Malachi 2:2
"If you do not listen, and if you do not take it to heart to honor My name," says the LORD of Hosts, "I will send a curse among you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already begun to curse them, because you are not taking it to heart.
Sermons
Blessings Abused Become a CurseT. Kennion, M. A.Malachi 2:2
Blessings Changed into a CurseAlex. Brunton, D. D.Malachi 2:2
Blessings CursedW. Osborne Lilley.Malachi 2:2
Blessings Made CursesP. S. Henson, D. D.Malachi 2:2
Cursed BlessingsJoseph Parker, D. D.Malachi 2:2
Cursing the BlessingJ. Hiles Hitchens.Malachi 2:2
The Blessing CursedA. K. H. Boyd, D. D.Malachi 2:2
The Cursing of Our BlessingsR. Tuck Malachi 2:2
TransformationsJ. Stalker, D. D.Malachi 2:2
Duty and ThreateningG. Brooks.Malachi 2:1-3
Spiritual ReformationHomilistMalachi 2:1-3
Spiritual ReformationD. Thomas Malachi 2:1-3
The direct address of this verse is to the priestly classy whose irreverence and indifference were so clearly shown in their offering the people's unworthy sacrifices, without attempting to reprove them, or endeavouring to awaken them to worthier and more spiritual views of sacrifice. When the ministry has become a fountain and a support of religious negligence and formality, the nation is placed in extreme peril, and severe providential dealings for the national and the priestly humiliation may be expected. The Divine threatening here is, "I will curse your blessings." This may mean either of three things; it may, quite possibly, include all three. It may mean, "I will turn the gifts of the people into curses." Or, "I will make the harvest of your work in the fields a failure and a curse instead of a blessing." Or, "I will make the blessing which you priests pronounce upon the people prove a curse to them." It should, however, be noticed that we now use the term "curse" with a connotation which is much more severe than that of Malachi. Our word "denunciation" would better fit the prophet's meaning.

I. TURNING THE PEOPLE'S GIFTS INTO CURSES. The priests received tithes, portions of the sacrifices, and offerings. God's judgment on the irreverent priests would come in limitation of tithes, disease from eating of the sick beasts offered as sacrifices, and the worthlessness of the offerings; for he who could give a mean thing to God would be sure to give mean things to his servants. Let God withdraw his added blessing, and our very "good things" fail to do us good. The psalmist recognizes this by praying that God would curse the blessings of his enemies (see Psalm 69:22). This is the permanent truth for all the ages, "The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it." Illustrate by the "little book" of Revelation, which was sweet to the taste, but bitter to the soul.

II. TURNING THE HARVEST OF TOIL INTO A CURSE. (Ver. 3.) What a blessing the harvest of the fields is, let the Harvest Home testify. These priests and Levites were compelled to go to their homes, and try and gain a living by the tillage of their land. But the judgment of God on irreverence and indifference would follow them there, and make their harvest a "heap." They would find that, whatever they touched, there was no Divine blessing on their work.

III. TURNING THE PRIESTLY BLESSING OF THE PEOPLE INTO A CURSE. The words of the priestly blessing are given in Numbers 6:23-27. It is the deepest view of this Divine threatening to see it to mean this - The blessings which you, negligent and irreverent priests, pronounce in your formal way shall break in curses upon the heads of the people. - R.T.







I will curse your blessings.
Taking into view the whole of the intelligent creation, and the extent of the duration to which it is destined, the curse of God on these who wantonly brave His love and benevolence, will be seen to be a necessary result of His goodness, as well as a declaration of the righteousness of His character. It is the same Word of heaven which shows us — now the Cross of Christ, and now the flaming sword of justice. God does not lift up His voice to say, "I will curse your blessings," till men have first abused those blessings, and provoked Him to interpose His vengeance. A reason is given for the curse — disobedience. A warning of its approach is likewise given; and every successive threatening is a new mercy, for its tendency is to arrest the sinner ere it be too late, and is an interposition which justice did not require. A captious mind may refuse to call those things blessings which in the result shall only augment the wretchedness and accumulate the perdition of the sinner. But objects which are in themselves capable of benefiting the person on whom they descend, though an evil heart may, by wilful misapplication, turn them to the most serious and fatal injury, are, nevertheless, blessings. God can curse the blessings He bestows in a variety of ways. He can remove them; He can render them ineffectual and powerless; He can make them turn to our hurt. The curse consists in continuing unaltered the blessings He bestows, and in leaving the individual who receives them to himself. In point of fact, the sinner inflicts the curse upon himself. The only part which God takes in the visitation is that He suffers it to be so.

1. Among the blessings which God confers upon sinful men, the first in nature, and among the foremost in importance is time. The days and years which God may add to man's forfeited life are of inestimable price. They are the seed-time for eternity. If it be not used for its intended purpose, Godwill turn it into an awful curse. And does it not prove so, when, as time moves on, the heart becomes harder, the conscience less impressive, love of the world more vehemently impetuous, and when moments accumulate not so fast as sins, which shall go to fan the flames of the unquenchable fire?

2. Another of the blessings from the hand of God is health. This gives a zest to every other gift of heaven, and the want of it takes away the charm of every other enjoyment. It is an unspeakable aid in the pursuit of every good work incumbent upon us. Beware then lest this blessing be presumed upon and misused, and God may give up the disobedient to their own curse. Talents and education are blessings from the hand of God; they place the individuals who possess them higher in the scale of being. But if they are perverted from their lawful ends, — if they should be found enlisted on the side of infidelity or worldliness, — the blessing will become a curse.

3. I might proceed to speak of other blessings, of which the misimprovement will fatally transmute into the curse. Riches, honour, friends, rank, influences, and the various interferences which deliver men from evil, or avert its approach, are all the good gifts of God. They are capable of a use of the most important nature both to ourselves and others. The perversion of them will be as ruinous in aggravating the misery of the future. Refer especially to this richest of blessings, the glorious Gospel. Even this crowning gift may, by the wilful unbelief and worldliness of the heart, become hurtful as it might have been beneficial. Can there be a more dreadful curse than when the very means employed for the soul's conversion, place it further and still further from that necessary issue?

(T. Kennion, M. A.)

There is no accommodation in Divine righteousness. We never read that to-day we may intermit a little, the law shall no longer be so rigorous and ruthless, the law shall be oiled down into smoothness so that it shall be easy, and the spirit of disobedience shall be less exasperated: never. The law never changes. The moral tone of the Bible is never lowered in accommodation to human weakness or human selfishness. Nor is judgment lessened that a man may feel the more comfortable with himself. There is wondrous originality in the way of putting the Divine judgment before the consideration of men. Probably the judgment was never more vividly and powerfully depicted than in this instance: — "I will curse your blessings": what to you is a blessing shall cease to be such and shall become a curse: I will make your health the worst disease you ever had; I will make you poor through your very wealth; I will send upon the richest results of your labour such a darkness that you will flee away from the very image of your own success. How terrible is God! but always how terrible in righteousness. Why does this punishment fall upon the priestly race or house? Simply because the priest has been unfaithful, self-considering, base in heart, forgetful of his duty to God and his service to man. The Lord does not make priests for nothing: whatever the priest may be, if he fail in his function, God plagues him by blighting his blessings. The priest may be a poet, gifted with fine fancy, able to sing to the world's comforting and inspiration, and if he palter with his gift, if he prostitute it, God's judgment will fall heavily upon him. We do not limit the word "priest" to religious functions or exercises or responsibilities: every man has his own call of God, and by so much may be regarded as sustaining a priestly relation to the throne of God. A man may be a merchant, a counsellor, a man of great sagacity, a person qualified to exercise large and useful influence, and if he fail to work out his mission in life this punishment falls upon him: he has more anxiety over his wealth than he ever had over his poverty, and his very health is a plague and a temptation to him all the day. How God tightens His hands upon the reins! how He tugs! how He rules! We think sometimes He has given us full head, and we go at our own pace, and suddenly the jaw is torn, and we begin to feel that we are servants, not masters; that we are under providential guidance, not under selfish inspiration: the Lord reigneth, and He is as loving in judgment as He is in redemption. How will the Lord curse the blessings of the priests? "Behold, I will corrupt your seed." Now, the house of Aaron had nothing to do with ploughing and with sowing: why then corrupt or spoil or mar the seed that was to be sown in the fields? why take the juice out of it? why deplete its vitality? The house of Levi is by law exempted from agricultural pursuits. True: but not from agricultural tithes. The priests lived upon the land, as certainly as the farmers did, and the Lord punished the priests where they would most feel it. After they had gone in that direction they should feel the weight of the rule of God where they could most sensitively respond to the imposition. It is easy to sow seed: but are we quite sure that no operation has been performed upon the seed before we have sown it? God is invisible, the hand of God is intangible, the ministry of God is impalpable. The seed looks the same as in the healthiest years and the most abundant harvesting. The farmer says, The seed is good: sow it! If we had been gifted with the piercing eyesight that sees the spiritual we should have known that only yesternight the Spirit of God was in the granary, spoiling every seed garnered against seed-time. Why will we be befooled always by the eyes of our bodies? as if they could see anything. We do not live the faith-life that believes that all things are under the touch as they are under the ownership of God. God makes the wine vinegar; God makes us drink our own etymology. If we call for wine, sharp wine, we shall have enough of it; and God will make the wine sharp and sour in the palate. Why not believe that all things are under the government and benediction of God? Behold the fowls of the air: consider the lilies of the field: see God everywhere.

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

There is a text which is the counterpart of this, "I will turn the curse into a blessing." God does not willingly afflict. He never takes a blessing away without bestowing a better one in its place, unless any of His blessings have been abused, and then, when His love has been trampled on, when in their headstrong wickedness His creatures turn against Him and abuse His blessings, then He puts a curse upon them. Consider some illustrations —

1. What the world calls wealth, goods. There is a solemn irony in that word "goods." By what men call "goods," they do not mean truth, things spiritual and eternal, but they mean boxes, bales, and bundles of things kept in stores. We need not disparage wealth. It is not a sin for man to toil for it, to plan for it; and yet though it be a blessing, how easily can God blast it. How easily the Lord can plant thorns in the rich man's pathway.

2. Home and domestic relations. No sweeter blessing on earth than the encompass-meat of love. Yet how many miserable homes there are. Just one prodigal son will spoil it: just one vicious habit: some stain of sin: some skeleton of disgrace.

3. The blessings of the Gospel. This Gospel comes to be the savour of death unto death unless we obey God's laws, and follow Him in humble love.

(P. S. Henson, D. D.)

God only has an absolute right to curse. Men curse each other wrongfully; God's curses are merciful and righteous. He blesses readily; He curses reluctantly. The Jews deserved more evil than that which befell them.

I. MEN POSSESS MANY BLESSINGS.

1. Natural. Abundance of the fruits of the earth. Refreshing variations of the seasons. Gratification of our senses with beauty, fragrance, and music. Stores of useful minerals, and medicinal herbs.

2. National. Subjection to rightly constituted authority. Freedom of speech. Commercial prosperity. Progressive legislation. Well-stored marts. Liberty of conscience. Wise distribution of wealth in the creation of labour.

3. Domestic. Love of kindred. Sympathy of friendship. A quiet and peaceable habitation. A bountiful supply of the necessities of life.

4. Personal. Health. Wisdom. Honour. Success. Wealth.

5. Religious. Pious associations. Spiritual enlightenment. The worship of the sanctuary. Divine pardon and purification. The instruction of men and books. The hope of eternal glory.

II. THESE BLESSINGS MAY BE CURSED,

1. God does this by permitting the blessings themselves to become a curse. Abounding luxuriance in nature has engendered idolatry, sensuality, and sloth.

2. God sometimes inflicts a curse upon the blessings. The fruitful land becomes barrenness. God may curse our blessings —

(1)That we may recognise His hand in their bestowment.

(2)That we may seek our blessedness in Him.

(3)That we may rightly appreciate their value.

(4)That we may be sanctified by the affliction which their loss or abuse may occasion.

(5)That we may illustrate His holiness by the punishment of our sins.

III. THESE BLESSINGS ARE CURSED BECAUSE OF MEN'S INDIFFERENCE TO GOD'S GLORY. Persistent indifference to God will ever bring His curse. Let us, in order that what we regard as blessings may continue to bless us, lay God's glory to heart —

1. By pondering God's claims until our hearts are moved.

2. By fixing our warmest affections upon His glory.

3. By living a life of ardent devotion to its furtherance in the world.

(W. Osborne Lilley.)

God does not say that He will take their blessings away; He will let them remain, only with His ban upon them, and see what they will be Worth then. The blessings shall remain, but they shall remain scathed and blighted: They tell us that there is an Eastern fruit which sometimes undergoes a curious process of decay. It looks as blooming and fresh as ever to the eye, but when you take it in your hand it crumbles into dust. Now, a like process was to pass upon all the comforts and advantages, all the treasures and delights of these doomed men. Though nothing would be changed, all things should become new. The soul would be gone from all comforts and enjoyments. What are commonly called good things should communicate no happiness, and tend to no good. A tree may be withered without being cut down.

1. Blessings may be said to be cursed, if God deprives us of the power of enjoying them. When a blind man looks at the most beautiful scene, he sees nothing of it. As our outward senses are aware of sights and sounds, in like manner our souls have their senses (so to speak) which take note of pleasure and pain. In the natural state of a healthy mind, it feels pleasure and happiness when it is surrounded with those things we call blessings. But in one moment God can end all this. Without changing in the least our outward aspect, or our outward circumstances, God can make our souls as incapable of feeling happiness in the possession of our outward blessings, as the blind man's eyes are of discerning the light of day. Amid our earthly blessings He can make us moody, depressed, thankless, miserable beings. And how often God does do this! A rich man's wealth is cursed, when it remains as entire and well-invested as ever; but cannot keep its owner,s heart from being racked by fears that he is to end in the work. house. And such a case has many a time been. It is a bitterer thing, it is a sorer punishment, a thousandfold, to curse a blessing than to take it away Illustrate by Lord Byron.

2. If God suffers them to have an evil tendency on our souls. St. Paul says, "The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance." The blessings God bestows have a natural tendency, generally expressed, to lead men to think seriously about their souls, and earnestly to turn to Christ — to benefit us spiritually. But it is possible they may have quite an opposite effect: they may do us harm spiritually. They may make it more and more unlikely that we should find our home in heaven at last. Illustrate from the mass of earthly blessings implied by the words "wealth and comfort." What is the right and healthy tendency of all these? They should make us deeply thankful to Him who gave us them all. They should fill us with an earnest desire to employ all that has so kindly been given to us for God's glory and the good of our fellow-creatures. But wealth often tends to make its possessor proud, arrogant, overbearing, or idle and useless, selfish and vicious. Think of the blessing of dear friends and of a happy family circle. But even such pure blessings may become cursed. The erring heart may make an idol of the creature. Even spiritual blessings may be cursed. The "means of grace" may have their tendency so completely reversed, as to become means of condemnation, of guilt, of perdition. Their natural and healthful tendency may in all cases be reversed, so that they shall turn to means of hardening and of destruction. Our subject even applies to the regenerating, comforting, sanctifying Holy Spirit of God. If the influences of the Spirit are resisted; if we harden ourselves against His gentle working, and determinedly grieve Him away and quench Him; then this influence, that God gave to work out our salvation, turns to something that not only tends to our final ruin, but (awful to think) actually makes sure of it. The same Spirit that melts one man's heart hardens another man's, as the self-same fire melts wax, but hardens clay. There are just two things, one of which Christ must be to each of us. He must either be our Saviour or our condemnation. Now that we know of redemption through Him, we must either accept or reject Him. He must either be an unspeakable blessing, or a blessing cursed.

(A. K. H. Boyd, D. D.)

Instead of Divine justice being a violation of Divine goodness, it is a necessary part thereof. This God Himself taught man by that mysterious disclosure of His character to Moses. God "merciful and gracious," but "by no means clearing the guilty." A lack of justice would be a lack of goodness. Love without equity would be effeminate indulgence. To mark His disapproval of what is sinful is as much to be expected of an infinitely Holy Being, as that He will signify His approval of what is righteous. But in the exercise of His justice how conspicuous is His mercy. He does not visit men with punishment till He has striven to recover them from their evils, and not then till they have been distinctly warned of approaching wrath. In the context Malachi is directed to warn the priests, who had grieved God by their disobedience to His commandments, that unless they reformed, and faithfully did the will of God, they should be visited with a curse. Thus a condition is interposed before the curse is announced. The nature of the judgment hero referred to deserves attention. The Divine Ruler sometimes removes that which was a blessing. He frustrates their plans; shatters their ideals; scatters their wealth; removes their friends, etc. But here is the continuation of a blessing with a curse upon it, so that it cannot bless. The very blessings which have been possessed and enjoyed for years become the fruitful sources of untold sorrow. We cannot impugn the dealings of God. There is a "need's be" for every such mark of His displeasure.

1. For His own sake He curses the blessing. He will be glorified by man. When by kind, gentle, wooing measures He fails to pro duce in us the fruits of righteousness, He uses severer means.

2. God curses our blessings for our sakes. Outward misfortunes direct man's attention to his inward necessities. Calamity and sorrow humble the proud heart, subdue the stubborn will, and bring the wandering spirit to the bosom of Jesus.

(J. Hiles Hitchens.)

Blessings of high and inestimable value had been bestowed upon the children of Israel. Had they faithfully improved the blessings bestowed upon them, to what a height might not their prosperity and their happiness have risen! But they were unfaithful stewards of the grace of God. Their inordinate selfishness and their restless love of change betrayed them continually into transgression. No sooner were they established in the promised land, than they forsook the Lord, and followed strange gods. Therefore did the vengeance of the Highest fall upon them. Terrible chastisements were often inflicted, and they sank at last in utter ruin. A "curse" was sent upon them that cursed even the blessings in which they were accustomed to glory. Their spiritual light, which had been their chiefest glory, was per. vetted to inflame their pride. Their distinction as the peculiar people of God embittered their contempt and hatred for other nations. By habitual transgression their hearts became so hardened in the end that they received not when He came, the hope of Israel. They crucified and slew the Lord of Life. The counsels of Divine providence are the same in every age. In every age they punish national guilt with national suffering. When the transgressions of any people provoke the Divine vengeance against them, even the blessings which they have enjoyed are changed into a curse. The words of the text are capable of individual application. In the fate of the individual may be traced the great principle of retribution which the text announces. It is not indeed seen so clearly and so uniformly, — because for individuals there is provided hereafter a recompense of reward. Observe the accomplishment of the threatening of the text in regard to the advantages by which the lot of one individual is distinguished from that of another. How often, when he layeth not the Divine commandments to heart, the very blessing in which its possessor rejoiced the most, becomes the most a curse to him. Apply to the misuse of health, wealth, power, intellectual gifts, fame, worldly prosperity in general. Spiritual light is a benefit more valuable far than worldly prosperity. Yet, even spiritual light, when we use not the benefit as we ought, may be changed into a curse for the punishment of our sin. Who can arraign the justice of the dispensation which thus bringeth evil out of good? These benefits belong to the Lord alone. They were given us at first of His free and unmerited mercy. When we are worse than unprofitable, can we complain if those joys are no longer ours which are intended for the faithful servants of God? Can we complain if the objects around us, changing, as we ourselves have done, their original purpose, minister to us evil instead of good, whilst we wilfully persevere in the road to destruction? Even the chastisements of the Lord are sent in mercy to rouse the sinner from his fatal security, to save him from an anguish more dreadful and more lasting. Let us give glory to the name of God, from whom all our blessings come. Let us keep ever in view that only for purposes of wisdom and beneficence He hath entrusted to us any part of His own fulness. Let us keep ever upon the imagination of our hearts, that He, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift, is righteous, and will demand from us a strict account of the manner in which we employ the talents committed to us, and "will render unto every man according to his deeds."

(Alex. Brunton, D. D.)

"I will curse your blessings" — what a weird and mysterious threat that is! What does it mean? Well, I think we may get at the truth suggested by it by recalling three miracles performed on water at three widely separate dates in sacred history. The first of the three was that gruesome miracle wrought in Egypt by Moses, one of the plagues, when he turned the waters of Egypt into blood. It was a ghastly transformation- one of the best blessings of life turned into a curse. The next miracle to which I will refer, performed on the same element of water, was the first miracle of our Lord's ministry, the miracle at Cana of Galilee, when He turned the water into wine. I say it was changing that which is in itself a blessing into a still higher blessing. Then the third instance to which I refer is an incident in the life of Elisha "The situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth, but the water is nought," they said to him. Well, the young prophet accepted the challenge, and cast a handful of salt into the wells of Jericho, with the result that the water, which was salt before, became sweet and pleasant. That was an instance of a curse being turned into a blessing. Now, you see, these were three transformations, and they were all symbolical. Similar transformations are taking place still in human experience. Now I think you begin to see what is the drift of the teaching of this text.

1. The blessings and the curse of life.

2. Blessings cursed.

3. Blessings blessed; and

4. The curse changed into a blessing.

I. THE BLESSINGS AND THIS CURSE OF LIFE. Life has its blessings and it has its curse. Now, what are the blessings of human life? Well, the blessings of human life are simply the things that tend to make it blessed or happy. When God created man at the beginning, we read that He blessed him, and said, Be fruitful, and multiply," etc. In these words the Creator indicated that man had been made for happiness, and He mentioned several of the principal sources of that happiness, such as the food with which he was to be regaled; his dominion over the inferior creatures; and above all, his social instincts, which were to cause to rise about him the charities of home. Of course, there has been a great change since that sketch was made by the Creator of man's happy lot, and yet the world is still full of things that are intended and fitted to make life blessed or happy. Then higher than the pleasure of the senses is the pleasure of the affections, and of the intellect, and those are ministered to by all the objects of love — parents, children, husband and wife, and so on, the Lord's day, the Lord's Word, the privilege of prayer, the Great Salvation, such are some of what you might call the blessings of life. Then what is the curse of life? You remember when man had fallen, how God pronounced upon him the curse; and what was it? To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." There is the curse; it is pain and sorrow and subjection and ill-usage.

II. BLESSINGS CURSED. Let us look at this as the first transformation, because it is the one mentioned in the text. The blessings of life may be cursed. When does that happen? Well, I should say that the blessings of life are cursed when they fail to yield the happiness which they are naturally fitted to yield. Sometimes I am sure you have all noticed it. There may be food in the house; there may be money; there may be all that money can buy, and yet somehow happiness is not there. I think it might almost be said that those ages in which the means of happiness nave been most numerous have been the least happy epochs. Now, take, for instance, the period of Rome's decay. That was a period when wealth was flowing into Rome on every hand, and when in the Romans there was the keenest appetite for pleasure, and yet pleasure fled from the Romans. Do you remember how one of our poets describes it in ever memorable words

"On that hard pagan world disgust and secret loathing fell,

Deep weariness and sated lust made human life a hell.

In his cool hall, with haggard eyes the Roman noble lay;

He drove abroad, in various guise, along the Appian way;

He made a boast, drank fierce and fast, and crowned his hair with flowers;

No easier, nor no quicker passed the impracticable hours."That is a description of how the blessings of the world may be turned into a curse. But perhaps the Commonest way in which the blessings of life are transformed into a curse is when the satisfaction of the inferior happiness prevents the soul from desiring to enjoy the superior kinds of happiness. That often happens. The glut of the soul with the happiness of the senses may prevent it from appreciating the happiness of the heart or the intellect or the spirit. Now, have you never seen this? A man who has been enjoying life in a humble way becomes suddenly and immensely rich. Well, he and his wife and daughters begin to dream of society, and with great efforts they get their feet into society, which despises them. The daughters come to no good; the sons become thriftless and dissipated. That is an instance of the blessings of life being turned into a curse. Yes, and even so sweet a thing as human affection may become a curse in this way. It may become so satisfying that we have no desire left for anything higher. Oh, unhappy transformation, when the very thing that our Creator has given us for our enjoyment through human perverseness is changed into a disadvantage and a loss.

III. BLESSINGS BLESSED. We have just seen that what we call the blessings of life are not in themselves able to make us happy, unless with the blessing there be given a second blessing. Those things which naturally tend to be blessings only really are so when there is a certain correspondence between them and the constitution of those who receive them. Now, for instance, food is one of the blessings of life. It has a natural tendency to make us happy, but in certain states of the body it does not do so. It may even poison the whole frame. But when food is received into a healthy body, then it is a blessing. Or, in the same way, we may say that knowledge is a blessing; but it is not a blessing to everybody. What is the most golden page of great eloquence or wisdom to an ignorant man? Even the highest blessings require a certain correspondence in us before they issue in what the Creator intended them for. O my people, it is a sad fact that even the Gospel may be a savour of death unto death. And let us bring this down to our own experience. The Word itself is a blessing, but it is only blessed to those who are in the right state of mind to receive it. Wealth ministers only to an inferior kind of happiness, and, as I have just shown, it is many a man's ruin, and the ruin of many a family; and yet wealth may be used in such a way as to produce in the home an order and elegance in the midst of which love easily and naturally flourishes, and intelligence and culture are drawn in almost with the breath. Do you not think that in this way the life of a true Christian is a wonderful thing? The commonest mercies when received from the hand of the Heavenly Father as His gifts, become at the same time spiritual mercies. A true Christian enjoys from the blessings of life all the happiness which others receive, but at the same time he derives a happiness which is peculiar to himself alone, because to Him the blessings of life are doubly and trebly blessed.

IV. THE CURSE CHANGED INTO A BLESSING. What is the curse of life? What was the primary curse? It was toil, and that has been a terrible curse in this world. Millennium after millennium the slave has shed tears of blood under the rod of the oppressive master. And yet how many cases might be adduced in which this primary curse has been changed into a blessing! I am sure I am speaking to many who, if they were asked to say what is their greatest blessing, would feel inclined to answer, "My work." Your work has kept off your soul those birds of evil which fall on the souls of the indolent and slay them. It has developed your faculties; it has filled your home with comforts. I do not know any happiness that rivals the happiness of work well and honestly done. That is the primary curse changed into a blessing. And if you look over the face of the world you will find the same thing on a large scale. The happiest nations are not those living in places where everything is done for them, where they can spend their time in sloth, and yet get plenty to eat and drink. Those are the happiest nations who have had to wring their substance out of a grudging soil, and assert the dignity of man in the face of adverse nature. But I think the curse turned into a blessing is most easily seen in those cases where the loss of the inferior happiness has caused the soul to seek the superior happiness, Ill-health has sometimes made men famous who would have been nothing of the kind had not the arrow drinking their life-blood caused them to retire from the general herd of men. It is a very significant fact that two of the five greatest poets of the world have been blind, and there is no reason to doubt that both Homer and Milton had the inner vision sharpened by the withdrawal of the outer vision. It is chiefly in the region of religion that we see this principle at work. I know there are many here wile love God and follow Christ, and if I asked them to say how this has come into their lives I am sure a very large proportion would say that it was through loss, sorrow, bereavement, affliction. And so the curse of life has turned out to be its greatest blessing. Do you not think that when on the evening of the first day of his existence the first man saw the sun setting, and the darkness coming over the earth, the fear invaded his mind that the whole frame of things was about to be dissolved, and that he was about to be struck back into the nothingness out of which he had just emerged? But, lo! as the night enveloped the sky, the hosts of God came forth, the evening star leading the way, and with it suns and systems rolling into light. That spectacle would never have been seen had not the darkness supervened. And in the same way, some of you may remember that when the darkness of your first great disappointment or sorrow came, it seemed to you as if the universe were dissolving, and you yourself were being struck back into a nonentity. But you found day by day that there had risen to you a glory and a hope as much greater than the happiness you had previously experienced as the united light of all the suns that burn in the midnight heaven is greater than the single light of the lamp that lights the system to which we belong. The lesson is this: that nothing in this world is either in itself absolutely a blessing or a curse. There are those things which we call the blessings of life because they have the tendency to happiness; and there are those things which we call the curses of life because they have a tendency to unhappiness. But I say nothing in itself is absolutely either a blessing or a curse. Therefore, if the bleatings of life are multiplied in your lot, if you are at present experiencing prosperity, do not be too much uplifted; and, on the other hand, if what is called the curse of life has been sent upon you, if things are going against you, and misfortune is dogging your steps, do not be too much downcast. The blessings of life may be cursed, and the curse of life may be made a blessing, the blessing of the Lord that maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it.

(J. Stalker, D. D.)

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