Isaiah 38:11


I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world. Mine age is departed. Then it is not so strange an experience to love the busy city or the rural quietude. "Life, we've been long together." This is what, at Hezekiah's time of life, we most of us feel. There is an old familiar friendship betwixt us and the world. We scarcely think things can go on well without us. The old village stream seems to look up and know us when we visit it in the after-years. Yet the reflection in it of our face and figure is very changed.

I. THE SIGHT HE WOULD MISS. Not nature, but nature's King and Lord. This always characterizes a living religion. We see God in all - God in Christ. For by him God made the worlds. He is the Archetype of all beauty. His is the thought which has been fulfilled in creation's glory and beauty. His the harmony which has found voice in the music of the woods and streams. And to rise to higher, even to human spheres - all the loves of espousal and home - these speak of him who ordered their joys and uses, and made them parables of his own love and care. "I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world." Then this is cheerful and pleasant. So wrote Charles Lamb, when, in view of death, he said he should miss "the safe security of the streets," as well as the sweet rural scenes. And apart from revelation of the rest that remaineth, it would be sad indeed to lie down in a City of Sleepers, who will never know an awakening voice, whilst above the tomb there is busy life in the mart, the senate, and the field.

II. THE MISTAKE HE MADE. "Mine age is departed." Not quite so yet, even in relation to this life. He was to continue amongst those of whom he said, "The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day." But then would surely come the time when (ver. 18) he would go down into the pit. The light on immortality burned dimly then. Here and there we trace it, like light that lingers on the higher mountains, in David and Isaiah; but to the mass of minds it was not, to say the least, a very potent influence or a very living faith. "Christ has brought light and immortality to light" by the gospel, and we need never say, "Mine age is departed;" but rather, "Mine age is transmuted" into immortal youth, and unending revelation of the Redeemer's power and glory. - W.M.S.







I said, I shall not see the Lord.
I. HEZEKIAH'S DISTRESS AT THE THOUGHT OF NOT SEEING GOD. This manifested —

1. True affection towards God.

2. Fervent desires for the revelation of God's glory.

3. Spiritual power to apprehend God.

II. HEZEKIAH'S DISAPPOINTMENT AT THE THOUGHT OF NOT SEEING GOD ON EARTH. He would see Him —

1. In deliverances wrought out for His people.

2. In Divine manifestations in the temple.

3. In Divine benediction upon himself and nation. Happy they who desire to see God. He may be seen in this land of death. In the true land of the living men ever behold Him face to face.

(W. O. Lilley.)

I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world.
Homilist.
(with Luke 16:26): — There are two facts that give death profound solemnity.

1. It separates a man for ever from his connections in this world. Hezekiah felt this now. Job felt this. "When a few years are come," &c. What living man has not been impressed with this idea! The old scene of his first impressions, anxious labours, tender friendships, and dear associations is left for ever. However trying this world may be, it contains very much that is dear to us. Here we felt the first sensations of life; here the first trains of thought arose; here we have received the elements of our character; here all our joys have been experienced, our trials endured, and our labours prosecuted. Here sleep the dust of our parents and our friends. To leave all this for ever is a sad thought.

2. It separates a man for ever from all probationary means of improvement. Abraham gave this idea to the rich man in the world of perdition: he assured him there was an impassable "gulf" fixed between him and all remedial means. After death character seems stereotyped. This is a more solemn fact than the other, though perhaps not so deeply and generally felt. To be cut off for ever, if we are wicked, from Bibles, sanctuaries, and all mediatorial influences and helps; to have an impassable gulf between all that is bright and fair in the universe and one's self; — how solemn this! This fact, which is profoundly solemn, is neither cruel nor unjust, but on the contrary highly benevolent.

I. THERE IS MORE GOODNESS IN THIS ARRANGEMENT TO THE INDIVIDUAL HIMSELF. Three facts will illustrate this.

1. In case a man had a second probation, and it failed, his guilt and misery would be considerably enhanced by it.(1) Punishment will be propertioned by the privileges and opportunities abused. "He that knoweth his Master's will, and doeth it not," &c. "If I had not spoken to them," said Christ, "they had not had sin." What is the guilt of a heathen compared with a man living in Christian lands?(2) The privileges and opportunities connected with his first probation are such as to impose incalculable responsibility. "He that despised Moses' law died without mercy," &c. What, then, would be the guilt of a man who had not only lived through a first probation, but a second?

2. The man who abused the first probation would be most likely to abuse the second. If a man pass through all remedial influences of the first probation — nature, sacred literature, sanctuaries, the counsels and admonitions of the pious, the Gospel ministry — and not be saved, but hardened, by all, would there not be a certainty that, if he entered upon a second probation, the second would also fail?(1) Because he would enter upon the second with hardened sensibilities. He did not so the first. We began our existence here with tender consciences.(2) He would enter on the second with confirmed habits. H it be asked, May not some new influences be brought to bear upon the soul in the second probation that did not act upon him in the first? — We ask, What new influences are possible? We can only conceive of two kinds — the penal and the merciful. Will penal sufferings convert? And as to merciful influences — can there be any more merciful power brought to bear upon the soul than now? Can God give a more moving and mighty expression of His love than in sending His only-begotten Son?

3. Man's knowledge of a second probation would tend to counteract upon his mind the saving influence of the first.(1) It would strengthen that procrastinating principle in his nature which leads him now to postpone the question of his salvation.(2) It would strengthen that presuming tendency of his nature which induces him to run the risk of the future.

(Homilist.)

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