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The Degradation of Sin
"Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor" ( Hos 9:1 ).
The footsteps of evil are tracked by the divine eye. Places, how concealed soever from the light and from public recognition, are all searched by his glance, lying nakedly and openly before him, so that he observes the things that were done in secrecy supposed to be inviolable. The picture is striking and painful in its minuteness. Evil has no lodging-place which it can call its own by right of secrecy or solitude. Even perdition itself is searched by the eye of the Almighty. The Psalmist could find no place of concealment, though he fled away on the wings of the morning; the uttermost parts of the earth were a familiar place, and the depths of the wilderness were as a populous city. It is useful to throw back our memory upon days that are gone, and to track ourselves in the ways of rebellion. We can go back to the flowers which we blighted, to the music which we silenced, to the hopeful looks on child faces that we caused to darken; we can recall voices charged with pathos, and appeals meant for our salvation which we rejected and denied with scoffing and contempt. We are not to look upon a place here and there as a place that has been defiled, but are to connect all the places, to set them as it were in one long dark and humiliating line; every time we look upon that line we shall feel our need of the Cross, because there will come into our hearts a burning shame, which no moral act upon our part can quench or diminish.
What was the consequence of all this divine inquest and criticism? We find that consequence in the words, "Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people." The word signifies: Do not bound and leap for joy; do not yield to the spirit of exultation, as if you had a right to the noblest rapture. Even the joy, so called, of the vicious man tends in the direction of deeper sorrow. It is as if Hosea had seen the people of Israel at a time of forbidden festivity; they were drunk with wine, they were mad with prosperity, they were exciting one another to more and more exhilaration; the prophet comes before them in that hour of social madness, and forbids the people to rejoice, and gives as a reason for terminating their foolish rapture that they had gone in heart away from God. Israel wished to have the joy of other nations, rather than the joy that was peculiarly and distinctively her own. Israel wished to have kings, festivities, ceremonial enjoyment and honour, like the other nations of the earth; God meant Israel to have an inner joy, a spiritual peace, a rapture of the soul unknown to those who have but superficial conceptions of life and destiny. Israel rejected this divine thought, and wished to rejoice like other nations to rejoice with pagan joy, and to drown memory with the false excitement of heathen orgies. God thus follows the sinner even into forbidden pleasures, and causes the wine of madness to choke the drunkard in the very agony of his mirth. God is against the sinner; if we may so say, he is doubly against the backsliding sinner who, having known the light and heard the law, has turned his back upon the scene, and trampled the covenant under foot.
"The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her" ( Hos 9:2 ).
God having turned away from adulterous Israel takes with him all the blessings which he had bestowed. This is not resentment; it is in very deed an aspect of mercy with which we ought to be more familiar. The ministry of deprivation is conducted by God upon a beneficent principle, and for a beneficent end. Only weakness threatens; strength warns, foretells, prophesies the whole flow of consequence and effect. We have repeatedly said that when God told man he would die in the day that he ate of the forbidden tree God did not threaten man, but mercifully and lovingly warned him of the consequences of moral actions. Men may gather their harvests into the very floor of the garner, and store their grapes in the very winepress, so much so that everything shall seem to be safe, and the soul shall appear to have much goods laid up for many years; but even when the wheat is on the floor, and the grapes are in the press, and the hand is put forth to draw in plentifulness, even then the sword of the Lord shall strike the bad man, and in the midst of bounty he shall stand a pauper, and feel the pain of hunger. The bounties of nature are lost upon the vicious. They have no satisfaction in bread, they have no joy in wine, they have no gladness in song; all nature is but a radiant blank, an infinite and mocking cipher.
"They shall not dwell in the Lord's land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria" ( Hos 9:3 ).
Notice the last part of this verse as containing what may be called the sting of divine judgment. Here we have the degradation of sin. To be ceremonially clean or pure was the joy and pride of Israel. The Jews would not eat things that were common or unclean, and by this mark they were distinguished from other people. Whilst Israel lived even in nominal piety, how superficial soever it might be, God gave him protection against degradation; but when Israel turned away adulterously from God, and sought satisfaction at forbidden fountains and altars, then the Lord brought upon Israel the misery of this degradation and shame. Israel was forced to eat things that were unclean, things that were killed with the blood in them, things that revolted the sense of the nation, and went dead against all the prejudices of education. Thus a badge was taken from the shoulder of Israel; a distinction was removed from the chosen people; they could have borne reproaches on the ground of moral disobedience with comparative indifference, but to have social boundaries and distinctions broken down was a judgment which Israel keenly felt. But the Lord will seize the sinner at some point, for he cannot be baffled in judgment or thwarted in the application of his righteousness. The Lord's judgments are ordered according to our apostasy; God will strike most where we feel most; he will follow our pride and our vanity, and smite them so as to bring upon them the keenest shame. God will not content himself with some general judgment; he will specifically scrutinise, and either reward or punish according to the result of his inquest. Probably no degradation could have been thrown upon Israel more terrible than to eat unclean things in Assyria; but God did not spare even this if haply he might bring back the people from their apostasy, and reinstate them in the defiled and abandoned sanctuary.
"They shall not offer wine offerings to the Lord, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the Lord" ( Hos 9:4 ).
The meaning of all these ceremonies and actions was that there was a communication between the heart of man and the throne of God. These are what we now call the means of grace. The drink offering accompanied the peace offering. As the offerer laid his hand upon the burnt offering it was wholly consumed by fire which fell from heaven. By these processes the worshipper acknowledged that he belonged to God, and not to himself. In consequence of repeated sin the means of grace were terminated, and there was no longer open access to the throne of mercy. Sacrifices once pleasing unto the Lord ceased to be pleasing unto him because of the character of those who offered them. Let us understand that our worship is not acceptable simply because our words are right or our mechanism complete, but only because our spirit is akin to the spirit of God. If we would please God we must be like God. If we would worship a Spirit we must worship in the spirit. Mechanical religion can never satisfy a spiritual claim. There are appointed means of drawing nigh to God, and we are to accept these and use them without question and without doubt, for by their instrumentality alone, so mysteriously are we constituted, can we receive the benediction of the Lord. The Cross is the way to heaven. The Cross is the only plea which a sinner can use with effect in his approaches to the God whom he has disobeyed. It would seem to our reason in its lowest moods as if we could have come in some other way, or could even have devised methods of approach that should be distinguished by intellectual ability; but the Lord will not allow us so to waste our life. He has shown the appointed way, along that way alone will he receive us; but we have the blessed assurance that no man ever travelled that road without reaching the home of God's love and the sanctuary of God's peace. Israel remained under the ceremonial law after all its spiritual significance and utility had been exhausted. So we may go to the appointed place of worship, and find no altar there. In a profound sense we shall only find the altar which we ourselves first bring. In other words, every man must in a sense be his own altar, and before the altar of his penitence and obedience he must plead all the argument which is set up in the incarnation of Christ and the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God. The prophet proceeds to show that the sacrifices of a disobedient people should be as "the bread of mourners"; even where they attempted to sacrifice to God the sacrifice would not be accepted, because the spirit was wrong. It is curious to observe how human nature reveals itself in the desire to serve God when God has forbidden such service. Some men never pray until the time of prayer has come to an end. There are lives that never think of immortality until the day dies and the eventide sets in with all its gloomy shadows. There is a time for prayer; there is an opportunity for reconciliation; there is a day of grace. Why not seize this as the acceptable time, and improve the light while it lingers on our way?
Thou dost call upon us, Father in heaven, through Jesus Christ thy Son our Saviour, to return unto thee and be healed. Thou dost not send for us that we may be punished, but that we may be saved; thy purpose towards us is a purpose of love, of healing, of redemption, and completeness; thou wouldst make us perfect in thine own likeness, thou wouldst grant unto us the honour of thine own beauty. Thy voice is amongst the ages as a voice of music; there is none like it; its tones fall upon the hearing of the heart, and give hope in despair, light in darkness, comfort amid all the agony of life. May we listen unto the Lord, yea, wait patiently for the utterance of his voice and the indication of his call; then in a spirit of tender and filial obedience may we arise and do the Lord's will. For all the comfort of life we bless thee; may we turn its comfort into its discipline, and because the Lord is good may we be true, and because thy mercy endureth for ever may there be no cessation of our love and industry. We bless thee for all hopes that look beyond the cloud; we rejoice in all inspirations that have in them nothing of earthliness or selfish consideration, but that lead us after the Son of God in the hour when he carried his Cross. When we are faint by the way thou wilt find recovery and sustenance and comfort for us; when the heart is ill at ease its doors will not be closed in the face of God. We bless thee for those troubles that have brought us to the altar; for those anxieties and pains which have conducted us to Gethsemane and to Calvary; for all the discipline that has humbled us, and that has been turned to purposes of sanctification, we bless the Lord as for a great gift choice and invaluable. Only take not thy Holy Spirit from us; may that Spirit say unto us in the midnight of our fear, All is well: the motion is homeward, and the storm doth but thunder in the air, it does not rend the vessel which is commanded by the Son of God. Thus may we have great comfort, great joy; hidden, latent, avowed public triumph, all grade and quality of gladness, so that there may be no doubt that we are the temples of the living God. This prayer we say at Christ's dear Cross, where no man ever died, where all broken hearts have found pardon and heaven. Amen.
Literally, The man of the spirit is mad; the man of the lying spirit, the man who has determined to deceive the nations: that prophet is declared to be a fool, and that spiritual man is said to be mad. The man of the lying spirit tells lies; he has nothing else to tell; he has given himself up to the prince of darkness and to the powers of evil; he is not their subject, loyal and devoted, he is their victim, servile, crushed, without self-respect, held in ignominious and eternal bondage. We find in further reading the Scriptures that there is another spiritual man that is also declared to be mad; concerning the prophet chosen by Elisha himself the question was asked, "Wherefore came this mad fellow to thee? "Concerning Christ it was said, "He hath a devil and is mad; why hear ye him?" St. Paul was declared to be mad; the apostles had to vindicate themselves against daily charges of insanity or madness. Why so? Simply because they were spiritual men; if they had not been spiritual men no critic or foe would have thought of charging them with madness; but simply and solely because they were spiritual men they were declared in their most conspicuous instance to be beside themselves. Paul said, "If we be beside ourselves, it is to God." There is a madness without which there can be no greatness. Talent is never mad, genius is seldom sane; respectability is always decorous, enthusiasm sometimes makes a new map of the world every day, lining it and pencilling it according to an eccentricity not to be brought within rules and mechanical proprieties. Socrates declared that the orator was mad, or he could be no orator; that is to say, so long as the man knew what he was talking about in the conventional sense he had not yielded himself to the spirit of the occasion; he was not caught up as by a whirlwind, and borne away to unmeasured heights; he knew not the meaning of that abandonment which is but another word for the highest and most glorious freedom.
Enthusiasm, therefore, is another name for the kind of madness which is described in the Scriptures, and which is commented upon with approval in many pagan writings. There are not many mad men now, if spirituality is the test or standard of madness. It is not the professing Christian that is mad. He may be too sagacious; he may be too shrewd; he may be but a calculator. Such a man cannot pray, such a man will always wonder that anybody else can pray; only the mad heart prays. We must accept this reproach. Any sagacity that is not often caught in this madness is only sharpsighted, longheaded, shrewd; it may touch the borders of pious gambling, but it never enters into the passion of absolute self-forgetfulness; it never commits that suicide which makes the world of propriety shudder and stand aghast. There are pious people who can count their virtues as they count a row of beads; they know their good deeds one by one; they keep them in caskets, they brush them up a little now and then; they cannot be deceived as to their number. Such people are not pious. They do more harm in the world than all the infidels in creation can do. Infidels never did any harm. Shrewd professors never did any good. Men of mechanical piety never helped the cause of the Son of God. We should have more progress if we had more madness; we should make a great impression if we had more enthusiasm. The enthusiasm must be content with a poor lot for the time being. Nobody likes to house enthusiasm; it is like housing a conflagration. People are very careful how they entertain mad evangelists; they would rather they found a night's lodging in the ditch. As Wesley once said to one of his preachers when they had nothing but haws to eat, "It is a fine place for an appetite." There would be many now who would house John Wesley, because he has been dead long enough to become almost respectable; but when he was alive he was too much for those people who had to give an account of themselves to their miserable and contemptible neighbours. There are those who would have certain things done in their own houses, but they are afraid that the neighbours might not like it. There have been people in a northern country long ago who would not object to hear a little Psalm upon a piano on a Sunday; but what would the people next door think of it? The people next door would be delighted to have the same thing themselves, only they are wondering what the people next door to them would think. Thus the world staggers where it should stand erect; hesitates and founders where it should go right on.
The spiritual man is necessarily mad in the estimation of the worldly man. The worldly man lives in a very plain way. The multiplication table is all the arithmetic he wants; bread and lodging constitute his programme to a very large extent, especially if that programme be intersprinkled here and there with a little amusement of a foaming and transient and inexpensive kind. The spiritual man has no line of the programme; he actually prefers the invisible to the seen, the impalpable to the tangible; he is a fool. He says, The real things are not seen; what we see is not worth looking at, except it be taken in some symbolical and typical way. A great star-filled sky is nothing to him if there be not a heaven beyond it; he would not loiter in any star he has ever seen; he would say in the biggest of them, I can tarry but a night. Where would you be? Onward! Where? I cannot tell in words, but I feel that there is a country out of sight which alone can satisfy me. Thus man predicates his own immortality, and even if he cannot put his doctrine into words which he can defend with other words, yet when you have overturned his terms you have left his feeling intact, unharmed. Immortality cannot be argued down. You will disprove immortality when you have extinguished humanity.
The spiritual man is mad because he says that mind is greater than what we know by the name of matter. The old Hebrew thinkers were greatly impressed by bulk and radiance; they used to cover their eyes when the sun was at noontide, lest they should be blinded. The apostles cared nothing for sun and stars; one of them in some sense the roughest, rudest of them said, looking upon the whole panorama of the visible heavens, They shall pass away with a great noise; they are of less account than a blasted fig. But make Peter a greater poet than David, for David was amazed at the stars; when he put his shepherd's crook in the belt of Orion he felt he was standing beside a radiant altar. Peter waved them all back and said, Their end is noise; there is a heat that can melt the hardest of them, and cause them to flow away like a river that is afraid. Thus the spiritual man approaches the miracles from the right point of view; they are not miracles to him, they were not miracles to Jesus Christ, they were commonplaces to the Son of God. This we cannot understand, because we have a local mind, we have our own temperature, and climate, and barometer, and measuring instruments, and it never enters into the mind of man that there is some other place in the world. The beautiful cared-for plants of Kew are the weeds of the Sandwich Islands.
The weeds of one country are carefully taken note of and cultivated, and men are charged so much per head to look at them.
It is even so in the great spiritual realm. To some men the miracles are absolutely staggering; to other men they are but as the weeds of the Omnipotence of God. If we could see them from the right altitude they would be as nothing to us compared with the moral qualities and the spiritual purposes, the holy, all-redeeming impulses, that throb in the Eternal Heart and constitute the Fatherhood of the universe. Cold reason can do nothing. You have to melt the metal before you can mould it; it is the melting process that has been forgotten by many a tyro in religious enquiry or theological investigation. Suppose the smith should take his metal and his hammer, and should proceed with his work, and should be disappointed in it; what has he forgotten? The fire, the bellows, the roaring fire, the white flame; apply that, then take out the metal, and you may twist it as you will, shape it according to your own desire. You will find it to be so in theological thinking and spiritual investigation. If you think you are going to determine the relative values of things in what you call cold blood, you will never do it. You must have atmosphere, enthusiasm, appropriate elevation of mind; you must have, in the highest sense of the term, madness. In that ecstasy you may begin to see the outline of the kingdom to which all other rulerships, wherein they are true, point, as at once to their origin and their culmination. Men are impressed by what is near. That is a sophism which hinders much Christian progress. You cannot persuade some men that a thought is more valuable than a sovereign. The sovereign is in the hand, and the thought is in the heart. Who would care to pay anything for an idea? And is there a man that thinks he has not discharged his conscience when he has passed an opinion upon that which is offered for his soul's sustenance? A thought is the true wealth: high sentiments are the enduring property; confidence in God is the inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away. The time will come when you cannot change your sovereign; it will not be recognised as legitimate currency; offered to angels, it would be returned with that dumb look which indicates a wise and contemptuous ignorance.
Why will not men be wise in the enduring things, wealthy in the abiding treasure? Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. When a man talks so he is mad. George Fox was mad. The Quakers now are too wise. There is not a mad Quaker on all the globe; consequently the Quakers are dying out. When George Fox, like John Wesley, was alive he could not hold his tongue; when he saw wrong he cried out; what wonder that he was accounted mad? If now you see some relic of that brave, self-sacrificing enthusiast why, it is in the form of the loveliest the very loveliest silk bonnet that would excite admiration everywhere by its quaintness. The world will never mistake that for madness; the world will allow that bonnet to come in and go out as it likes. It is the mad soul the devil cannot do with, and he will not have it if he can burn it out. Young men, we want mad men in the true sense; that is to say, in the sense of enthusiasm, intelligence, in the sense of wisdom on fire, in the sense of conviction that will neither be bribed nor deterred.
The religious or spiritual man is mad because he trusts to a spirit. He says, "God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." The spiritual man trusts a spirit; he never saw him; he knoweth not the shape of a spirit; he cannot tell his coming or his going, he cannot calculate the orbit of his influence, the measure or the quality of his action; he may be resembled to the wind which bloweth where it listeth, but to other image or type he cannot liken him. The spiritual man prays, apparently, to nothing; the worldly man looks at the closed eyes of the spiritual man, and wonders what he can see through his eyelids. The carnal man listens to the pleading, the supplication, the confession, and the thanksgiving of the spiritual man, and wonders to whom he is speaking. The carnal man cannot understand the things that are spiritual, for they are spiritually discerned; that is to say, they come within the cognition of a spiritual faculty, a spiritual sense, a distinct specific creation of the Spirit of God within the temple of the human soul. The natural man knoweth not the things that be of God. Yet the spiritual man cannot help praying, cannot help trusting in Providence; because he sees in history an elaboration and proof of his best theology. The spiritual man has facts to rest upon; to him history is the Bible rewritten, not the history of one day or of one people, but the history of many days all taken together, and the history of all peoples; these must be brought under purview if we are to see the shaping of the divine Spirit, the uprising of a mystic temple, more beautiful than light, more delicate than the coloured cloud which veils the sun.
The spiritual man, therefore, is not to be laughed out of his spiritual ecstasy. He has great staying power; he rests in the Lord. He knoweth not when his Lord will come with the necessary revelation; he says, It may be at any moment at cockcrow, at the dawning of the day, in the noontide, in the festival of eventide, but come he will, and make all things clear. Such a man is not to be tolerated in worldly society. Such a man is hated in every city.
The exchange does not want your spirituality; to the man of money, the mere money-changer, you are a fanatic, a fool, and a nuisance. The worldly heart cannot endure the Christian spirit. That spirit spoils the feast, brings a cloud over the foolish merriment, and hinders the jocund play of those feelings which rise and fall like the bubbles of a moment. If Christian people are popular it is in the degree of their being unfaithful to their Christianity. No son of man can be popular, in the sense of being welcomed into all companies alike, and being felt to fit into every occasion as if he had been made for it. The righteousness that can be silent in the presence of evil is unrighteous righteousness. The soul that can pass by the indifference, the neglect, the cruelty, which mark the history of every day, may say its prayers, but it never prays. If the Church were faithful to her spirituality the Church would be persecuted to-day as at previous periods of history. Do not believe that the devil is converted; never delude yourselves into the belief of the sophism that evil has changed its nature. If you are a good man you are welcomed in few places. On the other hand, we must be careful lest men should reason that because they are unpopular, therefore they are religious. The reasoning might be sound, or it might be unsound. Here we must have no delusion. If a man has mistaken the nature of the kingdom of heaven; if he has turned the law into a piece of moral pedantry; if he betakes himself to the superficial ministry of addressing prescriptive moralities and preceptive moralities to the people as if he had no need of his own exhortations, then he ought to be unpopular, and he ought to be put down. We are not speaking of that kind of religion, but of the pure, spiritual, trustful, faith-inspired, and faith-directed religion, that will never be popular, and will never have an easy life in this world.
The spiritual man has determined not to eat any bread that is not honestly earned. He brings his piety down to the table. He will not wear clothes that he has stolen; he will not enrich himself with the spoils of other people. The spiritual man says, I will die honestly if I cannot live honestly; if there is no room for me in the world, I will go out of it by the door of starvation, rather than spoil and steal, and oppress and call myself a lucky fellow because I have plundered some other man without the man knowing it. So we are called to no formality; we are called to spirituality; not to a monastic renunciation of the world, which is a piece of egregious impertinence; we are called to the right use of the world, to handle it well, to keep it at arm's length when we would have it thus, to use it without abusing it. In that spirit the more the good man has the more we should rejoice; it is like putting money into the hands of honesty and liberality and the spirit of beneficence; in that sense we pray for the worldly prosperity of good men, if it be for their good that they should be appointed to high trusteeships. We must bear the reproach of spirituality; we must be content with the certificate as to the reality of our spiritual madness.
What can be done to develop the real character and quality of true religion? There must come a revolution presently; things cannot be continued much longer at their present level and in their present tone. The pulpit has to be revolutionised; the Church has to be shocked out of its old ways, and has to reconsider all its positions, and has to study the age in which it lives. If the Church will not study the age in which it lives, the age will leave the Church. The Church in its organised capacity has always been the dullest learner, the most stupid scholar in the school of history. It is always the clerical mind that comes in last, and says, What a fool I have been not to read the signs of the times, and not to anticipate the action of stronger and wider minds. The clerical mind is not in a hopeless condition; it always comes in late at night, it always comes in by the back door; but it always does come back. Naturally it is a narrow mind, a little mind, a prejudiced mind, a cage full of birds of prejudice; but on the whole it generally recognises in the long run its own folly, and asks to be admitted into some department of the court of civilisation. This ought not to be so. The spiritual man should be the keenest-sighted man; the spiritual man should be the most scientific of all men. He may not be able to write in scientific nomenclature; he may know nothing about the phenomena of science, but he can have a spirit of sympathy with all knowledge, and he can be the first to say, Let the light come from all quarters; if anything stands in the way of the light, down with it; it is light we want, it is light we live on. If the Church would say that the Church would take its right place, and spirituality would be seen to be the madness of wisdom, and not the madness of obstinacy.
The spiritual man sees the invisible, and recognises the fact that everywhere there is a Power that is working and cannot be hindered, an infinite action going on; shaping, combing, colouring, re-combing, and inter-relating things, and the issue is a temple, beautiful in proportion, grand in massiveness, apocalyptic in colour, hospitable in welcoming all human hearts. Do not live in a little narrow world. Suppose a man should be shut up inside an organ without having seen the instrument itself beyond that point, and he is a man who will keep a little note-book, and write down in that note-book what he calls "phenomena"; that is, he will put down exactly what he sees. The organ is being played, and he thinks it is playing itself. He writes down, "Marvellous action. As to this action I am an agnostic; how this comes I don't know; I will put that down in my note-book Grand action in the organ, but nothing seen that I can understand, and it is very wonderful." That is down, and that is a "phenomenon." There go fifteen hammers all moved at once. "Marvellous thing!" Put that down Fifteen hammers moved, and saw nobody move them. That is another "phenomenon." What, fifteen different voices loud, groaning, bass, light, tremulous, a touch, more a thought than a thing. Put that down "Saw marvellous phenomenon fifteen voices and couldn't see who's doing it." On this matter of whom I am an agnostic. What do I say? I say, Come out of that, you fool! come out, and look at this man on the stool. Why don't you come out? You may be in the organ writing phenomena all the days of eternity. If you would come out into the right light, and put yourself at the right point of view, you would see that many a mystery is no mystery from the right standpoint, and you would see that all the music is not that work of chance, but a measured, ordered, well-handled reality, responding to a human touch, repronouncing human music, trying by many a strenuous effort, and not wholly without success, to reproduce that highest, sublimest, divinest music, the music of the human voice.
Thus I would say to all young people, Enlarge the sphere of your observation. Do not shut yourselves up in endless darkness, and suppose therefore there is no light; wherever there is light follow it. All light is from the sun. The little candle put in the window in the cottage on the mountain side to guide the shepherd home is that a creation of man? So far; but man never put that light on the wick; that is a drop from the fountain of the sun. So every good effort and every good thing, every holy desire, every noble impulse, we trace not to human ingenuity, but to God the Holy Ghost
Thou Giver of all good, we have nothing that we have not received: our bread is thine, our home is of thine own building, our life thou dost watch with the eyes of love; thou dost prevent our hunger, and ere yet we have felt the pain of thirst thou hast provided the river which is full of water. We are the witnesses of thy goodness; we proclaim the loving kindness of the Lord, for we have seen it with our own eyes. There is a cloud by day; there is a pillar of fire by night; there is a voice behind us telling us the right way; there are arms round about us whose strength is infinite. We will rejoice and be glad, and magnify the Lord in many psalms, and will charge our souls not to be disquieted within us, but to hope confidently in God, for they shall yet praise him for the help of his hand and the light of his smile. Thou knowest how easily men are discouraged and driven back into darkness and fear: take not thy Holy Spirit from us; Spirit of promise and light and liberty and peace. Holy Spirit, dwell with us. We ask the gift of the Holy Ghost because he is to take of the things of Christ, and show them unto us, and we are never wearied of gazing upon the beauties of the Saviour. His wounds are his honours, his suffering is the beginning of his victory, and because he died for us he lives for us; yea, he ever liveth to make intercession for us. We would be more deeply taught in all the mystery of Christ's life and purpose; therefore we pray for the gift of God the Holy Ghost, that he may abide with us, rule in us, cause the light of heaven's morning to shine upon our life, and whisper to the heart in its moments of weakness and dejection. Lord, evermore give us the bread of life; Father in heaven, lead us to the river of God which is full of water; draw us with the cords of a man; cast the yoke gently over our necks, that we may receive it as thy gift and no burden of oppression. Guide us with thine eye; heal us with thy love; let thy tears fall upon us like refreshing dew; may we always know that the Lord is round about us to do us good, if so be our hearts are clinging to the Cross of Christ, and hope in that alone for present pardon and eternal sonship and progress. Amen.
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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Hosea 9". Parker's The People's Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13