what will I do when God rises to judge? How will I answer when called to account?
I. THE GREAT EVIL OF THIS CRIME. It contains within it a combination of various dreadful kinds of wickedness.
1. Unfaithfulness. Husband and wife have vowed to be true to one another. Adultery is a breach of marriage vows. Even if purity were not originally binding, the voluntary assumption of the yoke of matrimony would have made it so. The sin of unfaithfulness to the marriage tie is one of breaking a most solemn promise.
2. Cruelty. This is not a sin that can be committed wholly on one's own account. A grievous and irreparable wrong is done to another. For the sake of selfish pleasure, a home, which might have been a centre of love and joy, is torn to pieces by outraged jealousy and made miserable with the total wreck of the hopes of youth.
3. Impurity. Some have thought that, as happiness does not always accompany marriage, "free love" would be more desirable. It is forgotten that the very term is a misnomer. No true love can exist without constancy and fidelity. When those virtues are removed, what is called love is at best a passing fancy; at worst it is a foul passion. The soul of the adulterer is stained and corrupted.
4. Godlessness. This great sin darkens the vision of God. It involves a violation of a Divine institution, and is thus unfaithfulness to God as well as to a human companion. The soul of the adulterer is lost to the life of holiness and the true service of God.
II. THE JUST TREATMENT OF THIS CRIME.
1. Not by the abolition of marriage. This is but the refuge of despair. It is said in some quarters that marriage is a failure. But wherever it is a failure some of its necessary ingredients have been neglected. If there is no true love, if sympathy is wanting, if mutual forbearance is not practised, the close union of husband and wife must lead to perpetual quarrelling. But what we want is to raise the standard of marriage. The abolition of lifelong marriage is virtually the abolition of that most sacred Christian institution - the family. It must open the floodgates of vice by allowing suggestions, of licence that are now,. at least, to some extent, kept in check by the social conscience that respects the marriage tie.
2. By the most effectual form of reprobation. Job considered it to be an iniquity to be punished by the judges. This was the old Jewish method, and the Puritans of New England attempted to revive it. But great difficulties stand in the way of criminal prosecutions for adultery. Moreover, it is not the function of the state to punish vice, but to prevent direct or indirect injuries. Now, though adultery is an injury, the course for a legal treatment of it as such is not clear. But this does not mean that the vice should go unchecked. It deserves the severest social stigma. It lies under the wrath of God. It should be prevented as far as possible by a wise and pure bringing up of the young and the inculcation of principles of social purity. - W.F.A.
I. THE CERTAINTY OF A DAY OF VISITATION AND RECKONING.
What then shall I do when God riseth up?1. Job's mind was deeply impressed with a sense of his own responsibility. There is a natural inclination in the mind of man to diminish the sense of responsibility. In most transactions of life men frequently evince a desire to escape as much as possible from personal responsibility. There are responsibilities arising out of the very conformation of the society in which we live, that cannot be avoided. It never can be a matter of choice with us, whether we shall be responsible to God, and in the sight of God. The very nature of our relation to God implies responsibility, and the very character of God, in reference to that relationship, also implies responsibility. The responsibility of man to God reaches to the whole of man's moral being.
2. Job's conviction that there is a day coming in which God will arise. As a Sovereign, making inquisition, and holding a grand assize in which the universe should be concerned. And God will "visit." That term is often used in the sense of visitation for the purpose of punishment. God will arise as the legislator of the universe — as the promulgator of a law which has been universally violated, and which has not exercised its restraining influence upon the hearts of men because their allegiance had departed. Of necessity there must be vindication. Either the justice of God must fail, or there must be a vindication. As the law of God reaches to the minutest details of human existence and of human conduct, the vindication must reach every personal interest, the details of every individual life. And the Lord must visit as an avenger; for vindication implies vengeance. The God whose own arm hath brought salvation, shall be the God who shall visit in the way of vengeance. Job asks, "When He visiteth, what shall I answer Him?" Should not we ask the same question? What will the man of this world, of pleasure, and of gain, answer? Realise the necessity for finding some answer. There is but one answer. There is nothing to do but to cling to the Cross of Jesus.
(George Fish, LL. B.)
I. MAN'S RESPONSIBILITY. We must all give account to God, not merely masters, but servants also; and we must give account in all the transactions of everyday life. Every man has time, talents, opportunities, gifts; every man has a certain station, every man has a certain amount of influence; and we are all responsible for the right use before God. Not one of you can help this influence going forth upon those around you; not one of you can avoid the things you do, telling, in one way or another, upon those with whom you have intercourse. You must do good, or you must do evil. This responsibility "we need to face, for it is one that presses always.
II. THE WAY OF MEETING THIS RESPONSIBILITY. Two things are spoken of here.
1. What shall we do? Regarding ourselves as responsible to God, what shall we do when He rises in judgment? Shall we not fear to face a holy God? Shall we hide ourselves from God, in order to elude His searching eye? That surely is a vain consideration. Shall we resist His summons? Surely that too is vain.
2. What shall we answer? Shall we say that we have not broken one of God's commandments? Shall we, like the Pharisee, compare ourselves with others? Shall we "begin to make excuse"? Shall we plead God's mercy? The careless cannot meet God. Nor can the formalist; nor the hypocrite and pretender. The two great things we require to be experimentally acquainted with, are repentance and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," and you are delivered at once from the power of the law, and all the accusations of Satan, because Jesus has conquered him, and you also win the victory through faith in Him.
(John W. Reeve, M. A.)
1. This is indicated by the testimony of conscience. Conscience is the vicegerent of the Almighty. It discriminates between virtue and vice, attaching to either their respective awards.
2. By a reference to the moral economy of man, or the economy of God's dealings towards man.
3. The certainty of a day of visitation is fully unfolded in the Book of God.
II. THE GROUND UPON WHICH AN ANSWER IS TO BE PREPARED TO THE QUESTION IN OUR TEXT. Classify the Christian community into four compartments.
1. There are some who have no answer prepared. This is a fact of undoubted certainty.
2. Others prepare an answer on a self-righteous principle. They plead obedience to the requirements of God's law.
3. Others confide in the uncovenanted mercy of God.
4. But some take higher ground, and are preparing their answer in reference to the righteousness of Christ Jesus our Lord. This is the only plea which will bear inspection, the only foundation for the exercise of mercy.
(Adam Gun, A. M.)
I. THE OCCASION CONTEMPLATED. "When God will rise up, and when He will visit" in judgment.
1. He appears now, as it were, indifferent to the affairs of men.
2. A day is coming when He will arise and visit. It is the day of death. It is the day of punishment. It is the day of judgment.
3. The certainty of its approach. Accountability seems almost an instinct in man. The day of judgment must come — there is no escape from it.
4. Yet most persons believe and act as if they believed it not. How surprising is the indifference of professed believers!
II. THE IMPORTANT INQUIRY RESPECTING THIS SOLEMN EVENT. "When He visiteth, what shall I answer Him?"
1. There is individuality in this question; it is the soul's soliloquy. Not what shall this man do; but what shall I do?
2. It is, what shall I do? But the time for action is then over. Can I escape and hide myself? Can I evade or deceive? Can I contend with Him?
3. It is, what shall I answer? Various are the excuses with which men satisfy their consciences now, but they will avail nothing then. The following will have nothing to answer, — vicious men and dissipated. Men who have neglected their souls. Self-satisfied formalists. The spiritual professor who has not departed from secret sin. There will be one who can answer — the poor, penitent, humble, believing disciple of Jesus.
(F. Close, A. M.)
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