Psalm 97:8
The figures which men worshipped in the olden time were either shaped of wood or molten metal; but in either case they were hand carved or hand graven, finished off by man's skill; and to set prominently the fact of man's share in their making, they are called "graven" images. It does not matter what form a man's god may take - whether it be a creation of his hand or of his imagination; the thing that makes it an idol, a vanity, an altogether unworthy thing, is that it is his. Man is a dependent creature. He did not make himself; he has a Maker. He does not want a God; he has a God. Whatever a man makes is less than the man. The god a man makes must be an inferior being to himself; and so cannot be really his God.

I. THE INFLUENCES ON MEN OF WORSHIPPING THEIR OWN GODS. As they have no standard beyond themselves, there is no hope of their rising higher in intellectual or moral attainments. And men make their gods to represent what they like - their pleasures. So their gods are always actually lower than their best selves, and the worship of them must debase and degrade them. This is abundantly illustrated by the immorality of all heathenism, both formal and intellectual.

II. THE CONSEQUENCES OF MEN'S WORSHIPPING THEIR OWN GODS. They must come into a "confounding." Life brings round the strain-times when the helplessness of idols is revealed. Illustrate by the helplessness of the Baal priests in the great testing day of Carmel. Intellectual idols, in which men boast themselves now, can provide no cheer for sorrow, no light for death.

III. THE INFLUENCES ON MEN OF WORSHIPPING THE ONE GOD. They have the inspiration of an absolute standard. They can always see in God what they ought to be, what they might be, and what they should strive to be. They can always find in God something beyond them, something that they are not. High thoughts of God draw us on to noble attainments.

IV. THE CONSEQUENCES OF MEN'S WORSHIPPING THE ONE GOD. They are never "confounded." They do receive Divine help. They are lifted above all fear of nature forces or of human forces that may be arrayed against them. - R.T.







Zion heard, and was glad; and the daughters of Judah rejoiced because of Thy judgments, O Lord.
I. THE CHURCH IS GLAD, AND REJOICES IN THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD, BECAUSE IT IS ITSELF REDEEMED WITH JUDGMENT.

1. By judgment the Church is redeemed from the curse of the law — judgment on Christ.

2. By judgment the Church is delivered from the captivity of Satan — judgment oil Satan.

3. By judgment the Church is freed from the bondage and tyranny of the world — judgment on the world.

4. By judgment the Church is to be redeemed from the power of Antichrist (Revelation 18:20).

5. By judgment the Church is to be redeemed from the power of sin — judgment on the Church.

II. THE CHURCH IS GLAD, AND REJOICES IN THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD, BECAUSE THEY ARE THE TRIUMPHS OF CHRIST.

1. The triumphs of Christ are of two kinds —

(1)The triumphs of His grace.

(2)The triumphs of His vengeance.

2. The one as well as the other is rejoiced in and celebrated by the Church.

III. THE CHURCH IS GLAD, AND REJOICES IN THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD, BECAUSE THEY DIMINISH THE AMOUNT AND PREVALENCY OF SIN.

1. The direct effect of judgments is to remove the barriers which hinder the progress of the truth.

2. Another effect of Divine judgments is to deter from the commission of sin.

3. The effect of the finally overwhelming judgments of God is to remove sin from its place in the moral universe, and shut it up in everlasting concealment, Hellazar-house.

IV. THE CHURCH IS GLAD, AND REJOICES IN THE JUDGMENTS OF GOD, BECAUSE THEY FURNISH A GLORIOUS MANIFESTATION OF HIMSELF.

1. They reveal His holiness — He cannot look upon sin.

2. They manifest His justice. He gives to each one according to his work.

3. They that prove His omnipresence as a moral governor. No sin escapes Him.

4. They demonstrate His truth — for they are for the most part predicted.

5. They exhibit His power — for they overwhelm the mightiest.

6. They reveal His love to the Church — for they are chiefly in her defence and rescue.

(James Stewart.)

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