corner graphic   Hi,    
ver. 2.0.19.10.21
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
Isaiah 56

 

 

Verse 1-2

THE PRESCRIBED METHOD OF WAITING FOR GOD'S SALVATION

Isa . Thus saith the Lord, keep ye judgment, &c.

["The doctrine of the passage is simply this, that they who enjoy extraordinary privileges, or expect extraordinary favours, are under corresponding obligations to do the will of God; and, moreover, that the nearer the manifestation of God's mercy, whether in time or in eternity, the louder the call to righteousness of life."—Alexander.]

But a special and useful application of the passage may be made, viz., to answer the question, "How shall we account for the fact that, of those who cease to neglect religion, and take some pains to acquaint themselves with God and to be at peace with Him, many are very slow in attaining to any establishment of mind, and continue long at a distance from the peace they seek?"

Let seekers after this Divine peace observe—

I. WHAT EVERY HEARER OF THE GOSPEL OUGHT IMMEDIATELY TO DO. The teaching of our text on this point is most simple and most important.

1. Every hearer of the Gospel who would enjoy the peace which it offers must immediately abstain from all known sin. He must not think that using the language of humiliation, and calling himself a miserable sinner, will be of any benefit to him while the sin which he confesses is not forsaken. Many go on for years complaining of their sins, yet never come to the point of separation from them, and for this very reason remain strangers to true peace (H. E. I, 4269-4273).

2. He must also immediately set himself to do all the good he can. "Keep ye judgment, and do justice." In all his dealings with his fellow-men; he must strictly follow the golden rule (Mat ).

3. He must be diligent in the use of the means of grace, particularly in his observance of the Sabbath Day. Many who have been awakened to some concern for their souls, and for a time promised fair to attain the blessing of peace with God, have lost it by their inconstancy to Sabbath duties. Thus they have grieved the Spirit of God, and cut themselves off from the enjoyment of His peace.

All this is absolutely necessary, yet it is but preparatory to receiving the Gospel; it is preparing the way of the Lord. It is not a goodness in which any man should rest, satisfied with his attainments. Suppose all this done, is he to think that he is now a good man, and must be in the favour of God? The man who imagines this goes about to establish his own righteousness, and has no regard to the salvation of God and the righteousness of God. He becomes his own saviour, frustrates the grace of God, and makes Christ to have died in vain. The motive on account of which any action is done determines its value (P. D. 2511). It does so here. The self-righteous Pharisee abstains from outward evil, does many good works, offers many prayers, performs many religious acts; the man who obeys the Gospel does the same—but the Pharisee does these things that he may be saved without Christ; the obedient disciple does them in his way to Christ. The Pharisee does them, and though he may make use of the name of Christ, looks to them for his acceptance with God; the penitent does them, but does not look to them at all—as a penitent he looks for the salvation of God, that it may come unto him; and for the righteousness of God, that it may be revealed in his heart. And it shall be.

II. THE BLESSEDNESS OF ATTENDING TO THE CHARGE OF THE TEXT.

He may not be sensible of his own blessedness. There are many things which may cause him not to be so. The real improvement which has taken place in his character is far from being likely to improve him in his own good opinion. As he approaches nearer to the performance of the precepts of the law, he discerns more its vast extent and spirituality, and how far he is from conformity to it; he so feels the evils of his heart that he is sometimes tempted to fear that the salvation of God cannot be extended to him. Thus he seems not to be blessed; but he is blessed. Our text declares him so, and the Scripture cannot be broken. Yea, our Saviour has pronounced him blessed (Mat ).

Nothing can be more clear than that the man who, when he hears of God's salvation, turns from iniquity and does good, while he waits and looks for that salvation, is in the way to obtain it. He will obtain it assuredly; it may be, speedily; but it is a gift, and He who gives it keeps the time and the manner of it in His own hands. But when there is a due preparation for receiving it on man's part, there will be no long delay in conferring it on God's (Ch. Isa ). If the Lord hides Himself, and continues long absent from the seeking soul, it is probably because there is something in the state of the man's mind, and in the course of his conduct, which makes him not a fit recipient of the Divine favour (H. E. I., 2338).

In receiving this salvation, the believer looks to nothing but the grace and gift of God.

CONCLUSION.—

1. Cautions for those who are seeking the salvation of God.

(1.) Do not neglect the direction of the text. You know that salvation is of grace; that it is received simply by faith; that it does not depend on a man's worthiness; and that therefore to delay going to Christ till he has made himself more fit and worthy, is vain and self-righteous. All this is true. But if your knowledge of it leads you to omit one act of known duty, or to commit one sin, you show that you know nothing as you ought to know. It is true that you are not exhorted to stay from believing in Christ till you have made yourself better; you are invited to come as you are; but, in making your way to Christ and to His peace, be the time longer or shorter, you are bound, from the first moment you enter upon it, to keep your hand from doing any evil, and also to do good. You are to wait upon God in the way of His commandments.

(2.) Do not abuse the direction of the text. You cannot attend to it too diligently, too exactly. But you may put it in a wrong place. You may be trying to obtain peace to your conscience by your honesty, &c. This would be to pervert the precept of our text to a use exactly contrary to its intention. You would not be waiting and looking for God's righteousness at all; you would be going about to establish your own (Rom ).

2. A word of admonition to established Christians. As the first communication of peace to the new convert is given according to his conscientious diligence in waiting for it in the way of obedience; so your comforts will be very much proportioned to your watchfulness, humility, and fruitfulness in good works. You complain, perhaps, that it is not with you as in former days; that you have not the comfort which you once enjoyed. But may there not be a cause? Have you not declined from that seriousness of spirit and holy walking with God, in which you began your religious course? Return to Christ in duty, and He will return to you in kindness (Joh ; H. E. I., 350).—John Fawcett, A.M.: Familiar Discourses, pp. 20-38.

I. Gospel privilege. Salvation in Christ. Near at hand. Revealed to faith. Secured in the righteousness of God. II. Gospel law. Moral duties—"judgment;" "justice." Religious duties—keeping the Sabbath; renunciation of all sin, &c. III. Gospel happiness. "Blessed," &c. Divine approbation. Inward peace. Confident hope of a better life.—Dr. Lyth.

THE SABBATH

The Lord had just spoken in general terms (Isa ), and now He speaks more particularly. When God instituted the Sabbath He pronounced a particular blessing upon it (Gen 2:3). In the text, and elsewhere, man's happiness is connected with its due observance. What God hath joined together let no man attempt to put asunder. Whatever "pollutes" the holy character of the day destroys the blessing that God designed to attach to it.

I. THE OBLIGATION OF THE SABBATH.

Many act as if they did not believe the ordinance of the Sabbath to be binding. The various theories which denude the Sabbath of its high authority as a positive and permanent institution of the living God. "If the day be not ‘sanctified' by God Himself, it is vain to talk of ‘the everlasting necessities of human nature,' or of ‘civil and ecclesiastical authority,' or of ‘beneficial purposes'; it will soon cease to exert any influence on the hearts and consciences of men, and will be hailed merely as a day of recreation and amusement." By what arguments, then, do we prove that the Sabbath is of universal and perpetual obligation? By the fact that it was—

1. Instituted at the Creation (Gen ).

2. Established by an express command. Incorporated with the moral law (Exo ). That law is our law, as well as the law of the Jews (Mat 5:17-18; Rom 3:31); and is universally binding, because unrepealed.

3. By the obvious universality of the design for which it was instituted. It was given as—

(1.) A memorial of creation, and it is as much the duty of Christians to retain a devout remembrance of the power, &c., of the great Creator as it was of the Jewish Church.

(2.) A season of rest needed as much as ever.

(3.) A day of blessing and sanctity, and from no people would God withhold so great a boon, &c.

4. Confirmed by the teaching and practice of our Lord and His Apostles. It has been observed by the Church of Christ in general. Put together these circumstances, and can you doubt that the observance of the Sabbath is a religious obligation?

II. THE POLLUTION OF THE SABBATH. The Sabbath is polluted—

1. When it is spent in mere idleness. Action in everything holy and heavenly should mark its consecrated hours.

2. When it is devoted to worldly amusement.

3. By all labour which may not fairly come under the description of works of necessity and mercy.

III. THE PROPER MODE OF ITS OBSERVANCE.

1. Everything that would hinder its spiritual observance must be laid aside. All secular business and toil. Except the works of necessity and mercy, there should be one unbroken and universal repose (Exo ; Deu 5:14, &c). Frivolities and amusements; conversation upon subjects that are unconnected with and opposed to spirituality of thought; unnecessary journeying, visiting, strolling, luxury, &c. (Isa 58:13, and others).

2. Whatever would promote the highest interests of our being must be observed. Public worship; relative and private duties of religion, &c.

IV. THE ADVANTAGES OF KEEPING THE SABBATH.

1. Temporal. It is the more needful to dwell on these because some persuade themselves that worldly gain is promoted by secularising the Lord's Day.

(1.) The toils of life are for awhile suspended. The constitution of our nature requires a weekly respite from toil and solicitude, &c.

(2.) The mind and body are invigorated by fresh exertion. Not so by Sunday excursions, &c.

(3.) The reward of prosperity is evidently attached to it. The converse of this is no less painfully common and true; Sabbath-breaking is the starting-point of that course which leads on to crime, disgrace, and ruin.

2. Spiritual.

(1.) Finished redemption is then celebrated. How glad and glorious are the tidings to those that are conscious of their guilt!

(2.) The means of grace are enjoyed. They are merciful appointments of "the God of all grace." The Sabbath provides and guards these means, which act as a counterpoise to the excessive activity and competition which distinguish our country and our times. St. John was "in the Spirit on the Lord's day," and God's people are amply replenished with that Spirit's grace on this day of blessing.

(3.) The heavenly rest is anticipated. We are but sojourners on earth, &c. The earthly Sabbath affords the best picture and foretaste of the heavenly!

CONCLUSION.—Are you among the "blessed" ones who keep the Sabbath from polluting it? Then make every exertion to prevent its violation, &c. Or, do you find the Sabbath a weariness? Then your heart is not right, or it would be a delight, and therefore you are wholly unfit for the eternal Sabbath of Heaven. "Ye must be born again."—A. Tucker.

I. The principles of true religion—practical, experimental, holy. II. The blessedness of it. Divine approbation; inward peace; blessing; confident hope of a better life.—Dr. Lyth.


Verses 3-6

JOINED TO THE LORD

Isa ; Isa 56:6. The sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord.

The end of all worship is union with God. To this most glorious issue all the revelations of Scripture converge. It is the end of all teaching, and the seal of all perfection. Our Lord's prayer for His people makes this the goal of Christian aspiration (Joh ). But union with God is, like all other relations to the Supreme, attained only in and through the Mediator (Joh 17:3). It is the realisation of the one object of the redeeming economy. It has undoubtedly been the watchword of some of the sublimest systems of ethics based on erroneous doctrine. Buddhism and Pantheistic mysticism are instances.

Let us endeavour to realise the import and the power of this remarkable expression, "joined to the Lord," which is the exponent and formula of vital truths and glorious privileges (1Co ).

I. The nature of this alliance. What does it imply?—

1. The conviction of moral estrangement. Instead of that intimate union which man originally enjoyed, there is a wide and extended breach, &c. The manifold and painful evidences—alienation from God both in affection and action, &c. (Rom , and others). Such is our deplorable state previous to the period when we join ourselves to the Lord.

2. The full approval of God's service. We never devote ourselves to those whose service we have a decided objection to; on the contrary we carefully avoid it. But naturally we are opposed to God's righteous rule and service, hence the necessity of regeneration, that we may be inspired with a love of holiness, &c. External reformation will not suffice, for the heart will retain its original aversion to the Divine government and service. Only by regeneration does our judgment approve, and our will consent to the Lord's service as pre-eminently righteous, &c. Then only do we "choose the things that please Him" (Isa ).

3. The surrender of ourselves to His service (Isa ). Simple approval and desire, though necessary, are not sufficient, they never cemented firm, durable alliance. There must be the actual yielding of ourselves to God in harmony with His gracious demands. This surrender must be unreserved, voluntary, constant. Prompted by obvious and powerful reasons. It is both right and reasonable, pleasant and profitable, &c. (1Ti 4:8, and others).

4. Spiritual union and oneness with Him. Not a mere figure of speech, but the greatest reality in human experience. New Testament illustrations. Even these figures can only faintly set it forth. The union is most intimate. One Spirit lives and moves, actuates and guides, both in the Head and members (1Co ; Heb 2:11). We become one with God in thought and feeling and will. Are you "joined to the Lord "? For it is more than mere nominal Christianity, or profession of religion—it is spiritual and gracious. You may be joined to His Church and people, and yet not savingly joined to Him. Examine yourselves, and rest not until you have satisfactory evidence. But what are—II. The evidences of this alliance. We may know (Joh 14:20; 1Jn 5:20). The principal evidences are—

1. Trust in Christ alone for salvation. Faith is a self-conscious act, &c.

2. Deliverance from condemnation (Rom ). From whence can condemnation come? (Rom 8:34).

3. Moral Regeneration (2Co ; Gal 6:15). The new nature asserts its power, and refuses to be the slave of Satan, &c. Renewing grace creates a new world in the soul. We become conformed to Christ.

4. The inward testimony of the Holy Ghost (1Jn ; 1Jn 4:13).

5. Fruitfulness in good works. This is the design and tendency of this alliance (Joh ; Joh 15:8; Eph 2:10). Not the fair leaves of profession, but the fragrant and substantial fruits of righteousness (Php 1:11)—keeping "judgment," doing "justice," &c. (Isa 56:1; Isa 56:6; 1Jn 2:3; 1Jn 2:5; 1Jn 3:24).

III. The privileges of this alliance. If we are joined to the Lord we have—

1. Admittance to the fellowship and blessing of His Church (Isa ; Isa 56:7). Regarded as His true worshippers. Prayers and praises—"spiritual sacrifices," accepted. The highest possible honours conferred—Divine favour and friendship, &c. (2Co 5:21, and others). These honours impart true happiness, and are more valuable than any earthly advantage, because eternal and unchangeable (Isa 56:5).

2. His life (Gal ; Col 3:4). Our spiritual life flows from Him. We dwell in Him and He in us. Our life from first to last is life in Christ.

3. His position (Eph ).

4. His power, wisdom, &c. We have an interest in all that He is, and has (Php , and others).

5. His sympathy. Human, at best, is deficient. Sympathy between the head and members of the body. True of Christ (1Co ; Eph 5:30; Act 9:4).

6. Answers to prayer (Joh ; Joh 15:7; Joh 16:23; 1Jn 3:22).

7. Confidence at His coming (1Jn ; Col 1:24). Then we shall participate in His glory! What wealth of privilege is ours. Language cannot express such glory as this. Who could have conceived that such blessedness could have been ours? Are we realising these privileges? Are we taking God at His word respecting them, &c.? If our privileges are great, great too are our responsibilities. Walk worthy of this relation, &c. CONCLUSION.—

1. This alliance is effected by cordially receiving God's "salvation" as now "come," and unhesitatingly accepting His "righteousness" as now "revealed" in Christ (Isa ). There need be no doubt or hesitation in appropriating them as your own (2Co 6:2; Rom 3:22; Rom 2:28-29; Gal 3:28-29; Php 3:3). "Yield yourselves unto God" through Christ, and the alliance is formed; so simple, and yet so real is the transaction. Then you may testify with humble but assured confidence (Sol. Son 2:16).

2. This alliance is maintained by faith (Gal ; Eph 3:17; Col 2:6-7).—A. Tucker.


Verses 4-7

CHARACTERISTICS AND PRIVILEGES OF GOD'S PEOPLE

Isa . For thus saith the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep My Sabbaths, &c.

The pride of ancestry, and boast of ceremonial exclusiveness, and glorying in the flesh, the Lord, by His prophet, looking forward to gospel days, now abolishes, and marks out the true distinctions of His people to be that which is moral and spiritual, to the exclusion of all bodily defects or national peculiarities. Observe—

I. THE MARKS AND DISTINCTIONS OF GOD'S PEOPLE.

1. Keeping the Sabbath. The day emphatically is the Lord's, reminding us at once of creation and of redemption (Eph ; Deu 5:15). One day in seven is, therefore, justly dedicated to God as an acknowledgment that He is at once Creator and Redeemer. Resides, the Sabbath-day is subservient to the highest interests of man as a moral and immortal being, &c.

2. Choosing the things that please Him. The things that please God are the things that are agreeable to His revealed will (Mic ). And to follow out this requirement we must "choose," we must exercise an act of the will, and the gracious promise is (Psa 110:3); and, once thus made willing, having our hearts enlarged, we run in the way of God's commandments (Psa 119:32; Rom 7:2; Joh 4:34). Implies the obeying of God's will, and submission to it; active, willing obedience, and patient endurance under the events of providence, "as seeing Him who is invisible." This gracious disposition diffuses a noble bearing and dignity over all the conduct and trials of the believer (Psa 29:2; Jer 9:24).

3. Taking hold of His covenant. The covenant here spoken of has, no doubt, an allusion to the covenant that God made with the Jews, when He brought them out of the land of Egypt, and in that sense embodies the doctrines and precepts of the revealed will of God, along with the promises of God on the one hand, and the obligations of those who become parties to the covenant on the other hand; but in the full sense of the words, in their prophetic announcement, the reference undoubtedly is to that covenant of grace, that is now made known to all (Jer ). To "take hold," therefore, "of the covenant," is to apprehend its truths, and conform to its requirements; or, to "hold it fast" is to maintain those truths, and exhibit an obedience to those requirements in a consistent life of persevering holiness. Neither profession, outward distinction, or legal ceremony is enough; there must be reality, inward spirituality, and "holiness unto the Lord" (Eze 30:26; Jer 50:4-5; Psa 103:17-18).

4. Being joined to Him to serve Him, or minister to Him (Exo ; Exo 35:19; 1Ch 16:37; Rev 1:6; Jer 1:5; Isa 44:5; 1Co 6:17; Joh 15:14). The very essence of this "joining," this adherence or union, is spiritual and gracious. (See outline, "Joined to the Lord," p. 596.)

5. Loving His name. "The name of the Lord" is a very comprehensive expression; it includes everything by which God makes Himself known,—His attributes, character, creation, providence, word, ordinances (Exo ; Psa 34:3; Psa 5:11). It is to have the enmity of the carnal mind slain, &c. (Rom 8:7; Eph 2:16; Isa 57:19; Gal 5:6; Gal 6:15; 1Co 7:19).

6. Serving Him. "To be His servants." An active, willing obedience must inevitably follow. The language here again is similar to that which was applied to the Levites, in reference to their duties in the tabernacle and the temple (Num ; Num 18:6; Num 8:11; Lev 25:55; Psa 72:11; Psa 2:11; Tit 2:11-12).

II. THE GRACIOUS AND GLORIOUS PRIVILEGES OF GOD'S PEOPLE.

1. Incorporation with His Church—admittance to the fellowship and privileges of His people. The tabernacle was placed on Mount Zion, the temple was built on Mount Moriah; the expression "My holy mountain" is, therefore, by a figure of speech, applied to the spiritual Church of the true God (Isa ). The language is figurative, taken from the circumstances and customs in the midst of which the prophet and his fellow-countrymen were then placed; but such in its sum and substance is the meaning of this prophecy. The characters described were excluded of the law (Deu 33:1-3).But now, looking forward to a nobler and more advanced economy, even that under which we live, those very persons are not only admitted into "the Lord's house," and "within the very walls" of His temple; but they are promised "a place and a name there;"—the very "place" where the priests used to worship (Zec 3:7; Eze 21:19); the very "name" that the priests were wont to bear are made theirs (Rev 1:6; Joh 1:12). That "place" and that "name" are better than those of sons and of daughters. The true Christian is possessed of a title and a pedigree before which the most ancient ancestry of earth declines into insignificance (Joh 1:12-13; Gal 4:6; Rom 8:16-17; 1Pe 1:23-25). These privileges and honours are everlasting. There is on the part of some an ardent love of fame—the strong desire of worldly immortality. God's people may, through grace, obtain the highest honours and happiness beyond the grave, "The good alone are great." The "name," in the Hebrew language, is used to denote the character and condition of a person: "As his name is, so is he" (1Sa 25:25). The honour and happiness of God's people, as to the body and as to the soul, in time and throughout eternity, shall be fixed and permanent. He gives them some prelude of this by granting them honour and happiness here on earth (Joh 14:27; Rev 2:17). And most largely on the separation of the soul from the body (Php 1:21-23; 1Co 2:9; 2Ti 4:7-8; Rev 3:21); and on the body being raised up incorruptible from the grave (1Co 15:42-44; Php 3:20-21; 2Co 3:18); and still grander when the ransomed soul and glorified body shall have been united together, to live for ever in heaven. This is the native sequel of a holy life, of one who has kept the Lord's Sabbaths, &c. (Isa 56:4). But the blessing is a reward through grace, "I will give them," &c. There shall be different degrees of glory among the saints in heaven; but each inhabitant, according to his capacity, will be perfectly happy (1Co 15:41-42; Dan 12:3; 1Jn 3:3).

2. Joy in the sanctuary (Isa ). Great was the joy of the Jew when he went up to "Zion, the city of solemnities" (Isa 33:20), and was introduced to the pure worship and high festivals of the God of his fathers (Psa 122:1-2; Psa 122:6; Psa 42:1-2). And if such was the experience of a pious Hebrew in connection with the ordinances of "a worldly sanctuary," what must the enjoyment of a Gentile believer be under "the ministration of the Spirit," in the midst of "a glory that excelleth" (2Co 3:8; 2Co 3:10). Consider the happiness and joy of God's people, amidst the ordinances and privileges, and gracious manifestations, that are realised in the sanctuary. The communion of saints mellows the soul, and draws forth the hidden graces of the Spirit.

3. Acceptance of their spiritual worship (Isa ). There can be no doubt that under those names we have things spiritual and eternal shadowed forth. The splendid ceremonial of the law tells of the spirituality of the Gospel. The priesthood has become common to all believers, even whilst the office of "pastors and teachers" remains intact (Eph 4:11). Prayers and thanksgivings, &c., are in the place of "burnt-offerings" and "sacrifices" (Psa 4:5; Psa 51:15-19; Hos 14:2; Mal 1:11; Heb 13:15-16; 1Pe 2:5; Rev 8:3). "For mine house shall be an house of prayer for all nations"—a place of spiritual worship, where His name is honoured and invoked, and in which the confessions, and petitions, and thanksgivings of His suppliants are presented to Him (Exo 20:24; Joh 4:21-24; Isa 2:2-4).—John Gemmel, M.A.: The Gospel in Isaiah, pp. 177-228.

I. The nature of Gospel privilege. A place in God's house. A name among His children. A share in His covenant.

II. The extent of Gospel privilege. It reaches all, without distinction or limitation.

III. The conditions of Gospel privilege. That we join ourselves to the Lord; keep His Sabbaths; choose the things that please Him; and take hold of His covenant, &c.—Dr. Lyth.

THE UNIVERSAL INCLUSIVENESS OF THE CHRISTIAN DISPENSATION

Isa . Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, &c.

This passage relates to the Gospel period. The prophet has described the suffering and glory of Christ; the security of the Gospel Church; the salvation provided; the invitation to its free enjoyment; its wide success. The present chapter is a still more explicit exposition of its universal aspect. All peoples would be equally admitted to the privileges and advantages of the Gospel. This is the main idea of the text. The language and imagery are Jewish; the conception is Christian. The text sets forth the universal inclusiveness of the Christian dispensation—

I. IN RELATION TO RELIGIOUS CHARACTER.

It is not said that the privileges of the Gospel will be conferred on all mankind without regard to character. The death of Christ has provided the salvation. But the proclamation of mercy it authorises is not the statement of the actual pardon of all mankind. It is a proclamation of the King's readiness to pardon; an invitation to partake of a feast on compliance with the conditions of the invitation. Man is to take hold of God's covenant and join himself to the Lord. Turning from sin and believing in the Saviour, he is to accept the salvation. All marks of this are not indicated here; but there are—

1. Love to the Divine person. The Gospel is a religion of love. In Christ the Divine character is presented in such lights as win the believer's love. Nor is it merely love to abstract principles, doctrines, truths. It includes this; but while comprehending this, it takes the personal form. He loves God: God as expressed to him in the person of Christ.

2. Devotion to the Divine service. Love expresses itself in obedience to the Divine commands. It is the test he has imposed. Christians recognise the supreme right of Christ to govern their lives. Their new nature makes it a willing service. Not the service of the slave, nor even of the hireling, but of the child. All the soldiers in Christ's army are volunteers; nor does he acknowledge enforced and unwilling service as rendered to him at all.

3. Observance of Divine ordinances. The Sabbath has been observed from the beginning, &c.

Inclusion in the Gospel covenant is open to all who are thus willing to place themselves in spiritual connection with Christ.

II. IN RELATION TO RELIGIOUS WORSHIP.

"For mine house shall be called a house of prayer for all people." There is something exceedingly interesting and attractive in the idea of a common centre of religious worship for man. The temple was the centre for the Jewish people. They made it more or less exclusive. Contrary to the law (Num ). But under the Christian dispensation there must be no exclusion. The Christian sanctuary, as representing the dispensation, must be open to all comers. The attitude of those who belong to it, should be that of those who are prepared to give a kindly welcome to the stranger, and a kindly invitation to those who are wandering without a spiritual home.

While the intercourse between God and His children must, for the most part, be sacredly private, public worship is a necessity. On the part of the worshippers it becomes a mutual encouragement and strength, as well as an open testimony for God to the world. It is a commanded duty, which has been practised by godly people in all periods. It is the subject of many special promises. It exerts a gracious influence on such as engage in it; soothing the perturbed spirit, comforting the troubled heart, elevating the soul too apt to be lowered by the world's influence, and purifying the heart by communion with the Holy One. Let all such as desire to come into God's covenant regard His house as their home. It is the one place in the world where all of every race, every rank, every peculiarity of personal characteristic may meet on equal terms and with equal rights.

III. IN RELATION TO RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGES.

There is no distinction in the measure of spiritual blessedness awarded; no classes of inner and outer court worshippers. There is no distinction but such as persons make for themselves. Let any one join himself to the Lord and thus put himself in the requisite spiritual position, and then all the blessedness of the Gospel is open to him.

1. Church communion. The sacred mountain of Moriah, the scene of so many exhibitions of God's grace, shall become the house of the stranger. Why do so many who love the Saviour under-estimate the fellowship of His saints?

2. Spiritual enjoyment. Religion not dull and melancholy. It is a pure joy congenial to the sanctified soul.

3. Divine acceptance. As the sacrifice of the spotless lamb, so the sacrifices of praise and prayer.

Let us all come into the Divine covenant. Value its privileges. Diffuse its blessings.—J. Rawlinson.

The text—

I. Holds out universal encouragement to man.

1. By the transfer of the priesthood from Aaron to Christ.

2. By the change of sacrifice. From the blood of bulls and of goats to the precious blood of the Son of God.

3. By the removal of place. From Jerusalem to the temple of the universe,

4. By a change of worship. From ritual to spiritual. What an encouraging prospect (Eph , &c).

II. Inculcates universal piety.

Piety in heart and practice. The duties here enumerated may-be divided into three classes.

1. Those which relate to Christ, expressed by taking hold of His covenant—accepting—agreeing to it.

2. Those which relate to God as the Governor of the world. His servants—walk by His laws—keep His Sabbaths.

3. Those which relate to the Church.

III. Promises universal happiness.

1. Access to heaven. There was near approach to God, through the high priest, under the law. Yet more especially is this the case through Christ, the great High Priest of our profession.

2. Joyfulness in His service. In the use of every Divine ordinance they shall find rich satisfactions and delights (Isa ). Praise shall rejoice their spirits. In psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs they make melody in their hearts unto the Lord. Prayer opens heaven in the exhaustlessness of its store, and satisfies them with good. Holy thoughts in conversing with the Supreme. Such meditation of God is sweet.

3. The Divine acceptance of their religious engagements.

Application.—What encouragement to all men to worship God, and serve Him in sincerity and in truth! But how do you really view the Gospel? Are you seeking to realise these high privileges, or are you only making a profession of religion? Ponder these weighty matters. Take hold of the covenant of the Redeemer, &c.—Richard Watson: Sermons and Outlines, pp. 305-307.

In the Gospel we behold a beautiful intermixture of doctrine, promise, and precept, by means of which the performance of evangelical worship is rendered at once a reasonable and delightful service. As sinners, we ought not to have been surprised if we had had fewer promises to render the worship of God inviting; but in the Gospel every means is employed to render devotional exercises a welcome relief to the mind; we are drawn, not driven; we are taught to consider the sanctuary of religion not only as a place of refuge, but as a place of rest; and instead of being compelled to lay hold of the horns of the altar as a last resource, the only hiding-place from the avenger of blood, we are taught to view it under the endearing character of the house of our Father, and consequently as our proper and our peaceful home. Strangers as we have been to God, and enemies to Him by wicked works, it might have been thought a great privilege if we were barely tolerated in our approaches to Him, if our sacrifices were received without disdain; but instead of this, we are welcomed into the presence of the great King, &c. "Even I will bring them," &c.

This promise has a direct reference to Gospel times, and the Jews interpret it of the time when Messiah, the Son of David, should come. There can be no doubt of this, if it is read in connection with the preceding chapter. The special privileges of the Jewish Church were for the most part confined to the members of one family, one nation, one kindred, but the blessings of the Gospel Church are free and unconfined. As the times of the Gospel drew nigh, there was a considerable softening given to the rugged features of the former dispensation—promises were given to the Gentile as well as to the Jew, and provision was made for the stranger within their gates, as well as for the children of Abraham themselves, &c. But it was reserved for the Gospel to abolish these distinctions altogether (Eph , &c.).

I. THE DESCRIPTION OF THE TEMPLE OF RELIGION—a house of prayer, &c. If this description applied to the Jewish temple, how much more to the Christian Church (Heb ). The temple is not a theatre for display, &c., but a house of prayer (1Ti 3:15). In public ordinances prayer should be considered as of first importance. There is everything to encourage prayer—

1. In the temple itself. This was eminently true of the ancient temple—erected not for preaching, but for worship. Everything in the furniture and in the service of the temple to encourage prayer. So in our worship—the day on which we meet, &c.

2. In the character of the Deity who presides in it. Was He not their covenant God, &c.? Do we not view Him under more encouraging titles, &c.? Let us avail ourselves of the privileges, &c.

3. In the circumstances of the worshippers. Were they not a chosen people, &c.? All these meet in our worship? What arguments for prayer from our lost condition, &c.

4. In the comprehensive aspect of our devotions.

II. THE TRUE CHARACTER OF ACCEPTABLE WORSHIPPERS.

It is not enough to be found in the temple, we must sustain the requisite qualifications of worshippers. It is not enough to join a church, &c., but we must possess the leading features of Christ's disciples, else our worship is a mockery, our profession vain. This is evinced—

1. By the spiritual affections which they cherish towards God,—they love Him, they serve Him, they make an open profession of His name. These are fruits which do not grow in nature's wilderness, &c.

2. By the reverence they pay to His institutions. A regard to the Sabbath marked these strangers, and will always mark spiritual Christians. These men would not be found in the temple one part of the day, and in the field another, &c.

3. By their tenacious regard to the great foundations of human hope—God's covenant.

III. THE INVALUABLE PRIVILEGES THEY MAY EXPECT TO ENJOY.

1. They shall be introduced into the visible Church. Every disqualification removed.

2. Their sacrifices and services shall be accepted.

3. Their satisfaction and joy shall abound.—Samuel Thodey.

THE SABBATH

The intimate connection between special privileges and special obligations has been observed in all ages. After the rich promises of Gospel blessings, we find in this chapter a strenuous enforcement of religious observances. A sincere belief of Christian truth will be followed by a faithful performance of Christian duties; for the one has a great influence upon the other. Where the doctrines are not believed, the duties will not be practised. The Sabbath has been regarded as a kind of hedge, or fence, to the whole law.

I. THE SACREDNESS OF THE INSTITUTION OF THE SABBATH.

Here, keeping the Sabbath, and laying hold on the covenant are identical; hence the Jewish doctors spoke advisedly when they declared the institution of the Sabbath to be the condensation and perfection of the whole law.

1. Look back upon the early, or patriarchal Sabbath, beginning with the creation of the world. Think how early it was appointed by God Himself in paradise, for the Sabbath is only one day younger than the creation of the world. The argument is plain, that if man required a Sabbath, when there were only two people in the world, how much more needful has it become when the world is crowded with inhabitants and with temptations to sin. Without such a day, it would have been most difficult for the corrupt nature of man to have maintained the true worship of God in the world. But a seventh day holy to the Lord would distinguish those who called on the name of the Lord, &c.

2. The Jewish Sabbath naturally succeeds the patriarchal, though accompanied by the change of the day to commemorate the departure from Egypt (Exo , and others). The violation of the sanctity of this day was marked by severe penalties, &c.

3. The Christian Sabbath. The real obligation of the Jewish Sabbath could extend no further than the close of that economy; and under the Christian economy we are prepared to expect some further change of the day. How silently this change was brought about! As Christ silently abrogated the Jewish passover by the institution of the Lord's Supper without formally announcing it, so He silently abrogated the seventh-day Sabbath of the Jews, and transferred all its honours and sanctities to the first day of the week, &c.

II. THE SIN OF PROFANING IT—diverting it from a sacred to a common use (see p. 595). It is a sin against—

1. God. Very prevalent.

2. Man.

3. Your own souls.

4. A sin that, persisted in, cannot be repaired.

III. THE BLESSINGS CONSEQUENT UPON ITS SPIRITUAL OBSERVANCE.

1. Temporal.

2. Spiritual.

3. Eternal. (See p. 595).—Samuel Thodey.

THE DIVINE CENTRE

Isa . Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, &c.

The vision of the prophet is twofold in this chapter. He sees the chosen people scattered and gathered—sent into captivity and restored. The vision also enlarges its scope, and the restoration includes the deliverance of the Gentile world from the bondage of sin. To the stranger and the eunuch a promise is made that the final restoration of the race will include them. In spite of Jewish prejudices the larger hope appears, at intervals, in the narrower forms of worship.

I. THE CENTRE OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT.—"My holy mountain, My house of prayer."

1. The worship of the one God demands this. Polytheism, although it had its temples and festivals, had no unity of purpose, but a variety of gods and forms. Where ignorance has grown into superstition, nature's forces have been deified. The one temple at Jerusalem, with its one priesthood, fixed the minds of the people on the one God. The one Calvary, with its one Mediator between God and men, secures the same end. The one sanctuary where you worship from week to week, reminds you that God is one. We hear much in the present day about the beautiful, the songs of birds, the murmurs of the streams, the rustling of leaves, &c., and thus there are so many things to admire—so many gods to worship. Remember that God has hallowed the one place, and put His name there.

2. Concentration of religious thought requires it. It is a matter of grave importance, and of considerable difficulty to worship God in spirit and in truth. For this we need a consecrated spot, pure associations, and spiritual companions. Whatever art may contribute, whatsoever the influence of man may produce, and whatever power there is in numbers, to assist the soul to ascend towards the throne of God in adoration is their greatest service.

3. It is a restfulness which the heart of the Christian longs for. Every Jew had his spiritual home at Jerusalem; every saint rests where his Saviour is worshipped. The child of ten has more hold of this earth than the man of years. Every day unsettles us, except we have a place and a name among the sons and daughters of Sion.

II. THE ACTIVITIES OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT. They are three, arising from the great departments of life.

1. Intellectual. To commune with God is the highest exercise of thought. God's house is the place where mind ascends towards the mind which is in Christ Jesus. It is, above everything, the house of prayer.

2. Moral. There must be burnt-offerings and sacrifices. The moral sense in man cannot approach God except through a sacrifice. The great sacrifice of Calvary is the way to the Father. Jesus is the Priest of the house.

3. Emotional. They are made joyful. They sing songs of deliverance. They enjoy the communion of saints. They are filled with the peace of God. They are accepted in the Beloved. There is gladness of heart where the presence of God is enjoyed. Much more than is at present customary should be the reverence for the sanctuary and its worship.—The Weekly Pulpit, vol. i. p. 120.

THE JOYFULNESS OF GOD'S HOUSE

Isa . I will make them joyful in My house of prayer.

I. The persons to whom the text refers (Isa ).

II. The declaration made.

1. In taking away sadness and its causes. Sin, condemnation, slavish dread, &c.

2. By giving the Spirit of adoption; the evidence of their sonship; the source of their blessedness.

3. By inspiring hopes of the future.

4. By the sanctification of their providential experiences (Rom ). God guiding, protecting, blessing, &c.

III. The special place of this promise of God.

The Tabernacle was God's house—the Temple—every holy synagogue. Now, "Wherever two or three are gathered," &c.

1. Our places of worship belong to God. They are for God, and God dwells in them—meets, communes, sanctifies, and owns.

2. They are pre-eminently houses of prayer. Here God is known as the hearer and answerer of prayer. Here is the true prayer-book to guide our prayers; promises to prayer; the spirit of prayer. Not exclusively hearing, meditating, &c., but prayer pre-eminently.

IV. THE CHARACTER AND CONNECTION OF THIS JOY WITH GOD'S HOUSE OF PRAYER.

1. See the connection with the exercises of this house. Joy and prayer. Joy and the Word. Joy and the ordinances. Joy and the praises. Joy and the blessings. How clear all this! But look at it—

2. In connection with the persons, as well as the exercises. God's people there; God's ministering servants there; God Himself there—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

3. See it in connection with the experiences of this house. Most persons have been enlightened, convicted, converted, sanctified, comforted, fed there, &c.

4. See it in connection with this house and the house above. House of God, the gate of Heaven. Ladder here, angels here, foretaste here. As Mount of Olives to Christ.

CONCLUSION.—

1. The blessedness of true religion. Not gloom and despondency, but "joy"—abundant, Divine, heavenly, everlasting.

2. The preciousness of God's house.

3. The corresponding duties and privileges. "Not forsaking," &c., sustaining, helping, &c. We should bring others with us to share the blessedness. All men desire joyousness of soul, here it is supplied.—J. Burns, D.D.: Sketches, pp. 384-386.


Verse 8

OTHERS TO BE GATHERED

Isa . The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel, &c.

God's work is now that of gathering, &c.

I. ENCOURAGEMENT TO THOSE WHO SEEK THE LORD. Note well the instances mentioned: instances of gathering by the hand of the Lord. Outcasts have been gathered, and this is the token that others shall be gathered.

1. I suppose Isaiah alludes to the banished who had been carried away captive to Babylon and to all parts of the East, but who were at different times restored to their land. God, who brought His people out of Babylon, can bring men out of sin; He who loosed captives from bondage, can liberate spirits from despair, &c.

2. But I prefer to use the text in reference to our Divine Lord and Master, seeing that to Him shall the gathering of the people be. When He was here below He gathered the outcasts of Israel.

(1.) By His ministry (Luk , &c.).

(2.) By forgiving their sins. This brought them nearer still and held them there.

(3.) By graciously helping them. Magdalene, Thomas. Since He gathered to Himself a woman out of whom He cast seven devils, and a man from whom a whole legion were made to flee, why should He not deliver those of you who are under bondage now?

(4.) So as to enrol them under His banner. Levi, when he sat at the receipt of custom. Three thousand souls on the day of Pentecost.

II. THE PROMISE UTTERED.

1. It is very wide. The Gentiles should be called to know the Lord.

2. It is continuous. It was true when Isaiah stated it; it would have been true if Peter had quoted it on the morning of Pentecost. It was quite true when Carey acted upon it, and started on what men thought his mad enterprise, to go as a consecrated cobbler to convert the learned Brahmins of India, and to lay the foundation of Messiah's kingdom there. It is quite as true now.

3. It is most graciously encouraging. It evidently applies very pointedly to outcasts. If not an outcast from society, it may be you are an outcast in your own esteem. How sweetly encouraging this should be to all of you that are sick of yourselves, and sick of your sins! There is no hope elsewhere, but there is hope in Jesus, for He is mighty to deliver, &c. Trust in Him.

4. The promise is absolute. He speaks as a king. This is the kind of language which only an Omnipotent being can use.

III. THE FACTS WHICH SUSTAIN OUR FAITH IN THIS PROMISE. We believe it, whether or no; fact or no fact, to back it up, God's Word is sure; but still this will help some who have but slender confidence.

1. The perpetuity of the Gospel.

2. The blood of atonement has not lost its power.

3. The Spirit of God is with us still.

4. The glory and majesty of the Gospel, or rather the greatness of the glory of God in the Gospel.

5. The longings of the saints.

IV. THE CONDUCT CONSISTENT WITH THIS PROMISE.

1. Let us view this question with reference to God's people. Believe it, and then pray about it. If you pray, you must work, for prayer without endeavour is hypocrisy; expect to see others gathered. Look out for them, and be continually saying, "Where are these others?"

2. Those who have not yet been gathered. They should be encouraged to hope. What God has done for others He can do for you.—C. H. Spurgeon: Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, No. 1437.


Verse 9

THE FLOCK: ITS GUARDIANS AND ITS DEVOURERS

Isa . All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest.

These words are to be understood as a note of warning, a sound of alarm. It is not that God wishes His flock to be devoured that He thus summons the beasts of prey to gather round the fold; on the contrary, He is concerned for their safety, and warns them of the danger in which they stand. So defenceless and unprotected is the flock, that ferocious animals may come and devour as much as they please without resistance or opposition. No style of address was better fitted to startle both flock and shepherds from their careless security. God's flock is still surrounded by ravenous beasts. The Church needs to be on the watch against pernicious doctrines, evil influences, and corrupt practices, that would undermine her faith and rob her of her life. Her enemies are as defiant as ever, and assail her in various forms. It may be well for us, then, to hear and attend to this warning voice.

I. THE UNPROTECTED STATE OF THE FLOCK. The figure employed is familiar to us. A minister is a pastor, i.e. a shepherd, and the people of his charge, a flock. They have been solemnly intrusted to his care, and he is responsible for their spiritual guidance, protection, and support. He is to lead them by the green pastures of Divine truth, and tenderly and lovingly to watch over their highest interests, defending them from harmful influences. In the East, the shepherd has such a genuine interest in his flock that he makes it his constant care. Hence the aptness of the figure. But in the case before us the sheep are shamefully neglected. The fold is open to attack, and the beasts of the field and of the forest have but to come and devour to their hearts' content. Read what follows the text, and you will find the explanation. What could the state of the flock be with such shepherds—careless, indolent, unfaithful, selfish, and sensual? The picture is drawn from the life, and may well be pondered by every minister of the Word. Those who exercise the sacred office may here learn the special sins which they are liable to indulge, the gross faults from which they ought to be entirely free.

There is another use which may be made of this fearful indictment brought against Israel's leaders and teachers. If this shameful neglect of theirs left the flock exposed to the ravages of wild beasts, the opposite course must tend to secure its safety and well-being. Pray, then, for your minister (Eph ; Php 1:19; 2Th 3:1). It is always a cheering reflection that if, through the human weakness and incapacity of the earthly shepherd, the flock does stand exposed to attack at some points, the Chief Shepherd never for a moment intermits His care, and can overrule for blessing the ravages of the destroyer (Eze 34:12-16). The fiercest onsets of the foe will only reveal the almighty power that guards the flock. It is the duty of the Church's overseers to protect their charges, to warn them of possible onsets, and to keep watch at the gate of the fold. If they neglect these precautions, they are only playing into the hands of those who come to devour.

II. THE WILD BEASTS THAT THREATEN TO DEVOUR THE FLOCK.—In the field, in the forest, they growl and rage, watching their opportunity of seizing some stray sheep, or of entering the fold when the gate is left open. In the East several shepherds lead their flocks into the same fold, and intrust them to an under-shepherd or porter, who closes the gate, and remains with them all night. If he be careless, much havoc may be wrought before daybreak (Joh ). We may expect that prowlers will always be hanging about the fold. Scripture itself forewarns us (Act 20:29-30). In all the generations of the past the Church of Christ has been menaced by devourers, and has suffered much from their depradations. Satan goeth about as a roaring lion (1Pe 5:8), but he has numerous assistants and agents in his service. Some are open and undisguised; others are wily and insidious. When the lion, the bear, the wolf are seen in their own proper shape, or are heard growling around the fold, the shepherd has but one course—steady resistance, closed gates. With infidels and agnostics, whose aim is to undermine faith and morals,—with Romanists, who sadly pervert the truth, we can deal only in the way of determined and deathless opposition. But it is otherwise with the second class of assailants. The roaring lion does not always roar to give signal of his approach; sometimes he presents himself as a bright angel of light (1Co 11:13-14). The wolves do not always growl as they rush to the onset; they can come up stealthily in sheep's clothing, so artfully put on that you can scarcely detect the deception. With much show of zeal, and spirituality, these professed friends are really pernicious enemies. They craftily conceal their real principles, until their victim is fairly ensnared. Their aim is "to draw away disciples after them." They do not labour among the careless: their efforts are directed to the subversion of church members. They save themselves the trouble of excavating, by seizing on the stones already quarried and dressed. Laying hold of the young convert, they instil the subtle poison of their pernicious doctrines into his mind.

CONCLUSION.—

1. Neglect not the means of grace. If it be the pastor's duty to feed and warn you, it is your part to heed the warning he may find it necessary to give (1Th ; Heb 13:17; 2Co 1:24).

2. We point you to the Chief Shepherd, who gave His life for the sheep. He can restrain the enemies of the flock (Eze ). He can and will keep His own (Joh 10:27-28). On which side do you find yourselves? In Christ's fold, or among its ravenous spoilers? (Mat 13:30).—William Guthrie, M.A.


Verses 10-12

WORTHLESS SHEPHERDS

Isa . His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, &c.

A very sad description is here given of the "watchmen"—the spiritual leaders of Isaiah's time, evincing a state of lamentable degeneracy and corruption. The language has often been, and still is, descriptive of many shepherds of the flock.

I. Ignorant. Immersed in sin themselves, they were blind to the sins, and wants, and dangers of the people—destitute of spiritual wisdom and discernment (Isa ; Isa 35:5; Isa 42:7; Isa 42:16-19; Isa 43:8, &c.; Jer 3:15). Like the blind guides of the Gospel (Mat 15:14; Luk 6:39, &c.). Ignorance of "the truth as it is in Jesus" is an effectual disqualification for the office. What irreparable evil may be wrought by such blind guides!

II. Indolent. What a graphic and striking description of an indolent ministry. True of many to-day, who act as though hearers were won by idleness (Pro ). Instinct prompts the canine race to act the part which God intends; but, alas! there are men in the ministry whom neither conscience, reason, hope, fear, nor love will rouse to effort to save souls. Instead of acting as faithful watch-dogs, who givewarning of the approach of danger by their barking, they remain apathetic, and utter no warning. It is as if they passed their lives in sleep. What a terrible awakening they will one day experience!

III. Covetous. They keep up the old custom, rejected by the higher prophets as an abuse, of taking fees (Num ; 1Sa 9:7; 1Ki 14:3; 2Ki 5:16; Mat 10:8; Act 8:20; Eze 13:19; Eze 22:25; Mic 3:3). They are "greedy" after gain. All their inquiry is what they shall get, not what they shall do (Php 2:21). They never have enough (Ecc 5:10). They are careful for their dues—tithes, collections, pew-rents, &c., rather than for souls. "Ambitious of preferment for its gold." Yet they are set apart not to promote their own interests, but the welfare and salvation of others. What possible effect for good can their preaching have? They do inconceivable injury to the cause of truth, for it is evident they do not live for their charge, but for themselves.

IV. Intemperate. Given to excess in wine, and to long revels, such as even the heathen considered to be disgraceful (Isa ). One is represented as inviting another to a carouse of two days. Their frailty and mortality little thought of; no dread of the judgment of God, &c. Living only for carnal gratification, they cannot think of making sacrifices for souls. Of all evils, intemperance is most unbecoming to the minister of Christ, and prevents his rebuking vice in others with any practical effect.

Conclusion.—What a humiliation that such men are allowed to remain in the Church! Such shepherds make the Church lifeless and barren. How strikingly in Saint Paul's character are developed the marks of a good shepherd—one that careth for the sheep (Php ; Php 4:1; and others). If such intense yearning characterised all the shepherds of Israel now, what a different Church we should have! We hear much about the reformation of the government; is not the reformation of the ministry more needful? Let the Church, therefore, take the greatest possible care in separating men to this work and office.—A. Tucker.

PROCRASTINATION, OR PRESUMING ON THE FUTURE

Isa . To-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.

There is a marked and melancholy inconsistency between the admissions which men make, and the course of conduct which they pursue. The uncertainty of life is universally granted, yet men think, and talk, and act confidently on the credit of "to-morrow," and, not seldom, of much longer periods. Procrastination is—

I. PAINFULLY COMMON. A very old evil (Exo , and others). We are all more or less guilty of it, for all our purposes and plans reach into a future which will never be ours. Specially manifested in relation to experimental religion. All ages and classes indulge in it. The young look to middle age, the more advanced to the last stage of life, &c. "To-morrow" is the prevailing maxim;—a maxim which few pretend to justify, but on which the vast majority persist in acting; a maxim of which all grant the folly in words, and by the admission condemn their own practice. Men of business often warn the young against the evil in relation to this life, yet act on the principle they condemn respecting interests incomparably more momentous. Strange infatuation! What has been your conduct?

II. SHAMEFULLY UNGRATEFUL. A practical disregard of all the mercy and love of God. The unnumbered blessings of His gracious providence. The richer blessings of His grace in Christ Jesus. The enormity of ingratitude to God. "The ass, after having drunk, gives a kick to the bucket" (Italian). God's greatest miracle is His patience and bounty to the ungrateful.

III. PALPABLY UNREASONABLE.

1. True religion is supremely important. The only source of true happiness; of support amid the trials of life; of peace in death; and of a blissful immortality.

2. Delay increases difficulties. You may not think so; you imagine the future will present more favourable opportunities than the present, &c. But that is manifestly unreasonable, for, owing to the known laws of habit, every day's delay increases the difficulties, &c. Sin gets a firmer hold upon you. Your experience bears witness. If you do not decide to-day, it becomes less likely that you ever will, &c

3. You have no evidence that you will live till to-morrow. You cannot calculate on the future (Pro ). The Gospel may never be preached to you again, &c.

IV. EXCEEDINGLY SINFUL.

1. It encourages others to continue in their sins. Your to-day, is a day of evil example, &c.

2. It robs God of His due—your best affections, &c. Religion is not a mere creed, &c., but an obligation, founded on absolute proprietorship and mediatorial interposition (1Co ).

3. It practically disregards God's commands. Repentance and faith, &c., are immediate duties. "The imperative hath no future tense."

4. It involves the abuse of all the means which God is graciously employing for your salvation. Resisting the strivings of His Spirit, &c.

V. IMMINENTLY DANGEROUS. Danger is always associated with sin. Increases with every day's delay. To-morrow may be for ever too late. "Hell is paved with good intentions." To delay is to court ruin.

CONCLUSION.—Presume not on the patience of God. Do not longer calculate on to-morrow. Yield yourself to God NOW (Heb ; 2Co 6:2; Pro 1:24-31). You will never regret the step. But if you continue to befool yourself, every day will add its weight of guilt and sorrow. The Holy Ghost saith TO-DAY.—A. Tucker.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Isaiah 56:4". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/isaiah-56.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
ADVERTISEMENT
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology