Behold, how good and how pleasant it is when brothers live in harmony!
I. WHAT, HERE, THIS GRACE OF UNITY IS LIKENED TO. To the sacred consecrating oil with which the priests of God were anointed (cf. Exodus 30:22-33). And also to the dew which descended on Mount Hermon.
1. Take these two similitudes together. That which is common to them both is their so descending, flowing down, that, as in the case of the holy oil, the whole person of the priest is sanctified by it; it descended from the head to the beard, and thence to the borders of the priestly garment, so that his whole service was consecrated, and all his members. And so with the dew on the lofty Hermon; it stayed not there, but descended - the word "descended" is used in each ease, it is the key-word of the psalm, like the word "keep" in Psalm 121. - to the lower heights, and thence to the plains, so that the whole land, from Hermon in the north to Zion in the south, was blessed thereby. Now, the grace of unity is in this respect like the holy oil and the dew - it is a blessing for all and every one; for all our service and ministry, for all the people, the lowly as well as those of high station, and for all the land. North and south in Palestine had been torn by discord, strife, and war; but when this psalm was written they were all "as one man," gathered and bound together in the unity of their national life and of their one faith (Ezra 3:1; Nehemiah 8:1). Happy the nation, happy the Church, happy the home, where this blessed spirit of unity comes and abides!
2. Take them separately. And:
(1) The holy oil. It was commanded of God (cf. Exodus 30.). It was very precious and fragrant. Its composition and character were due to God. It consecrated all service, and no service could be rendered without it. But all this true of this grace of unity.
(2) The dew. It gave fertility and beauty and health to all the land, which would have been bare and sterile without it. Again, this is true of this grace. That nation, Church, home, where unity reigns shall be good and pleasant to look upon and to be associated and identified with. It shall render glory to God, and be for the blessing of men.
II. WHAT ARE ITS CONDITIONS.
1. Association. We must come together; there can be no unity in solitariness. We are many members, but one body. It condemns all separatism for separatism's sake.
2. Variety. There is no unity in the mere repetition of the same things, as in a heap of sand, a flock of sheep. But unity requires harmonized varieties. Music is not a monotone, but a harmony. Acts of Uniformity cannot secure it. In a true Christian society there must be variety of thought, feeling, and opinion, of age, position, character.
3. Liberty. There is no unity where there is no freedom. No real agreement exists where none is allowed to disagree. A lump of ice binds together a whole mass of most discordant things, but there is no unity in such a mass. They are fettered together by the frost force; let that be loosed, and each goes its own way at once.
4. Life. There is no strife in a graveyard; dead things do not quarrel A dead Church is peaceful enough.
5. Intelligence. The unity that is produced by priestcraft and superstition, where education and intelligence are lacking, where if light came it would at once be dissolved, - that is not true unity. But without these conditions (vers. 1-3) unity is not.
III. WHAT ITS REAL SOURCE. The Holy Spirit of God. Like as one life animates our bodies and makes them one, one common feeling the passion-swayed multitude; so when the Spirit of God comes into a community, then, as at Pentecost, there is one body, "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4.).
IV. WHAT THE FRUIT IT BEARS. "There the Lord commanded the blessing," etc. (ver. 3). It is ever so. - S.C.
Let Thy priests be clothed with righteousness.
I. A ministry that advocates THE PRINCIPLES OF RECTITUDE. The Sermon on the Mount should be the text and the imperial inspiration of every teacher.
II. A ministry that advocates the principles of rectitude Is AN HONEST WAY.
1. Conscientiously, believing in them.
2. Consistently, living them.
3. Independently, disregarding alike the frowns and smiles of men. A ministry, in fact, that "commends itself to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
III. A ministry that advocates the principles of rectitude FOR A RIGHT PURPOSE. Not for popularity, not for greed, not for sect, but for right. Such a ministry as this the people will believe in, trust, and follow.
(David Thomas, D. D.)
And let Thy saints shout for joy.Proverbs 3:17). We dare not speak of uninterrupted enjoyment. Christians live too much beneath their privileges to admit of this; and, even though they should attain perfection, how could they escape suffering in a world where sin so much abounds? It would be preposterous to expect it. But, making all deductions, the believer has far more pleasure than the man who rejects the overtures of Divine compassion. Is it not so? Would you not like to know that your sins were pardoned, every one of them, no more to rise up in judgment against you? Would you not like to know that God was your friend, and that He would never leave you nor forsake you? Would you not like to know that the bondage of death is removed, for Jesus has disarmed the grisly monster of his sting? Now, these are some of the benefits of which genuine believers are partakers; and an interest in them is obtained by believing in the Son of God, who is the Strength and the Saviour of suffering man. Would you not be happier, as well as better, could you say, All these are mine? Make the experiment for yourself. Surely it is worth the trial. Linger no longer. Close at once with God's own free terms. Permit Him to save you in His own way, and there shall be no disappointment.
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