tenour of his life. He hath set himself to a just pitch, and there he continues. False zeal spends itself too fast, and like some meteor is seen to blaze only a short time, and then to vanish. But that zeal which is true and genuine, like the sun shineth more and more unto a perfect day, and is a never-failing source of light and heat.

II. Having finished the first general part of my discourse, wherein I have displayed the true nature of Christian zeal, I am now in the next place (but more briefly) to show you HOW REASONABLE IT IS TO PUT IN PRACTICE THIS GRACE, Or rather this complication of graces and virtues. The reasonableness of this is contained in those words in the front of the text.

1. I say it is good in respect of God, and that if you consider Him, either as He is in His own nature, or as He is to us. First, in Himself, and in His own nature, He is a spirit, and therefore our service to Him must be spiritual, lively, and zealous. But will you offer dead services to the living God? Will you offer a body without a soul? For such is our service and worship, if it be devoid of zeal and fervency. Secondly, if you consider God as He is to us, every ways good and gracious, continually loading us with His benefits, and laying obligations on us by all ways imaginable, we are engaged on this account to be zealous. We must do our homage and service to God, as to our great King and Lord in the highest strain, and with the greatest intention.

2. Zeal is most reasonable in respect of ourselves, and that, first, because it is necessary, in order to our happiness, Neither grace nor glory are attained otherwise, as our Saviour assures us, telling us that "the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matthew 11:12). And secondly, zeal is not only necessary but advantageous. The benefits of it are very numerous; it shall suffice to mention some of them only. Zeal takes up our thoughts, and employs our minds wholly, and therefore is beneficial on this account, that it frees us from worldly cares and solicitudes. It suffers us not to be anxious about earthly things, because it fixes our hearts on heavenly ones: it causes us to set our affections on things above, and consequently we are not troubled with those below. Again, zeal makes us contented and cheerful. When we are spirited with this excellent quality, we are able to serve God with ineffable joy and gladness. This likewise produceth fortitude and courage. If we be zealous, we shall be valiant for the truth, we shall not fear the greatest opposition, but undauntedly make our way through all difficulties and disasters. Zeal will enable us to suffer anything for a good cause. Let me add, that zeal renders all things in religion easy. There are some things so sublime in every virtue, that it is hard to attain to them. But zeal facilitates all; this makes the way of religion plain and smooth, and helps us to run, and not faint. This is as wind to the sails, as bellows to the fire, and as an edge to the sword. Lastly, steadiness is begot by zeal, this crowns us with constancy and perseverance.

3. Not only in respect of God and ourselves, but in regard of our brethren also, this is our duty and concern. For zeal is the best promoter of religion in others, according to that of the apostle, "Your zeal hath provoked many" (2 Corinthians 9:2). No wonder that there are so few converts, that religion gains no more ground in the world, since there is so little zeal.

III. And last task must be TO APPLY THE FOREGOING DOCTRINE, which I will do in these two particulars, namely, by way of reproof and of exhortation. First, this reproves all lukewarmness, carelessness, and indifferency in religion. What a frigid zone do we live in now? How perfunctory are we in all our religious duties and services? O thou Christian zeal, whither art thou banished? Now to back my exhortation, I will offer these serious considerations to you.

1. It will not be improper for some, yea, most of you, to reflect on your former indifferency and coldness: and let that consideration move you to be very zealous for the future. It is high time to mend our pace.

2. It may be some of you have been zealots in the worst sense, that is, exceeding eager and hot against religion and the ways of holiness. The thoughts of this should make you for the future zealously affected in that which is good.

3. All of us ought to consider the end and design of Christ's meritorious undertakings for us. "He gave Himself for us," saith the apostle, "that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

4. Let us weigh well the important nature of those things which we are bid to concern ourselves for.

5. There is this consideration to urge you to this duty, that the neglect of it will prove very dangerous to you, as appears from what was said to the Church of Laodicea (Revelation 3:16).

6. Set before you the examples of the best and chiefest servants of God. As we see in nature's fabric the most excellent bodies, as the sun and stars, are the most restless and active, so it is in the economy of grace, the most eminent saints of God have been always most earnest and zealous, continually moving and acting in the way of godliness. How zealous were Moses, Phineas, Elias, David, John the Baptist, Paul, and other saints recorded in holy Scripture?

7. Would yon be zealous, then seriously study the last things. Think often of death, and that will inspire you with zeal.

(John Edwards, D. D.)

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