Amos 8
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
The figure here employed by Amos comes very naturally from him who had been a gatherer of the fruit of the sycomore tree. But at the same time, it is somewhat of a shock to the reader of this prophecy to find such a similitude employed for such a purpose. Our associations with "a basket of summer fruit" are all agreeable; but here the ripeness is in iniquity, and is unto condemnation and destruction.

I. A PAST PROCESS OF MATURITY IN SIN IS IMPLIED. As the fruit has been ripened during months of growth unto maturity, so the nation of Israel has gradually and progressively come to such a condition as that lamented and censured by the prophet of the Lord.

1. Past privileges have been misused. No nation had been so favoured as the descendants of Jacob; the greater the privileges, the greater the guilt of neglect and abuse.

2. Past warnings have been despised. If the people could not, in the exercise of their own faculties, foresee the end of all their misdeeds, they had no excuse, for prophet after prophet had arisen to rebuke them for unfaithfulness, and to warn them of impending judgment.

3. Past invitations have been unheeded. Often had the messengers of God mingled promises with threats, invitations with censure. But in vain. The voice of the charmer had been disregarded; the tenderness of Divine compassion had been despised. Hence the process of deterioration had gone on. And circumstances which should have ripened the national character into heroic virtue, into saintly piety, had only served to mature irreligiousness and rebellion. Thus the sun and the showers which ripen the corn and the wholesome fruit bring also every poisonous growth to perfection.

II. A SPEEDY PROSPECT OF CONSEQUENT DESTRUCTION IS REVEALED. The ripe fruit speaks not only of the sunshine of the bygone days, but of the consumption which awaits it. In this passage the figurative language of the prophet is to be interpreted as foreboding approaching ruin. "He that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."

1. Perseverance in irreligiousness issues in deterioration of character. The very years, the very privileges, which make the good man better, make the bad man worse. It was so with Israel as a nation. The operation of the same law may be traced in human society today.

2. Perseverance in irreligiousness will, under the Divine government, involve chastisement and punishment. The captivity foretold was to be accompanied by the desolation of the capital and the cessation, or at least the interruption, of national life. "The end is come," saith God, "to my people Israel; The prosperity and superficial peace of the wicked must be brought to a disgraceful close. - T.

Thus hath the Lord God showed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit, etc. The text suggests three general truths.

I. WICKED NATIONS GROW RIPE FOR JUDGMENT. The "basket of summer fruit," now presented in vision to Amos, was intended to symbolize that his country was ripe for ruin. This symbol suggests:

1. That Israel's preset moral corruption was no hasty production. The ripe fruit in that basket did not spring forth at once; it took many months to produce. It came about by a slow and gradual process. Men do not become great sinners at once. The character of a people does not reach its last degree of vileness in a few years; it takes time. The first seed of evil is to be quickened, then it grows, ripens, and multiplies until there is a crop ready for the sickle.

2. That Israel's season for improvement was least and gone. The ripened fruit in that basket had reached a stage in which improvement was impossible. The bloom was passing away, and rottenness was setting in. Nations become incorrigible. The time comes when it may be said - The harvest is past, all cultivation is impossible. What boots your sowing seed under the burning sun of July or August? The fructifying forces of nature will not cooperate with you.

3. That Israel's utter ruin was inevitable. Nothing awaited that "basket of summer fruit" but rottenness. Its decomposition was working, and would soon reduce it to putrescent filth. So it was with Israel.

II. TRUE PROPHETS ARE MADE SENSIBLE OF THIS RIPENESS. God gives Amos a vision for the purpose. "Thus hath the Lord God showed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. And he said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer frail Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel." God always gives his true ministers a clear vision of the subjects of their discourse. This clearness of vision is in truth their call and qualification for their Divine mission. Men, alas! often assume the work of the ministry whose mental vision is so dim that they are unable to see anything with vivid clearness; hence they always move in a haze, and their language is circumlocutory and ambiguous. Amongst the vulgar, those who should be condemned for their obtuseness get credit for their profundity. To every true teacher God says at the outset, "What seest thou?" Hast thou a clear vision of this basket of summer fruit? Hast thou a clear idea of this subject on which thou art about to discourse? Thus he dealt with Moses, Elijah, Daniel, Paul, John.

III. ALMIGHTY GOD MAKES HIS PROPHETS SENSIBLE OF THE RIPENESS OF A PEOPLE'S CORRUPTION IN ORDER THAT THEY MAY SOUND THE ALARM. Why was Amos thus divinely impressed with the wretched moral condition of the people of Israel? Simply that he might be more earnest and emphatical in sounding the alarm. "'The end is come upon my people of Jsrael; I will not again pass by them any more. And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord God: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cut them forth with silence." What was the calamity he was to proclaim?

1. Universal mourning. "The songs of the temple shall be howlings." Where the shouts of mirth and the songs of joy had been heard, there should be nothing but the howlings of distress. The inevitable tendency of sin is to turn songs of gladness into howlings of distress.

2. Universal death. "And there shall be many dead bodies in every place; and they shall cast them forth with silence." The reference is to sword, pestilence, and famine multiplying the dead so rapidly as to render impossible the ordinary decencies and ceremonies at funerals. "Cast them forth with silence."

CONCLUSION. How stands our country? Is not its moral depravity ripening in every direction? Is it not filling up its measure of iniquities, treasuring up wrath against the last day? Does it not become all true teachers to sound the alarm? The time seems past for crying, "Peace and safety." Destruction is at hand; the fields are white for harvest. - D.T.

The occurrence of this expression in such a connection as this is very amazing and very encouraging. Even when, by the mouth of his prophet, the Lord is uttering language of regretful denunciation, the prediction of sore chastisement, he still calls Israel his own! God's ways are indeed higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts.

I. THIS LANGUAGE IN A REMINISCENCE OF PAST ELECTION. God called Israel his people, because he had chosen them from among the nations of the earth, to be the depositary of his truth, the recipients of his Law, the instrument of his purposes among men. As early associations are strong amongst men, as we always retain a tender interest in those whom we have watched over, befriended, and benefited from their childhood, so the Lord represents himself as cherishing kindness for the people whom he had called as it were in their childhood, and nursed into maturity. He did not forget the days "when Israel was a child."

II. THIS LANGUAGE IS PROOF OF PRESENT KINDNESS. He does not say, "Ye were my people;" for they are his people still.

Mine is an unchanging love,
Higher than the heights above;
Deeper than the depths beneath;
Free and faithful, strong as death." Even in carrying out his threats of punishment, Jehovah does not act in anger and vindictiveness. He is the Father chastening the child whom he loveth. He does not abandon the disobedient; he subjects them to discipline which may restore them to submission and to filial love.

III. THIS LANGUAGE IS PREDICTIVE OF FUTURE RECONCILIATION. As long as God says, "My people," there is hope for the future. He has not abandoned; he will not abandon. The city may be razed, but it shall be built again. There shall be captivity; but he deviseth means whereby his banished ones shall return. Wounds shall be healed. The grave shall give up her dead. The wanderer shall return, and shall be clasped to the Father's patient, yearning, rejoicing heart. "My people" are mine forever.

APPLICATION. God in the midst of wrath remembers mercy. When sin is recognized and realized as such, when chastening has answered its purpose, when the disobedient are penitent and the rebellious are submissive, then is there hope. Not in any excellence connected with man's repentance, but in the grace of the Father's heart, in the faithfulness of the Father's promises. Not Israel alone, but mankind at large, are designated by the Eternal "my people." Therefore he who sent his Son to seek and to save that which is lost is described as "the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe." - T.

It was not for heterodoxy in theology, it was not for remissness in ritual, that Amos chiefly reproached the Israelites. It was for injustice, violence, and robbery; it was for seeking their own wealth and luxury at the expense of the sufferings of the poor. Avarice, or undue love of worldly possessions, is a serious vice; covetousness, or the desiring to enrich self at the cost of neighbours, is something very near a crime, for to crime it too often leads.

I. THE MORAL DISEASE OF COVETOUSNESS. The symptoms may differ in different states of society; and there are details in the text which apply rather to the state of society in Samaria of old than to the England of today. But the malady is the same, deep-rooted in the moral constitution of sinful men. This sin is:

1. Injurious to the person who commits it. He who sets his affection upon this world's good, who carries his selfishness so far as to deprive, or even to wish to deprive, his neighbour of what is his - far more he who uses fraud or violence to gratify this desire - is working his own ruin. He is subverting the standard of value, by setting the material above the spiritual. He is dragging his aspirations down from the stars above his head to the dust beneath his feet.

2. Mischievous to society. If all men follow the example of the covetous, and long for the possessions of others, then human society becomes a den of wild beasts bent upon devouring one another, and earth becomes a very hell. Instead of being members one of another, in the case supposed, every man sees an enemy in his neighbour, and seeks his harm. The bonds of society are strained, are even broken.

3. Displeasing to God. In the ten commandments a place was found for the prohibition of this spiritual offence: "Thou shalt not covet." This fact is sufficient to show how hateful is this sin in the eyes of the great Lord and Ruler of all.


1. The recognition of the benevolence and bounty of God. From him cometh down "every good gift and every perfect boon." He is the Giver of all, who openeth his hands, and supplieth the need of every living thing. He who would share the Divine nature must cherish an ungrudging and liberal spirit.

2. The remembrance of the "unspeakable Gift," and of the incomparable sacrifice of the Redeemer. Our Saviour's whole aim was to impart to men the highest blessings, and in the quest of this aim he gave his life for us. His constraining love alone is able to extirpate that selfishness which in human nature is the very root of covetousness.

3. The adoption of the counsels and the submission to the spirit of Christ. It was his saying, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." - T.

Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land. to fail, etc. The prophet here resumes his denunciatory discourse to the avaricious oppressors of the people. The verses may be taken as God's homily to greedy men. "Hear this." Hush! pay attention to what I am going to say. Listen, "ye that swallow up the needy." The words suggest three remarks concerning avarice.


1. It is sacrilegious. "When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat?" Bad as Israel was, it still kept up the outward observances of religion, yet these observances they regarded as commercial inconveniences. In their hearts they wished them away, when they seemed to obstruct their greedy plans. With sacrilegious spirit, they treated religious institutions as worthless in comparison with sordid gain. Avarice in heart has no reverence for religion.

2. It is dishonest. "Making the ephah small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit." It is always overreaching, always cheating; it generally victimizes the poor; it makes its fortunes out of the brain and muscles, the sweat and life, of the needy.

3. It is cruel. "Ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes." Avarice deadens all social affections, steels the heart, and makes its subject utterly indifferent to all interests but its own; it will swallow up, or as some render it, gape after, the needy just as the wild beast pants after its prey. "Greedy men are a generation whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from amongst men" (Proverbs 30:14).

II. IT IS ABHORRENT TO JEHOVAH. "The Lord hath sworn by the Excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their works." Some render the "Excellency of Jacob" the "Pride of Jacob," and suppose the expression to mean that Israel professed to regard him as its Glory; and therefore it is by himself that he swears, for he can swear by no one greater. God observes all the cruelties which avarice inflicts upon the poor. Nothing is more abhorrent to his benevolent nature than covetousness. One of the leading principles in his moral code is, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house," etc. Against no sin did his blessed Son preach more earnestly. "Take heed, beware of covetousness," said he (Luke 12.]5). He closes the gates of heaven against covetousness. "The covetous shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven" (1 Corinthians 6:10).

1. It is repugnant to his nature. His love is disinterested, unbounded love, working ever for the good of the universe. Greed is a hideous antagonist to this.

2. It is hostile to universal happiness. He created the universe in order to diffuse happiness; but greed is against it.

(1) It is against the happiness of its possessor. The soul under the influence of covetousness can neither grow in power nor be gratified in desire. Avarice is an element of hell. It is in truth one of the fiery furies of the soul.

(2) It is against the happiness of society. It prompts men to appropriate more of the common good than belongs to them, and thus to diminish the required supplies of the multitude. It is the creator of monopoly, and monopoly is the devil of social life.

III. IT IS A CURSE TO SOCIETY. See what punishment comes on the land through this! "Shall not the land tremble for this," etc.? Observe:

1. How God makes nature an avenging angel He makes "the land tremble." He "toucheth the hills, and they smoke;" pours out waters as a flood. He can make the world of waters deluge the earth as the overflowing Nile at times inundates the land of Egypt. He can (to use human language) roll back the sun. "I will cause the sun to go down at noon."

2. How God makes a multitude to suffer on account of the iniquities of the few. "And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentations; and I will bring up sackcloth," etc.

CONCLUSION. Avoid covetousness. It is the chief of the principalities and powers of darkness. It may be considered the great fountain whence all the streams of crime and misery flow forth. It is eternally opposed to the virtue and happiness of the universe. The fable of Midas in Grecian mythology is strikingly illustrative of this tremendous evil. Bacchus once offered Midas his choice of gifts. He asked that whatever he might touch should be changed into gold. Bacchus consented, though sorry that he had not made a better choice. Midas went his way rejoicing in his newly acquired power which he hastened to put to the test. He could scarcely believe his eyes when he found a twig of an oak, which he had plucked, become gold in his hand. He took up a stone, and it changed to gold. He touched a sod; it did the same. He took an apple from a tree; you would have thought he had robbed the garden of the Hesperides. His joy knew no bounds; and when he got home he ordered the servants to set a splendid repast on the table. Then he found to his dismay that whether he touched bread, it hardened in his hand, or put a morsel to his lips, it defied his teeth. He took a glass of wine, but it flowed down his throat like melted gold. In utter terror, fearing starvation, be held up his arms shining with gold to Bacchus, and besought him to take back his gift. Bacchus said, "Go to the river Pactolus: trace the stream to its fountainhead; there plunge your head and body in, and wash away your fault and its punishment." Hence Midas learned to hate wealth and splendour. - D.T.

This language is actual truth, although it is based upon and accords with the experience of created intelligences. Memory is one of the primitive endowments of intellect, admitted to be such even by philosophers, who are very loth to admit that the mind of man can possess any such endowments. A man who should never forget would indeed be a marvel, a miracle. But it would be inconsistent with our highest conceptions of God to suppose it possible for anything to escape his memory. In his mind there is, of course, neither past nor future, for time is a limitation and condition of finite intelligence. To the Eternal all is present; all events to him are one eternal now.

I. A GENERAL TRUTH CONCERNING THE DIVINE NATURE AND GOVERNMENT. Nothing is unobserved by God, and nothing is forgotten by him. All men's actions as they are performed photograph themselves indelibly upon the very nature of the Omniscient and Eternal. Nothing needs to be revived, for nothing ever becomes dim.

II. A SOLEMN TRUTH CONCERNING THE CONDUCT AND PROSPECTS OF THE SINFUL. Parents forget the wrong doing of their children, and rulers those of their subjects. Hence many evil deeds escape the recompense which is their due. But Jehovah, who "remembered" (to use the expression necessarily accommodated to our infirmity) all the acts of rebellion of which the chosen people had been guilty, does not lose the record of any of the offences committed by men. On the contrary, they are written "in a Book of remembrance" - a book one day to he unrolled before the eyes of the righteous Judge.

III. A PRECIOUS ASSURANCE CONCERNING THE GOOD PURPOSES AND ACTIONS WHICH GOD DISCERNS AND REMARKS IN HIS PEOPLE. Thus we find saintly men of old in their prayers beseeching the Lord to remember them: "Remember me, O Lord, for good;" "Remember me with the favour thou showest unto thy people." He who said, "I know thy works," who said, "I will never forget any of their works," is a Being to whom we may safely commend ourselves and all that is ours which he himself creates and which he approves.


1. In our confessions let us be frank and open with God, who searcheth the heart, and who forgetteth nothing. It would be folly to suppose that he forgets our sins; it would be wickedness to strive to forget them ourselves. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive."

2. In our prayers for pardon let us bear in mind that there is a sense in which he will "remember no more" the offences of his penitent and believing people. He will treat us as if he had forgotten all our rebellion, and as if he remembered only our purposes and vows of loyalty. - T.

There is something incongruous in this language. Day is the bright and beauteous gift of God, and its sunlight and all the glory it reveals may justly be taken as the emblem of happiness and prosperity. The light is sweet; the day is joyous. Yet here there is depicted a bitter day! The context makes it evident that this is attributable to sin, which makes all sweet things bitter, and all bright things dim.

I. THE BITTER DAY OF ISRAEL CONTRASTS WITH BYGONE DAYS OF SWEETNESS. Festivals and songs are mentioned in the context as distinctive of the religious life of the chosen people. And in times of national plenty and prosperity there had never been wanting abundance and even luxury, mirth and music, festivity and joy. These things have vanished into the past now that the "bitter day" has dawned.

II. THE BITTER DAY OF ISRAEL IS MARKED BY CIRCUMSTANCES OF TERRIBLE DISTRESS. The sun goes down, the land is darkened, mourning and lamentation are heard, sackcloth is worn, the hair is shaved off the heads lately anointed for the banquet and wreathed with flowers; the signs are those of "mourning for an only son." The fallen and wretched condition of the nation could not be depicted more graphically. The prophet artist is skilful to heighten the dark colours which are expressive of Israel's woe.

III. THE BITTER DAY OF ISRAEL IS THE RESULT OF ISRAEL'S SINS. What is called misfortune and calamity is often really punishment. There was nothing accidental in what befell this nation. On the contrary, Israel brought disaster upon itself by unfaithfulness, disobedience, rebellion. As the people had sown, so they were to reap. Under the government of a just God it cannot be otherwise. The fruit of sin cannot be otherwise than bitter.

IV. THE BITTER DAY OF ISRAEL IS SUGGESTIVE OF LESSONS OF WISDOM TO EVERY NATION. The rule of a righteous God is a fact not to be disputed. The retributive consequences of that rule are not to be evaded. Let not the people imagine a vain thing, or the rulers take counsel together against the Lord. - T.

There are many blessings which are not suitably valued until they are withdrawn and missed. It is so with bodily health, with political liberty, with domestic happiness. And the prophet assumes that it will be found the same with the Word of God. When it is possessed - when the Scriptures are read and the Gospel is heard - it is too often the ease that the privilege is unappreciated. But what must it be to be shut off from all communication with Heaven! And such, it was foretold, was to be the lot of Israel in the days of retribution and calamity which were about to overtake Israel

I. THE WORDS OF GOD ARE TO THE SOUL AS BREAD AND WATER TO THE BODY. Man's bodily constitution is such that food and drink are a necessity to health and even to life; to be even partially starved is to be disabled and to be rendered wretched. Even so, the truth, the righteousness, the love of God, are the necessary aliment of the spiritual nature. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Fellowship with God by his Word is indispensably necessary in order that a high, holy, and acceptable service may be rendered.


1. If the knowledge of God himself be withheld, there is for man no solution of all the mysteries of the universe, the mysteries of his being.

2. If the Law of God be concealed, there is no sufficient guide through human life.

3. If the gospel of Christ be withheld, there is no peace for the conscience, no sufficient inspiration for duty, no assurance of immortality.

4. If revelation be denied, there is no power, no principle sufficient to guide and to govern human society. (Vide 'The Eclipse of Faith,' by the late Henry Rogers, where a chapter "The Blank Bible," sets forth the consequences which may be supposed to follow upon the disappearance of the Holy Scriptures.)

III. THOSE WHO POSSES THE WORD OF GOD SHOULD BY THESE CONSIDERATIONS BE INDUCED TO STUDY IT AND TO USE IT ARIGHT. Neglect of the Divine Word may not in our case entail the actual deprivation foretold in the text. But it certainly will entail an indifference and insensibility to the truth, which will be equally injurious and disastrous. Now the Word is ours; let us listen to it with reverence and faith; let us obey it with alacrity and diligence. "Walk in the light while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you." - T.

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord, etc. The Israelites now despised the message of the prophets, and by a just retribution, in addition to all their other calamities, they should experience a total withdrawal of all prophetic communications. In whatever direction they might proceed, and whatever efforts they might make to obtain information relative to the issue of their trouble, they should meet with nothing but disappointment. The subject of these words is soul famine, and they suggest three general remarks.

I. THAT THE PROFOUNDEST WANT OF HUMAN NATURE IS A COMMUNICATION FROM THE ETERNAL MIND. This is implied in the Divine menace of sending a worse famine than the mere want of bread and water. They were special communications from himself, not the ordinary communications of nature, that Jehovah here refers to. And man has no greater necessity than this; it is the one urgent and imperial need. Two great questions are everlastingly rising from the depths of the human soul

1. How does the Eternal feel in relation to me as a sinner? Nature tells me how he feels in relation to me as a creature; but nature was written before I fell.

2. How am I to get my moral nature restored? I have a sense of guilt that is sometimes intolerable; the elements of my nature are in eternal conflict; I have sadly terrible forebodings of the future. Now, the special Word of God can alone answer these questions. These are the problems of men the world over. God's Word is to the human soul what food is to the bodythat which alone can strengthen, sustain, and satisfy. But as the soul is of infinitely greater importance than the body, the Divine Word is more needed than material food.

II. THAT THE GREATEST DISEASE OF HUMAN NATURE IS A LACK OF APPETITE FOR THIS COMMUNICATION. Which is the greater want of the body - the want of food, or the want of appetite for food? The latter, I trow, for the latter implies disease. It is so with the soul. The vast majority of souls have lost the appetite for the Divine Word. They are perishing, shrivelling up, for the lack of it. The desire is gone. They die, not for the want of the food, but for the want of appetite. As a rule, the starvation of souls is not for the lack of food, but for the lack of appetite. The worst of this disease is

(1) men are not conscious of it;

(2) it works the worst ruin.

III. THAT THE GREATEST MISERY OF HUMAN NATURE IS A QUICKENED APPETITE AND NO SUPPLIES. "They shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord, and shall not find it."

1. The appetite will be quickened sooner or later. Sometimes - would it were ever so! - it is quickened here, where supplies abound. Hear Job's cry, "Oh that I knew where I might find him!" And hear Saul's cry at Endor, "Bring me up Samuel." Oh for one word from his lips, one loving sentence from the mouth of the great Father! "Bring me up Samuel"

2. When the appetite is quickened and there is no supply, it is an inexpressible calamity. Such a period will come. "The days shall come," says Christ, "when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it" (Luke 17:22). And again, "Ye shall seek me, and not find me: for where I am, thither ye cannot come" (John 7:34). Oh miserable state of immortal souls, to be crying to the heavens, and those heavens to be as hard as brass! - D.T.

They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy god, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall, and never rise up again. "The sin of Samaria" means the idolatry of Samaria. In Samaria they worshipped the golden calf as the chief object; but it would seem there were other inferior idols. The god of Dan was the golden calf sot up by Jeroboam in Dan (1 Kings 12.). "The fulfilment," says Delitzsch, "of these threats commenced with the destruction of the kingdom of Israel and the carrying away of the ten tribes into exile in Assyria, and continues to this day in the case of that portion of the Israelitish nation which is still looking for the Messiah, the Prophet promised by Moses, and looking in vain because they will not hearken to the preaching of the gospel concerning the Messiah who appeared as Jesus." The words suggest a thought or two in relation to religious sincerity.

I. THAT RELIGIOUS SINCERITY IS NO PROOF OF THE ACCURACY OF RELIGIOUS CREED. These Israelites seem to have been sincere in their worship of the golden calf; "they swore by it." That dumb idol to them was everything. To it they pledged the homage of their being. Yet how blasphemously erroneous, how contrary to the expresss mandate of Jehovah, "Thou shalt have none other gods but me"! How contrary to the dictates of common sense and all sound reasoning! Idolatry, in every form and everywhere, is a huge falsehood. Hence sincerity is no proof that a man has the truth. There are millions of men in all theologies and religions, who are so sincere in believing lies, that they will fight for their lies, make any sacrifice for their lies, die for their lies. Error, perhaps, can number more martyrs than truth. Saul of Tarsus was sincere when he was persecuting the Church and endeavouring to blot the name of Christ from the memory of his age. "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth," etc. (Acts 26:9). Hence sincerity is not necessarily virtuous. A man is sincere when he is faithful to his convictions; but if his convictions are unsound, immoral, ungodly, his sincerity is a crime. The fact that thousands have died for dogmas is no proof of the truth of their dogmas.

II. THAT RELIGIOUS SINCERITY IS NO PROTECTION AGAINST THE PUNISHMENT THAT FOLLOWS ERROR. "They shall fall, and never rise up again." The sincerity of the Israelites in their worship in Bethel and at Dan prevented not their ruin. There are those who bold that man is not responsible for his beliefs - that so long as he is sincere he is a truthful man, and all things will go well with him. In every department of life God holds a man responsible for his beliefs. If a man takes poison into his system, sincerely believing that it is nutriment, will his belief save him? Error leads evermore to disappointment, confusion, and oftentimes to utter destruction. To follow error is to go away from reality; and to leave reality is to leave safety and peace.

CONCLUSION. Whilst there is no true man without sincerity, sincerity of itself does act make a man true. When a man's convictions correspond and square with everlasting realities, then his sincerity is of incomparable world. - D.T.

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