When the people of Ashdod got up early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on his face before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and returned him to his place.
1 Samuel 5:3. (ASHDOD.)
"Nor do we need
I. THE NATURE OF THE EVIL.
1. False and unworthy conceptions of God. The instinct of worship was possessed by the Philistines; but their worship was rendered to a monstrous image, which was wholly destitute of, and opposed to, the perfections of the true God. It is the same with other idolatrous nations. Of the innumerable gods of India it has been said, "What a lie against his supreme majesty! Their number is a lie against his unity; their corporeal nature is a lie against his pure, invisible spirituality; their confined and local residence a lie against his omnipresence and immensity; their limited and subdivided departments of operation a lie against his universal proprietorship and dominion; their follies and weaknesses a lie against his infinite wisdom; their defects, vices, and crimes a lie against his unsullied purity and perfection." "Having no hope, and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12).
3. A downward tendency towards still greater darkness, corruption, and misery. "The true evil of idolatry is this. There is one sole idea of God which corresponds adequately to his whole nature. Of this idea two things may be affirmed, the first being that it is the root of all absolute grandeur, of all truth, and all moral perfections; the second, that, natural and easy as it seems when once unfolded, it could only have been unfolded by revelation; and to all eternity he that started with a false conception of God could not through any effort of his own have exchanged it for the true one. All idolatries alike, though not all in equal degrees, by intercepting the idea of God through the prism of some representative creature that partially resembles God, refract, and splinter, and distort that idea. And all experience shows that the tendency of man, left to his own imaginations, is downwards. Many things cheek and disturb this tendency for a time; but finally, and under that intense civilisation to which man intellectually is always hurrying, under the eternal evolution of physical knowledge, such a degradation of God's idea, ruinous to the moral capacities of man, would undoubtedly perfect itself, were it not for the kindling of a purer standard by revelation. Idolatry, therefore, is not an evil, and one utterly beyond the power of social institutions to redress; but, in fact, it is the fountain of all other evil that seriously menaces the destiny of the human race" (De Quincey, 'Leaders in Lit.,' p. 308).
II. THE MEANS OF ITS OVERTHROW.
1. The proclamation of Divine truth, of which the ark may be accounted a symbol; the revelation of the righteous and merciful purposes of God toward men in his Son Jesus Christ.
2. The operations of Divine providence, by which heathen lands are rendered accessible, and their inhabitants disposed to pay attention to the truth; not only those which are afflictive, but also those which are benign (ver. 6).
3. The influences of the Divine Spirit, by which false systems are shaken as by a "mighty rushing wind," and consumed as with fire, and lost souls are enlightened, purified, and saved. "By my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). He works in silence and secrecy; but the effects of his working become manifest to all. The light of the morning reveals them.
III. THE CERTAINTY OF ITS DOOM; from -
1. The adaptation of the means.
2. The work which has been already accomplished, and which is an earnest of and preparation for "greater things than these."
1. Pity the heathen "in the compassion of Jesus Christ."
2. "Go ye." "Give ye." "Pray ye."
3. Do all in faith and hope. - D.
The cry of the city.
Homilist.There is a hum of the city in its ceaseless activity, a shout in its occasional excitement, a song in its periodic mirth, but a cry in its constant want, distress, pain. Paul heard it at Athens and his "heart was stirred"; Jesus at Jerusalem and "He wept." Do we not hear it in every city, and is not the cry somewhat thus?
I. — I am SENSITIVE and might be TOUCHED WITH TRUTH AND LOVE.
II. — I am RESTLESS and so always SEEKING SOME UNATTAINED GOOD.
III. — I am STRONG and might be POWERFUL FOR GOD AND HUMANITY.
IV. — I am SINFUL and must have RELIGION OR RUIN. Does anyone fail to hear these cries, let him listen to "The Bitter Cry of Outcast London," or gaze sadly at "Horrible London," or pendent "The Politics of the very Poor."
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