I. SOME OF THE SOURCES WHENCE COME OUR SINS.
1. Fear. Illustrate by provocation at Red Sea (ver. 7).
2. Lust. Inordinate desire. Putting God to the test (ver. 14). Envy.
3. Story of Dathan (ver. 17).
4. Unspirituality. Incident of the calf (ver. 19).
5. Impatience. Despising the pleasant land, because it did not come to them at once (ver. 24).
6. Licence. Case of immorality at Beth-peor (ver. 28)
7. Distrust. Waters of strife (ver. 32).
8. Imperfect obedience, a sign of self-will.
They did not destroy the Canaanites, which they were commanded to do (ver. 34).
II. THE SORROWS WHICH OUR SINS HAVE CAUSED GOOD MEN. These help us to realize how bad those sins must be. See what sorrow Moses felt in connection with the sin of the golden calf. See what sorrow Aaron felt in the matter of Dathan's rebellion. See what sorrow Phinehas felt in the matter of Ball-peor.
III. THE PITIFUL PATIENCE WITH WHICH GOD HAS EVER DEALT WITH OUR SINS.
1. Waiting until we came to a better mind. Let evil do its own work; it will be sure to punish and humble. God often does so much for us by doing nothing, leaving us to suffer the natural consequences of our sins.
2. Helping us by chastisements to come to a better mind. There may be occasions on which the infinite wisdom decides that it is better not to wait, because there may be active leaders in the evil, or strong self-will, which needs to be dealt with at once. Judgment for some, as in Dathan's case, may be chastisement for all. The worst thing that could happen to us would be to be finally "let alone." If God is in our life - acting in our life - all is right, however trying the circumstances of life may be. - R.T.
Let all the people say, Amen.
I. TO GOD'S COMMANDS, "Let all the people say, Amen."
1. The Divine commands are wholly right. Were we able to see absolute rectitude, looking at it as upon an elaborate architectural plan, we should find, on comparing it with the edifice of God's laws, that the latter is a wonderful and minute reflex on the former. What an inspiring thought!
2. The Divine commands are wholly beneficial. "In keeping of them is great reward."
II. TO GOD'S PROVIDENCE, "let all the people say, Amen."
1. To do otherwise is thoughtless. In the Divine government there is a "balance of power." A law of compensation is at work. Weal and woe are more evenly distributed than is commonly imagined. No person, class, or condition has a monopoly of either the blissful or the baleful. One thing is set over against another. A good man in a sea of troubles is in a condition infinitely preferable to that of a bad man nursed in the lap of luxury, housed magnificently, and faring sumptuously every day.
2. To do otherwise is useless. Where is the profit of rebelling against God's sovereign dealing? It is vain to oppose the inevitable. Nay, it is worse than useless; it is injurious. It increases, instead of alleviating, our misery. An oak that had been rooted up by the winds was borne down the stream of a river, on the banks of which many reeds were growing. The oak wondered to see that things so slight and frail had stood the storm, when so great and strong a tree as itself had been rooted up. "Cease to wonder," said the reed, "you were overthrown by fighting against the storm, while we are saved by yielding and bending to the slightest breath that blows." Yes; it is eminently advantageous to say, Amen to the darkest dispensations of Providence.
3. To do otherwise is forgetful. It ignores the oft-repeated doctrine that out of our trials God perfects our good. When we murmur at sorrow, we cease to remember that it is through "much tribulation" that all kingdoms worth occupying are entered.
III. TO GOD'S GOSPEL, "let all the people say, Amen." The good news of free and full pardon through the sacrifice of Christ and in answer to prayer — be that kept intact. We must take it just as it is. Nothing must be added, nothing removed. It is neither too large nor too small, and woe to us if we attempt to alter it.
(T. R. Stevenson.)
I. THE AMEN OF HABIT. People have uttered it from their infancy, all unconscious how much was really contained in that single word. No feeling nor earnestness has accompanied the vocal sound. So far as receiving any benefit from such empty mummery, you might as well expect it from swinging the pendulum of a clock, or by winding up the machinery of an automaton.
II. THE AMEN OF HOPE. Melanchthon, once going forth upon some important service for his Heavenly Master, and having many doubts and fears as to his success, was cheered by a company of poor women and children, whom he found praying together for the prosperity of the Church. And so, the Amen of hope is breathed forth by the trusting soul, as it hears the Saviour's promise, "Behold, I come quickly" (Revelation 3:11).
III. THE AMEN OF FAITH. When the devout Christian who has poured forth his soul in prayer, says, Amen, it is not the mere utterance of earnest desire, but of undoubting faith in Him who is "always more ready to hear than we to pray." The same gracious Father whose promises we plead in prayer, is able, also, to perform. Faith clasps its arms around the Cross of Jesus, and looks, with undoubting confidence, for an answer of peace.
(J. N. Norton.).
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