Psalm 119:136
Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy Law.

I. CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS SORROW.

1. It is the sorrow of only good men. (Philippians 3:18, "Many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you," etc.) It can be felt only by those who have wept over sin in their own hearts. Three ways of feeling towards the sins of others by men of the world - apathy, pride, mockery.

2. It is an unselfish sorrow. Most of our griefs are personal and selfish. When they are so they often weaken and debase the mind. But this is a disinterested sorrow, akin to Christ's sorrow over Jerusalem; it comes from the noblest sympathies, and braces the mind for the highest exertion.

3. It is inexpressible sorrow.

II. THE REASON OF IT. The transgression of God's Law is a subject of grief under two aspects.

1. As that transgression has reference to God. Sins of the Church and the sins of the world.

2. As it has reference to man. A reasonable sorrow. This sorrow should lead to exertion. Sinners should weep for themselves. - S.







Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not Thy law.
Homilist.
I. They are the tears of ORDER. Discord in sound is a cause of distress to a soul highly attuned to melody. But moral disorder is far more distressing to the soul of the truly spiritual, loyal and good. It is impossible for a man who has been brought into harmony with the eternal will of God and the order of the universe not to be distressed beyond measure at the pandemoniums that sin has created.

II. They are the tears of PHILANTHROPY. It is the nature of love to desire the happiness of its object and to grieve over its misery. Its heart desire and prayer to God is, that it may be saved. But sin plays sad havoc with men, involves them in miseries, and sinks them to hells. In a world of misery a genuine philanthropist cannot therefore but shed "rivers of tears."

III. They are the tears of PIETY. What can be more distressing to a man than to see the object of his strongest affections insulted, misrepresented, wounded, and bitterly opposed? This is what sinners do in relation to God; they transgress His precepts, they rebel against His authority, they aim to thwart His plans and wound His heart. What can piety do, therefore, but shed rivers of tears?

(Homilist.)

Homilist.
I. The tears of a PATRIOT. He knew that those who obeyed not the laws of God were pernicious citizens and would endanger the commonwealth. "Righteousness exalteth a nation," but righteousness is obedience to eternal laws.

II. The tears of a PHILANTHROPIST. He knew that those who transgressed the Divine laws sinned against their own souls and endangered their own interest. He knew that all the sorrows and miseries sprang from disobedience.

III. The tears of a RELIGIONIST. He loved the great God, and he was grieved to hear His Name profaned, His precepts violated, and His authority contemned.

(Homilist.)

If we mourn for sin truly, it will excite our grief wheresoever and by whomsoever it is committed. But, like all our sympathies, it will be excited more powerfully by the sins of those with whom we are more intimately connected, and by such of them as come mere immediately wit, bin the sphere of our own observation. We are to mourn more especially, though not exclusively, for the sins of our own land, of the city in which we dwell, of the Church with which we are in immediate fellowship, of the congregation of which we are members, and of our own families.

I. TRACE THESE RIVERS OF GRIEF TO THEIR SPRINGS.

1. Grief for the sins of men springs from love to God. Sin is a violation of the authority of God, and an offence to the essential purity of His nature. It insults His majesty, and reflects dishonour (so far as a created act can do) upon all His attributes.

2. It springs from love to the law of God. Christians must reckon every sin as a violation of that law which the Son of God hath magnified, and made honourable, and vindicated by His obedience in our nature and in our stead. And God, by the agony and death of His Son, has stamped sin with the broad and burning brand of His hatred.

3. It springs from love to the sinner.

4. There are personal feelings which stir this grief and enter into its composition. When we see a person in distress, it frequently reminds us that we were once afflicted in the same or a similar way — a recollection which strengthens our sympathy, if it is not the spring from which it directly flows. In like manner the saint is made to recollect his former sins, and his grief for them mingles with that which he feels for the present sins of others.

II. THE LEADING QUALITIES OF THIS GRIEF.

1. It is genuine.(1) This is evinced by its impartiality. The sincere mourner is grieved for the sins of friends as well as of enemies, — of those of his own religious connection as well as those of other denominations, — for the sins of his own family as well as those of his neighbours; nay, he is more sensibly affected with the dishonours done to God by those who are most intimately connected with him — "the provoking of sons and daughters." He is grieved for all sin.(2) The genuineness of these tears is evinced by the ease with which they flow. Take a person of tender feelings to a scene of distress, and the tear will instantly start to his eye on beholding it. The mere sight of sin draws forth the sorrow of a godly man.

2. This grief is generous and seemly. Such tears become Christian men — men of stature and valour; for, as one has expressed it, "it is the truest magnanimity to be sensible on the point of God's honour, which is injured by sin."

3. This grief varies, especially in its expression, in different persons, and in the same person at different times. This is common to it with other gracious dispositions in the hearts of men who are but partially sanctified, and whose exercise, in this their sublunary state, resembles the tide which ebbs and flows according to the varying influence of the moon.

4. This grief is habitual. David in the text does not say, rivers ran, but run. Paul could call God to witness that he " had great sorrow and continual heaviness in his heart " for his unbelieving and impenitent countrymen. As long as Christians are in this world they will have reason for this feeling.

5. This grief is influential and profitable. It may be useful to others; it will be useful to ourselves. " By the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better."

(T. McCrie, D. D.)

I. THE DISHONOUR DONE TO GOD BY THE VIOLATION OF HIS LAW. If a man of warm loyalty were living amongst traitors, it would wound him to the quick to hear the king whom he honoured continually reviled. If a man of warm friendship were with the enemies of the object of his love, it would surely grieve him to observe how this friend was hated and despised. And what are such feelings, in comparison with those which should arise in the man of real piety, when he beholds on all sides denial of God and defiance of His laws? What loyalty is comparable to his, seeing that the principle takes its greatness from the greatness of the object, and that it is to none other than the Lord of heaven and earth that he has given his allegiance? What friendship is comparable to His?

II. THE RUIN WHICH TRANSGRESSORS ARE BRINGING ON THEMSELVES. The man who, like the psalmist, believes implicitly the Word of God and is thoroughly persuaded that all its threatenings will be executed. It is with him no matter of conjecture or speculation whether a life of wickedness will terminate in an eternity of misery. And who are these victims of Divine justice? Are they not; his fellow-men, his brethren after the flesh, those for whom he would bitterly sorrow if he knew them exposed to some great temporal calamity? Shall he, then, be unmoved by their everlasting wretchedness?

III. THE INJURY WHICH THEY ARE CAUSING TO OTHERS. It is said by the psalmist, in regard of God's commandments — "In keeping of them there is great reward." The reward is present as well as prospective. It is no small part of this reward, that such is the nature of God's commandments, and such the intimate and indissoluble connection between obedience and happiness, that in proportion as the commandments are kept, the worst forms of evil are banished, and the best of good introduced. Shall it not, then, be with a genuine and deep sorrow that the righteous man, eager for a period of universal happiness, beholds the transgressors who are deferring that period, and prolonging the reign of confusion and misery? Who will say that his grief would be excessive, greater than the occasion warranted, if he were to weep over men's sins with such a weeping as that of the psalmist?

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

I. THE OCCASION OF CHRISTIAN COMPASSION.

II. THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN COMPASSION.

1. It is distinguished by its Divine original. It is a creation of God in the soul.

2. It is distinguished by its depth and intensity.

3. It is characterized by its powerful practical influence.

(1)Prayer.

(2)Personal exertion.

( T. Brookes.)

I. BECAUSE THEY OFFEND AND SIN AGAINST GOD'S LAW. Before we can experience anything of this jealousy for God and His Word, we must, like David, learn to know Him, not merely on the report of others, but by our own experience; not merely to have heard His Word, or read it, but to have felt it, and partaken of it, and enjoyed it.

II. ON ACCOUNT OF THE HAPPINESS AND PEACE SINNERS SACRIFICE BY NOT KEEPING GOD'S LAW.

1. Oh, what an amount of present blessings do men lose by not keeping God's law! What joy in believing, what comfort of the Holy Ghost, what deep, genuine, abiding, solid peace!

2. Such are the present blessings which the believer enjoys; but who can describe those which are laid up for him at God's right hand for evermore?

III. ON ACCOUNT OF THE SORROWS AND MISERIES WHICH THEY BRING DOWN UPON THEMSELVES.

IV. ON ACCOUNT OF THE AGGRAVATED GUILT UNDER WHICH THEY PERISH. Oh, what reason have we to weep over those whom we daily see putting off Christ for something they like better than Christ!

(N. Ashby.)

Sunday Circle.
A man had gained great notoriety through his profligate habits. His wife urged him one evening to remain at home, and not to go to the saloon. He became angry, and went out of the house, leading his little girl by the hand. The child, knowing how much the mother suffered, begged the father not to go to the saloon that night. He took her up in his arms, and on putting his face close to hers his cheek was wetted by a tear. He said, in telling his experience some time afterwards: "My anger completely melted away. I determined to go back home and make my wife happy." If he had fought against the influence of that tear, it might have been his destruction. Certainly it was a manly thing to surrender to the tear of love. Cease to oppose God, and with angry words to fight against the influence of friends who would save you from ruin.

(Sunday Circle.)

One time I was preaching in Chicago, and when I gave out the invitation a man stood up. He was an enormous fellow, weighing twenty-two stone, and I thought to myself, "You have caught a magnificent specimen to-night." After the meeting was over I went down and sat behind him and talked to him. He said: "Let me tell you how I came to take Christ to-day. I have been a church-goer all my life, but I only went to criticize, and when men got up in the prayer-meeting to talk I took out a little notebook which I kept, and wrote down what they said, and afterwards watched to see how their daily life agreed with what they said. I said to myself: 'All these Christians are hypocrites.' My heart was as hard as stone; I was perfectly indifferent. I was taken very ill, and one day when I lay down I thought I was dying. A man came to me, and asked if he might pray for me. I said: 'Well, if you want to pray for me, I have no objection, if it will do you any good. If you will enjoy it, pray away.' He knelt down beside my bed, and I watched him. I though I was dying, but I wasn't a bit frightened. I was perfectly callous and hardened, and as this man prayed for me I watched him out of the corner of nay eyes. As I was watching him out of the corner of my eyes, I saw a tear rolling down his cheeks, and I said to myself, 'Here is this man, a perfect stranger to me, and he is weeping over my sins and over my lost condition.' That broke my heart. That is why I am here to-night. That is why I got up and asked for prayer. That is why I have taken the Lord Jesus. I tell you, you will win more men and women by your tears than you will ever win by your arguments."

(R. A. Torrey, D. D.)

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