You were secure in your wickedness; you said, 'No one sees me.' Your wisdom and knowledge led you astray; you told yourself, 'I am, and there is none besides me.'
I. ITS ESSENTIAL NATURE. Under the perverting influence of sin men come into a mental and spiritual condition in which everything is strange, unnatural, distorted. Something has "perverted" them (ver. 10). It is a condition in which things seem to them other than they are - in which they fail to discern what ought to be quite palpable to them, in which they are subject to unhappy and hurtful delusions. Knowledge does not instruct them, facts do not affect them, reasons do not convince them, truth does not enlighten them. They are duped by semblances, betrayed by errors, ruined by the falsehoods which they entertain and cherish.
II. THE FORMS WHICH IT ASSUMES.
1. An extravagant and offensive egotism. "Thou sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me." It is a very common effect of sin to produce in men a sense of their own importance carried to a painfully high degree; they think and feel as if their present interests were the only things to be consulted. Everything else must make way, every one else must give way to them; their comfort, their advantage, absorbs all other considerations whatever. None else beside them is of any account.
2. A blind disregard of the future. "Neither didst remember the latter end of it." Many men regulate their lives as if they would always remain as strong and healthy as they are to-day. Many indulge in courses which tend to weakness or to dishonour, or even to utter ruin, without concerning themselves as to the goal toward which they are travelling. They know that death is in front of them, that judgment awaits them; but they do not "lay it to heart" - they remember not "the latter end of it."
3. An overweening estimate of their own power. "I shall be a lady for ever... I shall not sit as a widow." Men "say in their heart," "Other men have made great mistakes, but I shall avoid them; other men have suffered in their circumstances or in their health, but I shall escape; on other men judgment and penalty have fallen, but I know how to avert the blow," etc. They imagine themselves to be possessed of an ingenuity, a sagacity, a power of defeating the operation of penal laws, which does not. belong to them. No one else credits them with this extraordinary faculty; everybody else is convinced that they will he bitterly undeceived: they are infatuated by their sinful folly.
4. A belief in the excellency of animal enjoyment. They are "given to pleasures" (ver. 8). One of the infatuations of sin is that sensuous delights will satisfy a human soul. It is a complete delusion. As men yield to the temptations of the flesh they find that pleasure lessens as the craving grows: they eat, but are hungry still; they drink, but are thirsty as before. The lower gratifications do not fill the heart which God created for himself and for his service and friendship.
5. A fatuous infidelity. "None seeth me" (ver. 10).
III. ITS INEVITABLE DOOM. "Therefore shall evil come upon thee," etc. (ver. 11). The doom of spiritual infatuation is:
1. Sometimes sudden. "Desolation comes suddenly;" when men are saying, "Peace, peace," then sudden destruction.
2. Often mysterious. Men do "not know whence it ariseth." Concealed beneath the surface are the seeds of sorrow and of death; they are invisible, but they are there.
3. Always inevitable. Men are "not able to put it off." Wealth cannot purchase its departure; authority cannot order it away; ingenuity cannot escape its power. A voice which none may disregard or disobey will be heart exclaiming, "Get thee into darkness" (ver. 5). - C.
Genesis 16:13): —
Thou hast said, None seeth me.
Pulpit Analyst.: —
I. THIS NOTION HAS GREAT INFLUENCE UPON THE CONDUCT OF MAN. Such a notion is convenient. Concealment is the helpmeet of wrong. It is not necessary that this be formulated. It is sufficient if the mind accustoms itself to question whether God sees. The sinner will take advantage of a doubt.
II. THIS NOTION IS UTTERLY UNTRUTHFUL AND DELUSIVE.
III. GOD HAS OFTEN, IN HUMAN EXPERIENCE, SHOWN THE DELUSIVENESS OF THIS NOTION, AND THE TIME IS FIXED FOR THE COMPLETE DEMONSTRATION OF ITS DELUSIVENESS.
1. Character is often seen through by man.
2. Retribution often follows man's deeds in the present world.
3. The future state will show what God saw.
I. PRACTICAL ATHEISM. "Thou hast said, None seeth me," i.e. God is indifferent to our conduct. This is the practical denial of Divine omniscience. This haughty language suggests a sad tendency in human nature. The causes of this tendency are —
1. Dislike of God.
2. Dread of God.
II. GENUINE PIETY. "Thou God seest me."
1. The very nature of God implies this.
2. The Bible teaches it.
III. GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS which this subject conveys.
1. It warns the wicked.
2. It should restrain from evil.
3. It should incite to a beautiful and useful life.
4. It should comfort and strengthen the people of God amid the duties and conflicts and trials of life.
Thy wisdom: —
I. EXAMINE AND VINDICATE THIS DECLARATION.
1. Of what wisdom and knowledge does Isaiah thus speak? It was human wisdom and science in the highest perfection! To this Babylon even the sages of Greece came as learners.
2. Against this wisdom and knowledge the Scriptures bring the charge of perverting men's minds in morals and religion (text; Ezekiel 28:3-7; 1 Corinthians 1:21-27; 1 Corinthians 3:18-20; Romans 1:22, 23).
3. That this testimony is not overcharged, all history proclaims.
4. All this is accounted for by the Scriptural account of the fall of man. Intellectual blindness is upon the heart of man; all his rational faculties are incapable of just conclusions on any religious subject, except they be assisted by a supernatural power.
5. Hence it inevitably follows that the cultivation of the intellectual parts of man can of itself have no tendency towards moral or spiritual good. If all the mental powers of man be in themselves depraved, the increase of his intelligence can only increase his faculty of evil; so that secular education, apart from religious and moral control, must be in itself a curse and not a blessing. It may create a generation of philosophic sceptics and apologists for vice, or even praters about virtue, but a moral and religious people it never has produced, and never can.
II. THE REMEDY WHICH GOD HATH PROVIDED AGAINST ALL THESE INTELLECTUAL EVILS.
1. The supreme need is instruction in the wisdom and knowledge which are of God, above those which are of men.
2. This wisdom and knowledge must be imparted by those means which God has appointed. The Bible. Preaching. The instruction of children in Divine truth.
(F. Close, M. A.)
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